Friday, January 30, 2004
Super Bowl Countdown
Since I may not post over the weekend -- potentially very busy -- let's just get this out right now: GO PATS!
Enjoy your chili cheese dip and beer on Sunday!
John Kerry Looking For A Knock-Out Blow?
According to this Reuters article, it looks like four days before the next set of primaries, John Kerry is set to win another couple states. In fact, he's in the running for all of them, assuming the momentum he has continues. The implosion of the Democrats continues. Don't get me wrong -- he's probably a more logical and sane choice than Howard Dean -- for lack of a better term, he's not quite as far "out there". But still, his hopes of winning the Presidency, assuming something horrible doesn't happen to the country in the next nine or so months, is pretty slim.
It all comes down to his insistence of attacking the idea of going to Iraq at all -- not the way we've been doing it so far, but the very idea of removing Saddam Hussein. Good way of winning a primary, but I don't think he'll be able to shake it if he gets the nomination. In a general election, it doesn't matter that 75% of Democrats vote for his due to their hatred of GW Bush. What matter is that 55% of the voting public won't trust John Kerry with national security, regardless of how they feel about our current President's domestic policies (of which I'm the first in line to criticize). It's about national security, stupid.
I think John Edwards would have a real shot of being the next President, if only the Democrats would open their eyes. Note that I want a viable candidate, and a real race that brings out the real issues facing this country to the table, and not fantasies about Halliburton or Afghan pipelines. John Kerry doesn't fit the bill. If he get the election, it'll be the Bush-haters versus the Bush-lovers, with the independents, for the most part, being forced to give GW four more years.
Winning A Difficult Peace
Victor Davis Hanson hits another out of the ballpark with a new essay on National Review Online. To put the current difficulties in Iraq into perspective, it's a must read. Even though he historically hails from the Left, he presents cutting remarks on his once-compatriots:
Only the ossified Left is shameless enough to have screamed for one year that we were after the petroleum of Iraq, and then harangue that we are breaking our treasury through foreign reconstruction, hoodwinked into thinking Arab natural resources might instead have shouldered the costs of mammoth aid.
Only the ossified Left objects to American foreign aid if it involves first taking out fascists and mass murderers in the bargain.
Only the ossified Left for a year condemned Afghanistan as either hopeless or immoral, but now claims that, in comparison to Iraq, it was a necessary and understandable multilateral response all along.
And only the ossified Left could decry poor intelligence for prompting us to go into Iraq, and then suggest we should have acted earlier on poorer intelligence prior to 9/11, as they now suggest with regard to North Korea.
Beautiful. Are you listening John Kerry?
Thursday, January 29, 2004
Talking to a friend today about the whole Palestinian terrorist issue, I came up with a decent analogy. I know that in the past 50 years, the Israelis have done some things that are morally questionable, and I'm betting that most of them know that. Heck, that's why they go out of their way to have Arab MK's to represent their significant Arab population. They've admitted to problems with their actions and policies in the past. Still, the balance doesn't equal out.
Comparing the bad things that the Israelis have done to their minority population and the population in the West Bank / Gaza Strip to terrorist bombings by the Palestinians targeting civilians is, I think, roughly comparable to the Japanese internment camps during WWII in the United States versus the Holocaust killing some six million Jews. Simply put (and I know that some people out there will regard it as just that -- simple), one is bad, and one is evil. A strong word, evil, but one that fits killing innocent people in cold blood simply because of their race, color, or creed.
Are You Hip? Better Hate Starbucks!
The v-2 Organisation has a great rant about the hip, urban need to hate anything that resembles a chain, especially if it's Ikea or Starbucks. Great stuff. I'd love to see an attempt at a rebuttal from one of the people they're making fun of.
If anyone out there thinks that the Palestinian terrorists are "freedom fighters", and equate them with our founding fathers or anyone fighting an honorable struggle against oppression, you should watch the following video (thanks to LGF). Warning: this video is very graphic, and if it doesn't disturb you, I'd be surprised:
Video of 1/29/2004 terrorist attack in Jerusalem
The wall can't go up fast enough.
Tuesday, January 20, 2004
I Love Wireless!
So, I'm sitting here in the hotel bar with my laptop, connected via 802.11b, having a beer and a cigarette, and catching up work (and blogging, of course). It used to be that only sales people and executives could conduct business over drinks, but no more. Up with the common man! Anyway, the geek in me is completely stoked.
I'm in Houston, where my boss is located, for a few days. The differences between Oregon and Texas is extreme, to say the least, as far as American cities can be. The highs have been in the low 50's since I've been here, and everyone is bundled up, complaining about the cold. While Portland certainly isn't anything like Fargo, we're not completely shocked when snow and ice covers our streets. The little things are interesting, too. The streetlights are setup horizontally, not vertically, like most of the country I've been in. It would be interesting to find out how that happened, exactly. I can't really see any major benefit in either orientation. Every major highway has feeder roads along side them. You can drive next to the freeway, and turn right for business complexes and merchant operations, and turn left every half a mile to get on the freeway. Nothing like that in the Northwest or the Northeast.
