Friday, July 25 2003
CALLING IT QUITS: I've been wondering just how long it would take before someone would publicly advocate pulling U.S. troops out of Iraq. I certainly didn't expect it to happen today, less than 48 hours after the unqualified success of U.S. troops eliminating Uday & Qusay Hussein.

Nevertheless, here you go, courtesy of Hubert Locke in this morning's Seattle Post-Intelligencer:

We should get out of Iraq sooner rather than later. Why not admit that we've accomplished little of what was our announced intent -- we haven't found any weapons of mass destruction, Saddam Hussein is more likely alive than dead and "democracy" in Iraq is likely to cause as many headaches for the United States as Saddam ostensibly did. Let's cut our losses, really support our troops and bring them home from the quagmire in Iraq.

Where to start with this opus of defeatism? First, let's tackle the obvious: whether you agreed with the premise for the war or not, it's a universally accepted fact that pulling our troops out now would be a disaster and make America and the world significantly less safe. I'm not aware any of any serious politician or candidate who is calling to bring the troops home - not even Howard Dean, though as I said on Tuesday, I'd like to hear exactly what he would do.

Even more disturbing, however, is Locke's incredibly warped sense of priorities:

So, while state and local governments across the nation totter on the verge of bankruptcy, vital federal programs from AmeriCorps to the National Weather Service have their budgets slashed and unemployment is at a new high, we're approaching a monthly outlay of close to $5 billion for two wars, neither of which seem to have accomplished their principal objectives.

Taking the last sentence first: the principal objective in both Afghanistan and Iraq was to forcibly replace regimes that either 1) were supporting terrorists or 2) pursuing weapons of mass destruction or 3) both. Mission accomplished. Rebuilding societies shattered by such corrupt and repressive regimes as the Taliban and Saddam is another matter - and one that we continue to work on.

Setting aside this falsehood, it's just absolutely mind-blowing that there are people out there willing to call off the entire war on terror so we can keep funding the National Weather Service. I'm all for Americorps, but anyone who sees it as more of a "vital federal program" than aggressively pursuing terrorists who want nothing more than to kill Americans - preferably as many as possible and on our own soil - really needs to have their head examined.

If our current leaders had anything approaching the ridiculous views of people like Hubert Locke, America would be a smoldering pile of ashes today. Thankfully, they don't.

But guess who Mr. Locke will be voting for next year. - T. Bevan 8:15 am

Thursday, July 24 2003
DEMOCRATS & "LA LOI DE LA JUNGLE": I suppose you might expect that French President Jacques Chirac would be in a particularly bad mood these days, given that American troops are making darn good progress in completing the liberation of the Iraqi people and are also closing in fast on his good buddy Saddam.

Still, earlier this week in Malaysia Chirac went into a public spasm of anti-Americanism that left even the reporters covering the event taken aback. Here's the lede from the International Herald Tribune:

"When two virulent opponents of American involvement in Iraq like President Jacques Chirac and Prime Minister Mahathir bin Mohamad of Malaysia get together, the language of disapproval of U.S. policy normally gets a full workout. But this was a notch above standard."

So what exactly did Chirac say? Well, he is quoted by the AFP as urging the establishment of a new international "mechanism" that will help "do away with unilateralism and bring multilateralism" Mssr. Chirac then continued:

"We can no longer accept the law of the strongest, the law of the jungle."

Apparently there was a bit of controversy over the official translation, though Chirac's press office released a clarification the following day that was just as lame.

Later in the IHT article, however, we come across even more of a knee-slapper:

Chirac was honored, the AFP dispatch said, for his "resolute opposition to the war in Iraq and the courage he demonstrated in placing himself on the side of the oppressed."

What's most striking about Chirac's statement and the rest of the language quoted in the article isn't that it came from two virulently anti-American international leaders halfway around the world, it's that it could have just as easily come from nearly all of the current Democrat presidential challengers at a campaign stop anywhere in America.

It is absolutely bizarre. Most rational politicians would recognize the fact that when your policy and rhetoric becomes indistinguishable from France and Malaysia, you've got a teeny-weeny bit of a problem on your hands.

Not Democrats. Led by Howard Dean, they've all got their feet pressed firmly on the antiwar gas pedal. The top on the convertible is down. Empty beer cans are tink-tinkling down the open road and they've got smiles on their faces as they speed toward the brick wall of election 2004.

