Saturday, October 30, 2004

Osama sues for peace?

An important point about bin Laden's latest video, from The Belmont Club's wretchard:

It is important to notice what he has stopped saying in this speech. He has stopped talking about the restoration of the Global Caliphate. There is no more mention of the return of Andalusia. There is no more anticipation that Islam will sweep the world. He is no longer boasting that Americans run at the slightest wounds; that they are more cowardly than the Russians. He is not talking about future operations to swathe the world in fire but dwelling on past glories. He is basically saying if you leave us alone we will leave you alone. Though it is couched in his customary orbicular phraseology he is basically asking for time out.

Read the rest HERE.

Hat tip to Michael Totten, subbing for Glenn at Instapundit for the pointer.

Osama: a signal?

I have to admit I was shocked to see Osama bin Laden alive and on television. I had presumed him dead, given the length of time since we had last verifiably heard from him.

I wasn't surprised to hear him repeating Kerry and Michael Moore talking points.

The real question is: why now? Is he so stupid as to think he can influence our elections, or is it a signal for a prearranged attack?

I don't think it could be a signal. The only way such a signal would be necessary is if there were a deeply imbedded terror cell with no other way to communicate, and instructions to act when bin Laden released a new tape. That strains credulity. Osama is the world's most wanted man, in his 60s, and on dialysis. It wouldn't make any sense to have a signaler who might not be alive or able to communicate at some point in the future.

Also, there are too many ways to communicate. Check an anonymous web email account at a public library, for example.

Finally, bin Laden has no history of issuing warnings. Most of his videos have been Al Qaeda recruitment films. He typically has not even directly taken credit for the many terrorist acts which can be traced to him.

It seems most likely the latest release, while proving he is alive, are a sign of weakness, not of strength. Americans know better than to pay attention to the rantings of our most hated enemy, and in fact may backlash against him, but in the Arab world his stature would be enhanced if his statement appears to have an effect on our election.

He is a man in hiding and in fear. Notice the neutral backdrop of his indoor message, in contrast to the outdoor setting for most earlier tapes. Osama cannot even risk that US experts can decipher his location from the terrain.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

John Kerry: lying once more

John Kerry has insulted our military by delaring them incompetent for not finding the powdered explosives at Al Qaqa, south of Baghdad. He is trying to blame Bush for this "growing scandal." Maybe he should talk to his foreign policy advisers every once in a while.

Top Kerry experts Richard Holbrooke and Jamie Rubin, both experienced hands from the Clinton Administration, have both said publicly this week that "we don't have the facts" [Holbrooke] and "we don't know the truth" [Rubin]. It hasn't seemed to deter Kerry from trying to make political hay out of the reports.

But the New York Times story was shoddy journalism at best. They ignored reports filed in 2003 that show the site was searched, and no IAEA seals were found, indicating the 377 "missing" tons of HMX/RDX explosives were moved before the war started. For instance, CBS News still has this one on their site.

Bill Gertz of the Washington Times is reporting tonight that Russian troops may have moved the cargo before the war. {The story was linked by Drudge, so the site is jammed now, but the link is HERE. According to Wizbang, FoxNews' Brett Baier is reporting that we have satellite video of truck convoys in the area at the time in question, AND he has located a copy of the Jan 2004 "Action Report" from the IAEA, which contradicts what Mohamad Albardi told the UN Security Council. Read about it at their site.

The story, once scrutinized for a couple of days by responsible journalists, has collapsed like a house of cards. The New York Times has become a bad joke.

And so has John Kerry.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Kerry: another whopper

Joel Mowbray breaks the story in the WASHINGTON TIMES HERE

U.N. ambassadors from several nations are disputing assertions by Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry that he met for hours with all members of the U.N. Security Council just a week before voting in October 2002 to authorize the use of force in Iraq.

An investigation by The Washington Times reveals that while the candidate did talk for an unspecified period to at least a few members of the panel, no such meeting, as described by Mr. Kerry on a number of occasions over the past year, ever occurred.

At the second presidential debate earlier this month, Mr. Kerry said he was more attuned to international concerns on Iraq than President Bush, citing his meeting with the entire Security Council.

"This president hasn't listened. I went to meet with the members of the Security Council in the week before we voted. I went to New York. I talked to all of them, to find out how serious they were about really holding Saddam Hussein accountable," Mr. Kerry said of the Iraqi dictator.

Speaking before the Council on Foreign Relations in New York in December 2003, Mr. Kerry explained that he understood the "real readiness" of the United Nations to "take this seriously" because he met "with the entire Security Council, and we spent a couple of hours talking about what they saw as the path to a united front in order to be able to deal with Saddam Hussein."

But of the five ambassadors on the Security Council in 2002 who were reached directly for comment, four said they had never met Mr. Kerry. The four also said that no one who worked for their countries' U.N. missions had met with Mr. Kerry either.

