Thursday, September 30, 2004

I'm proud of our democracy tonight

Tonight I watched the debate. Whether you are a Kerry or Bush supporter, you should admit that tonight was an example of what is best about our system. Both candidates addressed each other civilly and were forced to appeal to the real boss - the American People. They had to stand on their own and explain themselves. No other form of government reminds leaders so much that they serve the people and not the other way around. Now the People will decide. I was proud. Whether we make the right or wrong decision on who should be president we will all be responsible for it - we have consent of the governed, and no president can lead without it.

So who won?

If youwant, please answer some or all of the following questions:

1) who do you think won?

2) Did the debate change your vote or change the way you are leaning if still undecided?

3) what was the best moment/worst moment for the candidates?

4) anything else you want to comment on in regards to the debate?

Friday, September 24, 2004

A bright and shining lie - again

From the book The Lost Battalion about the Battle of Hue in Vietnam, by Charles Krohn (Praeger, 1993):

I know I say things about living and dead that some will find offensive, although it is not my intention to offend. Both my explanation and my defense is that I had to tell the story as honestly as I could. It's now obvious that we lost the war and some 57,000 died in vain. Some accounting is called for. The least we owe the dead is an obligation to be honest.

I don't agree with our invasion of Iraq. My view on this is well known. I felt that way before we invaded, and I feel that way now. Still, we must WIN because losing will cause us greater harm. Not because of "prestige" (fuck ego, would you ask your son or daughter to die for prestige?) but because an unstable, hostile, chaotic Iraq would be worse for us than Saddam was - and it will cost us more in the long run. It is too important a region for us to simply retreat. Indochina was different. Vietnam and Laos and Thailand and Cambodia simply aren't as important to us and our security as is the Middle East. So we MUST WIN.

But we aren't even playing to win. The President refuses to level with the nation about what is needed to win, and in fact refuses to allocate funding and troops needed to win in case the public realizes the truth about the overwhelming burden he has put upon us in the middle of the war against terror. He constantly reassures us that we are just fine. Remember when the justification was WMD? Or then when we would be greeted with flowers? Remember when the "Mission" was "Accomplished?" And later the attacks on American soldiers were just some "dead-enders" who refused to see the light and would be dealt with quickly? Remember how capturing Saddam was sure to put a dent in the insurgency? Remember how controversial it was when the Army called it a "guerrilla war" and the administration said no, it wasn't?

We could have won Vietnam. The Tet Offensive was actually a huge military defeat for the communists, but it cost public support back home. A lot of people blamed (and still blame) the media for this. But it isn't true.

The fault lay with politicians who preferred simply to "not lose" over doing what it took to win. Why? Because winning in Vietnam would have cost a lot more than we were told, and any politician who, for instance, supported calling up twice as many draftees, spending twice as much money, and who pushed aggresive combat that might cause 10,000 casualties in the first month would likely be defeated in the next election. We could have invaded North Vietnam, but we didn't. Our elected leaders preferred 1000 deaths a month for 5 years over 10,000 deaths in a single month, even if we were likely to lose.

Should politics matter when our security is at stake? It wouldn't matter to me. It wouldn't matter to the soldiers. It shouldn't matter to politicians whose first loyalty should be our nation's security, not their own careers. What matters is winning or losing. If we aren't willing to do what is required to win then we shouldn't be doing it at all regardless of the next election.

But their careers did matter to the politicians, and as a result we ended up losing more lives in the long run, for nothing. The public turned against the war, but only after years of buying into the "light at the end of the tunnel" and "we are winning" and "things are better everyday" talk. Talk that wasn't true. Some blame the media for that, but that is way too easy.

The same media that supported the war in the beginning turned against it in the end. Rather than a shaper of opinions it seemed more like a mirror of public opinion. We could have won in Vietnam, but the lack of a strategy to win cost us that victory - not the media.

So what does all this have to do with Iraq?

We have no strategy to win, and the truth is being kept from us. The President says the media isn't reporting the truth about the good happening in Iraq, but in fact the media apparently isn't reporting how bad it really is in Iraq, how the insurgency has grown, how we blew our golden window of opportunity in the first few months after the fall of Saddam and are now confronting an ever-more organized, more determined enemy.

And those in the military trying to do their jobs, trying to win, are being prevented from doing so - just as they were in Vietnam. Because no news is good news, and if there is lots of bad news blame the media, not the administration. Bush prefers to keep the bad news to a minimum, even if it costs us more lives in the long run. Even if it risks defeat.

This isn't Vietnam. We can't afford to abandon Iraq. It seems the simple solution but it isn't. We can't go back in time and NOT invade, and so now we must do what it takes to win a stabilized, non-chaotic Iraq. And we are not doing that. We aren't doing what we should in order to win.

We have no strategy for victory in this war, yet incredibly the challenger is criticized for not having a complete and detailed strategy, not the incumbent. If I am in charge shouldn't I be the one to have the detailed plan, instead of criticizing others who point that out? We have no strategy to win other than to "stay the course."

One year ago we had fewer dead than we do now and the situation looked hopeful. Now we are suffering more casualties and the situation looks grim. Staying the course has harmed, not helped. Should we "stay the course" or should we adapt, as our enemies have done? It is obvious we must adapt. We are not.

Regardless of whether you agree or disagree with the decision to invade (and I thought it world-class stupid) we MUST WIN. This is NOT Vietnam. We lost there but our national security didn't suffer all that much. It cost us less to lose than it would have cost us to win. That isn't the case here. We must win. We are not.

Kerry is portrayed as flip-flopping on Iraq because he voted to give the president the authority yet later criticizes the war. In fact Kerry has been incredibly consistent. Read the speech he gave before he cast the vote giving the President the authority and see for yourself: Kerry is called a flip-flopper on invading. He is not.

And, like myself, Kerry does not want to cut and run from Iraq. This is also portrayed as flip-flopping. It is not.

We need to have a strategy to win. This administration does not.

