Sunday, October 31, 2004

More Robo-calls.

Okay, just had our first robo-call of the day. It was Franklin Graham. That was a surprise. Graham was urging us to vote, but now that I think about it, I don't think he offered any suggestions about who to vote for. He said something about the importance of this election in terms of issues that affect the family, but he didn't tell us to vote for any specific candidate. The tag, of course, said "paid for by the Republican National Committee," just in case there was doubt about the implications of what Graham was saying. Still, that's the first robo-call I've had that didn't mention one candidate or the other.

Whoops, the phone's ringing again.

This time it's Bart Starr. This robo-call is really timely, because the recording mentions today's Packer victory over the Redskins. Starr continues to urge us to vote for the "Republican team," but not Bush specifically. The tag said this call was paid for by the Republican Party of Wisconsin.

Who's going to call next? I'm giddy with anticipation!

Scary people going door to door.

Just as the trick-or-treaters started going door to door this evening, our neighbors answered a knock and found a couple women from the anti-Bush group America Coming Together out begging for votes. Scariest thing in our neighborhood tonight, guaranteed.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

The ringing won't stop!

Oh, the phone's a-ringin' off the hook today with robo-calls galore soliciting my vote. Plus a couple real live callers--one for each campaign. The Republican lady I spoke with was happy and enthusiastic about Bush taking both Wisconsin and Minnesota.

The woman who called on behalf of the Democrats was not so enthusiastic. After I announced that I was certainly not going to vote for any Democrats I asked her, with mock incredulity, why she would be voting for them. (I was hoping to do a little GOP evangelism.)

"To be honest," she said, "I'm a Republican."

"You are? But . . . you're making calls for the Democratic party!"

"To get through college I'm working for a telemarketing firm in Minneapolis, and we've been hired to make these calls."

Well, that's gotta suck. I asked her if she's considered slightly altering her phone pitch when she makes the calls, and promoting the GOP instead. "Are your bosses monitoring everything you say?" I asked.

"No," she said. "I suppose I could do that."

Then she added, "But they are paying me $11.00 an hour."

I wished her good luck and have a nice day and all that. Poor kid. Forced to take a job promoting Democrats just so she can go to school. It must be Bush's fault, somehow.

My wife's sister is going to babysit, so it's off to dinner and a movie tonight. First time in quite a while. I even let my wife pick the movie! (What a guy, eh?)

Bill Maher, al-Qaeda Stooge

I just had to pass along this from Jeff Jarvis by way of Ann Althouse.

Maher tonight says the tape won't affect the election. "Americans know: Osama bin Laden does not pick our President. The Supreme Court does."

Maher says some of the stuff in the bin Laden tape "I swear to God could have come out of the Democratic National Committee or a Kerry speech."Maher starts to read; Gen Wes Clark interrupts -- sensibly -- and doesn't want to seem by silence to be agreeing with that. Maher reads some of bin Laden's statements and the audience -- amazingly --applauds! Maher: "Sometimes you can agree with an evil person. I mean, Hitler was a vegetarian." What the F has become of us? A studio audience is applauding a mass murderer?


I seem to recall that the al-Qaeda tape released earlier this week--the one apparently featuring an American al-Qaeda member--praised Bill Maher. Perhaps this is why. (Hat tip: Lileks)

CBC: First of all I have to ask you something that everyone wants me to ask you which is what are the five things Canadians should know about the American election?

Maher: I don't know about five things but I think what Canadians should know about the American election is that you're lucky you don't live here. You don't have to participate in this sham democracy we have, you know? I mean I could tell you about, I could tell you five ways we don't really have a democracy in this country.

. . . You're being logical, dear. You're not thinking like an American. OK? Johnny Depp said this was a stupid country. And then he made me very mad and he took it back. Well, I say it. I don't take it back. It's stupid. Really stupid. It's about the marketing, don't you know? It's not about what's real. It's about what they market to people. I mean, they wereable to morph bin Laden into Hussein.

. . .

CBC: Why then do people, the polls indicate that this fear is leading more and more people to vote for George Bush or say they're going to vote for George Bush? Why would George Bush be the person they thought they would be safer with?

Maher: I refer back to my answer to question two, stupid country. Stupid. Because he appears to be resolute. He appears to be strong. He clears brush and he looks like the Marlborough Man. If you see him in pictures, he stands… like he's about to draw a gun and he uses cowboy language, and he's from Texas. So to people who don't think it through very much, he looks like a guy who's standing up to the bad guys.

But you have to understand this is an administration that more than any I've ever seen, counts on the intellectual sluggishness of the American population. This is a little learning is a dangerous thing in administration. That's a good thing for them because the American public has a little learning. Very little. But just enough to be a dangerous thing.

The rest of the interview is just as bad. Go read it if you have the stomach for it.

This is what I'd call offering aid and comfort to our enemies. Used to be illegal. To hear some people talk, Ashcroft locks people up for this kind of thing. So far, Maher's still roaming free.

The American people--who Maher referred to, collectively, as "stupid"--should show this idiot just how smart they are and demand that HBO cancel Maher's show.

"Starve the Beast."

Cronkite: Karl Rove "probably set up bin Laden to this thing"

(Hat tip: PoliPundit)

Walter Cronkite is a sad, sad man. Cronkite surmises that Karl Rove set up the whole tape to distract from al-Qaqaa.

Here's a transcript of his appearance on Larry King.

KING: OK, Walter. What do you make of this?

CRONKITE: Well, I make it out to be initially the reaction that it's a threat to us, that unless we make peace with him, in a sense, we can expect further attacks. He did not say that precisely, but it sounds like that when he says...

KING: The warning.

CRONKITE: What we just heard. So now the question is basically right now, how will this affect the election? And I have a feeling that it could tilt the election a bit. In fact, I'm a little inclined to think that Karl Rove, the political manager at the White House, who is a very clever man, he probably set up bin Laden to this thing. The advantage to the Republican side is to get rid of, as a principal subject of the campaigns right now, get rid of the whole problem of the al Qaqaa explosive dump. Right now, that, the last couple of days, has, I think, upset the Republican campaign.

Larry King introduces Cronkite as "the legendary journalist and old friend, a great man in the history of broadcast journalists, and maybe the most revered person ever to go on camera."

Now that's a load of Qaqaa.

Osama gives Fahrenheit 9-11 Two Thumbs Up!

About that new tape of Osama threatening the US again. . . .

Yeah? So I guess this means he was alive and able to see "Fahrenheit 9-11." Osama levels this criticism at President Bush.

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


(Osama, of course, would simply slit the throat of a little girl who dared display an ability to read. Infidel!)

It'd be nice to get Osama, but the global war on terrorism will not end if Osama is captured. Meanwhile, we've captured or killed two-thirds to three-fourths of al-Qaeda's leadership, disrupted their funding, and made it more difficult for them to organize. No wonder Osama is all cranky.

Weekend Spin from the Boston Globe

The Boston Globe is attempting some last-minute spin for John Kerry this weekend. Today they relate this piece of old news, that UN weapons inspectors weren't allowed back into Iraq immediately following the fall of Baghdad. But they attempt to connect it to al-Qaqaa.

United Nations weapons inspectors pressed for permission to return to Iraq to help monitor weapons sites on the heels of the US-led invasion but were denied entry by the US-led coalition, according to a former inspector, UN officials, and a letter from the International Atomic Energy Agency obtained by the Globe.

The sites included Al Qaqaa, a sprawling facility about 30 miles south of Baghdad. At least 377 tons of powerful explosives, including the particularly dangerous substance known as HMX, have vanished from that location.

"They wanted to go. They were begging to go," said David Albright, a former weapons inspector who now heads the Institute for Science and International Security and who lobbied in vain for the UN agency in April 2003 to be allowed to resume work in Iraq. "They would have gone to Al Qaqaa and said, 'Here's the HMX. Burn it.' They would have been a driver of efforts to find these things. . . . They would have provided a tremendous service."

Note the way the spin is applied. "The sites included Al Qaqaa . . ." and the quote from Albright, "They would have gone to Al Qaqaa . . ."

Albright also recalls a telephone conversation with an unnamed official that specifically mentioned al-Qaqaa.

Albright said he recalls a phone conversation in May 2003 with a senior IAEA official who wanted to return to Al Qaqaa.

"He talked of the need for inspectors to go back to Iraq because they had an intimate knowledge of Iraqi facilities and felt an obligation to resume monitoring," Albright said. "He then mentioned the explosives at Al Qaqaa in the context of worrying that someone would take it and make truck bombs."

A specific mention by name of one of many weapons facilities, as if al-Qaqaa held some major importance over all the others? That's a pretty convenient recollection. Pardon me if I remain skeptical.

