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November 07, 2007

Between a rock and a hard place in Pakistan

For the past couple of days I've been trying to work out what I feel about what's happening in Pakistan. Despite Musharraf's claims that the martial law he's declared is to fight Islamist extremists, it's pretty clear the ultimate goal is to hold on to power. The elections in January weren't looking good for him, so he's decided (or will decide, actually) to postpone them. He's a dictator. He should go.

Yeeeaaaahhhh... but...

Pakistan is a tinderbox. The democratic institutions there are pretty weak already, and they operate only because the military allows them to. The country has been invaded by Wahhabi massadras that have introduced large parts of the population to the pleasures of paranoia and fanaticism. The military is infested with Islamist sympathizers who -- so far, anyways -- have been held in check by Musharraf. If Benazir Bhutto got into power, the country would explode.

Maybe. Or maybe it's going to happen anyway. I dunno.

Most of the world's press has come down against Musharraf, so you've probably heard that side of the argument. But David Warren dares to argue for him, so have a listen to the other side.

Down goes the US dollar

Everyone in Canada is talking about the rapid rise of the Loonie (past US$1.10 today!), but the real story is the crashing of the US dollar. Over the past year the Buck has lost over 12% of its value compared to a trade-weighted basket of currencies:

When this change in the dollar value is taken in to account, the S&P 500 has actually lost 3.4% over the past year, and gold has only increased by 16%. Beyond that, the value of all the assets listed on all US balance sheets, both corporate and individual, have been reduced significantly over the last year. If you add in the hit to the foreign holders of US debt, this has probably been the largest destruction of wealth in history. And it's not over yet...

October 30, 2007

Don't forget the ponies, John

Down in the States, John Edwards has big plans:

Edwards, a former Democratic senator from North Carolina, says the federal government should underwrite universal pre-kindergarten, create matching savings accounts for low-income people, mandate a minimum wage of $9.50 and provide a million new Section 8 housing vouchers for the poor. He also pledged to start a government-funded public higher education program called "College for Everyone."
He is also claiming magical powers:
Like other Democrats, Edwards named his top three priorities as ending the war in Iraq, enacting universal health care and overhauling the American energy system. "Those are three things instantly I would do," he said.
So far he's said nothing about the ponies. But there's still many weeks of campaigning to go...

October 29, 2007

Modern Diplomacy

In the Star today, former diplomat Harry Sterling has some advice for Stephen Harper on the delicate art of international relations:

Leaders of governments who confuse their own personal viewpoints with those of their countries' national interests can cause unwelcome and even dangerous consequences for their fellow countrymen.
In particular, Sterling feels Harper's stubborn insistence on meeting whomever he wants is very provocative and insensitive to our Chinese friends:
Harper will meet the Dalai Lama openly with the media in attendance. The forthcoming encounter has already been criticized by the Chinese authorities as interference in China's internal affairs.

Beijing's unhappiness with Harper's meeting the Dalai Lama is thus not unexpected. Nor is China's growing displeasure with the pro-Taiwan stance of many prominent members of Harper's Conservative party.

Although Members of Parliament have as much right as anyone else to be favourably disposed towards the Dalai Lama – or Taiwan for that matter – totally ignoring the possible negative trade fallout is another matter, especially since China is now Canada's fourth-largest export market.

As much as some would praise Harper for standing up for his principles in such cases, others see such actions as potentially undermining important national interests, a concern that even the Canadian business community has voiced in the past.

Certainly this is very good advice. Maintaining good relations with our trading partners should be the primary goal of our foreign policy. So what if the Chinese openly support the brutal regimes in Sudan, Myanmar, North Korea, and Zimbabwe? And so what if they're pretty brutal themselves? Requiring our Prime Minister to consult with an oppressive foreign government on what he can say or who he can meet with is a small price to pay to avoid any risk to the supply of merchandise for our dollar stores.

And Sterling has more advice:

The fact Harper has remained remarkably silent about the violation of international law and human rights covenants by the Bush administration – President George W. Bush countenancing practices considered torture – has only reinforced the view of those who regard his support for human rights and religious freedoms as highly selective. As well, Harper seems indifferent to the imprisonment at the notorious U.S. prison at Guantanamo, Cuba, of Canadian teenager Omar Khadr, incarcerated since July 2002 when he was captured at the age of 15 in Afghanistan.
Wait... huh?

October 26, 2007

On the other hand...

I've praised Flaherty's laissez-faire attitude towards the dollar discrepancy issue because it's the right approach. Change happens when people demand better; it's not up to the government.

And things are starting to change. The Collected Works bookstore in Ottawa is allowing their customers to pay the US price on items with both prices marked (hat tip: Kateland). I've never been there, but I'll have to take a look the next time I'm in the area. Dell.ca is now showing prices in line with their American parent. Companies that have been slow to adapt (like Chapters) have been deluged with complaints. Meetings are being held, buyers are being harangued, and slowly, slowly, more progress will happen.

But the government shouldn't be smug about this. Government is the main reason people in Canada pay more than Americans, and why we will continue to pay more, even after the currency fluctuations have been accounted for.

The Conservatives still stand by the policy of 'supply management' for many agricultural products -- controlling supply by allowing only so many 'rights' to produce, while preventing any imports -- which has the effect of driving prices up considerably. The ironic thing is that the supposed 'reason' for this scheme is to maintain a vibrant agricultural sector. But what it does is decrease new investment and innovation, block new entrants to the business, and lower yields and consumer consumption.

Government standards on many products effectively prevent imports or allow them only through licensed middlemen. A couple of days ago I read the story of a man who found all the appliances for his new house in the US at half the price of what they were selling for here. He thought he had a great deal: his warranties would still be honoured and after paying the duty he would still be far ahead. But then he was informed that because these new appliances were not CSA approved, he would not qualify for house insurance -- even though they were exactly the same make as what he could buy in Canada! I was never a fan on the EU merging their currencies, but I did think it was smart that they merged their various standards on all products, painful as it no doubt was. These standards often operate as de facto trade barriers, while offering governments indignant deniability. "Lower our standards? Would you risk the lives of your children to save a few dollars?"

The government also prevents competition in alcoholic products. Living near the border with Ontario, I have the luxury of choosing from two expensive and unresponsive monopolies (neither of which will carry Laphroaig) but other Canadians aren't that lucky. And in many other markets, such as mobile phones and banking, the government restricts the foreign competitors that would force the incumbants to lower prices.

But probably the biggest reason Canadians pay more is just the border. It takes a long time to cross, a long time to cross back, and long waiting periods before you can bring back anything that would make the trip worthwhile. If Flaherty really wants to see Canadian retailers get competitive, work to make the border crossings more streamlined, and eliminate all those restrictions on foreign purchases. Canadian businesses could adapt or die.

There's about as much chance of that happening as Elizabeth May becoming Prime Minister. In fact, I'll bet that the next 'mini-budget' to come out will offer compensation to those poor Canadian businesses that are losing money to customers going to the States. And you can expect border hassles to actually increase. That's how this country works; the consumer is the least important part of the economy.

October 10, 2007

The United States of Fear

It's a pretty lazy blogger that just cuts and pastes something he read somewhere else. But then again, all the kids are doing it, so here goes. I got quite a chuckle out of this, from Best of the Web Today:

Tales of terror from the New York Times (penultimate letter):
To the Editor:

The United States, once a close ally, is now a country to be feared. The interrogation methods President Bush acknowledges to exist are undoubtedly torture, no matter how often he repeats that they are not.

As a European, I am now afraid to visit the United States and will not do so unless I have to for my work for fear of doing something wrong at the airport and being detained for a prolonged if not indefinite period of time. I also do not to dare express critical views in e-mail messages to American colleagues and friends, for fear they will get in trouble with authorities. This is how my contacts with the United States, a once friendly nation, have evolved.

Kees Schepers
Antwerp, Belgium, Oct. 6, 2007

Kees Schepers is afraid. He is very afraid. Then again, he's not afraid to denounce America on the pages of America's third most widely read newspaper. That may make him the bravest man in Belgium.

September 22, 2007

But are you a robot?

Hillary Clinton: I'm not a lesbian.

September 07, 2007

'Bin Laden' speaks

And the Ottawa Citizen -- first, as far as I can tell -- has the full transcript.

What a bunch of nonsense it is. A couple of years ago, bin Laden was getting his material from Michael Moore. Now it seems composed of a mish-mash of Chavez speeches, NDP pamphlets, Noam Chomsky, and some guy muttering to himself in a bus station somewhere. He's getting more sophisticated in his lunacy.

It seems to me that bin Laden -- if this is bin Laden, and I'm still kind of doubtful of that -- is appealing in a ham-fisted way to those in the West he considers his allies. I'll generously assume that they aren't really his allies, but by their actions, sometimes it isn't easy to tell. They fooled him, anyways. Perhaps for this reason, most of the news stories' I've seen on this new tape (ie. BBC's 'extracts' from the transcript) are overlooking these blatant and desperate attempts at finding common ground with the modern left. Here's a few of the choicer passages that probably won't find their way into the pages of the Globe or the Star tomorrow:

In the Vietnam War, the leaders of the White House claimed at the time that it was a necessary and crucial war, and during it, Rumsfeld and his aides murdered two million villagers. And when Kennedy took over the presidency and deviated from the general line of policy drawn up for the White House and wanted to stop this unjust war, that angered the owners of the major corporations who were benefiting from its continuation.

And so Kennedy was killed, and Al-Qaeda wasn't present at that time, but rather, those corporations were the primary beneficiary from his killing. And the war continued after that for approximately one decade.

[...]

This war [Iraq] was entirely unnecessary, as testified to by your own reports. And among the most capable of those from your own side who speak to you on this topic and on the manufacturing of public opinion is Noam Chomsky, who spoke sober words of advice prior to the war, but the leader of Texas doesn't like those who give advice. The entire world came out in unprecedented demonstrations to warn against waging the war and describe its true nature in eloquent terms like "no to spilling red blood for black oil," yet he paid them no heed. It is time for humankind to know that talk of the rights of man and freedom are lies produced by the White House and its allies in Europe to deceive humans, take control of their destinies and subjugate them.

So in answer to the question about the causes of the Democrats' failure to stop the war, I say: they are the same reasons which led to the failure of former president Kennedy to stop the Vietnam war.

Those with real power and influence are those with the most capital. And since the democratic system permits major corporations to back candidates, be they presidential or congressional, there shouldn't be any cause for astonishment - and there isn't any - in the Democrats' failure to stop the war. And you're the ones who have the saying which goes, "Money talks." And I tell you: after the failure of your representatives in the Democratic Party to implement your desire to stop the war, you can still carry anti-war placards and spread out in the streets of major cities, then go back to your homes, but that will be of no use and will lead to the prolonging of the war.

[...]

In fact, the life of all of mankind is in danger because of the global warming resulting to a large degree from the emissions of the factories of the major corporations, yet despite that, the representative of these corporations in the White House insists on not observing the Kyoto accord, with the knowledge that the statistic speaks of the death and displacement of the millions of human beings because of that, especially in Africa.

[...]

And Iraq and Afghanistan and their tragedies; and the reeling of many of you under the burden of interest-related debts, insane taxes and real estate mortgages; global warming and its woes; and the abject poverty and tragic hunger in Africa: all of this is but one side of the grim face of this global system.

So it is imperative that you free yourselves from all of that and search for an alternative, upright methodology in which it is not the business of any class of humanity to lay down its own laws to its own advantage at the expense of the other classes as is the case with you, since the essence of man-made positive laws is that they serve the interests of those with the capital and thus make the rich richer and the poor poorer.

Oh, and he hasn't completely forgotten the more conservative Westerners. Apparently taxes will be much lower when we finally get around to submitting to Allah:
There are no taxes in Islam, but rather there is a limited Zakaat (alms) totaling only 2.5 percent. So beware of the deception of those with the capital.
But can you really believe these kinds of campaign promises? Does he have the numbers to back it up?

August 08, 2007

China talks tough to hide a weak hand

China is apparently threatening to dump their massive holding of US dollars if Congress gets too aggressive with trade tariffs:

Described as China's "nuclear option" in the state media, such action could trigger a dollar crash at a time when the US currency is already breaking down through historic support levels.

It would also cause a spike in US bond yields, hammering the US housing market and perhaps tipping the economy into recession. It is estimated that China holds over $900bn in a mix of US bonds.

The unfortunate thing is that China and the US have a unhealthy codependent relationship. The US is addicted to the cheap money the Chinese have been providing, which allows interest rates to stay low and keep the economy moving. And China is dependent on the US to soak up all the crap they produce so they can keep their people working and avoid social unrest. It's a situation that can't go on forever, and perhaps the cracks are finally beginning to show.

But economic crises are caused not by changing economic conditions, but by the rate of change of those conditions. Markets generally adapt to change very well, but too much too fast will cause enormous disruptions that unpredictable effects. Both the tariffs proposed by the US and the dumping of dollars by the Chinese will rebound to their own countries and cause a lot of economic devastation.

The fact that the two countries are still making threats to each other in public tells me they're still a long way from cooperating in disentangling themselves from this mess they're in. Personally, I think it's far too late to do anything anyway, especially with the debt crisis growing in the US. It's likely the rhetoric will get more heated as the two nations seek to blame each other for the inevitable pain as they break free of their codependency the hard way.

July 29, 2007

Criminal prosecutors

This story is making the rounds, but if you haven't heard about it yet you can find out about the whole sordid affair from Mark Steyn:

Do you know Cory Mashburn and Ryan Cornelison?

If you do, don't approach them. Call 911 and order up a SWAT team. They're believed to be in the vicinity of McMinnville, Ore., where they're a clear and present danger to the community. Mashburn and Cornelison were recently charged with five counts of felony sexual abuse, and District Attorney Bradley Berry has pledged to have them registered for life as sex offenders.

Oh, by the way, the defendants are in the seventh grade.

Messrs Mashburn and Cornelison are pupils at Patton Middle School. They were arrested in February after being observed in the vestibule, swatting girls on the butt. Butt-swatting had apparently become a form of greeting at the school – like "a handshake we do," as one female student put it. On "Slap Butt Fridays," boys and girls would hail each other with a cheery application of manual friction to the posterior, akin to a Masonic greeting.

And then an authority figure found out, and decided to ruin a few lives. Read the whole thing.

May 11, 2007

'The road to Heaven-on-Earth passes through Hell and never re-emerges'

Front Page magazine has a great interview with Canadian poet David Solway, who dramatically shifted his worldview after 9/11. In it, Solway warns of the threat of militant Islam and berates the modern left for their tacit support of this ideology. Because of his command of language, he is able to do this very well. Here he describes the Canadian political scene:

Ignoring the supple manoeuvring of the enemy within and the gathering storm of the enemy without, we concentrate instead on tiny tempests in the nanny-state teapot, cozily swaddled within the cocoon of our facile self-preoccupations. The majority of those who constitute our political elite would steer the country toward a flaccid accommodation with a grimly Hobbesian world, seconded by our dial-a-cause literary organizations with no grip on the way things are. A new government may, hopefully, alter this trend, but the malaise is deep-seated. A telling illustration of this penchant for denial, this flight from reality, was the repealing of anti-terror legislation in the recent parliament at the hands of the pacifist opposition parties, an act for which we are likely to pay a heavy price in the future.

Canada is not only an incoherent country but a country gone soft, more than half its citizenry believing that world peace is achievable through parliamentary posturing, expressions of highfalutin sentiment, unquestioning support for the corrupt and ineffectual U.N., the admission in principle of the equality of all cultural perspectives (with two exceptions: our own and Judaism’s), the enunciation of good intentions and impetuous calls for immediate ceasefire. It is a country that has enfeebled its military to the point at which, as historian Jack Granatstein has indicated in Whose War Is It?, it would be unable to respond effectively to a national catastrophe. It is a country which believes that soldiers are meant to keep the peace even if there is no peace to keep, but that they are certainly not meant to risk their lives on the battlefield. The job of the army is to build schools, hospitals and bridges, but not to prevent the enemy from blowing them up the moment they are in place. Canadians tend to be deeply concerned that the terrorist detainees in Afghanistan—those who plant roadside bombs, kill wantonly, mutilate and behead—may not be receiving proper treatment from the Afghan authorities to whom they have been turned over. That these are members of the same Taliban organization which sheltered al-Qaeda and enthusiastically endorsed and abetted its project to murder and maim as many innocent civilians as possible, including those who piously wish to defend the terrorists’ rights and wellbeing, seems of little or no importance.

RTWT, there's plenty more where that came from.

See also: Nick Cohen.

