The California Yankee looks at John Kerry’s dismal support for our most modern weapons systems.
And while I don’t normally link to campaign sites, you can see Bush’s rather effective TV attack ad here.
Today’s weirdest news item:
A Hartland man was treated at a Pittsfield hospital after he nailed himself to a cross. The 23-year-old man apparently was trying to commit suicide Thursday evening in his living room, the Bangor Daily News reported.
Somerset County Sheriff Barry DeLong said Monday that no charges will be filed. “There is no crime here,” he said.
Police said the man appeared delusional and told them he had been “seeing pictures of God on the computer.” He told them he had not seen the hit movie “The Passion of the Christ,” which depicts the Crucifixion of Jesus.
Lt. Pierre Boucher said the man took two pieces of wood, nailed them together in the form of a cross and placed them on the floor. He attached a suicide sign to the wood and then proceeded to nail one of his hands to the makeshift cross using a 14-penny nail and a hammer.
“When he realized that he was unable to nail his other hand to the board, he called 911,” Boucher said.
He had one hand nailed to the board before he realized it wouldn’t be free to nail in the other one?
I missed this one over the weekend — an open letter to Osama.
A Spaniard looks at what Sunday’s election means.
Well, the good guys lost a round in Spain. Don’t act too shocked
Some thoughts on Spain’s election tonight. But today? Just too damn busy to blog.
I haven’t seen this item anywhere else.
There’s an uprising going on in the Iranian city of Fereydunkenar:
The demonstrations began some hours ago. Fereydunkenar is a small town in the northern province of Mazandaran. The people attacked and were able to liberate a building used by the Islamic Republic’s security forces (Sentry Post #2). They then started moving to the city of Babolsar, but were soon confronted by Mazandaran’s provincial security forces. They’ve been pushed back into Fereydunkenar and the latest news I’ve heard is that the small town is now divided between the rebels and the security forces and the scene of fierce street battles.
At least 5 people have been killed and scores injured.
Click here for pictures.
I tried to read the latest David Ignatius column all the way through. Really I did. Here’s how far I got:
The Bush administration’s new initiative to encourage democracy and reform in the Arab world has all the solidity of a hot-air balloon. It’s floating grandly toward Planet Arabia, while down below the people who would be affected by it are variously taking potshots, running for cover or scratching their heads in confusion.
Are we really going to make this mistake again? To state what should be obvious after the reversals of the past year in Iraq: The idea of Arab democracy is meaningless unless it begins at home, driven by an Arab agenda for change, rather than by outsiders.
He’s trying to make a good point. And he’s trying to make it well.
But part of me is so angry after yesterday’s bombing, that all I could think was, “Isn’t it time we made that American sentiment ‘Live free or die’ into a goddamn ultimatum?”
I’m not proud of that thought; I know, logically, it’s an oxymoron. And yet. . .
Lileks on Madrid:
Darren Copeland, the Colorado Conservative, notes this about yesterday’s attack on Madrid:
Today is 3-11…two-and-a-half years to the day since 9-11. That figures to 911 days since 9-11.
Conspiratorial? Yes, but very interesting.
I don’t play numerology games — but that doesn’t mean al Qaeda doesn’t.
I could kiss Charles Krauthammer right on the mouth for coining the phrase “shooting French in a barrel.”
After that lede, then he gets mean.
No, there wasn’t really a contest. Yesterday, however, when I asked for chicken soup recipes, I got a bunch of great replies. But there can be only one. And since Melenie Lambert is my favorite Jewish mother, her recipe had to be the winner. So
I think Bill meant to type a “dr” instead of a “th”. Or maybe it’s just me.
At least 190 people are dead in Madrid, and another 1,500 are wounded. Ten bombs, exploding near-simultaneously on four different commuter trains. It’s the kind of job that just screams “al Qaeda.” Not that any screaming was necessary
Thoughts later on the Madrid bombing.
Short version: It’s all about killing infidels.
Light blogging today — Melissa is home sick. Anyone have a great recipe for chicken soup?
I haven’t said mcuh about Aristide’s exile from Haiti, because I didn’t know what to say. Fortunately, we have Ralph Peters to capture the tragedy of that nation — and the Franco-American involvement — for us:
We should have let him hang.
That sounds cruel, of course. But we consistently focus on the leader’s rights and forget the population’s suffering. Our intervention (supported by France, which is always a bad sign) saved one life – Aristide’s – at a potentially terrible cost to a country already ravaged by poverty, misrule, AIDS, gang violence and civil war.
We simply delayed a resolution. Haiti is, again, on hold. We’re arguing that power must be shared and compromises reached. In effect, this means we’re backing Aristide’s supporters: They were on the brink of a clear and incontestable defeat; we kept them on life-support.
This isn’t meant to praise the rebels. There’s little to choose between the various factions – thugs, crooks and demagogues rule on all sides. But unless we intend to remain in Haiti and oversee a neocolonial reconstruction of the country (desirable, but unlikely), the best hope for the Haitian people would have been a decisive win by either side. Unattractive though the resulting government would have been, at least it would have had a winner’s authority.
Instead, our good intentions have guaranteed continued strife and violence. Aristide uses his exile to foment further dissension, dreaming that the United Nations will return him to power as the United States once did. Conspiracy theories abound, in Port au Prince, on the Potomac and around the world. And we have ourselves to blame.