Those who would speak truth, including some very conservative people you would think the natural supporters of a Republican president, are getting into trouble for speaking the truth:

By the way, that second article is the story of a career army infantry officer and later deputy chief of public affairs for the Army who took a job with the Program Management Office in Baghdad as spokesperson and media advisor. He's a Vietnam combat veteran. During the Battle of Hue in January 1968, half his battalion was killed. He's also a partisan Republican. He advised the Bush 2000 presidential campaign on military management and regularly donates money to the GOP. He resigned from his synagogue in 1994 because he thought the leadership was too liberal. And while he refuses to be labeled a neoconservative, he believes the despotic Middle East can be turned democratic by force. And he wrote the book that I quoted to begin this post. His name is Charles Krohn.

Krohn was recently forced out from his Pentagon job for criticizing the Bush administration's management of the occupation. Even though everything he said was true. He was told he couldn't be "trusted."

The administration feels that those who criticize the president harm our cause. I respectfully disagree. Those that won't tell us the truth harm our cause. Those that refuse to adapt harm our cause. Those who "stay the course" even when the road curves are the ones that will drive us right off the cliff.

On Nov. 2nd the nation will decide if it prefers pleasant lies over truth. I believe we owe an obligation to the dead, and to our soldiers under fire today, to honor the truth.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

The guy who wrote "Peace Train" denied entry - we have crazy people in charge of our security

This report suggest how inept the adminstration is at national security:

The singer formerly known as Cat Stevens was denied entry to the U.S. because of national security concerns.

Yusuf Islam, the former pop singer Cat Stevens, was removed from a plane bound for Washington from London Tuesday when his name showed up on a U.S. watchlist. The plane was diverted to Maine's Bangor International Airport. A department of Homeland Security (DHS) spokesman said Islam was denied admission to the United States "on national security grounds." He was questioned by the FBI and immigration officials. Islam, who recently spoke out against the massacre of more than 300 people in a Russian school, will be returned to England on Wednesday.

A statement posted on a fan-supported Web site says that listing Islam on a government watch list "is certainly an error."

The statement also calls it a "sad state of affairs" when "a peace-loving pop star can be grouped into the same category as Osama Bin Laden just because of his chosen faith."

Last year, Islam released two songs, including a re-recording of his '70s hit "Peace Train," to express his opposition to the U.S.-led war in Iraq.

Wow, am I glad they caught him before he could, uhhh, sing Kumbaya or hold a peace rally. He is REALLY dangerous. After all, he is probably writing songs for Osama and Iran recently allowed his songs to be sold there. And his name sounds Islamic - it's "Islam." What else do you need to know?

They diverted the plane in mid-flight, preventing him from attacking us with... rhetoric against all forms of violence. Whew. That was close. Really glad the Bush team is so on the job protecting us from former stars. Look out Muhammed Ali, you're next.

And they are still sending him back. Idiots. What's next, the attack of the teletubbies?

Oh, I forgot, they're homos anyway. Are they on the watch-list?

From a soldier in Iraq

This is from Ginmar, a soldier blogger in Iraq.

I believed what I was told.

My doubts have arisen because of what I've seen---and haven't seen. I believe there has to be a standard for democracy like there is for medicine: first do no harm. When the number of soldiers killed here equals the number of people killed on September 11th, will people be healed? Especially now, now that we have inadvertantly caused the very problem we supposedly came here to solve: Al Qaeda in Iraq.

They were not here before.Now they are.

That's all I have to say for now.

But for now I can say it here. And whoever wants me to fight and die, but do so with my lips zipped needs to discover what all despots do: frustrate free speech early, and watch it grow too large to contain later.Sooner or later. Decide. Let me talk now or let me and every one like me become so frustrated that it becomes too huge to contain.

Hopefully in about two months.

The full post is located at

Sunday, September 19, 2004


On NBC's "Meet the Press," host Tim Russert asked former Rep. John Thune to respond to a recent fund-raising letter sent out by state GOP Chairman Randy Frederick that said Sen. Tom Daschle's complaints about the administration have brought "comfort to America's enemies."

Thune, a Republican aiming to unseat Daschle in November, said he would not have chosen those words. But Thune said he has talked to soldiers who could never vote for Daschle after his prewar comments that President Bush has failed miserably.

"What it does is emboldens our enemies and undermines the morale of our troops," Thune said.

FOR THAT ALONE YOU SHOULD VOTE DEMOCRAT. This brazen attempt to brand all dissent as "emboldening our enemies" and "undermining the morale of our troops" is as unpatriotic as you can get without taking up arms to destroy the Constitution.

Perhaps John Thune learned what undermines our troop morale when he served... uhh, when he enlisted in the... oh, well, it turns out he never served. I guess he had "other priorities."

And that liberal turn-coat commie bastard Daschle, in his efforts to embolden our enemies, never served... uhh, well, actually he is a veteran. He was an intelligence officer in the U.S. Air Force Strategic Air Command. Well, he probably just used his time in the military to learn how to undermine troop morale, while Thune didn't ever serve because he was spending too much time trying to figure out how to support the troops, right?

Hypocritical bastard. The closest Thune ever came to serving was when he spoke to the soldiers he mentioned would "never vote for Daschle" because of his comments that President Bush has failed miserably.

Because telling the truth is unpatriotic, and soldiers would never want that. The truth undermines our morale. Thank God for people like Thune who keep us from such unpleasantness or we would all drop our rifles and run - or, perhaps, have our daddies wangle us a safe spot in the Guard. Oh, the Guard is deployed, with tens of thousands of reservists pulling multiple tours and spending years on active duty? So what is actually in reserve then? ooops, I'm undermining troop morale now. Sorry. I just won't ask questions anymore. It is unpatriotic and gives aid and comfort to our enemies.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

Honors Galore

I have been inducted into the Ancient and Hermetic Order of the Shrill. The Esteemed Order of the Shrill is limited to those who were once sane, fair, and balanced, but who have been driven into shrill unholy madness by one or more of the mendacity, malevolence, incompetence, or simple disconnection from reality of the George W. Bush administration.

