Friday, October 15, 2004

Yet another stupid headline from the YDN
My first ever YDN column is up, under the stupid headline yaledailynews.com - Bush stances level-headed, not simpleminded. Sure, it describes my basic point, but still... I don't know, it makes me sound simple-minded.

Why this country needs Bush
I'll be the first to admit that W has not exactly lived up to the expectations of the small-government conservatives. However, OpinionJournal has two pieces, here and here, about why Bush is the man to lead this nation into the new economy. Read on, dear readers.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Debate
I have many comments on the debate, but I'm writing a column for the YDN on the sames subject, so, once I get that out of the way, I'll post my general thoughts up here.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Absolutely Despicable
Tennessee Democrats Compare Republicans To Special Olympics Competitors, and in a horribly offensive way: "Democrats in a race for a state House seat in District 82, are circulating a flyer that shows a retarded child with President Bush�s face running in a track race. The headline says: 'Voting for Bush Is Like Running In The Special Olympics: Even If You Win, You're Still Retarded.'"

Apparently, some candidates aren't willing to draw any line of decency...

What a quagmire...
Keith posts some information that reveals the real side of Iraq. And, by the way, it's NOT a sign of quagmire.

UPDATE [10/13/2004 - 15:39]: Glenn Reynolds posts more along these lines, exaggerating on how Fallugans are nearing the point of "enough is enough."

Monday, October 11, 2004

September 10, 2001
The question is: do we really want to go back there?
Lileks has a great post today. After some cute vignettes of his family life, and an interesting discussion of the 1930s memoires written by a German Jew that he is currently reading, he digs into the meat.

Beginning with an analysis of the true opinions of John Edwards, he digs up a nice little interview:

"Let's roll tape: Hardball, Oct 15 2003.[...]

MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about-Since you did support the resolution and you did support that ultimate solution to go into combat and to take over that government and occupy that country. Do you think that you, as a United States Senator, got the straight story from the Bush administration on this war? On the need for the war? Did you get the straight story?

EDWARDS: Well, the first thing I should say is I take responsibility for my vote. Period. And I did what I did based upon a belief, Chris, that Saddam Hussein's potential for getting nuclear capability was what created the threat. That was always the focus of my concern. Still is the focus of my concern.

So did I get misled? No. I didn't get misled.

...

MATTHEWS: If you knew last October when you had to cast an aye or nay vote for this war, that we would be unable to find weapons of mass destruction after all these months there, would you still have supported the war?


EDWARDS: It wouldn't change my views. I said before, I think that the threat here was a unique threat. It was Saddam Hussein, the potential for Saddam getting nuclear weapons, given his history and the fact that he started the war before.
I'm not saying Edwards is right, or has some uncanny judgment that would make him a fabulous president. You can either read this as someone who has no convictions and says what he thinks the climate requires, or someone who correctly apprehended the facts as they were generally understood. If it's the former, well, there you have it. Sen. Hairdo McWindvane, Esq. If it's the latter, then please shut up about the whole 'misleading' thing, because those of us who remember the 90s - the inspections, the Tomahawk strikes in the wag-the-dog phase, the standard assertions of incontrovertible links between Saddam and Al-Qaeda, and the rest - know that Edwards was saying what everyone was saying."

From this, after a brief aside, Lileks digs into Kerry from the point of an interview he gave:

"Finally, this from the NYT, ably dissected by the Volohkians:
When I asked Kerry what it would take for Americans to feel safe again, he displayed a much less apocalyptic worldview. 'We have to get back to the place we were, where terrorists are not the focus of our lives, but they're a nuisance,' Kerry said. 'As a former law-enforcement person, I know we're never going to end prostitution. We're never going to end illegal gambling. But we're going to reduce it, organized crime, to a level where it isn't on the rise. It isn't threatening people's lives every day, and fundamentally, it's something that you continue to fight, but it's not threatening the fabric of your life.'
Tony Soprano doesn't take over schools and shoot kids in the back. The doxies of the Bunny Ranch don't train at flight schools to ram brothels into skyscrapers.

