Ideoblog reminds us of Michael Moore's comments the day after 9/11:
Well, the pundits are in full diarrhea mode, gushing on about the “terrorist threat” and today’s scariest dude on planet earth—Osama bin Laden. Hey, who knows, maybe he did it. But, something just doesn’t add up. Am I being asked to believe that this guy who sleeps in a tent in a desert has been training pilots to fly our most modern, sophisticated jumbo jets with such pinpoint accuracy that they are able to hit these three targets without anyone wondering why these planes were so far off path? Or am I being asked to believe that there were four religious/political fanatics who just happened to be skilled airline pilots who just happened to want to kill themselves today? Maybe you can find one jumbo jet pilot willing to die for the cause—but FOUR? Ok, maybe you can—I don’t know…
[O]ur recent domestic terrorism bombings have not been conducted by a guy from the desert but rather by our own citizens: a couple of ex-military guys who hated the federal government.
From the first minutes of today’s events, I never heard that possibility suggested. Why is that?
Maybe it’s because the A-rabs are much better foils. A key ingredient in getting Americans whipped into a frenzy against a new enemy is the all-important race card. It’s much easier to get us to hate when the object of our hatred doesn’t look like us…
In just 8 months, Bush gets the whole world back to hating us again. He withdraws from the Kyoto agreement, walks us out of the Durban conference on racism, insists on restarting the arms race—you name it, and Baby Bush has blown it all…
Many families have been devastated tonight. This just is not right. They did not deserve to die. If someone did this to get back at Bush, then they did so by killing thousands of people who did not vote for him! Boston, New York, DC, and the planes’ destination of California—these were places that voted against Bush! Why kill them? Why kill anyone? Such insanity… Let’s mourn, let’s grieve, and when it’s appropriate let’s examine our contribution to the unsafe world we live in.
So, Howard, here's the deal. This is the man the far left loves, and the day after 9/11 he's upset because terrorists killed Democrats. If there's anything that makes me angry at the left, it's this attitude. Blinded so much by ideology they no longer make informed consent but practiced sniping to gain power for their side. I have seen so many organizations fail when overtaken by such attitudes it makes me wonder for the self-interest of the human race.
Via Power Line Blog, we see the New York Post reporting that the video aired on Al Jazeera was edited down.
Osama bin Laden doesn't seem nearly so cocky in the unedited version of a videotape aired on al-Jazeera, complaining that the manhunt against him has hampered al Qaeda. Osama bin Laden's newest tape may have thrust him to the forefront of the presidential election, but what was not seen was the cave-dwelling terror lord talking about the setbacks al Qaeda has faced in recent months.
Odd that Al Jazeera would leave in the Fahrenheit 9/11 regurgitation and not the rest. They were working on a reputation for objective reporting, weren't they?
Beldar always says it better than I do. I need to work on that.
“By invading Iraq,” they say, “President Bush has caused more terrorists.” For example, I just saw a blogad pimping a new book with a blurb from a WaPo review by Richard Clarke that gushes, “[Jonathan] Randal makes a convincing case that the U.S. war on Iraq has needlessly extended the lifetime and ferocity of this generation of terrorists as never before.” I haven't read Mr. Randal's book, and neither do I plan to waste the time or money to do so, because I already understand his “convincing case,” and I know what it amounts to:
Rubbish and balderdash.
Radical Islamic extremists are not like poison ivy—“don't scratch it, it'll only get worse!” The necessary premise of this argument is, “If we'd only—(choose one or more)—(a) let them alone, (b) treat them with due respect, (c) allow them to drive Israel into the sea, then they wouldn't keep flying airplanes into our buildings, blowing up school busses, kidnapping and beheading civilians, etc.”
These folks won't be happy until my two daughters are in burqas and they and I together are under the watchful eyes of thought-and-conduct police who'll correct any deviation from their approved path. They won't be happy until our civilization is destroyed and replaced with one that they've dictated.
It's a great posting, with a great ending:
So if you're all worked up into making this particular argument in my presence, don't be surprised if I snort derisively and wander off to do something more productive—say, clipping my fingernails or cleaning my toilets—instead of debating it with you at length. You're a fool, and unless you're also a client (and I don't argue politics with my clients anyway), I have no obligation to suffer your foolishness gladly.
The Truth Laid Bear did a roundup of blogger reactions to the Usama Bin Laden tape, but I wasn't in there. However, I don't think my blog is nearly as important as those other guys, so perhaps I should just shut up.
Over at ASLET Updates we find a new entry from October 25.
Contrary to what a reasonable member would believe, the emergency meeting was not called to discuss the missing financial records that have apparently been removed from the ASLET Office, but rather to discuss what title the new “Operations Manager” should have! Believe it or not, this was the board’s priority!
This was indeed what I was not expecting after all the resignations and the installment of Bob Bragg at Chairman and Phil Messina as Treasurer. However, there remain board members that appear to be involved in the disaster that has damaged the society, and the next meeting is on November 2nd.
