Saturday, August 07, 2004


Howard Dean's dangerous political games were detrimental to the War on Terror. Bloggers like Kevin Drum make matters worse by poisoning the discourse, giving credibility to conspiracy theories and engaging in paranoid ruminations over the Homeland Security terror warnings.

Playing with matches can start a disastrous fire. Playing politics with terror alerts can also have serious consequences. Last Sunday, Howard Dean accused the Bush Administration of using cynical methods to manipulate terror alert warnings. The national media and other Democrats followed suit, saying that the basis for the latest alerts were based on old information. The political hits were taking a toll. Many Americans were beginning to wonder if their fears of terrorism were being plied with carefully and politically calculated announcements. The subsequent response to produce timely evidence of the reason why the terror threat level was raised has caused consternation in other countries fighting the war on terrorism.

MSNBC - Pakistan: U.S. blew undercover operation: "The al-Qaida suspect named by U.S. officials as the source of information that led to this week's terrorist alerts was working undercover, Pakistani intelligence sources said Friday, putting an end to the sting operation and forcing Pakistan to hide the man in a secret location.

Under pressure to justify the alerts in three Northeastern cities, U.S. officials confirmed a report by The New York Times that the man, Mohammad Naeem Noor Khan, was the source of the intelligence that led to the decision."

This administration will be damned if it does and damned if it doesn't. President Bush was assailed for blaming Al Qaeda and Afghanistan for 9/11 before there was "overwhelming" evidence. Then, he was blamed for attacking Iraq instead of focusing on only one terrorist group, Al Qaeda. Now, President Bush has been blamed for relying on "old" evidence even though terrorists take years to create an attack. When evidence of a recent arrest was released to appease critics it only served to have consequences abroad.

Kevin Drum is one particular blogger who seems to make sure that the world spins on an axis of his own choosing. Today, he is criticizing the ones who released the name of the man arrested in Pakistan. Last week, on August 3rd, Drum thought the release of the name was part of a conspiracy to arrest terrorists only after the Democratic convention - as if our soldiers had that luxury and the terrorists were so accommodating. He sneeringly called it a "miraculous capture." Later that day, Drum openly wondered about the reasons behind the terror warnings and gave credence to the fact that the cited "old" evidence might mean the terror warnings were not legitimate. To his credit, he did say he was keeping an open mind, sheesh. By August 5th, Drum has lathered himself in all sorts of conspiracy theories regarding the terror threats. But, he tries to maintain a shred of dignity by saying that national intelligence should be taken seriously. I kid you not!

Which brings us back to today. After a week of bellyaching, indulging conspiracy theories, attacking the Bush Administration for manipulating terror warnings and wondering if old evidence is good enough, Drum has the audacity to attack the release of new evidence that he was begging for. Kevin Drum plaintively wailed, "What kind of idiots are running our counterterrorism operations?" It gets even better, Drum has the audacity to say,
I'm beside myself that Bush administration officials are so spineless that they'd kill an undercover operation just to remove some political heat from themselves. But: I'm also angry that the reaction to Sunday's terror warning from Bush critics was so hysterical that the Bushies got panicked into doing this. And yet: I'm furious that Bush and his cronies have so corrupted our intelligence services that deep skepticism was hardly an unfair reaction.

Kevin Drum has taken all sides of an issue in one week. Bravo, good job, Mr. Drum. Someone like John Kerry should look to you for advice when it comes to shamelessly attacking President Bush from all sides without rhyme, reason or a bit of honesty.

Update: Here are the lemmings following Kevin Drum off the cliff... Random Thoughts, Dohiyi Mir, Majikthise, Rooftop Report, Talk Left, Logical Realism, Law and Politics, and Stumax.

Update II: Those who have a clue are... The Fat Guy, Right Thoughts and Arguing with signposts

Sunday Update: See... Wizbang and In the Bullpen. Meanwhile, Michelle Malkin highlights intriguing information about Al Qaeda's computer files.



Michael Coren of the Toronto Sun has won plaudits for his columns from last week and this week. He said in his essays that America has many faults (many, many) but Anti-American sentiment, around the world, has gone too far.

Last month, my mother was traveling through Greece and Italy. She knew she was going to encounter anti-American sentiments but what she saw was pretty ridiculous. Here are some of the more tame episodes. Mom can laugh when she tells you how the European media blacked-out any references to Lance Armstrong but acted as if the European cyclists were winning and going to win the Tour de France. And, she met one couple from France and here is what they told her in a span of five minutes

1) Oh, you're an American?! But, you're not fat, how can you be an American?
2) Don't all Americans think that fine dining is going to McDonald's?
3) George W. Bush is worse than Saddam Hussein

Which brings us back to Michael Coren. Last week, he wrote "God bless America" and this week he titled his column, "America the grateful." Coren wrote "God bless America" in order to refute irrational criticism and hatred of America despite the fact that he is unapologetic about the criticisms he made, during the aftermath of 9/11, of American policies.

