Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Lelie or Gardner

I've got a trade opportunity here before the season gets going and with Marcus Robinson out/demoted and Keenan McCardell still holding out, I need a third receiver to go with Chad Johnson and Jerry Porter. I can probably get one of these two along with Thomas Jones, or possibly both. I'm leaning towards both, but I'm not sure which to prefer if I can only nab one.

Any suggestions?

Mailvox: this is typical

MJ writes:

Hindsite is wonderful, aint it? Fact is Japan attacked America, end of story.

Let's skip over the fact that this implies we should intern every Arab and Muslim American on the same basis. What irritates me most is the idea that the admirals and generals who won the war were also complete idiots who could not possibly have known the distance between Japan and California, would not have thought of getting their hands on the 1941 edition of JANES FIGHTING SHIPS, had no idea what Japan's industrial capacity was, and that any discussion of simple and easily demonstrable facts such as these is simply hindsight and should therefore be dismissed.

The military strategists of the time knew more then than we know now. Furthermore, they were almost surely quite a bit more intelligent than most of those who are today impugning them and their ability to analyze the probabilities.

Once you move into the realm of "could potentially etc" you have left reason and probability behind. The Phillipines could release a nanotech weapon with the potential to destroy the USA tomorrow, but I don't think that justifies locking up Michelle Malkin today. She could have ties to the Phillipines-based Muslim terrorist group Abu Sayyaf, but I don't think that justifies relocating her either. It is troubling that Ms Malkin and her reason-challenged fans don't agree.

Can Vox

-----Original Message-----
From: Mark A. McLemore []
Sent: Tuesday, September 07, 2004 2:00 AM
Subject: We've had it with Vox

It isn't so much that we disagree with Vox Day, it's just that we are getting tired of his Mensa, I'm-so-much-smarter-than-you, ad hominem, Bob Dole whatevers that he tries to pass off as reasoned debate. His rebuke of the Michelle Malkin internment thesis was a perfect example. Look, Roosevelt was afraid that what is happening now in Baghdad could have happened in Long Beach or Seattle, bombings, sabatoge, spying . . . If you examine America's two biggest wars, the Civil War and WWII, both of our wartime presidents made civil rights decisions that are severely questioned in hindsight by Mensa Armchair Quarterbacks. Now, 140 and 60 years later, Vox is wiser than Lincoln, Roosevelt, and Malkin combined. Wow. I'm voting for Malkin. And some of us score pretty well on that test too, Vox Populi.

Could you can Vox, please? He is insufferable and not all that informative or interesting. He reminds me of Bill O'Reilly. And what's with the haircut?

I wonder who is this "we" of whom Mr. McLemore speaks? And it's interesting that "they" would send this to WND and Michelle Malkin, but not to me. This reminds me, one thing I learned pretty early in life is to never listen to a man who uses "we" in the place of "I" when he wants something.

And how does a long - tediously long, according to most of you - recitation and analysis of logistics, production statistics and expert military opinion both amount to an ad hominem Bob Dole whatever and fail to be informative? Uninteresting? Okay, sure, I'll grant him that, but then, I write columns on dead Russian novelists too.

Republicans 6, Democrats 2

This is the aforementioned column I had originally written for yesterday. As it will not be timely next week, not to mention that nearly every other columnist has addressed the subject I prefer to post it here and write something else for next week.

I believe I have sufficiently established my lack of regard for either mainstream candidate over the last two weeks, but it occurred to me that as the two major factions have gone to such trouble to put on these shows for us, those who actually care which side wins this fall might be interested in knowing how the conventions looked to one whose indifference to the November winner borders on Olympian.

STYLE: REPUBLICANS. Although the Democrats didn't pull a “hey, we're the gay party,” salmon-and-teal theme like the last time they nominated a Massachusetts arch-liberal, the 9/11 vibe for which they were striving simply didn't work. Parties that don't believe in God should stay far away, very far away, from anything that smacks of the memorial service and the afterlife. In New York, the Republicans looked as if they meant it.

THEME: REPUBLICANS. Democrats United should be the minimum level of competence for a major faction; it's not an actual electoral theme that holds appeal for the independent voter. Four More Years is boring, but tried and true and strangely fun to chant if you've downed six hurricanes before noon. (Yes, I've been to a Republican National Convention, and I could write the story that Stephen Glass faked. But I won't.)

SPIRIT: REPUBLICANS. Having attended a convention that preceded a resounding victory, there's a certain triumphal spirit that is readily identifiable. It's as if the smell of victory is in the air. The Republicans had it this time around, the Democrats didn't.

2008: DEMOCRATS. The Lizard Queen was her evil, formidable self, and John Edwards is still handsome. In contrast to this, the best Republican was Mr. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who isn't eligible to run for the office. John McCain is barely a Republican and will never win the nomination no matter how much his friends in the media want him to, and a New York moderate, (otherwise known as a liberal to flyover country), like Giuliani is equally improbable. It's odd that the Republicans didn't do more to lay the groundwork for a potential Bush successor.

TRAITORS: REPUBLICANS. The Democrat's favorite turncoat, John McCain, spurned his thirty pieces of silver. He stuck by his party with all the spirit of a robot, but he did it. Zell Miller, on the other hand, sounded ready to re-up with the Marines and dust some [insert politically incorrect term here] simply for the honor of serving under George [insert Oedipal adjective here] Bush!!!!

VICE-PRESIDENT: DEMOCRATS. Dick Cheney, despite all his flaws, is a terribly boring speaker. John Edwards has nothing meaningful to say, but he says it well and he looks good doing it. Sadly, that's more than enough to win over 35 percent of the population.

PRESIDENT: REPUBLICANS. I very much appreciated that John Kerry wrote his own speech. A presidential candidate should be able to speak for himself. That being said, Kerry is rather like John Edwards in that he has nothing intelligent to say, only he doesn't say it well. And looking like Lurch on Canthaxanthin doesn't exactly help, either.

President Bush, on the other hand, delivered what was essentially a Clintonesque State of the Union laundry list, then reminded all those conservatives less than thrilled with his governance that they should support him because – all together now – there's a war on! But he did make the case for himself and didn't blunder by painting a massive target on his chest as Kerry did with his “reporting for duty”.

MEDIA: REPUBLICANS. The mainstream media's left-wing tilt is quite useful, once you know how to read it. If, after a Democrat's speech, an ABCNNBCBS commentator is not pretending to moan in ecstacy with one hand down his pants, you know it went over like Michelle Malkin at a reunion of Tule Lake internees. If, on the other hand, a cabal pundit is getting all bitchy and bitter after a Republican brings down the house, you know the speaker was all out of gum.

Let's face it, when the mainstream cabal's most damning critique is that the President's daughters are, like, so ditsy, they've got nothing. And the fact that Fox News scored more convention viewers than any member of the cabal suggests Republicans are fired up to vote this year.

Add it all up, and I see no reason to modify my earlier statement that John Kerry will get beaten like a Vice City hooker this November.

Mailvox: Bombing Palookaville

Palooka pokes his head up:

You are full of bluster, and low on reason. Every one of your supposed keen insights is only formed from historical hindsight. This, again, does not tell us if they made the "right" decision then, it only tells us what looks like the right decision NOW. Yes, we now know that America had a decisive advantage in industrial capacity, an advantage known then as well, but the planners in World War 2 did not know for certain what was in store for the Pacific coast of the US. Full invasion seemed unlikely, though distantly possible nevertheless. Industrial and military sabotage were very real possibilities, despite your baseless protestations to the contrary.

Which of the facts I've cited are hindsight, Palooka? The distance between Japanese naval bases and the West Coast? The number of ships in the Japanese Navy? The IJN's ocean transport capability? The delta in productive capability? You and I probably know less now than the war planners knew then. You have completely misunderstood the implication of the production statistics, which serve to demonstrate that even if Japanese raiders and saboteurs had been far, far more successful than is conceivable, it would not have slowed, much less crippled the war effort, as Malkin weirdly insists. They were very real possibilities; they were also irrelevant and therefore fail to justify the internment case.

