Thursday, January 31, 2008


Pandering and Consequences

Glenn Reynolds and his readers over at Instapundit offer vigorous rejoinder to an outrageous pander by John McCain in last night’s debate. Read the whole thing, all updates. It pretty much encapsulates the entirety that shouts “lie!” to McCain’s narrow (and thoughtless) pandering.

Talking about the subprime crisis, McCain stated last night that there may be some “greedy people on Wall Street who need to go to jail.”

Glenn mentions the syrupy bathos that passes for financial feature-commentary on National Public Radio (NPR), attempting to sympathetically portray their version of the “victims”:

But I heard a typically sad-toned NPR story on subprimes tonight, and despite their best efforts to evoke the Joads it was a story of people who "used their houses like ATMs," taking out home equity loan after home equity loan when they started with a subprime mortgage, only to wind up owing far more than their houses were worth and unable to make the payments. Boo hoo. Shouldn't there be a price for being an idiot? And -- despite not being on Wall Street -- a greedy idiot? Why does McCain want to bail these people out? Why does he want to put Wall Street people in jail?

Glenn’s readers offer lost of other anecdotal evidence, mostly in support of his position and critical of McCain.

Mark Steyn at The Corner also noted McCain’s remark, and made this caustic observation:

As for his line about "some greedy people on Wall Street who need to be punished", aside from being almost entirely irrelevant to the subject under discussion (the subprime "crisis"), it reveals, I think, one of the most unpleasant aspects of McCain. For a so-called "maverick", he's very comfortable with the application of Big Government power, and the assumption of Big Government virtue. Undoubtedly there are "greedy people on Wall Street". Why should he and his chums be the ones who decide whether they need to be "punished"? If greed is to be punishable, why doesn't he start with a pilot program applied to, say, the United States Senate and report back to us in five years how that's going?

Primary triumph doesn't seem to be doing anything to mitigate the small and graceless side of McCain.

So why again should McCain be understood as some kind of Republican counterpoint to the Democrats (at least either of his certain opponents)?

As the days go by, I grow more certain that mindless idiots (they’re either that or cynical, amoral opportunists, take your pick) in both parties are determined to enact some “big government remedy” to the so-called “subprime crisis.”

And thereby, these idiot/opportunists will ensure that those most responsible for whatever we want to think of as this “problem” get rewarded for their bad behavior, and the entirety of the rest of us – who did the right thing or did not do the wrong thing – get wrongly punished by being handed the tab.

This stands as indictment against McCain in my book. Let him explain.

Who’d have guessed years ago. I could have bought way beyond my means, ignored all manner of warnings about ARMs and balloon payments, taken second and third mortgages, blow it all on consumptive living, and then sat back fat, happy and 2 miles under in debt. What me worry? Here comes some craven politico to bail me out.

Juts another example of Big Government, ready to step between any idiot and the consequences of his bad behavior.

Why bother holding anyone accountable for anything? Oh, that’s right, we still need to blame Bush for anything that goes wrong, anywhere. Come to think of it, that’s pretty much been McCain’s schtick these past 7 years.


Wednesday, January 30, 2008


Heads Up on Kenya

Ralph Peters writes in the NY Post on the deteriorating situation in Kenya, it's a must read.

Here's his brutal conclusion:
At the bottom of virtually every electoral mess in the developing world are indestructible identities that Western academics long insisted didn't exist. In
the 20th century, no end of professors declared that differences in ethnicity, tradition, language and perceived identity were all in our heads: European imperialists had created tribes to screw up Eden.

But our attempts to ride roughshod over fundamental identities to which human beings cling for dear life only resulted in the sort of failures we've witnessed in the post-colonial years - and the problems we faced in Iraq as we brushed aside sheiks in favor of corrupt bureaucrats.

To make democracy work in the developing world, you must adapt it to the pre-existing social structures and traditional loyalties, rather than assuming they'll wither away at the first election. Even Stalin couldn't finish off the Chechens. Afghanistan's Pathans won't vote for Tadjiks, or Sunni Arabs for Sunni Kurds.

The utterly wrong-headed and ultimately deadly insistence that everybody is just like us has led us to prescribe poison: In tribal societies, Western-style presidential or parliamentary systems produce, at best, authoritarian regimes. (As I argued years ago, our question in 2003 shouldn't have been "How do we bring our democracy to Iraq?" but "What would an Iraqi democracy look like?")
I have an acquaintance in Kenya, a very serious minded Kenyan Pentacostal Pastor, who has done amazing work in his rural home town. I worry for him, his work, his fellow pastors and their congregations.

Kenya was once a model for the rest of Africa, and now it succumbs to the violence and chaos that has ravaged Africa in the modern era. A tragedy, and one that may have lasting (negative) consequences for Africa as a whole.

(Via The Corner)



How Not to Sound Conservative

With the results from Florida last night, I skipped the opportunity to comment on yesterday's fawning Kennedy-Obama NY Times Op Ed by David Brooks.

How anyone in their right mind can consider Brooks a conservative commentator is beyond me, even for the leftward tilting Times. This bit of rhetorical heavy breathing, whether inspired more by Obama than the aged artifact Kennedy, should be too embarrassing even for the Gray Lady.

Consider this purple prose:
Then, in the speech’s most striking passage, he set Bill Clinton afloat on the receding tide of memory. “There was another time,” Kennedy said, “when another young candidate was running for president and challenging America to cross a New Frontier.” But, he continued, another former Democratic president, Harry Truman, said he should have patience. He said he lacked experience. John Kennedy replied: “The world is changing. The old ways will not do!”

The audience at American University roared. It was mostly young people, and to them, the Clintons are as old as the Trumans were in 1960. And in the students’ rapture for Kennedy’s message, you began to see the folding over of generations, the service generation of John and Robert Kennedy united with the service generation of the One Campaign. The grandparents and children united against the parents.
You would have thought, that if in any sense a Kennedy Mystique, or some Mantle of Enlightened Progressivism, could in any sense by "passed on" from an Elder to the Younger, the Elder would have had to possess it in the first place.

