Friday, September 17, 2004


Don't ye know what day is coming soon? Who knew this would become an annual tradition? Arrrrh!


Which Fantasy/SciFi Character Are You?

The results of one of those silly "Which fantasy/sci-fi character are you?" websites. Except in my case, it probably hits closer to home than I'd care to admit.


Many on the right-leaning side of the blogosphere have been downright triumphalist about the role of blogs in Rathergate, and perhaps rightly so. But it is important to note that this is hardly a partisan issue. Blogs can fact check when either side runs without all of the facts. Latest example:

those mean Democrats! Posted by Hello

Many jumped on this and hoped that Karl Rove make the most of this golden opportunity. Drudge posts the picture with the headline: "GIRL CRIES AFTER BUSH/CHENEY SIGN RIPPED BY THUGS...:

The story Drudge links to tells the sad story:
"They just pounced on us," said Phil Parlock, who took his 11-year-old son, Alex, and 3-year-old daughter, Sophia, to the Democratic rally at Tri-State Airport in Huntington, W.Va."

But there's a problem: this isn't the first time this type of thing has happened to Parlock:
Charleston (WV) Daily Mail, August 27, 1996, Page 3C

Phil Parlock's experience was less calm.

The Huntington man said he was knocked to the ground by a Clinton supporter when he tried to display a sign that read "Remember Vince Foster," the deputy White House counsel who committed suicide in a Washington, D.C., park. His death has become the subject of much debate among Clinton opponents.

"It must have been a strict Democrat who did this," Parlock said, feeling the red abrasions on his face. "Everyone with the exception of him was real peaceful about our protest."


Charleston (WV) Daily Mail, October 28, 2000, pg. 1A:

Phil Parlock didn't expect to need all 12 of the Bush-Cheney signs he and his son Louis smuggled in their socks and pockets into the rally for Vice President Al Gore.

But each time they raised a sign, someone would grab it out of their hands, the two Huntington residents said. And sometimes it got physical.

"I expected some people to take our signs," said Louis, 12. "But I did not expect people to practically attack us."

More than anything else, I'm reminded of Patricia Vanlester, the woman who was allegedly trampled by a horde of DVD-player crazed Wal-Mart customers but who was later discovered to have had no fewer than eight mysterious accidents at Wal-Mart (as well as seven other accident claims elsewhere).

At the very least, Phil Parlock is a man who doesn't learn from experience. More likely he deliberately stages incidents in which he can portray himself as the aggreived victim of Democrat "thuggery." The fact that he involves his 3-year-old daughter in his shenanigans does little to endear him to me (or to most parents I would imagine.

I should note that while Jonah Goldberg on NRO's The Corner did note the political potential of the crying kid photo, he also linked to the new revelations about Parlock.

UPDATE: jtb-in-texas enthusiastically disagrees with my assessment of this whole affair. I feel compelled to remove any doubt that I am trying to argue that Mr. Parlock or anyone else deserves being treated uncivilly, let alone with violence.

Having said that, I also want to reinforce one previously made point: if Mr. Parlock wants to go to opponents’ political rallies and hold up protest signs, that is is his prerogative. But he shouldn’t have brought his 3-year-old daughter along, especially given his past experience.

Another point: how this incident is interpreted speaks volumes about our underlying worldviews. I suspect that for many on the right, the picture of a crying little girl reinforces the notion that the other side is uncivilized, ill-mannered, and perhaps even evil. Add to the mix Al Franken tackling a heckler or this incident and one might think there is evidence of a trend. There are two problems with this line of thinking, however. First is the fallacious generalization from a few isolated incidents to the whole. Is the behavior of Franken and the people who tore Mr. Parlock’s sign representative of all Democrats? All “liberals?” All “leftists?” Probably not. The second problem is that there are incidents of the same behavior at conservative Republican rallies. Examples include this case of pulling the hair of a heckler

hair pull Posted by Hello

or the infamous case of a young man kicking a protestor while she was being hauled out by security at the RNC (video here; more on the story here). Does this mean Republicans and Conservatives are generally uncivilized, ill-mannered, and evil? No. It means that there are uncivilized and ill-mannered people of all ideological persuasions.