(Hat tip: Dust My Broom)

January 31, 2007

Why is the world upside down?

For the past few years I've had the feeling that global politics is moving into the Twilight Zone. So many politicians, reporters, and members of other elites have been appeasing and making excuses for one of the most vile ideologies in history. The United States and a few of its allies have fought against this ideology, making difficult sacrifices to try to grow democracy in some very poor soil, and those same intellectuals seem very clearly to want this effort to fail. Can it be that they hate Bush so much that they want to see an entire nation fall to fascists so that he doesn't have the honour of a 'victory'? Sure, there have been mistakes, but if I recall my history, the allies in World War II didn't follow a perfectly executed plan either. But they won, despite setbacks and disagreements, because they understood the consequences of defeat.

[Former?] Leftist Nick Cohen can't understand what's going on either, and has some questions for his 'comrades':

Why is it that apologies for a militant Islam which stands for everything the liberal left is against come from the liberal left? Why will students hear a leftish postmodern theorist defend the exploitation of women in traditional cultures but not a crusty conservative don? After the American and British wars in Bosnia and Kosovo against Slobodan Milosevic's ethnic cleansers, why were men and women of the left denying the existence of Serb concentration camps? As important, why did a European Union that daily announces its commitment to the liberal principles of human rights and international law do nothing as crimes against humanity took place just over its borders? Why is Palestine a cause for the liberal left, but not China, Sudan, Zimbabwe, the Congo or North Korea? Why, even in the case of Palestine, can't those who say they support the Palestinian cause tell you what type of Palestine they would like to see? After the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington why were you as likely to read that a sinister conspiracy of Jews controlled American or British foreign policy in a superior literary journal as in a neo-Nazi hate sheet? And why after the 7/7 attacks on London did leftish rather than right-wing newspapers run pieces excusing suicide bombers who were inspired by a psychopathic theology from the ultra-right?

In short, why is the world upside down?

Read the whole thing, he's just getting warmed up...

January 26, 2007

Giuliani vs Gore

That's who I think will face off in the Presidential elections of 2008. I know it's a year and a half away but I feel pretty confident with my prediction. Here's my back-of-the-envelope analysis:

Republicans: There's not a lot of strong candidates here. Basically there's Giuliani and everybody else. McCain will flop in the same way he did in 2000. Gingrich has that stale smell of the 90's clinging to him. All the rest are nobodies that won't get any traction unless they happen to find a hot issue.

Giuliani is pretty liberal on social issues, and this is making him some enemies as the race gets closer. But this is actually a strength, because these issues have normally cost Republicans votes in the general election. Giuliani is also seen as a strong leader that can get things done, and with the bad atmosphere in Congress today that quality will be seen as vital. Most importantly, after their loss in 2006, Republicans desperately want to win again. And they'll be willing to nominate a candidate that they may not completely agree with if he can bring them victory.

Democrats: This is a little more difficult. There is a general feeling that the next election is the Democrats 'turn', so it's attracting a lot of strong candidates.

I think Hillary has too much baggage to make it. As the front-runner declaring so early, she's going to take an enormous amount of abuse and be subjected to incredible scrutiny before the first primary. I've been watching her over the years -- knowing full well what her ultimate intentions were -- and I have to admit she's done a good job straddling every issue. But this becomes a problem in that people have the perception that she's an empty shell: guided by the best political advice available solely for the goal of becoming President. And in this case, the perception is reality.

Obama is a good-looking (so I'm told) black man in the Senate. For most people he's an empty page, which gets you pretty far. But it can't get you to the White House. Whoever advised him to run after only two years in the Senate did him a great disservice. He's young, and has lots of time to build more of a reputation and get more allies before aiming at the big prize. But after this he'll be seen as overly ambitious, and will have squandered all the goodwill he's getting now.

Gore hasn't declared yet, and he won't for some time. But someone as ambitious as him sees the perfect opportunity to make his comeback onto the big stage. There is nothing that will stop him from running. Nothing. He may even miss some of the early primaries, but when he arrives he will seem fresh. The halo he's been polishing since he lost in 2000 will dazzle the press and primary voters. Expect to hear many comparisons during this period to Nixon, who lost in a squeaker in 1960, but came back in 1968 to trounce the party that had mired the country in a war they couldn't win. The other candidates will have spent at least six months tearing each other apart and taking abuse from the press. No one will look very good. But at that moment Al will look like a saint, an wise scientist, and a movie star all rolled into one. He's not, of course, but it'll take some time for the press and his opponents to recalibrate their attacks on him. But it'll be too late. He'll coast to victory. Gore has a tremendously loyal following, and you can be sure he's spent the last six years courting anyone who can help him. He's unstoppable -- at least for the Democratic nomination.

Sorry, Hill.

And who will win? I think Giuliani will. But maybe that's hope talking, I'm not sure.

January 23, 2007

Bush confronts his critics

I think one of the reasons President Bush's popularity has been on a slow slide downward over the past years has been the gradual softening of the tough stance he took after 9/11 and the beginning of the Iraq war. If he played more on offence rather than defence -- talked more (and acted more) about the threats we face -- maybe he wouldn't have lost so many of his early allies. With this speech to his critics, maybe he's trying to turn things around:

Faced with a fundamental challenge to our own security, to everything we believe in, to the world order to peace and security for which we and our parents fought so hard for so many years, you now want to pretend like none of these threats are real. You want to surrender to the evil I have been telling you about. An evil that, unchecked, can consume large parts of the world and threatens to usher in a dark age.

You didn’t like it when I talked about evil. Sounded too simple, too uncompromising, too moralistic. Too … biblical.

I don’t know what else you call people who fly passenger jets into office buildings; who rape women in front of their husbands and children, and execute their opponents in acid baths; who seek to spread tyrannical and archaic religious regimes that enslave women and stifle fundamental freedoms. Who want to dominate the world’s primary oil fields with nuclear weapons.

I call it evil. Works for me.

I’ve heard all the comparisons between Iraq and Vietnam. George Bush’s Vietnam. The myopia is astonishing, even for me, George Bush, who you all think just isn’t that smart. But I learned something in school: People who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it...

Too bad he never really made it...

January 17, 2007

Talk about a war on reality...

I used to like Doonesbury. I really did. It had a good mix of characters, had interesting plotlines, and had some link to reality. I even liked the art. But that was quite a while ago. Now it seems Gary Trudeau seems to get his story ideas by taking the talking points of the worst enemies of the Bush administration and exaggerating them for comic effect. The result is a strip that really only belongs in a college newspaper.

A strip this week is a good example.

Trouble is, none of it is true. Blogger Christopher Taylor (not our Chris Taylor) actually went to the heroic lengths of calling the Park Service for confirmation of the story.

But even to think that it could be true strains the mind. No matter how diabolical and anti-science one might think the 'Bush Regime' is, it's hard to imagine them being so concerned with how the Parks Service describes the Grand Canyon that they would personally intervene. And even if they did care, they simply don't have the power to dictate the day-to-day policy of any branch of government.

To believe this story upon first hearing it is perhaps understandable. But surely any rational person would have a few questions about its veracity after a few moment's thought. But to take the time to put it into a comic strip to be seen by millions of people (creating an undestroyable urban myth) indicates Gary Trudeau is either a willing liar, or lives in a penthouse apartment in cloud-cuckoo land.

UPDATE: The skeptics at eSkeptic were insufficiently skeptical when they first heard this story and promptly flew off the handle. But since then they have regained their composure, admitted their error, and tried to track down the feeble story to its source.

December 30, 2006

The world becomes a slightly better place

Saddam has dropped off the world's stage. It's very good news. At a gathering of some friends the other day, someone remarked that the 'chaos' in Iraq today is far worse than the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein. I have to say, I can never understand this widely held view:

1980-88: Iran-Iraq war left 150,000 to 340,000 Iraqis and 450,000 to 730,000 Iranians dead.

1983-1988: Documented chemical attacks by Iraqi regime caused some 30,000 Iraqi and Iranian deaths.

1988: Chemical attack on Kurdish village of Halabja killed approximately 5,000 people.

1987-1988: Iraqi regime used chemical agents in attacks against at least 40 Kurdish villages.

1990-91: 1,000 Kuwaitis were killed in Iraqi invasion of Kuwait.

1991: Bloody suppression of Kurdish and Shi'a uprisings in northern and southern Iraq killed at least 30,000 to 60,000. At least 2,000 Kurdish villages were destroyed during the campaign of terror.

2001: Amnesty International report: "Victims of torture in Iraq are subjected to a wide range of forms of torture, including the gouging out of eyes, severe beatings and electric shocks... some victims have died as a result and many have been left with permanent physical and psychological damage."

Human Rights Watch: Saddam's 1987-1988 campaign of terror against the Kurds killed at least 50,000 and possibly as many as 100,000 Kurds.

Refugees International: "Oppressive government policies have led to the internal displacement of 900,000 Iraqis."

Iraq's 13 million Shiite Muslims, the majority of Iraq's population of approximately 22 million, faced severe restrictions on their religious practice.

I think it's much better to have the bad guys skulking around in the shadows, living in fear for their lives, rather than sitting comfortably as the supreme power of the land. But that's just me, I guess. People who are nostalgic for the supposed 'stability' of pre-invasion Iraq forget that it was forged by the brutal deaths of hundreds of thousands and maintained by an almost unparalleled regime of terror and repression.

Hopefully Saddam's death will help Iraqis put their past disagreements behind them and let them build a better future together.

November 01, 2006

It's too late guys...

You should have stayed in school...

(via LGF)

October 30, 2006

Crime Story

One of the uglier effects of the insane housing markets of the past few years has been an increase in all kinds of real estate fraud. CNN Money has the detailed story of a con-man by the name of Matthew Cox who roams the US under multiple aliases taking advantage of desperate sellers with his crooked schemes. It's obvious the guy is total scum, but you can be sure there's a movie waiting to be made after they finally catch him.

October 24, 2006

CNN gets busted

One of the things I hate most about today's media is their willingness -- their eagerness, really -- to do the propaganda work for the worst scumbags on the planet. The airing by CNN of a video of a terrorist sniper training his rifle on an American soldier (though 'tastefully' fading to black before the shot is fired) is just the latest example. But this story seems to have crossed a line, and there has been a strong backlash.

Wolf Blitzer tried to do a bit of damage control yesterday, but it blew up in his face. CNN's 'military analyst', Gen David Grange, wound up agreeing with the Congressman that was pointing the finger at them. He couldn't deny that his employer was doing the 'promo' work for terrorists:

Grange agreed with Hunter: "Well, as a platoon leader in Vietnam, I would have said the same thing. I agree with you on that -- or even in Iraq today. My -- my concern is the power of information warfare, and how they use it. And I -- and I look at opportunities that we can turn around on the enemy, because they are winning the information warfare front. You can argue that our -- our -- the media in the United States supports that somewhat."
The most interesting part of the exchange for my part was Congressman Hunter's remark on why such a video is so dangerous -- which the media just cannot understand:
Hunter returned to his argument that the insurgents are getting their wishes granted by CNN, and might encourage further terrorism: "General, I look at it just the opposite. I think showing Americans being killed by terrorists, with -- apparently, with impunity, because the film doesn't show the terrorists then being pursued and killed. And lots of terrorists who have shot at Americans took their last shot at the Americans, because they themselves were killed in turn. But showing the world a film, and lots of terrorists out there watching their TV sets, a picture of an American being killed in a crowd by a terrorist who operates, apparently, with impunity, and gets away, is highly suggestive, I think, and highly instructive to them. And I think it's dangerous to Americans, not only uniformed Americans, but also tourists, Americans who might go abroad and be in one of those crowds one day, when somebody who saw that film, how you just walk up and kill them while they are in a crowd, decides to replicate that action."

October 17, 2006

Population explosion

Tim Blair has compiled a photographic exposé to mark the grim milestone of the three hundred millionth American being born.

September 11, 2006

Five years on

I was in a classroom, beginning an ill-fated MBA program when I heard the news. The program's director came in and gave us an brief overview of what was happening -- the World Trade Center had been hit by two planes, the Pentagon was on fire -- and told us the rest of the day was cancelled.

I immediately tried to find out more from the internet -- we had computers in the classroom -- but every news site was down, swamped by other panicked people like myself needing desperately to know what was going on. The old ways of distributing information work better in this type of situation. As I wandered out into the lobby of the office building where the class was being held, some people were setting up a TV on a large stand, tuned to CNN. And finally I could see the horror for myself. I stood there in a large crowd for twenty minutes, listening to the dribble of real news beyond the images, until the first tower dropped. Then I'd had enough, I wanted to go home.

I was overcome by anger and worry. My worry at the time was not for the people who had died, and were dying, and their families; it was for the future. I assumed the attacks were the work of militant Islam, and worried what would happen next. There had been repeated sniping and ankle-biting of the United States for years up until that point, and the US had been content to mostly ignore it. But this couldn't be ignored. I worried that the US would fall to a spirit of retribution, a new xenophobia, and a blind hatred to match that of the attackers. I worried that the US would lose its temper.

And I was wrong. There were no crowds shouting for blood of Arabs. No one made broad accusations, just speculations with clear . While it was generally understood that militant Islam was most likely behind the attacks, Muslims as a whole could not be blamed. The anger felt by many was not directed outwards blindly, but instead was channeled into resolve. The White House thought as I did, and made it a priority in the days after September 11th to appear with Muslim leaders and assure the country that Islam was not their enemy. But I don't think it was necessary -- and I'm glad. If the events that day can't inspire Americans to the hate that is too frequently seen in the Middle East, nothing can.

Five years on, I think things have gone better than they might have. Two countries have been liberated, and though both still have enemies to fight, they are much better off than they would be had they still been tyrannies. Just because there were no TV cameras to capture it, no one should doubt that pre-war Afghanistan and Iraq were brutal violent places.

What worries me most is that many seem to have forgotten who the enemy is. Five years ago the world had a chance to see the hate that is motivating so many. The hijackers were not an aberration, they were part of a movement that thrives all over the world. They want to kill, and they have been killing. And if they get a nuclear weapon, they will use it. They cannot be reasoned with, accomodated, contained or controlled. They can only be confronted and fought. But too many in our comfortable part of the world would prefer just to go back to sleep.

September 06, 2006

The New Holocaust Deniers

From a story in the Daily Mail:

The 9/11 terrorist attack on America which left almost 3,000 people dead was an "inside job", according to a group of leading academics.

Around 75 top professors and leading scientists believe the attacks were puppeteered by war mongers in the White House to justify the invasion and the occupation of oil-rich Arab countries.

"Leading academics"? "Top professors and leading scientists?" Pfft. Time magazine -- though at least acknowledging that the conspiracy nuts are wrong -- is charitable as to their motives:
There are psychological explanations for why conspiracy theories are so seductive. Academics who study them argue that they meet a basic human need: to have the magnitude of any given effect be balanced by the magnitude of the cause behind it. A world in which tiny causes can have huge consequences feels scary and unreliable. Therefore a grand disaster like Sept. 11 needs a grand conspiracy behind it. "We tend to associate major events--a President or princess dying--with major causes," says Patrick Leman, a lecturer in psychology at Royal Holloway University of London, who has conducted studies on conspiracy belief. "If we think big events like a President being assassinated can happen at the hands of a minor individual, that points to the unpredictability and randomness of life and unsettles us." In that sense, the idea that there is a malevolent controlling force orchestrating global events is, in a perverse way, comforting.
What a load of nonsense. The real motivation for these nuts' beliefs is hatred. People who fall for these fantasies do so because their loathing of Bush is so overwhelming and so pure that they cannot bear to share even one tiny piece of common ground with him. The fact that 9/11 gives Bush's arguments some validity is precisely the reason they feel it could not have happened that way -- because Bush's arguments have no validity.

9/11 conspiracy nuts are in the same boat as holocaust deniers. Their hate prevents them from acknowledging something they feel gives power to their foes. They can't accept that it's possible to disagree with Bush's policies while still sharing some of his worldview. That there are so many of these loons around suggests to me that if Bush Derangement Syndrome (BDS) were entered into the DSM, it would be one of the most prevelant disorders.

I'm not going to get into debating what happened (check out Popular Mechanics or 911myths.com for thorough shreddings of the lies), but just to illustrate how nuts these people are, here's the response from a true believer to a story on CBC Radio that was inadequately sympathetic to the "truth".

