Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Kerry's Modest Proposal on Iran

John Edwards was quoted in Monday's Washington Post describing how a Kerry Administration would seek to deal with Iran's nuclear program:

A John F. Kerry administration would propose to Iran that the Islamic state be allowed to keep its nuclear power plants in exchange for giving up the right to retain the nuclear fuel that could be used for bomb-making, Democratic vice presidential nominee John Edwards said in an interview yesterday.


Kerry first outlined the idea of providing nuclear fuel to Iran in a speech in June -- a proposal favored by many Europeans -- but Edwards, who twice described the concept as a "bargain," was more explicit in suggesting the Kerry administration would actively try to reach an agreement with the Iranians. "At the end of the day, we have to have some serious negotiating leverage in this discussion with the Iranians," he said, noting that Kerry would press the Europeans to do much more than "taking rewards away" if the Iranians fail to act.

Iran has insisted that it be allowed to produce nuclear fuel, which would give it access to weapons-grade material. Under Kerry's proposal, the Iranian fuel supply would be supervised and provided by other countries.

Lovely, but what if the mullahs say no, or agree and then cheat on the deal?

Edwards said that if Iran failed to take what he called a "great bargain," it would essentially confirm that it is building nuclear weapons under the cover of a supposedly peaceful nuclear power initiative. He said that, if elected, Kerry would ensure that European allies were prepared to join the United States in levying heavy sanctions if Iran rejected the proposal. "If we are engaging with Iranians in an effort to reach this great bargain and if in fact this is a bluff that they are trying to develop nuclear weapons capability, then we know that our European friends will stand with us," Edwards said.

Oooh, "heavy sanctions". That'll frighten the mullahs. BTW, if Kerry and Edwards really believe that they can "ensure" that the Europeans will agree to impose "heavy sanctions" on Iran, I have some prime French oil concessions I'd like to sell them. As the New York Times reported on June 23 of this year:

French exports to Iran have nearly doubled in five years, totaling 2 billion euros ($2.4 billion) in 2003, according to the economic mission of the French embassy in Tehran. And the number of French-connected companies registered with the embassy - some of which are joint ventures and some representative offices - has risen from a handful several years ago to more than 40.

If John Kerry really thinks his charm and sophistication will persuade the French to walk away from that kind of money, then frankly he's even more deluded than I feared. Unfortunately, offering the mullahs nuclear fuel is just the tip of the iceberg as far as the Kerry plan to "confront" the mullahcracy goes. To quote the Post article:

Edwards's notion of proposing such a bargain with Iran, combined with Kerry's statement in December that he was prepared to explore "areas of mutual interest" with Iran, suggests that Kerry would take a sharply different approach with Iran than has President Bush. The United States has not had diplomatic relations with Iran since its 1979 revolution, and Iran was part of Bush's "axis of evil" that included North Korea and the former government of Iraq. Earlier this month, Bush declared that Iran "must abandon her nuclear ambitions."

In short, Kerry and Edwards intend to "engage" the mullahs, as many "experts" like to phrase it. In other words, a Kerry Administration's approach to dealing with an Islamist theocracy that is pursuing nuclear weapons, sponsors terrorism, openly proclaims its hatred for America and Israel, and seeks to undermine our efforts in Iraq, will be to offer the mullahs a deal. What Kerry and Edwards are proposing is a return to pre-9/11 business as usual, the likely result will be appeasement.

As is so often the case with John Kerry's policy proposals, I am left with plenty of questions. What if the mullahs reject Kerry's grand bargain? Or accept it, and then cheat by buying or producing their own nuclear fuel on the sly? After all, why would the mullahs interpret Kerry's desire to negotiate in response to their increasingly confrontational behavior as anything other than weakness? What will a Kerry Administration do when our European "allies" refuse to go along with "heavy sanctions"? What about Israel? Are they meekly going to wait for the Iranian theocracy to bring its nuclear and ballistic missile programs to fruition, so that the mullahcracy can finish what the Nazis started? No, nor should they. Finally, will John Kerry, after all his hypocritical demogogy about Bush "misleading" us into Iraq, really be prepared to threaten the mullahs with military action on the basis of incomplete intelligence and over the objections of "Old Europe"? Or will Kerry take the easy way out, settling for any deal as long as he has a scrap of paper to wave in the air, Neville Chamberlain style, and can pretend that sweeping the Iranian nuclear issue under the rug will make it all go away?

One additional question needs to be asked. Does John Kerry really believe that cutting a deal with a regime that has ruthlessly crushed the desire of the Iranian people to be free to be in our best interests? Will selling out the most pro-American population in the Middle East in the name of realpolitik really make America "stronger" and "more respected in the world"? I don't think so. For all his faults, I know that George W. Bush will do whatever is necessary to deal with the mullahcracy. John Kerry inspires no such confidence.

Thoughts on Flip-Flopping

Probably the most devastating line of attack against John Kerry is that he is a "flip-flopper" who is seemingly incapable of taking clear, principled positions on issues. Rudy Giuliani used this theme to great effect in his terrific speech last night. Kerry defenders haver responded to the "flip-flop" argument by noting that all politicians change their mind about certain issues. A DNC radio spot, for example, accurately points out that George W. Bush initially opposed creating the Department of Homeland Security before he changed his mind and embraced the concept.

The problem with this defense is that Kerry's flip-flops go well beyond simply changing his mind on certain issues. Instead, all too often, Senator Kerry has taken positions that are mind boggling in their "nuance", that try so hard to cover every possible side of an issue that only a word for word parsing can adequately decipher the Senator's meaning, and even then it is still open to interpretation. Other times, Kerry is blatant in his attempt to have things both ways. Several days ago, National Review Online's Corner Blog provided a textbook example of this, as reported by the Miami Herald:

John Kerry had just pumped up a huge crowd in downtown West Palm Beach, promising to make the state a battleground for his quest to oust President Bush, when a local television journalist posed the question that any candidate with Florida ambitions should expect:

What will you do about Cuba?

As the presumptive Democratic nominee, Kerry was ready with the bravado appropriate for a challenger who knows that every answer carries magnified importance in the state that put President Bush into office by just 537 votes.

''I'm pretty tough on Castro, because I think he's running one of the last vestiges of a Stalinist secret police government in the world,'' Kerry told WPLG-ABC 10 reporter Michael Putney in an interview to be aired at 11:30 this morning.

