Thursday, June 30, 2005


The London Times interviews President Bush

As Glenn Reynolds (to whom a hat tip is due) comments, this paragraph seems to catch everyone's eye first:
In person Mr Bush is so far removed from the caricature of the dim, war-mongering Texas cowboy of global popular repute that it shakes one’s faith in the reliability of the modern media.
Indeed. It might be useful to remember that in your future reporting, Mssrs. Baker and Watson.

But there's plenty more in this interview (along with some expected snide snarkiness nonetheless). I found the "human touches" rather interesting:
I am under firm instructions from my wife to pick up a souvenir of the trip and so I ask him if he would mind signing a picture of my daughters posed beside a cutout of Mr Bush himself.

“Oh, we can do better than that,” he says. He reaches into the drawer of the
Resolute desk and diligently begins writing out greetings on presidential cards. I find myself in the faintly exhilarating position of dictating terms to the President of the United States; admittedly, only the names of each of my five children, but for a moment, it’s heady stuff.



On "Exit Timetables"

A lot of blather has been heard lately about "exit timetables" for Iraq -- when are we leaving, and how soon can we make the announcement? My feeling is that the President had it exactly right:
Some contend that we should set a deadline for withdrawing U.S. forces. Let me explain why that would be a serious mistake. Setting an artificial timetable would send the wrong message to the Iraqis — who need to know that America will not leave before the job is done. It would send the wrong message to our troops — who need to know that we are serious about completing the mission they are risking their lives to achieve. And it would send the wrong message to the enemy — who would know that all they have to do is to wait us out. We will stay in Iraq as long as we are needed — and not a day longer.
But an even more detailed response to this -- better worded than I would have done, certainly -- can be found at the Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler's place. For example:
This wildly successful tactic even works with games like chess, where if you announce in mid-game that you have to leave in twenty minutes the opponent can just slow down his moves and wait you out. Indeed, the technique is so fabulously effective at producing defeat that all normal games have to have special rules to ensure that both sides quit at the same time. Otherwise, every game of soccer, football, baseball, or basketball would be won by the team that decided to stay on the court and keep on scoring after the other team goes home.
More to the point, an "exit timetable" would allow the anti-war crowd to continue to paint the war as a failure -- after all, we left without winning, didn't we? -- while painting their own activities as successful. A win-win from their point of view... if you discount such minor distractions as Americans dying for nothing, emboldening the ones who want to kill us, and so forth.

By all means, read the whole thing; it won't take you long.



Mark Steyn being Mark Steyn

This has been linked all over the right-of-center blogosphere already, I know. But it's still possible that neither of my regular readers have seen it, so here you go.

In the words of a famous American president, it's a crackjack. It's an online (i.e. e-mail) interview with Mr. Steyn, consisting almost entirely of killer quotes, and thus is hard to excerpt; I'd really want to just quote the whole darn thing.

Okay, maybe just one or two:
I haven't spent a lot of time in "Palestine," but, when I have, I've never seen any sign anywhere in Gaza or the West Bank of anything remotely resembling a "nationalist" movement. There's plenty of evidence of widespread Jew-hatred and the veneration of death-cult "martyrdom," but not that anybody's seriously interested in building a nation for the "Palestinian people." So if you leave it to the Palestinians there's never going to be a state, only decade after decade of suicide bombings. One can advance reasons for this - it's no coincidence that the most comprehensively wrecked people on the face of the earth are the ones who have been wholly entrusted to the formal care of the UN for three generations now. But the fact is what Israel is doing is the only thing that will force the Palestinians to get up off their allegedly occupied butts and run a state: the Israelis are walling off what they feel they need, or what they can get away with, and it will be up to the gangsters of Arafatistan to see if they now feel like dropping the jihad and getting on with less glamorous activities like running highway departments and schools.
(emphasis mine)

Or how about this:
The era of the state church has been replaced by an age in which the state itself is the church. European progressives still don't get this: they think the idea of a religion telling you how to live your life is primitive, but the government regulating every aspect of it is somehow advanced and enlightened.
Or this:
The utopian welfarism of Europe has so corroded the basic impulses necessary for societal survival - ie, breeding - that I doubt anything can be done. But if the US seriously wanted to help it would accelerate the closure of all Continental bases. Even if that didn't persuade them to get real, it would still be worth doing, as when the European powder keg goes up America will want to be well clear. On the basic problem of their deathbed demographics, a reader of mine, Jim Ellinthorpe, thinks President Bush should give speeches mocking the virility of European men. I'm all in favor of this, though mainly on entertainment grounds. A Berlin airlift of cheap generic Viagra might also be useful.
See what I mean? You start counting killer quotes, and you quickly run out of fingers. By all means, go read the whole thing, if you haven't already!


Wednesday, June 29, 2005


Miscellaneous Links

A few interesting things, noticed while scanning the news:

A sample menu for the detainees of Guantanamo Bay. (Hat tip: PowerLine.) Not eating MREs three times a day, are they? (If you look closely, though, you can see on "Cycle Day 9" that the menu was prepared by Republicans. Dan Quayle Republicans, in fact -- how else do you explain the "Roasted Potatoe Wedge"?)

Bottom line: the diet is healthy, varied, and interesting, ranging from 2400 to 3000 Calories per day. (Items include Bayou Chicken Breast, Steamed Asparagus, Canned Pears, Lemon Pepper Fish... and pancakes for breakfast every other day. This is torture?)

(UPDATE: The Richmond Times-Dispatch weighs in: Rice Pilaf Again?! Not much new there, but it's fun to read.)

What's Good For The Goose Is Good For The Gander. (Hat tip: Smash.) Oh my goodness, that smarts!! (This is the location they're talking about, if you're curious.)

I didn't watch President Bush's Fort Bragg speech --we don't have cable television at home -- but I did read it. Frankly, I liked it a lot. (Some have complained that it's "just a rah-rah speech". Uh, it was a speech to American soldiers; of course it was a patriotic pep-talk speech! Little can energize a warrior more than a genuine statement of support from his commanders... and you can bet that American warriors, all over the world, were watching and listening.)

I'm puzzled by the complaints that Bush's speech "ties Iraq to 9/11". In the sense that both are mentioned in the same speech, yes, I suppose it does. But President Bush hasn't said that Iraq was responsible for 9/11, and he didn't say it last night either. (The closest approach, I suppose, would have been when he said: "We are fighting against men with blind hatred — and armed with lethal weapons — who are capable of any atrocity. They wear no uniform; they respect no laws of warfare or morality. They take innocent lives to create chaos for the cameras. They are trying to shake our will in Iraq — just as they tried to shake our will on September 11, 2001." And, sure enough, al-Qaeda perpetrated 9/11, and we're fighting the terrorists of al-Qaeda in Iraq now. This is perfectly true; what's wrong with saying that?)

My favorite comment on the speech, so far, is Professor Glenn's: 'Saw all but the first couple of minutes. A good job, I thought, though Bush's delivery is never impressive. (And he had that "Jeezus I can't believe I have to explain this stuff again! -- don't you guys read Den Beste?" expression from time to time...)'

