Tuesday, October 31, 2006

What's New from the Dems? 

Nothing, as far as I can tell.

If you listen to what they're saying (if you can stand to), there's little material difference between what the Dems talking points are now and what they were pushing back in the late 1960s and early 70s. With one exception, perhaps. This is from the 1968 Dem platform, on Vietnam: "We reject as unacceptable a unilateral withdrawal of our forces which would allow that aggression and subversion to succeed." Congresspersons Murtha and Pelosi certainly wouldn't abide by that nowadays.

But three paragraphs later, there's this:
"Bombing: Stop all bombing of North Vietnam when this action would not endanger the lives of our troops in the field; this action should take into account the response form Hanoi.

Troop Withdrawal: Negotiate with Hanoi an immediate end or limitation of hostilities and the withdrawal from South Vietnam of all foreign forces—both United States and allied forces, and forces infiltrated from North Vietnam.

Election of Postwar Government: Encourage all parties and interests to agree that the choice of the postwar government of South Vietnam should be determined by fair and safeguarded elections, open to all major political factions and parties prepared to accept peaceful political processes. We would favor an effective international presence to facilitate the transition from war to peace and to assure the protection of minorities against reprisal."

History shows which part of the platform actually meant anything.

I'm concerned that the Dems may take back the House, but the thought brings back a one-liner joke that was going around in the fall of 1965:
"Just think, if Goldwater had been elected, we'd be bombing North Vietnam right now."
(Operation Rolling Thunder, the bombing campaign against North Vietnam, began in March 1965, about a month after President Johnson told his national security advisors, "I've had enough of this." (From The History Place - Vietnam War1965 - 1968).

Trouble is, I don't see any Dem today who's anywhere near as strong a leader as LBJ was.

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Kerry's Foot-In-Mouth Disease 

News reports say that yesterday in a campaign appearance by California gubernatorial candidate Phil Angelides and Sen. John Kerry (D-Ozone), the following occurred:
"Kerry then told the students that if they were able to navigate the education system, they could get comfortable jobs - "If you don't, you get stuck in Iraq," he said to a mixture of laughter and gasps."
Among other things, this demonstrates either (a) Kerry's political tin ear hasn't gotten any less tone-deaf since his presidential campaign or, (b) he figures none of the troops are going to vote Dem anyway, so they can be ignored or, (c) both (a) and (b).

I think the man is despicable, and that the country is indeed fortunate that he was not elected President. I don't know why he was in CA anyway, because there isn't a snowball's chance in hell that Angelides will beat Schwarzenegger. After this, I'd bet that the only people who vote for Angelides will be the hard left Dem base.

Idiots! Fargin' idiots!

Michelle Malkin has video and lots of emailed reaction.

UPDATE 20061031:1238 PST: I can't believe how politically inept Kerry is! Instead of apologizing to the troops and "clarifying" how he was misunderstood, Kerry went into full attack-Chihuahua mode and blamed everyone but himself. Jeez! Next he'll be telling us how Karl Rove has taken control of his tongue. Why do the voters in Massachusetts keep electing guys like him and Teddy Kannedy (D-Snockered)? Is there something in the water there? Where are the Dixie Chicks equivalents in MA, expressing their shame that they come from the same state?

UPDATE 20061031:1314 PST: Video of Kerry's statement here. The psychologists call this kind of thing, "projection." How appropriate that Kerry lets loose with this on Halloween.

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Saturday, October 28, 2006

Question for the Dems 

I stayed up late last night (a rare occurrence) and watched Bill O'Reilly's appearance on David Letterman. It was an interesting debate, but one thing stood out for me. At one point O'Reilly asked Letterman, "Do you want us to win in Iraq?" Letterman wouldn't give a straight answer! It's a simple question, and should be answered with a simple "yes" or "no." but Letterman passed. More than once. That told me a lot about Letterman--not about his politics, but about his courage, or rather, lack of it.

I think someone should ask all the Democratic candidates for the House and Senate that question, and permanently record the answer. I would be willing to bet that more than half would "take a Letterman" and not give a straight answer.

