Thursday, March 04, 2004

The Bad News
I'm sorry to do it to you, but I have to go on hiatus. I will be touring the southern states of this great country for the next two and a half weeks, and while I will post whenever possible, it will be sporadic at best.

Fear not, when I return, we'll pick up where we left off.

The Good News
I spent some time yesterday constructing this graphic. So, if you're a yalie with a blog and you'd like the image, feel free to save it and post it on your own site. Just let me know if you do, because ultimately I want to compile a list of the "Bulldog Blogs." You can also feel free to change the background colors if you like, or, once I get back I'll do it for you.

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

GeorgeWBush.com :: TV Ads
Bush has his first round of TV ads, which will begin airing on national cable stations, and some local networks in battleground states, tomorrow. The only one I think is at all useful is the one called "Lead."
I may post some more thoughts soon. Probably won't get to it.

Today's Political Diary copies... me??:
Leakage from the Kerry camp says the campaign will be motoring up a vice presidential vetting operation in two weeks, possibly with an eye toward an early naming of a second fiddle. Will it be John Edwards? It's hard to see why.

Mr. Kerry might like help with southern whites, but Mr. Edwards is no LBJ, lacking roots and machine enough even to deliver his native North Carolina. If Mr. Kerry is so hard up in the South, he might as well ignore the region altogether and focus elsewhere. Nor can Mr. Edwards claim any obvious support in the national Democratic machine: The Clintons certainly don't have a stake in him becoming more prominent than he already is.

But notice how well Mr. Kerry did in the crucial November state of Ohio, even though Edwards supposedly had him beat on the trade-bashing issue. Mr. Kerry topped his rival by an impressive 52% to 34%. Mr. Kerry's fat was pulled out of the fire partly by Dick Gephardt, who gave him cover on Nafta, etc. Overnight, Mr. Gephardt becomes the odds-on favorite for the Veep nod. (Teddy Kennedy probably doesn't want the job and would never be asked, but Mr. Kerry also owes him big-time too for turning around his campaign before Iowa).
[emphasis added]

Remember folks, you heard it here, first.

Is Howard Looking for 'The Nod' from Kerry?
OxBlog links to a bunch of posts on Blog for America, Howard Dean's message board, which they apparently decided is the equivalent of a blog. My personal favorite is by "Kim in Pa." who says "BACK IN HOWARD!!!! BACK IN HOWARD!!! BACK IN HOWARD!!! HURRY BEFORE IT'S TOO LATE!!!!!!!!" There are two things wrong with Kim's exclamations:

1)It's already too late, for, as we can see from CNN's Delegate Scorecard, Kerry has almost 7.5 times the number of delegates as Dean, and well over half of what's needed to win overall. Even if every other candidate who won delegates committed them to Howard (which would never happen in the first place), he'd only be up by 108 delegates.

2) She seems to have ignored Howard's own statement on the win in Vermont, which included the paragraph "I look forward to continuing the energy and the campaign for change that our movement began. We will be announcing more details of that effort on March 18th." Clearly, if he'd even considered re-entering the race, Howard would have said "We'll comment further tomorrow." Specifying that you will not comment for 2 weeks is a very clear signal that, not only will you not be re-entering, you might even be hoping for a veep nod from Kerry. As I've already commented today, my money is on Gephardt for that position.

Still, those Deaniacs are amusing. Yeeeaaaaarrrrrgggggghhhhhh!

WSJ.com - Targeting Iraqis It is supposed to be subscriber only, and I may be infringing on any number of copyright laws here, but this needs to be read by everyone:

"Yesterday was post-Saddam Iraq's bloodiest day thus far, with at least 150 Shiite worshipers killed in Baghdad and Karbala while celebrating the festival of Ashoura. Terrorists struck in Pakistan too, killing more than 40 Shiites in the city of Quetta.

The attacks bore the hallmarks of the Sunni fundamentalists of al Qaeda, and in the Iraqi case meshed with the strategy outlined in a recently captured letter said to be from the terror master Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. That letter described his plan to provoke civil war through attacks on Iraqi Shiites, and the necessity of doing so before the June 30 return of Iraqi sovereignty.
Such tactics are terrible but also a sign of weakness. Having failed to drive U.S. soldiers from Iraq, the so-called 'resistance' is resorting to soft targets. Also encouraging is that Iraqi Shiite leaders are wise to the plan, and have no intention of allowing it to succeed. 'The civil war and sectarian strife that Zarqawi wants to inflict on the people of Iraq will not succeed,' said Mouwafak al-Rubaie, a member of the Governing Council and ally of Ayatollah Ali Sistani.

