Friday, September 30, 2005

Numbers from Afghanistan

I think these numbers from Joe Katzman do a nice job of demonstrating the magnitude of the task of holding elections in Afghanistan, and also demonstrate the ability of the MSM to bury the story just because it is a success for the Bush guys:

5,766 candidates who ran in elections that involved almost 6,300 polling centers containing about 26,250 polling stations across Afghanistan, run by 160,000 local polling staff. 40 million ballot papers, printed in Austria and Britain, were flown in to Afghanistan by 15 super-jumbo Antonov 124 flights and 8 jumbo jet flights, then delivered across Afghanistan by 1,247 donkeys, 300 horses, 24 camels, 1,200 trucks, 9 helicopters, and 39 transport planes. Also delivered: 40,000 bottles containing 7,000 liters of indelible ink, to stain voters' fingers. At least 4,700 domestic observers, 500 foreign observers, and 80,000 candidate agents monitored polling and counting, which is still ongoing. The elections are being run by 8,000 election staff, of whom only 500 are foreigners.

Frist Follow-Up

The MSM and our dear N&O, always happy to jump on the bandwagon to smear any available Republican, has apparently not found the time to find, or the space to print, Bill Frist's explanation for his HCA stock sales:

When deciding how to handle my family’s personal investments, I always sought expert advice and Senate Ethics Committee review and approval. Despite not being required to do so, I sought and obtained two Ethics Committee opinions acknowledging that my ownership of HCA stock complied with Senate rules and did not present a conflict of interest with my Senate duties. Despite not being required to do so, I later chose to place many of my investments in blind trusts, including my HCA stock. With these efforts, I have sought to guarantee that no conflict of interest existed. Review after review has found nothing wrong. Nevertheless, the complaints and questions have persisted.

Because of these continuing questions, and looking ahead at my final years in the Senate and what might come next, I have for some time wanted to eliminate even the possibility of an appearance of a conflict by totally divesting of any HCA stock in my family’s trusts.
In April, I asked my staff to determine if Senate rules and relevant laws would allow me to direct the trustees to sell any remaining HCA stock. After my staff reviewed relevant statutes and Senate rules and consulted with outside counsel and Senate Ethics Committee staff, I learned that the rules allowed me to direct the trustees to sell any remaining HCA stock in my blind trusts.

In May, my staff worked with outside counsel and the Senate Ethics Committee staff to draft a written communication to the trustees. After obtaining pre-approval by mid-June from the Senate Ethics Committee, I issued a letter directing my trustees to sell any remaining HCA stock in my family’s trusts.

Now I am being asked to explain this decision. I understand that. And I welcome it.
An examination of the facts will demonstrate that I acted properly. I will cooperate with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York to provide the information they need as quickly as possible. My only objective in selling the stock was to eliminate the appearance of a conflict of interest. I had no information about HCA or its performance that was not publicly available when I directed the trustees to sell the stock.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

One Man Stands Up

Hey, at least one guy at the WaPo has some courage that the rest of the MSM lacks in accurately reporting the "anti-war" protests.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Anti-War Rally Reporting

John in Carolina is again doing great work in examining how the N&O reported on the recent anti-war rally in D.C. He is running a series on the topic, so check his blog tomorrow as well.

I have criticized the paper for not including some of the idiotic comments Sheehan has made (end the U.S. military occupation of New Orleans, the president should be tried as a war criminal etc.) in the fawning articles it writes about her, but John's examination of how the paper deletes information if it damages the leftist cause is revealing.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Katrina, the Pols and Durham

Running the Chicago half-marathon this weekend so no blogging, but these 3 unrelated topics caught my attention:

Katrina: Conservatives have long held that extreme environmental groups and class-action lawyers do more harm than good. We now find out (via the WSJ) that a group called Save Our Wetlands successfully shut down the Corps of Engineers project to build a Netherlands-like flood gate at Lake Pontchartrain in the 70s. Smaller levees were built as a result, and perhaps some wetlands were saved. But if lefties want to place some blame for the recent flooding, they can start by finding the Save Our Wetlands folks and asking some questions.

The class-action lawyers, biggest donors as a group to the Democrats, have already started assembling groups of plaintiffs for suits to by filed in Louisiana court. If these vultures don't make you support tort reform, nothing will.

Poland: Buried on page 16A of the N&O is the story on the ouster of the Polish govt. that pledged to withdraw Polish troops from Iraq. Taking over will be the party that is open to leaving those troops until the mission is completed. If the vote had been reveresed, this would have been front-page MSM fodder in the series on how bad the situation in Iraq is.

Durham: Vincent Brown is running for mayor of Durham. The N&O printed a 9 paragraph editorial outlining his previous misdeeds and recommending that Durham voters not elect him. Nowhere in the piece did they mention Brown's political affiliation. Wonder why.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Rather Than Looking Forward

John in Carolina looks back at Rathergate and traces that debacle with Rather's latest tearful claim that there is a "climate of fear" in newsrooms. Sometimes we forget how desperate the MSM has become in spinning to damage Bush, but John's links freshen up our memory.

The N&O again joins the shameful story creation business by running this headline from an AP story: Bush's words on Iraq echo LBJ. Evidence presented in the story - both men said "we shall stay the course." Groundbreaking news reporting there. Must be that the attack-Bush-on-Katrina approach, or the attack-Roberts-as-being-too-conservative lines are bearing no fruit.

Must Read Press Briefing

This is a must read press briefing delivered by Col. H.R. McMaster. I knew McMaster when he was a Captain in the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment and he was widely respected by the troops and other officers, so it is nice to see him in command now of the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment. His regiment just participated in Tal Afar and the briefing gives a great breakdown of the operation.

