Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Holiday Break

Traveling for the holidays. Enjoy a Merry Christmas season.


The John Locke Foundation examines Health Savings Accounts and finds in favor of these plans. I opened one in 2004 and have been happy with the low premiums and sense that I actually control my health care decisions and can monitor the cost. If any program can lower our health care costs, these HSAs can.

Monday, December 19, 2005


For true pictures of the Iraqi election, not what you were offered by the Pandering Pundits of Pessimism, see video at Michael Yon's site here.

Keep Talking to Us

I saw most of the president's speech last night (the wife was pissed that it preempted Desperate Housewives), and I agree with the comments of Mary Katherine Hamm at Hugh Hewitt I (HT Mike Williams):

I didn't see it. I read it. It was a good one. I'm not usually wild about presidential speeches because presidents rarely sound like they're just talking to us (and that's what I want to hear) -- just the nature of presidential speech-writing and the fact that they're talking to millions of people at once. Bush is particularly vulnerable to this. He's great when he's just talking to folks; not so great on the soaring speeches of nobleness. Being a war President, however, usually requires the soaring speeches of nobleness.

This one read a little differently. It seemed to strike a balance between the conversational, comfortable Bush we need to assure us and the hard-as-nails, resolved Bush we need to lead a nation at war. Did someone at the White House hear the phrase "fireside chat" as much as I have in the past couple months and take heed?

And I especially like her last bit of advice: I say keep talking to us, President Bush. You're good at it.

Whenever we don't see the president for a while, it seems the news vacuum is filled by the Kennedys and Sharptons and Pelosis of the world. Stay in front of these folks Mr. President, or we are doomed for defeat.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Headlines Revisited

After running a number of misleading headlines, the public editor of the N&O, Ted Vaden, decided to address the issue in his Sunday column. He specifically mentioned one of my complaints from earlier in the week, but his explanation was that the headline matched the story, so all is well.

He doesn't note that the story itself was lousy, so matching the headline to the story doesn't really deserve kudos. My request is that the N&O match the headline to the news. The news that day was that the president made a major foreign policy speech in which he commented on a number of important issues regarding Iraq. The headline did not reflect the news, but rather put a negative spin on one minor comment in a multi-paragraph speech.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Not a Sunshine Patriot

Want to know why a WSJ writer would sign up for the Marines and go to Iraq? Read here about a man who Paine would never call a "summer soldier" or a "sunshine patriot."

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Job Well Done

I have been back and forth with the N&O news editor, Melanie Sill, regarding what I felt was unfair coverage of the president's speech in Philadelphia earlier this week. So today, when I saw the coverage in the N&O of the president's speech in D.C. (the final in the series of 4), I sent the following note of congratulations:

I would like to compliment your 1A coverage and headlines today, especially in comparison to what I felt was unfair coverage earlier in the week. I think the difference in how a similar event (a speech by President Bush) was reported would serve as a great study for journalists.

In today's edition the headline accurately reported the news of the day without editorializing or providing negative spin: Bush: War will bring a free Iraq, a secure U.S. That is what the president said, and you reported it. The story was also much better in terms of focusing on the main points the president conveyed rather then focusing on the minor comments that might reflect badly on the administration. The story fairly provided quotes from critics of the president's policy, but the news was the speech and that was featured, not the critics response to the speech.

I would have preferred that this "news headline and story" receive the same top center coverage as the previous "negative spin headline and story," but at least it was on the front page.

I have charged David Westphal with editorializing his reporting in the past, but in this case his story was so much better than what you receive from the NYT or AP that I suggest you use his copy more often. Please pass along my compliments to Mr. Westphal on his work.

Scott Pierce

I am not going soft on the N&O, but they clearly got it right this time, and if our goal is to improve, rather than destroy the paper (and it is for me), then we have to recognize good reporting (as we do often with military reporter Jay Price).

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Remarkable event in the Arab world

President Bush gave a speech yesterday focusing on the upcoming vote in Iraq. He pointed out that this is a remarkable event in the Arab world. He emphasized the importance of the vote on Iraq's path to democracy. He noted that unlike votes in the past, many Sunnis will participate. We also know that Iraqi security forces will provide the majority of the security at the polling stations. We know that Sunni clerics are calling on the terrorists to not disrupt the vote.

So what headline does the N&O choose to run at the top of 1A?

Bush: Vote won't end violence.

