[UPDATE 2... Funny, but by the Democrats predictable parsing of Dubya's words they actually allowed him an opportunity to further express his vision on Iraq, Afghanistan and the war against terrorism - not a particularly bright thing for the Democrats to do during a week in which the Republican National Convention is taking most of the press already.
Anyway, here's how Bush put it to Rush Limbaugh:
Well, I appreciate you bringing that up. Listen, I should have made my point more clear about what I meant. What I meant was that this is not a conventional war. It is a different kind of war. We're fighting people who have got a dark ideology who use terrorists, terrorism, as a tool. They're trying to shake our conscience. They're trying to shake our will, and so in the short run the strategy has got to be to find them where they lurk. I tell people all the time, "We will find them on the offense. We will bring them to justice on foreign lands so we don't have to face them here at home," and that's because you cannot negotiate with these people. And in a conventional war there would be a peace treaty or there would be a moment where somebody would sit on the side and say we quit. That's not the kind of war we're in, and that's what I was saying. The kind of war we're in requires, you know, steadfast resolve, and I will continue to be resolved to bring them to justice, but as well as to spread liberty. And this is one of the interesting points of the debate, Rush, is that, you know, I believe societies can be transformed because of liberty, and I believe that Iraq and Afghanistan will be free nations, and I believe that those free nations right there in the heart of the Middle East will begin to transform that region into a more hopeful place, which in itself will be a detriment to the ability to these terrorists to recruit -- and that's what I was saying. I probably needed to be a little more articulate.
... I love to tell the story, Rush, about a meeting with Prime Minister Koizumi. He's my friend. He's the prime minister of Japan. It wasn't all that long ago that my dad, your dad, and others dads were fighting against the Japanese, but because after World War II we believed that Japan could self-govern and could be democratic in its own fashion, Japan is no longer an enemy; it's a friend, and so I sit down with him to help resolve issues like the North Korean peninsula. In other words, we're working together to keep the peace. The same thing is going to happen in Iraq and Afghanistan, and that's when I say the transformational power of liberty. That's what I'm talking about.
RUSH: Well, I remember you also said in one of your first speeches after the 9/11 attacks that this is going to go maybe beyond one or even two terms that you might serve.
PRESIDENT: I think so. On the other hand, we're making great progress. Today at the Legion I said, "We're winning the war on terror, and we will win the war on terror." There's no doubt in my mind, so long as this country stays resolved and strong and determined, and by winning, I just would remind your listeners that Pakistan is now an ally in the war on terror. Saudi now takes Al-Qaeda seriously, and they're after the leadership. Libya is no longer got weapons of mass destruction. Afghanistan, I don't know if you've discussed this on your program, but there are over ten million people who have registered to vote in Afghanistan, which is a phenomenal statistic when you think about it. And then of course Iraq is now heading toward elections as well, and we're making progress.
[UPDATE 1... I just found the full interview between Matt Lauer and President Bush on columnist Michelle Malkin's site, and I must say that the media spin machine is even more outrageous than I had previously thought. And I didn't think that could be possible.
They parsed Bush's words to the extreme. When Bush says "we can't win it" he's responding to Lauer's initial question of "Do you really think we can win this war on terror in the next four years?" That changes the entire context of the questioning! This was never mentioned by follow up reporting during the last 24 hours, or by the Democrats.
Bush continues: "I have never said we can win it in four years."
As Malkin says, Bush is correctly noting terrorism as a tactic, not an "it" to be defeated. Regarding defeating Islamic radicalism Bush says, "I can't tell you [a timeline]. I don't have any [timeline]… definite end. But I tell you this, when we succeed in Iraq and Afghanistan, it's the beginning of the end for these extremists." Read the whole interview.
Man, I am just disgusted how the media and liberals can take an entire interview and spin one sentence to mean something it was never intended to mean.]
The Kerry-Edwards campaign took immediate advantage of Bush’s faux pas on the Today Show that “I don't think you can win” the war on terror, parsing his words and omitting his elaboration, and using the moment to try and spin themselves as the true hawks. Suddenly the party obsessed with nuance and “grey areas” believes in black and white; suddenly the Democrats have discontinued their previous three years of critical questioning the Bush administration with “how can we kill every terrorist?”
Bush’s full words were as follows:
Asked, “Can we win?” Bush said, “I don’t think you can win it. But I think you can create conditions so that the — those who use terror as a tool are less acceptable in parts of the world. I have a two-pronged strategy. On the one hand is to find them before they hurt us. ... The long-term strategy is to spread freedom and liberty. You cannot show weakness in this world today because the enemy will exploit that weakness. It will embolden them and make the world a more dangerous place.”
Everyone knows what Bush means, of course. While once again his lack of speaking skills hamstrung his delivery Bush was saying pretty much what he said in the days following 9-11: that this war was generational, would outlast his and likely the next president, and that we needed something beyond a pure military strategy to effectively ruin Islamic extremism and terrorism.
Showing the true gravitas of a trial lawyer John Edwards naturally concentrated on the first sentence and never mentioned the followup as he promised campaign audiences all day Monday that a Kerry-Edwards considered “This is no time to declare defeat” and “The war on terrorism is absolutely winnable.” Yet to date, Kerry-Edwards have not said how they plan on win, or elaborated on their strategy as Bush does repetitively, other than tell the Iranian government that a Kerry-Edwards team would allow the world’s foremost terror state to keep their nuclear reactors.
Yeah, great plan, fellas.
I don’t think the Democrats will be able to steal any image as war leader away from Bush on this because while Bush may butcher the English language everyone knows what he means, and more importantly, that he does what he says. Contrast this to John Kerry, an excellent, even Clintonesque speaker, who never misses a moment to give a ten-paragraph answer when a two-word one will do, and whose proficiency of the English language is so great that nobody knows what he means, where he stands or if he’ll do what he says.
The Washington Post’s Howard Kurtz, a columnist who specializes on rounding up media opinion for the day’s topics, is aghast by so much 9-11 imagery at the opening of the Republican National Convention. Funny thing is, it is the Kurtz and the media mainstream’s aversion to all things 9-11 that is so out of touch with America, not the Republican emphasis of that day or this war.
NEW YORK, Aug. 31--I knew the Republicans were going to talk about 9/11 last night. I didn't know they were going to drag us through every bloody minute of it. When Rudy Giuliani recalled turning to his police commissioner after the awful attacks on the twin towers and declaring "Thank God George Bush is our president," it was clear they were pulling out all the stops. Any campaign would take advantage of the president's response to 9/11, even if the convention wasn't in New York, even if the third anniversary wasn't days away. But the endless retelling of those days, the comments by the 9/11 family members, the skyline backdrop, all of that raises the question of whether they went a bit too far.
Boo-hoo. Can’t you just hear the whining? Not fair, not fair, they’re talking too much about 9-11!
Kurtz wasn’t alone. CNN’s Judy Woodruff, the NY Times, USA Today, the LA Times, Slate, and Washington Post all fretted, as cited in his column, over what they consider misuse of 9-11 imagery. This coming from the same media that shortly after 9-11 decided that it could not show any more 9-11 images because it was “too disturbing for you and me” – to quote country star Darryl Worley’s hit. The Washington Post opined it a “back to the future strategy” that sought to remind Americans of Bush’s war leadership record following 9-11. What? How dare Bush! When I read all these complaints it only solidifies my analysis of our mainstream media and liberal activist elites – that they really don’t think we’re in a war and that they really are living in September 10, 2001.
The Democratic National Convention was all about Vietnam. The majority of Kerry’s speech was devoted to it. So obsessed are the American Left with the glory days of Vietnam protesting, Watergate, and murders of civil leaders like RFK and Martin Luther King, Jr., that their convention became just another blast from the past. Maybe that’s great for the baby boomer who considers Woodstock a life-altering event, but 9-11 is it for the rest of us. Most importantly, tomorrow morning we could wake up and discover that another 3,000 Americans have been killed. We’re in the middle of a war right now, and shouldn’t be obsessed with the one 30 years ago.
So forgive the rest of us if we don’t consider the RNC’s 9-11 citations as overkill. Rather, we consider the media’s lack of attention to it on a daily basis underkill.
In any plan to destroy global terrorism, removing Saddam Hussein needed to be accomplished. Frankly, I believed then and I believe now that Saddam Hussein, who supported global terrorism, slaughtered hundreds of thousands of his own people, permitted horrific atrocities against women, and used weapons of mass destruction, was himself a weapon of mass destruction. But the reasons for removing Saddam Hussein were based on issues even broader than just the presence of weapons of mass destruction. To liberate people, give them a chance for accountable, decent government and rid the world of a pillar of support for global terrorism is something for which all those involved from President Bush to the brave men and women of our armed forces should be proud.
President Bush has also focused on the correct long-term answer for the violence and hatred emerging from the Middle East. The hatred and anger in the Middle East arises from the lack of accountable governments.
Rather than trying to grant more freedom, create more income, improve education and basic health care, these governments deflect their own failures by pointing to America and Israel and other external scapegoats.
But blaming these scapegoats does not improve the life of a single person in the Arab world. It does not relieve the plight of even one woman in Iran. It does not give a decent living to a single soul in Syria. It certainly does not stop the slaughter of African Christians in the Sudan. The changes necessary in the Middle East involve encouraging accountable, lawful governments that can be role models.
