Saturday, May 31, 2003

The Weekly Standard explains the Wolfowitz distortion.

Here's what he really said.
TANENHAUS: Was that one of the arguments that was raised early on by you and others that Iraq actually does connect, not to connect the dots too much, but the relationship between Saudi Arabia, our troops being there, and bin Laden's rage about that, which he's built on so many years, also connects the World Trade Center attacks, that there's a logic of motive or something like that? Or does that read too much into--

WOLFOWITZ: No, I think it happens to be correct. The truth is that for reasons that have a lot to do with the U.S. government bureaucracy we settled on the one issue that everyone could agree on which was weapons of mass destruction as the core reason, but . . . there have always been three fundamental concerns. One is weapons of mass destruction, the second is support for terrorism, the third is the criminal treatment of the Iraqi people. Actually I guess you could say there's a fourth overriding one which is the connection between the first two. . . . The third one by itself, as I think I said earlier, is a reason to help the Iraqis but it's not a reason to put American kids' lives at risk, certainly not on the scale we did it. That second issue about links to terrorism is the one about which there's the most disagreement within the bureaucracy, even though I think everyone agrees that we killed 100 or so of an al Qaeda group in northern Iraq in this recent go-around, that we've arrested that al Qaeda guy in Baghdad who was connected to this guy Zarqawi whom Powell spoke about in his U.N. presentation.

And then later in the interview Wolwowitz said this:
There are a lot of things that are different now, and one that has gone by almost unnoticed--but it's huge--is that by complete mutual agreement between the U.S. and the Saudi government we can now remove almost all of our forces from Saudi Arabia. Their presence there over the last 12 years has been a source of enormous difficulty for a friendly government. . . . I think just lifting that burden from the Saudis is itself going to open the door to other positive things.

Here's how Tanenhaus wrote it.
When we spoke in May, as U.S. inspectors were failing to find weapons of mass destruction, Wolfowitz admitted that from the outset, contrary to so many claims from the White House, Iraq's supposed cache of WMD had never been the most important casus belli. It was simply one of several reasons: "For bureaucratic reasons we settled on one issue, weapons of mass destruction, because it was the one reason everyone could agree on." Everyone meaning, presumably, Powell and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. "Almost unnoticed but huge," he said, is another reason: removing Saddam will allow the U.S. to take its troops out of Saudi Arabia, where their presence has been one of al-Qaeda's biggest grievances.

So Tanenhaus asked Wolfowitz about the Saudi connection to the policy, Wolfowitz said the Saudis weren't a factor, but later said that relations have improved between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia. Tanenhaus concludes that this was the real reason all along. Maybe Tanenhaus was right about his conclusions, but it's a distortion to say that Wolfowitz said so. Wolfowitz said no such thing.
Punching photographers and once even tying up his ex-wife, Sean Penn understands the negative publicity that comes with being unconventional. Why stop now and support a war the freed a poor country from a tyrant? I know why. Someone might make money.
"Our flag has been waving, it seems, in servicing a regime change significantly benefiting U.S. corporations," said Penn, questioning whether rebuilding the nation would benefit the "people of either Iraq or the United States."

Yeah, Iraq will get a modern country and it will create jobs for Americans. A total lose/lose situation.
Penn said U.S. claims that an invasion was necessary over fears of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction were false.
"We found that our secretary of state presented plagiarized and fictitious evidence of WMD's in Iraq to the American people and the world," he wrote. "Any responsible person must ask, in whose hands our flag now waves and what perception the world may have of it in those hands."

Did Colin Powell present plagiarized evidence? That would mean that he stole real evidence from someone else and presented it as his own. His next word fictitious means something entirely different. It means imaginary. So Penn is saying that the evidence is not only imaginary, but stolen. We'll all be happy when the administration stops this thievery and begins to create their own phony evidence. Sean Penn is a clown masquerading as a concerned citizen.

If there weren’t any weapons being built what were the trucks for?

Friday, May 30, 2003

As expected, Barbara Walters isn't planning on asking Queen Hillary any tough questions. Instead, they will pal around together and discuss her feelings or something. The other day on The View:

(Joy) Behar made the error of raising a Clinton scandal and got slapped down by Walters: "I mean, on the other hand, it would show that the Clintons are, you know, that they're over the Whitewater and the -- the Whitewater they never really got them on."
Vieira: "That was years and years of litigation."
Walters: "They never got them-"
Behar: "That's not true, that's not true. They got them on the fact that Monica was in the White House."
Walters raised her hands and made a pained facial expression as she sighed in disgust: "Oh, let's drop, let's move on!"

