Thursday, September 30, 2004

The Best Thing About Blogger

They are still adding nice features. I hope you like them as much as I do.

One Peeve About Blogger

I wish Blogger would time stamp entries when you publish them, not when you start writing them.

Impressions On The First Debate

The most important thing I heard was that Kerry will not abandon Iraq. This is very comforting, it is honorable, and it reflects well on Kerry's character.

Kerry won on points, Kerry lost on style, and Bush won on substance. Overall I score it a win for Bush, but only because Kerry lost so badly on style.

As far as points go, Kerry made more points than Bush. He was more focused, and spoke better. During the second half of the debate, Bush seemed tired, distracted, and stumbled through many of his answers. At times I was worried he would lapse into the version of Bush we saw in that one disasterous press conference, but he was always able to rally himself.

I can hardly believe that I am going to say Kerry lost on style, but I must. How could someone as tired and distracted as Bush was win on style? He didn't. Kerry had the wrong stuff. Kerry's problem was that he was prosecutorial, not presidential. Bush was warm, humble, plain-spoken and honest. Kerry was arrogant, accusatory, blaming and angry. He lacked candor. He was dismissive and condescending towards our military, our allies, the Iraqi people and the American people. A Presidential candidate can attack in these debates, but he must soften his tone with humility, humor, compassion and respect for his opponent, especially since somewhere near half the country will not vote for him. Kerry failed. We aren't electing a District Attorney. We aren't electing a Special Prosecutor. Kerry is going to have to work with his opponents in the Congress, among our allies and among our rivals. He cannot take this kind of superior tone with them. We could use Harry Truman. Kerry was giving us Johnny Cochran.

As far as substance goes, I have little to say. Bush won on substance because I agree more with him on substance then I do with Kerry. If you've read what I've written here and on comment threads this won't surprise you. It's very hard to say Kerry won on substance when every time he opened his mouth I said, "That's not true" or "That's a bad idea." It's even harder when every time Bush opened his mouth I said, "That's true" or "That's a good idea." I've been following the politics and the campaign closely for a long time. The debate format is unlikely to allow a candidate to change anyone's mind on the issues, especially someone who has studied enough to form an opinion. There simply isn't time. I would expect most Democrats to call the debate for Kerry on substance. Your Mileage Will Vary.

I will say that Kerry seems too eager for the United States to be popular abroad. If subordinating our national interests to others would pay off it might be worth it. When Rome was the sole superpower, it was hated. When Britain was the sole superpower, it was hated. When the Cowboys were 'America's Team' they were hated. Dare I mention the Yankees? The fastest way for the U.S. to be liked is for us to be the 1968 Mets. I'm not sure why Kerry thinks he can buck this basic part of human nature, but he does. I'm also not sure how denigrating our closest, strongest allies and rewarding our rivals is going to work. (And I'm really not sure why Kerry thinks he can buck a 95-0 vote in the U.S. Senate. Was he Rip Van Winkle during his twenty years there?) If Kerry wants us to have more friends he should advocate treating our friends better, and treating our best friends the best. Like creating a Super Favored Nation trading status for our allies who sent troops to Iraq originally (and Iraq itself), a Well Favored Nation trading status for people who sent troops to Iraq now, and a nice new 1% tariff on everyone else.

Mrs. Wince says that the desire to be liked gives too much power to other nations. Nations then gain power by disliking us, criticizing us and failing to help us. The key is to do what is right, not what is popular.

213 Things Skippy Can't Do - The List

Read the 213 Things Skippy Is No Longer Allowed To Do In The U.S. Army.

You will enjoy it. Here's a sample:
145. I should not drink three quarts of blue food coloring before a urine test.

