abstract musings

abstract (adj.): Considered apart from concrete existence: an abstract concept.
musings (n.): A product of contemplation; a thought.


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Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Was It Painful to Report?

Over the weekend, I read in the dead tree edition of the Miami Herald, the story about the Herald's recount of three counties in the Florida panhandle. This story most likely was motivated by internet rumors from the tinfoil hat brigade that Bush stole the election from Kerry in Florida, by rigging the electronic voting machines in counties in Northern Florida where the voters are predominately registered Democratic, but which voted overwhelmingly for Bush on election day. In reality, these counties in the panhandle routinely break for the Republican candidate for President despite the high number of registered Democrats. In all three counties, the Herald's recount affirmed the official election results with minor discrepancies.

Last week, The Herald went to see for itself whether Bush's steamroll through North Florida was legitimate. Picking three counties that fit the conspiracy theory profile -- staunchly Democratic by registration, whoppingly GOP by voting -- two reporters counted more than 17,000 ballots over three days.

The conclusion: No conspiracy.

The newspaper's count of optical scan ballots in Suwannee, Lafayette and Union counties showed Bush whipping Sen. John Kerry in a swath of Florida where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans 3-1.

The newspaper found minor differences with the official results in each county, most involving a smattering of ballots that had been discarded as unreadable by optical scan machines but in which reporters felt the voter intent was clear.

In Union County:

The Herald total: 3,393 votes for Bush and 1,272 for Kerry. There were 15 votes that couldn't clearly be counted.

The official Union County total: 3,396 votes for Bush, 1,251 for Kerry and a few dozen that couldn't be counted.

"The difference is in the under-over votes," [Election Supervisor Babs] Montpetit explained. The Herald concluded voter intent in a couple of dozen cases that scan readers could not discern.

In Suwannee County:

The Herald counted almost 60 percent of the votes in Suwannee County, where nearly 64 percent of the voters are registered Democrats.

The newspaper's total from those precincts: 6,140 votes for Bush and 2,984 for Kerry, which nearly matched the county's official tally.

In Lafayette County:

The reporters' total: 2,452 votes for Bush and 848 for Kerry, with 20 that couldn't be clearly counted.

The official Lafayette County total: 2,460 votes for Bush, 845 for Kerry and others that couldn't be counted.

Captain Ed links to a CNN report about the Herald story.

Back Home

I am back in Knoxville, so I should resume blogging on a more regular basis.

Tonight or tomorrow, I should be able to post some photos I took in the Everglades and at Big Cypress National Preserve.

Even though I had internet access I was too distracted to blog as I was playing Halo 2, which I did manage to complete. Although the campaign ends a little abruptly--setting up a cliff hanger ending (Now I have to wait for Halo 3?!?)the improvements--dual wielding, more weapons, better AI, playing as a Alien character at times--make for great gameplay. It was a lot of fun, even though at times it became a bit repetitive. Playing as the Covenant Arbiter gave the game a great twist, and the twin story arcs made for a more interesting story line overall.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving.

We've made it! My wife and I made it to my parent's home in Miami earlier today. We've already enjoyed our turkey and other goodies. Even got to enjoy a premature bit of Christmas. Our tradition is that we swap holidays each year for both sets of parents; spending Thanksgiving with one set and Christmas with the other set. So when we visit my folks for Thanksgiving, we also celebrate an early Christmas.

I also was pleasantly surprised to discover that my dad has setup a wireless network, so I can take advantage of my laptop's built-in wireless.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Off-line for the Next Few Days

I will be travelling to visit family in Florida for the next few days. I don't expect to be able post anything until Thursday at the earliest. But I should be able to get online once I get to my parents, or at least find some wireless access somewhere down there.

I plan on visiting the Everglades while I am down there. So with any luck, I could be gator-blogging on Friday or Saturday.

And, in case I don't get to say it Thursday, have a happy and safe Thanksgiving.

Go Get 'Em, Devil Dogs!

Looks like they are at it again. U.S. Marines, British soldiers, and Iraqi troops have begun operations aimed at insurgents south of Baghdad.

The new offensive was the third large-scale military assault this month aimed at suppressing Iraq's persistent insurgency ahead of crucial elections set for Jan. 30.

The region of dusty, small towns south of the capital has become known as the "triangle of death" for the frequent attacks by car bombs, rockets, and small arms on U.S. and Iraqi forces there and for frequent ambushes on travellers.

The military said violence has surged in the area in recent weeks in an apparent attempt to divert attention away from the U.S. assault on Fallujah.

The joint operation kicked off with early morning raids in the town of Jabella, 50 miles south of Baghdad, netting 32 suspected insurgents, the U.S. military said in a statement. U.S. and Iraqi forces were conducting house-to-house searches and vehicle checkpoints.

More on Sports Fighting

Yesterday, I mentioned the fight that broke out at an NBA game over the weekend. Jim Geraghty has some related thoughts.

And, then there was the ruckus Saturday at the Clemson/South Carolina game. Clemson's coach, Tommy Bowden, while not using it as an outright excuse, does seem to suggest the brawl the night before contributed to the incident Saturday.

The incident would have been embarrassing enough for both schools and for college football, but it happened to come fewer than 24 hours after the astonishing Pacers-Pistons incident in Detroit, turning the Gamecocks and Tigers into a national poster for sportsmanship gone awry. Network newscasts aired the two incidents back-to-back Saturday night, and Clemson coach Tommy Bowden, while not exactly using it as an excuse, mentioned the NBA fight directly. "For 24 hours, they've watched that basketball fiasco on TV. That's all they've watched," he said. "On every major news [broadcast] that thing was covered, and they sat there and watched it and watched it and watched it."

At least the schools have seen fit to levy more than token suspensions. Both schools have announced that they will decline bowl invitations as a result. This may not seem like much, but I think it sends a very clear signal to the players that this kind of behavior--whatever the circumstances--is completely unacceptable. Both teams have lost the right to play in what amounts to a reward game for a winning season. Both schools (and/or conferences) will miss out on extra revenue that would have been generated by a bowl game. And the players will not be able to practice in December, a month long extra stretch of extra practice time, which is an increasingly important component in successful college football program.

Monday, November 22, 2004

More Good News from Iraq

Lots of good news from Iraq.

In the fortnight that saw the massive assault by American and Iraqi troops on Fallujah, the flare up of violence elsewhere throughout the Sunni Triangle, the execution of Margaret Hassan by her kidnappers, not to mention the controversy over a Marine shooting dead a wounded insurgent, it's hard to believe that anything positive might have also been happening in Iraq.

Yet, fortunately, neither Fallujah nor even the Sunni Triangle are the whole of Iraq, just as violence and bloodshed are not the whole story of Iraq. Lt Col Victor Zillmer of Lindale, Texas, recently volunteered to return to Iraq as the commander of the Army Corps of Engineers in Baghdad. His impressions of the country today seems to be shared by many in Iraq outside of the media:

"As I expected, it was not a total war zone with massive explosions and burning vehicles everywhere as commonly portrayed in the press. It was typical Baghdad, only the traffic was even worse. The economy must be doing much better over here, for the streets are jammed with cars of every description, with many of them newer and better condition than when I left in May. As compared to 18 months ago when I first arrived, the traffic has increased a hundredfold."

As the old joke goes, sometimes a cigar is just cigar. In Iraq, contrary to the impression one can often get from watching the news, for most part a car is just car, not a carbomb, and as Lt Col Zillmer says, there are a lot of them driving around. Here are some stories of Iraqis trying to, often under difficult circumstance and against great odds, journey towards a better and more normal life.

That's just the beginning. And it reminds me of something I read on Iraq the Model earlier:

We were planning to stay in Jordan for only 4 days but with the airport being closed, we had to stay there for a longer time.

Being out of the events’ field for a week and having the media as the only source of information made me understand more why many people have a blurred vision about the situation in Iraq, I mean watching Al- Jazeera and the CNN for a relatively long time made Iraq- at certain moments-look like “hell on earth”. Fortunately I lived my whole life in Iraq and when it comes to events taking place over there I can distinguish between the truth and the lies to a certain degree but my concern is about people who have never been there because the media twist facts and exaggerate things in an unbelievable manner.

As a matter of fact, from the news I got from the media I expected to find Baghdad in a terrible condition when I return; no gasoline, no electricity, fighting at every corner and dead bodies everywhere but of course I didn’t find it this way when I returned. Actually I haven’t seen any significant difference except for losing some hours of electricity!

Sometimes a car is just a car. Something to remember; something to help keep things in perspective.

No Fan Here

This is why I stopped being a fan of the NBA a long time ago.

And there are no good guys in this situation. The fans acted irresponsibly, as did the players. The NBA has cultivated a cult of thuggishness, which the fans have started to emulate. This is a bad, bad thing. If I wanted to see a fight at a professional sporting event, then I'd go to a hockey game. At least there, I'd be protected by a plexiglass barrier.

