Saturday, October 02, 2004

Kerry's red herrings

With evidence piling up, why are we still paying any attention to Kerry's proposal to get help from the U.N. in dealing with terrorism?

Kerry's energetic denunciation of the nuclear bunker buster weapon seems to have caught Bush flatfooted, and impressed the media. It's a potential difficulty because it raises the specter of nuclear war which disappeared when the Cold War ended. Hugh dispatches such fears logically, in the link, but that doesn't mean Kerry won't score points with it.

But when you think about it, using a tactical nuke to obliterate Osam bin Laden in his tunnel system doesn't sound like the scenario for On the Beach. It sounds more like an reasonable counter to the increasing use of underground bunkers by people like Saddam, Laden and Kim Jong Il. How cancelling R&D of weapons for attacking these tunnels is suppposed to stop nuclear proliferation, I don't know. Kerry's use of it doesn't make sense, but it allowed him to sound morally outraged. Given the activities of the Chechyan terrorists, I don't see it as something that the Russians would react to violently.

Kerry got this from the anti-nuke people trying to gin up alarm to aid their fundraising. I suspect that it doesn't really amount to more than a lot of computer modelling, but Bush had better deal with it.

The fraud that would not die

This reminds me of a film on The Simpsons called "The Creature that Ate Everything" which consisted of one character saying "What about So and So?" and the other answering "It ate everything!"

You'd think that it would be enough that CBS used documents without seeing the originals and that they could easily have been forged, but noooo! This guy, Associate Professor David Hailey, who donated $250 to Kerry, apparently thinks his position in the English Department at Utah State University, is an adequate platform from which to rescue CBS' fading reputation, and finds out that people aren't willing to take his word for it the way his students do.

He posts a long analysis on the internet, purporting to demonstrate that one of the memos could have been typed on a mechanical typewriter, except that he does it using Photoshop. Oops. Now he's feeling sorry for himself because he's been deluged with email denouncing him. And, apparently, his website has crashed or been taken down by the university.

I'm a lawyer from a small rural town, but when an English professor, even one with a degree in technical communications, decides to set himself up as a document analyst, even I know he's in for trouble. I don't know if he's ever appeared as an expert witness, but his opinion lacks foundation. He's not working with an original document, but a digital image of one that has been copied and recopied multiple times. He posts his own comparison which he implies is typewritten, but isn't. Hailey says he knows typewriters, but somewhere in the train of his argument, he switched to a computer typeface called "typewriter."

Bush-Hate fatigue? I'd say more like embarrassment.

Meanwhile, Kerry demonstrates how he "won" the debate, on style points.

Friday, October 01, 2004

" Behold the ankle-biting pajama-clad ticks!"

James Lileks thus describes the Northern Alliance live-blogging party last night during the first debate.

Get it? ankle-biting pajama-clad ticks.

You don't mess around with Jim.

Thursday, September 30, 2004

The Bar Exam

I don't watch debates. They remind me too much of trials, which I don't enjoy either. I also find it annoying to listen to attacks and arguments I can't respond to. Nor can I really say who is winning or losing, because I'm not an undecided voter. I found Hugh Hewitt's scorecard quite useful, but I'm sure his assessments of who did better are about as accurate as mine would be.

I also dislike things like this that are about as dissimilar they can be to the reality of the job. Debates are more like tryouts for a press conference than they are like being president. They remind me of bar exams, which determine whether one can practice law by asking them to answer legal questions without having any reference material or research. No president should govern in the way we ask them to debate. Presidents have counselors and advisors. They discuss things and have time to mull them over. We already watched two conventions and heard their positions. Why do we need debates? The only test is whether they can get through a high-tension questioning without falling through a trap door.

I think James Lileks would agree.

From a reading of the questions asked, I don't think there was anything new that either one hasn't said before this. Bush's best arguments are not the kind of things you can state in a debate, since they mostly consist of examples of Kerry's erratic positions. All you can do is to just stick to your explanations and point out that it's easy to claim you'd do everything better, as Kerry does, but real life has a way of throwing you curves. The only way to know what Kerry would do is to give him enough rope to prove what he'd do, but can we really afford to turn the keys over to someone who has no track record? Instead of trying to anticpate all the questions and coaching him on how to answer them, his team should help him to patiently explain matters as he sees them, and just keep pointing out that Kerry's points are all claims without anything in his record to persuade anyone that he'd really do what he says he would. Look at his votes on things. Look at his prior statements. Kerry can't vouch for himself overnight, let alone for four years.

