Monday, May 31, 2004

What Do I Wear If I Came For Jesus' Sake?

Captain's Quarters has this story about an outrage in Minnesota:
About 40 men from a recently formed group, Ushers of the Eucharist, collected in the central aisle in the Cathedral of St. Paul during Holy Communion and asked the Rainbow Sash Alliance not to take part.
They then knelt in the aisle to block those wearing rainbow sashes, which symbolize support of gay Catholics taking Communion. Other members of the group created a bottleneck by kneeling in front of the altar...
Ushers of the Eucharist formed just days ago to stop the Rainbow Sash Alliance from taking Communion on Pentecost Sunday, which celebrates the coming of the Holy Spirit [to] Jesus' apostles.
The Ushers of the Eucharist's main goals were to make a statement about the holiness of the Eucharist and to encourage church leaders to be more authoritative in dealing with the "large homosexual movement" in the Catholic Church, said the group's leader, David Pence...
Pence acknowledged that his group is defying Archbishop Harry Flynn's stance that the Rainbow Sash Alliance will not be denied Communion except under "extreme" circumstances, but said it was necessary. Cardinal Francis George of Chicago instructed priests there to refuse Communion to rainbow sash wearers.
"The Eucharist and the tradition of the church is bigger than me and it's bigger than Archbishop Flynn," Pence said. "Our bishop is a good man, but an extremely weak man and we want to give him courage."


I did notice that Archbishop Flynn offered a lot of freedom in the structure of services in the diocese when I lived in the Twin Cities, but whether that is due to 'weakness' will be demonstrated by his reaction to this sort of nonsense. It should be made clear that anybody who thinks blocking the aisles is a holy act should stay home until they regain their senses.

Captain Ed did a thorough job correcting the doctrinal errors made by the Ushers of the Eucharist. In a nutshell, being modest and chaste in thought and action, and gay, isn't sinful just as being modest and chaste in thought and action, and straight, isn't sinful.

The head of the Rainbow Sash Alliance, Brian McNeill, seems to have a better grasp of Church teachings:
"It's just presumptuous to call another person a sinner," McNeill said. "It's not their [Ushers of the Eucharist's] place to restrict people from taking Communion."
McNeill answered: "You guys aren't the priest and you guys aren't the Archbishop. The Archbishop has said we are welcome to take Communion."


But episcopal correction should not be one-sided. I agree with Cardinal Francis George in Chicago after reading what the Rainbow Sash Alliance is about:
The Rainbow Sash Alliance -- Catholics in the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered community -- and its supporters have taken communion for three years without incident on Pentecost Sunday at the cathedral. Sunday was the first time they were met with resistance...
Rainbow Sash Alliance organizer Brian McNeill said the sash is a symbol of sexual identity and an invitation to the church for open dialogue on the issue. He said 17 Rainbow Sash supporters peacefully received Communion in St. Cloud.
About 80 rainbow sashes were distributed to men and women. An estimated 165 parishioners also donned rainbow ribbon pins distributed by Margaret Hoffman, who is not affiliated with either group.


Almost certainly, the members of the Alliance received communion for more than three years. They just started to wear the sash three years ago.

At times Boy Scouts, police, firefighters, military, etc., will attend Mass in their uniforms. The point is to show Christian solidarity among the community. Communicants in police uniform are there to show Christians serve Christ as cops. They're not there to demand the bishop get behind the union in the latest contract battle with the city.

I have a problem with people who show up to Mass wearing a symbol to advertise an ongoing argument within the Church. From what McNeill told the paper, that is why the group wears the sashes on the Feast of the Pentecost.

If that's appropriate, maybe the Ushers of the Eucharist could just come up with their own sash. And then there'd be another color sash for people who dislike the Rainbow Alliance but support the Archbishop's handling of the diocese, and another for people who support the Archbishop against all comers, and several other sashes for people who left the choir/Altar Society/Parish Council/fiesta committee because some members have the wrong attitude...

In a written statement handed out before Mass, the Rev. Michael Skluzacek, pastor at the cathedral, asked parishioners to pray for those who are "mistakenly using the Mass and the Eucharist to make their own personal statements."

Amen.

Sunday, May 30, 2004

Wolves Delay the Inevitable

I saw the Timberwolves-Lakers game at a local watering hole with some friends.

The Lakers showed a decided lack of hustle most of the evening, and forfeited too many rebounds. Too often I saw a Laker take a shot and then sprint downcourt with the rest of the team, as the ball fell into a sea of white jerseys. With the Timberwolves' accuracy and speed that was a fatal error.

Also 3 of the last 5 fouls called against the Lakers were optical illusions. That's six points in a two-point game.
However, if Fox hadn't gift-wrapped three baskets for the Timberwolves in the first half, that wouldn't have mattered.

Lakers were down by 14 with 5 mins on the clock and scored 22 points while yielding only 10 points in those five minutes.

With home-court advantage this one's in the fridge.

Saturday, May 29, 2004

New Warfare II

We’re not razing cities to construct manageable ghettoes.
We’re not relocating the masses to concentration camps.
We’re not issuing internal passports backed by the firing squad.
We’re not eradicating entire classes that might be disloyal.
We’re not executing ten hostages for every soldier killed.
We’re not establishing firing squads to crush political crime.
We’re not imposing a permanent hierarchy obedient to our government.

