A distinction without a difference

I’ve noted before, based on instinct that, when it comes to substance, nothing distinguishes Obama and Clinton from each other, in that they’re each extremely liberal. That, I said, is why they’ve had to fall back so frantically on their racial and sexual identities. It’s not just the “identity politics” chickens coming home to roost; it’s also the only way you can tell the two apart. My instinct regarding this matter is right on the money: according to the National Journal’s nonpartisan rating of Congress people, both are to the far left politically.  In addition, “‘The policy differences between Clinton and Obama are so slight they are almost nonexistent to the average voter,’ said Richard Lau, a Rutgers University political scientist.”

Also according to the National Journal, McCain has a lifetime rating as a conservative, although he’s grown less conservative with the passage of time.  He is something of a centrist which means, ironically, that if he’s elected, he could be the uniter, which is the mantle Obama currently claims for himself.  That is, Obama speaks unity, but operates at the fringe.  McCain really does seem to function out of the center.

Hat tip: Captain’s Quarters

Weasel Whacked

I freely admit it wasn’t one of my best posts, so I can’t say I’m surprised to have squeaked in with only one vote.  Oh! You want to know what I’m talking about? Last week’s Weasel results, of course. But enough about my rather dismal showing. Let’s talk about the winners:

On the Council side, first place went to Done With Mirrors for Liberal Fascism. In it, Callimachus basically said that he doesn’t like Jonah Goldberg’s book, and then he goes on to rip-roaring discussion about fascism. Since you all know that I really loved Goldberg’s book, I didn’t vote for that post, even though I have to admit that it’s a really good one. Such is the problem of voting with emotions, not intellect (liberals, take heed). There was a seven way tie for second place, with the Watcher breaking the tie and awarding official second place rank to Right Wing Nut House for Grim Choices Confront GOP — a premise and a post with which I entirely agree.

Just so you can see how wildly weird the voting was (and so I feel better about my tie for last place), here’s the ranking (primary voters take heed):

Votes Council link
2 2/3 Liberal Fascism
Done With Mirrors
1 Grim Choices Confront GOP
Right Wing Nut House
1 ‘I Have A Dream’ — The Democrat’s Version
Joshuapundit
1 Hillanomix 101
Wolf Howling
1 The Radicalization of American Politics
The Glittering Eye
1 Di Caprio Lies and Hustles Bucks
Cheat Seeking Missiles
1 Our Out of Control Borders: Who’s Accountable?
The Education Wonks
1 What Is “Freedom”?
The Colossus of Rhodey
1/3 Rose Colored Rudy
Soccer Dad
1/3 The Problem With Obama’s Race
Bookworm Room

Actually, when it comes to divided voting, things really weren’t much better over at the non-Council side — that is, if you don’t count the overwhelming win IowaHawk received for the masterful ByLines of Brutality (a post that I submitted and for which I voted):

4 Bylines of Brutality
Iowahawk
1 2/3 It’s All Israel’s Fault
Gates of Vienna
1 2/3 About the Anarcholibertarians
The QandO Blog
1 1/3 Doctors and Death and Doctors Death
The IgNoble Experiment
1 The Navy’s Failing China Policy
Pajamas Media
1/3 Let’s End the Cold War and Get Rid of Marxist BS Once and for All
Dr. Sanity
1/3 Pondering the Google Slap
Dodgeblogium
1/3 A Relatively Scientific Experiment
Power Line
1/3 Media Lens Tries History, Yet Again
Oliver Kamm

It will be interesting to see what happens this week — if we’ll be able to coalesce around a single leader, or if we’ll again be incapable of coming together.

The media again goes after the military

First, the NY Times announced that American troops were crazed killers. Next, it announced that they were crazed homeless people. The latest salvo the media has launched at the troops to counteract the Surge’s success is that they’re so crazy they are killing themselves in droves:

As many as 121 Army soldiers committed suicide in 2007, a jump of some 20 percent over the year before, officials said Thursday.

The rise comes despite numerous efforts to improve the mental health of a force stressed by a longer-than-expected war in Iraq and the most deadly year yet in the now six-year-old conflict in Afghanistan.

Internal briefing papers prepared by the Army’s psychiatry consultant early this month show there were 89 confirmed suicides last year and 32 deaths that are suspected suicides and still under investigation.

More than a quarter of those — about 34 — happened during deployments in Iraq, an increase from 27 in Iraq the previous year, according to the preliminary figures.

The report also shows an increase in the number of attempted suicides and self-injuries — some 2,100 in 2007 compared to less than 1,500 the previous year and less than 500 in 2002.

The total of 121 suicides last year, if all are confirmed, would be more than double the 52 reported in 2001, before the Sept. 11 attacks prompted the Bush administration to launch its counter-terror war. The toll was 87 by 2005 and 102 in 2006.

I’m not quarreling with the numbers for last year, which equal 121 individual tragedies. Nor do I challenge the fact that the number of suicides has been rising. However, I do have a problem with the absence of context. The story makes it appear as if there’s an ever escalating suicide epidemic in the military that sets it apart from the general American population. That is, the article forgot to compare these numbers to society at large. Significantly, it also doesn’t distinguish between active duty, guard and reserve (502,790, 346,288 and 189,975, all of which add up to 1,039,053). As always context makes things interesting.
Here are some statistics regarding suicide in America as of 2004:

Now lets look at Army demographics for the year 2006 (the last I could find):

  • Total number of troops, active, guard and reserve: 1,039,053
  • Total number of active and guard troops (not counting reserve): 849,078
  • Total active duty was 502,790
  • Men make up 86% of active duty soldiers (430,000).
  • Whites made up 61.6 percent of active duty soldiers, or almost 310,000 troops.

I’m not able to find the average age for the Army (I don’t know why), but I’m willing to bet it hovers between 19-24, with the weight at about 20.

Okay, bear with me here, and correct me when I go wildly wrong, but I think one can make a few predictions about what the suicide rate probably would be in the military if it hewed to general American statistics. First of all, if there are an average of 11.05 suicides for every 100,000 people, out of the total army strength of 1,039,053, one would expect a little more than 110 suicides, which is remarkably close to the 121 committed last year. And given that the Army is disproportionately male and that the rate of suicides is disproportionately high amongst men, one would have to expect that the average of 11.05 suicides would have to skew upwards to account for both of these disproportionalities. You then have to add in the fact that the average male soldiers age also places him in one of the high risk suicide categories (youths 15-24). After doing all that, you’d have to slide the rate down a little to reflect the fact that some of these men are minorities, who have lower suicides rates, but that kind of math is utterly beyond me. Any of you who can do math should feel free to chime in here and tell me by how much the suicide rate increases when you have a mostly white, young, male demographic in the military, and mostly white, young, male suicides in the general population. Complicated math or not, my rule of thumb tells me that, compared to the general population, the rate of Army suicides is not out of the ordinary.

Even if one rachets the numbers down from all troops and looks only at active duty and guard troops, the result isn’t that different. The total number of active and guard troops, as I noted above, is 849,078. That means that you could expect an average of 94 suicides per year. And then again, you’d have to do the higher math of factoring in all those young, white men and then factoring down slightly for minorities (who are 38.4$ of active duty troops and 25.5% of guard troops).