These are his final words to the assembled reporters:

COL. MCMASTER: Hey, thanks. And please, everybody, just please tell the American people how great their soldiers are. You've got to tell them. I mean, it is unbelievable what they're doing. I mean -- and I know I can't keep you any longer, but I just want to tell you, they're fighting. They're defeating the enemy. They are partnered with Iraqi security forces. They're building Iraqi security force capability. They're providing humanitarian assistance. They're organizing reconstruction right now. They are taking care of the people of the city as they're pursuing the enemy. I mean, it is extraordinary the quality of the young men and women who we have here pursuing the enemies of our nation and helping to secure the people of Tall Afar and western Ninevah. So you got to tell them.

(BTW - McMaster also authored Dereliction of Duty about leadership failures during Vietnam - worth the read.)

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

The MSM Crumbles

The folks at the Media Research Center provide some fodder for those who see the MSM crumbling inward on their own sad bias:

CBS on Tuesday night delivered a sarcastic look at President Bush's visit to the Gulf coast. After reciting a list of problems people are having in New Orleans, reporter Sharyn Alfonsi jumped to a soundbite of Bush in Mississippi, declaring: "Every time I come back here, I see progress." Alfonsi gratuitously pointed out that Bush was "speaking inside an air-conditioned tent" and noted how "he toured a Folgers plant in Louisiana" but, she stressed, "small business owners say this kind of progress is the exception." Then, over video of a row of damaged and abandoned store fronts in New Orleans, she countered: "This is the reality."

Alfonsi made it personal, holding Bush responsible for the frustrations of a French Quarter restaurant owner: "After five visits in three weeks, they want the President to wake up and smell the coffee." (That cute line ran over video of Bush, in a sweat-soaked shirt, shaking hands at the coffee plant.) Restaurant owner Arly Questa demanded: "Hang out, no air-conditioning, eat some MRE's every day, and then you might really understand what it's been like down here in New Orleans."

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Imperial Grunts

I have linked to some of Robert Kaplan's work in the Atlantic before, and Kaplan has now combined some of those articles into Imperial Grunts released earlier this month. If you want to know how SF operates, and if you want to know where we are making mistakes in the GWOT, this will be a good read. I read it in a day, and here are my takeaways:

1. We need to deploy fewer soldiers, not more (as the ignorant Bush critics suggest) to win: Small light and lethal units of soldiers and marines, skilled in guerrilla warfare and attuned to the local environment in the way of the nineteenth-century Apaches, could accomplish more than dinosauric, industrial age infantry divisions.

2. When we send our SF guys in to train the locals, we need to also let them go on patrols and fight. Not only do we have a bigger impact and gather more intelligence, but it also improves the reputation of SF in the minds of those we are training. Kaplan quotes an SF NCO in Columbia: A half dozen SF guys, fluent in Spanish, traveling load-lite, living off the land, with good comms and helicopter locations for infil and exfil, and we'd find out a lot more in a few days than a whole battalion clunking around.

3. Our "tip of the spear" SF and Marines understand and despise those in the US who are more concerned for their own political careers or their pet lefty cause than for accomplishment of the mission or the well-being of our warriors. Kaplan quotes one: You can bet that people back home will get more upset about despoiling the environment (there had been an oil spill earlier) than about Columbians being shot and tortured (by the FARC).

4. We need decentralized command and real decision-making at the junior officer and mid-level NCO level. The more headquarters we have, the longer is the approval process for missions and the more morale goes down amongst those really doing the fighting. SF accomplished wondrous things in Afghanistan before several layers of HQ were established. Now we have 20,000 troops there, which is at least 10,000 too many. (ed. - I have been a REMF several times since being called back on duty after Sept. 11th, and I agree wholeheartedly with Kaplan that I was probably not needed in the various HQ jobs I was assigned)

5. The media does not understand, and looks down upon, the military because members of the media consider themselves global cosmopolitans and are concentrated in the Northeast, whereas the military is composed of lower and lower-middle class soldiers largely from the South and the heartland. Kaplan finds that the real global cosmopolitans are the fighting men he meets who have been to several continents and war zones and have not spent their time in the nicest hotels in the capital cities like the reporters do.

6. Our warriors like and respect President Bush because he speaks like they do. He uses simple, direct phrases, he is forthright with servicemen about the difficulty of the mission and the risks they must take, and he is sincerely hurt by each combat loss but unwilling to let that sadness impact his duty to defend our national security.

Kerry Still Repugnant

This from The Hill regarding John Kerry raising campaign funds on the back of the Katrina tragedy:

Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) unleashed a furious attack on the Bush administration at a Brown University speech yesterday, upbraiding the president’s response to the hurricane that recently devastated the Gulf Coast and tying it to what he sees as other flaws at the White House.
“This is the Katrina administration,” read prepared remarks posted on 2004 Democratic presidential nominee’s website, “Katrina is a symbol of all this administration does and doesn't do,” read Kerry’s script, portions of which were included in an e-mail to supporters that ended with a fundraising appeal.

The Bible as a Founding Document

The N&O runs a front-page article today that is less reporting and more trying to stir up controversy, and one line gives away the bias.

The story highlights an elective course that teaches about the Bible. The writer quickly uses the "But some scholars say...", which throws up the first red flags, then continues with "the curriculum still promotes a religious message -- that the United States is a Christian nation and the Bible its foundation document."

Reading the article, however, it appears the curriculum teaches no such thing and does not support the writer's fabricated "some scholars" opinion.

The curriculum does teach that the United States was founded as a Christian nation, which is undoubtedly true. The writer provides no examples of where the curriculum teaches that the U.S. is a Christian nation today (implying that non-Christians do not belong).

The curriculum appears to teach that the Bible was a founding document of the U.S. in that it had an influence on the Declaration and on the Constitution (which is also undoubtedly true), but the writer provides no examples of where the curriculum teaches that the Bible is the founding document.

From Success to Failure in One Headline

We questioned yesterday how the MSM would handle the third big success of the Bush administration regarding keeping nukes out of the hands of madmen (Iraq was first, then Libya, now N. Korea).

Remember that the Bush approach to N. Korea was lambasted by liberals and was a campaign issue even though the left had not provided an alternative plan (other than sending Jimmy Carter to Korea during the Clinton years and have him return declaring "peace in our time.")

