The Command Post - 2004 US Presidential Election

From the Command Post:

The Command Post reports that the Dean campaign has "paused" its nationwide ads, in favor of a focus on New Hampshire. That sounds like a tacit recognition of the truth: if Dean comes in third or later in NH, he's done. The only thing he can do at that point is bring his big war-chest to bear as an enticement to sway the real nominee to give him a good position in the new government, should the party be successful in the general election. It's therefore important to conserve that resource.

If Dean manages second or, against the odds, wins in NH, he'll be back to his 50 state plan. As has been reported, Kerry has limited funding to campaign across the country. Edwards, who everyone agrees was really Iowa's big winner, has a different problem. South Carolina is the next big poll, yes; but even if he wins, there will then be eight more non-Southern states, including two more New England states, before any more of the South votes. Edwards has to make the argument that he is the most electable nominee stand in the face of those eight states' returns, which are not as likely to favor him as the South.

So, it's possible that Dean, if he can survive in NH, may likewise survive being brutalized in South Carolina to fight on through the eight states that follow. (Arizona, Delaware, Missouri, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Michigan, Washington State, and Maine, if you're keeping score.) The week after that, Tennessee and Virginia vote.

Since people are offering their reads on these things, I'd say Dean has to pull first or second in NH to stay in the game. If he's feeling bold, he might try to stick it out even with a third place finish, but the evidence suggests he's already making contingency plans to buy the influence he can't win through the electorate. Edwards can survive whatever comes in NH, but if he wins SC, and then the next week carries TN and VA, he can probably ignore the results in the eight states and win the nomination on the strength of the Super Tuesday vote. If he loses SC, TN, or VA, he's not likely to win the nomination. Still a long shot, but not nearly as long as he was.

As Mark Steyn reports, the Democratic party's political functionaries seem to have rallied behind Kerry. That may go a long way to undo his finance troubles. It may be Dean can buy him, too, which infusion would be all he likely needs. If he does carry NH strongly, I'd say a Dean purchase and Kerry as the nominee are most likely, but with Edwards not being out of it until after TN and VA vote--he could still win if the bulk of the party decides on the evidence that he can split the South in the general election.

They like Bush, and they are not stupid -

"We Have Always Stood Up for Freedom"

De Beste commented on the strength of the Australian-US relationship a few days ago. I notice an article in Australia's The Age that suggests why our relationship is so strong:

The Iraq war has cost the lives of about 500 American soldiers. Some would have you believe that this makes Iraq a quagmire. But the truth is, if Western nations have come to the point where 500 deaths is an unbearable war-time loss, then we should also say we are no longer prepared to fight wars, because about the same number of soldiers die every year, in peacetime.

Americans are not casual about casualties. Each and every one of the lives lost was precious to them. I remember sitting on a small plane, travelling from North Carolina to New York, when the war was a few weeks old. I was reading USA Today and, as I opened it to study a map of Iraq, one half of the newspaper fell into the lap of my fellow passenger. I turned to apologise, but he said: "No problem. Actually, do you mind if I have a look?"

Together we studied the picture, trying to work out how far the Americans were from seizing power. It was clear from the diagrams that troops were near Saddam's airport, and close to the centre of Baghdad. I turned to my seat mate and said: "I don't think this is going to be a long battle, after all."

It was only then that I noticed, with horror, that he had started to cry. And then I noticed something else: a photograph, wrapped in plastic, pinned to his lapel. It was a picture of his 20-year-old son, a young marine who died in the first days of the war....

The couple told me they had just been to a private meeting with Bush to discuss the loss of their son. At the time, it was already clear that Saddam didn't have any weapons of mass destruction.

"But I never thought it was about the weapons," my seat mate said. And, although I can't remember his exact words, he also said something like: "We have always stood up for freedom, in our own country, and for other people."

Any student of history knows that this is true. America saved the Western world from communism. America saved Australia and, for that matter, France from a system that would stop you from reading this newspaper.

Americans support the war in Iraq and, by extension, Bush because they see it as part of a bigger picture. Like everybody, they now know that Saddam was not the threat they thought he was (at least, not to them) but they still think it was a good idea to deal with him, before he became one.

The price of freedom is high. You might think you would not sacrifice your life for it, but maybe you don't have to. After all, 20-year-old Americans are doing it for you, every day.

