Teacher's Ramblings

A potpourri of education, politics, family matters, and current events.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Wow, This From A Political Science Prof!

(via http://silentrunning.tv/archives/004944.php) At the Daily Record link it states that the article was available until 10/27, so I'm posting it here. Wow, I wish I could see an opinion piece like this in the Chicago Tribune, YOU know they are 'endorsing' President Bush, right?
Election determines fate of nation

Published in the Daily Record on Oct. 6By Mathew ManwellerDue to the high demand for this column, the Daily Record has decided to post it online. It is normally not the paper's policy to post opinion columns or editorials online. This column will remain on the site until Oct. 27. Should you want to purchase a print copy of it, please call (509) 925-1414. The opinions stated on this page do not reflect the opinions held by the Daily Record. This content is owned by the Daily Record.

In that this will be my last column before the presidential election, there will be no sarcasm, no attempts at witty repartee. The topic is too serious, and the stakes are too high.

This November we will vote in the only election during our lifetime that will truly matter. Because America is at a once-in-a-generation crossroads, more than an election hangs in the balance. Down one path lies retreat, abdication and a reign of ambivalence.

Down the other lies a nation that is aware of it's past and accepts the daunting obligation its future demands. If we choose poorly, the consequences will echo through the next 50 years of history. If we, in a spasm of frustration, turn out the current occupant of the White House, the message to the world and ourselves will be two-fold. First, we will reject the notion that America can do big things. Once a nation that tamed a frontier, stood down the Nazis and stood upon the moon, we will announce to the world that bringing democracy to the Middle East is too big of a task for us. But more significantly, we will signal to future presidents that as voters, we are unwilling to tackle difficult challenges, preferring caution to boldness, embracing the mediocrity that has characterized other civilizations.

The defeat of President Bush will send a chilling message to future presidents who may need to make difficult, yet unpopular decisions. America has always been a nation that rises to the demands of history regardless of the costs or appeal. If we turn away from that legacy, we turn away from whom we are.

Second, we inform every terrorist organization on the globe that the lesson of Somalia was well-learned. In Somalia we showed terrorists that you don't need to defeat America on the battlefield when you can defeat them in the newsroom. They learned that a wounded America can become a defeated America. Twenty-four-hour news stations and daily tracing polls will do the heavy lifting, turning a cut into a fatal blow. Except that Iraq is Somalia times 10. The election of John Kerry will serve notice to every terrorist in every cave that the soft underbelly of American power is the timidity of American voters. Terrorists will know that a steady stream of grisly photos for CNN is all you need to break the will of the American people. Our own self-doubt will take it from there. Bin Laden will recognize that he can topple any American administration without setting foot on the homeland.

It is said that America's W.W.II generation is its 'greatest generation'. But my greatest fear is that it will become known as America's 'last generation.' Born in the bleakness of the Great depression and hardened in the fire of W.W. II, they may be the last American generation that understands the meaning of duty, honor and sacrifice. It is difficult to admit, but I know these terms are spoken with only hollow detachment by many (but not all) in my generation. Too many citizens today mistake 'living in America' as 'being an American.' But America has always been more of an idea than a place. When you sign on, you do more than buy real estate. You accept a set of values and responsibilities.

This November, my generation, which has been absent too long, must grasp the obligation that comes with being an American, or fade into the oblivion they may deserve. I believe that 100 years from now historians will look back at the election of 2004 and see it as the decisive election of our century. Depending on the outcome, they will describe it as the moment America joined the ranks of ordinary nations; or they will describe it as the moment the prodigal sons and daughters of the greatest generation accepted their burden as caretakers of the City on the Hill."

Mathew Manweller is a Central Washington University political science professor.

The Framers Were A Small Number

French officials and newspapers have expressed what their choices would be our presidential election; Germany's largest newspaper, The Bild has thrown its opinion in favor of GW, while most other German papers are endorsing Kerry; even in Great Britain, The Guardian has actively tried to interfere with the Ohio vote and one of their writers seemed to be pleading for an assassin for the President. Personally, I say 'stuff it' as far as foreign newspapers or foreign leaders opinions, their choices are of no concern. Now I know I had my opinion of what choice I would have made if I was an Australian, but I'm not and have no influence in Australia or even with any Australians living in the US.

Lawrence Kaplan, in today's WSJ Online, has an op-ed regarding some other foreign leaders' opinions on our elections. The difference with these leaders and the above, the choice will seriously impact them, in a very physical sense. His early point that while 'most' Iraqis have more immediate concerns, the 'elite' for want of a better term, have serious concerns:

We know what John Kerry thinks of Iraq. But what does Iraq think of him? Since he may soon be presiding over a war there, the question merits an answer. Yet, while the press has devoted page after page to the electoral preferences of the French, the opinions of those who count most overseas have received nary a mention.
Partly this derives from the simple fact that, as polls show, the overwhelming majority of Iraqis don't care who wins our election. Their concerns run closer to home--especially how to stay alive. There's an exception, however: the thousands of academics, lawyers, rights advocates and other educated elites leading the effort to create a new Iraq--nearly all of whom have hitched their fortunes to our own and nearly all of whom hope that President Bush wins.
Liberal Iraqis repeat the same question: Will the U.S. leave? These, after all, are the Iraqis building institutions, occupying key positions in ministries, and cooperating openly with the U.S. And they're the Iraqis with the most to lose in the event John Kerry makes good on his pledge to "bring the troops home where they belong."

