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Friday, July 30, 2004


George Bush gave a speech this morning (transcript here)

We have more to do to wage and win the war against terror. America's future depends on our willingness to lead in the world. If America shows uncertainty and weakness in this decade, the world will drift toward tragedy. BUSH: This will not happen on my watch. The world changed on a terrible September morning. And since that day, we've changed the world. Before September the 11th, Afghanistan served as the home base for Al Qaida, which trained and deployed thousands of killers to set up terror cells in dozens of countries, including our own. Today, Afghanistan is a rising democracy, an ally in the war on terror, a place where many young girls go to school for the first time. And as a result of our actions, America and the world are safer. Before September the 11th, Pakistan was a safe transit point for terrorists. Today, Pakistani forces are aggressively helping to round up the terrorists and America and the world are safer. Before September the 11th, in Saudi Arabia, terrorists were raising money and recruiting and operating with little opposition. Today, the Saudi government has taken the fight to Al Qaida and America and the world are safer. Before September the 11th, Libya was spending millions to acquire weapons of mass destruction. Today, because America and our allies have sent a strong and clear message, the leader of Libya has abandoned his pursuit of weapons of mass destruction and America and the world are safer. Before September the 11th, the ruler of Iraq was a sworn enemy of America. BUSH: He was defying the world. He was firing weapons at American pilots and forcing the world's sanctions. He had pursued and used weapons of mass destruction against his own people. He had harbored terrorists. He invaded his neighbors. He subsidized the families of suicide bombers. He had murdered tens of thousands of his own citizens. He was a source of great instability in the world's most vulnerable region. I took those threats seriously. After September the 11th, we had to look at the threats in a new light. One of the lessons of September the 11th is we must deal with threats before they fully materialize. The September the 11th commission concluded that our institutions of government had failed to imagine the horror of that day. After September the 11th, we cannot fail to imagine that a brutal tyrant, who hated America, who had ties to terror, had weapons of mass destruction and might use those weapons or share his deadly capability with terrorists was not a threat. We looked at the intelligence. We saw a threat. Members of the United States Congress from both political parties, including my opponent, looked at the intelligence and they saw a threat. We went to the United Nations, which unanimously demanded a full accounting of Saddam Hussein's weapons programs or face serious consequences. After 12 years of defiance, he refused to comply with the demands of the free world. When he continued to deceive the weapons inspectors, I had a decision to make: to hope for the best and to trust the word of a madman and a tyrant, or remember the lessons of September the 11th and defend our country. BUSH: Given that choice, I will defend America every time.
Powerful arguments...Contrast them with this from Kerry's speech
Any attack will be met with a swift and certain response.
There has been an attack. The response was swift, and certain, but it is not yet complete.

Can't beat something with nothing

Arnold Kling goes over the major points of Kerry's speech last night. I pretty much agree with everything he says.

Kerry's Speech

Kerry gave his speech last night (transcript here.) I'd say his presentation was ok, not great, but serviceable. As to the ideas expressed, I was disappointed. I heard lots of things that would be nice to have, but no real concrete ways to achieve them. Oh, and John Kerry served in Vietnam. The whole 'patriotism' issue is strange to me. As far as I know, no one of any importance has attacked the patriotism of John Kerry or the democrats. People have attacked their polies and their decisions, which the democrats have claimed was an attack on patriotism but no one has actually made the charge they are claiming was made against them and are now spending a lot of time defending against. In debate this tactic is called a straw man. Of course Iran and North Korea were not mentioned at all in his speech. He did talk about gaining allies in the war on terror, but other than the idea that these countries hate Bush and therefore won't work with us and will love Kerry and therefore will work with us when he is President, there was no concrete methods of how to achieve this goal. Is John Kerry aware of the Oil-for-Food scandal? That many politicians, in many countries who opposed the war appear to have been bribed by Saddam Hussein? Is John Kerry aware that the French and Chinese, who have oil interests in Sudan, are opposing any strong actions by the United Nations to stop the Genocide in Darfur? Based on his speech, if he does know about these things he doesn't consider them important.

Thursday, July 29, 2004

Kerry's Courage


we all know that personal bravery is not the same as political leadership. The doubts about Mr. Kerry concern not his courage but his judgment and conviction, and have been formed as the result of public service that is far longer than his admirable four months in Vietnam. Those doubts are both political and philosophical. ... Mr. Kerry says that unlike Mr. Bush he'll bring the allies along in support of U.S. action, and it's tempting to believe that a new President could somehow rally the French and Germans back to our side. But this ignores our diverging strategic interests. The French want the U.N. to become a brake on the U.S. "hyperpower," and much of Europe would rather appease Islamic terror than fight it. This won't change merely because Americans elect a new President, and it would be nice to hear Mr. Kerry say he understands this.
John Kerry was a hero in Vietnam. And that's not a bad start to being a good commander and chief. As the article points out though, he certainly hasn't been hawkish as a Senator or displayed much political courage. Bill Clinton, in his speech, claimed that John Kerry has taken some positions over the years that were pretty unpopular with Democrats. I'll take that at face value, but even so, has he ever faced a serious political challenge since he was elected a Senator? With the long-time friendship and support of Ted Kennedy I doubt it. None of this necessarily means that Kerry does not posses political courage, but at the least it seems to me that this courage has not been tested. His various stands on Iraq (as shown dramatically in this republican video) leads one to question the strength of his convictions over time. I would like to hear Kerry explain how he will convince more allies to join us. I would like to hear his plans for dealing with Iran and North Korea. I would like to hear that he is committed to supporting democracy, rather than just stability in Iraq. I doubt I will get any of this though.

Democrat Mob-Money?

This can't be good for the Democratic campaign.

As Sens. John Kerry and John Edwards arrived in Boston today for the Democratic National Convention, so did the California man who is their single biggest contributor. He is Stephen Bing, a wealthy film producer who, with little fanfare, has managed to steer a total of more than $16 million of his money to Democratic candidates and the supposedly independent groups that support them. ... In fact, Democratic Party officials said they knew nothing about the man who law enforcement officials tell ABC News is Bing's friend and business partner — Dominic Montemarano, a New York Mafia figure currently in federal prison on racketeering charges. ... According to The Los Angeles Times, Bing paid Montemarano's legal fees after his most recent scrape with the law. Montemerano's lawyer said his client was an employee of Bing's. After a recent private lunch with Democratic vice-presidential candidate Edwards, Bing also declined to answer questions about his relationship with Montemarano.
Just because Bing has a Mafia friend doesn't mean he is a criminal of course, but it does raise questions. Money, obviously, buys access so it is in the public's interest to know who is getting this access. Personnaly I am opposed to campaign contribution limits, but I am 100% in favor that all contributions be disclosed. (hat tip: Citizen Smash)

Multilateral Strategy

This TCS article by Bryan Preston is fascinating reading.

