Wednesday, November 03, 2004

I guess I should re-read the subtitle under "The Mandarin" again,...

and stick to banking and Chinese literature, things I know a lot about.

I think -- among other errors -- the pollsters who saw a Kerry victory in the early exit polls underestimated the turnout potential of the famous 4,000,000 ultra-right nutcase Christian "evangelicals" who didn't vote in 2000 but who were bamboozled this time into voting for Dub because he claims to get personal advice from God and promises to continue incorporating the strictures of Deuteronomy line by line into the civil laws of a country once prized for its separation of religion from the administration of government.

I liked this posting, too:


Pottery Barn Rule

Assuming, for the moment, that Bush's lead in Ohio holds and is real, there's a lot to say about the election, and many weeks to say it. The fact that the result seemed to end up in almost exactly the same place as four years ago should not obscure how much has changed. It's easy to condemn the Democratic Party, but there is so much that is healthier about this party and its satellites than four years ago. The development of a real small donor and activist base, a sophisticated turnout mechanism, and fundamental unity of purpose are huge achievements. They didn't quite go far enough this time.

One important thing to remember: Now Bush is fully responsible for the consequences of his mistakes. He's responsible for Iraq, he's responsible for the budget, for Medicare, etc. What Colin Powell called the Pottery Barn Rule applies: He broke them, he owns them. That's not good news for the world, because Bush wasn't competent to deal with the situation of peace and prosperity handed to him in 2001; he certainly isn't be competent to handle a mess. The dangers are profound.

But politically, it at least avoids a situation where Kerry would have borne the responsibility and blame for Iraq or for raising taxes. All accountability now rests with Bush and his party. Everything that's been swept under the carpet until after the election will come creeping out. And the best use of all the resources of people, brains, money, and coordination that's been built this year, in addition to developing a stronger base of ideas, is to find ways to hold Bush, DeLay et. al. absolutely accountable for their choices. I really believe that this will be like Nixon's second term, and thus the seeds of a bigger long-term change than could have occurred just by Kerry winning the election.

This is not a look-at-the-bright-side comment. Just a thought about what comes next.


Monday, November 01, 2004

Kerry 292, Bush 246

You read it here first. Or maybe somewhere else, but that's what my gut tells me. Popular vote? 50/46 wth 4% for fringe names. We'll see.


Monday, October 25, 2004

Brief hiatus

I'm traveling the rest of the week (Literary Translators convention in Las Vegas) and then in pre-election panic, so until I get motivated again, read these guys:

My fab five:

Monday, October 18, 2004

Putin Endorses Bush

Click on the title. I guess this is what all the undecided voters have been waiting for.

But there's another endorsement I think is worth reading, too, especially for my Republican friends: here.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Moolah for the Moo-Lahs?

New York Times: The Bush administration is holding talks with its European allies on a possible package of economic incentives for Iran, including access to imported nuclear fuel, in return for suspension of uranium enrichment activities that are suspected to be part of a nuclear arms program, European and American diplomats said Monday. [Saw the link on Andrew Sullivan's page]

Monday, October 11, 2004

Andrew Sullivan said it

But the GOP is now the Big Government party. And its deficit-mongering will mean higher taxes in the not-so-distant future. You have to believe that the terror gap between Kerry and Bush is simply massive to acquiesce in Bush's domestic policies: fiscal insanity, social intolerance, and creeping theocracy. Bush has moved the GOP toward being the political wing of fundamentalist evangelicalism. If you're not born-again, you increasingly do not belong there. In four more years, heaven knows what he will have accomplished. But, then, many of you think the difference in foreign policy is so great nothing else matters. That's the calculation. You have to weigh the damage Bush is doing domestically with the damage Kerry might do internationaly."

I have to say I'm harder on Bush and not as hard on Kerry, but Sullivan has really identified the basic choice to be made. Not to mention if Shrub were to nominate a few Supremes during a second term....

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Curious, Furious,... what's next?

In debate #1, Bush was Curious George (see the link below for the curious chimp face).

In debate #2, Bush was Furious George (click me).

There are only two rhymes left for debate #3 -- injurious and spurious. I'm betting on spurious.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

A McCain loyalist endorses Kerry

Marshal Wittmann is a former McCain staffer, former high-up in the Christian Coalition, and a self-styled "Bull Moose Republican," in the tradition of Teddy Roosevelt.

In a thoughtful editorial, he endorses Kerry:

"Moose on the Loose"

One of the best punch lines:

"Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney have waged an unprecedentedly cynical and divisive campaign. The campaign has proven that there are no guard rails when it comes to a scorched-earth effort to hold on to power. However, Democrats can seize the opportunity to reach out to disaffected moderate Republicans and independents to build a new political coalition of national unity. That is both the hope and the cause of this unreconstructed Bull Moose. "

Sunday, October 03, 2004

A currently-deployed soldier's letter from Iraq

Click the title. The writer is a Civil Affairs specialist - the same subject I taught during my brief military career. His goal is to defeat an insurgency by understanding what makes them fight, then dealing with the causes rather than just trying to kill them all a few at a time.

