Sunday, October 31, 2004

So don't close your eyes, and don't try to hide

Okay. Let's not talk about the election today. I'm tired and nervous and anxious over it, but there'll be plenty of time to enjoy all those things on Tuesday. I love Halloween. Always have. As a kid, I always did something particularly geeky with it, too. At 7 I was an TNG early-style-uniformed redshirt. At 8 I built a costume with a stage blood-squirting squib in a visible wound, with a rubber knife half-buried in my back. (Sadly, no one actually got it, unless I turned to one side to show them the knife.) At 10 I dressed as the Phantom of the Opera. (With Lon Chaney-style mask, thankyouverymuch, not Andrew Lloyd Webber.) At 11 I was some sort of singing detective, if I recall correctly, though entirely unaware of the film of the same name. At 13 I borrowed my dad's broom, wore a faceless mask with the appropriate gear, and went out as the Phantom Curler. These are the loonball works of someone more dedicated than many to the concept. On the other hand, I've also always had a decidedly ambiguous relationship with its component parts of Halloween in the modern context - that is, the horror genre. I'm a huge coward when it comes to freaky-looking things popping up out of nowhere, which makes it somewhere between uncomfortable to outright agonizing to watch horror movies, or to participate in anything Halloweenish of the haunted house-walkthrough variety. Yet, I'm fascinated. I can hardy bear to keep my eyes open for exactly one-third of the ride (the attic through the graveyard) of any iteration of the Haunted Mansion at Disney parks, but I have an encyclopedic knowledge of all four versions and the differences between them. It's not what anything actually looks like, not actually the gross-out factor or the inherent calculation of fear of the concept; it's the element of surprise. Last year, I took a course in the Music department, entirely devoted to the casual appreciation of film scores. It required no prior musical knowledge, nor were many of the technical aspects taught at all; it was largely an exercise in description and analysis of personal perception. For the term paper, I thought it would be neat to compare the 1978 version of Dawn of the Dead - which I've always liked, not least for the surreal electronic score - with the then-just-released remake. One thing that really struck me with a direct comparison was how much more sedate zombie movies were twenty years ago. The camera angles, the timing, the lighting - none of it was executed in a way that was viscerally frightening, but contributed to creating a real sense of existential dread. The world as we know it is gone, only the dead and the straggling packs of survivors are left. The zombies were slow, and pale, and more or less whole. With the comparison of the remake to analyse counterpart scenes in the score, I couldn't stand to watch much of the film. It's all close-ups, and vicious, lightning-quick zombies; that's just too much for me. Dealing with shock is not my forte. The trend in horror movies, such as I've been able to casually analyze as well as extrapolate from these two, has been towards 'cheap trick' filmmaking. Restrict the POV, abuse stingers in the score to endlessly keep foreshadowing the next pop-up monster, and light scenes as poorly as possible. So where does this leave me? I enjoy the subject matter; I do have that repressed Goth streak in me. The market, however, has decided to create only for those who demand Action Horror, that brand of the genre that aims only for the gut reaction and ignores a more distanced, less involved approach. I think the world could use a few more good H.P. Lovecraft adaptations.

Friday, October 29, 2004

Don't you threaten me, son; you got a lot of gall

Wow, my first genuine piece of hate mail. Now I really feel like I've arrived. Return-Path: Received: from hotmail.com (bay8-f116.bay8.hotmail.com [64.4.27.116]) by in2.magma.ca (Magma's Mail Server) with ESMTP id i9TH92sg027571 for ; Fri, 29 Oct 2004 13:09:26 -0400 Received: from mail pickup service by hotmail.com with Microsoft SMTPSVC; Fri, 29 Oct 2004 10:09:00 -0700 Received: from 198.165.38.76 by by8fd.bay8.hotmail.msn.com with HTTP; Fri, 29 Oct 2004 17:08:48 GMT X-Originating-IP: [198.165.38.76] X-Originating-Email: [buddy_luh@hotmail.com] X-Sender: buddy_luh@hotmail.com From: "m saan" To: pdenton@magma.ca Subject: Gimme your passport - and your lunch money! Date: Fri, 29 Oct 2004 14:38:48 -0230 Mime-Version: 1.0 Content-Type: text/html Message-ID: X-OriginalArrivalTime: 29 Oct 2004 17:09:00.0923 (UTC) FILETIME=[FC27B4B0:01C4BDD9] Buddy, Proceed directly to the nearest Canadian Consulate and hand in your passport, you pathetic whining pussy of a human being. Give me your address in Ottawa so the next time I'm there I can roll you for your lunch money. Self -Loathing? That's about the only correct thing you've done with your blogspot. You know what I really, really hate? Self-Loathing Canadians waving US flags.... I'm truly suprised you can walk the streets under the light of day, I can only hope you are never fortunate to reproduce - what a huge waste of skin you are. Awww, you people say the sweetest things.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

As long as they pronounce it properly

Only 85% of the French favour Kerry over Bush? That can't be a good sign. Shouldn't it be somewhere up in the 96-98% range? What has he done to offend our beloved ally? We want answers, Mr. Senator! (Via Tim Blair.)

If you'll get this through that normal Neanderthal skull

Teresa Heinz-Kerry: "The perpetration of certain myths that diplomacy and alliances are a sign of weakness is Neanderthal," Heinz Kerry said. "I never heard of teaching a child to make enemies so they can get along in the playground." Huh. I never heard of imagining that genocidal dictators, megalomaniacal madmen, and plain old murderous thugs are really just childlike innocents that we could easily make friends with, if not for eeeevil warmongering foreign policy on our part, but I guess I'm just not as sophisticated as the Kerry family. (Via Drudge.)

Can you see me? Can't you see me?

Here's a howler from an expert quoted by the WaPo on GeorgeWBush.com being inaccessible overseas: "I've never heard of a site wholesale blocking access from the rest of the world," said Johannes Ullrich, chief technology officer for the SANS Internet Storm Center, which monitors hacker trends. "I guess they decided it just wasn't worth the trouble to leave it open to foreign visitors." Oh, really? I guess it doesn't count if it provides a counterexample, then. Both sites have good reason to block access; Showtime for legal reasons, as they only have the rights to show clips of their programs to American audiences, and the Bush campaign site as a means of proactive defence against attack. The cost, that expat absentee voters won't be able to see the site, was apparently calculated to be less damaging than domestic voters being unable to access it due to foreign DDOS attacks. It's not rocket science, just a simple cost-benefit calculation.

He’s even got a twin like me

CNN is hyperventilating over the fact (easily noticed, too - come on, man, get some better graphics guys) that the latest Bush campaign ad, "Whatever It Takes," has one photoshopped background; several soldiers appear multiple times in the clone tool-stamped crowd. Still, it's one shot, out of several cuts between obviously edited-down and processed footage. And it's assembled from multiple occasions and events in the first place. So what does CNN do? They turn to professional DNC hitwoman Donna Brazile, who, in a quite self-satisfied manner, concludes that every Bush ad is full of "bogus content." The only right thing to do is pull them, wear sackcloth and ashes, go about self-flagellating for the next four days, etc etc etc. Now, I'll agree that it was mildly stupid to visibly doctor photos for an ad. But that's a stylistic issue, not one of content. It doesn't change the fact that large crowds of soldiers did repeatedly and respectfully appreciate the president's speeches to them. It doesn't change the content of the ad, nor the remarkably powerful closer: I will never relent in defending America, whatever it takes. D'ye think maybe that's what has Donna Brazile upset?

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Here's the story on the genocidal overlord

The first of my term papers is due next Thursday, the one on Leni Riefenstahl. In reviewing my third draft, the prof pointed out that I need to devote more space to the counterargument - that is, that Riefenstahl really was just a naive young directrix, wholly devoted to artistic form, and more or less oblivious to the aims of her backers of the content they demanded. The most credible of the Riefenstahl defenders - those not actually neo-Nazis or clueless Eurotrash style junkies - is David B. Hinton, with his book The Films of Leni Riefenstahl. The U of O library has one copy. It's checked out, and now two weeks overdue. My last recourse, then, was to buy a copy. Unfortunately, Chapters doesn't usually stock it; I was forced to order it. However - and this is sort of odd - ordering online carries a standard shipping fee. Ordering through a store, yet still having it delivered by parcel post in the exact same way, doesn't. I don't get it. What magic does calling up the store, and having the floor associate on the other end do the typing in of shipping information, invoke?

Colablogging Redux

Pepsi, in a characteristically oddball gamble, is introducing a limited-time-offer "Holiday Spice" flavour. On first glance, that sounds awful. (Pumpkin Pie Soda, anyone?) However, cola is already what's called a 'fantasia' flavour, and does typically contain essences of vanilla and cinnamon in addition to citrus oils, albeit in minute amounts. But most spiced drinks are served warm; will this compare favourably with mulled cider or hot buttered rum? Can it possibly replace them in the holiday pantry? I'll try it, I guess. It might just improve on Vanilla Coke, and it can't be worse than Dr Pepper. (Via Fark.)

Get down and study suspicion and doubt

"New Study Finds Media Favored Kerry in First Two Weeks of October." To lift a meme from James Taranto, what would we do without studies? (Via Drudge.)

