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On Second Thought
Friday, October 1, 2004
Last night, I thought the debate was a serious blow to Bush. This morning, as the smoke clears, I see little damage done at all.
The prediction markets have barely twitched; the media spin basically calls it a tie; the polls, early as the are, seem largely unchanged.
I'm not going to argue with that. Sometimes, I like to be wrong.
I thought it would be fun to make a list of the specific things that Kerry said which particularly annoyed me. There was that whole thing about Iran, of course, but we also have:
Kyoto. Kerry bashed Bush for defying our allies on this essential international treaty... and Kerry voted against it himself! Bush should have served him his head on a platter after that one.
How about Kerry's solution to the nuclear proliferation? Let's stop building our nuclear bunker-busters, because we want North Korea to stop building their nuclear weapons, and, you know, it's kind of hypocritical for us to have weapons that they don't. What better way to influence the North Koreans that to unilaterally disarm, and set a good example?
I wanted to pound my head on the floor after I heard that.
(Speaking of North Korea... I cannot even imagine why Kerry was pushing so hard to cut China out of the talks. China is our only leverage there. What the hell was he thinking?)
Then we have Kerry's assertion that the hunt for Bin Ladin is the central front in the War On Terror. Yeah, like all of us will be safe in our beds once that one guy is dead. Here's a hint, pal - we're fighting a war against a global enemy, not conducting a criminal investigation.
Finally, I couldn't believe he had the nerve to call Iraq a colossal misjudgment, and then, within seconds, agree that we were all safer as a result. My call? We need more misjudgments like that, just as soon as possible.
Back In The Race
Thursday, September 30, 2004
Gotta call it as I see it, kids: Kerry looked terrific in the debates tonight, and Bush just looked like crap. If the polls don't close within three days, I'll be shocked.
Keep in mind, you're talking to a guy who disagreed with just about every substantial thing John Kerry said. Nonetheless, he sure looked good saying it - decisive, intelligent, thoughtful, and quick. For a lot of folks, that impression is going to matter much more to them that the substance of his words. Kerry had it tonight, hands down.
Bush stammered and hesitated, sounding more defensive than presidential; he continually repeated the same tired lines of attack without taking the offensive against his opponent.
As I had both predicted and hoped, Kerry actually admitted to his earlier plan for giving nuclear fuel to Iran, and said he'd contain their emerging arsenal with nothing more than sanctions and talk. He even sweetened the pot by stating that nuclear proliferation was the greatest threat to the security of the United States.
Bush let him get away with it. He should have killed him with it, right there, but he let the opportunity slip away.
Kerry is back in the race, and kids, it's going to be a close one. The whole contest changed tonight, just like that.
Wanna See Who's Going To Win The Election?
Wednesday, September 29, 2004
Watch the first debate. If Kerry does really well, he's still got a pretty good shot. If he screws it up, or even if he just manages a tie, he's toast.
Here's a taste of what's coming, from a recent Kerry speech [via Powerline]. This is great stuff:
"I begin with this belief: The war on terror is as monumental a struggle as the Cold War. Its outcome will determine whether we and our children live in freedom or in fear. It is not, as some people think, a clash of civilizations. Radical Islamic fundamentalism is not the true face of Islam. This is a clash between civilization and the enemies of civilization; between humanity's best hopes and most primitive fears. The danger we face today will become even greater if the terrorists acquire what we know they are seeking - weapons of mass destruction, which they would use to commit mass murder. We are confronting an enemy and an ideology that must be destroyed. We are in a war that must be won."
"[...] I will wage this war relentlessly with a single-minded determination: to capture or kill the terrorists, crush their movement and free the world from fear. To destroy our enemy, we have to know our enemy. We have to understand that we are facing a radical fundamentalist movement with global reach and a very specific plan. They are not just out to kill us for the sake of killing us. They want to provoke a conflict that will radicalize the people of the Muslim world, turning them against the United States and the West. And they hope to transform that anger into a force that will topple the region's governments and pave the way for a new empire, an oppressive, fundamentalist superstate stretching across a vast area from Europe to Africa, from the Middle East to Central Asia."
Seriously, this is terrific. I love this stuff.
