Friday, April 16, 2004 - Texas Talk on Palestine: "In his declaration that any two-state resolution of the crisis could include some Israeli settlements on post-1949 lands and the resettlement of Palestinian refugees in a Palestinian state, Mr. Bush did not so much break new ground as acknowledge demographic reality. Those attacking him for daring to speak this frankly only encourage Palestinian hardliners to continue along their debilitating course of rejectionism.
Rather than losing his credibility as an honest broker, as critics charge, the President's straight talk has strengthened his position. Anyone who claims to be a moderator in the pursuit of a just, two-state solution for Israelis and Palestinians cannot at the same time tolerate ideas that would lead to the demise of one of those states. A 'right of return' for Palestinians to Israel is such an idea."

Good piece over at WSJ. Sorry it's subscriber only, but if you'd like the full text, email me (above left) and I'd be happy to send you a copy.

The American Spectator: "One of the appendices to Rowan Scarborough's book, Rumsfeld's War, is a previously classified study of why Clinton never used special ops troops to attack bin Laden. That study says that when the Clintons considered employing special operations forces against bin Laden, questions arose whether the Defense Department had the legal authority to engage in such covert operations. Part of it says, 'Pentagon lawyers in the 1990s argued that DoD did not have the legal authority.�Only the CIA�had the license to conduct covert action...'

But, as the study found, the Pentagon lawyers' objection is wrong, and specific authority exists for the president to assign covert missions to the armed services. And who was the chief lawyer in the Pentagon in 1993 and 1994? None other than our gal Jamie. She left DoD for the Justice Department before bin Laden became a household word. But DoD top lawyers would have consulted with Gorelick on an issue that would be -- as that one was -- briefed to the Secretary of Defense, and probably to the president as well. Did Gorelick participate in the decision to nix spec ops? What advice did the DoD ask for and receive from her and the Justice Department on that subject? The Commission needs to find out. Under oath."

This brings to mind two questions:
1)Are you kidding me?
2)Are we sure this chick isn't UBL's secret agent in the US government? Because it sounds an awful lot like she's behind everything that kept us from protecting ourselves.

Thursday, April 15, 2004

The Volokh Conspiracy
David Bernstein over at Volokh has a great, to-the-point post about Israel and Palestine, ending with this money quote:"It was almost two years ago that Bush made it clear that he would judge the Palestinian leadership by one criteria: its willingness to fight terrorism. Why, two years and no willingness to fight terrorism later, it expects 'evenhandedness' from Bush shows that they simply don't understand the man."

UPDATE [4/15/2004]: And here's the key, from - Arafat: Palestinians won't concede to Sharon's plan - Apr 15, 2004: "But Arafat said the Palestinian people will not give up, and said there can be no security for Israel as long as the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands continues."

The Palestinians, at least Arafat and his goonies, believe that all Israeli territory is actually Palestinian land. The rough translation of that statement is: "There will be no security for Israel as long as there is an Israel." Arafat still seeks the destruction of the Israeli state, at the expense of any concession Israel might be willing to make. It's why he didn't agree to the Camp David Accords, and it's why he'll never agree to anything offered to him by the Israelis. It's why he needs to be out of the equation, and in the meantime Israel cannot yield any ground. As an Israeli classmate said to me the other day, "There won't be peace between Israel and Palestine until Arafat dies." I looked at him and said "Of natural causes, of course." He replied "Of course!" And we both snickered.
Arafat is a junior UBL: a terrorist of a lower order, but still a terrorist. - Europe: No deal with bin Laden - Apr 15, 2004: "European politicans have ruled out negotiations with Osama bin Laden after a tape purported to be of the al Qaeda leader offered a truce to European nations if they pulled out troops from Muslim countries."

Smart move on Al Quaeda's part. I thought it was silly for them to open a front in Europe to begin with. Following September 11, most perceptions in the United States changed: we knew we were at war, and we had to fight back. Europe, with a few small exceptions, still does not see things that way. I've been saying for a while now that it would take a 9/11 on European soil for things to change. It would be smart for UBL, therefore, to avoid such an event. If he takes on America alone, and divides us from Europe, he has an increased probability of success.

That being said, I still want the bastard dead. The entire world will be better off once he's gone. - Presidential advisors still stuck in Cold War: "On Sept. 11, the president was initially clueless, yet his Director of Central Intelligence understood the situation. The stark contrast in reaction to the attacks begs a troubling question. Is the president so totally detached that he failed to grasp the significance of the unfolding events that morning, or is he so poorly advised that he did not comprehend the first collision's implications despite his top intelligence officer's full awareness?"

