Saturday, July 31, 2004

The Democrat Convention, Two Days Later

I missed a day of posting because of a computer problem. (The cat destroyed the only telephone cable I had for the dial-up modem here at the beach house; have you ever tried to find telephone cable in a beach community? I knew we should have left him at home with the dog.) It all worked out well in the end, as my half-baked thoughts are now more fully-formed and, I find, supported by writers whom I respect.

Tough Criticism of Kerry's Speech

Lawrence Kaplan writes for the left-of-center New Republic, which admittedly has a strong recent neoconservative tradition. Still, I was surprised at the ferocity of this critique of Kerry's speech. It makes me want to wince on Kerry's behalf.

Adding to that is this well-reasoned and devastating analysis by Amir Taheri. Clearly Kerry's speech does not fare well on careful reading.

So What, If Anything, Did The Speech Accomplish?

Having thought the speech over for 24 hours now, I think it was substantively a colossal failure although stylistically adequate. Kerry did manage to come across as more human, likeable, and so forth, so the speech was not a total failure. But the content and general themes of the speech were awful, as Kaplan's piece so eloquently establishes. I really don't know what convincing response an intellectually honest Kerry supporter can offer.

I'm somewhat gratified to read David Brooks agreeing with me here. As Brooks notes, the speech sounded good but on re-reading is "an incoherent disaster."

But Does Substance Really Matter in This Campaign?

That's a serious question. Maybe, just maybe, Kerry can go on giving vacuous speeches and it won't make any difference. Indeed, that may even be Kerry's strategy: Fuzz over his record, emphasize platitudes, and coast to victory, relying on a compliant elite media not to take him to task for doing so. (As blind as that elite media is, I wonder if even they could allow such a thing to happen. After all, as Dan Rather says, they're all really "common-sense moderates." Har-har.)

Is Kerry planning to coast his way into the White House? Here's what Fred Barnes has to say about that in the latest Weekly Standard. As always, Fred's take is thoughtful and interesting. He notes in the first paragraph of his piece, for example:

IS THE PRESIDENTIAL RACE John Kerry's to lose? After a successful
Democratic convention and an adequate but uninspiring acceptance speech, Kerry would never say so publicly. But that's what he and his advisers believe. Their theory is that the country has fundamentally made up its mind that President Bush shouldn't have a second term. After all, his reelect number--the share of the electorate that thinks he deserves another four years--is only 43 percent. So Bush would need almost all of the undecided vote to tilt his way, but normally they wind up voting two-to-one for the challenger. That's Kerry. Besides, political analyst Charlie Cook has studied the undecided and found them to be overwhelmingly anti-Bush. All Kerry has to do is make himself minimally acceptable.

Editor's Note: Indenting is supposed to stop here, but try as I might I cannot figure out how to turn it off. So the rest of this post is indented. I hope you all are having fun watching me learn how to do this.

Problem is, as much as I love Fred, I have been following his
prognostications since 1988 or before, when he was a famed yeller on the McLaughlin Group. (Remember them?) And I have never known Fred to be right. I don't intend that as a put-down of Fred, who is not alone in his errors; I can't think of any pundit who's ever correctly predicted the twists and turns of electoral behavior. (Bill Schneider of CNN has an even worse record, and he is more obnoxious because he delivers his predictions with such certainty.)

As Fred Barnes himself notes at the end of the same piece, ". . . I think the race is not Kerry's to lose but Bush's to win. But I've been wrong before."

Michael Moore: The Heart and Soul of Democrat Foreign Policy Thinking?

As for Mr. Moore, here is a pretty tough discussion of his role in the convention and in the Democrat party generally. It touches on the same basic question as Kaplan's piece: Just how honest (or dishonest) is the face Democrats and Kerry are putting on their foreign policy?

Finally, the Democratic Leadership Council, in a review of Dude, Where's My Country? has actually attacked Moore's dishonesty as an author and documentarian. (The DLC review does not comment on Farenheit 9/11, which had not been released when the review appeared).

Just when I thought the entire party was disgracing itself by buying into (or not denouncing) his slimy craft. Read the DLC review here. And here's an excerpt [what follows is also supposed to be indented; as to my inability to do that, see above]:

Is Michael Moore a courageous political documentarist who unmasks the chicanery all around us -- or just a charlatan in a clown suit? Is he an entertainment genius or a dangerous ideologue? The answer, of course, is all of the above. The problem is that you never know which of the four is doing the talking in Moore's movies and books. The end result is that the writer-filmmaker spreads a fog of misbegotten notions about America, politics, business, and international affairs among his youthful, left-leaning following at home and, indeed, around the world. Uninformed readers and viewers tend to believe everything he says.

Thursday, July 29, 2004

Negative Campaigning and Kerry's Clever (?) Strategy

Here's the formula Kerry is trying to make work for him.  Some call it "inoculation:"

  • Run away from your record.  Try like crazy to avoid talking about such things as voting against every single major weapons system proposed during your tenure in the U.S. Senate.
  • Challenge your opponent to avoid "negative campaigning," as in Kerry's plea to Bush that the two candidates "respect one another," yada yada yada.
  • When the Republicans try to talk about your record (which you don't want discussed), accuse those big meanies of negative campaigning. 

Unless I am horribly mistaken, that is what they are going to try to do.  The GOP will simply make it clear that they are talking about the facts of Kerry's record, and make him defend that record.  That GOP approach was clearly working early in the campaign, after it became clear that Kerry would be the nominee but before things started to go wrong in Iraq (and the Joe Wilson - Richard Clarke - Abu Ghraib trifecta was accomplished).  That is why, in my view, Kerry and Co. are so afraid of the tactic-- it works.  So they are trying to inoculate Kerry against exposure of his record.

Let's see how this part of the campaign plays out.  My money's on Bush.

Two Subjects The Democrats Don't Want to Talk About

The first is Michael Moore, who has been everywhere at the Boston convention.  No, he's not just a jolly prankster, they take him seriously, and no leading Democrat-- not one, least of all the two men at the top of the ticket-- have disavowed anything Moore has said.  He's their guy, it seems.

With that in mind, go here, where Hugh Hewitt has posted a transcript of Moore's speech to a Democrat group at the convention Wednesday.  Remember, 95% of the delegates there oppose the war completely, although the party platform does not express their view.  At the end of the day, I think Moore really hurts Kerry in many subtle and not-so-subtle ways.

The second subject to be avoided is Kerry's record.  We hear about his Vietnam service ad nauseum, but nothing about his record as a public servant over the last 30 years or so.  Rudy Giuliani highlighted this today very sharply (and, I think, masterfully), as reported in this MSNBC story.

This is going to be one interesting campaign to watch.

What The Thinking Bush-Hater Worries About In The Middle of The Night

Via the folks at Power Line, we have this nugget from one Tom Junod, a confessed Bush-hater who is apparently still willing to indulge in occasional bouts of honesty with himself.  Junod writes in Esquire magazine:

"The people who dislike George W. Bush have convinced themselves that opposition to his presidency is the most compelling moral issue of the day. Well, it's not. The most compelling moral issue of the day is exactly what he says it is, when he's not saying it's gay marriage. The reason he will be difficult to unseat in November—no matter what his approval ratings are in the summer—is that his opponents operate out of the moral certainty that he is the bad guy and needs to be replaced, while he operates out of the moral certainty that terrorists are the bad guys and need to be defeated. The first will always sound merely convenient when compared with the second. Worse, the gulf between the two kinds of certainty lends credence to the conservative notion that liberals have settled for the conviction that Bush is distasteful as a substitute for conviction—because it's easier than conviction."

Pretty good statement of the issue, don't you think?

James Lileks Asks An Important Question

" Right now I have a browser window open to Fark, and a T-shirt ad shows Bush’s face with the logo 'American Psycho.' What else do you need to know? As Teddy Kennedy said in his convention speech: 'The only thing we have to fear is four more years of George Bush.' It’s really quite simple, isn’t it? We live in a manufactured climate of fear ginned up by war-crazed neocon overlords. There is no threat. The only thing we have to fear is Bush, who sits as we speak in the Oval Office sucking the marrow from Whoopi’s shin-bones. If so, I wonder why anyone agreed to the stringent security policies that characterize this year’s conventions. Why the bomb-sniffing dogs? Why the snipers? Why the metal detectors, the invasive inspection of bags? Is it all an elaborate defense against Bush crashing the party and setting off a bomb belt, shouting God is Great, y’all!No, they’re fearful of something else.

"Damned if I know what, though. Damned if I know."

The Foreign Policy Freak Show in Boston

Claudia Rosett's most recent column is a pretty devastating critique of the Democrats' foreign policy views over the last 28 years or so.  It's  a good reminder of why "what to do in the world?" has not been the party's strong suit since about 1964.

