I’m probably not going to watch the debates. I think I’ll just get too wound up in it. I’d rather read the play-by-play afterward.
I'm not real thrilled by what I see in the market. This is the S&P 500. Since March we've had hills and valleys. But each hill has been lower that the one before it and each valley deeper than the preceding valley. For me, cash remains king.
For the first time, Israel staged an attack against a terrorist leader in Syria. For decades, Syria has provided sanctuary and material support for anti-Israel terrorist organizations. On September 26, Hamas leader Iz a-Din al Sheikh Khalil died in Damascus when his car exploded. Israel has been warning Syria in stronger and stronger terms that Syrian support for several anti-Israeli terrorist organizations would not be tolerated. The Syrian support includes allowing the Lebanon based Hizbollah terrorist organization to receive long range (up to 60 kilometers) missiles from Iran in 2002. The missiles have been stored in Lebanon (which is occupied by the Syrian army) for several years, and Israel has told Syria that if the missiles are used against Israel, Syria will be attacked.
Israel killed Khalil in response to a recent Hamas suicide bombing inside Israel. Offensive operations against Hamas in the Palestinian controlled West Bank and Gaza have stopped most terror attacks in Israel. And it has been found that the best way to really get a message to terrorist organization is to attack the senior leaders. Khalil was one of the most senior Hamas leaders living outside Israel. The attacks so angered Hamas that they quickly announced that they would now attack Israelis, and Jews, outside of Israel. This was quickly retracted, as such a move would make Hamas a major target for American anti-terrorist operations. The word has spread through terrorist organizations that the American led war on terror is indeed world wide, and can be particularly difficult to deal with if the anti-terror forces get on your case. Hamas has its hands full with the Israelis, and has no desire to take on American Special Forces and Delta Force, or British and Australian SAS.
A friend writes: "I find that reading the news these days, with hostage beheadings front and centre, is quite depressing. You have to keep up with all of the horrors; doesn't it drive you nuts?"
The repeated imagery of hostages taken, their pleas broadcast internationally on Al Jazeera so that we can fully appreciate their humanity, then videos released in which we can watch the victim scream out his horror, while a hooded man uses a knife to saw through his neck, and other hooded men stand by, shouting, "Allahu akhbar," which means, "God is great!"
Or the imagery of the little Christian children in Beslan, trying to run away from the school in which they were held captive, in which they had drunk their own pee to survive dehydration, running from the bombs set off in the gymnasium, some running with their mothers, and being machine-gunned in the back, by more men shouting, "Allahu akhbar!"
Passenger planes, themselves full of the living, flown into office towers in the middle of Manhattan; trapped people leaping while the buildings burned, from the highest floors when the heat became unbearable; the sound captures of those bodies landing: thud, thud, thud.
Buses full of women and children and old men, blown to pieces by suicide bombers in Jerusalem. The police forensic specialists, and the Orthodox devouts, using tweezers to gather the particles of Jewish flesh, stuck to the surrounding pavement.
Successive stills from a security camera above a railway platform in Madrid, showing three successive flashes, and in the glare, the last nanoseconds in the lives of hundreds of commuters in the trains and on the platforms.
Views through the rubble of a nightclub in Denpassar, crowded with hundreds of Australian tourists, pulverized by similarly timed explosions. Blood, broken glass.
And the many other scenes, after car-bombs and truck-bombs and jelly-bombs and jacket-bombs: in Karachi, in Istanbul, in Riyadh, in Tunis, in Kabul, in the courtyards of little Assyrian churches in rural Iraq, or on the sidewalks in front of their small shops in Basra. Not random, not spontaneous combustion, but aimed, in each case at the foreigners, the Christians, the Jews, the Sufis, the Yankees, their "accomplices".
And the chant from supportive demonstrators, taking to the streets after such incidents in places so diverse as Brooklyn, Rotterdam, Paris, Cairo, Ramallah, Tehran, San'a, Lahore: "Allahu akhbar, Allahu akhbar!"
This is an aside, but I should like to mention that I am proud to work for a Canadian media organization that has been criticized for inserting the word "terrorists" into wire copy, to characterize the perpetrators of such deeds; to work with editors who are capable of refusing the euphemisms that are offered in the wire-service style books. "Terrorists" is an objective description of a person who commits an act of carnage in order to advance a cause; words like "militant", or "radical", or "activist", or "rebel", or "gunman", or "captor", or "guerrilla", or "commando" ("membres du commando" in Agence France-Presse), are moral evasions.
According to Reuters' oft-repeated dictum: "One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter." Yes, and one man's Nazi is another man's saviour of Germany, and Stalin was my garrulous Uncle Joe. It is an outrageous moral evasion to take the criminal at his word, and I am proud of every person in my trade who refuses to play along.
Letters and e-mails tend to come in thematic clumps; I noticed several like the one I first quoted in the last few weeks, and they suggest to me the world is getting tired. What the world does, when the world gets tired, is beyond my prognostication, but in answer to the question that was posed:
No. It does not drive me nuts. I have no more right to allow it to drive me nuts, than I have the right to ignore it: for an evil on the scale of what we face demands a coherent response. This, in turn, requires a clear head.
The purpose of terrorism is to terrify: to drive us nuts, to leave us incoherent, to make us run away. To spread fear and confusion, feeding upon each other. To make, for instance, the American electorate think: "O dear, Iraq is a nightmare, we had better get out right away."
But that will not do. Instead, we must look, as calmly as we can, right into the heart of the carnage, and find, unblinking, a way to bring it to an end.
From David Warren
I see Iraq as in the middle of a civil war. It’s a war in which we’ve chosen sides. I think we should make sure our side wins. This will be a long hard slog, to quote Rummy. I hope the American people, used to 30-second commercials are up to the task.
Until we can get the ING complete re-constituted U.S. troops will be carrying the load. Although we are training them as quickly as possible that task is far from done.
All we can do is keep keep’n on. Fail, we must not.
Great news. The Iowa Electronic Market has Clueless Kerry contracts selling for $0.28 and Bush contracts are selling for $0.72. Whoever is holding those contracts on November 3rd will collect $1.00.
As it stands right now the market is predicting a massive Bush win, but there is still a lot of time for things to go wrong.
One author, Lt. Col. Powl Smith, writes in the Weekly Standard that Iraq isn't Vietnam, it's Guadalcanal. He writes...
In one of our first counteroffensives against the Japanese, U.S. troops landed on the island of Guadalcanal in order to capture a key airfield. We surprised the Japanese with our speed and audacity, and with very little fighting seized the airfield. But the Japanese recovered from our initial success, and began a long, brutal campaign to force us off Guadalcanal and recapture it. The Japanese were very clever and absolutely committed to sacrificing everything for their beliefs. (Only three Japanese surrendered after six months of combat--a statistic that should put today's Islamic radicals to shame.) The United States suffered 6,000 casualties during the six-month Guadalcanal campaign; Japan, 24,000. It was a very expensive airfield.
This is an interesting take on the current situation. It does not bode well for U.S. casualties. If a true comparison, one advantage I see is our technology seems to make us better at beating the enemy while minimizing our own casualties. I pray that is true.
And we'd best be keeping him and his compadres away from John Kerry for awhile! They are not real fond of him right now considering he threw them under the bus and they spent their last week fighting like hell because, and I quote, "The a**hole has let these %^&$* believe they can win and we're paying the price! Half of everything we worked so hard to do has gone to s**t!". I don't believe Kerry will get the Marine vote! If the new guys survive his rhetoric. Everyone over there will sure feel better when November comes! BTW, there was a huge absentee vote before the new guys went over. Enough politics but I thought y'all should know what the real story about the "quagmire" is and who is getting our boys killed again. Leopard never changes his spots! (In case you didn't notice, I'm really pissed at the crap spewed out this week and so is my son who had to pay a price for it!)
From Grim's Hall
It seems that Kerry's talk about how badly things are going in Iraq and we need to get out has encouraged our enemies. They figure a few more Americans beheaded and we'll withdraw and leave Iraq to them.
It started with a phone call from Senator Coleman the Monday night before Rosh Hashanah telling me that the President wanted to meet with a few rabbis right after Rosh Hashanah, and asking me if I could go to Washington to meet with him. Senator Coleman told me that I could expect a call from the White House.
I came into the synagogue office on Tuesday morning, and the secretarial staff was excited because the call had come in from the White House. They told me that there would be a meeting with the President on Monday. There were going to be eighteen people around the table -- [16 rabbis and] the President and an aide. I asked what rabbis were going to be there, and they told me that they were a broad distribution, Reform, Reconstructionist, Conservative and Orthodox, Military, Hillel and Pulpit. They gave me the time and the place.
