Thursday, July 29, 2004
A man who is willing to play these sorts of games for domestic political gain should not be running the war on terrorism.
Tuesday, July 27, 2004
Here’s mine: In an effort to curb the anti-Bush rhetoric, most of the speeches replaced “Bush” with “they.” All in all, still pretty reserved. The DNC did a good job of pulling tight on Gore’s choke chain. Most of the venom came from President Carter:
Today, our Democratic party is led by another former naval officer -- one who volunteered for military service. He showed up when assigned to duty, and he served with honor and distinction.
Carter offered up humor too:
To meet these challenges, we need new leaders [Kerry, Edwards] in Washington whose policies are shaped by working American families instead of the super-rich and their armies of lobbyists.
Stop it! Seriously!
Clinton proved that he is still the ablest orator around:
Strength and wisdom are not opposing values.
Leave it to Clinton to define the Democrat mantra. Still, he seemed half-hearted in his praise for Kerry.
Monday, July 26, 2004
July 26, 2004
Triumph the Insult Comic Dog has just been thrown out of the convention. It's unclear why; I tried to get some words from Triumph and his handler as the urbane dog was led away by two policemen, but he seemed a little alarmed and wasn't talking much.
This is the second major political incident involving Triumph this year. Presumably he'll now be caged.
Posted by Tim Blair at July 26, 2004 07:26 PM
Saturday, July 24, 2004
Friday, July 23, 2004
Thursday, July 22, 2004
Wednesday, July 21, 2004
Ranking the economy under the 10 postwar presidents who have completed their terms (current administration not included), Forbes reports it was best under Clinton. They judged based on GDP growth, growth of real personal disposable income, employment and job growth, unemployment, inflation, and deficit reduction.
Reagan's term was fourth.
So, while I'll admit there were factors that were out of Clinton's hands, like the widespread adoption of networking technology in the workplace, which led to increased productivity, there are some things he did do which had a lasting impact.
1) Pushed deficit reduction, which gave Greenspan room to lower the federal funds rate. With a lower short-term rate, and with the government competing less for credit, long-term rates dropped and the housing boom was on. Homeowners began to refinance, leaving them with more money in their pockets.
2) Pushed NAFTA and the expansion of global trade. In the short-term, American workers are suffering the job losses, but since I'm not running for office, I can say it's probably better in the long-term. Americans have cheaper goods, and with a growing middle-class in India and China, there will be greater markets for American companies.
3) Signed welfare reform, which reduced entitlements.
4) Assigned his vice-president to look for ways for the government to more efficiently deliver services with the re-inventing government initiative.
Tuesday, July 20, 2004
So... if that's the case - how come the republicans are pullin' a stunt like this?
On a related note - Greg Palast has some good points on the missing votes of 2000 and how Kerry and Edwards SHOULD respond.
Will they "Do The RIght Thing" and bring this issue into the Democratic Mainstream? I Dunno. It's definitely something that needs more light shed on it.
On a aside note from something mentioned in the Palast article - why wouldn't a wrtie in vote for a candidate that is listed on the ballot count? If the specifc marker for that candidate isn't marked, but some kind of entry is made on said ballot to indicate the intent and choice of the voter shouldn't that still be counted?
But at least they had the guts to face up to the NAACP regardless of any personal beefs with the leadership of said institution.
Unexplained no show on PBS Newshour. He did show up last night on Paula Zahn.
The David Corn defense of Joe Wilson misses the point:
The Senate intelligence committee's report on prewar intelligence demonstrates that George W. Bush launched a war predicated on false assertions about weapons of mass destruction and misled the country when he claimed Saddam Hussein was in cahoots in al Qaeda. But what has caused outrage within conservative quarters? Passages in the report that they claim undermine the credibility of former Ambassador Joseph Wilson.
First, the report exonerates Bush from the charge that he misled the country. And many of the assertions were true.
But more importantly, the reason that conservatives are so outraged by Ambassador Wilson is that his charge that Iraq did not seek uranium was the cornerstone of the Bush-lied talking point that, in line with the Goebbels quote, was repeated over and over and over again. Chris Matthews spent the better part of the year on the topic. I haven’t had a chance to watch Hardball lately, but I doubt he’s said much about Wilson over the past week. He certainly hasn’t devoted a whole show to question why he [Matthews] bought into Wilson’s attempt to discredit the president so readily. I’m not holding my breathe.