Here's an excerpt, describing the cast of characters in the show:

"A Democratic foreign policy is what I was looking for when I switched on the TV Monday to watch the opening lineup at the Democratic Convention. I sat through Jimmy Carter ("Brezhnev lied to me"), Al Gore ("no controlling legal authority"), Hillary Clinton (the "woulda coulda shoulda" commodities trader) and then, at last, there he was, Big Bill (ol' "what the meaning of 'is' is") telling us that sending Sen. John Kerry to the White House would make America safer, smarter, stronger--just the way it was by the time Mr. Clinton left office (a March Rich pardon on his lips and state silverware in his luggage--or did Sandy Berger pack that in his pants?)."

A few of Ms. Rosett's points seem a little overwrought, but all in all it's a great piece of writing.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Why This Election Is Important

Those of you who know me know that to me, the most compelling, the most practical, the most obvious reason why George W. Bush must be re-elected is that the Supreme Court is bound to change in the next four years, and one vote either way will directly affect the lives of millions of Americans for years to come.  (Exhibit A:  Look at the havoc wreaked by Roe v. Wade, and that was over thirty years ago.)

I am a little suprised that no justice retired (or died) during the first years of GWB's term, but I suspect the White House knew it did not have the votes to overcome a filibuster against a nominee that might change the "balance" of the Court ("balance" meaning the current lineup that ensures that although Roe might be whittled away a little, it won't be overturned).  But in the next administration, whoever is president, it's very likely that there will be changes.  Justice Stevens is 84 years old.  Rehnquist is in ailing health and wants to step down.  O'Connor would like to retire as well.  (If Kerry wins the latter two may hold on to see if he'll be re-elected, but Stevens will retire, I bet.  Kerry would simply replace him with a justice who will vote the same way.)

Which brings me to the point of this post.  Today the ever-reliable Hugh Hewitt interviewed Kate Michelman, now President of NARLA Pro-Choice America and chair of the Democratic National Committee's Save the Courts campaign.  The Save the Courts campaign, you say?  What's that?  Well, here's a link to the transcript of Hugh's interview with Ms. Michelman.  She'll tell you what her DNC post entails.  As you'll see, regarding the courts, the Democrats get it.  They know what's at stake and they are pretty open about what they intend to accomplish.

What is fascinating to me about this is that the issue goes far beyond abortion rights.  What about gay marriage?  Here's an excerpt from the interview about that:

HEWITT: You want same sex marriage, and you’ll take federal courts imposing it.

MICHELMAN: You say I want same sex marriage. What I’m saying to you is I want gay and lesbian men and women to be free to exercise their personal rights, and that’s what I want. Whether it’s…however you…whatever the law needs to be to make sure that that happens, I believe it should happen.

HEWITT: And even if a court imposes it…

MICHELMAN: Listen…listen…women…women for over a century have been struggling for equal rights, for the right to control our lives, for reproductive freedom and choice, for equal pay…um…it takes sometimes a long time to achieve freedoms, and I think gay…

HEWITT: But in essence, you’re anti-democratic, small d, because you don’t care how that comes about. Because no legislature has ever passed a law even remotely approaching same sex marriage rights, right?

MICHELMAN: Well, I do…listen…I do…I know that you believe the courts…they’re activists when they grant rights like this, or recognize rights I should say. Courts don’t grant right, they recognize them as constitutional rights. I believe there are some rights, certain rights that are fundamental to human dignity, to autonomy, to full realization of our potential, that have to be recognized by the courts as fundamental and protected.

HEWITT: Even if there’s no democratic action?

MICHELMAN: And that a democratic process is not necessarily the right way to go.

Well, you've got to love her candor:   "A democratic process is not necessarily the right way to go."  That certainly lays the liberal view on the line, doesn't it?

This issue hits home to me on a personal level.  I am active as an adult Boy Scout leader and have been for years.  The Scouts have two problems, in the minds of the Left:  (1) they have essentially a "don't ask, don't tell" policy regarding gay adult Scout leaders; and (2) they have the Scout Oath, under which each boy weekly states that on his honor, he will do his best to do his duty to God and his country.  (It's the God part that upsets our lefty friends.)  The Scouts are taking a pounding in the courts on both issues. 

The closest call so far came a couple of years back, when the Court, in a 5-4 decision, held that the Scouts had the right to exclude openly gay adults from leadership positions.  All it takes is a Kerry victory and the right deaths, illnesses, or retirements on the Court, and the Boy Scouts as we know them will cease to exist.  80% of the Scouts' membership comes from three churches-- the Methodists, the Latter-day Saints (Mormons) and the Catholics.  Most of those churches will pull their membership if it becomes the Constitutional law of the land that the Boy Scouts cannot exclude openly gay men from serving as leaders.  And that will mean the end of Scouting, which, if you know anything about it, is the finest youth leadership program for boys in existence-- all because someone wanted to make an example of them over an issue that has nothing to do with the way Scout troops function from day to day.  (I can assure you from personal experience, the issue of sexual preference simply does not even come up among 13 year-old boys who are working on their outdoor skills.  It is a non-issue.)

This may seem a small thing, but it is an example of how fundamentally all our lives might change if Kerry becomes president.  I do not think I am being a Chicken Little here; this seems eminently logical and quite inevitable to me.

Anyway, read the Michelman interview.  It'll raise the hair on the back of your neck.  This is why I, for the first time in my life, am donating money to the Republican National Senatorial Committee and directly to the campaign of John Thune, who has an excellent chance of unseating Tom Daschle in South Dakota.  Republican control of the Senate is more than a matter of partisan politics; it will hit all where we live, because the Senate is where Supreme Court justices are confirmed.  If you have a spare $25, donate it to the RNSC. 

I am on a beach vacation and am stuck with a dial-up modem, so I may be posting lightly for a while.  (Otherwise I may spend half my vacation waiting for pages to download; like most of us, I am soooo spoiled by broadband.)

A Look Inside The Fevered Mind of Michael Moore (Warning: It's Not Pretty)

Byron York writes of yesterday's rally (I guess that's the name for it) featuring Michael Moore's vision of the future.  Read it here.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Links to Some Fine And Interesting Convention Reporting/Commentary from Various Sources

Just as a warm-up and quick review of events up to through Tuesday morning, this summary is good stuff, from the site that should be visited daily by every conservative who wants to follow political commentary.

Here  is Hugh Hewitt's take from today's Democrat festivities.

And this is the trancript of Bill O'Reilly's interview with Michael Moore.  Read it and notice how Moore evades every direct question.

As I type this, I hear Michael Moore talking with Larry King about how his movie is now reaching deep into the mainstream of American.  Oh, please!

I wonder what Moore thinks of this poll by ABC News/Washington Post, which shows Bush actually pulling ahead of Kerry.  Ahem.  That's not supposed to happen when you've just announced your V.P. selection (to much fanfare and adoring news media coverage), you've been on the cover of all the national newsmagazines simultaneously, and your party is extolling your virtues and pointing out the sins of your opponent on national TV at the moment the poll is taken.

On second thought, I don't care one whit what Michael Moore thinks about anything.  As Dennis Prager has noted, Moore is to Kerry as Leni Riefenstahl was to Hitler.  Not exactly the same, but analogous in many ways.

Enough for one night!

Blogging from The Beach: What about Those Army Prison Abuses, Anyway? Or, Did Anyone Cover This Story?

I am too busy reading Nicholas Nickleby and practicing my boogie-boarding to follow the news very closely, but I have a sneaking suspicion this story did not get much play in the elite news media.  It looks like the Army investigation of prisoner "abuses" turned up . . . essentially nothing.  A month from now I wonder how many people will still think U.S. forces in Afghanistan and Iraq committed widespread atrocities and even torture?  Some myths die very hard, especially after months of the news media pounding home the same biased (and often outright inaccurate) reports.  Just last evening I happened to catch Howard Dean insisting that the 9/11 Commission found no connection between al-Quaeda and Iraq, and that GWB told the country that Irad was involved in 9/11.  Governor Dean does not read the newspapers, it seems; or maybe he doesn't care much about the truth.

Saturday, July 24, 2004


I don't think I'll have internet access where I am going.  This has me worried about possible painful withdrawal symptoms.  My wife is not worried, for some reason.

I'll be back and posting again August 7.

Some Weekend Political Humor for You

This Scappleface entry is entitled, "Bush Military Records Found in Sandy Berger's Socks."  Enjoy!

This is my 100th post on this blog.  A landmark of sorts. 

Friday, July 23, 2004

Now, about Those Bush National Guard Payroll Records

Hmmm.  Look at this entry from the Captain' Quarters blog.  Doggone!  The Democrats seem so eager to find scurrilous information about GWB's past, and their frustrations continue.  Kind of remind me of Wile E. Coyote and that elusive Road Runner . . . .