Rather than use these proven methods for subduing hostile populations, our President is trying to allow the citizens of Iraq to live in their homes, come and go as they please, conduct business as they please, determine their own political alignments, and devise a democratic system in step with their own culture, by such institutions as they deem necessary.
And while they’re doing that, he’s trying to implement a triage government that is intended to terminate itself, while restricting military force as much as possible.

It seems the President really believes in the Christian doctrine of the soul, and the American ideal of individual rights, and he’s actually guided by those beliefs when making policy. People who share those beliefs ought to support his efforts to make them practicable.

New Warfare I

The Belmont Club has a good post, “The Global Battlefield”. They discuss an article by Lt. Col. Robert R. Leonhard in Army Magazine last year, “Sun Tzu’s Bad Advice: Urban Warfare in the Information Age”.

The thrust of the Belmont Club post is that modern (American) war is as much a media conflict as a military conflict, and the two must be won at the same time.

The notion that American war is postmodern, that the perception of battlefield progress is as significant as actual military capability, explains perfectly the disconnect between American opinion of Vietnam after Tet and the actual situation in Vietnam.

However, accepting this postmodernist viewpoint as a guide for future operations would be disastrous. Walter Cronkite’s basic error in reacting to the Tet Offensive was that the existence of violence was described as a failure. The fact that the US emerged victorious from this wave of violence, the fact that the Viet Cong was forever more a spent firecracker, was ignored. Most of Cronkite’s successors not only accept his error as deep wisdom, they go further and adopt a pacifist, anti-military viewpoint. Walter Cronkite, at least, was willing to accept an American victory.

As a lifelong civilian, I’m not qualified to evaluate Lt. Col. Leonhard’s article as a tactical guide for Army operations. It seems the military is using many of these ideas in Iraq, although as with any initial development, the practice is not as effective as the theory. (I think his idea about using CS gas to clear combat zones might be an effective tool against militia encamped in mosques). But it misses the central difficulty in media relations in the current war.

The media is not only criticizing US casualties, but enemy casualties as well. Operations such as the storming of a mosque in Najaf on May 25th of this year, in which 32 militia died without a Coalition casualty, are met with hand-wringing about what the locals might think about it. The existence of violence is seen as the problem.
This is coupled with a rise of incompetence in the media and in politics. (Belmont Club has a running series of posts about the media’s inability to maintain quality control.) It’s not a shift in values or styles. It’s actual stupidity.

When Ted Kennedy and Nancy Pelosi publicly declare that we can’t succeed in Iraq under this President, it’s not only undermining the wartime tradition of nonpartisanship that future Democratic Presidents would need, or demoralizing our troops. It’s stupid. What happens when the American people return President Bush to the White House? Will Ted Kennedy and Nancy Pelosi resign rather than work with him?

When the Boston Globe runs faked photos of Iraqi abuse on their front page because they wanted a scoop, it’s not only bad judgment by editors. It’s stupid. The abuse of prisoners occurred six months before the Globe ran the story. And did the editors really think the public craves Abu Ghraib photos so much, they'll ignore papers than don't run them on the top fold?

Because of media bias and inability, the press is not another battleground, another prize to capture. It is a negative factor to be fought. A wartime White House must assume that the organized media will be largely hostile to an American victory, and must assign political operatives, not civil servants or military officers, to undermine their operations.

Friday, May 28, 2004

Finally...

Compare this AP story with the Vatican Information Service copy.
Notice the factual accuracy, the total absence of any mention of the Pope's age or health, and the lack of any quotes from dissenters. Nice.

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Poetry Contest

I'm not sure where political blog haiku started, but Sneakeasy's Joint is spreading it. He's holding a contest for patriotic haiku, tankas, and cincquains:

We held
the obvious
truths: all are made by God
equal, free, and optimistic.
Still do.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Worth It

To counter all the hand-wringing over US casualties in Iraq, I could stress that more Americans died in seventy-six hours on Tarawa Atoll than have died in Iraq all year. But I won't stress it, because those number games don't matter.

In Iraq as on Tarawa, we fight to win and pay such cost in lives as will secure victory.

On Tarawa victory was achieved within four days. In Iraq, from recent testimony to Congress, the Joint Chiefs estimate that Iraq's military will be strong enough to take charge of security around April 2005.

So the cost in American lives for Iraqi democracy may well pass the cost of a ring of coral in the South Pacific. It might even approach the cost of a blasted wood in France, although it must come cheaper than a volcanic island in the Sea of Japan. It's worth it.

Complaining about the death toll in Iraq is basically asking for the death toll to be spread out over a million square miles in a dozen countries and their surrounding coasts. Instead of roadside bombs near Fallujah, we'd have suicide boat attacks off of Dubai, and car bombs in Saudi Arabia, and snipers in Egypt, and grenade attacks in Lebanon. Truck bombs in East Africa. Surface-to-air rocket attacks in Pakistan. Mortar attacks in Kuwait. Vest-bombers in Turkey.

Because while 'war breeds terrorism' in that it fuels rage and despair, a cowardly peace works even better. It breeds contempt for a country that turns to talk and money to solve everything. Mockery of those who think commerce can be apolitical and secular. Ruthlessness towards adults who view religious faith as a character quirk to be tolerated.

Either way, there will be funerals with an honor guard and a folded flag presented to the next of kin. That will happen as often as the enemy wants it to happen--so long as we permit them to want it to happen.

