Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Enough Already: I've been arguing that the invasion of Iraq was justified even if Saddam Hussein was never in cahoots with Al Qaeda, because he was involved with other terrorist organizations. Now I'm seeing more and more evidence that Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden had a working relationship.

The left is trying to discredit everything Bush is doing in Iraq. And all of the bellyaching is falling flat on its face time and time again.

Iraq never had WMD! It's a Bush lie!

Iraq has used WMD plenty of times, including against the Kurds. During the first Gulf War, we discovered large caches of biological and chemical weapons, and our own soldiers got sick from them. Clinton even bombed Iraq in 1998 under Operation Desert Fox because Saddam Hussein refused to cooperate with U.N. inspectors who were sent to see whether Iraq was dismantling its WMD program. The presence of WMD in Iraq has been verified by Republicans, Democrats, the U.N., Germany, Russia, and even France.

Iraq didn't have WMD before the latest war!

You still believe Saddam Hussein got rid of all his WMD without telling anybody? Well, then you'll have to explain where this sarin and mustard gas came from. And there is a lot of evidence that Saddam shipped materials to Syria during the long run up to the war. Plus, ever heard of a spider hole?

Iraq has never supported terrorism!

Yes, Iraq did. And Saddam Hussein even bragged about it.

Iraq has never worked with Al Qaeda!

I believed that at first. But now it looks very much like Iraq did.

Iraq was not an imminent threat!

Were we supposed to wait until Iraq became an imminent threat? Iraq may have not had the military capability to invade Kuwait, again. But hateful despots with no other recourse are the first to depend on terrorism. And we didn't want to see Iraq's WMD fall in the hands of one of our enemies, like Al Qaeda.

Iraq was a sovereign nation! Leave them alone!

Iraq invaded Kuwait (for oil) and was massing its military along the border to invade Saudi Arabia. There was no provocation before this happened. We had to fight a war to stop them and push the Iraqi military back to its own country. When you lose a war after invading a sovereign country, you lose rights. We left Saddam in power only if he followed certain conditions. He broke nearly all of them.

We are killing Iraqi women and children

And men, too. But we haven't killed nearly as many as Saddam Hussein killed. Unfortunately, Saddam Hussein and the terrorists now operating in Iraq have no regard for human life. To save the millions of people who live in that country, there will be a few casualties. That is not the fault of the U.S. That is the fault of our enemies.

Reagan and other Republicans supported Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden!

Actually, both the CIA and Osama Bin Laden deny ever working together. While we did support some rebels during Afghanistan's fight against the Soviet Union, Bin Laden's group apparently was not one of them. Either that, or it's another CIA-Al Qaeda cover up. But I digress.

Yes, we did support Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war, and shame on us. Then Saddam Hussein betrayed us. Anytime you have a friend turn your back on you, that person is no longer your friend. But even if what we did in the past was wrong, that doesn't mean we can't do something right later on.

Other dictators do bad stuff and work with terrorists!

That sounds like an all or nothing approach -- either invade every country in the Middle East, Asia, and Africa, or none of them. We had good reason to go into Iraq, notably because of 12 years of Saddam Hussein ignoring the stipulations of the 1991 cease-fire, refusing to show that he had destroyed his WMD, and shooting at our planes patrolling the area for a decade. Iraq will also serve as an example for other countries to fall in line. Because there were so many reasons to invade Iraq, I'd like to hear one legitimate reason to let Saddam Hussein's crimes go unpunished.

This war is a distraction from the fight against Al Qaeda! Saddam Hussein wasn't a part of 9/11!

That, my friend, is called tunnel vision. The 19 hijackers who crashed our airplanes and murdered 3,000 Americans are dead. We cannot only focus on the 9/11 attacks. We have to disrupt the terrorist organizations to prevent another 9/11. We won't be able to defeat the terrorist infrastructure immediately, so we have to implement short-term and long-term fixes at the same time. That's why we're destroying individual terrorist cells while bringing down despots, like Saddam Hussein, who support terrorism. That way we can change the culture in the Middle East that breeds terrorism. We already destroyed Al Qaeda's number one ally and sponsor, the Taliban. Now that Al Qaeda is scattering like so many cockroaches, we can undertake other military endeavors while our intelligence agencies concentrate on cleaning up the pockets of terrorists that continue to scamper across the Middle East.

Al Qaeda is using the invasion of Iraq as a call to arms! We're only making things worse by making the terrorists mad!

What did we do to make the terrorists mad on 9/10? Osama Bin Laden and other terrorist leaders are propaganda experts. They will use any excuse to attacks us. We have to respond forcefully, or else Bin Laden would use our impotence as an excuse to attack.

This war will destabilize the Middle East!

So far it hasn't -- at least it's no more unstable than before the war. Instead we're centralizing the war on terror. As Al Qaeda and other terrorists enter Iraq to fight, our troops are much better equipped to fight back than the citizens in New York and Washington. And in the long run, democracy and capitalism will bring more stability to the Middle East.

We'll lose our allies through our unilateral actions!

While not everyone is on board, I'd hardly call a military action with England, Australia, and Italy and others on our side unilateral. Nevertheless, we delayed the war for months while we begged the United Nations to join our fight, and even warned the esteemed body that it risks fading into irrelevance if it didn't back up its own resolutions. Some of the countries were scared to join, so we went ahead and did what we needed to do.