Things do get more tragic if one really rachets the numbers down to focus only on active duty suicides, because that would mean a base suicide rate that’s twice the national average. Even adjusting that for the young, white male military population probably wouldn’t offset the differential. I can’t find the report on which this news story is based, though, so I really don’t know which Army population is at issue.

In any event, as you think about all of this, consider that the report says that there are only 89 confirmed suicides, with 32 still being investigated. It’s certain that some of those being investigated will prove also to be suicides, but it’s anything but certain that all will.

Bottom line: It’s all very complicated for a math-phobe like me but, unless one is sure that the numbers in the article apply only to active duty troops, I’m fairly confident that the numbers, while showing 121 personal tragedies, do not prove that our American troops are killing themselves like flies. (Please correct me if I’m wrong.) In other words, while the news report, to the extent it gives numbers directly from military sources, is informative, to the extent the report makes it appear that troops are dying in droves as compared to other Americans, it’s misleading.

UPDATEGateway Pundit has an more interesting take on the story than I did, which is the fact that more troops committed suicide during the Clinton years than are now committing suicide.  Perhaps doing ones job, even a dangerous job, is less demoralizing and depressing than being marginalized and denigrated.

The great bloviator

You all know that I’ve been singularly unimpressed with Barack Obama’s rhetorical gifts. To me, he is just throws out platitudes — and he does that in an increasingly condescending manner. John Derbyshire is as unimpressed as I am, and has taken some time to dissect Obama’s language (h/t Paragraph Farmer):

I dunno, I must be missing a gene or two. Everybody, including even some conservatives, is telling me what a fine uplifting orator Barack Obama is. All I see is great gusts of hot air. When he says something that actually has any semantic content, either it is just false, or else it is naked socialism.

I was just looking through Obama’s latest oratorical masterpiece. It strikes me as obnoxious, where it is not just flatulent.

… we’ve got young people all across this country who have never had a reason to participate until now.

The “reason to participate,” for people of any age, is the sense of citizenly duty. This sense didn’t exist before Obama showed up?

We’re up against the belief that it’s all right for lobbyists to dominate our government, that they are just part of the system in Washington.

But lobbyists are part of the system in Washington. It says so in the First Amendment: “… to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” Obama wants to repeal the First Amendment?

We’re up against the conventional thinking that says your ability to lead as president comes from longevity in Washington or proximity to the White House.

That’s the conventional thinking? So how did Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush get elected President? None of them had any “longevity in Washington” — not even as much as you, Senator. Sure, I understand, this is throwing some of Hillary’s stuff back at her, but it’s still nonsense.

… real leadership is about … the ability to rally Americans from all walks of life around a common purpose, a higher purpose.

Not just cant, but Leninist cant. We are a republic of free people, not the tools of some “leader” pursuing a historical “purpose.” What is your “higher purpose,” Senator? And what happens to those of us who decline to rally around it?

You should read the rest of Derbyshire’s dissection here.

Interestingly, DQ and I were just talking about Obama’s speech making the other day, and it tracked somewhat along what Derbyshire was saying. DQ harked back to a childhood in the Southeast when people believed that it was okay to be proud to be an American. That viewpoint has vanished from much American discourse, especially on the Left. He thinks that Obama is telling people that they can feel good about themselves. DQ thinks that this means that they can feel good about being Americans.

I think DQ is being altogether too generous. Obama is spouting the same Leftist stuff as always: Capitalism (the American system) = bad. The War in Iraq (America’s active line of defense against Islamic terrorism) = bad. Lobbyists (the American medium of free speech in Washington) = bad. And so on. Dig into what Obama is really saying, and you’ll realize that he wants to change everything and model us on some semi-failed European system. So, when he voices vague phrases about feeling good, he doesn’t sound to me like a patriot; he sounds to me like a cross between Dr. Phil and Oprah. It’s all about meaningless self-esteem cant, with no substance to support it.

The whole thing reminds me strongly of the self-esteem movement in American education, a movement so silly that even Gary Trudeau lampooned it in his comic strip. If I remember the details correctly, California started the whole thing off when it decided to spend lots of money at schools to encourage kids to feel good about themselves. Understand that this did not mean actually teaching students skills that would justify their feeling good about themselves. Instead, it was a fortune in tax payer money to teach kids the Stuart Smalley mantra: “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough and, doggone it, people like me!” Other school systems quickly followed suit, and now these affirmatives are a constant diet for American students. If you doubt me, just visit any American school and read the posters on the walls.

I’m sure you won’t be surprised to discover that, when someone actually looked at the hard benefits of this approach, there were none. The students raised on this constant diet of meaningless affirmations thought extremely well of themselves, functioned badly, and could not deal with adversity. Frankly, it seems like a bad political model to me, but it’s about the only thing Obama has to offer that sets him about from Hillary (aside from his race, as compared to her sex). But don’t worry. When we’re all completely dysfunctional — but feeling really good about ourselves – the government will be there to help.

UPDATEJames Taranto also catches Obama the Demagogue in the act of saying . . . nothing.

On McCain’s apparent front-runner status *UPDATED*

Compared to Romney, I don’t like McCain. Compared to Obama or Hillary, I adore McCain and would happily vote for him — heck, if I were voting in Chicago (home turf for both Obama and Hillary), I’d vote for him twice, and have my ancestors vote for him too. You dance with them whut brung ya’, and it looks as if McCain may be the Republican dance partner in the 2008 Presidential election.

So, if you’re one of those conservatives who who thinks McCain is too liberal (and, compared to your candidate of choice, whoever he is, I’m sure you’re right), or who worries about the Gang of 14 (although reading this may allay some of your concerns), or who hasn’t forgiven him for McCain-Feingold, or who just plain doesn’t like him — get over it! He may not be the perfect Republican candidate, but he’s so much better than either Hillary or Obama that it really doesn’t matter. If you believe in conservative principles and fear the fall-out from Democratic policies, you have what amounts to a moral obligation to get out there in November and vote for him. Do not, I repeat, do not let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

Also, if it makes you feel better about casting your vote, there are some indications that he is truly a winning candidate. That is, you won’t be compromising your principles with a vote that is ultimately wasted. A Rasmussen poll that the Captain discusses has him beating out both Obama and Hillary if an election were held today. Now, that may change when one of the Dems emerges victorious from the primary process, in which case more voters may coalesce around the winner, but it’s still good news for those who feel that it’s as important for a Democrat to lose as for a Republican to win.

And if you think I’m being exceptionally vindictive in devoutly wishing for a Democratic loss, here’s my defense: While I think we as a nation are a robust enough to fix any economic messes the Democrats may cause, I also think that we have a one shot deal to remain ascendant when it comes to the World War that the Islamists are waging against us. If we have a Democrat in the White House, especially Obama who can’t get out of Iraq fast enough, we’ll have wasted that shot.

(I have to admit I’m not pleased with Michelle Malkin for hinting that she’d rather see Hillary win than help out McCain. Hmmm….)

UPDATEBig Lizards has a very compelling post about McCain’s charisma — an important intangible we often overlook.  I have to say that, when I catch McCain’s speeches on the radio, I enjoy listening, which is not something I can say about any other politician’s speeches, including those of my man Romney.

