Friday, September 24, 2004


Gary of The Red Armchair considers laws that prohibit felons from voting and asks a thoughtful question:
The main question for all of us should be: Is this legal disenfranchisement of voters justified, and even if justified, is it constitutional. I would submit that these laws are unnecessary.

In my view, once you have left the custody of the penal system, you should as with every other part of your life, be reinstated to full US citizenship. In states that allow a former convict to appeal and then be allowed to vote, the laws need to be made much simpler. In fact, the laws should not even exist. If you are in jail you should not vote, this is because the very idea of imprisonment is a state sanction that for a time deprives you of life, liberty, and property. Yet when you are released from this punishment no limitation should exist on any part of your freedoms.
I agree.


Cartoon courtesy of Kevin Kallaugher

"Diplomacy" Posted by Hello

Can anyone explain to me why France, Germany, Russia, China et al are going to be more likely to send troops to Iraq just because Kerry asks them nicely? Given that these nations generally make foreign policy decisions based on perceived interests and not on personal pique, given that Kerry stated in his DNC speech that any additional U.S. troops that he would muster would be "not for Iraq," and given that Kerry has also characterized Iraq as a quagmire, a mess, a situation that is worsening, can anyone explain to me why I should expect more international cooperation in Iraq to be the result of a Kerry Administration? Anyone? .... Anyone? Note that this is a case in which I actually hope that I am wrong.

UPDATE: If this Financial Times article is correct, Kerry's hopes are fading fast (thanks to Daniel Drezner for the link)
French and German government officials say they will not significantly increase military assistance in Iraq even if John Kerry, the Democratic presidential challenger, is elected on November 2.

Mr Kerry, who has attacked President George W. Bush for failing to broaden the US-led alliance in Iraq, has pledged to improve relations with European allies and increase international military assistance in Iraq.

"I cannot imagine that there will be any change in our decision not to send troops, whoever becomes president," Gert Weisskirchen, member of parliament and foreign policy expert for Germany's ruling Social Democratic Party, said in an interview.
I wonder what Kerry's response to this will be?

UPDATE II: An anonymous comment on this post takes me to task for not reading the more equivocal language that appears later on in the Financial Times piece. Mea Culpa. The caveats contained therein do make it less certain that a Kerry Presidency might fail in its quest to get French and/or German troops on Iraqi soil.

On the other hand, I stumbled across this International Herald Tribune article that seems fairly unequivocal, at least in the case of Germany:
But last week, just after Kerry's major speech on the war in which he insisted that the United States "must make Iraq the world's responsibility" and that others "should share the burden," Schröder's sense of courtesy collided with reality and he drove a spike into the notion. He told reporters, "We won't send any German soldiers to Iraq, and that's where it's going to remain."

More later on in the article:
So, suggesting that with Kerry's big Iraq statement under their belts it was now a good time for the Allies to ask themselves who would be a better American president for them, Süddeutsche pointed the question rhetorically at Gerhard Schröder, and then responded in his stead.
"The answer: Bush," the newspaper, a constant critic of the president, wrote.
As for the Democrat, Süddeutsche said Kerry "is suggesting that he can produce a little miracle and seduce America's battered friends into high-yield performances along the lines of Washington's wishes." For all of Kerry's opportunity to create a foreign policy with greater credibility and legitimacy, that was not realistic, it said. Schröder couldn't send Bundeswehr troops to Iraq, and there would be "no morning-after special gift for a President Kerry."

As for France?

Similar considerations also work for France. It would take exceptional sophistry for President Jacques Chirac to explain putting French lives on the line in Iraq. Besides, sidling up to any American president would not appear to have much appeal to Chirac at a time when Le Figaro says he's busy promoting himself as successor to Nehru and Nasser in leading the "nonaligned world."

I conclude that the burden of proof is still on Kerry to demonstrate how he can overcome these significant obstacles.


LOTR 4? Posted by Hello

Original here.

Thursday, September 23, 2004


So reads the summary from this Korea Update piece.
President Roh Moo-hyun pledged on September 14 that the government make efforts to contribute to improving human rights in the global community.

During the international human rights forum at Seoul's Lotte Hotel, President Roh said, "Our people have successfully overcome the dark era of human rights violations and are now opening a new chapter of human rights and democracy." The President said this on account of the earlier periods of authoritarian rule of the country when human rights were often neglected in the name of efficiency and modernization of the nation, which emerged from devastation caused by the Korea War in 1950-53.