It would seem that the recent and ongoing public disintegration of the 9/11 story has been a matter of concern to CBC functionaries. Existing demolitions of the official 9/11 narrative have gained added weight in recent months from the public interventions of Professors James Fetzer and Steven Jones, co-founders of Scholars for 9/11 Truth, who together with other distinguished scholars and scientists who have joined this group, notably the theologian David Ray Griffin, have been publishing scrupulously researched studies of the 9/11 evidence—and have as well been making increasingly high-profile media appearances across the U.S.

Why should this concern the CBC? Because together with the rest of the Canadian mainstream media, the CBC has taken on the task of swinging Canadian public opinion into support for Canada’s increasingly aggressive participation in the occupation of Afghanistan—a country that was bombed, invaded, and occupied by the United States in 2001 as punishment for giving refuge to Osama bin Laden, the man accused of masterminding the atrocities of 9/11. Obviously enough, if the real organizers of the 9/11 attacks were in fact senior officials of the U.S. government, then that opinion-molding project collapses into rubble.

The source? A 'distiquished' Canadian academic. If you can believe hundreds of military personnel and government officials worked together in secret to kill thousands of their fellow citizens in cold blood, I guess it's not such a great leap of logic to the think the CBC (and 'The Current', no less) are working to advance the neo-con agenda.

August 31, 2006

Wise words from Rumsfeld

I'm currently reading Cobra II, so far the best book on how the war in Iraq was conceived and executed. Maybe someday I'll even finish it. For enemies of the Bush administration, the book was widely used as a cudgel to whack Donald Rumsfeld: he ignored the advice of senior generals, he was inflexible, he was intrusive, etc, etc. My reading is that he saved the lives of thousands of Iraqis by his insistence on an early ground war and fewer troops. If he listened to the advice of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Iraq would have been pounded flat in a 40 day air offensive so the infantry wouldn't have to risk any stubbed toes on their march to Baghdad. And as to the personality conflicts and power games, well, no big and complicated project can be completed without a lot of them.

But then I like Rumsfeld, so I'm eager to let him off the hook. He's a straight shooter that sees the big picture and doesn't forget about it. He gave an good speech to the American Legion the other day about the cultural side of the 'war on terror' -- the part of the war I think we're losing. Here's the meaty heart of it:

That year -- 1919 -- turned out to be one of the pivotal junctures in modern history with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles, the creation of the League of Nations, a treaty and an organization intended to make future wars unnecessary and obsolete. Indeed, 1919 was the beginning of a period where, over time, a very different set of views would come to dominate public discourse and thinking in the West.

Over the next decades, a sentiment took root that contended that if only the growing threats that had begun to emerge in Europe and Asia could be accommodated, then the carnage and the destruction of then-recent memory of World War I could be avoided.

It was a time when a certain amount of cynicism and moral confusion set in among Western democracies. When those who warned about a coming crisis, the rise of fascism and nazism, they were ridiculed or ignored. Indeed, in the decades before World War II, a great many argued that the fascist threat was exaggerated or that it was someone else's problem. Some nations tried to negotiate a separate peace, even as the enemy made its deadly ambitions crystal clear. It was, as Winston Churchill observed, a bit like feeding a crocodile, hoping it would eat you last.

There was a strange innocence about the world. Someone recently recalled one U.S. senator's reaction in September of 1939 upon hearing that Hitler had invaded Poland to start World War II. He exclaimed:

"Lord, if only I had talked to Hitler, all of this might have been avoided!"

Continue reading "Wise words from Rumsfeld" »

August 30, 2006

9/11 Illustrated

Slate is serializing the graphic adaptation of the 9/11 report. It's remarkably well done and quite chilling to read.


Even more chilling to read are the conspiracy kooks polluting the forums on the book version's Amazon page.

The End of the Plame Kerfuffle?

I don't often listen to the CBC Radio News, but I recall listening to it a few months ago as one of the umpteen dozen 'revelations' of the Plame saga came to light. It was the top of the news, and was followed by interviews with at least a half a dozen 'experts' rounded up by the impartial reporters of our national broadcaster, who each claimed that Bush was toast, that this was the smoking gun, that this would finally connect the nefarious casual mentioning of a Bush critic's wife's profession to the evil machinations of the Bush administration.

And what was this new revelation? Only that Bush authorized a document to be declassified in order to rebut one of Joe Wilson's false claims. Which seems to be a reasonable response to a person who has used the authority of his work with the government in order to discredit it. But for the CBC and the other millions of Plame conspiracy freaks, this indicated that the White House had noticed Wilson's criticisms, and might have done even more to discredit him. Perhaps even going as far as to... getting a subordinate to casually mention to the press that Wilson's wife worked... for the CIA!

Anyways, due to the development of the internet, this non-story has probably spawned a greater word count than that of both Kennedy assasinations put together. It went on for years and years. And there was absolutely nothing there.

Hopefully the last 'revelation' of this ridiculous conspiracy theory has come to light: that Bush critic Richard Armitage was the 'leaker' of Plame's secret identity, and did it with no ill intent. I somehow doubt this fact will deter the most enthusiastic Plame conspiracy nuts, but maybe the rest of the media will at least shut up about it. It's important for the media to investigate the government and be suspicious of it, but it's also important for them to work at least partially in the real world. The idea that Bush would get 'revenge' on an attention-seeking nobody like Joe Wilson by revealing what his wife did was so ludicrous that is should have been laughed off the front pages. But instead they devoted enormous resources over three years in trying to prove this nutty theory -- when they had absolutely no evidence! It boggles my mind.

February 09, 2006

Way cool pic

"Stars over Berlin and Tokyo will soon replace these factory lights reflected in the noses of planes at Douglas Aircraft's Long Beach, Calif., plant. Women workers groom lines of transparent noses for deadly A-20 attack bombers." Alfred Palmer, October 1942.

From the US National Archives.

September 15, 2005

The press is seriously lacking

Or actually, lacking seriousness. Here's what Bush said at the United Nations yesterday:

Today I broaden the challenge by making this pledge: The United States is ready to eliminate all tariffs, subsidies and other barriers to free flow of goods and services as other nations do the same. This is key to overcoming poverty in the world's poorest nations. It's essential we promote prosperity and opportunity for all nations.
That's a pretty important statement. Much poverty is caused by protectionism within the developed world towards agricultural products coming from developing nations. That protectionism is the result of powerful lobbies that are determined to keep things as they are. Bush is pledging to fight these lobbies and allow free competition from abroad. These forces aren't pushovers; Bush would be in for the fight of his life. Whether he can do it or not remains to be seen, but as far as I know he's the first world leader to propose something of this magnitude.

But here's what most news sources focused on:

September 12, 2005

The state of journalism in Canada

It's bad. It's really bloody awful. I flipped through this weekend's Globe and Mail -- supposedly Canada's most prestigious newspaper -- and saw the most banal triumphalist anti-Americanism to mark the anniversary of September 11. It was stuffed with paranoid conspiracy theories, slippery and vague arguments, and far too much gleeful hand-rubbing over the impending demise of the United States. I'm very disappointed that this kind of blinkered perspective has become so mainstream in this country today. It was too fatiguing for me to even read.

I'm glad there are people like Bob Tarantino to fisk the holy bejeezus out of this crap. Read him. He deserves it.

September 05, 2005

Annual celebrity news

I don't note the various activities of the international glitterati too often on this blog, but I have to make an exception in this case. Sean Penn, who seems to think he can solve the world's problems on his own, came to New Orleans to mount a rescue. But he wound up needing rescue himself:

Penn had planned to rescue children waylaid by Katrina's flood waters, but apparently forgot to plug a hole in the bottom of the vessel, which began taking water within seconds of its launch.

The actor, known for his political activism, was seen wearing what appeared to be a white flak jacket and frantically bailing water out of the sinking vessel with a red plastic cup.

When the boat's motor failed to start, those aboard were forced to use paddles to propel themselves down the flooded New Orleans street.

Asked what he had hoped to achieve in the waterlogged city, the actor replied: "Whatever I can do to help."

With the boat loaded with members of Penn's entourage, including a personal photographer, one bystander taunted the actor: "How are you going to get any people in that thing?"

I love how he planned to 'rescue children.' Presumably any non-children he encountered (or just unattractive ones) would be ignored so his 'personal photographer' could get the right shot.

(via Tim Blair)

UPDATE: I should have known; this story is everywhere in the blogosphere. LGF has a photo.

September 04, 2005

The uncomfortable truth

Nicole Gelinas again pulls back the curtain to look at what caused the societal chaos in New Orleans. Unfortunately, her analysis doesn't fit with the the simplistic worldview of the modern media class and probably shouldn't be mentioned in polite company. It starts like this:

New Orleans hasnt even been disarmed yet, but the story of those who looted, trashed, and terrorized the city this week is already being re-written. Al Sharpton went on MSNBC Thursday night to say that looters are people who pay their taxes whose infrastructure caved in on them. The final PC version of the story is likely to go like this: The desperate people left behind in New Orleans, nearly all black, had justification in brutally attacking their city because the help they frantically sought didnt come.

In truth, the looters, rapists, and murderers who have terrorized New Orleans since Monday began their post-Katrina reign of terror a full day before the situation grew truly desperateand it was their increasingly lawless behavior that kept willing but unarmed professional and volunteer rescue workers away from the city and from the poor people who needed saving.

RTWT.

September 03, 2005

Time to impeach the Big Chief!

Mike at the London Fog has the perfect illumination of the mindset of those boneheaded beings that wish to blame Katrina on Bush:

Shaman from enemy tribe tell big chief must make sacrifice for weather spirits. Big chief not make sacrifice. Spirit of water and spirit of air angry. Spirit of water and spirit of air join with moon demon. Spirit of water and spirit of air and moon demon bring wrath upon city at great water...

September 02, 2005

The city that the damned call home

Can New Orleans ever be resurrected? Nicole Gelinas from City Journal doesn't sound too optimistic:

No American city has ever gone through what New Orleans must go through: the complete (if temporary) flight of its most affluent and capable citizens, followed by social breakdown among those left behind, after which must come the total reconstruction of economic and physical infrastructure by a devastated populace.

And the locals and outsiders who try to help New Orleans in the weeks and months to come will do so with no local institutional infrastructure to back them up. New Orleans has no real competent government or civil infrastructureand no aggressive media or organized citizens groups to prod public officials in the right direction during what will be, in the best-case scenario, a painstaking path to normalcy.

The truth is that even on a normal day, New Orleans is a sad city. Sure, tourists think New Orleans is fun: you can drink and hop from strip club to strip club all night on Bourbon Street, and gamble all your money away at Harrahs. But the citys decline over the past three decades has left it impoverished and lacking the resources to build its economy from within. New Orleans cant take care of itself even when it is not 80 percent underwater; what is it going to do now, as waters continue to cripple it, and thousands of looters systematically destroy what Katrina left unscathed?

And as for all the looting, maybe we shouldn't be so surprised:
New Orleans teems with crime, and the NOPD cant keep order on a good day. Former commissioner Richard Pennington brought New Orleans crime rate down from its peak during the mid-1990s. But since Penningtons departure, crime rates have soared, to ten times the national average. The NOPD might have hundreds of decent officers, but it has a well-deserved institutional image as corrupt, brutal, and incompetent.
Rebuilding the city will take two things: billions and billions of dollars and the will and dedication of the city's denizens. It's undoubtably the latter that will be the problem:
Sure, the feds must provide cash and resources for relief and recoverybut its up to New Orleans, not the feds, to dig deep within itself to rebuild its economic and social infrastructure before the tourists ever will flock back to pump cash into the citys economy. It will take a miracle. New Orleans has experienced a steady brain drain and fiscal drain for decades, as affluent corporations and individuals have fled, leaving behind a large population of people dependent on the government. Socially, New Orleans is one of Americas last helpless citiesjust at the moment when it must do all it can to help itself survive.

September 01, 2005

The news just keeps getting worse

It's hard to believe these scenes are happening in the United States:

The Superdome, where some 25,000 people were being evacuated by bus to the Houston Astrodome, descended into chaos.

Huge crowds, hoping to finally escape the stifling confines of the stadium, jammed the main concourse outside the dome, spilling out over the ramp to the Hyatt hotel next door _ a seething sea of tense, unhappy, people packed shoulder-to-shoulder up to the barricades where heavily armed National Guardsmen stood.

Fights broke out. A fire erupted in a trash chute inside the dome, but a National Guard commander said it did not affect the evacuation. After a traffic jam kept buses from arriving at the Superdome for nearly four hours, a near-riot broke out in the scramble to get on the buses that finally did show up.

Outside the Convention Center, the sidewalks were packed with people without food, water or medical care, and with no sign of law enforcement. Thousands of storm refugees had been assembling outside for days, waiting for buses that did not come.

At least seven bodies were scattered outside, and hungry people broke through the steel doors to a food service entrance and began pushing out pallets of water and juice and whatever else they could find.

An old man in a chaise lounge lay dead in a grassy median as hungry babies wailed around him. Around the corner, an elderly woman lay dead in her wheelchair, covered with a blanket, and another body lay beside her wrapped in a sheet.

A city evacuated and uninhabitable for months. Looters ruling the streets. Thousands dead? Natural disasters usually don't happen this slowly, but it's still too fast for outside relief to get things under control. I hope New Orleans can recover from this, but it obviously will never be the same again.

August 02, 2005

History's Greatest Appeaser

I always appreciate a good shredding of Jimmy Carter. Stephen Green provides.

July 14, 2005

Most Annoying Americans

I had a lot of fun last year with my Most Annoying Canadian competition. Down in the States, a book has been written on the 100 most annoying Americans, called 100 People Who Are Screwing Up America : (and Al Franken Is #37) by Bernard Goldberg. Like most of the annoying Canadians, Goldberg's choices are mostly the political and cultural elites who feel they have everything worked out, and who believe the world would be just peachy if everyone would only listen to them. What seperates them from that guy at the party that won't leave you alone is that many people do listen to them. His book is aimed at deflating these windbags, and it's a valid goal.

I haven't read it, but I've obtained the Cole's Notes version. Here they are, the 100 most annoying Americans, in order from most to least most:

Michael Moore, Arthur Sulzberger, Ted Kennedy, Jesse Jackson, Anthony Romero, Jimmy Carter, Margaret Marshall, Paul Krugman, Jonathan Kozol, Ralph Neas, Noam Chomsky, Dan Rather, Andrew Heyward, Mary Mapes, Ted Rall, John Edwards, Al Sharpton, Al Gore, George Soros, Howard Dean, Judge Roy Moore, Michael Newdow, The Unknown American Terrorist, Lee Bollinger, James Kopp, Dr. Martin Haskell, Paul Begala, Julian Bond, John Green, Latrell Sprewell, Maury Povich, Jerry Springer, Bob Shrum, Bill Moyers, Jeff Danziger, Nancy Hopkins, Al Franken, Jim McDermott, Peter Singer, Scott Harshbarger, Susan Beresford, Gloria Steinem, Paul Eibeler, Dennis Kozlowski, Ken Lay, Barbara Walters, Maxine Waters, Robert Byrd, Ingrid Newkirk, John Vasconellos, Ann Pelo, Markos Moulitsas, Anna Nicole Smith, Neal Shapiro, David Westin, Diane Sawyer, Ted Field, Eminem, Shirley Franklin, Ludacris, Michael Savage, Howard Stern, Amy Richards, James Wolcott, Oliver Stone, David Duke, Randall Robinson, Katherine Hanson, Matt Kunitz, Jimmy Swaggart, Phil Donahue, Ward Churchill, Barbara Kingsolver, Katha Politt, Eric Foner, Barbara Foley, Linda Hirshman, Norman Mailer, Harry Belafonte, Kitty Kelley, Tim Robbins, Laurie David, The Dumb and Vicious Celebrity, The Vicious Celebrity, The Dumb Celebrity, Chris Ofili, Sheldon Hackney, Aaron McGruder, Jane Smiley, Michael Jackson, Barbara Streisand, Kerri Dunn, Richard Timmons, Guy Velella, Courtney Love, Eve Ensler, Todd Goldman, Sheila Jackson Lee, Matthew Lesko, Rick and Kathy Hilton
Is there anyone missing? I can think of John Kerry and Rosie O'Donnell off the top of my head, but I guess you have to cut the list somewhere. There are lots of annoying Americans, after all. But I can't think of any that shouldn't be there, so it's a very good list.

(Speaking of the Most Annoying Canadian Canadian competion, if and when I get this blog off the blocks and back on the information super-highway again, I'm going to revive it. Nominations will begin sometime in September. Start noting who's on the TV screen when you find yourself shaking your fist at it and let me know.)

April 09, 2005

It would make a great Coen brothers movie

The story of the how the finger got in the chili...