If you use a Kryptonite U-lock to secure your bike, watch out: there are a lot of bic pens out there! Thanks to The Dead Parrot Society for the link.

Thursday, September 16, 2004


Disquieting article by Jeff Jacoby (thanks to Vodkapundit for the link)
It is illegal to register to vote simultaneously in different jurisdictions, but scofflaws have little to worry about. As the Daily News noted, "efforts to prevent people from registering and voting in more than one state rely mostly on the honor system." Those who break the law rarely face prosecution or serious punishment. It's easy -- and painless -- to cheat.

I learned this firsthand in 1996, when I registered my wife's cat as a voter in Cook County, Ill., Norfolk County, Mass., and Cuyahoga County, Ohio, and then requested absentee ballots from all three venues. My purpose wasn't to cast illegal multiple votes but to demonstrate how vulnerable to manipulation America's election system has become.
How fouled up are the voter rolls? So fouled up that in some cities there are more registered voters than there are adults. So fouled up that when the Indianapolis Star investigated Indiana's records a few years ago, it discovered that hundreds of thousands of names -- as many as one-fifth of the total -- were "bogus" since the individuals named had moved, died, or gone to prison. So fouled up that when a Louisiana paper filed 25 phony voter registration forms signed only with an "X," 21 were approved and added to the voter list.
Given that this presidential election has the potential to be as close as the last one, this is troubling news. Jacoby points to several left-leaning organizations that have resisted some suggested ways of fixing the problem:
Yet, incredibly, powerful political interests have long fought to block an ID requirement. The NAACP and La Raza liken it to the poll tax that Southern states once used to keep blacks from voting. A Democratic Party official says that "ballot security" and "preventing voter fraud" are simply code for voter suppression.
But I think this is a problem that could very easily cut both ways and one that clearly transcends partisan politics. If we have another election as bitterly contested as the last one, and if it emerges that the type of voting fraud Jacoby describes took place in any significant numbers, I fear that many citizens' trust in their own democratic institutions will be significantly undermined. And no one--Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, or Green--wins in that scenario.

ID requirements or other reform measures might help to reduce the amount of fraud, but at the end of the day, the main thing that will make the difference is the decision of individuals to stand up and defend America's democratic institutions. By this I mean that given that such fraud seldom takes place in a complete vacuum, what is the response of those who observe or who are aware of the fraud taking place? Do they applaud it (as long as it means that Bush (or Kerry) loses)? Do they conclude that it is none of their business? Do they give their friend/acquaintance/family member a good tongue lashing and tell them in no uncertain terms that such behavior is inappropriate? Do they turn them in to the authorities? Until a significant number of Americans decide to do one of the latter two, all the ID requirements in the world will probably not eradicate the problem.

End soap-box rant for the day.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004


My first live blog

Dan Rather describes Killian's secretary as a "credible voice"; confirms that the documents are "not authentic" yet what they say is true.

"I did not type these memos"
"...words in there belonged in the Army not in the Air Guard"
"... however, the information in those are not correct."

Dan: "Did you type ones like this?"
Secretary: "Yes"

She confirms that Bush did not take a physical when ordered to. Calls it "a big no-no."
"I can't remember anyone refusing to ..."

She then notes that physicals were required on the airman's birthday [if memory serves, the alleged memo orders Bush to take a physical months before his birthday].

Bush thought he was above everyone else [paraphrase].

"His parents must have been wonderful to raise someone as nice as that" [the point of this is ...]

"I feel that he did" [get special preference] but so did "a lot of other boys."

8:12 EDT
Others resented that Bush felt he didn't have to go by the rules; "It seemed that way to me." [nice equivocal language]

Does this memo and that memo "sound like what Killian felt" [Dan Rather has officially inaugurated a brand new standard of truth].


"That's all supposition" [referring to the mysterious forger of the documents].