To all who shall see these hallowed greetings, presents:

More Vets Join The Order

It isn't just the powerful and famous. Vets fresh from the front lines are joining in droves. Blogger buggieboy is one them, and now one of us:

"This U.S. Army website discusses terrorism in a realistic manner, showing that Al Queda is not the only enemy we face and that 9/11 "changed the world" only for the uninformed. Any national security professionals that didn't realize the danger of terrorism before 9/11 are incompetent and should not be given responsibility for our defense. This includes the entire Bush administration team."

His resume lists the 101st Airborne Division, the Second Infantry Division, and the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment. Does it list the Shrill Boat Veterans for Truth?

I don't know why they thought I was "fresh from the front" but I am pretty fresh. :) I'm not famous. But now that I am in the "Order" I am powerful (Lefty, your dark imperial overlord title has some competition).

The site is

Thursday, September 16, 2004

I wish I had to say I was wrong. But, sadly, I was not.

I wrote this and it was published in my law school newspaper early March 2003, shortly before we invaded. I told a conservative friend at the time "I really hope you can call me and make fun of me a year or two from now and tell me how wrong I was." I really, really wanted to be wrong. I wasn't.

March 8, 2003
by [TWD], 2L

Many Americans think that those who don’t support the President on Iraq don’t support the military. That some peace protestors are anti-military or socialists or communists or even anti-American lends support to this belief. Some equate any questioning of the President’s foreign policy as appeasement, and seem to feel that those who doubt the wisdom of an invasion would rather support Saddam Hussein. But perhaps they would be more comfortable in Iraq – citizens there don’t question their president. They blindly cheer Saddam without asking questions.

They aren’t allowed to.

I think support for our soldiers is not the same thing as support for the President. And vice versa.

I believe it is not only my right, but my responsibility, to try and ensure our nation’s security, to try and ensure our nation does the right thing. I don’t think an invasion of Iraq is the right thing – not because I support an evil tyrant like Saddam Hussein, but because no credible evidence has been presented that Iraq is a threat to our nation. None at all.

I support a war on terrorists, and I think North Korea is a real danger to us, but not Iraq. And not without justification. And not without the support of our allies. And not when the Iraqi link to Al Queda has been shown to be a lie. I get very nervous when a President lies to the American people in order to build support for such a vital decision.

To some that means I don’t think we should defend ourselves. But I do believe the United States has a right to defend itself. That is why I proudly served as a rifleman in the 101st Airborne, and other infantry units around the world. I think we should kill the terrorists where we find them, and destroy any government that threatens our way of life. All I would ask for is some reassurance that my actions would help our Republic and not endanger it. Some, including apparently the President, would rather I not ask any questions. Just as in Iraq no one questions Saddam.

I have been on casualty notification teams. I would ask Mr. Bush if he knows what it is like to tell a farmer and his wife that their son, their pride and joy, the son that they nursed, loved, taught to ride a bicycle, that their son is not coming home anymore. And then, as their shattered faces collapse and the light goes out of their eyes, to then have to answer the question from them “Was it worth it? Did our boy die for a good reason?” Should I answer “I don’t know. I never asked?” And does Mr. Bush know what it is like to take a human life, and how desperately soldiers need to believe that doing so was the right thing to do? And still, if it is the right thing to do, I think we should go.

My problem is that “if.” Because if it is not the right thing to do, then we should not do it, even at this late date, even with 300,000 troops already deployed, and even if it would embarrass us. I think if we invade for the wrong reasons then the rest of the world, fairly acquiescent about our power, would see us as the threat. Would we be better off then?

If the risks of not going to war are higher than going to war, then we should fight. If not, then the best thing to do is to avoid a fight. But information is required for that decision, and it is not a decision for the President alone. It is a decision we should make as a nation.

The President falsely tried to link Iraq to Al Queda and could not. Yet he still talks constantly about 9/11 when asked to justify an invasion of a country that had nothing to do with it. He next claimed that an invasion was justified because Saddam is a tyrant, but we cooperate with Saudi Arabia – the nation that gave the most support to the hijackers – and so many other tyrants that I don’t have time or space to list them. Finally, he claims that Saddam has weapons of mass destruction. Yes he does, we have known that for over 20 years. So does Pakistan, so does North Korea, so do many countries. What makes Saddam different? Well, the President claims that Saddam “might” use them against us. If we invade he certainly will. How does this make the world a safer place?

Don’t get the wrong idea - I don’t think we need sit around and be hit before responding. We should attack first rather than wait and be attacked. But what evidence does the President have to support his view that Iraq will (or even can) attack the United States, or that Iraq will shortly have atomic weapons?

It appears that he has none, or that he doesn’t feel he needs to share it with his fellow citizens, or even more frightening, doesn’t think he even needs it.

But didn’t he take an oath to serve us, not the other way around? Aren’t we the boss? Ultimately, isn’t this a government of the people, by the people, and for the people? Should we take Mr. Bush’s word for it, and require nothing more, in order to send the sons and daughters of our nation off to war? Is that patriotic?

As a soldier, I took an oath to the Constitution, not to the President. I guess some feel there is something wrong with that too. But I would like them to try and tell that to the soldiers of the United States Army, who understand very well that they are the guardians of the Republic and our Constitution, and not the servants of George W. Bush.

So as a patriot, I will continue to question and fulfill my duties as a citizen. If some would rather blindly follow where a leader tells them to go, that is their right. I won’t though.

And neither did George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, or any of our founding fathers, who rebelled against another George who felt that the people should serve him, instead of him serving the people. I wonder if many supporters of this war would have taken up arms against King George III, or would they instead have insulted Washington and his ragtag troops, calling them traitors to the crown?

I guess my view on the war makes me unpatriotic. But I will stand with the soldiers who took the oath to the Constitution. And if we go forward into Iraq I will support our military, whether the decision to send them was right or wrong. They don’t have the luxury of making that choice for themselves, and shouldn’t be blamed if it is a mistake. They depend on their fellow citizens to get it right. They depend on us, the people, to risk their lives only when it is the right thing to do.

