Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Oops: Bush is hurredly trying to tell everyone that, yes, we can in fact win the War on Terrorism.

Yesterday the Today Show aired a clip of Bush saying about the war, "I don't think you can win it." The White House spun that to mean we'll never be able to sign a peace treaty or announce a cease-fire with all terrorists. That makes sense. But Democrats seized the opportunity to paint Bush as less resolved than he says he is.

And as well they should. If Kerry had made that comment, Republicans would be trouncing.

Having fed the Democrats some video fodder for a future campaign commercial, the Republicans' best bet is to let everybody know what Bush said, why he said it, and what he really meant.

Still, this could hurt Bush some. The president is trying to sell himself as the rock that everyone can depend on. People may interpret his slip as meaning the man has doubts.

Our Leader: Once again, I'm going to avoid watching the party convention and let the media filter out the garbage and tell me the highlights (of course I'll be watching The Daily Show, too).

I saw clip of McCain's speech online. I like this line in reference to the War on Terrorism:

I don't doubt the sincerity of my Democratic friends. And they should not doubt ours.
It sure would nice if one party stopped calling the other appeasers and another party stopped calling the other war profiteers. This nation is at war. We're on the same side. We can debate the technicalities, but we shouldn't question any of our Democratic or Republican leaders' genuine desire to defeat our enemies.

Monday, August 30, 2004

Dreamy: Despite our political differences in this country, all of us as Americans can unite behind one idea. Liberal, conservative, and moderate, we're all openly happy that the U.S. Men's Basketball team got their asses handed to them at the Olympics.

Of course we all support our American athletes. And the U.S. teams kicked major tail this year. But the men's basketball team, now made up of a "Dream Team" of NBA players, fell short and won the bronze. And just to top it all off, the women's team won the gold.

We started sending NBA players to the Olympics in 1992 because our amateur team lost the gold to the Soviets in 1988, settling instead for the silver. That first team Dream Team ran into no competition and easily took the gold. Eventually, the millionaire players became cocky and arrogant, barely putting in any practice time at all.

This year's NBA team almost didn't get a medal at all. And to be honest, I'm also glad they got the bronze and didn't leave empty handed. If they didn't get any medal, then the players would have shrugged it off and went back to sleep on their yacht. But by winning the bronze, they had to stand on the bottom rung of the medal stand and listen to some other country's national anthem, their token of failure dangling around their neck.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Star Struck: It appears John McCain is the real star of the show. Both sides are courting the maverick senator in an attempt to curry favor from swing voters.

Both Bush and Kerry have featured McCain in their campaign ads. Even though McCain, a Republican, has endorsed Bush, he has criticized both campaigns for unfair attacks.

Bush has recently asked McCain to work with him to strengthen campaign finance reform measures to stop 527s from their mud slinging. Kerry is now releasing a new ad which includes imagery from Bush ads that attacked McCain during the 2000 Republican Primary.

I'm sure McCain is relishing his role. And it appears the public is still infatuated with him and wishes he were president.

And for that reason it's probably a good thing, for his sake, that he's not. He was in favor of invading Iraq and of many other Bush's policies, something people often ignore when they fawn over him. If he were to become president, he would suffer the fate of all chief executives and would instantly be hated by many.

Slow News Cycle: People say August is the silly month because the political news covers ridiculous items instead of real issues.

I'd say the 527 battles fit that description perfectly. We've got outside, "independent", unaccountable groups making obscure, pointless charges against Kerry and Bush. Now the two candidates are trying their darndest to pull the other into the muddy 527 waters, like some fraternity tug-o-war.

Swift Vets are attacking Kerry, saying he didn't deserve his medals. MoveOn and other groups are attacking Bush, saying he was AWOL in the National Guard. Nevermind that the Navy and the National Guard said both men deserve their awards and gave them honorable discharges. Nevermind that the evidence the 527s present is scant at best. And nevermind this is about something that happened 35 years ago -- Kerry has had another whole career in the meantime, and Bush has been president already for four years.

