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Sunday September 5, 2004

I suppose that there are enough "irregularities" in Kerry's Navy records to spur an inquiry. Indeed, an inquiry has begun. Kerry has consistently said (and the MSM has parroted) that the Navy records support Kerry. Now we'll see:

In a fresh blow to John Kerry's flagging presidential campaign, the Pentagon has ordered an official investigation into the awards of the Democratic senator's five Vietnam War decorations.

News of the inquiry came as President George W Bush opened an 11-point lead over his rival - the widest margin since serious campaigning began - according to the first poll released since last week's Republican convention.

A navy spokesman confirmed on Friday that the inspector-general's office at the Pentagon had authorised the inquiry. "It is the responsibility of all personnel to correct errors in official records," said the spokesman. Another official said privately: "There's a feeling that it's time to deal with this thoroughly, once and for all."

Among other records to be examined is a citation of Mr Kerry for bravery that was apparently signed by the former Navy Secretary, John Lehman, and contributed to the award of his silver star. The glowing citation states: "By his brave actions, bold initiative and unwavering devotion to duty, Lt Kerry reflected great credit on himself." But Mr Lehman denies all knowledge of the commendation. "It's a total mystery to me," he said last week. "I never saw it, I never signed it and I never approved it." The inquiry will also investigate other reports and citations leading to the award of Mr Kerry's medals.

At a "celebratory" conference to commemorate the third anniversary of the 9/11 attacks (and in the wake of the tragedy in Russia), a leading Islamic cleric had this to say:

Omar Bakri Mohammed, the spiritual leader of the extremist sect al-Muhajiroun, said that holding women and children hostage would be a reasonable course of action for a Muslim who has suffered under British rule.

But, of course, he tempered his remarks with:

"As long as the Iraqi did not deliberately kill women and children, and they were killed in the crossfire, that would be okay."

See, he's really not a monster after all. And based on their actions throughout the world, we all know this to be true:

"The Mujahideen [Chechen rebels] would not have wanted to kill those people, because it is strictly forbidden as a Muslim to deliberately kill women and children. It is the fault of the Russians," he said.

Strictly forbidden. Of course. But why, then, has there been aPA Indoctrination of Children to Seek Heroic Death for Allah? Ralph Peters says it straight:

Those Muslims who preach Jihad against the West decided years ago that killing Jewish or Christian children is not only acceptable, but pleasing to their god when done by "martyrs."

It isn't politically correct to say this, of course. We're supposed to pretend that Islam is a "religion of peace." All right, then: It's time for Muslims to stand up for the once-noble, nearly lost traditions of their faith and condemn what Arab and Chechen terrorists and blasphemers did in the Russian town of Beslan.

If Muslim religious leaders around the world will not publicly condemn the taking of children as hostages and their subsequent slaughter — if those "men of faith" will not issue a condemnation without reservations or caveats — then no one need pretend any longer that all religions are equally sound and moral.

The General Manager of Al-Arabiya TV gets it too:

"The Painful Truth: All the World Terrorists are Muslims!" So writes Abdulrahman al-Rashed, general manager of Al-Arabiya television, in his daily column published in the A-Sharq Al-Awsat newspaper this weekend.

"Our terrorist sons are an end-product of our corrupted culture," writes Al-Rashed, as reported by Susan Sevareid of the Associated Press. He reviewed a list of recent attacks by Islamic extremist groups - in Russia, Iraq, Sudan, Saudi Arabia and Yemen. "Most perpetrators of suicide operations in buses, schools and residential buildings around the world for the past ten years have been Muslims," wrote Al-Rashed. He said that Muslims should not try to ignore the facts, and that they will be unable to cleanse their image unless "we admit the scandalous facts... The picture is humiliating, painful and harsh for all of us."

If you really want to subject yourself to such rantings, check out Her Dowdiness and Sir Franklin the Rich.

Saturday September 4, 2004

Frances Approacheth

2100Z SAT SEP 04 2004









64 KT....... 60NE 60SE 50SW 65NW.
50 KT.......130NE 120SE 80SW 120NW.
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12 FT SEAS..350NE 180SE 180SW 350NW.


