Monday, September 27, 2004

For a moment there, I was confused...

USA Today just released results of a new survey that shows, among other things:

For the first time in Kerry's candidacy, Kerry no longer enjoys an advantage in economic issues.

A majority of voters feel Bush has a plan for Iraq. An even bigger majority feels Kerry does not have a plan for Iraq.

For the first time, a majority of voters feel Kerry is not qualified to be Commander in Chief.

A majority of voters feel Bush will lead America in the right direction, while more voters than not feel Kerry will lead us in the wrong direction.

So, you might imagine this is good news for Bush, right?

Well, you would be dead wrong.

The headline of the story: "Bush's lead gets smaller in poll".

Thank God we have an objective press to keep us from misinterpreting the news.

Friday, September 17, 2004

Losing a price war

It is axiomatic in business that you never start a price war with a competitor who has a cost advantage. If you do, and they engage, they will drive prices below your cost, perhaps long enough to run you right out of business. Common sense, eh? You would certainly think so.

On the political front, a similar concept applies. Never sling mud if there is a chance it can come back at you and stick on your face. And never, never falsely accuse your opponent of something you have provably done yourself. The truth will catch up with you every time.

Enter John Kerry. Here is a candidate who understands the adage, if you say it long enough and loud enough, people will tend to believe it. Hence, he and his fellow Leftists accuse President Bush of all manner of wrongdoing.

The corollary adage is, it ain't necessarily so. If one side presents facts and logic that support its story, then the other side is likely to lose. What goes around comes around.

Just the other day, Kerry blamed Bush for a 17% increase in Medicare premiums. He failed to mention the increase was scheduled by legislation passed in 1997, when Bush was in Texas. And the blowback is the fact that John Kerry was in the Senate and voted for that very same increase.

What goes around comes around.

Back in communist China's Cultural Revolution, it was a crime simply to be accused of a crime. That appears to be the mentality of today's Left. Bush is accused of being a slacker during his National Guard days. No actual evidence supports this theory, save a few forged documents proffered by CBS News. But Bush is certainly guilty of being accused, isn't he? So Dan Rather demands Bush answer the questions raised by the forged documents.

On the other hand, self-admitted, treasonous criminal activity by Kerry during those same years apparently carry no weight at all. Not to the Left, who make up Kerry's core supporters and who fully approve of his Vietnam-era anti-American behaviour.

So they escalate the price war.

You would think someone from Harvard would be capable of learning from experience, but his entire campaign speaks of another reality-- that John Kerry is a remedial case, who simply cannot think clearly. He started a political price war he cannot possibly win.

The accusations about Bush's military service drone on. Bush signed the now-famous form 180, authorizing release of all military records, waiving all privacy rights. John Kerry has never signed that form. Stubborn facts sometimes have to be hidden.

Bush is accused of being a "deserter", "AWOL", or a "coward". Based on what? Allegations from forged documents? In the meantime, Kerry himself has confessed to committing war crimes in Vietnam. He also admits meeting with the enemy, while still an officer in the United States Navy. That would be a federal crime, of course. Now weigh the two: unsubstantiated accusations of being a "slacker", versus self-admission of treasonous criminality.

The Swift Boat Vets, some 200 plus of them, provided eyewitness accounts that suggest John Kerry is something other than the war hero he pretends to be. Not one of their allegations have been disproven, of course. The Kerry camp simply accuses the Swifties of being liars. No factual rebuttal, just "liars". Meanwhile, American voters are increasingly agreeing with the Swifties, and Kerry's voter support continues to erode.

But this does not deter the Left. They insist on escalating the price war, despite increasing polling evidence this is costing them votes and gains them nothing. Voters clearly don't want a president who cannot overcome his obsession with a war we fought thirty years ago, but Kerry and his Left drone on.

What is it they call someone who keeps doing the same thing over and again, while expecting a different result?

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Boiling frogs

If you toss a frog into a pan of boiling water, he will immediately jump out. But if you place him in a pan of cool water and slowly increase the heat, he will boil and die. He simply fails to notice the gradually increasing heat until it is too late.

