INCITE
Incite -- (v) 1: give an incentive; 2: provoke or stir up; "incite a riot"; 3: urge on; cause to act
Tuesday, August 31, 2004

 
RNC - Day 2, Part last
Written by: Beck

Laura is done speaking, and if I'm not gravely mistaken, that's it for the night apart from the punditry and commentary. Blogger.com willing, I'll be back tomorrow evening covering & commenting on Day 3 of the RNC--watching the whole damn thing so you don't have to.

Hey, I kind of like that for a motto.

Speakers tomorrow include Lynn Cheney, Dick Cheney, and keynote speaker Democrat Zell Miller.

Buh-bye.


 
RNC - Day 2, Part 9 - Laura Bush edition
Written by: Beck

The introductions of the Bush daughters complete, they've cut to footage of President Bush who will introduce Laura via live remote.

I can't imagine this will be an especially exciting speech, but then, the job of the First Lady's speech isn't to be exciting. She just needs to be genuine and endearing. From what the pundits were saying earlier, Laura Bush is one of the two most popular First Ladies in modern politics, the other one being Barbara Bush, so she shouldn't have too hard a time.

I think Laura is the only person I've heard say Dick Cheney's name without it somehow sounding sinister or creepy. She's also the only one who can say, "George Dubya," without sounding like there's an implied insult behind the nickname. The only problem I have is the strong hint of a Dallas accent (not to be mistaken for other, much less annoying Texas accents).

She definitely looks more comfortable than she did four years ago when she made her first major public speaking appearance ever (if I recall correctly) at the convention itself. Also, unlike her husband, she doesn't look like she's aged in the past four years. Bush looks about 10 years older than he did in 2000.

Update: The issue most important for the future: to fight terror and make our country secure, "So our children can grow up in a more peaceful world."

[Paraphrasing] "Our nation owes its thanks to the young men and women fighting so that we can have a safer future." This certainly beats Kerry's wife's speech wherein she bragged about her "struggle" against racism in South Africa (which seems to have involved going to one protest) and pontificating about how people needed to be more conscious of their responsibility to the environment.

Update: I didn't know Laura Bush's father died of Alzheimer's. He was present at the liberation of one of the Nazi Death Camps. Perhaps Alzheimer's was something of a mercy.

Update: She's making another point which I think hasn't been emphasized enough--the freedom of the women of Afghanistan. They weren't even legally allowed to learn how to read under the Taliban. The Taliban regime was one of the feminist movement's cause celebre's of choice. Strangely, they fell silent when it was a Republican who freed those virtual slaves.

I think I just hit the boredom wall. Laura's voice is a bit too monotonous and her delivery a bit too much like Senator Dole's.

In other news, Bush & Laura met at a BBQ and were married 3 months later. Yeesh.


 
RNC - Day 2, Part 8
Written by: Beck

The Bush daughters are up to the plate. I think they just propositioned Schwartzenegger. Lame speech so far, but then, what do you expect? Ixnay on the Sex in the City jokes. Yeesh.

Self referential jokes--"We spent the last 4 years trying to stay out of the spotlight. [Chagrined look]."

"When your dad's a Republican and you go to Yale, you learn how to stand up for yourself." More jokes. Not especially funny. The DNC handled this better--parading the daughters of Kerry and Edwards in front of the camera, but keeping their time on stage to a minimum (not short enough though, what with the hamster CPR story). Plus, the daughters are playing up the "Ditzy Coed Girl" routine. Actually, it probably plays pretty well to the base.

"We had a hamster too. Let's just say ours didn't make it." Now THAT'S funny.

Moving on to the "substance" part of the speech now, they're talking about what wonderful people their parents are and all the values and whatnot they learned from them. I think it might be time for another sandwich.


 
RNC - Day 2, Part 7 - Arnold Schwartzenegger edition
Written by: Beck

Maria Shriver's overbite has always disturbed me. Am I the only one? She's sitting next to George H. W. Bush, amusingly. Sorry, was that off topic?

Pundits: He won the Mr. Universe contest 5 times.

Ahnold: "This is like winning an Oscar... Speaking of acting, one of my movies was called True Lies. And that's what the Democrats should have called their convention." Not really funny, and the quoting your movie career stuff was old back during the California governor recall election. Please, let it stop.

"To stand here and speak on behalf of the President of the United States of America is an immigrant's dream." Followed by a list of great things about the USA. He should try to get a "USA! USA! USA!" chant going. When he says that becoming an American citizen was his proudest day, you can tell he means it.

Update: He's talking of the fear he lived in under the Soviet oppressed Austrian nation. And the USA! USA! USA! chant has started! Can I call 'm or what?

Update: I remember from my one trip to Austria what a huge national hero Schwartzenegger is. I wonder if they're all watching his speech right now. I also wonder how they feel about his line that [paraphrased], "I still love Austria, but my home is the USA."

Now he's quoting his impression on coming to the United States of hearing Nixon speak. I'm not sure how that's going to play. Expect it to be taken out of context in the press. "Nixon talked about free enterprise and getting government off your back and it was like a breath of fresh air to me." This was an Arnold who had just arrived in the States. "I heard that, and I said, 'I am a Republican.'" Followed by a pot-shot at the Kennedys.

"Immigrants tonight, we want you to know how welcome you are in this party." Arnold's an interesting person to be making immigrant outreach. For one thing he's an immigrant himself, but for another, he's governor of the state with the most immigrants, legal and otherwise, of any state in the nation.

Update: "How do you know if you're a Republican? If you believe the government should be accountable to the people, not that the people should be accountable to the government, then you are a Republican... If you believe that a person should be treated as an individual, not as a member of an interest group, than you are a Republican... If you believe that your family knows how to spend your money better than the government does... If you believe that this country, not the United Nations is the best hope for Democracy..." That last one has the crowd going wild. It's amazing how much the US has turned against the UN. There have been people advocating an American exit from the UN for decades, but they were never really taken seriously until after the UN absolutely failed to support the US in the war on terrorism.

Nuts, he just said something about "terminating terrorism." The California legislature should pass a law banning Schwartzenegger from ever making another pun from one of his movies. I'm guessing now that he's going to wrap things up with an, "I'll be back," to say nothing of the fact that he just dropped a "girly man" reference. Oh well, I guess you stick with what you know. It seems to work for the crowd.

He makes a great point here: Remember 20 years ago when people said that Japan and Germany were overtaking the United States (economically)? It was nonsense, and fear-mongering that India and China are overtaking the US economically is equally nonsense. I don't agree with him entirely, but he makes a compelling point. My opinion is that Japan didn't overtake us (Germany had too many structural problems for long term success (i.e. they were too economically liberal) was because America recognized the threat and responded by adopting Japanese manufacturing methods, working harder, and being conscious of the fact that we couldn't keep making shitty cars and expecting people to buy them.

Update: "Make no mistake, terrorism is a greater threat than communism, because it seeks not just to destroy the individual, but an entire way of life... Bush went to Iraq not because it was popular, indeed the polls said just the opposite, he went to Iraq to combat a threat to the American way of life, that's why we're safer today under President George W. Bush." [paraphrasing there a bit at the end.]

The audience is absolutely eating this stuff up. The networks may not have seen fit to broadcast Giuliani or McCain, but at least the whole nation has an opportunity to watch this one.

Update: Well, he's nearing the end of his speech, and he used the "I'll be back," line, but in a novel way--relating how someone else had used the line on him.

"My fellow Americans, I want you to know that I believe with all my heart that America remains the great idea that inspires the world..." Now he's chanting "4 more years" along with the audience--the first speaker I've seen join in the chant.

Close out with a camera shot of Bush Sr. waving an "ARNOLD" sign. Annnnd cut.


 
RNC - Day 2, Part 6
Written by: Beck

Michael Steel--Maryland's Lieutenant Governor--is speaking now on Civil Rights.

"I had planned to give a moving defense of conservative principles tonight, but there was one problem--Barack Obama gave it last month at the Democratic National Convention." OK, I noticed the same thing too, as did others--change one or two words, and Obama could have been delivering the Republican keynote speech. However, considering that most Americans didn't see Obama's speech, I have to question the wisdom of making this point. The audience clearly was rather uncertain of how to react.

He's moved on to tallying Republican accomplishments in civil rights, from Abraham Lincoln to defeating the pro-segregation Southern Democrats during the Civil Rights Act fights. I can think of a few people who likely would argue that the Republican party is NOT the party of minorities. That's another debate for another time however.

Update: Turns out Steele is the first minority elected to a statewide office in Maryland.

"[Kerry] doesn't want to use the word 'war' to describe our efforts against terrorism. Well ladies and gentlemen, I don't want to use the words 'Commander in Chief' to describe John Kerry." Well, I guess we've strayed a wee bit off the civil rights topic, but I have to admit, if I had a chance to speak at the convention, I wouldn't be able to resist a few anti-Kerry digs regardless of what the topic was.

Ah, now he's bringing the anti-Kerry schtick around to the civil rights. All the things that Republicans, and often Democrats, voted for in the Senate, "...but not John Kerry." The crowd is chanting along with him.

"Alright, enough about [Kerry.]" Agreed.

Update: His mother, a life-long Democrat, asked Steele how he could grow up to be a Republican. "Mom, you raised me well." HAW! "You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift. You cannot encouraging the weak by bringing down the strong... you cannot bring about the brotherhood of man by encouraging conflict." All good stuff. I missed a few of his "you cannots" because he was going too fast. You'll just have to take my word on it.


