Alan K. Henderson's Weblog


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Wednesday, September 29, 2004

An Evening With Virginia Postrel

Last night I went to her speaking engagement on her latest book at the Center for Contemporary Art in Dallas. She answered questions afterwards, and signed copies of The Substance of Style. (I sprung for a hardback.) The center is holding a Halloween costume party next month; I pondered the idea of donning pajamas and laptop and going as Charles Johnson.

During the discussion, someone raised an interesting question: whether society's focus in aesthetic value goes through historic cycles. Historic cycles, eh? I would think that aesthetics gets the most attention from inner-world-oriented Idealists and the least from efficiency-minded Adaptives.

Or efficiency-minded cartoonists. I posed the idea of Virginia teaming up with Dilbert creator Scott Adams on improving the workplace, and was reminded that Adams is purely interested in function and not style. (The Vision Thing has a review of Adams' "Out At 5" business model, presented in the final chapter of The Dilbert Principle.) Productivity can be quantified, but morale, which aesthetics influences rather subtly, cannot. The appearance of the workplace has a real effect on the mood of the workers, and should not be ignored.

What's An Ankle-Biter?

By now Steven Levy's Newsweek column "Living in the Blog-osphere" (entire article available here) has gotten lots of attention for its characterization of high-profile bloggers as "an intricate mutual back-scratch society that includes clever curmudgeons, high-tech avatars and angry ankle-biters who ferociously snipe at traditional media." What does he mean by that last term? The average person might suggest that "ankle-biter" simply means "pest." But keep in mind that Levy is Newsweek's technical writer and the author of Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution. In his domain of expertise an ankle-biter is a specialized form of pest. From the DigitalGuards Glossary:

A person who aspires to be a hacker/cracker but has very limited knowledge or skills related to AIS's [automated information systems, aka computer networks - AKH]. Usually associated with young teens who collect and use simple malicious programs obtained from the Internet.

Oh, someone should tell Mr. Levy that "blogosphere" isn't a hyphenated word.

Update: Do "simple malicious programs" include blogging software?

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Banned Books Week

Link via Jen. Here's the official list of books. Boldface = I've read the book, italics = I've seen the movie version only.

  • Scary Stories (Series) by Alvin Schwartz
  • Daddy’s Roommate by Michael Willhoite
  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
  • The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
  • The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
  • Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
  • Harry Potter (Series) by J.K. Rowling
  • Forever by Judy Blume
  • Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
  • Alice (Series) by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
  • Heather Has Two Mommies by Leslea Newman
  • My Brother Sam is Dead by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier
  • The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
  • The Giver by Lois Lowry
  • It’s Perfectly Normal by Robie Harris
  • Goosebumps (Series) by R.L. Stine
  • A Day No Pigs Would Dieby Robert Newton Peck
  • The Color Purple by Alice Walker
  • Sex by Madonna
  • Earth’s Children (Series) by Jean M. Auel
  • The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson
  • A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
  • Go Ask Alice by Anonymous
  • Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers
  • In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak
  • The Stupids (Series) by Harry Allard
  • The Witches by Roald Dahl
  • The New Joy of Gay Sex by Charles Silverstein
  • Anastasia Krupnik (Series) by Lois Lowry
  • The Goats by Brock Cole
  • Kaffir Boy by Mark Mathabane
  • Blubber by Judy Blume
  • Killing Mr. Griffin by Lois Duncan
  • Halloween ABC by Eve Merriam
  • We All Fall Down by Robert Cormier
  • Final Exit by Derek Humphry
  • The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
  • Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George
  • The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
  • What’s Happening to my Body? Book for Girls: A Growing-Up Guide for Parents & Daughters by Lynda Madaras
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  • Beloved by Toni Morrison
  • The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
  • The Pigman by Paul Zindel
  • Bumps in the Night by Harry Allard
  • Deenie by Judy Blume
  • Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
  • Annie on my Mind by Nancy Garden
  • The Boy Who Lost His Face by Louis Sachar
  • Cross Your Fingers, Spit in Your Hat by Alvin Schwartz
  • A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein
  • Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
  • Sleeping Beauty Trilogy by A.N. Roquelaure (Anne Rice)
  • Asking About Sex and Growing Up by Joanna Cole
  • Cujo by Stephen King (only the last half hour)
  • James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
  • The Anarchist Cookbook by William Powell
  • Boys and Sex by Wardell Pomeroy
  • Ordinary People by Judith Guest
  • American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
  • What’s Happening to my Body? Book for Boys: A Growing-Up Guide for Parents & Sons by Lynda Madaras
  • Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume
  • Crazy Lady by Jane Conly
  • Athletic Shorts by Chris Crutcher
  • Fade by Robert Cormier
  • Guess What? by Mem Fox
  • The House of Spirits by Isabel Allende
  • The Face on the Milk Carton by Caroline Cooney
  • Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut (only bits and pieces; I was only a teenager so I don't remember what it was about)
  • Lord of the Flies by William Golding
  • Native Son by Richard Wright
  • Women on Top: How Real Life Has Changed Women’s Fantasies by Nancy Friday
  • Curses, Hexes and Spells by Daniel Cohen
  • Jack by A.M. Homes
  • Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo A. Anaya
  • Where Did I Come From? by Peter Mayle
  • Carrie by Stephen King
  • Tiger Eyes by Judy Blume
  • On My Honor by Marion Dane Bauer
  • Arizona Kid by Ron Koertge
  • Family Secrets by Norma Klein
  • Mommy Laid An Egg by Babette Cole
  • The Dead Zone by Stephen King
  • The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
  • Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
  • Always Running by Luis Rodriguez
  • Private Parts by Howard Stern
  • Where’s Waldo? by Martin Hanford
  • Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene
  • Little Black Sambo by Helen Bannerman
  • Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
  • Running Loose by Chris Crutcher
  • Sex Education by Jenny Davis
  • The Drowning of Stephen Jones by Bette Greene
  • Girls and Sex by Wardell Pomeroy
  • How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell
  • View from the Cherry Tree by Willo Davis Roberts
  • The Headless Cupid by Zilpha Keatley Snyder
  • The Terrorist by Caroline Cooney
  • Jump Ship to Freedom by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier

Monday, September 27, 2004

The Day The Comedy Died

Johnny Carson was the best talk show host ever. While his skills as a standup and skit comic are top-notch, what really made the show was the way Carson interacted with the guests. Watching The Tonight Show was not like watching a bunch of interviews; it was like having company over for friendly conversation. The best talk show interviewer today is probably Regis Philbin, but he will never get a late night show because he's not a comic. Leno nor Letterman do a decent job of standup and interviewing, better than any of the rest of the late night crop, but the only skit comedy worth watching these days (I include the tailspinning Saturday Night Live in this assessment) is Letterman's "Stupid Pet Tricks," the content of which is controlled by rank amateurs and trained animals and not the host.

Now I hear that Leno will be replaced by that unwatchable hack Conan O'Brien. Sadness.

(Title of post inspired by this song about another entertainment medium going down the dumper.)

Update: Yeah, calling the "Stupid Pet Tricks" segment a skit is a bit of a stretch. But it illustrates the decline in quality late night comedy entertainment.

Oh, and leno isn't going to be retiring for several years, so NBC will have time to regain its sanity and find a better replacement. At least they're not giving the gig to Craig Kilborn or - even worse - Bill Maher.

Saturday, September 25, 2004


The blog receives its 60,000th visitor earlier today at 10:24 AM, from a domain in Arkansas (

I took a peek at the referral logs. I doubt that the person who did a Yahoo search on "sexy weblog farsi" will find what they're looking for on this blog.

The Gulag Collection

This site displays the paintings of Gulag survivor Nikolai Getman, who captured on canvas his and others' experiences in the gulags system.

(Link via Samizdata)

Today's Guest Blog At Sasha's

Playing Star Trek on an ancient IBM mainframe.

You Knew This Was Coming

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(From a Free Iran! email)

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Friday, September 24, 2004

House Passes Pledge Protection Act

I have a better solution than this. The only reason why this is an issue is because the government owns most of the schools where the Pledge is being recited. Privatize all the schools, and let each one decide what kind of pledge its employees will lead.

Jay Manifold once recommended an alternate pledge, written by William Tyler Page in 1917:

"I believe in the United States of America as a government of the people, by the people, for the people; whose just powers are derived from the consent of the governed, a democracy in a republic, a sovereign Nation of many sovereign States; a perfect union, one and inseparable; established upon those principles of freedom, equality, justice, and humanity for which American patriots sacrificed their lives and fortunes.

"I therefore believe it is my duty to my country to love it, to support its Constitution, to obey its laws to respect its flag, and to defend it against all enemies."

Or you could have the kids recite this.

I Guess This Is Bush's Fault, Too

Astronomers are observing the after-effects of a collision between two galaxy clusters. Blames Bush For Hurricanes

I am not making this up.

In an e-mail to supporters, rhetorically asks "why such extreme weather" has taken place with Hurricanes Charley, Frances, and Ivan causing billions of dollars in property damage and loss of life.

