Kerry Flip-Flops. Again. Blame Placed on Aides. Again.

No “Assault Rifle” After All.

And we should be surprised… Why? (Hat tip, Instapundit.)

No Assault Rifle for Kerry, After All


Published: New York Times, September 27, 2004

Senator John Kerry’s campaign said yesterday that Mr. Kerry did not own a Chinese assault rifle, as he was quoted as saying in Outdoor Life magazine, but a single-bolt-action military rifle, blaming aides who filled out the magazine’s questionnaire on his behalf for the error.

Michael Meehan, a spokesman for the campaign, said Mr. Kerry, the Democratic presidential nominee, owns two guns, a double-barreled 12-gauge shotgun and the rifle, which Mr. Meehan said Mr. Kerry “keeps as a relic” and had never fired. Mr. Meehan said the gun had no make or model markings on it and that Mr. Kerry “got it from a friend years ago,” adding that such rifles were first manufactured in Russia more than 100 years ago and were used by the North Koreans and the Vietcong.

The clarification came in response to an article yesterday in The New York Times quoting Mr. Kerry’s response to a question by Outdoor Life: “What is your favorite gun?”

“My favorite gun is the M-16 that saved my life and that of my crew in Vietnam,” said Mr. Kerry, a veteran, according to the October issue. “I don’t own one of those now, but one of my reminders of my service is a Communist Chinese assault rifle.”

Though the comment was presented by Outdoor Life as part of an “exclusive interview with the two presidential candidates,” four pages that included many long, conversational answers using first-person pronouns, Mr. Meehan said Mr. Kerry’s portions were written by his staff. A public relations representative for Outdoor Life did not respond to a message seeking comment.

Wow. Two whole guns. And he hunts deer with his trap gun? Crawls through the mud with it?

Yeah. Right.

I figured something like this would come out. Kerry’s stupid enough and haughty enough to actually have an AK-47 bring-back and admit to it, but as soon as the SHTF, he’d deny, deny, deny. After all, laws are for the little people don’tcha know?

With a staff as obviously incompetent as it is, this man expects us to select him for President? He can’t select a decent staff. We’re to believe he can select a competent cabinet? And what about Supreme Court justices?

UPDATE: Michelle Malkin shows why she’s a professional, and I’m just an amateur at this.

I Suppose This is Bush’s Fault, Too?

It looks like Mt. St. Helens is considering redecorating again. Can we blame this on the failure to ratify the Kyoto Treaty?

Let’s see… Four hurricanes whack Florida in six weeks, with the remnants causing flooding in the Eastern Seaboard and Midwest, now we’ve got earthquakes at Mt. St. Helens. All we’re missing is a plague of locusts, and the Cubs winning the pennant and the apocalypse will be upon us. Ashcroft must be so happy!

And Kerry still can’t win.

Now That They Smell Blood in the Water (much of it their own) The Media Attacks!

I stayed away from the Kerry “assault rifle” story because it was being covered so well by so many others, but now the New York Times has a piece on it. The NYT! Best I can figure, they believe that if they now savage Kerry instead of along with Bush, they can deflect the charge of Leftist partisanship. (Too late, boys. Far too late.)

Anyway, if you’re one of the six people who haven’t heard the story, Bush and Kerry were interviewed by Outdoor Life magazine on various hunting, fishing, and shooting questions, but the question carried early on in the article was this:

OL: Are you a gun owner? If so, what is your favorite gun?

And the answers were:

Bush: Yes. My favorite gun is a Weatherby, Athena 20-gauge (over/under).

Kerry: My favorite gun is the M-16 that saved my life and that of my crew in Vietnam. I don’t own one of those now, but one of my reminders of my service is a Communist Chinese assault rifle.

Oh, really? First, as Instapundit asked, is there any question that Kerry won’t answer with a reference to his time in Vietnam?

Well, the NYT had some other questions:

In Magazine Interview, Kerry Says He Owns Assault Rifle


Published: September 26, 2004

Senator John Kerry, a hunter who supported the recently expired assault weapons ban, frequently tells audiences he has never met anyone who wanted to use an AK-47 to shoot a deer. But it is not clear what Mr. Kerry does with the Chinese assault rifle he told Outdoor Life magazine he kept in his personal collection.

