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The Flag of the World

-G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

This here blog is a glimpse or two or three at the condition of the 'fortress of our family' through the eyes Timothy Goddard, a Christian writer with an unhealthy interest in politics living in the Puget Sound area.

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Friday, October 01, 2004

We're moving!
Come and see the new and improved Flag of the World at TimothyGoddard.com.
Watergate in Seattle
Well, local politics just got a heck of a lot more interesting.
The Washington state headquarters for the president's re-election campaign was broken into last night, and police are investigating the theft of three computers from the Bellevue office.
Missing are laptop computers used by the campaign's executive director, the head of the get-out-the-vote effort and one that had been set for delivery to the campaign's Southwest Washington field director, said Jon Seaton, executive director of the state's George W. Bush campaign.

Seaton said data on the computers was backed up and available elsewhere. But, he said, the loss creates a potential security breach about the campaign's so-called 72-hour plan, the Bush get-out-the-vote effort.

"Obviously there's some stuff there we wouldn't want our opposition getting their hands on," Seaton said...

State Republican Party Chairman Chris Vance called it a "Watergate-style break in" and said he suspects Democrats are behind it.

"If you're just some burglar looking for computers to sell to buy drugs you take every laptop in the office maybe," he said. "But they knew exactly whose computers to get. They got the executive director's computer and the get-out-the-vote director's computer."
I'm betting my own information was in there, so that makes it a bit more worrisome personally. But other than that, this is, quite frankly, the best possible thing that could have happened to the Washington State Republican party. We've been accused of dirty tricks in just about every campaign since the state began, and now a truly dirty trick has been played--on us. I hope the party is smart enough to milk this puppy for every vote possible. This should demonstrate to every moderate Democrat and independent in the state just how radical--and dangerous--the Seattle-area Democrats who run the state really are.

More local thoughts from Stefan Sharkansky and Jim Miller.
Mount St. Helens just went up, a little. Duane at The Forest For The Trees is covering it, and the Daily Recycler has video. From the VolcanoCam, it looks like it's all over for now, but it may just be the first of several similar eruptions. Reuters has more.
An IM conversation this morning.
Timothy says:
....I know I can do a better job in Iraq. I have a plan to have a summit with all of the allies....
....I'm going to hold that summit....
....But this president hasn't even held the kind of statesman-like summits that pull people together and get them to invest in those states. In fact, he's done the opposite. He pushed them away. ....
Timothy says:
....Now, we have a choice here. I've laid out a plan by which I think we can be successful in Iraq: with a summit, by doing better training, faster, by cutting -- by doing what we need to do with respect to the U.N. and the elections....
Timothy says:
He hasn't even held summits!
Timothy says:
Not even *summits*!
Timothy says:
Timothy says:
SUM-FREAKING-MITS! The man hasn't held them!
Tim's Airforce Guy says:
hey man, thats how we won WWII

Words, words, words
Last night, Kerry proved something I've argued before: he does not respect the true power of words.

This may be because Kerry completely misunderstands that power: he thinks words do what they say. That's why summits and treaties and resolutions are so important to him: if we say something like "hey, Kim Jung-Il, stop making nukes," it will be so. Or, more accurately, he appears to believe that if Kim Jung-Il says "I have stopped making nukes," that it will be so. That is not how words work at all.

Words have their own power seperate and apart from what they actually convey, or mean to convey, and Kerry doesn't appear to understand this. He doesn't understand that the words he used in 1972 had unintended consequences for American troops, their families, and the South Vietnamese. Likewise, he doesn't appear to understand that the words he uses today about Iraq have serious unintended consequences for American troops, their families, and the Iraqi people. And he doesn't understand that the words he uses about our (true) allies have unintended consequences for those allies, from Britain to Poland to Tonga to Iraq. He doesn't understand that the words he uses about North Korea will have unintended consequences for a great many people.

Bush, like many people who do not have a gift with words, does appear to understand their power, and he hammered Kerry on that in multiple ways. Obviously, there was the thinly veiled anger at how Kerry has treated our allies. Obviously there was his incredulous shock at Kerry's naïve plan to meet directly with North Korea. And there was a new message tonight, one that has matured from the (legitimate) charge of "flip-flopper." Bush hammered hard on this new idea of "mixed messages."

