Friday, April 30, 2004

If Bush had just "shaken the tree" more everything would have been fine. After all, that's how the Clinton administration caught the millennium bomber, right?

Not really. The alert never reached the customs agents. The arresting agent thought that the suspect was too nervous and had him open his trunk. She first assumed that the bags of white powder were drugs. It was only later that they looked closer and realized that it was explosive.

This story does not mention it but a customs agent shook bottle that later turned out to be filled with nitroglycerine.

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Anti-Jewish sentiment is growing world-wide, especially in France.

This is happening at the same time that anti-US feelings are growing in the same countries. Are the two related?

The New Republic has a piece on Kerry's unwinnable position on Iraq

But Iraq isn't a normal issue; there is no opposite approach (or, at least, no responsible opposite approach).

Now, why is Bush rightt about the occupation?

The big lesson from Viet Nam is that unwinnable wars are bad. We could not invade North Viet Nam and the VCs were being supplied from outside by an other superpower (Russia).

That's the real lesson. The accepted wisdom lesson is that America went soft after WWII and Korea and is no longer willing to accept casualties.

Desert Storm proved that we were still strong but it was over so fast that casualties were not an issue.

Somalia was different. Our presence in Somalia was an afterthought by Bush (41) on his way out the door. He gave a quick explanation about needing to make sure that food shipments went through and left it to Clinton.

Clinton had real problems with the military, Somalia, and foreign affairs. His statements about hating the military had come out during the campaign and promises about gays in the military made relations between him and the Pentagon frosty. Clinton took office promising to fix the economy and, according to Woodward's book, hoping to ignore foreign affairs for the first several months.

The forces in Somalia suffered mission creep. "Nation building" was added to the lexicon. Then came the incident from "Blackhawk Down." In reality, the Army won that one, fighting their way through hundreds of opponents. That wasn't what made the news, though. What made the news was the image of American dead being burned and dragged through the streets.

Clinton turned the operation over to the UN and slipped out of Somalia. He took six months to do it but the impression was that the turn-over was much faster.

According to some experts, Al Qaida was part of the ambush and this encouraged them. One push and the Americans left. Osama Bin laden became convinced that this proved that America was hollow. That one strong blow and we would fold.

The insurgents in Iraq are hoping for the same thing. They hope that all they have to do is keep pushing and we will cut and run.

Since the overthrow of Saddam, sales of satellite dishes in Iraq has skyrocketed. Every time Ted Kennedy goes on the air saying that Iraq has become an other Viet Nam, militants in Iraq see it and tell their followers, "It's working, kill more Americans."

If we pull out now we will be suffering for it for a generation or more. Kerry knows this and that is why he does not advocate a pullout.

What if we turn things over the the UN and apologies to the world leaders? This is Kerry's plan and it is full of holes.

First - who says the UN wants it? Some countries like Spain might send a few troops if Iraq was under UN control but the US would still be doing the heavy lifting.

Second - why would things be better under the UN? The idea that a new government would have more legitimacy is silly. Do you really think that the Sunni in Falluja are shooting at us because they question the legitimacy of a US-created government? No, they want to take Saddam's place. The same is true for Moqtada Al Sadr who wants a theocracy run by Shiites.

If we take Kerry's route, no American President will be willing to use the military except as directed by the UN. That is not a good thing. None of Clinton's military actions were authorized by the UN (Somalia does not count - it was Bush (41)'s). More importantly, actions such as genocide in Rwanda were also ignored by the UN.

Seems outsourcing isn't such a great thing for everyone.

But others haven't learned yet

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

What Kerry did with his medals is the story that won't go away.

Here's one, and another, and another, and a final one from Australia

Kerry is trying to defend himself by questioning, once again, Bush's time in the Guard. Will it work? Probably not. This will be the third time Bush has been attacked about his time in the Guard.

The issue is really how it reflects on character. We already know Bush and how he reacts as a war president. Looking at his record from 30 years ago will not give us any new insights.

Kerry is an unknown. He has never been a leader, not in the way that a president or governor is, so we are still looking at his character.

The issue is not his service in Viet Nam, it is his later actions. Was he such a hypocrite in the 1970s that he would make a show of throwing away someone else's medals? Even if he did throw away someone else's medals, shouldn't he have kept his mouth shut about it later?

This dove-tails into the flip-flopping charges.