Tidbits from The 9/11 Commission Report, Part II

Ths Power Line guys continue to mine the report for goodies.  Here's another one:

National-security adviser Sandy Berger suggested that the U.S. send just one U-2 flight, but the report says Clarke worried that even then, Pakistan's intelligence service would warn bin Laden that the U.S. was preparing for a bombing campaign. "Armed with that knowledge, old wily Usama will likely boogie to Baghdad," Clarke wrote in a February 11, 1999 e-mail to Berger. The report says that another National Security Council staffer also warned that "Saddam Hussein wanted bin Laden in Baghdad."

Wait a minute.  I thought there were no connections between bin Laden and Hussein.  I'm so confused . . . .

Tidbits from The 9/11 Commission Report, Part I

The guys at Powerline make a good point here.  It seems clear that the Clinton administraton's "laser-like focus" on bin Laden was not all that focused, and that the real focus began when GWB took office.  There goes another myth from the Richard Clarke/Joe Wilson/9-11 Commission Circus.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

The "Carnival of The Liberated"

Spend five minutes perusing these posts.  It'll make Iraqis and their aspirations seem much more real to you.

Read This And Remember How You Felt That Day

Part of the 9/11 Commission's work resulted in additional knowledge about what happened on board Flight 93, the one that crashed in Pennsylvania.  It is quite clear from this story in the Washington Post that the hijackers took the plane down when it became clear to them that the passengers were about to overpower them.

We should all read it and remember.

This Appears To Be A Rarity: An Important Opinion Piece by A Member of Congress

It's Representative Cox's set of conclusions about what the 9/11 Commission report means.  Well worth reading for any American citizen.  You'll find it here.

Looks Like The "Terror In The Skies" Mystery May Have Been Solved

Read all about it here.  Everything seems to check out.

Taking on The L.A. Times' Tim Rutten

Those of you who read the L.A. Times probably are acquainted with Tim Rutten.  Mr. Rutten is supposed to be a media writer but is really a polemicist and ardent Bush-hater who writes some pretty virulent stuff.  My friend and former law partner Ralph Kostant recently sent a pair of verbal missiles Mr. Rutten's way.  (Ralph is a registered Democrat, by the way.)

Ralph's first strike:

Dear Mr. Rutten:
Please read the column below from William Safire.  [Ralph attached this Safire editorial.]  I assume that a journalist of the stature and experience of Mr. Safire has some credibility in your eyes, and cannot be simply dismissed by you as a “pro-war blog” or a denizen of “the sea of malice, mendacity and misrepresentation that now churns around the affair of former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV and his wife, Valerie Plame.” 
After you read the column, please ask yourself whether you owe your readers an apology for stating that your July 17 column on the Wilson affair constituted “full disclosure.”
How can you so cavalierly dismiss and slander responsible blog writers such as James Lileks (, Glen Reynolds (Instapundit) and Christopher Hitchens (Slate) by suggesting that they are malicious, mendacious or misrepresenting?  Those adjectives more properly should apply to Joseph Wilson and his promoters in the journalism and the media, whose motto seems to be, “Defeat George W. Bush at whatever cost to truth or our credibility.”   Why must you resort to baseless name calling?
But then again, I suppose that being a liberal columnist for the Los Angeles Times means never having to say you’re sorry.  Given your tendency toward name calling, you will probably describe this communication as “hate mail” from a “right-wing extremist.”

Ralph's second strike:

Dear Mr. Rutten:
Now it seems that the Washington Post has jumped into ““the sea of malice, mendacity and misrepresentation that now churns around the affair of former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV and his wife, Valerie Plame,” to quote your column of July 17.  Are you ready to concede that the liberal media’s former campaign to canonize Mr. Wilson, so that they could attack President Bush as a liar who mislead the country into war, may have been a bit over the top?  My gosh, Wilson was put on the cover of Time Magazine and was given something called the Ron Ridenhour Award for Truth Telling, as if his column was tantamount to the disclosure of My Lai.   After complaining that his wife had been endangered by the disclosure of her CIA employment, and dramatically not allowing her to be photographed early on into his expertly engineered publicity campaign, within a month or so Mr. Wilson and Ms. Plame had arranged for a photo spread in Vanity Fair.  Perhaps your readers, who may not read the Washington Post or William Safire, should be made aware that your July 17 column did not quite provide the “full disclosure” that you promised.  Perhaps you should have mentioned that Lord Butler’s report stated that the famous 16 words in President Bush’s State of the Union address were “well founded.”  Perhaps you should even mention that Mr. Wilson’s web site was funded by the Kerry campaign.  All in the spirit of full disclosure, you understand. 

Something tells me Rutten will not be shaken from his blinkered views, but it's always good to see a few hits for the home team. 

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Trousergate Update

The Washington Post offers some new details.  Among other things, it looks like a Congressional investigation is in the offing.

Daily Observations: Nukes Found in Iraq?

This is a breaking story, so too early to get excited.  If it is true, look for the Democrats to question the timing of the discovery's announcement.

In fact, I think that from here on out in the campaign, every bit of positive news for Bush that emerges from Iraq will be called "the July surprise," or the "August surprise," "September surprise," and so forth.  Kerry and Co. are surely very nervous about any good news that might come out, whether it's bin Laden's capture or the discovery of Iraqi WMD in Syria.

UPDATE:  So far, looks like no story, at least according to Reuters.  Thanks to Power Line.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Power Line Keeps 'Em Coming on The Berger Story ("Trousergate," They Call It)

Some thoughtful words here from the always-focused guys at Power Line.  I'm just watching this odd story unfold. 

According to my liberal friends, the "real story" here is the timing of the leak about Berger's problems.

Yep, those "wascally wepublicans" at it again.

A Power Line Observation about Sandy Berger that will make you laugh

From the Power Line blogger known as Hindrocket:
It is now being reported that Berger has resigned as an adviser to John Kerry. Berger says he has resigned because he "does not want any issue surrounding the 9/11 commission to be used for partisan purposes." That's sort of funny, under the circumstances.
I'm on the road today as usual, and I learned about the Berger investigation from my hotel copy of USA Today. I was struck by this juxtaposition of information:

Berger said he inadvertently took some documents from the archives....Two of the [National Archives] officials said Berger was reportedly seen stuffing some of the material into his clothing.

Yes, that happens to me all the time. I'll be in a room full of documents, and when I get back to my office I find that I have accidentally stuck some of them down my pants.
Read the entire entry here.

An E-Mail Exchange with A Liberal Friend

A friend pointed out the John Deutsch case from the Clinton years.  Deutsch was CIA Director and kept classified information on his home PC, which was not secure.  He was not prosecuted.  My friend suggested Berger's case was the same, and that Berger would be treated harshly because he was critical of the Bush administration.
My response: 
The Deutsch situation looks to me like one of someone making an excusable (but unbelievably dumb) mistake.  I think Berger's probably is too. I can understand his taking the notes (although with all his experience in national security he should have known better).  He is, however, now Kerry's national security advisor and Clinton's former NSA adviser, and the documents he took might have been embarrassing to Clinton.  A bit of a long shot, I think, but it deserves to be investigated.  As for the timing, when you are dumb enough to put your head on the choppnig block during the "political season," you have to be ready for some swings of the axe, whether you put your head there by mistake or not.
You said, "Burger said critical things about the Bush Administration, so I'm sure his case will be presented as a much more serious breach of security and the story dragged out as long as possible.  Ashcroft might even choose to prosecute."
OK, that may happen.  See above regarding putting one's head on the chopping block.  But aslso consider, as Hugh Hewitt said:
"Keep applying the Condi Rice test.  If Dr. Rice had been caught stuffing her blouse with highly classified handwritten notes from the days after 9/11, what would be going on in D.C. right now?"
You said, "The knowing and intentional disclosure of the name of a covert CIA agent to the press for purely political gain is an additional order of magnitude more serious, don't you think?"
We've talked about this.  If that's what happened then the perpetrator should be prosecuted.  There is a lot of doubt as to whether (1) the disclosure was "knowing and intentional" (i.e., did the guy know she was covert?) and (2) she was actually "covert" as defined in the law.  Time will tell.
But what we do know about that incident is that Robert Novak called a source at the White House and asked, in effect, "How in the world did a partisan Democrat like Joseph Wilson get the very sensitive assignment of going to Niger to investigate whether Iraq tried to get yellowcake from Iraq?" The response was, "His wife works for the CIA and she recommended him."
Wilson, who apparently has a very flexible relationship with the truth, wrote in an op-ed piece that his wife "had nothing to do with" his selection for the Niger mission.  That statement has now been shown to be false in the Senate Intelligence Committee report.  Wilson now claims a Clintonesque distinction between whether she "recommended" or "proposed" him for the trip.  Give us a break, Joe!
Assuming all that is true, I really wonder how much enthusiasm the prosecutor is going to have for the case against whoever leaked that information to Robert Novak.