Kerry is quite clear that our little disagreement with radical Islam is not about our policies toward Israel, it's not something that can be negotiated, and it's not something that can be handled as a law enforcement problem.
It is a war with an enemy that wants to destroy us, and who must be destroyed. This enemy must not be allowed to obtain weapons of mass destruction. The future of the free world is, literally, at stake.
Kerry is going to come at Bush with this stuff and it's going to sound great. And Bush is going to eviscerate him.
Let's start with Iran, that charter member of the Axis Of Evil. Iran represents an emerging front in this global war, because Iran is building their very own weapon of mass destruction - an arsenal of nuclear bombs. Once they succeed, it's going to be very hard to take them away.
Direct military action against a nuclear power is serious business, something which has never been attempted before. It does not take long for even the average citizen to calculate these sorts of odds.
Bush has been pretty clear about Iran. A recent interview with Bill O'Reilly - which I am quoting, imperfectly, from memory - went something like this:
O'Reilly: "So, what about those Iranian nukes, huh?"
Bush: "I sure would like to solve this diplomatically, but nothing has been ruled out. Military action is still on the table."
O'Reilly: "So, no matter what, they are not getting their nukes, right?"
One way or another, Bush says that he will not allow Iran to complete their nuclear weapons. I believe him. So do most of you.
Kerry's position has been somewhat less direct. A few weeks back he suggested that we give Iran all the nuclear fuel they want in exchange for a promise to halt weapons development. He seems to have abandoned that position now, but touched upon the topic of Iran again in that very same speech I quoted above:
"I will make it clear to Iran that we will lead an international effort to impose tough sanctions if they do not permanently suspend their uranium enrichment program and provide verifiable assurances that they are not developing nuclear weapons."
You hear that? If they don't stop, then Kerry is going to the UN, and he's going to get sanctions against them. Tough sanctions.
You remember sanctions, don't you? The kind we had for 12 years against Iraq? The kind that weren't given enough time to work? Remember?
Forgive me if I repeat myself, but once our Iranian friends build their bombs, it's going to be very hard to take them away. We don't have the luxury of waiting to see if the sanctions will work. In this case, using sanctions as the primary means of containing Iran's nuclear program is a genuinely stupid idea.
I would not want to be the guy defending this idea on national television.
"I said at the time I would have preferred if we had given diplomacy a greater opportunity, but I think it was the right decision to disarm Saddam Hussein, and when the President made the decision, I supported him, and I support the fact that we did disarm him." [May 3, 03]
"Those who doubted whether Iraq or the world would be better off without Saddam Hussein and those who believe today that we are not safer with his capture don't have the judgment to be president or the credibility to be elected president." [December 20]
Kerry said each of these things, all during the campaign. Going into Iraq was the right idea - it made America safer, and advanced our cause in the War On Terror.
Was he really serious?
"The invasion of Iraq was a profound diversion from the battle against our greatest enemy - Al Qaeda -- which killed more than three thousand people on 9/11 and which still plots our destruction today. And there's just no question about it: the President's misjudgment, miscalculation and mismanagement of the war in Iraq all make the war on terror harder to win." [last week]
"President Bush tells us that he would do everything all over again, the same way. How can he possibly be serious? Is he really saying that if we knew there were no imminent threat, no weapons of mass destruction, no ties to Al Qaeda, the United States should have invaded Iraq? My answer is no - because a Commander-in-Chief's first responsibility is to make a wise and responsible decision to keep America safe." [a few days earlier]
I guess not.
I'll quote, one last time, from Kerry's wonderful speech:
Well? Was he serious this time?
How much are you willing to bet?
Important Message For Firefox and Thunderbird Users
Sunday, September 19, 2004
Serious security problems have been discovered in each of these programs, and both should be updated to the latest versions. If you are running anything older than version Firefox 1.0PR or Thunderbird 8.0, upgrade now.
These are both pre-release programs, and the upgrade path is a little awkward. I'll tell you exactly how I did it on my XP machine in the hope that it makes your job as easy as possible.
The good news is, the whole process proved to be quite painless and reasonably free of surprises.
(For those of you who do not know what I am talking about, Firefox is an outstanding replacement for Internet Explorer, and Thunderbird is a safer, acceptable substitute for Outlook Express. I've been using both of these programs for a while now and I am quite fond of them).