I announced [from the pulpit] on Rosh Hashanah that I was going to go see the President. I thought it would provide interesting material for the Rosh Hashanah dinner table conversations. As we were walking around in the Torah procession, some congregants stopped me and gave me agenda items that they asked me to talk about with the President.
...I feel so blessed to have the opportunity to have this once in a lifetime experience. The toughest decision I had to make was which kepah [skullcap] to wear. I decided on the one I have which has alternating American and Israeli flags. I was so curious as to what the President had in mind to talk about, and also what other colleagues would be there, and whether I would know any of them. We went through security and arrrived in a very nice, small room with a conference table. There were 18 chairs around it, with the rabbis and the president.
I could not believe I was sitting literally across the conference table from the President of the United States. One rabbi mentioned something that another rabbi had said to Lyndon Johnson once, which was that the President of the United States rules over more Jews than any other leader in history, including the President of Israel or Moses.
When I was in Orthodox Day School, as a kid, when we were late for the services the headmaster would say to us, "Would you be five minutes late if you were meeting the President of the United States?" And guess what, we were. Somehow they left us standing at the tent, and so they rushed us in, and I walked into the room, and a man reached out to shake my hand. He says, "Here's a good fellow, Rabbi Ginsburg." I looked up and it was President Bush, already there and waiting.
He was utterly charming, eloquent, gracious and humble. President Bush covered a large range of topics in his opening fifteen minute talk, emphasizing war on terror, support for Israel and fighting anti-Semitism worldwide. Iraq, Afghanistan, the Middle East, recession, working hard to pull the country out of the impact of September 11th, and of the negative impact the war has on the economy. He spoke about his need to stand firm, the need to support the forces for peace in the world, but that there are cold blooded murderers he has to deal with. He said he's not anti-Muslim, he's not anti-Palestinian. He does believe there should be a Palestinian state someday, but he's anti-Palestinians who are terrorists. He ended by saying, "This is not a political event. Keep your politics close to your vests. I just wanted to talk with rabbis during the ten days of awe" (or close to that).
WHAT DID I SAY?
I told him that I had met him one time before when he was running for election when he came to Minnesota for a fundraiser, and former Senator Rudy Boschwitz invited me to this estate at Lake Minnetonka where this fundraiser was held. President Bush gave a speech inside a room that housed an indoor pool. The room itself in this house held hundreds of people. I happened to be just a few feet away from the podium and when then Governor Bush came off, he walked right past me, stopped for a minute, saw my kepah, and I said, "I'm Rabbi Jonathan Ginsburg. It's good to meet you." He said, "Oh, Rabbi, I'm so glad you're here. I want you to know that I'm going to do everything I can to help Israel. Israel is our friend, and we stand by our friends," and he walked on by. And I do believe he's lived up to that ever since...
I mentioned that to him, and I said, "The Jewish people believe you have, and thank you." And then I told him a story that I told over Rosh Hashanah about an elderly volunteer for an Israel organization who said that his passion for volunteering for Israel was driven by the fact that he had been part of a liberating group at at one of the concentration camps. An inmate came up to him and saw his name tag and saw that he was Jewish, and said, "Are you Jewish?" in Yiddish. Expecting a hug from this recently freed inmate, the soldier said, "Yes." Instead of a hug, he got a slap, and the former inmate said "You're too late."
The President looked at me in the eye and said, "Part of my job is to make sure we'll never be too late."
THE TIME TOGETHER
A large part of the conversation was about Israel. One rabbi asked him about the security fence. He said that, if he were the Prime Minister of Israel, he would absolutely think pessimistically, but hope for the best and plan for long-term security. He said that you always have to leave open the opportunity for peace, and so there's a fine line between security and closing off the options for peace. He said that when he disagrees with Prime Minister Sharon, whom he considers a close friend, he tells him in private. The one example he gave was feeling Sharon made a mistake surrounding Arafat's compound with tanks, telling him that "we're trying to marginalize the guy. We're on the same page. Help us out here, you made him into a hero and martyr again."
He told a very moving story about being in Israel with his wife when he was Governor of Texas. Netanyahu was the Prime Minister, and Sharon was the tour guide of a helicopter flight over the West Bank. When Bush woke up in the morning, he looked out of his hotel window, and it was Jerusalem in its golden hue. He talked about how humbling it is to know that millions of people pray for him every day, and the sacred responsibility that entails. We mentioned that in our synagogues every Shabbat, we offer a prayer for him and for the government of the United States. He said he prays every day that God blesses him with patience, wisdom and strength, and "I'm weak enough to know that I need God's strength and support."
He talked about his concern of increasing anti-Semitism in Europe, and how he's trying to work with them to eradicate it. He said that we have to fight hard all the -isms. Then the Hillel rabbi there talked about the swatiska that Rutgers had recently and the shouting down of pro-Israel speakers on various campuses. He said that he knows about some of that, and that he is keeping abreast of it, that it's a concern. He spoke often about peace and freedom, the importance of optimism and the love of America. He mentioned several times the speech he gave June 24, 2002, where he laid out his principles of fighting terrorism and said the key is to continue to stick to our values and not deviate from them.
A rabbi mentioned a book he was reading about how the Saudis have continued to profess to be our friends, but support radical Islam all over the world. He asked the President what he thought about it. The President said, "You basically stated the question. It's not just the Saudis. We're dealing with every country in the Middle East that way except the one democracy, Israel. We have to try to reform them and help them be true democracies."
He had us laughing several times. He talked about the politics of the Israeli cabinet. He said that in Israel, the constituents elect the ministers, but he gets to appoint his ministers and cabinet members. He said that the elbows are very sharp in the Israeli cabinet, and he understands the political concerns and the political dynamics in Israel, and how complicated that makes things sometimes.
The aides were trying for half an hour to rush him out to sign the no telemarketing bill but he stayed and chatted awhile.
We're such a small people, and we have been controlled, restricted and murdered by the greatest empires in history. We have arrived at this period of history, still a time of danger for our people, but we are living in the freest country in history.
I was just stunned to be sitting across the table from the most powerful person in the world, a man of true humility and belief in one God, who spent much of this hour and a quarter, speaking from the depth of his heart about his concern about anti-Semitism and his understanding of Israel's predicament. I know many disagree with policies of his. I'm sure every rabbi there had some disagreements. But there was no denying the moment, the genuineness, the power of the experience. It felt surreal.
When I left I went across the street to the park and cried. I had so much emotion about being there. After all we have gone through as a people for 4000 years, so many tyrants under whom we have lived who have brutally mistreated us, to live in an an age when the leaders of the most powerful nation of the world care so deeply for this small people, as many presidents have, is amazing. It had a feeling of holiness to it -- of feeling God's words that "those that bless the childen of Israel will be blessed."
I know the Bush haters won't believe it, but here it is.
Morrisey says in the six years the President served he never failed to meet participation point requirements.
"Bush averaged 176 per year. In no year did he have less that 50," says Morrisey. "He was rated by his commander, Col. Maurice Udell in the top 5 of his pilots."
One of the criticisms leveled at the President is that he sought guard service to keep him from serving in Vietnam.
Morrisey says, "not so."
"The Air Force, in their ultimate wisdom, assembled a group of 102's and took them to Southeast Asia. Bush volunteered to go. But he needed to have 500 [flight] hours, but he only had just over 300 hours so he wasn't eligible to go,” Morrisey recalls.
Despite that, Lieutenant Bush stayed busy.
"He flew in active air defense missions, training missions. Day, night, regardless of inclement weather," Morrisey says.
I think it makes a lot of sense that Bush has never mentioned this. I think he likes to sandbag his opponents.
Karol and I went to see the Herrmann's Royal Lipizzan Stallions of Austria today. This is a picture of one. They performed in Millville, which is only a 20-minute drive. They are headquartered in Myakka City, Florida. They are white horses that go through a series of maneuvers – with and without riders.
It turns out the horses are born black. Then, between three and six years of age, they turn white. One of the stallions was 17 years old and they said he would likely perform for another eight years. I guess horses can live to a pretty old age – longer than dogs.
It was a little frustrating as a picture taking exercise. They had a hurricane fence between the bleachers and the horses. I sat on the top row in an effort to shoot pictures OVER the fence. That meant I had to use the telephoto zoom. The zoom makes it harder to get a good clear sharp picture.
One of the challenges with a digital camera is I could not afford to leave it on all the time as that would quickly drain the batteries. As a result I missed a few shots that I might have been able to get, had I be able to leave the camera on all the time.
What I really need is some kind of auxiliary power unit that would attach to my belt and allow me to leave the camera on for an extended period of time.
I have a 64MB CompactFlash card in the camera. It will hold about 64 pictures. Today I filled it. It looks like I could use a larger capacity one. Perhaps one of those 512MB units. They’re down to only $65.