This has also been an important part of the Bush Doctrine and the President's vision for the future. Have faith in the power of freedom. We have won many battles - at home and abroad - but as President Bush told us on September 20, 2001 it will take a long-term determined effort to prevail. The war on terrorism will not be won in a single battle. There will be no dramatic surrender. There will be no crumbling of a massive wall. But we will know it. We'll know it as accountable governments continue to develop in countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq. We'll know it as terrorist attacks throughout the world decrease and then end.
And then, God willing, we'll all be able on a future anniversary of September 11th. To say to our fallen brothers and sisters. To our heroes of the worst attack in our history and to our heroes who have sacrificed their lives in the war on terror. We will say to them we have done all that we could with our lives that were spared to make your sacrifices build a world of real peace and true freedom.
-- Rudy Giuliani.
Now I jest, of course, when I say that Giuliani reads my web page but to the point he sums up succinctly why Iraq was central to the war on terror. So many people just don’t get it. In fact, a few weeks ago I had an E-mail debate with a buddy who plans on voting for Kerry because he considers him the “lesser of two evils.” Ridiculous sure, but I don’t pick my friends by their lack of wisdom (jab, jab). Eventually, based off of thoughts found in posts like this one from last week, I got him to concede that in order to address global terrorism, specifically Islamic-based terrorism, one must first address why it thrives – because it’s the only political alternative to the regional despots. You either back the despot or the Islamic radical. There is no other voice.
Simultaneously, I conceded to him that the Bush administration hasn’t done a good enough job getting this message out. I hope Giuliani is not too late. But to me, whether the message came too late, or was too often delivered poorly, it doesn’t change the fact that Bush, not Kerry, is doing it, and that Bush, not Kerry, will continue to promote this vision.
If McCain was good former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani was spectacular. One can understand why the liberal network television conglomerates altogether snubbed Monday’s Republican National Convention because they’re just too scared that McCain and Giuliani would connect with mainstream America in a way that would bury John Kerry. I’m not exaggerating. The networks were just plain scared to cover these two guys. (Had Pat Robertson been speaking they'd have given it prime time coverage.)
Giuliani, on top of recounting our unique, if undesired, place in history in a wholly different kind of war, taught a kind of history lesson highlighting all the times the world had witnessed terrorism and “allowed it to succeed.” It’s no mistake that Giuliani reminded the public of terrorist events related to Jews and Israel – Giuliani is reminding the Jewish-American vote that a Bush presidency will protect them while a Kerry one will not. Giuliani recounted Munich 1972, and how the terrorists were arrested and then set free by the German government.
Action like this became the rule, not the exception. Terrorists came to learn they could attack and often not face consequences.
He then reminded the viewers of Achille Lauro, and how the terrorists responsible were allowed to escape by the Italian government.
So terrorists learned they could intimidate the world community and too often the response, particularly in Europe, was "accommodation, appeasement and compromise." And worse the terrorists also learned that their cause would be taken more seriously, almost in direct proportion to the barbarity of the attack. Terrorist acts became a ticket to the international bargaining table. How else to explain Yasser Arafat winning the Nobel Peace Prize when he was supporting a terrorist plague in the Middle East that undermined any chance of peace?
That’s smart politicking. The critic would skeptically say this is playing politics, but there is no playing politics when the statement is true. Could anyone challenge Giuliani on this, realistically? Does anyone believe that Kerry would look out for Jews or Israel when John Edwards is promoting his solution for Iranian nuclear arms by saying Iran gets to keep its nuclear reactors? Or when a Kerry team would promote a United Nations that frequently passes slanted judgment after judgment against Israel?
Giuliani did an excellent job, next, of comparing and contrasting the positions of John Kerry and George W. Bush:
And since September 11th President Bush has remained rock solid. It doesn't matter how he is demonized. It doesn't matter what the media does to ridicule him or misinterpret him or defeat him. They ridiculed Winston Churchill. They belittled Ronald Reagan. But like President Bush, they were optimists; leaders must be optimists. Their vision was beyond the present and set on a future of real peace and true freedom.
... President Bush sees world terrorism for the evil that it is. John Kerry has no such clear, precise and consistent vision...But it is important to see the contrast in approach between the two men; President Bush, a leader who is willing to stick with difficult decisions even as public opinion shifts, and John Kerry, whose record in elected office suggests a man who changes his position often even on important issues.
When Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1990, John Kerry voted against the Persian Gulf War. Later he said he actually supported the war. Then in 2002, as he was calculating his run for President, he voted for the war in Iraq. And then just 9 months later, he voted against an $87 billion supplemental budget to fund the war and support our troops. He even, at one point, declared himself an anti-war candidate. Now, he says he's pro-war. At this rate, with 64 days left, he still has time to change his position at least three or four more times.
My point about John Kerry being inconsistent is best described in his own words when he said, "I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it." Maybe this explains John Edwards' need for two Americas - - one where John Kerry can vote for something and another where he can vote against the same thing. Yes, people in public office at times do change their minds, I've done that, or they realize they are wrong or circumstances change. But John Kerry has made it the rule to change his position, rather than the exception.
In October, 2003, he told an Arab-American Institute in Detroit that a security barrier separating Israel from the Palestinian Territories was a "barrier to peace." A few months later, he took exactly the opposite position. In an interview with the Jerusalem Post he said, "Israel's security fence is a legitimate act of self defense."
The contrasts are dramatic. They involve very different views of how to deal with terrorism. President Bush will make certain that we are combatting terrorism at the source, beyond our shores, so we can reduce the risk of having to confront it in the streets of New York, or in Chicago, Los Angeles, or Miami, or some rural area. That’s what it means to play offense in the war on terrorism and not just defense.
John Kerry's record of inconsistent positions on combating terrorism gives us no confidence he'll pursue such a determined course.
President Bush will not allow countries that appear to have ignored the lessons of history and failed for over thirty years to stand up to terrorists, to dissuade us from what is necessary for our defense. He will not let them set our agenda. Under President Bush, America will lead rather than follow.
John Kerry's claim that certain foreign leaders who opposed our removal of Saddam Hussein prefer him raises the risk that he would accommodate his position to their viewpoint. It would hardly be the first time he changed his position on matters of war and peace.
Even though I am a well-recognized liberal on many issues confronting our society today, I find it ironic that many human rights advocates and outspoken members of my own entertainment community are often on the front lines to protest repression, for which I applaud them but they are usually the first ones to oppose any use of force to take care of these horrors that they catalogue repeatedly.
-- Actor Ron Silver
But there is no avoiding this war. We tried that, and our reluctance cost us dearly. And while this war has many components, we can't make victory on the battlefield harder to achieve so that our diplomacy is easier to conduct. That is not just an expression of our strength. It's a measure of our wisdom.
And take that Mike.
John McCain hit a nice home run shot in his Monday night address at the Republican National Convention by leveling a wonderful right cross squarely on the big, fat jaw of “film maker” Michael Moore. McCain’s insult instigated a roaring cheer that forced McCain to pause abnormally long as the camera panned to Moore, who was sitting in the pressbox covering the event for USA Today. Moore, naturally, was repugnant as usually, egging the crowd on further. McCain, after a minute or two, smiled and said “that one was so good I’ll have to use it again,” and repeated the line.
After years of failed diplomacy and limited military pressure to restrain Saddam Hussein, President Bush made the difficult decision to liberate Iraq. Those who criticize that decision would have us believe that the choice was between a status quo that was well enough left alone and war. But there was no status quo to be left alone.
The years of keeping Saddam in a box were coming to a close. The international consensus that he be kept isolated and unarmed had eroded to the point that many critics of military action had decided the time had come again to do business with Saddam, despite his near daily attacks on our pilots, and his refusal, until his last day in power, to allow the unrestricted inspection of his arsenal. Our choice wasn't between a benign status quo and the bloodshed of war. It was between war and a graver threat. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Not our critics abroad. Not our political opponents.
And certainly not a disingenuous film maker who would have us believe that Saddam's Iraq was an oasis of peace when in fact it was a place of indescribable cruelty, torture chambers, mass graves and prisons that destroyed the lives of the small children held inside their walls.
Whether or not Saddam possessed the terrible weapons he once had and used, freed from international pressure and the threat of military action, he would have acquired them again. The central security concern of our time is to keep such devastating weapons beyond the reach of terrorists who can't be dissuaded from using them by the threat of mutual destruction.
We couldn't afford the risk posed by an unconstrained Saddam in these dangerous times. By destroying his regime we gave hope to people long oppressed that if they have the courage to fight for it, they may live in peace and freedom.
Most importantly, our efforts may encourage the people of a region that has never known peace or freedom or lasting stability that they may someday possess these rights. I believe as strongly today as ever, the mission was necessary, achievable and noble.
Missing from McCain’s speech was the important contrast between Bush and Kerry. This was standard McCain, and credit to him, no matter how much he and Bush don’t get along this is the second week in a row in which McCain makes it clear that he’s not in Kerry’s corner. However, McCain’s decision not to really gun for Kerry only goes to remind one that no matter how much Republicans like McCain he always gives us a reason not to love him.
If you haven’t been paying attention to the blog of Arthur Chrenkoff it’s not too late to start. Today the WSJ picks up a day’s worth or reporting on Iraq by Chrenkoff, who specializes in picking out all those back page stories that show all the good progress in Iraq. Thanks to Chrenkoff and the Internet it’s not quite as relevant as the major media refuses to publish the word Iraq on the front page unless it’s accompanied by bad news.