This was a good move, because it bypasses Kerry's (absurd) insistence that he's never wavered, pointing out that it hardly matters what his actual stance is, if it looks to the rest of the world like he's serving up "more waffles than a house of pancakes." To Kerry, this shouldn't matter: what should matter is his important, nuanced position that no one understand but him. But to the rest of the world, it matters a great deal.

Thursday, September 30, 2004

Bush vs. Kerry, round 1
I listened to a little bit of both NPR and Fox News after the debate tonight, and heard pretty much the same thing from both place: this debate was essentially a tie. I will largely agree with this, but I do think that Bush comes out looking better than Kerry for two reasons.

First, the race already favors Bush, so a tie is definitely in his favor. Second, he looked better than Kerry on two distinct issues: the idea of Iraq related summits, and the negotiations with North Korea.

Kerry kept gleefully using the word "summit," as if it were a magic bullet that would solve all sorts of ills in Iraq. Bush countered masterfully, by pointing out that summits are being held, but that summits are not going to deter the terrorists in Iraq. Kerry continued to use the word as if it meant something substantial. Perhaps I'm reading the American people wrong here, but I do not think that summits hold a particularly powerful attraction for them.

Second, in the very important debate over North Korea, I think Bush came out ahead. Kerry did himself a bit of harm when he, asked whether he wanted bilateral or multilateral talks with North Korea, asserted in a stereotypically Kerryesque fashion, "I want both." Again, I think Bush's strategy holds more attraction for America. Bush did a good job of pointing out that bilateral talks are what Kim Jung-il wants, but I wish he would have asked rhetorically, "why would we do what Kim Jung-Il wants?"

A final error by Kerry was a bit smaller, but important, I think. He referred to his "simple four point plan," but never explained what his plan was. For news junkies like yours truly, this barely registered, because we know the plan. But the average voter was likely left wondering, "if it's so simple, why don't you tell us your plan?"

Overall, a very strong debate by both parties. Kerry, for some inexplicable reason, was much stronger tonight than he has been since his convention. It was largely a tie, but if either party comes out better, I think it was Bush.

Now, I'm off to check the blogs to the right, to see if they agree with me. You should do the same.
The Washington Grays
No doubt in retaliation for their petulant behavior regarding the Iraq War, we've taken away one of their major league baseball teams, and placed it in Washington D. C. That'll learn 'em.

I kind of hope they don't rename the team the Washington Senators, because Patty Murray will probably think they're referring to her (even if she loses the election). Michael Wilbon makes a very convincing case that they should be called the Washington Grays, after the Negro League team that played in Washington:
The Grays won nine straight Negro National League pennants when the team played here, from the late 1930s until 1950.

Not only was it probably the greatest Negro League franchise of all, but with apologies to Satchel Paige and the Kansas City Monarchs, it was the most glamorous of all the Negro League teams and at its height featured Josh Gibson and Buck Leonard. And if your first inclination is that a 15-year-old kid has never heard of Josh Gibson, chances are you're right . . . and he's never heard of Frank Howard either. I remember Sam Lacy, the great sportswriter for the Afro-American newspapers, telling me that one season in the late 1930s or early '40s, Gibson hit more home runs than the entire Senators lineup.
He's convinced me: the Negro Leagues deserve more official recognition from Major League Baseball than they get, and naming a team after a Negro League team--especially, as, Wilbon points out, in America's blackest city, would be a very appropriate gesture. John Miller points to an online petition urging the ownership to make that gesture.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

That loud sound you heard earlier today was George Nethercutt launching a massive political warhead aimed straight at Patty Murray. The polls up until this day have meant absolutely nothing, because today's the day that Washington State stops being able to ignore the fact that we have a really, really dumb senator--who says inexcusably dumb things that border on evil:
Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., has "a different view of Osama bin Laden," her campaign rival charged Wednesday in a stinging attack ad that uses a picture of the al-Qaida leader and the senator's words to challenge her credentials in the war on terror.

"George Nethercutt's ad is a lie and he knows it," Murray shot back at her Republican challenger. "...My opponent needs to stop playing politics with terrorism."

The ad shows Murray telling a high school audience in 2002 that bin Laden had been at work in unnamed countries "for decades building schools, building roads, building infrastructure, building day care facilities, building health care facilities. And the people are extremely grateful," she says.

"He's made their lives better. We have not done that," she adds.