April 05, 2005

Anger is self-defeating

Jacob Laksin at Opinion Journal writes about the 'vast left-wing conspiracy' and how its anger lost them last year's presidential election to George Bush:

Beneath the patina of confidence, however, the left-wing conspiracy often seems pitiable, as desperate as it is determined. Above all, its members are angry--at the perceived injustice of the 2000 presidential election, at the prospect of long-term Republican governance, at John Kerry's inept campaigning. Even, it appears, at being called angry.

It is the anger that does them in. Resting his case on much original reporting, Mr. York convincingly shows that the activist left mistook its base--2.5 million strong and anti-Bush to the (mostly white) man--for the mainstream electorate, as if fury and contempt were the only logical responses to the Bush presidency. Reciting the mantra that it was "too big to fail," the left wing bought into the conspiracy of its own vastness. An inability to connect with swing voters followed, and electoral defeat.

This is why Hillary Clinton will be a tough candidate to beat in 2008. She gets Republicans angry. Really angry. They risk appearing to the moderate center to be as unreasonable as the fringe elements of the Democrats did in the last election.

If Hillary is nominated, the Republicans will have to have an even more polarizing figure as their candidate to counteract her. There's only one choice: Dick Cheney in 2008.

March 31, 2005

You think you've got problems?

Compared to this woman, you lead a life of endless bliss. She just wants to feed her son! Listen to her sad story on her call to 911, or just read this transcript:

Dispatcher: Sheriff's department, how can I help you?

Caller: Yeah, I'm over here at Burger King, right here in San Clemente--

Dispatcher: Mm-hmm.

Caller: --um, no, not San Clemente, I'm sorry. Um, I live in San Clemente. I'm in Laguna Niguel, I think that's where I'm at.

Dispatcher: Uh-huh.

Caller: I'm at a drive-thru right now.

Dispatcher: Uh-huh.

Caller: I ordered my food three times. They're mopping the floor inside, and I understand they're busy. They're not even busy, OK, I've been the only car here. I asked them four different times to make me a Western Barbecue Burger. OK, they keep giving me a hamburger with lettuce, tomato and cheese, onions. And I said, I am not leaving.

Dispatcher: Uh-huh.

Caller: I want a Western Burger. Because I just got my kids from tae kwon do; they're hungry. I'm on my way home, and I live in San Clemente.

Dispatcher: Uh-huh.

Caller: OK, she gave me another hamburger. It's wrong. I said four times, I said, "I want it." She goes, "Can you go out and park in front?" I said, "No. I want my hamburger right." So then the lady came to the manager, or whoever she is--she came up and she said, um, "Did you want your money back?" And I said, "No. I want my hamburger. My kids are hungry, and I have to jump on the toll freeway [sic]." I said, "I am not leaving this spot," and I said I will call the police, because I want my Western Burger done right. Now is that so hard?

Dispatcher: OK, what exactly is it you want us to do for you?

Caller: Send an officer down here. I want them to make me the right--

Dispatcher: Ma'am, we're not going to go down there and enforce your Western Bacon Cheeseburger.

Caller: What am I supposed to do?

Dispatcher: This is between you and the manager. We're not going to go enforce how to make a hamburger. That's not a criminal issue. There's nothing criminal there.

Caller: So I just stand here--so I just sit here and block--

Dispatcher: You need to calmly and rationally speak to the manager and figure out what to do between you.

Caller: She did come up, and I said, "Can I please have my Western Burger?" She said, "I'm not dealing with it," and she walked away. Because they're mopping the floor and it's all full of suds, and they don't want to go through there, and--

Dispatcher: Ma'am, then I suggest you get your money back and go somewhere else. This is not a criminal issue. We can't go out there and make them make you a cheeseburger the way you want it.

Caller: Well, that is, that--you're supposed to be here to protect me.

Dispatcher: Well, what are we protecting you from, a wrong cheeseburger?

Caller: No. It's--

Dispatcher: Is this like, is this a harmful cheeseburger or something? I don't understand what you want us to do.

Caller: Well, just come down here! I'm not leaving!

Dispatcher: No, ma'am, I'm not sending the deputies down there over a cheeseburger! You need to go in there and act like an adult and either get your money back or go home.

Caller: I do not need to go. She is not acting like an adult herself. I'm sitting here in my car. I just want them to make my kid a Western Burger [unintelligible].

Dispatcher: Now this is what I suggest: I suggest you get your money back from the manager and you go on your way home.

Caller: OK.

Dispatcher: OK? Bye-bye.

Caller: No--

[click]

It's much funnier listening to the real thing; download the recording...

(ripped off wholesale from Best of the Web Today)

March 20, 2005

A bull in a talking shop

Colby Cosh caught a snippet of Condoleeza Rice defending Bush's nominee ambassador to the UN John Bolton on a news show the other day:

T.R. ...the appointment of Mr. Bolton has raised a lot of eyebrows in Europe and around the United States. Comments like these, an interview he gave with National Public Radio. Bolton: "If I were redoing the Security Council today, I'd have one permanent member because that's the real reflection of the distribution of power in the world." Question: "And that one member would be, John Bolton?" Bolton: "The United States."

And then this interview comment from Mr. Bolton... "There is no such thing as the United Nations. The secretariat building in New York has 38 stories. If you lost 10 stories today, it wouldn't make a bit of difference."

Why are we sending him to the United Nations?

C.R. Because John is a very good diplomat.

The UN is worth saving, but for that to happen it needs to be splashed in the face with the ice water of reality. Right now, its sole purpose seems to be to lend legitimacy to tyrannical regimes and try to expand its influence. It doesn't look at problems and try to bring together the resources to solve them, it only looks at how it can expand its power base and defend itself from threats. A perfect example is the current struggle in the Security Council on the dispatching of peacekeepers to Darfur. A genocide is going on, but some diplomats in the organization see only an opportunity to push the US into joining the International Criminal Court:
In January, a UN inquiry recommended that 51 suspected Sudanese war criminals be referred immediately to the International Criminal Court. European countries seized on the recommendation to try to get the United States to accept the role of the court. They have rebuffed U.S. efforts to send peacekeeping troops without an agreement on how to prosecute the criminals.

A senior U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, described the European attempts to force the United States to accept the international court as blackmail.

"The Europeans are holding the peacekeeping resolution hostage," said one Washington-based U.S. official involved in the impasse. "They are turning the debate to make us look bad, but they are the ones preventing the peacekeepers from going in."

These games go on all the time, mostly underneath the radar. Someone senior that would relentlessly combat these cynical power games could help move the UN back to its initial purpose. John Bolton looks like he might be that man. Here's Mark Steyn:
That's what was so stunning about Bolton. In a roomful of Euro-grandees, he was perfectly relaxed, a genial fellow with a rather Mitteleuropean moustache, but he thwacked every ball they served back down their gullets with amazing precision. He was the absolute antithesis of Schmoozer Bill and Pandering Eason: he seemed to relish their hostility. At one event, a startled British cabinet minister said to me afterwards, 'He doesn't mean all that, does he?'

But he does. And that's why the Bolton flap is very revealing about conventional wisdom on transnationalism. Diplomats are supposed to be 'diplomatic'. Why is that? Well, as the late Canadian prime minister Lester B. Pearson used to say, diplomacy is the art of letting the other fellow have your way. In other words, you were polite, discreet, circumspect, etc., as a means to an end. Not any more. None of John Bolton's detractors is worried that his bluntness will jeopardise the administration's policy goals. Quite the contrary. They're concerned that the administration has policy goals that it isn't yet willing to subordinate its national interest to the polite transnational pieties. In that sense, our understanding of 'diplomacy' has become corrupted: it's no longer the language through which nation states treat with one another so much as the code-speak consensus of a global elite.

For much of the civilised world the transnational pabulum has become an end in itself, and one largely unmoored from anything so tiresome as reality. It doesn't matter whether there is any global warming or, if there is, whether Kyoto will do anything about it or, if you ratify Kyoto, whether you bother to comply with it: all that matters is that you sign on to the transnational articles of faith. The same thinking applies to the ICC, and Darfur, and the Oil-for-Fraud programme, and anything else involving the UN. It was at the heart of Clare Short's freaky objection to the Aussie American post-tsunami relief effort. 'I think this initiative from America to set up four countries claiming to co-ordinate sounds like yet another attempt to undermine the UN,' she told the BBC. 'Only really the UN can do that job. It is the only body that has the moral authority.'

There 's a large number of people that feel the UN is the genesis of a future global government. They'll deny it if questioned on it, but their actions and beliefs speak otherwise. More power and influence for the UN seems to be an key condition in dealing with any international crisis. Given the UN's track record in the past 20 years, I can't think of a worse thing for the world than letting that happen. Hopefully the appointment of John Bolton will start to roll back back this idea.

February 05, 2005

Disturbed and pleased, no doubt

Irony-challenged director lets loose with a howler in a discussion of Mel Gibson's Passion of the Christ: apparently he is disturbed at "how easily the vulnerable can be manipulated, twisted by images on the screen."

(via Tim Blair)

December 18, 2004

Healing the divide

The biggest theme to get bounced around the United States following the election is the Red State/Blue State 'divide'. Everyone's been talking about it, but Dave Berry has decided to do something about it:

And as Americans, we must ask ourselves: Are we really so different? Must we stereotype those who disagree with us? Do we truly believe that ALL red-state residents are ignorant racist fascist knuckle-dragging NASCAR-obsessed cousin-marrying road-kill-eating tobacco-juice-dribbling gun-fondling religious fanatic rednecks; or that ALL blue-state residents are godless unpatriotic pierced-nose Volvo-driving France-loving left-wing Communist latte-sucking tofu-chomping holistic-wacko neurotic vegan weenie perverts?

Yes. This is called "diversity," and it is why we are such a great nation - a nation that has given the world both nuclear weapons AND SpongeBob SquarePants.

And so today I am calling upon both sides in the red-blue rift to reach out. Maybe we could have a cultural-exchange program between red and blue states. For example, a delegation from Texas could go to California and show the Californians how to do some traditional Texas thing such as castrate a bull using only your teeth, and then the Californians could show the Texans how to rearrange their football stadiums in accordance with the principles of "feng shui" (for openers, both goalposts should be at the west end of the field). Or maybe New York and Kentucky could have a college-style "mixer," featuring special "crossover" hors d'oeuvres, such as bagels topped with squirrel parts.

December 09, 2004

The most dangerous video game

It's Christmas. Time for the busybodies to issue press releases on things they oppose. One group, called the Interfaith Center of Corporate Responsibility, has issued a strong warning (Word format) on video games. It's the same old thing:

Years of research have shown that viewing entertainment violence can lead to increases in aggressive attitudes, values and behavior, particularly in children. Research on violent interactive media indicates that it has a strong and more lasting effect on violent behavior.
Okay, whatever. But it gets interesting when they list 'several games whose scenes of violence, gender and/or racial stereotyping are such that we would urge parents to avoid purchasing them'. Their number one pick? America's Army.

America's Army is not a standard 'video game' in the sense that you buy it at Wal-Mart, play it until you beat the final 'boss', then wait for the sequel to come out. Instead, it's a open-ended simulation of a career in the US Army and is available as a free download. Here's how the game is described:

Americas Army is one of the five most popular PC action games played online. It provides players with the most authentic military experience available, from exploring the development of Soldiers in individual and collective training to their deployment in simulated missions in the War on Terror.

Players are bound by the laws of land warfare, Army values (honor, duty and integrity) and realistic rules of engagement as they navigate challenges in teamwork-based multiplayer force vs. force operations. Mission accomplishment standings are evaluated based on team effort and adherence to a set of values and norms of conduct.

It sounds like there may be some violence in the game, but is it enough to make it the number one game they want to warn parents about? I played one of the Grand Theft Auto games once (GTA: San Andreas: out just in time for Christmas!), and one of the first things I was required to do was to beat someone to death with a baseball bat. The game was a nihilistic celebration of criminal culture and I really wouldn't want any teenager of mine to play it (though I wouldn't want it banned either). And America's Army, requiring 'honor, duty and integrity' from the player is worse than this?

In the minds of the Interfaith Center of Corporate Responsibility, yes. But they don't say why. I'm guessing because the game is a recruiting tool for the US Army and these people have anti-war beliefs. Labeling something you disagree with politically as dangerously loaded with 'violence, gender and/or racial stereotyping' is pretty low. But don't be surprised to see their list turning up in newspaper stories -- rewriting press releases is what they do best.

November 28, 2004

Only 41 years, five days ago...

Colby Cosh actually purchased a copy of the 'controversial' 'game' JFK Reloaded, which the international media used as its latest sign of the apocalypse for a few days last week. In his review, he reveals there's not a hell of a lot to it. As a player, you get to sit in Oswald's perch and shoot. That's it. Not much of a game if you ask me, but then, it's only 10 bucks.

Dallas is the dullest city I've ever visited. It's only the assassination site that has any colour. I was there a few years ago on an anniversary of the shooting and had a lot of fun listening to street lectures from various wackos -- complete with charts and other visual aids. An exact copy of the famous convertable limo would drive around, over and over across the 'X' marked on the road where Kennedy died, to try to entice you into visiting the JFK Conspiracy Museum. It's all somewhat tawdry (like this game), but the amount of time that has gone by since the assassination removes most of the creepiness.

November 09, 2004

That's gonna leave a mark

Christopher Hitchens delivers a mighty smack to the sactinomious left:

So here is what I want to say on the absolutely crucial matter of secularism. Only one faction in American politics has found itself able to make excuses for the kind of religious fanaticism that immediately menaces us in the here and now. And that faction, I am sorry and furious to say, is the left. From the first day of the immolation of the World Trade Center, right down to the present moment, a gallery of pseudointellectuals has been willing to represent the worst face of Islam as the voice of the oppressed. How can these people bear to reread their own propaganda? Suicide murderers in Palestinedisowned and denounced by the new leader of the PLOdescribed as the victims of "despair." The forces of al-Qaida and the Taliban represented as misguided spokespeople for antiglobalization. The blood-maddened thugs in Iraq, who would rather bring down the roof on a suffering people than allow them to vote, pictured prettily as "insurgents" or even, by Michael Moore, as the moral equivalent of our Founding Fathers. If this is liberal secularism, I'll take a modest, God-fearing, deer-hunting Baptist from Kentucky every time, as long as he didn't want to impose his principles on me (which our Constitution forbids him to do).
RTWT.

November 06, 2004

Can't we all just get along?

The internet novelty image cycle of violence:

Ouch!  Dude, way harsh!
The initiator

Oh!  Now that's low!
The response

(Via an emailer and SondraK)

November 04, 2004

Says it all

Here's an interesting statement from member of the sophisticated, progressive eastern media, Seymour Hersh of the New Yorker (who has another great tolerance-soaked quote in the previously mentioned Coyne piece). He was asked about Bush's agenda for the next four years:

In my view, he's got his mandate and he's going to carry on with his mantra--bringing democracy to the middle east. Pretty scary.
(Via Best of the Web Today.)

Spinning the spin

The word has gone out. Big Media is claiming George W. Bush won re-election only because of the crazed evangelicals that inhabit flyover country. Andrew Coyne takes apart their comforting explanation.

November 03, 2004

Yeah, he's smiling now...

Despite what many people would assume, Michael Moore was desperate for a Bush win. For him, Bush = $$$! Moore has been handed four more years! of leading the looney fringes of the left around in circles, sucking out their cash for his dishonest movies and books. Four more years! of being treated like royalty by the international culture mafia. And it's all thanks to his cash cow, George W. Bush. Try not to smile too broadly in public, Mikey, you hypocrite.

UPDATE: Of course, the relationship is symbiotic. W wrote Mike a thank you letter...

Baffled and amazed

The two Johnnies (and their lawyers) must be the only people in America who still think they have a chance to pull this thing off. But they can't. And still they refuse to admit it.

Unless Kerry gets Ohio, Bush will have at least 269 electoral votes (though he probably has New Mexico and Iowa too). Even if Bush only gets 269, the final decision will result from a special vote in the House of Representantives, which is controlled by the Republicans. Bush won the popular vote handily, so I doubt too many would be inclined support Kerry in this vote.

So Kerry has to win Ohio. Currently Bush is winning by 2.5% with only provisional ballots to be counted. There are about 150,000 of these ballots and Bush's vote count lead is about 125,000. The provisional ballots would almost all have to be accepted and all go the Kerry for him to win. There were many strange reports coming from Ohio before the election about registration fraud: bogus names, trading registration lists for crack, the dead rising to vote. Are these the types of votes Kerry wants to validate for his win? Does he and his legal team even imagine how dirty the fight over them could get?