A fun political time-waster

I don’t think it’s very useful, but this new website — Select 2008 — is a rather fun way to while away time examine political issues and seeing from issue to issue where your candidates stand.  Actually, that’s unfair of me.  It may be useful to people who aren’t up on the issues and the candidates the way I, a political junkie, am.  As for me, it simply confirmed that, in my dotage, I’m a conservative, and that McCain will function as my political candidate, although he’s definitely not my top choice.  That is, it reminded me that if McCain does win the primaries, I can vote for him with a good conscience especially since, with an even better conscience, I do not want to see any of the Democratic candidates win.

Just asking….

Is it a bad sign if you have Peanut M&Ms for breakfast because they’re the fastest thing to prepare and have lots of instant energy?

Things here should shudder to a halt in a few hours, and I’ll get to some serious writing then (I hope).  For now, I’ll just chug away, knowing that I’m having a better day than either Edwards or Giuliani (sigh).

More reasons to worry about marijuana

A couple of weeks ago, I blogged about the societal problems fully legalized marijuana has brought to Holland. Those facts ran counter to the “marijuana is harmless compared to hard drugs” line of reasoning that has been used to justify legalizing marijuana. It now looks as if the “marijuana is less harmful than cigarettes” argument may also be a fallacy:

Smoking a joint is equivalent to 20 cigarettes in terms of lung cancer risk, scientists in New Zealand have found, as they warned of an “epidemic” of lung cancers linked to cannabis.

Studies in the past have demonstrated that cannabis can cause cancer, but few have established a strong link between cannabis use and the actual incidence of lung cancer.

In an article published in the European Respiratory Journal, the scientists said cannabis could be expected to harm the airways more than tobacco as its smoke contained twice the level of carcinogens, such as polyaromatic hydrocarbons, compared with tobacco cigarettes.

The method of smoking also increases the risk, since joints are typically smoked without a proper filter and almost to the very tip, which increases the amount of smoke inhaled. The cannabis smoker inhales more deeply and for longer, facilitating the deposition of carcinogens in the airways.

“Cannabis smokers end up with five times more carbon monoxide in their bloodstream (than tobacco smokers),” team leader Richard Beasley, at the Medical Research Institute of New Zealand, said in a telephone interview.

“There are higher concentrations of carcinogens in cannabis smoke … what is intriguing to us is there is so little work done on cannabis when there is so much done on tobacco.”

The researchers interviewed 79 lung cancer patients and sought to identify the main risk factors for the disease, such as smoking, family history and occupation. The patients were questioned about alcohol and cannabis consumption.

In this high-exposure group, lung cancer risk rose by 5.7 times for patients who smoked more than a joint a day for 10 years, or two joints a day for 5 years, after adjusting for other variables, including cigarette smoking.

“While our study covers a relatively small group, it shows clearly that long-term cannabis smoking increases lung cancer risk,” wrote Beaseley.

I’m not using this post to advocate that we keep marijuana classified as an illegal drug.  Indeed, I think it ought to be legalized, since I would place it with alcohol and cigarettes as another socially accepted low-level, mind-altering substance.  However, I do believe that, before we do anything, we have an obligation to examine what marijuana really is, what it does to people who use it, and what it does to the societies in which it is used.  Only in that way can we have (a) an informed citizenry when it comes to its use and (b) reasonable laws to protect the larger society from any fallout associated with the drug.

In this regard, my stance is exactly the same as it is with regard to abortion.  In previous posts, I’ve castigated the abortion rights crowd for arguing the issue as if we’re still locked in the pre-1973 era.  Abortion can be approached honestly and intelligently only if we look at the way things are now, which includes a relaxation in attitudes towards out-of-wedlock (including teen) pregnancies, and increased knowledge about fetal viability and (through sonograms) the essential humanity of a fetus — none of which were issues back in the late 1960s through 1973, when Roe was decided.  It’s telling when advocacy groups feel that they can advance their agenda only from hiding the truth, not advancing it.

The man who is President Bush *UPDATED*

I’ve always liked President Bush, even when I thought I was a Democrat. I liked him even back in 2000, I cast my vote for Al Gore (yes, I did). Then, I was happy to tell people that I’d rather have Bush for my next door neighbor than my President, with the reverse being true for Gore — I could never imagine just shooting the bull with that man.

Now that he has been our President, we can see that Bush has weathered more in the last 8 years than most Presidents and he has consistently comported himself with dignity. He hasn’t attacked his opponents; he hasn’t engaged in scandalous behavior, personal or political; and he has never lost sigh of his goals. I haven’t agreed with all of his goals, although I’ve agreed with most. I think he’s kept his eye on the most important ball, which is world terrorism, while getting confused regarding Israel — a confusion that is the less forgivable given that Israel has always been the canary in the coal mine when it comes to Islamic terrorism. As they are, so shall we be. I also think he made government bigger, rather than smaller (a very un-conservative thing to have done), but I know Gore (or Kerry) would have done the same, only much more so. Indeed, even in those areas in which I disapprove of Bush’s conduct, Gore (or Kerry) would have earned infinitely more of my disapproval. And as for those areas in which I think Bush did well — as to those, I can’t even contemplate a Gore or Kerry presidency.

In any event, given the contumely continuously heaped on someone I believe has been a good President and someone I’ve never doubted is a good man, it was with real delight that I read the Anchoress’s heartfelt homage to President Bush.

UPDATECheck out the last paragraph of this Obama-centric story about the SOTU address to see again what a good person George Bush is.

This is weird — the 9th Circuit issued a correct ruling

The Ninth Circuit, which is the laughing stock of the federal judiciary because it is overruled so often, did something bizarre yesterday: it issued a Constitutionally correct decision. Not only that, the decision meant that a citizens’ group will be able to engage in free speech that is contrary to the type of speech the 9th Circuit prefers. I’m impressed:

An Arizona anti-abortion group’s right of free speech was violated when the state refused to issue specialty license plates with the message “Choose Life,” a federal appeals court ruled Monday.

Reversing a judge’s decision, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco said Arizona’s License Plate Commission had approved less-controversial plates for other nonprofit organizations, such as associations of police and firefighters and the Wildlife Conservation Council, before turning down the Arizona Life Coalition.

The commission “clearly denied the application based on the nature of the message,” Judge Richard Tallman said in the 3-0 ruling. He rejected the commission’s argument that it was entitled to control the content of state-issued license plates and said Arizona was attempting to restrict free expression.

Opponents of abortion have been trying for years to get states to let them use license plates as mobile billboards for the “Choose Life” motto. Judges’ reaction has been mixed.

A South Carolina law expressly authorizing the plates was struck down in 2003 by a federal appeals court because the state did not allow similar plates for abortion-rights advocates, but another appeals court upheld a similar Tennessee law in 2006. The Supreme Court has not taken up the issue.

Courts have generally frowned, however, on a state’s singling out abortion-related messages for exclusion from license plates. Monday’s ruling comes five days after a federal judge ordered Missouri to issue “Choose Life” plates, saying state law gave officials too much leeway to reject license-plate messages because of their content.