In interviews appearing in the October issue of Outdoor Life, Mr. Kerry and President Bush were asked whether they were gun owners, and, if so, to identify their favorite gun.

Mr. Bush named the Weatherby 20 gauge (although he gave a slightly different answer in a separate chat with Field and Stream magazine.) Mr. Kerry’s answer was more complicated.

“My favorite gun is the M-16 that saved my life and that of my crew in Vietnam,” Mr. Kerry told the magazine. “I don’t own one of those now, but one of my reminders of my service is a Communist Chinese assault rifle.”

Mr. Kerry’s campaign would not say what model rifle Mr. Kerry was referring to, where he got it and when, or how many guns he owned. A spokesman for the senator, Michael Meehan, said Mr. Kerry was a registered gun owner in Massachusetts. On Thursday morning, Mr. Meehan said he had not been able to ask Mr. Kerry about the rifle because of Mr. Kerry’s hoarse voice; he did not respond to further inquiries.

You’ve got to be kidding me. They actually expect anybody to buy that excuse?

Andrew Arulanandam, a spokesman for the National Rifle Association – which has given Mr. Kerry “F” ratings throughout his career and backs Mr. Bush’s re-election – said the Outdoor Life comment made Mr. Kerry’s support of the assault weapons ban disingenuous.

“It’s O.K. for John Kerry to own these kinds of firearms, but it’s not O.K. for John Q. Public?” Mr. Arulanandam said, noting that if Mr. Kerry brought the gun home from the war as a souvenir he could be subject to court-martial. “He certainly owes people an explanation as to why there’s a double standard.”

Stephen P. Halbrook, a gun rights lawyer who has argued several cases before the Supreme Court, said the most common Chinese assault rifles, known as SKS clones, were not among the 19 models banned under the 1994 law. But some SKS’s have magazines holding more than 10 rounds, which violates a Massachusetts law against large-capacity weapons, Mr. Halbrook said. If the gun is fully automatic, Mr. Halbrook said, it is illegal in Massachusetts and would require a federal permit if Mr. Kerry kept it at one of his homes in Pennsylvania and Idaho.

Such permits are not public records.

Bob Ricker, a former N.R.A. lawyer who is now a consultant for the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, said he was not worried by Mr. Kerry’s answer because “he knows a lot about firearms and he’s also one of the most credible individuals when it comes to talking about gun-violence prevention and what it takes to keep weapons of war off the street.”

In other words, Mr. Ricker just answered Andrew Arulanandam’s question in the affirmative. It is OK for John Kerry to own an “assault rifle” but not John Q. Public, and there is a double standard.

Mr. Bush does not have such high-powered weapons but seems unable to pick a consistent favorite. To Field and Stream, he said, “My favorite gun is the first gun that my dad gave me, which is a Winchester .22 pump, Model 61.”

Obviously the NYT just doesn’t understand gun people (which Public Editor Daniel Okrent admitted to in his piece Is the New York Times a Liberal Newspaper? on July 25:

But if you’re examining the paper’s coverage of these subjects from a perspective that is neither urban nor Northeastern nor culturally seen-it-all; if you are among the groups The Times treats as strange objects to be examined on a laboratory slide (devout Catholics, gun owners, Orthodox Jews, Texans); if your value system wouldn’t wear well on a composite New York Times journalist, then a walk through this paper can make you feel you’re traveling in a strange and forbidding world.

I’ve got several “favorite guns.” My favorite target pistol is my Remington XP-100. My favorite rifle is my 1917 Enfield. My favorite handgun is my Kimber Classic. So, what’s their point? Anyway, to continue:

He also mentioned the Weatherby he chose for Outdoor Life, saying that it was a “custom-made gun presented to me by the C.E.O. of the company, Mr. Weatherby.” Mr. Bush said he had “six or seven guns” in his office safe, including two .22’s, deer rifles and a .243-caliber “varmint” rifle.

“Given to me by the former lieutenant governor of Texas, Bob Bullock, my old buddy,” Mr. Bush explained of the .243-caliber rifle, “who on his deathbed said, ‘I want to give you a gun.’ “

Damn, I like President Bush!