 
RNC - Day 2, Part 5
Written by: Beck

Ron Paige, the Secretary of Education, is speaking now. Shockingly, he's speaking about education. I think I'm going to go have a sandwich.

Update: Actually, Paige delivered a pretty good (and mercifully brief) speech. He did a good job making the case for the No Child Left Behind program and argued that it has succeeded. Further, he pointed out that Bush increased education more in the past 3 years than Clinton did during the entire 8 years he was in office.


 
RNC - Day 2, Part 4
Written by: Beck

Blogger.com seems to be working again. Looks like someone had to go in manually and kill a couple posts that never properly went through. At least someone's on the job.

In other news, Bill Frist is speaking at the moment. This fact is primarily noteworthy because he's considered to be on the short list of potential Republican candidates in 2008. His speech thus far has been fine, but not especially noteworthy. His delivery reminds me of John Kerry--his style is fine, he's convincing, he's sincere, it's not like he's monotone or anything, it's just that he doesn't engender excitement.

In other news, Frist just called for the partial privitization of social security again. This wonderful idea cannot be pushed hard enough as far as I'm concerned. The more people are given free market opportunities for investment, the more efficiently savings will accrue and the less likely the government is to bankrupt itself as it becomes swamped by the mass retirements of the baby boomer generation.

"...our abused personal injury system, the abuse of trial lawyers... and we oppose those predators. [Paraphrasing] We must stop them from twisting medical service into a medical lottery where they hit the jackpot and patients wind up paying." I agree entirely, and this is another message that needs to be told. Also, it's a highly effective criticism of John Edwards who profiteered off the suffering of poor families and exploitation of pseudo-science and the ignorance of juries.

"You can no longer be pro-patient and pro-trial lawyer... John Kerry has made his choice, he put a trial lawyer on his ticket."

Update: Frist is having entirely too much rhetorical fun, and his speech has gone on far too long. The last five minutes have been entirely a repeat of points he had already raised, phrased in new ways in an attempt to be catchy. It didn't especially work, but it still served to get his primary messages across. Namely he argues that Bush is better on health care and that despite claims to the contrary, the Bush White House hasn't banned stem cell research, they've just limited government funding on certain specific types of stem cell research, and banned nothing.


 
RNC - Day 2, Part 3
Written by: Beck

George P. Bush has taken the stage now. He recently spoke out in opposition to government efforts to strengthen border patrol officer's abilities to fight illegal immigration. He does this at a time when more and more reports are coming out about terrorists trying to enter the United States disguised as Mexican immigrants crossing America's Southern border. I can't help but think George P., much like George W., isn't thinking beyond the basic surface level implications of immigration policy.

George P., after making a point about W.'s increase in education spending, has pointed out that minority home-ownership has reached the highest levels in American history & that tax breaks help small business owners--two points not heard or said often enough.

Update: It's pretty obvious that George P. will be pursuing a political life before too long. I've got a hunch--interruption: he just launched into Spanish. Good accent (I understand he's 100% fluent in Spanish, like his father). Where was I? Ah yes. I was going to complain about how all of the Bush's seem inclined to name their sons "George." It's really frigging annoying. A prediction: in twenty years or so George P. Bush will be running for president, and his opponents will make unending tired parallels between King George III and George P. This will annoy me when it occurs. You have been warned.


 
RNC - Day 2, Part 2
Written by: Beck

Senator Dole is speaking now. I was never a huge fan of her, but then, that's largely because I see her as an enemy of high speed limits. The accent is kind of annoying too.

Tonight's theme is "Compassion of the American People," which I can't help but imagine translates to, "A bunch of boring pontification." It's a necessary part of politics--I wouldn't expect to see anything any different--still, it hardly makes for rousing stuff.

Updates to follow if Dole says anything worth commenting on.

Update: "Marriage between a man and a woman isn't something Republicans invented, but it is something Republicans will defend." Followed by a pro-elderly and a pro-unborn message. After which she repeated her, "...but it is something Republicans will defend" line. I guess someone was bound to bring these points up, but I can't imagine it will play all that well. I suppose today is the day the Republicans appeal to their base. And I'd certainly rather this message be delivered by a non-threatening, harmless personage like Dole rather than, for instance, Pat Buchanan.

The "...Republicans will defend," hookline doesn't do it for me either. It's a bit of a contortion of a phrase, and doesn't roll off the tongue. Plus, her delivery is far too reminiscent of a 2nd grade teacher reading Curious George to her students.

Update: I've heard a lot of criticism from liberals about the Republicans not giving a genuine representation of their party at this convention (e.g. Andrew Sullivan). Their complaint is that the biggest headliners--McCain, Giuliani, and Schwartzenegger--are moderates, but the party's platform is much more conservative. Two things: first of all, Dole just laid out every single piece of social conservatism in the platform. It's there, for all the world to see now. I suspect will be hearing plenty more of that tonight as well. Second, the entire DNC was about being pro-war, and no one will seriously convince me that the Democratic Party base is a gung-ho, pro-war, political party. The half-million people (or 120,000 depending on who you talk to) marching in New York on Sunday demonstrated that amply.


 
RNC - Day 2, Part 1
Written by: Beck

Mark Shields makes an interesting observation: the perception and the reality of Arnold Schwarzenegger are completely different. People think of his political views as being somehow reflective of his movie persona, which isn't necessarily the case.

Evidently there's some concern that Schwarzenegger will draw a bigger crowd tonight than Bush will on Thursday. Somehow I have a hard time thinking that will come true, but at the same time, the very fact that people could contemplate the possibility speaks volumes. Meantime, there's a looming fiscal disaster in California, and he's running a bigger deficit than recalled Governor Gray Davis.

In other news, yesterday was the day I learned how to spell "Giuliani." Today, I've finally learned "Schwarzenegger."


 
The Commissar embraces capitalism
Written by: Beck

Seems like the only possible logical conclusion to me.


 
Convention blogging to commence in 3... 2... 1...
Written by: Beck

A little something to whet your appetite.

Place your bets, ladies and gentlemen, last chance to place your bets.


Monday, August 30, 2004

 
Victory Improbable?
Written by: Goemagog

In a fit of frenchness, Bush says that the war probably can't be won.

Asked "Can we win?" Bush said, "I don't think you can win it. But I think you can create conditions so that the — those who use terror as a tool are less acceptable in parts of the world."


The problem here is that from the start the administration and most of it's critics have talked about terrorism and a war on terrorists. This is not about terrorism and never was. Declaring a war on "terrorism" would be akin to declaring WW2 to be a war against naval aviation. The terrorists are not random loonies acting on whim or on orders from their neighbors dog, they're mercenaries in the employ of foreign powers.

They hate us because we're not, as a society, submissive to their religious beliefs. This hatred would never extend past marches and protests without the mercenary organizations who hire fanatics for attacks. Those organizations are employed by nations. Two of those countries have been invaded and their government toppled, but a number remain untouched and unthreatened. How can we win a war against the mercenary organizations that use terrorism when we refuse to make war on most of their employers. The most well-known leader of a mercenary "terrorist" organization is Arafat, not bin Laden, but Arafat hides behind U.S. protection as he terrorizes his neighbors and tyrannizes his own people.

Lebanon, a puppet-state of Syria, is home to a great many camps used by mercenaries but remains free of even the threat of American military action. All of the other countries paying mercenaries to attack us know that we haven't the capability or national desire to strike at our enemies. They hope that by prolonging the fighting in Iraq, Michael Moore will make us give up attacking our enemies. They were suprised that we went after Afghanistan and Iraq and are hoping that our fury is spent so when we're attacked next, there will be a great public outcry to increase our security but not strike at our enemies.

They have the time to find holes in whatever security we devise, but there is nothing they can do to stop an infantry division. They would rather we hid in ours homes and talked about the futility of sending troops abroad, but if we don't want to cower in our homes waiting for them to come kill us then we HAVE to strike out at them. Afghanistan and Iraq were a start, but both our enemies and our current administration are hoping that it goes no further, that everybody just stays home. If we stay home then they will come and force us to submit or die, giving them the islamic-only planet that is their sole measure of victory. If we are to live free then we must hunt them down and kill them. Only then can we have peace. A lasting peace will not come from trying to befriend those who would slit our throats as we slept. As long as there are people, there will be bad people. If we wish to live in peace, free from their attacks, then no doubt must be left in their minds, or the minds of those they know, that any attack will result in their death, the deaths of their loved ones, the destruction of their homes, the burning of their crops, the poisoning of their wells, and the plowing of salt into their lands.

Peace through compromise is not peace, but a lull while both sides recoup and reorganize. This is the peace that Bush wants, a false peace where we sit around waiting for the war to re-ignite He doesn't believe the war can be won because he has no desire to win it.

It is depressing that we have a war-time election where two pacifists argue over who will fight hardest so that we can surrender to our enemies on better terms, both knowing that our enemies would never abide by those terms.


UPDATE: Bush now says that we can win, but not while he's president. He says that winning the war won't happen for a very long time, no matter who wins the election. I think they need to develop a new plan.


Goe, will not be voting for Bush or Kerry.


 
RNC blogging - Day 1, Part 15
Written by: Beck

Interview with John McCain by Jim Lehrer, David Brooks, and Mark Shields:

McCain: I was surprised at the reception of my speech. I hadn't expected such a huge positive reception.