I don't know anyone, Republican or Democrat, who thinks that about Ted Kennedy. News flash to David Brooks, the reason Kennedy never attempted the nomination again was NOT that the excesses of his "callow youth" prevented it, but the disdain and revulsion of majorities in his own party.

Brooks also made the rather astonishing claim:
But life did ask him to be a senator, and he has embraced that role and served that institution with more distinction than anyone else now living — as any of his colleagues, Republican or Democrat, will tell you.
Who's he kidding? Many in his own party give him lip service, sure, and some Republicans too, and much of it can be fawning, when somebody wants something from the old beast. In the opposition, he was callous and strident. In opposition to the war in Iraq, he fomented outrageous slanders and was a major force in escalating the "hyperpartisan style of politics" Brooks appears to decry and believes Obama (and Kennedy?!) rejects.

(Via Real Clear Politics)



Wrong on Immigration

The folks at Hot Air, in commenting on media reactions to McCain’s victory in Florida, open up a controversy in several posting updates:

Update: Another exit question: Is talk radio in better or worse shape than border enforcement right now? David Brooks and Bob Novak are already crowing about the irrelevance of Romney’s comparatively hard line against amnesty. That can be spun for the moment by pointing to Florida’s big Cuban minority. Same result next Tuesday, though? Not so much.

Update (Bryan): I think Brooks and Novak are intentionally missing the point re immigration. The fact is, McCain had to publicly track to the right on that and enough voters evidently bought it, at least to the extent that it neutralized Romney’s stance.

Those voters didn’t hear about Juan Hernandez or the rest of the evidence that McCain’s conversion is insincere because the MSM didn’t report it. Talk radio didn’t do much with it either. Laura Ingraham brought it up, but I don’t think Rush or Hannity have. Novak and Brooks also fail to take into account the recent trio of immigration enforcement wins in NY, MI and MD. Those occurred under Democrat governors responding to pressure from the electorate, and the one in NY rattled the Clinton campaign for a while.

So those two are sticking to their preferred storyline, but they’re wrong.

I’m in NY, and they’re dead wrong.

Even in uber-liberal NY, downstate as well as upstate, illegal immigration is the firestorm awaiting a spark (as NY Governor Elliot Spitzer and Sen. Hillary Clinton well know). The reason it hasn’t gotten traction is that neither Romney, McCain, Huckabee, nor Giuliani have picked up on its flammability. It hasn’t figured in the Republican race thus far, thanks to candidates who can only cover it properly with evasion, flip flopping, or “squishiness,” with aiding and abetting media.

The hyper-reaction to Governor Spitzer’s illegal alien licensing plan wasn’t (only) added revulsion for the new Governor, piggy-backing on his Trooper Gate fiasco. Likewise, Clinton’s furious backpedaling and hapless muddling after initially backing the rookie Guv, wasn’t just her inability to hone her message just right. Both retreated, reluctantly, because the public reaction in the blue-bastion Empire State approached red-faced rage.

If Romney starts beating McCain and Clinton with any version of the Amnesty Stick, that could become the club with which he beats both to a pulp.

If McCain ultimately gets the nomination, he would be well advised to keep tracking rightward of his previous positions, and stay right. If he doesn’t, watch Clinton move decisively to his right, and win.

(Via Memeorandum)

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Tuesday, January 29, 2008


Some Say it's Over

Michael Graham at The Cornersays it's over.

What does that mean for the GOP in November and beyond?

Not much good, if you're a Conservative, or if you wnat to despair over many, many ways in which the GOP has abandoned virtually every position that made the GOP, well, the GOP. Not the Gipper's GOP, for sure.

Here's Graham's fair warning:
So it is over. Finished. In November, we'll be sending out our most liberal, least trustworthy candidate vs. to take on Hillary Clinton—perhaps not more liberal than Barack Obama, but certainly far less trustworthy.

And the worst part for the Right is that McCain will have won the nomination while ignoring, insulting and, as of this weekend, shamelessly lying about conservatives and conservatism.

You think he supported amnesty six months ago? You think he was squishy on tax cuts and judicial nominees before? Wait until he has the power to anger every conservative in America, and feel good about it.

Every day, he dreams of a world filled with happy Democrats and insulted Republicans. And he is, thanks to Florida, the presidential nominee of the Republican party.
He's reaching for Bushmills. I don't feel quite that same pull, but I can understand the motivation.
"We're not going to achieve that [a litany of what Washington needs] by sending the same people back to Washington, just to sit in different chairs."
From Romney's concession speech. Can I have an amen?



Brass Tacks

We need to get down to them, fast. Come Tuesday, we vote here in New York.

Senator John McCain won the Florida Republican primary and picks up 57 delegates for the convention.

My preferred GOP candidate, Fred Thompson, bowed out.

I am an Iraqi War Veteran, and while I admire John McCain for his outstanding and heroic service, I cannot support him for the nomination. His stance on illegal immigration is abhorant; his willingness to abandon his party in critical fights; his long standing gravitation towards media attention; his simmering animosity towards President Bush; his desire to value bi-partisanship seemingly over values, often in the face of obvious partisan motives of his erstwhile "partners," like Ted Kennedy. Plus, McCain is 71 years old. He might contest well against Clinton, but against Obama, I'm afraid he gets pummeled. I think we'll see Dole '96 all over again.

Which is another reason for unease about McCain. Why is it I think McCain thinks George Bush stole his spot in history in 2000? That 9/11 was supposed to happen on his watch, his moment to be the hero?

I greatly admire former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who now looks to be dropping out to endorse John McCain. His leadership in NY post 9/11 reflected great strength and determination. But his personal values have been a mess, and his liberal social positions suggest (as they do with McCain) very little daylight between these lukewarm Republicans and the Democrats that seek to defeat them. It's always important to consider who the media likes most. Formerly Giuliani, now McCain. That's one big warning sign.

I'm an Evangelical Christian, yet I cannot stomach Huckabee, let alone support him for the nomination. I find him disingenuous at best, dissembling, with a suspicious resemblance to other recent Arkansas politicos.

I have been favorably impressed by Mitt Romney. Until tonight, I wasn't prepared to commit to support him. After tonight, I think he is the only GOP candidate with a chance to beat Obama or Clinton, the Executive ability, and the steadfastness on key conservative issues.

