Mister Pterodactyl
Tuesday, August 31, 2004
Looking for Dresnok? Go here and here. And while you're at it, leave me a comment; I get a lot of Google hits for this guy and I'm just wondering, what's the interest? As opposed to interest in Jenkins, I mean.

Sunday, August 29, 2004
It's the last day of the Olympics, so, a few thoughts.

First, basketball. Sigh. I think its clear that using NBA players isn't working any more. Maybe we should go back to having a year-round international team. [Did we ever do that?] Perhaps college players who don't get into the pros would like to spend a couple years that way. There won't be much money in it - lots of Americans go to play abroad and earn pretty good bank - but at least we won't have to witness our supposedly world's-best flopping around on the court. Time to admit that other countries have caught up.

I saw Iraq's soccer team lose to Paraguay in the bronze medal game. What really struck me was CNBC's reporter interviewing players afterward; he could speak Arabic. Cool.

And why do women beach volleyballers wear bikinis? Not that I'm complaining.

Saturday, August 28, 2004
Forget Purple Hearts, 1971 speeches to Congress, and voted-for-it-before-I blah blah blah.

"While in Green Bay, WI for a campaign appearance, Kerry actually made the unthinkable mistake of referring to the 'frozen tundra of Lambert Field.'"

Stick a fork in him.

[Link via Donald Sensing.]

Sunday, August 22, 2004
The Packer Pro Shop at Lambeau is selling life-sized Brett Favre bobblehead dolls. Get yours now.

Saturday, August 21, 2004
The NYT continues to demonstrate that it has no business commenting on military issues. At least this was on the op-ed page instead of a news article. Allow me to snark.

Reducing our troop levels abroad will “strain crucial alliances, increase overall costs and dangerously weaken deterrence on the Korean peninsula at the worst possible moment.” Yeah, wouldn’t want to strain that crucial alliance with Germany. Keeping more troops and equipment at home instead of constantly moving them around the globe is really going to drive costs through the roof, too.

“Washington has inexplicably granted Pyongyang something it has long coveted - a reduction in American troop levels - instead of building those reductions into a bargaining proposal requiring constructive North Korean moves in return.” Tying our control over our own forces to the hope of North Korea signing and then keeping a deal is not my idea of wise policy.

“The Korean pullback also sends a dangerous signal to the North that America is devaluing its alliance with South Korea.” Because 37,000 is a sacred number that was chosen after an extremely careful study to learn exactly how many American deaths would be needed to inspire public support for war.

“In Europe, the withdrawals are less immediately dangerous, but they will be expensive because Germany pays a hefty share of the costs for the American military bases located there.” Costs will rise in the short term – moving all that stuff is gonna be expensive – but we’ll be moving them to already-existing facilities here. Germany will have more money available to fund its welfare state, and the return of all those military families will be a nice boost to the economies of the local communities.

“The military will also lose the advantage that comes with giving large numbers of its men and women the experience of living in other cultures.” What? I mean, what?

But the last paragraph is what really set me off. “Despite the Pentagon's denials, it seems deliberate that the two largest withdrawals have been proposed for countries that the Bush administration has had serious differences with in recent years, over Iraq in the German case, and over negotiating strategy with North Korea in the case of Seoul. Both countries have been working hard to patch up relations - South Korea is one of the few American allies with troops in Iraq - but the Pentagon does not seem interested in reciprocating.” Please. The largest withdrawals are from countries with the largest deployments; 73,000 in Germany, 47,000 in Japan, 37,000 in Korea. The plan will replace Germany’s two divisions with a single Stryker brigade and cut strength in Korea by about a third. Cuts in Japan have been mentioned but not specified.

But I suppose Bush must have some nefarious and/or boneheaded reason to do it, so his critics don’t lose hold of the narrative. Not to mention their intellectual and moral vanity. That’s what’s really important.

[I've never seen the word 'snark' used as a verb, only an adjective. 'Fisk' didn't really seem appropriate in this case. I'm kind of talking out of my ass about the potential costs, but then, so are they.]

Friday, August 20, 2004
Paul Krugman: “there is a substantial chance that the result of the 2004 presidential election will be suspect.”

Getting those excuses ready kinda early, ain'tcha?

Watching the Olympics has been a refreshing change from my usual politics and war. A couple tidbits:

Iraqi boxer beats North Korean! Okay, I’m really just grinding a personal axe here but hey, groovy.

Also, chukha hamnida to gymnasts Kim Dae Eun and Yang Tae Young. They didn’t even expect to contend (Kim said he was treating it as a practice meet), but had Paul Hamm not pulled a miracle out of his ass, they would have been gold and silver in the men’s individual all-around. As it is, they got silver and bronze. And Korea has never won a medal for gymnastics before.