Dan Rather, "She told us again and again ..."

"He [Killian's son] has no idea whether that was true or not"

Repeats he didn't think he had to go by the rules mantra again and again.

Dan Rather "Are those documents authentic, as experts we have consulted have maintained?" [Name one that still stands by the story]

Critics have failed to criticize the heart of the story.


Stonewall, stonewall, stonewall. Ignores the fact that CBS's own experts expressed doubts about the documents before the story ran.

Howard Kurtz and Andrew Sullivan are pilling on over on Paula Zahn on CNN.

Kurtz: Rather told me that he will go on the air and take responsibility if the documents are proven to be false. CBS is being "slow and careful."

Kurtz also gives props to blogs.

Sullivan accuses CBS of deeply ingrained bias. "Their minds were clouded with bias."

UPDATE: A couple of things that apparently slipped Dan Rather's mind in his interview with Ms. Knox

According to an article in yesterday's Houston Chronicle:
Last week, Knox said she had no firsthand knowledge of Bush's time with the Texas Air National Guard, although she did recall a culture of special treatment for the sons of prominent people, such as Bush and others. (emphasis added)
She sounded awfully first-hand last night. Why the discrepancy?

Killian's son asserts that Knox was a typist in the TANG pool but was not his father's personal typist (thanks to Allahpundit for both observations).

Both issues are matters of debate. Killian's son could be wrong. Knox could have been misquoted in the Houston Chronicle. But Rather and CBS News don't seem to need to be bothered with such trivialities and sifting through evidence and weighing and showing both sides.


CBS News announced today that it would make a statement concerning the Bush-AWOL [hoax] memo story. First, the announcement was to be made at 12:00 pm EDT; then, the announcement was pushed back to 3:30 pm; then, 5;00 pm. Finally, just before six, we get the following "statement" (via Drudge)
Statement by the President of CBS News, Andrew Heyward:

"We established to our satisfaction that the memos were accurate or we would not have put them on television. There was a great deal of coroborating [sic] evidence from people in a position to know. Having said that, given all the questions about them, we believe we should redouble our efforts to answer those questions, so that's what we are doing."
If that is all CBS News is going to say, why on earth was the announcement not made at noon? This certainly does not bolster the confidence of anyone expecting CBS News to pull a magic authenticating rabbit out of Dan Rather's hat.

UPDATE: Just watched the CBS Evening News segment on the story. Pitched it as a battle between "the Republicans" and CBS. Still claimed that experts have verified the authenticity of the documents (names? anyone? Bueller ...? Bueller ....?) Promised continued investigation but won't reveal the source. Clearly relying heavily on the "I didn't type these memos but they are true descriptions of what happened nonetheless" argument of Killian's secretary. Promised more on 60 Minutes II. Lame, lame, lame.

I agree that the essential charges against Bush--that his family's influence eased his entry into the TANG and eased his exit, despite his failure to complete all required duties--are likely to be valid at one level or another (whether Bush's case was all that atypical is another matter entirely, a matter that I'm sure Dan Rather is working on as we speak). But at this point, the truth of the underlying story is not all that is at issue here. At issue is the fact that Dan Rather and CBS News ran a story months before the election based on clearly fradulent documents, CBS News and Dan Rather were warned by their own experts that the documents may not be authentic, and they ran the story anyway. Lame, lame, lame.

UPDATE II: 60 Minutes II will have the full interview with Killian's secretary. And, it will run a story on . . . . Ferris Bueller. I did not know this when I made the Bueller reference above. Creepy. I may or may not blog more.


"You can do a lot in a single day" Posted by Hello

Oh those efficient Al Qaeda terrorists. Imagine how much more they could have accomplished if they had nukes.

See here for a description of this despicable ad. A snippet:
This is an email advertisement for the online version of El Pais, Spain's main newspaper which belongs to the PRISA group, the pro-Socialist media organization that, together with its sister SER radio network, was behind the agit-prop campaign after the March 11 bombings.

UPDATE: El Pais has issued an apology; good for them.


