Saturday, July 02, 2005

The Danger of the Kennedy Quagmire

In a LA Times Op-ed Yale professor David Gelernter says Sen. Ted Kennedy is hurting U.S. resolve (to win in Iraq) by pushing the Vietnam button. Gelernter explains what we need to do to avoid defeat. Part of it is debunking liberal myths about Vietnam.

Gelernter begins:

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy has announced that the Iraq war "has been consistently and grossly mismanaged," and our troops "are now in a seemingly intractable quagmire." "Quagmire" is not a state of war but a state of mind. So the senator's words aren't necessarily wrong, they are merely irresponsible and potentially deadly — to U.S. interests and Middle East freedom.

When U.S. troops landed on Omaha Beach on D-day, they were pinned down by heavy fire and couldn't move. If some wiseguy had grabbed a megaphone and announced, "I hate to tell you, but this invasion has been grossly mismanaged and we are now stuck in a quagmire," he would not have been wrong. But luckily those soldiers decided that Omaha Beach was no quagmire. They fought their way inland and helped liberate Europe.

The U.S. has been stuck in countless potential quagmires in many wars. Each time, we could have announced "this is a quagmire and we're going home." Thank God we didn't — usually.

Granted, Kennedy isn't urging us to run away. He thinks we should switch strategy, make a success of Iraq and then go home. So we tell our troops that Iraq is a quagmire — and expect them to fight on bravely and win nonetheless, as various geniuses futz with the war plan until the senator is satisfied? Not even a Massachusetts liberal could believe that. (I think.)

There's lots more.

Read the whole thing. It's here.

Hat Tips: Betsy's Page and Powerlineblog

More Molly Math Mishaps

This from Bush-hating Molly Ivins' June 28 column:

I think we have alienated our allies and have killed more Iraqis than Saddam Hussein ever did.

No, Ivins' claim can't be true, can it?

So Michelle Malkin posted, "Molly Ivins Said What?" Malkin was sure Ivins made her calculations using Ivins' unique Molly Math system, which treats numbers the same way the Mad Hatter treated logic.

Sure enough, Malkin was right.

Using conventional mathematics, bloggers Arthur Chrenkoff and Confederate Yankee confirmed that Ivins' claim was only possible if Molly Math was used.

Here's some of Chrenkoff's finding:

Really? More than all those dead Kurds of the Anfal Operation and the Shia of the '91 uprising, more than all the other domestic opponents butchered over the years? And I'm not even counting the hundreds of thousands of lives wasted by Saddam in his two wars of aggression

And some of Confederate Yankee's finding (CY contacted Malkin by e-mail so no link. Text at Malkin's post):

Take estimates of 500,000-1 million soldiers and civilians killed in the Iran-Iraq war triggered by Saddam Hussein, add the 400,000 dead Iraqi civilians USAID estimates to be in at least 53 mass graves found in Iraq so far, and then add the very conservative estimate of 22,000 dead as a result of Saddam's invasion of Kuwait=1,422,000.

So much for Ivins' America-bashing claim.

Molly's America "killed more Iraqis than Saddam" hokkum is only the latest example of Molly Math in action.

There are some choice examples at a Powerlineblog post, More Social Security Follies.

Here's one: In September 2003 Ivins' informed her readers that "the economy is in the toilet." At about the same time, the government reported that GDP growth was at 7.2%, the highest rate for any quarter in 20 years.

Be sure to read the whole Powerlineblog post. It will cause everyone but Ivins' devoted readers to laugh and groan.

Friday, July 01, 2005

MSM ignores NBC anchor's remarks while bloggers report and comment

Once again bloggers are covering an important news story MSM news organizations are ignoring. As with Eason Jordan and Linda Foley, this story reflects poorly on one of MSM's own.

In this instance, it's NBC anchor Brian Williams' remarks equating the leaders of the American Revolution with Islamic hard-liner and alleged hostage taker, Iran's president-"elect" Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

For those new to the story or wanting reference points as the story develops and Williams' apologists try to fog over what he said, the following 3 posts provide a mix of fine reporting, commentary that's thoughtful and properly outraged, and links to other bloggers contributing to the story.

At Betsy's Page, she details the story's development leading to Williams' on air remarks. She then provides some historical information Williams either doesn't know or chose to ignore. And she has a pointed question about a "source" Williams used.

Michelle Malkin, along with reporting and commentary, does her usual outstanding job linking to seemingly everyone with something to contribute to the story. Her site must be causing a lot of pain right now at NBC.

Ed Morrissey at Captain's Quarters has the reporting but it's his commentary that really stood out. Here's part of it:

Did Washington bomb women and children indiscriminately in order to chase the British out of North America? Did John Hancock send teenagers with bomb belts into marketplaces to kill as many people as possible to destabilize colonial society? This comparison insults the intelligence and the memory of those who fought on both sides of the Revolutionary War, which (despite what's commonly thought) mostly saw European-style, set-piece combat between uniformed forces.