THE JOB WE AREN'T DOING: This article raised the hair on the back of my neck. The U.S. Supreme Court recently struck down a California law allowing the state to "retroactively extend" the period for which persons accused of sex crimes could be prosecuted. Hundreds more convicted sex offenders are going to be released from California prisons in the coming months.

Meanwhile, on the other coast Massachusetts Attorney General Thomas F. Reilly said yesterday that sex offenses within the Catholic church will probably top one thousand. Even worse, the Boston Globe reports:

But Reilly said that, though he wished it were otherwise, he could find no criminal statute under which he could prosecute church leaders, including Cardinal Bernard F. Law.

The ability to protect our children from crime - especially from the heinous offenses of sexual crime and sexual abuse - is one of our society's most important jobs. We're not doing it nearly as well as we should and that's a tragedy. - T. Bevan 8:40 am

Wednesday, July 23 2003
UDAY & QUSAY GO DOWN: You wonder whether the fantastic news that our forces killed Saddam's murderous sons will guilt the media into focusing on issues of a little more consequence than the phony scandal about yellowcake from Niger.

With the steady drumbeat of negative news over the last few weeks it's very easy to lose sight of the big picture and forget that while there is still some tough sledding ahead in Iraq there is also a lot that can go right. Yesterday's victory in eliminating Uday and Qusay is a perfect example.

GEPHARDT STARTS TO PANIC: "Democratic presidential candidate Richard A. Gephardt, a staunch supporter of the war in Iraq, delivered a blistering assault yesterday on the Bush administration's handling of the postwar situation, saying the administration's unilateralism and ''momentary machismo'' have left Americans ''less safe and less secure than we were four years ago.'' ''When President Bush landed on an aircraft carrier and declared victory in Iraq, I think he chose the wrong backdrop for his photo-op. If you ask me, if he really wanted to show us the state of affairs in Iraq, he should have landed on a patch of quicksand,'' Gephardt said in a speech before the San Francisco Bar Association. ''President Bush may have won the support of a lot of Democrats -- including me -- for his war effort there, but in his dissembling and mishandling, he's steadily losing every ounce of bipartisan support he once had,'' said Gephardt, who helped draft the resolution authorizing force against Iraq. Gephardt's remarks represented a dramatic change from his behavior and rhetoric last year and reflected a growing national discontent, particularly among Democrats, over the volatile situation in Iraq." - Boston Globe

Gephardt's feeling the squeeze from the hard left in the Democratic nominating process who absolutely hate President Bush. However, he is making a mistake in trying to compete with Howard Dean on the anti-war rhetoric. It's bad politics for him and an indication to me that his campaign is starting to panic.

SPINNING HISTORY: Former Clinton Defense Secretary William Perry attempts to shift the blame from the Clinton administration's disastrous North Korean policy to the Bush administration in today's Washington Post.

The (Bush ) administration to this point has refused to negotiate with North Korea, instead calling on the countries in the region to deal with the problem. The strategy underlying this approach is not clear, but the consequences are all too clear. It has allowed the North in the past six months to move from canned fuel rods to plutonium and, in a few more months, to nuclear weapons. And the consequences could extend well beyond the region. Given North Korea's desperate economic condition, we should expect it to sell some of the products of its nuclear program, just as it did with its missile program. If that happens, a nuclear bomb could end up in an American city. The administration has suggested that it would interdict such transfers. But a nuclear bomb can be made with a sphere of plutonium the size of a soccer ball. It is wishful thinking to believe we could prevent a package that size from being smuggled out of North Korea. How did we get into this mess?

Of course, like many of the foreign policy problems we are facing today Clinton's group took the easy way out and decided to kick the real problems on down the road for another President to deal with.

It would be real easy for President Bush to have a big "summit" with the North Koreans where he could sign a nice long document getting Kim Jong Il to promise to stop building nuclear bombs and all the liberal editorial writers could gush over the diplomatic "victory." The problem, of course, is this isn't a real solution to the problem at all as the North Koreans would smile, take our money, and continue their pursuit of nuclear weapons.

Yesterday's editorial in the Washington Times does a good job of debunking Perry's attempt to rewrite history.