What an amazing amount of trust it takes to put your life in the hands of your fellow citizens, to forego many of the freedoms of civilian life so that others can enjoy that freedom. How wonderful that we have young men and women willing to do that for our nation. We owe them so much. We owe them our freedom. And if we send in them in mistakenly, we shouldn’t blame them. We owe them an apology. We will have failed them, not the other way around.

So I will try my best to get it right. I will march in protests and demand that the President justify a war with real evidence, instead of lies and “what might happen.” I will demand the President show that a war will make things better for our nation, that it is right and just.

If he can do so, then I support an invasion. If he can’t, or refuses to do so, then I am against it. I think I owe our brave soldiers that much. I am sorry that some don’t think they owe them as much as I do. But they can think whatever they want because of the Founders of our Republic. The ones who created our Republic because they thought it was right to question authority.

God Bless America.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Taking on the Myth

I know people hate it when I just cut and paste, but this is really worth reading.

Taking On the Myth

On Sunday, a celebrating crowd gathered around a burning U.S. armored vehicle. Then a helicopter opened fire; a child and a journalist for an Arabic TV news channel were among those killed. Later, the channel repeatedly showed the journalist doubling over and screaming, "I'm dying; I'm dying."
Such scenes, which enlarge the ranks of our enemies by making America look both weak and brutal, are inevitable in the guerrilla war President Bush got us into. Osama bin Laden must be smiling.

U.S. news organizations are under constant pressure to report good news from Iraq. In fact, as a Newsweek headline puts it, "It's worse than you think." Attacks on coalition forces are intensifying and getting more effective; no-go zones, which the military prefers to call "insurgent enclaves," are spreading - even in Baghdad. We're losing ground.

And the losses aren't only in Iraq. Al Qaeda has regrouped. The invasion of Iraq, intended to demonstrate American power, has done just the opposite: nasty regimes around the world feel empowered now that our forces are bogged down. When a Times reporter asked Mr. Bush about North Korea's ongoing nuclear program, "he opened his palms and shrugged."

Yet many voters still believe that Mr. Bush is doing a good job protecting America.

If Senator John Kerry really has advisers telling him not to attack Mr. Bush on national security, he should dump them. When Dick Cheney is saying vote Bush or die, responding with speeches about jobs and health care doesn't cut it.

Mr. Kerry should counterattack by saying that Mr. Bush is endangering the nation by subordinating national security to politics.

In early 2002 the Bush administration, already focused on Iraq, ignored pleas to commit more forces to Afghanistan. As a result, the Taliban is resurgent, and Osama is still out there.

In the buildup to the Iraq war, commanders wanted a bigger invasion force to help secure the country. But civilian officials, eager to prove that wars can be fought on the cheap, refused. And that's one main reason our soldiers are still dying in Iraq.

This past April, U.S. forces, surely acting on White House orders after American television showed gruesome images of dead contractors, attacked Falluja. Lt. Gen. James Conway, the Marine commander on the scene, opposed "attacking out of revenge" but was overruled - and he was overruled again with an equally disastrous decision to call off the attack after it had begun. "Once you commit," General Conway said, "you got to stay committed." But Mr. Bush, faced with the prospect of a casualty toll that would have hurt his approval rating, didn't.

Can Mr. Kerry, who voted to authorize the Iraq war, criticize it? Yes, by pointing out that he voted only to give Mr. Bush a big stick. Once that stick had forced Saddam to let W.M.D. inspectors back in, there was no need to invade. And Mr. Kerry should keep pounding Mr. Cheney, who is trying to cover for the absence of W.M.D. by lying, yet again, about Saddam's ties to Al Qaeda.

Some pundits are demanding that Mr. Kerry produce a specific plan for Iraq - a demand they never make of Mr. Bush. Mr. Kerry should turn the tables, and demand to know what - aside from pretending that things are going fine - Mr. Bush intends to do about the spiraling disaster. And Mr. Kerry can ask why anyone should trust a leader who refuses to replace the people who created that disaster because he thinks it's bad politics to admit a mistake.

Mr. Kerry can argue that he wouldn't have overruled the commanders who had wanted to keep the pressure on Al Qaeda, or dismissed warnings from former Gen. Eric Shinseki, then the Army's chief of staff, that peacekeeping would require a large force. He wouldn't have ignored General Conway's warnings about the dangers of storming into Falluja, or overruled his protests about calling off that assault halfway through.

On the other hand, he can argue that he would have fired Paul Wolfowitz, the deputy defense secretary who ridiculed General Shinseki. And he would definitely have fired Donald Rumsfeld for the failure to go in with enough troops, the atrocities at Abu Ghraib and more.

The truth is that Mr. Bush, by politicizing the "war on terror," is putting America at risk. And Mr. Kerry has to say that.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

The Truth Is, 9/11 Should Have Surprised Nobody in the National Security Community, But It Did - Why Trust Them Now?

This U.S. Army website discusses terrorism in a realistic manner, showing that Al Queda is not the only enemy we face and that 9/11 "changed the world" only for the uninformed. Any national security professionals that didn't realize the danger of terrorism before 9/11 are incompetent and should not be given responsibility for our defense. This includes the entire Bush administration team. They ignored the warnings of the outgoing Clinton administration. They are incompetent.

This US Army website details the history of anti-American terrorism from the early '60s to the present. The '90s started with an attack by the Tupac Amaru, who bombed the US embassy in Peru in Jan. 1990, and ended with the Columbian terrorist PLA kidnapping a US citizen in Dec. 1999. Meanwhile our current leadership focuses on Iraq and ignores even Al Queda. And this administration ignored the terrorist threat until 9/11, and then tried to blame the Clinton administration. Ignorance is not bliss, it is deadly. We can no longer afford the ignorance and ideologues of the Bush administration. We can't afford more mistakes.

But the right will probably call this apolitical Army website "leftist" and "biased" as well. Read it before Rumsfeld orders it "cleansed" and it becomes a partisan pro-Bush slanted page that ignores the truth.

