9/14/2002

We! Are! Penn! State!

In sports news, kudos to the Penn State Nittany Lions, who routed Nebraska tonight, 40 to 7. It was a great win for Penn State, which has suffered through two straight losing seasons (the last time that happened was 1931-32), especially against perennial powerhouse (and #7 team in the country before tonight's game) Nebraska.

Go Lions!
Broken Records

Tomorrow's editorials today: Mary McGrory continues to whine about the President and Iraq:

She gets the requisite Vietnam mention in, along with the expected "chickenhawk" shot against Dick Cheney (ahthough she doesn't actually use the term "chickenhawk", she might as well have):

The designated warmonger, Vice President Cheney, showing an appetite for armed conflict that he lacked during the Vietnam era -- he got five draft deferments -- dissed inspections as a source of "false comfort."

The "warmonger" comment is a nice touch, too.

She then moves on to accusing the President of wanting to remove Saddam entirely for personal and political motives:

Resisters will be accused of "politicizing" the great regime-changing efforts of a son who is trying to complete his father's unfinished business. The elections will be transformed into a referendum on the commander in chief, which is what Bush has always sought. It will be uphill work to keep voters focused on prescription drugs, the economy and the environment when our uniformed men and women are in peril.

Because, of course, the voters are ignorant sheep who can only keep one idea in their malleable little minds at a time. It's nice to know what McGrory thinks of her readership.

And then we move on to the "we can't do anything else while Osama bin Laden is still at large" argument:

On the morning after the first anniversary of Sept. 11, it was hard to imagine that rage at Saddam Hussein was equal to America's still-tearful fury at Osama bin Laden, who killed 3,000 innocent people and goes unpunished. Whatever Hussein is doing -- or will do -- he had nothing to do with the day that we relived around the clock.

We are still far from punishing the fiend who set in motion so much grief and glory


One more time: we don't know if bin Laden is alive or dead. He may well have been "punished" already, one more unidentifiable corpse buried in the rubble of a cave somewhere in Afghanistan.

Not that McGrory cares, of course.

And then there's this:

Will we at last throw our weight into the fray between Israelis and Arabs? It's a dangerous undertaking when the all-important Jewish vote is at stake. If Congress capitulates in the dubious venture proposed by Bush over the objections of Iraq's neighbors and all Europe except Britain -- the German chancellor calls it "an adventure" -- where are ordinary citizens going to get the encouragement to just say no?

We did "throw our weight" into the Arabi-Israeli fray. We got the ongoing Intifada and hundreds of dead Israeli civillians for our trouble.

And, well, gee whiz, Gerhard Schroeder doesn't like our policy - let's just let him make all our decisions, why don't we?

And, Mary, maybe ordinary citizens don't want to say no. Maybe they understand that Saddam's continued rule and quest for nuclear weapons is a direct danger to the United States and its citizens; and that our government is specifically tasked with our protection. It's in the Constitution. The Constitution specifically does not task our leaders with appeasing twitchy, leftist European elites, or whiny WashPost columnists. Sorry, Mary. You can look it up.

And finally, there's this:

Bush raised the stakes at the United Nations. We had thought only Iraq's survival was the issue. Now that the United Nations is threatened with irrelevance, it has to show some resolve rather than just passing resolutions and prove to George Bush that it is never too late to talk instead of fight.

All we are saying is, give peace a chance. Is that it?

Too bad it doensn't work. Jaw jaw is not always better than war war. You'd think that the last century would have taught us that - if Britain and France had talked less and fought more in the 1930's, there might not have been a Nazi conquest of Europe and six million dead Jews. And maybe if our European friends had acted sooner in the former Yugoslavia, there'd have been less death there, too.

Peace is good. The "peace process" as an end in itself is not good. It's sad that McGrory and her ilk have yet to learn that lesson.
The Credibility Gap

In today's NY Times, Frank Rich comes periously close to making a couple of good points.

He wonders:

why (Saddam) has jumped to the head of the most-wanted list when the war on Al Qaeda remains unfinished and our resources are finite.

And there's the fact that:

there are Qaeda operatives in at least 65 countries, and The Times reported this week that the largest number of them are in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Iran (identified by Mr. Bush's own State Department in May as "the most active state sponsor of terrorism"), Syria and Yemen are not far behind. And then there's our ally, Saudi Arabia...

All of which is true.

I'd be more inclined to take Mr. Rich seriously if he hadn't reflexively opposed everything the current Administration has done since Day One, and if he hadn't been opposed to our response to the September 11th attacks in the first place.

If we did dispatch troops to Syria and Iran and Saudi Arabia to root out the Al Qaeda there, and their supporters, Rich would be right there screaming about how irresponsible and dangerous such action was. That's the problem with this; not that he's wrong, necessarily (although he is - more about that in a minute), but that he's fundamentally dishonest. Rich knows that the alternatives he proposes aren't going to happen, so it's cheap and easy to talk about them - and to ignore the problems and negative consequences that might arise if they were put into play; and he hopes that we won't notice that if those alternative were the policy from the start, he'd be opposing them, too.

As for Rich's contention that we are ignoring Al Qaeda; I think that's demonstrably false. The problem is that we're going after two r three guys at a time, and it's more investigation and law enforcement-esque tactics than straight military action. So the successes aren't reported, or are reported well after thr fact, and it looks as though the fight against Al Qaeda is on the back burner when it's not.

As for other states being as dangerous as Iraq. Could be. But that's where finite resources come in. We can't fight a war against every terrorist-supporter state at once. We have to start somewhere. The case against Iraq has been made elsewhere, and conclusively. There is national security justification, and there is moral justification, and - unlike Iran, or Saudi Arabia - there is "legal" justification under international law (as per the President's speech to the U.N.). All those regimes need to go; Iraq is the just going to be the first one to fall.

But thanks for trying, Frank.
More Good Thoughts

This one comes from OmbudsGod, who writes eloquently about the need to fight terrorism. Here's his conclusion:

There is no good military or policy reason why we shouldn’t finish the job in Iraq and move on to other actions against terrorists.

The importance of 9/11 is not in the lives lost, but in what it told us we must do. We can no longer allow international terrorism to prosper. We can no longer look the other way as foreign governments give tacit aid and support to terrorists. We must make terrorism as passe as Jomini. There can be no going back.



Precisely. There's more there, well worth reading.
Exactly!

John Hawkins notes this story about comments President Bush made yesterday. The President challenged Congressional Democrats, and, as John says, it's about time:

The message in so many words? George Bush is standing up for America, no matter what anybody else thinks. On the other hand, the Democrats are cowering in the background waiting to see if the UN will give them permission to defend America. That my friends, is a clear shot across the bow that should let the Democrats know what's coming. Either they give Bush his vote on Iraq before the October recess and make their constituents mad or the Republicans are going to pound them unmercifully for not being serious about the war.