The question I find most interesting, though, is where did Kerry get a “Communist Chinese Assault Rifle?” Was it from Ho Chi Minh on his deathbed? Or one of those “foreign leaders” who wants Kerry to be President? Or maybe Johnny Chung? Or did he “illegally import it” as a bring-back from Vietnam?

With all due respect, Mr. Kerry, the laryngitis dodge ain’t working. Answer the questions! America deserves to know.

More Harvard PhD Fisking….

Well, there was some pretty enthusiastic response from the last piece, so I’ll continue my dissection of Harvard Magazine’s recent piece, Death by the Barrel, a review of Harvard PhD. David Hemmenway’s most recent book, Private Guns, Public Health: A Dramatic New Plan for Ending America’s Epidemic of Gun Violence. In the last installment I dissected Dr. Hemenway’s bait-and-switch between a legitimate question, “Why manufacture guns that go off when you drop them?”, and a bogus diversion to the topic of “childproof guns.” Now we’ll continue where I left off.

The next paragraph of the piece is

Hemenway’s work on guns and violence is a natural evolution of his research on injuries of various kinds, which he has pursued for decades. (In fact, it could be traced as far back as the 1960s, when, working for Ralph Nader, LL.B. ’58, he investigated product safety as one of “Nader’s Raiders.”) Hemenway says he doesn’t have a personal issue with guns; he has shot firearms, but found the experience “loud and dirty—and there’s no exercise”—as opposed to the “paintball” survival games he enjoys, which involve not only shooting but “a lot of running.” He also happens to live in a state with strong gun laws. “It’s nice,” he says, “to have raised my son in Massachusetts, where he is so much safer.”

Oh, please. First, we establish Dr. Hemenway’s bona fides by revealing that he’s a Naderite, out for the selfless defense of the little guy against rapacious and irresponsible corporations (like gun manufacturers, natch.) But! Hemenway doesn’t have a “personal issue” with guns, he’s shot them, so he’s shown himself to be an unbiased observer! He even plays paintball!

Ladies and gentlemen, the presidential nominee for the Democrat party shoots trap. That doesn’t make him impartial when it comes to firearms. A rose by any other name…

All of this prelude is predictably ruined by the last two lines: “He also happens to live in a state with strong gun laws. ‘It’s nice,’ he says, ‘to have raised my son in Massachusetts, where he is so much safer.'” Safer than where? He lives in BOSTON. Safer than Chicago, with its even more restrictive gun laws. Safer than D.C. with its near-absolute prohibition on firearms, certainly. But Dr. Hemenway, or at least the article author, seems to credit that safety to Massachussetts’ “strong gun laws.” Well, according to this article, apparently not.

Slayings raise fears that more will follow

Boston officials wary of return of ’90s gang wars
By John McElhenny
and Ron DePasquale, Globe Correspondents, 2/16/2004

The brazen killings of two Boston teenagers in crowded public settings over the last three days have ignited concerns about a return to the street violence that plagued the city a decade ago.

Nine homicides have occurred in Boston in the first six weeks of the year, a rate that far exceeds last year, when three people were killed by mid-February. Boston did not see its ninth homicide last year until mid-April.

Specialists said that violent crime across the country has remained flat in recent years, with a notable exception: Gang-related violence is on the rise.

James Alan Fox, a criminal justice professor at Northeastern University, said gang-related violence had increased in particular in Chicago and Los Angeles, where gang activity grew in the late 1980s and early 1990s before spreading to other cities.

Many gang leaders in Boston and other cities were imprisoned on federal charges in the late 1980s and early 1990s but have now been released, Fox said.

“They’re coming back to their old neighborhoods, and their old pals, and their old ways,” said Fox. “There’s reason for concern that gang killings could be on the rise.”

Gangs fueled the violence that pushed Boston to a record-high 152 murders in 1990. The violence that year continued into the next year, and by Feb. 15, 1991, the city reported 18 homicides.

In the early 1990s, the city’s public safety officials fought back with a variety of efforts and homicides fell sharply throughout the decade.

Some attributed the drop to law enforcement programs such as the police department’s community policing approach and the “antigang violence unit,” which confiscated guns and sent hundreds of violent young people to prison. Others credited the delivery of more social services and the expansion of programs such as the Safe Neighborhoods Plan, which encouraged people to serve as role models in their neighborhoods.