Former Green Beret Guides GIs in Thicket of Iraq (

Chaplain Corps:

Hail a hero, "12-year Green Beret, Persian Gulf War combat veteran, Special Forces company commander, demolitions expert, high-altitude jumper and deep-sea scuba diver" turned chaplain: United States Army Captain Daniel Knight.

John Derbyshire on Space Exploration on National Review Online

On Space:

I remain a big fan of the private colonization of space. There are good arguments that it may not turn out to be the "libertarian paradise" that is suggested by many, number one of which being: it would be easier and cheaper to go and colonize Antartica, if it came to that. Conditions are less rough, really. Still, the colonization of space has a flair to it that may inspire Men where Antartica does not. If we want to do it, we probably will.

A good argument as to why the space program can't be left to the government is made today by John Derbyshire. John correctly points out that the only real government interest in space is, and will remain, military:

The things we must do are all military. The main one is, protection of our assets in orbit. When a US Special Forces scout in the Hindu Kush gets down from his mule, unpacks his laptop, takes a GPS reading and calls in an air strike on an al Qaeda camp in the next valley, he needs to know that GPS satellite is in orbit and functioning. If it is, then he is the Angel of Death. If it isn't, he's just a guy with a mule and a game of solitaire. This is important.
He lists several more examples, all of which are essential and military, and none of which require manned space programs. Ultimately, American tax payers will probably not support huge projects that have little practical value. Unless something changes the practical necessities--Chinese military expansion into space, for example--we'll probably stay right here if we leave it to the government.

Kerry Wins Iowa Democratic Presidential Caucuses (

Dean a Distant Third in Iowa:

This seems like an early indication of good news for the NRA and my liquor cabinet. Of course, Iowa is a little strange as predictors go. Still, it's interesting that the candidate with the largest Democratic fundraising and a famed organization should finish a distant third, having managed only roughly half the delegates of the second-place finisher, John Edwards. That gives Dean fewer than one in five of the total delegates.

The Dean blog carries some pretty sorrowful notes just now. "Jane Doe" speaks for the movement, I expect, when she says: "And now, I move to France. Goodnight America. I wish you luck." Don't let the door hit you, Jane.

I think the Edwards finish is the story of the night, really. I expected him to be out of the race by now. He seems like a nice young fellow, a good Southerner and a resolute in refusing to go negative. Unlike Dean, he could do well in the South. If this finish gets some attention for him, his campaign may pick up from here. He's still a very long shot, but it's no longer implausible that he could win.

A Death in the Family

A Death in the Family:

Alas! I have heard that one of our own has passed on. It is a tragic tale, one of the harshest I have known. It should never have been like this.

Her name was Leslie, and she entered the family by marriage to one of my cousins. She was smarter than he was, by far, and more disciplined besides. They met at the University of Tennessee, and he often credited her that he ever managed to finish his degree at all. She went on to Mercer, a private university in Georgia, where she got a graduate degree in pharmacology.

I remember their wedding, a grand affair at a Baptist church in Rocky Hill, Tennessee. Their feast, on the green lawn of my Uncle Gene's back yard, was as joyous a time as I can recall. Everyone was happy. My cousin, the firstborn of our kin in his generation, was married to a woman of strength and character, brilliant and beautiful. Everyone was happy.

When Leslie graduated from Mercer, I went to the ceremony. It was both majestic and Medieval. The faculty wore hooded robes in the heraldic colors of their departments. The President of the college bore a mace as a symbol of authority. When Leslie got her degree, my cousin let out a "Yee-ha!" whoop, a Rebel Yell, such as earned him many scowls from others of my family for showing low class in a gathering of such ceremony. We had dinner, after, at one of Atlanta's finest restaurants.

I saw them rarely after that, but Leslie was mother to one of my favorite cousins, Jennifer, born like me in the Year of the Tiger. She also bore another son, Zack, and they moved into what had been my grandfather's house. Everything should have gone well.

It did not. A pharmacist, Leslie gave in to temptation--as do we all, at times--and found herself addicted to her own concoctions. Her needs grew, and divorce followed. She tried, and failed, to win custody of the children. She fell back in to her mother's house, banned from practicing her profession, and never won free. She died yesterday, having lost all her teeth, grown from a beauty to a creature of two hundred pounds. It was her liver, which failed her at last.

In a way it makes sense, but I finally fail to understand. It is a tragedy that something which began so well should end so badly. I trust that kindness follows in another place. For those who read this, guard yourselves with strength and ready blades. Even for the shining, death and ruin await.


Happy REL Day:

Southern Appeal remarks on how this is the birthday of another famous Southerner.