As far as I'm concerned, it's about time that someone called the Democrats on their waffling. Either they're for continuing the 'war on terrorism' in Iraq or they're essentially in favor of giving up. Whatever their intentions are, their constituents have a right to know where their representatives stand on the war before they cast their votes in November.


Absolutely. I just hope Bush - and his political advisors - have the balls to carry through with this, and not go all squishy the first time there's a nasty OpEd in the WashPost or the Times about how "partisan" he seems to be.

9/13/2002

Well, I'd Hire Him

And so would you. Check out a resume that any employer would have to be crazy to reject.
Life Imitates Art

Demosthenes points out this news item:

A robber basically took a scam from Neil Gaiman's "American Gods"
where a fake security guard set up a fake deposit strongbox and made off with thousands. Then he did it real life. And it worked.


He also notes Gaiman's reaction to the news:

And the strangest thing that happened today is that I got an e-mail from a Winnipeg reporter, wanting to interview me: currently, the Winnipeg police are reading American Gods, after a fake security guard with a fake night-deposit box got away with $40,000.

Of course, he could have got it from http://www.snopes.com/business/bank/guard.htm. Or he could have got it from Chuck Whitlock's Scam School, or one of the other books on scams it's mentioned in... but I suppose he may well have got the idea from me.

(Strange: I fogged the details of the credit card scam in American Gods because they were too easy to pull off, but I detailed that one because it seemed unlikely to the point of impossibility that anyone would read it in the novel and then try to pull it off.)


There really isn't anything I can say to add to that.
The Height of Stupidity

I'm not going to discuss his whole column, but I have to bring up what must be the dumbest Iraq comment yet on record, from Nick Kristof of the New York Times:

"The fundamental question is left unanswered: Why initiating war against Saddam is better than the next option, which is deterring and containing him," Professor Allison said. "You could agree that this is an evil guy — he is evil — who defied the U.N. resolutions — he did — and still ask why he is not susceptible to the same treatment that was used against Stalin, who was also evil and dangerous and cheated."

A succession of presidents chose to deter and contain Stalin — rather than invade and occupy Russia — just as every president until now has chosen to deter and contain Saddam.


Um...the reason that we didn't invade and occupy Russia (the Soviet Union, to be accurate) was, maybe, the Red Army? A battle-tested force of millions of men who had just finished up beating the Nazis on the Eastern Front? And that the Soviet Union was both geographically and population-wise bigger than the United States, and a very big ocean away, making a land invasion impossible in any event?

And maybe an additional reason was that the Soviet Union had atomic weapons in 1949, thermonuclear weapons in 1953, and the ability to deliver them to American cities by the mid-50's?

We contained Stalin because we didn't have a choice - unless we were prepared to nuke the Soviets in the late 40's or early 50's, and I'd think that the reasons we didn't do that are fairly obvious.

Oh, and a "succession" of Presidents is exactly one: the former Narcissist-in-Chief. Iraq became a problem to be dealt with under Bush the Elder; Clinton chose "containment", and now, after a "succession" of one President, we now have a new policy. The comparison doesn't hold any water at all.

In a military or geopolitical sense, Iraq compares in no way whatsoever with Stalin's Soviet Union. There are arguments for not invading Iraq; "we shouldn't do it because we didn't invade Stalin's Russia" is easily the most idiotic one yet advanced in the debate.
All Politics, All the Time

If you want to keep up on the the coming Congressional elections, there's probably no better one-stop site than Larry Sabato's Crystal Ball. Larry's the Director of the University of Virginia's Center for Politics, and if you watch Fox News or CNN, you're pretty much guaranteed to see him on a regular basis.

Check it out.
Hollywood Wisdom

And for once, I don't mean it sarcastically.

James Woods was on Jay Leno the other night, and he took offense at the following drivel published in the L.A. Times:

Today is the first day when Sept. 11 no longer has to signify a particular traumatic incident [traumatic incident? Three-thousand Americans were murdered, Woods pointed out]; it can refer now to a new day, Sept. 11, 2002. The United States will always be, to some extent, imprisoned by its power. But if it can show the world that it can be humble and ready to change, some good may yet come of all it has suffered. Perhaps the best thing we can learn from older nations--Vietnam, say, or Japan--is that the most useful response to loss is to start looking beyond our wounds and toward how we can avoid hurting others, and getting hurt, again.

Woods had this to say in response:

In other words if we're all nice little boys and girls and don't make trouble, then maybe we won't be attacked by psychos-- you know, I hope I never meet this guy [the author of the L.A. Times piece, Pico Iyer, who Woods didn't name on the air], because if I do, I'm gonna smack him.

It's good to see that not everyone in Hollywood is a fool.

(thanks to John Tabin for pointing this one out)

9/12/2002

Repeating History

It seems that Janet Reno will challenge the results of the Florida Democratic primary, which she lost by 8,196 votes.

It should be amusing to watch Reno and primary opponent Bill McBride go at it hammer and tongs in their quest to be the one to lose to Jeb Bush in November.

I wonder if we can expect Reno to bring the same focus and resolve she brought to resolving the Waco and Elian Gonzalez situations to this new challenge?

Stay tuned.
Oh, the Humanity!

Liz Smith reports on the latest Washington DC gossip - that the DC social scene is dead, thanks to the Bush White House.

TOMORROW, THE fashionable publication W will drop this quote and a bag of social cold water on the Bush White House. Susan Watters has written a piece titled "The Big Chill," stating that "two years into Bush's first term, Washington's social scene is near death - and the natives are restless."

Such a tragedy.

Glamour is, of course, gone from D.C. Pizzazz is dormant. Wretched excess won't rear its tiny head. This is not post 9/11 doldrums, according to W. The Bush clique simply doesn't want to party, get dressed up in black tie, meet new people or lure fabulous famous types to big state dinners. The result, according to the capital's reigning hostess, Sally Quinn is "Washington, as we know it, is over . . . the social scene has come to a screeching halt."

Well, isn't that just too bad. Sally Quinn isn't happy. Of course, back under the former Narcissist-in-Chief, she wasn't happy either - the Clintons weren't the "right sort" of people (which is true, of course, but it's no less laughable to hear Quinn whine about how uninteresting the social scene is now, when she was complaining about the oh-so-active social scene a couple of years ago).

White House social secretary Catherine Fenton doesn't think the Bushes are "shy." She sees them as close-knit, preferring small a impromptu evening with friends, replete with Tex-Mex, hot dogs, hamburgers, socializing with old pals and relatives. Yet neither of the Bush daughters has ever been part of the White House crowd, so their youthful exuberance hasn't been evident. The Bushies are cozy, but that's not what Tout Washington wants from its chief executive and first lady. Even Bush supporters complain about the shut down and shut out.