[more on link above]

Although Kerry lied about meeting "all" the UNSC members, even meeting with any is highly questionable. Foreign policy is the sole and exclusive province of the executive, and typically congressional committees coordinate their meetings with foreign officials with the State Department.

Of the permanent members, Kerry met with France, and allegedly Britain. He also met with Germany of the rotating members. What the heck was he thinking?

Oh, yeah, he was thinking of running for President, and wanted to appear as if he were a consequential member of the Senate, instead of just a show pony who only shows up for photo ops . . .


Thanks to INDC Journal for the pointer to this story.

UPDATE: Bill at INDC also gives a link to this Daily Recycler VIDEO. It's on-site video, nothing to download, from the second debate. Watch Bush's face as he hears Kerry's whopper. . .

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Spin this!!!

If you hate the "spin alley" after debates as much as I do, you need to watch this Quicktime movie starring Triumph the Comic Dog. He skewers both sides, and breaks through the spin.

Triumph was there, live and in the stinking flesh, asking direct and pointed questions of the spinmeisters until they sputtered, stammered, and turned away.

You need free Quicktime, and the file is about 15 MB, but well worth downloading, a barrel of laughs. It was originally broadcast on Late Night with Conan O'Brien, and comes to us courtesy of Rooftop Report. Download it HERE.

Hat tip to Southern Appeal for the link!

Kerry: Mum's the word

It probably isn't breaking news that John Kerry declines to be specific, so I am not shocked that he is dodging Bob Woodward of the Washington Post, with whom President Bush agreed to an extensive interview on Iraq:

At the end of last year, during 3 1/2 hours of interviews over two days, I asked President Bush hundreds of detailed questions about his actions and decisions during the 16-month run-up to the war in Iraq. His answers were published in my book “Plan of Attack.” Beginning on June 16, I had discussions and meetings with Sen. John Kerry’s senior foreign policy, communications and political advisers about interviewing the senator to find out how he might have acted on Iraq – to ask him what he would have done at certain key points. Senior Kerry advisers initially seemed positive about such an interview. One aide told me, “The short answer is yes, it’s going to happen.”

In August, I was talking with Kerry’s scheduler about possible dates. On Sept. 1, Kerry began his intense criticism of Bush’s decisions in the Iraq war, saying “I would’ve done almost everything differently.” A few days later, I provided the Kerry campaign with a list of 22 possible questions based entirely on Bush’s actions leading up to the war and how Kerry might have responded in the same situations. The senator and his campaign have since decided not to do the interview, though his advisers say Kerry would have strong and compelling answers.

Because the interview did not occur, it is not possible to do the side-by-side comparison of Bush's record and Kerry's answers that I had envisioned. But it seems to me that the questions themselves offer a useful framework for thinking about the role of a president who must decide whether to go to war.

Here are the 22 questions, edited only for clarity:

Click link above for the full article, which simply lays out the questions Woodward posed. Wonder why Kerry wouldn't bother to answer them?

Oh well, he won't release his wife's full tax returns, his medical records, or his full military records, either, so it's not much of a surprise. Only those with blind faith in his "secret plans" will be voting for him anyway . . .

Hat tip to Polilpundit for the pointer.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Heavenly cheers

Time out from politics for a brief moment.

I have to salute the Boston Red Sox for doing what no major league baseball team has ever done: come back from losing the first three games in a seven game series to win. They showed grit and determination, earmarks of a champion.

No predictions, as the Cardinals were pretty clearly the best team in baseball for most of the season, but St. Louis is facing some questions on starting pitching, due to injuries and late-season swoons. Should be a dandy Series.

But I have to tip my hat to my late Mother, who was born in Lynn, then just a bedroom community of Boston, and was a lifelong Sox fan. For years, she even shopped for stuff at Sears even when WalMart was cheaper, because Ted Williams had been a Sears spokesman for decades.

There could be a mystique for Boston this year, since they are leaving one of the great ballparks, Fenway, with so much history. Tris Speaker, the centerfielder who started more double plays than any outfielder in history {mainly by playing shallow and throwing out the lead runner at second}, Bobby Doerr, Babe Ruth, Cy Young, Williams, Yaz, Carlton Fisk, Jim Lonborg, Roger Clemens . . . and one of Mom's old quirky favorites, Jimmy Piersall, played there. And they have at least one friend in high places . . .

Good luck, Sox. Mom's cheering from above.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Why the Left loves Kerry

Some may be wondering, as I once did, why diehard leftists are supporting Kerry so enthusiastically, if he is indeed "strong on defense" and will "pursue victory in Iraq" and "better prosecute the WOT . . . hunt down the terrorists and kill them." The left isn't known for supporting American strength - many even opposed the Afghan invasion {predicting, as before Iraq, and before the Gulf War, ad infinitum, ad nauseum, that American soldiers would be coming home in "tens of thousands of body bags"}.