Social revolutions of every sort have been typified by established power's failure to notice the heat turning up. One day, Fidel Castro marches into Havana, too late for Batista to act. Hitler panics a democratic Germany into giving him "emergency" powers, and a dictatorship is born. On a more domestic front, IBM fails to acknowledge the importance of its own personal computer technology and passively cedes its market to Microsoft, making Bill Gates the wealthiest human in the known galaxy.

Mainstream media (MSM) have long known about the Internet, and the blogosphere. But, by casting bloggers as pajama-wearing nobodies, they fail to notice bloggers can bring down a network. In the process, the pajamahadeen is born.

I hyperbolically overstate my case, of course. Bloggers have not and will not bring down CBS News. FoxNews will do that for us. In fact, bloggers depend on MSM for publicity. We need them, and manipulate them by taking advantage of their blind spots. When we need attention to a subject, we go to the one source of competition they do recognize, and truly fear: cable news. FoxNews in particular.

In the CBS/Rathergate story, the blogs brought the story to the attention of FoxNews, the cable news leader. Fox kept the story alive long enough to force MSM to act-- and act they did. MSM does not fear the bloggers, but panic at the encroachment of FoxNews. Fox eats their advertising revenue.

The real revolution is not the blogosphere, per se. It is competition in the media news marketplace, first brought by talk radio, and then cable news. The failing of broadcast news-- CBS, NBC and ABC-- is they did not recognize competition from cable news until it was too late. CNN, once the cable alternative to MSM, is now MSM itself. They too failed to recognize competition, and now FoxNews has twice the audience of CNN on any given night. During the Republican Convention, FoxNews had more viewers than any of the Big Three. Truly revolutionary.

But bloggers have their critical role, and give huge potential leverage to competitors, in a symbiotic relationship. Competitive media need us, just as we bloggers need them. MSM failed to notice the competition because they are a homogeneous lot-- no intellectual diversity to speak of. 90% of MSM journalists vote the same way. And, although Dan Rather and his ilk would have you believe bloggers are all right wing nuts, the blogosphere is in fact the seedbed of diversity. There is no shortage of left wing web sites out there. is organized around a web site, is it not?

Dan Rather, Bill O'Reilly and others are suspicious of the Internet. They don't trust the Internet because bloggers are a disorganized, unruly, uncontrolled mob. We lack the journalistic training and standards they pretend to hold dear. MSM says nobody fact-checks and vets web stories. On the contrary, we are the fact-checkers. We are, and have access to, lawyers, scientists, engineers, historians, doctors, forensic experts of all manner, humourists, writers and even journalists.

A mob, yes. But not really disorganized, rather self-organizing. We swap spit, we swap ideas, we act together or alone, as the mood and situation suits us. We are democracy in action.

We all have our bias, but as an individual blogger I wear my opinions on my sleeve and am countered and checked by thousands of other individual opinions in the blogosphere. I have no rank, no power base, no credentials and no influence other than my thoughts and ideas and my ability to present them. They succeed or fail on their own merits, as judged by readers everywhere.

It is MSM, with it's imaginary monopoly and high-priest mentality, that attempts to edit and control what individual citizens will know and think. These are the franchised autocrats who can toss integrity aside to acquiesce to a personal, political agenda-- even including an attempt to alter the outcome of a national election. Worse, when they do so, it is probably not even intentional on their part. I seriously doubt Dan Rather consciously realizes the extent to which he has abandoned his integrity. Such is the intoxicating power of hubris. Hence, Rathergate.

MSM is the self-appointed autocracy, while the blogosphere is almost pure democracy. Right, left, tinfoil-hat or stone-cold-sober, bloggers compete with ideas. Individual citizens eventually decide what is true and what to believe. In a recent survey, Rasmussen reports only 27% of the public thinks the Rathergate documents are not forgeries. The emperor has no clothes.

The marketplace of ideas will win the day.

And boiled frogs will rain from the heavens.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Clear as...mud?

"Draw the contrast; be crystal clear about it. That's what I've been doing every day."

So says John Kerry, in a Time interview dated today.