Kerry's shown he's no Michael Dukakis or Walter Mondale. He did pretty well, but he still lost. He can still accept his defeat gracefully and become a distinguished elder statesman for his party. But he's running out of time -- he better do it soon.

UPDATE: I can't remember where I read that Bush had 269 electoral votes, but it doesn't appear to be right. He has 254 for sure, and probably has New Mexico (5), Iowa (7), and Ohio (20). So only Ohio matters now. But there's no 'razor-thin' margin there, it's still a 2.5% gap -- completely insurmountable. Give it up, John.

November 02, 2004

It's over

Bush is ahead in Florida by 54.5% to 44.5% with over 20% counted. He's also ahead about the same in Ohio (though with much less of the vote counted). This is enough for me to call this election. Congratulations, George W. Bush on your re-election!

Alec Baldwin, we don't want you in Canada. Try France.

UPDATE (8:46): Kerry's now slightly ahead in Ohio. Still a tiny sample though. I still think it's over...

UPDATE (8:57): Bush back up in Ohio (49% to 45%) with 3.5% counted. And he's extended his lead in Florida (Why won't they call it?). It's over. Really. A hundred thousand lawyers couldn't overturn this.

UPDATE (11:15): They still haven't called Florida for Bush, even with 94% of the vote in and Bush winning by 5%. Ohio still looking good -- it's over. Really. This time I'm really sure. I'm going to bed. (Some political junkie -- I know, I know...)

Jittery

I'm a little frazzled because I had a car accident last night. I only received a cut on my head, but I think the car is totaled. Just me in the car, luckily. Now I'm stressing about dealing with the insurance and figuring out how to manage our lives with just one car for the time being. It was my fault too, so I'm feeling stupid and angry with myself.

I'm also a little nervous about tonight. It's gonna be close. The last bunch of state polls varied so much it's hard to say what the voters are really thinking. One poll in Florida had Kerry up 5 (FOX!) while another had Bush up 8. And in Ohio, one had Bush up 6 and another had Kerry up 4. Strange, strange numbers. Tonight I'm going to be watching the blowdried nitwits on CNN huddled under the covers with a bottle of scotch in my hand. I hope to be nice and relaxed by ten o'clock -- one way or another.

November 01, 2004

Fear them

Jeff at Beautiful Atrocities takes a look at a possible Kerry cabinet. It's not pretty:

  • Madeleine Albright: Possible Secretary of State. When Al Qaeda attacked the USS Cole, murdering 17 US sailors, Albright argued against strikes on Al Qaeda camps because it would be bad PR. Argued US should wait until Israeli/Palestinian conflict 'settled'. If Gore had been elected, Albright would still be negotiating with the Taliban.
  • Jimmy Carter: Angling for admin post. Angel of death, friend of tyrants. Presided over worst foreign policy of 20th Century. More recent successes: Oslo accords inviting terrorist army to rule West Bank with predictable results, handing nuclear materials over to North Korea, & lending credibility to thug Hugo Chavez. If Carter had won in 1980, the Soviet Union would still exist.
  • Joe Biden: Possible Sec of State, already getting foreign policy experience trying to clean up Kerry's Allawi insult fiasco.
  • Paul Krugman: Said to be in running for admin post. Malignant narcissist who projects all his anxieties onto mythic figure of George Bush. Opposed every single Bush initiative to stimulate economy, but could never admit he was wrong.
  • Jamie Gorelick: Possible Attorney General. Clintonista with blood on her hands: author of infamous Justice Dept memo that reinforced walls between intelligence agencies & placed good PR over needs of intelligence (this, after 1993 WTC attack), & directly contributed to 9/11 intelligence failures.
  • Richard Holbrooke: Another Sec of State wannabe, whose beliefs dovetail nicely with Kerry's faith that War on Terror is really a police action, not a war.
  • Robert Reich: Clinton Labor Secretary, who famously penned essay stating Terrorism is not the greatest danger we face, equating murderous Islamonazis with Christians who oppose abortion & gay marriage. Cut his teeth writing economics treatises with Marxist Bernard Bluestone, in effect calling for central planning of US industry, scorned Reaganomics & lacks fundamental understanding of market economy.

October 31, 2004

Election prediction

It might seem strange for a Canadian to get so worked up about an election in another country, but I have. This year's American Presidential election fascinates me. Every day I check both the national and swing-state polls and read numerous opinion pieces about what the issues and strategies are in different parts of the nation. But like everyone else, I don't know what's going to happen on Tuesday. Bush still seems to be the favourite, but many polls are showing real strength for Kerry. There are many scenarios in which either of them could win.

My feeling is that Bush is doing better than the polls suggest. This election has been dominated by a real bias from the mainstream media, and I think some of that bias has tainted the polls. Whether they have stacked the numbers of Democrats surveyed, or manipulated the definition of a 'likely voter', I believe there is some element of institutional fudging of the data so they see what they want to see.

I also think the reappearance of Osama bin Laden will help Bush. He stated how he would like the election to go, and I don't think Americans are inclined to accomodate him.

Using those assumptions to tranform the present poll data, my view of how the states will go looks like this (using the Opinion Journal Electoral College Calculator):

I'd actually give Bush Pennsylvania, Michigan, New Jersey and Hawaii, but I've been too optimistic before, so I've toned it down a bit. This is a reasonable outcome, and it gives Bush a solid victory, which he'll need in the next four years. Come on, America, don't let me down.

UPDATE: A huge roundup of predictions for the election can be found at Les Jones's Blog.

October 30, 2004

Just say no to thugs

It seems Osama's latest video is an offer for a truce.

It is important to notice what he has stopped saying in this speech. He has stopped talking about the restoration of the Global Caliphate. There is no more mention of the return of Andalusia. There is no more anticipation that Islam will sweep the world. He is no longer boasting that Americans run at the slightest wounds; that they are more cowardly than the Russians. He is not talking about future operations to swathe the world in fire but dwelling on past glories. He is basically saying if you leave us alone we will leave you alone. Though it is couched in his customary orbicular phraseology he is basically asking for time out.

The American answer to Osama's proposal will be given on Election Day. One response is to agree that the United States of America will henceforth act like Sweden, which is on track to become majority Islamic sometime after the middle of this century. The electorate best knows which candidate will serve this end; which candidate most promises to be European-like in attitude and they can choose that path with both eyes open. The electorate can strike that bargain and Osama may keep his word. The other course is to reject Osama's terms utterly; to recognize the pleading in his outwardly belligerent manner and reply that his fugitive existence; the loss of his sanctuaries; the annihilation of his men are but the merest foretaste of what is yet to come: to say that to enemies such as he, the initials 'US' will always mean Unconditional Surrender.

Osama has stated his terms. He awaits America's answer.

I'm sure everybody can guess what I hope that answer will be. If it isn't, we've been given a taste of the future by none other than Walter Cronkite on the Larry King show:
And the thing that in bringing this threat to us, there is almost, in the fact that he dressed well, that he looked well, he was clean shaven, nearly clean shaven as those folks get. It seemed almost, to me, that he wanted to enter into negotiations, that he was really up -- he wants to move into a leadership role in international affairs instead of the role of a brigand. And he spoke calmly about this thing.
He seems to be suggesting that Osama bin Laden can be persuaded into negotations, can be reasoned with, and can eventually become a statesman (just like Arafat). Maybe I'm reading a little to much into this and Cronkite is simply being facetious, but I am sure that there are those who listen to bin Laden's words and believe him and think he can be trusted. And that scares me.

Guess who's a Michael Moore fan?

Fresh hate from Osama:

Bin Laden suggested Bush was slow to react to the Sept. 11 attacks, giving the hijackers more time than they expected. At the time of the attacks, the president was listening to schoolchildren in Florida reading a book.

"It never occurred to us that the commander-in-chief of the American armed forces would leave 50,000 of his citizens in the two towers to face these horrors alone," he said, referring to the number of people who worked at the World Trade Center.

"It appeared to him (Bush) that a little girl's talk about her goat and its butting was more important than the planes and their butting of the skyscrapers. That gave us three times the required time to carry out the operations, thank God," he said.

Mark Steyn will have to eat his hat.

How long before the conspiracy theorists suggest that the Bush administration held back this tape and released it themselves to Al-Jazeera?

October 24, 2004

Even with hindsight, Kerry can't decide

Bob Woodward wrote a book that came out this year called Plan of Attack, the writing of which involved deep questioning of Bush on why he made the decisions he did. Bush was very candid and spoke with Woodward for more than three and a half hours.

Woodward requested to give the same questions to John Kerry, to allow him to explain how his diplomacy would have been different. Kerry would have the benefit of hindsight, of course, so it would not be a very fair comparison with the decisions Bush made. The Kerry team was initially receptive to the idea, but have now backed down. Perhaps this 'plan' Kerry keeps talking about doesn't really exist?

The questions are quite interesting. Getting things ready for war involves numerous difficult decisions. Those (like Kerry) who trot out one error or miscalculation to 'prove' that the 'plan' for the war was a disaster are attempting to mislead their audience. Here's a few of the things Bush dealt with and the questions Kerry refused to answer:

10. In November-December 2002, major U.S. force deployments began but were strung out to avoid telling the world that war was all but inevitable and that diplomacy was over. Rumsfeld told the president that the large U.S. divisions could be kept in top fighting shape for only two to three months without degrading the force.

Questions: How might a President Kerry have handled this? What is the role of momentum in such a decision-making process?

11. On Dec. 21, 2002, CIA deputy John McLaughlin gave a major presentation to the president on the intelligence evidence that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. The president was not impressed and asked where the good, strong intelligence was. CIA Director George Tenet twice assured the president that the WMD case was a "slam dunk."

Questions: What might a President Kerry have done when he smelled weakness in an intelligence case?

12. On Jan. 9, 2003, the president asked Gen. Franks: What is my last decision point? Franks said it would be when Special Forces were put on the ground inside Iraq.

Question: Had the president already passed his last decision point when he ordered such a large military deployment and such extensive CIA covert action to support the military?

13. Around this time, in January 2003, Rumsfeld told the president that he was losing his options, and that after he asked U.S. allies to commit forces, it would not be feasible to back off. Rumsfeld asked to brief the Saudi ambassador, Prince Bandar bin Sultan. Vice President Cheney, Gen. Richard Myers and Rumsfeld briefed Bandar on Jan. 11, 2003, telling him "You can count on this" -- i.e., war.

Questions: Do you agree with Rumsfeld's assessment? Andy Card, the Bush White House chief of staff, thought the decision to go to war was not irrevocable, that Bush could pull back, though the consequences would be politically expensive. How does a president credibly threaten force without taking steps that make the use of force almost inevitable? Should foreign governments be briefed in this way?

Very interesting stuff. And unlike Kerry's pronouncements, it all takes place in the real world.

October 23, 2004

Terminal BDS

A member of the subtle, sophisticated European press may be the first person to perish from Bush Derangement Syndrome. This frothing, eyes-bugged-out tirade against Bush suggests that this reporter's head will probably explode from rage when Bush is re-elected:

Throughout the debate, John Kerry, for his part, looks and sounds a bit like a haunted tree. But at least he's not a lying, sniggering, drink-driving, selfish, reckless, ignorant, dangerous, backward, drooling, twitching, blinking, mouse-faced little cheat.
There's only one thing that will save this poor man:
On November 2, the entire civilised world will be praying, praying Bush loses. And Sod's law dictates he'll probably win, thereby disproving the existence of God once and for all. The world will endure four more years of idiocy, arrogance and unwarranted bloodshed, with no benevolent deity to watch over and save us. John Wilkes Booth, Lee Harvey Oswald, John Hinckley Jr - where are you now that we need you?
But maybe it's better to just let nature take its course.

October 18, 2004

Yet another vote for Bush

There's a thoughtful article in yesterday's Sunday Times in the UK from an American ex-pat Democrat who wants Bush to win. Her reasons pretty much mirror my own:

I have always believed in a better, more hopeful world. I am optimistic that the elections in Iraq will ultimately have a transforming effect on the country. I have no doubt that most Iraqis would like democracy to take root. As in Afghanistan, many of them seem eager to have the chance to vote, despite the insurgency. Freedom has a persuasive momentum of its own.

As for Kerry, he has been sounding more and more cynical with each passing suicide and car bomb. He is giving Iraqi insurgents who, true to their form under Saddam, relish killing their own people most of all every reason to step up their attacks in the hope of sabotaging their own elections and replacing Bush in the White House. It is the behaviour of a politician with more ambition than conscience.

(from Roger L. Simon, again)

October 13, 2004

Another debate

Despite my plans to ignore tonight's showdown, I somehow found myself muttering about what a phoney, condescensing, sanctimonious sack of pudding John Kerry is as I listened to him quote from an endless list of statistics. God, what a nightmare candidate that guy is. He can't win, please... he just can't...

Now there's a two minute review...

Another vote for Bush

A Jewish liberal in New York writes an essay on why she's voting for Bush. She prefers to remain anonymous, but I think there's many others who feel the same way.

...

You can not escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today, said President Lincoln at another decisive moment in our nations history. The War on Islamic Terror must be waged fully, humanely, and successfully. This monumental battle is both our burden and our privilege, for as Thomas Paine said when our country was born, If there must be trouble let it be in my day, that my child may have peace.

(via Roger L. Simon)

October 11, 2004

Kerry is all wet

There was a long, long piece on John Kerry in last week's New York Times Magazine. I never got around to reading the whole thing, but in many of the blogs I've browsed today people have taken little vignettes from it and analyzed them. The funniest clip was from today's Best of the Web:

On an evening in August, just after a campaign swing through the Southwest, Kerry and I met, for the second of three conversations about terrorism and national security, in a hotel room overlooking the Ferris wheel on the Santa Monica pier. A row of Evian water bottles had been thoughtfully placed on a nearby table. Kerry frowned.

"Can we get any of my water?" he asked Stephanie Cutter, his communications director, who dutifully scurried from the room. I asked Kerry, out of sheer curiosity, what he didn't like about Evian.

"I hate that stuff," Kerry explained to me. "They pack it full of minerals."

"What kind of water do you drink?" I asked, trying to make conversation.

"Plain old American water," he said.

"You mean tap water?"

"No," Kerry replied deliberately. He seemed now to sense some kind of trap. I was left to imagine what was going through his head. If I admit that I drink bottled water, then he might say I'm out of touch with ordinary voters. But doesn't demanding my own brand of water seem even more aristocratic? Then again, Evian is French--important to stay away from anything even remotely French.

"There are all kinds of waters," he said finally. Pause. "Saratoga Spring." This seemed to have exhausted his list. "Sometimes I drink tap water," he added.

I was just doubled over laughing after reading that. But it's also very revealing of the empty shell that Kerry's 20 years in the Senate have made of him. Not only can he not tell you what his 'plan' to fix Iraq is, he can't even be firm on what kind of water he prefers. He's been very shy of the press for the past two months, but finally allows a presumably sympathetic reporter from the Kerry-friendly Times to get close to him, but he's unable to uncurl himself from his defensive crouch.

Mark Steyn notes that Kerry has chosen to run as 'a cipher' -- a none-of-the-above candidate. Can 50% of the population of the United States fall for such a strategy? Unfortunately, he seems to be doing pretty well so far...

October 08, 2004

The debate: two minute review

I wasn't sure I was going to watch this thing tonight, but I did. I just went to check it out for a minute and it sucked me in. It was a much better format and I think it worked to make things much livelier and more interesting.

Bush was at the top of his game tonight, but I'll have to concede that Kerry was pretty quick and clever as well. I give the win to Bush though, he was knowledgable, quick, passionate and consistent. Kerry seemed a bit too bitter and cold. I say these things because I recognized from the first debate that what they say doesn't matter too much, it's how they say it. And in the first debate Bush was distracted and sour, and Kerry was quick and focused -- and that's pretty much all I remember about it. (Well okay, I also remember that most of what Kerry said was utter horseshit.)

I found most of the tonight's debate easy to watch, but there were a couple of moments when I cringed like I've never cringed before. And that was when Kerry had to disagree with a questioner (usually about abortion). He would be so extremely patronizing to them that I just couldn't watch it. He would prattle on and on about how much he respects their morals, and understands their concerns, and values their views... Aaargh! Just get to the point already dammit!

I think this guy has a serious difficulty with conflict. Make him the President, and in comparison Jimmy Carter will seem to have the will of Churchill.

Okay, that was fifteen minutes; time for bed.