Many assume it is purely due to hatred of Bush. They recognize most leftists seem more like Deaniacs or Kookicinich kooks. But I think they underestimate the appeal of Kerry to the far left.

Consider: Kerry was rated the MOST liberal member of the Senate by the nonpartisan National Journal.

He was deeply involved with the radical left in the antiwar movement. On the question of Vietnam, did he take the side of the United States, or the communist North Vietnamese?

On the question of the Nuclear Freeze, did he take the side of the United States, or the Soviet Politburo?

On the question of Grenada, did he take the side of the United States, or the Marxist dictator Maurice Bishop?

On the question of missile defense, did he take the side of the United States, or the Soviet Politburo?

On the question of the Pershing II deployment, did he take the side of the United States, or the Soviet Politburo?

On the question of Reagan's military buildup, did he take the side of the United States, or the Soviet Politburo?

On the question of the Nicaragua, did he take the side of the United States, or the Marxist Sandanistas?

On the question of the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990, did he take the side of the United States, fifty other nations, and the UN itself, or the murderous dictator Saddam Hussein?

On the question of intelligence spending in 1995, when he proposed drastic cuts even Ted Kennedy thought unwise, did he take the side of the United States, or the terrorists?

Given his positions in the above instances, are you surprised the far left is fanatically backing him?

Answer those questions for yourselves. Then answer this one: do you believe such a man will strongly defend the United States against our enemies?

Remember your answer in the voting booth.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Pretty Boy

I feel pretty, oh so pretty,
Oh so pretty and witty and wise

I have to admit, Edwards is the prettiest candidate in the race. But getting there isn't easy . . .

Slate video by Harry Shearer

He signals he's ready for hair spray by closing his eyes expectantly, like a child. Then Edwards and the technician straighten a little more with their fingers. Please don't tell me that thing in his hand is a compact. Oh, dear. It is.

[more on link above]

After the compact appears, the rest is pretty boring. But the first part up through then is hilarious.

Kerry Excommunicated?

According to the Catholic World News, there could be trouble brewing for JK:

"I went to Rome in person to submit two critical questions to the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith," said Balestrieri. "The first: Whether or not the Church's teaching condemning any direct abortion is a dogma of Divine and Catholic Faith, and if the denial and doubt of the same constitutes heresy. The second: Whether or not a denial of the Church's teaching condemning every right to abortion also constitutes heresy. Father Cole, an expert theologian who studied the matter carefully, responded in the affirmative on both counts."

Father Cole wrote, "If a Catholic publicly and obstinately supports the civil right to abortion, knowing that the Church teaches officially against that legislation, he or she commits that heresy envisioned by Can. 751 of the Code [of Canon Law]. Provided that the presumptions of knowledge of the law and penalty and imputability are not rebutted in the external forum, one is automatically excommunicated ...."

Read the rest at CWN, linked above.

This will help the Kerry campaign in PA, OH, MI, WI, IO, NM and MN, since they don't any Catholics in those states anyway.

What's that? . . . oh, well, in that case . . .

Hat tip to Powerline for the pointer!

Sunday, October 17, 2004

The politics of flu

John Kerry has released a new ad claiming the Bush Administration is responsible for the flu vaccine shortage:

Seeking political gain from the vaccine shortage, Kerry's campaign released a television ad that says Bush "failed to fix the problem."

"Millions of Americans won't get their flu shots, including seniors and children," Kerry said while also blasting Bush on joblessness. "We've got people standing in line for hours on end, some of them in their 70s and 80s, hoping to be among the lucky ones to get it."

A Bush spokesman accused Kerry of hypocrisy for criticizing the president after voting against a measure that would protect vaccine manufacturers from punitive damages.

What is most perverse about this crass attempt to make political hay out of noxious weeds is that it is the actions of Democrats which have actually caused the current problems.

Liability insurance costs, having risen to the extent of eradicating profits on flu vaccine, have reduced the number of companies producing the vaccine from 25 thirty years ago to only two, both foreign, today.

Additionally, the 1993 Clinton plan to provide childhood vaccines "for free" caused many companies to get out of the vaccine-producing business. By capping prices without regard to costs, in order to "save" money on the program, Clinton forced several companies out of the market. His further restrictions on a key component, without any evidence of harm, reduced the field of producers even more.

Welcome to Democratic health care. If it comes soon to a hospital near you, don't say you were not forewarned.

Friday, October 15, 2004

I believe in John Kerry

I've decided I believe John Kerry is telling the truth when he says "I will never give another nation or group a veto over America's security."

Now I realize that Kerry will not take any actions at all to which anyone might object. The only major military action he supported was Kosovo, and pretty much everybody wanted us to go in there; there was more dissent about it in this country than in Europe. Well, Serbia wasn't happy about it . . .

But in 1990, when Saddam had invaded Kuwait and taken over their oil production, and had armies massed near the Saudi border, fifty-one nations, the largest coalition for military action ever, joined in moving to force him out. The UN endorsed and authorized the action. You don't get broader coalitions than that one; even France was on board.