Other than being able to now use the name of a specific facility, there's nothing new about this story. But now that we can put a name on the bogeyman, we can use it to scare the public.

Friday, October 29, 2004

The importance of a sense of humor

Earlier this week I heard David Gelernter on Bill Bennett's radio program talking about the necessity for a candidate to have a sense of humor (something John Kerry lacks in an almost pathological way). I gathered that he'd written something recently on the subject, so I got my Google on, and tracked this down. It appears to have been a column in the LA Times, but why would I want to send anyone there? It looks like the whole piece is here, at Midwest Pundits.

Americans have no litmus test for the presidency — but if they did, “sense of humor” might be it. Your sense of humor is an open door that gives other people access to your character, to the person you are. A humorless person is a mystery. We can’t ever know him, so we can’t ever trust him.

American-style democracy makes humor especially important. We don’t look for elevated characters or deep thinkers when we hire a president. We want someone in whom we can recognize ourselves. And we take it for granted that the president must fill the world’s most powerful position with dignity but not get puffed-up about it.

. . .

Bush is not pompous. Bush is not mean. Bush is not wooden. Bush could not be replaced by a humanoid robot without his friends ever noticing. Bush has friends. Bush is never patronizing. Until he ran for president against Kerry, Bush never used to beat people around the head with phony, meaningless, unverifiable statistics instead of speaking to the point. (Admittedly, he has now learned how, from Kerry.)

Almost always, Bush means what he says. Sometimes he means it so much it hurts. Bush can be painfully sincere; you can see how badly he wants you to understand and agree with him. The European line that he is arrogant is bunk; the European definition of “arrogant” is “any American who doesn’t kiss my behind.”

Gotta love that last line. Heh.

Go read the whole thing.

Discovering this column is just another reminder that I've always wanted to read 1939: The Lost World of the Fair. I still don't quite get Gelernter's "Lifestreams" model of computer file organization, and I think it's probably a solution in search of a problem. Though it pokes heavily at the synesthete in me.

But I digress.

For an amusing "behind the scenes" look at the President, check out this video introduced by the Bush twins. There's a guy who seems pretty relaxed in his own skin.

George Bush seems to walk through the world without much thought for himself. Though he appears comfortable in any setting, he's not what I'd call an extrovert, at least not in the Clinton sense of the word where being an extrovert is simply a means to self-promotion. "But enough about me; let's talk about you. What do you think of me?" You can see on his face that the President is a serious thinker. But there is also a certain ineffable quality about the President that I can only describe as humility, which I think is revealed by one's sense of humor.

I don't want to overstate the importance of a Presidential sense of humor. We're not electing stand-up comics. If we were, Bob Dole would have been president. Dole is wickedly funny, and it didn't really help him. The trouble was it never came out during the campaign. Only afterward did the public see Bob Dole's wit on display in his late-night talk show appearances.

But there are different kinds of "senses of humor." Bob Dole is a stand-up comic kind of guy who shoots out one-liners. President Bush is not a comic, but he gets the joke.

And unlike John Kerry, he can let himself be the joke once in awhile.

Lest we forget . . .

Frank's always good. But when he's in a Blood Red Fury, he's great!

What we liberated in Iraq was every bit as bad as the horrors of Nazi Germany. Any reasoning we had for invading was made moot by the discovery of the first "Childrens Prison" on the 4th day of the Invasion. We may not have gone in for that reason, but once we discovered them, and the mass graves, nothing else mattered.

When I watched old war movies when I was a kid, my dad told me to remember every time I saw a bomber fall from the sky in that stock footage, I was watching 11 men who would not be coming home. He reminded me that the stock gun camera footage in movies wasn't Hollywood, that it was real, men did die and people did get killed. I was not to cheer, even when it was a Messerschmidt getting shot in the film, it was an airplane, piloted by a man. That man had family, good or bad right wrong, the plane was real, the man flying it was real, and a family that mourns his loss even today, is real.

The pictures that follow aren't Hollywood, they are real. All too real I am afraid. And shame on us all for forgetting the cost they paid before we finally put a stop to it.

I'm with Frank on the children's prison. After I read about that I no longer cared about any of the other dozen reasons for getting rid of Saddam Hussein.

Come tell me how the world is really made 'shades of grey' and how silly and simpleminded I am for thinking that there is real evil at work in the world and that we have a duty to stop it. Come and tell me that we Americans are the same as Saddam and his thugs. Come and tell me that the United States is the biggest threat to peace in the world. Tell me that our war in Iraq was a mistake and our President a lying fool for sending us there.

Talk to me until the rivers run dry and the atmosphere evaporates into space, then go tell these people about the evils of America. Tell them how all we want is their oil. They will tell you they would gladly give it to us if only we could bring back the lives of their children, their wives, their husbands, all butchered at the hands of the Tikiri clan. Be sure you tell them how you feel we should never have gone to Iraq because it wasnt a threat to America. Be sure you tell them how you wish the UN sanctions should have been allowed to work, even after they had been in place for 10 years, killing thousands.

The pictures in Frank's post are unsettling, but a reminder of what kind of monster was running Iraq. And if John Kerry was in charge, Saddam would still be there. And these pictures would continue to be daily occurences.

Harkin: Kerry's rise in polls is "How God wants it to be."

(Hat tip: Carol Platt Liebau)

According to Senator Tom Harkin (D-Mirror Universe), John Kerry has been gaining in the polls every day for the last week, and "That's how God wants it to be."

Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin says John Kerry has been gaining in the polls every day since Oct. 21, and George Bush has been going down every day.

"That's how God wants it to be," Harkin told a group of about 25 people at the Benton County Headquarters in Vinton on Thursday afternoon.

Harkin was touring the state to stump for Kerry and Democratic legislative candidates. He appeared in Benton County on behalf of Mt. Auburn Mayor Dawn Pettengill, who is running against incumbent Republican Dell Hanson for the Iowa House District 39 seat.

Remember the rules: Republicans may never invoke God or reference their personal faith without the left getting all skittish. Democrats, on the other hand, are free to use God like a battering ram.

Two other interesting things here. First: Harkin was speaking to a group of only 25 people? Is that all the supporters they could find?

And second, was he kidding about Kerry rising in the polls? Or is he practicing "name it and claim it" theology?

I love this next part, though:

After encouraging the party faithful to get out the vote for Kerry, Harkin turned his attention to the Iowa Legislature, which he called an "albatross around the neck" of Gov. Tom Vilsack, whom he referred to as the "best governor in the United States."

"This is the worst legislature I've seen since the 1950s," Harkin said.

Harkin didn't remember the name of Pettengill's opponent, but told the group, "he has to go."

Harkin seems to have a memory problem.

Carol adds:

This kind of silliness is why people of faith overwhelmingly tend to prefer Republicans. Tom Harkin thinks he's reached out to the religious by telling voters that Kerry has been rising in the polls (what?!) because "That's how God wants it to be." How cool is it that Senator Harkin somehow knows the mind of the Almighty? And who would have guessed that God was in favor of partial birth abortion?

Further thoughts: I'm not comfortable with supporters of either side saying that that God supports their candidate. I could say that given what's revealed in scripture, God is probably opposed to same-sex marriage and, as Carol says, partial birth abortion. The argument can be made, then, but I'm not going to do it. Instead I'm going to pray that President Bush gets reelected, while attempting to find peace in the knowledge that God is ultimately in control of whatever happens.

More Election Predictions

(Found at: PoliPundit.)

The writers at the Weekly Standard share their predictions for Tuesday's vote. Katherine Mangu-Ward wins the prize for the most implausible:

Popular Vote: 50% Bush - 50% Kerry

Electoral College: 269 Bush - 269 Kerry--Republican House decides for Bush

Senate: 51 (D), 49 (R)

House: Republicans retain control (who knows by how much) but I predict an upset in Vermont, knocking Bernie Sanders out of his seat and finally eliminating the irritating "1" in the "Other" category in all these tallies

Dark horse: Hillary Clinton for VP. Obviously, this is a very dark horse. But here's how it's possible: When the House decides the outcome for president (as it will in the event of an Electoral College tie), the Senate chooses the vice president. But it's not the current Senate that decides, it's the newly elected Senate. I predict that Democrats take control of the Senate, ditch Edwards, and install Hillary, thus giving her a fantastic (if unorthodox) launch pad for her 2008 presidential campaign.

Minnesota now a Red State?

One site I've been checking regularly for the last few months is The map shows the projected electoral votes based on recent polls. While the results you see are dependent on the validity of the most recent polls, it provides a neat "snapshot."

