Wednesday, December 31, 2003

2003 OBITS

Looking over the celebrity deaths of the year I had forgotten that Hume Cronyn died, thought Art Carney was already dead and never even heard the news of Buddy Hackett's passing. Reading further I see that Hackett died when I was without the benefit of American newspapers.

Gordon Jump from WKRP in Cincinnati died too. He was 71. He replaced the aging Jesse White as the Maytag repairman in the late 1980s. White, was in the movie HARVEY with James Stewart, didn't die until 1997. White had a great voice and can be heard on Stan Freberg's United States of America. I always thought the switch to Gordon Jump was the youth movement, but they should have thought even younger. The next Maytag repairman should be Drew Carey.

Buddy Ebsen was a sad loss. Davey Crockett was my favorite Disney film growing up. And I also watch the Beverly Hillbillies quite a bit back then.

Hepburn, Peck and Hope all went. I can't remember three stars of that magnitude going in the same year before. Three people that hadn't worked in years that were still fondly remembered. Also, Johnny Cash, Elia Kazan and John Ritter rounded out a pretty talented bunch.

Terminator raises Park fees.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger will raise state park fees to their highest levels ever, making California one of the most expensive places in the country for a family to spend time outdoors in a government-run park.

State officials disclosed Tuesday that beginning July 1, the daily cost for a family to camp at a state park will nearby double, from a maximum of $13 to $25. As part of a new sliding scale, fees will be higher during times such as the Memorial Day weekend when demand is greatest.

Asked to comment on how the increases square with Schwarzenegger's campaign promise not to raise taxes, aides said that there was a technical difference between fees and taxes, and that the governor had not broken his no-new-tax vow.

"This is not a tax," state parks spokesman Roy Stearns said Tuesday. "People have no choice but to pay a tax. People have a choice as to whether they want to pay this fee. It's like going to the movies."

User-fees are the most democratic form of revenue raising. It allows people to vote with their checkbooks. Calling this fee hike a tax is ridiculous. Parks cost money. Why should the larger expense be made by people who don't use them? I would be happy to see all government services take a user fee approach.

Tuesday, December 30, 2003


I'm getting long-winded today, but I've been sick for so long I feel that I'm behind in my blogging.

A few weeks ago I reviewed the disappointing LAST SAMURAI. Thomas Hibbs has a related article on the vogue of Japanese culture and how the modern day movies are getting it wrong. The article is really an exploration of Akira Kurosawa more than anything. I'll beat the Kurosawa drum once more. To read the whole article click here.
In Hollywood, Japanese styles and themes are in vogue, as is evident from recent box-office hits such as Kill Bill and The Last Samurai. Despite their critical acclaim and their purported desire to be faithful to Japanese sources, these films are but vulgar distortions of Japanese film culture, especially of the work of Akira Kurosawa, whose films influenced such American classics as The Magnificent Seven, A Fistful of Dollars, and Star Wars.
President Mohammad Khatami said Tuesday U.S. aid to earthquake victims in Iran, while welcome, would not alter the state of relations between the two arch foes who broke off ties nearly a quarter century ago.

"I don't think this incident will change our relations with the United States," Khatami told a news conference in the capital of southeastern Kerman province where officials say up to 50,000 people were killed in a quake that struck Friday.

If you like, we could topple your regime or something. Would that make you feel better?

I’m moving into a friend’s house that is moving away to Ohio for a job. She’s not sure if she will return but she’s keeping the power, cable and gas running in case she does.

I called the cable company to get a cable modem installed. They were more than friendly until they realized that owner of the house already had an open account with them. According to their rules I needed to get her authorization to add the cable modem. “Why?” I asked.

“ Because if she didn’t authorize the cable modem I could run up pay per view bills that she’d be responsible for” the lady on the phone said. I pointed out that I didn’t want to piggyback on her account, but wanted my own separate account that I would alone be responsible for.

“We can’t do that,” the woman said. I kept being handed off to more people who could only tell me that the computer wouldn’t let them open an account at a residence that already had an account. I said simply that I want to open an account that I will be 100% responsible for and are more than willing to pay $40 a month to do so.

“No” they said. “She would either have to authorize it on her own account or cancel her account so that I could open one in my own name.”

Well, I said, “Why not let me open one in my own name now?”

“The computer won’t let me,” she said.

The supervisor couldn’t tell me anymore than that. Finally another manager got on the line and said that the company had declared bankruptcy recently and one of the reasons was that they were counting cable customers and cable modem customers separately. “What nonsense,” I said. “ I don’t care how you count what. Just give me what I want. I’m the customer. The reason you are declaring bankruptcy is that I am offering to pay you $40 a month for a service that you can easily provide and you are asking me the customer to jump through hoops.”

“That’s your perception sir,” he said.

“What’s your perception? I asked. “Here I am offering you my money and you want me to jump through hoops. I’d call another cable company if you weren’t a monopoly. Instead, I’ll go with DSL and you’ll still lose out. It’s not your accounting tricks that are ruining your business but an inability to give customers what they want, when they want it, and at a price they are willing to pay”

If it were not for DSL, I’d have to settle for dial up or cow tow to this monolith that the government created. When the government broke up ATT&T long distance phone bills dropped and service got better. Cable companies need the same treatment.

But to go one further, I would ask anyone who has had these kinds of experiences with corporations why they continue to support a larger government and more spending. I can choose whether or not I want Adelphia cable, but I’m not s customer of the government. They are holding a gun to my head demanding payment.

I could have called her and had her add Cable Modem to her account and paid her every month, but I’m not spending $40 a month to be treated, as they would like. I’m already paying for too many unconstitutional government services and being treated like a number. I’m not going to do it voluntarily. But isn't that what people who support more government spending are doing?

The freewheeling, gossipy Internet sites they operate can be controversial: Matt Drudge, the wired news and gossip hound who broke the story about Monica Lewinsky's affair with Bill Clinton, is a blogger. Many bloggers are not professional journalists. Few have editors. Most make no pretense of objectivity.

Yet they're forcing the mainstream news media to follow the stories they're pushing, such as the scandal that took down Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott. And they've created a trend that almost every major presidential candidate is following. Even President Bush's campaign Web site hosts a blog.

The Dude's anaology of the little fish being more agile is in evidence here. Even with big government and big corporations trying to run our lives for us, the Internet makes it difficult for them to push agendas. The blogosphere is liberty at its finest.

The Cuban authorities have launched an inquiry into how the official newspaper of the Communist party ran a front page photograph of Fidel Castro which appeared to have been doctored to make him look like Adolf Hitler.

Although details of what happened remain unclear, what is known is that someone or some group at the newspaper appears to have risked all in the name of political satire.

Yesterday a spokesman for the newspaper confirmed that an investigation was under way, but that the photographer who took the picture was not responsible.

Does Bush run an investigation when Gary Trudeau mischaracterizes him in Doonesbury? Does anyone think such an investigation by Castro into this incident will make Trudeau indignant to the lack of freedom in Cuba? My guess is that he and other free speech liberals will look the other way. Jimmy Carter is probably on a plane to Cuba now to praise their wonderful healthcare.

Wednesday, December 24, 2003


What do you make of the Islamic websites urging Muslims to leave American big cities?
"Our Muslim brothers in America, this is our final warning. We ask you, as fast as you can, to leave the following cities immediately: Washington D.C., New York City, Los Angeles," the message said.

It's been so quiet since 911, it would be easy to ignore any such warning. On the otherhand, they've had a few years to plan an attack and they do seem to come every 2 or 3 years.

Why does the President allow Norman Minetta to measure airport safety against political correctness? Would it be such a bad thing to screen Middle Eastern people more thoroughly than Granny?

Monday, December 22, 2003


When I'm back to normal I promise to be more topical and interesting. In the meantime enjoy this fun little game. Think of a sitcom character or dictator and it will ask you questions until it figures out who you chose. It guessed a few obscure ones like Larry Mondello from leave it to Beaver and David Nelson from Ozzie and Harriet. I never stumped it.

Sunday, December 21, 2003


This was as sick as I have been in years. I haven’t had medicine in days and yet I still have trouble putting rational thoughts together. Thinking back, I’ve been sick three of the last four Christmas seasons. It must be some sort of combination with the hordes brining their sickness to Orlando and the change of season.

I missed Saddam getting captured. South Park had a funny episode on Wednesday that referenced it. I missed Madeline Albreight suggest that the Bush administration was hiding Osama for the election. I missed Quaddafi giving up his weapons. Howard Dean and even Wesley Clark are going to have a fun time explaining how Bush is blowing everything. The war is going even better than the administration thought.

Saturday, December 13, 2003

Elian Gonzalez turns 10
One of the strongest arguments put forward to justify returning Elian Gonzalez to his father in Cuba was that he would not be able to live a normal life in the United States. The little boy, who survived by clinging to an inner tube when his mother drowned trying to flee from Castro's Cuba in a flimsy, overcrowded boat, became a symbol of freedom to anti-Castro Cuban exiles. Then, he became the center of an international custody battle. But Elian's life in Castro's Cuba has been far from normal.