"But I want to make it clear to the American people that while we can defeat terrorists, it will be a long time before we defeat terrorism. America will remain a target because we are uniquely present in the world, because we act to advance peace and democracy, because we have taken a tougher stand against terrorism, and because we are the most open society on earth." President William J. Clinton, August 6, 1996

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

False conflict

The Republicans are making much of the fact that during the primary campaign Kerry challenged Howard Dean's anti-war stance by proclaiming:
"those who doubted whether Iraq or the world would be better off without Saddam Hussein, and those who believe today that we are not safer with his capture, don't have the judgment to be president or the credibility to be elected president."

They are contrasting it with his recent "wrong war at the wrong time" remarks as an example of flip-floppery, asking "which time was Kerry right, then or now?" It is a false conflict.

The answer: Kerry was right BOTH TIMES. They aren't mutually exclusive. That isn't a "flip-flop," and the fact that the Bush campaign doesn't appear to understand it shows just how lacking in analytical reasoning ability the administration really is. We should not have invaded, and we are better off now that Saddam has been captured. NO CONFLICT and no flip-floppery.

In short, Saddam was a threat but Bush's invasion solution did more harm than good. The world is better off with Saddam gone. We would have been better off without invading to remove him. Confused? Too "nuanced?" Fine. As long as you aren't in charge of our military and putting soldiers in harm's way you can be confused. I expect more from a president though.

This President and his national security team is in charge of our safety in a complicated and dangerous world, but he doesn't appear to have the ability to grasp complicated concepts, instead preferring to ridicule "nuance" and championing an anti-intellectual attitude. As a result of this action-movie hero mentality we have made disastrous mistakes (such as invading Iraq) and continue to make them. We end up with simplistic solutions to complex problems. We spend hundreds of billions of dollars and over 1,000 US lives (and thousands and thousands more wounded) and the result is we are less secure than before. And the most immediate threat to us, Islamic Terrorism, is stronger than before. Why in the world should the man responsible for that be given another chance? Because people want to believe, they want to feel good, they don't want to face reality. They don't want to think that 1,000 dead didn't help. They don't want to be afraid. So they follow.

As a side note, this anti-"egghead" attitude that ridicules intellectualism seemingly disqualifies for command such bookish well-read intellectuals as Patton, Rommel, Bradley, MacArthur, Eisenhower, Zhukov, Le Clerc, Yamamoto, and Maxwell Taylor. But hey, it's popular, it makes for great sound-bites, and it will lead to votes.

We shouldn't have invaded, and even if we did we shouldn't have done it in the manner we did (no allies, no plan for political consolidation of military success, not enough troops, etc. etc.), and even then Saddam was still our enemy and a threat, so it is good that he is gone. It just wasn't worth the cost to our national security. And we are NOT safer than before, we are less safe. We will be even worse off than now if we lose and Iraq descends into chaos or turns into "Iraqistan." But that doesn't for one second mean it was a good idea to invade. It was a mistake and our President was the one that made it. I won't vote for somebody with such a terrible national security track record, especially one that has manipulated the truth of 9/11 and WMDs so much that he runs on national security as a STRENGTH.

It is another example of the right-wing's inability to count above two. And it is why, when I say that the invasion was world-class stupid, I always have people try and convince me that we should stay in Iraq and that pulling out would be a disaster. "I agree" I tell them, and then they say "but you said you were against the war." "Yes," I tell them, "I was, and am. It was world-class stupid, and now we need to stabilize Iraq, and I am glad Saddam is gone." And they call me a flip-flopper too.

But don't take my word for it. Here is an excerpt from a US Army Strategic Studies Institute monograph:

"The war against Iraq was a detour from, not an integral component of, the war on terrorism; in fact, Operation IRAQI FREEDOM may have expanded the terrorist threat by establishing a large new American target set in an Arab heartland.... Indeed, homeland security is probably the greatest GWOT (Global War On Terrorism) opportunity cost of the war against Iraq.... [Now that we have invaded,] Establishing democracy in Iraq is clearly a desirable objective, and the United States should do whatever it can to accomplish that goal."

One more thing as we sadly pass 1,000 US KIA in Iraq. The Army predicted all of this and was ignored. Ideology trumped reality, and still does. A U.S. Army study on reconstructing Iraq was published the month before Operation IRAQI FREEDOM was launched. It warned:

"If the war is rapid with few casualties, the occupation will probably be characterized by an initial honeymoon period during which the United States will reap the benefits of ridding the population of a brutal dictator. Nevertheless, most Iraqis and most other Arabs will probably assume that the United States intervened in Iraq for its own reasons and not to liberate the population. Long-term gratitude is unlikely and suspicion of U.S. motives will increase as the occupation continues. A force initially viewed as liberators can rapidly be relegated to the status of invaders should an unwelcome occupation continue for a prolonged time. Occupation problems may be especially acute if the United States must implement the bulk of the occupation itself rather than turn these duties over to a postwar international force." Reconstructing Iraq: Insights, Challenges, and Missions for Military Forces in a Post-Conflict Scenario, Carlisle Barracks, PA: Strategic Studies Institute, U.S. Army War College, February, 2003, p. 17.

And yet the President declared the end to major combat operations hundreds of casualties ago, shortly after our defeat of the Iraqi military. Did he or his staff bother to even read what the Army was saying all along? Didn't he know we were in a "honeymoon" period and that we had a critical window of opportunity that we must seize upon in order to consolidate our military success? No, he didn't. 1,000 US dead later and we are less safe than before and the President was surprised by events that our military was clearly predicting. Don't we deserve better? Don't our troops deserve better?

Monday, September 06, 2004

Instapundit? I think not.

Recently I was advised to check out Instapundit (again) for an unbiased view of the world. Instapundit is the blog name of an extreme right-wing law professor at the University of Tennessee.

Here is an example of how Instapundit, Fox, Michelle Malkin, and others manipulate the truth in order to manipulate the electorate, and one reason I don't check out Instapundit for reliable information. It comes from

InstaPundit Glenn Reynolds, fascist hatemonger

The Blogosphere has its own little right-wing outpost of disinformation, and a center of it is InstaPundit, authored by Glenn Reynolds. While careful, as is Bill O'Reilly, to execute a few liberal-seeming flourishes here and there, so as to maintain the illusion of neutrality, Reynolds consistently filters the news for his many readers through a conservative strainer, sometimes delivering the Republican National Committee party line almost as reliably as the Washington Times.

