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A Few Thoughts On The First Presidential Debate

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I watched the first presidential debate last night, Sept. 30th. A transcript of the debate is available at: http://www.debates.org/pages/trans2004a.html

Here are a few observations I've made about the pros and cons of each candidate:

Kerry:

Con: Kerry continually talked about needing strong alliances in winning the war on terrorism and regaining credibility for America. This is certainly not true. America has enough military strength to take out perhaps the entire Middle East (save for Israel). However, we'd really only need to flatten Tehran, Iran and some other parts of Iran. Consequently, the rest of Islamic Fundamentalism in the Middle East will crumble shortly once America has shown its military might. Then alliances will follow us. But we don't need them to go to war -- especially not the United Nations! We simply don't have the time to persuade other nations and countries to form some "Grand Coalition" to fight terrorism.

Pro: Kerry continually talked about his great respect for the U.S. troops. Although it was only implied in his talk, he seems to understand that individual soldiers are sacrificing their lives for nothing. He talked many times about bringing the troops home which I think is quite necessary, and he cited many figures on how many men and women are dying everyday in Iraq. He talked about how many military bases are being formed in Iraq, which denotes that the U.S. military is permanently occupying Iraq. Kerry seemed to offer a more temporary although somewhat flawed plan (mainly training Iraqis to defend themselves) for getting our troops out of Iraq. He even stated that if done his way, then in about six months we could begin to bring troops home from Iraq.

Con: Kerry promotes the dissolution of the development of our missile defense system. His claim was that we don't want other countries to develop nuclear weapons, so we shouldn't either, implying that America is being hypocritical. Kerry fails to recognize that having a missile defense system is imperative to the protection and defense of U.S. citizens.

Unsure: Kerry's nuclear containment plan. (I don't know if I understand this correctly.) Kerry stated that in four years, he plans to contain nuclear products in Russia where terrorists can get their hands on the nuclear material "floating" throughout the country. Kerry cited that at the rate that Bush is going, this would take 13 years to do. I don't know if nuclear containment is necessary at this point. Of course, Iran and North Korea need to be stopped from developing nuclear weapons. But Kerry also suggests that in order to stop nuclear proliferation this containment strategy apples to America as well. He takes the situation out of context. Whether a country should contain nuclear weapons or the material to make those weapons depends on the moral status of that country.

Bush:

Con: Although Bush acted without the U.N.'s approval in going to war, he concedes the premise that we need allies to fight this war to John Kerry. For instance, he cited that Great Britain and Poland are both our allies.

Pro: Bush supports the development of a nuclear defense system. Whether he'll ever use it is another question.

Con: Bush continually talked about how America needs to spread peace in the Middle East. Afghanis are holding their first presidential election, implying that voting is a fundamental of "democracy" which is a conceptual package-deal in itself. What Afghanistan and Iraq really need at least is a secular representative-democratic government such as America has. However, Bush states that it's up to the Afghani and Iraqi people to decide what kind of government they want.

Con: A related point is that Bush thinks that "securing" liberty in Afghanistan and Iraq will provide an example of how freedom and peace can be brought to the Middle East. This is in America's interest and it’s America's duty to do this, as Bush repeatedly said. First of all, Afghanistan and Iraq are not headed towards freedom. In Afghanistan, the Taliban is reorganizing. And I truly believe that Iraq will soon become a theocratic state similar to Iran. And if that happens, then we'll be much worse off than we already are.

Con: The most atrocious statement of the entire debate came from Bush when he talked about how he met a woman named Misty while on his campaign trail. Misty has a son and her husband died in Iraq. He says that they cried and laughed a little. (This was just Bush's attempt to be a "compassionate conservative," a concept which I think denigrates the importance having a strong leader. Even worse was that Bush seemed wholly insincere.) Furthermore, Bush told Misty that her husband's sacrifice was noble and Misty agreed. Bush persuaded this woman to believe that her husband died not for the sake of protecting his family but for the sake of bringing and protecting freedom for Iraqi people (i.e. nothing).

Con: Iran was only mentioned a few times. It was acknowledged that Iran is developing nuclear weapons. Bush erroneously stated that this could be for "peaceful purposes." However, the main bulk of talk about Iran centered on some warlord or mullah or something who's committing genocide. Bush talked about how he was hoping that some African organization would help stop the genocide and how he was sending money for humanitarian aide to Iran. What a terrible idea! This just ends up as another means of funding militant Islamic terrorists!