Another sad display of journalistic bias and incompetence.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Blanco's Wardrobe

Looks like Louisiana Gov. Blanco's folks were worried about her wardrobe during Katrina. Now I really don't care, and I concede that part of the role of a politician is to look the part and project the idea that they are working hard and are in charge during a crisis (think Rudy), but the interesting angle of the story is how the MSM reports it after repeatedly running stories about FEMA Director Brown's wardrobe communications. My prediction for the N&O tomorrow is at most a sidebar throwaway item so they can claim they covered the story.

Tax Cuts, Even Temporary, Are Always a Good Idea

Remember when the Bush administration provided tax relief to tens of millions of Americans during the first administration, but to get the bill passed they agreed to make some of the tax cuts temporary? They caught some heat for that, but I think it is always better from a political view (though not from an economic one) to pass temporary cuts for one reason - you can vote again and again on the cuts.

Dems who may have voted for the cuts the first time are forced to vote again, but in an even bigger pickle are Dems who voted against the cuts. Now that Americans are benefiting from the dividend and capital gains cuts, and now that millions have opened 529s, they are aware of the benefits of these cuts and have no interest in having the government take their money away in the future. So let's vote every year on the cuts and see how those votes carry through to election day. Let's see more headlines like this from the WSJ: Democrats Face Tax Dilemma.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

None of the Above

If you want to paint a negative picture of a problem, one method is to provide a series of poor potential solutions. The N&O tackles the Iraq problem by providing these four "choices:" Stay the Course, Set a Timetable, Add Troops, Leave Now.

They try to shoehorn the Bush administration position into Stay the Course and imply that means no change to the current situation. Given that most Americans are unsatisfied with the current situation, the paper effectively paints a negative view of the administration.

The mistake the paper makes is to view the Stay the Course option as a static one, when in fact it is a strategy dependent upon its flexibility. The Stay the Course strategy has an endpoint of a stable and free Iraq with security provided by Iraqis and U.S. forces playing a minimal role.

The other 3 options presented are potentially parts of the Stay the Course strategy, but they are not a strategy in and of themselves. We have completed, and are currently in the middle of the Add Troops segment because we have plussed up for the election. We eventually will reach the Leave Now option once Iraqis can provide for their own security. And we are constantly shifting our numbers and timing of Set a Timetable as we plan for a drawdown based on various contingencies.

So the proper analysis would be to concede that the Bush administration strategy is the only feasible one at present, and the critics are just trying to get ahead of the future moves (in order to claim that their advocacy had something to do with a pullout) or gain political points by acting like one of their statements is an alternative to what we are doing.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Retreat and Defeat

Watch the new GOP "Retreat and Defeat" video here.


I always point out when W gets a bounce in the polls, so to be fair must note that he is back down a few points in the last few Rasmussens. When the numbers are rising, it is a turning point due to wise policies and successful execution. When they are going down it is statistical noise.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

GEN Abizaid Speaks

GEN Abizaid recently spoke at the Naval War College, and these notes were forwarded by a West Point classmate:

General Abizaid (Commander, U. S. Central Command whose responsibilities include Iraq and Afghanistan) spoke to the Naval War College last week. The audience comprised primarily War College students who are mid-grade/senior military officers. The majority of these officers have served in the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, so there was a real understanding of the dynamics of the region... BS would not sell to this audience. Here is a short summary of General Abizaid's comments, from contemporaneous notes:

He is amazed as he goes around the country and testifies before the Congress how many of our countrymen do not know or understand what we are doing or how we are doing. There are very few members of Congress who have ever worn the uniform (of our Armed Forces).
He said that the questions he gets from some in Congress convince him that they have the idea that we are about to pushed out of Iraq and Afghanistan. There is no relation between this and the reality on the ground.

As he goes around the region and talks to troops and junior officers he is very impressed by their morale and their achievements. They are confident that they are capable of defeating the enemy. You will never see a headline in this country about a school opening or a power station being built and coming on line, or a community doing well. Only the negative things will get coverage in the media.

He told the mid-grade/senior officers to go to their local Lions Clubs when they go home and tell the people what they are doing. If they don't get the word out, the American people will not know what is really happening. The insurgency is in four of 18 provinces in Iraq, not all 18. You do not hear about the 14 provinces where there is no insurgency and where things are going well.

The insurgency in Afghanistan is primarily in Kandahar province (home of the Taliban) and in the mountain region on the Pakistani border. The rest of the country is doing well. Iraq now has over 200,000 soldiers/police under arms and growing. They are starting to eclipse the US/coalition forces. Their casualty rate is more than double that of the US. There are more than 70,000 soldiers under the moderate government in Afghanistan and growing.