It looks like the election will turn on the War on Terror. On one side are Americans who understand that our troops are fighting for a goal as noble, as necessary, as challenging, and as attainable, as the goals in both world wars. On the other are Americans who didn't think we should have gone in, and won't mind if we lose, no matter how close our victory or the cost in lives for the retreat.

To hell with them and anyone else who says "America can't" when they mean "I won't". 'I won't' yield America to them. I remember what they did to it the last time they won.

Monday, May 24, 2004

Halting the Stampede

I agreed with the Fox News commentator who said the President's primary job in his speech was to stop the panic of American elites. I think he demonstrated we're not in freefall.

I'm afraid Hunter S. Thompson, Carl Bernstein, and Andy Rooney have already run over the cliff.

Some interesting information from the speech:
"Five Iraqi army battalions are in the field now, with another eight battalions to join them by July the 1st. The eventual goal is an Iraqi army of 35,000 soldiers in 27 battalions, fully prepared to defend their country."
If 35,000 troops make up 27 battalions that will about 1296 men in a battalion; 8 such battalions would be more than 10,000 troops.
Per the PostVietnam Media Template, don't expect to see these headlines:
Bush: Iraqi Force to Grow 160% in June
10,000 Iraqi Troops Swell Coalition Ranks
Iraqi Army Growing Faster Than Insurgent Militias

Sunday, May 23, 2004

Bad Advice

I don't quote Dick Morris to make fun of him (honest!) I exhibit his columns when they provide instructive examples of Clintonthink, which must be kept down.

Today Dick Morris actually praises the President's leadership on the War on Terror. He goes on to say that neither Kerry nor Nader will provide that quality of leadership. But he repeats four errors from the Clinton Spin Machine:

Moral Equivalence.
"[Bush's] commitment to principle and stubbornness may lead him to pursue the democratization of that savage land, but unless he gets a dose of reality soon, it will cost him re-election. "
In fact, Bush's commitment to principle is what keeps his head above water. He has annoyed conservatives with liberal programs, he has annoyed liberals with conservative judges, he has annoyed the centrists with his idealism. He survives that by being uncomplaining, positive, dedicated, and sincere--in a word, respectable.

Style over Substance
Since 9/11, no event has rivaled that excruciating day in impact and lasting effect. But the Abu Ghraib scandal comes close. Its effect on this election and on our self-image is likely to be considerable unless and until Bush rescues us from his miscalculations and errors.
Is there anyone who believes this? Besides pundits, I mean.

Every Week Is Election Week
More depressing than his diminished fortunes is the difficulty in seeing how he can emerge. There is no issue on which a majority of voters rate him positively. Bush could once depend on terrorism and Iraq to provide the potential for gains. But in latest Gallup Poll, he gets a 47 percent vote share, but only a 41 percent positive rating on handling the war in Iraq. And only 44 percent report feeling the invasion was worth it. So the bars Bush could once have grasped to pull himself up and raise his vote share above 50 percent are no longer there.
Why is this week's poll more decisive than last week's? Or the one taken the week before? Especially since nobody will mention this poll after two weeks?

You Do What Sells, Don't Sell What You Do
As outrage grows over the war in Iraq, catalyzed by the shameful and shocking mishandling of Iraqi prisoners of war, the left expects Kerry to step up to the challenge and run against what it perceives to be a latter-day Vietnam. But Kerry, anxious to preserve his centrist credentials and to assure Americans of his toughness in the War on Terror, seems intent on talking about everything but Iraq.

Bush must choose between insisting on democracy in Iraq and continuing to provide America the leadership it needs in fighting the War on Terror in other places.
What is so radically impossible about shaping public opinion?

By November 2nd, Iraq will have had 93 days of transition government and be less than two months from national elections, we should be in our twelfth consecutive month of job growth, and America will have witnessed a solid week of live, prime-time Byrd, Pelosi, Kennedy, Gephardt, Dean, Kerry, Biden, Waters et al. at the Boston Unconventional. Solid reasons to believe in re-election.

Friday, May 21, 2004

Czech Blarney

I don't buy it. I don't believe that John Kerry might delay accepting the Democratic nomination beyond the July convention in Boston for fundraising reasons.

I refuse to believe that Kerry would break almost two centuries of tradition, annoy the networks who will be interrupting scheduled broadcasts for the convention, outrage the city of Boston, and lose thousands of votes nationally, for--at best--$60 million dollars. Remember that Bush can keep to his schedule and fundraise in July and August, so Kerry would merely stay current with Bush.

No, I think we're hearing this because eight weeks away from the convention, Kerry has no running mate. He can't show up with "Kerry/(tbd)" banners and placards. He doesn't dare accept the nomination without a running mate, and since nobody will take the job, the nomination must be postponed.

The clincher? This postponement announcement comes two days after a cordial, quiet, and seemingly pointless meeting between Kerry and Ralph Nader. Coincidence?

Kicking Against the Goad

Lex Communis links to A Saintly Salmagundi who has the full text of the letter written by 48 members of Congress to Cardinal McCarrick.

There are a number of profound errors in this historic letter.

The signatories assert that they, not the bishops, must weigh the morality of their own acts and that they must be free of the influence of the bishops.
They deny the clergy may withhold the Eucharist from anyone who presents themselves.
They argue that there must be separate private and public morality.
They argue that their own morality should not be present in their actions as Representatives, but that they should somehow represent the disparate moralities of all their constituents.
They argue that the decisions of the US Supreme Court must be honored regardless of the intrinsic evil of abortion, and that expansion of this “mandate” is “not acting contrary to our positions as faithful members of the Catholic Church”.
They equate the issue of abortion with hunger relief, war protest, capital punishment, health care reform, and adoption.
They argue a definition of “Catholic social justice” that excludes protection of the unborn.
They pervert the writings of the USCB and Fr. John Courtney to support a practice the good father and the bishops considered abhorrent: legal abortion.

