October 31, 2004
Friedman endorses George W Bush

Thomas Friedman in today's column says his employer won't allow him to endorse any candidate for President, so he offers this advice instead:

Vote for the candidate who embodies the ethos of George H. W. Bush - the old guy. Vote for the man who you think would have the same gut feel for nurturing allies and restoring bipartisanship to foreign policy as him. Vote for the man you think understands the importance of facing up to our fiscal responsibilities for the sake of our children. And vote for the man who has the best instincts for balancing realism and idealism and the man who understands the necessity of using energetic U.S. diplomacy to make Israel more secure - by helping to bring it peace with its Arab neighbors, not just more tours from American Christian fundamentalists.
Let us decipher this column a clef point by point to figure out who Friedman wants us to vote for.

"Nurturing allies"
George W. Bush assembled a coalition of more than 30 nations to liberate Iraq, including Britain, Australia, Italy, Spain, Poland, the Netherlands and South Korea. John Kerry dismissed this coalition as a "trumped-up, so-called coalition of the bribed, the coerced, the bought, and the extorted." Kerry's administration-in-waiting denigrated interim Iraqi leader Iyad Allawi a "puppet of the United States". When the U.S. recruited Afghan tribal leaders as allies in the fight against the Taliban, Kerry derided this alliance as "outsourcing" the job of capturing Bin Laden.
Advantage Bush

"Restoring bipartisanship to foreign policy"
On the Senate Resolution of January 12, 1991 authorizing the first Gulf War, 42 Republicans and 10 Democrats voted YEA, 47 Democrats (including John Kerry) voted NAY. In the October 2002 Senate Resolution to authorize military action against Iraq, 77 YEA, only 23 Democrats voted NAY.
Advantage Bush

"Facing up to our fiscal responsibilities for the sake of our children"
George W Bush favors "Voluntary Personal Retirement Accounts for Younger Workers" Kerry does not.
Advantage Bush

"helping bring peace [between Israel and] its Arab neighbors"
George W Bush ousted Saddam Hussein, who was the biggest obstacle to peace in the Arab world, a man who lobbed missiles at Tel Aviv in 1991 and who paid rewards to the families of suicide bombers. Kerry opposed Saddam's overthrow. Interim Iraqi Premier Iyad Allawi, on the other hand, shook hands with the Israeli Foreign Minister at the UN last month.
Advantage Bush

Friedman concludes:

Yes, next Tuesday, vote for the real political heir to George H. W. Bush. I'm sure you know who that is.
Yes, Tom, we do.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 09:10 AM
October 29, 2004
Osama bin watching Fahrenheit 911?

Osama bin Laden's new video, which just aired on Al Jazeera, borrows heavily from Michael Moore:

Usama bin Ladin appeared on Aljazeera television on Friday accusing US President George W. Bush of deceiving the American people.

In an address just days ahead of the US presidential election, bin Ladin also said the US administration resembled "corrupt" Arab governments.

He accused Bush of reacting slowly to the September 11 attacks, saying: "I never thought that the supreme leader would leave 50,000 of his people in the two towers to face the terrifying events alone at the time they were in need for him."

But Osama stops short of endorsing either major candidate:
Refering to next week's elections, he told Americans: "Your security is not in the hands of (Democratic candidate John) Kerry or (President George W.) Bush or al-Qaida. Your security is in your own hands ...."

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 01:52 PM
The truth comes out

Haliburton really is evil. This radio ad tells the truth. (written by Frank J., read by Scott McCollum).

And if you want more reasons to vote for John Kerry be sure to listen to the mysteriously overlooked Bush-Kerry debate segment, available exclusively from Frank and Scott.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 11:42 AM
Letter from Jerusalem, Oct. 29

My last letter ended with the comment that there are so many scenarios (beginning with the Knesset vote in favor of removing Jewish settlements from Gaza) that they make it foolish to try a detailed prediction. Twelve hours later I heard for the first time news of Arafat's deteriorating physical condition. Now he has left Palestine on his way to Paris.

I had not thought about that, but it raises numerous possibilities:

Changes in the Palestinian leadership seem likely. Even if Arafat lives, he may never return, or he may not be in a condition to lead.

There may be a period of greater chaos than presently in the Palestinian Authority. The outcome of political or violent struggle for control may be the victory of the old guard (ie individuals who came with Arafat from overseas in 1993); a new leadership anxious to reach an accord with Israel; a leadership that adheres to violence as the only option against Israel; or a continuation of corruption at the summit, a number of gangs who compete for control over cities and neighborhoods, and a religious fanaticism that justifies maximum possible violence against Israelis, Jews, Americans etc.

For Israelis, this may put the whole issue of disengagement on hold, against the chance that a Palestinian leadership will emerge with whom Israel can arrange a smooth turnover of areas in Gaza, as part of larger accommodations. This can neutralize the demands for a referendum within Israel, keep the National Religious Party and all of Likud within Sharon's government. If there is a chance for some kind of accommodation with Palestinians, it will also provide an opportunity for the Israeli Labor Party to put its house in order and seek to become an attractive political alternative. Currently Labor suffers from the dominance of intifada on the agenda, and its lack of an attractive alternative to Sharon's for dealing with it.

Also for Israelis, Arafat's departure reduces the importance of the American election. If all may be a new game in this part of the Middle East, it is impossible to predict either Kerry's or Bush's responses. Hopefully, any American administration will pause to learn before acting. Since it is impossible to predict what will happen in Palestinem it is impossible to predict how one American administration or another would act, so Israelis' preference for one candidate or another may become less clear than recent surveys have indicated.

It is still not a time for predictions. Who knows what will happen in the next 12 hours?

Posted by Ira Sharkansky at 11:25 AM
October 28, 2004
Springsteen in Madison

Bruce Springsteen was in Madison, Wisconsin today. I also saw Springsteen in Madison -- almost 24 years ago, when I was a UW freshman, Ronald Reagan was the newly inaugurated President and most of the college students who saw Springsteen today weren't even born yet.
The best moment of that evening was when he sang "Cadillac Ranch", from the then newly released The River, and he got to the line about "Drivin' alone through the Wisconsin night".

Something tells me that that Springsteen concert was a lot more fun than today's was.

UPDATE: My friend Tim, who I went to the 1981 Springsteen concert with, e-mails:

If you recall, we had the worst seats in the house that night. When they got to the encore we said "screw this" and snuck our way down to the stage. Great show. I saw him again last year but it wasn't quite the same.
The only other time I went to a Springsteen concert was when Mrs. Shark and I saw him at the Oakland Coliseum in 1999. He was definitely better in 1981. Or maybe I was more impressionable.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 05:43 PM
Q&A with Baghdad Jim
I saw Seattle's favorite bug-eyed street corner lunatic/Congressman, "Baghdad Jim" McDermott, at a community forum in Seattle last night. He made a number of very interesting comments that are worth sharing.

1. "When our kids go to Europe they all sew maple leafs in their packs because they're afraid to be seen as Americans"

Perhaps some do, but is it true that they all do? Or does the Congressman shape his world view only by listening to people who are ashamed of being Americans?

