Archive for August 2004

RNC Day 2 thoughts

Arnold Schwarzenegger: A VERY good speech. His delivery was off the charts. There were plenty of comedic moments, which will of course be taken far too seriously by many. The type of person that got their panties in a bunch over the girlie-men comment from a while back will of course be livid. The detractors are going to lambaste the “I’ll be back” and “girlie-men” and “you’re as good a politician as you were an actor” parts, but that’s who Arnold is. He’s not going to come out and give a 20 minute speech in the manner of Ferris Beuller’s Ben Stein. He’s going to crack jokes, and they’re going to help the serious message go over better, and they did.
First Daughter Jenna & Barbara Bush: They didn’t do too badly for people who don’t do this type of thing for a living. The material wasn’t that bad, but the delivery needed a ton of work. It didn’t come anywhere close to sounding natural. Other people would certainly have given a more practiced and professional introduction, but ultimately I think they were there for the humanizing factor rather than to be prim and proper and polished.
First Lady Laura Bush: It wasn’t spectacular, but I think it was certainly better than Heinz Kerry’s speech at the DNC.
Ideally I suppose it would have been better to have Laura go first and then have Arnold close the night out.
From Schwarzenegger’s speech:

Now, my family didn’t have a car. But one day we were in my uncle’s car. It was near dark as we came to the Soviet checkpoint. I was a little boy. I was not an action hero back then.
(LAUGHTER)
But I remember. I remember how scared I was that the soldiers would pull my father or my uncle out of the car and I would never see them again. My family and so many others lived in fear of the Soviet boot. Today, the world no longer fears the Soviet Union, and it is because of the United States of America.

The presidential campaign was in full swing. I remember watching the Nixon-Humphrey presidential race on TV. A friend of mine who spoke German and English translated for me. I heard Humphrey saying things that sounded like socialism, which I had just left.
SCHWARZENEGGER: But then I heard Nixon speak. Then I heard Nixon speak. He was talking about free enterprise, getting the government off your back, lowering the taxes and strengthening the military.
(APPLAUSE)
Listening to Nixon speak sounded more like a breath of fresh air.
I said to my friend, I said, “What party is he?”
My friend said, “He’s a Republican.”
I said, “Then I am a Republican.”

In this country, it doesn’t make any difference where you were born. It doesn’t make any difference who your parents were. It doesn’t make any difference if you’re like me and couldn’t even speak English until you were in your 20s. America gave me opportunities, and my immigrant dreams came true.
I want other people to get the same chances I did, the same opportunities. And I believe they can. That’s why I believe in this country, that’s why I believe in this party, and that’s why I believe in this president.

SCHWARZENEGGER: My fellow immigrants, my fellow Americans, how do you know if you are a Republican? Well, I tell you how. If you believe that government should be accountable to the people, not the people to the government, then you are a Republican.
(APPLAUSE)
If you believe a person should be treated as an individual, not as a member of an interest group, then you are a Republican.
(APPLAUSE)
If you believe your family knows how to spend your money better than the government does, then you are a Republican.
(APPLAUSE)
If you believe our educational system should be held accountable for the progress of our children, then you are a Republican.
(APPLAUSE)
If you believe this country, not the United Nations, is the best hope for democracy, then you are a Republican.
(APPLAUSE)
SCHWARZENEGGER: And, ladies and gentlemen, if you believe that we must be fierce and relentless and terminate terrorism, then you are a Republican.
(APPLAUSE)
Now, there’s another way you can tell you’re a Republican. You have faith in free enterprise, faith in the resourcefulness of the American people and faith in the U.S. economy. And to those critics who are so pessimistic about our economy, I say: Don’t be economic girlie-men.
Washington Post

Gen. Tommy Franks endorses President Bush

And Blogs For Bush scoops Hannity who had been teasing it all afternoon.