He predicted that the insurgencies in the four Sunni provinces in northern/central Iraq and in Southwestern Afghanistan will be there for the foreseeable future, but they will be stabilized and become small enough so the moderate governments will be able to keep them under control. 2006 will be a transition year in Iraq and that will see the Iraqi forces take much more of the mission from the US forces. This is necessary to bring stability to Iraq. We need to be fewer in numbers and less in the midst of the people for the moderate Iraqi government to succeed.

Our primary enemy is not the insurgency in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is al Qaida and their ideology. We are at a period now that is similar to the 1920s where Communism and Nazism had not taken hold in Russia and Germany. The ideology of Al Qaida is out there and it has not taken hold in any country in the Middle East. We need to make sure that it does not and we are doing that, but it will be a long problem with a long commitment.

He said that we are focused on the things that we (Americans) have done wrong, like Abu Ghraib, and not talking about this enemy. We need to talk about this enemy. al Qaida is all over the world. Their goal is to get the US out of the region and come to power in the Islamic countries of the region. From there, their goal is to establish a Caliphate (under a single Islamic ruler) that goes from the Atlantic in North Africa to Indonesia in the Pacific. Fifty years after this happens, their goal is to rule the rest of the world.

Since Desert Storm in 1991, US forces have not lost any combat engagement in the region at the platoon-level or above. al Qaida has no beliefs that they can defeat us militarily. They see our center of gravity as being the will of the American People. That is influenced by the media and they are playing to that. They don't need to win any battles. Their plan is keep the casualties in front of the American people in the media for long enough that we become convinced that we cannot win and leave the region. This would be tragic for our country.

The battle against al Qaida will not be primarily military. It will be political, economic, and ideological. It will require the international community to fight too. We must not let al Qaida get hold in any country. It will result in our worst nightmare. Picture life in Afghanistan under the Taliban, that is what Al Qaida's ideology has as a goal. If you look at the geography (of al Qaida), there is no place to put a military solution.

They are networked and they are all over the world. They are a virtual organization connected by the Internet. They use it to proselytize, recruit, raise money, educate and organize. They have many pieces that we must focus on: the propaganda battle in the media, safehouses, front companies, sympathetic members of legitimate governments, human capital, fighters and leaders, technical expertise, weapons suppliers, ideologically sympathetic non-government organizations (charities), financers, smugglers, and facilitators.

A lot of their money comes from drugs. We are winning but we have got to maintain constant pressure over time with the international community and across the US government agencies. No one is afraid that we can't defeat the enemy. Our troops have the confidence, the courage, and the competence. We need the will of the American people to be sustained for the long haul. (thanks for Mudville Gazette for increasing the circulation of these comments)

Truscott Revealed

I have followed the lead of John in Carolina in watching the development of the Truscott story, and corrections and apologies etc. in the NYT. I just received the note below from a member of Truscott's West Point class (1969) and have his permission to post the note here. It seems like a revealing piece of information about Truscott's early motivations and character. I have done no fact-checking, so you will have to decide for yourself whether you think the story is true.

I have noted your article on L Truscott and the fight with the NYT over Truscott's lying Op-Ed.

I am a member of the Class of '69. I remember Truscott only slightly from the Academy, as we were in different regiments, and did not frequent the same social circles. I have, however, had a bit of "contact/knowledge" of him since graduation. Specifically, the manner in which he left the Army. As far as I know this is little known outside the class. I am sending it for your information, but have no problem with it being passed on.

On graduation I was posted to Fort Carson in Infantry. Truscott was posted to Carson, but in the MPs.

In 1970 [I do not have the specific date, but I think it was in the mid-summer] I was in garrison when I received instructions to report to the CG's office. When I got there there were approximately 18 classmates milling around outside B.G. B. Rogers' office. We were all trying to figure out what we were doing there. General Rogers had been the Commandant when we were cadets, and had left the Academy, to take command at Ft. Carson, at the same time as we had graduated. But why would a bunch of junior Lts be of specific, and immediate, interest to the CG?

After all had assembled we were ushered into the Generals office. The following is a paraphrase of what was said. The conversation is now 35 years old, but the general facts are fresh in my mind.

General Rogers said that he had just released 2Lt L. Truscott from the Army. He had called the meeting so that the true facts surrounding Truscott's release would be known in the event that Truscott attempted to put forth another version [ To my knowledge Truscott has never
personally elaborated on his departure from the Army, but then I have only seen him once since then, at our 10th reunion Unless he or his writing are specifically brought to my attention, I do not seek him out.].