The international efforts continue to bring the Iraqi infrastructure into the 21st century after the destructive hiatus of Saddam's rule. As one report notes: “After long delays and broken deadlines, there are signs that the largest reconstruction effort since World War II's Marshall Plan is poised to explode. New and refurbished power stations are starting up weekly. Contractors are finishing plans for building thousands of schools, clinics and infrastructure projects. Iraqi jobs have soared from 5,300 daily employees to more than 88,000.”
Let's hope that the pace does indeed pick up. The World Bank has now come onboard with some hands-on reconstruction assistance:
The World Bank is aiming to embark on its first reconstruction projects in Iraq since the overthrowing of the previous regime, the head of the bank's Iraq program declared on Monday. Faris Hadad-Zervos said that the projects would improve infrastructure within Iraq, helping to provide water and sanitation and to rehabilitate schools: “The bank's interim reconstruction program for Iraq estimates projects for Iraq, which also include labor-intensive irrigation schemes, are likely to cost between $400 and $600 million. The World Bank officially recognized the new Iraqi government on 29 June, the day after it was sworn in, opening the way for money to be loaned to the country.”
Other governments, too, are providing reconstruction assistance to Iraq. Over three years starting in 2005, Japan is expected to contribute some $3.5 billion in loans and $1.5 billion in direct grants towards modernization of energy and water infrastructure, as well as the health system. The Japanese government is also planning to provide some practical training assistance for Iraqi professionals. In September, about 40 Iraqi health workers and between 20 and 30 diplomats will come to Japan to learn and update their skills. Japan will also pay Egypt to conduct September and November training programs for 375 Iraqi doctors and medical workers and 75 Iraqi electrical engineers.
That’s just a small portion of a very long list of good news in Iraq. Give it a read.
And, oh by the way, Shiite radical Moqtada Sadr is ordering his men to stand down so that he can fight in another way – by becoming part of Iraq’s political process and a candidate for the new government. That made page 16 of the Washington Post. Had Sadr said he was going to fight until American blood ran like a river he could have made page one, no doubt.
Regarding the French journalists held hostage in Iraq it is my sincerest hope that they not be harmed and allowed to exit captivity. French President Jacque Chirac insists that his government will not reverse the ban on headscarves and other religious symbols from public places, such as schools.
But please allow me an opportunity to hand Jacque Chirac and the cheese-eating-surrender-monkeys a hot, steaming plate of crow. For if there’s one thing we should all know by now it is that no nation is safe from the whimsical hatred of the Islamic radical, no matter how much a nation attempts to communicate with, coddle or console them. Yet, for some reason France seemed to think that they could avoid this war. They really thought that it was the actions of America alone, as opposed to basic concepts of liberty and freedom, which drives Islamic terrorism.
Personally, I think the French decision to ban religious symbols from public facilities is secularism run amok. One need not engage in such overkill to be considered a secular government. It’s pure socialism, instigated by the global Left, and is just a few steps shy of the former Soviet Empire’s war against religion.
Having said that, France has learned that Islamic radicals will threaten and use violent force to try and coerce any government’s policies into something they, not a nation’s people or its representatives, desire – France included. Most of all France has learned the answer to “why they hate us” has little to do with foreign policy and everything to do with Western separation of mosque and state. No matter if France's decision was overkill - yet its still their decision to make, not a bunch of Islamic radicals.
So, Mr. Chiraq, do yourself a favor and divorce yourself from that smug, high-horse thought process. This isn't an American problem. It's a global one.
Every day the Kerry group is caught spinning a different version of Kerry’s Vietnam exploits:
In a eulogy entered into the Congressional Record six years ago, John Kerry gave a conflicting version of the now-famous incident during the Vietnam War in which he rescued Special Forces officer Jim Rassman.
Rassman, a former Green Beret, wrote recently in a Wall Street Journal editorial posted on the Kerry campaign website that he was blown off of Kerry's swiftboat, PCF-94, by a mine blast on March 13, 1969.
But in a eulogy for crew member Thomas Belodeau, which Kerry entered into the Congressional Record in 1998 [pdf file], the senator said Rassman fell overboard when the swiftboat made an abrupt turn on the Bay Hap River, not as a result of the mine blast.
Oh, well. Little things, little things. Had this discrepancy been the exception rather than the rule it wouldn’t matter at all. But it’s just the umpteenth conflicting version of one of Kerry’s experiences.
Can you imagine the uproar had the networks nixed all coverage of the opening night of the Democratic National Convention? There was none, because they at least covered it some. And it's not by accident that the networks are avoiding the coverage considering the convention will feature speeches by John McCain and Rudy Giuliani, both popular among the undecided.
As a Democratic commissioner on the Federal Communications Commission, I may not agree with many positions taken by speakers this week at the Republican National Convention. Even so, I believe our broadcast media owe us more coverage of an event that remains an important component of the presidential campaign. Yet tonight, if people around the country tune in to the commercial broadcast TV networks, most will not see any live convention coverage. That's not right.
Let's remember that American citizens own the public airwaves, not TV executives. We give broadcasters the right to use these airwaves for free in exchange for their agreement to broadcast in the public interest. They earn huge profits using this public resource. During this campaign season broadcasters will receive nearly $1.5 billion from political advertising.
What do we get in return for granting TV stations free use of our airwaves? Unfortunately, when it comes to coverage of issues important to our nation, the answer is less and less.
-- Michael Copps, FCC Commissioner
“You cannot show weakness in this world today because the enemy will exploit that weakness. It will embolden them and make the world a more dangerous place.”
– George W. Bush to NBC’s Today Show.
Speaking of weakness, the Kerry campaign, highlighted by vice presidential candidate John Edwards, released details of its plan to keep Iran from going nuclear by, um, allowing them to go nuclear: Edwards said Iran would be allowed to keep its nuclear power plants in exchange “for giving up the right to retain the nuclear fuel that could be used for bomb-making,” according to the Washington Post.
Note that careful language: “in exchange for giving up the right” as opposed to in exchange for actually giving up the fuel. Big difference.
What a worthless bargain!
Anyone can give up the “right” for something without ever having to actually give up that thing. This is the kind of double speak we expect from a seasoned trial lawyer.
Worse, it’s been tried and failed before with North Korea – under a Jimmy Carter/Bill Clinton plan in 1993 the North Koreans were promised light-water nuclear reactors (that could have been adapted for military applications once built) in return for giving up its rights to retain nuclear fuel. UN inspectors and such usual nonsense, whereby a dictatorship that can’t be trusted to give rights to its people let alone abide by a paper treaty, were announced, lots of hand shakes ensued and the former president was lauded for a wonderful bargain. Eight years later it was learned that North Korea was cheating the entire time even as it accepted concessions from Clinton.
And, as with most Democratic treaties, the teeth of the agreement, or the consequences for not abiding by the treaty, are both vague and nonthreatening.
Edwards said that if Iran failed to take what he called a "great bargain," it would essentially confirm that it is building nuclear weapons under the cover of a supposedly peaceful nuclear power initiative. He said that, if elected, Kerry would ensure that European allies were prepared to join the United States in levying heavy sanctions if Iran rejected the proposal. "If we are engaging with Iranians in an effort to reach this great bargain and if in fact this is a bluff that they are trying to develop nuclear weapons capability, then we know that our European friends will stand with us," Edwards said.
Sanctions! Europeans! Oh my! Yeah, I’m sure Iran is quaking in its boots.
Edwards's notion of proposing such a bargain with Iran, combined with Kerry's statement in December that he was prepared to explore "areas of mutual interest" with Iran, suggests that Kerry would take a sharply different approach with Iran than has President Bush.
“Areas of mutual interest”? You mean like selling out Israel? I must say why any Jewish-American would vote for this Democratic ticket is a mystery to me.
Iran isn’t a power with which a country coddles and politics. Iran is the foremost terror sponsor in the world today. Its Hezbollah terror group mingles with al Qaeda. It is the primary reason there will never be a solution to Israel-Palestine. It funds hundreds of millions of dollars annually to Islamic radical groups that while for now are more focused on Israel than anyone else still shares the same Islamic extreme goal of those groups targeting the US and its allies. It’s a human rights nightmare that murders journalists who dare photograph any pro-democracy demonstrations. Now it’s trying to attain nukes for its equally ambitious missile program, and the Kerry campaign has the audacity to say Bush is failing while Kerry promotes a vague and unenforceable alternative.
The Post adds that in December John Kerry criticized Bush for failing to "conduct a realistic, nonconfrontational policy with Iran."
And, alas, the flaw of liberalism is once again exposed: For Democrats, “nonconfrontation” is the goal, as opposed to preventing Iran from going nuclear. Well, as long as Iran (or North Korea for that matter) knows that an American president is not prepared to use confrontation they have no incentive to cooperate. Confrontation may be a last resort, but it at least needs to be a resort – that’s realism. Iran knows a Kerry presidency will be toothless. They’re licking their chops.
[Wa. Post] The FBI is investigating whether Lawrence A. Franklin, a career analyst at the Defense Intelligence Agency who specializes in Iran, gave classified information to two lobbyists for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, known as AIPAC, according to sources. U.S. officials said the information, which included the draft of a presidential directive on U.S. policies toward Iran, was then given to Israeli officials. AIPAC has denied any wrongdoing and said its employees were cooperating with the inquiry.
