Tuesday, August 31, 2004

The Twilight of Atheism

Evangelical Outpost brings word that one of the most famous contemporary atheistic philosophers, Antony Flew, is apparently moving away from atheism toward some sort of deism.

Joe Carter explains the significance of the move:

So why does it matter that a retired philosopher is abandoning atheism for a Spinozian deism? The main reason is that few philosophers have thought longer or harder about atheism than Flew. When someone of his stature gives up the "faith" then it appears that we truly have entered what Alister McGrath refers to as "the twilight of atheism."

One shouldn't make too much of a single instance of a repudiation of atheism, if that's indeed what Flew is doing, but perhaps it isn't premature to suggest that naturalism, the view that nature is all there is, is in the early stages of terminal exhaustion. There are many atheists who will never give up the cause, of course, but there seem to be many others who are coming to realize that any view of life that leads to moral, epistemological, and metaphysical nihilism (see here, for example) is left with very little to commend it. When adherents of that same view find that it is also unable to offer a plausible explanation for the astonishing fine tuning of the universe, or a compelling explanation for the ubiquity on this planet of biological information, or any explanation at all for the existence of consciousness, they tend to become intellectually and spiritually restless.

Few people actually want to believe the things one is logically compelled to believe if he is an atheist, which is why most atheists don't follow their atheism to its logical conclusions. Some are beginning to realize, evidently, that there is something amiss with a worldview whose entailments are so repugnant to the human spirit. They're saying, like Flew, that we can no longer remain bound to the shibboleths of the nineteenth century but rather we need to go wherever the argument leads. For some (who knows how many) the argument is leading away from the sterile, arid deserts of naturalism to something brighter, richer, and more fertile.

It'll be interesting to trace this cultural development throughout the coming years. It may amount to nothing much, but on the other hand it may well presage a spiritual revolution.

Monday, August 30, 2004

Ninth Installment of Good News From Iraq

Don't miss Arthur Chrenkoff's ninth installment of Good News From Iraq. There's much cause for concern, of course, but much more cause for satisfaction and even rejoicing. When one reads what the United States is doing to bring the Iraqi people into the modern world it really does make one proud to be an American.

Bush's opponents want to challenge his foreign policy. They want to hammer him with the question "What have you actually accomplished in your four years as president?" This seems to me to be the most myopic of questions. George Bush has in three years liberated 50 million people from oppression and tyranny, and has perhaps eased the oppression on millions more through the subsequent ripple effect of his toughness. No president in history has accomplished more good for more people in the face of more criticism, except perhaps Ronald Reagan whose campaign against Soviet tyranny eventually resulted in several hundred million people being freed from the nightmare of communist totalitarianism.

If Bush hadn't gone to war in Afghanistan millions of people would still be groaning under the horribly cruel oppression of the Taliban, millions of women would still be treated like chattel, and terrorists would still have safe haven there. If he hadn't taken us to war in Iraq, the sanctions would still be in effect, and tens of thousands of Iraqis would be suffering the deprivations imposed by Saddam's misuse of the resources Iraq received under those sanctions. Tens of thousands more would have been tortured and/or murdered in the past year, and millions more would still be living in abject fear and crushing poverty.

History will show Bush's initiatives in Afghanistan and Iraq to be an unprecedented humanitarian endeavor, and as Rudy Guiliani said in his speech tonight at the Republican convention, whatever happens in the November election, George Bush has established himself as a truly great president. He has used American power and wealth to accomplish an amazing amount of good in that part of the world.

Now comes a television ad that criticizes Bush for spending too much of our resources on the Iraqis. This is certainly a strange criticism for the left to make. We have so much in this country and the Iraqis have so little, yet these putative champions of the poor and downtrodden are complaining because Bush is spending too much on them and not enough on us. With friends like these the world's poor need no more enemies.

The New Soldier

The controversial book compiled by John Kerry in the early seventies and which has subsequently almost disappeared from libraries and book stores can be read here. The book is called The New Soldier and is strongly anti-war. This in itself is unexceptional, but there are some things in the book which Senator Kerry apparently would rather not have publicized during the present election.

Chief among these, in our view, is his 1971 Senate testimony wherein he calls the Vietnam war "the biggest nothing in history." He also avers that "there is nothing in South Vietnam which could happen that realistically threatens the United States of America. And to attempt to justify the loss of one American life in Vietnam, Cambodia or Laos by linking such loss to the preservation of freedom...is to us the height of criminal hypocrisy."

Now these were, and are, legitimate opinions which good people may debate, but the problem they present for Kerry is that he has stated repeatedly throughout the current campaign that he "fought to defend this country as a young man," but, as the above quotes make plain, as a young man he evidently didn't see what he was doing as in any sense fighting for America. Quite the contrary.

His insistence now that his military service then was rendered for the defense of his country strikes us as patently false. The possibility that he is telling the truth, both then and now, about his convictions doesn't seem even remotely realistic unless the law of non-contradiction has somehow been suspended. Taken together with all of his other statements about his service which have come under question in recent weeks, some of which he himself has recently recanted, the picture we're getting of Senator Kerry is that of a man who is either delusional, grossly dishonest, or seriously confused. It doesn't much matter which it is, he's not presidential timber.

Sunday, August 29, 2004

In the Absence of God

A couple of days ago Viewpoint posted a piece titled The Devil's Chaplain about Richard Dawkins, the well-known British biologist and anti-theist. Dawkins, we pointed out, finds it difficult, if not impossible, to live consistently with his atheism, denying the existence of God but living his political life as if there really were a transcendent moral law-giver.

I once heard someone say that the only real difference between a theist and an atheist is that the theist gets up and goes to church on Sunday whereas the atheist sleeps in. The remark was meant to be taken only half-seriously but the tongue-in-cheek delivery masked an attitude that is not uncommon among atheists. The feeling is that the benefits of theism are either bogus (e.g. eternal life) or that they (e.g. morality) can be had by the atheist without all the strictures of religious dogma. The Dawkins piece shows, I think, that this is deeply mistaken.

Whether there is a God or not is not some minor question, like whether there is a tenth planet at the edge of the solar system, which really makes no practical difference in our lives. The question of God's existence has the most far-reaching ramifications, not just for eternity, but for this life here and now, of any question we could possibly encounter in life. It makes an immeasurable difference whether God exists or not. To understand why, consider the logical implications of assuming that he does not exist.

First, let's stipulate that the world is, to borrow a term from the existentialist vernacular, absurd. That is to say that the world as it is is incompatible with man as he is. Both the theist and atheist can agree on this. Each of us is a complex bundle of yearnings and needs all of which must go unfulfilled and unsatisfied in a world without God. It is only if there is a God that the problem posed by the world's absurdity can ultimately be resolved.

Consider ten reasons why this is true:

1)As human beings we long to ground morality in something more solid than our own subjective preferences, but in the absence of God there is nothing else. Morality is whatever feels right to the individual. This leads to a might makes right egoism, either on the level of the individual or at the level of the state. In either case, whatever the individual does is not morally right or wrong; it just is. Likewise, whatever the state does is not morally right or wrong, even if it commits torture or genocide, it just is. In other words, in the absence of God morality is either arbitrary and subjective, or it doesn't exist at all.

2)As human beings we seek to base our notion of human rights in something beyond our own prejudices, but in the absence of God there is nothing to sustain those rights. We have the right to life and liberty because we are the children of the Creator of the universe and He has invested those rights in us. If there is no creator then there are no human rights, just arbitrary rules some people agree to follow but which could easily be revoked since they're merely words on paper.

3)As human beings we have a deep longing for justice. We want to see good rewarded and evil punished. Our hearts break when evil appears to triumph over good, but it's the common human experience that many good people live lives of terrible fear, pain and grief, and then they die. Meanwhile, many who were the cause of that suffering die peacefully and content after a long life of pleasure. In the absence of God there is no ultimate justice. Everybody dies in the end, and there's no reward or punishment, just nothingness.

4)As human beings we strongly desire union with our loved ones. The more we love someone the more closely we wish to be united with that person on every level of our being. Yet we are alienated, separated from them. No matter how close we are we can never achieve that complete oneness we desire. The other is always "other". This alienation holds not only in our relationships with other people but also in our love for the earth and the realm of nature. In nature we are always an outsider. We are foreign, alien, no matter how much we might long for it to be otherwise. In the absence of God, it will always be thus until the day of our death.

5)As human beings we want answers to life's deepest, most perplexing questions, but in the absence of God there are no answers, there's no certainty about anything that matters, except that we'll eventually die. We shout the "why" questions of human existence at the vast void of the cosmos - why am I here, why do we suffer, why do we want from life what we can't have - but there's no reply, only silence.

6)As human beings we crave meaning and purpose for our lives. We can't bear living a life we know to be pointless and insignificant, but death nullifies everything and renders it nugatory. In the absence of God there is no purpose or value to anything we do. Some day the earth will burn up in a solar explosion and there'll be not a trace that humans once existed. What will all of our striving matter then? Everything we do is just a footprint in the sand at the edge of the surf of space-time. Eventually all trace of our lives will be washed away as though we were never here.

7)As human beings we long for peace, but throughout the history of mankind there's been nothing but conflict - conflict between individuals and conflict between nations. When the Berlin wall fell some thought conflict was at an end. There would be no more war, hot or cold. Few foresaw the rise of Islamo-fascism and the beginning of the modern struggle to convert the entire world to Islam. This struggle will last until either radical Islam dies out or Christianity, and every Christian, is dead. In the absence of God there is little basis for hope that someday there will be a lasting peace in the world.