INITIAL 04/2100Z 26.9N 79.3W 90 KT
12HR VT 05/0600Z 27.2N 80.4W 95 KT
24HR VT 05/1800Z 27.8N 81.9W 60 KT...INLAND
36HR VT 06/0600Z 29.0N 84.0W 60 KT...OVER WATER
48HR VT 06/1800Z 30.5N 86.0W 60 KT...MOVING INLAND
72HR VT 07/1800Z 32.5N 89.0W 30 KT...INLAND

Terrible carnage in Russia. There are many pictures of it on the internet, but please, think before you see them because, after you do, you cannot "unsee" them. It's a horrible, horrible tragedy that you wouldn't want on your worst enemy. Going after children. What evil. You do not and cannot negotiate with people like this--you just kill them. It's like the "mad dog" scenario that I've written in regard to the Palestinians. You either cage it so it can't hurt anyone, or you kill it. Simple as that. You cannot attempt to win over the hearts and minds of people who have no hearts and no minds. Of course, that's just me. I'm not one of those smart, fancy-pants, elitist journalists who write for the worlds lefty rags. Consider these:

Putin came to power as a strongman who would sort out Chechnya, The Daily Telegraph noted. "One war and many terrorist atrocities later, he seems further from his goal than ever," it charged in an editorial, while The Independent warned that "the very worst response would be a punitive crackdown on Chechnya."

"Dazed, shaken and bloodied," headlined the International Herald Tribune, which warned in an editorial that Putin had no choice but to negotiate with Chechen separatist leaders. "Unless he now opens a serious negotiating channel with legitimate Chechen leaders, the situation can only get worse," the paper said.

"Carnage," headlined France's Liberation daily, which argued that "the master of the Kremlin has fallen into a trap" and that Putin's hard line on Chechnya had "opened the way for Islamic terrorism".

France's Le Figaro newspaper criticised what it called Russia's "tradition of force," saying that in Russia's recent history "not a single hostage-taking had ended without dozens of civilian deaths."

In Spain, El Pais denounced the "immorality and sadism of fanatics capable of shooting at fleeing children", warning of more trouble to come from a "Chechen cancer that threatens to spread across the fragile Caucasus region".

Spain's El Mundo newspaper urged Putin to accept a United Nations intervention in its southern republic.

Italy's Il Sole 24 Ore charged that Putin had unleashed "the evil genie of the Chechen war", and was now unable to control it.

The German press had stinging criticism for Moscow, with Der Tagesspiegel charging that Russian forces had made "fatal mistakes" and Die Welt saying they had seemed "overwhelmed".

"Putin's roulette," headlined Turkey's Vatan daily, which blamed Moscow for turning the siege into a "massacre".

In Poland, Rzeczpospolita newspaper blamed both the "inhuman" behaviour of the hostage-takers and the "incapacity" of Russian forces, while the Gazeta Wyborcza daily accused Moscow of seeking to cover up the death toll.

Top US newspapers decried "chaos on an almost apocalyptic scale", but also had strong words for Moscow.

The Washington Post and The New York Times placed part of the blame on Moscow, insisting it must negotiate with legitimate Chechen leaders."Every parent feels the anguish of the parents of Beslan," The Washington Post said in an editorial. "Russia's abominable behaviour has helped spark but does not excuse Chechen terrorists and their partners in crime. Chechen terrorism makes less likely but no less essential a solution to Chechnya's misery," it added.

The New York Times said the botched rescue attempt by Russian forces raised serious questions about Putin's handling of the crisis, and warned that the Chechen stalemate would ripple beyond Russian borders."Terrorism in the 21st century flows across national borders... It is only a matter of time until the killing itself leaches out of Russia and into the rest of the world."

Just look at that last Times' quote. Only a matter of time? Haven't they been paying attention? THIS IS ISLAMIC TERRORISM--AND IT'S ALREADY WORLDWIDE!

Communists for Kerry have a spiffy website.

Fox News dominated the Republican Convention coverage, doing better than all three networks. Of course the networks still don't get it.:

On his last night in the anchor chair at a political convention, Tom Brokaw of NBC was feeling resigned. The conventions, he said in an interview on Thursday, were mere "infomercials," with little to interest anyone beyond political partisans.

"These events are managed down to the last semicolon," said Mr. Brokaw, who is retiring after the election. "That's why I find it hard to climb those stairs and get into the anchor chair anymore."