RNC Day 1 thoughts

Senator John McCain: I imagine it read better than it sounded. Not the best job of oration. It had some good lines, but until the last couple sentences he never really seemed to give it much oomph.
Former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani: Everything McCain’s speech wasn’t. A very strong delivery. On paper McCain’s probably looked better but Giuliani had an energy about him that really made him the star of the night.
You know, it’s going to be awfully hard for the Dems to work the “They’re only in New York to exploit 9/11!” angle when you’ve got Mayor Giuliani there talking about how 9/11 is such a big part of why President Bush should be reelected. If Rudy thinks it’s ok, who is Terry McAuliffe to argue?
Between McCain and Giuliani they did a pretty good job of laying out the Republicans’ perspective on 9/11, the war in Iraq, and the War in Terror. A few selections from their speeches…

Our choice wasn’t between a benign status quo and the bloodshed of war. It was between war and a graver threat. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
(APPLAUSE)
MCCAIN: Not our political opponents. And certainly… not a disingenuous film maker…
(APPLAUSE)
MCCAIN: … who would have us believe, my friends, who would have us believe that Saddam’s Iraq was an oasis of peace, when in fact — when in fact it was a place of indescribable cruelty, torture chambers, mass graves and prisons that destroyed the lives of the small children inside their walls.
(APPLAUSE)
Whether or not Saddam possessed the terrible weapons he once had and used, freed from international pressure and the threat of military action, he would have acquired them again.
MCCAIN: My friends, the central security concern of our time is to keep such devastating weapons beyond the reach of terrorists who can’t be dissuaded from using them by the threat of mutual destruction.
We couldn’t afford the risk posed by an unconstrained Saddam in these dangerous times. By destroying his regime, we gave hope to people long oppressed, that if they have the courage to fight for it, they may live in peace and freedom.
Washington Post

At the time, we believed that we would be attacked many more times that day and in the days that followed. Without really thinking, based on just emotion, spontaneous, I grabbed the arm of then Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik, and I said to him, “Bernie, thank God George Bush is our president.”
(APPLAUSE)
GIULIANI: I say it again tonight. I say it again tonight: Thank God that George Bush is our president, and thank God…
(APPLAUSE)
And thank God that Dick Cheney, a man with his experience and his knowledge and his strength and his background is our vice president.

And since September 11th President Bush has remained rock solid.
(APPLAUSE)
It doesn’t matter to him how he is demonized. It doesn’t matter what the media does to ridicule him or misinterpret him or defeat him.
(APPLAUSE)
They ridiculed Winston Churchill. They belittled Ronald Reagan. But like President Bush, they were optimists. Leaders need to be optimists. Their vision is beyond the present, and it’s set on a future of real peace and security.
(APPLAUSE)
GIULIANI: Some call it stubbornness. I call it principled leadership.
(APPLAUSE)
President Bush has the courage of his convictions.
In choosing a president, we really don’t choose just a Republican or Democrat, a conservative or a liberal. We choose a leader.
(APPLAUSE)
And in times of war and danger, as we’re now in, Americans should put leadership at the core of their decision.
There are many qualities that make a great leader. But having strong beliefs, being able to stick with them through popular and unpopular times, is the most important characteristic of a great leader.
(APPLAUSE)
One of my heroes, Winston Churchill, saw the dangers of Hitler while his opponents characterized him as a war-mongering gadfly.
GIULIANI: Another one of my heroes, Ronald Reagan, saw and described the Soviet Union as “the evil empire,” while world opinion accepted it as inevitable and even belittled Ronald Reagan’s intelligence.
President Bush sees world terrorism for the evil that it is.
(APPLAUSE)
John Kerry has no such clear, precise and consistent vision. This is not a personal criticism of John Kerry. I respect him for his service to our nation.
(APPLAUSE)
But it is important and critical to see the contrast in approach between the two men: President Bush, a leader who is willing to stick with difficult decisions even as public opinion shifts and goes back and forth; and John Kerry, whose record in elected office suggests a man who changes his position often, even on important issues.