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Truth, Justice, and a Hard-Boiled Egg

This is unsourced Drudge, so caveat lector, but if true it's a mind-bogglingly stupid ad concept: KERRY/EDWARDS CAMPAIGN PREPARING CAMPAIGN AD ON MISSING EXPLOSIVES **Exclusive** :30 spot called "obligation" JOHN KERRY: "The obligation of a Commander in Chief is to keep our country safe. In Iraq, George Bush has overextended our troops..." JOHN KERRY: "...and now failed to secure 380 tons of deadly explosives." JOHN KERRY: "The kind used for attacks in Iraq, and for terrorist bombings." JOHN KERRY: "His Iraq misjudgments put our soldiers at risk, and make our country less secure. And all he offers is more of the same. As President, I'll bring a fresh start to protect our troops and our nation. I'm John Kerry and I approved this message. Um. Did KE04 not get the memo about that particular claim? For supposedly being the messiah of the "reality-based community," Kerry is winning himself no medals for plain old awareness of objective facts, let alone understanding of their meaning. Nor, for that matter, is the increasingly shrill and jaw-droppingly nasty behaviour of the mainstream media of late, not least CBS News. To quote Brian Tiemann: This isn't even about typewriter fonts and thin wheedling excuses that certain kinds of Word documents might possibly, given the right alignment of planets and a National Guard officer with a sufficiently insane high-end typography hobby, have been produced in 1970, an argument that could just peter out over the course of weeks and fall out of the public consciousness as they got lost in details of kerning and superscripts. No... this is about an easily verifiable story that they are baldfacedly lying about with the explicit purpose of influencing the election. The difference between this and, say, claiming on Halloween evening that Bush was never in fact the governor of Texas and instead spent those years drinking rum in Tahiti while an inflatable version of himself received fellatio in the Texas State House is now reduced to mere vocabulary. No matter who wins, what are we going to be left with after the election? If it's Bush, what are the editors and reporters and columnists going to do? Are they so depraved they can simply lie through their teeth for another four years, saying and doing whatever it takes to demonize him for all time? If it's Kerry, will they drop him too, if he fails to praise and acknowledge their explicit support? Will they really try to pretend their vaunted impartiality never suffered any damage from this election cycle? Do the grubby whores the media have become really think they can come back home, put on a nice dress and sensible shoes, and that everything will return to the way it was, as if it was possible to recapture some imagined sepia-toned golden age of respectability? There is no such thing as absolutely objective journalism. It's been years since I even half-heartedly believed there was. In an ideal world, children would realize that fact around the same time as discovering Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny are similarly creatures of make-believe. But the lies of this year - not to mention the half-truths and gorilla dust on the periphery between honest reporting and partisan hackery - reach lows not seen in a century or more. American politics, like those everywhere, have always been nasty; but for the latter half of the mass media era, there's been at least a polite compromise between opinion and fact. Journalists have forgetten why that modicum of civility and honesty existed in the first place: for benefit of their own credibility. They've come to expect that simply being a member of that exalted elite known as The Media automatically gives their pronouncements ironclad credibility. Not just anyone is allowed to be one of the holy acolytes of Cosmic Truth, y'know. But now, they can and are. So what will be left of the MSM? I don't know. I have the horrible feeling we're going to see several years more of Pravda-like behaviour from them - and eventually the average reader, not just we suspicious bastards in the amateur punditry game, is going to be reading between the lines of every story. Even the weather forecast. It'll come to a head soon enough. Perhaps there'll be a catastrophic collapse; perhaps it'll be a slow process of rebuilding credibility from within. I fear this election cycle is only going to be the first spasm in the death throes, however. Either way, this is not going to end well. UPDATE: The ad is true, and out. That was quick. Kerry is now speaking, personally, to the American people, and lying with a straight face. He's not doing it through surrogates or anonymous staffers or a faceless voiceover artist. Being honestly mistaken from a preponderance of evidence is one thing; I've forgiven the administration for the lack of WMDs in Iraq, because all evidence and all commentators suggested they were there - and that was never the most important reason for the invasion in the first place. This, however, is just...awful. What Kerry is saying is a flat-out lie, and he has no excuse for not knowing this by now. I hope this backfires. Kerry deserves to have this backfire on him. This kind of damn-the-torpedoes opportunism needs to be punished.

Monday, October 25, 2004

I must let my vision guide me; I'm so weary of the fight

I was momentarily upset by the news that Joss Whedon wants out of TV...right up until I remembered two things: First, it's not as though he's capable of keeping a show on the air any more, no matter how well-written. S5 of Angel approached utter brilliance in the way it managed to portray a mature, fully-developed fictional world; it was still thrown to the wolves. I'm slightly sorry I even watched Firefly at all, knowing that it'll only continue with (as yet) a single feature film. Whedon, sadly, doesn't seem to be the kind of guy who can pull any weight with networks. Which brings me to the second reason, what he's sublimated his influence into: Obnoxiously shilling for Kerry. I didn't want to know that. I mean, it's a step up from supporting Wes Clark, I'll grant, but not by much. Write, damn you. Direct. Produce. Create something I'll watch, because I will watch it. But just shut up about politics, please? It saps my latent goodwill, and without new Buffy or Angel, that's in danger of being depleted entirely.

The modern game was born, with much success

Woo! The following just arrived in my inbox, from the Ottawa International Animation Festival mailing list - which I'm still on from volunteering: This year's festival was a huge success. We had over 1200 industry passholders, and 115 screenings and events. The inaugural Television Animation Conference completely sold-out. The Ottawa International Animation Festival is now an annual event with our next festival running from September 21 to 25, 2005. The popular Student version of the festival (SAFO) that usually runs in our off-year will now be incorporated into the main festival. The Television Animation Conference will be returning along with the picnic and all the other components of the OIAF. Spiffy. I can plan better to volunteer for/attend next year, and it'll even actually be the full industry festival rather than the student one. What I'd like to know: How'd the situation go from "after federal funding cuts, this may be the last one" to "full-scale festival/industry conference every year?" Perhaps the TAC was more profitable to run than it seemed from the actual number of attendees in that sold-out room...

Pots and pans, metal cans, bought or traded or sold

The Ottawa Citizen, for some reason, has endorsed the notion of a deposit on recyclable cans. As I've mentioned in the past, I drink a lot of Pepsi. (A lot of Pepsi. Diet Pepsi, to be precise; I tend to go through two to three cases per month.) I live in an apartment building, and I recycle my cans, because it's convenient. All I have to do is leave them in the blue box in the garbage room. That makes the actual conclusion of the provincial report and the thrust of the editorial skew, from my perspective, maddeningly apart: Environment Minister Leona Dombrowsky says her ministry is focused on improving collection rates from large facilities -- commercial buildings and apartments and so on -- and getting small municipalities to run good blue-box programs. But she acknowledges that a deposit-return system is on her list of things to look at. Deposits encourage returns insofar as it is convenient to do so. I have no car; carrying the large quantities of empty cans I generate the several blocks back to Hartman's, the closest grocery store, would be greatly inconvenient for me. Why should I be punished with a five-cent-per-can surcharge because I can't easily participate in the state's negative-reinforcement behaviour experiment? If a deposit on cans was enacted in Ontario, I wouldn't even bother with placing them in the correct box here in my building; I'd throw them in the garbage, out of spite. If it's not inconvenient, I'll recycle. I don't mind that. I do resent social engineering, because it can only lead to folly - folly such as this: My dad, before he retired, spent the last fifteen years of his teaching career running the local high school's canoeing club. They would usually go on two camping trips each school year, rotating between the Noir and Madawaska Rivers. Large-scale trips of twenty to thirty people like that cost money - not just for food and supplies, but to wholly fund independently buying canoes and gear. The club would, therefore, engage in several fundraising events throughout the year. The most successful was their rummage sale, held in the school auditorium; it became a local institution, with many around town relying on their eagerness for donations to annually haul away anything big, heavy, and worth a few bucks. The least successful was collecting cans for the scrap metal value. The above photo represents two years' work in collecting, bagging, and hauling cans from the high school itself, as well as contributions from homes of club members. The value of all those cans? $500. That, to me, seems like a fairly ludicrous means of raising money. If every member of the club worked a minimum-wage job, it would have taken them about three hours apiece to make the same amount. Yet no one thought to raise this concern; recycling is good, doncha know. The cult of environmentalism continues to induce otherwise-rational people to do strange things, and government shouldn't be imposing the tithe of a can deposit to support their lunatic gospels.

I see bad things arising

Sweet Zombie Jesus. Is this a threat from Elizabeth Edwards? EDWARDS WIFE: NO RIOTS IF WE WIN The wife of Dem vice presidential hopeful John Edwards said on Sunday there will be no riots around the election -- if Kerry/Edwards wins! C-SPAN cameras captured spouse Elizabeth Edwards making the startling comments to a supporter during a Kerry Campaign Town Hall Meeting in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Supporter: Kerry's going to take PA. Liz Edwards: I know that. Supporter: I'm just worried there's going to be riots afterwards. Liz Edwards: Uh.....well...not if we win. Imagine the outcry if Lynne Cheney not-too-subtly hinted that Republicans were ready and willing to form a violent mob in event of a Kerry victory. I'm getting nervous now. It's probably a good thing there's only nine days to go.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

But what that mouse is selling, the whole world buys; and nobody smells a rat

Right now, some do-whatever-it-takes Democratic operative, somewhere, is anxiously agitating to make certain disembodied rat neurons aren't "disenfranchised." (Via Instapundit.)

Friday, October 22, 2004

To wish and wait from day to day will never keep the wolves away

To whomever put together this, the most stunningly effective yet understated negative ad this campaign, I salute you. (I wouldn't have minded a little bit more of "There is a bear in the woods," but I suppose wholesale, direct copying of that 1984 triumph wouldn't have been kosher.) (Via Instapundit.)

The cries in the dark that nobody hears

Here's something to induce a spit-take on picking the newspaper off the stoop: Martin planned to scrap Health Act, join Iraq war Copps: - Alleges Liberal leadership won through 'widespread organized fraud' - Says ex-finance minister wanted CBC privatized; end to old age pensions - Prime Minister's Office dismisses former MP's 'incorrect recollections' If any of this was true - and he'd managed to pull it off - it would make Paul Martin a hero, in my mind. If he abandoned radical reform of a seriously ill political culture for reasons of personal expediency in his rise within the Liberal Party, well, it's all the more insulting to be informed of this by Sheila frigging Copps. If I hadn't already mostly given up on Canada, this would be an incredibly depressing line of speculation; as things currently stand, how can anyone expect any different?

