Thursday, November 30, 2006

Liberal Avenger's superpowers update

I reported some hours ago on a post at the "Liberal Avenger" site--a blog that's not consistently bad enough (at this point) to qualify for Bad Blogs' Blood but still bizarre enough to warrant comment occasionally.
"LA" (stands for "Liberal Avenger"?) posted that Iraq's PM Maliki had blown off President Bush regarding the talks in Jordan.

"Dana" got in one of the first replies, and put it well:
I didn’t even hear about this until you mentioned it — and by that time, I had already seen the video of Presidents Bu[s]h and al-Maliki meeting!
You go, Dana.

Al Jazeera has the Arabesque version of the story (don't forget that they are pawns of the Bush administration):
Three-way talks cancelled
Original plans for three-way talks were abandoned at the last minute but talks between Bush and al-Maliki went ahead in Jordan.
They met for a working breakfast at the hotel where Bush is staying.
Explanations for the change to the scheduled talks between Bush, al-Maliki and King Abdullah were confusing.
White House officials said the Jordanians and the Iraqis jointly decided three-way talks were not the best use of time as both parties would be meeting the president separately.
(Al Jazeera)

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

"Liberal Avenger" flexes superpower

Some yahoo at the Liberal Avenger site (goes by LA) made a big deal about right wing blog silence on the issue of the planned meeting between President Bush and PM Maliki.
the PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA makes a trip to JORDAN to meet with Iraqi PM Maliki and Maliki blows Bush off
LA provides no news story in support of his supposition that Maliki blew off Bush.
Bush is set to hold breakfast talks Thursday with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki on ways of ending the escalating violence in Iraq and later they will hold a joint news conference.

Expected three-way talks between Bush, Maliki and King Abdullah Wednesday were cancelled by Jordan because of "a lack of time", a Jordanian official said.
(The News International [Pakistan])

Al Jazeera hasn't updated yet, but they're reporting a boycott of the Iraq government by al-Sadr.

What's in a word? Civil war & such

This media naming of the residual conflict in Iraq is fascinating.

Some mainstream media outlets have taken to calling the sectarian violence in Iraq "civil war," and they're fond of claiming that the term is being used after "careful consideration."

Media outlets feel as though they need to justify the decision because the White House has emphasized that it does not favor using the term. White House justification for the claim seems pretty clear. People will regard the war less favorably with visions of US troops caught between opposing armed factions.

So, what's this "careful consideration"?
But after careful consideration, NBC News has decided a change in terminology is warranted — that the situation in Iraq with armed militarized factions fighting for their own political agendas — can now be characterized as a civil war.
(Washington Monthly, quoting NBC News)
The "careful consideration" appears to amount to a determination that the conflict can be made to fit the proffered definition.

Are armed military factions "fighting," though?
Aren't armed militias simply killing civilians?
What is the supposed political agenda?

Sorry, NBC (and others), but I don't see careful consideration, here.

The truth of the new term is probably explained by logic the reverse of what what the White House used. They are against US involvement in Iraq, and calling the hostilities "civil war" helps advance the cause.
I listened to editors of a major US daily discuss the new terminology--they weren't sure what to do, but they said they wanted to employ "careful consideration" which prompted the question of what the New York Times was doing.
That's one way to carefully consider the issue, I suppose.
One of the editors had the novel idea of finding out what experts said about it (I wonder which experts we're talking about?).

So far, I don't see much "careful consideration," but this story in the Washington Post seems somewhat balanced, at least:

Editors at The Associated Press have discussed the issue and haven't reached a definitive stance, said John Daniszewski, international editor. Most often, the conflict is called "the war in Iraq" or identified with descriptive terms such as sectarian fighting, anti-government attacks or ethnic clashes, he said.

He pointed to the different definitions experts have for civil wars.

"From a historical point of view, not every civil war is called by that name, and wars by their very nature are not always neatly categorized," he said. "For instance, the American Revolutionary War, the Vietnam War and the more recent wars in Bosnia and Kosovo were all civil wars according to the broader definition, yet we do not normally think or speak of them that way."

(Washington Post)

The word choice doesn't make any difference as to the nature of the conflict. The reasons for using the term or avoid it mostly amount to political considerations.
Until armed political factions are fighting each other to attain political ends, the term civil war will not apply to the conflict in its traditional sense.