Good post on partisanship and epistemology at Begging to Differ.
Politics junkies are a zealous bunch, rarely allowing our ignorance to stand in the way of a nice, strong opinion. We think our conclusions are firmly rooted in logic and good sense. Many of us think our policy preferences serve the interest of the common good. The smartest and most impressive people generally agree with us. Historical analogies suppport our positions. Late night talk show hosts know where we are coming from. Political candidates articulate our core beliefs while deftly (sometimes annoyingly) throwing winks and nods to the less educated and informed.

Our political opponents are misguided at best, often malevolent. Some of them are principled and friendly, but they are all missing some key piece of the puzzle that, were it in place, would surely bring them around to our way of thinking. Many of them desire power for its own sake. They distort the facts to suit their agenda. The dumbest and most dangerous people generally agree with them. History tends to prove them wrong. Late night talk show hosts mock them. Political candidates shamelessly pander to their basest motivations.

Most of us see things this way regardless of our own political persuasion. Republican or Democrat. Wingnut or moonbat.
All too true.


Milennial Musings on why many college students don't vote:
College students don't care about Medicare or Medicaid. We don't care about Social Security, prescription drugs, or war records. Some don't even care about the war in Iraq. Iraq is a far away place with funny town names with a lot of sand and people with beards. One friend of mine (sorry, you know who you are) actually complained that breaking news from Iraq (during the actual invasion) was interrupting her soaps.


Metanoiac finds a good example of this phenomenon in China.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004


A nice collection of 'em here. This one's my favorite. Thanks to Marginal Revolution for the link.


"The North Korea Nuclear Issue: The Road Ahead” by Robert J. Einhorn crossed my in-box via NAPSNET. The specific link to the piece is here but it did not work when I tried it (perhaps it will be fixed later?). This is basically a summary of the CW here in DC think-tank wonk-land. Highlights:
From the time it took office, the Bush administration has been deeply divided on North Korea. One camp has assumed that North Korea would never voluntarily give up nuclear weapons, believed that the North Koreans would cheat on any new agreement, and feared that such an agreement would prop up a tyrannical regime. This group has supported regime change as the most reliable way of disarming North Korea. The other camp, skeptical about Pyongyang’s willingness to give up nuclear arms but dubious about prospects for regime change in the near term, has favored exploring a negotiated solution. For much of the past three years, differences between the two camps have blocked a coherent approach toward North Korea’s nuclear program.

However, after Colonel Gaddafi agreed in December 2003 to give up his nuclear program, a compromise (actually, more of a truce) was reached on the basis of what the administration started calling the “Libya model” – according to which an autocratic regime, looking to end its international isolation, makes a strategic decision to give up its nuclear program quickly, completely, and transparently without the U.S. having to make concessions up front. Consistent with that model, if Kim Jong-il were prepared to follow Gaddafi’s example and disarm on U.S. terms, the Bush administration would be willing to support the DPRK’s integration into the world community, provide it assistance, and not seek to topple its regime.

The Libya model was the basis for the U.S. proposal tabled in late June 2004 at the third round of the six-party talks.
There is little likelihood North Korea will accept the current U.S. proposal. It sees itself in a strong bargaining position. With American forces tied down in Iraq and stretched thin worldwide (and some U.S. troops even shifting from South Korea to Iraq), Pyongyang must calculate that a military threat from the U.S. is remote. Indeed, even before Iraq, the DPRK’s ability to devastate Seoul with its massive, forward-deployed conventional artillery and rocket forces was a strong inhibitor of U.S. military action. Economic factors do not compel DPRK flexibility either. Kim Jong-il appears to be serious about pursuing market reforms and probably realizes that such reforms cannot get very far if his country remains economically isolated because of the nuclear issue. But given the choice between maintaining his “powerful deterrent” and promoting the success of the reform effort, it is clear that he will give priority to security.
The idea that Pyongyang can be squeezed until it capitulates or collapses is wishful thinking. The regime has been surprisingly resilient, defying repeated predictions of its imminent demise. Moreover, neither China nor South Korea wants a sudden, destabilizing collapse in the North. Especially in the absence of a U.S. negotiating position that Beijing and Seoul consider reasonable – and since the June round, they have already begun calling for more U.S. flexibility – both can be expected to resist U.S. appeals for squeezing the North and to continue providing the assistance needed to keep it afloat.
A preferable approach, one likely to be supported by some in a second Bush administration or by a Kerry administration, would be to explore whether a sound agreement is possible. It would adopt elements of the Bush proposal (e.g., clear commitment to complete elimination and full disclosure of all programs from the outset), but it would provide for a phased elimination in a longer timeframe. At the same time, the U.S. would join the others in offering incentives in each of the phases, including from the beginning.

