Just The Facts

Facts are the foundation of a free society

Thursday, January 15, 2004

Spicoli Goes To Iraq

I’ll admit it. When I first saw the blurb on the San Francisco Chronicle today noting that Sean “Spicoli” Penn had been given space in the paper to report on his latest adventures in Baghdad-By-The Desert, (as opposed to Herb Caen’s Baghdad By The Bay,) I did what any normal, red-blooded American male would do. I laughed, shook my head, and mused about the Chronicle being a mouthpiece for self indulgent, anti-Bush celebrities who have no sense and no perspective about good and evil.

Then I took the time to read his article.

Guess what, while it is does exhibit an inordinate amount of Sean, it also is a thoughtful, honest and, ultimately, positive report Iraq. Believe me when I tell you, I am surprised. Really, can you think of a worse combination than the Chronicle and Sean Penn? (I guess maybe the Chronicle and Madonna or Rosie O’Donnell, or Sharon Stone and the Chronicle!)

I’m not going to go over the whole article, that’s one of the wonders of the blog – you can do that for yourself and make up your own mind, but I will say this. I was impressed by a number of points he made. I especially liked his comments about his family’s reaction to his announcement that he was going back to Baghdad. His wife and daughter just rolled their eyes, just as mine would have. His son’s was more poignant and touching. Very real and personal, much like his acting.

His commentary about Iraq was not the expected rant against Bush and the US. Instead, I found it to be informative and reasoned. All in all, a good read.

I must also admit that I do respect that he is not afraid to spend his money in support of his beliefs. While I thought the two full-page newspaper ads he bought last year were puerile and simplistic, I admired the notion that he cared enough about his beliefs, misguided as I think they are, to spend a fair amount of his own change.

Read his reports in the Chronicle. We probably disagree about every political issue you can imagine. But he seems like a good husband and a caring father and a thoughtful person. I think that Sean Penn is a fine American. I’m glad our society produces people like him. And, he’s a hell of an actor.

Sunday, January 11, 2004

A Terrible Quagmire, I Tell You!

Quagmire. It’s an adjective used almost to the exclusion of all others whenever Democrats, Frenchies and NYT writers, except for John Burns, alphabet news media (ABC, CBS, NBS, NPR, etc) and most other mainstream media types when describing US efforts in Iraq.

You know the meme: “Why can’t Bush and Halliburton, Vice President Cheney’s former company, get anything done over there? What a quagmire! Just like Viet Nam, which, by the way, if the Texas right wingers hadn’t killed him, JFK would have pulled us out of there as soon as he dumped Lyndon Johnson and made Adalai Stevenson his VP after he raised taxes and fed the poor.”

As usual, they ignore anything good that’s happening.

Did you know that since May 1, 2004 these things have happened in Iraq:

Since May 1...the first battalion of the new Iraqi Army has graduated and is on active duty*

Since May 1... over 60,000 Iraqis now provide security to their fellow citizens.

Since May 1...nearly all of Iraq's 400 courts are functioning.

Since May 1... the Iraqi judiciary is fully independent.

Since May 1...on Monday, October 6 power generation hit 4,518 megawatts exceeding the pre-war average.

Since May 1...all 22 universities and 43 technical institutes and colleges
are open, as are nearly all primary and secondary schools.

Since May 1... as of October 1, Coalition forces had rehabbed over 1,500 schools - 500 more than their target.

Since May 1... teachers earn from 12 to 25 times their former salaries.

Since May 1...all 240 hospitals and more than 1200 clinics are open.

Since May 1...doctors' salaries are at least eight times what they were under Saddam.

Since May 1...pharmaceutical distribution has gone from essentially nothing to 700 tons in May to a current total of 12,000 tons.

Since May 1...the Coalition has helped administer over 22 million vaccinations doses to Iraq's children.

Since May 1...a Coalition program has cleared over 14,000 kilometers of Iraq's 27,000 kilometers of weed-choked canals. They now irrigate tens of thousands of farms. This project has created jobs for more than 100,000 Iraqi men and women.

Since May 1...we have restored over three-quarters of pre-war telephone services and over two-thirds of the potable water production.

Since May 1... there are 4,900 full-service connections. We expect 50,000 by January first.

Since May 1...the wheels of commerce are turning. From bicycles to satellite dishes to cars and trucks, businesses are coming to life in all major cities and towns.

Since May 1...95 percent of all pre-war bank customers have service and first-time customers are opening accounts daily.

Since May 1... Iraqi banks are making loans to finance businesses.

Since May 1...the central bank is fully independent.

Since May 1... Iraq has some of the world's most growth-oriented investment and banking laws.

Since May 1... Iraq (has) a single, unified currency for the first time in 15 years

Not bad for a quagmire, huh?