By 2001 the city’s homicide rate had fallen to 66. It fell to 60 in 2002 and 41 last year.

Philip J. Carver, president of the Pope’s Hill Neighborhood Association in Dorchester, said the “Boston miracle” that saw violent crime plummet in the second half of the 1990s was due to effective cooperation among various law enforcement agencies, from police to parole officers to the Suffolk District Attorney’s Office.

But a few years ago, Carver said, the money that had gone to some neighborhood anticrime efforts dried up and children began filling the vacuum in gang leadership created when the older generation went to prison.

“I’m not saying we got lazy, but we lost focus,” said Carver. “Once we took the higher echelon of gang leaders out, we became lax.”

That’s interesting. Note that they didn’t give credit for the low rate of homicide to Massachussetts’ gun laws, but to aggressive prosecution of gang leaders. And after “losing focus” that problem has reasserted itself as an increase in homicide.

Personally, I’d rather live in Tucson, where according to this National Institute of Justice report (PDF) we had a a mean homicide rate of 8.31/100,000 population over the period from 1985 to 1994, and an average population of a bit over 405,000. Boston during that same period had a mean homicide rate of 17.0 and a mean population of 571,000. Hell, Phoenix had a mean rate of 13.57 and a mean population of almost 974,000. Arizona is a border state and a major thoroughfare for drug traffic.

In case you weren’t aware, Arizona also allows unlicensed open carry of firearms, no waiting period, and private transfers are perfectly legal. It’s also a Class III state (full-auto and suppressors are legal here.) We got licensed concealed carry in 1994.

But Massachussetts’ gun laws are responsible for it being safe. Check.

Next paragraph:

Statistically, the United States is not a particularly violent society. Although gun proponents like to compare this country with hot spots like Colombia, Mexico, and Estonia (making America appear a truly peaceable kingdom), a more relevant comparison is against other high-income, industrialized nations. The percentage of the U.S. population victimized in 2000 by crimes like assault, car theft, burglary, robbery, and sexual incidents is about average for 17 industrialized countries, and lower on many indices than Canada, Australia, or New Zealand.

This is that “just enough accuracy” part I spoke of in the first piece. However, this paragraph fails to note that the U.S. has far, FAR less “crimes like assault, car theft, burglary, robbery” than the UK – the industrialized European country with by far the most restrictive firearms laws. Why that particular omission, I wonder?


“The only thing that jumps out is lethal violence,” Hemenway says. Violence, pace H. Rap Brown, is not “as American as cherry pie,” but American violence does tend to end in death. The reason, plain and simple, is guns. We own more guns per capita than any other high-income country—maybe even more than one gun for every man, woman, and child in the country. A 1994 survey numbered the U.S. gun supply at more than 200 million in a population then numbered at 262 million, and currently about 35 percent of American households have guns. (These figures count only civilian guns; Switzerland, for example, has plenty of military weapons per capita.)

Wait a minute…

What difference does it make if Switzerland has “plenty of military weapons per capita?” The bulk of those guns are kept in Swiss homes. All males of military age are required to keep an honest-to-jeebus assault rifle at home, and ammunition for it. Finland has a lot of guns and its lethal violence rate is quite low, too. According to Ryerson University of Ontario, about 36% of households in Switzerland contain a firearm, about 50% of households in Finland, and about 35% of households in the U.S. (which agrees with the Harvard article). What this means is that gun ownership is more widespread in Finland (a higher percentage own firearms) but American gun owners tend to own a lot more firearms per person. If there are more households containing guns, and the reason, “plain and simple” for America’s higher level of lethal violence is gun availability, shouldn’t Switzerland and Finland have higher or at least equivalent levels of lethal violence compared to the United States? That’s what the next paragraph says:

“It’s not as if a 19-year-old in the United States is more evil than a 19-year-old in Australia—there’s no evidence for that,” Hemenway explains. “But a 19-year-old in America can very easily get a pistol. That’s very hard to do in Australia. So when there’s a bar fight in Australia, somebody gets punched out or hit with a beer bottle. Here, they get shot.”

Ah! Now it’s not guns, but handguns that are the cause. Or are they?