2. "We killed 25,000 Iraqi civilians"

I called the Congressman's Seattle office to ask where he got this number from, and the most accurate citation his spokeswoman could give me was to "go look in the newspaper". His Washington DC office wasn't any more specific. The anti-war website IraqBodyCount.net estimates an upper bound of 16,329 Iraqi civilian deaths from the invasion through today. Many of these deaths are attributable not to U.S. and coalition forces, but to the "insurgents" (car bombs, mortars, etc.). Perhaps when the Congressman says "we", he includes himself among the insurgents.

3. McDermott also mentioned that the number of civilian casualties has increased since the U.S. handed control over to the interim government. I asked the Congressman if he doesn't have confidence in the interim government would he rather put Saddam Hussein back in power? He went off on a rambling speech about how the President "lied" and that he, Jim McDermott, served in Vietnam. I interrupted him to say that he wasn't answering my question and I didn't ask about Vietnam. McDermott is and always was opposed the war, so did he want to put Saddam Hussein back in power? He became very angry and said "That's a stupid question. Maybe you should ask my opponent that question" Stupid question, perhaps, but he never answered it. Instead he said he objected to the war to remove Saddam and that There are lots of bad dictators in the world. We can't just go around removing dictators we don't like. It would be like me punching the lady over there because she was thinking bad thoughts.. He has a point, but I guess it should depend on how many hundreds of thousands of people the "lady over there" has to kill before the Congressman thinks it's okay to punch her.

4. Another person in the audience asked what the Congressman had ever done for his district. His answer: "The University of Washington is Number One in Public Funding. Number One."

When I called the Congressman's Seattle office for a definition and citation of "Number One in Public Funding", the spokeswoman suggested that I look it up on google. The Washington D.C. office was a little more helpful in explaining that the UW is "Number one for public colleges for federal grants". A spokesman for the UW explained further that "The University of Washington is the number one recipient of federal research grants among public universities, and has been for over twenty years". The other UW, my alma mater the University of Wisconsin, also routinely claims to be "the largest receiver of federal funding for research", so it all depends on what you count to be Number One.

In any event, the UW spokesman also indicated that "These grants are awarded in a competitive, peer-review process and it's hard to make the argument that it has very much to do with anything that Congressman McDermott has done.".

Baghdad Jim McDermott -- street corner lunatic or valuable public servant? We report, you decide.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 11:51 AM
Arafat Death Watch

Yassir Arafat is being airlifted out of Ramallah for treatment in a certain foreign capital. Before you peek at the link, see if you can guess which country would volunteer to help extend the life of the decrepit terrorist leader.

Put your guess in the comments, but only if you haven't already seen this reported.

Now you can look. The answer is here.

Figures, doesn't it?

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 10:05 AM
October 27, 2004
Arafat Death Watch

These are the newsflashes posted in the last few hours at Ha'aretz. Arafat is not a well man, assuming he's even still alive. The conflicting reports over the succession suggest the post-Arafat power struggle may already be well underway.

00:36 Al-Jazeera: Arafat names three-man committee to take over in his absence
00:53 Three-man team to run affairs in Arafat`s absence includes Abu Ala, Abu Mazen and parliament head Salim Zaanoun
01:00 Emergency medical team from Egypt to arrive in Ramallah in coming hours to treat Arafat
01:13 Israeli officials speculating that Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat suffered a stroke
01:24 Arafat spokesman Nabil Abu-Rudeineh denies reports that Arafat appointed 3-man committee to act in his absence
01:37 Abu-Rudeineh: The situation is stable now, he [Arafat] is in stable condition, but he needs more rest, more medical care
01:41 White House spokesman Scott McClellan says U.S. officials monitoring Arafat`s situation
02:00 Saeb Erekat: Arafat`s situation has improved; his situation is stable
02:01 Some 150 people, mainly journalists, gathered outside Arafat`s compound in Ramallah
02:35 Palestinian cabinet minister Azzam al-Ahmad: Arafat is in stable condition, but there is no improvement

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 05:53 PM
Letter from Jerusalem, Oct. 27

It was messy, but democratic.

Last night the Knesset voted by a decent majority: 67 to 45 with 7 abstentions, in favor of Ariel Sharon's plan to dismantle all Jewish settlements from Gaza, and a few small ones from the northern West Bank.

The basic elements of democracy are the existence of ample alternatives; wide access to the decision (i.e., voting rights), and freedom to criticize.

All of these traits are well established in Israel. It is one of the world's most democratic countries. If Arabs claim to be disadvantaged, they are no more so than minorities in numerous other democracies; and more than some minorities they have their own elected representatives to blame for their disadvantages. Instead of joining major parties and getting some of the goodies, most Arab politicians spend their time opposing everything, and end up with little for their constituency.

Back to last night:

The issue was one of the most difficult in a country that faces more difficult choices, more often, than most democracies. We have had several months of endless talk, demonstrations and counter-demonstrations about this proposal. No one can justly claim they have not had an opportunity to persuade their adversaries.

Sharon's plan is not all that great. It proposes to withdraw Jewish settlements without the agreement of the Palestinians. Some Palestinians are already claiming it is a victory for terror, and that they can get more by continuing the violence. The plan is also vicious in its discrimination against Jews. It would use state force to remove Jews from homes where some have lived for 30 years, without equivalent "ethnic cleansing" of Arabs to make our situation easier elsewhere. One has to understand the fury of those who oppose the plan.

However, Sharon's plan also has some attractive features. By withdrawing Jewish settlements, but not necessarily the Israeli military, the plan will remove easy targets for Palestinians with simple weapons. It will strengthen, rather than weaken Israel militarily. The withdrawal may also spur Palestinian realists to put their own house in order, and to approach Israel with reasonable offers for wider arrangements. The withdrawal will strengthen the case, at least with the Bush administration, that Israel can stand firm against extreme Palestinian demands (like the unlimited right of return for refugees and their descendents), and assure the holding of major settlements in the West Bank.

The conflict among the Jews is far from over. A substantial portion of Sharon's own party members in the Knesset voted against him. A cluster led by Benyamin Netanyahu in alliance with the National Religious Party is demanding a referendum on the plan. If they do not get the prime minister's agreement to a referendum within two weeks, they say, they will quit the government and do what they can to bring it down and force elections.

The prime minister seems firm in his opposition to a referendum. He sees it not necessary for a democratic decision: the Cabinet and Knesset are the forum for policymaking in Israel. To him, a referendum would only prolong the dispute, and provide a venue for intense opponents to heat up a difficult issue to the point of internal violence. And a referendum result in favor of dismantling Jewish settlements would not be accepted by the most intense of the opponents.

Several more votes in the Cabinet and Knesset are necessary to authorize finally the dismantling and its financing. And assuming all the votes go well, it will not be easy for the police and the army to remove those settlers who think they are doing God's work by resisting with all their power. To date, the authorities have not been able to remove permanently even tiny hilltop posts, settled by few if any individuals, against intense people who fight their removal and then keep coming back. Taking down established settlements with hundreds of families will be a much more severe test. We have heard from some rabbis that Jewish soldiers should refuse orders to remove Jewish settlers from the Land of Israel. Other rabbis have argued against such refusals, on the ground that it threatens the worst calamity of civil war.

The whole operation could be derailed by continued internal political opposition, major instances of violence, perhaps among Jews, or events as widely spaced as Lebanon, Syria, Iran, or a political change in the United States. It is possible to imagine a range of scenarios so endless as to make it pointless to invest in the detailed description of any one of them.

It is not a time for predictions.

