August 31, 2004

Hanson Q & A on Sadr and Fallujah

Victor David Hanson in this Q&A agrees with my take on Fallujah and the Mahdi army -- they should have been taken out:
Q: Isn't the Iraqi government making the same mistake with Sadr that the Weimar government made with Hitler, trying to rein him in by promising him a position in government? I see only trouble ahead with this situation, Sadr's forces neither defeated nor humiliated, but legitimized. Shouldn't the Imam Ali shrine have been bombed weeks ago?
A: I don’t agree about bombing the shrine, but its occupants still should have been utterly defeated, along with those in Fallujah. Our theory is apparently—‘we can defeat them any time we wish,’ and, in fact, usually do."

As is usual with VDH, there's more, and it's incisive.

The Speech That Launched a Candidacy?

Harold Fineman, in this Blackberry-transmitted paragraph, confirms my take on Rudy Giuliani's speech:
After the convention session last night I bumped into one of the Republican Party's savviest conservative operatives and the conversation convinced me that Rudy Giuliani did something unusual: He launched a presidential campaign with a single speech. Charlie Black broke into politics years ago by going door-to-door (and trailer-to-trailer) for Jesse Helms in North Carolina. And Black's reaction to the gay-rights backing, abortion-supporting former mayor of New Yawk was interesting: He was in awe. "I'm telling ya, that guy could come down to North Carolina and do just great," Black said. In fact, with little notice in New York and Washington, Rudy already has been doing it, picking up chits by appearing for fund-raisers and political events throughout the South — and elsewhere. America's Mayor is a huge draw. He's also become a terrific speaker. Dominating a giant hall the way he did last night — while still connecting with the TV audience — and doing it all with intimacy and humor ... pretty impressive. And the hall was NOT packed with New Yorkers. "All the big shots from around the country wanted to hear him," Black said. "That was a tough ticket."

Ahnold was pretty effective, if less skilled and less learned. I don't know if the constitutional amendment to allow 20-year citizens as well as "natural-born" citizens to be President will pass in time to help the Terminator, though.

Giuiliani's Speech

Rudy Giuliani's speech in audio can be found here.

Worth a listen.

Mainstream Media in Free Fall

There's a good summaryhere of the rise of alternative media and the decline of the monopoly of print and main network media.

People like John Carroll of the bloated, sleazy Los Angeles Times are horrified that they can no longer pontificate unchallenged to the unwashed masses.

All in all, the rise of the blogosphere and talk radio is a long-term phenomenon, and largely possible.

August 30, 2004


Gave a very effective speech at the convention. I didn't know he had that much oratorical skill or wit. His timing was excellent.

Is he positioning himself for a run at Hillary, a cabinet post (Homeland Security?), or 2008? Or just basking in adulation?

His perp walks of offending securities dealers still offend me, though.

August 28, 2004

See What I Mean?

Andrew Stuttaford reports this:
"John Kerry had just pumped up a huge crowd in downtown West Palm Beach, promising to make the state a battleground for his quest to oust President Bush, when a local television journalist posed the question that any candidate with Florida ambitions should expect:

“What will you do about Cuba?

”As the presumptive Democratic nominee, Kerry was ready with the bravado appropriate for a challenger who knows that every answer carries magnified importance in the state that put President Bush into office by just 537 votes.

'I'm pretty tough on Castro, because I think he's running one of the last vestiges of a Stalinist secret police government in the world,'' Kerry told WPLG-ABC 10 reporter Michael Putney in an interview to be aired at 11:30 this morning. Then, reaching back eight years to one of the more significant efforts to toughen sanctions on the communist island, Kerry volunteered: ``And I voted for the Helms-Burton legislation to be tough on companies that deal with him.''

”It seemed the correct answer in a year in which Democratic strategists think they can make a play for at least a portion of the important Cuban-American vote -- as they did in 1996 when more than three in 10 backed President Clinton's reelection after he signed the sanctions measure written by Sen. Jesse Helms and Rep. Dan Burton.

”There is only one problem: Kerry voted against it.”

Don’t worry, don’t worry, he has an explanation:

”Asked Friday to explain the discrepancy, Kerry aides said the senator cast one of the 22 nays that day in 1996 because he disagreed with some of the final technical aspects. But, said spokesman David Wade, Kerry supported the legislation in its purer form -- and voted for it months earlier.”

There’s a bit of a pattern here, I think."
The man gives opportunism a bad name, as Gore Vidal once said of someone or other.

The Consequences of Hesitation in Fallujah

This story about conditions in Fallujah seems to confirm the view that holding back the Marines was a mistake.