Like Mr. Brokaw, a number of television executives yesterday blamed the Republicans and Democrats for the networks' dwindling convention viewership. But as the Fox News cable channel widened its lead in the convention ratings race, other observers suggested that the networks needed to look within.

...Dorrance Smith, the longtime former ABC News executive who is now a television consultant to the Republican National Convention, called Fox's dominance in the ratings this week "truly a seminal event," and said that that development could be interpreted as a serious threat to the identities of the broadcast news operations.

"It never ceases to amaze me how the networks can continue to rationalize their ongoing decline in both numbers and relevancy," Mr. Smith said. "The way that we and the Democrats have programmed the 10 p.m. hour has reduced their impact dramatically. By limiting their coverage, they are forced to show what the conventions have programmed, and it has reduced to a bare minimum their ability to react and opine."

How much should you trust the media when they don't even get this right:

The Associated Press changed "boos" to "ooohhs" Friday afternoon in reporting on President George Bush's first statement to supporters on the heart ailment that has befallen former President Bill Clinton.

In a dispatch sent to subscribers in early afternoon, the AP reported that when Bush, at a campaign rally in West Allis, Wisconsin, told the crowd that he wished to send Clinton his "best wishes for a swift and speedy recovery," the audience "of thousands booed. Bush did nothing to stop them."

Pretty damning, except that AP soon changed its story, only after the original appeared on many Web sites.

Several Web sites revealed that AP "retracted" the report "citing uncertainties about how to characterize the crowd's reaction." The new version moved on the wire Friday described the same incident this way, after relating Bush's remarks: "The crowd reacted with applause and with some 'ooohs,' apparently surprised by the news that Clinton was ill."

A Knight Ridder/Tribune (KRT) report put it this way: "Some in Bush's audience booed when he wished Clinton well...." The AFP wire report declared that after Bush's statement "thousands of boisterous supporters clapped respectfully."

Also, many news outlets picked up the initial story and the error multiplied.

Twenty years ago an error like this would have never been detected on such a wide scale (sure, a few people who were at the rally might have noticed it) and the story would have gone uncorrected. The old media simply can't get away with this anymore--haven't they learned that yet. You can form your own opinion on the crowd reaction by listening here.

Johathan V. Last over at Galley Slaves has more, including a timeline and the author's name:

So the AP: (1) Puts out a story with falsified reporting; (2) Pulls the story; (3) Removes the faulty reporting; (4) Makes no note of its mistake; and then (5) Pulls the byline of the reporter who made the error. If you were going to impute bad faith to the folks at AP--and at this point that's not unreasonable to do--you might suspect that they have pulled Tom Hays's byline to protect him.

More too, at Powerline Blog.

Friday September 3, 2004

Someone mentioned to me yesterday that Kerry will "eat Bush's lunch" in the upcomming Presidential Debates. My immediate remark was that Bush is not exceptionally articulate--especially when unscripted or speaking "off the cuff". Kerry is a much more polishished and refined speaker. Some would say he's an orator. But Kerry is much more likely to say something that is inconsistent with his previous remarks. Bush has been remarkably consistent. That's why there has been so much made of Bush's statement on the Today Show.

The recent falderal over President Bush's comments to Matt Lauer is that Bush no longer believes that we will "win" the War on Terror. It's basic "gotcha" politics. The Bush spinners have "clarified" the President's remarks by saying things like, there won't be a formal treaty or peace talks. Others have claimed that the President was taken out of context and the original question mentioned winning the war in the next four years, which is true--and it's an important distinction. Meanwhile, the Democrats have gone on to claim that they can win the WOT and John Edwards stated that: "This is no time to declare defeat." Clearly, this WOT is unlike any other war we've fought before. Think of it like the "War on Poverty". Yes, we can alleviate the sources and conditions of poverty but, alas, the poor will always be with us. So it is with terrorists.

I think the reason that this got so much media coverage (besides the fact that it is unfavorable to Bush) is that any Bush inconsistency (real or perceived) is a rare thing. Consider some of his major speeches after 9/11. He quickly outlined this new type of war as a long, broad, protracted conflict and we must be patient, steadfast and vigilant. These are characteristics that the President has consistently stressed.