Posted by Ira Sharkansky at 10:15 AM
October 25, 2004
Interesting Bush interview

In a lengthy and exclusive interview just released, President Bush holds forth on his Middle East policies.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 12:45 AM
John Kerry: The man and the myths

John Kerry has been caught making shit up (again).

U.N. ambassadors from several nations are disputing assertions by Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry that he met for hours with all members of the U.N. Security Council just a week before voting in October 2002 to authorize the use of force in Iraq.
of the five ambassadors on the Security Council in 2002 who were reached directly for comment, four said they had never met Mr. Kerry. The four also said that no one who worked for their countries' U.N. missions had met with Mr. Kerry either.

The article concludes:

In an interview published in the new issue of Rolling Stone magazine, Mr. Kerry was asked what he would want people to remember about his presidency. He responded, "That it always told the truth to the American people."
Speaking of truth, as a mathematician I would say that the last statement is a vacuous truth.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 12:07 AM
October 24, 2004
Winning hearts and minds

Today on NPR's Weekend Edition Sunday, "Bodies of 49 Iraqi Soldiers Found Near Iran" (3:18)

Liane Hansen: What about the American attempts to win the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people. How is that going?

Anne Garrels: Not very well. I mean Iraqis say they live in fear whether from criminals or from insurgents. So 17 months after the U.S.-led military operations began here most say they're worse off. They see the U.S. as being in charge even now despite the handover of sovereignty and they blame the Americans for just about everything

The implication is that we're losing the war to the "insurgents" who spend most of their time murdering Iraqis. It doesn't sound like these guys are exactly winning anybody's "hearts and minds" either. At best they're asserting domination through murder, fear and intimidation.

The current strategy of the "War on Terror" has been to spread freedom and democracy, starting in Iraq, in part by "winning the hearts and minds" of the Iraqis. I don't particularly care whether we "win the hearts and minds" of the Iraqis. All I care about is that the threats to us from Arab fascism and militant Islam are neutralized. If winning hearts and minds achieves that, fine. If there are other ways to achieve that, fine. I'm willing to believe that spreading democracy and "winning hearts and minds" in the Muslim world will cost more years, lives and resources than our country would ultimately be willing to commit. It's possible that a quicker, safer (for us) and more cost-effective approach to converting the Muslims into a non-threat is to forget about "winning hearts and minds" and instead, well, terrorize them into leaving us alone.

It does seem like terrorism and brutality are the normal language of political discourse in the Arab and Islamic worlds. It's not unreasonable to believe that Saddam didn't create brutality in order to rule Iraq so much as Iraq demanded to be ruled by a brutal dictator. Every other Muslim country in the region differs from Saddamite Iraq only in the degree of repression and tyranny. I've long posited that the reason that political terrorism is used more often by Muslims than others is not because they're more "oppressed" by foreigners than others (they're not) and not so much because terrorism is effective against the targets of Muslim terrorists (it is not) but because of projection -- Muslims see themselves as susceptible to intimidation through terrorism and therefore assume that everybody else is too.

If we were to deal with the threat of Islamist terrorism using overwhelming brutality and force, we would probably be more effective at stopping it than we have been heretofore. (I observe that Japanese nationalism has not been a serious threat since the bombing of Nagasaki. The Syrian branch of the Islamic Brotherhood has been more subdued since the Hama massacre). But we're not prepared as a society to inflict that kind of destruction on anybody at this time.

Spreading freedom and democracy by winning hearts and minds is a more noble and uplifting aim than, say, explaining the war against Islamofascism as merely an activity of beheading copperhead snakes with a hoe. Of course we should keep trying to win hearts and minds and help plant the seeds of democracy in a desert where it has never before bloomed. I hope it works. It wouldn't make sense to keep at it indefinitely and at an unbounded cost of lives and treasure, unless we're making adequate progress. Ultimately, it's up to those in the Muslim world to take freedom for themselves and shape it into a flourishing democracy. If they don't, then at least we will have tried. But at some point, and I'm not sure when that point would be, we might have to make a choice between being loved or being alive.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 11:56 PM
Letter from Jerusalem, Oct. 23

We're alone again.

Israelis are alone in wanting George Bush by a large margin.

A report in Ha'aretz of October 15th told about national surveys done by leading newspapers in Canada, France, Great Britain, Japan, Spain, Russia, Mexico, Australia, and South Korea, as well as Israel. Substantial majorities in all countries but Israel-- in some cases up to 80 percent-- answered in the negative about the Iraq war, their general attitude toward the United States, and Bush's candidacy for re-election. Seventy-six percent of Israelis said that they thought the US contributed to peace in the world; 50 percent supported Bush and only 24 percent Kerry.

With a monopoly of being a great power and historically the focus of aspirations of people around the world, the United States is also an obvious focus of disappointment. It is hard, perhaps impossible, for an idealized country to match aspirations. American streets of the 19th century were usually covered in horse shit, like those of Europe, but lots of immigrants actually expected to find them paved with gold.

For many Israelis, recent American behavior, especially in vetoing routine one-sided Security Council denunciations of Israel, makes the United States our best friend, and maybe our only friend. The people of other democracies focus on American unilateralism, and Bush's tendency to repeat simple descriptions of his beliefs and purposes. For some, perhaps, opposition to Bush reflects their annoyance at being left out of the loop. There is also the love of studied ambivalence and nuance by western Intellectuals, with Bush showing not much of either.

Numerous Israelis see American involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq as helping us. In Iraq, in particular, the US neutralized a large army and potentially dangerous supply of weaponry that had been used against Israel on several occasions from 1948 onward. In Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as increased involvement of the United States with the Syrians, Iranians, and others, the result may drive home in America the problems we have in dealing with the fanaticism that is so widespread in this region.

While numerous American Jews defend their support of Kerry by reference to Bush's closeness to fundamentalist Protestants, this is not a problem that worries many Israelis. Israelis are far from America's cultural problems; we look with some fondness at Christians who come here with their pastors, proclaim their support and sing our patriotic songs in what may be memorized Hebrew. For a country with few friends, it is easy to welcome those who enthusiasm is palpable.

We are not unanimous. Note the 24 percent supporting Kerry. Some of my friends are convinced that Bush is led by slogans rather than reasoning, and that Kerry must be better. The notion that Americans can bring democracy to Muslim countries is viewed with something between incredulity and cynicism. Some Israelis, like some Americans, focus on the blunders in the war, but others realize from their own experience that wars are filled with pitfalls. Some see the United States staying the course and making Iraq a better or at least a stable place. Others fear a American reaction against American overextension, or see an Iraq that is a breeding ground for ever more extreme Islamic fanaticism, and thus more dangerous than a pre-war Iraq for the region and Israel.