But you're not into making choices

Half-assed is as half-assed does: 1. How much did these new commemorative quarters cost to produce and distribute, including the advertising campaign? 2. How many veterans would have felt far more honoured by that money going towards functional, modern equipment for the Canadian military?

Thursday, October 21, 2004

I know we'll catch that villain

Teletoon's picked up one of the few remaining iterations of Scooby-Doo I haven't seen. It's horrid. It's making me miss when they ran The Thirteen Ghosts of Scooby-Doo for two years or so. As awful as it was, at least that had Vincent Price. Really, though, the one version I've always had a soft spot for is A Pup Named Scooby-Doo. It was the perfect storm of several godawful trends in late-80s Saturday morning cartoons: turning existing characters into children, using a mall as a primary setting, and utterly destroying any residual quality control in the animation process. It actually wasn't half bad at subverting the repetitively silly tropes of the original, but that's mostly due to having been written by 90s WB Animation wunderkind Tom Ruegger. Why couldn't Teletoon have bought that for their Halloween lineup? It can't be that much more expensive to syndicate.

Why can't they be like we were, perfect in every way

This polling of high school students, of course, would be the flip side to the polling of children I was complaining about yesterday, if perhaps a bit less frivolous in that the sample group is only a few years away from voting, rather than five to ten. I don't think it necessarily means anything right now, but regardless of this year's results, it's probably a good harbinger for 2008 and 2012, as that age cohort reaches the peak of their influence. On the other hand, in the metanarrative, consider that the Nickelodeon poll got the AP's attention and propagated quickly; this story is reduced to being fed off a couple of press release newswires. What Liberal Media? Oh, right... (Via LGF.)

Hello and goodbye, I've just unemployed you

Damian Penny wonders what the reaction of Republicans would be to Bush winning the popular vote, but losing the electoral college. I can't speak for anyone else, but I'd accept such a result without complaint; that's the way the system works. To support a long-established set of rules only when it helps your guy is the height of partisan hackery. On that note, I'd almost like to see such a thing happen, just to find out how the liberal commentatariat would manage to rationalize the acceptability of a result they've been calling illegitimate for the past four years. Even the most shrilly anti-Bush would have to agonize over the rhetorical dishonesty of the double standard they'd love to argue. Will Al Franken and Maureen Dowd's heads explode? Tune in at 11 to find out.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

If you don't throw in your $1.05, who will?

Today I managed to get out to Wal-Mart in the south end between classes, and actually get those slippers I needed, among other things. While I was at South Keys, I figured it was probably a good time to take in Team America: World Police at the Cineplex Odeon there, being that I don't have another midterm until Monday morning. It was brilliant. I'm not sure if puppetry will ever again reach such an apogee. Minor thoughts I haven't seen others raise, yet:
  • I want that miniature set of Times Square. It's beautiful.
  • The brash glossing-over of scale issues between the puppets and real locations was a nice touch.
  • Ditto the reuse of the song "Montage" from South Park 6x02. It was too good to not give broader exposure, especially given the overarching satire of the action genre.
  • The opening number in Kim Jong-Il's musical tribute to himself at the peace conference sounds uncannily like "Dangerous Jade" from Evita.
I'm also increasingly intrigued by the Parker/Stone political codependency theory: The Left needs the Right to protect the country, and the Right needs the Left for moral justification. Both are essential for a strong foreign policy. We first saw this in the South Park episode "I'm a Little Bit Country;" it continues to be more clever and insightful than one might expect. It's a good thing we've got the libertarian clowns in the middle to skewer both sides. All in all, a film eminently worth $10.

When the flag they fly is red

This week's Red Ensign Standard is up, with linky goodness to the ever-growing number of cheerfully snarky/iconoclastic Canbloggers. I really need to start being aware of that on a more regular basis.

Laughing singing, dancing grinning, morons (And while we're on the subject)

Ignorant tweens favour Kerry by a landslide: "Kids aren't dumb, they're just younger and shorter," [Ellerbee] said. "In fact, last election, a boy came up to me and said, 'We picked George Bush (news - web sites) to win, and he didn't really win. Al Gore (news - web sites) won the popular vote, so we were kinda wrong.' Quite an observation." So many Democrats, it seems, understand the Electoral College and its relation to the popular vote exactly as well as young children? That really reflects better on the children than the party wonks and professional corps of the outraged, y'know, if not by much. This entire exercise that Nickelodeon has gone through also seems more than a bit offensive. Kids, in this sort of poll, are the epitome of uninformed voters. Children aren't difficult to convince of anything. Not having siblings of my own, I had no younger brothers or sisters to be horrible to when younger, but I remember at one point a friend and I convinced his eight-year-old brother that the Prussian Army was coming, by submarine, to get him. One might notice this argument doesn't make a great deal of sense - but, then, it doesn't have to. It's just as easy to convince a child that the environment is good, mmmkay as it is to plant in his mind the idea that Otto von Bismarck wants to impale him upon a pickelhaube. Silly emotional rhetoric makes brainwashing children all too easy, and efforts to do so are widespread. Having been taught the generic ideals of be nice, make friends and talk about your feelings, I'm not surprised - to the extent that they understood his platform at all - that kids chose Kerry. It's probably pretty random a choice for them, at that. I recall, in 1992, rooting for Bill Clinton; not for any real reason, but just because he seemed like a new and interesting person for news to concern. The actual political awareness of a nine-year-old is only puddle-deep in any event. (Via Drudge.)

Chic people, unique people, and freak people we quickly ditch

Look, if we're going to talk about what's a valid "real job" and what isn't, "ketchup heiress" is somewhere far, far below either teacher or homemaker. Is she consciously trying to offend middle America, now? Or is this laying another potential line of retreat; "The crazy wife, she's the reason Kerry lost?" Either way, I find her more and more fascinatingly repellent. I wonder how it's playing, as the saying goes, in Peoria. UPDATE: My, that was fast. Still, the damage has probably already been done.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

And just as Tom here has written, we say To Hell with Great Britain

Jimmy Carter thinks that Americans should have waited until the 1850s to peaceably gain quasi-independence: Had the British Parliament been a little more sensitive to the colonial’s really legitimate complaints and requests the war could have been avoided completely, and of course now we would have been a free country now as is Canada and India and Australia, having gotten our independence in a nonviolent way. As it happens, you goober, I just wrote an exam on precisely that period in British politics. I'm feeling crammed and just a bit sassy. The trend towards "Responsible Government" - where the "White Dominions" (i.e., those without large non-white populations) were granted limited representative self-government starting in the 1850s - was a direct response to the American Revolution. Without that experience to show that imperial control over a largely white, largely Christian population simply would not be tolerated for long by that population, the Revolution wouldn't have happened. Without the American Revolution occurring, neither would the French Revolution; without that, European nationalism and liberalism in the 19th century wouldn't have occurred; without that, the trend towards increased electoral democracy might have been a lot longer in coming. But I digress... That American colonists felt themselves as possessed of the traditional rights of Englishmen as their cousins still in Britain, and were being deprived thereof, was a primary cause of the Revolution. Even the ministries of the period sympathetic to the colonists' complaints - mostly those of the Marquess of Rockingham and his cohorts - didn't favour granting any sort of representative government. The reforms that granted Canada and Australia self-government wouldn't have come about without without that first shocking repudiation of holding empire over Europeans. Even assuming that granting self-government would have happened eventually without the American Revolution - and that's a big assumption - it wouldn't have happened all at once, or very early. Colonies might have been granted it on an individual basis. Carter's own Georgia had a black population equal to the white one until well into the 20th century; odds are that it would have been treated as the Cape Colonies (i.e., South Africa) or Bermuda, and not granted self-government until at least 1900. It's also significant to note that the British North America Act of 1867, which created Canada as a sovereign dominion, was another direct response to American action; in this case, to the Civil War. Joining the separate colonies, and establishing an efficient local government not forced to wait around on the Foreign Office's instructions, was seen as essential for their protection. Yes, the equation for determining suitability for self-government was precisely that racist and mercenary. Remember, too, that King George VI was still Emperor of India until 1947. Nonviolent gaining of independence wasn't at all quick. Nor was it always nonviolent, in Carter's examples; Australia saw the initial jump-starting of its independence from another violent revolt against British imperial authorities. So, Mr. Carter: What are you endorsing here, exactly? How long would you have had Americans living under tyranny to satisfy your lust for pacifism at any cost? How many racist republics would you have had existing well into the 20th century? What is wrong with you? (Via LGF.) UPDATE: The Monger goes to the trouble of footnoting.

England expects that every man will do his duty

Taking a break between frantically studying for midterms (18th-19th century Britain, tonight; Children's Lit and Early Modern Europe next week) I went out this morning to buy some slippers. Somehow neither of the nearby stores in my price range that I usually rely upon - Zellers or Big Bud's - had what I was looking for. Zellers had a small selection, true; but no matter how big of a SpongeBob fan I am, slippers from the kids' section just didn't seem large enough. Evidently I'm going to have to either make a mad dash out to one of the suburban Wal-Marts some time next week, or wait until The Bay and Sears receive the entirety of their cheap Christmas stock. I miss the Canadian Tire that used to be down the street; I know they'd have flimsy cotton slippers in for Christmas, if perhaps ones defaced with some team logo. Which is to say: I'm not dead. Just terribly, terribly busy, what with memorizing the accomplishments of Pitt the Younger and Earl Grey and such. Back eventually.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

But, Mr. Adams

This ABC piece on campaigning in swing states seems mostly fluff, but one line caught my eye: Introducing Kerry in Xenia, Ohio, laid-off worker Mike Adams pulled his empty pockets out of his jeans and angrily challenged assertions that Bush's tax cuts have benefited the middle class. "I'd like him to tell me where that money is now," Adams said. According to Google's phonebook search, there's no Mike Adams (nor Michael Adams or first-initial-only M. Adams) in Xenia, OH proper. There are, however, two hits for Mike Adams within twenty miles of Xenia. One's a party clown. The other is a contractor. Another local Mike Adams seems to be chair of Wright State University's Board of Trustees. Now, I'm not a professional reporter, and it's certainly possible and even likely that the Mike Adams quoted is none of these men, and came from far enough away to make searching by proximity to Xenia fruitless. But if he didn't: which of the Adamses can claim to have been laid off by fault of George Bush, pray tell?