"Scientists agree that global warming makes sea levels rise and makes storms stronger, because temperature shifts disrupt the normal balance," explained. "Warmer water makes more violent hurricanes."

Rush Limbaugh links to a flurry of Tech Central Station articles. One of them, written by Dr. Roy W. Spencer, Principal Research Scientist at the University of Alabama (Roll Tide!) says this:

Hurricane formation depends on more factors than just high sea surface temperatures, which are expected to increase with whatever global warming ends up happening. Wind shear (the change in wind speed or direction with height), in particular, needs to be weak for hurricane formation. For instance, with more frequent El Nino's in recent decades we've seen stronger wind shear, and thus fewer hurricanes. The frequency of formation of African easterly waves in the Sahel region south of the Sahara desert is also important, since most hurricanes form from these waves as they travel westward across the tropical Atlantic Ocean. Predicting how wind shear and African wave activity will change years in advance is a little like predicting economic activity years in advance…there are too many variables and uncertainties involved.

And Oregon State climatologist George Taylor says this (emphasis added):

And there is no reason to expect increases in hurricanes due to greenhouse warming. Climate models, for all their problems, are unanimous in at least one respect: they predict that most of the future warming will be in high latitudes, in the polar regions. This will reduce the north-south temperature gradient and make poleward transfer of heat less vigorous -- a task in which tropical storms play a major role. All other things being equal, a warmer world should have fewer, not more, hurricanes.

This National Center for Policy Analysis article addresses the Sahel drought cycle and concurs with the historic relationship between warming and hurricane severity:

William Gray of the Department of Atmospheric Science, Colorado State University, has discovered a strong correlation between severe Atlantic hurricanes reaching the United States and an approximate 20-year cycle of wet and dry periods going back for hundreds of years in the western Sahel region of Africa.

To the degree that temperature makes any difference, the historical record indicates that a warmer climate results in weaker hurricanes while cooler temperatures produce more powerful storms.

The correlation with the Sahel rainfall patterns is explored in detail in this 1992 article in the American Meteorological Society's Journal of Climate, coauthored by William Gray and colleague Christopher Landsea. For a quick visual demonstration, NOAA has maps showing the tracks of all Category 3 or greater hurricanes striking the US East coast from 1933 to 1995 during the Sahel wet (12 storms) and dry seasons (6 storms).

So, do we solve the problem by making all of Western Africa permanently arid? Or by doing whatever it is that makes El Nino grow stronger? Good weather on one part of the globe can cause bad weather in another part, and vice versa. Bummer.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Swaggart Week Continues

As does Andrew Sullivan Week. (Now there's a double bill you don't see every day.) Sully notes that "most evangelical Christians do not share Swaggart's violent hatred." But he goes off the deep end (again) with this:

It seems to me that a central tenet of Jesus' message was that it is precisely the outcasts of society who are worth treasuring and loving. Yet it is a central tenet of the Christian right that the marginalized be marginalized and discriminated against still further. That is one of the many reasons they are neither Christian nor right.

First, one should be real careful when claiming that someone is "not Christian." Sometimes such verbage is intended to mean (in sloppy fashion) that someone is behaving at odds with Christian ethics; other times it is meant literally, that the someone in question does not meet the qualifications of Christian salvation. I will give Sully the shadow of a doubt and insist that he speak with clarity in the future.

Second, Sullivan offers no support to his claim that the political discrimination in question is unloving and unjust. All policies discriminate. Social Security discriminates against my desire to have full control over my retirement strategy. Election laws deny felons a voice in elections. Anti-pollution laws discriminate against both significant and miniscule pollution threats.

The problem isn't discrimination, it's unreasonable discrimination. As I said in the update to this post, "Sullivan doesn't consider that rational, moral people can disagree with the purported evidence that homosexuality is not a disorder, and thus hold opinions on gay rights different from his own." By saying that the Christian Right is unloving, he infers that it must know better, that the evidence of its wrongness is as plain as day. Well it's not. People are exposed to different sets of evidence, and they naturally come to different conclusions. If Sullivan is right, then why doesn't he offer evidence supporting his position? Why does he not consider that people can disagree with him on this issue without having ill intentions?

Meanwhile, the Evangelical Outpost links to National Gay and Lesbian Task Force executive director Matt Foreman's call for Christian leaders to denounce Swaggart's comments. People who condemn their adversaries' incivility should have the decency to condemn that of their allies. Will the NGLTF condemn the common belief, widely promoted throughout gay activism, that hatred and bigotry are the only possible motivations for believing that homosexuality is wrong? Will it denounce all those who blamed church teachings against homosexuality for contributing to the death of Matthew Shepard? Will it demand that every single organization that ever allowed NAMBLA to participate in a parade or demonstration apologize for allowing the pedophile organization to share that forum? Will the NGLTF condemn "hate speech" legislation in certain countries and campus speech codes domestic and abroad - both of which are supported by many gay activist organizations - that serve to suppress "politically incorrect" speech?

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Fake, But Accurate

A black-and-white photo of a purported 1954 mockup of what home computing could look like in 2004 is a fraud. It is actually a model of a nuclear submarine maneuvering room.

Actually, the RAND Corporation of the 1950s would probably have found such speculation to be optimistic. When I was a junior college student in 1980 I once speculated that in ten years we could have "briefcase computers" - a CPU/keyboard and a nearly-flat screen that fold against each other like halves of a briefcase for travel. (Beats the heck out of than that 30-pound Osborne with the built-in 5-inch screen.) In four years Roy Scheider was typing on a real laptop computer smaller than that in 2010.

There's a bit of truth in the fake photo: the experts often underestimate the potential of technological progress - and often by a wide margin. Remember this every time you watch a NASA press conference.

Gee, with a computer that big you'd expect it to come with a pajama rack. Maybe that's what the wheel is for.

(Links via Arcturus - see here and here.)

Update: I should have added that the experts of the day would have labeled my prediction as overly optimistic.

His Math Is Good, Though

Andrew Sullivan has spotted an article at The Age that puts the Iraq War casualties in perspective. Here's the numbers:

  • War 11,487 to 13,458 civilian deaths, 1049 coalition deaths in 509 days
  • Saddam in power 53,445 to 106,890 civilian deaths in 509 days

More On Swaggart

Eugene Volokh has yet another update. He excerpts the Christianity Today blog's chastisement of Swaggart, and expresses a bit of concern over an issue:

One more related point: Leviticus 20:13 unfortunately does say "If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them." I am very glad that most, likely nearly all, American Christians - and even those who tend to endorse a literal approach to the Bible - do not to my knowledge take this as a literal suggestion to kill homosexuals. I'm sure there are good Biblical arguments for why this passage ought not be taken that way, and I certainly hope that people follow these arguments.

I posted the good Biblical argument early last year. The short answer: God authorized a specific nation that no longer exists to carry out capital punishment in certain cases, and Christians have no such claim to that authority any more than President Bush has the authority to enforce the provisions of the Magna Carta. For the full version, click over and read the whole thing.

[Update: Also in the 2003 post, among other things I explain that Christian theocracy in general is a heresy, and that capital punishment for offenses other than murder, sedition, or treason are never appropriate for a non-theocratic government.]

Spoons makes a couple of good points:

To my surprise, he's getting some pushback (read all the updates) from readers and bloggers who object that they are not responsible for what a fringe character like Swaggart says.

Well, I wouldn't credit that sort of answer from a Muslim who refused to denounce terrorists, so I can't really buy it from Christians who balk at denouncing Swaggart.

I suggested in comments that Christians send the following note to the Rev:

The Bible tells us to be in the world and not of it, and our ability to function in it is deeply impaired when jerks like you give people false impressions of what we are about. STOP MAKING LIFE MISERABLE FOR US!

Does that qualify me for membership in the Ancient and Hermetic Order?

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Misrepresenting Christianity

Why did I call Andrew Sullivan a "nominal Catholic" in the previous post? Because of his claims here and here that Jesus said nothing about homosexuality. One can raise the point, as Donald Sensing has, that prophets address only immediate and widespread problems, and homosexuality was not such a problem in first-century Judea. One can note that Jesus did say something about marriage, that it is a necessarily heterosexual institution. For those of you who brought your bibles, turn to Mark 10:1-12 (emphasis mine):

Jesus then left that place and went into the region of Judea and across the Jordan. Again crowds of people came to him, and as was his custom, he taught them. Some Pharisees came and tested him by asking, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?" "What did Moses command you?" he replied. They said, "Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce and send her away." "It was because your hearts were hard that Moses wrote you this law," Jesus replied. "But at the beginning of creation God 'made them male and female.' 'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.' So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate." When they were in the house again, the disciples asked Jesus about this. He answered, "Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her. And if she divorces her husband and marries another man, she commits adultery."

But there's more. Sullivan implies that only the direct statements of Jesus are canon. This flies in the face of a major tenet of Catholicism: that "tradition" - post-apostolic revelations to the Church - are also parts of canon. So is Sully a Protestant? No, because Protestantism does not restrict itself to the red-letter text as Sully does.