UPDATE: James Taranto of the Wall Street Journal's "Best of the Web" concurs:
Much of the criticism of the president's speech from the left has amounted to, as blogger Edward Morrissey puts it, "screaming every time 9/11 gets mentioned in connection with fighting terrorists." Even the Times, though straining to sound half reasonable, says that "we had hoped [Bush] would resist the temptation to raise the bloody flag of 9/11 over and over again to justify a war in a country that had nothing whatsoever to do with the terrorist attacks." Isn't this further evidence that Karl Rove got it exactly right?
He goes on to say:

But of course the liberation of Iraq had everything to do with 9/11. As Bush said last night:
The terrorists can kill the innocent, but they cannot stop the advance of freedom. The only way our enemies can succeed is if we forget the lessons of September the 11th, if we abandon the Iraqi people to men like [Abu Musab al] Zarqawi, and if we yield the future of the Middle East to men like Bin Laden. For the sake of our nation's security, this will not happen on my watch.
Or, as Andrew Sullivan put it in March 2003:
Rather than simply forestall crises, postpone them, avoid them or fob them off onto others, Bush is actually doing the hard thing. He's calling for real democracy in the Middle East. He's aiming to make the long-standing U.S. policy of regime change in Iraq a reality. He actually wants to defeat Islamist terrorism, rather than make excuses for tolerating its cancerous growth.

The counterargument is that 9/11 was just a one-off, justifying maybe the liberation of Afghanistan (though the liberal left is not united even behind this proposition), but nothing more. In the case of Iraq, the idea seems to be that because Saddam Hussein did not personally fly the planes into the World Trade Center, he and Zarqawi should be free to kill as many Iraqis as they please.

Even if there was a reasonable argument against liberating Iraq, that debate was settled when Congress voted, overwhelmingly and with bipartisan support, to authorize the war in October 2002.

The President asked for Congressional authorization to go to war against Iraq, and got it. For Congress (among others) to complain now that the war was a terrible idea -- well, that's not only nonsense, it's also a specific attempt to undermine the war effort that they authorized.

Yes, I know, they claim to be complaining, not about the war per se, but about the way it's being run. But the only option they're willing to offer is to bring the troops home now. (You know my response to that, right?)

I haven't heard a Democrat on Capitol Hill say, specifically, that we ought to put Saddam back. No doubt it's just a matter of time.

UPDATE II: In re connections between Saddam's regime and international terror (al Qaeda or otherwise), Melanie Phillips has a lot to say, and says it quite well:
But the anti-war crowd is apparently shocked and horrified that the President made any link at all between Iraq and Islamic terror. Because for them it is an article of faith that there never was any such link and that the President, who always said there was, had lied. In fact, the evidence suggests that is the anti-war crowd which has done the lying.
There's a lot more, including a nice example of the New York Times acknowledging Saddam's support of terror -- and then contradicting themselves. (As Glenn Reynolds likes to say, they must think we don't know how to use Google, or something.)


Friday, June 24, 2005


Brief Hiatus

Apologies to both of my regular readers... I won't be posting anything of substance today. I'm not feeling particularly well, I haven't really caught up on the news, and I'd rather not write if I don't have anything to say. (Except for this paragraph, of course.)

In the meantime, this caught my eye. Glenn Reynolds thinks that Karl Rove is leading the loudest voices of the Democratic Party to their doom; I'm inclined to agree. (Ever been in a situation where you know that your words are hurting your own cause, but you just can't bring yourself to shut up? Sounds like one of those.)

Have a good weekend. I'll be heading off tomorrow for a quartet gig, our first paid performance; if you feel like heading over to and signing our guest book, please feel free to do so.
-- DiB


Thursday, June 23, 2005


Day By Day

Sorry, this just made me laugh...



Who said this?

An interesting quote:
What have the Arabs given [Saudi Arabia] in comparison to what [Saudi Arabia] has gained from our relations with America?...
This is from an article in Saudi Arabia's Arab News entitled "Thank You, America".

The article goes on to say:
We must admit that our relations with America were the cornerstone for our development and progress. In return, we must ask what we have gained from our relations with the Arab world. Speaking frankly and unequivocally, all we got from them was trouble. Our brothers, as they call themselves, conspired against us, attacked us and used all the means at their disposal to derail our plans for unity.
Of course, this is a nice sentiment to offer on the eve of a visit by the U.S. Secretary of State (in Saudi's English-language newspaper, of course). It was only two weeks ago that Saudi TV broadcast that "The Vatican's Mission of Destroying Islam was Delegated to the U.S. – Which Carried Out 9/11 on Assignment by the World Council of Churches". (Link here, with thanks to

Who was it that said "Trust, but verify"? In this case, enjoy what people say about you in your own language -- but listen to what they say in their language, too.


Wednesday, June 22, 2005


Interview With A Gitmo Interrogator

I'm not sure whether to trust this or not. But it sure is interesting. (It's also hard to excerpt; sorry about that.)

The interviewee (under the pseudonym "Mr. Smith") is referred to as an interrogator at Guantanamo, one with twenty years' experience in the U.S. military and intelligence communities. We do not know how contact was made, nor do we know, exactly, who the interviewer ("Right-Thinking Girl") is.

On the other hand, other people do know her and trust her. And, when asked in the comments about her source, she says: "I know lots of people. Jon works for Secret Service, Ethan and Bax work for the FBI, I worked for the NSA before I resigned to write. A few people who post here work at the Agency. It's just a matter of asking the right people to put me in touch with the other right people. Because I wanted to know the "real story" about Gitmo, I asked around. Mr Smith was willing to talk to me, provided I keep his identity secret."

Certainly, view this with a grain of salt, at least. But by all means, read it.


Tuesday, June 21, 2005


A Military Wife Speaks Her Mind

Thanks to the Mudville Gazette -- why has it taken me so long to blogroll them? -- comes this heartwarming story of a woman, anxious for her husband to come back safe from the war... a woman who understands all too well what he's fighting for.
Smiling sadly, I glanced across my table to the empty seat where my husband usually sat. It had only been a few months since we sat in this very booth, talking about his upcoming deployment to the Middle East. That was when he made me promise to get a sitter for the kids, come back to this restaurant once a month and treat myself to a nice steak. In turn he would treasure the thought of me being here, thinking about him until he returned home to me.

I fingered the little flag pin I constantly wear and wondered where he was at this very moment. Was he safe and warm? Was his cold any better? Were my letters getting through to him?
Please do go and read the rest.



The Circle is Completed

I saw Star Wars: Episode III last night (at last!). My reactions were mixed.

Yes, it's everything George Lucas led us to expect: the fight scenes were spectacular (and, if memory serves, far more plentiful than in his last two movies); the special effects were dazzling. On a trivial note, we thankfully only saw Jar-Jar Binks twice, for a few seconds each time, and he didn't say a word either time. (THANK YOU, Mr. Lucas!!) And, finally, we get to watch the transformation of good into evil, of young idealistic Anakin Skywalker into Darth Vader (complete with James Earl Jones Cheyne-Stokes breathing).