Saturday, October 16, 2004

And we'll shoot every traitor and all out-of-towners

I had to work last night, through it, but I've started watching last night's Enterprise - and it's already started bothering me enough to pause, and blog thereon. First: Holy Crap, the faux-newsreel in the teaser is unnerving. In this version of WWII, changed by yet another variety of time-traveling aliens, Germany is winning - and has made it as far as Ohio, capturing most of the Eastern Seabord pretty thoroughly. It's technically well done. However, implications are made that the occupying Wehrmacht has set up a Vichy France-like American collaborationist government. The chief (and unnamed) collaborator? Um. Am I imagining things, or is that, as it appears to be, William Lyon Mackenzie King? Standing in the Peace Tower entrance to the Centre Block? The Gothic windows in the background are kind of a giveaway; it's so un-Federal Style it'd be hard to place in Washington at all. Given the rest of the alt-history background - Britain and the other Allies fell early - I can see that plot device working. However, it makes this perplexing: That map hangs inside the captured White House, where an angry, unnamed German general anguishes with his Vosk (?) ally over American defences in Ohio. Look at the map; what's missing? Canada is a complete blank. (So's Mexico, but it's not a one-day-drive away from occupied territory.) Any WWII-era invasion of North America from the Atlantic would have to involve taking at least parts of Canada, from a strategic standpoint, would it not? A Kriegsmarine flotilla sent down the St. Lawrence Seaway would neatly cut off the Maritimes and give an advanced landing position to march down to the Great Lakes. Alternately, if Canada is collaborating (i.e., the archive footage actually wasn't intended to portray a fictional American politician, but a historical Canadian one), why isn't it shown in allied yellow? Why is there no geographical or strategic data at all? Strategy doesn't stop at national borders. All this, and I'm only sixteen minutes into the second part of an execrable season premiere at this point. Try harder, Mr. Coto.

Friday, October 15, 2004

Eyes on the target, and wham

The Globe & Mail on Team America: World Police: While the movie leaves the illusion that it ridicules all sides equally, this is not the case. Just to recount the targets of ridicule here: anyone or anything that can be considered gay, and foreigners of any kind. By the conclusion, Hollywood liberals who criticize their government's foreign policy are gleefully decapitated, dismembered and demolished. Right-wing apologists, never mind George W. Bush and Donald Rumsfeld, are unscathed. Team America: World Police is too low-down and dirty to be endorsed by any political group, but there's little doubt where Parker and Stone's sympathies lie: The movie's just a little bit too America F--k Yeah! for comfort. I'm sorry, whiny Liberal establishment guy; are you trying to make me any more annoyed that I didn't have the time to see it on opening night?

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Charging fees as we please

Even in Ottawa, in the grip of a wrongheaded public service strike, the free market successfully fills a demand. Hee. Bite us, PSAC. (Via Fark.)

Humility, nobility, and a sense of honor; that is very rare, indeed

Heh. Despite the fact that one of his underlings started hyperventilating at the notion of the program airing at all, FCC Chairman Michael Powell admits it would be unconstitutional for the FCC to ban any TV station from showing the anti-Kerry documentary Stolen Honor. Chalk one up for free speech. (Via LGF.)

We wish - no, must - make our disgust with this abuse perfectly clear

Yikes. Just...yikes. This is why I just don't trust the Democratic Party as a whole, any more. (And I used to, even when disagreeing with many of their policies.) Calling shenanigans pre-emptively on every and any close race is just about the dirtiest of electoral dirty tricks, second only to Mobyish stunts. It's destroying the credibility of the process to score cheap points, and destabilize the opposing party in the event they win. Or even if they don't, for that matter. I firmly believe the post-mortem analysis will be, in the event of a big Bush win: "Just look at how much they cheated." For a close Bush win, it'll be "If we'd been able to stop just a bit more of their cheating, we'd have won." For a close Kerry win, it'll be "Aren't we great, we won despite how much they cheated." (I don't believe a Kerry landslide is anywhere near possible.) The DNC is going to allege dirty tricks everywhere, no matter the paucity of evidence, and for what? To rile up the base with another four years of "selected not elected" sniping. I am, of course, a political junkie, and a highly partisan one at that. But I believe the sanctity of the process is paramount; cheating to win an election is not only despicable on the face of it, but disrespectful to the representative political process and its entire history. Casual and unfounded accusations of cheating are as damaging to this, the culmination of (pick a number, any number - 250, 350, 500, 800) years of political progress, as the real thing. (Via VodkaPundit.) UPDATE: More on the pre-emptive "If we didn't win, it wasn't legitimate" strategy here, via Betsy Newmark.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Debate #3: Get It Done

Don't go comparing yourself to FDR, Senator. FDR's opponent in 1944 all but withdrew from the race, knowing that firm leadership in the war was more important than partisan politics. You're not FDR in this equation. You're Wendell Willkie. "To be safer forever?" Kerry is campaigning on the magic realism ticket now. He can promise to be safer forever in the same way that John Edwards can claim to heal the lame - improbably at best and absolutely goddamn insanely at worst. Bush's closing statement is similarly bland, right up until the end, when he gets to his liberty-on-the-march talking points. I think they're more upbeat than the alternative. Well. That was pretty good. Somewhat dull on the balance, as domestic debates usually are, but I think the spin is going to be that it was a tie - which means Bush won. He came across as mostly passionate, humble and self-effacing, if more wonkishly quoting numbers than he's usually good at.

Debate #3: Of Ketchup Heiresses and Kings

Heh. On the final, softball question - what's the most important thing you've learned from your wife - Bush shows real charm and humour. He's drawing laughs from the instructed-to-be-silent audience, which is promising. On the other hand, Kerry just got an ever bigger laugh from admitting he married up - waaaaay up - in Teresa. Changing the subject to his dying mother is something of a sudden downer, though. Is this the same woman who taught him "trees are the cathedrals of nature?"

Debate #3: Polarization

How would the Junior Senator resolve the current state of political polarization? He's praising Bush's leadership after 9/11, but claims Bush is also responsible for the ideological division of the entire country. He's not the angry, insulting one, Mr. Kerry. Your allies on the left are. We've disposed of the most embarassing conservatives like Pat Buchanan; what's your excuse? It was perhaps a mistake for Kerry to bring up John McCain, as Bush can point out that, y'know, McCain isn't supporting the Democrat.

Debate #3: Guns and Porkbarrels

Kerry seems to be describing an illegal AK-47 acquired before the Assault Weapon Ban expired. Doesn't that kind of defeat his point about "making law enforcement less safe?" ...If Congress didn't agree with President Kerry, he'd take them out to the country and beat them, a la Deliverance? Wow. He really is angling for the hardcore redneck vote. On affirmative action, Bush returns to his education platform. Good, not great. Kerry was so dull I've forgotten what he said, two minutes on.

Debate #3: Abortion and Casualties

"Would you like to overturn Roe v. Wade?" Jeebus. As if we needed any more proof that this is a hostile moderator. Abortion is a constitutional right? Really? And here I was under the impression that it was legal through precedent and the lack of positive law forbidding it. To be fair, I'm not expert on the subject. I fail to understand Kerry's plan to remove pressure on the National Guard and Reserves by upping Special Forces numbers. Wasn't Reagan the one always condemned by the snarky-left for imagining war as being able to be fought solely in the Rambo vein? "The best way to remove pressure on our forces is to suceed in Iraq." Bingo bango, you're done, Senator. The entirety of his talking points on military funding come down to compensating for failure rather than carefully planning for success. ...Oh my. I take back my accusation of bias on the moderator's part. He let Bush end a piece on the best possible ridicule of Kerry's "Global Test" line, referring to his vote against the first and much-more-globally-popular Gulf War.

Debate #3: Run for the Border

Illegal immigration is a possible threat, admittedly. But the reality is that it's almost impossible to stop, without benefit of harsh and monstrously expensive borders. A guest worker program is probably, as ever, the best of bad situation on the economic side. It doesn't solve the security problem, however. "We have iris identification technology." Is Kerry proposing we take retina-scans of every Mexican crossing the border?

Debate #3: Stop touching the third rail! There's blood everywhere!

Social Security is going to collapse eventually. That is not going to change, no matter who is elected. All that can be done is to make the transition out of it as painless as possible. Partial privatization on a transitional basis seems like the best of several bad options. ...And thank you, CBS-guy; Alan Greenspan makes the same point. It's living in denial to say, flat-out, you will always get Social Security benefits. Bush has an uncanny ability to cut through Kerry's windy, mumbling rhetoric with very simple, concise, and compelling rhetoric of his own. He also has very sharp explanations, I believe. Is it my imagination, or does the moderator keep bringing up a new issue each time Bush starts to run rings around Kerry?

Debate #3: Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Health Care

Ouch. The first Bush stumble is on health care. That's not healthy. He's having to pause and think, somewhat as in the first debate (though not nearly as painful). I've said it before, and I'll say it again - importing cheap drugs from Canada is an illusory solution. It's like the Populist drive to move from a gold to silver standard; it's a magic bullet, which no one can explain the actual working mechanism thereof. MEGO, as ever, on copays and HMOs and the like. "Aw, never mind?" Where was Bush going with that, anyway? I don't quite understand how Kerry plans to give everyone Blue Cross/Blue Shield coverage if it's not government-administrated. Isn't that a private consortium of insurers? Would not compelling them to sell coverage at a flat rate to every American amount to nationalizing it? I don't get it.