You know, maybe I just missed the part in Article II of the Constitution where the President is tasked with the responsibilty of enlivening the Washington DC party scene. I'll have to go back and read it more carefully.
Making the Case

In his speech at the U.N. today, the President clearly laid out Iraq's consistend defiance of its own committments and U.N. resolutions, and the danger that that regime poses to the civilized world.

The President cited specific U.N. resolutions, and explained how, by the evidence of the U.N.'s own various agencies, each and every resolution of the Security Council, and each and every comittment made by Saddam Hussein in the aftermath of the Gulf War, has been openly, continuously and defiantly violated by Iraq.

The President also made it clear that the United States is committed to Saddam Hussein's removal if he does not "immediately" comply with his obligations as set forth by the U.N. and the agreements he signed in 1991.

I hope that the President means what he said today. We all know that Saddam and his regime will not comply, and I personally don't see the need to give him "one last chance" to do so; all that does is provide him more time to develop weapons of mass destruction and promote terror.
The Best Writer at the Washington Post

That would be baseball beat writer Dave Sheinin. Not because he writes about a subject that I like, and not because he doesn't have appalling political views and wear them on his sleeve. No, it's simply because he's a rarity at the Post these days: an excellent writer who knows his subject inside and out, who can write about it with both respect and irreverence - and who knows when each of those is called for, and when they're not.

Here is his piece on last night's game between the New York Yankees and the Baltimore Orioles, and about the ceremony that took place beforehand. Like all of Sheinin's work, it's well worth reading.
We Remember

"We remember. . . . On September 11, 2001, despicable acts of terrorism were perpetrated on our country. In tribute to the eternal spirit of the innocent victims of these crimes and to the selfless courage shown by both public servants and private citizens, we dedicate this plaque. These valiant souls, with unfettered resolve, exemplify the true character of this great nation. Their unity and resilience during this time of distress defined American Heroism for generations to come.

The text of the memorial plaque dedicated last night at Yankee Stadium.
Bush Is Horrible, FIlm At Eleven

So says Mary McGrory. This does not come as a surprise.

She criticizes the Dark Lord Ashcroft (you know, "Darth Ashcroft" does have kind of a ring to it, I have to admit) for:

(leading) the charge to ring down the curtain of secrecy on the unfortunate immigrants who made the authorities suspicious. The roundups, isolation and secret hearings held on these cases are rather conspicuous constitutional violations, but Ashcroft is adamant and reproaches federal judges who protest.

There is some truth here, as when she notes the case of:

Tony Oulai, a 35-year-old Catholic from the Ivory Coast, whom the FBI picked up because he was carrying a stun gun. The G-men misidentified him as an Arab Muslim, but rather than admit they had made a mistake they shuffled him through 12 prisons seeking judges susceptible to national security claims.

Fair enough. This Administration does have issues when it comes to admitting screw-ups. But, let's be honest here - what Administration hasn't? Certainly not the previous one, which got to the point of questioning the meaning of the word "is" in its efforts to deflect blame and shirk responsibility.

McGrory also mentions Yaser Hamdi, who was, as we know, captured in Afghanistan while fighting with the Taliban against our forces. Which would, despite the bleats of McGrory and others, make him an "enemy combatant".

And the McGrory gets to the evils of the President's foreign policy. She begs for COngressional Democrats to say:

"Are you crazy? Isn't one war enough for you? Couldn't you just pretend to be evenhanded with the Israeli-Palestine question? Loathing of Arafat and affection for Sharon isn't exactly a policy. And if you tried to be fair, you would lower the world's temperature by 50 percent."

Evenhanded? How many times does it need to be said? Israel is our friend. The Palestinians are not. Ariel Sharon is the democratically elected leader of a libral democratic state; Yasser Arafat is a terrorist who rules a thugocratic pseudo-government, and who has in the past directly ordered the murder of American citizens. Evenhandedness is stupid. Evenhandness is wrong. Evenhandness is, plain and simple, madness.

And I'm not even going to dignify the insinuation that the President wants a war just for its own sake. McGrory may actually believe that, but that doesn't make it any more reasonable a thing to say.

She closes with this gem:

Democrats put curbs on their own free speech. It's because they are in a position where, as Franklin Pierce said, "the president himself announces to us that it is treasonable to speak or to write otherwise than as he may prescribe." Things will only get worse unless people speak out.

Um...people are speaking out. It's just that the folks who share McGrory's views aren't being listened to, because their arguments are vacuous or dishonest, and because they're not proposing any workable or rational alternatives to the policies that they criticize.

Like "evenhandedness". We did try that, remember? Our former President invited him to the White House repeatedly, and pushed Israel into concessions that had never been made in the country's history. And for that we got the new Intifada and hundreds of dead Israeli civillians. So when McGrory calls for a return to that policy, well, can any sane person be blamed for not wanting to listen?



Do They Have No Shame?

"They" being the Democratic Party, which makes it a question that really answers itself.

As Charles Austin notes, DNC chairweasel Terry McAuliffe (hey, that's about the kindest thing I could come up to call him) is blaming Florida Governor Jeb Bush for voting problems in Tuesday's Democratic primaries.

"This could not have turned out worse for Jeb Bush," Democratic chairman Terry McAuliffe said of the difficulties in Tuesday's voting. "It reminds everybody about how Al Gore was robbed in the last presidential election."

They're never going to shut up about 2000, no matter that Gore was not "robbed' in any conceivable sense of the word. He lost Florida. He lost every recount he demanded, even the ones that legally shouldn't have been done.

Anyway. The State of Florida spent $32 million to fix voting procedures, but several Democratically-controlled counties, where Democrats run the elections, had problems, notably Broward County.

So, just like the idiotic "butterfly ballot" nonsense back in 2000 (where a ballot designed by a Democrat and signed off by Democratic Party officials, and which grade schoolers could use without difficulty, caused problems for some elderly voters, and the Democrats blamed the evil, disenfrancshising Republicans for the whole situation. Of course), we have dishonest, demagoging Democrats blaming Republicans for their own miserable failures. I guess it shouldn't be a surprise by now.
What Are the Odds?

I believe in coincidences, and I don't think everything is conspiracy. But...

Last night, the New York Lottery's nighttime daily number was... you guessed it: 9-1-1.

Go figure.

9/11/2002

Daddy Speaks

Yes, President Bush Senior speaks out. And his topic: defending the CIA.

Says Daddy Bush:

Former President Bush said Monday he thinks the CIA was too harshly criticized for failing to alert authorities in advance of the Sept. 11 terror attacks.

"I know that we predicted from time to time that there would be insidious terror attacks but I was surprised by the magnitude of it," Bush said on NBC's "Today" program.

"What I didn't like was the blame game that followed: The CIA should have known, the CIA should have predicted. The FBI failed us," he said. "I mean, I get so irritated by these Monday morning quarterbacks who come rushing in with what should have happened."


