Thursday, October 21, 2004

I actually find
this heartening. It means we must be on the right path.

This section is worth referencing:
But perhaps a more startling finding from the Guardian/ICM poll is that a majority of British voters - 51% - say that they believe that American culture is threatening our own culture.

This is a fear shared by the Canadians, Mexicans and South Koreans, but it is more usually associated with the French than the British. Perhaps the endless television reruns of Friends and the Simpsons are beginning to take their toll.
I think this is funny for two reasons:
  1. French culture is stagnant and smelly; it's like pond water. I'm reminded of the skit from SNL where Chris Matthews aka Darrel Hammond says, "That's tough talk for a country whose biggest contributions to world culture in the last 50 years have been Girard Depadeu and that amorous skunk."

    And it's easy to see why France would be so upset at the Simpsons. If there's any country that's continuously mocked, it's France. After all, "cheese-eating surrender monkies" is a quote from Groundskeeper Willie. And in the episode with the trillion dollar bill, Truman gives the money to our allies "who fought so poorly and surrendered so readily."


  2. Canada has no culture of its own, save for Quebec, and that's just France II. Canada is basically a giant U.S. state. When I was in college, I was randomly interviewed by somebody wearing radio gear. He asked me some geography questions that I couldn't answer, and that was that. I read later that there's a popular radio show somewhere in Canada that asks American college students Canadian geography questions, and then mocks them for not knowing the answer. My thought on reading that? Who cares? What have they done for world culture ever? So what if I don't know the biggest port city in Nova Scotia? Does it matter? Why am I writing some many interrogatives?

Now, I know that many are probably accusing me of some kind of ugly-Americanism. Okay, maybe I deserve it. I don't think I do. I ask you to look around the world and point to a country as consequential as ours. Since we emerged as a world power, who else has been a bigger force for democracy?
Dial-up?
Or dear God, no. Well, not that I have any right to complain; I just got a high-speed connection a couple of weeks ago. But, I remember that pain well. I knew that my internet connection was blazing when I downloaded XP SP2 in about 10 minutes or so (I left the room for awhile, so it may have been faster than that).

Yes, I've posted much the last couple of days. Hmm. Usually I'm not this prolific. I blame Andrew Sullivan -- he got my Swedish up. (I don't know if that has any meaning; Vikings were Swedes, but the Swedes haven't really done anything useful in the last couple hundred years. Whatever.) I think it's his mind-numbing pessimism.

Sullivan, to me, anyway, is indicative of the modern mentality when it comes to war. I saw on some blog somewhere today (sorry, don't remember where) that some 750 soldiers were killed during training exercises for D-Day. If that's true, and, given the scale of the invasion, it's entirely probable, that's almost as many soldiers as have been killed in combat in the entire Iraq war. Make Sullivan a war correspondent in WWII and he'd accuse Eisenhower and Roosevelt of criminal negligence (as he did to President Bush today).

This leads me to wonder what the standard is for good military planning and execution. Sullivan seems to operate under the no-mistakes doctrine of fantasy-land combat, and he seems to operate under the assumption that Bush is a cluessless bumbler. How else to take his assessment of Robertson's claim that Bush thought we'd have no casualties?

Lastly, regarding the carpentry waste: I'm not sure how to categorize Kerry's book-smack ranking. He's so unfocused and unprincipled, I really don't know if he's just ignorant of the nature of Islamofascism, or if he's just clawing for votes. If he honestly believes that we can return to a 9/10 approach to terrorism, then he's seriously divorced from reality; if he only says that stuff to get elected, then he's a principleless mass of gravity-sucking dark matter from which light cannot escape.

Neither option seems appealing.
Help me!
I'm at an undisclosed location that has only dial-up for Internet access. Argh! I can literally see each byte as it crosses the telephone wire. Agony. Pain. Misery. It took me 4 hours 23 minutes to post this. But at least I have something. The local hotel has no Internet access whatsoever. I thought we lived in the 21st century. Eee gads.

Thankfully, Joe is on the job. You're on a roll.

Is it a coincidence that Bush's national security advisor and Kerry's likeliest such advisor share the same last name? Just asking.