I plan to put up a slide show of some of the photos, but that will take a while.
The problem with this Iraq war is Bush did not have a perfect plan. He has completely failed to foresee every possible scenario.
With the billions of dollars available to the federal government, Bush should have been able to put together a plan that would have allowed us to invade Iraq with the only casualties being to the bad guys. If he had done his job the way he should have, Iraq would now be a peaceful democracy with all ethnic groups living in perfect harmony.
What few American troops would be in Iraq would be those on R&R where they would sit around a campfire with Iraqi’s and all would sing Kumbaya.
A new thrill ride will soon be available from Zero Gravity Corporation. From their web site:
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ZERO-G’s mission is to make the excitement and adventure of space accessible to the public in a safe, fun and cost-effective fashion.
I understand it's only $3,000 per ride. Sign me up!
I took my friend's arguement that Bush will re-instate the draft when he is re-elected and diagramed it. I'm a visual person and I can more easily understand something if I see a picture of it. Here's what I came up with.
All this makes a sound logical argument – within itself. You, dear reader, will perhaps see the weak point in the argument. The premise that Bush plans to invade Syria and Iran.
I have sent the diagram to my friend and asked him what leads him to conclude to that Bush plans on invading Syria and Iran. It will be interesting to see if I get a response.
This is one of Karol’s Hibiscuses. It is a perennial. It comes up every year and flowers for a few weeks. We call them pie plates for obvious reasons – the look like pie plates. Unfortunately the flowers only last for about a day. They’re sort of like Day-Lilies.
I’m trying to understand where the idea comes from that Bush will re-establish the draft when he is re-elected. In an effort to find out how this thought comes about I sent the following letter to a friend that believes Bush will re-establish the draft.
I'm trying to understand the rationale behind the idea that Bush will re-institute the draft, when he's re-elected. Perhaps you can clue me in.
How does one come to make the conclusion that Bush will re-institute the draft, when he's re-elected? This is no attempt to dissuade anyone only to understand.
Fortunately I received a rational response:
You must go back to 1965 when Johnson upped the war after he was elected.
I expect Bush to ratchet up the war and to go into Syria and Iran. He is planning a major offensive in Iraq if he is re-elected.
At least I’m making some progress. Here’s how I break this down.
If we plan to invade Syria and Iran we will need more troops.
Recruitment efforts will be inadequate to provide troops sufficient to successfully invade Syria and Iran.
We will need to institute the draft to have sufficient troops to invade Syria and Iran.
Now we can piggyback the previous argument with my friend’s premise.
We will need to institute the draft to have sufficient troops to invade Syria and Iran.
Bush plans on invading Syria and Iraq.
Bush will institute the draft
Now I need to get him to tell me what makes him predict that Bush will invade Syria and Iran.
BANGOR, Maine, Sept. 23 -- It had been a pretty glum day for Spec. Brian Parker, who along with the other members of his National Guard unit said goodbye to their families and departed on a charter flight for a long-term stint in Iraq. But then, on a refueling stop here, a familiar figure boarded the plane.
"We were down when we left our families," Parker said, giving a thumbs down. "But then we heard Air Force One was here. It's a good morale boost."
President Bush, after a campaign appearance in Bangor, held his plane on the tarmac when he heard an MD-11 carrying 292 Army reservists and National Guard members was about to refuel here. For the troops, grimly heading toward an 18-to-24-month assignment in Iraq, it was a welcome lift. For Bush, who has been accusing his Democratic presidential opponent, Sen. John F. Kerry, of demoralizing the troops in Iraq by criticizing the war effort, it was a chance to demonstrate his devotion to the troops.
"May God bless you all," the commander in chief said over the plane's public address system. "May God keep you safe." As he worked his way up and down the plane's aisles, posing for photographs, signing autographs and shaking hands, the happily surprised troops called out to him.
"That's my president, hooah!" shouted Sgt. Wanda Dabbs, 22, a member of the 230th Area Support Group, a Guard unit from Tennessee. Others seconded her cheer.
Bush's impromptu visit with the departing soldiers came with some risk. It could remind the American public that more and more reservists and Guard members are being removed from their workplaces and sent on dangerous assignments in an increasingly bloody Iraq.
But the president's aides saw an opportunity to underscore the point Bush had made at his campaign rally here, in front of an airport hangar and an enormous American flag suspended by two cranes.
"You cannot lead the war on terror if you wilt when times are tough," Bush said of Kerry. "What kind of message does it send our troops, who are risking their lives and who see firsthand the mission is hard but know the mission is critical to our success?"
Bush, in his campaign speech, also hailed Iraq's interim prime minister, Ayad Allawi, whom Kerry had accused earlier of whitewashing the country's troubles. "He does deserve our praise," Bush said of Allawi.
Whatever their concerns about the dangers ahead, the troops on the plane were joyous when their commander in chief appeared. "I can guarantee you right now this is the best thing that ever happened to me in my lifetime," said Sgt. 1st Class Bill Freeman of the 230th, a Goodyear Tires worker in Tennessee and a Bush supporter.
Soldiers interviewed on the plane were stoic about their mission. Spec. Eddie Latham, a factory worker, called Bush "a great leader" but added: "I'm nervous to go to Iraq."
The charter plane carrying the troops, flown by World Airways, was directed to increase its speed en route to Bangor to catch Bush. "They pushed the gas pedal a little bit," White House Chief of Staff Andrew H. Card Jr. said.
Most of the soldiers, dressed in desert camouflage fatigues, had cameras ready to take snapshots of Bush. The president, who donned a tie and suit jacket after his political rally, offered gentle smiles and words such as "I'm proud of you" and "thank you."
The charter plane carrying the soldiers from Fort Bragg, N.C., was scheduled to stop in Germany and Kuwait before the soldiers made their way into Iraq with their units: the 30th Brigade Combat Team, a Guard unit from North Carolina; the 414th Transportation Battalion, a reserve unit from South Carolina; the 230th, from Tennessee; and a few others.
Sgt. 1st Class Bobby Dailey, a FedEx worker normally, was asked if the boisterous reception meant these were all Bush supporters. "We're commander-in-chief supporters," he clarified, and pointed out: "It ain't every day you land somewhere and the president gets on your plane."
As it happens, the troops were given absentee ballots just before they departed, and there were still some undecided voters on board as Bush worked the crowd. "I'm still balancing the issues. I'm not sure," said David Spence of the 230th, a machinist, when asked about the election. "I'd like to hear what he has to say."
But 2nd Lt. Roxana Pagan-Sanchez, of the 30th, pronounced herself solidly with Bush after she got to meet the president. "He told me he's proud of me," said the mother of a 12-year-old she left behind in Raleigh, N.C. "I'm so proud of him."
From the Washington Post
But there is another aspect to the "culture matters" argument, one that does not get nearly enough attention. It has nothing to do with religion, ethnicity, or national character; it is the social and moral legacy of life under a dictatorship. Iraq, quite simply, like many other recently liberated societies around the world continues to suffer from a Post-Totalitarian Stress Disorder.
For the Westerners, the PTSD is a difficult condition to understand. We take so many things for granted - from comedians being able to joke about the President, to the assumption that the next government employee we encounter will not be expecting a bribe from us - that we are quite ill equipped to fully comprehend what life under a totalitarian system must really be like, much less what mental and spiritual legacy its victims have to labor under long after the statues of the Leader are pulled down.
We all "know" about the secret police knocking on the door at night, adulatory TV programs exalting the president-for-life, the pervasive corruption, queues and shortages, or the silly propaganda. Nothing, however, in our generally safe and comfortable existence would helps us understand just how pervasively difficult, destructive and dispiriting the experience of life under a totalitarian regime is. For most of us, life in Saddam's Iraq would have been no more real than the Middle Earth of the colonial New England. And failing to understand the condition itself, by extension we find it equally difficult to understand how the mental attitudes and habits of the past cannot be shaken off overnight but instead linger on, making the reconstruction and transition to normalcy such a difficult and painful process.
I speak from some experience here. While the late communist Poland and the Baathist Iraq were in many ways very different societies, shaped and constrained by different set of geographic, historical and cultural factors, there is a common denominator between all totalitarian societies the world over. Here are some bad habits that people consciously or otherwise pick up to help them fit in better and survive under a dictatorship, but which prove quite troublesome and counter-productive once the shackles finally fall off:
Distrust of the state and the authorities - the state is the enemy and the oppressor; you collaborate to the extent it is necessary to survive, no more. You don't owe it any loyalty and are quite happy to try to sabotage it in every little way you can - by breaking minor laws, petty embezzlement, cheating, dishonesty, lies, passivity or indifference.