It is playing a key role in curbing and caging North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Il. It played a key role in disarming Libya, discovering and rolling up the Pakistani A.Q. Khan nuclear smuggling network, and has become a framework for international military and police exercises organized by the United States. Its membership includes most of the world's largest economic powers, most of the world's largest military powers, and most of the most influential states on earth. The United States, Japan, the United Kingdom, Russia, the Netherlands, France, Australia and Germany are among its 15 member states, and it is one of the pillars of the Bush administration's strategy to both win the war on terrorism and halt the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. As an organization set up to perform a mission that the United Nations and the International Atomic Energy Agency have jointly failed, halting the spread of nuclear weapons, it has the potential of becoming an alternative to the UN itself in coming decades. Notably, all of its members to date are democracies.
Read the whole thing. It sounds to me like this is a real win for the state department and the Bush administration. It isn't flashy or something that will grab headlines, but is it the sort of thing that will help to win a long, twilight struggle. (hat tip: Instapundit)

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

John Edwards

John Edwards gave his speech tonight (transcript here). I was actually surprised that, after Obama speech last night, he used his two America's speech again. He did try to meld it into a theme of two America's becoming one America but I didn't think that it worked very well. Also, Obama's one America speech was that we are one now, not that we will magically become one with a democratic victory in November. I also felt that the delivery was pretty flat, at least for John Edwards and compared to Obama and Bill Clinton. The contrast with Clinton (who Edwards is often compared to) was particullary sharp. Clinton seemed to be able to lead his audiance effortlessly, even to the point that the audiance was saying some of the words with him. Edwards, whose repition line "Help is on the way", was obviously pre-scipted given the signs that mysteriously appeared throughout the convention hall, had real trouble getting the audience in the rythem with him. He also seemed somewhat tired and already worn down by the campaign. One part of his speech that I did like, and as an American appreciated was this:

And we will have one clear unmistakable message for al Qaida and the rest of these terrorists. You cannot run. You cannot hide. And we will destroy you.
As someone who believes in Democracy, I am willing to accept that the candidate I support might not win this election. It is better of all of us if it is clear, as John Edwards makes here, that a win for the Democrats is not a win for the terrorists. John Edwards also performed another one of his famous psychic feats (remember, he isn't this guy, although confusion is understandable.)
Tonight, as we celebrate in this hall, somewhere in America, a mother sits at the kitchen table. She can't sleep. She's worried because she can't pay her bills. She's working hard to pay the rent and feed her kids. She's doing everything right, but she still can't get ahead. It didn't use to be that way in her house. Her husband was called up in the Guard and he's been serving in Iraq for more than a year. She thought he'd be home last month, but now he's got to stay longer. She thinks she's alone. But tonight in this hall and in your homes — you know what? She's got a lot of friends. We want her to know that we hear her. And it's time to bring opportunity and an equal chance to her door.
I'm sure those positive vibes are a great comfort to this poor, unnamed woman.

They are going for it!


A piloted rocket ship race to claim a $10 million Ansari X Prize purse for privately financed flight to the edge of space is heating up. Aerospace engineer, Burt Rutan, leader of Scaled Composites of Mojave, California, has formally announced a timetable for back-to-back flights of the firm's SpaceShipOne rocket plane. Rutan and his team have given its official 60-day notice, with the first X Prize attempt set for September 29 from the inland Mojave Spaceport in California. To win the $10 million, SpaceShipOne will need to make a second flight within two weeks, by October 13.
As Glenn Reynolds notes this is probably more significant to mankind than all the election hoopla taking place this year.


Claudia Rosett:

Let's get to the real point. George Bush has deeply irritated France. That would be more distressing were it not for the memory that the last time the French resented America this much was in the mid-1980s. That was when President Ronald Reagan was more intent on winning the Cold War than pleasing the Elysee. And you know what? We won.
It is a sad thing, but in many ways if you want to know if you are doing the right thing as a nation, look at France and confirm that you are not doing what they are.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

The stepmoney

Teresa Heinze Kerry's speech (transcript here), much like Al Gore's, was a disappointment for those of us hoping for some excitement from the convention. Nothing really weird or crazy. Oh well. All in all it was a serviceable speech, nothing special.


Barack Obama gave a great speech tonight (transcript here). I would say that the buzz that he will go far is correct. If I lived in Illinois I would probably vote for him. Best part:

Don't get me wrong. The people I meet in small towns and big cities, in diners and office parks, they don't expect government to solve all their problems. They know they have to work hard to get ahead and they want to. Go into the collar counties around Chicago, and people will tell you they don't want their tax money wasted by a welfare agency or the Pentagon. Go into any inner city neighborhood, and folks will tell you that government alone can't teach kids to learn. They know that parents have to parent, that children can't achieve unless we raise their expectations and turn off the television sets and eradicate the slander that says a black youth with a book is acting white. No, people don't expect government to solve all their problems. But they sense, deep in their bones, that with just a change in priorities, we can make sure that every child in America has a decent shot at life, and that the doors of opportunity remain open to all. They know we can do better. And they want that choice.
The words are elegant and the delivery was stirring. Here is another good section of his speech:
Yet even as we speak, there are those who are preparing to divide us, the spin masters and negative ad peddlers who embrace the politics of anything goes. Well, I say to them tonight, there's not a liberal America and a conservative America -- there's the United States of America. There's not a black America and white America and Latino America and Asian America; there's the United States of America. The pundits like to slice-and-dice our country into Red States and Blue States; Red States for Republicans, Blue States for Democrats. But I've got news for them, too. We worship an awesome God in the Blue States, and we don't like federal agents poking around our libraries in the Red States. We coach Little League in the Blue States and have gay friends in the Red States. There are patriots who opposed the war in Iraq and patriots who supported it. We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the United States of America.
This idea has emerged as somewhat of a theme of the convention, Republicans are all about dividing America and the democrats just want us all to get along. It is almost as if they are confused and think that George Bush has been giving John Edwards' Two Americas speech.

Which book are you?

You're I, Robot!
by Isaac Asimov
While you have established a code of conduct for many generations to follow, your demeanor is rather cold and calculating. Brought up to serve humans, you have promised never to harm them, to follow orders, and to protect yourself. Living up to this code has proved challenging and sometimes even drives you mad. If you were a type of paper, you would be pulp.
Take the Book Quiz at the Blue Pyramid.

More fun in Iran

Check out this news story

Iran has broken the seals on nuclear equipment monitored by United Nations inspectors and is once again building and testing machines that could make fissile material for nuclear weapons. Teheran's move, revealed to The Daily Telegraph yesterday by western sources, breaks a deal with European countries under which Iran suspended "all uranium enrichment activity".
Iran remains determined to acquire nuclear weapons and stopping them will be difficult. North Korea is widely seen to be able to negotiate with the United States without fear because it possesses these weapons and Iran has obvious motives to join the club. I think Iran is making a mistake here though. North Korea is in a pretty good negotiating position despite, not because it has nukes. The problem is that North Korea could do a lot of damage to South Korea with just its conventional force. Sure, it would lose the conflict, but Kim Chong-il is crazy enough that he might do it anyway. If it wasn’t for his nuclear program we would just ignore him and, sadly, let him go on brutalizing his people. Iran doesn’t have those advantages, and I expect that some sort of military retaliation will either be launched by the United States or Israel before the end of the year if the diplomatic situation doesn’t drastically change. Still, this will not be a full scale invasion and while it may destroy some of the infrastructure, this will not stop the Iranian nuclear program. One possibly valid criticism of the War in Iraq is that it distracted from more serious dangers such as Iran. I look at Iraq as the critical first step toward Iran (if a non-military solution cannot be found) and as a way of making peaceful transition to democracy in Iran more likely. I can certainly understand those who do not share this view however. What is clear is that Iran and North Korea will both be serious threats that have to be dealt with in the next four years. I would like to hear more from the democrats during their convention what their plans for these two troubled regions are. (note: enlisting allies and broadening the coalition is not a plan, it is a goal)

