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Monthly Archives: August 2008

It’s only words

August 30th, 2008 - 10:16 pm

Deep breathleyAbraham Lincoln’s speech at Gettysburg was expected to be anticlimatic. The man who was expected to set the crowd aflame was Edward Everett, a widely famed orator. Everett’s speech was the day’s principal “Gettysburg address.” His 13,607-word oration began:

“Standing beneath this serene sky, overlooking these broad fields now reposing from the labors of the waning year, the mighty Alleghenies dimly towering before us, the graves of our brethren beneath our feet, it is with hesitation that I raise my poor voice to break the eloquent silence of God and Nature. But the duty to which you have called me must be performed; — grant me, I pray you, your indulgence and your sympathy.”

On it droned for two hours until it concluded with these polished lines.

“But they, I am sure, will join us in saying, as we bid farewell to the dust of these martyr-heroes, that wheresoever throughout the civilized world the accounts of this great warfare are read, and down to the latest period of recorded time, in the glorious annals of our common country, there will be no brighter page than that which relates the Battles of Gettysburg.”

Why was it forgotten when Lincoln’s was remembered? Possibly because Lincoln’s speech had the great virtue of not trying to be the main event itself. It was a commentary on events. The battlefield itself spoke and men heard it.  In a world where action answered action, all seemly remarks would be brief and therefore Lincoln’s remarks were seemly. But today, words have possessed us all, taken on a life of their own, like a devil or malevolent spirit. For example, Andrew Sullivan describes the martial qualities of Barack Obama, which in his view are far superior to John McCain’s, by describing BHO’s prowess in the news-cycle. “Obama’s strategic skills have been obvious for quite a while. He is perfectly prepared to hang back in a campaign, to allow attacks to pummel him and to lose news cycles or primaries to a media-centric opponent.  … America is at war with lethal enemies, its economy is teetering, its people are unsettled. And McCain gave us a 44-year-old former beauty queen as the person who could be asked to take over the White House in an emergency if anything happened to the oldest first-term president in American history. Tactically: daring. Strategically: potentially disastrous.” Perish the thought of a beauty queen at the White House when we could have the news-cycle tested Barack Obama instead.  Sullivan, of course, is not always the best judge of strategy. Readers may recall what Andrew Sullivan thought of General Petraeus in July of 2007:

Petraeus is either willing to be used by the Republican propaganda machine or he is part of the Republican propaganda machine. I’m beginning to suspect the latter. The only thing worse than a deeply politicized and partisan war is a deeply politicized and partisan commander. But we now know whose side Petraeus seems to be on: Cheney’s. Expect spin, not truth, in September.


Who is Barack Obama?

August 30th, 2008 - 5:58 pm

Good enough for government workJohn Fund at the WSJ describes the difficulty in finding out anything about Barack Obama, besides what he has carefully released to the public. Obama has been alternately parsimonious and extravagant about providing information about himself. He wrote an autobiography when he was only 34 years old, entitled Dreams of My Father, whose authorship was described by Wikipedia.

“In an effort to recruit him to their faculty, the University of Chicago Law School provided Obama with a fellowship and an office to work on his book. He originally planned to finish the book in one year, but it took much longer as the book evolved into a personal memoir. In order to work without interruptions, Obama and his wife, Michelle, traveled to Bali where he wrote for several months. The manuscript was finally published as Dreams from My Father in mid-1995.”


It’s nature’s way

August 30th, 2008 - 2:58 pm


CNN says that hurricane Gustav’s impact on the Gulf states has sparked contingency planning among the coordinators of the Republican national convention. Both sides are positioning themselves to react to the political implications of a potential natural disaster. In a recent interview with Keith Olbermann (video at link) film maker Michael Moore said, “‘I was just thinking, this Gustav is proof that there is a God in heaven,’ Moore said, laughing. ‘To have it planned at the same time – that it would actually be on its way to New Orleans for day one of the Republican Convention, up in the Twin Cities – at the top of the Mississippi River.’”

“A senior McCain source said Saturday that officials are considering turning the convention into a service event, a massive telethon to raise money for the Red Cross and other agencies to help with the hurricane. … They are also hoping to get McCain himself to a storm-affected area as soon as possible.  …  Republican Govs. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, Charlie Crist of Florida, Haley Barbour of Mississippi and Rick Perry of Texas — whose states that lie in the path of Gustav, named a Category 4 hurricane Saturday afternoon — will skip the GOP convention because of the storm.”

Tip Jar.


August 29th, 2008 - 8:47 pm

Out of the sun

Right after watching the CGI re-enactment of Richard Candelaria’s 1945 dogfight in a P-51 Mustang with 2 ME-262s and 15 ME-109s, I read Roger Simon‘s observation that McCain was apparently demonstrating a willingness to take more political risks, by choosing Alaska Governor Sarah Palin for his running mate, than the One. “John McCain has once again shown he is willing to, in fact eager to,  move in a positive and (relatively) unexpected direction. He is his own man.  Obama – the agent of change – picked the most conventional of the conventional.” I think that’s only half true: McCain will take risks, but only after figuring the odds.  Those who watch the video will notice that Richard Candelaria took two huge risks in his epic dogfight, once against the ME-262 and another against an ME-109 flown by a better pilot than he was. They were calculated risks; but once taken were pursued without hesitation or reservation.