Five days after the 9/11 attacks, the President said:

This is a new kind of -- a new kind of evil. And we understand. And the American people are beginning to understand. This crusade, this war on terrorism is going to take a while. And the American people must be patient. I'm going to be patient. But I can assure the American people I am determined, I'm not going to be distracted, I will keep my focus to make sure that not only are these brought to justice, but anybody who's been associated will be brought to justice. Those who harbor terrorists will be brought to justice. It is time for us to win the first war of the 21st century decisively, so that our children and our grandchildren can live peacefully into the 21st century.

On October 7th, 2001, as the War in Afghanistan began, the President addressed the Nation:

Today we focus on Afghanistan, but the battle is broader. Every nation has a choice to make. In this conflict, there is no neutral ground. If any government sponsors the outlaws and killers of innocents, they have become outlaws and murderers, themselves. And they will take that lonely path at their own peril...The battle is now joined on many fronts. We will not waver; we will not tire; we will not falter; and we will not fail. Peace and freedom will prevail.

In the 2002 State of the Union Address, the President said:

Our war on terror is well begun, but it is only begun. This campaign may not be finished on our watch -- yet it must be and it will be waged on our watch....Our first priority must always be the security of our nation, and that will be reflected in the budget I send to Congress. My budget supports three great goals for America: We will win this war; we'll protect our homeland; and we will revive our economy.

On the eve of the war in Iraq, the President remarked:

Our nation enters this conflict reluctantly -- yet, our purpose is sure. The people of the United States and our friends and allies will not live at the mercy of an outlaw regime that threatens the peace with weapons of mass murder. We will meet that threat now, with our Army, Air Force, Navy, Coast Guard and Marines, so that we do not have to meet it later with armies of fire fighters and police and doctors on the streets of our cities. Now that conflict has come, the only way to limit its duration is to apply decisive force. And I assure you, this will not be a campaign of half measures, and we will accept no outcome but victory.

Finally, last night when the President accepted the nomination of his party, he said:

So we have fought the terrorists across the earth — not for pride, not for power, but because the lives of our citizens are at stake. Our strategy is clear. We have tripled funding for homeland security and trained half a million first responders, because we are determined to protect our homeland. We are transforming our military and reforming and strengthening our intelligence services. We are staying on the offensive — striking terrorists abroad — so we do not have to face them here at home. And we are working to advance liberty in the broader Middle East, because freedom will bring a future of hope, and the peace we all want. And we will prevail.

...This moment in the life of our country will be remembered. Generations will know if we kept our faith and kept our word. Generations will know if we seized this moment, and used it to build a future of safety and peace. The freedom of many, and the future security of our Nation, now depend on us. And tonight, my fellow Americans, I ask you to stand with me.

For nearly three years, the President has struck the same chord, sounded the same themes and reiterated that this will be a long, protracted course of action and that, in the end, we will prevail. His consistency, however, is not likely to make the nightly news.

Nick Schultz is overwhelmed with Laphams.

The true nature of Sadr:

The terms most often used to describe the armed followers of the renegade Shia leader Muqtada al-Sadr have varied depending upon who is doing the reporting. The major wire services seem to prefer the term “insurgent,” possibly to convey some noble quality to Sadr’s band as they battle the ferocious Coalition occupiers and their Iraqi lackeys. With its connotation (to leftists, anyway) of an uprising against unjust rule, the term insurgent also comes in handy when the press provides its daily warning that a massive popular uprising in support of the “insurgents” is just around the corner if US forces and Iraqi police press their advantage too hard.

Another term used to describe Sadr’s group is “militia;” more specifically, the Mahdi “militia.” This term presents a picture of a locally organized, grassroots, “minutemen” type of fighting unit that, in this case, is rallying around the cause of protecting its most important holy city from the infidel invaders.

Too many uninformed and naďve Americans have taken these false terms, and the images they convey, to heart. Now that the fight in Najaf is over, and Coalition and Iraqi forces have entered the buildings immediately surrounding the Imam Ali mosque, the plain truth about these “insurgents” is there for all to see. And, according to military intelligence officials, the investigation has just begun to scratch the surface.

At the height of the fighting in Najaf, The American Thinker relayed a report from the US Central Command which went into detail on the friendly order of battle and the fighting taking place in and around the Wadi al-Salam cemetery. At the time, CENTCOM provided initial findings from US forces operating in the cemetery and noted,

The AIF [Anti-Iraqi Forces] kidnapped their victims, including innocent civilians, bringing them to the cemetery for torture, execution, and burial.