The election of John Kerry could be the first step in an American reaction against the Iraq war, with implications for Israel. Even Ha'aretz, the most left-wing of Israel's major papers, and usually critical of the Israeli government , published an article last week that reported the following:

The Democratic party has quite a few outspoken critics of Israel in its ranks who could bring their influence to bear. As an Israeli official said this week: If Kerry wins, his administration "will butcher us on the humanitarian issue" - meaning that Israel's freedom of action in the territories will be severely curbed (which, of course, will make plenty of Jews happy, in Israel and America). He also mentioned Kerry's accentuation of "partners" in the international community - a partnership that will be costly for Israel. "These are things that should scare the Jews." . . .
Kerry does indeed have a history of support for Israel, but he has never been much of an activist in this regard. Quite a few Israelis have met Kerry in recent years, and some of them - including several who are still in office today - had an uncomfortable feeling about him. "It wasn't anything he said," one of them tried to explain. "It was something he projected." Somehow, Kerry's outstretched hand never felt very warm. . . .
The remarks a few days ago by Jewish Democratic senator and former candidate for vice president, Joe Lieberman, seem to point in the same direction. While Lieberman appealed to the Jews of Florida to vote for Kerry - for a whole host of reasons, some related to American internal politics - he also said that the Democratic candidate needed to be "clearer" on his support of Israel.
Next Tuesday will in all probability provide more data to confuse political scientists still trying to find a convincting explanation for upper-income, well-educated Jews who vote so heavily Democratic. They will surely do it again, but will it be more or less than in previous elections going back to 1932? This is the first time I recall that Israeli feelings were so strong for one presidential candidate or another. It is likely to be the first time that a substantial chasm will be apparent between American and Israeli Jewish sentiments. In this respect, it will continue a process that began with the war in Lebanon from 1982 onward. Israel and the American Jewish community have grown independent of one another. Now this is apparent not only in their feelings about what should happen in the Middle East, but about what should happen in the United States.

Posted by Ira Sharkansky at 05:13 PM
October 22, 2004
Dinner with George Nethercutt

Join Senate candidate Congressman George Nethercutt for dinner this coming Monday, Oct. 25 at 5pm at the Downtown Seattle Republican Club.

After dinner and informal conversation, I will interview Congressman Nethercutt for later broadcast on local cable television. The interview will cover the critical issues in this year's campaign, particularly the national security issues that Congressman Nethercutt understands far better than the incumbent Senator does.

The dinner is at the College Club in downtown Seattle, details and directions here. The only cost is the ala carte dinner off the College Club menu, usually about $15 all inclusive.

Please RSVP to me at theshark .at. usefulwork .dot. com

The Murray Stare

In case you're not yet convinced that Patty Murray is not a rocket scientist, the Nethercutt campaign has compiled a hilarious video from the latest debate featuring Patty Murray and her bizarre vacant stare (windows media version; other formats here)

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 05:12 PM

With thanks to Lileks for the suggestion, this blog is now available by way of sharkblogger.com.

(Jerry Miller from Republican Radio also suggested sharkblogger.com, but Lileks was first).

The impostors from the LiveJournal SharkBlog deny stealing the domain sharkblog.com. So I still have no idea who did it.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 04:44 PM
Thanks, Jimmah

I don't think it's unfair to credit Jimmy Carter with helping set a precedent for the epidemic of hostage-taking by Islamofascists.

Here is Carter in conversation with Cokie Roberts today on NPR Morning Edition, starting at 6:09:

Jimmy Carter: I sent the Ayatollah Khomeini a message from me that if you injure a hostage, we will terminate Iran's trade entirely with the outside world and if you kill a hostage, we will take military action against your country. And I sent this message to Khomeini through, I believe, seven different channels, primarily the German government and the Swiss government and others to make sure he got the message. He never injured a hostage and he never threatened to kill a hostage as a response to that.

Cokie Roberts: Though he's convinced he had every right to launch a military attack, the President knew a strike would mean the death of the hostages, so he negotiated for their release

Imagine if Carter had impressed upon Khomeini that the consequences for not releasing the hostages immediately would have been catastrophic (even if it were something short of "Send them all home tomorrow, or we will turn Qom into a glowing sandbox"). Instead, Carter encouraged Khomeini to flaunt and bargain over for the hostages for 444 days. I think it's fair to conclude that the Carter's weakness encouraged the spate of hostage-taking in Lebanon in the 1980s, which in turn seems to be the precedent for the hostage-taking in Iraq.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 02:09 PM
"Why Kerry is Losing This Election"

Some very astute analysis of Kerry's flawed campaign by knowledgeable Kerry supporter, Thomas P.M. Barnett.

Barnett and I were classmates at the University of Wisconsin. He was one of the smartest guys I went to school with and he seems to be doing very well.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 01:12 PM
Shark Radio

I'll be co-hosting Republican Radio again this Saturday morning. This week's show has a lot of material on the statewide education issues on the November ballot. Marsha Richards will discuss I-884. I'll be interviewing Superintendent of Public Schools Dr. Terry Bergeson (running for re-election) and Jim Spady from the charter school referendum campaign.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 11:33 AM
Gift of Life

Gift of Life is an organization that facilitates bone marrow transplants for people suffering from leukemia and other life-threatening illnesses.

Gift of Life is holding a donor drive in Seattle at Temple Beth Am, Sunday, Oct 31, 2004 9:00 AM - 2:00 PM.

In order to increase the chances for every patient to find a matching donor, it's important to ensure that all ethnic groups are well represented in the donor pool. While Gift of Life is focused on recruiting potential donors of Eastern European Jewish ancestry, it participates in the international donor registries and encourages potential donors of every ethnic heritage to come to the drive and register.

More information about being a marrow donor is here.

A schedule of upcoming Gift of Life donor drives in other cities is here.

I learned about Gift of Life from a cousin in Pittsburgh, whose family friend, 12-year-old Amy Katz, is fighting leukemia and searching for a matching donor.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 10:55 AM
"Emergency Sex"

A new book chronicles U.N. peacekeeping failures.

This book should be part of the "Global Test" exam preparation course.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 10:00 AM
October 21, 2004
Seattle Blog Bash

I met a few other bloggers last night at Pike Place Pub.

Cheering the Red Sox pennant victory:

L-R: Andy MacDonald, Dave Winer, Al Hedstrom (hidden behind the outraised arm), Paul "No Republicans" Andrews, Dave Neiwert, Jacqueline Passey

Paul "No Republicans" Andrews was very gracious and shook my hand, even though I'm a Republican.

Dave Winer refused to shake my hand because I'm a Republican. He also told me that he'd be more comfortable with the Iranian mullahs possessing nuclear weapons than with George W. Bush possessing nuclear weapons. Yes, he really said that.

Jacqueline has more commentary, including a complete list of attendees.

UPDATE: Bird Dog of the Tacitus group blog was also there. He left before the cameras came out, but he has a nice write-up of his own. Only one correction: He wrote that he and I were the only Republicans present. Andy MacDonald is also a Republican.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 06:02 PM
Preventing Voter Fraud

Voter fraud is probably a bigger problem than we realize. Seth Cooper writes that requiring photo ID at the polls would seem to be a simple and obvious measure to reduce poll fraud. Yes, it would.

You really have to wonder why we don't.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 04:26 PM
October 20, 2004
Michael Moore Campaign Finance Abuse and Tax Fraud

Michael Moore spoke in Seattle last night as part of his so-called Slackers Tour. The event was sponsored by Foolproof Performing Arts, which describes itself as "a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. All donations are fully tax-deductible.".

"Foolproof" does not mean the same thing as "IRS-proof". The organization appears to be in flagrant violation of federal tax regulations that prohibit non-profit organizations from engaging in political activity

If the debate or forum shows a preference for or against a certain candidate, however, it becomes a prohibited activity.
I recently mailed this written complaint to the IRS Criminal Investigation unit alleging Foolproof Performing Arts' abuse of its non-profit status. I look forward to the federal tax court's ruling whether Michael Moore's Slackers Tour shows a preference for one candidate or another.