California has allowed nonprofit groups to ask the Legislature to approve specialty license plates by submitting 7,500 paid applications. The fees, minus state expenses, are used by foundations that promote such causes as coastal protection, Lake Tahoe, Yosemite National Park and the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Backers of a proposed “Choose Life” plate in California have failed several times to win legislative passage, but won a federal court ruling in 2004 that declared the entire program unconstitutional on the ground that it gave lawmakers unlimited authority to decide which messages to accept. The judge in that case allowed previously approved plates to remain, however, and the state has not established a new specialty-plate program.

Monday’s ruling set legal standards for federal courts in nine Western states, including California. It stemmed from a 2003 lawsuit by the Arizona Life Coalition, which had applied the previous year for a license plate that would display the “Choose Life” slogan with a picture of two children’s faces.

Eating our own *UPDATED*

I caught a minute of Mike Gallagher today, and he was talking about the fact that Republicans are more critical of Republican candidates than Democrats are critical of Democratic candidates. It occurred to me that, at least in this election cycle, that may be because there are real, substantive differences between the Republican candidates. We’ve got Ron Paul, who is a pure libertarian and possible white supremacist; John McCain, who is strong on defense, but weak on free speech, and spineless to environmental extremists; Mitt Romney, who has positioned himself as a traditional conservative who is for strong borders, a strong national defense, pro-life, etc., with a sound grasp of economic issues; Mike Huckabee, who is loudly Christian, a social conservative, and a big government liberal; and Rudy Giuliani, who is a social liberal and a hawk. With the exception of Ron Paul, all have had leadership experience, but of a very different type: McCain was in the military; Romney ran businesses and the Massachusetts government; Huckabee governed Arkansas; and Giuliani ran huge criminal prosecutions and New York. So, just as there are differences in their approach to conservative politics (and all are more conservative than not), there are also significant differences in their practical experience. Republicans have a real choice, and real choice begets real debate.

It’s different with the Dems. For one thing, none of them have any managerial experience. They’ve all been Senators, which means working with a group of 99 other people. None have them has taken the lead in the Senate, so they can’t even point to leadership experience in those august chambers. John Edwards has a bit more private sector experience than the other two but I can tell you that even the most successful lawyer cannot be compared to a manager. Managing a case is not the same as manager a system — whether that system is a business or a government. Obama was an academic, which is the antithesis of management, and Hillary was, well, Hillary managed Bill, I guess. They’re all good at manipulating people, Edwards because he’s a trial lawyer, and Obama and Hillary because they’re Alinsky disciples, but that’s not leadership or management. So, they’re pretty much the same looked at from that point of view.

In terms of politics, they’re peas in a pod: they want out of Iraq, they deny that Islamists pose a threat to America, they like open borders, and they want more government involvement in everything (parenting, health care, education, managing people’s money, controlling businesses, etc), which means more taxes on people they decide are “rich.”

The fact that Edwards, Obama and Hillary are virtually indistinguishable on paper may explain why identity politics has become so important. It’s not just Hillary’s dirty politics and it’s not just that the “identity politics” chickens are coming home to roost. The preeminence of racial or sexual identity in this race has become the only way you can tell one Democratic candidate from another. And poor Edwards, distinguished by being white and male, is precluded by political correctness from trumpeting that fact. In other words, identity, by being the only difference between the candidates, is also the only area of debate left for the Democrats. And it’s no surprise that it is in this area — the substance-free area that will have absolutely nothing to do with the way in which a Democrat, if victorious, will govern — that the Democratic debate has become most heated.

So, I guess I’m happy that Republicans are focused on substance, and using their free speech rights to hammer out important issues that will have a lasting effect on America (if a Republican wins). And I’m desperately sad that the cookie-cutter Democrats, in order to have a debate and distinguish themselves in the eyes of the voters, have almost completely backed off from any substantive issues (as to which they have no meaningful differences), and devolved into childish racial and gender name calling. If Americans elect one of them, the Country will deserve what it gets.

UPDATE: Regarding the enthusiasm gap the media professes to find between Dems and Republicans, if one does indeed exist, I suspect that has more to do with the enthusiasm Democratic voters have for a shot at the White House than with anything else. That is, I think that, even more than feeling excitement about their own candidates, Democrats are simply excited about a possible chance to defeat Republicans.

UPDATE II: For another reason why there might be an “enthusiasm gap,” keep in mind that, while Bush’s presidency is almost over, Bush Derangement Syndrome continues in full force. Indeed, with the inevitable end of his presidency drawing near, Bush haters seem to be drawing on after burners for some new energy.

What will Obama change?

The mantra for Obama is change. I admit he’s a new face and a new color, but can anyone clue me in on how, politically, he is different from the other candidates? I mean this as a serious question, and I’d appreciate serious answers. So far, Teddy Kennedy seems representative of those who flock to the Obama standard, in that they’re mesmerized by what he’s not — he’s not a Republican, he’s not Clinton, and he’s not white — but no one seems to articulate what he is. And as a voter, since I think there’s a good chance I’ll be stuck with him as my President, I’d like a strong handle on what he actually stands for.

His website, by the way, does not help. I’ve gone to his issues page and discovered a few things that indicate that he’s almost identical to every other Democrat, except in the area of Iraq, where he’s not just a fool, but a damned fool.

First off, to the extent he has a little quotation at the top of his web page, what the heck does it mean? “I’m asking you to believe. Not just in my ability to bring about real change in Washington . . . I’m asking you to believe in yours.” My what? My believing in belief? My personal ability, as a Mom in Marin to change Washington? I keep thinking of Peter Pan and Tinker Bell, with that theory going along the lines of “If you believe in fairies, clap your hands.” This supports my belief that he’s a master of meaningless platitudes, a demogogue who says nothing but who, like Chance the Gardener, enables people to attach their own meanings to his banal statements.

But back to his issues page. As far as I can see, when it comes to the economy, he’s promising to expand the government, which strikes me as same old, same old Democratic stuff. He’s going to give a large rebate to those who pay the least in taxes (which means he’s going to raise taxes against everyone else). He’s going to force government preschools, something that was tried in California and that, thank goodness, failed. There aren’t a whole lot of details, but there are promises: I’ll make schools better; I’ll be a tough negotiator, I’ll sneak a national health care plan in under the guise of benefitting small businesses. And on and on. It sounds like a typical Democratic plan for more government involvement in people’s lives and finances. No change here.

On Iraq, he opens by announcing that yeah, well, the Surge worked, but it didn’t work well enough to suit Obama’s high standards (whatever the heck they are when it comes to Iraq). Obama does assure us that he knows what he’s doing in Iraq, not because he’s studied military strategy, or the political situation in Iraq, or Islamic fundamentalism, or the Middle East, but because he voted against the war. Even if I agreed with his “no” vote, which I don’t, I’d feel compelled to add that even a stopped watch is right twice a day. It doesn’t mean Obama has any understanding of the complex situation in Iraq. Also, to the extent someone is whispering in his ear, I’m not thrilled about the radical pro-Palestinian whisperer he’s chosen. Since Obama has professed that his only qualification to deal with Iraq is his “NO, NO, NO” stance it’s scarcely surprising that his entire Iraq strategy is to bring all Americans home ASAP. It didn’t work in Vietnam, when it paved the way for the Killing Fields, and I’m quite sure that, if Obama succeeds in this plan, Vietnam and Cambodia will look positively benign compared to what happens in Iraq when he whistles the troops home. Oh, and by the way, once he’s removed the iron hand, Obama assures us that he’ll use his empty velvet glove to really, seriously, pretty-please ask the Iraqis to get along with each other. I’m sure that will work. I lost heart about here and couldn’t make myself read the rest of his Iraq page. The man is a lightweight. He’ll certainly change things in Iraq, but only for the worse.