Well, we do pay tens of billions of dollars a year for those agencies to prevent things like September 11th from happening.

And it certainly seems, from the information that's come out in the year since the attacks, that bureaucracy, internal politics and questionable management of both the CIA and FBI contributed to their inability to put together the information that was available about the attacks prior to September 11th. I consider that a failure, and it's disturbing that a former President (and CIA Director) doesn't.

Bush, a one-time director of the CIA, said he was glad that his son, President George W. Bush, kept George Tenet on as CIA director.

"It's not that the CIA is weak and no good," the elder Bush said. "It's not that you need to reorganize it. It's not that you need to put it all under some other roof. I have great confidence in the director of central intelligence and he is going to find ways to improve things."


Sure it needs to be reorganized! The CIA was built to fight the Cold War against the Soviet Union. It was not designed or staffed or structured to fight the sort of conflict we face now. The FBI was geared towards domestic law enforcement and investigation, not counter-terrorism. Both agencies could use some serious reorganization, of not outright disbanding and rebuilding from scratch, in order to perform the missions that are required of them today.

It's not like the current incarnation of the CIA was handed down by holy writ or anything, is it?

Bush also said he was worried about the effect on U.S.-Saudi relations of the war against terrorism.

"What I don't like is demonizing Saudi Arabia, " he said. "It's not true. They are not enemies of ours. And to come under that kind of criticism, I think, is ridiculous."


Well, they kind of are enemies. They fund and support fundamentalist Islamic organizations; they fund and support terrorists; they allow kidnapped American citizens to be held against their will and every principle of human decency, let alone international law, such as it is; they treat half their population as cattle, or worse; and on and on and on. Just because you're friends with Crown Prince Abdullah doesn't make Saudi Arabia a friend of the United States, and no amount of protesting will make it so.
More Recommended Reading

Regular readers will note that I've added a couple more sites to my link list. First, there's Susanna Cornett's excellent site Cut on the Bias; there's also Josh Kraushaar's aptly named All About Josh, and finally Kent Qian'sMightier Than The Sword, which permanantly linked me a while back, so linking him here is long overdue.

All are, of course, highy recommended.

Regular readers may also have noted that I dropped Media Whores Online from the list; that's because they're sociopaths over there, and I see no need to give them even the infintesimal promotion that could conceivably be attributed to their being linked here.

Thank you for your attention. Your regularly scheduled rants and screeds will resume shortly.
On A Much, Much Lighter Note

I found this at Greg Hlatky's site.

I think all good-hearted people would have to agree with him, as I do.
Vapid Redefined

Mo Dowd whines about a lot of things today, chiefly that we don't have definitive proof of the fate of Osama bin Laden.

I don't have the heart to detail her stupidity point by point; I'll leave that to others (Juan Gato can usually be counted on to do a good job of it, for one).

Weird

On the radio right now, they're playing a song called "Chest-Thumping". Someone took the tune and rythym of Chumbawumba's "Tubthumping" and replaced the words with a tribute to America and our response to September 11th ("We get knocked down but we're Americans, you'll never keep New York down".

Considering that Chumbawumba is a group of anarchists who, to judge by their lyrics and the liner notes of their albums, are not particular fans of American society or our government, it's kind of ironic that their song is being used thusly.

Not that I'm complaining; I just wonder of the folks who did it actually knew that.
This is Not Surprising

According to the WashPost, Democratis Congressional leaders are not convinced that the evidence is there to remove Saddam Hussein.

Congressional Democrats said yesterday that classified briefings by President Bush's top advisers have failed to make a compelling case for quick military action against Iraq, and several leaders said Congress should wait until after the November elections before voting to authorize a strike against Saddam Hussein's regime.

"I know of no information that the threat is so imminent from Iraq" that Congress cannot wait until January to vote on a resolution, said Minority Whip Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), the ranking Democrat on the House intelligence committee. "I did not hear anything today that was different about [Hussein's] capabilities," save a few embellishments."


Well, by my math, that gives Iraq four more months - at least, depending on how long the debate actually would take - to obtain nuclear weapons (if he doesn't already have them), and to make other plans to attack America, our forces elsewhere in the world, and our allies, both by himself, and through the terrorists he supports and funds.

That certainly makes sense, doesn't it?
Thinking About One Year Ago

This isn't going to be a big, long thing, because I'm not sure what to think exactly.

I was personally really lucky; I didn't know anyone who was killed last September 11th. My daily life wasn't affected in a material way; I haven't had to make any sacrifices, I've been (as far as I know) in no danger from terrorist threats. My 401K didn't do well, but there isn't much money in there, and it wasn't doing well before the terrorist attacks, so I can't complain about that.

I was on the Metro when the attacks happened; I had no idea until I emerged at the White Flint station and called the folks who were supposed to meet me there, to be told that "we're at war." I got to their office, and everyone was watching TV. Nobody knew what was going on; the reports were very confused.

When I see video or photos of the planes crashing into the WTC, I feel physically ill, and I want the people who did it, and the people who supported them, and the ones who cheered in the streets about it, to be destroyed. I'm pretty sure I'm always going to feel that way, and I can't see that there's anything wrong with that.

That's it from me; there are people far more eloquent than I who will say much more profound things, and there are people who were personally affected by the attacks, people who lost friends or loved ones, who have standing to talk about it in a way that I don't, and I'll leave it to them.

9/10/2002

Pot, Kettle, Black

Eric Alterman rarely ceases to amaze. Just when you think he can'tpossibly be any more dishonest, disingenuous, and hypocritical, he finds a way.

Today, he's whining that Salon has brought Andrew Sullivan on as a columnist.

Alterman doesn't like Sullivan, who, along with David Horowitz:

regularly poison(s) our discourse by engaging in false character assassination, deliberate distortion, and mindless, hateful hysterics toward those with whom they disagree.

Funny, that sounds a lot like Alterman himself. In the very next paragraph, while whining about Joe Conason's approval of the hiring of Sullizan by Salon, Alterman says:

To say Sullivan is no Coulter, as Conason does, is damn faint praise indeed. Mussolini was not Hitler. David Duke is not Osama bin Laden. So what?

Can I be the first to call Godwin's Law and declare the argument over?

Ann Coulter = Hitler and bin Laden; Andrew Sullivan = Mussolini and David Duke. That's not character assassination, distortion or hateful hysterics. Not at all. Thanks for clarifying that, Eric.


I Don't Really Condone Assault and Battery, But...

According to the L.A. Times, astronaut Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin hit a man in the face, after the man, Bart Sibrel, challenged Aldrin to swear on a Bible that he had really walked on the Moon in 1969.

Sibrel is a moron...uh...person who does not believe that America went to the Moon.

There are two principles in conflict here: the right of freedom of speech (and the right to be an idiot) versus the crying need that some people clearly have to be smacked in the head repeatedly, until some sense seeps into their brains.