8)As human beings we need a sense of dignity, but modern science tells us that we are little more than flesh and bone machines. There is no soul, there is nothing about us that makes us much different than any other mammal. We are more intelligent, of course, but that only makes the difference between us and a cow about the same as the difference between a cow and a trout. In the absence of God there's no reason why someone who has the power should not use it to manipulate and exploit us like the farmer exploits his cattle for his own purposes, slaughtering them when he can profit from doing so. The universe tells us we're nothing but "dust in the wind" and there's no dignity in that.

9)As human beings we yearn to live and yet we know we're going to die. In the absence of God, the fate of each of us is annihilation. There's no basis for hope that loved ones we've lost still somehow exist or that we'll ever see them again. There's no consolation for the bereaved, no salve for grief. Many face this bravely, of course, but, if they're reflective, their bravery must serve to mask an inner despair.

10)As human beings we all strive for happiness. In the absence of God it's perhaps the only thing about life that makes it endurable. Yet happiness is elusive. The world is full of misery. Even if our own lives are free of the afflictions which plague most of those who've ever been born on this planet we're confronted with the irony that we can only be happy ourselves if we cease to care about others. It is at best unseemly, in the shadow of the awful anguish, pain, sorrow, tragedy, and other misfortunes which routinely occur in our communities to declare that "even so, I'm happy". To care about others is to identify with them in their suffering, and it's hard to imagine how an empathetic person can be happy in a world of so much sadness. The paradox is that in the absence of God the only person who can achieve happiness is the person who can shut out the cries of his neighbor and turn inward upon himself.

If the theist is correct, however, then all of this changes. We can find happiness in knowing that the tragic condition of the world and of our lives is only temporary, that death is not the end and that a beautiful future lies ahead. If God exists then we can assume that He made us for a reason, that there is, therefore, a purpose to existence and that we have dignity and inalienable rights as human beings because we are made in the image of God and loved by Him. If God exists then there is a transcendent moral authority which will ultimately mete out justice and who provides us in this life an objective standard upon which to base moral judgment. If God exists there is a basis for hope.

The atheist, if he's consistent with his assumption that there is no God, finds himself in a world which is completely at odds in almost every important way with the structure of his own psyche. He finds himself inexplicably out of synch with his world. He is alone, forlorn, abandoned in an empty, unfeeling universe that offers no solace nor hope that there might be meaning, morality, justice, dignity, peace, and solutions to the riddles of existence. The atheist lives without hope that any of the most profound yearnings of our hearts and minds can ever be fulfilled.

It's possible of course, that he is correct, that this is just the way things are, and we should simply make the best of a very bad situation. It's possible, but surely the atheist should hope that he's mistaken. It's incomprehensible that some, like philosopher Thomas Nagel, for instance, actually hope that there is no God. This is tantamount to hoping, bizarrely enough, that life really is a meaningless, senseless, absurd joke. Nagel says in his book The Last Word:

"I want atheism to be true and am made uneasy by the fact that some of the most intelligent and well-informed people I know are religious believers. It isn't just that I don't believe in God and, naturally, hope that I'm right in my belief. It's that I hope there is no God! I don't want there to be a God; I don't want the universe to be like that."

Nagel's ability to see his motivations clearly is uncommon, but his honesty and insight are little compensation for the profound sadness one feels at what he finds in his own heart. How anyone can actually want the universe to be the sort of place where meaning, morality, justice and all the rest are vain illusions, is very difficult to understand.

Saturday, August 28, 2004

Government Trust Part II

My last post was totally influenced by my outrage of the statements from the Chairman of the Federal Reserve regarding Social Security and Medicare and I failed to follow through with an alternative recommendation or solution. Business 101 tells us if you declare a problem, you should offer a solution.

With that in mind, let's get one thing clear. The government has no business tinkering with things in the social arena. All you have to do to understand the previous statement is to look at the Social Security debacle. And if you can't see that clearly, then ask yourself why all members of the United States Congress don't pay into Social Security. In fact, they have their own plan that, upon retirement, pays them 100% of their salaries with complete health benefits after they retire. You, the tax payer pick up the tab. Isn't that nice?

Meanwhile, it is those very same congressmen that have robbed the funds from the Social Security program to pay for other programs and replaced them with I.O.U.s And now we're being told that the program will have to be "recalibrated".

All ranting aside, there can be no way any thinking person can believe that the Social Security program should ever have existed. It's a classical example of socialism gone wrong. It has sucked earnings from hard working Americans through their entire working lifetime and given it to others. Now when those very same Americans are coming to the time when they will need to rely on those same benefits, they will be told "Sorry, the system has been "recalibrated" and you can't collect for another 5, 10, or 20 years." Where is the outrage?!

The Bush plan to privatize Social Security is a non-starter. Redirecting contributions into the stock market will only enrich the brokerage firms of Wall Street and distort the markets in the process. More importantly, it fails to address the issue that the government has no right to take these funds from Americans in the first place. Why won't they give Americans the freedom to invest for their own future?

I see only one possible solution to the problem. First, the government must realize that they aren't in the "social" business. (Extremely unlikely given the almighty vote.) Next, they need to commit to grandfather the program out of existence. For example, if you are 60 years old, you get 90% of the benefits. If your 55 years old you get 75% of the benefits. And if you are 16 and are working your first job you pay nothing because you'll get nothing..

The problem is that, as I understand it, the system is truly broke in that it has only I.O.U.s from the government so the above plan simply can't be implemented. I'd like to offer a solution but, in fact, there is none.

In closing, I maintain you have been lied to by your government. Your only recourse is to:

1. Forget about the government taking care of you. It won't, it can't, and in my opinion, it shouldn't even try.
2. Get out of debt as soon as possible. Debt is slavery and the sooner you are out of it the sooner you are free.
3. Hedge against the government's proclivity to devalue the dollar through inflation by acquiring assets that have demonstrated an ability to maintain true value independently of the dollar.

Good luck.

Karma Chameleon 2004

The current campaign offers some fascinating irony. In order to get George Bush out of office, the left will abandon its principles and vote in overwhelming numbers for a man who has admitted to being a war criminal but who is running as a war hero. This might be a little understandable if he had at some point repented of his crimes and/or repudiated his war service, but Senator Kerry has actually done neither of these. In fact, when asked about how he would have handled the current situation in Iraq the only discernable distinction he offers between what he would have done and what George Bush actually did was to try a little harder to get France and Germany to help us.

The irony is especially acute when we consider the circumstance of the Christian left which is largely pacifistic and for whom morality, particularly concerning life issues, plays a significant role in forming political judgments. Not only does it turn out that Senator Kerry offers these people scant hope on the war questions, he is also very strongly in favor of abortion rights and embryonic stem cell research. He is ambiguous on capital punishment, as on most issues, and has repeatedly shown himself willing to say whatever he thinks his audience wants to hear on almost every matter he discusses. His performance at the DNC was the paradigmatic example of this, as he stood at the podium and all but sang the lyric from Boy George's Karma Chameleon:

"I'm a man without conviction, I'm a man who doesn't know, how to tell a contradiction, I come and go, I come and go."

Nevertheless, many Christian leftists, pacifists, and "seamless garment" advocates, rather than hold firm to their principles and abstain from voting for either presidential candidate, will, it seems, abandon those principles and vote for a man who opposes almost everything they claim to stand for, or who is at best unclear and unreliable about those issues the Christian left holds dear. If they do endorse and/or vote for Senator Kerry, however, they will lose, perhaps for decades, whatever moral credibility and authority they presently possess.

Friday, August 27, 2004

Government Trust

I don't post on the main page of viewpoint regularly as I feel I don't have that much to say that others would be interested in reading but recent developments have occurred that compel me to speak out.

Specifically, the Chairman of the Federal Reserve, Dr. Alan Greenspan, believes it's time, once again, to declare the need to "trim" the social security and medicare benefits for the baby boomer generation. See: Yahoo news

From the link above: "Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said Friday the country will face "abrupt and painful" choices unless Congress acts quickly to trim Social Security and Medicare benefits for the baby boom generation. He said the government has promised more than it can deliver."

The full text of the Chairman's speech can be read at:

Greenspan speach

Notable statements from the link above are:

"Early initiatives to address the economic effects of baby-boom retirements could smooth the transition to a new balance between workers and retirees. As a nation, we owe it to our retirees to promise only the benefits that can be delivered. If we have promised more than our economy has the ability to deliver to retirees without unduly diminishing real income gains of workers, as I fear we may have, we must recalibrate our public programs so that pending retirees have time to adjust through other channels. If we delay, the adjustments could be abrupt and painful. Because curbing benefits once bestowed has proved so difficult in the past, fiscal policymakers must be especially vigilant to create new benefits only when their sustainability under the most adverse projections is virtually ensured."

I particularly like the statements "Early initiatives" which translates into "the sooner we screw these people, the better off we'll be". As well as the statement: "we must recalibrate our public programs". He doesn't mention the fact that, for all their lives, people have paid into these programs, yet, by somebody's decree, the programs will be "recalibrated".

And this statement:

Aside from the comparatively lesser depth of required adjustment, our open labor markets should respond more easily to the changing needs and abilities of our population; our capital markets should allow for the creation and rapid adoption of new labor-saving technologies, and our open society should be receptive to immigrants. These supports should help us adjust to the inexorabilities of an aging population. Nonetheless, tough policy choices lie ahead.

And here's another subtle message: "and our open society should be receptive to immigrants". So we, as a nation, are going to rely on immigrants to bail us out simply because our government has mismanaged the programs to which all of the American citizens have contributed during their entire working lives. And I can't help but wonder why we need immigrants with thousands of Americans out of work.