Both:

Con: Kerry believes that the central terrorist spot is in Afghanistan. Bush thinks it's in Iraq. They're both wrong. It's in Iran! (As a small side note, at least Kerry did say, “And Iran and Iraq are now more dangerous -- Iran and North Korea are now more dangerous.”)

Con: It was mentioned several times that North Korea is developing nuclear weapons. Bush advocated multilateral talks with N. Korea involving China and four other countries in order to get N. Korea to disarm. Kerry advocated bilateral negotiations with N. Korea, which implies that in order to get N. Korea to give up their nukes; America will give its nukes up as well. Bush and Kerry are both wrong. N. Korea will develop nukes no matter how many countries try to negotiate with them. It's impossible to reason with the irrational!

Pro and Con: Kerry was as "presidential" as the president (i.e. his stature and speech are a few aesthetic qualities that made him look like a president.) On the other hand, on the cutaways, Bush looked displeased, dumbfounded, and often seemed to have a smirk on his face. This didn't make a good impression.

Pro and Con: It was interesting how the underlying issue in this debate was about epistemology. Bush continually reinforced that Kerry changes his positions on many issues and sends mixed messages which is not an effective way to run this country. Bush stated that a President needs to have certainty. Kerry fired back with what I think is the best statement of this debate:

"But this issue of certainty. It's one thing to be certain, but you can be certain and be wrong.

It's another to be certain and be right, or to be certain and be moving in the right direction, or be certain about a principle and then learn new facts and take those new facts and put them to use in order to change and get your policy right."

Although this may seem to highlight Kerry's "flip-flopping" on issues, I see this as his greatest strength. This statement implies that Kerry can be reasoned with because he seems to consider the facts of an issue. I sincerely think that Bush cannot be reasoned with. Bush was very vague and continually repeated such statements as "It's a lot of hard work" which is true, but this is an evasion of the fact that many foreign policy initiatives such as fighting terrorism can be handled much more swiftly and effectively. He also claimed that America must always be on the offensive. No, America must always be on the defensive. By saying that America must be on the offensive, Bush concedes the leftist premise that America is the "international police" using force to intervene in many countries regardless of whether it's in our self-interest or not to do so. Yes, it's true that Bush is certain. He's morally certain that it's in America's interest to sacrifice individual American lives, soldiers and citizens, to bring freedom and peace to the Iraqi people. And he's very consistent in advocating the wrong foreign policies. His faith supersedes facts -- that is why I think Bush is much more dangerous than Kerry.

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I thought Bush was surprisingly ill-prepared on questions that he must have known would come up. He continues to be a poor speaker at debates, almost painful to watch for me, like when he pauses for 5 seconds to think of a word for "threat", which I can relate to myself, but my job doesn't require constant public speaking.

Worst of all, the main word that Bush connected to the Iraq War was "Duty". Bush did not put together a tight argument that Iraq was in America's self-interest with a positive payoff of our increased security. Whether that is true or not is not what I'm arguing, I'm arguing that Bush did not really even try to make that simple case. I can't support $100bn and 1000 lived for the idea of our duty to make the world a better place, only to make my world a better place.

I think this bit of Bush's altruism will hurt him politically - I think American's are still healthy enough to look at this with a "what's in it for me" approach. Bush's answer was "duty". Because he didn't tie his words on "freedom" in the middle east as related to America's interest very well. He said freedom was what they wanted and it was good for them. He didn't directly say freedom there was good for us - which again, implied that we were trying to build freedom in Iraq out of duty rather than self-interest.

He'll probably do the same thing debating tax cuts. When attacked about "tax cuts for the rich" he'll say something like : it was for the good of the economy, and nation; not that it's their money and they have a moral right to it (which was close to what was his best thought in 2000).

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Just from a personal, selfish point of view, as a Vietnam era veteran, Kerry's claim at the end that he serverd honorably made my blood boil. The Swift Boat Veterans will soon get a contribution from me. Try as I might, I am sorry but I cannot be rational on this issue, too many memories!

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Kerry said the most outrageous things in the debate.

1) He equated the United States to other countries and terrorists by denouncing US development of a nuclear bunker buster bomb, meant to defend the United States.

2) He mentioned his idiotic plan for dealing with Iran, which would mean offering them nuclear fuel under the condition that we would send inspectors in with the fuel. His great plan is, instead of just telling the Iranians to stop or be blown to hell, to give them exactly what they want and then hope that some inspectors can make sure nothing bad happens, that the fuel is used only for "peaceful" purposes.

Another thing, he incorrectly blamed Bush for the United States being the only country with sanctions on Iran, instead of blaming France, Russia, Germany, etc. This Bush pointed out.

