Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Muscular Republicanism 

If Arnold represents muscular republicanism, I just want everyone to know that I sign on.

I liked his strong message of pro-Americanism, and his message that people can disagree and still be part of the Republican party. Such words are how you build a lasting governing coallition.

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Laura Polls well with women 

Well, I can imagine that was probably one of her major jobs, being the most prominant female prime-time convention speaker. (thanks Glenn Reynolds)

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The Best Dems can Do? 

First thing the dems, including the woman from NPR on Fox news can do, is bash the daughters. That's not going to win any points for them.

If that's the best criticism they have, than there are many problems for the dems.

UPDATE: Let me make this semi-liveblog more cogent.

It struck me that the democratic pundits didn't address Arnold's strong remarks, but attacked two 20 year olds who had the unenviable task of addressing a political convention on understandably little experience.

If the Kerry campaign can't be more effective than the liberal talking heads on TV, Arnold's remarks and more like them will destroy Kerry's chances at winning his bid for the Presidency.

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Bush Twins: not so bad 

I agree that the twins were awkward to the extreme, but there were some funny lines. What they did was humanize Bush, though. No one is going to, or can publicly and cogently, hold their remarks against the President. However, they can take that light moment and understand that Bush and his family are like other families. That's what Laura is doing as well, but in a more serious way.

Also, I think it deserves to be mentioned that the Bush twins might have some appeal to a younger audience--they did make a lot of jokes that could appeal to those that are less politically minded and younger. Didn't hurt, and might help.

I agree that Rove didn't make a mistake with this one.

UPDATE: First, thanks to Mr. Glenn Reynolds for the publicity. It's much appreciated.

Now, more substantively, let me point out what Oxblog's "Man on the Floor" David Adesnik had to say about the Bush daughters:
After Arnold spoke, Jenna & Barbara came out to introduce their mother. They started out with bad jokes and stuck with their bad jokes all the way to the bitter end. Next to me, Tom was cringing and muttering under his breath.

It's not just that their jokes were inappropriate. Yes, it's embarrassing when the daughters of the family-values president remind their grandparents that Sex and the City is a television show and not just something your not supposed to talk about.

The bigger problem was that the twins came across as childish and totally lacking in substance. That is not what George Bush needs to help him overcame his reputation for being a lightweight.

These girls -- women, perhaps -- are graduates of some of America's best universities. Can't they talk about politics or ideas? Or at least talk about their father as a human being? Instead, they came across as self-involved, self-indulgent sorority girls.

Well, the clock is ticking and the bar is open so I'll share my thoughts about Laura a little bit later. Cheers!

While I'm unsure at this point if his last bit about hitting the pubs perhaps refutes his point about graduates of major American Universities, I'll lay it out there anyway.

I agree that perhaps graduates of a great institution should perhaps live up to the potential of their education, but anyone who thinks that serious discource is a major occurence on campuses is naive or ignorant (unless you go to the University of Chicago and have passion for Plato). Most time if filled with much more mundane activities like Scav Hunt or watching movies.

Yes, yes, this was a moment in which the Bush daughters should have perhaps given a better impression (although I disagree with Mr. Adesnik and think things didn't go nearly as bad as he did), but perhaps their failure to be spectacular was to be expected. Not every 22 year old is a blogger, a great public orator, or funny. Even if you are, try doing that in front of a demographic that is older and much different than you; try coming off as charming while political handlers manipulate you and the pressure of famous parents weighs down on you.

Mr. Adesnik disagrees with me, which is perfectly fine. The main flaw I find with his piece, though, is that he doesn't take his criticism and go anywhere with it. He doesn't launch into, say, nepotism--the daughters of the president, especially at their age, don't necessarily live up to our expectations. He doesn't consider what his preconceptions and expectations could mean about what we think about the office of the president and the first family.

He instead hits the pub. But if they're serving Sam Adams (or even better Old Speckled Hen), than I really can't blame him.

Now, yes, I noticed I have criticized without teasing out a broader conclusion myself. Maybe that itself says something about the human condition, though.

And then, of course, I don't have press credentials to the RNC;)

(Keep up the good work, Mr. Adesnik, but I couldn't resist disagreeing a bit more than perhaps I should)

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Some thoughts while the speeches are still going on 

I think what impresses me the most about Arnold's speech is that he was able to throw red meat to the crowd in an, almost oxymoronic, inclusive way. He defined a party and support tent for W that is broad, and made me believe him. He spoke to partisans and moderats at once, an amazing task.