Juxtaposed with this latest development is this article from Steven Roach of Morgan Stanley. From the link:

Saving is the sustenance of long-term growth for any economy. And yet America is lacking in saving as never before. It has finessed that shortfall by consuming the wealth generated by asset appreciation and by drawing heavily on the world's pool of surplus saving. In my view, there is nothing stable about this arrangement. In fact, there is a growing risk that America's saving shortfall will only intensify in the years ahead -- especially given Washington's total lack of fiscal integrity. As always, the flows will give the impression that this outcome is sustainable. In the end, nothing could be further from the truth.

So, it looks like we, as a nation, have no savings to speak of and, at the same time, Chairman Greenspan is declaring that congress pull the benefits rug out from under the baby boomer generation. Katy...bar the door!

What cracks me up about Chairman Greenspan's statements is that there is no mention of dealing with the current and future payments being made by the baby boomer generation. Only the reduction of the benefits they will receive for their contributions by, perhaps raising the eligibility age to 70 or 80 or 100. In other words, you will be expected to pay into the system until you drop dead.

Ironically, it looks like we are about to revert to an earlier time of self sufficiency when people took responsibility for their own welfare although we'll still be paying the taxes into a system that will probably never provide a return on our investment. This seems to make any discussion of government social programs moot, I would say.

New Philosophy Blog

A former student has a new blog for those who are interested in philosophy. You can access it here. It looks good and he has some interesting posts up. Caution: It's not for the philosophically unserious.

What's He Hiding?

Why, if Senator Kerry is telling the truth about his Vietnam service and has nothing to hide from the voters, will he not permit the reprinting of his book The New Soldier which is so hard to obtain that the single copy available on Amazon is selling for almost $2500? Why will he not sign a form to release his medical records which would help to settle the questions surrounding the awarding of his Purple Hearts? And why will he not permit release of the journal used by Douglas Brinkley in writing his book on Kerry, titled Tour of Duty?

The Democrats demanded that George Bush release his records from his National Guard service and he promptly complied. John Kerry told Tim Russert on Face the Nation that he had indeed released all of his records, but it turned out that he had released only a few pages of a much more copious account.

What other presidential candidate in the history of our nation has ever written a book whose contents he has subsequently done whatever he could to prevent people from seeing? If Kerry wants to repudiate the book now, fine. He should let us see it and then tell us why he no longer holds the positions and sentiments found in it.

What sense does it make to tout one's military service as the central qualification for serving one's country as president and then, when that record is called into question, refuse to make available the very records and journals which would silence the critics?

His refusal to allow the voters to see these documents is inexplicable unless he really is trying to hide something.

Demagoguing Stem Cell Research

The stem cell debate has been demogogued by the Democrats since before their convention, but John Leo puts his finger on exactly what is wrong with the way the left is addressing this issue. Leo writes:

John Kerry has repeatedly spoken of President Bush's "ban" on stem cell research. Kerry knows very well it isn't a "ban" or that Bush isn't "shutting down" research. But "ban" is a powerfully emotional word. It has more impact on swing voters than "allowing private research, but not using taxpayer money for work on stem cell lines derived after Aug. 9, 2001."

The fact is that stem cell research is swimming in readily available funds. With luck, the elite press corps will discover this some time in October, and maybe even ask Kerry about it. The federal government is providing $24.8 million in research funds, which is $24.8 million more than President Clinton offered. Money is pouring in from state governments, universities and pharmaceutical companies. If Kerry thinks this financial gusher still amounts to a ban, maybe he could get the Heinz Foundation or George Soros to pitch in.

Kerry spins the stem cell issue by saying, "Here in America, we don't sacrifice science for ideology." This is a line he has been using for weeks. It delivers two messages, both false: (1) there is no legitimate moral issue here (though plenty of bioethicists and plenty of Kerry supporters think there is); and therefore (2) this is a one-sided issue, pitting enlightened people against backward ideological types.

The lobby for embryonic stem cell funding is deeply dishonest. It involves a "ban" that isn't a ban, a claim of cures "right on our fingertips" (John Kerry) that falsely implies an early cure for Alzheimer's, and a discounting of promising stem cell research that doesn't involve the creation and destruction of embryos (cells from adult bone marrow, teeth and umbilical cords). Kerry and the Democrats have a case to make. They just don't want to make it honestly.

Why is it that the left seems unable to debate this issue or almost any other without distorting the facts? It's as if they believe that unless they twist the truth or mask it altogether they'd be unable to persuade anyone to vote for them. Well, maybe they're onto something.

Leo's column makes several other points about this debate which are very much worth reading.

Does Offshoring Create U.S.Jobs?

No Left Turns links us to an article that discusses a study commissioned in California on the economic impact of exporting jobs offshore. The counter-intuitive conclusions are that offshoring not only is good for the economy but it also creates more jobs than it costs. An excerpt:

How can offshoring preserve jobs? Consider the case of a company that's increasingly beset by foreign competition and can no longer turn a profit. Its choice might be to close down - taking all its jobs with it - or farm out some of its tasks to overseas workers, thus preserving the remaining positions.

"By sacrificing a small proportion of the jobs offered by the company, the other jobs remain," the paper said.

That's not all. The researchers also suggest that offshoring can even create new American jobs.

Companies looking to invest money in expansion base their decision on the projected rate of return. If, by offshoring some jobs those companies can earn a higher return, they are more likely to go ahead with the investment, which then will create more jobs at home.

That's not just economic theory. The numbers in the real world support this view. Between 1991 and 2001, wrote Haveman and Shatz, U.S. firms that expanded their employment abroad also increased their domestic employment by 5.5 million workers. Their share of overall U.S. employment also increased during this period.

This is interesting, but whether it's true or not I have no way to judge. Read the whole article and decide for yourself.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

The Political Neutron Star

Senator Kerry's campaign may be beginning to deflate. A week ago Kerry was ahead in almost all the polls. Some of his leads were within the margin of error, but nevertheless, he was ahead. Now the situation is reversed. Bush seems to be moving out in almost every poll, and, with the Republican convention looming and more Swiftvet ads on the way, the likelihood is that his lead will continue to expand.

The latest national polls show the following:

NBC News/Wall St. Journal: Bush - 47; Kerry - 45; Nader - 3

Gallup: Bush - 50; Kerry - 47

Fox News: Kerry - 45; Bush - 44

LA Times: Bush - 49; Kerry - 46

The really bad news for Kerry is in the polling data from the battleground states. Kerry was ahead in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Florida coming out of the convention. He's now behind (though within the margin of error)in each of these states according to the LA Times' polls.

There are still some 65 days until the election and a lot can yet happen. The debates may be decisive. Even so, it appears that Bush has the "Mo", at least for now.

What can the Democrats do to get it back? The most effective way, assuming there's no drastic change in either the economy or Iraq is to try to attach Bush to some scandal or in some other way tarnish his image with the voters. They've been doing this for almost a year, of course, with uncertain results, but liberals tend to believe that if slime isn't sticking it's because you're not throwing it hard enough. No doubt the Democrats will get increasingly more personal in their attack ads and in the media. The liberals on television and in the print media will become increasingly more unrestrained, strident, and partisan. Whether it will work or not is anyone's guess.

The danger for the Democrats is that, like a collapsing star, the implosion will accelerate with time, and a point will ultimately be reached where it becomes impossible to reverse it. A dying star will sometimes compress into a super dense residue spinning wildly in space. These remnants of once brilliant stars are reduced to superdense masses called neutron stars which emit no light, just toxic emanations like gamma rays.

So it may turn out to be with the once brilliant promise of the Senator from Massachusetts. Perhaps ultimately all that will remain of the Kerry campaign will be a solid residue of bitter, hate-driven supporters, spewing a dark, toxic hatefulness, spinning lifelessly in a political void.

Check out RealClear Politics for more specifics on the latest polls.

Democrat Fear and Smear

Captain's Quarters has this bit of information on the Democrats' strategy for answering the Swiftvets' allegations:

The New York Daily News reports that "a group of Democratic loyalists" plan to target one of the less public figures from the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth by using humiliation to intimidate him into silence:

Sen. John Kerry called a member of the Swift Boat Veterans For Truth over the weekend to try to reason with him over the group's attacks on his record. But fellow Democrats aren't hesitating to try far more aggressive tactics.

A group of Democratic loyalists is compiling incriminating dossiers on the members of the veteran group - and they sent us a preview of what might be in store for Swift Boat activist James Zumwalt, son of illustrious Adm. Elmo Zumwalt - and it isn't pretty.

Zumwalt "attempted to kill himself with an overdose of prescription drugs," after the murder of his ex-wife's fiance, John Kowalczyk, according to the dossier, which is footnoted to news sources, and was "convicted of reckless driving after chasing Kowalczyk at a high speed on the highway."

What relevance something like this has to the allegations about Kerry's military service, one can only wonder. To the character assassins in the Democratic party perhaps it doesn't need to have any relevance to be useful. Captain Ed goes on to write:

Well, well, well. Perhaps Max Cleland can stop off on his way to Crawford, TX and put a stop to the "fear and smear" tactics being used by the Democrats. This certainly convinces me that John Kerry has nothing to hide. Riiiiiiiight...

On the other hand, at least the Democrats have agreed in principle that medical records should be released as a basis for public debate in this presidential cycle. Bush released his, now Zumwalt's are out in the open -- so where are Kerry's? They must contain some pretty damaging information if the Democrats are willing to violate HIPAA laws in order to keep them secret.