Corn uses the White House concession that “that Bush should not have included this charge in his speech” as some sort of validation of Wilson. Actually, as I felt at the time, the Bush concession was the biggest mistake Bush made regarding this “scandal”. It doesn’t validate Wilson so much as it shows a moment where the administration went wobbly. Bush has since stood by the 16 words.
Corn then diverts the issue back to what he considers the real scandal, the exposure of Mrs. Plame. Somehow, he thinks this commission should’ve spent as much time trying to uncover the source of that leak. But that wasn’t the commission’s job. In fact, there’s a whole other commission looking at that.
Steyn makes an interesting observation:
He [Wilson] makes much of his intimacy with Wanke and gives himself the credit for ridding Niger of the Wanke regime. The question then is why a man who knew so much about what was going on chose deliberately to misrepresent it to all his media/ Democrat buddies, not to mention to the American people.
…The obvious explanation for Wilson's deceit about what he found in Africa is that his hatred of Bush outweighed everything else.
To me, this Wilson saga reflects the CIA woes more than any alleged pressure from the White House. There are problems in the CIA, all right, but they appear to be from people like Wilson.
Monday, July 19, 2004
Friday, July 16, 2004
Given the fact that Allawi has been previously linked to such great things as car bombs and other tools used by terrorists, this story should come as no surprise. Considering his previously announced methods for dealing with the insurgency, this seems to be a more hands-on approach.
Kerry, in an attempt to further drive a wedge between Bush and the NAACP:
“I will be a president who truly is a uniter, not one who seeks to divide our nation by race, riches or any other label.”
But who’s the one using the class labels?
And again with the magic wand!! Kerry thinks that the UN is willing to just fall in line to help Sudan out of a sense of morality, I guess:
Kerry called for the United States, with the UN, to lead an ''international humanitarian intervention" in Sudan's war-torn region of Darfur, where Arab militias have been killing and displacing villagers, driving some into neighboring Chad.
I’m reminded of this opposition regarding a resolution we wanted to put through the Security Council (and this map). Kerry, ignoring the actions that the administration has taken, blames Bush for ignoring the problem though the US is the only major power to send a high ranking official there. Kofi had to scramble to get over there in time to have a photo op with Powell.
Going back to the uniter-not-a-divider/we-need-to-respect-our-allies business, Steyn recently made a good point: the protectionist trade policies of Kerry/Edwards are bound to alienate our friends more than liberating Iraq could ever hope to. The Bush steel tariff ordeal was just a whiff of what such policies will do to our relationships.
Thursday, July 15, 2004
I was actually searching for the Sitting Ducks posters when I stumbled across this study. I'm not sure who the Violence Policy Center is, but the report is an interesting read on how someone could wreak havoc with this weapon.
For what it's worth, I fired a 50-caliber machine gun in the Army. There wasn't a sight on it. The instructions were just to point it downrange in the vicinity of the truck-sized target, and when you see dirt kicking up, adjust accordingly.
According to the Geneva Conventions, this bullet was too large to be used against people, only equipment, such as a truck. The running joke was to aim at the equipment the enemy was wearing on their web belt.
So... apparently Rick Santorum believes that Gay Marriage is somehow helping Al-Qaeda:
"I would argue that the future of our country hangs in the balance because the future of marriage hangs in the balance," he said shortly before the vote. "Isn't that the ultimate homeland security, standing up and defending marriage?"
Because, you just KNOW those Fundamentalist Islamists are ALL ABOUT the hot man-on-man action.
Okay, just to make sure I'm following things without my scorecard here...
Orrin Hatch believes iPods promote piracy. And P2P software is destroying our econmy.
Rick Santorum thinks that Gay People getting married will bring about the end of civilization as we know it. And homosexuality leads to pedophilia and beastiality.
And of course the PATRIOT Act is helping protect us, by giving a man who retroactively classifies documents pointing out the failures of american intelligence in regards to 9/11 more free range to intrude on the private lives of American citizens. Um... shouldn't he be investigating what apparently shows that pre- Patriot act there was more than enough information available to fight terrorism? How is hiding this information from investigation going to help?