Debate #3: Choose Wisely

"Is homosexuality a choice?" Bush knocks one out of the park, such as he can, here - he doesn't know, but let's respect each other. Says Alwyn via IM, "That was a fucking fantastic answer, for a person I completely disagree with." Kerry, on the other hand, is off on a tangent about how we're all God's creatures (even that poor Mary Cheney, her family's so embarassed, doncha know, oh yes). It was reasonable, yes, but dull as hell; I suspect Bush actually managed to win this round, and I wouldn't have bet on that, ever. On abortion and Catholicism, Kerry pulls a pretty good straddle, one that I think Catholic Democrats will be able to respect. He's not evangelical about his faith, such as it. I don't see the partial-birth abortion ban as particularly noteworthy. Symbolic, yes, but not practically noteworthy in a day-to-day way. Bush is otherwise solid, explaining why he'd prefer to avoid abortion. Perhaps a bit weak, maybe; I'm not sure.

Debate #3: Woke Up This Morning

Kerry just cited The Sopranos and Law & Order, sorta. Is that not the strangest and most pointless plug/shout-out ever? (The additional sweetness comes in the fact that this debate is, in fact, pre-empting L&O. Way to remind the fans what you've forced off the air for a week, Senator.) "Senator, no one's playing with your vote." Burn.

Debate #3: Pay As You Go

Wasn't the trend towards fiscal responsibility in Congress pushed after the Republican Revolution of 1994? Kerry is right to call Bush on irresponsible spending, but again he improbably associates himself with Republicans, just as in last week's bizarre endorsement of Reagan. Kerry seems to be floundering, and badly, here. He's been reduced to cobbling together random bits of sound bites as non-answers. Bush, surprisingly, is showing a lot of insight and creativity in his answers. (Or at least enough variation in talking points to simulate the appearance thereof.) Also remarkable is Bush's confident and upbeat demeanour here. He seems as coherent as with a canned speech, which is unusual for him. If this was a planned sucker-punch over the course of all three debates, wow, Karl Rove is a genius.

Debate #3: La Grippe

Interesting. Bush's response to the shortage of flu vaccine is probably an okay response to a bad situation, but also gives more hope to Canadian pharmaceutical giants than I'd like. Enh. "I haven't gotten a flu shot and I don't intend to." Um, yay for setting an example, but you're somewhat important, y'know? Do we need a president put out-of-commission by a random cold? Kerry's response assumes that under a socialized health care system, there'd be no shortage of essential drugs - something we had experience with here quite to the contrary in early 2002.

Debate #3: Does anyone even study history any more?

A world "as safe and secure as the one we grew up in?" Wasn't there some kind of Cold War going on when both candidates were growing up that was only won by the early 90s? I was about to say that this first question came down to a draw of boilerplate, after thirty seconds of Bush, but then he dropped the Afghan Election bomb. Thank you. This is presenting very clearly just how narrow and closed-minded Kerry's view of realpolitik is. Ouch. Kerry's rebuttal is repeating the outsourced-to-warlords line? Weak, dude.

Debate #3: No Pressure

By everything that is good and holy, Mr. Bush, do not fuck this up. Seriously. Also, what's with the CBS presenter as moderator? Haven't we thoroughly discredited them now?

Debate #3: It's so difficult to concentrate

I considered skipping the liveblogging of Debate #3, mainly because I'm just exhausted; I've spent the last day and a half finishing a solid 14-page rough draft of a term paper on Leni Riefenstahl and Triumph of the Will that isn't actually due until two days after the election. (But I do, unfortunately, have at least one midterm or paper due each week between now and December, so it's not as if that kind of stress is going to end any time soon.) I can suck it up; I owe it to myself, if not my tiny handful of readers, to pay attention. This is, after all, important. One minor amusement I'll note is from today's Globe & Mail TV column, where a slightly breathless Andrew Ryan snarks it up (about two paragraphs after the subscriber-only cutoff, sadly) about tonight's debate being at the far more reasonable time of 7pm Eastern Time. Really, Mr. Ryan? That's interesting, considering the evidence to the contrary. Maybe he saw CNN's bumpers for "Special Debate Night Coverage, starting at 7!" and extrapolated a bit too much? It wouldn't be a first for the Globe.

This is easy to believe, when distant places call to me

CNN is airing a short piece on terrorists with Canadian citizenship. That's an old topic, though still a valid one; however, my complaint here is with their production techniques. The talking head in question is standing in front of the Toronto Harbourfront for an establishing shot, seconds before cutting to a shot of what appears to be the flagpole on the entrance to the Wilfrid Laurier Building - i.e., a five minute walk away from where I'm sitting right now, here in Ottawa. At the conclusion, there's a shot panning from the East Block down to the river, filmed from the Plaza Bridge - again, right here, at the foot of Elgin St. at Wellington - before cutting back to the Toronto skyline. Please, CNN. I want you, and any other media outlet who cares to, to find lax Canadian border security and immigration laws enough of a threat to cause American resentment and outrage. I would love for that to happen. But shoddy editing doesn't make you look particularly credible on the subject. Contrary to popular belief, Toronto is not where that sort of policy is made.

The vultures have a hunch; Not everyone invited will be coming back for lunch

Okay, I'm now officially bullish on Father of the Pride. Last night's episode seemed to fire on all cylinders, to a much greater extent than previous one; the blend of dom-com with utterly bizarre characterization works better than I'd thought. Or maybe the writers just needed half a season to get going, which is fine; the first season and a half of The Simpsons was pretty dreadful. A show has to survive long enough to get to that magical place, however, where the fans can argue about whether the middle years were better than recent episodes, before it can start making designs on that blessed position. It's sad but true that almost all genre animation - that not created specifically for a kid-targeted syndication market - never gets a second chance. The Critic, Mission Hill, Clone High, The Oblongs - all were fantastic to some degree, and all sadly now limited to their short initial runs. Primetime animation is a brutally competitive market. My only complaint was John DiMaggio's voice work as the belligerent gazelle; he was Bendering it up to an uncomfortable extent, which only reminded me how much I'd rather have Futurama than Father of the Pride. It's still a mediocre show in some respects, yes - but I would now at least prefer it was renewed. That's a point it didn't have before.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Willin' for the shillin'

Drudge has a statement from FCC Commissioner Michael J. Copps on Sinclair Broadcasting's plan to air the anti-Kerry documentary Stolen Honor: Commissioner Michael J. Copps reacted to reports that Sinclair Broadcast Group will preempt more than 60 local stations across the country to air an overtly political program in the days prior to the Presidential election. Copps stated: “This is an abuse of the public trust. And it is proof positive of media consolidation run amok when one owner can use the public airwaves to blanket the country with its political ideology -- whether liberal or conservative." I don't recall any righteous indignation from the FCC for the previous four years of co-ordinated Bush-bashing coming from the news operations of CBS, ABC, NBC, CNN et alia, but surely that's just a strange coincidence, right? "Some will undoubtedly question if this is appropriate stewardship of the public airwaves. This is the same corporation that refused to air Nightline’s reading of our war dead in Iraq. It is the same corporation that short-shrifts local communities and local jobs by distance-casting news and weather from hundreds of miles away." Note which of Sinclair's two 'offenses' takes priority in his mind - not the arguably valid complaint of cutting local news coverage for small, regional stations, but refusing to carry a show that was, at heart, a forty-minute-long morale-sapping propaganda gift for the enemy. "It is a sad fact that the explicit public interest protections we once had to ensure balance continue to be weakened by the Federal Communications Commission while it allows media conglomerates to get even bigger. Sinclair, and the FCC, are taking us down a dangerous road." Hmmm. Well, he's an FCC Commissioner, right? This must be the final word on the subject. Except...not. Drudge didn't give the context, and I'm sure no media outlet picking up these comments (Where were they made? To whom? Just in a media scrum, or did he hold some sort of press conference?) will either, but he appears to have made these statements in his capacity as a private citizen; if they were part of an official FCC press releases, I suspect there might be some mention of it on their site. As of right now, I see no such press release for today - only notices of coma-inducingly-dull meetings on broadband infrastructure regulation. And who is Michael J. Copps, anyway? Copps served until January 2001 as Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Trade Development at the U.S. Department of Commerce, where he was previously Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Basic Industries. Copps came to Washington in 1970, joining the staff of Senator Ernest Hollings (D-SC) and serving for over a dozen years as Chief of Staff. ...A Clintonista DNC hack, you say? Former chief of staff for the withered old jackass who shills for the protection of big media at the expense of the average consumer, and fears a Republican establishing democracy in the Middle East would damage the Democrats' lock on the Jewish vote? Fascinating. Perhaps Bush should have considered the other candidates for the appointment just a bit more carefully back in May 2001.

Now with a word they claim the power to deny me

Remember: In a democracy, everyone's opinions are valid. Except yours. Where to begin? I don't pretend to understand the intricacies of EU bureaucracy, but it seems this is a position nominally appointed by each country to the Justice Commission. But, as the article notes, this is the first time a nominee has ever been anything but rubber-stamped through by the Civil Liberties Committee. I'm not particularly socially conservative, and I do find Mr. Ruttiglione's views on women and homosexuality more than a bit distasteful. But they have no bearing whatsoever on his ability to represent his nation on this committee, and to blackball him for such opinions is disgraceful. This says, more or less explicitly, that only soft leftism, nanny-state socialism, or raving loonball communism are permissible political bents in the EU bureaucracy's positions of power; conservatives need not apply. Justice is justice. It's not "Women's Justice" or "Gay Justice," and especially not "Social Justice." If Ruttiglione is committed to enforcing an equal access to and application of criminal and civil justice for all citizens of the EU, then his personal political views aren't relevant. On the other hand, if he's actually inclined to, say, make beating one's wife punishable by a €10 fine, or something equally abhorrent, then he would be rightly kept off the Justice Commission. Yet if that was the case, I'm sure Deutsche Welle would mention it, rather than making vague allusions to his favouring "the traditional role of women in the household." Take a good long look, Canada - especially 'big-tent' centrist and conservative Liberals. This is where we're headed. There will come a day when your non-leftist views won't be tolerated in power, merely for belonging to the correct party and participating in the correct bureaucratic confabs. You too can be blackballed for failing to wholeheartedly embrace Progressiveness.