October 02, 2004

Kerry assumes the position

The debate? I heard it proved Kerry can look Presidential. But he's finding it hard to maintain that image...

October 01, 2004

Found: the 'Global Test'

John Kerry said during the debates last night that he would only use military force if it passed a 'global test'. A reader of Instapundit named Randy Pickett managed to get a copy of the test from someone who took it last year, and here are the questions:

Global Test for Pre-emptive Military Action by the U.S.

1. Is the U.S. President a Republican?
2. Could this action possibly stabilize oil production?
3. Are France and Germany supplying the intended target with weapons or advice?
4. Would any small time thugocracy with a seat on the Security Council feel threatened?
5. Are family members of high ranking U.N. bureaucrats benefiting financially from the status quo?
6. Is this action likely to enhance Americas power in the world?
7. Would this action further the goals of free market/free trade advocates?
8. Would this action make the U.N. look weak and inconsistent?
9. Would this action divide the countries of the European Union?
10. Would this action be seen as offensive to a world religion (other than Christianity and Judaism)?

If the answer to any of these is yes, you can forget about it. Keep the tanks in the garage.

LA to NY

I hate music videos, but this one is really worth watching. Makes me want to get out on the road. But the song is, well... eh.

September 30, 2004

It's hard work... but we're getting the job done...

I'm watching the debates. I'm kind of drunk-blogging like Stephen Green, but working with scotch instead of martinis. The wife is out absorbing some culture with her mother.

I'm biased, sure, but John Kerry is turning me off like no one before. Neither is doing all that great, constantly repeating (and repeating and repeating) the same points, but Kerry's raising the hair on the back of my neck. His points seem cheap and petty and I still don't understand what he'd do differently. He's saying over and over that Bush did it wrong and didn't get enough allies for the war on Iraq, but damned if I can figure out how he could have done it all better. Not that that matters anymore, what is he going to do now? Kerry hasn't said -- I guess that's his strategy for the debate.

Bush is looking a little too petulent during his idle moments and I think that's going to hurt him a bit.

Oooh, nice softball question for Bush, "Are there any character issues about John Kerry that suggest he will not be a good president?" You can guess the answer.

Kerry, jutting out his chin: "I have no intention of wilting and I've never wilted in my life!" I'm laughing so hard I'm tearing up.

Kerry's using lots of little factoids, but they just look petty. Bush is dealing with the real world; it's easy to pick out little errors and say these mistakes wouldn't happen with him -- but not believable.

Kerry wants bilateral talks with North Korea. What ever happened to involving America's allies?

Kerry's closing statement: "I have a plan!" But what? What it is? I still don't know.

Bush's closing statement: "We must be steadfast and resolute and strong."

It's over. Now CNN has unleased their spin analysers. My head is lolling on my neck after only two minutes of listening to them. What a bore. My opinion? Draw. No one managed to draw any blood. So Bush won. I'm going to bed.

UPDATE: Roger Simon also liveblogged the debate. He was somewhat repulsed by Kerry too. Damian Penny also covered it at gave the win to Kerry.

UPDATE II: Allah has the mother of all roundups on the debate.

UPDATE III: Make sure you check the comments for this post. Alexa, the Canadian New York City Republican, tears JFK II a new one. It's so good she posted it twice.

What's Kerry going to say about this?

The was a horrific suicide bomb attack in Baghdad today that killed over 40 people, most of them children. Will John Kerry bring up these deaths in the debates tonight and try to lay them at George Bush's feet? Is he that desperate and depraved?

You would think he wouldn't be, but last week John Kerry gave a speech where he essentially painted the picture of Iraq being a hopeless disaster. And then there was this defeatist TV ad:

"Over 1,000 US soldiers dead, kidnappings, even beheadings of Americans," an announcer says as images of Iraqi explosions and street battles fill the screen. "Still Bush has no plan what to do in Iraq. How can you solve a problem when you can't see it?"
If it's fair game to blame these things on Bush, then certainly Kerry will jump at the chance to cash in on a bunch of dead kids, right? Well, no. I really don't think he will; he doesn't dare to seem to be that crass. But why are brutal kidnappings and murders okay to use as weapons against Bush while the mass slaughter of children isn't?

There was an editorial in the NY Times last weekend denying that there was anything wrong with a presidential candidate 'accentuating the negative' in the war on Iraq and stating that it was "despicable politics" to suggest "that Mr. Kerry's criticisms dispirit the Iraqi people and American soldiers". Well, it's not. It's the truth, and it's very simple to understand.

The goal of terrorism is to terrorize. They want their targets to feel fear, to feel helpless, and to give up hope. Anyone amplifying their negative message is doing their bidding, giving them a public victory and making them stronger. The media does this all the time; I call it the media-terrorist feedback loop. Can anyone doubt that these bastards feel very pleased with themselves when John Kerry uses their work to attack George Bush?

So do I think terrorism should be off limits as a subject for debate in the election? Mostly, yeah. Both candidates should be very clear that they are serious about terrorism and that there will be a democratic Iraq -- whoever wins. This a war -- there's a common enemy and it's important not to forget that in the heat of the campaign. Kerry should make it very clear that it is the terrorists that are responsible for the atrocities in Iraq, not Bush, and make his hay with objections to the rationale for the war, not the final result.

September 28, 2004

Mr. Wonka, one of your Oompa-Loompas is missing

Orange you going to vote for me?Poor John Kerry just can't seem to catch a break. Today he's got his new skin colouration to take away the oxygen from whatever policy position he's promoting lately. I'm assuming some consultant determined that Kerry was too pale and needed a bit of colour -- too bad those tanning pills can sometimes turn you orange. And just before the debates too, that's gotta hurt.

This is funny, but it also goes to the heart of what's wrong with Kerry. The moral of many after-school specials was, 'just be yourself'. It's still good advice. But for Kerry, after 20 years in the Senate doing the Zelig thing with every person he met, there's no self left to be. Bush is frequently considered by the clever people to be just the friendly front for those that manage him, but certainly gives the impression at least that there's someone in there. Kerry is the result of competing focus groups and consultancy reports. He does what he's told by the last 'expert' to see him -- which has resulted in the present chaotic mess of conflicting policies and postures. I'm interested to see what mode he'll be set to for the debates.

UPDATE: It didn't take too long for the photoshoppers to go to work.

September 22, 2004

Two more votes for Bush

Black Gay Republicans Break With Log Cabin Republicans, Endorse Bush.

(via Best of the Web)

Hatchet jobs

Here's some good reading if you're one of those people (like me) who enjoy seeing pompous public figures ruthlessly carved up by savage prose. There's 'The anchor as madman' by Bryan Curtis on Dan Rather (some more juicy background material on Gunga Dan can be found here), and 'The Kerryness of Kerry' featuring Mark Steyn with his cruelty setting turned up to 11.

Okay, the kids are up. I've got my chair and whip -- I'm going in...

Waiting for a call from the Secret Service

I ran into John Kerry last night playing Unreal Tournament 2004. Actually it was JOHN_KERRY and he was armed with a flak cannon rather than his favourite M-16. And I really did run into him -- I drove over him with my hellbender...

Landslide!

Look what's been happening with the Presidential futures market.

September 21, 2004

Just how stupid are these guys?

I haven't been joining in on the blogworld's feeding frenzy over Dan 'investigative reporting without fear or favoritism' Rather's incredibly lame 'scoop' that blew up in his face, but I have been following it closely. (How could you read blogs and not?) Now that the documents have been proven bogus, hasty defences are being built to try to salvage some of CBS's reputation and prevent any of this mess from sticking to John Kerry. But I don't think they're going to hold. They are quite amusing though; check out Allah's comments on the latest developments.

I tell you, when they make the movie of this story, the whole soundtrack is going to be calliope.

September 03, 2004

...which in Texas is called walking

I watched Bush's big speech last night. I'd like to write a thoughtful explanation of why I support Bush and why I enjoyed the speech, but my mind is foggy this morning. Go read Stephen Green's thoughts instead, I agree with all of them.

Cynicism is hard-wired into my brain (and I don't think I'll ever be able to overcome it), but I found myself believing Bush much more than I scoffed. He's attempting some big and needed changes to US government, and he impressed me by bringing these ideas forward. His goal of marching freedom forward also resonated with me, and I liked the big, big vision of making the 21st century a time for liberty to triumph.

I did scoff a few times though. The intro for him was a little over the top, I think. When he finally showed up I was surprised he wasn't descending from above, wreathed in smoke and dressed in a shining suit of armour. In his speech, he talked about reducing government regulation for businesses and simplifying the tax laws, but also talked about new business programs and new tax credits. And then there was lots of Clintonian fluff about providing community health clinics and new programs to get people into college. For some reason though, I don't think these 'mommy politics' issues will change the perceptions of those that think he's the new face of fascism. But he keeps trying...

Overall, I think the convention has put Bush neatly into the driver's seat. Kerry made a speech right after W wrapped up, and it sounded a little grasping. I mean, he's still talking about what Bush did during Vietnam? What does he think this will accomplish? (Read this for a very neat takedown of Kerry.) Bush is advancing new ideas and offering a clear vision for the future. Kerry is whining and throwing out conspiracy theories. Not that tough a choice for America.

August 31, 2004

Liz Dole, please STFU...

I am suddenly reminded why I disliked Republicans so much when I was younger. This woman is so santimonious and condescending -- lecturing on abortion and gay marriage -- that she's no doubt reversing much of the momentum Bush has been building for the last few months. I'm sure she'll be the lead on tomorrow's news.

UPDATE: Well, what do I know? For all I've heard on the news, it's like she wasn't there. If she made that speech in Canada, we'd never hear the end of it.

Arnold and Laura Bush were a perfect antidote to her narrow views. While Dole preached that the most important thing for Republicans was to shove their morals down other people throats, Arnold made it clear he considered the Republicans to be the party of freedom and opportunity. It's lucky for W that he's a lot more memorable a figure.

August 23, 2004

Just Imagine

Bush in the debates, as envisioned by Will Collier:

"Senator, you say we need to repair relations with our allies, but you've spent your own campaign insulting Americas best friends in the world. You may think we really need the help of people who wouldnt join us when we asked them to, but I'll take allies like Australia and Italy and Great Britain any day of the week. You seem to think we ought to throw our truest friends overboard in favor of governments and organizations that'd rather pursue pacifism and appeasement, or who've made corrupt deals with our adversaries. I think that's a poor choice.

"I also think you owe our real allies, the ones who've fought and bled right alongside our own troops, an apology. It does not befit a United States Senator, much less a president, to refer to the British and Poles and Australians and Japanese and South Koreans and all our other truest friends as 'fraudulent' or 'coerced.' They are free people who have honorably fought at our side, and they deserve our deepest thanks, not your insults."

The only unlikely thing about that statement is that I can't imagine Bush making even that mild of an indirect attack on the French.

August 20, 2004

A fish in a barrel

That's what John Kerry seems like now. The latest Swift Vets ad is something no amount of spin will protect him from. It's a powerful blow to Kerry. It's tough to reach the Swift Vet site right now so I'll summarize it. It simply juxtaposes the extremely vile and untruthful testimony Kerry gave to the Senate after he got back from Vietnam, with vets' stories of their own experience and how much those lies hurt them. Simple and effective.

Kerry is the rebound candidate. By that I don't mean that he'll come back from this setback, but that he was hastily picked when the Democrats decided to dump Howard Dean. They needed someone who wasn't as insanely anti-war, could keep his cool, and who had a pulse. But because he was propelled to the front-runner position so quickly, he didn't get the thorough checking out that the primary process usually ensures. Twenty years in the Senate is enough time to say and do a lot of stupid things; and those stupid things were mostly overlooked. But it turns out Kerry started before he even got there...

August 16, 2004

9/11 Art

After I saw the Blue Man Group show in Vegas, I thought it was the best show I'd ever seen. A year later, I saw it again, and it was still the best show I'd ever seen. It mixed comedy, strange theatre, and amazing music into an incredible package. That was a few years ago, and I haven't been back to Vegas since. In their shows today, they apparently include a video relating to the September 11th attacks. It's available on the web, and is quite moving: Exhibit 13.

(Via the Truth Laid Bear.)

August 06, 2004

P.J. and Powell

P.J. O'Rourke has a long, frank discussion with Secretary of State Powell. Very, very interesting reading.

(via the Campblog)

August 04, 2004

Maybe running on that Vietnam record wasn't the best idea...

This is going to hit Kerry hard. It seems the only thing Kerry is selling himself on is that he is a decorated Vietnam veteran. When it becomes widely known that most of his fellow officers from that time consider him a liar and a fraud, what's left? Check out this photo that shows the extent of his support among other Swift boat commanders from Coastal Division 11. And I'm sure those that declare him 'unfit' are willing to appear on talk shows to back up their stand...

I think this is going to be a major campaign issue.

August 02, 2004

Calling all weekend anarchists

Allah has the goods on the loonies' plans for the Republican convention at the end of this month. It sounds like all the other brick-thrower conventions have just been trial runs for this one. It'll be interesting to see what the cops come up with to counter them and how big a boost Bush support will get from people who want to disassociate themselves with this madness.

July 30, 2004

Love me, Love my Winnipeg

Pity the poor spam writer that was asked to try to entice people to Winnipeg in a mail message I just got. I mean, I like Winnipeg, but to actually go there as a tourist destination? Here's what she (and why do I assume a 'she'?) came up with:

Winnipeg - Summer fun in the sun!

It's almost Augustand that means it's almost Folklorama time in Winnipeg! 2004 marks the 35th anniversary of this joyous celebration of multiculturalism. But even if you can't make it for the festivities, you'll find plenty to do and see here. Shop, dine, and stroll in the Forks; cool off in the breeze at Portage and Main, the "windiest spot in Canada"; watch the Blue Bombers playor just hop on the water bus and explore the city via the Red and Assiniboine Rivers. Ready to plan your Winnipeg getaway?

Uh, no. Thanks, really, but no. But when (if?) that exciting Human Rights money pit is opened... the answer is still no.

July 29, 2004

And they're even more stupid now...

Dave Barry on the '88 DNC in Atlanta:

But some friends and I went out there to the protest zone, which was then kind of a new idea, and we put boxes on our heads.

Mine was a telephone box; we had little slits cut into them. And we just stood there -- three guys wearing boxes on our heads. And within I would say five minutes, we had a media clot of several hundred people around us. We had print reporters, we had photographers. I mean, because as soon as one goes over they all start running over, and then the clot gets to its critical mass, where as far as these people are concerned its the Kennedy assassination, and theyre just running to get there because it might be news. And theyd ask us like who are you, and wed say were people with boxes on our heads, you know? We were very honest -- we never said there was any protest or anything -- and then we were the lead protests in the AP roundup the next day, and we were in hundreds of papers. And we all wrote columns -- we all three of us were columnists -- about how stupid it was, and then I got these furious phone calls all the next day. I had to leave the bureau because of the just endless calls from editors, asking me why wed hoaxed the media. And I said well, we didnt hoax the media, we had boxes on our heads and we said we had them. Youre the idiots who put it in the newspaper!

July 28, 2004

Who's alienating the world again?

Jimmy Carter once again shows why he so richly deserves his Idiotarian of the Year Award. In a speech at the DNC in which he blames Bush for "a devastating reduction in the basic esteem that the rest of the world has for our country", he describes the nations aiding the US in Iraq as "a handful of little tiny countries supposedly helping us".

I think calling the United Kingdom, Poland, Japan, Australia, Norway, the Netherlands, Italy and all the rest 'little tiny countries' who can only 'supposedly' help in a prepared speech is a bit worse than Rumsfeld's offhand comment about 'Old Europe'. Expect to hear about it quite a bit less though.

(via No Pasarn!)

Dave Barry on the DNC

I'm vaguely aware of some kind of political event happening in Boston. It's apparently pretty boring, but Reason Magazine's Convention Blog is covering it in an amusing fashion. But Dave Barry's coverage beats them hands down:

The convention continues tonight, with the theme being: ''Making America Stronger through the Strength of Strongness.'' The idea here is to convince doubtful voters that the Democrats can be trusted to be tough on terrorism and won't create some kind of feel-good liberal bleeding-heart program like enrolling terrorists in bowling leagues.

Emphasis on this theme will continue through Thursday night, when, to climax the convention, an actual live terrorist will be released onstage, and John Kerry will beat him senseless with a hockey stick, after which John Edwards will sue him.

Read the rest on the Miami Herald's site. You'll have to register, but it's worth it.

UPDATE: Best of the Web has also been working hard making this event seem interesting. Today James Taranto fills us in on what the hard-working crackpots drawn to the lights are up to.