Even though what he allegedly did was against the law, I think I have to side with Buzz on this one

(originally found on Instapundit)
Yasser, Yasser, Wherefore Art Thou?

Jeff durkin notes this story about Yasser Arafat's brand spanking new condemnation of attacks on civillians in Israel.

Jeff points out that Yasser, Partner for Peace(tm) that he is:

left open the possibility of attacks on civilians in the Territories. That's very humanitarian of him, isn't it?

Well, yeah.

There's also the point that Yasser and his thugs nave never honored, or even come within spitting ditance of honoring any agreement or pledge they've ever made, and there isn't the slightest reason for any sane person to believe that he or his thugs are about to start now.

Other than that little detail, I'm sure it's a wonderful step forward for the peace process.
Richard Cohen: Idiot

OK, so it's not an original title. But that doesn't make it any less true. Let's look at the latest nonsense extruded from the brain of the WashPost's resident fool (well, one of them, anyway):

The Vietnam Syndrome is not dead. Certainly the United States is no longer gun-shy -- the Gulf War proved that -- but a different Vietnam Syndrome not only lives but seems to be thriving: the willingness of Washington to exaggerate the threat. This is happening now with Iraq.

Really. And you know this because...?

Right; you don't know it, but it's a way to work Vietnam into the discussion, so that's OK.

Not that Iraq is no threat. Under Saddam Hussein, it has twice invaded neighbors -- Iran and Kuwait -- and used chemical weapons against both foreign and domestic enemies. It also has biological weapons and is trying to secure nuclear weapons. If it gets the latter, the entire balance of power in the Middle East will be changed -- and for the worse.

It's also supported and continues to support terrorists, may be connected to the September 11th attacks, and on and on and on. It's also reneged from day one on the promises it made as part of the cease fire that ended the Gulf War. Any of which by itself is reason enough to remove Saddam Hussein.

But there is no -- that's no -- evidence that Iraq has nuclear weapons. Intelligence suggests, in fact, that Iraq is five or so years away from either securing or developing a bomb. The nuclear threat is not an imminent one, and it is not one, in any case, directed at the United States. We are a world away and have ample means to retaliate. Iraq would cease to exist.

And we know this because...?

Oh, right, we don't. The last time inspectors were in Iraq was 1998.

And that five year estimate? Hey, Richard! Are you willing to bet your life on it? I'm not willing to let you bet mine on it.

And the threat of annihilation...well, that's great. But is that really the best policy? Wait until Iraq obtains the ability to kill several hundred thousand of us in one go, and then kill them all when they actually go ahead and do it? That's madness.

So what explains the Chicken Little remarks made by Bush administration spokesmen on the Sunday TV shows? In the formulation of Vice President Cheney, Iraq somehow morphed into the old Soviet Union: "If we have reason to believe someone is preparing an attack against the U.S., has developed that capability, harbors those aspirations, then I think the United States is justified in dealing with that, if necessary, by military force." You bet.

Chicken Little? No. It's their job to assess the threats against us, and to defend against them. Part of the job, you know.

But what is the evidence that Iraq is preparing to launch an attack on the United States? There is none. And just how would Iraq accomplish such a thing? With its Al-Hussein missiles, which have a range of about 390 miles? With its Al-Samoud missiles, which have a range of about 90 miles? Or maybe in a suitcase brought in by terrorists? Some suitcase that would be.

This is so stupid that words fail me.

The "suitcase bomb" has been one of the primary arguments by opponents of missile defense, along with the shipping container bomb, etc. If Cohen doesn't believe that's a legitimate threat, he's a fool.

Besides which, the threat is not just to the continental U.S., but to American forces in the middle east. And, of course, to Israel. What d'ya think, Rich? A nuke lobbed into downtown Tel Aviv, do you consider that something we ought to try and prevent from happening?

National security adviser Condoleezza Rice, also reading from the administration's playbook, echoed Cheney on CNN. "I don't think anyone wants to wait for the 100 percent surety that [Saddam Hussein] has a weapon of mass destruction that can reach the United States," she said. Once again: You bet. But again, what's the proof (1) that Saddam has such a weapon, (2) that he has the means to deliver it, and (3) that suicide of this sort is his intention?

Cohen doesn't want to wait until Saddam has nukes. But he does want to wait until we have absolute proof that he has it, can deliver it, and plans to do so. How's that work, exactly? Maybe Saddam will send out a fax? A press release? A CNN news conference?

Or maybe Manhattan, or downtown DC, or Tel Aviv will just get vaporized one day, and we'll have hundreds of thousands dead. Then we'll have proof, and we'll have Richard Cohen's approval to go after Iraq.

I have always thought there is a plausible case for going to war against Iraq. But the more I hear from the administration -- the more it exaggerates its case and turns a potential threat against the region into an imminent one against Peoria, Ill. -- the more I have to wonder if such a case exists. From everything I know, Cheney and Rice are taking a worst-case scenario further than the facts warrant.

From everything you know. Is there a unit of measure for something that small?

I concede that I don't know everything -- and no one can be certain about what goes on in Iraq. But I can find no one with any expertise who thinks Iraq has an imminent nuclear capability. Similarly, I can find no one who thinks Iraq is directly linked to al Qaeda and thus to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11. If this is wrong, then the Bush administration ought to come right out and say so -- and offer proof.

Well, if you're not looking outside your pals on the WashPost editorial page or Mo Dowd's house, no, I guess you won't find anyone who thinks that. But so what?

Back to the Vietnam Syndrome. The old one is gone. The dire predictions that preceded the Gulf War or the one in Afghanistan were not proved true. The Arab street did not erupt. But just as we were once hobbled by a reluctance to use force, the easy wars of the recent past have given us a certain cockiness.

As evidenced by what, exactly?

Oh, right. Nothing. But since when does Richard Cohen need evidence?

War is still a messy business, though, and almost anything can happen. It's conceivable we could have a so-called regime change in Iraq -- and in Jordan and Saudi Arabia, moderate regimes basically friendly with the United States, as well. If the new rulers are Jeffersonian democrats, terrific. But if they are religious fundamentalists, then we only will have traded one headache for another -- and long lines at the gas station to boot.

Well, if Richard has to wait at the gas station, that's a reason not to act.

And the Saudis a "friendly" and "moderate" regime? Cohen's idiocy knows no bounds.

Iraq must be dealt with. But the trap must be closed methodically. Bring back the arms inspectors. Vacuum the country. If Saddam agrees, fine. If he doesn't, then war becomes his choice -- and the world will understand.

The inspectors were thrown out by Iraq four years ago and not allowed back in. The sanctions regime has been violated since day one. The only point of trying to get inspectors back in is to allow Iraq and the U.N. bureaucrats to argue over the shape of the negotiating table for six months, and drag the process out endlessly. And if inspectors are sent back in, why would any rational person believe that they would be any more successful than the last time they were there?

