October 31, 2004

Encouraging signs from Ohio

I made my biweekly pilgrimage to the Heart of the Holy Land yesterday, by which I refer to Ohio Stadium in Columbus on a Saturday when the Buckeyes have a home game. I was heartened by what I saw, and I here refer not just to the mighty Buckeyes' thrashing of the immortal Joe Paterno's struggling Nittany Lions.

Fresh off the campus shuttle bus which drops us just across the Olentangy River from Ohio Stadium, my eagle eye noticed something a little bit, well, off about the river of scarlet jerseys and sweatshirts flowing across the footbridge and toward the stadium. Upon closer examination, I saw that a large quantity of these jerseys were adorned in one place or another with a small blue rectangle roughly the size of a credit card. Looking closer still, one could make out that all these little rectangles were Bush/Cheney '04 stickers.

I almost immediately realized that I couldn't actually simply count how many instances of Bush/Cheney gear I saw--there were also official campaign shirts and my National Review W 2004 cap, for example--there were too many. I started trying to do some small samples and take proportions, in order to make an estimate of their true number. I looked around further and noted not a single bit of Kerry pariphernalia to be seen. There was visible one Mike Nugent for President t-shirt.

As the day evolved, and the mighty Buckeyes' victory played out over their rivals from the east, I remained actively on the lookout for Kerry stickers, hats, shirts--anything so I could assign a ratio of Bush:Kerry support, which, with the number of instances of Kerry gear at zero, was mathematically undefined, and hence somewhat unsatisfying in spite of the shutout. Finally, at halftime, we saw one couple together, wearing matching Kerry campaign t-shirts. On the way out, we saw two individual instances of Kerry stickers affixed to Buckeyes caps.

I estimated that the proportion, based on the sample of people I walked past or sat next to during the game, was something like a staggering 1 in 5 individuals wearing Bush/Cheney indicators. Literally one in five, in a crowd of 105,000 fans. This would extrapolate up to some 21,000 Bush supporters who are enthusiastic enough to wear their man's campaign gear, spanning all age groups and demographics: even the tart-looking cool kids, 18-20 year old college undergraduates, who I would have expected to be a more liberal and democrat-leaning group, approximated this 1/5 ratio of Bush decals on their clothes.

It's quite hard to say how many people I walked past or personally observed during the day, for purposes of extrapolating up the amount of Kerry support which was visible. Supposing I personally observed 5,000 persons before, during and after the game, the four Kerry decals extrapolates up to 84 total instances throughout the stadium against 21,000 for Bush. This number sounds rather implausible, but actually does feel about representative of the frequencies observed. Even if one supposes I observed only 1,000 fans personally, this still yields a total of 420 Kerry decals throughout against 21,000 for Bush.

I was a little bit astonished at all this, having heard extensively how combatitively close Ohio was supposed to be, how equally divided the electorate, and so forth. And yes, Bush had just had a campaign rally in Columbus the day before; but Kerry had been in Columbus just one day earlier than Bush, that Thursday, and certainly it couldn't be too much to expect for enthusiastic Kerry partisans to have held their stickers for just one extra day. Certainly this would not be so difficult as to explain away the ratios observed.

Ohio is a state which loves its Buckeye football, and from the look of the Ohio Stadium crowd yesterday, Buckeye Nation is firmly behind George Bush. This wasn't scientific, and clearly Buckeye Nation isn't representative of the state as a whole, but I expect a solid, recount-proof George Bush victory in the Buckeye state on Tuesday.

Make sure you vote Tuesday. Even if you live in a state which Kerry is guaranteed to win, go vote for W. A win in the popular vote by as large a margin as possible will tend to mute the inevitable Kerry whinges of "let every vote count" if one or more states against him are razor thin.

Four more years!

Posted by JKS at 10:10 PM | Comments (0)

October 29, 2004

Deep al qaqaa

I just watched the Pentagon press conference by Army Maj Austin Pearson about the missing high explosives. Sheesh.

