August 20, 2004

DEVASTATING

In testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 1971, John Kerry smeared his fellow American troops in Vietnam as war criminals. Here's a new ad about several American POWs and their response to Kerry's run for the White House.

It's devastating.

And there's no argument here about what happened, who said what, or who did what. Kerry smeared his "band of brothers." His smears were picked up and used by the North Vietnamese Communist forces who held Americans captured during the war. Kerry's words were a gift to the Communists, and poured salt in the wounds of the American prisoners.

There's no way to spin it otherwise, unless Kerry wants to come out again and assert that his fake Winter Soldier veterans were telling the truth--that Vietnam was one gigantic war crime--all those years ago. If he does that, he'll get smacked down hard. Many of the Winter Soldier aligations have fallen apart since Kerry's days with the Vietnam Veterans Against the War outfit.

Does Kerry want to smear American troops again? He'll certainly smear these former POWs, just like he's smearing the Swifties. He'll put out Brown Books on them, just like the ones he has put out on the Swifties. And he'll do what he can to silence them with his lawyer army. But does he want to go back and smear everyone who served in Vietnam, again? Is he that cruel and remorseless?

Posted by B. Preston at 05:27 PM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

WHO'S THE BOOK BURNER NOW, MISTER?

Howard Dean likes to go around calling Republicans "book burners."

When Viacom launched its multimedia assault on the Bush administration earlier this year, and when Michael Moore produced a film that amounted to enemy propaganda, not one single Republican anywhere advocate banning or burning any of the many books that made up that assault, or banning the Moore crockumentary. Not one. Anywhere.

But now that John Kerry is under assault from one lone book and a $150k ad campaign, it's the Kerry camp that is suing the ad's creators, smearing the book's authors--and now calling for the the book itself to be banned.

I'll leave it to readers to decide who best matches the description of "book burner."

Posted by B. Preston at 08:55 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

JOHN KERRY LETS OUTSIDE GROUPS DO HIS "DIRTY WORK"

The man who directly smeared his "band of brothers" as war criminals in 1971 can't just come out and smear those guys again, now that they oppose his run for the White House. So what does he do? He gets outside groups to do the smearing for him.

Fortunately for him, those outside groups consist of the Washington Post and the New York Times, along with MoveOn.org and George Soros' other minions around the web.

Fortunately for us, Ed Morrissey is alreay fact-checking the Times.

MORE: Another of those "outside groups" is MSNBC. Michelle Malkin deserves a medal for putting up with Chris Matthews. I'd have decked him.

This is just racism. So is this. Why is "self-loathing" for a woman of Filippino extraction to write a book about interning Japanese people? Would someone of the left persuasion care to explain that to me? Or do you and all of you Oliver Willis types think "they all look alike?"

It might have occurred to leftists to construct a better race-based argument against Malkin's book (which I still haven't read, because it hasn't arrived yet), because one's available--but you'd actually have to know some history to construct it. One could, if one was informed and wanted to smear Malkin in an intellectually consistent way, construct an argument against her internment book as an attack based on inter-Asian racism of Filippinos against Japanese for the latter's imperial history. Inter-Asian racism? It's alive and well, baby, as anyone who knows anything about Asian cultures is surely aware. Do a little research and find out how the Chinese government typically describes Japan, for instance.

Not that I think inter-Asian racism is what's going on with Malkin's book. Not by a long shot. I haven't read the book. How would I know?

But to describe her as self-loathing, as Willis does, when there isn't a drop of Japanese blood in her is to display ignorance of the subject.

UPDATE: Michelle's book arrived this afternoon. I plan on burying myself in it over the weekend.

Posted by B. Preston at 08:17 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

August 19, 2004

SWIFT RESPONSE

The out-of-the-mainstream media still haven't touched the Christmas in Cambodia story. The WaPo finally does manage today to talk about the Swift Boat guys, but only to try and debunk one of them. The Post goes to some lengths to produce this story--obtaining records via FOIA and so forth--yet the best it can do is take a sidelong swat at one of the 250+ Swifties who dispute John Kerry's version of his four glorious months preliving Apocalypse Now. Weak, very weak. Has the Post submitted a FOIA, or any inquiry at all, to get any of Kerry's records released for examination by someone other than "historian" Douglas Brinkley?

And still nothing about Cambodia and Kerry's seared--seared--memory of not having been there when he said he was, if he was ever there at all. Nothing at all about that. Howard Kurtz, care to comment? Doesn't anyone in the press have any questions about that lucky hat?

For the record, the Swiftie the Post went after has responded, and he's convincing. He has a Bronze Star thanks to Kerry's after action report, so it's in his interest to back up Kerry's story if there's a shred of truth to it. And he's not backing it up at all.