After all that, we're still working with France on dealing with Haiti. The United Nations is helping oversee the upcoming Iraqi elections. NATO will help train the new Iraqi military. And we're still working with all these countries to fight Al Qaeda. This was a big disagreement, but every country involved has too much at stake to sever ties or to let pettiness interfere with confronting outside threats. We haven't lost anything.

This war was about oil, Halliburton, rich friends, daddy, and American imperialism!

That tinfoil hat looks absolutely lovely on you. It's funny how we're not getting any of Iraq's oil after the sovereignty handoff. It's also funny how we aren't keeping Iraq. An empire without colonies isn't much of an empire.

Bush said it would be a cakewalk! Cheney said we'd be greeted as liberators!

No serious official ever said this would be a cakewalk, and nobody should have expected as such. And a huge portion of the Iraqi population did greet us as liberators. They showered our soldiers with flowers and kisses. Who do you think those people were who were trying to tear down the statues of Saddam Hussein?

Yes, there was a small insurgency, and it grew as Al Qaeda and other terrorists poured into the country. We're fighting a war on terror, and now we're fighting terrorists on their turf. This is how we need to destroy the terrorists.

Okay, the war was worth it, but Bush mismanaged it!

We crushed the Iraqi military almost instantly. We captured a murderous dictator within months after the start of the invasion. Although terrorists continue to pour into the nation, we are repelling their attacks, leaving them with the only option of sporadic suicide attacks, and prompting the terrorist mastermind there to desperately cry for help. We have installed a new sovereign and representative government. Iraq has a Constitution that protects individual rights. Iraq will have free elections within a matter of months.

All that, and we lost less than a quarter of the number of American lives than we lost on 9/11. Nobody can realistically anticipate every setback. We expected a massive civilian exodus and a much longer military engagement in an urban setting that never took place. As mismanagements go, I'd like to see more like this.

I hate Bush!

Yes, I know.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Balance of Power: The Supreme Court has reined in the powers of the executive branch, curtailing the Bush administration's ability to hold terrorist suspects indefinitely without access to courts. While the president isn't powerless to hold terrorists, the suspects now have access to due process, making it trickier for the executive branch to keep sensitive information a secret while justifying the detentions.

Whether you agree with the Supreme Court or not, I'm guessing the decision was at least partially influenced by the prisoner-abuse scandal. While that scandal centered mostly in Iraq, it called into question much of how this administration is handling prisoners in Cuba and beyond.

The Supreme Court appeared to be attempting to strike a balance between the wartime powers of the president and the protection of the populace from an overzealous government. Bush doesn't appear to have abused any of his executive powers through the detention of Americans or foreign combatants. We're facing a wartime enemy who belongs to no particular nation or nationality and wears no uniform or insignia. Unlike conventional war, we don't know who our enemy is or how they'll attack. We have to use unconventional means to defend ourselves without sacrificing our American principles.

But while a state of war exists, there is no obvious end to this conflict. Congress has no one to declare war on. And we won't finish after we invade somebody's capital and capture the leader. So it would set a dangerous precedent to allow the executive branch unlimited power of detention under any declaration of possible danger.

The balance sought by the Supreme Court will be a work in progress, to be tweaked by other court rulings later on. In the tug of war for power, Bush apparently tried to grab a little too much. It will be interesting to see how the reduction of power will affect our prosecution of the war on terror.

Monday, June 28, 2004

Fast Break: That was pretty tricky of Bush to secretly hand off sovereignty to the Iraqi people to avoid terrorist attacks. While we still have American troops there supporting the new nation, we have divested all control over the inner workings of the government (some empire, eh libs?).

Unfortunately the surprise authority transfer indicates how serious a threat the terrorists still are in Iraq. The Iraqis may have control over their country for the first time in decades, but they still won't be completely free until the terrorist insurgency is destroyed.

Of course, now the terrorists can't claim to be attacking the Americans. They'll be attacking fellow Arabs and Muslims. And the new Iraqi government will have every right to crack down hard on the terrorists who wish to bring tyranny and oppression back to Iraq.

Friday, June 25, 2004

Not Even a Bulge: The prophecy has come to pass. Terrorists launched a broad attack in Iraq to disrupt the handoff. Although the losses hurt and more attacks are sure to come, we're still winning the war.

People were complaining in April that we were losing because Moqtada Sadr was wreaking havoc. But we were able to soundly defeat his militia, forcing Sadr to give up and sending his followers (the ones who were still alive) home. Now Sadr is offering to help fight back the latest insurrections.

We're facing down Abu Musab Zarqawi, and one by one the terrorist groups sponsored by Al Qaeda and other groups are being destroyed.

The new Iraqi government has sworn to fight the terrorists, and the Iraqi people support their new government.

American troops will still be there to help in the fight, because, after all we are still leading the charge against the terrorists. And we still have many allies willing to help.

No News: Now Dick Cheney is getting in trouble for cursing.

As I said before after John F. Kerry repeatedly used colorful language on his Web site and in a Rolling Stone magazine interview, nobody gives a fuck about this nonsense. This was a private conversation, not a nationally televised speech.