In Miami, the little boy was doted upon by the family that took him in and was celebrated as "a miracle child" by Miami's Cuban-American community. He was showered with toys and smothered in loving attention. In Cuba, he is used as a symbol of Cuban Communism and is exhibited like a trophy. The message Castro wants to send is that the return of Elian, who gave every indication that he wanted to stay with his relatives in Miami, was a victory over the United States.

This interpretation of events overlooks the fact that the Clinton administration, with Attorney General Janet Reno in command of operations, seized the little boy from his adoptive home at gunpoint. (On Tuesday, Elian's Miami relatives filed a lawsuit seeking damages against six federal agents, alleging that the officers broke down the front door unannounced, sprayed tear gas, held people at gunpoint and shouted obscenities at unarmed relatives, supporters and news media in the pre-dawn raid in April 2000.)

Elian's 10th birthday last week was used by Cuban dictator Fidel Castro to deliver a speech in which he raged at the U.S. government, describing it as "monstrous" and its officials as "idiots" and "bandits." But he said he didn't put the American people in that same category. "No one can blame them for the system they live in."

During the birthday party, celebrated at the school Elian attends in Cardenas, 85 miles east of Havana, Castro helped Elian blow out the candles on a huge birthday cake.

It is only possible to speculate about how Elian feels about the decisions that have been made for him that have changed his life. Apart from the official media, which are totally controlled by the government, no journalist has been allowed to interview Elian.

Certainly, none of the reporters at the birthday celebration were allowed to get near enough to the little boy to speak to him. It would be interesting to know what he thought of the two-and-a-half hour speech by Castro that he was forced to sit through. Hardly a little boy's idea of birthday fun. One thing is certain, 10-year-old Elian, once a symbol of freedom, has been turned into a dictator's trophy.

Did Ann Frank belong with her family in a concentration camp or would it have been permisible to save her?

Friday, December 12, 2003


One of the best criticisms I’ve heard about the media during campaigns is their disregard for the issues and their insistence on covering the horse race aspects instead. While they may like the watching the contest best, they might consider that these guys are going to have a lot of power and it might be interesting to see how they would use that power. Ted Koppel, who doesn't seem to mind asking tough questions on his regular show, fell right into the campaign trap.
Another aide to Mr. Clark put it more pointedly, if anonymously: "I think the big loser tonight was Ted Koppel. He was short on substance and short on class. It was an ad for Howard Dean and a negative ad for the Republican National Committee by repeatedly advertising all the flaws of the candidates."

Steve Elmendorf, a chief strategist and aide to Rep. Richard A. Gephardt of Missouri, said: "Koppel asking all those process questions? I've never seen anything like it."

The issues are tough to cover because you have to know your homework and be willing to point out when someone is lying. It’s much easier to get reactions to temporary phenomenon like Gore endorsing Dean.

Gore’s endorsement will fade from the news, but how these guys intend to keep Social Security solvent for 40 more years without forcing tax rates of 70% might be an idea someone could explore before the end of the election.

Also, the Democrats are full of scorn because we haven’t dug up the bodies of Osama and Saddam. If they have a great plan to find them maybe they could be good Americans and share their genius with the administration now before terrorists strike again. Or maybe they wouldn’t mind a terrorist strike right before the election at that.

Since most of Democratic candidates are from Congress it might be interesting to cite the ones who have voted against budget increases for intelligence through the years and ask how that was prudent policy.

Ultimately, it would be nice to hear each candidate explain why having your material needs met by government is more valuable than the appreciation and self-respect a person feels when they get these things through their own work.

Rod Dreyer has written a great fable. . .
Once upon a time, four friends shared the forest. When an evil dictator threatened the peace and security of them all, one of the friends concluded that the bad man had to be driven out of the forest.

"Who will help me disarm and depose this dictator?" asked the American Eagle.

"Not I!" said the French Cock.

"Not I!" said German Boar.

"Not I!" said Russian Bear.

So the Eagle moved its soldiers to the dictator's doorstep on her own.

All the animals gathered in a clearing to try to talk the dictator into doing the right thing before it was too late.

"We've given the dictator 12 years of warnings, and he has done nothing but lie to us, and evade his promises. We all have solid reasons to believe he has poison weapons, and will use them against us one day if he's not stopped," the Eagle said. "Who will help me hold him to account?"

We know the answer to that one. Let's skip to the lesson.
"Who will accept my gold to aid in rebuilding this nation?" said the Eagle.

"I will!" said the Cock.

"I will!" said the Boar.

"I will!" said the Bear.

"Fuggedaboutit!" said the Eagle. "What kind of chump do you think I am?

"When I asked you to risk your blood and treasure to fight the evil dictator who threatened us all, you would not," the Eagle said. "When I asked you to send your own children and gold to help the dictator's nation recover from his misrule, you would not.

"When I most needed you, you weren't there for me. Go whine somewhere else."

And so, the French Cock, the German Boar and the Russian Bear were left to ponder a most excellent lesson on the principle of risk and reward. And they learned that day that their friend the American Eagle, when her forest allies act like Chickens and Ostriches, is not afraid to be a hard Ass.

Tuesday, December 09, 2003


I don’t ever remember someone as high up as the previous candidate endorsing someone before the first primary. Reagan waited until Bush had secured the nomination in 1988 before he gave his nod. I thought it particularly surprising that Gore would endorse Dean even before the first primary, especially since his running mate from 2000 is still in the hunt.

Gore's endorsing of Dean is a swipe at the Clinton's and their support of General Clark. After Clinton sent his men to the Washington Times last week to denounce Dean, Gore’s endorsement of Dean can be seen as nothing but a shot across their bow.

Steve Saunders had a good take on it. He thinks Gore is aligning himself with the leftwing base of the party, which would make him the best opposition to Hillary when she decides to run in 2008. Gore may not know whether he will run in 2008, but being attached to Dean and the fundraising apparatus of the party would certainly help him for the following election. Only Steve thinks it won’t do any good. Hillary Clinton can have the Democratic nomination this year if she wants and in 2008 if Bush is re-elected. I agree with Steve.

Gore’s chance at being President was lost when the Democrats refused to convict Clinton in the impeachment trials. By putting political loyalty over principle doomed Gore and the Democrats. And what has Clinton done for him since?

Had top Democrats punished one of their own for breaking the law it would have given them a certain moral authority they do not have now. They clung to the polls that said that the people didn’t want him removed. But the people would have respected the principle of removing Clinton even if they didn’t want to see it happen. Under what principle did the Democrats ignore the charges, the principle that Republicans wanted Clinton gone?

Another reason Dean shines in this field is that he is not of Washington and therefore not tainted by the deal makings. The addition of Gore to the team changes that somewhat, but Dean is saying what the liberal base wants said. The other Democrats are already playing to the undecided middle of the road voters who won’t be voting in primaries.

Only Gephardt who has the unions behind him and Clark who has the Clintons is still a threat to Dean, unless, of course, Dean melts down under the scrutiny of being the front-runner. The press will certainly wants to keep the horse race going in order to fill the papers with tidbits so I would expect the press to be hitting Dean pretty hard through the first few primaries.

UPDATE: John Ellis supports Steve's theory and goes one further.

UPDATE #2: David Broder calls Gore's endorsement eccentric.

Monday, December 08, 2003


While Democrats are posturing and complaining that Bush is poorly prosecuting a meaningless war, here’s the reason why the dog had to be put down.
An Iraqi colonel has confirmed that Saddam Hussein had secret weapons of mass destruction - and revealed that front-line commanders were given warheads that could be launched against coalition forces within 45 minutes.

Lt. Col. al-Dabbagh told London's Telegraph he was the source of the British government's claim - later repeated by President Bush - that Saddam could launch a biological or chemical attack in 45 minutes after the order was given.

"I am the one responsible for providing that information," the colonel said.

The claim created a firestorm of controversy when Dr. David Kelly, a bioweapons expert with the British defense ministry, committed suicide after it was revealed he told the BBC that the government included the claim to "sex up" the dossier. The whole affair sparked a number of probes into Tony Blair's government.

Al-Dabbagh, now an adviser to Iraq's Governing Council, said the warheads were to be used by Saddam's Fedayeen paramilitaries and units of the Special Republican Guard when the war reached "a critical stage."

Will this be ignored like the Weekly Standard article a few weeks ago that noted a few dozen instances where Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein were connected? My guess is that it will be ignored. Otherwise the Democrats will have nothing to run on and the newspaper business will have nothing to print.

Meanwhile, on the campaign trail. . .

Struggling 2004 Democratic wannabe John Kerry fires an X-rated attack at President Bush over Iraq and uses the f-word - highly unusual language for a presidential contender - in a stunning new interview with Rolling Stone magazine.

"I voted for what I thought was best for the country. Did I expect Howard Dean to go off to the left and say, 'I'm against everything'? Sure. Did I expect George Bush to f - - - it up as badly as he did? I don't think anybody did," Kerry told the youth-oriented magazine.

Sunday, December 07, 2003


Of all the Studio releases this Christmas, THE LAST SAMURAI was the most anticipated by me. I have visited and revisited in some cases, the famous Kurosawa samurai films from the 1950s and 1960s through Netflix this year. That even led me to watch Hiroshi Inagaki's Samurai Trilogy starring Kurosawa’s leading man Toshiro Mifune. I liked them all and my imagination has gotten caught up in this part of Japanese culture.