On homeland security, which marches hand in hand with Iraq, Obama makes a few obvious promises, none of which are harbingers of change: he’ll guard chemical plants and water supplies, help families unite in emergencies, and track nuclear waste. Laudable goals all and, as far as I know, they’re already part of national homeland policy. Obama makes no reference whatsoever to the reason why we might need homeland security, something that was not on the political agenda ten years ago.  Apparently we’re protecting these things against chimerical beings, without form or identity.  Change? For a Democrat with a head buried deeply in the sands of denial, I don’t think so.

Healthcare? He’ll nationalize it, an idea that’s old (think Hillarycare), so I’m still looking for change.

On faith, Obama assures us he has it, but I have to admit to being a bit worried about the company he keeps, given that his minister is an outspoken antisemite and black supremacist. Kind of makes you wonder about Obama’s own deeply held beliefs. This really isn’t a change issue, unless you think it’s a change to have a closet antisemite, black supremacist in the White House.

And how about the judiciary? Well, Obama doesn’t really say. That is, he has no tab for “judiciary,” so you kind of have to guess. Considering that he supports unlimited abortion rights, and considering that, whether you support abortion or not, you have to concede (if you’re honest) that it’s not a right hidden in the Constitution, one has to assume that he will advance judges who believe in creative Constitutional interpretation. As you know, I am someone who forces myself to be honest here, because I’m ambivalent about abortion. I’ve grown up believing in it, and I think there is a narrow place for it (which doesn’t mean it’s an alternative for birth control), and would hate to see it vanish entirely. I’m enough of a Constitutional purist, though, that I believe we should arrive at abortion rights (whatever they end up being) either through appropriate states’ rights action or through a national Constitutional amendment. The Supreme Court’s cheating in 1973 cheapened the Courts and the Constitution.

Anyway, I didn’t mean to go on for such a long time about Obama, but I truly don’t see any “change” in him, aside from the fact that his election, if it occurred, would change us over from a Republican to a Democratic administration, with all the accompanying ideological changes that would inevitably occur with such a shift. As far as I can see, the only differences he has from Hillary are that he’s black and she’s white; he’s male and she’s female; and he’s an idiot when it comes to Iraq, while she’s a pragmatist. Oh, and he’s quite possibly a closet black supremacist and antisemite, neither of which are labels I like to see near an American president.

So, if you can offer concrete reasons why Obama is a genuine agent for real change (as opposed to snarky comments or meaningless adulation), please use my comments section for that purpose. Otherwise, I still think Obama’s a stuffed shirt, with little to offer in any significant areas of government, except for a real chance to be profoundly, dangerously stupid when it comes to America’s security. And if you can’t offer any reasons, can you explain to me why everyone is jumping on the Obama bandwagon when he’s precisely the same as the other candidates, only with even less experience than Hillary (who at least knows how to find her way around the West Wing). God knows, I never thought I’d promote Hillary’s candidacy but, compared to the others, she looks less scary.

UPDATEMitt Romney offers a bit more substance when it comes to (a) acknowledging the terrorism against us and (b) having a plan.

Causes Parental Suffering

Its official name is Child Protective Services (and most parents recognize its acronym, “CPS”), but I have to think that my post title more accurately describes it, especially when it’s aided by busy-bodies — people who don’t really want to help a situation, but who do want to cause a little excitement in their lives. I have a collection of CPS stories — all of which happened to friends, family or neighbors — and they’re a reminder of what happens when you set up an agency that exists only if it can ensure that a sufficient problem exists to justify its mandate. With details changed to protect people’s identities, here are the CPS stories of people I know well:

In the era before digital cameras, a young mother had her baby asleep in the car. She wanted to drop film off at one of those parking lot photo booths, so she drove to a parking space immediately adjacent to the photo booth. She got out of the car, locked the car, walked the few feet to the photo booth, and conducted her business. What she didn’t know is that, during the few minutes she was away from her car, a busy-body had seen a baby inside, written down her license plate and then reported her to CPS. Based on this witness’ testimony, CPS went after her with a vengeance. I never heard how that one ended up, but I assume it did the way so many of these stories do: with CPS guaranteeing itself the right to look over the parents’ shoulder forever.

Last year, a mother with a 5 year old and a 3 year old went to pick her 5 year old up from preschool. The 3 year old was napping in the car, so she parked the car in front of the school where a bunch of other parents were milling about, locked the car, grabbed her 5 year old and hustled back to the car. Total time gone: about 4 minutes. When she got backed to the car, a woman grabbed her, announced a citizen’s arrest, and reported that she’d already called the police. The police showed up, arrested the mother, and she’s now negotiating with CPS for custody of her children. I know her well and can guarantee you that she is in all respects an exemplary and loving mother — nor is CPS saying otherwise.

A mother had a running battle with her 13 year old about the fact that the latter liked to leave her plugged in blow-dryer next to the bathtub. The teenager refused to believe that this was an electrical hazard. Eventually, one morning, the mother took the blow dryer away. The daughter left the house in tears, bewailing the fact that her mother was cruel for leaving her with un-styled hair. A neighbor called CPS. CPS stormed in and informed the mother that, henceforth, she was not allowed to take away any of her daughter’s possessions or interfere in any way with her daughter’s grooming, or discipline her in any way. Doing any of those things would give CPS justification to remove the child. No one — including CPS personnel — claimed that the mother had done anything other than remove her daughter’s blow-dryer, making her cry.

A mom got into a fight with her 10 year old son about household chores. The 10 year old went to school and, aided by his friends, told the teacher he was being abused. The teacher called CPS. CPS arrived, and the 10 year old son, when pressed, stated that the abuse consisted of the fact that his mother sometimes forgot to buy milk. There were no other allegations against her and, again, every indication was that she was an attentive, loving mother (as attested by her other three children). CPS required her to go to child-rearing classes and kept up surprise inspections for over a year. She was told “comply or lose your child.”

Parents of a newborn took their child into the pediatrician about a spot on the child’s arm. The pediatrician found nothing wrong but over-worried parents. The next time the mom saw the pediatrician, she complained that she and her husband were sleep deprived and their tempers were fraying. The pediatrician called CPS. Solely on the basis of the one doctor’s visit and the mother’s statement about frayed tempers, CPS arranged with a prosecutor to have the father charged with child endangerment and threatened him with the loss of his green card and deportation.

I had my own little run-in with a busy-body the other day. I had some books to return to the library, but my kids, 7 and 9 at the time, elected to stay in the car and play with their video games. While I was in the library, an elderly couple came running and told the librarian, “You need to call the police. There’s a [describing my car] car out there with two infants in it.” I listened into disbelief and then announced to the librarian, “That’s my car, and Bookworm 1 and Bookworm 2 are playing their Nintendos in there.” Within a second of receiving this information, the librarian relaxed completely and hustled the couple away. She knew my kids and knew this was a ridiculous charge. However, if I hadn’t been right there, I’m sure she would have called the police and I would have had to answer to charges of child abandonment.