So Kerry, instead of attacking the Swift Vets, blames Bush for the ads. Bush decides to attempt to ban all 527s from participating in free speech.

The media then adds gasoline to the fire by splashing headlines about the Swift Vets and the Bush campaign having one lawyer in common. Little is mentioned about how common a practice this is, especially considering that several of Kerry's lawyers work for the anti-Bush 527s.

Luckily, August is almost over. But I'm not optimistic that things will get much better in terms of political coverage. Sure the Republican National Convention will be here soon, and we'll get to see the two stand off in debates. But we already know where each candidate stands on the issues. The media isn't going to pay much attention to their political platitudes. Instead they'll be focussing on gaffes and mud, leaving us to dig through the muck to get to the voting booth.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Abusive Actions: A military review panel found that although the Iraqi prison torture scandal was not instigated from the top, some leaders such as Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld created a permissive environment that allowed the abuses to occur.

Essentially, this solves nothing. Both sides will spin this on their own (Repubs: The abuse was made by the hands of a few pesky kids. Dems: Rumsfeld is a Nazi torturer who must resign and be punished). The answer, of course, lies somewhere in the middle. While I believe we can move on from this scandal and still succeed in Iraq, this administration needs to realize how costly this mistake was.

We went into Iraq because the United Nations was failing in its purpose to hold other nations accountable. While the abuses made at the hands of the U.S. soldiers pales in comparison to what atrocities Saddam Hussein committed, the trust in the United States has been severely diminished in the eyes of the world.

The United States has many enemies who are looking for any opportunity to diminish our status in the world. We stayed out of the International Criminal Court for precisely the reason that many hostile nations would use that system to weaken U.S. power any way they could.

No nation is as powerful -- economically or militarily -- as the United States. While it would appear that an international court would be an even-handed way to hold U.S. actions under fair judgement, that power brings resentment from other countries. In addition, that power also brings increased responsibilities for the U.S. -- mainly to act as the goto peacekeeping force anytime a hotspot flares up.

With the United States involved in so many peacekeeping missions globally, then it makes sense to protect our troops from political attacks conducted by an international court. And if China, Russia, and India aren't part of the world court, we should be able to sit out as well.

But the abuse scandal has severely undermined our case for exemption. And now that we're conducting a War on Terrorism, this couldn't have happened at a worse time.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Miserable Failure: Campaign finance reform has failed. The trouble it has caused is worse than what us critics had predicted.

The McCain-Feingold bill has not slowed the flow of money into politics. "Independent" groups are getting all the dough instead of the candidates. While these groups, known as 527s, are getting rich off the soft money ban, they are not being held accountable the way an elected official or political candidate would.

Instead of recognizing the problem for what it is, the presidential candidates are calling for more censorship. Kerry reportedly is trying to pull a critical book off the shelves. Bush wants to shut down 527s altogether.

While the likes of MoveOn.org, The Media Fund, and the Swift Boat veterans haven't contributed anything meaningful to this campaign, they do have a right to free speech. Normally the marketplace of ideas would minimize the impact these people have. But because federal law limits other types of speech, more money is flowing into these people's pockets. And because their speech will be banned 60 days before the election, the money is flowing there in a hurry.

These groups run more negative ads and lie more than candidates usually do. McCain-Feingold has only increased their power.

Monday, August 23, 2004

Sneak Attack: It reveals something that the GOP plan for revamping the intelligence community wasn't passed through the White House before being made public. Sen. Pat Roberts knew his plan would have been killed, so his only chance to make it work would be to go to the public first.

I can imagine that Bush isn't too please. Kerry, of course, continues his pattern of loudly advocating any proposed policy change before even reading it.

As for the proposal itself, I don't see any particular reason why it would improve things. I'm not an intelligence expert, but from what I do know, putting more intelligence gatherers under one roof wouldn't make the agencies more credible. It would only make for a more obvious fall guy when things go wrong. And even though the military's intelligence agencies screwed up royally, I don't think they should be punished by removing almost all their power.

