Republican Churchill bullshit

Expanding on Joi’s comments about my feelings on the Republican convention: I heard one of my heros, Winston Churchill, invoked repeatedly during the first night of the Republican National Convention on Monday. Comparing George W. Bush to Winston Churchill is disingenuous at best and, for someone as intelligent as Rudy Guliani, downright ignorant. Guliani should read more about his heros before drawing historical analogies to the current president.

Churchill spent almost the entirety of the 1930s in political exile while both parties in his country treated Hitler as a small problem rather than a massive threat. By comparison, the absolute lack of focus on terrorism, which the Bushies dismissed and that the President himself did not want to hear about before 9/11 betrays the fact that his “resolve” is the ultimate act of political opportunism. Instead, anti-terrorism funding was a constant battle for the Clinton administration: The Republican Congress did not want to up funding for the fight against Osama bin Laden.

The Republicans are quite simply full of shit when they say any of their leaders are like Churchill. Churchill was a voice in the wilderness calling for preparations to fight Germany. The Republicans led the slashing of defense budgets for many of the programs they blame John Kerry for gutting. Churchill never signed a deal with Hitler and then blamed Neville Chamberlain for the idea.

Moreover, Churchill was a pragmatic diplomat who was flexible in his response to the world. Guliani’s portrait of President Bush’s resolve, that he set the standard that “you are either with us or with the terrorists” has contributed to a confrontational foreign policy in which, had Churchill acted that way, he would have damned President Roosevelt for refusing to enter the war in 1939, when it was constitutionally impossible for him to do so. That would have cost England the Lend-Lease program that allowed it to rearm and fight for the first three years of World War II. A Bushian approach would have resulted in a German victory, because it would have been ham-handed and rigid, when dexterous diplomacy was the essential ingredient for England’s survival.

George Bush never said a word about terrorism during the campaign in 2000, let alone raising a red flag about it during the 1990s. Instead, his father helped arm the very dictator he targeted in lieu of fighting actual terrorists after 9/11. Osama bin Laden is still on the loose. Guliani blamed the German government for releasing the “surviving terrorists” who worked with the 9/11 hijackers, but why didn’t the U.S. government work with the German government to win a conviction? The reason is the kind of inflexible go-it-alone strategy that Churchill would never have followed. We were already headed down a ridiculous Saddam-centric path that alienated the United States from a world united against the horror of 9/11.

Really, folks, Rudy Guliani did wonders as mayor of New York after 9/11, but he’s so full of shit now that his carrying of Bush’s bags should count against him in 2008.

How do I hate Windows? Let me count…

Mostly, I live on my Macs, but I have a Windows PC that I keep here on the desk to do Windows-only stuff. There are a few Windows apps that I actually need to use on occasion.

Here is the difference between the two platforms in a nutshell (I write after losing yet another Windows install for no discernible reason, having added no software to the damn thing in the last two months and simply restarting it this morning):

Macs give me a lots of little headaches, usually of the compatibility ilk, which are quickly resolved. The Mac also surprises and delights me sometimes.

Windows gives me a lot of big problems. If a Windows installation is corrupted, I find even Norton often cannot resuscitate the fetid behemoth on my desk. When Windows gets a sniffle, Windows just dies. Dead. Thank you, Bill Gates. It seldom delights me; I can’t remember the last time a Windows PC made me happy.

I have a PowerBook G4 with no Microsoft software whatsoever. There’s a Yellow Dog Linux OS on the machine, too, just to see if I find it preferable. But I run Mac OS almost all the time, with Open Office and Gimp to do 99.5 percent of what I do on my main system. I can live without Microsoft and wonder why I’m bothering to do another Windows install on this system. I should throw it away and say “Good riddance.” Alas, I can’t ignore the stupid 90 percent of the market.

Congratulations, Socialtext

I’ve been really honored by the opportunity to work with the folks at Socialtext as an advisor. They raised a Series A round today from Pierre Omidyar, Jun Makihara, Joi Ito, Reid Hoffman, Mark Pincus and Freedom Technology Ventures. Congratulations to Ross, Pete, Ed and Adina.

In a related note, check out what Joi, Susan Mernit and Chris Alden, among others, had to say about the impact of blogging and the Net on magazines at Seybold San Francisco last week, where we were part of the Seybold-Red Herring track on publishing a magazine.

Extreme Democracy: The Online Book

Jon Lebkowsky and I have put together a book about the online activism of the past 18 months and what it means for politics generally. We’re going to be doing a post-election version of the book for a publisher to be named, but have permission to place what we have now online at www.extremedemocracy.com, so that folks can read and use the ideas therein during this election cycle. With essays by Howard Rheingold, Steven Johnson, Joi Ito, Jim Moore and others, the book can be downloaded and read in PDF form, and there’s a blog interface for joining the discussion.

The first half of the book is posted now and the rest will be up shortly. Join the discussion.

The president never said a truer thing….

In the Freudian slip department: During the signing ceremony for the Defense budget today, President Bush let go with a profound truth about the priorities of his administration.

“Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we,” Bush said during his comments. “They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.”

Following a flurry of scary warnings that appear to be groundless (especially considering it was White House spokesman Scott McLellan’s statement on August 4 that characterized the intelligence as “alarming”), Bush’s statement underscores how little thought the Administration puts into the war on terror and how much it puts into the campaign to use terror to keep Americans perpetually off-balance.

Here is the AP story, in case the White House transcript is “corrected” for the history books.

Where the hungry are

A very important map to look at and understand: The U.N. World Food Program Hunger Map (the link is in the middle of the right column on the page). That red and yellow stripe running from the southwest corner up toward the northeast corner is the battle line for a potential confrontation of civilizations. And check out Afghanistan, where our soldiers are–the hungriest nation in the Middle East and Southeast Asia.

Our soldiers are sitting on the fuse and instead of dousing potential fires with massive economic and food aide, we’re leaving our men and women in uniform to fight a fire.