A prison mentality - you might hate the state, but you still have an expectation that the hand you cannot bite will provide for you; feed you, clothe you, give you shelter and a job. Since the state has crowded out most, if not all, of the private sphere, logically only the state is able to provide for one's needs - you're quite literally at the mercy of a monopoly.
Lack of initiative and abdication of personal responsibility - as the state is seemingly omnipresent and omnipotent and the area of your personal sovereignty heavily circumscribed, this state of affairs breeds resignation, fatalism and passivity. Why would you bother to try to do anything if you can't achieve much? How can you really take responsibility for your condition if you're just a powerless puppet at the mercy of the Leviathan? And so you wait for things happen to you, as they always do, instead of trying to make your own fate. The system simply doesn't provide any incentives to think and act otherwise - initiative is not rewarded and can even land you in trouble, working hard brings in no more benefits than working little; effort and imagination more often than not hit the wall of limited practical possibilities.
Distrust of others - it's not just the state; you don't trust your fellow citizens too - at worst they might be spying on you for the authorities, at best they are competing with you for scarce resources. Either way, they're out to screw you over. So you only look after your own.
Circumstances change; and when they do, they usually change much faster than our habits. Closed economy may become a free market, dictatorship a democracy, theocracy a liberal society, but our mental adjustment to new realities lags behind.
Recently we have witnessed this phenomenon in the post-communist countries of Eastern and Central Europe. Now we're seeing it in Iraq. Home Sovieticus - or Homo Baathicus - continues to roam the landscape long after a giant asteroid had wiped out their habitats.
This - the damage done to individual psyche - and not just to the physical infrastructure and institutions of the country, is what we have to always keep in mind when assessing the progress of reconstruction and democratisation in places like Iraq. If things aren't moving ahead as fast as expected, if cooperation is lacking and trust hard to find, and if the population seems apathetic and disengaged, it's just the fallen regime having its final chuckle from beyond the grave.
The task of reconstruction is not just about adding more megawatts to the power grid or renovating another school. Just as importantly - if not more so - it is about changing attitudes, habits and ways of thinking. In many ways liberating minds is a far more difficult task than rebuilding the physical infrastructure.
Is there a solution to this problem of cultural lag? How can we cure the Post-Totalitarian Stress Disorder? As the old saying goes, time heals all wounds. In the longer term, the older generations - those most tainted by the old ways of thinking - move on and the young ones, brought up in the new environment, slowly take their place. In a shorter term, people still change; slowly and at paces that vary from individual to individual, but change they nevertheless do. In the meantime, people of Iraq need encouragement and good example. Every small step is to be applauded because it brings Iraq closer to a better future.
Some societies are luckier than others. Post-communist societies had time; Iraq might not possess as much of that luxury. Let's hope it has enough.
There seems to be a national hysteria among the Bush hating crowd that Bush plans to re-instate the draft. I have a brother that supposedly believes that. I have a friend that stated, “The big problem of course is the war and the draft that Bush will institute if god-forbid he is reelected. I certainly do not want my son going to Iraq.”
I don’t know where this hysteria comes from. I guess the only question one could ask is, “What leads you to that conclusion?”
You can read report from troops that say we're making progress and those that say we're not. Are we all like the blind men feeling the elephant and trying to figure out what it is?
Iraq is currently in a civil war, testing whether that nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure.
If you think our presence in Iraq creates more terrorists, you should see how many will jump to enlist should we retreat in defeat. Terrorist around the world will feel that if they sacrifice enough, the U.S. can be defeated.
Rightly or wrongly we’ve drawn a line in the sand. I don’t see how we can afford anything less than victory.
I can say from my experience that flying operational fighter jets is highly dangerous. People don't strap fighter jets to their backside if they are overly concerned for their future. While in F-105 training at McConnell AFB in early 1968, we lost five aircraft in six weeks.
I can assure you that Lt. Bush was continuously exposed to similar dangers during all weather scrambles and during training exercises as evidenced by the F-102 pilots killed in his unit.
Cowards (or people who lack courage) don't take on the risks that Lt. Bush did in flying Fighter Interceptor Aircraft. Flying jets in wing formation in the weather and carrying explosive ordnance on board is dangerous work. The pilots in these squadrons (including Lt. Bush) did what their country asked them to do. They performed their assigned mission and did it well. In November 1970, the Commander of the Texas Air National Guard, Lt. Col. Jerry B. Killian, called Mr. Bush, then 24, "a dynamic outstanding young officer" who stood out as "a top-notch fighter interceptor pilot." "Lt. Bush's skills far exceed his contemporaries," Colonel Killian wrote: "He is a natural leader whom his contemporaries look to for leadership. Lt. Bush is also a good follower with outstanding disciplinary traits and an impeccable military bearing."
During his tenure at the TANG Bush was required to earn 300 points. During his service Bush actually earned 954 points.
"Not the sharpest knife in the drawer."
"Got into the gene pool while the lifeguard wasn't watching."
"A room temperature IQ."
"Got a full 6-pack, but lacks the plastic thingy to hold it all together."
"A gross ignoramus---144 times worse than an ordinary ignoramus."
"A photographic memory but with the lens cover glued on."
"A prime candidate for natural deselection."
"Bright as Alaska in December."
"One-celled organisms outscore him in IQ tests."
"Donated his brain to science before he was done using it."
"Fell out of the family tree."
"Gates are down, the lights are flashing, but the train isn't coming."
"Has two brains: one is lost and the other is out looking for it."
"He's so dense, light bends around him."
"If brains were taxed, he'd get a rebate."
"If he were any more stupid, he'd have to be watered twice a week."
"If you give him a penny for his thoughts, you'd get change."
"If you stand close enough to him, you can hear the ocean."
"Some drink from the fountain of knowledge; he only gargled."
"Takes him an hour and a half to watch 60 minutes."
"Was left on the Tilt-A-Whirl a bit too long as a baby."
"Wheel is turning, but the hamster is dead."
I was streaming Rush over the internet this evening. He has a great idea. CBS could put this whole MemoGate/RatherGate behind them with a very simply statement.
All they have to say is, “We’re a pro-Kerry news organization.”
In one of the cover stories in “The New Republic” Yossi Klein Halevi and Michael B. Oren explain how Israel beat back the intifada. Here’s the short version.
Israel's triumph over the Palestinian attempt to unravel its society is the result of a systematic assault on terrorism that emerged only fitfully over the past four years. The fence, initially opposed by the army and the government, has thwarted terrorist infiltration in those areas where it has been completed. Border towns like Hadera and Afula, which had experienced some of the worst attacks, have been terror-free since the fence was completed in their areas. Targeted assassinations and constant military forays into Palestinian neighborhoods have decimated the terrorists' leadership, and roadblocks have intercepted hundreds of bombs, some concealed in ambulances, children's backpacks, and, most recently, a baby carriage. At every phase of Israel's counteroffensive, skeptics have worried that attempts to suppress terrorism would only encourage more of it...
The price Israel has paid for its victory has been sobering. Arafat may be a pariah, but Israel is becoming one, too. Increasingly, the legitimacy of Jewish sovereignty is under attack. Former French Prime Minister Michel Rocard, for example, has called Israel's creation a "mistake." In Europe, an implicit "red-green-black" coalition of radical leftists, Islamists, and old-fashioned fascists has revived violent anti-Semitism. Along with the desecration of Jewish cemeteries by neo-Nazis and the assaults on Jews by Arab youth, some European left-wingers now sense a sympathetic climate in which to publicly indulge their anti-Semitism. In a recent interview with the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Greek composer and left-wing activist Mikis Theodorakis denounced "the Jews" for their dominance of banks, U.S. foreign policy, and even the world's leading orchestras, adding that the Jews were "at the root of evil." In the Arab world, a culture of denial that repudiates the most basic facts of Jewish history--from the existence of the Jerusalem Temple to the existence of the gas chambers--has become mainstream in intellectual discourse and the media. Government TV stations in Egypt and Syria have produced dramatizations based on The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Boycotts of Israel are multiplying: The nonaligned states recently voted to bar "settlers"--including Israelis who live in Jewish neighborhoods in East Jerusalem--from their borders. Among young Israelis across the political spectrum, there's growing doubt about the country's future and widespread talk of emigration...
In its victories and its defeats, Israel is a test case of what happens to a democracy forced to confront nonstop terrorism.
From Michael J. Totten
Israel is winning against the terrorists, but it comes at a price. Almost the rest of the world now hates Israel. The lesson for the U.S. is clear. Earning the world’s affection comes at a high price – weakness.
Right after 9/11 the whole world was on our side. The whole world pitied us. We had the whole world’s sympathy. It only cost us nearly 3,000 lives to get that affection and sympathy.