Maybe political factions will soon be fighting one another to achieve political ends. Maybe they're already engaged against one another--I'm not under the illusion that the news coming out of Iraq is an accurate picture.

When and if that's the case, then there's a good case for using "civil war." Absent that rationale, the use of the term constitutes an editorial judgment in the news pages--supposedly anathema at a major U.S. daily.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

What the MSM doesn't want to hear

President Bush's speech in Estonia made a point that has not received enough emphasis from the White House--and the old media have helped to keep the issue quiet.
The battles in Iraq and Afghanistan are part of a struggle between moderation and extremism that is unfolding across the broader Middle East. Our enemy follows a hateful ideology that rejects fundamental freedoms like the freedom to speak, to assemble, or to worship God in the way you see fit. It opposes the rights for women. Their goal is to overthrow governments and to impose their totalitarian rule on millions. They have a strategy to achieve these aims. They seek to convince America and our allies that we cannot defeat them, and that our only hope is to withdraw and abandon an entire region to their domination. The war on terror we fight today is more than a military conflict; it is the decisive ideological struggle of the 21st century. And in this struggle, we can accept nothing less than victory for our children and our grandchildren.
Any plan for Iraq that fails to account for that ideological conflict almost certainly creates a monstrous problem for U.S. and Western futures.
The Democrat majorities have not yet come to grips with that reality, and I see little reason at present to suppose that will change.

Naturally, the MSM fail to report that important paragraph in favor of what they deem more important.
See for yourself.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Pelosi wins one after losing one

Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi (blech, by the way) got her choice for the House Intelligence Committee, bypassing the more senior Jane Harman (Calif.) in favor of Alcee Hastings (Fla.).

The move is slightly odd because Harman is more suited to the Intelligence Committee than Hastings and because of Harman's more senior role in the House leadership within the Democrat Party. Add to that Hastings' past ethical/legal problems in what Pelosi has already billed as the most ethical and honest congress ever.
On the other hand, Pelosi had differences with Harman, and since Hastings is black it will help the Dems politically if seen as payback for support of Democrat candidates from black voters.
The Miami Herald put most of its focus on the ascendancy of black power in Congress before getting closer to the root of the issue:
Controversy has clouded the prospects for a possible fifth chairmanship. By seniority, Rep. Jane Harman of California should lead the powerful House Intelligence Committee, but House Speaker-elect Nancy Pelosi has indicated that she'll pick another Democrat on the panel because of past tensions between them.
Next in line for the intelligence chair would be Rep. Alcee Hastings of Miramar. Some newspapers and magazines have editorialized against selecting Hastings because of his past impeachment as a federal judge.
(Miami Herald)

Note: I heard a report (radio, IIRC) that Hastings was in, but apparently that's not official just yet. Thus, this post jumps the gun in granting Pelosi a victory in getting Hastings installed. Certainly the Miami Herald story doesn't confirm that Hastings has won the position.

Jan. 27, 2011:  BLTN, fixed spelling of Nancy Pelosi's first name.

What is Charles Rangel thinking?

Representative Charlie Rangel of NY has again introduced legislation proposing to re-introduce the military draft.

This seems like an odd move after some Democrats (I'm not sure it was the DNC) campaigned to students that Bush and Republicans would re-institute the draft. I know that Rangel--against the data--feels that the volunteer army somehow preys on minorities--but even so this move seems strange coming so soon after the election.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Bucs knock off Redskins--next is Turkey Day vs. Dallas

It was nice to finally experience another win.

The Bucs turned in a first half reminiscent of the Monday Night Football loss to the Carolina Panthers. The defense played well, limiting the Redskins to under 100 yards of offense, but the Bucs' offense scored only 3 points because of two turnovers in Redskin territory.

Fortunately, the second half was far different than on Monday night. The Redskins were the team committing the costly turnover in the second half, and the Bucs came from behind 10-3 to win the game 20-17.

Carnell Williams atoned for some mistakes in Monday's game by running extremely well, picking up about 120 yards on the ground. He also caught two passes and turned in good YAC on those.

Though it won't look like it on the stat sheet, however, Mike Alstott was a huge key in the game. The Bucs had trouble running against the Redskins early, but Alstott's number was called three consecutive times in the first half and turned in nice gains while breaking tackles and leaving various Redskin defenders in his wake.