Then, reaching back eight years to one of the more significant efforts to toughen sanctions on the communist island, Kerry volunteered: ``And I voted for the Helms-Burton legislation to be tough on companies that deal with him.''

It seemed the correct answer in a year in which Democratic strategists think they can make a play for at least a portion of the important Cuban-American vote -- as they did in 1996 when more than three in 10 backed President Clinton's reelection after he signed the sanctions measure written by Sen. Jesse Helms and Rep. Dan Burton.

There is only one problem: Kerry voted against it.

Asked Friday to explain the discrepancy, Kerry aides said the senator cast one of the 22 nays that day in 1996 because he disagreed with some of the final technical aspects. But, said spokesman David Wade, Kerry supported the legislation in its purer form -- and voted for it months earlier.

So, Kerry voted for the Helms-Burton Act before he voted against it. Gee, that sure sounds familiar...

Monday, August 30, 2004

Another Iraq Update

If it's Monday, it's time for one of Arthur Chrenkoff's biweekly updates on the underreported good news from Iraq. Go now and read:

Half Full

Refighting Vietnam

I have refrained from comment on the specifics of the John Kerry-Swift Boat Veterans controversy, and this will continue to be the case. I am far more interested in what John Kerry would or would not do as president, than in what he did on the Mekong 35 years ago. However, I do regard Kerry's actions after returning from Vietnam, especially his infamous 1971 Senate testimony, as very much a suitable topic for discussion. Amidst all the self-righteous indignation among many liberals over the Swift Boat Veterans campaign, it is important to remember one vital fact: it was John Kerry who chose to make Vietnam a centerpiece of this campaign.

It is Kerry who has responded to every question regarding his national security credentials by essentially saying "hey man, I was in 'Nam". It is Kerry who has managed to work in a reference to his Vietnam service practically every time he opens his mouth. It was Kerry who decided to make his nominating convention a virtual swift boat ride down memory lane. Finally, it is John Kerry who seemingly decided that his four months in Vietnam so qualifies him to be Commander in Chief that offering a credible alternative vision of how to wage the War on Islamist Terror is unnecessary.

In an August 26 essay for Opinion Journal, Herman Jacobs offered a lengthy and thoughtful analysis of how John Kerry has exploited Vietnam during this campaign:

But now we can't "let it alone." The reason we can't "let it alone" is that John Kerry won't let us "let it alone."

We can't let it alone because Mr. Kerry has pursued a strategy that sounds out old angers with a dissonant message that takes the two prongs of the domestic truce and makes them serve his own advantage. The domestic truce had required that those who served in Vietnam should receive honor. So Mr. Kerry now exalts that half of the truce--not humbly as befits a genuine war hero, but constantly and immodestly waving the bloody shirt of his Vietnam service in the faces of his critics whenever any connection, no matter how illogical, can be drawn between their criticism and Mr. Kerry's Vietnam service.

Thus, when Dick Cheney criticized Mr. Kerry's positions on national security (an obvious and fair target given Mr. Kerry's voting record on defense issues), Mr. Kerry responded by "saying it is 'inappropriate' for Cheney to criticize his military service when he 'got every deferment in the world and decided he had better things to do.' " The man who not long ago high-mindedly observed that it is wrong to "divide America over who served and how," now tells us:

"I think a lot of veterans are going to be very angry at a president who can't account for his own service in the National Guard, and a vice president who got every deferment in the world and decided he had better things to do, criticizing somebody who fought for their country and served."

(quotation marks added -DD)

Never mind that Mr. Cheney has never breathed a word of criticism of Mr. Kerry's military service in Vietnam. Also never mind that Messrs. Bush and Cheney have never even breathed a word of criticism of Mr. Kerry's antiwar activities. For them to criticize Mr. Kerry's antiwar record would violate the second prong of the domestic truce. So in questioning the service, or lack thereof, of Messrs. Bush and Cheney, Mr. Kerry attempts to turn to his advantage the curious fact, mentioned above, that although the domestic truce grants honor to those who fought in the war and grants amnesties to those who actively opposed it, those in the middle (like Messrs. Bush, Cheney, Clinton and Quayle) receive no protection.

So over the top has been Senator Kerry's exploitation of his Vietnam service that even John McCain has asked him to tone down the 'Nam references. Beyond the politics, though, there is something unsettling about Kerry's unceasing desire to discuss his military service. My late father spent a year as an infantryman in the Pacific during WWII, and he rarely mentioned his army experiences. He'd tell the occasional story about army life, but he almost never talked about his time in combat.

In an August 24 column for the New York Post, retired army officer and author Ralph Peters expressed the same sentiment:

Finally — and this is the one the pundits have trouble grasping, given the self-promoting nature of today's culture — real heroes don't call themselves heroes. Honorable soldiers or sailors don't brag. They let their deeds speak for themselves. Some of the most off-putting words any veteran can utter are "I'm a war hero."

Real heroes (and I've been honored to know some) never portray their service in grandiose terms, telling TV cameras that they're reporting for duty. Real heroes may be proud of the sacrifices they offered, but they don't shout for attention.

This is so profoundly a part of the military code of behavior that it cannot be over-emphasized. The rule is that those who brag about being heroes usually aren't heroes at all. Bragging is for drunks at the end of the bar, not for real vets. And certainly not for anyone who wishes to trade on his service to become our commander-in-chief.

Peters has been more than critical of George W. Bush and his administration, especially Donald Rumsfeld. Still, he comes to the following conclusion:

But we're at war. And for all his faults, Bush has proven himself as a great wartime leader. Despite painful mistakes, he's served our security needs remarkably well. And security trumps all else in the age of terror.

Kerry says many of the right things. But I can't believe a word of it. I just can't trust John Kerry. I can't trust him to lead, I can't trust him to fight — and I can't trust him to make the right kind of peace.

I have reservations about voting for George W. Bush. But I have no reservations about voting against John Kerry. And I'm not alone.

Sunday, August 29, 2004

Assessing the Iraq Occupation

The new issue of Foreign Affairs contains a fascinating essay by Larry Diamond, a Hoover Institution specialist and co-editor of the Journal of Democracy, on what he believes were the failings of the April 2003-June 2004 US led occupation of Iraq. Diamond is a noted expert in democracy promotion, and served as a Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) advisor from January-April 2004, so his views are well worth reading:

What Went Wrong in Iraq

In his piece, Diamond rightly stresses the paramount importance of the post-Saddam violence in creating an atmosphere of insecurity and uncertainty. He also emphasizes, less convincingly in my view, the lack of "international legitimacy" for the occupation, as represented by the UN. Diamond also makes some of the standard criticisms of postwar US policy, for example that disbanding the Iraqi army was a mistake, as was "Debaathification", and that we didn't use enough troops.