James Dresnok is still alive and living in Pyongyang, and a British filmmaker is doing a documentary about him and the other American defectors (you can get an info roundup here; I reference that post an awful lot, don’t I?), including Charles Robert Jenkins. Can’t wait to see that.
Dresnok is apparently the only surviving defector. He admits to having defected and says he originally wanted to go to the USSR, but now he's glad he didn’t.

[While I’m on the subject, I have noticed that my referrers contain a lot of search engine entries for Dresnok. Why the interest in him, specifically? Somebody please leave a comment.]

UPDATE: Dresnok, Dresnok, Dresnok, Dresnok, Dresnok, Dresnok!

Monday, August 16, 2004
Off today, so catching a little Olympics action. [Managed to see the second quarter of US men’s roundball getting their asses handed to them by Puerto Rico yesterday.] Right this second, I’m seeing men’s synchronized diving. Here’s my question: men’s synchronized diving?

I think the expansion of Olympic events has gotten out of hand. Frankly, while they’re fun to watch, I’d eliminate the majority of ‘sports’ in which the winners are picked by judges. As opposed to, say, the traditional first-across-the-finish-line method. I’ll allow a grandfather clause for (individual) diving, gymnastics, and ice skating, but synchronized diving? Synchronized swimming? Halfpipe snowboarding? And what about that dance thing with the ribbons? [Anybody got any more?] Fun to watch, true, but Olympic sports? Please.

I am, nevertheless, fascinated.

Side note: I observe that in this event, five out of the ten judges are (apparently at random) selected to make up the score for each dive. What’s that about?

Saturday, August 14, 2004
From last week's International Herald Tribune, an opinion column blaming President Bush for weakening the US-SK alliance and complicating the NK situation. This passage really got my attention:

"Just last month, in spite of the courageous decision by President Roh Moo Hyun to send several thousand South Korean troops to support the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq, the United States unilaterally announced that 12,500 troops would be withdrawn from South Korea by the end of next year. Even the most conservative supporters of the alliance in Seoul were taken aback."

Guess what word I'm getting really tired of hearing.

Friday, August 13, 2004
Couple quick notes. RantingProfs and Vodkapundit both have much bigger readership than I do, but in case you don't visit them regularly I don't want you to miss these.

First, the martini: "the best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter." - Winston Churchill.

Second: Yay! Puzzles!

By the way, today is International Left Handers Day. And coincidentally Friday the 13th. Imagine that.

[I have not perused the ILHD website yet, so just bear in mind that it isn't that hard being a southpaw in a world full of right-handed freaks and if they whine about it too much they're sisses.]

Tuesday, August 10, 2004
Just caught MoDo on the Jon Stewart show. She really is unbelievably cute, isn't she? Too bad she's completely nuts.

Monday, August 09, 2004
Catholics vs. Democrats, round three (or whatever).

"Citing his deep Roman Catholic roots and constitutional responsibilities, U.S. Rep. David Obey (D-Wis.) says he will not let Archbishop Raymond L. Burke 'coerce' him into imposing the church's abortion teachings on America's pluralistic society
'In my view, Bishop Burke attempted to use his interpretations of theology to coerce me into taking specific positions on matters that I believe are matters of constitutional law,'
'[W]hile I detest abortion and agree with Catholic teaching that in most instances it is morally wrong, I decline to force my views into laws that, if adopted, would be unenforceable and would tear this society apart. That judgment may be wrong, but it is a judgment honestly arrived at, and one that I am obligated to make.'"

David Obey is a U.S. Congressman from the 7th District in northwest Wisconsin. Archbishop Raymond Burke is now the archbishop of St. Louis, and previously was the bishop of La Crosse, WI. Last year, Burke published a letter in a church paper stating that he had warned Obey and two local politicians to vote the church line on abortion issues or risk church sanction (not to mention their immortal souls, natch). He has also said that he would refuse communion to Senator Kerry, if he presented himself.

Obey himself calls his record 'mixed.' He has voted to ban partial birth abortions, to bar the transportation of minors to get an abortion, and to make harming a fetus in the commission of a crime a separate, federal crime. He has voted against banning human cloning and against banning funding for family planning funding in the U.S. and abroad (see here). What seems to particularly trouble the bishop, though, are his failure to oppose stem cell research and to limit access to military hospitals.

"I told him that I hoped that no member of the armed services would seek an abortion, but that I was simply not prepared to deny to any woman stationed in Iraq, wearing the uniform of the United States, the use of a military hospital for any purpose."

This is a question that has often occurred to me: just how closely does one have to follow the doctrines of one’s church in order to remain a member in good standing? Burke apparently believes that the answer is one hundred percent. Obey is, well, not obeying, and good for him.