Kerry also implied rather obviously throughout the evening that Bush lied about all sorts of things, hence Bush's pissed off looks throughout the night and once referring to Kerry's drivel as "absurd."

Kerry was willing to blame every problem in the world on America, and on Bush. For example he went on explaining how Charles De Gaulle, President of France, had told the American ambassador that he would take Kennedy's word for the fact that missiles were in Cuba and didn't need to see photographs. Kerry then said what leader would do that today? But why is it America's fault that leaders won't do that? De Gaulle is dead, and Jacques Chirac is President of France and he is the most obstinate and unhelpful of any foreign leader. Not only that but the context of the two situations is a million times different, De Gaulle was under threat of invasion and nuclear annihilation from the Soviet Union, of course he'll take the President's word for it. Chirac has a public unconcerned about America's security and a government all entangled with Saddam's regime, even though his own intelligence agency said Saddam had WMD's he wouldn't support war no matter what.

There is no doubt that Kerry is a better speaker, but why is this surprising? There is a whole cottage industry created around Bush's speaking blunders (who says he's not creating jobs). But Kerry's ideas, contradictory to an extent that makes Bush look like the paragon of consistency even though he isn't, can't be made to look better than they are, and they are terrible.

It's already coming out how many times Kerry lied during the debate, for instance he said the NYC subway system was shut down for the convention due to Bush's bad job of defending the country. He ignores Federalism, plus the factual assertion was false, it did not shut down, just in areas around the Garden.

Also he said to Lehrer that he never used the word "lied" in regard to the President on Iraq when in fact he's used that word many times in the course of his primary campaign and subsequent Presidential campaign.

Unravelling all of his bad ideas, lies, and doubletalk will consume the attention of the media in the days to come.

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Pro and Con: It was interesting how the underlying issue in this debate was about epistemology. Bush continually reinforced that Kerry changes his positions on many issues and sends mixed messages which is not an effective way to run this country. Bush stated that a President needs to have certainty. Kerry fired back with what I think is the best statement of this debate:

"But this issue of certainty. It's one thing to be certain, but you can be certain and be wrong.

It's another to be certain and be right, or to be certain and be moving in the right direction, or be certain about a principle and then learn new facts and take those new facts and put them to use in order to change and get your policy right."

There is no doubt in my mind that this was the most important part of the entire debate. As has been pointed out, Kerry holds a lot of incorrect views on foreign policy. However, he has clearly demonstrated a much more rational epistemology than Bush. In arriving at a conclusion, Kerry takes the facts of reality first, and then arrives at a conclusion based on those facts. Most importantly, Kerry recognizes that certainty is CONTEXTUAL. If new facts arise one must integrate them into one's knowledge and possible change one's conclusion accordingly. You can talk all you want about how he has a mixed bag of views, but in the end, he can be REASONED with.

Bush on the other hand demonstrates the opposite epistemology. First, he gains his values and beliefs intrinsically through faith. He then manipulates the ordering of the facts of reality in his mind so that they accord with his values. Sure, every once and a while, certain facts may require a "change in tactics," but since facts are not the foundation of Bush's beliefs, they only serve as a temporary inconvience to his ideology.

I am convinced that both Bush and Kerry seek to fight a cold war on terrorism. If you really boil down both of their foreign policies, there will not be that many important differences. Both concede the need to have as many allies as possible in the war on terrorism, both care strongly about the sensitivies of Muslims, both want to use diplomacy against Iran and North Korea (they only differ on what form of bribery and appeasement to use), both fail to identify the enemy as Islamic fundamentalism, etc.

Now the question is, who will fight the better cold war on terrorism? Further, who is more willing to turn up the heat when things become even more serious as they are now? Despite all of Kerry's bad foreign policies, in the end, he has a much more rational epistemology than Bush. It is more likely that new ideas and more pressing facts will influence him to correct some of his past mistakes. Bush on the other hand will continue to make the same mistakes that he has in the past few years. He will continue to systematically betray the Bush Doctrine, while at the same claiming to enforce it fully with his rhetoric.

With Kerry, because of his epistemology, there is at least a chance that a better war on Islamic fundamentalism will be fought. With Bush, because of his epistemology, all we will get is "more of the same." I know that I certainly do not want more of the same from Bush.

Any thoughts?