Military-Friendly Employers

Via Blackfive, I found a link to a list on Intel Dump of the 25 most military-friendly employers in America (as rated by G.I. Jobs Magazine).

I want to acknowledge to a local company not on the list: HGTV. Home & Garden Television (the cable channel headquartered here in Knoxville) employs a friend of mine, a member of the Tennessee National Guard, who was called up for active duty several weeks ago. As I write this, my friend has been in Iraq for about a week. HGTV is generously paying the difference between his salary at HGTV and his Army pay, and has also provided him with a laptop, so he can watch DVDs and receive email from his family and friends while deployed, without having to borrow somebody else's computer or wait for one.

It's little things like this that will help my friend and his wife (they've been married just over a year) get through the next 12 months. So the next time, you're channel surfing and you bypass--I mean stop to watch--HGTV, just remember, somebody (actually, I'm sure it is a lot of somebodies) over there gets it, and as a company, HGTV is doing right by at least one of our men in Iraq, and his family back here.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Kerry Supporters Make PESTs of Themselves

It is official. You can now be diagnosed with "post-election selection trauma" also lovingly referred to as PEST.

Today's Victor Davis Hanson Lesson

In this week's column Victor Davis Hanson explains who the real humanists are.

If someone wonders about the enormous task at hand in democratizing the Middle East, he could do no worse than ponder the last days of Yasser Arafat: the tawdry fight over his stolen millions; the charade of the First Lady of Palestine barking from a Paris salon; the unwillingness to disclose what really killed the "Tiger" of Ramallah; the gauche snub of obsequious Europeans hovering in the skies over Cairo, preening to pay homage to the late prince of peace; and, of course, the usual street theater of machine guns spraying the air and thousands of males crushing each other to touch the bier of the man who robbed them blind. Try bringing a constitution and open and fair elections to a mess like that.

But that is precisely what the United States was trying to do by removing the Taliban, putting Saddam Hussein on trial, and marginalizing Arafat. Such idealism has been caricatured with every type of slur — from both the radical Left and the paleo-Right, ranging from alleged Likud conspiracies and neo-con pipe dreams to secret pipeline deals and plans for a new American imperium in the Middle East shepherded in by the Bush dynasts. In fact, the effort not just to strike back after September 11, but to alter the very landscape in which our enemies operated was the only choice we had if we wished to end the cruise-missile/bomb-'em-for-a-day cycle of the past 20 years, the ultimate logic of which had led to the crater at the World Trade Center.

Oddly, our enemies understand the long-term strategic efforts of the United States far better than do our own dissidents. They know that oil is not under U.S. control but priced at all-time highs, and that America is not propping up despotism anymore, but is now the general foe of both theocracies and dictatorships — and the thorn in the side of "moderate" autocracies. An America that is a force for democratic change is a very dangerous foe indeed. Most despots long for the old days of Jimmy Carter's pious homilies, appeasement of awful dictatorships gussied up as "concern" for "human rights," and the lure of a Noble Prize to ensure nights in the Lincoln bedroom or hours waiting on a dictator's tarmac.

In the struggle in Fallujah hinges not just the fate of the Sunni Triangle, or even Iraq, but rather of the entire Middle East — and it will be decided on the bravery and skill of mostly 20-something American soldiers. If they are successful in crushing and humiliating the fascists there and extending the victory to other spots then the radical Islamists and their fascistic sponsors will erode away. But if they fail or are called off, then we will see Days of Sorrow that make September 11 look like child's play.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

NASA Sets a Record

Congratulations to NASA for setting a world record of Mach 9.6 with a successful test the X-43A.

An unmanned experimental jet broke a world record for speed on Tuesday, cruising over the Pacific Ocean at just under 7,000 miles per hour in a NASA test of cutting-edge "scramjet" engine technology.

The X-43A aircraft flew at a speed of around Mach 9.6 -- nearly ten times the speed of sound -- after a booster rocket took it to around 110,000 feet and then separated.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Swift Boat Veterans Assessment

John Fund writes about the Swift Boat veterans and the impact they made on the election.

Potential Supreme Court Nominees

Here's a look at possible Supreme Court nominees and the outlook for their confirmation.

Iran's Nuclear Deal Revisited

Here is a rather pessimistic appraisal of the Iranian nuclear deal I mentioned before. The article takes President Bush and the Europeans to task for giving Iran what amounts to a free pass to tacitly develop nuclear weapons just as North Korea has done.

The only question is whether the world is going to do anything about all this. The Europeans are essentially arguing that any deal with the mullahs is better than nothing, given Tehran's repeated threats to withdraw altogether from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. But what's really more dangerous: immediate clarity regarding Iran's real intentions, or the country going nuclear with the quiet blessing of the IAEA and the permanent discrediting of the multilateral arms control system?

President Bush needs to pay some overdue attention to Iran now that the election is over, and put the above case to his friend and ally Tony Blair. The model for disarming Iran ought to be the process the two countries have just gone through with Libya's Moammar Gadhafi: unambiguous cooperation, including the handover of all nuclear and WMD-related facilities. Anything less--like the Agreed Framework Part II now on offer--deserves only one response in Washington and London: No deal.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Replacing Colin Powell

The Associated Press is reporting that the President has chosen Condoleezza Rice to replace Colin Powell as Secretary of State. Prof. Reynolds relates several comments about the media reaction--or non-reaction, as it is--to the news.

For what it's worth, I agree with Rand Simberg: the reason that the press isn't making a bigger deal about her nomination has everything to do with who her boss is.

Frist Comments on Senator Specter

The New York Times reports some interesting comments from Bill Frist, Senate Majority leader, regarding Arlen Specter. Frist may have been won over by the anti-Specter crowd:

Senator Bill Frist, the Republican majority leader, said Sunday that he was troubled by Senator Arlen Specter's recent remarks about potential judicial nominees and that Mr. Specter needed to convince his fellow Republicans that he deserved to be chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

"Arlen made some statements the day after the election," Dr. Frist, of Tennessee, said on "Fox News Sunday" in an interview with Chris Wallace. "They were disheartening to me; they were disheartening to a lot of people."

Furthermore the Times goes on to say: "Dr. Frist pointedly declined to endorse Mr. Specter for the post on Sunday, saying the Pennsylvania senator should lobby his Republican colleagues in the Senate's lame-duck session this week. 'The case needs to be made to the leadership of the United States Senate,' Dr. Frist said, 'and also to the existing members of the Judiciary Committee.'" Sounds like Dr. Frist is taking a hardline with Sen. Specter.

But wait! Let's review the transcript of Chris Wallace's interview with Sen. Frist.

WALLACE: Do you support making Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter the new chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee?

FRIST: Chris, it's an issue that we'll begin to face really this week and we won't make final decisions on until early January.

First of all, as you know, the Senate is a remarkable institution and it has a system and a program and a plan by which you choose the chairman of various committees like the Judiciary Committee.

The way it works, real quickly, is that you choose the committee. The committee itself has not yet been chosen for the next Congress. They select the chairman. That chairman is taken to the entire conference, 55 Republicans, and they make an ultimate decision on that.

The whole process will begin this week.

Secondly, I think it's important to understand general feelings and what I'm hearing. Arlen made some statements the day after the election. They were disheartening to me. They were disheartening to a lot of different people. He made those not as chairman of the Judiciary Committee but he made those as an individual senator, and he has the right to make that.

Over the last week, he has taken the opportunity to explain to a lot of people what he meant and what he would do. He's not yet talked to individual senators one on one.

What he will do over the course of this week is meet with Senate leadership. He'll then meet with members of the existing Judiciary Committee to explain both what he meant and what he would do as chairman. And then ultimately the members of that committee will choose whether or not he serves as their chairman.

From reading the transcript, it seems to me that Sen. Frist isn't blocking Specter's promotion to the chairmanship in any meaningful way. Take this exchange from the interview:

WALLACE: But it seems fair — and let's just go through a couple of checklist points very briefly, if we can.

It seems clear that Senator Specter has not made a persuasive case to you yet.

FRIST: Not yet. But I've talked to Arlen, and he is talking to lots of different people now.

And, first of all, it's not my selection. It is the selection of the Judiciary Committee. I'm not on the Judiciary Committee, but as majority leader, obviously I'm involved in that.

So the case needs to be made to the leadership of the United States Senate, which he will do — we're going to be meeting on Tuesday morning — and also to the existing members of the Judiciary Committee.

But the ultimate decision will not be made until the final composition of that Judiciary Committee is chosen in about two or three weeks.