More than 10 attackers were said to be in coalition custody as we went to press, and interrogations and examination of captured ordnance should prove revealing. Let's hope yesterday's attacks will be for al Qaeda in Iraq what 9/11 was for the group on a global scale: its most spectacular 'success,' and also the beginning of its unraveling."

AndrewSullivan: "When asked if he supported the president's decision to ban gays from equal rights in the constitution itself, Cheney didn't say he supported the amendment. He said he supported the president."

I'm with Cheney.

Andrew Sullivan: "KERRY'S SPEECH: It struck me as a strong one on domestic issues. On energy independence, and protecting the Constitution, it was a winner. He looks like a potential president. But it was deeply worrying in one respect. The war on terror was barely mentioned. This on a day of appalling carnage in Iraq. I fear this man simply doesn't get it. No one should support him for the highest office in the land until he proves he understands our enemy; and demonstrates that he will get up every day in the Oval Office to see how he can take the fight to the Islamists. I don't see that fire right now. In fact, I don't even see a flicker. It's a deal-breaker for me. (Just as attacking civil rights and playing politics with the Constitution is a deal-breaker as far as Bush is concerned.) Kerry has several months to prove otherwise. But it wasn't an auspicious start."

Couldn't have said it better myself. My brother (James at diet coke for breakfast) came pretty close in a conversation that basically brought me back into the W fold, as mentioned in my post here.

CNN.com 2004 Primaries
So, Kerry won every state except Vermont, which was won by the already departed Howard Dean. Looks like he's our nominee, folks. Georgia was close, if you consider 6 percentage points close. The Delegate Scorecard shows Kerry with 1219, and Edwards at only 409. Sounds like game over to me.

UPDATE: Silly me, I posted before reading the full news. The NYT says Edwards will announce his withdrawl this afternoon at his son's school. Tough race, my friend, and it'll hurt even more when you don't get the veep nomination. The good news is, you've set yourself up for a strong future run, with an actual shot at the nomination, as well.

Why, many of you may ask, do I think Edwards won't get the veep nod this time around? Think about it this way: if the general election is close, where will the Dems wish they'd spent more money? It won't be in the South, because the electoral votes they may win there won't be enough to swing the election. They'll be looking more towards Ohio, Missouri, and states more of that class. Who could win some percentage points in those states? Surprise! Dick Gephardt. This is all based on research and analysis currently being conducted by Alan Gerber, one of my professors.

I'll likely have some more commentary on these developments after my midterm later today, so check back mid-afternoon.

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

The Volokh Conspiracy: "The new worm going around poses as authentic e-mail much more persuasively than most of its predecessors."

New worm going around looks like it could be pretty deceptive. Volokh has a lot more details.

Political Wire: Filling Kerry's Seat
It had to happen... a Massachusetts State Rep. has proposed a bill that would create a special election to fill Kerry's Senate seat if he wins, rather than allowing a Republican Governor to select the replacement.

Political Wire: Exit Polls: "Kerry leads by 11 in Georgia; Kerry leads by 25 in Ohio; Kerry leads by 38 in Maryland "

Also links to Jack Shafer, at Slate, who has full exit polling data.

I find it amusing that Wolf Blitzer just claimed to have exclusive polling data, and he seemed to be just reading the Slate numbers.

Also, Shafer's numbers have Dean winning VT by 30%. That'll be an interesting piece of political trivia in a few years.

CNN.com - NASA: Liquid water once on Mars - Mar. 2, 2004: "NASA scientists say the Mars rovers have found what they were looking for -- hard evidence that the red planet was once 'soaking wet.' "

An additional hint came from the bottle of 'Trump Ice' found nearby.

The Homework Delusion: "Homework, they argue, is anti-democratic and 'pits students who can against students who can't.' "

On the whole an interesting piece, but this line jumped out at me. Of course it does! That's the nature of school. You get good grades if you are smart and do your work, and bad grades if you don't. School isn't supposed to be democratic, it's supposed to be about learning. You learn both by doing and by failing -- homework adds to that.

