Category Archives: Jack Kelly

Counterpoint: It’s Called Stupid and Evil

Jack Kelly is a former Marine and Green Beret, and today being Veteran’s Day we ought to salute him for that. He went on to serve as a deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force during the Reagan administration. He is now a columnist for the Toledo Blade and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. We used to describe him as a “hawkish unilateralist and free-market fundamentalist,” and for a time, we would each week dissect the “dangerous” ideas he put forth as a special feature of the Comet. This week, just take those old records off the shelf; we’ll sit and listen to them by ourselves.

1) Al-Qaeda terrorists are targeting your schoolchildren.
2) Water-boarding will help prevent this.
3) Water-boarding is not even torture.
4) Boy, the Democrats will have egg all over their faces when your schoolchildren get slaughtered!

There, you just read Jack Kelly’s column, “It’s Called Defending Ourselves”.

Kelly provides some bullet-points as evidence that hostage-taking situations at schools and on school buses is an imminent threat in the U.S.

Kelly’s sourcing on the specifics is even more sketchy than usual — that is, he provides none whatsoever. The Google found some of these same stories, but with no actual author or publication to stand behind any of it. But you know what? That’s fine.

We don’t want to dwell on disproving this part of his picture. Certainly there are bloodthirsty terrorists out there who mean us great harm, and maybe there are some who aim to attack our schools. So do you here that, Kelly? Our enemy is real enough.

We would rather assert the following:

1) Water-boarding is so torture.

2) Just because some of our special forces are trained to withstand water-boarding, you cannot get away with saying we “routinely” subject ourselves to it, making it somehow not-torture. We’re willing to bet those same special forces are trained to withstand actual torture.

3) If water-boarding is not torture, why do we water-board people while asking them questions they do not otherwise answer, holding out the prospect of stopping the water-boarding once we get the right answers? Sounds like torture to us.

4) We’re not going to get all morally conscientious on you (though we could), nor are we going to get all Geneva Convention on you (ditto), but TORTURE DOES NOT WORK and everybody knows this already. People will tell you anything to get out of being tortured, confess any nonsense, and you end up with a load of bad intel you can’t use, and sources that are used up.

5) If torture is condoned somewhere in the U.S. Military under some circumstances, it more or less winds up being condoned everywhere. So you end up with a bunch of Abu Gharaibs.

6) We never do actually charge or convict our detainees of being al-Qaeda members, and we routinely wind up having to tell scores and scores of them “sorry, nevermind” — so we end up torturing people, radicalizing them, and then sending them back home to radicalize their entire extended families.

7) So between #5 and #6, you wind up manufacturing new jihadis faster than our military can possibly kill them.

8) Which is the exact wrong thing to do if you’d like to actually win and complete a war, which is what you aim to do, correct?

9) Don’t answer that — we are afraid you just want to torture them because you hate them, and you want revenge for 9/11, and for your buddies getting killed, and perhaps also for being bullied as a child. And there is no logical way to counter that argument except to say you’re wrong and we won’t let you, not the least of which because we cannot afford to let you (see 4 through 8).


The second-most repulsive thing about this column is that it all boils down at its conclusion not to any recommendation on how to achieve our war aims and end this hellish mess, but rather in a smug warning to Democrats that once terrorists kill our children, they’re going to lose votes.

Because Jack Kelly is first and foremost a political analyst. And this is first and foremost a political issue.

The most repulsive thing about this column is that Kelly reveals that both he and al-Qaeda are of like minds:

“They want to create something so horrible that we will lose control in our reaction, we will be lynching Muslim people in the streets and burning mosques,” Mr. Thor told Glenn Beck. “They want to reduce us to animals like them to get the Islamic world behind them and finally get the holy war that they want kicked off and ignited.”

Historically, Jack Kelly has never offered any ideas on just how, diplomatically and strategically, we might realistically defuse this regional conflagration. He does not propose negotiation under any circumstances, nor regional conferences, or heaven forbid incentives.