John Kerry was against it. His prostestations about "allies" and "building coalitions" and "global tests" fall short of credibility when he opposed the most universal action in history.

Apparently, Kerry's "global test" means every nation in the world must participate with us, and none must oppose us. Presumably, whatever country was the target of the world's ire would object, and Kerry would stand down.

France won't get a veto over our use of military force. They won't need one.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Out of bounds

Political discourse must needs be spirited. The battle of ideas is a fierce one, and that is a good thing. Passionate advocacy from both sides of an important question increases the sum total of knowledge.

But there are, or should be, certain limits. One should not lie to advance one's political cause. One should never stoop so low as to use an opponent's family for political gain. No gentleman would ever do so, but sometimes exclusive academies and Swiss boarding schools fail to mold gentlemen.

So it was when John Kerry invoked Dick Cheney's daughter in the final Presidential debate. As a completely isolated instance, we might be inclined to attribute this to poor judgement in the heat of debate, a mere slip of the tongue. But John Edwards did exactly the same thing during the Vice Presidential debate.

A Presidential candidate does not repeat his running mate's recent errors. It seems both mentions were deliberate and planned. It is despicable.

Obviously, some focus group found that evangelicals and/or traditional Catholics said they were less likely to vote for Bush once they learned about the Cheneys' daughter's sexual orientation. So, John and John decided to make sure more of these voters heard about it - and if they missed it the first time in the little-watched VP debate, why, we'll give it too them again!

That it was calculated with malice aforethought is made more clear when Mary Beth Cahill, Kerry's campaign director, stated flatly that young Ms. Cheney was "fair game." Like an animal, to be hunted down for sport?

Then Elizabeth Edwards, wife of John, publicly decried Lynne Cheney's angry reaction as evidence the Cheneys feel "shame" about their daughter's lifestyle. Is there anyone who believes Mrs. Edwards' statements aren't 100% approved in advance by the Kerry campaign? If there is, please contact me for a great deal on resort property on the moon. Free green cheese to the first 50 respondents!

The naked ambition of these Senators should be disturbing to any decent human being. Have they no honor at all?

But I suppose they have answered that question already . . .

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Would Kerry? Really?

One Steven Sturm, blogger at ThoughtsOnline, presents a convincing case that Kerry would NEVER use preemptive war to defend America, no matter what "plans" the Senator claims to have . . .

I am going to prove my hypothesis that, while Kerry claims to be willing to take pre-emptive military action, in reality he is not. In order to do so, I’m going to stipulate to a number of conditions as I advance my arguments. I don’t believe that one could take issue with these stipulations – but I stand willing to entertain arguments to the contrary.

Stipulation #1: The war with Iraq is not an example of a situation that measures up to Kerry’s standards for justifiable pre-emptive military action. I think this is obvious, as he has said so many times.

Stipulation #2: The lack of a ‘genuine coalition’ is not what made Kerry determine the Iraq invasion to be the ‘wrong war’. Some might take issue with this one, but I’ve never heard Kerry say that this war would have been the ‘right war’ had ‘only’ some other countries signed on to the effort.

Stipulation #3: There is no difference between a country attacking us directly and providing support to a surrogate (country, group or individual) who attacks us. In both cases, the country will be deemed to have attacked us.

Stipulation #4: Attacking a country that has attacked us (or given support to those who have attacked us) is retaliatory in nature, and not pre-emptive, which, by definition, requires taking action in advance of an actual attack.

Stipulation #5: We would only use military force in advance of an attack if we believed that we were subject to attack – either by a particular country or by its surrogates. Taking military action lacking any such belief would be aggressive and not pre-emptive in nature.

What situations would give rise to us believing we were subject to an attack? Obviously, something along the lines of “I’m coming to get you” or “I’m going to help those who are coming to get you” would qualify. Were a country to take actions such as massing troops on our border, loading troop ships to sail to the United States, laying siege to our military bases overseas or so on, this too would also satisfy this test.

Read the whole argument at the link above; it is a compelling one.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

New Kerry ad hurts Bush on "issue gap"

John Kerry's latest radio commercial ruthlessly exposes the gap between him and the President on the major issues of our time.

Folks, I just don't know how we can answer this one. Listen to it in mp3 format HERE.

How can we possibly hope to keep up with John Kerry now?

Monday, October 11, 2004

They are at it again

The JibJab guys who did the great "This land is my land" parody have done it again, here. This one is even funnier.

Thanks to The Volokh Conspiracy for the pointer!

The Dred Scott decision and judicial activism

The spin on the left now is that Bush mentioned the Dred Scott case in answer to a question on judicial activism as a signal to Pro-Life groups. I am no longer surprised by any fantastic allegation from the left, but this one truly strains the imagination.