Today, for the first time since I started checking, Minnesota has become a Red State due to the results of a Zogby poll. (That would be a "Red State" in the Bush-supporting sense. Minnesota has always had the other kind of red tendencies.)

Wisconsin is also briefly in the Kerry camp today, also due to a Zogby poll. Look for both results to be upstaged by even more recent polls, perhaps by the time you check the link, the situation may be reversed. Still, the fact that Minnesota is in play should be quite surprising.

At the same time, the upper midwest has been trending conservative during the last decade. Were it not for Clinton, who had across the board appeal, I suspect the upper midwest would have gone "red" quite awhile ago.

Senator Kerry is not Bill Clinton. He doesn't have the charm; he'll certainly never attain the nickname of "slick." So Kerry can get 10,000 people at a rally in Madison. This is no big deal. It's Madison, folks. Noam Chomsky could probably get 20,000 people, and that's without the support of Bruce Springsteen.

I'm going to go out on a limb here and predict both Minnesota and Wisconsin for Bush.

Media distortions / "Starve the Beast"

The Media Research Center offers the Ten Worst Media Distortions of Campaign 2004. (The al-Qaqaa "gotcha" that the media pulled this week was probably too recent to make the cut.) These are just ten (of many) reasons why the blogosphere is important and necessary.

When this election is over and the dust settles a bit, some serious thought must be given toward how to ensure the mainstream news media faces the consequences for their actions.

The Elder at Fraters Libertas offers what seems like the only solution to the bias problem: "Starve the Beast."

The most effective approach to weight loss is not yo-yo dieting, but rather a lifestyle change that includes eating better and exercising. We need to take such an approach to the media. We need to make long lasting media lifestyle changes.

I used to believe that the best way to fight the liberal media was to engage them on their turf. I used to subscribe to the Star Tribune, sent letters to the editor, and submitted commentary pieces.

But now I've reached the conclusion that the proper approach is to delegitimatize and marginalize the most egregious offenders. And the way to do this is to cut them off entirely. The fuel that feeds their fire is advertising revenue. Advertiser revenue that is generated on the belief that consumers are reading, listening, or watching each particular media outlet.

Newspapers and magazines don't make their money on subscriptions. They use (and in some cases, inflate) their subscription base to sell advertising. Television and radio use their ratings to sell advertising.

In order to fight media bias, we must stop feeding the fire. The multi-headed media beast must be starved. I urge you to step back and take an inventory of your media lifestyle. It's time to make some changes.

The comparison to weight-loss and lifestyle change is a great one. Instead of changing the food we consume, we must change the media we consume.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Campaigning in the Mirror Universe

When the Democratic candidate for president negatively compares his Republican opponent to John F. Kennedy by comparing Iraq to the Bay of Pigs invasion, can we conclude from this bizarre act of desperation that the race is over? (Link to Captain Ed.)

What's the Big Deal?

Clifford May in the National Review Online says that the al-Qaqaa story is really about "foreign interests that may be improperly influencing the U.S. media to affect the outcome of an American election."

At this point, Times editors ought to be asking who got their story rolling and to what end?

Here's one theory: It was Mohammed ElBaradei, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency. Why would he do that? "The U.S. is trying to deny ElBaradei a second term," a high U.S. government official told me. "We have been on his case for missing the Libyan nuclear weapons program and for weakness on the Iranian nuclear weapons program."

ElBaradei also opposed the liberation of Iraq. And he would like nothing better than to see President Bush be defeated next week.

If all this is true it would amount to a major scandal: It would mean that a senior U.N. official may be changing the outcome of an American election by spreading false information. And major U.S. media outlets are allowing themselves to be manipulated in pursuit of that goal.

The attempt by a UN official to influence the election in favor of John Kerry is a very big deal. And don't forget--there are Democrats in this country who have invited UN officials to come oversee our elections.

(Yes, I question their patriotism.)

Open Letter to the American People

Found at: Plastic Hallway:

More than 100 families of victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks have signed this Open Letter to the American People in support of President Bush.

Here are the closing paragraphs:

We speak to you from the heart, as citizens from all across the country and every political stripe. We are Republicans and Democrats, “liberals” and “conservatives,” young and old. We are mothers and fathers, husbands and wives, sisters, brothers, sons, daughters and friends. We speak out from a profound sense of obligation to those we have lost and to the country that we love. Guided by core principles, President Bush has steadfastly told us who he is, what he believes and what he will fight for. He is a caring and decisive leader who is not afraid to make hard choices to keep this nation safe, by keeping it strong. He has sent a clear message to America’s friends and foes that he will not waver in his resolve as the winds of political fortune change. He will not revert to the failed policies of the past which only served to whet the appetite of those who would destroy us. He will stand firm against our adversaries.

As Americans who have keenly felt the scourge of terrorism, we are inspired and energized to follow the President’s lead, to rise to the occasion and get the job done. We are deeply grateful to President Bush, who rallied this nation on that dark September day, who has earned our respect and confidence, and whose leadership we trust to steer this country on the right path.

Three years ago, George W. Bush stood with us and vowed that he would “Never forget.”

We stand with him now.

Good stuff. We need this kind of reminder. Detractors will complain that they've politicized the incident. Well, if anyone has the right to politicize it, they do.

It wouldn't be much of a fight.

"Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists."

In laying out the "Bush Doctrine" of foreign policy after 9/11, the President stated that we will make no distinction between terrorists and the nations who harbor them.

Yasser Arafat is on his way to Paris for medical treatment. Does this mean that under the Bush Doctrine we can now legitimately invade France?


KSTP News crew may have videotaped al-Qaqaa weapons?

This story was gleefully sent to me by one of my friends in the fever swamp of the left:

Using GPS technology and talking with members of the 101st Airborne Division, 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS has determined the crew embedded with the troops may have been on the southern edge of the Al Qaqaa installation, where the ammunition disappeared. The news crew was based just south of Al Qaqaa, and drove two or three miles north of there with soldiers on April 18, 2003.

During that trip, members of the 101st Airborne Division showed the 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS news crew bunker after bunker of material labelled "explosives." Usually it took just the snap of a bolt cutter to get into the bunkers and see the material identified by the 101st as detonation cords.

. . .

Once the doors to the bunkers were opened, they weren't secured. They were left open when the 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS crew and the military went back to their base.

"We weren't quite sure what were looking at, but we saw so much of it and it didn't appear that this was being secured in any way," said photojournalist Joe Caffrey. "It was several miles away from where military people were staying in their tents".

Officers with the 101st Airborne told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS that the bunkers were within the U.S. military perimeter and protected. But Caffrey and former 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS Reporter Dean Staley, who spent three months together in Iraq, said Iraqis were coming and going freely.

"At one point there was a group of Iraqis driving around in a pick-up truck,"Staley said. "Three or four guys we kept an eye on, worried they might come near us."

Clearly three or four guys in a pickup truck aren't going to cart away the alleged 380 tons of explosives. But how secure was the facility?

UPDATE: More here.

A 5 Eyewitness News crew in Iraq may have been just a door away from materials that could be used to detonate nuclear weapons. The evidence is in videotape shot by Reporter Dean Staley and Photographer Joe Caffrey at or near the Al Qaqaa munitions facility.

The video shows a cable locking a door shut. That cable is connected by a copper colored seal.

A spokesperson for the International Atomic Energy Agency told 5 Eyewitness News that seal appears to be one used by their inspectors. "In Iraq they were used when there was a concern that this could have a, what we call, dual use purpose, that there could be a nuclear weapons application."

Needless to say, my fever swamp pal is quite giddy about all this.

Further thoughts: I find it quite telling that the left is dancing a jig over the thought that Iraqi insurgents may have made off with tons of weapons. They don't care if it endangers our soldiers. They're just happy that it might help get John Kerry elected.

Only three tons?

I heard a brief news item on the radio this morning that ABC and Fox News are reporting that it may have been only three tons of explosives that disappeared from Al-Qaqaa--not 380 tons.

Here's the story from ABC:

The information on which the Iraqi Science Ministry based an Oct. 10 memo in which it reported that 377 tons of RDX explosives were missing — presumably stolen due to a lack of security — was based on "declaration" from July 15, 2002. At that time, the Iraqis said there were 141 tons of RDX explosives at the facility.

But the confidential IAEA documents obtained by ABC News show that on Jan. 14, 2003, the agency's inspectors recorded that just over three tons of RDX were stored at the facility — a considerable discrepancy from what the Iraqis reported.

Let's see what figure John Kerry will be using as he continues to blame George Bush for losing weapons that Kerry has insisted didn't even exist in Iraq.

A desperate candidate collaborating with a desperate media in collusion with the foreign head of an international agency that wants to bring down this administration.