So now that the administration has forced N. Korean concessions, what does the N&O run:
N. Korea nuclear deal hits an early bump.

They just don't get it, and they don't understand why they are losing influence daily.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Hiding the Headlines

"North Korea to Give up Nuclear Arms" and "Afghans Vote in Crucial Step Toward Democracy." Pretty bad day so far for the Bush-haters. The N&O ran the latter front-page story inside the front cover. Let's see where they put the North Korea triumph for the president in tomorrow's paper.

Back to the Piano for Schroeder

Glad to see another Saddam supporter gone with Schroeder out of office. Mike Williams supplies more on why it is ok to despise Schroeder and friends:

German blogger Medienkritik (H/T Instapundit) tells us that Chancellor Schroeder is using photos of dead American soldiers to win votes:
German political campaigns certainly have their fair-share of mud-slinging and low blows. But even we at Davids Medienkritik did not think that German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's SPD (or any other major Germany political party) would fall this low during the election campaign. We have learned that one of Gerhard Schroeder's
senior ministers and a top SPD man in eastern Germany, Rolf Schwanitz, is using the following poster in an attempt to win votes:

Your Money at Work

From the John Locke Foundation:

"I just think you're making stuff up and it doesn't give me a lot of confidence that our vote is for a program that is going to work. But I am quite willing to go forward with this tonight."— Charlotte City Councilmember Susan Burgess, as quoted by The Charlotte Observer, on a $1 million pollution-reduction program city council approved last week. City staff was not able to explain how they arrived at $1 million or exactly what the program would accomplish.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Clinton's FEMA and the Dems in LA

This article examines how the Clinton-era FEMA operated in conjunction with the Democrats who have run the LA govt. for years.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Idiots Never Learn to Shut Up


Friday, September 16, 2005

If You Thought the 9/11 Rebuilding Was Bad...

The bad ideas for rebuilding after Katrina are already starting to pile up. The biggest conflict will clearly come with the same local and state officials who misspent our taxpayer money in the past, and then failed so miserably to do their jobs during the hurricane, now demand our money with no federal oversight.

The brilliant Mayor Nagin plans to appoint a "blue-ribbon" commission whose members will be picked by race (he wants 8 whites and 8 African-Americans) rather than on merit. I'm pretty happy about my money going to that group.

Let's send some more money to the Orleans Levee District. Six of the eight members of the board are appointed by the cryin' Guv Kathleen Blanco. This board also operates a money-losing airport, two marinas and a lease on a casino. The WSJ reports that 3 months before Katrina, the board gathered to celebrate the dedication of a Mardi Gras Fountain, featuring electronically timed spurts and multicolored lights. Total cost $2 million, and part of the cost was paid with tax money collected for levee maintenance. Yeah, let's write these guys a check.

ABC Gets Surprising Reaction

HT to Instapundit for link to this video link:

Right after President Bush’s address to the nation last night, ABC reporter Dean Reynolds went out interviewing Katrina victims. He asked Bush-bashing baiting questions, however the woman he interviewed didn’t bite on to it.

Note: Around the 17 second mark you can tell Reynolds cut her off to ask her another question because he was unhappy with the result.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Bush Address Continued

Proposes 3 initiatives: Gulf Opportunity Zone (job incentives, tax relief, loan guarantees), Worker Recovery Accounts ($5,000 for job training), Urban Homesteading Act (turn federal land over to those who will build on it).

"The Armies of Compassion" will lead the way.

Wants to know all the info on the govt. response to hurricane. Praised individual responders, but says system as a whole did not work. Armed forces must have greater role in future disasters (that is not good for the boys in uniform).

Good history riff as he relates rebuilding after past natural disasters from Jamestown to the Dust Bowl. "We are often stronger than we know." "The despair of any touches us all." "The passion and soul of a great city will return."

23 minutes - appropriate tone - not bad.

Bush New Orleans Address

Live-blogging the Bush address. Don't like the Jackson Square background. With the official podium it makes the scene look like Jackson Square is a studio backdrop.

Good start as he notes the heroism of so many during the hurricane. "A faith in God no storm can take away"

Giving a list of all the progress that has been made - levees fixed, pipelines running, electricity to most of Miss. Continues with all that is being done by the various agencies of govt. Not exactly music to the ears of small-govt. conservatives.

Emphasizes that federal govt. will be involved, but state and local guys in charge of planning.

More in a second.

Calling Out Gallup

John in Carolina digs into the latest Gallup poll and compares the actual results with the headline and the main paragraphs of the story as depicted by the NYT. Great piece on how even a respected polling organization can be corrupted.

Liking Merkel More

Sounds like the vote in Germany will be tight as Merkel has lost some of her lead because of her propensity, like the Iron Lady, to tell the truth. Some German voters, long used to sucking at the pap of the state, apparently don't like being told that without reform their country will continue to slide toward obsolescence.

Besides the truth telling, I like Merkel more now than before after learning the following:

1. She grew up behind the Iron Curtain. Having spent 3 years of my life on the East-West German border trying to help bring that wall down, I would like to see those efforts rewarded by her victory in the election.

2. She is a physicist by training. Just like Maggie Thatcher (who I believe was a trained chemist), good to see someone running for office who has not spent their entire lives in politics and actually knows how to do something.

3. The DAX (German stock mkt. index) is up 20% since May when Schroder called for elections and investors decided Merkel would win. Markets usually make better calls on politics than pundits, so I'll go with Merkel.

Tal Afar

Some boys I know (including one who saved me from an ass-whuppin by a French Foreign Legion gent) have been leading the offensive in Tal Afar. One of the major units involved, the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, spent a lot of time training for the challenges of Iraq and understood the unique requirements of the mission. They focused on negotiation techniques, dealing with civil unrest and urban fighting in the training, and based on the results at Tal Afar it seems they trained well.