Williams indulges in the same, tired moral equivalency that led Michael Moore to declare Zarqawi as the Iraqi version of the Minutemen from our war of independence. This minimizes the cruelty and inhumanity of the enemies of freedom that use civilians as their targets while trying to impose tyrannies far worse than anything George III could ever have dreamed in his most feverish illusions. It also continues the generation-long effort to rewrite American history to eliminate the idea of American exceptionalism, where all forms of government are relatively equal and democracy is simply another choice with no special moral value over monarchies or autocracies.

Shame on Brian Williams, and shame on NBC.

Shame indeed.

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Palmetto Pundit questions court decision.

If you like bloggers who are civil, thoughtful, and literate, you'll like Palmetto Pundit.

Here's a sample of his work, part of his post on the recent U. S. Supreme Court decision on the Ten Commendments case from Kentucky.

Has a decision really been made here? Displaying the Ten Commandments on Government Property should either be constitutional or unconstitutional, not "it depends". It seems as if the decision whether they are permissible or not depends a great deal on whether the Supreme Court itself would have to be remodeled as a result of the decision.

Palmetto then quotes from the AP account of the decision:

The justices voting on the prevailing side in the Kentucky case left themselves legal wiggle room, saying that some displays inside courthouses - like their own courtroom frieze - would be permissible if they were portrayed neutrally in order to honor the nation's legal history.

The Supreme Court's frieze depicts Moses as well as 17 other figures including Hammurabi, Confucius, Napoleon and Chief Justice John Marshall. Moses' tablets do not have any writing.

Palmetto really cut to the chase, didn't he?

Enjoy your visit with him.

Did News & Observer reporting favor a Democrat?

Scott Pierce at Right in Raleigh is back from vacation and blogging up a storm. Go visit.

Among Scott's many fine posts, my favorite is the one below. I reproduced the whole post. It's short and a "must read" if you're a North Carolian who cares about fair press reporting.

Price vs. Delay

Tom Delay took overseas trips that were paid for by nonprofits with backing from lobbying interests. The N&O ran articles 9 consectutive days on the subject, including front page coverage.

We now learn that Dem. Congressman David Price from N.C. did the same thing. The N&O calls it a "loophole" and buries the article on 5B. And I seriously doubt that they will run anything tomorrow.

No bias there.

The N&O's editors often say, "We cover local news more than national news."

So why is it that Texas congressman Tom Delay's overseas trips are front page news in the N&O while news of similiar overseas trips by its own congressman gets buried in the B section?

I hope Scott e-mails the N&O's public editor, Ted Vaden, and asks about the N&O's reporting on the congressmen's trips.

How about it, Scott?

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Raleigh News and Observer Watch - 6/29/05

On June 26 the N&O editorialized concerning North Carolina's high school dropout rate. Here are the first two paragraphs:

North Carolina education officials reported to the federal government that the state's graduation rate for 2002-2003 was 97 percent, the best in the nation. How nice for us.

In reality, the actual graduation rate was a far more modest and worrisome 64 percent. What North Carolina really had was not the nation's best graduation rate but the highest discrepancy between what was reported and what was factual.

No doubt North Carolina's claimed 97 percent graduation rate is inflated.

But how did the N&O determine the state's "actual graduation rate was ...64 percent?"

With students moving in and out of state and country, and some graduating in 3 years while others graduate in 5 or more years, and no national tracking system, how was "old reliable" N&O determine the state's "actual graduation rate?" The editor didn't say.

And how did the N&O determine that among states reporting, North Carolina had "the highest discrepancy between what was reported and what was factual?"

The N&O didn't cite a source for that claim. Readers were left to wonder.

Further into the editorial there was a reference to an education advocacy group, The Education Trust, which "more accurately estimates graduation rates." For North Carolina, it estimates a rate of 64 percent.

Could The Education Trust's estimate of a 64 percent rate have been cited by the N&O as the state's "actual" rate?

If the state's 97 percent claim is inflated and state's "actual" graduation rate is unknown, then what should we make of the N&O's claim that North Carolina had "the highest discrepancy between what was reported and what was factual?"

I'm going to send this post to N&O editorial page editor Steve Ford, and invite him to respond.

I'll also send it to some educators, and invite their responses.

The N&O ended its editorial with this:

The truth, no matter how grim, is what is needed to solve problems. Feel-good fantasies do no one any good.

I know we all agree with that.

Now, let's see what happens. I'll keep you posted.

New York Times op-ed makes false claims

(Reader Note: On July 6, 2005, the New York Times' acknowledged that one of its editors had inserted false information into an op-ed that ran that day in some editions.