He never gets involved in the intense Iraqi politicking that everybody agrees is critical to any solution, except to insist for four years that it has been going super.

He wants us to attack Iran. And he wants us to attack Syria. And he wants us to attack Hamas and Hezbollah. And he wants us to torture anybody we might detain in these many wars, he wants us to toss out all international law, he wants us to ignore the U.N., and he wants us to let our infinite enemies know it.

So basically, Jack Kelly wants the same holy war the worst of the Islamists are trying to goad us into. He wants us to fight and fight and fight, and he wants more and more of our young men and women killed, maimed, and psychologically scarred. He wants all of their young men and women and children to die, until there’s nobody left to kill.

He just wants it to happen faster than the Islamic radicals do, and with more culpability on our side.

Why does he want all this? We honestly have no idea. It’s manly, we guess.


This is why we don’t do Jack Kelly anymore.

We can beat up on Luke with merry abandon, but what’s going on at City Hall is — it’s harder to take personally. Luke is just what happens.

Jack Kelly, on the other hand, continues to accrue liability in a war that absolutely did not need to explode in the way it did, with no conceivable endgame on the horizon.

Jack Kelly, by cynically invoking the spectacle of dead children in order to justify torture, wills us even deeper into the black spiral of hatred and perpetual warfare.

What are we supposed to do with somebody like this?

Part of us wants to haul him before some kind of grand tribunal, on charges of deceiving the multitude and enabling war crimes.

Part of us wants to pass him a doobie, give him a scalp massage, and tell him everything is going to be alright.

Part of us — most of us — is content to just let him keep doing exactly what he is doing: efficiently displaying himself and his ilk to be ordinary frauds. That’s why we are so grateful that some people still have the stomach to process his artful drek each and every week.

Semi-Weekly Jack Kelly Bashing

Jack Kelly is a conservative columnist over at the Post-Gazette, and also the Toledo Blade.

This week he treats us to the movie 300, which is typical, because everyone is talking about 300. David Brooks also had a take on 300 that same Sunday.

Basically, it’s about a war the Greeks almost lost to the Persians, that many say determined world history. It is a fictionalization of one period during this war. Kelly gives a pretty fair summation of the movie, and of the history, before he tells us what to think.

But first, let’s read what syndicated sex advice columnist Dan Savage wrote about 300 last Wednesday:

Homophobic? It’s Ann Coulter on a meth binge.

The Persian army is an armed gay-pride parade, a threat to all things decent and, er, Greek. The king of the Spartans — among the most notorious boy-redacted’s in all of ancient history — dismisses Athenian Greeks as weak-willed “philosophers and boy lovers.” The Persian emperor? An 8-foot-tall black drag queen — mascara, painted-on eyebrows, pink lip-gloss. Emperor RuPaul is positively obsessed with men kneeling in front of him. Why gay up the Persians? So that straight boys in the theater can identify with the Spartan king and his 300 soldiers — all of whom appear to have been recruited from and outfitted by the International Male catalog.

What isn’t up for debate is the film’s politics. The only times the Persian army doesn’t look like a gay-pride parade in hell, it looks like a crowd of madly chanting Islamic militants. And if the Spartan king has to break the Spartan law to defend Spartan freedoms? Well, sometimes a king’s gotta do what a king’s gotta do. Because, as the queen of Sparta points out, freedom isn’t free. And, yes, she uses exactly those words. George Bush is going to redacted in his pants when he sees this movie.

As did Jack Kelly already.

Revelling in the bloodlust of the movie, and relying on our love of well-choreographed action scenes, Jack Kelly somehow asserts that the moral of story is that American liberals do not value their warriors enough. And if America doesn’t value its warriors, it will be defeated by those that do.

His suggestion that we should be more like the terrorists is unfortunate; his claim that American liberals don’t value warriors is balderdash.

