Thursday, July 28, 2005

Newz From Neal

The nefarious liberal media and Democrats can't fool Neal Boortz:
This may come as a bit of a surprise to some, but the United States has already won the war in Iraq, and we have already established a stable Democracy there...all in record time and with very low casualties. By any measure of modern warfare, the invasion and occupation of Iraq has been a resounding success.

Ignore the hundreds of terrorist attacks and thousand of Americans and Iraqis killed in the last two years and celebrate victory.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Looking Backward

Surely John Derbyshire isn' this sheltered. "While my scorn for the 'Bush lied, men died' gang is every bit as great as yours, it is a fact that no American, in March 2003, thought we would have a huge army planted in Iraq 2½ years later."

Obviously Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld had no clue about what would happen. I think most neocons figured that the Bush Victory tour would have moved to Syria and Iran by know. But looking at the premier issue of The American Conservative, from October of 2002 I found an article by Eric Margolis called Iraq Folly which spoke of a coming "quagmire" and said, "Though U.S. forces could quickly defeat Iraq’s regular army in the field, there is a high risk of prolonged urban guerilla warfare and great numbers of civilian casualties." The same issue had a Pat Buchanan column that I have quoted many times. "With our MacArthur Regency in Baghdad, Pax Americana will reach apogee. But then the tide recedes, for the one endeavor at which Islamic peoples excel is expelling imperial powers by terror and guerrilla war."

I could find more examples of people warning of the consequences of invading in 2002 and early 2003, but when it would have helped, they were drowned out by the cakewalk brigade.

Summer Replacement

Andrew Sullivan's summer replacement likes democracy, but is a bit squishy on freedom of speech. "I can only hope that Lebanon will not be as ungrateful as to serve as a host to a blatantly anti American conference."

She gets one thing right. "P.S. Iraq is no longer occupied and neither are Germany, South Korea or the Philippines." Occupation occurs after successfully subduing the enemy.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Movies on TV

The USA Today has a debate on the subject of watching movies on the big screen, or on DVD. I end up watching movies on DVD, or from Turner Classic Movies more by default than design. One of the arguments of the theater advocate, Susan Wloszczyna caught my attention, however. Wloszczyna contrasts the two experiences and notes, "You probably can recall your first film in a theater. Can you name the first DVD you watched?" Actually, I can't quite remember either, but I do have several fond childhood movie-related experiences. I remember my grandfather taking me and my brother to see Jaws when I was about eleven. I also memorably saw The Sting, Earthquake in "Sensurround." None of them would have been as good on TV.

But I also have fond memories of watching movies on TV. When I was a kid we watched the Wizard of Oz, almost every year around Christmas; and it was always great. I also saw movies that I would have never seen in theaters because they were not new releases or were for more mature audiences, such as The Assassination Bureau and Take the Money and Run. Then there were the cheesy regular movie programs such as Knoxville's Early Show, hosted by Rex Rainey on weekday afternoons and "Unknown Zone" on Friday nights where I first saw The Abominible Dr. Phibes.

Today, with dozens of movies on DVD and video, I don't have to depend on my local network affiliates for good movies the way I did when I was a kid. I know I miss part of the experience when I don't see larger than life projections on the silver screen, but in my own private movie palace I can see better movies.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

News From the Front

I find Iraq veteran, David M. Lucas's column in Sunday's Knoville News Sentinel(registration required) unconvincing. Let me first correct an obvious problem. He says, "'Bush lied to America' is not only false, but it is laughable. Every single major intelligence agency in the world agreed that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction." I have seen this assertion about a million times in the last three years, but never any documentation. Even if true, the beliefs of other intelligence agencies wouldn't support the administration's claims. The president didn't simply assert that Iraq had "weapons of mass destruction." He declaimed that Iraq presented a "grave" and "gathering" threat that might come in the form of a "mushroom cloud."