Laura's speech is also very well done. I thought her defence of stem-cell research was a small reference, but did a job. That's what the speeches seem to be doing, they seem to be hitting all of the salients out there in the campaign front.

Effective is what the speeches seem to be.

UPDATE: Here's the text of Laura's well-done speech, which I think did a vastly better job than the ramble that T.H. Kerry gave at the DNC.

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Bounce tomorrow in the IEM 

I'm predicting Arnolds speech will cause a large bounce for Bush in any polls conducted tomorrow, and in the Iowa Electronic Market data for possibly tonight and definately tomorrow night's market closing.

UPDATE: Well, I was quite wrong. However, it might not be my fault! (I must be channeling the Kerry campaign to say that).

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Don't be Economic Girlie Men! 

The line that caught me the most out of one of the best speeches I've heard in a while. Superb. Arnold did his job.

Here's the transcript. Read it, it's a great speech.

UPDATE: Here's a video of Arnold speaking this great line.

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Diamonds are Forever 

local6.com - News - Woman Turns Husband's Remains Into Diamond

This seems like a very neat way of honoring a lost husband or wife, especially if the survivor doesn't plan on remarying. They'll always be there with you physically as well as spiritually. I think I'd do it.

UPDATE: Let me be more clear. The loved one is already around spiritually; this plan lets a little piece of their earthly body constantly comfort.

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Monday, August 30, 2004

Bush gains... 

... in another poll. Panic in Nantucket yet?

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I'm proud to announce that Google has annointed Maroonblog as a great source on the University of Chicago and it's association with neoconservatism. My work here is done, now I can go back to working on my annotated version of Leo Strauss' complete works.

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Too much time eating snails... 

...on vacation for Mr. Sullivan, who says that the Swift Boat issue is being coordinated by Mr. Rove. Clearly, he's gone off the deep end, which is unfortunate after so much good thought in the past. If Rove were really coordinating the ads, don't you think that the media establishment and the democratic party, both of which would love to see such an election-sinking scandal pinned on the President and his aids, would invest a lot of effort looking and eventually find the truth? Of course Mr. Rove isn't running these ads, because if he was it would be monumentally stupid and not advantageous in terms of Mr. Bush winning the election, because such cooberation would eventually be found out by the opposition.

This one by Mr. Sullivan is almost as bad as the luny accusations that Bush invaded Iraq to gain political support. 'Duh, yeah, let's wage a risky war because we're sure it'll turn out alright and I'll gain votes'. I wonder if Mr. Sullivan would fail the stupid test as well?

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Dowd on Kerry: Lame 

via Vodkapundit: Dowd called Kerry lame several times on Letterman. If Paul Krugman distances himself from Kerry, you know it's time for Kerry staffers to break for the escape pods.

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Oxymoron: "die-hard Kerry supporters"? 

I think Mr. Green may be right, and that Bush's sizable edge in hard-core support among loyalists will be the deciding factor. Voter turnout will edge in his favor.

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Sunday, August 29, 2004

Reinventing the GOP? 

David Brooks has thoughts on reinventing the GOP. Mr. Drezner has his own thoughts on this article.

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Less War, but would you believe it? 

According to research by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, there were less battlefield deaths this year than at any other time since WWII.

But, if you were a protester in New York city right now, would you believe such facts?

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Stupid Test 

Click this link. If you agree with that picture, send me an e-mail. I'll send you one back with an official MaroonBlog certification of stupidity.

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Pictures of Protest Signs--and a striking resemblance 

Interesting and amusing, even though I don't agree. However, I have to say that I think the second picture looks more like Jimmy Carter than Bush.

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9/11 Commission Report Criticism 

Two views, one in the NYT's Book Review and the other by Jeff Jarvis, on how the report is flawed that are worth reading, especially because they are much more informed about the process that was used to construct the report than I am.

Despite the flaws they point out, though, I still think the historical narrative is useful, although a non-political look by an historian will of course be more enlightening.

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Kerry Gets Slammed in IEM 

The differential between Bush and Kerry is at 10 cents now and still trending up--a differential that hasn't been seen since June. If Bush gets a bounce from this convention, he may just bury Kerry for good.