Saturday, January 10, 2004

Administration Had Plans To Oust Saddam Before 9/11

Big news, my readers. The President of the United States developed a policy to oust Saddam Hussein BEFORE 9/11! This is really big and I’ve got the document to prove that the President’s official policy, well before 9/11, was for regime change in Iraq.

Read it. And remember it when the alphabets and the chattering classes talk about the fired Secretary of the Treasury Paul O’Neill’s new book in which he claims that the President began to develop contingency plans to oust Hussein before 9/11. Read the document.

Read what else the President had to say about regime change in Iraq before 9/11.

UPDATE: Several readers note that Bill Clinton in fact signed into law H.R. 4655, the "Iraq Liberation Act of 1998." As Clinton said when he signed it:

The United States favors an Iraq that offers its people freedom at home. I categorically reject arguments that this is unattainable due to Iraq's history or its ethnic or sectarian make-up. Iraqis deserve and desire freedom like everyone else. The United States looks forward to a democratically supported regime that would permit us to enter into a dialogue leading to the reintegration of Iraq into normal international life.

Fortunately, this Clinton Administration policy is finally bearing fruit! And what's interesting is that the Clinton signing statement linked above places freedom and democracy for Iraq, coupled with an end to Saddam's crimes against humanity, at the top of the priority list, and only then adds:

There are, of course, other important elements of U.S. policy. These include the maintenance of U.N. Security Council support efforts to eliminate Iraq's weapons and missile programs and economic sanctions that continue to deny the regime the means to reconstitute those threats to international peace and security. United States support for the Iraqi opposition will be carried out consistent with those policy objectives as well.

Me, Bush, and Clinton: all agreed on proper policy toward Iraq! Who knew that Clinton had drunk the Wolfowitz Kool-aid?

Thanks to Instapundit for this information.

DAY 7 Charity Held Hostage

Still no response from Ruth Rosen. She must be checking her sources!

Charity Held Hostage, Day Number Six

By the way, this is day number six that Ruth Rosen has not collected $100.00 for her favorite charity. Come on, Ruth! All you have to do is cite sources for your quotes. You have them, don't you?

The More Things Change, The More They Remain The Same

One of the most prevalent charges by our friends in the Democrat party, along with their French allies, is that President Bush is guilty of being a “unilateralist.” As with many of the statements made by the anti-Bush crowd, this one defies logic or common sense.

The meaning of unilateral, according to dictionary.com is “Obligating only one of two or more parties, nations, or persons, as a contract or an agreement.” Simply stated, the charge against the Cowboy President is that he moved, by himself, against Afghanistan and Iraq and ignored any other nation.

I know that I am not as erudite as the geniuses at the UN or Brookings, but I have always believed that Great Britain is a sovereign nation. Same with Australia, Spain, Italy, Poland and the more than 45 other sovereign nations that have participated in our war against Iraq.

So while critics of the war might cite a number of reasons for opposing it, (you know the ones, Halliburton making gazillions, even though the contract was let under Clinton; we’re stealing the oil, even though we are paying for the oil; lying about WMD, even though Clinton {to his credit} continues to say that he believes Iraq had WMD,) taking unilateral action can’t possiblly be one of the reasons to oppose the war. Can it? Or can we only go to war if we have the permission of the French government? Think for a moment: With their record would you trust your defense to the French?

This isn’t the first time the charge that we acted unilaterally was made against the US. The brilliant Victor Davis Hanson, in the NRO article, points out another instance when the US acted “unilaterally.” Where we correct then?

You decide.

Wednesday, January 07, 2004

No Bias Here.

One of the most common points of contention between conservatives and liberals is the conservative's contention that news reporting is hopelessly biased in favor of democrats and liberals. But wait a minute, say our good, liberal friends, "What about Limbaugh, O'Reilly, Debra Saunders and Sean Hannity?" they say. “Why, the airwaves are overrun with angry, white, conservatives, spouting off their racist, misogynist, anti-child, anti-family, anti-undocumented worker, anti-gay, lesbian, transgender, anti-differently abled, anti-Muslim, anti-sensitive-to-perfume, anti-druid, anti-French venom. And it just proves there is no bias.” Then they are off to Howard Dean rallies where they can talk about how Bush has screwed up Iraq and Afghanistan by freeing 50 million people and that the only reason Khaddfy caved was ‘cuz he was afraid that Al Sharpton might get elected and wear weirder clothes than he does.

Actually, that’s not what conservative mean when they talk about bias in the way news is reported. Sure, Limbaugh, et al, are opinionated. That’s their job. Just as it is Robert Scheer’s, Paul Krugman’s, Michael Kinsley, et al. They are not bound by the obligation to present a balanced story. Reporters are.

