Saturday, January 31, 2004

GAY MARRIAGE -- YOU DECIDE

I have my own opinion (see below), but his article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution is the best rational commentary I've seen.

My opinion? Two rules: 1) minimum age for a marriage license should be 21; 2) you can't marry a relative closer than third cousin. That's it. Two guys? Two gals? One gal and a hermaphrodite? Sure. So what?

What about the morality question? Sorry, that's a religious argument -- go away.

Friday, January 30, 2004

LIGHT BLOGGING ALERT

Blogging was light this week due to illness, and will also be light next week due to travel plans.


UNINSURED CITIZENS -- WHAT TO DO? OR NOT . . .

Do you have health insurance? Me too. But a lot of folks don't.

But then a lot of those folks had the opportunity to have health coverage, but turned it down. And many others take a pragmatic approach -- I'm healthy, insurance is expensive, so screw it, I don't need it.

Sure, there are poor people who have no insurance (and little income), but doctors and hospitals are the final "safety net" for those folks -- they just write off the unpaid bills as uncollectable and that expense is packed into the pricing for those who do pay.

So why is this whole "uninsured" problem getting a lot of press? Could it be because it's an election year? Really?

HANSON ON FORM TODAY

Victor Davis Hanson's column today is about patience.

Patience is necessary for the Iraq War to succeed. The money quote:

Success in Iraq cannot be measured by how much it resembles the Connecticut countryside next month, but instead by whether — in two or three years — it is a country that no longer invades others, promotes terrorists, kills its own citizens, and uses petrol dollars to acquire a strategic arsenal to threaten the West.

FREE GAS FOR LIFE

Golly, it looks like anyone who helped Saddam got a nice tip for their efforts.

I remember in my travels throughout Latin America that the Venezuelans did the same thing. "Consultants" and "friends" of the government were given contracts good for a few thousand/million barrels of oil while the highest paid Venezuelan school teachers made a couple of hundred dollars a month. Venezuela is an even worse example of the squandering of petro-wealth.

Saddam spent his on palaces and the military. The Saudis spent theirs on their cities, religious buildings and palaces.

The Venezuelans kept theirs for themselves and most of those dollars are in Miami, Switzerland and the Caymans.

It's clear in all cases, however, that the OPEC crowd has made sure the income from their petrodollars has only lined the "right" pockets. The only benefit that has accrued to the "normal" citizen is very cheap gasoline, which is still around $.30 a gallon in most OPEC countries. Small price to receive for being raped.


IF KERRY'S "THE MAN", HE'S GOT A LOT OF EXPLAINING TO DO

His voting record is a clone of Teddy Kennedy's, but he tries to tell most people he's not really a left liberal. He voted against the Gulf War, for the Iraq War, but against funding the Iraq War.

What does John Kerry really stand for? Does it depend on who he's talking to? Does he have any principles?

Could Kerry be Bill Clinton without the southern accent?

The media is already on the case.


Friday, January 23, 2004

WHICH COUNTRY IS MOST AT RISK IN THE MID EAST/WEST ASIA?

Syria? Possibly, but they're a bit on the defensive.
Iran? Don't think so .
Saudi Arabia? Only if you assassinate Fahd and a few hundred princes.

So where?

Pakistan.

Don't forget that they (plus India and Israel) are the only countries we know for sure have nukes. That makes a regime change a much riskier event.


KERRY'S NOT A RAVING LEFTIE LIKE DEAN, RIGHT?

Wrongo, Sparky.

Isn't it wonderful. Last week, Kerry was talked of as a more centrist, less extreme candidate. Remember? Dean was the one who was in the crosshairs of the media. Dean was painted as the firebrand.

Words aside, what were are their records?

Now that Kerry has garnered enough attention to be taken seriously, the research puppets have scanned his history in the Senate and guess what?

Seems like John-boy is about as much a centrist as Teddy Kennedy.


SO WHAT DID YOU THINK OF THE STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESS?

To be honest, it wasn't Bush's finest hour, and it probably won't help him in the polls. Zogby's most recent poll shows his "negatives" exceeding his "positives", a continuing downward trend from his peak at the beginning of the invasion of Iraq.