Be crystal clear about it. Every day. Was that before Kerry was the anti-war candidate, or after? Before the $87 billion vote, or after? Before he voted for the war resolution, or after? Before he negotiated treaties with secret foreign allies, or after?

Or perhaps in the have-it-both-ways ether-world, where Kerry dwells-- every day.

Friday, September 10, 2004

It's too easy

Regarding the forged documents, that CBS is amazingly insisting are genuine, I did a test. I grabbed the original document from here. I cut the word "from", beginning the second line of the first paragraph. I saved the image as a .jpg image file. You can see how the top of the "f" slightly but noticeably overhangs the part of the "r".

If it is not obvious to the eye, save the image, open it with an image editor like Photoshop or even Paint that comes with every pc these days. Enlarge the image and attempt to draw a straight, vertical line between the "f" and "r". You will see how the edges of the two letters overlap the vertical line.

The typesetting term for this effect is "kerning", and permits letters to be squeezed slightly closer, where appropriate, to make for a nice appearance.

The point is, even proportional spacing typewriters from the 1973 era simply did not do this. Proportional spaced typing provided for some letters to be narrower than others, but each letter began to the right of the previous letter. No overlap.

Dan Rather and CBS News had experts examine this document, and they concluded it was the real deal, typewritten in the early seventies.

I think not.

Where the sun don't shine

A flash from Drudge this morning nearly caused me to do a spit take with my coffee, endangering my ergonomic keyboard yet again. I enjoy a good laugh once in a while, but this was almost too much to take.

The entire world-- except Dan Rather-- knows CBS News is a left-wing news dinosaur that gladly carries water for the Democrats. The story they did on 60 Minute's Wednesday show, in which they purported to reveal new, secret documents that would prove once and for all that Bush was AWOL, or whatever, was pretty obviously a revenge/hit piece on behalf of the Kerry campaign. Without revealing the source of the mysterious documents, CBS assured us they had their own experts determine the documents were genuine.


Within hours, the blogosphere busted them. Led by Powerline, many bloggers looked at the documents and became immediately suspicious. At a glance, anyone who ever typed a memo in the early seventies would realize the document looked too good. Too pretty. Not only proportionally spaced, but apparently typeset. Kerned-- in which letters are not just proportionally spaced horizontally, but are actually "tucked" into each others' white space where suitable. Kerned letters actually overlap horizontal space, slightly. Can't be done on any typewriter from the early seventies.

I say typeset, because modern word processors simply did not exist back then. Even the relatively advanced systems that began to appear a few years later were clumsy and crude by today's standards. To get this kind of quality, you had to use a typesetting system. Hardly likely in an Air Force office setting, where the mystery memo was presumed to have been created.

But a current version of Microsoft Word, and a laser or inkjet printer will produce a document with a quality rivaling the best typesetters of thirty years ago.

So I repeated the test performed by another blogger. I took a copy of the mysterious document, opened Microsoft Word with default settings, and typed the memo in as straight text. The sentences and words naturally wrapped and broke exactly as the memo. The letters from one line to the next were aligned horizontally in the same manner as the original. With no effort and using default settings, I reproduced the fake document perfectly.

Kids, we're not professionals here, do try this at home.

An obvious fake. Not even well done. A serious forgery attempt would at least have used a fixed-pitch font such as Courier. No matter, case dismissed.

Now CBS News is stunned. Dan Rather himself is reported to be "shell-shocked", and CBS has launched an internal investigation. Sort of a corporate self-colonoscopy. I wonder what they might find in there, tucked between flaps of fetid polyps? John Kerry's hero medals? Bill Clinton's memory? Hillary's law office billing documents?

Dan Rather's journalistic credentials, perhaps?

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Russia's roulette

As an engineer in the world of complex technology, one learns to distinguish between technical problems and management decisions. When things fall apart and chaos reigns, problems and decisions are easily confused.

Often users of large scale systems ask engineers to provide a technical solution to what is in fact a management problem. If the root of some crisis is that the hardware guys are not talking to the network guys, then the real problem is the business structure, not a technical issue. No amount of tweaking or patching will take the place of the executive decision that is required.

