Wednesday, March 31, 2004

MINI-BLOG

Busy today. No time for blogging, except for this thought-provoking piece from the "other" Arnold. Arnold Kling writes about the future.


Tuesday, March 30, 2004

THE BRITS AND FILLIPINOS AREN'T SCREWING AROUND

Nor are the Uzbekis. They all know they are in the crosshairs of al Qaeda.

This morning, they orchestrated arrests of multiple suspects in England, Uzbekistan and the Phillipines.

Good show.


DEMOCRATS SHOULD JUST MOVE ON

I saw an interesting polling statistic this morning.

67% of Americans believe that 9/11 could not have been prevented.

They've heard the testimony. They've read the stories. They've heard the accusations (on both sides). They've decided.

The degree to which Democrats try to make 9/11 a campaign issue only diverts their attention from issues where the public is not quite so sure.

Said another way, the longer the Republicans can keep the Democrats focused on 9/11, the more people will resent the Democrats.


GOOD INSIGHT INTO WHAT KERRY WOULD DO ABOUT TERRORISM

Melana Vickers deconstructs the "Democrat" approach to terror. It provides some insight into how John K. might approach the war on terror.


SOWELL FOR PRESIDENT

Thomas Sowell puts forth his platform today, though he's not running for office.


NEVER FORGET

During his 1971 congressional testimony about the Vietnam War, a man who would one day seek the Democratic party's nomination in the 2004 presidential race was asked by a senator to assess the threat of Communism, not just to Indochina, but to world peace in general. The witness responded, "I think it is bogus, totally artificial. There is no threat. The Communists are not about to take over our McDonald hamburger stands."

In the decade following the witness's testimony, the nonexistent threat resulted in the slaughter of 2,000,000 Cambodians; the invasion of Afghanistan by the Soviets; the internment of hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese in reeducation camps; numerous civil wars and bloody insurgencies in Central Africa, South and Central America and Southeast Asia; the mass migration of hordes of starving refugees; the proliferation of state-sponsored terrorism; the "disappearance" of hundreds of thousands of "undesirables" and enemies of the state; the imprisonment and torture of countless dissidents; and the continued brutal subjugation of more than one-third of the world's population.


Excerpt from article about John Kerry.


TOO BAD OTHER EUROPEANS DON'T THINK LIKE JEAN-CHRISTOPHE MOUNICQ

Read his painful column about terror and the hypocritical pacifism of Europeans and moderate Muslims.

He's mad as hell. Too bad other Europeans are hiding in their closets of appeasement.

A sample:

Following the attacks in Madrid, this feeling struck me again. The reaction of the Spanish people, cringing in fear before the Islamist claim of responsibility, bothered me even more. I can no longer tolerate such cowardly Munich-like behavior that leads inevitably to dishonor and war.


FREE AT LAST, FREE AT LAST . . .

What would Martin Luther King say about Iraq?

I'm betting (if he were still alive), his sentiments would be very similar to Ann Clwyd, British Member of Parliament.

Who's Ann Clywd? Read this.


WHAT IF AL GORE WON?

If he did, we wouldn't have done much of anything after 9/11.

And we now know what would have happened if we didn't react.

People in LA and Chicago should be thankful their candidate didn't succeed. If he did, many of them would now be dead.


KIDNAP A PRINCE

OK, that's my idea to put pressure on OPEC. Threaten to castrate him if they don't lower oil to $25/bbl. If it doesn't work the first time, after there are 20 or 30 royal eunuchs they might reconsider. What do you think?

Don't like it? Well, compare it to whatever Kerry proposes today. His campaign says he's going to tell us his plan to get the price of oil down. Can't wait. I do know one thing, though. A big part of his solution will involve -- surprise -- diplomacy.

UPDATE: Here it is, the John Kerry Energy Plan: pressure OPEC to provide more oil, simplify rules on gas to reduce costs, and develop more energy-efficient vehicles. Uh, OK, well, that's certainly something new and different.


Monday, March 29, 2004

BLOGAVERSARY

I just realized, looking at the "Archives" dates, that I made my first post to this blog on 3/28/03, so yesterday was the first annual "blogaversary".

And I remember why I did it. Things were hot & heavy in iraq and I was spending too much time e-mailing friends links to stories on the web. It was a lot easier to just blog it.

It still is, so I'll keep it up until there's nothing to blog about. You know, when Hell freezes.


THE MAN WITH THE MIRROR

Victor Davis Hanson's post yesterday is a wonderful "mirror" -- you know, the best way to answer irrational criticism is often to hold a mirror in the face of the one offering criticism. In this case, his piece titled "When should we stop supporting Israel?" provides a clear, step-by-step plan. A couple of examples (all of which are practices of Hamas, Hezbollah and Yassir Arafat) of events that will result in the US ceasing to support Israel:

Preteen Israeli children are apprehended with bombs under their shirts on their way to the West Bank to murder Palestinian families.

Israeli crowds rush into the street to dip their hands into the blood of their dead and march en masse chanting mass murder to the Palestinians.

Rabbis give public sermons in which they characterize Palestinians as the children of pigs and monkeys.


Until then, and so long as the Palestians/Hamas/Hezbollah continue to commit their atrocities, the US will fully support Israel.


READY TO READ AND THINK?

Wretchard's post from Friday, titled "Mordor" will cause you to think. It begins:

The possible electoral defeat of President Bush by John Kerry raises the question of whether the Global War on Terror ultimately requires a war on the Left. That is to say whether a political defeat of the Left is a prerequisite for stamping out worldwide terrorism. Anecdotal evidence suggests that many in the Left, at least, believes that the GWOT is a war on them. America, not Osama Bin Laden is the putative enemy, and their fire is directed accordingly. Conversely, many conservatives are conditioned by the sight of a de facto alliance between the Left and Islamism to think that both parties are on the same side of the fence. But must it necessarily be so?

WHERE'S THE MORAL OUTRAGE WHEN YOU NEED IT?

Of course it was about the oil!

No, not in the way you heard from the left; this was what it was all about.


I DIDN'T INHALE! I'M NOT A CROOK!

Kerry seems to be trumpeting his "war record". So why isn't he trumpeting his "anti-war record"?