For my money, that’s too high a price. Once we showed we were mad as h*** and not going to take it, we lost all that good will and sympathy. If we can only be liked when we’re weak, forget it.
An interview with General "Buck" Staudt appeared in Staudt's home town newspaper, the New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung.
A few quotes:
"The subject started when [Bush’s] daddy ran for vice president, and it’s been going on ever since. I don’t have much to tell. It’s simple to me. There was no political influence. That’s the truth.
"He was a good candidate, well educated. We needed pilots, and he wanted to be one."
Sitting in his office, surrounded by pictures and paintings of fighter planes, Staudt’s military reserve softened as he remembered his first encounter with the young, prospective guardsman.
"I asked him why he wanted to be a pilot, and he said it was because his daddy was one. That’s a good reason."
And, finally, this:
Staudt had no idea the young man he swore into the Guard would one day be commander in chief.
"[Bush] was just another second lieutenant fighter pilot," he said. "You never know where people will end up."
After Staudt retired in early 1972, he did not have any more contact with Bush, but he has watched him closely since 2001.
"I think he’s done a real good job [as president]. I’m proud of him. I guess I’m prejudiced, I don’t know," he said.
Staudt is looking forward to some peace now that CBS and Rather have admitted they cannot prove the memos’ authenticity. Although relieved, Staudt said he was surprised they finally decided to be honest. He never thought they would be.
The "new" national intelligence estimate touted last week by The New York Times is drastically out of date.
According to the Times, the report from the National Intelligence Council "outlines three possibilities for Iraq through the end of 2005, with the worst case being developments that could lead to civil war."
Wake up the Beltway bureaucrats: The Iraqi civil war started in summer 2003, when a group hard-core Baath (and Sunni-dominated) holdouts decided their route to personal survival -- and possible track back to power in Baghdad -- was relentlessly savage violence.
Savage violence is the daily routine of the criminal gangs who run dictatorships large and small, so virtually everyone expected some degree of post-Saddam thug resistance. However, no one knew the Baath hardcore had so much money.
The biggest mistake the Iraq coalition made, however, was underestimating the power of criminal arrogance. That's a mistake we Americans make repeatedly -- whether the thug is Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Saddam, Osama bin Laden or one of our own mob chieftains like John Gotti.
First the money: Saddam stole billions. How much of the trove remains? I don't think the Swiss, Persian Gulf and Asian bankers who helped him stash it know. Recall the crisp $600 million U.S. soldiers found in a building in Baghdad. No doubt stockpiles of Baathist cash remain hidden in Iraq and elsewhere in the region.
The Baghdad rumor mill says Baath warlords pay bombers anywhere from $1,000 to $3,000 per attack, so even a million dollars can buy a lot of bang. It also buys TV time. The thousands of trucks that successfully deliver goods in Iraq don't make CNN. The one that the mercenary bomber blew to bits does.
It's a strategic weakness every PR operative knows: TV demands drama. TV magnifies the thug's bomb.
And it also feeds the arrogance of criminal elites who never believe they'll be held accountable for their crimes. Here's an example of that arrogance: In late August, Iraqi cops and Coalition forces cornered one Ahmad T. Tahir (also known as Mohammad Bogy) at the wake of a man that Tahir murdered. Tahir used to work for Saddam's regime (possibly as an "enforcer").
When the police arrived, Tahir tried to flee into his victim's house and even tried to hide behind the daughters and wife of his victim. But the women began slapping Tahir and shoved him toward the security troops, who then arrested him. The women told the police that "he (Tahir) didn't think we could do anything to him, and that's why he was here." In street slang, Mohammad Bogy was strutting his stuff because he believed the fear he instilled put him beyond any law.
Thug arrogance is an all-too common feature of the world's hard corners, where the criminals have dominated for so long they are certain their iron wills and unmitigated violence will eventually cow all opponents. Scholarly strategists describe war as a clash of wills. The world's Mohammad Bogys have a lot of willpower -- and all too often it only breaks when Free World troops jam a rifle barrel into the cold amazement of their eyes.
"The Shia are sheep," is an Iraqi Sunni refrain. "The (Baath holdout) Sunnis say they've been in charge and they intend to stay in charge (in Iraq)," a U.S. analyst told me in July 2004. While the Sunni resistance isn't tribal in any strict sense, "... it's like our tribe always beats your tribe. If they just continue to do what they've always done (i.e., murder wantonly), eventually they prevail. That's what they think will win this (civil conflict) for them."
However, every month that passes the new Iraqi central government gets stronger. Prime Minister Iyad Allawi (a Shia) has proven he isn't a sheep.
When does arrogance turn to desperation?
I don't know -- perhaps Mohammad Bogy could give us an opinion. I do know the Baath thugs are attempting to manipulate the U.S. political cycle. If they continue to murder, they believe America will wilt and leave the new Iraqi government in the lurch.
Bush gave a very uplifting speech at the UN. He extolled the virtues of liberty, but Kerry was not pleased.
Kerry said Bush rushed into Iraq without the backing of allies, preparing a postwar plan, or properly equipping US forces -- ''None of which I would have done."
''Saddam Hussein was a brutal dictator who deserves his own special place in hell," Kerry told a supportive audience assembled at New York University, downtown from where Bush is to address the United Nations General Assembly today. ''But that was not, in itself, a reason to go to war. The satisfaction we take in his downfall does not hide this fact: We have traded a dictator for a chaos that has left America less secure."
He blamed Bush for ''colossal failures of judgment." ''This is stubborn incompetence," he said.
Ret. Gen. Tommy Franks responded:
"Senator Kerry's contradictions on Iraq are the wrong signal to send to our troops on the ground, to our coalition partners, to the Iraqi people and to the terrorists seeking our destruction. On the eve of Prime Minister Allawi's visit to the United States, Senator Kerry today said that America and the world are 'less secure' now that Saddam Hussein is out of power.
"The American people disagree and last December, so did Senator Kerry. At the time he said that those who believe the world was safer with Saddam Hussein in power 'don't have the judgment to be president.' I agree."
A new film is being released, Celsius 41.11. Go here to see the trailers. It is very sobering.
I found this and thought I'd share it with you. It an "Iraqi" interview you won't see on the Mainstream Media. Just click here. I found I had to turn up the sound a bit.
I am worried. Kerry seems to have decided that Iraq is a failure and he is now campaigning on the theme that we should get out as quickly as possible.
The concerns me. This kind of talk encourages our enemies, makes our friends feel we cannot be counted on when the chips are down, and degrades troop morale. The saying is, “Loose lips sink ships.” The talk that Iraq is a failure pushes the situation toward a self-fulfilling prophesy.
For those that think our being in Iraq is making terrorist recruitment easier, you should see what it’ll be like, should we leave with our tail between our legs. The terrorists will say they drove the US from Iraq.
I don’t pretend to know the future. But I firmly believe that although failure in Iraq is not an option, it IS possible. But we have a vote in this outcome.
America's historical enemies have been well established states. The Global War on Terror is the first time America has pitted itself against a largely dysfunctional and chaotic society held together by what it considered an illegitimate basis. The strategic goal of "bringing freedom to the Middle East" had a deconstructive aspect to which the Armed Forces were well suited, but it also had a constructive dimension with which America had no extensive historical experience. After the encrustations of the Saddam regime had been sanded down to the bare metal of tribal and religious groupings it still remained to create a new Iraqi State to fill the void...Civil war, if it eventuates, will not be result of military failure but from a lack of commitment to create a replacement Iraqi State. If we build it, it will come.
From The Belmont Club
The U.S. Army and Marines have successfully used VLAD (Vehicle Lightweight Arresting Device) to stop civilian vehicles that ignore warnings to halt when approaching a checkpoint or roadblock. VLAD is a nylon net, with tungsten spikes attached, that is spread out in areas troops do not want vehicles to drive. For example, VLAD nets would be laid down to force vehicles to turn (and thus slow down) one or more times before reaching the troops. If a vehicles came on it high speed, it would go over the VLAD net, which would puncture the vehicle’s tires with the spikes, which are attached to a heavy duty nylon netting which then automatically wraps itself around the vehicles axle and brings the vehicle to a halt. Each VLAD net costs $5,000, and is destroyed each time it halts a vehicle. The marines first used one in action in Haiti this past Spring, and they have since been sent to Iraq. For vehicles as large as a light truck (or hummer), VLAD will safely stop the vehicle within 50 feet. Wire cutters are needed to remove the net, and new tires will be required as well. The army has bought 500 VLAD units, while the marines have purchased fifty. The troops like VLAD, as Iraqi drivers quickly pick up on how it works, and don’t even try to run roadblocks when they see it. The troops like it, because they often fire on vehicles trying to run a roadblock, which usually results in dead civilians and thus more Iraqis who are really, really mad at the troops. The loss of a few tires won’t make Iraqis happy either, but at least they will still be alive.