Here's the key bit from the release notes:
It should not be necessary to create a new profile when you upgrade from a previous version of Firefox providing you do disable all extensions from the prior version before upgrading. To do this, open the old version and open Tools:Options and click the Extensions panel. Click on each of the extensions listed and choose Disable Extension. Click OK to close the Options window. Now it is safe to install Firefox.
Once you have installed Firefox, check to see if there are new versions of all of your extensions that are compatible with the new version, and install them. In the future this process may be automated.
Here's what happened:
First, I opened extension manager and disabled all the extensions, one at a time. For some reason, DOM Inspector could not be disabled, so I left it alone. (My other extensions are Sage, Googlebar, AdBlock, BugMeNot, Checky, SpellBound, CopyPlainText, OpenLongURL, Linkification, and TargetAlert).
Then I ran the installer. Of all my extensions, only Adblock and Googlebar could be updated to work in the new version, but happily, all my other settings, bookmarks, and everything else was carried over effortlessly. Easy as pie.
In my limited use so far, I do see a significant performance improvement. The old, irritating habit of occasionally failing to open a requested page seems to be a thing of the past.
I'm very, very happy.
Here's the key bit from the release notes:
Upgraders: DO NOT install Mozilla Thunderbird into a directory containing program files from a previous version. Overwriting files from a previous release WILL cause problems. To re-use the directory of a previous install, the directory must be deleted and recreated, emptied, moved, or renamed. You should not file bugs in Bugzilla if you choose to ignore this step.
The program directory does not contain profile information; any existing accounts, account settings, options, e-mail, and news messages will remain intact. This release does not require changes to your profile to function properly.
Here's what happened:
First, I used XPs Add/Remove Programs control panel to delete the old installation, including the folder c:/program files/mozilla/thunderbird. Then I ran the installer.
Flawless. Perfect. Nothing lost, no surprises.
These are better programs than most people realise, and they are getting better all the time. I'll never use Internet Explorer again.
In Fairness To Kerry
Tuesday, September 14, 2004
John Kerry earned his Silver Star by killing a Viet Cong who had tried to fire an RPG at his boat. Some critics have attacked Kerry for this, berating him for shooting a fleeing, wounded teenager in the back.
Let's cut through the crap and get clear about something. In military circles, they have a word for that sort of thing: A Good Shot.
Shooting at a fleeing enemy in a combat zone is hardly prohibited - quite to the contrary, this sort of thing is strongly encouraged whenever possible. Fleeing is not the same as surrendering. Nobody gets a free pass so they can run from one fighting position to another, even if they've already been hit.
Teenagers enjoy no special protections, either. If I recall correctly, a slight majority of our own soldiers in Vietnam were in their teens, and we had little expectation that the enemy would refrain from returning their fire in deference to their tender age.
Some of the people making these accusations were soldiers once themselves, and they should know better.
Commenter SabreSix says that the average age of a US soldier in Vietnam was not 19, as is often claimed. I tried to run this down and found a lot of conflicting information with nothing definitive to fall back on.
Unlike CBS, I do try to maintain some level of factual accuracy here... if anybody has a definitive source for this data, please let me know. Thanks.
Update: This ought to lay it to rest:
Average age of 58,148 killed in Vietnam was 23.11 years. (Although 58,169 names are in the Nov. 93 database, only 58,148 have both event date and birth date. Event date is used instead of declared dead date for some of those who were listed as missing in action)
Just One Thought
Saturday, September 11, 2004
9/11 divided us.
Some became apologetic, while others demanded war. Those of us on each side can barely talk to one another now, and both view those in the middle with suspicion.
Times like these do not change what is inside of people, but they do magnify what is there. Often, you will not like what you see; the things we could once abide in one another become less tolerable as they become more important. I think almost everyone has experienced this, and has seen friendships strained or even lost as a result.
I think that this is a natural consequence of facing something that is more important than yourself. It's not a sign that anything is wrong, it's the way the world really looks when the lights come on and we are forced to pay attention.