The Sandy Berger Story Begins to Unfold

And Hugh Hewitt asks some good questions, including:
". . . keep applying the Condi Rice test.  If Dr. Rice had been caught stuffing her blouse with highly classified handwritten notes from the days after 9/11, what would be going on in D.C. right now? Do you think The Today Show could have found someone to criticize Rice on air?"
You can find the always reliable Hugh's thoughts here, along with links to many other sites with thoughts of their own.
As for me, I actually have to work sometimes.  More later.

One More Nail in Joseph Wilson's Political Coffin; And Some Uncomfortable Questions The White House Needs To Ask Itself

Today's Opinion Journal succinctly summarizes Mr. Wilson's falsehoods.  Read it here.
There may be a lot of Democrat spinning about this story, so I urge every conservative to read this piece carefully in order to understand and remember clearly what Wilson did.  I, for one, will be watching to see if Tim Russert does something to make up for the three (count 'em!) appearances he gave Wilson on "Meet The Press" back when Wilson was the darling of the anti-Bush crowd.  (Notice: I didn't call them "anti-war.")
Still and all, President Bush ought to spend a minute or two thinking about these questions:
1.  How on earth did a Democrat partisan like Wilson get assigned such a sensitive task as investigating the Iraq-Niger connection?  This was the question Robert Novak was asking way back when-- and someone in the White House explained that Wilson's wife, who works for the CIA, recommended him.  That, my friends, was how this all started:  The White House was trying to explain an embarrassing political blunder.  I hope they learn from this debacle to make such assignments more carefully.
2.  Why did the White House apologize so quickly for the "sixteen words" in President Bush's State of the Union speech that now have been proven accurate?  I suspect they simply panicked and did not have a full grasp of what had happened, which is understandable under the circumstances-- they were overwhelmed by a chorus of the news media and the Democrats, all singing (screaming?) in unison.  But I hope they will think twice the next time  such a song arises.  Forgive me for saying this, but I wish the White House had waited until the fat lady sang.

Monday, July 19, 2004

What Answers Do The Troops In Iraq Have for Andy Rooney's Questions?

This is interesting.  Robert Alt is in Iraq and asked the troops about Andy Rooney's five questions from some weeks ago.   He shares their answers here.
Here are Andy Rooney's five (very patronizing) questions:
"Do you think your country did the right thing sending you into Iraq?"
"Are you doing what America set out to do to make Iraq a democracy, or have we failed so badly that we should pack up and get out before more of you are killed?"
"Do the orders you get handed down from one headquarters to another, all far removed from the fighting, seem sensible, or do you think our highest command is out of touch with the reality of your situation?"
"If you could have a medal or a trip home, which would you take?"
"Are you encouraged by all the talk back home about how brave you are and how everyone supports you?"
You'll be interested in and impressed by the soldiers' answers.  I wonder what Rooney would think about those answers?  In fact, I wonder if he really cares.

The Joe Wilson Story Just Keeps On Getting Better (But Hard To Find These Days in The Old-Line News Media)

The Opinion Journal section of the Wall Street Journal publishes a daily service called "Best of the Web Today."  (You can subscribe free; I highly recommend it.)  Today's edition produces a terrific summary of Mr. Wilson's unraveling story, including links to his attempted rebuttal in the Washington Post (that's here) and to a piece by the Post's own ombudsman the very next day, rebutting Wilson's claims of inaccuracy (that's here).  Ouch!  The Weekly Standard's summary is careful, thorough, and absolutely devastating.  If you can find 5-10 minutes to read it, you'll be glad you did.  (You'll also be angry at the very credulous news media we have.)
Meanwhile, just for laughs, visit Joe Wilson's web site here.  This is a man who takes himself very, very seriously!  But with a name like Joseph C. Wilson, IV, what can we expect?  The Senate Intelligence Committee Report that inflicts such wounds on Wilson's credibility came out July 7, 2004, but there are no entries on Wilson's web site after June 24, 2oo4. 
Oddly enough!


This Will Be All Over The Internet, But I'll Post It Here Anyway

It's Annie Jacobsen's follow-up to her story, "Terror in The Skies."  I hope someone from a major news media organization or the government, who might have the resources to get to the bottom of this, will do so soon.  Surely the TSA has the right to review passenger lists; they should be digging up inormation about the 14 men.  Who were they?  Were they really musicians?  Did they play a performance date somewhere?  How long were they in the country?  Are they still here?  These are all answerable questions.   Surely someone is looking for those answers.

Monday Morning Musings: Good News From Iraq; The Joe Wilson Saga; And The Old_Line News Media

This is an interesting web site, well worth scanning.  It's unlikely everything here is reported in a totally accurate manner, but we certainly can't say even that about the old-line news media's reporting from Iraq.  At least this information adds perspective to the picture.  The situation in a country of 23 million people, and with so many different economic regions, ethnic cultures, and religions, simply can't be as simple as Reuters reports it to be.

William Safire's New York Times column today puts another of what will be many finishing coats of shellac on the Joseph Wilson epitaph.  Here are two paragraphs:
"Wilson testified to the Senate Intelligence Committee that he had assured U.S. officials back in 2002 that 'there was nothing to the story.' When columnist Robert Novak raised the question of nepotism by reporting that he got the assignment at the urging of his C.I.A. wife, Wilson denied that heatedly and denounced her 'outing,' triggering an investigation. The skilled self-promoter was then embraced as an antiwar martyr, sold a book with 'truth' in its title, appeared on the cover of Time and every TV talk show denouncing Bush.
"Two exhaustive government reports came out last week showing that it is the president's lionized accuser, and not Mr. Bush, who has been having trouble with the truth."
You may recall that the firestorm here arose over these "sixteen words" President Bush used in his State of the Union address:
"The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa."
From that statement has arisen the "Bush lied" screams that we have seen on so many bumper stickers.  There were some forged documents in the mix of intelligence information that the CIA had prior to Bush's speech, but they were not the basis for the reports that led to Bush's inclusion of the famous sixteen words in his speech.  Even so, Wilson leaked the existence of the forged documents to the Washington Post.  The Senate reports that in doing so, Wilson "may have misspoken . . . he said he may have become confused about his own recollection. . . ."  
Uh-huh.   Some, like Hugh Hewitt, are wondering if perjury charges against Wilson are a possibility, but the above quote reads like something from a person who already has a lawyer advising him how to backtrack from false or misleading statements.  The betting on this blog is that the prosecutors assigned to this case will decide it's not worth it to pursue Wilson and leave the matter to the political process to decide. 
Which means that years from now, liberal partisans will still be saying, "Bush lied!" Or, perhaps, my personal favorite:  "When Clinton lied,  no one died!" 
Michael Barone writes today about the press's complicity in this ongoing distortion of the truth, concluding:
"All this is significant because for the past year most leading Democrats and many in the determinedly anti-Bush media have been harping on the 'BUSH LIED' theme. Their aim clearly has been to discredit and defeat Bush. The media continue to fight this battle: contrast the way The New York Times, The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times front-paged the Wilson charges last year with the way they're downplaying the proof that Wilson lied deep inside the paper this year.
"Yale historian John Lewis Gaddis has argued that George W. Bush has transformed American foreign policy, in response to the threat of Islamist terrorism, more than any president since Harry Truman transformed our foreign policy in response to the threat of aggressive communism.

"But there is one big difference. In the late 1940s, Truman got bipartisan support from Republicans like Arthur Vandenberg and Thomas Dewey, even at a time when there were bitter differences between the parties on domestic policy, and received generally sympathetic treatment in the press. This time, George W. Bush has encountered determined opposition from most Democrats and the old-line media. They have charged that "BUSH LIED" even when he relied on the same intelligence as they did; they have headlined wild and spurious charges by the likes of Joseph Wilson; they have embraced the wild-eyed propaganda of the likes of Michael Moore.

"They have done these things with, at best, reckless disregard of the effect their arguments have had on American strength in the world. Are they entitled to be taken seriously?"
My answer:  No!


Sunday, July 18, 2004

Mark Steyn Ties A Bow Atop Joseph Wilson's Bundle of Lies

Some hard-hitting words here, but hard to deny.  A good read.

Saturday, July 17, 2004

To What Extent Is Marriage (Gay Or Not) A Matter of Constitutional Law?

