"History will be kind to me, for I intend to write it."-Winston S. Churchill

"The wandering scholars were bound by no lasting loyalties, were attached by no sentiment of patriotism to the states they served and were not restricted by any feeling of ancient chivalry. They proposed and carried out schemes of the blackest treachery."-C.P. Fitzgerald.

Saturday, March 06, 2004

The Fate of Europe... 

This post by Wretchard at The Belmont Club is a fine take on what ails a dying Europe. According to Wretch, there appears to be an intersection between Europe's militant post-Christian culture and the disease of Marxism that hollowed out Europe's devotion to the Faith.
He traces it to the beginning of the Marxist enterprise in 1848.

This is a very, very good read. Read the whole thing.

Friday, March 05, 2004

Examining the Opposition: 

I'm cutting and pasting a response to a Roger L. Simon post. I believe it bears some debate.

I begin with the proposition that today's Democrats are small beer compared to yesterday's men. That is debatable, of course, but I don't think it's a debate that any Democrat would want to happen.

Roger posted the question, in response to Prime Minister Tony Blair's superb peroration on the justice of the Iraq War (hat tip: Roger, Armed Liberal). Roger and Armed Liberal want the Arnold Amendment to pass so that they can dragoon Blair can become the first foreign-born President of the United States. Here's my response to Roger's post, in full:

I'm a Republican, but I would vote for Blair running as a Democrat in a freaking Fort Lauderdale minute (as opposed to them damyankees from New York...). When you strip away the partisan rancor, the thing I seem to find is that most bloggers think that Bush is dead on about the One Big Thing, while they have problems with some of the other domestic things.

Perhaps if Kerry would take a position on something and stick with it, he might have a chance in the fall. I don't think he does, because in the end, people know Bush and they know where he stands.

But here's what gets me. Roger L. Simon's Democratic Party gave us Franklin D. Roosevelt, George C. Marshall, Harry S. Truman, Dean Acheson, Adlai Stevenson, Sam Rayburn, Hubert Humphrey, and Jack and Bobby Kennedy.

What happened? Where are the great men? Why doesn't the Democratic Party produce men like Tony Blair? Where is the Democratic Ike? The young FDR? The positive, sunny Democratic Party that shouted to the rooftops, "Happy Days are Here Again!" Where did it go?

Now I don't want some asshat from Atrios to try to come over here and argue the proposition that Tony Blair is a pantywaist compared to big Bad John Kerry. It ain't happenin', folks. Roger and Kaus have pretty much confirmed my worst fears of Kerry: an opportunist, par excellence, who doesn't grasp the enormity of the central event of our time, and who believes that the WOT has been "overblown".

My short answer to why the Democrats can't produce the kind of Democrat that would warm the cockles of not just Roger's heart, but mine, is simple: The Sixties.

But really, I'd like to see Roger address this issue. Why Kerry? Where are the Great Men?

Martha Stewart is.... 

...guilty on all counts: obstruction of justice and lying to the government. An earlier fraud charge had been dismissed out of hand by the presiding judge.

A little bit of insider trading goes a long way, eh? To Sing Sing, is what it looks like.

Stewart was one of those individuals who was a high roller in the 1990's. At her apogee, Martha Stewart Living was a huge going concern that traded on the NYSE (stock symbol: MSO) for several years.
She sat on the board of the New York Stock Exchange, for Christ's sake. When the scandal erupted after the Imclone affair blew open, Martha apparently made the mistake of engaging in a coverup (at least that's the way the jury saw it...). She is getting her just deserts.

The fact that she was an ardent Clinton supporter and a liberal Democrat is something that seems especially ironic in light of the events of the day.

There is a consensus among bloggers... 

...that Peggy Noonan's latest column is superb, indeed, in the words of John Ellis, it is one of her "great" pieces.
Read the whole damn thing.

Be there, or be Reticulan.