But I have now written an updated version of that column because, frankly, I am sick of the smugness, the hypocrisy and the sheer hatred evinced by so many people towards the United States.

I've had enough of certain risible Canadians inflating themselves by claiming superiority over their southern neighbours.

I'm tired of the America-bashing from mediocrities the world over, and the blaming of every conceivable problem on Washington.

This week, Coren responds to American readers who were touched by "God bless America."
That wonderful blend of openness, enthusiasm and sheer largeness. Of course we find it all over the world, but in the United States it has become a national characteristic. It can irritate; but mostly it charms and impresses.

It is funny that whenever someone praises the United States, they have to mention the faults as well. It's not enough for someone to come right out and praise America. No country is perfect and America is no exception. But, if you want to praise this country, don't feel guilty about going all the way. Michael Coren wrote well-intentioned columns to defend America. Coren's essays were not the most eloquent pieces of work. However, Coren is a rare columnist who dares to remind his audience that the United States has tried to make the world a better place with the noblest of intentions. For now, we'll take Michael Coren's point of view.

Toronto Sun: July 31, Michael Coren: God bless America
Toronto Sun: Aug 7, Michael Coren: America the grateful

Update: Others on this topic... Tom Allison and She Will be Obeyed.



Two weeks ago, Howard Dean was victimized when his wallet was stolen at JFK airport. Now, Al Gore has been the victim of a crime. Police are looking for the usual suspect, Sandy Berger...

From the New York Post's Page Six:

It turns out some former political leaders really do need Secret Service protection. Al Gore (above) — for the first time since he was elected v.p. in 1992 — decided to do without security on a vacation in Italy. Bad move. "The Gores were robbed while staying in a luxurious villa in Castellina," a Tuscan source told the London Spy column in the Daily Telegraph. "One of the neighbors went in to sympathize, and Al told him that the thieves had taken about $35,000 worth of valuables." Gore purportedly was kicking himself for leaving his bodyguards behind. A spokesman at Gore's office told the Telegraph: "I have no information on this."

Some say Dean and Gore have lost their marbles - it looks like they've lost a lot more than that. No Sandy Berger sightings, yet, either.



MSNBC: 22-year-old staged Iraq execution at San Francisco house

The Associated Press interviews S.F. man who mocks American deaths in Iraq
A video aired Saturday that purportedly showed an American being decapitated in Iraq was a hoax. Vanderford, 22, said he began distributing the video on the Internet months ago in hopes of drawing attention to his one-time campaign for city supervisor. When his political aspirations waned, he thought the video would serve as social commentary.
On the tape, Vanderford sat on a chair in a dark room, his hands behind his back, trembling and rocking back and forth. The tape showed a hand with a knife cutting at the motionless man's neck, but did not show any militants.

"We need to leave this country alone. We need to stop this occupation," he said on the video, adding that he had been offered for exchange with prisoners in Iraq. "Everyone's going to be killed this way."

Who is this Benjamin Vanderford? After perusing websites found easily on Google, Venderford's nature is revealed. He is most likely a disturbed individual. His own campaign website denies rumors that he is an android.

On May 18, 2004, Vanderford spoke in front of the San Francisco Entertainment Commission... "Mr. Benjamin Vanderford resides in San Francisco. He stated he was sad of the passing of the establishment that was previously at the property which was one of the better video arcades in the city. He added the city was losing arcades, which were one of the only options for 18 and under entertainment in the area."

According to Adriel Hampton, "In other D5 developments, Benjamin Vanderford, 22, has declared his candidacy, pledging to run a moneyless campaign. That's a decision that puts him squarely in the bottom tier in this tough race"

But, the website SFBulldog said, Benjamin Vanderford … Smarter than me (not saying a lot, I know) … has great web site and hell of a sense of humor. Fine young writer. A future in politics if he’s serious and could shock everyone if his web site catches on. … 20 to 1 [odds]

There you go...

Update: Here's where you can find more information on this story... Pet Jawa, A Small Victory, blogoSFERICS, This Blog is Full of Crap, Command Post, Ramblings' Journal, Backcountry Conservative, and Outside the Beltway. Wizbang has 2 stories, here and here.


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