July 22, 2004

Hot air from Spitzer

I've generally supported New York Attorney General Elliot Spitzer's assaults on white collar criminals over the past few years. Companies have a legal obligation to manage their shareholder's investments properly and report accurately on what's going on. Even whan he went after Richard Grasso for the novel crime of being paid too much money, I supported what he was doing. If the price of getting corporate leaders to once again think about their duties to their shareholders was a publicity-seeking and ambitious Attorney General, well, so be it.

But now he's gone completely off the rails. He and some of his fellow AGs have decided it's up to them to save the world. They've decided to sue the largest power-generating companies in the US for contributing to the greenhouse effect. They're not after money, but they aim to force these companies to reduce their carbon emissions by amounts they specify.

There's so many things wrong with this that it's hard to know where to start. First, power utilities are already the most heavily-regulated industry in the world today. Countless agencies, departments, and regulators spin huge threads of red tape around these companies, making it extremely difficult for them to raise rates, build new capacity, or shutdown old plants. California's energy crunch of a few years ago was the direct result of populist politicians strangling the companies that made their air conditioners work. More restrictions will just create the conditions for more blackouts in the future.

Second, even if global-warming was real, it's not as if the power companies can just flip a switch and reduce carbon emissions. These emissions are a result of our modern lifestyle. It's as if they want to use a lawsuit to free us from the shame of being affluent -- by putting the blame on those that supply our needs.

Third, this is just so obviously politically motivated:

State officials spoke passionately yesterday at a news conference in New York about the urgency of climate change and their dismay at the Bush administration.

"We cannot stand idly by while our planet is so endangered," Connecticut Attorney-General Richard Blumenthal said. "To citizens around the country, they ought to expect more from our federal government. We're here because the federal government has abdicated its responsibility."

New York Attorney-General Eliot Spitzer called climate change "a global problem that virtually every other major industrialized country in the world is addressing, except the U.S."

What horseshit. Every other industrialized country is talking about doing something (even the US), but no one has really done anything. But these guys can get up in front of the cameras and say 'Bush is recklessly throwing away our future, but we're here to save the world.' Sure.

Still, there could be good things to come out of these suits. I imagine they'll have to prove harm by these power companies in order to impose these new conditions. Competing 'experts' in the courtroom! This could turn out to be the Scopes Monkey Trial for the premier sacred cow of the environmental movement.

July 21, 2004

NYTimes suggests limp response to Sudan crisis

Nicholas D. Kristof of the NY Times writes an op-ed (registration required) about the situation in Darfur today. In it, he starts off well with the story of a missionary named Carl Wilkens, who stood against the genocidal mobs in Rwanda armed only with his will and reputation, and saved hundreds of lives. It's a great story, but now there's a similar nightmare happening in the Sudan against the Fur, the blacks living in the south of that country. What can be done about it?

Kristof (rightly) complains about the Bush administration's weak response to the crisis, but his proposed solution isn't going to help anyone:

The U.S. needs to send massive aid shipments and take much tougher steps, like issuing an ultimatum that will lead to a no-flight zone over most of Darfur until the Sudanese government disarms the genocidal Janjaweed militia. That would get Khartoum's attention.
A no-fly zone and more aid packages? And this is going to stop roving bands of genocidal killers how? This is a low-tech atrocity. Sure, there have been some occasions where military aircraft have been used in this campaign, but for the most part this is just the latest instance of the ancient art of ethnic cleansing. The War Nerd explains how it works:
1. Arm the nomad militias so they outgun the farmers. The Sudan government sent 50,000 automatic rifles and machine guns to the Arab militias in Darfur. Also provide them with Army advisors and air support, and force them into effective cross-tribal alliances.

2. Block off entry for the foreign aid agencies, so nobody'll see what's about to happen. This is something the Sudan government has learned to do REAL well. They managed to almost wipe out the Dinka without a word from our democracy-loving government.It helps that southern and western Sudan are so hard to reach. Like I've said before, inland peoples are out of luck. Ask the Kurds.

3. Send the nomad militias in to burn the villages. Tell them they can have whatever they can grab, and rape anybody they happen to like the look of. Tell them to be sure to burn the village real thoroughly, so nobody can live there again. (Lots of Fur villages have been burned two, three, four times.)

4. Once the Fur are pushed off their land, squeeze them into concentration camps, with the militias coming in to rape and kill the inmates every few hours, just to keep them scared.

5. Keep all food away from them. This is the key technique. It's not an "atrocity" or an "excess," it's the whole point. Read up on ancient warfare if you need to see how sieges work. Even if you don't wipe out the whole tribe, you'll have killed or stunted the children, so you're changing the balance in your favor in the next round of fighting.

There is a way to stop this, but it's quite clear no one in the Western World has the will of Carl Wilkens. A military force would have to go in and protect what remains of the Fur and ensure that supply routes for aid are protected. But this would involve breaking the sovereignty illusion -- that the Sudan is a country like all others and it's borders must not be violated. Mark Steyn puts it bluntly:
One day, historians will wonder why the most militarily advanced nations could do nothing to halt men with machetes and a few rusting rifles. After Kitchener's victory over the dervishes at Omdurman, Belloc wrote:

"Whatever happens/ We have got/ The Maxim gun/ and they have not."

We've tossed out the Maxim gun for daisycutters and cruise missiles. In Darfur, meanwhile, the Janjaweed on their horses are no better armed than the dervishes were. But we're powerless against them because we've fetishised poseur-multilateralism as the only legitimate form of intervention.

I'd like to believe that President Bush would have been willing to use American military power to prevent what has happened and is going to happen in the Sudan. However, with the extrordinary opposition he's faced in freeing people in Afghanistan and Iraq, he has no room to maneuver on this. We'll never know what he would have been done. Diplomats expressing 'concern', 'serious concern', and perhaps tabling a motion or two is all the Fur can expect from the West. It's really quite hard to believe, but it's true.

UPDATE: Actually, they'll be lucky if they get that: Sudan Militia Still Attack, UN Sanctions Unlikely.

Take the CinC test

Phil O'Connor at Tech Central Station has an article up on some of the great tests of leadership of past presidents.

General Washington in 1776. You've lost every battle and the Revolution seems a bust. Your spies tell you that the British officers are wintering in New York City and you think that means the Hessians will get falling down drunk on Christmas Eve and sleeping it off next morning. However, they are the world's best soldiers and will beat you if they are awake, sober or not. Also, the Delaware River is full of ice and your guys have no food or shoes. And many New Jerseyites are Tories who might rat you out. Do you roll the dice to change the course of the war, figuring the Germans don't like fighting on Christmas, or do you wait for spring time rather than risk what little is left of the Continental Army?
Hindsight is great, isn't it? You probably knew what to do. How about this?
President (Plug in Name of Your Choice) in February 2005. The CIA and South Korean and Japanese intelligence agree that radio traffic and satellite photos of North Korea, where no one has human spy assets, is facing a famine and that it has massed troops to invade South Korea in a few days, after smuggling a nuclear bomb into a major Japanese city to blackmail Japan and the US into giving them a free hand. What do you do?

July 08, 2004

They indicted Lay, finally

Ken Lay surrendered to the FBI today to face charges for his role in the collapse of Enron. The extremely long wait for an indictment is probably due to the care in which the case has been built against him. They want to get this guy, and I'm sure they have the evidence they need.

If I had the time, I'd probably really enjoy reading a good book on what happened at that company. For the last couple of years they were hiding liabilities in a complex financial shell game using Special-Purpose Entities. If these liabilities were reported correctly, Enron would have been posting losses, and Lay and his partners in crime would not rich and celebrated as business geniuses.

Enron was involved in bringing together the buyers and sellers of various commodities. They bought and sold complex futures contracts and supposedly made money off the spread. In reality the company was a problem gambler, making foolish deals to stay 'in the game' and resorting to more and desperate measures to hide its mounting losses. The type of man that would be able to know about all this corruption and yet continue to encourage others to hand them more money deserves a harsh sentence.

This is a big story. His trial might rival Saddam's or OJ's for the amount of coverage it gets. Much of this excitement in the media will have to do with imaginings on how this reflects on President Bush. After all, they were friends, right? Lay donated money to Bush's campaign, right? Unfortunately for them, they'll find no evidence of Presidential favours given to Enron. When the company was going down, Bush didn't lift a finger to help them. Even when the company was on the top of the world, Bush pulled the plug on the Kyoto Protocol, dashing Enron's hopes of managing the global carbon market.

I think Lay's going to plea not guilty. This will be an interesting trial.

UPDATE: Whaddya know, the Democrats are already starting to fling mud at Bush over this: Bush Ties to Enron, Big Business Back in Spotlight.

July 06, 2004

The only F911 review you need to read

Many of the blogs I frequent have linked to fiskings of Monsieur Moore's latest silly movie. There's these fifty-nine deceits pulled together by Dave Kopel, there's this piece from Newsweek, and a comprehensive takedown from Spinsanity. Moore has threatened to sue anyone that calls him a liar but so far there's been no word of him following through. You think the threat was maybe just another media stunt?

Anyway. I still haven't heard what the movie's like. I have no intention of seeing it, but I am a little bit interested in what I'm missing. Luckily, Liberal Larry braved the evil forces of Bush and Ashcroft to actually go to a theatre and see it, and sends this report:

For all it's hype, the movie starts out somewhat slow and confusing. Michael Moore is being chased across what is either an ice planet or Flint, Michigan in wintertime, by Ashcroft's brutal dissent-crushing thugs. I might add that Moore is looking fantastic. Gone are his trademark undulating rolls of fat, to be replaced by a hard, svelte physique that makes the Governator look like a 98-pound weakling. Moore's obviously been working out, and he kicks major neocon ass through the whole movie. There's something weird going on with his eyes, though. I've never been one for the vanity of colored contacts, let alone the glow-in-the-dark style Mike is sporting. Yet symbolically, they fit him to a "T". After all, he's a man with vision, who can see through the cold darkness of Bushie lies and right into the heart of pure Truth.

After making short order of the goons and stealing their spaceship, Moore takes his camera to Iraq, where Bush's junta already has a hegemonic stranglehold on the innocent, befuddled populace. Seeking to impose a fascist theocracy upon all human life, Bush moves from nation-state to nation-state, ordering all to either convert or die. "You're either with us, or against us!" Bush proclaims as he rips the very soul out of one plucky ACLU lawyer who dares question him.

Bush's show of cowboy machismo doesn't phase Michael Moore, who flexes his muscles and growls "I wanna piece of YOU!" to one of Dubya's subordinates. The audience is then treated to a very thrilling knife fight that ends with a neocon lying dead at Moore's feet.

If you plan to see the movie, be careful when reading the rest of the review. There's a major spoiler at the end.

May 28, 2004

Lileks on hypocrisy

Lileks has a great bleat today on the hypocrisy of those hoping for failure in Iraq:

If anyone thinks Europe is three or four more times as democratic as America he is living in a dream world. A world where Russia lectures us about treatment of Muslim detainees, France is a model of nation-building, the Patriot act muzzles the press, and China is deeply concerned about the sovereignty of conquered nations.
Read the whole thing -- even the bit about his daughter having a shopping cart fall on her...

May 24, 2004

Oh, that's the plan...

Finally revealed, the truth of President Bush's plans for world domination:

I believe President Bush and Donald Rumsfeld's thinking goes along these lines:

The American population is growing about 0.92 percent a year; 66.7 percent of that very same population is between the ages of 15 and 64 and these same people are having about 14 babies a year per 1,000. At this rate, we need to greatly reduce the male half of the population.

Without the males, females will slow down and, in some cases, stop breeding. This will move us in the direction of a more controllable number of people, mostly weak women. By sending large quantities of men to fight this war in Iraq that we've cooked up, we can eliminate many of the stronger ones.

The children who lose fathers in this war, especially the boys who won't have a father's guidance, will succumb to depression and have possible suicidal tendencies. The surviving female children will be hardened by losses and by their mothers who turn bitter and tough. We'll give these children one great thing to hold onto and strive toward, an absolute sense of patriotism; not just faith in our country, but unshakable faith in our president and other leaders since we are in fact guided by God himself.

We will make machines out of these children, willing to die for any course we decide to lay out for them. We will keep some of the weaker ones in the factories to build our weapons and machines for our continued plan of world domination.

I never would have believed it, but there are people out there that make Michael Moore's view of the world seem rational.

(from Best of the Web Today)

May 12, 2004

Does the Gore Curse extend to the movies?

Al Gore wants everybody to see the upcoming disaster flick The Day After Tomorrow. Even he admits the movie is implausable, but he and his friends at MoveOn see global warming as an issue they can use to land a few blows on Bush -- so who cares about realism?

Gore has been the touch of death for Howard Dean and the left-wing radio network Air America. Can he turn $125 million of 20th Century Fox's money into dust too? Somehow I think a leaflet campaign by MoveOn isn't going to encourage the typical popcorn crowd. Summer movies are usually well-advised not to be preachy, and by tying the movie to an anti-Bush fringe movement they'll be alienating half their potential audience. It should be interesting to see what happens; it opens May 28.

I know I won't be there. I'd rather go see Soul Plane that weekend.

May 11, 2004

The two types of appeasement

I'm a little late in linking to this, but Victor Hanson has a great piece up on Opinion Journal. He gives an overview of how the policy of appeasement towards Islamic terrorism over the last twenty-five years has led only to more violence and destruction. It's a long piece, but it analyzes the most serious problem our civilization is facing with remarkable clarity. I know some of my very few regular readers are against the war in Iraq and don't think anything can be solved with military force. Well, I challenge you to read this article and take another look at things.

There's another kind of appeasement that's not as dangerous to our civilization but can wreck political careers -- and that's appeasement of the media. I think the best example is from a press conference by Kim Campbell given during the election in which the Progressive Conservative party was destroyed. She had been badgered by reporters concerning the costs of new helicopters ordered by her predecessor, and in front of the press, she caved in and tried to negotiate a new deal that might be acceptable to them. She was through after that moment.

George W. Bush has been facing similar pressure from the press regarding the future of Donald Rumsfeld and how he should make amends for the prisoner abuse scandal. After he groveled a bit, the pressure only got louder. He stood his ground yesterday and gave his solid support to his Secretary of Defense. He also stated firmly that he is not going to look for a way to sneak out of Iraq. The job is going to be finished. Look for the indignant demands from the press to abate.

Appeasement never works. It it only whets your enemies' appetites.

April 14, 2004

Should Bush apologize?

The headline for the CBC Radio News coverage of Bush's speech/press conference last night was President Bush refuses to apologize for 9/11! All that other stuff he said about his commitment to create a free Iraq was barely mentioned.

I watched most of the show last night. At least two reporters brought up the issue of an apology, one who suggested that "some people" find it very arrogant he won't do the head-bowed I'm sorry thing that Richard Clarke did in the 9/11 hearings.

But why should he apologize? Did Roosevelt apologize for Pearl Harbor? Did Clinton apologize for Oklahoma City? Of course not. But in those cases everyone knew who the enemy was and there was no dispute over who the anger should be directed at. But for the sins of radical Islam, there is a large part of the population that is unwilling to put the blame where it belongs.

It's a very maddening thing. Islamic terrorists kill 200 in Madrid and what happens? The fury that should be directed towards the intolerant and repressive ideology that the terrorists were inspired by is instead directed at the US:

"This is all the fault of the United States; they got us into this," said Santiago Ruz, a 55-year-old electrician who lives in suburban Legans, a block from where the four suspects killed themselves and a police officer on Saturday. "The way to combat terrorism isn't the way Bush has done. Spain is paying the consequences of its solidarity with the United States."
What a dope. No doubt he has been traumatized by what happened in his country, but he's unable to blame the true culprits. In all of the recent terrorist acts in the past few years there's been a similar tendency by a significant part of the population to attribute the blame to their own culture or government in some way.

This is at the heart of the press's need for an apology from Bush. There is this pervasive idea that the Western world has done something it must apologize for. It is as if the terrorists are wild animals that we have inadvertently provoked in some way. Certainly it's difficult to understand the rationals of people willing to kill themselves in order to murder innocent people, but to deny that they are human is to deny that they are responsible. And they are responsible.

March 20, 2004

Thirteen reasons why the Republicans will likely win

There was an article in the Post today titled, "Thirteen reasons why the Republicans will likely lose". It's by a professor of political science named Clifford Orwin, who probably follows this stuff better than I do. Still, I think his piece is mostly a lot of wishful thinking -- Bush holds all the cards right now. Right off the top of my head I can list a bunch of reasons why:

1) The Incumbent Advantage - Being the incumbent brings many benefits. He can use Air Force One to campaign, he will get press coverage for any policy announcements, and the type of administration he will run is known.