Think it was all innocent and idealistic? Read these two snippets:

This month his campaign several times said he "never, ever" attended a Kansas City meeting of antiwar leadership where members discussed and voted on an assassination plot against pro-war U.S. senators. Then, when confronted with FBI surveillance records of the meeting, the campaign acknowledged his presence as "an historical footnote." Mr. Kerry told a Boston radio station the whole story was "such ancient history." It was time to move on.

Last week Gerald Nicosia, the historian who first uncovered evidence the FBI tailed Mr. Kerry back in 1971, reported to police that three of the 14 boxes of the FBI files he obtained under the Freedom of Information Act were stolen from his California home and that other individual files from the remaining 11 boxes were also swiped, including documents about Mr. Kerry that Mr. Nicosia hadn't yet reviewed. "Those revelations are lost now, at least to me," Mr. Nicosia told the Associated Press. Someone, either friend or foe of Mr. Kerry, apparently knew what he was looking for.

As for the first one, he might say (paraphrasing Clinton), "I was at that meeting, but I didn't really listen to what anyone was saying."

And as for the document theft (kind of a dumb thing to do since they were obviously copies of the original documents), when it's proved some Gordon Liddy-type, ex-CIA operative orchestrated the theft using DNC slush funds, he can say "I was at that meeting, but I didn't really listen to what anyone was saying."


Thursday, March 25, 2004

FINALLY!

Over the years, you've always been able to count on Amnesty International to point out the "wrongdoings" of most industrial, first-world nations, and ignore what goes on elsewhere.

Today, however, they've broken the mold. They've really stuck out their necks on this one, folks. As Yoda might say, "a big risk taken, they have."

They've made a public appeal to the Palestinian leadership to stop using children as suicide bombers.

Wow, that's really sticking your neck out, isn't it.

Phony assholes.

KERRY, KERRY, HE'S OUR MAN. IF HE CAN'T SCREW US, NO ONE CAN

This story needs to be read to those in Michigan and Ohio who believe Kerry will help them.

The punch line? Massachusetts has experienced the largest percentage (not absolute) job loss of any state.

So what has Kerry done to help?


IT'S ABOUT TIME!

I just found it, don't know how long it's been up, but it's about time.

Victor Davis Hanson now has his own website.


JUST DO IT.

Have you seen the Media Fund's and MoveOn.org's TV ads? They are very specific about which candidate they are for. Yet, the use of "soft money" to run such ads was supposedly banned by the most recent legislation regulating political contributions.

After sitting on their thumbs, it's rumored the Republicans are contemplating a criminal referral to the DOJ over this activity, but that's all they've been doing for weeks -- talking.

Stop talking. Just do it.


BOB KERREY -- BUSH SHOULD BE GLAD HE'S RUNNING AGAINST THE "OTHER KERRY"

Have you followed the 9/11 commission hearings? Me neither.

But I couldn't resist reading this column about Kerrey. Damn. Read what he has to say about 9/11 and what he's asked the witnesses before the commission and ask yourself "isn't this what I would have asked?"

I forgot about Kerrey. He was a bit of a Dem superstar a few years ago, but then disappeared into academia. I wonder why? He still seems like a fairly rational voice, something (and someone) the Dems need.


RANDOM THOUGHTS

Thomas Sowell is a common-sense economist. He isn't particularly well-liked by African-Americans (though he is African-American) because he is politically conservative. Years ago, I'd guess he'd get labeled as an "Uncle Tom". But if you read what he writes, you'd have to ask why he isn't more admired by those who might so label him.

A sampling of what he writes about in his post today, which it titled (appropriately) "Random Thoughts":

The fraudulence of the left's concern about poverty is exposed by their utter lack of interest in ways of increasing the nation's wealth. Wealth is the only thing that can cure poverty. The reason there is less poverty today is not because the poor got a bigger slice of the pie but because the whole pie got a lot bigger -- no thanks to the left.

Of course, logic like that is foreign to the likes of Teddy Kennedy, spiritual advisor and mentor to John Kerry. Guys like Teddy and John never had to work in the real world, never had the chance to build a business, hire and train people to become productive citizens. Never learned what it's like to actually see wealth being created for many people who actually earned that wealth, each feeling a sense of tremendous accomplishment.

Maybe this election campaign will provide us with another Reagan moment, when the majority pounds yet another nail in the coffin of the left/liberal/socialist/sometimes communist point of view that wealth is a zero-sum game -- the idea that the only reason there is poverty is because there are wealthy people in the world who have "stolen" that wealth from the poor.

The simplistic solution has always been to play Robin Hood. But haven't we tried that (and failed miserably)?


IS DAVID BACK?

David Warren, of davidwarrenonline.com, went off into the woods a couple of months ago. I used to read him regularly, but he then found Catholicism and everything he wrote somehow came back to that, so I de-linked him.

However, it seems David is now back and his post yesterday is a powerful, logical explanation why Israel's decision to assassinate (powerful word, but this fits the definition) Sheik Yassin was appropriate, given the circumstances.


Wednesday, March 24, 2004

NUMB NUTS STORY OF THE WEEK

The State of New Jersey has just sued Nissan for offering xenon hi-intensity headlights on their cars -- you know, the bright, blue-white lights you see on many cars these days.

Why are they being sued? You decide:

a. Safety reasons -- they're too bright and blind oncoming drivers at night.
b. They burn out more quickly than normal bulbs.
c. They're too expensive -- Nissan is ripping off the consumer.
d. None of the above.

The answer is "d", but it's also a little of "c".

You see, it takes an experienced car parts thief about 90 seconds to steal the xenon bulbs, which can then be sold for about $250. So the State of New Jersey (are you ready for this one?) says Nissan should have disclosed to consumers the bulbs are attractive to thieves and are easy to steal. That way, they'd be informed enough to be able to make a decision about whether or not to pay for the option (if it's an option). Many cars with xenon lights come standard with them, so I'd guess New Jersey would want to protect those consumers as well through disclosures or maybe even force Nissan to allow consumers the option of having regular halogen bulbs (which cost about $50 a pair).

The point which they miss is that everybody should already know xenon lights are expensive since you will only find them (typically) on cars over $35,000, and usually only as standard equipment on the top tier brands.