I suspect I had something to do with the decision of the Seattle city government cable television channel to (quietly) back off from broadcasting the Michael Moore speech. Astonishing as it sounds, the city government was about to go ahead and violate various city, state and federal laws to use public facilities in order to broadcast Moore's speech, which was obviously intended to help the Kerry campaign. I complained, and a few days later the city cable channel appears to have pulled Moore from the schedule.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 10:24 AM
Letter from Jerusalem, Oct. 20

Part of this war is with ourselves.

Last night's news featured one interview with well-known a religious grandmother who urged the soldiers in her family and others to refuse any "illegal" orders to remove Jews from their homes in the Land of Israel. The interviewer pressed her on the conception of illegal: what if the decision to remove settlers has the endorsement of the government and the Knesset? Her response was that it could not be legal insofar as it violated Torah.

Then he interviewed a young military reservist, head of an organization that urges soldiers to refuse "illegal" orders to harm innocent Palestinians. When pressed by the interviewer to defend his conception of "illegal," the young man said that it is wrong to risk the lives of soldiers to protect religious settlers in Gaza and the West Bank. He prefers withdrawing from all settlements outside of Israel (he didn't specify just what he meant by that), but it was clear that the grandmother's home was beyond his sense of what is proper.

For a centrist opposed to both positions, It was more than annoying, but great television. It defined our moment. Earlier segments had featured the head of the general staff and the minister of defense saying that rabbis and others who urge soldiers to disobey orders threaten the country and serve the enemy. I thought of the year 70, when anti-Roman Jewish zealots fought with Jews willing to accept Roman culture and Roman rule within Jerusalem, and the Romans waited outside the city until the Jews weakened themselves enough to make the conquest easier.

We have all but smashed the Palestinian intifada. Barbarians who target children, patrons of cafes, discotechs, and restaurants, university students, bus riders, and celebrants of the Passover seder can look around at their cities and orchards and see rubble. They can count among themselves more than three times the casualties they have caused us. Many of their leaders, and even lower echolons are dead or in our prisons. Their political system is a shambles. Much of the international community is tired of their calls for help and offers only lip service. They are now hoping for salvation from a new US president; Arafat has made an overt endorsement of Kerry, which might hurt the Senator more than it helps. (Arafat also expressed support for Saddam Hussein in 1991, and produced the explusion of thousands of Palestinian workers from the Gulf States and Saudi Arabia.)

No such scorecard will convince all the fanatics, or perhaps any of them, to stop the fighting.

The intifada also provided at least a temporary respite from chronic disputes between religious and secular Israelis about what we can do on Shabbat, the availability of non-kosher food, which rabbis can perform conversions, and other nuances of religious law. With neighbors wanting to kill all Jews, internal fights all but disappeared. Until the prime minister put on the table the issue of withdrawing settlements. The Land of Israel is one of the items in our tribal religion. Now religious zealots are making doctrinal proclamations about real estate.

As in other issues, the Torah is not clear. There are competing definitions of the Land of Israel.

The borders mentioned in a passage from Genesis 15, “from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates” is not precise enough to guide a surveyor. Where on the Euphrates: Baghdad or elsewhere? Is the river of Egypt the Nile, or perhaps only a lesser stream at El Arish? The difference between the two is a matter of 100 kilometers or more along the Mediterranean Sea, depending on the choice from among several Nile outlets. The problem becomes more complex by the 17th chapter of Genesis, when the Lord promises to Abraham “all the land of Canaan” without setting out the boundaries. The 34th chapter of Numbers provides enough clues to keep historians and cartographers busy matching modern places with the lands of ancient peoples. The eastern boundary of the Promised Land indicated here (the east shore of the Chinnereth, perhaps the Sea of Galilee), is far short of the Euphrates as promised in Genesis and somewhat less than what modern Israel has managed to acquire.

There is a vote scheduled in the Knesset next week that is likely to endorse the withdrawal of all settlements in Gaza and a small number in the West Bank. Government ministers and senior military personnel are making the rounds of the rabbis to persuade them of the dangers of religious soldiers urged to disobey orders. It is not easy to neutralize the religious enthusiasm. The outcome will be a test of our sanity. We can survive a bit of internal violence, but it will not be healthy.

Posted by Ira Sharkansky at 09:52 AM
October 19, 2004
Michael Medved on Media Bias

My interview of Michael Medved is noted here.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 12:20 PM
Letters from Jerusalem

I'm pleased to announce a new contributor to the Shark Blog -- a man who was known as The Shark decades before I was -- my dad, Ira Sharkansky.

He is both an American and an Israeli, a native of Massachusetts who moved to Israel and has been professor of political science at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem since 1975. His correspondence about Israeli politics and life in Jerusalem have appeared on this blog from time to time. They will now be posted under his name and with the title "Letter from Jerusalem"

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 12:18 PM
Letter from Jerusalem, Oct. 17

My first political memory comes from 1944. The tree outside my house had a sign supporting Roosevelt or Dewey. I was a precocious 6-year old, but I only remember the sign, not its content. Perhaps I could recognize a political message before I could read it.

In 1948 I listened to the party conventions on a little wooden radio alongside my bed, sometime after my parents told me to shut it down and go to sleep.

Never in the 16 campaigns do I remember a time when the major candidates enjoyed less enthusiastic support than this year. We’re just returned from a month in the US, when I met with friends and relatives. Mostly Jews from one coast or the other, most of those close to my age born into the lower middle class and now much better off.

I found five enthusiastic supporters of Bush and no enthusiastic supporters of Kerry. Most of those I met were planning to vote for Kerry, but the typical expression of support for Kerry was hedged by reservation, embarrassment, or even apology, along with a passionate opposition to Bush. One of my two surviving aunts said I was “fucking stupid” to say that Bush was the least undesirable, but even she admitted to be less enamored of Kerry than opposed to Bush.

Back in the Promised Land: the IDF operation in Gaza, “Days of Awe,” is over, with the IDF withdrawn to the outskirts of populated areas. Perhaps another chapter has ended, but it is not yet the time to write the book on this war. During the last few weeks over 100 Palestinians were killed and more acres turned into rubble. One Israeli soldier was killed in the operation itself. For some this was another of our overreactions, in this case to the killing by rockets of two infants from the community of Ethiopian immigrants. For me, it is one more episode in a continuing effort to cope with moderate power against bands of killers. Again the IDF used bulldozers, tanks and infantry, rather than artillery and strategic bombing. The disproportionate losses reflect the advantages of an army that learns from mistakes against gangs that emphasize individual heroism over systematic training and leadership.

What’s next? Probably more of the same. Not a few Arab intellectuals are raising questions about the intifada, and more generally about terror against non-Muslims. They recognize the costs to their own societies of continued rage, uncontrollable war lords, religious zealots, and neighborhood thugs. But there is no shortage of those who sound like the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, spout blood libels and all the other standard lines against Israel, Jews, and the American government. There are too many kalachnikovs, M-16s, grenades, rockets, and explosives in too many hands, much of the stuff left over from the Soviet-American competition. It may be possible to wear them down, but it will take a long time. Responding by “getting at the roots of terror,” or answering the social or national demands of terrorists is paying blackmail, or responding rationally to an infant in the midst of a temper meltdown. No matter what is offered, there is always a screech that it is not enough.