Those are just stories I know. I bet all of you have stories.

By telling these stories I am not denying that there are terrible cases of child abuse going on around us. Nor do I deny that affluent communities can have child abuse too — although I’d be willing to bet that, no matter how politically correct you want to be, child abuse is going to be more prevalent where people are dogged by poverty, crowded housing and substance abuse. In each of the cases I’ve described, the problem was that a busy-body went off half-cocked, and CPS came in with all guns blazing, using its massive power — mostly in the form of a threat to remove children — to charge parents with criminal acts, to entitle CPS to free run of a home, and to remove from parents any ability reasonably to discipline their children.

It’s this last that has always gotten to me. When I was a kid, my mother had two weapons in her arsenal to deal with naughty behavior. When I was very little, she put me in a playpen. In there, I was safe, I was near her, and I had to learn to entertain myself. When I got older, my Mom spanked, with her hand. She didn’t beat me, she didn’t whip me, she didn’t strike out randomly. She made a rule and, if I broke it, there was a quick “whap!” and it was over. I usually didn’t break the rule a second time, and I never broke it a third. In my house, we all knew the rules, and my Mom could trust us a lot. My Mom didn’t have a lot of residual anger, either, because the house ran like a well-oiled machine. It was very peaceful.

My kids are lovely human beings but, when they were little, they were distinguished by being exceptionally headstrong, impulsive and independent. My kids had no off switch, nor was I able to provide one. Because I was afraid of CPS, I didn’t put them in play pens (instead, I cordoned off my entire house) and I tried never to use even mild corporal punishment. When they broke a rule, the response was “time outs” and “removal of privileges” and “long talks” — all of these with children under six. My spirited children couldn’t have cared less. Time outs didn’t affect my energizer bunnies in the least. Removal of privileges? Who cares? Talks? Great.

What all this meant was that, for me, parenting was unbearably frustrating. I had enormous responsibility and no power whatsoever. I ended up doing what any reasonably intelligent person would do under those circumstances: I put them in preschool. Having them around was too much work and too little pleasure. Preschool made their behavior issues someone else’s problem. And because I had a good preschool, and because my kids are great people, and because I love them very much, things have turned out pretty darn well. I do wonder, though, if I would have kept my children home more if the threat of CPS hadn’t made me such a passive parent that it was easier not to have my children around at all.

What do you all think? Do you have CPS stories? Can you defend CPS — not in its role as defender of genuinely abused children, but in its role as bully of the middle class?

Check back later

I’ve already got two posts started, one in my head and one on the computer, but have to head off to a meeting.  Check back later.  Meanwhile, I’ll leave you with the words of that good, longtime, adamant liberal, Mr. Bookworm:  “Does anyone care that Kennedy endorsed Obama?”

You can be a Muslim and a good citizen too

A nice story of genuine heroism out of Britain:

Among the new Britons taking part in citizenship ceremonies today will be one man who has already put his life on the line to protect his adopted country.

Reda Hassaine will stand in Islington Town Hall, North London, to affirm allegiance to the Queen and pledge to give his “loyalty to the United Kingdom and to respect its rights and freedoms”.

Mr Hassaine’s journey to this point has been long and dangerous. An Algerian who went undercover in Finsbury Park mosque to gather information on extremists, he has endured beatings and death threats, and abandonment by his spymasters. After years of fighting to be British, he told The Times: “At last I can look forward to planning my life, to being able to travel freely. I will be so proud to call myself a British citizen.”

Mr Hassaine, 46, arrived in Britain in 1994, one of thousands fleeing the civil conflict between Islamist guerrillas and the Algerian military. As a journalist, he was under threat of death from the Islamists, and, after a friend was murdered, he volunteered for the Algerian secret services. He began attending mosques in North London where exiled members of the Armed Islamic Group were raising funds and planning attacks in Algeria and France.

Mr Hassaine was also asked to pass information to DGSE, the French intelligence service, and he established contact with the London embassy. Their interest in his work grew as Abu Hamza al-Masri turned the Finsbury Park mosque into an extremist haven. Mr Hassaine alleges that the French discussed kidnapping the cleric.

By the end of 1998 Mr Hassaine was working for Scotland Yard’s Special Branch before being passed to an MI5 handler. He continued to report on the activities of Abu Hamza and Abu Qatada, the Palestinian cleric who ran a Friday prayer group from a community centre near Baker Street. But Britain did not regard the growing band of Islamistswith the same seriousness as either France or Algeria. The French nicknamed the city Londonistan but at the end of the 1990s the main terrorist threat to Britain was still assessed to be the IRA and dissident Irish republican groups.

In 2000 Mr Hassaine’s cover was blown and he was badly beaten by Abu Qatada’s henchmen. He claims that his MI5 handlers, who he says had promised him British citizenship in return for his information, dropped him.

“I volunteered to work for the intelligence services of all three countries because all of them had the same enemy,” he said. “The only reward I expected was from God, who teaches that if you save a life it is like you have saved all of humanity and if you kill it is as if you have killed all of humanity.”  (Emphasis mine. — ed.)

After September 11, 2001, Mr Hassaine became a prominent whistleblower, revealing how Britain had turned “a blind eye” to the Islamist threat.

His decision to go public seemed to threaten his hopes of citizenship. His former wife and his two children became citizens in 2005 but he had to wait. In a letter to Treasury solicitors, Mr Hassaine’s lawyers wrote: “Mr Hassaine was paid very little for his work but agreed to do so on the promise that citizenship would be arranged for him and his family and that he would be protected. Instead he has been threatened with deportation and his life has been put at great risk.”

This month the Home Office wrote to Mr Hassaine congratulating him. He said: “This is all I ever wanted. It gives my life a security that it has lacked for years.”

Taxes are soooo stressful

I hate tax season, not just because I have to pay the government, but because I have to listen to my husband ask “What were you thinking when you….?”  “Why didn’t you….?”  “Why did you….?”  It doesn’t help that his questions are usually correct in that I mis-categorized something, or lost track of something, or committed some other reasonably careless financial error. As I point out to him every year, the fact that he voiced precisely the same harangues in the preceding year (16 times and counting), doesn’t seem to have changed my basic approach to these issues.

And I always hasten to add that he can’t take the moral high ground regarding my nonexistent learning curve, at least not as far as I’m concerned, because this is a man who boasts proudly of the fact that he doesn’t know how to operate any household appliances, and rather aggressively refuses to gain any mastery over all the household and parenting tasks for which I’m responsible.  As I’ve blogged before, some of us don’t seem suited to wearing hats for both Ward and June Cleaver.  In other words, the old song was wrong.  Apparently I can’t both bring home the bacon and fry it up in a pan.  (Although that last is not really true, I do both, and do both quite well.  It’s just that I can’t do either perfectly.)

Britain’s descent into madness

From Mark Steyn:

My favorite headline of the year so far comes from The Daily Mail in Britain: “Government Renames Islamic Terrorism As ‘Anti-Islamic Activity’ To Woo Muslims.”