I still don't think the Democrats have a candidate with enough horsepower to unseat him, but I thought the same in 1992.

So, don't take anything for granted.

Bush missed a terrific opportunity to seize the legislative initiative from the Democrats, but he didn't. And he seemed a little too much like Howard Dean in a couple of segments of the address. His most energenic appeal was to high school football players to stop taking steroids. What's up with that?

And don't get me started on his curtsy to the religious right about "marraige". Maybe that's all it was . . . a token . . . and he won't really sponsor or support a constitutional amendment. But this is one where he should just say, it's a state by state issue and the federal government will stay out of it.

Net-net, Bush needs to more paranoid about the bigger issues. His father was on cruise control his last nine months in office and it cost him the election. "W" needs to do what got him there -- stay focused on the war on terror (which the vast majority support) and hope like hell the economy keeps growing (which he can do very little to control).

UPDATE: I thought I heard Bush say he would cap discretionary spending at 4%. Today, he says he'll cap it at 1%. An opportunity lost. If he'd announced that at the State of the Union, he may have gotten a couple of Democrats to applaud.


YEAH, THAT'S THE TICKET

I can hear all the Democrats scream, but it's the right thing to do.

Though it may just be leaks and posturing to nudge Syria, many reports are dribbling out that say we will use our Spec Ops guys to take out terrorist staging areas in the Bekaa Valley.

Not a moment too soon.


DEMOCRACY -- SOMETIMES IT GET IN THE WAY OF JOURNALIST ZEAL

Maybe you've heard this story. BBC radio had a bright idea. They decided to do an experiment in democracy. They announced that anyone could propose a new piece of legislation. 10,000 responses were received and the five most mentioned were reduced to an e-mail/telephone vote. A Labour MP (American translation: liberal Democrat Congresssman) agreed to support whatever initiative was the winner. Great idea, right?

Only problem is the "winner" was an idea that is the current "law of the land" just about everywhere in the US, but certainly not in the UK. What was it?

It was a law that would allow homeowners to use "any means" to defend their property from intruders.

Needless to say, the MP has backed off and much of the Brit mainstream press has reacted in horror. Meanwhile, British citizens, prohibited from owning most firearms, and prohibited from using them to "discourage" intruders, are spending record sums of money on security systems to make themselves feel safe. All the while, crime rates in the UK are increasing.


EDWARDS? YOU MUST BE KIDDING?

I could almost stomach having a medical doctor (Dean) in the oval office, but another word-mincing lawyer (Edwards)? Hell no.

Here's a good example. Every other Dem pres candidate and President Bush have fully disclosed the identity of all their contributors.

Edwards hasn't. Read his press secretary's response to this question.

Lawyer answers. Didn't anyone pay attention when the world became disgusted with Clinton's redefining words? I can just hear Edwards saying "please define the word donation".


PETER JENNINGS EARNED ONE POINT FOR HIS QUESTION

No, I didn't watch the Dem pres debate last night, but I did hear that Peter Jennings asked Al Sharpton whom he would appoint to the Federal Reserve -- and then Sharpton melted down into some incoherent response. Priceless. The key here being someone would have to spend a week or two just trying to explain to Sharpton what the Fed is and what it does.

Though I think Jennings is a miserable excuse for an "objective" journalist, this one was wicked. I wonder if he'll get some flack for trying to embarrass Rev Al?


Thursday, January 22, 2004

DEAN SAILS OFF THE DEEP END

Howard is now free (after his primal scream therapy session) to speak his mind but it appears he is afflicted with the "conspiracy theory" bug that seems to have infected the far left (see yesterday's post "FREE ADVICE FROM FORBES TO THE DEM PRES CANDIDATES").

Today, Dean is saying that the Republican-dominated corporations are behind the move to computerize more and more of the actual voting process. And he's saying, are you ready for this, that the head of Diebold (a company that makes voting machines, headed by a guy called Walden W. O'Dell , who happens to be a Republican) "may rig his equipment so that ballots from Democratic voters are not counted".

I'm not making this up.

There are even some "urban myths" that no Democrat has won a political race where Diebold's machines were being used.