Update: I've been hearing clips from the debate since last night, and it seems to me that Kerry is promoting a policy of national selfishness and shortsightedness. He has always had a tendency to make bold charges without providing proof. He complains about fire stations being closed and not enough cops in this country, but his party and his liberal philosophy have contributed to breakdowns in law and order and made it more difficult to fight crime and terrorism. Kerry wants more cops but not the Patriot Act. He says he wants a lot of things that he has consistently opposed in the Senate. Apparently his polls are telling him he still needs to sound tough on national security. How else can you account for his continuing to cite his short stint in combat over 30 years ago? But his attacks on Bush don't offer any reassurance. I think that people are starting to understand that by fighting in Iraq, we are choosing the battlefield of our choice, which is outside of America. I'm surprised Kerry doesn't understand the tactical advantage that gives us against terrorists.

He said he wouldn't cede the right to defend the nation from attackes, but then he contradicted himself by arguing for "a global test," where we have to explain ourselves to the rest of the world. Bush did that, so Kerry apparently thinks it wasn't sufficient to explain; he seems to think we need their approval. Also, using the Cuban Missile Crisis and mischaracterizing how Kennedy handled it didn't make a lot of sense. His description of Kennedy's ending an envoy to Charles DeGaulle and France as a precedent is unlikely to be persuasive. Basically, all that story proved is that what France thought of it was irrelevant.

The most important threat to us is nuclear proliferation? What has Kerry or his party done to stop that? Oh, yeah. They made an agreement with North Korea, which it promptly ignored, then they fiddled around while Saddam pursued nukes. Of course, Bush's father also followed a foolish policy by letting the U.N. control our handling of the Gulf War, but Bush hasn't made that mistake.

He promises to shut down our program to develop nuclear bunkerbusting weapons, such as we might use in, say, Tora Bora. When the enemy builds tunnels and bunkers underground, shouldn't we have weapons that let them know it won't work.

His critique of using warlords as allies in Afghanistan seems kind of screwy as well. Isn't bringing these groups together the basis for the emerging democracy in that country? I remember thinking at the time that it was smart not to try to occupy the country as the Soviets did. Instead we developed a coalition to drive out the Taliban while our troops stayed inside a strongly defended base, sending out sorties as needed to attack the enemy rather than subjecting ourselves to guerrilla attacks like those that drove the Soviets out.

Iraq was not that easy, because we are trying to rebuild the country, and we had to occupy the country, in order to rebuild it and to train local security forces, both of which expose our troops to guerrilla attacks. Still, I don't think things are as bad there as the conventional wisdom indicates. When there were riots in various cities in the 1960s after Martin Luther King's murder, most of the country was peaceful, but to watch the news, you'd think it was in flames everywhere. Just as the Tet Offensive was misinterpreted by the media as a vast defeat, our success in Iraq is being ignored.

Bush may have ceded too much of the time to Kerry by not having enough material. He ended up repeating himself. However, that is more a critique of the the 90 minute format than of Bush's performance. He has a simple forthright policy. It doesn't require a lengthy speech to explain it.

Kerry seems to have done some twisting of history as well, by arguing that Bush didn't explain why we were going to war in Iraq to the people. He's relying on the viewers to assume that Bush knew ahead of time that there weren't any WMD, which neither he nor the Democrats knew.

When you try to follow Kerry's arguments, you find that they're tautological and assume things that either are false or infantile.

Kerry has mastered the art of making absurd positions sound better by forceful delivery. I hope Bush's campaign will use Kerry clips like the "global test" and point out how silly they are. Kerry wins on style, but what remains for Bush's campaign to do is hang the substance of his position around his neck.

The face of the future

Duane Patterson has a great post. If the link doesn't work just go to the main page and scroll down to the picture of the baby. It's important to remember that it's not Kerry and all those compassionate liberals who cares about the future of Iraqi kids.