When we go in, as no dobut we must, more will die than in we had gone in earlier.

Of advance, retreat, or vacillation, vacillation is the worst.

More of The Same

This stuff is truly unbelievable.

What kind of a parent would buy this?

Sold Out?

"Child Ho" Costume
Originally uploaded by octopod.
I don't think I'm wallowing in Puritanism because I believe the Child Ho Costume is shameful.

Popular culture has become disgusting.

Was Sayyid Qutb right when he wrote this?
"If we look at the sources and foundations of modern ways of living, it becomes clear that the whole world is steeped in Jahiliyya (pagan ignorance of divine guidance), and all the marvellous material comforts and high-level inventions do not diminish this Ignorance. This Jahiliyya is based on rebellion against God's sovereignty on earth: It transfers to man one of the greatest attributes of God, namely sovereignty, and makes some men lords over others. It is now not in that simple and primitive form of the ancient Jahiliyya, but takes the form of claiming that the right to create values, to legislate rules of collective behavior, and to choose any way of life rests with men, without regard to what God has prescribed."
Or did Savonarola have a point?

Of course, I'm no fan of either Qutb or Savonarola, but I don't shock easily, and as the father of girls, this one has me spooked.

Credit and Blame Where Each Is Due

This Ralph Peters piece, which does show the usual military disdain for civilian political control, scores some good points about the weaknesses of planning for post-war Iraq.

Particularly notable is his discussion of the fear our leadership has of telling the truth about the costs of fighting this war right.
"Why was our military prevented from conducting its standard, detailed planning processes? Why were troop levels held artificially low?

"Because ideologues in the Bush administration feared that, if the American people were given honest answers about the potential cost, it might be politically impossible to go to war."
We are not being told the whole truth. Kerry thinks we should be nicer to France, Germany and the U.N. Bush scares us with colored lights and then tells us to go about our business. The sad deficiencies of the Democrats, which make a vote for Bush necessary, don't give the Bushies a bye for their own mistakes and limitations.

The situation is much more serious than that. And our people aren't as feckless as some think, either.

August 27, 2004

My Worry, Too

It's a question who won in Najaf:
"U.S. military strategy has also suffered a blow, particularly since Najaf is the third confrontation in five months in which Iraqi insurgents fought American troops until they began to take losses, then agreed to a cease-fire so their fighters could rest and regroup. The fear is that Iraqis now believe they can pick the time and place of their attacks and then beat a safe retreat.

'What we will see here is that the Mahdi Army will just rearm, recruit a new group of fighters and move to another city,' said retired Marine Lt. Col. Rick Raftery, an intelligence officer who served in Iraq. 'We'll be playing 'whack-a-mole' somewhere else shortly.'"
The job of an army is to break things and kill people.

And what's "whack-a-mole," anyway?

Sadr Deal Seems to Hold

Reports suggest that the deal between as-Sistani and as-Sadr is holding.

In the short run, lives and property may have been saved, and given Iraqi sovereignty, US forces had no choice but to wait out the negotiations.

Whether leaving as-Sadr free to try some other maneusver later, at some time opportune for him, and avoiding a punishing confrontation serves the interests of the Allawi government and the US, even time may not tell.

The Shi'a can afford to wait out the elections. They are the majority. Fallujah, meanwhile, remains an abscess on the iraqi body politic, and the Ba'athists and Islamists there run the risk of being marginalized in an election. Expect more trouble from that quarter.

Wise and Generous

The incomparable Victor Davis Hanson has written this wise and generous analysis of the Vietnam service flap:
"It is time to drop the mess and leave it at this: A veteran John Kerry, who easily could have been blown up on numerous occasions, came home mixed up and said and did things he probably now regrets, which over the last three decades have provided both rich political capital for him and ammunition for his enemies — depending on the ever-changing perception of Vietnam in the popular memory of a given decade.

"So I conclude with empathy for John Kerry, whom I appreciate as a veteran who served his country — even if I would not now vote for him. He should have been aware of the god Nemesis. Still, in a spirit of magnanimity and appreciation for his months on a boat in a very inhospitable landscape, Americans perhaps should remember the words of Pericles, as recorded by Thucydides shortly after the outbreak of the Peloponnesian War: 'For there is justice in the claim that steadfastness in his country's battles should be as a cloak to cover a man's other imperfections; since the good action has blotted out the bad, and his merit as a citizen more than outweighed his demerits as an individual.'"
In short, give Kerry (and Bush), both of whom served when others managed to avoid it, the benefit of the doubt on what they did in Vietnam. This generous stance still leaves us free to question some of Kerry's oscillatiion between repudiating and then vaunting his service, and to consider whether his service overrides his dovish record on national defense and his apparently nonexistent strategy for today's war.