The WSJ reports that one of the big successes of the operation was the inclusion of Iraqi forces: The Tal Afar operation has been a sweeping success for the Iraqi Security Forces in many ways. There is an Iraqi Army Brigade headquarters with four infantry battalions, a Special Police Commando Brigade headquarters with two battalions, and an Army Transportation battalion in the fight up there. The Police Commandos and one of the Army battalions were flown there by the Iraqi Air Force's own C-130 fleet executing their first combat support missions.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

More Disgrace in LA

Another example of how the brilliant Democrats who control Louisiana dealt with Katrina.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

A Katrina Reckoning

Another HT to Mike Williams for bringing us this gem of straight thinking:

Newton Emerson of The Irish Times has a different take:

As the full horror of Hurricane Katrina sinks in, thousands of desperate columnists are asking if this is the end of George Bush's presidency. The answer is almost certainly yes, provided that every copy of the US Constitution was destroyed in the storm. Otherwise President Bush will remain in office until noon on January 20th, 2009, as required by the 20th Amendment, after which he is barred from seeking a third term anyway under the 22nd Amendment.

As the full horror of this sinks in, thousands of desperate columnists are asking if the entire political agenda of George Bush's second term will not still be damaged in some terribly satisfying way. The answer is almost certainly yes, provided that the entire political agenda of George Bush's second term consists of repealing the 22nd Amendment. Otherwise, with a clear Republican majority in both Houses of Congress, he can carry on doing pretty much whatever he likes.

As the full horror of this sinks in, thousands of desperate columnists are asking if the Republican Party itself will now suffer a setback at the congressional mid-term elections next November.
The answer is almost certainly yes, provided that people outside the disaster zone punish their local representatives for events elsewhere a year previously, both beyond their control and outside their remit, while people inside the disaster zone reward their local representatives for an ongoing calamity they were supposed to prevent. Otherwise, the Democratic Party will suffer a setback at the next congressional election.

As the full horror of this sinks in, thousands of desperate columnists are asking if an official inquiry will shift the blame for poor planning and inadequate flood defences on to the White House. The answer is almost certainly yes, provided nobody admits that emergency planning is largely the responsibility of city and state agencies, and nobody notices that the main levee which broke was the only levee recently modernised with federal funds. Otherwise, an official inquiry will pin most of the blame on the notoriously corrupt and incompetent local governments of New Orleans and Louisiana.

As the full horror of this sinks in, thousands of desperate columnists are asking if George Bush contributed to the death toll by sending so many national guard units to Iraq.
The answer is almost certainly yes, provided nobody recalls that those same columnists have spent the past two years blaming George Bush for another death toll by not sending enough national guard units to Iraq. Otherwise, people might wonder why they have never previously read a single article advocating large-scale military redeployment during the Caribbean hurricane season.

As the full horror of this sinks in, thousands of desperate columnist are asking how a civilised city can descend into anarchy. The answer is that only a civilised city can descend into anarchy.

As the full horror of this sinks in, thousands of desperate columnists are asking if George Bush should be held responsible for the terrible poverty in the southern states revealed by the flooding. The answer is almost certainly yes, provided nobody holds Bill Clinton responsible for making Mississippi the poorest state in the union throughout his entire term as president, or for making Arkansas the second-poorest state in the union throughout his entire term as governor. Otherwise, people might suspect that it is a bit more complicated than that.

As the full horror of this sinks in, thousands of desperate columnists are asking if George Bush should not be concerned by accusations of racism against the federal government.
The answer is almost certainly yes, provided nobody remembers that Jesse Jackson once called New York "Hymietown" and everybody thinks Condoleezza Rice went shopping for shoes when the hurricane struck because she cannot stand black people.

Otherwise sensible Americans of all races will be more concerned by trite, cynical and dangerous political opportunism.

As the full horror of that sinks in, this columnist is simply glad that everybody cares.

Spinning Good into Bad

The N&O runs a WaPo article today that defines the MSM spinning good news into bad news.

Iraqi President Jalal Talabani thinks we can withdraw as many as 50,000 troops by the end of the year. He is confident that the training of Iraqi troops has progressed enough that Iraqis can replace the U.S. troops. If Talabani is correct, that sounds like extremely good news to me, and it fits right into the Bush administration plan to withdraw troops when the Iraqis are ready to take over.

So how does WaPo and the N&O spin the story:

That assessment (Talabani's) differs dramatically from those offered by Bush and by U.S. military commanders in Iraq. Actually, his assessment does not differ at all from ours. Our military has a plan to leave more troops if needed, but we also have a plan to withdraw our troops if they are not needed.

Talabani's statement has the potential to put Bush in a difficult position if the troops are not pulled out by year's end, since critics are certain to ask why U.S. soldiers cannot come home when Iraq's own president says they can. Well, the statement does have the potential to put Bush in a difficult position, but only if we disagree with Talabani. If we agree, then we will start pulling troops out from a position of strength and success. Even if we disagree with his assessment, it is important to remember that Talabani is only one voice in the government, so as we approach the end of the year we will hear from other Iraqi leaders on the subject.

Could we be seeing yet another big Bush political victory forming? Recall how many times this administration has tended to downplay good news (emphasizing the risks with forming a govt. in Afghanistan so when that miracle occurred it looked even better), or overestimating bad news (announcing deficit projections only to have the actual number come in much lower).

Like a good boxer, the administration has been able to get the dopes like Krugman and Dowd and Gore and Kerry leaning forward as they see an opening, only to find a stiff left jab sitting on their noses. Watch out for the Bush jab in Iraq around October, and maybe a right to follow in December. By that time the whiners will have to find something else to harp about.

Monday, September 12, 2005

The Blame Game

The Katrina debacle is starting to resemble every other event during the Bush presidency in terms of playing the blame game. First, the event happens and the administration begins to respond. They don't point fingers or find blame with the "loyal opposition." Soon after the event, however, the left crafts an angle to use as a political attack, and along with the media they launch their assault. The administration is then forced to respond and is immediately accused of "shifting the blame" by the MSM.