The headline of the column states, "A soldier speaks out: The good military is doing often not reported." Yet when he gets to the point, more than half-way through the column, Lucas says nothing that alters my perception of the war. Instead I get anecdotes such as this:
After one particular suicide car bomb went off, killing nearly two dozen people and destroying several civilian homes, my platoon helped a family out by bringing wood to board the windows that had been blown out and brandishing brooms to clean up the rubble caused by the blast. I can assure you that those people were glad we were there, and we were more than happy to help, even though our efforts were not known to anyone outside that family and my platoon.

This is a nice story. But why in heaven's name is it as remotely important as the fact that such attacks happen more than two years after the President triumphally landed on an aircraft carrier and conveyed by his deeds, if not from a literal reading of his words, that the war was over and we had won?

I would be happy to see the media report more of the "good news" from Iraq, if only to pacify the war's supporters. Unfortunately, no amount of human interest stories about restoring power and opening schools changes the reality of the Iraq War.

Before the invasion, Colin Powell anunciated the Pottery Barn Rule: You break it, you own it. The Bush adminstration broke the country, and is now responsible for what happens there. If Lucas's service has endowed him with any insight that demonstrates that Iraq is on the road to being a liberal democracy instead of becoming a Shiite theocracy, or collapsing in a three way civil war, or anything that makes America better off and more secure than before we invaded Iraq; he should stop withholding it.

Lucas doesn't like it when people say, "
Let's support our troops. Bring them home." Fine. How about, "lets support America. Bring the troops home."

Friday, July 22, 2005

South Park Conservatives

The August Chronicles is out with my review of Brian C. Anderson's South Park Conservatives: The Revolt Against Liberal Media Bias. Chronicles doesn't put a great deal of content from the magazine on the web, so you should subscribe. In the meantime, here is an excerpt from my review:

The largest single media phenomenon that Anderson chronicles is the launch of the Fox News Channel in 1996. Anderson simply gushes about Fox, and, indeed, it is fair enough that Republicans should have their own news channel, given that most of the other networks lean politically in the other direction. However, I cannot swallow the working-class baloney that Anderson serves up when discussing Fox. He practically spits Red Man chaw in quoting "pugnacious Irishman" Bill O ’Reilly, who describes his show as representing a "working class point of view." Anderson also informs the reader that Fox's CEO, Roger Ailes, who grew up in a "blue-collar Ohio community," reports news for the "whole country that elitists will never acknowledge." Reading such hogwash gives me a new appreciation for ABC's Peter Jennings, who couldn't be any snootier if he read the news in French while enjoying a piquant Chardonnay.

Beneath Contempt

Leave it to John Hindraker at Power Line to assume that a snarky blog post by a Manhattanite Homosexual(the only kid at his Indiana high school with a subscription to Interview) is part of a campaign being coordinated by the Democratic National Commitee.

Yeah John, these Dems are so far beneath contempt that they will soon be peddling books claiming that Laura Bush is a dyke and that young Barbara and Jenna were conceived in rape!

The Logic of Jonah

I can't argue with Jonah Goldberg's logic. It seems we invaded Iraq to make the Jihadists really mad, or something like that:

Indeed, isn't the determination of jihadi fanatics to defend Iraq by attacking London exactly the sort of evidence required to demonstrate a linkage between terrorism and Iraq? If America and Britain invaded Canada, Islamic terrorists wouldn't care. But when we invaded Baghdad, they immediately declared it to be the defining battle of their movement. Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the head of al-Qaida in Iraq, has flatly declared that the future of their cause depends on the outcome of the fight in Iraq.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Liberal Media

Arianna Huffington notes from abroad what the Liberal Media is failing to report in this country: "Take Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari's lovefest visit to Tehran on Sunday, where he laid a wreath on the tomb of Ayatollah Khomeini and hailed what he called 'a new chapter in brotherly ties' between Iran and Iraq. Now, by all rights, this should have been a major story in the U.S. "

If the "MSM" were as anti-Bush as conservatives claim, or just committed to reality; the fact that Americans are dying to bring an anti-Israel, pro-Iran regime to power would be trumpeted from every newspaper headline in the country.