Question for Joe: Kerry may be a bag of sawdust, but is he book-smackingly ignorant?
FoxNews has a quote from
Bush that gives one more reason why the Kerry camp just doesn't get it:
"Senator Kerry's top foreign policy adviser has questioned whether this is even a war at all. Here's what he said, and I quote, 'We're not in a War on Terror in the literal sense. It is like saying "the war on poverty,' it is just a metaphor.' End quote," Bush said during a campaign stop in Mason City, Iowa. "Confusing food programs with terrorist killings reveals a fundamental misunderstanding of the war we face, and that is very dangerous thinking."
The quote about the war is attributed to Richard Holbrooke, one of Kerry's senior foreign policy advisors.
It's final.
Hamm keeps his gold.

I'm tempted to argue that the South Koreans displayed poor sportsmanship in this issue. Yes, there were errors made by judges in scoring the event. Through no fault of his own, the South Korean received a lower score than he should have. However, if you're competing at that level, you have to know the rules of your sport. And if there's one thing I've picked up during this fiasco, it's that challenges to scoring must be made before the next rotation. The Koreans waited two days to challenge the score.

That's their own fault, and instead of conceding, they made a fuss.

I'm reminded of a kerfuffle that occurred in Salina, KS a few years ago (it's near my hometown of Lindsborg). Seems a young golf prodigy was playing in a youth tournament. He clearly had the best score, but he failed to sign his score card before he submitted it. He was disqualified. Furor erupted as some locals groused at the disqualification over such a minor thing. Anger seethed until something spectaculor happened: The kid at the center of everything wrote a letter to the Salina Journal saying everyone needed to shut up. He knew the rules of the tournament, he knew that failure to sign a score card meant peril, but he screwed up. He deserved his disqualification. He pinned everything on his own failure, and said nothing criticizing the officials.

That's a sportsman.
I know this has been
highlighted elsewhere (I saw it yesterday on Best of the Web), but I want to put it here, just for my own amusement. A Kerry comment from 1994 regarding the possibility of U.S. troops getting killed in Bosnia:
If you mean dying in the course of the United Nations effort, yes, it is worth that. If you mean dying American troops unilaterally going in with some false presumption that we can affect the outcome, the answer is unequivocally no.
So, dying for the U.N. is okay, but dying for your country isn't? I'm waiting for the GOP ad that carries this.
Hee hee hee hee.
Ah, gotta love the Guardian.
The Weekly Standard
has an instresting story on Kerry's likely choice for National Security Advisor. Be afraid.
Anyone currently reading
Instapundit knows that he's been wrangling with a couple of bloggers, particularly Tony Pierce and Andrew Sullivan, over his personal biases. Apparently there's an issue with the fact that a) Glenn Reynolds doesn't have a regular disclaimer deliniating his personal opinions so that his readers will automatically know his frame of referene, and b) he doesn't link to enough anti-war, pro-Kerry material.

We'll take "B" first. Bah. Long-time readers of Instapundit know that Reynolds posts for two reasons: the topic interests him; the story isn't getting enough play in the MSM. The first reason is easy enough to understand, and doesn't require discussion. The other is critical. Reynolds doesn't post many pro-Kerry stories because, if you want one, you can go to CNN, ABC, NBC, MSNBC, CBS, et al to get one. Trying to find a pro-Bush story, or a story that really discusses more than the surface gloss of the Duelfer report, you have to go elsewhere. Enter Instapundit.

Back to "A." Who the hell cares? This blog assumes that if readers can't figure out the biases of the bloggers who post on it, then they can read the archives (with links handily placed on the side of the page). If readers of this blog haven't figured out that I think that Bush may well be remembered as the first great President of the 21st century, and that I think Kerry is a bag of sawdust, then you haven't been paying attention and you should go back to your Dick & Jane books.

I'm going to assume the same is true for Instapundit (not the sawdust thing, the respecting the reader's intelligence thing). If you can't figure out where Reynolds lands, look at his past posts and figure it out. That's not too much to ask, is it?

And if you still can't get over Reynolds bias, well, read somebody else or write your own. That's the joy of blogs -- there's one for every taste, and the cost of entry is nil.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Sullivan concludes
his post by saying:
The candidate who avoided Vietnam has surrogates who impugn his opponent's war medals. The candidate who favors stripping gay couples of all legal protections gets to call the other guy a gay-baiter. And the candidate who tells people he's the only thing between them and Armageddon gets pundits targeting his opponent as the fear-monger.
Let's take each sentence one at a time:

  • "The candidate who avoided Vietnam..."

