Wednesday, September 22, 2004
Traditional democratic targets: Economy, Jobs, Health Care, Education, Environment seem to have been abandoned in the last few weeks of the campaign.
Problem1: for Kerry is that everyone is focusing on the war and while the Economy, Jobs, HealthCare, and Education are not perceived to be wonderful, they are not terrible either. Environment might be the exception, but all the voters carry is going to get from that, he has already gotten. There does seem to be a surge in the adds targeted at African American voters which also might give gains.
Problem 2: Kerry has to spend so much of his political time explaining perceived or real flip-flops (some of which come from the Senate voting record that is not a good bell weather because of all the crap that can get attached to a bill on which you can't line item vote). The 15 or 30 second sound bites can only cover so much offense if your having to defend yourself. So he is basically limited to one offensive topic.
Opportunity 1: Since he is behind in the polls and the war is on everyones mind, if Kerry comes out saying that Bush is handling the war badly and something catastophic happens in Iraq between now and the election he can say "see, I told you so" and pick up some votes.
Opportunity 2: The press (perhaps not wrongly) tends to keep the president on the defensive on the progress on the war , so there is a synergesic (sp) effect when attacking the war that helps build Kerry's message.
Opportunity 3: The debate may offer up opportunities in bringing another issue or Bush gaffe to the forefront of the issues and make up for the limited type of attacks that Kerry is making now.
Monday, September 13, 2004
What I found funny about the comments is that a Liberal would call himself Shibboleth: a common saying or belief with little current meaning or truth. A word used by the Gileadites as a test to detect the fleeing Ephraimites, who could not pronounce the sound sh (Judges 12:4–6)]
Here is what timothy Noah from Slate said about it after confessing that he too rushed to judgment about the CBS documents:
The fact that the White House had sent the documents to me and to thousands of other reporters seemed to eliminate any possibility that they were fakes. (It turned out the White House was just passing along docs that it had received from ... 60 Minutes.) The only statement I can make in my defense is that the White House didn't seem to doubt their authenticity, either.
So, now they criticize the White House for being too open and free with info which might hurt the president? The White House made no judgment on the authenticity of the documents which contained the CBS fax header anyway. Perhaps, in retrospect, the White House should not have resent the docs to thousands of reporters without checking them out first. But, would they not have howled "coverup, secrecy!" I mean, that is what they charge anyway without any evidence.
kudos to Noah for realizing and saying that CBS in wrong here. But, he should not have tried to minimize his own mistakes-- and by implication the mistakes of other reporters.
unfortunately this moment of self-doubt was too short lived. Immediately after admitting that his knee jerk reactions were faulty he says:
Which brings us to a larger point. The documents were entirely consistent with everything that's already been established about President Bush's National Guard service. We know strings were pulled on his behalf to get in. We know that, for whatever reason, he wouldn't take a required physical.
These charges most clearly have not been established. That is why we are debating them. There were no strings pulled. There was along list of candidates for admission into the Guard, but there was not a long list of applicants who had qualified for Fighter Pilot Training. On the contrary. Further, how many times have you heard that Bush put in over 6 times the training hours required during his first year?
Note also the conspiratorial mind that leaps from "for whatever reason" to the conclusion that the reason is nefarious. Many Guardsman take months off with permission from their commander.
Finally, if mysterious documents show up years after reporters have been looking for them which prove everything that one side has been alleging the whole time, you are a fool if you don't think that it is too good to be true.
And they call conservatives arrogant!
[forgive the lack of citation: I am lazy]
Saturday, September 11, 2004
The Copenhagen Consensus project gathered 8 leading economists together and had them rank the world's problems in order of most bang for the buck:
Now this makes sense. Why are so many Liberals more concerned about phantom climate change than real humans suffering right now? It is not just wackos who are so confused either. National Geographic is on the crusade too. You'd think that with all their pictures of true human suffering they would be more prudent. Anyway, they too have the science all wrong. Here is what Patrick Michaels at Cato has to say about their Bangladesh story:It begins with a picture of a flooded rice field in Bangladesh, with the comment that "as global temperatures and sea level climbs [rice farming] becomes an ever more precarious means of support." In 2001, Cecile Cabanes calculated sea-level rise for the last half-century around the world. In Bangladesh, there was a net fall in the 1990s. In the last 50 years, it has risen there an infinitesimal seven-tenths of an inch, far too little for anyone to notice, in Bangladesh or anywhere else.