We've had two tremendous screw ups lately -- the 9/11 attacks and the missing WMD. I'm sure the organization and the coordination between the agencies contributed to the screw ups. But the biggest problem was that we didn't have enough intelligence gatherers in the Middle East infiltrating terrorist groups and dictatorial regimes.

I'm not sure how one goes about doing such deeds. But until that is taken care of, the rest of the rearranging the deck chairs is merely an academic exercise.

??? I hate polls. But what I hate most about them is that I'm addicted to them. While they don't make sense and are generally contradictory, they are also usually accurate.

So Web sites like Electoral-Vote.com, which show how the presidential candidates are doing state by state, are feeding my addiction.

But I noticed something strange on that site. While Kerry is ahead in the overall electoral-vote count, he is barely winning in California, ahead by only three points (within the margin of error, I presume). You can tell by the line graph that this is unusual, and I suspect that something must have went wrong with that poll. But if Kerry is struggling in California, he's in a whole heap of trouble. I seriously doubt that's the case, though.

Friday, August 20, 2004

No Middle Choice: It's hard to stay moderate when the choices are so extreme. Bush is too far to the right for my taste. His opposition to abortion, stem-cell research, and same-sex marriage is infuriating.

Then I look at the Democrats, and I just want to cry. We're in the middle of a complex and dangerous war against terrorism, and the Democrats are undermining our efforts every step of the way. President Bush is trying to fight the terrorists. The Democrats are trying to fight President Bush.

That's not to say that we should march in lock step behind our government. But with so much on the line, we should be intelligent about our criticisms. People actually think Bush lied about WMD to start an irrelevant war to benefit his daddy or Halliburton. Such accusations are just plain ridiculous and have been disproven time and time again.

The mud slinging could be dismissed as politics as usual if it weren't for what's at stake here. Liberals are endangering the U.S. by weakening the doctrine of pre-emption. It will be difficult for Bush, Kerry, or any other president to threaten a pre-emptive strike against a hostile nation simply because of the excess scrutiny the Iraq invasion has endured.

This gives terrorist-supporting nations a buffer in which they can harbor terrorists and develop illicit weapons programs to a certain extent, so long as they don't do anything obviously over the top. Hell, all they have to do is claim they'll work with the United Nations, as Saddam Hussein claimed to do, and the Left will automatically side with the hostile state and against the United States, no matter what atrocities our enemies are currently up to.

Kerry is trying to sound tougher now that we're in the general election, and that's an improvement. But the Democratic Party still seems to be run by the likes of Ted Kennedy, Michael Moore, and the MoveOn.org people, all of whom had a prominent spot at the Democratic National Convention. Kerry tries to take the high road while letting his minions preach hate.

But because Kerry isn't distancing himself from the fringe, I can't help but wonder how much of an influence they'll be if he wins the presidency. A President Kerry may know that we have to use force in a certain situation, but I'm afraid he'll cower to the pressures from the Left.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Suspense: My mom called me this morning to rave about what she saw on the Olympics last night, what with U.S. Gymnast Paul Hamm dropping to 12th place then regaining 1st place for the Gold. I read about the story online yesterday, but I enjoyed listening to her excitedly recall Hamm's disappointing fall only to come back with perfect scores to win.

"It's exciting because you don't know what's going to happen!" she said. "It's so suspenseful!"

In case you couldn't tell, my mom is still not connected to the Internet. And I guess there are still some benefits to being behind the times.

Warning! Drinking Rainier Beer can attract -- bears! Busch Beer is safe, but who wants to drink that crap? I'll stick with Shiner Bock.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Focus: The Bush campaign is attacking Kerry over his Vietnam record. That, of course, is just silly considering Bush avoided military endeavors in Vietnam by passing time in the Texas Air National Guard. Kerry earned medals. Attacking that will just remind people of that fact.

But at the same time, I really don't care that John Kerry spent four months in Vietnam. Lots of guys served honorably in Vietnam. The guy at the end of my block sitting next to a cup holding a cardboard sign probably served honorably. That does not a president make.