Monday, July 26, 2004

Bill and Hillary

Hillary introduced her husband (transcipt here. Nothing to exciting in her speech, although I did notice it ran long for an introduction. She spoke for close to ten minutes (the schedule I saw budgeted her for 5.) It did seem a little like groundwork for a possible presidential run, but she certainly gave plenty of Kudos to John Kerry. Bill Clinton reminded me why he was elected President twice. Say what you will about him, the man can give a great speech (transcript here. I am glad John Kerry, not Bill Clinton is running for office this election. Just because I can appreciate his speech does not mean I agree with it of course. Here is one part that I particularly noticed wasn't entirely accurate. In refering to the time immediatly after 9/11 he said:

The president had an amazing opportunity to bring the country together under his slogan of compassionate conservatism and to unite the world in the struggle against terror. Instead, he and his congressional allies made a very different choice. They chose to use that moment of unity to try to push the country too far to the right and to walk away from our allies, not only in attacking Iraq before the weapons inspectors had finished their work, but in withdrawing American support for the climate change treaty and for the international court on war criminals and for the anti-ballistic missile treaty and from the nuclear test ban treaty.
Whatever you might think about the decision to invade Iraq (which was well after the unity of the country following 9/11 had vanished), President Bush unsigned the Kyoto treaty in March of 2001. The ICC and the nuclear test ban treaty (along with Kyoto) never had support in the senate and were never ratified. Clinton's most stirring moment was this section of the speech:
During the Vietnam War, many young men, including the current president, the vice president and me, could have gone to Vietnam and didn't. John Kerry came from a privileged background. He could have avoided going too, but instead, he said: Send me. When they sent those swiftboats up the river in Vietnam and they told them their job was to draw hostile fire, to wave the American flag and bate the enemy to come out and fight, John Kerry said: Send me. And then, on my watch, when it was time to heal the wounds of war and normalize relations with Vietnam and to demand an accounting of the POWs and MIAs we lost there, John Kerry said: Send me. Then when we needed someone to push the cause of inner-city children struggling to avoid a life of crime or to bring the benefits of high technology to ordinary Americans or to clean the environment in a way that created new jobs, or to give small businesses a better chance to make it, John Kerry said: Send me. CLINTON: So tonight, my friends, I ask you to join me for the next 100 days in telling John Kerry's story and promoting his ideas. Let every person in this hall and like-minded people all across our land say to him what he has always said to America: Send me.
Stirring stuff, and well delivered. Of course he didn't mention that when the anti-Vietnam war movement asked for someone to go on national television and accuse our soldiers of committing atrocities, John Kerry said: Send me.

Carter's Speech

I like Jimmy Carter as a person, always have. As a leader and an analyist of foreign policy I have my doubts about his competance and wisdom. His speech tonight (transcript here) reminded me why. There were several things I disagreed with. Here are a couple.

Today, our dominant international challenge is to restore the greatness of America based on telling the truth, a commitment to peace, and respect for civil liberties at home and basic human rights around the world.
These are all good things, but our dominant challenge? More important than defeating Al Qaeda? More important than disarming North Korea? This is exactly the sort of thinking that I dislike Jimmy Carter for, and fear in John Kerry.
In the meantime, the Middle East peace process has come to a screeching halt for the first time since Israel became a nation. All former presidents, Democratic and Republican, have attempted to secure a comprehensive peace for Israel with hope and justice for the Palestinians. The achievements of Camp David a quarter century ago and the more recent progress made by President Bill Clinton are now in peril.
Apparently, this is all Bush’s fault. Somehow I was under the impression that Yasser Arafat walked away from the Clinton peace plan in 2000 and, emboldened by Western appeasement, decided to restart the intifada. I guess if we had just given him more, as Carter would have, there would be peace in the Middle East now. Of course there wouldn’t be peace in Israel because Arafat won’t be happy until Israel is destroyed. The rest of the speech had similar ideas, several cheap shots, and some distortion, but read it and decide for yourself what you think.

Al Gore at the convention

I just saw Al Gore's speech (transcript here.) Frankly, I was disappointed. Gore has been so crazy recently I was looking forward to his speech adding some excitement to an otherwise boring media event. Sadly the speech was pretty bland. All in all a good speech, although I thought the digs at Nader voters to be unneeded and unwise.

I agree with the Democrats on this

James Pinkerton writes that the Democrats may have discovered a new wedge issue that will give them support in the coming election: stem cell research. When President Bush put his ban limiting the lines availible for research in place a few years ago I was somewhat supportive of the move. Using embyronic stem cells does have some moral ramifications and current science at the time suggested that the existing stem cell lines would be sufficient for research purposes. Since that time the number of lines that can be used for research has dwindled and several are considered unusable. Research is suffering as a result. Stem cell research is the amoung most promising medical research we currently conducting. We need to increase the funding for this, for all types, including embroyonic stem cell research and we need to make availible more lines of embryonic stems cells to research with.

Capturing Saddam

Blackfive has a story on the translator that was there for the capture of Saddam. Interesting.

Orrin Hatch's new bill

Here is a good round-up on the Inducing Infringement of Copyrights Act. There is a problem here that needs to be solved, but this is not the right way to do it.

Important News

Lucasfilm has announced the title for the last Star Wars film. Star Wars, Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (USA Today)

Let's hear it for Australia


Australia said Monday it would not be moved by new terror warnings related to its military involvement in Iraq and stood by its earlier criticism of countries that chose to withdraw troops from Iraq under threat of terrorism. "We will not take any notice of threats of that kind," Prime Minister John Howard told reporters. "We will not parlay and negotiate with terrorists, and I believe the overwhelming majority of the Australian public will agree with us."
Defeating terror requires opposing, not appeasing the Terrorists.

Army Abuse report

Friday, the Army released a new report on Prisoner Abuse. New York Times:

A new Army report concludes that military detention operations in Iraq and Afghanistan suffered from poor training, haphazard organization and outmoded policies, but that those flaws did not directly contribute to the abuses at Abu Ghraib prison. The report, by Lt. Gen. Paul T. Mikolashek, the Army inspector general, differs from conclusions in an earlier inquiry by Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba, an inquiry that uncovered abuses in what became a major scandal over American military treatment of prisoners in Iraq. Unlike General Taguba's report, General Mikolashek's inquiry found no evidence that systemic problems caused any of 94 alleged abuses in Iraq and Afghanistan from September 2002 to June 2004. Instead, his five-month inquiry attributed the abuses to the "unauthorized actions taken by a few individuals, coupled with the failure of a few leaders to provide adequate monitoring, supervision and leadership over those soldiers." The report concluded "these abuses, while regrettable, are aberrations."
From what I have read on this, and my own gut feelings I think that the situation is pretty much that the Army put into place some new policies about how to deal with prisoners. Providing the guards, interrogation personnel etc. were competent and not malicious these new policies would have been fine. Hence the conclusion that there was no systematic abuse. Unfortunately, as we saw in the Abu Ghraib scandal, many of these personnel were not competent. There also seemed to be, at least in the case of Abu Ghraib, a severe lack of ordinary discipline. In my opinion a system that allows untrained personnel and commanders who do not properly enforce discipline, to be placed as prison guards and interrogators is very broken. I do not think this report properly addresses that fact. One of the problems, as emphasized by the partisan sniping surrounding the 9/11 commission report, is that we as a society seem to be unable to say “Ok, we messed up, what should we do in the future?” rather we say “Who can we blame for this and how will that help me advance my agenda?” This is not a serious way to fight a war.

Darfur Update

Rajan Rishyakaran has posted a round-up of Sudan Genocide news for those of you who are following this tragedy.

Friday, July 23, 2004

U.N. Sabotage in Iraq

My friend Naomi sent me this Op Ed claiming that the unwillingness of the U.N. to be 'tainted' by cooperation with America amount to sabotage of Iraqi democracy.