I'm not sure I buy into many of the standard criticisms. Michael Rubin, another former CPA advisor turned critic, has defended "Debaathification" and the disbandment of the army as necessary to show the Iraqi Shia that things would truly be different in the new Iraq. On the issue of troop strength, I doubt that we have many more troops available, in particular the specialized military police and civil affairs units that Diamond believes should have been employed more heavily. However, from reading the views of Diamond, Rubin and other CPA critics, a common thread does jump out at me. This comes from Diamond's observation about the dichotomy between control and legitimacy.

Before the Iraq campaign, two basic models for the postwar period were discussed. One was the "MacArthur model", a lengthy American occupation designed to substantially transform Iraqi politics and society, ala Japan after WWII. The second option might be termed the "Afghan model", a much less ambitious program involving a relatively quick transfer of power to an indigenous Iraqi government, as occurred in Afghanistan. The first option promised a great deal of American control at the expense of legitimacy with the Iraqi people. The second offered much greater legitimacy in return for sacrificing a substantial amount of American control of the postwar rebuilding process.

The main failing of US policy in postwar Iraq, in my view, is that it did not consistently follow either of these two approaches. Instead, it "fell between two stools" and formed an uneasy compromise between the two models that brought most of the problems of each approach with few of the benefits. We exerted just enough control to come across as overbearing and limit the development of indigenous Iraqi institutions such as local councils, but failed to exert enough control to fully restore order and deal with threatening elements such as Moqtada al-Sadr and his followers. I don't believe, as many have argued, that there was no plan for the postwar period. Rather, the planning was predicated on a military campaign much longer and more difficult than what actually occurred. When Saddam's regime collapsed sooner than expected, the administration was forced to improvise, not always successfully.

While we have definitely made mistakes in Iraq, it would be ridiculous to write off our efforts as a failure, let alone abandon the Iraqis to their fate. As Diamond writes, there is indeed some cause for optimism:

Like many CPA officials, I found many Iraqis to have a deep ambition to live in a decent, democratic, and free society and found them prepared to do the hard work that building a democracy will require. Above all else, Iraqis want security: they want to be free from the terror that disfigured their lives under Saddam and that has continued, in a different form, since the war. But most favor achieving this security through democratic means, not under some "benevolent" strongman.

Because of the failures and shortcomings of the occupation-as well as the intrinsic difficulties that any occupation following Saddam's tyranny was bound to confront-it is going to take a number of years to rebuild the Iraqi state and to construct any kind of viable democratic and constitutional order in Iraq. The post-handover transition is going to be long, and initially very bloody. It is not clear that the country is going to be able to conduct reasonably credible elections by next January. And even if those elections are held in a minimally acceptable fashion, it is hard to imagine that the over-ambitious transition timetable for the remainder of 2005 will be kept. Nevertheless, the end of occupation and the transfer of authority to an interim government on June 28 offered at least a chance for a new beginning. And there is no alternative to this transitional program that does not involve one awful scenario or another: civil war, massive renewed repression, the establishment of a safe haven for terrorist organizations-or quite possibly all three.

The transition in Iraq is going to need a huge amount of international assistance-political, economic, and military-for years to come. Hopefully, the U.S. performance will improve now that Iraqis are in charge of their own future. It is going to be costly and it will continue to be frustrating. Yet a large number of courageous Iraqi democrats, many with comfortable alternatives abroad, are betting their lives and their fortunes on the belief that a new and more democratic political order can be developed and sustained in Iraq. The United States owes it to them-and to itself-to continue to help them.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

I'm not the only one

I was heartened to discover yesterday that there are indeed other conservative librarians who are blogging. The two most prominent such sites are Shush and Conservator. In response to a group called Librarians Against Bush, the proprietors of those two blogs have even created a Librarians for Bush Web site. Unfortunately, there are undoubtedly far more of the former, but it is important that those of us who defy our profession's left of center orthodoxy make our voices heard.

Positive Campaign Watch

Courtesy, of Instapundit, two prime examples of "fear and smear" in action:

-A press release from John Kerry's own campaign Web site, dated April 27 of this year, questioning George W. Bush's National Guard service.

-Jeff Goldstein at Protein Wisdom notes the following display of sophisticated political debate from a Kerry surrogate on Fox News' Hannity & Colmes:

Democratic strategist Mary Anne Marsh, speaking moments ago on “Hannity and Colmes”: “George Bush betrayed his country by sending us to war on false pretenses, and George Bush betrayed his country by not fighting in Vietnam.”

Yes. You read that right. “George Bush betrayed his country by not fighting in Vietnam.”

"George Bush betrayed his country by not fighting in Vietnam."

Given an opportunity to correct this rather incredible statement, Ms. Marsh declined, arguing that she had nothing to correct—that it was a fact that George Bush betrayed his country by not fighting in Vietnam.

Betrayed his country. By not fighting in Vietnam.

Just two examples of why I find John Kerry's calls for a "positive campaign" to be nauseatingly hypocritical.

Update: Via Power Line, an example of the positive, future-oriented campaign many Democrats are running:

A state Democratic Party effort to sign up new voters mixes images of a military draft (search) notice with a voter registration (search) form, calling on people to make a choice between the two.

The first page of the mailing shows a draft notice with orders to report to a military induction center. The next shows a helicopter with troops in the foreground beneath a headline that says "Officials in Washington are calling for more troops in Iraq." Below, the mailing asks "Which form would you rather fill out?"

As Power Line's Hindrocket puts it:

It is hard to think of a more despicable campaign tactic. It hardly needs to be said that neither the Bush administration nor any other foreseeable administration has the slightest desire to re-institute the draft. The thought sends shudders down the spines of professional military men; America's all-volunteer army is without a doubt the best military force ever assembled. No one I know of supports the draft, except for Fritz Hollings, the Democratic Senator from--ironically enough--South Carolina. He introduced a bill to that effect. Not only did the Hollings proposal go nowhere; he couldn't even find a co-sponsor.

There's really nothing else I can add.