These 48 Representatives, by publicly challenging the hierarchy of the American Church with a catalog of errors, make papal intervention more likely. Karol Wojytla risked execution taking Holy Orders in Nazi Poland, and as a bishop risked assassination by defying the Communist authorities. As Pope John Paul II, he won’t be pressured by letters about deference to secular authority.

Update: Hugh Hewitt presents a letter from the Catholic League rebuking the Four Dozen.

"Nothing is new under the sun." If you know the history of medieval Europe, or of the anti-clerical movements in France and Latin America, you can tell what the Four Dozen will do next. They will appeal to the Pope to deliver them from bad shepherds. They will argue that the Church in the United States was running smoothly until these bishops took office. They will lament disunity as an evil which starts at the top and spreads downwards. They will plead for bishops 'in step' with the modern American laity. And when the Pope does not appease them, they will condemn this Pope...

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

"Our Base at Shangri-La"

That's where FDR said the Doolittle Raid was launched from, to disguise our ability to launch land-based bombers from carriers.

A growing number of defeatists seem to believe such a base should be the foundation of an exit strategy for Iraq.

Courtesy of RealClearPolitics Dick Morris has an article at The Hill urging we escape this "quagmire":
Let Iraq descend into warring chaos, but keep our troops out of it. Inevitably power struggles will rage as we withdraw, and likely will incite further bloodshed and violence. Keep our men and women nearby, on military bases, to be sure that the Baathists do not come back. But let the people and leaders of that savage land do their thing. Perhaps Iraq, an invention of the British foreign office’s mapmakers, will break apart into three nations. What is so wrong with that?

So much is wrong I'll just name the top two items.
It would create one terror-state looking to Iran, one terror-state looking to Syria, and a Turkish-occupied sector turning a blind eye to the terrorism of the other two for their help in repressing Kurdistan.
Also, I forsee a problem telling Americans to leave their homes to go die in Iraq to maintain anarchy.
Remember when pollsters like Dick Morris actually had a say in foriegn policy?

Powerline has this article by Mark Helpin, who also urges a concentration of power out of harm's way:
What remains is to pick a strongman, see him along, arrange a federation, hope for the best, remount the army, and retire, with or without Saudi permission, to the Saudi bases roughly equidistant to Damascus, Baghdad, and Riyadh. There, protected by the desert, with modern infrastructure, and our backs to the sea, which is our metier, we would command the center of gravity of the Middle East, and with the ability to strike hard, fast and at will, could enforce responsible behavior upon regimes that have been the citadel of our enemies.

Thus, after lamenting the lack of control over Iraqi polticial development, the 9,000 mile supply line, the low ratio of US soldiers to territory and population, and the low opinion of US goals in the region, Mr. Helprin urges a course of action that would exacerbate every problem he mentions.

Hugh Hewitt offers this "deeply pessimistic" article by Daniel Williams that merely falls into the usual error of describing US violence against insurgents as a problem equivalent to the assassination of pro-US officials. Here's the first paragraph:
With stunning brazenness, pinpoint timing and devastating force, the suicide car bomber who killed the head of Iraq's Governing Council on Monday gave shape to a feeling among Iraqi and U.S. officials and common citizens that the country is almost unmanageable.

When was the last time the Washington Post referred to US military operations in such stirring language?

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

REQUIRED READING

Warfighting, the United States Marine Corps' manual of military philosophy. A simple, straightforward and suprisingly compact discussion of fighting victorious wars, by one of the best fighting organizations ever assembled.
This is the best cure for the constant drips of defeatism by the supposed 'elite'. It's all online, for free, here.

Monday, May 17, 2004

No Thank You, Andrew Sullivan

TIME magazine gives Andrew Sullivan a soapbox for that ole-time Catholic-bashing.
The title alone, "Showdown at the Communion rail" lets you know TIME knows nothing about the modern Church.

My jaw was open--then clenched--with the first paragraph:
It has — amazingly — been 44 years since a Catholic ran for the presidency of the U.S. under a major-party banner. And how things have changed. In 1960 John F. Kennedy had to convince Americans that he was not too Catholic to be President. In 2004 John F. Kerry has to convince the Catholic bishops that he is not too American.

Sullivan then goes on to try and prove his bigotry is more Ivy League than Ku Klux Klan--you know, grounded in sophistry rather than real belief in anything:
By "too American," I mean in the sense that religious faith is a personal matter, that it can be sealed off from public life, that it doesn't dictate political views on any one issue or another. But on the issue of abortion, that is exactly what some in the Catholic hierarchy and conservative grass roots seek to challenge. These orthodox Catholics believe that no public official can be openly Catholic and support the right to a legal abortion, which the church regards as a moral evil of the highest order. The distinction between someone's private view on the morality of abortion and his or her public stance about its legality is a distinction without a difference, they argue. Until now, that has been simply a rhetorical assertion — and certainly one well within the rights and duties of the bishops. But in the past few years, accelerating fast in recent weeks, orthodox forces have been demanding more stringent action — that pro-choice politicians be not simply publicly reprimanded but barred from receiving Holy Communion, the central, unifying act of Catholic worship.