This is a great example highlighting (no pun intended) C.C. Kraemer's point that America continues its trend of punishing success.

What I also find offensive is that people who can afford $40,000 cars are bitching about this. Or maybe this is coming from the insurance companies?


THE CLINTON MIND-SET

A good article in today's WaPo.


DICK MORRIS SAYS IT LOOKS LIKE A SLAM DUNK

For Bush, that is.

Dick's point is that Bush's ads have focused people on Kerry's record, which I've said before speaks for itself.


Tuesday, March 23, 2004

DIMPLOMACY FAILED

It will be interesting to see if these exact words are used in their final report, but this AP story describing the findings of the so-called "9/11 Commission" came to that conclusion. The quote from this article:

The independent commission reviewing the Sept. 11 attacks said in a preliminary report that the decision to use diplomatic rather than military options against al-Qaida allowed the Sept. 11 terrorists to elude capture years before the attacks.

The commission's preliminary report findings were:

CONCLUSION

-- From the spring of 1997 to September 2001 the U.S. government tried to persuade the Taliban to expel Bin Ladin to a country where he could face justice and stopbeing a sanctuary for his organization. The efforts employed inducements,
warnings, and sanctions. All these efforts failed.

-- The U.S. government also pressed two successive Pakistani governments to demand that the Taliban cease providing a sanctuary for Bin Ladin and his organization and, failing that, to cut off their support for the Taliban. Before 9/11 the United States could not find a mix of incentives or pressure that would persuade Pakistan to reconsider its fundamental relationship with the Taliban.

-- From 1999 through early 2001, the United States pressed the UAE, one of the Taliban’s only travel and financial outlets to the outside world, to break off ties and enforce sanctions, especially related to air travel to Afghanistan. These efforts achieved little before 9/11.

-- The government of Saudi Arabia worked closely with top U.S. officials in major initiatives to solve the Bin Ladin problem with diplomacy. On the other hand, before 9/11 the Saudi and U.S. governments did not achieve full sharing of important intelligence information or develop an adequate joint effort to track and disrupt the finances of the al Qaeda organization.


So if the key findings of this commission are that diplomacy failed repeatedly, how does John Kerry survive scrutiny when he's said over and over and over that the solution to the "war on terror" is diplomacy? If anything, the conclusion you must draw is that diplomacy is a tool by which terror groups directly and indirectly gain power and influence and then, when you least expect it, attack your most vulnerable target.


WHAT THE . . . ?

The latest Zogby Poll shows that Nader takes votes away from Bush?

Please, anybody, tell me who would swing their vote between Bush and Nader? Or is it just a protest vote -- like Perot?


ARE PALESTINIANS WEEDS?

Strange question. But logical once you read Bret Stephens piece. It's excellent.

It does shed some light on one question many ask -- what motivates a suicide bomber?


WHO'S YOUR ENEMY?

You're 42 years old, you used to have a great job, but you don't anymore. Who's your enemy?

a. Outsourcing or, as John Kerry would phrase it, "Benedict Arnold CEOs" who ship jobs overseas.
b. The ongoing quest for increased productivity through the use of technology.

In could be either but as Ted Balaker writes, don't automatically assume "a", because the world is still becoming more and more automated. Most often the movement of jobs offshore is to take advantage of lower labor costs, where labor is a significiant portion of total cost. The elimination of some jobs, however, continues to be due to increased productivity available through the use of technology, and it isn't just on the assembly line. In fact, it's occuring in all industries (have you used the "self-checkout" line at the grocery?).

Many jobs over the past ten years have been eliminated forever in service businesses. Workflow automation software and "intelligent" systems have made automated decision-making and the processing of information much more efficient. More important, systems have become much more scalable (meaning they can absorb enormous volatility swings in volume without becoming overstressed), so businesses can expand/contract without having to hire/fire people as the economy moves up/down.

As an example, in banking we used to have many, many credit analysts. They would review loan requests, from a credit card application to a large corporate loan. After much analysis and exercise of seasoned judgment, they'd make a decision. Today, a human rarely looks at loans under $500,000 or so. The credit-granting decision has become totally automated. To give you an idea what this means, the mortgage industry has funded almost $4 trillion in loans over the past 12 months, about the same volume that was funded from 1990 to 1995. And, though the numbers are murky, the total employment in the industry hasn't even doubled. So how do you pull that off? One word -- technology. Not outsourcing.


Monday, March 22, 2004

QUICK, SPELL UZBEKISTAN. AND FOR BONUS POINTS, NAME TWO COUNTRIES IT BORDERS.

An easy test actually, since its spelling is fairly phonetic and it borders the other "-stans" -- just pick two.

But do you know anything about it other than how to spell it? Me neither.

Read this and you might be surprised.


GOOD NEWS OR BAD NEWS?

Hard to tell, but the Israelis took out the founder and leader of Hamas yesterday. Only time will tell whether things will get better . . . or worse.


I HATE TO SAY IT, BUT . . .

Italy and the UK are next. Maybe Poland, who knows.

After al Qaeda successfully got what they wanted from the Madrid bombing (change in government, troops to be pulled from Iraq), they have to be emboldened by this move. Though 9/11 didn't have the desired effect (it only made things worse for them), 3/11 appears to be working marvelously.

With Italy, Berlusconi is not the typical Italian leader of the past 25-30 years and Blair is already not extraordinarily well-liked by the Brits. And the Polish leader is backpedaling.

As I see it, the terrorists will hit whomever they think is most vulnerable to public opinion. But should Iraq have public, democratic elections before then, the outcome of another attack may not be to their liking.

Andrew Sullivan has written an excellent piece on this subject. Read it.


Friday, March 19, 2004

AND ON A LIGHTER NOTE

Good grief. This guy truly is a moron.

CNN reports that Jeff Skilling, ex-CEO of Enron, has paid his lawyers $23 million (so far) to defend himself from the many lawsuits and criminal charges against him for looting and trashing Enron. He overpaid for absolutely everything while he was running Enron. You'd think we would have learned his lesson, but no-o-o-o-o-o.

Skilling is pleading with the judge asking the judge to unfreeze assets that have been frozen. So he can pay his lawyers another $23 million?