Bush was grasping for an example, and Dred Scott popped into his head. There are dozens of better and more recent examples of federal judges inserting their personal beliefs into their decisions, and reading into the Constitution something which is not there.

However, it is a valid example, nonetheless. First of all, in DRED SCOTT V. SANDFORD the SCOTUS ruled that no slave or descendent of slaves could ever be a citizen of the US. To arrive at this conclusion, they went beyond the text and engaged in speculation about the unspecified intentions of the Founders.

Secondly, the Court found that even if a black person were granted the rights of citizenship in their state, those rights would not be recognized by other states, and again, would confer no rights as a citizen of the nation. This is direct contradiction to Article IV, Section 2, Clause 1:

The Citizens of each State shall be entitled to all Privileges and Immunities of Citizens in the several States.

Thirdly, the Court declared that Congress had no right to regulate the importation of any person's "property" into another state or territory, in direct contradiction of Article I, Section 8, Clause 3 {the enumerated powers of Congress}:

To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes

[bold emphasis added]

Fourthly, the Court held that there was a distinction in the Constitution between "people" {most often, in the text, "person(s)"} and citizens, which there clearly is not. While there was, at the time, a differentation of the way slaves were counted {three-fifths of a person}, there was also the specific reference to slaves as "persons" in Article I, Section 9, Clause 1:

The Migration or Importation of such Persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the Year one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a Tax or duty may be imposed on such Importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each Person.

No distinction is made between "person" and "citizen" in the Constitution. It repeatedly refers to "persons" when speaking of citizens. One example of many is "no person shall become a Senator who . . ."

Given the above examples of the egregious judicial activism which led to this horrible decision, I believe it is most appropriate to consider Bush's answer in the context of the question, and how he referred to the decision. Reading too much more into it is speculation at best.

It should come as no surprise that other opponents of judicial activism, be they Right-to-Life groups, Libertarians, etc., also refer to Scott, as it is one of the more outrageous examples of what can happen when judges empower themselves to twist, rewrite, or ignore the Constitution.

The decision itself, for those who are interested, is here:

Jobs, Bush, and the economy

One of the poorest job performances of the Bush Administration has been on the economy. Not on policy; they have done fine there. The failure has come in explaining to the American people what has happened to us.

Our economy generates about $11 trillion of activity each year in Gross Domestic Product. Of that, the federal government takes about 23% per year, or about $2.5 trillion, leaving $8.5 trillion to fund state and local taxes, pay private sector salaries, fund mortgages, car loans, and credit cards, and invest in new business expansion.

From March of 2000, when the stock market technology boom first showed signs of faltering, to the bottoms in 2002, equity markets lost over $4 trillion. That was money that just disappeared from our economy, and was no longer there to fund our growth. Then, on 9/11, we took another direct hit of roughly $2 trillion in economic losses. Between the two, we lost at least $6 trillion.

This happened over a period of two and a half years. Now, suppose that over a similar period, you were without income for eight and one-half months. That was the effect of these economic hits. Would things get tough?

Now, suppose again that during this period there were certain major expenses that you just had to undertake, despite the loss of income. Wow, are things getting tougher?

Well, that is exactly what we have just been through as a nation. All things considered, we are doing remarkably well, and our economy is finally resuming the strong growth we enjoyed before these terrible losses.

I think most people understand this, in their hearts. I would still feel better if the Bush Administration articulated it more forcefully.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Out of the mist, he slowly walked

He was just a country boy from Nebraska. He never went to college. All he ever wanted to do was to play baseball. It was the one thing he did well which also made him happy in doing it.

He didn't know anything about the war, so far away from his dreams. He did manage to return from those fields so far from home, even to play baseball again, but he left a part of himself there. The artillery shell which had landed so close to him had killed many of his friends, burst his eardrum, and left him "jumpy" for the rest of his life. Whenever a child lit a firecracker, he was so startled that the fear on his face frightened those around him, too.

He turned to the bottle, not for comfort, but for oblivion. Only when senselessly drunk could he forget the horrors he had witnessed in war. But his succor took its toll, and his only true passion, his baseball skill, began to quickly fade away. His team abandoned him, traded him, but for a time a new team embraced him, and he played as he once had. A pitcher of phenomenal control, though, his accuracy failed him. The fastball, in younger days only a feared alternative to his deadly curves, became a more frequent weapon, and the good, younger hitters were finding the range. He was traded once again.

No longer did he find relief in the cheers of the crowds. The bottle became his only friend, and principal companion. His new manager was a player himself, though, and knew well the magic in that arm. But old "Pete," as everyone called him, could only manage yeoman's work on the mound for this new team. People still pointed him out in public, but now only to say, "See him? He once was the best pitcher in the game."

But fortune smiled upon him, as this new team won the National League pennant, and were matched against the surging New York Yankees in the World Series. Eyebrows raised when his team's player-manager, Rogers Hornsby, the greatest right-handed batter in the game before or since, chose the 39 year old Grover Cleveland Alexander, so far past his prime, to start the second game of the Series. They were raised even more when he won it.