THE ULTIMATE "SURVIVOR" SHOW

We all have things that are "guilty pleasures". One of mine is my addiction to watching Survivor. I like it a lot because I love people and love to observe the interaction and style of communication used by anyone trying to reach a stated goal (in the case of Survivor, to be the last person left "on the island").

I see the current presidential race as a more sophisticated version of this show. It's the ultimate "reality" show because the stakes are much higher than winning $1 million and achieving more than 15 minutes of fame.

Many apologists for Howard Dean have tried to paint his "shrieking" concession speech in Iowa as being fairly normal. When I saw it the first time, I was pleased that I have a TiVo box -- I immediately stopped it, rewound and replayed it again because I was dumbstruck. I wanted to make sure that what I thought I saw was what I saw. Unfortunately, it was.

It became obvious to me that Dean was ready to do an Ozzy Osbourne. If a pigeon was in the house, he would've chomped its head off. If he was in his hotel room, he would've tossed a TV through the window into the swimming pool. He had the look in his eye of a guy who wanted to kill something. I'm sure his advisors who had pushed him to speak in a more "centrist" way got a face-full of Howard, telling them they were frickin' idiots. They'd tried to keep Bruce from turning into The Hulk, but failed.

Emotion isn't a bad thing. And in a leader, you want to see some emotion. A good leader should be able to laugh, cry, and occasionally scream and yell. But when you see Dr. Jekyll turn into Mr. Hyde on national TV, your immediate reaction is that he's going to be toast at the next "tribal council".

Maybe not. But with Kerry now being viewed a "front runner", Dean's momentum has taken an enormous hit. His hope has to be that folks in Michigan, Florida, New York and California see him differently from the way Iowans saw him. We'll see.

One thing for sure, in this survivor show, no one wins immunity.


YOU HEARD IT HERE FIRST . . . SORT OF

A couple of months ago, I pointed out what California's fiscal problem looked like.

It now appears they are beginning to realize that, contrary to the belief of the extreme left, you cannot just tax the rich. It may work in an extreme market overvaluation bubble, which the SF Bay area experienced in the late 90's, when many, many, many individuals were making well in excess of $1 million per year in personal income. But if you adjust your expectations to that level of income (and subsequent tax revenues), you won't survive the market downdraft that will follow.

Read Dan Weintraub's piece, which sums this up. Dan ends by suggesting the Democrat legislature would be wise to consider measures that would increase the income of the rich. Yeah, that'll happen.


Wednesday, January 21, 2004

FREE ADVICE FROM FORBES TO THE DEM PRES CANDIDATES

Rich Karlgaard, Publisher of Forbes, offers the Dems some advice (and good advice it is) in the current issue (requires free registration).

He also raises an important distinction between people who are likely to be successful in life and those who are currently very frustrated (can you spell conspiracy theory?).


Tuesday, January 20, 2004

OH. MY. GOD.

In the latest chapter in the French "headgear" in public schools dustup, they are now saying that "Muslim" headscarves, veils, yarmukes, large Christian crosses and other "religious" attire are not acceptable but a Sikh turban, "if it were to remain discreet, would be allowed".

Yeah, they've got it covered. They've just about pissed everybody off.


"KERRY WON IOWA" -- REALITY CHECK

Well, yes, but 62% of Iowans actually rejected him.


WRETCHARD'S ON THE CASE

One of the reasons I like to read just about anything written by Victor Davis Hanson is he reminds us what we've forgotten. He can take almost any event and show how the same circumstances have occurred, possibly many times, in the past. And the results have nearly always been the same. Santayana may have been the first to say "those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it", but Hanson says it weekly.

Hanson now has a doppelganger. Wretchard, whose blog (Belmont Club) is now daily reading for me, is joining in this tradition. His post on Friday was particularly good.

In it, he draws the parallels between the success against the Japanese and the German armies in WWII and what we should learn from those expereinces in our efforts against terrorism (hint: killing terrorists isn't the answer).


60 MINUTES, 35 YEARS AND SHOWING IT

I didn't see the 60 Minutes piece featuring Paul O'Neill and all the "big time" disclosures about how the Bush administration starting planning the invasion of Iraq before they got to Washington, or whatever other claptrap his book said.