Israeli soldiers killed a Palestinian schoolgirl who approached their position with a bag. It turned out to be books rather than an explosive. Other kids have been sent toward army units with bombs. American military truck drivers have been ordered to keep driving, even if there are kids in the way; the assumption is that kids are sent into the road to slow down a convoy and make it vulnerable.

It is simpler to fight the army of an organized state. It can surrender and stop the bloodshed when there is a clear loss or a political accord. Those who fight terror have no such luxury.

Here, and most likely in Iraq and Afghanistan there is always another gang leader or fervent believer who exploits losses as further reason for fighting. Yitzhak Rabin’s line was, “there is no bang and we’re finished.” The IDF leadership says that it can reduce terror attacks to “tolerable” proportions, but not stop them altogether. Americans will learn that sooner or later, but recent promises of total victory by both Bush and Kerry indicate that they are not ready to teach the lesson.

Posted by Ira Sharkansky at 12:07 PM
October 13, 2004
Shark Radio

I'll be co-hosting this Saturday's Republican Radio show. Our special guest is Claudia Rosett on the UN Oil for Food Scandal!

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 04:17 PM
John Kerry: International Man of Mystery

The New York Sun reports that "Mystery Surrounds Kerry's Navy Discharge".

An official Navy document on Senator Kerry's campaign Web site listed as Mr. Kerry's "Honorable Discharge from the Reserves" opens a door on a well kept secret about his military service.

The document is a form cover letter in the name of the Carter administration's secretary of the Navy, W. Graham Claytor. It describes Mr. Kerry's discharge as being subsequent to the review of "a board of officers." This in it self is unusual. There is nothing about an ordinary honorable discharge action in the Navy that requires a review by a board of officers.

According to the secretary of the Navy's document, the "authority of reference" this board was using in considering Mr. Kerry's record was "Title 10, U.S. Code Section 1162 and 1163. "This section refers to the grounds for involuntary separation from the service. What was being reviewed, then, was Mr. Kerry's involuntary separation from the service. And it couldn't have been an honorable discharge, or there would have been no point in any review at all. The review was likely held to improve Mr. Kerry's status of discharge from a less than honorable discharge to an honorable discharge.

Hmm. We also learn that
Mr. Kerry has repeatedly refused to sign Standard Form 180, which would allow the release of all his military records. And some of his various spokesmen have claimed that all his records are already posted on his Web site. But the Washington Post already noted that the Naval Personnel Office admitted that they were still withholding about 100 pages of files.
I'm sure major media will give this as much attention as they gave Bush's National Guard service.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 10:16 AM
John Kerry: International Man of Indecision

The Washington Post reports on John Kerry's management style:

rather than "set a course and lead," ... Kerry has lurched from course to course, periodically switching drivers and road maps -- and messages -- as he reacts to more and more information and advice. "His strength is that he listens," said a regular recipient of Kerry's late-night phone calls. "The problem is he's listening to too many people."

This is the paradox of Kerry as a manager. When he has a clear vision of where he wants to go ... he has used information and advice to become more focused and persuasive, according to colleagues and longtime aides.

But in his presidential race, the approach has bogged down his campaign in indecision or led to jarring changes in direction -- even if the result, so far, is that Kerry remains in contention with President Bush. "Things you thought you resolved a week ago pop up again because he's had another four conversations," a former adviser said.

The article also tries to explain how Kerry might be an effective executive, but the conclusion is clear:
Charles O. Jones, a Brookings Institution scholar on governance, said that despite Kerry's preference for information-based decisions, his campaign has given voters little reassurance that he would lead effectively in a world of uncertainty.

"The campaign structure and strategy either fail to offer evidence of how Kerry would govern or raise warning flags," Jones said. "Such a review by no means dooms a Kerry presidency. But he's put a heavy burden on the American people to decide how he would govern."

The American people want a President who both has and can communicate a clear vision that they can embrace. Kerry either doesn't have a clear vision or hasn't figured out how to communicate that vision, or both.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 10:15 AM
October 12, 2004
Why not sharkblog.com?

When Hugh Hewitt asked me on the air this afternoon to give the URL for the Shark Blog, I fumbled through double-you-double-you-double-you dot usefulwork dot com slash shark. This prompted Lileks to write in the previous entry's comments "Now get a shorter URL!"

Yes, this blog's URL is awkwardly long. And in fact, I tried to get a shorter URL. When I called Hugh's program a couple of weeks ago, he told his listeners to go to sharkblog dot com. Well of course that's where any normal person would think to look for the "Shark Blog". But you won't find the Shark Blog at sharkblog.com because I never bothered to register that domain. This is just a hobby, I have a URL that works, so why bother to spend more money on yet another fancy domain? It's not like I'm losing any paying customers because potential readers have to go to the extra trouble of googling for "shark blog" to find me instead of typing in sharkblog.com.

But once Hugh Hewitt starts instructing his listeners to visit sharkblog.com, I can't let him down, can I? So I went to register sharkblog.com, but ... it was already taken!

Some customer of a hosting company called "midPhase Services" owns sharkblog.com and midPhase won't even tell me who it is. They're not doing anything with the domain yet except posting a "coming soon" message. There can't be many people who would want to own the domain sharkblog.com, except perhaps the people who operate the Live Journal "SharkBlog" (I beat them to the name by a good two years) Or maybe the Seattle Post-Intelligencer took the name just to get under my skin.

In any event, I now own sharkblog.org and sharkblog.net.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 10:49 PM
What's the difference?

I just called into Hugh Hewitt who has spent most of the last three hours asking his listeners to explain the choice between George W Bush and John Kerry by way of analogy, e.g.:

Churchill v. Chamberlain
Reagan v. Carter
offense v. defense
advance v. retreat
Allawi in power v. Saddam in power
My contributions were:
The Hugh Hewitt Show vs. Al-Jazeera
"The Buck Stops Here" vs. "It depends on what your definition of 'is' is"

I could also add:
A Humvee vs. a 1956 Peugeot Citroën
Alan Ladd in Shane vs Inspector Clouseau

The complete list of Hugh's listener suggestions is here.

The point of this exercise, in addition to being good old fashioned fun, is that it reveals the extent to which, as Hugh put it, Kerry has

branded himself, with help from Bush-Cheney '04 for sure, as weak and vacillating, a brand that cannot be sold in the post 9/11 America, with the echoes of that day that sounded in Bali, Madrid, Beslan, Taba and a hundred other places of terror and tragedy.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 06:03 PM
October 10, 2004
Nikki Washington meet Claudia Rosett

Nikki Washington at Friday's debate:

Mr. President, my mother and sister traveled abroad this summer, and when they got back they talked to us about how shocked they were at the intensity of aggravation that other countries had with how we handled the Iraq situation.

Diplomacy is obviously something that we really have to really work on.

What is your plan to repair relations with other countries given the current situation?

Claudia Rosett in OpinionJournal.com on the Wednesday before the debate: "America, Just Be Yourself"
Standing for our principles is more important than being loved.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 10:02 AM
October 08, 2004

John Kerry in this evening's debate:

I have a plan that will take the catastrophic cases out of the system, off your backs, pay for it out of a federal fund, which lowers the premiums for everybody in America, makes American business more competitive and makes health care more affordable.
Yes, the federal government will pay for it so the American people don't have to. Kerry must be reading the Seattle Post-Intelligencer again.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 11:33 PM
Sharkansky Peace Prize

The 2004 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded today to Kenyan environmentalist Wangari Maathai

Maathai, 64, founded the Green Belt Movement, which has planted 30 million trees since its beginning in 1977.
That's nice.