The media is doing its best to keep Kerry competitive. If any of Kerry's buffoonery and lying manages to make it into the public consciousness, he's toast. A friend of mine described Kerry thus: Pick any issue and examine Kerry's stands and he comes out looking like a fish on a hot sidewalk, just flipping about hopelessly gasping for air. The vast majority of the voting public isn't paying attention to all of Kerry's flopping around, though, and the media is doing its best to conceal pretty much every unattractive quality he exudes--a full-time job in itself. Evan Thomas said, in his "the media wants Kerry to win" confession, that media fawning will be worth about 15 points for Kerry in the election. I think Kerry already has those 15 points today, because if the media bothered to vet him with anything like the scrutiny it aims at Bush, this race wouldn't even be close.

UPDATE: Why did the WaPo bother to submit FOIA requests when the DNC already had character-assassinating Brown Books on the Swifties readied to fire?

(thanks to Chris)

Posted by B. Preston at 03:37 PM | Comments (18) | TrackBack

FACT-CHECKING KERRY

Not-JFK really is becoming a parody of a real political candidate. The man never shows up for his job, which is being a US senator. It's a nice job, pays well, buys respect, lends gravitas, probably offers good parking--and he never shows up. And not just in the past year or so while he's been campaigning for the White House, but during the past decade or so.

What's he been doing with all that time off?

That's a good question, but not the topic of this post. The topic of this post is that the Bush people have put out an ad that says, though not in so many words, Kerry should be fired for abandoning his present job and a promotion to the next rung would be to reward an irresponsible derelict. Specifically, the ad cites Kerry's attendance at Senate Select Committee on Intelligence hearings--of which the ad states Kerry has missed more than three-fourths. That's relevant because Kerry keeps running around saying he'd run the war better than Bush--yet he can't be bothered to deal with little matters like intelligence and national security in his current job. There's a parable about being responsible in small things relating to being entrusted with bigger things that the newly religious Kerry should absorb at some point.

The Kerry people responded that Bush was using fuzzy math or some such in the attendance ad, and that his attendance was better than a paltry and pathetic 24 percent. It had to be, right? That kind of attendance is worthy of a frat boy phys ed major at a community college--not a senator who wants to oust a president.

So the FactCheck.org people took a look at, well, the relevant facts to be checked. Their post on the subject is priceless. You owe it to yourself to read the whole thing, especially the Q&A with Senator Pat Roberts, Chairman of the Committee.

Here's a little bit of another part to pique your interest:

The Bush ad also says Kerry was absent for every single Intelligence Committee meeting during the year "after the first terrorist attack on the World Trade Center." That's true. The official records list four public hearings in 1994 -- the year after terrorists set off a truck bomb in the Trade Center's underground garage -- and Kerry is listed as attending none of them.

And that guy wants to be president? I'd sooner pick the next CINC out of the Topeka phonebook than vote for him.

Posted by B. Preston at 02:51 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

THEY CALL HIM FLIPPER...

What does John Kerry think about the Bush admin's plan to reorient our global military footprint away from Europe and South Korea? It depends on whom he's addressing:

On Monday, during a speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars, President Bush announced that he intends to modify the configuration of American forces in both South Korea and Europe. On Wednesday, Sen. Kerry, speaking before the same audience, sharply criticized the president's decision.

Appearing on ABC's This Week on August 1, however, Sen. Kerry responded to a question by host George Stephanopoulos on Iraq. Stephanopoulos asked Kerry whether, as president, he could "promise that American troops will be home by the end of your first term?" Kerry's answer:

"I will have significant, enormous reduction in the level of troops. . . . I think we can significantly change the deployment of troops, not just there but elsewhere in the world. In the Korean peninsula perhaps, in Europe perhaps. There are great possibilities open to us. But this administration has very little imagination."

That man simply has no moral core, no compass beyond expediency to guide his decision-making. He is, as the Swifties say, unfit for command.

Posted by B. Preston at 09:58 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

YANKEE (DON'T) GO HOME

(via InstaPundit)

Posted by B. Preston at 07:58 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 18, 2004

THE JYB'S PERSONNEL SERVED

Both in the Air Force, same years--1993 to 1997. Stationed on opposite sides of the world. For what it's worth, Chris outranked me by a long shot.

Why am I telling you this? Because Backcountry Conservative is making a list of all bloggers who served, that's why.