Sign the 180, Senator. Be a man, take responsibility for having started this entire mess with the Democratic smear campaign back in February and April against President Bush, and sign the 180. If you can't do that, how can we trust you to ever act responsibly? (via Kerry Spot and CQ reader Jim L.)

Viewpoint admires Captain Ed's wish to see Kerry and the Democrats actually resort to evidence and debate to settle the controversy, but that requires that the facts be on your side. When they're not, when you can't out-argue your opponent, why then, you just destroy him. That's the liberal way.

The Da Vinci Code

I received an e-mail today from a former student, now at college, who tells me about having recently read and enjoyed Dan Brown's hugely popular novels The Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons. My correspondent, in addition to being a very bright, outstanding young woman, is Hindu, which may be relevant to some of what she says about the book. Part of her e-mail follows:

The da Vinci code, I felt, was less direct [than Angels and Demons] about pointing out the importance of the Church. It also emphasized how the Church had suppressed opposition, often violently. I know a lot of people have read this as Church-bashing, especially the part about how the stories in the Bible are at best, incomplete, or often completely inaccurate and fabricated. However, to me, this shouldn't even dent the face of true religion. Religion is about faith, it's about believing what may or may not be true. If you had factual data to support everything, then miracles would cease to exist and you would be a believer in science. Plus, the fact that the Catholic Church has suppressed opponents can hardly be denied. But for that matter, so have most of the other successful churches. While I don't necessarily agree with this violence or prejudice of others based on their choice of God, the Catholic Church can hardly be solely condemned for this action. Also, Brown repeatedly alludes to the power of faith and the purpose it serves to unite people and reassure them.

All in all, I think both books are good. The da Vinci code is definitely better written. Yes, the point can be made that if the information about Jesus having married and had a child were true, then the verses of the Bible would be shaken. But the way I understand the Bible (admittedly, not as a Christian), most of the stories are metaphors, told to teach the believer something. For example, it is widely known that Jesus's birthday was not December twenty-fifth but in the spring. And while informed religious people may be aware of this, that does not stop them from celebrating Christmas. . .nor should it. As I said before, you can't make Kierkegaard's leap of faith in earnest if you have hard scientific data to fall back upon.

What follows is the relevant portion of my reply to her:

I was interested in your take on Dan Brown's books. I also enjoyed The Da Vinci Code, it was a real page turner, and I liked the way the author built suspense. I take a somewhat more critical position than you, though, on his use of history. Almost none of his account of Christianity and the Church is true. This would be okay in a novel, I guess, but in the preface of the book he gives the reader the impression that everything he says about the Church and about Jesus is historical fact, and it's not.

For instance, there's absolutely no evidence that Jesus had a conjugal relationship with Mary Magdalene. Brown's claim that millions of women were burned in the Inquisition is completely ahistorical. His assertion that Christians didn't accept the deity of Christ until the fourth century is simply not the case. Anyway, none of this would matter too much, I guess, except there is a very subtle danger in this for the Christian.

If, as Brown claims, Jesus and Mary M. absconded to France and lived out their lives there then that completely collapses the entire edifice of the Christian Faith. Christianity is built on the doctrine of the Resurrection of Christ. If Jesus didn't really return physically from the dead then there's no point in being a Christian, and if Brown is right then there was no Resurrection. Brown's Christ was a man like every other who eventually died in France.

The Christian Christ, however, was the incarnation of God and lives and acts today. If he wasn't divine then he was either a nut or a charlatan. He couldn't have been just a good moral teacher like Ghandi if he wasn't in some sense God. He told people that if they give their lives for him they'd be rewarded in heaven. He claimed to be able to forgive sins and to grant eternal life. He claimed to be the Son of God. If he wasn't divine then he was indeed crazy or he was the biggest religious fraud in history.

Brown doesn't make this conclusion explicit, but it's certainly implicit in his claim that Jesus was just a man. In other words, Brown is trying to convince his millions of readers that Christianity is essentially false and has value only as a kind of service club or moral system, but like St. Paul says, "If Christ hasn't risen from the dead then the faith of Christians is in vain." The threat to the Christian faith is the more insidious because Brown tells such a captivating story.

In any event, there've been a ton of books published in the last six months debunking Brown's interpretation of history. If you're interested, and have the time, you can check out some reviews here.


Let's get this straight. John Kerry admits to committing war crimes in which people died. He burned villages, killed animals, and either himself shot at, or ordered crew mates to shoot at, civilians.

Now Kerry is demanding that Secretary Rumsfeld resign his office because soldiers at Abu Ghraib subjected prisoners to sexually degrading behavior.

Perhaps the Senator will explain the logic behind demanding that the secretary should resign because, unbeknownst to him, some perverts mistreated a few prisoners, while Kerry himself should be elected president even though he admits to having participated in war crimes.

It's doubtful that he'd ever actually be forced to explain this astonishing example of chutzpah, of course, since the major media wouldn't dream of actually asking him for an explanation. The Senator and his media supporters almost daily afford us deeper insights into the meaning of the word hypocrisy.

Historical Coincidences

Viewpoint received this e-mail which we post here for you to mull over. The coincidences certainly are interesting. Maybe Nietzsche was right and history is eternally recurring:

The following are Presidents elected in a year with a zero at the end:

1840: William Henry Harrison (died in office)

1860: Abraham Lincoln (assassinated)

1880: James A. Garfield (assassinated)

1900: William McKinley (assassinated)

1920: Warren G. Harding (died in office)

1940: Franklin D. Roosevelt (died in office)

1960: John F.. Kennedy (assassinated)

1980: Ronald Reagan (survived assassination attempt)

2000: George W. Bush ?

And to think that we had two guys fighting it out in the courts to be the one elected in 2000. You might also be interested in this.

Abraham Lincoln was elected to Congress in 1846.

John F. Kennedy was elected to Congress in 1946.

Abraham Lincoln was elected President in 1860.

John F. Kennedy was elected President in 1960.

Both were particularly concerned with civil rights.

Both wives lost a child while living in the White House.

Both Presidents were shot on a Friday.

Both Presidents were shot in the head.

Lincoln's secretary was named Kennedy.

Kennedy's Secretary was named Lincoln.

Both were assassinated by Southerners.

Both were succeeded by Southerners named Johnson.

Andrew Johnson, who succeeded Lincoln, was born in 1808.

Lyndon Johnson, who succeeded Kennedy, was born in 1908.

John Wilkes Booth, who assassinated Lincoln, was born in 1839.

Lee Harvey Oswald, who assassinated Kennedy, was born in 1939.

Both assassins were known by their three names.

Both names are composed of fifteen letters.

Lincoln was shot at the theater named "Ford."

Kennedy was shot in a car called "Lincoln" made by "Ford."

Booth and Oswald were assassinated before their trials.

A week before Lincoln was shot, he was in Monroe, Maryland.

A week before Kennedy was shot, he was with Marilyn Monroe.

Lincoln was shot in a theater and the assassin ran to a warehouse.

Kennedy was shot from a warehouse and the assassin ran to a theater.

Don't share this with anyone who's fond of conspiracy theories. It'd be like catnip to them.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

New Strategy For Ducking the Issue

Viewpoint thinks it has detected a new strategy being adopted by the Kerry team in responding to the Swiftvets. Ironically, the strategy seems to be the same one employed by the Nixon administration in trying to bring the Vietnam war to a somewhat honorable conclusion. It's simply to declare victory and go home. The Kerry defenders on the talk shows are increasingly resorting to this tactic by proclaiming that the Swiftvets have now been thoroughly discredited and disgraced, their charges have been shown to be a pack of lies, and it's now time to move on to other issues. No real evidence is offered to substantiate this astonishing pronouncement, it's just asserted, as if claiming something is the case is sufficient to make it so. Look for the strategy to be employed more and more frequently as the evidence continues to mount that Kerry's Vietnam stories are bogus, and as Kerry himself continues to stonewall requests to have his records be released to the public.

Keep abreast of the controversy at Captains' Quarters, Power Line, and Hugh Hewitt.

The Devil's Chaplain

The current issue of First Things has an excellent piece by Stephen Barr titled The Devil's Chaplain Confounded. The chaplain in this instance is Richard Dawkins an English biologist and notorious despiser of Christianity who has compiled an anthology of his essay and titled it after a thought expressed in a letter of Charles Darwin's in which he exclaims to a friend, "What a book a Devil's Chaplain might write on the clumsy, wasteful, blundering low and horridly cruel works of nature."

As Barr says of Dawkins, "For him, the great foundational truth is that the universe and the life it has spawned are without any ultimate purpose: the revelation given to the Devil's Chaplain is one of cosmic futility."

He points out that Dawkins says that we must accept Darwinism as true science but must rebel against its moral implications: "[A]t the same time as I support Darwinism as a scientist, I am a passionate anti-Darwinian when it comes to politics and how we should conduct our human affairs."

This is the sign of a mind at war with itself. If, as Dawkins says, we are merely biological machines then the whole concept of morality is reduced to nothing more than a set of feelings that genetic mutation and natural selection have instilled in us. We may rebel against those feelings, but why should we? What do we base our rejection of those feelings upon? Do we recognize that there is some higher moral order to which we are bound that renders our evolutionary moral heritage suspect? If so, where does that higher order come from? What is it based upon?