He says:

“300” is soaked with the masculine virtues of courage, honor, patriotism and self-sacrifice, and the camaraderie that exists among fighting men who have been through a shared ordeal.

It is at least interesting to debate the celebration of the “masculine” virtues, if we can properly define them. Patriotism seems not to fit.

We need to rediscover these virtues. At once the most preposterous and the most dangerous of contemporary beliefs is “nothing was ever settled by violence.”

We disagree that this naivete is at all common among American liberals, at least very far outside of Code Pink.

Ironically, the story of that ancient war did not end there, as Jack Kelly readily admits. Those Greeks who fought savagely to the bitter end were ultimately defeated. It was years until another leader, one who valued the wisdom strategic withdrawal, eventually trapped the enemy at sea, which typically entails skilled diplomacy

All very like how Americans won the Revolutionary War. Thanks to the FRENCH!!

Jack Kelly: Quandary in Iraq

Jack Kelly is a former Marine and Green Beret who was a deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force during the Reagan administration. He is presently a columnist at the Post-Gazette, and can be described as a reliably hawkish unilateralist and free-market fundamentalist. As a special feature of the Comet, we will attempt to debunk the dangerous and foolhardy ideas put forth by Pittsburgh’s most prominent ultra-conservative.

First off? Jack Kelly? Totally blogging. Totally accepting comments, instantaneously. Website’s called Irish Pennants. Have at it, lads!

Secondly, 2 Political Junkies is obviously using the new Jack Kelly Fisking Software package freely available on the internet. So easy, and just seconds to download.

This week’s column: Quandary in Iraq. Quandary, not a quagmire. 🙂

“Many Democrats in Congress believe the war in Iraq is irretrievably lost, or that it would redound to their political advantage if it were lost. But they don’t want to be blamed for the consequences of defeat.”

Inelegant, and incomplete. Democrats believe the war in Iraq will not be won in this current battle. In order to prevent a defeat, they are advocating a strategic withdrawal, in expectation that the true enemies will be exposed during the interval, while democracy (and security) takes root in the period of non-aggression.

“Although barely begun, the troop surge already is producing positive results. Al-Qaida operatives are reported to be evacuating Baghdad, and Moqtada al Sadr and senior commanders of his Iranian-backed militia, the Mahdi army, are lying low and may have taken refuge in Iran. As a consequence, the number of attacks in Baghdad has declined by 80 percent, the Iraqi defense ministry said last week.”

Kelly calls it the Surge working; we call it the Withdrawal working. If the bad guys are holing up and waiting us out, because of gutless surrender-talk by liberal bleeding hearts, so be it. They won’t be staging sorties, and those monkey bars have to get old after a while. They’ll have nothing to do but politick.

It is urgent for them that they find common ground, now that the British are leaving, and now that we are clearly leaving in steady stages, until spring 2009 at latest. Nobody who has power wants chaos. This withdrawal gives the factions the illusion of stability. Let us see what they work out.

The very worst thing we could do is adventure with Syria or Iran, or get too excited policing the provinces. If Iraq’s nefarious neighbors are meddling, let them meddle. The Iraqis are no fools, and the Bush administration can still bring a pretty fair diplomatic game. (Unless you listen to John Bolton.)

The Blogging Sabbath is Upon Us

Expect the return of a re-tooled Jack Kelly Countercolumn by Wednesday at the latest. Click through our blogroll; we’ve put a lot of effort into it, and we think it’s finally where we want it to be. Have a wonderful weekend. See you on Sunday.

On Kelly: I Vote For Global Warming

Jack Kelly is a former Marine and Green Beret who was a deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force during the Reagan administration. He is presently a columnist at the Post-Gazette, and can be described as a reliably hawkish unilateralist and free-market fundamentalist. As a special feature of the Comet, we will attempt to debunk the dangerous and foolhardy ideas put forth by Pittsburgh’s most prominent ultra-conservative.