In general, guns don’t induce people to commit crimes. “What guns do is make crimes lethal,” says Hemenway. They also make suicide attempts lethal: about 60 percent of suicides in America involve guns. “If you try to kill yourself with drugs, there’s a 2 to 3 percent chance of dying,” he explains. “With guns, the chance is 90 percent.”

Hold your horses. You’re doing another bait-and-switch. We were talking about criminal assaults, and now you’ve jumped to suicide. Apples and oranges, as I’ve illustrated before.

I’m quite willing to concede that firearms are more lethal than beer bottles or even knives. The level of violence among young males is also quite high. But I believe it really is culture that determines whether youth violence results in death or not. I covered part of this in the three Dangerous Victims essays (see the last three links under Best Posts in the left column of the blog). I covered it in more detail in a much older post, Racist!™

Homicide in the United States is tremendously concentrated in a very small portion of the population. If that portion of the population suffered homicide at the same rate as the rest of society, America’s homicide rate would be near middle of the pack for industrialized Europe. Read the piece, at least the first half. It’s not something you’re likely to see in the mainstream media.

In the next piece, I’ll deconstruct the “guns cause suicide” meme. Again.

Alternate Universes

Jeff Soyer has an interesting post up in the “What if?” column.

So here is a reader participation question. Let’s pretend it is now the year 2020 and liberals and Democrats have ruled the world. A few years ago (think England or Canada) they passed laws requiring that everyone submit to a federal (i.e. country-wide, universal) gun registration program. Yeah, it probably wouldn’t happen but, BUT! What if it did? And then, a few years later, in (our hypothetical scenario here) they decided to (like England and Australia in years past) decided that NO ONE should own a gun because it’s for the “common good” and they (the US Government) decided to use that registration list to start confiscating all citizens’ firearms…

Folks, I know this is just idle speculation right now but it really ISN’T so far-fetched. What if it really happened?

What would you do?

Go answer there. This should be fascinating.

Another Request

Reader David Smith sent me a link to a Harvard Magazine article by Craig Lambert entitled Death by the Barrel with the suggestion:

Being a scientist myself, I take particular offense to the editor’s claim of using the scientific method. Anyway, I thought you might enjoy fisking a Harvard PhD for all he’s worth.

I guess I should be flattered for a reader to suggest that I’m qualified to fisk a Harvard PhD, so I read the article. It’s a review of David Hemenway’s book Private Guns, Public Health: A Dramatic New Plan for Ending America’s Epidemic of Gun Violence. Very skillfully done with virtuoso talent at misdirection, spin, suggestion and exaggeration mixed with just enough accuracy to make it all seem perfectly reasonable. In all, very fiskworthy, so I shall, David. So I shall.

Let us begin:

This particular gun story took place, ironically enough, at the 1997 convention of the American Public Health Association in Indianapolis. There, among a group of white-collar professionals and academics, a seemingly minor incident quickly led to mayhem. While eating dinner at the Planet Hollywood restaurant, a patron bent to pick something up from the floor. A small pistol fell from his pocket, hit the floor, and went off. The bullet struck and injured two convention delegates waiting to be seated; both women went to the hospital.

“Why manufacture guns that go off when you drop them?” asks professor of health policy David Hemenway ’66, Ph.D. ’74. “Kids play with guns. We put childproof safety caps on aspirin bottles because if kids take too many aspirin, they get sick. You could blame the parents for gun accidents but, as with aspirin, manufacturers could help. It’s very easy to make childproof guns.”

Logic like this pervades Hemenway’s new book, Private Guns, Public Health (University of Michigan Press), which takes an original approach to an old problem by applying a scientific perspective to firearms. Hemenway, who directs the Harvard Injury Control Research Center at the School of Public Health ( ), summarizes and interprets findings from hundreds of surveys and from epidemiological and field studies to deliver on the book’s subtitle: A Dramatic New Plan for Ending America’s Epidemic of Gun Violence. The empirical groundwork enables Hemenway, whose doctorate is in economics, to sidestep decades of political arm-wrestling over gun control. “The gun-control debate often makes it look like there are only two options: either take away people’s guns, or not,” he says. “That’s not it at all. This is more like a harm-reduction strategy. Recognize that there are a lot of guns out there, and that reasonable gun policies can minimize the harm that comes from them.”

Let’s start with the first obvious misdirection. Hemenway goes from the question “why manufacture guns that go off when you drop them” – a reasonable question, by the way – to the contention “It’s very easy to make childproof guns.”