Wrong. The Church teaches that our faith in Christ alters how we do everything in life--that is why the Church urges us to reflect on the lives of the saints, and assigns saints as patrons of lawyers, soldiers, television, travel, etc. An auto mechanic who goes to Mass every morning before cheating his customers is not a good Catholic. The same holds true for politicians who promote immoral acts and worse, seduce good Catholics into believing immorality is compatible with a life in Christ.

Sullivan blames 'orthodox forces' (does he really believe his point of view is heterodox?) for pushing this policy to the top of the agenda. He should also blame the boldness of Catholic politicians over the past decade. In 1996 Bob Dornan and Loretta Sanchez, both Catholic, battled each other for a Congressional district by holding rallies in church parking lots after Mass, and issuing flyers adorned with the Virgin Mary. Politicians like Gray Davis proclaim themselves Catholic and pro-choice, then tell the bishop not to lecture them on the practice of their faith. And now Sen. Kerry goes so far as to declare that Vatican II and Pope Paul XXIII [sic] prohibit the Church from instructing any Catholic as to the morality of abortion.

Sullivan argues, again incorrectly:
It is one thing for the church to preach what it believes — the sanctity of unborn human life. It is another thing to use the sacraments of the church to enforce political uniformity on the matter. How many of us Catholics are completely worthy every Sunday of receiving what we believe to be the body and blood of Jesus? The church understands this and has long left it up to the individual to wrestle with his or her conscience as to whether going to Communion is appropriate.

The Church continues to preach that the Eucharist cannot be taken by people in a state of mortal sin. It has left that examination of conscience up to the communicant. However, we see a national situation arising where some communicants are not undertaking this examination of conscience, and worse, encouraging other Catholics to abandon it as unnecessary and 'unAmerican'.

The bishops are debating whether to accept a national, uniform policy of excommunication of pro-choice politicians. Excommunication is not a new idea, not even in the American Church, although uncommon. However they decide, Catholics should prepare ourselves to accept their decision for the good of the Church. There is a lot to be said for a cautious approach. Excommunication of the powerful can be a farcical revolving door. The bishops will have to work deftly to balance an true encouragement to obedience, with Christ's willingness to forgive "seventy times seventy". However, inaction has permitted erosion of respect for life, respect for the Eucharist, and respect for the authority of the magestrium. Something must be done.
And if Catholics like Sullivan and Kerry continue to undermine the authority of American bishops to resolve an American problem, it is more and more likely that something will be imposed on Americans by the Holy See--and that would be regrettable for the Church in America.

IED was WMD

Drudgereport has this Reuters post: A 155mm shell exploded as a roadside mine was in fact a sarin gas shell. Since it was exploded in the ground instead of an airburst it did not disperse as it was designed to do. Sarin is the highly toxic agent the Aum Doomsday cult used in a Tokyo subway in 1995.

Back in January the Danish army found some shells leaking chemicals. Tests later showed the chemicals were not any kind of chemwar agent. (Most likely they were phosphorus). The Iraqi army buried hundreds of shells near a village as it retreated in 1991.

I would guess that this pattern of burying shells happened more than once; that the insurgents did not raid an established ordnance depot but found such a cache of 155mm shells; and now that they're aware some of those shells have sarin inside, they may try to disassemble the shells and remove the sarin. Hopefully we'll learn of that because they blow themselves up trying.

Sunday, May 16, 2004

Support Our Italian Ally

On April 12, four Italian civilians were captured by insurgents in Iraq. On April 25, a group calling itself the Green Brigade released a video exhibiting three of the hostages. The Green Brigade demanded Italians stage mass demonstrations against Italian troops in Iraq, or the hostages would be killed. The video also showed the fourth hostage, Fabrizio Quattrocchi, being murdered with a gunshot to the neck. His last words were, “Now I will show you how an Italian dies.”

The Italian public had been divided over the Iraqi deployment, but united against submitting to this terrorist extortion. The terrorist demands were not met.

On May 16, insurgents attacked Italian forces in Nasiriyah, forcing them to withdraw with losses.

Italians are being singled out for their defiance of terror. It’s important that the American public shows that support for Italy and the Coalition against Terror is deeper than just the Bush Administration.

One way to do that is to send a message of support to the Italian embassy:
Embassy of Italy
3000 Whitehaven Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C., 20008
Tel (202) 612-4400
Fax (202) 518-2154

affariconsolari@itwash.org

Another is to contact your Representative and ask them to propose a resolution thanking Italy for its support.
To contact your member of Congress go here:

Marching Onwards

Having cited Powerlineblog for persistent outbursts of election pessimism, I should proclaim it has posted some good news about the Iraqi south.

News today that the al-Mahdi Army has driven Italian troops from their base in Nasiriyah. A look at a map shows that Nasiriyah is over 100 miles from Najaf and Karbala. The al-Mahdi Army has no stomach for persistent resistance against the Coalition and Iraqi Defence Corps. Soon it will not be attacking in Nasiriyah either.

Much is being made --too much I think-- about recent Administration statements that we'll pull out entirely if the interim government requests we do so. Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't that the agreement we have with every nation on earth but Cuba and Serbia? The interim government will not have the troops necessary to prevent sabotage and looting, let alone battle the insurgents, without Coalition forces. I expect a deal to be in place for continued Coalition operations by the first week of July. Afghanistan is a fine model for such a deal.