Certainly, Frist refrained from endorsing Specter, but it just sounds to me like he's reassuring those who have contacted his office that he takes this issue seriously, and also giving Specter every chance to make his case before the judiciary committee members and the Senate at large. I think the Times sees the chance that the Republican majority in the Senate might be induced to start a political pogrom amongst their own ranks, and thus weaken their newly elected majority. Becoming a stillborn Senate of sorts.

Captain Ed links to a similar story from Reuters. The Reuters story pushes the idea that Frist is requiring Specter to back all of the President's nominees to get his coveted chairmanship. In this exchange from the interview, Frist lays out his vision for what he expects from the Judiciary committee Chairman.

What I expect is for a chairman to understand that they are no longer responsible just to themselves or just to their constituents back at home but, as chairman of the committee, they're responsible to the feelings, the wishes, the beliefs, the values, the procedures that are held by the majority of that committee. That is, in this case, the Republican caucus on that committee, the Republican committee members.

Secondly, he has a clear obligation as a chairman to take what the president nominates, consult with the president, take that nomination, get that nomination through committee in an expeditious way, a fair way, a way that gives thoughtful consideration but doesn't spend too much time, gets that nomination to the floor of the United States Senate.

And very importantly, because in the last Congress, you know, it didn't happen for a whole set of other reasons that have got to change, that every one of these appellate nominees have an up-or-down vote. Our job is to give advice and consent. And in the past we've been denied that opportunity, that responsibility, that constitutional obligation. The chairman must make absolutely sure that we get that up-or-down vote in a timely fashion.

Frist is speaking about the role the committee chairman should take getting the President's nominees through committee, which as Frist sees it, means he puts aside his personal views and does everything possible to see that the nominee gets to the Senate floor, in a timely manner, for a confirmation vote. This is a reasonable expectation for the majority leader to have with members of his own party in control of the Judiciary Committee and the White House, as long as the nominee is fit. Getting the nominees through committee will be easier with a more compliant Chairman, if Specter's critics are correct and he proves to be a dishonorable man, but getting those nominees confirmed will certainly be more difficult with Senator Specter humiliated and the possible loss of the moderate Republican votes in the full Senate.

Down with Old Media

Power Line links to Michael Barone's latest column, where he chronicles Old media's failed attempts to influence the election, and the role the blogosphere played in thwarting them.

Not so today. The ratings of the nightly newscasts have been on a downward trajectory since the 1980 campaign, as voters have been presented with other means of following the news. New Media has emerged: talk radio, Fox News Channel, the proliferation of Internet weblogs, which together make up the blogosphere. The left liberalism that is the political faith of practically all the personnel of Old Media is now being challenged by the various political faiths of New Media. Old Media no longer controls the agenda.

But it tries. At two crucial points in the campaign, Old Media used leaks from dubious sources to run stories intended to hurt the Bush campaign. The first was Dan Rather's Sept. 8 "60 Minutes" story on Bush's Texas Air National Guard record based on documents supplied by Texas Bush-hater Bill Burkett. CBS, admirably, posted the documents on its websites, and within 14 hours bloggers -- led by frontpage.com, powerlineblog.com and littlegreenfootballs.com -- had demonstrated that these purported 1972 documents had been produced on Microsoft Word. CBS's document experts, it turned out, had refused to authenticate them. Not until Sept. 20 did Rather acknowledge the documents were dubious. The story hurt Rather and CBS, not Bush.

Old media expended a tremendous amount of effort to unseat President Bush, and ultimately, utterly failed, bringing down its own reputation and seriously tarnishing its credibility. Barone touched on this in his previous column:

This year his job rating has hovered around 50 percent or below. He has been the target all year of vicious and biased coverage from old media, many if not most of whose personnel saw their job as removing this scourge from the presidency. The 60 Minutes story about Bush's Air National Guard service, which was based on obviously forged documents, is only the most egregious example. Old media have headlined violence in Iraq and reported almost nothing about positive developments there; they highlighted the charges of self-promoter Joseph Wilson and spoke nary a word when they were proved bogus; they have given good economic news far less positive coverage, studies show, than they did when Bill Clinton was in office.

Yet the results of this election closely resemble the 2002 House results. Bush beat Kerry 51 to 48 percent; the popular vote for the House appears to be about 51 to 47 percent Republican. Voters knew the stakes--polls showed majorities thought this was an important and consequential election--and both candidates had plenty of opportunity to make their cases. Thanks to the 527s, more money was apparently spent against Bush than for him. So the results cannot be dismissed as an accident. We are now a 51 percent nation, a Republican majority, as, once again in America, love has proved stronger than hate.

This election will be remembered for the citizen journalists in the blogosphere, who kept the public better informed, and brought out stories which otherwise wouldn't have seen the light of day.

Iran Plays 'Let's Make a Deal'

Iran has made a deal with the EU3 (Britain, France and Germany) to suspend its uranium enrichment program. At least for the moment:

The IAEA report said Iran had agreed to suspend the building of centrifuges and the processing of uranium into the gas state that is spun in the centrifuges for enrichment, two activities that Iran previously refused to halt. The gas can be enriched to lower levels for producing electricity or processed into high-level, weapons grade uranium.

Iran underlined on Monday that its suspension would be brief, and that it agreed voluntarily in hopes of building confidence in the world that its nuclear ambitions are peaceful.

"Iran's acceptance of suspension is a political decision, not an obligation," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said, adding that the suspension was "the best decision under the current circumstances."

Iran's top nuclear negotiator Hasan Rowhani said the suspension will last until the completion of negotiations with Europe over Iran's nuclear program.

I'll take this with a grain of salt; it's a move in the right direction, though. But, I wonder if the re-election of a certain President has anything to do with this?

Followup on Fallujah

Ann Althouse links to an article with details on the military operation against Fallujah, and plans for the aftermath.

Planning for Fallujah began in September, with Natonski given responsibility for the combat phase, said Lt. Col. Dan Wilson, a Marine planner with the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force.

Wilson said hundreds of other U.S. military and civilian planners designed the overall effort, which is intended to follow the ongoing post-siege rebuilding efforts under way in Najaf.

After troops uproot the insurgents, contractors are supposed to swarm into Fallujah to cart away rubble, repair buildings, and fix the city's utilities, Wilson and Natonski said.

The Iraqi government has already picked leaders for Fallujah, and thousands of Iraqi police and paramilitary forces have been recruited to try to impose order.

Natonski described the six days of ground war as a "flawless execution of the plan we drew up. We are actually ahead of schedule."

Several pre-assault tactics made the battle easier than expected, he said.

Insurgent defenses were weakened by bombing raids on command posts and safe houses. Air-dropped leaflets may have also demoralized some defenders and convinced some residents that the city would be better off under government control, he said.

In the days before the raid, ground troops feinted invasions, charging right up to Fallujah's edge in tanks and armored vehicles. Natonski said these fake attacks forced the insurgents to build up forces in the south and east, perhaps diverting defenders from the north, where six battalions of Army and Marine troops finally punched into the city Monday.

The deceptive maneuvers also drew fire from defenders' bunkers, which were exposed and relentlessly bombed before the ground assault.

"We desensitized the enemy to the formations they saw on the night we attacked," Natonski said.

Another key tactic was choking off the city, the responsibility of the 2nd Brigade of the Army's 1st Cavalry Division, Natonski said.

UPDATE: FoxNews has some more information on Fallujah. It seems the fighting isn't over and the insurgents are causing trouble elsewhere.

U.S. forces have spread throughout the city although it could take several more days of fighting before the city is secured, American officials said. U.S. forces on Sunday attacked a bunker complex in southern Fallujah where they discovered a network of steel-reinforced tunnels filled with weapons, an anti-aircraft artillery gun, bunk beds, a truck and a suspected weapons cache, according to a statement from the U.S. military.

U.S. aircraft attacked insurgents hiding "in numerous buildings throughout the city," the statement added.

Fighting in Fallujah was ebbing, but insurgent attacks appeared to escalate elsewhere in Sunni Muslim areas of central and northern Iraq.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Senator Specter Defends Himself

Since the election, a debate has been occuring over the presumed chairmanship of the Senate Judiciary Commitee by Arlen Specter. The main opposition to Specter has been from The Corner and RedState, which formed a website called Not Specter. Hugh Hewitt fired back with some rationale for allowing Specter the chairmanship. Now, Senator Spector has written in his own defense.

I am committed, in word and deed, to prompt action by the Judiciary Committee. Last April, I introduced Senate Resolution 327, a protocol to establish prompt action on all judicial nominees. Specifically, my protocol provides that all nominees will have a Judiciary Committee hearing within 30 days of nomination, a Judiciary Committee vote within 30 days of the hearing, and a floor vote 30 days later.

I was also among the first to call for a marathon, round-the-clock debate to draw attention to the Democratic obstruction, which we held in November 2003. I made 17 floor statements to protest Democratic filibusters on nominees including Miguel Estrada and Charles Pickering.

