July 31, 2004

Garden State

Huh. Dan Drezner is right. This trailer for Zach Braff's film Garden State is addictive and hypnotic. It's as much a music video as it is a movie trailer.

Dan watched it over and over again. I didn't think I would even after I watched it myself. But I do find I'm drawn back to it. The actual movie had better deserve that trailer...

PS - For those who don't think Dan and I are whacked, here's another trailer for the same movie. This one is less cool and hip and hypnotic, but it's also more of a normal trailer and has some actual dialogue in it.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at 10:35 PM | Permalink | Comments Off

Bad Econ

The economic case against George W. Bush is straightforward, and Matthew Yglesias nails it in three sentences.

Kerry can be maddeningly vague at times, but in a broad sense one knows where he stands -- the government should spend more money in a variety of areas in order to try and solve various problems and tax rates should be set at a level adequate to matching those expenditures. An alternative philosophy would hold that tax rates should go down and then spending reduced to bring expenditure in line with revenue. Bush, though, doesn't hold this latter belief.
There is more to it than that, obviously, but when you boil it all down to essentials that's basically what we're left with.

UPDATE: Matt (briefly) responds to my post and makes more good points here.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at 12:14 PM | Permalink | Comments Off

July 29, 2004

The Speeches

Okay, so I failed to keep my promise to myself. I did watch at least part of the Democratic Convention. I saw the speeches by both Edwards and Kerry.

Man. There has got to be some buyer’s remorse in the Democratic Party right now. I can still hardly believe they actually picked Kerry. (And I still can’t believe the GOP picked Bush instead of McCain.)

Not only is John Edwards recognizably a human being, he’s also inspiring. He reminds me why I became a Democrat in the first place. He’s upbeat, optimistic, and wants to help people out. Michael Moore he is not. Watching John Edwards after reading some of Moore’s vile screeds is like visiting a political spa. It’s especially nice, considering my views of the peaceniks, to hear Boy Wonder say “We are at war” and “We will destroy you” and hearing the audience erupt with applause. I guess tough-talking Southerners are only “cowboys” if they’re Republicans. Ah, but I knew that all along. It was the liberals and the left who taught me militant anti-fascism. Not the conservatives. It’s been politically fun and convenient to wallow in pacifism lately if you’re a Bush-hater. I’m glad Edwards can make them knock if off for one minute.

John Kerry hurts me. I yelled at him on the TV tonight. (I mean I yelled at my TV, not that my yelling was broadcast on the…oh, you know what I mean.) It annoyed my wife tremendously, but I yell at Bush, Kerry, and hack pundits on the TV so I don’t have to do it here and annoy all of you. (Sorry, Shelly. You hear it so everyone else doesn’t have to.)

John Kerry is a Politician. I’d give him a 50-50 grade on the content of his speech. Only trouble is he’s such a self-contradictory phony parsing his speech isn't worth any effort. He says he won’t let any nation veto our foreign policy. Excellent. Glad to hear it, John! So what, exactly, was the point of your 18-month whine-fest because Bush more or less stuck to your promise?

Ah, why bother even wading into it that far? It’s only worth arguing with somebody if I have at least a flickering notion they take their own words seriously. Maybe Kerry is serious about not letting Jacques Chirac and Vladimir Putin veto our foreign policy. I certainly hope so. But how am I supposed to know? I was the intended audience for that line, and of course I know he could be trying to sucker me. Then again, maybe his 18-month whine-fest was a way to sucker the left and maybe it worked.

I do not know. But I do know that I do not like him. It’s a good thing for Kerry he’s running against George W. Bush. Because I can think of plenty of other Republicans who could easily mop the floor with his head.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at 8:42 PM | Permalink | Comments Off

July 28, 2004

The Real Iraqi Resistance

Meet the new Iraqi fascism. Same as the old Iraqi fascism.

70 civilians who were going about their day were torn to pieces on the streets of Baghdad today by Michael Moore’s heroes of the so-called Iraqi “resistance.”

