Thursday, December 30, 2004

Since listening to NPR on the drive home this evening, I've been unable to shake off the feelings of disgust at the way various worthless "progressive" gumflappers have criticized the U.S. response to the tsunami disaster as either not generous or not international enough for their progressive tastes. It's times like this that one turns to Emperor Misha.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Suha, call your office!

The following is spam I got earlier today. It is reproduced in its entirety, unedited except for the addition of HTML tags and shortening of the URL.









Saturday, November 27, 2004
When talking Palestinian politics, remember not to mix up your Barghoutis:
JERUSALEM (Reuters) - A Palestinian democracy activist who has campaigned for non-violent resistance to Israeli occupation said on Saturday he would run for president to succeed Yasser Arafat. Mustafa Barghouthi, a physician educated in Russia and the United States, will challenge frontrunner Mahmoud Abbas. Abbas, the new head of the Palestine Liberation Organization, was chosen by the dominant Fatah movement to run in the Jan. 9 poll. Barghouthi shares a family name with jailed Palestinian leader Marwan Barghouthi but is not closely related. Marwan Barghouthi dropped his potential bid for the presidency that Fatah leaders had feared could split the group.
The non-jailed Mr. Barghouti faces long odds, though, as he seems to be borrowing from the John Kerry playbook:
"Enough is enough. We have been dragged into so many tunnels without hope. I think everything will depend on the vote of the young people ... I think there is a huge demand for change.
I wonder how Arabs would respond to P. Diddy's VOTE OR DIE campaign...
Thursday, November 18, 2004

A case for less government

I know this is normally James Taranto's gig, but I couldn't help laughing at this headline:

US may have found new case of mad cow disease: official

I've always thought that some of our officials are a little nuts. . .

Sunday, November 14, 2004

New Hampshire It Ain't

Now that Arafat has bid us his final "Thank you, bye-bye!", it appears that the Palestinians are just about ready to hold elections.

How do we know? Because their primary season has started. It happens to coincide with hunting season.

You must be shot accurately when mourning General Arafat! Be quiet!

Wednesday, November 10, 2004


Three days after I wish him a long life, Arafat finally does the decent thing and kicks the damn bucket.

Well, I can't have everything.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Guilty pleasures

OK, I admit it: part of the reason I voted for Bush was to see the outrage from Europe. Europe did not disappoint.

The groaning about the outcome of the US election is deafening... Four more years with [Bush]! You Americans, what have you done to us? More brusqueness, more going it alone, more wars? The groaning is deafening.
That's the editor-in-chief of one of Germany's two public TV channels. German unemployment rate is 10.5% -- twice that of the U.S. Muslims next door are slaughtering Dutch movie producers for not singing praises to Islam. And what causes the Germans to caterwaul? Four more years of Bush's "brusqueness"! Waaaaa-aaaaa-aaaaah!
Monday, November 08, 2004

Linking to an incoherent rant by Keith Olbermann, Michael Moore asks:

What's round on sides and high in the middle?

That would be you, Mikey. Why do you ask?

Here is where you'll always find them...

Ann Althouse points us to the Boulevard of Broken Dreams.

Update: Where are my manners?! I didn't even give proper credit to the creators of this image: Docweasel of the eponymous web site, and Ed Hopper. Shame on me.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Dear Mr. Kinsley...

You don't have to apologize. This isn't the principal's office. No one is asking you to abase yourself, or reject your core values. In fact, all anyone really asks is that you pay those alleged core values more than just lip service.

You refer to yourself as a "liberal." That word has meaning, and is not merely a stand-in for "left-winger." Liberals are supposed to be inclusive, and given that the word has the same root as liberty, somewhat permissive and willing to live and let live. Are you certain that you've been living up to this label? Or have you, in fact, been -- as you insist you have not -- "arrogant and elitist"?

Let's look at your crie-du-coeur in some detail. This paragraph, specifically:

. . .It's true that people on my side of the divide want to live in a society where women are free to choose abortion and where gay relationships have full civil equality with straight ones. And you want to live in a society where the opposite is true. These are some of those conflicting values everyone is talking about. But at least my values -- as deplorable as I'm sure they are -- don't involve any direct imposition on you. We don't want to force you to have an abortion or to marry someone of the same gender, whereas you do want to close out those possibilities for us. Which is more arrogant?

See, Mr. Kinsley, this is what we're talking about. First off, your tone is condescending, and that's not appreciated. But more importantly, your description of conflicting issues is facile, showing either a lack of awareness or a lack of appreciation for the position of those you oppose.

(A little aside. I, personally, don't have strong opinions on either abortion or gay marriage. My vote to re-elect President Bush was purely for foreign-policy reasons, where I'm afraid the Left Wing hasn't had a useful idea since Woodrow Wilson, and maybe not even then. I also think this whole "values" topic is a huge misdirection. Your Slate colleague Paul Freedman can back me up on this. But I digress.)

Let's start with abortion first. It's a difficult topic, because it deals with the nature of human life itself. I doubt, Mr. Kinsley, that you'd be OK with the practice of taking newborn babies and euthanizing them, for whatever reason. That's because you appreciate that those are small, defenseless human beings, and every instinct of every decent person revolts against even the thought of causing them deliberate harm. But surely you must understand that there is nothing about passing through the birth canal that magically bestows life upon a sack of flesh? Surely if a baby is a human being just after exiting the birth canal, it is also a human being just before? An hour before? A day before? But then, if that's true, what about a week before? A month? Three months? Six months? What's the cutoff time, the point of no return where what was previously a disposable clump of cells becomes a person -- tiny, defenseless, but nonetheless entitled to a chance at life?

The simple fact is, we don't know. It's not really possible for us to know. As human beings, we can appreciate and deal with ambiguity -- but as a law-bound society, we have to set down rules with hard cutoff times. And therein lies the problem: we can't all agree on where to set the cutoff time. All we know is that it's somewhere after conception, and before birth. Within that interval, opinions differ. But a substantial portion of the population believes -- really, truly believes -- that the instant after conception, when a unique package of genes is put together, that is a new human life, and destroying it is as wrong as hurting a week-old infant. You and I may not share this belief, Mr. Kinsley. But these people believe it -- as fervently and wholeheartedly as you and I believe that, for example, it is not right for human beings to enslave each other. You can't just dismiss this, and say to them, "Hey, no one is making you have an abortion, so mind your own business!" any more than anyone could say to you, "Hey, Kinsley, no one is asking you to buy slaves, so get off my damn plantation!"

These people aren't trying to stop abortion because they enjoy protesting and telling people how to behave. They are trying to stop it because they think it is fundamentally, inherently wrong and anti-human. Yet you refuse to even think about what they are saying, dismissing them as meddlesome rubes. If that's not "elitist," what is? You can disagree with them -- I do -- but surely it's not too much to ask that you fully understand their viewpoint? Because if you did, you'd quickly realize that they do, in fact, view having to violate their beliefs over a decades-old Supreme Court decision to be an "imposition." And while I don't support them, I can't really say I blame them.

Your stance on gay marriage is no more impressive. First, it's worth pointing out that even in liberal Oregon, not to mention several other "blue" states, the bans on gay marriage passed easily, nearly 2-to-1. Turns out that quite a few people, even those in your own party, are not yet ready to accept that a lifelong partnership between two men or two women is equivalent to one between a man and a woman.

Read that again, Mr. Kinsley -- they are not ready to accept this. It's not that they hate gay people. It's not that they want to keep them apart. Well, surely some do, but overall, I doubt whether even the Biblest of the Bible-belt states would have passed resolutions banning, say, cohabitation. Civil unions seem to enjoy pretty widespread support. But with marriage, you're demanding more than that. You're insisting that everyone accept your premise that gay unions are exactly equivalent to male-female marriages. You're not just asking people to stay out of others' business. You are not even asking them to accept a different lifestyle. You are telling people what to think, and how to feel, insisting that everyone from Amherst to Anaheim accept as gospel -- literally, as unquestionable gospel -- the word of a couple of Massachusetts judges about the fundamental makeup of our society. And when you tell people how to think, and demand that they treat judges as kings -- well, please don't take it the wrong way that the people tell you to go get bent. Our nation's founders fought a bloody war and put in this wonderful democratic system to prevent exactly that kind of rule-by-fiat.

You claim that those on "your side of the divide" don't believe that your values are "immutable," that you are "crippled," as it were, "by reason and open-mindedness." How is it, then, that you could be so closed-minded as to fail to understand the principles of your opponents? And if you think that "your side" is immune to thinking its precepts "immutable and beyond argument," walk down the street in Manhattan or San Francisco with a Bush/Cheney shirt on. Your colleague Richard Rushfield can tell you about his experience.