Initially, I supported the cause against Specter. I did so because I felt that, after such a hugh victory by the Republican Party, it would be a retreat to put a moderate Republican in charge of the comittee which oversees judicial nominations, one of the chief legislative battlegrounds these days. I reflected on this for a few days and then read Hugh Hewitt's perceptive post, I referenced above. Immediately I thought of... Zell Miller. Why is it that Zell Miller spoke out so strongly against the Democratic Party this year? Because he felt that it had no room for voices like his. If conservatives are successful in blocking Specter's chairmanship, then it will signal the inacceptance of non-conservative thought within the Republian party. And that is something I don't think is good for the party, and definately not good for the country.

Stones Cry Out has an in-depth roundup of the sides in this debate. And Hugh Hewitt has written his thoughts on the Zell Miller angle.

UPDATE: Captain Ed has some thoughts on what it means to be a majority party.

The Hollywood Effect

Michael Medved examines the (almost) insignificant effect Hollywood activists had on the election and offers some advice to Democrats.

Friday, November 12, 2004

A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words

Today's Cox & Forkum cartoon sums up the efforts of the U.S. military in Fallujah.

CBS Dumps a Controversial Producer

No it's not who you think.

CBS News has fired the producer responsible for interrupting the last five minutes of a hit crime drama with a special report on the death of Palestinian President Yasser Arafat, a network source said on Friday.

Word of the dismissal came a day after CBS apologized to viewers for breaking into "CSI: NY," one of its top-rated shows, on Wednesday night.

That's right. The network that can't be bothered to investigate, much less fire, its own reporters for broadcasting a "news" report based on phony documents, can decide in less than 48 hours to fire a producer for interrupting a primetime TV show. In CBS's mixed-up world, you'd better not report on legitimate news if it happens in primetime or risk losing your job. But as long as the news is "fake but accurate", it's fit to air in primetime.

Signs of the Times

Victor Davis Hanson today writes about the challenges that will face George W. Bush in his second term:

Most Americans — in the movies they watch, the TV shows they view, the radio they hear, the abortions they receive, the sexual practices they choose, and the fashion and entertainment they enjoy — do not feel they are straight-jacketed by a Christian fundamentalist society. And yet we are told that the new jihadists are not Islamists, but our own Christians who are implementing a continental-wide red-state Jesusland.

At its richest, most populous stage in its history, the United States, after reeling from a devastating blow to its financial and military nerve centers, in less than three years toppled the Taliban and Saddam Hussein, implemented elections in Afghanistan and scheduled them in Iraq, prevented another 9/11-like attack — and so far has tragically lost about 1,100 in combat in a war against a virulent fascism that is antithetical to every aspect of Western liberty. Our grandfathers would have considered all this a miraculous military achievement. We call it a quagmire, deride our leaders as liars and traitors, and often doubted that our Marines — the greatest street-fighting besiegers in the history of warfare, who stormed Manila, Seoul, Hue, and Panama City — could take Fallujah last April.

George Bush is asked to win the war without losing Americans. He must defeat Islamists, but not kill too many jihadists on global television. His second term must deal with everything from jobs and globalization, energy dilemmas, fickle Europeans, and a war where winning is sometimes seen as losing. Entitlements are out of control, yet his critics don't want cuts, but rather further increases. In such a topsy-turvy world, all that will see him through are his iron will to stay firm and consistent in face of a global media barrage. He must smile more, keep far quieter, seem much nicer — and carry an even a bigger stick. God help him, because few others will.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Sore Losers

Advice for those having trouble dealing with the election results.

Reason to Be Happy

Peegy Noonan is happy. I can't say I blame her.

Left Behind

Here's a comparison of George W. Bush and Margaret Thatcher.

Margaret Thatcher was as much of a hate figure in the self-satisfied drawing rooms of London (and the senior common rooms of all our great learned institutions) as George W Bush is in the lofts and brownstones of New York. As one Tory election victory followed another, there was much the same talk as there is now in the metropolitan enclaves of the shell-shocked opinion-forming classes. Margaret Thatcher, like Bush and Reagan in America, confounded the liberal machine by identifying the voices of real people and embracing their discontents.

And that's just the beginning.

Bush: Promoter of Secularism

While Kerry supporters consider therapy and begin the inevitable accusations and recriminations over Kerry's loss, Christopher Hitchens writes that George Bush has done and is doing more to promote secularism than the left is doing.

George Bush may subjectively be a Christian, but he—and the U.S. armed forces—have objectively done more for secularism than the whole of the American agnostic community combined and doubled. The demolition of the Taliban, the huge damage inflicted on the al-Qaida network, and the confrontation with theocratic saboteurs in Iraq represent huge advances for the non-fundamentalist forces in many countries. The "antiwar" faction even recognizes this achievement, if only indirectly, by complaining about the way in which it has infuriated the Islamic religious extremists around the world. But does it accept the apparent corollary—that we should have been pursuing a policy to which the fanatics had no objection?

Secularism is not just a smug attitude. It is a possible way of democratic and pluralistic life that only became thinkable after several wars and revolutions had ruthlessly smashed the hold of the clergy on the state. We are now in the middle of another such war and revolution, and the liberals have gone AWOL. I dare say that there will be a few domestic confrontations down the road, over everything from the Pledge of Allegiance to the display of Mosaic tablets in courtrooms and schools. I have spent all my life on the atheist side of this argument, and will brace for more of the same, but I somehow can't hear Robert Ingersoll or Clarence Darrow being soft and cowardly and evasive if it came to a vicious theocratic challenge that daily threatens us from within and without.

Arafat Is Dead

Arafat has died. He really has died. No, I'm not making this up. I mean, for crying out loud, it was reported in the New York Times. What's that? You don't trust the Times. Ok, well it really must be true because Fox News is saying so, as well.

I'm not feeling very charitable about this news. Good riddance. Perhaps, the Palestinian people can take this chance to move out from the shadow of a truly despicable man, renounce terrorism against Israel, and create a real nation for themselves.

Bush said Arafat's death was a "significant moment" in Palestinian history and expressed hope that the Palestinians would achieve statehood and peace with Israel.

"During the period of transition that is ahead, we urge all in the region and throughout the world to join in helping make progress toward these goals and toward the ultimate goal of peace," Bush said.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who had shunned his longtime enemy as a terrorist and obstructionist, said Arafat's death could serve as an "historic turning point in the Middle East" and expressed hope that the Palestinians would now work to stop terrorism.

If the Palestinians are serious about becoming a nation, then they will have to take this opportunity to put their violent past behind them. Arafat's stated purpose for violence against Israel was to get the world's attention to the plight of the Palestinian people. If true, then it served its purpose. But further terrorism against Israel will only serve as a roadblock to the establishment of a Palestinian nation.

Sharon, insisting that it was impossible to discuss peace with Arafat, had over the past year pushed forward with his "unilateral disengagement" plan, under which Israel would evacuate the Gaza Strip in 2005, abandon some isolated West Bank settlements and finish a West Bank barrier to separate Israelis from Palestinians.

Now, that Arafat is dead, the Palestinians have a chance to build their own nation, if they will only recognize Israel's right to exist and learn to live in peace with Israel. The next move is up to the Palestinian people. Will it be more of the same, continuing down a path that will only lead to death and bitterness, or will they step up to the plate, renounce terrorism and seek peaceful co-existance with Israel.

Well Palestine, the world is watching now.

Happy Veteran's Day

My grandfather's gravesite at Arlington National Cemetery
This is a photo of my grandfather's gravesite at Arlington National Cemetery, taken during Memorial Day weekend 2002. He served our country through World War II, Korea, and Vietnam until his death in 1962.

I also want to note my brothers' service today. They have both served our country in the United States Marine Corps. And that of my father-in-law, who served in the United States Navy and Naval Reserves.

Please remember to take time today and thank any veterans you know for their service. It is by such service and sacrifice that we and the freedoms we hold dear are protected. To those who have served, both past and present, I want to say thank you for your time and commitment in protecting our nation and on behalf of the cause of freedom and liberty.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Mark Steyn: "We weren't dumb enough to vote Kerry"

Another great piece from Mark Steyn:

It wasn't the economy, stupid. It was the stupidity, stupid. No man is an island, but the Democrats expect voters to act as if they are. Don't think about national security and war and Iraq and Iran and North Korea - that's all way beyond a loser like you. You're too "terrified" about your job to be bothered with the foreign pages. It's practically the Depression out there.

OK, it's not. But it's a recession. OK, it's not. But there aren't any jobs out there. OK, there are. But they're not like the jobs you used to have, when you could go to the mill and do the same job day in day out for 45 years, and it made it so much easier for us come election time because there were large numbers of you all in the same place when we flew in for the campaign stop. But the point is: you are an island, stick to "pocketbook issues", think about yourself.