Now, I'll acknowledge, it gets excessive in cases, and my high school is the perfect example of too much work. But even that taught me important lessons in time management and in prioritizing tasks. In short, abolition of homework is an absurd idea.

ScrappleFace: Bloggers Scarce as USA Today Readers, CNN Viewers: "Glenn Reynolds, a blogger whose name has appeared in every article ever written about blogging, said, 'I'm saddened...saddened and dismayed. I really thought blogging would catch on.'"

Scrappleface strikes again.

CNN.com - Senate votes to reauthorize assault weapons ban - Mar. 2, 2004
Good for them. Or bad for them. I really don't care, because CT has its own assault weapons ban. And as far as the gunshow loophole? Fine, close it. I really believe that, if you need a gun for any legitimate purpose, you can wait a few days to get it. If it's urgent, maybe you shouldn't be getting that gun in the first place...

UPDATE: I thought about this a little more with respect to the Assault Weapons Ban. Considering this is a blog particularly concerned with political strategy, I think I should comment on the fact that this puts Bush in a bit of a tough spot. He has said that if the bill did not come through clean, he would veto it. He needs to veto it, then, and something tells me he won't. (Maybe the fact that he hasn't used his veto power ever.)

GOP Plans Votes to Put Democrats on the Spot (washingtonpost.com): "Republicans also plan a series of votes on judicial appointments and tax cuts this year that could put Kerry in tough political spots, according to a senior GOP leadership aide. Another possible wedge issue, aides in both parties say, is a long-standing proposed constitutional amendment to outlaw burning the American flag."

Amending the Constitution to ban flag-burning has always seemed ridiculous to me. My general feeling is, while I may beat the heck out of you if I see you doing it, that doesn't mean it should be illegal. It's a much stronger statement to say you believe in the right to burn a flag and know you would never do it if there's no law requiring you to feel that way.

OpinionJournal - The Western Front: "Thanks to Mr. Gibson, God is back in Tinsel Town."

Great column from Miniter. I wouldn't go quite as far as he does in that last line, however. I've been to Hollywood recently, and while people like to call Vegas or sometimes NYC "sin city," I think it applies most correctly to Hollywood. That being said, I wouldn't be surprised if we start seeing a few more religious movies coming out of hollywood.

UPDATE: The Volokh Conspiracy weighs in on a similar issue. Another great post.

Monday, March 01, 2004

Well Spake
From today's Political Diary: "Funny how Democrats are always mouthing their concern for "the poor" but oppose the one force (liberalized trade) that has lifted more people out of poverty faster than any government redistribution program ever conceived."

Mel on hell: Even the missus may miss out on salvation"'There is no salvation for those outside the (Catholic) church,' Gibson replied. 'I believe it.'[...]'Put it this way. My wife is a saint. She's a much better person than I am. Honestly. She's, like, Episcopalian, Church of England. She prays, she believes in God, she knows Jesus, she believes in that stuff. And it's just not fair if she doesn't make it; she's better than I am. But that is a pronouncement from the chair. I go with it.'"

It's nice to pretend that these sentiments are unique, but he's right. According to the preaching of the Pope, and the tenets of the Catholic Church, non-Catholics aren't included in Salvation. We're also not allowed to take Communion in a Catholic Church, despite the fact that I follow their teachings more closely than many within the Catholic system. It's a shame that a man who seems to understand Christ's Passion so well could miss the entire message carried within it. Jesus is the Way, the Light, the Truth. He is our salvation, not the Church. You show me where the Bible says I have to be baptised Catholic, and maybe I'll change my mind. In the meantime, I'll stick with Catholic Light like Mel's wife.

Two Pieces of GOOD News from Iraq
A Revival for Iraq's Oil Industry as Output Nears Prewar Levels
Iraq Coalition Casualties: Casualties for February total 23, down from 52 in January. That's an average of .79 per day versus 1.68 per day, versus 3.67 per day back in November. You think we'll see front page news on this? Probably with the headline "Fewer Casualties Blamed on Shorter Month."