I don’t know how accurate Kurosawa’s films were as critics in his own country felt that he was too “American” in outlook. Kurosawa always shot back that they were jealous that his films were seen and enjoyed by a wider audience than other Japanese filmmakers. He said the critics decided his popularity made him somehow inauthentic. I don’t know what an authentic Japanese film is supposed to be like, but Kurosawa films are very compelling and he does for Samurai films what John Ford did for the western.

In the latest Edward Zwick/ Tom Cruise film, western and eastern ideas are brought together. Cruise plays an ex Civil War soldier who is now full of drink and falling apart due to the horrors of killing innocent Indians on the frontier. The Japanese government hires him to train an army to fight the rebellious Samurai whose way of life is coming to an end with modernization.

Cruise is soon captured by the Samurai and soon goes native. This acts as a redemption of sorts. He joins one group of noble savages to make up for his defeat of the other. The parallel is a stretch because American Indians hadn’t invented the wheel when we came to the New World, where as the Japanese Samurai were at the heart of a very regimented and disciplined system that rivaled the Knights code in European at the same time. To make up for the shaky comparison, Cruise has to continually face nightmares of the Indian slaughter so that we can see his redemption with the Samurai.

The end of the Samurai is tragic in the way Don Quixote is comic. The Man from La Mancha yearns for an earlier chivalrous time when men would quietly go to their fateful death for the system of honor. These noble ideas were slow to die in even Europe and such blind gallantry was mostly responsible for the ugliness of World War I. America, at this time, was ahead of curve in modernizing and is saved us some grief.

The ancient Samurai worked in a closed system where everyone respected the history. Japan had to enter the modern world in order to compete with those nations who wouldn’t respect their rules of warfare. This idea never gets through in the picture. Even worse is that America is blamed for the modernization of Japan and by inference is, I supposed, responsible for the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

I went to see a film about the noble Samurai and their fight to remain viable, but instead I got another criticism of America. The samurai plot is just a backdrop for Tom Cruise to reject the failings of his own country. I no longer expect a Hollywood film about America to be supportive of America. It’s just that the plot device is so hackneyed that you’d think that critics would be getting tired of it too.

That this version of anti-Americanism has to be set in Japan is, I suppose, a fresh take on hating our country’s history. But why not make Cruise’s struggles personal instead of political. Just seeing Tom Cruise willingly and happily killing Indians would have made his transformation later more poignant than making him another victim of the system.

It’s a very easy thing to criticize one’s country for not always following the modern view of things, especially when the modern view of things is constantly changing. What’s difficult is allowing the past a fair say in what we might consider barbaric or outdated. Too many movies serve the purpose of preaching from lofty heights instead of giving the characters real human challenges. It’s another reason why independent films are more interesting. Independent films don’t always ask the expected questions and give you the easy answers.

As pure entertainment, the movie still worked until the big showdown that rang so hollow it used up what capital it had earned. It’s a shame because Ken Watanabee was great as the Last Samurai and the supporting characters were equally good. Tom Cruise suffers from having such a modern face, but he could have made it work with a more nuanced script.

Friday, December 05, 2003

"These safeguard measures have now achieved their purpose, and as a result of changed economic circumstances it is time to lift them," said White House spokesman Scott McClellan, reading a statement from President Bush.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick, appearing with McClellan at a news conference, said the safeguards helped the industry "get back on its feet."

He said it went through a "tough spot" after the financial crisis of the late 1990s, and the key of the tariff strategy was to give "breathing space" but not "permanent protection."

That’s a nice try at spin, but tariffs serve the purpose of making industries lazy not efficient. By artificially raising the price of steel, the steel industry isn’t forced to do the things that really make them competitive. The U.S. Steel industry is a brain dead patient whose heart won’t stop beating. We can no longer create steel competitively in the world market. Since more people use steel than make steel, it benefits more people to have a lower price over a native industry. If the difference in steel costs were listed on a car’s sticker price more people would understand the results of this protectionism.

If making steel were the only thing these people could do then protecting the industry would have a moral component. But there are plenty of non-manufacturing jobs they can do instead. People naturally hate change, but unless everyone is willing to pay for these industries to create a product less efficiently, the moral component is on the side of the consumer that shouldn’t be made to protect an industry so someone can get re-elected.

Our country is leading the way into the information age. The real money is design and communication not manufacturing. Unless the U.S. steel industry can develop better steel that cannot be made by competitors then it will die. How long should we keep these kinds of industries on government life support?

Thursday, December 04, 2003


Jimmy Breslin’s column is mostly ignored outside of New York City; his is still a strong voice I like to read though I often disagree. Last Week, he wrote a column about how great Senator Robert Byrd is.

The hand shakes but the mind does not. Nor does the voice waver. Always in his jacket pocket is a copy of the Constitution of the United States, which he loves.

And Oct. 17, Robert C. Byrd, 86, United States senator from West Virginia, rose in the Senate and read a speech, with sentences shorter than his usual because his thoughts were so biting. He had searched his heart and the skies above for words that would scald now, and be a legacy for all to follow.

Byrd is the former Ku Klux Klan member who spent a day on the Senate floor talking about how horrible Bill Clinton’s actions were in lying to a grand jury with the conclusion that no real punishment should come to him. In essence, Byrd is a windbag who will speak passionately on any topic, but vote according to how his party tells him to. Aren't words made worthless when those who can do something talk instead of act? Breslin doesn't seem to think so.

Breslin likes Byrd this time because the Senator was wind bagging in October about the war in Iraq. That Byrd would blast Bush for attacking Iraq when he had no criticism of Clinton’s actions in Kosovo or Clinton's bombing of Iraq during Impeachment seems empty. Breslin goes on to quote the long-winded speech Byrd gave in October. Here is the conclusion:
"I began my remarks with a fairy tale. I shall close my remarks with a horror story, in the form of a quote from the book 'Nuremberg Diaries,' written by G.M. Gilbert, in which the author interviews Hermann Goering.

"'We got around to the subject of war again, and I said that, contrary to his attitude, I did not think that the common people are very thankful for leaders who bring them war and destruction.

"'... But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship.

"'There is one difference,' I pointed out. 'In a democracy, the people have some say in the matter through their elected representatives, and in the United States, only Congress can declare wars.'

"'Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.'"

The quote is interesting as far as it goes, but what great moral lesson was Byrd trying to impart? I hardly see how the United States fits this description. If Byrd’s theme is that the people were shamed into the war to prove their manhood, he is living in his own mind. How many people do you know that banged on their Congressman’s door clamoring for war because they didn’t want to be seen as pacifists?

What really happened was a bunch of liberals ignored their Vietnam Syndrome and voted for war because the people actually want to defeat dangerous regimes. The Left didn’t want to go back to voters and explain that terrorism is best dealt with by hand wringing and threats. Why didn't the Senators offer these specific criticisms when war was proposed. Back then it was about multi-lateralism, but now we shouldn't have gone because it's not easy enough. Would the war's difficulty been justified had France wanted to fight?

Worse than that is the disingenuousness of a Senator like Kerry that saved criticism for the rough times when he was perfectly willing to use the issue to look like centrist at the time.

Democrats since the 1960s have had a dilemma of whether to use force to reach peace. They usually choose appeasement or write empty agreements like Clinton's pact with North Korea in 1994.

The popularity of Bush and his policies made Democrats fear being independent. Byrd might have a thing or two to say about his party members who voted for the war as a cover and then gleefully pointed to every hitch in the road. Instead Byrd attacks the people for cowering to a government that will question their patriotism. Nice try. If Byrd doesn’t like people cowering to government, he could always support reducing the size of government.

Is Byrd the best that Breslin can do for heroes?

Wednesday, December 03, 2003


Robert Rubin was on NPR last night lightly praising the tax cuts for the stimulus they provided, but complaining about the particulars. I realized that NPR is better than anyone for providing critics for conservative ideology. When Bush had the tax cuts passed in 2001, Democrats were provided time on NPR to blame them for the recession within six months of their passage.

Now that the tax cuts are working, we get a more nuanced criticism. Rubin becomes the spokesman for the admitting the tax cuts did help, but his argument was that the cuts should have been more targeted and carried a sunset provision.

This was very clever on the part of NPR. They never once cited the prior critics of the tax cuts to discredit them. Now that the tax cuts have worked, the story isn’t about the people that they trumped up prior in opposition, but the new opposition to how they could have worked better.

In the case of Rubin, he is faced with a bigger quarterly growth rate than he ever saw during the Clinton years and instead of looking inward as to how they ran economic policy, he criticized Bush’s policy because the growth wasn’t as big as his theories would suggest had it been done his way. One wonders why Rubin wasn’t pushing this grand idea during the Clinton administration?

The next NPR guests will be homeless advocates. They will agree that tax cuts did help the economy but only for people who already have enough money. While some people are having a great life, street people have never had it worse. There won’t be any explanation about the homeless problem during the Clinton years.

The end result of the economy good or bad will be that Bush, that tool of the rich, has only lined his own pockets. And there won’t be any discussion of the hundreds of millions of dollars Robert Rubin has made on Wall Street.

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

Also being released early in 2004 will be the 27th stamp in the Black Heritage series, which will honor actor, singer, civil rights activist and athlete Paul Robeson.