He adds, "So long as there is support for the guerilla, for every one you kill two more rise up to take his place. More importantly, when your tools for killing him are precision guided munitions, raids and other acts that create casualties among the innocent populace, you raise the support for the guerillas and undermine the support for yourself. (A 500-pound precision bomb has a casualty-producing radius of 400 meters minimum; do the math.)"

Friday, October 01, 2004

CBS Killian documents look genuine, says this expert

Study is here.

Key Quote:

"Since current odds hold that the Bush memos are faked, the question of their authenticity turns to whether CBS should have known they were inauthentic – if, in fact, they are. In fact, there seems to be nothing in the memos that indicates they are faked. All evidence points toward a mechanical production process and away from a digital process.

"Furthermore, the mechanical process seems to be consistent with typewriters used in the military at the time in question.

"If I had been one of the experts advising CBS, I would have advised them that there is nothing physical in the memos implying they are not authentic. All indicators imply they are authentic. I would have told them that from my point of view, the memos are worthy of presenting to the public."

Thursday, September 30, 2004

Curious George

Whoever coined the phrase "the puzzled chimp look" deserves a Pulitzer Prize.

Maybe it was as simple as fear?

Click on the title. Golly.

Dubya Does Boston: Acronym Soup -- ARPC-ORS or NARS

The newly-released (where do they keep finding this stuff?) resignation letter is in the news today, bad grammar, misspellings and all. The White House is trying to spin it again:

"The Boston Globe reported earlier this month that he failed to join an Air Force Reserve unit when he moved to Massachusetts from Texas in mid-1973. But the White House said documents show Bush was assigned to an Obligated Ready Reserve unit in Denver, Colorado, and was not required to report to duty in Massachusetts." From here (NY Times).

But, that is completely the opposite of what we know.

The Obligated Reserve Section (ORS) of the Air Reserve Personnel Center (ARPC) in Denver was an administrative holding unit for Air Force Reserve and Air NG officers who still had a remaining Military Service Obligation (MSO). Bush's MSO required him to serve in the Ready Reserve until May 1974 and his five-year post flight school obligation ran until at least November 1974.

Assignment of his file to the APRC-ORS meant unequivocally that he did still have an obligation to find an appropriate unit in Boston to finish his required term of service in the Ready Reserve, as he explicitly acknowledged in writing when he left the books of the Texas ANG.

Bush had tried to get his file assigned to a different ARPC section earlier in 1972, but his request was not allowed. That was the Non-Affiliated Reserve Section (NARS), which maintained the records of officers who had completed their required service but wished to remain in the Reserve.

If Bush had been assigned to ARPC-NARS, then he would not have had a legal requirement to finish his service obligation with an active unit in Boston.

But he wasn't, so he did, but he didn't.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Al Qaeda ver. 4.0.

Click on the title. Crikey, if Phil Carter is worried, so am I! Uh oh. Thanks, Dub. You are the new face on the Al Qaeda version of the "Uncle Sam Wants You!" poster. Except, now its us they want.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Cat Stevens parody: "Ashcroft has spoken,..."

To the tune of "Morning Has Broken," with my deepest apologies to Yusuf Islam.

Ashcroft has spoken, issued a warning.
My beard and skullcap set off his alarm.
They will deport me tomorrow morning,
So that his Homeland stays free from harm.

Tom Ridge is worried, so many names he can't spell.
He has compiled them into a list.
If you are on it, I bid you farewell;
They will arrest you as a terrorist.

My fellow Muslims, here are some traveling rules:
While you are boarding, don't read the Quran,
Don't mention donations to Islamic schools,
They will detain you, the rest will fly on.

Ashcroft has spoken,...

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

1LT Bush vs. The Cat Lady?

Am I beginning to sound like one of those old people with dozens of cats in his or her apartment who get paranoid about their neighbors? I'm going to have to find something besides the checkered record of Lieutenant Bush to write about soon. I may have to go back to eighth century Chinese poetry for a breather. Stay tuned.

Meanwhile, another of my unpublished letters to various editors, this time the Wall Street Journal.


Dear Wall Street Journal:

Your "Hangout" editorial dismisses Bill Burkett as a partisan crackpot by quoting his own comment addressed to President Bush: "I know from your files that we have now reassembled, the fact that you did not fulfill your oath...." Does the fact that his statement is incontrovertibly true -- Killian memos or no -- make any difference? Read the file yourself. The genuine records, despite their gaps, amply record orders disobeyed, commitments unmet, oaths ignored, regulations skirted, and long periods of unauthorized absence. The central issue is 1LT Bush's character and forthrightness, not Burkett's, or even Rather's.


Now, where did I put my tinfoil hat....?

Monday, September 20, 2004

William F. Buckley has been hoodwinked. Is this a first?

I wrote a letter to William F. Buckley today.

Since you won't read it at the National Review, I thought I'd post it here, too.

From his piece today on Rathergate:

"The concrete issue had to do with his failure to take a physical examination on the appointed day."

