SKerwin: October 2004 Archives

The Week In Review

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Sean has been sick in bed for the past week, hence the lack of updates.

Things I've missed commenting on:

Missing explosives.
Maybe Russia helped Saddam move them to Syria, maybe our military got there first and removed them, maybe the insurgents have them. Whichever way, if these are WMD enough to be a big deal, then perhaps this war isn't the crock the Democrats would have us believe. Further, any news organizations that would even consider 'holding' this story till election-eve shouldn't be paid any attention or given any credit.

Mary Cheney is a lesbian.

Who the hell cares?

New Al-Qaeda tape, maybe.

Again, holding things like this based on the proximity of the election is unconscionable. I'm looking at you, ABC. I'm not entirely convinced it's real, myself. Give me a DV camcorder and a copy of Final Cut Pro - and a towel to wear over my head - and I could produce one just like it. The noticable English fluency is a bit off-putting, to say the least.

iPod photo.

I say to Apple about this what I said to my former employers about this: I would never use one, and I don't know anyone who would. But in Apple's defense, at least the iPod is a decent music player.

Ashlee Simpson lip-syncs.

Real or Memorex, either way it sucks.

Josh Martin takes second at the Florida state M:TG champs

Go Josh! Now I can be a real barn!

Want A Banana, Jon?

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Kurt Vonnegut wrote a fascinating book called Mother Night. It's about an American who works as a Nazi propaganda minister, who believes he's on an undercover mission for the Allies. It's never really clear whether his employment by the good guys is real or imagined, and by the end of the novel he comes to the conclusion that it doesn't really matter, because he's guilty of war crimes either way. Vonnegut wrote that the moral of the story is, "we are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be". It's a good moral.

Why do I bring this up? Because obviously Jon Stewart never read Mother Night. Check the link out, they've got a video.

The Readers' Digest version is that Stewart thinks Crossfire is a let-down, that they fall through on their responsibility to foster real political debate. He accuses them of being party hacks, of not forcing politicians to answer the tough questions - but he has no good answer when the subject of his not-even-softball interview with Kerry comes up, and he seems flabbergasted and indignant that the program's hosts won't take him seriously.

I've got news for you, Jon: If a presidential candidate is on your show, and you've sent people to the conventions, and you've published a book, well: you're a real news show. The prank-calling puppets are an excuse, and a poor one at that; If you sit behind a desk and ask Kerry how he's been instead of asking him a real question, you are a monkey, and it doesn't matter what network you're on.

Intra-Family Communication

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My Sister and I always end up having the most surreal conversations, sooner or later.

surreal.jpg

I Didn't Get Anyone A Present

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I'd just like to wish everyone a joyous Khrushchev's Shoe Day. As I'm sure we all know, today is the day when we join together to celebrate Nikita Khrushchev's shoe, and the infamous table-banging thereof. It is a day of peace, a day for us to forget about what makes us different and to remember those things that make us all the same: we all wear shoes, and we all giggle a little at the thought of an angry Russian banging his on the table.

Happy Shoe Day, and a Joyous Octoberween.

Liberals Are Funny

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I just turned off Saturday Night Live. I think it's probably in the best interest of my blood pressure not to watch again until a few months after the election.

I kept watching through the debate parodies. They were unfair, but they were funny. I sat through the 'Robert Smigel Cartoon'. Of course it was crap, but Robert Smigel is a filthy hippy and I have long since ceased to be surprised at the depths to which he will descend. What finally caused me to shut of the TV was the skit featuring 'Queen Latifah' as someone paid by the Bush campaign to bribe urban voters. Frankly, that goes past humorous and enters solidly into slander territory (or is it libel... I can never remember which is which).

The fact is, I know people who get their news from SNL's Weekend Update - and surprisingly, you used to be able to do that. It used to be like the Daily Show used to be, the real story followed by a joke. Now they've abandoned all pretense of honesty. The producers of SNL want you to vote for John Kerry. Your enjoyment is at best a minor concern, as is the extent to which they will have to lie to achieve this goal.