The blogosphere has gotten to be so good at fisking any story that I've grown lazy about "news", at least when it's first reported. After a few days, the truth slowly appears after a story has been dissected and reassembled.

It may be a little tardy, but Pejman Yousefzadeh's assessment of 60 Minutes' shoddy work deserves better than it will probably get.

60 Minutes has a history of good work and dreadful work, and the good pieces are getting to be few and very far between.


DEAN DEATH REPORT EARLY, BUT MAY BE SOONER THAN NOVEMBER

It must be frustrating to be running for political office, especially if you're Howard Dean.

First, the media absolutely falls in love with you. You're on the cover of every newspaper and every news magazine. You've developed a "grass roots" campaign, a "21st-century" campaign, complete with multiple websites and blogs. It's "Howard Dean 24/7" and you're on fire! And the train keeps rolling . . .

Sure, the Republicans take their shots at you, but that's because you've decided to paint yourself as the "anti-war, anti-Bush". You're not particularly for anything; you're just everything that Bush isn't -- that's your message.

But then you start to focus your "anti" rhetoric on your real opponents -- not that guy in the Oval Office, but the "Washington insiders" you're running against. That's your first mistake. It's one thing to trash the opposition, but Dean probably wen't too far out of his way to trash the guys he has to beat before he gets to the convention. That made them focus on him, and his weaknesses. And it worked.

I think the mistake Dean made in Iowa was underestimating Iowans. They may be pissed off at Bush, but I don't think they think an angry, feisty outsider has a chance in Washington, especially with a Republican Congress. It smells too much like four years of Dean ranting about Congress not passing his legislation -- so nothing gets done and the Republicans bulldoze him in 2008. Whereas, they saw Kerry and Edwards as two guys who've gotten stuff done (I guess they have, though I couldn't tell you what -- nor do I care) while being in the minority. At least they don't think they'll embarrass the party, while Dean could do so easily.

Having said that, Dean still has some momentum, but whether he gets bummed out and bites everyone's heads off -- I can just hearing him yelling at his staff about how he should never have tried to "soften" his image -- or whether he tries to start delivering a message that isn't just anti-Bush will depend on whether he is still the real deal or the new Gary Hart.


Friday, January 16, 2004

JIHAD OR MCWORLD?

Victor David Hanson talks today about an issue first raised ten years ago by Benjamin Barber. Barber summarized it in his Atlantic article called Jihad vs. McWorld.

At the end of the day, this is (in its most simplistic yin vs. yang comparison) the conflict. You'll hear it called many things, especially tribalism vs. globalism, but this is what it's all about.

And, as Hanson and Barber describe, it's not going away and neither extreme is really all that "pretty".

The challenge for the next generation of world leaders is how to strike a balance that minimizes armed conflict. Not an easy task when both sides goals demand the destruction of the other.


Thursday, January 15, 2004

NO BLOGGING FOR A FEW DAYS

Off to the left coast -- in enemy territory in San Fran for a couple of days, then celebrating Martin Luther King Day.

Plenty of news today:

Mosely-Braun Quits Race
ABC News Does Hatchet Job On Dean
Kerry Slips Into The Lead In Iowa
Bank One and JP Morgan Chase To Merge
First Time Unemployment Claims Lower Than Expected

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

NOW I'M WORRIED

I accidently saw snippets from the last Dem debate and I was struck by the fact that civil rights activist Rev. Al Sharpton appeared to be one of the most reasonable people in the group. Given his prior record and my memories of him when I lived in the NYC area in the 1990's, I shudder. But then, the reality is he isn't in it to win, only to gain legitimacy.

That's the scary part . . . he is sounding legitimate.


OK -- WHICH IS IT?

Stephen Hayes, writing in the Weekly Standard, asks a simple question. He documents Secretary Powell and VP Cheney's comments about the al-Qaeda/Iraqi connection. Powell's comments awhile ago are consistent with Cheney's recent comments (the connection existed), but Powell now seems to be hedging (no "smoking gun").

Hayes' simple question: What's the administration's view?

Good question. Deserves a single answer; not a multiple choice.

My bet is Powell is out of a job after the elections.