David Failor, executive director of stamp services for the Postal Service, said there was strong support from the public for a stamp honoring Robeson, who was labeled a subversive for his mid-century activism against racism and anti-Semitism.

Most people have scarcely heard of Robeson today, but he was quite a talent and also a Stalin apologist. It’s odd that the story calls him a subversive for his fights against racism and anti-Semitism when he strongly defended the 1940 pact between Hitler and Stalin. Brent Bozell laid out the case against Robeson in 1998. (courtesy of the corner)
The political Robeson was not merely a crusader for civil rights and against Jim Crow, a precursor to Martin Luther King in politics as well as to James Earl Jones in acting and Marcus Allen in sports. He was also a fervent supporter of Josef Stalin's Soviet Union, which oppressed its entire population - not to mention large portions of the globe -- far more systematically and brutally than the United States ever oppressed its blacks and other minorities. Yet in many of the recent stories, that truth about Robeson has been played down, if not ignored altogether.

In our modern enlightenment we’re supposed to look back at communists as idealists, I suppose. An idealist is nothing but a fool praised for good intentions over good sense. We don’t go around calling former Nazi’s idealists. It would be much better to label Robeson a talented guy who lost his mind. Here’s what Robeson's idealism led to.
A February 9 Associated Press dispatch from Moscow sheds light on the regime Robeson proudly endorsed. The AP looked into the files of fifteen Americans who moved to the Soviet Union in the 1920s and '30s to serve the revolution. Two died in labor camps, five went to prison, and eight were executed. Among those in the third group was Arthur Talent, who accompanied his mother to the USSR when he was seven and who, as a young adult, was befriended by Robeson's wife when she and her husband visited Moscow. Talent was shot in 1938 after "confessing" to fabricated charges that he was a spy for Latvia.

UPDATE: Andrew Sullivan quotes Robeson's love of Stalin.

Monday, December 01, 2003

"Congress is now spending money like a drunken sailor," said McCain, a former Navy officer, "and I've never known a sailor, drunk or sober, with the imagination that this Congress has."

He said growth of spending had been capped at 4 percent, but it was at least 8 percent higher. He said he will continue urging Bush to veto profligate spending bills. The president has not veto a single bill since he took office.

Asked if the president bears some responsibility for what is going on, McCain said:

"Yes, because I think that the president cannot say, as he has many times, that 'I'm going to tell Congress to enforce some spending discipline' and then not veto bills."

When John McCain is the conservative critic you know that the White House is more interested in politics than ideology. Bush's embrace of Karl Rove reminds me of Clinton's embrace of James Carville and Dick Morris. When you make moves designed on political gain at the expense of making moves designed on your vision, you eventually lose your way.

The reason the deficits in the 1990s were low was because a Republican Congress was unwilling to spend the money that Clinton wanted to spend. The relationship now isn’t adversarial enough. Other than the tax cut, I can think of few domestic bills that conservatives can get behind. We need a Republican to fight the war, but he’s selling out everywhere else to get re-elected.

I hated McCain’s campaign finance reform bill and his opposition to tax cuts, but the last few days has had me wondering if he wouldn’t have been a better choice for President. He wouldn’t have backed down to the terrorists either and he seems to be supporting better fiscal measures.

Bush could have proved the benefits of tax cuts if only he had cut spending. Now the tax cuts will forever be blamed for the deficits instead of the wanton spending increases. This administration needs to remind conservatives why we voted for it.

I was happy to see Bush do something as thoughtful as visiting the troops in Iraq. He’s a good man. But instead of using his popularity and political capital to strike a blow for fiscal reform, he decided to buy votes for the 2004 election. It was this kind of thinking that gave Bush’s father a conservative challenger in the primaries, and if we weren’t at war, Bush 43 would get one too.

One of the best criticisms of Clinton in the 1990s was that every move was calculated for effect. Bush's leadership in a war that Democrats are trying to make unpopular is commendable. But his domestic policy seems to reek of Clinton's. Whether seniors need prescription drugs isn't the question. The question is whether people who have far less money than many seniors should be made to pay for it. Neither Social Security nor Medicare will be available for the many people who fund the system now. Does President Bush expect younger Americans to get a second job to pay for all of this compassionate conservatism?

UPDATE: Freshman Conngressman Tom Feeney argued with Bush before the Medicare vote.
Well-placed sources said Bush hung up on freshman Rep. Tom Feeney after Feeney said he couldn’t support the Medicare bill. The House passed it by only two votes after Hastert kept the roll-call vote open for an unprecedented stretch of nearly three hours in the middle of the night.

Feeney, a former Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives whom many see as a rising star in the party, reportedly told Bush: “I came here to cut entitlements, not grow them.”

Sources said Bush shot back, “Me too, pal,” and hung up the phone.

If this story is true Bush is way out of line. We want to support his leadership on the war, but his country club Republican approach to domestic policy is too much. If Bush really came to Washington to cut entitlements too he could start by cutting one.
Republican aides said conservatives who voted against the bill, including Reps. Mike Pence (Ind.), John Culberson (Texas), Jeff Flake (Ariz.), Roscoe Bartlett (Md.) and Jim Ryun (Kan.), would suffer for their votes against the Medicare bill.
Leadership aides said those members “can expect to remain on the back bench” in the months ahead.

“Health savings accounts are the most dramatic reform of health care in 30 years,” Feehery said. “Conservatives said they all loved it, but once in the bill they forgot about it.”

Medicare is expanded to hell and back and we're supposed to be excited that the plan offers a modicum of free market initiatives. They control the White House and both chambers of Congress. Do you think the Republicans could have twisted the same arms to pass medical savings accounts without the $400 billion expansion? Instead, we're supposed to be proud that they got this one over on the Democrats who have no power at all.

Sunday, November 30, 2003


Hillary wasn't as political on her trip as one may have predicted, but a couple of her comments were enough to remind one that every move she makes has a political implication.
"I left Afghanistan feeling very positive about what our military personnel had accomplished there, but I am not very confident that we have adequate forces to accomplish the many missions we have been asked to handle," Clinton said.

Clinton said, "The administration didn't fully appreciate what they would be encountering in Iraq," although many members of the Bush administration had been preoccupied for years with former Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein.

"Now we're playing catch-up," she said.

Who thinks that Hillary's planned invasion of Afghanistan or Iraq would have been more successful than Bush's? What was Mrs. Clinton’s specific plan again? It looks like she voted in favor of it and then stood back waiting for something to go wrong.

Does a serious leader travel overseas to campaign during wartime? Did Dewey travel to Europe to criticize FDR's policies? Did Eisenhower go to Korea to criticize Truman? Did Nixon travel to Vietnam to criticize Johnson? On the positive side, Hillary went the entire trip without mentioning her plan for universal health care.

Monday, November 24, 2003

Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle is demanding that Republicans stop showing their first television ad of the 2004 presidential race, which he called "repulsive and outrageous."

The 30-second ad, which aired in Iowa over the weekend, features clips of Bush during his State of the Union address last January. It portrays Bush as a fighter of terrorism and says his opponents "are now attacking the president for attacking the terrorists."

"It's wrong. It's erroneous, and I think that they ought to pull the ad," Daschle told NBC's "Meet the Press" program on Sunday.

"We all want to defeat terrorism," the South Dakota senator said. But "to chastise and to question the patriotism of those who are in opposition to some of the president's plans I think is wrong."

Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy called it an "attempt to stifle dissent." On ABC's "This Week," Kennedy said "dissent is a basic part of what our whole society is about."

The ads are not an attempt to stifle dissent as Kennedy claims, but recognition of the differences between the two parties. Democrats have been debating and running ads on those differences for months now. This is their big chance to show Americans their plan for defeating terrorism. We’re listening.

We want to defeat terrorism too, but with a more gentle approach we'll outline after the election won't cut it.

Sunday, November 23, 2003


Slate has an interesting article about the origins of the Kennedy Assassination conspiracy theories and links to Watergate. It's pretty much the thread that Oliver Stone started with his film JFK and finished with NIXON. I am certainly a person who thinks there is more to the story than we've been told, but can only laugh at the notion that it somehow all ties back to Vietnam, when that was hardly a front burner issue during Kennedy's assassination. What was going on in Eastern Europe and even Cuba had more relevance in 1963.

Hippies and baby boomer elites are still caught up in Vietnam, though. The generation cannot let it go. Every time we’re fired upon in a war it’s Vietnam all over again. Kennedy is sainted because he could have prevented Vietnam. Watergate was a good way to get us out of Vietnam.

North Vietnam was simply a country that our leaders didn't have the stomach to defeat. No different than Korea. The only lesson that needs to be learned is don't commit yourself to a war if you don't intend to do the things necessary to win it. We don't need any more glorifications of unwashed Haite Ashbury types that were protesting because their college deferments were revoked. Vietnam could have been a step in defeating communism. Had we prosecuted that war properly, the Berlin Wall could have fallen much sooner.

