Day By Day© by Chris Muir.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Giggle for the day

Yesterday, a pro-Kerry friend of mine gloatingly pointed me to the NY Times story about missing explosives. After castigating Bush & Co. for their "incompetence," he rousingly concluded, "This wouldn't have happened if they'd left Iraq alone. The explosives would have remained under Saddam Hussein's control." I consider that an unanswerable argument, since it exists in an alternative universe of the type painted by Michael Moore, where peaceful Iraqis frolic in fields, and 300,000 Iraqis didn't die at their own Leader's hands. Imagine my amusement, though, to read NRO's estimable Kerry Spot. After analyzing the weaknesses in the NYTimes triumphant story about the missing weapons, Jim Geraghty adds, "You can see this being cited in antiwar arguments, can't you? 'If it weren't for the invasion by the Coalition, these 350 tons of explosives would be safely in the hands of Saddam Hussein, where they posed no threat to anyone!'"

Know your enemies

This just in from Haaretz:

Leading members of the Anglican church will recommend that their decision-making body adopt an anti-Israel divestment policy similar to the one the Presbyterian church passed earlier this summer. The announcement, made yesterday in Jerusalem by representatives of the Anglican Peace and Justice Network (APJN), came at the close of the delegation's 10-day tour of the region.
Nobody can convince me this isn't anti-Semitism pure and simple. If these people were genuinely interested in "Peace and Justice," they'd be condemning those Muslim countries that, as a matter of official policy: (1) stone women to death for committing adultery; (2) kill or severely punish people who do not practice Islam within their borders; (3) cut off the hands of thieves; (4) forbid women from going to school, driving, appearing outside with any part of their skin showing, obtaining divorces, getting custody of children, voting, etc.; (5) routinely desecrate non-Muslim religious sites; (6) fund schools that foment the type of hatred that culiminates in, say, September 11, 2001; etc.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

You'll know him by his enemies

I just saw the strongest argument yet for voting for Bush. This is the latest from our friends at the Guardian, in the UK (the same ones who tried to affect the Ohio vote):

On November 2, the entire civilised world will be praying, praying Bush loses. And Sod's law dictates he'll probably win, thereby disproving the existence of God once and for all. The world will endure four more years of idiocy, arrogance and unwarranted bloodshed, with no benevolent deity to watch over and save us. John ilkes Booth, Lee Harvey Oswald, John Hinckley Jr - where are you now that we need you?
If those are Bush's enemies -- people who call for the assassination of a democratically elected leader -- I'm glad I count myself amongst Bush's friends.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Religion and public discourse

Heard on NPR today the tail-end of some call-in discussion about the role of religion in the current presidential debate. As far as I could gather, the host and callers were dismayed about the fact that some Catholic bishops are urging Catholics to vote consistent with certain fundamental religious beliefs (most notably, of course, the opposition to abortion). The gist of what I kept hearing was that religion must be removed from political discourse. My question was, how can you do that? If religion shapes my beliefs, how can I separate my worldviews from my faith? Does a person who opposes abortion because it disgusts her at a visceral level ("oooh, icky to pull fetal material out of someone with a vacuum") have more political credibility than someone who opposes abortion based upon a religious belief that life begins at conception and is sacred? (BTW, I'm pro-choice up to the fetus's 17th week. Then, I believe only risks to the mother's life can outweigh the mother's obligation to carry the baby to term. It's not a logical position, and certainly not a religious one, but I'll defend it fiercely on visceral grounds.) The fact is, people who do not believe in organized religion have just as strongly entrenched a belief system as those who do. The question then becomes, when does a belief system become something analogous to a religion. If I believe with fervor -- even violent fervor -- that my worldview is correct , and I insist on using all means to impose that view on you, that's a belief system. I don't believe in creationism, but I appreciate how someone who does might resent having evolution foisted on his children. Evolution is, I believe, firmly grounded in science, but it's also a worldview that is antithetical to someone else's worldview. I don't say this to validate creationism; I just say it to point out the fact that we cannot keep our belief system, whether grounded in religion, science, gut feeling, or political indoctrination, out of political discourse. Of course, it is true that the Constitution does not have an amendment stating that science and state must be kept separate, or that gut feeling and state must be kept separate. Only religion is singled out. But that singling out is as much to protect religion as it is to protect those who are not religious. We view it as protecting the nonbelievers from the believers, but the fact is that our Founding Fathers believed that they had to protect the believers from the State. After all, the Pilgrims came here to avoid the imposition of State mandated doctrine. When one understands this historical fact, one can also appreciate that the Founding Fathers would not have been averse to religious input in political discourse; they were averse to government input in religious matters.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Bob Woodward's Book

