Saturday, July 31, 2004

Belated Welcome to New Bloggers

Two new, productive bloggers:

Legal XXX

and

Torerolaw

Apologies for the delay, Blogspot switched to WYSIWYG and I've had trouble with the change.
These blogs are definitely worth a read, although Torerolaw hates the Dodgers. (I'm on the fence, I think this is the sort of change that should have come after a failed season not in the midst of a pennant race; and it would have been kinder to our boys to fire them outright than force them to wear Marlins uniforms.)

Thursday, July 29, 2004

112 Words Per Sentence?

From an AP release:

"So tonight, in the city where America's freedom began, only a few blocks from where the sons and daughters of liberty gave birth to our nation, here tonight, on behalf of a new birth of freedom, on behalf of the middle class who deserve a champion and those struggling to join it who deserve a fair shot, for the brave men and women in uniform who risk their lives every day and the families who pray for their return, for all those who believe our best days are ahead of us, for all of you, with great faith in the American people, I accept your nomination for president of the United States."


This is what Kerry spent days writing out longhand, and what wunderkind Bob Shrum has endorsed: a sentence with one-hundred-twelve words that takes up seven lines of type.

This style of oratory had quite a run--200 B.C. to A.D. 1880.  Around that time populism and the general suffrage came to mean speechifying like Cato showed you were out of touch with the common man.

Here's what Lincoln was capable of saying in 119 words:
It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us. . .that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion. . . that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain. . . that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom. . . and that government of the people. . .by the people. . .for the people. . . shall not perish from the earth.

Unfair comparison? Notice the cribbed line in bold.

The point isn't that Senator Kerry is no President Lincoln--few are, that's why Lincoln has such a reputation.  If his natural style--and mine--is to stack sentences, so be it.  But it's bad oratory, and using Lincoln invites a comparison which can only be unflattering. 

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Boston: So Far, So-So

They've avoided the debacle for the first two nights.  From what I hear about Wyclef Jean and the National Anthem in a Native American tongue, the convention the networks aren't showing is a mess, but then, the networks aren't showing it. 

Then again, the media is already starting to talk about the media

Sunday, July 25, 2004

Getting to Knoooooow You

Teresa Heinz Kerry on being misquoted:  http://www.thepittsburghchannel.com/video/3576483/detail.html

I'm Confused

The GOP leaked the news about the Berger investigation, so that the press would ignore the DNC convention until Bush could leak the news that his payroll records weren't destroyed after all...

Oh wait.  They didn't leak that.  They just announced some had been found, which is suspicious because it's not the behavior of somebody hiding something...

No, that wasn't it.  Ah, it was the convention.  By announcing the discovered documents and leaking the Berger news, the GOP prevented any media coverage of the DNC convention until it actually started, which is why the DNC issued releases demanding people pay attention to what the GOP was saying...

Uh...Terry, what's the conspiracy again? 

Saturday, July 24, 2004

Million Dollar Gift

As yet, Senator Kerry is committing to winning the war in Iraq.
If he's still for continuing the war when he accepts the nomination, he'll be booed by the delegates.
A million dollars of Bush advertising couldn't do better for the President.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

One Law?

Instapundit is saying Title 793 of the US Code means Sandy Berger should get 10 years.

Katrina Leung is going to be tried for that crime in September and we're throwing the book at her.

Does Mr. Berger deserve any less?

Friday, July 16, 2004

Terror in the Skies, Again? Big Deal.

So what?

Justene at Calblog says this shows we're psychologically unfit to win the war on terror. Others say it shows we're not ready for the next one.

I say they have blinders on. The concerned public does, like Hugh Hewitt, not the airlines or the government.

We're talking about a plane that was not hijacked. That is a nonevent. Under our system, we're worried about planes that get hijacked. And we've got a fairly fool-proof plan to beat the bad guys.

First, airport screening. It didn't work so well that nobody found a cause for alarm, but again, it didn't fail so that there was a hijacking.

So what if it fails? Then the second line of defense comes in. Our Air Force will race to the plane and blow it up in midair, so that it falls to the ground in a million one-pound pieces instead of one million-pound projectile.