Frankly, I believed then and I believe now that Saddam Hussein, who supported global terrorism, slaughtered thousands and thousands of his own people, permitted horrific atrocities against women, and used weapons of mass destruction; he was himself a weapon of mass destruction.
(APPLAUSE)
GIULIANI: But the reasons for removing Saddam Hussein were based on issues even broader than just the presence of weapons of mass destruction.
To liberate people, give them a chance for accountable, decent government and to rid the world of a pillar of support for global terrorism is nothing to be defensive about. It’s something for which all those involved, from President Bush to the brave men of our armed services, should be proud. They did something wonderful. They did something that history will give them great credit for.
Washington Post

It’s just a shame Rudy couldn’t have spoken on a night when the networks were carrying the convention.
A quick ad suggestion for the Bush team: Just stick people like Rudy, and McCain, and Koch and maybe Ron Silver in front of the camera. Have them talk about how important the fight against Terror is. Have them talk about President Bush’s leadership. Compare that leadership to Kerry’s. Those are the commercials I want to see.

Damn those Republican hatemongers!

Wait, you mean it’s the leftists attacking peaceful protestors? Then nevermind.

The NY Times hits on a pet peeve of mine, and thus receives a fisking

Abolish the Electoral College
When Republican delegates nominate their presidential candidate this week, they will be doing it in a city where residents who support George Bush have, for all practical purposes, already been disenfranchised.

Well there’s some bleeped up logic. By that rationale, every person that votes for the person that loses the election is disenfranchised. Americans do not vote for president, they vote on how to allocate their states electors for president. To suggest that just because they vote for the losing side in their state they’ve been disenfranchised is simply asinine.

Barring a tsunami of a sweep, heavily Democratic New York will send its electoral votes to John Kerry and both parties have already written New York off as a surefire blue state.

Right… because it is.

The Electoral College makes Republicans in New York, and Democrats in Utah, superfluous. It also makes members of the majority party in those states feel less than crucial.

Awww… do da wittle voters feel bad. :(
The same could be said of an election where the issue is whether people should kick puppies. The clear majority is going to be against it but there’s always going to be a couple sick bastards who think it’s a dandy idea. The majority isn’t going to feel important. The crackpots are going to feel “superfluous”. That doesn’t mean you give the crackpots more power just so everyone feels like it’s a close race and their vote matters.

It’s hard to tell New York City children that every vote is equally important – it’s winner take all here, and whether Senator Kerry beats the president by one New York vote or one million, he will still walk away with all 31 of the state’s electoral votes.

Every vote in the state of New York is equally important. No one person in New York has more input into how to allocate those electoral votes than anyone else.

The Electoral College got a brief spate of attention in 2000, when George Bush became president even though he lost the popular vote to Al Gore by more than 500,000 votes. Many people realized then for the first time that we have a system in which the president is chosen not by the voters themselves, but by 538 electors.

In other words, many people didn’t learn squat in Social Studies. That’s ok, lots of people didn’t learn much in Social Studies. For instance, the New York Times Editorial Page seems to have missed the day when they were supposed to learn that the United States is a Republic and not a Democracy.

It’s a ridiculous setup, which thwarts the will of the majority,

The will of the majority should be thwarted at times. Majorities tend to do stupid things. A few decades ago the courts thwarted the will of the majority in the fight for Civil Rights. Being the will of a majority doesn’t make a decision right, and the founders knew that. They set up Congress so that, while the House gave more representation to the bigger states, the Senate protected the rights of the smaller states by giving every state an equal representation. The Electoral College does the same thing, for the same reasons. California and New York shouldn’t be able to gang up and vote in a guy who’s platform is “Let’s screw the small states!”

distorts presidential campaigning

How exactly does it do this? It makes the candidates go where the people are undecided. I’d ask whether they thought candidates should fight for areas that are already decided, but this is the New York Times, what they really mean is that New York and California don’t get enough attention while those damn little states like Arkansas and New Mexico get all the attention.

and has the potential to produce a true constitutional crisis. There should be a bipartisan movement for direct election of the president.

I really hope they explain that constitutional crisis bit later on, I’m sure it’s a doozy.

The main problem with the Electoral College is that it builds into every election the possibility, which has been a reality three times since the Civil War, that the president will be a candidate who lost the popular vote.