I really get tired of all the whining here about aliens coming here to work.

Larger than Life

That's how I've always looked at our soldiers. When I was growing up I'd see the men who fought in WWII and they seemed like giants to me. Those who fight to defend our freedom are even more impressive now than then. Here's one of the reasons. We're not worthy.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

The game is afoot.

Here's yet another arrogant journalist blasting blogs. Do any of these people realize how pompous, bitter, petty and totally bigoted they sound? A few clips:
But one of the shams we're chasing is the supposed threat of the blogs, who are to journalism what ticks are to elephants. Ticks may make the elephants nuts, but that doesn't mean they will replace them. You can't ride a tick.. . .
But too many ticks given the opportunity can bring down an elephant. And, you can't ride an elephant that only turns left all the time, either.
Most bloggers are not fit to carry a reporter's notebook.. . .
Ah, yes. The noble journalist! Sacrificing all to report the news that the powerful don't want us to know. Can you get any more trite and hackneyed?
That's the job of journalism -- to scrutinize the actions of those in power.. . .
Of course, one might ask, what happens when those in power are in control of journalism? We're going to find out.

I missed Oompa-loompagate

I was out of town and didn't hear the discussion of Kerry's sudden tan. Or is it orange? I must admit that it sounds kind of trivial, but it's just another absurdity in an astounding series of absurdities. If I were a conspiracy believer, I'd think the Clintons were somehow behind the nomination of this stiff for President, helping clear the field for Hillary! in 2008. The problem with that is that I don't know how it could be done without anybody having discovered it and splashed it everywhere.

Monday, September 27, 2004

Arrogance and scorn

Go to this article and look at the photo of the author, the Nutty Professor Steven Levy. Do you really need any other reason not to take his attack on bloggers seriously?

If anybody deserves condemnation for "name-calling and intolerance of opposing points of view" during this election year it would have to be the mainstream media. Now they've been caught in a feverish, obsessive and dishonest attempt to smear Bush's service in the National Guard, as though anybody really would care. And whose fault is that? Dan Rather's? Mary Mapes? Noooo. Glenn Reynolds! Charles Johnson! The Power Line bloggers!

So the fact that most political bloggers take sides means what? All it means to me is that they're more honest than the pundits. That they are passionate debaters, engaged in the rough and tumble of political argument, and not willing to passively swallow the baloney they're offered by people like Levy is to their credit, and far more in keeping with the First Amendment than the old media has become.

Levy and his fellow effete snob journalists have been peddling this nonsense for the past 50 years, that they are the Constitutional Fourth Branch of Government, and therefore immune to criticism or questioning, as though our republic depended on the judgment of a bunch of self-appointed pseudo-aristocrats. I guess getting a by-line must seem like a great achievement, and bringing down a president even more so. It's the heady stuff that young reporters must dream about, as normal kids dream about scoring the winning points in a championship game.

Yes, a free press is important, but it is not limited to those with J-school degrees. We have been witnessing an answer to the liberal monopoly emerging through talk radio and the new technology of the internet, and suddenly, being a reporter, even an anchorman, doesn't seem like such a big deal anymore. Now any schlub in his pajama can have as wide a distribution as a NYTimes columnist, without having to work a lifetime to gain that rarified position. So we're all back to the starting line, being judged not by our fellow reporters and editors, but by the great unwashed.

Power is one of the two great temptations in this world, which is precisely what our Constitution seeks to undermine. Nearly every position of power is subject to, and must take account of the opinions of the rabble. America has no true aristocracy. It was made specifically with that in mind. The best way to get laughed off the stage is to write stuff like Levy's sniffing, sneering little pout. Now, he's getting his moment in the limelight as bloggers cover him with rotten eggs and garden produce.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

India Ink calls Number 4 pencil lead black

Republicans Admit Mailing Campaign Literature Saying Liberals Will Ban the Bible. Apparently, you're allowed to tell old people that the Republicans want to take away their social security and send women to back alley abortionists, but this is "despicable." Politics as usual, but it merits a story in the NYTimes.