Any alternative at this point is frightening.

Romney for President. There's too much at stake.


Monday, January 28, 2008


Political Adultery

The New York Chapter of the National Organization of Women (NOW) reveals their leadership lacks any concept of irony, in the manner of their public spleen-busting over Sen. Ted Kennedy’s endorsement of Sen. Barack Obama for President.

The Albany Times Union reports on a statement made by NOW-NY, which reacted to Kennedy’s endorsement with the claim: “Women have just experienced the ultimate betrayal.”

The Corner picked up the story, as did Drudge, and now the TU server has been driven off line. Courtesy of the Corner’s Kathryn Jean Lopez, here’s the statement in full:

“Women have just experienced the ultimate betrayal. Senator Kennedy’s endorsement of Hillary Clinton’s opponent in the Democratic presidential primary campaign has really hit women hard. Women have forgiven Kennedy, stuck up for him, stood by him, hushed the fact that he was late in his support of Title IX, the ERA, the Family Leave and Medical Act to name a few. Women have buried their anger that his support for the compromises in No Child Left Behind and the Medicare bogus drug benefit brought us the passage of these flawed bills. We have thanked him for his ardent support of many civil rights bills, BUT women are always waiting in the wings.
“And now the greatest betrayal! We are repaid with his abandonment! He’s picked the new guy over us. He’s joined the list of progressive white men who can’t or won’t handle the prospect of a woman president who is Hillary Clinton (they will of course say they support a woman president, just not “this” one). ‘They’ are Howard Dean and Jim Dean (Yup! That’s Howard’s brother) who run DFA (that’s the group and list from the Dean campaign that we women helped start and grow). They are Alternet, Progressive Democrats of America,, Kucinich lovers and all the other groups that take women’s money, say they’ll do feminist and women’s rights issues one of these days, and conveniently forget to mention women and children when they talk about poverty or human needs or America’s future or whatever.
“This latest move by Kennedy, is so telling about the status of and respect for women’s rights, women’s voices, women’s equality, women’s authority and our ability – indeed, our obligation - to promote and earn and deserve and elect, unabashedly, a President that is the first woman after centuries of men who ‘know what’s best for us.’”

Let me see if I have this straight. The same feminists who excused, defended, apologized for, and played political attack oppo for any criticism of philanderer and serial sexual predator Bill Clinton, now cry “betrayal” that Kennedy chases after “the new guy,” instead of their Poster Candidate for Martyred Woman. (Is there a feminine version of the word “cuckold? There needs to be this election season.)

Reading that first paragraph, noting how much women have suffered at the hands of Kennedy – one of the most progressive and identify politics driven politicos in the Democratic Party – the ability to refrain from drawing a connection to the Clinton Marriage grows vanishingly small.

Note the victim verbs. They forgave! They stuck up for him. They stood up for him. They hushed up indiscretions. We always expressed undying gratitude, but he betrayed us!

Is this the state of modern feminism 8 years into the 21st Century? We’ve been dutifully subservient, and expected the quid for the quo, and will happily continue to put up with all manner of offenses if only you pay us what you owe us.

“I am woman, here me bleat.” Not much of a posture for modern feminism, but then, that was always the devil’s bargain Clinton feminists bought into.

On the other hand, you have to wonder if this isn’t, yet another, Clintonista manipulation. Hillary as the offended Spouse! The Man owes it to her for all she put up with!

It got Hillary a Senate Seat. Maybe that’s what the Clinton’s are scrambling for, along with Race Baiting and lip biting. A little dash of Wronged Spouse for good measure.



Troubling Questions

Claudia Rosett has proven herself as one of the most disciplined and tenacious investigative reporters working today. She applies her skills to maximum effect in a recent piece in National Review Online, where she digs into the recent controversy over the firing of Pentagon Analyst Stephen Coughlin. She began to unravel the mystery by asking, Who is Hesham Islam?

Earlier reports allege that Islam, a native Arabic speaker and Muslim with a high visibility role in outreach to Islamic groups, along with highly influential contacts within the Pentagon, served as catalyst for Coughlin’s dismissal.

Bill Gertz of the Washington Times reported on the controversy, which was also well-covered by MILBLOGS, such as Chaotic Synaptic Activity, Cop the Truth, CDR Salamander, and Blackfive, as well as Hot Air and Andrew Bostom.

Here’s what Rosett presents as background on Islam:

Hesham Islam is a native Arabic speaker, a Muslim, born in 1959 in Cairo and schooled in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. In 1980 he immigrated to the U.S. From 1985-2005 he served in the U.S. Navy, rising to the mid-level officer rank of commander. At some point after former defense-industry executive Gordon England joined the Bush administration as secretary of the Navy, in 2001, Islam went to work on his staff. In 2005, when England, after a stint in Homeland Security took over from Paul Wolfowitz in the Defense Department’s number two slot of deputy secretary, Islam came with him.
In England’s office, Islam’s official title is special assistant for international affairs. In that capacity he pops up as a man-about-town in Washington, making the rounds of embassies. But Islam also works as England’s point man for Pentagon outreach programs to Muslim groups. These include organizations such as the Islamic Society of North America, or ISNA, with whom Islam and England have forged ties — attending ISNA conventions, and hosting ISNA delegations at Pentagon events, and in England’s office.

For some critics, what’s already been known about Islam should cause concern, such as Stephen Emerson, who describes Islam as “an Islamist with a pro-Muslim Brotherhood bent who has brought in groups to the Pentagon who have been unindicted co-conspirators.”

