Category Archives: Political Commentary

Anniversary

The Branch Davidians were incinerated eleven years ago today, and nine years ago, the Murrah Federal Building was bombed in Oklahoma City. We still don’t know everyone who was involved. In light of that this should stir things up a little.

[Update on Tuesday morning]

Clayton Cramer has more disturbing details from the trial.

How much else did the prosecution suppress in their effort to keep this case neat and tidy?

Good question.

[Another update, a little later]

As Jon Goff points out, there are some things to celebrate on this date as well–the beginning of the first American revolution.

A reminder of an event that makes Michael Moore all the more odious.

Oil For Palaces And East Side Condos

The UN scandal over the Iraqi “Oil for Food” program isn’t going away any time soon.

In a scathing letter sent to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan on March 3, which he made available to Insight, Hankes-Drielsma called the U.N. program “one of the world’s most disgraceful scams,” and said that “based on the facts as I know them at the present time, the U.N. failed in its responsibility to the Iraqi people and the international community at large.”

In an earlier letter to Annan, to which he received no reply, Hankes-Drielsma noted that allocations of “very significant supplies of crude oil [were] made to … individuals with political influence in many countries, including France and Jordan,” both of which supported Saddam and his regime to the bitter end.

Under the U.N. program, the Dutch company Saybolt International BV was paid hefty fees to inspect oil tankers loading Iraqi crude in Basra, to make sure no cheating took place. “Now it turns out that the inspecting company was paid off,” one investigator said, “while on the ground, individual inspectors were getting cash bribes.” Saybolt denies it received an oil allocation, although the Iraqi documents show it was down for 3 million barrels.

And Richard Gwyn, in a Canadian paper, shock of shocks, says that the UN is in no position to lecture us, or anyone:

While the Americans have been trying to get Iraq turned around in the right direction for only a year, the U.N. and Atlantic alliance have been at work in the much smaller society of Kosovo for almost five years now.

Kosovo’s economy, though, is probably weaker than Iraq’s despite the ongoing insurgency in the Middle Eastern country. Kosovo’s only successful “industries” (not counting those working for one or other of the many international agencies there) are prostitution, drug smuggling, money-laundering, illegal immigrant smuggling and car theft.

Ouch.

If this kind of story continues to get serious traction, what does it do for John Kerry’s vague “let’s bring in the UN and have a ‘real’ (as though Britain, Australia, Poland, Italy, etc., aren’t legitimate states) international coalition” policy? How will it look to the American people come early November? Or even late August?

“A Fingernail Scratch”

This story has been around for a while, but now it’s appearing in major newspapers. It will be interesting to see if it develops any legs. If so, it could take a lot of the wind out of Kerry’s “wounded in Vietnam” persona.

During the Vietnam War, Purple Hearts were often granted for minor wounds. “There were an awful lot of Purple Hearts–from shrapnel, some of those might have been M-40 grenades,” said George Elliott, who served as a commanding officer to Kerry during another point in his five-month combat tour in Vietnam. (Kerry earlier served a noncombat tour.) “The Purple Hearts were coming down in boxes.” Under Navy regulations, an enlistee or officer wounded three times was permitted to leave Vietnam early, as Kerry did. He received all three purple hearts for relatively minor injuries — two did not cost him a day of service and one took him out for a day or two…

…Back at the base, Kerry told Hibbard he qualified for a Purple Heart, according to Hibbard. Thirty-six years later, Hibbard, reached at his retirement home in Florida, said he can still recall Kerry’s wound, and that it resembled a scrape from a fingernail. “I’ve had thorns from a rose that were worse,” said Hibbard, a registered Republican who said he was undecided on the 2004 presidential race.

It has an appearance (at least to me) of a deliberate attempt to get a “million-dollar wound” that would get him home early, while burnishing his presidential credentials in a Navy gunboat, a la the original JFK. It’s certainly a better way of “maintaining his political viability” than Clinton, but it doesn’t look great, particularly considering that Max Cleland, who lost three limbs, didn’t get a Purple Heart at all (though apparently his injury wasn’t a direct result of combat).

“A Fingernail Scratch”

This story has been around for a while, but now it’s appearing in major newspapers. It will be interesting to see if it develops any legs. If so, it could take a lot of the wind out of Kerry’s “wounded in Vietnam” persona.

During the Vietnam War, Purple Hearts were often granted for minor wounds. “There were an awful lot of Purple Hearts–from shrapnel, some of those might have been M-40 grenades,” said George Elliott, who served as a commanding officer to Kerry during another point in his five-month combat tour in Vietnam. (Kerry earlier served a noncombat tour.) “The Purple Hearts were coming down in boxes.” Under Navy regulations, an enlistee or officer wounded three times was permitted to leave Vietnam early, as Kerry did. He received all three purple hearts for relatively minor injuries — two did not cost him a day of service and one took him out for a day or two…

…Back at the base, Kerry told Hibbard he qualified for a Purple Heart, according to Hibbard. Thirty-six years later, Hibbard, reached at his retirement home in Florida, said he can still recall Kerry’s wound, and that it resembled a scrape from a fingernail. “I’ve had thorns from a rose that were worse,” said Hibbard, a registered Republican who said he was undecided on the 2004 presidential race.