A
nuisance?

A nuisance? I don't want the definition of success of terrorism to be 'it isn't on the rise.' I want the definition of success to be 'free democratic states in the Middle East and the cessation of support of those governments and fascist states we haven’t gotten around to kicking in the ass yet.' I want the definition of success to mean a free Lebanon and free Iran and a Saudi Arabia that realizes there's no point in funding the fundies. An Egypt that stops pouring out the Jew-hatred as a form of political novacaine to keep the citizens from turning their ire on their own government. I want the definition of success to mean that Europe takes a stand against the Islamicist radicals in their midst before the Wahabbi poison is the only acceptable strain on the continent. Mosquito bites are a nuisance. Cable outages are a nuisance. Someone shooting up a school in Montana or California or Maine on behalf of the brave martyrs of Fallujah isn't a nuisance. It's war.

But that's not the key phrase. This matters:
We have to get back to the place we were.

But when we were there we were blind. When we were there we [were] losing. When we were there we died.
We have to get back to the place we were. We have to get back to 9/10? We have to get back to the place we were. So we can go through it all again? We have to get back to the place we were. And forget all we've learned and done? We have to get back to the place we were. No. I don't want to go back there. Planes into towers. That changed the terms. I am remarkably disinterested in returning to a place where such things are unimaginable. Where our nigh[t]mares are their dreams.

We have to get back to the place we were.

No. We have to go the place where they are."


Lileks, as usual, is exactly right on this one. Sure, life was simpler when we didn't realize the true threat that terrorism poses for everyone. We were happier when we didn't have to have massive security at every public event, for fear of someone sneaking in with a backpack full of radioactive, biological, or chemical material. It would be nice to be able to live in that ignorance again, but do we really want to? With all that we know now, do we want to simply put the terrorists into remission?

Well, maybe some people do, but I'd rather make terrorism an impossible strategy. How? Again, Lileks hits the nail on the head: we have to create free democracies in the places that spawn terrorism, and we have to remove the willingness of states who would like to sponsor its results.

Yes, in the short run we'll upset a portion of the Middle East, and yes, we may even chase a few more recruits to OBL's cause. But did anyone notice the elections that passed this week in Afghanistan?
"'We don't have numbers have yet, but there was a massive amount of voters and a great deal of enthusiasm,' Manoel de Almeida e Silva said by telephone from Kabul, the Afghan capital. A preliminary count may be ready within two days, and a total count may take up to three weeks, he said."

These people want freedom, and are willing to work for it. These elections will only strengthen the central government, and as that government grows stronger, can you honestly doubt that they will also strengthen their ability to seek out and prosecute the new recruits to terrorist camps? Terrorism no longer has a safe home in Afghanistan. It will eventually be forced out of Iraq under similar, although more trying, circumstances. These two democracies will then join our fight against worldwide terrorism from right in the thick of it. Can you question the value of this in our ability to eradicate the threat, or make it so incredibly slight that our homeland defense efforts will be able to catch the rare attempts on our safety?

As I've said before, this is not a fight of revenge. We are not pursuing the perpetrators of 9/11, as Senator Kerry would like us to believe; we are trying to prevent anyone from even considering another such attack, or, at the very least, from thinking themselves capable of pulling one off.

Do we really want to return to that 9/10 mindset, where terrorism was a mere nuisance? Or do we want to progress to where terrorism really is a harmless gnat that we only need to swat at every once in a while?

It seems clear to me that Senator Kerry prefers the former, if only to contradict President Bush, while logic demands the latter.

UPDATE [10/11/2004 - 4:52]: Andrew Sullivan addresses similar issues today, seemingly coming down in favor of Kerry. To be fair, he begins with this "Quote of the Day": "'Yesterday was a huge defeat for the Taliban. The Taliban didn't show,' - Lt. Gen. David Barno, commander of U.S. troops in Afghanistan. Yep, democracy is to the theocrats and terrorists what light is to darkness. And it's worth repeating again and again: without the United States, Afghans would still be laboring under an unspeakable terrorist-controlled tyranny. Whatever happens in America's own election, no one can ever take this legacy away from this president."