Hillary has never been asked about any of this in an interview. She avoided the subject when she ran for Senate in 2000, and Walters won't dare ask her now. I would settle for how she turned a $1,000 investment into $100,000 in a day of future's trading.

That Janet Reno is quite a character.
Former U.S. Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate Janet Reno couldn't even walk through the front door of the South County Civic Center Wednesday without being swarmed by admirers.

"We should be more organized than the Republicans who have traditionally out-organized us," Reno told the audience of about 60 people.

One part of Reno's speech, which touched upon issues such as classroom sizes, health care and the criminal justice system, seemed to speak directly to (audience member Janet) Goldfarb. Reno spoke about visiting the Dachau concentration camp in Germany as a child and learning what had happened.

"I went back and asked my adult German friends, 'How could you let that happen?' " Reno said. "They said, 'We just stood by.' "

She looked right into the audience and told them that's why she was there. She had no intention of just standing by.

"And don't you just stand by," Reno said.

She sees parallels between Republicans and Dachau? This would be a great stump speech to deliver in Waco, Texas.
Ted Kennedy wants something . . .

U.S. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy is urging the Bush administration to speed up its search for a new U.S. ambassador to Ireland - a post that has been vacant nearly six months.

``Unfortunately, we have begun to hear reports that the people of Ireland feel they are being slighted by the delay in the selection of the new ambassador,'' Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Sen. Christopher J. Dodd (D-Conn.) wrote in a May 22 letter to U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell.

I don't think Miguel Estrada is busy.
The lesson that the Democrats learned in 2000 was that Gore lost because he ran away from Clinton. I tend to think Gore lost because he didn’t run fast enough or far enough away from him. But they learned their own lesson and now they’re calling Clinton on the phone for advice.
"I worked with the president to reduce the deficit ... and I respect the choices he made to help create 23 million jobs and low inflation and low unemployment. The president did a terrific job and the country has a sense of that," Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts said while campaigning in Iowa.

Hummmm. How many elections do Democrats have to lose before they realize that people vote for strength? FDR won re-election twice during bad economic times. But the people perceived him as strong. Why do you think he refused to be photographed in the wheelchair? Bush is successfully prosecuting a war and the economy isn’t all that bad.
Along with Kerry and Dean, Rep. Dick Gephardt and Sens. John Edwards, Joe Lieberman and Bob Graham talk about once a month with the former president.

These guys have been in politics a long time, why do they need Clinton to tell them what to believe? The real lesson they learned from the 1990s is that you can easily fool the people by running as a centrist and then jacking up the welfare state later. Now, President Clinton, how exactly do we do that again?
In the conversations, as related by the candidates and their aides, Clinton has:

- Told Edwards to spend less time on TV if he needs more time to study issues.

- Complained to Edwards about President Bush‘s plans for rebuilding Iraq, and suggested that Democrats press the issue. "It's not going right," the former president said.

- Urged Lieberman to be tougher on Bush.

I’m surprised that the candidates are really admitting all this. Don’t they know he’s just being a ventriloquist to get his own ideas in the debate? He doesn’t think they can beat Bush and doesn’t want them to. He’s thinking Hillary in 2008. Even if they were successful in weakening Bush, Hillary would jump in the race and Bill would be giving speeches criticizing the very people he is “helping” now.
Ted Turner, writing in the Washington Post, has a lot of opinions about the relaxation of the FCC rules.
Large media corporations are far more profit-focused and risk-averse. They sometimes confuse short-term profits and long-term value. They kill local programming because it's expensive, and they push national programming because it's cheap -- even if it runs counter to local interests and community values.

I’m not sure exactly what community values are, but I know if I don’t like the programming on TV, I won’t watch it. Local stations make the majority of their money on local news not nationally syndicated programming. Local programming is not only unique on the 200 channels, but they can also sell every single commercial themselves. No matter how many stations a corporation buys, they will still provide local programming if people want to watch it.
For a corporation to launch a new idea, you have to get the backing of executives who are obsessed with quarterly earnings and afraid of being fired for an idea that fails. They often prefer to sit on the sidelines waiting to buy the businesses or imitate the models of the risk-takers who succeed.

He’s describing exactly what AOL/Time-Warner has done since the merger, but he fails to mention that it has been a disaster. Those executives who are afraid of being fired for ideas that fail will be fired because they will lose market share. Rupert Murdoch created a 4th network amid laughter, and brought the world the Simpsons, and the X-Files. His Fox News channel is now more watched than CNN. As long as there is a human spirit, there will be innovation. If some corporations are too timid to engage, they will lose to the corporations that aren’t so timid.
Even more troubling are the warning signs that large media corporations -- with massive market power -- could abuse that power by slanting news coverage in ways that serve their political or financial interests.

