Saturday, March 27, 2004

Fighting for Florida: Voting Rights of Florida Felons Scrutinized After 2000 Election: "Critics say that President Bush would have lost in 2000 if disenfranchised felons had been allowed to vote."

All together now, Democrats, "The criminals vote with us!!!" - Violence Across Iraq Leaves 21 Dead Over Two Days: "Rebel rockets slammed into a government building in the northern city of Mosul on Saturday, killing two civilians and wounding 14 others. An explosion rocked central Baghdad in a roadside bomb attack on a convoy, wounding five Iraqis.
The Mosul attack brought to 21 the number of people killed in two days of explosions and shootings across the country.
The rocket launcher was hidden in a wooden cart that was wheeled up to a blast wall surrounding the three-story main government building, said Mosul police Sgt. Jassim Mohammed."

Every loss in Iraq is sad. But there's some good news hidden in this little bit as well:

  1. Attacks that had targeted Americans are now being turned towards Iraqis. This can only mean that the Iraqis fighting for democracy are gaining power, and increasingly seen as a threat to the Islamists.
  2. The person interviewed by the AP about the incident in Mosul is "police Sgt. Jassim Mohammed." Not only is there a legitimate police structure in Iraq, finally, but it is beginning to have independence, and the ability to investigate attacks for itself, without strong-arming by the US military.

I don't care what people say, we're making progress in Iraq. It's slow, and it'll take more time, but I firmly believe that 20 years from now there will be a fully-functioning democracy in the middle of the Middle East, and that by then others will be following its lead. The spirit yearns to be free--we've given Iraqis the potential.

Off With Their Ads ( "Microsoft Corp. is the latest software concern taking aim at one of the great banes of online life -- those annoying ads for diet plans, credit cards and low mortgage rates that suddenly appear on your computer screen while you are perusing your favorite Web page, forcing you to click on them to turn them off.
The software giant is incorporating a new feature in its Internet Explorer browser that will automatically block the pop-up. While other companies have long offered this feature, Microsoft's action is significant because its browser runs on 90 percent or so of the world's personal computers."

When will Microsoft get out of my life? If I want to block pop-ups, there are plenty of ways for me to do so. I've discovered that the Google Toolbar is far and away the best method, plus it comes with the built-in blogging button. But I don't want it forced upon me. Why is Microsoft always so heavy-handed?

Friday, March 26, 2004

Kerry Proposes Tax Plan to Address Jobs Moving Overseas
This is what the WaPo says: "After several weeks of negative television advertisements portraying him as a tax-and-spend liberal, Senator Kerry used his first major policy address of the general election battle to position himself as a business-friendly moderate by offering a corporate tax reform plan that includes a 5 percent cut for most companies."(emphasis added)

This is how I would have written it: "After several weeks of television advertisements representing his tax-and-spend history, Senator Kerry used his first major policy address of the general election to try and position himself as a business-friendly moderate by offering a corporate tax reform plan that includes a 5 percent cut for most companies."

Do you see the difference? Now, granted, mine is a bit partisan in the opposite direction. But those first few phrases are unquestionably biased. I don't allege a Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy, by any means, but is it too much to ask for a person to drop her personal impressions while reporting the facts?

How about: "In response to the recent television advertisements from the Bush campaign, portraying him as a tax-and-spend liberal, Senator Kerry used his first major policy address of the general election to represent himself as a more business-friendly moderate by offering a corporate tax reform plan that includes a 5 percent cut for most companies."

It's a little more verbose, I'll admit, but it isn't very difficult to take out partisanship in reporting. Maybe if we had a few editors at the WaPo, NYT, and others who weren't quite so liberal, they'd even notice the bias inherent in their papers.

Senate Democrats Threaten to Block More Bush Nominees: "Senate Democrats threatened today to block all of President Bush's judicial nominations unless the White House promised not to name any more judges while Congress was away."

They're already blocking all of the good ones anyway. I say go for it Georgie-Boy. - Bush wants cheap high-speed Internet access for all by 2007 - Mar 26, 2004
May I ask where in the Constitution Congress is granted the ability to provide Americans with luxuries?
Keep spending my money, Georgie-Boy, and see where my vote for you goes... - Bishop sentenced to probation for leaving fatal accident - Mar 26, 2004: "O'Brien, 68, who stepped down as leader of the half-million-member Roman Catholic community in Phoenix after his arrest, is believed to be the first U.S. bishop convicted of a felony. He also was sentenced to 1,000 hours of community service."

1,000 hours of community service, eh? Sounds like a real hardship for a priest

U.S. Marine, 15 Iraqis Killed in Fallujah Firefight ( "The Marine was the 400th U.S. soldier to be killed in action in Iraq since U.S. forces invaded in March 2003, news agencies reported. More than 70 percent of those deaths have occurred since President Bush declared an end to major combat operations on May 1, 2003. " (emphasis added)

God bless the dead, and the families they leave behind.
That being said, I cannot abide the continued use of this phrase. Everyone knows that there have been a lot of deaths since Bush made that declaration. You may notice, there haven't been any major combat operations since that date. The only purpose this serves is as a sneaky way to undermine his authority. I'd bet every dime in my bank account that the author of this article is a registered Democrat.