There was no follow up reporting on the victims, or the circumstances surrounding their deaths, but as it turned out, it was only the tip of the iceberg. On September 2, The Washington Times’ Rowan Scarborough reported that military intelligence personnel concluded that Muqtada al-Sadr’s “militia” conducted an organized campaign of terror, torture, and mutilation targeting any Iraqi opposing Sadr’s uprising against the Iraqi government and the Coalition.

US intelligence is now just starting a detailed investigation in Najaf, and while they have found photographic evidence of 15 to 20 mutilated bodies lying in a courtyard, further information may prove this terror campaign was much worse in scope and intensity. After the truce was brokered, Iraqi forces moved into the vacated buildings once held by the Sadr’s thugs, and according to the intelligence report,

“…found approximately 200 mutilated bodies taken by the Moqtada militia for speaking out against Moqtada al Sadr," and "Some of the prisoners had eyes and ears drilled out and others had their limbs and heads cut off. Some males had genitals cut off and shoved in their mouths. There was evidence of rape to men, women and children," according to the report.

Thursday September 2, 2004

This article by Ben Shapiro really spoke to me:

And so tolerance has become the new morality. Those who condemn homosexuality are morally wrong. Those who condemn prostitution are morally wrong. Those who condemn abortion are morally wrong. Tolerance is moral -- and traditional morality is simply intolerant. Moore rips the traditional morality crowd as a bunch of conspiratorial bigots: "Your people are up before dawn figuring out which minority group shouldn't be allowed to marry today."

...The new religion of tolerance provides a slippery slope into moral oblivion. All activity must be tolerated, since sympathy for friends and family trumps traditional morality. With tolerance for sin comes acceptance of sin, and with acceptance, promotion. With Roe vs. Wade, Americans grudgingly tolerated abortion.

With tolerance came acceptance: Those who received abortions were no longer seen as immoral. Instead, they were the moral equals of ordinary mothers. Finally, abortion was promoted as a valuable alternative to pregnancy completion -- and those who condemned abortion were slandered as sinners.

...The same progression holds true for gay marriage: tolerance, acceptance and promotion. The first step is always tolerance, and tolerance must be attained by appealing to sympathy. The easiest way to gain sympathy for social liberalism is to point out close friends or relatives participating in sin, and then dare us to condemn their actions.

So can we condemn Jeannette Angell as a whore? Can we condemn homosexuality or abortion as sinful? Of course we can. Morality cannot survive in a NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) context. If morality extends only to those far removed from our personal lives, it has no meaning. To preserve traditional values, justice must take precedence over sympathy.

Red meat night at the Republican Convention. Bully! Check out The Kerry Spot from National Review Online:

Cripes, the Democratic and Peter Jennings (did I repeat myself?) reaction to Zell has been that he was too mean? The man articulates perfectly the instinctive urge of parents to protect "the cubs," and looks like just the type of mean SOB you want defending your kids from a threat.

Dick Cheney and, to a much greater degree, Zell Miller both scored points. Only Zell (being a Democrat, at least nominally) could take it to Kerry and the Democrats like that. Already, the motif that is starting to emerge is that Zell Miller was angry. ABC's The Note elucidates:

Watch for the close-up shots in newspapers and magazines today and this weekend of an angry Zell Miller in mid-speech if there remains a shadow of a doubt how much of the mainstream press saw Miller's attack Wednesday night. Nobody's gotten out a Sharpie and drawn horns and a little goatee, but it's not far off.

Zell was also riled up by Chris Matthews after the speech. I hear there may be a duel. Captain Ed has some interesting details.

Of course, the Media Research Center has a roundup of media bias.

But, don't expect for the Democrats to take this all lying down. Susan Estrich points to some possible attacks in the war plan:

Will it be the three, or is it four or five, drunken driving arrests that Bush and Cheney, the two most powerful men in the world, managed to rack up? (Bush's Texas record has been sealed. Now why would that be? Who seals a perfect driving record?)

After Vietnam, nothing is ancient history, and Cheney is still drinking. What their records suggest is not only a serious problem with alcoholism, which Bush but not Cheney has acknowledged, but also an even more serious problem of judgment. Could Dick Cheney get a license to drive a school bus with his record of drunken driving? (I can see the ad now.) A job at a nuclear power plant? Is any alcoholic ever really cured? So why put him in the most stressful job in the world, with a war going south, a thousand Americans already dead and control of weapons capable of destroying the world at his fingertips.