What warning signs? CNN has been slanting news coverage to serve their political interests since the founding. Now that someone else is slanting the other direction, Turner worries.
Naturally, corporations say they would never suppress speech. That may be true. But it's not their intentions that matter. It's their capabilities. The new FCC rules would give them more power to cut important ideas out of the public debate, and it's precisely that power that the rules should prevent.

I didn’t hear Turner complaining when every TV news network was reflexively liberal. Suddenly, he is losing market share, and now important ideas are being cut out of the debate. But my favorite part of this passage is that it’s not their intentions that matter. It’s their capabilities. That’s just sweet. That’s the essence of a big government liberal. Laws should be designed to curtail capabilities. It’s the same mantra that refuses to punish the criminal, because society is at fault for providing him the capabilities.
Some news organizations have tried to marginalize opponents of the war in Iraq, dismissing them as a fringe element. Pope John Paul II also opposed the war in Iraq. How narrow-minded have we made our public discussion if the opinion of the pope is considered outside the bounds of legitimate debate?

This is certainly the most self-serving statement in the whole column. Ted Turner is maybe the most prominent anti-Christian in the country. Not only has he slammed Christians in the past, he blames his divorce with Jane Fonda on her born-again Christianity.
Safeguarding the welfare of the public cannot be the first concern of large publicly traded media companies. Their job is to seek profits. But if the government writes the rules in a certain way, companies will seek profits in a way that serves the public interest.

As a businessman who spent his whole life seeking profits, Ted Turner tells us more about himself than the people he is worried about. He reminds me of the “enlightened” businessmen in Ayn Rand novels.

A business has a vested interest in giving the public what it wants. If a business is wrong, it loses money. The government has a vested interest in consolidating its power. They can mandate that a certain amount of barely watched channels exist, and they can pat themselves on the back for doing a public good. But wouldn’t a greater public good be to allow the market to create more of the channels that people want, instead of more of the channels the government thinks we need?

I grew up with 3 networks, PBS and the local Christian channel. I was sometimes forced to watch Jim and Tammy because it was the only thing of any entertainment value on TV. Now we have 200 channels and I spend more time reading blogs everyday than I do watching TV news. The diversity of opinion and the amount of stories online are far more than one person can digest. Most of this current debate is ridiculous. Maybe someone can't buy a UHF station, but they can webcast on the internet. Consider all the options that people have today. I haven't been forced to watch a begging preacher in years.

Thursday, May 29, 2003

Happy 100th Birthday, Bob Hope.

It seemed like everyone was waiting and waiting for George Burns to turn 100. Bob Hope kind of sneaked up on us.

My parents tell the story of seeing him in Japan where my father was stationed during the Vietnam War. I was there too, I suppose, but under cover. They saw him again in 1996 at the American Adventure show at Epcot. They recorded him with their video camera. He looked frail back then, and not too alert, but he responded to the standing ovation he got when he entered the theatre. There is a montage of film clips of 20th century icons at the end of the show. When Bob Hope's face appeared in the montage, the whole audience applauded again. I wasn’t there, but I still think of it every time I see the show.

My favorite Bob Hope fact comes from ESPN. The Yankees have won all but 15 of their 8,895 victories during his lifetime.

Wednesday, May 28, 2003

Someone would get the idea that David Broder hates the tax cut.
The public is plainly skeptical about the medicine this administration keeps prescribing. The most stunning evidence of these doubts is found in last week's NBC News-Wall Street Journal poll. Only 29 percent said they agreed with the statement that tax cuts are the best way to increase economic growth and create jobs, while 64 percent said there are better ways to improve the economy.

This is so misleading. He makes it sound like only 29% favor a tax cut. Maybe some people want the tax cut because they think the current code redistributes wealth too much. Maybe others want a tax cut so they can afford to eat out once in a while. Broder never addresses whether people are for the tax cut, only whether people think it helps the economy.
More than six out of 10 of those surveyed said they agreed that Bush's economic policy relies too heavily on tax cuts and not enough on direct job creation, that it benefits the wealthy more than average Americans and that it will increase the federal budget deficit -- which it surely will.

What in the world is direct job creation? It sounds like people want to see more jobs created, but they would hate to see someone getting rich creating those jobs. Didn't the Russians try this once? I don't remember how that turned out.
Meanwhile, out in the real world, the hard choices that Washington evades are being made by state legislatures and governors. My travels took me to Oregon and Indiana in recent days, and the fiscal situation in both states is grim. Indiana officials say they have lost more manufacturing jobs in the past two years than any other state. Unemployment in Oregon is at 8 percent, and tax revenue continues to fall short of even the downward-revised estimates. . . Nor are these states unique. . . . Almost eight out of 10 say their states will not be able to afford any increase in aid to hard-pressed local governments. Nearly all foresee cuts in social services, and half think it is at least somewhat likely that education, their top priority, will also feel the budgetary ax.