We have been describing Jack Kelly as a “hawkish unilateralist” in foreign policy, and a “free-market fundamentalist” in economics. It is remarkable how often, in think-tankery, those two unrelated threads coincide. After reading I Vote For Global Warming, we are reminded that those are always joined by a third: the stubborn refusal to believe the increasingly vast majority of climate scientists. Stunning.

It is almost as though these unrelated positions spring from some sort of bedrock principle: that those who possess power ought to be free to satisfy their appetites and pursue their designs, without any heed to the consequences for others, let alone some ephemeral “common good.” I suppose one could call this “greed,” although thanks to Ayn Rand, it’s a decidedly sexy, heroic brand of greed.

Jack Kelly writes of the new climate change report:

And this is based on hypothetical piled upon hypothetical and computer models which cannot duplicate the actual climate of the present or the recent past.

Translation: I don’t trust your fancy “science.”

No, seriously. Kelly goes on to admit some global warming, but only unrelated to the industry of mankind. He blames natural cycles, notably cosmic rays and sun spots. He then cites a few dissenting scientists: Singer & Avery, Svensmark & Calder, and Abdussamatov.

That last fellow seems to be the new kid on the block. The St. Petersburg space researcher is also cited in a (strikingly similar) column this week in the National Post of Canada. We mention this because the last time Kelly wrote a piece on global warming, it also bore striking similarities to a piece in the National Post of Canada. (h/t TPJs). We wonder about that curious pipeline!

The point is, the arrival of Abdussamatov notwithstanding, you can literally count these guys on one hand. The current score is literally 3,750 against maybe 6; the “new discoveries” by the 6 are in no way unfamiliar to the 3,750. Unfortunately, we all must acknowledge that Copernicus and Einstein were once in the minority. Its very difficult for a lay-person to fisk the arguments of a few media-savvy scientists.

Yet clues as to how to proceed can be found throughout the text of the Singer-Avery book, which Kelly cites. Rather unlike your standard scientific report, the authors constantly pause to insult their opposition: They hate mankind. They hate progress. They get a thrill out of scaring people. It’s like academic Turrets Syndrome, and it’s revealing of a weakness.

What sounds more likely: a global conspiracy among 4,000 scientists, all in pursuit of the purely psychic reward of spite, and dislike of Wal-Mart?

Or a conspiracy among 5 or 6 scientists, supported by 5 or 6 global energy consortiums, in pursuit of a real and vast monetary reward, for being able to milk their present business-plans just a decade or two longer?

I suppose Jack Kelly could find it suspicious that a taste for economic regulation, a distaste for warfare, and a willingness to heed the scientific super-majority, so often coincide.

In our case, the common thread is a simple concern for our fellow man, a compassion in no way specific to our own culture, but which is often called “Christian.” No doubt Ayn Rand would find us quite unappealing.

On Kelly: Don’t Prejudge the Surge

Jack Kelly is a former Marine and Green Beret who was a deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force during the Reagan administration. He is presently a columnist at the Post-Gazette, and can be described as a reliably hawkish unilateralist and free-market fundamentalist. As a special feature of the Comet, we will attempt to debunk the dangerous and foolhardy ideas put forth by Pittsburgh’s most prominent ultra-conservative.

Jack Kelly informs us that both Al-Qaida and the Mahdi Army are already surrendering for fear of the surge! Huzzah! He offers three bits of evidence.

“First, al Qaida appears to be retreating from Baghdad. A military intelligence officer has confirmed to Richard Miniter, editor of Pajamas Media, a report in the Iraqi newspaper alSabah that Abu Ayyub alMasri, the head of alQaida in Iraq, has ordered a withdrawal to Diyala province, north and east of Baghdad.”

The al-Sabah newspaper is part of the U.S. backed Iraqi Media Network, created by the Coalition Provisional Authority, and run by the Pentagon’s Psy-Ops division. Seasoned journalists quit IMN because of heavy-handed CPA oversight. In March of 2004, it was nominally handed over to the Iraqi government, where it remains state-owned, and its credibility remains in the toilet. Sourcewatch.