At I did a keyword search on the word "husband" in the Pauline Epistles; virtually all results contain statements that wives necessarily have husbands and vice versa. Sullivan cannot support same-sex marriage and accept Paul of Tarsus as a prophet as Christianity prescribes.

At least Sullivan has the consistency to refrain from citing the Ten Commandments as an authoritative source in his Derbyshire Prize nomination for Swaggart. Anton N. Marco quotes a passage in his book Virtually Normal (emphasis added by Marco) that doesn't exactly jive with the law against adultery:

At times among gay male relationships, the openness of the contract makes it more likely to survive than many heterosexual bonds. Some of this is unavailable to the male-female union: there is more likely to be greater understanding of the need for extramarital outlets between two men than between a man and a woman...

...I believe strongly that marriage should be made available to everyone, in a politics of strict public neutrality. But within this model, there is plenty of scope for cultural difference. There is something baleful about the attempt of some gay conservatives to educate homosexuals and lesbians to an uncritical acceptance of a stifling model of heterosexual normality. The truth is, homosexuals are not entirely normal; and to flatten their varied and complicated lives into a single, moralistic model is to miss what is essential and exhilarating about their otherness.

This need not mean, as some have historically claimed, that homosexuals have no stake in the sustenance of a society, but that their role is somewhat different...they may be able to press the limits of the culture or the business infrastructure, or the boundaries of intellectual life, in a way that heterosexuals by dint of a different type of calling, cannot.

But wait, didn't Jesus say something about adultery?

Matthew 15:19For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. (See also Mark 7:21-22)

Mark 10:19 You know the commandments: 'Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, do not defraud, honor your father and mother.' (See also Luke 18:20)

Oops, Jesus supports the Ten Commandments! Sully will have to reason that open marriages aren't adulterous since the extramarital affairs are pre-approved. But Jesus described marriage as one man and one woman, not as an "open" or same-sex arrangement (or both). My brain hurts.

Update: A reader points to this October 14, 2003 remark by Sullivan: "Am I still a Catholic? I don't think I can call myself such publicly any more." What took him so long to figure out that a religion that bases its doctrine on more than just a Readers Digest Condensed Version of Jesus' sayings would refuse to accept homosexuality as normal?

Slandering Christianity

The topic and the title come from Eugene Volokh - see here and here. Jimmy Swaggart is coming out of a couple of decades of deserved obscurity for making this statement during a religious broadcast:

I'm trying to find the correct name for it...this utter absolute, asinine, idiotic stupidity of men marrying men...I've never seen a man in my life I wanted to marry. And I'm gonna be blunt and plain; if one ever looks at me like that, I'm gonna kill him and tell God he died.

Eugene Volokh called for Christian condemnation of Swaggart, and cleared up misconceptions that he draws any association between Swaggart's remarks and the Christian community at large:

When someone who is a Christian minister, and still something of a Christian leader, makes a claim about what Christian scriptures mean, it seems to me that those Christians who condemn his views - and condemn them as deeply evil, rather than just subtly or slightly wrong - do have a responsibility to speak out. Though this man calls himself a Christian leader, they should say, his is not the Christianity that we endorse. That, I think, is needed for them (1) to better educate their own children (whom they've presumably raised to have at least some respect for Christian leaders), (2) to diminish the chance that their fellow parishioners will be seduced from the righteous path by this Christian leader's cachet, and (3) to make clearer to the non-Christian world that the Christian mainstream does not endorse this interpretation of Christian scriptures...I'm not asking for anything much - I'm simply saying that Christians should be outraged at Swaggart's essentially slandering their religion...This is the standard that I use for members of my ideological movement.

LondonLady's comment at this Free Dominion forum thread echoes Professor Volokh's third point:

[I]t saddens me that unsuspecting people will assume all Christians are like him (Swaggert) when so many of us try so hard to be and act differently. Of course we all fail, we all fall down and make mistakes, but some people are so very high profile and public that what they do really sticks, for better or for worse.

I'm not without sin myself, so I speak carefully, but some people really do far worse harm to the reputation of Christianity than others.

I remember standing in a checkout line at A&P a few years back. The man in front of me was pointing to some headlines in the National Inquirer on those magazine racks that are always in your face right at the counters.

The headlines were all about Jimmy and Tammy Baker's embezzling and arrest and Jimmy Swaggert's prostitute "friend."

The man standing there waiting to pay ahead of me said in this loud obnoxious voice, "There ya go, that's why I don't believe in religion--they're all hypocrites!!!"

Such concerns are validated by two comments to JamesB3's post at Daily Kos on the story:

[Posted by Doppy]All of the animosity Bush and other lawmakers are trying to stir up against gay people to win their elections helps build this kind of hate and animosity.

[Posted by JamesB3 himself] This is why America is dead now. All of America is full of hate and violence and they will happily kill gays. That's why we are all dead. Everyone hates us.

Update:The nominally Catholic Andrew Sullivan does a little broad-brush painting, too:

Watch this broadcast [he links a tape of the Swaggart comments here] and see the forces that this president is riding toward victory on.

Sullivan doesn't consider that rational, moral people can disagree with the purported evidence that homosexuality is not a disorder, and thus hold opinions on gay rights different from his own. The Jimmy Swaggarts of this world reinforce the myth and make life miserable for Christian conservatives who do not exhibit such boorishness.

Friday, September 17, 2004

Now That My Pajamas Have Come Back From The Cleaners...'s another gem from a Free Iran! email:

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Wednesday, September 15, 2004

And It Happened Without Blogs

At National Review Online, Anne Morse tells the tale of a June 2, 1988 CBS special hosted by Rather titled The War Within, in which six Vietnam vets recount tales of horror. Oddly enough, none of it was true:

The truth was uncovered by B.G. Burkett, a Vietnam veteran and author of Stolen Valor: How the Vietnam Generation Was Robbed of its Heroes and its History (with Glenna Whitley). Burkett discovered that only one of the vets had actually served in combat. Steve Southards, who'd claimed to be a 16-year-old Navy SEAL assassin, had actually served as an equipment repairman stationed far from combat. Later transferred to Subic Bay in the Philippines, Steve spent most of his time in the brig for repeatedly going AWOL.

And George Gruel, who claimed he was traumatized by the sight of his friend being chopped to pieces by a propeller? Navy records reveal that a propeller accident did take place on the Ticonderoga when Gruel was aboard — but that he wasn't around when it happened. During Gruel's tour, the ship had been converted to an antisubmarine warfare carrier which operated, not on "secret mission" along the Vietnam coast, but on training missions off the California coastline. Nevertheless, Burkett notes, Gruel receives $1,952 a month from the Veterans Administration for "psychological trauma" related to an event he only heard about.

Mikal Rice — the anguished vet who claimed to have cradled his dying buddy in his arms — actually spent his tour as a guard with an MP company at Cam Ranh Bay. He never saw combat. Neither did Terry Bradley, who was not the "fighting sergeant" he'd claimed to be. Instead, military records reveal he served as an ammo handler in the 25th Infantry Division and spent nearly a year in the stockade for being AWOL. That's good news for the hundreds of Vietnamese civilians Bradley claimed to have slaughtered. But it doesn't say much for Dan Rather's credibility.

So how did CBS get duped?

As Burkett notes, the records of all of these vets were easily checkable through Freedom of Information Act requests of their military records - something Rather and his producers simply didn't bother to do. They accepted at face value the lurid tales of atrocities committed in Vietnam and the stories of criminal behavior, drug addiction, and despair at home

Morse uncovers this bit of irony:

During a 1993 speech to the Radio and Television News Directors Association, Rather criticized his colleagues for competing with entertainment shows for "dead bodies, mayhem, and lurid tales." "We should all be ashamed of what we have and have not done, measured against what we could do," Rather said.

Carnival Of The Vanities Turns Two!

Silflay Hraka is hosting, and my Mad Magazine fisk is among the attractions.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Religion Of Fear

FrontPage Magazine contributor Robert Spencer reports a recent conference in Falls Church, Virginia:

Right here in America, converts from Islam to Christianity spoke publicly only under assumed names, for fear of becoming the newest victims of the global jihad. The conference was called the Muslim Background Believers Convention, an evangelical Christian gathering sponsored by groups including the Baptist General Association of Virginia. The converts from Islam, according to a Washington Times report, spoke "only under fictitious names assumed for the occasion."

The Times noted that "the convention kept the registration and entrance process under tight security to protect the participants, many of whom say they face death threats or ostracism from their families for leaving the Islamic faith."

What kinds of stories do these people have to tell?

When converts are not killed, they are otherwise pressured. The organizer of the conference has felt the force of this firsthand: "I was called by my embassy and told I'd better repent or I could not go back home with my family." Another convert reported that she had not yet told her family that she had become a Christian. "I know they're going to disown me," she said, "if they don't kill me." In America.