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I think you're being to kind to Kerry, to say that he starts with the facts of reality, and that he can be reasoned with. There's a good bit of evidence out there that through his life he's attempted to construct facts to fit his desires, and his political philosophy strikes me of being full of floating abstactions typical of leftists. I wouldn't draw too many conclusions about that bit about it being possible to be certain and wrong, as it was almost surely a canned attack planned by his team to spring in the debate, rather than something he discovered while pondering epistemology. I haven't seen an example of Kerry changing his mind after hearing a reasoned argument, but I've seen many examples of him changing his mind without explanation or even the admission that he has changed his mind, based on a poll. That's called being a second-hander.

On Bush, I think he did qualify that his certainty related to fundamental principles. Because he's an intrinsicist, he's probably combining all sorts of arbitrary principles such as "Jesus is Our Savior" with better ones like "America has the right to defend itself regardless of whether it passes the 'global test.' " My guess is that Bush swings between rationalism and then looks at a bunch of concretes and tries to form a principle and integrate it, but fails because it's impossible to do if many of your high level abstractions are disconnected from reality.

I really do not want to see Kerry begging the UN and the rest of the world for forgiveness for our sins with the tin cup of diplomacy. From what Kerry promised, the U.S. will send nuclear materials to Iran, send Kim Jong Il the sort of diplomats he wants, will sign the Kyoto Treaty. I think that that sort of backing down in the face of world opinion and pressure would encourage the worst kinds of elements in the rest of the world, much in the same way negotiating with terrorist-kidnappers just encourages more kidnapping.

I wouldn't count on either Kerry or Bush to improve or correct past mistakes.

Most importantly, Kerry recognizes that certainty is CONTEXTUAL. If new facts arise one must integrate them into one's knowledge and possible change one's conclusion accordingly. You can talk all you want about how he has a mixed bag of views, but in the end, he can be REASONED with.

...

Despite all of Kerry's bad foreign policies, in the end, he has a much more rational epistemology than Bush. It is more likely that new ideas and more pressing facts will influence him to correct some of his past mistakes. Bush on the other hand will continue to make the same mistakes that he has in the past few years. ...

Any thoughts?

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Before we move on to another topic, this epistemological argument is not over, Kerry is not as great as he is being portrayed, nor Bush as foolish.

This idea of Bush being consistent and certain is a myth created by 1) Kerry's logical incoherence on the topic, and 2) the Republicans using Kerry's "flip-flopping" as a way to say by implication that Bush is the opposite. Kerry has held contradictory views at different points in the year since January, saying the war was a mistake, and then saying he would vote to go to war knowing all that we know, and then saying just the opposite. This is pure politics, I know that, but to paint it is some monument to a proper epistemology is absurd. Kerry is not looking at any facts, if he were he would merely point out that Bush isn't tough enough in Iraq and that we should have gone to war in Iran. He didn't say any of this.

Kerry has put Bush in the position of explaining what logic is, i.e. the art of non-contradictory thought, which Kerry is ignoring wholesale. Bush ignores it to, but has run a better campaign taking advantage of Kerry's precarious political situation, i.e. his party is split over the progress and usefulness of the war in Iraq.

Bush has changed his positions numerous times, i.e. 9/11 commision, steel tariffs, homeland security, not to mention changes in policies in Iraq. These aren't mere changes in tactics, but wholesale reversals of fundamental ideas. But Kerry can make no hay of any of these changes because he either agrees with them, or is left running with unpopular leftist positions like me need more tariffs.

I thought Bush should stay away from coming out to say that he is consistent and Kerry is not. In a debate situation you leave yourself open to the argument of the first Justice Harlan in his lone dissent in Plessy v. Ferguson where he was assailed for being inconsistent, in once owning slaves and then writing that segregation laws were unconstitutional. Harlan replied that he'd rather be inconsistent and correct than consistently wrong. Of course Bush isn't consistent, let alone consistently wrong, if he were he would have no hope of reelection, even by his own party. But the format of these "debates" isn't sufficient to argue yourself out of the charge before the topic changes.

Better to let Kerry be inconsistent on the campaign trail or in his interviews, like the one he just had with Diane Sawyer or even within the debate itself. Kerry vascillated between saying Saddam was a threat to the United States while also saying the war was a mistake. By saying he would build alliances while previously insulting every ally we have and having his sister work actively in other countries, most notably Australia, to defeat our allies in their elections. He said Bush doesn't bring other countries to the table, but then when Bush does what Kerry says he should do in the case of North Korea, Kerry then says he should go it alone. (Both are wrong, but logically Kerry is all over the place, he either is so political he doesn't care or his mind is a tangled mess incapable of integrating any knowledge or ideas.)