DOWD: Another beauty from Maureen Dowd in the New York Times. Today she imagines a letter from Vice President Cheney to Saudi Ambassador Prince Bandar where among the many ridiculous lines comes this gem of compassion from our Vice President as imagined in the fantasy world of Ms. Dowd: "I know you're worried that the whiny widows of 9/11 will throw another hissy-fit...."   Nice.  J. McIntyre 7:32 am

Tuesday, July 22 2003
AND YOUR PLAN IS?: Andrew Sullivan cleans up my blog from yesterday with an incisive post this morning:

"Much of the current criticism of the occupation as a whole is ultimately designed to weaken domestic support for the vital task in front of us. That's what the antiwar left and right are now trying to do. They lost the battle before the war and during the war. They now desperately need the U.S. to lose the postwar. It's time for those of us who supported the liberation of Iraq to fight back against this potentially catastrophic gambit. For the U.S. to give up now, to withdraw, or to show any vacillation in the face of great progress in the Middle East, would indeed make matters far worse than if we had never intervened in the first place. We have an obligation to make it work. If some Democrats continue to argue that we should cut our losses, they are simply not ready for government."

This, of course, begs the question of the current Dem front-runners for president: What's your plan in Iraq? I don't want to hear how you would have handled the run up to war differently than Bush, I want to know exactly how you plan to deal with the current reality in Iraq. If you spend the next 16 months undercutting the rationale for war in Iraq and are ultimately elected President, will we be pulling out in January 2005? If not, how many U.S. troops would you leave? Would you simply turn control over to the UN, put American forces under their control and be done with it?

I'm pretty sure that upon examining the answers to these questions we'll find the Dems advocating a return to the foreign policy status quo of the Clinton years. We'll be back to relying on unenforceable "framework agreements" and the "moral authority" of the United Nations to protect American security. Back to the ineffective but casualty-free strategy of lobbing cruise missiles here and there with little hope of hitting targets of any significance. Back to waiting for terrorists to strike and then treating them as criminals rather than combatants. In other words, we'll be back to playing defense.

But don't worry, fellow Americans, if elected we know the Democrats will spend hundreds of billions of dollars on homeland security getting us ready to respond after the next attack takes place.

The truth is that this administration has chosen the hard road. They've chosen it because in the long run they believe - as do I - that it's the best road for U.S. national security and for keeping peace around the world.

Bush didn't have to take a stand on Iraq. He could have sat back after victory in Afghanistan with a 70+% approval rating and coasted to victory in 2004. He could have looked at the intelligence on Iraq that said they possessed WMD's, were harboring members of al-Qaeda, supporting Palestinian terrorists, and pursuing a nuclear weapons program and shrugged his shoulders while Saddam continued to play games with inspectors and the UN Security Council.

Is the road we're on a painful one? You bet. Would it have been easier in the short term to embrace the false sense of security provided by working through the UN - shaking hands, smiling and signing on the dotted line of resolution number eighteen even as fellow Security Council members like France and Russia continued selling deadly weaponry and technology to countries like Iraq and Iran that support terrorists? I suppose so. But America would be less safe as a result.

So count me among the group of people who are thankful the "go-along-to-get-along" foreign policy days of the Clinton administration are gone, even if they have been replaced by a policy that costs us much more dearly in terms of lives and treasure in the short run.

AD NASEUM: This post by Steve Gilliard over at DailyKOS made me want to puke:

Because the people going after the Bush Administration are not worried about smears, but the men in places like Walter Reed and Bethesda. There is nothing you can say about a Joe Wilson, or any reporter that is as bad as being a 20-something amputee or watching parents bury a dead 19 year old.

Their sense of duty goes beyond party or election and to the nation. Maybe they feel that if the President claims a need to go to war, that his words reflect something like the truth and not a series of evasions, overstatements and outright lies. It may only be 16 words in the West Wing, but it is an arm, a leg, a future, a life to at least 1300 families in this country.

Give me a break. There's nothing more despicable than liberals who spend 90% of their time ranting about the evil "military industrial complex" and bashing the U.S. Armed Forces and then try to wrap themselves around tragic stories of soldiers injured in combat.

And let's be sure to clarify: Gilliard only plays the "compassionate" card over troops injured under a Republican president. Think we'd find the same outrage or tears shed over troops killed or injured in Somalia or Bosnia under Clinton? I didn't think so.

The fundamental difference between liberals and conservatives is that, in general, conservatives actually tend to respect people in the military. Even those of us who haven't worn a uniform spend our days praising the commitment of the young men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces, honoring their sacrifice and the sacrifice of their families, and deeply respecting their contribution to America's past, present, and future.