    Admittedly, Bush didn't exactly take the hero's path by volunteering for the Air Nation Guard instead of volunteering directly for the Air Force. However, it's not like Kerry tap-danced into the Navy recruiter's office and asked to be dropped head first into Vietcong territory. Kerry, after unsuccessfully applying for deferrments, enlisted in the Naval Reserve, which, like the ANG, was considered a safe way to avoid the draft while also avoiding deployment. Kerry played the odds and lost. In a previous post, I likened it to the Caine Mutiny, where the protagonist thinks he's avoiding hard duty by joining the Navy, and finds himself in the South Pacific aboard a destroyer/mine-sweeper.

    Additionally, I've taken exception to Sullivan's characterization of the the Swift Boat Vets as shills for the GOP. He seems to exclude the possibility that Kerry's former fellow sailors thought he was a schmuck, someone devoid of leadership skills, and that his post-war activities deeply hurt and angered them.


  • "The candidate who favors stripping gay couples of all legal protections..."

    The GOP's platform on gay marriage bothers me, and I'm a Republican. But then, I think the government should stay out of marriage all together. In my ideal world, the government would really have no reason to know if I'm married or not, except as a check box on my census form, unless I was in the military. Marriage licenses and the legal protections that come along with them only exist because of taxation and other forms of government intervention. Remove the government's interference, and you remove the need for government involvement in marriage.

    That being said, I would like to see a definition of "gay-baiting." It has to be something more serious than disagreeing with ideas important to homosexuals, or even disagreeing with Andrew Sullivan. Is reluctance to extend marriage to homosexuals gay-baiting? Why? If you believe that marriage is a sacrement, or that it's a bond consecrated by God for the purpose of joining man and woman, then the shift of definition to include same-sex marriages is a fundamental shift, anti-thetical to your religious beliefs. Is this a form of homophobia, or an honest reaction to someone's challenging of your religious doctrine?

    If that's gay-baiting, then so are gratuitous references to the sexual preferences of a candidates daughter.


  • "And the candidate who tells people he's the only thing between them and Armageddon..."

    Where in the hell has the Bush/Cheney campaign made this claim? From my post below, I think that Cheney has been making vital comparisons between Bush/Cheney and Kerry/Edwards. I haven't heard anyone say, "A vote for Kerry is nuclear bomb in your bathroom."
Just one more on Sullivan today,
I promise. In his post, "What Has Happened to Safire?", Sullivan criticizes the NYTimes' William Safire for his editorial, "The Year of Fear." The gyst of the criticism is, Bush and Cheney are scaring everybody by saying that they're better at handling international terrorism and Islamofascism than Kerry. That Kerry is using trumped-up, exaggerated, outright dishonest scams to scare the elderly, the young, and minorities, while bad, isn't the worst of the worst. No, the true fear-mongering is engaging in a substantive comparison of the different campaigns' approaches to terrorism.

Let's think for a second. We know by example what Bush will do in the face of terroristic threats: He'll close down their financiers in the U.S, he'll bomb the hell out of their bases, he'll round up and kill or capture their leaders and membership, and he'll use aggressive intelligence gathering to lead to further operations to round up more terrorists. I think that's pretty clear. Oh, and he'll do so while advising his allies that he's going to do this, but without giving them say-so. The fruits of this action can be seen in the fact that: Libya has given up it's WMD programs; a leading Pakistani scientist revealed how he was selling nuclear secrets to rogue nations around the world; Pakistan is re-entering the civilized world; North Korea is engaging in multi-lateral talks with South Korea, China, Japan and the United States; Afganistan had its first ever election; Iraq will soon have its first ever real election (Saddam's "elections" don't count).

Kerry, on the other hand, doesn't have any direct record on terrorism; we have to extrapolate from his public statements and his collective record as Vietnam sailor/protestor and Senator.

Let's see, in Vietnam, Kerry volunteered for swift boat duty, which, at the time he volunteered, was a relatively safe tour because they weren't used in combat zones; when his swift boat was ordered to participate in Operation SEALORDS, he whined so bitterly that he was transfered out of An Thoi within a week, back to a unit stationed around Sa Dec, where he continued to whine; he used a little-known regulation that allowed him to bug out of Vietnam within four months.