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

TOM HARKIN'S "ABU GHRAIB" SCANDAL

Just as John Kerry made his name in politics after Vietnam by turning on the very soldiers he served with, Tom "Stolen Valor" Harkin first made his name by instigating a war prison scandal in South Vietnam. Using photos from inside Con Son prison, he ultimately provided the wartime propaganda model that Don Hewitt, 60 Minutes the rest of the media used in obsessing over Abu Ghraib. I'm sure there are other sources out there for the info, but this is a good summary from an anti-Communist perspective:


Harkin first came to national attention in 1970 when, as a staff aide to the House Select Committee on United States Involvement in Southeast Asia, he accompanied a fact-finding mission to South Vietnam and worked with two radically leftist committee members to develop sensational charges regarding so-called "tiger cages" being used at the Con Son prison complex in South Vietnam. The alleged mistreatment of the pro-Marxist and terrorist prisoners in the "tiger cages" was effectively propagandized to undermine sympathy in the U.S. for the government of South Vietnam at a crucial point in that nation’s struggle against Communist aggression and subversion. Subsequent investigation revealed that the conditions at the prison, and the charges leveled by Harkin, were grossly exaggerated.

The infamous "tiger cage" incident was bolstered by photographs taken by Harkin during a half-hour "investigation" of prison conditions. He subsequently refused to turn the photographs over to the House committee on grounds that he had "a higher obligation to those 500 human beings who are jammed in those cages." He then sold them to Life magazine for a reported $10,000. Harkin even granted an interview to the Daily World, official newspaper of the Communist Party, USA, in which he made additional charges regarding the prison situation in South Vietnam. The Red propaganda organ promptly put them to good use in its own campaign to enhance the Communist position in Southeast Asia by undermining the Saigon government.


I'm not sure if Tom Harkin is still as celebrated as John Kerry in Vietnam War Museums, but I wouldn't be surprised. Maybe that's causing the confusion in the current debate over Kerry's record. If guys like Kerry and Harkin claim to be war heroes, but never specify which side saw them as critical to victory, are they still lying?

Posted by Chris Regan at 09:02 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

BRONCO FANS FOR BUSH

Interesting unscientific poll on presidential preference, showing a steady and heavy support for Bush. Bronczilla's Tom Schaller says he's been watching it for a while, and Bush support has held steady at 62%, give or take.

One could argue that because it's a Broncos site, and the Broncos are in Colorado, and Colorado is a GOP state, the polls respondents are self-selectingly GOP leaners. Perhaps. But the site's voters aren't limited to Colorado. One could also argue that since the poll attracts Broncos fans, they're football fans and therefore for the most part male, and men tend to support Bush over Kerry. That's what I think is going on. A friend of mine and I have a saying--"Real men can't vote for Kerry." I stand by that saying--Kerry is a weirded-out Carteresque wuss imho, with a tendecy to offer up lame childish excuses and "nuance" instead of just saying what he thinks and standing by that no matter where the chips fall. And though the media loves to play up the GOP's "gender gap" with respect to women, it's a fact that the Democrats have an even larger "gender gap" with men. That gap is likely to be larger this year than it was in 2000, since men tend to support the war fairly strongly. In fact, that gender gap combined with the post-911 "security mom" phenomenon could give Bush as much as a 5 point win this year. I wouldn't bank on it yet, but I don't think that kind of margin of victory is out of the question.

Posted by B. Preston at 04:20 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

EUNUCH HYPOCRITES

Unbelievable, galling, appalling hypocrisy emanating from the European Union (their links from outside don't work, so just search on "Magal" once you're there to read the whole story):

After European representatives launched a campaign against Israel's separation fence, and voted against Israel at the UN general assembly, the EU is planning a separation fence of its own. The EU plans to build a fence to separate its new members - Poland and Hungary - from its new neighbors - Russia, Belarus and Ukraine - to prevent the free movement of migrants seeking to enter the EU.

So let's get this straight. Israel gets EU condemnation heaped upon it for building a fence to keep out terrorists whose sole puropse is murder, but that very same EU then erects its own fence to keep out illegal aliens whose purpose seems to be to take low-wage jobs? Unbelievable.

(thanks to JG-EBGD)

Posted by B. Preston at 02:55 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

'TIME BOMBS WITHIN AMERICA'

Fresh from threatening Australia, Iran is threatening the United States:

A report on May 28 in Al-Sharq Al-Awsat reported that an Iranian intelligence unit has established a center called “The Brigades of the Shahids of the Global Islamic Awakening.”The paper claimed that it had obtained a tape with a speech by Hassan Abbassi, a Revolutionary Guards intelligence theoretician who teaches at Al-Hussein University. In the tape, Mr. Abbassi spoke of Tehran’s secret plans, which include “a strategy drawn up for the destruction of Anglo-Saxon civilization.” In order to accomplish this, he explained,“There are 29 sensitive sites in the U.S. and in the West. We have already spied on these sites and we know how we are going to attack them.”

---

“Time bombs within America” is how Iranian lawmaker Hamid-Reza Katoziyan described Muslims within America, who could be behind future terrorist attacks here. Speaking on Iranian TV channel Jaam-E-Jam 2 on July 27, Mr. Katoziyan warned: “The whole group of people belonging to the Arab community and…Muslims living in the U.S. are currently, in my opinion, in a special situation. Perhaps they do not walk the streets with weapons in their hands or attach bombs to themselves in order to carry out a suicide operation, but the thought is there.”