Now, there are people in Bangladesh suffering from malnutrition, malaria, etc. How can we spend billions on dubious climate protocols when we could spend millions on food and drug programs for millions of people facing clear and present dangers.
I know that many criticize the Copenhagen Project as biased since Bjorn Lomborg is the director. But that is really just ad hominem. Instead, they should focus on the work itself. They will not do this since their own claims are dubious. How do I know that the claims from the Left are dubious? Consider this.
Now the Democrats are renewing the old charge that Bush did not serve with honor either. Stupidly, some republicans (but not the Bush campaign) have answered this charge by pointing to the very record in question saying. "Bush received an Honorable Discharge." This too is an invalid argument and it is certainly hypocritical.
Of course, neither the Bush campaign, nor Bush himself, has questioned Kerry's service -- indeed Bush said that Kerry's service was more honorable than his own. Moreover, they have also accepted the Navy records validity. So, they are not being hypocritical here.
The difference is that Kerry has embraced the irrational and hypocritical. But then who is surprised that Bush is the more honorable man.
Right. "SUBJECT: CYA" I'm so sure!
Also, when was the last time you saw the military avoid an acronym?
Friday, September 10, 2004
However, the administration may have a good argument. Despite propaganda to the opposite, we are not occupiers. We are there to help the Iraqis. I think that letting the Iraqis themselves defeat the insurgents and actually win their own independence is a smart idea. As I have said before, people MUST earn their freedom. The "quagmire" may just be the necessary delay while we develop a capable Iraqi force.
There are now 95,000 equipped and trained Iraqi forces. By mid 2005 there will be over 200,000. (Rumsfeld). Isn't this better than adding US troops? Do you not think that the situation in Iraq will be dramatically different with nearly a quarter million Iraqi national troops doing the hard work?
Thursday, September 09, 2004
The Bad environmentalists are, of course, everywhere. They behave exactly like religious fundamentalists. They operate on the received truths and conveniently overlook it when the truths are changed. They refuse to debate these truths and ridicule dissenters. They are not, however, The Ugly. The Bad are trying to do the right thing. They have good intentions. They are just blind to reason. In fact, the Ugly often associate themselves with The Bad specifically to gain credibility.
The Ugly are the worst though. I'm sure, if you have dared to use your right of free speech to proffer an opposing view, you have received one of their holy scowls. I believe that the Ugly have only their own interests at heart. It makes them feel good about themselves. Think Streisand. Despite their wow factor, the celebrities are often the Ugly.
Anyway, afterwards has a brief piece describing the hypocrisy and irrationality of the Ugly environmentalists:
"[I]f were supposed to hate SUV owners for their vehicular fuel guzzling, shouldnt we also hate the drivers of the cars that glitzy celebrities like to see and be seen in? The little Ferrari Spider, for example, gets only 11 mpg in the city, and 16 on the highway. The Lamborghini Murcielago, another sexy runabout gets only 9 mpg in the city, and 13 on the highway. And then theres the Cadillac limo that stars like to tour around in (14/22), and what about the Bentleys (10/14)?
By the Numbers
Now, heres a bit of math that even Barbra Streisand might follow.
Scenario one: SUV villain John Q. Moviegoer wants to take his wife, his 2 kids, and their 2 friends to see Barbras latest movie. They pile in their Ford Expedition (15/19) and drive 2.5 miles to the theatre, and 2.5 miles home. How much fuel do they use? Lets assume its all city driving, so the 5 mile round trip consumes one-third of a gallon of gasoline. Now, there are 6 people in the SUV, and they travel 5 miles, so thats 30 person-miles of travel on a third of a gallon of gas. If they routinely drove the car with 6 people in it, that would make an average of 90 person-miles per gallon of gas.