Phil told me straight out that although some board members are encouraging others to paint a rosy picture, the plain truth was this: judging from the available financial records only, the odds were very small that the seminar would come off as planned, without dipping into the Endowment Fund money, because there apparently was very little planning regarding the seminar as Hackett and others were apparently busy planning their exodus instead.
He did say that he thought with Nancy Moser, Gwen McEntire and Toni Miller working their butts off to help pull things together that there was better than a 50/50 chance there would be a seminar, and if it happened all the credit should go to them.
I re-upped my membership with ASLET after Hackett resigned, but I have not yet seen any indication of my membership returning. I assume that the mass resignations have interfered with operations somewhat. I'd rather hear about how the board encouraged the operations manager, whatever his title, to conduct operations.
I think I might have to make plans to attend the upcoming seminar. It may be the last one.
From the beginning of the Treasurer's report:
Records detailing charges made on ASLET credit cards, and reimbursements made for significant expenses charged to personal credit cards, were not found during my inspection of the ASLET office.
An important point on the cash balance:
I strongly emphasize that the current operating bills (those that we discovered) and a secret payment plan to Reed Smith made by Frank Hackett appear to exceed ASLET's non-Endowment fund cash balance.
And the bottom line:
In conclusion, it appears that the large “bills” paid in the last few months of Frank Hackett's control left ASLET with nearly no operating funds in the non-Endowment Fund accounts.
I've offered Bob and Phil my help but I don't think there's much I can do.
Wizbang looks at the the effect of the Al Qaqaa explosives story on Kerry's standings.
Kerry was on a roll, gaining momentum quickly, but that changed just as quickly. As could be expected, his momentum latest 24 hours after the news broke but then his fixation on the story started working against him. It is clear that Al Qa Qaa is not helping John Kerry. From his all time peak of 50 points, he has dropped a point per day. Meanwhile, Bush who had leveled off at 48% is now up to 50%.
My friend Howard posts that it's time to get to know your neighbors and not be afraid of them because they might be opposing you ideologically.
Me, I like my neighbors that are voting for Kerry. And they understand why I'm voting for Bush. Howard and I are friends to, despite the fact that we're on opposite sides of the aisle.
The interesting thing is that Howard and I have agreed on many things, and disagreed on others, but mainly it's a question of priorities. Everyone has values, and how they rank those values is really what makes them unique. Heck, I have been distanced somewhat from my libertarian friends because I support the war on terror. These same friends were dismayed when Hospers (and Tom Cox) endorsed Bush, although Bob Barr endorsed Badnarik.
I have encountered vitriolic resistance on the left. I have been called a baby-killer because I have an NRA sticker on my car. I have been called a fascist. I even got called a red-neck! I have been shouted down in online discussions. I have been flipped off on the road. I have been given the thumbs-down. I have never seen my friends on the right do anything like that.
So, Howard, I do make an attempt. I just wish I could believe there could be an honest difference of opinion anymore without threats and posturing.
Beldar Blog examines the idea that Usama might have been firing the opening negotiation with Kerry for a truce with his videotape. Beldar's subtle investigation of Kerry's tendency to be a “blithering fool” aside (it's good reading), this morning I listened to the MSM claim that Osama wants Bush to win because he's a easier target to rally against.
That the MSM would spin this in a way that makes Kerry look good is expected, I just hope people are smarter than that.
Via Fox News we hear of Imam Haitham Bundjaki telling us that Azzam the American sounds an awful lot like Adam Yahiye Gadahn, a young man he converted to Islam. (See also “Adam Pearlman” or “Abu Suhayb Al-Amriki”.)
The 9/11 Commission report had a lot to say about certain mosques in the US, and how Al-Queda members used them as recruiting grounds although they couldn't necessarily assert that it was an approved practice. Adam, at least, is supposed to have gone to Pakistan to meet with Abu Zubaydah in Pakistan or Afghanistan.
If it wasn't enough for people to start comparing numbers on IAEA seals, it all got moot when Major Austin Pearson said that his unit moved and destroyed 200 tons of explosives that are supposed to be missing.
It would have been a good time to point out that hundreds of thousands of tons of explosives have been eliminated in the course of the Iraq War.
Wizbang helps stop the wondering why 200 equals 377. It's 194 tons of HMX and 3 tons of RDX…
This October Surprise is a non-starter. As is the Bin Laden tape. As is the Azzam the American tape. What's left? Rocket Scientists using Photoshop to show Bush has a spine?
We have rumors from Polipundit and Blogs for Bush that there is confirmation that Kerry's initial discharge was “less than honorable.” Additionally, he may have had his status fixed by Jimmy Carter as part of the amnesty for war protestors (starting with EO 4483).
Say Anything points out a possible Kerry lie on the extent of release of his military records.