At 15:30 today I was sat in Dasher-1, at the remote fire-base, going through my pre-launch countdown. Fuel was at 50%, the engines were at full power, and the weather forecast was sufficient for the return trip. I called Karol and announced my impending launch for the return journey and then blew the hold-down clamps.
Dasher-1 leaped into motion. I was able to attain orbital velocity much of the trip. Just two miles north of Exit 7 on the New Jersey Turnpike I was slowed to taxi speed until we cleared the Exit. A tractor-trailer had overturned on the exit ramp and they were righting it.
Once past the exit, traffic cleared. I put the pedal to the metal and regained orbital speed for the rest of the trip home. I glided into home base at 17:56.
I went through my shut-down checklist and Dasher-1 feel silent.
This is one of Karol's Dahlia's. They're rather dark and hard to get a nice picture of. She dig them up each fall and then replants them in the spring.
All systems are A-OK and Dasher-1 is ready for launch. All my bags are packed and the tire pressures are checked and topped off. Refueling will take place in route.
Good bye. I’ll see you after my re-entry and landing back at home base.
I think the WOT is somewhat like keeping roaches out of a restaurant. You can never completely keep them out, but if you bring in an exterminator on a regular basis you can keep the roach population from going “critical mass.”
I view Iraq as roach prevention. I see it as an attempt to eliminate the place where terrorism breeds – the Middle East. If we can transform Iraq to a stable somewhat democratic type of government it has the potential to be one of the richest countries in the area. I think this will cause other Arabs to wonder why their country can’t be like Iraq.
There is clearly a lot of resistance to this. The job will be long, difficult, and very dangerous. And I don’t know if the American people, used to 30-second sound bites, have the patience for such a project.
The problem is there are no guarantees in this endeavor. But I think the alternative is to let the Middle East feaster like a boil until the poison from it infects the entire civilized world.
Blogging will be light the rest of this week. I have a 3-day away mission coming up. I’ll be driving to the client site Wednesday evening and, Lord willing, will return Saturday night.
I've set it up, however, so I should should still be able to post my "Friday Flowerblogging" on Friday night.
Three years ago, Islamist terrorists hijacked four airliners in the United States. Two of these airliners were deliberately crashed into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City causing massive fires and the collapse of both towers with the loss of over 2,000 lives. A third airliner was deliberately crashed into the “E” ring of the Pentagon causing part of the structure to collapse with a loss of some 200 lives. On board the fourth airliner, ordinary Americans fought back, they thwarted the terrorists’ plans but were unable to control the airplane which crashed in Pennsylvania killing all on board. Shortly after the September attacks President Bush asked for, and received from the Congress of the United States, authorization to conduct what has become known as the Global War on Terror.
In the intervening years, the United States - at the head of various coalitions - has ended the Taliban regime in Afghanistan and the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein in Iraq. Both these countries had supported terrorist activities and, in the case of Afghanistan in particular, had provided training bases and political support for the September 11 terrorists and for their leaders including the notorious Osama bin Laden. Despite the political left’s most desperate desires, there is a majority sentiment in this country that the Global War on Terror is worth fighting and that the United States will prevail. However, this war will not end anytime soon.
Something else is going on. One of the Islamists’ most cherished goals has been to disrupt American life to the extent that we would turn inward, and with wringing hands retreat from world affairs. They believed (and still do) that the soft, spoiled Americans would be no match for hardened fanatics murdering in the name of God. In fact, quite the opposite has happened. It seemed the United States was entering a period of semi-isolationism following the collapse of the Soviet Union. Now the United States is back and taking a leadership position in world affairs and back with a vengeance.
The Islamists are finding, as others have, that Americans have a spine of steel hidden from view. Ordinary Americans take no more note of “threat level” warnings from the Department of Homeland Security than they do of the nightly weather report. In short, America has buried its dead, turned to the military to kill off the terrorists, and gotten on with life. Like settlers on frontier, though, post 9/11 Americans keep one eye on the horizon and always know where the shotgun is kept. In the Old West after the Apaches or some band of desperados raided a town or settlement word would go out and detachments of U.S. Army Cavalry would be sent out and hunt down the offenders and kill them. For the military, a strategy of “pre-emption” soon emerged where tribes and bands that didn’t surrender of their own accord were pursued on general principle. When engaged in war against small, lethal, and highly mobile bands operating over vast distances pre-emption is a strategy that works.
Worse yet, from the perspective of the Islamists and their war aims, they are in very real danger of being reduced to an irrelevancy. For the most of the world, the Islamists and other groups who desire a return to the glory days of the 11th Century are a pack of rabid vermin gnawing on the hind parts of History. The attack on a Russian schoolhouse last week brought this into sharp focus. The Global War on Terror is a vast exercise in pest control. Like rats, terrorists can never be completely eliminated, but they can be kept out of the house by cleaning out the places where they hide and breed.
Some of our wars have been fought for base reasons, and sometimes America has done things not to be proud of, but one theme remains the same. Throughout its history this country has fought for the rights of the individual against those who would subjugate those rights and for the future against the past.
May it always be so.
I like to read success coach Tony Robbins. He says there are three factors that make for a successful Presidential candidate.
1) Physical attraction. Is the candidate good looking? Since I’m a guy I don’t rate male looks very well, unless their stone ugly. You’ll have to ask Ms. Smash about that. Although Kerry does bear a striking similarity to Lurch.
2) The sound of their voice. If you listen to them speak over the radio, how do you like the sound of their voice. I think Kerry has this just boring voice.
3) Emotion. Can they move you emotionally? I don’t think Kerry can move himself emotionally. Have you seen him on the stump lately? He looks like he’s just going through the motions. Bush on the other hand looks like he’s on fire.
I vote Bush the winner, but I’m a Bush supporter.
Another blog I read is rabidly (I make sure I have my rabies shots before reading it) pro Kerry. The people posting to this blog sound dispirited. I think much of the Kerry camp is seeing the handwriting on the wall.
Bush leads in Missouri, Ohio, and Wisconsin and by a point in Pennsylvania. The Democrats can send their lawyers home. It won’t be close. The conventional wisdom is wrong again.
He’s my take on the economy. I know it long, but bear with me.
The stock market reached its zenith on March 3, 2000 - my birthday. This was in the Clinton twilight. Thereafter it headed south and did not really turn the corner until March 2003.
In that interval, the market lost $10 trillion dollars in wealth. That’s about one year of GDP for the US. So quickly did the economic expansion of the 90’s come to a halt that the President of Cisco Systems said in the month from November 2000 to December 2000, their sales growth went from 25 percent per annum to flat or slightly shrinking.
This scenario was repeated all over the economy. Manufacturing had taken its hit months earlier.
Then 9-11 struck. I’ve read the 9-11 cost to the economy of this was about $3 trillion. That combines to be a $13 trillion punch to a $10 trillion a year economy. Economies are highly damped systems and change direction slowly. Once everyone is hunkered down, it takes while before businesses and consumers decide that maybe the sky is not going to fall after all and then start to look upon the world more brightly. It also takes time to replenish the $13 trillion dollar loss.
I think Bush’s tax cuts and Greenspan’s aggressive interest rate cuts and vigorous pumping of the money supply have started the economy on the right course. The jobs numbers are looking better all the time. I think they would have been even better than they are, but the bump in oil prices this spring slowed things a bit. The back-to-back hurricanes will likely degrade performance slightly.
At this point, the unemployment rate is lower than it was when Clinton was up for re-election. I think the economy is now like a freight train building steam and speed. For the next two years, barring some unforeseen event, the economy will boom brilliantly regardless of who the president is.
Kerry is in the unenviable position of having to pray for bad things to happen so Bush will look bad and people will turn to Kerry. I’m glad I’m not in his shoes.
I believe Bush will win handily. It seems that all around the country the polls are moving in Bush's direction. I suspect it is not only the well run Republican convention, but I think the recent terrorist attacks in Russia have remind voters of threat we face. One may argue Kerry would be more effective fighting terrorism, but people are reluctant to change horses in the middle of a raging river. To put it another way, better the devil you know than the one you don’t.
I've seen snippets of Kerry speaking. I don't know if he’s just tired, has a health problem he’s keeping secret, it’s just his nature or has mentally conceded defeat. He says the words, but there’s just no passion. Listening to a Cheney speech has been likened to watching paint dry. But Kerry doesn’t seem to be much better.
Say what you will about Zell Miller and Al Sharpton, but at least they had passion.