Thursday, March 04, 2004

Gottedammerung! (...or, something typed while listening to the TV Edit version of "Tank!", by The Seatbelts...) 

In this article, Andrew Sullivan backhandedly blames President Bush for presiding over an atmosphere of division in the nation. It's actually a decent survey of where the Red and the Blue stand along a deep cultural divide, but Sullivan chooses to lean on the President a little bit more than his opponents.

After all, they were only comparing Bush to Hitler.

Meantime, in Campaignland...

Bush has unleashed hell (hat tip: Russel Crowe). GW waited 24 hours after Kerry accepted his victory on Super Tuesday to open up with guns blazing. He's done a four and a half million dollar ad buy. Three of the ads are aimed at the conservative base voters, while one ad, in Spanish, will be run on Univision. They will be broadcast over the next several weeks.

One ad sent Democrats and their pimps in the media back on their hind legs. I believe its the "Tested" ad. It had a couple of fleeting images of the World Trade Center in the aftermath of the attacks, and an image of firefighters carrying off a flag-draped comrade from the ruins. Democrats claimed that the ads were exploiting the fallen. They trotted out vocally prominent critics of the President from the families of the victims who appear to believe that the President deserves not praise for his actions after 9-11, but impeachment.

Of course, this was a coordinated move by the Kerry people, but it was enough of a blunder to indicate to me that the Kerry crowd is not quite ready for prime time. Here's why:

The fact that Democrats went ballistic tells Karl Rove exactly what are the Democrats' vulnerabilities. Naturally, if the President runs on the war, he runs to a strength. Democrats want to deny the President that avenue. It was stupid for Democrats to open their mouths and telegraph to Karl Rove their concerns.

Secondly, Democrats fell into the trap of talking about the ad. Now people will want to see the ad. They will also see Bush's message. They will see that Bush is not such an evil and wicked man after all.

I say again, for this and several other reasons, Tuesday night was John Kerry's high watermark.

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

I can't stand it! 

If John Forbes Kerry mentions Vietnam one more fucking time, I swear to all that is holy, I shall vomit on my keyboard.

Not only did he manage to worm Vietnam into his acceptance speech last night, but he also found a way to make it the theme of this tawdry bit of ghostwriting that appeared in today's International Herald-Tribune.

Mark me well: John Kerry is going to overplay this Vietnam Experience card. By the fall, people are going to say, "John, we know you were in Vietnam. Now unless you have something substantive to say about this war, please go away."

John Kerry wrapped up the Democratic Nomination last night... 

...and is about to enter a sea of troubles.

I strongly suspect that last night was Kerry's high watermark. The Massachusetts senator swept the table last night, as Democrats bowed to the inevitable. In recognition of the obvious, John Edwards is announcing his withdrawal from the race today. Bush called Kerry to congratulate him, building up the senator's ego that much more.

In a deep backgrounder, five network reporters were brought into Scott McClellan's office to have an off the record chat with George W. Bush. For his part, the President appears ready to unleash all sorts of hell on Kerry and believes he is in a much stronger position going into this year's election than he was as a newbie in 2000. Bush said that Kerry would be a tough, "hard-charging" opponent.

However, I strongly suspect that Bush is in a much stronger position than he is letting on. Forget the polls for a moment. It's all about turnout. Ray Malone gave me an insight as to how this thing is going. In California, they could only muster a 20% turnout. In Virginia, barely 10%. Both primaries were contested. Ray also remarked in an earlier post that the unions weren't able to get their people out for Gephardt. People who have more money in their wallets are less likely to vote for the Democrat in November. Economic growth is clicking along at a healthy 4.1% (as of the fourth quarter of 2003). Manufacturing and payroll is up, while inflation remains pretty much in check.