Bin Laden appears to be alive and promptly recites a DNC ad. I can't see this as being good for Kerry as Bin Laden is clearly more afraid of Bush.
We fought you because we are free… and want to regain freedom for our nation. As you undermine our security we undermine yours.
Why would rescuing Kuwait from Saddam Hussein, resisting Iranian and Afghan communism, brokering piece between Israel and Egpyt, and supporting the states of Israel and Saudi Arabia undermine the security of free people like Usama Bin Laden? He needs to be a bit more detailed. To me this sounds like extreme spin.
So today's big news is the Washington Times story “Russia Tied to Iraq's Missing Arms”:
Russian special forces troops moved many of Saddam Hussein's weapons and related goods out of Iraq and into Syria in the weeks before the March 2003 U.S. military operation…
There's also the last item in the piece:
Officials believe the Russians also can explain what happened to Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programs.
Captain Ed of Captains Quarters Blog has some choice comments in his piece “Did 'Starving Soviets' Back The Moving Van Up To Al Qaqaa?”:
The new question is how the IAEA managed to hoodwink the New York Times, CBS, and the John Kerry campaign into thinking it did its job in securing the weapons from Saddam. Far from providing stable security, they actively fought to keep the HMX and RDX from being destroyed by UNSCOM, and then watched as it disappeared without a trace in 2001 and 2002.
Wizbang has been focused on the perfidy of the New York Times. A comprehensive piece is “CBS/NYT Times Story Crumbles Tonight.” Choice quotes:
The Russians probably moved the explosives, the Department of Defense has satellite images that might prove it and Mohamed ElBaradei might have mislead the United Nations Security council about the amount of explosives missing. And for good measure we learn the bunkers were never really sealed!
On Oct 10, 2004, Mohamad Albardi told the UN Security council that 350 tons of explosives were missing based on a search of the compound done in January including 141.2 metric tons of RDX and 194.7 metric tons of HMX.
However, the actual “Action Report” from January that Albardi was supposedly relaying to the UN says that only 3 tons of RDX were missing. No explanation for the discrepancy has been given yet but apparently there are about 130 US tons less explosives missing than we thought.
Hugh Hewitt's column at The Daily Standard “The Commander-In-Chief” points out Kerry's attacks on the explosives issue were not exactly beneficial to the Kerry campaign:
This week he embraced an already discredited account of missing munitions to attack the reputation of the 3rd Infantry Division and the 101st Airborne. Make no mistake, that is exactly what Kerry is doing when he asserts that deadly weapons went unsecured and unreported as these two divisions rushed to liberate Baghdad. And not just these divisions, but every officer and soldier who had a hand in drawing up the war plan. If the negligence that Kerry charges the military with was real, additional troops would not have made a difference. The initial search would still have been conducted by the 3rd I.D. and the site pronounced clear. The 101st would still have spent 24 hours in the munitions complex before moving on.
Other online articles have been just as gleeful in pointing out the errors of John Kerry, the New York Times, and CBS. For example, there's the New York Post's Ralph Peters article “The Myth of the 'Missing Explosives': A Shameless Lie” and Roger L. Simon's “Liar, Liar, Al Qaqaa Pants on Fire.” We've also had different names for this disaster, from explosivesgate to the apt NYTrogate.
Another great day for bloggers, another miserable experience for certain of the mainstream media.
Captain Ed of Captain's Quarters Blog reports on Cheney's reaction to Kerry's attack over the missing HMX and RDX:
If our troops had not gone into Iraq as John Kerry apparently thinks they should not have, that is 400,000 tons of weapons and explosives that would be in the hands of Saddam Hussein, who would still be sitting in his palace instead of jail.
I'm concerned that the Bush/Cheney campaign has not responded nearly forcefully enough on this issue.
The Belmont Club's “wretchard” has made an excellent post comparing the Iraqi efforts before and during the war to thw War Plan Orange retreat to the Philippine Bataan Penninsula at the beginning of World War II.
Faced with an invasion of Iraq in 2003, Saddam carried out his own sideslip maneuver into a redoubt. The Duelfer report notes that Saddam may have begun moving his WMD materials into Syria as the US vainly attempted to get UN authorization to topple his regime.
He continues his analysis of the tactics:
The major modern innovation of the Arab Way of War has been its radical new conception of defense in depth… Unlike Ushijima's Shuri Line with its tunnels in rock, the Arab redoubt was founded on establishing an underground of terror in the civilian populace. From the anonymity of crowds, they could emerge to attack the enemy from the rear as the Imperial Japanese Army once had done from tunnels. Faced with superior United States forces, this 21st century War Plan Orange was the natural choice of the Arab strategists. By denying the United States proof of its WMDs and grinding them down through occupation warfare—the one mode of combat at which they excelled, they had a reasonable hope of holding America until a politician willing to treat with them was elected into office.