WHY DO THEY HATE US?

Face it, at some point before, on, or after 9/11 you asked yourself that question. What level of hate leads someone to choose to die as a means to kill many, many others? And please don't talk about the 72 virgins thing. I don't for a minute believe that's the sole motivation. When you look in the eyes of the Palestinians who videotape themselves just before they vaporize a busload of Jews, you don't see a person enraptured or joyful at what's about to happen. You see a person with emptiness in their eyes, not happiness.

Thomas Sowell took a stab at answering this question in his column. It repeats a thesis which many have repeated since the "middle east problem" became front of mind for many of us in 2000 when the Hamas-driven intifada resumed.

The core issue is the economic failure of Arab Muslim cultures. It resonates with me but the failure will continue (as will terrorism) until those cultures put the past behind them, admit their "failure" and move forward. I honestly don't see that happening anytime soon.


AN INTERESTING COMPARISON OF PARENTING STYLES . . .

and how it applies to the war on terrorism.

Huh? Yep, Dr. Arnold Kling, economist extraordinaire, writes today that we can learn a lot about people's reaction to terrorism by understanding parenting styles. Are you "strict" or are you "nurturing"? Or somewhere in between? The answer to those questions probably describe what your approach would be in dealing with terrorists.

He makes the quite valid point that a "nurturing" (subliminal hint: liberal) approach to terrorism will always fail. And the arguing that goes back and forth between liberals ("nurturers") and conservatives ("strict-ers") is so counterproductive that some very germain questions don't get asked or answered.

Like:

What should be the nation's surveillance architecture?

What are our expectations for moderate Muslims?

What would it take to win the war against terrorism?



DEMOCRACY -- WHAT DOES IT MEAN?

Even if you think you know the answer, read today's installment of VDH.

The good professor warns us that the goal of democracy in Iraq will not be accomplished just because they have one open, free election. Check back in 10, 20, 30 years for the final results.


NO MATTER WHAT HAPPENS IN IRAQ . . .

It's stuff like this and this and this that will result in Bush going back to Texas in January.


Thursday, March 18, 2004

THE LOWEST OF THE LOW

Israeli troops intercepted a 12-year old boy at a checkpoint yesterday. The boy was carrying a bomb. That isn't necessarily all that shocking, except he didn't know he was carrying a bomb.

In what has to be the most outrageous example of evil, the plan was to detonate the bomb by remote-control, only it malfunctioned. The people who asked the boy to carry the school bag the bomb was in didn't tell him what was in it. He thought he was helping someone carry their bag.

Anything to kill Israelis, even the sacrifice of your own innocent children.

I know most Europeans won't admit to the existence of "good" and "evil". They're just hiding from the truth. If this isn't an example of evil, the word has no meaning.


ZAPATERO ENDORSES KERRY - - AL QAEDA ENDORSES BUSH

Spain's newly-elected wuss has openly come out for Kerry -- what a shock.

And a purported al Qaeda spokesman has come out for Bush -- no surprise.

And Alice and the Mad Hatter will be here for tea this afternoon.


W.W.B.D. (What Would Ben Do?)

Those who would give up essential liberty for temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.
- Benjamin Franklin

Carroll Andrew Morse writes a compelling piece today, addressing the willingness of Spain to "buy" some semblance of "safety" with the lives of Iraqis. Read it.

He closes with: This is the type of deal that Benjamin Franklin warned against -- a trade of liberty for security. The acceptance of the inevitability of terrorism and the refusal to take the battle to the terrorists may well succeed in buying a little short-term security for the people of Spain; they may be spared further attacks while the terror masters seek to establish control of the foreign policy of other nations. Ultimately, in the long term, such arrangements never benefit anyone except terrorists and their leaders. At some point, the despots who give orders to the death squads will make further demands of Spain. And if Spain refuses to comply, the death squads will again be unleashed. There is no promise of security for Spain; there is only a promise of future opportunities to surrender more and more liberty.

Powerful words.


FLIP-FLOP IN ONE SENTENCE . . . A NEW RECORD

Kerry was quoted by the New York Times yesterday, saying (you couldn't possibly make this up) "I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it."

There's a doctrine in the law called res ipsa loquitur ("the thing speaks for itself"). I think this is a perfect example. Of course, Kerry was doing what he does best. We're going to have to come up with a new verb to describe it -- waffling doesn't do it justice.


Wednesday, March 17, 2004

ANDREW SULLIVAN FISKS THE GUARDIAN

The Guardian published a despicable editorial which Andrew Sullivan has ripped from beginning to end.

One can only hope that the European community realizes that what Spain has promised to do (pull troops out of Iraq) will only incent terrorists to kill more Europeans.


MORE EVIDENCE THAT CLINTON COULD HAVE DONE SOMETHING

Interesting story that we appear to have had bin Laden in our cross-hairs, but nothing was done.


REALLY BAD MOVE

Who made it? The Spaniards.

When al Qaeda orchestrated 9/11, they would have probably considered it a victory if they would have just crashed all four planes, but to take out the World Trade towers and make a major dent in the Pentagon was a stroke of fortune for them. But then the shit storm hit in Afghanistan. And then in Iraq. And there haven't been any other major attempts (that have been made public) against the US.

Fast forward 911 days, they kill 200 Spaniards (probably about what they hoped for), but this time they take down the Spanish government . A major victory. Even liberal US media have run editorials and cartoons saying this is a major victory for al Qaeda. And when they have victories (llike the bombings against US targets during the Clinton years), they keep on going.

Fortunately for other European leaders none are up for re-election for at least another year, so none are at risk of being deposed by al Qaeda, but that doesn't mean there won't be other attacks. In fact, the success of the Madrid attack will only give them hope for the future.

If the new Spanish president follows through on his promise, no European will sleep safer.


Friday, March 12, 2004

BLOGPAUSE

There will be little or no blogging until mid-next week. Headed to Hot-lanta for a few days.


"3/11"

The tragedy in Madrid doesn't seem to be the work of the Basque separatists. They have never carried out the kind of coordinated attack that occurred yesterday. Never. Of course, the UN Security Council, before the first police investigations yielded any substantive evidence, has voted to blame the Basque separatists. No better example of why the UN has impossibly degenerated into an organization divorced from reality.