Here’s a link to the SF Chronicle’s story on Gov. Arnold’s State of the State speech last night. Please note that the reporters did not go to a single Republican legislator to get a comment on Arnold’s speech. (Interestingly, the on-line story did quote Kim Belshe, a republican cabinet member. The print version didn’t even quote her.)

So tell me, do you think conservatives have any cause for worry that maybe the Chronicle doesn’t give Republicans a fair shot in NEWS coverage? By the way, in covering last year’s Gray Davis State of the State speech, the Chronicle quoted three Dems and two Reps, so apparently when a Democrat speaks, it’s OK to be balanced. What do you think?

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

You Think O'Hare On A Friday Afternoon Is Bad?

Andrew Sullivan points out this marvelous example of a Brit obit.


The Good Doctor

Thomas Sowell has a terrific article in the Townhall today about today’s journalists and their confusion about the difference between “objectivity” and “neutrality.” His lede is that the BBC has banned the use of the term ex-dictator when referring to Saddam Hussein! His point that one can be objective without being neutral is one that many journalists, and much of the chattering class, just don’t understand. Example, Osmaa Bin Laden is a murdering terrorist. That is an objective statement but it certainly isn’t neutral.

It also brings up the little question of what is objective truth and how we deal with it. The estimable William Langewiesche wrote a wonderful article in The Atlantic Monthly about EgyptAir flight 990, the one that the co-pilot crashed into the Atlantic Ocean on Halloween, 1999. The article, while it does go into many of the details of the crash, is very clear that the aftermath of the crash and the investigation by our NTSB was an example in the difference between a western culture that generally looks at truth as objective and a Muslim culture that oft-times denies reality. For example, Saddam erected a great mosque and museum in Baghdad after the 1991 Gulf War celebrating Iraq’s glorious victory over the US led coalition! This failure to acknowledge reality is one of the reasons we westerners have such a hard time understanding what goes on in many Islamic cultures.

By the way, today is Day Number 3 that Ruth Rosen has left $100.00 on the table for her favorite charity. I guess her story contradicts my comment about the western quest for objective truth!

Monday, January 05, 2004

The "S" Factor

Finally, a brilliant contributor to the Seattle P-I has explained why I like George Bush. It’s ‘cuz I’m stupid!

Sunday, January 04, 2004

A Soldier's Pride

The following "Letter to the Editor" was taken from the Great Falls Tribune
on Monday, 29 December 2003. This young hero has said it best.

Don't write your congressman to try to get your sons out of here. I want to be here. This is why I want to be a Ranger, why I am Airborne, why I want to be Special Forces. I want to fight then in their home, not mine. I want to bring this fight to their doorstep while they eat dinner. I want them to drive down the road wondering when I am going to strike. For the rest of their lives, I want my voice, anger and sadness - all of my emotions - to echo through their souls. I want them to question why they do this to us and their own people.

I understand now when someone quoted, "To fight a devil, you must become a devil yourself." And I understand that once I step from the breach, I must remember who I am, and for whom I do this.

I remember my drill sergeant once saying, "one civilian dies, and
thousands of soldiers go to war. One soldier dies, and it's a 30-second news flash on CNN." We proudly do our job so other won't have to; and we will never ask our country for return.

Right now, I am proud to be a solider of the United States Army. I have an undying respect for the millions of soldiers throughout history who have died for the same reason I fight today. You are lost but never forgotten.

PFC Luke Volkomener
82nd Airborne Division 12 Bravo
(Combat Engineer), Iraq

Saturday, January 03, 2004

Here’s a great piece by one of the finest writers and thinkers around, Victor Davis Hanson. It is simply superb.

I had a great conversation yesterday. I spoke with Sgt Roy Mitchell, a US Army soldier just returned from duty in Iraq. I called the young Sergeant, to chat with him and, on behalf of my family, thank him for his service to our county. He spent the majority of our conversation asking about my family, how they had celebrated Christmas and how they were doing. He also spoke about his eagerness to get back up to his unit at Ft. Drum, NY and how proud he was of the unit and the work they had done in Iraq. He thanked me for calling him and wished me well.

Some things to note about Sgt Mitchell: He is a patient at Walter Reed Army Hospital rehabilitating from wounds he received defending our freedom in Iraq. He never mentioned his wounds (loss of one leg; serious burns and numerous shrapnel wounds.) He told me that the doctors and staff at Walter Reed where “the best” and that the treatment he was receiving was “great.” He was confident that he would get back to his unit. He never uttered a single complaint or whined about what happened to him. In fact, he spent the majority of time asking me, a person he had never talked to you, about my family and me! In those wonderful words at the end of the movie, “The Bridges at Toko Ri, “Where do we get such men?” Remember Sgt Roy Mitchell

Still no reply from Ruth Rosen at the Chronicle. Apparently, she doesn’t believe her favorite charity is worthy of a no strings $100 donation! So here’s what I’m going to do: Let’s keep a count of the number of days that Ms. Rosen refuses to respond to my request for facts to back up her charges. Perhaps as the days mount, her ability to do research will improve and she’ll finally be able to earn $100.00 for her favorite charity.