And as long as I'm ranting, who the hell is 'Queen' Latifah? Queen of what? Just another talentless nobody who's famous for being famous.

And as long as I'm as-long-as-I'm-ing, I hope Rodney Dangerfield's family wasn't watching. A funny tribute to a funny man would be a great thing. A stupid tribute to a funny man is an insult. I can do a better Dangerfield impression.

It's interesting - SNL wasn't always so liberal. I'm not saying anybody on the staff ever voted Republican, but back when Dennis Miller or Norm MacDonald were hosting Weekend Update the show was pretty much equal-opportunity with the criticism. And now, under Tina Fey, their ratings are in an upswing.

Tina Fey. Al Franken. John Stewart. All the popular comedians (comediennes) with a political agenda are liberals. Yet plenty of their fans aren't at all liberal. I can come to only one conclusion: liberals are funny.

So I'm going to go find a pie and hit John Kerry in the face with it. If he minds, he's not really a liberal, and his whole persona is a lie - so I won't be able to vote for him. If he laughs it off, then he's clearly as liberal as can be - so I won't be able to vote for him.

And as a special added bonus, John Kerry will have pie all over his face. He'll look really silly - so I won't be able to vote for him.

I see no bad in this plan.

Bush Did Better This Time

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Finally.

And secondly, it's a fundamental misunderstanding to say that the war on terror is only Osama bin Laden. The war on terror is to make sure that these terrorist organizations do not end up with weapons of mass destruction. That's what the war on terror is about.

I think I said it better, but it's nice to finally see Bush making this distinction, because it's a big one.

And so, what I'm telling you is, is that sometimes in this world you make unpopular decisions because you think they're right.
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People love America. Sometimes they don't like the decisions made by America, but I don't think you want a president who tries to become popular and does the wrong thing.

You go, W!

Now, forget all this talk about a draft. We're not going to have a draft so long as I am the president.

He should have gone further with this - it's Kerry who seems hell-bent on increasing our military ranks. The 'I' needs to be in bold, italicized, underlined, and in eighty-point font. And maybe blinking.

And he certainly should have made his point more explicit and forceful when rebutting this gem from Kerry:

Now, I'm going to add 40,000 active duty forces to the military, and I'm going to make people feel good about being safe in our military, and not overextended, because I'm going to run a foreign policy that actually does what President Reagan did, President Eisenhower did, and others.

Because of course, there are 40,000 Americans out there right now, saying to themselves, "self, I think I'll join the military if Kerry is elected".

We have a deficit. We have a deficit because this country went into a recession. You might remember the stock market started to decline dramatically six months before I came to office, and then the bubble of the 1990s popped. And that cost us revenue. That cost us revenue.

This should have been said earlier, and louder, and more clearly. Attacks on Bush consistently blame him for the recession from which we're currently recovering, but anyone who's not an idiot can trace it back to the irrational exuberance of the Clinton years.

Now, for the people earning more than $200,000 a year, you're going to see a rollback to the level we were at with Bill Clinton, when people made a lot of money.

And looking around here, at this group here, I suspect there are only three people here who are going to be affected: the president, me, and, Charlie, I'm sorry, you too.

My jaw was on the floor as Kerry said that, and I was even more flabbergasted as I realized nobody in the room seemed to be offended. If I looked around a crowded room and proclaimed that everybody there looked poor, I would consider it an insult. Maybe it's just me.

I own a timber company? That's news to me. Need some wood?

That belongs on a t-shirt.

Embryonic stem-cell research requires the destruction of life to create a stem cell. I'm the first president ever to allow funding -- federal funding -- for embryonic stem-cell research. I did to because I too hope that we'll discover cures from the stem cells and from the research derived. But I think we've got to be very careful in balancing the ethics and the science.

Here's something I haven't ranted about before. I must remember to do so at a future time. Bottom line on my position: You've got to draw a line somewhere, and it's pretty much got to be arbitrary. If you've read Brave New World, try to imagine how they'd handle stem cell research. And then, hopefully, realize that that isn't the right way to do it.