Part of the key is that Alstott got the running game going and put the fear of the run into the Redskins. The other thing was that whenever Alstott gets a sniff of the football at a Tampa Bay home game, the crowd goes nuts. He's an incredibly popular player--it seems like most TB fans think that Alstott would have numbers like Barry Sanders' if he carried the ball often enough.

Who knows what Alstott would have done if Gruden had tried at all to feature him in this offense? We'll never know. Maybe he would have been beaten up and retired three seasons ago. He still shows some impressive skills running the ball, however. The way he shrinks the target while closing in on shrinking defensive backs is a joy to behold. If the defender tries to hit him above the ankles, he'll have to contend with Alstott's shoulder pads. The guy has an inhuman ability to punish tacklers that way.

Props to the defense for playing pretty well despite missing quite a few bodies. Dewayne White made some splash plays filling in for Simeon Rice. That was nice to see. Barrett Ruud made you forget that Shelton Quarles was taking up space on the sideline. That provides some hope for the future. Much-maligned (by superficial fans, anyway) Juran Bolden kept filling in capably for the out-for-the-season Brian Kelly. Bolden got his ankle rolled on a tackle--it could end up being a bad injury--but I want to give him props for showing up every nickel corner (or would-be Kelly substitute) we've had since Dwight Smith (now with the Vikings after a stint with the Saints).

And, finally, the Gradkowski report.

Grads turned in a pretty solid game--it would have been downright great if we could take away the pass near the goal-line that was intercepted by Shawn Springs and the fumbled exchange from center in Redskin territory that gave Washington the ball instead of a possible touchdown or field-goal attempt.
Grads threw accurate short and intermediate-length passes (no bombs today unless we count the lob to Galloway that burned Washington's blitz late in the game), showed good command of the offense, scrambled for some key first downs, and did a nice job with the hand-offs and play fakes.

I was hoping for this type of game against the Giants and the Panthers. If he can complete the short passes, it won't matter if he misfires on the long ones--though of course the defense has plenty to do with where the ball ends up most times.

In summary, this game offered hope for the future--and the fact that Atlanta and New Orleans both lost today even supplies a fleeting hope for this season if the Bucs can turn in a miraculous string of great performances.
Next up: Dallas, fresh off an impressive win against formerly undefeated Indianapolis. Short week for both teams--Dallas played in late afternoon while the Bucs played early, but the Cowboys don't have to travel while the Bucs need to hop on a plane Wednesday.

It's really a brutal schedule right now, with the Bucs playing three games (two on the road) in the space of 11 days.

Go Bucs.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Bucs stink on MNF

The first half wasn't so bad.
The defense looked good, and the offense made enough plays to take a 7-0 lead into halftime.

Then the wheels came off.

The Bucs committed a couple of key turnovers (fumbles) allowing Carolina to put together a pair of short TD drives. Trailing late in the game 17-10 and needing a defensive stop, the defense allowed Carolina to soak up time working the ball down the field before allowing a deep TD pass to Steve Smith.
It looked like the safety missed his coverage responsibility on that one (Kalvin Pearson).

"Cadillac" Williams had a poor game, fumbling the ball away after running into his own lineman, and then later dropping a pass from Gradkowski that hit him in both hands.

This is the stuff that bad football teams do. The Bucs were a bad football team in the second half.

On a significant side note, get the officials some glasses and some brains.
Keyshawn Johnson twice took a dive near the sidelines deliberately trying to draw an unnecessary roughness penalty. We're talking clown-style flailing arms prior to a staged pratfall, here. The second time the officials called Juran Bolden for unnecessary roughness. That was a terrible call. Johnson should have been flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct in both cases.
It didn't have a whole lot to do with the outcome of the game, but it was disgusting seeing the officials allow Keyshawn to manufacture a goal-to-go situation based on dishonest trickery.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Why no comments @ "The Liberal Avenger"?

A few minutes ago, I updated a post about the minimum wage because my comments at a liberal site were not appearing.

Well, chances are I've figured out why.

The Liberal Avenger allows "Amanda" of the Pandagon blog to post as part of a group blog. Amanda and Pandagon are sure to appear at Bad Blogs' Blood. Certainly the practice of banning a new visitor from commenting on a site seems against the principle of free speech.