There's one thing, though, that's now standard across the country, and Houston is absolutely no exception: Starbucks. Thank God for massive caffeine-pushing chains.
Monday, January 19, 2004
John Kerry Wins
So, the Iowa caucuses are over, and John Kerry won with John Edwards a close second. Howard Dean and Wesley Clark, two of the most anti-war candidates (that possibly could win) lost resoundingly. Wow. I love it when I see conventional wisdom go down the drain.
I must say that for the first time in my life, there is a slight possibility of voting Democrat this fall. Not much, mind you, because of a thousand reasons (about a hundred of which I've gone into on this blog). But a chance, yes. I respect our President greatly, and I was very much behind the Iraq War, and for staying tough in the world of despots and decreases. Still, if a Democratic candidate comes out on top that I believe wouldn't flinch when it came to protecting our nation (like Lieberman, for example), they have my vote.
Why, you ask? Three main reason: first, the deficit and run-away spending that has nothing to do with the protection of this nation. It's amazing to say, but I believe that almost any of the Democratic candidates would do a better job with the budget than President Bush has. He couldn't care less, and I do. The Medicare fiasco is a perfect example of this. If we were running a balanced budget, I wouldn't be so hard on him, but with a 400 billion dollar deficit? Ouch. Second, his hard conservative stance (in the true sense of the word) on social issues. Gay marriage is the ultimate barometer here, and when he said that he'd actually consider supporting an amendment to ban homosexual marriage, well, that scares the Hell out of me. Third, the lackluster job he's done homeland security. Sure, we haven't had an attack since 9/11, but even I can see the gigantic holes in our security. The border with Mexico (which I wrote about last week) is a perfect example of this problem. Secure the border! This shouldn't be a difficult decision to come to. Instead, it's as porous as ever, and a perfect opportunity for our enemies to exploit.
So, we'll see what happens over the next 10 or so months. Maybe the President will get his act together. More likely, the Democrats will elect someone who doesn't say, "Mr. President, you've done an OK job, and I agree with your War on Terror and the Iraq War, but I could do much, much better, and here's how...", but, "Mr. President, we need to always work through the U.N., even with France is holding the only veto. We shouldn't have gone to Iraq and should get out now, regardless of the consequences." You get the idea. Like Howard Dean or Wesley Clark.
Update: Michael Totten agrees with me (more or less). I want to see what Andrew Sullivan says on this topic -- he's been a major force among right-leaning bloggers attacking the President on his fiscal and social policy. No word yet.
Update: I guess this counts, Mr. Sullivan:
For a cultural liberal, fiscal conservative like me, Bush's only current advantage over a centrist Democrat is his conduct of the war on terror. What we'll see in the next few weeks is if the Dems can see this. It's grim news for Bush if they can.
Yep, that pretty much covers it, doesn't it?
Tuesday, January 13, 2004
New Year's Resolution (a bit late, mind you)
Cathy Young from Reason does a great job of pointing out the fashionable silliness of both sides comparing the other with Hitler. Nice job, Cathy. Let's see the NY Post and MoveOn.org sign on.
I'll be the first one to admit that I need to sit down and do some real research on the President's immigration plan. Because of that, I'm not going to really comment on the sound bites that I've heard on television and the radio. I've been remarkably busy lately, and am behind on my politics. They need to invent a pill that allows me to get a full night's sleep in about 4 hours.
I will, however, espouse my opinion about what we should do about it, in my perfect world that'll never exist. If you listen to or watch Bill O'Reilly, as I do when I have time (about once a week), you might have heard his prescription, and it's one that most closely matches mine. First, you have about 10 million illegal immigrants in the US right now (give or take a couple million, and don't give me the "undocumented" spin). It's impossible to round all of them up, and I wouldn't want to if you could. A vast majority of these people are valuable, law abiding members of society, contributing to our economy and bringing in the new blood any country needs to remain dynamic and competitive in the world market of today. I'm a firm believer that, through my own philosophy and through reading a few studies, that the positives far outweigh the negatives. So, the first thing I'd do is give them all amnesty, as long as they came forward to enter the "system" -- either though application for citizenship or a long term worker visa.
There is a problem, though, especially in the age of Islamo-fascism. Having open, essentially unpatrolled borders is an intolerable security risk to our country. I know that if I was a terrorist, and I wanted to bring something deadly into the country, the Mexican border would be a strong option for entry. So, the second thing I'd want to see happen is the true securing of the border with Mexico, as well as better patrolling of the Canadian border and our ports. I don't know how feasible it is to close it off completely, but you can certainly do a better job than we're doing now. Anyone that attempts to cross illegally gets documented and not allowed to enter the country legally for, say, 5 years.