Meanwhile, Don Feder reports that Al Gore is worried about our President's alleged religious fanaticism:

In the course of inflicting his wisdom on readers, Gore had this to say about the faith of George W. Bush (emphasis in original): "It's a particular kind of religiosity. It's the American version of the same fundamentalist impulse that we see in Saudi Arabia, in Kashmir, in religions around the world: Hindu, Jewish, Christian and Muslim."

Ex-Muslims in Falls Church have been disowned by family and fear for their physical safety. And what threat of religious persecution has George Bush ever posed to peaceable non-Christians? Zilch, zero, nada. Homeland Security isn't planning to behead Hindus, deport Jews, bomb mosques, or take away your Harry Potter novels. Chill.

NewsMax Goes To France

It's good to be king:

According to BBC News Online, French President Jacques Chirac was recently on his way to see his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, in the Black Sea resort town of Sochi.

Something went wrong along the way. The flight from Paris normally takes about 3 hours 40 minutes, but Chirac's presidential air chariot was in the air twice that time.

Why? Because the French leader put out the 'do not disturb' sign so he could get a full night's sleep.

The BBC, quoting a "solid" source "within aviation," says Chirac's plane took off from Paris about 11:15 p.m. local time, but Chirac – looking refreshed and revived - didn't arrive in Sochi until 5:20 the next morning.

To ensure uninterrupted slumber, the French leader ordered his pilots to fly a circuitous route all across France before finally turning toward Russia.

Before all was said and done, the French taxpayer was forced to cough up the funds for an extra 1,250 miles' worth of aviation fuel for their pampered boss - though we're sure the additional strain of responsibility on French officials responsible for the president's security is "priceless."

Oh, the shark, babe, has such teeth, dear, and it shows them pearly white...

Now France's interior minister and a poet, de Villepin has written "Le Requin et La Mouette" (The Shark and the Seagull), in which he uses poetic imagery to justify his nation's vehement opposition to the Iraq war.

Borrowing the terms shark and seagull from another French author, Eric Cantona, the elegant de Villepin implies that the shark, "a symbol of power, strength and the refusal to be halted by the complexity of the world ... cutting through the sea and pouncing on its prey," represents George Bush's America, which simple-mindedly rejects other cultures.

Okay, while y'all are feeling indignant about Slick Villy comparing the US of A to a predatory carnivore, ask yourselves this: since when did the current French government have anything against predators? The Heritage Foundation summarizes France's skewed allegiances:

[T]he French government has made great show of opposing the American military intervention in Iraq, from the U.N. Security Council to the most recent NATO meeting in Istanbul earlier this summer. And French leaders routinely pay fawning visits to Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

The same article notes Villepin's admiration for Napoleon - that's Bonaparte, not Solo. Yeek.

Monday, September 13, 2004

This Is Questionable, Too

No, this has nothing to do with memos. Here's something that Banafsheh Zand-Bonazzi is sending out on the Free Iran! mailing list:

 photo Europe_2015.jpg
I'm skeptical about the developments in Poland, Austria, and Hungary. British control of the Balearics seems odd, too - I guess the residents of Gibraltar will build their stronghold there after the Moors kick them out.

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Another Suspect Document

(Click image to enlarge)

 photo LGF-fraud.jpg


Sunday, September 12, 2004

Blogroll Addition

Kojinshugi Sam Muldia of Unigolyn recently moved, and is blogging from this Blogger account in the interim before relaunching Unigolyn. I've put Kojinshugi (a Google search will reveal its meaning) right next to the Unigolyn link. In his 9/11 post, Sam recalls his reaction to the early news coverage and summarizes our progress on the War on Terror. In the same post he addresses the opposition to the Bush administration's basic war strategy:

I think a part of the reason the rest of the world does not realize what the only cure for this disease is - is that they aren't America. America is unique - a country comprised of nearly every ethnicity, race, religion and creed, that unlike former Yugoslavia, untold African nations, Indonesia, China, and the rest, functions. Not only does it function, but it has become the strongest, freest, most prosperous country on earth. Why?

Because of human nature. When we are not in control of our lives, it is natural for us to blame others. When we are kept from knowing the truth by others, it is natural for us to have undirected resentment. Such conditions inevitably lead to xenophobia. And always, without exception, a charismatic individual or group of individuals will rise, and direct this force of anger, this desperation, this quintessentially human unwillingness to be controlled. And in this perverted and monstrous way of manipulating this noble quality, these immoral monsters turn whole generations of young men and women into monsters themselves.

The cure is freedom. Nothing else will work, apart from the total obliteration of a billion human beings, and that is not an option, but a final and horrifying last resort. And it is not necessary, because freedom works.

There's a flip side to this. Many Westerners have no inkling of the degree to which the unfree world has robbed its citizens of control over their own lives. We have little idea what everyday life is like under military dictatorship, theocracy, or Communism. Few of us know Cubans who have served jail sentences for listening to American radio, Serbs and Sudanese who live under the threat of ethnic cleansing, Israelis who have survived suicide bombing attacks, or Chinese who have been jailed for private religious assembly. We cannot comprehend life where there is no free press, where travel within the country is heavily controlled, where basic government services cannot be obtained without bribes, where many of the goods we see in stores every day must be obtained through the black market.

Sam is right when he says later that freedom is an "unfathomable idea" to much of the world. To much of the West, tyranny is equally unfathomable. Those who don't know the cure also don't know the ailment.

Fisking Mad Magazine

Joshua Claybourn points to a Daily Kos post that displays a Mad Magazine parody titled "The Bush Campaign's TV Commercial If He Was [sic] Running Against Jesus." Kos thinks it's funny. But humor has to be based on truth to be funny, and this is pure idiocy.

Frame 1:

Jesus of Nazareth says, "Give to them who begs from you, and do not refuse him who would borrow from you. Jesus favors more government handouts for welfare cheats.

Note that Jesus does not say, "Force others to give to others whether they want to or not." Charity is voluntary. Government programs are not voluntary, and are therefore not charity.

Frame 2:

Jesus of Nazareth says, "Judge not, that you not be judged." Jesus is soft on crime.

Soft on crime? The same Jesus who endorsed private sword ownership?

Ah yes, that old verse often cited to support the notion that only non-Christians are morally authorized to criticize people. Jesus is not saying that people should never judge others. In the same address He tells people to watch out for false prophets - an activity that requires judging others. Here's what Mad is leaving out:

"For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye."

This is an extension of the Golden Rule - do not judge others by the measure you would have others judge you.

Frame 3:

Jesus of Nazareth says, "Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's". Jesus will raise your taxes.

Jesus didn't tell the crowd that everything Caesar demands is rightly his. Nor did Jesus state that He would micromanage Roman tax policy.

Jesus' questioners were trying to trap Him in a question intended to place Jesus on the side of either the Romans or the Jews. Jesus' answer contains a subtle slap at Caesar, as explained in the NIV Study Bible notes (emphasis mine):

The common Roman coin of that day [the denarius]...On one side was the portrait of Emperor Tiberius and on the other the inscription in Latin: "Tiberius Caesar Augustus, son of the divine Augustus. The coin was issued by Caesar and was used for paying tax to him...In distinguishing clearly between Caesar and God, Jesus also protested against the false and idolatrous claims made on the coins.

Frame 4:

Jesus of Nazareth says, "Do not resist one who is evil. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn him the other." Can we trust Jesus to fight the War on Terror?

Or to defend the livelihoods of trial lawyers? John Edwards, call your office.

Let's look at the surrounding text:

"You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.' But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you."

Some Jews had taken the Old Testament commands for reciprocal (as opposed to excessive) punishment out of context, using the law to justify vengeance against every misdeed great and small. With a little hyperbole, Jesus is teaching forgiveness, and the examples he uses are relatively small misdeeds. "Let people kill you and your neighbors" is not the message here - and certainly doesn't jive with the Golden Rule or the Parable of the Good Samaritan. Shoot terrorists attacking others as you would have others shoot terrorists attacking you.

Frame 5:

Jesus - Wrong on social services. Wrong on crime. Wrong on defense. Wrong on America.

Been there, fisked that.

Frame 6:

I'm George W. Bush, and I approve this message.

In your dreams, Kos. I bet the Democratic Underground would pay a lot to see it air on television.

The sad thing is that some people actually believe the idiocy in the Mad parody.

So when is Mad gonna have John Kerry rail against Moses for telling people not to bear false witness against their neighbors? Since the mag is so good at taking words out of context, it could have a field day with the Vietnam veteran's take on "Thou shalt not kill." [Update: The proper translation is "Thou shalt not murder."] He might also have a beef with King Solomon for what he wrote in Ecclesiastes 10:2.

Update: Some readers may be thinking, "So what? It's only the Bible. Why should I care?" Because it's not just the Bible, or other antique documents such as the Constitution. And it's not just academic subjectivist lunacy. It's also everyday communication. Many people are sloppy about interpreting what others say, especially during the past generation. How many times have people deluded themselves into thinking that you expressed one idea when you in fact expressed another? (Can I get an "amen" from Glenn Reynolds? Or Sean Hannity?)