Not that I think that I'm entitled to post anywhere I wish, mind you--I simply find it inconsonant with the typical liberal chorus on that issue.

In this case, one of the Pandragon crossovers (probably Amanda) is protecting the blog readers from a criticism of an economic argument, based on the entirely dubious proposition that I'm a "troll."
I'll lay that "troll" idea to rest when BBB takes on Pandagon.

Thanks to Amanda (or possibly a close ally), the "Liberal Avenger" comes across as a tights-wearing coward--unwilling to test its ideas against opposing arguments.

Terrorist weighs in on U.S. election


(CBS/AP) Al Qaeda in Iraq taunted President Bush on Friday to keep American troops in the country because the terrorist organization had not shed "enough of your blood," bragging that it now has 12,000 fighters in the war-torn country.

The terror group also welcomed the U.S. Republican electoral defeat that led to the departure of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and vowed to continue its fight until the White House is blown up.
Why would a terrorist be happy about Democrats doing well in the elections? Well, I guess he's happy either way, since he wants Bush to keep U.S. troops in the country ...

In the tape, al-Muhajir praised the outcome of Tuesday's elections in which Democrats swept to power in the House and the Senate, in large part due to U.S. voter dissatisfaction over the handling of the war in Iraq.

"The American people have put their feet on the right path by ... realizing their president's betrayal in supporting Israel," the terror leader said. "So they voted for something reasonable in the last elections." He did not explain his logic.

The authenticity of the tape has not yet been confirmed. It may just be Karl Rove in disguise.

Friday, November 10, 2006

What about that minimum wage?

My bloghopping has had me at "The Liberal Avenger" site, and I've already critiqued one of the bloggers.

Here's a critique of a different blogger, "Ape Man," who makes a case for raising the minimum wage "until it reaches its highest economically sustainable level"--he suggests $7.50/hr at minimum.

Now, I do want to emphasize that it's a pleasure to debate the issue in terms of plausible reasoning compared to the other blog post I pointed out.

The basis for Ape Man's argument appears to be the supposition that the U.S. job market has significant aspects of a monopsony (control of demand). That claim seems very hard to justify given low unemployment. How can employers control demand when the supply of workers is low? Realistically, I mean.
Ape Man trots out the U.K. as a model for the success of raising the minimum wage. I double-checked unemployment figures for the U.K.--about as low as for the U.S.

Low unemployment exerts market pressure for higher wages (supply and demand). Go much above where the market would go by itself, and increased unemployment should result.

I'll reproduce my reply to Ape Man here, since a delay in seeing it appear gives me some doubt that it will appear.
Ack--seem to have lost it (drat that extra cut-and-paste).

In brief, I wrote as above that monopsonic conditions do not seem to apply broadly during times of low unemployment, and that establishing a wage floor is a fundamentally inflationary strategy.

I'm predicting that Democrat economic policies will result in inflation and unemployment, btw. It's almost unfair to predict the latter, of course, since unemployment is at very low levels currently. The Dems get a pass until they hit 7 percent. That'd be a pretty big jump in two years.
No doubt they'll blame Bush for it in time for the next election!

Update: (11-11-06) I'm not quite sure what's up with the "Liberal Avenger" site. I posted there the other day but my comment did not appear--though there's no stated indication from what I can see that the comments are screened by an administrator.
Given the lack of a stated screening policy, I tried (yesterday) posting the same comment again, thereupon receiving the message that I had tried to post a duplicate message.

We'll see what's up.

MI-5's director-general assesses war on terror

In keeping with my recent emphasis on the enduring importance of the war on terror (and with a big hat tip to Hugh Hewitt):

We now know that the first Al-Qaida-related plot against the UK was the one we discovered and disrupted in November 2000 in Birmingham. A British citizen is currently serving a long prison sentence for plotting to detonate a large bomb in the UK. Let there be no doubt about this: the international terrorist threat to this country is not new. It began before Iraq, before Afghanistan, and before 9/11.

It could still be Bush's fault, of course, since he was running for election around that time. Sorry for interrupting.