Isn't the Republican Ideology supposed to be about less government and more defense? How does amending the constitution to say who can and cannot get married provide for the common defense? Or promote economic prosperity? Or reduce the size of government intrusion into private life??
yeah, it's been tabled for now. My point is why waste time on something like this in the first place?
In one of Edwards' silver-tongued arguments to the jury on behalf of a girl born with cerebral palsy, he claimed he was channeling the unborn baby girl, Jennifer Campbell, who was speaking to the jurors through him:
"She said at 3, 'I'm fine.' She said at 4, 'I'm having a little trouble, but I'm doing OK.' Five, she said, 'I'm having problems.' At 5:30, she said, 'I need out.’
"She speaks to you through me and I have to tell you right now -- I didn't plan to talk about this -- right now I feel her. I feel her presence. She's inside me, and she's talking to you."
I will link her column for the sole purpose of citing the quote. If reading her gives you an aneurysm then don’t go here.
Also, for those who dislike Bush because they don’t think he does his homework, apparently Kerry didn’t read the very same threat assessment he criticizes Bush for not reading before he (Kerry) voted to authorize war.
Wednesday, July 14, 2004
Tuesday, July 13, 2004
Of course, if you’re an expert like Bruce Scheier, you could interpret the Filipino pull out to be a major blow to al Qaeda:
Q: Do you think the Madrid bombings, assuming they were carried out by Al Qaeda, were effective as a political tool given the surprise upset victory three days later of the Socialist Party, which wants to pull Spanish troops out of Iraq?
A: I thought the exact opposite. Al Qaeda wants escalation. When they attacked the United States, they wanted us to attack back with force because that would enrage more Arabs, which enrages more of us, and makes the conflagration worse. I'm amazed that people are saying that the victory for the antiwar people in Spain was a victory for Al Qaeda. I'm proud of Spain. They could have reacted like the U.S. and said they would use even more force. They reacted with restraint.
Someone give that expert some smelling salt!
I was heartened by Bush's recent speech where he stood firm on preemption despite the faulty intelligence:
Although we have not found stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction, we were right to go into Iraq. We removed a declared enemy of America, who had the capability of producing weapons of mass murder, and could have passed that capability to terrorists bent on acquiring them. In the world after September the 11th, that was a risk we could not afford to take.
Monday, July 12, 2004
Northcote: I sometimes get into scrapes that way by contradicting people before I have well considered the subject, and I often wonder how I get out of them so well as I do. I remember once meeting with Sir--, who was talking about Milton; and as I have a natural aversion to a coxcomb, I differed from what he said, without being at all prepared with any arguments in support of my opinion.
Hazlitt: But you had time enough to think of them afterwards.
Northcote: I got through with it somehow or other. It is the very risk you run in such cases that puts you on the alert and gives you spirit to extricate yourself from it. If you had full leisure to deliberate and to make out your defense beforehand, you perhaps could not do it so well as on the spur of the occasion. The surprise and flutter of the animal spirits gives the alarm to any little wit we possess, and puts it into a state of immediate requisition.
Hazlitt: Besides, it is always easiest to defend a paradox or an opinion you don't care seriously about. I would sooner ( as a matter of choice) take the wrong side than the right in any arguement. If you have a thorough conviction on any point and good grounds for it, you have studied it long, and the real reasons have sunk into the mind; so that what you can recall of them at a sudden pinch, seems unsatisfactory and disproportionate to the confidence of your belief and to the magisterial tone you are disposed to assume. Even truth is matter of habit and professorship. Reason and knowledge, when at their height, return into a kind of instinct. We understand the grammer of a foreign language best, though we do not speak it so well. But if you take up an opinion at a venture, then you lay hold of whatever excuse comes within your reach, instead of searching about for and bewildering yourself with the true reasons; and the odds are that the arguements thus got up are as good as those opposed to them. In fact, the more sophistical and superficial an objection to a received or well-considered opinion is, the more we are staggered and teased by it; and the next thing is to lose our temper, when we become an easy prey to a cool and disingenuous adversary. I would much rather (as the safest side) insist on Milton's pedantry than on his sublimity, supposing I were not in the company of very good judges. A single stiff or obscure line would outweigh a whole book of solemn grandeur in the mere flippant encounter of the wits, and, in general, the truth and justice of the cause you espouse is rather an encumbrance than an assistance; or it is like heavy armour which few have strength to wield. Anything short of complete triumph on the right side is defeat: any hole picked or flaw detected in an arguement which we are holding earnestly conscientiously, is sufficient to raise the laugh against us. This is the greatest advantage which folly and knavery have. We are not satisfied to be right, unless we can prove others to be quite wrong; and as all the world would be thought to have some reason on their side, they are glad of any loop-hole or pretext to escape from the dogmatism and tyranny we would set up over them. Absolute submission requires absolute proofs. Without some such drawback, the world might become too wise and too good, at least according to every man's private prescription. In this sense ridicule is the test of truth; that is, the levity and indifference on one side balances the formality and presumption on the other...