Liberal Democracy

John Cole examines the forthcoming Iraq Constitution that Americans are dying on a regular basis to put into place. It has interesting provisions concerning one country in Article 1, Sec. 3 & 4:

3. Any individual with another nationality (except for Israel) may obtain Iraqi nationality after a period of residency inside the borders of Iraq of not less than ten years for an Arab or twenty years for any other nationality, as long as he has good character and behavior, has no criminal judgment against him from the Iraqi authorities during the time of his residency on the territory of the Iraqi republic.

4. An Iraqi may have more than one nationality as long as the nationality is not Israeli.

I can't wait to bring democracy to the rest of the world.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Regression to the Poddy

Never bring a knife to a gun fight, an old adage says. In a similar vein, a half-wit shouldn't try to match wits . . . with anybody. Steve Sailer takes apart the embarrassingly mediocre son of Norman, John Podhoretz who has about a thimble-full of wit .

In a just world, Poddy junior would be selling shoes with Al Bundy, instead of being a nattering nabob of the neocon punditocracy. He currently holds forth at National Review's the Corner, which more and more resembles the Web equivalent of a high school study hall.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Blind Spot

If Prof. Reynolds thinks that the CIA is the center of "incompetent, or politically motivated and dishonest" policy making in the Bush administration then he is either blind or a fool, or both.

Saturday, July 16, 2005


How has the Bush administration handled money in Iraq? Incompetently, of course. Ed Harriman provides the details in the July 7 issue of the London Review of Books. The first paragraph sets the tone:
On 12 April 2004, the Coalition Provisional Authority in Erbil in northern Iraq handed over $1.5 billion in cash to a local courier. The money, fresh $100 bills shrink-wrapped on pallets, which filled three Blackhawk helicopters, came from oil sales under the UN’s Oil for Food Programme, and had been entrusted by the UN Security Council to the Americans to be spent on behalf of the Iraqi people. The CPA didn't properly check out the courier before handing over the cash, and, as a result, according to an audit report by the CPA’s inspector general, 'there was an increased risk of the loss or theft of the cash.' Paul Bremer, the American pro-consul in Baghdad until June last year, kept a slush fund of nearly $600 million cash for which there is no paperwork: $200 million of this was kept in a room in one of Saddam's former palaces, and the US soldier in charge used to keep the key to the room in his backpack, which he left on his desk when he popped out for lunch. Again, this is Iraqi money, not US funds.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Support the Troops?

Dennis Prager's column on "supporting the troops" is a masterpiece of reducing political commentary to meaningless obfuscation. According to Prager, the "left" doesn't "support the troops." I'm not sure whether I agree, since the phrase has beome meaningless.

Prager attempts to define it. "In order to understand this, we need to first have a working definition of the term 'support the troops.' Presumably it means that one supports what the troops are doing and rooting for them to succeed. What else could 'support the troops' mean? If you say, for example, that you support the Yankees or the Dodgers, we assume it means you want them to win."

So rooting for your side in a war is the same as rooting for your team in a baseball game. But if you accept his logic, then for a Yankees fan, the Boston Redsox are literally the same as the enemy in a war. I don't much care for baseball, but I come from Knoxville, Tennessee and root for the Univerisity of Tennessee Volunteers. The Big Orange, as we call them. In my capacity as a football fan, I hate the Universities of Alabama, Georgia and Florida; among others. Except that I don't really. I have known graduates of all three schools and liked them. I have come into contact with a lot of Tennessee fans that I don't much care for.