This whole story is a bit muddy, to be generous. Various reports put the amount of RDX at 140 tons, or 3 tons, with the consequent total either 380 tons, or 243 tons of combined RDX and HMX presently unaccounted for. Saddam's declarations and the IAEA internal memos apparently disagree on some of the basic facts, like how much was there and how much was sealed, and whether some of the material in question may actually have been at a separate facility 20 miles away. I take the following primary points from the press conference:

1. Maj Pearson indicated his troops were met by Fadayeen Saddam and Special Republican Guard troops already inside the facility when he arrived;
2. We are seeing satellite photos of trucks parked outside several of the compound's bunker in the time before American forces arrived, so only Saddam-loyal elements could have been there;
3. The Major indicated removing some 200+ tons of munitions, some of which was what he termed "plastic explosives."
4. RDX and HMX are plastic explosives.
5. And, don't forget, the Army says it has destroyed some 400,000 tons of munitions in Iraq, suggesting it was neither Michael Moore's paradise of kite-flying children nor John Kerry's non-threat. One doesn't amass such amounts of munitions under a sociopathic dictator without becoming threatening.

Maj Pearson, undoubtably a very competent officer, fumbled a little bit on some of the questions he received, which could generally be described as somewhere between agressive and hostile. I was a little surprised to see the Pentagon have a Major conducting the press conference for an affair of this political magnitude, as officers at that level are generally fairly insulated from civilian politics and hence unaccustomed to dealing with sharply worded questions from reporters trying to get a "gotcha" against the Commander in Chief. He did explicitly say that some of the material he removed was plastic explosive, but did not emphasize this to the reporters fixated on his refusal to say "I removed RDX from the facility."

I counted at least ten instances where the civilian Pentagon spokesman said "we don't know all the facts yet," or something similar. This whole affair is naked politicking by the mainstream media, and for John Kerry to have rushed his own campaign's conclusions to air about the competence of the Army's effort to secure the thousands of weapons depots in the country based on this fragmentary evidence surrounding some 0.1% of the munitions already secured and/or destroyed is frankly very telling. He's trying to say that George Bush botched the effort, without saying that the Army botched the effort too. You can't have it both ways, and he is implicitly insulting the military's conduct of the early phases of the occupation. This latest insult by him against our soldiers will likely not win him the votes of military families in Ohio or anywhere else in our fair republic, where the population as a whole is rightly and tremendously proud of our armed forces in the Iraq war.

Forgive the use of the cheap pun in the title; I couldn't resist even if a google search on this pun probably turns up 451,000 hits before my entry to the fray.

Posted by JKS at 05:29 PM | Comments (2)

October 21, 2004


I am not what you would consider a Red Sox fan in any serious way, and most Sox fans would deny any sort of association with me on that front. But I kind of adopted the Red Sox as a co-favorite team (along with my eternally disappointing Tigers) during their ALCS against the hated Yankees last year. All I can say to this in my own defense against the inevitable bandwagoning accusation is guilty as charged, more or less, but I really didn't adopt them until after they had lost game 7 of the 2003 series. So call me what you will.

BUT. I said last year that the ALCS was probably the best postseason series I'd ever seen, despite the win of the hated Yankees, and the one just concluded tonight tops it hands-down. For anyone not listening to the filth flowing from John "Manny Ortiz" Kerry lately, the Sox had fallen behind 3 games to none in the best-of-seven series, leaving most of Boston and New England more generally in something approaching despair. They had come so maddeningly close last year against their hated arch-nemesis and yet come up short, and Fate(?) had allowed them the opportunity to play the series all over again a year later. As a lifelong sports fan, I recognize how rare it is for a team to get a second shot at such an opportunity just a year later, and it was frankly kinda sad that they appeared to be heading for an ignominious defeat. Such a rare opportunity, so pointlessly wasted.

Then the strangest thing happened, and Boston clawed out a 12-inning win in game 4 when they were facing elimination. Then they manfully outlasted the despised Yankees for a gutsy 14-inning win in game 5. Then they somehow closed out the Yankees in the ninth inning of game 6, despite a massively overworked and exhausted bullpen, and--lo!--the series was tied at three.

This had never happened in all the storied history of baseball, to recover from an 0-3 start to force game 7. But with all the cruel twists of fate since the Sox won a series in 1918 to thwart their efforts, and especially since they had never--never!--won a postseason series against their arch-rival, surely all they would manage was to make the series respectable and memorable for their scrappy doggedness.