Clinton set the bar pretty low for Viet Nam service. He outright dodged the draft. If Clinton was qualified to be president then someone who was in the National Guard is. And Clinton beat two WWII heroes (Bush-41 and Dole).

Being a Viet Nam veteran does not give the political boost that a WWII vet gets. Kerry himself is partly responsible for this. I was 18 when Viet Nam ended (I had registered for the draft but did not have to worry about it until I was 19). My image of Viet Nam veterans is colored by people like Kerry saying that everyone there committed atrocities. The movies that came out in the 1980s didn't help any. After this media assault on Nam vets, it is surprising that Kerry *can* run on his service record.

Here's an anti_bush columnist who makes many of the same point that I do about Kerry's Iraq policy.

Here is an example of an anti-war columnist who is upset with Kerry

Some other time I will go into why Bush and Kerry are right about Iraq.

I asked if anyone had solid numbers on the Pro-Choice March. AlterNet is reporting over a million. ABC said 10s of thousands. Molly Ivins, also posting on AlterNet, was there and admits that no one really has any idea. I tend to go with the ABC figures.

I think that abortion should stay legal but it makes me uncomfortable. I am in good company, polls show that this puts me with the majority of Americans.

The pro-choice people make me uncomfortable, also. This is mainly because they are not really pro-choice, they are pro-abortion. To them there is no choice. If a woman has any doubts about carrying the child to full-term or is in certain socio-economic situations then she should have an abortion. Period.

Here is an example of what I mean. In the 1980s the Ohio State University put out a woman's calendar that included information about having an abortion. One of the groups listed was actually an anti-abortion group whose purpose was to talk women into having the child.

Women's groups were outraged. Editorials and letters to the editor flew. It quickly became obvious that, to these people, a pregnant college student should always have an abortion and anyone she called for advise should tell her this.

I accept that statistically a college-age, unwed mother will probably have to wait a decade or more to get her degree and might have to give up her career of choice. I also accept that some but not all women who made this sacrifice think that it was worth it.

The thing is, this is a personal choice. Our hypothetical woman should be able to hear more than one point of view. After all, a choice implies two or more options.

Both sides of the abortion debate tend to sentimentalize their point of view to the exclusion of all else. To the anti-abortion side, it is a baby no matter how microscopic. To the pro-abortion side, a fetus has no more meaning than a cyst until it is born when it magically turns into a child.

BTW, Kerry claimed that "Roe v. Wade is hanging by a one-vote majority." This is out-of-date since Justice Bryon White was replaced by Ruth Ginsburg. The court is currently 6-3 in favor of Roe.

Monday, April 26, 2004

A long one today.

The Washington Post asks if Kerry's service record helps him or hurts him. They never really answer the question, they just summarize his record.

Just to help them out, I will answer it for them - up until not it has helped him but it's importance will diminish as November approaches.

To explain, Kerry's primary campaign can be boiled down to three statements, "I served in Viet Nam", "Wouldn't you love to see me debate Bush?", "Bring it on!". Every ad began with either shots of him in Viet Nam (TV) or voice-overs of people who served under him (radio). It was the main thing that people knew about him and it was what distinguished him from the other candidates.

But the primaries are over and by now everyone knows that Kerry is a vet. He has gotten as much mileage from this as he is going to. He will have to come up with something new in order to win against Bush.

Ironically, Kerry's service record might have helped him more if it had not been for his own anti-war statements. These came back to haunt him on "Meet the Press". They played a clip of him saying that everyone in Nam including himself had committed atrocities. What atrocities had he committed. He had to dis-own that statement. He didn't really mean it and it is his biggest regret in life that he used that word.

Probably no one will call him on that statement but it becomes more of the flip-flop pattern. What he said in 1971 when he was just back from Viet Nam is not what he says in 2004 when he is running for President.

Is it fair to judge Kerry for things he said in 1971? Yes. If Kerry can tout his military service from the 1960s then he can be called on statements he made about it in 1971.

Related Item: Kerry Defensive about War Medals

In the 1970s he appeared to throw away his medals. Now he says he kept them but threw away his ribbons plus some other people's medals.

It makes it hard to run on your record when you spent an earlier decade running against it.

This is an interesting quote from the weekend's abortion rights march.

“This administration is filled with people who disparage sexual harassment laws, who claim the pay gap between women and men is phony ... who consider Roe v. Wade the worst abomination of constitutional law in our history,” said Democratic Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York, referring to the 1973 Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion.