For all the carping and complaining about Bush and Iraq, I haven't heard a coherent statement from any Democratic candidate on what they would do in Iraq. As a threshhold position, it seems to me that every candidate should state clearly whether he or she wants the US to win in Iraq, then go on to state what they would do there.

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Friday, October 27, 2006

Barack Obama as President? 

At this point in the political cycle, it seems to me premature to start talking about presidential ambitions in 2008 in connection with anyone who isn't an obvious candidate based on history.

Barack Obama has indicated he has an interest in running for President. I ask, what are his qualifications? He's a first-term Senator. He's obviously very bright and appears to be politically savvy, but he doesn't have much of a track record.

On a related note, I have a strong bias against any presidential candidate who is a Senator, unless he or she has successful experience as a chief executive of a large and complex organization. By "large and complex organization" I mean something like a medium to large state (Vermont and North Dakota won't do) or a large city (New York, Chicago, Los Angles, Dallas, Atlanta, Miami, to name a few), a large bureaucracy (e.g., the Defense Department, State Department, Justice Department) or a large business (like GE, GM, Intel, Microsoft, Dow Chemical or Exxon Mobil). I harbor this bias because I think it's essential that a President have experienced the pressure and the frustrations that someone who occupies a "buck stops here" kind of job must confront every day, and demonstrated that he or she is capable of making the hard judgements on when to stand tough and when to compromise, and who to hire and when to ask someone you like to resign, and be right more often than not.

My bias against Senators stems from the fact that no Senator has individual responsibility for any policy. A Senator is one of 100, or to narrow it down, one of his or her party's caucus (which would be one of about 40 to about 60, based on recent history). Moreover, Senators don't have to make snap decisions. The Senate is, after all, The World's Greatest Deliberative Body--as such, it is all about compromise. Any president who takes office with a track record of compromising is going to get rolled, and for me, that automatically disqualifies a Senator without material and successful executive experience from getting my vote for President.

Back to Barack. According to Wikipedia, Mr. Obama has never held any kind of executive position, large or small. He's been a legislator for his entire political career and before that a lawyer (another deal-making profession). In my mind, this does not qualify him for the presidency. To be fair, I don't think John McCain or Hillary Rodham Clinton are qualified either, based on the criteria discussed in this post.

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Monday, October 23, 2006

Wretchard at Belmont Club has a long post about the nature of the Islamist enemy's ideology, and why the West will have to rethink how it is dealing with the threat. Of particular interest to me was this excerpt, from an interview in The Guardian with British Army Major Jamie Loden, recently (and probably still) in Afghanistan on his second tour there, whose master's thesis is on "The Need For An Ideological Response To Islamic Extremism":
The west had to give more support and publicity to Muslims who were trying to reform Islam from within, he said. The implications of extremism spread way beyond the Middle East. He talked of the notion of "sacred space", the notion that land conquered by Muslims in God's name must remain Muslim and, if lost, recovered. "That means Spain, bits of France... all over the place." Loden said there was a more risky interpretation of the sacred space doctrine which said that land where Muslims had a political majority was actually Muslim land. "So when you have the debate in Leicester and Bradford about separate education, separate areas of the town, you know, communities being allowed to apply their own law - then you are in fact going down a fairly dangerous path."
It will indeed be a long war, and to survive the West will indeed have to formulate an ideological response to Islamic extremism. As the saying goes, "You can't fight somethin' with nothin'."

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Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Our Friends, the French - II 

The French are once again showing what they're made of. They won't lift a pinky to disarm Hezbollah, but they say they're willing to fire on Israeli Air Force flights over Lebanon. Read the whole story, and perhaps it's more understandable why countries like Iran and North Korea thumb their noses at the UN.

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Saturday, October 14, 2006

Congratulations Tigers!!!!! 

It's been a long dry spell in Detroit. The Tigers won the ALCS decisively this evening, with a towering blast to left by Ordonez with 2 0n in the ninth, breaking a 3-3 tie.

Best of luck in the Series!