Malkin's work is probably full of holes, but what you and Eric Muller have offered is nothing but petty quibling here and there. Get to the subtance of her critique. The relative strengths of Japan's army and navy means little in that debate. If the Japanese population posed a threat or an impedience to victory, then the logic stands.

Petty quibbling? My entire case consists of the assertion that the Japanese population posed zero threat to impeding or even slowing victory. To declare that the relative strength of the US and Japanese forces and industrial capacities have little relevance to that case defies logic.

I also think you blow the internment reality out of proportion. The sad thing is it was unnecessary, not that it happened. Many non Japanese were interned for little reason and I don't see you comparing their plight to summary executions.

Clearly you understand Malkin's case no better than you understand mine. Her entire defense of internment is that it was necessary. I have demonstrated that it was not, as you apparently accept.

Like America posed no threat to Japan and Germany in 1941? All of you seem to taken the conclusion of World War to for granted. I don't.

Considering that Winston Churchill took the conclusion for granted as early as December 1941 - see his History of the Second World War - and as every modern military officer to whom I have spoken agrees that the end result was not only inevitable but known by their predecessors to have been inevitable, I'm very comfortable with the company I'm in. The only serious question was how the post-war situation would sort itself out vis-a-vis the Soviet Union. Had the Brits and Americans been able to mount Overlord in early 1943, as originally planned, Eastern Europe might not have fallen behind the Iron Curtain. But that is truly hindsight, as the timing of the German retreat would have been very difficult to predict, even if the conclusion became inevitable once it was clear that the Germans had failed to capture Stalin or destroy the Soviets' production facilities in 1941.

In every war, there is a turning point where the end is in sight. Sometimes, that point can only be seen in hindsight. In other cases, the inevitable is obvious from the start. WWII was not an inevitable Allied victory. Had Germany been true to its treaty with the Soviet Union, England might well have eventually fallen. But once the alliances were established, USA, USSR and the UK vs Nazi Germany and Japan, the end was clearly in sight.

I realize that this can't possibly convince everyone, as there are even those who seriously believe that Islamic militants could defeat the USA, ignoring the fact that the entire Islamic world have not been able to defeat Israel despite six decades of trying. As with all great historical powers, America will eventually fall due to internal decay; the growing strength of its central government being a terminal cancer confused with muscle by the fatally unwise.

Monday, September 06, 2004

Not exactly unbiased, but still

Another Malkin critic, Eric Muller, judges that Ms Malkin has painted herself into a corner:

With this morning's concession that the concern along the West Coast was Japanese spot raids and not a Japanese assault, she blows up the case for distinguishing between the Japanese threat to the West Coast and the German threat to the East Coast. And along with it, she blows up her claim that military necessity caused the government to take action against American citizens of Japanese ancestry on the West Coast while imposing no restrictions of any sort on American citizens of German ancestry on the East Coast (except insofar as they were dependents of German enemy aliens).

Well, he does skate over the fact that Ms Malkin pointed out that the Germans were harmless because they didn't have any aircraft carriers, whereas the Japanese had a few free to pester the West Coast. Because, of course, 9 aircraft carriers that managed to sink 6 ships between them on the West Coast are no doubt a much, much greater danger than the 1,170 U-boats that sank 327 ships off the East Coast.

Does she realize that her argument is completely hopeless? Perhaps someone else can explain this to her, because I don't think I can make it any easier for her.

Crying would work better

Unfortunately, Ms Malkin is proving to be a masochist, so we'll have to go ahead with the spankings. The spankings, the spankings! Va bene. She writes:

Mr. Vox has got his facts wrong. There is no question that in early 1942 our military leaders believed the risk of a Japanese attack on the West Coast was substantial. Henry Stimson, President Roosevelt's Secretary of War, stated in his autobiography that hit-and-run raids on the West Coast were "not only possible, but probable in the first months of the war, and it was quite impossible to be sure that the raiders would not receive important help from individuals of Japanese origin." That is enough to knock down Mr. Vox's argument, but if you are still not convinced, click below.

No, it isn't enough to knock it down. It isn't even close. She is either slow or disingenuous, and I'm beginning to suspect the former. First, notice how she's already retreated from her earlier justifications of "invasion" and the potential "crippling" of the war effort. Now it's spot raids. Remember, this debate is not over whether the Japanese could fire a torpedo at someone's yacht at the San Francisco Bay Club, but over whether the Executive Order overriding the Constitution and depriving 112,000 people of their rights was justified by military necessity.

She's also relying on the post-facto CYA opinion of a civilian appointee - how many troops do we need in Iraq, Mr. Rumsfeld? No need for armor, Mr. Cohen? - and blowing off that of a former member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff who arguably knows more about amphibious invasions past and present than any man alive. Could the Japanese annoy us? Sure. Was the nation's survival at stake? Never. Keep in mind that even at Pearl Harbor, the Japanese sunk only 6 out of 88 ships.

As I noted in my book and in an earlier blog entry, the concern among our military leaders about a Japanese attack on the West Coast was palpable even after Executive Order 9066 was signed in February 1942: After the daring Halsey-Doolittle raid in Tokyo in April, “[e]ight Japanese carriers had returned from their operations around southeastern Asia and the Japanese could release at least three of the eight for a retaliatory attack on the west coast without jeopardizing successes already achieved,” Army historian Stetson Conn recounted. Secretary of War Stimson “called in General Marshall and had a few earnest words with him about the danger of a Jap attack on the West Cst.” Stimson confessed that he was “very much impressed with the danger that the Japanese, having terribly lost face by this recent attack on them … , will make a counterattack on us with carriers.” General DeWitt’s superiors warned him to be on guard against a carrier attack at any time after May 10 and was informed that two more antiaircraft regiments were being sent to bolster the Los Angeles and San Francisco defenses.

Three whole carriers - that means depending on the carriers, they had between 91 and 255 planes, many of which were fighters, at their disposal. Not exactly the Battle of Britain. Malkin knows so little about military history that she doesn't even realize that the Halsey-Doolittle raid was solely for psychological effect. It did zero damage to the Japanese war effort, and any retaliatory raid would have been for the same reasons and achieved the same miniscule effect. Two whole AA regiments? I wonder if Malkin knows that's next to nothing. Somehow, I doubt it.

Preceding the pivotal Battle of Midway, which the U.S. was alerted to thanks to another extraordinary communications intelligence operation that partially cracked JN-25, the Japanese navy’s operational code, the West Coast again prepared for the worst. Gen. Marshall informed General DeWitt that a Japanese attack with a chemical weapon might be expected; in mid-May, 350,000 gas masks (the entire available supply), protective clothing, and decontamination supplies were hastily shipped to the west coast. MID concurred with the Navy that a strong Japanese attack on American territory was in the offing before the end of the month, but it forecast that the “first priority” target of the attack would be “hit and run raids on West Coast cities of the continental United States supported by heavy naval forces.” Army intelligence held that such action was entirely within Japanese capabilities, considering the weakness of American naval power, and urged the concentration on the Pacific coast of all available continental air power to meet the threat.

If "hit and run raids" were "the worst" and the "first priority", then why does Malkin mention invasions and crippled war efforts? Again, she demonstrates her ignorance of military matters is nearly complete. The whole point of these efforts was about not letting the public become any more alarmed than they already were, which Malkin apparently is too blind to see.