The Kerry campaign has made a few mistakes and, so far, the Bush campaign is running like a well oiled machine.
I don’t think the Democrats had any great candidates this election cycle. I think Kerry was chosen because the Democratic base hated Bush and they thought Kerry could beat him.
I think Kerry is trying to thread a delicate needle. The Democratic base is against the war in Iraq in greater percentages than the general electorate. If Kerry goes too hawkish on Iraq, he loses his base. If he goes too dovish, he loses the rest of the electorate. I think that’s why we keep seeing those conflicting message coming out of the campaign, he’s trying to appeal to both groups at once. That’s a tall order.
The Republicans also had the advantage of having their convention after the Democrats. That allowed them to see what worked and what didn’t and adjust.
This is really Bush’ fourth Presidential election. He was involved in both his father’s and then his own. That gives him more presidential campaign experience than Kerry. I also think he saw what happened to his father in 1992 and is doing everything he can to not repeat the same mistakes.
Although Bush is ahead, world events could move the campaign in either direction. If Iraq appeared to be coming apart at the seams, I think that would help Kerry. A terrorist attack on US soil I think MIGHT help Bush, but that’s really a coin flip. It could go either way.
There are the debates. A major gaff by either candidate could sink their candidacy – although since Bush is generally considered almost illiterate, it would likely hurt him less.
Then there are those CBS memos. It now seems they are likely fakes. If they get traced back to the Kerry campaign, that could be bad. But I expect CBS will prevent that.
It now seems those memos CBS has copies of are bogus. Now the question is where did they come from? If they can be traced back to the Kerry campaign, it will not be good for him.
After three years of the war on terror, the lack of a conventional "front line" or large battles has made it difficult to determine easily who is winning. But a little effort reveals battles won and lost, and who is occupying what territory. Three years ago, al Qaeda had most of Afghanistan available for training camps and other facilities. There was even a "forged documents office" that operated openly in Kabul. Al Qaeda, or related organizations, operated extensively in over fifty countries, especially places like Indonesia, Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Chechnya, Iraq and Western Europe. Over 70,000 people were actively involved in planning and carrying out attacks. And the number of attacks against American targets grew during the 1990s, starting with a bombing of the World Trade Center in New York in 1993. But al Qaeda was handled as a criminal matter until September 11, 2001. After that, it was war.
In three years, al Qaeda has been driven out of most of its sanctuaries. Initially, al Qaeda was very popular among Moslems, and the slaughter of thousands of infidels (non-Moslems) on September 11, 2001, caused spontaneous celebrations throughout the Moslem world. That celebratory mood has been slowly changing, as more and more Moslems see al Qaeda for what it really is. After the slaughter of children in southern Russia earlier this month, the Moslem media finally moved broadly against al Qaeda and its terror tactics. This is significant, for Islamic radical terrorists are nothing new in the Islamic world. There have been several outbreaks in the last few centuries. Such violence can be defeated, and always is. One of the key factors in defeating these outbreaks is the local media turning against the radicals.
But even before the media shift, the American led coalition had shut down major al Qaeda camps and organizations. There have been no attacks in the United States since 2001, despite energetic efforts by al Qaeda. The terrorists have been forced to make their attacks in out-of-the-way places. With thousands of similar targets world wide, and hundreds of thousands of eager young men and women willing to join their cause, al Qaeda has been able to accomplish little.
A recent example occurred on September 9th, when Yemeni army troops killed Islamic radical cleric Hussein al Houthi and some of his followers. This ended a ten week effort to capture or kill the pro-terrorist al Houthi. Radical Islam has long been popular with the tribes of northern Yemen (along the Saudi border). Osama bin Laden's family came from this area, moving north after World War II to take advantage of opportunities in Saudi Arabia's oil boom. Many of the bin Laden clan are Islamic conservatives, but Osama is the only one to turn violent.
Iraq has also served as an attractive place for Persian Gulf Islamic radicals to go and die. Iraq also served to inflame Saudi Arabian al Qaeda members, who began attacking targets within their own country. This led to an open, energetic, successful and long overdue crackdown on the terrorists in the country that created so many of them. The Arab governments of the Persian Gulf, long neutral about al Qaeda, are not actively attacking the organization.
Al Qaeda went to war with the world, and the world is winning.
Are the memos in the CBS news cast genuine? I don’t know. CBS, now backed into a corner says they are. All we have is their word on it. The analysis I read on the net points out one flaw after another. In addition, both Killian’s wife and son say they are fakes, but CBS never interview them. I wonder why not?
All CBS has to do is produce the documents for all to examine. But instead, CBS is not only not producing the documents they won’t say how they got them. It makes one wonder. What do they have to hide? Did they get them from the Kerry campaign? Inquiring minds want to know.
From Cox & Forkum
I was driving to get my haircut this morning. They were playing recordings of the sounds of 9/11/01. I could barely keep my composure well enough to drive. It made me angry all over again.
This is another of Karol's Gladiola's. I really like the color combination of this one. The mixture of orange and yellow really look beautiful.
After much debate and soul-searching, we have finally decided on a new name. It is, drum roll please, “Eastern Business Solutions.”
I’ve checked with the state of New Jersey and there is not other company by that name in New Jersey. Now I’m going to start slowly blending it into our marketing and correspondence.
I see the current Presidential campaign as reaching a tipping point. Already Kerry is starting to cut back ad buys in certain states. Bush is up by many points in many states. Now a recent WASHINGTON POST / ABC News poll puts Bush up 52 to 43.
The Kerry campaign is in real trouble.
After training, Bush kept flying, racking up hundreds of hours in F-102 jets. As he did, he accumulated points toward his National Guard service requirements. At the time, guardsmen were required to accumulate a minimum of 50 points to meet their yearly obligation.
According to records released earlier this year, Bush earned 253 points in his first year, May 1968 to May 1969 (since he joined in May 1968, his service thereafter was measured on a May-to-May basis).
Bush earned 340 points in 1969-1970. He earned 137 points in 1970-1971. And he earned 112 points in 1971-1972. . . .
That brings the story to May 1972 — the time that has been the focus of so many news reports — when Bush “deserted” (according to anti-Bush filmmaker Michael Moore) or went “AWOL” (according to Terry McAuliffe, chairman of the Democratic National Committee).
Bush asked for permission to go to Alabama to work on a Senate campaign. His superior officers said OK. Requests like that weren’t unusual, says retired Col. William Campenni, who flew with Bush in 1970 and 1971.
“In 1972, there was an enormous glut of pilots,” Campenni says. “The Vietnam War was winding down, and the Air Force was putting pilots in desk jobs. In ’72 or ’73, if you were a pilot, active or Guard, and you had an obligation and wanted to get out, no problem. In fact, you were helping them solve their problem.”
So Bush stopped flying. From May 1972 to May 1973, he earned just 56 points — not much, but enough to meet his requirement.
Then, in 1973, as Bush made plans to leave the Guard and go to Harvard Business School, he again started showing up frequently.
In June and July of 1973, he accumulated 56 points, enough to meet the minimum requirement for the 1973-1974 year.
Then, at his request, he was given permission to go.
From The Hill
Last week, when my wife and youngest daughter asked if they could greet me at the arrival gate ("My husband's a soldier returning from Iraq," Kathy said), one airport security officer and an airline counter clerk conspired to let them. My daughter didn't even have a photo ID, a by-the-book requirement to pass airport screening. I suspect the clerk and security officer are pros at reading people, and the delight in Christiana's eyes positively identified her as a teenager relieved of long-term, sobering worry.
Sapped by jetlag, I ambled off the airplane, right into my ladies' smiling faces. The family hug lasted a decade or so. In case anyone wonders, colonels do cry (at least this colonel did) -- one tear down the left cheek. "You're home and safe, Dad," my daughter said.
Safety at home is the core raison d'etre for this war, and safety at home, on a planet linked by jumbo jets and instant communications, means fundamentally changing the failed states and despotic hellholes that export their religious, civil, tribal and gang wars as terrorism.
Sept. 11 shook, but failed to shatter, a premise shared by many Western elites that "the talking cure" of diplomacy and our demonstrated good intentions will inevitably bring a negotiated harmony. The tut-tutting media celebs who urge Russia's Vladimir Putin to negotiate with the beasts who killed more than 300 children, parents and teachers in Beslan simply fail to see our enemies for what they are.
To paraphrase Churchill, "jaw jaw" surely beats "war war," but our enemies think talk signals a flagging will to resist.
Globally we confront two enemies, and I have seen both of them in Iraq.
Despots and autocrats are the first enemy. The despot, with an arrogance that comes from never being held responsible for his crimes, believes his iron resolve eventually will trump the spineless advocates of democracy. Despots -- like the Saddamist holdouts fighting in Iraq -- believe all they need to do is keep killing until everyone is cowed. Why not? It's worked for them before. The arrogance only ends when a Green Beret -- or, with increasing frequency, an Iraqi cop -- blows his head off in a raid.