Mr. Menitove seems to be intelligent, and his piece is well-written, but he's missing a few important realities. For one thing, when the first plane hit the World Trade Center, everyone thought it was just a pilot error. Tenet is the exception, not the rule. Which brings me to my second point(s): we have specialization in government for a reason, and Tenet rose to the top of the CIA for a reason. He is good at what he does (though I think a little past his prime), and his job is to keep everything about intelligence on the top of his mind. The President, on the other hand, has to have a handle on everything at once. This is why we have a Director of the CIA - so that when the President doesn't have the full information, and makes a conclusion ("One bad pilot"), he can step up and say, "excuse me sir, but here's another piece of information you should consider." ("we've got this character who was in flight school and has Al Quaeda connections. This might have been terrorism.") - 'Operation' to save presidency fails at launch: "Of course, no proof exists as to the actual involvement of the Bush administration in this 'operation' [the NBC movie about 9/11] except that Republicans tend to have exceptional stealth-like technique when it comes to influencing the media. After all, CBS decided not to air the supposedly biased movie about Reagan's life last year or the ads during the Super Bowl after an uproar from the right.

Furthermore, there are other small indicators that call into question their involvement in this 'covert operation.' First of all, the timing to air the movie could not have been more perfect with the barrage of controversy surrounding pre-Sept. 11 intelligence. Perfect timing has become a trademark of the Bush administration. Remember the secret trip to Baghdad that was perfectly timed to coincide with Thanksgiving? Moreover, when one of the characters claims the government knew about the possibility of hijackings, but not the use of planes as missiles, he echoes the testimony of National Security Advisor Rice and previous responses from administration officials who have stated the exact same thing. But wait, there is more. The movie's focus on the search for Osama Bin Laden in Afghanistan attempts to act as a distraction from the reality of the crisis in Iraq. Finally, big business and the media have become synonymous with five corporations dominating the industry, and we all know that big business overwhelming contributes to Bush."

I feel an overwhelming need to write a letter to the editor in response to this column, and I will do so just as soon as I finish the paper I'm working on.
Here are some of my initial thoughts:

  • What?? She really thinks that NBC broadcast a movie about 9/11 because Bush wanted it to happen? Come off it.
  • Why would the YDN (which at least likes to pretend to be a legitimate news source) agree to publish such conspiracy theory nonsense?
  • Perhaps the reason one of the characters talks about the administration knowing that hijackings were possible, but not thinking of planes as missiles, and the reason this ties in with Condi's testimony is that it's true? Has she bothered to read the PDB? It mentions hijackings. NOTHING in the government mentions kamikazes.
  • One of my favorites: "The movie's focus on the search for Osama Bin Laden in Afghanistan attempts to act as a distraction from the reality of the crisis in Iraq." Oh really? Maybe it's because it's a movie about 9/11, and as you all on the left love to point out, Iraq has nothing to do with that, whereas searching for Bin Laden does? (disclaimer: I acknowledge that Iraq and Saddam Hussein likely had nothing to do with 9/11. I still maintain that we are in Iraq precisely to do everything we can to prevent future 9/11s.)
  • And the one that takes the cake: "Finally, big business and the media have become synonymous with five corporations dominating the industry, and we all know that big business overwhelming contributes to Bush." I really love people who think that all big business acts as a unit, and that the networks are controlled entirely by their parent companies--it just shows their ignorance of the way a corporation works.
I'm really ashamed that the YDN published this, and sincerely hope that they'll publish my response. If I get around to writing it...

Day By Day by Chris Muir, cartoon for: 4/15/2004

If you haven't heeded my advice in the past, start reading Day By Day today!

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

My Thoughts on the Press Conference
I must admit, I did not watch all that closely, because I was working on a paper at the time. (If you know anything about the media battle with the administration during the first Gulf War, please email me with that information). What I heard both pleased and amused me.

I think Bush handled himself very well. Once or twice I heard him say something along the lines of "I'm sorry, I just can't think of an answer to that question on the spot, under all this pressure." I almost threw my shoe at the TV when I heard that. But there were many, many more times when he seemed to have his wits about him, and he took punches very well. There were several tough questions that he dodged with agility, and others that he chose to answer, and to answer well. I was pleased and proud that he maintains his conviction that we are still doing the right, and necessary, thing in Iraq, both for that country, for our own safety, and for the good of the world. All in all, I think he handled himself very well -- infinitely better than on Meet the Press a few months ago, when I wanted to beat him to a bloody pulp, or at least smash my TV. My favorite line of the night: "I don't plan on losing my job."

So, you ask, why was I amused? I thought his handling of the Press was hilarious. It was slightly reminiscent of Rummy's press conferences (and I wouldn't at all be surprised if he was one of the primary preparers for this event), but its true parallel simply tickles me: a teacher of young children. That's right, W most resembled his wife, Laura. His constant statements along the lines of "if you all shout I'm not going to call on anyone," and "let's see, who haven't I heard from yet?" and even acknowledging, "hang on folks, I do have some must-gets here." He didn't take himself too seriously during the Q&A, and even seemed amused by his interviewers at times. It's a new side from W, and one that I hope we continue to see.