A materialist like Dawkins has no satisfactory answer to these questions. He can give no reason why a man should not live as a complete egoist acting for the benefit of others only to the extent that such actions also benefit him. The atheistic materialist who grounds morality in the survival of the species has absolutely no warrant for so doing. Why should an individual care what happens to the species? Why would it be "wrong" if someone did not care about the species? What do words like right and wrong refer to anyway? Where does an atheist get the idea that we should respect others and treat them well?

Dawkins argues against genetic determinism, but as Barr points out, "given his materialism, it is hard to see the point of this. Whether or not genes decide anything, atoms decide everything. Whether or not there is genetic determinism, there is physical determinism. One does not liberate anybody by throwing open the gates of a prison and leaving the inmates locked in their cells. It is of little importance what influence genes or the environment have, or what role is played by individual choices, if in the final analysis everything is just matter anyway, including the genes, the environment, and the individuals who choose. To a materialist, we are just congeries of atoms; and atoms must go whithersoever they are driven by the laws of physics and blind chance."

Moreover, given the determinism that is entailed by a materialist view of the world, it's hard to see what meaning morality could possess. In order for there to be a right act or wrong act there has to be the possibility of choosing. Otherwise, there are just things the environment compels people to do and there is no moral value in doing them any more than there is in a computer which runs the program it has been fed.

Dawkins is famous, or infamous, for his vitriolic screeds against religion. Without religion, says Dawkins, we would not have wars of religion or religious persecution. Barr's answer to this commonly heard complaint highlights the superficiality of Dawkins' thinking:

"True," Barr replies, "And without sex, fathers, families, material possessions, and governments, we would not have sex crimes, abusive fathers, dysfunctional families, greed for material possessions, and oppressive governments. Every natural and necessary thing can be perverted, even reason. Religion has led to hateful ideas, but has any Christian writer ever published ideas as hateful as the social Darwinism of H. G. Wells? Religion has led to persecutions, but none even nearly as massive as those produced by militant irreligion. More people were killed by the "scientific atheism" of communism on an average day than the Spanish Inquisition killed in an average decade. And largely responsible for this fact was a teaching of contempt for religion of exactly the kind that Dawkins propagates."

There is much more of value in Barr's response to Dawkins' book, and Viewpoint encourages the reader who is familiar with Dawkins, or those who think like him, to read it in its entirety. It is one of the great frauds modernity has foisted upon the culture, the notion that we can throw away God and still hold on to all that makes life meaningful and livable. Perhaps it's possible for an individual to do this, but only at the expense of, like Dawkins, denying in one's heart what one affirms in one's head. Either that, or not think about the consequences of denying God at all.

This is a dispiriting alternative. If one wishes to embrace atheism and avoid moral nihilism one either has to be schizophrenic or willfully ignorant.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Defending America In Vietnam

In the previous post I suggested that John Kerry is prevaricating when he repeats the claim that he fought to defend this country as a young man.

After posting that I stumbled upon this from his 1971 congressional testimony:

"In our opinion, and from our experience, there is nothing in South Vietnam, nothing which could happen that realistically threatens the United States of America.... I want to relate to you the feeling that many of the men who have returned to this country express because we are probably angriest about all that we were told about Vietnam and about the mystical war against communism."

"We found that not only was it a civil war, an effort by a people who had for years been seeking their liberation from any colonial influence whatsoever, but also we found that the Vietnamese whom we had enthusiastically molded after our own image were hard put to take up the fight against the threat we were supposedly saving them from."

It's hard to believe he thought then that he was fighting to defend America. If he believes it now the American people are entitled to know what changed his mind and when he changed it.

The Questions Never End

There's a good editorial on the hole Sen. kerry has dug for himself in today's Wall Street Journal. Some excerpts:

A good rule in politics is that anyone who picks a fight ought to be prepared to finish it. But having first questioned Mr. Bush's war service, and then made Vietnam the core of his own campaign for President, Mr. Kerry now cries No mas! because other Vietnam vets are assailing his behavior before and after that war. And, by the way, Mr. Bush is supposedly honor bound to repudiate them.

What did Mr. Kerry expect, anyway? That claiming to be a hero himself while accusing other veterans of "war crimes" - as he did back in 1971 and has refused to take back ever since - would somehow go unanswered? That when he raised the subject of one of America's most contentious modern events, no one would meet him at the barricades? Mr. Kerry brought the whole thing up; why is it Mr. Bush's obligation now to shut it down?

The irony here is that a main reason Mr. Kerry has focused so much on Vietnam is to avoid debating Iraq and the rest of his long record in the Senate. He wants Americans to believe that a four-month wartime biography is credential enough to be commander-in-chief. But a candidate who runs on biography can't merely pick the months of his life that he likes - any more than a candidate who makes Vietnam the heart of his campaign can confine the resulting debate to his personal home video.

It's worth reading the entire piece.

While we're on the subject, has anyone else noticed the irony that Democrats only a year ago were outraged that Arnold Schwarzenegger, a man tainted by genetic association to a Nazi, his father, was running for governor of California? Now it's a year later and a man who has admitted to actually having committed war crimes is running for president and the Democrats are trying to move heaven and earth to get him elected. Doesn't anything embarrass these people?

Another thing. If we hear John Kerry say one more time that he fought to defend this country as a young man we'll have to go on blood pressure medication. Whatever John Kerry did in Vietnam he wasn't fighting to defend this country, at least not in the eyes of the anti-war left of which he became a prominent member. The chief anti-war argument was that the war was immoral precisely because there was no national interest at stake in Vietnam, much less defense of the homeland. The argument that our young men were fighting and dying to defend America was greeted with scorn and derision by anti-war folks. Someone needs to ask Sen. Kerry exactly when and why he changed his mind on the nature of that conflict.

How Low Will They Go

If this story at PowerLine is true it is a specimen of a most disgusting species of political campaigning:

One important story that has flown under the major-media radar is the peddling by Democrats of the claim that the Bush administration has a secret plan to re-institute the military draft. That rumor is being spread to try to scare young voters into supporting John Kerry.

The Democrats' draft-rumor effort has now gone mainstream; the South Carolina Democratic Party has sent out a mailing that claims young voters are faced with induction if they don't vote for John Kerry:

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?"

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.

Democrats sometimes get upset when we say that they prey on ignorance. But this contemptible tactic is a perfect example of what we mean.

This is an unbelievably dirty tactic, and this is not a "disaffiliated" 527 group putting this out. This isn't Michael Moore doing this. This is the South Carolina Democrat Party. Where's the outrage among the Democrats who are so vexed about the Swift Boat vets' ads which, it's turning out, are being confirmed by Kerry himself?

Not only has his campaign had to backtrack from his Christmas in Cambodia story, but also his own journal now shows that his first purple heart was accidentally self-inflicted. Nine days after incurring the "injury" he logged in his journal that he and his crew had yet to be fired upon, i.e. they had yet to see combat.

According to Captain Ed at Captain's Quarters Kerry's credibility has been dealt a devastating blow by Joshua Muravchik in today's Washington Post. The article is a must-read for anyone following the controversy. Captain's Quarters quotes from it:

Now a new official statement from the campaign undercuts Brinkley. It offers a minimal (thus harder to impeach) claim: that Kerry "on one occasion crossed into Cambodia," on an unspecified date. But at least two of the shipmates who are supporting Kerry's campaign (and one who is not) deny their boat ever crossed the border, and their testimony on this score is corroborated by Kerry's own journal, kept while on duty. One passage reproduced in Brinkley's book says: "The banks of the [Rach Giang Thanh River] whistled by as we churned out mile after mile at full speed. On my left were occasional open fields that allowed us a clear view into Cambodia. At some points, the border was only fifty yards away and it then would meander out to several hundred or even as much as a thousand yards away, always making one wonder what lay on the other side." His curiosity was never satisfied, because this entry was from Kerry's final mission [emph mine - CE].

Captain Ed goes on to say:

If [Kerry] had spent time in Cambodia, he would have known exactly what lay on the other side of the banks, if indeed he ever even got that close to Cambodia in the first place. And the revelation that his later journals were actually written after his return to the States for an abortive book proposal makes this even more odd, since he had already begun his anti-war activities -- and an illegal Cambodian excursion would not only add to his radical street cred, but it would have made a book deal more likely.

This Washington Post opinion piece marks a signal from the mainstream media that they have turned the corner on this issue, thanks in no small part, I'm sure, to Kerry's decision to go nuclear against the Swiftvets. Expect coverage in the news sections to follow and the Kerry collapse to continue in the days ahead.

We'll see. Viewpoint suspects the campaign will grow much uglier if it appears that Kerry is about to start sinking. It may be that Fahrenheit 9/11, the Gore and Dean speeches, and all the sleaze from MoveOn.org and the South Carolinians will look like good-natured jocularity compared to what the Dems will do if the bow of the campaign boat tilts too far upward.

The Battle For Najaf

It's difficult to find news coming out of Najaf and Fallujah. The major media seem uninterested in ferreting out anything which requires their reporters to leave their hotels in Baghdad's Green Zone and get out into the field. Consequently, unless one does a little digging all he'll hear about are car bombings and it seems like that's all that's happening in Iraq. We do hear vague, general reports about battles raging in Najaf and Fallujah, but nothing about what is actually happening there and what the Iraqi people think of it all.

Thus, when a report like this one from former Marine veteran W.Thomas Smith comes along it gives us a rare glimpse into the circumstances surrounding the current military operations in Najaf. Here are some excerpts from Smith's report which can be found in its entirety on National Review Online:

The past 24 hours have seen U.S. warplanes and helicopter gunships pounding Mahdi positions. Fighting continues on the ground in various sectors of the city, and the consensus among U.S. military personnel is that the insurgency is weakening. The latter is due in large measure to an increase in solid intelligence, a more formidable Iraqi national military force, and positive developing relationships between U.S. forces and Iraqi civilians. Not good for al Sadr.