I Think Spock Could Beat A Lizard

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On a lighter note.

Breaking Political News

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John Kerry: Medical Miracle

As shown in this compelling photographic evidence, Democratic Presidential nominee John Kerry has just successfully pulled his head out of his ass. This marks a significant personal turning point for Kerry, and we at Neutiquam Erro wish him the best of luck in the long and arduous recovery ahead of him.


Leading medical experts expressed surprise at the rapidity of the procedure, which was apparently accomplished by an intern throwing a standard football at Kerry's exposed neck. Though doctors are optimistic about Kerry's recovery, at least one doctor warned that the possibiltiy of relapse will continue for as long as Kerry continues to, "act like a jackass at every oppurtunity."


Mr. Kerry and campaign staffers declined to comment on the procedure, and refused to speculate whether this success indicates Kerry will be investigating related removals. There has been much speculation in political circles that Kerry will go ahead with long-rumored plans to remove the stick from his ass as well.


In related news, Kerry's running mate, John Edwards, experienced severe trauma to his neck and lips during the procedure. The injuries were described as, "minor," and Edwards is expected to return to kissing Kerry's ass as soon as tomorrow.

Remember

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People of my parents' generation will never forget where they were when they first heard that John F. Kennedy had been shot. The generation before can still tell you about Pearl Harbor. My generation has September 11th. It's enough.

I was at work that morning, and one piece of modern technology SmartDisk lacked at that point was a television antenna. We tried to keep up with things over the Internet, but it wasn't easy. And all I could think about, that whole morning, is where exactly in New York City my Grandfather lives - I don't know Manhattan that well. For all I knew, Poppa could've been in the building next door. I was scared.

I'm still scared today. Not so much for my own safety - Naples isn't exactly a major target - but for those I care about who've made major cities their home. And for this country, if another major attack occurs. Other countries have rolled over in the face of a massive attack; would we do the same?

Not too long after September 11th, I had the chance to talk to my Grandfather about things, and I made the comment that I was glad we had George W. Bush in power to deal with these lunatics, that Gore would be more concerned with making friends with bin Laden than with shooting him in the head. Grandfather agreed with me at the time, as I recall.

He's voting for Kerry in this election, and so are a great many others. I can understand why, because Kerry makes a seductive argument: why are we in Iraq, Kerry asks us, if Al Qaeda was the culprit? Why waste manpower taking out Saddam, if he didn't sign the order that killed 2,867 Americans? The answer is that Saddam is dangerous, even if he's never heard of Al Qaeda.

John Kerry frames the war on terror as an act of retribution, of punishment. He views it as a police action, catching a murderer and bringing him to justice. This is a shortsighted, foolhardy, and dangerous position. The war on terror is not a war on Osama bin Laden, it is a war on terrorists of all stripes, all allegiances. It is an ongoing preemptive action to protect the United States of America from terrorist attacks from any party on any vector.

If anyone put this to Kerry directly, he'd probably deny it. But actions speak louder than words, no matter how often, how well, or how eloquently those words are spoken. John Kerry wants to lead this country in a war of revenge focussed on a single sickly man. George W. Bush is leading this country in an ongoing mission to weaken, impair, and eliminate threats to this country before they achieve the critical mass necessary to kill thousands of us. I know to whom my vote will be going.

World On Fire

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Watch this. You'll need iTunes installed, but if you don't have iTunes installed yet I'm severely disappointed in you, hypothetial unequipped reader. Go download it now.

I'm a big fan of Sarah McLachlan. Have been since I first figured out that it was she who sang the haunting Full of Grace, which played at the end of the season 2 finale of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Sarah McLachlan rocks, and if anyone says otherwise I will hunt them down and hurl insults at them from a safe distance.