Read the whole posting. It's great.
So, the New York Times rolls with a story about 380 tons of HDX and RDX from a Al Qaqaa (spellings vary) depot that had wandered off after the US took control.
Via the Daily Recycler we see NBC News respond with a report from one of their embedded reporters that was on the scene when the 101st Airborne hit that depot. They say the HMX and RDX wasn't there even then. NBC suspects the article on news which had been known in 2003 was politically motivated since it came a week before the election. More good coverage of this story is over here at the Belmont Club.
The Drudge Report tells us that CBS had intended to do a 60 Minutes story on the same supposed incident the day before the election. Fortunately for them they were scooped by the Times. One would wonder if their intentions were politically motivated too.
Is it any wonder that people readily believe stories of bias in the mainstream media?
Update: James Taranto's “Best of the Web” column today in OpinionJournal has this comment:
The New York Sun notes that the Times/CBS report was based on a letter from Mohamed ElBaradei, who is seeking a third term as head of the International Atomic Energy Commission. The Bush administration opposes ElBaradei's reappointment, so one suspects that this was a foreign effort to influence the outcome of America's presidential election, aided by our domestic partisan liberal media.
The plot thickens!
The best way to combat idiots: nominate Team America: World Police for best documentary.
Sure, the issue of Kerry lying again seems like a non-starter, but it is important, ultimately.
Captain Ed says it best:
We have a presidential candidate who has repeatedly accused George Bush of lying to the American public on the thinnest of evidence, and yet Kerry felt no compunction about telling this lie directly to the cameras during a presidential debate. Kerry spent the past week accusing Bush of using scare tactics to get re-elected, and yet Kerry has spent the past several weeks spreading the lies that Bush has secret plans to start a military draft and to steal the pensions of senior citizens. Kerry and his allies have made wild accusations about Bush's military record but have squealed like schoolgirls every time people ask him to sign a Form 180 to release his own complete military file.
Perhaps he would lie better if he wasn't so darn precise! Lori Byrd, at Polipundit also comments:
I was amazed by the specificity of the recollection of the meeting.
One would hope he had learned from his infamous Christmas in Cambodia canard. But no, instead he falls into a pattern. Roger L. Simon points out:
…the obvious point remains—he has a casual relationship with the truth and has been willing to bend it for his own purposes for decades.
Finally, Redstate has collected a list of Kerry's specific quotes on the matter.
Christmas in Cambodia again? You bet!
Football Fans for Truth have noted a seeming problem with Kerry's seared, seared memory of Game 6 of the 1986 World Series. Either that or he has a clone that goes to banquets over a hundred miles away.
overlawyered.com has a sneak peak at The Incredibles. I'm looking forward to seeing it.
The new movie's hero, Bob Parr, a.k.a. Mr. Incredible, after all, has been driven into middle-aged retirement and the Superhero Relocation Program by a flood of lawsuits brought by personal-injury lawyers representing people Mr. Incredible has saved but who later complain of things like neck problems.
This morning's Washington Times has an article claiming that Kerry never met with the members of the UN Security Council as he had claimed in more than one occasion, including the debates.
I went to meet with the members of the Security Council in the week before we voted. I went to New York. I talked to all of them, to find out how serious they were about really holding Saddam Hussein accountable.
The Times' research:
But of the five ambassadors on the Security Council in 2002 who were reached directly for comment, four said they had never met Mr. Kerry. The four also said that no one who worked for their countries' U.N. missions had met with Mr. Kerry either.
The former ambassadors who said on the record they had never met Mr. Kerry included the representatives of Mexico, Colombia and Bulgaria. The ambassador of a fourth country gave a similar account on the condition that his country not be identified.
It could be that Kerry will claim that those other countries didn't count and he only met with the permanent members of the council or some such garbage. This is similar to his discounting of many members of the coalition of the willing. He did meet with some members:
After conversations with ambassadors from five members of the Security Council in 2002 and calls to all the missions of the countries then on the panel, The Times was only able to confirm directly that Mr. Kerry had met with representatives of France, Singapore and Cameroon.
In addition, second-hand accounts have Mr. Kerry meeting with representatives of Britain.
So, his comments were perhaps only puffery, but he has made a big deal about integrity lately…
Richard Posner comments on law reviews:
…in other academic fields, except law, the most prestigious journals are edited by seasoned specialists, usually professors, who have had years of experience both as editors and as scholars in the field covered by the journal.
Brian Leiter, commenting on the above article, goes on to say
…the best interdisciplinary work now appears in one of the proliferating faculty-edited journals. The “elite” law reviews are largely left with the dross: mostly bad interdisciplinary work (some good stuff at the law schools where the law reviews consult the faculty), and an occasional useful article in constitutional law or some doctrinal topic vexing the courts. Is this really worth consuming hundreds of thousands of hours of time of the nation's best law students? Hardly.