I’m concerned about the possible consequences of Burke’s stance. [Never mind that it may make me less likely to vote for Catholics.] Religious doctrines change. They change because leaders reinterpret them, or because new situations require new rules. True believers may think that their leaders have divine guidance, so are infallible. [Guess what I think.] Burke, accordingly, has averred that Catholic politicians are bound to at all times vote in accordance with those doctrines regardless of their personal feelings or any other consideration, or else. In essence, he’s demanding complete control over them in the name of the church; a Papal veto, if you will. And what does that remind you of?

Tuesday, August 03, 2004
Watching political coverage these days, the thing that strikes me more than ever, and I bet you too, is all the partisan bullshit. Witness the left’s continuing ‘Bush lied’ riffs, the ‘it’s all about oil,’ ‘unilateralist,’ ‘only cares about rich people,’ and ‘stole the election,’ to name a few. Add the instantaneous spin that followed the Berger leak and the hero-worship of a certain gigantic pus bag… actually let’s skip that last one. [Geez, it’s like a train wreck. I want to stop looking but…]

Of course the GOP’s been at it too. Take the FMA, for one. Happily the ‘second choice’ crowing (when Kerry named Edwards as his VP) died out quickly. [And honestly, did anyone believe for a second that McCain would accept? He held up a crucifix and started chanting in Latin the second Kerry showed up.] Speaking of that, you better believe that it’s gonna be a lot worse, in the other direction, when (if) Cheney finally steps down.
So both sides are guilty of this stuff, and of course they always have been. It’s just that the Dems (left, liberals, whatever) have been a lot more strident and made a lot less sense lately. Enter Dean Esmay with a challenge to conservatives. In the event of a Kerry victory in November, can you forgo the nastiness that’s flying around on the Left these days (and was preceded by similar stuff, in the other direction, during the Clinton years)? Dean says he can, and he will.

“I will refuse to call him traitor, loser, liar, incompetent. He will be my
President, my Commander In Chief, the Chief Executive of a great nation, elected
by the will of a majority of the electors in these 50 great United States. So
even if he does things I disagree with in conducting foreign policy, I will say,
‘I respectfully disagree with the President's directions, but I will do my best
to express my dissent respectfully and hope that I am mistaken and that he has
made the proper decisions after all.’”

See, I’m counting on a Bush win this year because, as I’ve stated before, I just don’t trust the Johns to prosecute the war properly. Tough talk in convention speeches notwithstanding, the Senators’ voting records, their need to make a distinction between themselves and Bush, and the anti-Bush hysteria of the loony left make me very uneasy. [If only they’d nominated Lieberman!] However, should Bush lose, I will also get behind Kerry. And hope for the best. I won’t resort to name-calling. I won’t rely on empty rhetoric and ignore new information. I won’t go overseas and badmouth my countrymen for electing him. I will be positive, hopeful, and respectful.

Will you? If enough of us are, maybe we can put an end to all the bickering and have a real conversation again.

Monday, August 02, 2004
What's the deal?

Lawrence Kaplan, on Kerry’s convention speech:

“the theme of the night clearly took its cue from the 1996 GOP convention, where Republicans attacked the sitting commander-in-chief as a draft dodger--in contrast to World War II hero Bob Dole, who, ‘bloodied in combat’ and ‘tested by fire on the battlefield,’ would be a ‘commander-in-chief whom our military respects,’ in the words of former President George H.W. Bush. But last night's sheer militarism--how else to describe the implicit, and too often explicit, insistence that veterans are morally superior to and possess better judgment than their civilian counterparts?--topped even that.”
With the sloppy salute, opening “reporting for duty” line and fellow Vietnam vets on stage, the speech was designed to remind us: Kerry is a veteran. More than that, he’s a combat veteran. And that’s important – so important that it’s become the de facto theme of his whole campaign. As a vet, Kerry is better able to relate to military people and issues. As a combat vet, he knows what war is really like, and so will be more prudent in the use of the armed forces. That’s the point of the constant references, and everybody gets it.

It’s true that military experience is a useful attribute for a Commander in Chief. But I see irony here. While pushing his war record in our collective face, Kerry is criticizing Bush for getting into the Iraq war (“I will not mislead us into war…”), and claiming that his experience will help him stay out of future conflicts. But ‘no future conflicts’ means no more combat vets to become future Presidents, Congressmen, and Secretaries. Surely Kerry doesn’t want to deprive future America of the very thing that he’s offering, the thing that he claims will make him a better President than Gee Dub. Seriously, what is he trying to pull? He should be promising that, during his Presidency, young Americans will get the same opportunity that he had to volunteer and experience war firsthand. He’s obviously (!) proud of his own service, is he going to deny that to upcoming generations?

Think about that in the voting booth.

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