Senator Clinton thinks that the current administration disparages sexual harassment laws. This is from the former first enabler? Senator, it is sexual harassment to greet an employee with your pants down or to expect an intern to sneak in and give you oral sex. You of all people have no standing to complain about other administrations.

BTW, news reports said that the organizers hopes for 800,000 protesters. No news reports gave a headcount but some reports reported the goal as the actual number.

In a posting about the Left vs. Bush I pointed out the Left's complaints about Saudi Arabia. I neglected to mention the reasoning that most of the 9/11 hijackers were Saudi ex-patriots so we should have invaded their country. Since there is no evidence that the hijackers acted with the Saudi's knowledge or approval, this argument falls flat.

For a view on what *is* wrong with the Saudis, see

Still, turning a blind eye to terrorism committed by your people is different from offering cash rewards to terrorists' families.

Polls show Bush up. Why would this happen after a week of bad news from the 9/11 commission followed by a major escalation in the war?

I think that several factors are at work here. Some are obvious. Some have to do with directly Bush. I will go over the Kerry factors first.

The primaries are over. For a few months Kerry was in the news nightly. Now he has to work to get in the news. His campaign is releasing daily stories but none of them are getting any traction. He got some press when he announced his new "Misery Index" but the index itself got almost no coverage. This is probably because he had to cook his figures so much that no one could stomach them (How's that metaphor?)

During the primaries, everyone was so fixated on defeating Bush that none of the candidates attacked each other. Kerry emerged the nominee without being seasoned. He was still pretty much an unknown, especially in the states that had not held a primary before Edwards dropped out. Now Kerry is being "defined" by Bush.

Everyone always knew that Bush would be at his strongest as a war president. Kerry has no real Iraq strategy. He wants to send in more troops in order to stabilize the country then convince the UN to take over the whole mess. He hopes that the UN will replace US troops with UN troops or that US soldiers wearing blue helmets will no longer be targets. None of this is likely and it alienates the anti-war voters.

Kerry's plan was to run on the economy but the economy is doing well enough that Kerry has had to invent a new Misery Index. Employment is closing in on five percent and inflation continues to be low.

So, those are Kerry's problems. What is Bush doing right?

Bush's campaign has begun. After months of anti-Bush advertising, there are some pro-Bush ads competing with them.

Iraq is probably the biggest factor. Bush bet his presidency on Iraq and it could still drag him down but that is not happening yet. Instead of troops being ambushed, they now have an enemy to shoot at. I think that America feels ok about the war as long as the troops get to fight back.

Clarke's testimony at the 9/11 hearings made Bush look bad but other testimony made him look good, or at least engaged. The whole thing is a wash with enough blame for everyone, but it put Bush back in the news. In a campaign, neutral coverage is better than no coverage.

All of that leaves Kerry with major problems. Typically a candidate running against an incumbent peaks during the primaries when he is a fresh face. If the incumbent is vulnerable then the electorate is often willing to settle for anyone else.

That lasts until they take a close look at the challenger. Ross Perot beat both Bush (41) and Clinton in polls takes right after he announced his candidacy. The idea of a businessman taking over the government and running it like a business sounded good. Then they got a look at Perot and his number dropped.

Kerry is an uninspiring candidate who won the primaries mainly because he was seen to have fewer faults than his competition. He is counting on the "anyone but Bush" vote to push him over the top but he has yet to offer a compelling alternative. While there is still an energized "defeat Bush" crowd, it is questionable if they are enough to elect a candidate. Kerry will have to get traction on some issue if he wants to go any higher in the poles.

This is a tough order. Good thing for Kerry that he has months left to think of something.

Does the press have a conservative bias? Eric Alterman thinks so.

Let's look at some of his complaints.

"When President Bush delivered a routine stump speech to a group of New Mexico homeowners on March 26, CNN and Fox News each carried his appearance for 35 minutes, and MSNBC for 33 minutes. Meanwhile, "when John Kerry gave what was billed as a major address on national security at George Washington University on March 17, he was knocked off the screen by a large explosion in Baghdad. CNN and Fox each dropped Kerry (who had been reduced to small box) after three minutes, and MSNBC never picked him up."

Were any explosions going on during Bush's stump speech? Candidate's speeches are news filler - something you put on when nothing interesting is happening. No bias here, just bad kuck for Kerry that something interesting happened during his speech.