But by its warnings without evidence, by its penchant for unilateralism and by its initial disregard for Congress, the Bush administration is sowing seeds of doubt. The palpable urgency of this administration to go to war is, at this moment, just downright inexplicable. It either is failing to make its case or, worse, has no case to make. I'm ready for war -- but just tell me again why.

The case has been made. You just aren't paying attention, or don't want to hear it.
Bleat, Bleat, Bleat

Helen Thomas doesn't like what's been going on in America since last September 11th. She bleats all about it in a column today:

We are still trying to fathom the depths of the hatred that brought this incredible catastrophe to our land and transformed our lives. The fallout from the tragedy, with its senseless loss of life, will be felt for years to come. Indeed, it was a sad turning point for America.

As others have pointed out, it was not a "tragedy". It was an act of war. What happened to the victims was tragic. But they were murdered by our enemies. It was not some random act of God like an earthquake or volcano.

Since then, we have learned some truths about ourselves. Happily, one is that we as a nation will always rally together in a crisis and meet the challenges. But another is that our image in the eyes of others is not what it is to us. Many see us as arrogant and uncaring about the rest of the world.

When has this not been true? Look at what was being said about us before September 11th? Look at what was said about us when Ronald Reagan was President and he built up the military and directly challenged the Soviet Union.

The surprise assault on Sept. 11 made us realize that we are no longer protected by two oceans and that we could be as vulnerable to outside attacks as any small nation.

Something we should have learned in 1993, and 1994, and 1998, and 2000 with the various terrorst attacks against us. But we didn't, because the President then in power didn't take them seriosuly (well, the '94 attack was by an American, so that was taken very seriously. Attacks by Muslim fanatics, however, were not treated with much concern by the administration of the former Narcissist-in-Chief)

In the early days after our siege, President George W. Bush found a sympathetic world anxious to help. Foreign leaders seemed willing t overlook his earlier appalling approach to foreign policy -- repudiating some environmental and collective security agreements. For a time, Bush became an internationalist in search of allies.

The ABM treaty, whose other signatory no longer exists. And Kyoto, about which too much has already been said. Yada, yada, yada.

Soon, however, with his conservative advisers egging him on, he proclaimed a new doctrine that smacks of old imperialism -- that we have the right to strike militarily anywhere without provocation.

This policy of preemption -- might is right -- is antithetical to what America has always stood for -- "magnanimity in victory," as Winsto Churchill once put it, helping our former enemies and rejecting policies dictated by vengeance.


Preemption is not vengeance. It is preventing further attacks on the American people. And you can't have "magnanimity in victory" until you have victory!

Many people of all ages found their natural self-confidence temporarily shattered. Significant segments of the population -- particularly Arabs and Muslims -- are viewed with suspicion: Stereotyping and racial profiling are back in style.

Americans of Middle Eastern heritage were outraged when Peter Kirsanow, a conservative member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, reportedly suggested in July that the public would support their detention in internment camps if there is another Arab terrorist attack on the United States.

The Detroit Free Press reported he made the remarks at a commission hearing, predicting in effect that these citizens would be treated in the same egregious way that Japanese Americans were during World War II.

The Free Press quoted Kirsanow as saying later he personally did not support such camps. He also said after the article appeared that it had misinterpreted his remarks, a charge the paper denied.

When I talked recently to a commission spokeswoman, she called the comments "unfortunate." But the damage was done. Many Arab and Muslim Americans felt that such a scenario is possible and that they might be the victims.


Um...the attacks were carried out entirely by Arabs who had been living among us. So it's possible that the increased suspicion is understandable, and not a damning indictment of the American people.

As for the comments of Mr. Kirsanow, however awful they are, and I think that Helen deliberately is misinterperting them, they are the comments of one individual. So what?

The fact is, our government has bent over backwards to show concern for the rights of our Arab-American and Muslim citizens. Administritaion officials from the President on down have said over and over and over that Arabs are not our enemy, that Arab-Americans are just like the rest of our citizenry and must be treated with the same respect and decency that every American should treat their fellow citizens with. I guess Helen missed that.

To meet potential threats, the federal government has tightened security at airports, borders and public buildings. It created colored alerts to show degrees of danger, but they only left people unsure of where to hide and what to be afraid of.

I'll agree, this has been handled horribly. But here's a question: if they hadn't started the warning system, would Helen be whining about the government not warning the populace of potential terrorist threats? I'm guessing yes.

Also in the name of security, the Justice Department has taken more intrusive measures such as listening in on conversations between lawyers and clients in terrorism cases and going to court more often to get approval for wiretaps and access to e-mail.

Going to court to get approval for wiretaps. Wow, that's really the harbinger of a police state. Seems to me that if they weren't going to court for the wiretaps, that would be the problem.

The government has designated hundreds of fighters captured in Afghanistan as "detainees" and denied them prisoner-of-war rights under the Geneva Accords.

Could that be because they're not enemy soldiers under the Geneva Convention, because they're not in uniform, and they're using civillians as shields, two things that are specifically prohibited by the Convention?

Federal officials are more tightly scrutinizing would-be immigrants. And the government is employing wholesale deportations, ruling out appeals to the courts by detainees found in violation of visa laws.

Looking more closely at who we want to let into our country is bad? Do we not have the right to try and make sure that our borders are reasonably safe?

And deporting immigrants who break the laws? Apparently in Helen's world, we don't even have the right to enforce our own laws. I think that says it all, really.

Nothing but garbage, top to bottom. I suppose we can't expect any better from Helen.

9/09/2002

Objective? Unbiased?

Well, that's how the rabid partisans at Media Whores Online bill themselves and their site.

Which of course explains this bit of psychotic ramting this morning:

The George W. Bush Administration is today embroiled in what may be the greatest scandal yet in its brief history -- successfully getting support from Britain's Prime Minister Tony Blair for an imminent attack of Iraq on the basis of a blatantly phony reading of intelligence photographs and of an old report from U.N. atomic energy agency.

"I don't know what more evidence we need," Bush said, brandishing the photos in front of the British leader, and claiming that the 1998 U.N. report said that Saddam Hussein was six months away from building nuclear weapons.

Blair fell for it.

But as NBC reports, and the Washington Post confirms, the U.N. report in question emphatically did NOT say what Bush claimed it did.

As for the photos, there was and is, contrary to news reports, no specific building that caused any concern, according to the U.N. agency that released the pictures. Although the photos -- taken by a commercial enterprise -- show new construction, there is NO evidence that it is related to new nuclear-related operations in Iraq.

In preparations for Bush's September 12 speech to the U.N., the Administration appears to have taken a leaf from the Cuban missile crisis forty years ago, when Ambassador Adlai Stevenson provided incontrovertible proof from intelligence photographs that the Soviets had placed nuclear weapons in Cuba.