As usual, the dialogue was wooden at best, and the politics were laughable. (What can you say about a series in which Queen Amidala must say: "I was not elected to watch my people suffer!" -- as she did in Episode I.) It was less obvious in this one, but we again saw a Senate willing to applaud just about anything said to them. (I had to wonder: do they ever vote on anything?)

It also occurred to me that, in addition to his tin ear for dialogue (and character names -- General Grievous indeed!), George Lucas seems to be weak on backstory. (Any decent science-fiction writer can tell you of the necessity of building up the backstory -- all the myriad details that influence the story, but aren't part of the story itself.) It's the little details, you see, that just seem to fit together, than help convince an audience -- or a reader -- that the whole environment is believable.

For example, on the planet where the Jedi Council meets (and where Padme waits eternally for Anakin to come say hello), the skies are forever filled with flowing traffic, in neat three-dimensional grid patterns at ninety-degree angles. (How do they do that? Do they use white and yellow dotted lines in the air? It would have been interesting to see some details of that.) But when Anakin or Obi-Wan Kenobi need to get somewhere, they just cut across all that traffic... causing no accidents, no disruption, nothing. (Has the Star Wars universe eliminated the need for traffic cops?) The traffic is there for backdrop, nothing more; the people getting to and from work aren't real.

And that's the case with too much in this story, and in each of the Star Wars stories -- things happen to advance the story that make no sense without context, and no context is provided. The battles, spectacular though they are, show no tactics, no strategy; it's action for the sake of action. Padme was queen in Episode I, and a senator in Episode II; in this movie she stays home and broods, all the time. Why does she put up with this? Anakin makes it clear that he must not reveal his marriage to Padme; but why?

Most importantly, perhaps: Anakin begins the movie as a deferential young Jedi -- more deferential, in fact, than in Episode II. But he switches to the Dark Side in moments, and never looks back. Why? This is the central idea of the first three movies; can it not be made more believable? Could Palpatine not have blackmailed Anakin, for example, given that the two had just collaborated in killing a Jedi elder? That would have been much more believable, at least to me, than what we did see.

(The Greeks knew how to do this, with their concept of a Fatal Character Flaw: the hero contains within himself the seeds of his own undoing. That wasn't just a plot device; it's one that resonates strongly with audiences, then and now. Lucas could have benefited greatly from using that technique. But he didn't.)

I'm glad to have seen the circle closed; many of us have been waiting for this ever since Star Wars came out, twenty-eight years ago. But I don't think I'll need to see it again.


Monday, June 20, 2005


Dean Condemns Antisemitism by Democrats

From the Washington Post (hat tip: Instapundit):
"We disavow the anti-Semitic literature, and the Democratic National Committee stands in absolute disagreement with and condemns the allegations," Dean said in a statement posted on the DNC Web site.

Rep. John Conyers of Michigan, the senior Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, organized the forum on Thursday at the Capitol to publicize and discuss the so-called Downing Street memo. [...] Conyers' event occurred in a small Capitol meeting room, and an overflow crowd watched witnesses on television in a conference room at DNC headquarters. According to Dean, some material distributed within the DNC conference room implied that Israel was involved in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

One witness, former intelligence analyst Ray McGovern, told Conyers and other House Democrats that the war was part of an effort to allow the United States and Israel to "dominate that part of the world," a statement Dean also condemned.

"As for any inferences that the United States went to war so Israel could 'dominate' the Middle East or that Israel was in any way behind the horrific September 11th attacks on America, let me say unequivocally that such statements are nothing but vile, anti-Semitic rhetoric," Dean said.

"The inferences are destructive and counterproductive, and have taken away from the true purpose of the Judiciary Committee members' meeting," he said. "The entire Democratic Party remains committed to fighting against such bigotry."
Good for Dr. Dean! It's the most sensible thing we've heard from him in a long time. Let's hope for more sane dialogue, with him specifically and with liberal Democrats in general.

Lest anyone think Dean is overstating the case, check this out. (hat tip: Scott at Powerline.) Left-wing Democrats have been keeping company with outright antisemites (Palestinian terror and pro-terror groups, among many others) for some time now. It's been out in the open since 9/11, but the chill winds could be felt during the 2000 Presidential campaign and before.

We're judged by the company we keep, especially in politics. Incoherent conspiracy theories -- televised, and from DNC headquarters, yet! -- do the Democratic party no credit at all.

Perhaps Dean is trying to change this trend; I certainly hope so.



Mark Steyn (and others) on Guantanamo

Mark Steyn has been covering Sen. Dick Durbin's outrageous comments (and the responses thereto) with his usual flair:
By now, one or two readers may be frothing indignantly, “That’s no funny! Bush’s torture camp at Guantanamo is the gulag of our time, if not of all time.” But that’s the point. The world divides into those who feel the atrocities at Gitmo “must have been done by Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime — Pol Pot or others” (in the widely quoted words of Senator Dick Durbin), and the rest of us, for whom the more we hear the specifics of the “atrocities” the funnier they are.
Indeed. Did the Nazis permit their victims to gain weight in captivity? (Quite the opposite.) Did the Soviets hand out free Holy Books to their religious inmates? (On the contrary, it was often posession of Bibles and such that led to incarceration in the first place.) Did Pol Pot serve his victims Orange-Glazed Chicken on rice pilaf? (I highly doubt it.)

Mr. Steyn goes on:
For example, camp guards are under instructions to handle copies of the Koran only when wearing gloves. The reason for this is that the detainees regard infidels as “unclean”. Fair enough, each to his own. But it’s one thing for the Islamists to think infidels are unclean, quite another for the infidels to agree with them. Far from being tortured, the prisoners are being handled literally with kid gloves (or simulated kid-effect gloves). The US military hand each jihadi his complimentary copy of the Koran as delicately as white-gloved butlers bringing His Lordship The Times of London. When I bought a Koran to bone up on Islam a couple of days after 9/11, I didn’t wear gloves to the bookstore. If that’s “disrespectful” to Muslims, tough. You should have thought about that before you allowed your holy book to become the central motivation for global jihad.
Check out this as well, in which Steyn revisits the whole "how dare anyone question my patriotism!" canard... and responds "why?" (Certainly, nobody's patriotism should be doubted without damn good reason. But there's no reason that the topic should be taboo forever. Should we wipe "treason" off the books as well? Perhaps we should, if nobody's going to be accused of it anyway.)

But if handing a propaganda goldmine to al-Jazeera -- thereby endangering the lives of servicemen and servicewomen everywhere -- doesn't count as treason, then perhaps the meaning of the word has changed when I wasn't looking.

(I hasten to add that, if the Senator truly has a problem with American conduct in this war, he can do something about it -- and he doesn't have to do it publicly to get results. I have no doubt that, as one of only 100 Americans in the U.S. Senate, he can get an audience with the President any time he wants it badly enough. As a member of the Judiciary Committee, he has the clout to speak to many decision-makers behind the scenes, and influence the way things are going -- or to be shown the error of his ways, as the case may be. But to trumpet such allegations on C-SPAN and public talk radio, as he's been doing, is grandstanding for the sake of grandstanding... and given what he's saying, it's despicable.)