Poor old Pete was called upon once more in the sixth game, with his team down 3-2, and once again beguiled the Bronx Bombers. Two wins in the World Series! Pete was as happy as he had been since the War! Why, more than a decade earlier, he had pitched in the World Series as the most dominant pitcher in the game, and only won a single game, as his Phillies lost in five.

Pete celebrated the only way he knew how: by getting drunk. But this time, it was in joy, and not sorrow. Every glass brought back memories of past glories on the diamond. For once, he was a happy drunk, and tied on a good one. He could barely stagger into the clubhouse for the seventh and final game, and once out in the bullpen, he sat on the ground in the corner, nursing his hangover, and only occasionally asking another pitcher how the game was going.

It was going well, at least until the 7th inning. St. Louis led, 3-2. The Cardinals' ace knuckleballer, Jesse Haines, loaded the bases with two men out, but developed a blister on his finger. He told manager Hornsby he couldn't continue. Whatever made Hornsby send the call out to the bullpen for Alexander, we will never know. He surely knew the aged star could barely walk.

But when the boy ran to the bullpen and cried, "He wants Alexander," old Pete sobered up. He stood and put on his glove. The fall afternoon in New York was foggy, and there was a mist hanging over the outfield where the bullpen was. At the plate was Tony Lazzeri, the Yankees' sensational rookie who had batted in more runs and hit more home runs than Gehrig that year, second only to Babe Ruth on the team. What a vision it must have been for the young star, seeing the pitching legend emerge from the mist as he slowly walked to the mound.

Once again on the mound: Grover Cleveland Alexander, one of the all time greatest pitchers, known as the master of the curveball. With the bases loaded, two outs, and a bad hangover, Alexander fed Lazzeri four fastballs and struck him out. He also retired the Yankees in order in the eighth, and got two outs in the ninth before walking Babe Ruth. Facing Bob Muesel, Pete was one out away from closing the Series when Ruth attempted to steal second, and was thrown out. The Cardinals won, mainly behind the arm of the old pro.

It was October 10, 1926. Alexander pulled himself together and had two more good seasons for the Cardinals, winning 21 and 16 games, but he was not the dominant pitcher he was before going to war. Two years later he was out of baseball, and spent his final years as a barfly. But, one moment in 1926 will forever represent the greatness of one of the best pitchers ever to stand upon a mound.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Thugs, punks, and vandals

There has recently been a upsurge in nationwide incidences of election sign theft and/or destruction, vandalism against cars and homes bearing Bush/Cheney bumper stickers or signs, and even violence against campaign workers. The vast majority of this activity is directed against Bush supporters.

I assume John Kerry does not approve of such behavior. Nothing in his background suggests he would. Certainly, the growing number of reports of these actions harms his campaign.

Aside from the recent attack on a Florida campaign office by union thugs, most of the perpetrators seem to be young people. The teenagers who burned a swastika into the yard of a Bush supporter in Wisconsin have come forward and apologized, saying they didn't realize the victim was a veteran. I suppose that in their minds, vandalism against non-veterans' property is acceptable.

The majority of these acts fit the youth profile. Signs stolen or torn, cars "keyed," stop signs spray-painted to add "Bush" are all typically juvenile tactics. Their parents must be so proud of these young people getting involved in the political process.

Is this what they mean by "Rock the Vote?"

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Edwards misstatements

Two misstatements by Edwards in the Veep debate don't seem to be getting much coverage.

First, I am almost sure I heard him say "John Kerry voted to cut taxes over 600 times in the Senate."

That averages out to 30 votes to cut taxes every year. Tax cut icons like Jack Kemp, Bill Roth, and Phil Gramm only wish they had had that many opportunities to vote for tax cuts.

Second, Edwards repeatedly claimed that Halliburton wasn't having their payments withheld, as is normally the practice when billings are under investigation. This is not true. Millions are being held up; it was announced months ago.

Here is a Houston Business Journal report in May, which was NOT the first time payments were withheld.

Edwards just wasn't telling the truth in these cases.


UPDATE: From the transcript:

EDWARDS: We are committed to cutting back anything in our programs that need to be cut back to get us back on a path to fiscal responsibility.

John Kerry, Mr. Vice President, has voted or co-sponsored over 600 times tax cuts for the American people -- over 600 times.

From that notorious right-wind rag, the Washington Post.


UPDATE: Polipundit's Lorie Byrd heard from military blogger Oak Leaf that Edwards' statement about "millionaires paying less taxes than our combat troops in Iraq" is false, as combat pay is tax-free. Says so here. Who ya gonna believe? John Edwards, or the Department of Defense?

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Cheney, by a lot

Edwards had his presentation down, but still looked helpless against a well-informed Vice President, who showed the leadership that made him White House Chief of Staff at age 34, a five-term Congressman, Secretary of Defense, and CEO of a $13 billion corporation.