LA Times tries to argue that Iraqi silence about the prisoner abuse scandal is really a damning indictment. Nice try. The article says 88% of Iraqis think the US is an occupier and not a liberator or peacekeeper, and that 57% want the US out immediately. No explanation is given for why 31% of Iraqis see us as occupiers but would like us to stick around awhile.

Sadly, George Will seems to be drifting towards the Pat Buchanan wing of the Republican Party. In his May 2 article, Will wrote:

The attack by two speedboats loaded with explosives that targeted a tanker taking on Iraqi oil in the port of Basra failed, in the sense that one boat was destroyed before it could strike the tanker, and the one that struck the tanker did not explode. But the attack succeeded in this sense: overnight the insurance rate for tankers shipping Iraqi oil exports doubled. This "terror premium" could make Iraqi oil too expensive for sale at the world market price, further damaging Iraqi reconstruction efforts at a time when pandemic violence in Iraqi cities has confined many private contractors to protected compounds.

In other words, a repeat of the post-Tet press pessimism: the presence of resistance, whether successful or not, is evidence of US failure.
In his May 11 article, Will demands the Administration provide empirical evidence that we can win the war. I suggest he do the same for his oil price speculation. For example, 100% of Venezuelan oil is shipped through the Maracaibo strait, a very narrow body of water; this risk has not led to such high insurance premiums that Venezuelan oil costs any more than Iranian or Russian oil, both free of such navigational hazards.
Hope, independent of hard evidence, may be delusional. So is despair.

We Will Win At Home

Back in September 2003, Powerlineblog ran some disappointing poll numbers and Hindrocket concluded that Bush wasn't going to pull through. I responded with a lengthy e-mail that Powerline graciously published on September 21, 2003.

Today there is more pessimism about the election today on Powerlineblog. So I have decided to copy that email and run it here.

"It's early days, and this ain't your father's Bush. He doesn't sit still and wait for events to turn around. He makes things happen.
I don't know what will happen between now and the election, but one thing that WON'T happen is stasis. We're at war, and the tempo of enemy action will be a huge factor in the election. Hindrocket, take heart. This will be a wartime election. Look at the pattern of wartime elections in the US: 1864, 1916, 1944, 1968, 1972 (I include 1916 because of the intensity of WWI and the depth of debate on US involvement). In each case the election was a referendum on the war, and a referendum on the incumbent's war policy. In each case victory was awarded to the candidate with a deliberate, decisive, divisive plan of ACTION regarding the war. Lincoln won on a policy of non-negotiation, Wilson on absolute neutrality, FDR on unconditional surrender, Nixon in '68 by advocating total victory, in '72 by calling for negotiated 'peace with honor.' Only FDR won by what could be considered a landslide, and 1944 was his fourth victory. None of the other races could be considered to have united the country, and the unity in 1944 had more to do with Pearl Harbor than FDR himself.
The only time the incumbent lost, 1968, was due to weakness in three pillars of wartime government: weakness in not committing to the war as the defining policy of the administration, in not successfully prosecuting the war, and in not maintaining unity within the administration on the war -- Gifford was able to challenge LBJ over the war, and it was Johnson who resigned his position. The successful candidate did not always advocate war -- but he always provided the voters with a clear choice and a reasoned argument. The entire nation did not always rally to him, but a majority did, and majorities win elections.
Looking to 2004, Bush meets the qualifications for a victorious wartime candidate. He has stated a clear, well defined position for victory. We will fight terrorists wherever they are found; if the state where they are lurking wants to crush them but lacks resources, the US will help; if that state declines to crush terrorists within its borders, the US will intervene; if allies are not willing to assist the US will do it alone. The fact that this policy has a real-life track record also helps. Voters know what Bush wants and what he will do about it.
By contrast, none of the Democrats have any clear position. They want the victories in Iraq and Afghanistan without the wars to achieve them, or they support the wars but not Bush's methods. They will fight to defend the US but on a case-by-case basis after consulting with our allies. They aren't sure what they want or how to get it. Gen. Clark had a fine chance to change that, but he's already squandered it in the first two days.
Bush, more than anyone since Lincoln, has identified his Administration with the war. He has successfully prosecuted it. The internal loyalty of the administration is better than LBJ's and certainly better than Lincoln's. He will not fail as LBJ failed. You seem to like creating hurdles for Bush to leap...WMDs are politically irrelevant. We won the war without finding them and failure to find them won't turn that triumph into a defeat. Finding them won't convince Democrats to abandon the campaign. The hatred of the establishment is a given for Republicans; it didn't stop W the first time. The liberal media are weaker than it was in 1992, and can't play as falsely as it did in that race without being called on it. Furthermore, the public is far less tolerant of libelling a President in war than in peace. For all those reasons I am confident that 2004 is Bush's to lose.
"

Not only are all those arguments still valid, we have even more evidence supporting a Bush win.
Bush is only 1% behind Kerry in some CA state polls...that is HUGE news, it indicates a whole class of voter is willing to get behind the Republican candidate this year.
The closer we come to the election the more clearly it becomes a contest between Bush and Kerry, not Bush vs George Will or Bush vs Kofi Annan or Bush vs al-Sistani etc., a clarification that only helps Bush.
We've seen the Democrats can't hold an appropriation committee hearing without running down our troops as torturers or our government as a rogue state; imagine what their 20 hours of convention speeches will sound like, and what that will do to Kerry this November.
Wartime elections are close, because they require the voter to place American lives in the hands of one man's judgement. But this election is still Bush's to lose.