UPDATE: WaPo also has several pictures of what they call "Iraqi Insurgents" loading a morter and firing an RPG. Whatever photographer captured that picture, I don't want him/her coming back into the United States.

CBS News | 'The Age Of Sacred Terror' | November 13, 2002 - 14:30:21: "[Clinton] approached Gen. Hugh Shelton, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and said, according to the book, 'It would scare the (expletive) out of al Qaeda if suddenly a bunch of black ninjas rappelled out of helicopters in to the middle of their camp. It would get us an enormous deterrence and show those guys we're not afraid.'"

You've got to be kidding me. This is not the type of man I'm proud to say led the free world for 8 years.

OpinionJournal - Extra: "As Howard Simon, executive director of the ACLU Florida Chapter stated recently, 'The outcome of [the Rush Limbaugh] case is going to affect the privacy of everybody in the state of Florida.' "

Where am I and what happened to my universe? The ACLU is defending Rush?? Weird.

Op-Ed Columnist: The Wrong War: "The United States had been the victim of a sneak attack worse than the attack at Pearl Harbor. It was an act of war, and the administration had a moral obligation (not to mention the backing of the entire country and most of the world) to hunt down and eradicate the forces responsible."

No, Bob, you're wrong. And if we have another 9/11, it's people like you who will be to blame. If the Commission hearings this week have established anything, it's that this mindset is precisely to blame for the first attack.

What we've learned is that, despite clear warning from the 1993 bombing, Khobar Towers, and the Cole, we did not pursue terrorists and try to erradicate the causes. Allow me a gardening metaphor: if you find aphids on one bud, and you spray just that bud, you will soon have an infestation; you must spray all buds if you truly want to prevent the aphids from taking over. Terrorism works the same way. Even if, following September 11, we fully erradicated every single member of Al Quaida, who could believe that another organization wouldn't spring up in its place?

Iraq is the key because it is our best shot at completely changing the Arab world. Listen to Gaddafi's son, Seif, who spoke this week on the occasion of Blair's visit to Libya:

"'Instead of shouting and criticizing the American initiative, you have to bring democracy to your countries, and then there will be no need to fear America or your people,' said Seif al-Islam Gadhafi. 'The Arabs should either change or change will be imposed on them from outside.'
Seif denied reports that he is a candidate to succeed his father, who rules Libya with little tolerance of opposition.
'Many Arab countries are now following the policy of inheriting the leadership, but there are hundreds of Libyans who are better (suited) than I,' Seif said.
Seif even praised Israel, saying that unlike Arab countries, sons do not tend to succeed their fathers in power there.
'We don't put the appropriate person in the right place, but Israel is a democratic country,' told the Al-Jazeera television station."
(from Guardian Unlimited | Gadhafi's Son: Bush Plan Should Be Backed)

Iraq is the key to changing the world. When we have liberal democracy in the Middle East, when people can choose their own destiny, and technology can thrive independent of a completely restrictive theocracy, terrorism will begin to disappear.

Senate Outlaws Injury to Fetus During a Crime: "'It's as simple as that,' said Senator Mike DeWine, Republican of Ohio and the chief Senate author of the measure. 'This bill recognizes that when someone attacks and harms a mother and her unborn child, that attack does, in fact, result in two separate victims.'"

This is a big victory for Pro-Lifers.

LILEKS (James) The Bleat: "And I bring this up . . . why? Because I want to blame the Clinton administration? Look: to me that's ancient history. That's Flintstone time. If it weren't for these hearings I wouldn't give a tin fig for who didn't do what when and where. September Eleventh was the bright red gash that separated the Now from the La-la Then, and we've been living in the hot spiky Now ever since. I am interested in the Now and the What Next. I don't have much patience for people who believe that the salvation of Western Civilization depends on hiking the marginal tax rates to pre-2002 levels. But if you want to play Eight Years vs. Eight Months, fine. Just remember that before 9/11, the skies over Afghanistan were clear. After 9/11, they thrummed with the sound of B-52s until the job was done.

No small distinction. "

As usual, I'll let Mr. Lileks speak for himself.

OpinionJournal - Featured Article: "This is the real lesson emerging from the 9/11 Commission hearings if you listen above the partisan din. In their eagerness to insist that Mr. Bush should have acted more pre-emptively before 9/11, the critics are rebutting their own case against the President's aggressive antiterror policy ever since. The implication of their critique is that Mr. Bush didn't repudiate the failed strategy of the Clinton years fast enough."

Looks like the Left have become unwitting supporters of the Bush Doctrine.

Fiery Truck Accident Closes I-95 for Weeks
There's a reason that this is considered the most dangerous stretch of road in the United States. Thank God that no one was killed. It's truly amazing that emergency personnel were able to respond as quickly as they were, and no lives were lost.
And to think, I almost drove home tonight. Unbelievable.