There had better be some severe punishments meted out.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Misfits lost in the dryer.

Courtesy of GetReligion:

Oh my.

Well, now we know what Steve Taylor's been up to.

"The Second Chance" may be the film Taylor hints at in this interview from July, 2003.

Those of you who are wondering what I've been doing for the last two years, I've been working almost exclusively, especially for the last nine months, on film projects. One of them sounds suspiciously like something you've heard before, but I really think this one is going to happen. We're supposed to start shooting in January. It's decent budget, $2.1 million dollars. The trick about movies, of course, is it takes so much money to make them. You can't go into your own studio and record something for $15,000, or something like that. You have to find people with money, and I'm not very good at that, as you know. But I think this one is going to happen.

You'll hear all about the project when it's announced, but that's supposed to be shot in January. Even these two concerts were a little bit awkward because movie people are used to hearing ideas from music people, but they just look at it as a hobby. I think they are inherently suspicious of music people wanting to get into movies. I've had to go out of my way to make sure that everybody knows I'm not doing music anymore, that this film pursuit is real, that that's what I'm doing with all my time. I've managed to burn most music bridges behind me and I'm sure I'll be going back to those people and saying, listen it was just a joke. I made a terrible mistake. So I've put everything on making this film happen. It it's any good, maybe I'll get to do another one, and it it's not, it'll be my fault because there is certainly enough money to make something decent. So that's my plans for the near future.

Go read. In the press conference he explains what happened with Squint Records and also talks about what happened to "St. Gimp."

Just in case I'm not the last person to see this.

Slap the Candidate.

(And this is one poll John Kerry is winning!)

There they go again.

I'd previously bemoaned the fact that there's little we can do to check the power of the lying mainstream news media. They've got enormous power to shape the state of the nation, and they cannot be voted out of office.

Now I'm outraged all over again.

Because I signed up to get a ticket to see John Edwards when he brought his slimy snake-oil medicine show to Our Fair City, I now receive e-mails from the Kerry/Edwards campaign.

Here's what I received yesterday from "Joe Lockhart":

This morning, The New York Times published a story that offers further proof of how the Bush administration's incompetence and arrogance has endangered the lives of our troops and the American people.

Even before invading Iraq, the Bush administration knew that a huge facility, called Al Qaqaa, contained nearly 380 tons of deadly explosives. Despite the fact that they knew exactly where this facility was and what was there, they took no action to secure or protect the site. Due to the stunning incompetence of the Bush administration and their incomprehensible failure to plan, these explosives have disappeared.

Let me put this in perspective -- the bomb that took down Pan Am Flight 103 over Scotland used less than one pound of this same explosive. There were 760,000 pounds at Al Qaqaa.

. . .

Our troops are the best-trained and best-led forces in the world, and they have been doing their job honorably and bravely. The problem is the commander in chief has not being doing his. George Bush refuses to recognize his failures in Iraq, so he can't fix them and is doomed to repeat them.

Thank you,

Joe Lockhart
Senior Advisor

The letter closes with a lengthy P.S. with the suggestion that you talk to your local media about this story and includes a series of questions aimed at the Bush administration.

And now we know that it's all another lie.

Go here, here, here, here, and/or here for details.

I'm not surprised to find CBS's dirty little fingers all over this either.

The big shocker--the one that should cause a major international incident, is the revelation that the NYTimes story could be based on a fraudulent letter from the IAEA and its Director General, Mohammed El Baradei, in order to bring down the President.

If this is true, . . . well, doesn't the IAEA have more important things to do than attempt to influence the US Presidential Elections?

So we've got foreign leaders of the International Atomic Energy Agency working with anti-Bush media in collaboration with the Kerry campaign to bring down President Bush and ensure a Kerry victory.

I would like to call this treason.

Last night I got a phone call from someone in Maryland who was calling Wisconsin voters on behalf of the Kerry campaign. Not exactly like UK citizens e-mailing Ohioans to vote for Kerry, but it bugged me nonetheless.

The pleasant-sounding voice on the other end of the phone said that John Kerry needs my help. I said "I'd like to help."

"You would?"

"Yes," I said, my temper rising, "I'd like to help him lose. I'd like to help him lose and lose big because John Kerry is one of the most dishonest men who ever ran for office, and the Democratic party is corrupt. I would love to see the Democratic Party cease to exist and be replaced by the Libertarians. (That's how annoyed I was!) If the Democratic Party dissolved tomorrow, I would be smiling!"

"You'd be the only one," said the voice.

"I don't think so!" I said, with barely constrained rage. "I hope you lose!" I repeated, and to cap it off I said "Stay in Maryland!" and I hung up.

Yeah, not my proudest moment.

In retrospect, I should have used the opportunity to question the caller about his support for John Kerry and see if I could turn him to the President. Not likely, but hey, if they're going to call me and talk politics, I might as well take advantage of the situation.

I'm sort of hoping someone calls again.

But back to the lying, scheming, traitorious mainstream news media.

What can we do about them? Something has to be done. I was between blogs when the CBS "Rathergate" scandal broke, but I was glad to see how bloggers were able to debunk the story less than a day after it aired.

But I'll ask it again: why does Dan Rather still have a job at CBS? I don't think anyone will ever face consequences for the fake memo story, and I don't think anyone will face consequences for this media-generated "October Surprise." The mainstream news media has too much power, and they're answerable to no one.

Glenn Reynolds discusses the future of the Blogosphere in this column and suggests that blogs will grow both more and less significant over the next few years.

They'll grow more significant because more people will be reading them, and -- at least as important -- more people will be writing them. That will expand their impact considerably. On the other hand, they'll grow less significant, in a way, because they'll grow more ordinary. Like other communications media, from newspapers to email, they'll just become part of the background, and their particular thread of impact will be less noticeable.

Is it possible that blogs have already peaked? That "memogate" was the apex of their influence, and it's all downhill from here?

Glenn closes on this note:

I think we're already beginning to see signs of that backlash, in the wake of the humiliation visited on Big Media by RatherGate -- and the press establishment's general lack of enthusiasm for free speech for others (as evidenced by its support for campaign finance "reform") suggests that it'll be happy to see alternative media muzzled. You want to keep this media revolution going? Be ready to fight for it.

In what way, I wonder.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Thoughts about yard signs

If you're looking for polling data, Polipundit is the blog for you.

While I'm encouraged that Bush continues to lead in the polls, I'm not encouraged by how narrow his lead is. That this country could possibly elect someone as sociopathic as John Kerry disturbs me. We have, in John Kerry, one of the most dishonest candidates in my lifetime; a man so consumed by his mad quest for power that he will literally say anything to get elected.

Take this for what it's worth. This past weekend we drove north. Once beyond the limits of Our Fair City, we saw only one Kerry/Edwards sign. (Well, two, actually, if you count the two toilets we saw along the side of the road labelled "Kerry" and "Edwards" with a big banner overhead that read "Flush the Johns!") This absence was most noticeable in yards that featured signs for Democratic Senator Feingold and Democratic Rep. David Obey, but had no Kerry/Edwards signs accompanying them. (Could it be that some of these rural democrats will support all their candidates except the two running for President?)

On the other hand, we saw plenty of signs (many hand-made, some very large) that supported President Bush.

I previously mentioned that I noticed the same absence of Kerry/Edwards signs on my journey to Lambeau Field earlier this month. The Democrats are counting on the support of the rural voters of Western Wisconsin to help carry this state, but once beyond the borders of this college town, the Kerry support (at least in terms of yard signs) seems to be rare.

That's all highly anecdotal, but may be an indicator that the President has more support in Wisconsin that the polls may show.

I've been afraid to put up a Bush/Cheney sign in my yard. I worry (and I believe rightly so) that it would make my home a target for vandalism, and I worry about the reaction from neighbors. Our closest neighbors, who we like a lot, have ties to the local university, and so I am assuming that they're Kerry supporters. Maybe this is a wrong assumption--we've never discussed politics with them--but I would hate to jeopardize our relationship with them over politics. I wouldn't think they'd be that petty anyway, but I've been surprised by the anti-Bush rage I've witnessed from otherwise level-headed people. So I've chosen to not put up any political signs.

Do yard signs have any effect? I doubt someone will decide a vote based on seeing a yard sign, but these campaign signs do have the effect of creating an atmosphere of support for a candidate. While that may never be enough to get someone to change a vote, it might be enough to energize someone who was thinking of skipping the vote into getting out to his polling place on election day.

There is one Kerry/Edwards sign on my block. There are no Bush/Cheney signs. If I put up a sign, will it create an atmosphere of support that might, in turn, cause a few more people to go to the polling place on election day to cast a vote for George Bush? Or would I end up causing a neighborhood rift? The Kerry/Edwards supporter on our block is a nice lady with two dogs. She's complimented our flower gardens. If I put up a Bush/Cheney sign will she send her dogs to dig up our garden?