Saturday, May 15, 2004

Gamedorks for Bush

I was never much for analyzing pop culture for political trends.
But Kerry actually saw combat and Bush didn't, yet Bush is the one who has an internet video game by the same people who made that Dancing Bush program. I take this caricature to be a sign of an upbeat image of this Administration among young voters.
Shallow? Sure! But there were people who said Madonna's grenade-toss video meant something about the election, and now I have a rebuttal at their level.

Friday, May 14, 2004

North Korean Nuclear Scenario

There's a report that North Korea may already have eight nuclear warheads and may be able to produce six per year within two years. When I first read it, I wasn't very impressed. Two or eight, it's still mainly a deterrent, not enough to knock the ROK out of the war before the US can arrive.

Then I came across a site that discusses the effects of nuclear blasts. I am not qualified to check their math, but they're arguing that eight Nagasaki-size warheads (20-kilotons each, 160 kilotons total), exploded simultaneously in a daisy-like pattern, would have worse blast and firestorm effects over a 105-square-mile area than a single 1-megaton warhead.

What does it mean if North Korea can do megaton damage right now, and could duplicate that capability every eighteen months by 2006?

With Enemies Like This, Who Needs Friends Like These?

Captain’s Quarters has some interesting news about today’s fighting against the al-Mehdi Army of Mohammed al-Sadr:

US forces also cut off the road between Najaf and Kufa, where al-Sadr was known to be giving a sermon on the "heads of tyranny," George Bush and Tony Blair, and claiming that the Nicholas Berg beheading and video were "fabricated. For the moment, he has been cut off from his al-Mahdi forces in Najaf, although he has militia in Kufa.

I call on Congress to create a medal for suicidal stupidity by our enemies. Thanks for leaving your citadel, Moe!
Captain Ed and Whiskey also have this BBC story:

In an interview published in Le Monde newspaper, Michel Barnier spoke of a lack of direction in Iraq and the Middle East as a whole.
The US had to realise that the 30 June Iraq handover should be a clean break from the current situation, he said.
Mr Barnier also ruled out sending French troops to Iraq in the future.
He said France could be useful to Iraq in other ways.


The Vatican is neutral, Sweden is neutral, Switzerland is neutral, and they enjoy excellent relations with the US. If France wants to act as a neutral power, let it declare itself so. So long as it acts as a neutral while posing as our ally, it will continue to be despised in this country.

Hugh Hewitt's friend doubts we really want to win

Hugh Hewitt posts a letter from a friend who wonders if we're on the wrong path to win in Iraq, or even continue the overall War on Terror.

I'm more confident. Conservatives have been on the losing end of the information war for some time; only recently have we managed to obtain unadulterated sources of conservative expression. I think the gauge should be not how much left-wing bias is offered, but how much is accepted.

And about Fallujah. The concern there is that Iraqis won't fight like the Marines were fighting and would have willingly continued to fight. The CentCom action report (see yesterday's posts) offers evidence that fear is misfounded.

Victor Davis Hanson speaks for victory

Victor Davis Hanson thinks we can win the war if we want to.

Hanson asks rhetorically, "What would we think now if George Marshall had been forced out on news that 3,000 miles away George S. Patton's men had shot some Italian prisoners, or Gen. Hodges's soldiers summarily executed German commandoes out of uniform, or drivers of the Red Ball express had raped French women?"

Actually Patton's men did execute some SS camp guards out of hand. Patton was not removed from command. A Navy review board found that Admiral Halsey twice failed to properly prepare his fleet for bad weather, resulting in American casualties, and recommended he be relieved of command. He wasn't.

Thursday, May 13, 2004

Who's Unilateral?

Hugh Hewitt's site has a passing reference to this Central Command action report
Here's something notable:
"The coalition task force also included Polish and Bulgarian units, a company from the 402nd Iraqi Civil Defense Corps and Iraqi Police Service officers.
As Soldiers prepared to enter the complex, they received mortar, small arms and rocket-propelled grenade fire from the mosque and from rooftops of surrounding buildings... Militiamen holed up inside the shrine fought the advancing Coalition forces with small arms, rocket-propelled grenades and hand grenades.
Iraqi Civil Defense Corps soldiers and Iraqi police officers made the assault into the mosque while other coalition forces established a cordon around the building.
"

So Iraqis were both ready and willing to assault Al-Sadr's militia headon when supported by Coalition soldiers. This is the protocol we're adopting in Fallujah. Looks like progress.
Hugh Hewitt's right, you won't see this reported anywhere.

The Economist shows some ankle

Maroonblog had this interesting post from the British newsmag The Economist. The Economist calls for Rumsfeld to resign. They're wrong, but the article is interesting reading.

For one thing, a US Cabinet is not comparable to a British Cabinet. There is a great deal of flexibility and horse-trading involved in the selection of British Ministers. The closest American approximation is in the selection of committee chairs in Congress: your seniority earns you a place somewhere, and a place will be found. In this atmosphere, 'responsibility' can mean exchanging places with another senior politician.

Whereas the American Secretaries are specifically approved for one department, and cannot play musical chairs in the British manner. 'Responsibility' for mistakes means cleaning up your own messes; resignation is an acknowledgement of total incompetence for any position of trust.

