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August 31, 2004

Another brief vacation interruption...

...just to say, "Amen, Rudy, amen."

I don't believe we're right about everything and Democrats are wrong about everything. Neither party has a monopoly on virtue. But I do believe that there are times in our history when our ideas are more necessary and important for what we are facing.

August 27, 2004

We interrupt this summer hiatus...

...not to say anything really important, so much as to make sure all the moving parts are still working.

Meanwhile, you may want to check out Deserters for Truth. I guess to complete the analogy, the Bush campaign and the RNC should sue them to make them stop. Or better yet, send Bob Dole limping on a crutch out to one of Kerry's summer homes to "deliver a letter."

Yeah, that should do it.

All right, back to the woods! See y'all around Labor Day!

August 14, 2004

Summer break

I'm going to be taking off for the next three weeks to focus on some fiction writing projects (stop that laughing!). I'll be spending most of that time in the piney woods of Pennsylvania, with little or no access to the internet. Blogging during this time will be light to nonexistent.

This will, of course, necessitate my missing the thrill and non-stop excitement of the Republican convention, but some sacrifices do have to be made.

It's probably good time for a break anyway. When I come back, around Labor Day weekend, the campaign season will begin in earnest. We'll finally have to start taking those polls seriously!

But I'll be tanned, rested, and ready (well maybe rested, at least), and I hope you'll be back here with me.

By the way, spammers, for some reason, like to post ads for penis enlargement products and Viagra (tm) in the comments section of this blog. You might see some of these appear in my absence, since I won't be around to keep them pruned out. Do not be alarmed. (Oh, and let me know if those "enlargement" techniques actually work, should you be tempted to experiment).

Have a happy remaining summer, and I'll look forward to talking with you again soon.

Worst. Movie. Ever.

Vote early, vote often. Slashdot asks "what's the worst movie you've ever seen?"

I'm tempted to say Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, but that'd just be too easy. For my "official" vote, I'm going with a more recent vintage, higher budget film: Portrait of a Lady. Pee-yoo! Even an Ed Wood movie is sporadically entertaining, even if only for how bad it is. PoaL, however, is solidly, unrelentingly boring from the first frame to the last -- the longest 2 and a half hours of my life.

August 13, 2004

More thoughts on Julia Child

You know, I'll really miss her. I watched her on TV as a little kid (God knows why). When I was really young, I got things real confused and actually thought she was on "Sesame Street." Maybe I thought she was some crazy muppet or something. Much easier to imagine if you close your eyes and just listen....

UPDATE: Thanks for the sanity check, guys. Several people have e-mailed and commented to let me know that I was probably not hallucinating when I saw Julia Child on Sesame Street. I think my young mind established a stronger link there than was warranted, however.

Iran loses. Hate wins.

Iranians lose a medal because they don't want to touch an Israeli. Can you believe that? You train and train every day of your life for four years, and then just give up, because you're picked to compete against an Israeli? And it's judo, for the love of God! How often will this guy get such a golden opportunity to beat up on a Jew with no consequences? He must have been afraid he'd lose. Disgusting, whatever the reason.

One of Iran's best hopes for an Olympic medal will not be taking part in the Games after he refused to compete against an Israeli athlete.

Kerry's true act of heroism

I learned about this first from Glenn's site. It's an account of how John Kerry saved the life of his colleague, Senator Chic Hecht, when he was choking on a piece of apple.

Like Glenn, I applaud Kerry's genuine act of heroism.

But you know what makes it even more special for me? The fact the Kerry didn't use it as a centerpiece for his campaign. That Kerry didn't approach the podium at the Democratic convention performing a mock Heimlich maneuver with his hands. That Kerry doesn't carry Hecht's semi-digested apple chunk in a hidden compartment in his briefcase. That Kerry doesn't travel from campaign stop to campaign stop with his "band of Heimlich maneuver brothers."

Thank you, Senator Kerry, for not cheapening a simple act of heroism in this way.

Worth a thousand words

This photo from France, our more "enlightened" ally across the Atlantic, forces me to ask: why exactly was Sharon so terrible to suggest that French Jews might consider emigrating to Israel? Oh, and please spare me that "few bad apples" excuse. A "few bad apples" did not send Jean-Marie Le Pen into a run-off election:

Ted Rall, party crasher?

from his blog:

Anyone with a spare media pass to the RNC? If so, please email me at chet@rall.com.