Newsweek magazine reported on its Web site Sunday that FBI agents had monitored a conversation between an Israeli Embassy official and an AIPAC lobbyist at lunch nearly 18 months ago. Another American, later identified as Franklin, "walked in" during the session, according to the report. At the time the FBI was looking into possible Israeli espionage, Newsweek said.
Michael Oren, an Israeli historian, said Israel would have very little to gain by spying on the United States "because the relationship is so open and giving." ... Equally damaging could be the perception that Israeli and American Jews are wielding disproportionate influence on U.S. foreign policy, said Oren, the historian. There's a convention going on in New York," he said, referring to the Republican National Convention, "and the canard has been out there for a long time that Israel and Israel's supporters and the neo-conservatives in the Defense Department have manipulated U.S. foreign policy, especially on Iraq, to serve Israeli purposes, and this would tend to substantiate that canard."
This strikes me as quasi-anti-Semitic: charging that Jews are controlling the US government without actually saying it. It’s become a staple of many who are critical of US foreign policy since 9-11. Indeed, many prominent writers even peddle the allegation that Israel was directly responsible for 9-11.
Spies spy. That’s what they do. And allies spy on allies and adversaries alike. You can be the US has spies within Israel. Perhaps with the exceptions of the UK and Australia – whom intelligence is coordinated with in programs such as the NSA’s Echelon – the US tries to gather intelligence (spy) on every major country.
Oren has more of a point that Israel and the US share the same goal of a nuclear free Iran, but one can wager that Israel is viewing the anemic reaction of Europe and the possibility of a John Kerry presidency as proof that they and they alone may be the only one to stop Iran from going nuclear, assuming it isn’t too late already, which it may well be. Any Iranian nuclear armaments will be aimed at Israel, and they know it.
In any event if it proves true the government will have no choice but to charge Franklin and export any Israeli agents, just as they would do for any other country.
[Haaretz Daily] The warhead of the Iranian Shihab-3 missile has been considerably upgraded, according to photographs published in Iranian newspapers of test launches three weeks ago. It is believed that the improvements will permit slower entry into the atmosphere so the warhead, which may be chemical in nature, will be more durable and its contents will be better protected. It is also believed that the missile's range has been extended.
It is also likely that the Iranian effort is not limited to the Shihab-3, which has a range of about 1,300 kilometers, but also to the Shihab-4, planned with a range of 2,000 kilometers or more. At present the Shihab-3 can already come within range of Turkey, which is a member of NATO, as well as most Saudi cities and oil fields. On the last test of the Shihab-3 on August 11, the missile did not pass the maximum trajectory that had been determined for it.
The Iranians gave the experimental launch extensive media coverage, stressing that the test was a response to an Israeli experimental launch of the Arrow missile, which intercepted a Scud missile in the U.S. at the end of July.
Iran is preparing for something...
Iraqi interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi is a brave guy for going into the lion’s den and meeting with representatives of various undisclosed insurgent groups of Fallujah, Ramadi and Samarra. I must admit I worry greatly that one of them might use just such an opportunity to assassinate Allawi, a man who is one of the brightest points of the transfer of power to Iraq.
Allawi expressed some frustration that his logical arguments were lost on the insurgents. He couldn’t understand why they fight when, once pressed, they say that chaos is not their goal. But logic and Islamic extremism do not go hand in hand.
Allawi is pressing for the insurgents to accept an amnesty agreement, and believes that he is making progress, but vocally and repetitively stresses that the alternative will be an Iraqi and coalition effort to wipe them out. Allawi thus deals while simultaneously keeping force on the table and, indeed, exercised – the Kerry campaign could learn a thing or two from this.
The nihilistic nature of the oil sabotage appeared to baffle Allawi. "They don't have any reason for this," he said with a sigh. Unlike the insurgents, the prime minister does not view the 150,000 U.S. troops in Iraq as occupiers, but as the invited guests of his government. He said he found it difficult to comprehend what the insurgents wanted to achieve.
"They are not knowing how to express themselves but through violence and through violent behavior," he said. "We are trying to talk to them face-to-face and assure them that we are not here as Saddam [Hussein] to stay in power. There is a mandate for a short time. We are trying to get the country back on its feet, on the road to recovery."
In the latest attempt to get his message across to his enemies, Allawi said he met on Saturday with a delegation of 11 senior representatives from Samarra, a city about 65 miles north of Baghdad that has been roiled by insurgent attacks.
He said he posed "a really simple question" to the men from Samarra. "Tell us what you want, tell us exactly," he said he told the group. "If you need money, wait and you will have your jobs and start earning your money. The economic cycle will start. If you want to be rulers of this country, wait for the elections. . . . If you want to get the Americans out, fine. Do so, but have the consensus of the people in a proper way, not by forcing them."
Allawi did not identify the people with whom he met. He described them as not "the hard-core criminals" but as "people on the fringes who are disillusioned."
He insisted the meetings were not negotiations but opportunities for him to make a pitch to skeptics. "I am meeting them and telling them there is one thing to do: It is the respect of law, the rule of law," he said. "If you want to use violence, we will face you violently and suppress you -- and we will bring you to justice."
Even if he has not been able to persuade insurgents to switch sides, Allawi said he believed he had made headway. In his meeting with the group from Samarra, "I said to them, and to [delegations from] Ramadi and Fallujah, 'Okay, for the sake of argument, let me assume that the multinational forces will leave. What do you think will happen?' You know what they answered? I swear to God, they said: 'Catastrophe. Iraq will be dismembered.' "
He paused for moment and then offered a bit of analysis. "When you squeeze them, then you put them to the corner," he said, "these are the answers."
The good news for John Kerry is that the Republican National Convention begins today and may actually help him by taking media time away from Kerry’s contradictory war record. The controversy was only heightened over the weekend by two high-level military figures. First, former Navy Secretary John Lehman told the Chicago Sun-Times that he never signed John Kerry’s Silver Star citation.
"It is a total mystery to me. I never saw it. I never signed it. I never approved it. And the additional language it contains was not written by me," he said. The additional language varied from the two previous citations, signed first by Adm. Elmo Zumwalt and then Adm. John Hyland, which themselves differ.
The new material added in the Lehman citation reads in part: "By his brave actions, bold initiative, and unwavering devotion to duty, Lieutenant (jg) Kerry reflected great credit upon himself...."
Asked how the citation could have been executed over his signature without his knowledge, Lehman said: "I have no idea. I can only imagine they were signed by an autopen." The autopen is a device often used in the routine execution of executive documents in government.
This one was fishy from the start as Lehman was secretary of the navy from 1981 to 1987, 14 years after the Kerry was to have earned the medal.
Next, Retired Rear Adm. William L. Schachte Jr. told columnist Bob Novak that he was absolutely on the swift boat the day of the event Kerry used to get his first purple heart. Schachte says that Kerry should never have received that Purple Heart because it was (unintentionally) self-inflicted. Kerry’s defenders have claimed that Schachte was not aboard Kerry’s boat that day in question. Schachte goes on record to clarify.
"Kerry nicked himself with a M-79 [grenade launcher]," Schachte said in a telephone interview from his home in Charleston, S.C. He said, "Kerry requested a Purple Heart."
... Schachte described the use of the skimmer operating very close to shore as a technique that he personally designed to flush out enemy forces so that the larger swift boats could move in. Around 3 a.m. on Dec. 2, Schachte said, the skimmer -- code-named "Batman" -- fired a hand-held flare. He said that after Kerry's M-16 rifle jammed, the new officer picked up the M-79 and, "I heard a 'thunk.' There was no fire from the enemy," he said.
Patrick Runyon and William Zaladonis are the two enlisted men who said they were aboard the skimmer and did not know Schachte. However, two other former officers interviewed Thursday confirmed that Schachte was the originator of the technique and always was aboard the Boston whaler for these missions.
Grant Hibbard, who as a lieutenant commander was Schachte's superior officer, confirmed that Schachte always went on these skimmer missions and said, "I don't think he [Kerry] was alone" on his first assignment. Hibbard said he had told Kerry to "forget it" when he asked for a Purple Heart.
Ted Peck, another swift boat commander, said, "I remember Bill [Schachte] telling me it didn't happen" -- that is, Kerry getting an enemy-inflicted wound. He said it would be "impossible" for Kerry to have been in the skimmer without Schachte.
"I was astonished by Kerry's version" [in his book Tour of Duty] of what happened Dec. 2, Schachte said Thursday. When asked to support the Kerry critics in the swift boat controversy, Schachte said, "I didn't want to get involved." But he said he gradually began to change his mind when he saw his own involvement and credibility challenged, starting with Davis on CNN's "Crossfire" on Aug. 12.
Speaking of Novak, the New York Times tries a “gotcha” on him today because he failed to disclose that his son, Alex Novak, is the director of marketing for Regnery, the company publishing the book Unfit for Command. Even though it’s not that relevant Novak would have helped himself by mentioning it earlier. But this is nothing compared to the previous nondisclosure by Boston Globe reporter Mike Kranish, who writes articles critical of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth – including falsely representing one of its members – even though Kranish happens to be an author of a pro-Kerry book. This, naturally, warranted no questioning articles by the Times.