Please see also Hugh Hewitt's excellent summation of what Sen. Durbin has said thus far. Read in context, it becomes clear that the Senator has truly gone off the deep end -- or, as Steyn puts it, he is now the "terrorists' rights" Senator.

A lot now depends on how Republicans react to this treasonous slander -- and, even more importantly, on how Democrats respond. For if Democrats won't reign in their own, then it falls upon the U.S. legislature, as a body, to do it for them.

UPDATE: See also this, by James Lileks:
And why do I keep talking about this? Because they do. As the Durban flap demonstrates: It just never ends. And it won’t. There’s too much political hay to be made undercutting the war, and the consequences be damned.
That's what I'm afraid of, actually -- if such rank public irresponsibility does not have a price, then it will become a standard tactic. Even if Durbin et al come to their senses, others will quickly pick up the line -- for the cost-free advantages it gives -- and denounce Durbin's new-found sanity to establish their own bona fides.

The only solution I see is to stop this nonsense in its tracks... if we have the guts to do so. Do we?

John at Powerline has called Durbin's office, and asked that Durbin resign from the U.S. Senate. My hat's off to the Hindrocket; I think his idea is an excellent one.

UPDATE II: This is the sort of sentiment I'm talking about:
"I call on those who question the motives of the president and his national security advisors to join with the rest of America in presenting a united front to our enemies abroad."
-- Sen. Dick Durbin, December 17, 1998, defending then-President Clinton
Amazing, isn't it, what a difference a few years (and a change of the party in power) can make? (Follow the link; Durbin was even talking about Iraq.)

RealClearPolitics has some good stuff to say about this too:
The problem is that Democrats want to conduct a debate about torture without defining exactly what torture is.
Since Durbin quoted something out of context -- and then put the image in his listener's heads that it might have come from Pol Pot, or Stalin, or Hitler -- yes, of course it sounds worse than it might otherwise. But you could easily do the same with nearly anything. Try this:
Then he gripped me firmly, ignoring my protestations, and commenced drilling into my bones. Tears spilled down my face as I fought back a scream. But he would not stop until he got what he was looking for.
That's a scene from a torture chamber in the dark days of the mid-twentieth century, isn't it?... No, it's a visit to my dentist; I needed to get a cavity filled. (On that particular occasion, he didn't use enough anaesthetic. I'm thinking of suing him under the Geneva Conventions.)


Friday, June 17, 2005


For Gallantry In Action

As seen on's "Best of the Web":

For the first time since World War II, a woman soldier was awarded the Silver Star Medal today in Iraq.

The full account is here.

Sergeant Leigh Ann Hester earned her Star (along with two other members of her unit, the 617th Military Police Company) as follows:

Hester's squad was shadowing a supply convoy March 20 when anti-Iraqi fighters ambushed the convoy. The squad moved to the side of the road, flanking the insurgents and cutting off their escape route. Hester led her team through the "kill zone" and into a flanking position, where she assaulted a trench line with grenades and M203 grenade-launcher rounds. She and Nein, her squad leader, then cleared two trenches, at which time she killed three insurgents with her rifle.

When the fight was over, 27 insurgents were dead, six were wounded, and one was captured.
Sgt. Hester, for the record, got through the firefight without a scratch.

I'm delighted to report on a true American hero... and one from my outfit, at that! (Trust me, I never did anything remotely that notable when I was in uniform. But hey, we MPs need to stick together.)

It's also a nice companion piece to this story.


Thursday, June 16, 2005


As seen at The Indepundit

A fevered discussion has been going on, over at Citizen Smash's place. (Well, actually, there are often several fevered discussions going on there; I'm just thinking of one in particular, because it's one that got my back hair up.)

Smash started it with a gentle reminder about Saddam's WMD threat. As he points out, just over two years ago it was taken very seriously indeed, by just about everybody. (In fact, I distinctly remember Saddam's WMD threat being used as an argument against the invasion of Iraq -- how dare we send Our Boys to face chemical weapons, and so forth.)

Naturally, this resulted in an interesting free-for-all, between supporters of the war in Iraq (me among several others) and those who continue to see no justification for it.

One person in the latter group, to my confusion, seems to believe that War Is Bad because it kills so many people. (I'm putting words in his mouth, in an attempt to paraphrase and summarize what he, in fact, has said. I believe it to be a fair paraphrase; but please feel free to see for yourself.)

This, to my mind, constitutes a fundamental misunderstanding of what war is, and why we fight wars. More on that in a bit.

But what really blew my fuses was when he drew a moral equivalence between wartime casualties (I hate the term "collateral damage") and victims of terror... and used Israel as his example:
Funny.. I consider all out war far more "deadly and destructive". The families of 22,000+ dead Iraqis might disagree with the notion that Israelis have really had it that bad in comparison (921 Israelis and 2806 Palestinians between 27 Sept, 2000 and May 1, 2004); link
I had a fair bit to say in response to that. But this, in particular, might be worth reprinting, so to speak:

"I see civilians caught by violence as exactly the same whether they are caught by terrorists or caught by war."
Thank you for your frank admission. This, indeed, is at the heart of this discussion. (I believe it's also the reason why you don't seem to understand why your words were offensive.)

Just as a point of reference: do you also see accident victims -- say, a fatality from an accidental car crash -- the same way as you see first-degree murder victims?

The problem with this sort of point of view is that it removes all context of intent... and most legal systems, as well as most systems of ethics, take intention to be quite important indeed. That, for example, is the difference between first- and second-degree murder -- can we prove that the murderer planned it, or could it have been an accident?

By removing intent, and focusing only on outcomes, you run the risk of, say, confusing the fireman (who uses an ax to enter a burning building) with the teenage thug (caught in the act of breaking-and-entering). They both broke a window of a house that wasn't theirs, didn't they?

Or, as I sometimes quote on my blog, it's like arguing that when a man pushes an old lady into the path of a speeding bus, and another man leaps in to push her out of the way of that speeding bus, well, both men are equally bad, because you just shouldn't push old ladies.

Terrorism and war are not the same, Chris, and they never have been. War is fought according to specific rules, with harsh penalties for violating those rules; these rules have been worked out over the millenia, and they are written in the blood of fighting men and women. (See Bill Whittle's essay Sanctuary for some thoughts on rules of war, and those who violate them.)

Terrorism, by contrast, is a specific decision not to abide by any rules of combat -- and, in fact, to use any and all aspects of civilization against the victims, while simultaneously claiming the protections of civiliation for itself. (That's why I maintain that terrorists are cowards. Cowardice, however, is the least of their sins.)

That's why terrorists use tactics that no self-respecting professional military organization would use. That's why terrorists fight under the cover of ambulances, places of worship, and the white flag of surrender... yet scream bloody murder if any of those sanctuaries are harmed in the slightest, even by accident. That's why terrorists deliberately target civilians, while soldiers understand that their purpose is to fight other soldiers in order to protect the civilians of both sides.

That's why terrorists are willing to hide behind women and children. (Why not? They've already demonstrated that they don't care about the lives of enemy civilians; it's therefore all too easy for them to hold their own brethren in the same cynical contempt. And, in fact, most terrorist organizations do eventually turn on their own people just as savagely.)