Personally, I trust men more if they're willing to use strong language from time to time. Good for Cheney and Kerry.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Backfire: The Federal Election Commission may have to ban television ads for Michael Moore's new Bush-bash movie, because the ads bash Bush.

What's that you say? Censorship? Free Speech? First Amendment? By golly, you're absolutely right.

Unfortunately, the bans are all perfectly legal under the McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Reform bill that was passed last year and upheld by the Supreme Court. As many of us have been warning for quite some time, this new law will have a chilling effect on free speech.

Political ads paid for by various groups are heavily restricted. In fact, they can't be shown at all within a month or two of the primary or general election -- exactly when the public is starting to pay attention. And since Mr. Moore's utterances are political in nature, they are to be controlled.

That flies in the face of the First Amendment, which seeks to protect political speech more than any other type of speech.

Michael Moore already takes advantage of one loop hole, considering he can show his film filled with all its lies and mistruth in the theater, but another group cannot run a commercial to counter it and set the record straight.

In regards to meeting the goals of cleaning up campaign ads and limiting money's influence in elections, the McCain-Feingold law has utterly failed. The law only succeeds in limiting who can participate in public discourse.

Update, More Moore Lies: Last night on The Daily Show, Mr. Moore blamed the attempts to ban his movie ads on some underground Republican conspiracy. And Jon Stewart -- stargazed and mindless, unlike his usual self -- bought it hook, line, and sinker. Between the two liberals, nobody questioned or mentioned the ill effects of McCain-Feingold, even though the law was largely a Democratic initiative.

Silver Bullet: A candidate for the Republican Senate nomination in Colorado wants to lower the national drinking age back to 18. Of course, that candidate is Pete Coors, the former CEO of the beer brand that bears his name.

His argument is that states should decide the drinking age. Currently the federal government withholds transportation money from any state that doesn't set the minimum age at 21. Louisiana was the last holdout. Now all states have the same drinking age.

Mr. Coors believes that teenagers would learn to drink responsibly if they were given the chance. Truth is, any teenager who wants to drink can find alcohol readily available. But making it illegal only makes irresponsible behavior more enticing.

In Europe, alcohol is much more readily available, and people are less likely to abuse it. But alcohol is part of family traditions, present at many meals. The Puritan atmosphere in this country puts a stigma on alcohol, making teenagers crave it more.

Unfortunately, even if Mr. Coors goes to Washington, the law would never change. This is one of the few things on which liberals and conservatives agree -- telling other people how to live their lives.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Common Sense: A Congressman has come up with a simple, reasonable plan to help the District of Columbia gain representation in Congress.

Currently 571,000 people live in Washington, DC, (more than the state of Wyoming, at 499,000) but none of the residents are able to elect a representative to Congress -- in the House or Senate. The District gets a delegate to the House, but that person is not able to vote on anything. Residents are only allowed to vote for electors in presidential elections.

The fact that half a million people are disenfranchised in our nation's capital is embarrassing (and is one of the reasons I live in neighboring Virginia). One of the problems is, the District is primarily made up of Democrats, and giving them the right to vote would cost the Republicans some power.

So House Government Reform Committee Chairman Thomas M. Davis III (R-Va.) introduced a bill last night that would offer a compromise. Two more House seats would temporarily be created, bringing the total number of House members to 437. The District would get one seat, and the state next in line for a seat would get the other.

The state next in line happens to be, Utah -- the reddest of the red states. That Republican stronghold would virtually guarantee that the balance of power wouldn't be shifted for the time being. Then, after the new census in 2010, the House membership would come back down to 435, and the District would retain a House seat.

Unfortunately, the bill has little chance of passing this year, what with the shortened calendar and the election looming. Also, the legislation would only address part of the problem. The residents of the District still need representation in the Senate.

Congress narrowly passed a constitutional amendment in 1978 to give the District one seat in the House and two seats in the Senate, just like every other state gets. But only a few of the states approved it, so the amendment failed.

It's amazing that people in this country ignore such disenfranchisement so easily. I guess they figure if it doesn't bother them, it must not be an issue.

You Could Be Next! This, from The Washington Times:

Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, a Republican, told the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday that a federal marriage amendment is needed because his state is forcing same-sex "marriage" on everyone else.
Whoa! I didn't realize that all men and women in Massachusetts were being forced to marry people of the same sex -- unless of course the esteemed governor is slightly exaggerating.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Everything's a Scandal: John Kerry has raised $148.5-million. Most of that money has been raised through checks worth $2,000 and less. That means at least 74,250 people have donated to Kerry's campaign.

One of them, apparently, was a shady figure. I can't help but wonder how this becomes news in the first place, and who spends their time combing through thousands of names to see if somebody is unlikable.

Nevertheless, the Kerry campaign is returning the check. But then another scandal reared its ugly head.

The soon-to-be Democratic nominee is vacationing in Nantucket. People argue that this makes him look rich, and voters don't like rich people -- even though they routinely elect those people to political office.

If you wonder why we never have any strong candidates for president, or any political office, it's because the good ones are smart enough not to deal with this crap.

Monday, June 21, 2004

Song and Dance: Bush lied again, liberals cry, because he claimed that Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden were best friends and planned the 9/11 attacks together.

I do have a day job, but I believe I've kept pretty close track of everything the Bush administration has been saying to justify the invasion of Iraq. And I have yet to hear him say that Iraq and Al Qaeda were best buddies and that Saddam was behind the 9/11 attacks.