I don't have a magic bullet to solve the problem. But here's three tips. First, be aware of and avoid subjective catchphrases. Second, pay attention to the entire message, not just to snippets. Third, if you're approaching a sensitive subject, take extra precautions to ensure clarity. This means you, Sean; a better subtitle would have been How The Left Abets Despotism And Terrorism - Whether It Intends To Or Not.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

My Own Question Regarding Memogate

In the comments to this Brad DeLong post, "jm" has a theory about the auto-centered text in the header of one of the questioned documents:

Regarding the letterhead, in the early 70's it would almost certainly have been on letterhead paper from a print shop. Perfect centering and consistency would be expected. Interline spacing identical to MS Word's would not be surprising -- Word was designed to mimic what people were used to seeing from print shops.

The text in question - Chronically Biased has an image here - looks something like this:

111th Fighter Interceptor Squadron
P. O. Box 34567
Houston, Texas 77034

Did the 111th have such pre-printed letterhead? That shouldn't be too difficult to research. If the answer is no, then Chronically Biased's charge stands:

Since typewriters mechanically stamp letters onto a sheet of paper one at a time, it is physically impossible to create a mechanical typewriter document that perfectly aligns two or more centered rows of text on top of each other.

Update: Does this look like professional letterhead? Image is magnified and even-spaced straight lines are inserted.

 photo CBS-Doc-Header.jpg

Because nobody uses a micrometer to perfectly align documents that are being scanned or photocopied or otherwise reproduced, the text of such copies always slope. The imbedded lines should help you discern the imaginary line of that slope - and to see that the letters do not perfectly align with that slope as they would had a professional printer produced the header. In particular, the machine that printed the header drops the "x" a little low - the "3" and "as" should be closer to the pink lines than the x's to their immediate left, but they're not.

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"We Are All Americans"

Tim Blair links to this post written shortly after the attacks.

Daimnation! remembers that 24 canadians died that day.

Davids Medienkritik remembers that six German nationals who died that day. Also posted is the text of President Bush's address that evening, and a brief salute to Pat Tillman.

Dodgeblogium points out that the 9/11 attack was an attack on many nations.

The Dissident Frogman first learned about the attacks from his mom.

Live From Brussels links to a slideshow of the events of 9/11.

Oxblog posts an image of the flag-raising at Ground Zero.

No Pasaran has several posts - Chuch Simmons' memorial, the two Europes, L'obsession du 11 septembre 11, a link to an Andrew Sullivan excerpt of a Sunday Times (London) editorial, and a link to a Romanian editorial written two weeks after 9/11.

Samizdata identifies the enemy.

Natalie Solent quotes Matthew 10:29-31.

Bjørn Stærk challenges claims that Bush policy escalated global terrorism.

Sofia Sideshow links to a story about a performance that Russians are not greeting warmly:

Russia has cancelled a Sept 11 anniversary concert that would feature a singer dressed as suicide bomber.

Tickets to the show were designed to resemble plane tickets, alluding to the hijacked passenger planes that rammed into the NY skyscrapers.

The show was planned by Ivan Shapovalov, the impresario behind scandalous pop duo Tatu.

Shapovalov did not confirm the concert had been cancelled, and told local Izvestiya daily that cared little about what Russians might think about his show.

Friday, September 10, 2004

Scrappleface Finds More Scandalous Memos

1972 Email Casts Doubt on Bush Guard Service

Today's Guest Blog At Sasha's

The blogosphere makes a difference.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

More Drug Use Allegations

NewsMax reports James Carville's latest conspiracy theory:

Frothing-at-the-mouth Democrat attack dog James Carville is accusing Republican Party officials of drugging Sen. Zell Miller for media appearances after his speech to the GOP convention last week.

"They probably shot him up with something," the wild-eyed Ragin' Cajun insisted Wednesday during an interview with radio host Don Imus.


"They got that poor man in the twilight of his career and just used him," the former Clinton adviser insisted. "They said, 'Look, go up there and say this,' and they handed him a bunch of documents."

Kitty Litter

Kitty Kelley's recent biography on the Bush family is in big trouble. The most startling allegation in The Family: The Real Story of the Bush Dynasty is Sharon Bush's claim thsat George W. Bush used cocaine at Camp David during his father's presidential tenure. But wait - Sharon Bush says she told Kelley no such thing:

"I categorically deny that I ever told Kitty Kelley that George W. Bush used cocaine at Camp David or that I ever saw him use cocaine at Camp David," ex-Bush sister-in-law Sharon Bush said in a statement issued yesterday, according to the Washington Post.

Instead, said the one-time Bush family insider, "When Kitty Kelley raised drug use at Camp David, I responded by saying something along the lines of 'Who would say such a thing?'"

The recantation of the book's central charge has flummoxed media outlets that were planning a mega-rollout for the anti-Bush screed.

The only way Kelley's book can be linked to an actual cocaine story is if this debacle drives her publishers to drugs.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Hot Oscar Pick?

Michael Moore will not seek the Academy Award for Best Documentary in 2005 for Fahrenheit 9/11:

The only problem with my desire to get this movie in front of as many Americans as possible is that, should it air on TV, I will NOT be eligible to submit "Fahrenheit 9/11" for Academy Award consideration for Best Documentary. Academy rules forbid the airing of a documentary on television within nine months of its theatrical release (fiction films do not have the same restriction).

Although I have no assurance from our home video distributor that they would allow a one-time television broadcast -- and the chances are they probably won't -- I have decided it is more important to take that risk and hope against hope that I can persuade someone to put it on TV, even if it's the night before the election.

Therefore, I have decided not to submit "Fahrenheit 9/11" for consideration for the Best Documentary Oscar. If there is even the remotest of chances that I can get this film seen by a few million more Americans before election day, then that is more important to me than winning another documentary Oscar. I have already won a Best Documentary statue. Having a second one would be nice, but not as nice as getting this country back in the hands of the majority.


I have informed our distributors of my decision. They support me (in fact, they then offered to submit our film for all the other categories it is eligible for, including Best Picture -- so, hey, who knows, maybe I'll get to complete that Oscar speech from 2003! Sorry, just kidding).

Whom Does Protectionism Protect?

From the Wikipedia entry on sugar (emphasis mine):

Surprisingly, the world's second largest sugar exporter is the EU. Although beet sugar costs four times as much to produce as cane sugar, huge subsidies and a high import tariff make it difficult for other countries to export to the EU, or compete with it on world markets. The U.S. sets high sugar prices to support its producers with the effect that many sugar consumers have switched to corn syrup (beverage manufacturers) or moved out of the country (candy makers).

Monday, September 06, 2004

Today's Guest Blog At Sasha's

Happy Commerce Day!

Beslan Terror Roundup

Davids Medienkritik has a special category for Beslan posts.

Brad DeLong says, "Today we are all Russians, we are all Ossetians."

InstaPundit has lots of links, and notes the Russian rescuer wearing the American flag t-shirt.

Sean LaFreniere has commentary and pictures.

LGF says the terrorists followed an al-Qaeda kidnapping manual.

Russian Dilettante identifies the terrorists.

And James Lileks notes an odd Star-Tribune headline:

"This week's bloodbath in Russia shattered the notion that innocents are taboo terror victims."

After pondering the taboo status of the victims of terror in New York, Jerusalem, Bali, and Madrid, he says this:

And I can hear the eyerolling already; why bother, who cares. But I don’t know how someone can write a sentence like that in 2004. And I don’t know how a reputable wire service (AP!) (coff) can send it out. It’s like reading a dispatch from occupied Paris in 1943 wondering whether the Nazis have ambitions beyond the Sudentenland.


Saturday, September 04, 2004

Today's Guest Blog At Sasha's

Recapping the Republican convention.

Friday, September 03, 2004

New Blogroll Addition

The Shrill Blog "An Offical Blog of the Ancient and Hermetic Order of the Shrill" The blog description comes from a phrase used occasionally by Brad DeLong in post headlines such as this. Andrew Northrup and Andrew Sullivan have been nominated "for the High Office of Grand Exalted Heresiarch of the Order of the Shrill" - see announcement here, and scroll down to next two posts for excerpts of Northrup's and Sullivan's shrillness.

Ladies And Gentlemen, The President Of The United States

(NewsMax has the full text here.)

Early in the speech, President Bush rolls through the basic issues: the war, education reform, Medicare prescription drug vouchers, tax relief.

My plan begins with providing the security and opportunity of a growing economy. We now compete in a global market that provides new buyers for our goods, but new competition for our workers. To create more jobs in America, America must be the best place in the world to do business. To create jobs, my plan will encourage investment and expansion by restraining federal spending, reducing regulation and making tax relief permanent.

To create jobs, we will make our country less dependent on foreign sources of energy. To create jobs, we will expand trade and level the playing field to sell American goods and services across the globe. And we must protect small business owners and workers from the explosion of frivolous lawsuits that threaten jobs across America.