Recently the right-wing consensus about the reporting on Arnold Schwarzenegger's "racist connections" was that the charges were hurting the Republican candidate for CA governor, so therefore Cruz Bustamante, his main opponent, needed to suffer a similar accusation. So Reynolds set forth to play his notes on the right-wing Wurlitzer.

As usual, the facts didn't matter. The facts about Schwarzenegger are virtually undisputed. Schwarzenegger made a point of pubilcly praising his friend Kurt Waldheim, even after the ugly facts about Waldheim's past became common knowledge. Schwarzenegger declined to leave or distance himself from the organization U.S. English when the founder and leader of that group was revealed to have written an official (but intended to be secret) memo stating a clear white-supremacist agenda.

These are rather clear "racist connections"--they are not made up, they are not stretched, they are not dragged out from the distant past. The allegations do not attempt to tie Schwarzenegger to a friend of a friend of Waldheim--to this day, Schwarzenegger has refused to personally distance himself from Waldheim. Schwarzenegger could easily remove himself from participation in U.S. English and his implicit association with that group's founder. He has refused.

These stubborn facts, not smears, formed the basis of serious questions about Schwarzenegger's suitability to govern a multi-racial, multi-ethnic state.

Because Schwarzenegger, inexplicably, refused to distance himself from these connections, the right wing needed to smear his opponent with similar charges to level the playing field. Many right-wing researchers set themselves to the task, and they found their nugget of gold in this phrase:

"Por La Raza todo. Fuera de La Raza nada."

That statement was found in a document on a website related to a student group called MEChA that Bustamante once belonged to when he was in college. And the right wing was able to use those nine words to start a very successful smear campaign. How? They simply mistranslated the words.

That's it. That's all it took to get it started.

Prepositions can make for odd Spanish to English translations if you want them to. For example, in Spanish you can walk "por la playa." Walk "for the beach"? Actually, it means walk "on the beach." Or "along the beach." Or maybe even "across the beach."

But it definitely doesn't mean that you are walking "for the beach." Because that doesn't make sense.

"Por" has different meanings in Spanish than "for" does in English. (To make things harder, Spanish has another word that sometimes means "for": "para.")

A correct translation of the nine words would be:

"By means of La Raza, everything. Outside La Raza, nothing."

Or, as Ted Barlow at Crooked Timber points out that MEChA phrases it in their actual slogan, "La union hace la fuerza (Unity creates power)." A very typical sentiment for a club such as MEChA. ("La Raza" also does not translate directly to English as "the race" as English speakers use the term "race.") It is a standard "strength through unity" sentiment that you will also find expressed by Black Student Unions and Gay and Lesbian Alliances and even, oh, let's say, political parties.

However, what if you "translated" the nine words in a way that didn't account for the multiple meanings of "por" in Spanish and the expansive meaning of "La Raza"? What if you claimed the phrase meant "For the race, everything. Outside the race, nothing"? Suddenly the group isn't trying to encourage unity within the group, but instead trying to claim "everything" (in the world?) for itself--for its "race."

And that's kind of...Nazi-like. Bingo.

It was that easy. It didn't matter that if the proficient Spanish speakers of MEChA had meant "for the race" they would have written "para la raza" (the other wouldn't have meant that), or that even a simple-to-do computer translation of "por La Raza" results in "by the race."

Who can be bothered with details? MEChA = KKK, that's the important thing.

And Glenn Reynolds played his part by posting this on August 16:

IF YOU WANT TO BE GOVERNOR OF CALIFORNIA, Tacitus advises, it's best to renounce your past connections to fascist hatemongers.
"Fascist hatemongers"? Did Glenn Reynolds know that there was no credible support for this smear, which he delivered to his tens of thousands of daily readers, and which the rest of the right-wing blogosphere echoed with glee? I don't know. But in a cult, facts don't matter anyway. You play your part. You do what the cult needs. And the cult needed Bustamante to be a racist hypocrite.

Reynolds just played his part.

As did the rest of the right-wing Wurlitzer. Ted Barlow at Crooked Timber writes:

I did a google seach on "For the Race, Everything. For Those Outside the Race, Nothing" and MEChA. Maybe someone can correct me, because I couldn’t find a MEChA site which used that phrase. They seem to think that their slogan is "La union hace la fuerza (Unity creates power)."
I did get a lot of hits, though, from such diverse sources as:

Capitalism magazine

The Conservative Crust

Michelle Malkin


And FrontPage Magazine

Hmm. I wonder why those right-wing sources just happened to have a mistranslation of those nine words...

From this shocking "For the race, everything" point, it was pretty easy to find a link-to-a-link-to-a-link (a familiar tactic), and "discover" that Bustamante was associated with a group listed by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a "hate group." Of course, MEChA isn't listed there (because they really don't advocate hate), but an offensive group called Voz de Aztlán is listed there, and someone who linked to MEChA also linked to Voz de Aztlán, so there you go: Bustamante is associated with a hate group.

(I kid you not, the blogger whom Glenn Reynolds found worthy of linking to on the subject of Bustamante's association with "fascist hatemongers" used the term fellow travelers to make these connections. Know any other fans of Joe McCarthy?)

Through the magic of mistranslation (oops!) and "discovering" that almost any page on the web links-to-a-link-to-a-link to something scandalous, a Latino candidate who has never actually been associated with any racist group becomes the moral equivalent of Arnold Schwarzenegger, who praised Kurt Waldheim at his wedding (and left that praise to stand to this day, unrenounced) and remains an advisor to U.S. English, which was founded by an unabashed white supremacist. Six of one, six of the other, right?

And Glenn Reynolds played his part, only too happy to toss out the words "fascist hatemongers" if it will smear the opposition. Sure, he later linked to people who suggested that Bustamante wasn't associated with fascist hatemongers, but do you really think the goal was to have a discussion that led to the truth?