Yes it did, because in return for the expensive privilege of a lengthy pilot training program that more sought than obtained, he signed a legal agreement to remain a pilot on active Flying Status for five years following the end of his flight training (in November 1969). One key requirement to remain on Flying Status was to take and pass an annual flight physical. The issue isn't his decision not to take the May 1972 physical, it was his decision unilaterally to
revoke his agreement with the United States by ceasing to fly for the Guard after only about half his period of obligation.

"It was stressed that he had sought leave, and been given it, to move to the Air Guard unit in Alabama, which would permit him a role in the Senate campaign of Winton Blount."

No and yes. Leave to "move" was summarily denied: In May 1972, he applied to leave the Texas Guard and transfer permanently to an inactive Air Force Reserve unit in Alabama. That request was promptly rejected because he still had an obligation to remain on Flying Status until November 1974, and the unit he chose for his transfer request did not have airplanes. Then, in September, he requested permission only to drill three weekends in Alabama (Sep-Nov 1972) as "equivalent duty," in lieu of doing so at his home unit in Houston. That request was granted, but he had applied too late to meet the Alabama unit's September drill. His pay records show he was paid for drills in October and November 1972, but he was unaccounted for the drills scheduled for May, June, July, August, and September. He neither attended at the time, nor later made up any of those required training dates. The legal definition of Absent Without Leave is instructive here.

"Lt. Bush flew successfully, adroitly, admirably. His inclination to move on after four years to help a Republican candidate is testimony to a lively disposition, in a 25-year old, to move on, to undertake another challenge."

That Buckley can say such a thing with a straight face is more appalling than laughable. With two and a half years of his military service obligation unmet, free spirit Bush waltzed off to seek new challenges that did not involve flying jets or wearing his country's uniform. When I was a young Field Artillery officer around the same time, I can assure you there were many challenges I would rather have undertaken, free spirit that I was, but my oath as an Officer and the laws of the United States did not allow me to. Nor did they him.

Sunday, September 19, 2004


We saw "The Hero" yesterday. It wildly embellishes a true story, one that gets brief mention in the histories of the period (late third century b.c.). It was a beautiful movie, especially in its use of color, a grand story told with only a few characters. In particular I was fascinated to hear them speaking in a mixture of classical Chinese (my academic field) and Mandarin, but more weighted toward the classical. Even so, I don't think my ability to understand the dialogue really added that much. The story was on the screen, a visual feast.

Jet Li, Maggie Cheung, Tony Leung and Donnie Yan are all a bit north of 40, but managed the swordplay and wire work pretty well. I imagine the Bak Fa Yow liniment was flowing freely....

The only wrong note for me was their translation in the subtitles of 天下 tianxia as "our land." Literally "(all) under Heaven," I think a better general translation would have been "this world." But in the film's anachronistic echo of 20th century Chinese nationalism, a modern reading may be more telling, as in 打天下 da tianxia - a euphemism for "to exercise state power."

Anyway, making a nostalgic hero out of the barbarian king who destroyed the Chinese states of the Central Plain must ring false to some students of the period.

The actual assassin was Jing Ke 荊軻, sent by Prince Dan of the state of Yan in 227 b.c. to assassinate the King of Qin. Jing Ke talked himself into striking distance of the King, then pulled a knife from inside a rolled-up map. A guard pinned Jing Ke's sleeve to a pillar with his sword, allowing the King a chance to escape before Jing Ke's blow could land. Jing Ke managed to slice off his sleeve to free his arm, but before he could renew his attack, the King's guards killed him where he stood.

Friday, September 17, 2004

So, let's face it, he failed to meet the standards of the Texas ANG

I don't want to make this about politics all the time - there are plenty more interesting political pundits in BlogWorld - but there is one topic on which I have both opinion and information: "AWOL Bush." Only two years younger than Governor Bush, I faced the draft, I volunteered, I got commissioned (and not by having Daddy arrange it), I served. So, I take his dishonesty personally.

Forget the Killian memos, unless you are a fan of Dan Rather's face - both the Asian "face" and the actual face -- as in "egg on his face." Material the White House has already released is enough to hang Bush. To wit, at least three counts in the indictment:

1) File docs and pay records clearly establish that Bush missed five months of weekend drills (May-Sep 1972), never made them up, and did not attend the mandatory 2-week Active Duty for Training that year required by his training status "A". More than enough time unaccounted for to meet the AWOL test.

2) When he finished flight school in November 1969, he signed an agreement binding him to serve five more years (meaning until November 1974) as a Texas ANG pilot on active Flying Status. Yet he made his last flight in April 1972 (only about half-way through the five years) and chose to miss his annual flight physical in May 1972 and each year after that.

3) Before he left Texas to move to Boston in 1973, he acknowledged in writing a duty to affiliate with an appropriate NG or AF Reserve unit in Massachusetts to finish his six-year obligation. Almost eight months of his obligation remained as of his 1 Oct 73 discharge from the Texas ANG and transfer to the books of the Air Force Reserve. Yet, he did nothing.

To paraphrase our Dear (or is it Great?) Leader: Mission not accomplished.

Not the orange

Everyone seems to have a blog these days, so why not me? Since I have studied Chinese (mostly classical) for most of my life, I picked up the nickname "the Mandarin."