Monday, August 23, 2004

Afghanistan Update

Arthur Chrenkoff has again published another of his monthly "good news" updates, in cooperation with Opinion Journal. As usual, Chrenkoff has produced a thorough, link-filled, informative piece that is well worth reading:

Fit for a King

Chrenkoff aptly summarizes the situation in Afghanistan as follows:

No one is pretending that Afghanistan doesn't have a long way to go yet--it is, after all, starting almost from zero. But thanks to the Coalition military action that resulted in the overthrow of the Taliban regime almost three years ago, and with the continuing assistance from governments, organizations and individuals around the world, the Afghans are finally allowed to be optimists again. For a country that has suffered so much, it's a good start.

Be sure and give it a look.

The Latest from VDH

As I continue to get caught up, let me belatedly draw your attention to last Friday's column by Victor Davis Hanson. This particular piece discusses the plan announced by President Bush for withdrawing some US forces from Europe and Asia. As usual, Professor Hanson provides some superb analysis that is well worth your time. Here's an excerpt:

Europe, as the perpetual adolescent, took potshots at its doting parent, always with the assumption that Dad would still hand over the keys, ignore the cheap sass, and "be there for me" if the car ended up in the ditch.

Expect more partisan hysteria here at home in response to President Bush's courageous announcement, which in fact had been under consideration for years, precisely because there is no legitimate criticism to be offered. The careful strategy of slow withdrawal fits in well with Mr. Kerry's notion of a new, restructured military. The notion of bringing troops home from anywhere is what the new Michael Moore Democrats always wish for when they label America as hegemonic, imperialistic, and meddlesome. Politicos appreciate that only Republicans would have enough foreign policy fides — in the manner that Nixon went to China, but Carter looked deranged when talking about pulling out all Americans from Korea — to pull off long-needed reform.

Thus because the move was both measured and sound, and yet could not be claimed by the neo-Democratic establishment, it will be seen as especially grating. Wesley Clark — who once had no problem with appearing on stage with Michael Moore for a cheap endorsement, even as the latter called Clark's commander-in-chief a "traitor" and is on record as praising the fascist killers of Americans as "Minutemen" — was wheeled out to utter a few banalities about "politics." But after a few deer-in-the-headlights appearances, he wisely withdrew, his heart really not in the script presented.

Please read it all:

Welcome Back, Europe

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Swift Hypocrisy

First, let me apologize to my handful of loyal readers for the lack of posts. It's been a busy week.

So far, I have refrained from comment on the "Swift boat" controversy regarding John Kerry's service in Vietnam. Personally, I care far more about what Kerry would or would not do as president. However, there is one point I feel obliged to make: That is, the utter disingenousness and hypocrisy of the Kerry campaign and DNC response.

The group attacking Kerry, "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth", is known as a "527 group", an independent group allowed to run issue ads provided it avoids "coordinating" its activities with any political campaign. In the case of the Swift Boat vets, Kerry surrogates are shocked, shocked to find that an anti-Kerry group has been funded to a substantial extent by Republicans. Personally, I would have expected the Swift Boat Vets to have received donations from George Soros and Michael Moore.

Speaking of whom, I find myself nauseated by the calls from Democrats for George W. Bush to denounce the Swift Boat group. While the Swift Boat ads attacking Kerry have cost only a few hundred thousand dollars, anti-Bush 527 groups have spent tens of millions of dollars on ads viciously attacking Bush. As Vaughn Ververs wrote in National Journal, courtesy of Opinion Journal:

"The dirty work thus far has been done much more to Kerry's benefit than to Bush's. Estimates from last month indicate that Democratic "leaning" 527s such as MoveOn, the Media Fund and America Coming Together had spent some $50 million on TV ads -- almost all of them attacking Bush. Much has been made by Kerry supporters of the 'positive' campaign the Democrat has run on the airwaves. But that's easy to do when you're getting support from other sources on the negative front"

As Power Line has noted, 24 of the top 25 contributors to 527 groups are Democrats or Kerry supporters.

John Kerry has refused to condemn any left of center 527s, no matter how over the top their rhetoric against President Bush. He has refused to say a word about Fahrenheit 9/11, Michael Moore's two hour slander filled anti-Bush hate fest. He has filled his rhetoric with verbal winks and nods to the fanatical Bush-hating left. Now John Kerry has the gall to condemn the Bush campaign because a 527 group made up of his fellow Vietnam vets has taken issue with how he has described his service, and the way he accused them of war crimes after returning to the US. The hypocrisy is stunning.

Monday, August 16, 2004

"The Terrorism to Come"

Noted historian and terrorism scholar Walter Laqueur has a sober and thought provoking new essay in the August/September 2004 issue of Policy Review:

The Terrorism to Come

Here's a brief excerpt:

It could well be that, as far as the recent past is concerned, the danger of terrorism has been overstated. In the two world wars, more people were sometimes killed and more material damage caused in a few hours than through all the terrorist attacks in a recent year. True, our societies have since become more vulnerable and also far more sensitive regarding the loss of life, but the real issue at stake is not the attacks of the past few years but the coming dangers. Megaterrorism has not yet arrived; even 9-11 was a stage in between old-fashioned terrorism and the shape of things to come: the use of weapons of mass destruction.


Today these have become real possibilities. For the first time in human history very small groups have, or will have, the potential to cause immense destruction. In a situation such as the present one there is always the danger of focusing entirely on the situation at hand — radical nationalist or religious groups with whom political solutions may be found. There is a danger of concentrating on Islamism and forgetting that the problem is a far wider one. Political solutions to deal with their grievances may sometimes be possible, but frequently they are not. Today’s terrorists, in their majority, are not diplomats eager to negotiate or to find compromises. And even if some of them would be satisfied with less than total victory and the annihilation of the enemy, there will always be a more radical group eager to continue the struggle.

Anyone suffering from complacency vis a vis the issue of terrorism should read this essay. In an age of WMD, the terrorist threat will be with us for a long time.

Update: Please read the thoughtful comment attached to this post by David March, here's an excerpt:

This is exactly what is at the root of the problem of WMD’s--- they don’t need to be huge. You don’t go looking for an airfield covered with sophisticated bombers, or a military compound with huge tanker trucks filled with poison. All that is needed is enough material to fit in a backpack, with a timer and a few ounces of C-4, and you have a device that will create a huge problem for any functioning urban center.

A Weapon of Mass Destruction does NOT need to BE Massive.