He described them this way:

The Iraqis who have risen up against the occupation are not ‘insurgents’ or ‘terrorists’ or ‘The Enemy.’ They are the REVOLUTION, the Minutemen, and their numbers will grow—and they will win.
I know very well what Moore means when he writes the word REVOLUTION. It's not, you know, a bad thing, especially since he explicitly compares the jihad to the American Revolution. "Minutemen," my foot. I think Mr. Mike is actually more revolting to me than even Ann Coulter – an impressive feat if that’s what you’re aiming for.

Those bastards running around the country cutting off foreigners’ heads have so far killed a lot more locals than they’ve killed anyone else. Heck, they killed more today than all the foreigners combined since the “resistance” got started. Most of the governments of the West shrug at all this. They’ll change their entire foreign policy regarding that country just to save one of their kidnapped civilians. I understand and respect the impulse. Really, I do. If I were kidnapped I would want my government to do something to save me. But I must say this: if in the process of saving me another country was left to the mercy of murderous totalitarians, the survivor’s guilt wouldn’t be worth it. I don't want someone else’s country getting enslaved on my account.

Because that’s what these jihadists want to do - clear out the foreigners so they can stomp their boots on the locals. Shouldn’t that be obvious by now? They have already turned their knives, guns, and bombs onto the local population. The taped beheadings are more sensational, but less instructive.

There is no “resistance” in Iraq except that of the brave Iraqis who pick up rifles and face the jihadists.

UPDATE: Iraqi blogger Omar at Iraq the Model has a lot more to say on this subject. Hang in there, Omar. We're still pulling for you over here.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at 4:01 PM | Permalink | Comments Off

What if Kerry Wins?

Dean Esmay has an important question for conservatives to think long and hard about.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at 2:13 PM | Permalink | Comments Off

July 27, 2004

Great Convention Blogging

I said I was going to tune out the Democratic Convention, mostly for my own good, and that's pretty much what I've done so far. But, see, my friend Matt Welch is blogging it for Reason magazine, and I read Matt's stuff because he's good and because I like him. So I ended up getting stuck following the convention anyway. And that's okay because Matt's stuff is great. It transcends its convention-ness.

Oh, and Tim Blair is helping him out. He's wicked funny as usual.

Go read.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at 9:16 PM | Permalink | Comments Off

Kerry: Stop Genocide in Sudan

So far, the supposedly anti-war candidate John Kerry has articulated the most forceful position yet against genocide in Sudan.

I believe in the value of American leadership in the world. Today, a massive humanitarian crisis is unfolding in Darfur, Sudan, where 300,000 people or more may die in the coming months. This administration must stop equivocating. These government sponsored atrocities should be called by their rightful name – genocide.

The government of Sudan and the people of Darfur must understand that America stands prepared to act, in concert with our allies and the UN, to prevent the further loss of innocent lives. The United States must lead the UN Security Council in sanctioning the planners and perpetrators of genocide and authorizing an international humanitarian intervention.

It's probably a bit much to assume the United Nations would sanction a humanitarian intervention anywhere at any time. The UN did nothing to prevent Bosnian and Kosovo Muslims from being massacred by the hundreds of thousands at the hands of Slobo’s regime in Belgrade. The Clinton Administration, after several years of dithering, finally had to tell the UN to stuff itself and intervene “unilaterally” without even trying to get Security Council authorization to intervene. I expect Kerry would have to do something similar if he wins and gets serious about stopping genocide in Sudan or in any other place (Syria and Iran anybody?) ruled by tyrants who deserve some rough justice.

That would be all to the good. Human rights are incalcuably more important than the sovereignty of a genocidal regime. Besides, an intervention against the Sudanese government would fit rather nicely within the contexts of the Terror War. Sudan harbored Osama bin Laden, after all. Sudan's absence in the Axis of Evil is either an oversight or a mistake to be corrected. But hey, there's an opening now that Saddam is in a cage, and if Saudi Arabia isn't going to fill the void Sudan might as well.

The Arab regime in Khartoum has killed millions of people for the "crime" of being Christian and black, and it continues to do so today, using the janjaweed death squads as spear points. The fact that this regime climbed into bed with the world's most famous Saudi Arabian Islamofascist should shock no one.

Any government that treats its “own” people this way is at least a potential threat to nearly everyone else. If the examples of Hitler and Stalin are a little too aged, look no farther back than the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Kudos to John Kerry for taking a stand while most of the world shrugs.