After all the tears have dried after the Islamic-perpetrated massacre of Russian children last weekend, Vladimir Putin is going to have to realize that he has something far more serious than an uprising in a breakaway republic-- a "technical" problem, in a military or political sense. Rather, he has a decision to make regarding the larger historic and cultural forces at play. He can ignore or appease the Islamic fanatics for now, preferring to protect Russia's business relations with Iran, or he can join us in the global war on Islamic terrorism. Personally, I think it's a complete no-brainer. But what Putin thinks, who knows?

Why Iran? Well, with nuclear weapons, missiles and proximity to both Israel and a good part of Europe, they are the most dangerous country in the world right now, even bigger a threat than North Korea. They are sending cadres by the thousands into Iraq, doing their murderous best to prevent a democratic Iraq from emerging from Saddam Hussein's rubble. And they support al Qaeda around the globe, including in Chechnya. The black hand of the ayatollahs must be behind the children's massacre last week, at least indirectly.

Surely Putin must realize by now the ayatollahs of Iran are not his friends. Although Russia has contributed materially to Iran's nuclear program and the two countries ought otherwise to be best pals, Russia must feel threatened by Iran's unabashed support of Islamic fascism. If it was not clear before last week, the view must be crystalline today.

Russia ought to get together with George Bush immediately and join the global fight on terror. He needs to send a couple of divisions of his finest troops straight to Iraq to help fend off the Iranian threat and help seal the border. Russia needs to differentiate itself from the crass greed and corruption of France's betrayal and take a moral stance against evil.

Certainly there is risk with either decision, but the Islamic fascists will be neither appeased nor ignored. Nor is any country exempt, regardless of their foreign policy or trading partners. If you are not an Islamic fascist state, then you are the enemy of al Qaeda and are a target. Putin understands the objective of the terrorists is destabilization of the region, not just rebellion in Chechnya. So the long term risk is against Russia if it fails to act decisively and quickly.

By deciding to fight terror globally, he would not only send a clear message to the world he is solidly behind us and against the terrorists, he would also help set the stage for the next phase of this fourth world war-- regime change in Iran. As Bush said at the outset, you are on one side or the other.

As for France... screw 'em.

Monday, September 06, 2004

Can't stop talking Vietnam just yet

The New York Times reports Bill Clinton gave John Kerry some election advice: stop talking about Vietnam. This would have been great advice some months ago, but it's too late now. Kerry cannot ignore the Swift Boat Vets any longer, he must answer their allegations.

It's even worse than that. The first wound, if self-inflicted as his campaign now admits may be the case, should not have resulted in a Purple Heart award, since there was therefore no enemy fire-- no actual combat. If so, then he did not qualify for the "three and out" rule. This in turn lends credence to the allegation he was a "ticket puncher" and fully intended in advance to take advantage of that rule to leave Vietnam early.

And when that domino falls over, he is no longer the hero that did a tour of duty, only to have that service interrupted by combat wounds. No, any officer who fakes wounds and leaves his troops in battle simply to avoid actual personal injury would be a coward. Kerry now must prove he was not a coward.

And the Silver Star citation issue, where it was presumably signed by John Lehman, as Secretary of the Navy many years after the fact, and Lehman denying he even knew about the citation. How is it possible a Secretary of the Navy would be asked to endorse a Silver Star citation rewritten for (or by?) a then-sitting United States senator, and that Navy Secretary not know about it? Lehman strikes me as a serious, credible man. Are Kerry and going to attack John Lehman as a liar, a right-wing conspirator?

Moreover, these two credibility issues don't come from the Swifties at all, rather from his hagiography and his campaign site respectively.

These and the issues that are indeed raised by the Swifties won't go away-- they have a life of their own now. He must come clean and discuss the facts. Even his own biographer seems to be distancing himself from Kerry, suggesting Kerry needs to release his military records.

By making Vietnam the centerpiece of his entire campaign, Kerry has invited this upon himself. He has nobody to blame but himself. And he can't stop talking about it until he comes up with real answers to some very real questions.

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