My prediction: his poll numbers rise after the press conference. - Conservative learns how to be a liberal
Every now and then, just when I've given up and concluded that Yale is hopelessly liberal, I read something like this, and my faith is restored.

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

A Strategy for Iraq ( "Finally, we must level with our citizens. Increasingly, the American people are confused about our goals in Iraq, particularly why we are going it almost alone."

And, Senator Kerry, it couldn't possibly be related to the fact that you keep telling them "we shouldn't be alone, we shouldn't be alone!" without explaining that, in order to oust the regime, we had little choice, could it?

The New York Times > Opinion > Op-Ed Columnist: The Uncertainty Factor: "If you follow the 9/11 commission, you find yourself in a crowd of Shultzians. The critics savage the Clinton and Bush administrations for not moving aggressively enough against terror. Al Qaeda facilities should have been dismantled before 9/11, the critics say.
Then you look at the debate over Iraq and suddenly you see the same second-guessers posing as Weinbergerians. The U.S. should have been more cautious. We should have had concrete evidence about W.M.D.'s before invading Iraq.
Step back and you see millions of people who will pick up any stick they can to beat the administration. They're perfectly aware of the cruel uncertainties that confront policy makers, but, opportunistically, they ignore them."

If you don't know who Shultzians or Weinbergerians are, the perhaps you should read the whole thing. And if you do, you should still read it.

Senator, Iraq Is No Vietnam (via InstaPundit)

Everyone should read this. It's short and to the point, and shows the absurdity that a Russian military analyst can see how extremely different from Vietnam, and even Chechnya, but so many in the US cannot. Click through, read it.

Monday, April 12, 2004

Ichiblog had a particularly good day today, so check him out!
Comments on Victoria's Secret, John Kerry's jerkiness, and blog aesthetics. What else could you ask for?

Anti-war demonstrators want troops out of Iraq: "'The only way the United States is going to leave Iraq, which is very unfortunate, is if the Iraqi resistance militarily wins,' said Joshua Deutsch, 22, a public health student at UC Berkeley with a 'Long Live Fallujah' sign."

I say, put him in Fallujah, and give him a twenty-minute time limit to join the Iraqi opposition, at which point the Marines come after him. -: "AM I BEHIND THE CURVE? I'm quoted in the latest Wired as saying that the Bush folks are way behind where blogs are concerned. And certainly Larry Purpuro's dismissive comments supported that. But on the other hand, the BlogsforBush blogroll now lists over 400 blogs who have signed on as officially affiliated Bush blogs.
UPDATE: My mistake -- they're not officially affiliated, and one of the bloggers associated with it says that Blogs For Bush is more a sign that the Bush Campaign doesn't get blogs, and that the slack is being picked up by outsiders, than that the Bushies are on the ball. Er, I mean, this proves I was right all along! Yeah, that's it."

The update is in response to my email. AWESOME. Wish he'd given me credit, though...

Oh, That Liberal Media: Los Angeles Times Ratchets Up Its Campaign of Distortion Against Justice Scalia

I don't know if this is a sign of liberal bias, necessarily, but it is certainly a case of very poor journalistic integrity. The LA Times ought to be ashamed.

Political Wire: Quote of the Day
Not to toot my own horn...
I must say, I like the fact that I had similar thoughts to Karl Rove on matters of political strategy.

Stop Embracing the Negative (
I become more enamored of Mr. Raspberry every week. He's a clear liberal, but a reasoned one, deserving of respect. Read this column if you don't believe me.

Andrew Sullivan quotes Tony Blair: "Of course [the terrorists] use Iraq. It is vital to them. As each attack brings about American attempts to restore order, so they then characterise it as American brutality. As each piece of chaos menaces the very path toward peace and democracy along which most Iraqis want to travel, they use it to try to make the coalition lose heart, and bring about the retreat that is the fanatics' victory.
They know it is a historic struggle. They know their victory would do far more than defeat America or Britain. It would defeat civilisation and democracy everywhere. They know it, but do we? The truth is, faced with this struggle, on which our own fate hangs, a significant part of Western opinion is sitting back, if not half-hoping we fail, certainly replete with schadenfreude at the difficulty we find."

Speaks for itself.

Money Quote from today's Political Diary: "We have always known this could happen. We've warned about it. We've talked about it. I regret to say, as -- I served on the Intelligence Committee up until last year. I can remember after the bombings of the embassies, after TWA 800, we went through this flurry of activity, talking about it, but not really doing hard work of responding... We need to make certain that those countries that sponsor terrorism, that support it, that harbor these fugitives are as much a part of the problem as those who engage in the terrorist acts themselves" -- Senator John Kerry in an interview with CNN's Larry King on September 11, 2001, the day terrorists attacked the World Trade Center and Pentagon.