[M]y officers and the police are working to contend with some 200 groupings or networks, totalling over 1600 identified individuals (and there will be many we don’t know) who are actively engaged in plotting, or facilitating, terrorist acts here and overseas. The extremists are motivated by a sense of grievance and injustice driven by their interpretation of the history between the West and the Muslim world. This view is shared, in some degree, by a far wider constituency. If the opinion polls conducted in the UK since July 2005 are only broadly accurate, over 100,000 of our citizens consider that the July 2005 attacks in London were justified. What we see at the extreme end of the spectrum are resilient networks, some directed from Al-Qaida in Pakistan, some more loosely inspired by it, planning attacks including mass casualty suicide attacks in the UK. Today we see the use of home-made improvised explosive devices; tomorrow’s threat may include the use of chemicals, bacteriological agents, radioactive materials and even nuclear technology. More and more people are moving from passive sympathy towards active terrorism through being radicalised or indoctrinated by friends, families, in organised training events here and overseas, by images on television, through chat rooms and websites on the Internet.
(The Times[UK])
We'd all better hope the new Democrat-led congress will be up to the challenge.

I polled some people a couple of weeks ago--the sample ended up too small to count for much in terms of statistics--and one of the questions concerned whether terrorists would be encouraged by a U.S. pullout from Iraq. The vast majority of the small sample had no idea (a smaller number were confident that it wouldn't matter to terrorists).

It seems to me certain that abandoning Iraq to its internal conflicts will certainly embolden terrorists. Their framework for success against the West will have been tested and found successful: Engage the enemy with terrorist tactics, prolong the tactics until public sentiment runs against sustaining Western engagement, then spread culturally on the basis of the success.

This strategy is brilliantly appropriate for use against democracies. The strategy worked in Vietnam since North Vietnam was not attacked militarily as it could have been. Terrorist networks unaffiliated with governments have that advantage built-in, and so much the better if the government clandestinely turns a blind eye to their activities--indeed, in today's climate regimes who openly encourage terrorism (Iran) are safer from confrontation with the ascendancy of liberals in the legislative branch of the U.S.--and nobody else in the West is stepping boldly up to the plate to take our place.

The terrorists will be situated brilliantly to effectively attack Westerners at home, especially in Europe where EU nations have large Muslim populations whose sympathies may be brought in line with those of extremist groups.

Muslims in the U.S. are apparently a bit less sympathetic to the extremists by percentage, but it really doesn't take many to accomplish tremendous damage through the techniques that will increasingly become available to terrorists.

Without an attitude adjustment, the hour of the West may be nearing its end.

Amending the Sith blogroll

Some may have noticed that, unlike most partisan political blogs (I figure this one qualifies as partisan!), I will blogroll sites that disagree with me politically if it strikes me that they do a decent job of defending/rationalizing their political views.
I put such sites on the Sith blogroll.

Today I'm making a couple of changes to the Sith blogroll. I'm removing "Off the Kuff" by Charles Kuffner for no better reason than the fact that he doesn't write much that interests me. He's a reasonable enough writer, but most of it's about Texas and Texas politics--not too interesting to this Florida blogger. I'd be more interested in his writing if he wrote like Brad Friedman, whose blog was recently honored at my other blogging site, Bad Blogs' Blood.

I'm replacing "Off the Cuff" at the top of the Sith Blogroll with Democrat Orson Scott Card's weekly column. Scott is a science-fiction writer by trade, and according to my recollection I have read a few of his stories (my sci-fi faves are Lem, Niven, and Simmons, FWIW). I'd recently been reminded of Orson Scott Card's political writing when he issued a column bemoaning the Democratic Party's probable approach to the war on terror--he's not from the left fringe of the party in that he favors a decisive military stance against Islamic extremists.

I just want to make clear that he's not being elevated to the top of the Sith blogroll based on that opinion. I'm anticipating disagreements with his writing on other issues, and I'm more likely to find his topics interesting compared to Kuffner's subject matter.

The other two on the Sith blogroll, "Kele's Journey" and "Wick o' the Bailey," have both gone dormant--especially Kele Cable's blog (nothing new since mid-July).
I'll probably keep both on the Sith blogroll until something better displaces them

Don't hold your breath. The pickings seem fairly slim.

Another fine blog from the right

I'm quite certain that I'm biased, but it seems to me much easier to locate conservative blogs that comment intelligently about issues (focused on facts and analysis instead of ridicule and such).

I just ran across "Common Sense Political Thought," a group conservative blog.
Good stuff. That's the style of blog I'd like to find from a liberal perspective--folks who can express a cogent set of thoughts and then prove willing to discuss them ably.