Get ready for those 72 virgins, Muqi-boy!

Shiite Leader Al-Sadr Wounded

Shiite rebel leader and cleric Muqtada al-Sadr was wounded Friday in a battle with U.S. and Iraqi forces.

That's according to spokesmen for al-Sadr, who deny knowing whether the Iraqi rebel leader is holed up - along with his followers - in the Najaf compound housing the Imam Ali shrine. Al-Sadr has led an uprising against coalition troops for more than a week in the city, vowing to fight "until the last drop of my blood has been spilled."

Al-Sadr was injured as he was met with members of his Mahdi Army militia, near the Imam Ali shrine on Friday morning, said Haider al-Tousi, an al-Sadr aide.

He was hit with shrapnel in the chest and twice in a leg, al-Tousi said.

No shit!

A real economic genius, this one....

Kerry: High Oil Prices Bad for Economy

This is sad

She was ageless, wasn't she?

Julia Child, the grande dame of U.S. television cooking shows and books, has died at age 91, her publisher said on Friday.

Alfred A. Knopf said in a statement she died in her sleep on Thursday at her Santa Barbara, California, home.

August 12, 2004

Back to business

All right, enough of that. Let's stop pretending to be surprised that Jim McGreevey is gay, and return to matters that actually might matter a damn for a moment.

There's a new Bush ad campaign in the pipes, and it's got some people upset. It seems he's invoking (surprise!) imagery of 9/11 in a new spot entitled "Solemn Duty."

Kerry's people are in a snit, you see, because it's completely inappropriate for a Bush ad to reference the one issue where Bush maintains a political advantage over his opponent. It would be so much more appropriate if he would just campaign exclusively on issues that are clear winners for the Democrats. Wouldn't that be nice?

So far, all is normal. The Bush campaign is behaving politically, and the Kerry campaign is shocked, shocked to find politics going on in an election season. Team Kerry accuses Bush of "desperation," and having "lost credibility."

But now get a load of this comment:

"He can't speak to a single issue voters care about: not jobs, not health care, not deficits," said Chad Clanton, a Kerry campaign spokesman.

Sweet, sufferin' Jesus, did he just say that? The implication could not be clearer: the American people don't care about terrorism. They don't care about 9/11, and they don't care about the war against those who would destroy us.

Obviously, I don't believe that's the case. But I do believe the Kerry team believes it, and that's frightening. I think there's a bit of projection going on here.

It is precisely this attitude that gives so many of us qualms about Kerry's fitness to lead. No matter how they try to cover it up and paper it over with cheesy salutes, fawning Swift boat veterans, "Apocalypse Now" yarns, and magic CIA hats, this attitude seeps around the edges, and the voting public sees it.

It is this attitude which has made a real horse race out of an election that, in peacetime, would be a rout.

WTF?! (in New Jersey)

After going through all that trouble to get elected? Governor McGreevey's resigning already?

He was my governor for what, like, 5 minutes?

Since when does a politician resign just because he's unpopular? Does he know that some kind of major shit is about to hit the fan, and he's pre-empting it? Or am I just being too cynical?

Well anyway, it's refreshing, I guess. With any luck, he'll start a trend!

McGreevey, a former prosecutor, came into office vowing to end corruption, but in recent months a number of his political aides and fundraisers have been accused of corruption ranging from alleged payoffs to hiring a prostitute.

McGreevey has not been accused of any wrongdoing, and has denied any wrongdoing in the past.

Should McGreevey indeed leave office, his successor under the state constitution would be Richard Codey, the current president of the state senate.

UPDATE: Well that didn't take long:

Gov. McGreevey will hold a news conference at 4 p.m., where he is expected to discuss sexual harassment allegations made by his former aide, Golan Cipel.

UPDATE: All right, so he's gay. Not exactly the shock of the century there, Jim.

Okay, I guess this is worth posting

Wreckage from an alien craft has reportedly been found in Siberia. (Incidentally, my friend Roger tipped me off to this. It did not come from Drudge, and is therefore true.)