Thursday, March 25, 2004

Unfogged: "Since even the perspicacious Taegan Goddard is now pushing the importance of the 'August 6 briefing' in which George Bush is suspected to have been informed of intelligence about Al Qaeda's plans to use planes as missiles, let me call everyone's attention to Richard Clarke's answer to a question about that memo:

I think its importance has been overblown...In response to the drumbeat day after day of intelligence that there was going to be an al-Qaida attack, the president apparently said, 'Tell me what al-Qaida could do.' And in response to that the CIA went off and wrote a paper that listed everything possible that al-Qaida could do. It didn't say we have intelligence that tells us the attack will be here or there, the attack method will be this or that. It was rather a laundry list of possible things they could do."
(emphasis added)

LILEKS (James) The Bleat: "Job security for the engineers of Hell. Ordinary Hell isn't enough for the guys who send out these kids; they're going to have to open a new wing of Extra Special Ultra Hell, aka Satan's Playroom. As I heard someone on the radio say the other day, for the 164,232nd time: they have no choice but to use suicide bombers, because they don't have a conventional military. I have never quite understood that logic. Okay, so we give them Apache helicopters so they can strafe buses from overhead?

If we give them lots of Stinger missiles, perhaps they will promise only to use suicide bombers who've completed puberty."

Lileks. Where would I be without you?

I can't even get through a Maureen Dowd column anymore, and I'm trying to figure out why. Her habit of "Dowdifying" (taking quotes out of context so as to completely change their meaning) people is annoying, but easily dismissed. I think my biggest problem is her utter hypocrisy spurred on by her total stupidity.

F. Scott Fitzgerald said "The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function." Ms. Dowd, it seems lacks this ability entirely. Accordingly, I feel the need to do my first real Fisking:

As the White House was sliming Richard Clarke, the 9/11 families were stroking him.
That's a lot of families to fit around one man--I'm impressed.

Several relatives of victims surrounded the ex-counterterrorism chief after his testimony yesterday and reached out to pat him.
Ah, so it was just a few. And were they an elected few chosen to represent the total group? No, of course not. Still, we must clearly accept their feelings as representative of all victims.
After being condescended to, stonewalled, led on and put off by the White House, they were glad to hear somebody say: "Those entrusted with protecting you failed you. And I failed you."

"Mr. Clarke is the first person who has apologized to the families and held himself accountable," said the lovely Kristen Breitweiser of New Jersey, whose husband died in the south tower. "I am enormously grateful for that." She and other widows left the hearing room to protest Condoleezza Rice's lame no-show.

1)I don't buy that Clarke is the first to apologize. In fact, I've heard Bush do it on television, multiple times.
2)These families have received more, on an order of magnitude, than the families of the soldiers who have died fighting to ensure that such an attack never happens again. I don't call that stonewalling or condescension.

If only Sandy Berger had told the incoming Bush officials that Al Qaeda was no big deal, they might have gotten alarmed about it. They were determined to disdain all things Clinton, including what they considered his overemphasis on terrorism.

Dick Cheney, Rummy et al. were on amber alert, "preserved in amber," as Mr. Clarke put it, obsessing on old G.O.P. issues that had been hot when they were last in power, like a menacing Saddam and a Star Wars missile shield to protect America from the awesome might of the Evil Empire.

Terrorism wasn't really their cup of tea anyhow.

Yes. Bush paid no attention to terrorism because Clinton did. That makes a whole lot of sense.
It must also be the reason that he doesn't cheat on his wife. I mean, clearly neither one could be that they're different men and see different priorities in the world.
Mistakes were made before 9/11, clearly, or else it wouldn't have happened. I maintain, however, that Bush's response after that horrid day was significantly stronger than 99% of people's would have been.

As Mr. Clarke writes, the ascension of Al Qaeda and the devolution of Iraq were topics that called for nuance: "Bush and his inner circle had no real interest in complicated analyses; on the issues that they cared about, they already knew the answers, it was received wisdom."

The Bush crew was thinking big, and Osama seemed puny to them.

Nuance. I wonder, what did Clarke advocate that Bush didn't follow? Maybe I've missed it, but I haven't seen any nuanced approaches that Clarke feels were ignored. And, if the Clinton Administration saw UBL as so important, why didn't they take the opportunities they've now admitted they had to take him out? Maybe because, if they were kept in power for another 8 months, 9/11 would have still happened. No one saw it coming. Maybe they should have, but it wasn't simply a failing of Bush's inner circle.

Donald Rumsfeld told the 9/11 panel that there had been no point retaliating for the Cole bombing in October 2000, "four months after the fact," because that might have sent a signal of weakness.

So it was too late to whack Osama four months later, but not too late to re-whack Saddam 12 years later?

Well, let's see. We've heard speeches from UBL that clearly refer to Clinton's responses to the 1993 bombing, as well as the attacks on the African embassies. And every time, he points out that all we did was lob a few missiles at a pharmaceutical plant and call the matter closed. It was purely retaliatory, never preemptive. After 9/11, we learned the valuable lesson that we could no longer go on trying to intercept intended attacks, but we had to go after those planning them, and those supporting them. That means taking down the Al Quaida network at every possible turn, and changing the make-up of the Middle East so that terrorism is no longer tenable.