Clarence Page attempts to bring us the best examples of Bush's supposed lies, and they are incredibly weak:

Last year, for example, Bush called Hussein "an ally of Al Qaeda" and declared "the battle of Iraq is one victory in a war on terror that began on Sept. 11, 2001."
Suddenly, liberals have gone from accusing Bush of exaggerating the truth to lying through innuendo. Truth is, if Bush ever wanted to convince us that Iraq planned the 9/11 attacks, he would have said so repeatedly. It doesn't count if he merely mentions Saddam Hussein and 9/11 in the same speech.

The fact remains that Saddam Hussein's regime and Al Qaeda officials did have extensive contacts. We don't have any evidence yet that Saddam helped plan any of the Al Qaeda attacks, but the two weren't complete strangers. The real question is whether the amount of contact between the two entities justifies the association. That's still up for debate.

And I'd love to have that debate. But the left again seems more rabid to paint Bush as a liar than to look at the facts. Even 9/11 Commission members admit that they are finding extensive contacts between Iraq and Al Qaeda. Many governments in the Middle East worked with Al Qaeda. Are we to believe that Saddam Hussein was the lone voice of reason who shunned the radical group, even though he was working with other terrorist groups?

Some people say the connections aren't enough. But I'm wondering what the standard should be for us to hold anybody accountable for the support Al Qaeda is receiving. No government sponsors Al Qaeda the way the Taliban in Afghanistan did -- mostly because they fear U.S. retribution. Saddam Hussein deserved to go for so many other reasons besides just occasional ties to Al Qaeda (read the archives).

President Clinton thought it was right to remove Saddam Hussein, particularly because of the unanswered WMD issue. Russia, an opponent of the war in Iraq, saw Saddam Hussein's regime as a terrorist threat and warned the United States that the dictator was planning attacks on the U.S. homeland and abroad.

Saddam Hussein deserved to go, and the people of the Middle East deserve democracy. We're in the process of accomplishing great things. Yet, liberals keep trying to undermine the entire mission simply for a political vendetta.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Issue of Trust: As the prisoner-abuse scandal lurks its way up the chain of command, John Kerry has proposed forming an independent panel to complete the investigation. That's a great idea, but don't expect it to get done.

The scandal may have started as a seemingly few bad apples causing a ruckus. Now evidence indicates that higher authorities sanctioned the abuse. And with the recent revelations that White House lawyers were discussing whether torture could be used against Al Qaeda prisoners, speculation has only grown.

To be sure, the White House memos only indicate a discussion was taking place, not that any torture had been planned. They don't prove any wrongdoing by senior White House officials. But they can't be treated as mere coincidence either. Questions need to be asked, and answers need to be investigated.

However, I'm afraid forming an independent panel will be politically impossible until after the election. After partisan bickering turned the 9/11 panel into a circus, I don't think we can trust anyone to investigate this without trying to exploit it for political gain.

That's a shame, too. While the abuse of prisoners doesn't undermine our just cause in the fight against terrorism, it's a serious blot that cannot be ignored. We have to show that we are above abuse and torture. Unfortunately, until an independent group figures out how this scandal happened, there will be a cloud of suspicion hanging over much of our future endeavors.

P.S. I hate to bring up this issue again, but Kerry has now floated John McCain's name (publicly or internally) for vice president, secretary of defense, and now the head of the independent panel. Kerry seems desperate to somehow make it seem like McCain is involved in his campaign, even when McCain is actively campaigning for Bush.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

A Little Schism: The Southern Baptist Convention has decided to end its association with the World Baptist Alliance because the global organization includes a Baptist denomination with openly homosexual members.

Why stop there? Southern Baptists should just disassociate themselves from the entire Christian religion.

The members don't follow the tenant of Christian love, considering their past actions of boycotting Disney, disrespecting Jews, barring women from the pulpit, and demanding that wives must "submit graciously to the leadership of her husband." They obviously play by their own rules and have disavowed the whole "love thy neighbor" and "do unto others" nonsense.

Many moons ago, a humor columnist for The Dallas Morning News named Steve Blow wrote a great piece parodying Southern Baptists -- a denomination of which he is a member. Every time I read about those jokers, I think about Rev. Blow's sermon.

Nice Try: Can a politician be any more obviously opportunistic than Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney? He's calling for John Kerry to resign from the Senate, arguing that Kerry is being distracted from his senatorial duties with his presidential bid.

Of course, Gov. Romney is a Republican and would be able to appoint a Republican as the replacement senator.

This seems to be a common theme that never works. When George W. Bush was running for re-election as governor of Texas in 1998, his opponent kept talking about the rumors of Dubya's presidential bid and argued that the state shouldn't have a part-time governor. I think Texans liked the idea of their governor running for president, and that may be partly why Bush was re-elected with 70 percent of the vote.

With Kerry as the Democratic presidential nominee, he's probably the most powerful senator in the minority party. It would be crazy for Massachusetts to give up such an asset, even if Kerry isn't in the Senate chambers everyday to vote. He'll be there when the votes count. In the mean time, he'll be a lot more influential than he normally would be.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Political Downturn: After some great tough talk about fighting terrorism, Kerry goes off criticizing Bush's handling of the economy. Production and job creation are skyrocketing, and unemployment and inflation are still down. What's not to love?