Kerry, in the opinion of this voter, made a mistake at the Democratic National Convention when he harped on his Vietnam record and said nothing about what he's done since then. While Americans like war heroes, we are also sick of Vietnam and the pain associated with that era. Kerry's insistence that he be judged by his record in Vietnam gives his opponents an excuse to attempt to trash that record.

Now Kerry is arguing that although he hasn't accomplished anything noteworthy in 20 years in politics, he's going to win the war in Iraq with fewer troops by getting more allies involved -- even though our allies don't have many troops to offer, and Bush spent almost a year leading up to the invasion begging other countries to get involved.

This is an opportunity for Bush. He's at his strongest when he has a single focus and campaigns on it. But recently he has been campaigning on nothing but his past accomplishments. I think he's done well, but that's not enough of a reason to give him four more years.

He didn't propose any goals during his last State of the Union address. He's going to have to make up for that by introducing something dramatic at the Republican National Convention. And I'm not talking about a flat tax or getting rid of the IRS. I'm talking about something people care about -- like what's next in the War on Terrorism.

It's not enough to say we'll continue to round up Al Qaeda suspects. That's a given. Americans want to know what the next focus will be. That doesn't mean we need to invade anyone. But that doesn't mean we can't start talking tough to Iran and Syria, and to start a plan of action to get something accomplished.

Bush has shown a lot of courage during his term in office. But lately the he's lost his political courage amid all the heckling from the Left. If he bows down to that pressure and refuses to tell us where he wants to lead us next, then maybe he doesn't deserve another term. I'm still waiting.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Bring the Boys Back Home: Rumsfeld has been pursuing a rearrangement of the U.S. military to make it more agile to confront immediate hotspots. So Bush is putting that plan into action by removing troops from overseas bases in Europe and Asia and stationing them here in the U.S.

Am I missing something?

Bush is right that the current military arrangement is a remnant of the Cold War. But to fight the War on Terrorism, we need more troops overseas, not fewer. With more troops stateside, they'll have to travel half way across the world if a hotspot flares up.

Instead of permanent bases in Germany, we need to keep a base in Iraq and another in Afghanistan. The War on Terrorism won't always involve invasion and liberation of countries. But we need to have troops ready to move out at a moment's notice, and they can't do that if they're here.

Monday, August 16, 2004

It's Back: Vacation's over. It's so nice to come back and see that apparently my blog was down the entire week I was gone. I'm still not sure what's going on. Other blogspot blogs seem to be doing fine. I'm tinkering with the template to see what's causing the problem. Otherwise, I apologize for the downtime and the inability for everyone to visit my site for fun blog reruns. Hopefully I won't break anything else in the process.

P.S. I've now been blogging for one year. And in that time it appears the quality of my writing has improved to roughly the equivalent of a toddler's. I hope you continue to enjoy.

Friday, August 06, 2004

The Moderate is Out: I'll be gone for the week. Y'all be safe.

Duty: Bush's biggest mistake in this war was not getting the American people involved. In World War II, it was simple. We needed to draft every able-bodied man and send everybody else to the factories to build the "Arsenal for Democracy". Everybody was rationing materials and collecting pieces of scrap metal to donate to the cause.

We've become so separated from this war that some people have forgotten that a war is going on at all. The military has done such a great job keeping the terrorists at bay that we're being lulled into a false sense of security. So then we nit-pick specific operations, like going into Iraq.

It was tough at the time of 9/11, because we were in the middle of a recession that was only made worse by the attacks on our financial infrastructures. Bush was smart to encourage everyone to live normally, to buy things, and to not worry about the health of this country. That helped spur the economy back faster than it otherwise would have.

But now it seems like it's too late to get people involved in this war. Hopefully it's not, and this election would be a perfect time for the candidates to propose ways to recruit more Americans into the war effort.

I would like to see a Peace Corps type program sent to the Middle East to help Palestinians and Arabs, bringing economic help as well as a PR boost to the American image.

We should be cutting back on gasoline and other oil consumption. Not only would a decrease in demand help lower the price of the skyrocketing oil costs, but we need to hit the Middle Eastern governments in the pocketbook so they don't keep supporting terrorist groups.