The despots are, in their own way, at war with modernity. Successful modern political systems liberate human creativity. A freed imagination ultimately demands a greater say in governance -- which means the end of the tyrant.
The second enemy we face feeds off the unfortunate victims of the first. The second enemy is the Islamist religious extremist. I have many Muslim friends, and they are the first targets of the bin Ladens and Zarqawis. Is this enemy a "death cult"? Not really -- note that the top dogs aren't suicidal. This enemy is an aggressive, imperialistic, violent sect that, in one guise or another, has plagued Islam for centuries.
This Islamist enemy is also at war with modernity. These radicals seek "imperial restoration." Recall bin Laden complained of "80 years of Muslim indignation and suffering," the result of Turkish reformer Kemal Ataturk's 1924 decision to end the caliphate. History, going wrong for Islamist expansionists since at least the 16th century, went totally tilt when the caliphate dissolved.
The 21st century Islamist radicals, however, really aim for global domination, with themselves as the sole interpreters and enforcers of what they deem God's laws.
If there is one mistake I think we've made in fighting this war, it's been the way we've soft-pedaled the ideological dimensions. This really is a fight for the future, between our free, open political system and the unholy alliance of despots and Islamo-fascists whose very existence depends on denying liberty.
Iraq -- long plundered by despotism -- should be a wealthy country. It has water, an agricultural base, a source of capital (oil) and people willing to work. It is the best place to begin to reform the dysfunctional political systems that shackle and rob the vast the majority of Middle Easterners. The lesson of 9-11, three years on, is that liberty must sustain a focused offensive if it is to survive.
That's an enormous undertaking, and I've seen firsthand in Iraq just how complex and costly a task it is. Strategically, however, we must do it to protect our free and open society, and to provide our families with the security they dearly deserve.
From Austin Bay
I still think about the despicable attack the Russians just suffered. It is my hope that the US Military is already training for just such an attack.
I read that the school had recently been renovated and the terrorists smuggle weapons and ammunition into the school while the work was being done.
Arlington, Va. -- For the first time ever, soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery were given permission to leave their post at the Tomb of the Unknowns if Hurricane Isabel became too dangerous.
"We made the decision we were going to stand where we were," said Army Sgt. 1st Class Fredrick Geary, 37.
Around the clock each day for about two hours at a time, seven soldiers take turns manning the tomb where the first Unknown Soldier was buried in 1921. But on Thursday night, during the height of the storm, Sgt. of the Guard Geary took it upon himself to march for 5-1/2 hours before the tomb against heavy rain and 60 mph wind gusts.
The wind was so strong that it felled at least 24 trees on cemetery grounds, most more than 20 years old. In turn, three headstones were crushed. Crews began working at 4 a.m. Friday to clean up the 612 acres scattered with downed trees and limbs. The tombstones could be replaced within two weeks, officials say.
Looking at the tomb on Friday, Geary, who led the charge to stay, choked up: "Did they volunteer? Did they get drafted? How did they die? They did their job and this country paid them back by not remembering who they were. We have a job to do here and at no time was a life in danger.
"It was my life. I was just doing what I believed to be right."
I've researched this story and it's authenticity is uncertain.
Bill Fay, an evangelist who was guest speaker at the Crossroads Bible Church in Bellevue, Washington on Sunday, September 9th, returned to his home Monday, September 10. On his American Airline flight, he saw a flight attendant breaking up ice with a wine bottle. He got up from his seat and asked her if there wasn’t another way she could do it more safely. He said he was afraid she would hurt herself. She was moved that he would be so concerned. He then gave her a gospel tract to read when she had a spare moment. A short time later, she found Bill and told him that this was the sixth gospel tract she had received from someone.
"What does God want from me?" she asked.
Bill responded, "Your life".
A few minutes later, he was praying with her to accept Jesus Christ as her personal Lord and Savior.
After September 11th's attack on the World Trade towers, Bill looked up the names of those on American Airlines Flight 11, the first plane that crashed into the World Trade Center. The stewardess’ name was listed.
I installed Service Pack 2 for Windows XP this weekend. It was an uneventful installation. The only thing I’ve noticed so far is the new Pop-Up blocker that works in Internet Explorer. It works very well. Now they just need to add something to block the ad ware stuff.
I’m wondering what kind of medical care Bill Clinton received while he was in the White House. It’s been almost four years he left the Oval Office and now he’s just received a quadruple bypass. Did they not spot trouble in one of his previous medical exams?
Four years is a short time in which to need a quadruple bypass so suddenly.
To recent polls put Bush up over Kerry by 11 points. I don’t know if it’ll hold, but it’s got to really hurt Kerry and demoralize his troops. In any contest, part of the competition is psychological.
I’ve always felt this was not going to be a close race in the end. Too many people were predicting a razor close race. I have this stubborn belief that the conventional wisdom is almost always wrong.
So now Kerry's really angry and he going to say really nasty things about Bush. What's he going to do, ask whether or not Bush was AWOL from the ANG? Wait, he already did that. Is he going to accuse Bush of going into Iraq without a plan to win the peace? Wait, he did that too. Ok, is he going to accuse Bush of being Hitler? Wait, Moveon.org already did that. Is he going to call Bush a miserable failure? Wait, Gephardt already said that during the primaries.
I give up. What nasty things is he going to say about Bush that hasn't already been said?
American combat losses continue at a historically low level. Since March 2003, American troops have suffered 7,900 casualties (including 976 dead.) This is an unprecedented killed to wounded ratio of 1:8. In past wars, the ratio had been 1:4 or 1:5. American combat deaths over the summer were 42 in June 54 in July and 66 in August. There are the equivalent of three American combat divisions in Iraq, each running several hundred patrols and other combat operations each day. Never have combat divisions, operating in hostile territory, kept their casualties this low. The news media, concentrating on any losses as the story have generally missed the historical significance of the low casualties. The American armed forces have developed new equipment, weapons and tactics that have transformed combat operations in an unprecedented way. This is recognized within the military, but is generally ignored, or misunderstood, by the general media.
This is one of Karol's Gladiola's. Each fall she takes the bulbs in and then brings them out each spring and replants them. The only trouble with them is that the fall over. The flowers are beautiful, but they're always laying on the ground.
The brutal hostage taking and murders in Russia should remind us what civilization is up against. This is a world war between the forces of civilization and the forces of chaos.
I don’t care what their cause was, the deliberate attack on the school can only be described as evil. Moral relativism is dead and hopefully will remain so.
The gauntlet has been thrown down and we cannot avoid it. The war as come upon us and we must fight or die. A takeoff of a Bush quote, "We must not tire, we must not falter, and we must not fail."
My mother is recovering slowly. Her lungs are still operating at much less that full capacity. She is sluggish and tired.
While Bush was campaigning in Wisconsin, he received word of Clinton being hospitalized for a heart condition. He announced it to his audience. The Associated Press reported that the crowd booed and Bush did nothing to stop them.
Except that, report is an outright lie. The crowd did not boo. Not a single person booed.
1. We will fight for freedom. We reject moral relativism.
Freedom and fear are at war. The advance of human freedom -- the great achievement of our time, and the great hope of every time -- now depends on us. Our nation -- this generation -- will lift a dark threat of violence from our people and our future. We will rally the world to this cause by our efforts, by our courage. We will not tire, we will not falter, and we will not fail.
2. The friends of our enemies are also our enemies.
Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists. From this day forward, any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime.
3. We reserve the right to hit our enemies before they strike us.
The war on terror will not be won on the defensive. We must take the battle to the enemy, disrupt his plans, and confront the worst threats before they emerge. In the world we have entered, the only path to safety is the path of action. And this nation will act.
4. We will not negotiate with those who continue to support terrorism.
Every leader actually committed to peace will end incitement to violence in official media and publicly denounce homicide bombs. Every nation actually committed to peace will stop the flow of money, equipment, and recruits to terrorist groups seeking the destruction of Israel, including Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah.
From Citizen Smash
My mother has recovered sufficiently that she has been released from the hospital and is now recuperating at home. She is weak, tires easily, has a rash from the medication, but she can now rest in relaxing surroundings.
I see the Kerry camp starting to implode. The Swift Boat Vets are taking apart piece-by-piece his only justification for running, his 16 weeks in Vietnam.
With Kerry there is no there there. All he says is that he would do things better and smarter than Bush. Where’s his justification for that claim? What has he ever done to demonstrate that he can fulfill his promise?
I predict Bush will walk away with the election. Kerry is doomed.