Katrina is the best example of the Dems taking the offense to shift the blame first off of those who deserve it, which forces the administration (in an admittedly belated PR effort) to release the facts surrounding the misadventure. Advice to the White House: go on the offensive first and use the preemptive Dick Cheney "go ***k yourself" approach to dealing with the idiocy of Kennedy, Leahy, Pelosi, Clinton and their followers in the MSM.

Mike Williams again brings a good summation as Captain Ed Morrissey recaps the sins of omission and commission in Louisiana:

The New York Times has a feature story in its Sunday edition that supposedly looks at the frustration of coordinating the local, state, and federal responses to Hurricane Katrina. However, the article by a crew of Times writers instead inadvertently encapsulates the incompetence of Louisiana's governor Kathleen Blanco and New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin, in a single anecdote that also calls into question the ability of the four reporters to properly investigate their subject matter.

The scene: three days after Katrina's landfall, and a day after the levees broke. The place: Baton Rouge. The setting: the state's command center for emergency response.

The governor of Louisiana was "blistering mad." It was the third night after Hurricane Katrina drowned New Orleans, and Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco needed buses to rescue thousands of people from the fetid Superdome and convention center. But only a fraction of the 500 vehicles promised by federal authorities had arrived.

Ms. Blanco burst into the state's emergency center in Baton Rouge. "Does anybody in this building know anything about buses?" she recalled crying out.

They were an obvious linchpin for evacuating a city where nearly 100,000 people had no cars. Yet the federal, state and local officials who had failed to round up buses in advance were now in a frantic hunt. It would be two more days before they found enough to empty the shelters.
Why didn't Blanco know about
these buses?

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Waiting on Cooper for Slush Funds

The illegal slush funds set up by the Democratic leadership here in NC have still not been investigated fully by the NC Attorney General (also a Democrat). Rep. Rhodes is calling for more:

Rep. Rhodes: Cooper is MIA on Slush Fund Investigation

The legislative session's scandal surrounding legislative leaders' use of discretionary reserve funds, also called slush funds, continues. Media reports earlier this year revealed that Speaker of the House Jim Black (D-Mecklenburg), former Co-Speaker Richard Morgan (R-Moore) and Senate President Pro-Tem Marc Basnight (D-Dare) directed tens of millions of taxpayer dollars from a special "secret fund", apparently set up to reward their political allies. In one case the Speaker of the House provided $45,000 to fund a job for a former legislator who helped him retain his position as Speaker.

Upon learning of this abuse of power and taxpayer dollars, Rep. John Rhodes (R) Mecklenburg and others called for an investigation by State Auditor Les Merritt and State Attorney General Roy Cooper. Auditor Merritt forwarded his findings to Attorney General Cooper's office at the end of June. According to Rhodes, the Attorney General has since "gone into complete lockdown mode on this abuse of taxpayer's dollars." According to a press release from Rep. Rhodes, repeated calls to the Attorney General's office over the last weeks none have been returned.

"Perhaps we should be casting a larger net over the abuses of power and perceived corruption occurring in the legislature with the taxpayer's dollars," says Rhodes. "Perhaps we need to look closer into the Attorney General's office and ask why they refuse to return phone calls and provide cover for these abuses."

"The people of North Carolina should be outraged that this type of shenanigans is going on not only in their legislature, but quite possibly expanding into the Department of Justice by the state's Attorney General," Rhodes added. "The Attorney General has had this request since March."

Rhodes is asking concerned citizens to contact the Attorney General's office and demand that he release the N.C. Pork Gate Report surrounding legislative leaders' slush funds. Rhodes encourages citizens to call 919-716-6400 and ask to speak directly with Attorney General Roy Cooper.

Rhodes ads, "When calling remember that he's not roy-alty, he's just ROY."

Friday, September 09, 2005

Americans are not dumb, or are they?

If you want to avoid the ups and downs of polls and see longer term trends, go to Rasmussen every week or so. This week I gained a little faith that the American people are pretty smart as only 31% have a favorable opinion of Cindy Sheehan whereas 39% have an unfavorable.

But then I read that 38% of those polled think we are in a recession. This amazing measure of the ignorance of some Americans is apparently not due to Katrina as last month 32% said we were in recession. Pre-Katrina, we had been experiencing one of the best economic periods in history in terms of reducing unemployment, growing the economy and maintaining low levels of inflation. So how could anyone say we are in recession?

I will speculate that 3 groups make up that 38%. First, real Bush-haters will answer any question in whichever way they think will most hurt Bush. They are idiots, but their vote in the poll counts.

Second, the old saying is that when your neighbor loses his job it is a recession and when you lose your job it is a depression. So 4.9% of those looking for work are unemployed. Assuming a neighbor on each side, that accounts for 9.8% of the 38%.

Finally, as we have noted here often, the MSM has tried to spin the plethora of good economic news to convince people the economy is struggling. Still, 38% does not give me a lot of faith in the judgment of my countrymen.

Measuring Success in Iraq

Critics of the Bush administration have the annoying tendency of not only failing to offer any plan of their own, but also changing their criteria for success when we embark on a challenge.

In 2004 a friend and I wrote an editorial that was published in two papers (including the much-criticized N&O - a rare moment of excellence on behalf of the paper). The piece pinned down one liberal (Thomas Friedman) who actually had the courage to propose six measures of success for Iraq. Since we wrote the article Friedman has forgotten his own measures and has frequently veered into the same kind anti-Bush insanity that has so dishonored so many on the left.