Michelle, over to you...

Posted by B. Preston at 12:49 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

STOLEN VALOR

A big problem issue may be brewing for Kerry and the Democrats, namely, military resume puffing and padding. When you think of stolen valor, you tend to think of non-veterans who show up at military funerals wearing full dress uniform and sporting a chest full of medals they couldn't possibly have earned. Or you may think of true veterans who wear medals they never earned, figuring no one will ever call them on it. The crime, at least in the funeral version, is serious enough that the FBI investigates instances, and is foul enough that pretty much every legitimate veteran thinks anyone who pepetrates this crime is lower than pond scum.

Though my own military resume is quite average, I personally think stolen valor criminals should be locked up for very long periods of time. Their actions in some way steal from the rest of us, even those of us who only won one or two medals during our peacetime service. What they steal from legitimate war heroes--think Audie Murphy--is beyond comprehension.

Back to Kerry, we already have the Christmas in Cambodia myth, debunked and destroyed by the blogosphere even while the media barely acknowledges anything. Also on Kerry, we have serious questions about one of his Purple Hearts. I'll let Doug Payton fill you in on the details:

There's a new member of the group "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth". John Kerry.

A previously unnoticed passage in John Kerry's approved war biography, citing his own journals, appears to contradict the senator's claim he won his first Purple Heart as a result of an injury sustained under enemy fire.

Kerry, who served as commander of a Navy swift boat, has insisted he was wounded by enemy fire Dec. 2, 1968, when he and two other men took a smaller vessel, a Boston Whaler, on a patrol north of his base at Cam Ranh Bay.

But Douglas Brinkley's "Tour of Duty," for which Kerry supplied his journals and letters, indicates that as Kerry set out on a subsequent mission, he had not yet been under enemy fire.

If he hadn't yet been under enemy fire, his first Purple Heart is bogus. It's that simple. We really need Kerry's military records to clear these questions up now, but there is to date no media clamor for them to be released.

Now, turning from Kerry, we have Senator Tom Harkin. Harkin has claimed over the years to have engaged MiGs over Vietnam. Turns out he was a ferry pilot who moved decrepit aircraft around for repair. He never saw combat at all.

This is serious stuff. When I joined the Air Force, we were still technically engaged in the Gulf War. I have the National Defense Service Medal to prove it, since that medal is pretty much awarded anyone who joins the military while it is engaged in action anywhere in the world. By Harkin's reckoning--he called himself a "Vietnam vetaran" though he was stationed in Japan and flew most of his planes to the Philippines--I'm a "Gulf War veteran." Even though I joined two years after the war and never set foot in the Middle East, and I certainly never saw combat.

Which is why I'll never, ever call myself a "Gulf War vet." To do so would be a lie. And it would demean the very concept of what really constitutes and describes a Gulf War vet. Gulf War vets earned the respect that goes with that description; to claim to be one when I'm not dishonors them.

This is only coming to light because Harkin described Dick Cheney as a "coward" for not serving in Vietnam, and after Cheney ridiculed Kerry's "sensitive war" nonsense. Harkin should learn that lesson about glass houses and throwing stones. His service was no more dangerous, and in fact arguably less dangerous, than that of George W. Bush. He appears to have tossed out a stone that was shaped like a boomerang and that boomerang has just taken out a plate glass window, in the end reminding all of us that Harkin is yet another Democrat resume puffer and valor thief.

MORE: Heh. Glenn Reynolds is a bad man--a veddy, veddy bad man.

Posted by B. Preston at 12:31 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

KEYES IS CRAZY, METEOR HITS UNLUCKIEST WOMAN ON EARTH, AND DON'T STEAL CHINESE ARTIFACTS

I used to think well of Alan Keyes. Now I think he's lost his mind.

Keyes proposed that for a generation or two, African-Americans of slave heritage should be exempted from federal taxes--federal because slavery "was an egregious failure on the part of the federal establishment."

* * *

The former ambassador said his plan would give African-Americans "a competitive edge in the labor market," because those exempted would be cheaper to hire than federal tax-paying employees and would "compensate for all those years when your labor was being exploited."

Keyes has discussed reparations before with statements that seem to contradict Monday's comments.

Yup. He's nuts. Even his Democrat opponent, Barack Obama, talked a better game.

---

What are the odds?

Pauline Aguss, 76, was hanging out her washing last week when she received the mysterious cut.

At first the only explanation was her peg bag but, husband Jack was unconvinced and later found a small brown metallic rock, no bigger than a walnut, in the garden – which had the markings of a meteorite.