It has been said that in the worst of times, Kissinger gave orders to the military not to obey Nixon if he ordered a first strike. What if Bush were to fall off the wagon? Then what? Has America really faced the fact that we have an alcoholic as our president?

Or how about Dead Texans for Truth, highlighting those who served in Vietnam instead of the privileged draft-dodging president, and ended up as names on the wall instead of members of the Air National Guard. I'm sure there are some mothers out there who are still mourning their sons, and never made that connection. It wouldn't be so hard to find them.

Or maybe it will be Texas National Guardsmen for Truth, who can explain exactly what George W. Bush was doing while John Kerry was putting his life on the line. So far, all W. can do is come up with dental records to prove that he met his obligations. Perhaps with money on the table, or investigators on their trail, we will learn just what kind of wild and crazy things the president was doing while Kerry was saving a man's life, facing enemy fire and serving his country.

Or could it be George Bush's Former Female Friends for Truth. A forthcoming book by Kitty Kelly raises questions about whether the president has practiced what he preaches on the issue of abortion. As Larry Flynt discovered, a million dollars loosens lips. Are there others to be loosened?

Ann Coulter gnaws at Kerry.

Kerry displayed a significant portion of chutzpah at yesterday's speech to the American Legion:

"And while your service and sacrifice is well-known," he told the Legion, "what is not as well-known is how hard we fought after we returned from service to keep faith with our fellow soldiers."

Ralph Peters was unimpressed:

Yesterday, John Kerry tried to pander to America's heroes, conveniently forgetting that he'd trashed them for political gain, then shortchanged them throughout his Senate career. Suddenly, Kerry was the man who had fought for benefits for his fellow Vietnam vets, the man who felt their pain (Kerry makes Bill Clinton look like a paragon of integrity). The only veterans' benefit young John Kerry fought for was the right of vets to be spit upon in public.

John Kerry, call the mothership:

An unexplained radio signal from deep space could -- just might be -- contact from an alien civilisation, New Scientist magazine has reported. The signal, coming from a point between the Pisces and Aries constellations, has been picked up three times by a telescope in Puerto Rico.

Tuesday August 31, 2004

Captain Ed is blogging the convention. Don't miss it. Also Hindrocket, he of PowerlineBlog fame, comments on Guliani's speech:

What made Giuliani's speech great and the crowd ecstatic was, of course, his evisceration of John Kerry in the middle portion of the speech. It is well known that Giuliani was once a top-notch trial lawyer who successfully prosecuted Mafia chieftains--not a job for the faint of heart. But his timing and delivery are beyond that of even a superb trial lawyer; in another life, Giuliani could have been a comedian. His facial expressions, his shrugs, were professional-quality ridicule.

Watching Giuliani reminded me of one of the costs of the party's decline in the Northeast. The party's leaders are now generally Southwestern and Midwestern; as such, their styles tend to be laconic and soft-spoken. Giuliani is urban, Italian and Northeastern to the core, and he needed those traditions to deliver the speech he gave last night.

There was nothing new in Giuliani's denunciation of Kerry as a flip-flopper. What made Giuliani's speech nuclear, as I described it last night, were two things: Giuliani's brilliant delivery, and his stature as a hero of September 11. John Kerry simply cannot stand up to Giuliani's ridicule; the contrast between the two men, in style and substance, could hardly be greater. Let's hope the Party finds many opportunities to get Giuliani before the voters between now and November.

Lileks' characterization of Guliani's speech is the quote of the day:

It was like watching a blacksmith at work while he whistled opera.

Johnathan V. Last writes of the differences in the parties.

Dead tree opinion here:

The problem at the outset here is that the Potemkin village clashes with the surprisingly real and engaging one in the streets. Anything that jars political conventions' calculations or clashes with the party line is to be celebrated, but the surprise through the weekend and first day was that "the other convention" overshadowed the real one.

Grigori Potemkin's acolytes plopped Dick Cheney down on Ellis Island, with the Twin Towers-missing Manhattan skyline perfectly framed for TV in the background. About 100 "people" and a marching band were transported to cheer as he declared that President Bush was strong and tough. Local icon Rudy Giuliani, completing his makeover from leader to cashing-in mascot, lent his presence.