This tells me that the entire press meme about a jazzed and hateful Democratic Party is exactly that, a press meme. Don't get me wrong; the Democratic Base is jazzed. They hate Bush. They hate Bush worse than they could ever bring themselves to hate Usama or Saddam. But the Base's anger is not translating into strong turnout numbers for Regular Democrats. Regular Democrats are like Regular Republicans in that they wait until after the Conventions and the World Series to concentrate on the campaign. In that respect, each demographic is very similar to the mushy independents. If the economic trends continue, if in people's minds things are getting better, they will vote to retain Bush.

In this one respect, this looks like the Dole 1996 campaign all over again. Unfortunately, Kerry gets to play the role of Bob Dole.

Two other things occurred yesterday that also lead me to the conclusion that Bush will win. Kerry indicated that he would repeal the Bush tax package. That's bad mojo for Kerry; he's been listening to his Washington policy people who tell him that tax cuts are a big nono. This was a mistake. Bush has been consistently in favor of tax relief, so GW will be able to campaign as the guy who believes in One Big Thing: lower taxes. Middle class families will be opening up their IRS packets and finding more money in their wallet. Bush knows this. Kerry appears not to realize it at all.

Secondly, the Assault Weapons Ban renewal is pretty much dead. This was a litmus test for the base. I can tell you that as a firearms owner, I would have gone for Bush had he signed a renewal, but I would have held my nose. However, hundreds of thousands of law-abiding gun owners would have stayed home in protest. That will not happen now. With the failure of the AWB to be renewed and the rise of gay marriage as an issue, all at once, Bush's base is secure. This is quite a change from a month ago, as the press was peddling the meme of an upset Republican base. That too was a lie.

Bush's commercials are about to commence. Firstly, he's targeting his base voters: NASCAR Dads, gunowners, right to lifers, evangelicals, orthodox Jews, and Opus Dei Catholics like Mel Gibson. My kind of people. For instance, don't be surprised to see Dale Earnhardt, Jr. do a commercial for Bush. Secondly, he's beginning a focused campaign in the Hispanic media to gin up his numbers. Bush has become popular among Latinos, and all he has to do is increase his take of the Hispanic vote by three to five points in that demographic.

The end-of-winter polls notwithstanding, Bush is in an incredibly strong strategic position. We are about to find out just how strong that position is, and whether or not it can be held. I'm betting that not only can it be held, but also that Bush is all about expanding his position into traditionally Democratic-held territory.

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Edwards is so over... 

Super Tuesday was a clean sweep for Kerry. I'll get into more analysis tomorrow evening, but I will tell you now that Bush has won this election.

Tomorrow, I will tell you why.

Ray Malone has another winner! 

Check out his post today. Puts the lie to the myth of the "energized" Democratic base.

Al Qaeda has struck again 

This time, the Wahabists have targeted the Shi'a in Iraq. The Beeb has a good log of the goings-on in Baghdad and Karbala. Today was the celebration of the Ashoura festival, when Shi'as commemorate the assassination of the Imam Hussein in the 7th Century. Upwards to 150 people have been killed. In addition, there has been an attack on a Shi'a procession in Quetta, Pakistan. In that attack, up to 17 people have been killed when the procession was attacked by gunmen.

The ascension of the Shi'a in Iraq has been the bane of Wahabists in Saudi Arabia. The Zarqawi Memorandum indicated that AQ was going to try to foment a civil war in Iraq. It was the only arrow left in their quiver, given the astonishing success the United States Army has had against the insurgency. Night Ownership, aggressive patrolling, and the use of civic action techniques (as well as the application of money, when needed), has led to the death or capture of thousands of Sunni Ba'ath and Al Qaeda personnel. This has led to a marginalization of Sunni authority in Iraq, as those who benefited from the swag of the old regime had to watch as the Americans curried favor with newly powerful Shi'a clerics.