In the Senate, he voted against every major weapons system currently used by the U.S. military; he routinely accused President Reagan of dangerous international adventurism, referring to our invasion of Grenada as a form of bullying; he played footsy with the Sandinistas; after the WTC bombing in 1993, he introduced legislation to reduce the intelligence budget by so much, even Ted Kennedy called the plan wreckless.

In his public statements since becoming a candidate for U.S. President: Kerry has said he'd supply Iran with nuclear material, an idea that even Iran rejects; he would reinstate bi-lateral talks with North Korea, in spite of objections from South Korea, Japan and China, and in spite of the fact that previous bi-lateral talks with North Korea have proven an exercise in futility (there's a reason the Korean War is technically still in progress, with only a cease-fire agreement having been signed); he's referred to terrorism as a "nuisance"; he's stated that he sees the pursuit of terrorists as primary a law-enforcement function; he's stated he'd pull troops out of Iraq within six months of taking office.

Now, I think it's fair game for Bush/Cheney to say that they're going to aggressively pursue the war on terror, and that Kerry probably won't. It's fear mongering to say, "A vote for Kerry is a vote for a terrorist." It's truth to say that Kerry's worldview is anachronistic and separated from the reality of the current war.
Why, oh why, oh why
do I continue to read Sullivan? From his post, "How Deluded is Bush?", Sullivan cites an interview Paula Zahn did with Pat Robertson and marshalls this as proof that Bush is obviously a deluded dunderhead. The key quote from Robertson:
"And I warned him about this war. I had deep misgivings about this war, deep misgivings. And I was trying to say, 'Mr. President, you had better prepare the American people for casualties.' "

Robertson said the president then told him, "Oh, no, we're not going to have any casualties."
Does Sullivan honestly believe the President thought we weren't going to have any casualties? Isn't it possible, just slightly possible, that the President was basically saying to Robertson, "Hey, I'm no dumby, I know there's going to be casualties. Stop saying the obvious?"

I'm puzzled, really. Sullivan used to be a good read. His criticisms of the Bush Administration used to be pretty insightful. Now, he's degenerated into, well, I don't have a good adjective. He accuses the President of having ideological blinders, but is blind himself to obvious realities and other possible interpretations of events.

Everything a Republican does must be for a deceitful reason. Every aside, every gaffe, every comment is a revelation of deep seated stupidity, arrogance, homophobia, thuggery, indecency, and whatever other heinous attribute one would choose to ascribe. There's never any possibility that a gaffe was just that: A gaffe. There's never any chance that the President's mis-statement is just that: A mis-statement (and remember, we're dealing with a president notorious for his malapropisms).

Someone once said that if an action or idea can be ascribed to one of two possible motives, the more insidious one is usually the truth. Sullivan seems to subscribe to this view.
A new Superman
has been announced. And I've never heard of him.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Okay,
so I lied. I am going to comment further on Carter's appearance. Here's the Revolutionary War exchange:
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you the question about—this is going to cause some trouble with people—but as an historian now and studying the Revolutionary War as it was fought out in the South in those last years of the War, insurgency against a powerful British force, do you see any parallels between the fighting that we did on our side and the fighting that is going on in Iraq today?

CARTER: Well, one parallel is that the Revolutionary War, more than any other war up until recently, has been the most bloody war we‘ve fought. I think another parallel is that in some ways the Revolutionary War could have been avoided. It was an unnecessary war.

Had the British Parliament been a little more sensitive to the colonial‘s really legitimate complaints and requests the war could have been avoided completely, and of course now we would have been a free country now as is Canada and India and Australia, having gotten our independence in a nonviolent way.

I think in many ways the British were very misled in going to war against America and in trying to enforce their will on people who were quite different from them at the time.
First, where in the world does Carter get the notion that the Revolutionary War is, "up until recently," the bloodiest war we've fought? I think the casualties in WWI and WWII were a touch higher. Even if Carter is only referring to wars fought on U.S. soil, the Civil War quite handily comes out as far more bloody.