Kennedy wasn't as Left Wing as some would like to remember him. He called for tax cuts and developed programs like the President's council for physical fitness that promoted self-achievement. It's often conveniently ignored that Jack and Bobby Kennedy were close friends with Joe McCarthy and they shared a hatred of communism. Kennedy scheduled back surgery so he wouldn't have to vote on McCarthy's censure in the Senate. McCarthy was even Kathleen Kennedy Townsend's (Daughter of Bobby Kennedy) godfather.

Kennedy may have actually fought Vietnam to win. Those who speculate that he was killed to help escalate the war ignore who he was at that time and before. That people like Frank Sinatra who supported Reagan in 1980 also supported Kennedy in 1960 is a reminder of the likenesses. Kennedy made his mistakes by letting the Russians put up the Berlin Wall and knowingly letting the leader of South Vietnam be assassinated. But his kind of tough foreign policy Democrat doesn't exist today, and it's a leap to think that he was going to be a dove in French Indo-China.

If Nixon had won in 1960, history could have been different. It’s hard to say if Nixon’s troubles in the 1970s were the result of his inferiority to the Kennedys or if the conflict in Vietnam made him a more Machiavellian leader. Nixon’s early Vietnam policy may have been handled differently and that could have made all the difference.

It was tough losing a young vibrant President like Kennedy. His handling of Vietnam may have been proof that a strong military and foreign policy isn’t in conflict with the goals of the Democrat Party. That may have saved us from the George McGoverns and Jimmy Carters and given us the Scoop Jacksons and Lloyd Bentsons. Or maybe not.

I think we can all speculate on how history would have been different, but there is scant reason to believe that all idealism left with Kennedy, or that he was killed because he was the messiah. All those rich post World War II kids that had it easy were bound to rebel against their "meaningless" lives. Had it not been at Vietnam, it would have been something else.

We can piece together this concerted effort only now with the release of documents from Soviet archives -- some disclosures authorized, some not. Taken together, they prove that the KGB played a central, pernicious role in fomenting the belief that the CIA was involved in Kennedy's assassination.

Read the whole article by Max Holland here.

Let's have some fun. NPR's All Songs Considered has a long two-hour interview on the discovery of the Beatles lost LET IT BE Tapes. The interview was recorded in the spring, but I found it when researching the new re-mix of the LET IT BE CD that has just been released. They play a bunch of the music and also talk about what was going on during the days they recorded film and audio. There is still no word on when the LET IT BE film will be released to DVD.

Friday, November 21, 2003

A U.S. senator said on Thursday that he would hold up a massive year-end spending bill if it included a ban on Internet-access taxes that he and several colleagues fear would harm state and local finances.

Delaware Sen. Thomas Carper, a Democrat, told reporters he would try to keep the omnibus bill from coming to the Senate floor if the ban was included in its present form, which he said infringed on the rights of state and local governments to raise revenues.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates these jurisdictions would lose $195 million that year but said the true cost of the provision could not be determined and could be much higher.

It sounds like Caper is acknowledging the 10th Amendment of the Constitution. It’s probably just a phase.

The last sentence is a good argument for proving a Left-wing media. "The true cost of the provision could not be determined." The provision to ban taxation doesn't cost anything. Cost is what you have to give up to obtain something of value.

Government getting less money doesn’t cost them anything. Does it cost the Wal-Mart anything when I decide to shop at Target? This land has survived without Internet taxation since Christopher Columbus. Delaware will probably not sink into the Atlantic Ocean without it.
Calling the ban proposal an unfunded mandate on states and a massive tax break for the telecommunications industry, Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee said he and his colleagues had proposed a compromise two-year ban.

An unfunded mandate is when the government demands that a state spend money on a program without providing the money. Banning taxation is hardly the same thing.

And the telecommunications industry isn't getting a massive tax break. Taxpayers who use the industry are getting the tax break. Can Alexander name anyone he knows who doesn’t use the telecommunications industry?

Thursday, November 20, 2003


Iraq cannot win this war, but the situation involving Lt. Col. Allen B. West is a good example of how we can defeat ourselves. West and his men were interrogating an Iraqi police officer that was reported to have helped the enemy in a previous attack. The man refused to tell them anything of importance, even after they got a little rough with him. West decided that “civilized” interrogation would probably cost more lives in a future attack, so he fired a shot over the Iraqi’s shoulder. It worked and the detainee gave up the names of a few attackers.

The Hearing. . .
"I felt there was a threat to my soldiers. ... If it's about the life of my men, I'd go through hell with a gasoline can," said Col. West, who sat erect in the witness stand during cross-examination on the second day of a court-martial hearing.

"I love the Army," he said, fighting back tears.

"I know the method I used was not the right method," he said, adding, however, that he felt at the time it was crucial for the safety of his soldiers that he find out about the purported plot.

"If I had to err, I would err on the side of not losing my soldiers," Col. West said.

Inhofe Gets it.
A preliminary investigation alleged that West's actions violated the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The court, on a U.S. base in Tikrit, Iraq, will determine whether West should face a court-martial.

(Sen. James) Inhofe (of Oklahoma) said unless some new information emerges at West's hearing, "I would continue to have the position that Lt. Col. West should be commended for his actions in interrogation that prevented an attack on the soldiers of his command. That's my feeling and I think others may share it but may not want to say it."

During the American Revolution the British fought in outdated fashion by lining up in the open and making great targets. The Americans took the lead of Indians who fought by hiding behind trees for cover. Washington’s crossing the Delaware was a prime example of Yankee ingenuity and clearly against the rules of gentlemen soldiers. You don’t win wars by enforcing rules on your men that the enemy wouldn’t force on their own. If we send a message to the Iraqis that we’re playing with kid gloves, we’re sure to have a lot of double agents like this police officer. If the bad guys don’t fear our soldiers, who will? There are plenty of people who are rooting against our victory in Iraq, and some are in our own country. A good way to please them would be to shame men like West.

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Democrats will "continue to resist any Neanderthal that is nominated by this president" for the federal courts, said Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass.

It sounds an awful lot like Ted Kennedy called Bush’s minority nominees, monkeys. At least that would be the New York Times charge had George Pataki called Al Sharpton a Neanderthal. Kennedy by nature of being a Democrat is above the accusation of racism because he spends more of our money on the poor.

But more important than the double standard is that Kennedy sees potential justices that believe in the original intent of the constitution as pre-human. Wouldn’t that make James Madison and Benjamin Franklin pre-human. Didn’t Jack Kennedy once compliment a group of intellectuals by saying that the White House hadn’t seen such brain-power since Thomas Jefferson dined alone? Jefferson, you Neanderthal!

Ted Kennedy might actually be shocked to learn that the writers of the Constitution were ahead of their time. America was the first country founded on self-rule that had a Bill of Rights stating what the government couldn’t do to its people. Irish families like the Kennedys left their repressive serfdom to be treated equal under the law.

Those Neanderthals understood that equal outcomes could never be guaranteed, but equal protection would at least ensure that people could be left to make their own happiness. Ah, but modern man is so much more enlightened. Now we see that every problem can be solved with government largesse or lawsuits. The will of the people is so 18th Century.

We now have judges to make laws for us and Kennedy isn’t going to sacrifice that genius idea by allowing the people’s representatives a vote on who gets to be a judge, unless, of course, they have a proven ability to make laws.

Tuesday, November 18, 2003


Ken Livingstone, the Mayor of London, launched a stinging attack on President George Bush last night, denouncing him as the "greatest threat to life on this planet that we've most probably ever seen".

Where exactly would Hitler and Stalin fall into that critique?

“Bush is the biggest danger in the world” has seemed to trump “McCarthyism” as the Left’s favorite push button phrase. The right honorable gentleman went on to say. . .
Mr Livingstone recalled a visit at Easter to California, where he was denounced for an attack he had made on what he called "the most corrupt and racist American administration in over 80 years". He said: "Some US journalist came up to me and said: 'How can you say this about President Bush?' Well, I think what I said then was quite mild. I actually think that Bush is the greatest threat to life on this planet that we've most probably ever seen. The policies he is initiating will doom us to extinction."

1. Why do we allow people to throw around the word "racism" without supporting evidence? Isn’t that what the Left said McCarthy did in the 1950s, ruin people reputations with mere accusations?

2. Doom us to extinction is a bit much don’t you think? Where exactly would Britain be now if we hadn’t stopped Hitler in World War II? Or maybe the Mayor would have preferred Hitler or Uncle Joe to run things instead.

It's nice to know that we're not the only country electing eccentric mayors in big cities.

Luckily, the British people show more sense.
A majority of Labour voters welcome President George Bush's state visit to Britain which starts today, according to November's Guardian/ICM opinion poll.

The survey shows that public opinion in Britain is overwhelmingly pro-American with 62% of voters believing that the US is "generally speaking a force for good, not evil, in the world". It explodes the conventional political wisdom at Westminster that Mr Bush's visit will prove damaging to Tony Blair. Only 15% of British voters agree with the idea that America is the "evil empire" in the world.