The Spaniards helped us and continue to help us in the war on terror. In the eyes of the terrorists, Spain is an attractive target. If I were running al Qaeda ops, I'd have done this. I wouldn't do anything in the US unless I could pull off the mother of all attacks, even bigger than 9/11. Why? European targets are much softer. It's unlikely that the aftermath of yesterday's horror will be anything more than an investigation to find out who did it, track them down, arrest, prosecute and imprison them for the rest of their lives. The message it sends, however, is that Europe is no longer "safe."

Al Qaeda knows that the "next" US attack has to be big enough to motivate the US to do something equally as big in retalliation -- take out Tehran? Damascus? Why not? It's what they want. Their ultimate kamikaze strategy has to be to cause the US to do something that will turn the entire Muslim world against us. Otherwise, they aren't being true to their stated goals. So, it makes sense to "soften up" Europe so that, should that "mother of all attacks" be carried out in the US, the Europeans may be even less likely to help then than they are now.

In Wretchard's post this morning, he points out that the Madrid attack came precisely 911 days since "9/11". A coincidence?

UPDATE: ETA, the Basque group blamed by the UN, has denied involvement. In prior attacks, they willingly took responsiblity.


"WAR FOR CHEAP IRAQI OIL" AND OTHER MYTHS

Victor Davis Hanson points out this morning (after he paid $2.19 a gallon for gas) that if we invaded Iraq for "cheap oil", something isn't working. The "cheap oil" chant from the left hasn't really proven true, has it? And you haven't heard them talk about it in quite awhile, have you?

What other myths and theories does he puncture? You'll have to read his column.


TALK ABOUT ASSES OF EVIL

The most important campaign issue right now (IMHO) is the need to block the loophole in "soft money" political funds flow. Though recent legislation was supposed to stop the flow of massive donations into the political process, Congress left open one small loophole that the Democrats are tring to drive a truck through.

The principal truck driver is one George Soros, who seems to think that he can buy this election for Kerry all on his own.


IT'S A SMALL STORY, BUT INDICATIVE OF THE BROAD BIAS IN THE MEDIA

Check this one out.

Georgia has raised a lot of money for wildlife protection by selling custom license plates. Many state have done the same thing. It's a great example of allowing us to "vote" with our dollars on issues that are important to us.

In Georgia, however, the state added the American flag to the option list, so Fox News (of all people!) ran with a story saying environmentalists objected to the flag plate supporting enviornmental causes, saying they believe people link the flag to President Bush.

When the Columbia Journalism Review called Fox News to find out who these "environmentalists" were, the answer they got was telling. Turns out it was a guy who owns a kayak store who said they he "and others" objected.


Thursday, March 11, 2004

GREAT INSIGHT FROM PEGGY NOONAN

I like Ms. Noonan a lot and her OpinionJournal article today (hat tip to Joe S.) is priceless.

I disagree with her on one small characterization in a comment I sent to the Journal:

Ms. Noonan hits the nail on the head when it comes to Kerry's character. I believe his tragic flaw is his self-doubt, which comes from a lack of self-confidence.

This explains his flip-flops. He makes a tough decision, probably as the result of a consensus of his advisors (though he has doubts). Things don't go perfectly. He then flip-flops.

Unlike most of us, however, he hasn't seemed to have acquired wisdom in the process. He hasn't learned to trust himself.

Unlike Ms. Noonan, when I see Kerry, I don't think of Rex Kramer, I think of Bill McKay, Robert Redford's character in "The Candidate". And I can picture Kerry, the morning after he beats Bush, turning to his handlers and saying "OK, what the hell do we do now?"


See my post below ("Bush's Challenge", March 9) for a similar comment.

KERRY MIGHT JUST HAVE A LITTLE DEAN IN HIM

Did you catch the videotape (takes you to Fox News, then click on the "John Kerry's harsh remarks about his Republican critics caught on tape" link) of Kerry trashing Bush/Republicans yesterday while he was meeting with some union supporters? Of course the mainstream media hasn't given it a lot of ink/air time, but Fox has run the videotape, which speaks for itself.

If you missed it, in a moment when he assumed he wasn't near a microphone, and in a very hushed, snarly kind of voice said:

"Let me tell you, we've just begun to fight. We're going to keep pounding. These guys are the most crooked, you know, lying group I've ever seen. It's scary."

This is not very Kerry-like. What might he say next? Of course, his spinmeisters say he wasn't talking about Bush, only the groups running attack ads.

Right. Sure.


EAT THIS!

In a strongly bi-partisan move, the House overwhelmingly passed a bill that will stop the class-action vultures in their tracks. The "fast food" lawsuits will effectively be banned.

You'd have to assume that, with a 2:1 vote in the House, the Senate will pass it very quickly and the President will sign it without comment.

Too bad they haven't reacted quite so quickly on other class-action abuses. My favorite one is a number of suits I've seen that result in a finding for the plaintiffs with no damages being awarded to the plaintiffs -- only an agreement from the defendant to change their policies, practices or products. Of course, the attorneys walk away with millions.

This has to stop.


I LOVE LOGIC

Dr. Arnold Kling, one of my favorite economists (OK, not a big group) makes a wonderful point in his piece today.

As he says, the nay-saying economists who carp about the Bush administrations policies must actually believe them. Why?

Read this.


THIS IS WHY WE HAVE THE BEST TRAINED, MOST EFFECTIVE MILITARY IN THE WORLD

Read James Pinkerton's piece and marvel at the degree to which we will train our military before putting them in harms way. For those who said we would be decimated in urban warfare, I say go visit Iraqifornia.


Wednesday, March 10, 2004

ET TU, BRUTE?

Really happy to hear that Senator McCain has offered up his services to the Democrats. At least he's finally made it official that he's the Zell Miller of the Republicans.

I wonder how the folks in Arizona feel about voting for him?


WRITE YOUR SENATOR AND CONGRESSMAN

You'll find a number of posts over the past year about my distate for class action attorneys, the vultures of American business.

There is a move afoot by the class action firms who have been successful going after "big tobacco" to go after "big fast food". The theory, of course, being that all fast food is bad, and fast food restaurant owners have over-promoted their products, resulting in obese, unhealthy customers.