Tuesday, January 13, 2004

LOSER!!!

I found former Secretary O'Neill's "big disclosures" to be non-starters. They appear to all be BFOs (blinding flashes of the obvious). Another case of the media latching on to a failure and trying to turn a few sour grapes into wine.

But the most telling comment of all was his response to the question "will you vote for Bush?" His answer: "I don't see anyone who is better prepared or more capable."

He has no problem trying to trash him, but thinks he's the most capable guy out there. I'm sorry, but that seems to define O'Neill as a textbook hypocrite.


ISN'T CAPITALISM GREAT?

While there are places in the world like North Korea, where it appears that the situation is so dire you wouldn't be shocked to hear of cannibalism, there is the rest of the world, where most of us live in wealthy capitalistic societies.

A measure of this is the fact that in the past year we spent $3.5 billion to download unique ring-tones for our cell phones.

The mind boggles . . .


"PART OF THE PROBLEM"

You remember Sisyphus don't you? he was condemned to an eternity of rolling a large stone up a mountain, only to have it roll back down, up-down-up-down . . . forever.

When I read David Brooks' op-ed piece in the NY Times this morning, I thought of Sisyphus. The Democratic leadership must identify with him. They can't wrangle their members and, at present, they have ceded the stage to the more extreme lefties. It seems this only pleaseS the lefties, as many centrist Dems seem willing to vote for Bush. Which means that Bush need only appeal to these Democrats and he has things locked up in November.

Which also means that the extreme lefties will be even more vile in their righteous indignation over their defeat. As Brooks says in his piece, this group of Democrats "is so disgusted by Republicans that it does not believe it is possible to work with such people."

So, like in 2000, instead of trying to play the game, they will take their balls and bats and go home to pout, just like the spoiled babies they appear to be. Wasn't it Eldrige Cleaver who said, "If you're not a part of the solution, you're a part of the problem"? Even an extreme radical such as Cleaver recognized that basic tenet of our society. If you're not willing to jump in and help, don't show up.


AH, TO BE FRENCH . . .

I actually don't care what the French do anymore, but they do seem to be conflicted.

They have a large and growing Arab, Muslim population and have distinguished themselves in being two-faced when it comes to any middle east issue. Mostly, recent history has been for them to have a detectable bias in favor of this segment of their society, and an opposite bias toward their Jewish citizens.

So I'm baffled as to why they have now banned all religious "headgear" from public schools. I'm sure they say to the Muslims, "hey, the Jews can't wear yarmulkes anymore; sorry, no exceptions". But the Muslims aren't happy. And, like a lot of things these days, that is what is news.


IT REMINDS ME OF THE BORG

(I'm not a major Star Trekkie, but I did enjoy episodes of Next Generation that included the Borg. For those who never saw it, the Borg was a civilization that traveled on a large, cube-shaped spacecraft. Each member of the Borg was a former humanoid that had been "networked" -- their brains were connected, creating a "supercomputer" mind that controlled them and their ship. Their only negotiation with civilizations they were about to conquer was "resistance is futile, you will be assimilated." They took the people they wanted and vaporized everything else.)

The past few days, there has been a meme threaded through a number of articles (I can't find the first one who had this idea). It goes like this:

1. Israel is/was suppposed to be the "homeland" for the Jews.
2. Israel is a democracy, therefore its citizens can decide its fate.
3. Not all citizens of Israel are Jews.
4. Given Israel's current demographics and population growth, Israel (as a Jewish state) will cease to exist within a generation or two.

Hence, my possibly politically incorrect (like I care) comment about the Borg. In the article linked above, the writer suggests making all Jews "virtual citizens" of Israel, but that's just playing a delaying game. It could still happen (Jews becoming a minority in Israel).


RACIAL BIAS . . . NEVER A GOOD THING

There are some things you just don't say, right?

But in the world today, some of those things are more acceptable than others.

Read Mark Steyn's article in the Telegraph (registration required) to see what I mean.

In the article, Mark talks about the double standard in the BBC, where it's OK to make blatantly anti-Semitic comments, but "anti-Arab" comments just cost someone their job, hence the title to Mark's column -- "We are falling under the imam's spell".