Still, it may be of some value to look at the editorial again a year later and see how we are doing. Of the six criteria Friedman proposed, we judged success in 3 and progress in 3 as of the fall of 2004. I now think numbers 4 and 6 below are also a success, but you judge:

Measuring Success in Iraq
By Scott C. Pierce and Charles J. McLaughlin

Measuring success in Iraq has proven to be a difficult task. Backers of the administration tout the thousands of schools opened, the capture of Saddam and the impressive achievements on a timeline relative to reconstruction in Japan and Germany. Critics of the administration keep a daily body count of American casualties, develop a conspiracy theory every week concerning Halliburton and claim that we are not safer even with Saddam in captivity. Most Americans, while supportive of the war, the capture of Saddam and the performance of President Bush, probably shift their view of success depending on the latest news. Explosions, helicopters down and coalition deaths damper our enthusiasm, while days of relative calm, letters from soldiers serving there and stories focusing on success (though hard to find in the popular press) cheer us.

In searching for a true measure of success, we should seek criteria developed prior to or just after the invasion began. Establishing fixed measures of success eliminate the temptation of commentators to shift their criteria as the situation changes. These criteria should come from someone with expertise in the area, preferably someone who is neither intensely partisan nor completely irrational.

Thomas Friedman’s recent collection of essays, “Longitudes and Attitudes,” offers us just such an opportunity. His column from March 26, 2003, titled “Milestones for the War” offers six sober and responsible measures of success for the U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq. Friedman has traveled extensively in the Middle East and has written two books (“From Beirut to Jerusalem” and “The Lexus and the Olive Tree”) dealing to some degree with the regional problems and issues. While he has been a consistent critic of the administration, he hasn’t fallen into the Angry Left hatred of Bush that has marred the objectivity of other liberal columnists, including some of his Times’ colleagues. As a result, even with his strong liberal credentials, Friedman is widely respected by the political right as a thoughtful and measured writer.

Now that nearly a year has passed since publication of the article, it is time to see how the United States has performed in light of Friedman’s six criteria.

1. Have we occupied Baghdad without leveling the whole city? - Success, and in shorter time and with less damage than most people believed could be accomplished.

2. Have we killed, captured, or expelled Saddam? – Success, with the added psychological advantage that we found him cowering in a hole rather than directing an effective resistance.

3. Have we won this war and preserved the territorial integrity of Iraq? - Success so far as the Kurds, Turks and Iranians have shown no signs of wanting to challenge the U.S. and break off a part of Iraq.

4. Is the Iraqi state that emerges from this war accepted as legitimate by Iraq's Arab and Muslim neighbors? - Given the clear indication that the U.S. is reducing our footprint, will continue to do so, and will turn over power to Iraqis in June, achieving this goal seems inevitable. Even though Iraq's neighbors may not like Iraq’s eventual form of government, and will worry about the instability that freedom can bring, they will recognize the government as Iraq's own by 2005.

5. Have we been able to explain why some Iraqi forces are putting up such a fierce fight? - Incomplete. Sources, even official ones, have provided various answers to this issue. The problem seems to be that those fighting the coalition and friendly Iraqi forces are comprised of various groups, some coordinated and some not. In addition, the fight against coalition forces is not all that fierce. Planting improvised explosive devices by a roadside or carrying out suicide attacks against primarily civilian targets constitutes the military version of cheap shots, not fierce fighting. Recent coalition operations suggest that success in the area of identifying and eliminating terrorist groups in Iraq continues.

6. Has an authentic Iraqi liberal nationalist emerged from the U.S. occupation to lead the country? - Incomplete. Of the six issues this will prove to be the trickiest, not because there are no candidates, but rather because there are so many who are capable and who are vying for power. We face the challenge of wanting to support legitimate candidates who will lead Iraq to freedom, independence and prosperity, but also fulfilling the challenge in number four above of ensuring legitimacy. A key factor will be finding and supporting a figure with nationwide interests, and not a leader interested in only his ethnic region.

Of Friedman’s criteria, we have succeeded in three and we are headed in the right direction in the other three. This is not a bad score after a little more than nine months, and it is bound to improve as time goes by. Keep this list handy and look again at the end of 2004, and we should see success on all counts.

The authors are West Point classmates, graduates of the Special Forces Officer Qualification Course at Fort Bragg and are members of the Council for Emerging National Security Affairs. These comments do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Defense or the US government.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Imperial Grunts

Robert Kaplan again does a great job of explaining how Special Forces operate and what we are doing in Afghanistan in particular. This article just came out in The Atlantic Monthly and is included in the book of the same name (Imperial Grunts).

Kaplan (unlike hacks like Hersch) goes into the field with SF and has earned their trust by writing honestly (warts and all) about both the triumphs and tragedies of our recent experiences.

Lost in the News

Amidst the Katrina and Rehnquist news, the stories about successes in Afghanistan and the Middle East are getting little play. In Afghanistan, our guys with the Afghan forces killed 13 terrorists and captured more in what the paper described as an "airborne assault." That one must have been high adventure.

In Saudi, security forces killed the #3 terrorist on the most wanted list.

The president talked about quiet, steady progress with this war started, and we are seeing it.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

A Marine Plans His Return

Early this week I spoke with a Marine who had just returned from 7 months in Iraq. He is an infantry company commander, so his unit saw some real action. He lost 2 Marines from his company and had 18 wounded, and based on my limited knowledge of the area where his company was operating, his unit dealt some significant death and destruction to the terrorists and militants seeking to prevent the spread of freedom in Iraq.

He has 2 priorities. First, he was preparing to go see the families of the Marines from his unit who had been killed. Second, he talked a lot about how he would prepare his unit for their next tour to either Iraq or Afghanistan.

Think about that for a second. Here is a young man who has just gone through a very tough time and been under continuous stress for months, but his first thought is of those families rather than of himself, and his second thought is of his command and his men and his mission.

He said that reenlistment levels in his unit were off the charts, and that if he lost more than 5% of his Marines upon return he would be surprised. He said his unit experienced zero cases of low morale beyond the normal grunt griping and that his men were as ready to go back as he is.

I think there are thousands of guys like this out there. You may not see them interviewed as much as the whiners and shirkers, but meeting one of them and sharing a few beers certainly made me think the MSM is even more negligent in their reporting than I previously believed.