Monday, November 17, 2003


Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas J. Feith sent an interesting memo to Senators Pat Roberts and Jay Rockefeller. The memo is a Cliffs Notes version of intelligence that links Osama Bin Laden to Saddam Hussein. The Weekly Standard lays out the memo and offers commentary. Here’s a couple of interesting pieces:
17. . . . Iraq sent an intelligence officer to Afghanistan to seek closer ties to bin Laden and the Taliban in late 1998. The source reported that the Iraqi regime was trying to broaden its cooperation with al Qaeda. Iraq was looking to recruit Muslim "elements" to sabotage U.S. and U.K. interests. After a senior Iraqi intelligence officer met with Taliban leader [Mullah] Omar, arrangements were made for a series of meetings between the Iraqi intelligence officer and bin Laden in Pakistan. The source noted Faruq Hijazi was in Afghanistan in late 1998.

26. During a custodial interview, Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi [a senior al Qaeda operative] said he was told by an al Qaeda associate that he was tasked to travel to Iraq (1998) to establish a relationship with Iraqi intelligence to obtain poisons and gases training. After the USS Cole bombing in 2000, two al Qaeda operatives were sent to Iraq for CBW-related [Chemical and Biological Weapons] training beginning in Dec 2000. Iraqi intelligence was "encouraged" after the embassy and USS Cole bombings to provide this training.

31. An Oct. 2002 . . . report said al Qaeda and Iraq reached a secret agreement whereby Iraq would provide safe haven to al Qaeda members and provide them with money and weapons. The agreement reportedly prompted a large number of al Qaeda members to head to Iraq. The report also said that al Qaeda members involved in a fraudulent passport network for al Qaeda had been directed to procure 90 Iraqi and Syrian passports for al Qaeda personnel.

The idea that these Middle Eastern Terrorists were working alone has been a big Democrat talking point. That this intelligence was uncovered during the Clinton Administration would make one wonder what Al Gore was thinking when he gave this speech.

There are plenty of Democrats who hate Bush as much as Republicans hate Clinton. But do Democrats really think the country would be safer if a Democrat were President now? The only issue that really matters is safety and Bush is the only viable candidate that has anything credible to say. The others just react to Bush and offer some vague plan about getting al Qaeda instead of Iraq. They’re not going to win a majority on the Iraq issue. It will be interesting to see their next plan of attack.

UPDATE: Jack Shafer at Slate wants to know why this story is being ignored.

Friday, November 14, 2003


American Billionaire pledges to unseat Bush with his fortune.
“America, under Bush, is a danger to the world," Soros said. Then he smiled: "And I'm willing to put my money where my mouth is."
Soros believes that a "supremacist ideology" guides this White House. He hears echoes in its rhetoric of his childhood in occupied Hungary. "When I hear Bush say, 'You're either with us or against us,' it reminds me of the Germans." It conjures up memories, he said, of Nazi slogans on the walls, Der Feind Hort mit ("The enemy is listening"). "My experiences under Nazi and Soviet rule have sensitized me," he said in a soft Hungarian accent.

What is the left’s fascination with the Nazis that they see them lurking out of every corner? The fact that we have elections and the people can vote on whether they support the President should end any comparison to Germany. Hitler never asked anyone whether they were with him or against him. He pointed a gun and said, you’re with me or you die. It’s the Muslim world that squelches freedom like Stalin and Hitler. How can you grow up in such a God forsaken place and miss the similarities?
Neoconservatives, Soros said, are exploiting the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, to promote a preexisting agenda of preemptive war and world dominion. "Bush feels that on September 11th he was anointed by God," Soros said. "He's leading the U.S. and the world toward a vicious circle of escalating violence."

Couldn’t we say that FDR exploited the depression to create the welfare state? The Neoconservatives are in favor, because they have an active solution to the problem of terrorism. They were to the 1990s what Churchill was in the 1930s. They were both preaching of the coming menace and begged the government to intervene. Nobody knows whether or to what extent the idea will work, but it is an active plan to solve the problem. This should make sense to Democrats who think every domestic problem can be solved by some sort of government program. What Soros and other critics continue to cloud is that our goal is to allow the people in the regions to govern themselves. This has certainly not been the plan of conquering nations throughout history.

Thursday, November 13, 2003


It's all in how you tell the story.
Peter Jennings and Linda Douglass failed to inform viewers of how Democrats are using the filibuster threat in such and unprecedented manner as Jennings referred only to how the GOP wished to “draw attention to the fact that several of President Bush’s nominees for the federal bench are not being confirmed because the Democrats object to them” while, surreally, Jennings described how “the Democrats say they’re doing what the Constitution requires.”

This is a good example of how the press makes the story. When Clinton wouldn't sign the Republican passed budget in 1995, the press reported that the Republicans had shut down the government. There weren't any stories about how the Republicans were doing what the Constitution requires by passing a budget. They became the bad guys, because they weren't passing the budget Democrats wanted.

The Constitution doesn't require a supermajority to pass a President's nominees. The Democrats are saying that it does require one. That's the story the media doesn't want to tell.

UPDATE: Here's the hourly rundown of what happened during the filibuster.

Wednesday, November 12, 2003


The "quasi-hypnotic influence" of television in America has fostered a complacent nation that is a danger to democracy, former Vice President Al Gore said Tuesday.

"Our democracy is suffering in an age when the dominant medium is not accessible to the average person and does not lend itself most readily to the conveyance of complex ideas about self-governance," Gore said. "Instead it pushes toward a lowest common denominator."

Academic liberals continue to bemoan low voter turnouts and disengaged citizens, especially when they are trying to reconstruct a world with those very people in mind. You can almost hear them say, “But we’re doing it all for you, why aren’t you helping us.” I think this is a case where prosperity coupled with the welfare state has made it easy for liberal middle class people to be disengaged in the political arena without much harm. The unstated part of Gore’s plea is, “Wake up, downtrodden, because middle class conservatives are listening to talk radio and their ideas are winning. If you want us to continue to take care of you, you’ll have to sober up and vote for us.”

The government has provided enough of everything now that the average impoverished person owns a car and a color TV. If they can afford beer or weed or whatever, they would just as soon hang out at the house and watch Survivor. They have no time to rally at your campaign. Ted Kennedy tried to remedy this with proposals like motor voter that make it almost impossible not be registered and yet Democrats still lose elections, because people need to be driven to the polls and told who to vote for.

If Gore wants people to be engaged he must start by making them responsible for themselves.

Some are fired and some quit. Afterall, you can't fire the candidate.
Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry (search)'s press secretary and deputy finance director quit Tuesday, adding to the bitter turmoil on Kerry's team after the dismissal of his campaign manager.

Robert Gibbs, chief spokesman for the Massachusetts lawmaker, and deputy finance director Carl Chidlow quit in reaction to the firing of Jim Jordan, abruptly let go by Kerry Sunday night. Both expressed dissatisfaction with the campaign, according to officials.

I think the campaign manager firing was a good excuse for the others to walk, but not the cause of it. Kerry has no distinction in this campaign at all. Howard Dean has proved to be the most articulate and likable Northeastern Liberal Candidate and General Wesley Clark has trumped any advantage Kerry thought he would have on the veteran issue. Richard Gephardt has them all beat on union and leftwing trade issues. Why would a voter choose John Kerry over the other three candidates? He’ll get some favorite son votes in the northeast, but he’ll drown in the South and West unless he reinvents himself again in the next few months. I don’t see it happening.

I think these campaign workers see what the media isn’t reporting. They will probably latch on to another campaign if they can.

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Light-hearted debate
During the debate, cosponsored by the nonprofit Rock the Vote organization, Alexandra Trustman asked the candidates whether they preferred the PC or Mac format for their computers.

Trustman wrote yesterday that she was called the morning of the debate and given the topic of the question the CNN producers wanted her to ask. She wrote that she was "confused by the question's relevance" and constructed what she thought was a "much more relevant" question.

But when she arrived in Boston for the debate, she wrote, she was "handed a note card" with the question and told she couldn't ask her alternative "because it wasn't lighthearted enough and they wanted to modulate the event with various types of questions."

CNN did not respond to repeated

This is the danger of campaign finance laws that rely on the "objective" media to get the news out. Why have a debate in front of students if professional media men are writing the questions? Were the students threatening to make it a real debate with real questions?

Tricia just learned today that Newsweek printed her letter criticizing them on their Rush Limbaugh story of a few weeks ago. You can find the letter online by clicking here and scrolling down. They edited her letter quite a bit, so I will post her original and their version.

The Original


I cannot believe it took 11 writers to write the debauchery “I Am Addicted to Prescription Pain Medication."

This entire article is one of the most insensitive, far reaching pieces of journalism I have ever read. I am not a Rush fan, I am not even a registered Republican, and I find your piece unbalanced and completely insensitive to something so many DECENT, hard working, moral Americans find themselves involved in every day – an unwanted addiction to pain killers.

I don’t think Newsweek can get any lower after reading this article. Newsweek’s journalism integrity now matches that of The National Enquirer. Newsweek’s use of name-calling and references that pain killer addiction is parallel to the abuse of illegal substances such as cocaine is appalling. Believe or not, I would have to make a hunch that most people would say pain killer addiction is not the same as a cocaine addiction – but I suppose your reporters feel differently. How insensitive these Newsweek reporters are, this man had unsuccessful surgeries, resulting in utter pain, and painkillers were his only relief – which unfortunately resulted in an addiction. This is not the same as someone going to a party and inserting heroine into his arm just for the heck of it. What’s next? Going after celebrities addicted to nose spray?