Across the harbor, hundreds of thousands of people marched up Seventh Avenue to Madison Square Garden and stole the show. No speeches, no big shot Democrats in the wings or even in the march, just people. The country does not agree with the views of most of them about getting out of Iraq, but the real political impact was a combination of immense size and genuineness of commitment as a contrast to what is turning into a demeaning, ritualistic, borderline cynical embrace of 9/11.

Wow, what insight. Dregding up the memes of "exploitation of 9/11", "protestors becoming the main story" and "masking the true ideology of the party". Did he really need to go to the convention to write this? Did he even go to New York? Or, did he pull a Lapham? (Lapham's the chap who wrote of the convention for Harper's--only problem is that it was published before the convention started. Oops) Nick Schulz, at TechCentral Station, has been noticing instances of the Predetermined Storyline (a.k.a. "Laphams") in the media:

At the recently concluded global AIDS conference in Bangkok, the storyline there advanced by activist groups and parroted by their friends in the press, was a familiar one. The US government, captive to Christian conservatives and American business interests, was undermining the global fight against HIV/AIDS. The truth was much simpler and more uplifting: the US, under President Bush's leadership, has taken charge in the fight against HIV/AIDS. The U.S. has committed more resources to treatment and prevention than all other donor countries and has insisted on quality drugs so resource-poor Africans get the treatments they need without making the AIDS epidemic worse.

As they say, the story practically writes itself. Perhaps the lack of reporting of this story is also an example:

Wonderful news of great significance has been announced, and America’s major media are yawning. Mexico’s state-owned oil company Pemex has revealed that it has discovered a gigantic new oil field, one capable of delivering millions of barrels a day of new capacity to the thirsty world oil market. No lengthy and potentially risky tanker voyages will be required to supply America with this black gold, either.

The Middle East’s lock on world oil reserves has been diminished. Mexico will vault into the first tier of world oil suppliers, ahead of Iran, and just behind Iraq. The wealth accumulation and jobs generated by this find will relieve pressure on Mexico’s poor to illegally emigrate to el Norte for survival. All in all, a pretty big deal, I think.

...The idea that enormous pools of oil are still waiting to be discovered in our own neighborhood is simply not very attractive to journalists who have committed themselves to the view that we are running our of oil, that we have to accommodate ourselves to the Arab and Islamic oil potentates, and that consumption of energy is ruining the planet. If ever there were an instance of the media lens focusing only on the news it wants to see, this is it.

David Brooks, writing in the NYT, says that the Republicans on display are "obsessed with character" and that they possess the archaic and disdained quality of political courage:

There is something chivalric and archaic about this form of political courage. Churchill and Thatcher had it, so did T.R. But today it is disdained in schools, where gentler virtues are held dear. And the movement-dominated organizations that now dominate our politics hate it. It's no accident Schwarzenegger, McCain and Giuliani are Republican renegades. Fiercely independent and self-reliant, they're viewed with suspicion by the litmus-test boys. Conservative activists actually campaigned against Giuliani in his 1993 mayoral race because he wasn't right on abortion and other conservatively correct issues.

But despite a generation of enlightened edification, this sort of archaic courage still seems to inspire people. This is not the golden age of manliness, but Schwarzenegger, Giuliani and McCain are three of the most popular figures in America today.

And they are here in New York to say that George Bush is fighting the war against radical Islam with their sort of tenacity, their sort of constancy. For ultimately, they are suggesting that whatever mistakes he has made, he has the courage that is required, and his opponent does not.

If Sept. 11 had not happened, I doubt McCain, Giuliani and Schwarzenegger would be as intertwined with George Bush as they have been. But it did happen. And whatever their cultural and personal differences, they do see eye to eye on the global conflict with radical Islam.

Homages to the "generation of enlightened edification" nothwithstanding, I believe both character and courage will be necessary in the four years to come, especially when we eventually have to confront this:

The news from Iran is grim. This Islamic dictatorship--the biggest source of terrorist training and financing in the world and the nation that's doing all it can to stir up trouble in already combustible Iraq--is clearly on the cusp of becoming a nuclear power. The clerical fascists running the country have dropped just about all pretense of their atomic programs being energy-related only.