"We will not return to the past history of human rights violations," Roh said. "We will try to further contribute to enhancing human rights at the international level."
Hmmm .... I wonder if that includes north of the DMZ?


The Associated Press ("U.S. TO CLOSE 35 PERCENT OF OVERSEAS BASES", 2004-09-23) reported that over the next decade, the US military will abandon 35 percent of the Cold War-era bases and buildings it uses abroad, even as it seeks to expand a network of bare-bones sites in Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Eastern Europe to help fight terrorism. The most widely noted aspect of the plan, which was announced in broad terms last month by President Bush, is the withdrawal of 70,000 US troops and 100,000 of their family members from bases in Germany and the ROK. Less well understood is that even while troops will return to the US from Germany and the ROK, the Pentagon will be building up its network of "forward operating sites," sometimes called "lily pad" bases.
Probably a good development, but will it be enough to satisfy Sorrows of Empire author Chalmers Johnson? Probably not.


Much of East Asia and beyond is awash with speculation concerning a possible DPRK missile launch (much of what follows is taken from the invaluable NAPSNET daily report. If you don't already get this, what are you waiting for?).

Japanese media reported signs of preparations for a missile test:
The Yomiuri Shimbun ("SIGNS INDICATE N. KOREA PREPARING TO LAUNCH RODONG MISSILE", 2004-09-23) reported that indications that the DPRK is preparing to launch a Rodong ballistic missile, which has the range to cover most of the Japanese archipelago, have been observed, government sources reported Wednesday
A visual depiction of what analysts think the Rodong/Nodong missile's range can be viewed here.

The New York Times echoed similar thoughts, albeit in a curiously ambiguous fashion:
The New York Times ("NORTH KOREA TEST FEARED", 2004-09-23) reported that the US and Japan have detected signs that the DPRK is preparing to launch a ballistic missile with a range capable of hitting almost all of Japan, Japanese government sources said Thursday. "At this stage we don't think North Korea's missile launch is imminent," one source told Reuters on condition of anonymity. "But we still don't know whether North Korea is serious about missile launches."
So, we don't know anything for sure, but with those secretive North Koreans, one never knows.

The ROK weighs in with equal ambiguity, but points out that the DPRK does carry out military maneuvers from time to time:
Korea Times ("SEOUL ALERT FOR POSSIBLE N. KOREAN MISSILE TEST", 2004-09-23) reported that the ROK has detected the movements of missile units in the DPRK but believes they are part of routine exercises, the Defense Ministry said Thursday. "While South Korean intelligence officials, as well as their U.S. counterparts, have 'partially' discerned missile-related movements in the North, there seems to be annual military exercises going on," ministry spokesman Brig. Gen. Nam Dae-youn said at a news conference.

The PRC not so subtly warns the DPRK to avoid any "complications"
Agence France-Presse ("CHINA URGES EFFORTS TO AVOID 'COMPLICATING' NKOREA SITUATION ", 2004-09-23) reported that the PRC Thursday urged all parties to avoid "complicating" the situation on the Korean peninsula, amid reports that the DPRK might be preparing to test-fire a missile. "What I want to emphasize is that we need to make efforts to avoid complicating the situation on the Korean peninsula, so we can prepare for the next round of talks as soon as possible," foreign ministry spokesman Kong Quan said.

Don't worry too much about it, says Koizumi:
Kyodo ("KOIZUMI SAYS N. KOREA UNLIKELY TO TEST-FIRE MISSILE", 2004-09-23) reported that Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said Thursday that the DPRK is unlikely to test-fire another ballistic missile. "I think the possibility of launching one is low," Koizumi told reporters outside his official residence.

Seems prudent enough, although it is an interesting response to North Korea's declaration that it could turn Japan into "a sea of nuclear fire" and will do so if the DPRK is attacked by the US:
Agence France-Presse ("NORTH KOREA THREATENS TO TURN JAPAN INTO "NUCLEAR SEA OF FIRE" ", 2004-09-23) reported that the DPRK threatened Thursday to turn Japan into a "nuclear sea of fire" if it comes under attack from the US. "If the United States ignites a nuclear war, the US military bases in Japan would serve as a detonating fuse to turn Japan into a nuclear sea of fire," the DPRK's ruling party newspaper Rodong Sinmun said in a
Korean-language article monitored by ROK's Yonhap news agency. In an English-language article published by Pyongyang's official KCNA news agency, Rodong accused the US of converting Japan into "strategic vantage points" for a pre-emptive attack on the DPRK.