Pardon me while I disappear

B-b-b-but I thought Bush Lied!, and Saddam's Iraq never had WMDs, the components thereof, or any other weapons they weren't supposed to have? Funny how the IAEA and UN are only concerned with the mysterious disappearance of nuclear precursor material when it's removed from any context of justifying the war, hmmm? I can't believe CBC can report this with a straight face, as it were: For the past year, the Iraqi Ministry of Trade has been shipping tonnes of scrap metal out of the country, including engines from banned missiles and other equipment that could be used to produce banned weapons. Until June 28, the ministry had been under direct control of the U.S. occupation authorities. It is now under control of the Iraqi interim government. Note the subtle implication - It's the US's fault. Iraq was banned from having these parts and raw materials in the first place, and that fact was a significant part of the casus belli? Who needs to mention that? This is one of those things that just happen, after all. It's a good thing we have Mohamed ElBaradei and the IAEA to alert us of such dangers several years late.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

I'll have nobody toy with my comfort and joy

Silly woman. Ontario used to ban Sunday shopping as well; like most regions, the old blue laws were still on the books for far too long. I'm glad that ban is gone for the exact opposite reason as she: I would rather have the opportunity to work on Sundays. During the week, I have classes. If I couldn't work Sunday, I'd either have an even busier schedule during the rest of the week, or live even closer to line of having to periodically mooch off my parents. Neither would be enjoyable. I can't imagine, as a full-time grocery store employee, she doesn't get one or two days off per week. No one would be forcing her to work Sunday without being scheduled to take another day off in exchange, I'm sure. Campaigning to continue denying others the opportunity to work (or, for that matter, shop) on Sundays simply for fear of being asked to work Sundays is so phenomenally, contemptuously selfish even I'm appalled - and I'm a pretty selfish person.

Magnanimity

If this isn't the perfect metaphor for the Canadian-American relationship dynamic, I don't know what is. (Via The Shotgun.)

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Quite Happy, John

I'm mildly embarrassed I forgot about it until reading Tim Blair early this morning, but the Australian election was today, and seems to have returned John Howard to power. It's better than that, though; the incumbent Liberal-National coalition even looks to have gained nationally. Let alone the value of his win defeating the rubric that too-eager US allies in the "coalition of the bribed" must be punished at the polls, Howard staying makes the Kerry campaign's attacks on allies even more awkward. If he's elected, how will Kerry deal with John Howard? What can you say to a man whose steadfast support you sent your own sister to mock and deride prior to his re-election? I'm also amused and heartened to see that it's possible for a Liberal Party to be, y'know, not evil, but that's another story.

Friday, October 08, 2004

Debate #2: Finale Ultimo

There's a woman in black at the back over Bush's shoulder who looks bored as hell. Not a good omen.On the other hand, his conclusion is far more upbeat and resolute than Kerry's whinefest. That was amazing. Kerry wasn't fumbling, but he was thoroughly weak on all but a few questions. It's going to be hard to spin this for him tomorrow like the last one; this was either a Bush-leaning draw, or a total win for the president.

Debate #2: Mistaken

The last question of the night is "Name three wrong decisions you've made?" Yeah, I call shenanigans on that. The obvious bias of giving Bush a hardball, last, aside - he's correctly deciphered it as an attempt to get him to admit being wrong on Iraq. Kerry's responding in kind, which was just too bloody obvious. Far more self-effacing and humble might have been to volunteer mistakes of his own, rather than repeating earlier talking points.

Debate #2: Tell Me More

On what kind of judge Bush might appoint to SCOTUS: "I'm not tellin'!" Heh. That's the second time Bush has drawn a laugh from the mostly-taciturn crowd tonight, and I think it's telling. Strict constructionism is probably a winner for him, here, despite making a probably-too-remote-for-the-general-public connection to the Dred Scott decision. Kerry is weak; all he can claim is that he wants judges that won't seem partisan in their opinions. That's not good enough. "How can you relate to pro-life voters, being strongly pro-choice?" Again, Kerry is very reasonable here. Individual conscience is key. Bush seems, for the first time tonight, a bit flustered; he's going through specific items his support for reducing abortions. Kerry's counter-response is more of an attack than it needed to be; it seems whiny.

Debate #2: I knew Marty McFly, and you, sir, are no Marty McFly

"Need some wood?" Crikey, that was great. He's got a great sense of humour. Bush is justifying the Patriot Act in simple terms for the "Ashcroft is oppressing us!" crowd. This is a needed explanation, sadly, but that it was needed only makes it more welcome. Kerry, on the other hand, is using endorsements and vague scare stories. I think it's telling that Kerry keeps relying on endorsements. He's mentioned Nancy Reagan, Michael J. Fox and Christopher Reeve in the past sentence - an 80s pop culture trifecta if ever there was one - and the fact that he has only makes him seem weaker. Tell us about your position on stem-cell research without telling us how you're friends with Christopher Reeve, maybe? I don't believe in limiting stem-cell research at all. (I don't believe in limiting much scientific research at all, for that matter; bring on the cloning, I say.) But I can respect Bush's position here, because it's an informed and ethically considered one.

Debate #2: Captain Planet, He's Our Hero

Bush is actually pretty convincing on environmental policies, which is a shame; it's not as if it's an area which garners a great deal of support from most of his base. Kerry starts off with a Red Sox joke. Is that funny? I don't get it. He also manages to turn Bush's entirely non-Kerry-mentioning talking points into a personal attack on "labels." Mentioning Orwell also seems desperate. He's going to be a president who "believes in science," and thus global warming? Haven't we established that believing in both those things isn't necessarily coherent? Kyoto was dead, you ass. Without Russia signing, it would mean nothing.

Debate #2: Spendy Spendy

Hah. "Explain how John Edwards' presence on your ticket jibes with reducing the cost of health care." Kerry is pretty good on this, actually. He sounds reasonable on why his choice of the caring and nice Edwards excuses anything negative that may have occurred to health care. Bush just said "Kennedy" when he meant Kerry. Now that's Freudian. Somewhere, JFK and Bobby are giggling uncontrollably. MEGO, as ever, on the nitty-gritty of domestic policy. "You haven't vetoed anything yet. Explain your spending policies?" Hmm. That's fair criticism. Deficit spending in a long-term war isn't as irresponsible as it would be otherwise, but it's still a very valid point of contention. I think Kerry's overplaying the Everything Is Bush's Fault card. Even he can't pull it off all the time, and it seems like each successive use brings diminishing returns. Ooooh. Surprising backbone from the moderator, demanding to know how both actually plan to deal with the deficit. Neither, unsurprisingly, has much of an explanation.

Debate #2: Pusher

"Why can't we buy cheap Canadian drugs?" I have other issues with drug reimportation, but Bush is making good points on issues of pure safety. Plus, he's knocking the magical talisman of "cheap drugs" entirely, with the alternatives. This could have been a winner for Kerry, but I don't see how he can salvage anything from Bush's big-government preemptive strike. Kerry's answer seems to be intimating Bush just hates people being healthy, or something. The Grinch theory of Republican behaviour may work for a hard-left audience, but it doesn't sound too convincing without applause. Kerry claims to have fixed Medicare. Not singlehandedly, but he's taking more credit than he probably deserves.

Debate #2: Rotation

"How can Team America: World Police keep doing our job without restarting the draft?" Spectacular. Bush easily shoots down the notion of a draft with cold, hard logic: a professional corps is a more effective one. (As if that should have to be explained!) Making the connection to shuffling troops from Cold War positions is also a winner, and a reminder that there are other reasons Europe tends to whine a lot. "We're not going to have a draft, so long as I'm the president!" Sweet. Kerry just repeats his endorsements from prominent generals, and his talking point about the "back-door draft." Um, excuse me, Mr. Senator? If we're not going to go this alone, why do we need 40,000 more active duty troops? Kerry also seems to be disingenously ignoring the fact that, yeah, the majority of potential military force available to the allied world is already in American hands. The numbers of participants aren't suprising. "How do you explain we haven't been attacked again since 9/11?" Kerry actually makes some good points about inspecting cargo containers et al, but again ignores the cost of what he's demanding: a centrally-planned state with an utterly immobile economy. In response, Bush goes proactive, again, which is just deadly for Kerry. Cargo inspection isn't going to help when you have a small, petty, compartmentalized view of the longer-term WoT. Bush comes off as thoughtful and genuinely concerned. Wow, he's kicking ass.