The 2004 Sharkansky Peace Prize is awarded today to the Coalition of the Willing: led by George W Bush, Iyad Allawi, Tony Blair, John Howard, Aleksandr Kwasniewski, Jose Maria Aznar, Silvio Berlusconi and the heads of the two dozen or so other nations that have contributed to the ongoing project to liberate, reconstruct and democratize Iraq.

They might not have planted 30 million trees, but they are bringing freedom to 20 million human beings.

Previous winners of the Sharkansky Peace Prize are here.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 10:42 AM
October 07, 2004
Letters to Seattle Editors

This letter to the editor appears in the current issue of The Stranger

EDITOR: I've lived in Seattle since the early '80s and been bus-dependent for much of that. I've been aware of the struggle to get a monorail system in this city since the early '60's. Vancouver's is a sterling example of monorail done right, something that was successful beyond anyone's expectations. What happens here? The rich crap all over everything. The majority of voters stated they wanted the monorail extended, many times. Case closed. Martin Selig bankrolls an illegal campaign to shut it down. Why? Is he so blind that he can't see that increased public transportation helps a city's economy?

If the monorail is derailed, and Bush wins the presidency, consider me gone to our neighbor to the north where logic and reason still seem to reign. However, if we get the monorail, and Kerry wins, we should do everything we can to drive Martin Selig and his minions out of town.

Michael H.

Not that I mean to dump the guy on Damian, but does anybody want to pitch in to help buy Michael H. a one-way bus ticket to Labrador?

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 02:27 PM
Heinz Kerry in Seattle

Teresa Heinz Kerry was in the Seattle area yesterday. Here are some highlights from her visit. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports that Heinz Kerry is promoting her husband's health care "plan":

"What I see in America today ... is that, for the most part, we are not a very healthy country," Heinz Kerry said. Too many children, for example, are suffering from a form of diabetes caused by a poor diet. "John's plan focuses on wellness and prevention."
I suppose the Heinz Kerry administration will promote the consumption of ketchup as part of a healthy diet. Hey, wait, weren't the Republicans criticized for doing just that?

Meanwhile, Heinz Kerry gave an answer to a Seattle Times columnist that suggests to us that the ketchup heiresss thinks that her husband is something of a lech:

If I was 80 cents short at the grocery store, and John Kerry was behind me in line, would he cover me, or pity me?

"Before me, he probably would have asked you out for a cup of coffee and paid the bill," Heinz Kerry said. "Today, I don't know what he would do, he doesn't even go shopping anymore, the poor guy."
If John Kerry were a truly generous soul, wouldn't he just cover the other person's shortfall as a neighborly gesture without marital status even being an issue?

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 10:45 AM
October 06, 2004
Assad offering to make peace with Israel?

This is interesting:

Syrian President Bashar Assad is offering to make peace with Israel and says he is ready to cooperate with the United States in stabilizing Iraq, [former Clinton State Department official Martin Indyk] said Wednesday.


On peacemaking, Assad offered to hold talks with Israel without preconditions, Indyk said, and had made several overtures to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon that the latter rebuffed.

In the past, Indyk said, Syria had insisted that any peace talks should resume where they left off during the Clinton administration - with Israel offering to give up all of the Golan Heights, a strategic area Israel won in the 1967 Mideast war.

And, Indyk said, Assad had dropped a demand that Israel reach an agreement with the Palestinians before Israel could resume negotiations with Syria.

Would this be happening if were still playing patty-cake with Saddam while trying to pass Kofi Annan's "global test"? Or if Israel had obeyed the international community and acted with "restraint" for the last four years instead of destroying terrorists?

It does make one wonder.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 11:39 PM
Equal Time to Offset Michael Moore?

Seattle's city government cable channel, the Seattle Channel, will be broadcasting Michael Moore's Oct. 19 campaign rally at the "Foolproof Performing Arts" lecture series. As I mentioned the other day, Foolproof is, in all likelihood, in violation of federal tax and campaign finance regulations. Using city government resources to broadcast campaign rallies for or against a federal candidate introduces yet another set of campaign finance violations. (take a look at some of the other Kerry campaign events that have been broadcast by Seattle's city government)

Although these broadcasts are probably illegal, I suspect the probability of stopping them in time for the election is negligible. At least the managers of the Seattle Channel have agreed to give some (if not exactly equal) time to other viewpoints. They've agreed, for example, to broadcast my upcoming interview of Michael Medved. But more programming is needed to provide reasonable balance to the proponderance of one-sided programming on the Seattle Channel.

The question is: what would be the best program to balance Michael Moore? I've contacted the distributors of Celsius 41.11 and they're open to negotiating broadcast rights. Another idea is Michael Moore Hates America. Any other ideas for films or speakers that would be an appropriate balance to Michael Moore?

UPDATE: I've decided that the most appropriate way to respond to the Seattle Channel's misuse of public facilities is to file formal complaints with appropriate agencies (i.e., Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission, Washington Public Disclosure Commission and possibly the Federal Elections Commission) with the aim of ending the Seattle Channel's involvement in political campaigns. However, given the hours of improper campaign content that it has already broadcast and will undoubtedly continue to broadcast between now and the election, I would also press for and use as much equal time between now and the election as I can get.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 04:48 PM
October 05, 2004
Vice-Presidential Debate

The transcript from the Cheney v. Edwards debate is here.

The following encapsulates why I believe Cheney won.

Best line of the evening:

Cheney: Now if they couldn't stand up to the pressures that Howard Dean represented, how can we expect them to stand up to Al Qaida?
Best question by moderator Gwen Ifill:
Part of what you have said and Senator Kerry has said that you are going to do in order to get us out of the problems in Iraq is to internationalize the effort. Yet French and German officials have both said they have no intention even if John Kerry is elected of sending any troops into Iraq for any peacekeeping effort. Does that make your effort or your plan to internationalize this effort seem kind of naive?
Edwards' response did not address the question.

Worst closing statement:

Edwards: I have grown up in the bright light of America. But that light is flickering today.

Now, I know that the vice president and the president don't see it, but you do.

You see it when your incomes are going down and the cost of everything -- college tuition, health care -- is going through the roof. You see it when you sit at your table each night and there's an empty chair because a loved one is serving in Iraq or Afghanistan ... That's why we have a plan to keep you safe and to fix this mess in Iraq.

The message: vote for Kerry-Edwards only if you've given up on America and your real standard of living is only getting worse and you believe that a government run by a bunch of limousine liberals like Kerry, Edwards and McAuliffe will give you economic benefits you can't acquire through your own hard work and talents; and you believe that our troops are wasting their time in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Now about that mess in Iraq and the empty chairs: This only amplifies more of the same Kerry-Edwards incoherence. Earlier in the debate Edwards said, as a criticism of Bush and Cheney, that

What Paul Bremer said yesterday is they didn't have enough troops to secure the country.
But how does Kerry-Edwards plan to correct for this (i.e. increase the number of troops) and also "fix the mess in Iraq" and also stop America's light from flickering because of those empty chairs at the dinner table? We know they won't succeed in internationalizing the occupation, because, as noted, Edwards failed to answer the charge that counting on more international help is naive. The only other way to reconcile all of Edwards various competing statements is that they will bring more troops home and refill all those chairs in the kitchens where America's lights are flickering in order to put enough troops in Iraq to secure the country. You have to admit, that's not a bad way to implement Kerry's promise from last week's debate that he will "lead those troops to victory" even though "there is no viable exit strategy".