It has an appearance (at least to me) of a deliberate attempt to get a “million-dollar wound” that would get him home early, while burnishing his presidential credentials in a Navy gunboat, a la the original JFK. It’s certainly a better way of “maintaining his political viability” than Clinton, but it doesn’t look great, particularly considering that Max Cleland, who lost three limbs, didn’t get a Purple Heart at all (though apparently his injury wasn’t a direct result of combat).

“A Fingernail Scratch”

This story has been around for a while, but now it’s appearing in major newspapers. It will be interesting to see if it develops any legs. If so, it could take a lot of the wind out of Kerry’s “wounded in Vietnam” persona.

During the Vietnam War, Purple Hearts were often granted for minor wounds. “There were an awful lot of Purple Hearts–from shrapnel, some of those might have been M-40 grenades,” said George Elliott, who served as a commanding officer to Kerry during another point in his five-month combat tour in Vietnam. (Kerry earlier served a noncombat tour.) “The Purple Hearts were coming down in boxes.” Under Navy regulations, an enlistee or officer wounded three times was permitted to leave Vietnam early, as Kerry did. He received all three purple hearts for relatively minor injuries — two did not cost him a day of service and one took him out for a day or two…

…Back at the base, Kerry told Hibbard he qualified for a Purple Heart, according to Hibbard. Thirty-six years later, Hibbard, reached at his retirement home in Florida, said he can still recall Kerry’s wound, and that it resembled a scrape from a fingernail. “I’ve had thorns from a rose that were worse,” said Hibbard, a registered Republican who said he was undecided on the 2004 presidential race.

It has an appearance (at least to me) of a deliberate attempt to get a “million-dollar wound” that would get him home early, while burnishing his presidential credentials in a Navy gunboat, a la the original JFK. It’s certainly a better way of “maintaining his political viability” than Clinton, but it doesn’t look great, particularly considering that Max Cleland, who lost three limbs, didn’t get a Purple Heart at all (though apparently his injury wasn’t a direct result of combat).

The Whining Of The Jersey Girls

Yes, I’m tired of it, too.

This week, as last, there will be no lack of air time for the Jersey Four, or journalists ravenous for their views. CBS’s “The Early Show” yesterday brought a report from Monica Gabrielle, attesting that her husband might have escaped from the South Tower if the facts about the Aug. 6 “PDB” memo had been shared with the public. The saga of the widows can be expected to run on along entirely familiar lines. The only question of interest that remains is how Americans view the Jersey Four and company, and how long before they turn them off.

“Turn them off,” is exactly the right response, in my opinion.

“The Soft Bigotry Of Low Expectations”

That’s not the phrase that the president used tonight, but he could have, given that it’s one that he’s used effectively in other contexts.

Overall, I grade him a “B” and better than expected.

Worst moment: when asked why he and Cheney insisted on appearing together before the commission, he had no satisfactory answer. My politically-incorrect response: “Because this has shown itself to be a partisan witchhunt rather than an investigation into how 911 occurred, which was its stated charter. There is safety in numbers.”

But there’s truly no good explanation for that.

Best moment: when he chastised those who thought that Iraqis couldn’t build a democracy because they had the wrong skin color.

He went some distance toward explaining “why Iraq,” but not sufficiently so to silence the critics, particularly since he can’t tell the whole story for continuing diplomatic reasons.

I don’t know if this helps or harms in the short run, but in general it gives me confidence for the upcoming presidential debates this fall.

“The Soft Bigotry Of Low Expectations”

That’s not the phrase that the president used tonight, but he could have, given that it’s one that he’s used effectively in other contexts.

Overall, I grade him a “B” and better than expected.

Worst moment: when asked why he and Cheney insisted on appearing together before the commission, he had no satisfactory answer. My politically-incorrect response: “Because this has shown itself to be a partisan witchhunt rather than an investigation into how 911 occurred, which was its stated charter. There is safety in numbers.”

But there’s truly no good explanation for that.

Best moment: when he chastised those who thought that Iraqis couldn’t build a democracy because they had the wrong skin color.

He went some distance toward explaining “why Iraq,” but not sufficiently so to silence the critics, particularly since he can’t tell the whole story for continuing diplomatic reasons.

I don’t know if this helps or harms in the short run, but in general it gives me confidence for the upcoming presidential debates this fall.