That's why most professional soldiers hold terrorism as being beneath contempt... and show little if any mercy for terrorists when they are caught.

And that's why equating a casualty of war with a terrorist's victim is repugnant.

Think about it, Chris. And try to gain some perspective. All deaths are tragic... but not all deaths are alike.

Daniel in Brookline

(Thanks to Rich Casebolt for suggesting that this was worth repeating. And thanks, once again, to Smash for providing the forum in which I said it.)


Wednesday, June 15, 2005


On Media Bias

In a post titled "MSM's Asymmetrical Pessimism", Hugh Hewitt puts his finger on something I wish I'd noticed:
But isn't it obvious that the skepticism directed by many in MSM to the rebuilding of Iraq and the necessity of succeeding there is nowhere matched by a similar MSM skepticism of the "roadmap" process on the Israeli-Palestinian front? Or that skepticism of the Oslo accords was rarely heard within MSM, even as the second intifada lurched into being, and that few if any in MSM dared question the necessity of Israel trying again to reach peace with the Palestinian Authority even after suicide bomber after suicide bomber took hundreds of lives?

Does anyone want to argue that the new Iraqi government has less of a chance of stabilizing Iraq than the PA has of controlling Hamas and Hezbollah? If not, then how to explain the unrelenting skepticism directed at the reconstruction of Iraq --of which the above two articles are only the most recent high-profile examples-- with the near complete absence of analytical skepticism directed at the PA's future?
His conclusion is simple: yes, Virginia, there is a predominant left-leaning bias in much of mainstream media in America today.

(Perhaps some other time I'll address the issue of why Iraqi nation-building does, in fact, seem to be going a lot better than the Palestinians are doing. Other than the obvious answers -- the Iraqis got a true fresh start, while the Palestinians got old wine in new bottles; the Iraqis have a chance to taste freedom while not under their home-grown oppressor's thumb, while the Palestinians do not -- there's some uncomfortable lessons to be learned for Israel in there, in re the virtues of grasping the nettle firmly. Israel has, to its detriment, long tried to walk a moderate line between what needed to be done and what people wished were all that was necessary. As a result, Israel is perceived as weak in her areas of greatest strength, and that perception costs her dearly. But that's a topic for another day.)



Kerry Who?

With a tip o' the hat to neo-neocon, let me salute RealClearPolitics for a clearheaded look at John "Fumble" Kerry and his much-vaunted signing of his form SF 180:
...let's consider the one aspect of this story that we know for sure: Kerry released his records exclusively to The Boston Globe. This is an odd decision for someone seeking end speculation regarding the whole affair, and it's also a perfect example of why the issue of Kerry's military record continues to plague him.

Without maligning Michael Kranish's motives or his ability as a reporter, it's fair to point out that privately funneling documents through a single source from your hometown paper and then declaring the story "dead" and "over" is hardly the epitome of full public disclosure. John Kerry would never accept this type of standard from his political opponents or this administration. Why he thinks the public should accept it now from him is beyond me.
Indeed. As many have pointed out, Kerry has craftily used the system to release some of his military records... with no mention whatever of the ones that interest us the most. (Were you ever in Cambodia, Senator? And what was the nature of your original military discharge, before it got whitewashed in the late seventies?)

What Kerry doesn't seem to realize, or perhaps not to care about, is that we're not looking for a crafty president. (We had one of those, thanks. And Clinton did a great job getting elected, given that Ross Perot was there as a spoiler. If you want to get elected on your own merits, Sen. Kerry, you'll have to do better than that... a lot better.)

Back to RCP:
The fact the Swift Boat Vets existed at all was the big story of the year (unprecedented in modern political history, I believe), and one that the mainstream press did their best to ignore. Is there any question what the press would have done if a similar group of a hundred (or even ten, for that matter) of George Bush's fellow Guardsmen had come forward to challenge his service, truthfulness and integrity?
On the other hand, as Glenn Reynolds asks: why does anybody pay attention to Kerry anymore?

Here's my answer: I live in Massachusetts. I don't have much of a choice.


Tuesday, June 14, 2005


File Under "Huh??"

Driving in to work today, I heard an interesting radio ad -- a 30-year life insurance policy, supposedly with good terms, where I'd get the entire amount back if I'm still alive at the end of the policy! (I don't recall the name; I'll link to it if I can find it.)

Sounds good, I suppose. No doubt people like the idea of getting all their payments back at the end (just like with federal tax refunds).

But why should I give my insurance company incentives to kill me off before my policy expires?


Monday, June 13, 2005


Rules of War

A memorable first-season episode of M*A*S*H had Lt. Col. Henry Blake talking intensely to a demoralized Capt. Hawkeye Pierce, who had just lost a patient (and a dear friend) on the operating table. Blake said: "All I know is what I learned at command school. There are rules in war. And rule number one is that good men die. And rule number two is: good doctors can't change rule number one."

Back in the real world, Col. Brett Wyrick, a surgeon currently serving in Iraq with the 332nd
Expeditionary Medical Group, has a postscript to that story, and suggests that there should be a third rule.

Go ahead and read it. It's not an easy story, but it's an important one. And it includes such gems as this:
I wish there was not a war, and I wish our young people did not have to fight and die. But I cannot wish away evil men like Bin Laden and al-Zarqawi. These men are not wayward children who have gone astray; they are not great men who are simply misunderstood.

These are cold-blooded killers and they will kill you, me, and everyone we love and hold dear if we do not kill them first. You cannot reason with these people, you cannot negotiate with these people, and this war will not be over until they are dead. That is the ugly, awful, and brutal truth.



Condoleezza Rice Helps Out

I just saw this, courtesy of Roger L. Simon:
Rice's rare and unpublicized appearance at the piano marked a striking departure from her routine as America's No. 1 diplomat. A pianist from the age of 3 she played a half-dozen selections to accompany Charity Sunshine, a 21-year-old singer who was diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension a little more than a year ago.
Dr. Rice was once a concert pianist; here's a photo of her accompanying Yo-Yo Ma in 2002:

(It's a better pic than the one in the article linked to above, anyway.)

I'm not the biggest fan of Dr. Rice, for the record. (No, I have nothing against her. I just don't buy all the hype, billing her as the great hope for the GOP in 2008, and so forth. She's done quite well so far; let's wait and see.) But I must admit, this shows some class.

(It's worth mentioning, too, that the ill woman she accompanied, Ms. Sunshine, is a granddaughter of Rep. Tom Lantos of California. He's a Democrat, not that that matters; had he been a Republican, no doubt people would sneer "but she'd never do a favor like that for a Democrat". Personally, I'd rather see this as a good deed, rather than a deed done to curry political favor. If she gets political points out of this, so what? She earned them.)

By the way, the article also mentions, in passing, the source of the name "Condoleezza". (I'd often wondered about that...)


Friday, June 10, 2005


Stay Tuned

An apology, to both of my readers, for not posting anything today. I'm fighting a head cold, and trying to say anything of substance would no doubt emerge as sense-free drivel anyway. (Even more than usual, I mean.)

I'll be back on Monday. In the meantime, thanks for stopping by!