Many liberals, on the other hand, spend a good portion of their time carping at the size of the military budget, bleating about the evils of military force and approach our country's military institutions with attitudes ranging from skepticism to cynicism to outright contempt. And in far too many cases instead of celebrating their service, many on the left treat America's soldiers, sailors, and airmen as a combination of dupes and dolts, either too uneducated or too unaware they are just pawns of the Washington policy makers.

The difference in respect is big and it's noticeable. Why do you think the military votes overwhelming Republican every year? - T. Bevan 9:06 am

Monday, July 21 2003
GOING WOBBLY IN IRAQ: Casualties continue to mount. Bush's approval ratings continue to slide. The media continues to flog the "quagmire" storyline, updated with a fresh round of bleating about low troop morale.

Here's a bit of news that continually gets lost in the shuffle: it's only been 11 weeks since we won the war, folks. I'm not trying to minimize U.S. troop deaths or deflect attention from the long and difficult road we're facing in Iraq, but if American perseverance and will power to complete the tough job of combating terrorism and reshaping a more secure Middle East is measurable in days and weeks rather than months and years, then we've got big, big problems.

Eleven weeks. It's tough to build anything in eleven weeks, let alone a peaceful, working Democracy in a country of 25 million people that has been systematically ravaged by a brutal dictator for three decades. Still, the pages of newspapers and the hours of cable television have to be filled with something, and stories of our significant success and progress in Iraq are infinitely less interesting than continuous updates of the latest death, chaos, and disorder.

Do we need help to finish the job of winning the peace? Absolutely. I believe as time goes by we will continue to get more and more international help. But as President Bush warned us repeatedly, the job in Iraq is going to be a long haul and one we should be prepared for.

Meanwhile the Democrats, after spending the better part of two years shouting in the wilderness, are absolutely giddy to find themselves gaining traction against Bush. It's no surprise the DNC rushed into the studio to cut an anti-Bush ad over the Niger uranium issue and that they hope to take the "BUSH LIED" campaign national.

The problem is that the public really doesn't really care about the Niger issue or the overall WMD issue much at all. Bush's electability next year rests much more on whether the military can stop the small but consistent rate of U.S. casualties. From Time magazine yesterday:

Mary Holder, 53, owner of a pool hall in Dickinson, Texas, voted for Bush three years ago. She's not so sure she will again. "A lot depends on what happens between now and the election," she says. "It doesn't matter to me that we have not found weapons of mass destruction. What matters to me is that our boys are still getting killed. I don't want this turning into another Vietnam where we dump truckloads of money and lives." The President's standing has dropped with nearly every group, but his fall is particularly steep among the young—people like Meg Brohn, 23, of Mount Clemens, Mich., and her sister Caroline, 20. They supported the war, but they can't help noticing how many of those dying are around their age, and that has brought it home to them in a vivid and dismaying way. "When our troops are being so viciously attacked, it's obvious the Iraqis don't want us over there," says Caroline. Her sister says, "I don't think we'll ever be able to declare victory."

Either the people at the DNC don't know Americans could care less about Niger, which demonstrates how clueless they are when it comes to national security, or their real goal is to undermine the case for war - and thus the war itself. This way, in addition to attacking Bush's veracity, if the difficulties in Iraq continue through next year Democrats can play on the fears and anxieties of the public by calling the war a quagmire and a mistake.

ARIANNA FOR GUV: Hard to believe, but some people actually want Arianna Huffington to run for governor in California. Can you imagine the debate between Arianna and Arnold? We'd need subtitles just to make sure we could understand what they were saying. Saturday Night Live would have to bring back Mike Myers for a new "Sprockets" parody of the event: "Arianna, do you want to touch my monkey?"

On a more serious note, the article contains this quote, which puts Gray Davis' problem in a nutshell:

"I think the recall is despicable," said Hollywood film producer Robert Greenwald, a liberal activist pushing Arianna's candidacy. "But ... given Gray Davis' position on everything from corporate money to prison guards to social justice, there's no possible way I could find myself in a position of supporting him."

Odds are that Davis will need a moving van at the Governor's mansion in the very near future.

HISTORY LESSON: A reader emails to remind us that Julian Bond's grasp of history is almost as bad as the racially charged rhetoric in his awful speech to at the NAACP Convention last week:

"Their [Republicans'] idea of reparations is to give war criminal Jefferson Davis a pardon."

The Congressional Resolution that posthumously restored the rights of citizenship to Jefferson Davis was passed by the 95th Congress and signed on October 17, 1978 by (drumroll, please)President Jimmy Carter. Oops. - T. Bevan 8:45 am

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