UPDATE: Oh, and, scanning that second link even further, I should acknowledge that those numbers are deaths, not casualties. Total casualties, both hostile and non-hostile are down to 134 from 187, from a peak of 422 in October.
And, on the oil numbers, to quote Andrew Sullivan: "Fingers crossed. I have, naturally, a question about this success. Could Halliburton have had anything to do with it?"

In Debate, No More Mr. Nice Guys (washingtonpost.com)
I saw three quarters of this debate (see my comments here). They were as subdued and boring as ever. The only one who ever seemed to go on attack and say "I'm the only feasible candidate for the presidency," was Dennis Kucinich. And he usually followed that up with "And that's why we need a Department of Peace. So that when the rest of my people arrive here from outer space, they can easily overwhelm us and we put daisies in their disruptor riffles."
If Bush loses this election, and I have to listen to any one of them for the next four years, I'm going to be one unhappy camper. I'd much rather hear from people like Dick Armey, who said the following in his recent book, Armey's Axioms: "Our love for peace is one of our most decent and honorable characteristics. It is also one of our most dangerous traits. There is probably nothing of greater comfort to despots than the love of peace when it is greater than the love of freedom. Churchill understood this. Chamberlain did not."

UPDATE: Sullivan links to the same Wonkette article I did earlier and weighs in on the decreasing likelihood that Kerry will put Edwards on his ticket. I had a meeting with my professor who is in the middle of doing an analysis on the very subject of a Democratic running mate. He began by asking the question "if the election is close, where will the Dems wish they had spent a little more money?" Since, in a state where he's favorably viewed, a veep candidate can account for a couple of percentage points, this is a logical way of looking at things. Surprise, surprise, the Dems can (though they shouldn't for the sake of Congress and the Senate) win without a single state in the South. And, winning the Carolinas (which they likely wouldn't anyway) wouldn't gain enough electoral votes if the election is close anyway. So, to ask the big question: who did preliminary analysis determine should be the veep candidate? Dick Gephardt.

In a Week, U.S. Stance Moved To a Belief of the Inevitable (washingtonpost.com): "Members of the Congressional Black Caucus accused the Bush administration of sacrificing democracy by refusing to support Aristide. Sen. Bob Graham (D-Fla.) said Bush should have dispatched troops earlier to stop the violence. Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John F. Kerry (Mass.) described Bush as 'late, as usual.'"

You have GOT to be kidding me. HOW DARE THEY? We didn't threaten democracy by allowing Saddam to remain in power agaisnt the overwhelming desire of the majority of his people? And it's ok for us to wait and wait and wait for an international coalition before we attack Iraq, who at the very least might have actually posed a threat to us, but we need to rush to a country that couldn't possibly under any circumstances?

And while we're at it, let's get another thing straight. This man flew out of Haiti at a moment's notice, and less than 24 horurs later, our troops are in Haiti. The violence flared up about eight and a half days ago. Clearly, this was not a last-minute decision by the Bush administration. They were not waiting until they absolutely couldn't ignore it anymore; they couldn't possibly have done so.

The fact of the matter is, Colin Powell has been on the phone for a week straight, trying to find someone who would shelter Aristide. Ambassador Foley has been trying all that time to convince Aristide that it was time for him to leave, and that he could trust us to protect him. AND, had we sent troops a week ago, Aristide would have tried to spin it as another case of US support for him against his people. Don't try to pin this on Bush being late to the party. And, as far as the campaign goes, if that's the way President Kerry would have reacted, I renew my hope that he remain Senator Kerry.

WSJ.com - An Axis of Nuclear Cheating (sorry, subscriber only): "That failure [of the recent, six-way talks] became inevitable after Pyongyang announced earlier last week that, even if the United States and its allies agree to a long list of demands for everything from free fuel oil to a nonaggression pact, the rogue regime will still insist on retaining part of its nuclear program for 'peaceful purposes.'"

I'll tell you what: it's a deal. Of course, my definition of peaceful purposes means reserving the right to strap a small nuclear device (only a couple of megatons) to Kim Jong Il, while reserving the right to detonate it remotely whenever we feel like he might be threatening peace.

OpinionJournal - Extra: "The liberals who sneered at the concept of duct tape keeping us safe last year are the same congressmen who find it acceptable when our brave and resourceful Marines must use it to hold together 40-year-old helicopters in combat. My brother Jay, a CH-46 pilot, used it during the first Gulf War, and our guys are still flying those same helicopters a decade later."