Rogers indicated that while at Carson Truscott had been writing for the Village Voice. Upon learning of this Rogers had called Truscott to his office, presented him with the facts, and had given him an order not to write anything further for the Voice, unless it came across his desk
first. At this point General Rogers was very specific. He said that he had no intentions of prohibiting or censoring anything Truscott wrote. That since it was Truscott's specific intention to cast a negative light on the Army he, Gen. Rogers, needed to know what was written before it was published.

Truscott continued to publish without submitting the text to Rogers first.

Upon learning of Truscotts writing Rogers called Truscott to his office and presented the facts. Truscott then demanded a Courts Martial. Rogers saw this as a further attempt by Truscott to defame the Army with negative publicity. Rogers refused the demand and cashiered Truscott.

Bob Brambila
Class of '69

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Support the Troops

Michelle Malkin offers some options to support the troops over the holidays. I can assure you that even the smallest show of support means a lot to any serviceman. They are bombarded with the negative news from the MSM and then they see comments from Dean saying that we can't win, and even those who know better start to have some doubts as to how their countrymen view them. So make sure they know that Howard Dean does not speak for you.

Besides Malkin's links, you can also check our new foundation here. A group of officers who served in the 2nd ACR in Germany in the late 1980s formed the E.E. Mixon Second Dragoons Foundation to provide support for the families of fallen cavalrymen. We just sent checks to 5 families of KIAs from the 3rd ACR in order to help cover their travel costs to the recent memorial services at Ft. Carson. We run the fund ourselves, take no pay and have very low expenses, so consider donating through the site or contacting me via e-mail.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Polls and a Confused Murtha

Mickey Kaus picks up our theme of a bounce in the polls for Bush, and also points out a confused John Murtha:

[T]here's a civil war going. We're caught in between a civil war right now. Our troops are the targets of the civil war. They're the only people that could have unified the various factions in Iraq. And they're unified against us. --ABC's This Week, 12/4/05

[W]hy should I believe what the CIA says about what's happening in Iraq, that there's going to be a civil war? First of all, al Qaeda was wrong. It was wrong on the nuclear stuff. It was wrong on everything they have said over there. So why should I believe that there's going to be a civil war? -- same show, a few moments later.

Progress in Iraq

Peter Brookes (via Mike Williams) provides a good summary of progress in Iraq. An excerpt:

The United States and Iraq still have to navigate dangerous insurgent shoals, and maneuver a course around tricky political, economic and social buoys for a while yet. But we're plotting a course for total victory in Iraq, and as hard as it is for the Nervous Nellies and Henny Pennies to swallow, the bottom line is that the security situation in Iraq is showing a lot of promise. The nattering nabobs of negativism shouldn't be afraid to acknowledge it.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Howard Dean: The Gift That Keeps on Giving

The U.S. will not win in Iraq. That is the latest from Howard Dean, along with some dopey comments about bringing all Reservists and National Guardsmen home but leaving the active duty guys there. This guy never ceases to help us.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

More Than a Blip

Rasmussen remains a good first stop to get a real sense of polling trends (because they poll daily vs. the MSM infrequent polls) and the trend looks good. President Bush, after being mired in the low 40s during the Miers debacle, has moved back above 45%. I think this is proof positive that he has won some of his base back - and by base I mean people like me who want to see an aggressive administration out there taking on the Reids and Pelosis and Kennedys and Kerrys directly.

An even bigger swing is in the percentage of people who think we are winning the war on terror - now 48% vs. 39% a month ago. Again, I think this is partly a result of the administration getting the word out. Even though the MSM will filter the message, there are enough other outlets - blogs, talk radio, Fox - who will not dilute the truth and will help push these numbers higher as long as the administration gives us something to work with.

Prediction - Iraq continues to improve, strong turnout (including Sunni) on
Dec. 15 kicks into place the military plan for phased U.S. withdrawals, the economy continues to purr and the MSM becomes less able to paint a negative picture, Dems fracture over Alito as he looks great in confirmation hearings, and hopefully the Bush administration presses the accelerator down during the good times to push for reform in the areas that the Dems do not have the courage to tread but that are needed for our national well-being - tax reform and simplification, social security reform, tort reform, reduced govt. regulation, reduced govt. spending, immigration reform and increased school choice.