August 26, 2004

Some Perspective on Where We Are

If you're sick of Vietnam, as I am, though I seem to harp on it, read this piece by Claudia Rossett.

Defend the country. The rest is commentary.

Fundamental Hypocrisy

Jeff Jacoby's piece is agnostic about the Swift Boat Veterans' charges and Kerry's claims, but finda a "fundamental hypocrisy of the Kerry candidacy."
"He came to prominence as a radical opponent of the war in Vietnam, yet now he runs for president on the strength of his service in that war. He portrayed the men who fought there as unspeakable savages, yet now he surrounds himself with Vietnam vets at every turn. He lent respectability to those who demanded that America cut and run, that it abandon a beleaguered ally, that it drop 'the mystical war against communism.' Yet now he insists that he would be a tough and vigilant commander-in-chief, one who would never disrespect allies, one in whose hands the security of the United States would be safe."
I think Kerry embellished wildly, but Jacoby hits the main point.

August 25, 2004

Kerry Erosion in Polls

For the first time this year, Bush has gone ahead of Kerry in the latest LA Times poll. As this poll is usually slanted to the left, this news is significant, especially going into the convention, which may give Bush a "bounce."

Ronalt Brownstein says:
"That small shift from July was within the poll's margin of error. But it fit with other findings in the Times Poll showing the electorate edging toward Bush over the past month on a broad range of measures, from support for his handling of Iraq to confidence in his leadership and honesty.

"Although a solid majority of Americans say they believe Kerry served honorably in Vietnam, the poll showed that the fierce attacks on the senator from a group of Vietnam veterans criticizing both his performance in combat and anti-war protests at home have left some marks: Kerry suffered small but consistent erosion compared to July on questions relating to his Vietnam experience, his honesty and his fitness to serve as commander in chief."
Is Torricelli time approaching, or even if the news gets worse, will the captain go down with the ship?

Mickey Kaus's Take on the Kerry-Vietnam Issue

Democrat pundit Mickey Kaus writes:
"The problem is that Kerry is running for president on this official hype of a more-than-honorable record (one reason he's constantly referring reporters to his official medal citations). He's not only running on the hype but pushing it to the limit, milking it for all it's worth. That's dangerous in, yes, the Internet era! Obsessive fact-checkers can smoke out the exaggerations and get them past the ex-gatekeepers.** Unfortunately, it's more or less all Kerry's got. It wouldn't be so important if Kerry had a) a discernable ideology; b) a political message; c) a record of achievement; or d) an appealing personality! ... P.S.: As Polipundit's reservist reader notes, the standard military practice of grade inflation also puts Kerry's glowing 'fitness' evaluations in perspective. 'One of the Top Few' turns out to mean 'One of the Top 50%.' ..."

What Did YOU Do in the '60s?

The New Soldier Cover
Originally uploaded by octopod.
This is the cover of a book featuring John Kerry, among others. It's out of print, and likely to remain so.

I wouldn't want the world to know what I said, did or looked like in the '60s (not that anyone would care). Of course, I'm not running for President, and didn't base my campaign strategy on military service that I soon afterward bashed.

Swift Boat

Originally uploaded by octopod.
This is what they looked like.

August 24, 2004

A Reluctant But Convinced Bush Supporter

Retired officer Ralph Peters, no great fan of Bush, explains that the war leadership issue trumps everything else:
"I wish Kerry were better. The truth is that I'm appalled by Bush's domestic policies. I believe that the Cheney-Halliburton connection stinks to high heaven. And I'm convinced that Defense Secretary Don Rumsfeld & Co. have done colossal damage to our military and to our foreign policy.

"But we're at war. And for all his faults, Bush has proven himself as a great wartime leader. Despite painful mistakes, he's served our security needs remarkably well. And security trumps all else in the age of terror.

"Kerry says many of the right things. But I can't believe a word of it. I just can't trust John Kerry. I can't trust him to lead, I can't trust him to fight — and I can't trust him to make the right kind of peace."

Strange, Stuck-up... and Stupid

The prolific Mark Steyn's latest take on the Kerry Vietnam thing:
"I said a couple of weeks back that John Kerry was too strange to be President, and a week or two earlier that he was too stuck-up to be President. Since I'm on an alliterative roll, let me add that he's too stupid to be President. What sort of idiot would make the centrepiece of his presidential campaign four months of proud service in a war he's best known for opposing?