And, I suppose, he's right that the war could have been avoided. I mean, if the British weren't such intransigent schmucks, the Founders wouldn't have had anything to complain about. But then, by applying that standard, all wars could have been avoided. I mean, if the Japanese hadn't engaged in imperialistic adventures in the South Pacific, if the Germans hand't wanted Lebensraum, if all of Europe hadn't cemented itself in a web of alliances in the early 20th century, if all of Europe had merely prostrated themselves before Napoleon, if Rome had been more polite to the osgoths, ad infinitum, we'd never have had any wars. True enough, in a perfect world. And if that's what Carter means, that in a perfect world, there'd be no war, then he needs to take his uninsightful pablum and shut up.
Most former Presidents
follow the unwritten rule that when your time in office is up, you go home, write your book, and otherwise shut up. Now, that's not to say that they don't go on the lecture circuit, but there's a difference between that and writing snarky op-eds or showing up on Hardball.

Which brings us to Jimmy Carter. Can't this man realize that his term is over? That he ranks somewhere around Harding in the ranks of Presidential esteem?

Anyway, he was on Hardball last night. I won't go into too much, but this exchange caught my attention.
MATTHEWS: The president has said he had miscalculated in terms of not realizing how the war would proceed from the initial knockout of Saddam‘s forces, including the Revolutionary Guard, and then what he faced on the ground in terms of the insurgency.

Do you think as an historian you would have foreseen, had you been president, the nationalistic fight of those people in Iraq once we got in there?

CARTER: Well, I think almost any reasonable person who knew history would say that you can‘t go into an alien environment and force by rule of arms by forcing the people to adopt a strange concept. And also when we were so destructive in going into Iraq with tens of thousands of innocent civilians killed and now it‘s still, up until this moment now many months later there is still a great deal of animosity toward American troops. And there is no doubt that American troops‘ presence is stimulating additional violence.
Now, I'm no great historian, but I do seem to recall something called World War II. Germany's only real brush with democracy prior to WWII was the laughably weak Weimar Republic, which quickly degenerated into Nazism. Japan was an autocratic fiefdom with an Emperor considered divine. Neither of these were exactly models of democratic virtue.

But, after some serious ass-kicking, some carpet-bombing, and a couple of nukes, we calmed them down and re-ordered their society. Now, Japan is a busseling economic powerhouse (remember the paranoia in the 80's about their overshadowing American supremecay?), and Germany is an (erstwhile) ally without fascistic pretensions.

We blew up these countries. We reduced them to dirt and rebuilt them. They are now friendly (if not true friends at times), and we haven't had any real problems from them in 60 years.

To say that military action can't bring about a democratic government is representative of either grave ignorance or partisan blindness (or both).

(Note: Little Green Footballs is highlighting Carter's statement that the Revolutionary War was unnecessary. Okay. I thought even most lefty-liberal types agreed that the Revolution was noble, just, etc. What the hell?)

Monday, October 18, 2004

While I'm at it,
I also noticed this post, title "Suskind on Bush." Sullivan has repeated talked about the arrogance of the Bush Presidency, which I'm not sure I'm clear about. I really don't know what he's talking about, and would like to see clear examples of such (and, please, saying Bush's dismissal of, as Rumsfeld put it, "Old Europe" is not arrogance, it's common sense).

Items listed by Sullivan, and my comments.
  • "Bush looked genuinely shocked to hear anyone voicing criticism of his policies in his presence." Now, Bush has to be aware of Kerry's positions, given the speeches he's made, and he's got to be aware of the slice of the population that likens him to Hitler (he briefly had that MoveOn.org ad in one of his commericals). I think the Bush campaign's answer on Bush's annoyed appearance is probably pretty honest: He was meeting with hurricane victims, and he was physically, mentally, and emotionally drained.

    I would like to add, though, that Bush deserved to look annoyed. Bush has done amazing things, and to have a piece of balsa wood in a suit vascilate his way to challenging his Presidency would be a legitimate source of annoyance.


  • "You see this in the thuggish ways in which opponents are removed from campaign events, jailed and fired from their jobs." First, the removal from campaign events doesn't really surprise or bother me. Campaign events are private events, and the campaign has the right to dictate the terms of admittance. If they want to create a pretty picture full of "Bush is Jesus 2nd Coming" signs, that's their right. And there have been widely publicized cases of Kerry events not being Mecca's of intellectual diversity either (remember the little girl and her torn sign, or the Bush supporter who was decked by a Kerry supporter while a T.V. film crew was taping?)