All good stuff. But why did you have to wait for a second term to start controlling spending?

Another drag on our economy is the current tax code, which is a complicated mess -- filled with special interest loopholes, saddling our people with more than six billion hours of paperwork and headache every year. The American people deserve -- and our economic future demands -- a simpler, fairer, pro-growth system. In a new term, I will lead a bipartisan effort to reform and simplify the federal tax code.

Someone once told me that taxes are oppressive in their level and in their complexity. It's time to attack both.

Another priority in a new term will be to help workers take advantage of the expanding economy to find better, higher-paying jobs. In this time of change, many workers want to go back to school to learn different or higher-level skills. So we will double the number of people served by our principal job training program and increase funding for community colleges.

So much for controlling spending.

More than half of the uninsured are small business employees and their families. In a new term, we must allow small firms to join together to purchase insurance at the discounts available to big companies.

Aren't there already companies that do that?

Thanks to our policies, home ownership in America is at an all-time high.

And palace ownership in Iraq is at an all-time low.

We must strengthen Social Security by allowing younger workers to save some of their taxes in a personal account -- a nest egg you can call your own and government can never take away.

I don't see it as strengthening Social Security. I see it as mitigating its destructiveness.

We are transforming our schools by raising standards and focusing on results. We are insisting on accountability, empowering parents and teachers and making sure that local people are in charge of their schools. By testing every child, we are identifying those who need help -- and we're providing a record level of funding to get them that help.

Standardized testing does one thing: it establishes minimum educational standards. The overemphasis on such testing means that curricula do not sufficiently rise above the bare necessities. Minimal standards did not cure polio, put men on the Moon, or invent the microprocessor. In my school days I took a few standardized tests. We did not have special classes deigned for them, dragging us back to the minimum (except in history class, where the education is already minimal) to make sure we've met that level.

The problem with education is that too much of it is standardized, while student needs and student potential is not. Students need more variety and more opportunity to pursue excellence.

His policies of tax and spend -- of expanding government rather than expanding opportunity -- are the policies of the past.

Is your policy of spending in the past, too?

So we have fought the terrorists across the earth -- not for pride, not for power, but because the lives of our citizens are at stake.

The short-term battle losses are nothing compared to the long-term losses that will result from doing nothing.

We have tripled funding for homeland security and trained half a million first responders, because we are determined to protect our homeland.

Is the quality matching the price tag? Frankly, I suspect spending decreases - that is, getting rid of cumbersome bureaucracy - is called for.

War progress, in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan:

Our strategy is succeeding. Four years ago, Afghanistan was the home base of al-Qaida, Pakistan was a transit point for terrorist groups, Saudi Arabia was fertile ground for terrorist fund-raising, Libya was secretly pursuing nuclear weapons, Iraq was a gathering threat, and al-Qaida was largely unchallenged as it planned attacks. Today, the government of a free Afghanistan is fighting terror, Pakistan is capturing terrorist leaders, Saudi Arabia is making raids and arrests, Libya is dismantling its weapons programs, the army of a free Iraq is fighting for freedom, and more than three-quarters of al-Qaida's key members and associates have been detained or killed. We have led, many have joined, and America and the world are safer.

The United Nations' progress in Iraq:

We went to the United Nations Security Council, which passed a unanimous resolution demanding the dictator disarm, or face serious consequences. Leaders in the Middle East urged him to comply. After more than a decade of diplomacy, we gave Saddam Hussein another chance, a final chance, to meet his responsibilities to the civilized world. He again refused...

What the UN could not accomplish:

Because we acted to defend our country, the murderous regimes of Saddam Hussein and the Taliban are history, more than 50 million people have been liberated, and democracy is coming to the broader Middle East. In Afghanistan, terrorists have done everything they can to intimidate people -- yet more than 10 million citizens have registered to vote in the October presidential election -- a resounding endorsement of democracy. Despite ongoing acts of violence, Iraq now has a strong prime minister, a national council, and national elections are scheduled for January.

I have a question...

Our nation is standing with the people of Afghanistan and Iraq, because when America gives its word, America must keep its word. As importantly, we are serving a vital and historic cause that will make our country safer. Free societies in the Middle East will be hopeful societies, which no longer feed resentments and breed violence for export. Free governments in the Middle East will fight terrorists instead of harboring them, and that helps us keep the peace.

What would a free Vietnam be accomplishing for peace and liberty and anti-terrorism if we had kept our word then?

Unilateralism update:

About 40 nations stand beside us in Afghanistan, and some 30 in Iraq. And I deeply appreciate the courage and wise counsel of leaders like Prime Minister Howard, and President Kwasniewski, and Prime Minister Berlusconi -- and, of course, Prime Minister Tony Blair. Again, my opponent takes a different approach. In the midst of war, he has called America's allies, quote, a "coalition of the coerced and the bribed." That would be nations like Great Britain, Poland, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Denmark, El Salvador, Australia, and others -- allies that deserve the respect of all Americans, not the scorn of a politician.

And so what if we really were unilateralist? What matters is not how many allies you have, but what you're seeking to accomplish:

The progress we and our friends and allies seek in the broader Middle East will not come easily, or all at once. Yet Americans, of all people, should never be surprised by the power of liberty to transform lives and nations. That power brought settlers on perilous journeys, inspired colonies to rebellion, ended the sin of slavery, and set our Nation against the tyrannies of the 20th century. We were honored to aid the rise of democracy in Germany and Japan and Nicaragua and Central Europe and the Baltics -- and that noble story goes on.

And what did Jimmy Carter accomplished. The advance of totalitarianism in Nicaragua and Iran. What did Bill Clinton accomplish? Abetting the nuclear programs in China and North Korea, destabilizing Kosovo, and legitimizing Yasser Arafat.

You may have noticed I have a few flaws, too. People sometimes have to correct my English -- I knew I had a problem when Arnold Schwarzenegger started doing it.


Some folks look at me and see a certain swagger, which in Texas is called "walking."

Darn right.

Now and then I come across as a little too blunt -- and for that we can all thank the white-haired lady sitting right up there.

He's obviously not pointing to Karl Rove.

Closing remarks:

To everything we know there is a season -- a time for sadness, a time for struggle, a time for rebuilding. And now we have reached a time for hope. This young century will be liberty's century. By promoting liberty abroad, we will build a safer world. By encouraging liberty at home, we will build a more hopeful America. Like generations before us, we have a calling from beyond the stars to stand for freedom. This is the everlasting dream of America -- and tonight, in this place, that dream is renewed. Now we go forward -- grateful for our freedom, faithful to our cause, and confident in the future of the greatest nation on earth. God bless you, and may God continue to bless America.

There is one major item missing from this speech. Bush told what he'd do for the economy, but he didn't detail the progress of the recovery that has already taken place. This must be the first item on his to-do list.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

The Two Faces Of Andrew Sullivan

Sully says Zell Miller is defined by his past (scroll down to "The Miller Moment")...

Remember who this man is: once a proud supporter of racial segregation, a man who lambasted LBJ for selling his soul to the negroes. His speech tonight was in this vein, a classic Dixiecrat speech, jammed with bald lies, straw men, and hateful rhetoric. As an immigrant to this country and as someone who has been to many Southern states and enjoyed astonishing hospitality and warmth and sophistication, I long dismissed some of the Northern stereotypes about the South. But Miller did his best to revive them. The man's speech was not merely crude; it added whole universes to the word crude.

...but John Kerry is not (scroll down to "The Foreign Agent")

Another lie: "Senator Kerry has made it clear that he would use military force only if approved by the United Nations. Kerry would let Paris decide when America needs defending. I want Bush to decide." Miller might have found some shred of ancient rhetoric that will give him cover on this, but in Kerry's very acceptance speech, he declared the opposite conviction - that he would never seek permission to defend this country.

Dick Cheney's Acceptance Speech

(NewsMax has the full text here.)

The Vice President lays on some serious resumé padding:

People tell me that Senator Edwards got picked for his good looks, his sex appeal and his great hair. I say to them: How do you think I got the job?

Meanwhile, Bob Dole is thinking, Who got picked to do those Pepsi commercials with Britney, pal?

Education, then and now:

From kindergarten to graduation, I went to public schools. And I know that they are a key to being sure that every child has a chance to succeed and to rise in the world.

When the president and I took office, our schools were shuffling too many children from grade to grade without giving them the skills and the knowledge they need. So President Bush reached across the aisle and brought both parties together to pass the most significant education reform in 40 years. With higher standards and new resources, America's schools are now on an upward path to excellence, and not for just a few children, but for every child.

Economy, then and now:

Opportunity also depends on a vibrant, growing economy. As President Bush and I were sworn into office, our nation was sliding into recession, and American workers were overburdened with federal taxes. Then came the events of September 11th, which hit our economy very hard. So President Bush delivered the greatest tax reduction in a generation, and the results are clear to see.

Businesses are creating jobs. People are returning to work. Mortgage rates are low, and home ownership in this country is at an all-time high. The Bush tax cuts are working.