It was to avoid the American "lepers" that the Security Council voted seven weeks ago to create a special international force to protect the U.N. mission in Iraq. So far, however, not a single country has offered to join. And the French, Germans and Russians (who had most opposed the use of U.S. troops for the purpose) are not even prepared to contribute money for such a force. Worse still, they are pressuring other countries not to offer troops. Annan's office speaks of "difficulties to be sorted out." That is not good enough. What we have here is an attempt at sabotaging Iraq's progress toward free elections.
For a variety of reasons many countries do not wish for Iraq to be a success. Others are not opposed, but unwilling to commit resources to a distant country.

Palestinain boy killed

Jerusalem Post:

Palestinian health and security officials said that a group of Fatah Al Aksa Martyr's Brigades terrorists killed a 15-year-old Palestinian boy Friday morning in the town of Beit Hanun in the northern Gaza Strip after the youth tried to stop them from setting up a Kassam rocket launcher near his family's home, Army Radio reported. Members of the Arafat-linked terrorist group were trying to plant Kassam rocket launchers next to the Zanin family residence in northern Beit Hanun, when the family, concerned over IDF retaliation, argued and ultimately struggled with the terrorists.
Arafat won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994.

A touching plea

Read this letter posted by Sam at Hammorabi. Hilarious.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Way cool

Check this out. I was thinking this morning while watching a Fox news interview with the Apollo 11 astronauts that it is a tradegy that these explorers will probably not live to see man get to Mars. (hat tip: Lileks)

Rewriting History

I read Rewriting History by Dick Morris last night. An interesting read. As the title implies it focuses on stuff the Morris felt should have been in Hillary's book, Living History Obviously Dick Morris is no fan of Hillary Clinton, and as I haven’t read her book it is hard to say for sure the criticisms of what she wrote are correct. That being said I find his description of her book very plausible (one of the main reasons I am not interested in reading her book is that I believe it will contain more spin than fact due to her future ambitions.) It is hard to believe for example, given Bill's history that the truth about Monica came as a surprise to Hillary. She lied to protect her current and future position. This lie probably isn't a big deal, and is entirely understandable but the book I want to read by her would be a more accurate version of the truth. Morris believes that Hillary has a lot of similarities to Nixon. He basically presents her as being driven, with powerful ideological goals but also insecure and paranoid. He tone is more that rather than be feared she should be pitied (and in no way allowed to run the country.) Like I said Dick Morris is an enemy of Hillary so taking what he writes with a grain of salt is smart. I respect his political instincts though and expect that if you want to defeat Hillary you are better off casting her as a weak paranoid person than a cast iron evil bitch. The former plays to the fears of the moderates while that latter just encourages the 'I hate Hillary' crowd who would never vote for her anyway.

Breaking News!

Important original reporting from Instapundit Heh

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Its all about Tiimmiinngg!!

For anyone who has been following the Sandy Berger story, the latest talking points for the democrats is that this was 'interesting timing' or 'suspicious timing' because it will draw attention away from the release of the 9/11 report tomorrow and the Democratic convention next week. Supposedly the evil Republikkkans have known about this for months and have just been waiting for the best time to release this information. I want to know when, in the last several months, would have been a time that was not suspicious? During the April uprisings in Iraq? In May during the Abu Ghraib scandal? In June with several hot stories about the 9/11 and intelligence commissions? And if this had not been leaked now, when in the next few months would have been above suspicion? August? September? as an October surprise? I can't say for sure that this wasn't leaked at this time with malice by a Republican sympathizer. But it seems real unlikely to me. First off, this story has the potential to push the Joseph Wilson story off the radar. Second, if the 9/11 commission report is damaging wouldn’t it be smarter to leak this story right after the report comes out? You kill a story be releasing another story after it, rather than before it. If this was simple to put a cloud over the Democratic Convention wouldn’t it be better to actually leak this story during the Convention? Related thoughts here

States suing over CO2 emissions

New York Times:

Eight states and New York City sued five large utilities today that are the country's biggest emitters of carbon dioxide, the heat-trapping gas that scientists have linked to global warming. The effort is the first by local governments to try to force companies outside their jurisdictions to curb gas discharges blamed for rising global temperatures and sea levels. Officials involved in the suit said they had acted to force cuts in the gases because the federal government has not.
I try to keep an open mind about global warming while being extremely leery of any 'solution' that would have huge economic costs. This is definitely the wrong was to go about solving this issue however. Hopefully this lawsuit will completely fail.


Haiti was one of the counties that the action in "Emergency Sex" took place in. Here is the latest news on that poor country.

Donors pledged more than $1-billion (U.S.) yesterday to rebuild impoverished and strife-torn Haiti. But even as the international community was warned that it must be prepared to stay for the long haul, Canadian peacekeepers were getting ready to leave. ... But the fledgling peacekeeping force in Haiti is woefully short of soldiers, with only 2,200 on the ground, compared with the 8,000 the UN says are necessary. And nearly one-quarter of that force, the 520-strong Canadian contingent, will start packing to go home this week. The Canadians, who currently patrol Haiti's second-largest city, Gonaïves, and provide the force with six desperately needed helicopters, are part of a massive overseas military pullback being orchestrated by Ottawa. Canada is reducing its contingent in Afghanistan by two-thirds to 650, cutting its force in Bosnia by half to about 600 and pulling all but two officers from Haiti. Canadian forces in Haiti "will cease operations" on July 31 and expect to be home by mid-August, spokesman Captain David Devenney said yesterday from Port-au-Prince.
The U.N. is not able to get anything done when it comes to establishing security. Even interventions that are relatively popular, such as Haiti, Afghanistan and Bosnia end up being woefully undermanned and underfunded. Remember this next time someone says that we should get out of Iraq and let the U.N. handle things.

Emergency Sex

I finished reading Emergency Sex last night. It is a gripping account of three U.N. workers who were part of the big U.N. actions in the nineties. They are pretty unhappy with Clinton era foreign policy, starting with running Somalia and the resulting timidity of the President in deploying troops. I was personally opposed to most of the Clinton interventions because A) it wasn’t in our national interest and B) because of A we didn’t have the national will to do the job right. Since 9/11 I have concluded that I was wrong A. The world is a small place now. Global transportation and communication make it easy for regional conflicts to have a global effect. At best, the lawless failed countries are a useful hiding place for terrorists. At worse, criminal regimes will be active supporters of these people. Emergency Sex and other things I have read have confirmed that I was correct about point B though. America in the nineties did not have the political will to intervene successfully in foreign humanitarian disasters. The one real exception, Bosnia, was done with a strategy crafted for minimum risks and is still not resolved. In there are really only two ways to lose a war. One is to be annihilated and the other is to give up. America (with the possible exception of the South in the civil war) has never been annihilated. Every war, every conflict, that we have lost has been because we gave up.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Mongolian Hordes

Well, not hordes exactly but Mongolia has just committed to a third deployment in Iraq. They have also been very supportive of the Afgahnistan rebuilding and the War on Terror in general. Remember this whenever anyone tells you that Bush went it alone or that he put together a 'fraudulent alliance'. There are more countries than France.

Samuel Berger under investigation


Samuel Berger, former President Clinton's national security adviser, is under federal criminal investigation for allegedly removing classified documents and handwritten notes from a National Archives screening room during preparations for his testimony before the 9/11 commission.
This could have been anything from an accident, as Bergen claims to some sort of cover-up to hide evidence as some Clinton-haters are quick to assume. I have no idea what is really behind all of this but it will be interesting to watch.