I don't agree with left-wingers on a lot of topics, Mr. Kinsley, just as I disagree with right-wingers on some topics. But what I try to do is understand and respect people's reasons for holding the beliefs they do. It's not too much to ask that you try doing the same. Heaven knows that right-wingers get the benefit of left-wing opinion on a continuous basis, from newspapers, college lectures, Doonesbury cartoons -- now there's even Eminem's video. Maybe it wouldn't hurt for the Left to start listening -- really listening -- to their less-liberal compatriots, and if you don't agree with them, at least try to recognize that they do, in fact, have a point. Then maybe you wouldn't feel so oppressed.

Article by way of Bill Quick.

Dear Democrats...

Now that you've survived your very own Thermopylae, please spare us all the whining that your message didn't get out.

Your message got out. Boy, did it ever get out! Your message was less-than-subtle subtext in at least two high-budget, very well-marketed movies. It was the content of two very un-subtle, un-artful, devoid of talent propaganda flicks -- movies that would have embarrassed the most incompetent Sovinformburo hack, but ones that you lionized, showered with undeserved awards, put on every movie screen you could find, poured out on DVDs, and even dropped onto pay-per-view the day before the election. You had a running propaganda vehicle on NBC, a household name shilling for you at CBS, and the country's largest newspapers were all but extensions of your campaign headquarters.

You didn't lose because your message didn't get out -- you lost because it did get out. Your true nature became just a bit too obvious to a few people too many. For decades, you've been trying to build the reputation of inclusiveness and idealism, and many believed it. What conclusion, then, could they reach when, at your Convention, you lionize a guy who mocks Americans as "possibly the dumbest people on the planet," "known for bringing sadness and misery to places around the globe"? Do you really believe this? Or did you not think we were watching? When they heard the same man say that everyone who ever voted Republican gets "up at six in the morning trying to figure out which minority group they're going to screw today," did you think no one was paying attention? When your most rousing speaker was Al Sharpton, blathering on about foreign policy and "reparations," what effect did you expect?

You patronized America with thinly disguised propaganda. You insulted us with bad movies, asinine books, and a new radio network apparently staffed by people whose meds have run out. You whined about "censorship" every time someone criticized your opinions, apparently unaware of the irony. Every time one of your loonier ideas was said to be bad for the country and good for its enemies, you screamed at the top of your lungs that people were "questioning your patriotism." You railed about "the new McCarthyism," even as you casually threw out terms like "un-American" at your opponents. For people who consider themselves our intellectual superiors, you sure don't strike us as very bright. Pompous, entitled, condescending -- sure. Self-righteous -- absolutely. But not very bright at all.

And the thing is, you're still doing it. Losing the election has caused many of you not to look inwards and ask why your ideas were rejected. Instead, you lashed out, piling further scorn onto the hoi polloi who dared to disagree with your "progressive" [sic] view of the world. Ponder the irony: you rail against America "arrogantly" dismissing the rest of the world, even as you arrogantly deride over half your own countrymen. You whine about our alleged "intolerance" towards Muslim nations, who have indisputably created and harbored a culture of terrorism, honor killings, beheadings, and repression -- even as you yourself openly deride those awful, nasty Evangelicals, whose only "crime" has been to disagree with you on who should run the country. You twist yourself in knots to insist that the opinions of Iran, Syria, and Lybia must be given consideration because they are part of "our human family," yet write off more than half the people who live next door, or else "threaten" to leave, since apparently you just can't handle living with the those that don't share your views. You'll have to forgive us if we find your talk of "tolerance" and "inclusiveness" just a little unpersuasive. You may not be racist, but your bigotry runs deep.

So please, no more of this talk of getting out your message, or trying to pull a fast one by wrapping your message in talk of "values." America got your message the first time, but in all honesty, America was just not interested in being Southern Canada, or pandering to your inferiority complexes vis-a-vis Europe et al. So if you want a chance at election again, consider finding some new positions and a new message.

Make sure this isn't it.

Long Live Arafat

Now that Arafat has turned into a vegetable and is not just heartless and gutless but liverless, I would like to do something I never thought I'd do: wish this dirtbag a long life. May he lie there, useless, friendless, and with his "family" and "advisors" circling like vultures, for as long as possible. I hope that every second that separates him from death feels as painful as having a bucket of nails embedded in his flesh; after his history of vicious terrorism, the scumbucket deserves nothing less. My own beliefs don't include a hell, but this will do nicely. To your long life, you worthless meatbag. To your very, very, very long life.

As for his burial arrangements, I suggest a Semtex vest in a car in downtown Ramallah. The burial can then be left to his devoted followers.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Red Herrings of the Week: Gay Marriage and Other "Moral Issues"

A new notion is coming into the fore, as the Left, assisted by a still-compliant media, attempt to explain the thorough shellacking the Democrats received on Tuesday: it's all those Evangelicals and Catholics, who came out of their lairs so they could support George W. Bush over "moral issues." This is shorthand for: Kerry had it sewn up, Bush was a war-mongering chimp, but Karl Rove dug out all the latter-day fag-hatin' Cotton Mathers in the Bible Belt, who came out in droves to make sure gays couldn't get married. The Christian Right is happy to go along with this notion, hoping to claim more influence.

There is only one problem with this: it makes no sense, and is not supported by the data.

Let's get the easy ones out of the way first. Two states were considered "swing" going into this election, and crucial to Bush: Ohio and Florida. Florida did not have a no-gay-marriage amendment on the ballot.

Ohio did. It passed easily, with 3,249,157 votes -- 62%. Yet George W. Bush only got 2,796,147 votes -- 51%. Even assuming every single Bush voter also voted to prohibit gay marriage, that leaves over 400,000 Kerry voters who did the same. Even in Oregon -- where Kerry won by 65,000 votes -- the ban on gay marriage was adopted by a margin of 236,607 votes, giving it a 57% majority, the smallest of the 11 states where it was an issue. And why wouldn't someone against gay marriage vote for Kerry? It's not as if Kerry's position on the subject was any different from Bush's.

The rest of the states -- Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota, and Oklahoma -- were all either safely pro-Bush, or else lost to Kerry. Some "wedge issue"!

Besides, you have to wonder where these "moral values" people have been. One would think that if anyone got the "moral values" crowd out to the polls, it would be Bill Clinton -- a pot-smoking womanizer with a thoroughly emancipated career wife, whose first term was famous for gays-in-the-military, Gennifer Flowers, and "I did not inhale." Yet Clinton got his second term with 49% of the popular vote, and I just can't see a whole lot of hardcore Christian Right types choosing Ross Perot. For Pete's sake, Clinton got 44% of the vote in Mississippi and about the same in Alabama, and you don't get much more "moral values" than those states. Kerry only got 39% and 37% percent there (respectively), and whatever his faults, it's hard to see him being more objectionable to the Christian Right than Clinton.

The notion of the election being tipped by the Christian Right is likewise unsupported by the exit polls. Bush only gained 3 percentage points with Protestants -- a group of which "the Christian Right" is a small part -- to get 59% of their vote. With 54% of the voters identifying themselves as Protestant, that's about 1.5% of the vote -- not enough to explain Bush's victory. Gaining another 5 percentage points with the 27% who are Catholic brings in another 1.35% -- just barely enough, assuming absolutely every one of them was voting strictly on "moral values." And were they?

In a word, no. Of those believers who attended church at least weekly, Bush only picked up 1% of the vote over 2000. Not enough, even if we assume that everyone who goes to church on Sunday is a Bible thumper whose only concern is to keep gay marriage out of their state.

(A side note about exit polls: yes, it's important not to place too much faith in them. But I still think these data are valid. These are full samples from all the voters, not just those showing up in the morning, so it's unlikely that their sampling is wildly skewed. Moreover, the usual margin or error for these things is around 3-4% -- too large to pick a winner in a 49-51 election, but certainly acceptable to test whether Bush's voters are all religious nuts.)

So, if it wasn't God and gays, what was it? The same ol' boring, oft-repeated topics: Iraq, terrorism, and the economy.

The latter first, because I think it's the most interesting. For all the complaining the Kerry campaign did on the economy, it seems that the U.S. is doing pretty well. 32% of voters said that their family's financial situation is better today than four years ago, compared to only 28% who said it's worse. Of those who said their family was better off, a whopping 80% voted for Bush -- a 44 percentage point improvement over 2000. The same proportion of those worse off voted against Bush, but there were fewer of them. The remaining 39% whose financial situation didn't change, split their votes just about evenly: 49% Bush, 50% Kerry, 1% Nader.

The other big one was Iraq. 51% of voters approved of the invasion, and 45% disapproved -- just about the same as the candidates' final percentages. Interestingly enough, 52% of voters thought that the war in Iraq was going badly, vs 44% who thought it was going well, but, at least for some people, that wasn't enough to choose Kerry.

On terrorism, 54% of the electorate thought the U.S. is safer, while 41% thought us "less safe." This also roughly mirrors the vote percentage. (On a side note, I can hardly imagine how we could be "less safe" than when 19 Arabs can get into the country illegally, take flight lessons without raising alarms, walk onto four airliners despite being on a watch list, and alter the Manhattan skyline. Does 41% of the electorate really think safety comes from being popular at the UN? Or is it just that many people never thought about terrorism before?)