So I must conclude that war is much more complex than sports. The war in Iraq is and has been very controversial. Prager is attempting to eliminate the controversy by conflating two different categories. The Bush adminstration makes the policy that is carried out by the Army and Marine Corps in Iraq. Americans tend to have warm and fuzzy attitudes towards the military. Which is why we so frequently see the president in this setting. Prager is attempting the same thing by tying support for the policy with support for the troops.

If Prager thought a bit, he might find other meanings for the phrase. For instance, one can actually materially support the troops. I did that once by sending books via Al Franken has done several USO tours.

Prager should ask if supporters of the war are doing enough to support the troops. I have seen plenty of troop support at the almost meaningless Tony Orlando and Dawn level. Except people don't even bother to tie them on Old Oak Trees these days. Instead they just attach them to their vehicles. With support like that . . .

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Poddy & Bell

Steve Sailer saves me the trouble of pointing out the serial idiocy of John Podheretz in NRO's the Corner. I especially enjoyed his reformulation of one Poddy post: "Sorry, pal. If you're born a Podhoretz, you get to make a living offering your opinions, no matter how big of a jerk and fool you are. Period. That's how it works, and thank God for it, otherwise a great deal of the money made in the 21st century by Podhoretz relatives would not have come to pass."

Now if he could perform the Sailer magic on Warren Bell, whose deep thoughts are now gracing the corner. "No doubt whatsoever that the Squarepantsed One would be the best choice for my sons, George W. Bush, and the nation. He firmly believes in law and order (see the Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy episodes). He has stopped the evil Plankton many times from stealing the Krabby Patty recipe, so he would similarly stop Breyer and Ginsburg from stealing the Constitution. He is absorbent, so if sat next to Scalia and Thomas would quickly soak up the right ideas. And perhaps most importantly, as Plankton notes in the SBSP Movie, his chops are too righteous."


The War Party is desparate to justify dragging the country into the quamire in Iraq. Christopher Hitchens tied it to the 17 year old Islamic death sentence against Salman Rushdie the other day. Now I see this to prove "ties" between Saddam and Osama, from Stephen Hays and Thomas Joscelyn. One must be very precise with the War Party these days. The question is not (or shouldn't be) "ties" between the two, but -- did Iraq attack the United States on Sept. 11, 2001?

Part of the Hayes article includes evidence that an Iraqi conscript later went on to join the Taliban and then al Qaida. So, if any Iraqi grunt later joins the Taliban that justifies occupying Iraq. Note this one line from their evidence:

11. From 1997 to 1998, the detainee acted as a trusted agent for Usama Bin Ladin, executing three separate reconnaissance missions for the al Qaeda leader in Oman, Iraq, and Afghanistan.

That the detainee conducted recon missions in Iraq is actually consistent with al Qaeda working against Iraq. It doesn't matters now. Even if I became convinced that the war was justifed, I could not for give the incompetence -- the arrogant stupidity -- with which Bush administration prosecuted the war. I don't have time or patience to repeat the whole litany of failure and incompetence of the Bush admnistration's handling of the Iraq War.

I will leave it at this. Nothing is more obvious than the fact that the President had no clue as to what to expect when Saddam's regime collapsed, otherwise we would have never seen this at the beginning of an endless guerilla war:
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Sunday, July 10, 2005

Hitch & Ronnie

Much has been made of Christopher Hitchen's take down of Ron Reagan on MSNBC's Connected Coast to Coast Friday afternoon. I saw a bit of the exchange and Hitch definitely has more brain power with a hangover than Reagan does at his best. Radio Blogger posted an excerpt, and while Hitchens wins on style, his substance is wanting:

RR: Christopher, I'm not sure that I buy the idea that these attacks are a sign that we're actually winning the war on terror. I mean, how many more victories like this do we really want to endure?