146. Nor should I drink three quarts of red food coloring, and scream during the same.
Via The Gantry Launchpad.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Maybe He'd Only Mess Up Domestically

Hurrah! Maybe I don't have to worry that Kerry will completely screw up. John Kerry shows his inner warrior.
I will wage this war relentlessly with a single-minded determination: to capture or kill the terrorists, crush their movement and free the world from fear.
And he's embraced Bush's grand strategy, too.
Sixth, we will promote the development of free and democratic societies throughout the Arab and Muslim world. Millions of people there share our values of human rights, and our hopes for a better life for the next generation. They are facing their own struggle at home against the forces of fanaticism and militancy. They are our natural allies. Their lost trust in our intentions must be restored. We must reach out to them and yes we must always promote democracy. I will be clear with repressive governments in the region that we expect to see them change – not just for our sake but for their own survival.
Now I just have to read (not skim) the rest of the speech to make sure he won't completely screw up Iraq.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

The America Affiliate of the ISPC: The USPSA

The United States Practical Shooting Association is the American affiliate of the International Practical Shooting Confederation, like the Aussie affiliate noted below. The downloadable rules are here.

Apparently American Handgunner has a IPSC postal match (where you mail in your results) every year. Here are the results from 2003 on back. Here is a diagram of one of the match stages. You start standing in Area A, facing center of barricade with flat hands on X’s, and on start signal, draw, and from Area A shoot T1 through T4 and P1. Each target T1 through T4 is shot at least twice, then you shoot P1 (the popper) until it falls (one solid hit). Only your best two shots are counted on targets T1 to T4. The winner of this stage in the Revolver category finished in 9.11 seconds. Since that is a minimum of nine shots, and revolvers hold only six shots, that includes one reload. The shooter got 41 points out of 45 (five maximum points per shot). Youza!

Friday, September 24, 2004

Arnold Harris Wants To Win The War

I await a Kerry speech which is this good. A sample:
Because we always have been on the side of liberty and the freedoms that liberty comprises. It was exactly for that purpose that the great generation of the American revolution fought their war, with our armed countrymen starving and frozen in the terrible winter of Valley Forge, but never broke with the pledge they had undertaken to establish liberty on this continent.

We face a struggle of great dimension today, a clash of civilizations as it is truly termed. It is not a struggle that shall be won in one year, even ten years, perhaps not in a hundred years. But we must never surrender to the status quo of armed barbarism, gang rule and murder conducted purely to advance the cause of a crazed and warped theocracy or anything similar.

We have in fact no choice. We must struggle to implant liberty, responsible government and respect for human rights throughout the middle east. Otherwise, we must turn the United States and much of the rest of the lands of the west into armed, frightened encampments which, if pushed too far, may opt to strike back with our own very real weapons of mass destruction. Weapons that could burn up much of our planet. Or simply surrender to the barbarians.

Rarely has there been a time when so much of our future depended upon a solid, steady leadership characterized neither by defeatism nor by a foolish assumption that wars of this type can be won by a few strategic blows and without casualties. Whether or not we choose and support such a leadership will determine whether we ever can return to the relatively easygoing America that we knew before the age of terrorism.
Thanks to Dean for pointing out Arnold's eloquence.

Does Kerry Want to Win the War?

The Washington Post takes Kerry to task for trying to drive our allies away. In 1971, John Kerry said, "How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?"

That line was the one of the worst pieces of irresponsible asinine rhetoric I can imagine. Why saddle the many troops in the field with that kind or morale buster? (Sign of a poor leader.) Why hand the enemy that kind of propaganda victory? (Sign of a poor strategist.) Why show a weak hand to the negotiators in Paris? (Sign of a poor statesman.)

That line alone is good evidence that Kerry should never have gone beyond state politics.

Now listen to his sister Diana:
Asked if she believed the terrorist threat to Australians was now greater because of the support for President Bush, she replied: "I would have to say that," noting that "[t]he most recent attack was on the Australian embassy in Jakarta."

She said this of her country (and of the war that Australia is helping us with in Iraq): "[W]e are endangering the Australians now by this wanton disregard for international law and multilateral channels."
John Kerry is singing the same defeatist tune he sang for Vietnam, Nicaragua, the Cold War and Gulf War I. Has this man ever met a war he wanted to win? If so, has he ever given any evidence he knows how to win one?

Compare and contrast these quotes:

"The only thing we have to fear is fear itself." (Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 1933).

"We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender, and even if, which I do not for a moment believe, this Island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God's good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old." (Winston Churchill, 1940, just after Dunkirk).

"Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country." (John F. Kennedy, 1961).