The perception among our military leaders of risks to the West Coast in early 1942 is so well documented that I am surprised one of my critics would choose this line of attack. Did Mr. Vox even bother to read my book before slamming it? There was no analogous concern, by the way, about a major German or Italian attack on the East Coast. Neither Germany nor Italy had any aircraft carriers, whereas Japan's surface fleet was the best in the world. I will agree with Mr. Vox about one thing. The risk of a full-blown invasion of the U.S. mainland was low. This was known at the time. As I made clear in my book, the principal concern was spot raids on the West Coast (such as the one that occurred at Pearl Harbor), not a major invasion.

I'll bet she was surprised, considering that she does not appear to have given the matter a moment's thought, preferring to rely instead on bureaucratic self-justifications. The best surface fleet in the world? Better than the Royal Navy, which was not only more than twice as large but had more of the aircraft carriers with which Ms Malkin is so obsessed. Low risk? Try nonexistent. While there was an awareness of the minor risk of petty raids among the military leaders, there were absolutely no concerns with regards to invasion or serious, much less "crippling", damages to the war effort.

Furthermore, not only is she sidestepping the production issues that I've raised, she's admitting that the ENTIRE PREMISE OF HER BOOK IS ABSURD! Does she truly believe that spot raids which could not possibly have slowed the war effort justify locking up over a hundred thousand people? If that's true, then I suppose 9/11 and the threat of suitcase nukes justifies the preemptive execution of Arab-Americans. And 327 ships sunk off the East Coast are to be ignored, since carrier-launched aircraft weren't used, but 6 sunk on the West Coast are cause for throwing out the Constitution? Not just pathetic, but bizarre stuff.

Since Ms Malkin clearly likes to try to play referee as well and declare herself the winner, she might benefit from hearing a more neutral opinion at


One of the most deeply disturbing things about Ms Malkin's perpetration of a revisionist fraud is the way in which so many TV and radio hosts were unable to penetrate the fog of her flimsy case to see that it was based on an absurdity. Ms Malkin has inadvertantly done the nation a good service in revealing the astonishing level of military, historical and even geographical ignorance on the part of the national and local media.

I didn't bother writing about Malkin's book at first because it was so obviously ridiculous that I assumed the first person to ask her questions about it would explode her case like one of Terry Pratchett's swamp dragons. But I realized that people were actually taking her case seriously when I appeared on the Northern Alliance Radio Show - yo Midwest - a week before her and one of the guys halfheartedly defended her case for invasion vis-a-vis Overlord because of the length of the California coast. (The problem is that the French coast is 2.4 times longer than the entire American West Coast, and all of it is a LOT closer.)

The Matthews-Malkin episode on Hardball was bizarre, because had Matthews not been so rude and focused on unfairly attacking her over something she didn't say, he could have politely destroyed her over what she did write. But when you're busy carrying water for John Kerry, I suppose it's hard to pay attention to other, lesser matters.

I have nothing against Michelle Malkin, except for the fact that she has no freaking clue what she's talking about. Well, I also regard her defense of internment as treason against the human race, and her claims of innocence in answer to charges of advocating the internment of Arab-Americans to be more than a little disingenuous. (Yes, I know she said she wasn't advocating it, but then what's the point of the book? And the cover? Sometimes, Virginia, people say things that aren't true.)

So, on to the Internet sources which you can access yourself. Imperial Japanese Navy. Yamamoto's invasion OOB. US naval production. Anzio. Anzio map that gives a pretty clear picture of the situation. Anzio ships. Overlord logistics - very useful. On the air umbrella issue. WWII armaments production. The economic data is compiled from a variety of sources and calculated independently.

If you'd like to check out a very different attack on Malkin's case for internment, Eric Muller was the first to start picking it apart.

As for the mini-interview with the former member of the Joint Chiefs that concluded the column, well, I happen to know a few of them. And naturally, I rang up my favorite one, just as the Vox Popolisti assumed.

UPDATE: As there appear to be some recalcitrant "hindsight" theorists who don't appear to be able to either reason their way out of a paper bag or bother to look at the links provided here, this should help spell things out. "In April [1942], the British accepted an American plan for a buildup of U.S. forces in the United Kingdom in preparation for a future return to the Continent. This plan, Operation BOLERO, included construction of airfields from which to launch the bombing offensive, a small contingent of ground troops, and a force of 750,000 to participate in a cross-Channel attack in early 1943. SOS, ETOUSA would participate in the BOLERO planning process and be the U.S. agent to carry out the plans for the reception and accommodation of U.S. forces. By early May, detailed planning was underway."

So, the hindsight theory rests on the incredible notion that in the time between February 19, 142 and sometime prior to April 1942, US military strategists discovered the concept of logistics and found that 750,000 men would be required for a continental invasion. It also relies on the false premise that US planners did not know Japan's transport capability, as a glance at the 1941 edition of Janes Fighting Ships should suffice to disprove. Ms Malkin can even buy a copy of the 1942 edition here for £30.

Mailvox: the plan for Pacific invasion

RM writes:

What would be interesting to review would be the various results of the war games played by the Naval War College in the 1920’s and 30’s which were used to develop Plan Orange (the contingency plans for war with Japan). Were the Naval planners of the that period projecting that the Japanese could invade the west coast of the USA?

As it turns out, there was a plan that concerned an invasion of the US West Coast by a foreign power - but by Great Britain in War Plan Red. War Plan Orange did not anticipate an invasion by Japan.

The U.S. military really did develop a "Joint Army and Navy Basic War Plan--Red" in the 1920s and '30s, and it really did include provisions for an invasion of Canada by the United States.

The document was declassified in 1974, so this isn't really a new story, but there has been some hoopla about it lately. Concerns in some quarters notwithstanding, the whole thing was just a theoretical exercise in military planning. The brass would have made better use of their resources planning for a war with Germany, but that wasn't politically expedient. They reasoned that planning for unlikely wars was better than no planning at all. War Plan Red was never intended to be put into action except in the event of a war with the United Kingdom, an eventuality that everyone would agree was highly unlikely after about 1900.

In the color codes used at that time, "Red" referred not to Canada (that was "Crimson"), but to the United Kingdom. The proposed invasion of Canada wasn't an end in itself; it was just the easiest way to hurt the U.K. The plan called for quickly seizing the key port of Halifax to prevent British resupply; cutting communication between eastern and western Canada by capturing Winnipeg; securing bridgeheads near Buffalo, Detroit, and Sault Ste. Marie; and attacking Quebec overland from New England. If everything went according to plan, the U.S. military hoped to take the Great Lakes region and St. Lawrence valley before moving on the prairies and British Columbia. Later when U.S. naval forces were built up, they might be able to take Bermuda and Britain's Caribbean possessions on the road toward victory.

But there would be a price to pay for any such war. Planners essentially wrote off the Philippines, Guam, and Samoa if the British tried to take them early in the war. Planners also anticipated a possible invasion of the U.S. Pacific coast by an allied force from Britain, Australia, and New Zealand.

Now, given that War Plan Orange did not anticipate an invasion of the West Coast by Japan, why would War Plan Red have anticipated one by the Commonwealth? The answer, as always, comes down to logistics. The Royal Navy had the ships to deliver a large force to US shores while the Japanese did not. You'll note that both Orange and Red anticipated the loss of the Philippines; its actual fall could have come as no surprise. As I mentioned previously, the decision to defend the Philippines was primarily political and the Navy wisely opposed it from the start.

Needless to say, this should demonstrate the vast divergence that often exists between what the public believes and what the planners know. A good lesson for our times.

Sunday, September 05, 2004

An open letter to Michelle Malkin

Dear Ms Malkin,

As you may or may not be aware, WorldNetDaily today published a column of mine which I believe conclusively proves that there was never any military necessity for Executive Order 9066 on the grounds of invasion, raids or sabotage, intelligence memos notwithstanding. The purpose of this email is to respectfully request from you a column publicly admitting that there was not, in fact, any military necessity for the internment and that your conclusions in “In Defense of Internment” were mistaken.

The likelihood of a Japanese invasion was never taken seriously by the military strategists of the time, as the logistics required for the 1944 Anzio and Overlord invasions should make very clear to you. As for the sabotage argument, that too is ludicrous, as the following figures indisputably demonstrate.

Shipping Tonnage Produced, 1942 to 1945


Because you appear to be unfamiliar with both military history and logistics, I note that the bulk of the shipping production for every belligerent power was not warships, but merchant shipping, 72.92 percent to be precise. And considering your interesting opinion that aircraft carriers are the only basis upon which threats to the two American coasts should be assessed, please be advised that Japan was only able to build nine carriers over the course of the war, some of which were never launched, while the US launched 120, many of which were surplus to requirements.

Aircraft produced, 1942 to 1945


I note here that even if every West Coast aircraft production facility had been destroyed in 1942 by “attack, invasion, spot raids, sabotage, and surveillance”, the USA would have still had essentially the same advantage over Japan that year that it did in 1945, when the war was all but over, 403 percent compared to 414 percent.

In the event that you find yourself inclined to argue that a significant percentage of American production was required for the European war in 1942, I recommend that you first examine the production statistics for Great Britain, the Soviet Union and Germany, then read Winston Churchill's excellent six-volume History of the Second World War. You will find that the Allied leaders were well aware of the implications of their significant advantage in industrial capacity even before America's entry into the war.

As I hope you are now able to understand, even if Japan's military leaders had been so foolish as to risk the entire Imperial Japanese Navy on what would have necessarily been a suicide mission for the 42,000 troops that represented the IJN's maximum transport capacity in 1942, no amount of fifth column activity, including spying, raiding and sabotage, could have significantly affected the American war effort, let alone crippled it.

If you find yourself unable to understand or accept the overwhelming evidence against your assertion of the military necessity for internment, I strongly recommend that you speak to an admiral or Marine general well-versed in amphibious assaults and WWII-era military history.

Vox Day
Universal Press Syndicate

The Secret Diaries

Imagine, if you can, that The Lord of the Rings were written by Helen Fielding, and Ms Fielding was a very, very gay man.

Went all the way to the Gap of Rohan only to find there is no Gap in Rohan. Not even a Banana Republic. False advertising! - Arwen Undomiel

Everything going from bad to worse. Stop-off in Bree resulted in pick-up of disaffected and unshaven human who is obviously pervy hobbit-fancier, not that anyone listens to me. Insisted we all share bed in his room instead of going back to own perfectly nice quarters, then hung about all night most likely hoping for mad hobbit foursome under the sheets. Didn't happen, but did have to spend all night hanging on to Pippin's belt to prevent him from climbing right over Sam and onto Frodo. Does Pippin have death wish, or what? - Meriadoc Brandybuck

Have crossed orcs with goblin men in caverns below Isengard. V. tedious experience as orcs and goblin men most reluctant to breed, even with dinner and flowers. Next time will try something easier, such as breeding goblins and cheerleaders to create super-perky army that can travel by day and will not complain about pink uniforms. - Saruman

Deion's back

I rather like that Deion has returned to the NFL. He has nothing to prove, having earned his Super Bowl rings and established himself as one of the greatest cornerbacks of all time. But seeing the picture of him standing and laughing with Ray Lewis makes me think that this is a guy who doesn't really care if he's a nickel back or a starter, doesn't really care if he earns a dime this year, that more than anything it's just a case of a guy who loves the game and the camaraderie and wants to experience it one more time before he has to hang it up for good.

Or maybe I'm projecting. I spend most of my soccer days coaching now, but I can't tell you how good it feels when I get a call from one of my friends, telling me that there's a game in two weeks and they could use a wing who can get up and down the right side. I treasure every moment when I'm on that field, because I know there won't be many more times that I'll be playing at that level.

Deion's comeback isn't like the ill-fated returns of Michael Jordan (the last one) or Magic Johnson. It isn't like the ugly, embarrassing refusals to gracefully step aside when the moment is right, as was the case with Johnny Unitas and Emmitt Smith. Deion is a unique talent, but for all his theatrics, he's always been a team player on the field, willing to subordinate his massive ego for the good of the team. I think it's interesting that despite how many people loathed from the start, I've never heard any of his teammates say a bad word about him.

Okay, perhaps Andre Rison, but then, when has Andre Rison had a good word to say about anyone?

The decline of the empire

When George Bush spoke of dark ideologies, thoughts of Microsoft crept insensibly to mind. What's interesting is that the evil empire appears to be permitting its dominance to erode. Consider the following statistics from one webmaster's site, where it looks as if the most of the migration from IE5 is going to Mozilla and Opera.

Even more interesting, perhaps, is the 25 percent growth in Linux usage in the past year. Sure, at 3 percent it's still trivial, but that's already surpassed Apple's 2.5 percent. Once it passes 5 percent and begins to command the attention of the mainstream and the software developers, we could see some more serious migration towards it. Let's hope so, anyhow.

Thank you, Vox, may I have another

As all but the most determinedly foolish have given up trying to argue invasion or a crippled war effort, we've finally reached the semantical view of hindsight defense. This is really an attempt to surrender while hanging onto some shred of self-regard at the price of dignity, and so I mock it accordingly. Since someone was hung up on the production curves as opposed to the wartime totals, I'll simply provide the details for 1942.

Ship production 1942
USA: 6,252,300 tons
JAP: 514,100 tons

This means that even if the IJN chose to risk its entire Navy and been successful in destroying fifty percent of the production facilities on the West Coast, they would have only decreased the Japanese production disadvantage from 12.2 to 1 to 10.1 to one. Furthermore, the US more than doubled its ship production to 15,153,000 in 1943, further increasing its advantage to 15.2 to 1. But what about aircraft?

Aircraft production 1942
USA: 47,800 planes
JAP: 8,900 planes

Oh, but even if our ships weren't needed in the Atlantic since the Kriegsmarine built almost no surface vessels after 1940, most of our planes were desperately needed over there, right? Again, no.

Aircraft production 1942
GBR: 23,600
SOV: 26,000
GER: 14,200

None of this should be any surprise to anyone who understands the first thing about GDP and industrial capacity. The advantages in population and GDP per capita were such that a reasonable modern analogy would be the USA and Argentina. The fact that the obvious implications of these advantages may be beyond you does not mean that it is appropriate to assume that they were beyond the President and his military advisors.

1938 Population and GDP per capita:
USA: 130 million, 6,154
JAP: 77 million, 2,195

I note, finally, that still no one has a) explained how this theoretical invasion might have taken place, b) explained how any amount of sabotage or production facility destruction would have slowed, much less crippled, the war effort, c) cited evidence that the Japanese had any plans, even contingency plans, for attacking the US mainland. I do not wish to hear any more bizarre and hazy arguments based on dead novelists and 1970s sci-fi television shows; if you have something specific and relevant, then please post it for consideration. Otherwise, please keep it to yourself. You have been warned.

Saturday, September 04, 2004

Better than in Russia, one hopes

From Debka:

Two security-related incidents Saturday temporarily shut several Los Angeles international airport terminals and prevented planes taking off. Roads to and from airport blocked. No details given out. Rumor of small bomb that exploded in a terminal and injured 7 passengers not officially confirmed.

Remember, a similar diversionary tactic was employed to help the two Chechen terrorists board the two Russian planes that were bombed. I wouldn't be surprised if we learn that there was a plan to go after some airliners at LAX, although if there was an attempt and it was stopped, we may never hear another word about this incident.

Debka also had some interesting, if somber analysis about the fragmentation of al-Qaeda, and how this may lead to a more dangerous situation.

In “Al Qaeda Today, Centralized Strategic Decisions, Decentralized Operations”, examination of the terrorist network’s operational deployment revealed that its supreme leadership was losing direct control over target selection or the modalities of attacks decided by local branches, beyond general directives. The brutal school siege in Beslan, North Osettia, this week, was on example of a regional operation run by semi-autonomous regional or local affiliates over which the overall leadership has little control.

The school siege was masterminded by the Saudi wing of al Qaeda in Chechnya. Al Qaeda cells based in Iran are prone to manipulation by Tehran for political and military ends that are foreign to the movement’s objectives. Al Qaeda is also found in league with Iran and the Lebanese Hizballah in attempting to grab footholds in South Lebanon and Gaza Strip....

The first cracks are marring the once rock-smooth relations of unity and obedience binding the fundamentalist terror network’s various operational branches to the directives handed down by the top leaders.

This fragmentation of al Qaeda into ungovernable entities allied with outside forces, embedded in civilian populations and targeting other civilians, seriously hampers the efforts of counter-terror force to catch – let alone prevail over - all its widely-diffused fighting elements – certainly not by conventional military means.

Isn't it interesting, how individuals from those two strategic centers I mentioned in the column on Clausewitz two months ago keep popping up. Iran and Saudi Arabia. Another lesson from the Russian school horror that the West should have learned from the seventies terror strikes is that capturing and holding terrorists is always a mistake. Many of the most brutal attacks are made in order to free previously captured terrorists.

Anticipating arguments

As silence begins to fall upon the delusional invasion argument, the production/sabotage case raises its feeble head. This is even easier to dismiss. I'll hold quite a bit of ammo in reserve, but here's some food for thought. The numbers of tanks produced by each country:

USA 88,410
SOV 71,000
GBR 24,800

GER 22,800
JAP 3,500
ITA 3,300

Total Axis production was 16 percent of Allied production. Japanese production was 3.9 percent of US production. You may wish to keep these numbers in mind before deciding to bend over and shout "thank you, Vox, may I have another!"

155 dead kids

I don't have an answer. I can't even think about this; it sickens my soul. I doubt, however, that the answers will be found in Chechnya, Iraq, or elsewhere along the Islamic periphery. Considering that the Russians have already killed 10 percent of the Chechen population, it seems unlikely that killing another 10 percent is going to help. The ultimate solution to the jihad, I suspect, will be found in immigration controls and transit laws, not military action.

The greatest next-generation columnist

It isn't me. It certainly isn't one of the bookend charlatans. I speak, of course, of the incredible Bill Simmons, the Sports Guy, whose fantasy football drafts I am not worthy to critique. His knowledge is unsurpassed, his skillz are legion, but the talent of which I am the most envious - aside from his pure gift for comedy which I wouldn't know what to do with anyhow - is his ability to casually but viciously slash someone to pieces in passing, without mentioning them by name but leaving you no doubt to whom he is referring. Witness the master at work, as he lists 84 reasons that 1984 was the greatest sports season in ESPN's 25 years.

33. Eddie Murphy's last season on "SNL." For my money, the most important "SNL" performer ever -- Eddie saved the show and made the most money afterwards. If you disagree, you're a racist and you hate blacks. End of story. (Sorry, this is the new way to argue points at Page 2. I'm just following instructions.)

Che magnifico! I am moved almost to tears.

The wisest man alive

Fred offers solutions:

Education: Get big cement trucks, fill them with linoleum cement mixed with potassium cyanide and maybe thumb tacks. Dump this salutary porridge into the faculty lounges of the teachers colleges, being sure that the scoundrels are still inside. Put up signs all around saying “Mutant Radioactive Cholera Site. Go Away.”

Catch all the employees of the Department of Education and paint “Deer” on them in red letters, and then tell suburban deer hunters that it’s open season. They won’t know the difference. Put a bounty on certified teachers. Personally I would not want the varmints stuffed over my fireplace, but we could make cat food from them.

Then—I know this is extreme, and people will say I’m heartless, and low down, and shameful as a truss ad--hire smart teachers. Demand work from the kids. Yes, it’s radical. The cries of the little monsters would tug at my heartstrings. Do it anyway. I’ll just suffer....

We won’t do these admirable things because (1) we don’t really care about education, (2) the education lobbies have influence in Washington, but voters don’t, and (3) minorities in a real schools system would fall even more obviously to the bottom. Disguising their shortcomings trumps teaching. Anyway, we probably don’t have enough linoleum cement.

Wars: Require that Congress declare war before we have one. Bring back the draft, exclusively for the fetid princelings of the Ivy Leagues. Give them to Marine Corps for training and, oh yes, please, let me watch. (Actually you could sell tickets to veterans to finance the program.) Strap their mothers onto the skids of deployable helicopters for two years each and feed them intravenously if need be. The ruling classes will see the uses of restraint.

I would like to publicly recant my own education program of tearing down the public schools, sowing the grounds with salt and shipping every NEA member off to Cuba, and announce my support for Fred's program. On second thought, I don't see why we can't combine the two in one super-duper federal program called "Leave No Educator Unscathed".

I rather like his military program as well.

Friday, September 03, 2004

I will say no more than this

Next week's column isn't on internment; I already turned it in. But I just got off the phone with an extraordinarily grand high poohbah who knows more about military necessity and national security in the fingernail of his pinkie than you, me, Michelle Malkin and all the milbloggers combined. No guessing, please, I'm not name-dropping here.

Let's just say aliens living on Pluto are going to be picking up tiny little shards of Ms Malkin's case and wondering what they are.

Off-base on Chechnya

At least I was with regards to this latest tragedy. From Debka:

Twenty hostage-takers killed, 10 of them Arabs – al Qaeda terrorists, some Saudis. About 13 escaped. At least one group attacked by soldiers in town.

I am still of the opinion that the Chechen people, like every other people, deserve to be free, and that more than 150 years of Russian/Soviet/Russian imperialism played a major role in allowing radical Islamic terrorists to establish a stronghold there. But the Debka report tends to suggest that what had once been primarily an irredentist movement has been hijacked by the global jihad.

So, I have to conclude that Bill was right on this one.

Democrats all but conceding

If Frank Rich says it's a dogfight, it's over:

As we leave the scripted conventions behind us, that is the uber-scenario that has locked into place, brilliantly engineered by the president of the United States, with more than a little unwitting assistance from his opponent.

I am a little confused, though. How does a drooling dummy brilliantly engineer anything?

Glue and dog food

Greg Robinson kicks the dead horse in the head:

It's from June 25, 1942, and reflects a conversation that King had with Roosevelt in Washington during a meeting of the Pacific War Council.... According to King, Roosevelt "said he thought the Japanese were foolish in thinking we would be much affected by these attacks they were making on the Pacific Coast. That it was not likely to alarm the people unduly but rather to strengthen their feeling of resistance. It was clear that he, himself, did not contemplate much in the way of an attack on our Pacific Coast but felt that the possession of the bases at Kiska [in the Aleutian chain] and elsewhere were to help to meet the situation that might develop between Japan and Russia."

Some of you seem to wonder why I'm so bloody-minded about the internment case. First, it's related to an area of childhood interest, so I knew that the notion was off-base from the start. Also, I despise the advocacy of big government, like PJ O'Rourke I see it as treason to the human race. But to see this sort of evil governance celebrated and justified by one who is supposed to be a leading new conservative voice is particularly disgusting.

There's also the sheer disbelief that anyone could take this nonsense seriously for more than five seconds. I don't begrudge anyone a successful book, as I know how difficult the process is, but this sort of thing is worse than the Lizard Queen's fiction. When I first heard about the Malkin book on Powerline, I had to read the post twice before I actually registered what position she was taking. It's almost as ridiculous as Eric Alterman's thesis that the media is right-wing because it is corporate-owned. The two of them are the bookend charlatans of the next-generation commentariat.

A theological question

Is it considered less than perfectly kind to harbor maleficient wishes towards an individual one has never met and does not know? It's not that I want anything bad to happen to Marshall Faulk - even though he missed half the season for me last year, the wretch - but I wouldn't mind seeing him pull his Ricky Williams and go on tour with Lenny Kravitz or something.

That would complete a very nice backfield of Ahman Green, Duce Staley, TJ Duckett and, ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Stephen Jackson.

The funniest thing is how Chokechain, last year's unexpected champ, now features an All-Fragile starting backfield of Faulk and Fred Taylor. They should be good for what, six games between them? His entire bench is now made up of running backs. Good times... oh, yeah, it's coming!


Eric Muller guest-blogs at the Volokh Conspiracy:


According to Vox Day, any military historian worth his or her salt could tell you that the top military brass back in early 1942 knew that a full-blown Japanese assault on the U.S. mainland was inconceivable--and that their reliance on that rationale for evicting Japanese Americans from the West Coast was therefore bogus.

I'm no military historian, so I can't really venture an opinion on whether or not Day is right about the forces and logistics that would have been necessary for a mainland assault. Perhaps others more expert than I might wish to respond.

I await with interest any arguments for the practicality of a credible large-scale amphibious invasion requiring a traverse of 5,500 miles. Please spell out the requisite logistics as well as the number of troops needed to put the continued survival of the United States at stake, and how many ships would be required to transport and supply them.

UPDATE: I should add that as Admiral Yamamoto utilized almost the entire IJN in the failed attempt on Midway, we can determine with reasonable precision how many Japanese troops could have invaded the West Coast. I draw your attention to the transports, 3 of which landed troops on the Aleutian Islands, the other 12 being reserved for Midway.

Vice-Admiral Hosogawa's Northern Area invasion fleet landed about 3,000 troops on Attu and 5,183 on Kiska. As Admiral Yamamoto had four times the transports in the main fleet, the maximum number of troops that could possibly have landed on the US West Coast - and remember, the pro-internment case relies heavily on the fact that Midway took place AFTER the internments had begun - was 41,000. That might sound like a lot, until one notes that the Allies landed over 100,000 troops in the failed Anzio invasion, (which does not include 14,000 troops that were brought in as reinforcements). Those 114,000 troops, despite continuous supplies brought in daily, supplies that a hypothetical Japanese invasion one-third the size would not have had, never managed to break out of the small beachhead in which they were trapped for four months.

And Anzio is miniscule compared to Overlord, which landed 156,000 troops on the first day alone plus another 850,000 men, 148,000 vehicles, and 570,000 tons of supplies in the next three weeks.

The survival of the United States was never at stake. Malkin has no case whatsoever. If she has any intellectual honesty, she will admit that she was mistaken and disavow her despicable conclusion that the internments were justified on the basis of national security.

Halfheartedly defending the defenseless

Clayton Cramer, one of the gentlemen who did excellent work uncovering the Michael Bellesiles fraud - well done, Mr. Cramer, I did not know that - reluctantly offers a meager defense for Me So Michelle:

Over at Vox Popoli, there is a strong argument that there was no reason for the U.S. to be afraid of a Japanese invasion, hence no need to worry about Japanese-Americans.

All very good in hindsight. After a number of years of assuming that the Japanese were too nearsighted to fly airplanes, and holding their military in considerable contempt, the United States was scared witless by the success of Japanese operations against the British and the Dutch. The success of Japanese troops bicycling in from the north to take "impregnable" Singapore, for example, was a real shocker. From "how can they fight white people" to "They are rolling all over Asia" may have caused an overreaction.

I have never said that there weren't real, if misguided, fears on the part of the populace or on the part of ignorant bureaucrats more concerned with looking as if they were doing something to calm those fears than they were with strategic realities. But perception is not reality, and this only demonstrates how important it is to prevent the people or the government from using fear as a basis for trading freedom for "security". Not all unlikely events are created equal. Circling around Singapore and hitting it from the north is hardly the equivalent of figuring out how to resupply your beachhead when your entire navy has to travel 11,000 miles round-trip. Again, this is not hindsight, this is pointing out the facts known at the time. And in any event, Malkin is still insisting that the danger was real, not that those fears were misguided.

The U.S. built air bases on the east side of the Sierras to fight off Japanese forces. If this was strictly a matter of naval battles, why build them hundreds of miles from the coast? It would take more than an hour for fighter planes to get out over the water. It seems pretty clear to me that our government, perhaps overcautiously, believed that it was going to be fighting Japanese troops on the ground in California, Oregon, and Washington.

Why build them there? I imagine that Congressmen hoping for massive Federal expenditures in their district during difficult economic times might have had something to do with that. More to the point, where were the coastal defenses, the cleared beaches, the machine gun emplacements, our own Pacific Wall? As I have repeatedly stated, it's NOT a question of naval battles. Even if the landings had been permitted to go relatively unscathed, as at Anzio, any Japanese landing force was absolutely doomed. Again, the six-nation Anzio landings were almost twice the size that the IJN could have mustered using every ship at its disposal, the Allies were able to keep 3,920 tons supplies flowing directly to the front lines from Napoli on a daily basis,the British Eighth Army and the other half of the US Fifth Army were only fifty miles away on the other side of the Gustav Line, they were fighting in what was essentially neutral ground, and it was all they could do to keep from being wiped out. As it turned out, all the 6th Corps were able to do was hold their little beachhead until the Gustav line fell and the German Fourtheenth Army was forced to retreat.

I don't really buy Malkin's argument completely, and I don't agree that the circumstances justified this mass arrest. I do think it is important to recognize the fear that Americans were operating under at the time. The fifth column actions of Japanese residents in China were probably known to the American government. It is possible that these similar actions by Japanese residents in the Philipines at the start of the war were known to our government as well. Perhaps a bit more willingness to acknowledge these issues--instead of portraying the internment in simplistic, moralistic terms, as many people have done over the years, myself included--might have prevented Malkin's book.

To me, this half-hearted attempt at a defense - which really strikes me more as Mr. Cramer attempting to be fair than anything else - seems to indicate that Mr. Cramer doesn't buy Malkin's argument at all. Nor should he. It's a long, long way to go from saying that the Japanese just maybe, perhaps, could have come up with a way to pull off the impossible, to stating authoritatively that invasion was imminent, the survival of the nation was seriously at risk and the anti-constitutional internments were therefore justified.

I repeat: Malkin's hypothesis is both absurd and ignorant. I've yet to hear a defense of it on military grounds that holds any water whatsoever. The fact that people with no serious interest in history should know nothing and think less about military logistics is not surprising, but a willingness to ignore such issues once they've been raised would be downright contemptible. Logistics may not be the most exciting aspect of military history, but they definitely are not post-WWII hindsight as they have been the primary factor considered by professional military strategists since Hannibal was fighting Rome.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Bane Rules

It's a toss-up which is better, the title or the punchline. I won't spoil it with a description, just go read it.

The debate somehow continues

As the debate regarding the desirability of locking up those dangerous Japs who also happened to be Americans during WWII continues, I sent the following email to Deacon of Powerline, Eugene Volokh of the Volokh Conspiracy, Clayton Cramer and Eric Muller:

Dear sirs,

I have followed the debate between Ms Malkin and her various critics with some interest. However, it amazes me that the entire debate, bogged down in disputed minutae as it is, still manages to miss the only point that truly matters. Any reasonable perusal of the historical facts will allow even a casual observer to ascertain that there was never any danger of a Japanese invasion of the West Coast, and to see that this had to have been readily known to American military strategists at the time.

Ms Malkin is not a historian. She has, however, a perfect right to make an ass of herself by expressing whatever revisionist view of history that pleases her. But it seems that none of those criticizing her are military historians, because her case is absurd from the start.

In Ms Malkin's mind, the fact that some military bureaucrats and many ignorant civilians were afraid of "an imminent invasion" justifies the abrogation of the Constitution by President Roosevelt's executive order. Therefore, let's examine the facts, as they were known to the strategists of the day:

1. The Japanese Navy consisted of 176 ships.
2. The distance from Japan to the US West Coast is approximately 5,500 miles.
3. The length of the American coastline is 1,359 miles.

Does anyone dispute any of this? Very well. Some more facts.

1. The Overlord invasion required 4,600 ships and air supremacy
2. The distance from England to Normandy is approximately 22 miles.
3. The length of France's Atlantic Coastline is 1,875 miles.
4. Immediate access to the French ports of Caen, Le Havre and Cherbourg for reinforcement and resupply was the critical factor in deciding where the Normandy landings took place. Why? Because without reinforcement and resupply, even a very large landing force was doomed.


1. The Kriegsmarine was slightly smaller than the Imperial Japanese Navy, but its 1,170 U-boats could have carried more troops than Japan's entire fleet, and more secretly.
2. The distance from the occupied French Coast to the American East Coast is only about 3,500 miles.
3. The Germans were significantly more active off the East Coast - sinking 14.7 times more merchant ships than the 27 sunk off the West Coast.

If one considers this easily researched data, one can only conclude that Ms Malkin is an utter ignoramus when it comes to matters military. Basic logic demonstrates that [the] likelihood and danger of a German invasion - however implausible - was far, far greater than a Japanese one. As the failure of the Anzio landing proves - an invasion that utilized almost twice the force that Japan had at its disposal even prior to Midway - it is not realistic to hypothesize that there was ever any credible danger of a Japanese invasion of the West Coast even if one is willing to fantasize that an island nation totally dependent upon seaborne imports for its raw materials would gamble its entire fleet on what would have amounted to a one-time suicide attack.

It is said that the amateur focuses on troops and generals, while the professional analyzes supply lines. Ms Malkin, it seems, does neither.

Furthermore, the fact that some military bureaucrats may have had genuine fears of a Japanese invasion demonstrates nothing but their incompetence and why the Constitutional limitations on government should never be lifted on the basis of hypothetical concerns perpetrated by government officials. This isn't hindsight, this is simply pointing out what was obvious even then.

As for fears of sabotage, the fact is that American industrial capacity so overwhelmed that of the enemy that Japanese saboteurs could have wiped out half the shipyards in California without it seriously affecting the course of the war. The fact that the USA managed to produce 150 carriers during the war, most of which were not needed and never saw action, to Japan's 15, tends to support this.

With best regards,
Vox Day
Universal Press Syndicate

Live by the sword, die by the sword

Clayton Cramer writes on the Russian-Chechen situation:

I do not intend to make excuses for what Amnesty International calls: widespread and credible reports that Russian forces have been responsible for violations of international human rights and humanitarian law, including "disappearances", extrajudicial executions and torture, including rape.

But these actions by the Russian government in no way excuse attacks on non-combatants or taking hostages. Chechnyan terrorism has completely destroyed any sympathy that I had for their cause. If you want to portray yourself as heroic freedom fighters, you attack legitimate targets: combatants or political leaders, not children; you take prisoners, instead of executing them.

It looks to me as though what we are seeing in the Chechnyan terrorism is not victims of Russian abuses responding badly, but an al-Qaeda farm team--a group that does not believe that there are any legitimate restraints on their use of terror.

Mr. Cramer admits that he knows little about the Chechen situation. Perhaps he, and everyone else who is rightfully horrified by the tragic events unfolding in Russia, would be more understanding - though surely not sympathetic - of the Chechen targeting of non-combatants if he realized that the Russians are estimated to have killed approximately 10 percent of the Chechen population over the course of the war. This targeting of non-combatants on the part of the Chechens is not a new terror tactic, it is a response in kind. The fact that so many Chechen women are involved should tell you all you need to know about the source of their motivation.

As I said

Robert Novak writes of the President's little slip:

Actually, most of the 4,853 delegates and alternates to this convention were blissfully unaware of the little drama that played out briefly this week in an otherwise purposely uneventful convention. Even Bush's surrogates hardly mentioned the problem during their regular conference calls. But prominent Republicans, asking that their names not be used, expressed concern about the broader implications of the incident.

One senior senator with a flawless conservative voting record told me: "The troops in the field and their relatives at home must believe that an end is in sight. It would be really disastrous for them to think that there is no chance of winning this war." A prominent conservative governor, a particularly staunch Bush backer, said that the president had "stopped his own momentum" just as it seemed Sen. Kerry was in increasing trouble. The Democratic nominee was reeling, as another independent television ad used 33-year-old footage of Kerry saying he threw away his Vietnam War decorations.

The interruption of Bush's momentum conflicted with the meticulously planned national convention. Sen. John McCain delivered an effective argument for the war in Iraq, and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani explained the war on terror more effectively than the president has ever managed to do. Ironically, in a tightly managed convention, any slipup -- however small -- is magnified out of proportion.

That the mistake was viewed with alarm by the Bush political high command was signified Tuesday when the president was not content to correct himself to the American Legion. He rapidly moved to explain himself to Rush Limbaugh's huge listening audience. When the conservative talk show host promptly asked about the Lauer interview, the president replied: "Well, I appreciate you bringing that up. Listen, I should have made my point more clear about what I meant."

But why on earth didn't he make his point more clearly? In privately confessing that the president made a mistake, his own aides do not go deeper into why he erred. In the Lauer interview, Bush gives the impression that he was not concentrating on one of his final pre-convention interviews, acting as if he really were bored by the process. He obviously meant to say, as he did the next day, that "we may never sit down at a peace table." Instead, he hurried over and blurred the well-rehearsed explanation.

So much for the notion that "he didn't really say that" or "he was referring only to the time frame" etc. It's quite clear that Bush's advisors interpreted his remarks in the same way I did, otherwise he wouldn't have made such an effort to subsequently "correct" them. He certainly may have intended to say something about never sitting down at a peace table, but when one is not guarding one's tongue, it is what one truly believes that tends to slip out. I don't blame the President for this, as I happen to largely agree with what he apparently thinks privately, as opposed to his public rhetoric.

The horrors that Russia finds itself facing are the direct result of its intervention with Chechnya. The Islamic Chechens don't hate Russian freedom and they don't want to conquer Moscow. No one disputes that. Why is it, then, so hard to understand that following the Russian lead has led and is likely to lead to the same sort of tragedy here?

I'm neither a leftist nor a liberal. The root cause of terrorism is not poverty or oppression. But terror is a method with a goal. Islam will not use terror to take over the USA, it will use what it is using in Europe, immigration. Islamic terror is used for a different purpose, the same purpose it is used around the world, to achieve a specific goal. In Russia, it is to drive the Russian occupiers of Chechnya out. In Israel, it is to drive the Jews out. In Kashmir, it is to drive the Indians out. In Egypt, it is to drive the secular government out. In the Philippines and East Timor, it is to drive the Christians out of certain Islamic-dominated islands.

So, what is the most logical conclusion with regards Islamic terror directed against the United States. Do they hate the freedom of the Mubarak government too?

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

The Kings of Nerd

I've been involved in some fairly nerdish endeavors. I mean, I was never an A/V club kid, chess club member or band geek, but when you enjoy intellectual stimulation, you tend to find yourself around the less-beautiful, less hygenically-occupied people from time to time. Which is fine; I'm as at home amid a group of overweight and overripe wargamers as I am in velvet-roped VIP area in a haughty nightclub.

A few weeks ago, I made a comment that I am one of the coolest columnists around, and some of you seemed to think that this was bragging. But you see, I was actually making a rather cutting reference to the occupation, as the following quote from Jay Nordlinger, who apparently is not actually 80 years old, deaf, dumb and blind*, would seem to prove:

That little symbol [Michael] Moore made with his hand, at the convention on Monday night? I read that it was "L" for "loser." I really couldn't figure it out — it reminded me of that symbol that Filipinos made, all those years ago, in support of Cory Aquino.

Okay, the L-sign went mainstream in the chick flick Jerry Maguire, which was filmed around the time John Kerry was throwing away medals that may or may not have belonged to him, if I recall correctly. I've worked with programmers and artists, I've spent years in the game development industry, and I can now state, with some assurance, that in the columnists of America we have found the Kings of Nerd.

*Jay's actually one of my favorites at NRO; his total disinterest in pop culture is quite healthy, in my opinion.

The Republican Convention

Putting both my abhorrence for what the Republican leadership is doing to the nation as well as my general distaste for the horse race aspect aside, /begin mainstream punditry/ I'd have to say that at this point, the Republicans are doing much, much better with their convention than the Democrats did with theirs. I've expected George Bush to win re-election from the start, and I see no reason to alter my view now.

I was at the convention in New Orleans, and as with this convention, there was what Derb describes as a "winning feeling" that was quite palpable. The Republican presentation is slick, powerful, and even occasionally makes me feel somewhat wistful for those bygone days of enthusiastic innocence. If George Bush can keep the program rolling, he should see a significant post-convention bounce. /end mainstream punditry/

Breaking old habits

I've been an old school loyalist to the half-pyramid ever since I started lifting weights. Warmup, 10-8-6-4, that's about all I've done for years except when a shoulder or chest injury has necessitated doing something else.

However, when the Perfect Aryan Male showed up with an additional 20 pounds stacked on from a year ago - he's up to 240 now - I had to give his program a whirl. And I have to admit, the results are impressive. Here's how it goes:

2 sets of 10 at 135 to warmup
2 sets of 6 at 225
2 sets of 3 at 285
2 sets repping out at 225. Shoot for 10, but get at least 8.

The great thing is that you get a little bit of the bodybuilder's pump that you normally get from high rep, low weight workouts, but you get the increased strength of the powerlifter's workout too. When I first started it two weeks ago, I was doing the third pair at 270, but after four workouts I was able to jack that up to 285, something I could barely hit once a month ago. And best of all, it seems to wear less on the joints than a heavy half-pyramid. I haven't been sore since I started it.

Space Bunny has been trying to get me to change up my workouts for ages; I can't say I'm terribly surprised that she's right. Of course, I'll probably stick with this one for the next 15 years anyhow.

Fitness is easy. All you have to do is throw yourself into a rut and refuse to get out of it. I'm not crazy, though. Chilliette is training for the marathon; that's just nuts.

Credit where credit is due

I'm not a huge fan of the Irish Water Poodle, Sean Hannity, but he can be amusingly quick-witted at times. I quite enjoyed this little encounter posted by Powerline:

A few minutes ago, Terry McAuliffe appeared on Sean's show. They went at it pretty hard, arguing about Vietnam and the war on terror. McAuliffe was stumped when Hannity asked him whether Kerry was lying when he said he spent Christmas in Cambodia.

I posted a little footage of McAuliffe's appearance, and of the impromptu press conference he gave immediately after, right in front of us, where he talked about the protests against the RNC. McAuliffe strikes me as an amiable rogue, much like his pal Bill Clinton. As Hannity was going into a commercial break, McAuliffe got in one last cheap shot: "How's your Halliburton stock doing?" To which Sean replied, "Not bad. How's Global Crossing doing?"

Good stuff. As for Mr. Limbaugh, I note that despite his supposedly vociferious opposition to campaign finance reform and the incipient Republican crackdown on free speech, he did not find the time to ask the President about that, although he was able to talk about what an "honor and a thrill" it was to speak with him, and how wonderful it was to hear the President's "ebullience".

Supine enough for you? Sound like Santa to me. I'm not saying that Rush should have nailed him to the wall, but he could certainly worked in a casual: "Mr. President, I've always regarded you as a staunch defender of American freedom. Who in the name of the nethermost nether region advised you to advocate banning what is not only free speech, but free speech by your supporters, and when will you publicly hang, draw and quarter them?"

Sounds like someone gets it

William Safire writes:

On a recent visit to Washington, President Harmid Karzai told me he expected that seven million out of the nine million eligible Afghan voters would register to vote. That seemed a vain hope, since nobody had the habit, and with opium growers and warlords roaming the precincts, voting would be risky.

What happened? So far, 9.9 million Afghans have registered, which is a little embarrassing, but the lust to get more than one registration card is only human to a populace that hid its oppressed womenfolk until the United States and its allies overthrew the Taliban. The Afghans don't take the right to vote for granted, as half of Americans do.

That cracked me up. Of course, the huge registrations don't necessarily mean that Afghans are enthusiastic about what will no doubt soon be their own bi-factional ruling party, as the minor - cough - discrepancy means that one has no idea who has been registering the masses.

US forces have freed two subjugated peoples from two evil regimes. I salute that. But a slave freed from one master is not necessarily a free man. For those who think we have brought freedom to the various Afghani and Iraqi peoples, I ask this simple question: the Kurdish people overwhelmingly favor independence. They are even using their own currency. Will you still believe that our mission is freedom if the Kurdish people are not allowed self-determination?

Hindrocket's defense holds little water

Hindrocket of Powerline, who has done yeoman's work in destroying both the Kerry campaign and the Star and Sickle, isn't quite as effective in defending the President. He quotes the President's comments after the infamous pronoun:

I know if steadfast, strong and resolute — and I say those words very seriously — it's less likely that your kids are going to live under the threat of al-Qaida for a long period of time. I can't tell you. I don't have any … definite end. But I tell you this, when we succeed in Iraq and Afghanistan, it's the beginning of the end for these extremists. Because freedom is going to have a powerful influence to make sure your kids can grow up in a peaceful world. If we believe, for example, that you can't win, and the alternative is to retreat … I think that would be a disaster for your children.

So, the President is not actually saying that the war is unwinnable, only that it can't be won in what will have been a total of seven years - almost twice as long as WWII - and that even success in Iraq and Afghanistan would only be the beginning of the end. So, what, figure at least another seven years? Furthermore, he also has no concept of how the war will or even could end. Given that the Israelis have not managed to end their miniature version of hunt-the-terrorist in 30+ years, this statement offers no indication that the President actually believes his imitation of the Israeli two-step will work either.

Nor should it. The grand fallacy in which the nation-builders are trapped is that a simple exposure to Western culture is enough to instill individuals with it. Culture is the product of centuries, not years, and as long as there are Islamic clerics willing to stand openly opposed to Western culture, there will be jihadists willing to strike. The previous victories against the jihad, in the Reconquista and the Crusades, involved crushing and humiliating Muslims, not winning them over. It is a tribute to the strength and spirit of Muslims that they are not easily swayed or conquered. But history shows that it can be done.

The basic problem is that Islam is not only a religion, it is a trans-national state. It has a law, a judiciary and, quite clearly, an army that Daniel Pipes estimates at 100 million. The idea that the war cannot be won because terrorists can't be found is silly. Wars aren't won by killing enemy soldiers, they are won by taking the strategic centers, and the strategic centers of Islam are not to be found in Iraq. The truth is that George Bush and company want war without commitment so they have settled for quasi-war without end or disruption to the economy. That is why they won't win it.

Our leadership has two legitimate choices. Leave them alone - which also means not allowing them footholds in the West - or a total clash of civilizations. Islam had nothing against the United States for most of its existence; the "they hate our freedom" line is monstrously absurd. They have their eyes on Israel and the Islamic lands lost in Western Europe, not the USA. As long as the President and his men try to split the difference, they will be as unsuccessful as we would have been by trying to defeat Nazi Germany by occupying Schleswig-Holstein. As they are not stupid, they realize it as well, but they also know that it would be political suicide to speak the truth.
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