And how about Coughlin? Rosett reports that Coughlin is an analyst determined to highlight a covert threat from within:

In a thesis accepted last year by the National Defense Intelligence College, entitled “To Our Great Detriment: Ignoring What Extremists Say About Jihad,” Coughlin came up with heavily documented findings that Islamic law, to a dangerous extent, supports the global spread of Islamic extremism, through both violent and non-violent means. In presentations to the military, based in part on court documents connected to the case of the Holy Land Foundation, Coughlin warned of Muslim Brotherhood plans to subvert the U.S. system via front groups, and “destroy western civilization from within.”
And then, Coughlin got the shove. Earlier this month, he was told that his contract with the Joint Chiefs of Staff will not be renewed when it expires in March. Why? According to Bill Gertz of the Washington Times, who on Jan. 4 broke the story of Coughlin’s ouster, Coughlin ran afoul of a Pentagon “key aide” named Hesham Islam. Attributing his information to unnamed “officials,” Gertz, who in a series of subsequent articles has stood by his story, alleged that Hesham Islam at a Pentagon meeting late last year sought to have Coughlin soften his views, and called him a “Christian zealot or extremist ‘with a pen’” — or words to that effect.

Rosett digs deeper, and finds some rather dubious credentials and “experiences” in Islam’s biography, beyond what has been highlighted publicly.

What Rosett has uncovered strongly suggests a possibility that Islam has invented at least portions of his resume. That in turn suggests that Islam may not be who he claims to be, and seriously calls into question his motivations and the intent of his actions.
First, there’s the possibly imagined Israeli “bombing of Cairo”:

But this Pentagon-endorsed profile raises more questions than it answers. It begins: “If Hesham Islam’s life story was translated into a screenplay — and it’s got all the makings of a Hollywood blockbuster — the director would be hard-pressed to come up with a more compelling chain of events landing him as a top adviser to the deputy defense secretary.”
As told by Islam to the reporter, “The movie would open with Islam as a young boy growing up in Cairo, Egypt, huddling in terror as Israeli bombs came raining down, demolishing much of the building around him and his family.”
There’s one problem with this scene. As far as I have been able to discover, Israel during Hesham Islam’s entire lifetime has never bombed Cairo. Asked to explain this, the Pentagon spokesman duly conferred with Islam, and relayed to me by phone that Islam says this building-wrecking bombing raid took place during the 1967 Six-Day War. But as for details that might substantiate the when and where in Cairo of this graphic scene, Islam “Doesn’t remember. He was seven years old.”

Then, there’s close proximity between Islam’s father and Saddam Hussein, and a fabulous adventure when Islam survived the sinking of an Iraqi cargo ship by Iranians:

That family move to Iraq came as Saddam Hussein was consolidating his Baathist rule, though neither the Pentagon profile nor Hesham Islam’s Pentagon biography any makes mention of that context. In answer to questions, the Pentagon spokesman says Islam’s father was invited to Iraq by Saddam Hussein, but the spokesman doesn’t know when: “It was in 1971-1973 time frame.” Surely with Pentagon background checks, more exact information would be easily available? “It’s available,” says the spokesman, but “I don’t have his C.V. kind of thing.”
The profile goes on to describe young Hesham Islam as a “merchant mariner adrift for three days in the Arabian Sea after an Iranian torpedo sunk his 16,000-ton cargo ship, drowning all but Islam and four of his crewmates.”

Rosett finds no evidence confirming Islam’s dramatic account:

As for records of any incident fitting the generic description of a 16,000-ton cargo ship, under any flag, torpedoed by the Iranians and sunk in the Arabian Sea before Islam immigrated to the U.S. sometime in 1980 (the Pentagon spokesman can’t or won’t say exactly when in 1980), after searching news archives, shipping records, and consulting a number of naval historians, I have yet to come across anything that corroborates Islam’s Iranian-torpedo-in-the-Arabian-Sea story. There were ships sunk by the Iranians in 1980, as the Iran-Iraq war broke out — but that was happening in the Gulf, around the Shatt-al-Arab, on the other side of the Straits of Hormuz, hundreds of miles from the Arabian Sea.
It is of course possible that this torpedoing, ship sinking, and rescue took place exactly as described in the Defense profile. But having showcased the scene for public consumption, why won’t Gordon England’s office provide basic factual information that could confirm this story? Does Hesham Islam not remember that, either? Does no one at Defense have it on file?

Then, there’s a 5 year gap in his record, when Islam immigrated to the US, got married to a pen pal, and in 1985 joined the Navy as an electronics technician.

No cause for alarm? Perhaps, perhaps. But then there’s Islam’s choice of topics for a Master’s Thesis while studying at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, CA:

For this degree, Islam wrote a 139-page thesis about the Middle East, entitled “Roots of Regional Ambition.” In it, he devoted dozens of pages to lambasting Israel, and the influence of American Jews on U.S. politics. He deplored “Israeli activities which have detrimentally affected U.S. objectives but which have continued with impunity.” He argued that U.S. support for Israel “has negatively affected the attainment of U.S. objectives in the Middle East.” He blamed the influence of American Jews on U.S. policy for a host of ills, ranging from Arab “retaliation” against Americans, to jobs lost overseas, to hampering sales of “defensive arms to friendly Arab states.”

Based on reactions from other MILBLOGGERS, I know many are questioning whether Islam’s alleged role in getting Coughlin sacked. Whether or not those allegations are true, Islam’s biography – and questions raised by Rosett – raise some troubling questions.

What kind of a clearance did Islam get for this work in the Navy and for the Pentagon? How thoroughly were his foreign contacts vetted? Weren’t the incidents described in his public biography investigated? I would certainly think so, as a high level clearance for a foreign born subject would require close scrutiny.

Rosett’s research certainly suggests that Islam may not have been entirely truthful in dealing with military and government officials, who trust him implicitly, and who have assigned him to areas both very sensitive and vital to national security.

Why isn’t this setting off alarm bells?

(Via Powerline from last week.)

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Thursday, January 24, 2008


More Swift Boat Slander

Sarah Lai Stirland, writing at Wired, reports on efforts by Sen. Barack Obama to “debunk” viral myths spreading on the Internet.

But in describing Obama’s efforts, she mentions the companion efforts by Obama supporter Sen. John Kerry, and in doing so libels the Swift Board Veterans for Truth:

Kerry's note was titled "Swiftboating" -- a reference to Kerry's own presidential campaign in 2004, which was famously sunk by falsities spread by the lobbying group Swift Boat Veterans for the Truth. Many politicos believe that Kerry's decision not to "dignify" the rumors and fight them aggressively contributed to his campaign's defeat in the general election.