Scenario two: Good, Honda Civic (29/38) owning citizen John Q. Moviegoer wants to take his wife, his 2 kids, and their 2 friends to see Barbras latest movie. Since they have too many people, they have to take two cars. Lets assume theyre both Civics. They drive 5 miles each, which is about 1/6 of a gallon of gas, but of course, there are two cars, so thats lookie there! One-third of a gallon of gas, same as the Expedition! Of course, with two cars instead of one, they increase traffic congestion; require two parking spots instead of one (increasing the need for larger parking lots and contributing to sprawl); are twice as likely to be involved in an accident (that risk is dependent on the number of vehicles and miles driven); pay more insurance; and are more likely to be hurt in a serious accident. Roughly the same amount of greenhouse gases are emitted in the two scenarios since thats a function of the amount of fuel used, but the traditional pollutant emissions are probably higher in the second scenario: those pollutants are mostly generated during the cold start and hot soak of an engine, and the Civic drivers are starting up and shutting down two engines rather than one.
Then theres scenario three, which well leave as an exercise for the student: Barbras friend Arianna wants to drive from her 9,000 square foot home in Brentwood with her newest beau and four children to watch Barbras movie in a private theatre at Babs old four-house, 32-acre compound in Malibu, so if they drive 15 miles each way, with one adult and two kids per Ferrari
Home is Where You...
Speaking of 9,000 square-foot homes greenhouse gas emissions are, first and foremost about energy use. Surely, thoughtful environmental advocates who urge us to think about life-cycle analysis and holistic frameworks when it comes to buying refrigerators arent unaware that their housing choices result in more energy use?Lets say that John Q. Moviegoer owns a 2,000 square foot house in the suburbs (the average for an American house, according to the National Association of Home Builders). According to the Rocky Mountain Institute, carbon dioxide emissions from his average US home, with 2.5 residents is about 11.6 tons per year. Arianna Huffington owns a 9,000 square foot home in Brentwood, which puts out at least 4.5 times the greenhouse gases of John Moviegoers house on an annual basis, but probably far more when you include the swimming pools, spas, and so forth."
Ok, so they may not be quite right about how much the Civic pollutes and the Bad often argue that we should all drive hybrid types which would pollute even less, still, the hypocrisy is astounding.
It is this kind of irrationality that discredits environmentalism. When applied to policy this religious environmentalism leads to stupid and unfair deals like the Kyoto protocol. If aBetterEarth and RMI wrote the protocols then they may have been supported by the US and we might have actually made worldwide progress.
Tuesday, September 07, 2004
The all time high under Bush is 6.3 %in 2003.
The high under Clinton (the golden age of economics) is 6.6% 1994.
Let's look at it another way. In the 4th year of each president's term, the rates have been between 5.1% and 5.7%.
But that rate for Bush is called a disaster, for Clinton, it's remembered as the care-free good old days,
Clinton didn't see the unemployment rate drop below 5% until his fifth year.
Clinton saw both a higher rate than bush ever did, and lower rates too (as low as 3.8% in 2000). But he didn't do any better than Bush in his first term.
Furthermore, Bush faced much greater challenges to the economy that Clinton did.
The corporate crimes that have been investigated, and are being prosecuted during the Bush administration, were committed during the Clinton administration. These scandals rocked investor confidence. Where was Clinton's Justice dept on this? Bush's justice dept has convicted Andersen (Enron's accounting firm) and Martha Stewart (who needs no introduction).
There was a recession that followed the tech-stock bubble burst. How is Bush to blame for that?
Of course, it hardly needs mentioning that the 911 attacks were devastating to the market.
So in the face of all this, the Left considers Bush un-re-electable because he hasn't stimulated job growth "fast enough". If we judged Clinton as harshly at the end of his first term, our President these last 4 years would have been Bob Dole.
Sunday, September 05, 2004
This is a sincere request. I'm not pretending that it wouldn't be better to have France Russia, and Germany (FRnG) with us. I wouldn't argue if people said that Bush didn't obtain the best possible coalition.
As far as that goes, what would it take to get them on our side? I think FRnG have as much to gain in the war against terrorism as those in the coalition. So if that is not compelling to them, than what would it take to buy their support? What will Kerry give them in exchange for the lives of the soldiers they would send?
Whatever it is, it would have to be of great value. But I digress. What I want to know is this: Why is the coalition inadequate? Why is a coalition not a coalition w/o FRnG? What if RnG joined us, but not F?