But Stevenson's photos were authentic, undoctored, and clear proof.

The Bush photos have no clear proof of anything. The Bushies are just making it up!

Sources in London tell MWO that Prime Minister Blair, who fell for the ruse, has been "very embarrassed" by the incident.

In Washington, expert observers pointed out that the shill bears the fingerprints of Vice President Dick Cheney. Last month, Cheney delivered a hawkish speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars, charging that only an attack on Iraq right now would rid the world of the Hussein menace. Now, say observers, Cheney and his supporters may be trying to find whatever evidence they can, and skew it if necessary, to back up his case.

"Look, Dick Cheney cooked the books when he was head of Halliburton," one expert, who declined to be identified for this article, said. "Now he's cooking the photos on Iraq. Looks like Cheney's work."


They refer to this WashPost article, which pointedly does not say what MWO claims it does:

The joint mention of a "new" report apparently referred to articles in Friday's New York Times and yesterday's British press. They noted that satellite photos obtained by the IAEA indicated new construction at several sites identified as nuclear-related and dismantled during pre-1998 inspections.

But a spokeswoman at IAEA headquarters said yesterday that the agency has issued no new report. She said the newspaper accounts referred to commercially available images the agency made available in July in a presentation that elicited little media interest.

"We didn't want to make a big deal of it, because we have no idea whether it means anything," spokeswoman Melissa Fleming said of the photos. "Construction of a building is one thing. Restarting a nuclear program is another."

"We have a lot of commercial satellite imagery" indicating "that there has been construction at sites that were formerly nuclear," Fleming said. "But what that means, we don't know."


There's a difference between the IAEA claiming that it doesn't know what the photos mean, and that the President is just "making it up." Not that MWO or its target audience would care about such a distinction.

I'm also curious who its "London sources", "observers" and "experts" are.

Not by name, obviously, but something more than the vague non-identification that MWO's using. Experts from the Pentagon? The CIA? Are the London sources from the U.S. State Department, or from the British government, or from private think-tanks?

Anonymity is one thing; entirely unsourced accusations with nothing whatsoever to back them up is quite another.

Could it be that MWO is just making up these so-called "experts" as part of their ongoing, dishonest attack campaign against all things Republican?

My sources say that's exactly what's happening.
Good Words

Two good articles this morning from Greg Hlatky at A Dog's Life.

First is his take on recent self serving comments from the former Narcisist-in-Chief (I suppose that's redundant):

(Quoting Clinton)"During my administration, we succeeded in ending North Korea's nuclear programme and its testing of long range missiles. At the end of my second term, we came close to an agreement to end its missile programme entirely. The key to the final agreement was to be a presidential visit to North Korea. I was willing to go, but in the last few weeks of my administration we had to focus all our energies on the apparent chance to achieve a Middle East peace agreement. I decided not to risk this chance by taking a trip that would have had to include South Africa, China, and Japan."(End Clinton Quote)

Damn you! Damn you, you syphilitic roué, you rancid tub of solipsism, you stuprous slave of your hormones, you fungus that lives off pond scum, you prevaricating confidence-man! May the chancres you acquired from one of your trailer-trash strumpets never heal. How dare you use this somber time to buff up your record! The only thing I forever again want to hear from you is this:

"I was President of the United States for eight years. I might have, but failed to prevent this atrocity. For that I will feel the deepest shame for the rest of my days."


There's nothing I can say to that, except: Bravo!

Greg also notes this:

The headline to a leader in the Daily Mirror, Britain's stupidest newspaper: " BLAIR MUST STEP BACK FROM BUSH BLOODLUST"

Were the United States or its President motivated by "bloodlust," this war would have been over by midnight, September 11, 2001.


Again, I agree completely.
Celebrating Pettiness and Boorishness

Salon's got an article up this morning about "forbidden" reactions to the events of September 11th.

Not forbidden in the sense of "it was really a CIA/MOSSAD/Trilaterial Commission plot" or "we brought it on ourselves through years of evil foreign policy."

No, they're talking about more personal, and more petty, things: like the person who's quoted as saying:

"I was actually moving the week of 9/11 and I just wanted to find a way to get out of work so I could pack. When the attack happened, I was thinking, This is so cool. I can go to the dentist and still have time to get everything done."

The author argues that preserving these kind of reactions is ipmortant:

Many of us didn't just feel sad or angry or proud in the face of the day's horrors -- or when President Bush and the media requested it. We also felt indifferent, confused, selfish, annoyed and, in some cases, even happy or excited. We had thoughts that we couldn't explain or control, thoughts we didn't express, except perhaps in whispered conversations.

A few rebellious thinkers with access to the media actually unleashed their forbidden thoughts, electrifying and infuriating a tender and almost universally righteous public. Some of these blurters issued contrite retractions, a few held firm in the face of public denunciation, sure to earn footnotes in future histories of the events.

All these forbidden thoughts are sometimes painful or mortifying to hear. Many could be accurately described as disgraceful. But they emerged from our mental ether, and they deserve to be part of the record of that day and its aftermath. They are necessary evils to be countenanced in an honest analysis of the time. They keep us from creating a distorted, overly sentimental picture of our national reaction to disaster. And perhaps, as in therapy, these are the most useful thoughts to confront as we attempt to recover from the violence of the day.


All of us are, at times, spiteful, petty, obnoxious, stupid, hateful, selfish, thoughless, uncaring, cruel, or pick-your-own-negative-adjective. Most of us, I hope, try our best not to be those things as best we can. But we sometimes do behave in those ways, or at least think in those ways, and we are - properly - embarrassed by them.

I guess I don't see the necessity, or the value, of going out of our way to document all the ways in which people reacted less-than-ideally to September 11th. Some people thought, or did, very selfish or disrespectful things (I'm not saying here that there is any one "right" way to act or think, but "This is so cool. I don't have to go to work", I think, is pretty awful). But why is it important to dwell on that?

9/08/2002

Well, Yeah

Via Susanna Cornett and Junkyard Blog comes this analysis from UPI:

"When the Europeans demand some sort of veto over American actions, or want us to subordinate our national interest to a UN mandate, they forget that we do not think their track record is too good," a senior U.S. diplomat said recently in private. "The Europeans told us they could win the Balkans wars all on their own. Wrong. They told us that the Russians would never accept National Missile Defense. Wrong. They said the Russians would never swallow NATO enlargement. Wrong. They told us 20 years ago that détente was the way to deal with what we foolishly called the Evil Empire. Wrong again. They complain about our Farm Bill when they are the world's biggest subsidizers of their agriculture. The Europeans are not just wrong; they are also hypocrites. They are wrong on Kyoto, wrong on Arafat, wrong on Iraq -- so why should we take seriously a single word they say?"