I will urge my father, on the Ave Maria School of Law Law Review to contemplate a response.
Captain Ed accurately points out It was a mistake to tell the American public that
With the same energy… I put into going after the Viet Cong and trying to win for our country, I pledge to you I will hunt down and capture or kill the terrorists before they harm us. And we will wage a war on terror that makes America proud and brings the world to our side.
Captain Ed makes it pretty clear that the energy Kerry put into the Viet Cong was at best misdirected:
John Kerry went after the Viet Cong for only one-third of his commitment, bailing out by using a little-known regulation that allowed a reassignment after three in-theater Purple Hearts, which he collected for uncommonly minor wounds (and at least one of them under less-than-honest circumstances). He was the only Swiftboat officer to leave the theater before one year without suffering a disabling injury. After his return, he attacked the United States and its soldiers in Vietnam, publicly siding with the Viet Cong and denouncing our efforts to “go after” them as mass murder. He rejected the fight against the Viet Cong so thoroughly that he organized massive demonstrations against it, even publicly repudiating his own service by tossing his medals/ribbons/whatever over the White House fence.
If Kerry put as much energy into execution as spin-doctoring maybe he could be somebody. However, he sounds more like a “merit badge collector” than one who displayed real meritorious conduct.
Tammy Bruce has a few comments about Kerry and Edwards commenting on Mary Cheney. She believes the “gay elite” dislike Mary Cheney because she doesn't toe their party line on how to be gay and so they encouraged Kerry to comment on her. Of course, most of us thought it was a distasteful display of political opportunism to bring it up at all.
Wonkette uncovers the pool report on the Great Duck Hunt in Ohio today. The reporters were not allowed to accompany so they began speculating. Most popular speculation:
He returns victorious, but with Osama bin Laden, who had been hiding out in the backside of the farm. Turns out that immediately after President Bush outsourced the capturing of him in Tora Bora to the Afghan warlords, Mr. Bin Laden climbed into a container of poppy gum and arrived through a port in Newark. The container, of course, went uninspected. With so few police officers on the street, Mr. Bin Laden had no problem wandering America unmolested.
At least they have a sense of humor about Kerryganda.
Still no word on whether he shot his own duck or someone did it for him. It's the difference between a sitzpinkler and a hunter, in my humble opinion.
Not far away in geological terms my Dad won a car at a Judge's trap shoot with fellow law students. I'm sure he could get a duck if he wanted to, but he prefers the wiley untamed turkey.
Update: Cheney, who is also in Ohio, could not resist commenting:
I understand Senator John Kerry is in Ohio today too, the Senator who gets a grade of F from the National Rifle Association went hunting this morning. I understand he bought a new camouflage jacket for the occasion. Which did make me wonder how regularly he does go goose hunting. My personal opinion is that his new camo jacket is an October disguise, an effort he’s making to hide the fact that he votes against gun owner rights at every turn. But my fellow sportsmen, this cover-up isn’t going to work. Because you and I know the second amendment is more than just a photo opportunity. Senator Kerry’s spokesman says that the hunting trip and going, watching baseball games are part of an end of the campaign plan to give voters quote, “a better sense of John Kerry, the guy.” Of course he does need a little image repair along those lines. You know he said his favorite Boston Red Sox player was Eddie Yost, but of course Yost never played for the Red Sox. And Senator Kerry is the guy who believes Buckeye Football is played in Michigan. So, well, we’ll see.
The Belgravia Dispatch has a summary of UBL videos and audio, and relative opinions on their validity.
OpinionJournal points out the curious translation of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone into Latin and Ancient Greek. As someone who took two years of Latin in High School, and learned more English in the process than he did in English class, I find it amusing. I doubt I remember even the barest amount necessary to read the book.
I also find it amusing that they don't know what's driving the decision:
For his part, Andrew Wilson, the retired British secondary-school teacher who translated Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (as the first Harry Potter book is titled outside the U.S.) into the language of Plato for Bloomsbury, wouldn't be surprised if J.K. Rowling, the author of the best-selling series, was behind the decision to translate it into Ancient Greek, a language so dead that modern Greeks are fond of saying of it, “It's Greek to us!”
J.K. Rowling is now one of the most affluent people in England, and I wouldn't doubt she would spend money on things that were not immediately profitable. However, as a gag gift such books may be popular after all.
Mr. Wilson, the Potter translator, is no stranger to this objection; he's been asked more than once by sniffy fellow classicists why he would bother with such a frivolous project. His answer is as refreshing as it has been, by his account, effective in silencing the critics. “I did it for the money,” he announces cheerfully. That's an answer that makes sense in any language.
So, this Christmas, keep an eye out for Hareios Poter Kai he tou Philosophou Lithos and Harrius Potter et Philosophi Lapis, in hard back, at $15 each.