On Meet the Press today, Tim Russert asked Carville what he thought of Zell Miller's speech at the Republican Convention. Carville said that it was a shame what the Republicans did to that good man.
What there is here that is crucial is that Carville and Zell go way back . . .as friends. Carville worked for Zell when he ran for the governorship of Georgia. Zell officiated at Carville's wedding to Mary Matlin. Zell Miller and James Carville are (or at least were) friends. Does a friend portray you as a doddering old tool of the enemy?
Maybe all's fair (and forgiven) at the end of the political day. Maybe people in this field have an understanding that the ugliness aired on TV doesn't touch personal relationships. After all, Carville's wife is also his political enemy.
Now in my personal experience, extreme differences in political opinion can create some dramatic tensions in personal relationships. How do Carville and Matlin share a home? How can Zell not have hard feelings when his "friend" Carville, paints him as a poor, sweet, old fool?
Maybe Carville thought he'd soften the blow by claiming Carl Rove wrote the speech. Matlin says Zell wrote his own speech. Would Carville go so far as to call his wife a liar? Zell says he wrote his own speech. Would he say that Zell is a liar?
I submit that Carville is a liar. He lied about Rove writing Zell's speech. He had no idea who wrote that speech, but he said it anyway. It is my opinion that if Carville believed half of what he says, he wouldn't be able to keep the company he keeps. Mary Matalin and Zell Miller are people of passion and conviction. Carville is a salesman.
"...where former military coup meister Hugo Chavez won an overwhelming presidential victory and promptly closed Congress and threw out the constitution." Reason Aug/Sep
"Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez has been running an authoritarian regime. By various means he has taken control of the legislature, the courts, the armed services and the police. His thugs have been intimidating and even killing the regime's opponents. The literature on this is voluminous ... he has shown no commitment to democratic principles. He sought to block the referendum by extralegal means and, having failed at that, resorted to intimidation to win it. There is no reason to believe that he would stop at election fraud." US News.com Barone
"As noted here last week there is a lot of worry about the potential for government fraud in the recall vote. Those concerns have increased as Mr. Chavez has sharply limited the number of international election observers allowed in the county. He is also harassing Sumate, an important Venezuelan civic group, seeking to monitor the vote.
Of course, there will be other "observers." As Miami Herald columnist Andres Oppenheimer noted on last week: "Among the 98 personalities [Mr. Chavez] has invited to 'monitor' the election is Hebe de Bonafini, the leader of the ultra-leftist wing of Argentina's Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, a self-proclaimed human rights activist who in 2001 publicly expressed her 'happiness' about the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the United States." Aug 15 OpinionJournal
"One weapon against [election] fraud is the exit poll. As Doug Schoen of Penn Schoen points out, his firm has conducted exit polls in Mexico and, just a few days ago, in the Dominican Republic, which produced results very close to the election results. His partner Mark Penn points out that the firm conducted two previous exit polls in Venezuela, both of which were on the mark....
Jimmy Carter did not remain in Venezuela long after the polling and, after a superficial look at the central counting center, pronounced the election fair and the result accurate. He could not have determined whether the counting computer was misprogrammed. Chavez had every motive for cheating: polls before the election mostly showed him under 50 percent, and he should have reasonably concluded that those not for him were against. Adjusting the count was one sure way to win.By way of comparison, Penn Schoen has no motive whatever for cheating. It is a reputable American firm in a competitive business. Over more than 20 years it has worked for successful American politicians like Bill Clinton in 1996, Hillary Rodham Clinton in 2001, Michael Bloomberg in 2001 and many others." US News.com Barone
"The [voting] machines themselves were supplied and programmed by Chavez insiders at a heavy cost to the Venezuelan state. Tellingly, they are not even voting machines. Produced by Italy's Olivetti for use as lottery terminals, they were sold to a shady government-connected outfit called Smartmatic who doubled the price and immediately resold them to the Venezuelan taxpayers for use in the recall referendum.
This was Smartmatic's first-ever involvement in electronic election machines. At the time of the deal, the company's largest shareholder was the Chavez government itself. No outside auditing of the election software has so far been effectively concluded." Johan Freitas
Of course, there are supporters of Chavez who argue that the recall referendum itself was rigged: click here to see it. I should point out that thanks to Chavez many of the Venezuelans who wanted to remove Chavez were illiterate. Still, I don't feel that, given the NYT and Carter endoresments of Castro...er, I mean Chavez, that case needs to be made by me.