And many other politicos think the actual facts of Kerry’s dishonorable service before the war, and questionable service during it, contributed far more to his ultimate defeat.

And has been recounted many, many times elsewhere (see below), none of the allegations by the Swiftboat veterans were ever shown to be “falsities,” though in some cases there are differences between their accounts and accounts of others. Kerry himself has continued to refuse to release any of his DD 214s (the original nor the one “revised” during the Carter administration, nor any of the rest of his military records.

Links discussing Swift Boat Veterans:

UPDATE: I was most remiss to provide a hat tip to Instapundit, from whom I learned of the Wired article.

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Wednesday, January 23, 2008



Now they come with praise. NRO Editor Kathryn Jean Lopez praises Fred Thompson and his failed candidacy for President, and offers a somewhat remorseful eulogy. She harkens to a self-summation of Thompson’s view of Government, offered to caucus-goers in Iowa:

Whoever winds up the Republican nominee for president this year, he’d be doing his country a service if he read Fred’s pre-caucus message to Iowa voters that Thompson posted on his website. In it he listed “the fundamental, conservative principles that have unified us for over two centuries.”

-First, the role of the federal government is limited to the powers given to it in the Constitution
-Second, a dollar belongs in the pocket of the person who earns it, unless the government has a compelling reason why it can use it better
-Third, we don't spend money we don't have, or borrow money that our children and grandchildren will have to pay back
-And the best way to avoid war is to be stronger than our enemies. But if we’re caught in a fight, we need to win it because not doing so makes us much more likely to be attacked in the future
-Also the federal judiciary is supposed to decide cases, not set social policy — and bad social policy at that
-And the bigger the government gets, the less competent it is to run our lives.

Too bad NRO couldn’t buy into Thompson as a candidate to support when they threw their support to Mitt Romney.

Now I read NRO’s justifications for their choice of Romney, and there are certainly aspects of Romney and other contenders (absent Paul and Huckabee) that warrant consideration. But read that list above, and tell me that any of the other candidates even come close to those values. By turning away from those who try to remind us what America can best be about, we ensure that our Government will be anything, but.

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Monday, January 14, 2008


Calling All Angels

Blackfive passes on an urgent request from Patti Patton-Bader of Soldiers' Angels: they need more Angels.

Patti Patton-Bader, Founder of Soldiers' Angels, just let me know that there are a lot more soldiers requesting angels than there are angels.  So, we need more angels.  If you ever thought about adopting a solider or a whole platoon of soldiers, now is the time to step forward and do what you can for our troops.

WE HAVE MANY MORE HEROES BEING SUBMITTED THAN ANGELS JOINING, and that is with 50 to 100 angels joining a DAY.  We really did good at Christmas. Heroes Love to be adopted. We have whole units joining with quotes like this from a Chaplain:

Your organization is highly coveted and recommended by all. Is it possible if we can be added to the Soldier's Angels program. We've got a lot of young soldiers who are experiencing difficult times for their first deployment, and external support from our nation's greatest supporters would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

It is wonderful we are able to help with morale. Will you adopt another hero, or will you please contact your local churches, schools, hospitals, Scouts. Many of our sons and daughters are in harms way and could use some support from home.

Tell ALL you can, to go to and click to adopt a soldier.

Thank you!

I have to guess that any readers here know all about Soldiers’ Angels, and likely visit Blackfive more often than they do here… But in case anybody hasn’t heard the call, it’s time for more Angels to step up. Do what you can to help.



Anti-Military Propaganda

The New York Times on Sunday commenced a reporting series called “War Torn,” described as “A series of articles and multimedia about veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan who have committed killings, or been charged with them, after coming home.”

The Times starts War Torn with "Across America, Deadly Echoes of Foreign Battles," written by Deborah Sontag and Lizette Alvarez, consisting of atypical anecdotes, seemingly contradicting data, and an absolute lack of statistical context.

One can only speculate on what the Times plans for future installments.

Several statistically informed and militarily knowledgeable bloggers have already criticized the Times for faulty reporting and even faultier data analysis techniques.

Phillip Carter of Intel Dump, no slacker as a critic of our efforts in Iraq, reached a one word conclusion about the Times piece: “bullsh*t.”

That’s at the end of a somewhat more elaborate criticism:

So, basically, the reporters went trolling on Lexis-Nexis and other databases to find "murder" within the same paragraph as "veteran" or "soldier," and built a front-page story around that research. They compared the pre-war numbers to the post-war numbers and found that, voila!, there's a difference. And then it looks like they cherry-picked the best anecdotes out of that research (including the ones where they could get interviews and photos) to craft a narrative which fit the data.
The article makes no attempt to produce a statistically valid comparison of homicide rates among vets to rates among the general population. Nor does it rely at all on Pentagon data about post-deployment incidents of violence among veterans. It basically just generalizes from this small sample (121 out of 1.7 million Iraq and Afghanistan vets, not including civilians and contractors) to conclude that today's generation of veterans are coming home full of rage and ready to kill.

Marc Danziger of Winds of Change documents how the lack of statistical context in the Times report evades some rather simple mathematical comparisons, and helpfully provides the email address of the Times Public Editor:

That means that the NY Times 121 murders represent about a 7.08/100,000 rate.

Now the numbers on deployed troops are probably high - fewer troops from 2001 - 2003; I'd love a better number if someone has it.

But for initial purposes, let's call the rate 10/100,000, about 40% higher than the calculated one.

Now, how does that compare with the population as a whole?

Turning to the DoJ statistics, we see that the US offender rate for homicide in the 18 - 24 yo range is 26.5/100,000.For 25 - 34, it's 13.5/100,000.

See the problem?

Damn, is it that hard for reporters and their editors to provide a little bit of context so we can make sense of the anecdotes? It's not in Part 1 of the article. And I'll bet it won't be in the future articles, either.

Because it's not part of the narrative of how our soldiers are either depraved or damaged.

The NY Times Public Editor can be reached at

Danziger sparks a rather one-sided debate at Winds. There, Times apologists suggest that Danziger, Carter and other critics misrepresent what is intended as mere “anecdotal” reporting, and that the Times report is actually very sympathetic to soldiers experiencing post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other combat effects.