But then they did the damndest thing and they won. Won in a rout which was apparent by the second inning, when Boston had amassed a 6-0 lead and chased the Yankee starter. This preposterous storybook conclusion to the series, which even Hollywood would consider so implausible that the suspension of disbelief could never be maintained, is good for baseball. Good for the game itself, much like Ohio State outlasting Miami in two overtimes in the desert for the 2002 national championship was good for the game of college football.

I unearthed the little temper tantrum of an essay I scribbled right after the Red Sox's loss to New York in 2003, which was one of the very first posts I made at Electronic Countermeasures. I offer it here for fun, and as a partial explanation of how it is I think tonight's miraculous conclusion is actually good for the game.



10/18/2003 Why I Hate Baseball. I love baseball. I have loved baseball since I was introduced to it in 1984, when I first became interested in sports in general. I first became aware of the game listening to Tigers games on the radio with my mom and dad, usually in the living room or on the back porch, and I became a Tigers fan simply because my parents were. They may have been fans for similar reasons, and that the Tigers were the only team whose games could consistently be heard on Toledo radio certainly disposed us in that direction. I think most kids become fans like this, of the teams their parents support, except those kids who become fans of the rivals of their parents’ favorite teams. But those are the bad kids, and I certainly wasn't one of those.

In 1984 the Tigers started the season a preposterous 35-5 and never looked back, so my very first season of baseball started out with my newly adopted favorite team holding a commanding lead all season, with a World Series title seeming inevitable after about the end of May. In October the Tigers delivered on that promise when Kirk Gibson hit a three-run homer in the seventh inning of game 5 against relief ace Goose Gossage of the San Diego Padres; Lance Parrish followed his at bat with a solo homer, adding insult to injury. Larry Herndon made the game's final put out in left field, and the Tigers had made it look easy despite using only a three-man rotation in the series: Jack Morris, Dan Petry, Milt Wilcox. As a new 12-year-old baseball fan, I was completely spoiled, and was inclined to suspect that “my” team was a juggernaut which might never be seriously challenged in my lifetime.

Now this whole baseball thing was kind of a new endeavor for me, as I had been mainly a football fan for several years prior to that—mainly NFL ball, with only the lightest interest in the college game to leaven the mix. In the runup to the 1982 Ohio State-Michigan game, when I was in the sixth grade, I recall distinctly one of my classmates asking me whether I was for Ohio State or Michigan. All the cool kids seemed to have an opinion on this matter, and I became conscious that I really didn’t; it seemed I should have some nominal alliance in the matter, just so I wasn’t—you know—weird. So, acting matter-of-fact about it, I selected Ohio State then and there as "my" team forever, since, after all, I lived in Ohio. So why not? Simple as that, I was a Buckeye.

Although Ohio State beat Michigan that year, I don’t think I actually watched the game; I was really still not that interested in college ball. The first time I remember watching OSU-UM was in 1984, a month or so after the Tigers won their World Series title. Ohio State won that game and went on the Rose Bowl that year, leaving me to generally feel some vague expectation that no team I ever liked would really ever suffer disappointment. I was rather shocked to see Ohio State actually lose that Rose Bowl game to USC by the score 20-17. But OSU had won three of four from Michigan, and the program was stronger than UM—and everyone knew it. It surely would be only a matter of time before they won a Rose Bowl and a national title. Their last national championship had been (gasp) sixteen years ago.

Then the most puzzling thing happened as Ohio State began a long slide. Earle Bruce was fired after the 1987 season for failing to produce a national championship, despite a string of competitive and reasonably good teams (“Old 9-3 Earle,” so called from his consistent annual record). And Michigan began in 1988 a string of some 450 consecutive conference victories, just as John Cooper began his reign of terror at Ohio State. It got so bad, in the midst of a span where Ohio State won but three games from Michigan in a sixteen year period, that when the teams played to a tie in 1992 Ohio States's university president gushed that that had been one of the "greatest victories" in the history of the school. A tie, described thusly.