"Yet this much we know with certainty: The desire for freedom resides in every human heart. And that desire cannot be contained forever by prison walls or martial laws or secret police; over time and across the Earth, freedom will find a way. Freedom is finding a way in Iraq and Afghanistan, and we must continue show our commitment to democracies in those nations. The liberty that many have won at a cost must be secured." (George W. Bush, 2004).

"As generous as you have been, we will stand with you, too. As stalwart as you have been, we will stand with you, too. Neither tyranny nor terrorism has a place in our region or our world. And that is why we Iraqis will stand by you, America, in a war larger than either of our nations, the global battle to live in freedom. God bless you and thank you." (Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, 2004).

"How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?" (John F. Kerry, 1971).

"The last thing you want to be seen as is a puppet of the United States, and you can almost see the hand underneath the shirt today moving the lips." (Joe Lockhart, 2004)

John Kerry has shown no ability to inspire us to win this war. He needs to hire me as his speechwriter. I'll toughen him up. Here's a sample:

"In the mountains of Afghanistan, a soldier examines a dusty footprint, on the trail of a terrorist, a killer of both Afghans and Americans. We will fight. In the deserts of Iraq, a Marine scans the horizon, looking for the roaside bomb trigger man. We will fight. In an embassy in Jakarta, an intelligence officer meets with his Indonesian counterpart, exchanging information vital to the capture of a bomb maker. We will fight. In a customs office in Los Angeles, an officer handcuffs a terror suspect. We will fight. On the streets of New York a citizen notices a man taking pictures and making notes of schedules, of guard rotations, and of security precautions. He makes a phone call. We will fight. We will fight on the streets of New York, of Los Angeles, of Kandahar, of Najaf, of Jakarta. We will fight if all our allies desert us. We will fight with our blood, our sweat, our sight, our words, our thoughts. We will fight and we will win." (Wince, right here, 2004).

I ask again: Where's My Cult of Personality?

Maybe this is a clue. Diane Kerry also said, "He responds well to challenges and has the reputation of fighting well from behind." So this is a strategy. If we are losing the war in Iraq when Kerry is President, he'll fight better!

How State Sponsors Gave Al Queda Global Reach

The Belmont Club shows the importance of safe enclaves for terrorists:
His last paragraph is crucial to understanding why the defeat of the Taliban in Afghanistan and the toppling of Saddam Hussein may have cripped global terrorism so badly. Without the infrastrastructure of a state sponsor, terrorism is limited to cells of about 100 members in size in order to maintain security. In the context of the current campaign in Iraq, the strategic importance of places like Falluja or "holy places" is that their enclave nature allows terrorists to grow out their networks to a larger and more potent size. Without those sanctuaries, they would be small, clandestine hunted bands. The argument that dismantling terrorist enclaves makes "America less safe than it should be in a dangerous world" inverts the logic. It is allowing the growth of terrorist enclaves that puts everyone at risk in an otherwise safe world.
Via cut on the bias.

Payment With Our Lives

Maybe we should encourage news organizations to pay money for story assistance. These other forms of payment are truly disgusting. CBS Producer Mary Mapes helped a dangerous white supremacist violate security procedures in the Federal pen.
And this is establishing Mapes as someone who has a pattern of assuming herself above the ethics and even laws that the rest of us must go by - all in the name of journalism. She clearly is as arrogant as Dan Rather. It puts her actions in calling Joe Lockhart in much greater relief, and as part of a pattern, not an aberration. She's willing to make deals with a dangerous prison inmate as well as a discredited (yet somehow "unimpeachable") partisan hack, even calling a presidential campaign to put them in touch with someone who has potentially explosive information about their opposition, in clear violation of journalism ethics, all in the name of getting a story.
Via JunkYardBlog.

The Junior Practical Pistol Sport

The International Defensive Pistol Association is the younger brother to the IPSC. Here's a description from their site:
Defensive pistol shooting as a sport is quite simply the use of practical equipment including full charge service ammunition to solve simulated "real world" self-defense scenarios. Shooters competing in Defensive Pistol events are required to use practical handguns and holsters that are truly suitable for self-defense use. No "competition only" equipment is permitted in Defensive Pistol matches since the main goal is to test the skill and ability of an individual, not his or her equipment or gamesmanship.
I don't know who does IPDA in Kansas City, but I'd like to try it as well.