While I agree with the rest of the article, I must point out: Don't be knocking the Duct Tape. That stuff is the reason those helicopters are still running 10 years later.

There's an old rule in the Navy: If it moves, salute it; if it doesn't, paint it gray. The modern parallel is: if it doesn't move and it should, use WD-40; if it moves and it shouldn't, use Duct Tape. Trust me, it's true.

More importantly, on track with this article, when the real race begins, if it includes Senator Kerry, I intend to shout at the top of my lungs until people take notice. And what will cause me to shout? John Kerry claiming that W brought Vietnam into this campaign. BULL. Kerry has been running on Vietnam since he first announced his candidacy. He brought it up, and we have a right to hold him to it. Tallying his votes against military funding count towards that end.

One last thing: I met with Mr. Kerry's pollster last week (Mark Mellman). In giving examples as to how polling and campaigning coincide, he would describe a problem (i.e. - the public thinks he's weak on national defense) and a solution (i.e. - Kerry served in Vietnam). Every single example of a solution was referring to Kerry's service. He repeatedly said "You'd be surprised how many people in this country don't know that the Senator served in Vietnam." I have no doubt that their entire campaign strategy is "hey, we've always got the Vietnam thing!"

Right now I'm worried, because Bush's numbers are sliding, and I fear what would happen to our military and our safety under a man who votes like Kerry. I've got to admit it, though: that Vietnam thing is a little comforting. I'll leave you with a very brief remaining quote from this article, explaining why this blog continues to endorse George W. Bush for President, no matter how much I may disagree with his stand on gay marriage:
"In 2004, nothing is more important than continuing to protect America and fight terrorism. President Bush has led, not perfectly but earnestly. He has put much on the line to do what he believes is right. And he needs our continued support in the months to come."

Sunday, February 29, 2004

CBS Primary Debate: Some Quick First Impression: "We wish the New York Time's Elisabeth Bumiller was running for president, just so that we could vote against her."

I watched a good portion of this debate as well, and have to agree with Wonkette. I didn't know who the woman was, but she was terrible, and needed to stop asking stupid questions. For CBS's impression of their own debate, click here.

washingtonpost.com - nation, world, technology and Washington area news and headlines: "A Haitian looter carries a door from the police station near the capital city. (Reuters)"

That's a caption to one of the silliest pictures I've ever seen. Think about it. Can you imagine a situation in the US where the police station is being looted? How about where people are stealing doors??

The Volokh Conspiracy: "I'm not so sure about the wisdom of Secretary Noriega's response that he resents being considered white. I'd preferred he criticized her on more general anti-racial demagoguery grounds."

This was one of my problems from the start. For one thing, Brown should be held to task more than she has been.
And Noriega's outrage at being considered white is almost equally racist. When will people simply stop thinking in these terms?

CNN.com - 'Passion' No. 1 at box office - Feb. 29, 2004: "the film has grossed $117.5 million, the second-best tally ever for a Wednesday release, behind only last year's 'The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King' with $124.1 million."

Wow.

OpinionJournal - Extra: "In 2000, Mr. Nader's shrill mantra was 'Republicrat,' that there wasn't a dime's worth of difference between the two nominees. That claim was dead wrong in 2000 and is ludicrous in 2004. Since George W. Bush took office, a budget surplus of $230 billion has become a deficit of $521 billion, 2.7 million jobs have been lost, clean air standards have been weakened, civil liberties have been trampled, long-time allies have come to mistrust us, and we've spent $150 billion and almost 600 lives in a war to protect us from weapons that didn't exist. Given the extremism of Mr. Bush's first term, imagine what a lame duck Bush would do."