An Iraq Update

OpinionJournal and Arthur Chrenkoff again team up to relate the all-too underreported good news from Iraq:

Taking the Field

Every day, the ultimate course of our struggle with jihadist terror is being decided in Iraq (and Afghanistan). The work of helping Iraq become a democratic, pluralist, forward-looking country has been, and will continue to be, difficult and costly. The price in dollars is vastly exceeded by the sacrifice of over 900 brave Americans. Still, as Chrenkoff shows, progress is being made. If we succeed, Iraq will become a model for the entire Arab world, and provide a stark alternative to the totalitarian vision offered by our enemies, both secular and Islamist.

The stakes in Iraq are enormous, which is why the forces of xenophobia and fanaticism in the Arab world are so determined to see us fail. America's fate is tied inextricably to the struggle for Iraq and the Middle East: If the al-Douris and bin Ladens, Sadrs and Zarqawis succeed in defeating us and imposing their vision, future 9/11s and a horrific war of civilizations are all but inevitable. If we persevere and help the Iraqi people build the kind of country they are capable of, a country that will inspire others in the region, the Islamists and secular Arab fascists will be doomed to the ashheap of history. This is why staying the course in Iraq, and keeping a sense of perspective, is so vital.

The Miracle Continues

Iraq's U-23 soccer team continued its improbable Olympic success story with a second straight victory, 2-0 over Costa Rica. The win, coming on the heels of their stunning 4-2 upset of heavily-favored Portugal in the opener, guarantees the Iraqi squad a place in the Olympic quarterfinals for the first time since 1980. Iraq now leads Group D with 6 points and a plus 4 goal differential (the first tiebreaker). Therefore, even a narrow loss Wednesday against Morocco should allow the Iraqi team to win the group and hopefully draw an easier quarterfinal opponent.

Hitchens on Kerry

In yesterday's New York Times Book Review, Christopher Hitchens offered his assessment of John Kerry:

If Kerry is dogged and haunted by the accusation of wanting everything twice over, he has come by the charge honestly. In Vietnam, he was either a member of a ''band of brothers'' or of a gang of war criminals, and has testified with great emotion to both convictions. In the Senate, he has either voted for armament and vigilance or he has not, and either regrets his antiwar vote on the Kuwait war, or his initial pro-war stance on the Iraq war, or his negative vote on the financing of the latter, or has not. The Boston Globe writers capture a moment of sheer, abject incoherence, at a Democratic candidates' debate in Baltimore last September:

''If we hadn't voted the way we voted, we would not have been able to have a chance of going to the United Nations and stopping the president, in effect, who already had the votes and who was obviously asking serious questions about whether or not the Congress was going to be there to enforce the effort to create a threat.''

And all smart people know how to laugh at President Bush for having problems with articulation.

As with almost anything Hitchens writes, it's an excellent read, so please give it a look:

Taking the Measure of John Kerry

Sadly, I share Hitchens' ultimate conclusion on Senator Kerry:

He still gives, to me at any rate, the impression of someone who sincerely wishes that this were not a time of war. When critical votes on the question come up, Kerry always looks like a dog being washed. John McCain was not like this, when a president he despised felt it necessary to go into Kosovo. We are looking at a man who would make, or would have made, a perfectly decent peacetime president.

Right now, a peacetime president is the last thing this nation can afford.

Link courtesy of Pejmanesque, who offers additional analysis. See also Instapundit.

Explaining the War on Islamist Terror

In the September 2004 issue of Commentary, Norman Podhoretz, one of the forefathers of the dreaded "neoconservative" movement, offers a fascinating in-depth analysis of the War against Islamist Terror. The piece is too lengthy to usefully excerpt, so I encourage you to click on the link and take the time to read it all, as it's well worth it:

World War IV: How It Started, What It Means, and Why We Have to Win

Link courtesy of Power Line.

Saturday, August 14, 2004

Why They Hate Bush

In his Friday column for National Review Online, Victor Davis Hanson asks the question why George W. Bush arouses such hatred among many on the left. Not disagreement, which is what democracy is about after all, but outright hatred. He comes to the following conclusion:

In short, the Left hates George W. Bush for who he is rather than what he does. Southern conservatism, evangelical Christianity, a black-and-white worldview, and a wealthy man's disdain for elite culture — none by itself earns hatred, of course, but each is a force multiplier of the other and so helps explain the evolution of disagreement into pathological venom.

September 11 cooled the furor of these aristocratic critics, but Iraq re-ignited it. Not voting for George Bush is, of course understandable and millions in fact will do precisely that. But for those haters who demonize the man, their knee-jerk disgust tells us far more about their own shallow characters than it does anything about our wartime president.

And there is a great danger in all these manifestations of pure hatred. We are in a war. And in these tumultuous days, the Left's unhinged odium will resonate with and embolden not only our enemies abroad, but also the deranged, dangerous folk here at home.

It's an interesting article, please read it all:

On Loathing Bush

Friday, August 13, 2004

Some Badly Needed Laughs

Just when it seems that the entire entertainment industry has gone over the looney left cliff, National Lampoon bucks the trend and mocks the Bush-haters in hilarious fashion:


Check the site out, it's brilliant.

Update: Link courtesy of Little Green Footballs.

A Victory for Freedom

Congratulations to Iraq's U-23 Men's soccer team for opening play in the Olympics yesterday with a stunning 4-2 victory over heavily-favored Portugal. For the Iraqis, who weren't even expected to qualify for the games, this was an amazing result. However, for the Iraqi team and the Iraqi people, this victory was about far more than a game. As Adrian Wojnarowski has written in a terrific column for ESPN.com:

After the Iraqis had defeated gold-medal contender Portugal 4-2 in the first round of Group D, after two players had been carried off on stretchers and the man responsible for the game-winning goal had blood gushing from a cut above his eye until they slapped that big bandage on it, this team could've stood in the middle of Pampeloponnisiako Stadium and listened to that chant all night long.

"By our souls and blood," they screamed in a native language, "we are giving life to you, Iraq."

"I never have to go to another soccer game in Iraq and see Saddam's picture all around the stadium," said Shorsh Abdullah, a 24-year-old Iraqi living in Greece as a student. He couldn't believe his eyes. His mother and father were back in Baghdad and the thought of the joy this brought everyone back there moved him beyond words.

"This was a victory for freedom," Abdullah finally said before returning to the flood of Iraqi bodies dancing and singing and hugging all the way out of the stadium. They hadn't just won a soccer game, but beat a gold-medal contender, "the best team in Europe," the Iraqi Olympic team leader declared.