Thursday, June 09, 2005


Bush Derangement Syndrome Hits A New Low

Perhaps it's naive of me, but I never expected to see this:
Top House Democrat Charles Rangel complained on Monday that the Bush administration's decision to concoct a "fraudulent" war in Iraq was as bad as "the Holocaust."

"It's the biggest fraud ever committed on the people of this country," Rangel told WWRL Radio's Steve Malzberg and Karen Hunter. "This is just as bad as six million Jews being killed. The whole world knew it and they were quiet about it, because it wasn't their ox that was being gored."
Oh, really? I don't recall the whole world being quiet about the world in Iraq -- quite the opposite, in fact. (Or perhaps Rep. Rangel is referring to the fact that millions of talkers, spewing hot air as fast as they can, have not yet succeeded in stopping the war? If so, he certainly seems determined to do his part.)

Let's see if he'll dig himself a little further. (This is one of President Bush's time-tested strategies; when one of your political opponents starts foaming at the mouth, particularly about you, then give him as much room as he wants. Works like a charm, particularly among politicians and journalists.)
The Harlem Democrat charged that top Bush officials "made up [their] mind to go into Iraq long before 9/11. And every one of the players who made this decision - they were part of this plan to do it. From Rumsfeld to Cheney, Wolfowitz, Bolton, every one of them - Perle - [they were part of the] plan to put our kids in harm's way long before 9/11."

Rangel insisted that American blacks and poor whites are dying in Iraq, while those who supported the war aren't paying any price.
Hmm. Ever heard of Pat Tillman, Mr. Rangel? (Granted, he died in Afghanistan, not Iraq. But he volunteered after 9/11, he didn't get to choose where he'd be sent, and he certainly did pay the price.)

This is one of the beauties of an all-volunteer military force -- criticisms like that just don't make sense. The Americans fighting in Iraq are the ones who volunteered to fight. We're not sending poor black boys and white trash to Iraq; we're sending fighters to where the fighting is, period. If you want to fight, volunteer; if you don't want to fight, don't.

As for his conspiracy-theory notions of pre-9/11 plans... well, really. I thought you had to be smarter than that to be elected to Congress. I guess I was wrong.
Asked to clarify his Holocaust comparison, Rangel told Malzberg:

"I am saying that people's silence when they know terrible things are happening is the same thing as the Holocaust, where everyone would have me believe that no one knew those Jews were killed over there."
Oh, now I see. The Holocaust was A Bad Thing, and nobody stopped it; the war in Iraq is also A Bad Thing, and nobody's stopping that either.

Call this Rangel's Theory of Moral Equivalence: All Bad Things Are Equal (particularly if nobody stops them).

Kind of like the guy who said that, if one man pushes an old lady in front of a speeding bus, and another man leaps forward to push the old lady to safety, well, both men must be equally bad, because you just shouldn't push old ladies.

As Instapundit said (whence the link to this story): Bush really drives some people batty, doesn't he? I wonder how he does it. (I also wonder how he swallows it all with a straight face. I sure couldn't take the abuse he does and keep quiet about it, even if I knew that my opponents were digging their graves with their own mouths.)

More commentary on the subject from Arthur Chrenkoff, Polipundit, and Mark Coffey.

Side note: sometimes it's easier to laugh than to get angry. I take the Holocaust very, very personally, and when someone compares a pet peeve of the moment to the Holocaust, it blows my fuses pretty quickly.

As an addendum to Mark's pledge, let me just say this. If you want to compare an event to the Holocaust, stop and make sure first that it's an event in which millions of innocent people were brutally murdered; that this murder was systematic, with dozens of factories of death constructed from scratch in multiple countries, with massive assembly lines to bring thousands of victims to them; that a nation cold-bloodedly set out to destroy another nation, treating it as an accounting problem to make sure that not a single victim escaped. Show me your Dr. Mengele and his ghastly "medical experiments"; show me your equivalent of a camp commander who gives his eleven-year-old son fifty Jews, as a birthday present, to use as target practice. Show me people murdered wholesale for the gold in their teeth; show me an entire industry constructed around finding ways to kill masses of people more efficiently.

Then come and tell me that something was comparable to the Holocaust. Not before.

UPDATE: Slightly off-topic here -- getting away from Holocaust comparisons, that is to say, but still discussing Bush Derangement Syndrome -- Peggy Noonan hits it out of the park in her WSJ editorial today:

...let's do a thought experiment. Close your eyes and imagine this.

President Bush is introduced at a great gathering in Topeka, Kan. It is the evening of June 9, 2005. Ruffles and flourishes, "Hail to the Chief," hearty applause from a packed ballroom. Mr. Bush walks to the podium and delivers the following address.

Thank you, ladies and gentlemen. I want to speak this evening about how I see the political landscape. Let me jump right in. The struggle between the Republican Party and the Democratic Party is a struggle between good and evil--and we're the good. I hate Democrats. Let's face it, they have never made an honest living in their lives. Who are they, really, but people who are intent on abusing power, destroying the United States Senate and undermining our Constitution? They have no shame.

But why would they? They have never been acquainted with the truth. You ever been to a Democratic fundraiser? They all look the same. They all behave the same. They have a dictatorship, and suffer from zeal so extreme they think they have a direct line to heaven. But what would you expect when you have a far left extremist base? We cannot afford more of their leadership. I call on you to help me defeat them!"

Imagine Mr. Bush saying those things, and the crowd roaring with lusty delight. Imagine John McCain saying them for that matter, or any other likely Republican candidate for president, or Ken Mehlman, the head of the Republican National Committee.

Can you imagine them talking this way? Me neither. Because they wouldn't. Messrs. Bush, McCain, et al., would find talk like that to be extreme, damaging, desperate...

Why don't Hillary Clinton and Howard Dean know this? And what does it mean that they do not know it?

For as you know, the color-coded phrases in the "Bush speech" above come from speeches and statements given by Sen. Clinton and Democratic chairman Dean recently. (Mrs. Clinton's comments are in green and Mr. Dean's in purple, and I changed "right" to "left.")
Damn straight. Bush may be able to take such rhetoric, but it gets a lot of people angry. (No doubt Bush is counting on those angry people expressing their feelings at the polls in 2006. I hope he's right.)

What was that I said about "giving them as much room as they want"?

UPDATE II: Many thanks to Jeff Harrell and Mark in Mexico for their links! (I'm still green enough at this that, yes, I delight in every trackback.) Check out Jeff in particular, if you haven't already; he's done his homework far better than I did.

UPDATE III: All over the Blogosphere, one can read about Dick Durbin's continuation of this theme; I don't feel a need to throw my own two cents in. I'm intrigued, however, by James Taranto's take on it all --
There's been a spate of stories lately about President Bush's poor poll numbers--the importance of which is a mystery to us, given that the next presidential election is almost 3 1/2 years away, and Bush won't be a candidate in any case. At the same time, the Angry Left seems to be getting less inhibited: witness Howard Dean's various bouts of logorrhea, Charlie Rangel's and Dick Durbin's outrageous Americans-are-Nazis claims, and now this.