Hat tip: Harry’s Place

UPDATE: I've been corrected in the comments. Most of the people killed by the Sudanese regime have been Christian or animist, but the black Sudanese in the Darfur region are actually Muslim. I've read quite a bit about what went on in the south, and assumed a similar story was taking place elsewhere. Sorry for goofing it.

It's genocide in any case, and as far as I'm concerned the particular ethnic faultline is irrelevant. The fact that genocide occurs against anyone for any reason is all that matters.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at 7:43 PM | Permalink | Comments Off

Left Schism

One benefit of a John Kerry victory over George W. Bush is that liberals and radical leftists will no longer have a common "enemy." They will stop pretending for tactical reasons they have anything meaningful in common.

KerryBushHitler.jpg

I'm still waiting for the liberals to kick these jerks in the ass. But it's not going to happen with George W. in power. That by itself isn't reason enough to vote for John Kerry, but it is one variable in the equation.

Hat tip: Centerfield.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at 2:03 PM | Permalink | Comments Off

July 26, 2004

Readjusting to Reality

Is it okay for a guy who writes about politics to completely ignore the Democratic Convention?

I have no opinions today since I’ve been out of the news loop for almost a month. It’s a nice change, and it won’t last long. Oh no. Give me a day or two and I’ll have plenty. By that time the convention should be blessedly almost over. Should I really spend my time getting caught up on a bunch of nonsense? I’d rather catch up on the important things I’ve missed if that’s okay with everybody.

All I’ve really figured out so far is that some guy named Sandy Berger got in trouble for something that has to do with his pants. I’ve no idea. Please don’t explain it to me in the comments. This, I think, is one of those things that ought to go straight to the memory hole before even passing into the brain.

So anyway, the convention. Who cares? It has nothing to do with anything. It's a bunch of b.s., just like the upcoming Republican Convention - which I also intend to ignore. No real news will emerge. That is by design. Ever since the right-wing put on that freakshow double-headed by the two Pats in Houston back in 1992 conventions are scripted to be boring on purpose. This is probably wise. That turkey in Houston scared me off the Republicans for a decade. No one in either party wants something like that to happen again.

Thank God I’m not a reporter stuck covering these things. I’d rather head down to Rachel, Nevada and write about UFO goofballs in the desert. That might actually be entertaining. My left-wing friend Marc Cooper is covering the Democrats and says (in my comments section) he feels he's being “held prisoner” by the DNC. I’ll bet. He liked my Tunisia photos, said they were a nice break. I understand. The real thing was even better. I think Marc would rather be fishing the waters of Baja. So would I. So would most other people.

I don’t know who I’m going to vote for in November. In the next few weeks and months I’m going to be thinking long and hard about this. I’m going to build two separate cases: The liberal case for Bush and the hawkish case for Kerry. Both strike me as dubious, and will strike most other people as dubious too. But I don’t have anything else to work with here. The liberal case for Kerry is obvious. The conservative case for Bush is equally so. You don’t need me to explain either one and, besides, neither speak to my concerns at this time.

In the meantime, I’m saving most of my Tunisia material for paid work. If you’re still interested in reading about the country, I’ll provide links to those pieces as always. I’ll also post a travel narrative that won’t make it into a column just as soon as I’m finished writing it. So stay tuned for that.

It’s nice to be home. I have a brand-new home office that I finished remodeling just before I left the country. I can eat bacon and eggs for breakfast again. I can log onto the Internet whenever I want. I can talk to anyone I please without worrying about the language difference. I can get a cup of coffee that’s more than an inch deep, and I can sleep in my queen-sized bed where my feet don’t stick out the bottom all night. I can kiss my wife in public without being offensive. And I can pet my cats.

We came home and found baby fish in our pond. Life is good.

UPDATE: By the way, my traffic is down by half. If you have your own blog and you feel like letting the world know I'm back from vacation, I promise not to get mad.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at 8:24 PM | Permalink | Comments Off
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Winner, The 2008 Weblog Awards, Best Middle East or Africa Blog

Winner, The 2007 Weblog Awards, Best Middle East or Africa Blog

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