Debate #2: Secret Plan

Kerry's plan for Iraq, as ever, involves mysterious references to "allies" - and much FUD about Bush's supposed lack of a failure of a travesty of an insult of a plan. Plus sniping about restricting contracts for reconstruction to allies, which I doubt many people are going to see as a problem. The difference between these two men is startling. Kerry whines and agitates about committees and meetings and summits - while Bush casually mentions one-on-ones with the finance minister of a free Iraq. Which seems more professional? Which has the most gravitas? Crikey, Kerry is still hung up on Tora Bora. I still believe Bin Laden is dead, but hey, I could be wrong; either way, it doesn't help to be obsessed about failing to catch or kill him there any more than it does to obsess about when Clinton's DoD failed the same test. I also fail to understand how he can be so quantum. Congress' vote to authorize war was exclusively about WMD, he claims; ergo no war of liberation can be just. Yet he claims to have supported the casus belli for war with Iraq since 1998. Guh? "Everyone hates America. Why?" Bush's explanation of unpopular decisions is very convincing, and (rightly) paints the EU morass as a feckless orgy of bureaucracy. The president should never do anything purely to win friends in the diplomatic corps. Kerry is hung up on allies. And diplomacy. And the "rush to war." How can anyone believe that? Does no one remember how incredibly long that so-called rush was? He's even managed a flip-flop in the space of one minute, moving the goalposts of the intimation that Bush doesn't listen to advice from the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Debate #2: Wishy-Washy

"Senator, are you wishy-washy?" Good Lord. Moreover, I don't hear actual justification of why he isn't. He started off with a short script of talking points. Someone doesn't understand the format very well. Bush, on the other hand, has this part of his stump speech down pat - for, against, for, against, and so on. This may be one of those occasions where clarity trumps nuance, and rightly so. Bush is also startlingly clearer and more coherent tonight than the first debate. Second question: Was the possibility of Iraqi WMDs sufficient justification? Sweet. Bush is on tonight, and pushing hard and convincingly on the doctrine of preemptive action. Plus, he's making the perfect connection to the Oil-for-Food scandal, which is utterly perfect. Kerry, again, fails to understand the format. This question was about justification for the war. He manages to bring up No Child Left Behind, in connection; the hell? Sweet Guinea Pig of Winnipeg, Bush is on fire tonight. Kerry is coming off as whiny and bitchy. Excellent.

Debate #2: Build me up, Buttercup

The CNN pundits are noting that this debate has the stake risen dramatically, which is obvious, yet still a self-fulfilling prophecy. It irritates me to no end they seem yet unaware of their remarkable power to influence opinion, as framers of the evidence. I'm happier with this format, however - it seems one Bush can really shine with, using his vastly-superior-to-Kerry charm to relate to real people. Assuming the moderator doesn't serve up cheap-shot questioners, that is.

Now that you've stated the whole of your case

In what's increasingly become an exercise in self-flagellation, I'll be liveblogging tonight's debate, too. I'm hoping Bush, as he has before, can pull a sucker-punch of a sudden reversal and come out on top here - but I'm not optimistic. If, as some have noted, he can't even defend his record as cogently as his unpaid supporters, maybe the Republican Party deserves a painful drubbing. On a happier (hah) note, Enterprise is back tonight. Last season ended with that old chestnut, Alien Nazis, and not in an encouragingly competent-seeming manner. I'm semi-eager to see if the writers pull a deus ex machina by the end of tonight's episode and hit the reset button. The Star Trek writing staff seems to miss the ease and frequency with which they could do that during the Voyager era. This is a rant for another time, but I really miss DS9.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Our strength and defiance

I must say I agree wholeheartedly with the notion that the Democrats should have nominated Joe Lieberman. I like Joe Lieberman. I respect Joe Lieberman. He showed - to dismally low support in the primaries - that it's possible for today's Democratic Party to be as credible on defense as Republicans. Given a choice between he and Bush, I'd jump on the Joe-mentum bandwagon without too much complaint right about now. On the other hand, I disagree about the reason why he was rejected. Al Gore, despite growing increasingly more unstable, still draws applause at Dem and lefty events. His aura of failure wasn't sticking to Lieberman that much. I also find it hard to believe, given the number of mildly goofy-looking presidents elected in the modern media era, that his appearance was key. No, I might be way off, but I have a sneaking suspicion that it's because he's Jewish, and thus perceptually more pro-Israel (and thus anti-terrorism) than even a non-Jewish candidate with the exact same positions. I'm not talking facts, necessarily - just perceptions. Democrats, on the whole, aren't anti-Semitic, unlike an uncomfortable number of their scary hard-left fringe. But how many made the calculation - consciously or not - "Hmmm...if the Islamic fundamentalist terrorists hate us now, what would they do if we elected a Jewish president?" I don't think such a decision would be made out of bigotry, or even, as I say, consciously; it's just that there were other candidates less likely to inflame the claimed-all-important 'Arab Street,' and thus have more diplomatic credibility. I know, even if I'm anywhere near right, that it wouldn't have been the sole reason; Lieberman was and is just too hawkish on defense than the Democratic base. But I still think it might have been at least a partially-contributing factor to his primary defeat. (Via Instapundit.)

Any means you'd care to employ

To Michael Moore: Because you think something is funny does not make it any less illegal. Tubby Riefenstahl seems quite pleased with himself since Republicans have demanded he be charged for illegally offering bribes of underwear and ramen noodles to vote. The law is in place for a reason - to ensure that no one is induced to vote via bribery. Bribery, by definition, requires offering something of value; that the value of boxer shorts may be $5 doesn't make them any less of a bribe. Nor does it speak well of the slackers Moore praises that their pledge to vote must not only be purchased, but can be purchased so cheaply. Is this the kind of democracy he wants? Is this the kind of democracy any of us want? Setting a precedent for allowable behaviour in this context, let alone a disgustingly low one, is dangerous. If nothing else, considering what "everyone knows" about Republicans on the left (stolen elections, HALLIBURTON!!!, yadda yadda yadda), Moore and his cohorts should be worried that the right could buy more votes than they. George Soros and Teresa Heinz-Kerry may be rich, but if the hypothetical push ever came to shove, I'm sure the GOP could be more than capable of generating more election-swinging funds than Democrats. (Not that they would, Republican candidates and their supporters not being so reduced to hatred-filled desperation.) Never try pulling any dirty trick your opponents couldn't do better, if they were so inclined.

And then, some taps, and you'll collapse

Toronto Star: "Government could fall tonight." Lordy, not now. Wait, guys. Have a little patience. I don't need this right now. I don't think anyone needs this right now - neither another election, nor even the recriminations and bitterness over the remote possibility of the GG turning to the Tories to form a government. I'm just about politically burned out. It's going to be a feat to make it to November 2 sane and rested, while still making all my upcoming academic deadlines, let alone considering the possibility of another federal election on November 15 or thereabouts. I have no idea how a similarly informationally overloaded general public might react. Give the Liberals a firm majority, just to keep non-confidence shenanigans from happening again soon? Punish Paul Martin for failing to manage handling even the first week of a minority government? Now, try this in February, and then we'll talk...

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Those in peril on the sea

Godspeed, Lt. Saunders. Someday, the current half-hearted Canadian military policy - budget cuts that have reduced the already-ebbing strength of our armed forces to a level of functional near-inoperability - is going to kill more than just one soldier or sailor at a time. What will the next malfunction of the bargain-basement diesel subs be? What if both port and starboard engines catch fire, next time? Would an entire vessel being lost due to irresponsibly low defense budgets, budgets that allow for commissioning only a second-hand joke of a navy, make Liberals (or Conservatives, who weren't terribly convincing on defense in the Mulroney years) rethink their policies? The choice is going to be a hard and embarassing one, whenever it finally becomes urgent. Should Canada become a complete free rider, and depend on American aid to protect national sovereignty, or increase defense spending to reasonable levels? The former has the benefit of being cheap, but would require quite a bit more diplomacy and pro-Americanism than any electable PM could possibly muster. Nor would it be a drastic change in actual policy, just an acknowledgment of practical realities that have led to the current decline in the Canadian military. The latter is a similar vote-loser; no matter how enthusiastically patriotic, any government trying it would be tarred with the American Warmongers! brush. Plus, it would be expensive. We'd either have to give up some of the apparatus of overweening socialist government (not likely), or raise taxes (not popular). There's no good way out. Going straight ahead on the same course will be the same death by a thousand cuts the Forces are suffering now. So what's it going to be, then? Military credibility, or socialist oblivion? I know which I'd choose.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Veep: Thoughts

Cheney won it. No question. Edwards is pretty (oh my, yes), but he has so little substance it's frightening. He has much to complain about, and many intimations of lies and misrepresentations, but no solutions or answers. Overall, a great debate, and even without getting decent answers from Edwards on many issues, it was an engaging conversation. Now the campaign chairpeople are up for interviews. Mary Beth Cahill is on first, with yet another whiny ad populem. What is with these people? Do they not understand there are other ways to make a sales pitch besides the suggestion that everyone already believes the conclusion? She's also trying - not very convincingly - to spin that Cheney came off grumpy. Ken Mehlman is upbeat, on the other hand, and refutes Wolf Blitzer's spin with little effort. Excellent. I'm disappointed at just how soon the talking heads are spinning it, here; one on CNN has leapt wholeheartedly to the conclusion that this has helped Kerry. It is not proven. That's what was fantastic about Cheney's performance here: He proved as much as he could, as fast as he could, as thoroughly as he could. I want to like John Edwards. I really do. He's got amazing charisma. But he hasn't proved that he's even thought about what he says, let alone what he might have to do as president.

Veep: Wrap It Up, People

Edwards' father was learning math on television. And Edwards was proud. So? "I have grown up in the bright light of America, but that light is flickering." Good Lord. He's a half-step away from saying outright that everything bad that happens, forever and always, is George Bush's fault. How many empty chairs are there going to be at that table if a dirty bomb is detonated in Detroit or Philadelphia or San Diego? Cheney is a hell of a lot more upbeat, oddly enough. He's promoting a message of American exceptionalism, not popular victimization theory. He also makes my point: Perseverance and steadfastness in the war are paramount. Nobody's going to be learning math on TV if we lose.

Veep: The Centre Cannot Hold

I don't think there's any good way for whoever wins to reach out to the other side. There is going to be animosity no matter what - but to be fair, a lot of the blame (though by no means all) needs to go to the increasingly shrill Bush-bashers on the blue side. All Bush can do, as Cheney says, is to turn the other cheek as often as they can, and not descend to the attackers' level. "Have you ever seen America more divided?" And whose fault is that? And now Edwards is back to health care, on the question where he should be trying to convince liberal Republicans and independents Kerry won't ignore or spite them as president. That is just downright foolish. At least Bush has a track record, in this regard; everyone knows where they stand with and on him, no matter where that may be. Kerry needs those swing voters if he's to pull off a slim win here; to give up selling that for the sake of promoting buying prescription drugs from Canada - well, I think I need to revive my usual claim of Profoundly Unserious for the Democratic ticket.