As he admitted to the commission on Tuesday, the defense secretary didn't like the idea of going after Osama in Afghanistan because "it didn't have a lot of targets." You just ended up bombing rocks instead of palaces. "Afghanistan was something like 8,000 miles from the United States. . . . You can pound the rubble in an Al Qaeda training camp 15 times and not do much damage; they can put tents right back up."

So, not showy and not convenient? Crummy excuses, Rummy.

Ah, a Dowdification. Should have known that she wouldn't go a full column without using one. The thing is, that's not all Rummy said, Ms. Dowd. He also pointed out that there wasn't enough public or international support to eliminate the Taliban, which was the only way to truly take terrorism out of Afghanistan. Now, I agree that this is the point of leadership, and they should have made it happen. But nobody saw what was coming, and short of that vision, there was no use in taking out specific camps in Afghanistan.

Paul Wolfowitz was completely uninterested in Al Qaeda unless he could use it as a rationale to invade Iraq as part of his grandiose dream to remake the Middle East in his image. (And John Ashcroft was just too busy covering up immodest statues and trying to cut counterterrorism funds.)

In the Clarke book, Mr. Wolfowitz fidgets as Mr. Clarke urges that armed Predators target Osama at a meeting in April 2001. "Well," Wolfie whines, "I just don't understand why we are beginning by talking about this one man, bin Laden."

OK, that I can't even tolerate. Because Wolfowitz wants to stop focusing on an individual, he doesn't care about Al Quaida. Ashcroft, who has no say whatsoever in foreign matters, is always evil. And what's wrong with a dream for remaking the Middle East? Can you honestly say that it would be a bad thing if suddenly Israel were surrounded by Arad democracies? Do you really believe that would fail to reduce the Palestinian terrorist threat, in turn increasing the likelihood of compromise

Besides confirming what we already knew — that national security in this White House has been as ideologically driven as the domestic agenda — the Clarke book and the commission hearings are most chilling in describing how clueless the agencies charged with sorting through clues were under Clinton and Bush.

Reprising the scene in the White House on 9/11, Mr. Clarke says Dale Watson, the F.B.I.'s counterterrorism chief, called him. "We got the passenger manifests from the airlines," Mr. Watson said. "We recognize some names, Dick. They're Al Qaeda."

Mr. Clarke recalled: "I was stunned, not that the attack was Al Qaeda but that there were Al Qaeda operatives on board aircraft using names that F.B.I. knew were Al Qaeda." Mr. Watson told Mr. Clarke that "C.I.A. forgot to tell us about them."

I don't really have anything to argue with here, mostly because Dowd finally admits that the problems under W existed under Clinton too. Also, this is nothing new. We know that the intelligence failed us, the question that Clarke hasn't shed any light on is: why?

Mr. Clarke's argument that the Bush team's misguided adventurism in Iraq has actually spawned more terrorism and diverted resources has panicked the Bushies, who are running as heroic terror warriors.

It's always gross to see a White House stoop to smearing the character of someone seen as a threat. It was sickening when the Clinton White House smeared Monica Lewinsky, and it's sickening now.

Ok, Ms. Dowd, please tell me how they've smeared his character? By releasing his statements from a year and two years ago? Even four years ago? Is it really a character smear to show people that what someone said previously is completely opposite to what they're saying now? I don't think so.

Finally, that's over. I hope it wasn't too painful, but thank you for indulging me.

The Empire Strikes Back - School Vouchers
I saw an old episode of the West Wing the other night, which fought whole-heartedly against school vouchers. But there was a newer episode the other week wherein the President caved and allowed DC to run a pilot program, at the urging of the Mayor and Charlie Young. If the West Wing has finally caved to the idea, maybe we're finally getting somewhere.

As far as Jesse Jackson fighting the program--of course! He knows just as well as I that as soon a poor black and latino kids start getting a decent education, they're going to look at him and see the idiot who's been manipulating the system for personal gain all along--not the public defender he likes to portray himself as. It'll be a great day when the current generation of black youths stands up and says "Enough Jesse, we'll represent ourselves, thank you very much. Oh, and Al, same goes to you."

OpinionJournal - Peggy Noonan

I'm so glad Peggy is back where she belongs -- writing for the WSJ.

Guardian Unlimited | World Latest | Gadhafi's Son: Bush Plan Should Be Backed: "Seif even praised Israel, saying that unlike Arab countries, sons do not tend to succeed their fathers in power there. "

I'm really glad Gadhafi's son has become such an outspoken supporter of democratizing the Middle East. But does this seem like a back-handed slap at the United States to anyone else? After all, with a mere 8 year hiatus, the son succeeded his father.

A Sniper Detector

This is one of the coolest things I've seen in a long time. Let's hope it saves some lives.

diet coke for breakfast: "Last night I saw a repeat of 'The West Wing' on Bravo, the conclusion of which had the Bartlett administration deciding on a new strategy of 'Let Bartlett be Bartlett'. They'd been fighting silly little political battles instead of standing up and fighting for big ideas. They decided to go full steam ahead with an ambitious agenda, instead.