This prospect, once unimaginable, has become very real in Iraq. The fear of abandonment has transformed meetings between Iraqi and U.S. officials, until recently arenas for grievance, into forums for the expression of solidarity. Leading Iraqis stayed up late into the night to watch the presidential debates. "Sophisticated Iraqis are listening closely," Iraqi national security adviser Mowaffak Al-Rubaie says in a telephone interview. "Any discussion of withdrawal worries them." Echoing this, Manhel al-Safi, who recently left his post as an aide in the prime minister's office for a job in the Foreign Ministry, says, "There's a level of fear--people in the government are afraid the Americans will leave Iraq." He adds a personal plea to Sen. Kerry: "Mr. Senator, destruction is easy; building takes a long time."

Such fears haven't been spun out of whole cloth. As far as Iraqi elites are concerned, President Bush brought democracy to a land that knew only dictatorship. From Sen. Kerry, however, they hear no commitment to build a liberal state or, for that matter, any state. What they hear instead is a presidential aspirant who complains about "opening firehouses in Baghdad and closing them down in the United States of America," even as his campaign aides dismiss Iraq's prime minister as an American "puppet."


Whoops, Some Dems Don't Like That They Sound Like UBL

For the past 24 hours or so, it's been repeatedly noticed that the UBL video, sounds suspiciously like it's paraphrasing, albeit badly, Michael Moore's F/911. Seems some dems aren't happy with the similarities:

No, this tape should cause many on the left to stare into the mirror for a long time and ask, “What have I turned into? How did I become so reflexively partisan, so blinded by rage, so intemperate in my rhetoric that my own arguments are being echoed by a man who planned and enjoyed the mass murder of Americans?”
“How the hell did I reach the point where I agree with Osama bin Laden on Bush?”
UPDATE: I'm not going to go looking for too many "Well, now I agree with Osama" comments from lefties. But I had these comments by Daily Kos readers forwarded to me: "He couldn't believe that Shrub stayed in a classroom reading a book about a goat to kids while his country was being attacked. SMACKDOWN from OBL." Another one: "well I guess I have to agree with the man. Although it pains me. on a side note. Is Amazon shipping F911 to Afgan addresses?"

To New Frontiers

My friend, Eddie has started his own blog, linked above. He's a special young man, serving on the USS Kittyhawk, currently in Japan. He also shares some ideas for teaching with me. We've corresponded for nearly a year now, his interests in current events are wide-ranging, he made me much more aware of Darfur and I helped turn him onto GW. Visit his blog, you'll see what I mean!

Dr. Horsefeathers Discusses the Electoral College

In 2000 I had my class research and debate the pros and cons of the electoral college. Interestingly, they came to the same conclusion, though not as concisely:

[...]Among those who should know better—our lawmakers and the press—the complexities of the 2000 election are understood, but ignored, and some irresponsible leaders of the Democratic Party have, for the past four years encouraged the myth of the stolen election among their constituents, and have themselves fought presidential prerogatives tooth and nail on the grounds that they are justified in depriving the President of his rightful powers because of this myth of illegitimacy.


The 2000 election was not the first mess which left bitterness and grievance in its wake, and it won’t be the last. Anomalous elections have occurred from time to time in the course of our history because the growth and development of the country has “resulted in profound political divisions within the country which the designers of the Electoral College system seem to have anticipated as needing resolution at a higher level,” according to William C. Kimberling, deputy director of the Federal Election Commission’s Office of Election Administration.


The Electoral College system requires two benchmarks that the founding fathers wisely built into the process as a safeguard against chaotic popular partisanship. The winner of the presidential election must win a sufficient number of popular votes to enable him (or her) to govern (though this may not be an absolute majority) AND that such a popular vote be distributed across the country to enable him to govern. Such an arrangement ensures that states with large populations and urban centers do not dominate every election. In this way the nation’s diversity is protected.

The most powerful argument that is leveled against the Electoral College system is that it may fail to accurately reflect the popular will because it tends to overrepresent people in rural states, and that it tends to discourage third-party or independent candidates. There is some truth to both complaints. But the criticism that it favors rural states can be leveled against the U.S. Senate as well and no one has suggested disestablishing that institution. As far as the criticism that it discourages third parties, Horsefeathers sees this as a virtue.

The most powerful arguments for the continuation of the EC system are that it contributes to the cohesiveness of the country by requiring a distribution of popular support to be elected president; it helps to maintain a federal system of government and representation; and finally it contributes to the political stability of the nation.

[...]Go read the whole thing...

What About November 3rd?

VD Hanson has an interesting article on what is assumed to happen after 11/2 choice is made:

[. . .]Meanwhile, here at home, John Kerry talks about timetables for departure and cessation of the present course. His supporters on the extreme left from George Soros to Michael Moore blame George Bush, not Osama bin Laden or Saddam Hussein, for the current televised butchery. There is a reason why candidate Kerry now painfully insists that he would not precipitously withdraw — because everyone else worldwide, from a Chirac and Schroeder to Arafat and most of the Arab world — suspect that, in fact, he will.

An American flight would shame Tony Blair and John Howard, leave eastern Europe to the bullying of Paris and Berlin, destroy the Iraq interim government, take the heat off Arab autocracies, and send a message that American policy was back to Clintonian-like law enforcement, replete with jargon such as "sensitive" and "nuisance." It does not matter what Kerry would "really" wish to do, since the last two years of campaign rhetoric have earned him the worldwide reputation of the Bush antithesis, and thus his victory would, rightly or wrongly, be interpreted as a complete rejection of toppling Saddam and fostering a constitutional government in his place. His supporters and financial backers on the left would not tolerate anything less than a withdrawal.