Well Now We Know, And It's Official

As noted below, Bush is winning the all important Halloween mask sales battle 57% to 43%. And, as requested, here is a link.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

IPSC Australia

Guns are frowned upon in Australia, where gun restrictions grow tighter every year. But there are still those who practice the shooting sports down under. Check out the home page for IPSC Australia. Here's their description of this challenging sport:
In Practical competition, a variety of target types are used (both paper and steel), and there is no set way these targets are arranged, nor even how many targets are used in a single match. A competition organiser creates a number of “stages” (conforming to a set of design rules), each using different numbers and arrangements of targets, to create a shooting challenge that the competitors have to solve as accurately and as rapidly as possible.

The other major difference to other shooting competitions is the way in which the final score is calculated for a competitor. In most other competitions, the score is calculated simply by adding up the values of the scoring zones hit by the competitor. In Practical competition, the time taken is also part of the final score. The sum of the scoring zones is worked out, and this then divided by the total time the competitor took to engage the targets. Thus the quicker the competitor completes the stage, the better the final score will be.

Additionally, stages usually require competors to move from a starting position to enable them to see and engage all the targets in the stage. This adds an athletic component to the test, as well as an intellectual one in that the competitor is required to work out the most efficient manner and order of engaging the targets, taking into account his/her own shooting skills, athleticism etc.

In Australia, Practical competitions are most often for centre-fire pistols and revolvers of calibres from 9mm to .38. Stages are started with pistols holstered on the belt, and most often will require the competitor to perform reloads of the pistol during the stage. Occasionally, competitions are also held for rifle and/or shotgun.

Practical shooting competitors, then, do not train by shooting the set competition over and over again. There is no set competition. Instead they practise the skills that are required to fit them to engage whatever stages a match organiser may throw at them.
I attended an IPSC meet at my local shooting range. Safety is paramount, and the club has never had an accidental shooting in its fifteen year (I think) history. There are two range officers working with each shooter. One follows about three feet behind the shooter to observe safe pistol handling technique. I was very impressed, and hope to try out this sport myself.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Well, Now We Know

On the radio this morning (710 AM, KCMO), I heard that George Bush is beating John Kerry in the all important Halloween mask sales poll, 57% to 43%. These sales have predicted the winner in every election since 1980. The count was in dispute for months in 2000, but they finally determined that Bush sold five masks for 55%, but Gore sold only four, for only 44%.

I'm Stunned

Translation: "You can do a lot in one single day; just imagine what can happen in three months."

Go and be stunned.

Via James Lileks.

This Name Kills Me

As Lileks puts it:

... the best Male Athlete name, ever. Magnus Scheving.

Monday, September 20, 2004

John Kerry Can Help Heal Our Vietnam Wound

When John Kerry either irresponsibly slandered our Vietnam vets in 1971 (my belief) or told truth to power (as others believe) he created, almost single-handedly, a festering wound, as Mark Steyn points out. I propose a simple strategy for Kerry to handle this. Either show his proof that his 1971 testimony was true, or admit that he engaged in McCarthy like tactics by making nebulous false charges against a large group of unpopular Americans without any proof. If he cannot do the former, because he does not have such proof, the only responsible course is for him to do the latter, and vice versa. These choices may be seem impossible now, as they would hurt his election chances, but they would still be the right thing to do. My questions: Are they perfectly possible November 3rd? If Kerry loses? If he wins?

If Kerry Can't Get The Vets, How Can He Get The French?

Instapundit links this Tech Central Station opinion piece: The Alliance Builder? Revel in this irony:
John Kerry failed to build a credible alliance. Unilaterally speaking for the group of 23 veterans represented in the 1969 photograph highlighted the failure. His use of the photograph was based on a fraudulent coalition of just 3 of the 23.
Emphasis in the original. If Kerry can't successfully reach out to Kerry-hating vets, how can he successfully reach out to America-hating citizens of this world?

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Does Kerry Have A Yes-Man Problem?