So far, I'm looking in the wrong places for intelligent liberal thought. Feel free to point me in the right direction, anybody.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Ineptitude at "The Liberal Avenger"

Maybe it's supposed to be a joke, but blogger "sirkowski" has posted with a headline proclaiming "Worldnet Daily: Karl Rove is Gay."
The article says nothing of the kind; it simply reports various allegations that RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman is gay.
"sirkowski" draws some ridiculous inferences from the story.

This blog has a good shot to end up at Bad Blogs' Blood.

Maybe the other bloggers will take away this clown's blogging privileges, on the other hand.

No disconnect yet

Updating my earlier post "On the road to disconnect," it appears that the disconnect has yet to appear. Telephone polls weren't so hot, but overall the serious election polling was pretty accurate (unless we want to go down Conspiracy Theory Boulevard to suppose that the polls and the elections were rigged).
Props where they seem to be due--the pollsters are pretty good at their art.

Don't forget to visit (formerly Mystery Pollster) for expert analysis.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Election 2006

Well, it looks like the Democrats won big in the election this cycle.

They're taking the House of Representatives by gaining about 30 seats, and it looks like they'll take control of the Senate, also (three close Senate races aren't necessarily final, but none of them look promising for the Republicans).

So, as the results have shaken out, so do some questions.

*I ran across quite a few lefties claiming the "fix is in" what with the diabolical Diebold electronic voting machines. Did they mean that the fix was in to favor Democrats? Or did the Dems actually win a far bigger victory than the polls indicated? Or (cue spooky music) did the Republicans just not pull their nasty election-stealing trick this time so it will work better when Bush comes up for re-election?

*Given that the Democrats ran on an unspecified "new direction," what direction will the Democrats go? Will the moderates they sought to run this cycle go along with the war-losing "phased redeployment"policies that have crossed the lips of prominent Democrats over the past months?
I have in mind a political cartoon showing Pelosi and company peering at a moving board-game spinner as they prepare to decide on the new direction.

*What types of federal judges will we get over the next two years--if any?

*Can the Democrats unify around a set of coherent policies?
Theirs is a fragile coalition--it pretty much had to be, since there wasn't much to the Democrat platform that had popular appeal other than a distaste for President Bush associated with unhappiness over the state of the Iraq War.

I see trouble ahead for the Democrats, and trouble ahead for the U.S.A. (hopefully more for the former than for the latter).
I seriously think that the country will be in greater danger after this election, with the sole saving grace being the possibility that terrorist efforts will be geared to help Democrats in the next election.
If that sounds crazy to you, you need to review the media treatment of the Tet offensive in light of the world media in the present millenium. It goes hand-in-hand with the new form of unaffiliated warfare.
The Democrats will find that they can no longer hide behind criticism of the folks in power--they've got a considerable share of the power, and they'll need to come up with some ideas. Once they come up with ideas, they'll be eligible for criticisms other than the fact that they've got no ideas.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Orson Scott Card, with a view from the left

I've read a few of Orson Scott Card's sci-fi short stories. He's a decent author (not among my favorites), but he's a Democrat.
On the other hand, he's a Democrat with a clear-eyed view of the foreign policy stakes in this election:
There is only one issue in this election that will matter five or ten years from now, and that's the War on Terror.

And the success of the War on Terror now teeters on the fulcrum of this election.

If control of the House passes into Democratic hands, there are enough withdraw-on-a-timetable Democrats in positions of prominence that it will not only seem to be a victory for our enemies, it will be one.

Unfortunately, the opposite is not the case -- if the Republican Party remains in control of both houses of Congress there is no guarantee that the outcome of the present war will be favorable for us or anyone else.

But at least there will be a chance.

I say this as a Democrat, for whom the Republican domination of government threatens many values that I hold to be important to America's role as a light among nations.

But there are no values that matter to me that will not be gravely endangered if we lose this war. And since the Democratic Party seems hellbent on losing it -- and in the most damaging possible way -- I have no choice but to advocate that my party be kept from getting its hands on the reins of national power, until it proves itself once again to be capable of recognizing our core national interests instead of its own temporary partisan advantages.

(The Ornery American)

Hat tip to Rush Limbaugh, who pointed out Scott's piece during his radio program today. Rush also mentioned a roughly parallel opinion expressed by Michael Kinsley (once to the left of Pat Buchanan on CNN's "Crossfire").