McCain: Democrats are not our enemies. They may be our adversaries, but they're not our enemies.

Interesting bit of nuance there.

Asked if this is the most bitter campaign in history, McCain responds, "Well, I wasn't around for all of history, but this is the most bitter campaign I can remember."

"There's going to be a time next January when we're all going to have to work together on a lot of issues [no matter who's better]"

Lehrer: "How's your relationship with Bush right now?"

McCain: "It's fine, but it's been fine since 2000... we have a very friendly relationship, and we always have." On common interests with Bush, "You know... friends... sports..."

McCain: "John Kerry and I are good friends, and he has my respect."

Update: Lehrer: Is Iraq going to be the deciding issue?

McCain: Yes, I think this is a very tenuous time, and if I were the bad guys, I'd try to inflict as many casualties as I could on Americans... I think it would weaken American resolve.

OK, unless something unexpected happens, I'm done blogging for the evening. See you all here tomorrow as things warm up for day 2 of the RNC.


 
RNC blogging - Day 1, Part 14
Written by: Beck

For some reason, Sinatra's "New York, New York" is playing. I take that back. They're rebroadcasting an old Sinatra performance from a concert. You know, I never realized before how much Sinatra looks like Phil Hartman.

OK, so I don't have a hard time understanding the reason they're playing it, especially coming right after Giuliani's speech.

Since I would seem to have some time...

A great line ripped from the pages of Captain's Quarters, in an interview with Ari Fleisher from Blogger corner (where I wish I were right now):
Q: What's President Bush like to work for?

A: I thought President Bush was the most uplifting, warm boss that you can ever imagine having. His pat on the back is as hard as his kick in the butt. You don't ever want to let him down, because he treats his staff so well, he is so good to be around. He has the greatest sense of humor, good nature, and when you're the President, you really want to work hard on someone's behalf because there's nothing more important. He's a wonderful man who works well.

I think that's why you see such longetivity among his top staff, which is unusual for the White House staff to work as long as they have. [unintelligible] You don't find that in a modern presidency any more. Karl Rove, Jan Bartlett, Scott McClelland, Judge Gonzalez, Harriet Myers, Josh Bolton. You don't find this much anymore in a presidency. It's a tribute to the person at the top. It doesn't matter what party you are, it's human nature. He's a wonderful boss and a wonderful man.


 
RNC blogging - Day 1, Part 13 - Rudy Giuliani edition
Written by: Beck

One thing this convention has done for me--I know now for certain how to spell, "Giuliani."

Updates to follow. Crowd going nuts. Networks providing no coverage. Business as usual.

Update: Giuliani has likened Bush to Washington (who took his oath of office in NYC). Bush said to the terrorists, "You will hear from us." Well they've heard from us.

"They heard from us in Libya, and without firing a shot, Quadafi abandoned his weapons of mass destruction." Yeah, I've blogged on that a time or three.

"So long as George Bush is our president, is there any doubt they will continue to hear from us?"

Update: "NYC and America are open for business, and they are stronger than ever." Followed by leading the crowd in a chant of "New York!" and an ad-lib about the Yankees. What a great speaker to be able to improvise like that.

"Our party's great contribution is to expand freedom in our own land and all over the world." That's a good point, considering that the first Republican president was Abraham Lincoln.

"These are times when leadership is the most important." I don't think it's necessary to play up leadership to such a great extent at the expense of other things. It's not like Bush doesn't have other strong points. Right?

Update: Giuliani just expressed something a lot of people felt on 9/11. What he said to his police chief, spontaneously and without thought, "Thank God George Bush is our President."

Update: "Terrorism didn't start on September 11th... The world created a response to it that allowed it to succeed. The attack on the Israelis at the Olympics was in 1972... The three surviving terrorists were arrested, and then in just 3 months, the terrorists were released by the German government [booing], Set free!, action like this became the rule, not the exception. Terrorists came to learn that they could attack, slaughter innocent people, and not face any consequences." Why aren't more people making this point?

"Terrorists learned they could intimidate the world community, and too often the response, particularly in Europe, would be accommodation, appeasement, and compromise. And worse. They also learned that their cause would be taken more seriously almost in direct proportion to the horror of their attacks... Terrorism became a bargaining chip... How else to explain Yasser Arafat winning the Nobel Peace Prize?"

I don't know how well that will play in the media, but I'm 100% glad he said it. Principle has to take the place of pragmatism in such things. There are certain absolutes that cannot be danced around.

Update: "Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists!" That's gonna piss off a few Democrats. Tee-hee.

"[The media] ridiculed Winston Churchill, they belittled Ronald Reagan..." another point which should be dug up more. Maybe I'm the one who needs to learn something. The media has always been liberal, and they have always gotten away with it. Or, just maybe, I should use that as motivation to redouble my efforts at blogging. After all, I take great pride in serving as an alternative outlet of information.

Update: It's kinda funny. During the DNC, speakers repeatedly tried to draw comparisons between Kerry and JFK and FDR. Rudy is drawing repeated comparisons between Bush and Reagan and Churchill. I must say, Bush is in much better company out of those two comparisons. At the same time, it's kind of sad that American politics have reached the point where people like Kerry and Bush can seriously be compared to Churchill and JFK.

Update: Rudy is now tallying past John Kerry flip-flops. Coming from most people, this would seem petty, but Rudy is pulling it off. "With two months left in the campaign, he still has time to change his position 4 or 5 more times!" More Rudy: "I quote John Kerry, 'I acutally did vote for the 87 billion before I voted against it.'" I can't believe he just said that. Hilarious. "Maybe that explains John Edwards' need for two Americas. One where John Kerry can vote for something, and one where he can vote against the exact same thing." Again, Rudy can get away with this. Something about that New York attitude leads you to expect it. It's really a crying shame that this isn't being televized on the main channels.

Now Rudy's taking Kerry to task on a flip-flop on the Israeli security wall. I still wonder why it is that most Jewish-Americans support Kerry. I've never understood that.

"Under President Bush, you can be certain America will lead, not follow." I think Giuliani is starting to wrap things up. Of course, every time I start thinking that, he goes into a new part of his speech. "...I remember the days following September 11 when we were no longer Republicans or Democrats, but we were Americans..." You know how much I would give to have a McCain-Giuliani presidential ticket?

Update: Rudy's doing comedy now. Talking about construction workers talking to Bush on September 14th. Bear hugs are involved. It's actually really funny. Rudy's delivery is completely natural. Now onto the serious stuff. Forget that. He's talking about the Boston Red Sox.

Now thanking the nation for its support after 9/11. "Let's make sure that we rekindle that spirit that we had. That we're one America." "In any effort to remove the pillars of support of terrorism, Saddam Hussein had to be removed." "[Saddam] was himself a weapon of mass destruction." "Removing a pillar of support for terrorism [Iraq] is nothing to be defensive about." Amen!

Update: "Governments that are free and accountable... are the long term way to defeat terrorism."

"The war on terrorism will not be won in a single battle. There will be no key surrender. There will be no dramatic crumbling of a wall."

"...and God bless America." That's that.


 
RNC blogging - Day 1, Part 12
Written by: Beck

Now for speeches from some family members of 9/11 victims. Deena Barrett up now, whose husband was on the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania. He called her from the plane. He told her he was putting together a plan to take back the cockpit.

"What they did was a testament to courage and the American spirit." She's having a hard time making it through her speech. Very moving. If I hear anyone bitching about, "Exploiting 9/11 for political gain," I'll likely have to punch them in the face.

Her message is that it's our responsibility as citizens to "do something" whether serving in the military or in the community, to help out our fellow Americans. This isn't about politics, it's about remembering what it means to be an American.

Update: Debra Burlingame speaking now. Her husband was pilot of the plane that hit the Pentagon. It's worth noting that these people aren't talking about Bush, Republicans, or anything else partisan.


 
RNC blogging - Day 1, Part 11 - John McCain edition
Written by: Beck

John McCain is up to bat. Updates to follow. Crowd is going wild.

Update: "I'm truly grateful for the privilege of addressing you."

Quoting FDR, "There's a mysterious cycle in human events. Of some generations much is given. Of others generations much is expected. This generation of Americans has a rendezvous with destiny."

McCain's speech is rather poetic. His use of language is the best I've heard yet from either convention. He has that precious knack to use a large, broad vocabulary effortlessly and naturally.

Update: "Only the most deluded of us can doubt the necessity of this war... We must fight. We must."

"All Americans must share a resolve to see this war through to a just end. We must not be complacent at moments of success, and we must not despair at set backs." It goes on. I can't type fast enough. Everything in this speech thus far has been quotable.

Update: "We were attacked not for something we'd done, but for who we are... the notion that the people are sovereign. Not the army, not the government, not kings, mullahs, or tyrants, but the people."

"In that moment we were not rich or poor, we were not liberal or conservative, we were not two different countries, we were Americans."

Literally, every line from this speech is quote-worthy. This is great stuff. It's really a tragedy that it's not being carried by the networks.

In other news, what's up with his left cheek? He looks like he must've had his jaw broken at some point. He looks like he perpetually has a chaw in. Sorry, got distracted there. I won't let it happen again.

"And as we've been a friend to other countries in moments of their perils, so we have reason to expect their solidarity with us in this moment of struggle." Take that France."

"I do not doubt the sincerity of our Democratic friends, and they should not doubt ours."