My third step would be to open our immigration policy almost completely to most countries in the world. Citizenship would have to be earned, through being a productive and law abiding guest for a number of years. Just about anyone would have a real opportunity to be an American if they so chose. The catch is, of course, that after the declaration of amnesty and a time period of a year or two, we'd come down hard on illegals. That shouldn't be a problem, though, since there wouldn't be much incentive to be here illegally, unless you have something to hide, such as being a criminal or a terrorist.
So, that's my solution to our immigration problem. Over the next several days, I'm going to try and do some research on Bush's plan, and see how it matches up. Who knows? Maybe his plan isn't politically charged and is actually a good solution to a problem that's been going on in our country for way to long.
The funny thing about my opinion is that both sides of the argument would disagree with me. One side would scream that the damn immigrants are taking away American jobs, which is, of course, complete claptrap. Any economist worth their salt would say that immigration creates jobs. It's not like there's a fixed number of jobs in a given country, and when they're filled, that's it. The other side would scream and say that I'm racist for not allowing anyone to come into the US, stay as long as they want, and never make their presence known to the authorities. Just crazy -- no other word for it, especially these days.
Monday, January 12, 2004
What Happened To Paul O'Neill?
Odd. Now, I understand 60 Minutes putting such an obviously biased story on the air -- yes, they should know better, given they call themselves journalists, but hey, it's Bash Bush time, and the logic can't stop the party. But Paul O'Neill's actions are strange, to say the least. Perhaps I don't know enough about his past and what he's been doing lately, but he did sign on with a known Republican a few years ago, and he appeared bright enough, if not really suited for the job of Secretary of Treasury. His sudden meltdown into the world of conspiracies is, I think, an example of an attempt for payback melded with the curse of the Anti-Bush Flu going around.
Anyway, I have to do it, so let's get going. On the 60 Minutes program with O'Neill, there were two major points. Let's deal with them in order. First, accusations were leveled that as soon as President Bush took office (the first Cabinet meeting, as a matter of fact), he was already asking for solutions for the Saddam problem. He made it clear, it seems, that he wanted rid of the blood thirsty dictator, and he wanted his top advisors -- SecTres included -- to work on the problem and give it high priority.
"From the very beginning, there was a conviction that Saddam Hussein was a bad person and that he needed to go," O'Neill told CBS's "60 Minutes" in an interview to be aired Sunday night.
The 60 Minutes interviewer, of course, was breathless, hanging on every answer and revelation, and making it sound like this was Watergate times a million. Here's the problem -- Bush never hid the fact during his election campaign that he desired Saddam's removal from power. He did say that he was against nation building, but never did he say that regime change of corrupt overseas powers was off the table. Also, it was the policy of the United States government during the Clinton administration that Saddam had to go, as well, even though that president didn't go so far as to commit to a massive invasion to do the job. President Clinton took more of a covert operations and hope for the best kind of policy. The fact that President Bush saw Saddam as a threat to world peace and as an evil man in general speaks well of him, and doesn't imply any about face in policy or any conspiracy. It's simply, "This guy is bad news for us and the world, and I want you guys to bring ideas to the table on how to get rid of him." Only moral relativists, Stalinists, and true America-haters can find fault in that.
Second, and probably the most potentially disturbing part of the interview, was the accusation leveled that early in his administration, Bush and his people were already planning on slicing up Iraq's oil reserves to the world's corporations. Heck, there were plans written up and reports disseminated. Proof, right? Again, 60 Minutes doesn't do their job of investigating. I'd go into it in detail, but others have already done a better job than I could. Essentially, this report was part of the energy plan worked on in early 2001 about world oil reserves, and similar plans existed for other Middle East countries, like the UAE and Saudi Arabia. It was even available a bit ago online without some disgruntled ex-Secretary having to make it public. Read the links -- they're enlightening.
To sum up, it's sad to see this happen. While Paul O'Neill didn't excel at his job, I never thought him this petty or crazy, until now. He's even facing some potential nasty investigations as a result of his haste for revenge.
Thursday, January 08, 2004
Follow Through This Time
President Bush has announced a bold plan for America's presence outside this planet, including goals of a manned, permanent base on the Moon and a manned trip to Mars, some ten-plus years away. Other presidents, most notably his father, have promised similar things, but obviously, it didn't happen. NASA doesn't have any active plans for any extra-planetary manned expeditions. This time we need to follow through with the plans.
My reasons are as follows. First, a continuing, aggressive manned space program will force better and better systems for such programs. To go to Mars, we need better propulsion, radioactive shielding, air and water recycling systems, and a better understanding of the pressures of long space missions on human psychology. These examples, plus countless more will improve as needed to meet goals.