Much has been said about this subject over the past few days, and I will admit that I have had trouble getting my arms around the issue.  I think almost all conservatives would agree with me that marriage between a man and a woman is an ideal that our society should promote, and that gay marriage would undermine and weaken that institutional ideal.  That's why Proposition 22 passed in 2000 in California.  It essentially states that only a marriage between one man and one woman is valid or recognized in California.  I supported Porp 22 in every way possible and voted for it.
The problem we all have is that other states may not take that approach.   In Massachusetts, for example, the state supreme court has found a right to gay marriage in that state's constitution.  Thus the "full faith and credit" clause of the U.S. Constitution give us our legal issue:
"Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State." 
Under this clause, a contract entered into in Nevada is enforceable in New Jersey.  Marriage is a contract, so a marriage valid in Massachusetts must be valid in California, and the U.S. Constitution would override California's Proposition 22. 
Now, the Constitution also gives the Congress power to "regulate" the way in which contracts are enforced from state to state under the full faith and credit clause, but there has been little judicial review of that provision and many scholars do not believe the U.S. Supreme Court would uphold California's Prop 22 against a challenge from someone with a legal gay marriage in another state.  It's more complicated than all that, but that's the basic idea.
So for me the problem has always been that I hate to see the Constitution amended unless that is the only way to achieve an important goal.  It seems to me that nothing short of a Constitutional amendment would suffice to resolve the marriage issue, because having marriages valid in one state but invalid in another would be such a mess. 
Then I saw these thoughts from the always excellent Power Line.  Read them.  The author concludes that marriage should be left to the states, and that the "full faith and credit" problem should be solved by amending that clause as follows:
"Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State, EXCEPT NO STATE SHALL BE REQUIRED TO GIVE FULL FAITH AND CREDIT TO ANY MARRIAGE ESTABLISHED UNDER THE LAWS OF ANOTHER STATE."
I must admit, it's an intriguing approach, but I still wonder:  We'd end up with a patchwork system in which people might be married in Arizona and not married in Utah.  There could be chaos over property and inheritance rights, and divorce lawyers would have a field day.   But at least the people of each state could decided fundamental cultural and life questions for themselves-- just the way they should be able to decide abortion rights, if it were not for Roe v. Wade.

A Useful Summary of The Joe Wilson Saga

Joe Wilson on "Meet The Press," back when he was the toast of Washington. And New York. And San Francisco. And the Democractic National Committee. 
Read here a good summary, by Dave Kopel, of what has happened to poor Mr. Wilson's standing since then.  It seems that Joe has one of those "flexible relationships with the truth" that is so common among President Bush's vilifiers.  Of course, we're not hearing or reading much about this in the same news media who lionized the brave Mr. Wilson just a few short months ago.  All the more reason to get the word out on the blogosphere.  Is this a great country, or what?

Something To Remind You Why We Went To War

It's easy to forget, amid the constant anti-Bush noise and vilification.  Here's a good collection of little-reported facts, published in an op-ed piece by former New York mayor Ed Koch and Congressman Peter King.
And-- here's a little humor.  It seems there's a report out that Sen. Kerry has dropped Sen. Edwards as his running mate.

When Journalists Donate To Political Candidates, Guess Which Party They Choose?

I ran across this interesting entry from a blogger named M. Petrelis.   He's done some digging into political contributions by "journalists, reporters, publishers and others who work at print media outlets."  He writes:   "I went back to the best web site for searching FEC files,, and pored over recent donations . . . .  I limited my searching to the two most recent election cycles, except for Time and Newsweek, and Rupert Murdoch, because of the influence each wields."

Petelis searched more than fifty newspapers, magazines, wire services, and names of publishers.  His findings are interesting and not one bit surprising.  Almost all the money went to Democrats.  One sobering finding:  "President George Bush didn't receive a single donation from any outlet or reporter in my search."
We all have our opinions about candidates, but to me, one true sign of partisan commitment is donating money.  (The other is donating time, to knock on doors, work a phone bank, etc.)   Full disclosure: I donate to President Bush.  Why?  Because I believe it is important that he be re-elected.  I also donate to John Thune in South Dakota.  Why?  Because I believe it's important to keep the Senate in Republican hands.  I am an unabashed partisan.  I'm fortunate to have the means to donate, but it doesn't matter whether it's $1,000 or $25; when you donate, you're putting your money where your mouth is.
So here we have irrefutable evidence of deep partisan commitment by members of the news media, who are supposed to be reporting on these candidates.   This is not surprising in the least, but it is shocking.  (A subtle but important difference.)   And-- big surprise!-- the commitment all runs one way-- to the Democrats!
Maybe I am getting jaded in my old age (and I'm only 49!), but I am to the point where I don't know whom to believe in the news media anymore.  Everything I read seems slanted one way or the other.  Even Fox News, which I truly enjoy, seems to slant the news.  They don't do it nearly as much as the other TV networks, and they do it in the direction most pleasing to me-- but they do slant it.   I think the lesson is that we have to read and evaluate carefully and get our news from a number of sources (other than the major free broadcast networks, which are worthless; I have not watched NBC, ABC, or CBS for years now),  and to recognize that every news report comes with the bias of the reporter, or the editor, or someone in the delivery chain.  
All that aside, what is truly distressing about this situation is this:  The journalists who bear these deep biases, and who slant their reporting accordingly, either don't acknowledge the bias  don't even recognize it.  As the great Dan Rather has recently said:  "Most reporters, when you get to know them, would fall in the general category of kind of common sense moderates." 
I read that and I don't know whether to laugh or cry.  Does he truly believe that?  Can he possibly believe that?  The scary notion is that he actually might!
Anyway, to the point (or one of them):  What looks, reads, or sounds like objective reporting is usually nothing of the kind.  What is passed off as news reporting is really, at its heart, more like commentary.  (Just read the front page of the L.A. Times sometime and you'll see what I mean.)  That makes the reporting misleading to the average reader or listener.  And that is an ethical and intellectual crime.


Friday, July 16, 2004

Some Skepticism About The Terrorist Airplane "Dry Run" Story Below

Looks like the jury is still out on whether Annie Jacobsen's story (linked below) is true.  See what Donald Sensing has to say about it here.

Highly Recommended on The Marriage Debate

Kay Hymowitz says here just about everything that needs to be said (of a non-religious nature) about the current gay marriage debate. 

A Long And Fascinating Account That Might Just Ruin Your Day; And A Link That Will Brighten It; And More Victor Davis Hanson

Thanks to PowerLine, I saw this chilling first-hand account of what sure looks like a terrorist "dry run" on a U.S. domestic airline flight, which appeared on FrontPage.Com.  As nearly as I can tell, FrontPage is a fairly well-known conservative website, but I have not visited there more than a couple of times.   At this point I have no way of verifying this story, but it is detailed and has the ring of truth.  If you travel by plane a lot, like I do, this will have you thinking about Greyhound as an alternative.

Just when you're about to buy one of those 30-day bus passes, go to this link.  It won't solve the problem of airborne terrorism but it will bring a smile to your face.

Finally (for now) Victor Davis Hanson is one of the most clear-headed, compelling writers around on issues of war.  (He's a military history scholar.)  Here is his latest effort to give us all some perspective on what's going on in Iraq.  It's worth reading.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

A Good Summary of the Joseph Wilson Yellowcake Saga

Too busy to post much today.  Here is Hugh Hewitt's summary, which is excellent.
I'll scribble some more tomorrow!

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Fine Analysis of The "Big Issue" in The Election


The always-excellent RealClearPolitics offers a short editorial today called "What It Al Boils Down To." I highly recommend it, and you can find it here.

The piece focuses on this exchange on Meet the Press last Sunday:

"Tim Russert: Do you see Bush being re-elected?

"William F. Buckley: I don't think that Bush has done anything disqualifying him. He had a lousy intelligence system, manifestly, but nobody thinks that he acted capriciously. I think if we all had been told exactly what he was told, it's pretty logical that we would have proceeded to do what he did.

"Ron Brownstein: Look, I think that the Senate Intelligence Committee report does frame what I believe is the central issue in this campaign. And I differ a little with Bill Buckley because I don't think that all Americans agree that any president would have made this decision based on this information. I think that goes to the crux of the choice that they face."

That's the question, RCP says: What do people think John Kerry would have done with that information? How would it have differed from what Bush did, and would it have been enough?

Is Mr. Kerry A Phony, Or What?

Senator Kerry's a big fan, yes, sir!

At least that's what he says. Maybe not. Peter Gammons of ESPN notes:

"We have been led to cynically believe that many politicians are disingenuous and generally phony, but few will ever beat Massachusetts Senator John Kerry. This man, who . . . at an anti-Vietnam rally threw someone else's medals into the water, made a self-promotion appearance with Boston talk-show maven Eddie Andelman and claimed he was a big Red Sox fan from his days growing up in Groton, Mass. And at the promotion he said Eddie Yost was his favorite player.

"The problem with that is just the simple fact that Eddie Yost never played for the Red Sox."