Hindrocket from Powerline represented conservative bloggers, and gave a solid assessment, but he and Wonkette were only asked one question each. Why did they pick her, anyway? Kaus, Drum, or Marshall would have been better choices on substance, IMO.

A lot of good moments for Cheney, but I was most struck by the way he gave answers without feeling the compulsion to use up his alloted time on several occasions. It conveyed a calm and confident authority.

Why is this guy only #2? No, I know . . . it was a rhetorical question.

Dean Dizzy

I just saw Howard Dean on Late Night with David Letterman.

It says a mouthful about the Democratic Party that this man was their frontrunner for the better part of a year. Dean insisted we should not have invaded Iraq, so Dave asked him about it.

Letterman: Well, what would Iraq be like say, in ten years, with Saddam still in power?
Dean: I don't think we can assume he would still be in power. We could have removed him over time with pressure. He had been under pressure for twelve years, if we had kept it up we might have removed him in a period of time.

Aha! The Dean plan was to "keep on the pressure." You know, he could be right. Eventually, Saddam would have died of old age. Why didn't Bush think of that?

On how he or Kerry might have acted differently:

Letterman: But if you were President, or John Kerry, or me, wouldn't have been dealt from the same deck of cards [intelligence] that Bush was?

Dean: No, Bush misrepresented the intelligence. We now know Saddam wasn't talking with al Qaeda, Iraq wasnt' involved in 9/11, and Iraq hadn't imported the nuclear materials that Bush said he had.

Um, well, no. We do know that Saddam was in contact with al Qaeda, and no one ever said he was directly involved with 9/11. And what Bush actually said was "British intelligence believes Saddam was attempting to buy yellowcake uranium from Africa." Nobody said Iraq had obtained what they were looking for.

Listening to this moron makes me want to scream. But then I might sound like him.

Saturday, October 02, 2004

Bunker buster bombs: boom or bust?

John Kerry announced he would unilaterally forego research and development into "bunker buster" nuclear weapons. These are weapons specifically designed to penetrate deep into rock or concrete before detonating.

We know that enemies like Saddam, Kim Jong-il, and whichever illiterate old Ayatollah is leading the mad Iranian mullahs at present, have reacted to the advances of American precision air and missile power by constructing deep underground facilities which cannot be destroyed by current crop of conventional "bunker busters" {which operate on the same principle as the proposed nukes, but with less explosive power}. It is uncertain whether such redoubts could be compromised by even large nuclear explosions on or near the surface.

It's simple physics: the force of the shock wave from an above-ground explosion will travel primarily out and up from the target, because the ground below is denser than air. Even if a huge bomb or warhead were exploded directly over a deep bunker, that bunker might survive. This is the reality which led to construction of deep bunkers for our key government officials in the West Virginia mountains fifty years ago.

We do know that a massive above-ground explosion would have devastating results on the ground, however, killing hundreds of thousands and spreading radioactive fallout over a wide area. Since our targets in such an attack would not be the Iranian or North Korean people, but their leaders and weapons, we could only be sure of the collateral damage, and not the desired effect.

The bunker-busting nuclear warhead would be designed to penetrate deeply into the ground, rock, or concrete over the bunker before detonation. Thus surrounded by solid material, the shock wave would have many times the force underground than an above-ground detonation, with the objective of collapsing the bunker.

The arguments AGAINST developing such weapons fall into three basic categories: 1) practical physics, 2) diplomatic and treaty implications for proliferation, and 3) increasing the likelihood of actual use of nuclear weapons.

1. The physics argument. In order to penetrate deeply, a warhead must impact the ground at high speed. The higher the speed, the deeper it goes. However, current materials and technologies limit the possible speed at impact, because if the warhead is going too fast, it will lose structural integrity before reaching the desired depth for detonation. Some claim the maximum possible depth would be no more than 20 meters or so, which might not be deep enough to destroy a given bunker - but would still probably throw a significant amount of fallout into the atmosphere.

This argument presumes no advances in technology. It is similar to the objections to missile defense in the early '80s: "We can't do it right now, so it's impossible." Of course, our missile defense technology has advanced since then, to the point we are nearing practical deployment. Had this mindset been prevailing in the '50s and '60s, we might never have reached the moon.

Of course, the development of a new weapon entails innovation and technical advances, and always has. The bow and arrow was a new technology in the age of the spear. Had we not researched and developed stealth aircraft or missile defense, they would not have been "possible," either. The objection is fallacious.

2. The testing-treaty-proliferation argument. It is argued that we might have to test these weapons underground, which would violate the spirit of the test ban treaty {which we didn't ratify, but adhere to} and inspire or excuse other nations to seek nuclear capacity and/or do their own testing.