Friday, January 02, 2004

It’s time. The revolution can’t go any farther without me. Bloggers are the new pamphleteers, the direct descendents of Patrick Henry and Ben Franklin. (As well as Ropespierre and Martin Luther. I guess.) This blog, Just The Facts will, as the name states, present facts. It will present accurate information that refutes the factual mistakes made by the leading newspapers and media outlets in their almost pathological crusade to defeat George Bush and denigrate conservatives.

My first post was back in June, a day or so after the Raine(s) of Howell was over at the NYT. I've been wildly celebrating that so long and hard, that I haven’t been able to get back to blogging until today! (Not really, but it sounds good.) Apparently, with today’s news that another NYT writer made up a story, this time about Michael Jackson, the change from Raines to Keller doesn’t seem to have made much of a difference at “The Paper of Record.”

So the first post in the second iteration of my blog is an e-mail to the SF Chronicle columnist Ruth Rosen. Ms. Rosen is a typical Chron columnist in that she hates George Buss and is not going to allow facts to get in the way of a good whine. Here’s one of the paragraphs from Ms. Rosen in her January 1st article:

>“These are some of the more egregious lies promoted by our government

We needed to invade Iraq because Saddam Hussein had tried to purchase uranium from Niger,.. and posed an imminent threat to this country

As virtually everyone who actually listens or reads knows, President Bush NEVER said that Iraq was an “imminent threat” to the US. In fact, in his 2003 State of the Union speech he said just the opposite:

"Some have said we must not act until the threat is imminent. Since when have terrorists and tyrants announced their intentions, politely putting us on notice before they strike? If this threat is permitted to fully and suddenly emerge, all actions, all words, and all recriminations would come too late."

So, as I did with Chronicle columnist Joan Ryan who repeated the same meme, I sent Ms. Rosen the following e-mail:

Ms. Rosen,

As a columnist you have every right to promulgate your opinions about whatever you wish. That's your job. As a journalist, you also have a responsibility to present accurate information about how you form your opinions.

As such, I am going to make you an offer: I will make a donation of $100.00 to your favorite charity if you can provide any factual evidence that supports two specific statements you made in your column today:

These are some of the more egregious lies promoted by our government

We needed to invade Iraq because Saddam Hussein had tried to purchase uranium from Niger,.. and posed an imminent threat to this country

If you can find one instance wherein the President of the United States said that Saddam Hussein posed an imminent threat to the US or if you can provide one instance where the president of the United States said that Saddam Hussein tried to purchase uranium from Niger I will donate $100.00 to any charity of your choosing. Simple, no questions asked. You show me where the President said either of those things and your favorite charity gets a donation.

Will do?

Further, I will agree with you that elected officials have said that Saddam possessed weapons of mass destruction. In fact, I'll make it easy for you to back up your your allegation. Here are some pertinent quotes

b"Saddam’s existing biological and chemical weapons capabilities pose a very real threat to America, now. Saddam has used chemical weapons before, both against Iraq’s enemies and against his own people. He is working to develop delivery systems like missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles that could bring these deadly weapons against U.S. forces and U.S. facilities in the Middle East." -- John Rockefeller, Oct 10, 2002

Was he lying?

How about this statement:

"I will be voting to give the president of the United States the authority to use force - if necessary - to disarm Saddam Hussein because I believe that a deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in his hands is a real and grave threat to our security." -- John F. Kerry, Oct 2002

Another lie?

So what do you say, Ms. Rosen? You must have based your column on some research, right? I mean you just wouldn't make it up out of whole cloth, would you?

So, here's a way to make your favorite charity $100.00. Just show me where the President said that Saddam's threat was "imminent," (your word) or that Hussein tried to get uranium from Niger (a specific country) and I'll donate $100.00.

And if you maintain that the administration lied about WMD, will you also mention that democrats from Kerry to Clinton (both) to Pelosi to Rockefeller all acknowledged that Hussein possessed WMDs?

If you are a responsible journalist, you owe it to your readers to be accurate. If you're just a shill for the democrats, than I guess I won't be hearing from you.

Your choice.

As of this afternoon, January 2, at 2:30 PM, I haven’t heard from her. Somehow I expect I won’t!

More later