Much is made of Bush's metaphysical belief in God and thus his reliance on faith for knowledge. If he were so reliant on God, why meet with any intelligence specialists, why have any advisors, why not just pray for what to do and then do it? Also, Kerry is no better religiously, walking around with his ridiculous papist ash cross on his head acting pious. However neither of them is so irrationally blinded by religion that they don't consult earthly knowledge for earthly problems.

The biggest problem with Bush on foreign policy is that he is too much like Kerry, George H. W. Bush, and Powell while not enough like Rumsfeld. He is too liberal and European in his fighting of the war, and not enough of an American, who blows people away and asks questions later. As opposed to a Cowboy, Bush is more like a sheriff's deputy, always searching for guidance and pointers from institutions like the UN.

How Kerry can be reasoned with is lost upon me. For Kerry, the things he says the day before are forgotten, the things he says the hour before are forgotten. He's not recognizing reality in any of his critiques of Bush, his critiques always and invariably miss the real point. Bush is a weak candidate who could be torn apart by any rational person, and yet Kerry's logical foibles have made Bush the frontrunner. He did not correct this last night. In fact he made it worse by talking about his terrible ideas, which are worse than Bush's (an accomplishment), on Iran and to disarm the United States of nuclear weapons meant to be used against terrorists.

If Kerry is an epistemological model that we look to as good, then Michael Moore, Howard Zinn, Noam Chomsky, and Ralph Nader must be our ideals.

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So what do you want?

Another round of resolutions-----or a round of statue toppling?

The treaty of Kyoto----or tax cuts?

An International Criminal Court----or American missile defense?

"Nuclear non-proliferation" for every nation, be it America or a third-world dictatorship----or bunker busters for us, disarmament for them?

A right to preemption, as long as it passes the "global test"----or the right of America to defend the rights of Americans?

Certainty, as long as it's in the "science" of global warming, or whatever else happens to be politically expedient at the moment----or at least some leadership?

Is this really that difficult??

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So what do you want?

Another round of resolutions-----or a round of statue toppling?

The treaty of Kyoto----or tax cuts?

An International Criminal Court----or American missile defense?

"Nuclear non-proliferation" for every nation, be it America or a third-world dictatorship----or bunker busters for us, disarmament for them?

A right to preemption, as long as it passes the "global test"----or the right of America to defend the rights of Americans?

Certainty, as long as it's in the "science" of global warming, or whatever else happens to be politically expedient at the moment----or at least some leadership?

Is this really that difficult??

this is probably the single best distillation I have seen about the choice between Kerry and Bush (assuming Bush follows through).

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I wish Lehrer had asked each what they would do if China were to invade Taiwan. It's a subject that's already out there, and Chinese leaders have explicitly promised the "reunification" of Taiwan is a "solemn duty" that will be done by force if need be. The Chinese Communist Party has even helped promote a movie that makes the moral case for Taiwan's invasion, "Hero." It's winning rave reviews in the U.S., and is even admired by some on this board.

http://english.epochtimes.com/news/4-9-4/23100.html

http://www.offoffoff.com/film/2004/hero.php?spoil=1#spoil

The world would really be in crisis if China invaded Taiwan. I doubt either candidate has a real plan for that situation other than to hope it doesn't happen.

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The Triumph of Faith & Interests Over Facts & Reason

George Bushs faith-based decision-making

"The American strategist Col. John Boyd developed the theory of a continuously adaptive decision cycle -- Observation / Orientation / Decision / Action Loops -- as a means for staying connected to and for overcoming the external threats in a menacing environment. [see Boyd and Military Strategy]A faith-based decision-making strategy, on the other hand, is driven by a non-adaptive ideology, akin to what Boyd would have called a hard-wired Orientation. In such a strategy, staying on message means that observations are forced through a fixed filter that sees what it wants to see, and consequently decisions and actions are driven more by the internal wiring of the Orientation than by any evolving relationship to the external world. Thus the entire OODA loop turns inside itself, connected to some rigid formality, but disconnected from the environment that loop is supposed to cope with. Remember how faith in a rigid communist ideology disconnected decision-makers in the Soviet Union from events outside themselves.

Boyd's work is crucially important because he showed that the inevitable result of a decision process that loops inside itself is growing confusion and disorder. Under conditions of menace, such a decision process risks escalation into chaos, panic and overload, leading ultimately to paralysis and collapse."