There is a danger in all of this. The U.S. is about to engage Al Qaeda in the penultimate battle of the war: the capture of bin Laden and the destruction of Al Qaeda's central command apparatus. All of the world's major players are showing up for this takedown: Unit 121 from Iraq, the SEAL's, the DELTA people, and most significantly, the Special Air Service Regiment. I also suspect that the Australian SAS will be involved, as well as the Canadian Special Forces and, in a supporting role, the Mossad. This fight will take place in Southeastern Afghanistan and in the Northwestern Frontier States of Pakistan. It is in Al Qaeda's interest to try and delay the American offensive as soon as possible. I strongly suspect that bin Laden will fail in this effort.

The Shi'a clerics have too much at stake to allow the march towards a federal, Kurd and Shi'a dominated, Iraq to be derailed by these attacks. One can make a safe bet, however, that instead of being delayed by this attack, President Bush will order that the offensive be put into high gear.

For this was a sign of weakness, not of strength. Al Qaeda is much weaker than it was as September 11th, 2001 dawned. Bin Laden and his organization are ready to be killed, once and for all.

Monday, March 01, 2004

Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King... 

...won 11 Oscars at last night's Academy Awards. Although last year was a rather thin one in terms of great filmmaking, ROTK was a superb film and deserved every honor awarded it. The awards to Peter Jackson for Best Director and to Howard Shore for Best Musical Score were especially appropriate. However, other than the awards Jackson's film, the rest of the evening was a snoozefest, punctuated by one or two Anti-war moments. In addition, Hollywood found a way to honor Leni Riefenstahl, whose signature film, Triumph of the Will, was a propaganda documentary of the 1934 Party Day Rally at Nuremburg.

Whether or not Hitler won a Life Achievement Award is unknown as we go to press.

The Man who wasn't There

On Sunday, Mel Gibson's new biblical, The Passion of the Christ, passed the 100 million dollar mark in total grosses. According to the people at Box Office Mojo, Gibson's genuflection towards pre-Vatican II Church doctrine has taken almost 118 milllion dollars in a little under 5 days.

Gibson was a no-show at last night's Oscar Ceremony. I don't believe that he was even mentioned by the emcees. According to Matt Drudge's radio show of last night, Gibson was afraid that he would be booed by some members of the Academy (...no, you think?). Gibson is also out hustling his film. However, while he was not there, I will guarantee you that Mel cast a long shadow over the Kodak Theater last night.

Meanwhile, in Baghdad

Iraqis have agreed to an interim Constitution that will govern the nation once America hands over official authority at the end of June. Elections are not quite set in stone for this year, but under the agreement hammered out with Grand Ayatollah al-Sistani, elections will be held at the end of 2004, or early 2005 at the latest.

In addtion to the Constitutional brouhaha, Iraq's Oil Ministry reports that output appears to be nearing prewar levels, much to the dismay of the chattering classes who maintained that the entire postwar enterprise in Iraq was a disaster from the word "go". I have always been of the opinion that if people in the Middle East were granted freedom of expression, religion, and press and economic liberty, they could amaze the world.

Put this in the bank: in five years, Baghdad will be the economic center of the entire Arab world. Book that.

Sunday, February 29, 2004

We have a new member! 

Section 9 would like to welcome Fugstat as a contributor and admin to these pages. While I am resolutely conservative (with a libertarian streak, of course), Fugstat presents the perspective of a nonaligned, independent voter who skews slightly to the left. We agree on a lot, and disagree on some things.

One thing we definitely agree on: Jack Kirby was screwed six ways from Sunday by Marvel Comics. Just don't ask us to compare and contrast Rashomon and Starship Troopers.

Secretary of Education Rod Paige.... 

...makes his arguments for education reform in this editorial in today's Houston Chronicle. My reaction? Good for Rod Paige!

The NEA leadership is nothing if not reactionary. The union leadership prefers to curry favor with its political patrons in Washington rather than to support innovative measures designed to give teachers and administrators real authority, while measuring student achievement by real and consequential standards.

Secretary Paige's choice of the word "terrorist" was wrong. His decision to stand by the thrust of his remarks is both dead-on, and refreshing.

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