According to Kerry's staff, it doesn't matter that Bush came into office immediately after the dot-com bubble burst and shortly before terrorists targeted our economic might by destroying the World Trade Center. It also doesn't matter that the recession, which began under Bush's predecessor, was one of the shortest in American history. Bush was supposed to find the magical switch in the White House that immediately fixes economic woes.

"If you get D-minuses for three and a half years in college, one semester of a B-minus does not get you on the honor roll," said Gene Sperling, who was a top economic adviser to President Bill Clinton and is now advising Mr. Kerry. "Our economy doesn't recover after three and a half extremely weak years of job creation with just a few positive months."
In truth, the president has very little influence over the economy to begin with. But if Kerry wants to argue that the president controls all, then he has to give credit to Bush for doing a phenomenal job in pumping up the economy so quickly. However, if he wants to be realistic about the president's powers, then he should talk about important issues, such as balancing the budget and fighting terrorists.

al Ditto: Citizens of Iraq who want to vent about the occupying American force, the numerous terrorist attacks, or the shade of blue in the new Iraqi flag now have a medium. Talk radio has come to Baghdad -- and it's a hit.

Thousands of residents call in every day, griping almost as badly as Americans, according to news reports:

Unthinkable during the Saddam era, this is Iraq's first talk radio station. It is only a small commercial channel that has sprung up in the maelstrom of the capital, but has already struck a chord with residents.
Freedom of expression is the first ingredient for democracy. And once that freedom is unleashed, it's almost impossible to stop.

Sacre Bleu! The City of Paris wants to ban SUVs from the city streets. Parisians say of the vehicles: "They're polluters, they're space-occupiers, they're dangerous for pedestrians and other road users. They're a caricature of a car."

Given the extreme loathing some people have towards SUVs in this country, I wouldn't be surprised if some city council here attempts to pass a similar ban. I'm willing to wager that Berkeley will be the first to try.

If SUVs are so evil, why not ban minivans, too? They're big, dangerous, and polluting as well. Then we can start working on busses and tractor trailers. Eventually we can all travel peacefully on Segways.

Monday, June 14, 2004

Problem Solved: The Supreme Court decided to keep "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance. The justices didn't explicitly say the phrase was constitutional. They merely ruled that the man who filed the suit on behalf of his school-age daughter doesn't have legal custody to speak for her.

Thrown out on a technicality -- that's a very unsatisfactory way to go.

But it may have been the best move. I don't like the phrase "under God" in the Pledge, but I just wish that the phrase were never inserted in the 1950s. Now that it's there, I believe the phrase is benign and the Supreme Court shouldn't forcibly remove it. Among other problems, it would make for awkward mass recitals of the Pledge when conservatives say the old version and liberals say the new one.

This ruling, however, only delays eventual judgement. That's a typical chicken approach the Supreme Court takes to controversial issues -- like affirmative action (when they refused to rule on Hopwood then split the decision on the Michigan cases). I guess they plan to retire before they have to make any real decisions.

Friday, June 11, 2004

Rejection: So it appears John Kerry actually courted John McCain for the VP slot after all. Now I know who to blame for the incessant Kerry-McCain speculation stories that harped on the possibility of the impossible.

To be honest, I find this to be the most disingenuous thing Kerry has done so far. I'm all for bipartisanship, and I would like the two political parties to reach out to each other more. But Kerry doesn't have hardly anything in common with McCain. This was just a crass political move. And while political maneuvering is expected in politics, this seems like an underhanded attempt to claim the high road. And that doesn't count.

Butt Out: Russian President Putin ripped into the Democrats for criticizing Bush about Iraq. I agree with him (on that issue), but it's highly inappropriate for him to meddle in our campaign. He has to take the position that Kerry has just as much chance of being the president next year as Bush. And we don't need international tension from the getgo.

Did I say decrease? I meant increase: How can the State Department accidentally report that the rate of terrorist attacks around the globe went down? This is a huge mistake for the Bush administration. State Department officials should have done everything to make sure that there's not even the slightest perception that Bush is cooking the books to make the war on terrorism seem more successful than it is. I honestly didn't put much stock in the numbers when they first came out. It would have been too soon for our war on terrorism to have any dramatic effect. But there is no excuse to make that kind of a mistake about such a sensitive (politically and realistically) issue.

Wrong Again: I knew by commenting about the lack of protesters at Reagan's funeral procession that I'd jinx the situation. These despicable people shown here are just as bad as the scum who protested at Matthew Shepard's funeral because he was gay. I think we all know that these people who harbor nothing but hate in their hearts are the ones who will burn in the end.

Counterattack: I never bothered reading the piece in New York magazine by Alexandra Polier (you know, the woman who did not have an affair with John Kerry). But Howard Kurtz gave the highlights, and I admire the temerity of this woman to fight back against the rabid media.

When the "adultery" story first broke on Drudge, journalists who were too high and mighty to run a story based on rumors nevertheless harassed the hell out of her, called her family, and even hacked into her e-mail. Some papers smeared her name with no evidence of an affair.