Veep: Flip-Flop

The administration was against the 9/11 Commission for a very good reason - they saw it would become the political and substance-free circus it did, in fact, become. Moreover, the examples Edwards is giving aren't very convincing as flip-flops. A presidential challenger has the latitude to change his mind on a whim. The incumbent has the responsibility to weigh what each choice means. I think that's made evident, here; Bush or his advisors have had to make tough decisions, often where either choice sucks to some degree. Kerry hasn't seemed to have principle or reason behind his changes of mind.

Veep: Judge Not

Edwards is pulling another ad populem; his lack of experience will be vitified by the American people liking his character. Not good enough, Senator. All he's saying is that he can parrot Kerry's attack lines well, and that can't be heartening. In Edwards' world, good intentions make up for a complete lack of understanding or experience. He'd make a good VP of the Glee Club, sure, but that doesn't qualify him from being a heartbeat away from the Button. "I knew him before, I know him better now." So what's the true face of Edwards? What he was saying about Kerry during the primaries, before that, or after? Be careful about claiming a Lieutenant has the experience to be CIC. The wisdom and maturity, maybe. But not the experience. Kept from mentioning his running mate, Cheney comes across as a fascinating person in his own right. He doesn't talk about himself much, but he seems humble and experienced, especially compared to Edwards' flashier charisma. Hah. Edwards broke the rule; he couldn't stop himself from mentioning Kerry's name. Twice. What a maroon.

Veep: Pandemic

On AIDS research and funding, Cheney is admittedly a bit weak; Bush has promoted overseas aid before domestic. It's also not good to admit he hadn't heard the statistics Ifill gave - it's a chink in his otherwise near-impenetrable armour. Oooooh. In his line about "a frightening, frightening thing," Edwards looked almost Clintonian. He had that actual "I feel your pain" vibe. He often tries for that, I know, but rarely manages to come off as more than the bootleg knockoff version thereof.

Veep: First Thing We Do

In an ideal world, malpractice would never happen. But it does; unfortunately, the standard therefor is too low to be realistic. Suing for malpractice shouldn't be a hope to win the lottery, but be reserved for genuine cases of malpractice - and that's what Cheney is saying. Limiting liability will decrease overall costs. Edwards seems to be agreeing, but is he really? What's his standard for a frivolous case? He claims that a Kerry plan for tort reform would - by association, I'm not entirely sure - prevent inflation of medical costs? That seems to be a segue into socialized medicine, which is still a loser in American politics. Cheney makes a good point about the multiplier effect of high liability insurance rates; how much more effective could an economy be not hobbled by multibillions of insurance for frivolous lawsuits? Hah. Edwards is responding to Cheney's noting he took advantage of a $600,000 tax shelter for medicare costs by engaging in a typically Halliburton-flavoured tu quoque. He actually seemed a bit flustered there. That's sad; did he not expect it?

Veep: Freedom Means Freedom

I can sort of respect Cheney's position on gay marriage. It's the federal government's duty to leave the legality of relationships alone; states can do what they want. On the other hand, he is clearly torn between party policy and his daughter. I'm of the mind to favour Glenn Reynolds' platform statement yesterday - there should be happily married gay couples with closets full of assult rifles. ...Edwards just brought Mary Cheney directly into the conversation. That is just wrong; it's a cheap shot using her as a wedge. If there's real sympathy there, I'm not seeing it in Edwards' voice or eyes. He's right that the FMA was unnecessary, but he's spinning furiously to explain why Kerry is so incredibly quantum on being both for and against gay marriage. It's not convincing. Hm. Cheney thanked him for the compliment about Mary, and didn't otherwise respond. Fascinating.

Veep: Innovative Jobs of the Future

It is not the president's personal mission to create jobs, Mr. Edwards. That is what a command economy does, in an authoritarian or socialist state. (Well, maybe you want to have that. Most of us don't.) Heh. In one breath, Edwards claims there is no way in hell Kerry will raise taxes - but then amends that thought with caveats about making sure government services will be there for "the children." As always, mine eyes start to glazeth over on pure domestic policy banter; it just doesn't affect me much. On the other hand, what's with these 600 Kerry-sponsored tax cuts? Cuts for whom? Did they pass? Enquiring minds want to know.

Veep: Kicking and Screaming

Kerry is big on the DHS, now? That's new, isn't it? Wasn't he previously condemning it as part of the overall scary scary Patriot Act hype? It's also a bit ripe for Edwards to claim that America has to be dragged "kicking and screaming" to do the right thing. I'm not sure I heard that right. As to your question, Senator? All of them, if need be. Cheney is doing magnificently refuting the HALLIBURTON!!! talking points. Common sense does wonders on that kind of fever-swamp ranting. Ooooh. Israel. What can Edwards say here? He's starting off not too badly, claiming he supports the Israeli right to, y'know, exist. The personal anecdote actually does justify what I'd otherwise assume to be faux-outrage at Palestinian terrorism. This is smart - they're now running to the right of B/C on Iranian and Saudi support of terror. Ouch. Cheney: "I am the presiding officer of the Senate. I'm there most Tuesdays, when they're in session. The first time I've ever met you is when you walked on the stage tonight." Edwards' response is to dredge up what Cheney voted on in the House. Between 1981 and 1989. Not a good way to distract the voters from one's own lack of a record, let alone an impressive one. Yes, Cheney voted some strange ways on domestic pork and do-nothing legislation, but I'm sure he had good reasons - and he's also been a member of several cabinets besides. Edwards, on the other hand, hasn't even shown up in the Senate enough to have much of a record either way.

Veep: All Your Followers are Blind

"A long resume does not equal good judgement." Says the man with the least experience of any major VP candidate ever? Jeebus. Yes, Cheney did cut a number of weapons systems as SecDef, you idiot. By then the Cold War was won. Kerry voted against funding them before the Berlin Wall fell. Timelines do matter, you know. Why is Edwards still on the weapons inspectors? His implication is that Iraq could never have been a threat, and the war wasn't worth it for any reason at all. Is this not a slap in the face to any Iraqi enjoying a fascism-free life today? Is this not willful blindness to the strategic advantage of having a stable democracy in the Middle East? Ditto his repetitive carping on internationalization. Explain what the French are going to do to help. If you can't, shut the hell up. The first Gulf War wasn't finished properly. That's why it's taking more money now.

Veep: Conviction

Cheney's bringing up a great point in the multilateralist column. Inducing allies to forgive Iraqi debt from the Baathist era will do a lot more to help a nascent democracy than a thousand or two troops from France or Germany. "The American people saw John Kerry. They saw he's committed," or something to that effect. That's a pretty awful example of ad populum sidestepping. He has not demonstrated it. "Your rhetoric, Senator, would be a lot more effective if there was something to back it up." Zing, pretty boy. Cheney is just brutal aon the facts of Kerry's record, here.

Veep: You Are Wrong

Cheney's taken a bit of a detour on "What would you do to hunt down Osama Bin Laden," but he's done it well; encouraging democracy and toppling rogue regimes is the best way to prevent support of terror. ...Crikey. Edwards is repeating the "Outsourcing to Warlords" line. And explaining Kerry's "Global Test" concept in a way that explains nothing. Those lines must have tested awfully well in focus groups, because they sound like losers to me. Ooooh. Cheney is sticking the knife in - "Twenty years ago I was an election observer in El Salvador." The subtext, of course, being to Edwards: What were you doing for democracy twenty years ago, you little punk? I sometimes wonder, given how much Kerry, Edwards and the rest of the Democratic confabulation harp on how Saudi Arabia and Iran and North Korea were always much greater threats than Iraq, what they'd have done if the war had been in one of those places. I suspect, rather cynically, it would have been a disingenuous "Iraq was a greater threat!" Again Ifill has given Edwards a chance to explain the Global Test line in a way that doesn't sound ridiculous, and he still hasn't. The weight of international credibility means nothing to a paper tiger; ask the Ottomans or Tsarist Russia.

Veep: Justify Yourself, Senator

Edwards is again obfuscating. Longer inspections? Inspections? Are we back to that UN-dominated bureaucrat-orgy now? He's also recycling the "Bush let Bin Laden go" talking point now. Okay, Senator, are we allowed to keep pointing out Clinton let him go first? I'm inclined, by all logic, to think he's dead by now, and thus a non-issue. Cheney is the adult, of course; flatly pointing out that neither he nor any other member of the administration has ever directly connected Iraq and Al-Qaeda won't convince hardcore Kerryites, but it's nice to hear anyway. He's also a fantastic debater, which makes last week's debacle seem all the more embarassing in retrospect. I suspect Cheney could verbally bitch-slap Kerry six ways to Sunday, if he chose to.

Veep: And Away We Go

Edwards' teeth are starting to bother me. Let's hope he shows some actual character beyond that, because I really want to like him. Moderator Gwen Ifill has just admitted that she can do nothing to stop or punish an infringement of the agreed rules. Fallout from Kerry's notecard shenanigans? First question: Was there a connection between Saddam and Al-Qaeda? Cheney is starting off magnificently here, setting out the broader war plan and why it doesn't matter if we don't have photos of Bin Laden and Saddam signing a formal treaty of cooperation. Bravo also for mentioning the old regime paying off - effectively subsidizing - Palestinian suicide bombers. Terrorism doesn't stop at association boundaries. Edwards has no substance here at all; FUD FUD FUD. He's still trying to spin the "Bush lied, people died" meme, and that's not encouraging. He's not addressing the central question: Was it necessary, useful and good? Instead, Edwards is mumbling about casualties and "credibility." Edwards, you fool. Take the blinders off. A direct connection between Iraq and Al-Qaeda was never the issue. A connection to terrorism on every level always was.