Monday, July 19, 2004

Another Soldier Abuse Problem

This Article talks about some horid cases of abuse by soldiers:

The defence ministry says it has no knowledge of a United Nations report detailing sexual attacks on minors by South African soldiers stationed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). There have been allegations of 50 cases of sexual attacks on minors carried out by Monuc, the United Nations mission to the DRC, in Bunia in the north-east of the country over the past year.
Think we'll hear as much about this as Abu Ghraib? Of course two wrongs in no way makes a right. The problem in both cases probably stems from the tendancy of power to corrupt. Give a man a gun and the authority to do violence and he is likely to misuse that power. The only cure for this is discipline. Regular U.S. Military personnel are amoung the most disciplined in the world. As such we can place greater trust in them not to abuse their power. Our guard and reserve units are less disciplined, and therefore should be less trusted. That is one reason why I have argued that only regular military units should be guarding military prisons. The armed forces of many countries are even less discipined than our reserves and guard forces. This is one reason we should not be overly excited about 'U.N. forces' or internationalizing our military commitments.

Darfur Succession?

Carroll Andrew Morse has written an interesting TCS Article advocating the U.S. support succession of the Darfur Province from Sudan. An interesting idea. And it certainly couldn't make the situation worse. Iraq has also lead me to think about policies of splitting up countries containing warring factions recently. While I think that sometimes this solution may be necessary I don't think it is the most desirable one. I would prefer to work out ways to make ethnicity not matter in nations like Iraq and Sudan. Tribalism is a primitive system and all people should be able to live under a government where ethnicity doesn't matter. Of course that is easy to say and tough to do. Even in the United States we have our problems with this issue. And certainly espousing an ideal is a noble thing, but unrealistically supporting an idealistic goal at the current cost of human lives is evil.

Chaos in Palestine


Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Ahmed Qorei said Monday that Gaza was in "chaos," as two officials claimed to be chief of general security in Gaza and the West Bank. Meanwhile, Palestinian President Yasser Arafat, facing an unprecedented challenge to his power, said nothing.
I can't see this as being anything other than a good thing. The Palestinian leadership could benefit from a little chaos right now and anything that limits Arafats power is a good thing. While there are many obstacles and opponants to peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians, Arafat is probably the biggest.

Friday, July 16, 2004

Patent Problems


A small company called Acacia Research Corp. went after some of the biggest names in broadcasting last month, suing nine companies for an estimated $100 million for allegedly violating its patent on streaming video. That earned Acacia a spot on what the Electronic Frontier Foundation considers a top 10 list of intellectual property ignominy: patents the online civil liberties group is seeking to strike down as unwarranted and harmful to innovation.
The rest of the article is very interesting giving details about how difficult (and expensive) it is to challenge stupid patents. I have a friend who has been complaining about this for a while now and I do think that this is a problem. Quick evolution of technology has definately increased this problem.

Special Treatment

Baldilocks has a great post on special government programs for minorities being racism.  Interesting reading.

Flying Terrorists?

Read this scary account of a flight from Detroit to LA.  (hat tip Instapundit)   This story naturally brings up the question of how much profiling we should do to middle eastern men flying on our airline (or engaging in other activities.)  I am conflicted about this.  On the one hand, the terrorists we are fighting ARE middle eastern men.  They wish us ill and will kill as many as they can.  On the other hand I believe that a person should not be judged at all because of their skin color and we shouldn't treat people like suspects just because they are of a certain ethnicity.   That is probably why I am so hawkish on Iraq.  I believe strongly that the only way to solve this problem is to change the culture in the Middle-East.  More precisely I believe that we need to give the people of the middle east the chance to build a culture that is not dominated by thugs, whether secular or religious.    In the meantime, I suppose it is best to live with the risk and not violate any rights.  I doubt that sentiment will survive many more attacks however.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

FMA fails in the Senate

Houston Chronicle:

Sponsors of a White House-backed attempt to ban gay marriage vowed Wednesday to not give up despite a major defeat in the Senate that exposed a split among Republicans. Conservatives forced the four-day Senate debate over same-sex marriage to increase public support and apply election-year pressure to Democrats opposed to the constitutional amendment. Instead, it revealed a skittish Senate drawn by a social issue into a political fight that was doomed from the start. The 50-48 vote against bringing the initiative to a vote left supporters 12 votes short of the 60 needed to keep the issue alive, effectively ending chances an amendment could be submitted this year for ratification in states. They fell 19 votes shy of the 67 needed to pass a constitutional amendment in the Senate.
I am opposed to the FMA and pleased with this defeat.

Novak on Wilson

Robert Novak, who is at the center of the Valerie Plame controverys, has written an article on the recent Senate Intelligence Commitee findings that Joe Wilson pretty much lied his ass off.

Like Sherlock Holmes' dog that did not bark, the most remarkable aspect of last week's Senate Intelligence Committee report is what its Democratic members did not say. They did not dissent from the committee's findings that Iraq apparently asked about buying yellowcake uranium from Niger. They neither agreed to a conclusion that former diplomat Joseph Wilson was suggested for a mission to Niger by his CIA employee wife nor defended his statements to the contrary.

Another article from Peggy Noonan

Peggy Noonan has continued to write about her fears that America may want a more boring President because we are tired of the speed history is moving at. Read the whole thing. She makes it clear that she thinks George W. Bush's policies are the right ones but has some advice for the President: Convince the people that you love and long for peace, even as you fight a tough war. I have to say I agree with her. I think Bush does wish for peace, like Lincoln and FDR, but he hasn't always been the best at communicating this.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Memos from Fox News

Wonkette has posted a whole bunch of memos written by Fox News chief John Moody that were released by the makers of Outfoxed, an anti-fox news documentary. I read through the memos and while I detected a definate pro-American bias I didn't see much that seemed to be a conservative bias. Unless being pro-American is strictly conservative which I hope is not the case. This matches the assertion that Orson Scott Card (post here) that Fox was pro-American but centrist politically. As I noted in that post though it is tough to recognize bias that you share. If anyone has examples from these memos that indicate what they feel is a clear conservative bias post about it in the comments.

Palestinians get all the cool summer camps

Sky News:

Children as young as 10 are being recruited to fight for the Palestinian cause. Sky News has gained access to a young people's camp in Gaza, where the only lesson taught is how to kill Israelis.
I'll admit that when I was 10 I would have thought a learning to shoot AKs and carry out ambushes was a lot of fun. Unfortunately this won't end up just being fun games.

Senior Ansar al-Islam member captured


Kurdish security forces have captured 15 militants in northern Iraq, including one man believed to be a senior leader of a local Al Qaeda-linked group, an official in a pro-American Kurdish party said Tuesday. Among those arrested late Monday evening was a man identified as Hemen Banishiri, reportedly the second-in-command for the radical Kurdish group, Ansar al-Islam
The Iraqi's are taking more and more responsibility for their nation. We are witnessing the emergence of a new society in the Middle-East that will transform the region. (via Citizen Smash

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

More on the Saudi Amnesty

New York Times:

A Saudi-born Islamic militant, who was seen in a video tape with Osama bin Laden several years ago, turned himself in to the Saudi embassy in Teheran and was flown back to the Saudi Arabia, the official Saudi Press Agency and western news agencies reported today. Video footage shown on official Saudi television showed a bearded man identified as Khaled al-Harbi being carried off a small jet and placed into a wheelchair. Mr. Al-Harbi, who was also known as Abu Suleiman al-Makki, was dubbed the mystery dinner guest after he was seen sitting with Mr. bin Laden in a video tape released in December 2001, paying effusive tribute to the Qaeda leader and flattering him with news of Saudi clerics who he said had endorsed the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States.
I am still on the fence as to whether the Saudi Amnesty is the right thing to do. Sometimes you do have to wipe old debts clean and start fresh. On a more pragmatic vein if this yeilds actionable intelligence and a weakening of Al Qaeda that is definately a good thing.