Saving the passengers and crew? Giving them time and training to repel terrorists? Talking them down to a safe landing? Nice if it happens, but nobody's counting on it.

Go reread that article with this in mind: everybody in this story is a security write-off. Had their worst fears been realized, we'd have killed them all ourselves.

Because nearly 9 out of 10 people who died on 9/11 weren't on board a plane. By the time they knew their peril it was too late. They didn't agree to take any risks with their lives, like the people who bought a ticket to ride in an airplane.

So faced with a possible disaster that will kill everyone in the plane AND many more on the ground, or averting that disaster by simply destroying the plane and all aboard it, we're going to choose option B. If the passengers overcome the hijackers faster than a speeding jet, great. If not, we've got a workable solution.

And as to psychological preparedness, the ace who will fire the missles into the airliner is a volunteer for the duty. I will gladly put my ground-bound life in the hands of people like him before I trust a hundred random passengers to stage an impromptu riot in the face of death.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

To Avoid Debacle

Gore, Kennedy will have to tone it down.

Kerry and Edwards will have to ratchet it up.

Reagan will have to address Bush by name without repeating Bentsen's "I knew so-and-so, you're no So-and-so" act.

Nobody dare go off the rails like Dean.

Anybody think they can do it? Can they air 4 days of prime time without spewing the bile and conspiracy they have been feeding off of for a year?

Wanna bet?

Barroso Right for America

EU has a new President:

In particular, Mr Barroso offered an olive branch to Socialist members of the parliament by insisting that "in my scale of values, social policy comes way above economics". He added: "It will not be acceptable, as we push for more competitiveness, to change the social spirit of Europe."

...Mr Barroso yesterday also rejected calls for sharp cuts in the proposed European Union budget, as advocated by the six biggest net contributors. Following the EU's enlargement to 25 member states, he said cuts would send the wrong signal to the 10 newcomers.


Thanks EU!

Sunday, July 11, 2004

CIA Should Have Trusted Saddam?

The full 521 pages of the report by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence is here.
A summary of conclusions is here.

Some of the conclusions are highly questionable:

The statement in the key judgements of the NIE that "Baghdad has chemical and biological weapons" overstated both what was known and what intelligence analysts judged about Iraq's chemical and biological weapons holdings. The intelligence reporting did support the conclusion that chemical biological weapons were within Iraq's technological capability, that Iraq was trying to procure dual-use materials that coudl have been used to produce these weapons, and that uncertainties existed about whether Iraq had fully destroyed its pre-Gulf War stocks of weapons and precursors. Iraq's efforts to deceive and evade United Nations weapons inspectors and its inablility or unwillingness to fully account for pre-Gulf War chemical precursors could have led analysts to the reasonable conclusion that Iraq may have retained those materials, but intelligence analysts did not have enough information to state with certainty that Iraq "has" these weapons.

This ignores the fact that the burden of proof of disarmament rested with Saddam. Do we want the CIA to labor to justify a rogue state's defiance of sanctions? Apparently the Senate's answer is "yes".

Intelligence analysts' presumption that all dual-use activity was intended for WMD programs recurs throughout the 2002 NIE. Analysts believed that the fact that Iraq often attempted to obtain dual-use materials surreptitiously, through front companies and other illicit means in violation of UN sanctions, indicated that Iraq intended to use those materials for WMD. Analysts argued that Iraq would have no reason to hide itself as the end user of these materials if they were intended for legitimate purposes. However, analysts ignored the fact that Iraq typically used front companies and evaded UN sanctions for imports of purely legitimate goods. Analysts who monitored Iraq's compliance with the Oil for Food Program noted several reasons that Iraq wanted to avoid legitimate channels for imports including 1) the UN often denied materials needed for legitimate purposes because the materials had WMD applications, 2) using the UN's bureaucratic process was more cumbersome and time consuming than using illicit channels, and #) transactions using front companies were less transparent, making corruption and profit taking easier for Iraqi managers and officials.

So the CIA should have imagined Saddam's smuggling was apolitical racketeering.
The report ignores the fact that in 1995, Iraq admitted to attempts to renew biowar programs, after high-level defectors revealed the existence of the program.
Knowing that Saddam's regime had abused the post-war sanction regime once before, should the CIA have struggled to promote uncertainty about Iraqi intentions?

Likewise, analysts were predisposed to identify as suspect any activity by scientists and officials involved in Iraq's pre-1991 WMD programs. While the IC should not have ignored the activity of these people, IC analysts failed to fully consider the possibility that IRaq, having spent significant national resources developing their capabilities, might have been seeking non=WMD purposes to fully employ the idle expertise left over from closed WMD programs.

This ignores the fact that these scientists were arrested and charged with betraying the regime for discussing their work with UN inspectors.

The report is cumbersome, but nowhere do I find any discussion of the role the Committee itself played in shaping intelligence on Iraq. In 1998 the members of the Committee, with a majority of Congress, declared Saddam was attempting to produce WMD and maintain prewar stockpiles of WMD. The Committee now suggests that the CIA should not have developed that conclusion as fact; but once the CIA's overseers published that conclusion, there was no way the agency would have been permitted to develop a contradictory point of view.

Thursday, July 08, 2004

What Is With NYT Columnists This Week?

First Krugman.

Now Maureen Dowd "whiffs" it:

President Bush should have easily knocked a question about Mr. Edwards — nicknamed the Breck Girl by Bush officials — out of the park. But he whiffed. Steve Holland of Reuters noted that Senator Edwards was being described "as charming, engaging, a nimble campaigner, a populist and even sexy. How does he stack up against Dick Cheney?"

W. should have given a sly smile and drawled, "You mean you don't find Vice sexy?" Instead, he looked irritated and spit out his answer: "Dick Cheney can be president." Indeed, he already is.


Meanwhile back on Earth, all America was agog at Bush's zinger, which will go down for the ages alongside "There you go again" and "You're no Jack Kennedy". As Bush pointed his finger at another reporter for the next question, you could hear the bubble of Edwards-media-hype burst against it.

Pick any Oval Office duo in history, actual, nominated, or proposed-- would a leer from the Prez about his sexy Veep seem anything but creepy?

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

OOF

Today in North Carolina:

REPORTER: If I could try another Edwards question -- he's being described today as charming, engaging, a nimble campaigner, a populist, and even sexy. How does he stack up against Dick Cheney?

BUSH: Dick Cheney can be president. Next question.

At a later rally John Kerry responded--not John Edwards--by saying that Dick Cheney was ready to become President from Day One, and has done so, and that's why people should support Kerry.
So Bush's hard punch was met with a flailing joke from the wrong John.

Remember when Gen. Wesley Clark destroyed his campaign within the first two days?

Paul Krugman: What Boom?

Paul Krugman tries some fancy dodges but still lets out that the economy is doing well.

If you want a single number that tells the story, it's the percentage of adults who have jobs. When Mr. Bush took office, that number stood at 64.4. By last August it had fallen to 62.2 percent. In June, the number was 62.3.

Nobody measures unemployment that way. Never have. The measure of unemployment is the percentage of adults looking for work, who can't find it. Stay-at-home parents aren't counted. Retirees cruising the Gulf Coast in RVs aren't counted. Krugman's measure includes both sets.
BUT, even accepting his flawed benchmark, during the recession the figure was only 2.2% worse than during the boom.

After two and a half years of slow growth, real G.D.P. surged in the third quarter of 2003, growing at an annual rate of more than 8 percent. But that surge appears to have been another blip. In the first quarter of 2004, growth was down to 3.9 percent, only slightly above the Clinton-era average.

Of course, the awesome surge doesn't hold. The Fed wouldn't allow it to hold, for one thing. But it does signify a corner has been turned, and Paul Krugman Ph.D. is well aware of its historical context.

Clinton lied: the worst recession since the Great Depression wasn't Bush the Elder's 1991 slump, it happened in 1982 when the economy shrank by 2%. In 1983 we had 1 quarter of 8% growth, that dropped by half over the year. But it marked an end to recession and the start of a seven-year boom.

Clearly history is repeating itself. Notice that Bush's failed policies have dragged us down to the point that we're beating Clinton's average quarterly performance.

Sunday, July 04, 2004

Pathetic

Captain Ed does a fine job skewering Catholics for Choice for asking the Virgin Mary's intervention in support of their cause.

Senator Kerry: Ignorant and Incompetent.

From Senator Kerry's Washington Post op-ed:

Like most Americans, I want to believe that this past week's events -- the transfer of sovereignty and the appearance of Saddam Hussein before an Iraqi court -- will place us on the road to success. But there is still no sign of a strategy that will get us there.

The achievement of a goal, declared a year before, ahead of schedule, is not a sign of a strategy?

...We still have an opportunity to prevent Iraq from becoming a failed state and a haven for global terrorists and Islamic extremists. We can still succeed in promoting stability, democracy, protection of minority and women's rights, and peace in the region, even at this late hour, if we construct and follow a realistic path.

The only deadlines in play are those set by the Bush Administration, which has achieved its previous goals on schedule or within days of schedule.

...But if we are to reduce the overwhelming military and financial burden America is bearing and maximize the chances of success, we will need help from others. Getting that help will require not only convincing our friends and allies that we share an interest in preventing failure but also giving them a meaningful voice and role in Iraqi affairs. That is the only way to forge real cooperation, and it is long past time for this to be done.

...We have to move our allies beyond the resentment they feel about the Bush administration's failed diplomacy so they can focus on their interest in fighting terrorism and promoting peace. The best way to do that is to vest friends and allies in Iraq's future.

On the economic front, that means giving them fair access to the multibillion-dollar reconstruction contracts. It also means letting them be a part of putting Iraq's profitable oil industry back together. In return, they must forgive Hussein's multibillion-dollar debts to their countries and pay their fair share of the reconstruction bill.


Incredible on three counts. Senator Kerry ignores the reality that on June 28th, Iraq took over control of contracting the reconstruction. Apart from that, he proposes we return to the days of Bismarck, when diplomats purchased alliances with overseas concessions. And finally, UN Security Council Resolution 687 affirmed debts incurred by Hussein were legitimate. You don't become a European Finance Minister by sending good money after bad in the hope of a sound return. President Bush hasn't had much luck here and neither would a President Kerry, not for all the "meaningful roles" in Iraq.

We should also give them a leadership role in pursuing our wider strategic goals in the region.

Doesn't this confirm everything President Bush and Vice-President Cheney have been saying about Senator Kerry? Senator Clinton defined herself in one sentence last week, and here's Senator Kerry in a nutshell.

As partners, we should convene a regional conference with Iraq's neighbors. Such a conference would have two goals. First, it should secure a pledge from Iraq's neighbors to respect Iraq's borders and not to interfere in its internal affairs. And second, it should commit Iraq's leaders to provide clear protection for minorities, thus removing a major justification for possible outside intervention. Together, we should jump-start large-scale involvement with an international high commissioner to coordinate economic assistance and organize and implement these diplomatic initiatives.

When Hitler, Mussolini, Daladier and Chamberlain met in Munich in 1938, it was to secure an agreement from Nazi Germany to respect Czech sovereignity in return for concessions to ethnic German citizens of Czechoslovakia. The result was not the removal of a justification for intervention, but an agreement that Czech sovereignity was conditional, not absolute. This gave Hitler the pretext for the conquest of Czechoslovakia, correctly confident that the UK and France would escape by blaming the irresponsible Czechs for not satisfying Hitler.

Senator Kerry proposes the United States undertake the same role as Chamberlain in a conference with Iran. Iran will guarantee not to invade Iraq, and Iraq will promise Iran to treat Shiites well. This is how Senator Kerry proposes we renew relations with Iran, with a craven show of appeasement at the expense of all our efforts to erect an independent, democratic Iraq.

Senator Kerry praised the enduring legacy of President Truman. Truman didn't call for our allies to make concessions to Stalin in return for peace. Truman told the Communists to respect the borders, or else. And then he made the deal permanent with a formal treaty of alliance with countries threatened by Communism.

That's the proper role of a President, not a slimy, hand-wringing peddler of foriegn oil contracts urging pre-emptive surrender treaties. What a way to ruin my Fourth.