As a scientist (and earlier, as a young boy interested in science), I had always been fascinated by accounts of the Tunguska blast. It was interesting to watch the "accepted" explanations evolve over time: antimatter, miniature black hole, meteorite... and now this:

Russian scientists claim the wreck of an alien device has been found at the site of an unexplained explosion in Siberia almost 100 years ago.

Interfax news agency said the scientists, who belong to the Tunguska space phenomenon public state fund, said they found the remains of an extra-terrestrial device that allegedly crashed near the Tunguska river in Siberia in 1908.

They also claim to have discovered a 50 kg rock which they have sent to the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk for analysis.

The Tunguska blast, in a desolate part of Siberia, remains one of the 20th century's biggest scientific mysteries.

On June 30, 1908, what was widely believed to be a meteorite exploded a few kilometres above the Tunguska river, in a blast that was felt hundreds of kilometres away and devastated over 2,000 square kilometres of Siberian forest.

But the exact nature of the body that exploded and its origin remain a mystery which has spurred countless theories and controversies.

Stem cell slander

I've been harping on this issue for some time now, so I'm glad that the major media is finally beginning to climb on board (this piece from today's Wall Street Journal, for example). Regular readers know that I believe Bush's stem cell policy is too restrictive, and my own views on the matter are closer to Kerry's.

Nonetheless, the Bush policy has been egregiously misrepresented by his opponents. Whether we agree with it or not, we should not allow the current debate to be characterized by lies and half-truths.

Given the tone of coverage, the average person could be forgiven for believing that Bush "banned" stem cell research. He did nothing of the kind. He limited federal funding for embryonic stem cell research to existing stem cell lines. This means:

  1. Federal funds are allowed for existing ESC lines.
  2. State governments and private corporations may invest in ESC research all they wish.
  3. Federal funding for adult stem cell research in unrestricted.
  4. Bush increased funding for all stem cell research, even that involving embryonic cells (see chart below).

That's hardly tantamount to a "ban".

Robert Goldberg, director of the Manhattan Institute's Center for Medical Progress, sounded a similar note yesterday. He rightly points out that there is a lot more happening in the science of biomedicine and biotech than simply stem cells, and makes a compelling case that a Bush administration provides a climate much more conducive to medical breakthroughs than would a Kerry administration.

Disagree with Bush all you want on stem cells. I do. But don't lie about what he's doing to bolster your case.

Damned if you do, f*cked it you don't

Lefty site misleader.org is outraged that the Bush administration seemingly leaked the name of a recently apprehended terrorist, purportedly allowing others of his ilk time to escape the dragnet.

Now before I say anything else, let me be clear that this is a major cock-up on the part of the administration, whether due to incompetence or poor judgment (I believe it to be the latter, and I'll explain why).

I'm not excusing what the administration did, but the president's critics on the left are hardly blameless in this regard. When Homeland Security recently raised the terrorist alert based on "three-year-old" intelligence, the tin-foil-hat left was apoplectic. There were shrill charges of crass, cynical manipulation of the nation's security apparatus, and hysterical recriminations that the warnings were "politically timed." Precisely what they were "timed" for was a bit unclear, the Democratic Convention having already been safely packed up and put to bed.

The administration, besieged, responded improperly by coughing up Khan's name. That was a stupid move, and they shouldn't have done it, and I hope they learned their lesson. Still, the Randi Rhodes left is hardly blameless in the matter.

August 10, 2004

More DU reaction...

...to Kerry's reiteration of support for the war:

Or, we could vote for Bush, and push HIM to the left. Hell, at least if Shrub is reelected, he'll take all the blame for Iraq, rather than letting Kerry horn in on it.

I am sick of reading how he was "deceived" into voting for the war resolution. Well Kerry himself has laid that ridiculous bullshit to rest.

What Is Wrong With Us? Clinton was bombing Iraq! And is Kerry supposed to act like he was deceived?

Screw Bush, Screw Kerry and Screw the corporate entities that control them

on our paper ballots, we have the choice to vote a "write-in". I used that choice in our primary, (since the nominee was already selected by the time we had our primary) and I will use it in November.

I may just sit this one out as well. I agree with freemarketer...marching in every single demo against this stupid stupid war would almost be hypocritical if i voted for a pro-war candidate.