Solar power from Nano Tech

FuturePundit has several interesting links on companies working to develop solor power from Nano Tech. Interesting stuff.

A Democratic take on the War on Terror

I noticed this interesting quote in an editorial about the idea of delaying elections in the event of a major terrorist attack.

Rep. Jane Harman said talk of postponing the election is "excessive, based on what we know," and she described Ridge's latest cries of alarm as "more chatter about old threats."
I don't think the threats are all old. Al Qaeda and others still wish us ill and will mount an attack if they can. From what I know to assume that they cannot is folly. The War on Terror isn't over yet. As to the issue of delaying an election in the event of an attack, this is something that I definitely think that we should be considering. We should have clear rules on how such a decision should be made and who was authorized to make it. If on Nov. 1st nuclear weapons went off in several U.S. cities (unlikely but a useful extreme example) I don't think anyone would expect that we could hold national elections on Nov. 2nd. On the other hand, very few would advocate delaying the elections over mere threat of attacks or even an isolated small-scale attack. Between these two extremes is a vast gray area. We should consider, rationally, how this gray area should be handled and how it is done. This is not a threat to the constitution, rather this is a way to strengthen it by putting rules in place before catastrophe so that rule of law can prevail even during a catastrophe.



Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari appealed to NATO on Tuesday to speed up promised training for his country's security forces and provide border security support and military equipment as well. "We need this training you promised us in Istanbul to be carried out as soon as possible. We need it, in fact we are in a race against time and it's a matter of urgency," Zebari told a news conference after meeting ambassadors of the 26-nation alliance.
Unfortunately for Iraq, NATO isn't what it used to be, as Afghanistan is now finding out. NATO was formed specifically for the purpose of defending Europe against the Soviets during the cold war. With the collapse of communism, NATO has been desparately seeking relevance and purpose. With this crisis of purpose has naturally come a lessening of unity. Even has NATO has grown, it has been becoming increasingly less relevant.

Monday, July 12, 2004

Crossing Over with John Edwards

It is understandable that a lot of people are confused about why John Kerry would pick the guy who talks to dead people on the SciFi channel as his running mate. Senator John Edwards of North Carolina is an entirely different person. SciFi Edward hears who have died. Senator Edwards in contrast hears people who haven’t been born.



A source in the Philippine embassy in Baghdad said Monday that abductors holding a Filipino truck driver have promised to release him Tuesday. It was not clear how that message was conveyed. The news came moments after the Philippines government said it would withdraw its 50-member humanitarian force from Iraq by July 20 to comply with the kidnappers' demands and save the life of 46-year-old Angel de la Cruz, a father of eight.
There are millions of Filipino workers in the Middle East. By agreeing to the terrorists demands Angel de la Cruz may be safer. All the others are in greater danger. I am sure that in the future the terrorists will have more demands. And they know the government of the Philippines will give in. Wretchard at Belmont Club wrote about this possibility on Saturday. Good reading.

Orson Scott Card on Media Bias


The only differences between Fox News and all the other news media are (1) they admit that on some issues they take sides, and (2) they allow the conservative side to be heard--without contempt. Fox News, for instance, made the decision after 9/11 that they would display the American flag. This has caused (and still causes) seething resentment from the rest of the news media. Why? First, it implies that the rest of the news media aren't patriotic. Well, duh. Come on, prior to 9/11--and even after it--they prided themselves on not being patriotic and spoke of people who were self-consciously patriotic with contempt. They thought of themselves as being above national borders. You can't have it both ways, kids. Second, it's pandering to the ignorant unwashed masses of Americans who want their news from people who are "on our side." Again, duh. When a nation is at war--which on 9/11 we finally realized that we are--we don't want to hear the news from neutral parties. We want the news to be accurate, yes--and Fox has had its share of painfully accurate scoops that nobody wanted to hear, but which we needed to know. But when a negative story comes out, we want the people telling us the news to say it with regret. And when America wins, we want our news media to tell us with excitement and happiness. In other words, we want to hear the truth from a friend. From someone who is one of us. And if it took an Australian-born mogul, Rupert Murdoch, to give us an American national news source, so be it.
Read the rest of the article as well, it gives some great examples of liberal bias and how that bias is disguised. I am not quite as sure as Card that Fox News isn't genuinely conservatively biased rather than just pro-america biased. As Card points out later in the article it is really difficult to discern something as biased when you agree with it.

The War on Terror and Pop Culture

Since 9/11 there have been three movies that to me seemed to exactly capture the feeling in the country and the themes of the War on Terror. First was The Fellowship of the Ring.

“I wish The Ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had ever happened.” “So do all who live to face such times, but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”
Next was the Two Towers.
Open war is upon you whether you would risk it or not.
Unfortunately Return of the King (although a great movie) is not the third in this particular series. The third movie is Spider Man 2. As I wrote about in this post about this column of Peggy Noonan's, which has caused a great stir in the blogosphere, America is tired of the war. Like Peter Parker we want to get on with our life, have a chance to kiss the girl and keep a job. The parallels aren’t exact of course. America is so powerful that we have been able to spend plenty of time kissing girls and we are certainly keeping our jobs. Like Peter Parker we are tired of the super hero gig though. I think this exhaustion is of a moral, rather than physical nature. We have great power; no one argues that, and most of us agree that with this power comes a great responsibility. Determining the responsible nature is difficult however. When should we invade another country? How much proof do we need that they are a threat? What does it mean if we are wrong about WMDs? What does Abu Ghraib say about our character as a nation? How much loss of innocent life is justified? What powers should we give law enforcement to deal with this threat? These questions are hard. They have no easy answers and constantly require revisiting. And there will never be complete agreement on any of them. Instapundit has posted an email from Austin Bay in Iraq today. While I agree with everything written there I think he missed the point a little about the source of the weariness with the war. In some ways I think this is easier for a soldier than for a citizen. As citizens we need to collectively set the policies of our nation, chart out the next steps, determine what is moral and what is not. A soldier just needs to act to follow orders; a citizen needs to decide when and how to act, what orders should be given. This is not intended to minimize in any way the sacrifices of those serving in our armed forces. They don’t get to kiss the girl and they don’t get to have regular jobs. And of course our soldiers are citizens as well and share in the responsibility of governing the conduct of our nation. But I think for a soldier there is less time to worry about the moral ramifications of our foreign policy as they deal with the day-to-day issues of fighting bad guys and rebuilding nations. In many ways this exhaustion is a good thing. We are tired because we are doing hard things, making difficult choices. If Americans were blasé about our actions, were unwearied because we were sure we were always right, simply too disinterested to worry about what our government was doing and unconcerned about the lives of those living in distant lands that would be dangerous. Just because we are tired, even if being tired is a good thing, is no reason to quit however. I believe strongly that there are many more difficult decisions that need to be made. Our enemies our still out there and they are unencumbered by moral qualms. Terrorist groups and countries that opposed to American power will continue to work together in the shadows to harm our country, and all who oppose freedom. I believe that now is the time to press forward rather than pause to consolidate our gains. Update: I want to clarify a little what I meant when I said that soldiers just have to act and they have less time to worry about the moral ramifications of our foreign policy. This is an attempt to explain why soldiers, such as Austin Bay, don't seem to be affected by the weariness with events that Peggy Noonan talks about while many of the rest of us, even the supporters of the war are. In no way is this meant to diminish the sacrifice or disparage the professionalism of our soldiers. Our soldiers are doing great work, with huge sacrifices in Iraq, Afghanistan and other places. They are amazing people who are doing great things every day.