Second, not to sound overly dramatic, but the long term survival of the human race depends upon our permanent presence outside of Earth, and eventually, outside this solar system and the Milky Way. Chances of a planetwide killing asteroid or comet hitting the Earth in our lifetime has been estimated at somewhere between 1 in 2000 to 5000. Those chances are up for argument, but all scientists agree that someday, it will happen. If our race is existing on other planets, we'll continue to prosper. Also, a better understanding of space will help us avert such catastrophes.
Third, it's a goal that our country, and eventually all of mankind, can unify together to meet. It's something that's achievable, positive, and will certainly pay dividends planetside, as well. Eliminating hunger or poverty is a fine thing, but probably isn't something that we can achieve in the near future. The end of war is a wonderful idea, but until just about everyone on Earth agrees on a particular ideology, that's not going to happen either. This is something we can do now.
Let's follow through this time, and start aggressively pushing the envelope of space.
Wednesday, January 07, 2004
The Portland area has been hit with an atypical winter storm over the past couple days, forcing me to stay at home. Yesterday, blizzard conditions at my house in Troutdale (a suburb of Portland), with snow and winds approaching 70 miles per hour, and then freezing rain last night and today. I don't know how people in the mid-Western states deal with this weather -- it would drive me insane. Perhaps I'd get used to it, though, like people do with rain and clouds here. Thankfully, I wasn't one of the 70,000 people in the Metro area deprived of power today. My laptop batteries only last about two hours, so that would be truly scary.
Monday, January 05, 2004
Give Me A Break
As the sage of Little Green Footballs has reported, MoveOn.org has one of the dumbest commercials ever to grace a supposed "serious" political organization's Web site. You've probably heard of it by now: they compare President Bush to Hitler, and our countries leaders to the Nazis. They're not subtle about it -- they come out and say it pretty clearly. Give me a break.
Are there death camps set up in Iraq or the United States, quietly executing millions of Muslims? No. Did we invade Iraq to annex it so we could protect the native Americans? No. Are we massing troops to invade our neighbors in a bid to take over the world? No. Do you hear our President giving speeches saying that "our" people are better by some accident of birth, such as color, race, or religion? No.
Not only is this downright stupid, and a sign of insanity, but more importantly, it's a slap in the face of any real victim of the Nazis. Even in the wake of 9/11, the most horrible terrorist attack in the world's history, our President immediately urged the American people not to take their feelings out on American Muslims... and for the most part, they didn't. Did Hitler do the same on Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass? Of course not.
These people really don't see it, and that's probably the amazing part. A vast majority of Americans hear these comparisons, and they are disgusted. They don't stop and think that maybe the opposition is right. No, they just reel in disgust and are pretty damn likely not to vote for anyone that these people endorse. Sick.
Saturday, January 03, 2004
Bumper Sticker Stupidity
There's not a day I drive around Portland that I don't see some bumper sticker that screams "Help me! I've lost the ability to reason!" Last night I saw one that said, "Why does it always seem there's enough money for war and not enough for education?" I'm paraphrasing here, but you get the idea. After I read it, I had a vision of myself putting another sticker on the other side of the bumper that says, "What good is higher teacher salaries if your child is dead by a terrorist attack?" Is that in bad taste? Hmm.
Here's a couple illuminating sites where you can see the moonbats take their screeds to the bumpers of America: here and here.
Friday, January 02, 2004
Over at my favorite blog, AndrewSullivan.com, they have a guest blogger for a while -- Daniel Drezner. I highly respect his opinions, and so far, he's been doing a great job. If you haven't heard of him (or Andrew Sullivan, for that matter), I recommend adding to your daily read list. Good, thoughtful, level-headed stuff. I especially liked his necessary New Year's post -- a collection of some humorous and interesting links. Yay for easy targets, which he has an abundence of.
Happy New Year 2004!
Well, 2004 is upon us, and it's guaranteed to be interesting, to say the least. This year will hold many things. It's an U.S. presidential election year, and we'll see if our incumbent can hold off the Democratic contender in about 10 months. We'll also see many governing and security duties handed over to the Iraqi people -- hopefully for the better. Are they ready for the responsibility? We'll see, because I don't see our level of involvement in Iraq increasing leading up to the election. This year will also mark the third anniversary of the 9/11 tragedy. As a people, Americans will need to stay vigilant, even (perhaps, especially) without further major terrorist attacks. I keep hearing how short the American people's memory is -- so, this will be another test. I also predict that this year will be a boom year for the economy, the stock market, and will mark the surging return of the software and hardware industries, which I belong to. Perhaps, though, that's just pure hope. In any case, I can promise that it'll be interesting, and that many surprises -- both good and bad -- await us.