So after the rumors were accepted as false, Ms. Polier decided to turn the tables on the journalists. She began calling them one by one to interview them and press them on how they could act so much like children:

National Review's David Frum told her he regretted it. Alexandra Wolfe, Tom's daughter, who had compared her to Paris Hilton in a New York Observer profile, apologized, saying: "I just didn't think of you as a person."

Democratic consultant Chris Lehane, who had jumped from Kerry to Wes Clark, denied peddling the rumor but was unavailable after a brief conversation. Matt Drudge, who gave the rumor huge play, told Polier: "In retrospect, I should have had a sentence saying, 'There is no evidence to tie Alex to John Kerry.' I should have put that." He added, "If Clark had not gone out there and said, 'Kerry is going to bomb,' I never, ever, would have gone anywhere near this."

Brian Flynn, a reporter for London's Sun who was the first print guy to name Polier, told her editor he had "a fantastic source" on the story. When the editor noted that the source had been, um, wrong, Flynn cried: "You've just ambushed me," he cried. "You've ambushed me!"

When Polier got on the phone and said she had some questions, this intrepid journalist said: "It's not a good time right now. Let's meet up next week."

"Why did you quote my mother when she wasn't even home?" Polier asked.

"I really can't talk about this right now, Alex," Flynn said. After that, he insisted she talk to the Sun's PR person, who refused to comment. Talk about being able to dish it out but not take it. Why is it so hard for some journalists to take responsibility for the damage they inflict?

Polier's conclusion: "I am struck by the pitiful state of political reporting, which is dominated by the unholy alliance of opposition research and its latest tool, the Internet."
I'd like to hope that this episode would have a cooling effect on the media hyenas, making them think twice before they jump on another trash story -- but I know that won't be the case. I don't understand why the media believes that sex and adultery equals news. It's up to us -- every time the media reports some sex scandal, we need to turn the news off and find something else to read.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Georgia On My Mind: Ray Charles, a musical legend, died today at the age of 73. He was one of the most talented men who ever lived. His life and his music inspired many and influenced generations of musicians. He will be sorely missed.

Hateful: For those who wonder why liberals get stuck with the description of "anti-American", it's because many of them (not all) are rooting for America to lose this war. Citizen Smash gives us an example of a group in this country that is trying desperately to "defeat the U.S. war machine" and are rooting for the Iraqi terrorists. He then reminds us to talk to our kids about what they're learning in school.

InstaPundit has been tracking examples for quite some time. ("It is not wrong to root for your country's defeat if your country is evil," one says.) And these aren't just fringe types. Some of these people are widely known.

I keep hearing the liberal argument that Bush is Hitler, the Americans are Nazis, and the Iraqi terrorists are equivalent to the French resistance who fought the Germans in WWII.

If that's the case, then either these liberals hate America, or they don't hate Nazis.

Jumping Off Point: Some members of the Religious Right want to make a pilgrimage to South Carolina, then secede from the union. (Hat tip: Andrew Sullivan)

The Christians are apparently tired of living in a Godless country that allows homosexuals to be, well, homosexual. Every time I hear Christian conservatives rail against homosexuality because it's forbidden in the Bible (Lev. 18:22), I always want to ask why they don't protest against Red Lobster and other restaurants that serve shellfish, which is an abomination (Lev. 11:10), or why it's okay for men to shave their beards, although it's explicitly prohibited (Lev. 19:27).

Therefore, I say, Bon Voyage! We're better off without them. Then finally we can see what medical breakthroughs can come through stem cell research, let our terminally ill die peacefully with physician-assisted suicide, and just be allowed to have a good time without somebody whining about the moral fabric of something or another.

Unfortunately for both of us, these Christian conservatives don't know their history. South Carolina has already tried to secede from the union -- twice! (1832 and 1860) Both times the sitting president got permission from Congress to use military force to keep the state from splitting the nation in two. I doubt Bush will let South Carolina sail away across the Atlantic, if only because he needs the state for his re-election bid.

In the mean time, the Religious Left wants to get back into politics. With so many conservatives claiming a monopoly over Christianity, I would like to bring the left back into the debate so maybe Christians can concentrate on one of the tenants of their religion -- helping people -- instead of trying to dominate government.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Moving: I stepped out of the office briefly to see President Reagan's funeral procession as it moved on its way to the Capitol. Today was much hotter and more humid than it had been in recent days. And standing in the middle of a huge crowd of people that pressed against the barriers along the street seemed to raise the temperature another 10 degrees. The police providing the security and the Marine honor guards also baked in their thick uniform coats.

But it was moving to see the ceremony, with its pomp and circumstance, after the motorcade slowly rolled up. The crowd cheered when Nancy Reagan appeared from her car. She clung tightly to the arm of her Marine escort and graciously waved to the onlookers. Then the scene became strangely quiet as the honor guards lifted the president's flag-draped casket from the Hearse and carried it to the horse-drawn carriage.

We strained to see the ceremony through the crowd. Hundreds of people's arms were raised in the air, lifting camcorders and disposable cameras to capture the event. Eventually the procession slowly moved down the street toward the Capitol. And people clapped once more as the casket moved out of sight.

The ceremony hit a crescendo when 21 Air Force jets flew by, and in a stunning display, conducted the Missing Man performance, with a single jet rocketing upwards toward the blue heavens.