On average one meteorite falls every week to earth, and the last significant find in the UK was in 1991 in Peterborough. According to experts, no one has ever been hit by one.

But given the metallic colour and visible crystals on the rock, Neil Bone, director of the meteor division at the British Astronomical Association, said he could not rule out the possibility that the Lowestoft find was genuine.

---

If you're a Chinese museum employee, whatever you do, don't steal anything. Just don't.

BEIJING - An official once in charge of guarding cultural relics has been sentenced to death in China's biggest antiquities theft case since the start of communist rule in 1949.

Li Haitao was convicted of stealing 259 objects, some of them national treasures, from an imperial villa in Chengde, a city north of Beijing, the official Xinhua News Agency reported Tuesday.

Li was sentenced Friday by a court in Chengde, where he was security chief for the city's Cultural Relics Bureau, the report said.


Posted by B. Preston at 12:10 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

OLYMPIC TALES

Last night, as I was atoning for years of football watching, I witnessed a waiflike Chinese girl flipping about on the parallel bars. She couldn't have weighed more than a dozen pounds. She couldn't have been more than three feet tall. And she couldn't have been more of a dominating flip-machine on those bars.

I said aloud: "She's amazing. I wonder why the Chinese team doesn't do better in this," the "this" being team Olympic gymnastics.

As if in answer to my very thought, the Chinese gymnast let go of the top bar, did about a dozen twisting flips in the air, and landed squarely on her face.

"Oh. I guess that's why." My wife just let out a scoffing huff, as though of course she'd expected the Chinese girl to land in just that way the entire time.

While watching That Sport that Nearly All Men Avoid Like the Bubonic Plague, NBC was kind enough to show highlights of fencing duels. The typical American role in that sport is to serve as pincushions for annoying competitors with names like Guy and Antoinnette. Not so this year, though. Americans took home the gold and silver in women's fencing. First time in a hundred years.

If you missed it or haven't seen fencing, at the Olympic level it consists of two people who appear to be charged up on Red Bull trying to whack each other with very long and very thin metal toothpicks. They don't appear to be trying to jab each other; it looks more like they're trying to swat each other at close range. They hop backwards a forwards a lot, swinging those metal toothpicks at each other, and when one fencer's helmet lights up that means the other fencer has scored a legal touch. But you can be forgiven if you missed when and how that touch occurred, since the toothpicks (called "foils") tend to move at about 400 miles per hour. Fencing is a very, very fast sport.

It can also be lethal. I took a couple of semesters of fencing in college. Our instructor relayed to us the story of a pro fencer (who knew you could make a living swinging metal toothpicks at people?) who died in the heat of battle. It seems his opponent's foil's steel was impure or inappropriately inflexible, and at one point when his opponent score a legal touch, the foil's blade bent and then snapped, and the opponent's momentum carried him forward until the now half-length and sheered to razor sharpness blade passed through the fencer's mask and lodged in his eye. He died instantly.

We fencing classmates kept this in mind whenever we faced off and said "En Guarde."

I was by no means the best in my classes, but I was easily in the top quarter, maybe top ten percent. Those of us in that top tier had reached near NFL-level parity: On any given day I could beat any of those guys and they could beat me, but beyond us all was a gigantic Nordic looking guy we all called Gunther. Not "Gunther," because that's not funny, but "Goon-ter," as though we were adding umlauts to our Northeast Texan English (I hadn't shaken the accent yet). Gunther was about 6'5", longish blond hair to his shoulders, and very Viking in his attitude. He was also quick for a big guy, and since I was giving away a good foot in wingspan and my superior quickness didn't make up for that, Gunther usually made quick work of me. It was mostly during duels with him that I thought about that fencer with the foil in the eye.

I'd imagine what my friends would say to explain my death to those who hadn't heard.

"Well, he was fighting this guy with a sword, and this guy was nearly a foot taller than him, and the guy poked him in the eye and killed him."

"What the *&*@ was he doing fighting a big guy with a sword? Isn't that kind of asking to be killed?"

"Well, it was for a class."

Long pause, while everyone tries to think of something to say.

"Oh."

But it never happened. Gunther never poked me or anyone else in the eye, and we all survived. But fighting him made me pretty good, and by the end of the year I could take him about a third of the time. I'd wait until he thrusted, and use his angle of attack against him to fade off to one side and go in for his chest. Quite effective if he wasn't expecting it.

At around that same time I was dating a girl whose next door neighbor was into the Society for Creative Anachronism. Maybe you've heard of these people--they make armor and old-fashioned dresses by hand, parade around in that garb and have tournaments of strength and skill just like the medieval courts. They even elect kings and queens. Then they go to Burger King, which isn't very accurate to the period, but then again neither are the cars they use to move all their stuff around in. You can also get so realistic with this stuff.