My post below also deals with false information in another Times' op-ed.

For clarity's sake, I'll refer to the op-eds by their author's last names: Carter, the op-ed about which the Times has made an acknowledgment; and Truscott, the op-ed about which it has yet to acknowledge and correct the false information it contained.)

Lucian K. Truscott IV is a novelist, screenwriter and West Point grad (’69) who resigned his commission at the time of the Vietnam War.

In a June 28 New York Times op-ed, The Not-So-Long Gray Line, Truscott argues the Army is about to have trouble retaining recent West Point grads for the same reason it had trouble retaining them at the time of Vietnam: The Army lies.

Here's how Truscott puts it:

“The mistake the Army made then is the same mistake it is making now: how can you educate a group of handpicked students at one of the best universities in the world and then treat them as if they are too stupid to know when they have been told a lie?”

He ends with this sentence:

But if you peddle cleverly manipulated talking points to people who trust you not to lie, you won't merely lose them, you'll break their hearts.

With one exception, Truscott seeks to sustain his charge with a mix of impressions and incidents that can't be checked because no names are used.

The exception comes near the end of his op-ed.

There was a time when the Army did not have a problem retaining young leaders - men like Dwight Eisenhower, George Patton, George Marshall, Omar Bradley and my grandfather, Lucian K. Truscott Jr. Having endured the horrors of World War I trenches, these men did not run headlong out of the Army in the 1920's and 30's when nobody wanted to think of the military, much less pay for it. They had made a pact with each other and with their country, and all sides were going to keep it."

Truscott’s claims that the five future generals “endured the horrors of World War I trenches” and “made a pact with each other” are false, something he, as a West Point grad and grandson of one of the officers who was a friend of the other four, surely knows.

Eisenhower, Bradley and Lucian K. Truscott Jr., one of World War II's great corps commanders, never went overseas during World War I.

Eisenhower's lack of combat experience is well-known. Historians who have discussed it include Steve Ambrose in Eisenhower.

Bradley and Truscott’s services during World War I are described in many sources including an Army publication, U. S.Army World War II Corps Commanders: A Composite Biography, which states: "To their dismay… Truscott served in Texas and Arizona along the Mexican border, while Bradley trained troops in Washington state."

Marshall served overseas as a staff officer with the American Expeditionary Force, but did not fight in the trenches. Forest Pogue’s George C. Marshall: Education of a General is an excellent reference.

Patton was the only one of the five to see World War I combat, but it was almost entirely as a tank officer, not in the trenches. Carlo D'Este's Patton: A Genius for War details Patton's World War I service including his being wounded and earning the Distinguished Service Cross.

As for the five having "made a pact with each other," I know of no historian who has ever made that claim. The three generals whose careers I know best - Eisenhower, Patton, and Marshall - were certainly never part of such a pact, formal or informal.

I'm surprised Truscott would make false claims, especially when he's accusing the Army of lying.

And why did the New York Times publish claims that a summer intern with a decent knowledge of U. S. History would immediately question; and then with an hour or so of Internet searching prove false?

I plan to e-mail this post to the Times' public editor, and invite him to respond here.

I'll keep you informed.

UPDATE July 7, 2005: When I wrote the above post on June 29, I obviously didn't consider the possibility that a New York Times' editor would insert false information into an op-ed, as happened with the Carter op-ed.

Now that I know a Times' editor can do such a thing, I acknowledge that the statements in Truscott's op-ed, while still false, may not have been his.

The Times' has a responsibility to tell the public whether the false statements in Truscott's op-ed are his or someone else's.

And if someone else's, whose?

And why were they made?

Since sending my initial post with a request for response to NYT public editor Byron Calame, I've heard nothing from him or the Times' other than a formal acknowledgment.

I'm sending this post with note added to Calame with another request that the Times' respond, now not only to the false information in the Truscott op-ed but to the questions of who put it there, and why.

I'll keep you posted

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Anti-military media bias. Copy and save.

A June 28, 2005 Washington Times editorial begins:

When will the network media and other "mainstream" outlets finally stop pretending to be balanced?

The editorial continues:

Last week, for instance, the Big Three -- ABC, NBC and CBS -- had a wonderful time covering White House adviser Karl Rove's remarks at a conservative gathering in New York. As the Media Research Center reported, the day after Mr. Rove gave his talk, ABC's World News Tonight was on the story. CBS and NBC, both on their respective morning and evening shows, joined in a day later.

However, the same three networks didn't bother to mention Sen. Dick Durbin's Senate floor comments from June 14. It wasn't until Mr. Durbin apologized June 21 -- seven days later -- for equating American soldiers to Nazis and other barbaric regimes that ABC's and NBC's evening news programs first aired the original comments. CBS didn't do so until Friday, and then only on its morning program.