"Our president is willing to work will all nations who are willing to help us defeat this scourge that confronts us all."

"There is no avoiding this war. We tried that, and our reluctance cost us dearly."

Blogger has stopped responding. Great timing. Hopefully this is getting out.

Evidently everyone on the planet suddenly feels compelled to post a blog post. Blogger isn't responding. So I'll just keep typing.

Update: McCain is now going over how the European nations and UN continued to do business with Saddam and how Saddam continued to defy inspections and to shoot at American planes until the last day he was in office.

"... and certainly not [take the word of/trust] a disingenuous film maker who would have us believe [Camera is on Michael Moore now. He's shrugging. Now the audience is chanting 4 more years. McCain can't go on. He's having to ask for silence] That line was so good I'll use it again. Certainly not a disingenuous film maker who would have us believe that Saddam's Iraq was an oasis of peace when in fact it was a place of indescribable cruelty, torture chambers, mass graves, and prisons that destroyed the lives of the small children inside their walls."

Update: Blogger back up. Looks like a server reboot.

"We have to love our country."

"No American will ever forget what happened on September 11th... It shook us from our complacency from the belief that the end of the Cold War had ushered in an era of security and tranquility."

Update: "We are Americans first, Americans last, and Americans always." "Let us argue our differences, but remember, we are not enemies, we are comrades in a war against a real enemy, and take courage from the knowledge that our military superiority is matched only by our ideals and our incomperable love for them."

"They fight for hatred of humanity. We fight for love of freedom and justice."

"We're Americans, and we'll never surrender." Why couldn't this guy be our president?


 
RNC blogging - Day 1, Part 10
Written by: Beck

A burka wearing Shia Muslim woman who heads the American Islamic Council is speaking now. Interesting tactic. The DNC, as far as I recall, didn't have any outreach to the "religion of peace."

She's evidently an expatriate Iraqi. She's one of those people who actually remembers the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who died under Saddam's rule. "There has been a war in Iraq raging for the last 3 decades... A war was waged by Saddam against his own people... I lived through it... Today, I come to tell you, Iraq enjoys a new day."

She's right, you know. Things are pretty messy there now, but so long as Iraqi civilians are willing to seize the opportunity, the chances to thrive in a secular, stable, and wealthy nation is uniquely theirs.

"I tell you proudly that your noble sacrifice was not in vain."

"I promise you, we will never forget what your sons and daughters did for us. Thank you."


 
RNC blogging - Day 1, Part 9
Written by: Beck

Some "Former Assistant Attorney General," is now delivering a speech explaining why the Patriot Act isn't a terrible thing. "Critics argue... the fact is..." Etc. This is a mistake, and the speech is unconvincing. All it does is serve to remind people about the association between the Patriot Act (which received bipartisan support originally) and the Bush Justice Department. Furthermore, his attempts to refute "what critics say" comes across as defensive and it sounds like he's just playing tricks with semantics. Come on Karl Rove, you know better than this.


 
RNC blogging - Day 1, Part 8
Written by: Beck

Former NYC police commissioner Bernard Kerik is speaking now. Not exactly a political heavyweight, but he was certainly the man for his time a few years ago. Can't go wrong with the NYPD/FD. This follows on the heals of a pretty cool film & music tribute to the armed forces.

"We didn't ask for this war, but faced with an evil whose only mission was to destroy this country, we had to respond. We had to fight this war abroad, and we have to fight this war at home." Followed by comments about the DHS and the increases of funding its received. Very lukewarm applause.

"Saddam will be held accountable." More applause there. I'd be happier to hear, "Osama bin Lauden will be held accountable."

"The fight takes decisiveness, not contradiction... not votes against spending to support our first responders and troops."

Not a bad speech for a cop.


 
RNC blogging - Day 1, Part 7
Written by: Beck

Heather Wilson of New Mexico is speaking now.

She's telling stories about dead New Mexican soldiers. It's actually quite eloquent, and she seemed choked up for a second. "Jason Cunningham died for a cause worth fighting for," after a reference to the damage to the Pentagon after 9/11.

I think this is the proper way to go about remembering the events of September 11th. "Where does the courage come from? Where do we find men and women like this?" She's reminding people that the people serving in the military have a specific motivation--they're not just there because Bush sent them there. They're there because they believe in their mission.

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Hat tip to My Pet Jawa for the photo.


 
RNC blogging - Day 1, Part 6
Written by: Beck

Well, the brief (and random) President Ford tribute is over, as is the musical act which followed--Dexter Freebish. Because, why not? Evidently we have Ford to thank for starting the trend of deregulation. I did not know that.

George Bush 41 has entered the floor now. The background music: Jump by Van Halen. Lim Lehrer, "...he just turned 80, and these days, every time he has a birthday, he jumps out of an airplane." I can respect that. For what it's worth, he doesn't look 80 at all.

Worth noting: Bush Jr. has repudiated a lot of the policies of Bush Sr. Bush Jr. said, "We can no longer support oppresive dictators in the name of stability," while that very policy was central to Bush Sr.'s foreign policy. Furthermore, Bush Jr. made a point that "This time, we won't cut and run," about Iraq, something his father was guilty of.

And now Ron Silver makes his appearance. Evidently he's here to orchestrate the pep-rally. He just lead the audience in a chant of "Four more years!" And there you have it.


 
RNC blogging - Day 1, Part 5
Written by: Beck

Dick Cheney just entered the building. They're making a big deal about his entrance. Evidently they're planning big entrances like this the whole time (i.e. he's not going to speak now). Every time I see this guy in public, I keep waiting for him to have a stroke or a heart attack or something.

David Brooks (paraphrasing): This is a unified party, but it's a very unstable party... Four years ago, this was all about compassionate conservatism, now that's all gone. Now it's about the war... For decades, this party was held together by the belief that they had to reduce the size of the government... they haven't done that... so now they have to find something else to unify this party.

I agree 100%, and I think once the War on Terror has lost momentum, the Republican party could severely splinter. Is it really so much to ask for less government involvement in my daily life?


 
RNC blogging - Day 1, Part 4
Written by: Beck

Denny Hastert is up to bat now. Not sure why he wasn't listed on CNN's speaker schedule. Whatever.

I can tell already that this guy has roughly as much charisma as Ted Kennedy (i.e. scant).

"The economy grows when the private sector grows, not when the government grows."

Already floated an attack on John Kerry, using his name (at the DNC, Bush's name was only used twice the entire time, once by Al Sharpton, once by John Kerry)--listing all the things he's on "the wrong side" of. Regulation, taxation, etc. "John Kerry, at his Boston tax party, promised to raise taxes on the job creators. Instead of throwing tea in the Boston harbor, John Kerry wants to throw the tax payers overboard." I mean, I agree with the general message here, but this rhetoric goes over like a week old dead fish. The crowd is not responding at all.

First response line: "Does anybody know where John Kerry stands on the war?" Audience: "NO!"

Jim Lehrer is surprised that Hastert used Kerry's name and adds, "That's all he spoke about the whole time."

Shields: The speech was only 6 paragraphs long, and he went after Kerry from the get-go.


 
RNC blogging - Day 1, Part 3
Written by: Beck

Looking at the speaker line up for tonight, I can begin to understand why the networks aren't carrying tonight at all. Apart from the last couple of speakers--Senator McCain and former Mayor Giuliani--the list is fantastically uninteresting. From CNN.com: Speakers to include actor Ron Silver, New Mexico Rep. Heather Wilson; former New York Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik, Sen. Lindsey Graham.

Ron Silver? Do you know who in hell Ron Silver is? I didn't until I looked him up. It would appear that his most significant roll involved a part on two seasons worth of Veronica's Closet, a serious contender in the running for worst sitcom ever.

Don't be too surprised if convention blogging is light until the two heavy weights at the end.


 
RNC blogging - Day 1, Part 2
Written by: Beck

Time for the political analysis of Mark Shields and David Brooks.

Shields: Iraq defines this election.

Brooks (paraphrased): The number of radicals participating in that march was striking. I don't know how much people can choose who they march with, but I know I wouldn't feel comfortable participating in a march that had a large contingent of fascists, for example. I think people seeing people like Michael Moore and others in that march will cause something of a backlash.

Shields: Giuliani was the closest thing we had in America to Winston Churchill after 9/11... John McCain holds a unique position in American politics. He's the only person to have lost an election and gone on to shape the next election. Both parties wanted him for a running mate.

McCain will be interviewed by Lehrer and company at the end of tonight's events.


 
RNC blogging - Day 1, Part 1
Written by: Beck

Watching the News Hour with Jim Lehrer now.

Great quote from Kerry Baker, a Florida delegate who served in Iraq, on the convention floor: "al-Sadr is kind of like President Bush's opponent. He says one thing one day and then does something else the next."

Update: Note to Republicans being interviewed: for the love of god, quit using the phrase, "Stay the course." It's reminiscent of Bush Sr., and we all know how well he did when seeking reelection. Furthermore, it constitutes a tacit acknowledgement of criticism that things aren't going well at the moment, which serves as an endorsement of the media-presented view of Iraq as a nightmarish quagmire. Instead, don't cede the high ground--don't simply cave to the NYT view of the world. Rather, respond that things ARE going well in Iraq. al-Sadr has been disarmed, Falujah has been pacified, schools are going up, elections are moving forward, Iraqi police and soldiers are being trained, basic services have returned. Furthermore, mass-murders, ethnic cleansing, and widespread government sponsored torture have been shut down. Think people!