Overall, it seems that the voters' choices came down simply to how well Bush has been doing his job, with Approve at 53% and Disapprove at 46% -- again, matching the election returns almost exactly. It appears that the difference comes from the "somewhat approve" camp, 15% of whom apparently thought Bush was doing a decent job, but either wanted a change or thought Kerry could do better.

And there it is, folks -- the true motivators behind Bush's win were Iraq, terrorism, and the economy, not necessarily in that order. Why all this talk of "moral values," then?

Because the press is bad at math. They looked at these polls, and saw that 22% of the voters said "Moral values" was the most important issue to them, and 80% of those voted for Bush. But even assuming that they answered honestly and accurately, that would be less than 18% of all voters chose Bush for this reason. (And questions like these are guaranteed to get a lot of bad answers. Quick, name the single most important issue for you when you voted!) Nor does "moral values" signify -- as many commentators suggest -- some kind of commitment to Biblical scripture. Sure, those who consider his "religious values" important chose Bush overwhelmingly -- but they were only 8% of the electorate, bringing him 7.2%. He got an equal number, though, of people who chose him because they wanted someone "honest/trustworthy" (7.7%) and twice that number chose him for being a "strong leader" (17.8%) and taking "a clear stand on the issues" (13.4%).

In other words, Bush got re-elected because the country thinks he says what he does and does what he says, and because it approves of both. The Republicans can only hope that the Democrats, convinced of yet another Rovian plot and spurred on by their media echo chamber, start on another wild goose chase, unable to distinguish between religion and morality. Which is ironic, considering how often they accuse Republicans of the same thing.

Update: Paul Freedman of Slate has more supporting data.

Why I voted for George W. Bush

This started out as a comment on another blog, but as its length grew, I thought it would be better off here.

Personally, I had no trouble supporting George W. Bush for President. I did it because I know what he is doing and I'm pretty sure I know what he is going to do. And both of those are things I want. No, not the farm subsidies or the atrocious Medicare drug plan. I'm talking about foreign policy here. In a nutshell, I'm glad the President ignored the UN and global opinion when he felt it was right to do so. I do not respect the UN and do not want it to have even a miniscule say in the conduct of this nation, ever. I am not interested in having a President who, when weighing an action, ponders how it will be received in the Belgian street. With his talk of "global tests" and "rebuilding alliances," John Kerry made it clear -- as clear as he could make anything -- that if elected, his constituency would include Paris, Berlin, Brussels, Cairo, Tehran, Khartoum, Nairobi -- you name it. Sorry, unacceptable. Nobody in those cities, certainly not anyone with an opinion that matters, has my interests at heart. This doesn't mean that their opinion should always be disregarded -- but disregarding it should never be unacceptable to a leader I vote for. I am not a "global citizen," whatever that is. I am a U.S. citizen. As far as any official elected in this country is concerned, my opinion and those of my fellow citizens are absolutely the only ones that matter.

More specifically, I am glad Bush has made war on Arab and Muslim strongmen, ensuring that they will not gain any more power in a vital and volatile region. Going after terrorists is a part of this, since terrorism is the most direct way that radical Muslims and secular dictators from that part of the world attack my civilization. (That some are secular and some are religious nuts, and that they don't all love each other, is beside the point. They cooperate quite a bit: witness secular Sunni Arab Syria's cooperation with Shi'ite Persians in Iran to support Hizbollah.) It's also important to attack the bigger threats from that region directly -- and Saddam was certainly such a threat. I admit it: I honestly thought he had WMD in place. It made sense that he would, and not that he secretly made them "disappear" then risk an American invasion on general principle. Had Bush not invaded Iraq, I would have voted him out of office on sheer negligence. But even in the absence of WMD, I view the removal of the Hussein regime, strategically, to be well-worth the cost in blood and treasure.

For slightly under a decade before 9/11, America decided to take a break from history, as we turned inward and worried about gays in the military, presidential fellatio, dot-com valuations, and Y2K. It seems nuts now that in the late 1990s, the biggest target for the Justice Department was a freaking software company. Meantime, a bomb went off in the World Trade Center, two embassies were blown up in Africa, an Arab plot to bomb Los Angeles over the Millenium was discovered by dumb luck, another Arab plot to blow up eleven U.S. airliners was discovered because of more dumb luck, seventeen sailors did not come home from a routine call in a "friendly" port in Yemen, and the 9/11 plot was put in place and activated. All the while, the mastermind behind these attacks sat safely in a primitive hole, growing further and further convinced that the U.S. was a paper tiger that just needed a good kick to be brought to its knees. (And, really, who can blame him? He bombs American soil and an American warship, kills hundreds, and we don't even bother to send anyone after him. The mighty United States, world's preeminent military power, can't bear to see military casualties, so it shoots some missiles and makes empty speeches about "bringing" people "to justice.") Sorry, but that kind of "peace and prosperity" I can live without.

9/11 was not simply a terrorist incident in American history. 9/11 was a wake-up call: the world was still full of dangerous people. Some believe that those people need to be "understood" and given what they want, that given enough time and good will, everyone can agree to live and let live. I don't, because history is littered with the corpses of fools who believed this. I believe that there is a small but substantial number of people in this world that must be destroyed, or they will destroy us. Islamic radicals and Arab strongmen are definitely at the top of that list. I want them gone. Not placated, not courted, not appeased -- eliminated from existence. George W. Bush and his administration share that view. John Kerry does not. He appears to believe in following the myriad UN rules and hoping that "allies" such as France will support us, that being on our best behavior will bring us safety, and that the U.S. can be kept safe through the promises of other governments and "international law." Talk about your faith-based policies. Say what you will about religious fundamentalists, at least they aren't worshipping a long-discredited god.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004


Last night was the Democrats' Waterloo.

But that's been discussed to death all over the blogosphere and the news outlets today. I'd like to cover a more important topic.

I didn't catch The Daily Show last night, so I watched yesterday's episode today. Two guests:

Fmr. Gov. William Weld (R, Mass), in studio - great sense of humor, deadpan, self-effacing.

Al Sharpton, by satellite from the Kerry/Edwards campaign HQ - leaden punchlines, cheap shots at Weld ("he can't send the state troopers after me anymore"), repeating the "we wuz robbed" line from Florida 2000, threatening to throw Bush out of the White House. A two-bit thug in a thousand-dollar suit.

I would have paid good money to see Sharpton's reaction when Bush cleaned up this election. That the Kerry campaign made him prominent during the convention and had him at their headquarters on Election Day -- that alone made the Democrats' humiliating and unmitigated defeat thoroughly deserved. They would do well to ponder just how close a relationship they need to have with the likes of Sharpton.

As would John Stewart.

Monday, November 01, 2004

It's been over a month since the last time I posted anything here on Thinking Meat, and for that, I suppose I should apologize. On top of being busy and lazy, I had nothing to say, and I refuse to post strictly for the sake of posting.

This will be quick. Tomorrow, I will vote. I will vote for George W. Bush. It's not a tough decision. Bush is a lousy communicator and has an uninspiring presence. True. But his opponent is, at core, a thoroughly deluded fool. Not only deluded, but arrogant. The man actually thinks he can bring France and Germany into Iraq by "explaining" to them "the stakes." Right. As if they don't know. What a vacuous, pompous buffoon. And, as I write this, there's a real chance it'll be President-elect Buffoon by this time next week.

...Anyway. I'm voting Bush, to no one's surprise. I'll cast my ballot in the morning, after which, all I have is hope. And, unfortunately, a good deal of worry. Don't get me wrong: I think Bush will win. But this one is going to be close.

Too close. Much too close. But that's a topic for another day.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Bush Campaign Crosses a Red Line

ABC News reports:

WASHINGTON Sept. 22, 2004 — John Kerry windsurfs left and right in a new television ad from President Bush's campaign that says the Democrat's positions on Iraq, education and health care shift "whichever way the wind blows."

"In which direction would John Kerry lead?" asks the ad, which is set to Johann Strauss' "Blue Danube Waltz."

This is unacceptable. The "Blue Danube Waltz" is one of my favorite pieces of music. If the Bushies make me think of Kerry each time I hear it, I will never forgive them.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Oh, give me a break:

A cardinal rule of investigative reporting is to never trust a photocopy of a document you're using as a basis for a story. It could be fake.

Yet photocopies, examined by experts consulted by CBS News, are exactly what Dan Rather and producer Mary Mapes used to illustrate their 60 Minutes story questioning President Bush's military service. Now it turns out that executives at 60, long considered the gold standard of investigative reporting, may have been duped into believing bogus memos.