As I said, racial bias is never a good thing, but it appears, at least with the BBC, that some racial bias is acceptable.

Wretchard, astute as always, voices his opinion on the matter this morning.


Monday, January 12, 2004

SO MUCH FOR THE "NEW" HOWARD DEAN

You read it here last week. The "new" Howard Dean was going to be the guy moving to the center, keeping his lip zipped, sounding more and more electable -- avoiding the rep he had for being elitist, arrogant and mean. But no-o-o-o-o-o . . .

All it took was one simple Iowa retiree to piss him off. Dean treated him like a speed bump. Instead of a thoughtful answer he got humiliation.

Gee, Howie does have contempt for mere mortals.


THE SUPREMES AGREE

In an important victory in the war on terror . . .

What the hell? Aren't wars fought between enemies? But this "enemy" was "civil liberties groups". So in this war, at least we know whose side they're on.

. . . the Supreme Court sided with the government's policy of treating detainees as enemy combatants and not releasing their names.


Friday, January 09, 2004

HANSON COMES OUT SWINGING

Every time you think (after reading a Victor Davis Hanson column) "well, he's covered the subject", a week later you realize "not completely."

Today, he talks at length about how much has changed in the past 30 years . . . and much remains the same. He ends by saying:

Downsizing in Europe, seeing a wall rise on Israel's border, and trying to create democracy in places like Afghanistan and Iraq are not pleasant, easy solutions. Indeed, such tough efforts to end the familiar status quo will prompt greater outrage. Expect more adolescent "I hate Bush" articles, gloomy, end-of-the-world scenarios in the New York Review of Books, and hysterical appearances from an array of ex-NATO apparatchiks, worried former Saudi ambassadors, out-of-work Clinton State Department "crisis-managers," and frowning Washington insiders. Anticipate also more invective about "neoconservatives," "unilateralism," "ideologically driven policy," "hegemony," "squandered good will" — and all the other meaningless buzz words and third-hand catch-phrases that now are regurgitated daily in lieu of thoughtful analysis.

Yet in truth we are witnessing a radical change in the world's landscape, a much-needed honesty that will soon curtail both the deceitful rhetoric and hypocritical behavior that have insidiously warped us all in the West during the last 20 years.

So let the waters wash on through the stables of our corruption.


Ditto.


READ THIS ONE

Arnold Kling's post on Tech Central Station is excellent. That's all I'll say about it -- read it.


MARK STEYN AT FULL CHAT

Mark's current column in the Spectator is a good one. In it, he takes issue with Neal Starkman, the columnist of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, who wrote a column saying the only possible explanation for people liking Bush is they're stupid.


ANOTHER GOOD ASSESSMENT OF DEAN

Mickey Kaus has a good sum up of "Dean's Dilemma". Simplistically, it goes like this:

1. Dean's popularity, in part, is due to his rep as a brusque, no-filter-between-brain-and-mouth kind of guy. Gets angry and speaks his mind, but that pisses a whole lot of people off. Makes him appear to be a loose cannon sometimes and inconsistent on the issues. (In other words, this is who he really is.)

2. Starting a couple of days ago, Dean started sounding more like Bill Clinton (i.e., "centrist").

3. If Dean stays in the center, he loses his "energy" and people will become bored with him.


THE WORMS TURN

I guess the mainstream media love affair with Howard Dean is corroding.

At least the folks at NBC are willing to do a little old fashioned detective work to answer the question "so who is this guy?"

As I've said many times, Dean is not the guy you see on TV each day. That guy is a creature of spin doctors.


Thursday, January 08, 2004

FLAG ON THE PLAY

Ambulance chaser alert!

Wal Mart is being sued by a couple who claim the negligent packing of a grocery bag (that they allege broke when they got home) injured the wife's foot and ankle and the husband is also asking for damages due to loss of consortium (translation: no sex for him!).

Am I needlessly paranoid, or does it seem that Wal Mart is a lawsuit magnet?


THIS IS A REAL KNEE-SLAPPER

Well, maybe not for everyone . . .

Alan Sokal is a professor of physics at NYU. He wrote an article a number of years ago and got it published in Social Text, a "journal of cultural and political analysis".