As much as I hate Bush, this response by Kerry may cause be to simply not vote.

Then I don't stand by Kerry.

I cannot in good conscious vote for this man.

Now who can I vote for, I will surely be voting against BUSH/KERRY KERRY/BUSH ?

It makes it hard to vote for him. His problem is that he's all over the place on this issue.

Sadly Dem's can be as stupid as freepers in their blind allegiance.

We can now safely ignore Sudan

It's not "genocide" after all! The European Union says so (emphasis mine)!

Sudan massacres are not genocide, says EU

The EU said yesterday there was widespread violence in the Darfur region of Sudan but the killings were not genocidal, a potentially crucial distinction which underlined its reluctance to intervene.

"We are not in the situation of genocide there," Pieter Feith, an adviser to the EU's foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, said in Brussels after returning from a fact-finding visit to Sudan.

I think that little phrase in italics pretty much says it all. If you define the problem away, then you don't have to do anything about it. Yay! Now we can go back to smoking cigarettes, drinking espresso and condemning the U.S. for being unilateral, and still get home before lunch!

And these are the people we're supposed to give veto power over our right to self-defense? Riiiiiiiiiiiight!

Quote of the day...

...comes from my fellow Carolinian Michael Graham:

I'm sorry, but John Kerry complaining that people are talking about his Vietnam record is like Pamela Anderson complaining that men keep looking at her breasts.

August 09, 2004

More on Plame/Novak

I'd like to all the lefties out their howling for Bob Novak to cough up his source for the Plame leak whether they're truly comfortable with this:

A reporter is being held in contempt of court and faces possible jail time, and another was earlier threatened by a federal judge with the same fate, after they refused to answer questions from a special prosecutor investigating whether administration officials illegally disclosed the name of a covert CIA officer last year.

Before you answer, think about Watergate. How likely would we have been to find out about Nixon's criminality at the time, had Deep Throat not felt safe in talking to Bernstein and Woodward? A journalist's right (obligation, in fact) not to give up a confidential source is one of the most fundamental and cherished tenants of a free press in this country, and not something to be taken lightly.

Kerry seems to have lost a few votes...

...over at the Democratic Underground, after stating that he would have voted to authorize the Iraq war even had he known Iraq possessed no WMDs. Here's a sampling:

I'm with you -- this may be the proverbial straw. I have been precinct walking for this man and I just raised several thousand dollars to help my club open an office to get out the vote. But to be honest, I don't know if I can take any more. He has the perfect out -- he could have easily taken the reasonable position taken by other senators that had they known what they know now they would not have voted for the war -- but NO -- he has to mimic the Chimp and say he would still vote for the war. He might be better than Bush, but he seems to be narrowing the gap every day. He clearly has decided that he doesn't need my vote or my work.

is dis a joke?
I thought we was against the stupid war.

of course I'm not going to vote for him. I will not vote for a pro-war candidate, especially a pro-preemptive-illegal-imperialist-PNAC-war candidate!

I will not vote for John Kerry either.

Iraq is the central theater in the PNAC war on democracy. Knowing that, Kerry would still vote for it. Not much more to say after that.

How can anyone say, knowing their were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, we should have gone to war to get rid of them anyway? I can understand this shit coming from Bush. He's an idiot. I don't like it coming from Kerry. It's confusing bullshit, playing to a bunch of right wing war mongers. for what? Because Saddam was a bad man?

It's bullshit and I'm not going to pretend it isn't.

As much as I hate Bush, this response by Kerry may cause be to simply not vote.... Super big mistake by Kerry.

And then there's this guy. He makes a good point, I think:

Can we learn anything from this? You anti-war Democratic activists should have woken up at latest when Kerry made his anti-democratic anti-Venezuela remarks, find out what is going on, and organized to kick out Kerry's PNAC foreign policy team OR ELSE and force Kerry to be YOUR President instead of PNAC president.

But blinded by one-dimension ABB mentality you rallied behind Kerry in the name of unity, the classical left sell-out pretext, and now it is too late, once again. Better luck next time, keep up the good fight!

More Kerry campaign pics

"That's right, three Purple Hearts. Ya hear that? THREE!"

Black people need to learn their place!...

...and it ain't in the Republican Party!

