Sunday Thoughts

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Howard and Saddam

Howard Dean says we are not any safer for having captured Hussein. But already we are seeing his capture lead to the capture of others, and the war on Iraq is largely viewed as key in Libya's surrender of its NBC (nuclear-biological-chemical) weapons programs (note that Libya went to the US and UK, not NATO or the UN, and that the US intercepted NBC weapons components headed to Libya recently, etc.).

And it is also entirely reasonable to tie the multilateral talks with North Korea to the war in Iraq. China would not be as willing to unite with the US against North Korea in formal talks if not for Iraq. The situation in North Korea is yet unresolved, but it is moving forward toward permanent disarmament in a substantial way that we've never seen before.

Of course, some of those things are not directly related to Hussein's capture, and there are other ways in which we are perhaps not safer. Maybe terrorism is worse in Iraq now (it is unquestionably false to assert that we know one way or another on this point). "Safe" is subjective in some ways, and unknowable in others.

The point here is not that Dean was wrong in his opinion, since it is merely an opinion, but that he was politically wrong. The point here is that it will seem, to many voters, like the capture of Hussein, the surrender of Libya, the negotiations with North Korea (if successful) are bad news for Dean.

And beyond whether we are safer or not ... last Monday Dean said he "would not have hesitated" to go into Iraq "had the United Nations given us permission and asked us to be part of a multilateral force." It's like Dean is out to prove to the U.S. voters that he is incapable of being the Commander in Chief of the U.S. military. The President needs no permission from the U.N. to do what he thinks is in the best interests of the security of the United States.

I know some would say, "well, attacking Iraq is not in the best interests of the security of the United States." That is beside the point I think, because he has said he would not go in, no matter what, without U.N. approval (the implication being even if he DID think it was in our best interests). But let's assume he meant that in the context of Iraq not being a threat, despite not saying it: how is that any better? So he would send American troops to die (his characterization) when America is not even threatened, if the U.N. merely asked it of him?

Joe Trippi, Dean's campaign manager, was on This Week, and he said their policy is to "let Dean be Dean." Dean's opponents seriously hope they do.

Speaking of Trippi: Gephardt has been attacked by the Dean camp because of ads run against Dean, made (in part) by people who used to work for Gephardt. Gephardt responded he had no connection with the ads, and that it is ludicrous to assert he did just because some of the people who made them used to work for him, especially considering Trippi himself used to work for him. Ha.

Ralph Nader

Apparently, Nader said he may run if Kucinich doesn't get the nomination. Why does he bother adding "if Kucinich doesn't get the nomination"? Regardless, I doubt Nader can get enough votes to be a factor this time around, since it seems like most Nader supporters from last time around are going to Dean.

Slobodan Milosevic

Last week, General Wesley Clark was testinfying in The Hague testifying against Slobodan Milosevic for war crimes. Milosevic called Clark a liar, and then he quoted General Hugh Shelton saying Clark was fired for problems of integrity and character. You never know how what you say may be used. :)

Clark then read a statement from Clinton saying Clark was a good man, and entered into the record. Clark looked almost embarassed to read the statement, reading through it very quickly. It looked like he didn't want to read it, but that he knew for the sake of his testimony, that it was best to do so.

There's no criticism of Clark in this, I just found it to be interesting. This certainly doesn't make Shelton look good, and he better keep his mouth shut for the next year, because he is now the guy who gave Milosevic a defense from his American accuser.


A Newsweek poll asked voters if the capture of Hussein makes them more or less likely to re-elect Bush. Voters, individually, do not re-elect people. They only vote to re-elect, or not. I wouldn't have even mentioned this poor language, except that George Stephanopolous mentioned the poll and they captioned it something which made it sound like they were being polled about whether or not they thought Bush would be re-elected, not whether they would vote to re-elect him.

Right now it is an even split among voters, 46-46, when asked if they would vote for Bush in 2004. But when put against actual candidates, his numbers are much higher: he is in double digits over all Democratic candidates, including Dean (53-40).

Yes, there are still a lot of undecided voters out there, but Bush's numbers increase to over 50% against all of these candidates, where they were 46% against an unnamed candidate. That's right, only 46% favor Bush for President, until you get the most popular Democrat against him, and then they go up 7 points higher. This tells me that all the candidates bring more negatives to the table, in a national election, than they do positives. And that's kinda sad. I am not sure if that says more about us, the media, the candidates, the system, or a combination of it all.

There's lots of time for those numbers to turn around, and polls are often misleading ... but for Dean, it is not a good sign. It's not just that the President has good positives right now, it is that Dean has bad negatives. That's going to be tough to overcome, especially when Dean is not really getting attacked nearly as much as he will be a few months from now, and Bush has been attacked daily for a over a year.

Lord of the Rings

The Return of the King pulled in a quarter of a billion dollars worldwide in its entire run, in its first five days. Only one movie has ever topped one billion, Titanic (which hit $1.8b). FotR hit $861m and tTT got $921m.

Two movies about low-lying cloudlike precipitation opened in five theaters, total: House of Sand and Fog and The Fog of War, earning $84,779 between them. If they combine forces, they have only $999.915 million to go.

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<pudge/*> (pronounced "PudgeGlob") is thousands of posts over many years by Pudge.

"It is the common fate of the indolent to see their rights become a prey to the active. The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt."

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This page contains a single entry by pudge published on December 22, 2003 2:55 PM.

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