This is called “bait and switch.” They’re entirely separate and unrelated questions, and the second one is largely bogus, but because it involves “the Children™” it immediately draws a sympathetic reaction from the average reader. Could “manufacturers help” make guns “childproof”? Probably, but the comparison isn’t a reasonable one. The “childproof cap” law was first passed in 1972 as the Poison Prevention Packaging Act. It mandated that not only drugs, but any poisonous substance be provided in a package

…that is designed or constructed to be significantly difficult for children under five years of age to open or obtain a toxic or harmful amount of the substance contained therein within a reasonable time and not difficult for normal adults to use properly, but does not mean packaging which all such children cannot open or obtain a toxic or harmful amount within a reasonable time.”

First problem? Well, according to this article reviewing the 1995 revision of the act,

While the old caps kept children out, many older people had so much trouble opening them that they either left the caps off or put their medication in non-childproof containers, posing even more of a danger to children, says Jo Reed, senior coordinator of consumer issues for AARP.

That’s known as “The Law of Unintended Consequences.” If I recall correctly, after passage of that law, the number of child poisonings went up for a while. People reasoned “it’s not dangerous, it’s childproof. I don’t have to keep it in the medicine cabinet or store it on a high shelf.”

With guns, the same “unintended consequence” might very well occur. Because the gun is “childproof,” might the owner/parent leave it more accessible? And in a defense gun, what if the gun cannot be made fireable at time of need? Smith & Wesson, for instance, now manufactures their revolvers with an internal lock that requires a key. When locked, the hammer cannot be moved and the cylinder cannot be rotated. That makes the gun “child safe,” (if you actually do lock it) but what if you cannot find the key in the dark when an intruder is attempting to break down your bedroom door? That’s a situation not encountered when discussing the normal use of household poisons.

The next question becomes, “how long would it take for design changes to affect child safety?” Chemicals are consumeables and their containers are disposable. It didn’t take very long after child-protective caps were mandated for them to supplant non-safety caps in circulation. Yet there are over 60 million handguns in private hands today, and they aren’t going to end up in landfills as soon as the owner empties the magazine or fires all the shots in the cylinder. Any law requiring new handguns to be equipped with “child safety” features would be essentially ineffective for decades because of those 60+ million handguns already out there.

And finally, “how big is the problem of children being accidentally shot, anyway?” From this March 19, 2000 Whitehouse press release,

In 1962, almost 450 children died of poisoning after swallowing medicines or household chemicals. By 1996, that tragic statistic had been reduced to 47.

Well, the Centers for Disease Control’s WISQARS tool says the total in 1996 was 60 for children 5 years old and younger, but let’s not quibble. What was the injury mortality for children in that same age bracket by accidental gunshot? According to WISQARS, 19.

Obviously poisoning was a significant problem for very young children that was addressed with some effectiveness by the Poison Prevention Packaging Act, but could we expect a similar reduction in accidental deaths by a “Childproof Gun Act”? There is no reason to believe so. As noted, older guns would still be in circulation, and since an an there are only an additional one million or so new handguns added each year it would take quite a while for them to represent a significant percentage of available guns. Second, people irresponsible enough to leave loaded firearms around where children can access them cannot be expected to be responsible enough to engage the “child safety” feature, can they? Third, “child safety” caps were designed to protect toddlers. Remember, the law was directed to make it “significantly difficult for children under five years of age” to access poisonous substances. Older children were recognized to have the necessary skills to defeat them, but were expected to have the necessary knowledge of the dangers of doing so. The same would be true of firearms. (Anybody remember the joke that “Only kids can open the damned Childproof caps”?)

So Dr. Hemenway has attempted to deceive you by suggesting that “childproof caps” and “childproof guns” would be equivalents, and would prevent many unfortunate accidental deaths. What he doesn’t expect you to understand is that “childproof caps” were only designed to address the accidental poisoning of very young children, and that “childproof guns,” under the same criteria, still wouldn’t “solve” what is, in fact, a statistically very small problem. What Dr. Hemenway also does not tell you is that without “childproof” features, the number of accidental deaths by gunshot has been decreasing ever since we’ve kept track. The WISQARS tool only goes back as far as 1981, but that year there were 51 accidental gunshot deaths of children 0-4 years old. In 1985 there were 43. In 1990, 34. In 1995, 20. In 2001, 17.