This is bad why? Again, I’ll point out that this is a Republic and not a Democracy. Pure Democracy can lead to very bad things.

This shocks people in other nations who have been taught to look upon the United States as the world’s oldest democracy.

Those poor, misguided other nations. But you can’t blame them, if the New York Times hasn’t figured out the Republic thing, how can we expect Germany to have done it. The worst ideal pushed on newly free states is that majority rule, democracy, is enough to make a stable, workable state.

The Electoral College also heavily favors small states.

Damn right, and for a very good reason. I don’t want to be repeating myself, but there need to be protections against tyranny by the majority. There need to be assurances that the states with 51% of the population can’t kick around the greater number of states with the other 49%.

The fact that every one gets three automatic electors – one for each senator and a House member – means states that by population might be entitled to only one or two electoral votes wind up with three, four or five.

Oh look they did learn something in Social Studies!

The majority does not rule and every vote is not equal – those are reasons enough for scrapping the system.

No they’re not. They’re the very reason that the system was established. This is a noteworthy point they’re making here. They’re not simply arguing that things have changed since the nation was established. This is an argument against the very intent of our Founders. The lack of majority rule and voters in one state having more input in a presidential election wasn’t an oversight by the Founders… IT WAS THEIR INTENT! They intended to protect the smaller states against the possible tyranny of the larger ones. They meant to ensure that majority rule wasn’t the means for electing the president. They intended it to work this way and the New York Times thinks they were wrong.

But there are other consequences as well. This election has been making clear how the Electoral College distorts presidential campaigns. A few swing states take on oversized importance, leading the candidates to focus their attention, money and promises on a small slice of the electorate.

Of course they do, but abolishing the Electoral College isn’t going to eliminate it, it’ll just change it. Instead of focusing on states that are undecided they’ll focus on the areas where they can reach the largest number of people. Getting rid of the Electoral College won’t make the candidates go after everyone, it’ll just make them go wherever there are the most people. Take away the Electoral College and Alaska and Georgia are not going to get any more visits from candidates. Places like Arkansas, Arizona, and New Mexico will be losing attention from the candidates and places with lots of people like California and New York will get a lot more.

We are hearing far more this year about the issue of storing hazardous waste at Yucca Mountain, an important one for Nevada’s 2.2 million residents, than about securing ports against terrorism, a vital concern for 19.2 million New Yorkers.

So instead the issue of Yucca Mountain should disappear? You eliminate the Electoral College and the only issues that matter will be those in the big states. The Electoral College is meant to raise the issues that are important to those 2.2 million residents. It’s meant to make them important. It’s meant to make the candidates think about more than New York and LA.

The political concerns of Cuban-Americans, who are concentrated in the swing state of Florida, are of enormous interest to the candidates. The interests of people from Puerto Rico scarcely come up at all, since they are mainly settled in areas already conceded as Kerry territory. The emphasis on swing states removes the incentive for a large part of the population to follow the campaign, or even to vote.

So instead they’d prefer that the candidates focus only on the areas of high population and ignore those that don’t.

Those are the problems we have already experienced.

They seem to be using the term “problems” very loosely.

The arcane rules governing the Electoral College have the potential to create havoc if things go wrong.

And prevent havoc if it goes right.

Electors are not required to vote for the candidates they are pledged to, and if the vote is close in the Electoral College, a losing candidate might well be able to persuade a small number of electors to switch sides. Because there are an even number of electors – one for every senator and House member of the states, and three for the District of Columbia – the Electoral College vote can end in a tie. There are several plausible situations in which a 269-269 tie could occur this year.

DAMN THOSE FOUNDERS! WHY DIDN’T THEY THINK OF A SOLUTION FOR SOMETHING LIKE THIS?!?!?!

In the case of a tie, the election goes to the House of Representatives,

Oh, look, they did.

where each state delegation gets one vote – one for Wyoming’s 500,000 residents and one for California’s 35.5 million.