According to a “top secret” Canadian Security Intelligence Service report Abderraouf Jdey, aka Farouk the Tunisian, used a shoe bomb - similar to the one unsuccessfully attempted by Richard Reid - to down American Airlines Flight 587 on Nov. 12, 2001. Jdey has been wanted and believed at large since 2002, but if this Canadian source is to be believed Jdey martyred himself during the alleged terrorist attack. The US government has long denied charges that FLT 587 was terrorist related.
"We have seen no evidence of anything other than an accident here," said Ted Lopatkiewicz, spokesman for the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board. "There has been no evidence found, from what I can tell -- at least that's been relayed to us -- that there was any criminality involved here. It appears, at least the evidence we have, is that a vertical fin came off, not that there was any kind of event in the cabin."
He recorded a "martyrdom" video, but was dropped from the 9/11 mission after returning to Canada in the summer of 2001. The planner of the World Trade Center attack, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, claims Jdey was recruited for a "second wave" of suicide attacks.
The information on Jdey's alleged role in the plane crash is contained in a memo on captured Canadian al-Qaeda operative Mohammed Mansour Jabarah. The Canadian government memo was written in May, 2002, and was based on information provided by a "source of unknown reliability."
The report contains little evidence other than second-hand disclosure by al Qaeda captives, and could just be false boasting. However, it makes one wonder. In fact, the parallels to the 1996 crash of FLT 800 – in which terrorism was also alleged but vigorously denied by the government – are striking.
Many witnesses on the ground insist that two explosions were visible before FLT 587 lost its tail fin over Jamaica Bay, NY, including a FDNY deputy chief and a former firefighter. The NTSB eventually ruled that a rudder failure, followed by a rapid flopping that caused the craft to lose its engines, was the cause of the crash.
Maybe so, however the NTSB downplayed its own data which found that of “349 accounts from eyewitnesses” “52% specifically reported seeing a fire while the plane was in the air” (181 people) and “8% specifically reported seeing an explosion” (28 people). Anyway, we’ll never know for sure at this point, but the NTSB is going to be inclined to downplay a terrorist event (especially one so close to 9-11) that would have crippled the airline industry.
This is all reminiscent of FLT 800 in 1986 in which large numbers of witness claimed to have seen a projectile streaking towards the plane. Due to the large number of witnesses in that crash the NTSB eventually turned to the CIA for more expert analysis. The CIA concluded with a rather unbelievable theory that the witnesses had been subjected to an optical illusion in which falling flaming debris appeared to be rising towards the craft.
[The Hill] Al-Jazeera, the Arabic-language news network, is enjoying a kinder, gentler welcome from Republican convention organizers than it received from Democrats a month ago, despite its having been criticized repeatedly by the Bush administration. Convention planners have helped the Qatar-based channel contact delegates and administration officials to appear on its shows and have allowed the network to fly its logo banner in the convention hall. The warm reception stands in contrast to Al-Jazeera’s experience at the Democratic convention, where organizers removed the network’s banner without notice, canceled an appearance and offered little help finding guests.
As much as everyone hates al Jazeera its smarter politics, both for Republicans and for Americans in general, to not boycott the network. Here’s why: nature abhors a vacuum.
Like it or not, al Jazeera is the premier news channel in the Muslim-Arabic world. If United States and other Western representatives don’t appear on the network they’re going to slime us regardless. At least if we make an appearance we’re going to get an opportunity to speak our mind. The only caveat I’d add is that the US agree only to live interviews where they cannot parse or edit our words.
[The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams] surprised some at the three-day Greenbelt festival in Cheltenham, Glos, by declaring that Muslims can go to heaven. Dr Williams said that neither he nor any Christian could control access to heaven. "It is possible for God's spirit to cross boundaries," he said.
Well, something tells me that the Muslim population, especially the more extreme variety, really don’t give a Canterbury’s butt if they can go to heaven or not. I mean, why would they pass up 72 virgins in paradise?
What may have begun in 1992 as a nonpartisan effort to get American youths more involved in politics has become nothing short of an MTV effort to get John Kerry elected in 2004. Funny thing is, perhaps our youth isn’t as liberal as the rock-and-rap establishment had hoped (or I suppose it could mean that Kerry isn't liberal enough for the crowd):
MTV, ROLLING STONE and the rock and roll establishment -- past and present -- have cast their vote, and their man is John Kerry. So on Sunday night when John Kerry's daughters were announced to speak at the annual MTV VIDEO MUSIC AWARDS, the MTV youth were expected to welcome his daughter's as pop culture princesses.
Instead, in an era of the unexpected, the daughters of the Democratic candidate were met with cheers -- AND JEERS -- during the live broadcast in Miami. From the moment Alexandra and Vanessa started speaking, the boos outweighed anything close to cheers, and the reaction turned worse when the daughters asked the VIACOM youth to vote for their father.
So shocked by the reaction, the taller of the two daughters tried to 'shhhhhh' her peers to no avail.
Gee, again, another case where liberals are all for free speech unless that free speech opposes a Democrat. Serves them all right for turning an awards show into a biased political circus.
[Note: this post was going to go later, but I moved it to the front] Like Kerry, President Bush has a few critical weaknesses. First and foremost is this telling statement by a veteran backing John Kerry.
"I don't like what Bush is doing in Iraq," [retired master sergeant who earned a Bronze Star in Vietnam Miguel] Boschulte said, bringing up a topic that resonated with many area veterans interviewed this week. "The way they're getting killed over there is senseless. There's no end to it. They're getting killed every day for nothing."
This is untrue, and we naturally have no way of knowing if this is what Mr. Boschulte really feels about the war in Iraq. But, Bush has done a poor job at promoting why Mr. Boschulte’s view is so ignorant. The war in Iraq is far from senseless, and our soldiers are not dying for nothing.
Indeed, the war in Iraq represents the best chance to promote more Western values of democracy, representation, liberty, freedom and capitalism in a region that has a monopoly on despotism, oppression, religious zealotry and terrorism.
Because the administration, with no help of course from his opponents or media critics, spent so much time on weapons of mass destruction it failed to promote the central argument for the war – changing the culture of a backwards region.
Going to war in Iraq is fundamental to the war on terrorism. Forget what you believe or don’t believe about Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda and links to Saddam Hussein – that is all tinsel on the tree, nothing more. In the end the more relevant thing is what terrorism is, and why it prospers in the Arabic-Muslim region.
With some unique exceptions – FARC in Columbia, Basque separatists – today’s modern terrorism is Islamic fundamentalism in action. That is, Islamic extremism is the theory, while terrorism is the vehicle to promote it.
To end terrorism as such an effective global threat, then, one must ultimately combat Islamic fundamentalism itself – this, in fact, is the most important point made in the 9-11 Commission report.
Islamic extremism prospers because it is the only political, social and economic alternative and expression to the region's despotism. To have a voice in this region a person must either back the local dictatorship (or even royal family in dictator clothing) or they can back the Islamic fundamentalists. It is either/or.
Over time the region’s despots learned that the best way to suppress the internal fundamentalist threat was to first give them a little power then attempt to shift their attention from domestic issues towards external issues - Israel and the United States.
At first this wasn't a problem for the United States. Over the last decade it was thought we could just raise our defensive posture and perhaps find a way to negotiate with fundamentalists (one is reminded of all the references of State Dept. officials who were always seeking the "moderates" in the Taliban, for example). On 9-11 we learned our oceanic borders and previous way of thought could no longer protect us.
The fundamentalists oppose us for who we are, not what we do. As a mentor of Osama bin Laden, Yussuf al-Ayyeri, once put it, "secularist democracy" is "seductive," and will "make Muslims love this world, forget the next world, and abandon Jihad." The fundamentalists understand the danger in a working, liberally democratic Iraq spreading to the rest of the region.
This does not mean we must war, one after the other, with the regions despots. Even US Sec. of Defense Donald Rumsfeld points out that we must have more than just a military strategy because the mosques pump out the hate-filled youths faster than we can kill or capture them. Still, it shows why success or failure in Iraq is critical to the war on terror. Should we succeed the working model in Iraq could spread, and the fundamentalists will no longer have the monopoly on thought in the region.
This is the war we are in. It will be a long one. I pray that our leaders in the future become better at explaining it.
Vietnam veterans remember Kerry for what he did after the war, not for who is trying to become now. Nowhere is this more evident than in a fascinating few paragraphs from the below article concerning John McCain:
McCain also said he drew a distinction between the first anti-Kerry ad by the veterans group, which focused on Kerry's Vietnam service, and a second ad now airing that criticizes Kerry for his leadership in the antiwar movement after he returned from Vietnam. McCain condemned the first ad but not the second.
Speaking with emotion, McCain said he is pained that the attacks on Kerry's Vietnam record are "ripping up all the old wounds" from three decades ago that he said he worked for years to heal. He said neither Kerry nor Bush should have their service records challenged.
"I believe President Bush served honorably in the National Guard. I believe Senator Kerry served honorably," he said. "Let's worry about the war that's going on in Iraq. Probably some American is dying today in Iraq. I'd like us to focus our attention on the war at hand and how we can win it, rather than revisiting the one that was over 30 years ago."
Asked whether he is equally passionate in wanting to put Kerry's antiwar activities off-limits, he said, "I think his activities after the war open, and are subject to, any debate and discussion that they want to, but I still say that it has the effect of reopening these wounds. Everybody is accountable for what they do, and certainly John Kerry is accountable for what he did after the war, and people can make a judgment."