The point of the right-wing Wurlitzer is to get the stories into the mainstream media, not to convince everyone the stories are true. Inevitably, the stories are not true. But if a false claim about Bustamante can suck up the oxygen in the zero-sum game that media coverage is (there is only so much ink, and only so much air time, and only so much attention on the part of the audience), that's a net win for the right wing.

So score one for InstaPundit Glenn Reynolds, fascist hatemonger.

Why do I call him that? I dunno, I figure I'll find somebody who agrees, and then I'll link to that.

Because that's how it works in the Blogosphere.

4 kinds of leaders

I remember reading somewhere about four kinds of staff officers. I will paraphrase what I remember, but if somebody knows the original source please let me know.

Four kinds of staff officers:

1. The hard-working, smart ones. These are the best.
2. The lazy, smart ones. These are next best.
3. The lazy, dumb ones. These are almost the worst but not quite.
4. The hard-working, dumb ones. The worst of the lot.

Why would the hard-working dumb officers be worse than the lazy ones? Because they will get SOMETHING done, and since they are dumb it will likely be the wrong thing and will work against victory on the battlefield. They will devote precious resources and commit troops to courses of action that work against success and make it harder to win, not easier. At least the lazy dumb ones won't do devote as much effort into screwing things up. The lazy smart ones will make fewer mistakes and those efforts they do make will help win. And the hard-working smart ones are best of all for obvious reasons.

I think George W. is a very determined, persistent, committed individual who thinks he is doing the right thing. He isn't evil and wants only the best for America. I don't buy into the left-wing mythos of dark conspiracies and an uncaring, heartless ogre wishing to shrink the middle-class so that he and his cronies can be even richer. I think George W. Bush wants only the best for all Americans. And he is working very hard to ensure his vision for the future will come to pass.

And I think he is a world-class dumbass. He is #4, he is working really hard and doing enormous damage to our nation in the process. He doesn't realize it, and neither do many of his supporters, but we are much worse off with him in charge. He isn't intentionally screwing up, but he sure is screwing up (WMDs, invasion, tax cuts leading to record deficits, job losses, etc. etc. etc.). He needs to go. Kerry might be #1, or #2, or #3, but he damn sure isn't #4.

We need to take this nation back. Please rejoin the American Revolution, won't you?

Great Quote

"Patriotism means to stand by the country. It does not mean to stand by the President or any other public official save exactly to the degree in which he himself stands by the country. It is patriotic to support him insofar as he efficiently serves the country. It is unpatriotic not to oppose him to the exact extent that by inefficiency or otherwise he fails in his duty to stand by the country."
-- Theodore Roosevelt

Thanks to PAUL, a fellow vet - I took this great quote from his website. It expresses my rage toward Mr. Bush and the Republicans for pretending that criticism of the President and his failed policies is criticism of the United States. It expresses my rage when those who support the invasion of Iraq can't justify it without speaking of 9/11 and the need for us to defend ourselves, and assume those against the invasion of Iraq must be against fighting Al Queda as well. Bush is not "America," he is a politician and he works for US, we don't work for him.

Mr. Bush is a failure and we need to relieve him of his command and appoint a new commander to take over and win this war. I don't want to fight the war on terror - I want to WIN.

Funny as hell (quicktime video format)


Swiftvets is still telling lies about John Kerry. Don't believe me? Then check out their own website where they make charges that cancel each other out in their haste to lie about a veteran's record. Here is the link:

Here are two quotes only a few paragraphs apart on the Swiftvet's website - I won't comment on them, you decide if the Swiftvets Lying for Bush are telling the truth about both, or one, or none. But if they aren't telling the truth about both why believe their other unsubstantiated allegations? BECAUSE YOU WANT TO, and the truth or falsity is of no concern.

Quote Number 1:

There are also gaps in the documentation made public to date by the Kerry campaign, where NO FITNESS REPORTS ARE PROVIDED AT ALL.

Quote Number 2:

Knowing the above, what do the FITREPs SELECTIVELY RELEASED by the Kerry campaign say about John Kerry as a junior officer in the U.S. Navy?

I'll make it easier:

partial quote number 1: "NO FITNESS REPORTS ARE PROVIDED AT ALL."
partial quote number 2: "FITREPs SELECTIVELY RELEASED"

Here is a link to ALL the military records including fitness reports(not including medical records, which are private and personal):

Here is a link to just the fitness reports:

Saturday, September 04, 2004

A poem from the past - a poem for our times

"From a German War Primer"

by berthold brecht

Amongst the highly placed,
It is considered low to talk about food
The fact is they have already eaten

The lowly must leave this earth
Without having tasted any good meat
For wondering where they come from and where they are going
The evenings find them too exhausted
They have not yet seen the mountains and the great sea
When their time is already up

If the lowly do not think about what is low, they will never rise
The bread of the hungry has all been eaten
Meat has become unknown, useless
The pouring out of the people's sweat
The laurel groves have been locked down
From the chimneys of the arms factories
The house painter speaks of great times to come
The forests still grow
The fields still bare, the city still stands
The people still breathe
On the calendar the day is not yet shown
Every month, every day, lies open still
One of those days is going to be marked with a cross
The workers cry out for bread, the merchants cry out for markets
The unemployed were hungry,
The employed are hungry now

The hands that lay folded are busy again, they are making shells

Those that take meat from the table, teach contentment
Those for whom the contribution is destined demand sacrifice
Thoese that take their fill speak to the hungry of wonderful times to come
Those who lead the country into the abyss, call ruling too difficult for ordinary men

When the leaders speak of peace, the common folk know that war is coming
When the leaders curse war, the mobilization order is already written out

Those at the top say, peace and war are of different substance
But their peace and their war are like wind and storm,
War grows from their peace, like son from his mother
He bears her frightful features,
Their war kills whatever their peace has left over