Because of our astounding weaponry and superb military, the terrorists in Fallujah count on the help of such postmodern Western guilt and internecine blame to supply constraints on the American military every bit as effective as the old Soviet nuclear deterrent. Again, a Michael Moore — or so they believe — is worth an entire jihadist cell. Our parents were terrified that, should America resort to military force abroad, they would be nuked; we are even more scared that our lethality will earn us the parlor disdain of the French and Germans. The terrorists are assured that the Western press is obsessed with Abu Ghraib, but not at all with Saddam's necropolis or their own slaughter of innocents. They suspect that those who endured Omaha and Utah or scaled Suribachi are long sleeping in their graves, and that a few thousand creeps in Fallujah scare us more than a quarter million in the Bulge did our parents.

[. . .]

Meanwhile, we all vote. One candidate urges us to return to the mindset of pre-September 11 — law enforcement dealing with terrorists as nuisances. He claims the policies that have led to an absence of another attack at home, the end of the Taliban and Saddam Hussein, idealistic efforts to extend freedom, and radical and positive changes in Pakistan, Libya, the West Bank, and the Gulf have made things worse. In contrast, the other reminds us that we are in a real war against horrific enemies and are no longer passive targets, but will fight the terrorists on their home turf, win, and leave behind humane government. No choice could be clearer. It is America's call.

Nuisance and Risk, Kerry Doesn't Get Either

David Brooks has an article in today's NY Times, that chastises Kerry for using the UBL video in a nakedly political way.

One of the crucial issues of this election is, Which candidate fundamentally gets the evil represented by this man? Which of these two guys understands it deep in his gut - not just in his brain or in his policy statements, but who feels it so deep in his soul that it consumes him?

It's quite clear from the polls that most Americans fundamentally think Bush does get this. Last March, Americans preferred Bush over Kerry in fighting terrorism by 60 percent to 33 percent, according to the Gallup Poll. Now, after a furious campaign and months of criticism, that number is unchanged. Bush is untouched on this issue.

Bush's response yesterday to the video was exactly right. He said we would not be intimidated. He tried to take the video out of the realm of crass politics by mentioning Kerry by name and assuring the country that he was sure Kerry agreed with him.

Kerry did say that we are all united in the fight against bin Laden, but he just couldn't help himself. His first instinct was to get political.

On Milwaukee television, he used the video as an occasion to attack the president: "He didn't choose to use American forces to hunt down Osama bin Laden. He outsourced the job." Kerry continued with a little riff from his stump speech, "I am absolutely confident I have the ability to make America safer."
Even in this shocking moment, this echo of Sept. 11, Kerry saw his political opportunities and he took 'em. There's such a thing as being so nakedly ambitious that you offend the people you hope to impress.

What I found even more telling, is the conclusion which harkens back to Megan McArdle's post cited earlier, (emphasis mine), http://teachersramblings.blogspot.com/2004/10/if-you-are-still-undecided.html

But politics has shaped Kerry's approach to this whole issue. Back in December 2001, when bin Laden was apparently hiding in Tora Bora, Kerry supported the strategy of using Afghans to hunt him down. He told Larry King that our strategy "is having its impact, and it is the best way to protect our troops and sort of minimalize the proximity, if you will. I think we have been doing this pretty effectively, and we should continue to do it that way."

But then the political wind shifted, and Kerry recalculated. Now Kerry calls the strategy he supported "outsourcing." When we rely on allies everywhere else around the world, that's multilateral cooperation, but when Bush does it in Afghanistan, it's "outsourcing." In Iraq, Kerry supports using local troops to chase insurgents, but in Afghanistan he is in post hoc opposition.

This is why Kerry is not cleaning Bush's clock in this election. Many people are not sure that he gets the fundamental moral confrontation. Many people are not sure he feels it, or feels anything. Since he joined the Senate, what cause has he taken a political risk for? Has he devoted himself selflessly and passionately to any movement larger than himself?

We are revealed by what we hate. When it comes to Osama bin Laden, Kerry hasn't revealed whatever it is that lies inside.

E-mail: dabrooks@nytimes.com

A Good Guy, A Mensch

I don't believe the President of the United States necessarily needs to be a 'regular guy' or even a traditional nice guy, but there must be a core. I'm glad Bush's core happens to be nice:

This is an excerpt from the email I received from the mom of Molly Kate Wilkinson, the girl I wrote about earlier today. The following words were offered in addition to the story posted at Betsy's Page in early September about her meeting with President Bush:

These were kids that have obvious mental, physical, and emotional challenges. George W. Bush understood that having media there would have caused confusion and anxiety for these kids. He continually asked his Secret Service agents to "stand back" and "leave this kids alone, please!" when they were crawling all over him. At one point, he was holding a small tot, who was wailing away with no intention of stopping.

President Bush looked at us all and said, "Well, he sounds just like my colleagues in Congress!"He treated my own daughter with unbelievable patience and concern. She spent several minutes with him, telling him about our son, a US Marine stationed overseas. He stopped, looked her right in the eye and said, "You tell your brother that I said to tell him that I am grateful to him for his service and that he has a great little sister".

Sharing this story with others who do not get the chance to observe, first-hand, the compassion and quiet dignity this man has, is a way I can help with President's Bush re-election. To me, all the issues are important, a man who behaves with integrity when no one is watching is a quality I value most. Additional accounts of Molly Kate's story can be found
here and here.