How embarrassing for JFK. Thanks to Hugh Hewitt for this one.

Thoughts That Need Thinking . . . And Discussion


Mark Steyn says here a lot that needs to be said. I'll just leave it at that.

News from Our Favorite Iraqi Blogger


Find 2 or three minutes to read the July 12 post from Mohammad, which you can find here. It is both fascinating and encouraging the read what real Iraqis think about what is going on in their country.

The Bush War Room

Whatver you say, Senator Kerry, I'm hanging on every word!

Here's a twist: The Bush campaign has a rapid response system for dealing with John Kerry flip-flops or weird statements. This New York Times article tells the story.

I found this paragraph intriguing:

"[T]he war room is the nerve center of what Democrats, and some presidential scholars, have called the most relentlessly negative re-election campaign in memory - and what Republicans say is a necessarily energetic drive to hold Mr. Kerry to a record they say is rife with contradictions. On a daily basis, the assembled Republicans hope to pick new fights based on Mr. Kerry's most recent statements, and those from his past."

So Democrats call this a negative campaign? Because Bush's team is pounding them on the issues? What about Farenheit 9/11? The Radio City hate rally with Whoopi Goldberg et al? And so on. The binkered view of these people is truly amazing.

Anyway, I am glad Bush has a system in place. He has a great story to tell about his own presidency and about his challenger's record. Both need to be told.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

"If It's Not Close, They Can't Cheat" - Hugh Hewitt's New Book

Buy this book!

This is Hugh Hewitt's latest. Those who listen to Hugh's radio show know he is one of the smartest, most articulate, reasonable, and kind conservatives on the air. (That is an unusual combination of traits for a talk show host.) He describes his book as "a comprehensive and passionate statement of the reason to vote for President Bush, the strategy for a Republican win, and the dire consequences of a John Kerry victory. Buy one for your yourself and two for the undecided or Democratic voter in your life."

You can order the book from Amazon here. Buy it; you'll be glad you did!

The Utter Dishonesty of America's Enemies


According to the Ayatollah Ali Khameini, Iran's supreme leader:

"We seriously suspect the agents of the Americans and Israelis in conducting such horrendous terrorist acts and cannot believe the people who kidnap Philippines nationals, for instance, or behead U.S. nationals are Muslims."

You can find the Fox News story here.

America's enemies are not simply people who have a different worldview. They're brazen liars.

Monday, July 12, 2004

If You're Interested In Presidential Election Opinion Polling and "Bounces"


. . . then you'll want to read this analysis from the always-terrific Real Clear Politics. (That is a blog that every conservative should have bookmarked as a source for good commentary and articles.) Look for the post entitled "EDWARDS BOUNCE SLIGHTLY BETTER THAN A DEAD CAT."

Not Much Left of Joe Wilson after This Piece by Clifford May


Clifford May is described as "a former New York Times foreign correspondent" and "the president of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies," which is "a policy institute focusing on terrorism." Here is is National Review On-Line piece, pretty much shredding Joseph Wilson. His concluding paragraph gives us all a taste of the rest of the column:

"[B]ased on one op-ed declaring 16 words spoken by the president a lie, [Wilson] transformed himself into an instant celebrity and, for a while, it seemed, a contender for power within the . . . world of foreign policy. That dream has now probably evaporated. It is hard to see how a President John Kerry would now want Wilson in his inner circle. But if he desired to return to Gabon or Niger I, for one, would not be among those opposing him."

A Devastating Critique of The "Mainstream News Media" (by a Democrat)

Orson Scott Card

Many science fiction fans know of Orson Scott Card, but most do not know he writes prolifically about many subjects. Here is his commentary published in today's Opinion Journal. (An earlier version had been published on the Web.) It is highly-recommended as perhaps the most compelling short analysis of the liberal bias in the news media that I have ever seen. Mr. Card is a Democrat, by the way, although I suspect he is in the more conservative wing of that party.

I haven't been too well acquainted with Mr. Card's fiction, but I have he does write lots of interesting commentary. Here's a sample:

"When Michael Moore in his recent propaganda film ridicules President Bush for continuing his session with schoolchildren for five whole minutes after hearing about a plane crashing into the World Trade Center, let's ask ourselves: What else should the President have done? Rushed from the room and frightened the children? Was he supposed to leap into an airplane and patrol the skies himself?

"Besides, it was not clear until fifteen minutes after the first crash that there was more than just one plane involved, and therefore that it was a terrorist attack.

"But what do we expect from Moore? He's a hero of the Left because he tells lies about the Right.

"If President Bush weren't such a good president, his enemies wouldn't have to lie about him outrageously in order to defeat him.

"And what does it say about America's intelligentsia that they would rather believe lies than admit that George W. Bush has been smarter, on the issues that matter, than they are?"

You can find the rest of the piece here.

For more information about Orson Scott Card, go here.

Sunday, July 11, 2004

Kerry Taking The High Road? That's What He Thinks.


Go to this posting at Power Line for today and review it. It's funny and quite telling as well.

Having just gotten back from a Boy Scout camping trip, I may not have the energy to post much more here today. But the Power Line comment linked is a good one.

Saturday, July 10, 2004

Well! Here's Something Very Interesting, And Covered in The Washington Post, No Less (p.s.: Joseph Wilson Is A Liar, Or At Least A Terrific Fudger)

LIAR, LIAR, PANTS ON FIRE. Remember this man? He's Joseph Wilson, a diplomat and partisan Democrat whom the Bush Administration somehow allowed to get into a position to issue a lot of very damaging information about Iraq's efforts to purchase yellowcake uranium from Niger. Earlier this year Wilson was all over the talk shows, bashing Bush. The new media eagerly lapped it up.

Mr. Wilson is now a documented liar. As this Washington Post article rather delicately states:

"Wilson's assertions -- both about what he found in Niger and what the Bush administration did with the information -- were undermined yesterday in a bipartisan Senate intelligence committee report."

I tried to find other excerpts from the article to post here, but I simply can't do justice to it. The article is short and compelling; you simply have to read it. And-- I must admit-- I ask myself: If even the Washington Post reports something this damning to the anti-Bush movement, isn't it probably even worse than the Post reports it?

I have to shake my head as I think about this, and about how Joe Wilson was the toast of Washington back when he was spinning his story. Many intelligent people were eager to believe him.

Still, I can see him getting a spot in a Kerry adminstration. A hat tip to Power Line for this story.


I know many of a liberal persuasion are going to want to change the subject and talk about the rest of the Senate Committee's report. You can find the whole report right here. WARNING: It's over 400 pages long. The summary of the committee's findings is much shorter and you can find it here.

I will stipulate that it sure looks like the CIA served the country very poorly and did a shoddy, inexcusable job. Had they done a better job I wonder if we would have gone to war with Iraq when we did (although that war may well have been inevitable).

But, but, but . . . the big issue many liberals will want to talk about is whether the Bush administration pressured the CIA to make the findings it made. The committee report finds no evidence of that. Indeed, the second page of the report says:

"The committee found no evidence that the [intelligence community's] mischaracterization or exaggeration of weapons of mass destruction capabilities was the result of political pressure."

Plain as day, isn't it? This sentence was agreed to, unanimously, by the members of the Senate committee, including every Democrat. Some of the Democrats are already claiming that they don't think that sentence means what it says. (If you want to point that language out to your Democrat friends, it is page 2 of this document.)

But "no evidence" means "no evidence." It can mean nothing else.

Predictably, Republicans are saying it's all the CIA's fault, and there was no pressure; and Democrats are saying there must have been pressure. This will be the "issue of the week" for a few days at least.

But again, "no evidence" means "no evidence."

How do we approach this issue? The 9/11 Commission said there was no evidence of Iraqi-Al Quaeda collaboration in attacks against the USA. (There was evidence of contacts and some sort of relationship, but that's all still murky.) I believe that any argument must be supported by evidence. (I'm a lawyer, I can't help it.) So until there is evidence to the contrary I am not going to claim there was a collaborative relationship between Iraq and Al Quaeda.

Similarly, I think that before anyone claims that there was pressure on the CIA to deliver intelligence reports the Bushies wanted, he needs to have evidence for that claim. I have to study the report a little more, but it seems to me that not a single CIA person told the committee's investigators that he or she was pressured. That means "no evidence" to me, and is really rather remarkable, with people like Joe Wilson running around Washington who are willing to be, ah, flexible about the truth. Surely there must be a lone CIA agent willing to get on Meet The Press and become famous by claiming he was pressured?

But before you change the subject, first tell me what you think about Joe Wilson.