So, at the end of the day, what do we know now that we didn't know a week ago? Not much. We know that the DPRK has Rodong missiles. We know that the DPRK conducts frequent military exercises. We know that the DPRK doesn't really care for the U.S. and Japan and often expresses these feelings in rather vivid and provocative language. And we know that newspapers the world over like to run breathless stories of looming danger and impending threat even when some of the experts the reporters consult caution that we don't really know what the DPRK is up to. Sounds about par for the course.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004


Do the recent spate of hurricanes demonstrate to Floridians the perils of voting Republican?

Hurricanes as sign of divine disfavor? Posted by Hello

As usual, is on the case.
The map shown above presents the hurricanes as if they traversed neat, narrow paths, hitting only counties that voted for George Bush in 2000 (colored pink) and avoiding all counties that voted for Al Gore (colored blue). It took some finagling with the actual storm data to produce those results, however.


Some have noted that the Kerry campaign is having difficulty winning the female vote. Why might this be? Naomi Wolf thinks she has the answer:
By manipulating the images of the women around George W. Bush, including Laura herself, the Bush team has brilliantly eroded the traditional Democratic advantage among women.
How is this done?
Bush’s speeches are routinely cast before the eye, I am convinced, of Karen Hughes, who spins tax cuts as a boon to women entrepreneurs, like the one Laura Bush mentioned in her convention speech (Carmella Chaifos, “the only woman to own a tow-truck company in all of Iowa”). The fallen heroes of Iraq are “moms and dads.” Afghanistan was the first time U.S. troops were deployed for a feminist goal, “so Afghan girls could go to school.”
Abortion is an issue not of Ms. Magazine–style fanaticism or suicidal Republican religious reaction, but a complex issue on which “good people can disagree.” (W. mimicked his father’s trick of catering to his religious base while leaking the fact that his wife is pro-choice.)
There’s more:
While Bush Inc. is flooding women’s magazines with features in which Laura Bush gets out a family-friendly feminist message, Kerry et al. remain obsessed with sending white men out onto the Sunday talk shows—which women don’t watch. While Bush Inc. understands the power of the vivid visual image—dressing the entire GOP convention, for instance, in matching tangerine and turquoise, color-coordinating the Cheney grandchildren to give a visual sense of order and unity—the Democrats keep being bumped to the inside pages because they send out their candidate and his wife in neutrals. I am convinced that Michael Deaver is the invisible hand behind the calculated visuals of the Bush campaign—the signature use of deep, majestic backdrops behind the candidate, the use of jewel tones on Laura Bush and other women associated with the administration, the trick of forcing photographers to sit close to the stage so that they must shoot sharply upward, showing the candidate from a heroic angle.
Note that Ms. Wolf is “convinced” of the behind the scenes influence of Karen Hughes and Michael Deaver. Any proof? No need for such things.

I’m struck by the implicit assumption that this is all a show, a façade, a sham. Because everyone knows that Republicans don’t really like women. There is no possible way that the social changes that have transformed the United States in the last several decades might actually influence the way even Republicans think and believe. They couldn’t have become kinder and gentler because . . . well because they’re more kind and gentle.

But unlike the Neanderthal Republicans, Ms. Wolf knows and cares about women. This concern and regard just leaps out of her next statement:
By contrast, the Democrats ignore them, losing women, who are simply too busy racing to get school lunches ready and kids out the door to get their impressions about the candidates from Meet the Press.
In Ms. Wolf’s world, women are incapable of listening to NPR as they drive their kids to school or go to work (something my wife does every day); and it goes without saying that women would never read the newspaper, watch tv, or, heaven forbid, use the internet to get information (and since when did women make lunches and get their kids out the door on Sundays, the day when Meet the Press airs anyway?). No, women are too busy to be informed and are, therefore, susceptible to the powerful and seductive magic of “matching tangerine and turquoise” wrought by Karen Hughes and Michael Deaver. With friends like these . . .

Wolf then ventures off into a series of inventive, imaginative, and for the most part entirely irrelevant observations that would probably win her high marks in an English Literature Ph.D. program or at an MLA conference (healthy doses of Freud et al) but one wonders how they might play with her mythical moms who are too busy to watch Meet the Press, let alone contemplate the subliminal cuckolding of John Kerry evinced in his wife’s keeping of her previous husband’s name (note to Ms. Wolf: did it ever occur to you that Teresa may have done this because she has children who share the Heinz surname?).