To be sure, this approach has downsides, including the risk that the North Koreans sooner or later would try to cheat or pull out of the process before dismantlement is complete. These risks can be minimized but not avoided, reflecting the reality that has faced the last three U.S. Presidents: there are no good options in dealing with North Korea. An imperfect agreement is the least bad option.

As I noted previously, this line of thinking is the virtually unchallenged conventional wisdom here in DC (in the past the line "test the intentions of North Korea" has bene invoked ad nauseum). Only occasionally will a hard-core neo-con or paleo-con try to argue that North Korea is irredeemable and that any attempt to engage the regime is tantamount to bad precedent-setting "appeasement." I guess that at the end of the day, I side with the CW on this one. The U.S. is presently in no condition to bring military force to bear to deal with North Korean proliferation. So what's wrong with making a reasonable offer in the presence of all six-parties who will be more likely to support more drastic measures if the DPRK balks?


This post nicely summarizes one thing I have concluded about the whole sordid mess:
I'll let you in on a secret: until the recent memo fiesta, I was 100% certain that Bush was AWOL in some sense from something at some point in Texas, since I vaguely remember this going around once or twice before (insert typical rumor about alternative service with Captain J. Daniels, if you know what I mean). Thanks to the CBS/DNC revisitation of the issue, I have boringly learned that there was some kind of flex-time system that operated with an annual "points" scale, and apparently (as I understand this) if you look at Bush's attendance points, they line up adequately. So now I'm apathetic about the issue and the meta-issue.
I suspect that if pushed to reveal their heart of hearts, many Bush supporters will acknowledge that it is possible, nay, likely, that a younger hard-drinking, drug using Dubya did not fulfill all of his National Guard obligations. And, at the end of the day, they didn't care. Now, with blatant forgeries being used and defended by a once reputable news organization, one starts to wonder whether Dubya may have been maligned more than even he deserved. Whatever the case, the more Bush's enemies try to bring up the AWOL story in some frenzied attempt to achieve a mudslinging symmetry with the Swift Boat Verterans, the less likely it is that voters will hear about issues of real concern that might cause them to change their minds about Dubya. Sigh.

Monday, September 13, 2004


I have many, many disagreements with how President Bush and his administration has handled a variety of issues. But every time I start to consider whether I could see myself voting for the other guy, I'm confronted with statements like what John Kerry said in a recent New York Times article. After leveling a number of reasonable criticisms of how Bush et al have handled North Korea, Kerry was asked what he would do about a North Korean nuclear test. His reply:
When Mr. Kerry was pressed about how he would handle the threat of a North Korean nuclear test if he was in the Oval Office, he declined to be prescriptive, other than to say that the issue would probably have to be taken to the United Nations Security Council. "Hypothetical questions are not real," he said, arguing that North Korea was a case for preventive diplomacy, and that Mr. Bush's "ideologically driven" approach had kept him from truly engaging North Korea.
This is why I can't see myself voting for JFK. Kerry called David Sanger specifically to vent about North Korea. One can only presume that he might expect to be asked, "Well, what would you do differently?" And yet, he had no answer! What would I get in terms of American policy toward North Korea if I vote for Kerry? I have no idea? Ditto for Iraq. Oh how the man frustrates me!

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