"How can a party that lets the country get bogged down in an endless war against a fourth rate military power promise anything but decades of conflict? How, in the light of all this, can the American people fail to see that the United States urgently needs new leadership? By now it's clear. The American people do see the need."
Then look here for the answer.
Oh, okay, I'll give you the answer... It was Nixon's 68 campaign.
Irony's a bitch, ain't it?
Sunday, July 11, 2004
Bush/Cheney: America, Go Fuck Yourself.
Too bad the picture's not clearer.
From the Tinfoil Hat File:
So Ridge wants the ability to "postpone" the elections if there's some sort of Terrorist Threat.
On the back of the no-change-in-color-code, "we are researching leads", vague announcement that told us absolutley nothing the same day that Kerry Anounces Edwards for a running mate... The Bureau of Homeland Defense is beginning to sound more like the Ministry of Love.
All hail Oceania!
"FLASH: Kerry returning to Boston on Sunday, day ahead of schedule to receive national security briefing. Comes after headlines from CNN/Kerry interview: 'Well, I haven't been briefed yet...They have offered to brief me. I just haven't had time'..."
I bet next Kerry will announce plans to keep his hands off Edwards.
And apparently Kerry based claims of "best hair" on faulty intelligence.
Saturday, July 10, 2004
Friday, July 09, 2004
"Related note: I wonder what’s keeping Israel from taking out Iran’s nuclear bomb-making plants. Either they know it’s too late, or they know the facilities can’t be destroyed by the conventional means, or they have good enough intel to know there’s still some time and they can wait until after the election. And then they’ll go no matter who wins. If they attack now, and Bush gives them the thumbs-up, it could cut either way domestically. Kerry would have to approve or disapprove, for example. I would guess the latter, lest he want to make the UN and the IAEA look like the dithering fools they are. If Kerry approves, then he’s thrown his lot in with the cowboy-unilateralist axis, and if people want that they’ll vote for the genuine article. The far-left fringe will howl that this is all a Zionist plot to influence the election. The far-right fringe will howl that this is all a Zionist plot to influence the election. Most Americans would look at satellite photos of demolished nuke-bomb factories and think: good thing.
"We’ll see. When it comes to Iran, I fear that either the bombs get bombed or the bombs get used. The latter is what I always thought would be the end result of the forces set in motion by 9/11, and I still hope I am wrong. I’ve been wrong enough to be hopeful."
Thursday, July 08, 2004
PBS Frontline's presidentialmarket.org just got real interesting this week. They added Badnarik, of the Libertarians, and David Cobb, of the Green Party. (Nader hasn't met the 20-state ballot minimum to get listed.)
More interesting, however, is that you can bet (invest) on shares of whichever way you think a particular state will go - GOP, Dem, or other. You get a base amount to start investing, and candidates pay dividends when officially nominated by their party.
Moral Conviction or Cowardice?
To clarify my views on these two guys: While I find the idea of deserting to be kind of weasel-ly say likeif you've outright committed to the program, then suddenly decide you've had enough. After all, if you 've gone through basic, chanted all the killing chants and whatnot, and THEN get cold feet, that comes off to me as... well, dishonest. Like breaking a contract. But, reading each of their websites and the article, both of them present a fair amount of evidence that they attempted to go through the necessary processes to leave, and were summarily refused. Funny, I thought we had a volunteer army. Both of their stories, plus this one brought forth this question:
Why isn't a change of heart (such as a realisation of a deep moral opposition to violence) a valid reason for leaving military service?