No doubt, in the same way the Times and others of their media ilk show sympathy for all other murders and malcontents who society has abused or neglected. Apparently, no one is responsible for their own bad behavior anywhere in Times World – unless you happen to be a member of the GOP that is.

But to address the notion that the Times report doesn’t make an argument that the Iraq War (uniquely) causes these soldiers to act out violently, consider the following.

Town by town across the country, headlines have been telling similar stories. Lakewood, Wash.: “Family Blames Iraq After Son Kills Wife.” Pierre, S.D.: “Soldier Charged With Murder Testifies About Postwar Stress.” Colorado Springs: “Iraq War Vets Suspected in Two Slayings, Crime Ring.”

Individually, these are stories of local crimes, gut-wrenching postscripts to the war for the military men, their victims and their communities. Taken together, they paint the patchwork picture of a quiet phenomenon, tracing a cross-country trail of death and heartbreak.

The New York Times found 121 cases in which veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan committed a killing in this country, or were charged with one, after their return from war. In many of those cases, combat trauma and the stress of deployment — along with alcohol abuse, family discord and other attendant problems — appear to have set the stage for a tragedy that was part destruction, part self-destruction.

Three-quarters of these veterans were still in the military at the time of the killing. More than half the killings involved guns, and the rest were stabbings, beatings, strangulations and bathtub drownings. Twenty-five offenders faced murder, manslaughter or homicide charges for fatal car crashes resulting from drunken, reckless or suicidal driving.

“Town by town,” adding up to 121 cases nation wide? That’s town by town if you only count every 1,000th town or so, isn’t it? “Patchwork picture of a quiet phenomenon?” Aside from the triteness of either of the mixed metaphors, some patchwork where 1000 patches show no pattern whatever, but that 1,000 and first one, oh boy. Quiet, you could correctly call it. Darn near silent. “Cross-country trail of death and heartbreak?” That’s a vanishingly small number of trail markers on that trail, dwarfed by any mid-sized or larger town or city in America.

Note to the careful evasion in that third paragraph, about how “combat trauma and the stress of deployment — along with alcohol abuse, family discord and other attendant problems — appear to have set the stage” for the tragedies that the Times bemoans. So which is it, combat or substance or family or none of the above, which factor is most responsible? A combination? And do they “set the stage,” or only “appear to”? What kind of journalism is this? I thought the model was to describe facts, let the readers make value judgments.

And in that last paragraph, over 20% of the Times 121 cases are manslaughter or other charges stemming from fatal car crashes, “resulting from drunken, reckless or suicidal driving.” Talk about padding the numbers. How many of those cases involve alcohol or substance impaired driving – even if someone might consider such driving suicidal as well? How is this any different from the prevalence of such behavior among anyone in the age range of most of the soldiers involved? Doesn’t sound exclusive to military veterans, by a long shot.

And what about those “121 cases,” because that number won’t square up with numbers reported later in the article:

The Times used the same methods to research homicides involving all active-duty military personnel and new veterans for the six years before and after the present wartime period began with the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.

This showed an 89 percent increase during the present wartime period, to 349 cases from 184, about three-quarters of which involved Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans.

By my calculation, 75% of 349 would come to 262, not 121. Go figure, the Times doesn’t do math very well.

Admittedly much of the Times report is unscientific, statistically distorted based on research methods, and entirely based on the collection of anecdotal evidence. This can be a valid means of reporting, at least on background. As the blunt objects wielded by the Times in this piece, however, it distorts whatever reality it presents.

When reporting by anecdote or personal account, some effort to make sure the selected anecdotes are “representative” would kind of help the reporting avoid bias, one-sided advocacy, or distortion to the point of falsehood. Yet, the editors at the Times exhibit no such caution when it comes to formulating the narrative they seek to advance, and each anecdote is presented as object lesson that military service in Iraq causes the mental imbalances that lead to violence.

This, despite numerous clues in several of the selected stores that suggest the violence has little to do with any combat effects, and would as likely have happened even absent the suggest “causation” of combat service.

The first story, chronicling how a 20 year old soldier responded to imminent threat from a couple of gangbangers in a war zone section of Las Vegas, killing one, wounding another, and seeming to “flashback” to his combat experiences.

As written by the Times, there can be no question of what the reporters want to convey: that of a walking time bomb. Of course, he’s also uneducated, underemployed, suffering from substance abuse. Allowed to join the Military at 16 by his parents. He resists the military’s programs to treat his addictions, and feels he can’t “admit” PTSD. He quits the military. Obviously tracked or in trouble with somebody, the young man sees an alcohol counselor, although the Times doesn’t mention where the soldier gets that help from. The counselor advises the man to go see the VA, but he’s too busy.

Not until he gets arrested does it come out that he suffers from memories about a “bad kill.” Charges were eventually dropped in exchange for “successful completion of treatment for substance abuse and PTSD.” Pretty good outcome, for him. Unremarked in the Times piece is how many ways the military, fellow Vets, or others rallied around the young soldier.

Up to 15 or more of these killings sound a lot more like suicides, paired with the killing of another, or suicide by cop. Not to diminish these events, but suicide is a different kind of behavior than killing somebody else. Who knows which motivated which.

Another Times example suggests even more questionable assumptions about causation. A Marine Gunnery Sergeant killed his mistress when she threatened to kill his family during his next deployment. His wife blames his prior deployment, and his Marine lawyer blames PTSD.

I don’t know the record, but I’m thinking that the fact that he was having an affair with a mentally unbalanced mistress might have contributed as to cause, with his decision to off the girlfriend and claim PTSD as his defense. Helpfully, his wife backs up his claim. Who knows? If he’d offed his wife, maybe the mistress would have done him the same favor.

Time selects as another poster soldier for PTSD murderers the case of a Vet sentenced to prison for killing, who dismissed post-deployment screening surveys, has shown no remorse nor offered apology to his victim’s family, and who the sentencing judge privy to the evidence described as a bully. This guy discounts his own PTSD diagnosis, offered by a defense-paid psychologist:

After his arrest, a psychologist hired by his family diagnosed combat trauma in Mr. Strasburg, writing in an evaluation that post-traumatic stress disorder, exacerbated by alcohol, served as a “major factor” in the shooting.