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Thursday, October 12, 2006

On Harry Reid's Land Deal and Other Politicians' Questionable Activities 

Call me unreasonable if you like, but I don't put much stock in confessions that are made after the sinners have been exposed and their sins made public.

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NYC Plane Crash Radar Track 

Paul at Wizbang posts a video that shows the track of Cory Lidle's plane for several minutes before the crash. It appears that Lidle's plane had a near-miss with another aircraft about a minute before the crash.

The comments contain some very interesting speculative analysis, especially USMC Pilot's 10:49 AM comment.

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Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Calif. Prop. 87 

Last night I saw a TV commercial in which Al Gore touts Proposition 87. That guarantees that I won't be voting in favor of Prop. 87, because I trust ol' Al about as far as I can throw his burgeoning arse.

Aside from that, it makes no sense to me. The proposition would impose a tax on oil production within the State of California, which would, among other things, make California oil marginally more expensive, which would lead to reduced oil production within the state, and undoubtedly increase oil imports by an equivalent amount, and probably increase retail prices of petroleum products. The additional revenue would be spent by bureaucrats to "reduce global warming."

I'm an agnostic on "global warming" and even if it exists, it would seem to me more likely than not that its cause is not anthropogenic.

It has always amazed me that the green crowd is so willing to bet the global economy on computer models of the global atmosphere, but so unwilling to rely on models that relate to, say, nulear waste storage, when the atmosphere is several orders of magnitude more complex and the data to be input into any atmospheric model is so sketchy, compared to what we know about the decay of fission products and the technology involved in creating a safe repository for them.

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Monday, October 09, 2006

NORK Nuke 

I haven't had the opportunity yet to really think this through, but I have the following gut-level impressions about the nuclear test announced by North Korea last night:

1. Diplomacy didn't work with NoKo, and probably won't work in the future so long as its current system of government is in place. Diplomacy probably won't work with Iran either. For diplomacy to work, the country whose behavior is to be influenced has to believe that it can accomplish its aims better by complying with than ignoring the diplomatic efforts of other countries. North Korea and Iran both currently believe that the "international community" is too fractious and lacks the necessary resolve to actually do something to back up their "strongly worded letters". It helps not to have a nutball absolute despot in control of the subject country. It's manifest that North Korea and Iran both have said nutball absolute despots in charge. Iraq used to have such a person in charge, now he's in the dock.

2. The "international community" is incapable of or unwilling to do what it takes to convince Kim that his actions are counterproductive to his desired outcomes. The great powers, China, Russia, the US and Japan, together with South Korea, have not been able to convince Kim that the consequences of his actions will be to his extreme detriment, not to mention the detriment of the North Korean people. I think this is partly due to the inability of all of those entities to get on the same page with respect to Kim's ambitions and what to do about them. Now that he claims to have tested a nuke, perhaps they'll get their act together, but I'm not optimistic.

3. Because of factors 1 and 2, it is likely that the history of Europe in the 1930s will be repeated in northeast Asia and southwest Asia within the next decade or so. I fear that the resulting wars will be shorter but much more lethal to the combatant countries. I pray that this prediction will prove abysmally wrong.

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Saturday, October 07, 2006

Nutballs are Nutballs 

I watched a little bit of Hannity & Colmes the other night (I usually avoid them because I don't favor "talk" shows on which people scream at each other and you can't hear what anyone's trying to say) when Hannity interviewed a woman from the Westboro Baptist Church--that's the anti-gay group that, among other things, goes around protesting at the funerals of military personnel who were killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

I couldn't help but notice how much the WBC representative sounded like the Islamic fundamentalists who protest almost everything from cartoons to soft ice cream logos.

Hate is hate, nutballs are nutballs, evil is evil. Nobody has a corner on that market.

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Thursday, October 05, 2006

Render Unto Caesar .... 

This post reproduces a comment I left at Ann Althouse's blog in response to her post, "What is the rational basis for banning same-sex marriage?". I thought I had posted something very much like this some months ago, but I could not find it.

"Render unto Caesar ...."