My girlfriend's neighbor had just finished making himself a couple of swords, and upon hearing that I'd been a fencer he challenged me to a friendly match. I thought it was silly, but didn't have anything better to do, so I took him up on it.

We met at the local park. It turned out we'd have an audience--his entire SCA club was there, decked out in their armor and old-fashioned dresses. Quite a site. I lacked armor and a proper sword--I owned a foil, but it wouldn't stand up to the big broad blades they were using--so I borrowed both from a bystander.

My opponent, the neighbor, was a good ten years older than me at least, and had no training at all in swordsmanship. He was not nimble nor particularly able to put his blade where his eye wanted it. I made very quick work of him even under SCA rules, which call for body parts struck by an opponent's blade to become inoperative. You hit his leg, he has to hop around on the other one, that sort of thing.

A bigger and younger opponent stepped forward. A little shorter than Gunther and with a bit of a beer gut, this guy looked more formidable. He wasn't. He lasted about a minute longer than the first guy.

Then a third challenger stepped forward. He was a couple of years younger than me, taller by a couple of inches and more athletic looking than the first two. No beer gut.

We said our formalities and commenced, and he immediately struck me on the left arm. That rendered it inoperable, so if I lost my right arm I'd be done. But as it turned out, I didn't lose my right arm or anything else. We parried back and forth for a few minutes and for some reason he stupidly charged me, and I put the end of my blade where his heart is, and it was all over. No, I didn't kill him, just tapped him on the chest as he lunged at me. And he was done.

I thought to myself that this must be what it's like to be good at pool and run the table with sap after sap. I didn't think that for long, because the three got together, whispered, and then issued a fourth challenge: Did I have the intestinal fortitude to take on all three at the same time?

They asked this question right in front of my girlfriend. She smiled demurely. She had been a runway model in that vital Northeast Texas fashion scene. Of course I would fight all three at once. It would be a dishonor not to.

And so we squared off, three on one. The whole park stopped, everyone seemed transfixed on our epic duel. Birds stopped chirping, and even the squirrels stopped chasing each other to watch what was sure to be a slaughter. How could one man possibly face off against three and live to tell the tale? Was he mad?

What the three didn't know was that in fencing class we played a brutal game called Wizards. It was basically an armed capture the flag game, and if the luck of the draw put you on the opposite team from all the other good fencers, you were screwed. You'd quickly find yourself surrounded by Gunther and a few henchmen, they having dispatched the rest of your team in the first few seconds of the match, now with their foils pointed directly at you. You'd try not to think about the fencer with the foil in the eye, but he'd come to mind involuntarily. If you could manage to take a couple of Gunther's gang down on your way to the Wizards hereafter you were doing quite well, and about half the time I ended up thusly surrounded I'd take a couple down with me. So I was not completely unacustomed to fighting more than one opponent at once.

Thanks to my Wizards training and the sharply honed hand-eye coordination wrought from years of playing Space Invaders, I was ready for them. They took turns coming at me, and I'd parry them off. Occassionally two or even three would approach at the same time, and I'd parry them off. The big guy came in for a kill and I got his left leg. He would have to hop around on his right for the rest of the match. The neighbor approached and I cut his sword arm, then turned and took away the big guy's left. Two opponents hobbled, but one remained untouched.

The neighbor switched his sword to his left hand as the untouched opponent came in for a thrust. He got me on my left forearm, and I got him low down on his right leg. We decided he could limp, since I hadn't gotten more than a glancing blow. The big guy came in straight for my heart, but I got his instead. He collapsed in a melodramatic heap in the grass, then got up and wandered over to a nearby picnic table occupied by ladies in medieval dresses. One put her arm around him.

Now there were two, but the neighbor was using his left hand now, so putting him away was easy. I feinted one way, thrust another and got him high, then turned to face the young guy.

Down to one. The young guy decided to play defense instead of attacking, and stayed back. I'd thrust and he'd parry, back and forth, and he once nicked one of my legs on a particularly wild thrust of mine, but I eventually snuck my sword past his and got him near the throat. It was a kill shot. I'd defeated three opponents at one time.

You'd think there would be some dramatic ending here, that my former Northeast Texas model girlfriend would come running toward me, leap in my arms and declare undying love or something. You'd be wrong. I handed my sword and armor to the neighbor, got a little hug from the girlfriend, and we decided we were hungry. We hopped in the car and headed to Sonic for a round of limeades and foot-long cheese coneys.

We broke up a few months later.

And thus ends the Pointless Tale of Personal History.

CORRECTION: The US picked up hardware in sabre, not foils.

Posted by B. Preston at 07:39 AM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

August 17, 2004

NON-ALIGNED MOVEMENT TO ALIGN AGAINST USA?