Maybe,sometimes, even if "everybody in the world" is disagreeing with us, we're not the ones who are wrong. Just a thought.
More on the Media

The story from Editor & Publisher commented upon here yesterday has made the rounds of the blogosphere; my favorite take on it so far is from Susanna Cornett at Cut on the Bias.

Great stuff; check it out.
Are You Ready For Some Football?

Well, I certainly am. Despite the brutal, last minute loss by my Giants (hey, Coach Fassel, why didn't you call your timeouts sooner on San Fran's last drive so that we'd have had a little more time to try and come back at the end?) on Thursday night, I'm still excitied by the opening of a new NFL season.

(by the way, the folks running baseball could learn a thing or two from the NFL's big Kickoff Weekend festivities, which included a hige party in Times Square, a nationally televised season opening game, and a huge advertising blitz promoting all the good things about the game)

Oh, and by the way, for any readers who might care, the Empire's Super Bowl pick is Indianapolis over Tampa Bay.
More From the Post

The lead editorial in today's WashPost (unfortnately not available on their website at the moment) is entitled "Republicans for Loose Nukes"

Great headline.

The article describes the recent seizure of 100 pounts of weapons-grade uranium from Yugoslavia in an U.S. led operation last month.

It then notes that current federal law prohibits federal funds to be used for more such operations (this one was funded by a private group, the Nuclear Threat Initiative).

The article then notes:

"Legislation sponsored by Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Indiana) that would begin to address this problem has passed the Senate"

However, it's being opposed by "some House Republicans".

The nature of and reasons for their opposition are not given, nor are the number of Republican opponents (or Democratic opponents, or Republican supporters in the House, for that matter).

The Post may well be right that opposing this legislation is a Bad Thing, but since a Republican is in fact one of the sponsors, the headline "Republicans for Loose Nukes" in nice big type, is at best misleading, and might well be actively dishonest.

But of course there's no bias in the Post. Not a bit.
So There's No Dissent?

Yeah, debate is really being quashed. That certainly explains this piece, the front page story in the Outlook section of today's WashPost, by Post associate editor Robert Kaiser.

(incidentally, one more time, on the unlikely chance that anybody from the Post sees this: your popup ads really, really, REALLY suck1 They make Netscape crash, and I promise that I will never buy anything from any of the sponsors of the ads)

Anyway, Kaiser recaputilates pretty much all the criticisms of the President and his policy since September 11th. I don't disagree with all of them, but there's a lot here that just isn't true, but that, through repition, has gained the status of conventional wisdom regardless.

He opens thusly:

Why has the administration now chosen to neglect its friends as it pursues its enemies -- or rather, the enemy most easily targeted Saddam Hussein?

Why is the United States flirting with a new doctrine of preemptive war so radical it has no precedent in international law or American history -- and why hasn't this flirtation provoked our politicians to conduct a serious national debate, first of all in Congress?


Well, Congress has scheduled hearings on Iraq, and there have been regular briefings from the Administration to Congress, so that particular objection is just nonsense. And is not this article, and the many others just like it that have been appearing for a couple of months now, not evidence of precisely the national debate that Mr. Kaiser wants?

As for why we're targeting an "easily targeted" enemy, Kaiser answers his own question. If you have several enemies, it makes sense to go after them one at a time rather than all at once, if that's possible, and to go after the easiest ones first.

And as for our "radical" new doctrine, well, we fought a 10+ year long undeclared war in Vietnam, and we invaded Grenada and Panama without the support of international law, so maybe it's not such a radical notion after all. Forget about the merits for a moment, the idea that this is some sort of unprecedented development is just absurd.

He then goes on to note that the war isn't going well:

Since then the war hasn't gone very well. Key al Qaeda leaders remain at large, presumably including bin Laden, though he may be dead. With or without him, our enemy can still operate. A new U.N. study concludes that "al Qaeda is by all accounts 'fit and well' and poised to strike again at its leisure." It is sobering to consider how much we still don't know about al Qaeda.

This is true. But it's also not the damning failure for the Administration that Kaiser paints it as. Al Qaeda is not like a national enemy with all its soldiers in uniform, and with clearly identified territory and military assets that can be attacked. We've known this all along. And while it's true that we still don't know much about it - because we haven't been able to infiltrate their ranks with our intelligence services - it's absurd to have expected otherwise. It's not like a James Bond movie, where we can sent a couple of CIA agents in with fake beards and dodgy accents to penetrate the group so that we can pinpoint their Evil Hideout and wipe them out in one go. Get real.

Kaiser then goes on to the litany of things that we've done wrong diplomatically:

Beginning with the December decision to withdraw from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, a succession of policy choices revived the administration's reputation for unilateralism and infuriated old allies...The ABM Treaty decision particularly upset the French and Germans, who considered the pact the foundation of nuclear arms control.

Well, I'm sorry, but you know what? Neither the French nor the German were even parties to that treaty. And the primary purpose of that treaty, to stabilize the Mutual Assured Destruction doctrine between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, is no longer relevant, and in any case the other signatory of the treaty no longer exists. I'm sorry that this offends so many people in the world, but this is one case where they really shouldn't have a say, because they are not parties to the treaty and have no standing to criticize our actions in that regard.

He then moves on the the Middle East:

But the most important decision that fed our allies' anxiety about revived American unilateralism was last June's change of course on the Middle East. For many years the United States and its allies have differed on how best to achieve an Israeli-Palestinian peace; the United States has long been more sympathetic to Israeli governments than many Europeans have. But there was a qualitative change during the last year. The context for it was the war on terrorism...This past spring, the intensification of violence from suicide bombings and Israeli retaliations created a Middle East crisis. Ariel Sharon and his colleagues used the crisis to press their view that the Palestinians killing Israelis were no different from the Egyptians and Saudis who flew airplanes into the World Trade Center and Pentagon. Yasser Arafat, the Palestinian leader, "is our bin Laden," Sharon said.

And Sharon is right. Israel is our friend. The Palestinians are not. The years of trying to be "even-handed" might have garnered approval from the elites of Europe, but all they got in the Middle East was more dead Israelis, and contempt for us from the Arab states. Remember that the planning for the September 11 attacks began in 1999, when President Clinton was pushing Ehud Barak for ever-greater concessions, and receiving Yasser Arafat at the White House. So much for trying to reach out to the Palestinians.

The sad fact is that, on this one, even if the rest of the world is against us, they're wrong. They may all consider Israel a "shittly little country" as a French diplomat put it, and they may all consider Ariel Sharon a war criminal, and the Palestinians innocent, tormented victims. But that doesn't make it so.

I haven't included the whole Kaiser article here, mostly for brevity. And he does make some good points - notably that the Administration hasn't been clear enough on many aspects of the war. But most of the criticisms are overblown, or simply wrong.