There's only a week left, and I'm still undecided.

About yard signs, anyway.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Good News from Iraq

The peerless Arthur Chrenkoff posts the thirteenth of his "Good News from Iraq" round-ups. If this is your first time visiting Chrenkoff's page, check out the other 12 parts, as well as the "Good News from Afghanistan" reports.

WaPo's "Best Blogs" awards. Er, . . . yeah.

The Washington Post has announced the winners of the "2004 Best Blogs Readers' Choice Award," and all I can say is, their readers need to get out more. (Get online more? Okay, something like that.)

National Review gets 5 nods. Four for "The Corner" and one for the "Kerry Spot." But none are for poor page design, as one might think. I'm not sure what I think of blog awards going to a mainstream periodical. Somehow it doesn't seem right.

Lileks got nods for "Most Original" and "Best Rant," but once upon a time Lileks used to insist that his Bleat was not a Blog. I would tend to agree that there's a difference between a blog and an online journal. I used to have a Bleat-like journal, and it's a completely different sort of animal. (Lileks deserves some kind of recognition, to be sure.)

James doesn't seem to be doing "The Screed" anymore (I can't even find them on his site) but if you want rants, those are rants. The Bleat might occasionally get ranty, but if forced to package up the Bleat, I wouldn't put it in the "rant" drawer.

Meanwhile, Andrew Sullivan gets a nod for "Best Republican Party Coverage." Isn't that a bit like giving Hewitt the nod for "Best Democratic Party Coverage"?

Kos, Atrios, and Marshall get their nods, too, but not, as you'd expect, in the "nasty little vermin" category.

Instapundit probably deserves something like a "Lifetime Blogging Achievement" award, but he's saddled with "Most Likely to Last Beyond Election Day."

Of course Scrappleface is an American treasure! No complaints there.

But I think I'm going to have to come up with my own categories and awards. I think the WaPo readers who chose these winners have a very limited scope.

22 Questions for John Kerry. No Answers.

In this Washington Post piece, Bob Woodward outlines 22 questions he wanted to ask John Kerry.

On Sept. 1, Kerry began his intense criticism of Bush's decisions in the Iraq war, saying "I would've done almost everything differently." A few days later, I provided the Kerry campaign with a list of 22 possible questions based entirely on Bush's actions leading up to the war and how Kerry might have responded in the same situations. The senator and his campaign have since decided not to do the interview, though his advisers say Kerry would have strong and compelling answers.

Here are some samples:

2. The CIA was asked in late 2001 to do a "lessons learned" study of past covert operations in Iraq and concluded that the CIA alone could not overthrow Saddam Hussein and that a military operation would be required. The CIA soon became an advocate for military action.

Questions: How can such advocacy be avoided? The CIA argued that a two-track policy -- negotiations at the U.N. and covert action -- made their sources inside Iraq believe the United States was not serious about overthrowing Saddam. Can that be avoided? How can diplomacy and covert action be balanced?

3. In January 2002 President Bush gave his famous "axis of evil" speech singling out Iraq, Iran and North Korea as threats.

Questions: Was this speech too undiplomatic? How would a President Kerry frame the issues and relations with Iran and North Korea? Do you consider these two countries part of an axis of evil now?

Woodward sets up his questions in such a way that Kerry would have been afforded a great opportunity to level some serious criticism at the president. And yet Kerry declined to answer a single question. (Though his advisers assure us his answers would be "strong and compelling.")

Could it be that Kerry simply didn't have any answers? ("I have a plan" isn't a valid foreign policy.) Or that if he had done the interview it would have been abundantly clear that this little emperor has no clothes?

"Cut 'n' Run Kerry"

Hugh Hewitt points us to a transcript of this interview Katie Couric did with John Kerry. The following exchange is rather revealing.

Couric: The Bush campaign is planning to spend the final days of this election saying, "you are weak on terrorism." Dick Cheney has talked about the fact that you voted against the first Gulf War [and] Saddam Hussein would still be in power, he Soviet Union would still exist if it (laughter) were up to you. You voted against intelligence funding after the first world trade center attack in '93. You don't have the record to be a Commander-in-Chief and this weakness invites more terrorism.

Sen. Kerry: Now let me just look you and America in the eye and tell you this. Unlike Dick Cheney and George Bush, I put my life on my line for my country when it counted. I fought for this nation and I defended it as a young man and I will defend America as President of the United States.
There it is again. "Vote for me because I was in Vietnam!"

Also this from the same interview:

Couric: How important is capturing Osama bin Laden, especially given the fact that Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi is considered the most dangerous man in the world at this point in terms of killing Americans in Iraq? A story Sunday morning [reported] about 50 Iraqi soldiers were killed [and] he is taking responsibility.

Sen. Kerry: Osama bin Laden is the world's number one terrorist and criminal. He was allowed to escape and regroup and reorganize. He's now in 60 countries around the world and he is the beacon for Zarqawi and for others. This administration had a chance to capture and kill him and they made the wrong choices and allowed him to escape. I will do a better job of focusing on the real war on terror, which was not in Iraq. The priority is Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden and Zarqawi.

Note those last two sentences. The real war on terror was not in Iraq . . . and Zarqawi is a priority, and he's been in Iraq since before the war. So . . . er . . . I'm confused by the nuance here.

The interview also had this very telling statement from the Senator:
I believe I can get our troops back from Iraq in a way that does honor to their service.

What does he mean? Consider that John Kerry's template for everything is Vietnam. I don't know how anyone else took that, but the message seems clear: he's gonna cut and run. Only this time he's going to try to put a positive spin on retreat. It won't be John Kerry before Congress calling our soldiers mass murderers this time. Instead he'll say they're honorable for leaving. Sorry, Iraq! You're on your own! We're bravely leaving you to deal with the terrorists who don't want you to have a democracy.

I don't think John Kerry wants them to have a democracy either.

The Definition of Cruelty

Cruelty is when your wife brings home 5 bags of candy to pass out to the kids at Halloween, and then leaves them all unopened in plain view. We're talking little KitKats, mini-boxes of Milk Duds and M&Ms, peanut butter cups, and other chocolatey goodies. I can't snurch any of them without opening a package, which would, of course, blow my cover.

I tried convincing her that it would be okay to open the M&Ms because I didn't like them, but she didn't buy it.

The very definition of cruelty.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

A Little Visceral Bias Goes a Long Way

Rick's been talking a lot about the visceral bias of the mainstream news media. ("Visceral" meaning "instinctive" or a "gut feeling.") This would certainly explain why the media don't see themselves as biased, because their bias operates at a subconscious level. I'm reminded of something Kurt Vonnegut once wrote, that the trouble with stupid people is that they're too stupid to realize there's such a thing as being smart. For some in the mainstream news media, they are too biased to realize that they might be biased. (In fact, the only bias they seem aware of is conservative bias.)

While I think this is certainly true when we're talking about many who operate on the national level, the bias problem is exacerbated by another problem in small and medium-market news media

Consider the small and medium market newspapers. They don't generally have a very large writing staff and yet they still want to have national and international news on the front page. The solution, of course, is to use stories from the news services like the Associated Press.

Today, the "A" section of the daily newspaper in Our Fair City had 21 news stories. 17 of those were from wire services--16 from AP and one from Knight-Ridder. Only 4 were produced locally. The "B" section, or City/Region section, had 7 stories. Three of those were AP.

So even if the reporters who run our local newspaper aren't biased leftward, the newspaper will still largely reflect the biases of the wire services. Repeat this scenario for each small- to medium-market newspaper, and you see how the bias of one news organization like the Associated Press translates into the bias of the press at large.

This isn't just a problem in small and medium markets either. There are very few metropolitan dailies who have the staff to really cover national and international news, and few metropolitan dailies that have national distribution. So even large dailies rely heavily on wire services.

The same is true of local broadcast news. Most will attempt to fill the news hole with stories of local interest (or national stories with a local angle) and let the network news feed cover the national/international events. But there's still a large news hole to fill, and the fewer the local resources the more likely that the reporter will just "rip and read" straight from the news wires. Regionally this is particularly true of local stations' 10 pm newscasts which attempt to provide at least a small amount of national and international news.

To counter this, the local news reporters could attempt to verify the stories that come across the news wires, or at least read over them and if necessary reword them to remove bias. More likely, a result of laziness on the reporter's part, or due to the time constraints present in preparing a daily newscast, "rip and read" will be the order of the day.

It is because of this that even a small number of biased reporters at the Associated Press, can get their bias imposed on a national level.