Nethercutt appears briefly on screen in the ad, saying he approved it "because winning the war on terror means fighting terrorists, not excusing them."
Murray is calling this a "desperate" ploy, and in many ways, it is. Nethercutt has struggled to keep within single digits of Murray, and it's getting down to do-or-die time. But in another way, it's not desperate at all, because this is the most potent weapon in his arsenal, and everyone who has been paying attention has known for quite some time that this was coming.

Most Washingtonians don't know about Murray's penchant for excusing dictators (and apparent inability to read the foreign aid bills she votes on), but they will soon, and that could change the race drastically in Nethercutt's favor. Or, it could backfire--but it's hard to argue that quoting Murray verbatim is "slimy politics."

See the ad here.

UPDATE: Jim Geraghty puts it best:
If you A) think bin Laden's appeal to the Muslim world is that he builds day care centers, health care facilites and roads, and B) are not aware that the United States spends $1 billion a year on Egypt alone, never mind the rest of the U.S. Agency for International Development projects, you are too stupid to be a U.S. senator. Period.

¡Dos, tres, muchos Kosovos!
The Kerry Spot provides a rollicking fisking of Kerry's foreign policy speech at Temple University, and takes note of Kerry's blueprint for foreign intervention:
President Clinton built a real coalition in Kosovo, and now virtually every soldier on patrol there comes from a foreign country.

Except that--whoops! They're still there, along with hundreds of American troops.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Bush to win by 20 points: Michael Moore
Michael Moore has ordered his minions to ignore the polls that show Bush crushing John Kerry into a fine powder and then using him to bake a pie. This is because polls don't call people who only have cell phones. These people, Moore asserts, are more likely to be young. And young people, Moore asserts, are more likely to vote for John Kerry. "Ergo, my underlings," Moore writes (I paraphrase), "step back from that ledge, and remove that homemade hemp rope from around your neck, and give up trying to find the tailpipe on your electric car. I can assure you that those villains will recognize, will discover in appropriate time in the future how stupid they are and how they are pretending things which have never taken place. John Kerry will destroy the infidel Bush!"

Unfortunately for Moore, a recent ABC News/Washington Post poll shows that young people, in fact, are Bush's strongest demographic, leading Kerry by 12 points. If both Moore and this poll are to be believed, then Bush is actually farther ahead than the polls show him. Ain't that a kick in the pants, eh, Mikey?
"If you squint very hard, you'll note that you are actually facing West!"
Chris Suellentrop has apparently bought into the idea that Everything Republicans Say Is Wrong so thoroughly that he's decided that the confidence of Republicans is itself evidence that Bush is in trouble. Sounding very much like the Iraqi Information Minister, he compares Republicans to... well, the Iraqi Information Minister, for doing absurd things like considering campaigning in New Jersey (where all polls show the race tied) and Washington State (withthe potential to pick up a governor's mansion and a Senate seat)! "It is an illusion!" Suellentrop barks (I paraphrase), "Bush is not competitive in Washington, and he has been slaughtered in New Jersey! They do not hold solid leads in Wisconsin and Iowa! I tell you this. It is all a lie. They lie. It is a hollywood movie. You do not believe them."

As evidence for this claim, Suellentrop points to how Bush tried this "aura of inevitability" strategy in the 2000 Republican Primaries, where it worked beautifully and he coasted to an easy victory over John McCain. Oh, wait, no, he focuses on the fact that Bush lost the New Hampshire primaries, ignoring the fact that if Bush does as well in November as he did in the 2000 primaries, it will be a victory of epic proportions.

He's careful, though, to cover his bases, admitting that, really, his little thesis is bunkum:
John Edwards is holding a rally Tuesday in Newark, N.J. That doesn't mean Democrats should start panicking, but it's worth remembering that although Bush's victories in the 2000 primaries and general election weren't inevitable, it's still true that he did win them.

I could pick a theological nit with that assertion, of course, but I'll leave that for another day.
Sign of a doomed campaign #4856
Calling for an end of all television ads.

This sign, like all others in recent days, was brought to you by John "Not in the face!" Kerry.

UPDATE: Jonah Goldberg calls this "lameness wrapped in dorkiness swaddled in wimpiness."
Smashing the right to free association
It looks like Washington State will attempt to become the only other state in the union besides Louisiana to have a "Top Two" primary. This is a terrible idea on its face: if the only state that does something is Louisiana, then you have to figure it's probably a terrible idea.