We suspect there's a connection here: The liberal media are persuading liberal pols that President Bush is in trouble with the public. The pols therefore conclude that the public is on their side, and this emboldens them to . . . well, in our opinion, to behave like total jackasses. Although we find this all somewhat vexing, we're guessing that in the end it will not pay off politically for the Dems.
Indeed. And I suspect that Bush is doing his thing, yet again -- giving his detractors as much rope as they want, confident that they won't know when to stop. So far, they don't even seem to notice. (Scary thought -- how much further will this nonsense go? We're already seeing comparisons of American troops to Nazis, and this is taken seriously; comparisons of Bush to Hitler are old news. I don't see how much worse it can get. But no doubt there are Democrats with better imaginations than mine.)


Wednesday, June 08, 2005


Neo-Neocon on International Law

I've been having a few ongoing discussions online (most notably at The Indepundit) in re international law. My primary thesis usually goes like this: International law is a cute idea, with very little application in reality. People (especially people in Western democracies) like to analogize: the rule of law works quite well here in the United States, so why can't it work on an international level?

The flaw in such reasoning, as far as I'm concerned, is that the United States has an overarching authority (the U.S. Government, which can enforce the laws); there is also accountability both in the making of laws (Senators and Congresscritters are, at least in theory, accountable to their constituents) and in the execution thereof (we can recall judges too, although we rarely do, and judgements can be appealed and/or overturned).

International law, by contrast, has none of this. Sure, the UN can claim to be a "world government" if it wants; it can also claim to be the rightful heir of the Holy Roman Empire, if that'll make Kofi Annan happy. But if the UN's decisions are not backed by force, then those decisions have no weight, and need not be taken seriously. (We've seen plenty of that in recent years.)

The same applies to the International Criminal Court at the Hague. Not only do they have no means of enforcing their decisions, they also have no accountability to anyone, either for their decisions or for their interpretation of "international law". (Who gets to write these "international laws", anyway? Where does one go to repeal them?)

What little we do have, in the international arena, is a collection of treaties -- agreements entered voluntarily between national governments. They are backed by force, in that a government can go to war if a crucial treaty was violated. But that's not at all analogous to the system of law recognized in the United States; it's more like a rational anarchy. (It's also worth remembering what Charles de Gaulle said about treaties: "Treaties are like roses and young girls. They last while they last.")

Neo-neocon has some interesting ideas on the subject:
International law is a beautiful idea, but it can work only with the consent of the governed. Ideally, all nations would hold hands and sing "Kumbaya," and then international law would function seamlessly. Short of that, the "law" has to have the "order" part as well--the teeth, as it were. And that requires force.

All law functions that way. If there were perfect consent (hardly possible), then force wouldn't be needed; if enough force is present, consent isn't needed--but law is most effective and humane when both are present, which they ordinarily are. The international law of war, however, runs up against a consistent failure to have either. I can't imagine a realistic set of circumstances under which that lack will be remedied any time soon--or perhaps ever.
By all means, read the whole thing.

Another analogy that occurs to me, by the way, is one I usually only use when talking to computer-weenies like myself. Think of government as a multitasking operating system, responsible for keeping many computer applications running smoothly without interfering with each other. In the early days -- say, the bad old days of Windows 98 and previous -- we used to talk of pre-emptive multitasking vs. non-preemptive multitasking... which was a fancy way of saying that either the operating system had control over the applications, or it didn't.

In a non-preemptive system, the operating system is just another program, like any other; and if the operating system says, for example, "Hey, Microsoft Word, you're hogging too much memory and too many file handles; release some to the general pool", MS Word could effectively reply, "Get stuffed". (This happened a lot under Windows 98, Windows 95, Windows 3.1, and so forth -- and, ironically, Microsoft applications were often the worst offenders.) In a preemptive system, however, the operating system has force and authority, and it can take resources away from a misbehaving application, or deny it requests for more resources. It can even unilaterally close a misbehaving application.

The analogy should be clear. The rule of law in the United States is analogous to a preemptive system, in that there's an overriding authority to enforce order if necessary. The international arena, on the other hand, is analogous to a non-preemptive system, in that different countries grab what they can, and issues are resolved -- to the extent that they're resolved at all -- by grudging negotiations among nations, with no overriding authority to force negotiators back to the table.

It's pretty well established, by the way, that preemptive systems are much more stable than non-preemptive ones. (This is also backed by common experience -- ask any Windows 98 user how often it crashed, compared to Win2K or Windows NT.) But we didn't have preemptive operating systems until we had hardware to support them; early Intel microprocessors didn't support the notion of different programs having different levels of authority, which is why we had to suffer through non-preemptive systems in the first place. (At the time, is was the best we could do.)

And similarly, it might be pleasant to act as though a World Government existed. But the fact is, it doesn't... and pretending that one does can only work so long as everyone pretends together, and nobody breaks the rules. It only takes one Saddam, or one Kim Jong Il, to show the farce for what it really is.

Maybe one day, we will have a World Government, and a World Army (with all national armed forces subservient to it), and a World Court with globally binding and enforceable decisions, and so forth. It won't be any time soon, though... and it sure won't be the UN and the ICC.

UPDATE: Daniel T. reminds me that, while preemptive multitasking operating systems arrived later than the non-preemptive ones, it wasn't problems in Intel's architecture that caused it. Versions of Unix, for example, were doing preemptive multitasking on 386 machines in the early nineties. (The problem with Windows wasn't the Intel architecture, but rather the internal design of Windows, which in turn was intended to run on top of DOS... which is like designing a hot sports car to run on twisted rubber bands. Windows NT and Windows 2000 solved the problem -- and introduced true preemptive multitasking -- by junking DOS, and about bloody time too.)

I concede the point, and apologize for the error, but I think the analogy is still valid. There's a world of difference between a roomful of equal players -- say, a children's playground with no adult supervision -- and a similar group with a clearly-defined overriding authority (say, the same children in their classroom, with a teacher who's quite willing to send trouble-makers to the principal's office). Ditto for non-preemptive vs. preemptive multitasking systems, or the UN vs. the American government.


Tuesday, June 07, 2005


Lurch Returns

Sorry, that's all I could think of when I saw this photo:

Yep, that's him -- John Forbes Kerry, during his student days at Yale.

I can't fault him for not revealing his school records during the 2004 campaign. Never mind dishonorable discharges -- that picture alone would have given a few million votes to Bush!

Oh, and a comment I haven't seen elsewhere yet -- why on Earth does college-age Kerry look like he's sporting a comb-over? More than thirty years later, we know that he doesn't wear a rug. (At least, we think he doesn't.) Why would anyone wear their hair that way if they didn't have to?

And those teeth... oh, my. I look at them and think "underbite" and "halitosis" simultaneously. I didn't know I could do that.

UPDATE: Be afraid. Be very afraid.


Monday, June 06, 2005


Lileks Does It Again

My my, what a killer quote!
Don't get me wrong. I want us to do the right thing. I don't think there should be a policy that permits interrogators to treat the Qur'an like it was, oh, a Bible discovered in the Saudi airport customs line.

He's apparently decided to separate his Bleats from his Screeds... so that people who like his political rants need not read about the Gnat, and people who enjoy reading about his daughter's escapades can focus on that without the distractions of politics.