The Left always used to accuse the Right of appealing to the voters' selfishness, but this year the Dems did and it got them nowhere.

It also includes some lessons, though I doubt many Democrats are willing to listen.

Iranian Journalists on Trial

Several Iranian journalists have been scheduled for trial next week on charges of "spreading propaganda against the Islamic state". This is just the latest attempt by the government in Tehran to suppress criticism.

It's Release Day

Two big releases today. First, Mozilla has released Firefox 1.0. Unfortunately, Mozilla's site has been swamped with traffic.

The Mozilla Foundation said it had been bracing for a wave of users and took additional precautions prior to the launch.

"One thing in the last several weeks we've done to prepare for the arrival of Firefox 1.0 is to beef up our server capacity," Chris Hofmann, engineering director at the Mozilla Foundation, wrote in an e-mail. "The traffic we received for the preview release was greater than anything the foundation had experienced. We did some planning and estimation around this prior to the 1.0 launch, and today the traffic is far exceeding our expectations."

The Firefox website seems to be accessible now, although it (and every other Mozilla site) was very slow for me, when I downloaded the new version earlier today.

The other big release today was Halo 2. Now, if only I had an Xbox.

UPDATE: In case you need motivation, here's a good reason to switch to Firefox. And one more for good measure.

UPDATE II: More coverage of the Firefox release from the BBC.

Progress in Fallujah

More updates on Fallujah from Belmont Club. The insurgents have retreated into the Jolan district and are showing signs of desperation when attempting to counterattack.

Moreover, the U.S. and Iraqi forces continue to move into the city at a quick pace. Hopefully, they can keep it up and continue to put pressure on the enemy.

Monday, November 08, 2004

The Economy and Hurricanes

Donald Sensing might be on to something. Last month saw the creation of 337,000 new jobs. Guess where a big part of that number came from?

Part of the pick-up in jobs was down to the worst hurricane seasons for many years. About 71,000 new construction jobs had been added - the most since March 2000.

If President Bush can be blamed for the hurricanes, he ought to get full credit for it as well.

Now, I know Rev. Sensing is jesting. But, I want to address something which his post brought up: the notion that global warming is responsible for or will lead to an increase in hurricane activity or strength. This is "demonstrably false". Hurricanes deliver heat from the equator to the poles. That's why they originate in the tropics and move to the colder polar regions, losing energy on the way. As George Taylor, a climatologist at Oregon State's College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences, puts it:

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.

Furthermore, other issues can be raised with the climate models which predict such increases in hurricane strength.

While I will admit that, ultimately, such computer models are a necessary tool to help answer questions related to global warming, we must always keep in mind that there are a wide variety of assumptions that are necessary to perform these modeling experiments. First of all, the assumed 1% per year increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration, while widely used by modelers for its simplicity, is considerably above what has been experienced in the last 30 years. The resultant 2.2-times increase in carbon dioxide over 80 years, as assumed in the models, would actually take 280 years if we extrapolate the real, observed upward trend over the last 30 years out in time. Of course, no one knows whether we'll even be using carbon-based fuels in another 100, let alone 280, years.

Secondly, the model-predicted warming in the tropics is strongly tied to how those models handle moist convection (showers and thunderstorms). All models have greatly simplified schemes for how this convection transfers heat and moisture from the surface to the atmosphere. Any warming in the models leads to moistening of the atmospheric humidity throughout the troposphere (where our weather occurs), and since water vapor is by far the most important greenhouse gas, this leads to further warming and moistening. It is not at all obvious that this strong of a water vapor feedback will occur in response to carbon dioxide increases. An increase in precipitation efficiency (how readily clouds convert water vapor into precipitation) is one possible negative feedback which isn't understood well enough to include in models yet. Furthermore, a mixture of surface thermometer, weather balloon, and satellite data over the last 25 years suggests that the tropical atmosphere might not behave as simply as the models assume. The satellite and weather balloon data suggest little, if any, warming of the tropical troposphere during that time, the reason for which remains a mystery, since all models suggest any surface warming should, if anything, be amplified with height.

As it is, Florida got hammered pretty badly this summer, and I feel for those affected. After all, I've been through a hurricane myself (Andrew in 1992), and most of my family still lives in South and Central Florida. I spent a good bit of time this summer on the phone checking in on them. It isn't fun to be without the conveniences of daily life. We so often seem to take them for granted. But I'll save my own experience with a hurricane, for a future post.

Updates for Fallujah

Command Post has several items about the ongoing operation in Fallujah:

The Battle Rages On

Belmont Club has some information about the assault on Fallujah, including a possible timeline.

Trying to Save Their Necks

It seems that CBS was delaying the investigation into Rathergate in order to avoid having to discipline its employees. From Broadcasting & Cable:

Pre-election, the feeling in some quarters at CBS was that if Kerry triumphed, fallout from the investigation would be relatively minimal. The controversial piece’s producer, Mary Mapes, would likely be suspended or fired, but a long list of others up the chain of command—from 60 Minutes II executive producer Josh Howard, to Rather and all the way up to news division President Andrew Heyward—would escape more or less unscathed.

Here's hoping they get what they deserve.

(From Rathergate.com)

Good News from Iraq

Arthur Chrenkoff has a look at two weeks' worth of good news from Iraq.

BDS Rages On

Tim Blair has details on several new outbreaks of BDS.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

It Has Begun

Earlier, I watched a Fox News video showing Iraqi troops successfully seizing control of the city's hospital. It was heartening to see Iraqi soldiers participating in clearing out Fallujah, and building their future.

More details from the BBC.

Marine armor is getting ready to see action.

Deacon at Power Line remarks, "Before the start of the military campaign in Iraq, it was feared that we would have to engage in fierce urban fighting unlike any we've seen since Vietnam. We were able to conquer Iraq without such fighting, but now may be forced to engage in it." While this engagement may be long overdue, it will probably turn out to be the costliest one for our efforts in Iraq to date.

Sunset from Clingman's Dome

We made it up to Clingman's Dome yesterday. Unfortunately, traffic was bad enough that we didn't get there until sunset. The photograph below was taken from the Clingman's Dome parking lot.

Sunset from Clingman's Dome
The view was still incredible. The sky was clear and full of stars. And we could see bright city lights in the distance.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

I'm Outta Here...

For the day. It is beautiful here in Knoxville, so my wife and I, and some friends are headed up to the Smoky Mountains for the afternoon. If I take any nice photos, I'll post them later.

More on the Polling Data

Rantingprofs links to a NY Times op-ed by ABC News' director of polling, who opposed the inclusion of "moral values" in the exit polls.

Opinion researchers don't always agree. The exit poll is written by a committee, and that committee voted down my argument against including "moral values" in the issues list. That happens - and the exit poll overall did deliver a wealth of invaluable data. The point is not to argue that moral values, however defined, are not important. They are, and they should be measured. The intersection of religiosity, ideology and politics is the staging ground for many of the most riveting social issues of our day.

The point, instead, is that this hot-button catch phrase had no place alongside defined political issues on the list of most important concerns in the 2004 vote. Its presence there created a deep distortion - one that threatens to misinform the political discourse for years to come.

The post on Rantingprofs also points out something I hadn't considered: "Aside from the obvious (that 'moral values' could have meant Kerry's values, as a characteristic of leadership) the interpretations also presumed that every voter was a single issue voter, but the poll never asked people if they voted only on the basis of the issue 'most important to you.'"

Why I Call Colin Powell 'Cousin Colin'

I may often refer to Colin Powell as cousin Colin. Lest anyone in the blogosphere think I am dissin' him, I don't mean this in a disrespectful way. And no, he isn't my cousin. I have a very close friend who is married to one of Powell's cousins, hence the reference. When I found out about their relationship, we started jokingly referring to him as 'cousin Colin', as in "Man, you need to tell cousin Colin to tell those jokers at the U.N. to shut up." That's all there is to it.

Kofi Annan Supports the Terrorists in Fallujah

Why doesn't somebody tell Kofi Annan to shut up?

The United States, Britain and Iraq on Friday angrily dismissed a warning from U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan that a military offensive in the Sunni stronghold of Fallujah could jeopardize the credibility of upcoming elections in Iraq.

In letters dated Oct. 31 and addressed to President Bush, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and interim Iraqi leader Ayad Allawi, Annan said using military force against insurgents in the city would further alienate Sunni Muslims already feeling left out of a political process orchestrated largely by Washington.

This leaves no doubt that the U.N. is utterly useless in dealing with global terrorism. Leaving the terrorists in control of Fallujah would seriously damage the credibility of the Iraqi government. It will send a signal to other militant groups that an Iraqi democracy is incapable of dealing with them. If the thugs in Fallujah want to be part "of a political process", then they need to lay down their arms and accept democratic government. Until they do that any claims to being left out in the cold are fraudulent. But I won't be holding my breath, waiting for it to happen.