Which, *GASP* is exactly what the Founders intended. See above RE: protecting the rights of the minority, Republic vs. Democracy, kicking puppies, etc… In the event of a tie the Founders ensured that the small states wouldn’t be kicked around by the big states.

The Electoral College’s supporters argue that it plays an important role in balancing relations among the states, and protecting the interests of small states.

What kind of crazy person would say that? Oh yeah… me.

A few years ago, this page was moved by these concerns to support the Electoral College.

Ok, so they were right at one point.

But we were wrong.

D’oh!

The small states are already significantly overrepresented in the Senate, which more than looks out for their interests.

And who decides what is an adequate level of looking out for their interests? The small states have their protection in the Legislative branch, why should they be stripped of their protections in the Executive.

And there is no interest higher than making every vote count.

Wow

*Bleep*ed up defined:

A South African man who shot his pregnant fiance dead before killing himself will be posthumously married to her at the weekend.
Police Captain Mohale Ramatseba said David Masenta shot 25-year-old Mgwanini Molomo after a quarrel before turning the gun on himself. But Johannesburg’s Sowetan newspaper said family and friends wanted to remember them as a happy couple destined for a happy life together.
The groom’s corpse would be dressed in a cream suit and his bride’s in a gown for the ceremony, at which a priest in the rural village of Ceres in Limpopo will bless the union before the two are buried, the Sowetan said.
“In African culture, there is no death — there is merely the separation of body and soul,” said cultural expert Mathole Motshekga. “It is also important because the families are married together.”
“This does not mean the relationship has irretrievably broken down.”
Yahoo! News

YES IT DOES! He shot and killed her and then killed himself! The relationship is over! Done! Kaput! IT IS AN EX-RELATIONSHIP!

RNCBloggers

RNCBloggers rounds up all the bloggers at the Republican Convention on one page.

I’ll second that

But a funny thing has happened- I am starting to believe [the Swift Boat Vets]- at least some of the claims. The Democrats response of attack, retreat, sue, intimidate, malign has been unimpressive. The cripple stunts with Max Cleland have been uninspiring and seem like they are straight out of South Park. The worst has been the reaction of the press and other Kerry supporters (does Douglas Brinkley have any credibility left, whatsoever?), who have behaved like there is something to hide.
At any rate, the Democrats have given it all they have, and the Vets have held up. Meanwhile, I have learned the following:
– Kerry did not volunteer, per se. He tried for a deferment, but was turned down. Then he was given the option to volunteer for the Navy over the Army.
– Despite his campaign continuing to lie about it, Swift Boats were not as dangerous as they turned out to be when he volunteered to be on them.
– We have learned that Kerry clearly lied about Cambodia, including during SENATE TESTIMONY, in which the lie was used to INFLUENCE NATIONAL POLICY.
– Kerry has admitted the first purple heart was from a self-inflicted wound, and it is pretty clear that he gamed the system to get that first one (mind you- I don’t begrudge him- how many others would have done the same thing- it was a fucked up war).
– We know that he has three different citations for his Silver Star, each one more glowing than the other, each written after Kerry became moreand more influential in Washington.
– We know that his Silver Star information on his DD 214 is incorrect or falsified.
– We know that in 2001, his record was again amended, this time adding 4 bronze stars for campaign service, when according to Navy Spokesmen he does not deserve two of them.
– We know that his records are inaccurate, and that he has only displayed certain records- cherrypicking, if you will, and refusing to release others.
– I know that his campaign lied about numerous aspects of the Swift Vets relationship with Kerry, including the ridiculous ‘they weren’t on the boat’ meme.
Baloon Juice

Some of the things the Swift Vets for Truth have said haven’t been shown to be true, a good number of them however certainly appear to be true and the Democrats’ continued attempts to smear the vets rather than argue what really happened doesn’t help their case.
You want to show that the Swift Vets are nutjobs? Simply walking up to a camera, mic, or keyboard and screaming “THEY’RE NUTJOBS EXECUTING A SMEAR CAMPAIGN” doesn’t cut it. Whining about nonexistent collaboration with the Bush campaign isn’t going to cut it . You want to make them out as nutjobs? Show that Kerry was in Cambodia, or that he never claimed he was. Show that the first Purple Heart wasn’t self-inflicted. Release all of Kerry’s records. Show that Kerry hasn’t played up his war record, that he was the war hero his convention made him out to be.
But it seems they’re either unable or unwilling to do that. And that leaves many people no choice but to give the Swift Vets’ stories some weight.