Alterman keeps a scorecard for the rest of his column.

Number of times in which Russert asked Bush or Kerry to make an impossible prediction? Kerry 1, Bush 0. Number of times Russert tried to put guest in impossible position, based on actions of his opponent: Kerry 2, Bush 0.

You judge an incumbent on his record and a challenger by his intentions. The questions, how many troops do you see in Iraq in a year, and could you accept a Shiite theocracy are valid. Bush was asked about things he did, Kerry about things he would do.

Number of times Russert asked guest to defend statements he made over 30 years ago: Kerry 2, Bush 0.

Things that Kerry did and said 30 years ago are coming up as campaign issues. This was Kerry's chance to disavow them. Anything that is a campaign issue should be fair game.

Number of times Russert plays the other candidate's campaign commercials attacking the interviewee played on the air: Kerry 1, Bush 0

People are seeing the campaign commercials anyway. Again, here is Kerry's chance to reply to them. This looks like a plus for Kerry instead of a negative.

Number of times Russert asks questions designed to alienate a crucial ethnic bloc: Kerry 1, Bush 0. (RUSSERT: Why not lift the embargo and overthrow Castro...)

Kerry made this one an issue himself when he misrepresented his voting record on Cuba. It turned out that he had voted for a bill before he voted against it. Here was a chance to clarify his position.

Number of times Russert casts aspersions on one candidate's military record asked without noting that the other candidate managed to avoid military service, despite his cushy national guard post: Kerry 1, Bush 0

Bush spent much of February having to prove that he had reported for duty. By the time Russert interviewed him it was a dead issue. Kerry ran on his record and questions about his record are current news. That makes it fair game.

Number of times Russert attempts to equate service in Vietnam with cushy national guard services that was not even completed: Kerry 1, Bush 0. (RUSSERT: In order to deal with those kinds of issues, when I asked President Bush about his service in the Texas Guard, he agreed to release all his military records, health records, everything. Would you agree to release all your military records?)

See above.

So this is Alterman's proof of a right-leaning media - a bunch of whining because Kerry was asked about intentions and about current issues in his campaign.

In Alterman'defensece, I should admit that Russert is undoubtedly to the right of Alterman, but then, so was Karl Marx.

Sunday, April 25, 2004

The election heated up early so a lot of my entries between now and November will probably be election-oriented.

Why does the Left hate Bush? This is discussed on FrontPage Magazine

There are some points that should be addressed.

1) The Left didn't start hating Bush until the run-up to the Iraq war.
This is not ancient history. Have people already forgotten the 2000 election? Celebrities were saying that they would move to France rather than live in a country with Bush as President. Starting before the inauguration I started seeing "Fear Bush" posters stuck to flat surfaces. I never saw anything like either of these under Clinton who the Right hated or under Reagan who the Left disposed.

Much of this was toned down after Sept. 11 and it did not really re-surface until January, 2003.

2) Bush's religion has nothing to do with it.
This should be so ridiculous that it does not merit comment, however it is repeated a couple of times. Bush is a devout Christian (capitol "C"). This makes small "c" christians nervous to say nothing of atheists,Jews, Moslems, etc. The Left is largely agnostic. Look at Howard Dean who confused the New and Old testaments and whose wife and children are Jewish.

Personally, religious people make me nervous, also but I judge them on what they do about it. Faith-based charities do not bother me and Bush has done little else that seems to have originated with his religion.

3) The House of Saud.
I see this mentioned a lot - Bush attacked Saddam Hussein while the House of Saud is worse. Saddam attacked neighbors twice, attempted genocide against two minorities in Iraq (Kurds and Marsh Arabs), used chemical weapons, and offered cash to the family of suicide bombers. Has the House of Saud done any of this? Should we have invaded them instead?

A related note - if the invasion of Iraq is supposed to inspire rage from the Arab Street then what would the invasion of the Moslem holy lands do? Remember, the presence of US military bases in Saudi Arabia was enough to inspire Osama Bin laden to declare jihad.

None of these reasons really stand up unless you assume ulterior motives for everything Bush does. I will discuss this in a future entry as well and the results of Bush hatred. The bottom line though is that the Bush haters hate him personally, not his policies nor his actions.

For other thoughts on this, see here

First post!

A couple of things to mention - first, I have never been good at spelling. Second, I am using a strange keyboard. Don't judge me by my spelling. On the other hand, my grammer is impecible.