I remember thinking back to this episode when I saw footage of Bush at the WTC site with a bull-horn rallying the rescue workers. During the campaign his handlers tried to make him sound intellectual. He's smart, but he's not intellectual; he's a business leader, not an academic. After 9/11 that changed dramatically.

'Let Bush be Bush'

Not just on foreign policy or our response to terrorism. I know I won't like a lot of his policy choices, but I want him to make them all the same. Don't hedge your bets. Don't take a middle of the road stance just to appease voters. It won't work. Americans are smart, they see through efforts to appease voters. Take a stance. Then, don't defend it. Promote it. Get out there and tell people why it's a good proposal. Don't try to explain why it's not a bad one. Control the debate, don't react to it. Now that it's not a field of 9 candidates hammering away at Bush, this should be a simple and effective strategy. "

My brother's a smart guy.

Reason (via InstaPundit): "By intervening in the relationship between the brutish Iraqi regime and its long-suffering subjects, the US adopted a policy of enforced democratization. As far as the Bush administration was concerned, a democratic Iraq at the heart of the Arab world could become a liberal beacon in the region, prompting demands for openness and real reform inside neighboring states. Ridiculous you say? The Syrian regime, faced in the past two weeks with protests by individuals seeking greater freedom and a revolt by disgruntled Kurds, would surely disagree."

Read the whole thing, and Glenn's post. His take on Clarke's massive flip-flop: "This guy's working for Rove. By the time he's done imploding, Bush will have discredited the media and all his critics. It's the only thing that makes sense.

The other possibility is that Clarke held an important national security job for years while being dumb as a post, so dumb that he would write a book making explosive accusations against the White House while knowing -- or forgetting? -- that all sorts of contradictory evidence was on the record and bound to come out. Otherwise, wouldn't he at least have tried to explain this stuff up front?"

InstaPundit doesn't do big posts often enough, but when he does, he does them right.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004 - U.N. projects historic city populations by 2007 - Mar 24, 2004: "'The number one issue that is of concern to the developing world is mortality and for some countries also rapid population growth,' U.N. Population Division director Joseph Chamie said at a news briefing."

So, what you're saying is... a lot of people are being born, and that counteracts the high mortality rates? Sounds a bit like what I learned about in seventh grade, referring to rural America pre-Industrialization. What convinced people that developping countries can skip the developping stage that every other country has gone through? I admit, it's sad that so many people are dying, but it happens as a part of progress.

All Consuming: Book Info: If You Give a Mouse a Cookie

It's awesome that not only did this site link to my blog, but I got a referral from it.

Ichiblog: "A fascinating new study hypothesizes that humans' brains may have been able to grow larger because of a genetic mutation that made our jaws smaller."

This is really cool. It's too bad that the class I took on this stuff was so painfully boring. News - Latest News - Man Who Killed Armed Intruder Jailed Eight Years: "A man who stabbed to death an armed intruder at his home was jailed for eight years today.
Carl Lindsay, 25, answered a knock at his door in Salford, Greater Manchester, to find four men armed with a gun.
When the gang tried to rob him he grabbed a samurai sword and stabbed one of them, 37-year-old Stephen Swindells, four times."

That's absurd. He should have stabbed more times. If you're going to be jailed for defending your life and home, you might as well have some fun while you're at it...

OpinionJournal - Best of the Web Today: "A CNN online poll asks 'Which concerns you more?' Results: 54% say 'rising gas prices,' and just 46% say 'threat of terrorism.'
To be sure, gas prices have gotten rather high of late. Also to be sure, these online polls are unscientific and not terribly meaningful.
Even so, what the hell is wrong with these people?"

Ah Taranto. The consumer is not an idiot, she is your wife.

Political Wire: In Connecticut, Rowland May Leave Office: "Connecticut Republican insiders believe Gov. John Rowland (R) 'is slowly realizing the weight of evidence against him mounting in the House impeachment panel and an active federal investigation,' the Connecticut Post reports."

Also, the beautiful thing about impeachment trials, is there's no appeal. Look at Andrew Johnson: there's no way he had committed "high crimes and misdemeanors" and yet he escaped by one vote. Rowland is not popular in the state, and he's created way too good an opportunity for the Democrats to pass up. You may remember that I called for him to resign when this whole thing began. Now it's too late, and he's dragged the party down with him. It just goes to show you, If you're going to go ugly anyway, go ugly early.

The Guardian | Obituary: Sheikh Ahmed Yassin

This just makes me sick. This is the obituary in The Guardian for Yassin. It mentions nowhere his support for terrorism, nor his innocent victims. This man was a brutal maniac, guilty of hundreds of deaths, and The Guardian praises him over and over. The toughest line is probably "In truth, neither Arafat nor Yassin had Mandela's special greatness. But of the two, it was Yassin, the founder-leader of the militant Islamist organisation Hamas, who came closer." Of course, this raises another question: why is Arafat referred to in the past tense. Does The Guardian know something we don't?

InstaPundit.Com: "So Clarke in 2002 says that the Bush Administration picked up the Clinton ball and ran with it, redoubling (er, quintupling!) effort. Clarke in 2004 -- an election year, with a book to sell -- says the opposite, that the Bush Administration ignored the problem.
Which Clarke do you believe?"