Lileks on Kerry

So why does Kerry want to be president?
The reason is almost tautological: John Kerry wants to be president because he is John Kerry, and John Kerry is supposed to be president. Hence his campaign’s flummoxed and tone-deaf response to the swift boat vets. Ban the books, sue the stations, retreat, attack. Underneath it all you can sense the confusion. How dare they attack Kerry? He’s supposed to be president. It’s almost treason in advance.
It’s not enough to believe you should be president. Clueless mortals need some hints. Is he motivated by a broad ideological agenda? There’s no Kerry Doctrine, no Kerry Approach, no Tony-Blair-style “third way” gambit. There’s just Lurch, lurching.
The war? He’s said he would have gone to Iraq even if he knew then what he knows now

20 questions for Kerry

From Peter Kirsanow at NRO.

1. The Bush campaign maintains that you spent 20 years in the Senate with no signature legislative achievements. What do you consider to be the five most important pieces of legislation that you’ve authored?
a. What’s the most important piece of legislation regarding intelligence you’ve authored?
b. What’s the most important piece of antiterrorism legislation you’ve authored?
c. What’s the most important piece of health-care legislation you’ve authored?
d. What’s the most important piece of education legislation you’ve authored?
2. You’d agree that on paper, Dick Cheney’s experience and qualifications dwarf those of your running mate. Why would John Edwards make a better president during the war on terror than Dick Cheney?
a. It’s been widely reported that John McCain was your first choice as running mate. If true, why did you prefer Senator McCain to Senator Edwards?
3. Earlier this year you told Tim Russert that you’d release all of your military records, yet you’ve failed to do so and you refuse to release your Vietnam journal. Why shouldn’t the public infer that the contents of these documents would undermine your credibility or otherwise damage your candidacy?
a. When will you release the documents?
4. You’ve stated that you believe that life begins at conception yet you voted against the ban on partial-birth abortions. At precisely what point is a life worth protecting?
a. Is there any limitation on abortion (waiting periods, parental notification) for which you’d vote? If so, what?
5. You’ve promised to repeal much of the Bush tax cut and while in the Senate you voted to raise taxes an average of five times per year. If current economic trends remain largely unchanged during a Kerry presidency, would you seek additional tax increases?
a. How would you raise taxes and what are the highest marginal tax rates that you’d support?
6. You opposed the 1991 Gulf War even though Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, had invaded another country, and France and Germany had supported the war. In the current conflict no WMDs have been found, France and Germany oppose the action, and Saddam hadn’t invaded another country. Yet you recently stated that knowing what you know now, you’d nonetheless authorize the use of force — even though you voted against funding it. Could you please reconcile these positions?
7. You acknowledge meeting with representatives of North Vietnam and the Viet Cong in Paris in 1970. Afterward you urged Congress to accept the North Vietnamese proposals. Please explain how this wasn’t a violation of the Logan Act and, if you were still in the Naval Reserves at that time, how it wasn’t a violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice prohibiting unauthorized communications with the enemy.
8. In several speeches before black audiences you’ve stated that a million African Americans were disenfranchised and had their votes stolen in the 2000 presidential election. There are no official or media investigations that support that statement. What evidence do you have to support the statement and if you believe a million blacks had their votes stolen, why haven’t you called for criminal prosecutions and congressional investigations?
9. Do you dispute the National Journal’s assessment that you’re the nation’s most liberal senator? If you do, which senators do you consider to be more liberal and why?
10. Why did you propose cutting the intelligence budget by $6 billion in 1994?

Peter Kirsanow on National Review Online

Go read the rest, they’re serious questions that should be answered.