Kerry, call for more debates!

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Tax Cut Statistics 

Apparently, at least according to the CBO as reported by the Detroit News, the top 20%, despite the fact that they are paying a smaller percent fo their income, are in fact paying more of the national tax burden than they were before the 2000 law. So, I think one can infer that they're paying more taxes now than before. Imagine that. Paul Krugman, call your office, the Detroit News is showing you up!

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Saturday, August 28, 2004

Boxing, Courage, and Aristotle 

Reading this piece about the contempt many academics display towards boxing, it hit me (I deserve to be hit because of that pun) that perhaps part of the problem with liberals is that they don't include courage in theirconception of moral virtue:
Still, I think the best defense of boxing is Aristotelian. In his Nichomachean Ethics, Aristotle offers his famous catalog of the moral virtues. Whenever I teach this section of the Ethics I always begin by asking students what they think are the ingredients of moral virtue. Respect, compassion, honesty, justice, and tolerance always fly quickly up onto the board, often followed by creativity and a sense of humor. I usually need to prod to elicit 'courage.' And so I hector, 'How can you be consistently honest or just if you don't have the mettle to take a hit?'

Aristotle writes that developing a moral virtue requires practicing the choices and feelings appropriate to that virtue. Accordingly, colleges today often offer a smorgasbord of workshoplike events to help develop the virtue of tolerance, for example, by making students more comfortable with people from diverse backgrounds. But where are the workshops in courage, a virtue that Nelson Mandela, John McCain, and others have claimed to have found in boxing?

According to Aristotle, courage is a mean between fearlessness and excessive fearfulness. The capacity to tolerate fear is essential to leading a moral life, but it is hard to learn how to keep your moral compass under pressure when you are cosseted from every fear. Boxing gives people practice in being afraid. There are, of course, plenty of brave thugs. Physical courage by no means guarantees the imagination that standing up for a principle might entail. However, in a tight moral spot I would be more inclined to trust someone who has felt like he or she was going under than someone who has experienced danger only vicariously, on the couch watching videos.

It makes perfect sense that for one to honestly support a belief one has be to be willing to defend it, even if such a defense is scary or risky. The group that has this courage versus those that don't seems to me to indicate the separation between many liberals and conservatives today, at least on the issue of the war. After all, how can one claim to be a western liberal if they're unwilling to defend their existence in such a society and attempt to help others that wish to live in such a society as well?

I have an urge to break out my copy of Nic. Ethics now.

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Friday, August 27, 2004

The Pressure-Cooker Theory 

Mr. Krauthammer on the current release:
The result has been volcanic. The subject of one prominent new novel is whether George W. Bush should be assassinated. This is all quite unhinged. Good God. What if Bush is reelected? If they lose to him again, Democrats will need more than just consolation. They'll need therapy.

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4 million dead 

That's how many Americans Al Qaeda wants to kill. That's why we should head Mr. Marshall's advice:

In our democracy, the pundits, the public, and the politicians will focus on the arguments and issues that concern them at the moment; our electoral process will always have its own seasons and rhythms. But in the midst of a war, the search for political advantage needs always to be sobered by the realization that we live under the threat of mass murder. We have active enemies who state emphatically that they will gladly die in order to kill millions of us and, explicitly, two million children. If our politicians and pundits fail to remind us of this fact, we must remind them. We need to keep this reality in sharp focus as we prepare to exercise our democratic rights in November.

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The Fog of War and Kerry's Nemesis 

...and Pericles: "For there is justice in the claim that steadfastness in his country's battles should be as a cloak to cover a man's other imperfections; since the good action has blotted out the bad, and his merit as a citizen more than outweighed his demerits as an individual."

is great.

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'The Kaiser and Me' and more 

Some thoughts from the Englishman Mr. Derbyshire on The Great War that are worth reading.

I've just begun reading Cataclysm: The First World War As Political Tragedy, and I have to say I think it might live up to the Atlantic Monthly's praise that it is the best one volume history of World War I. Even if it's not, it seems well worth reading.