Maybe there have been bigger upsets in Olympic history, but there have been few as important as this one. As much as anything, Iraqi athletes are symbols of survival for a beleaguered nation. For them, the consequences of winning and losing were the most grave on the planet. The Iraqi athletes under Uday Hussein, minister of sport for his father Saddam's dictatorship, had been brutalized beyond belief. Nowhere did losing have the consequences they did in Iraq. Imagine those journeys back to Baghdad after losses, when Iraqi athletes had to consider the horrors awaiting them in the twisted mind of Uday.

When teams lost and players made mistakes, they could expect to pay a price of pain and suffering through the most unthinkable of tortures. They were beaten and burned with cigarettes and shocked with cattle prodders and sliced with razors digging into flesh. They were dragged through the streets bare-backed and rolled in sand to infect the bloody wounds. They were thrown into prison cells and raped.

Uday always figured: If the rest of society sees our regime doing this to great and popular athletes, ordinary Iraqis will ask themselves; What chance would I have stepping out of line?

After all that, they were somehow still standing on Thursday night in Greece, still standing a world away from the horrors of Hussein's holy hell.

It's still far too early to speak of a "Miracle on Grass". Still, the Iraqis, with games against Morocco and Costa Rica to come, are now in excellent position to advance to the second round. I wish them luck, and will be behind them 100%. They, and the Iraqi people, deserve some happiness.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Analyzing the Kerry Acceptance Speech

Two weeks ago, I posted my initial reactions to John Kerry's July 29 acceptance speech at the Democratic convention. To sum up, I was less than impressed, especially with the sections on foreign policy and the War on Islamist Terror. The speech was laden with Bush-hating code words that made a mockery of Kerry's smarmy, hypocritical plea for a "positive" campaign. The senator tried to sound tough, but his effort at hawkishness rang hollow. Kerry offered no new ideas on how he would wage war on the jihadist terror movement, or how he would secure success in Iraq and Afghanistan. Nothing beyond the usual platitudes about "working with allies". In fact, Kerry seemed far more interested in talking about how he wouldn't use force, how he would only act on the basis of "hard intelligence" against "real and imminent" threats. In other words, a Kerry Administration would be more than ready to use force, as soon as those well funded first responders finish combing the rubble for survivors.

The Washington Post, in a July 30 editorial, was also less than impressed by the speech:

Mr. Kerry last night elided the charged question of whether, as president, he would have gone to war in Iraq. He offered not a word to celebrate the freeing of Afghans from the Taliban, or Iraqis from Saddam Hussein, and not a word about helping either nation toward democracy.

In Iraq, Mr. Kerry said, "We need a president who has the credibility to bring our allies to our side and share the burden. . . . That's the right way to get the job done and bring our troops home." Mr. Kerry was right to chide Mr. Bush for alienating allies unnecessarily. But what is "the job" in Iraq? He didn't say. Mr. Kerry could have spoken the difficult truth that U.S. troops will be needed in Iraq for a long time. He could have reaffirmed his commitment to completing the task of helping build democracy. Instead, he chose words that seemed designed to give the impression that he could engineer a quick and painless exit.

Nor did Mr. Kerry's statements about future threats do justice to the complexity of today's challenge. "As president, I will ask hard questions and demand hard evidence," he said, a well-aimed shot at the Bush administration's failures to do the same. For many in the hall last night, the intelligence lapses in Iraq prove the wrongness of Mr. Bush's preemption strategy, and Mr. Kerry seemed to agree, saying that "the only justification for going to war" would be "a threat that was real and imminent." Yet a President Kerry, too, would face momentous decisions based on inevitably imperfect information, whether about Iran or North Korea or dangers yet to emerge. How would he respond? Will it always be safe to wait?

So far, Senator Kerry's primary claim to national security expertise, other than "I'm not Bush", has been "hey, I was in 'Nam". I respect the fact that Kerry served in Vietnam, but the shamelessly self-promoting way he has chosen to flog this for his own benefit has really started to become tiresome. How four months on a swiftboat automatically makes John Kerry qualified to be Commander-in-Chief escapes me, but that seems to be his argument. In a piece for the New Republic Web site, Lawrence Kaplan treats this thesis with the derision it deserves:

Echoing the phalanx of generals who have endorsed him, Kerry says we should trust him to guide the fortunes of an America at war because "I defended this country as a young man and I will defend it as president." Leaving aside the unseemliness of recently retired general officers endorsing political candidates from a convention podium, the steady diet of patriotic gore that Kerry forced us to imbibe was unsettling enough. After all, whether it describes a Republican or a Democratic candidate, the fact that a politician has "fought under that flag" tells us nothing about his qualifications to be a wartime leader--even less when the would-be leader devotes far more of his convention speech to a long-ago war than he does to the war in which America happens to be presently engaged.

To Kerry supporters who argue otherwise, is it really necessary to point out that Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt never saw combat before going on to become America's greatest wartime strategists? Or that the very men who dispatched Kerry to Vietnam were themselves decorated veterans? To be sure, politicians who have served in war have an essential understanding of the horrors of war. But what does it tell us about their strategic wisdom or their fitness to be commander-in-chief? In truth, very little. None other than George McGovern boasted, accurately, that he was "a decorated combat pilot in World War II," while his opponent "was stationed far from battle." Did this make McGovern "stronger" than Nixon on national security? For their part, Senators Chuck Hagel, John McCain, and John Kerry all served in Vietnam. How did it shape their foreign policy views? In completely different ways: the first ended up a traditional realist, the second a virtual neoconservative, and the third a conventional liberal.


Indeed, he spent far more time discussing domestic policy than he spent discussing foreign and defense policy. And when he did get around to discussing the matter of our national survival, he basically took a page from the post-Vietnam playbook favored by an earlier generation of Democrats. "We shouldn't be opening firehouses in Baghdad," the candidate declared to rousing applause, "and shutting them down in the United States of America." Suggesting that Europeans won't send troops to Iraq simply because they can't stand his opponent, Kerry promised to be nicer to our allies so we could "bring our troops home." Unlike, say, in Bosnia, he pledged to go to war "only because we have to." Leaving unsaid exactly by whom and at what cost, he dedicated himself to making America "respected in the world." Finally, and without saying precisely what it is, Kerry said he knows "what we have to do in Iraq." He has a plan, you see. Just like a candidate from long ago claimed to have a plan to end a war--the war that put Kerry on the stage last night and which, for him at least, wasn't so long ago at all.