The funny thing is that everyone should hate this: the Republicans and Democrats, certainly, because it means that Republicans will never appear on the ballot in Seattle, and Dems will never appear on the ballot in Spokane. Greens and Libertarians should hate it, because they'll never appear on the ballot anywhere this way. The only people who shouldn't hate this change are those who don't care too much about the political process in the first place--this is, of course, the majority.

The funny thing is, when all is said and done, people like me are going to turn out better than the average voter. This is because the parties will probably not stand for this sort of nonsense, and will hold conventions or caucuses to nominate their own candidates prior to the primary, giving even more power to politically active types like yours truly, and taking it away from everyone else. I'm ok with that, really--but everyone else should hate it.

Richard Derham has a lengthier--and very, very good--explanation of why I-872 is a terrible idea.

Monday, September 27, 2004

A Modest Proposall
Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels has committed to eradicating homelessness in the next 10 years.

...Nickels’ proposed budget also increases funding levels for direct human services from 2004 to 2005, investing $2.3 million for a new hygiene center, day center, and shelter for homeless people to be sited near the new Fire Station 10. “Despite these efforts, at times it seems like we are bailing water in the midst of an ocean of need,” Nickels said. “A new approach is needed. We as a community and a nation need to stop managing homelessness and start ending it.”

He called for the community to fight to eliminate homelessness within 10 years, promising Seattle will do its part and will take the fight to the other Washington and Olympia. “We’re going to fight policies that treat people like refuse,” Nickels said. “Human beings who need help should not be cut loose and dumped on the streets of any city in America.”

My question is this: What policies do we have that treat people like refuse? Is there some carefully hidden "Garbage clause" in the State Constitution? RCW You.re.Tra.sh or something like that? If there is, I'd like to see it. Sounds like a good time. Indeed, I have a much better solution to Seattle's homeless problem than Mayor Nickels', which will cost very little and require no buildings, services, or vaccinations.

Shoot the Homeless.

Seriously, this is a great solution to our problem, and certainly the only one that has a chance of eradicating homelessness in Seattle in the next 10 years. Just think. If we killed all the homeless within city limits, the problem could be gone overnight. It's not like they're making any lasting social contributions beyond keeping liquor stores and homeless health clinics in business. And word would definitely get around. No longer would Seattle be a Bum's Paradise of comfortable freeway overpasses, liberal politicians, and million-dollar self-composting toilets. But I repeat myself.

If Nickels follows my plan, I guarantee an immediate drop in homeless immigration to the area. And just think--it would take a whole lot less than 10 years to get it done. And he could have a lasting legacy as the Mayor who solved the problem of urban homelessness permanently.
Cross-breeding bad ideas for fun(ding) and profit
Some scientists have apparently cross-bred two terrible strains of thought, and come up with an even worse one: the idea that scientific research is protected by the first amendment.
In 1977, four eminent legal scholars -- Thomas Emerson, Jerome Barron, Walter Berns and Harold P. Green -- were asked to testify before the House Subcommittee on Science, Technology and Space. At the time, there was alarm in the country over recombinant DNA, or gene splicing. Some people feared clones, designer babies, a plague of superbacteria. The committee wanted to know if the federal government should, or could, restrict the science.

''Certainly the overwhelming tenor of the testimony was in favor of protecting it,'' Barron, who now teaches at George Washington University, recalls. ''I did say scientific research comes within the umbrella of the First Amendment, and I still feel that way.''

Berns, a conservative political scientist who is now at the American Enterprise Institute, was forced to agree. He didn't like this conclusion, because he feared the consequences of tinkering with nature, but even after consulting with Kass before his testimony, he told Congress that ''the First Amendment protected this kind of research.'' Today, he believes it protects cloning experiments as well.
This freakish crossbreed looks the most like its mother, the loose constructionism that translates "freedom of speech" into "freedom of expression." Its father, though is just as dangerous: the belief that science is a "higher" pursuit than the rest of life, divorced from our mortal hither and thither, our ideas of right and wrong, and certainly beyond the realm of law. I like science as much as the next guy, but it is not somehow seperate from or better than the rest of human experience.

Fortunately, this little chinese needle-snake may well be eaten by a ravenous gorilla that thrives on snake meat: as the Campaign Finance Reform ruling showed, even if scientific research is somehow covered by the First Amendment, its funding certainly isn't. So now we just wait until wintertime rolls around and hope the gorillas simply freeze to death.