Our nation has the best health care in the world, and President Bush is making it more affordable and accessible to all Americans.

Cheney moves on to war:

The fanatics who killed some 3,000 of our fellow Americans may have thought they could attack us with impunity, because terrorists had done so previously.

Munich Olympics in 1972. Achille Lauro in 1985. WTC attack in 1993. Israel in the wake of the 1993 Oslo Accords. Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998. USS Cole in 2000.

War progress:

In a campaign that has reached around the world, we have captured or killed hundreds of al-Qaida. In Afghanistan, the camps where terrorists trained to kill Americans have been shut down and the Taliban driven from power.

In Iraq, we dealt with a gathering threat and removed the regime of Saddam Hussein. Seventeen months ago, he controlled the lives and fortunes of 25 million people. Tonight he sits in jail.

President Bush does not deal in empty threats and half measures. And his determination has sent a clear message. Just five days after Saddam was captured, the government of Libya agreed to abandon its nuclear weapons program and turn the materials over to the United States.

Tonight, the uranium, the centrifuges and plans and designs for nuclear weapons that were once hidden in Libya are locked up and stored away in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, never again to threaten America.

The biggest threat we face today is having nuclear weapons fall into the hands of terrorists. The president is working with many countries in a global effort to end the trade and transfer of these deadly technologies. The most important result thus far, and it is a very important one, is that the black-market network that supplied nuclear weapons technology to Libya, as well as to Iran and North Korea, has been shut down.

The world's worst source of nuclear weapons proliferation is out of business, and we are safer as a result.

But let's not expect an unreasonably short timeline (emphasis mine):

This nation has reached another of those defining moments. Under President Bush, we have put in place new policies and created new institutions to defend America, to stop terrorist violence at its source, and to help move the Middle East away from old hatreds and resentments and toward the lasting peace that only freedom can bring. This is the work not of months, but of years. And keeping these commitments is essential to our future security.

Cheney now scrolls through the Kerry record:

Senator Kerry began his political career by saying he would like to see our troops deployed "only at the directive of the United Nations." During the 1980s, Senator Kerry opposed Ronald Reagan's major defense initiatives that brought victory in the Cold War. In 1991, when Saddam Hussein occupied Kuwait and stood poised to dominate the Persian Gulf, Senator Kerry voted against Operation Desert Storm. Even in this post-9/11 period, Senator Kerry doesn't appear to understand how the world has changed. He talks about leading a "more sensitive war on terror," as though Al Qaida will be impressed with our softer side.

To be truthful, Kerry was talking about appealing to the softer side of the Axis of Weasel, which includes the UN. Kofi and Jacques are impressed with our softer side, because it opens up a power vacuum for them to fill.

He declared at the Democratic convention that he will forcefully defend America after we have been attacked. My fellow Americans, we have already been attacked.


But, in fact, in the global war on terror, as in Afghanistan and Iraq, President Bush has brought many allies to our side. But as the president has made very clear, there is a difference between leading a coalition of many nations and submitting to the objections of a few.

Can you guess who some of the few are by looking at this chart?

How not to be a commander-in-chief

[Kerry] voted against body armor, ammunition, fuel, spare parts, armored vehicles, extra pay for hardship duty and support for military families.

Cheney on risk management:

In his years in Washington, John Kerry has been one of a 100 votes in the United States Senate. And fortunately on matters of national security, his views rarely prevailed. But the presidency is an entirely different proposition. A senator can be wrong for 20 years, without consequence to the nation. But a president, a president, always casts the deciding vote.

Not counting overridden vetoes, of course.

On Iraq, Senator Kerry has disagreed with many of his fellow Democrats. But Senator Kerry's liveliest disagreement is with himself. His back-and-forth reflects a habit of indecision and sends a message of confusion. And it's all part of a pattern. He has, in the last several years, been for the No Child Left Behind Act and against it. He has spoken in favor of the North American Free Trade Agreement and against it. He is for the Patriot Act and against it. Senator Kerry says he sees two Americas. It makes the whole thing mutual. America sees two John Kerrys.


President Bush and I will wage this effort with complete confidence in the judgment of the American people. The signs are good, even in Massachusetts. According to a news account last month, people leaving the Democratic National Convention asked a Boston policeman for directions. He replied, leave here, and go vote Republican.

Get those endorsements!

Zell Miller's Keynote Address

(NewsMax has the full text here.)

Bipartisanship then...

In the summer of 1940, I was an 8-year-old boy living in a remote little Appalachian valley. Our country was not yet at war, but even we children knew that there were some crazy men across the ocean who would kill us if they could.

President Roosevelt, in his speech that summer, told America "all private plans, all private lives, have been in a sense repealed by an overriding public danger."

In 1940, Wendell Wilkie was the Republican nominee. And there is no better example of someone repealing their "private plans" than this good man. He gave Roosevelt the critical support he needed for a peacetime draft, an unpopular idea at the time. And he made it clear that he would rather lose the election than make national security a partisan campaign issue.

Shortly before Wilkie died, he told a friend, that if he could write his own epitaph and had to choose between "here lies a president" or "here lies one who contributed to saving freedom," he would prefer the latter.

...and bipartisanship now.

Where are such statesmen today? Where is the bipartisanship in this country when we need it most?

Now, while young Americans are dying in the sands of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan, our nation is being torn apart and made weaker because of the Democrat's manic obsession to bring down our Commander in Chief...Time after time in our history, in the face of great danger, Democrats and Republicans worked together to ensure that freedom would not falter. But not today.

Zell has a word for those who view the American military as a tool for imperialism:

And nothing makes this Marine madder than someone calling American troops occupiers rather than liberators.

Tell that to the one-half of Europe that was freed because Franklin Roosevelt led an army of liberators, not occupiers.

Tell that to the lower half of the Korean Peninsula that is free because Dwight Eisenhower commanded an army of liberators, not occupiers.

Tell that to the half a billion men, women and children who are free today from the Baltics to the Crimea, from Poland to Siberia, because Ronald Reagan rebuilt a military of liberators, not occupiers.

Never in the history of the world has any soldier sacrificed more for the freedom and liberty of total strangers than the American soldier. And, our soldiers don't just give freedom abroad, they preserve it for us here at home.

He now turns to fellow Marine Father Dennis Edward O'Brian, paraphrasing part of the original with the protesters in mind:

For it has been said so truthfully that it is the soldier, not the reporter, who has given us the freedom of the press. It is the soldier, not the poet, who has given us freedom of speech.

It is the soldier, not the agitator, who has given us the freedom to protest.

It is the soldier who salutes the flag, serves beneath the flag, whose coffin is draped by the flag, who gives that protester the freedom to abuse and burn that flag.

This is a bit of an exaggeration:

They [Democrats] don't believe there is any real danger in the world except that which America brings upon itself through our clumsy and misguided foreign policy.

This is not:

It is not their patriotism -- it is their judgment that has been so sorely lacking. They claimed Carter's pacifism would lead to peace. They were wrong.

They claimed Reagan's defense buildup would lead to war. They were wrong.

Zell scrolls through Kerry's voting record:

The B-1 bomber, that Senator Kerry opposed, dropped 40 percent of the bombs in the first six months of Operation Enduring Freedom.

The B-2 bomber, that Senator Kerry opposed, delivered air strikes against the Taliban in Afghanistan and Hussein's command post in Iraq.

The F-14A Tomcats, that Senator Kerry opposed, shot down Khadifi's Libyan MIGs over the Gulf of Sidra. The modernized F-14D, that Senator Kerry opposed, delivered missile strikes against Tora Bora.

The Apache helicopter, that Senator Kerry opposed, took out those Republican Guard tanks in Kuwait in the Gulf War. The F-15 Eagles, that Senator Kerry opposed, flew cover over our Nation's Capital and this very city after 9/11.

I could go on and on and on: against the Patriot Missile that shot down Saddam Hussein's scud missiles over Israel; against the Aegis air-defense cruiser; against the Strategic Defense Initiative; against the Trident missile; against, against, against.

This is the man who wants to be the Commander in Chief of our U.S. Armed Forces?

U.S. forces armed with what? Spitballs?

Spitballs? Maybe they could upgrade to chili powder. (Hat tip to the Spat.)

Senator Kerry has made it clear that he would use military force only if approved by the United Nations.

Andrew Sullivan notes that "in Kerry's very acceptance speech, he declared the opposite conviction - that he would never seek permission to defend this country," and chalks Zell's claim to "some shred of ancient rhetoric." But which one is the real Kerry? It's not like presidential candidates have never said things in their acceptance speeches they don't mean.

John Kerry, who says he doesn't like outsourcing, wants to outsource our national security.

I posted this on July 31: "John Kerry doesn't want US companies to outsource to Mexico and India, yet he wants the Departments of State, Defense, and Homeland Security to outsource to Kofi Annan, Jacques Chiraq, and Gerhard Schroeder." I was wondering if that meme would ever catch on.