"Two nights ago on a patrol from midnight to 3 A.M., we actually saw Iraqis sitting out on rugs watching and listening to the Coalition aircraft doing their work in the cemetery," 1st Lt. Jeremy T. Sellars - a platoon commander with Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment - told National Review Online on Saturday. "Despite the obvious level of destruction they were inflicting, I watched Iraqis cheer every time the aircraft fired."

In the rural communities just beyond Najaf, the farming families are comforted by the presence of Americans. "The farmers are some of the most supportive of our patrols," said Sellars. "In these areas you can see women who respond to waves, babies and small children being held up to see the Americans. So in the sense of the local populace, I would say they look forward to the end of this conflict, but they understand why it is happening so close to their homes."

First Lt. John B. Johnston of the U.S. Army's 25th Infantry Division has experienced similar interaction with Iraqi civilians. In a Saturday conversation with NRO, he recalled a recent patrol in which his platoon was followed by droves of children. "There were about a hundred of them," he said. "They were chanting 'USA' and shouting great things about President Bush. These kids are the future of Iraq, and they clearly want us there."

He added, the "friendliness" witnessed by Americans in Iraq is rarely understood back home. "There is a lot editorial license being taken in terms of the media choosing what to report. I feel like a lot of the positive things we've been doing have been glossed over for more dramatic actions elsewhere. Car bombs are a lot more fun to report than our painting schools or whatever. But the positives definitely outweigh the negatives. If you want compare the bad days to the good days, I'd have to say 90 percent to the good."

Though some would argue otherwise, time - and the fact that positive news stories will eventually see ink - is in many ways on the side of the Americans in Iraq and the new Iraqi interim government. Not so for al Sadr.

"It appears to me that in April and May we killed the best and brightest [of the Mahdi army]," 1st Lt. Brian Suits of the Army's 1st Cavalry Division in Najaf, said during a radio interview with talk-radio host Kirby Wilbur on Seattle's KVI radio, last Thursday. "What al Sadr is doing now is sending in the guys who are left behind to make a statement. He's running out of guys. The guys he has are frankly running out of motivation. They are ill-prepared and ill-trained. They are beginning to question their authority. I think they're saying 'wait a minute, you told us that God was going to guide our bullets, but we haven't killed one American soldier in our area and we are dying left and right here.'"

Asked if Iraqi national military forces and police are measuring up to their U.S. and British allies on the battlefield, Suits said, "I've been in combat with these guys over the last couple of days, and I was as wary as anyone else. I saw their performance in the first Gulf War, but they have since coalesced into an effective force. I'm not lying. I'm not propagandizing. I'm not delivering a message someone else said. I have confidence in them being on my left or my right. They will go forward. They will close with the enemy. They will fix him. And they will kill him. They do not retreat. They do not cower. They support each other. They drag their wounded out of the line of fire. And I have confidence that these guys will be able to defend their country because they are doing it now."

As the Iraqi forces continue to improve and as the Iraqi people continue to taste the benefits of freedom the situation there will continue to improve. Iran and Syria will continue to try their best to destabilize it because they know that as long as we're tied up in Iraq we won't turn our attention toward them. This is a two-edged strategy, however, since the more apparent it becomes that Iran and Syria are thwarting the aspirations of the Iraqi people the more the Iraqis will resent both the insurgents and their neighbors and the more likely they will be to welcome American military action against them from our bases within Iraq.

Monday, August 23, 2004

Islamic Justice

Yesterday Viewpoint posted the story of a young Iranian girl sentenced to death by an Iranian court for some sexual offense. As disgusting as that story is, this one may equal it. AllahPundit features this out of Tehran:

TEHRAN, Aug 19 (AFP) - Iran's judiciary ordered a man to be released after he killed his unfaithful wife in the courtroom, because the woman's immediate forebears are not alive to claim retaliation, press reports said Thursday. According to the newspaper Shargh, the man, identified as Mahmoud, had filed a complaint against his wife and her lover when he had found out that she was cheating on him.

When she appeared in court in Shahr Ray city in Tehran province in 2003 he lost control and stabbed her to death. But a court sentenced him Wednesday only to pay compensatory "blood money" to the "parents of the blood", who are in fact himself and their three children, because the parents of the murdered woman, Fatemeh, 29, are dead, Iran's newspaper said.

It should not be assumed, however, that the disciples of the Prophet and the devotees of Islam have no sense of justice. The dead woman's lover is to receive several lashes for having allowed himself to be seduced by the unfortunate lady and thus contributing to her offense.

In Favor Of the War Before He Was Against It

KerryOnIraq.com has a 12 minute video collage of statements by Senator Kerry that trace his various positions on Iraq and the need to depose Saddam Hussein. It really is quite devastating although some of the statements seem to be clipped so as to possibly cut off context that might make the statement less damning. Even so, the overall effect of the video is to show a clear pattern of waffling and position switches that are quite disconcerting.

If you go to the site click on "Watch Now" to view the tape.

Tough Call

President Bush probably did the politically wise thing when he repeated his opposition to all 527 ads on both sides and called for them to stop. He, or his surrogates, can now point out that Sen. Kerry has never lifted a finger to stop MoveOn.org or Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 or any of the other dissimulations that have been perpetrated against him by the left and about which, it needs to be pointed out, he never once complained in public. Indeed, Bush even said at one point that we're free in this country to say what we want even, he implied, if it's unfair and hurtful.

Now Kerry's being stung by ads calling his integrity into question, and he's whining that the President should condemn them. Rather than come out and face the charges squarely he's trying to stop them by both legal intimidation and by getting the other guy's "mommy" to tell them to stop picking on him. Apparently he's very opposed to 527 ads when they're directed against him, but he's much more sensitive to the virtues of political free speech when "unaffiliated" Bush-haters run ads and movies which slime his opponent.

Anyway, I wish the President hadn't said what he said. As a matter of principle he shouldn't have done anything to undercut the witness of these men who, contra Sen. McCain, have behaved exceptionally honorably throughout the last two weeks. As combat veterans themselves, they have the right to defend their honor and the historical record against what they believe to be serious calumnies and distortions.

Unless the President actually knows they're lying, something which is highly unlikely, he really has no business suggesting that they should stop defending their reputations and the historical facts. This is not really about George Bush. It's a fight between John Kerry and the men who served with him, and it's a noble fight because it's about truth and honor. The President should stay out of it.

They Can't Be Serious

The North Korean chapter of the disciples of St. Francis of Asissi located in Pyonyang have weighed in on American presidential politics:

SEOUL (AFP) - North Korea (news - web sites) described US President George W. Bush (news - web sites) as an "imbecile" and a "tyrant" who was worse than Adolf Hitler, and ruled out holding new talks on nuclear weapons with the United States.

In an unusually strong attack, a North Korean foreign ministry spokesman said comments by Bush calling North Korea a tyrant during campaigning last week in Wisconin were "malignant slanders and calumnies".

"He is a political imbecile bereft of even elementary morality as a human being and a bad guy," said the spokesman, quoted by the official KCNA news agency.

The spokesman blamed Bush for starting wars in Iraq (news - web sites) and elsewhere, and said the United States was trying to topple the legitimate government of North Korea.

"Bush's assumption of office turned a peaceful world into a pandemonium unprecedented in history as it is plagued with a vicious circle of terrorism and war," said the statement.

The spokesman went on to describe Bush as "a tyrant that puts Hitler into the shade" as well as "an idiot, an ignorant, a tyrant and a man-killer."

He said that following Bush's comments, it would be "impossible" to hold working-level discussions to prepare for a new round of multilateral talks on the nuclear issue. The talks bring together the two Koreas, China, Japan, Russia and the United States.

"This made it quite impossible for the DPRK (North Korea) to go to the talks and deprived it of any elementary justification to sit at the negotiating table with the US," he said.

Well. Sounds like the gentle souls that rule North Korea have taken time out of their busy schedule crushing their people under their Stalinist boots to read Howard Dean and Al Gore speeches from last Fall.

If one of the cruelest, most oppressive, most morally retrograde regimes on earth dislikes Bush so much he must be doing something right.

Word has it that Sen. Kerry, having called for Pres. Bush to denounce the Swift Boat vets' ads, is even now busily preparing a vigorous denunciation of this scurrilous attack on his political opponent.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Neighbor John

This is making the rounds on the internet. I don't know if there really is a B.T. Nicholson or if he really is John Edwards' neighbor, but the factual stuff he relates about Edwards from the middle of the piece on should be easy enough to corroborate for anyone who's interested. It would certainly be interesting to have an enterprising journalist look Nicholson up and interview him on the record.

Subject: Meet my neighbor

Written by: B. T. Nicholson, a neighbor of John Edwards

I'd like to introduce you to my neighbor. I'm from Raleigh, North Carolina, and for several years I've lived around the corner from Vice Presidential Candidate John Edwards. My neighbor John has been in the news a good deal lately, but it's hard to tell about the man himself from the coverage. Maybe I can help you get to know him better.

Even several years ago, before he was elevated to the national stage, my neighbor John didn't socialize much with other neighbors. He didn't gather with other neighbors at the Fourth of July and he didn't come out to the sledding hills to watch the kids play after a snow. My neighbor John preferred to jog through the neighborhood by himself. There's no sidewalk on Alleghany Drive, John's Street in Raleigh, and if you drove past him as he was jogging on the road and didn't slow down enough for his taste he'd flip you the bird.

