Thursday, August 25, 2005

Thursday Tidbits

Odds 'n' ends from around the web:
  • Powerline posted excerpts from President Bush's speech in Idaho this week. A sample:

    The stakes in Iraq could not be higher. The brutal violence in Iraq today is a clear sign of the terrorists' determination to stop democracy from taking root in the Middle East. They know that the success of a free Iraq, who can be a key ally in the war on terror and a symbol of success for others, will be a crushing blow to their strategy to dominate the region, and threaten America and the free world. They know that when their hateful ideology is defeated in Iraq, the Middle East will have a clear example of freedom and prosperity and hope. And the terrorists will begin to lose their sponsors and lose their recruits and lose the sanctuaries they need to plan new attacks.

    And so they're fighting these efforts in Iraq with all the brutality they can muster. Yet, despite the violence we see every day, we're achieving our strategic objectives in Iraq. The Iraqi people are determined to build a free nation, and we have a plan to help them succeed. America and Iraqi forces are on the hunt, side-by-side, to defeat the terrorists. And as we hunt down our common enemies, we will continue to train more Iraqi security forces.
    The battle lines in Iraq are now clearly drawn for the world to see, and there is no middle ground. Transforming a country that was ruled by an oppressive dictator who sponsored terror into a free nation that is an ally in the war on terror will take more time, more sacrifice, and continued resolve. Terrorists will emerge from Iraq one of two ways: emboldened or defeated. Every nation -- every free nation -- has a stake in the success of the Iraqi people. If the terrorists were to win in Iraq, the free world would be more vulnerable to attacks on innocent civilians. And that is why, for the sake of our children and our grandchildren, the terrorists will be defeated. (Applause.)

  • Powerline also posted "Some Thoughts on Casualties in Times of War and Peace"
    Sometimes it becomes necessary to state the obvious: being a soldier is a dangerous thing. This is why we honor our service members' courage. For a soldier, sailor or Marine, "courage" isn't an easily-abused abstraction--"it took a lot of courage to vote against the farm bill"--it's a requirement of the job.

    Even in peacetime. The media's breathless tabulation of casualties in Iraq--now, over 1,800 deaths--is generally devoid of context. Here's some context: between 1983 and 1996, 18,006 American military personnel died accidentally in the service of their country. That death rate of 1,286 per year exceeds the rate of combat deaths in Iraq by a ratio of nearly two to one.

    That's right: all through the years when hardly anyone was paying attention, soldiers, sailors and Marines were dying in accidents, training and otherwise, at nearly twice the rate of combat deaths in Iraq from the start of the war in 2003 to the present. Somehow, though, when there was no political hay to be made, I don't recall any great outcry, or gleeful reporting, or erecting of crosses in the President's home town. In fact, I'll offer a free six-pack to the first person who can find evidence that any liberal expressed concern--any concern--about the 18,006 American service members who died accidentally in service of their country from 1983 to 1996.

    The statistics from the "Atlas of Injuries in the U.S. Armed Forces" (AUG 1999) indicate that accidental deaths counted weren't necessarily in the line of duty. Rather, the military keeps track of off-duty incidents as well; reducing all causes of death and injury means improved readiness and a better ROI for our tax dollars. The Navy, for example, is pushing a Designated Driver program called the HERO Campaign, which is just one of many ongoing safety-related efforts.

  • Powerline also pointed me to Katherine Kersten's touching column in the StarTrib, "In Iraq, Grace takes amazing hold":

    Pastor Ghassan Thomas was overjoyed on April 9, 2003, when coalition forces toppled Saddam Hussein. For four years, in the face of relentless persecution, he had operated an underground Christian church of about 50 members in the heart of Baghdad.

    Saddam's police had tortured him repeatedly, Thomas says -- beating him, suspending him from a ceiling fan and attaching electrodes to his tongue.

    Though Saddam's fall brought an end to official persecution, it also brought challenges. The living quarters where Thomas' fledgling flock had worshipped couldn't accommodate his swelling congregation, and he lacked resources to address their daunting needs.

    As his frustration mounted, Thomas says, "I prayed to God for a sister church to stand with me and help me."