2) Foreign Policy Achievements - Let Victor Hanson describe it:

In less than 3 years we took out the world's 2 worst regimes--and fostered consensual government, not dictators in their place. Al Qaeda is on the run.

Libya is coming clean. Pakistan is helping hunt down OBL and revealing its nuclear roguery, a far cry from its pre-911 behavior. Iran is worried about a revolution and an unpredictable US. Soon no more troops in Saudi Arabia. Arafat is lord of his rubble heap, not in the Lincoln bedroom each month.

So what if the French were annoyed by this? I don't expect the American people to care.

3) Optimism - Bush's message is optimistic. He feels Iraq can become a prosperous and democratic nation and America can compete in international trade. Kerry is pessimistic and wants the UN to lead in Iraq and feels there should be laws to protect American workers. Positive messages sell.

4) The Economy - Not great, but not that bad either. Though I personally feel there's a lot of ugliness buried away to resurface someday, that someday will be after the election. The economy will not be that big an issue.

5) John Kerry's Past - Kerry came up from behind quickly in the primary race and avoided the close scrutiny that front runners get. Now he's getting that scrutiny and he's starting to look shaky. He's been in the Senate a long time, giving his opponents a rich source for finding boneheaded statements and low-level sleaze. He's also been back and forth on the big issues of the day, adopting whatever posture seems appropriate at the time. He's a classic weathervane politician. How many times will he spin during the long, long election campaign?

6) John Kerry's Frenchness - This one may be a little unfair, but I think it'll have an effect nonetheless. The French love Kerry. If I had the HTML skill and the time, the word love in the previous sentence would have little red hearts bubbling out of it. They just adore the guy. He speaks French, vacations there regularly, and has family living there. Too bad for Kerry he's running in a country that is still not too fond of the French...

7) Charm - Bush has it, Kerry doesn't.

8) The Republican Convention - This year it will be in New York City. Expect huge crowds of America's wackiest fringe groups to show up to protest. Expect them to compete with each other at being utterly outrageous to get the most media coverage. Expect Mr. and Mrs. Average American to associate these fringe groups (perhaps unfairly) with Kerry's campaign.

9) Demographics - Many of the states Bush won in 2000 have grown and gained electoral votes, while many Gore states (with the exception of California) have shrunk and lost them. It's an uphill battle for Kerry.

10) Ralph - Ralph's running. Though the Democrats are trying to say he won't be a factor, they also practically got down on their knees and begged him not to run. They know he affects their numbers. One recent poll put him at 7%. I think he's a factor.

11-13) Others - As this blog is interactive, the reader is invited to add three reasons of his or her own portending a Republican victory. (Hey, I'm not the lame one here. The article I'm imitating closed this way. If you have a problem with it, take it up with Cliff.)

UPDATE: Mark Steyn has a good column up looking at just one week in the long, slow collapse of John Kerry.

March 08, 2004

It's important to remember

Lee Harris has a good article up today concerning the redefinition of the meaning of 9/11. It seems to have gone from being an act of war that defined a clash of civilizations to being some sort of disaster "that just happened":

To insist that your enemy is not your enemy when he insists on being one is to rob him of his humanity, and to endanger your own existence -- and all for the sake of preserving an unsustainable illusion. To recognize an enemy, and to treat him as one, is not to dehumanize him -- on the contrary, it is to treat him as your equal. It is to take him seriously. It is to meet him on his own terms.

But that is just what liberal Democrats cannot bring themselves to do. They insist on pretending that 9/11 was just a kind of glitch, instead of seeing it as an act of devotion carried out by men who were motivated by the highest ethical purpose that they could comprehend.

This is the terrible truth revealed by 9/11. It was not an act of crazed loonies, unlikely to reoccur; it was the symbolic gesture of an entire culture -- a culture that looked upon those who died in carrying out their mission as heroic martyrs who triumphed over a vastly more powerful enemy. That is why so much of the Arab world celebrated the great victory accordingly, by dancing in the streets and cheering the collapse of the Twin Towers -- another set of images that liberals are forced to repress, since to acknowledge such behavior is to acknowledge the concept of the enemy that is embodied in such wild rejoicing at the annihilation of men and women whom you had never met.

It is almost as if we, as a nation, are entering into what psychologists call denial. Instead of making the necessary adjustments to reality in response to 9/11, we are engaged in a process of denying it, both by outright repression of all public memory of the event and by making it a subject of incomprehensibly stupid political controversy, dividing us as a people into warring factions over absolutely nothing -- and often it would seem for no better reason than to have something to bicker about on radio talk shows.

March 06, 2004

Coming soon to a SUV bumper near you

The Dissident Frogman has created a collection of John Kerry for President bumper stickers. I thought this one was pretty good.

February 25, 2004

Zing!

George W. Bush:

The other party's nomination battle is still playing out. The candidates are an interesting group, with diverse opinions. For tax cuts, and against them. For NAFTA, and against NAFTA. For the Patriot Act, and against the Patriot Act. In favor of liberating Iraq, and opposed to it.

And that's just one senator from Massachusetts...

(from Tim Blair)

February 23, 2004

Educators today.

I'm generally against criminal charges for pot possession, but I'll make an exception for this guy. He's an assistant principal at a high school who planted a stash in the locker of a kid he wanted to get rid of. He probably would have gotten away with it too if police sniffer dog hadn't kept missing it. His undoing was telling the K9 officer that he knew there were drugs in that locker because he put them there...

February 12, 2004

Kerry gets Drudged.

Matt Drudge claims to have some goods on John Kerry. What is it with these interns that they can't keep their hands off their bosses?

February 04, 2004

The Primaries.

Well, it looks like Kerry has .... ahhh, who cares? Now that Dean is pretty much out of it, the contest is between two coifed weathervanes in blue suits with red ties. Two Ken dolls spouting cliches -- it's almost as dull as Canadian politics.

For anyone who still cares though, Mickey Kaus is the best place to get your fix.

January 29, 2004

Beat a dead horse? Why sure!

Mark Steyn:

Howard Dean will have a job again in America. It wont be President of the United States. But theres no reason why he couldnt be a spokesperson for Ben & Jerrys premium Vermont ice cream, perhaps dressed up as a Holstein in the late stages of BSE. (I scream for ice cream. And you will, too.)

A mid-day laugh.

Dave Barry hits another one out of the park.

January 27, 2004

Dean's gonna win it tonight.

I'm going to go out on a limb and bet Howard Dean is going to win the New Hampshire primary tonight. It'll be a squeaker, but he'll win. Word is starting to spread that Kerry is dull and a flake, while at least Dean (appears anyway) to have some real fire. I think the universal Dean mockery of last week was overdone (it wasn't that bad of a speech) and it will earn him some sympathy votes. New Hampshire has a reputation for defying the polls and they'll do it again tonight.

Update: Mark Steyn is predicting Kerry will win, but only by one point. He's got such a great takedown of Kerry in this piece that I have to quote it here:

If you go to a Kerry rally something of an oxymoron, but let that pass the senator's stump speech is a karaoke tape of floppo populist boilerplate. If he'd downloaded it for free from the internet, that'd be one thing. Instead, he paid a small fortune to hotshot consultant Bob Shrum, who promptly faxed over the same old generic guff he keeps in the freezer: "I (insert name here) will never stop fighting for ordinary people against the powerful interests that stand in your way."

This shtick worked so well for Shrum's previous clients - President Dick Gephardt (1988), President Bob Kerrey (1992), President Al Gore (2000) and President Insert Namehere (2008) that he evidently sees no reason why it shouldn't elect a fifth president this time round. Throw in a few mandatory sneering references to Enron, Halliburton and Attorney-General John Ashcroft plus a handful of local hard-luck stories of doubtful general application "47-year-old Arlene Claxton of Hooksett worked 20 years to build up her hairdressing business only to contract a rare skin disease from a conditioner manufactured overseas by corporations George W Bush has given tax breaks to in order to export American jobs abroad to jurisdictions lacking environmental safeguards thanks to a sweetheart deal negotiated by a lobbyist for Halliburton and then learnt that her health insurer wouldn't cover the cost of treatment because etc etc."

Another Update: Oh well. So much for my career as political prognosticator.

January 24, 2004

Dave Barry in New Hampshire

Dave Barry has been covering the Democratic primaries in Iowa, and now New Hampshire. He has this valuable observation about Dean's defining moment:

But the biggest shock was the poor showing of former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, who did far worse than expected in Iowa, then gave his now-famous post-caucus speech, in which he sounded as though he'd been gargling with paint thinner, and then, out of nowhere, emitted a scream that was a pitch-perfect imitation of a small-hipped woman giving birth to an upright piano.
I know who I'm going to be reading in the future to get the real story of the race for the presidency.

January 23, 2004

The Michael Moore of the right.

I am mystified as to why the National Post continues to publish columns by Ann Coulter. Like Michael Moore -- whose simplistic message that Republicans are dumb, evil, greedy, and are behind everything that is bad in the world has won him such a following -- she takes the line that Democrats are dumb, treasonous, deceitful, and would destroy everything that is good in the world. Here's a snip from her latest column, titled, "All Democrats are the same":

There isn't a hair's difference between any of the Democrats on any substantive issues. All the Democrats are for higher taxes. All of them favour Hillary's socialist health care plan. All of them are for higher pay for teachers and nurses -- and no pay at all for anyone in the pharmaceutical or oil industries, especially Halliburton executives who should be sent to Guantanamo. All the Democrats believe the way to strike fear in the hearts of the terrorists is for the U.S. federal government to invest heavily in windmills.

All the Democrats oppose the war. And all the Democrats who took a position on the war before it began were for it, but now believe that everything Bush did from that moment forward has been bad! bad! bad! This is with the exception of Joe Lieberman who, as an observant Jew, is forbidden to backpedal after sundown on Fridays.

Finally, all the candidates are willing to sell out any of these other issues in service of the secret burning desire of all Democrats: abortion on demand. If they could just figure out a way to abort babies using solar power, that's all we'd ever hear about.

Ugh. You can always spot poor opinion pieces by the need to resort to the all those people argument -- especially when little evidence is made to back it up. Ann (and Mike) have made quite the careers out of this nonsense, which is sad when you consider that you could almost pick a blog at random -- from the right or the left -- and get better commentary than from these two.

January 22, 2004

The markets have spoken.

Take a look at what happened to Dean futures after he let out his bizarre gargling scream (scream remix by Lileks).

Update: Dean remixes can now be heard all over the web. MTV has a good roundup. Dean's a dead man walking; it's almost enough to make you feel sorry for the guy. (But it isn't quite.)

Yet another update: The ultimate collection of Dean remixes can be found here. There's so many you'll never be able to listen to them all.

January 21, 2004

Bush gets a C

Sounds like Bush stumbled a bit with this State of the Union address. I watched the other two and was generally impressed, but since I cancelled my satellite TV service I wasn't able to catch this one. Andrew Sullivan has a good summary:

It was the worst Bush SOTU yet. Maybe the occasion wasn't up to the previous ones. But the speech lacked a real theme; it had only a few good lines (at the beginning, on the war); offered no new vision or any concrete future direction in foreign policy; and revealed complete insouciance toward the deficit and, more importantly, toward those who have not yet benefited from the economic recovery. A pretty bad political misjudgment in my view. To brag about a growing economy without some kind of passage of empathy for those still struggling reveals major political obtuseness. I was also struck by how hard right the president was on social policy. $23 million for drug-testing children in schools? A tirade against steroids? (I'm sure Tom Brady was thrilled by that camera shot.) More public money for religious groups? Abstinence only for prevention of STDs? Whatever else this president is, he is no believer in individuals' running their own lives without government regulation, control or aid. If you're a fiscal conservative or a social liberal, this was a speech that succeeded in making you take a second look at the Democrats. I sure am.
I'm from the government, I'm here to help. This is the state of the things for most of the world, where people have apparently given up on the idea that they are capable of solving their problems themselves. Now it looks like there is no one to promote the opposite notion of individual initiative, even in the United States. Sad, really.

Instapundit has a good round-up on what people are saying about the speech.

Update: Reason has a few more thoughts along these lines:

President George W. Bush blew it Tuesday night. He delivered a State of the Union address that downplayed his most promisingand potentially revolutionarydomestic-policy initiatives. Earlier drafts had reportedly contained a lengthy exposition of his vision of an "ownership society," expanded and strengthened by tax changes and Social Security reform. Unfortunately, by the time Bush gave the address, his ideas were dispersed throughout a laundry list of issues, and his Social Security proposal was granted only a brief and halting mention. He spent more time talking about new federal subsidies for community college training. From a public-policy perspective the decision was disappointing; it may also prove to be politically costly.
And:
The problem for Bush and the Republicans is that if the security issue gets muted during the 2004 campaign, a good chunk of their political base will get uncomfortable. It is difficult to overstate the extent to which the limited-government, free-market faction of their coalitionincluding mainstream Reagan Republicans, old-style balanced-budget moderates, and small-l libertarianshave been dismayed by Bush's dismal record on federal spending and entitlements. Non-defense discretionary spending under Bush and a Republican Congress soared by nearly 19 percent in two years, a rate not seen in decades and one making Bill Clinton look like Calvin Coolidge.
This is coming from a libertarian-ish site, so take these words with a grain of salt. But it seems Bush is starting to disappoint some of his supporters. This might just be pre-election manoeuvring to cut off the Democrats' oxygen (what can they promise now that Bush has promised everything?), but it's still too bad.

January 15, 2004

Going a bit too far

As anyone who looks in here regularly knows, I'm a bit of a fan of George W. Bush. This is almost entirely due to his foreign affairs policies, which have broken through the ossified state things were in a few years ago and allowed some hope for the worst parts of the world.

But in domestic affairs he's been a bit more disappointing -- lots of pork, pandering to special interests and budget deficits. These things don't really worry me since I'm not American, but it would be nice if the US could lead by example and show the world that people can get by with less government.

But this is a bit much:

George W. Bush's plan to spend US$1.5-billion promoting heterosexual marriage won applause yesterday from conservative and Christian groups whose support is key to the Republicans' election hopes in 2004.
I don't really understand the need of governments to get involved in people's lifestyle choices. I'm all for heterosexual marriage (and gay marriage too) but having the government promoting it is social engineering. Not good.

Maybe we should do it.

A friend of mine thinks the idea of landing humans on Mars is an unimaginative idea. He's got nothing against all the money that will be spent, but asks why can't it be spent on something more exciting -- like a city on the bottom of the ocean, for example? But Lileks says going back into space will be exciting:

I wonder if we can embrace a big idea again. The moon shot was nonpartisan Kennedy dialed the number, Nixon talked to the astronauts. Politics stopped at the ionospheres edge; it was an American gambit. Id like to think we can do that again. I want to watch the Moon Channel with my daughter in 2010.

January 14, 2004

Yecch

Particularly loathsome piece in The Toronto Star today which begins by denying that Bush is another Hitler, then going onto list all the (tired, made-up) similarities.

True, both came to power constitutionally (although under dubious circumstances and with the support of only a minority of voters). True, both masterfully used traumatic events at home (the 1933 Reichstag fire for Hitler; 9/11 for Bush) to make a frightened and resentful populace accept restrictions on civil liberties.

True, also, that the U.S. leader shares Hitler's taste for military costumes -- although to be fair to the German dictator, he did serve on active duty in wartime.

Like I said, yecch. I'd like to go over the whole thing and list all the half-truths and omissions, but there's no way I have the time. Let me just mention the most important way that Bush is completely unlike Hitler, and America is completely unlike Nazi Germany.

And that's America's attitude after 9/11. On that day (I am somewhat ashamed to admit) I was not able to feel sorrow for the incredible losses or anger at the terrorists that carried them out. I felt only fear that this event would harden the generous American spirit and turn them into the "frightened and resentful populace" the Star's writer assumes them to be. But that didn't happen. Within days Bush was at a mosque declaring that Islam was a religion of Peace and Muslims were not enemies of the United States. And Americans generally believed him, knowing that it was wrong to judge a religion by the actions of a fanatical few. All over the world there have been countless frothing, angry protests against Jews in the last few years (and of course during the Nazi period in Germany). I haven't heard of one similar public demonstration of hatred directed against Muslims in the US. Nazi Germany was built on resentment, ignorance and tribalism. I see none of those things affecting the decisions the US is making today, whether you agree with them or not. My 9/11 fears were unfounded.

(from Andrew Sullivan)