So, like the tobacco companies, the fast food companies will have to pay up for all their wrong-doing and, no doubt, will be asked to label their product as "unhealthy". Will they have to track customer purchases and stop some people from buying their Big Macs?

Wait. This time may be different. Congress is now thinking proactively and saying time out. Legislation has been introduced that would say that overeating is the fault of the consumer, not the restaurant.

Write your legislators and tell them how much you agree with this law.


Tuesday, March 09, 2004

THE IRAQI CONSTITUTION -- READ IT

Read the English translation. Let's hope it works.

For comparison, read the proposed EU Draft Treaty for Establishing a Constitution (all 256 pages). It'll never work.


FOR THOSE OF YOU NOT IN THE INSURANCE BUSINESS . . .

Asbestos. Bad.

Asbestos litigation. Worse.

Asbestos litigation attorneys. Worst.


BUSH'S CHALLENGE

I'm not going to link to them, but if you randomly access major news sites, you'll see the results of many recent polls showing Kerry ahead of Bush amongst the "likely to vote" respondents.

So, if you're Bush (or a Bush advisor), what do you do?

Kerry is a waffler, a flip-flop artist, easy to paint as someone you can't trust with the keys to your car because you don't know whether to believe him when he says he'll be back at 11.00. That's what his friends say about him (almost), so you have to ask, how the hell can he be ahead of Bush in the polls? Maybe it's because of what the polls (and pollsters) don't ask. Why do people want Kerry?

Is it because of the ABB factor -- anyone but Bush? Bush has to acknowledge that there are millions of people who believe in ABB. I believe thats a huge factor this year.

So here's the question -- do you write off the ABB's or do you try to convince them they're wrong? My vote would be to write them off. Why? They are unlikely to change -- they've been pissed off for almost four years and the longer they think about it, the madder they get. So if you're Bush, what do you do?

If you read the questions that most pollsters ask, they really don't offer an "undecided" option. They count a "lean" as a vote. A "lean" is "I haven't really made up my mind for sure, but I think I might probably think about possibly voting for Kerry, but I'm not positive I'm sure about that." That counts as a "Kerry" vote. And remember how quickly the tides ebbed and flowed in the Dem pres evolution this year, with massive last-minute shifts? I don't think that will happen in November, but a few percentage points are all were talking about -- winning by one electoral vote is all that's needed, either way.

So, assuming this is correct, what message does Bush send to those who are not ABBs? What will get them to say "OK, I don't agree with everything he says, but I have a job (if you don't have a job, you'll blame Bush) and I worry more about Kerry on the international front than Bush, so I'm voting for Bush because he scares me less than Kerry." That should be the goal -- doesn't have to love you, just has to see you as 0.1% safer than Kerry.

Bush has to make people afraid of a Kerry presidency. He shouldn't talk a lot about the economy -- the current numbers aren't looking quite as rosy as they did a quarter or two ago. But if painted into a corner, he should be ready with statistics showing the "2 million jobs lost" in his administration were the result of excesses in industries that were over-promoted by the previous administration, most notably the "dot.coms." And that the "globalist" ideals of the Clintonites created the perfect storm for the outsourcing of not just manufacturing jobs, but service jobs, too. So, don't blame me for the hodge-podge I inherited. I'm doing what's needed to ensure the new jobs being added are real.

He should especially paint a picture of Kerry as someone who would never have taken out the Taliban or Saddam Hussein. As someone who would have sided with Chirac and Shroeder before joining hands with Tony Blair. As someone who would force a faux peace on Israel and embraced Yassir Arafat. As someone who would be doing very little to track down bin Laden (assuming he's not worm food). As someone who would turn international terrorists over to the UN to be tried in the World Court. And on and on . . .

So far, Bush has done a shitty job since Kerry became the "nominee". The campaign ads I've seen locally are too airy fairy. That worked for Reagan, but his is different. I don't believe Bush can run on vague images. He has to treat Kerry as the enemy and go for the jugular. Kerry is not going to self-destruct, like Dean. Kerry is not going to drift, like Edwards. And he is not going to say anything truly stupid, like Kucinich.

I see Kerry as the guy Robert Redford played in The Candidate. He's afraid to say anything on his own. Separate him from his handlers and he'll be in trouble, but that's not likely to happen. He's too smart. You can't wait for him to self-destruct. Just paint a picture of him as someone to be afraid of. Stay on message. Don't get sucked into debates you might even win, but won't get you a single "undecided" vote.

Otherwise, it will be Kerry by as narrow a margin as Bush won by in 2000.


YO, BRO, WHASSUP?

John Kerry, the second black president? Even Dennis Miller couldn't make this one up.

What an arrogant buffoon.


Monday, March 08, 2004

GIBSON'S PASSION

As I've said before, Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ, which I haven't seen, and probably won't until it hits DVD, evoked more emotional crowd reaction before its release than any movie I can easily remember. I thought the reaction that some espoused that it would create a new wave of anti-semitism only guaranteed Gibson huge financial success, although I doubt it would have failed if they had kept their mouths shut.

I have been curious about people's reaction to the movie. It seems that, if you discount the "professional" reviewers, this movie has been publicly reviewed by more people than any I can remember. No one seems to be able to keep their mouths shut (except I don't recall a review by anyone reviewing it from a Muslim's point-of-view).

Nonetheless, I award the "best review so far" to Mark Steyn, for his column/review published in the Jerusalem Post. Well, he doesn't actually review the movie, just the numb nuts dimbulbs who've nattered on about how the movie is anti-semitic.


DECONSTRUCTING KERRY

Steven Den Beste does a masterful job of putting Kerry where he needs to be put. Read Steven's post today, read the Time interview. Watch John Squirm. Watch John give non-answers.


ARE YOU A REPUBLICAN OR A DEMOCRAT

Take this easy test and find out.


WHAT WAS HE TRYING TO HEAL?

See this picture. Maybe it really isn't Botox?


I WISH BUSH COULD BE THIS ELOQUENT

Anyone doubt why we deposed Saddam? Read Tony Blair's speech from last Friday. Still believe we were wrong?


TALK ABOUT ASSES

Funny is as funny does.