We watched all four debates. We looked at and rejected the after-debate spin and poll. We looked up quotes. We met candidates at the county fair. And last night we looked through the voter's pamphlet, poked out our hanging chads, and voted absentee. I mailed the completed forms from the Chevron this morning.
Please stop sending me hit pieces designed to change my vote. It won't work (legally) at this point.
I'm Josh Poulson and I approve this message.
As the T-shirt (or bumper sticker) says, “I worked 20 years in the Senate and all I got was this lousy record.” The Volokh Conspiracy rounds up the facts on Kerry's record on writing bills and getting them passed:
Five for sure:
Two with minor modification:
And four joint resolutions:
Sure seems like a lot for twenty years. Perhaps if he actually showed up for work it would have been better.
So, much analysis has been done on Theresa Heinz's publicized portions of her tax return and it while I'm sure she intended to deflect criticism, I think she is sure to draw it.
Bottom line from the Wall Street Journal article “:Teresa's Fair Share:”
Mrs. Kerry paid $627,150 in taxes, for an overall average federal tax rate of only 12.4% on her $5.07 million in total income.
How could that be? Because $2.78 million of that income came from tax-exempt interest on “state, municipal and public entity bonds.” Finally we get a picture of the rich fatcats that her party appears to despise: people that can afford to invest in such tax avoidance schemes. The top 50% of taxpayers paid an average rate of 15.9%, and the average rate of all people that paid taxes is 14.2%. Both numbers are significantly higher than hers.
So the Kerry solution is to tax everyone making more than $200,000 at higher rates, except for the fact that such shelters would still exist. Half of her income would still be tax-exempt, but the remainder would be taxed at a higher rate.
So who really suffers? The Journal article today lays it out in black & white:
The people who won't be able to escape these higher rates are two-earner couples on mid-career salaries, or small-business owners who pay taxes as subchapter S companies at individual rates, or pensioners who've saved all their lives to build a nest egg and are now living off dividends. Mr. Kerry calls these people “the rich,” but we know a lot of them who are decidedly middle-class and who certainly can't afford the five homes that the Kerrys own.
Frankly, I like the idea of a nationwide sales tax at 10%, a statewide one at 5%, with no exceptions for any purpose, and a constitutional amendment illegalizing income tax and property tax. Let the government run on its ability to enhance productivity and perhaps use fees, and not its ability to siphon away the lifeblood of the economy.
It's been a while I've been to see something made by Trey Parker and Matt Stone, generally because it's hard to see their deliberately offensive material when there's kids in the house. Even so, one likes their ability to take pot shots at almost everyone. Last night's movie had its share. Last night's movie also had its share of humor that was a little too repetitive.
The premise of the movie, as rewritten by Fox News to be readable by the general public, is that people in the world fall into three groups: sissies, jerks, and psychos. It's up to the jerks to stop the psychos and up to the sissies to keep the jerks from being totally carried away. It's a decent premise, although the way it was presented was offensive to my wife and she rejected the message on that basis.
However, much of the movie is spent being rude to beloved or hated icons. Seems enough like satire to me. Most actors and entertainers who speak about politics are fair game. Michael Moore gets particularly unbecoming attention as a putrid, fat suicide bomber. The movie Pearl Harbor and Ben Affleck are derided in song (although it gives credit to Cuba Gooding, Jr.). Most of the actors pictured were unliked by me before the movie started, because of their idiotic statements in the past not because of what they do in the movie.
Some of the in-jokes about movie-making were paricularly uproarious for me. The ong “Montage” had me rolling on the floor. I snickered when a marionette tried to point to the heart of another. I loved the goldfish in the background of the submarine scenes. And the ferocious “panthers” were not to be missed. Nods were mode to movies, especially Kill Bill and Thunderbirds. Almost any action movie cliche gets coverage. Even the stroll through Washington, DC to see the monuments to our forefathers is ironically pictured with puppets in familiar poses.
I suspect I was one of the few that got the philosophical in-joke of calling the bad guys “malignant narcissists.” Tammy Bruce will be so happy. Too bad many conservatives won't see this movie because it is so offensive.
Many have noticed the irony of the Team America destroying cultural treasures wherever they go to defeat terrorists. I found that to be funny. Although I admit I don't have a lot of love for the bribe-taking French so there was no love lost, for me, to see the destruction of the Eiffel Tower, the Arc d'Triomphe, or the Louvre. The rampage in Egypt was similar but not as heart-felt.
Scatalogical humor abounds, including puppet sex, throwing up, bad words, sodomy and the memorable theme song. Par for the course for these South Park creators.
The movie will offend most, and it spends too much time on certain gruesome moments, but ultimately I liked it. I felt it picked more on the sissies than it did the jerks. I never really cared about the story of psychos except the indomitable Kim Jong Il. And to the chagrin of the actors depicted, I don't much care for them either. It's a pity that Matt and Trey did not use their Dubya and Kerry puppets that they made. It would have been nice to see them lampooned in Team America fashion.