I could not remain the person that I am, and see this war in a different way. Every word I've uttered over the last forty years would be a lie if I were to embrace the positions of the other side. I also understand that they feel that same way about their beliefs. I can forgive them if they have as hard a time with me, as I do with them.
I want very much to know how I will remember this day. Should I spend each anniversary repacking my medical kit, checking the generator, restocking the water jugs? Should I spend it practicing at the range? Chilling out with my loved ones? Compulsively sharpening my knives?
Nothing really helps. I suppose the only thing I can count on is that I'll spend it with a hollow feeling in my gut and little to say.
Thursday, September 9, 2004
At least one of those Bush memos is fake. The proof is right here.
Charles at LGF was right - the spacing and font are from a default Microsoft word document, right down to the tab stops! Pretty impressive for a memo written in 1973.
Here's the original document. Here's a screen shot of it, rotated slightly so the text is perpendicular to the page (the red lines were my rotation guide):
Here's a Word document, typed with default settings:
Here they both are, one atop the other.
The original document was 'aged' (probably by repeatedly photocopying it) which did cause some distortion, as you can see. Some portions are stretched, while other parts line up exactly. The crucial point is that the spacing is tit-on; even the date conforms to the default tab position.
Charles also pointed out that the superscript "th" looks a little different on a mac than it does on a PC. I have a PC. The scam artist had a mac.
I was initially willing to concede that these documents might have been original when I read that the White House itself had released the copies. It turns out they had just forwarded copies that they had received by the press.
This document is a fraud. Somebody ought to go to jail for this.
And Charles ought to get a fucking medal for spotting this first.
Sunday, September 5, 2004
I'm sorry, I'm having a hard time getting past this. Maybe it's because I'm taking it all wrong.
Maybe it's because I've got it exactly right.
Meanwhile, a group loyal to Ayman al-Zawahiri, second-in-command to al- Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden, proudly claimed responsibility for the carnage in a so-far-unverified statement posted on an Islamic Web site, Islamic Minbar: "The killing of the Russian Crusader Butchers in Ossetia is the start of a street and gang war the heroic mujaheeden will conduct against the European security forces," it said.
Word Of The Day
Yes, it does mean what you think it means, and yes, I expect that this sort of thing will consume over 80% of available internet resources by 2008.
What's The Worst That Could Happen?
There's certainly no reason to worry about this...
According to www.israelnationalnews.com the Israeli Antiquities Authority has released a report based on Egyptian sources stating that the collapse of the Temple Mount under tens of thousands of Moslem worshippers celebrating Ramadan in three weeks' time is "almost certain."
The Wakf has barred Israeli engineers from entering the site though the Temple Mount is technically under Israeli jurisdiction. The Wakf derides the warnings as "Israeli propaganda" and also refuses to limit the amount of Moslem worshippers. Israel Police, however, is readying itself for the task, for fear that the Moslem world will blame Israel for the collapse.
Just for the record, I am taking a sarcastic tone here; the situation is quite troubling...
According to the Tradesports Prediction Market, if the election were held right now, it would be decided in New Hampshire. By four electoral votes.
I shit you not.
Odds And Ends
I didn't think this was even possible, until my niece talked me into it. A single, uncut square? Pretty damn impressive.
The Belmont Club discusses a fascinating application of network theory to terrorism. The bottom line? Terror cells are likely limited to about 100 people each, and the bad guys have been badly hurt so far.
Has Israel pulled off a military solution to their Palistinian problem? Maybe. I've long argued it was impossible. Maybe their current success will hold, or maybe the bad guys will adapt and they will all find themselves back at square one. Either way, it's working pretty fucking well so far, and I like to give credit where credit is due.
Maybe Dan Can Find Her!
Update: Another sighting:
NY: Be On The Look Out
Careful with this one:
Lawrence Ward, 59. Driving a blue 1997 Toyota sedan, New York BRF-6546.
Armed with a 30-30 rifle.
He's left his home in Bainbridge, NY, and has threatened to kill both President Bush and John Kerry. He may have driven himself to New York City. If this story is correct, he's nuts, and quite dangerous. The Secret Service is taking this guy very seriously.
Irony Of The Week
I'm not really sure what I'm looking at, but something, somewhere, has finally come full circle.
That's Michael Moore, done up as commie thug Che Guevara. It's perfect.