Wine Into Vinegar

I read the passage below from the N&O today, and I had become so used to the lousy reporting and biased presentation and mindless parroting of the MSM-attack-Bush-theme-of-the-day that I just moved along. But Mike Williams got me fired up again about this:

Eager to rescue approval ratings dragged low by the Iraq war, President Bush embraced an upbeat employment report Friday and pronounced the future of the U.S. economy "as bright as it's been in a long time."

A buoyant president strode into the White House Rose Garden where snow flurries swirled to welcome a new Labor Department report showing U.S. jobs rebounding from a beating delivered by the Gulf Coast hurricanes. Nonfarm payrolls grew by 215,000 in November, the strongest increase since July, according to the report.

"This economy is in good shape," Bush said with a smile.

Bush did not mention the deaths in Iraq of 10 Marines who were killed Thursday by a roadside bomb near Fallujah. White House press secretary Scott McClellan said Bush had been briefed twice about the incident, the deadliest in Iraq in nearly four months, before he spoke to the press. In all, more than 2,100 members of the U.S. military have died since the war began in March 2003.

Now if you can't see the shameful bias in that "reporting" then move along, but if you arae dismayed you can contact News Editor Melanie Sill at msill@newsobserver.com and Public Editor ted.vaden@newsobserver.com. Personally I think you are wasting your time in contacting them, and I guarantee you will get a mealy-mouthed response, but I may be wrong and your efforts may help rescue the paper.

Gov. Drives Up Your Health Care Costs

The JLF research team provides a good example of how more, not less, govt. intervention drives up your medical costs.

Aggressive Information Operations

We have long struggled with how to get our message across to the populations of countries, especially in the Middle East, who will certainly benefit from our liberation of their countries. The biggest 2 obstacles to our efforts have been the state-controlled presses of the Middle East (including the pseudo-controlled elements like Al Jazeera) and the Blame-America-First elements of the western MSM, including the major MSM organs like the NYT, LA Times, CNN and 3 networks.

So I am cheered to know that we are starting to conduct aggressive information operations by paying for positive editorials in Middle East papers. It is particularly nice to know that the stories we are pushing are truthful in content though obviously depicting the positive elements of our role in Iraq. The MSM is up in arms about the program because they despise anyone (including the blogs) who speeds the precipitous decline their importance as a filter.

The latest MSM fluster is reported here by Mudville Gazette. Our government is screening speakers before we send them, with taxpayer dollars, overseas to speak on behalf of the U.S. government. Not surprisingly, we want to ensure they are conveying a positive message of the U.S. While the MSM expresses dismay, most of us simply ask, why weren't we doing this all along?

Friday, December 02, 2005

Pouting Pundits of Pessimism

The WSJ picks up the theme we have posted on here regarding the ability of the MSM to spin good economic news into bad when a conservative administration is in power. Even if you don't read the article, you have to like the title - Pouting Pundits of Pessimism.

Disunity Bolsters Iraqi Rebels

Yep - that is the headline the N&O runs on page 1 today (from a NYT story). We have already criticized the MSM for not calling those who seek chaos in Iraq terrorists (or in some cases militants or insurgents) rather than rebels. But the issue with the headline is the unproven statement.

Counterterrorist/counterinsurgency experts could argue for a long time over whether it is easier to defeat a unified insurgency (the Mao model) or one marked by many small groups who are not unified. But my guess is that if these terrorist/insurgent groups in Iraq were unified, the NYT would run, and the N&O would publish, a headline reading Unity Bolsters Iraqi Rebels.

The goal of the NYT is not to reveal truth, but rather to take the angle that most damages the administration. I can see the headline now after Iraqis flood to the polls on Dec. 15: Confusion Reigns at Iraqi Polling Stations - and the MSM will depict this as a bad thing.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

MSM Pushes Agenda

The MRC reports that the MSM is even pushing their agenda during a tour of the White House with the First Lady:

ABC's Jessica Yellin, live on Wednesday's Good Morning America, exploited First Lady Laura Bush's tour of White House Christmas displays, cards and decorations to hit her with an emotion-laden inquiry about regretting the war in Iraq: "Have you ever met with a mother whose own loss has made you question, even for a moment, whether the U.S. should be in Iraq?" Mrs. Bush replied with how "every loss is too many" and said that "I want to encourage Americans to reach out to our military families who suffer the most." Yellin followed up by continuing her agenda: "And do you hope the U.S. will be out of Iraq by this time next year?" Yellin posed her serious questions about three minutes into Mrs. Bush's descriptions of the cards and ornaments in the East Room.