I graduated high school in 1989, and spent a pleasant vacation week in Chicago the summer before starting college. Cubs fans will recall 1989 well, and two months before Will Clark broke the city's heart, my friends and I decided to attend a Cubs game. I wasn’t a Cubs fan, but I figured that any self-respecting baseball fan needed to experience Wrigley at least once. It was standing room only, as the Cubs were leading their division, and though the game itself was a rather forgettable loss to Montreal, I fell in love with the whole experience—the atmosphere, the enthusiasm, the old-school ball park (still with no lights then). It was all infectious, and I adopted the Cubs as a co-favorite team. I’ve attended several additional games in Wrigley even though I live in Ohio, and I still find the Wrigley experience to be the finest in all baseball. And I realize that a true Cubs fan would in no way consider me a fan, and I can live with that.

I concluded that summer by moving, naturally enough, into the Den of Thieves that is Ann Arbor, MI, to attend Eastern Michigan. I settled in an apartment around the corner from the University of Michigan's "Big House," from where I could hear the crowd and the band on football Saturdays. I could barely leave home on Saturday during the season with all the traffic. All my new friends (such as they were) found my Ohio allegiances amusing and rather touching, and reminded me of this daily as I went about my business between annual season-ending embarrassments. In 1989, 1990, and 1991 Michigan beat Ohio State three times, by a combined score of 277-0, or something like that. Even my friends taunted me, to say nothing of the way the general population of Ann Arbor regarded me as I'd wear my block O Woody Hayes hat. I considered myself a pilgrim in an unholy land.

Once Cooper returned the program to some state of proficiency, the team flirted with national championships (or at least Rose Bowls) almost every year, before again crashing and burning like the Hindenberg against Michigan in the season’s final game, which they did with maddening frequency. In 1993 OSU went into the Michigan game ranked #5 and sporting a 10-0-1 record and was slapped down, with extreme prejudice, in a 28-0 debacle in Ann Arbor. Cooper did actually beat Michigan in 1994 in sort of a consolation game, as both teams had had disappointing seasons and Penn State had beaten them both en route to its first Big Ten championship.

In 1995 Ohio State took Heisman winner Eddie George and the nation’s best rushing attack into the Den of Thieves itself, possessed of an 11-0 record and national #2 ranking. I was sure this was the year for OSU to return to the Rose Bowl, maybe win their first national championship in 27 years. And I had the thrill of watching my first major college game in person, with middling seats in the northeast corner of the stadium. I got to personally witness Michigan’s Tim Biakabatuka run for 360 yards and fourteen touchdowns, dropping a 31-23 turd in Ohio State’s championship punch bowl yet again.

But 1996, finally, would surely be different. New coaches, new approach, much more solid defense, many returning veteran players. The defense allowed only 9 points a game—possibly the best Ohio State defense ever. There really was no question that this team was superior in every way to the 1995 squad. And the game would be played in the Heart of the Holy Land, Columbus, OH. Ohio State had even clinched a Rose Bowl berth by beating Indiana in the penultimate week of the season, eliminating some of the pressure to beat Michigan. This was good, because the string of season-ending chokes against what was often an objectively lesser team had become embarrassing, and Cooper had started to look afraid of Michigan; his 1-7-1 record against them did nothing to dispel that fear.

Ohio State was 10-0 and ranked, again, #2 nationally. The Rose Bowl was already assured, and possibly even OSU’s first national title in 28 years was in the making. Then the best player on the best defense in the land, Shawn Springs—a cornerback who boasted that “two-thirds of the earth’s surface is covered by water, the rest is covered by me”—had a Bill Buckner moment as he slipped and fell in the third quarter, allowing Michigan’s Ty Streets an easy catch for the game’s only touchdown. Michigan won 13-9.

Again, in 1997, #4 Ohio State took on #1 Michigan, with the winner to go to the Rose Bowl. Ohio State again stumbled, losing 20-14 as Michigan went on to claim the national championship. The program more or less fell apart after that, and spent the next four years playing .500 ball. All my Michigan friends found my sufferings endlessly amusing, of course, and I became quite a bitter little man until I finally managed to graduate college and move back to Ohio post haste.

