The Third Rail

Tuesday, August 06, 2002


This week's Homer Simpson award goes to the Rand Corporation for their stunning discovery that Saudi Arabia may be an enemy to US interests. Of course, not everyone agrees. For instance, Crown Prince Bandar, Saudi Ambassador to the US says:

“I think that it is a misguided effort that is shallow, and not honest about the facts,” he said. “Repeating lies will never make them facts.”

Maybe we should listen. The Saudis are experts at repeating lies.


Monday, August 05, 2002


I promise a blogroll by the end of the week in the first part of making the Third Rail more professional. Later will come a regular schedule of posting. But now I have laundry to do.


Several weeks ago a friend of a friend and I talked about waging our own propaganda war against terrorist Islam. We felt frustrated by the lack of opportunity to participate in the war effort (and before someone asks why don't I enlist, recruiters tell 28 year olds not to), but wanted to do something. In a state of only partial inebriation we came up with the concept of the "Baloney Bombers" in which we would send pork products to the familes of Palestinian suicide bombers and Bin Laden's relatives in Saudi Arabia. No one dies, and no Muslim uninvolved in terrorist acts would even see the meat of the filthy pig. In any case, we thought we were clever. Who knows we could still do it and appear on Leno as national morale builders, but it looks like we were beaten in concept at least.

Still, I don't think you should harass the average Muslim (Joe Muslim?) because he has some whack-job coreligionists. If anyone has the family addresses of Bin Laden's relatives though...


Almost everybody likes to bash Al Gore's 2000 campaign. It's true he made lots of mistakes, and that his effort seemed uninspired throughout most of it. Failing to carry his home state was most assuredly an unforgiveable blunder. However, let's remember this: the man beat G.W. by a half million votes and he won more popular votes than Clinton ever did in either of his elections. At least the Republicans are paying attention.

I've heard a lot of criticism about Al Gore, but most of it seems derived from a caricature of the man and his policies. Some conservative commentators have written about what Gore would have done after September 11 in an attempt to pump up their boy dubya. This piece is an example of one, but it doesn't hold water. First, any attempt to compare a political opponent in a counterfactual exercise is fatuous. He's always going to pale in comparison because you have the luxury of making up your own facts. But do people really think that the man who bucked his party in supporting the Gulf War, and who prodded a reluctant White House to stop the killings in Kosovo would have shied away from a fight?

His efforts on domestic policy likewise showed a good history with him pushing Clinton into the various policy stances that served the Democrats and the country well (balancing the budget, welfare reform, pushing NAFTA). Gore played the part of the loyal soldier well in supporting his President in tough times, but his independence from Clinton during the election showed how he would have treated the Clinton legacy once inaugurated on his own. Clinton was an opportunist who blundered into the policies that made his name. Even in his underwhelming role as Vice-President, Gore showed good judgment and a decisive manner in the areas he was allowed to govern in. He's no closet socialist nor an environmentalist whack job. He's simply a man whose identified the pressing issues that face this country several years before the country catches up to him. And unlike Clinton, Gore can keep it in his pants.

A while ago some minor headlines were made when Gore mentioned if he ran again he would be more true to himself and less beholden to handlers. Some interpreted that as a way to disavow responsibility for losing the electoral vote, but I think I understood what he meant. The thing I remember most about the 2000 campaign that Gore's popularity rose considerably when he talked from his gut and of course, when "the kiss" happened. His more populist rantings and the media event surrounding the kiss of his wife were heavily criticized among the punditocracy, and shortly thereafter he reverted to his old campaigning self. That garnered him better reviews, but excitement about his campaign declined. The pundits were wrong. I think if he had the inner courage to keep true to his instincts, he would have won. I think he knows it too, and he's overcome the defeat and will emerge a stronger person because of it. The tepid Gore failed to inspire, the populist Gore was criticized but could energize his supporters. I don't think populist rhetoric necessarily means a return to the policies of the 1890's. Gore's a much smarter person than that, and his record shows an admirable and consistent centrist record.

The 2000 election is over, but the topic I see people commenting on is whether Gore will run in 2004. The pundits don't like it. The supporters of President Bush find it laughable, and the apparatchiks of the Democratic party don't desire it. In other words, all the right people are against him. I hope he does run.


Omigod. It's finally happened. Someone in the mainstream blogosphere (read: Glenn's Blogroll) has linked to me. How did this happen?

I'm on no one's blog index (except the lovely Jess Hammer whose musings are of a more personal and decidedly non-political nature), nor do I email other bloggers imploring them to please read my kewl postings. I doubt it's a search engine, so I can only assume he traced back a link to him that I posted. But in either case, does this actually mean that... people are reading my blog and I have no idea who the hell they are?

Terrifying.

It truly is because it means I can no longer be lazy. Friends and family can put up with my nonexistent blogroll, the mass typos from hastily written posts, and various other assorted errors (I don't even have a contact email on Third Rail!) But now that I've been outed by Rantburg, everything's public now. Time to bring my quotient of profanity down to acceptable levels. Damn you, Rantburg! A public blog?? Glenn and company are talking about the intricacies of transitioning to Sekimori and MovableType, problems with archiving, and unique layouts. I don't even know how to check how many hits I get. And now I'm forced to run with the big boys way before I'm ready.

So I promise everyone now I will do my best to bring the Third Rail to the minimum acceptable standards as opposed to the half-assed stuff I'm doing now. The quality of writing will remain the same unfortunately.

And by the way Rantburg, thanks for the link. Surprised the hell out of me this morning.


If this is about promoting recruitment among qualified minorities, I'm all for it. If they gut the SEAL program by lowering standards to accept washouts who happen to be minorities, then this is the worst damn thing to happen to SpecForces since the morons decided to give non-Rangers the black beret. That was simply insulting, the former will get someone killed.


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