Tuesday, August 31, 2004

The Election - The Republican Convention

Dick Morris looks at the contrasts New York brings into focus in It all starts here; The Sept. 11 angle of Bush's campaign
Holding the convention in Madison Square Garden highlights the linkage between Bush and Sept. 11, the most important moment of his presidency. By featuring speakers such as Rudy Giuliani, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Ed Koch, Bush implicitly recalls the day on which he truly became president, overcoming his narrow victory and his loss of the popular vote, to lead a united nation in a new and bold direction...

The contrast between the patriotism, inclusiveness and sincerity of speakers such as Arnold Schwarzenegger, John McCain, Giuliani and Zell Miller and the hubbub outside the Garden will be vivid for the viewer at home.

The War in Iraq - Our Friends the French

The Belmont Club has a round-up of stories on the French journalists taken hostage in Iraq, as well as some cogent analysis:
If the French are not seeking to pay monetary or some other type of ransom to obtain the release of the two Frenchmen kidnapped by Iraqi terrorists nothing in their actions of the past few days makes sense...But the descent of so many French diplomats on Middle Eastern capitals suggests it is trying to cut a political deal with the terrorists and their backers. Since France has ruled out rescinding the headscarf ban to preserve the appearance of amour propre, the obvious alterntive is to make someone else make concessions. That someone will probably be Iraq.
The French have supposed that their opposition to the war would insulate them ("The Muslim Brotherhood demands that the two French journalists kidnapped in Iraq be freed, especially as there is no proof of their involvement in any activity against law and order, but rather they were participating in exposing the occupation and its practices,") but it won't. They would be well served to heed the advice of Iraqi Prime Minister Allawi:
"None of the civilized countries can escape," he said, noting "there is no possible neutrality, as shows the kidnapping of the French journalists." "The French deluded themselves if they would hope to stay outside,"

The Democratic Party - Questions of Patriotism

James Taranto has a piece in the WSJ about the Democratic Party's patriotism problem:
To say that the Democrats have a problem with patriotism is not to say that they are unpatriotic. But they are awfully defensive about their patriotism. "Of course the vice president is questioning my patriotism," Michael Dukakis fumed during a 1988 presidential debate. "And I resent it." After Sen. Max Cleland of Georgia lost his 2002 re-election bid, it became part of Democratic (and journalistic) folklore that he owed his ouster to GOP attacks on his patriotism. And last month in Boston, Mr. Kerry declared: "We have an important message for those who question the patriotism of Americans who offer a better direction for our country. . . . We are here to affirm that when Americans stand up and speak their minds and say America can do better, that is not a challenge to patriotism; it is the heart and soul of patriotism."

In fact, these men had been criticized by their GOP opponents not over patriotism but over policy: Gov. Dukakis's veto of a Pledge of Allegiance bill, Sen. Cleland's vote against creating the Homeland Security Department over the absence of union privileges for workers in the new agency, and Sen. Kerry's 19-year record on defense, especially his vote last year against funding the military and reconstruction efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The Democrats continually claim that their patriotism is being questioned. When pressed for specific examples, they point to disagreements over their policies. Attacking someone's record on an issue does not equate to an attack on that person's patriotism. On the other hand, Democrats, as illustrated by the examples in Mr. Taranto's article, frequently resort to direct attacks on their opponents patriotism.
Contrast this with the way Republicans responded during the primary season when Democrats did question their patriotism. "I'm tired of Karl Rove and Dick Cheney and a bunch of people who went out of their way to avoid their chance to serve [in the military] when they had the chance," Mr. Kerry declared in April. Earlier, Wesley Clark refused to renounce a supporter's claim that Mr. Bush was a "deserter." And Howard Dean flatly stated: "John Ashcroft is not a patriot."

Republicans didn't care--and why should they? No one seriously believes Messrs. Ashcroft, Bush, Cheney and Rove are unpatriotic. When Messrs. Clark, Dean and Kerry question their opponents' patriotism, it has some mild shock value but carries no real sting, like a child trying out a naughty word he's just learned.
I think psychologists refer to this as "transference".


Friday, August 27, 2004

Swiftvets - Kerry's First Purple Heart

One of the Swiftvet charges is that Kerry's first Purple Heart was awarded for an unitentionally self-inflicted wound. Kerry fired off a grenade too close to the boat he was on and was hit by a piece of shrapnel. The Kerry campaign subsequently backtracked, admitting that the wound might have been self-inflicted. Now the charge is bolstered by the testimony of retired Rear Adm. William L. Schachte Jr. as reported here by Robert Novak (the entire transcript of Admiral Schachte's comments is here). Back in 1968, Schachte was a lieutenant in Kerry's unit and claims that he was onboard with Kerry when the incident happened.
"I was absolutely in the skimmer" in the early morning on Dec. 2, 1968, when Lt. (j.g.) John Kerry was involved in an incident that led to his first Purple Heart.

"Kerry nicked himself with a M-79 [grenade launcher]," Schachte said in a telephone interview from his home in Charleston, S.C. He said, "Kerry requested a Purple Heart."

Schachte, a lieutenant, said he was in command of the small boat called a Boston whaler or skimmer, with Kerry aboard in his first combat mission in the Vietnam War. The third crew member was an enlisted man, whose name Schachte did not remember.