Now somewhere in the middle of all this I stopped watching baseball, and that somewhere was in 1994. It didn’t help that the Tigers sucked all the air out of their own stadium when they took the field, and lost twice as often as they won. But the player strike that year, and the cancellation of the World Series, iced it. It was my first real look as an adult at pro baseball players. I recalled the heroes of baseball of my youth, and the heroes and legends who populated my baseball card collection which dated back to the 1960s. I had thought those guys from the ‘60s were legends, more-or-less rightly idolized, and I had looked up to the modern players as much as I had adored my team. I suddenly looked at modern baseball and saw a bunch of spoiled prima donnas, making a million fucking dollars a year, and walking off the job because they either wanted more money, or essentially had perceived some subtle slight or vague threat in the way the owners were making money, or some similar greedy bullshit. While they were making a million dollars a year to play a child’s game.

Meanwhile the players on the college football teams I liked—I no longer watched NFL ball at all either—were sort of heroes from their play. The annals of college football, it turns out, are nearly so rich as those of baseball, and heroes of sorts are not hard to find. And they did all this while writing term papers, studying for finals, and occasionally finding a few spare moments to date the ladies. Pretty much like my life (minus the ladies, naturally) but with some awesome athletic prowess mixed in. A guy who could run for 2000 yards in a fall semester while carrying a full time class load: now that’s some heroic shit.

Now, John Cooper was eventually fired, and two years later Ohio State—joy!—won their first national championship in 34 years. The drought was over, and even if Red Sox and Cubs fans would scoff at 34 years as a drought, that interval had seemed pretty rough to most of us Buckeyes, peppered as it was with late-season inconceivable collapses. Which both the Red Sox and the Cubs can relate to. The Ohio-Michigan rivalry was back; it was back even though it had once been so one-sided that Michigan fans denied it was even still competitive enough to be a rivalry, which the Red Sox can relate to from the attitudes of unsufferably arrogant Yankees fans.

And so I somehow found myself this year taking my first tentative look back at major league baseball since the 1994 strike. The Toledo Mud Hens had been in the playoffs in 2002, had a lovely new “Junior Wrigley” park downtown, and I had taken in a few games. And then I had done a bit of reading during the off season about the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry, and found myself identifying with the Red Sox fan’s pain when I read one smug Yankee commentator who wrote something to the effect that “the Yankees have 26 world championships since 1920, Boston has zero. Red Sox fans may not like us, but this really isn’t a rivalry anymore. Please.”

The whole snarky tone sucked me back into my college days as a resident of the Den of Thieves. I hated the smugness, and immediately recognized it as what typically came out of Michigan fans, and I kind of wanted something vaguely bad to happen to the author of that sentiment. Or at least his team—I’ve always hated a sore winner. I hate losing like you wouldn’t believe, but I’ve always been a reasonably good winner, finding no need to taunt my opponent. Once your team has won a game, it’s a small small man who can’t feel good enough about the victory without rubbing salt in the disappointment of the other team. Michigan fans, and evidently Yankee fans, don’t share this sentiment of sportsmanship. And while all teams have obnoxious fans, few teams have won so much as to allow their fans the opportunity to be such sore winners, as have Michigan and the Yankees.

So I watched the whole 2003 season, sort of a mild Red Sox fan. I was pulling for them to win the AL East, and loving the Cubs’ run to win the NL Central. And both of “my” new teams ended up in their respective League Championship Series. As anyone who watched knows, we fans were rewarded with probably the best two playoff series in memory. And if ever a team deserved to win the pennant and return to the World Series, it was the Cubs. Or it was the Red Sox. Or, best still, it would be both, and I’d be able to enjoy a World Series matching two great teams, content in the knowledge that at least either the Cubs or the Red Sox would finally end their drought; not both, of course, but at least one group of suffering fans could finally rejoice in the end of their drought like I had when Ohio State topped Miami in last year’s Fiesta Bowl.

But no. Despite the tantalizing prospects for both teams, and the eighth-inning leads which could have clinched the Cubs in game 6, and the Sox in game 7, somehow both teams pulled a John Cooper and dropped games—and prospective championships—they should have won. At least some metaphorical justice could have been done, had either team won their first World Series since the Great War. (Yes, it helps to view sporting events through such a prism of Principle and Justice; considering them otherwise tends to make one less passionate of a fan. And the resultant reduced stress for everyone would kind of defeat the purpose of competition to begin with, so what fun would that be?)