Her Majesty’s government is not alone in feeling it’s not always helpful to link Islam and the, ah, various unpleasantnesses with suicide bombers and whatnot. Even in his cowboy Crusader heyday, President Bush liked to cool down the crowd with a lot of religion-of-peace stuff. But the British have now decided that kind of mealy-mouthed “respect” is no longer sufficient. So, henceforth, any terrorism perpetrated by persons of an Islamic persuasion will be designated “anti-Islamic activity” Britain’s home secretary, Jacqui Smith, unveiled the new brand name in a speech a few days ago. “There is nothing Islamic about the wish to terrorize, nothing Islamic about plotting murder, pain and grief,” she told her audience. “Indeed, if anything, these actions are anti-Islamic.”

[snip]

The British home secretary would respond that not all moderate imams are as gung-ho to detonate moppets. Which is true. But, by insisting on re-labeling terrorism committed by Muslims in the name of Islam as “anti-Islamic activity,” Her Majesty’s government is engaging not merely in Orwellian Newspeak but in self-defeating Orwellian Newspeak. The broader message it sends is that ours is a weak culture so unconfident and insecure that if you bomb us and kill us our first urge is to find a way to flatter and apologize to you.

Here’s another news item out of Britain this week: A new version of The Three Little Pigs was turned down for some “excellence in education” award on the grounds that “the use of pigs raises cultural issues” and, as a result, the judges “had concerns for the Asian community” — i.e., Muslims. Non-Muslim Asians — Hindus and Buddhists – have no “concerns” about anthropomorphized pigs.

This is now a recurring theme in British life. A while back, it was a local government council telling workers not to have knick-knacks on their desks representing Winnie-the-Pooh’s porcine sidekick, Piglet. As Martin Niemöller famously said, first they came for Piglet and I did not speak out because I was not a Disney character and, if I was, I’m more of an Eeyore. So then they came for the Three Little Pigs, and Babe, and by the time I realized my country had turned into a 24/7 Looney Tunes it was too late, because there was no Porky Pig to stammer “Th-th-th-that’s all, folks!” and bring the nightmare to an end.

You’ll want to read the rest, which you’ll find here.

Wet, wet and more wet

This is one of the rainiest days I can remember in I don’t know how long. Huge drops of water falling steadily for hours. I live on a hill and the street in front of my house looks like a river. My back yard is flat and flooded. I’m pretty sure I caught a quick glimpse of Noah floating by.

And I will establish my covenant with you, neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of a flood; neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth. And God said, This is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth. And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud: And I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh. And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth. And God said unto Noah, This is the token of the covenant, which I have established between me and all flesh that is upon the earth.

Three must-reads

I finally caught up with three articles that I think are pretty much must-reads, all of them reprinted at National Review Online:

1.  Thomas Sowell about the problems with McCain’s age — problems we can’t pretend do not exist.  (And as someone who has watched the remarkably quick aging process my bright, energetic, enthusiastic, healthy mother experienced as she neared her 80s, it’s a very important topic.)

2.  Charles Krauthammer about John Edward’s angry new persona — one that completely rejects, without any explanation, just about everything he advocated during his short life as a Senator.

3.  Mona Charen about Chavez’s increasingly strident anti-Semitism, and that steps he’s taken to make Venezuela Judenrein.

Devoid of inspiration, so here’s Genesis

I’m summarizing deposition transcripts and it is a mind numbing experience, to say the least.  I’m also utterly uninspired by anything in today’s news.  For example, I believe Hillary when she says she has absolutely no memory of meeting Rezko.  It’s clearly an old photo (check out Hill’s hair); I’m sure she did take hundreds, if not thousands, of these “I met the President and his wife” photos; and she’d never have raised the matter against Obama if she thought it could bite her.  So no news here.  Everyone move along.

As for the upset about the polite Republican debate, why are people fussing?  I think it’s great.  I want to elect the candidate who can best beat the Democrats, not the candidate who can be nastiest to his fellow Republicans — especially since that same nastiness can later be used as fodder by the Dems during the general election.  It’s great that they were talking about their experience and abilities and comparing those to Hillary’s lack of same.  The only thing about which I quibble is that they failed to attack the Democratic agenda more globally.  It would have been smarter than piling on Hillary.

And now, with a brain sucked completely dry by depositions that leave me wondering if my side or the other side in the case boasts the more skilled sociopathic liar (since they’re all spinning whoppers), I give you Genesis:

Does this mean Bush didn’t lie? Yes, I think it does. *UPDATED*

I’ve never believed Bush lied and, to the extent his information was incorrect (as was information in the hands of all other Western agencies and governments), I assumed that our spywork was to blame. Now we get confirmation of what’s been rumored forever — it was Saddam who lied, never suspecting that his bluff would be called, not by Iran, but by the US:

Saddam Hussein initially didn’t think the U.S. would invade Iraq to destroy weapons of mass destruction, so he kept the fact that he had none a secret to prevent an Iranian invasion he believed could happen. The Iraqi dictator revealed this thinking to George Piro, the FBI agent assigned to interrogate him after his capture.

[snip]

“He told me he initially miscalculated… President Bush’s intentions. He thought the United States would retaliate with the same type of attack as we did in 1998…a four-day aerial attack,” says Piro. “He survived that one and he was willing to accept that type of attack.” “He didn’t believe the U.S. would invade?” asks Pelley, “No, not initially,” answers Piro.

Once the invasion was certain, says Piro, Saddam asked his generals if they could hold the invaders for two weeks. “And at that point, it would go into what he called the secret war,” Piro tells Pelley. But Piro isn’t convinced that the insurgency was Saddam’s plan. “Well, he would like to take credit for the insurgency,” says Piro.

Saddam still wouldn’t admit he had no weapons of mass destruction, even when it was obvious there would be military action against him because of the perception he did. Because, says Piro, “For him, it was critical that he was seen as still the strong, defiant Saddam. He thought that [faking having the weapons] would prevent the Iranians from reinvading Iraq,” he tells Pelley.

You can read the rest of the article here and, of course, watch the 60 Minutes interview.

Incidentally, it’s also apparent from the interview that, even if Saddam didn’t have WMDs in 2003, he was plenty prepared to have them in future:

He also intended and had the wherewithal to restart the weapons program. “Saddam] still had the engineers. The folks that he needed to reconstitute his program are still there,” says Piro. “He wanted to pursue all of WMD…to reconstitute his entire WMD program.” This included chemical, biological and nuclear weapons, Piro says.

But do you think any of this will change of the minds of the Bush lied/people died crowd?

UPDATE: From SGT Dave’s comment to this post:

The only problem I have at this time is that, contrary to conventional wisdom, there were indeed chemical weapons in Iraq at the time of the invasion. We captured some while I was serving in Baghdad (the 500 “old” rounds) and had at least one shell used as an IED.

Saddam had all the physical machinery in place to start making chemical and biological weapons; he didn’t have the chemical precursors, but was seeking them. The same goes with radiological/nuclear weaponry. The only reason he didn’t have these items was lack of ways he could get money out of the country and into the hands of the dealers.