Writing for Slate, Christopher Hitchens justifiably ripped into Senator Kerry over the shamelessly demagogic line that "we shouldn't be opening firehouses in Baghdad and closing them down in the United States of America":

The worst thing about John Kerry's parochial line on the firehouses was the applause it got, with cameras even focusing on firefighter union jackets adorned with Kerry-Edwards buttons. The great thing about firefighters is usually their solidarity: They will send impressive delegations to the funerals of their fellows not just in other cities but in other countries, too. Solidarity and internationalism, indeed, used to be the cement of the democratic Left. So, do we understand the nominee correctly? Is he telling us that Iraqi firefighters are parasites sucking on the American tit, and that they don't deserve the supportive brotherhood that used to be the proudest signature of the labor movement? And why is Kerry so keen on attracting our "allies" to share the burden in Iraq—or to "reduce the cost to American taxpayers," as he inelegantly put it—if not to help put out the fire that might otherwise consume more than a point in the budget?

One of my main concerns about John Kerry is his feckless desire to have it both ways on so many issues, especially those involving national security. To me this bespeaks a cynical desire to blow with the political winds, and an abject unwillingness to take the risks required of a wartime president. The Senator's record on Iraq is a particularly illuminating example of this. In fact, it is hard to figure out exactly what John Kerry's core beliefs are, if any. However, in an essay originally published in the August 1 Washington Post, historian Robert Kagan has indeed discerned the outlines of a "Kerry Doctrine", one whose implications for an America at war are disastrous:

Someday, when the passions of this election have subsided, historians and analysts of American foreign policy may fasten on a remarkable passage in John Kerry's nomination speech. "As president," Kerry declared, "I will bring back this nation's time-honored tradition: The United States of America never goes to war because we want to; we only go to war because we have to. That is the standard of our nation." The statement received thunderous applause at the convention and, no doubt, the nodding approval of many Americans of all political leanings who watched on television.

Only American diplomatic historians may have contemplated suicide as they reflected on their failure to have the smallest influence on Americans' understanding of their own nation's history. And perhaps foreign audiences tuning in may have paused in their exultation over a possible Kerry victory in November to reflect with wonder on the incurable self-righteousness and nationalist innocence the Democratic candidate displayed. Who but an American politician, they might ask, could look back across the past 200 years and insist that the United States had never gone to war except when it "had to"?


Why is Kerry invoking an American "tradition" that does not exist?

Perhaps he's distorting American history simply to cast the Bush administration and the war in Iraq in the harshest possible light. But maybe Kerry is not being cynical. Perhaps, finally, he is saying what he really believes and not what American policy has been, but what it should be.


Would it really be surprising if John Kerry, whose life and thought were so powerfully shaped by his Vietnam experience, now returned to the view of American foreign policy which that experience led him to three decades ago? There seems to be a conspiracy on both sides in this campaign not to take Kerry seriously as a man of ideas and conviction. But the fact that he has waffled so visibly on Iraq may be the best proof of his commitment to the beliefs about American foreign policy he came to hold in the 1970s.

Maybe Kerry's real act of cynicism was his vote for the Iraq war in the fall of 2002. With that vote, he ignored everything he believed he had learned from his Vietnam experience. In retrospect, he may feel that he sold his soul to make himself electable. In the months since the war, Kerry has had to pretend he did the right thing, not only because a politician dare not admit error but because his political advisers believe that in a post-Sept. 11 world most of the electorate does not want an "antiwar" president. Throughout the long months of the campaign, Kerry disciplined himself to sound like a hawk. But in his heart, based on all he learned during the formative years of his life, Kerry is not a hawk. At the Democratic National Convention, John Edwards followed the script. Kerry followed his heart.

As disturbing as the image of John Kerry as unprincipled waffler is, the idea that he would govern as an aging baby-boomer "anti-war" president, during a time of war, is even more terrifying. If Kagan is right, and Kerry is elected, his vow that "(a)ny attack will be met with a swift and certain response" would almost certainly be put to the test. In an era of WMD, this is not a risk that America can afford to take.

Sunday, August 08, 2004

More on Bush Hatred

In today's New York Times, Leon Wieseltier of the New Republic reviews Nicholson's Baker's new novel Checkpoint, in which the protagonist plots to kill George W. Bush. In his review, Wieseltier addresses the broader issue of Bush hatred. I strongly disagree with Wieseltier when he tries to explain Bush hatred away as a mirror image of "conservative demogoguery". One need only refer back to the way in which many on the left treated Ronald Reagan. Plus, Wieseltier praises the Kerry/Edwards campaign for not engaging in Bush hatred, yet ignores the fact that Kerry's acceptance speech was littered with Bush-hating code words such as "misleading the nation to war" and "threatening the constitution". Still, Wieseltier makes some telling points about the deranged nature of many of the Bush haters:

The signs of the degradation are everywhere. In a new anthology of anti-Bush writings by distinguished journalists and commentators and a senator (Kennedy) and a congressman (Dingell), the pages are ornamented with exhilarating anagrams such as ''The Republicans: Plan butcheries?'' and ''Donald Henry Rumsfeld: Fondly handles murder.'' The back cover thoughtfully calls Rumsfeld a ''war pig.'' In an advertisement that proudly lists ''recent contributors,'' The New York Review of Books suddenly names Noam Chomsky, who has not appeared in its pages in decades; but this is the glory in which the journal apparently wishes to bask again. Al Gore denounces Abu Ghraib as ''the Bush gulag,'' and Moveon.org publishes a huge ad instructing that ''The Communists had Pravda. Republicans have Fox.'' And so on. All this is not much of a height from which to fall to the juxtaposition of pictures of Bush with pictures of Hitler in a recent concert by Black Sabbath, to gloss a song also called ''War Pigs.''

Read the whole article. (If you're not registered for the Times, go to Bugmenot.com first to get a password)

Confessions of a Bush Hater

Recently, via Roger L. Simon, I came across this fascinating article from the August 2004 issue of Esquire by admitted Bush hating journalist Tom Junod. In his article, Junod has the moral and intellectual courage to ask the one question most Bush haters dare not ask: what if George W. Bush is right? Here is an excerpt:

As easy as it is to say that we can't abide the president because of the gulf between what he espouses and what he actually does , what haunts me is the possibility that we can't abide him because of us—because of the gulf between his will and our willingness. What haunts me is the possibility that we have become so accustomed to ambiguity and inaction in the face of evil that we find his call for decisive action an insult to our sense of nuance and proportion.

