March 20, 2004

Occam's Mach3: One can make all the arguments you can trying to explain the latest polls that Kerry has lost his mojo, that Bush's ad-attacks are working, that Kerry as a campaigner has fundamental weaknesses, and you can boil them all down and you still wouldn't have enough crack left to get a buzz. The amount Kerry has lost in the polls to Bush is almost exactly the same as the amount Ralph Nader gets now that he is included in the horse race. Kerry is in trouble only if you believe that Nader is going to double his 2000 vote, which the latest polls all indicate.

March 17, 2004

There will be even less output than usual for the next few days, due to a bad case of Tournament Flu that I've come down with (btw, any who would like to take part in my brackets pool, just drop me a line), as well as a truckload of legal work that has to get done.

March 15, 2004

Kevin "Sherlock Holmes" Drum, whose investigative skills were praised in this month's Vanity Fair by James Wolcott, has a good analytic post on the Spanish election. He focuses on the feeling of betrayal by the electorate in the days immediately after last week's atrocities, towards a government that seemed more interested in using the bombings to score domestic political points, rather than showing that the Spaniards are Tapas-Eating Surrender Monkeys and the like. Those who have characterized yesterday's vote as being objectively pro-terrorist, or as evidence of moral cowardice by the electorate, have lost almost all credibility at this point.

The use of the "war" analogy really obscures the fact that most people don't simply fear terrorist attacks as something that might happen to their country, but as something that might happen to themselves. The Bush Administration often ridicules its critics as people who believe that terrorism should be treated as a "law and order" issue, fought with subpoenas rather than bullets, with laws rather than smart bombs. In over-simplifying the matter, they risk losing the American people by over-emphasizing the military aspect of this fight, while ignoring the crime prevention aspect. Some terrorists are state-sponsored, and in those cases we should treat the nations that support them as hostile, but most aren't, or are sponsored only tenuously. In those cases, the only way to fight back, and win, is to use all the weapons at our disposal. And yes, those weapons include the subpoena, the levy, and the arrest warrant, where the nefarious dealings of the underworld are exposed to the light of day. After all, we didn't crush the Mafia by nuking Sicily.

In that respect, the neo-conservatives are starting to resemble the liberal establishment of the '60's, which believed that problems such as crime were social disorders which would go away once the "War on Poverty" succeeded, while not taking seriously the public's desire to feel safe walking the streets. What has happened in Spain the last two days should be a wake-up call: the people will show no loyalty to a government that seems ineffectual when it comes to protecting the people it serves. We don't want crusades; we're not going to wait until you reshape the Middle East. We want the problem stopped. Now.

March 14, 2004

The people of Spain get serious about taking the fight to the terrorists, bouncing the government that supported Bush's diversionary vendetta. Any opponent of the President has to be chilled by the result; what happened last week is a taste of what we might get just before the next election, and the impact that might have is far more important than the results of any partisan dispute.