1)If Barbara Bush started writing articles about her dad, I might die of laughter, so I must take Ms. Gore Schiff's comments with a grain of salt.
2)If Al Gore had managed to steal the election in 2000: we'd still have an equally large deficit, if not larger as he ratcheted up spending; by refusing the tax cuts, America's small business economy would have collapsed, and way more than 2.7 million jobs would have been lost; I can breathe just fine, and the reason they were lowered was because EPA data was released to suggest that the standards were higher than they needed to be and Treasury data suggested they were putting an undue strain on business; I have not felt my civil liberties decreased in the slightest, and if we're better able to prevent terrorism in this country by abandoning a few liberties, I'm all for it; what kind of ally is a country who fights you at every turn? And, finally; we fought the war to protect us from a man who might use weapons that might have existed (and everyone thought did). Now we're fighting to bring democracy and freedom to a people who deserve it as much as we do, and, should we succeed, who can use it to solve a lot more problems around the world by example. The $150 billion is a small price. The 600 lives is a priceless loss, which I regret, and I grapple with every day. BUT, if we do this right, it will go a long way towards making these actions unnecessary in the future.

If that's extremism, then I guess my mom's right, I am an extremist.

Tax Cuts Do What?

It's articles like this that make me wish I had a regular readership base. That way, by linking to it, I might actually feel like I was increasing the number of people who read it...

Op-Ed Columnist: Sorry, Right Number: "Testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday, George Tenet was asked why the C.I.A. never picked up the trail of Marwan al-Shehhi, the pilot who crashed Flight 175 into the south tower on 9/11.
Thirty months earlier, German intelligence had passed on a hot tip to the C.I.A. -- the Al Qaeda terrorist's first name and phone number.
'The Germans gave us a name, Marwan -- that's it -- and a phone number,' the director of central intelligence replied, adding: 'They didn't give us a first and a last name until after 9/11, with then additional data.'
For crying out loud. As one guy I know put it: 'I've tracked down women across the country with a lot less information than that.'"


Yes, Ms. Dowd, it is very easy to track a woman down over the internet. Usually by using her role in the professional world, her use of email, or AOL, etc. However, this is in the case of a woman with a normal role in society. You can't pretend that these people had that, or that they weren't taking efforts to keep themselves off of everyone's radar screens. While I agree with your point that people need to be fired over the complete failure of 9/11, and while I'm similarly amazed that Tenet is still chief of the CIA, you're a moron. Case in point number 2:"It is a triumph of chutzpah for Mr. Bush to thwart the investigation into 9/11 at the same time he seeks re-election by promoting his handling of 9/11 and scaring us with the specter of more terrorism. He's even using 9/11 memorials as the backdrop for his convention in New York."

Hmm. Clearly not possible that he learned a lesson and doesn't want to pay the price for the old way he operated, right? Maybe ol' George W. has figured out that they blew it before 9/11, and his goal now is to prevent another one? That might make a bit of sense. At the same time, he doesn't want to lose an election because he takes the blame for an event that he now spends a lot of effort trying to prevent from repeating. And, the Democrats worked just as hard to schedule their convention for NYC after 9/11, my dear, so shut up. Point 3: "'To declare war on terrorism, it seems to me to have the target wrong,' he said. 'It would be like after the 7th of December, 1941, declaring war on Japanese planes. We declared war on Japan. We didn't declare war on their tactic. . . . Terrorism is a tactic.'"

To be fair, this is not Ms. Dowd, but she does still choose to repeat this idiotic Bob Kerrey quote. Sorry, our semantics aren't quite right. When we say we've declared war on "terror," yes, you're right, we should say we've declared war on "those who use terrorism to further their goals, so that we might prevent anyone from using this particular tactic." Funny, somehow that just doesn't sound as nice. And it seems that could be conveyed by the first way of saying it. Unless you're a moron like Ms. Dowd who really ought to shut up unless she can make a coherent article on a slightly higher plane than semantics... without making things up.

Sorry. I shouldn't have made the mistake of reading a Dowd column. I should know better.

Hussein's Regime Skimmed Billions From Aid Program: "Millions of Iraqis were struggling to survive on rations of food and medicine. Yet the government's hidden slush funds were being fed by suppliers and oil traders from around the world who sometimes lugged suitcases full of cash to ministry offices, said Iraqi officials who supervised the skimming operation."

To anyone who advocated the removal of sanctions towards Iraq, I make two points:
1) If he was skimming this much off of the Food-for-Oil program, wouldn't he just skim even more once sanctions were lifted? (which would give him more money to spend on trying to develop WMD, and on hiding it from the rest of the world, therefore making him a larger threat)
2) You were on the same side as Saddam, and, particularly in Britain, he was even helping fund your efforts--with the money he was skimming from his own people. That must make you feel good.