Why wouldn't Iran go nuclear? Our ten-year dawdle over North Korea's nuclear adventurism hammers home to Tehran's corrupt, totalitarian-minded thugs this inescapable conclusion: Nukes mean respect, mean security--and they grant blackmail power to shake down billions in booty from the U.S. and other Western moneybags.

The implications of a nuclearized Iran are appalling. Fanatics in Iraq, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and elsewhere will be emboldened to undermine existing governments. Israel may well feel the need to strike, just as it did against Iraq's nuclear facility in 1981.

The all-too-real possibility of a violent Israeli reaction--Israel has long considered Iran's black-robed fascists to be its ultimate enemy--may be the only possible deterrent to Iran's final nuclearization. But that's not likely, given that the mullahs have probably dispersed their nuclear capabilities around the country. Iran, moreover, is not defenseless; it has missiles that can hit Israel.

Clearly, Iran saw our appeasement of North Korea and they have witnessed the fecklessness of the IAEA, both of which have resulted in (most probably) the Korean Bomb. Even now, while speaking against the proliferation of nuclear capability, the Russians are actually facilitating Iran's endeavors:

"Russia has cooperated with Iran and we will continue to do so, but like our European colleagues France, Germany, Britain, and the US, we are concerned by the fact that questions are being raised about Iran's nuclear programme," Putin said. "We are categorically against an enlargement of the club of nuclear powers, and that includes Iran," Putin said after talks with the German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and French President Jacques Chirac.

John Kerry doesn't get it either:

A John Kerry administration would propose to Iran that the Islamic state be allowed to keep its nuclear-power plants in exchange for giving up the right to retain the nuclear fuel that could be used for bomb-making, Democratic vice presidential nominee John Edwards said in an interview yesterday.

Edwards said if Iran failed to take what he called a "great bargain," it would essentially confirm that it is building nuclear weapons under the cover of a supposedly peaceful nuclear-power initiative. He said that Kerry would ensure European allies were prepared to join the United States in levying heavy sanctions if Iran rejected the proposal.

Edwards' notion of proposing such a bargain with Iran, combined with Kerry's statement last December that he was prepared to explore "areas of mutual interest" with Iran, suggest Kerry would take a sharply different approach with Iran than Bush would.

They beheaded Americans because we occupied their lands. They beheaded Italians because they contributed to the coalition force. They beheaded 12 Nepalese because they're Hindu. They may behead the French because of a head scarf ban:

A French journalist being held hostage along with a colleague in Iraq called on French President Jacques Chirac to give in to militants' demand to rescind a headscarf ban to save their lives, according to a video shown late Monday on the Al-Jazeera television station. The video was broadcast hours after France insisted it would go ahead with the ban on Muslim head scarves in schools, standing firm against scrapping the law just hours before a deadline set by the captors.

And now, time for a wee bit of levity. Some pithy limeriks attributed to Saddam Hussein:

A swain who worked near the Euphrates
Had quite a smooth way with the ladies:
When he tried for a kiss,
He would not ever miss,
So I had him lowered into an acid bath until his screams woke the dead.

- - - -

A Baath Party bureaucrat thought
He'd defy me and never get caught.
Imagine his shock
When, called in to talk,
He was thrown from the 12th-story window of the interrogation office.

Have fun and amaze your friends with Vedic Math:

Does your mind wobble when confronted by a mathematical challenge more forbidding than two plus two? Do you dream of becoming the kind of person who can rattle off answers to the most complicated sums in the fraction of a second? If the answer is yes, you need Vedic mathematics. Try this for size. What's the square of 65? Simple: just multiply the first digit, 6, with its successor, 7. The answer is 42. Now find the square of the second digit, five, which is 25. Now bring the two together. Bingo, the answer is 4225!

Zero tolerance continues criminalizing childish behavior of children:

An Espanola third-grader was handcuffed and arrested by police after hitting another student with a basketball, the child's mother and her lawyer say.

And this is particularly egregious:

...He told her he was placed "in a dark room with a window, a metal toilet and a metal sink," and that inmates banged on the window "saying they were going to get him and cussing," she said. He said officers told him to stop crying or they'd let the inmates get him, she said.

Greenspan warns again of the looming Social Security disaster. Both parties have been assiduously avoiding this impending crisis for a long time. Hopefully, a second Bush term will address it.