Here are some thoughts from the always-compelling Victor Davis Hanson. I recommend you read the whole thing; it'll boost your spirits. You can find his latest piece here:

"There is a great divide unfolding between the engine of history and the dumbfounded spectators who are apparently furious at what is going on before their eyes. Mr. Bush's flight suit, Abu Ghraib, claims of "no al Qaeda-Saddam ties," Joe Wilson, and still more come and go while millions a world away inch toward consensual government and civilization. . . .

"The oil pipeline in Afghanistan that we allegedly went to war over doesn't exist. Brave Americans died to rout al Qaeda, end the fascist Taliban, and free Afghanistan for a good and legitimate man like a Hamid Karzai to oversee elections. It was politically unwise and idealistic — not smart and cynical — for Mr. Bush to gamble his presidency on getting rid of fascists in Iraq. There really was a tie between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein — just as Mr. Gore and Mr. Clinton once believed and Mr. Putin and Mr. Allawi now remind us. The United States really did plan to put Iraqi oil under Iraqi democratic supervision for the first time in the country's history. And it did.

"This war — like all wars — is a terrible thing; but far, far worse are the mass murder of 3,000 innocents and the explosion of a city block in Manhattan, a ghoulish Islamic fascism and unfettered global terrorism, and 30 years of unchecked Baathist mass murder. So for myself, I prefer to be on the side of people like the Kurds, Elie Wiesel, Hamid Karzai, and Iyad Allawi rather than the idiotocrats like Jacques Chirac, Ralph (the Israelis are "puppeteers") Nader, Michael Moore, and Billy Crystal.

"Sometimes life's choices really are that simple."

Friday, July 09, 2004

What Would Be the Tone of A Kerry Administration? Some Clues . . .

On the left, one aging 60's rocker; on the right, one aging 60's politician. John Fogerty yuks it up with John Kerry.

Thanks to Powerline, I saw this article about the Kerry-Edwards fundraiser in New York City last night. Take a look; it tells us a lot about the kind of men Kerry and Edwards are. It also is a reminder of the kind of venom the Democrats are prepared to inject into the campaign.

To me, the most telling paragraphs in the piece are these:

"Kerry could be seen laughing uproariously during part of Goldberg's tirade - and neither he nor Edwards voiced a single objection to its tone when they spoke to the crowd.

"They hailed the fund-raiser as a great event.

"Edwards said it was 'a great honor' to be there and insisted, 'This campaign will be a celebration of real American values.'

"Kerry thanked all the performers for 'an extraordinary evening,' hailed the 'great producers' - Harvey Weinstein of Miramax and Jann Wenner - and said 'every performer tonight ... conveyed to you the heart and soul of our country.'

"Last fall, Howard Dean ran into a similar problem when a New York fund-raiser turned into a stream of ugly racist jokes and X-rated Bush-bashing - but Dean instantly came out and said he didn't like the tone of some of the jokes."

John Kerry, John Edwards: No class.

But it goes beyond class. Here's Hugh Hewitt's apt summary of the matter:

"This poison is not distributed evenly within the two parties. There is no Michael Moore, no John Mellencamp within the GOP fold. Sure there are partisans --I am one, and . . . I think the stakes are very high, and that the Democratic Party will cheat if it can, just as it has for two hundred years. And I think it is inevitable that the Democrats would mismanage the war on terror to such an extent as to leave us vulnerable to massive attacks.

"But I don't think Kerry and Edwards are murderers or thugs or treasonous plotters; and I don't know of any high profile Republican who thinks they are either, or that they are stupid oafs. It is true that Edwards has taken millions from plaintiffs' lawyers in a disturbing warning that his policies are very likely to favor this bunch of rascals and their job destroying and cost-exploding courtroom shakedowns, but no one is accusing Kerry or Edwards of making a personal fortune off of corrupt deals. In short, there is no counterpart within the GOP to this pulsating hate within the Democratic Party, its MoveOn subsidiary, or its Hollywood money headquarters."

Thursday, July 08, 2004

Ken Starr Fills in Some Blanks in Bill Clinton's Autobigraphy


Judge Starr's entire editorial in Opinion Journal, which you'll find here, is a bracing reminder of how bad things were. Here's a key excerpt:

"Six years later, the factual findings of our office's referral to the House of Representatives stand unrebutted. Those findings not only were accurate, they triggered profound concerns as to the basic integrity of witnesses, including the president himself, in the administration of justice. The result included an outgoing president's written recognition of his responsibility to our justice system, imposition of sanctions by a federal judge, and a suspension of his law license for an extended period."

First Shot Against John Edwards by The President Himself; And A Devastating Dissection of Michael Moore's L.A. Times Editorial


George W. Bush impressed even his critics in 200 with his discipline as a candidate. It looks like he retains that skill. Take a look at this New York Times account. Mr. Bush "was told [that Edwards] is already being described as 'charming, engaging, a nimble campaigner, a populist and even sexy.'"

"Mr. Bush was ready with a one-liner: 'Dick Cheney can be president.'"

Ouch. In the past, claims of inexperience in the V.P. nominee seem not to have mattered (Nixon in 1952, Agnew in 1968, Quayle in 1988). But after 9/11 it seems to matter-- to me, at least. I have to believe the Kerry campaign did some polling on that question, but this will be interesting to watch just the same.

Turning to good old Michael Moore, James Lileks posts a devastating paragraph-by-paragraph critique of his recent L.A. Times editorial. It is clear that Moore is not a serious or careful thinker, and that is probably the most gentle critique one could offer. As others have said, Moore simply has "a flexible relationship with the truth."

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Picture Caption Contest

Aloof? Who, me?

Enter your suggestion in the "comments" section below.

What is "Wictory Wednesday?"


It has to do with helping "W" get re-elected by making a donation to his campaign. This is easy to do-- and here's the link that enables you to donate.
Here is where you can see the kinds of ads that your money will help buy.

In addition to financial support, do you want to volunteer for Bush? Then go here.

The New Bush Campaign Ad with John McCain


You can find it at the link above. It's good. Bush needs to hit this theme hard and often.

Quote of the Day


"Most reporters, when you get to know them, would fall in the general category of kind of common sense moderates." --Dan Rather

(I have no doubt that this is what he really believes, which is a big part of the problem.)

Washington Post Editorial Gets It Right


Here's the Post's editorial position (for now) on John Kerry's selection of John Edwards:

"Yet . . . we must also assess Mr. Edwards on his own and by the grave question that has to be asked of any vice presidential nominee: Is he ready to assume the presidency? This is a question that, since Sept. 11, 2001, has become both more thinkable and more important -- and it's one that, when it comes to Mr. Edwards, we can't yet answer with a resounding affirmative. Mr. Edwards's often impressive performance during the primaries demonstrates that he has the capacity to grow into the job. Yet his experience in public life is confined to the single Senate term that is now ending; his few years on the intelligence committee represent scant training in foreign policy and military affairs, far less than would be optimal for a potential president in this dangerous time."

Evidently Kerry (who must have seen this type of attack coming) didn't think this was a key consideration. That says a lot about Mr. Kerry.

A First-Hand Account of How News Gets Reported from Iraq


This is an eye-opener. The author, Eric M. Johnson, is a writer in Washington D.C., who participated in Operation Iraqi Freedom as a Marine Corps reservist. He tell us how Rajiv Chandrasekaran, the 31 year-old Baghdad bureau chief for the Washington Post, gathers and reports the new back to Washington, where it can have a major impact on policy. This is discouraging but important to know.

Iranian Agents Captured in Iraq, Building Bombs: This Is News, Right? Well, Not to The "Mainstream" News Media


Tell everyone you know about this news appearing in Captain's Quarters, another excellent political blog. This seems like important news, doesn't it? But look at the long list of major newspapers that reported nothing, zero, zilch, about the story.

Here's how Fox News reported it:

"American and Iraqi joint patrols, along with U.S. Special Operations (search) teams, captured two men with explosives in Baghdad on Monday who identified themselves as Iranian intelligence officers, FOX News has confirmed.

"Senior officials said it was previously believed that Iran had officers inside Iraq stirring up violence, but this is the first time that self-proclaimed Iranian intelligence agents have been captured within the country.

"The Defense officials also confirmed to FOX News that in recent days there has been significant success in tracking down 'known bad guys' based on information from local citizens. While those captured aren't from the list of former regime members or from terror leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's (search) network, they are 'active' bombers and organizers of recent violence."

You can find the Fox report here.

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

John Edwards for Vice President? And -- A Great Site for Good News from Iraq



I'll be posting more about this, but my early quick take on Kerry's selection of Edwards is that Kerry felt he badly needed some charisma in his campaign. (It does not take a rocket scientist to reach the conclusion that Kerry has a boring and arrogant persona.)

Edwards is indeed an engaging, personable guy. He's also spent all of one term in the Senate (his only elective office), with no foreign policy experience, and spent his pre-Senate life as a big-stakes trial lawyer-- the kind that sues big companies and earns huge verdicts. It made him a very wealthy man.