The necessary processes do exist, but are they being neglected? We've all heard of conscientious objector status... so I won't go into that.
Speaking with some ex GI friends, there's an opt-out clause during basic training called something like "non adpatation" that allows for you to leave if you proove that you can't get into the mindset. Essentially you get no benefits and after a few years, your record of military service is removed from public record.
From what I've been able to find on the internet, each of these guys tried to to exercise these options to leave.
One of them, Hinzman, actually filed for Conscientious Objector status, and was denied it on grounds that he would respond with violence if attacked personally.
According to my ex-military friends, C.O. status is not quite an honorable discharge, and therefore can have long lasting negative social impact. Specifically being that upon discharge, any time you apply for a job, loan or whatever, you have to offer up your DD2-14 document showing your discharge status. It is possible, they inform me that this can close doors as well as open them.
(engage snark mode)Apparently the appeals process for changing your discharge status is more of a hassle than getting Limbaugh, Hannity or Coulter to present facts and not opinions in their froth-mouthed ravings. (disengage snark mode)
So Hinzman had to be aware of what he was setting himself up for by filing for this. For further clarification on his situation, my friend informed me that working K.P. for 14 months in a field kitchen is one of the shittiest jobs imaginable in the military, so to suffer through that shows some level of committment to his beliefs.
The other one, Hughey - was told that he would face charges of refusing to obey a direct order, and summary prosecution as well as possible incarceration. He also expressed feelings of suicidal depression about his situation.
Once again, speaking with My ex-military friends, this is radically different from what they went through in Gulf War I - if someone wanted out, due to conscientious objection, or due to non adpatation, they had to undergo the process of verifying their intent was valid, but then were released from duty. The idea of someone who didn't want to be in combat but was placed there was viewed as detrimental to the point of dangerous for both moral and survival of the troops.
SO why is our military deciding to not follow up on what seems to be a logical position? If in each case these guys showed that they would be more harm than help in combat, Why were they denied the ability to leave? If the media is giving us accurate information on enlistment figures growing all the time, why would we need to employ such draconian tactics to keep people in there who would probably be better off elsewhere?
Interesting Quotes found on sites related to these stories:
"Nationalism is an infantile disease. It is the measles of mankind."
Albert Einstein (attributed)
"It is part of the general pattern of misguided policy that our country is now geared to an arms economy which was bred in an artificially induced psychosis of war hysteria and nurtured upon an incessant propaganda of fear."
General Douglas MacArthur, Speech, May 15, 1951
Wednesday, July 07, 2004
Monday, July 05, 2004
Friday, July 02, 2004
HAPPY 4TH OF JULY WEEKEND! - this tree is in the empty lot across from my house. My neighbors painted it up for the 4th in 2001 and had a big barbecue. Since then, its become a favorite place for others in the neighborhood to have family reunions and various get-togethers.
Thursday, July 01, 2004
Expected A long summer of steady attacks aimed at Iraqis and the coalition alike; the capture of Zarqawi during the summer; and enough good things to provide a positive sense of direction about where Iraq is going; a possible Bush victory where he actually gets the popular vote; and an improving situation in Iraq thereafter along with some positive developments in countries like Saudi Arabia and Egypt; the capture of Osama or the excavation of his body in the next few years; a peaceful solution in N. Korea; and (for me) vacation in Baghdad, spring 2010 where I can visit all the newly opened museums. Peace between Palestinian and Israel in about 30 to 40 years if Sharon pulls out of settlements and finishes the wall.
Best case All of the above; the collapse of the Mullahs in Iran; vacation Baghdad, summer 2008; possible extension of my trip to Mecca (okay I’m stretching it).
Disclaimer There’s the chance that Kerry might actually show resolve on the war on terror[Confucius say: even liberal senator make moderate president in two party nation]. If he’s elected, crushed as I’ll be, I’ll support almost any vigorous strategy he employs.
From the Onion's All American All The Time PATRIOT Issue:
American People Ruled Unfit To Govern
Hero Citizen Can Name All 50 States
Government Issues Citizens Official 'Screw You' Packet
Makes me proud ta be uh uhMurriken!