Read this entry in John Kerry's blog about a meeting with wife Teresa and the slugs from moveon.org. About her passing out pins saying "Asses of Evil" with the names of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Ashcroft around the pin.

I hope no one forgets this one for a simple reason: attack-ad organizations like moveon.org are often kept at arms-length by politicians. You usually avoid direct contact to create an atmosphere of deniability. When they do something truly stupid and get a negative response, you can say "whoa, that wasn't me, that was those guys."

With Ms. Heinz-Kerry's appearance and wholehearted support, though, it will be tough for the Kerry campaign to create distance between themselves and moveon. After all, it was she who passed out the pins. Haven't seen one for sale on eBay yet, but I'm looking.

One final comment. Note the picture. This "mother of all parties" they talk about looks really exciting -- what are there, 25 people in the room?


DICK CHENEY'S STAND-UP ROUTINE

Read this column about Cheney's comments at the 2004 Gridiron dinner.

Funny stuff.


STRIKE FIVE? SIX? SEVEN? I'VE LOST COUNT

(You pick what the first four/five/six strikes were, there are plenty to chose from.)

Since September 12, 2001, terror targeted against the US and US policies haven't won a battle. Even in Iraq, their strategies and tactics have failed miserably.

Most recently (in case you haven't noticed) there have been very few US casualties. The terrorists have gone after Iraqis, primarily those Iraqis who threaten them most -- police, military, the religious opposition. This is amazingly "good" news (though it's hard to call anything that involves killing hundreds of people "good") as it's on the verge of being the moves of an opponent who has resorted to one of their last options.

They realized that killing a few US military personnel resulted in our significantly ramping up, not pulling back. Then they decided to attack softer targets in the hope the Iraqi populace would not support the efforts for democracy and that, spcifically, no one would want to join the Iraqi military or any local police force -- bad move, didn't work.

Finally, they began to go after religious targets, but nothing has happened.

And then this morning the Shia leaders who've stalled the signing of an interim constitution relented (over the wishes of their most senior leader).

Don't expect attacks to go away anytime soon. Iraq could resemble Israel for years to come, so long as there are fanatics who commit crime in the name of their god and have the funding to buy the explosives.

The good news, though, is (if you read between the lines) that Iraq is becoming more and more "normal" every day.


Friday, March 05, 2004

VDH POSES A QUESTION FOR US ALL TODAY

Do you want to turn the clock back?

Well . . . do you punk?

He paints a picture of what it would be like:

More likely, if President Bush loses, the war against terror will return, as promised, to the status of a police matter -- subpoenas and court trials the more appropriate response to the mass murder of 3,000 at the "crime scene" of the crater in New York. Europe will be assured that our troops will stay while we apologize for the usual litany of purported unilateral sins. North Korea will get more blackmail cash, while pampered South Korean leftists resume their "sunshine" mirage. Iraq will be turned over to the U.N. as we abruptly leave, and could dissolve into something like the Balkans between 1991 and 1998. Iran and Syria will let out a big sigh of relief -- as American diplomats once more sit out on the tarmac in vain hopes of an "audience" with despots. The Saudis will smile that smile. Arafat will be assured that he is now once again a legitimate interlocutor. And strangest of all, the American Left will feel that the United States has just barely begun to return to its "moral" bearings -- even as its laxity and relativism encourage some pretty immoral things to come.

KERRY WINS SUPPORT OF . . . (DRUMROLL) . . . NORTH KOREA

With friends like Kim . . . who needs enemies.


POST OF THE YEAR

(I didn't take it lightly before I wrote those words.)

James Lileks post today ends with this simple test for anyone who may be "on the fence" about what lever to pull, chad to punch or touch-screen to touch on the first Tuesday in Novermber:

Okay. A simple quiz.

1. We should promote the rebuilding of the international community through the UN to stop tyrannical regimes through forceful nonviolent intervention.

Or:

2. "You’re either with us, or with the terrorists."

Imagine a bomb just went off in your local mall. Choose one.

Thursday, March 04, 2004

THE JFK DISEASE

Peggy Noonan cocks and fires a cruise missile right at Kerry's biggest weakness, which I allude to below ("BUSH'S BEST CAMPAIGN AD").

Is Kerry always Kerry? Or does he sometimes act out his version of Jack Kennedy in some wierd reality show?

Maybe that's the root of his "flip-flop" problem.

You've seen the bracelets and bumper stickers, haven't you? The ones that say "WWJD" ("What Would Jesus Do").

Maybe Kerry's character flaw is his decision-making is hampered by always thinking "What Would Jack Do?"

(Hat tip to Joe S.)


BY JOVE, I THINK HE'S GOT IT

Fred Barnes makes the obvious point this morning about Kerry's big "win." It was easy.

Hell, in retrospect, I could have drawn more votes than Sharpton, Kucinich and Mosely-Braun. And the public soon sniffed out Dean and Clark as being "mad hatters". And Gephart didn't really have his head in the game and bailed before things really started.

In the end, he really only had to beat Edwards -- who'd vote for a trial lawyer?

So, after little heavy lifiting, the games begin . . .


BUSH'S BEST CAMPAIGN AD

Slate has published a Kerry "flip flop" scorecard.

It's the best ad Bush could run. Clearly, Kerry is a guy who is riddled with self-doubt. It appears his progression goes like this:

1. Make a decision based upon what you think everyone wants you do (though you have doubts).
2. Things don't go perfectly (and your doubts are confirmed).
3. Change your position 180 degrees.
4. Learn nothing from your "mistake."

Who hasn't done the first three (and often the fourth) in their life? I've made some really stupid decisions. Haven't you? But I'd like to think I learned something about myself and the value of my "inner voice." If you're a good student of yourself, you learn to trust your judgment and stick to those principles that have guided you well.

However, Kerry seems to have made the same four-step screw-up on many major decisions in his life and every policy decision that's important to America today.

If you're an ardent Democrat (e.g., you'd vote for Al Sharpton before you'd vote for Bush), you have to be depressed.

Is this a guy you want to have the nuclear launch codes (unless you know there's a "recall" code)? Are you willing to let him turn US foreign policy over to the UN Security Council (knowing he'll change his mind six months later)? Isn't he the paradigm of the guy most easily swayed by "special interest groups?" Isn't he the guy whom (if you're trying to win a debate in front of him) you want to make sure hears you last?