Fortunately, the U.S., British and other coalition governments aren't heeding Kofi's "advice".

Annan pushed for a diplomatic, rather than a military, solution in Fallujah. But Allawi said the "window is closing" for diplomacy, and within hours U.S. warplanes pounded the heavily populated city while Marines and Iraqi troops hovered on the outskirts.

Asked about Annan's concerns Friday, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said, "Frankly, we differ."

Boucher added: "The Iraqi government has made very clear that they do have a strategy for resolving the problems of these towns like Fallujah. It's a strategy that has worked in some cases already, in Najaf and Samarra and a few other places. It's a strategy of reaching out politically to local leaders, of reasserting Iraqi government control and of moving militarily where that needs to be done, Iraqis and coalition forces together."

Secretary of State Colin L. Powell discussed the letter with Annan in a weekend phone call, and the U.N. chief met privately on Monday with John C. Danforth, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. Privately, Bush administration officials said they were livid about the letter, which was sent two days before the U.S. presidential election.

It's good to see cousin Colin (no, he's not my cousin) telling Kofi where to stuff it.

Captain Ed has some thoughts on Kofi's cowardice and the U.N. as well.

Religion Breakdown for the Election

Stephen Bainbridge has posted a graphic of the distribution of votes by religious affiliation.

The 'Values' Myth Is Exposed

So the media would have us believe that the President was re-elected by a ground swell of support from "Values Voters". James Joyner wants to put that myth to bed.

Screwy Exit Polls

Michael Barone comments on possible Democratic shenanigans with the exit polls.

Erick Erickson has some more thoughts about the polling data over on Redstate. He goes a little bit further than Barone: "Somebody had the numbers sooner than they should have been released. Somebody leaked those numbers and tried to suppress the Bush vote. I'm willing to go the next step and say those numbers were orchestrated intentionally to have the effect they had while people were still out voting."

Update: Here's more on the exit polling and it's effect on Republicans.

Update II: Stephen Bainbridge relates an anecdote from a Republican election lawyer supporting the case that the exit polls were being gamed by Kerry supporters. He's asking for supporting data. So how about it? Did anybody else see something fishy going on?

A Spectacular Failure

Here's another great article from Mark Steyn on the Election.

How about that? Alas for the Republican party, Lady Antonia and her chums never got round to writing to New Jerseyites and Pennsylvanians and Oregonians, or we'd be looking at a Bush landslide. Instead, Republicans had to settle for a little less. But, despite the best efforts of the US media, the Guardian, some even phonier than usual 'exit polls', Bruce Springsteen and 'Rock The Vote', Puff Daddy and the 'Vote Or Die' rap-the-vote movement, George Soros and Steve Bing and the million trillion bazillion dollars they poured into Ohio, respected foreign leaders like Yasser Arafat and Kim Jong Il, the Arab street, an attempted 'October surprise' by the UN's Mohammed al-Baradei and the New York Times, and a late intervention by the late Osama bin Laden (which seemed awfully close to 'Vote Kerry or die'), it was still a Republican night.

He discusses the echo chamber that is the media and the Democratic party, and looks at the increasing irrelevance of the Democrats. He, also, examines why the Republican win wasn't bigger.

(From LGF)

Friday, November 05, 2004

The President's Mandate

Beldar explains why the President, despite a 3-point margin, has a mandate from the American people.

In the only public opinion poll enshrined in our Constitution, the American public has spoken. Through the mechanisms specified in that Constitution, the results of that polling have become abundantly clear. Of course there are risks and uncertainties in the future; that would have been true too even had the result Tuesday gone the other way. But President George W. Bush does indeed have a visible, demonstrable mandate to back his constitutional powers and his discharge of his constitutional responsibilities. Without gloating, without belittling those whose votes were for his opponent, that is something that I am proud to celebrate.

2004 Tennessee Electoral Map by County

2004 Tennessee Electoral Map by County
I took a screen capture of the map from CNN's election website.

Hanson on the Election

Victor Davis Hanson writes about the election of 2004.

The revisionists kept repeating in this campaign that Afghanistan was lost to the warlords due to "taking the eye off the ball in Iraq" and "outsourcing" the fighting and thus losing bin Laden. George Bush ignored these second-guessing experts, assured the American people that, like our forefathers who won WWII, a much richer America could still fight and win two conflicts at once, and that bin Laden, in the manner of a Karadzic or Mladic, was a doomed man — his end a detail of when, not if.

The harpies shrieked that Saddam's petrofueled barbarity was not connected with al Qaeda or even the larger wave of Islamic terrorism — as if, say, Aryan Nazis could not have had anti-democratic alliances of convenience with Asian imperialists in Japan; as if the first World Trade Center bombing, the North Africa killings, the career of Zarqawi, and the al Qaedists in Kurdistan were either nonexistent or irrelevant.

In response, George Bush maintained that Islamic fascism is global, fed by self-induced failures of Middle East autocrats, who hand-in-glove with terrorists diverted the frustration of the Arab Street against America — a hyperpower that is not, pace bin Laden, libertine weden but rather their worst nightmare. Autocracy is their illness, and emocracy, not American apologies, is their cure.

The administration maintained, without wavering, that those who were blowing up Americans in Kabul, or Baghdad, or Westerners in Madrid and Bali were of the same ilk. Their differences were the stuff of legalistic nit-pickers who might have equally parsed Mussolini's fascism from Hitler's Nazism or claimed that Mao's Marxism so differed from Stalin's Communism that the two could never have teamed up in Korea with yet a third wild-card totalitarian.

George Bush — through the beheadings, the kidnappings, Abu Ghraib, the hysteria of a Richard Clark, Joe Wilson, Anonymous, Rathergate, the 9/11 Commission, CIA rogue analysts, cheap European slurs, insane remarks from Walter Cronkite to Bill Moyers, and last-minute media fabricated "scandals" — has never faltered, so confident was he in the exceptionalism of America and the unshakeable resolve and competence of the U.S. military.

Most of the American people, of course, agreed all along.

Steyn on Bush Hatred

Mark Steyn:

Bush hatred flopped big on Tuesday. That's not a problem for The Guardian's editors, who have to sell papers in Britain, but it is for a Democratic Party that has to sell itself in the US. Michael Mooronification damages everyone who gets it.

Americans Explain It to the Beeb

BBC News is asking Americans, "Why did you vote for Bush?"

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Looking Forward

The President is shaping his agenda for the new term.

An Observation

One of the many reasons for the President's historic victory was the increased turnout of Bush voters in the Kerry states. No doubt, many of these voters were Democrats who voted for Bush, but I think that many were also Republican voters who, for one reason or another, decided to stay home in 2000, but were moved to cast ballots for the President this time around.

I'll offer up some anecdotal evidence to support this. In 2000, my brother-in-law was attending school in New York. He choose to vote (for Bush) by absentee ballot in Tennessee, his home state, to avoid the stress of dealing with his in-laws, who supported Al Gore. (I can't help but note the irony of New York state voters supporting a Tennessean candidate for president, while the voter from Tennessee cast a ballot against said candidate.)

Another example, one of my wife's college friends was attending Columbia University in 2000. My wife very diligently encouraged her friend, who grew up in Kentucky and is a solid Republican voter, to vote in 2000, especially to cast a vote against Hillary since neither my wife nor I could. After the election, my wife emailed her friend to ask if he had voted. His reply went something like this, "Yeah I did, not that it matters or that it will do any good."

In both cases, the people I know voted despite the uncomfortableness of dealing with friends, family, co-workers and neighbors who did not share their views, or the discouragement that their vote would not affect the eventual outcome. Sure, these are only two examples, and not a statistically valid sample. But I can't help wondering, if the people I know were discouraged or pressured about the election, how many others were in the same circumstances, but decided to sit that election out. I will probably never know. But I think it is something worth considering.

Voice of Reason

Lawrence Lessig has some advice for Kerry supporters.

He is our President — legitimately, and credibly.

Our criticism of this administration must now focus narrowly and sharply: on the policies, not on the credibility of the man.

The Democrats would be wise to avoid the shrill behavior of the last four years. It served no purpose, other than to alienate their party from a large percentage of the populace. To continue with such behavior when Bush was decisively elected, will result, I think, in the further marginalization of the Democratic party. In short, I agree with Lessig that they must focus on criticizing the President's policies and not his motivation for those policies, or his lack of legitimacy.

Read the comments too. There is some reflection going on over there. Perhaps, these are the first small steps toward the revitalization of the Democratic party.

UPDATE: It seems I might have been too optimistic when I posted this. Glenn Reynolds has written yesterday and today about some examples of Kerry supporters expressing both disapproval with and contempt for those who voted against their candidate.