It's open season on Bush, and Clarke just wants his cut. What I want to know is, why, usual, have only the blogs picked up this information and not the major media? - National News: "Just as the administration was launching a frantic effort to fend off the allegations of former White House counterterrorism chief Richard Clarke that it failed to take al-Qaida seriously before 9/11, the commission delivered a couple of priceless gifts."

Worth reading.

Political Wire: Another Poll Has Bush Leading: "The new AP Poll has the same result as two polls released yesterday: President Bush is leading Sen. John Kerry. This poll has Bush at 46%, Kerry at 43% and Ralph Nader at 5%."

Not a terrible surprise. I said when Kerry overtook Bush that there'd be blowback -- there always is in an election year. At the time he wins the nomination, and at the convention, the challenger always overtakes the incumbent for a few days, maybe weeks, unless it's a guaranteed blowout from day 1.

The election will be close, but anyone who thinks Bush is in serious trouble isn't following the pulse of the nation very well.

LILEKS (James) The Bleat: "One thought after hearing much of the 9/11 committee testimony. Eventually the 1993 bombing of the WTC was revealed as an act of Islamicist terrorism. Let's imagine the effect of the following scenario: President William J. Clinton invites the Saudi ambassador to the White House. Ushers him into a room with several TV monitors, clicks the remotes. There are four TV s with labels: Baghdad, Tehran, Damascus, Riyadh. President Clinton turns on the first three monitors, and as he's talking with the ambassador the monitors light up with huge explosions. Government buildings and leadership HQ s evaporate. The President turns to the Saudi ambassador and says 'this here is just a taste. Now you need to stop it, and stop it now.' The Riyadh monitor remains blank. The President sets out terms and conditions for the cessation of all terrorist activities against the United States, and takes his sweet time -- because the dark monitor is doing all the talking.

Would this have led to more terrorism? Less?"

Interesting thought. I think it would have led to a true crusade against the Arab world, and it's the reason why we use proportional responses. I do think it was a mistake, however, to deal only with the individual terrorists themselves--we should have delt with the governments somehow to reduce the risk. It's why I'm so scared about John Kerry saying that the War on Terror needs to be backed down to merely an intelligence and law enforcement process.

Tuesday, March 23, 2004 - Recording Industry Files Suits Against University Swappers: "The RIAA filed the 'John Doe' complaints against 89 individuals using networks at universities in Arizona, California, New York, Indiana, Maryland, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Wisconsin and Washington. Lawsuits were also filed against 443 people using commercial Internet access providers in California, Colorado, Missouri, Texas and Virginia."

Looks like they haven't caught me yet...

Can I ask a question?
Why is it news that the FBI tracked Kerry decades ago? This information has all clearly been orchestrated as a campaign maneuver, but I'm not entirely sure what they're trying to do. I guess maybe they want to compare this to the Patriot Act, an therefore chip away at Bush.

The only thing I can really come up with is that Kerry is trying to delay as long as possible before he actually has to announce some positions on issues. - Scientists trapped in cave turn down rescue offers - Mar 23, 2004: "Six British cave divers trapped for five days by rising water in central Mexico turned down local rescue offers on Tuesday, preferring to wait for aid from the British Royal Navy, authorities said."

That's ridiculous. I hope they suffer in the meantime. - Police: 5-year-old sprinkled marijuana on school lasagna - Mar 23, 2004: "A 5-year-old boy took a bag of marijuana to school and was sprinkling it over a friend's lasagna like oregano when a monitor intervened, police said."

Wow. The world just took a turn. This is the last headline I expected to ever read. In the same article: "Also on Monday, authorities in Indianapolis said a 4-year-old boy took crack cocaine that police said was worth up to $10,000 to his preschool class and showed it to classmates, saying it was flour."

What is going on?!

Hamas Names Hard-liner as New Leader in Gaza: "After Sheik Yassin's death, Dr. Rantisi declared an 'open war' with Israel.
'Inside Palestine, there will be no security for the Zionists and Jews,' he said Monday.
Dr. Rantisi spent years imprisoned in Israel. And the Palestinian Authority, which he frequently criticizes, jailed him for about two years in the late 1990's."

So take him out next.

UPDATE: Apparently I spoke too soon. According to the Washington Post, Israel to Target More Hamas Leaders: "Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz and his security chiefs decided to try to kill the entire Hamas leadership, without waiting for another terror attack, security sources said Tuesday."

Even better.