Jack Kelly just spoon-fed us Pentagon propoganda. Ah, but what of the confirmation by Richard Miniter of Pajamas Media?

Richard Miniter: Author not only of “Shadow War: The Untold Story of How Bush is Winning the War on Terror” (Oct. 2004), but also of “Losing Bin-Laden: How Bill Clinton’s Failures Unleashed Global Terror” (Sept. 2003). You be the judge.

Pajamas Media: A notorious collection of exclusively conservative bloggers and pundits. Its founding editor, Roger L. Simon, wrote in Oct. 2005: “As for the run-up to the war, in looking back I think it was a big game of charades that everybody understood. Despite what was said, the obvious US motivation was geo-political.” LINK

This is more charades. Miniter’s source, the “military intelligence official,” is plainly a Pentagon propogandist, who is “confirming” a story in their own house organ, al-Sabah. Moving forward:

“Second, the radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, whose Iranian-subsidized militia, the Mahdi army, is responsible for most of the assaults on Sunni civilians in Iraq, is cooling his rhetoric and lowering his profile.”

“Third, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri alMaliki is putting more distance between himself and Mr. Sadr, upon whose bloc of votes in parliament he had relied for political support.”

If Kelly actually believes there’s anything of substance to al-Sadr’s cool rhetoric, or alMaliki’s distance, we have about nine or ten local bridges we’d like to sell him.

“Don’t prejudge the surge” is the title. “It just might work” says its subtitle. “Efforts to write it off in advance as a ‘failure’ are, at best, premature” he concludes.

This war didn’t begin last month. We know the generals have been skeptical at every step, though silenced by the civilian leadership. We know this surge foolishness was concocted by the American Enterprise Institute, not by military commanders, on the ground or elsewhere. We know General Patraeus, god bless him, can only muster an uninspiring “it might work,” because his president won’t tolerate insubordination.

We’ve had enough of this misbeggoten and mishandled war, Mr. Kelly, and we’re ending it.

On Kelly: More Bumbling by the FBI

Jack Kelly is a former Marine and Green Beret who was a deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force during the Reagan administration. He is presently a columnist at the Post-Gazette, and can be described as a reliably hawkish unilateralist and free-market fundamentalist. As a special feature of the Comet, we will attempt to debunk the dangerous and foolhardy ideas put forth by Pittsburgh’s most prominent ultra-conservative.

In an obvious effort to switch terrain, so as to steer clear of Comet criticism (unlikely), or to avoid the phenomenal crisis-at-hand for which he continues to accrue liability (more likely), Jack Kelly spends this week’s column on the recent history of domestic counterintelligence.

I’ll get you next time, Kelly. Next time!!!

Seriously, this week’s offering exposes the flaw in promising to fully critique a Jack Kelly column on the same day it was published, every week. Lacking extensive knowledge of the Oklahoma City bombing and the 1993 World Trade Center plot, we would have to research these events and the four books he cites by Peter Lance and Bill Gertz. Well played, Mr. Kelly. No longer will the Comet promise same-day debunkery, but rest assured it will always arrive in its own sweet time. You’ll just have to stay tuned like everybody else.

We will say those books don’t look like serious works of scholarship, but rather like pulp on O.J. Simpson or Natalee Holloway. But you can’t judge a book by its cover; maybe the liberal publisher is to blame. Meanwhile, we highlight today’s upshot:

The revelations in Mr. Gertz’s book make it all the more urgent that responsibility for domestic counterintelligence be removed from the FBI and placed in competent hands.

We sure hope Kelly’s not talking about the Pentagon. The culture of the military, though admirable in many ways, is not at all suited to navigate the actors and associations of the domestic theater, and possesses nowhere near the requisite institutional transparency.