Say It Ain't So

Could Microsoft's Windows Mobile OS be coming to a Treo near you?

I have an older Handspring Visor and I choose it because the PalmOS does the things that I want a PDA to do, and it does them with out getting in my way. Windows Mobile devices are more like a computer in your pocket, a bit overkill for me. Oh well, I still want one.

Arafat Is on Death Row

Yasser Arafat has been in a coma since Wednesday evening and is now in critical condition according to Reuters.

His doctors still haven't identified the cause of his illness.

Peggy Noonan Is Back

Peggy Noonan is back at the Wall Street Journal.

The leaders of the Bush effort see it this way: A ragtag band of more than a million Republican volunteers who fought like Washington's troops at Valley Forge beat the paid Hessians of King George III's army.

Welcome Right Wing News Visitors

John Hawkins of Right Wing News has selected this blog as his Website of the Day. Thanks John.

Welcome to those of you visiting from Right Wing News. I hope you'll have a look around.

I have enabled comments for this post, and if you are so inclined (and have a Blogger login), feel free to leave a comment to let me know what you think of my blog, or drop me an email.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Land of the Free, Home of the Brave

Osama bin Laden:

In conclusion, I tell you in truth, that your security is not in the hands of Kerry, nor Bush, nor al-Qaida. No.

Your security is in your own hands. And every state that doesn't play with our security has automatically guaranteed its own security.

Yes, it's true. America's security is in the hands of its citizens. And yesterday those citizens resoundingly declared: We choose security through strength and perseverance, not cowardice and shame. Today, I have never been prouder of my fellow citizens. During a war with a shadowy enemy, who seeks to strike the weak and intimidate the bold, we turned out in record numbers to choose those who will govern us. Regardless of the individual choices we made, we declared to bin Laden, al-Qaeda, and the world that we will not retreat at the hint of danger. This election was a victory for all Americans, and for democracy at home and abroad. We are truly the land of the free and the home of the brave.

O thus be it ever when free-men shall stand
Between their lov'd home and the war's desolation;
Blest with vict'ry and peace, may the heav'n-rescued land
Praise the Pow'r that hath made and preserv'd us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: "In God is our trust!"
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Francis Scott Key, The Star-Spangled Banner

Captain Ed has some related thoughts.

2004 U.S. Electoral Map by County

USA Today has the 2004 version of the Presidential election results broken down by county.

(From Michelle Malkin)

Third Party Candidate

Why am I just now finding out about this interesting third party candidate? I demand a Congressional investigation. Now!

(From Right Wing News)

Winners and Losers

Here are my winners and losers from the election of 2004:

Winners: W (Doh!), John Thune, the Republicans, the blogosphere, Mason-Dixon Poll, Iraq, Afghanistan, Swiftboat Veterans for Truth, Clarke County (Ohio), Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama

Losers: John Kerry, Tom Daschle, the Democratics, Dan Rather, MSM, exit polls, Zogby, Iran, North Korea, Michael Moore, Barbara Striesand, Bruce Springsteen, George Soros, MoveOn.org, Rock the Vote, the Guardian newspaper, the U.N., Jacques Chirac, Osama bin Laden

Listening to Kerry's Concession Speech

I am listening to Kerry's concession speech. Very gracious in defeat. Spoke against a protracted legal battle over recounts. Spoke about bringing the nation together. Very nice speech, so far. He sounds very conciliatory, very heart-felt and genuine. If he had been more like this during the campaign, I think he would have fared better.

UPDATE: Cliff May at The Corner agrees with me and has a lead on possible future employment for Senator Kerry when he's through with the Senate. Jonah Goldberg is less than impressed.

Rush came back on at the end of the speech and complemented Kerry on a "very gracious speech."

Did Dan Really Say That?

The Hotline has a list of Ratherisms from last night's coverage. My favorite is "On Bob Schieffer saying OH could be called soon: 'We used to say if a frog had side pockets, he'd carry a handgun.'"

Kos Wants Dean as DNC Chairman

Kos is calling for Terry McAuliffe to be ousted as DNC Chairman, to be replaced by Howard Dean.

I think this is unlikely for two reasons:

One, I doubt Dean's ability to manage the party effectively. His Presidential campaign was successful at leveraging the internet for fund-raising and organization, yet it did not translate into a meaningful primary campaign for him. Hard to build a credible case for managing a national party, when he couldn't manage his own campaign.

Two, I fully expect the Clinton wing of the Democratic party to continue its control over the Democratic party. In a party whose candidates run on star power, Clinton is still the biggest star. McAuliffe might be ousted, but he'll be replaced with another Clinton apparatchik. The better to secure Hillary's Presidential ambitions in 2008.

Thank You Senator Kerry

"Congratulations, Mr. President," Kerry said in the conversation described by sources as lasting less than five minutes. One of the sources was Republican, the other a Democrat.

The Democratic source said Bush called Kerry a worthy, tough and honorable opponent. Kerry told Bush the country was too divided, the source said, and Bush agreed. "We really have to do something about it," Kerry said according to the Democratic official.

Well said, Senator. Thank you for sparing the country another 2000 election fiasco.

Kerry Calls Bush to Concede

AP and CNN are reporting that Senator Kerry has called President Bush and conceded the election. Good move Senator.

AP and the Miami Herald also report that Castor has conceded to Martinez in the Florida Senate race.

Let's Not Get Ahead of Ourselves

Isn't it a little early to be thinking about 2008?

A Possible Democratic Strategy?

John Hillen writes at The Corner: "If Kerry doesn’t concede by mid-morning, he can only be thinking and being advised one thing: that the Democratic party needs to keep its only centripetal force and organizing principle going….that the Republicans can only rule by illegitimate means. The we-was-robbed-in-2000 zeitgeist generated record fundraising, high-visibility support, and provided an emotional core for the Democratic party that it had been missing since Watergate."

I think this would be a monumental mistake on the part of the Democrats. Playing the "we-was-robbed" meme may have energized their base, but I think last night's results show that it may, just as well, have backfired on Kerry and the Democrats. I think that it equally moved the Republican base to turnout: the popular vote in the Presidential race and the GOP gains in the Senate races being the best indicators.

Al Gore was able to hang on desperately in 2000 because he had won the popular vote. Kerry has no such vehicle to hang his hat on this time, and continuing in a refusal to concede in the face of major defeat makes him look, at least to me, extremely small. In the Senate races, the GOP has gained ground, picking up at least three seats, and if Martinez and Murkowski hang on, then add one more for a four point swing in the Republican party's favor. Granted the Democrats were defending more seats, and in most of them were in Republican territory, but still, the contested races were close, and as things stand now, seem to have all, save Colorado, broken the GOP's way.

If the Democrats continue down this path, especially in light of such a huge Republican victory, look for the future marginalization of the Democratic party.

MSM in Denial Mode

Jay Cost has some strong feelings about the MSM.

More on possible MSM bias in reporting election results. (From Instapundit)

UPDATE: More from The Corner.

UPDATE II: More bias data at the Logic Times.

Here We Go Again!?!?!

Oh no, not again.

I disagree about John Edwards. I thought he looked goofy with his thumb-side gestures, but, assuming things hold up for Bush, I am sure Edwards will be back for another try at the presidency.

I agree. More from Hugh Hewitt.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Knox County (TN) Election Results

Here are the election results for Knox County, TN.

Election Coverage

Lot's of election coverage at The Corner and Redstate.

For your polling fix: The Horserace Blog.

A Look Back

Amir Taheri recalls the American hostage crisis in 1979. The column provides an excellent overview of how a potential American ally became an opponent.

It was then that Khomeini coined his notorious phrase, "America cannot do a damn thing."

He also ordered that the slogan "Death to America" be inscribed in all official buildings and vehicles. The U.S. flag was to be painted at the entrance of airports, railway stations, ministries, factories, schools, hotels and bazaars so that the faithful could trample it under their feet every day.

The slogan "America cannot do a damn thing" became the basis of all strategies worked out by Islamist militant groups, including those opposed to Khomeini.

That slogan was tested and proved right for almost a quarter of a century. Between Nov. 4, 1979, and 9/11, a total of 671 Americans were held hostage for varying lengths of time in several Muslim countries. Nearly 1,000 Americans were killed, including 241 Marines blown up while sleeping in Beirut in 1983.

For 22 years the United States, under presidents from both parties, behaved in exactly the way that Khomeini predicted. It took countless successive blows, including the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center in New York, without decisive retaliation. That attitude invited, indeed encouraged, more attacks.

The 9/11 tragedy was the denouement of the Nov. 4 attack on the U.S. embassy in Tehran.

You should read it all.

Daschle's Last Stand

This could be the proverbial nail in the coffin of Tom Daschle's political career.

Full Transcript of bin Laden Video

Al Jazeera has posted a complete transcript of the bin Laden video on its website.

Reading through the whole transcript, I am even more convinced that he has taken his talking point straight from a copy of "Fahrenheit 9/11". Various parts of his speech refer to the U.S. national deficit and a plan of "bleeding America to the point of bankruptcy."

This is in addition to our having experience in using guerrilla warfare and the war of attrition to fight tyrannical superpowers, as we, alongside the mujahidin, bled Russia for 10 years, until it went bankrupt and was forced to withdraw in defeat.


So we are continuing this policy in bleeding America to the point of bankruptcy. Allah willing, and nothing is too great for Allah.


Meaning that every dollar of al-Qaida defeated a million dollars by the permission of Allah, besides the loss of a huge number of jobs.

As for the size of the economic deficit, it has reached record astronomical numbers estimated to total more than a trillion dollars.

And even more dangerous and bitter for America is that the mujahidin recently forced Bush to resort to emergency funds to continue the fight in Afghanistan and Iraq, which is evidence of the success of the bleed-until-bankruptcy plan - with Allah's permission.

However, America is not like the Soviet Union. We don't have a centrally planned economy. Our economy can absorb losses like the one that happened on 9/11 and rebound from such losses. Bin Laden has been listening to the doomsayer's in this country and it shows. Al-Qaeda's strategy is the wrong one for the wrong enemy.

(From LGF)

Election Prediction

Without further ado, here is my Election Prediction:

Bush: 276 | Kerry: 262

Election Day

It's here. Now get out and vote!

Monday, November 01, 2004

Analysis of bin Laden Video

MEMRI has put a translation of the bin Laden video on its website, which seems to suggest that bin Laden is attempting to influence the U.S. election through propaganda, as opposed to terrorist acts. His goal, then, is to divide the nation state by state.

The tape of Osama bin Laden that was aired on Al-Jazeera on Friday, October 29th included a specific threat to "each U.S. state," designed to influence the outcome of the upcoming election against George W. Bush. The U.S. media in general mistranslated the words "ay wilaya" (which means "each U.S. state") to mean a "country" or "nation" other than the U.S., while in fact the threat was directed specifically at each individual U.S. state. This suggests some knowledge by bin Laden of the U.S. electoral college system. In a section of his speech in which he harshly criticized George W. Bush, bin Laden stated: "Any U.S. state that does not toy with our security automatically guarantees its own security."

The Islamist website Al-Qal'a explained what this sentence meant: "This message was a warning to every U.S. state separately. When he [Osama Bin Laden] said, 'Every state will be determining its own security, and will be responsible for its choice,' it means that any U.S. state that will choose to vote for the white thug Bush as president has chosen to fight us, and we will consider it our enemy, and any state that will vote against Bush has chosen to make peace with us, and we will not characterize it as an enemy. By this characterization, Sheikh Osama wants to drive a wedge in the American body, to weaken it, and he wants to divide the American people itself between enemies of Islam and the Muslims, and those who fight for us, so that he doesn't treat all American people as if they're the same. This letter will have great implications inside the American society, part of which are connected to the American elections, and part of which are connected to what will come after the elections."

Dan Darling offers some in-depth analysis of the video over at Winds of Change:

Here again is his attempt to "hijack" the pro-democratization movement with respect to the Middle East and rhetorically juxtaposes membership in al-Qaeda with subjugation under the corrupt and despotic governments of the Middle East.

This is truly something that I would be paying attention to if I were a government analyst, because if nothing else it marks bin Laden as an extremely shrewd and manipulative observer of Middle East politics. No longer is he claiming to battle for the restoration of the Caliphate (though one of his lieutenants, Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan leader Tahir Yuldashev recently released a video of his own to tell the base that this is still very much on the organization's agenda) with himself or a puppet like Mullah Omar at its head. Instead, now he is arguing that he wants to overthrow the governments of the Middle East in order to establish a "free ummah," in many ways echoing statements by President Bush and others about the need to spread democracy in the Arab world.

This concerns me for a number of reasons. The Cold War and post-Cold War world is full of examples in which entirely legitimate pro-democracy or self-determination campaigns often became every bit as bad or worse than the regime they were fighting. A lot of people in the US foreign policy establishment are more or less wanting to pull the plug on calls for greater efforts to democratization in the Islamic world, instead favoring stability in the region. Without getting into the merits or lack thereof of this approach, if the US pulls the plug on the pro-democratization initiative in the Middle East, bin Laden seems to be more or less positioning himself to fill the void. In other words, in the absence of respectable actors, the not-so-respectable ones are going to take over.

Dan in his analysis, disagrees with MEMRI's take. I'm not really sure what all this means, but you should read it for yourself.

(From Captain's Quarters)

Not All Europeans Hate Bush

Not that it matters much, but the Telegraph has endorsed Bush.

Quicklinks: National Review Online

Here are a few items from National Review Online, I had meant to post sooner:

  • First up, the incomparable Victor Davis Hanson explains why the stakes are so high in this election:

    In the heart of even the most ardent liberal lies a dormant but still alive desire for victory, and in every strutting hawk there lingers the fear of abject defeat. Had we secured Iraq by June 2003, the sputtering Kerry candidacy would by now have been faulting Bush for not going into Iran. But blink, falter, and witness beheadings and hostage-taking on television, and Kerry can reinvent himself as the apostle of peace all along — and a bizarre group of creepy people come out of the woodwork professing Biblical wisdom about George Bush's purported catastrophes.

    In short, the more sophisticated, the more technological, the more hyped and televised war becomes, the more pundits and strategists warn us about "fourth-generational," "asymmetrical," "irregular," and "new dimensional" conflict, the more we simply forget the unchanging requisite of the will to win that trumps all other considerations. John Kerry has no more secret a plan than George Bush — because there is no secret way to pacify Iraq other than to kill the killers, humiliate their cause through defeat, and give the credit of the victory, along with material aid and the promise of autonomous freedom, to moderate Iraqis. Victory on the battlefield — not the mysterious diplomacy of "wise men," or German and French sanction, or Arab League support — alone will allow Iraq an opportunity for humane government.

    Meanwhile, we all vote. One candidate urges us to return to the mindset of pre-September 11 — law enforcement dealing with terrorists as nuisances. He claims the policies that have led to an absence of another attack at home, the end of the Taliban and Saddam Hussein, idealistic efforts to extend freedom, and radical and positive changes in Pakistan, Libya, the West Bank, and the Gulf have made things worse. In contrast, the other reminds us that we are in a real war against horrific enemies and are no longer passive targets, but will fight the terrorists on their home turf, win, and leave behind humane government. No choice could be clearer. It is America's call.

  • Next, we have a Kerry Spot item which makes the argument for why the Bush campaign is confident of a favorable result Tuesday.

  • Lastly, here is Jonah Goldberg on Kerry's foreign policy:

    Whatever Bush's faults, the one thing a majority of Americans are confident of is that he wants to win the war on terror in Iraq and around the world, no matter what. About John Kerry they just can't be too sure. That's why I think Bush will win, and why I think he should.

    Jonah's analysis is spot on. Kerry has gone to great lengths to obscure his stand on the war in Iraq and that war's place in the greater conflict with global terrorism. In doing so, he has come out both for and against the war in Iraq in an obvious attempt to appeal to both his base, which doesn't support the war in Iraq, and those voters for whom intervention in Iraq was a necessary part of the larger war on terrorism. For some, like Andrew Sullivan and Daniel Drezner, the duplicity of this stand has worked; never mind, that Kerry hasn't shown a spine in his 30 years in the Senate. They believe we should trust that Kerry is only pandering to his base when he sounds off against the war. Only his Senate record leads me to the conclusion that he really is a dove at heart, and the hawkish noises he occasionally makes are the aberration. Those who support the war and are supporting John Kerry are doing so at the peril of this nation, because they believe that he has no choice but to see the war in Iraq through. But in a post September 11th world, what if he faces a tough choice, and what if he makes a poor one?

    Yesterday, I referenced a Boston Globe editorial that criticized Kerry's lack of political courage. What if Kerry's tendency to make the politically expedient choice shows itself (as I believe it will) when he is confronted with a hard choice? Simply put, I think Kerry is not a man of principle (or at least a man with not enough principle). Kerry's lack of principle sets him apart from George W. Bush, whose defining quality in this area is that the President is a man of his convictions, for right or wrong, and will act upon those convictions even when the option to do otherwise is popular or easy.

    This election is going to be seen abroad as a referendum on the Bush administration's approach to terrorism and sponsoring states. Has the President and his staff made mistakes? Absolutely. Should they be given a chance to see this thing through and have time to correct them? I can't help but think of the old saying, "Dance with the one what brung ya." All right, I've said my piece, so I'll wrap-up by telling you that I've already made my choice: I voted for Bush in early voting the first chance I had. Tomorrow, we'll see if America agrees with me.