Yale Diva :: Joy: "I'll let this speak for itself, but it seems that targeting the leadership might actually have an effect on the people.
Bret Stephens: 'In the early months of the intifada, this macho pretense was sustained by the Israeli government's tacit decision not to target terrorist ringleaders, for fear such attacks would inspire massive retaliation. Yassin and his closest associates considered themselves immune from Israeli reprisals and operated in the open. What followed was the bloodiest terrorist onslaught in Israeli history, climaxing in a massacre at Netanya in March 2002. After that, Israel invaded the West Bank and began to target terrorist leaders more aggressively.
The results, in terms of lives saved, were dramatic. In 2003, the number of Israeli terrorist fatalities declined by more than 50% from the previous year, to 213 from 451. The overall number of attacks also declined, to 3,823 in 2003 from 5,301 in 2002, a drop of 30%. In the spring of 2003, Israel stepped up its campaign of targeted assassinations, including a failed attempt on Yassin's deputy, Abdel Aziz Rantisi. Wise heads said Israel had done nothing except incite the Palestinians to greater violence. Instead, Hamas and other Islamic terrorist groups agreed unilaterally to a cease-fire.
In this context, it bears notice that between 2002 and 2003 the number of Palestinian fatalities also declined significantly, from 1,000 to about 700. The reason here is obvious: As the leaders of Palestinian terror groups were picked off and their operations were disrupted, they were unable to carry out the kind of frequent, large-scale attacks that had provoked Israel's large-scale reprisals. Terrorism is a top-down business, not vice versa. Targeted assassinations not only got rid of the most guilty but diminished the risk of open combat between Israeli soldier.' "

That was my post to Yale Diva. Just thought it beared repeating.

One Nation, Enriched by Biblical Wisdom: "The lesson I draw from all this is that prayer should not be permitted in public schools, but maybe theology should be mandatory. Students should be introduced to the prophets, to the Old and New Testaments, to the Koran, to a few of the commentators who argue about these texts.
From this perspective, what gets recited in the pledge is the least important issue before us. Understanding what the phrase 'one nation under God' might mean -- that's the important thing. That's not proselytizing; it's citizenship."

I continue to like David Brooks, and I agree that theology should be taught, but I have to disagree with his other conclusion here. Granted, I'm biased because I am such a religious person, and according to some (including my own mom) I'm fanatical about it at times.

My problem is, I firmly believe that the intent of the Founders in writing "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..." was not to keep religion out of public life, but exactly the opposite. It was to allow everyone, both publicly and privately, to practice whatever form or religion he wanted, and to whatever extent he chose.

More than that, I maintain that this is still a good premise. We should not have organized prayer, under any circumstances, but the right to pray in school should not be limited in any way. As it stands right now, many public schools in this country have abolished the moment of silence to prevent prayer. I've heard stories (maybe urban legends, but maybe not) about students who have knelt down, or even just bowed their heads before a test, maybe crossed themselves, and been reprimanded, even suspended for such behavior. It's a scary prospect for me that God is being forcibly removed from public life. Is it so terrible that many of us continue to pray for God to bless us, and for God to bless America? There's a reason Yale still sells banners that say For God, For Country, and For Yale. Right or wrong, religion is a source of inspiration, of encouragement, and of hope for a better life. Isn't that what America is all about?

Monday, March 22, 2004

Political Wire: In Idaho, Democrats Miss Filing Deadline: "Democrats also 'mustered candidates for just 45 of the 105 legislative seats up for election this year.' "

Sounds like the Dems haven't abandoned just the South, but also Idaho.

The OmbudsGod!: "An LA Times story, which also appears in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, recounts that the FBI was surveilling Vietnam Veterans Against the War at the time when John Kerry was their principal spokesman. Kerry is quoted as saying he is 'disturbed that it was all conducted absent of some showing of any legitimate probable cause. It's an offense to the Constitution. It's out of order.'

What the story doesn't mention is that the surveillance was conducted at a time when VVAW was seriously considering implementing the Phoenix Project, which was a plot to assassinate a number of pro-war officials, including Senators John Stennis, John Tower, and Strom Thurmond. The FBI reports place Kerry at the meeting where VVAW debated and ultimately decided not to implement the assassination plan. Kerry's spokesman, David Wade, has previously denied Kerry attended the meeting."

Wow. Seems to help support the idea that the only people with anything to fear from the FBI are the ones with something to hide.

AARP-ing Me Off
I just saw an ad by the AARP that encouraged the public to lobby their congressmen for the right to negociate with Canada for cheaper drugs. I'm really tired of people calling for this. The drugs are made here. We sell them to Canada. The Canadian people subsidize their purchase, so they are cheaper when purchased in Canada. If we then buy them in the states, we're basically tricking the Canadian government into subsidizing our drugs. It'll never happen. Here are some links to photos from Saturday's anti-war protests. I'm sort of confused by protests against a war that already happened, but these pictures are worth a look, just to see the lunacy common among these people.
I think my favorites are the ones that equate Israel with the Nazis.

I want to comment, however, on the posters that say things like "no war on anybody." I have a special place in my heart for the people who hold these signs. I also have a few special places I want to send them: North Korea, China, Syria, Iran, etc. I just don't understand the motivations of these people. They live in the most free, most prosperous nation in the history of the world. They have the freedom from fear. Their government does not hound them, does not randomly torture and execute dissenters, does not prosecute aggressive wars out of a desire for gain of territory or natural resources. Their way of life, however, is under seige by evil forces around the world. People who cannot spread their ideas by legitimate means are doing so through slaughter of innocents, and an advancing tide of terror. Make no mistake, it is why Spain is pulling out of Iraq: terrorism succeeded.