Author Craig Lambert tells us that “logic like this pervades Hemenway’s new book”. Of that I have no doubt.

This is long enough as an opening piece. I’ll continue the deconstruction later, if I get enough interested feedback.

Santayana was Right: “Those Who Forget History are Destined to Repeat It.”

Unbelieveable. I’ve had a couple of short email exchanges with Michael D. Bryan, author of the (formerly pro-Dean, now Pro-Kerry) Blog for Arizona.

Let me put it this way: In the new dictionary under “Barking Moonbat” it will have an excerpt from this blog. His most recent piece is Voting for the Middle East. Let me give you some excerpts:

Despite criticism of the approach of all out assault of urban areas by former Marine command officers, such as Lt. Gen. James Conway, former commander of the Marine Expeditionary Force in Iraq which assaulted Falujah, the Administration appears to have issued orders to prepare for renewed assaults on ‘no go’ urban areas immediately following the Presidential election. The likely result will be extremely high casualities among American troops and civilians in target areas which would be unacceptable to voters prior to an election.

Major policy shifts in Iraq, like this one, are in the cards if Bush is re-elected. We will continue to kill innocents and battle insurgents without any clear rationale beyond compete military, political, and economic dominance of Iraq. Richard Clark posed a very salient question tonight on the Daily Show. Why are we killing these people? For 9/11? No. Because they have WMD? No. Because they support Saddam? No. Because they oppose democracy? No, they want democratic governance, too. So why? Because the terms under which they want democracy would not leave us in control. Simple as that – we are killing these people because they do not wish us to control them. Is that who we are as a nation? November 2nd will answer that question.

Like that? Try this:

Meanwhile an Iran ‘regime change’ resolution makes its way through Congress, we are selling bunker busters to Israel for use on Iran, and the Pentagon and Israel are wargaming first strike options. Sanctions are also fraught with danger of misstep and miscalculation, they are as likely to cause Iran to accelerate any weapons program as to abandon it, but unlike military action, nobody gets vaporized. The future of our relationship with Iran will also be determined by our Presidential elections. Bush seems firmly on a course of purposefully escalating the crisis with Iran in hopes of a decisive step by Iran giving the NeoCons the pretext they need to gain UNSC approval, or to be able to claim an eminent threat exists for a pre-emptive strike. Kerry will attempt to rachet down the crisis and gain oversight of nuclear fuels in Iran while engaging the Iranian regime constructively and then pressing for democratic reform. The Iranians have legitimate security and commericial interests in the region, if we deny them the ability to pursue those interests legally, they will do so illicitly.

Now, the conclusion:

This election will largely determine these very important questions of war and peace in the Middle East. The equation is really very simple:

Bush = war, death, isolation, catastrophic failure

Kerry = peace, life, alliances, planning for success

I believe we’ve been in a similar position before. Let me see if I can illustrate his error, at the risk of invoking Godwin’s Law:

Bush = grasp on reality, plan to deal with it, difficult and dangerous but necessary course of action, “blood, toil, tears, and sweat:” Winston Churchill

Kerry = “Peace in our Time:” Neville Chamberlain

We cannot allow the Left to regain their grasp on the levers of power. We dare not. They see Iranian acquisition of nukes as an exercise in their “legitimate security interests.” But the Mad Mullahs aren’t interested in invading a Sudetenland for lebensraum they want nukes so that they can obliterate Israel and spread Islam by conquest, as that religion specifically requires.

Mr. Bryan is just one more example of the mindset of the Left, and a textbook example at that.

Eric S. Raymond on the MSM and the Falling Cost of Communications

Well, Eric is back with a vengeance with his essay MSM Loses its Power to Swing Elections . Interesting as always, here’s some of the highlights:

There are many reasons besides Rathergate that Kerry is losing so badly. He’s a pathetically weak candidate — a lousy stump speaker with no program and a nearly nonexistent legislative record, who ran on his Vietnam service only to have that prop knocked out from under him by former crewmates and superiors who accuse him of having been cowardly, opportunistic, and unfit for command. In fact, Kerry has no discernable political base of his own at all; his entire appeal comes from not being George W. Bush.