The John Kerry legacy, in a nutshell:

As a war protester, Kerry blamed our military. As a Senator, he voted to weaken our military. And nothing shows that more sadly and more clearly than his vote this year to deny protective armor for our troops in harms way, far away.

Does that body armor protect against blunt force trauma? If so, NYC's finest could use some. And maybe Chris Matthews, too - he won't always have a crowd around him to protect him from unruly protesters. Glad I'm not there.

George Bush wants to grab terrorists by the throat and not let them go to get a better grip. From John Kerry, they get a "yes-no-maybe" bowl of mush that can only encourage our enemies and confuse our friends...

Right now the world just cannot afford an indecisive America. Fainthearted self-indulgence will put at risk all we care about in this world.

He figures Kerry will continue the Carter and Clinton legacies - peace plans that bring peace only to tyrants and terrorists.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Laura Bush's Speech

(NewsMax has the full text here.)

She starts with a bunch of thanks and a little family history. She puts in another plug for No Child Left Behind. And she gives a brief lesson on job creation:

I could talk about the small business owners and entrepreneurs who are now creating most of the new jobs in our country, women like Carmella Chaifos, the only woman to own a tow truck company in all of Iowa. The president's tax relief helped Carmella to buy the business and modernize her fleet and expand her operations.

Carmella is living proof of what she told me. She said: "If you're determined and you want to work hard, you can do anything you want to." That's the beautiful thing about America.

From free markets back to government handouts:

I could talk about health care. For years, leaders in both parties said we should provide prescription drug coverage in Medicare. George was able to bring Republicans and Democrats together to get it done.

I could talk about the fact that my husband is the first president to provide federal funding for stem cell research. And he did it in a principled way, allowing science to explore its potential while respecting the dignity of human life.

And back to the private sector.

I could talk about the recent record increase in home ownership. Home ownership in America, especially minority home ownership, is at an all-time high.

It's the war, stupid.

All of these issues are important. But we are living in the most historic struggle my generation has ever known. The stakes are so high. So I want to talk about the issue that I believe is most important for my own daughters, for all our families, and for our future: George's work to protect our country and defeat terror so that all children can grow up in a more peaceful world

She speaks how some individuals, including the President, coped with the war. And she speak of the war's progress:

Our parents' generation confronted tyranny and liberated millions. As we do the hard work of confronting today's threat, we can also be proud that 50 million more men, women and children live in freedom thanks to the United States of America and our allies.

After years of being treated as virtual prisoners in their own homes by the Taliban, the women of Afghanistan are going back to work. After being denied an education, even the chance to learn to read, the little girls in Afghanistan are now in school.

Almost every eligible voter, over 10 million Afghan citizens, have registered to vote in this fall's presidential election, more than 40 percent of them women.

And wasn't it wonderful to watch the Olympics and see that beautiful Afghan sprinter race in long pants and a T-shirt, exercising her new freedom while respecting the traditions of her country?

I recently met a young Iraqi woman. She's one of the new Iraqi Fulbright scholars studying in the United States. She survived horrific horrors, including the gassing of her village by Saddam Hussein.

She told me that when people look at Iraq, what they don't see is that Iraq is a country of 25 million people, each with their own hope.

I bet you didn't see any of that in Fahrenheit 9/11.

People ask me all the time whether George has changed. He's a little grayer.

When it comes to hair, I care about quantity, not quality :-)

The First Lady encourages hope, thankfulness, and duty:

These are also years of hope for our country and our people. We have great confidence in our ability to overcome challenges. We have gained a new appreciation of the many blessings of America. And we have been reminded of our responsibilities to the country that we love.

The Bush Twins

Ugh. Giggled at their own jokes. Low point: the "Sex In the City" joke - limper than a McDonald's french fry. High point:

"We had a hamster too," Bush's daughter Barbara said. "Let's just say ours didn't make it."

Bush never had the PETA vote, anyway.

Schwarzenegger's Speech

(NewsMax has the full text here.)

This speech could be titled "Freedom: The American Dream." Schwarzenegger spoke of living in fear when crossing into portions of Austria under Soviet occupation:

Growing up, we were told, "Don't look the soldiers in the eye. Just look straight ahead." It was a common belief that Soviet soldiers could take a man out of his own car and ship him back to the Soviet Union as slave labor.

Now, my family didn't have a car. But one day we were in my uncle's car. It was near dark as we came to the Soviet checkpoint. I was a little boy. I was not an action hero back then.

But I remember. I remember how scared I was that the soldiers would pull my father or my uncle out of the car and I would never see them again. My family and so many others lived in fear of the Soviet boot. Today, the world no longer fears the Soviet Union, and it is because of the United States of America.

When the Soviets left and socialism came, he looked to America as the land of opportunity:

As a kid I saw the socialist country that Austria became after the Soviets left. Now, don't misunderstand me, I love Austria, and I love the Austrian people.

But I always knew America was the place for me. In school, when the teacher would talk about America, I would daydream about coming here. I would daydream about living here. I would sit there and watch for hours American movies transfixed by my heroes like John Wayne.

Everything about America seemed so big to me, so open, so possible.

Now Arnold mentions a name you thought you'd never hear at a GOP convention ever again:

I finally arrived here in 1968. What a special day it was. I remember I arrived here with empty pockets but full of dreams, full of determination, full of desire.

The presidential campaign was in full swing. I remember watching the Nixon-Humphrey presidential race on TV. A friend of mine who spoke German and English translated for me. I heard Humphrey saying things that sounded like socialism, which I had just left.

But then I heard Nixon speak. Then I heard Nixon speak. He was talking about free enterprise, getting the government off your back, lowering the taxes and strengthening the military.

Listening to Nixon speak sounded more like a breath of fresh air.

I said to my friend, I said, "What party is he?"

My friend said, "He's a Republican."

I said, "Then I am a Republican."

And I have been a Republican ever since. And trust me -- and trust me -- in my wife's family, that's no small achievement.


Speaking approvingly of Nixon is a risky venture. Arnold should have added a couple of caveats. First, he could have expressed regret that Nixon forgot his own words about free markets when he instituted those disastrous wage and price controls and hyperexpanded the bureaucracy. Second, he could have made a joke about not sharing Nixon's affinity for audio recording technology.

In this country, it doesn't make any difference where you were born. It doesn't make any difference who your parents were. It doesn't make any difference if you're like me and couldn't even speak English until you were in your 20s.

Imagine how rotten his English would be if he were stuck in bilingual education.

Here's the "big tent" moment:

And maybe -- just maybe -- you don't agree with this party on every single issue. I say to you tonight that I believe that's not only OK, but that's what's great about this country.

Here we can respectfully disagree and still be patriotic, still be American and still be good Republicans.

I got some respectful disagreement for sale.

You may be a Republican if:

If you believe a person should be treated as an individual, not as a member of an interest group, then you are a Republican.

If you believe your family knows how to spend your money better than the government does, then you are a Republican.

If you believe our educational system should be held accountable for the progress of our children, then you are a Republican.

If you believe this country, not the United Nations, is the best hope for democracy, then you are a Republican.

And, ladies and gentlemen, if you believe that we must be fierce and relentless and terminate terrorism, then you are a Republican.

On that second-to-last item, I'd have more faith in the UN's ability to encourage democratization if most member nations were thoroughly democratized.

Here it comes...

Now, there's another way you can tell you're a Republican. You have faith in free enterprise, faith in the resourcefulness of the American people and faith in the U.S. economy. And to those critics who are so pessimistic about our economy, I say: Don't be economic girlie-men.

I hope Arnold is prompt in sending the royalty check to Saturday Night Live.

We're Number One! Or, debunking the false prophets of doom.

The U.S. economy remains the envy of the world. We have the highest economic growth of any of the world's major industrialized nations. Don't you remember the pessimism of 20 years ago, when the critics said Japan and Germany are overtaking the U.S.? Ridiculous.

Now, they say that India and China are overtaking us. Don't you believe it. We may hit a few bumps, but America always moves ahead. That's what Americans do.

And he sets history straight (emphasis mine):

And under President Bush and Vice President Cheney, America's economy is moving ahead in spite of a recession they inherited and in spite of the attack on our homeland.

Contrasting the enemy...

[Bush] knows you don't reason with terrorists. You defeat them. He knows you can't reason with people blinded by hate. You see, they hate the power of the individual. They hate the progress of women. They hate the religious freedom of others. And they hate the liberating breeze of democracy. the United States.

We are the America that sends out the Peace Corps volunteers to teach our village children. We are the America that sends out the missionaries and doctors to raise up the poor and the sick.

We are the America that gives more than any other country to fight AIDS in Africa and the developing world.

And we are the America that fights not for imperialism, but for human rights and democracy.

You know, when the Germans brought down the Berlin Wall, America's determination helped wield the sledgehammers. And when that lone, young Chinese man stood in front of those tanks in Tiananmen Square, America stood with him. And when Nelson Mandela smiled in election victory after all those years in prison, America celebrated, too.

One final note: The Terminator's shouts of "Four more years!" at the end of the speech sounded, er, mechanical.

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