Above all else, it was nice to see a Washington event that didn't involve some sort of protest. Although everybody in attendance had different views -- about politics and this president we were laying to rest -- this was a moment of respect and tribute. It was a nice reminder that we're all on the same team.

I Agree With Me: I'm a huge fan of P.J. O'Rourke. And he has a great essay on how ludicrous conservative and liberal talk radio and bash books have become. None of them aim to convert anyone. They're all just preaching to the choir. (Hat tip: Southern Appeal)

In addition, he gives us this little tidbit about his political philosophy:

I am a little to the right of ... Why is the Attila comparison used? Fifth-century Hunnish depredations on the Roman Empire were the work of an overpowerful executive pursuing a policy of economic redistribution in an atmosphere of permissive social mores. I am a little to the right of Rush Limbaugh. I'm so conservative that I approve of San Francisco City Hall marriages, adoption by same-sex couples, and New Hampshire's recently ordained Episcopal bishop. Gays want to get married, have children, and go to church. Next they'll be advocating school vouchers, boycotting HBO, and voting Republican.
Reading that essay kind of makes me wonder whom I'm reaching with this blog. I don't expect to change any minds, simply because I don't have time to craft persuasive arguments to support my opinions. I just heave blurbs that describe my initial gut reaction to issues and events.

I get the occasional hate mail. But I also get messages from people telling me that I'm right on. However, I have yet to have anyone tell me that I've shown them the way and that they are shedding their political labels in disgust and will devote their lives to self-righteous indignation toward partisan sheep -- or somesuch.

At the very least, I just hope some partisans read this blog and realize that the people who believe in Policy X (whatever it may be) aren't hateful, immoral demons (on either the right or left), but that we are rational people who want the best for the greatest number of people. That's all.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Reality Check: I think we can safely take a break from predicting who will win the presidential election for the time being -- nothing that happens now will have any effect.

I say that as a very frustrated voter in Arlington, Virginia. You see, U.S. Rep. Jim Moran won the Democratic primary against Andrew Rosenberg. Northern Virginia, just outside of Washington, DC, is a Democratic stronghold, and it is nearly impossible for a Republican to win here. So Moran is virtually guaranteed re-election to his seat in the House of Representatives.

That's despite his belief that the "Jewish community" is to blame for the war in Iraq, his acceptance of a questionable loan from a bank that was the subject of legislation pending in Congress, and his penchant for getting into fist fights -- even on the House floor.

Rosenberg seemed like a nice little Democrat who would share the same party principles that Moran holds without providing any of the controversy. My vote for Rosenberg was the first ever cast in a Democratic or Republican primary. I thought this time it was more important to vote for the right guy than to avoid any perceived party affiliations.

Apparently I was one of the few who felt that way.

So if fisticuffs and anti-Semitic comments from a couple years ago don't keep you from getting re-elected, then the death of a former Republican president several months before Election Day will have absolutely no impact on anything. The problem with Rosenberg is that people weren't voting for him, we were voting against Moran. And apparently that attitude rarely wins.

Fast Break: I don't know if this NY Post column is true, but it says that ABC first broke the news of Reagan's death, and that other broadcasters went crazy to try to catch up. Here's the whole thing:

When ABC News broke the sad news of Ronald Reagan's death Saturday afternoon, it sent its competitors into a frenzy. The press corps traveling with President Bush in Normandy first heard the news when ABC's White House reporter Terry Moran began doing a live report in their midst. The reaction, according to one eyewitness, was "total chaos -- people running everywhere, knocking into things." CNN's John King yelled into his cellphone that CNN had been beaten and was so upset he threatened to quit. King ended his tantrum by throwing his cellphone to the ground. Bad move: his meltdown was captured on tape. So just how did ABC get such a big jump? The network refused comment, but insiders credit ABC News chief David Westin. Apparently, working the phones produces better results than throwing them.
We journalists are obsessed with getting the news first. But the audience and readership don't care, and hardly ever really knows who got the scoop. I found out about Reagan's death about an hour after it happened on Saturday. I just happen to be flipping through the channels when I saw the marathon eulogies underway.

Competition among news organizations is healthy, and tends to get more information to the public at a faster rate. But, other than Howard Kurtz, nobody ever keeps score. We have to remember, while competition is great, good sportsmanship is even better.

Breakthrough: France, Germany, Russia, and Spain have agreed to vote for the new Iraq resolution in the United Nations, clearing the way for a unanimous approval. This resolution will recognize Iraq's new sovereignty and will lead to democratic elections in January.

It just goes to show that allies can have disagreements without dissolving their relationships. I believe France and the others will continue to be strong allies in our war on terror.

Monday, June 07, 2004

Sound of Silence: Amid all the gushing over Ronald Reagan, The Washington Post ran an interesting article today covering Russia's reaction to the death of our famous leader.

While the Russian activists who tried to bring down the Soviet Union's tyrannical regime in the 1980s spoke highly of Reagan, many Russians were less admiring. The article reports that many people there, about 70 percent, are still bummed that their country is no longer a super power.

But what surprised me is that Russian President Vladimir Putin has remained neutral and issued no statement on Reagan's death. It's customary for all foreign heads of state to give some courteous statement to say at least that the recently deceased was an honorable person. Even some of Reagan's political opponents, like Mikhail Gorbachev and Ted Kennedy, offered their condolences and praise.