Schachte, in fact developed the operation Kerry was on, which involved the use of a small boat, a Boston whaler with an outboard motor, operating very close to shore to flush out enemy forces so that the larger swift boats could move in.
Around 3 a.m. on Dec. 2, Schachte said, the skimmer -- code-named "Batman" -- fired a hand-held flare. He said that after Kerry's M-16 rifle jammed, the new officer picked up the M-79 and, "I heard a 'thunk.' There was no fire from the enemy," he said.

The Kerry campaign, and by his silence on the issue, Kerry himself, had previously held that Schachte was not present, but testimony from other members of the unit does not support that.
Patrick Runyon and William Zaladonis are the two enlisted men who said they were aboard the skimmer and did not know Schachte. However, two other former officers interviewed Thursday confirmed that Schachte was the originator of the technique and always was aboard the Boston whaler for these missions.

Grant Hibbard, who as a lieutenant commander was Schachte's superior officer, confirmed that Schachte always went on these skimmer missions and said, "I don't think he [Kerry] was alone" on his first assignment. Hibbard said he had told Kerry to "forget it" when he asked for a Purple Heart.

Ted Peck, another swift boat commander, said, "I remember Bill [Schachte] telling me it didn't happen" -- that is, Kerry getting an enemy-inflicted wound. He said it would be "impossible" for Kerry to have been in the skimmer without Schachte.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Media Bias - Presenting both sides

The Left is always ranting about imaginary conservative media bias (e.g., Fox News and conservative talk radio) despite admissions by its own side of an overwhelming liberal media bias.

Within the last week, conservative bastion The Wall Street Journal has presented two opinion pieces defending John Kerry's war record. One here by Jim Rassman, the Special forces soldier Kerry pulled from a river in Viet Nam, and one here by Albert Hunt.

It would be nice to see the New York Times do this once in a while. And no, David Brooks doesn't count.

Old Europe - VDH in the WSJ

Victor David Hanson discusses the elite of Old Europe and their desperate hope that Kerry will win.
"Europeans casually talk of the Kerry rapprochement to come, as if in their magnanimity they have given us one last chance to return to sobriety. They exude a bold confidence, even to strangers, that the brightened prospects of the Democratic challenger are proof that America has seen the European light and therefore, of course, Mr. Kerry must win. Never has Europe been so emotionally involved in an American election--and never to their peril have they read us so wrong."

"The American public now wants to be told exactly why thousands in their undermanned military are stationed in a continent larger and richer than our own without conventional enemies on its borders. If Europeans think it is nonsensical to connect Iraq with our own post 9/11 security, then Americans believe it is far more absurd to envision an American-led NATO patrolling their skies and roads 15 years after a nearby hostile empire collapsed--especially when NATO turns out to be as isolationist as America is expected to be engaged abroad."

Genocide in the Sudan - "Sudan massacres are not genocide", says EU

It's merely a case of
"...widespread, silent and slow killing and village burning of a fairly large scale. "
according to Pieter Feith, an adviser to the EU's foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, as reported in the Guardian .

The EU refuses to recognize the ongoing genocide since that would require it act under the genocide convention adopted by the UN in 1948. A similar semantic tactic was adopted by then-President Clinton to avoid having to intervene in Rwanda.

It's time that Americans realize that the UN and most of Europe are irrelevant. The UN, under the leadership of France, failed to enforce its own resolutions in Iraq and now the Franco-German axis is playing word games to avoid carrying out a duty that is one of the cornerstones of its existence.

Sunday, August 08, 2004

Swiftboat Veterans for Truth

Captain's Quarters reprints the response of Swiftboat Veterans for Truth to attempts by the DNC to silence them. I thought that the ad itself was devastating, but the facts behind it, as laid out in the response are even more so. The whole thing is worth reading, but here are some of the hilights:

The injury for which Kerry received his first Purple Heart was a tiny fragment of shrapnel from a grenade Kerry fired in the absence of enemy fire. His initial request for the medal was denied and he reapplied some three months later after all of the personnel actually familiar with the event had left Vietnam.

Kerry's account of the wound for which he received his third Purple Heart (and ticket out of Viet Nam): "I got a piece of small grenade in my ass from one of the rice bin explosions." Kerry had thrown a grenade into a rice bin and stayed too close, resulting in rice and shrapnel embedding in his buttocks.

Kerry's claimed his rescue of Special Forces soldier Jim Rassman, for which he won the Bronze Star, was under heavy enemy fire. Rassman was in the water after the boat on which he was traveling hit an underwater mine. Personnel on the other boats present claim that Kerry had initially fled the scene and only returned to join the other boats, which had stayed at the side of the disabled boat to defend it and rescue its crew, after it was clear that there was no additional enemy fire. None of the other boats reported any fire and more interestingly, it appears that no one else on the other boats, which had rescued the bulk of the crew of the disabled boat either received or requested medals for their actions.

Friday, August 06, 2004

The Joe Wilson Story - A Timeline

Just One Minute provides a handy timeline of the Wilson/Plame Kerfuffle

Footnotes: The Joseph Wilson / Valerie Plame Timeline

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

America at War - politicized Terror Warnings

Byron York in National Review Online lays out a very plausible scenario if the Bush administration had failed to issue the latest terror warning and an attack had occurred.

The New York Times and Washington Post both have both backpedaled on their claims that the warnings were based on years old data and hence may have been politically motivated; reporting that information from a recently capture al Quaeda operative was deciding. Dating back to the release of Richard Clarke's book, the Left has blamed Bush for not "connecting the dots". Now they complain that they don't like the picture.