"Good" Wars?

To all my vehemently anti-war pals, can we at least agree on one thing? Can we agree that war is bad?

Can we also agree that sometimes war is the lesser of two evils? That is to say, that sometimes it is necessary to go to war because to avoid that war would make things worse? And in that sense, that wars can also be "good"?

I can already see you trying to wiggle out of that one. Some of this makes me squirm, too.

After Sept. 11, 2001, I did a lot of thinking about the Christian tradition of the Just War. In his Summa Theologica, Thomas Aquinas addresses the issue of whether some kind of war is lawful. Ironically, or perhaps not, he writes about war in his section on charity. More on that later.

In addressing whether war can be considered lawful, Aquinas lists four objections to the idea.

In his first objection he says it would seem that it is always sinful to wage war. He reasons that punishment is not inflicted except for sin, and points out the punishment mentioned in Matthew 26:52. "All who draw the sword will die by the sword." Therefore, he reasons, all wars must be unlawful.

In his second objection, he notes that whatever is contrary to a divine precept is sin. He quotes Matthew 5:39 ("But I tell you, do not resist an evil person") and Romans 12:19 ("Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord.) By this, too, Aquinas reasons that war is always sinful.

His third objection to the idea that war can be lawful is to note that something that is contrary to a virtue is sin. Because war is contrary to peace, it is a sin.

His fourth objection seems tied to Aquinas' particular historical period and environment. He states that the exercise of a lawful thing is itself lawful, but notes that tournaments in which warlike exercises take place are forbidden by the church, "since those who are slain in these rituals are deprived of ecclesiastical burial." (I wasn't aware that the church would not grant ecclesiastical burial to those killed in such a tournament. You learn something new every day!)

Aquinas then notes a contradiction from a sermon by Augustine. Augustine points out that when some soldiers came to John the Baptist asking what they should do in repentance, John told them "Don't extort money and don't accuse people falsely--be content with your pay." (Luke 3:14) Augustine notes that John did not tell them to give up soldiering. "If the Christian Religion forbade war altogether, those who sought salutary advice in the Gospel would rather have been counselled to cast aside their arms, and to give up soldiering altogether."

Aquinas then concludes that in order for a war to be just an lawful, three things are necessary.

First, the authority of the sovereign by whose command the war is to be waged. For it is not the business of a private individual to declare war, because he can seek for redress of his rights from the tribunal of his superior. Moreover it is not the business of a private individual to summon together the people, which has to be done in wartime. And as the care of the common weal is committed to those who are in authority, it is their business to watch over the common weal of the city, kingdom or province subject to them. . . .

Secondly, a just cause is required, namely that those who are attacked, should be attacked because they deserve it on account of some fault. . . .

Thirdly, it is necessary that the belligerents should have a rightful intention, so that they intend the advancement of good, or the avoidance of evil.

In summary, in order for a war to be just, it must be waged by someone in authority, for a cause that is just, and with the intent to advance the good and/or avoid evil.

Aquinas then replies to the objections he raised earlier, noting that although it is important that we be ready to obey the commands to refrain from resistance or self-defense, "it is necessary sometimes for a man to act otherwise for the common good, or for the good of those with whom he is fighting." He also notes that "Those who wage war justly aim at peace, and so they are not opposed to peace, except to the evil peace."

When we consider our reasons for going to war in Afghanistan to remove the Taliban from power, and later in Iraq to remove Saddam Hussein, we must consider them as being done in opposition to an evil peace, and with the intent to advance the good.

The section from the Summa Theologica which adresses this question is short and can be found here for those interested in reading through it.

Again, note that the question of whether a war can be considered lawful is found in Aquiinas' section on charity--or love of one's neighbor.

Does Aquinas really see war as having anything to do with love?

This article by Darrell Cole was published in "First Things" in October, 2001, before a military response to the terrorist attacks of 9/11 had yet taken place. In it, Cole addresses the concept of the "good war," and the relationship between war and love. The article concludes:

The most noteworthy aspect of the moral approach to warfare in Aquinas and Calvin is that it teaches—contrary to today’s prevailing views—that a failure to engage in a just war is a failure of virtue, a failure to act well. An odd corollary of this conclusion is that it is a greater evil for Christians to fail to wage a just war than it is for unbelievers. When an unbeliever fails to go to war, the cause may be a lack of courage, prudence, or justice. He may be a coward or simply indifferent to evil. These are failures of natural moral virtue. When Christians (at least in the tradition of Aquinas and Calvin) fail to engage in just war, it may involve all of these natural failures as well, but it will also, and more significantly, involve a failure of charity. The Christian who fails to use force to aid his neighbor when prudence dictates that force is the best way to render that aid is an uncharitable Christian. Hence, Christians who willingly and knowingly refuse to engage in a just war do a vicious thing: they fail to show love toward their neighbor as well as toward God.

Viewing it like this, a Christian who is anti-war should consider whether his opposition to the war is simply because it is a war. Perhaps this is a paradox. I can agree with my anti-war friends that war is a bad thing--or at least a tragic thing. But for all the tragedy that occurs, I don't know if I can completely agree that war is never a good thing.

Am I wrong to conclude from this that sometimes war really is a "holy" thing?

Why does that idea frighten me?

Seeds sown, crop grown, . . .

One of the most disturbing things about this election cycle is the amount of hatred the left has whipped up against President Bush. The right wasn't too fond of Bill Clinton, but they are no match for the seething anger being directed against George Bush.

This editorial in the Guardian is a case in point. It's a typical hate-filled diatribe against President Bush, mocking him for his stupidity, and claiming that the whole world is banging its head against the floorboards screaming "Please God, not Bush!"

However, the rant ends with this alarming paragraph:

On November 2, the entire civilised world will be praying, praying Bush loses. And Sod's law dictates he'll probably win, thereby disproving the existence of God once and for all. The world will endure four more years of idiocy, arrogance and unwarranted bloodshed, with no benevolent deity to watch over and save us. John Wilkes Booth, Lee Harvey Oswald, John Hinckley Jr - where are you now that we need you?

Yep. You read it right. This scummy writer for the Guardian named Charlie Brooker is calling for Bush's assassination. In an earlier era, there should be consequences for allowing such careless words to be put into print. Consequences for both Charlie Brooker and the editors at the Guardian who allowed their scummy paper to print this call for assassination of a foreign leader.

But that kind of stuff is only published beyond these shores, right? Doesn't happen here? Right?

In August, Knopf decided to publish this book about a planned assassination of President Bush. When I first heard of the book, I thought it was probably only tangentially about an assassination. Certainly no one would try to publish--just prior to an election--a novel where the assassination of one of the candidates is the main point of the book.

I was wrong. Here's a portion of USA Today's review from early August this year.

If your blood boils every time you see the current resident of the White House on television or in print, and if the images from Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq trigger a demand for resignations at the highest levels of the military, then put Checkpoint at the top of your reading list. Otherwise, steer clear.

The 115-page novel details one afternoon in the lives of two middle-aged men who have been friends since high school. Ben has driven from his home to Washington, D.C., to see Jay after receiving a desperate phone call. Ben rightly fears that Jay's girlfriend has left him.

But Jay's political obsession overwhelms any personal woes. On the second page, Jay tells Ben he intends to assassinate the president. Jay's fury about Iraqi civilians dying has bubbled into madness.

Specifically, Jay obsesses about a story he read in the Sydney Morning Herald describing a tragic incident in which American soldiers at a checkpoint shot a car full of fleeing Iraqi civilians, including two girls and their grandfather.

Baker writes Checkpoint as if it is tape-recorded dialogue. It is less a novel and more of a passionate cry from the heart about American foreign policy that Baker clearly opposes. Jay believes that Bush has to be killed and the war stopped.

No Bush admirer, Ben argues that Vice President Cheney would be worse stepping in as head of state. . . .

Indeed, it appears that the whole book is a conversation about killing the president--one character convinced it must be done, the other--no Bush fan himself--trying to talk the first character out of it. And the conclusion, according to the review is "open to interpretation."

I have no interest in supporting the publisher or the author by purchasing this book, but I'd like a chance to read it myself to see what is meant by "open to interpretation." Because it doesn't sound as if morality wins out over murderousness.

But here's the line from the review that I found really chilling:

Baker makes you feel as if you are indeed inside the mind of a potential assassin. Whether you want to go there is your choice.
We know that many are willing to go there--are in fact already there, their hatred whipped up by the lunatic left and their DNC enablers. This book will put these already hate-filled readers "inside the mind of a potential assassin." Lovely.

Okay, imagine this scenario. An unbalanced individual--say Michael Moore--reads this book, and already convinced that George Bush is a bad guy is convinced by the narrative that Bush must be assassinated. So he does it.