The September posting mentioned above, from Betsy's Page, http://betsyspage.blogspot.com/2004/09/reader-sent-me-story-about-when-she.html
provides another illustration of Bush's natural inclination of behaving well:

Wednesday, September 01, 2004
A reader sent me a story about when she went to the White House for a charity event involving children to meet privately with the President. She wrote me of the wonderful way he was with the children, pausing to talk with and hug each one. This is her description.
While at the White House, I spoke with several media types that have coordinated with both current and the previous Clinton administrations. I had a long conversation with a media guy who had also worked with the Clintons during their eight years. He was young, aggressive, Democratic, and did some work for the current administration. He said, at first, he was unrelenting in his disdain for Bush...that he was a "loyal" Democrat. But, after working with Bush on and off, for the past 4 years, he absolutely "loved" the President and that working with the Clintons was "hell"...they were both demanding, rude, arrogant, paranoid people, who were late for everything. He said that President Bush was a "good, decent man, who respectseveryone he works with".Another thing. This event could have been pure positive PR heaven for the President, given the nature of the organization and the people it represents. But he insisted on it remaining private with no cameras, media, etc...it wasn't even on his daily agenda. He offered himself extensively to the people involved who wished to meet him and talk with him. He continually told the Secret Service to "stand back", so we could have close access to him.This young Democrat said that if it would have been the Clintons, they would have exploited the event, had the media all over it, refused to pose for pictures, etc., and then been a couple of hours late anyway. And, he went on to tell me, everyone who worked with President Bush on a daily basis pretty much felt the same way as he.

If You Are STILL Undecided???

A sum up of the issues that brought many of us to the same conclusion from Megan McArdle:

In the end, it comes down to how much risk the candidates will take. The Democratic policy on foriegn policy risk has been pretty much the same since McGovern: they won't take any. They bug out at the first sign of casualties, and go in only when the foe is so tiny that we can smash them without committing ground troops.

The Republicans take risk. Bush took on a lot of it -- and with it, the possibility that something could go wrong.

What does the country need now? Someone risk averse, to shepherd us through, or someone who will take bold action and possibly land us in a disaster? I think a lot of people have concluded, from the fact that Bush's risky move has gone wrong, that risk aversion is therefore the superior strategy. But that doesn't follow. Jimmy Carter running right now would to my mind be inarguably worse than George Bush for all his screw ups. On the other hand, Bush I would certainly be preferable to Bush II.

Unfortunately, I have neither Bush I nor Mr Carter on the stump to make my choice easy. I have the choices I have: between someone whose foriegn policy has been so risky as to be foolhardy, or someone who will not take the political risk of voting his conscience (whatever that may be) on the war; between someone whose commanding ability to chart a course and stick to it veers into pigheaded refusal to admit he's wrong, and someone who takes four weeks to decide on a campaign bumper sticker design. Above all, I have to guess how Mr Kerry will be in office, because the president doesn't have the luxuries of a senator or a campaigner; he has to decide what to do without the other senators to hide behind, and he cannot just go out and talk about his never-never plans when action is required. He doesn't get to skip a vote, and dithering could be fatal to a lot more than his political career. When something goes badly wrong in Iraq, will Kerry stay the course, because it's important, or will he take counsel of his fears, and his party's left wing, and cut and run as soon as he decently can? Daniel Drezner advocates a
minimax strategy, but it's not clear to me that Kery represents a win.

Then there's the question of what message electing Kerry would send. Does it make the world love us, because we got rid of the president they hate, or does it make them despise us, because we've just held a referendum on the Iraq war, and Bush lost?

Ultimately, I've decided to take the advice of a friend's grandmother, who told me, on her wedding day, that I should never, ever marry a man thinking he'd change. "If you can't live with him exactly the way he is," she told me, "then don't marry him, because he'll say he's going to change, and he might even try to change, but it's one in a million that he actually will."

Kerry's record for the first fifteen years in the senate, before he knew what he needed to say in order to get elected, is not the record of anyone I want within spitting distance of the White House war room. Combine that with his deficits on domestic policy -- Kerry's health care plan would, in my opinon, kill far more people, and cost more, than the Iraq war ever will -- and it's finally clear. For all the administration's screw -ups -- and there have been many -- I'm sticking with the devil I know. George Bush in 2004.

What the Bin Laden Really Means

Wretchard's analysis once again strikes me as the most spot on:

It is important to notice what he has stopped saying in this speech. He has stopped talking about the restoration of the Global Caliphate. There is no more mention of the return of Andalusia. There is no more anticipation that Islam will sweep the world. He is no longer boasting that Americans run at the slightest wounds; that they are more cowardly than the Russians. He is not talking about future operations to swathe the world in fire but dwelling on past glories. He is basically saying if you leave us alone we will leave you alone. Though it is couched in his customary orbicular phraseology he is basically asking for time out.
The American answer to Osama's proposal will be given on Election Day. One response is to agree that the United States of America will henceforth act like Sweden, which is on track to become majority Islamic sometime after the middle of this century. The electorate best knows which candidate will serve this end; which candidate most promises to be European-like in attitude and they can choose that path with both eyes open. The electorate can strike that bargain and Osama may keep his word. The other course is to reject Osama's terms utterly; to recognize the pleading in his outwardly belligerent manner and reply that his fugitive existence; the loss of his sanctuaries; the annihilation of his men are but the merest foretaste of what is yet to come: to say that to enemies such as he, the initials 'US' will always mean Unconditional Surrender.

Osama has stated his terms. He awaits America's answer.

Friday, October 29, 2004

Geez, What Do We Non-Conspiracists Call These?

Opening salvo with the UK based, Lancet, thankfully dealt with by Chicagoboyz site, noted above. 100k civilian casualties in Iraq, don't think so.

Now the hoped for story by 60 Minutes, co-oped by NY Times, has been debunked by the Pentagon, though it's very hard to find, in spite of the news conference being carried live by nearly all outlets, http://www.cbc.ca/story/world/national/2004/10/29/iraq_explosives_pentagon041029.html .

Will that stop 60 minutes from running a piece on Sunday to try and influence the election? Nah.