How could that happen? Simple, producer Josh Howard explains. On the morning of the Sept. 8 broadcast — as 60 Minutes producers and lawyers discussed the memos' authenticity in New York — CBS correspondent John Roberts interviewed White House spokesman Dan Bartlett in Washington. CBS had given Bartlett the memos.

Bartlett didn't question their authenticity but in about six instances used information in them to bolster his argument that Bush served honorably in the Texas Air National Guard. Roberts called Howard after his interview and, Howard says, reported that "Bartlett had no quarrel with the authenticity of the documents; in fact, he read into them stuff that supported the White House position. We took that to mean, 'Well, guess there's no issue here.' "

(USA TODAY obtained copies of the memos shortly after the 60 Minutes broadcast and reported that the next day. The newspaper's editors, like those at other media, relied in part on the fact that the White House did not challenge the memos' authenticity and released copies after the broadcast.)

This argument is so breathtakingly stupid, it's hard to believe that USA Today had the gall to put it before the public. It is not the job of the White House to fact-check documents for the news media. The White House spokesman is not equipped to do this, nor would he have the time in the few minutes that he'd have to examine the memos. This is why CBS News and USA Today are supposed to have editors and fact-checkers and all the time in the world to consult with document experts. To even suggest that you were justified in using obvious fakes because the White House spokesman didn't point this out to you, is buck-passing at its most sickening.

Friday, September 17, 2004

Some thoughts on the Union thug vs. 3-year-old story, and it's alleged rebuttal:

The claim is that the guy tearing up the sign is actually Parlock's son, with the only evidence being a family photo. It's certainly a possibility, but hardly conclusive -- white men with prominent chins are not uncommon. Still, if it turns out the whole thing was staged by Parlock, then obviously this would be a pretty disgusting manipulative stunt.

What I don't get is the sarcasm coming from Attaturk in this paragraph:

Serial Republican Victim complains for the THIRD straight presidential election of being assaulted and has his family assist.

Seems like Attaturk is making Parlock's point for him -- it's not hard to get Democrats to act like brownshirts (flesh-and-blood brownshirts, not Gore's "digital" kind). Assuming that all three incidents were genuine, highlighting the fact that someone has successfully got the opposing side to physically attack him multiple times is not exactly helpful to the opposing side. And as I said before, the fact that the guy attacking Parlock sort of looks like his son in a low-res photo is miles away from conclusive.

Having said that:

I agree with KipEsquire. A three-year-old girl has no business at a political rally, much less holding a sign. It's a cheap political trick, and I despise those who engage in such tactics. It's one thing to just bring your kids along to your candidate's rally -- if nothing else, it shows that "good, family people" support the candidate. (And even then the child has no business holding a sign or displaying propaganda.) There is absolutely no excuse for bringing your child to an opposing rally, much less have her hold a sign. She is three years old, for crying out loud. Let her be a kid.

Mr. Parlock had better account for the whereabouts of his two sons at the time, or at least provide good photos that establish the attacker wasn't one of them.

The union has apologized for the behavior of the attacker. This is a credit to them, but not an admission of guilt. If they do confirm that it was one of their members, they have an obligation to state so publically. (They don't have to give his particulars. A simple "We have confirmed that the man in the photograph is an IBPAT member and is not related to the Parlock family" is quite enough.) If it turns out that the attack was entirely staged, Parlock will owe the union and a lot of people a huge apology, after which he can expect a fully justified defamation suit.

Both the IBPAT and Parlock can resolve this question very easily if they choose.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

CBS Memos - the Source Is Obvious

There has been much speculation on the source of the forged memos that were passed to CBS. Some have accused the Kerry Campaign. Some said it might be the MoveOn PAC. Some are whispering that it's the Bush Campaign, as done by the minions of that scary, scary genius, Karl Rove.

To all these speculators I say, Fools! Morons! Oh imbeciles, can you not see what is before your very eyes?

The culprit is so much more obvious. He has been hiding in plain sight, and laughing mirthlessly at your blindness. He is, of course, none other than Charles Johnson!

For those of you demanding proof (and you, too, Dan Rather), let us all ask the imporant question: who benefits?

It certainly isn't the Kerry campaign, which has been effectively muzzled by this debacle.

It's not really the Bush campaign, since few people gave a rip about his National Guard service.

It surely isn't CBS or Dan Rather.

Now consider:

  • The day after the CBS story ran, Charles was ready with a virtually identical copy of the memos. Sure, he claims that he typed them after the fact in Microsoft Word. But what are the odds that he would conveniently have a copy of Microsoft Word that worked exactly the same way as the Microsoft Word that was used to write the memos? And had the same "default" settings? Who does Charles take us for?!

  • Charles admits that he is an expert on fonts and printing. Who better to fool a prestigious organization like CBS News? Are we seriously to believe that Dan Rather's staff could be tricked by anyone other than an expert?

  • This scandal has generated a lot of exposure for Charles. Not only has he been mentioned on innumerable web logs, but he has had multiple radio interviews, the name of his weblog was given prominence on The O'Reilly Factor -- and I don't even know where else. Most weblogs receiving so much as a Fark or Slashdot link are brought down by the traffic. Yet not only was LGF able to withstand the barrage of new hits (at one point hitting 115 hits PER SECOND!), but it turns out JOHNSON KNEW!! that the traffic would spike as the story kept going! Either Charles is amazingly clairvoyant, or he planned it all along.

There you have it, folks. It's clear that Johnson was the original writer of the memos, as evidenced by his having the same tools as the memo writer, his remarkable ability to reproduce the memos letter-for-letter, his admitted font expertise (required to bamboozle CBS News), and his advanced knowledge of the ensuing media storm.

And if that's not enough to convince you, consider this: many of the LGF commenters are Jews.

For the benefit of the clueless and uninitiated: yes, the preceding was a joke.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Hugh Hewitt says there should be a Congressional hearing into Rathergate:

But it isn't about Rather's or CBS's or all of old media's reputation. Someone tried to manipulate a presidential election! If that isn't a matter of Congressional oversight, nothing is, and even if the GOP blows it --and Chris Cox is not the sort of congressman to participate in botched inquiries-- that fear does not release Congress from its duty.

Congress might not chose to do its duty, leaving it open to the charge that it just doesn't care much about electoral honesty. Wait and see.

The emphasis is Hugh's. And while I understand his point, I must disagree. Rathergate is a media story, where someone lied to CBS, and CBS broadcast the lie. This is disturbing, and CBS's credibility has been torn to shreds, but it's a long way from manipulating the election. Neither CBS nor anyone else has been accused of forging ballots or buying votes. People are still able to make up their minds, CBS lies notwithstanding.

Deliberately or not, there is no question that CBS lied to its audience. However, while CBS News may have an ethical obligation (and long-term business interest) to be truthful with its viewers, it has no legal obligation to be truthful. The absolute worst accusation that can be thrown against CBS News at this point is that they violated election laws by becoming a de facto propaganda machine for Kerry. And this is unlikely to stick, if for no other reason that they were not actually helping Kerry, but rather hurting Bush. It's the same distinction that applies to the 527 groups.

But that's not even the bigger issue. Quite frankly, I don't ever want any branch of the U.S. government investigating the content of news stories. Once we start down this road, where do we stop? If we can drag CBS News executives in front of a congressional committee for trying to influence the election, what keeps us from dragging the Swift Boat Vets into the same chamber, for the same reason? (After all, they were far more effective!) Or the MoveOn PAC? Or, for that matter, me or Hugh? Surely if the content of a CBS story could influence the election, so could Hugh's radio show, or, for that matter, my little blog? (OK, maybe not my blog...)

I personally prefer that Congress and the FEC stay out of this. Plenty of damage to CBS News and Dan Rather has been done by the public humiliation they have endured so far. (It's never good when your credibility as a journalist is a Jay Leno punchline.) Plenty more will be done in the future, and I salute Powerline, INDC, Allah, Instapundit, and Hugh for keeping this story alive and burning CBS's buttocks. But what we don't need here is government intervention. That will only damage our democracy, not to mention turn those responsible for this outrage into martyrs.

The position I take here is classically libertarian. The market is clearly working. Let it.

Update: Just noticed a paragraph in the same post, which I feel I must address:

If the forger rides off unmolested, with only CBS News' reputation left in ruins, the message is clear: Try again next time, only use better forgers. Whatever works is repeated. Whatever fails without penalty is improved and repeated. Whatever is punished --severely-- goes away.

This is quite true, but it still does not give license to Congress to interfere. Ultimately, whoever passed these documents to CBS, is merely guilty of lying to CBS. It is, quite simply, none of our business. If CBS ends up suffering for this, recourse is their concern -- they can sue, they can out him, they can use their considerable bully pulpit to blame the whole thing on him, discredit and vilify him, whatever. But other than that, there are no forms of punishment that Congress could mete out. Lying to reporters is not a crime. It is the reporter's job to check out the story, which CBS clearly failed to do in this case (probably with intent). It was CBS -- not their source -- who abused the public trust, and it is CBS that must suffer for it. And the rest of us just will have to be that much the wiser the next time documents mysteriously show up two months before an election. If anything, this episode will make it that much harder to use such a campaigning method in the future, even if the story is true and the documents authentic.

My Long-awaited Statement

I established to my satisfaction that Dan Rather is a legume or I would not say so in my blog.
Monday, September 13, 2004

More documents for CBS News

A Jonah Goldberg reader has an offer Dan Rather can't refuse. I still can't stop laughing at #4.

Update on September 15, 2004: Hey, I just noticed that Hugh Hewitt linked this post! A belated welcome to all the visitors from Hugh's site.

Oh, for crying out loud.

It seems that in response to the criticisms leveled by Charles Johnson, Joseph Newcomer, and many, many others, the lefties at Kos and the mainstream media have taken the divide-and-conquer approach: they break the whole fraud into individual objections, then "refute" by showing how, in some obscure way, it is technically possible to to account for each abnormality.

Fine, then. I claim that these documents were written in 1986. By Deng Xiaoping. On the moon.


Greetings, fellow LGF readers! The Rather/media reaction post is immediately below this one. May I also recommend the Magen David Adom story and some thoughts on the Muslim reaction (or lack thereof) to the Beslan school massacre?

Sunday, September 12, 2004

I have been following the Rathergate controversy with some interest. Lacking the expertise of Charles Johnson or the journalistic skills of Hugh Hewitt, I have refrained from commenting so far, as I felt that I had little to contribute.

Reading over some of the reporting from mainstream media sources, though, I was simply floored. It's hard for me to determine whether it is sheer partisanship or simple laziness and incompetence, but a lot of mainstream sources have managed to come up short of even my very low expectations.

I'll give a few of the more egregious examples here. We'll start with this Salon hit piece from Friday, by one Eric Boehlert, who implies that the people behind the Swift Boat ads are the ones carrying out this attack.

But there is clear evidence confirming that the same conservative operatives who have been busily promoting the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth smears of Kerry are now engaged in pushing the story that CBS's "60 Minutes Weeknight Edition" aired forged documents in its Wednesday night report on Bush and the National Guard.

Boehlert veers off into a discussion of some outfit called Creative Response Concepts, which apparently did some work for the Bush campaign. Very interesting, but unless Mr. Boehlert can show some connection between CRC and Powerline, Hugh Hewitt, or INDC Journal, he's yapping up the wrong bush, as these are the people who've exposed CBS's fraud, and detailed the evidence. Note that the charge isn't even relevant -- what difference does it make who exposes CBS's fraudulent reporting?

Boehlert also indicates that, like some of his colleagues, he is confused by the concept of time zones, with this little gem:

Conservative operatives immediately alleged that Killian's memos were forged, posting their charges on the Internet while the CBS broadcast was still in progress.

The emphasis is mine. Boehlert was simply regurgitating an error made by NPR and Media Matters. In fact, the first post that started the controversy -- by a Free poster named "Buckhead" -- came two hours after the 60 Minutes piece ended -- more than enough time for him to check out the documents on CBS's web page, spot the decidedly un-typewriter-like appearance, and ask about it, setting off a storm.

Boehlert then demonstrates his own evidentiary standards, and those of Salon:

In April 1972, with 770 days left in his military commitment, and unwilling to have his physical, Bush was suspended from flying and walked away from his required duties. Though he says he subsequently served in the Guard in Alabama, Salon reported last week that according to an eyewitness, Linda Allison, a Bush family friend whose husband was in charge of overseeing Bush's activities in Alabama, Bush never gave any evidence of having done any Guard duty. This week, the Boston Globe reported that after leaving the Texas Air National Guard in 1973 to attend Harvard Business School, Bush again shirked his responsibility by failing to serve the remaining nine months of his commitment with a Massachusetts Guard unit. And to this day, not one member of Bush's Alabama unit has come forward with a credible recollection of having served with the future president.

That's some evidence, isn't it? -- the word of a single alleged eyewitness from 30 years ago, whose sole qualification is having been married to the guy "in charge of overseeing Bush's activities in Alabama." Well, that and the fact that they are unable to find anyone with "a credible recollection" -- again, whatever that means -- of having spent a weekend a month with a National Guard liutenant three decades back.

I am betting that any reporter would have a hard time finding people who went to first grade with me -- it was a long time ago, plus my family moved after I finished the third grade. With the evidentiary standards demonstrated by Salon, I guess one could claim that I never went to elementary school at all!

Another interesting perspective comes from the New Zealand Herald, which seems to have chugged a good deal of ultra-Lepht Kool-Aid:

But within 24 hours the documents were being challenged - raising suspicions that CBS had fallen victim to a hoax by Bush supporters to discredit critics of the President's military record.

Of course. It couldn't be that CBS's own stupid partisanship led them to being taken in by an inept forgery. No, it had to be the minions of Karl Rove!

We're also treated to this little gem of logic:

The Dallas Morning News muddied the waters further, claiming that another officer, said in an August 1973 memo to have asked for Bush's evaluation to be "sugarcoated", had in fact left the military in March 1972.

You got that? By showing that someone retired over a year before allegedly pressuring Killian to "sugargoat" Bush's eval, the DMN muddied the waters. Pointing out yet another inconcistency in this farcical fraud -- that just confused people! Everything was so clear, as long as we just took Rather's word for everything!

Then there is, which, in an article attempting to use the controversy only to make the point that computers make fraud easier, tries to give some background on the story. The background, however, is quite basic, and for a publication like to neglect giving credit to the bloggers that broke this story, is already unforgivable. But it gets worse: only quotes one blog for this entire story, and it is ...The Daily Kos! Kos's amateurish, incomplete, and generally inept attempt to refute Charles's point of dramatic similarities between a default MS-Word doc and a paper allegedly typed in a 1972 office is hardly the best blog-based source of information that could have offered its readers, when LGF, Powerline, and INDC, and Instapundit all had more background, more expertise, and far more (i.e., more than zero) graphic examples than Kos's pointless regurgitation of Fonts for Dummies. I don't know if the editor limited his linkage to Kos out of sheer ignorance or partisan considerations; neither conclusion is flattering to his competence or professionalism.

Finally, we come to this background piece by Josh Levin of Slate. The article is not altogether bad, giving credit to several of bloggers who really broke this story. He does give too much credit to Kos's ramblings, but given the sheer volume of links to various sources, this can be overlooked. A note of advice to Mr. Levin, however: you work for Microsoft, which has no shortage of font experts. Get a few of them into a room, show them the documents and your collection of links, and see what they think. It would make for one hell of an interesting article. Heck, maybe if you look hard enough, you'll find some software designers in Office that will say they based Word's behavior on a typewriter from the 1970s. And if not, at least you can show them Kos's "explanation" of how you get Word-like behavior out of a 30-year-old typewriter. I'm sure they could use a laugh.

(I recycled some of these examples from my comments on this LGF post.)
Thursday, September 09, 2004

According to the University of Maryland's Program for International Policy Attitudes, if they could vote, the majority of the world's people would elect John Kerry as U.S. President.

In equally relevant news, I would prefer that my next door neighbor had scrambled eggs for breakfast this morning.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

"We Have No Choice"

Check out this amazing story by Jeff Foster and Mike Taigman of EMS Magazine, who rode around with Israeli Magen David Adom ambulance crews in the spring of 2002. There are many poignant parts, and some utterly revolting:

One week after the pistol-packing shopper saved dozens of lives by killing the would-be suicide bomber, the MDA dispatch center in Jerusalem receives a call from Fatah, one of Yasser Arafat's terrorist organizations. The caller says there will be an attack in three minutes. He won't say where. Moments later, paramedic Asef Perlman is smoking a cigarette outside the MDA station in Efrata when a 16-year-old Palestinian boy carrying a backpack walks up the hill past the station. Asef calls to him, "Hey, where ya going?" The boy replies, "I'm just gonna get some cigarettes." Asef tells him that since it's Passover, the store is closed. Hearing voices outside, the EMTs and volunteers in the station wander out to see what's going on. Looking down at his watch, Asef says to the boy, "Besides, it's past curfew; you're really not supposed to be here." The boy mumbles something about going on. As Asef grabs him, the boy explodes.

The brave heroic Palestinian resistance, using teenage boys as suicide bombers against ambulance crews. And these ambulance crews are something else, too:

If this situation happened in America -— a group of EMTs watching a young boy blow up in the arms of their partner -— you'd expect certain things to happen. The EMTs would be off work for a few months and undergo extensive counseling/CISD. There is a chance that some or all of them might never come back to work at all. This is one of those areas that separates this remarkable group of Israeli EMS professionals from any EMS folks we've ever worked with. We asked them, "How much time did you take off after this incident?" They gave us a funny look. . . As we finished interviewing these folks, Dr. Glick, an Orthodox Jew, received a page asking him to respond to a Palestinian clinic to help treat a febrile child suspected to have meningitis.
While you're at MDA, consider making a contribution.
Saturday, September 04, 2004
A few random thoughts on the Beslan school massacre:

So does anyone remember all the rioting and demonstrations in the Arab/Muslim world, in response to U.S. invasion (and liberation) of Afghanistan? To say nothing of the fits apoplexy in response to the U.S. invasion of Iraq? Have we seen anything even remotely similar in response to this massacre? Consider: these were Muslims -- Chechen and Arab -- who stormed a school, shot children in the back, and forced a mother to choose which child to save. All in the name of Islam.

So where's the outrage? If someone pulled something like this in my name, I'd be baying for their blood, and falling all over myself to offer help to the victims. Yet here we have a group of child murderers, claiming to act in the name of Islam -- "defiling" Islam, if you believe the various apologists from CAIR and the AAC -- and what is the global Muslim reaction?

Absolute. Silence.

Not one demonstration, anywhere. Not one peace rally. Not one candlelight vigil, not one show of solidarity, not one loud, forceful, unvarnished, and un-nuanced rejection of this, done in the name of their peaceful, tolerant, enlightened, precious, precious Islam. Not in Pakistan. Not in Ramallah. Not in Cairo. Not in Paris. Not in New Jersey or Dearborn. Not anywhere.

Have a look at the CAIR web site. Take a look at their news releases and their action alerts. What upsets them? A radio talk show host calling Islam a murderous organization. Some guy in Arizona getting his car trashed. And, of course, Israeli "war crimes" and that fiend, General Boykin. Well, that's what concerns American Muslims today -- what Jackie Mason and General Boykin say about Islam. What the wanton murder of dozens of kids says about Islam? Not their problem. A generic, months-old online petition is apparently sufficient to cover terrorism. They've got more important issues now, like the crisis with Red Lobster.

Then again, perhaps we should be happy with silence. It's better than receiving lectures on the "cycle of violence" from the very people that fund the violence. It's obnoxious enough for Arab News to reprint this squirmy little Guardian appeasement piece, which lays the blame on the Beslan massacre on (who else?) Putin and the Russian Army -- but it's a whole new level of indecency for them to actually blame the bloodshed on Putin's alleged lack of belief in "compromise, negotiations, give and take." ("Give and take." With people who are willing to die just to kill a few kids and their mothers. I don't even want to know what "compromise" position Arab News had in mind.)

So there it is. American liberation of Afghanistan, after the Taliban refused to hand over bin Laden -- an outrage, an offense against Islam, a new crusade, must be opposed. American liberation of Iraq, killing a secular Stalinist dictator -- umm, an outrage, an offense against Islam, violation of international law, mass demonstrations, etc. Muslim terrorists gunning down second-graders? Shrug. "Ask yourselves why they hate you."

Update: I should note that a few links for this article came by way of the Command Post and Allah. Also, LGF has some pertinent comments about alleged "Arab self-criticism."

Update on Sept. 7, 2004: Mark Steyn puts it as only he can:

The reality is that the IRA and ETA and the ANC and any number of secessionist and nationalist movements all the way back to the American revolutionaries could have seized schoolhouses and shot all the children.

But they didn't. Because, if they had, there would have been widespread revulsion within the perpetrators' own communities. To put it at its most tactful, that doesn't seem to be an issue here.

I can't put it any better.

Friday, September 03, 2004

AP does a search-and-replace

From this hair-raising story on the storming of the Russian school against Chechen terrorists, we find the following fascinating tidbit:

People ran through the streets, the wounded carried off on stretchers. An Associated Press reporter saw ambulances speeding by, the windows streaked with blood. Four armed men in civilian clothes ran by, shouting, "A militant ran this way."
"Militant." Sure.
Sunday, August 29, 2004

Illegal Zionist. . . oh, forget it

That's it. I give up. Arab League, you win. No matter how outrageous a parody of obstinate Arab lunacy I write, I can never top the real thing.

Arab League Slams Plans For a Wireless Jerusalem

In a bizarre move, the Arab League issued a condemnation Tuesday of the Jerusalem municipality’s project to turn Israel’s capital city into the world’s first city with complete wireless internet capability.

According to SANA, the official Syrian news agency, the Arab League says the project to make Jerusalem wireless fidelity-enabled (WiFi) accessible threatens the Arab identity of the city.

The Arab League issued a statement Tuesday saying, "the project aims at imposing a de facto [sic] on the city in a way that serves the Israeli interests under the pretext of encouraging the foreign investments."

The statement added that the WiFi project, along with all of Israel’s policies, "contradicts not only the international law and resolutions but also reflect no desire in realizing the just and comprehensive peace in the region."

Wireless Internet access -- have the Jews no decency?! Someone, please tell me this is just a Syrian prank.

By way of Allah.

Saturday, August 28, 2004

Chirac: Let's force Israel's surrender to the Arabs.

Arabs: Thanks, Jacques.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Excuse me, what country is this?

Are you kidding me??
Aug. 26 (Bloomberg) -- President George W. Bush plans to seek a court order to force the U.S. Federal Election Commission to stop all political advertising by independent groups, said spokesman Scott McClellan.
Against all odds, it seems that the Bush campaign is actually trying to out-stupid Kerry. Anyone here ever heard of the First Amendment? It had something about restrictions on the freedom of speech being a no-no. I swear it said something like that.
``The president said he wanted to work together to pursue court action to stop all activities by these shadowy 527 groups,'' McClellan told reporters on Air Force One en route to New Mexico. `` If court action doesn't work, he is willing to pursue legislative action,'' McClellan said.

Wow. Why not skip even that, and just send in Ministry of Information troops? And if I may be so bold, the 527 groups aren't "shadowy." They are groups of citizens with political views who want to get those views heard, and influence the elections. That's not a failure of the political process -- it is the political process!

I can't believe the Bushies are trying to pull this. It's stupidity I never thought I'd find outside the Kucinich camp.

Monday, August 23, 2004

I have to say, the Republican choice of New York City for their 2004 Convention is a pretty smart move. Besides the obvious references to 9/11, that is.

I'm talking about the protests, which are expected to be huge. This is to no one's surprise, of course. Considering the massive worldwide ANSWER-sponsored anger at Bush policies, this may make the anti-trade protests in Seattle, etc. look small. (Allah has been on top of this story for a while.) So what are the Republicans to do? Well, if you can't stop the mobs (and you can't), might as well use them to your advantage, and minimize their impact on your friends.

The Republicans could have chosen a traditionally friendly venue, like San Diego. But this would have brought the various mobs into a friendly town, causing annoyance and resentment among supporters. On the other hand, dragging the thousands of yippies, Black Bloc creeps, and their ilk to New York would at least show the largely-Democrat population there just who exactly they stand with. ("Hey, it wasn't us who torched cars and sailed bricks through the windows of Macy's...") Even if a small number of people switch their votes to Bush in pure disgust, that's a win. And if not, at least the anti-Bush forces will be trashing their own back yard.

True: this is still unfair to the many workaday-joe New Yorkers who will suffer through the mass protests and violent mobs. But they may want to keep in mind that it's not the people at the Convention that are causing gridlock and violence, and tying up emergency services. Good luck.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

A Suggested Bush Quip

"I know Bob Kerrey. Bob Kerrey is a friend of mine. And Senator, you're no Bob Kerrey."
Sunday, August 15, 2004
Ugh. I know it's the Daily Indefiskable and all, but this is approaching absurdity even by their bottomfeeder standards:

Bush accused of exploiting hurricane in Florida as he offers aid to disaster area

By David Usborne in Orlando

On closer reading, I wonder if the by-line should have been separated at all. Perhaps it was really meant as a continuation to the headline. Because, try as I might, I can't find a single instance of anyone quoted in the article that accuses Bush of exploiting anything. The closest we come is here:
"The most politically useful trips of all are the, quote, 'non-political' ones," commented Larry Sabato, a professor of political science at the University of Virginia. "Presidents never look better than when they appear to be acting decisively in situations such as these."
What Prof. Sabato says is perfectly true, but far from "accusing" anyone, he merely offers statements of fact. Yes, of course a President looks good when offering aid to disaster victims -- who doesn't? One has to make quite a leap to read into this that Bush is nakedly using suffering people for his own political purposes. In fact, the accusation is much easier to level against Usborne, who twists a perfectly ordinary Presidential visit to help people who have lost everything into a sinister ploy, all for the benefit of his half-baked political "theories."

I hate to break this to anyone, but not everything done by a sitting President is a calculated political ploy. Just because Bush has a corn muffin with his dinner is not an indication of trying to appeal to Midwestern farmers, and eating waffles for breakfast is not a dig at John Kerry. It is perfectly right and expected for a President to visit the hurricane-ravaged state of Florida, to use federal resources to provide relief, and to praise the aid workers who helped out the victims. If you're going to insist that this is all just an attempt to turn a disaster to political advantage, then first please make sure you're not merely projecting.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Evil Zionist Occupiers redux

LGF has a photo that you're not likely to see on CNN or BBC:

An Israeli Army soldier comforts a Palestinian woman at the Kalandia checkpoint between Jerusalem and the West Bank town of Ramallah Wednesday Aug. 11, 2004.

Be sure to also check out IDF Dave's photo collection. Amazingly simple, yet simply amazing.

Monday, August 09, 2004

Yo Ahmed, don't bogart the good stuff, man...

Israelis find the key to peace in the Middle East.
Wednesday, August 04, 2004
Will someone please explain to me the hubbub over this?
ORLANDO, Fla. -- A Central Florida woman was fired from her job after eating "unclean" meat and violating a reported company policy that pork and pork products are not permissible on company premises, according to Local 6 News.

Lina Morales was hired as an administrative assistant at Rising Star -- a Central Florida telecommunications company with strong Muslim ties, Local 6 News reported.

However, 10 months after being hired by Rising Star, religious differences led to her termination.

"Religious differences," my foot. She worked at a company run by Muslims, and she knew (because she had been warned) that they found her pork-eating offensive.

What I don't get is the outrage over this at Allah's place and LGF. Ms. Morales' employers are Muslim as are most of their employees. Over and above this, the company and the building it's housed in is their property, and they get to set the rules. Ms. Morales was made aware of those rules, which are not unfair, nor do they cause her an undue hardship. Her religion does not require her to eat pork products, and if she really wanted pork, she could simply eat it elsewhere. She was obviously not fired for being Catholic (something her employers knew when they hired her) -- she was fired for being disrespectful to the beliefs of her employer and violating the rules of her employment. And all because she wouldn't make a trivial modification to her lunch menu.

The rules she was subjected to were easy to follow, and not unreasonable. If pork was consumed in the company cafeteria, the company's Muslim employees -- including its owners -- could not be sure that the surfaces, utensils, etc. they were using are clean. Ms. Morales's lack of consideration would deny them the use of their own cafeteria.

I honestly want to know: am I missing something? It sure doesn't sound like Ms. Morales's rights were violated. Instead, it sounds like she tried to violate the rights of her bosses at Rising Star, and they didn't stand for it.

Update: Eugene Volokh, a law professor at UCLA, commented on the discrimination angle last night -- I wish I had checked his site more carefully. In a nutshell, he says that there is no discrimination. The equally qualified Jonathan Rowe says the same thing.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004
Suman Palit is back, and he is distinctly unimpressed with Kerry's Convention speech.

And exactly how does Kerry plan on doubling the number of Special Forces..? These guys are called Special Forces for a reason. They are simply brilliant warriors, to a man. They are all volunteers who often apply for Spec Ops training over and over again, rejected until they are accepted. What does Kerry want to do? Impose Quotas on Spec Op hiring? All this will do is dilute the effectiveness of the Special Forces, making it difficult to use them as they were designed. Again, this tells me that either Kerry knows nothing of the military he claims to be proud of having served in, or this is a cynical and calculated effort at undermining it. . .

The carnard [sic] about the backdoor draft is just that, a canard. When you sign up for the Guard, it's not for sunny jaunts in armored cars across the Califormia coastline on a taxpayer funded binge. People join up knowing fully well that there is a eight year commitment, and that the purpose of the military is to fight wars. The Pentagon is now calling up reservists on the basis of something that all enlistees know about when they do sign up. They never have had to in past engagements, because our post-Vietnam entanglements never came close to stretching our resurces until Iraq-II. But this is exactly why the deferred service clause is in the contract. Does it suck? Of course it does? War sucks for everyone, particularly the soldiers. . .

(By way of Pejman.)

Update: Also back: the mustard-yellow Russell Wardlow. Well, he isn't yellow, but his site is.

Would someone care to explain this?
Handicapped kids left stranded

HUMAN rights activists today called on Israeli Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz to let 11 handicapped Palestinian children, stranded in Egypt for nearly two weeks, return home to the Gaza Strip.

The children, among some 2500 Palestinians blocked by the Israeli army, are suffering from a shortage of food and water and the situation was worsening daily, said the activists.

OK... why? These children aren't stuck on a desert island -- they are in freaking Egypt, an Arab country and -- just as an aside -- recipient of $2 billion annually in American aid. Why can't they house 11 handicapped children in decent conditions? Why should it fall upon the mean old Israelis to let these children -- "and their caretakers," whoever they may be -- cross the border?

Let me guess. . .

This is just Tony Blair helping Bush distract the American public from the story that terror alerts were issued to distract the American public from the period after the Democratic National Convention.
Monday, August 02, 2004
A quick round-up of recent news from those wacky fun folks, the Palestinians:
  • First, some "militants" burn down government offices because Arafat assigned his brother to be the new head of Palestinian security.
  • Next, some other "militants" stormed into a "reform meeting" and shot it up for being a "plot against Arafat."
  • Today, a guard at a jail holding some alleged collaborators with Israel decided that rather than supervise them, he'd just as soon toss a grenade in their cell. Not all his targets died right away, so later his buddies came and shot one in his hospital bed.
  • Meanwhile, the heroic fighters of Hamas bravely launched Qassam rockets at the Israeli town of Sderot, while another group of fearless fighters courageously tried to gun down a car with eight children on board. (Thankfully, they missed.)
  • Sounds to me like a wonderfully civilized society, ready for its own state.

    August 3 update: Russell Wardlow adds some perspective:

    Hey, so they tossed some grenades in an occupied cell. At least they didn't put women's panties on the inmates' head. THAT would be unexcusable.
    Point well taken.
Saturday, July 31, 2004
Bill Clinton had "Don't Stop Thinking About Tomorrow."

Al Gore had "You Can Call Me Al."

What should be John Kerry's theme song?

If you are confused, Allah will make it all clear. As long as you remember your hadiths and click on the photo.

Thursday, July 29, 2004
Hey, what's with all these people staggering in? Oh, they are vodka drinkers. Come on in, ladies and gentlemen, and make yourself at home. I'm sweeping out the cobwebs around here, but help yourselves to whatever you like: there's stuff on Democrats, some cynical stuff about Israel, a bit of F9/11 bashing. . . Feel free to mark the walls post comments, too.
Kerry speech thoughts:
  • Oh, Lord... "reporting for duty" with a salute... subtle as a slap in the face...
  • "Stronger at home, respected in the world" ...check.
  • Heh... "I was born in the West Wing." Cute. But prophecy, or just assumed entitlement?
  • The anti-Communist rhetoric is interesting, and a bit unexpected. (Cute aside about being grounded... I laughed.) Interesting point about the gratitude of West Berliners to Americans, and a fitting follow-up of restoring that positive view of the U.S. (Immediate cynical thought: does that mean we'll have to let Islamism take over Europe first?)
  • "50 years of peace..." umm, really? So what was that thing with you on the boats? And wasn't there something about Kennedy, and Kruschev, and some misunderstanding over missiles in Cuba?
  • Nasty barbs into the Bush cabinet. Not sure how well this will go over. Well, it's playing to the base.
  • Nice riff on "reinstating trust in the White House."
  • I can just see the RNC ads about Edwards: "John Edwards' American dream: suing your way to millions..."
  • OK, laying it on for Teresa is a little thick. "Down to earth?" Come on...
  • Fourth, then fifth iteration of "band of brothers." With all due respect -- stop. Please.
  • "The United States never goes to war because we want to, we only go to war because we have to." So the Iraq war was elective? We should have left it alone, even though everyone thought it had a WMD program? Thank you, drive through...
  • "Credibility to bring our allies to our side." Umm... did Australia take a coffee break? Or is Kerry promising that France will join us in Iraq? That seems like an awfully tall order. (Never mind the implication that France is an "ally.")
  • Wow, a Democrat promising to expand the military! This is something new! (But "not in Iraq." So where? Is this man really going to put new divisions into Germany? Are they really "stretched thin"?)
  • For a party whose supporters mocked Bush's use of "freedom," the Democrats sure use it a lot themselves, specifically in contrast to what terrorists allegedly want...
  • Oh brother, the whining about "questioning patriotism." What-ever. "That flag. . . belongs to all the American people." Chants of "USA! USA!" I wonder what the ultra-lephtoids will be saying about this "jingoistic display" tomorrow.
  • "It's time for those who talk about family values to start valuing families." The Democrats are in full Republican-slogan-recycling mode tonight. After-school programs, drugs for seniors, and class conflict. "Help is on the way." I guess "the powerful vs. the people" didn't play well with test audiences.
  • Kerry is really hitting the anti-outsourcing resentment hard. This will play well.
  • "We will make government live by the rule that every family has to live by: Pay as you go." They really are stressing Republican slogans. Guess we know who won that war of ideas. How ironic that Bush should be vulnerable to such attacks.
  • Drug re-importation and prices negotiated by Medicare. This is silly.
  • A vague plan on health care. Something about cutting out on inefficiency and "greed." Uhh, ok.
  • Cutting dependence on Middle East oil. Right. Good luck.
  • Haha! The Roosevelt/ quip was cute.
  • "Let's never misuse for political purposes... the Constitution of the United States." Huh?
  • Something about stopping the divisions of race from race, etc. Well, good thing Al Sharpton didn't get a speaking role.
  • "I don't want to say God is on our side... I want to pray humbly that we are on God's side." Good rhetoric, though not particularly inspiring. Gee, I hope we're not evil or anything.
  • Stem-cell research part was very effective. (Another Bush vulnerability.) The after-school bit was not. Not everything needs to be set up from Washington.
A very good speech overall. Reaganesque in its optimism and attempts to inspire, to say nothing of the Reagan slogans borrowed outright. Kerry is still no Reagan in terms of delivery, but the wooden patrician was not on the podium tonight.