Major newspapers weren't much better. While The Washington Post gave front-page coverage to Mr. Rove's comments the day after he said them, it took three days to give an inside story to Mr. Durbin's. The New York Times, USA Today and the Los Angeles Times performed even worse.

The suppression of Mr. Durbin's remarks might come as a surprise since lately the media has been all too eager to publish every outlandish criticism of the American military. But the exception also proves the rule: His indefensible comparison strengthens the critics' point that the left's anti-military bias has reached absurd levels. To publish it would only undermine the media's contention that its own anti-militarism is balanced and refined.

You can read the entire editorial here. It's a copy and save for the next time a well-meaning friend asks, "What anti-military bias?"

Let's end this post by attempting to answer the editorial's question: "When will the network media and other "mainstream" outlets finally stop pretending to be balanced?

My best guess is about the same time the National Council of ChurchesUSA and the National Education Association hold a joint news conference to announce they've been preaching and teaching leftist ideology for decades.

What's yours?

I thought Bill and Hillary. Can you blame me?

I'm scanning and spot a post: The Lincoln Bedroom. Ah, Bill and Hillary; they charged $75 thousand per night, didn't they?

They did but I was wrong about the post. I'll explain.

Who forgets that when then President and Mrs. Clinton occupied the White House, they "rented" the Lincoln bedroom at a $75 thousand per night rate to campaign contributors.

That came to mind when I first saw The Lincoln Bedroom post at

Reading on, I learned the post concerned a critical symposium The Claremont Review of Books recently sponsored on C.A. Tripp's, The Intimate World of Abraham Lincoln, which claims Lincoln was homosexual.

I should have read more than the post's title before jumping to the Bill and Hillary conclusion. But can you blame me?

Powerline's Lincoln Bedroom Post is here.

The Claremont symposium is linked here.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Traveling today. No blogging 'til Tuesday.

No blogging today but tomorrow I'll post on an error-plagued Raleigh N&O editorial concerning the high school dropout rate in North Carolina.

Also, I'll post concerning some questionable statements the N&O's public editor made about Iraq and Afghanistan war reporting.

Another post will look back at some of the issues raised in prior years be UNC-CH's summer reading program for incoming freshmen.

And there'll be more if I've recovered from travel by then.

Have a nice day.


Sunday, June 26, 2005

William F. (Bill) Buckley: A Greatest American

Many bloggers recently put together lists of Greatest Americans. Some listed only a few names, others 20 or 25. John Hawkins at Right Wing News put together a list of 100.

Elvis, John Wayne, Davy Crockett, Sam Houston and Steve Jobs all made at least one Greatest list. But William F. (Bill) Buckley didn't.

Bill Buckley’s contributions to America span more than half a century. In 1950, he wrote God and Man at Yale which warned of the growing substitution of ideology for scholarship on university campuses.

Five years later, Buckley founded National Review at a time when, as former NR staffer Chris Weinkopf said, “the world considered conservative intellectuals a genetic impossibility. Just nine years later, NR would prove instrumental in Barry Goldwater's rise to the GOP nomination for president. In 1980, Goldwater protégé Ronald Reagan won the White House, and made National Review mandatory reading for his entire staff."

President Reagan often said it wouldn't have been possible for him to become President without Bill Buckley and NR.

Except for far-right extremists who still resent Buckley's attacks on the conspiracy-driven John Birch Society, is there a conservative or libertarian group active today that doesn't acknowledge a debt to Bill Buckley? Young Americans for Freedom was literally founded in his home. The important research and policy proposals of The Heritage Foundation and American Enterprise Institute are part of Buckley’s legacy. The list can go on.

With words, ideas, and actions, Buckley has unapologetically championed the American creed, often at times when few others were doing so. Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby recently wrote an appreciation of Buckley which included this:

I was a 17-year-old college sophomore when I discovered National Review. A quarter-century later, I no longer recall where I came across my first issue, or what was on its cover. What I do recall, vividly, is the thrill of encountering words and arguments that gave shape and coherence to my own inchoate political beliefs. The importance of individual freedom, the dangers of a too-powerful government, the blessings of a free market, the imperative of fighting communism, the indispensability of faith -- these were themes I encountered again and again in the pages of NR. And, in those pre-Reagan days, almost nowhere else.

Bill Buckley: A Greatest American

I hope visitors will comment on some of Buckley's many other contributions which I've neglected because of time and other tasks.

I previously posted on Buckley's humor. It's here. Others added wonderful comments.

John Hawkins post with his list of 100 Greatest is here.

Below are links to other bloggers who posted lists.

Betsy's Page
Bookworm Room
Conservative Response
Don Singleton
Iowa Voice
Isaac Schrodinger
Res et Rationes
The Daily Blitz
Villainous Company