That wasn't the funny part. You see, Social Text is a hoity-toity journal whose editors are decidedly closeted academic intellectuals (literary and humanities types). As a scientist, Sokol decided to do an experiment to test his thesis. His thesis was simple: these particular intellectuals would publish anything that sounded scholarly, provided it reached the right (er, left) conclusion politically.

He was right (er, correct). The article was published in 1996. Buried in it, he used a lot of technical terms that were essentially meaningless. Amongst his conclusions were the belief that science was corrupted by capitalists and the military.

He fessed up in another article where he discusses what he did and why, and also admits that he too is a leftist, making it (in my mind) even funnier.

For more on this visit Professor Sokol's website.

(Hat tip to Steven den Beste.)


GOOD TAKE ON HOWIE

William Saletan has a good sum up of Dean's latest debate performance.


SHIT? GET OFF POT? SHIT? GET OFF POT? FISH? CUT BAIT? FISH? CUT BAIT?

Oh, the dilemmas of a Democrat candidate for president.

What do you do? The one thing that they think resonates is to bash the President. And it seems to work well for chunks of their natural constituency. But is that enough? I don't think so.

While they're bashing him, Bush is ignoring their very existence and is making shit happen. They bitch and complain about the "quagmire in Iraq", and he end-runs them on an issue like immigration, a previously "Democrat" issue.

At some point along the way to the first Tuesday in November, it would be nice to hear a Democrat answer two questions:

1. OK, we understand you think the war in Iraq is a bad thing, but it's a bell that can't be un-rung. We're there. If you were President today, what's the first thing you would do?

2. Aside from Iraq, what is your plan to eradicate terrorism?


Wednesday, January 07, 2004

THIS WOULD BE THE WRONG REASON TO VOTE AGAINST DEAN

A recent poll indicates Howard Dean's lack of overt religous fervor could lose him votes. Too bad. Of course he didn't help himself by trying to over-correct saying he knew a lot about the Bible, only to forget that his "favorite book" (Job) is in the Old Testament, not the New Testament.

His not knowing when to shut up is a better reason to not vote for him.


CLOSET RACIST? YOU DECIDE . . .

The junior Senator from New York stuck her foot in her mouth again and continues to demonstrate that, whether or not she walks the walk, her talk certainly indicates a core tinge of racisim. Given where she grew up ("white" suburbs of Chicago), that's not a surprise.

She at least demonstrates very poor judgment.


A NATION DIVIDED

Like you didn't already know it, but this article from The Christian Science Monitor details the results of recent polling that clearly demonstrates the Mars/Venus aspect to this year's presidential race.


GEE, DO YOU THINK IT HAS ANYTHING TO DO WITH CAPTURING SADDAM?

Israel and Libya are talking.

Syria's Assad has visited Turkey for the first time.

Iran and Egypt are re-establishing full diplomatic ties.

ALLIES NO MORE

Germany, France and Russia. They're dead meat, but for the past decade they've been dying, so it shouldn't be a surprise. Charles Krauthammer bangs a few nails in their coffins just for good measure.

I'm not sure the Russians have ever really been an ally, and the last time I recall Germany and France really stepping up to the line was in the Gulf War.

In fact, a lot of folks ar suggesting that the concept of the "West" (as in the Cold War concept of the "West") is no longer geographically correct or even useful, since our true allies are no longer the traditional western European countries, but include many eastern European and Asian/Pacific countries.


MARK NAILS IT

For all those who believe we're no better/worse than anybody else, Mark Steyn's column yesterday in the Jerusalem Post, by using defining events, describes how we are indeed very different from everybody else.


Tuesday, January 06, 2004

COULD WE HAVE PREVENTED 9/11?

Absolutely.

Could it happen again? Read this before you answer.


IF YOU LIKE RUMSFELD . . .

. . . you'll like this.

What I like about Rumsfeld is very simple -- he doesn't give a shit what you might think about what he's about to say. That allows him to communicate freely and honestly. And often, he's damn funny in his ability to weave the serious work of managing the US defense infrastructure with a bit of humor -- like when asked a few months ago who we could count on in Iraq he said, "I believe Libya, Cuba and Germany are the ones that I have indicated won't help in any respect."