* * * *

"How cocooned from reality do you have to be to think you can transform one of the most divisive periods in American history – in which you were largely responsible for much of the divisiveness – into a sappy, happy-clappy, soft-focus patriotic blur without anybody objecting? Most Vietnam veterans of my acquaintance loathe John Kerry, and, if he wasn't aware of that, he's too out of it to be President."
This story is getting tiresome, even if the likes of Steyn and Hitchens write interestingly about it.

I'd be spending more time on his record and his convictions, if Kerry had either.

Soon -- how I'd go after Kerry if I were a Dem.

Hitchens . . .

is always original and writes jauntily, as here in a comment on the Kerry-Vietnam kerfuffle.

August 23, 2004

Change of Pace

This poem quoted in Winds of Change caught my fancy:
"Standing by the fence, You smile your wonderful smile.
Looking at you in silence I am amazed
I just heard you singing.
The words of your song
Belong to eternity.
With all my heart I bow to you in respect."
I think it's from this book.

Morning in Which America?

Pat Buchanan, for all that he sometimes seems to relish wearing hides and carrying a club, raises an important issue -- whether this country is being hollowed out by a doctrinaire adherence to free trade and generous legal and look-the-other-way illegal immigration.

Combined with rising fiscal and trade deficits, these trends raise considerable concern. Doctrinaire protectionism and nativism carry their own risks, too, but these issues seem to be off the table entirely in this campaign.

August 22, 2004

Iranians Hang a 16-year Old Girl

The mullahs hung a 16-year-old girl for "unchastity."

Are we willing to say that our culture is better than theirs, in this respect. Or do we look the other way to be "multicultural"?


Former NYC Mayor Koch gets the central question straight-- he said he decided to support President Bush in the 2004 election because of Bush's stance on Iraq.
"While I don't agree with Bush on any domestic matters, there's only one matter that's important in this race, and that relates to standing up to international terrorism, taking it on -- and George Bush (search) has established that he is willing to do that."

Priorities Among Weasels

Aright aready! Enough Kerry for a while.

¡No Pasarán! in some posts of disturbing images, demolishes the pretense of the cultural sophisticates in Chiraqistan, and too many here.

Yet again, Sod the Frogs!

Organs Reputable In Their Own Minds

Another print journalist waxes self-righteous about the virtues of the "reputable" (read "conventionally liberal") media:
"Discerning voters will notice that the more reputable organs of the national press have not cast doubt on Kerry's Vietnam service. That is because political attacks on it don't pass the smell test."
One can imagine this version from 100 years ago:
"Discerning travelers will notice that the more reputable coachmakers have not dabbled with horseless carriages. The very idea of a horseless carriage doesn't pass the smell test."
The blogosphere and talk radio live. Deal with it.

The Smart Money Knows What's Happening

Joe Klein, the author of Primary Colors, wonders whether Kerry is
"a latter-day Ron Burgundy—the idiot 1970s anchorman of Will Ferrell's recent film who would read anything that appeared on his TelePrompTer?"
Klein answers in the negative. Apparently he thinks Sen. Nuance is the captive of idiot political advisers who extrapolate focus-group pieties about "positive politics" into an unwillingness to join issue even where W. is vulnerable.

Mebbe so. But wouldn't a President who can't overrule his advisers (especially ones from today's Democratic Party) necessarily be a failure?

Analysis of Post Story

Instapundit analyzes the Washington Post story on the Kerry Vietnam thing,

August 21, 2004

The Washington Post Makes a Decent Effort

This effort to ferret out the facts is balanced and professional, if not definitive.

When the liberal press do better than hack journalism, give them credit.

I don't think many liberals would give, say, Rush Limbaugh, credit even if he somehow stumbled into (their) truth on some issue.

Oh, well!

The Swift Boat Story Is Having an Effect

Adam Nagourney, Kerry's no. 1 shill at the New York Times, is forced to admit that the Swift Boat ads and brouhaha are hurting Kerry politically.

More interesting is Nagourney's whimpering about the increasingly influential new media -- talk radio and the blogosphere:
"In fairness to Mr. Kerry, his aides were faced with a strategic dilemma that has become distressingly familiar to campaigns in this era when so much unsubstantiated or even false information can reach the public through so many different forums, be it blogs or talk-show radio."
Translation: the print media and the major networks no longer control the agenda. Boo hoo!

Setting aside its regretful tone at the print press's loss of its gatekeeper role, Nagourney's comment confirms the prescience of Hugh Hewitt's book, which makes the same point in some detail.

August 20, 2004

Howard: Follow the Logic

Howard Dean begins to see the light about Zeropean hypocrisy.

Follow the thread, Howard, and you'll see the follow of looking to the UN or the Zeropeans to protect human rights, let alone the West, against their enemies.

Advice Kerry Won't Follow

Mickey Kaus-- a seasoned Democrat who understands that Kerry's a stiff-- writes as follows:
"Alert: Watch out for a big Sunday paper pro-Kerry eyewitness hit (on the Silver Star incident--that's the one with the beached boat and the fleeing VC) ... Timed to vindicate Kerry on the eve of the Republican convention. ... P.S.: Even more reason to have a press conference! ... 6:13 P.M.

"Here's the sort of calm factual rebuttal--as opposed to, say, conspiracy-minded, process-oriented base-pleasing paranoia about a 'web of connections'!--that might actually do Kerry some good against the Swifties. ... P.S.: I agree with RCP in that I don't quite see how--as Kerry's campaign manager boasted--the recent Kerry push-back 'marks the end' of the Swifties, let alone turns the story into a positive for Kerry. ... Doesn't Kerry now need to hold a big, Ferraro-like press conference? People will pay attention. If he handles it well, the Swifties' story will be dead and he'll jump 5 points in the polls. If he doesn't handle it well... hmm ... what's Senator Lautenberg doing next month anyway? ... "
Sen. Lautenberg is the guy who parachuted out of retirement to replace NJ Sen. Torricelli when T. began to sink in the polls and renounced his candidacy. And remember Sen. Eagleton?

Kerry won't take this advice. Will there be a "Checkers" speech?

Kerry might do best with a front porch campaign. The more you see, the less you like. There's a chance that Bush will self-destruct or events will weaken him; why encourage a comparison that's bound to be invidious, whatever W's weaknesses?


Originally uploaded by octopod.
Little Green Footballs shows this picture to symbolize John Kerry's complaint to the Federal Elections Commission about the Swift Boat Veterans' supposed ties to the Bush campaign.

This smacks of desperation, shooting the messenger, and stupidly increases the publicity this story is finally getting.

It also shows that those who thought McCain-Feingold and campaign finance "reforms" are a threat to the First Amendment, were right.

And this is probably Over The Top, but funny anyway.

Tough Stuff

Watch this ad by the Swift Boat Veterans. It shifts the debate away from "What did you do in the war, Daddy?"

Is Kerry touting his service, or his repentance, or is he repenting his repentance?

A lot of us have changed our minds about this period over the years, but we aren't running for President on the basis of military service that we later repudiated and then boasted about. Kerry chose to make it the centerpiece of his acceptance speech.

Fair game, it seems to me..

Center Stage for Ahnold

Eric Hogue thinks Arnold, who will be on the networks at the GOP Convention, has a chance to knock it out of the park for Bush. He may be right. Arnold is macho and charismatic, but moderate and non-threatening. He can not only get away with not being politically correct, but people will like him for it.

By the way, has anybody seen Cruz Bustamante lately?

August 19, 2004

Gotta Admit It

Hugh Hewitt out-wrote me on this Cambodia issue.

Of course, he's living the story. I'm not.

Slinking to Cambodia

After ignoring the questions raised about Kerry's credibility on his Vietnam service for weeks, the New York Times came up with this front-page top-of-the-fold hitpiece, attacking the messengers but not getting to the bottom of the story.

Although I think the real issue is not "What did you do in the war, Daddy?" but that we are in a war and side, whatever its deficiencies, has some understanding and commitment to defending the country, and the other lacks that capacity with its yammering about how we need to involve the United Nations and the French. Kerry has tried to cover over these deficiencies by pointing to his Vietnam record.

It's to his credit that he went at all, but the questions about his service and subsequent repudiation of it are real, and important because of the effort to create a military facade. And it's increasingly evident that either Kerry lied repeatedly, at least about Christmas in Cambodia, or has so rich a fantasy life that he's a sick puppy.

There's jury instruction that says if a witness is false in one thing, you're entitled to think in false in all things. That's the point.

This is an issue that the blogosphere and talk radio have pushed, and the pro-Kerry mainstream media ignored and are now trying to kill. Problem is, as the failure of the LA Times's hit on Arnold last year exemplifies, the credibility of these media is in free fall.

The Word from Fallujah

The Green Side has an on the scene report from Fallujah. Looks like we should have taken the town in the Spring, and will have to take it soon.

"War is Hell!" said Gen. Sherman, and for sure he was right.

A concern is that some in the U.S. hierarchy are still coddling the Sunnis, for fear that a Shi'a Iraq would be too close to Iran, or because they have ties to the traditional Sunni rulers of Iraq. Is this the reason it appears we are going to take down Muqtada, but aren't ready to reduce Fallujah? So argues Michael Rubin here. Only time will tell.

Meanwhile, God bless the Marines, and let us hope for the success of their arms!

August 18, 2004

Is Hugh Overdoing It?

The admirable Hugh Hewitt has been carrying on about Senator Nuance's rich fantasy life about his service in Vietnam, and Cambodia (Not!).

Is this a reasonable use of energy or a diversion?

Personally, I don't have much interest in Swift Boats and the details of the Vietnam War. However, Senator Nuance has made his four or five months of Vietnam service the basis of his campaign ("Reporting for Duty!'). If the cornerstone is a papier-mache facade, there is not much left of the campaign. Nuance's choice.

So Hugh's just following the bread crumbs that Nuance scattered in the forest. Fair game, so sez I.

If this works, was I wrong?

The tenative peace deal between Allawi and Muqtada, if it goes through, may save some lives.

Only time will tell if I was wrong. I'm still inclined to think things would be better and fewer lives lost if we had crushed Falluja and Muqtada early on.

Ballot Skulduggery

The Democrats have mounted an effort to keep Ralph Nader off the ballot in as many states as possible.

This behavior, especially shameful and undemocratic though it is, has ample precedent in New York, where both parties use baroque and inscrutable ballot requirements to control who gets on the ballot.

Though Ralph Nader is an apostle of the Nanny State, he represents a real political current in the country, and in fact, with Senator Nuance's recent statement that he would have voted for the Iraq resolution even knowing what he does now, may be the only candidate to represent the true heart of the Democratic Party activists on the issue. Nader has a real following even if the Republicans in some states are trying to get him on the ballot as a matter of tactics.

To spend energy to keep him off is a disgrace.

The right to bear arms could have saved Sudan

This commentary in National Review Online, is right on.

There may be some costs to widespread gun ownership, but often the costs of prohibition are far higher.

Goofball Geopolitics

John Kerry, as reported by the New York Times (free subscription), has criticized Bush's plan for gradual redeployment of 70,000 U.S. troops in Europe and Asia.

He says it's the wrong time to move the troops because of the fight against terrorism. These troops, originally based abroad to fight a now-vanished Soviet threat, are, of course, not based anywhere useful for the war on terrorism.

This is a long-overdue redeployment from countries that no longer need the "tripwire" deterrent against the Soviet Union that the U.S. troops represented, countries that are no longer especially friendly to U.S. policy, and many located in a Europe that is more and more a rival to the U.S.

And then, Kerry goes on, the redeployment is too gradual!

Which is is, Sen. Nuance, a cur or a cockroach?

August 17, 2004

Political Juvenilia: Tootsie and Teresa

This sort of thing is juvenile and unserious, like the George Bush ape series.

But -- strangely fascinating, anyway.

August 15, 2004

Argument Against Killing Muqtada

Crooked Timber has a fairly reasoned argument against crushing Muqtada. I think he's wrong, but he has some good arguments.

The best argument is that we could have predicted we wouldn't get serious and finish the job. In which case, we should have sat tight. Proclaiming serious intent and then backing down is about the dumbest course imaginable.

Even the Times Gets It

This editorial reflects the fact that even the New York Times's editorial board recognizes an unprincipled swine when they see one.

The man doesn't have the courage of his lack of convictions.

Democrats Peddle Their Own Unique Truth

Nothing I haven't said before, but Mark Steyn says it better.

What an appalling candidate Kerry is!

August 14, 2004

Here's Hama, By the Way

Hama Before Assad Razed It
Originally uploaded by octopod.
This is a photo of Hama in the 1940's, well before Assad razed it.

I'm not suggesting, of course, that we have to raze cities or deliberately slaughter civilians, only destroy enemies when we must.

In the Middle East, it appears that hesitancy comes across as weakness. When you shoot at a king, or a totalitarian political party, or a violent religious movement, you must kill him (or it).

Hama Rules Still Apply

"Hama Rules" is Thomas Friedman's phrase:
"In February 1982 the secular Syrian government of President Hafez al-Assad faced a mortal threat from Islamic extremists, who sought to topple the Assad regime. How did it respond? President Assad identified the rebellion as emanating from Syria's fourth-largest city — Hama — and he literally leveled it, pounding the fundamentalist neighborhoods with artillery for days. Once the guns fell silent, he plowed up the rubble and bulldozed it flat, into vast parking lots. Amnesty International estimated that 10,000 to 25,000 Syrians, mostly civilians, were killed in the merciless crackdown. Syria has not had a Muslim extremist problem since."
These rules apply in Iraq, like it or not.

To temporize as we did in Falluja, rather than destroy the "Mahdi Army" of Maqtada as-Sadr, will either cost us defeat, or the Iraqis and us more lives and treasure to win ultimate victory later.