Revenge of the Nerds
Richard Clarke: I wish we hardly knew ye.
Read this if you want to see a great justification of why you should be skeptical about Richard Clarke's testimony. It's not character assasination, it's just an analysis of Clarke's position to judge things.
Money quote: ""Indeed, Mr. Clarke advocated pre-emptive attacks on Afghanistan in the 1990s, years before reasonable people (much less the U.N.) came on board.
In contrast, Ms. Rice, in visibly angry testimony before the 9/11 commission last week, insisted that she and President Bush had to manage competing threats. Just as Mr. Clarke named al Qaeda the top foreign threat, NSC Korea experts thought that North Korea, which murdered two million people and threatened to spread nuclear weapons, deserved the title of global enemy No. 1. Still others saw China, with a billion people, hundreds of nukes, and threats to incinerate Los Angeles, as America's biggest nightmare."

OpinionJournal - Featured Article: "Everyone understands why and how some of our basic rules, beginning with provisions of the Patriot Act, changed after Sept. 11. America declared war on al Qaeda and bin Laden, and the Congress and president put the country on a war footing. It's important to remember that war changed these rules and the FBI, CIA and the rest of the government can only be judged prior to Sept. 11 by the pre-existing rules."

This is a really interesting piece written by former FBI director Louis Freeh. It's persuasive, but also contains an in-depth outline of just how the FBI acts to prevent terrorism. Take a look. - Mass seal hunt sparks outrage - Apr 12, 2004
See? It's not Republicans who club baby seals -- it's Canadians!

And just in passing, isn't it interesting that it's not the cull announcement that is news, but rather the outrage over the announcement? I just find that curious.

Captain's Quarters (via InstaPundit): "Dean's editorial perfectly encapsulates the Democratic approach this year; their focus isn't on what they can offer the American public but simply to vent hatred as a selling point. Here's a measure of what Dean is selling: Ralph Nader is mentioned in the text of this article eight times, not counting the headline. George Bush is mentioned seven times by name.
John Kerry is mentioned once."

Relates directly to my mini-poll at the left. At this posting, there have been 16 votes. 5 pro-Bush, 3 pro-Kerry, and 8 anti-Bush. It amazes me how few Democrats I talk to actually like Kerry--they just think he can beat W. Well, I have to say, if you can't get excited about your candidate, how can you expect him to win the public?

While I'm on the presidential election, can I make a new rule? Polls are no longer allowed to come out every other day concerning an election that is still over 6 months away. I'm tired of everybody pointing to a poll and saying "The newest Newsweek polls shows that John Kerry has retaken the lead, by seven points, directly contradicting yesterday's Gallup poll that showed Bush ahead by six points." Uh, guys, can't you see that this clearly means the public hasn't made up its mind, and the polls are going to keep flipping-flopping at least until after the conventions? [end rant]

Winds of Change.NET: Dan's Winds of War: 2004-12-04 has a great round up of news coming our of Iraq. There are a few pieces I'd like to comment on:
"The US is planning Operation Resolute Sword in response to the Sadr Revolt."
This doesn't seem like a good name for the operation. Why? It sounds WAY too much like something straight out of the crusades for my taste. Don't get me wrong, I like the name a lot. I'm just concerned about all of those people who shout "we should be declaring war on the Religious Right, not Islam."

"Iran has reportedly dumped $80,000,000 into funding the Sadr Revolt, which would at the very least explain where Sadr is getting all of his money. "
Next stop on the roadmap to peace: Iran. 80 million to directly oppose the US?? This cannot stand, and I really hope the Bush administration finds a way to deal with those thugs.

Sunday, April 11, 2004

The Masters
I would like to proclaim my gratitude for Martha Burk. For those who don't remember, she is the woman who began the crusade against Hootie Johnson and Augusta National Golf Club for their refusal to admit women as members. Those who know me may be surprised by this announcement, but allow me to explain.

I spent my Easter afternoon watching The Masters with my family, on a beautiful, widescreen, plasma, HD TV. The technology was wonderful - the panoramas, the clarity of the golf ball through the air (you could actually see it!), the beautiful colors all over ther course, and so on - were all beautiful. But the best part all leads back to Ms. Burk: no commercials.

You may remember that when Ms. Burk threatened to lead a boycott of The Masters' sponsors, Mr. Johnson, the president of August National, responded by removing all sponsorship of the tournament, deciding instead to have the Club pay for the entire thing itself. The result? Straight broadcasting of the whole tournament by CBS, and a significantly more enjoyable experience. The only interruptions were for the occasional PGA ads, which weren't annoying at all.

God bless nutty, misplaced, feminist anger.