As I see it there are two components to the idea of marriage as most of us think of it. One component has to do with legal effects and the other has to do with status in the community. The State clearly has an interest in the legal issues, such as rights of inheritance, alimony, child support, property rights and the like, but in my view it doesn't have much interest in the community component, i.e., how the couple is regarded within the circle of friends, neighbors, co-religionists and the like.

I therefore favor the idea that the State should get out of the business of "marriage" and regulate only that component of the relationship that it has an interest in. Under this theory, the State would issue certificates of domestic partnership (by whatever name, but not "marriage licenses") to couples who wish to formalize their relationship, irrespective of gender or sexual orientation. The mere issuance of the certificate would confer upon the couple all the legal rights and responsibilities that we currently associate with "marriage", irrespective of whether the couple participated in a ceremony. The issuance of such a certificate would be a bright-line test: with it, the couple's rights and responsibilities to each other would be defined, and in its absence the couple would have no more rights and responsibilities to each other than roommates. (Obviously, their rights and responsibilities regarding children would have to be regulated in any event, just as they are now when a couple is not "married.")

"Marriage" would be totally a matter for the couple's community. If a couple wanted some kind of ceremony solemnizing their relationship, then they could go to a church or whatever to have that ceremony, and within that community they could be certified as being "married." If a couple wanted a secular ceremony, I suppose a local governmental body could provide the service, but it would have no legal effect. In essence it would have no more legal significance than a birthday party, but like a birthday party, it could be an important event for those attending.

I suspect that most mainstream religions would not agree to perform a "marriage" in the absence of a certificate of domestic partnership, but whether they did or not, a "marriage" would have no legal effect under this theory in the absence of such a certificate.

Full disclosure: I am a pracicing Catholic and I believe that "marriage" is a relationship between one man and one woman, but I also recognize that many gays and lesbians wish to enter into formalized relationships that establish both legal rights and responsibilities and status as a committed couple within their communities. If they are hung up on the word, "marriage," then they should be free to find a clergyman or official who is willing to "marry" them, but I don't think that their sexual orientation ought to have anything to do with their legal rights and obligations.

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Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Airliner Hijacking in Greece 

FNC is reporting that an airliner has been hijacked in Greek airspace. No information is currently available about the airline, the origin or destination of the flight, or much of anything else. As they say, "Developing."

UPDATE 0912 PDT: AP is reporting that the plane was a Turkish Airlines flight from Tirana, Albania to Istanbul and has landed at Brindisi, Italy. A Turkish TV network is reporting that the hijackers are two Turks.

UPDATE 1108 PDT: The two Turks who hijacked the plane said they were protesting the Pope's upcoming visit to Turkey. They have begun releasing passengers and are prepared to surrender, according to this story.

UPDATE 1524 PDT: Now the story is that there is only one hijacker, not two, and that the hijacking had nothing to do with the Pope, but rather the hijacker was motivated by a desire not to be conscripted into the Turkish military--i.e., he is a draft dodger.

What I find interesting about this story is how it has evolved over the course of seven or eight hours. It took that long for people to find out what was really going on.

This is perhaps a microcosmic demonstration of the infamous "fog of war." The hijacking was a crisis situation, but it didn't come close to combat conditions, in which bullets are flying and bombs are exploding. Nonetheless, the media's appetite for information required that something be reported almost from the initial moments of the hijacking. The reports may have accurately reflected what the media were told, but they proved inaccurate. Hindsight almost always gives a clearer picture of what happened in any given incident, because the pressure of time is absent.

Compare this incident with the Haditha case, in which the lives of Marines were in jeopardy, in combat conditions, and they were expected to act on the basis of the information that they had available at the time. I don't know what happened in Haditha, but I am convinced that the "blind men and elephant" phenomenon (or the "Rashomon effect," if you prefer) will be fully operational. One big factor in Haditha is that much of the information that came to light in hindsight was provided by a so-called "journalism student" who could have a very large axe to grind. Thus in that case, hindsight might not be more accurate after all.

I am continually amazed at what high standards we impose on our military, and even more amazed, and proud, that the troops so consistently meet those standards.

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