At least that's what Ted Rall thinks. I know it's saying a lot, but I think the following phrase from his blog may just be the most patently offensive thing he's ever written (emphasis mine):

Alan Keyes, Fascist [subtlety never was his strong point -- BNJ]

So "black Republican" (if there's anything sillier than that oxymoron, I have yet to hear it) Alan Keyes is running for Senate.

Get it? Your political philosophy is determined by the amount of melanin in your skin. Who knew?

It's offensive enough to suggest that economic status should determine party affiliation (you've probably heard some variant of this too: "Why do all those moronic lower-income people in the red states continue to vote against their own economic interests?"). This, however, is beyond the pale.

Kerry's plan vs. reality

It's a lot easier (and more fun!) to criticize the job someone else is doing than to do a better job yourself. So far, the closest thing Kerry has offered to an Iraq policy is a vague promise to broaden international participation in the occupation, allowing our troops to shoulder a lighter burden. There's just one eensy problem:

Allies Not in Formation on Kerry's Troops Plan

By Paul Richter and Maria L. La Ganga, Times Staff Writers

WASHINGTON -- Democratic presidential candidate John F. Kerry has staked much of his campaign on a proposal he hopes will convince voters that he can extricate the United States from Iraq more quickly and at less cost than President Bush.

But Kerry's plan, which promises to effectively shift much of the Iraq war burden from America to its allies, so far is failing to receive the international support the proposal must have to succeed.

Kerry in recent appearances and interviews has been intensifying his effort to spotlight what he sees as the Bush administration's mistakes in Iraq -- especially the failure to broaden international involvement -- as a fundamental difference between the two candidates. But Kerry's proposals depend on changing the minds of foreign leaders who do not want to defy their electorates by sending forces into what many consider to be a U.S.-made mess.

"I understand why John Kerry is making proposals of this kind, but there is a lack of realism in them," Menzies Campbell, a British lawmaker who is a spokesman on defense issues for the Liberal Democratic Party, said in a typical comment.

Many allied countries may welcome a new team in Washington after years of friction with the Bush administration. But foreign leaders are making it clear they don't want to add enough of their own troops to allow U.S. forces to scale back to a minority share in Iraq, as Kerry has proposed.

August 07, 2004

Mullholland Drive explained

I've been mulling this film over for more than two years now, and I'm on the verge of figuring out some serious shit! There's a lot of subtle stuff there, and it takes a keen eye and a sharp mind, but if you're careful, you can really pick up on some stuff (for example, I'm pretty sure those two chicks are lesbians).

Anyway, I just added the movie to my Netflix queue, so I'm gonna give it another spin sometime soon. I'm confident that one more viewing will be sufficient for me to blow the lid off this case, so keep an eye on this space for a serious exegetical posting sometime in the near future.

August 06, 2004

This is the end, beautiful friend...

"The horror.... the horror...."

[Hat tip: Jim Henley]

"Is Jefferson City ready to ROCK?!"

Okay, does this guy actually try to get the most moronic pictures possible taken of himself?

Gaffes of the day

While this boner by the president was widely reported in the media yesterday, the following gem by Kerry almost escaped my notice (emphasis mine):

"I believe I can fight a more effective, more thoughtful, more strategic, more proactive, more sensitive war on terror...."

Yeah, that's the way to close the gap on the terror issue, buddy!

Jesus Christ.

Hell, at least the Bush quote was an honest gaffe. What terrifies me is that Kerry presumably delivered his text exactly as it was prepared.

Do you see now why hawkish libertarians like myself cannot vote for this guy?

"Stop, or we'll sue!"

Par for the course.

Whether you agree with John McCain about the Swift Boat ads or not, you have to question whether lawyering is the appropriate response.

I guess it's the one we should expect from Kerry-Edwards. Still, can you imagine the hue and cry that would ensue if the Republicans had resorted to legal threats to impede the distribution of Michael Moore's libelous stew of half-truths and misleading innuendo?

Well I can imagine it. And it ain't pretty.

August 05, 2004

"Holy fricken Swift Boat, Batman!"

At the time of this writing, the trash-Kerry book Unfit for Command is number one in Amazon's sales rank, and it hasn't even published yet.

Number. Fucking. One.