All the same, I was nervous watching this video; Apple was pitching it pretty hard, and Lord knows Steve Jobs has shown a clear willingness to spin his company to support his personal politics. And though I have no idea how McLachlan leans politically the statistics would allow me to make a fairly solid guess given her involvement in the entertainment industry.

In short, I was waiting for the video to fade to black, and then fade to the Kerry/Edwards campaign logo.

And, as occasionally happens, my cynicism was dissapointed, and my faith in humanity recovered just a tiny bit. The video is a message about how the world needs to be improved, about how much our country wastes on trivial, stupid things, with particular respect to the excesses of the music industry. And the video is only that, with no partisan politics thrown in to cheapen the message. I'm pretty damned sure that if Sheryl Crow did a video like this it would descend into Bush-bashing before the first chorus.

So, three cheers for Sarah McLachalan. I still have no idea who she's voting for in November, but I can respect her either way.

Plus: pretty music, pretty lady, Irish name... what's not to like?

Nine Out Of Ten Dentists Are Dentists

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So it seems Newsweek is at it again.

Of course it turns out that when you take a look at their polling methodolgoy, things may not be quite so cut and dry.

If I call a hundred Californian Democrats at random, I'm sure at least half of them will support Kerry. He's experiencing a big 'ol bounce after the debate. You know, that debate that the media say Kerry won and most folks who aren't working for the media thought was too close* to call. That debate.

Gee, I wonder if Newsweek's poll passes the global test...

* Read more than the headline from this link. Even though the editors at Time couldn't bring themselves to out-and-out lie, they still managed to spin things a good 179 degrees.

Kerry Is A Masterdebator

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So they've debated.

Interesting stuff. Bush made at least one major screw-up, when he responded to a question about Iraq with the line, "But the enemy attacked us, Jim, and I have a solemn duty to protect the American people, to do everything I can to protect us". It's pretty clearly a linguistic slip-up more than a sign of true confusion, but Kerry jumped on it nonetheless. Other than that the only clear mistakes were Kerry's repeated refusal to address the actual question in favor of going on about Korea for a while.

There were a few subtle points that I think bear dissection, however. The rest of this post will be even more rambling than usual because it's two AM and I want to get these thoughts down before I fall asleep. Please tell me you notice the difference.

Kerry told us, "Secretary of State Colin Powell told this president the Pottery Barn rule: If you break it, you fix it. Now, if you break it, you made a mistake". That's clearly untrue. If your intention is to break something, then success is not a mistake. Obviously a military invasion of a country with the express stated goal of ousting the ruling party is going to result in damage.

Kerry's comments on, "the KGB underneath Treblinka Square," was also a subtle but significant error. Treblinka was a Nazi death camp in Poland during WWII. The word doesn't even sound particularly Russian; you'd think someone with Kerry's international flair would've noticed.

I think Bush came off quite well on Korea. Kerry kept hammering on bilateral talks, and Bush kept calmly explaining how the current five-party plan would be destroyed. Kerry appeared to not even understand this until the end, when he basically just said Bush was wrong.

Kerry also said the US should've offered nuclear fuel to Iran. I'm not even going to bother addressing this point, because it's so patently stupid I don't have to.

Minutiae aside, I think Bush is the clear winner. Kerry's position seems to be that we should've waited for the UN before going into Iraq, but that we need to unilaterally jump on Korea and Iran right now, while Bush kept explaining that the multilateral diplomatic approach was currently working in those countries.

I'm not sure I fully believe either of them, but I find Bush's policy much more consistent than Kerry's.

Bush tried diplomacy and sanctions against Iraq; when these failed, he resorted to force. Bush tried diplomacy and sanctions against Libya; it worked, and Libya has disarmed its nuclear program. Bush is currently trying diplomacy and sanctions against Korea and Iran, and he has not ruled out the use of force if these methods fail.

Kerry, on the other hand, is all over the place. He wanted Iraq handled through diplomacy and sanctions, but he voted to authorize the war. Now he's saying the war is a good idea but implemented poorly. But he wants us to handle Iran and Korea immediately, regardless of international support. I think.

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