Both the Kerry campaign and the mainstream media attempt to use John McCain as a quiet, or subtle, supporter for Kerry. Kerry used McCain in a commercial – the one McCain asked him to halt. The media loves to throw out the “But Senator McCain said…” at every opportunity to oppose Bush. At very least they like to portray him as a more neutral figure in politics to the extent that even though he’s Republican neither side has a monopoly on McCain.
Now I don’t buy McCain’s argument that the Vietnam attacks, on either side, are “ripping up all the old wounds.” This is who they are and everything should be a valid topic. I do agree that the war in Iraq and the war on terror are far more important than one 30 years ago.
But these statements by McCain are telling. First, it should be obvious to all that McCain feels that Kerry’s statements were harmful both to the Vietnam War effort and harmful to the American POWs during the war. This is consistent then with a younger John McCain’s views from a 1973 interview that “This [the statements of antiwar groups] was the most effective propaganda they [North Vietnam] had to use against us - speeches and statements by men who were generally respected in the United States.” (By the way, read the interview if you never have). But McCain’s refusal to back Kerry’s antiwar activities is a clear shot at the Kerry campaign. It’s McCain’s way of saying Kerry made his bed and now he must lay in it.
It’s not surprising then to further learn that recent polling show that veterans trust Bush more than Kerry as a commander in chief, 56 percent to 38 percent. While Kerry is doing better among veterans than Democrats have done historically the contrast is still stark. The Kerry backers will no doubt argue that the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth are responsible for this, but I believe that viewpoint underestimates how many veterans think John Kerry betrayed them and how many are further insulted by Kerry’s attempts to use them now for a convenient election tool.
A curiosity: the poll, by the way, was conducted by the University of Pennsylvania's National Annenberg Election Survey and directed by Adam Clymer, the former NY Times reporter whom Bush, caught off-camera, once called a “major league asshole.” That one always makes me grin.
The Kerry campaign has repeatedly stated that the official naval records prove the truth of Kerry's assertions about his service. But the official records on Kerry's Web site only add to the confusion. The DD214 form, an official Defense Department document summarizing Kerry's military career posted on johnkerry.com, includes a "Silver Star with combat V." But according to a U.S. Navy spokesman, "Kerry's record is incorrect. The Navy has never issued a 'combat V' to anyone for a Silver Star." Naval regulations do not allow for the use of a "combat V" for the Silver Star, the third-highest decoration the Navy awards. None of the other services has ever granted a Silver Star "combat V," either.
Kerry's Web site also lists two different citations for the Silver Star. One was issued by the commander in chief of the Pacific Command (CINCPAC), Adm. John Hyland. The other, issued by Secretary of the Navy John Lehman during the Reagan administration, contained some revisions and additional language. "By his brave actions, bold initiative, and unwavering devotion to duty, Lieutenant (j.g.) Kerry reflected great credit upon himself... ."
But a third citation exists that appears to be the earliest. And it is not on the Kerry campaign Web site. It was issued by Vice Adm. Elmo Zumwalt, commander of U.S. naval forces in Vietnam. This citation lacks the language in the Hyland citation or that added by the Lehman version, but includes another 170 words in a detailed description of Kerry's attack on a Viet Cong ambush, his killing of an enemy soldier carrying a loaded rocket launcher, as well as military equipment captured and a body count of dead enemy.
Maj. Anthony Milavic, a retired Marine Vietnam veteran, calls the issuance of three citations for the same medal "bizarre." Milavic hosts Milinet, an Internet forum popular with the military community that is intended "to provide a forum in military/political affairs."
Reporting by the Washington Post's Michael Dobbs points out that although the Kerry campaign insists that it has released Kerry's full military records, the Post was only able to get six pages of records under its Freedom of Information Act request out of the "at least a hundred pages" a Naval Personnel Office spokesman called the "full file."
What could that more than 100 pages contain? Questions have been raised about President Bush's drill attendance in the reserves, but Bush received his honorable discharge on schedule. Kerry, who should have been discharged from the Navy about the same time -- July 1, 1972 -- wasn't given the discharge he has on his campaign Web site until July 13, 1978. What delayed the discharge for six years? This raises serious questions about Kerry's performance while in the reserves that are far more potentially damaging than those raised against Bush.
-- Tom Lipscomb.
[Wa. Post] President Bush and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) joined forces yesterday to seek legal action to reduce the influence of "527" political organizations, but the two remained in disagreement over whether Bush should condemn a television ad by the group Swift Boat Veterans for Truth attacking John F. Kerry's Vietnam service.
McCain said he secured Bush's commitment to support legislation to regulate the groups. The organizations have used a loophole in the new campaign finance law -- of which McCain was one of the two principal architects -- to become significant and controversial actors in the campaign on behalf of both the president and the senator from Massachusetts.
What is it with politicians – most politicians, anyway – that they arrogantly feel that by passing some laws they can take money out of politics? George Will wrote it best last year by explaining that money in politics is water running downhill – try to dam it and it will simply carve a new path. But once again the two parties are going to act in unison in a manner that will further “reform” our political campaigning system that will, oh by the way, counter all constitutional values. Whether or not a person likes what MoveOn.org or the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth have to say isn’t the point. The point is that they have a right to say what they want, and should have the right to raise money from like minded individuals to fund that expression.
Bush, Kerry, McCain, and so on are all bothered in one way or another – depending upon the group attacking them – by the activities of these 527s. Sure, Democrats right now are less likely to condemn them because the liberal 527s have been so successful. But as the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth have shown it’s only a matter of time before the Republican 527s catch up and Democrats lose that advantage. This will, naturally, adjust their thought. All of this talk of closing loopholes is directly due to McCain’s efforts to close the loopholes of Watergate-era “reform.” And then one day in the future some other politician will craft another wonder piece of legislation to “reform” loopholes in McCain’s legislation. And so on and so forth.
But is it really the end of the world if this soft money is in politics? People talk about dirty campaigns, and this one is certainly ugly, but I’d rather have no limits on views and information and decide for myself what is legitimate and what is bunk rather then have a bunch of politicians, in an effort to protect themselves, not me, decide these things.
Historically this campaign season is no worse than others in our past. Thomas Jefferson called John Adams and the Federalists a bunch of Anglophiles (for their support of Britain) while Adams countered Jefferson was a England-bashing French lover. John Adams called Andrew Jackson’s wife a whore and painted Jackson as a murderer, slave trader, and swearing cockfighter. Jackson responded was nothing but a monarchist pimp for the Czar of Russia. Talk about ugly.
We formed Swift Boat Veterans For Truth for one purpose: to present to the American public our conclusion that John Kerry is not fit to be commander in chief. We are organized as a "527 group" with Adm. Roy Hoffmann at the helm, our leader today as he was some 35 years ago when we served under him in Coastal Squadron One in Vietnam. Our membership is transparent and shown on our Web site, www.swiftvets.com, currently including more than 250 Swiftees. We have 17 of the 23 officers who served with Mr. Kerry, most of his chain of command, and most sailors. We have more than 60 winners of real Purple Hearts. No one has a better right than we do to speak to the matters involving our unit.
Are we controlled by the Bush-Cheney campaign? Absolutely not. The Swift boat veterans who joined our group come in all political flavors: independents, Republicans, Democrats and other more subtle variations. Had another person been the presidential candidate of the Democrats, our group never would have formed. Had Mr. Kerry been the Republican candidate, each of us would still be here.
We have faced assaults on our character, motives, personal backgrounds and honesty. We are told that Mr. Kerry's camp has prepared attack dossiers on the members of our organization. I have been charged with being a Republican shill. But for more than 30 years, I have been non-political, and have voted for as many Democrats as Republicans. In truth, I consider myself a political independent, regardless of how John Kerry and his supporters try to characterize me.
How many different ways will John Kerry devise to ask President Bush to condemn our ads and squash our book? Why, Mr. Kerry, are our charges as a 527 group unacceptable to you, while the pronouncements from 527 groups favorable to you are considered acceptable, regardless of stridency and veracity? And we do not have a George Soros, willing to drop millions into our modest group. We control our message. To date, we have received $2 million from 30,000 Americans who have donated an average of around $64.
-- John O’Neill, Vietnam veteran and author of Unfit for Command, in today’s WSJ. Read the rest.
Some pundits don’t like to speculate because it’s such a gamble – they could be wrong and look stupid. Well, so what? Why bother going to the casino if you’re not going to gamble? What’s the fun in that? Anyway, I read this article and a thought sprouted.
WASHINGTON, Aug. 26 - President Bush is preparing to issue an executive order that would immediately grant more power to the director of central intelligence, designating him to fill much of the role envisioned for a future national intelligence director, according to senior government officials who have been briefed on the plan. The order, to be issued as soon as this weekend before the Republican National Convention, would be cast as an interim measure intended as a first step toward putting into effect recommendations of the Sept. 11 commission. The commission's call for a new, more powerful national intelligence chief would require Congressional legislation.
With a broad consensus emerging in support of creating such an intelligence position, the White House is expected to continue to ask Congress to approve the post, the government officials said. But the question of how much authority should be given to a new intelligence chief remains the subject of sharp debate between members of the Sept. 11 commission, legislators and the White House, and it is unclear whether it will be resolved before the presidential election.