Bild Endorses Bush

Ray at Medienkritik, has this piece of 'good news' for us GW supporters:

Perhaps the largest October surprise in Germany is the BILD newspaper's endorsement of President George W. Bush. BILD, which has the widest circulation of any newspaper in Europe, lists the following 10 reasons why Bush should be re-elected:
Update: The list we had up earlier was an abbreviated summary of the 10 reasons. We have now translated BILD's list of reasons in their entirety. Here they are:
1. Bush has clear priorities. He sees the inhuman Islamic fundamentalism and the murderous mullahs as the largest danger for the Western world.
2. Bush has learned the lessons of history. Military strength, not pleasant talk, is the only thing that helps against violent fanatics. And with Bush -- unlike with Kerry -- there is no doubt about this.
3. Under Bush, the US, as a superpower, will continue to bear the financial, military and casualty burden in the fight against terrorism in a "holy war" which Islamic fanatics unilaterally declared.
4. Along with fighting terror and the terrorists, a re-elected Bush will do everything he can to prevent nuclear proliferation. That is especially true with regard to the nuclear ambitions of Iran and North Korea.
5. Bush has learned that America can defeat every country in war, but needs allies in peace. Thus, his second term will be characterized by cooperation with international partners. But he will not depend on how Syria or Libya vote at the UN.
6. Bush knows that Europe and Germany don’t have the military at their disposal to become involved in any further foreign military engagements. Therefore he won't ask them for help. Kerry will do exactly that – and will further burden already damaged German-American relations.
7. Under Bush, America will remain a reliable partner for Israel in its fight for survival. That must especially be in our German interest.
8. Republicans have always been stronger supporters of free trade than Democrats. That is also true of Bush when compared to Kerry. And that is good for Germany as an export nation.
9. Every new American administration makes mistakes. Bush has already made his. Kerry, on the other hand, has of yet held no (executive) position in the government. He would be worse prepared than most Presidents preceding him.
10. With Bush, we know what to expect. With Kerry, nobody knows what he stands for and where he wants to lead America – and the world.

While that is good news, I think better example was established by the Medienkritik blog post itself. I think newspapers and politicians should stay out of other countries' elections, if the feeling is so strong, move there:


As the US election quickly approaches, Medienkritik would like to make its position known on this vital event. As a German publication, Medienkritik feels that it is not our place and it is not our job to interfere in internal American political affairs or to try to exercise influence on the election by endorsing one side or the other. Frankly, we feel that foreign attempts (such as the Guardian letter-writing debacle) to influence the outcome of the US election are despicable.

There's more...

The Elections, Sue Them

I keep hoping that there will be a significant victory and the past election becomes history. I don't think that it will happen, rather the system is now working under the Gore paradigm:

excerpt from Daniel Henninger's article:

Next Tuesday you get to vote for President. Next Wednesday, the lawyers get to decide who won.
Why get upset? We've allowed the lawyers to ruin most everything else in American life--from the practice of medicine to the practice of prayer. Might as well let them drive the entire political system over the cliff.

"Right now we have 10,000 lawyers out in the battleground states on Election Day, and that number is growing by the day." So Michael Whouley told the Associated Press last week. Mr. Whouley is commander in chief of the division of lawyers Mr. Kerry has drafted to invade the voting precincts of Ohio, Florida and any other state still inhabited by enough free-thinking Republicans and Democrats to make the election there close.

Bob Bauer, counsel to the Democratic National Committee, said last month: "Our SWAT teams . . . will have done nothing but prepare through the fall. We want to be able to send teams out to fight these wars simultaneously."

SWAT teams? These "wars?" As Al Davis, the political philosopher who runs the Oakland Raiders, might have described the current state of our politics: "Just sue, baby."

Thursday, October 28, 2004

An Iraqi Woman Not Only Speaks Out

Powerful interview is an understatement for this Winds of Change post by Robin Burk. It's impossible to get my mind around what one family has endured and their continued bravery in standing up for their country. Here is an excerpt from Robin's Post:

What would you do if you were a 22 year old Kurdish Muslim woman in March of 2003, when an army drawn from several countries invaded your homeland?

If you were Humalia Akrawy you would remember your brother, killed under Saddam -- and remember how they sent back just one leg and part of an arm to demonstrate his death and their power to your family. You would look at your father, who no longer has full use of his hands after being tortured by Saddam.

And then, despite the disapproval of many but with the blessing and support of your family, on 23 March you would volunteer to become a translator for the 101st Airborne Division of the U.S. Army.

But what would you do when Ba'athists and jihadists ambushed your car, injuring your brother and trying to kill you, and when they later killed your 24 year old sister thinking she was you -- pumping 60 AK47 bullets into her body? Or when you received a letter saying, "We know we missed killing you, but we will be back" and then your home was blown up, injuring another brother and killing the Iraqi policeman guarding it?

If you were the remarkable Ms. Akrawy you would help your remaining family members move to a safe area in the far north of the country and then return to your job. And this time, instead of insisting on a lower profile role, you would eagerly agree to become the translator for Lieutenant General Petraeus himself, the commander of the 101st - despite all the media exposure that entailed - and you would proudly do that job in the face of continued death threats against you.

I had the humbling experience of meeting this courageous, intelligent and outspoken 23 year old woman today. Here are some of my notes, capturing her own words as much as I was able, and posted here with her enthusiastic permission.