Recovering flatlanders should know better than to make fun of mountain weather. Yesterday, about an hour before lunch and after four days of gorgeous springtime temperatures, I wrote,
A while back, I observed that one of John Kerry’s early general-election strategies is to try and preemptively stop GOP criticism by loudly decrying “negative attacks!” at every opportunity.
Turns out, I didn’t know the half of it. Check out the sheer vitriol in Kerry’s words today at a Chicago rally:
“Let me tell you, we’ve just begun to fight,” Kerry said. “We’re going to keep pounding. These guys are the most crooked, you know, lying group I’ve ever seen. It’s scary.”
Kerry’s spokesman, David Wade, then turned around and accused Kerry’s opponents of being over the top:
“The Republicans have launched the most personal, crooked, deceitful attacks over the last four years,” Wade said. “He’s a Democrat who fights back.”
Now, far be it from me to be overly-critical of pointed language in politics, but this is some seriously harsh and ad hominem stuff.
That kind of rhetoric has been par for the course in the Democratic primaries this year, but can you imagine the media outcry if Bob Dole had said the same thing about the Clinton Administration? Katie Couric would lead every half-hour of the Today show for the next six months with ritual denunciations of “mean-spirited” and “nasty” Republican “smear” campaigns. At the very least, the GOP candidate would be browbeaten into a humiliating public apology. I see no signs thus far of any such reaction to Kerry.
When I first posted about Kerry’s tactics, I surmised that in today’s more open media climate (where, unlike in 1996, Fox News, Drudge, and the Blogosphere are on the watch), Kerry wouldn’t be able to get away with making these extreme attacks without media criticism. Nearly a month later, I have to wonder.
Just what will it take before a major, non-conservative media figure and/or outlet describes Kerry’s charges as “mean” or “nasty”, without the ritual reference to “both sides,” particularly when the Bush side’s rhetoric doesn’t even register on the vitriol scale compared to Kerry’s?
If not this, then what? Is there anything that Kerry could say that’s worthy of media criticism, or even scrutiny?
We’ve had four warm days in a row, and that means two things here in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains: it’s time to do a little (a lot, really) spring cleaning on the VodkaHome; and, now that it feels like spring, we probably won’t see any more snow here until at least Friday.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some porcelain kitties to dust.
The election hasn’t even been held yet, and already Vladimir Putin has named his new cabinet:
Putin retained the cabinet’s strongest advocates of market reforms and left the military and internal-security forces in the hands of fellow KGB alumni. He removed entrenched ministers left from Boris Yeltsin’s presidency in favor of his own loyalists and installed a close aide in the office of the new prime minister.
If you ask me, the cabinet sounds pretty damn good. Let me explain.
If Russia is ever going to become a fully modern nation — and let’s hope like hell it does — it’s going to need two things:
1) More real economic freedom.
2) A strong hand to keep everything from blowing up before freedom sinks in.
And don’t let the KGB bogeyman scare you. Back in the bad old days, it was Leonid Brezhnev’s KBG who tried to put Mikhail Gorbachev in power. They failed on the first attempt — and we got the brief gerontocracy of Konstantin Chernyenko. After he died, the KGB finally got their man as General Secretary.
And why would the KGB want Gorby? He wasn’t a spook — he was an old party hack best known for some minor agricultural reforms. And that’s exactly why they wanted him.
The KGB, better than any other body in the old USSR, knew that reform was needed if the country was going to survive. They saw the future — that was their job, after all — and it was bleak. Old Splotchy looked like the best bet to reform the government enough to survive, but not so much that the Party would fall from power.
The fact that they ended up wrong on both counts doesn’t change the fact that the KGB knew the value of reform.
So when you see that Putin — himself an old KGB hand — has appointed more of his old cronies to power, you might breathe a small sigh of relief. We might not get along with them very well, we might have good reason to distrust them, but in many ways they’re the best hope Russia has right now.
Captain Patti, the “sweetest woman on the planet,” is in Baghdad.
Anne Applebaum succinctly describes what’s wrong with (what’s left of) Russia’s democracy:
What is really missing in Russia is not just a political opposition but the machinery needed to create one: yes, free media, but also politically independent businessmen willing to provide the finance, politically savvy people willing to work for the president’s defeat without fear of reprisal, and politically educated voters who feel they have a reason — other than a desire for cheap groceries — to turn up at a polling booth. Not all these elements are equally abundant in every mature democracy, including ours. But they are sufficient to ensure that elections are, most of the time, genuine contests between at least two plausible political parties.
Is there a cheap solution? Maybe:
Our ability to foster the growth of a Russian or Iraqi political culture, complete with independent businessmen, independent journalists, independent election officials and, above all, voters who do not still retain some fear of independent voting, is extremely limited. Nevertheless, there are minor ways we can influence the process, as our experience with Russia should tell us. Clearly the selling of democracy — through the provision of scholarships for journalists, seminars for judges, textbooks for lawyers — shouldn’t stop once a new democracy begins to hold elections. The tools of “democracy promotion” and education aren’t powerful but they are, by foreign policy standards, quite cheap. It will cost a lot less to teach Iraqi schoolchildren about their new bill of rights than it would to send in the Army and Marines again 10 years from now.
Anyone who thinks George Bush has an easy road to reelection is required to read today’s Robert J. Samuelson twice.
From This is London:
The Washington sniper, John Allen Muhammad, has today been sentenced to death for his role in a killing spree that left 10 people dead.
As expected, Judge LeRoy Millette confirmed last November’s guilty verdict and death sentence by a jury and brushed aside Muhammad’s appeal, which had argued his conviction was based on guesswork and emotion, rather than facts and law.