Again, the Bloggers First

It took the MSM 3 days, but they are finally catching up with the bloggers. Last night on CBS commentators were asking tough questions about the failures in city and state govt. in Louisiana with respect to Katrina. Today even NPR (yes, we listen in order to know thy enemy) was sniffing around the edges of the Nagin meltdown and subsequent "blame everyone else" speeches.

So far I have not heard any of the MSM guys examine the successes in Mississippi vs. the abject leadership failures in Louisiana, but if they keep taking leadership from the blogs they will get there soon.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005


David Boyd brings us some Bill Whittle:

Here is the Grey philosophy I try to live by:

Sometimes, Bad Things Happen. Some things are beyond my control, beyond the control of the smartest and best people we have, even beyond the awesome, subtle and unlimited control of the simpering, sub-human village idiot from Texas.

Hurricanes come. They have come for all of human history, and more are coming. Barbarians also come to steal or destroy what they cannot make themselves, and they, like human tempests, have swept a path of destruction through civilization since before history was written on clay tablets on the banks of the Euphrates.

I am not a wolf. I have never harmed a person in my life. But I am not a sheep, either. I know these forces are out there, and wishing it were not so will not only not make them go away – it will rob me of my chance to kick their ass when they show up.

I am a sheepdog - an amateur, stand-by sheepdog. Police officers and elected officials get paid to be sheepdogs. Sheepdogs don’t cry, and they don’t complain about wet feet, and they don’t wail about conspiracies while waiting for the help that they themselves are sworn to provide.

Also, unlike so many in the ‘reality-based’ community, I do not believe in a deity. For instance, I don’t believe that a single god-king can summon storms, hypnotize entire populations and be the focus for evil in the world. Many people refer to Iraq as George Bush’s war, a charge I find shockingly unfair — to me. I voted for him in 2004, and I support that war in earnest. In future billboards, I would like to be mentioned as having Kids Die in George Bush and Bill Whittle’s War for Oil, and I expect the new crop of MoveOn bumper stickers to say DEFEND AMERICA: STOP BUSH AND WHITTLE. I’m tired of being left out of this. George Bush did not take over the White House with a six-shooter; people voted him into office with the biggest number of votes in American history. I’m one of those people, and damn you liberal cheapskate sons of bitches, I demand my equal time.


Because to say we are responsible for the terrorists in the world is a way to say we can control this wolf. If we believe we made him, then that means we control him. We can unmake him. Such a worldview appeals to the left, because it gives them Godlike Mental Powers. All we have to do is act differently and he will go away. It’s complete moral cowardice, of course – but it’s understandable cowardice. It’s denial, because if all the sins are ours then all we must do is repent and the wolf will go away.

But that’s not what the wolf says. The wolf is not interested in what we do. He does not spare little lambs because they rub up against his leg and make cooing sounds. The wolf wants to swallow us whole. He wants the fight. He wants the war and the conflict. And he will keep on huffing and puffing until one of three things happen: We show him our throat, for him to rip out; or we convert to Islam and become part of his Caliphate; or we head out into the forest with a shotgun and blow his fucking head off.

I made my decision by about 9:30 eastern on September 11th, 2001. I have never regretted it.

It takes courage to fight oncoming storms. Courage.

Courage isn’t free. It is taught, taught by certain tribes who have been around enough and seen enough incoming storms to know what one looks like. And I think the people of this nation, and those of New Orleans, specifically, desire and deserve some fundamental lessons in courage.

Because we are going to need it.

Is Rather Gone?

The Media Research Center folks provide us with this evidence of how the fine folks at CBS are reporting on Katrina. Notice no mention of Nagin or Blanco:

CBS News Sunday Morning "contributor" Nancy Giles, in the only commentary aired on the show on Sunday, delivered a blistering diatribe in which she Giles charged that "if the majority of the hardest hit victims of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans were white people, they would not have gone for days without food and water" and insisted that "the real war is not in Iraq, but right here in America. It's the War on Poverty, and it's a war that's been ignored and lost." She complained that "we've repeatedly given tax cuts to the wealthiest and left our most vulnerable American citizens to basically fend for themselves." Giles scolded Bush for finding photo-ops with some "black folks to hug" while he skipped "the messy parts of New Orleans." She castigated Bush for how he "has put himself at risk by visiting the troops in Iraq, but didn't venture anywhere near the Superdome or the convention center, where thousands of victims, mostly black and poor, needed to see that he gave a damn."

Monday, September 05, 2005

WaPo slam piece

I won't forward the latest WaPo slam piece on the Bush administration, but here is a sample:

Bush infuriated Blanco and other local officials when he sought late Friday night to federalize the relief effort and seize control of National Guard and other operations.

Let's make a few suggestions to the WaPo hacks:

Due to the failure of the state and city governments to act, President Bush attempted to take control of relief operations. The failure of Blanco and Navin to accept the federal control cost thousands of citizens their lives.


Despite mounting evidence to the contrary, local and state Democrats in Louisiana continued to insist they did not need federal supervision of relief efforts. Despite this refusal, Blanco and Navin continue to insist today that any errors were the fault of the federal government.

More Bad News for Ray Nagin

More from the Mike Williams' blogosphere that you aren't getting from the MSM:

Marc from Cranial Cavity notes that the issues of evacuation had come to light before in New Orleans, almost exactly a year ago, in the advance of Hurricane Ivan through the Gulf. This report demonstrates that the problem experienced this week in The Big Easy did not arise from ignorance or a failure of imagination, but directly from incompetence in the city administration and specifically by Mayor Ray Nagin:

Those who had the money to flee Hurricane Ivan ran into hours-long traffic jams. Those too poor to leave the city had to find their own shelter - a policy that was eventually reversed, but only a few hours before the deadly storm struck land.

New Orleans dodged the knockout punch many feared from the hurricane, but the storm exposed what some say are significant flaws in the Big Easy's civil disaster plans.