Humalia Akrawy Speaks Out

Belmont Club On Arafat's Demise

Another choice post from Wretchard, read the whole thing:

The downside of the Arab Way of War -- the Intifada in this case -- is that the concept of victory through denial is inherently pyrrhic. 'We burned our village in order to keep it from falling into enemy hands' is like lighting a match to examine the gas tank; it works but misses the point.
Palestine was cursed by the example of Algeria, which after evicting the French, could spend the next three decades cleansing itself of the poisons of terrorism. Arafat forgot that the Jews, unlike the French in Algeria, were as much a part of region as themselves. In place of protracted war, which at all events ends, Arafat embarked upon an eternal war with the eternal Jew. He would enter Algeria's tunnel of terror with no light at the end of it.
The Intifada may have hurt Israel, but it consumed Palestine, leaving it with only the counterfeit of a functioning society. Terrorism leaves nothing but ash. And when Arafat dies, as all men must, his legacy, no less than his corpse will be contested by a swarm of pretenders -- a power struggle, of possibly surpassing savagery among men nurtured -- at the European taxpayer's dime -- for their skill at terror. The
Guardian has a piece, really an advance obituary, describing how only America, Israel and England refused to invest in Arafat. They mean it as reproof, unaware even of its irony.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

More on Arafat-Life or Death

No doubt he is sick, http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull&cid=1098851590225 . Is it good or bad news?

Whatever It Takes

I'm in agreement with Bill at INDC Journal, GW gets my vote, because he gets what is the threat to our survival. He may not act on some issues as I want, but I sure wish to be around when we have a Congress that will address this less pressing issues. Watch the video...

Iraq, Was It a Danger?

Well, yeah! Check out this site, linked above. (via INDC Journal, http://www.indcjournal.com/archives/001222.php ) There may not be alot of blogger words, but the site and pics speak for themselves.

2-3 Months Overdue! Attack Falluja

Yeah, it entails risks, and the point is? Read the whole thing...

The timing and decision to carry out any attacks or close any border crossings is up to the prime minister, Ayad Allawi, senior Marine officers say. But as peace negotiations with representatives of Falluja have broken down, senior officers say it could be just weeks before air and ground attacks begin, in a battle that officers estimate could last from several days to two weeks.
"If we're told to go, it'll be decisive," Lt. Gen. John F. Sattler, the commander of nearly 40,000 marines and soldiers in western and south-central Iraq, said in an interview. "The goal will be to limit the damage, limit the casualties and do it as rapidly and decisively as possible. We're not here to destroy the town. We're here to give it back."

The issue extends far beyond Falluja and Ramadi. Military officials said smashing the resistance there would deal a blow to the insurgency nationally, because Falluja in particular has been a haven and staging ground for attacks. Defeating insurgents there could help to calm the nation and set the conditions for elections, commanders say.

Senior officers say they are mindful that an attack on Falluja and Ramadi could set off uprisings in other Sunni towns and possibly in Sadr City, an impoverished Shiite area of Baghdad that exploded in violence during the revolts in April. But military officers say they are planning for such contingencies.
Several important military and political decisions remain to be made before any attack, officers said. Britain is redeploying about 850 troops from Basra to an area south of Baghdad to free up American forces to swing into position near Falluja. Iraqi security forces have not yet moved into position, though General Sattler said that would happen quickly once the order is given. A last-minute settlement also is possible, as has happened before at Falluja.

How Does One Spell "Clueless?"

What's up with this Japanese kidnap victim? Seems he may have caught the Rachel Corey syndrome too close to Iraq. Truly I feel for him and his family, but there is something weird here:

TOKYO - Shosei Koda did not go to Iraq (news - web sites) to distribute aid, reconstruct the country or strike it rich in the oil business. He was not connected with Japan's government or its armed forces.

So in the hours after Japan was shocked with the news that the 24-year-old had been taken hostage by militants and threatened with death, the question emerged: why was Koda in such a dangerous place?

The government said it also was perplexed.

"I don't know why Mr. Koda entered Iraq, where the most dangerous situation prevails all over the country," Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura said Wednesday. "Our government has quite often asked people not to enter the nation."

A video of Koda was posted on the Internet on Tuesday, saying he had been kidnapped by followers of Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and would be killed unless Japan withdraws its troops from Iraq.

Koda was the first Japanese taken hostage in Iraq since April, when militants captured two groups of Japanese civilians and threatened their lives.

Koda's father appealed for his son's life in a videotape aired Wednesday by Al-Jazeera.
"What I want Shosei's kidnappers to understand is that he is not an activist supporting the stay of the Japanese troops in Iraq nor the American policy there," his father, Masumi Koda, said.
"On the contrary, his sympathy for the Iraqis and his empathy for their crisis is what made him go to Iraq," he added, speaking in Japanese with an Arabic language voiceover.

I Know It's Bad to Wish Ill On Someone, But This May Be Good News

Arafat may be gravely ill. Now that the Gaza pullout plan is approved, this may be the opportunity many have been hoping for.

RAMALLAH, West Bank - Yasser Arafat (news - web sites)'s health worsened Wednesday and a team of doctors went to his compound to examine the Palestinian leader, according to a Palestinian official close to Arafat.

Arafat had been ill over the past two weeks, suffering from what Palestinian officials said was a lengthy bout of the flu. Israeli officials speculated he might have stomach cancer, but two of Arafat's doctors said Wednesday that a blood test, combined with a biopsy of tissue taken from his digestive tract, showed he does not have cancer of the digestive tract.

Late Wednesday, Arafat's condition deteriorated and his doctors rushed to his room to examine him, an official in Arafat's office said.

A senior Palestinian official denied reports that Arafat had lost consciousness.

About the RDX

Wretchard once again has the take on a MSM regarding links and logic-read the whole thing:


[. . .]