Friday, July 09, 2004

Sudan roundup

Rajan Rishyakaran has post a good roundup of the recent news about the Darfur Genocide.

Another Republican Campaign add...

Courtesy of John Kerry CNN:

Let's get to, first thing's first, news of the day. Tom Ridge warned today about al Qaeda plans of a large-scale attack on the United States, didn't increase the -- do you see any politics in this? What's your reaction? KERRY: Well, I haven't been briefed yet, Larry. They have offered to brief me; I just haven't had time. But all Americans are united in our efforts to defeat terrorism.
10 out of 10 for honesty. Minus several million out of 10 for good sense.

Hotels in Space

Check out this facinating article on a private company that is working to build inflatable space habitats. Really cool.

Thursday, July 08, 2004

Spread of Democracy

Baltimore Sun:

IT WAS A notably superlative milestone: At more than 570,000 polling stations on some 14,000 islands spanning three time zones, an estimated 130 million Indonesians -- 90 percent of the electorate -- voted this week in the first direct presidential elections in the world's fourth-largest nation (which, not incidentally, happens to be home to the world's largest Muslim population).
The rest of the article goes on to talk about other emerging asian democracies. It also points out that asia was once seen as a region that was unsuitable for democracy, like the middle-east is considered by many now. Democracy in third world contries is still a messy process, ripe with coruption. Our own democratic history (and some would say present) is hardly free from that blemish either. Despite this, democracy does work, and will work for all people. There may be a better way to govern, and if there is I look forward to a time when we discover it. Right now democracy is the best we know and in my opinion it is pretty good.

Property Rights

My friend Bill sends along this article.

Residents of King County, Wash., will only be able to build on 10 percent of their land, according to a new law being considered by the county government, which, if enacted, will be the most restrictive land use law in the nation. Known as the 65-10 Rule (search), it calls for landowners to set aside 65 percent of their property and keep it in its natural, vegetative state. According to the rule, nothing can be built on this land, and if a tree is cut down, for example, it must be replanted. Building anything is out of the question.
I am all for the environment. I believe that there is a real benefit to the community to having a healthy eco-system. While one could quibble on the amount of land that should be left natural I will even provisionally agree that 65% is a good goal. That being said this is not the right way to achieve that goal. This is outright theft. If the community wants this land kept natural they should buy it, at market rate, and keep it natural. Or they could offer substantial property tax breaks to anyone who abides by the 65-10 standard. I have spoken to my friends that one of the great joys of my childhood was that we always lived near a ‘wild place’. It was great as a child to explore these undeveloped areas and experience nature on a day-to-day basis. I wish every child (and adult) could have that opportunity. I would support any program that would help to achieve this goal as long as it was fair. I think that there are a lot of really interesting ways to improve the environment and promote strong eco-systems that are also attractive and friendly to property owners and business.

Peggy Noonan comes up with the Democratic Theme

Return to Normalcy! Wall Street Journal:

Here is my fear: that the American people, liking and respecting President Bush, and knowing he's a straight shooter with guts, will still feel a great temptation to turn to the boring and disingenuous John Kerry. He'll never do anything exciting. He doesn't have the guts to be exciting. And as he doesn't stand for anything, he won't have to take hard stands. He'll do things like go to France and talk French and they'll love it. He'll say he's the man who accompanied Teresa Heinz to Paris, only this time he'll say it in French and perfectly accented and they'll all go "ooh la la!"
I think that this idea has a lot of merit and accounts for a lot of Kerry’s popularity beyond the Michael Moore set. Americans are tired. We wish the war on terror was over, and being partially a shadow war it is easy, tempting, to believe that it is. In some ways we were lucky one Sept. 11th. As horrible as that days events were they could have been worse. Bin Laden’s ilk would love to launch an even more devastating attack with nuclear, chemical or biological weapons. Sept. 11th was enough to wake the sleeping giant, but we didn’t lose New York. Now many Americans want to return to Sept. 10th. I am afraid that we will. We are dangerously close to returning to a state of denial, an attitude that the world is safe when there are still enemies that wish us ill, and are seeking the means to do so. Sept 10th was not a safe day; it was a day that hovered on the brink of disaster. John Kerry will not retreat from the war on terror. He will continue to support and buttress the gains we have made in Afghanistan and Iraq. He will continue to hunt down individual terrorists. But he will not continue the offensive. He will have little credible deterrence capability against Iran, Syria and North Korea. Slowly, but surely, the status quo will reassert itself and terrorist groups will reform and grow. Eventually they are likely to repeat their attacks and next may be much worse. It may not happen in the next for years. And it won’t be Kerry’s fault. He will only be doing what he was elected to do, acting on the mandate of the people. If Kerry is elected it will be the people’s will that America attempt return to normalcy. I do not believe that we have won the war on terror. I believe that more offense is needed. While this may not require further military invasions or regime changes we cannot succeed if that option is taken off the table. The world needs to know that America is fully committed to defeating terrorism if terrorism is to be defeated.

Lileks Fisks Moore

Once again, Lileks proves he is the master with this hilarious fisk of a recent Michael Moore article. I had read the article previously and briefly thought about fisking it myself but decided I didn't have the time. Glad I didn't, as my humble efforts would have paled in comparison

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Krauthammer on the French

Charles Krauthammer opines on French foreign policy, opposition to America, and pandering to the Arab world.

It is not just pique. It is not just antipathy to George Bush. And it is not just France's traditional and reflexive policy of trying to rein in, cut down and domesticate the world's greatest superpower so that ultimately secondary powers like France could emerge as leaders of a multipolar world. There is something far deeper going on here. Beyond the anti-Americanism is an attempt to court the Muslim and Arab world. For its own safety and strategic gain, France is seeking a "third way" between America and its enemies. Chirac's ultimate vision is a France that is mediator and bridge between America and Islam. During the cold war, Charles de Gaulle invented this idea of a third force, withdrawing France from the NATO military structure and courting Moscow as a counterweight to Washington. Chirac, declaring in Istanbul that "we are not servants" of America, has transposed this Gaullist policy to the struggle with radical Islam. Explosive population growth in the Arab world coupled with Europe's unprecedented baby bust presages a radical change in the balance of power in the Mediterranean world. Chirac perhaps sees a coming Muslim future or, at least, a coming Muslim resurgence. And he does not want to be on the wrong side of that history. The result is a classic policy of appeasement: stand up to the American presumption of dictating democratic futures to Afghanistan and Iraq; ingratiate yourself with the Arab world. Thus, for example, precisely at a time when the U.S. and many Western countries are shunning Yasser Arafat for supporting terrorism and obstructing peace, Chirac sends his Foreign Minister to the ruins of Arafat's compound to shake Arafat's hand for world cameras.
France's motivations are always difficult to determine. It seems clear to me that France has made a strategic decision to attempt to limit American power in any way possible. This may or may not be a wise choice for France (I think it is a mistake) but it is coherent. One of Senator Kerry’s loudest criticisms of President Bush’s handling of the war in Iraq has been Bush’s failure to get traditional allies (i.e. France) to go along with us on the venture. I have yet to hear what Kerry would do to get France’s approval. One could suppose that Kerry believes that it is the personality of Bush that is France’s problem and the simple fact of Kerry being in the White House would cause a reversal in France’s foreign policy. I find it facile to believe that France would let personality dominate its foreign policy decisions (or that they find Bush to be more personally repugnant than Arafat, Saddam, or the other dictators they have no problem being nice too). The other way that Kerry could get France back on our side is to work with them at their goal to limit American power. Certainly a retreat from the world, a reduction of American military power and an agreement to abide by Kyoto and the ICC would all be greeted with great approval by France and would restore them as ‘traditional allies’. Obviously Kerry would not run on the second idea and I do not truly believe that he advocates or plans such a course. However the fact remains that only the two possibilities exist. So which is it Senator? Are the French chumps now or should we be chumps in the future?