The article is also unpersuasive that Rusmfeld should go to prevent the prison abuse photos from reaching the damaging level of the photo of a naked Vietnamese girl fleeing American napalm. LBJ's Administration did get the boot, and yet that photo is still so familiar the Economist can discuss it without showing it.

What I thought was very interesting was the following passage about our 'abuse' at Guantanamo:
It was wrong because it violated the very values and rule of law for which America was supposedly fighting, and soon produced evidence of double standards: some American citizens captured in Afghanistan were allowed to stand trial in American courts in the normal way, but such rights were denied to mere foreigners, every single one of whom was labelled as a dangerous terrorist by Mr Rumsfeld, regardless of any evidence. It has been disastrous for America's reputation because of that hypocrisy but also because it has become a symbol of a “we'll decide” arrogance.
The Geneva conventions that have governed the treatment of prisoners of war for decades were waved aside. And the argument used to justify America's rejection of the new International Criminal Court—that its soldiers would be vulnerable to unreasonable persecution, with necessary military actions defined as crimes—looked ever more hollow. Thanks to Guantánamo, critics could argue that America really does need the check of the ICC, and that its claim that abuses would readily be dealt with in domestic courts was also hollow.


Well. Putting aside the fact that the Geneva Convention permits militaries to determine whether irregular combatants are prisoners of war, putting aside the fact that you cannot claim that people we captured on the battlefields of Afghanistan are entitled to both prisoner of war status and a presumption of innocence of being combatants... I recall that at the time the ICC was being debated in the US, the Bush Administration objected to language in the treaty that would permit the ICC to retry acquittals and cases already adjucated by national courts. And the Administration was told that if we'd sign the treaty as written, there would be a gentlemanly agreement such language would not be applied to the US. And when Bush refused to sign an objectionable written treaty based on unwritten codicils, he was pilloried for his unilateral arrogance. Yet here is the best English language weekly in Europe, discussing US jurisprudence as if such ICC 'checks' would have been applicable!

President Bush has his faults, but he is not a sucker for smooth talk.

Bl. Gianna Molla

Amy Welborn has info and links on the upcoming canonization of Gianna Molla.

After a lifetime of community service and religious faith, Sra. Molla was diagnosed with ovarian cancer while pregnant. She opted to give her daughter life at the cost of her own life.

Pro-abortionists hide behind the issue of 'choice', and pretend the freedom to choose is sacred, while the choice is morally neutral. In reality, they judge people by the choices they make about abortion as with any other choice. This was brought home to me in Connie Chung's interview with Jesse Jackson's lover, when she asked why the woman had not had an abortion. The supporters of 'choice' may denounce the self-righteousness of the pre-Roe society, but they are doing a great deal to recreate it.

The Catholic Church teaches that a pregnant woman may licitly choose life-saving surgery that results in miscarriage. The Church would not have condemned her had she chosen not to delay her operation. You will not see that respect for choice from the so-called 'pro-choice' lobby.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Put me on your list, Senator Lautenberg

chicken-hawk: (Sen. Dem.) n. A person who did not perform a combatant MOS while deployed in a combat area as a regular in one of the four main branches of the US military, who advocates American victory in war. Formerly citizen. See also patriot, civic duty, and home-front. Antonym: fifth-columnist, traitor.

Post-Vietnam Media Template

If I could read a network anchor's mind...

The US was defeated in Vietnam.
We should have foreseen American defeat in Vietnam.
We can cover wars differently to prevent another failure of adequate reporting.

Honest war reporting requires every story stress the real, imminent possibility of American defeat.

This defeat will take the form of a voluntary American withdrawal after American morale collapses, in spite of battlefield victories. Our job: not to prevent this collapse but to explain it. Bonus career points for anticipating it.

Collapsing American morale will be the decisive factor. Collapsing enemy morale will only undermine their battlefield performance, and is therefore irrelevant to the outcome in the decisive theater of US public opinion.

US casualties undermine US morale and are therefore relevant. US casualties are ‘significant, ‘heavy’, ‘high’, ‘significantly high’ or ‘significantly heavy’. US casualties are especially tragic because of the real possibility of imminent US defeat.

Enemy casualties only affect their own morale, which again is irrelevant to the final outcome.

Positive political and economic developments within the occupied territory have no effect on US morale. Negative political and economic developments are factors in the decisive collapse of American morale. Memo: Allocate resources accordingly.

Propagandists will try to undermine our efforts to provide accurate reporting of the imminent American defeat. They may go so far as to stress American determination, ingenuity, tenacity, competence, and vigor in two world wars to try and mask the collapsing American morale.
Head them off by using metaphors, man-in-the-street interviews, and opposition politicians. There is no logical rebuttal possible to a metaphor or man-in-the-street interview, and arguing with defeatist politicians is ‘partisanship in a time of war’.

Further, stress the differences in race, ethnicity, religion, culture, ideology, nationality, language, economy, political organization, geography, military tactics, technology, leadership, media relations, Internet access, clothing, cuisine, pop culture, hairstyles, etc., between US opponents in the world wars and the current US target, as well as between the current US public and the US public during the world wars.

This war is different from all previous American wars. All previous American wars were different from previous American wars. But to avoid joining the propagandists, only mention this war and Vietnam.

Fair and balanced wartime reporting has been unavailable during previous US wars, when the media was coerced into biased reporting. All the more necessary that future American defeats be properly covered, from failed diplomatic initiatives to the final embassy evacuation. Memo: have New York keep a chopper on standby for the last flight out.