Examples of this are Geroge Bushs assertion that ALL people want freedom without any fact to support it, he just has FAITH that those crazy wackos in the Middle East want freedom.

http://www.tracyfineart.com/blog/archives/..._06.html#000219

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Bush expresses this idea incorrectly, saying these people want freedom. Really it's quite irrelevant if they want freedom or not. A free state is the only condition we can leave these places in, unless we commit ourselves to colonizing the region, to assure we are not attacked by these states again. Free states, states that recognize and uphold individual rights do not make war on one another. Now one may argue that Bush has not created governments sufficiently free, which I think is true, but harping on the idea that these people may not "want" freedom is leftist irrelevancy. I could care less if they want freedom or if they want Saddam, they are going to get freedom or they can accept death, those are their only options.

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However, he has clearly demonstrated a much more rational epistemology than Bush. In arriving at a conclusion, Kerry takes the facts of reality first, and then arrives at a conclusion based on those facts. Most importantly, Kerry recognizes that certainty is CONTEXTUAL. If new facts arise one must integrate them into one's knowledge and possible change one's conclusion accordingly. You can talk all you want about how he has a mixed bag of views, but in the end, he can be REASONED with.

What the heck are you talking about?! Kerry-facts? Have you read anything this man has said? What has he ever said that gave you grounds to say that Kerry looks to the facts of reality first, and then arrives at a conclusion based on those facts? There is nothing in the scum-bag's entire veiwpoint and "ideas" that gives any indication that he ever looks at facts.

How does he do this and reach the wrong conclusion 99.9% of the time? You should have ended with: "despite this man of high rationality and enlightenment, he is, unfortunately, severely retarded".

You are also mistaking "context" for polls. Yes, Kerry will change his mind (more than two times in a week on a single issue), but the fact of reality that he is considering is your opinion of him and your vote. It is actually his view that knowledge is not contextual that explains that almost supernatural ability of his to backtrack endlessly.

Reasoned with? You may find out, that he has no time to worry about you, little man, get back in line and obey. You see, because you are an American and he will want to spit on you. That is John Kerry.

I agree with A.West's assessment of Bush 7 posts back. And, I'll take Bush over pompous, elitist, leftist Kerry any day.

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OldGrayBob:

I, too, am a Viet Nam vet and my reactions to Kerry are like yours. The man showed his character then and he hasn't changed one whit since.

I've written extensively about Kerry on other threads and I won't rehearse my opinions again here. I will only address what was said in the debate (a Zzzzzzzzz all in all).

The only moment of real passion displayed by Kerry was on the issue of nuclear weapons. It was a telling passion. One ought to be remember that Kerry was an advocate of a "nuclear freeze" during the Cold War. "THIS president is developing bunker busting nuclear weapons -- "America!" -- he emphasizes, as if it is something so morally reprehensible that he wants to spit. "Not this president," he avers, "I will shut down this project. (On this issue, I don't think he needs to hear from Clintonian advisors; this is obviously something he actually believes in.) He then equates our having nuclear weapons with Iran or North Korea. "How are we to tell others not to have such weapons if we have them?" The Dear Leader and the mad-mullahs and the President of the United States -- no difference in Kerry's eyes.

So, if Iran succeeds in getting a nuke, what do you suppose his reaction will be? If North Korea uses a nuke on Japan, or Alaska, what do you suppose his reaction will be? Objectivists won't have to be concerned anymore about the religious wingnuts or the leftist moonbats with Kerry at the helm. We'll be too concerned over the smoking crater that used to be New York City, or Chicago, or D.C.

As for Kerry's reasoning: Such as it is, it can be explained by two factors (both of which are easily discerned). 1. What does the poll of the last five minutes say; and, 2. Which batch of advisors is interpreting the latest poll and telling him how to proceed. (Have you noticed the difference in Kerry's approach since the Clinton advisors came on board?)

If you like the way the EU is handling the war, Kerry is just the man for you.

As a caveat, let me say that I am no fan of Bush. The man is a walking pun. However, he does have some advisors who aren't totally worthless. Go to the Kerry/Edwards site to see who he has advising him on foreign policy.

Because of Dr. Peikoff's stance, I have spent these last weeks making my own study of the religious right, along with the other factors in this situation. I respect Dr. Peikoff too much to ignore his warnings. He makes a very compelling argument and I can see evidence for what he says. However, I cannot ignore the reality of the others dangers I see around us. As Objectivists, I think we are caught among the ideologies of Islam, Christianity, and the last gasps of Marxism.