The Iraq was is the big issue of this election because of the role it plays in the war over the ideological future of the planet. Read the whole (long) article.

It's still possible that the Republicans can wage the war over and against the obstructions of the Democrats--it may even be possible that the Democrats are insincere in advancing the "phased redeployment" suggestions that Kinsley rightly characterizes as euphemisms for defeat.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Bucs' midterm: 2-6 (D+)

The New Orleans Saints pounded the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 31-14 Sunday despite their inability to run the ball successfully against the Bucs' defense.

The Bucs dropped to 2-6 on the season, 2-3 since rookie Bruce Gradkowski took over as starting quarterback for the injured (splenectomy) Chris Simms.

Though the Saints did score 31 points on the Bucs, I'll lay the general blame for the Bucs' woes on Gradkowski.
I'm not saying that Gradkowski is horrible by any means. I piped up before the season started saying that Gradkowski might end up being the steal of the 2006 NFL draft.

Having stuck my neck out only to pull it back in a little bit, let me explain.

Gradkowski is a young and inexperienced quarterback. I figured the Bucs would power up the running game to give Gradkowski some help when he became the starter.
Unfortunately, every team in the league is smart enough to figure that out. Teams are putting eight defenders "in the box"--an alignment designed to stop the run--and lately it's working pretty well.

Gradkowski's play is key in beating the run-first defensive schemes. If he connects on enough passes to keep picking up first downs, the run defense softens and the Bucs offense obtains some playcalling leeway.

Unfortunately, the rookie quarterback seems to have become less decisive in his throws since his first start against the Saints. His completion percentage has plummeted--though his touchdowns-to-interceptions ratio remains excellent (6 TDs and only one interception). It looks to me as though Gradkowski is checking down to the dump-off receiver too quickly. Is that a whole bunch to ask of a rookie quarterback?

Well, yeah.

It's also the key to the Bucs' success on the field this year--though with this loss to the Saints making the playoffs would hardly be short of miraculous.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

On the road to disconnect

There's a difficulty in discerning what people in the U.S. want or think.

One of the difficulties serves as the refrain of the loony left, and the other is a riff I borrow from Hugh Hewitt (radio talk show host and self-identified conservative) and Arianna Huffington.

The refrain of the loony left isn't entirely loony. It concerns the reliability of voting systems in providing an accurate tally of the votes cast.
I hate to break it to my friends on the left, but voting systems are inherently imperfect. As one quick example, consider the optical-ballot systems that many favor over the touch-screen systems--the touch-screens systems that convince many fever-swamp-variety Dems that a corporate autocracy is poised to seize control on Tuesday. One of those optical ballot systems served as the basis for a criticism of the Diebold touch-screen systems. They both use computer cards to tabulate totals. So, either hackable computer software is used, or manual counting--and manual counting is classically prone to human error.

In the end, there's probably no way around the inherent inaccuracy of vote tabulations--I suspect that California Democrats richly deserve criticism for dangling a "right to vote in a tamper-proof election" in front of California voters. It's almost like promising lower tax revenues with higher spending--except that deficit spending at least makes the latter suggestion possible.

I know that people don't want to hear it, but that's the way it is.

If people count the votes, the totals may be tampered with.
If machines count the votes, the totals may be tampered with.
I suppose there are other options (such as chimpanzees counting the votes), but I'll stop there since I believe it covers all of options currently used in the United States.

I have nothing against doing everything possible to make voting systems as accurate as possible--just don't fry public confidence in the process by pretending that perfect accuracy is attainable except for a conspiracy among shadowy elites.

There's also the issue of those same Democrats resisting measures that discourage illegal aliens from voting, but that can wait for another day in favor of the issue that Hewitt and Huffington mention regularly.

Polls probably aren't as accurate as they once were, and the polls were never that great to begin with.


The biggest issue is the expanding popularity of the cellular telephone. Pollsters rely on telephone data to a great extent, but pollsters don't ring up cell phones.

Add in another fact--that Republicans appear less likely to participate in exit-polling--and there's a dilemma concerning the vote. Voting systems are not perfectly accurate, and the methods used to verify the accuracy of voting systems are not perfectly accurate.

The demagoguery of the left on this issue probably damages our democracy--some of it even seems to be geared toward revolution-by-force ("The World Can't Wait").