In the comment thread of this excellent Dean's World post, Steven Malcolm Anderson says:
That's another difference and another reason for not voting for Kerry. President Bush has selected a rather wide spectrum of experienced and knowledgeable people to advise him in this War, from the dovish Colin Powell to the hawkish Paul Wolfowitz (leader of the Evil Jewish, oops, Zionist Neo-Con Straussian Conspiracy) and including Donald Rumsfeld and Condoleezza Rice. They disagree among each other and he listens to all of them. His Vice President Dick Cheney openly disagrees with him on the FMA. He even held his convention in the midst of screaming radicals who hate his guts parading in the streets, and without putting them in cages. If that's crushing dissent, I'll take more of it.

By contrast, Kerry is such a thin-skinned and conceited little snot that, if he runs his administration even remotely like he's running his campaign, he will hire only yes-men, fawning sycophants, to advise him, and will snap "Do you know who I am?" and "How dare you question my patriotism?" at the slightest whiff of criticism. That's no way to run a business, no way to run a government, and most certainly no way to fight a War.
I agree with Steven that Bush does not have a Yes-Man problem. I don't think Kerry is a "conceited little snot", but I'm not sure: Does Kerry have a Yes-Man problem?

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Where's My Cult of Personality?

Joe Gandleman sent me to this post, which inspired this train of thought which I put (in slightly different form) in the comments:

I'm not sure Kerry's message on Iraq is clear, as Ara claims.

For me, Kerry has two problems. The first is that he doesn't want to commit to a stance and thereby lose votes.

I talked to one of the conductors on Kerry's campaign train who talked to Kerry for about a half-hour. He said:

1) After a little initial stiffness, Kerry warmed up and, in fact, you could drink a beer with him.

2) Kerry had a good understanding of the Amtrak problems. (What else would a conductor talk about?)

3) Kerry was highly critical of Norman Mineta's (the Bush Administration) approach.

4) Kerry would not say what he would do differently, even when asked repeatedly.

As for the second, maybe Kerry is being sound-bitten to death, but he can't seem to manage his message. Given the sound bites, he certainly seems to have changed his mind several times by now. Or maybe the problem is that the Democratic party is still horribly split on Iraq.

It sounds like Kerry's focus is on "bringing the boys home." Bush's focus is on victory. My desire is for victory followed by a nice long cooperative security arrangement with Iraq like we've had with Germany and Japan.

Frankly, Kerry seems to be replaying Vietnam, the Contras and the Cold-War. And he sounds like he wants to make all the same mistakes in Iraq that he made during the Cold War. When is Kerry going to support freedom and liberty? When will he embrace the historic Democratic emphasis on human rights and freedom, for which America will spend both blood and lots of treasure? My examples are Roosevelt (anti-Nazism, anti-colonialism), Truman, Kennedy and Johnson (anti-Nazism, anti-Communism), and Carter (anti-Shah, anti-Communism). Remember, Carter started the big defense buildup that Kerry ran against in 1984. Kerry complains about the 200 billion dollar cost which pales in comparison to Truman's Marshall plan. It pales in comparison to Carter's defense buildup.

I've left out Clinton, not because he wouldn't have spent both blood and lots of treasure, but because, although he did have the chance, he didn't have the necessary wake up call.

I don't want the US to become France or Germany (feeble military, lots of diplomats, plenty of money to buy votes). How horribly decadent. The Kerry trend is not my friend.

The Bush foreign policy is more like those of all the Democratic Presidents I mentioned than Kerry's. When will Kerry get fired up and champion the muscular, involved, proactive America of his Democratic forebears?

I'm looking for, "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself." Nice soundbite! Or maybe, "Ask not what your country can do for you..." Instead I get whining which boils down to "How come we have to pay all the money and make all the sacrifices?" All over a war which is actually low-cost (historically speaking) in both blood and treasure.

Why can't I get a Cult of Personality, here, instead this long-faced dolorous nuance master?

Monday, September 06, 2004

Mrs. Wince Says #3

Mrs. Wince, "I need to marinate some vegatables, since I have a husband who wants to grill and some vegtables which are a-withering in the fridge. If they were a-mouldering I'd throw them away, but since they are a-withering I'll feed them to you."

Wince, "Good."

Mrs. Wince, "No, not good; if they were good I'd have to wait a week."

LATWTTER (Laughing All The Way To The Emergency Room)