CH: Well, it depends on how you think it started, sir. I mean, these movements had taken over Afghanistan, had very nearly taken over Algeria, in a extremely bloody war which actually was eventually won by Algerian society. They had sent death squads to try and kill my friend Salman Rushdie, for the offense of writing a novel in England. They had sent death squads to Austria and Germany, the Iranians had, for example, to try and kill Kurdish Muslim leaders there. If you make the mistake that I thought I heard you making just before we came on the air, of attributing rationality or a motive to this, and to say that it's about anything but itself, you make a great mistake, and you end up where you ended up, saying that the cause of terrorism is fighting against it, the root cause, I mean. Now, you even said, extraordinarily to me, that there was no terrorist problem in Iraq before 2003. Do you know nothing about the subject at all? Do you wonder how Mr. Zarqawi got there under the rule of Saddam Hussein? Have you ever heard of Abu Nidal?

Note Hitchen's "answer" to the first question. He tosses in a kitchen-sink-full of examples of Islamic extremism that have little to do with our current predicament. He failed to note that prior to the U.S. invasion of Iraq, Zarqawi operated out of Northern Iraq, where Saddam had no control. As bad as Abu Nidal was (he died in 2002, before the invasion), He was hardly the reason we invaded Iraq. That occurred because of the "grave threat" posed by Saddam's large collection of chemical and biological weapons and his drive to get nuclear weapons.

Christopher Hitchens is a follower of "they hate us for our freedom" school of thought. "We know very well what the 'grievances' of the jihadists are. The grievance of seeing unveiled women. The grievance of the existence, not of the State of Israel, but of the Jewish people. The grievance of the heresy of democracy, which impedes the imposition of sharia law. The grievance of a work of fiction written by an Indian living in London." He should read Robert Pape, who argues convincingly that their grievance is actually foreign military occupation.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

James Stockdale, RIP

Thomas Fleming pays tribute to a great American:

Jim Stockdale’s story belongs to the history of republican virtue, and it would take the talents of Livy to do justice to him. He was a brave man who served in a war he did not entirely believe in but refused to take the easy way out.

When In Doubt, French Bash

Not knowing what else to do, neos bash the French. A correspondent of Katheryn Lopez notes, "When [Chirac] was actually challeneged by a question that suggested that his version of fighting terrorism hasn't worked, he admitted that it needs to be stepped up." Chirac's methods of fighting terrorism haven't worked? Is there some reason to believe that the Bush-Blair method has? On top of the horrid attacks in London, terrorists in Iraq -- where security is provided by Bush-Blair-Rumsfeld, etc.-- have murdered the Egyptian ambassador.

Roger Simon adds an idiotic comment: "Jerk of the day . . . make that jerk of the year . . . Jacques Chirac, who only a day or so ago dismissed the English for their food." For those who can't follow his inane logic, he is saying that it is in poor taste to mock the English on the day before a terrorist attack in London.

Rah! Rah! Rah!

Kevin Michael Grace questions the benefit of cheering for the Home Team:

My question for members of the "conservative movement" in America or Canada is this: What are the benefits of membership? If tribal solidarity ("us vs them") is your thing, there are other, far more rewarding binary divisions: Yankees vs Red Sox, Eskimos vs Stampeders, Celtics vs Rangers, Coke vs Pepsi, dogs vs cats, that hooligan Beethoven vs Bach, Haydn, Mozart, Brahms and all the other composers that knock him into a cocked hat, etc. Conservative movementarians will reply that their membership demonstrates they are on the side of prudence vs recklessness, right vs wrong and even good vs evil, but I remain unpersuaded. What has the conservative movement ever done to make America and Canada better places? And no, I don't mean the phantom accomplishment of growing the Gross Domestic Product, whatever that might be.

Why Freedom around the world, Kevin. Freedom around the world!

Uncle George Wants You!

Phillip Carter thinks President Bush, in the tradition of Lincoln and Churchill (why never the more plausible traditions of Woodrow Wilson and LBJ?). "President Bush's second inaugural address, with its vision of America's mission to spread freedom, offers a good platform for a recruiting pitch . . . A presidential recruiting speech may not fill every barracks, nor will it induce every old soldier to sign on for another tour, but it would help remind potential soldiers of what we're fighting for."