I won't be reading this one, for a couple of reasons. First, there's simply no need. All the salient points will have been excerpted and commented on before the book is even shipped to the retailers. It's already begun, in fact.

Second, sometimes (often?) you can judge a book by looking at its cover. It's the same kind of cheap, hackish, political muckraking that's polluted the non-fiction bestseller tables of our major book chains for too long now.

Still, I don't want to hear any liberal whinin' about it. If this book upsets you, just walk into your nearest B&N and pick up a copy of "Bush is a Moron" or "Bush is a Liar" or "Bush is a Loathsome Dictator" or "Bush Murders Puppies", or any number of similar readily-available offerings, and I'm sure it'll make you feel better.

August 04, 2004

Now THIS could turn me into a Democrat!

Dammit, we were this close [holding fingers very close together] to seeing some serious Sharon Stone/Halle Berry tongue hockey, but we have been DENIED!

Sharon Stone blames US President George W Bush for the absence of a lesbian kissing scene in Catwoman - because of the current conservative climate in America.
Stone says: "Halle's so beautiful and I wanted to kiss her. I said, 'How can you have us in the movie and not have us kiss? That's such a waste.'

"That's what you get for having George Bush as president."

Now I'm not convinced this is Bush's fault yet, but it's somebody's fault, dammit, and I want them to pay!

Fear mongering for fun and profit

Ted Kennedy would have us believe "the only thing we have to fear is four more years of George Bush.'' If that's true, senator, then why was that dopey kid playing "Amazing Grace" on the fiddle at your convention?

It's a recurring theme: the Democrats accusing Bush and the Republicans of cynically manipulating our fears for political reasons. It's ironic, though, because I watched maybe a third of the Democratic convention, but it was enough to be exposed to a veritable litany of fear mongering -- four more years of George W. Bush will result in

  1. loss of reproductive freedom
  2. turning the clock back on civil rights (whatever the hell that means)
  3. losing our jobs
  4. having our jobs exported to Bangalore
  5. having John Ashcroft revoke our few meager civil liberties that remain intact after the Patriot Act
  6. dirty air
  7. dirty water
  8. unaffordable health care
  9. shitty education for our children
  10. and yes, last but not least, we will be less safe from terrorists. Exploiting terror fears is not unique to Republicans, you see.

Now look, there's nothing new here. Appealing to our basest instincts may not be the highest or noblest path a politician can take, but it's been a fact of life in American politics since time immemorial. Politicians exploit our fears. The difference is that it's fine for Democrats to do it with their strong-suit issues (health care, education, and the environment), but, God forbid, if Republicans do likewise with their one remaining strong suit (national security), it's sinister and evil.

I'm writing about this because yesterday I faced another broadside from my liberal New York friends (redundant?) about how Homeland Security's recent terror warnings were politically motivated and timed, since it was based, in part, on three-year-old intelligence.

Frankly, the timing angle is a bit hard for me to figure out. Had it happened during the convention, I could understand. Perhaps if Kerry had emerged from the convention with a significant bounce in the polls that the White House wanted to deflate, I could sort of understand. But what do they think Bush was trying to accomplish, exactly?

Moreover, it's far from clear to me that the elevated threat level helps Bush. In fact, just Monday I wrote how the liberals in my life were gleefully pointing to the threat level as evidence of Bush policies' failure. Three years after 9/11, and New York area residents are still having their commutes interrupted by paramilitary troops with machine guns. If it's truly a political ploy to boost Bush's standings in the polls, I submit that it's a very risky one, and one that could easily backfire.

But, of course, I don't really believe that's the case. The incompetence and tone-deafness the administration exhibited in handling the announcement did nothing but provide fodder for the conspiracy theorists, but I think the timing of the announcement had much more to do with the expected date of the attacks than with the timestamp on the underlying intelligence.

The reports I've read indicate that the attacks were planned for early September, two months before the election. Now would seem a reasonable time to start ramping up security. Moreover, it's becoming increasingly clear that the alert was triggered by much more than merely some three-year-old data (emphasis mine).