The weird part is, the guys doing this are lefties. They see this as a complement to Moore.
I guess it's nice that we all agree with one another now.
Burkett Is Toast
Check this out:
"I have found no documentation from LTC Killian's hand or staff that indicate that this unit was involved in any complicit way to either cover for the failures of 1LT Bush, or to provide him pay or certification for training not completed."
That's Burkett back in August, before the memo story broke.
Is it just me or is this starting to look like Burkett is a fall guy, being used to protect the real source of the faked memos? He just seems so... disposable. It dosn't make sence to me that CBS would work so hard to protect somebody this trivial.
Quote Of The Day
Remember Frank Abignale? He was the guy in the movie Catch Me If You Can - he spent his youth as a notorious forger, and later became a leading FBI document expert. Here's his take on the CBS Memos:
And there was much rejoicing.
About a year ago I wrote a very brief post that pretty much said it all. It's here, if you want to see it.
Have these people never heard of Goatse?
Or... perhaps more troubling... have they?!!
Related fun stuff here.
Powerline has the scoop:
In addition, the documents are backed up not only by independent handwriting and forensic document experts but by sources familiar with their content. Contrary to some rumors, no internal investigation is underway at CBS News nor is one planned.
Damn. Must have had some more Kool-aid hidden away.
Just In Case You Were Still Wondering
The reason the Kool-aid is missing is because Kos just drank it all for breakfast. Careful, dude. That stuff'll give you a wicked hangover.
Reporters often protect sources. There are two primary reasons for this:
1) Whistle-blowers often act in the public good. They need to know that it is safe for them to come out with their information.
2) Reporters self-interest. Since they depend upon their sources, they have to show potential sources that they will be protected.
Note that neither of these goals are served by protecting somebody who scammed you. Not only is there no good reason to protect a scam artist, but both of these guidelines suggest that scam artists ought to be outed instantly - both to protect the public good, and to protect the self-interest of the reporter.
CBS knows goddamn well who gave them the documents. They know who is responsible. *cough*democrats*cough*
And we can only guess why they are keeping so quiet about it...
Bush Documents Faked?
Here's a detail of one of the documents the Boston Globe is using to make its case against George Bush. It was supposed to be written in 1972:
Could typewriters do superscript back then? Or is this a word-processed document that's just been xeroxed a few times to age it?
I honestly don't know. Any thoughts?
Update: Powerline is all over this...
Update: I think LGF just nailed it. It looks like these really are fakes...
This Is Too Funny
I think he's right: Kerry (and the guy who gave him that shotgun) both committed a federal felony!
It is (with a few exceptions, none of which appear to apply in Kerry's case) unlawful for a non-licensee to transfer (sell, give, whatever) a firearm to another non-licensee who he "knows or has reasonable cause to believe" is not a resident of the state in which the transferor resides. And it is (with a few exceptions, none of which appear to apply in Kerry's case) unlawful for the transferee to possess said firearm, at least in his state of residence.
In Fairness To Kerry
The Drudge story about Kerry accepting a shotgun as a gift that he himself tried to ban is simply not true.
Dave Kopel - who I rarely disagree with - has argued that this gun does fit the 'pistol grip' requirement as described in the bill, but I don't buy it. That determination is made by the BATF, and they have never determined a stock like this to be a 'pistol grip' stock.
But let's not forget - Kerry has a 100% anti-gun voting record, in the opinion of both the Brady Campaign and the NRA. His bill would have extended the AWB and banned many additional guns.
The truth is damning enough.
Credit Where Credit Is Due
"Luck" said the admiral, "can be attributed to a well-conceived plan carried out by a well-trained and indoctrinated task group."
New York City saw more than its share of luck this week.
For five days, this city was the prime target of every international terrorist organization on the planet; besieged by protesters and anarchists, her police forces were responsible for the safety of millions.
They pulled it off beautifully.
The Democrat convention and the Olympics enjoyed a similar success. That success was nothing but the hard work of many, many thousands of people who took on a job I would not have touched with a twenty-foot pole.
I'm honestly surprised we made it through all of this without a single incident. That's just outstanding.
Congratulations, guys. You did a damn fine job.