Update: PBS is now interviewing various presidential historians. The topic: war-time reelection campaigns. "Stay the course" count: 2

Quoting Giuliani: "Conducting this convention without mentioning 9/11 would be like Abraham Lincoln not mentioning the Civil War."


 
The first Democratic speaker at the RNC
Written by: Beck

Former New York City mayor Ed Koch:
One of the first speakers was former New York Mayor Ed Koch, who asked rhetorically what was he doing at the Republican National Convention, when he'd been a Democrat his entire career.

"I'm here to convert you, but that's for the next election. This year I'm voting for the re-election of President George W. Bush!" Koch told the crowd, which cheered with approval.

Koch told CNN that he remains a Democrat but strongly supports Bush's actions in the war on terrorism.
More pre-prime time news here.


 
New York protest live blogging
Written by: Beck

Over at Right Thinking Girl. I hardly think this constitutes the "free expression of 1st amendment rights:"
Protesters have decided to exercise their "free speech" rights by filling bags and balloons with urine and lobbing them at policemen. This disgusting practice is going on westbound on 35th and Broadway. Stay clear.

In other protester news, the Bike Bloc is heading back to Union Station to regroup while a group calling themselves, "NO POLICE STATE" is knocking down barricades and attempting to penetrate the frozen zone around MSG.

In addition, there are groups that are passing out baskets of wirecutters and razor blades to cut the plastic Flexicuffs the police use to handcuff suspects under arrest. The subversive behavior is bad enough but when you equip thousands of protesters who refuse to police themselves with razor blades, that's a bad scene just waiting to happen.
Be sure to read through all the updates as well.

In other news, I'll be blogging the RNC for the next 4 days (and by live blogging, I mean watching TV and posting my comments--I'm not in New York). Be sure to check in during the prime-time hours to see what I have to say.


 
CNN should be registered as a 527 Group
Written by: Dave

In a recent article (see link at bottom) supposedly focused on Laura Bush's comments about the Swift Boat Veterans, CNN finds plenty of opportunities to make its opinions on the issue clear. Note this paragraph for instance:

"Several statements by the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth directly contradict the Navy record of events and in some cases their own previous statements. Other statements are more opinion than fact based."

Of course there is no mention of the fact that some of Kerry's comments now seem to "directly contradict" the actual record of events, such as his infamous Christmas in Cambodia.

Read the article and see how much bias they sneak in there, all the way up to the last sentence. I don't know why I am still shocked by the media's incredible bias, I really should be resigned to it now. I guess I would feel a lot better if CNN would register itself as a 527 Group supporting Kerry.


http://www.cnn.com/2004/ALLPOLITICS/08/29/kerry.firstlady/index.html


Sunday, August 29, 2004

 
Olympic final tally
Written by: Beck

Looks like we won.

USA brings in 103 medals total, including 35 golds. The only nations even close on the total medal count was Russia with 92 medals (27 gold) and China with 32 golds (but only 63 medals overall).


 
Correct me if I'm wrong here...
Written by: Beck

Shouldn't the anti-GOP protesters in New York City wait until the convention has actually started? I mean, 4 days is a long time to spend all day partying protesting, and you'll be exhausted by the end if you don't pace yourself a bit. And now, the sarcastic potshots:
Tens of thousands of demonstrators carrying signs and chanting "No More Bush" marched Sunday past Madison Square Garden, the site of this week's Republican National Convention.

The march was sponsored by United for Peace and Justice, a group opposed to the U.S.-led war in Iraq. Organizers had predicted as many as 250,000 demonstrators would take part.
I swear, protest/march leaders must have a special school they go to where they learn how to predict event turnout using some sort of... what's the word? Fantasy. That's it.
Many participants said they hoped a large crowd at Sunday's protest would send a message to the rest of the country.
Yes, that message being two-fold. 1) Stay the hell out of NYC for the next week, and 2) opposing Bush involves moonbats.
New York police have made "about 50" arrests, according to a law enforcement source.
Why do I get the feeling that number's going to go up in the next few days?
"We are the majority," filmmaker Michael Moore told the crowd.
Actually, Michael, you're large (and rich) enough to constitute a majority of one all on your own.
Leslie Cagan, national coordinator for United for Peace and Justice, said the message revolves around the word no.

"We are saying 'no' to the Bush agenda, 'no' to the war in Iraq, 'no' to the regime change by our government, 'no' to preemptive war, 'no' to the economic policies," Cagan said.
This should ring a bell for any & all parents out there. If there's one thing infants (and the infantile) master early on, it's angrily shouting, "No!" until they get their way.

One final question: why is it that there's never an anti-war protest where there isn't some no-tallent clownass playing bongos?


 
Some Useless Speculation: Kerry's Personality Type
Written by: Dave

What Myers-Briggs personality type do you think Kerry is? If you aren't familiar with Myers-Briggs you can go here http://www.myersbriggs.org/about_mbti/preferences.cfm

I would guess that he is an ESTP or an ISTP.

Why?

1. I don't really have a guess as to whether he is an E or an I.

2. I would say he is Sensing not Intuitive, because all his views seem to be a mish-mash of what he perceives to be most advantageous at the moment, and don't seem to be a big-picture, holistic, view. Then again, maybe he is just hiding his big-picture views.

3. I would say he is Thinking not Feeling, because all his actions seem so calculated, and he doesn't seem to understand the depths of feeling people may have for his actions (i.e. the Swift Boat Veterans).

4. I would say he is Percieving, not Judging, because he can't seem to make a firm decision and stick with it. He always seems to want to gather more information before coming out with a conclusive view.

I am most surprised by this last one though, because Kerry was in the military, and if the military should have left him with one stong Myers-Briggs trait, it would be Judging. From the very beginning in the military you are taught to quickly and decisively make decisions.

Maybe he's a natural P and the twenty-odd years dithering around in the Senate let him slide back into the P-mode.

I don't know, I am just guessing. What do you all think?


 
Irony be not proud
Written by: Beck

One presumes the Spanish thought they were buying protection from terrorists by voting into office the socialist anti-war candidate after the 3/11 Madrid train bombing. It must've been rather disillusioning then, when a further string of attempted terrorist attacks proceeded to transpire across the nation. At least this time, the terrorist were caught in time, and only a few policemen died.

One further presumes that France thought much the same thing--that their citizens would be immune to the various kidnappings & execution threats endemic to Iraq these days. Indeed, I recall one case very early on of a Frenchman being kidnapped who secured his freedom by convincing his captors he was French.

The French have made one fatal misunderstanding--while home-grown Iraqi nationalists may only care about ridding themselves of foreign occupation (i.e. the sort of people a Frenchman genuinely needn't fear), Islamofascists are not simply content that a nation's foreign policy be pro-Saddam and anti-Israel.

The Islamists will not be happy with getting rid of the foreign occupiers of Iraq. They will not be happy with driving all the infidels out of the holy land (which seems to constitute pretty much anywhere on the planet with > 50% Muslim population, regardless of how those Muslims feel about the West). They will not be happy with the destruction of Israel. They will not be happy with unfettered access to nuclear technology. Are you starting to detect a theme? Islamists--as exemplified by everyone from the xenophobic al-Qaeda of Osama, to the Islamofascist Iranian Ayatollahs, to the Saudi-backed Wahabi sect of Islam--will not be happy until the entire globe is covered by one world-girdling Islamic state.

That state, incidentally, will look like Taliban controlled Afghanistan. The technology will be the sort of bizarre combination of left over 20th century manufactured left-overs and stone age improvisations seen in post-apocalyptic movies like Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. Women will be neither seen nor heard, and life expectancies will be somewhere in the 30s.

No, I don't actually think this world will come to pass. I don't think we'll ever get close, since I'm fairly certain people will come to their senses sometime around the time that Tehran nukes Tel Aviv.

My whole point was that the French (though they're definitely not the only ones--they're just the worst) completely and utterly fail to realize what it is the Western world confronts. An ominous portent of what's to follow:
An Iraqi militant group has kidnapped two Frenchmen and given the French government 48 hours to end a ban on Muslim headscarves, Arabic television station Al Jazeera said on Saturday.

The channel aired a brief video showing two men standing in front of a black banner bearing the name of the Islamic Army in Iraq. One man told the camera: "I would like to tell my family that everything is OK."
Yep. Headscarves. Real macro there. Sorry, France, but they won't be satisfied no matter what you do. They will only be happy when you nullify the French Republic and declare strict Sharia law. And expel or kill your Jews of course. And anyone who's not a monotheist. Oh, and everyone else too. To borrow from an Egyptian proverb (which I may have mentioned before), once our enemy knew that they could steal our goose, they knew they did not need to fear us at all. OK, it sounds silly out of context, but trust me, it's stunningly apt. Direct your thanks to Spain and the Philippines.


 
Today's game: name that animal!
Written by: Beck

Today, we play the newest game at INCITE: What small furry scavenger does Iraqi "cleric" Muqtada al-Sadr most closely resemble?

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Feel free to use the following NYT excerpt for inspiration:
It was near midnight Thursday, and the 50-odd reporters following the fighting here were hustled from their hotel by the local police and gathered for a press conference in the courtyard of a home where the Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the country most powerful Shiite leader, was staying.

Just as one of Ayatollah Sistani's aides stood to announce that a peace deal had been struck, Mr. Sadr, the man most responsible for the bloodshed, scurried out the front door, across the lawn and into the street.