If we know anything about Kerry's "biography", it's that whatever he decides to do, he'll later regret doing it. Where does that leave us if he's our President?


IF TRUE, THIS STORY IS NOT A PROUD MOMENT FOR THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION

It seems that in moments of analysis paralysis, they wound up not taking out Zarqawi, one of the most dangerous terrorists still on the lose.

Stories like this are political smart bombs that someone like Kerry will use to his advantage.


Wednesday, March 03, 2004

A FOURTH OPTION

Before, I'd only considered three options (regarding the Iraqi WMD "question"):

1. He had them but used them all "internally."
2. He thought he had them, but didn't -- his guys fooled him, too.
3. He had them but hid them somewhere else (Syria? Underground in some facility we may never find? Who knows where?).

But today, Wretchard provides another option:

4. He sold them.

It's as plausible as the other three.


PAKISTAN, STILL THE MOST DANGEROUS COUNTRY IN "THAT" PART OF THE WORLD

Read Seymour Hersh's article in The New Yorker.


WE KEEP FORGETTING ABOUT THE SAUDIS

Stephen Schwartz reminds us today that our quest for bin Laden is a quest to find a Saudi. He goes on to say:

First, of course, there is the matter of the 15 out of 19 suicide hijackers on September 11, 2001, who happened to be Saudi subjects. They were not Palestinians or other products of poor Arab societies, much less residents of refugee camps.

Second, it has been reported that a quarter of the detainees at the U.S. camp in Guantanamo are Saudis.

Third, al-Qaida itself is a Saudi phenomenon through and through. Its ideology, Wahhabism, is the state form of Islam in the kingdom.

Fourth, none of the identified Saudi founders and funders of al-Qaida has been arrested by authorities in the kingdom. The rich Saudis whose money went to create the organization continue walking the streets of Saudi Arabia unmolested.

Fifth, al-Qaida activities against the Saudi kingdom all have ambiguous aspects. Al-Qaida has never attacked a single representative of the Saudi ruling family, or a single institution of the Saudi state. One might think that the thousands of Saudi princes and princesses who travel and live abroad would provide a rich field of targets for al-Qaida, but they do not. In the Riyadh bombings last year, the terrorists used government vehicles and wore official uniforms. While this could have represented diversionary camouflage, it could also have indicated that support for the atrocities came from within the ruling structure.

Sixth, notwithstanding claims in Western media, Bin Laden does not call for the overthrow of the kingdom, only for changes in its policies. And some al-Qaida figures have argued that terrorism inside Saudi Arabia is a liability, to that it is better to attack U.S.-led coalition forces in Iraq.


Read the entire column here.


HE THE MAN . . . TODAY

Kerry pulled it off yesterday. Winning the "we don't necessarily like you, but even someone like you is better than Bush" primary could hardly be considered a coup, though. Comparing Kerry as a candidate to Bill Clinton as a candidate (in 1992) you've got to be depressed if you're a Democrat.

There is something fundamentally wrong with the process if Kerry is the best they can muster. Clinton was polished, likeable and spoke to the issues. He had incredible charisma. Kerry is a drone, reminiscent of that other Massachusetts political drone, Michael Dukakis.

I didn't watch any of it on TV last night, but one thing struck me about the final results this morning. Two states -- Ohio (my present state of residence) and Minnesota -- voted for Kerry, but just barely. In each state, he got a very slim majority.

Why is that important? Ohio is an incredibly strong union state and the fact the unions (who endorsed Kerry) couldn't deliver an overwhelming majority does not bode well for him in November.

And Minnesota? Almost as liberal as Wisconsin, you'd expect him to do better there, wouldn't you? Even Kucinich got 17% of the Minnesota vote, less than in his home state (Ohio)! What's up with that?

And Kerry's performance in Georgia speaks to the fact that southerners are going to have a very difficult time warming up to this guy.

He may have won "Super Tuesday", but I don't see that Kerry has demonstrated that he can win enough "red" states to win in November. Or said another way, he's won the emotional vote amongst Democrats and disenchanted Independents and Republicans. Winning on pragmatism will be a very different challenge.

Beginning today, the cold, hard reality is that Kerry has to beat Bush head-to-head amongst all voters. This will now be interesting. Beginning today, the "vote for me if you hate Bush" line will start to lose its effectiveness. Beginning today, Kerry has no choice but to begin to speak to the issues that America is most concerned about. Beginning today, Kerry will have to begin telling us what his plans are for Iraq and the war on terror.


Tuesday, March 02, 2004

WHO'S THE V.P. CANDIDATE GOING TO BE?

No, not the Dem candidate . . . the Republican candidate. Cheney? Are you sure?

James Pinkerton suggests Bush could cement the election with one simple strategy: dump Cheney and add either Condi Rice or Rudy Giuliani. They'd be idiots to say no and they could run in 2008 against Hillary.

I like it . . .


MICKEY'S FEARS

Mickey Kaus is at it again. His post yesterday afternoon hit his nail on the head. It starts out:

As a Democrat, I have two big fears about John Kerry. The first is that he'll lose. The second is that he'll win.

I'm wondering if there are more folks out there like Mickey who are having a bit of an acid reflux moment with Kerry. In the quest to find "anyone who might be able to beat Bush", they are having second thoughts -- a kind of "devil you know versus the devil you don't know" moment.


Monday, March 01, 2004

BALLS . . . NO BALLS

Mickey Kaus raises this issue about Kerry. It's a simple question: Why is it that we have this guy who was a "hero" in Viet Nam -- decisive, risk-taker, yada yada yada -- but once he arrives in Washington, he can't seem to make up his mind about anything and has made a career out of taking the path of least resistance?

Reading through the posts, it seems the point of view is that Kerry, insecure in his political skills (unlike Clinton) and an "outsider" in his early years sought not to piss too many people off. So he got used to the idea of not saying or doing anything provocative.


PREEMPT THIS!

Victor Davis Hanson's column on Friday addresses the hysteria about preemption. VDH provides a quick history lesson for those who argue this is a new and dangerous turn in American foreign policy.