Yeah, no doubt. Is there a lawyer out there who wouldn’t offer this defense for a combat vet charged with murder? Seriously, it’s a no brainer, isn’t it?

And then there’s this quote from the vet:

Mr. Strasburg also voiced reluctance to being publicly identified as a PTSD sufferer, worried that his former military colleagues would see him as a weakling. “Nobody wants to be that guy who says, ‘I got counseling this afternoon, Sergeant,’ ” he said, mimicking a whining voice.

So we want to think that the Army is more responsible for a jerk that no doubt entered service as a jerk, and stayed that way.

The last poster boy the Times presents was an ether addict, who ended up juiced up on ether when he killed and injured driving the wrong way on a highway. Admittedly, the military is being sued for victims for negligence, perhaps more so on the basis that the military authorities released into his possession his impounded car with Marine ether canisters left in the car, rather than negligence in trying to treat his addiction.

The Times latest foray into anti-military propaganda is nothing new. Per their own links, here’s some of their “past (related) coverage:”

Surge in Number of Homeless Veterans Is Anticipated (November 8, 2007)

Not a Game: Simulation To Lessen War Trauma (August 28, 2007)

Bush Panel Seeks To Upgrade Care Of Wounded G.I.'s (July 26, 2007)

Fighting the Terror Of Battles That Rage In Soldiers' Heads (May 13, 2007)

Several prominent bloggers have also picked up on story, including Glenn Reynolds here and here, and Powerline.        

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Wednesday, January 09, 2008


Strains of the Rollercoaster Jig

Do you hear the strains of the Rollercoaster Jig? No? A little background then.

I wouldn’t go so far as to call it a sign of the Apocalypse, but famed Historian Victor Davis Hanson and NY Times Columnist Maureen Dowd are of the same mind about Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton.

Hanson notes the “just in time” emergence of “the teary, compassionate Hillary” as part of her “crying game” candidacy, and Dowd complains bitterly that Clinton plays LBJ as the “heroine of a Lifetime movie, a woman in peril who manages to triumph.”

Here, Dowd wins on the more indelible imagery, but Hanson has the better grasp of history. (No surprise there.) But as to the politics of the game, try to pick between Hanson or Dowd with these assessments.

First Hanson:

Hillary Clinton is in the midst of a complete focus-group/poll-driven/handler make-over. And to the degree she sticks to it (a big if), she will do fine. As we heard tonight, Hillary has now “found her voice”; she suddenly speaks more slowly, there are more bite-the-lip-like pauses, and she has been reminded not to go into frenetic panic mode or hit that screech-owl high note as much. She will seek out interviews, welcome questions, and be empathetic, accessible, and sensitive to the public.
Her New Hampshire victory speech was almost anti-Hillary (at least until the last two seconds of the old Hillary shrill-shouting): slow, deliberate, empathetic, a lot of personal voice — and Bill finally off the stage.

A final note: The campaign talking heads and opinion makers this season have been lousy, about the worst in memory — especially the “she’s won, she’s lost, she’s won...” feeding frenzy, and then writing the silly “end of the Clinton era” essays — all based on a few thousand Iowans, some bad polls in New Hampshire, and catch-up to what some other wrong pundit wrote an hour earlier. And remember, these are “experts” who pontificated each week on the real Iraq war.

Now Dowd:

She was seen as so controlling when she ran for the Senate that she had to be seen as losing control, as she did during the Monica scandal, before she seemed soft enough to attract many New York voters.

Getting brushed back by Barack Obama in Iowa, her emotional moment here in a cafe and her chagrin at a debate question suggesting she was not likable served the same purpose, making her more appealing, especially to women, particularly to women over 45.

The Obama campaign calculated that they had the women’s vote over the weekend but watched it slip away in the track of her tears.

At the Portsmouth cafe on Monday, talking to a group of mostly women, she blinked back her misty dread of where Obama’s “false hopes” will lead us — “I just don’t want to see us fall backwards,” she said tremulously — in time to smack her rival: “But some of us are right and some of us are wrong. Some of us are ready and some of us are not.”

There was a poignancy about the moment, seeing Hillary crack with exhaustion from decades of yearning to be the principal rather than the plus-one. But there was a whiff of Nixonian self-pity about her choking up. What was moving her so deeply was her recognition that the country was failing to grasp how much it needs her. In a weirdly narcissistic way, she was crying for us. But it was grimly typical of her that what finally made her break down was the prospect of losing.

Suffice it to say neither Dowd nor Hanson will make it on the invite list for any potential “Clinton 44” Presidential affairs.

Of Hanson and Dowd, only Dowd alluded to a possibly staged event that might have aided Hillary’s squeaker win in New Hampshire:

When Hillary hecklers yelled “Iron my shirt!” at her in Salem on Monday, it stirred sisterhood.

I find it passing strange that all accounts of the “Iron My Shirt” stunt-let have fallen off political sites faster than Rudy Giuliani’s slide in the polls.

It appeared Tuesday morning at Memeorandum here and here, the last based on an AP report that suggested the incident was brief and quickly resolved by getting security to oust the protesters. No hint of stagecraft in the AP report.

All it took was for someone to identify the “protesters” as Boston area radio personalities, known for pranks such as “Iron My Shirt,” and any assertion that the Clinton Candidacy had staged the event were immediately refuted.

Why? Here’s how I posed the question in comments on several sites:

That the perpetrators of the “Iron My Shirt” affair are radio show jokesters does not mean they were not planted.

Just a question. Do visual sight gags have much traction on a Radio Show? And would Generation X or Y radio shock jocks in Beantown more likely be Republicans, or Democrats in their politics?

I imagined a different scenario that led to someone in the Clinton Camp enlisting the jokesters:

Think about the kind of political planning that leads to these kinds of stunts.

“I really want to slam home that I’m breaking through a glass ceiling.”

“The highest,” adds a fawning aide, “The hardest,” adds another.