If South Africa's Deputy Foreign Minister Sue van der Merwe gets her wish, yes:

South Africa on Tuesday implicitly criticised the United States and its allies for "mounting global campaigns" against perceived threats and called for a concrete response from the Non-Aligned Movement.

Opening a two-day conference of the 117-nation NAM in the eastern port city of Durban, South African Deputy Foreign Minister Sue van der Merwe said the United Nations must be the "pre-eminent authority" in world affairs.

"There is a growing tendency on the part of countries of the North to mount global 'campaigns' against threats that are perceived and defined in the North but allegedly originate or are based in the countries of the South," said Van der Merwe.

Allegedly? I'd call 9-11 more than an alleged crime that more than allegedly killed 3,000, and more than allegedly originated south of the hemispheric border. But that's just me.

While she did not single out any countries, the deputy foreign minister said that the go-it-alone approach of rich countries was compounded by increased meddling in the internal affairs of developing countries.

"This tendency is further exacerbated by the re-emergence of a type of state behaviour reminiscent of the colonial era, with the emphasis on greater interference in domestic affairs of states in the developing world," she said.

She's just got this part backwards. I'd call 9-11, 10-11 (Bali) and 3-11 (Spain)--not to mention all the kidnappings and beheadings in Iraq and the attacks against the Saudi oil industry--fairly serious attempts of actors from the developing world to interfere in the domestic affairs of the developed world. But that's just me.

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THE GLOBAL TROOP SHIFT

The Bush administration has announced a long overdue shifting of our global military footprint, away from Europe and South Korea and toward home and toward a more flexible force structure that can better respond to emerging threats and situations.

Long time JYB readers read about that shift here first.

Posted by B. Preston at 09:18 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

STEM CELL RESEARCH AND POLLS

Ramesh Ponnuru asks some pertinent questions about the politics of stem cell research:

There's no getting around the fact that Democrats are excited about using the stem-cell issue, and Republicans are nervous. But if funding stem-cell research is such a great political winner, why do its advocates have to exaggerate its potential benefits so grossly? Why do they have to misrepresent Bush's policy? And why do they have to use bogus polls?

Public opinion on stem cell research remains quite fluid, despite what "the polls" say:

By far the worst of the polls was an amply-publicized one done by Peter D. Hart Research Associates that found 65 percent support for increased funding. Their poll also established the "fact" that the more informed voters were, the more likely they were to support the funding. The poll treated voters as "informed" after they were told that "stem cell research offers the best hope we have today for curing such diseases as Alzheimer's, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer, which today cause pain and suffering to more than 100 million Americans," and that "highly respected" organizations like the American Medical Association and the National Institutes of Health support the funding. The inclusion of heart disease and cancer, done to reach the figure of "100 million Americans," is outrageous. The claim about the NIH is erroneous: They are part of the Bush administration, and do not take public-policy positions contrary to it. The polling firm threw in some inaccurate information about the details of Bush's stem-cell policy, too: again, information that could be expected to boost the poll's findings of support for funding.

A recent study of the polling notes that the Catholic bishops were able to devise a poll that showed 70 percent opposition to funding. The author of the study, Matthew Nisbet, concludes: "The fact that the public can be influenced so much by how the questions are worded tells me that Americans are susceptible to be influenced by groups on both sides. It depends on who crafts a message that appeals most to the public." He also says, ""Polls show that the public doesn't know much about the science or the policy surrounding stem-cell research, and that means they really haven't solidified their opinions." Any honest student of public opinion has to acknowledge that there are often circumstances in which the public has no definite opinion about an issue.

It appears to me that Ponnuru has uncovered another instance of advocacy dressed up as polling, in the three polls he cites that indicate strong public support for stem cell research. RTWT.

Posted by B. Preston at 08:34 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

August 16, 2004

EXHUMATION

This says it all:

(via Confessions of a Jesus Phreak)

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FALSE POSITIVE?

What is Senator Pete Domenichi talking about?

“It may be that what we have here is a false positive—the system says something is missing when it is not. And just as if it were a medical test, it is better to find out the inventory was wrong than that the discs were actually missing. But this entire situation only reinforces that we need to improve the inventory system."

He's talking about the data inventory system at Los Alamos. Our nuclear labratory apparently can't determine whether it is missing discs containing classified information, even after four weeks of trying.

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DEATH OF A HARD DRIVE

Over the weekend, I had a 60 gb IBM DeskStar drive bite the big one. I lost all the data I had on that puppy, including three ongoing video projects. I am not a happy blogger.

I have to replace the thing, so I decided to grab a new one from Buy.com, which is one of the site's advertisers (if we can define advertisers as entities that have no idea this blog exists, and only pay for click-through purchases, and even then only pay a pittance). I'll let you know how it goes, if you're interested.