The fact that voting systems are vulnerable to tampering doesn't mean that one party or the other is fixing the election. Both parties have been guilty of cheating during elections, and for Democrats who can't remember that far back have a look here.

Friday, November 03, 2006

New York Times criticizes administration over intelligence leaks

In a rare turnaround from the Times' role in divulging sensitive secrets, the paper has published a story criticizing the Bush administration's move of placing captured Iraqi documents in public view over the Internet.

Captain's Quarters has posted portions of the Times' article.

The main controversy over the Internet site concerned portions of detailed plans for building a nuclear weapon.
Captain Ed quotes the Times:

"European diplomats said this week that some of those nuclear documents on the Web site were identical to the ones presented to the United Nations Security Council in late 2002, as America got ready to invade Iraq. But unlike those on the Web site, the papers given to the Security Council had been extensively edited, to remove sensitive information on unconventional arms."
What does this mean in terms of the justification for war?

Iraq seems to have had a fairly advanced set of plans for making a nuclear weapon. Some, I suppose, might point out that the plans dated from 1991. But what difference does that make? Do plans for nuclear weapons degrade over time like mustard gas munitions?

Bottom line: Iraq was a threat in 2002.

The regime remained interested in developing weapons systems forbidden to it, and they were actively working to restore their capability for making those weapons.
First, get money through the Oil For Food program to sustain the military infrastructure.
Second, obtain the needed materials illegally or by getting the UN sanctions lifted.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Debra Bowen Update II

No word from a campaign representative in response to my e-mail query (about the Pew Research survey cited by Bowen during her debate with Bruce McPherson), but one helpful soul over at Bowen's campaign page blog offered an explanation:

# Kathryn Hedges Says:
November 2nd, 2006 at 2:10 am

I believe Debra Bowen may have been referring to a Zogby poll on voting transparency and security in August.
(Kathryn's comment)
Have a look at the poll Kathryn cited, and you'll see that it bears scarcely any resemblance to the numbers (or even topic) cited by Debra Bowen. Fifty-two percent just doesn't translate very well into "more than 60%."
I registered a reply to Kathryn's post:
# Bryan Says:
November 2nd, 2006 at 7:44 pm

Thanks for trying to help, Kathryn, but your suggestion is implausible. First, Bowen referred directly to “Pew Research” by name. Second, the topic Bowen cited (voter confidence in vote counting) isn’t measured in the Zogby poll you suggested. Third, the 2004 Pew Research survey does mention numbers that handily add up to the ones that Bowen mentioned after a bit of inept or deliberately misleading manipulation.

Scroll down about 2/3 and you’ll see what I mean.
(Bryan's comment)

Here's the link to the Pew Research data, just in case the campaign site makes my reply difficult to find.

Ideally, Bowen will apologize for the error and sack the responsible individual(s).

If Bowen was responsible, of course, the above scenario is extremely unlikely.

MSM reporting ...

The Associate Press offered this objective assessment of Katherine Harris' debate with incumbent (Democrat) Bill Nelson:
Rep. Katherine Harris, R-Fla., was skewered on her Iraq position during the final debate in the Florida Senate race Wednesday. (AP)
(see caption under Harris photo)
Huh. I wonder which definition of "skewer" they're using in order to maintain journalistic objectivity.
Here's the detail about the supposed skewering from the accompanying story:
Moderator Tim Russert pressured her to say whether she would vote for the war in Iraq now knowing that Iraq did not have the weapons of mass destruction. She repeatedly declined to answer.

Instead, she said, "If we knew today what we knew back then, there never would have been a vote called to go to war."

Nelson, the incumbent senator, said he would have voted against the war.
Ah-ha. Since she stated that the issue wouldn't have come up for a vote, therefore she was "skewered" regarding her position on the Iraq war.
Thanks for the objective assessment, CBS.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

On Kerry, briefly

There's really not much to say about John Kerry's recent gaffe, where he made a statement supposedly designed as a Bush joke but succeeded in sounding like he was belittling the intelligence and ability of U.S. servicemen.
I think it's a small deal except that it reminds us of why Kerry didn't win in 2004 and helps cinch the fact he won't win the Democrat nomination for President in 2008.

I found this photo-op by some of our soldiers in Iraq completely hilarious, on the other hand.