So I finally watched some baseball this year, just enough to make me care about it, have it encourage me to invest some emotionally in it. Baseball repaid me by entertaining me with the two best series I’ve ever seen. But they both ended with frustrated franchises and their fans still stuck in the funk they’ve suffered through their long droughts. I wouldn’t pretend I’m enough of a fan of either the Cubs or the Red Sox to personally share this frustration, but as a long-suffering Buckeye I feel something of a bond with what fans of both teams have endured. It’s just unthinkable that neither team finally achieved their long-awaited championship, and that the Corporate Yankees and the twice-a-decade Marlins go to the Series instead. And that’s why I hate baseball.

Can't wait till April.

Posted by JKS at 06:23 AM | Comments (0)

October 12, 2004

The Roundup

So George Bush spanked John Kerry rather smartly in the second debate. Coming on the heels of Dick Cheney slapping down John Edwards last week, in debating terms it was a pretty good week for the President, who is probably saving still stronger attacks for the third debate than he used in the second: for example, that John Kerry voted against the 1991 Gulf War even after it had obtained UN approval, putting forth his own actions as testament that while John Kerry would talk and deliberate about going to war, he means it when he says last resort: he'll unleash the American armed forces upon our enemies when we pull the keys from his cold dead fingers, or something to that effect.

Couple that with his recent astonishing remarks to the New York Times magazine, equivocating his intended response to terrorism to a prosecutor's response to prostitution and illegal gambling, and suggesting there was some acceptable non-zero level of terrorism which we could tolerate as a "nuisance," and it's been a good several days for the President. John Kerry has been forced to deny his liberalism, however unconvincingly, which will not encourage hard-left types to set down the hash pipe long enough for an afternoon of voting for him. If Kerry has to spend the last three weeks denying his liberalism, even while making strikingly clear his law-enforcement regard for terrorism, which in turn makes clear why he seems to think the war on terror is just the war on Al-Queda, which explains his silly assertions that the war in Iraq is just a major distraction in the war on terror, Kerry is both amplifying and obfuscating his essential beliefs all at once. That means at least we know what we're buying if we vote for the Kerry Edwards ticket on Nov 2, and I'm reassured we won't have 51% of voters willfully ignore facts and believe that the modern Neville Chamberlain really can secure peace in our time in enough states to secure 270 electoral votes for the Massachussets fraud. Will not happen.

Perhaps in some non-serious states like California and Massachussets, and some silly states like Michigania, but if Bush wins Ohio, Florida, and Missouri there is no way he loses overall. The good folks at RealClear Politics, in their battleground states poll summaries, give Bush leads in all three staes, +1.6, +3.5, and +4.0 points respectively. And don't forget that Bush leads in blue state Wisconsin by +5.3, and is tied in the blue states New Mexico and Minnesota. We reach the endgame with something of an advantage.

If you haven't yet read Bill Whittle's Deterrence, you're only cheating yourself. Unless you presently intend to vote for John Kerry, in which case not reading Deterrence cheats everyone else too. Go read it.

I'll make a deal with any liberal out there: if you go read Deterrence and tell me seriously why you disagree, I'll read whatever you consider the most representative and persuasive argument you can find for voting for John Kerry, provided it's not much longer than Whittle, which allows a fairly generous circumference of work. I'll treat it seriously, link to it here for all my conservative pals to read, and post my thoughts on it. Just leave a comment. But the first time I read "war for oil" your source automatically flops into the non-serious pile.

The Wall Street Journal's editorial site, OpinionJournal, features fellow blogger Arthur Chrenkoff providing us a lengthy discussion of the minutiae which are critical to running a democracy, and which happen to be going well in Iraq right under the noses of the persistently negative mainstream media. Check it out, and see why the tide is turning in favor of those who would promote liberty in Iraq.

Posted by JKS at 03:16 AM | Comments (2)

October 05, 2004

surfacing, though briefly

So it's crunch time in the most important election we're likely to face in our lifetimes, and I've been nowhere to be seen for lo these many weeks. What gives?

The usual suspects could surface now and serve as superb excuses for my extended absence, but life honestly is pretty damn good and I'd feel like a democrat if I whined about how busy I am. So I will instead chip in with a tiny little set of remarks on the last debate, and promise to have more exciting stuff this weekend.