The people who dislike George W. Bush have convinced themselves that opposition to his presidency is the most compelling moral issue of the day. Well, it's not. The most compelling moral issue of the day is exactly what he says it is, when he's not saying it's gay marriage. The reason he will be difficult to unseat in November—no matter what his approval ratings are in the summer—is that his opponents operate out of the moral certainty that he is the bad guy and needs to be replaced, while he operates out of the moral certainty that terrorists are the bad guys and need to be defeated. The first will always sound merely convenient when compared with the second. Worse, the gulf between the two kinds of certainty lends credence to the conservative notion that liberals have settled for the conviction that Bush is distasteful as a substitute for conviction—because it's easier than conviction.


We were attacked three years ago, without warning or predicate event. The attack was not a gesture of heroic resistance nor the offshoot of some bright utopian resolve, but the very flower of a movement that delights in the potential for martyrdom expressed in the squalls of the newly born. It is a movement that is about death—that honors death, that loves death, that fetishizes death, that worships death, that seeks to accomplish death wherever it can, on a scale both intimate and global—and if it does not warrant the expenditure of what the self-important have taken to calling "blood and treasure," then what does? Slavery? Fascism? Genocide? Let's not flatter ourselves: If we do not find it within ourselves to identify the terrorism inspired by radical Islam as an unequivocal evil—and to pronounce ourselves morally superior to it—then we have lost the ability to identify any evil at all, and our democracy is not only diminished, it dissolves into the meaninglessness of privilege.


We might as well credit the president for his one great accomplishment: replacing but with and as a basis for foreign policy. The world is a better place without Saddam Hussein, and we got rid of him. And unless we have become so wedded to the politics of regret that we are obligated to indulge in a perverse kind of nostalgia for the days of Uday and Qusay, we have to admit that it's hard to imagine a world with Saddam still in it. And even before the first stem-winder of the Democratic convention, the possibility of even limited success in Iraq has reduced the loyal opposition to two strategies: either signing up for the oversight role they had envisioned for the UN, or else declaring the whole thing a lost cause, in their own war of preemption.

Of course, Iraq might be a lost cause. It might be a disaster unmitigated and unprecedented. But if we permit ourselves to look at it the way the Republicans look at it—as a historical cause rather than just a cause assumed to be lost—we might be persuaded to see that it's history's judgment that matters, not ours. The United States, at this writing, has been in Iraq fifteen months. At the same point in the Civil War, Lincoln faced, well, a disaster unmitigated and unprecedented. He was losing . He didn't lose, at least in part because he was able to both inspire and draw on the kind of moral absolutism necessary to win wars. Bush has been unable to do the same, at least in part because he is undercut by evidence of his own dishonesty, but also because moral absolutism is nearly impossible to sustain in the glare of a twenty-four-hour news cycle. In a nation incapable of feeling any but the freshest wounds, Bush cannot seek to inspire moral absolutism without his moral absolutism becoming itself an issue—indeed, the issue. He cannot seek to engender certainty without being accused of sowing disarray. And he cannot speak the barest terms necessary for victory in any war—that we will stay the course, through good or through ill, because our cause is right and just, and God is on our side—without inspiring a goodly number of his constituents to aspire to the moral prestige of surrender.

The article is entitled "The Case for George W. Bush". Please read it all.

Friday, August 06, 2004

Back in Business

Apologies to my handful of loyal readers for the lack of posts this week. I was on the road from Tuesday-Thursday, enjoying the pleasures of 95 degree heat and Ohio traffic construction. Anyway, I have now arrived safely in my ancestral homeland of Michigan, from which I will be blogging for most of the next 2 1/2 weeks. Thanks for your patience, and expect some posts this weekend.

Monday, August 02, 2004

Iraq: An Update

In light of the ongoing violence in Iraq, especially events such as Sunday's barbarous church attacks, it is important to realize that there are positive developments taking place in that country. Iraq is emerging from three and a half decades of totalitarianism and war, and building a democratic, pluralist, modern society will take time, patience, and commitment. The same forces of xenophobia and barbarism that produced 9/11, as embodied by totalitarian fascists of both the Wahhabi and Baathist type, are working to prevent a new Iraq from emerging, and they will commit any atrocity in order to achieve their ends. Still, progress is being made despite the terrorists.

Arthur Chrenkoff has once again joined forces with Opinion Journal to provide a rich, link-filled roundup of the positive news from Iraq, that all too often gets downplayed in the media. Please give it a look, as it's definitely worth your time:

'Finish the Job'

Moore Fictition: An Update

Drawing attention to the errors, distortions, and falsehoods in Michael Moore's work is like standing before a barrel of fish with a fully-loaded Uzi. Sadly, given the mindlessly uncritical acceptance given his films and books by so many, it is also a necessity. One of the most depressing things about last week's Democratic convention was reading about the rock star status accorded the master of "fictition". He even sat in the VIP box next to Jimmy Carter on Monday night, an image that spoke louder about the current state of the Democratic Party than any speech did. Meanwhile, the edifice of lies that is Fahrenheit 9/11 continues to crumble. Here are a couple more examples:

-The liberal site Spinsanity notes that the 9/11 commission report doesn't exactly do wonders for the credibility of Fahrenheit:

In an article posted on his website on July 23, Michael Moore misconstrues the 9/11 Commission report, suggesting it supports two claims made in "Fahrenheit 9/11" when it actually sheds doubt on them.

Source: Spinsanity, "Moore's mendacity confirmed", July 29, 2004.

-Via Instapundit, I'm shocked to find yet another example of deliberate distortion in Fahrenheit:

The (Bloomington) Pantagraph newspaper in central Illinois has sent a letter to Moore and his production company, Lions Gate Entertainment Corp., asking Moore to apologize for using what the newspaper says was a doctored front page in the film, the paper reported Friday. It also is seeking compensatory damages of $1.

A scene early in the movie that shows newspaper headlines related to the legally contested presidential election of 2000 included a shot of The Pantagraph's Dec. 19, 2001, front page, with the prominent headline: "Latest Florida recount shows Gore won election."

The paper says that headline never appeared on that day. It appeared in a Dec. 5, 2001, edition, but the headline was not used on the front page. Instead, it was found in much smaller type above a letter to the editor, which the paper says reflects "only the opinions of the letter writer."

Source: AP/Yahoo News, "Newspaper Says Moore Film Used Fake Front" July 30, 2004.

Instapundit has yet more links, plus this assessment that I couldn't top if I tried: "Full of hateful fiction, Michael Moore's work is the Turner Diaries of the left, and it's likely to have a similar consequence."