The interim action by the White House would strengthen the hand of the current director of central intelligence, who heads the Central Intelligence Agency and has nominal authority over all other intelligence agencies but whose actual powers beyond the C.I.A. have been limited. The government officials who have been briefed on the document said they understood that it would effectively create as powerful a national intelligence chief as permissible under current law.
I’m not convinced that a national intelligence director would cure our woes because so much of our intelligence fiascos are related to culture and personality rather than organizational charts or structure. That’s not to say I oppose it. I just don’t know yet. But it seems to me that Bush is going to lose the current battle he’s in now – that is, his decision to accept the post but limit its authority. Certainly the Bush team knows this too. After all, if we’re going to bother creating the post we should give the post full authority. I’d rather the Bush team fully enact it, or oppose it with an alternative.
Having said this I’m reminded that Bush wants to put Porter Goss in charge of the CIA, a battle he’s expected to win since Democrats acknowledge that it would be difficult to oppose the nomination since the CIA has been without a formal leader for two months too long already. So, when I read that this CIA director would, under Bush’s executive order, gain many of the powers proposed for the national intelligence director I wonder if there is a method to the madness. Might Bush be first appointing Goss, then giving him defacto NID powers, so that he can eventually attempt to promote Goss to the NID spot arguing that Goss is already doing the job?
Just a thought.
In 1987, a separate law established such a place -- in the distant desert, 1,000 feet inside Yucca Mountain, adjacent to the Nevada Test Site. Yucca is on federal land, surrounded on three sides by an Air Force base. You couldn't dream of a better venue. But it's not surprising that in Las Vegas and elsewhere in the state, the law designating Yucca is called the Screw Nevada Act. Among the Senators who voted for it -- responsibly, in my view -- was John Kerry.
The attacks of 9/11, in particular, lit a fire under policymakers, and, at long last, in February 2002, Energy Secretary Spence Abraham formally recommended that President Bush adopt Yucca Mountain as "the nation's first long-term geological repository for high-level radioactive waste." Bush agreed, and so did Congress -- but not, this time, Sen. Kerry.
In this case, the main fact that changed was that John Kerry was no longer merely a junior senator from Massachusetts but a serious candidate for president. Nevada, which Bush carried in 2000 with just 51.9 percent of the vote, is in play. As a result, it is no exaggeration to say that Yucca Mountain could be ground zero on Nov. 2, 2004.
Earlier this month, both presidential candidates were in Nevada. According to the Ely Times, Kerry said he would "do everything possible to halt the Yucca Mountain project." According to the Las Vegas Sun, Bush said that he backed Yucca because of "sound science" and pointed out that Kerry "says he is strongly against Yucca here in Nevada, but he voted for it several times. And so did his running mate."
Bush added, "My point to you is that if they're going to change, one day they may change again…. I think you need somebody who is going to do what he says he's going to do."
That, in brief, is how Bush is trying to define himself against Kerry: "I say something, and I do it. He says something and changes his mind." Resolution is nice to have in a wartime president.
Could Yucca lose Nevada for Bush? Yes, indeed. But Nevada has only five electoral votes. Let me make a suggestion: Why not focus on winning supporters in the 39 states whose radioactive wastes would be removed to Yucca? Among them are such battlegrounds as Ohio, with three nuclear-waste sites; Missouri, three sites; Pennsylvania, six sites; and Florida, four sites.
That's 79 electoral votes right there.
-- James Glassman.
MOSCOW, Aug. 27 -- Russian investigators said Friday that they found traces of explosives in the wreckage of one of the two planes that crashed almost simultaneously earlier this week, killing 89 people. It was the strongest indication yet that terrorists were behind the twin tragedies.
Ya don’t say...
I’m not sure which is more ridiculous – the fact that the Russian government was so hesitant to call a simultaneous downing of two airliners a terror attack or that last sentence of reporting.
I’m really not trying to make light of the event and loss of life but come on! Explosives in the debris... hmmm... this could be the work of terrorists.
Anyway, there’s something interesting about the passenger list that could help the US protect its fleet.
Authorities investigating the crashes were focusing on a passenger with a Chechen surname aboard the Tu-154. The woman's last name was identified by authorities as Dzhabrailova, which may be a reference to a woman listed on the passenger manifest as S. Dzhebirkhanova. Officials said she was the only passenger aboard that flight whose family has not tried to find out about her fate or retrieve her body.
"As a result of the operative and investigative activities of the FSB a list of individuals who might have been connected with the terrorist act has been identified," Nikolai Zakharov, deputy spokesman for the FSB, said in televised remarks.
An Islamic extremist group apparently affiliated with al Qaeda claimed credit for the two crashes Friday on an Internet site, claiming that it had helped hijack the planes and destroy them in retaliation for Russia's continuing war in the separatist Muslim region of Chechnya.
The authenticity of the claim could not be determined by officials. It was signed in the name of the Islambouli Brigades, which claimed in a statement that five militants were on board each of the two flights.
The statement, translated from Arabic, said that five militants were on board each of the two flights: "We in the Islambouli Brigades announce that our mujahedeen were able to hijack two Russian planes," it said. "The mujahedeen succeeded despite the problems they faced at the beginning." The statement did not explain what problems were encountered at the beginning.
It sounds like al Qaeda used a woman... and here we thought them a bunch of sexists opposed to woman’s rights. Do the women also get 72 virgins?
Anyway, we’ll learn more to come, but there’s something to be said for racial profiling. Assuming this investigative path stays true one must wonder if the woman, again assuming her responsibility in the attack, would have been fingered with better screening. Screening doesn’t alleviate all issues, of course. The fact that this group used a woman could foreshadow something to come here at home. And, just as many of the 9-11 hijackers had no prior record or terrorist connection to screen al Qaeda could, for example, further increase their odds of beating the profile by using persons of European ethnicity.
But from these suppositions one should not discount passenger profiling. Good homeland security is often about playing the odds, reducing the risk as much as possible, but as long as national governments are more concerned about political correctness the enemies of those states have no need to adjust their tactics. They don’t need to beat the profile so long as we’re hesitant to profile and make their attacks more difficult to execute. Now I have no idea if political correctness played any role in Russian screening, but I’m using it more as an example of our system.
This attack on Russia is a warning that their still exist a lot of bad people who want to do us harm. We have to continue making their job as difficult as possible if we want to avoid another 3,000 dead in the span of two hours.
Every once in a while I see a streak of Bush Sr., or that is policies too moderate for conservativism, come out of the Dubya White House. Reading that the administration is coming closer to capitulating on global warming worries me.
In a striking shift in the way the Bush administration has portrayed the science of climate change, a new report to Congress focuses on federal research indicating that emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases are the only likely explanation for global warming over the last three decades.
American and international panels of experts concluded as early as 2001 that smokestack and tailpipe discharges of heat-trapping gases were the most likely cause of recent global warming. But the White House had disputed those conclusions. The last time the administration issued a document suggesting that global warming had a human cause and posed big risks was in June 2002, in a submission to the United Nations under a climate treaty. President Bush distanced himself from it, saying it was something "put out by the bureaucracy." That may be harder to do this time. The new report, online at www.climatescience.gov, is accompanied by a letter signed by Mr. Bush's secretaries of energy and commerce and his science adviser.
This country is so successful because unlike so many others we don’t economically hamstring ourselves. There is a direct relationship between the amount of energy a nation uses compared to its wealth and health. Thus, curbing energy emissions in a feeble attempt to curb carbon dioxide output would in turn curb our wealth and health. The best and only way for the Bush administration to counter the psudo-science behind global warming and the environmentalists (so many socialists in sheep’s clothing) promoting it would be for Bush to tell them put up or shut up. Models and studies all follow the GIGO rule – garbage in, garbage out. The environmentalists can, and do, tweek any model to say what they want and use those results to try and formulate policy that will affect our lives on a daily basis.
Conservation should be able to marry economics without the United States climbing down the ladder of economic growth on par with other nations.
Meanwhile, in 100 years the planet temperature has increased a whopping .7 degrees Celsius, and is still far cooler than the Middle Ages, when King Arthur and his knights were riding around in SUVs, um, er, horses.
Worst of all, there’s every reason to believe that treaties like Kyoto, no matter how much taxpayer money our government spends and even more amounts siphoned from the natural economy by limiting its energy output, would not counter the hypothetical man-made warming. It’s the worst of insurance policies – expensive, and it probably won’t work.
The Global Stupidstorm
The Fatal Conceit of Kyoto
The Kyoto Protocol: A Post-Mortem
Dear Senator Kerry,
...[After you came home from Vietnam] You accused your fellow veterans of terrible atrocities -- and, to this day, you have never apologized. Even last night, you claimed to be proud of your post-war condemnation of our actions. We're proud of our service in Vietnam. We served honorably in Vietnam and we were deeply hurt and offended by your comments when you came home. You can't have it both ways. You can't build your convention and much of your campaign around your service in Vietnam, and then try to say that only those veterans who agree with you have a right to speak up. There is no double standard for our right to free speech. We all earned it. You said in 1992 "we do not need to divide America over who served and how." Yet you and your surrogates continue to criticize President Bush for his service as a fighter pilot in the National Guard... We urge you to condemn the double standard that you and your campaign have enforced regarding a veteran's right to openly express their feelings about your activities on return from Vietnam.