Should Nicholson Baker be considered an accomplice? Should Knopf be held liable as well? How about Charlie Brooker and the Guardian? The anti-Bush climate in this country is at a point where it's not such a stretch to imagine there will probably be an assassination attempt--not by al Qaeda or a crazed Guardian writer, but by an American citizen gone round the bend, encouraged by the seeds of hatred planted by the American left.

And what might happen if he succeeds? Think this country is divided

UPDATE: Chumley Wonderbar at Plastic Hallway says:

Here's a call to action. Start sending your opinion immediately to the editorial staff of the Guardian Unlimited. Here's the email address: . . .

Good idea.

UPDATE II: Powerline reports that the original editorial has been taken down, and the following statement put in its place:

The final sentence of a column in The Guide on Saturday caused offence to some readers. The Guardian associates itself with the following statement from the writer.

"Charlie Brooker apologises for any offence caused by his comments relating to President Bush in his TV column, Screen Burn. The views expressed in this column are not those of the Guardian. Although flippant and tasteless, his closing comments were intended as an ironic joke, not as a call to action - an intention he believed regular readers of his humorous column would understand. He deplores violence of any kind."

How tone deaf is Brooker (and by extension, the Guardian) if they had to have the offensiveness of that piece pointed out by "some readers." And am I the only one who sees a slight insult in the notion that "he believed regular readers . . . would understand"?

I'm not buying it. This is one of those conditional "I apologize
if you were offended" apologies, and not an acknowledgment that the offense was there even if no one wrote to point it out.

The entire column has been saved here. Judge for yourself.

Friday, October 22, 2004


I had a brief fantasy that the more John Kerry tours Wisconsin, the more opportunity there is for him to make a fatal mispronunciation of one of our strangely-named cities, towns, and villages. Then I realized that many of them are French, and Monsieur le Senatoire would likely impress the locals around Lac Vieux Desert or Lac Court Oreilles.

Still, there's always a chance that the Senator might stop in Prairie Du Chien, which the locals do not pronounce the French way. ("What does he mean? 'Prairie du Sh'yeah'?")

No Corner on the "Truth"

Say what you want about the Swift Boat Vets for Truth, but thanks to them, an entire "for truth " industry has sprung up seemingly overnight.


Thursday, October 21, 2004

Thursday Night Lite

I'd hoped to write a bit more this evening, but spent far too long fussing with Eudora and my internet provider. I'd created a new e-mail account that I wanted to dedicate to correspondence relating to this blog, but for some strange reason Eudora 5 (OS X) will not retrieve it, while Eudora 6 (OS 9) will. But both versions of the software use the same settings.

Not only that, but Eudora 5 has no trouble retrieving mail at other e-mail addresses on the same account. So there is simply no logical reason I can't get it to work. Though I can switch back and forth between OS X and OS 9, I'd much rather stay in OS X for blogging.

Messing around with that took far too much time. Then, on Thursday nights we watch my sister-in-law's baby for a few hours while she's at her night class. We, of course, have a baby of our own. Both babies are ten months old, having been born only six days apart. Both are very active right now, wanting to crawl into, over, and through everything. Both start to crash and get whiny at about the same time. This gives us a small taste of what it must be like to have twins.

So how about a brief roundup of recent stuff I would have commented on if I'd had the time:

Frank is ready for the election to be over.

Michelle gets ornery about the Peacenik Photoapologies for Iraq.

Aaron writes about forced community service, which is a subject I want to touch on also, given John Kerry's secret plan mandating it. Aaron! Write more!

Matt brings up the subject of Crunchy Conservatism--another topic I want to examine more fully, connecting it to the post-Boomer/pre-Gen-Xer generation, of which I am a part.

Hunterbyrd tracks down the piece I heard Rush Limbaugh read yesterday. I rarely listen to Limbaugh, but happened to tune him in while driving home for lunch, and caught a small portion of the show where he was reading this ad copy. Quite good!

Share and enjoy!

I Heart George Bush

Rick Brady at Stones Cry Out stayed up late last night writing a love letter to the President. In doing so, he reminds us all why George Bush will be remembered as one of this nation's greatest presidents, and why he must be reelected.

Excellent, Rick. I've got that funny feeling in my sinuses again.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Getting 'Lost'

Is anyone else watching the show "Lost" on ABC?

I think I've figured out what's going on in this show. I don't know for certain, but I had my suspicions after last week's episode, and tonight's episode goes a bit further toward confirming it. Without saying too much, here's a hint: what if, instead of an airplane, all these passengers were in a bus?

The First Lady Factor

After reading this piece by Michelle Malkin, I was almost ready to feel sorry for Teresa Heinz-Kerry.

But I got over it.

My first impressions of Teresa Heinz-Kerry were formed when I read this, an account of a Kerry/MoveOn House Party from the official John Kerry blog. (What? An official connection between MoveOn and John Kerry? It can't be.)

When Teresa Heinz-Kerry arrived, she handed me a pin that read in the center: “Asses of Evil” with “Bush”, “Cheney”, “Rumsfeld” and “Ashcroft” surrounding it. She met, greeted and talked to a jam-packed room of Kerry supporters and others who came for the MoveOn documentary. Many were curious, others undecided, or belonging to other candidate camps.

Teresa talked about her life as the daughter of a physician in Africa, about life during a repressive regime, to life inside Washington DC, and a brief intimate glimpse into her courtship with John. She told a rapt crowd about . . .

. . . blah blah blah. The rest isn't important, except for the bit about how they sold “Condoleezza Rice Crispies Bars” and “No Child Left Behind Chocolate Chip Cookies” to raise money. Is it just me or is there something subtlely racist about that?

Since I first read that piece, Teresa Heinz-Kerry has seemingly done everything possible to convince me that she lacks class. Telling a reporter to "Shove it" and saying that Bush supporters want "four more years of hell" only further demonstrated just how different Ms. Heinz-Kerry is from Laura Bush.

Today's USA Today had articles featuring both Teresa Heinz-Kerry and Laura Bush, and the blogosphere is abuzz with Teresa's comment that she didn't know if Laura Bush ever had a "real job." I guess I glossed over that. What really caught my eye was the accompanying poll that showed favorable/unfavorable ratings for the two women.

40% of those polled viewed Teresa favorably, while 34% viewed her unfavorably. But 74% viewed Laura Bush favorably compared to onlly 16% who viewed her unfavorably. USA Today's conclusion is that the public favors a "traditional non-working first lady."

Or maybe it has nothing to do with whether Laura is "traditional." Could it be that Teresa's behavior during this campaign has simply turned people off? And that in comparison with Teresa (and probably the public's memories of Hillary Clinton as first lady) Laura Bush gets very high marks for having class?

Teresa has apologized for her remarks, and Laura Bush, classy as always, says she wasn't offended by the initial remark.

But in a race this close (or so they say) the public's perceptions of the candidates' wives may be a major factor. (Consider also the effect Elizabeth Edwards' remarks about Lynne Cheney's relationship with her daughter may have on the vote.)

When George Bush wins on November 2nd, he should know that his wife contributed greatly to that victory.

In fact, I'm sure he knows.

Authenticity at last!

Lorie Byrd at PoliPundit says, "If the Bush campaign is smart, which I know it is, they will be repeating this quote for the next 13 days."

Go and read. This is what John Kerry says when he's not running for President, and in that sense probably one of the most authentic things he's said.

A Fanboy Moment

During my lunch hour today I stopped by the business expo put on by the Chamber of Commerce in Our Fair City. Local businesses had booths set up, and I thought maybe I might make a few contacts for my freelance page composition business. I didn't. However, I did get the chance to do something I've been meaning to do all year.

The National Guard had a booth there. Before I could talk myself out of it, I stepped up to the table and shook the hands of the two soldiers manning the booth. "Thank you," I said. "Thank you for your service to this country."

I've been wanting to do that every time I see someone in uniform, but my natural midwestern desire to not draw attention to myself usually prevents it. I have no idea what they thought. I don't know if they get that all the time, or if they never get that at all. But I felt it had to be done.

It was kind of corny, and I felt a bit like a geeky fanboy. There was a brief moment of somewhat uncomfortable silence, and then one of the soldiers said "Do you want to enter the drawing for a $50 Menards Gift Card?"

So I did.

Ahem. Who among us does not love good satire?

M@ at Manifest Content imagines what a John Kerry stump speech might sound like if he actually ran on his unimpressive Senate record.