Those will be the two big challenges to Edwards: (a) not ready to assume the presidency, (b) and just a trial lawyer. Presumably Kerry's polling people weighed those negatives, and in light of all the political considerations the Kerry campaign apparently decided Edwards was the best choice. Three conclusions leap to my partisan mind:

1. Kerry is so worried about his unattractive personality that he chose his running mate based on the need to shore up that part of his campaign.

2. The choice tells us a lot about Kerry. At a time when the nation is at war against a committed and well-organized enemy (islamofascism), Kerry could have chosen someone like Sam Nunn and showed that he was serious about confronting that threat. I still don't think Kerry is serious. As far as I know he has never repudiated his statement that the war is primarily a law enforcement matter. He does not get it.

3. There will be plenty of partisan debate in this election about the role of trial lawyers in our society. It's about time. That group is a consistent and reliable friend of Democrats everywhere.


A blogger named Arthur Chrenkoff, who is based in Australia, routinely posts "Good News from Iraq." Courtesy of Powerline (one of the best blogs going), I learned of Chrenkoff's site. You can find it here. It's quite exhaustive but worth taking 2-3 minutes regularly to see all the advances being made that we know nothing about.

I note that Mr. Chrenkoff uses the same blog software I do. Now, how does he get all that cool stuff to appear on the right side of his blog? Someday I'll figure that out. So far I'm happy just to be able to post pictures.

Monday, July 05, 2004

Something Wondrous from Iraq

I have not been able to verify this independently, but I received an e-mail from a most reliable source that tells me that the pictured statue is currently on display outside the Iraqi palace that is now home to the 4th Infantry division. It will, I am also told, eventually be shipped and shown at the memorial museum in Fort Hood, Texas, and was made by an Iraqi artist named Kalat. For years, it seems, Kalat was forced by Saddam Hussein to make the many hundreds of bronze busts of Saddam that dotted Baghdad, and the artist was so grateful for the American liberation of his country that he melted down 3 of the fallen Saddam statue heads and made a memorial statue dedicated to the American soldiers and their fallen comrades. Kalat, the e-mail tells me, has been working on this night and day for several months. To the left of the kneeling soldier is a small Iraqi girl giving the soldier comfort as he mourns the loss of his comrade in arms.

If this is true, it is interesting for at least two reasons. One is that there are Iraqis who feel such a level of gratitude to America and the coalition; it is so hard to get a handle on just how the Iraqis feel about the invasion. The other is that we just never hear about this sort of story from the news media. There are surely many reasons for that, but it is frustrating just the same.

Do Supporters of The War Share Some Responsibility for The Public's Ambivalence?


This editorial by Matthew D'Ancona in the Daily Telegraph, appearing on July 4, is entitled "The hawks have only themselves to blame for Michael Moore's success." D'Ancona's thesis is that the Iraq war's advocates have done a poor job of convincing the public of the need for war. His arguments resonate with me, as I think they will with most conservatives who have watched in frustration as the war effort absorbs body blow after body blow, seemingly without many counter-punches.

Here are some excerpts:

"But who can blame Michael Moore for seizing his chance? No war in modern history has been as badly sold to the public as this one. In private, the Prime Minister admits to colleagues that, in this respect, 'I have failed.' No Western politician, including Mr Blair, has succesfully produced a political narrative which transcends the old methods of spin developed in the 1990s and explains why the war on terror is a completely new kind of struggle. . . .

"This is why it isn't enough to say that Moore manipulates the facts, or that he is a charlatan, or that his arguments are glib. The reality is that his methods are working, and working for a reason. He is the grizzled face of a culture in denial, the contrarian voice of the millions who would rather hate Dubya than confront the awesome threat that stalks our age. His success is an urgent warning to those who support the war, who grasp its importance, to raise their game, and fast. Nitpicking is not the answer. It's the big issues that count. And it's there that Michael Moore has no answers. If he is so visionary, why is his objective - to run Bush out of the White House - so parochial? What would he do about the new horrors of our time? Dude, where's your sense of history?"

Sunday, July 04, 2004

Now Here's A Photo You Probably Won't See On CBS, NBC, or ABC

Something I had to find on the Internet, not in the L.A. Times.

Doesn't look so tough here, does he?

Victor Davis Hanson on Myths of Iraq (Warning: Heavy Dose of Compelling, Clear Thinking Here!)


I don't have much to say about this except that is a terrific read. I think Dr. Hanson is one of the clearest, most compelling thinkers we have today on national defense issues.

Just to give you taste, here's his closing paragraph:

". . . a half-educated, vindictive buffoon like Michael Moore and all the ignorance that he stands for have captivated a foolish cultural elite. Let us face it: the Left in this country has gone absolutely crazy. Without worries of rebuke or censure, the dinosaurs of the 1960s really do wish us to give one final gift of their wisdom and humanity—and so does its best to bring us a repeat of American choppers fleeing the embassy roof, circa 1975, with millions left behind awaiting death, reeducation camps, and exile."

Saturday, July 03, 2004

An excellent Web Site to Visit on the Fourth of July


This site contains the text of the Declaration of Independence along with lots of good educational information about the Declaration, including biographical sketches of the signers and Jefferson's reflections in his autobiography about the days leading up to the signing on July 4, 1776.

Worthy Thoughts for Independence Weekend


Daniel Henninger's Friday column in Opinion Journal offers some measured perspective on Iraq and the push for democracy there. I was struck by these lines:

"Most of those stating their doubts in public about democracy in Mesopotamia are conservatives who supported the war itself but have come to believe that Middle Eastern history, culture, religion and an unseemly fascination with explosives and blood feuds makes self-government unlikely. Most liberals, meanwhile, concluded before the war that Iraqi democracy was a neoconservative plot and so are pretty much sitting out this turn in history."

I guess I am one of those conservatives who really wonders if democracy can take root among people with the Iraqis' cultural baggage. I get more hopeful when thinkers like Henninger remind me that success in the Iraqi democracy effort realy matters:

"The Middle East and North Africa, with 326 million people, is projected to grow to 649 million by 2050. It would be good for our national security if one large nation in that region became a normal place. We should be selfish in promoting normalcy for Iraq and the Middle East. At its most basic, a normal political country has at least two competitive political parties and holds periodic elections. Why? So that its citizens will spend their political energies arguing with each other, rather than sitting in local cafes trying to figure out who to blame for their lot and who to kill.

"Politics alone isn't normal life. We need to give self-governing Iraqis (and Afghans, also planning elections) full entree to the global trading system so that their young men can do what normal 20-year-olds have always done: Get out of bed in the morning, spend eight hours working at a real job and go home to a family, TV and soccer with their children. He still might think Allah is the best and the world full of infidels; but it's just a thought, not a jihad. Life goes on."

He goes on to compare Iraq with other countries, like Russia, whose path to greater democracy has been in many ways far bumpier than even Iraq's, so far. The entire column is worth reading as we contemplate those folks who, 227 years ago, said:

"And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor."

Friday, July 02, 2004

I hope I'm Wrong, But I Doubt We'll See Much about This in the News Media


In this AP report, Polish soldiers discuss finding missiles and mortar rounds whose "warheads all contained cyclosarin, multinational force commander Polish Gen. Mieczyslaw Bieniek said."

"'Laboratory tests showed the presence in them of cyclosarin, a very toxic gas, five times stronger than sarin and five times more durable,' Bieniek told Poland's TVN24 at the force's Camp Babylon headquarters."

This is again a discovery of a small amount of chemical weaponry, so it won't get a lot of press attention. Even so, one wonders how much more of this stuff is lying around in Iraq. As the linked article notes, "If these warheads, which were still usable, were used on a military base like Camp Babylon, they would have caused unforeseeable damage."

Paul Bremer's Insights on The Battle with Terrorists in Iraq; And The Media's Influence on Battelfield Decisions There


This article by Rowan Scarborough and Bil Gertz from the Washington Times will tell you a lot about what is going on there.

And this column by Diana West tells us how the news media's coverage of the war affects the actions of troops there. She describes one encounter:

"In what became a six-hour firefight, Americans battled militiamen of Muqtada al-Sadr to secure the hulk of a burning Humvee. It's not that our soldiers foughtbecausethe flaming wreck amounted to a tin can's worth ofmilitary value.They fought,as Capt. Ty Wilson of Fairfax, Va., explained to The Washington Post, because "we weren't going to let them dance on it for the news. Even [with] all the guys they lost that day, that still would have given them victory.

"Chalk one up for our side, a small win on the way to an underreported triumph over Muqtada al-Sadr's spring uprising. Iraq is sovereign, life goes on ... but I can't get over the chilling description of American soldiers risking their necks to keep the media from awarding a phony victory to the enemy."