Of course, since then, Libya has stepped up. The other two are still strangely silent.

Monday, January 05, 2004

CLUELESS MEDIA ALERT

Want to know whether your "favorite" mainstream medium is clueless? If they don't devote a big chunk of time to India and Pakistan's agreement to meet with one another, they just don't get it.


CREATIVE TERROR PLOT OF THE WEEK

A tampon bomb? I can't wait to hear what Leno and Letterman say about this . . .


MORE INSIGHT FROM VDH

Victor Davis Hanson's article in Commentary is well worth the read.

As always, he provides answers to the stupid questions asked by the mainstream media. And he posits rhetorical questions for them.

An example: What would have been the reaction of the New Yorker or the New York Review of Books had the coalition forces shot 500 looters to restore order and save the infrastructure of an entire people, or had we kept the Iraqi army intact to curb lawlessness, or had a no-nonsense provisional government of exiles ensured that the trains were to be running on time? Instead of hearing now about chaos and quagmire, we would be reading about poor families whose innocent teenage sons had been caught in crossfire, or about Baathists with dark pasts entrenched in the new military, or about the counterproductive American obsession with order rather than with pluralist democracy.


Friday, January 02, 2004

"THE FIRST THING WE DO, LET'S KILL ALL THE LAWYERS"

Old chiche*, I know. Since Dick and the boys didn't do it, maybe it should be the next thing we do.

I'm beginning to wonder when the fruit that we reap from being so well protected by plaintiff/class action lawyers will begin to poison us.

Sure, it's probably made cars somewhat safer and there are about 15 stickers on a ladder that explain how to use it so you won't fall off, but those aren't the ones that bother me.

It's ones like these that I'm talking about.


* Dick the Butcher -- HENRY VI Part 2, act iv: scene ii:

IT AIN'T THE TEN COMMANDMENTS

The Code of Hammurabi is often mentioned as a precursor to the Ten Commandments. In the context of the war in Iraq, it's been mentioned that Hammurabi was the great ruler of Babylon in the 18th century BC. But have you read it?

It's pretty simple (though it has 282 "rules") and is more in the vein of the Code of Samurai. If you screw up, you die. If you falsely accuse someone else of screwing up, you die. You get the idea.

But it has some features that would be great in today's society. Like the provision that a judge who makes an error shall be personally liable for his error and be fined twelve times the amount of the "fine" he levied, is removed from the bench and never allowed to sit on the bench again.


PROGRESS IN IRAQ

Read this update from a Marine commander, detailing what's happened in the "quagmire" called Iraq.

Quagmire indeed . . .


STILL SCARY

Want to get some objective insight into what it's like on the street in Iraq?

Read this.


SAUDI ARABIA -- A BIGGER RISK THAN IRAN, SYRIA OR NORTH KOREA?

Might be. It's a troubling place for multiple reasons.

Iran, Syria and North Korea are already in the "bad actor" pigeon hole. Saudi Arabia is in the netherworld between staunch ally (on some issues) and unbridled enemy (on some issues).

But most Americans know little about the country and its inner workings. Even if you lived there, as many of my banking friends did, you really don't know much about the place.

That's why this piece from Foreign Affairs is both enlightening and disturbing.


FUNNY/SERIOUS

Michael Crichton delivered a speech almost a year ago that is both funny and disturbing, and it's suprising to me that I just discovered it today. The subjects he spoke about -- global warming, extraterrestrials, nuclear winter -- are subjects that you'd think would've caused his speech to be widely reported.

Perhaps it's because he debunks each that they weren't.


I WAS WRONG

(How many times do you think I say that in any given month?)

But in the case of Bam, the Iranian city that was flattened by a 6.5 quake, my pseudo-scientific response was "what do you expect in a city where the newest house is probably 200 years old?

Turns out I was wrong. Turns out a lot of these "mud huts" were new mud huts. Turns out Iran is no less corrupt and good old fashion greed and corrupt behavior is still rampant in the land of the mullahs. And in the case of Bam, it's the reason many are dead.

Read this piece from the NY Post and see what I mean.