And then he was gone.
And now, for the choices:

A) a rat
B) mouse
C) ferret
D) weasel
E) aquatic marmot (for the Big Lebowski fans in the audience)
F) badger

Once again the question is "What small furry scavenger does Iraqi "cleric" Muqtada al-Sadr most closely resemble?" Try not to be distracted by the fact that his followers all so clearly resemble lemmings.

And the answer? There is no correct answer. Or rather, all the answers are correct in their own way. The guy's a shithead. A total hammer-pickle. And we haven't heard the last of him either.

(Hat tip: The Politburo Diktat)


 
Media Bias Watch: False Headlines edition
Written by: Beck

Reuters headline: Now It's Official: Economy Shrunk

Story: "U.S. gross domestic product -- which measures total output within the nation's borders -- expanded at a 2.8 percent annual rate in the second quarter to $10.8 trillion, down from the 3.0 percent pace estimated last month by the Commerce Department."

Translation: the economy is still growing, just not as fast as last month, therefore we will say that it shrunk, because in Reuters-land, growing=shrunk.

Proposed new motto: Reuters, making the case for stricter drug laws with each new day.

(Hat tip: Wizbang)


 
Pro-war Libertarians?
Written by: Beck

The phrase "Libertarian foreign policy" should be recognized, but generally is not, as an oxymoron. As a regular reader of the libertarian blog Samizdata, I've been consistently (and pleasantly) surprised at the extent to which they seem to support the American & British invasion of Iraq.

Strict Libertarian (both big 'L' and small) orthodoxy opposes all forms of initiating force against others, whether internal to the state or externally. The only form of war justified under strict libertarianism is the defensive variety.

The problem is that libertarianism is basically an abstraction derived from idealistic first principles about individuality and human behavior. One could fairly accurately sum up Libertarian philosophy as, "No one has the right to infringe the free exercise & pursuit of life, liberty, and property of another individual." In other words, do whatever you want so long as you don't interfere with anyone else's rights, those rights being life, liberty, and property.

The problem here is two fold. First of all, it fails to recognize the extent to which human nature is brutish and nasty. Still, I believe you can make a strong case for a libertarian-leaning state which takes into account people's innate inclination to take "short cuts." That's a discussion for another time.

When it comes to foreign policy, however, there is really very little that Libertarian idealism can do to instruct, guide, define, or explain international relations or interactions. States and their leaders, quite simply, do not behave like individuals interacting in an anarcho-capitalist marketplace. A strictly Libertarian foreign policy consists of strict isolationism. Many Libertarians would argue that the United States should never have become involved in either WWI or WWII (the assumption being that had the USA never embargoed Japanese oil imports, Pearl Harbor never would have happened). I won't bother to take the time to explain why those arguments are exceptionally foolish.

Now, back to where I started--Samizdata has frequently surprised me with their pro-war outlook. This strikes me as the proper and rational way to apply libertarian basic principles to a real life understanding of human nature. Jonathan Pearce has a post in which he discusses this very topic, which is the entire reason I've written the preceding paragraphs. That's right, you slogged through all the above so that I could say, "I agree with Jonathan Pearce." And now, what he says that I find so agreeable:
A smart and thought-provoking blogger I have recently come across, Perry Metzger, who seems to hail from the anarcho-capitalist bit of the libertarian intellectual universe, does not like the way this blog has supported the military ouster of Saddam Hussein...

Metzger asks how it is that folk who are so ardently opposed to the State can possibly countenance the use of force, including appropriation of wealth via taxation, to topple another regime deemed to be dangerous. Well, it is actually quite easy to answer that question in my view. First of all, not all libertarians believe a free society can exist without a minimal state, including one with the ability to provide external and internal security, which may include the need to take out violent and hostile foreign regimes.

Second, the supposedly sacred libertarian principle that thou shalt not initiate force against another is not very useful when it comes to judging whether regime X or Y poses your country a particular threat or not, and whether action of a Bush-style pre-emptive sort is justified and perhaps even more important, whether it is prudent. Good people will and do differ a lot about that.

Such disagreements cannot in my view be arbitrated solely by referring to abstract moral principles--although principles are of course crucial--but have to be also judged on events, by weighing up the possible consequences of an action or taking no action. In fact, taking no action and adopting a purely reactive approach to defense will also have consequences, not all of them necessarily good ones...
Couldn't have said it better myself.


 
Stoopid
Written by: Beck

There are one of two possible conclusions you can draw from this story.

1) The people at Harper's Magazine can see the future, or
2) Any self-respecting human being should cancel their subscription to Harper's.

Unless, of course, you just enjoy having your intelligence insulted, in which case, buy yourself a second subscription to really drive the point home.


Saturday, August 28, 2004

 
New York City!?!
Written by: Dave

Do you remember the Pace Picante Sauce commercials where the cowboys would be sitting around the campfire eating their dinner and would start complaining about the picante? After one cowboy discovers that Cook has fed them picante sauce bottled in New York, they would all shout out in shock and disbelief - "New York City?!!".

Well if you do remember those commercials, that's sort of how I felt when I first learned that the RNC planned to have its convention in NYC.

Now don't get me wrong. I LOVE New York City. Some of my best memories are from the city. I also understand the tremendous symbolic value of staging the RNC in the city that suffered the most from the terror attacks.

On the other hand, I don't think conventions should be risky affairs. By holding the convention in New York City, the GOP has:

a) picked the city with the largest home grown base of violent protesters
b) picked a city located in the middle of the largest regional concentration of Bush haters (in close competition with the Left Coast)
c) picked a city whose compact nature makes it difficult to cordon off the convention and its related activities from the remainder of the city

It seems like the GOP is begging for a large scale violent confrontation. Not that that would necessarily be a bad thing politically. It might be good for the American people to be reminded of the violence, hatred, and anti-Americanism of those who hate Bush the most. This might be especially true when it would be the anti-Bush protesters versus the admired NYPD. But I still don't think the GOP should pick a location that almost assures large scale violence, especially if it means some of those NYPD officers are going to get hurt also.

Now some might say that the GOP shouldn't let themselves be cowed by the violence of the protesters. There is definitely a good deal of truth in that. But as I said earlier, conventions shouldn't be risky affairs, and by having the convention in New York, the GOP has assured that the success of the convention will be partially determined by events outside of their control. It has also picked a location where the general populace just won't be that welcoming. That doesn't seem smart, regardless of the principles involved.

Hopefully it will turn out for the best, but as far as I am concerned, it would have made a lot more sense to play it safe and have the convention in Ohio or Florida.





 
Damning
Written by: Beck

Not that stories like this seem to make a lick of difference, but it would appear that John "I volunteered for service because it was the right thing to do" Kerry actually attempted to defer service in Vietnam with the draft board prior to enlisting.

For those not old enough to remember Vietnam (like myself), let me explain to you how things worked back then. Through reading history books and conversations with my father who went through a similar process as Kerry, I have a pretty good grasp on the way things operated at the time.

For starters, if you were the right age & physically qualified, you could virtually count on being drafted. As such, you had several options. First, you could attempt an outright dodge--anything from getting braces to finding a doctor who would lie about your physical condition to render you 4-F (i.e. physically unfit to serve). Second, you could seek a deferment--the most common excuse being the pursuit of further education (the route my father unsuccessfully attempted, along with, it appears, Kerry). Third, you could just enlist, thereby securing the privilege of choosing your field (which, ultimately, my father, and also Kerry, chose). Fourth, you could do nothing and just get drafted.

Kerry's repeated argument as to his quality as an American relative to Bush was that he enlisted outright, without being coerced into serving via the draft. Bush, on the other hand, opted for a risky form of dodging by going into the national guard. Now, assuming this article in The Telegraph is accurate, it would seem that Kerry in fact first opted for a deferment.
Senator John Kerry, the presumed Democratic presidential candidate who is trading on his Vietnam war record to campaign against President George W Bush, tried to defer his military service for a year, according to a newly rediscovered article in a Harvard University newspaper.

He wrote to his local recruitment board seeking permission to spend a further 12 months studying in Paris, after completing his degree course at Yale University in the mid-1960s.

The revelation appears to undercut Sen Kerry's carefully-cultivated image as a man who willingly served his country in a dangerous war - in supposed contrast to President Bush, who served in the Texas National Guard and thus avoided being sent to Vietnam.

The Harvard Crimson newspaper followed a youthful Mr Kerry in Boston as he campaigned for Congress for the first time in 1970. In the course of a lengthy article, "John Kerry: A Navy Dove Runs for Congress", published on February 18, the paper reported: "When he approached his draft board for permission to study for a year in Paris, the draft board refused and Kerry decided to enlist in the Navy."
As stories like this continue to not receive mainstream reporting, I can't help but think of the little Dutch boy trying to plug holes in the dike. At some point, Big Media will realize that so many holes have been punched in Kerry's finely-cultivated image that they can no longer damn the onrush of factual evidence. I personally haven't read the 1970 back issues of the Harvard Crimson, but I have no reason to believe that the story is false. It just adds to the pile of contradictions that make up the man John Kerry.

(Hat tip: Ace-o-Spades)


 
Negotiated suicide
Written by: Beck

I share the concerns about the precedents set in the negotiated withdrawal from the Imam Ali mosque of the Mehdi army & al-Sadr expressed by Dave in an earlier post. My misgivings only increased upon reading the latest headline at CNN.com: Al-Sadr militiamen swap prisoners with Iraq.