But Kerry’s weaknesses, glaring though they are, are not the interesting part of the explanation. It’s the MSM’s inability to cover them up and make them a non-story that is really interesting. The attempt to present Kerry and Edwards as “dynamic”, “optimistic” and “young” to which Evan Thomas admitted has mostly made them look vacillating, frivolous and jejune instead. CBS, the New York Times, the Boston Globe and the other centers of the MSM had also been trying very hard to bury and discredit the Swift Vets; nevertheless, Unfit For Command is now the #1 nonfiction bestseller in the United States.

Nor were the MSM, despite a visible effort to do so, able to suppress the evidence that Dan Rather’s anti-Bush memoranda had been forged. In fact, as I write they are proving unable to defend even the exculpatory fiction that Rather was an innocent dupe. The fact has come out that CBS was told in advance that two of the six documents it had were almost certainly bogus by its own examiners, and then witheld the other four from expert scrutiny and ran with the story anyway. The implications of that fact are being now dissected not just on partisan right-wing websites but out where the general public can see it.

Before the Internet and cheap long-distance phone calls, pulling together a cooperative network large enough to produce and back Unfit For Command, or to perform forensic analysis on the Rather memos, would have been an extremely expensive and long-drawn-out operation. The market for ideas had a much longer clearing time then. In fact it is rather unlikely these sorts of organization would even have been attempted more than a decade ago — everybody’s perception of the time and money cost would have been prohibitive.

Other forces are in play as well. One is that people are less willing than they used to be to derive their identities and a static set of political affiliations from the things about themselves that they can’t change. Your family’s politics is a far less important predictor of your vote than it was a generation ago (which, among other things, is why conservative talk of a “Roe effect”, of liberal abortion supporters selecting themselves out of the population, sounds so much like wishful thinking). Union membership stopped being predictive sometime in Ronald Reagan’s second term. Even traditional racial and ethnic interest blocs seem to be crumbling at the edges.

Increasingly, political power is flowing to consciously-formed interest groups that arise to respond to individual issues and survive (if they survive) as voluntary subcultures. The Swift Vets and are highly visible examples of the trend. Internet hackers organizing against the DMCA and for open-source software is another. Indeed, the blogosphere as we know it is a voluntary subculture formed largely from the reaction to the trauma of 9/11.

To people in these subcultures, traditional party and ideological labels are less and less interesting. Case in point: Glenn Reynolds (aka InstaPundit), the pro-Iraq-war, pro-gay-marriage, anti-gun-control, pro-drug-legalization king of the bloggers. Is he a liberal Democrat with some conservative positions? A South Park Republican? A pragmatic libertarian? Not only do Glenn’s own writings make it difficult to tell, he seems to determined to flirt with all these categories without committing to any of them. Other prominent bloggers, including those who broke Rathergate, exhibit a similar pattern. The MSM, looking through a left-wing prism, sees it as conservatism — but most bloggers despise the Religious Right and Buchananite paleoconservatism as heartily as they loathe Noam Chomsky.

Hear, hear! RTWT. And be sure to read the comments, such as this one from Allan Yackey

It is my belief that communications is what brought down the iron curtain. I see the blogs as a logical extension of the explosion of communications. Although I had heard of the blogs earlier. I only really discovered them as a result of John Kerry and Dan Rather. But I more than like what I see here. My own political positions leave me where it is difficult to identify me with a label. I have an example that I have been using recently. In a small town it is difficult for anyone to be a sucessful thief or to commit adultry. Everyone knows everyone else. Anything that an individual does or says is seen or heard by a member of the community who will communicate it to someone else, etc. As the world grew it became possible to do or say something in one place and something exactly different someplace else. You could do this with confidence that no one in location one would likely know or communicate with someone in location two. That condition no longer exists. What I have posted on one web site can be accessed from anywhere in the world. Whatever I have written anywhere, anytime is accessable to anyone anywhere. We are indeed in the “global village”. As my grandmother used to say, “be certain that your sins will find you out”

The internet has a looooong memory, and Google is its retrieval device. Kerry has tried to say one thing in Poughkeepsie and another in Long Island, and been unable to get away with it, even with the MSM covering for him.

We are living in interesting times.