In case you're curious about what else I'm reading right now, here's what's on the table besides WWI:

The Reformation, a wonderful book that I must agree seems to be the best history on the Reformation available. The way the social, theological, military, and political threads are woven together so thoroughly in such well-written prose is just spectacular. Also, the author Mr. Stevenson presents a very interesting thesis in the book, that a great reason for the strong evangelicalism in the US is because a large wave of European immigrants came to the US during the latter years of the Reformation, and carried with them their heightened sense of religion with them; this heightened sense never disappeared, so one could say that the US is in some ways still living the religion of the Reformation today. Some may say that such views, which critics would most likely characterize as radical, are insentitive and bad, but I don't think I agree. Guess that's why I'm reading the Bible (see below for more on that).

I'm also reading the 9/11 Commission Report; even if you've already heard about the proposals for reform contained in it, and agree with them or not, the historical narrative that looks into the institutional history of both the terror organizations and the US government in the years before 9/11, as well as the chain of events leading up to the day itself, is very informative and well worth the time it takes to read. I've learned of new information about how the US government operates from the work.

There's also The Outlaw Sea, an expansion of The Atlantic Montly article Mr. Langewiesche wrote on the piracy, the problem of preventing terrorism in ships, and the general unruly, chaotic nature of the maritime experience. The book doesn't go as far beyond the article as I thought, so it might not be worth your money if you've already read the article. If you haven't, pick the book up, well worth the read alone because of his investigations into the impossibility of securing shipping in the world today from use by terrorists, never mind Mr. Langewiesche's compelling and dramatic writing.

Then, of course, there's The Bible, which is all the more interesting now because of the theological history that I'm learning from The Reformation. If you've already read the gospel, read Romans. Fabulous theology in that book. Understanding that'll make a Christian a much better one.

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Personal Experience Does not Trump All 

As Mr. Goldberg notes: if it did, the study of history beyond the lifespan of the participants would be worthless.

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Thursday, August 26, 2004

More Limits to Free Speech coming? 

This self-serving action by Bush in an attempt to kill "527" groups, most of which support liberal-leaning causes and candidates and attack many conservative candidates, notably Bush himself, is simply an attempt to further limit free speech. The McCain-Feingold bill should have been overturned by the Supreme Court. Hopefully the courts won't further limit political speech by putting further restrictions on what citizens may do when they group together for political causes.

I may support Bush, but I don't agree with this at all. He should instead have vetoed the campaign finance law and called for more political speech. The more participation the better. If people want to try to fling mud, and aren't crossing into the land of libel and slander, than let them. They have a right to be heard just as much as the candidate that is flinging mud.

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Bush gains in polls... 

...are the Swift Boat Vet adds responsible? Now that the major media has picked up on this, major movement can be seen in the Iowa Electronic Markets Presidential Election data. The story has been out there for several weeks now, but only in the last few days has Bush began to climb in the polls. This seems to roughly correspond to when the major media began covering the story. Bush has also gained in the Gallup poll, especially in his job approval rating. So, I think one could conclude that the story is having an effect now that it is being covered by major media outlets.

Perhaps because of this gain by Bush, as was noted by a pundit on Foxnews today, Kerry is calling for debates, and not just some debates but weekly debates. The Fox pundit opines that a call for debates is usually the mark of a candidate that is worried about his prospects. That makes sense; Kerry is looking for a way to gain points on Bush, and there is no better way than to defeat him in a debate. However, maybe Kerry is overestimating his chances at winning a debate, if the call isn't merely a ploy to get a soundbite into the news. In both the Texas Gubernatorial Debates and the Presidential Debates, as most know, Bush surprisingly held his own and even won some of the debates. Mr. Kerry should keep the Texan's past victories in mind--after all, he isn't exactly the most charismatic candidate around (but then again, neither is Bush, although I think the President isn't nearly as bad as many rate him to be).

Even with the attempts to ignore this story and give Kerry his 15% as Glenn Reynolds notes, Kerry is hurting. If Bush can pull this out, maybe the major media will quit trying to control the republic, whether intentionally or not, and stick to balanced coverage (check out the "Slant-o-Meter" to see what I mean).

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Summary of Intelligence Reform Proposals 

If you're not on top of this, you should be.

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Swift Boat Veterinarians for Truth... 

...and interventions for those that are wasting their lives blogging.

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Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Possible New Blogger at MaroonBlog 

A very wise peer of mine at the University of Chicago has expressed interest in bringing activity back to this blog and turning it into a join venture with me. I'll be sure to post what the result of our negotiations are. Hopefully this place'll be back in business with new life quite soon=)

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