Speaking of advertisers, I should issue a long overdue welcome to Amy Ridenour's National Center Blog, which is linked over in the blogads section to the right. If you haven't checked Amy's blog out by now, you should. Among other great work, she has been posting Spc. Joe Roche's dispatches from Iraq.

Posted by B. Preston at 09:31 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

KERRY CONTINUES TO PAD HIS RESUME

Christmas in Cambodia running covert ops with the CIA has become...not Christmas, not necessarily in Cambodia but somewhere near it, and most likely not with the CIA.

So where'd he get that hat?

Anyway, Not-JFK is also not Kerrey, as in Bob Kerrey, former Senator from Nebraska. But he seems to want to be.

Check out this page on the John Kerry website. It's the Kerry-Edwards campaign's attempts to refute Bush-Cheney ads and such. Scroll down to the second Bush-Cheney Credibility Gap section, to "The Record." It says:

John Kerry is an Experienced Leader in the Intelligence Field – John Kerry served on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence for 8 years and is the former Vice Chairman of the Committee.

Not true. Kerry did serve on the Senate Select Committee on Intel, though he attended less than one-quarter of the Committee's meetings while he served on it. While serving, he proposed the infamous $6 billion cut to intel budgets--a proposal so bad he couldn't get anyone to sign on to it in support. And he was never Vice Chairman. That distinction belonged to Sen. Bob Kerrey.

So much for being an "experienced leader in the intelligence field." No one made him leader by vote, and no one followed him when he tried to lead. Probably because he was hardly ever there to attend hearings.

Posted by B. Preston at 04:41 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

RECONSIDERING BRINKLEY

"Historian" Douglas Brinkley, author of Tour of Duty--the Kerry biography which failed to turn up any inconsistencies in not-JFK's wartime recollections of covert missions into Cambodia that never happened--apparently isn't much of a historian at all. Lead and Gold has details on not-JFK's answer to Lanny Davis.

Posted by B. Preston at 12:15 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

IT'S NOT ABOUT US

Interesting theory on what makes jihadis tick. It's not, as the left would say, because we're gas guzzlers who backed out of Kyoto and eat too much fast food and show our navels on the beach and everywhere else. And it's not, as the right would say, because jihadis despise our freedoms and liberties. It's not about us, either our sins our our virtues. It's about an apocalyptic intepretation of the life of Mohammed, and jihadi attempts to recreate that life in the here and now:

In addition to the three stages in the growth of the Islamic communityculminating in jihad, there are three basic approaches to waging jihad, called collectively the Method of Muhammed, that various Islamist groups respectively adopt toward the ultimate goal of establishing the world-wide rule of Islam. The jihadis' choice of method depends on whom they see as their immediate enemy in that larger struggle; each jihadist group, moveover, is defined by which of these methods it adopts. The first method is to fight the Near Enemy prior to fighting the Far Enemy. The Near Enemy is anyone inside Islamic lands, whether it is an occupier or someone who has taken away territory that used to be Islamic. The second method is to fight the Greater Unbelief-the major enemy, which today is the United States-before the Lesser Unbelief. And the third method is to fight the Apostates first, and then the other Unbelievers. Apostates are false Moslems, people who call themselves Moslems but aren't, a group that includes secularist Moslems such as Saddam Hussein as well as Shi'ites, who are considered heretics.

It is these notions, deeply embedded in the jidadis' reading of the life of
Muhammed, and not determined by what is happening in what we think of as the
real world, that determine their major strategic directions and whom they
choose to kill. For example, the terrorists who murdered 190 people in
Madrid on March 11, 2004 did not target Spain because of its involvement
with the U.S.-led Iraqi reconstruction; the group had been planning the
Madrid attack for two years, going back to before the American invasion of
Iraq. They attacked Spain because it was the Near Enemy-a formerly Islamic
land that they hoped to win back for Islam. Similarly, regarding the
all-important question whether the Wahhabist Osama bin Laden would have been
willing to work with the secularist Apostate Saddam Hussein in an attack on
America, Habeck says it is entirely possible, because bin Laden believes
that his primary enemy is the Greater Unbelief, the United States, and
therefore in the short term he would cooperate with an Apostate such as
Hussein. Then, after America had been finished off with Hussein's help, bin
Laden with the enhanced power and prestige gained from that victory could
redirect the jihad back at Hussein and other Moslem Apostates.

The key point is that, while specific actions by the West might provoke the
jihadis to greater attacks, their fundamental strategic and military
decisions are not determined by anything done by the United States or Europe
or by other major enemies of Islam such as the Hindus, but rather by which
Method of Muhammed each jihadi faction follows, and each of these strategies
has its own internal rationality, though it is not a rationality that makes
sense in non-Islamic terms.


Posted by B. Preston at 10:14 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack