Vietnam at Half Volume

Mark Steyn paints John Kerry as the poster boy for Vietnam Syndrome.

Thanks to Kerry in his Hanoi Jane period, Vietnam was a disaster for America that gave the establishment a wholly irrational fear of almost every ramshackle Third World basket case on the planet. Look at what everyone from Arthur Schlesinger to Chris Matthews wrote about the ”unconquerable” Afghans only two years ago. That defeatism was the Kerry legacy from the ’70s: a terrified, Kerrified America.

True enough. John Kerry isn’t exactly Mr. Tough or Mr. Backbone.

But Steyn doesn’t seem to notice the good news farther up in his own column.

Look at Kerry’s stump speech: ”We band of brothers,” he says, indicating his fellow veterans. ”We’re a little older, we’re a little grayer, but we still know how to fight for this country.” Thirty years ago, he came back from Vietnam and denounced his ”band of brothers” as a gang of drug-fueled torturers, rapists and murderers.

He then proceeds to zing Kerry for his inconsistency. But let’s give Kerry some credit. Give the Democrats some credit. At least our soldiers aren’t still being libeled as baby killers, at least not by the establishment of the Democratic Party. (The goons in International ANSWER are another matter. They haven’t even caught up with the 60s. They’re still stuck in 1917.)

I believed (mistakenly, as it turns out) that the Vietnam Syndrome was buried in Bosnia. My own lukewarm pacifism did die in Sarajevo, but I was never scarred by Vietnam in the first place. I was a small child when Nixon pulled out, and I have no personal memory of it.

I’m glad to see that with Howard Dean’s primary loss, the worst of the anti-war paranoia will take a back seat in the election campaign. Kerry’s incoherent waffling on foreign policy is a problem for the Democrats, and it will be a problem if he’s elected. But even at his most extreme he doesn’t wistfully (at least not in public) recall his days with Hanoi Jane. He boasts about his service.

It was not so long ago that the Democrats had to play down the front-runner’s combat experience. It was unthinkable for them to tout their guy as a war hero. Even if it’s all image and no substance, it’s progress of a sort.

UPDATE: Turns out Kerry’s 1971 testimony before Congress has been spun out of context. Kerry didn’t quite say what Mark Steyn says he said. The New Republic has the details. (Thanks to Grant McEntire in the comments.)

Weekend Time Waster

This rocks. 80s video games. You don’t even need to download them. Just play them in your Web browser.

UPDATE: Here’s more. Including Missile Command, Defender, Centipede, and Joust.

Happy Valentine’s Day…

…From Saudi Arabia.

RIYADH (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia’s religious authorities have ordered Muslims to shun the “pagan” holiday of Valentine’s Day so as not to incur God’s wrath, the local al-Riyadh newspaper said Friday.

“It is a pagan Christian holiday and Muslims who believe in God and Judgment Day should not celebrate or acknowledge it or congratulate (people on it). It is a duty to shun it to avoid God’s anger and punishment,” said an edict issued by Saudi Arabia’s fatwa committee published in the Arabic-language daily.

“There are only two holidays in Islam — Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha — and any other holidays, whether to celebrate an individual, group or event, are inventions which Muslims are banned from,” said the committee, headed by Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdulaziz bin Abdullah al-Sheikh.

According to these clowns, God hates love, sex, romance, pagans, Christians, and holidays. At least they left the Jews out of it for once. But that was probably just an oversight.

No Sleaze, Please (Updated)

Andrew Sullivan is plenty peeved about the Kerry story.

If the Republicans are behind this, they deserve to be trashed. This is absolutely not something that deserves to be a factor in our current debate.

Same goes for any Democratic campaign that might be behind this.

I certainly don’t want to go back to the lurid and hysterical anti-Clinton days. I think that’s true for a lot of people. So-called Clinton-fatigue was caused as much by Kenneth Starr as it was by Bill and Hill.

This is the first election since September 11. We have some grown-up problems to take care of, problems much of the rest of the world pretends don’t even exist. Save the sleaze and the ass-clowning for Jerry Springer.

UPDATE: Several people in the comments point out that no one in the GOP is likely behind this story. The timing is off. It would make more sense to wait until Kerry is the nominee before “leaking”this story into the press.

That’s a good point. That won’t, however, exonerate the right if they decide to run with this and make a big stink out of a tabloid story during war time.

Free advice to Republicans: Drop it.

UPDATE: Can I direct my free advice to a wider audience? The media ought to drop this, too. They are unserious enough as it is.

Required Reading

I’m sick of the John Kerry scandal. Fox News hasn’t even broken the story yet, and I already wish they’d move on. (I know that’s not fair. I just felt like writing that sentence.)

Anyhoo, if you’re in the mood for something serious, here is your required reading for Friday. Remembrance of Future Past by Cara Remal.

Here We Go

Drudge reports that the Kerry campaign is about to implode. It’s another intern scandal.

Kerry isn’t my favorite person. He certainly isn’t my first choice for president.

But, you know? I just don’t care about his sex life. I really don’t. We aren’t electing the pope or the chief marriage counselor.

If Kerry were my guy, this scandal – if it’s even legit in the first place – wouldn’t change that. As it is, I don’t particularly care for him, but I don’t think much worse of him as a candidate. (At least not yet.)

That sound you hear in the corner? Howard Dean is licking his chops.

Some Beauties in The Big O

I often complain that the opinion page in the Portland Oregonian is boring. There aren’t enough opinions in there. Wouldn’t want to offend the readers. They might disagree with something they read, the poor dears.

Man, were there some doozies this month, though. Law Professor Jack Bogdanski saved ‘em.

None of the Above

Matt Welch is bummed about the lameness of this year’s election. Wesley Clark is “miserable,” John Kerry is “as inspiring as a bag of kelp.”

So I’ll pull the lever for either Dean or Edwards on March 2, if either are still around, and I might just vote for one of ‘em if they stand aside. Too bad that this exciting political season lasted about three weeks.

His pal Ken Layne won’t write about politics on his blog anymore, so we have to read Welch’s comments box if we want to know what he thinks:

I also find Kerry stiff & creepy & an advertisement for everything wrong with spending your adult life trying to win higher office and / or fame. But your interest in Dean (an absolute clown who seems to stand for whatever he’s told by some geeks on the MeetUp, and just as willing to toss all that for Al Gore and whatever lobbyist advisors) and Clark (possibly the weakest candidate — and most worthless human being — to run for this office since Dan Quayle) is utterly weird.

Then again, you proudly voted for Nader, which apparently taught you absolutely nothing.

Well, I proudly voted for Nader too. (Though I won’t do it again, Ken. I promise!) One thing I liked about the guy was that he backed a “None of the Above” option on future election ballots. If “None of the Above” wins, we pitch the losers over the side and hold a brand new election with different people.

This time, like last time, I want none of the above. I want a new election. Dump every candidate (except maybe for Edwards) and start over. Dump Bush, too.

Wishful thinking, I know. Kinda like voting for Nader…

UPDATE: Ilyka Damen is with me on this. She calls do-overs.

Did You Eat Paste in Fourth Grade?

Here is John Kerry in the year of my birth (1970):

I’m an internationalist…I’d like to see our troops dispersed through the world only at the directive of the United Nations.

George W. Bush missed some Air National Guard drills when I was three.

How much, exactly, does this stuff matter?

Jane Galt answers with a question:

What would you think of a job interviewer who wanted to discuss how many times you ate paste in the fourth grade?

Political Football

Roger L. Simon writes about the inanities of partisan politics.

If you do it, it sucks! If we do it, it rules!

Statistically Speaking

Arnold Kling has forgotten more about statistics than I’ll ever know. He teaches the subject in school.

In his latest Tech Central Station column he applies statistical analysis to both the infamous Florida recount and regime-change in Iraq. I’m not even sure what this has to do with statistics in the first place, which shows you how much I know about it. But still this discussion is pretty interesting. Here’s a novel way (to me) of looking at the problem:

In the case of Iraq, the unknown quantity is whether, if left alone, Saddam Hussein’s regime would have eventually killed Americans or blackmailed our leaders with weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Ultimately, that is the unknown parameter about which we are concerned.

Next, let us describe Type I and Type II errors. A Type I error would be to back down from confronting Iraq and subsequently suffer a WMD attack. A type II error would be to invade Iraq when in fact we would not have been hit with WMD even if we left the regime alone.

The consequences of a Type I error — an attack on Americans using WMD — would go beyond even the death and destruction that would be involved. The response, in terms of military action and domestic security, would be very costly, both in terms of lives and in terms of compromises to our freedom and privacy.

The consequences of a Type II error would include loss of lives during the war and its aftermath. Also, we are left with a significant responsibility in helping Iraqis rebuild their state. By the same token, one could argue that a Type II error has benefits, such as ending the mass murders committed by the Hussein regime and giving Iraqis an opportunity to establish a better government.

We will never know the unknown parameter — what the Hussein regime would have done vis-a-vis weapons of mass destruction had we not invaded. However, the failure to find weapons stockpiles increases the probability that we committed a Type II error and reduces the probability that by backing down we would have committed a Type I error.

The short version, of course, is that it’s better to overestimate danger than underestimate it . Underestimation can lead to another 9-11 or worse. At least overestimation can lead to a net positive — the removal of a filthy regime.


Oliver Kamm is back from vacation, and he’s hitting Al Gore pretty hard.

Al Gore confirmed his unfitness for public office with a speech whose standards of tawdriness and mendacity will remain unsurpassed till the stars burn out and the heavens implode…

I’m ashamed to admit it, but I had hoped for a Gore victory in 2000 (especially given his running mate), as indeed I have hoped for a Democrat victory in every Presidential election I can recall. (That goes back to the feckless Jimmy Carter in 1976 — I never said my preferences were correct.) Moreover, if you can credit this, I supported Gore primarily on grounds of foreign policy. I expected a Bush administration to have a view of national security so circumscribed that it would fail to see the strategic as well as moral necessity of maintaining Nato’s presence in the Balkans, and perhaps even seek to end the unstable system of containment of Saddam Hussein by cutting a deal with the tyrant (“no blood for oil”, so to speak)…

“Betrayed this country”, indeed — whereupon the former Vice-President adopts the nomenclature of Ann Coulter and Michael Moore in accusing his political opponents not merely of holding mistaken opinions but of practising treachery.

Read the rest. He’s right on target as usual.

Missing the Point

From the AP:

A letter seized from an al-Qaida courier shows Osama bin Laden has made little headway in recruiting Iraqis for a holy war against America, raising questions about the Bush administration’s contention that Iraq is the central front in the war on terror.

Actually, no, it doesn’t raise such questions. At least it shouldn’t.

Iraq is critical for strategic reasons. The Middle East will continue cranking out terrorists until its political slum has been renovated. We are not going to be safe as long as the Middle Eastern status quo is tyrannical. Slum-clearance had to start somewhere, and no dictator in that region had as pernicious an influence as Saddam Hussein.

The Al Qaeda letter does, however, cast a wee bit of doubt on the idea that invading Iraq would only inspire more terrorists. Chalk that one up to the latest overwrought doom-mongering. Remember that Baghdad was supposed to be the next Stalingrad. The Brutal Afghan Winter and the Empire Destroying Taliban Warrior fantasies didn’t amount to much either.

Meeting Dr. Frank

Instapundit Glenn Reynolds has been dubbed an Internet rock star. But Sunday night Shelly and I got to meet a real Internet rock star, punk-rockin’ Mr. T Experience front-man Dr. Frank, also known for his eclectic sometimes-political blog named What’s-It.

I started reading Dr. Frank’s ruminations on all things political and international long before I created this blog. He doesn’t know it, but he helped inspire me to start up my own. Here was a guy with a site named The Blogs of War (before he later changed it to What’s-It) who wasn’t exactly what Tim Blair would call a Right Wing Death Beast. Here was a blog for the sensitive warmonger, as he himself described it. He’s wasn’t Rush Limbaugh or even Andrew Sullivan. More like a “Daily Show Democrat” or a “Reno 911 Independent” as he now puts it. And yet he had a war blog. So somehow, I can’t quite explain why, it gave me a sort of permission to start up my own.

Some of my co-workers at my day job know Dr. Frank first and foremost as the cool punk rocker dude from the Bay Area who used to tour with Green Day. Like the rest of us, Dr. Frank has mellowed with age. The new MTX album Yesterday Rules softens up some of the punk rock edginess with some pleasant, even soothing, sometimes funny acoustic pieces. London starts out quiet, almost folksy as Dr. Frank delivers “You have to hate the world / It’s required by your clothes” with deadpan earnestness. The crunchier songs are fun, too. “Let’s keep the freaking out to a minimum” he sings on Sorry For Freaking Out on the Phone Last Night.

Dr. Frank’s most famous piece of blogosphere music is probably the Internet hit Democracy Whiskey Sexy, inspired by the famous liberated Iraqi’s quote about what America means to him. You can download the song for free and if you like it, hey, why not, order his Eight Little Songs CD, every one of which, like his blog for the “sensitive warmonger,” is mellow and cool.

So anyway, after reading and listening to Dr. Frank for over a year, Shelly and I finally got to meet him. His band blew through Portland on the second day of their tour and we met up for beer before the show and stole his attention from the groupies who tagged along.

There were a few, shall we say, problems figuring out where the concert was supposed to be. I couldn’t find the place and, oddly enough, neither could the band. Dr. Frank and I played tag on our cell phones trying to help each other figure out where the dang venue was located. That’s not how it’s supposed to go down. It was like something out of Spinal Tap, but hey, it wasn’t his fault. (Nor was it mine. I only live here.)

Frank doesn’t act like the rock star he is. (Just how, exactly, is a rock star supposed to act? — Ed. Heck, I don’t know. But he’s cooler than I’ll ever be, and if he knows it he doesn’t show it.) We talked music, politics, Internet dating, San Francisco, and blogs. He’s a great guy, a smart writer, and a fantastic musician. If you don’t know him already, you’re missing out.

Thanks, Frank, for the beer and for coming to Portland.

Dr. Frank’s What’s-It.

Reviewing the Democrats

Christopher Hitchens in Slate on party-mindedness:

I know many people who are much more intelligent than George Bush (even if they do keep saying so themselves) and whom I have heard, over the past decades, talk with perfect seriousness about the prospect of electing Gary Hart, Michael Dukakis, Bill Bradley, or Tom Harkin as president of the United States. Do such smart people really wish that Michael Dukakis had been president when Saddam invaded Kuwait, or when Mikhail Gorbachev began to signal from Moscow? Of course they don’t, or not really, but they always think it must be better by axiom to have a Democrat (or “any Democrat” as they often put it) in office. Are they then in favor of permanent one-party rule? Of course not! They are for a healthy bipartisan system, where their candidate always wins.

He then reviews each of the Democratic candidates. He thinks Kucinich beats a lot of them (and he does have a point), and that Edwards beats them all.


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