The experience of the last half-century is that other nations will acquire nuclear weapons whether we want them to, or not. Nations who have sought to do so either withdraw from treaties prohibiting it, or just ignore them. Non-proliferation agreements failed to prevent India, Pakistan, Israel, South Africa, and North Korea from going nuclear, or others from trying.

Neither is it certain that developing BBB would require underground nuclear testing. We would surely have to test penetration into the ground, to ensure structural integrity of the materials, but computer modelling is so advanced it might be able to satisfactorily evaluate the effect of a blast, once we know how deep we can deliver the weapon.

One thing is certain: our self-imposed abstaining from testing will not deter the PRK, Iran, or any other enemy from their own testing if they believe they can achieve nuclear insurance from American military force.

3. Lower-yield weapons make nuclear war more likely. This argument projects that by diminishing collateral damage by developing bunker-busting or battlefield nukes, they are more likely to be used in war.

This is essentially the same argument used against the neutron bomb, but in a different world. When our primary threat came from large enemies like the USSR and China, whose ambitions were for dominance and influence, Mutually Assured Destruction was a plausible and effective deterrent. The face and nature of the enemy has changed, though.

Using our huge warheads designed for Cold War MAD against smaller nations would be a horrific decision, and one that would not guarantee success against bunkered enemy leadership or weapons. They are therefore far less likely to be deployed, so in this respect the objection has some validity.

But, deterrence relies upon the enemy's uncertainty of our response. If a Kim Jong-il or Khameini think we won't dare strike, or can't reach their bunkers, our "deterrent" becomes a paper tiger. If instead we have the capability to surgically destroy them and their WMD facilities with limited nuclear blasts, it provides a far greater deterrent to them. MAD is a meaningless concept against an enemy who can't totally destroy us, and who knows we won't totally destroy them.

The fact is the more options in our arsenal, the greater the deterrent. To cut off even discussion of developing bunker-busting weapons, as John Kerry proposes, makes a WMD attack against us by a rogue nation more likely, not less. The uncertainty of our capabilities that BBB would add to their calculations would be the only realistic and effective deterrent against them.

Also, in cases like Iran, where fanatics might sacrifice themselves and their nations to attack us, the bunker busters give us an additional preemptive option, which could be used to deter them from proceeding with developing underground facilities for WMD. The only true deterrent is a credible threat, which these weapons constitute.

In sum, we can and ought to proceed with the necessary R & D expeditiously. The Cold War is long ended, and our nuclear strategy must adapt to the new geopolitical situation, just as our diplomacy has.

Hugh Hewitt is assembling a virtual symposium on this subject. Visit his site to follow the progress, or for the insightful posts and helpful links he provides every day. I do.

Allegorical satire

You must read ‘Johnny Nuance’ over at IowaHawk.

A walk down Memory Lane, back to those halcyon days in 'Tam!

The Debate: what effect?

The consensus thus far seems to be that Kerry "won" the debate, because presentation trumps substance on television, but that the internals haven't moved much. Those who said Bush was a stronger leader and better on the War on Terror before, still do in the same proportions.

My own thought is that Kerry's numerous errors will come back to haunt him in GOP commercials, whereas all he can put up against Bush are the split-screen scowls and a few pauses before answering.

Gerry Dale, whose Electoral College Breakdown has been around a few elections now, has a different take, based on the actual history of the races before and after debates:

Debating The Impact

The fable of the first Presidential debate is well known. Richard Nixon was known as highly intelligent, determined, and both experienced and skilled in the art of debate. His opponent, the young and dynamic John F. Kennedy, understood the medium better. Nixon showed up weary, and foolishly did not use makeup. Kennedy was tanned and rested, and had his presentation professionally attended. The cameras made Kennedy look even better, while the sweating and pale Nixon came across sickly and nervous.

According to the fable, those who heard the debate on radio declared that Nixon had gotten the upper hand. Those who watched on television, however, came away with a completely different impression. And as Erika Tyner Allen writes, "At election time, more than half of all voters reported that the Great Debates had influenced their opinion; 6% reported that their vote was the result of the debates alone." Given this, it would be easy for one to conclude that the first set of Presidential debates greatly impacted the 1960 election.

But while people probably, for the most part, do answer poll questions truthfully to the best of their perceptions, people also do sometimes remember things wrong, or otherwise end up answering in misleading manners. The entire race for President in 1960 had been fought tooth and nail. First one candidate, and then the other, opened up a 4-5 point lead with their convention. Heading into the debates, the race as measured by Gallup was a tie. Three straight polls, taken from early August through the middle of September showed the race either exactly even or within a single point. The actual results on election day were just as close; Kennedy took home 0.17% more of the popular vote. If 6% decided their vote on the debates alone, they must have done so half for each candidate; and if more than half of all voters had ther decision greatly influenced by the debates, they must also have come down on both sides in nearly even proportions.

It gets even better. According to Dale, the debates were only decisive in 1980, and pretty much irrelevant every other election. Read the whole article