Also, I think that Rush’s timing of talking about his addiction was timed correctly. Why should he have told his listeners about this prior to the tabloid’s report? He is not an elected official. He is a private citizen. This is not expected of him, and never should have been.

This article was extremely hypocritical on Newsweek’s behalf. Your reporters must have ice in their veins by taking such low blows.

Tricia Van Ryswyk
Orlando, Fla.

And here is what they printed. . .
I am not a Rush fan—I am not even a Republican—but I find your piece insensitive to what many decent, hardworking and moral Americans find themselves involved in every day: an unwanted addiction to painkillers. That NEWSWEEK compares painkiller addiction to the abuse of illegal substances such as cocaine is appalling. Rush had unsuccessful surgeries resulting in utter pain, and painkillers were his only relief. This dependency unfortunately led to an addiction. This is not the same as someone’s going to a party and inserting a needle into his arm.

Tricia Van Ryswyk
Orlando, Fla.

Since Tricia spends most of her day writing press releases that I never get to read, I always forget what a great writer she is. I can understand editing her letter for brevity, and wanting to remove the disparaging remarks towards them, but I wonder why they took out Registered in front of Republican and why did the Heroin going into someone's arm become a needle? They skipped the best line of the letter when she compared Newsweek with the National Enquirer. If she had only known a week later that the Enquirer would come out with illegal drug allegations against Matt Lauer and that Newsweek would ignore it.

Trish needs a blog.

Monday, November 10, 2003


Al Gore reads Orwell.
Former Vice President Al Gore accused President Bush on Sunday of failing to make the country safer after the Sept. 11 attacks and using the war against terrorism as a pretext to consolidate power.

"They have taken us much farther down the road toward an intrusive, 'big brother'-style government - toward the dangers prophesied by George Orwell in his book '1984' - than anyone ever thought would be possible in the United States of America," Gore charged.

First, the country is safer. They are obviously on the run around the world and haven't been able to follow up the 911 attacks.

Secondly, Bush isn't trying to consolidate power. The Democrats wanted a Department of Homeland Security as much as anyone. The existing government power structure by nature takes any means possible to expand it's own power. Bush will be back in Texas in 2009, but these bureaucrats won't be. Bush should have had better foresight before expanding the government to the levels that he chose. Why do liberals oppose a President that is so willing to solve problems with government money?

Most importantly, if Gore wants to start throwing Orwell charges around, maybe he could start by explaining Waco.

Thursday, November 06, 2003


All of those Big Macs you’ve eaten were really a donation, because Joan Kroc, wife of the late hamburger tycoon, has given NPR $200 million in her will. Now if that isn't enough money to stop those annoying pledge drives, how much will it take?
Joan Kroc, widow of McDonald's Corp. founder Ray A. Kroc, died Oct. 12 of cancer. She was 75. In recent years she had made substantial gifts to organizations promoting world peace.

Now that would be a great dodge working for an organization promoting world peace. The work is never done. Keep sending the donations. We're trying. Can we help it that human beings are so darn disagreeable?

The investigation of strip club owner Michael Galardi and numerous politicians appears to be the first time federal authorities have used the Patriot Act in a public corruption probe.

Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., said Congress intended the Patriot Act to help federal authorities root out threats from terrorists and spies after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

"The law was intended for activities related to terrorism and not to naked women," said Reid, who as minority whip is the second most powerful Democrat in the Senate.

"Let me say, with Galardi and his whole gang, I don't condone, appreciate or support all their nakedness. But having said that, I haven't heard anyone say at any time he was involved with terrorism."

The Patriot Act will expire in 2005 unless Congress renews it. "More activity like this is going to cause us to take a close look at what was passed," Reid said of the law being invoked in the Galardi probe.

While I doubt Reid would make such criticism if a Democrat were President, he is still exactly right. The government will always push to the utmost extent of our freedoms and it takes us to stand up and push back. The Patriot Act is like much of government. It promises to do one thing and operationally does another. We should be targeting the demographic that attacked us on 911, not going after strip club owners because they are easier to get.

The American people supported the Patriot Act in good faith, but like most government programs it's being abused. If the government is serious about the terrorist threat they will target the groups that hate us, instead of targeting everyone. This law should be revised so that the government cannot use in any way that isn’t linked to terrorists and terrorism. Further, if they are serious about protecting us, they will seek the death penalty against people like Johnny Walker Lindh would take up arms against us.

There aren’t too many bills worth calling your senator about, but a Bill permanently banning taxation of the Internet is certainly one. Of course, localities have been collecting handsomely on our purchases at brick and mortar stores since we were born. That was always based on the idea that commercial areas need the support of roads and cops and other services that impact a city when people are driving around to do their shopping.
"Every time we, in our wisdom, tell a state or a city that it cannot use this tax, all we are doing is increasing the chance that Minnesota or Tennessee will increase some other tax, or fire some teachers or lay off some employees or close some parks," Senator Lamar Alexander, Republican of Tennessee, said Tuesday on the Senate floor.

The Internet doesn’t cost local governments anything; in fact, it saves them money because they have fewer commercial businesses to support with government services. What’s implicit in Alexander’s plea is that local governments’ have been using sales tax money to fund their whims. Localities can put these services that Lamar loves to a vote. Before we had a plethora of government spending, did people sit around the house wondering why there wasn’t a $30,000 statue outside of the courthouse? Maybe some money is spent just because it’s available. I don’t see why some Orlando politician should have any right to dictate the terms of my commerce over the phone lines. I’m already paying my phone bill that includes enough taxes to pay for a bunch of other unrelated programs.

I have been less than a fan of Alexander since he donned that ridiculous plaid shirt to run for President. It was the first time in politics that a politician used a shirt to prove that he was an empty shirt. Where was the promise of smaller government that got Republicans elected in 1994? Republicans have gone power mad and have forgotten who they are. Quit wasting money and searching for new taxation. Be responsible while you have the power, or we’ll spend the rest of our lives paying off your debt.

Tuesday, November 04, 2003


I can understand the Democrats looking for an issue to beat Bush with in 2004, but I think using Iraq as that tool is to their discredit. Bush's plan to defeat terrorism had short- term provisions (Afghanistan) and long-term provisions (Iraq). The Bush Administration is hoping to foster a democracy in the Middle East and Iraq is the base of operations. Since no two democracies have ever gone to war against one another, the idea seems like the best one going. Especially when you consider that high scale terrorism can only live if it’s state sponsored.

The critics can point to the Iraqi opposition, but opposition funded by other countries and terrorists only point out how worried some factions are that real democracy might come. The critics who say that the Muslims won't accept democracy because it is contrary to their religion have not explained why so many bad guys over there are worried about it.

Gore began the criticism in the summer when he said that the administration isn’t doing enough to bring down Al Queda since they are the only ones who have struck. In other words, he’s asking that the Bush administration fight terrorism by being reactive to attacks. That was certainly the strategy of the Clinton Administration. They didn’t want to be bothered by attacks on American citizens. Their usual action was lobbing a couple of bombs somewhere in the middle of the night.

Bush has decided to be proactive by defeating other groups that hate us before they can pose any danger. For Democrats who want to use the entire scope of government to create giant programs to solve every domestic problem you can name, it seems irresponsible to not use that same power of government to prevent future Americans civilians from being hurt by terrorists. And the idea that our presence over there will cause more terrorism has yet to be seen. They’re too busy fighting Israelis and American soldiers.

I don’t like that the Democrats want to use National Security in a campaign, but I don’t see how it hurts anyone but Democrats. We spent the 1990s watching Americans being attacked here and abroad and we saw an indifferent Democrat President who didn’t try to solve the problem. The very fact that Republicans are doing something will win them the election. Democrats can only win if they convince people that Bush isn’t hawkish enough.

Sunday, November 02, 2003


I don't ever expect Hollywood to make a movie about Reagan that celebrates the man, but who needs them to? The real shame is that they will ignore all the fertile material available on the Clintons.

UPDATE: CBS decides that Showtime is a much better place to air slander.

Saturday, November 01, 2003

I guess we won't be seeing Matt Lauer in a Newsweek cover story about his drug problem?

Planned Parenthood has filed a lawsuit against the Partial Birth Abortion Law before it has even been signed.
"This dangerous ban prevents women, in consultation with their families and doctors, from making decisions about their own health," PPFA President Gloria Feldt said. "We hope the court will recognize the unconstitutionality of this ban and strike it down."

It doesn’t prevent women from making decisions it just changes the scope of when those decisions can be made. The distinction of birth alone has always stood on shaky ground, since pre-mature babies can survive outside the womb. What's been missing from the debate is not whether women can or cannot choose, but whether babies that can survive outside the womb deserve death because it's more convenient to the mother. I’m sure it would sometimes be convenient for the mother to kill her wayward toddlers. Some mothers certainly have done so.

How many of the same people who support all forms of abortion will tell you that they don't eat meat because slaughter houses are cruel punishment to animals? They have always chose to ignore that contradiction because they didn’t want to weaken abortion rights, but those who think this law weakened abortion are mistaken.

As long as abortion was legal to the very last second, the pro-choice movement was going to have many middle ground people lined up against them. The country is divided 50-50 on the overall issue, but polls have shown that people support this law 75-25.