Even after he became a U.S. Senator, he'd still come home to Raleigh every once in a while, would still jog through the neighborhood, and would still flip the occasional bird to passing cars. He last showed me his middle finger about four years ago.

Since then, my neighbor John is rarely in town. When he is home, though, we in the neighborhood all know it. My neighbor John invited reporters from TV, radio, and print news organizations to come to his house in January 2003 for the announcement of his Presidential bid. He didn't want any news vans parked on his property -- in fact, he made sure all the cameras and reporters waited in the street at the bottom of his driveway. That way everyone could get good footage of him strolling down the driveway to make his announcement, young children in tow. The news vans drove into the yards of John's neighbors and parked there. I heard two families ended up re-sodding their damaged yards, and John never apologized to anyone, much less offered any compensation. The family across the street from my neighbor John has since put up posts at their property line to try to keep that sort of thing from happening again.

The appearance was good for my neighbor John. Nobody else seems to matter to him. Since then, when my neighbor comes home (as he did July 10, to be interviewed with John Kerry for "60 Minutes"), Raleigh police officers block off the street. Those of us who live near him end up coming and going to and from our homes on a circuitous route, on a bad, unsurfaced road. Forsyth Street has been closed to through traffic, except when my neighbor is in town, because the road has been ripped up for installation of new gas and sewer lines. My neighbor's street is a public, city-maintained street, and it is the best way to get to homes just north of his. If my neighbor is around, though, apparently none of the rest of us can use the street at all.

It's good for my neighbor John. Nobody else seems to matter to him.

My neighbor John has been a very successful trial lawyer, but his practice of law sometimes seems more like extortion. A friend of mine is a doctor in Raleigh. He recently spoke with another doctor, an anesthesiologist, who was named in a suit filed by my neighbor John. Apparently a surgeon at a local hospital had made a mistake, and my neighbor John represented the injured patient. Not only did my neighbor John sue the doctor who made the mistake, but also sued the hospital and a string of others, including the anesthesiologist. There was no problem with the anesthesia -- the anesthesiologist had done absolutely nothing wrong. His attorney said so in a meeting with my neighbor John. John's neighborly response was that he couldn't care less if the doctor had done nothing wrong. That wasn't the point. The point was that clients come to my neighbor John because of his record of success and his reputation for thoroughness. Every defendant in a suit he files pays, regardless of whether they are actually guilty or not. My neighbor John demanded a settlement of $250,000, and said his firm was willing to spend $2 million to get it. The doctor's insurance company promptly paid the $250,000.

The rate of growth in North Carolina's medical malpractice insurance rates is among the highest in the nation. The total cost of health care rises with those rates. My neighbor John's slimy extortion is part of the reason.

Forget about right or wrong, guilt or innocence. My neighbor John did what was best for himself. Nobody else seemed to matter.

My neighbor John may be a trial lawyer, but in front of juries he also claims to be something of a psychic. You see, my neighbor John specializes in cases involving the death or serious injury of children. He claims to receive messages from dead or brain-damaged children, and the messages are much clearer and more specific than those received by the famous"psychic" who nearly shares my neighbor's name.

When a child has been killed or is otherwise unable to speak for him or herself, my neighbor John says he has the ability to "channel" that child. He tells juries he feels the child inside him, and that he has messages from that child, which he relays to jury members. He tells juries about the car-accident death of his own son, Wade, and speculates that he may have received the ability to "feel" the souls of dead or injured children because of the close relationship he still feels with his son.

It sounds hokey and more than a little creepy, but it seems to play well with juries, and results in very high jury awards. These awards have made my neighbor extremely wealthy. He's so wealthy that he created a corporation of which he is the only member, and pays himself most of his earnings as corporate dividends, not as salary or wages. Medicare taxes are not levied on dividend income, so my neighbor has avoided paying $600,000 into the Medicare system since 1995 by setting up this tax shelter. But he says others aren't paying their fair share of Medicare taxes.

It's good for my neighbor John, and nobody else seems to matter.

My neighbor made a lot of promises on his way to the Senate. He promised strong support for our military, but then voted against body armor, combat pay, and better health care for our troops in Afghanistan and Iraq. He promised to support traditional North Carolina values, but then voted to the left of Ted Kennedy on partial-birth abortion, taxes, property rights, and a host of other issues. We in North Carolina feel betrayed. My neighbor John figuratively gave his constituents the middle finger while he ingratiated himself to Tom Daschle and the rest of the Democratic Party leadership.

My neighbor announced many months ago that he would not seek reelection, because he knows he's unpopular in North Carolina and would lose by a huge margin. According to a poll released this week, when the Kerry/Edwards ticket was announced, support for Kerry in North Carolina went down, not up.

We North Carolinians know John Edwards. We've been betrayed by him, and we do not support him.

But as he broke his promises to us, he gained favor with the Democratic Party leadership. Now he's a political star. I guess turning his back on the people he claims to represent has worked out well for my neighbor, John Edwards. Nobody else seems to matter.

B.T. Nicholson

Is This the Best They Can Do?

Captain Ed at Captain's Quarters has an excellent analysis of recent developments in the Swift Boat vets controversy. All three posts for August 22nd are worth checking out. You don't want to miss them.

On the matter of the SBVT controversy it's worth mentioning that so far the defense of John Kerry against the swiftees' charges has been at best, feeble. It amounts to the following nine arguments:

1) Kerry's accusers weren't on the boat with him. This argument has been largely abandoned as Kerry supporters have realized its irrelevance. The swift boat crews all served in close proximity to one another. Moreover, one of the swiftees, Mr. O'Dell, did serve on Kerry's boat.

2) The SBVT don't have any documents to support their claims. What sort of documents, one wonders, might they be expected to have. The only documents that exist which might support their claims Kerry refuses to allow to be released. Why?

3) The Naval documents that are in the public domain support Kerry's version of events. It is, however, the accuracy of these documents that is being called into question. It is foolish to reply to the charge that the documents contain errors of historical fact by saying that the documents support Kerry's account. The documents are alleged to be Kerry's account. Moreover, the documents do not support Kerry's claims to have been in Cambodia. These claims, which are almost certainly false, cast serious doubt on Kerry's credibility on everything else he has said about Vietnam.

4) Senator McCain says the SBVT are dishonest and dishonorable. No evidence is ever presented to show how Sen. McCain knows this. "Dishonest and dishonorable" are meaningless words in the absence of supporting evidence. They're nothing more than Sen. McCain's way of saying "I don't like this". The assertion alone is supposed to be self-validating because it's spoken by John McCain.

5) The SBVT are lying. This is all just a Republican smear campaign. Again, there is no evidence that the Republican party is behind the SBVT. Moreover, it can only be a smear campaign if the charges are false, but their falsity has not been demonstrated.

6) The vets are only doing this because they dislike Kerry. This is another attempt to evade the real question which is whether the charges are true. If they are, it doesn't matter why the SBVT are doing what they're doing. If the charges aren't true then their motive is merely a footnote.

7) Vietnam was 35 years ago. It's ridiculous to be talking about this now. Somebody should have told Sen. Kerry this when he reported for duty at the DNC. Kerry chose to make his four month stint in Vietnam his main, if not only, qualification for serving as president. He can scarcely complain if his adversaries take him up on it.

8) George Bush should denounce the SBVT now. The fact that he doesn't is reprehensible. First, Sen. Kerry stood by and let the most scurrilous things be said about Bush in the Democratic primaries. He didn't denounce Al Gore for accusing Bush of having committed treason. He didn't denounce Terry McAulliffe for claiming that Bush was AWOL from the National Guard. He didn't denounce Howard Dean for averring that Bush lied about Iraq, nor did he denounce Michael Moore for the odious allegations of 9/11. Now Kerry wants Bush to denounce the SBVT because they're saying mean things about him. It's a little late in the day for denunciations. Second, and more importantly, Bush should only denounce the SBVT charges if he knows them to be false. There is no reason to denounce them otherwise, and it would, in fact, be irresponsible of him to do so.

9) George Bush didn't serve in combat, Kerry did, so that makes Kerry a better man. This is Chris Matthews' argument, but it's absurd. First, serving in combat doesn't make you a better person than someone who didn't. If it did, then Lt. Calley would be a better man than the Pope. Second, George Bush has never made his service a reason to vote for him, Kerry has. To examine Bush's service, then, is irrelevant, but it's not irrelevant to scrutinize Kerry's since Kerry invited it.

Now a Mr. Rood who served with Kerry has come forward to offer him his support. Mr. Rood's testimony amounts to stating that the Viet Cong guerilla Kerry evidently shot to death, although no one saw any wound other than that inflicted by Kerry's machine gunner, was not dressed in a loin cloth and was not a teenager. If this is all that Kerry can drum up by way of support he's got a long way to go before he satisfactorily refutes the SBVT.

Don't skip the August 22nd posts at Captain's Quarters linked above.

Giving Public Schools a Black Eye

A story in the American Family Association Journal, if true, makes one wonder how much sense some public school teachers really have. In October of 2002 an Emmaus High School student by the name of Samuel Chen began organizing a lecture by Lehigh University biochemist Michael Behe. Behe has lectured all over the United States after having written a book titled Darwin's Black Box which lays out a compelling argument for rejecting any purely materialistic explanation for the origin and evolution of life. The article states that:

Behe agreed to come in February 2004 and give an after-school lecture entitled, "Evolution: Truth or Myth?" As the school year drew to a close in 2003, Chen had all the preliminaries nailed down: he had secured Behe's commitment, received approval from school officials, and reserved the school auditorium.