The thing is, under the negotiated settlement with the Mehdi Army & al-Sadr, the insurgents have given up their arms in exchange for political recognition. As such, it logically follows that the two sides would release their prisoners. Just because a former militiaman had the poor judgment to be captured and imprisoned doesn't make him any less a member of the militia. And if the militia has morphed into a political party, keeping them behind bars would be a form of political imprisonment. Releasing them, thus, is the next logical step.

So why does that one little step make me so damned nervous?


 
More counter-intuitive wisdom from Chris
Written by: Beck

It's important to learn from history. History is in the past, it's important to move on. Both of these statements hold true. It all makes sense once put in perspective over at man-sized target.
While the extreme leftist position, which held the American soldiers, government, and the country as a whole jointly responsible for the war faded in recent years, a replacement view that the soldiers fought honorably in a hopeless cause replaced it. This latter view permitted reconciliation between veterans and their society, without requiring an endless debate on the hypothetical prospects of victory. Even so, competing views of the nobility of the cause existed up to the present that did not mesh directly along political lines. Especially those not alive at the time, maintained the war was winnable and was lost for lack of will. Others said it should never have been fought. But the recriminations of veterans largely disappeared . . . to our collective benefit.

History is not a linear thing. Old wounds can reemerge years, decades, even centuries later at the slightest provocation. For Serbs, the 14th Century Battle of Kosovo might have easily happened yesterday. For blacks, the sins of slavery remain more prominent today, even though no slaves are present within living memory and institutionalized racism of "Jim Crow" largely disappeared in the mid-1960s.

The problem with certain "lessons of history," is that they become an albatross for contemporaries, preventing reconciliation and progress, requiring old fights to be refought under the logic of the vendetta. The lives of Palestinians and Israelis, most prominently, remain intertwined by these kinds of equally vital conceptions of history, which fuel an identity of victimhood.
Read it all, as a man says.


 
The latest Swift Boat Vets ad
Written by: Beck

It's nothing ground breaking, but here it is if you're curious to see the third entry into their series of anti-Kerry ads.


Friday, August 27, 2004

 
Another one bites the dust
Written by: Beck

Looks like the heat got to be too much for Iraq stationed American soldier/blogger CB over at Fear & Loathing in Iraq. Which really sucks. Another addition to the elephant graveyard. He even seems to have felt compelled to delete his archives.

I got a capture of the cache from google if anyone would like it.


 
Losing Iraq, One Victory at a Time
Written by: Dave

I am afraid that the peace deals brokered in Fallujah and now in Najaf have set a very bad precedent for Iraq, one that could have very negative consequences for our overall efforts in the country. Indeed, I believe that our enemies' tactical defeats have been transformed into moral victories.

Consider the situation in Najaf. Al Sadr knew exactly what he was doing when he agreed to this peace deal. He is now the "liberator" of Najaf, Kufa, and the Shrine. Despite the tremendous damage done to the Mehdi Army, al Sadr can now claim to have driven out the Americans from the holy sites. The tremendous scope of this accomplishment will certainly impress Iraqis, including even the large majority of Iraqis who despise him and would much rather be "occupied" by the U.S. Army than the Mehdi Army.

Hopefully the Mehdi Army and al Sadr have been crushed both mentally and physically by the fighting. But now that we have created this tremendous incentive to attack U.S. and Iraqi security forces, how long will it be before al Sadr or some other miscreant tries to "liberate" another area of Iraq?

In the Shiite south, I think the answer largely depends on how fast Iran can build up a new credible insurgent force. In the Sunni triangle, it may come sooner. I have heard reports that the terrorists and insurgents there are planning to replicate Fallujah in Ramadi. I have also noticed that many of the casualties lately are coming from the Anbar province, where Ramadi is located. Al Sadr's moral victory might be just the incentive they need to force another big showdown.

If that is true, I hope that the Iraqi government can stand their ground the next time. It might be easier for them to do that in the Sunni Triangle because there is no figure with the prestige of al Sistani who could force the Iraqi government into accepting another unfavorable settlement. But if the Iraqi government doesn't stand their ground, and instead forces coalition soldiers to leave an Iraqi city for the third time, then we will truly be in trouble.


Thursday, August 26, 2004

 
Where do they get these names?
Written by: Goemagog

Transnistria has brought the wrath of American and EU officials upon itself by violating the International Accord on the Proliferation of Silly Names. Well, that and it's started a Russian-backed ethnic cleansing program. No word on a potential alliance with South Ossetia.

Goe, thinks geopolitics has entered the land of make-believe.


 
Watch Kerry's April 22, 1971 Testimony
Written by: Speculator

At 8PM EDT tonight, C-SPAN will run, in its entirety and without interruption, Kerry's testimony before The Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Watch and listen as the cabeza de grande spews forth such claptrap as

"I think there will be guerrilla wars and I think we must have a capability
to fight those. And we may have to fight them somewhere based on legitimate
threats, but we must learn, in this country, how to define those threats and
that is what I would say to the question of world peace. I think it is bogus,
totally artificial. There is no threat. The Communists are not about to take
over our McDonald hamburger stands."



 
Johnny Letter Writer strikes again
Written by: Beck

You remember the Saturday Night Life skit, right?

Anyway, the Kerry campaign, not to be mistaken for the Not-Ready-for-Primetime Players despite numerous similarities, have engaged in a vicious... letter delivery. Things have reached such a level of high farce that I just have to laugh, despite how sad it all is.

I wonder how the strategy session went. I mean, at some point, someone actually said, "Hey, let's try to make Bush look bad by writing a nasty letter to him demanding he stop being such a rat bastard. We can have that one armed guy deliver it personally." And then someone presumably said, "Hey, that's a great idea. Let's go with that."

Sadly, Cleland was unable to accomplish his mission--which was presumably anticipated--so instead he just put on an entertaining show for the gathered media. They just love his Adam Sandler homage, "I'm Crazy One-limbed Veteran Man, now won't you give me some candy?" routine.
Patterson said Bush had asked him to accept the letter from Cleland. But the Georgia Democrat refused to hand it over. Instead, he said he wanted to deliver the letter personally to Bush or, barring that, to a member of the Secret Service. When he succeeded at neither, Cleland took the message to the news media.

"These scurrilous attacks on John Kerry's credibility in war, courage and valor are false and George Bush is behind it," he said. "That's why I tried to deliver a letter to the president's home and hand it either to him or one of his aides."

The letter was signed by nine members of the U.S. Senate, all of them veterans, including a Medal of Honor recipient.
The full text of the letter can be found here.

Update: Evidently I'm not the only one who finds this entire pathetic episode vastly entertaining. More laugh-until-you-cry-until-you-laugh-again material here, here, here, here, and here. For a more serious take on the whole matter, see Soxblog.


 
You knew it had to come to this eventually...
Written by: Beck

Virtual porn to appear in October's edition of Playboy. I guess Heff has decided it's time to reach a different demographic. Either that, or he had the sudden realization that there's a correlation between video game playing and pornography consumption. Not that I would know. And no, Lara Croft will not be featured. Sorry to disappoint.


Wednesday, August 25, 2004

 
Strategic Censorship
Written by: Beck

First, ask yourself this question: who are the two most popular Republican politicians right now? If you answered, "John McCain and Rudy Giuliani," you get a gold star!

Now, ask yourself another question: what two speakers at the upcoming Republican National Convention are the three major networks not planning on televising? If you gave the same answer, you win not only a gold star, but also the coveted Smiley Face Sticker of Achievement!

I feared something like this when the networks didn't carry Day 2 of the DNC. Thanks to equal time rules, the networks must carry the same amount of coverage for both political conventions. By jettisoning what was expected to be the least interesting day of the DNC (no one had anticipated the fantastic keynote speech by Barack Obama), the networks can now selectively pick & choose which RNC speakers they'll cover. What a surprise--it now falls to bloggers to provide coverage of the speeches. Well, bloggers, and cable news. But who watches cable news?

(Hat tip: Aaron's Rantblog)


 
Interview with Neal Stephenson
Written by: Beck

One of the best SF writers working today, Neil Stephenson, was recently interviewed by Locus. You can read the interview here. He tends to be somewhat reclusive and went into virtual hiding while working on the Baroque Cycle (the third book of which comes out, I believe, in September. He has some intriguing ideas on writing, and the interview is definitely worth perusal. And don't worry--the article is spoiler-free.

(Hat tip: Instapundit)


 
Why I like Bob Costas
Written by: Beck

Commenting on Greco-Roman wrestling, and I paraphrase, "Well, good for [American wrestler] Rulan. But what's with a sport where the referee where's a coat and tie? Did he get lost on the way to the dog show? [Looks off stage, looks back at the camera]. I'm just asking."


 
ChiCom's say that Americans are big meanie-heads!
Written by: Goemagog

China thinks we're bad people.

The article said the judicial system in the U.S. is extremely unfair, with the death penalty exercised in 38 states.


China executes people for being against corruption.

The article said that U.S. democracy and elections are "a rich man's game," as money in the bank often translates into victory at the polls.


Unlike China, where the winners are selected by the party before the elections are even announced.

Under the pretext of safeguarding this kind of democracy, the United States continues to make rash criticisms of other countries and interferes in their internal affairs.


China may consider starving millions of people to death to be a human right, but I think I'm going to have to just disagree.