And continues: "One of the central questions in this election is simply: can John Kerry be trusted to fight the war on terror? Worrying about this is what keeps me from making the jump to supporting him."

Unfortunately, he takes this in a direction seems to belie any such hesitation to support Kerry. He proposes a schema of Bush as the bad cop, with the need for Kerry to enter as the good cop by prosecuting the War on Terror by other means. He concludes:
"The major objection to this, of course, is that Kerry simply cannot be trusted. He won't simply change tactics in the war; he'll change direction. His long record of appeasing America's enemies certainly suggests as much. And I don't blame anyone who thinks that's enough evidence and votes for Bush as a result. But it behooves fair-minded people also to listen to what Kerry has actually said in this campaign: that he won't relent against terrorism. He isn't Howard Dean. And 9/11 has changed things - even within the Democratic party. Moreover, the war on terror, if we are going to succeed in the long run, has to be a bipartisan affair. By far the most worrying legacy of the Bush years is the sense that this is a Republican war: that one party owns it and that our partisan battles will define it. Simply put: that's bad for the country and bad for the war. Electing Kerry would force the Democrats to take responsibility for a war that is theirs' as well. It would deny the Deaniac-Mooreish wing a perpetual chance to whine and pretend that we are not threatened, or to entertain such excrescences as the notion that president Bush is as big a threat as al Qaeda or Saddam. It would call their bluff and force the Democrats to get serious again about defending this country. Maybe I'm naive in hoping this could happen. But it is not an inappropriate hope. And it is offered in the broader belief that we can win this war - united rather than divided."
Sullivan, it seems, has not read the NYT piece mentioned above, or the Volokh analysis of Kerry's statements (linked to within the Lileks excerpt). He's right that hope has its place, and could even lead to falling for Kerry's claims, but such hope can also be dangerous. Kerry, I think, really is worried about international opinion, which can only take away from his commitment to do whatever is necessary to safeguard these United States. He believes that a mix of pandering to the international community and acting in our own self-interest is the only way to go, and the best route to this is by prosecuting the War on Terror as a law enforcement project. (How else, I ask, can you interpret his statements to the NYT?). Sullivan points out that regime change is the way to win this fight ("Bush rightly shifted our direction toward regime change rather than police work, something long overdue."), but proceeds to ask: "If that truly is the major task of the next few years, wouldn't it be better to have people who have experience in nation-building and who actually believe in it (like Holbrooke), rather than people like Rummy and Cheney who clearly disdain it and keep under-funding and under-manning it?"

In theory, this is a good point. In practice, however, it's not Kerry's policy. Or maybe it is. And that's the point. The accusations of flip-flopping are not criticisms of Kerry's right to change his mind. He's right to point out that W had a progression of decisions in seeking UN approval before invading Iraq (first no, then ok, then maybe, then no again), but that's not the same thing as what Kerry is doing. He is representing himself one day as a man who would pursue nation-building similar to the current policy, but with international support, and the next he supports a law enforcement solution in an interview with the NYT. And the public is left not-knowing what Kerry believes, left to pick and choose from his statements to form a coherent policy. The optimists, like Sullivan, decide to hope that Kerry can lead us in a good direction. The skeptics, like myself, fear that a man who cannot take a firm stand will lead us into disaster: in the best case scenario, he'll be firm, and maybe fail; in the worst, he'll absolutely fail to take a stand and we'll end up with another 9/11. I'm just not willing to take the risk.

The Death of Superman
CNN.com - 'Superman' star Christopher Reeve dead at 52: "Christopher Reeve, the star of the 'Superman' movies whose near-fatal riding accident nine years ago turned him into a worldwide advocate for spinal cord research, died Sunday of heart failure, his publicist said. He was 52."

This is a tragedy for the world, and the final loss of a great actor, and a phenomenal human being. My heart goes out to fellow Yalie Alex, and the rest of the Reeve family.