(Via Ramesh Ponnuru)
Washington the Swing State
Matt Rosenburg notes a SurveyUSA poll and a Strategic Vision poll that both show Washington to be a very evenly divided state. As I've suspected, Dino Rossi has the best chance of the major Republican candidates, followed by Bush, and then somewhat longshot Nethercutt--though he has cut deeply into Murray's former doublt-digit lead.

Both polls show Gregoire and Rossi neck and neck in the race for the Governor's mansion, with a significant amount of undecided voters--this is especially good for Rossi considering we are just coming off of a heated (though not close) Democratic primary during which Gregoire was able to make her case with the full view of the media. Despite his underdog status, Rossi is setting the terms of the debate, as Gregoire has informed everyone that she, too is "committed to change". Rossi is very likeable and good at what he does--his main challenge will be to get the amount of exposure needed to convince people of this. If Bush and the RNC put effort and money into Washington, this will happen.

The SurveyUSA poll shows Bush down by only 5 here--the Strategic Vision poll shows him tied, though SV is a GOP polling organization, and therefore suspect. But either way, the race is tighter than Kerry can be comfortable with, and if Bush puts some real effort and money into the state, he can take it. And Washington is a prime target for Bush, not only for his sake, but because he very well could take a Senator with him.

That potential Senator, George Nethercutt, is pretty far down in each poll. But Murray is hardly campaigning at all, while Nethercutt is putting up a spirited fight, and a Bush landslide could take him along. It's a hard road, though, as Nethercutt is from the east side of the state, where there the people aren't.

It will be an interesting election night here, however you slice it.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Another voice crying in the wilderness
Stefan Sharkansky may really be the bravest man in Seattle, after this front-page Seattle Times article on local bloggers. It won't be long now until Ron Sims discovers he's been compared with Robert Mugabe, and after that, I don't know if even parking underground will help him! Shark responsds to his characterization here.
A voice crying in the wilderness

This driver of this car would be the bravest man in Seattle, if it weren't for two things: one, I live outside the city, and two, I park underground.
The gift that keeps on giving
H. D. Miller notes the insanity that is seizing some on the left, as they try to maintain two mutually-exclusive fictions in their own mind: first, that the memos are "forged but accurate," and second, that Republicans are behind the whole mess. As Miller notes:
This entire RatherGate thing is turning out to be better than Christmas. I'm like a little kid. Every morning I jump up early and rush to my office to see what wonderful treat has been delivered by the internet, as if by magic.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

More on projections
My Air Force Guy is a big fan of Electoral-Vote.com, and so he took a bit of umbrage at my semi-dismissal of it yesterday. He pointed out that I had missed what is really the best page on the site, the projected final map, which does a linear regression on all the polls in a state to predict the final outcome. This currently shows a huge blowout for Bush, 318-166, though New York, Maryland, Iowa and Arkansas are "tied" right now. But if New York or Maryland are really tied, you know things are bad for Kerry.

This is indeed a nifty feature, certainly more useful than simply the most recent poll. However, it plays to the human foible of assuming trends--because something is going in one direction, that is no reason to necessarily assume that it will continue doing so. It is certainly a handy tool, however.

This post would have been another mea culpa, acknowledging that ElectoralVote.com is more useful than I thought, except for the "Votemaster's" little stunt today. He gave Kerry a 99 electoral vote boost yesterday by only counting the Zogby polls, not the Mason Dixon poll that showed the opposite of several of the Zogby polls. Now, maybe he didn't do this on purpose, but considering the man is an avowed Kerry backer, it certainly doesn't seem surprising. Zogby's polls always look better for the Dems than anyone else's, and here's a good explanation why. A Kausfiles emailer has some similar thoughts on the type of weighting by party that Zogby does:
If you weight every poll to the same PID [party identification], you will get the same vote. How can you not, when about 90% of Dems vote KE and about 90% of Reps vote BC? Imposing a pre-determined PID weight insures consistency, at the cost of repressing changes in public opinion. In fact, why do we bother doing poll after poll after poll at all? PID, and therefore the vote, will be the same as last time, right?
A small quibble: most polls I've seen show Kerry only getting 80-85% of the Dem vote, compared to Bush's solid 90.