Goe, still hates France.


Tuesday, August 24, 2004

 
Bad Omens
Written by: Goemagog

Two planes disappear at almost the same time.


UPDATE: (everybody else does updates, why can't I?)
Reports that first plane exploded before hitting the ground. The second "broke up in the air". second plane sent signal indicating attack (read "hijacking").


Goe, thinks this will cause problems for Putin.


 
Nothing above the line.
Written by: Goemagog

North Korea blows a bunch of hot air before negotiations.

"Now that the U.S. has clearly revealed its true intention, the DPRK can no longer pin any hope on the six-party talks and there is a question as to whether there is any need for it to negotiate with the U.S. any more," KCNA said.


They might be on to something. What exactly are we negotiating for? A return of the Daffy Duck collection?

Supposedly, we're trying to talk them out of acquiring nuclear weapons, which would be akin to talking Sauron out of wanting the one ring back, or talking Beck out of free online porn. It's just not going to happen, they'll just stall us for time while trying to get their respective 'precious'. The really stupid part is that we believe North Korea already has nuclear weapons, maybe a few dozen of them. So we're trying to talk North Korea into not making something it already has. We've been offering them other stuff to try to distract them ("Look at the way Daffy's eyes bug out!") and they've accepted this. Then they told us that they were lying and that they will nuke us if we don't keep giving them money, oil, and food. So we ask for more negotiations so we can talk them out of trying to get nukes.

We haven't anything to discuss with North Korea. They are a miserable little shithole with nuclear weapons and we're a wealthy superpower with nuclear weapons and abundant online porn. A conversation with them could be polite but North Korea has made it clear that they will continue to arm themselves with nuclear weapons. This means that any discussion, polite or not, will be meaningless to our stated goals.

The obvious conclusion would be that we're wasting our time. I believe that the stated goals are not the actual goals of our current administration. We've begun offering them the same things we were giving them when they were deceiving us. It would seem that North Korea is using it's nuclear arsenal to extort money, oil, and food. Mutually-assured destruction won't deter anybody while our president is afraid that our enemies might get hurt.

Barring mushroom clouds or Chinese intervention, it's likely that North Korea's offensive capability will continue to outgrow out defensive capability. The Chinese will do nothing to hinder North Korea so long as North Korea remains obedient. A "rogue" nuclear state threatening the U.S. and several allies will be a useful thing to have when China invades Taiwan.

Goe, thinks the future doesn't bode well for the free-world.


 
Marketing Myopia
Written by: Beck

I just had a business school flashback. And I have a point to make. A good one. Really. But you're going to have to bear with me. Hopefully you can keep up. Trust me--it's worth it.

One of the single most important works ever in modern management literature is a paper titled "Marketing Myopia," by Theodore Levitt. He had an amazing revelation--revolutionary at the time. Put quite simply, most companies have no idea what business they're in.

His classic example is the railroad industry. The railroads revolutionized the world when they began crisscrossing industrialized nations in the 19th century. Without them, the industrial revolution wouldn't have been possible. Today, railroads are an anachronism. They still exist, but it's mostly inertia that keeps them alive. You see, the railroad companies made the fatal mistake of thinking they were in the railroad business. The fools! They should have realized that they're in the transportation business. So when a combination of trucking and air transport began to transform the way people travel and ship goods in the 20th century, the railroads were left behind. They could have kept up, but they didn't. There are still nations on earth where the railroads carry the lion's share of the transportation work. But in the United States, they became dinosaurs--because they didn't realize what business they were in.

Anyway, a random bit of web surfing lead me to the blog Final Protective Fire, who observed that the blog Captain's Quarters has had the best coverage on politics to be found anywhere on the planet these days (not exactly his words, but those were thoughts I'd been having, and Robin's commentary helped me pull it all together). And he's right. No one has covered the stories which mainstream media refuses to touch with a ten foot pole more closely than Captain Ed. He's had at least 20 posts on the Swift Boat Vets alone, and none of them are of the passionate-empty-rhetoric variety. It's all hard facts and calm, intelligent analysis.

And that's what made me think of that old paper from the Harvard Business Review. Marketing Myopia has assaulted the Democratic party.

The New York Times, Time Magazine, NBC, Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, Captain's Quarters... they're not in the news paper business, the magazine business, the broadcast news business, the cable news business, the talk radio business, or the blog business. They're in the information business. Only most of them don't seem to realize it.

Think about the "Republican Revolution" of 1994. It couldn't have happened without Rush Limbaugh. You see, most people don't have a subscription to National Review magazine. Fox News didn't exist back then. The internet existed, but it was just a hint--a twinkle in ARPANET's eyes--and you had to use Mosaic or Lynx to surf it. You could still get news-a-plenty, but you had to turn to one of the majors. You had to read the New York Times, or subscribe to Newsweek, or watch CBS Nightly News with Dan Rather. And people had a growing awareness that those sources weren't presenting unbiased information; instead, they were presenting events as they wished to perceive them--they sought to force reality to bend to their will. They had an agenda, and the means to achieve it.

So people turned on their radios. And they heard Rush Limbaugh. He's far from an ideal person. He doesn't have a college degree. He's an obnoxious fat blow hard. But he was the only alternative to the mainstream media establishment when it came to obtaining information. He hammered on the stories no one else would cover, he brought up themes that people were thinking but hadn't heard expressed, he rejuvenated debate in America, and that fat dumb man changed the modern face of politics.

Ten years later, the Democrats have finally found a talk-radio outlet of their own: Air America. And it's a joke. Its ratings are horrific. It's most famous anchors, while (allegedly) funny at some point in their careers, are inexperienced and unpolished when it comes to the talk radio format. And they're doomed to failure. Why are they doomed to failure? Because of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy? Because Democrats can't do funny? Because only rednecks and conservative nuts listen to radios anymore? No. They're doomed to failure because they think they're in the talk radio business. They're not. They're in the information business. And until they find a way to effectively and intelligently provide Americans with logically organized information with well reasoned analysis, they're going to continue to get the crap beaten out of them.

Which brings us to Captain's Quarters. It started out as just another humble blog. It's still the same blog it was six months ago, the only difference is that its readership requires five digits to express. It's not because blogs are the wave of the future. It's not because the internet is the next big thing. It's because they (Captain Ed and the First Mate) provide a necessary service in one of the oldest businesses out there--information. And they're very, very good at it.

Anyone can be good at it. Take oil companies. They're not in the oil business. They're in the energy business. Conoco recognizes this. They're involved in crude exploration, production, shipping, and refining. They're involved in natural gas extraction and marketing. They're involved in electricity generation and distribution. They're an energy company, and they're very, very good at it. Because they know what business they're in. If we wake up tomorrow to learn that some new scientific discovery has rendered gasoline obsolete, Conoco will be involved in whatever that new technology is, because while the world might not need gasoline to survive, the very heart of an industrialized civiliazation is energy.

The New York Times will be a footnote of journalistic history in twenty years if they don't figure out what business they're in. The same goes for magazines, television news shows, radio programs, and yes, web sites, unless they understand what value it is they provide--what business it is they're really in. And right now, most of them clearly haven't got a clue.


 
Nature abhors a vacuum
Written by: Beck

When the mainstream media fails to cover a story, it falls to amateur sleuths (also known as bloggers) to uncover the real story. Internet detective work is nothing especially new, but I must say, I didn't think it was possible to assemble eight pages worth of source material and analysis over a single military event. But it doesn't surprise me that if someone could do it, it would be GT of Bastard Sword.

The event in question is the event which lead to Kerry receiving his third purple heart & his bronze star. Here, I'll give you just a taste:
They say that the burden of proof is on the accuser, but I'd say the burden of proof is on the one with the wildly improbable account. And the shame of this whole thing is that if Kerry hadn't been out trumpeting his heroism nobody would've said a thing. About this or any other incident he could've easily said "I have no idea why they gave me the Bronze Star, never did. They were handing them out like lollipops over there, and I think that's wrong. I never felt I deserved the Silver Star, but apparently the Navy did, and so I guess I have to accept that." He'd still have his medals, the full credit that such medals normally come with, and people would've thought even more of him for minimizing his heroism, showing what a true hero he must've been off in those jungles. But no… That's not the John Kerry we're stuck with.
For the rest, you'll have to go there and read it yourself.


 
More on 527s
Written by: Beck

Bush has received a fair amount of criticism for alleged ties to the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth 527 group. No attention has been paid to Kerry campaign ties to various 527 organizations. Well now you can see them for yourself.

(Hat tip: B4B)


 
Mixed blessing
Written by: Beck

Well, Bush finally gave the Kerry campaign what they asked for. Bush expressed disapproval for the Swift Boat Vets ad. Naturally, things weren't as straightforward as that. Bush called for an end to all 527 ads. And I'm going to have to disagree with him on this one.

I think McCain-Feingold was a big mistake because of the extent to which it limits free speech. Bush opposes 527s for a fairly obvious political reason--the Democrats are beating the pants off of the Republicans when it comes to 527 fund raising. Outlawing all 3rd party political television ads simply serves to outlaw a form of expression. If you have the money (or can raise the money) to put an ad on TV, then so long as the station is willing to carry the ad, there should be no legislation to prevent it. I think that's a pretty straightforward first amendment conclusion to draw.

For a great breakdown of 527 financing, see NZ Bear's analysis of the situation. For the record, Mr. Bear thinks Bush's move is a fantastic one.


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