    The answer to Thomas' prayers came from half a world away: Eden Prairie, Minn.

  • If you're looking for a roundup of good news from Iraq, check out All Things Conservative and the official Pentagon roundup. Chrenkoff is winding down his blog now that he has a new job, but promises another roundup next Monday.

  • John Fund of the Wall Street Journal was on Hugh Hewitt's show the other night, discussing his piece "Resurrecting Jim Crow for Political Gain," among other topics. He reported on a recent rally in Atlanta on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act. The lede:

    The Voting Rights Act, whose 40th anniversary we celebrate this month, has helped minorities elect 81 sitting members of Congress and thousands of local officials. But the rally civil rights groups held in Atlanta earlier this month to push for extension of the act's key temporary provisions downplayed those gains and instead pushed wild claims that some state laws requiring an ID to vote are the functional equivalent of Jim Crow poll taxes.

    Both Judge Greg Mathis, the star of a syndicated courtroom TV show, and California Rep. Barbara Lee claimed that the last two presidential elections had been "stolen." Judge Mathis told the rally Republican leaders "need to be locked up because they're all criminals and thieves." Other speakers claimed Georgia's new photo ID law would suppress poor and elderly minority voters who might lack such a document. When the bill passed the Georgia House in March, black legislators sang slave songs and one even slammed a prisoner's shackles on the desk of the sponsor.

    Juan Williams, a National Public Radio correspondent and author of "Eyes on the Prize: America's Civil Rights Years," is "stunned" by such vituperation. He told Fox News that it is "reacting to devils that have been slain 40 years ago." He says that "in service to having no fraud elections, I think you could say to people, go and get a legitimate ID. I don't think that's too much to ask."

    Andrew Young, the former Atlanta mayor and U.N. ambassador who spoke at the rally, believes that in an era when people have to show ID to rent a video or cash a check "requiring ID can help poor people." He noted that Georgia is deploying a mobile bus to issue voter IDs and allowing groups like the NAACP to arrange for it to go to specific sites.

  • Speaking of voter fraud, NY Times columnist Paul Krugman has been factually challenged in a couple of recent op-eds about the Florida recounts in 2000. As The American Thinker reports:
    Paul Krugman, the former Enron advisor, New York Times op ed columnist, and presumably in his spare time, “educator” at Princeton, has made a habit of distortion, and half truths in his twice-weekly columns in the “paper of record.” Several website have sprung up to deconstruct each Krugman column,and others respond to specific errors, which are routine. But Krugman's column on Friday, August 19 marks a remarkable descent into outright dishonesty, a new low. What is most astounding is that the dishonesty involves Krugman's deliberately mistaken interpretration of a study in which his own paper, the New York Times, was a participant, and from which the Times ' reporters drew entirely different conclusions from those which Krugman trumpeted in his article.
    A follow-up commentary is here. (Hat tip Patterico). More dissecting at Powerline and NRO.

  • One simmering scandal you may not have read about (especially if your main news source is the New York Times) concerns a $800k "loan" from the Gloria Wise Boys & Girls Club to the corporate parent of Air America. The New York City Department of Investigations is investigating Gloria Wise for misuse of government grants in making the loan. Air America is being sued for non-payment of air time, with allegations of fraudulent corporate maneuvers. All the earmarks of a classic whodunit! Key reports are the following:
  • The latest chapter in the ongoing "Able Danger" controversy is Senator Specter's memo to the FBI's Director seeking information (via Captain's Quarters). Captain Ed has run a series of posts on Atta and Able Danger this month, along with various AQ intelligence reports from overseas, such as France and Germany. He has a roundup post today with more links, "Able Danger: The Strange Spanish Interlude."

Friday, August 19, 2005

Rocket attacks in Jordan

This morning, several rockets were fired in the direction of two US Navy ships in port at Aqaba, Jordan. They missed the USS Kearsarge and USS Ashland, but killed a Jordanian soldier.

While the AP story has been getting more detailed throughout the day, the blogosphere is providing context, connecting dots, and raising questions. Some salient posts: