Friday, July 30, 2004

Delivering Trust

I saw the headline on the print USA Today this morning: Kerry to Restore Trust in White House, or something similar. It made me wonder how he would intend to do that, when he is not widely trusted to hold to any one vision for any length of time. And what does he mean by trust? One might say trust the in the veracity of what the president says. If Bush is the current model of being untrughful in office, despite the fact that three reports have said that Bush was justified in his reading of the intelligence, then the only way for kerry to stay more "truthful" is to never reach any conclusion or to take a stand one way or the other.

To make the cynical position, he might continue his past record of saying both positions, wait for a resolution, neglect to mention the position that proved wrong, and then claim to have been speaking true all along.

A cinematic image comes to mind when I think about this: in Pirates of the Caribbean, the Governor, played by Jonathon Pryce, hid in a stateroom throughout the climactic fight scene. Once the good guys won, he stepped out and awkwardly joined into the "hurrahs".

Not to impugn Kerry's physical courage. I would rather be in a swift boat with Kerry than in a fighter squadron with Bush. What I am impugning is Kerry's political courage. I would challenge someone to show me a vote or a statement made by Kerry throughout his Senate career that would have endangered his office by bucking the popular opinion in his home state of Massachusettes.

With respect to President Bush, you might find his inclinations repugnant, but at least he has political courage enough so that you can trust that he will do what he says. Maybe that is why he has engendered so much ill will. While his physical courage was not tested under fire, Bush's political courage certainly has. The more that he refuses to even acknowledge that the opposition might have a point, the more vitriol he draws upon himself.

Thursday, July 29, 2004

I'll Admit It

I broke my promise to myself and watched part of the Democratic Convention last night. I won't make any points about John Edwards's rhetorical style or policy points. What did make an impression on me was Edwards first praising his mother to the high heavens, crediting her with working hard so that her family could have health care and that he could go to college. He then segued directly into the Kerry/Edwards vision of an America in which everybody would have exactly the same opportunities that he had.

There are only two ways that I can really see those ideas stemming from:
a) John Edwards believes that his mother could be replaced by a massive government program
b) Mrs. Edwards is going to be one incredibly busy lady should Kerry win the election.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

OK, We'll Call it a Draw

Evidently I was not the only judge on the panel for the O'Reilly/Moore debate. Michelle at A Small Victory has rendered her verdict in Ask an Honest Question, Get an Honest Answer. Her judgement: O'Reilly blew it with his non-answer to Moore's "Would you sacrifice your child to secure Fallujah?" question.

M: So you would sacrifice your child to secure Fallujah? I want to hear you say that.

O: I would sacrifice myself—

M: Your child—Its Bush sending the children there.

O: I would sacrifice myself.

M: You and I don’t go to war, because we’re too old—

O: Because if we back down, there will be more deaths and you know it.

M: Say ‘I Bill O’Reilly would sacrifice my child to secure Fallujah’

O: I’m not going to say what you say, you’re a, that’s ridiculous.

Michelle would have preferred a much stronger response that goes straight to the fallacy that underlies Moore's question.

It would not be my choice to sacrifice my child, you idiot. No parent makes that choice for their child. You can enlist in the army when you are 18 years old, an adult. An adult who makes his or her own choices. When you ask if I would sacrifice my child, you make it sound as if parents all across the U.S. are rounding up their young children and boarding them on planes bound for Iraq against their will. Maybe even dropping down them down a live volcano to plead with the Gods to bring peace to Iraq.

One of her commenters does make a good point that Moore's question is intellectually similar to "have you stopped beating your wife". In this light, I would have liked to have read O'Reilly saying, "I could no more send my adult child into combat than you could prevent your child from voluntarily enlisting, Mr. Moore."

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Handy Storage Space

Reason: 10 Truths About Trade: Hard facts about offshoring, imports, and jobs

In particular, point 10 delineates why I always tune out whenever a candidate for president starts talking about what he would do to create jobs or when the president is credited/blamed for the latest change in employment numbers. There is a cycle to employment, with good years and bad years, and the best any president can do is make the low times slighter deeper or shallower.

What Do You Believe?

Matt Drudge provides a transcript of a debate between two people that represent what I don't like about their respective sides: Michael Moore and Bill O'Reilly. I find both of them to be demagogic panderers to their respective bases, but they mostly stick to their topics here.

Seeing as how I dislike both equally, I feel that I could judge the exchanged in a balanced way. If I were the judge of a debate and had this exchange before me, then I would give the victory to O'Reilly. My decision comes from this exchange in which Moore admits to a major logical fallacy:

O: Ok, he says in his [Bob Woodward] book George Tenet looked the president in the eye, like how I am looking you in the eye right now and said “President, weapons of mass destruction are a quote, end quote, “slam dunk” if you’re the president, you ignore all that?

M: Yeah, I would say that the CIA had done a pretty poor job.

O: I agree. The lieutenant was fired.

M: Yeah, but not before they took us to war based on his intelligence. This is a man who ran the CIA, a CIA that was so poorly organized and run that it wouldn’t communicate with the FBI before September 11th and as a result in part we didn’t have a very good intelligence system set up before September 11th

O: Nobody disputes that

M: Ok, so he screws up September 11th. Why would you then listen to him, he says this is a “slam dunk” and your going to go to war.

O: You’ve got MI-6 and Russian intelligence because they’re all saying the same thing that’s why. You’re not going to apologize to Bush, you are going to continue to call him a liar.

M: Oh, he lied to the nation, Bill, I can’t think of a worse thing to do for a president to lie to a country to take them to war, I mean, I don’t know a worse –

O: It wasn’t a lie

M: He did not tell the truth, what do you call that?

O: I call that bad information, acting on bad information – not a lie

Moore, in this exchange, consistently hews to the position that because President Bush told us things that were not true, he therefore lied. However, from we get the following definition of lie:

lie n.
1. A false statement deliberately presented as being true; a falsehood.
2. Something meant to deceive or give a wrong impression.

While the president's statements have been proven incorrect thus far by conditions on the ground, there has been no proof brought forward that he acted with the intent necessary for his statements to be lies. This does not mean that if President Bush stood up and said something to the effect of "the buck stops here", much like UK Prime Minister Tony Blair has, he would not gain a great deal of respect from me. Three reports: the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Lord Butler in the UK, and the 9/11 commission; all say that President Bush and PM Blair were justified in their conclusions as to the presence of WMD in Iraq.

Essentially: the President was right to believe that Iraq had WMD although it thus far appears that the belief was not right.

Link via Andrew Sullivan

Excellent Contrast, As if There is Any

Virgina Postrel has provided her comments on Bill Clinton's speach last night at the Democratic National Convention. I refuse to watch either convention because infomercials bore me to tears.

Virginia quotes the following extract from Clinton's speach:

We think the role of government is to give people the tools and conditions to make the most of their lives. Republicans believe in an America run by the right people, their people, in a world in which we act unilaterally when we can, and cooperate when we have to.

This nicely sums up my problem with both parties. So far as I am concerned, whatever job you are trying to accomplish, the federal government is the wrong tool. It is invariable that for any given program, there will be those who are not served well by it. As the federal government takes more control over aspects of the economy and social welfare, the greater number of programs will ensure that almost everyone will be ill served by at least one the said programs.

Monday, July 26, 2004

I Thought We Were Doing This Already

It took me a couple of days for the lightbulb for the lightbulb to go "bing!", but a conversation with my friend Drew brought this Scrappleface article reading (jokingly) about the 9/11 commission calling for the hiring of evil imaginative people in order to predict what terrorsists might do in the future.

If I recall correctly, either the CIA or the FBI enlisted a number of Hollywood screenwrtiters shortly after 9/11 to envision scenarios that might highlight security weaknesses. There was also the story of Tom Clancy being brought in by the CIA for debriefing shortly after "The Hunt for Red October" was published. I do remember for certain that the idea of a passenger jet being deliberately piloted into the Capital building (in the scenario it was during the State of the Union address) in Clancy's "Debt of Honor".

Some anecdotes I have heard have it that the CIA, back during the bad old days of the Cold War, did hire writers as consultants and analysts to look over a given situation and offer their conceptions as to the likely next steps to occur. The ability to encapsulate a broad range of variables involved in creating well structured, plausible story, is much the same as a  professional intelligence analyst, yet the writer would be able to approach the scenario without the institutional bias that would infect any full-time analyst.

One other point that can probably go without saying: weblogs must get picked over constantly by analysts and folks looking for fresh viewpoints of publicly available information. Additionally the weblogs coming out of Iraq, Iran, and other nations are street level views that the CIA has been criticized for lacking. I've referenced in the past that the true detail of a situation is best realized by a large number of independent viewpoints than attempting to make a single God-like overview.

Sunday, July 25, 2004

A Good Start

Daniel Okrent, the public editor of the New York times, penned one of his twice-monthly articles. This one is entitled Is The New York Times a Liberal Newspaper?

His answer: Of course it is.

The New York Times requires registration, so I'll lift a couple of grafs here in case you don't care to register or head over to

I'll get to the politics-and-policy issues this fall (I want to watch the campaign coverage before I conclude anything), but for now my concern is the flammable stuff that ignites the right. These are the social issues: gay rights, gun control, abortion and environmental regulation, among others. And if you think The Times plays it down the middle on any of them, you've been reading the paper with your eyes closed.

But if you're examining the paper's coverage of these subjects from a perspective that is neither urban nor Northeastern nor culturally seen-it-all; if you are among the groups The Times treats as strange objects to be examined on a laboratory slide (devout Catholics, gun owners, Orthodox Jews, Texans); if your value system wouldn't wear well on a composite New York Times journalist, then a walk through this paper can make you feel you're traveling in a strange and forbidding world.

Mr. Okrent later goes on to ask:

Newspapers have the right to decide what's important and what's not. But their editors must also expect that some readers will think: "This does not represent me or my interests. In fact, it represents my enemy." So is it any wonder that the offended or befuddled reader might consider everything else in the paper - including, say, campaign coverage - suspicious as well?

I don't see how anyone could believe that it won't, although I think that the use of the word "enemy" in the mouth of the hypothetical opposition was far too strong. I am willing to allow that the New York Times is a hopelessly provincial in its outlook, falling into the stereotype that New York is the only place in the country that matters. That is fine with me, I can then take it as a good reason to ignore the Times as not really being relevant to me here in California.

Going back to the point about doubting the campaign coverage, an us and them attitude in such a homogeneous group is unavoidable. The reason that that is going to result in bias coming through the pages is that reporting can be really hard work. A person has to bring a great deal of enthusiasm to dig down into the information available, pursue information that isn't, and to cajole contacts to answer questions. What has to be understood in today's media, especially a place as influential as the NY Times, is that what is published can be very powerful. Powerful to the point where the careers of the subjects can be made or ruined or elections swung.

What I have come to realize about the New York Times (and this goes double for the LA Times) is that its reporters can not be trusted to bring as much enthusiasm to pursuing negative information about liberals/Democrats as they can about conservatives/Republicans. In a way it is understandable, no one wants to tear down the "good guys" while the "bad guys" should get what they deserve.

This leaves two options for the reporters of all stripes: maitain the discipline to pursue stories even if they go in directions that one might find dismaying, or acknowledge that one has a bias and will pursue stories that fit with one's worldview. I have lost faith in most media to do the first, and Mr. Okrent's article here is a good start toward coming clean via the second.

We Are in A War, Aren't We

The dear friend has made the point that if we had embedded reporters in the invasion of Normandy and if the footage could be broadcast that night across America, then the outcry to get our boys home would have been irresistable. Just imagine the opening scene of Saving Private Ryan as a live news feed or at minimum the lead of the evening news. An extra kicker is that the vast majority of the soldiers were draftees.

There is no comparison between the casualty rates of WWII, Viet Nam, and Iraq. The biggest change between these conflicts is that the cost of war was brought more and more immediately to the awareness of the American public. With that immediacy, the conviction necessary to carry on in war has been spread from the military and government onto the general populace. Given that power, a great deal of responsiblity falls upon the media. While I do not advocate general government cesnorship, the media must recognize the direct influence it has on the strategic considerations of morale of the military, public, and enemy. No amount of military power can achieve victory without the will to use it. The only hope that our foes have is that we as the people will come to believe that the fight is not worth the cost. Lord help us if we go the way of Spain and the Phillipines.

Saturday, July 24, 2004

Meddling for Our Good

Take a look at this report regarding Medicare covering certain obesity treatments. I will allow that obesity does cause a great deal of health problems,  however the real issue for me is that this is going to give the Nanny State an excuse to regulate the diet of average Americans. Much like the cost of treating brain injuries lead to the call for mandatory helmet laws, we can expect to see legislation fairly soon.

I'd give it two months after the next Democratic administration takes office.

A Blogger by Any Other Name

For those of you who follow this blog on a regular basis, thank you. This post is just to let you know that I am only changing the handle that these posts are signed with. It is still Ted that is writing, but I have changed to Gamer to keep consistent with the signature I use on other folks's sites. And no worries about ID or privacy or anything, Ted is my nickname, and you would have to know me personally to work back to anything legal.

Putting Blogger to the Test

Just a quick post to try out this new comment system that Blogger has installed. Old posts won't be enabled retroactively, but feel free to open fire from here on out.

The comments don't seem to be working. It would be nice if there was a little window where one could actually type a comment, but this, being Blogger, means that I am getting what I paid for (nada).

Update: You may have noticed a major change in the format. In the process of trying to get the comments to work, I seriously fouled up my template. I recovered the code for blogrolling and sitemeter, but everything else needed to be scrapped. Fortunately, new templates were made available with the upgrade, and I find this layout much more agreeable.

Friday, July 23, 2004

Whatever Happened to...

The anthrax investigations? It was the big follow-up in the media to the attacks of 9/11 until it got bumped by the Enron scandal. I recall a fellow by the name of Steven Hatfill being described by Attorney General Ashcroft as a "person of interest". That had to be one of the most bizarre euphemisms ever created. I suppose "suspect" is just too close to an accusation, even though you can watch a two hour chase that started with a car jacking, and as soon as the guy is in the police car, he is only a "suspect".

Handy Storage Space

Between this site keeping links and the Google "Search this Site" tool, I am finding myself quite pleased with the ability to store data access.

Vivisimo Clustering Engine - 911 Demo

First Impression on the 9/11 Report

I have only done a small amount of reading of the 9-11 commission report via a Visisimo searchable. This site allows one to search for key words or to browse through a number of nested clusters. The link above will take you to paragraphs that include both Richard Clarke and strikes against Al-Qaeda camps. My first reaction is that all of the conversations and memos and whatnot are enough to fill the days of many people, and that any sound bite characterization is more than likely to be misleading. If I get the time and inclination, I'll risk the backache to sit here and read the whole thing.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Ah Ha! There's those Two Cents!

I have just finished reading Michele Catalano's morning ramble. No worries, Michele, everyting tied together quite well, despite the time crunch.

I keep getting an image in my head when I get to pondering the political goings-on.

Fade in: Interior, Roman Classical chamber, very late Roman Empire. Many men in togas sitting around debating noisily. One man (Emperor) in purple robes rises from a throne. Crowd stills.

Emperor: The information that the Vandals have crossed the Alps is insufficient to prove the fact. In addition, the raising of additional legions would only serve to increase the influence of General Flavius. Therefore, no further legions shall be raised.

Point made, I hope. That was cent #1.

Cent #2 is right close to #1. This habit much of the blogosphere and Big Media have of immediately casting any event in terms of Whom Does This Help or Hurt is narrowing our vision down so much that true threats are sneaking past. Allegations of timing for effect immediately take matters past Does this Help or Hurt the Country and straight to Does this Help/Hurt Rep/Dem?

Lord knows, I'm just as guilty. The first time I ever read the name Osama bin Ladin was when Clinton hit the Afghan training camps and the Sudanese aspirin factory with cruise missiles. Recall this was about the same time as Monica's testimony before Ken Starr. My first thought was, "Out of what second-rate James Bond script did they pull this guy out of?" The only thing a person needed to say to make a sly comment about it was "Wag the Dog". After 9/11, I recall my attitude back then and feel a stab of shame. What if I and everyone else had looked past the convenient political timing and saw OBL and al Qaida for what it really was. I won't say that 9/11 wouldn't have happened, but maybe things might have been different.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

The Ingratitude of Nature

Sometimes you do your best for a group, and in return you get a stick in the eye, and just about everywhere else.

Link via Andrew Sullivan.

Forget the Warheads, Tell Me About the Missiles

I am having a fair bit of difficulty in accepting this story via A Small Victory regarding Iraqi Security forces having found three nuclear tipped missiles in a bunker under 6 meters of concrete.

Both US and Iraqi officials are denying the claim, and for the time being I am going to err to the pessimistic that the report is accurate. While everyone is dicussing the idea of the nuclear warheads, I would most certainly like more information about the missiles. Assuming that they do exist, what are their range and precision capabilities. If there are like the ones that Saddam's regime made a big show of destroying during the inspection (Sadr II's?), then we will have clear evidence that the Hussein regime went to great lengths to conceal a weapon system prohibited by the cease fire agreement.

Isn't It Interesting Anymore?

Checking around the newsites, I have only been able to find the Berger story on Fox and ABC, both well down on the page, the web equivalent of below the fold. To their credit, the New York Times does have a link on their homepage, but I think it might have more to do with their running the original story on page A16 of the print version yesterday.

Needless to say, all references to webpages were accurate at the time of this posting.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Oh, My Spinning Head

Joshua Marshal has posted his take on the situation regarding Sandy Berger. He does not directly address the allegation that Berger removed notes and documents from a secure archive. He instead questions the timing, insisting that it was contrived to divert attention away from the report of the 9/11 commission.

So it would seem that if one should discover alleged wrong doing in the form of manipulating evidence to be seen by a commission, then one should wait until the report tainted by the manipulated evidence is released? Now that the whiplash effect has subsided, I can kind of see the reasoning. The 9/11 commission has been such a political farce that the credibility of whatever report it comes up with will be close to nill anyway. What's a few missing documents between slavering packs of jackals friends anyway?
Link via Andrew Sullivan

See the Bias in Action

When a story like this comes out: - Federal probe targets Clinton's national security adviser - Jul 20, 2004

a person will immediately make a judgement that includes the credibility of the source. Credibility, especially when it is someone you really only know the name of, typically relies on the broadest of strokes, say Political Party.

Many in the blogosphere are already making noises that if it were a Republican who got caught doing this, then it would be getting the picture-on-the-homepage-of-CNN, as opposed to the freed Fillipino hostage. Given what I have seen of the major media track record, I would agree.

I am willing to bet that by next week we will not see any mention of this on any of the major news outlets (Fox excluded). Kind of like that joke Hillary Clinton made of Gandhi being the manager of a gas station in St. Louis.
Update: I have seen some rather unsettling questions about the precise mode in which Mr. Berger used his pants to remove the notes. Until I get definitive proof otherwise, I will stick with the idea that he used his pockets rather than the under the waste band and around the legs method a la Fawn Hall.

Monday, July 19, 2004

Sometimes You Can't Win For Winning

You'd think that finding a 182-carat diamond would qualify as good news. Apparently, finding one in Guinea tends to touch of a feeding frenzy of people looking for a cut. I would not be surprised if some of these "requests" were of the "or else" variety. The lesson: if you find a diamond the size of a potato, you can bet it all that it would be hot.

Friday, July 16, 2004

Now That's the Way to Make a Point

Some folks in Virginia are making use of their state's open carry laws as a way of reminding people about gun rights. Gotta see if California is one of the enlightened 21.

Yeah, right.

Paying Homage to the Master

I am just beginning my journey into serious writing, and if you would belittle my dream because I consider science fiction/fantasy serious writing, then begone.

Anyway, in the field of non-fiction in a coumn-ish format, I just can't do it better than Lileks. He sums up why this enemy is different from everyone other one we've had in fewer words than it takes me to intro them:

Our present enemy will nuke us as soon as they can, because it means heaven, period.

Did I mention that I'm building a shrine next to my computer? OK, so he'll be sharing it with Isaac Asimov (boycott I, Robot!) and Tom Clancy, but the thought is there.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

A Good Response

Peggy Noonan wroate a response to the letter making the rounds of the blogosphere, including a stop on this humble board, about the idea that the electorate might choose Kerry over Bush out of a desire for a break from the war.

Ms. Noonan has been a supporter of the war effort for as far as I can recall (I really have to expand my reading). Her recognition of the long-term benefits of the Iraq invasion have always been focused on the benefits to the United States:

I do not feel America is right to attempt to help spread democracy in the world because it is our way and therefore the right way. Nor do I think America should attempt to encourage it because we are Western and feel everyone should be Western. Not everyone should be Western, and not everything we do as a culture, a people or an international force is right.

Rather, we have a national-security obligation to foster democracy in the world because democracy tends to be the most peaceful form of government. Democracies tend to be slower than dictatorships to take up arms, to cross borders and attempt to subdue neighbors, to fight wars. They are on balance less likely to wreak violence upon the world because democracies are composed of voters many of whom are parents, especially mothers, who do not wish to see their sons go to war. Democracy is not only idealistic, it is practical.

I always try to give recognition to people who can express my view better than I can, so thank you Ms. Noonan.

She continues on into the article with an analysis of what I'll call "War Fatigue", or perhaps an extrapolation from the old Chinese curse, "May you live in interesting times,":

What I wrote about a few weeks ago was my fear that the American people have grown or are growing tired of the heightened drama of the times. Americans like drama in their lives--they like graduations and first jobs and prizes and the birth of a baby in the family; they like triathalons and great stories and local mysteries. They like movement and action on a personal level. But they do not want it on a historical level if they can avoid it. They don't want to send their sons, or daughters, off to war. They don't like that kind of excitement, or they don't like it for long. This is part of why we used to be called Isolationists. We weren't and aren't--we just have a bias for peace. Can that bias be overcome? Of course. Pearl Harbor overcame it. The Soviet desire to expand and impose communism overcame it. Sept. 11 did too.
Which gets us to Mr. Bush, and Mr. Kerry, and which of the two is likelier to make things historically boring again.

Ms. Noonan sees the problem for Bush as failing to use soft speach in addition to the big stick, almost to the point of taking an unseemly joy out of the war.

While she does have a point, I would say that another matter that needs to be attended to is that the people need to accomodate to the reality that the US government does not control everything that happens in the world. The expectation that the President can by fiat return the world to its original boring state has always been an illusion. The only reason that it lasted so long is that no one has called us on it. The illusion was so strong that it slumbered on through two terrorist bombings on our soil, one foreign contrived (WTC 1993), and the other home-grown (Oklahoma City, 1995).

Essentially, the issue in the upcoming election is who can do the most to create real peace for us and future generations. For the condidates, the problem is going to be that they may have to lead, to convince, a war weary populace to have the patience to carry through the tasks necesarry to acheive real peace rather than the ephemera of the previous twenty-five years.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Even Speaking as a Lifelong (Until Recently) Laker Fan...

The Heat got screwed.

Three players and a first round draft pick for this crybaby? Please!

A Perfectly Reasonable Position

This article by Mark Steyn deftly explains much of France's actions over the past three years in a single package: France is out for France.

So in 2003 they weren’t appeasing Saddam. On the matter of Islamic terrorists killing American office workers and American forces killing Iraqi psychopaths, they are equally insouciant. Let’s say the Islamists had long-range WMDs. If they nuked Montpelier (Vermont), M. Chirac would insist that Bush needed to get a strong Security Council resolution before responding. If they nuked Montpellier (France), Iraq would be a crater by lunchtime.

I realize that the world is and will be run by self-interest, no matter how enlightened one presumes to be. My hope for the world is that enlightened self-interest reigns, where the elightened part being that helping others live better is the best course in the long-term. When it comes to the United States vs. France, I'd say that the US does a better job approaching enlightenment than France does feigning it.

Link via Vodkapundit.

Handy Storage Space

I don't really have anything to say about this post:

Everyone got it wrong before 9/11
By Jeff Jacoby, 4/11/2004

Only that this blog thing really makes it easy to have your references available, even off-line.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

The Guy Can't Catch a Break

I have been asked, "If you knew what you know now, would you have supported the war?" While I would have to give a grudging "no" at this point, I still find it to be a fundamentally unfair question.

The first point is that we all wish we could go back to some point in the past with the wisdom we have gathered through hard experience and avoid the actual hard experiences. President Bush was given a pretty bad set of intelligence, bad not in "not leading to the desired conclusion" sense but in the "this doesn't lead to any conclusion" sense. He had CIA reports ranging from "He has nothing" to "He'll attack any minute". Ultimately, the intelligence made the strongest case for "He is in violation of the '91 cease fire agreement." That intelligence came not only from the CIA, but from England, France, the UN, and dozens of other agencies. Hell, we even had Russia telling us that Saddam was planning attacks against the US.

After the war, no hard evidence has been found that Hussein was in violation of the cease fire (aside from the shooting at our planes, of course). I am still skeptical given that there are still large numbers of ammunition sites still to be searched, and even more clandestine storage facilities that we don't know about. The indications are growing stronger, however, that the information the president had, and thus the decision he made based upon it, was wrong. I believe that it would be far better for the President politically to step up and say, "I made the decision, and the buck stops here." He would get roasted by the Democrats and their allies, but it would be the equivalent of pulling the band-aid of quickly. It might even improve his numbers, look at what Janet Reno's mea culpa after Waco did for her.

So the President drank the Kool-Aid in the "The got the WMD box" as opposed to the other one. And he went on to sell that interepretation hard. If one has made the decision to send American soldiers off to war, then one had at least look like on is confident in the decision. The question still remains: Why take the more dangerous of the two positions? Letting things slide along with Iraq would have been easy.

I believe one reason why the President took the grimmer reading of the intelligence is that his political ass was being raked over the coals for not having been aggressive enough with the intelligence regarding the nineteen hijackers and their activities leading up to 9/11. There would be a cost for doing something and a cost for doing nothing, and the exact costs of either were far from clear. Up until 9/11, the assumed cost to the US for doing nothing was considered negligible. After 9/11, we have learned that that is not, and probably was not, true.

In the heat and noise of the 9/11 commission all of the warning signs of the attack were easier to pick out than a black sheep from a flock, yet no thought was given to any of the assessments, and I'm sure you could find a pile in some archive, that said that no terrorist groups were known to have the capabilities to attack within the United States. I would hesitate to say that the information we had beforehand about the 9/11 attacks were all that much better, or credible, than what we had on Iraq. And it is situations like this that make terms in office as President look like ads for Grecian Formula in reverse.

Iraq did or did not pose a threat to the United States. With what information he had, George Tenet went to the President and said, "Its a slamdunk." (from Bob Woodward's book on the subject) The President acted in what he saw as the best interests of the country. He may well have gotten it wrong. All I have left to say is "Thank God I don't have that job."

A Spoonful of Sugar

Scott Ott at ScrappleFace delivered a major scoop with LEAK: Planned Bush Speech to NAACP Revealed. Yeah, I know that for whatever amount of political courage/bull-headedness Bush has, he would never actually come out and say this type of thing.


Monday, July 12, 2004

Battle Fatigue

Austin Bay, writing from Iraq, sent an e-mail to Instapundit in response to a number of writers who say that voting for Kerry would be like a necessary "breather" or "time-out" from the war. Read the whole thing, but here is what I see as the key graf:

"Time out" is a mirage of the chattering class. Credit Peggy's and Andrew's antennae for culling out the driving emotional angst behind the chatter. Hate to say it, but the call for "time out" Noonan fears may be another case of Baby Boomers who can't separate Hollywood war from the real thing. Hollywood wars end in a couple of hours. Real earthly hells have no intermission. In current GI lingo, "the enemy has a vote" (the enemy can exercise his will, and act). Take a break and the enemy votes. On 9/11 our enemy went to the polls. We were either going to work, eating breakfast, or lollygagging in bed.

I have written before that while the United States is the greatest power in the world, it is not the only power. The rest of the world does not exist merely as an echo chamber to reflect our actions back upon us. There are people who wish to influence, curb, and eventually destroy our power, and they have the free will to choose to take action. If we make a choice in this election because we are weary of the battle that we face, then we send the message that we are weary and that the best time to hit us will be while we try to rest.

There are some who say that we are in this war because of classic American Arrogance. I may grant that is so, but it would be far more arrogant to believe that we have the power to say "time out" and expect our enemies to just sit back on their haunches while we catch our breath.

The Utter Failure of the CIA

Glenn Reynolds has a chunk of links at regarding the Niger unranium issue. Between this, Iraqi WMD, the Sudanese aspirin factory, and let's not forget the Chinese Embassy in Sarajevo being mistakenly targetted in that war, the CIA's credibility is currently zero. At this point, I wouldn't trust them for directions to the men's room.

The immediate problem: we as the US have no means left to gather intelligence that can be considered reliable. The CIA is supposed to be the eyes and ears of our foreign policy, and a person that can not trust his eyes is as good as blind.

Saturday, July 10, 2004

Not a Pleasant Combination

1. The digestive system kindly redirects all of it contents to the nearest available exit.
2. Some of the fluids that I have put down included a super-caffeinated beverage that was able to deliver its payload prior to explusion. I won't name the beverage, let's leave it at that most of my friend says that I dew too much of it.
and 3. Reading a collection of short works inspired by Neil Gaiman's Sandman.

The end result: lying awake at 1:by-god-45 in the morning with really pretentious poetry based on the Endless running through my head. Normally I would seek to punish the little mutt that would come up with such doggerel, so I have decided to do so by checking up on the blogs I missed today.

That and to share the wealth of my happy state. Except for the poetry, that is, you may me strangers but you still deserve some consideration.

Thursday, July 08, 2004

The Clock is Running

Any bets on how long it will take before someone makes the accusation that the Ken Lay indictment was timed to make it look as if Bush really does care about corporate fraud going into an election? I haven't been looking at any of the bigger blogs yet, so I may have already missed it.

Stop the Slaughter

It has occurred to me that the tale of the Goose that Laid the Golden Eggs has a serious flaw to it. The foolish couuple, upon killing gthe goose, should have found gold, more gold than the two had seen in their entire lives. With that gold they should have left their hum drum little lives and lived like a lord and lady. The original ending should come around when they realize that their purse has a bottom, unlike the goose.

I came to this idea there has been a group of people in the last deacade or so who have killed their geese and gotten quite wealthy by it. I write of the CEOs and other executives who have run companies into the ground and jump with their golden parachutes just before impact.

If one looks at the various stories, a couple of themes emerge: living the high life on the company diame, and manipulating the stock price with accounting shenanigans. The first is just flat out theft, while the secong is theft by a more subtle method.

The only remedy I can suggest for the first case is to the share-holders: "Wake up!" There has come to be a mystique surrounding CEOs and other members of the MBA caste. What has been forgotten is that these executives are no less servants of a company than a butler would be the servant of a house. So keep an eye on them. (Not that I think that employees are by definition untrustworthy, but I have worked for companies where the execs. acted as if they were.)

The second case is where the execs. make everything look fine and dandy untile the house fall in on everyone. Some would say that this is the result of so many executives reimbursement being dependant on the price of the stock. Once upon a time, CEOs were paid ludicrous millions of dollars a year. It became fashionable among the left wing types to be able to rattle off how many times more the CEO earned than his average line worker. The huge numbers were vulgar, and they made easy targets of political opportunity. Eventually a law was passed that denied the tax exempt status of employee compensation to any one salary of over a million dollars a year.

So, instead of getting paid in cash, the idea was to pay them in stock options. Not only would it bea tax-free way of renumerating the honchos, it would tie their compensation to a clear measure of performance: the stock price.

Now, that worked for a while until some on the MBA caste did the math and realized just how stinkng rich they could become in one shot by inflating the stock price in the short term while damning the company in the long term.

The remedy? Give back the tax-break on salaries. We may see what some would call vulgar salaries, but it would be a much clearer gauge of performance. It would be much easier to say if a CEO is worth $15 million dollars a year than it is to say if he is worth 20 thousand shares at a strike price of thirty dollars a share maturing in nine months. It would also not pressuer said CEO to have the price high in nine months at the expense of the price of the stock two years after he leaves.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Topic for Discussion

(or, Pandering to the Comment Section)

I'll be away from the computer for most of the day today, so I leave you with a thought to leave a comment upon:

Since the advent of television, there has not been an administration as inept at handling the media as Bush #43. Discuss.

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Now Why Didn't I Think of That?

In connection with this post below, I point you too:

ScrappleFace: Edwards Has Plan to 'Drive Up Cost of Doing Terrorism'

And here I was, being short sighted, limitting myself to the mere idea of having the cost of terrorism being death by GPS-guided high-explosive. Thank you, Mr. Ott, for having expanded my views on the subject.

File Under: Unintended Consequences

Everyone looks to the FCC and John Ashcroft when it comes to villains crushing free speech in America. Having jackbooted thugs break into your studio smashing pieces of art hasn't happened yet, but we may be coming close to small providers of media getting fined out of existence.

But what about getting sued out of existence in Civil Court? gives us a great example of speech being self-censored for fear of huge lawsuits. In this case, companies have to become oppressive in order to protect themselves from the liability of maintaining a "sexually hostile" work environment.

Let's Hear it for the Home Team

The Iraqis are pissed, and they aren't going to take it anymore. They recognize the hand of the foreigners that have brought them suffering and humiliation. These guys are angry and they are taking the fight to the enemy: Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

If nothing else, this at least shows that some Iraqis are picking up on the American way of "If no one else is going to get it done, then I will." At least I still think that is an American way.

Disclaimer for those who lack a sense of judgement: I am not advocating vigilantism in the United States. I am just very glad to see that there are people in Iraq who do not immediately blame the US as the sole responsibility holder for all of the bad things that happen in their world.

Monday, July 05, 2004

Someone Please Help This Man.

This must have been shot over a series of really bad days. Entitled Winnebago Man, it is the gripping documentary of a man in desperate need of a fifth of Jim Beam, a vacation, or, best yet, a new job.

Warning: The above movie contains strong language the way way a bag of manure contains crap.

Sunday, July 04, 2004

Happy Fourth of July!

I just spent a very nice evening at my folk's place. The night ended with watching at least ten different pyrotechnical displays from their balcony. Here in California, anything that shoots over ten feet or so is illegal, so at lest 90% of the shows we were observing were non-municipality sanctioned events. The elevation of the balcony gave us a good view of everything shot off in about a five mile arc. We probably had a better view of what was going on that those people who were launching the illegals. All told: at least eight times the entertainment with none of the neck strain or liability.

Here's to hoping that all of you who celebrated the holiday had fun and kept all of your digits.

Thursday, July 01, 2004

Spiderman 2: Your Humble Host's Review

I went to see Spiderman 2 yesterday (kind of sad that that needs to be said, but hey, at least I'm making a game effort at professionalism here) with a friend, and I have a couple of things to say about it. Point 1 is actually something in the back of my mind since the commercials started playing, so no spoiler there. Point 2 is a complete spoiler, so don't say I didn't warn you.

1. Peter Parker is always going on about how he can't clue the people he loves into the fact that he is Spiderman because it would endanger their lives. Yet, even in the commercials we have Dr. Octopus telling Peter to get Spiderman to a certain place at a certain time, because Peter is obviously the one person in all of New York with the most reliable contact with the hero. The penalty for failing to arrange the meeting? The stripping of Mary Jane's flesh from her bones. Therefore, we have Mary Jane Watson in danger from a villain trying to lure Spiderman out into the open. Granted it is a second hand threat, but that wouldn't make the flesh stripping any more pleasant.

2. SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT Stop reading now if you don't want to know how the movie ends.

Spiderman wins.

Moving on past the Well, D'uh! spoiler, the ending just set my scientific teeth on edge. The movie ends when the massive ball of fusion energy is plunged into the river (Hudson or East, I don't know, like it matters) because there is no technical way to stop the fusion once it becomes self-sustaining. Now, this is fusion, not fire, so dunking it in water will not put it out. If there were at least a little bit of techno-babble about the water cooling the fusion below a minimum energy threshold, then I could buy it. Well, that and a shot of millions of gallons of New York river water flashing to steam almost instantly, which the movie omitted. I've never been to New York, but from what I heard, that type of steam would not be what one could call springtime fresh.

Review in brief: The action scenes were great, better than the original in both spectacle and execution. Note to Mr. Raimey (Director): For Pete's Sake, please cut down on the romantic, Will-He-Tell-Her-Won't-He-Tell-Her, angst. We've got Smallville for that.

Alienating Friends and Allies

Sometimes one just has to look at one's behavior in public and come to grips that one's self-serving position is taking a toll. It's all well and good to act in the best interests of your nation, but not if all that is is knocking someone else down a peg or two.

From the Independant of the UK:

Britain has concluded that its three-nation alliance with France and Germany is in effect over after a series of rows between Tony Blair and the French President, Jacques Chirac.

Ministers believe President Chirac has become impossible to work with, and one government source described him as a "rogue elephant".

So, what's the French word for "Cowboy" again?

Link via Instapundit