As usual, it is freedom that finds itself under attack.
Saturday, September 04, 2004
Lib: You're not a Bush fan, are you?"
Me: Well, yes, yes I am. That is, I'm going to vote for him. I'm a conservative. But I can take a joke.
Lib: (With an alarmed expression) How could you? Don't you know he wants to take away all our rights?
Me: (Astonished, wondering if she's referring to the PATRIOT Act) What do you mean?
Lib: I mean, he wants to take away our right to choose. He wants to keep Gays from marrying.
Me: First of all, he can't himself reverse Roe v Wade. Secondly, (interrupted)
Lib: No, but he'll appoint judges to do it. You know he'll only appoint ones who agree with him.
Me: He can only nominate judges (of course she knows this), congress has to pass them. The senate has fillibustered all the very consequential nominees. One guy (at the time I couldn't remember it was Estrada) was blocked for not providing the committee with his likely future judgements.
Me: Also, I don't oppose gay marriage, I just think Bush is a superior leader.
Lib: So you don't think a woman should have the right to choose.
Me: I think a fetus is a human life and should be treated as such. There are instances in which it is reasonable and legal to take a life.
Lib: Well I guess I just don't feel that way.
Me: Well I don't think life and death should rest on how you "feel".
Me: Look. I do think both parties want what they think is best for the people of this country, we just disagree on how to achieve it.
Lib: (Looking away, silent)
Me: Well, let's see those cards. I can take a joke.
Lib: Yeah, I liked Clinton, but I laughed at those jokes.
So, that was it. I haven't seen her again at work yet. During the conversation, she said she saw Republicans as arrogant. She said they don't discuss issues, they just go negative on Kerry. She couldn't think of any examples of Democrats going negative on Bush. I suggested that each of us may be more sensitive to the attacks against our own side. She did not concede that point.
In every other encounter, I've found this person to be pleasant. But for some reason, she felt compelled to attack me for my political affilliation. She thinks Republicans are arrogant, but she is the one who is appalled that some one disagrees with her views. Still, I'm haunted by the notion that somehow she may think I attacked her. I hope instead that she reflects honestly on our conversation and whether she represents the "party of tolerance". In my general experience, she represents it perfectly.
Recently, Chris Matthews interviewed Michelle Malkin on MSNC's Hardball. Malkin's role in the interview was to comment on the accusations made in the book, Unfit for Command. Malkin noted that the authors raised the question regarding whether some of John Kerry's war wounds were self-inflicted. Chris Matthews then demanded a "yes" or "no" from Malkin regarding if Kerry had "shot himself on purpose".
First, the accusation against Kerry did not come from Malkin. Second, the accusation was of self inflicted wounding, not Kerry shooting himself. These are important distinctions. Obviously, it was Matthew's intention to make Malkin look like a liar now, or for future use, her as a liar for future use.
Now fast forward to Matthew's interview with Zell Miller after Zell's speech at the Republican convention. Zell seemed quite hostile with Chris, and to be honest, I cringed a little. . . at first. Then I heard Zell tell Chris he wouldn't be treated as "that girl" had. Wouldn't you be hostile if you expected a very disingenuous pundit to twist your words as aggregiously as Matthews had twisted Malkin's ? To make matters worse, Matthews repeated to Zell that Malkin claimed Kerry had shot himself. There's no way he was not aware of his false statement. He's either stupid, or he's a liar, and he's definitely not stupid.
Friday, September 03, 2004
The problem is that he would not know evidence if it entered his lungs and killed him. He cited the 9/11 report on Washington Journal today as his evidence that Saddam had no WMDs and that Iraq has "nothing whatsoever to do with terrorism. Well, guess what? I am reading the 9/11 report and have found plenty to contradict him.