The parallels between any pilot and McCain are going to be obvious.  He has the ability to wait patiently until his opponent commits himself to a move then ruthlessly strikes to exploit it.  He gives nothing away to clue his opponent on which way he is going to turn. Then suddenly he snaps the stick. A collection of links by Glenn Reynolds reveals a sudden appreciation by McCain’s opponents of his unpredictability. Some are hesitating to criticize Palin’s relative youth and inexperience, lest they fall into the Trap.  What trap? A classic AP head says it all: Analysis: Palin’s age, inexperience rival Obama’s.

But the other piece of combat experience McCain endured, separate from his pilot training, one which every jailbird will appreciate, was his experience as a POW.  Resistance in prison is one of the hardest forms of combat there is. As a prisoner you are always in the slower plane; the guard is always, by definition in the ME-262. A prisoner has only two friends: his mind and his nerve.  McCain survived years of this and some of the skills he learned may have been on display just now. A number of political commentators thought John McCain would be easy meat for BHO. Maybe. Maybe not. Candelaria got the ME-262.


American idle

August 28th, 2008 - 4:52 pm

The gatekeeperThe National Review has a long piece addressing two questions: a) whether examining a Presidential candidate’s public background is ever legitimate journalism and b) what happens when you do and the candidate is Barack Obama. Describing the importance of Kurtz’s look into the Chicago Annenberg Challenge (CAC) the National Review wrote:



August 28th, 2008 - 3:11 pm

The Flying DutchmanThe Star Bulletin writes how  a wooden boat which brought Vietnamese refugees to a beach in the Philippines more than 26 years ago is coming to Hawaii as part of an exhibition.

“The vessel, which has traveled to 48 states, will be displayed at Kewalo Basin Park this weekend as part of a “Freedom Boat” exhibition. It will celebrate the journeys of hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese who fled their country’s communist rule by venturing into the Pacific Ocean on unsafe boats in the wake of the Vietnam War. Not all who tried to escape from Vietnam were as fortunate, and it is estimated that as many as half a million people drowned or were killed by pirates in the South China Sea, according to Madalenna Lai, a Vietnamese who spent four days in 1975 in a vessel at sea with her four children before they were found by an American ship and taken to Guam.”


Putin’s ad

August 28th, 2008 - 12:16 pm

No such thing as an illegal alienWith Iraq fast vanishing from the headlines, Georgia has become a political issue.  It’s outbreak has implicity helped John McCain because it highlighted Barack Obama’s lack of foreign policy experience, as shown for example, by this ad.  Putin, perhaps realizing this, is now trying to blame the Republicans. One of the great traditions established by Vietnam is that foreign dictators get to take sides in US electoral politics.  CNN reports:

“Putin told CNN his defense officials had told him it was done to benefit a presidential candidate — Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama are competing to succeed George W. Bush — although he presented no evidence to back it up.”


The wrong man, sir

August 26th, 2008 - 9:42 pm

There must be some mistakeTownhall links to a video in which civil rights activist Percy Sutton claimed he was asked by a certain “Dr. Khalid al Mansour”, supposed adviser to ‘one of the richest men in the world’, to write a letter of reccomendation on behalf of Barack Obama to help him gain acceptance to the Harvard Law Review many years ago.  Mansour was raising money for Obama at the time,according to Sutton, a circumstance strange enough in itself. Townhall identifies the Mansour in question as a preacher from Islam Studios. A video purporting to show Dr. Mansour exemplifies his somewhat comical style of preaching. However, it seems at first glance that Townhall may have erred in its identification of the right Mansour for the Islamic preacher featured in the video seems unlikely to have been any kind of adviser to billionaries. A search on the Internet showed another  Dr. Khalid Abdullah Tariq Al-Mansour‘s whose biographical details fit the Sutton profile much better.


Shameful honor or honorable shame?

August 26th, 2008 - 2:11 pm

Why can’t I have my cake and eat it?John Kerry’s “finest moment”, according to Bill Ayers, (YouTube link) was the day he threw his medals away. Should we listen to him? Is it possible to even discuss the video without somehow being accused of bigotry? Some have implied that society’s “finest moment” should be the ability to throw the information about what is implied about Ayers, as exemplified by the anecdote he himself tells,  away.  Yet Ayers himself doesn’t cast aside the information, but shouts it from the housetops as in the recent interview. How does one listen, yet not listen to Bill Ayers? The implied answer is to wear a filter where the Ayers story about Kerry becomes a noble anecdote — a kind of modern Horatius Not At the Bridge story.


Drums in the deep

August 26th, 2008 - 12:46 am

Something wicked this way comesNorth Korea has decided to suspend the decommissioning of its nuclear facilities because the United States has insisted on verification before removing it from the list of the state sponsors of terrorism.  This new crisis comes on the heels of Georgia and events in Pakistan. About the only good news is ironically from Iraq. What’s going on? The question is whether we are still in the End of History, at “the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow, and our planet began to heal,” or whether the stars are veiled; a sleepless malice is stirring, and a new menace is taking shape, not for the last time but in our time.

Tip Jar.