Here we go. I'm looking forward to this!


Friday, June 03, 2005


An Amazing Act of Generosity

As seen at Kim du Toit's site:

That's Denzel Washington, who recently visited Brooks Army Medical Center in San Antonio.

Simply visiting, and cheering up the many hospitalized military personnel and staff, would have been plenty. But it seems Mr. Washington wanted to do more. Check it out -- you'll be impressed.

I do hope this gets covered in the press. If I see it, I'll add links. (As of 1PM, Google News comes up empty.)

Way to go, sir. A more patriotic act -- and an apolitical one, at that! -- I'd be hard-pressed to imagine.

UPDATE: The indefatiguable (and indispensable) has more of the story:
As might be expected with the U.S. military's having been engaged in combat operations in Afghanistan and Iraq for the last few years, the demand for space in Fisher Houses at some military facilities has exceeded their capacities. According to the Fisher House Foundation, when Denzel Washington was at Fort Sam Houston in December 2004, he did visit its Fisher House and learn of their need for additional facilities, and he did later make a substantial donation to the Fisher House Foundation (amount undisclosed, but it was described as "one of the most significant received in our history" by James Weiskopf, the foundation's vice president for communications), but he did not, as described above, "get out his checkbook" on the spot and write a check for the full amount needed to construct a new building.

Due to the generosity of the American public (including Mr. Washington), the Fisher House Foundation has already collected enough money to build another house, although it will not necessarily be constructed at the Brooke Army Medical Center.
That's certainly good enough for me.

UPDATE II: It seems that Jeff Harrell was on the case more than a month ago. If you like the story, check out his take on it. (It seems that he trusts far less than I do.) One of his commenters compares this story with Sandra Bullock's $1 million donation for tsunami relief, and I agree -- another apolitical donation of surpassing generosity.

By the way, I couldn't find anything on the subject through Google., however, found it right away. Who knew?

UPDATE III: Smash has more.


Thursday, June 02, 2005


Must Be A Slow Day For News

I mean, I just don't know what to make of this.
'Dukes of Hazzard Institute' VP hired
Office temp wins $100,000 job to watch reruns of Bo, Luke, Daisy and write blog.

The headline pretty much says it all. (And yes, they're serious.)

Oh, and I never thought I'd read about a tie-in between the Dukes of Hazzard and urinal cakes. I guess now I can die happy.... or something.

(hat tip: NRO.)


Wednesday, June 01, 2005


What Hath NYT Wrought?

The New York Times ran a front-page story yesterday, describing how the CIA has been battling terrorists using American charter flight companies -- and naming names.

I don't mean to be rude. But are they fucking insane???

What's next? "In a new development, police say they are close to arresting Mr. Idinnadooit, the notorious gangster and murderer. An anonymous source revealed that the gangster's hideout has been found at 45th and Main, and police SWAT teams will be on the scene shortly."

Bill Roggio, over at Winds of Change, treats the issue with great seriousness, as he should. (Hat tip: Instapundit.) As he points out, it doesn't matter if the CIA is now forced to switch to other, less secure charter companies... because the terrorists will assume it. We can therefore expect other charter companies to be targeted, just on the off-chance that a CIA operative might be aboard. (As such, a great many civilians are now at greater risk than they were yesterday. Thanks a million, NYT.)

What on Earth was the NYT thinking, running with that story? Has it not occurred to them that American journalists, in the eyes of al Qaeda, are Americans, and just as susceptible to attack as anyone else? Or do they think of themselves as "citizens of the world", in some bizarre beholden-to-nobody-but-my-editor twist of loyalty?

Don't get me wrong; I don't want American journalists to ignore stories that are damaging to the President and his administration, regardless of who's in power at the time. The muckrakers are needed; always have been, and always will be. But there are limits, and those limits are higher during wartime. (Perhaps I should say: they ought to be higher in wartime... unless your paper's circulation is more important to you than the lives of your neighbor's sons.)

I expect a sense of responsibility, from the journalists, for the stories they run... and I don't think I'm out of line to expect just a little loyalty from them, to the country that has enabled them to earn a living the way they do.

James Lileks sums it up succinctly:
Like I keep saying, it’s not their war. It's a war, to be observed dispassionately. And many don’t believe it’s a war at all.
I do wish they'd figure it out. Yes, it is a war, and yes, it is our war... and until they realize that, good and brave people are going to die for them -- and because of them.

More from Lileks:
I can’t tell you how many emails I get accusing me of mad foamy paranoia for thinking that Iran and / or North Korea would want to slip a teeny nuke to some Islamicist cell so they could drive it up Broadway.

Well, if it occurs to me, who loves this country, I imagine it occurs to those who hate it.

(Hat tip: Hugh Hewitt.)

My sympathies to the employees of Aero Contractors. I do hope that none of you die because of this miserable excuse for "journalism".

UPDATE: A quick Google search shows that Daily Kos had this story a day before NYT hit the newsstands... and scooped them. Clearly he has no sense of morals or propriety either.

UPDATE II: Frederick Turner at Tech Central Station has thought this through more thoroughly than I have, and speaks his thoughts eloquently. He spells out the possible motivations the NYT might have had, one by one, and one by one he demolishes them all. Check it out; it's well worth reading.

UPDATE III: Hmm, looks like someone's been reading my mail: "When I'm reporting, I'm a citizen of the world." -- Bob Franken, CNN. Exactly so, big guy. But you're ignoring the question of context. If you're writing an expose about corruption in the office of the White House Chief of Staff, then yes, it makes perfect sense to treat White House sources with skepticism. But why should that cover all your reporting? Are you assuming that White House sources are never trustworthy? -- and do you extend the same treatment to your other sources?

It's a rhetorical question; of course you don't. A reporter can never get anywhere by not trusting anybody. Some sources are more to be trusted than others, in specific areas of knowledge, and those sources are treated accordingly. (If you're writing a story about a small-town school in Iowa, and you know a 25-year teacher there, he's a good source for that story. He's not that good a source, necessarily, for your other story about fishing in Puget Sound. And the same works backwards as well -- if you mistrust a government official on the subject of a particular scandal, because there's a chance she's implicated in that scandal, that doesn't mean she must never be used as a source for any other story. It just means you need to be careful, and use common sense to determine what is or is not trustworthy.)

Personally, I think that reporters are more inclined to give an even break to places, and people, that they don't know much about. Speaking stereotypically, they might see two jungle natives fighting each other with spears and say, "This is not necessarily indicative of a warlike culture; I just don't know them that well, so I must not leap to conclusions." But American journalists know America quite well... and so my feeling is that they bend over backwards a bit, to avoid showing favoritism to the country they know best.

(This doesn't account for America-bashing foreign journalists, of course. But I think it explains a little of the press bias we're seeing these days.)

To Bob Franken, I'd like to reply thus: just remember where your offices are located. America has been damn good to you and to your profession... and deserves, at least, the benefit of the doubt when it comes to attack journalism.

You don't have to write puff pieces, extolling what a wonderful place America is. But you shouldn't assume, by default, that America is wrong unless proven right.


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