Not much on specifics, though. Just the usual slogans ("Stronger at home" -- oh, you know the rest), and a litany of issues that could just as easily have been listed in 2000. Nothing at all on the war on Islamism -- just the vague references to "freedom" winning that are annoying enough coming from Bush.

Overall: good form, little substance -- which wasn't much of a surprise.

Listening to today's Democratic convention:
  • Wesley Clark - missed most of the speech, but the end certainly seemed effective. That was quite some applause.
  • Nancy Pelosi - standard Democratic boilerplate. The reference to electing a Democratic House and having "the first woman Speaker" seemed awfully self-serving. The wooden delivery of "the Democrats have it right" seemed overwrought, but I get the idea. The "we can do it" part actually sounded desperate. "No, really guys, we can do it! Honest!"
  • Madeleine Albright - a very good speech, full of messages that the Democrats need to stress. What struck me, though, was the barely-audible applause to her assertions that Kerry would not seek approval from the world, or how America is a shining light to the world. You could practically hear some of the delegates whispering, "Jingoistic wench! Go read Chomsky!"
  • Kerry sisters - OK, what is this, a funeral? Maybe it's just me, but these "just-us-folks" and "my-daddy-is-nice" stories from millionaire career politicians grate. And uhh, the hamster story? What in the. . .?
Time for Kerry.

Update: Oops, I guess it was time for the Kerry family movie. Well-done parts: personal interviews, which made him seem much more human and less imposing and aloof than he's generally appeared. Talking about the births of his daughters and his relationship with his wife certainly was well-done. Vietnam service references were well-done. Post-Vietnam activism was also well-done, which is to say, very well whitewashed. No mention of accusing his fellow soldiers of war crimes; just carefully selected sound clips of Kerry ruefully asking, "Where are our leaders?" The ending fell apart, I thought, as it began to sound like a pre-packaged political ad: the farmer with a tractor, the diverse children, the waving flag, etc. A mistake, in my view: it instantly undid the rest of the film by reminding me that I was watching a political ad.

Update II: Wow, they are really driving home the war-hero point, aren't they? The Green Beret whose life Kerry saved certainly will carry well, and it is hard to disregard Max Cleland, upbeat and enthusiastic, despite having to power a wheelchair with his only limb. Well, these men deserve that respect; regardless of their political views, they served well and suffered much, and the Bush campaign will have to dance around this very gingerly. Background thought: the Democrats sure managed to keep the hard-core anti-Vietnam "baby-killer" rhetoric silenced, no?

Update III: Uh-oh, Cleland went into shaky-voice-rant mode... Bad. Change of image from inspiring war hero to grump-on-a-soapbox was instantaneous. Also, one reference to a band of brothers is powerful. Two is overdoing it. Three is annoying. And this story about a Bible and those "kinda long, sad, eyes" sounds artificial and sappy. . . .Whoa, "a man called by destiny"?? He's a war hero and a politician, not a comic book superhero. What next, a halo?

Monday, July 26, 2004
Some thoughts watching the Democratic National Convention:

At this point, I'm pretty much a single-issue voter, and the issue is national security. Specifically, I want leadership that is willing and able to destroy Islamism. Not "make us safer," not "form a coalition," not "inspire the world" -- destroy Islamism. That, in turn, does not mean come to an accommodation -- it means killing Islamists, destroying their networks, and making it very clear to foreign governments that support for Islamists will cause them to be deposed, disposed, and decomposed. No "root causes," no asking what makes them hate me -- I'm not interested in what makes the murderous savages on this planet upset with me. I want them killed, thereby making the question of what upset them, an academic exercise.

Whoever is assigned this task, I want their hands untied. It's bad enough when American would-be "intellectuals" subordinate our national interests to some legalistic nonsense that pretends the world is just a larger version of Sweden. It is beyond unacceptable, though, to even suggest that the opinion of effete and deluded European intelligentsia, corrupt French leaders, and oil-fed Arab dictators should have any influence on U.S. policy. U.S. policy is made by U.S. citizens; end of story.

It bothers me a great deal, therefore, to hear the rhetoric coming out of the Democrats through this convention, and in the interviews they are giving the news channels. It's all a repetition of the same talking points, or rather a single point stated in different words: the image of the United States has been gravely damaged; we are isolated and distrusted; we have alienated our crucial allies; this is negatively affecting the war on terror; and, naturally, it's all Bush's fault. It's hard to figure out whether they really think this: that deluded old fool Jimmy Carter probably does, but I don't know about, say, Al Gore.

It's hard to describe just how much utter B.S. is compressed into these talking points. The United States has not been a popular country in the world for decades; organized Soviet propaganda, aided and abetted by "intellectuals" such as Noam Chomsky, made sure of that -- and Chomsky didn't achieve his global popularity through the efforts of George W. Bush. I traveled to Europe in the late 1990s, the height of Clinton euphoria. The shelves were filled with books mocking Americans and criticizing every American policy. (The war on Serbia certainly did not endear Americans to Europeans.) This animosity isn't surprising: it's a natural consequence of standing for something other than happy and meaningless drivel. The only difference under Bush is that we stopped pretending that we paid this carping any attention, and made it clear that the negative opinions of Europe and "the world" were not going to count in our decisions to face threats. This is both good and necessary if we are going to accomplish anything against Islamism, rather than get tied down wondering how every cowardly foreign politician will respond to our actions.

Real crucial allies -- i.e. Great Britain, Australia, and Israel -- have not been alienated, and continue to stand with us. Countries that have been alienated -- or rather, publicly humiliated -- are the likes of France, which has not been an ally in at least 100 years, and is certainly not crucial to any American interest. Any cooperation we get out of France, or Russia, or Jordan, or Qatar will never be because they love us, or because they think it's the right thing to do. They will cooperate because their interests happen to align with ours; no more, and no less. Anyone who thinks otherwise is, quite simply, unhinged, and must never be allowed anywhere near the foreign policy apparatus. One Jimmy Carter is one too many.

A while back, I was asked to join Blogs for Bush. I didn't care to: it wasn't my intention to turn my blog into partisan boosterism. I wasn't -- and still am not -- unequivocally pro-Bush, nor did I have any serious objections to John Kerry. Watching this convention, though, it's hard not to turn against the Democratic Party, if not Kerry himself. We have Al Gore, who still seems unable to get over the fact that popular votes don't elect American Presidents; we have Jimmy Carter, who actually has the temerity to suggest that Bush made the U.S. less respected abroad, and the idiocy to imply that the U.S. was admired under his (Carter's) presidency; and we have every Democratic delegate and mouthpiece talking about our "image" in the world, as though they are running a sales campaign for a luxury car. As if to underscore this, they have a woman who lost her family on 9/11, followed by a staged candlelight vigil. (Punctuated by camera flashes. Like it's a rock concert. Good grief.)

And really -- Hillary Clinton talking about her husband's reign as "8 years of peace, prosperity, and promise"? Have these people no shame? I wonder what the families of the sailors who died on the Cole have to say about this. Or the families of the dead African embassy workers. And it's George Bush that never admits to mistakes?

Sorry, but as much as I disagree with Bush -- and I disagree with him a lot -- I simply can't buy what the Democrats are selling. I can't have a President that thinks the opinion of the EU, or the UN, or the African Union, somehow matters and carries moral, let alone practical, weight. Sorry, Democrats, but I can't have a President who will second-guess himself based on how his actions might play with the Arab souk or the French café. I can't have a President who is more worried about America's image than American interests; I certainly can't have a President who can't distinguish between the two. I can't tell whether the Democrats' message is just honest delusions, or simply Saatchi-and-Saatchi-style brand positioning, but either way, it's not what I want for the next four years. This stuff is far too serious for the likes of Jimmy Carter. It's real life; not the Model UN.

Either the tone of the Convention rhetoric changes radically, or the Democrats will make up my mind for me.

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