--Letter signed by eight Texas Vietnam veterans. The letter was offered to Senator Max Cleland as he and several other Democrat veterans attempted to deliver a protest letter to President Bush at the Crawford ranch. Cleland and the Democrats refused to accept the letter.
[LA Times] For the first time this year in a Times survey, Bush led Kerry in the presidential race, drawing 49% among registered voters, compared with 46% for the Democrat. In a Times poll just before the Democratic convention last month, Kerry held a 2-percentage-point advantage over Bush. 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 attacks on the senator from a group of Vietnam veterans criticizing his performance in combat and his antiwar protests at home have left some marks: Kerry suffered small but consistent erosion compared with July on questions relating to his Vietnam experience, his honesty and his fitness to serve as commander in chief.
A lot of politicking to go, but when one considers that Kerry gained no advantage from the Democratic National Convention it’s significant. Historically, a candidate receives around a 10 point jump from the convention. If Bush does get a big convention jump it could spell big trouble for Kerry. If Bush doesn’t it could mark a turning point in election politics by signifying that conventions have become useless.
Yesterday the Washington Post, our nation’s premier Beltway newspaper, unfairly applied a double standard by questioning a Bush lawyer for advising the 527 group Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, while refusing to pass judgment on Kerry lawyers who consult with MoveOn.org and other liberal 527s. Today, the Post makes up for this travesty by running a story on page one showing that no less than four Kerry campaign consultants have ties to 527s critical of George W. Bush. (And, gee, I wonder if the fact that the first article was written by Bush-basher Dana Milbank whereas the second was not has anything to do with such a turnabout on issue position in just 24 hours...?)
Although it is perfectly legal to remain as an advisor to both groups the Bush lawyer, Benjamin Ginsberg, resigned from the Bush campaign because of a misperception that he felt could become an election year distraction. Did the Kerry advisors with questionable ties respond in turn by resigning as well? Of course not. Instead they used the Ginsberg resignation as a media event to try and undermine the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. More galling, Democrats are demanding the Justice Department investigate “illegal coordination” between Bush and the swifties. Hey, that’s fine, so long as the Justice Department investigates Democrat connections likewise.
"Unfortunately, this campaign has seen a stunning double standard emerge between the media's focus on the activities of 527s aligned with John Kerry and those opposed to him," Ginsberg, a partner in the law firm Patton Boggs, wrote in a four-paragraph letter to Bush. "I cannot begin to express my sadness that my legal representations have become a distraction from the critical issues at hand in this election . . . so I have decided to resign as national counsel to your campaign to ensure that the giving of legal advice . . . doesn't distract from the real issues upon which you and the country should be focusing."
Bush campaign officials charged that Kerry's campaign has been advised by lawyer Robert F. Bauer, who also represents several of the Democrats' biggest 527 organizations, and said that DNC counsel Joseph E. Sandler also acts as the attorney for MoveOn.org. Bush campaign manager Ken Mehlman said the media has tolerated "blatant lies" by the Kerry campaign about the activities of Democratic lawyers.
Kerry officials said Bauer is not the campaign counsel, but Bush officials pointed out that his biography on the Perkins Coie law firm's Web site lists him as national counsel to Kerry-Edwards 2004 Inc. Bauer said that title refers to his work on voter-protection issues, which initially were performed through the campaign but are now coordinated at the DNC.
Bauer's partner, Marc Erik Elias, serves as general counsel to the Kerry-Edwards campaign. Kerry and DNC officials said that dual roles by lawyers are legal and that none of them would be severed from their positions because of Ginsberg's resignation. They accused the Bush campaign of trying to divert attention from what they said was the real issue -- what they labeled scurrilous and inaccurate personal attacks aimed at Kerry.
"Now we know why George Bush refuses to specifically condemn these false ads," Kerry campaign manager Mary Beth Cahill said in a statement. "People deeply involved in his own campaign are behind them, from paying for them, to appearing in them, to providing legal advice, to coordinating a negative strategy to divert the public away from issues like jobs, health care and the mess in Iraq, the real concerns of the American people."
Ginsberg's resignation infuriated conservatives and Republicans, who charged that equally questionable relationships exist between the Kerry campaign and a network of pro-Democratic independent groups.
The Bush-Cheney '04 organization issued a news release citing numerous instances of key figures, other than Bauer and Sandler, who have been involved with the Kerry campaign, the Democratic Party and the independent groups, including:
• Harold Ickes, a DNC executive board member, who founded the Media Fund, which has spent more than $25 million on anti-Bush television ads.
• Former Kerry campaign manager Jim Jordan, who is now chief spokesman for America Coming Together and the Media Fund.
• Zack Exley, who left MoveOn.org -- which has spent millions on anti-Bush ads -- to become online communications director for the Kerry campaign.
• Bill Knapp, who produced television commercials for the Media Fund, and has been hired as a media consultant by the Kerry campaign.
"Ben's resignation is an example of a decent public servant who understood the entrenched double standard in the media's examination of the relationship between campaigns and outside interest groups," Mehlman said.
The hypocrisy of the Kerry campaign is audacious. It takes monumental amounts of gall for the Kerry people to assert that a shady relationship exists between Bush team and the swift boat vets when the Kerry team has similar ties to liberal 527s, or to imply that the swift boat vets are a bunch of liars while the Kerry-linked groups, like MoveOn.org, are simply exercising their freedom of speech.
Now before I give the Washington Post a free pass on bias I will note that much of this article’s meat came buried deep inside the article, and that it apparently took an outspoken resignation statement from Ginsberg to provoke shame on the Post’s part.
[Wash. Times] John Kerry's own wartime journal is raising questions about whether he deserved the first of three Purple Hearts, which permitted him to go home after 4½ months of combat.
A primary claim against Mr. Kerry by the Swift Boat Veterans is that Mr. Kerry's first Purple Heart — awarded for action on Dec. 2, 1968 — did not involve the enemy and that Mr. Kerry's wounds that day were unintentionally self-inflicted.
They charge that in the confusion involving unarmed, fleeing Viet Cong, Mr. Kerry fired a grenade, which detonated nearby and splattered his arm with hot metal. Mr. Kerry has claimed that he faced his "first intense combat" that day, returned fire, and received his "first combat related injury."
A journal entry Mr. Kerry wrote Dec. 11, however, raises questions about what really happened nine days earlier. "A cocky feeling of invincibility accompanied us up the Long Tau shipping channel because we hadn't been shot at yet, and Americans at war who haven't been shot at are allowed to be cocky," wrote Mr. Kerry, according the book "Tour of Duty" by friendly biographer Douglas Brinkley. If enemy fire was not involved in that or any other incident, according to the Military Order of the Purple Heart, no medal should be awarded.
A Kerry campaign official, speaking on background, told The Washington Times yesterday that the "we" in the passage from Mr. Kerry's journal refers to "the crew on Kerry's first swift boat, operating as a crew" rather than Mr. Kerry himself. "John Kerry didn't yet have his own boat or crew on December 2," according to the aide. "Other members of the crew had been in Vietnam for some time and had been shot at and Kerry knew that at the time. However, the crew had not yet been fired on while they served together on PCF 44 under Lieutenant Kerry."
Mr. Kerry's campaign could not say definitively whether he did receive enemy fire that day.
The newly exhumed passages were first reported by Fox News Channel in a televised interview with John Hurley, national leader of Veterans for Kerry. "Is it possible that Kerry's first Purple Heart was the result of an unintentionally self-inflicted wound?" asked reporter Major Garrett.
"Anything is possible," Mr. Hurley replied.
The Swift Boat Veterans say that means Mr. Kerry is now backing off of his first Purple Heart claim, just as he has apparently changed his claim that he spent Christmas 1968 on an operation in Cambodia. "It's a house of cards," said Van Odell, one of the veterans. "What he wrote in 'Tour of Duty' and how he used that is nothing but a house of cards, and it's exposed.”
Again, it must be emphasized that were the Swift Boat Veterans either lying or possessing inaccurate data John Kerry could easily counter their claims. But Kerry’s Cambodia claim, formerly “seared – seared” in his memory, has fallen apart, and now so is his story about how he received his first Purple Heart. Note that were Kerry truly confident that he was wounded by an enemy soldier he could just say so. But he isn’t. Instead his campaign is refusing to say for certain whether or not his first Purple Heart came from an enemy’s or his weapon.
This matter takes on even more significance because it appears that John Kerry successfully applied for that first Purple Heart only after his commanding officer refused. Division Commander Grant Hibbard has signed a legal affidavit that Kerry’s wound was self-inflicted in the absence of hostile fire and thus Kerry was not eligible for the award. Dr. Louis Letson has also signed an affidavit to affirm that Kerry’s wound was treated with tweezers and a band aid. Kerry, however, has not signed any affidavit regarding the events. It is further claimed that after Hibbard and Letson left the theater of operations Kerry reapplied for the award with an officer who was unfamiliar with the event.
Now, there’s a bit of conflicting statements whereby the event boils down to one man’s word against another’s. However, I have no reason to doubt these men because John Kerry has never said either “Dr. Letson never treated me,” or “Commander Hibbard did apply for my Purple Heart.” Instead, Kerry has used prop defenses – the original medial form was signed by a corpsman (which is standard in the military), and so on. In other words, were Kerry’s version of events the truth he could easily counter the criticism, or at least sign his own affidavit. But he hasn’t... and he won’t... because he’s lying.
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