Much of New Orleans is below sea level, kept dry by a system of pumps and levees. As Ivan charged through the Gulf of Mexico, more than a million people were urged to flee. Forecasters warned that a direct hit on the city could send torrents of Mississippi River backwash over the city's levees, creating a 20-foot-deep cesspool of human and industrial waste.

Residents with cars took to the highways. Others wondered what to do.

"They say evacuate, but they don't say how I'm supposed to do that," Latonya Hill, 57, said at the time. "If I can't walk it or get there on the bus, I don't go. I don't got a car. My daughter don't either."

Advocates for the poor were indignant.

"If the government asks people to evacuate, the government has some responsibility to provide an option for those people who can't evacuate and are at the whim of Mother Nature," said Joe Cook of the New Orleans ACLU.

Please note the date of this report: Septemer 19, 2004. Nagin and New Orleans knew these problems existed almost a year before Katrina hit and the levees failed. In fact, both Nagin and Kathleen Blanco noted the failure of the New Orleans effort to evacuate people from the city.

Nagin also provided a quote which showed that using the Superdome not only presented known difficulties, but that the city had previously avoided using it for those exact reasons (emphases mine):

In this case, city officials first said they would provide no shelter, then agreed that the state-owned Louisiana Superdome would open to those with special medical needs. Only Wednesday afternoon, with Ivan just hours away, did the city open the 20-story-high domed stadium to the public.

Mayor Ray Nagin's spokeswoman, Tanzie Jones, insisted that there was no reluctance at City Hall to open the Superdome, but said the evacuation was the top priority.

"Our main focus is to get the people out of the city," she said.

Callers to talk radio complained about the late decision to open up the dome, but the mayor said he would do nothing different.

"We did the compassionate thing by opening the shelter," Nagin said.
"We wanted to make sure we didn't have a repeat performance of what happened before. We didn't want to see people cooped up in the Superdome for days."

Not only did Nagin know that the Superdome would prove inadequate for shelter for any period longer than a few hours, he encouraged people to gather there without providing the resources he knew that shelter to lack. Instead, he ran off to Baton Rouge despite his responsibility to oversee the execution of the emergency-response plans and ranted at Bush for not reacting quickly enough to the disaster.

And the Exempt Media, by and large, have covered for Nagin's incompetence. Does anyone seriously wonder why?

Unemployment Slumps?

We have criticized a lot of headlines here, but this one (HT to Mike Williams) takes the prize. The AP led with "Unemployment Rate Slumps to Four-Year Low." I have to believe this headline was more a matter of ignorance than liberal media malice, but either way, for the AP to allow that header to run is a disgrace.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

MS vs. LA

Here is an idea for the N&O to do some groundbreaking work. Send a small team of reporters to New Orleans to investigate how that city and the state of Louisiana leaders handled Katrina. Also send a small team to Mississippi to check how the leadership of that state responded. Wonder if we will see a difference?

Chrenkoff thinks so:

Free tip - contrast the Louisiana situation with the one next door in Mississippi - Gov. Barbour (R-MS). What's been lost in all the blather over New Orleans is that it was really Mississippi that took the big hit. The buildings in New Orleans are still standing; the Gulf Coast of Mississippi basically has been scrubbed, like God took out a pencil eraser and just erased it...I really don't like to find fault at times like this, but one thing that was missing was a quick recognition that in such a situation the potential for civil collapse is nearly 100%. Once the weather settles, you need to immediately declare marshal law and send in the MPs. That's basically what Haley Barbour did in Mississippi - there were a few early problems but very quickly the MPs were patrolling what was left of Biloxi and Gulfport and keeping a lid on things. Back on Tuesday when I put on the news and we all saw Kathleen Blanco bursting into tears, I knew that was the wrong message and would bring trouble. Louisiana and New Orleans basically have those touchy-feely, "I'm okay, you're okay" soft-leftie types in charge. Their education took a few days and has been expensive.

Amidst all the hyperventilating that's going on, it's actually a good time for a civics lesson, particularly watching the competence of the people in Mississippi and the gross incompetence of almost all concerned in Louisiana....Mississippi got hammered much worse than Louisiana but is barely in the news because the leadership has been much more competent. Ms. Blanco is clearly way out of her league in this situation.

This was a good reminder that LA has for decades been our worst managed and most corrupt state.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Paying for your errors

We have learned quite a bit from the Katrina tragedy, but the most visible lesson to me is to not elect an idiot as your mayor. The Mayor of N.O. has proven that he is a dangerous combination of incompetence and emotional instability. Greyhawk provides some details on the evacuation plans for N.O. Note the tasks that the mayor failed to perform.

You elect this clown, you get the funny nose when things go wrong. You elect Rudy Giuliani, you get reassuring and calm leadership as the pressure mounts.

Where is the outcry?

The left is still pursuing Pinochet despite his condition and age, but whatever happened in Chile 32 years ago pales in comparison to the "dirty war" in Venezuela (see Publius Pundit). So where are the lefties and the human rights groups? Why are they giving Chavez a free pass?

Friday, September 02, 2005

When the comments are better

N&O news editor Melanie Sill has responded on her blog to those of us who pointed out the attempt by the MSM to hide the true story of the Sharpton/Sheehan photo event. Her response to the criticism is not worth the read, but do check out the comments below her post as several writers understand the crux of the issue even if Sill does not.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Loony Left

HT to Mike Williams for passing along the genius of the poster girl for the loony left:

Well, George and I are leaving Crawford today. George is finished playing golf and telling his fables in San Diego, so he will be heading to Louisiana to see the devastation that his environmental policies and his killing policies have caused. Recovery would be easier and much quicker if almost ½ of the three states involved National Guard were not in Iraq. All of the National Guard's equipment is in Iraq also. Plus, with the 2 billion dollars a week that the private contractors are siphoning from our treasury, how are we going to pay for helping our own citizens in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama? And, should I dare say "global warming?" and be branded as a "conspiracy theorist" on top of everything else the reich-wingers say about me.