August 13, 2004

Between Psychobabble and Common Sense

Even the The New York Times editorial on McGreevey had to admit his hiring his lover as security adviser was wrong:
"Gay or straight, that kind of relationship raises troubling questions, apart from the issue of whether it was consensual. Mr. Cipel was originally appointed as the governor's homeland security adviser, a job for which he had no discernable qualifications. If Mr. McGreevey put someone in that critical post because of a personal relationship, that would be an outrage, regardless of his sexual orientation."
But they have to make obeisance to all the navel-gazing drivel about his inner gayness ("uncommon grace and dignity"), even though they recognize he's a crook:
"But the story has always been marred by ethical questions swirling around his office.

"The cast of characters is long, and the details unsavory."
In short, how quaint and sincere that he admits he's gay (while making children with women). Gosh, but too bad about the corruption.

Where's Edwin Edwards when we need him?

The Price of Temporizing

The Price of Temporizing
Originally uploaded by octopod.
Healing Iraq has an important discussion of what the sudden stand-down with Muqtada as-Sadr may mean.

It is important to show that fighting us and our allies has consequences, especially when we split Iraq once (in 1991), after encouraging a Shi'i uprising, at an enormous cost in human lives, and our departure is just a matter of time.

In the long run it would have saved lives to have crushed Falluja. The same with Muqtada.

Design Review Among the Lagunatics

Laguna Beach planning is an insane maze, and everyone knows it. Here's a letter I wrote to the local weekly about the process. Click on Page 16 and you'll get a PDF file of the page. The letter's in the fourth column from the left, just below the smiling mortgage broker.

Bush Hatred Decoded

Originally uploaded by octopod.
The indispensable Victor Hanson decodes Bush-hatred.

August 12, 2004

More Touchy-Feely Piffle

The usual suspects are expressing their admiration and understanding for a public servant who betrayed his trust by appointing his unqualified lover to an important public position.

Then he delays his resignation so the constitutional requirement for a special election can be avoided.

Hypocrisy knows no bounds, does it?

The Inner Man

If Bill Clinton had said, "Ever since childhood, I've felt different, and now I'm in touch with my inner self, and now I know -- I really like to have it off with chubby interns," which is pretty much what Gov. McGreevy said, except he likes boys, oh how even the New York Times would have howled!

And if Clinton had given Monica a job she wasn't qualified for, just to shut her up while and after they were having it off, he would not be lionized for his sensitivity and self-knowledge.

I don't care what people do sexually, as long as they don't frighten the horses, but lying to your wife, and putting your lover in positions of responsibility (Homeland Security? Across the river from the WTC?) they aren't qualified for, ain't sensistivity and self-knowledge. It's a betrayal of the public trust.

And the wife is standing by him, even though he's about to be out of a job. What is SHE thinking?

August 11, 2004

Back to Normalcy

Back to Normalcy
Originally uploaded by octopod.
Warren Harding, the most underrated President.

An interesting foil to Woodrow Wilson, who campaigned that he kept us out of war, then got us into an unnecessary one, and screwed up the peace.

Which one was the neocon?

Another Take on Chalabi

The Wall St. Journal has a different take on the Chalabi affair:

"The only obvious winners here are the Baathists. One of Saddam's lawyers reacted to the news by calling it "a miracle from God to help Saddam Hussein."

"Both Chalabis have vigorously denied the charges and questioned the bona fides of the judge. Zuhair al Maliky is a former translator at the Coalition Provisional Authority who was elevated to his current position by the former U.S-appointed governor, L. Paul Bremer. In April Mr. Bremer amended his original order establishing Iraq's Central Criminal Court to eliminate a requirement that judges have five years of prior judicial experience; Mr. Maliky had none. The head of Iraq's union of judges has questioned the court's legitimacy."

Curiouser, as Lewis Carroll put it, and curiouser.

August 10, 2004

Palaver Now, Pay Later?

Ralph Peters makes a point. It might have been wiser to crush Falluja and Moqtada as Sadr in the first place.

In the Middle East, the "Hama Rules" apply. More important to be feared, or at least respected, than loved.

Whatever the failings of the Bushies, though, Senator Nuance would be worse.

August 9, 2004

Plain Talk From a Swift Boat Vet

A blog, Mudville Gazette: The Swifts, tells it like it is about Senator Nuance.

Kerry started the Vietnam vet thing. Maybe he won't finish it.

August 8, 2004

This is Fascinating

This story will fascinate anyone who loves intrigue. How the mighty have fallen!

Where's Wolfowitz when you really need him?