We should organize civilian programs to provide security for subways, skyscrapers, and other potential targets. We could have training programs to teach people how to spot suspicious activities, then rotate shifts at high-risk targets.

These are just a few ideas, and we need more. I don't know if these specific proposals would do anything, but we need to do something. We're all targets in this war, and the fighting will come to our soil again. There's been more division in this country than we can live with in this dangerous period. We need something concrete to bring us together.

Gaffes: Bush is getting slammed by the media for making another Bushism.

Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.
Funny stuff -- better than the garbage Slate keeps running. But aside from a few conspiracy theorists, I'm sure most people realize this was a slip of the tongue and not a revelation that Bush is out to harm the American people.

Then Kerry said something in an interview with George Stephanopoulos that's not getting much attention at all.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: But I'm trying to get here at what happens if circumstances change, if the economy slows down, if your plans end up being more expensive than you think. Are you saying no matter what, the middle class isn't going to get a tax increase?

SENATOR JOHN F. KERRY: That's what I'm saying.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: No matter what. Okay, well, then I want to bring back a conversation I had with the mayor of Scranton yesterday. He thought your crowd was terrific. He thought it was just great. He said this is what he's afraid of.

SENATOR JOHN F. KERRY: Let me make one caveat.


SENATOR JOHN F. KERRY: War, obvious national emergency.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, we're at war now.

SENATOR JOHN F. KERRY: Well, it is possible obviously if the war, we've said that our plan is going to reduce the burden in this war, I have no doubt on that, none whatsoever. We're going to reduce the burden in this war, and if we do what we need to do for our economy, we're going to grow the tax base of our country.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: That's a pretty big caveat.
I can't help but get the feeling that Kerry didn't misspeak, but that he was saying what he really felt -- that he doesn't believe we're at war, except for the conflict in Iraq, and that his main goal is for us to get out of the battles as soon as possible, not necessarily to win.

That scares me.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Desperate Acts: "... al-Qaeda began planning the Sept. 11 attacks in 1998 ..." That would be three years before the attacks. Al Qaeda is a very patient and dangerous terrorist group. They take years to plan and execute attacks.

While the information that Al Qaeda has meticulously been planning attacks on U.S. financial centers is a couple years old, there has been "very recent and current activity" that prompted the recent change to Orange Alert status.

Any attempt to discredit the alerts as fear mongering or politicization without any evidence is pathetic and ignores the reality of the situation we're facing.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Inevitable: It's very likely that another terrorist attack will take place on the U.S. homeland before Election Day for the simple reason that Al Qaeda wants to influence the outcome. This doesn't mean that Al Qaeda is endorsing one candidate over another. They have already vocalized their displeasure with both Kerry and Bush. They won't settle for anybody less than the prophet Mohammed himself.

The reason terrorists will attempt to attack us before the election is because they can, and they want to show that they can. And as we all now know, that's the most morally indefensible reason that anybody could have for doing anything. After their success in skewing the elections in Spain, Al Qaeda wants to show that their low-budget actions can cause massive changes.

So it should be no surprise that we evoked the orange alert over the weekend. This time, our government tried to give us specific information based on recently gathered intelligence by telling us to defend our financial centers.

Of course, politics plays a role, and unfortunately conspiracy theorists are politically active. Critics contend that this terror alert comes right after the Democratic National Convention, and that the Bush administration is just trying to steal their opponent's thunder.

I've said this before. News is going to continue to happen from here to Election Day. Our government cannot simply shut down and not do anything that might influence the elections.

It is amazing, if you think about it, that the Democrats are saying out loud that any focus on terrorist threats favor the Republicans. It's almost as if they're admitting that the Republicans are stronger in this area. Instead, Democrats should be telling us what they would do.

More terror alerts will come before Election Day. Outside incidents will influence this election. The October surprise may be finally nabbing Osama Bin Laden or a massive attack on our soil. I believe it's most likely going to be the Bush administration announcing the capture of an Al Qaeda cell that was about to conduct a massive attack in the United States.

Such an event may seem political. But everything is political. And anything having to do with our nation's security should be political. Vote accordingly.

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