The report is one of those raw evidence pieces that expose liberals for who they are. Yes, it is true that we have not yet found stockpiles of WMDs. But we have found some scary missiles. More importantly, the Report says two things:
1) There were plenty of meetings between Iraq leaders and Al-Qaida leaders. We do not know the content, nor do we know the results of these meetings. We have no evidence that the relationship was collaborative. Many experts believe that it was not. However, ask yourself this: why were there multiple meetings? I mean if Iraq and Al-Qaida did not feel positively toward each other in some way, why did they have these leadership meetings? I suppose we could say that they just wanted to make sure that they still did not agree. But, that would be irresponsible, no? Indeed, the fact that we do not know the nature of the relationship is precisely what should concern us. It is not like Al-Qaida was meeting with Tony Blair, whom we trust implicitly on these matters. These meetings are not enough to go to war, but they occur along with many other reasons. It was the totality of concerns that overwhelmed and forced us to enforce the UN resolutions. Anyway, here is what the report actually says:
"There is also evidence that around this time  Bin Ladin sent out a number of feelers to the Iraqi regime, offering some cooperation. None are reported to have received a significant response. According to one report, Saddam Hussein's efforts at this time to rebuild relations with the Saudis and other middle Eastern regimes led him to stay clear of Bin Ladin.
In mid-1998, the situation reversed; it was Iraq that reportedly took the initiative ...
Similar meetings between Iraqi officials and Bin Ladin or his aides may have occurred in 1999 during a period of some reported strains with the Taliban. According to the reporting, Iraqi officials offered Bin Ladin a safe haven in Iraq ... But to date we have seen no evidence that these or the earlier contacts ever developed into a collaborative operational relationship. Nor have we seen evidence indicating that Iraq cooperated with Al-Qaida in developing or carrying out any attacks against the United States." Page 66
You see Alterman and others read the last two lines and promptly forgot everything else. It is factually false that Iraq had "nothing whatsoever to do with terrorism." It is also important to note that for years we have know that Iraqi intelligence is very good at being secretive. The media was duped by them for years and our own agencies have been unable to penetrate Iraqi secrets. So, consider these premises:
a) the report says that there were meetings between Iraq and al Qaida
b) Iraq supported Palestinian terrorism and allowed terrorist training camps and more
c) we have no conclusive evidence concerning the Iraq/al Qaida relationship either way,
Conclusion: It is unreasonable to say definitively that Iraq and Al-Qaida were not collaborative. We can say that we have no conclusive evidence. Admittedly, it is impossible for Liberals to prove the negative. That is why we have to make reasonable judgments. Aristotle was right to exclude logic from politics and human affairs. We can use logic to help us, but in the end, it can not be the deciding factor since people rarely yield the totality of their existence to science the way that a rock does.
2) There is also a very suggestive passage in the report which has been ignored by virtually everyone. We had an indictment against Bin Ladin in 1998:
"The indictment also charged that al Qaida had allied itself with Sudan, Iran and Hezbollah. The original sealed indictment had added that al Qaida had 'reached an understanding with the government of Iraq that al Qaida would not work against that government and that on particular projects, specifically including weapons development, al Qaida would work cooperatively with the government of Iraq.' This passage led Clarke, who for years had read intelligence reports on Iraqi-Sudanese cooperation on chemical weapons, to speculate to Berger that a large Iraqi presence at chemical facilities in Khartoum was 'probably a direct result of the Iraq-al Qaida agreement.' Clarke added that VS precursor traces found near al Shifa were 'the exact formula used by Iraq.' This language.. was dropped, however, when a superseding indictment was filed in November, 1998." page 128
Now, we do not know why this info was left out of the second indictment. It would be wrong for us to impute a reason. There may have been a legal reason which does not impugn the veracity of the evidence. (The Report does not impugn it either.) We have to assign this evidence it due merit. It is suggestive and threatening, but not conclusive. As above we have to use our judgment and a prudent concern for national strategy to evaluate the totality of the situation.
What we learned from 9/11 is precisely that we undervalued this kind of intelligence and under emphasized national security. As Bush has said since, the most important job of the president is and indeed government as a whole is national security.
Eric Alterman has not learned this lesson. Dennis Miller did. So did many other former Liberals. Zell Miller (no relation) was and is a lifelong Democrat. (He was never a Liberal.) His speech at the RNC Convention was a scathing indictment of the Left for not learning this lesson. Alterman's avowed Liberalism and clearly biased judgment leads him to ignore evidence and reach stupid conclusions.