Putin's silence says a lot about the current situation in Russia. The Cold War may be over, but we still have to deal with Russia's cold shoulder. Hopefully that bitterness can be kept at bay while we continue to spread democracy and freedom to new parts of the world.

Friday, June 04, 2004

It's officially a trend: We've had 1.5-million jobs created since August, giving us a 5.6-percent unemployment rate (the rate hardly ever falls below 5 percent). Yet, for some reason, certain people are going to continue moaning about the faltering economy and the weak job market during this campaign. And anybody who does loses all credibility, in my opinion.

The Enemy of My Enemy: CenterFued has an excellent essay about the misplaced priorities of the left, pointing out how they tend to lob more verbal attacks at the Bush administration than the terrorists.

The people who should have most resoundingly declared their opposition to al-Qaeda's brutal, theocratic ideology and stood in defense of Western liberal democracy decided that this was yet another opportunity to drive home US culpability for all that is wrong in the world, either through its actions or inactions, and to identify with "oppressed people".
Read the whole thing.

Thursday, June 03, 2004

SWEET! CIA director George Tenet resigns -- for "personal reasons".

Update: Now that I've caught my breath, I can say some more. It's about damn time this happened. I appreciate Bush's loyalty to his workers, but we have had one intelligence mishap after another under Tenet's reign. 9/11, WMD, no OBL.

But it won't be enough to replace Tenet with another spook. This is an opportunity to shake up the CIA and other agencies and mold them in such a way that they can concentrate on fighting the war on terrorism. While I recognize that we have prevented attacks from occurring in our country since 9/11, I still get the sense that we've also been lucky. And we're going to need much more than that in the long run.

Changing the structure of our intelligence agencies won't happen overnight. But we've been putting it off for too long. Let's use the opportunity of Tenet's ouster to make some significant changes.

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Whither Saudi Arabia? Yesterday, NPR had experts discussing Al Qaeda and what it wants to accomplish. One guy said something to the effect that, "If the United States is Al Qaeda's #1 enemy, then Saudi Arabia is #1a." His conclusion was that Al Qaeda hates the current Saudi royalty in charge and wants to conduct its own regime change, as evidenced by the terrorist attacks there over the weekend.

I'm a little confused by this because I've heard so much about Saudi Arabia secretly giving aid to terrorists, including Al Qaeda. John Kerry even highlighted the connection between Al Qaeda and Saudi Arabia in one of his recent national-security speeches.

Is Saudi Arabia trying to play both sides? Or are different elements within the government supporting different sides? It doesn't look like the answers are clear, and just goes to show how complicated this war on terrorism is and will be. Don't expect any easy answers.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Intelligence? Saudi Arabia got hit pretty hard by Al Qaeda over the weekend, and that country has shown its own incompetence in dealing with terrorists. But aside from that, I'm wondering if those attacks were what the U.S. Justice Department was talking about when officials there said they expect an imminent attack, possibly over Memorial Day weekend. Remember, the warning was based only on an increase in "terrorist chatter."

In World War II, we broke the Japanese code early on and were able to follow almost everything they were doing. Now it's been almost three years since 9/11, and we aren't able to tell whether attack is going to happen overseas or in our own back yard.

I hope I'm wrong about our current state of our intelligence gathering. People say that the fact that there hasn't been another terrorist attack in the U.S. since 9/11 is an indication of how well we're doing. I'm still skeptical.

Declaration of War: In John Kerry's national security speech:

Today, we are waging a global war against a terrorist movement committed to our destruction.
To be honest, this is the first time I've heard John Kerry call this situation a "war". Maybe he's been saying it all along, and I've just missed it. But I'm happy to hear it now.

I thought about going through piece by piece and critiquing Kerry's proposed foreign policies -- highlighting what I like and don't like -- but I'm not going to bother (which is good, because I don't have time). I'm just happier that he is at least talking tough to the terrorists. I've heard so much on the left who fret about making the terrorists mad and consider any military endeavor on our part as a cause of terrorism, that I'm glad Kerry is separating himself from such nonsense and is talking about offensive operations against Al Qaeda.

I have a message today for al Qaeda or any terrorist who may be harboring these illusions: We may have an election in here in America. But let there be no doubt -- this country is united in its determination to destroy you. And let me be absolutely clear: As commander-in-chief, I will bring the full force of our nation's power to bear on finding and crushing your networks. We will use every available resource to destroy you.
And it looks like he's finally taking my advice (okay, it wasn't just mine):

We must also have the best possible intelligence capabilities. Nothing is more important than early warning and specific information when dangerous technologies are being developed or sold. Whether it was September 11th or Iraq’s supposed weapons of mass destruction, we have endured too many intelligence failures. That is why I will do what this President has failed to do: reform our intelligence system by making the next director of the CIA a true director of national intelligence, with true control over intelligence personnel and budgets all across the government.
Another good point is to get rid of our dependence on foreign oil -- hell on all oil for that matter, because there really is no other kind. And he specifically fired a warning shot across Saudi Arabia's bow. I like it, even though I recognize that it's risky.

That's the problem. We want to talk tough while maintaining international coalitions to root out terrorists. Bush is doing it one way. Kerry would do it a similar way. But let's agree, there is no easy way.

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