My faith carried me through a war, but my deeds have carried me through the Congress. I have passed 11 bills in the Senate, and one or two have even been signed in to law by a president. Also I claim 24 resolutions that don't carry the force of law, but which I assure you were forceful resolutions that carry the force of the heart and soul of this country, such as S.Res.123: To change the name of the Committee on Small Business to the "Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship. And then there was S.Res.216: Honoring Milton D. Stewart for his leadership and service at the Small Business Administration. Ahem. They won't tell you, but I will.

Read the whole thing. Share and enjoy.

Waiting for Osama

Every time John Kerry claims that President Bush let Osama bin Laden get away or erred by taking the focus off bin Laden by going to war in Iraq, I have to choke back the rising bile.

I'm pretty sure Osama is dead. Gregory Djerejian explains the logic behind this conclusion.

Folks, bottom line: we have to go all the way back to December 26th 2001 to see a video of UBL that really seems to get close to passing a smell test evidencing that's he actually, you know, alive (and he didn't look too smashing in it either).

Now, does anyone seriously believe that UBL wouldn't, if he were alive, be doing his very damnedest to release a tape, soonest, rubbing Bush's nose in it for not having caught him--dead or alive? Just as a little pre-election present, say, maybe to give the opposition a little assist in hyping the disingenous Tora Bora meme? Doubtless, he would, no? Unless, of course, he's dead. Which, I'm beginning to feel pretty comfortable concluding, may well be the happy reality as we sit here today.

One might wonder why the President doesn't use this logic to answer John Kerry's charge that Osama got away. I read a response similar to the following somewhere in the blogosphere, and can't for the life of me remember where. But the answer is this: the President has a war to fight. Should he declare Osama dead, he would create a thousand martyrs eager to destroy the Great American Satan in the name of the glorious martyr of their cause. But if he pretends Osama is still alive, then Waiting for Godot is replayed thousands of times as al-Qaeda operatives grow increasingly impatient for a word from their leader. Only slowly, and gradually will they come to the unsettling conclusion that Osama's rotting corpse is lying in a collapsed cave in Afghanistan. Not very glorious at all.

John Kerry, on the other hand, doesn't have to worry about fighting a war. He'll say anything, regardless of how it might affect this war. He'll even stoop to insulting our allies. What does he care? He doesn't have to work with them. (And if we get out the vote, he never will.)

What about Kerry's charge that the war in Iraq was wrong because it took the focus off the true sources of terror: Osama bin Laden and the Taliban? If Mr. Kerry thinks that terrorism begins and ends with Osama, or that terrorists were only to be found in Afghanistan, Mr. Kerry is far too stupid to be allowed the keys to the White House.

UPDATE: I remembered where I'd read it.

[T]he President knows that making UBL a martyr would serve to further inspire his minions, and he realizes that preventing this from happening is more important than his re-election. Instead, UBL remains forever silent even as his recruits yearn to hear his voice. Eventually these cultists will realize themselves that UBL went out like a punk, not a martyr and that the AQ head shed has been lying to them for years. That realization combined with US combat boots knocking their teeth down their throats will go a long way to beating this cult into submission. But it is important to recognize that the President's committment to killing terrorists supercedes his committment to his own re-election. I'm sure he hopes that the American people will come to this conclusion on their own and vote for him anyway, but it is quite a risk to take in the ultimate ME situation.

This kind of integrity and committment stands in stark contrast to his opponent. Kerry has proved to be a Blue Falcon, a traitor, a louse, a shameless opportunist, and an lazy bureaucrat that pads his resume. Kerry is a smart guy too, and he realizes what is going on. But it hasn't stopped him from trying to bait the President into abandoning a critical propaganda victory in the GWOT by incessantly peddling his Tora Bora "outsourcing" charge in all three debates. He knows that the President will not respond to this charge so he is free to make it. Just like the Cheney lesbian scheme, this is a coordinated hatchet job, but this is on an issue that Kerry knows the President must choose to either defend the SOF troops that got the job done or remain silent. To his personal credit he never took the bait, but to his professional detriment he must let an unanswered charge linger.

Go read the whole post.

Thanks guys!

The most daunting thing about diving into the blogosphere (or doing a cannonball, pick your favorite metaphor) is that everything online moves so fast that, as the old saying goes, "the hurrieder I go, the behinder I get."

I've quickly developed the habit of sending myself a brief e-mail from work with a short phrase or a few sentences describing what I want to blog about when I get home. Except for the DNC-SPAM I got today from Bill Clinton (which seems to crash Eudora when I open it) everything else in my in-box was from me. I sent myself fifteen notes--all different subjects to write about. Add this to the three I never got to yesterday. Forget trying to keep up with the rest of the blogosphere--I can't even keep up with myself!

Before I go any further, though, I must send a sincere thanks to Rick Brady at Stones Cry Out for plugging Darn Floor and blogrolling me, which has resulted in Darn Floor being plugged and blogrolled elsewhere. Thanks also to Dan at County Trunk T and Hunterbyrd. And thanks also to anyone else who's been directing traffic my way, but whom I haven't discovered yet. I assume this is all because I submitted an entry to Hugh Hewitt's last symposium, so a great big thanks to Hugh as well. It's all a bit humbling.

When I created this blog, I put a bunch of links on the side to the blogs I read most often, but I see I may have to give the blogroll a major overhaul, because in the last few days I've discovered a number of new-to-me blogs that I think are worth mentioning.

I thought I'd take my time and ease into the blogosphere, but already I find myself wanting to add Sitemeter and some kind of trackback function. If someone wants to send me a note, patiently explaining with great detail how I add Sitemeter to this blog, I would sure appreciate it.

Anyway, thanks guys. And thanks to everyone else who's stopped by. I'm humbled that anyone would find what I have to say worth their time to read.

Guys, I only started this blog last FRIDAY!

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

New Swift Vets ads

Click here to see the two new ads from the Swift Vets and POWs for Truth.

The first one, called "They Serve," provides a powerful image of a group of men who cannot be so easily dismissed (as the mainstream news media would like to do).

However, the ad begins and ends with rather vague statements, and I can see how a hypothetical voter who does not know who the Swift Boat Vets for Truth are (that is to say, someone who probably should stay home on election day), might think these are John Kerry's "Band of Brothers" who support him.

The ad begins:

They served their country with courage and distinction. They’re the men who served with John Kerry in Vietnam. They’re his entire chain of command, most of the officers in Kerry’s unit. Even the gunner from his own boat.

It ends:

Today they are teachers, farmers, businessman, ministers, and community leaders. And of course, fathers and grandfathers. With nothing to gain for themselves, except the satisfaction that comes with telling the truth, they have come forward to talk about the John Kerry they know. Because to them honesty and character still matters. . . especially in a time of war.

However, the main point of the ad is one brief statement buried in the middle. I actually had to run the ad twice in order to catch it:

They’re the men who spent years in North Vietnamese prison camps. Tortured for refusing to confess what John Kerry accused them of . . . of being war criminals.

It's a great-looking ad, but it may be their weakest, simply because the charge against Kerry is muffled by statements that could conceivably have come from a John Kerry ad.

On the other hand, the second ad, entitled "Why," is very good and gave me that funny feeling in my sinuses that I get when I am deeply moved.

Were I the kind of man who spends hours fussing with his hair or getting a manicure, I might have broken down sobbing uncontrollably.

Don't Stop Thinkin' About Tomorrow!

Stephen Green at Vodkapundit links to this article at NewsMax, calling it "the first salvo in the 2008 Democratic primary race."

Go. Read. Put a smile on your face.

The widely shared theory of this election cycle is that the Clinton cronies of the Democratic Party don't want John Kerry to win so that Hillary can run in 2008. That group would include people like DNC Chair Terry McAuliffe, the detestable James Carville, and a host of others who are now working for the Kerry campaign.

Every time I consider the ineptness of the Kerry campaign, I wonder whether someone isn't trying to destroy it from the inside. Someone convinced John Kerry that constantly talking about Vietnam would work to his advantage. Someone helped write his terrible "Reporting for Duty" convention speech. Someone convinced him to adopt all the moonbat rhetoric of the lunatic left. Someone suggested that the way to win is to start being nastier, maybe even drag Dick Cheney's daughter into the debate.

Defying conventional wisdom, someone convinced him that choosing John Edwards as a running mate would add some weight to the ticket.

Unbelieveably, someone suggested that he throw around a football while photographers snap pictures at nearly every campaign stop because it would make him look like a regular guy.

When Joe Lieberman sounds like a Bush supporter while stumping for Kerry; when Bill Clinton praises President Bush, John McCain, and Kerry's former opponent, William Weld, and is all but absent on the campaign trail this year, . . .

. . . well, you just have to wonder if there might be something to that crazy theory about Democrats deciding long ago to throw this one and set up Hillary for a run in 2008.