These protesters don't see it. They don't believe that there is evil in the world; or, perhaps even worse, they believe that evil can be defeated with love. It's a nice thought, and it's a shame it doesn't work. If we just sit back and do nothing, our world will be overrun, without question. I'd like to put these protesters into these countries so that they can really see what we're fighting against. Wait until you live under Kim Jong Il and try to compare him to Hitler, or tell him not to threaten war with other countries. See what happens then.

War is terrible. ALL war is terrible. It should be avoided at all costs. Unfortunately, in order to make the world a safer, freer place for everyone, sometimes you have to battle evil. Saddam would not behave reasonably. Kim Jong Il will not. Syria and Iran have responded well, and likely as a result of the war in Iraq. I'll conclude with a quote by Ronald the Ray-gun (Reagan): "Freedom is not something to be secured in any one moment of time. We must struggle to preserve it every day. And freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction." Think about that the next time you exercise your freedom of speech to condemn the very people who are acting to protect it.

New Poll
I have posted a new poll question along the left sidebar. It relates directly to my topic for my piece in The Politic, which I will post as soon as it is published.

Cleric's Death Steeped in Gaza Politics (
This is a pretty good analysis of the differing political responses to Yassin's assasination. Also, Keith Urbahn has a good list of the responses from international leaders.

I'm not sure how I feel about the assasination. An evil man, complicit in the death of hundreds, is dead. He can no longer personally threaten innocent lives. This is good news.

At the same time, there's a big debate going on, mostly due to Richard Clarke's new book and appearance on 60 Minutes last night. I caught some of it, and his point seems to be largely that he believed in going after individual terrorists, and the Bush administration abandoned this method for the most part. The theory is, fight terrorism, not terrorists.

I subscribe to that method. I believe that we need to bring the Arab world out of poverty before jihadists are stopped. And I think we need to make it clear that both attacking innocent citizens, and supporting those who do will result in the maximum penalty. Going after the individuals alone, cannot accomplish either of these goals. At the same time, it does help with the latter point. When it comes down to it, I suppose, I support Israel's decision to attack the leadership of a group who so vehemently targets its citizens.

Where's the Media?

This picture should be in every major newspaper. (courtesy of Lileks and Best of the Web)

LILEKS -- The Bleat

My brother linked to this at diet coke for breakfast already, but I think it really should be required reading. Enjoy.

Sunday, March 21, 2004

OpinionJournal - Extra: "The true problem with gay marriage is that it consigns gays to a life of mimicry and pathos. It shoehorns them into an institution that does not reflect the best possibilities of their own sexual orientation. Gay love is freed from the procreative burden. It has no natural function beyond adult fulfillment in love. If this is a disadvantage when children are desired, it is likely an advantage when they are not--which is more often the case. In any case, gays can never be more than pretenders to an institution so utterly grounded in procreation. And dressing gay marriage in a suit of civil rights only consigns gays to yet another kind of mimicry. Stigma, not segregation, is the problem gays face. But insisting on a civil rights framework only leads gays into protest. But will protest affect stigma? Is 'gay lovers as niggers' convincing? Protest is trying to hit the baseball with the glove."

An interesting thought, I hadn't considered. I'd recommend reading the whole thing, as it makes a good case as to why gay marriage is not a Civil Rights issue--an idea I agree with. This bit in particular grabbed me, though. It's an interesting idea that, while I think we should support gays' rights to marry if they so choose, they'll silly to want such inclusion. I need to let this marinate a bit further.

OpinionJournal - Best of the Web Today: "If there is any reason at all for patriotic Americans to consider voting for a man on the basis of his foreign endorsements, it is that he may be better able to persuade those leaders to act in accord with American interest. Zapatero's contemptuous attitude toward Kerry gives the lie to that argument. The new Spanish leader is unwilling to consider keeping his country's commitment to Iraq even though it would probably help Kerry politically."

Taranto is beginning to iritate me. I know he's a smart man, and very witty, but his analysis of everything important is so simplistic. Zapatero's comment, while I think it is dumb, is the only possible one. His party ran on the idea of leaving Iraq, and if they had won in an absence of the Madrid attacks, they would have behaved the same way. He can't suddenly change his mind to help a foreign politician win election.

At least he finally stopped that Eponymy. - Daily Dish: "THE JIHADISTS CELEBRATE: One group announces it will cease operations in Spain to reward Spanish voters for striking a blow against 'the axis of Crusader evil.' There's a catch, of course. Here's part of the statement: 'Because of this [electoral] decision, the leadership has decided to stop all operations within the Spanish territories... until we know the intentions of the new government that has promised to withdraw Spanish troops from Iraq. And we repeat this to all the brigades present in European lands: stop all operations.' They've learned something, haven't they? And if Zapatero doesn't withdraw from Iraq, Spain will be targeted again. "

And, if Zapatero does withdraw from Iraq, they won't strike again. Until they figure out something else they want. Wasn't If You Give a Mouse a Cookie ever translated into Spanish? Once they are trained that a big enough strike illicits the desired response,they'll use them again and again. I'm scared, if this trend continues.

I'm back in New Haven. I'll try to make a few posts before the day is out -- gotta get that viewing rate back up.