And why is the Pentagon's favorite Iraqi politician hanging out in Iran?

Curiouser and curiouser.

Sinking in Cambodia

There is a new Cambodia kerfuffle involving Sen. Nuance. If Kerry had not made such a much-of-a-muchness over his four months of Vietnam service, it's long enough ago that no one should care. After all, it's what he did since that counts.

But since the Dems put Kerry's Vietnam service on center stage, evidence that he has lied about it is NOT beyond the pale. The link above explains Sen. Nuance's prevarication.

'Nuff said.

Fortune-Telling Riposte

The blog of Eugene Volokh, a law professor at my alma mater, UCLA Law, The Volokh Conspiracy, is one of the more interesting and intellectual legal blogs out there. Here's a sample, on the lighter side:

"With the City of LA contemplating licensing and enacting a curfew for fortune tellers, this tidbit, quoting California Supreme Court Justice Mosk, is particularly apt:

"A small community in California passed a local ordinance prohibiting fortune telling within its city limits. A fortuneteller named Fatima Stevens brought a lawsuit seeking an injunction against enforcement of the ordinance. Obviously there were serious First Amendment problems with the ordinance, which was a total prohibition -- not a regulation or a licensing -- of the activity. However, the fortuneteller lost in the courts below, and our Supreme Court granted a hearing.

"As counsel for the fortuneteller rose for oral argument to present her case, Chief Justice Lucas said, 'Counsel, you have us at a disadvantage.'

The attorney was perplexed. 'Why, Your Honor?'

'''Well,' said the Chief Justice, 'hasn't your client told you how this case will ultimately turn out?'

"On its face this was an irrelevant joke; but it was, intentionally or not, sending a subtle message that fortune-telling is indeed bunk, and that even the lawyer can't be taking it seriously -- something that would have dovetailed well with the city's arguments that fortune-telling is fraudulent and should be banned. Dangerous stuff for the lawyer. Here's how Mosk describes the lawyer's artful dodge:

"I could not have conceived of an appropriate response to that judicial hand grenade. But this attorney was up to the challenge. 'No, Your Honor,' he replied. 'You must remember I did not consult my client for advice. She consulted me.'

"The fortune-teller won."

My Hero Has It Right Again

Victor Davis Hanson, one of the current godlings in my pantheon, tells some hard truths about Europe and the U.S. in today's Wall St. Journal.

With Russia now a sub-Arctic Argentina, exactly why do we (a) maintain troops in Europe at our own expense; (b) promote the unification of a continent where Britain and we historically tried to maintain a balance of power, precisely to avoid its unification.

If we abandon Weaseldom, it is conceivable they would come to their senses before Muslim immigration and post-Christian reproductive failure accomplish the Islamization that Charles Martel managed to prevent.

I'm tempted to add a Steve Martin-esqe "But no o o o!" -- but I won't.

Terrorism and the Border

It's not politically correct, but a recent entry in Michelle Malkin's HOMELAND INSECURITY FILES raises a difficult issue.

Our southern border is still porous. Mexico continues to export its economic problems and our politicians and employers continue to wink at mass uncontrolled immigration.

Now that the Islamists have declared war on us, the uncontrolled border is a potential security nightmare. The terrorists who hoped to attack LA's airport at the millenium came in from Canada. Al Qaeda is not tactically stupid.

Even if one is pro-immigration, isn't it time to fence the entire border, raise the forces necessary to seal it, and CONTROL who comes in. We could, as we once did, allow unlimited immigration from the New World, or cut off immigration entirely. That's an issue for another day. For now, the issue is whether we should regain control over the border and DECIDE who gets in.

The Democrats will never do it because they define the issues as civil liberties and multiculturalism, and pander to ethnic voters who they think favor immigration. The Republicans are also attempting to pander, and are beholden to agricultural and other employers who don't want to pay U.S. wages.

Time to grasp the nettle.

August 4, 2004

More on Brother Sharpton

Jonah Goldberg agrees with me about the Democrats' sycophancy toward the eloquent but appalling Al Sharpton.

August 1, 2004

Kerry's "Snob Hit"

Mark Steyn writes:

"The Kerry campaign seems to be the political equivalent of what they call on Broadway a 'snob hit': the longer it is, the more boring it is and the worse time you have at it, the more you feel it must be good for you. To his numbed, buttock-shifting listeners, the great sonorous self-regarding orotund bromidic banality of Senator Kerry and his multitude of nuances is proof of how much more serious he - and therefore they - are. This is a profoundly un-American attitude and, from the so far bounce-less post-convention polls, it doesn't seem to be resonating with 'swing voters'."

The ultimate empty suit!