Heck I think the President should pose for recruiting posters, Lord Kitchener style to display at those Young Americas Foundation conventions; although I assume that the Supreme Court would nix the "God" part.
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Join the Army, Bring Sharia to the World

More evidence of the "freedom" we have brought to Iraq, from the New York Times:

. . .Basra, though trash-strewn and impoverished, is much safer than Baghdad and other cities beset by the Sunni-led insurgency. The riverfront walkway known as the Corniche buzzes with life at night. Even foreigners can openly walk the streets.

But insecurity is a constant for many Iraqis who do not conform to a strict interpretation of Shiite Islam. In the music bazaar, a tattered warning sign appears on a shuttered instrument shop owned by a famous musician known as Kareem Trumpet. The sign denounces as "soldiers of Satan" the city's "whorehouses and dealers in porn DVD's and gambling shops and music stores."

The bazaar is just blocks away from a strip where sidewalk alcohol vendors once thrived, before armed vigilantes and policemen drove them away.

At least three former officials of the Sunni-dominated Baath Party were gunned down in separate incidents, and a Sunni Arab cleric was kidnapped near his mosque and shot dead. Days later a Shiite cleric was fatally shot while going home.

Few women walk around without a head scarf and full-length black robe. A young woman who gave her name as Layla said she could wear jeans without a robe a year ago. But seven months before, as she strode from her house, a group of men came up to her and warned her that she was improperly dressed.

She says she no longer goes out in public without a robe.

Religious Shiites do not have to legally enshrine Shariah, or Koranic law, to exercise their will. Enforcement of Islamic practices is done on the streets, in the shadows. "We're trying to do it culturally rather than impose it by law," said Furat al-Shara, the local representative for the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, a Shiite political party, known by the acronym Sciri, that holds powerful positions in the national government.

"In the mosques and universities where people learn, we tell them it's a negative thing to do," Mr. Shara said of drinking alcohol or of women appearing in public without scarves.

Perhaps in his next state of the union speech, the President can talk of spreading Sharia around the world.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Students for War

The "chickenhawk" issue raises its ugly head once again. But Donald Sensing aggressively misses the point in his post on the topic. He tasks Atrios with a series of questions, the most important one being, "[w]hy should non-serving supporters be silent while non-serving critics be heard?" The obvious answer to Sensing is that non-serving critics oppose sending other people to war in Iraq.

I wouldn't argue that nobody who hasn't served can't advocate going to war. I would argue, however, that those who are hot for war and have the opportunity to serve like the "Students for War" and the young conservatives of Tom Tomorrow's imagination aren't very serious about their values. In an earlier time they would have received the white feather of cowardice.

It is an issue that hits close to home for me. In my callow youth, I was very much a Jingoistic neocon. National Review was my bible. Under the influence of John Wayne movies and a controversy over hawkish "war wimps" like George Will and Richard Perle; who hadn't served in Vietnam, I joined the Marine Corps Reserve. Of course, I was young and there was no war at the time. If I had a son of military age today, I would lock him in the basement before allowing him to serve in the current war under the present administration.

Dying to Win

The July 18 issue of The American Conservative has an interview with Robert Pape, author of Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism. The Post-it version of his argument is that foreign occupation drives suicide bombers. A key quote:

Suicide terrorism is mainly a response to foreign occupation and not Islamic fundamentalism . . . Since 1990, the United States has stationed tens of thousands of ground troops on the Arabian Peninsula, and that is the main mobilization appeal of Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda. People who make the argument that it is a good thing to have them attacking us over there are missing that suicide terrorism is not a supply-limited phenomenon where there are just a few hundred around the world willing to do it because they are religious fanatics. It is a demand-driven phenomenon. That is, it is driven by the presence of foreign forces on the territory that the terrorists view as their homeland. The operation in Iraq has stimulted suicide terrorism and has given suicide terrorism a new lease on life.