On the wall was chalked
They want war
The man who wrote it has already fallen
Those at the top say, this way to glory
Those down below say this way to the grave
The war which is coming is not the first one
There were other wars before it
When the last one came to an end
There were conquerors and conquered
Among the conquered, the common people starved
Among the conquerors,
The common people starved too

Those at the top say
Comradeship reigns in the army
The truth of this is seen in the cookhouse

In their hearts should be the self-same courage
But on their plates are two kinds of rations
When it comes to marching
Many do not know that their enemy is marching at their head
The voice which gives them orders
Is their enemy's voice
The man who speaks of the enemy is the enemy himself
It is not the married couples who lie in their beds
The young women will bear orphans

General your tank is a powerful vehicle
It smashes down forests and crushes a hundred men
But it has one defect
It needs a driver
General your bomber is powerful
It flies faster than a storm
And carries more than an elephant
But it has one defect:
It needs a mechanic
General, man is very useful,
He can fly and he can kill but he has one defect:

He can think

Thursday, September 02, 2004

We can put the triumphs of the Clinton era safely behind us

This was supposed to be funny when it came out in the Onion (a satirical weekly found at in January of 2001 when Bush was 2 days away from the presidency. read it now and see what you think - was it satire or prophecy:


Jan. 18, 2001

WASHINGTON, DC—Mere days from assuming the presidency and closing the door on eight years of Bill Clinton, president-elect George W. Bush assured the nation in a televised address Tuesday that "our long national nightmare of peace and prosperity is finally over."

"My fellow Americans," Bush said, "at long last, we have reached the end of the dark period in American history that will come to be known as the Clinton Era, eight long years characterized by unprecedented economic expansion, a sharp decrease in crime, and sustained peace overseas. The time has come to put all of that behind us."

Bush swore to do "everything in [his] power" to undo the damage wrought by Clinton's two terms in office, including selling off the national parks to developers, going into massive debt to develop expensive and impractical weapons technologies, and passing sweeping budget cuts that drive the mentally ill out of hospitals and onto the street.

During the 40-minute speech, Bush also promised to bring an end to the severe war drought that plagued the nation under Clinton, assuring citizens that the U.S. will engage in at least one Gulf War-level armed conflict in the next four years.

"You better believe we're going to mix it up with somebody at some point during my administration," said Bush, who plans a 250 percent boost in military spending. "Unlike my predecessor, I am fully committed to putting soldiers in battle situations. Otherwise, what is the point of even having a military?"

On the economic side, Bush vowed to bring back economic stagnation by implementing substantial tax cuts, which would lead to a recession, which would necessitate a tax hike, which would lead to a drop in consumer spending, which would lead to layoffs, which would deepen the recession even further.

Wall Street responded strongly to the Bush speech, with the Dow Jones industrial average fluctuating wildly before closing at an 18-month low. The NASDAQ composite index, rattled by a gloomy outlook for tech stocks in 2001, also fell sharply, losing 4.4 percent of its total value between 3 p.m. and the closing bell.
Asked for comment about the cooling technology sector, Bush said: That's hardly my area of expertise."

Turning to the subject of the environment, Bush said he will do whatever it takes to undo the tremendous damage not done by the Clinton Administration to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. He assured citizens that he will follow through on his campaign promise to open the 1.5 million acre refuge's coastal plain to oil drilling. As a sign of his commitment to bringing about a change in the environment, he pointed to his choice of Gale Norton for Secretary of the Interior. Norton, Bush noted, has "extensive experience" fighting environmental causes, working as a lobbyist for lead-paint manufacturers and as an attorney for loggers and miners, in addition to suing the EPA to overturn clean-air standards.

Bush had equally high praise for Attorney General nominee John Ashcroft, whom he praised as "a tireless champion in the battle to "protect a woman's right to give birth."

"Soon, with John Ashcroft's help, we will move out of the Dark Ages and into a more enlightened time when a woman will be free to think long and hard before trying to fight her way past throngs of protesters blocking her entrance to an abortion clinic," Bush said. "We as a nation can look forward to lots and lots of babies."

Continued Bush: "John Ashcroft will be invaluable in healing the terrible wedge President Clinton drove between church and state."

The speech was met with overwhelming approval from Republican leaders.

"Finally, the horrific misrule of the Democrats has been brought to a close," House Majority Leader Dennis Hastert (R-IL) told reporters. "Under Bush, we can all look forward to military aggression, deregulation of dangerous, greedy industries, and the defunding of vital domestic social-service programs upon which millions depend. Mercifully, we can now say goodbye to the awful nightmare that was Clinton's America."

"For years, I tirelessly preached the message that Clinton must be stopped," conservative talk-radio host Rush Limbaugh said. "And yet, in 1996, the American public failed to heed my urgent warnings, re-electing Clinton despite the fact that the nation was prosperous and at peace under his regime. But now, thank God, that's all done with. Once again, we will enjoy mounting debt, jingoism, nuclear paranoia, mass deficit, and a massive military build-up."

An overwhelming 49.9 percent of Americans responded enthusiastically to the Bush speech.

"After eight years of relatively sane fiscal policy under the Democrats, we have reached a point where, just a few weeks ago, President Clinton said that the national debt could be paid off by as early as 2012," Rahway, NJ, machinist and father of three Bud Crandall said. "That's not the kind of world I want my children to grow up in."

"You have no idea what it's like to be black and enfranchised," said Marlon Hastings, one of thousands of Miami-Dade County residents whose votes were not counted in the 2000 presidential election. "George W. Bush understands the pain of enfranchisement, and ever since Election Day, he has fought tirelessly to make sure it never happens to my people again."

Bush concluded his speech on a note of healing and redemption. "We as a people must stand united, banding together to tear this nation in two," Bush said. "Much work lies ahead of us: The gap between the rich and the poor may be wide, but there's much more widening left to do. We must squander our nation's hard-won budget surplus on tax breaks for the wealthiest 15 percent. And, on the foreign front, we must find an enemy and defeat it."

"The insanity is over," Bush said. "After a long, dark night of peace and stability, the sun is finally rising again over America. We look forward to a bright new dawn not seen since the glory days of my dad."