Then the offal hit the fan. The science department head, one John Hnatow, began a campaign to prevent Behe's appearance at the Allentown, PA school. He and a colleague, Carl Smartschan, asked the principal to cancel the lecture. When the principal refused, Smartschan

asked the faculty advisor for the student group to halt the lecture. Smartschan even approached Chen and demanded that the student organization pay to have an evolutionist come to lecture later in the year.

Smartschan took it upon himself to talk to every teacher in the science department, insisting that intelligent design was "unscientific" and "scary stuff."

This is an astonishing attempt to censor student enquiry by people who are de facto agents of the state. The lecture, which attracted 500 listeners and was considered a success, took place after school and was sponsored by a student organization, not the school district. Behe is a scientist, but the theory he advocates, Intelligent Design, is not incompatible with any scientific theory. It is, however, incompatible with the philosophical assumptions of Darwinian naturalism. Naturalism states that natural processes and forces are adequate to account for all living things, whereas ID asserts the causal inadequacy of such processes in producing highly complex biological structures with high information content. ID theorists claim that only intelligence can provide a sufficient explanation for the intricate, complex and highly patterned structures we find in living things.

What the students were planning to do after school was not the business of these faculty bullies who should have been delighted that these young had the intellectual curiosity and initiative to take it upon themselves to invite someone of Behe's stature to come to their school to explain his ideas to them. These teachers, whether they agree with Behe or not, should have seized on this as an opportunity to stress the importance of considering all sides of a controversial issue instead of doing whatever they could to thwart these young people. So much for academic freedom and the search for truth, at least among the thought-police in the Emmaus High School science department.

John Stuart Mill wrote that "...the peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is that it is robbing the human race; posterity as well as the existing generation; those who dissent from the opinion, still more than those who hold it. If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth: if wrong, what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error."

Unfortunately, it is doubtful that Mr. Hnatow and Mr. Smartschan have ever read Mill. It is much likelier that these men have been teaching orthodox materialistic Darwinism throughout their careers and are loath to have their students hear Behe's presentation because they fear it will make them look silly. Rather than suffer professional embarrassment of that sort they'd rather interfere where they have no right to deny their students a wonderful learning opportunity. It's no wonder that so many parents are suspicious of public education and opt out of it when they can.

The article goes on to describe the toll that the conflict has taken on Chen's health and is worth reading in its entirety.

Saturday, August 21, 2004

The Axis of Evil

AllahPundit relates this story about the trial and execution of a sixteen year old girl in Iran:

On Sunday, August 15, a 16-year-old girl in the town of Neka, northern Iran, was executed. Atefeh Sahaleh was hanged in public on Simetry Street off Rah Ahan Street at the city center.

The sentence was issued by the head of Neka's Justice Department and subsequently upheld by the mullahs' Supreme Court and carried out with the approval of Judiciary Chief Mahmoud Shahroudi.

In her summary trial, the teenage victim did not have any lawyer and efforts by her family to recruit a lawyer was to no avail. Atefeh personally defended herself. She told the religious judge, Haji Rezaii, that he should punish the main perpetrators of moral corruption not the victims.

The criminal judge personally pursued Atefeh's death sentence, beyond all normal procedures and finally gained the approval of the Supreme Court. After her execution Rezai said her punishment was not execution but he had her executed for her "sharp tongue".

Like many girls in the Muslim world Sahelah was evidently put on trial because she was the object of some man's (or men's) sexual advances. She may have been complicit or the advances may have been forced upon her. In Islamic law it's all the same. She's been soiled and is deserving of death. Allah must be pleased.

Lest one think that this is just an aberration among the merciful and compassionate followers of the Prophet, AllahPundit links us to this site where recent examples of Islamic justice are catalogued so that the infidels may get a foretaste of the glorious world that awaits the divinely-ordained global establishment of Sharia law.

And Americans, whose sixteen year old daughters are ensconced safely in their $350,000 homes, in their ignorance, ridiculed George Bush for proclaiming Iran to be part of an axis of evil. Ronald Reagan declared the Soviet Union to be an evil empire, and although this was obviously true to those who lived under its boot for seventy years, Reagan was loudly chastised by the left for his temerity in stating that truth. Nevertheless, that speech was instrumental in precipitating the collapse of totalitarian communism six years later.

George Bush has the moral clarity to speak the truth about the evil in Iran and we may hope that his words, like Reagan's, will have shaken the foundations of Iranian oppression so that even now fissures are spreading throughout that ghastly system that will one day cause its collapse, and with it the culture of death that is contemporary Islam.

The SBVT Controversy

The Democrats and their media accomplices are finally emerging from their journalistic slumbers and beginning to work themselves into a froth over the Swift Boat vets and their ads. Although no one at the NYT, WaPo, or the Nets seems to be interested in actually investigating the vets charges, of course, all manner of questions are now being raised about who's funding them, what their motives are, whether there are connections to the Bush campaign, etc. Everything about this group and their claims is being scrutinized except the only thing that really matters: The truth of the claims themselves. That little issue is being buried under an avalanche of slime from the lefties, who are more interested in trying to obscure the issues than to shed light on them.

Chris Matthews' treatment of Michelle Malkin is a good example of the embarrassing silliness of the left's response to the Swift Boat vets charges. Malkin, a guest on Matthews' Hardball show Thursday night made the obvious assertion that there are those who think that some of John Kerry's wounds in Vietnam were self-inflicted. Anyone who has been following this story would know exactly what she was referring to, but Matthews, apparently hearing this news for the first time, became almost hysterical. Everytime Malkin tried to explain to the viewers what it means to have a self-inflicted wound Matthews interrupted her, drowning her out, and ranting that it was ridiculous and despicable to say that Kerry deliberately shot himself to get out of Vietnam. In trying to discredit and obfuscate Malkin's words he managed to show himself to be a complete buffoon.

To say that a wound is self-inflicted is to say that the agent was the cause of his own injury. No one claims that Kerry deliberately injured himself, much less was anything said about shooting himself. The testimony of the swiftees is that Kerry accidentally superficially wounded himself through his own reckless action. Such wounds, not resulting from enemy fire, do not merit a purple heart. This is all that Malkin was attempting to clarify, over Matthews' boorish, fatuous, and frenzied protests. It's an obvious distinction, but nevertheless too esoteric, apparently, for some minds to comprehend.

While Matthews' has comported himself on this issue like a man on the edge of insanity, his colleague at MSDNC (oops, MSNBC), Joe Scarborough of Scarborough Country, has set the standard for journalistic objectivity and decorum. In Viewpoint's opinion he has done the best job on television of establishing the conditions for a useful debate between antagonists and allowing the viewer to decide for himself where the truth lies. He serves as a moderator, keeping the disputants on the topic and staying out of the fray himself. Kudos.

On the subject of the Swift Boat controversy here are two interesting items courtesy of Powerline which has been posting some great stuff on the issue over the last couple of weeks.

The first has to do with the charge that the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth are funded by a "wealthy Republican" as if this were somehow shocking to a party propped up by people like billionaire George Soros who has promised to spend his entire fortune if it would unseat George Bush. If the Democrats are going to of a sudden wax sanctimonious and assure us that it is offensive them that big money donors are supporting ads critical of their candidate, it should be noted that it is the Democrat party which is disproportionately reliant upon the fat cats. Power Line relays this from Little Green Footballs:

Now that John Kerry and the Democrats have started denouncing section 527 committees, it's worth pointing out that of the twenty-five largest contributors to 527's, only one -- that's right, one -- is a Republican. The top two donors are Peter Lewis ($14,030,000) and George Soros ($12,600,000). Altogether, the 24 Democrats contributed $56,693,000. The lone Republican donated $1,020,000.

And here's an exquisite piece of hypocrisy from the Dems who are complaining now that the Swift Boat vets know people who know members of the Bush family, which ties are, for the desperate minds in the Kerry camp, ipso facto proof of collusion. Power Line writes:

Reader Cecil Bordages sent us a link to this MSNBC story titled "Kerry says Bush broke the law in TV ad dispute." Cecil comments:

Here's the amazing part...about half way through the main article is this section: "Out of desperation, the Bush campaign has picked the wrong fight with the wrong veteran," said Jim Jordan, former Kerry campaign manager who now runs an outside group airing ads against Bush. "Today's the start of the mother of all backlashes."

Let me see if I got this straight...the proof of the connection between SBVT and Bush is ...the same person had donated to both SBVT and the Bush campaign...another person once worked for Bush advisor Karl Rove ...and other similar tenous connections, must certainly mean that the Bush campaign and SBVT are working together.

However, when Kerry's former campaign manager is now running an organization which airs anti-Bush adds, there's not even a whif of concern about a connection. Unbelievable.

Unbelievable indeed. Sometimes I wonder whether reporters even read the stuff they write.

There's much more about Kerry's military service that the elite media have just not yet been able to find space for, evidently. His claim to have been in Cambodia on Christmas eve of 1968, repeated several times, once from the floor of the Senate, and his claims to have on more than one occasion inserted special ops personnel into Cambodia, have been shown to be almost certainly false. This is devastating to Kerry's credibility and, coupled with his numerous reversals on important issues, paints a portrait of a man who will say or do just about anything to realize his ambition. Kerry is day by day revealing himself to be a hollow man.

For anyone interested in following developments on the matter of Kerry's claims about his military accomplishments, which he has himself declared his chief qualification for the presidency, Viewpoint recommends PowerLine and Hugh Hewitt, and the great sites to which they link.