Socialism, as an ideology, is dead. But, there is an analogy between the death of an ideology to the end of a war -- both signal an extremely dangerous, violent period of time. The violence of the left's extremists is barely under control right now; who knows what it will be if Bush wins the election. I don't discount this aspect because I lived through the '60's and '70's, which was a violent time of near anarchy in this country. The rhetoric is much more volitile now than it was then, with dozens of books, plays, pundits, and entertainers who openly ponder ways of killing President Bush. We are once again seeing attacks, both physical and verbal, on our military personel. As bad as the talk was during the Viet Nam war, I don't remember anything like the animus I'm hearing today and it worries me.

The religionists appear to be more organized than they actually are. While there are those who are calling for the melding of church and state, most understand that it is a bad idea. Most of those I've listened to are just sick and tired of being attacked. I find it very odd, in this circumstance, to find myself categorized with the left as a secularist. The left has given secularism a bad name because it attacks religion, not as mistaken, but as stupid and its practitioners as ignorant hicks and morons.

The so-called "moderate" Muslims aren't moderate at all, and even a cursery study of the underlying philosophy of Islam tells me that they pose a bigger long run threat than the overt fanatics among them. It is a tenet of Islam that when a believer is in the minority, he must go along until such time as Islam can reach a majority. It is a waiting game which Europe is rapidly losing. Recently, Dr. Bernard Lewis said that Europe would be Muslim by the end of the century -- at the latest. I think they will give in long before they are in the minority. What that means to America, who will then be in sole possession of Western Civilization, I don't know.

So, I think Dr. Peikoff is right -- as far as he goes.

As for the kind of war that Dr. Brook advocates: there isn't a chance in hell that it will be fought that way at this time. (And I confess, the idea of wanton slaughter doesn't appeal to me. I've seen the results of war first hand and what it does to one psychologically, even when you know it is right, is too horrible for me to contemplate. It is one thing to chat about the death of children as justified "collateral damage" when you aren't the one doing the killing -- or the one who must live the rest of your life with the knowledge of it.) The population wouldn't countinence such brute force, nor would we have much of a military force left if ordered to commit the kind of slaughter Dr. Brooks advocates. (And god help them if it comes to that -- if you know what I mean.) This country isn't Objectivist. The vast majority of citizens do not own the same moral premises. We may work for the day, but the population simply isn't yet ready for total war. Unfortunately, I think it will take a nuclear or biological attack before they are.

My conclusions are the same as before: The best we can do is buy time, and Bush offers us a slightly better chance to do that than Kerry does. At least the man doesn't openly advocate selling us down the river, even if some of his policies have the same effect.

I said I wasn't going to address these things in this post and here I've done it anyway. I get carried away sometimes. My apologies all around.

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OldGrayBob:

I, too, am a Viet Nam vet and my reactions to Kerry are like yours.  The man showed his character then and he hasn't changed one whit since.

You mean deftly managing to retain the enthusiasm of his anti-war liberal/left base by referring to the war as a "colossal mistake" while at the same time seeming to be forceful and pro-defense by proclaiming that he will "kill terrorists wherever they are" and fight the war better than Bush?;)

Keep in mind that he now has some skilled Clinton people advising him. And they are absolute pros at this sort of thing. You know, it all depends on what is "is". While prior administrations aren't innocent either, including and maybe especially Bush '41 and Reagan, it was Clinton's policies which most dramatically emboldened the terrorists. It was under his administration that the Taliban took control of Afghanistan.

Incidentally, the basic problem I see with the Swifty ads is that it's all 30 years ago. It was effective back in August when Kerry was making a big deal about his Vietnam War service. But they haven't yet made the case that nothing has changed, i.e that he is the same "anti-war" and "America is always wrong" guy he was back then. If they were to produce a really good ad or two showing that, it could have significant impact, especially after the debate when Kerry appears to have scored some points that he is "Presidential", etc.

Fred Weiss

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You mean deftly managing to retain the enthusiasm of his anti-war liberal/left base by referring to the war as a "colossal mistake" while at the same time seeming to be forceful and pro-defense by proclaiming that he will "kill terrorists wherever they are" and fight the war better than Bush?;)

 

Keep in mind that he now has some skilled Clinton people advising him. And they are absolute pros at this sort of thing. You know, it all depends on what is "is". While prior administrations aren't innocent either, including and maybe especially Bush '41 and Reagan, it was Clinton's policies which most dramatically emboldened the terrorists. It was under his administration that the Taliban took control of Afghanistan.