Iraq is Stabilized, So Shut Up!

These Guys still haven't gone to Iraq yet, but they know the "truth" about what is happening there. Col. Buzz Patterson conclusively states "[t]he war is being won, if not already won, I think, . . [Iraq] is stabilized and we want the soldiers themselves to tell the story."

I eagerly await learning the truth from these guys.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005


The New York Times(registration) reports on critical security measures to guard information of breathtaking global import. "Not all the security measures . . . are reliant simply on good fortune, of course. Scholastic has closely policed the companies with which it works to produce and distribute the book. At each of's five order-fulfillment centers, for example, the books are kept in a restricted area that workers need a special pass to enter, where they are watched by security guards and are not allowed to carry anything in or out."

Some Top Tecret report related the Global War on Terror? No, silly, the new Harry Potter book.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Putting Away Childish Things

Some people never tire of being indignant. The latest frenzy (except, of course, for the six dozen frenzies that erupt while I write this) involves a comment by NBC News Anchor, Brian Williams in reference to the new Iranian president that many believe to have been involved in the 1979 takeover of the American embassy in Tehran. Williams noted in comparison that, "several U.S. presidents were at minimum revolutionaries, and probably were considered terrorists of their time by the Crown in England."

The comment by Williams is a restatement of what should be common wisdom, especially among conservatives -- that human beings are constrained in their perception of reality and tend to view it through filtering and often self-serving lenses. As Pat Buchanan noted, "[o]ne man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter. Or so it would seem."

I can only assume that the British Crown had a very negative opinion George Washington and other Founding Fathers during and after the Revolutionary War. I don't know if the word "terrorist" was in use during the late 18th century, but I'm sure they had others. Samuel Johnson, who is revered by some conservatives had some choice words about Americans in Boswell's Life of Samuel Johnson: "He had long before indulged most unfavourable sentiments of our fellow-subjects in America. For, as early as 1769, I was told by Dr. John Campbell, that he had said of them, 'Sir, they are a race of convicts, and ought to be thankful for any thing we allow them short of hanging.'" I'm sure the blogosphere would have gleefully attacked Johnson if it had been around 200 years ago.

In a similar vein, Joseph Sobran looked at the view of the British Crown -- King George III that Americans of a certain age would have learned in elementary school:
When I was a schoolboy we were taught that the American Revolution had occurred because our ancestors were fed up with the tyranny of King George III. They particularly resented being taxed by a government in which they had no vote, and they adopted the slogan “No taxation without representation.” The slightest tax increase drove them to fury.

King George was pretty unpopular in England too. What galled the English was that they were taxed to pay for the French and Indian War in America, which was fought to protect the Americans. In A History of the American People, a marvelously readable book, Paul Johnson notes that in 1764, the costs of the recent war actually fell 50 times as heavily on the English as on the American colonists. The average Englishman was paying 25 shillings a year in taxes to the Crown; the average American, a mere sixpence.

. . . By modern standards, George III wasn’t much of a tyrant. A rather pitiful excuse for a tyrant, really. He falls far short not only of Saddam Hussein, but of our own recent presidents.
I didn't learn in school about how the English were paying a far heavier price to protect our country than were the Colonists, which is fine. I think young children should be taught a relatively uncomplicated, pro-American version of American History with more about the Midnight Ride of Paul Revere than handwringing over slavery.

However, I also think that as we get older Americans should learn a more complex and real version of our history. In 1995 Benjamin Schwarz wrote a brilliant article for the Atlantic Monthly called the Diversity Myth which should be required reading for Americans, in which he noted that "the history we hold up as a light to nations is a sanctimonious tissue of myth and self-infatuation."

"Conservatives" of the Malkin et al. variety cling to the second grade version of American History. They should heed the words of the Apostle Paul: "When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things."