No one from the pro-choice side is going to suddenly become pro-life because of this legislation, but there is a potential for some middle ground people who were appalled by late-term abortions to now be willing to support the other side. When the country is divided so evenly on the issue, just a few percent changing sides is a big victory.

Pro-Lifers get fewer Abortions
Pro-Choicers disarmed many critics

By winning this battle, the pro-lifers have made it more difficult to win the war. And isn’t the war more worth winning? Though they were kicking and screaming the entire way, the pro-choice supporters can now be more confident that abortion will remain. Even if Roe v. Wade were overturned by some future court and the issue returned to the states for a democratic vote, fewer people would have issue with the “keep it legal” side.

Now quit your fillabuster fraidy cats and let's vote on some judges.

Thursday, October 30, 2003

Where's Carville?

If you wonder why the Democrats have stopped talking about the horrible economy and have instead criticized Bush for the war they voted for, look no further than this:
The U.S. economy rocketed ahead at its fastest pace in more than 19 years in the third quarter of 2003 as consumers, their wallets fattened by tax cuts, went on a buying spree, an unexpectedly strong government report showed on Thursday.

U.S. gross domestic product surged at a 7.2 percent annual rate in the July-September period, the Commerce Department said. It was the steepest climb since the first quarter of 1984 and more than double the second quarter's 3.3 percent rate.

Dude was Right.

I was in Virginia at a wedding with Trish. Tuned into the 5th inning just in time to see the Marlins score. I can only be happy that I have Josh Beckett in the IBL.

It wasn't a bad letdown like 2001 when MO was human in game 7 or even 2002 when the Yankees got booted in the first series. The Yankees have either won the World Series or were beaten by the eventual winner every year since 1996, except when Cleveland beat them in 1997. And Cleveland could have and should have won that series as well.

The Marlins weren't the best team in baseball, but neither were the Yankees, I think. The Red Sox and Cubs may have beaten either of these teams in another 7 games series. Maybe no team was the best this year. It was really about how pitching match ups were laid out and curses took hold.

It wasn't a bad series to lose. It was much more fun to be beat Boston. And I did get to take dad afterall.

Friday, October 24, 2003


It would benefit us to consider why people choose to enslave other people and we should be disappointed that our country was once guilty of the practice. What I don’t understand is why American slavery is somehow treated as if it were an anomaly of human history. Not only did it happen from biblical times until the Civil War, it still continues in many places around the world with little acknowledgement. In fact, you can witness human slavery 90 miles south of Florida.

Cuba is nothing but a gigantic plantation where deserters are hunted down, tortured and sometimes killed. Economic fortunes are tied to the whims of the communist rulers who dole out the goodies to allies while depriving the masses who were supposed to benefit from the revolution. Underground railroads of makeshift boats are created for escape, but few actually do. And those who do get most of the way are sent back to the plantation where they face the wrath of the system.

Books continue to be written about our treatment of the slaves and reparations continue to be paid in the form of set asides and quotas, although no living American legally owned any other living American. Many proponents for racial justice will tell you that fighting a war to end slavery wasn’t enough. America is still culpable.

Ironically, Castro, in their opinion, is a misunderstood genius that is under a tyrannical U.S. boot. Somehow Castro’s rivalry with us excuses his actual behavior. Cuba has the greatest medical care and literacy in the world according to them. Even if we took Castro’s own figures for gospel, do you think for a moment that leaders Jackson and Sharpton who have praised Castro, would have accepted southern slavery if the overseer had educated each slave in the liberal arts and had a doctor on the premises?

It’s no surprise that some fools would point to a free people and label them victims and point to victims and label them lucky. What’s amazing is that we have a supposed objective press that doesn’t even question these inconsistencies. You shouldn’t be able to pick and choose the kinds of slavery you like and be treated as a rational voice by a curious media.

The only thing these inconsistencies have in common is that they both support the goal of a bigger central government. Amercia’s problems need government intervention the first argument goes. Cuba’s problems were solved by government intervention the second argument goes. A media that likes bigger government doesn’t question the hypocrisy.

That kind of intellectual dishonesty should be enough to make one question the rationality of the nanny state.

Thursday, October 23, 2003

World Series Game 5

FLA 6 NY 4

David Wells needs to lose some weight. Bernie Williams long fly in the 9th would have tied it in any other ballapark. In fact, the Yankees mounted a comeback that almost won in every game they lost. Are the Gods laughing in Mount Olympus? Or is this a chance for the Yankees to win it in grandest fashion back in the big apple?

FLA 4 NY 3 (12 innings)
The Yankees didn't win, but my first World Series game made up for it with some spectacular moments:

1) Clemens recovered after a shaky first inning and he threw goose eggs for the next 6 frames.

2) The standing ovation by the (mostly) opposing crowd after Clemens struck out Luis Castillo (probably his last batter) in the 7th inning.

3) Ruben Sierra's game tying triple 3-2 with 2 outs in the 9th.

4) (though in conflict with the inner Yankee fan) Alex Gonzalez' walk-off homer in the bottom of the 12th.

These events all hold significance that go further than the moment. First, I didn't think I was going to see Clemens when I bought the tickets. Torre's talk to the media about how he doesn't like to mess up Roger's routine coupled with the fact that Roger had a short outing last Thursday led me to believe that Clemens would pitch game three. I thought the idea of seeing Clemens last game in a world series, no less, made game three a good choice. But when I heard that Beckett was pitching game three, I figured that the Yankees would be more likely to get beat in that game than game four where Mussina would probably oppose the shaky Pavano.

Steve W. and I had been bitten in June when Mark Prior beat the Yankees on Sunday Night baseball in what were the best seats I will ever have in my life. We were compensated for the loss that night by meeting Ernie Banks. But the idea of going up against Beckett reminded me of the Prior(pun) game.

I also figured that the Yankees could get lucky and sweep and game four would be the clincher.

The sweep didn't happen and the Yanks had a great comeback on Tuesday night, but getting to see Roger was not a bad trade-off.

It was also significant that Ruben Sierra would show up in time to tie it. Kevin the Dude and I bought a ton of now worthless Ruben Sierra rookie cards in 1989. We must have bought over a 100 between the two of us. Ruben went from sensation to bomb a few years later and then turned up again as a dusted off journeyman. Almost fitting that he would turn up one last time just so I could remind myself of those days when Dude and I did little but collect baseball cards and watch $1 movies.

And Alex Gonzalez was intriguing because when I drafted him a few years ago for the IBL, Dude immediately chimed in with "scrub." Every dog has his day and today that scrub won the game by hitting a homer off Jeff Weaver (owned by Dude in the league). Why couldn’t you be right, Dude?

There were a couple of non-baseball interesting moments.

The guy married to Jessica Simpson sang the national anthem, which was funny, because Tricia has been telling me about this show for around and month and I hadn’t seen it until the other night when the Tuna Fish show repeated. It was worth a laugh for the both of us. Funny watching this guy singing the national anthem in front of the world and thinking he’s holding his ground about getting his spoiled wife a maid.

After the national anthem, four Air Force jets flew over in formation and I really felt the goose bumps just knowing that citizens were risking their lives to protect our freedom. The jets gave me such confidence in our country to do the job. That we can fly those jets over a country like Iraq and yet offer the people food instead of a gulag is a testament to moral nature of our nation. The guys sitting next to me with Marlins caps high-fived me after the jets went over. We were Americans even before we were baseball fans.

The most important part of the night was being able to take my dad to a World Series game. Dad took me to my first baseball game when I was six years old. The Yankees and the White Sox were playing in the old Commiskey Park. I didn’t know anything about baseball, but I remember him saying years later that it was a high scoring game and Rick Dempsey, who is really remembered for his years in Baltimore, caught for the Yankees instead of Thurman Munson.

The only thing I remember about the game was the popcorn. It came in a cardboard container that was shaped like a megaphone. I was actually more interested in the megaphone part because it the same prop used by Rita Moreno on the Electric Company when she yelled “Hey You Guys.” Or it’s at least the way I remember it. Anyway, I was tired of holding my megaphone and I put it on an empty seat next to me. A little girl around my age sitting in the seat adjacent took my megaphone a few moments later and started playing with it. I didn't know what to do. Her father didn't make her put it down and my father didn't care either. I was so jealous. I was sure I lost my megaphone.

Near the end of the game she got tired of it and put it back down on that seat, but I was sure that she still coveted it. When dad said it was time to leave I had to make a split second decision. The megaphone was mine. Did I take it or leave it? What would the girl do if I yanked it away? I decided not to take it and stood up. But before my feet could move a step, I reached back and yanked the megaphone out of the seat before the girl could think to stop me. We made eye contact, and a look of horror came on her face. She quickly made a plea to her father to stop me, but I was already moving away with the toy. Her tapping on her dad and her pointing at me did her little good. I don't know if that Megaphone ever made it out of Uncle Larry's car and back into our house in Indiana, but the memory of how I lost it and got it back with quick thinking has never left me. I was too young to define a base hit, but I will never forget going to that game.

Dad was so excited when I told him I bought us World Series tickets. He said he never dreamed that he would see a World Series game, much less a Yankee World Series game. I can say that I never thought I would either. To be able to share that experience with my dad who took me to my first baseball game is beyond words so I will stop this long essay right there.