Incidentally, the basic problem I see with the Swifty ads is that it's all 30 years ago. It was effective back in August when Kerry was making a big deal about his Vietnam War service. But they haven't yet made the case that nothing has changed, i.e that he is the same "anti-war" and "America is always wrong" guy he was back then. If they were to produce a really good ad or two showing that, it could have significant impact, especially after the debate when Kerry appears to have scored some points that he is "Presidential", etc.

Fred Weiss

Yes, you could tell when the Clintonians came on board almost immediately. It is the reason why Kerry managed to "look presidential" during the debates. He is still incoherent, but he's much better at making it look as though he's actually saying something -- a good indication of how easily he trains up. How anyone can forget all that's gone before is beyond me.

I agree about the Swift boat ads. They now need to juxtapose what he said then with what he says now.

If something doesn't happen soon, the election will be close. If it's close, Mr. Kerry's 10,000 lawyers (and the voting fraud that is now being perpetrated) will steal the election. Can Mr. Gore ever be forgiven for what he's started? Not by me. But, then, the libs have been using the courts to get around the constitution for years now.

Kerry's bad enough, but how we are to live with four years of Terreeeeeezzzzzzaaaaa as the first lady, I don't know. That woman makes me nostalgic for Hillary.

Your humble idiot/scumbag. :D

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You're right about the change in Kerry's verbal tactics, they have become very "Clintonian". James Taranto of the Wall Street Opinion Journal very observantly compiled this list of quotes by Kerry from the debate, and it lays bare the essence of Kerry's approach to "expressing" his beliefs: say what you think everyone wants to hear, then simply contradict it with a qualifying remark tacked on at the end. It's blatantly dishonest, yet at the same time it's almost subtle, at least for anyone who doesn't pay close enough attention.

___________________________________

By JAMES TARANTO

Bush and 'But'-Head

John Kerry made some strong and sensible statements during the debate last night, but did you notice what the next word usually was? Here are some Kerry quotes:

"I'll never give a veto to any country over our security. But . . ."

"I believe in being strong and resolute and determined. And I will hunt down and kill the terrorists, wherever they are. But . . ."

"We have to be steadfast and resolved, and I am. And I will succeed for those troops, now that we're there. We have to succeed. We can't leave a failed Iraq. But . . ."

"I believe that we have to win this. The president and I have always agreed on that. And from the beginning, I did vote to give the authority, because I thought Saddam Hussein was a threat, and I did accept that intelligence. But . . ."

"I have nothing but respect for the British, Tony Blair, and for what they've been willing to do. But . . ."

"What I want to do is change the dynamics on the ground. And you have to do that by beginning to not back off of the Fallujahs and other places, and send the wrong message to the terrorists. You have to close the borders. You've got to show you're serious in that regard. But . . ."

"I couldn't agree more that the Iraqis want to be free and that they could be free. But . . ."

"No president, through all of American history, has ever ceded, and nor would I, the right to pre-empt in any way necessary to protect the United States of America. But . . ."

"I've never wavered in my life. I know exactly what we need to do in Iraq, and my position has been consistent: Saddam Hussein is a threat. He needed to be disarmed. We needed to go to the U.N. The president needed the authority to use force in order to be able to get him to do something, because he never did it without the threat of force. But . . ."

Maybe Kerry misunderstood when someone told him he needed to have the "qualifications" to be president. But it'd inspire a lot more confidence if he had followed any of these remarks with a "therefore" clause instead of a "but" one.

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That was a great heads-up by Taranto - and in fact I think very revealing about Kerry. Thanks for posting it.

You'll note that the "liberal" media immediately latched onto a few of Bush's smirks (I guess hoping to get even for Gore 2000), but you can be sure they never would have noticed - or if they had - reported on this.

Fred Weiss

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My thoughts on the debate:

One of the biggest differences this year in the Democratic candidate is in courtesy and personality. Last elections debates had Al Gore killing his chances of winning by being extremely rude and snide.(his physical and facial appearences and "ugh!" sounds every other time Bush made a statement.)

Kerry had a rock solid appearence and style to him, except for his gross use of "but" at the start of every few sentences. Content-wise, Kerry was clearly not very strong on foreign policy, particularly with his comments on the US needing to pass a "global test".(specifically, he means that the US must justify its foriegn actions to others outsite its borders) One must wonder how such a test can be passed when "the world" treats us as guilty until proven innocent.

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I think that "global test" phrase was a subconcious slip-up. I think that's how he views foreign policy, but didn't plan to say it, knowing that it would be unpopular with the undecided voter he's trying to win. Something about the way he said it suggested to me that he knew he made a mistake. (Not in thought but in his performance.)

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