The bottom line remains that at least five tons of the chemical weapons reported destroyed by the UN inspectors were recovered by US forces; the mobile laboratory facilities reported destroyed by Iraq and the UN were captured in western Iraq during the opening days of the war; the Saddam regime attempted to purchase yellow-cake uranium for refining (despite C.Wilson’s false statements to the press – contradicting his sworn report) in a centrifuge array that was captured by US forces – again reported as destroyed by Iraq and the UN; and Saddam ordered items shipped to Syria (though the contents of those shipments is not known/releasable at this time).

The writing on the wall is just about as clear as the German redeployment of the Panzer divisions eastward into Poland. If not for the Germans’ own crazy leader interfering with the battle plan, the ignorance and arrogance of the Russian leader of the time nearly brought down an entire nation in a single campaign season. While Bush is no Churchill or Roosevelt, I fear that the other choices we were given would have given results in the range of Stalin or Chamberlain.
Wow, quite a rant – even for me.

Even now the literate and relatively knowledgable are falling prey to the spin. Don’t concede that there “weren’t” WMD – there were. Don’t even let them put out that there “wasn’t a significant amount” – enough agent to kill over a million people ten times over is quite a bit. They are lying now, as they were before, but they are lying about the lies that they told about the lies. Don’t give them the first step; they will keep lying until the truth is only known by those willing to dig into the classified and official “sworn” documents.

Don’t be a victim of Newspeak and Newthink. They’re lying to you.

UPDATE II: And more from SGT Dave, whose comments here are factual enough that they shouldn’t be buried:

Saddam was killing dozens every day in Baghdad, not to mention the “swamp Arabs” and the Kurds.

Training areas used to practice hijackings – including a set of four that killed about 3,000 Americans.

Mid-grade weaponized anthrax, enough to pollute an area the size of Kansas.

Enough sarin, VX, and mustard gas to kill every Shi’ite in Baghdad.

And I won’t go into the torture and rape rooms – it took days to get the images out of my nightmares.

Saddam may have been lying on some things, but you cannot take that kind of risk. I’m out here; I was there. The truth is that we didn’t do it because we “can”. We did it because the risk was too high regarding what he could have done. There is no defense in thousands of miles of sea any longer.

Maybe I’m a simple reactionary, but I believe it was worth the time I spent there. I have friends that still serve and believe it was worth it. You didn’t get to meet a young woman of my acquaintance, there in Mashtal in Baghdad. She didn’t have fingers on her left hand and her right leg didn’t work quite right anymore. When she was eight Uday thought she was very pretty playing in the schoolyard. She can’t ever have kids and was trembling when she took the aid bag from my hand, with food for her mother and sister. My counterpart with Civil Affairs and her female terp got the story of why she was scared of the big men in uniform.

I will never, ever, forget the look on that woman’s face and the fear those unspeakable individuals made manifest in her. If one – ONE – little girl in that place was spared this by our actions, then it was worth every cent, every drop of blood, sweat, and tears we shed.

Those people were dead, Swamp. They were just waiting their turn to be buried. They have a chance, you selfish, greedy, me-me-me, complacent goof. And some died – but so did the founders of our nation, disregarding the “safe” path that allowed tyranny to rule unchallenged. Too many “liberals” complain of the cost, ignoring the pile of bodies that went to making their right (RIGHT!) to complain possible.

I’m ranting again; God save me, I am not as strong as I should be. I am fallable, weak, and human. But I am a soldier, and I will cleave to my duty and find strength in my honor. Don’t think that the men and women who gave all gave in vain. They gave for that elusive, precious, and irreplacable commodity – hope.

And I hope the Iraqi people fulfill that hope. But I know that the enemy is not attacking my home, my business, or my nation on our land. And I know why – so do you, if you look at what the enemy is saying.

And that too, is what “defend against all enemies, foreign and domestic” means. They would be fighting us anyway – you want the shootout in your house or theirs?

And Ari; there are no dispassionate historians; the ISP could have stopped the hijackers by turning their trainers over to INTERPOL when they crossed the border from Syria and moved overland to Turkey with ISP assistance before boarding planes into the EU to give guidance to the hijackers. Or even by taking Bin Laden out and shooting him instead of throwing a four day feast/orgy congratulating him on the USS Cole and US Embassy incidents.

‘Nuff said – There is a lot of Truth out there, but few, if any, are willing to address it.

Shredding the NY Times

There are many who think that, under Pinch’s guidance, the NY Times has gone from a somewhat biased, but still reputable paper, to a daily anti-Bush diatribe that has occasional nuggets of actual news interspersed amongst the partisan pieces. I still check out the movie reviews, but I generally support those who believe it makes a good bird cage liner. So it was with real pleasure that I read Andrew McCarthy’s fact-filled but nevertheless almost intemperate attack on the Times. In every paragraph, he both makes his case about the Times’ lead role in birdcages, while simultaneously exhibiting a gleeful venom that makes for fun reading:

A few months back, National Review Online published an article in which I argued that the New York Times’s woeful reporting on Judge Michael B. Mukasey — then a nominee, now serving as U.S. attorney general — was proof positive, as if more were necessary, that the Grey Lady had become an unreliable shill. Its news coverage, I contended, had “devolve[d] into Left-wing polemic, to the point where there is no longer a qualitative difference between the Times and The Nation. Save one: The Nation, self-described ‘flagship of the left,’ has no pretensions about being anything other than The Nation; the Times still pretends to be the Newspaper of Record.”

I didn’t expect anyone to take my word for it. Instead, I went painstakingly through reporter Philip Shenon’s “news” story to demonstrate how dreadfully incomplete, misleading and agenda-driven it was. You can judge for yourself whether I was successful, but if my e-mail is any indication, I was.

I most appreciated the reaction of some journalist friends. I was angry about what the Times had done, but I wasn’t the least bit surprised. By contrast, my journalist friends seemed genuinely stunned at the degree of shoddiness. It was not the New York Times they had once known and admired. Repeatedly came the refrain: I should send my article to the newspaper’s “Public Editor” — its ombudsman, or, as the Times preciously posits, the “readers’ representative.”

Though understandable, I still found the suggestion curious. After all, by my lights, the Times is not objective; it has become a partisan hack. If I’d written in, I’d have implicitly conceded something I didn’t believe to be true: that the newspaper is an honest broker from whom it is reasonable to expect straightforward introspection. I didn’t think the reporter and his editors had made a mistake, or even a series of them. I believe, instead, that the newspaper is invested in its anti-Bush, anti-anti-terrorism narrative and spins or elides facts as necessary to make stories fit. I wouldn’t have felt vindicated if the Public Editor said I was right (which, naturally, would never, ever happen), nor was I likely to be persuaded were he to say I was wrong. In truth, the probability was that he’d ignore me in any event. What, I asked myself, would be the point? So, life being too short, I dropped it.

I do feel vindicated now, though, thanks to my friend Ed Whelan, the brilliant legal analyst who heads the Ethics and Public Policy Center and edifies us daily at NRO’s law blog, “Bench Memos.” Ed’s head is harder than mine — it needs to be since there’s so much more in it. So he decided to crash it into the brick wall that I avoided.

Read here the rest of this joyous romp trouncing the Times.