Some of the surveillance files that triggered the nation's latest terrorism alert were reviewed and updated by Al Qaeda just months ago and dovetail with other, fresh intelligence that indicates the terrorism network remains intent on launching a major U.S. attack during the presidential election campaign, U.S. authorities said Monday.
But several senior U.S. counterterrorism officials said that the surveillance, obtained in Pakistan and reviewed late last week by authorities in Washington, came amid a continuing stream of intelligence corroborating Al Qaeda's determination to launch strikes in the U.S.

In a similar vein, here is this from the New York Times:

The officials said the separate stream of intelligence, which they had not previously disclosed, reached the White House only late last week and was part of a flow that the officials said had prompted them to act urgently in the last few days.
In addition to the surveillance activity, detailed in reports uncovered late last week from computer disks in Pakistan, a senior intelligence official said that "very current and recent activity on the part of Al Qaeda'' has left little doubt that "Al Qaeda is moving toward the execution stage of attacks here in the homeland.''

The administration's bungling of the release (particularly Tom Ridge's shameful politicking on Monday) was unfortunate, but it seems the charges that this alert is politically motivated are unfounded.

I understand why the Democrats are sensitive about this issue, though. It's because the public still trusts Republicans more than Democrats when it comes to protecting our borders. If the Democrats truly wanted to neutralize the terror issue as a political weapon, they could begin by doing a little soul-searching and ask themselves why that should be the case.

August 03, 2004

How did I miss this?

"I'm John Kerry and I'm reporting for duty."

All right, I know I've been living under a rock lately, but really. Granted, I didn't watch Kerry's speech, but I read the transcript and I read all the commentary and analysis afterwards, and I even saw the dorky photo:

but how did I go for four days without knowing its context?

"I'm John Kerry and I'm reporting for duty."

Jesus H., you've got to be kidding me.

Here's what I don't understand. I'm guessing that by the time a major party candidate delivers his acceptance speech at his party's convention, said speech has been perused with a fine-tooth comb, and signed off on by dozens of people, easily. Didn't even one of his advisors, speech writers, or consultants pause to say, "Um, Senator, about this 'reporting for duty' opener? Well, you might want to give that some more thought, sir." But then, given that the line in question was absent from the transcript I read, there is always the (horrifying) possibility that it was ad-libbed. Can you imagine the cringes and the groans among Kerry staffers?

And here's something else I've only recently learned: John Kerry's entire tour of duty in Vietnam comprised four months. Where the hell have I been living lately? What kind of blogger am I that I don't know these things?

Now let's see, that works out to, what, one purple heart every 5 weeks or so? Damn, he got them more frequently than I get haircuts.

So that's it, then? His whole career, his entire campaign,his 60-year biography boils down to a mere 16 weeks? We're certainly expected to ignore the years immediately following his military service, in which he slandered and libeled his "band of brothers" as savage brutes and war criminals.

We are similarly asked to ignore his 20-year senate career, in which he seemingly sponsored not a single piece of legislation, but rather sat quietly in the backbenches, voting against defense spending and weapons systems.

That's fine as far as it goes, but we're now asked to elect him commander-in-chief based solely on a 120-day period more than 35 years ago, in which he got his purple heart ticket punched faster than I can earn a free cup of coffee at Chock full o' Nuts?

I'm beginning to sense many Democrats truly believe that Kerry has broad support among the military, based solely on his personal record. How else do you explain stories like this one? It just goes to show how tone deaf this campaign still is on issues of defense and national security. On the bright side, they may not object to military absentee ballots being counted in Florida this year.

Look, I appreciate Kerry's military service, even if it was shorter than a baseball season. He's got to learn, however, that it's going to take more than that to win the White House. It didn't work for Bob Dole, it didn't work for Max Cleland, and it won't work for John Kerry either.

Can someone please explain...

...why we're still talking about this? I may not be president of TeRAYsa's fan club, but the fact that she stood up to an annoying reporter goes in the "credits" column of my TeRAYsa ledger, meager though said column may be.

Teresa Heinz Kerry's "shove it" phrase to a Pittsburgh editor was the most cited Kerry campaign message in the press last week -- mentioned 381 times in American publications, according to Factiva, a Dow Jones/Reuters company that tracks daily press mentions.

But the two words also brought death threats, insults and accusations upon Colin McNickle, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review editorial-page editor who vexed Mrs. Kerry by asking her to explain her claim that "un-American traits" were emerging in politics.