    I'm not quite sure what the firing thing is supposed to mean. The only thing Bush probably controls is the hiring and firing of campaign staff, and it's only common sense that Kerry supporters should be removed from the Bush staff. If he's talking about private individuals being fired from their jobs, I don't see how this reflects on the Bush campaign. I mean, I don't blame the Kerry campaign for that teacher who was told to remove a picture of Bush from her presidential history bulletin board.


  • "You realize eventually that Bush's cabinet is actually a royal court, in which criticism is simply treachery." If he's talking about the removal of Paul O'Neill, then I don't get the point. O'Neill's problem was that he's a former CEO and used to being the man in charge, the man with the most important opinion in the room. In Bush's cabinet, he served at the pleasure of the President, and his opinion was one of many and, in many cases, completely irrelevant (e.g, who cares what the Treasury Secretary thinks about Saddam Hussein?) So, he helps in writing a book where he complains that the President doesn't value anyone's opinion.


  • "And he wonders why has left this country even more divided than when he found it." Yeah, the divison in this country is all Bush's fault. Uh, huh. MoveOn.org, Soros, numerous Hollywood-types, random Democratic demogagurey, the NAACP, the Clinton Presidency, none of these things have anything to do with the divisons in America -- it's all Karl Rove and his villainous zombie Bush-bots that have polarized the U.S. It's obvious because the 2000 campaign was a model of unity and likemindedness across the country.

Update: The article to which Sullivan links, detailing Bush's "thuggery," says that no such problem exists at Kerry events. Really? What does he make of this?
Well, I read Sullivan this morning,
David, because you linked to him and was stopped by this post:
MORE INCOMPETENCE: The evidence of how the administration has screwed up the management of the war in Iraq continues to mount.
Sullivan has either completely shifted into someone who views every set back as a sign of administration stupidity or he lacks historical perspective (or both, I guess).

The article is about supply shortages experienced on the ground in Iraq. First, the article talks about a letter that Sanchez wrote and sent to superiors on December 4, 2003. So, it's been almost a year since all of this occurred, and most of the issues raised have been addressed.

Second, every war has to overcome shortages. This isn't a matter of poor planning or stupidity, but a plain reality of war. Patton's drive to Berlin was hampered by severe shortages in fuel and ammunition. The Korean War saw massive shortages of basics like food, ammo, and medical supplies. Episodes of M*A*S*H highlight this effectively, such as the episode where a field medic is captured stealing medicine from the 4077 because his unit lacks basic medical supplies (and, before you say it, no, my history of Korea didn't come from M*A*S*H episodes. Here's a good book on the subject.)

As the old dicutm states, battle plans don't survive first contact with the enemy. This is clearly the case here, as the logistics officer cited talks about how the armored vehicles are seeing far more use (and therefore more maintenance) than was expected. The fast and furious drive north extended supply lines faster than expected, and the wide use of IED's required more armored escort on supply lines.

All of this has been overcome, now. Why this is proof of incompetence is beyond me. In any case, does Sullivan actually think that President Bush has anything to do with replacement part stocks? I mean, I think the President probably asked his men if they had the equipment to go to war, and they said yes. Does Sullivan honestly think that Bush and Rumsfeld get that deep into logistics?
My group never played gnomes, either.
I don't really know why, except, maybe, it was because no one wanted to be an Illusionist or a tinker.

I don't have the boxes of maps and so on, but I do have binder. I created a campaign setting when I was in college -- mapped out cities, created a brief history, developed a couple of kits. Never did base a campaign there. Did some one-on-one roleplaying in it; that was all.

All of my books are carefully locked away in a filing cabinet. And I, too, have a Player's Guide whose binding is buttressed by a strategically placed strip of duct tape.
Dungeons and Dragons is celebrating its 30th anniversary,
and John J. Miller at NRO has a piece about it.

Oh, I could write pages and pages about D&D, but I don't have time at the moment. Unlike Miller, who began playing at an early age, I began playing during my sophomore year in college and I became addicted. We had a huge group (too big, really) of 10 or so people with races and classes that covered the spectrum except gnomes - no one ever played a gnome for some reason. We would play whenever we could, more than we should, and it was good.

Perhaps more later...