Another good news update from Iraq

Arthur Chrenkoff has more good news from Iraq.


Random Gemini points out this article about Iranian Intelligence Agents in Iraq. Belmont Club also has comments today about Iran and how it is relating with Iraq. Iran is testing the new Iraqi government, as well as the will of it's supporters, the United States and Britain especially. I am sure they have no plans for open war at this time, but I expect we will continue to see calculated provocations for the next several months.

Tuesday, July 06, 2004


Wall Street Journal:

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan has been raising the alarm about Darfur--and he also visited there this week--but not until two weeks ago did the Security Council call for an immediate halt to the fighting. This being the U.N., the resolution was toothless. Permanent members China and France are worried about jeopardizing their business interests in Sudan. Pakistan and Algeria, which hold temporary seats, refuse to impose sanctions on a fellow Muslim nation even as it is engaged in the mass killing of Muslims. Rather, the event that finally caught the attention of the government in Khartoum was the Bush Administration's threat last month to impose serious sanctions on Sudan and refuse visas to Sudanese officials. The next day Sudan's president went on state radio to say he had ordered a "complete mobilization" to disarm the warring parties in Darfur. We'll see. This regime is not known for keeping its promises. ... It is fashionable these days to express distaste for American "unilateralism" and "hegemony." The unfolding catastrophe in Darfur offers a chilling view of what the alternative really looks like.
It is unfortunate that there is no such thing currently as a multi-lateral solution to an international problem. There is either U.S. power or doing nothing. In current geo-politics there is no third solution.

Edwards as Veep


Sen. John Kerry has chosen his colleague and former presidential rival Sen. John Edwards as his running mate for the 2004 presidential election. Kerry announced the choice at a rally in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, telling the cheering crowd that Edwards is "a man who understands and defends the values of America."
I was surprised that Kerry picked Edwards. I felt that Kerry wouldn't want someone who was so obviously more charismatic than him on the ticket. Guess I was wrong. John Edwards really did impress me as a candidate this year however. He is obviously articulate and energetic.

Friday, July 02, 2004

Solidarity with Terror

Lee Kaplan writes of a training session with the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), a pro-palestinian 'peaceful' activist group. Fascinating Reading. via Belmont Club

Walter Cronkite on the Democrats lack of a platform

Walter Cronkite writes:

The Kerry campaign and the Democratic Party have blown a chance to be far ahead today in the presidential campaign and the equally important campaigns across the country for control of the Senate and the House of Representatives. They have clung to past routine in drawing up their 2004 platform while ignoring an important lesson that polls revealed about their losses in the elections of 2000 and 2002. Pollsters then found that many of those who might have voted Democratic said they did not do so because they did not know what the Democrats stood for.
I think that this is a huge problem for Kerry's campaign in particular and the Democrats in general. The old adage is that you can't beat something with nothing and the Democrat's don't have anything. In many ways they have become the more conservative of the two parties, standing for preservation of affirmative action, preservation of the current eduacational system (opposing vouchers and teacher accountability) even in the abortion debate they are merely for the status quo. The big economic issue for the democrats appears to be outsourcing and jobs flowing overseas. Environmentalism, especially the quasi-religious environmentalism of the left, is also focused solely on preserving what we have, not improving or making things better. The common theme of democratic policies seems to me to be fear of the future, fear of change. Even the opposition to the Iraq War and the seeming lukewarm approach to the War on Terror seem connected by this theme of fear. We should do nothing because anything we do will make things worse. Regardless of the merits of any of these policies, lack of anything new to be pushing for is a real political problem. I don't think a platform that consists of merely Republicans are bad and George Bush is the devil has much chance of success.

Why are Nerds unpopular?

Glenn links to this essay on popularity in high school. Very interesting reading. I'm going to have to think on this for a bit. More comments on this later perhaps.

US plans major show of force

The Navy will be conducting a training exercise off China with 7 carrier groups.

The United States is planning a massive show of force in the Pacific Ocean near China to register a point with Beijing. In an exercise codenamed Operation Summer Pulse 04, it is expected to arrange for an unprecedented seven aircraft carrier strike groups (CSGs) to rendezvous in waters a safe distance away from the Chinese coastline - but still within striking distance - after mid-July.
This is a friendly way to tell China to keep it's hands off Tiawan.

Cosby tells it like it is


Bill Cosby went off on another tirade against the black community Thursday, telling a room full of activists that black children are running around not knowing how to read or write and "going nowhere." He also had harsh words for struggling black men, telling them: "Stop beating up your women because you can't find a job."
I'm not black and I’m not going to pretend that I truly know the challenges African Americans face in our society. I do have a feeling though that a good portion of the black communities troubles are internally, as much as externally, caused.
Cosby elaborated Thursday on his previous comments in a talk interrupted several times by applause. He castigated some blacks, saying that they cannot simply blame whites for problems such as teen pregnancy and high school dropout rates. "For me there is a time ... when we have to turn the mirror around," he said. "Because for me it is almost analgesic to talk about what the white man is doing against us. And it keeps a person frozen in their seat, it keeps you frozen in your hole you're sitting in."
This is true for everyone, you can blame others, and go nowhere or you can look at your problems and see what you need to do about them.

Thursday, July 01, 2004

Operation Shoe Fly update

Operation Shoe Fly has it's own website As a have said previosly this is a worthy cause and I urge you to support it.

Dancing Saddam

A hot item in Baghdad toy stores.

Iraqis used to dance to his tune, but in Baghdad toy shops a chubby, gun-toting Saddam Hussein doll now wiggles his hips to the "Hippy Hippy Shake."

News coverage in Iraq

Eric M. Johnson, a marine corps reservist, writes about the Washington Post's coverage of the war. His conclusion:

Chandrasekeran’s meta-narrative admits of no ambiguity. For him and his reporters, they report in straightforward, declarative sentences, with none of the caveats that Bennett mentions. The Americans are still bumbling, the Iraqis continue to seethe. So it shall be in the Washington Post, until Iraq succeeds and they can no longer deny it, just like journalists were forced to admit reality at the end of the Cold War. Or else their words will have their effect, and Western journalists have to flee the country as it disintegrates. Since I saw Rajiv Chandrasekaran's integrity up close, I haven't believed a word he writes, or any story coming out of the bureau he runs. You shouldn't, either.
It is tough to know what is happening in Iraq. I rely on a variety of news sources, including Iraqi blogs. These disparate, often conflicting, sources of information then have to be collated and weighed to give me my 'final' picture of what is going on there. Obviously a good portion of this process is subjective, formed by my pre-existing paradigms and conclusions. I could be in error, and it is wise for all of us to always remember that.

Saddam in Court

New York Times:

Saddam Hussein defiantly faced an Iraqi judicial hearing today in Baghdad, where he was read seven preliminary charges against him that included the 1990 invasion of Kuwait, the suppression of the Shiite uprising, and the gassing and ethnic cleansing of the Kurds, according to a television pool report.