“Oh, if I could find an opportunity to say that, ‘I’m running to break through the highest and hardest glass ceiling.’”

“But what about the ceiling for Obama?” another aide, one not long for the campaign, tentatively suggests, “isn’t that more of a struggle for him?”

“We’ve got to set it up as male sexism versus feminism kind of thing,” frets a political consultant.

“I know, we’ll get some guy up playing bumpkin, holding a huge sign saying something like ‘better barefoot and pregnant,’” offers a loyalist.

“No, that plays on the whole age thing,” warns a staff member, likewise not long for the campaign.

“Better, ‘stay in the kitchen’,” declares an awestruck volunteer.

“No,” the political consultant advises, “that reminds people that Senator Clinton doesn’t bake cookies.”

“I’ve got it! ‘Iron My Shirt.’” This one comes from The Man. He knows all too well about what happens when one might suggest a little ironing before an important appearance.

“Yeah, that’s it. Let the guy make a big scene, we’ll tip off security not to yank him out, let him hang out long enough to make sure we get coverage, then Hill hits them with the zinger:

‘As I think has just been abundantly demonstrated, I am also running to break through the highest and hardest glass ceiling.’”

“Political genius,” all agree.

Now that Hillary is spinning herself as this year’s Comeback Kid – this time with more emotions – based on a narrow win in New Hampshire, courtesy of (single) women voters, why not look into the politics of the radio pranksters?

All well and good in concluding, as Hanson does, that the Media plays the fiddle for this Rollercoaster Jig they create as soundtrack for this election, but isn’t it way past time to ask who pays the fiddlers?

Do we want a President who goes to these kinds of links to make sure she makes it?

How will she run the Presidency? I’m sure she’ll make glam go of all the photo ops and sound bites, especially nursed on pabulum of social programs, but threats to our National Security won’t allow themselves to be quite so easily scripted.

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Tuesday, January 08, 2008


Sexist Staging

I first saw the report of the “Sexist Heckling” of Hillary over at Powerline, which shows a picture of the heckler that strongly suggests the incident had to be staged, or at least accommodated, by the Clinton Campaign.

Why do I conclude that?

  1. The sign is within 20 feet of Clinton at the front of the stage.
  2. Clinton staffers asked that the lights be brought up to allow the sign to be seen, presumably by Clinton but helpfully by the media present.
  3. Clinton is ready with three separate riffs off the sign, the last the topper that brings a standing ovation.
  4. Clinton is desperate to reverse her fortunes in New Hampshire.
  5. Clinton needs to find some traction vis-à-vis Obama, especially if she can counteract the historical significance of his victim/minority status with Democrat core constituencies. The “Experience” spin is dragging her down the same hole as Obama, and her Establishment creds get pounded by all the talk of “Change” this year.

Dear Lord, will that woman never allow natural circumstances take their course, or will she always want to orchestrate her opportunities? Has she no trust whatever in the inherent rightness of her positions or the rightful imperative of her causes?

She needs to prop up some faux cavemen, just to set up an entirely scripted barn raiser “As I think has just been abundantly demonstrated, I am also running to break through the highest and hardest glass ceiling.”

Think about the kind of political planning that leads to these kinds of stunts.

“I really want to slam home that I’m breaking through a glass ceiling.”

“The highest,” adds a fawning aide, “The hardest,” adds another.

“Oh, if I could find an opportunity to say that, ‘I’m running to break through the highest and hardest glass ceiling.’”

“But what about the ceiling for Obama?” another aide, one not long for the campaign, tentatively suggests, “isn’t that more of a struggle for him?”

“We’ve got to set it up as male sexism versus feminism kind of thing,” frets a political consultant.

“I know, we’ll get some guy up playing bumpkin, holding a huge sign saying something like ‘better barefoot and pregnant,’” offers a loyalist.

“No, that plays on the whole age thing,” warns a staff member, likewise not long for the campaign.

“Better, ‘stay in the kitchen’,” declares an awestruck volunteer.

“No,” the political consultant advises, “that reminds people that Senator Clinton doesn’t bake cookies.”

“I’ve got it! ‘Iron My Shirt.’” This one comes from The Man. He knows all too well about what happens when one might suggest a little ironing before an important appearance.

“Yeah, that’s it. Let the guy make a big scene, we’ll tip off security not to yank him out, let him hang out long enough to make sure we get coverage, then Hill hits them with the zinger:

‘As I think has just been abundantly demonstrated, I am also running to break through the highest and hardest glass ceiling.’”

“Political genius,” all agree.

Also noted at Memeorandum, with links to Hot Air, Michael McAuliff at Daily News, Fausta's Blog, Michelle Malkin, Mary Katharine Ham, Gateway Pundit, and Outside The Beltway.

From McAuliff comes information about the “protesters,” and some additional info courtesy of Hot Air:

Nick Gemelli, who is 21, and born at least a decade after “iron my shirts” was an anti-women’s rights slogan, didn’t have much of a rationale. “I just don’t think a woman should be President,” he said.

He couldn’t really say why, but he agreed that he was a health care voter, as the sticker on his carrying case implied. The “Hillary for President” sticker was a bit more of a puzzle.

He said he had just been given both and peeled them off. He said he had no connection to any campaign.

At least he got some attention. His friend — a la Bart Simpson — said his name was Hugh Jas, but The Mouth later learned that his real name is Adolfo Gonzalez Jr.

Update: Adolfo apparently has a MySpace page that says he is a Republican who doesn’t do drugs or have a girlfriend, and calls himself “Captain Fun.” He did seem to enjoy himself more than Nick.

Update: These guys are radio show jokers. There’s a good rundown on Hotair.

Here’s the ident from Hot Air:

Update: An eagle-eyed tipster notes that Adolfo Gonzales Jr., one of the guys named in the Daily News story, shares a name with an assistant producer of the Toucher and Rich Show in Boston, which seems to specialize in stunts.

Were the jokesters put up by the Clinton Campaign or sympathizers? A little too pat from the Political Mafia run by the Clintons. That we even suspect the plant suggests the Campaign is fully capable of such artifice.


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