August 02, 2004

Kerry and terror

Here in New York (although I should probably start saying "the Greater New York City metropolitan area"), there's obviously been a lot of talk about recent terror warnings concerning financial targets.

What wasn't so obvious to me is the level of taunting this would inspire amongst some of my Democratic friends. By lunchtime Monday morning, I'd heard no less than three different variations on the following theme (always with the same smug shit-eating grin): "So, tell me again why Chimpy has made us safer? Hmm? Wanna explain me that one again? So much for our big 'wartime' crotch-stuffin' flightsuit hero, hmm?"

Then there are the predictable accusations that the whole alert is nothing more than an election year publicity stunt, to steal the spotlight away from the Democrats. Why the threat level was elevated after the Democratic Convention, however, is not explained.

In fact, given some recent post-convention polling numbers I've seen, the Democrats should be thankful as few people paid attention as did.

But the timing doesn't really matter in the end, does it? Any significant announcement that occurs anytime between now and November, be it a high-profile capture or killing (good news) or an elevated threat level (bad news), will be tarred with the same brush: cynical and crassly partisan political manipulation by the Rove machine.

Of course there's no way the Bush crowd can win with these people. Should they announce a terror warning? If they do, they're fearmongering to rig the election. If they don't, and, God forbid, something happens, they're "asleep at the wheel", or have failed to "connect the dots".

But it begs the question, why do these people feel the need to come to me with their grousing? Granted, I'm probably the closest thing many of them know to a Bush supporter, lukewarm though my support may be. For whatever reason, they see the current threat level as indicative of a systematic failure of Bush policy, and they see Kerry as the obvious beneficiary of said failure. Chimpy has not "kept us safe", so let's bring in Captain Botox and his Swiftboat Buddies to save the day.

There's a problem with this reasoning, however, and it's ironic that I'm forced to explain it to the party of "nuance," but here goes:

We never claimed to be "safe." Pace Wesley Clarke, no one can guarantee to keep us safe, be it Bush, Kerry, or any other candidate for the job. If you believe that Kerry will make us safer than Bush, then by all means, vote for him.

You must understand, however, that there are still many of us who, whatever our misgivings about Bush, harbor very real concerns about Kerry's leadership during a time of war.

Among other things, we are concerned that

  1. Kerry would be too deferential to the UNSC to fight effectively in America's best interest.

  2. Kerry places a higher premium on being liked by France than being feared by Muslim extremists.

  3. Kerry would strike an essentially defensive posture in the War on Terror (from his speech at tht Democratic Convention): "Any attack will be met with a swift and certain response." That doesn't exactly put us on the offensive. Hell, he even phrased the sentence in passive voice.

  4. Kerry would be too cautious in acting militarily to defend our interests. (Again, from his speech): "You will never be asked to fight a war without a plan to win the peace." That pretty much rules out every war we've ever fought, doesn't it? What was the "plan for peace" when we entered WWII, for example? He also said, "And as President, I will bring back this nation's time-honored tradition: the United States of America never goes to war because we want to, we only go to war because we have to." I wonder then how he justified his votes in support of Bosnia, then? Or Kosovo? Or Somalia? Or, for that matter, Iraq?

I've said it for a long, long time, but I'll say it again: Bush is vulnerable. His one remaining ace is that, despite his unpopularity, many people still feel more comfortable with him at the helm of our terror policy than Kerry. Kerry had a chance to overcome Bush's advantage during his convention speech. He failed.

No More IRS?

As reported on The Drudge Report, Denny Hastert has said in his new book that he will push for the replacement of the Federal Income Tax with a national sales or value added tax.

An interesting idea, for sure. But what are the implications? For certain, under such an arrangement the rich will likely pay less and the poor will definitely end up paying more than they are now. Alhough I assume that the sales tax on items like food will be at a much lower rate than a boat or a Ferrari. The end effect on the middle class is not so clear.

Personally, I would like to see Mr. Hastert spend his political capital pushing for less government and a cut in spending.

Welcome back, Zeyad!

One of my favorite Iraqi bloggers is back. It's great to see him again, as I was beginning to worry. Most of you are probably already familiar with his site, but those who aren't should check it out. He's also posted an extensive list of other Iraqi bloggers who are newer to the scene.