The first debate: eh. I considered it a draw, a generally fairly uninspired draw at that. So 2/3 of dentists think chewing sugarless gum is better, and 2/3 of viewers thought Kerry "won" the debate. From what I've read and heard, the claims of "winning" were primarily on form and style, not substance.

The President slouched and appeared tired. He also, unlike the absentee senator, works for a living in between campaign stops. The office of President cannot be as desultorily exectuted as Kerry fulfills his senatorial job duties.

The President appeared annoyed, like he didn't want to be there. The President has had to put up with some pretty stupid criticisms from the left, and an opponent who can hardly be pinned down on most positions for long enough for Bush to even attempt to respond to it. Frankly I'd be irritated with the whole process by now too.

Actually, I am. I'm frustrated that we as a nation have such a maddeningly short attention span and so little sense of history and, further, so little patience in difficult work that we are 30 days to an election, with still a roughly 50% chance of embracing the appeasment policies of Neville Chamberlain and Jose Luis Zapatero. We are but three years removed from 9/11, and essentially it is forgotten. Oh, it's remembered in an intellectual sense, naturally, but we've forgotten what it was about and what it meant and how in those first dazed days afterward we all mentally swore--those who weren't already prepared to surrender, at least--that justice would be done, no matter how long the mission or how many the sacrifices.

George Bush to a joint session of congress on 9/20/2001:

Our war on terror begins with al Qaeda, but it does not end there. It will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped and defeated. (Applause.)


This war will not be like the war against Iraq a decade ago, with a decisive liberation of territory and a swift conclusion. It will not look like the air war above Kosovo two years ago, where no ground troops were used and not a single American was lost in combat.

Our response involves far more than instant retaliation and isolated strikes. Americans should not expect one battle, but a lengthy campaign, unlike any other we have ever seen. It may include dramatic strikes, visible on TV, and covert operations, secret even in success. We will starve terrorists of funding, turn them one against another, drive them from place to place, until there is no refuge or no rest. And we will pursue nations that provide aid or safe haven to terrorism. Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists. (Applause.) From this day forward, any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime.


I will not forget this wound to our country or those who inflicted it. I will not yield; I will not rest; I will not relent in waging this struggle for freedom and security for the American people.

Maybe we all thought he was kidding. Maybe we thought it was just Dad telling us he'd beat up the bogeyman if he ever came out of our closets in the middle of the night, and we felt better knowing there was someone willing to be tough so we could go to sleep. But Dad actually found a bogeyman in the closet and has periodically been beating the crap out of him with a bat, and now we kind of find the whole thing disquieting and wish it could just end so we could, after all, just go to sleep.

In September 2001 we all embraced the notion of a long war to eradicate the enemy who had just bloodied us so badly. How quickly we lose interest. How quickly we set additional conditions for our ongoing support. How quickly we raise the standard of certainty required for action so high that we can't attack anyone without enough evidence to stand up in a court of law or a corrupt and profoundly anti-American United Nations.

The disappointing thing about this election is that so much of what has been done and said has been for the sake of swaying the undecideds. Sadly, anyone who at this late stage hasn't decided whether it's safer to go after terrorists at their house, or just hope they can't kick through the deadbolt on our own front door, is a prevaricator. A prevaricator is likely to vote for Kerry because Kerry is a prevaricator. Kerry may be the second smartest man alive (after, naturally, Bill Clinton), but that just makes it easier to spot possible problems with a plan, and ultimately conclude that all things considered it may be safer to do nothing than to act without complete certaintly.

I much prefer President Bush sending the Marines to hunt terrorists in Iraq, than to accept John Kerry's glib assurances that if America is Attacked, then he will respond swiftly and certainly. Playing lawyerball with the terrorists is dangerous, and does have the ability to get an unseemly large number of us killed, no matter how offended the two Johns may be by the suggestion. Their judgment just isn't sound, and they will err on the side of passive defence rather than the opposite. If mistakes are to be made, and surely they will be, I'd much rather they err on the side of killing more terrorists before something worse even than 9/11 visits our shores, than in making nice with France.

Posted by JKS at 06:32 AM | Comments (0)