... The facility had been identified by the International Atomic Energy Agency as a suspected chemical, biological and nuclear weapons site. U.N. inspectors visited the plant at least nine times, including as recently as Feb. 18. The facility is part of a larger complex known as the Latifiyah Explosives and Ammunition Plant al Qa Qaa. The senior U.S. official, based in Washington and speaking on condition of anonymity, said the material was under further study. The site is enormous and U.S. troops are still investigating it for potential weapons of mass destruction, the official said. "Initial reports are that the material is probably just explosives, but we're still going through the place," the official said. Peabody said troops found thousands of boxes, each of which contained three vials of white powder, together with documents written in Arabic that dealt with how to engage in chemical warfare.
The contemporaneous CBS report, written before anyone knew al Qa Qaa would be a big deal, establishes two important things. The first is that 3ID knew it was looking through an IAEA inspection site. The second was that the site had shown unmistakable signs of tampering before the arrival of US troops. "Peabody said troops found thousands of boxes, each of which contained three vials of white powder, together with documents written in Arabic that dealt with how to engage in chemical warfare." Now presumably those thousands of boxes were not all packaged and labeled with chemical warfare instructions under IAEA supervision, so the inescapable conclusion is that a fairly large and organized type of activity had been under way in Al Qa Qaa for some time. It is important to reiterate that these are contemporaneous CBS reports which were filed no with foreknowledge of the political controversy to come.
Michael Totten wonders why "there is no mention of 380 tons of HDX and RDX". Perhaps the reason the RDX isn't mentioned can be found via a link through
Josh Marshall, quoting NBC's Jim Miklaszewski. (Hat tip reader Trebbers in Comments)

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

The Cost of Waiting On the UN

Belmontclub, linked to above, nails why the attack on the administration regarding the 'explosives' is unfair, besides the fact that it isn't true. That John Kerry keeps at the lack of 'multi-national' support, ignoring that both Germany and France have made it very clear that they will not help him, anymore than they have Bush is a demonstration of his narcissism.

He fails to see that he not only has not engendered further support, but that he has singlehandledly guaranteed that if elected, he will lose the allies we do have. (For some reason it follows that those referred to as the coalition of the bribed, would not want to be part of a coalition led by him).

An observation: My 8th grade students are working on a debate of 4 issues: War on Terror, Iraq War, Homeland Security, and No Child Left Behind. The class was about 3/4 for Bush. Each group has 2 Kerry reps and at least 2 Bush reps. As the kids are pulling information, the Kerry supporters are getting upset, they are asking if 'this stuff is true?' Methinks they are going home and talking to their parents. One boy today, a Polish immigrant, became very upset, he could not believe what Kerry had said about the Eastern European contributions.

Wow! This Captures How I'm Feeling!

Check out the pic posted above. I don't know that it's a good thing that it really does encapsulate, (whoops, wrong choice of word!), how I feel. No doubt, in a week and a day, more of my blog will be on teaching issues and my family/friends.

In a Teacherly Mood I Guess

I've been looking at some education sites, trying to get some help with the institute, alas. At Joanne's site, I found the above link to a Tech Central article she wrote about a year ago, dang do I agree. If I get another note from a parent, asking me to give their lil' darling another day to work on an assignment, because they had to attend football, figure skating, gymnastics, or cheerleading practice, I will have a meltdown that rivals Lawrence O'Donnell's. (BTW, one would think that word would filter down, I do NOT give extra time for the assignments).

Here's an excerpt from Joanne's column:

So. Is soccer really more important than studying? Should teachers eliminate math homework so kids can spend more time practicing karate kicks?

Intelligently assigned homework of reasonable difficulty is worth the effort. In elementary school, a little homework develops good work habits, though it doesn't boost achievement. Middle and high school students learn more, especially in math, when they study more. They also prepare to learn independently -- if Mom and Dad back off and let them do their own work.

Limit after-school activities. Turn off the TV. There's plenty of time for homework -- if it's the top priority.

Joanne Jacobs blogs on education at www.joannejacobs.com. She is writing a book on a start-up charter school.

BTW, an earlier post is on the point that her book HAS been accepted by a publisher! Congratulations, again.

Do You Make A Difference?

Joanne Jacobs links to a survey by the University of Tennessee on how people use the internet for political information. I took the survey and would say they are looking at not only how the internet is used, but also what is influencing the influencers! Pretty interesting. Seriously, after all the wonderful pics Instapundit has posted this is a university I would love to go to!

Take the survey: http://apps.ws.utk.edu/politics/

I Hate Teaching Institutes! Now I Have to Give One

I am going to be hated at my school. At the end of November, I have to present an institute for the certified staff at my parochial school. The topic, "Using differentiated instruction as a means of IEP implementation." Exciting, no?

If some teachers could please, PLEASE share some ideas on how to make this 'less deadly' than nearly all institutes I've attended, I will be forever grateful. Luckily for all concerned this will only be 2.5 hours. I also need to cover IDEA law and 'educate' the teachers on what their obligations are when they sign to implement an IEP, without the resources available in the public schools.

THK Was Wrong on the The October Surprise

James Taranto has the story on the Democrats nasty attempt to steal the election via the NY Times and the UN:

The Times Spoils CBS's SurpriseTo make his case against President Bush, John Kerry has been relying on intelligence from sources that have been proven unreliable--specifically, the New York Times (home of Jayson Blair and Maureen Dowd) and CBS (Dan Rather and Mary Mapes). Yesterday Kerry seized on a story in the Times, "reported in cooperation with the CBS News program '60 Minutes,' " that "nearly 380 tons of powerful conventional explosives . . . are missing from one of Iraq's most sensitive former military installations."
So after arguing for months that Saddam Hussein posed no threat and had no ties to terrorists, Kerry
shifted to claiming that "terrorists could use this material to kill our troops and our people, blow up airplanes and level buildings." The Times, meanwhile, published an article today titled "Iraq Explosives Become Issue in Campaign." They're an issue in the campaign in part because Bush didn't talk about them:
The White House sought on Monday to explain the disappearance of 380 tons of high explosives in Iraq that American forces were supposed to secure, as Senator John Kerry seized on the missing cache as "one of the great blunders of Iraq" and said President Bush's "incredible incompetence" had put American troops at risk.
Mr. Bush never mentioned the disappearance of the high explosives during a long campaign speech in Greeley, Colo., about battling terrorism.
It wasn't long, though, before NBC News had raised questions about the Times/CBS October surprise. The Drudge Report summarizes the "NBC Nightly News" story:
The 380 tons of powerful conventional explosives were already missing back in April 10, 2003--when U.S. troops arrived at the installation south of Baghdad!
An NBCNews crew embedded with troops moved in to secure the Al-Qaqaa weapons facility on April 10, 2003, one day after the liberation of Iraq.
According to NBCNews, the HMX and RDX explosives were already missing when the American troops arrived.
New York Sun notes that the Times/CBS report was based on a letter from Mohamed ElBaradei, who is seeking a third term as head of the International Atomic Energy Commission. The Bush administration opposes ElBaradei's reappointment, so one suspects that this was a foreign effort to influence the outcome of America's presidential election, aided by our domestic partisan liberal media.
Ironically, the effort might have been undone by the Times' hurry to get the story out. The
Los Angeles Times reports that "60 Minutes" originally planned to air it next Sunday--two nights and one day before the election. Would that have been enough time for the truth to out?

Captain Ed has the definitive post on the logistics involved, if this had been an actual occurance, http://www.captainsquartersblog.com/mt/archives/002869.php (bottom line, not feasible under the circumstances).

INDC Bill has links galore on this new MSM scandal, http://www.indcjournal.com/archives/001212.php

Monday, October 25, 2004

Gosh Knows, I Don't Know Much

Ok, got out of school and went with some teachers to unwind. Got home about 5:45 and made dinner for the dad. In midst of, a teacher friend called. "Did I hear about the cache in Iraq?"

"No," not a specific. However, the armed forces have been calling into question many a piece of 'Saddam's arsenal' all over the globe, most interestingly in Western Europe, for the past 5 months. But heh, no WMD in Iraq, right?

Slap me silly. Now the NY Times, the 'paper of record' just ask them, has an interesting piece: http://www.nytimes.com/2004/10/25/international/middleeast/25bomb.html?ex=1256443200&en=55e31eff624d4b80&ei=5090&partner=rssuserland In any case, one must drop preconceptions...ooh la la!

This Is Not Going To Increase My Hits, Oh Well!

There is no other blogs to link to. This morning I admitted to feeling a sort of burn out, now this NYTimes article, http://www.nytimes.com/2004/10/25/international/middleeast/25bomb.html?ex=1256443200&en=55e31eff624d4b80&ei=5090&partner=rssuserland brings to mind why those in the GW camp, cannot let down their guard.

What About Them????

Why does this remind me of my middle school students?

Maybe because the normal mode is, "Why me and not him?" Never mind that it's the umpteenth time for 'you' or that it's not 'always fair.'

Pre-Election Let Down

It's happening and I'm trying to fight it. This is NOT the time to stop working for the re-election of GW. I read the news, http://www.washingtontimes.com/national/20041024-110609-9428r.htm , would seem important, lying about foreign affairs and all, if the MSM wouldn't just yawn. This too seems consequential, http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/004/824yefgv.asp questions of aiding and abetting, but once again it with a week remaining, who will notice? A Yale professor for Bush, albeit for unusual reasoning, http://www.latimes.com/news/printedition/opinion/la-op-gelernter24oct24,1,1714679.story seems to be something that no one is paying attention to, though we are inundated with claims of 'Bush is clueless.'

I will do what I can, but there is a let down settling in, perhaps for me it's just the approach of end of first quarter. I know this is not the time to drop the guard, so I will carry on; walking next week and doing my part Tuesday by voting and working at the County Commission. Nearly all the polls at the state level are breaking, ever so slightly for Bush:

Andrew McClurg, over at Polipundit, http://polipundit.com/index.php?p=4773 reports on the:
Zogby Polls
There are a whole batch of polls out tonight from Zogby. Here are the numbers as he reports them.
Wisconsin: Bush 48%, Kerry 45%
Pennsylvania: Kerry 47%, Bush 45%
Ohio: Bush 47%, Kerry 42%
Nevada: Bush 48%, Kerry 44%
New Mexico: Bush 49%, Kerry 44%
Minnesota: Bush 45%, Kerry 46%
Michigan: Kerry 52%, Bush 42%
Iowa: Bush 47%, Kerry 45%
Florida: Bush 49%, Kerry 46%

UPDATE: Bill at INDC Journal is not having any let down, (thank you!), he's got a round-up of the blogosphere reaction to the Kerry Lies on meeting with Security Council members, or perhaps it's all the UN members that are lying? http://www.indcjournal.com/archives/001201.php

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Weekend Ramblings

Two of the kids were home for the weekend, would have had to break arms to get on the computer and that's too expensive. Daughter came in to sing at a friend's wedding. Youngest came home to visit, (mostly his girlfriend), and to get his larder and phone card re-supplied. The daughter returned to school yesterday and the boy is going back at noon. Unfortuately for writing, have to do lesson plans, modifications, and my own school work. Probably should pay a couple of bills too, to keep the wolves from the door.

Seems the Guardian has been up to more nonsense, http://www.guardian.co.uk/theguide/columnists/story/0,,1333748,00.html . I did manage to get off an email to them yesterday, while showers were being taken. The upside to their interference, more votes for GW. Thanks Guardian! (HT: INDC Journal), http://www.indcjournal.com/archives/001196.php

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