Many in Hollywood are appalled because the message of the movie is generally supportive of the idea of pre-emptive war to stop psychos from destroying the world. Such is life. I'm glad that these two guys that made their fortunes non-traditionally can thumb their noses at Hollywood elitists.
The New York Times magazine interviewed John Kerry and the subject, oddly enough, turned towards terrorism and what he would do about it:
We have to get back to the place we were, where terrorists are not the focus of our lives, but they're a nuisance.
As a former law-enforcement person, I know we're never going to end prostitution. We're never going to end illegal gambling. But we're going to reduce it, organized crime, to a level where it isn't on the rise. It isn't threatening people's lives every day, and fundamentally, it's something that you continue to fight, but it's not threatening the fabric of your life.
This quote is rather telling, and there's a reason why the Bush/Cheney campaign has picked up on it. It speaks to denial of a problem. It's a pity that Wednesday's debate is unlikely to spend any significant time on it.
OpinionJournal's “Best of the Web” mailing picked up some comments on this. James Lileks says it the best where he says
But that's not the key phrase. This matters: We have to get back to the place we were.
But when we were there we were blind. When we were there we losing. When we were there we died. We have to get back to the place we were. We have to get back to 9/10? We have to get back to the place we were. So we can go through it all again? We have to get back to the place we were. And forget all we’ve learned and done? We have to get back to the place we were. No. I don’t want to go back there. Planes into towers. That changed the terms. I am remarkably disinterested in returning to a place where such things are unimaginable. Where our nighmares are their dreams.
We have to get back to the place we were.
No. We have to go the place where they are.
This is the idea that I have so much trouble getting across to people, although I've tried many ways. It is not enough to defend ourselves by securing the border. It is not enough to defend ourselves by putting more cops on the street. Cops deter some by their presence but for the most part they are responders. Securing against a threat and responding to a threat are indeed two legs of the secure response. But it is not enough.
There are several security strategies, as often commented upon by Bruce Schnier in respect to computer security: barriers, authentication, compartmentalization, trusted people, and counterattack. We need to press on all these fronts.
It's hard to get across to people that we cannot close the borders. We couldn't do that if we had ten times the military we have today. They are huge! We have strengthened those barriers, but not much.
It's hard to get across to people that we need to be able to identify people and their past history. The libertarian in me hates the idea of universal identification, but I'm more and more of the opinion that people need to know who everyone is and what their background is. My recent troubles with whom I affectionately term “The Loch Ness Contractor” and his past failed business ventures and his current so-to-be-legal trouble with me make that clear.
It's hard to get across to people that we do not need to centralize, and that it's better to have decentralized autonomous units doing the work we need to do. In fact, I like the idea that I live over ten miles from a major population center. I like the idea that I rely on satellite traffic for my Internet access (sometimes, boy it can be slow). I like the idea that if the head is knocked off of any organization to which I belong it can regrow and continue.
Trusted people. This concept does not get pushed as much as it should. Certain types of organizations and people don't like them. Look at the Federal Flight Deck Officer (FFDO) program that barely allows certified and tested pilots to carry guns in the cockpit after a year of arduous crap and volumes of rules. It's ridiculously overengineered and is only there because of massive public outcry. Annie Jascobsen's frequent columns on Air Marshals paint a similar picture. Frankly, I am a believer in “expert” driver's licenses and concealed carry permits because it gives the opportunity for people to learn more than some bare minimum and get duty, recognition and responsibility for it.
Finally, there's counterattack. It's not enough to minimize the impact of terrorist activity. We have to go after them and destroy their ability to continue and punish them for what we can prove. It's obvious to me. I don't care how big and strong your shield is. You will eventually fail while that gladiator is banging away on it. The saying goes that they only have to be right once and we have to be right every single time. It's a horrific equation.
Kerry is right in one respect. There will always be people tempted to commit terrorism. However, if we make it expensive, difficult, and likely to fail and make it clear that there is no safe haven in the world (once identified), there will be a lot fewer people willing to go through with it. If that's what John Kerry meant, he should have said it a great deal better. Saying “We have to get back to the place we were” does not speak of progress, it speaks of putting the genie back in the bottle.
From Beldar Blog we are reminded that John Kerry forgot at least one person in the room that earned enough to be affected by his proposed tax hike, but he remembered her by the end of the day.
What you hear in the press and what really isin the Duelfer Report are probably wildly diverging. Let's look at some important issues after first pointing you to Fox News's copy of the summary.
The President said that the Duelfer report shows Saddam Hussein was gaming the system to get himself money. From the key findings on the first page of the summary we have these items:
He [Saddam Hussein] wanted to end sanctions while preserving the capability to reconstitute his weapons of mass destruction (WMD) when sanctions were lifted.
By 2000–2001, Saddam had managed to mitigate many of the effects of sanctions and undermine their international support.