In the midst of these observations, Wolf notes that
it has been well established that modern women maddeningly long for men who are tender in private but authoritative in public.
Maddening perhaps for self-declared guardians of a particular feminist tradition such as Ms. Wolf but again the condescension fairly drips: what kind of fool would a women have to be to seek a loving tender relationship with a man who makes her feel secure? Perhaps such women are subjected to false consciousness (Gramscian or otherwise) and don’t realize how their perceptions and desires fetter them. But does Ms. Wolf speak for such women, or merely to them?

Enough ranting for today.

UPDATE: Ann Althouse has some good equal-opportunity criticism of politicians going after the "women's vote" You should, of course, read the whole thing, but I couldn't resist posting her conclusion:
The campaigns talk about women the way people who thought women shouldn't have the right to vote talked about women.

UPDATE II: While you're at it, check out Susanna Cornett's take on a similar political strategy: the attempt to appear to the "rural voter.":
As the descendent of generations of rural-dwellers, raised in the foothills of Appalachia, someone who lived for eight years in the shadow of New York City yet found small town Alabama more to her liking, I think I can speak to this sense on the Kerry camp's part that John Edwards is going to appeal to the average rural person:



Those folks who pioneered the Nigerian e-mail scam and all of its descendants have to at least be given credit for ingenuity. Here's the latest.

Dear Sir/ Madam,

I am Rev.Father Barry Alexander 60 years old from the republic of Ireland. Presently, I am the catholic Archbishop of Queensbury diocesses in United Kingdom.

Ever since I became an Archbishop, i have been helping the Orphans in some of the charitable Homes across Europe. I have donated some money to a charitable Home in Spain, Sweden and here in Ireland with the little God has given me.

But it is sad to let you know that, i became ill recently from Cancer of the liver. Before i got ill, i had sent some money amounting to Four Million Two Hundred Thousand US Dollars ($4.2M) to a security and financial company in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.The fund is safe. I have been using the company for over Ten years now. I am presently admitted in Addenbrookes Hospital, Cambridge for Medical treatment with little hope of survival. Please if you can stand as my Next of Kin to this Funds, kindly reply me with your Name: Address: Tel: Fax:

to enable me forward a letter of nominee on your behalf to the security company in Amsterdam where the Funds is presently kept for further distribution among the charitable Homes in your country as directed by me. As soon as i get your response, I will make you my next of Kin and furnish you with more details on how the Funds can be claimed by you physically from the financial company in Netherlands. Thereafter, i will also give you instruction on how the Funds will be distributed among some charitable Homes in your country.

In return, I will offer you 20% of the total sum ($4.2M), while extra 5% shall be set aside for all expenses incured by you during the process of claim.

My Lord has already revealed to me that, you would be trustworthy enough to carry out this soul surviving transaction.

May the Peace and Joy of the Lord abide in you.

His humble Servant,

Rev Fr. Barry Alexander

So the Lord has revealed to Father Alexander that I am worthy of his trust but didn't bother to reveal to the good father whether I am a "Sir" or a "Madam." Hmmmm . . .

NOTE to those who will inevitably send me an e-mail message after finding this post via Google: "Yes, this is a hoax."


has a website here. Fun if a bit silly. But still, "Lambert Field"? Sometimes it is better not to say anything at all.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004


We don't use the Danish Ping-pong method to select our presidents.

Monday, September 20, 2004


Temps were in the high 40s this morning. A far cry from just a few weeks ago. Hard to believe that it wasn't all that long ago that life looked like this:
Days of summer Posted by Hello

Or this:

At the beach Posted by Hello
Oh well. Autumn is actually my favorite season anyway. Changing leaves, apple cider, football, crisp clear days. What's not to like?


CBS News finally admits what the rest of the world has known for some time now:
"Based on what we now know, CBS News cannot prove that the documents are authentic, which is the only acceptable journalistic standard to justify using them in the report,"
I'm sure this apology will not satisfy many who will want to know more about the real source of the forged memos (Did Burkett create them himself or did he merely send them on to CBS News?), what Rather was smoking when he declared the source of the memos to be "unimpeachable," and why when questions about Kerry's Vietnam-era service were raised, Rather dismissed them:
In the end, what difference does it make what one candidate or the other did or didn't do during the Vietnam War? In some ways, that war is as distant as the Napoleonic campaigns. What's far more import is this: Do they have an exit strategy for Iraq? If so, what is it? How will they address the national deficit? And what are the chances their plans will work?
but just a few weeks later Rather seemed to think that Bush's Vietnam-era service (or lack thereof) was of utmost importance.

But, for me, this is enough. And, this is all we're likely to get. Time to move on to more important things.

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