My friend, an ardent Kerry supporter, insisted I read Bob Woodward's Plan of Attack, which my friend contends is a scathing indictment of the Bush administration. I'm at chapter 5 and still looking for that scathing indictment. So far, I'm impressed with the Bush administration's approach, but we see what we're looking for, I guess. The facts, to the extent that Woodward reports them accurately, reflect well on the administration. What I also saw, which probably affected my friend's perception of the book, is Woodward's inability to refrain from unnecessary and often coded asides. Of Bush's entry into a January 10, 2000 meeting, Woodward says "Bush sauntered in like Cool Hand Luke, flapping his arms slightly, cocky but seeming also ill at ease." What does this mean? This is not a movie script. Did someone attending this inner circle meeting really report this to Woodward? (Although since a lot of the book is aimed at resurrecting Colin Powell, I would have my suspicions about who offered this cinematic moment.) Analyzed down, this is just a bit of editorial nastiness. The same holds true for this bit: "Bush had just read Theodore Rex by Edmund Morris, a glowing portrait of President Teddy Roosevelt and his 'big stick' diplomacy of the early 20th centry. Even a casual reader of the 555-page text, even one inclined to skim, as Bush might have been, could not miss the message...." (Emphasis mine.) Please note the emphasized language. Woodward has not previously given the reader any reason to believe that Bush is incapable of reading a work of popular biography. This is, again, a gratuitous dig intended to clue in the reader that Bush is actually stupid. Or about this description of Paul Wolfowitz: "A 58-year-old Ph.D in political science, with long, trhick, graying hair and a soft, almost rabbinical manner...." There is no such thing as a "rabbinical manner." This is code for "Wolfowitz is Jewish." "The neo-cons are Jewish." This is, again, nastiness. Ultimately, at least up to ch. 5, the facts in this book speak for themselves, and they speak well of Bush and Co. The editorial asides and subtexts do not reflect as well on the book's author.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Why not have questions from people who really care?

Once again, we've had a debate where the undecideds got to dictate the discourse: CPD: Statement on Town Hall Debate: "This is the fourth presidential election in which Gallup has been retained by the Commission on Presidential Debates to recruit a random sample of uncommitted voters from the area around the town hall debate venue. Gallup also did the same thing for a 1992 debate at the University of Richmond (with George H.W. Bush, Clinton, and Perot), the 1996 debate at the University of San Diego (Clinton and Dole), and the 2000 debate at Washington University in St. Louis (George W. Bush and Gore). "The basic procedure is very similar to those used when Gallup conducts a normal poll. Gallup begins with a random probability sample of the St. Louis area, asks people a series of questions to determine if they qualify as an uncommitted voter, and then invites them to be a participant in the debate if they qualify. "Although over 100 participants will be on stage behind Bush and Kerry, the 90-minute format means that only about 20 people will actually end up asking questions. Under the terms of the debate agreement hammered out by the two campaigns, moderator Gibson will select the questioners and will attempt to keep the questions roughly balanced between foreign and domestic issues. " Wouldn't it be a whole lot more interesting if well-informed people with fire in their bellies got to put questions politely to candidates from the other side?

Friday, October 08, 2004

The man with a plan

The current Democratic line is that, in 2003, with the information then available, it was the right decision to go into Iraq. In 2004, when our invasion yielded new information challenging the only information available in 2003, we learned that the 2003 information was inaccurate. Therefore, said Kerry at the first debate, on behalf of the Democrats, we should have known better in 2003 than to go into Iraq. I say, you can only make a decision based on the information you have. The Democrats seem to forget that fact, although Kerry definitely has some plans. The man promises a plan on everything; he just likes to keep the details close to his chest. Kerry reminds me of that classic Monty Python sketch with John Cleese as a befuddled housewife on a talk show who had a new theory about the brontosaurus. She spent a good 10 minutes of the sketch repeatedly stating something along the lines of “This is my theory. I have an entirely new theory about the brontosaurus.” When finally pressed very hard to divulge her theory, she pointed to a picture of a Brontosaurus and announced, “All brontosauruses are thin at one end, much MUCH thicker in the middle, and then thin again at the far end. That is the theory that I have and which is mine, and what it is too.” I wonder what Kerry’s secret plans will finally reveal themselves to be.

The ultimate insult

It’s almost more telling, not that Cheney had never met Edwards, as he'd originally thought, but that he’d met him and completely forgotten him! I almost think the second is a worse insult than the first.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

The true coerced and bribed coalition

Someone I know sides with Kerry in believing that the U.N. is the answer, and that the U.S. should never act internationally without U.N. approval. He was unimpressed by my pointing out that the U.N. has become an utterly corrupt, imbalanced institution, overwhelmed by anti-Semitic (and, by implication, anti-American) governments that are unlikely standard bearers for balanced reasoning. A stunning example of the utter uselessness of the U.N. is the composition of the United Nations' Commission on Human Rights. This year's Commission includes such standard bearers as the Sudan and Sierra Leone. Next year, we'll see Zimbabwe and the Congo stepping up to bat. My friend agreed with me that the great mass of U.N. member nations was a problem, and unlikely to be sympathetic to American concerns, but argued that the Security Council, which has as its five permanent members the United States, France, China, Russia and the United Kingdom, provides a counterweight that can offset this systemic problem. Imagine my lack of surprise when I learned through Power Line that a Financial Times article shows that that Iraq systematically bribed France, China and Russia to ensure that they would refuse any United States initiative to challenge Saddam Hussein. It seems that Kerry was right all along when he spoke of a coalition of the "coerced and bribed." He just misidentified the coalition. It's not the brave nations in Iraq now, it's France, China and Russia, comfortably ensconced on the Security Council, with their troops out of harm's way. Disgusting. UPDATE: Regarding the U.N., see Anne Bayefsky's great article about that institution.