The fog of incoherence wins neither debates nor presidential elections.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 11:37 PM
Are you a victim of a DNC Robo-call?

One of the things that annoys me about election season is the flood of robo-calls I get from various political outfits, especially from the campaigns that I don't support. Yesterday I got a robo-call from the Democratic National Committee. The politicians have cleverly exempted themselves from the National Do Not Call Registry. Nevertheless, we still have recourse against political campaigns that violate our privacy with nuisance telephone calls. When a campaign calls you at home, simply call the candidate or campaign official at home and ask them politely to stop calling you.

If you get an unwanted robo-call from the Democratic National Committee, the appropriate response is to call DNC chairman Terry McAuliffe at home to ask him to stop calling your home. According to his official DNC biography, Terry McAuliffe and his wife Dorothy live in McLean, VA. Lo and behold, the Yahoo! white pages show a listing for a Terry and Dorothy McAuliffe in McLean, VA. [I'm 99.9% certain that this is the DNC McAuliffe, -- public property records show only one listing for a Terry McAuliffe (Terence R. and Dorothy S.) in Fairfax County, where McLean is located] Remember that this is the McAuliffes' home phone. When you call to ask Terry McAuliffe to stop placing robo-calls to your home, be more courteous to the McAuliffe family than the DNC was to your family.

UPDATE It turns out that the McAuliffe home has 7 bedrooms, 4 1/2 baths, 3 fireplaces and a pool on 2 acres. It was purchased last year for $1,175,000. That's not quite Teresa Heinz-Kerry wealth, but it's still not half-bad for the leader of the party that claims to represent the poor. When the Democrats talk of "Two Americas", perhaps they mean the America of the super-rich like John and Teresa Kerry and the America of the slightly less fabulously rich, like Terry and Dorothy McAuliffe.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 12:00 PM
Negative stereotypes affixed to Muslims

The Seattle chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations is concerned about negative stereotypes of Muslims:

A poll released yesterday by the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Washington, D.C., said that one in four Americans believe several Muslim stereotypes and hold a much more negative than positive image of Muslims.

A quarter of survey respondents believe that Islam teaches violence and hatred and that Muslims value life less than other people.

It's not hard to imagine why people who read the news might get the idea that Islam teaches violence and hatred. CAIR's solution: Hold a forum and blame other people for the terrorism that is committed by Muslims:
What drives terrorists is "hate, which is against Islam," said Aziz Junejo, host of the public-access TV show "Focus on Islam" in Seattle. "Hate is a horrible thing. For all these people who are willing to kill themselves (by suicide bombing) -- to kill their own people -- hate has to be their power factor."

But not just any hatred.

"It's hate due to oppression," Junejo said. "It seems whether they're in Iraq or Chechnya, these people are being oppressed."

Whatever the motive, the backlash is the same for Muslims in America, he said.

"Collectively, we're put on the defensive, and it's not fair," Junejo said. "And I blame the media for this."

I humbly submit that the reason that the stereotypes of hatred and terrorism stick to the many non-terrorist Muslims is because Muslim leaders like Aziz Junejo are always quick to blame anybody but Muslims (the media! the oppressors!) for terrorism committed by Muslims, and for the understandably negative reaction that most people have to it.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 11:53 AM
October 04, 2004
Here and There, Oct. 4

Sari Stein reports that Concordia University in Montreal has denied the campus Hillel's request to bring former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak to speak at the university.

John Kerry claims that his "global test" remarks were misunderstood:

"But I can do a better job of protecting America's security because the test that I was talking about was a test of legitimacy, not just in the globe, but elsewhere.
elsewhere? I guess Rand Simberg, who writes the blog "Transterrestrial Musings", should update his Global Test and rename his blog "Extraterrestrial Musings"

Dan Rather has even lower journalistic standards than Michael Moore:

Michael Moore, director of the movie Farenheit 9/11, said Sunday that he was given the same phony documents used by CBS News in its infamous Sept. 8 "60 Minutes" story but that he rejected them for inclusion in his film because his staff did not believe they were authentic.
"Back when I was making Fahrenheit, I was offered the documents that were given to CBS but I didn't use them because we couldn't verify them," Moore said following a speech at the University of Central Arkansas.

And in Australia, a vibrating sex toy shut down an airport.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 05:37 PM
Sharkansky Peace Prize

The Nobel Peace Prize committee is scheduled to announce this year's Peace Prize winner on Friday, Oct. 8.

Following a tradition we started in 2002, the Shark Blog will announce its Sharkansky Peace Prize winner on the same day. Unlike the Nobel Prize, the Sharkansky Peace Prize recognizes those who have made tangible contributions to preserve peace, maintain the national security of democracies, and extend human rights, whether through non-violent means or through the appropriate application of military force. Last year's joint winners were Paul Wolfowitz, Tommy Franks and Paul Bremer, for their respective roles in the liberation of Iraq. Other past winners, including many awarded retroactively, are listed here.

Please post a comment with your nominations for the 2004 Sharkansky Peace Prize. You nominate, I decide.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 11:04 AM
October 01, 2004
Who Moved My Cheese?

Damian Penny reports on an epidemic of cheese theft in Newfoundland.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 04:28 PM
Save the date

I'll be interviewing radio host and media critic Michael Medved on the topic "Media Bias: What's the Motivation?"

The event is on Monday, Oct. 18 at the Downtown Seattle Republican Club, located at the College Club in Seattle. Dinner and informal conversation with Michael Medved starts at 5pm. Formal interview starts at 5:30, to be videotaped for delayed broadcast on local cable.

The event is open to the public for only the modest cost of an ala carte dinner. More details here. Please join us if you can!

RSVP to me by e-mail at:
theshark .at. usefulwork .dot. com

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 03:28 PM
Democrat Campaign Strategy

"Bush's state headquarters for re-election burglarized"

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 the 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.

I doubt very much that any official Democrat organizations are behind this, but as state Republican chairman Christ Vance noted:
Vance said the break in follows reports of vandalized Bush campaign signs and what he said were telephone calls to voters alleging Bush would reinstate a military draft if re-elected.

"To me there is some scary stuff going on from liberal radicals whose Bush hatred is out of control," Vance said.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 01:00 PM
The Shark's moment in the global spotlight

I just spoke to a group of Pacific Rim journalists who are on a campaign-season tour of the United States.

That's me in the center of the white board. The participants were from a dozen different nations, including China, Taiwan, Malaysia, Australia, Vietnam and Cambodia. Unfortunately, I didn't get to match many of the names to faces, but I did catch that the woman crouching on my immediate left is with the Yomiuri Shimbun, one of Japan's largest dailies.

I was there to give a perspective on blogs and also a center-right view point on Seattle and Washington issues. The journalists were interested in the relationship between blogs and mainstream media and asked a lot of good questions about credibility and bias. They were also interested in my take on the presidential debate. They met with the Seattle Monorail Project earlier in the week and got their spin. I got to explain why the Monorail is such a silly idea and doomed to fail.

I really enjoyed meeting with this group and if any of the participants find this entry, please drop me an email and send me links to your articles!

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 12:32 PM