If he means the CIA, (didn’t we consolidate these?) it’s not as though they’ve been a bumble-free, bullet-proof, slam-dunk of an operation. Maybe that’s why he declined to name his alternative intelligence outift. As someone in Jack Kelly’s own party once said, “Criticism alone is not a strategy.”

Maybe same-day debunkification is possible after all! But no more promises.

On Kelly: “The War We Must Not Lose”

Jack Kelly is a former Marine and Green Beret who was a deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force during the Reagan administration. He is presently a columnist at the Post-Gazette, and can be described as a reliably hawkish unilateralist and free-market fundamentalist. As a special feature of the Comet, each Sunday we will attempt to debunk the dangerous and foolhardy ideas put forth by Pittsburgh’s most prominent ultra-conservative.

The best place to take issue with this column is its title. It is certainly agreed that we are in a global war against Islamists committed to our destruction. It is also true that the war in Iraq has tragically become a front in this “War on Terror.”

Taking Kelly back to the early days of the Iraq invasion, I would remind him that our president was persistent in speaking of the “Battle of Baghdad.” Bush’s point was that Iraq is but one battle in a larger war. His intention was to steel us for further military action.

President Bush was correct in this — so retreat from the Battle of Baghdad does not equate to surrender in the War on Terror. Military history is littered with the corpses of generals too proud to execute a strategic retreat, too galled at allowing the enemy one night’s celebration, too arrogant to cede ground to “those people.” General Washington made a career of conducting retreat after brilliant retreat, until he had the enemy right where he wanted them.

The notion that withdrawal from Iraq would be an utter calamity is well established, but so is the notion that withdrawal could serve us well. Many retired generals have argued that our continued presence now only inflames passions and provides targets, not to mention shields the Iraqi government from real responsibility.

We have heard that America is addicted to oil; we could well say that Iraq is addicted to Americans.

The bulk of Kelly’s column is essentially an emotional plea: a pep-talk (or dressing-down) feeding the very pride that serves us so poorly when conditions call for a strategic retreat.

Our parents and grandparents realized the fascists we were fighting then were really nasty guys; that living in a world in which they were dominant would be intolerable.

If liberals can be chided for thinking every war is Vietnam, conservatives can certainly be chided for likening every war to World War II. Here Kelly is appealing to one of the war’s original constituencies — World War II nostalgists and romantics.

If Manhattan disappears in a mushroom cloud, or oil prices hit $200 a barrel, the effects will be felt even in million-dollar homes, and on the campuses of Ivy League universities.

And here, Kelly whips up another constituency: the terrorized. The very purpose of a terrorist attack is to radicalize the afflicted population and thereby destabilize them, or draw them into a disadvantage. (As to high oil prices, the nation could certainly mobilize to devalue oil, but this is not the kind of national sacrifice that Kelly would like to discuss.)

What we should have done from the get-go was appoint the man we wanted as prime minister (Iwad Allawi was that guy) and introduced democracy gradually, beginning at the local level, then moving up to the provincial and national levels. You have to walk before you can run.

Kelly may have a point here, but much like the liberal who whines that the we oughtn’t have gone to war, this ship has sailed. His suggestion that Bush is finally getting tough with Maliki is wholly unsupported, and is the chief worry of even conservative punditry.

Moving forward, the best thing we can do is announce that we are leaving Iraq to its own devices for about two years, at which point we will reassess our interests in that theater. We should withdraw all but a northern force to insulate the Kurds from the worst-case excesses of the present Shi’ite government, and a battery of military and diplomatic advisers.

A large portion of the withdrawn troops should return home, to strengthen our depleted strategic reserve. But another large portion should redeploy to Afghanistan, where a friendly democratic ally needs our help, and where a notorious criminal is emboldening generations of future terrorists just by surviving.

These would be the first steps in a true Plan for Victory — not for the Battle of Baghdad, but certainly for the War We Must Not Lose.