But the real shocker comes in the fact that while Saddam had no WMD, and no WMD program, it was a surprise to his top generals when he admitted it just before the war started.
This reminds me of the story of the man who complained about getting shot by a cop. He was asked, “Why did you point a gun at the cop?” The answer? “I wanted to scare him.” But when you scare a cop he doesn't run away, he deals with the threat.
The other shocker is that Saddam Hussein appears have bribed Jacques Chirac into voting against sanctions and war against Iraq.
Memos from Iraqi intelligence officials, recovered by American and British inspectors, show the dictator was told as early as May 2002 that France—having been granted oil contracts—would veto any American plans for war.
(Quote from news.scotsman.com via Captain's Quarters Blog.)
Captain Ed thinks this is a blow to the remaining credibility of the UN. I think it is also a blow to the credibility to Kerry's assertion that current coalition is a bad one, and Kerry's would be a good one. Well, who would be in Kerry's coalition that isn't in the current one? Which allies in our current coalition remain in Kerry's now that he has insulted many of them, including the Iraqi leaders and defense forces themselves?
EDWARDS: […] Not only that, 90 percent of the coalition casualties, Mr. Vice President, the coalition casualties, are American casualties. Ninety percent of the cost of this effort are being borne by American taxpayers. It is the direct result of the failures of this administration.
IFILL: Mr. Vice President?
CHENEY: Classic example. He won't count the sacrifice and the contribution of Iraqi allies. It's their country. They're in the fight. They're increasingly the ones out there putting their necks on the line to take back their country from the terrorists and the old regime elements that are still left. They're doing a superb job. And for you to demean their sacrifices strikes me as…
EDWARDS: Oh, I'm not…
CHENEY: …as beyond…
EDWARDS: I'm not demeaning…
CHENEY: It is indeed. You suggested…
EDWARDS: No, sir, I did not…
CHENEY: …they shouldn't count, because you want to be able to say that the Americans are taking 90 percent of the sacrifice. You cannot succeed in this effort if you're not willing to recognize the enormous contribution the Iraqis are increasingly making to their own future. We'll win when they take on responsibility for governance, which they're doing, and when they take on responsibility for their own security, which they increasingly are doing.
Annie Jacobsen added an eighth part on October 1st, and I missed it until now!
To date, the FAMS continues to publicly deny that any evidence of probing exists on commercial aircraft. Meanwhile, speaking on conditions of absolute anonymity, pilots, flight attendants and Federal Air Marshals (via media outlets) are saying probing is occurring and have been literally begging for the authorities and the general public to listen to them.
Hollow point bullets may be designed to mushroom inside the human body, but if they're the kind of hollow point bullets the FAMS uses—SIG–357–HP's according to my sources—then they travel about three times faster than other bullets. Couple this with the incredibly close quarters on an airplane, and you've got a problem. When fired at close range, the bullets used by the FAMS will likely travel not just through the targeted assailant, but also through up to four more bodies—and possibly through the cabin wall of an aircraft.
Argh! I don't know of any .357 SIG hollowpoint that travels three times faster than other, presumably handgun, bullets. They could be edging past 1400fps, perhaps. Perhaps this is just under 30% faster than a typical large-bore carry round like 200gr .45 ACP hollowpoint at around 950–1000 fps (my favorites are from ProLoad), and less than 10% faster than a typical 9mm carry round. Certainly you could claim they are twice as fast as the large bore wadcutter target loads people shoot in bullseye matches.
Perhaps it's okay to worry about overpenetration, a little, except we've never had an Air Marshall shoot on a plane at all. Frankly, if they did have to shoot, we'd prefer the terrorists to be dead for sure. Overpenetration means less energy spent on the terrorist, but if they were wearing body armor (and it's still legal to fly with body armor) you'd want to penetrate more than your typical carry load.
Besides, a good Air Marshall will kneel behind the concealing seats and shoot the terrorists in the head. Little tiny holes in the ceiling don't do much to aircraft. It's kinda like thinking that the Earth is annoyed by oil wells.
In the fruitless search to differentiate himself in the electorate, John Forbes Kerry seems to have found a groove. Via Blogs for Bush we find a round-up of Kerry debate quotes collected by James Taranto's “Best of the Web” column at OpinionJournal. They have a curious pattern where Kerry says something reasonable (sounding a lot like Bush) and then adjusting the position with the word “but.” Seems like a debate tactic because it is used so much.
This will be explained away as nuance. To me it sounds like marketeering. “We can do everything that other product can do. But, wait, there's more!”
From Gizmodo, known for letting us know about new gadgets, they report that the IBM Thinkpad T42 will include the first fingerprint scanner biometric security device in a laptop.
It would be a nice feature if it's really secure and it gets me past all these passwords I have to store in Password Safe and Mozilla's Password Manager.
Cox and Forkum submits this response to the “global test”
Hat tip to Demure Thoughts