It's always education isn't it? We feed the education monster in every election year and the promises persist of better quality and more learning. Then the tests results appear and the kids aren't any smarter. For fun, why don't we cut education every year and track if the kids get any dumber?
People in states such as Oregon and Indiana are being battered by daily television bulletins and newspaper headlines reporting that the governments closest to them are being forced to take actions that threaten their quality of life.

Right. My quality life is based directly on how much money my local government can take away from me and spend on what they want. When I spend the money myself, I am always miserable.
Because for a long time reporters at the New York Times have been using other people's work and calling it their own, reporter Rick Bragg doesn't understand why he is suspended. He says everyone does it. It's the paper's policy.
Those things are common at the paper. Most national correspondents will tell you they rely on stringers and researchers and interns and clerks and news assistants."

Such Times stringers and interns "should get more credit for what they do," Bragg said, but in "taking feeds" from such assistants, "I have never even thought of whether or not that is proper. Maybe there is something missing in me. . . .

The thing that is missing is Bragg's concern about the work of others. He's saying that he just took the New York Times policy at face value and never questioned why someone shouldn't get credit for their work. This sounds like an odd excuse for a writer whose whole career has been considering the plights of the less fortunate. His nonfiction books about his family and growing up poor beg the reader’s empathy. Why does he have no empathy for the people who are doing the reporting on his stories? He could have gone to the editors and asked to share credit with the reporters who helped him.
"And this insanity -- this bizarre atmosphere we're moving through as if in a dream -- we're being made to feel ashamed for what was routine. . . . Reporters are being bad-mouthed daily. I hate it. It makes me sick."

Bragg has tried to resign in the past from the paper, because his diabetes makes it hard for him to travel and he already has enough money from his book sales, but Howell Raines convinced him to stay. It sounds as if Raines just wanted to keep a famous byline at the Times regardless of who was actually doing the reporting. Now that Raines' own job is in jeopardy, he'll tries to throw blame on the individuals for the policies he fostered.

Monday, May 26, 2003

You got to hand it to that hilarious rogue Scrappleface.

Rumsfeld Apologizes for Hyping Saddam Threat

(2003-05-26) -- U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld apologized to Senate Democrats today for pre-war "hyping" of the threat posed by Saddam Hussein's regime.

"I'm sorry Senators Biden, Rockefeller, Byrd, Roberts and others," said a contrite Mr. Rumsfeld. "We overestimated the threat posed by a lunatic dictator, who hated the U.S. and Israel, and who paid rewards to families of Palestinian terrorists. In an age when two of the world's tallest buildings can be brought down with tools used by the stockboy at K-Mart, we should have demanded more concrete evidence of exotic weapons of mass destruction. Saddam was helpless as a kitten up a tree."

Sen. Rockefeller, D-WV, said Congress must determine whether the administration "intentionally overestimated" Iraq's weapons program, or "just misread it. ... In either case it's a very bad outcome."

Mr. Rumsfeld agreed, "What an awful outcome. We deeply regret freeing the Iraqi people from a murderous gang of thugs masquerading in the United Nations as a representative republic. We're sorry that the Iraqi people have discovered thousands of graves of their Saddam-murdered relatives. It's none of our business if people want to live like that."
Old Joe Lieberman is back up to his old tricks of supporting tax cuts the moment they are off the table. Although he voted against the one passed on Friday, he called for bigger cuts on Sunday. I suppose the idea is to talk about tax cuts enough to that everyone thinks you're for smaller government. In reality, Joe Lieberman is more interested in deciding who deserves a tax cut than actually passing one.
I find Gus Van Sant a very thoughtful filmmaker, but word that his documentary about gun violence has won the coveted Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival, makes me cringe. I hadn't heard of Gus's film, but its described as interviewing kids whose schools were involved in shootings. That alone explains the sensationalism of the whole thing. I’m sure it’s not a movie about how more kids die from drowning, car accidents and even space heaters, which they do.

The French were just dying to award something that puts America in a bad light, therefore we should make a documentary interviewing old U.S. servicemen and the horror they went through liberating France in World War II? It won’t be about the actual battles or the heroism. It will just be about how terrible it was to see their friends die so we could win back France. After we recount the shellshock, it can go on to describe how easily France fell and how it could have been prevented had France stood up to Germany earlier in the 1930s.

We could enter it in the 2004 Cannes Film Festival.

Sunday, May 25, 2003

I was introduced to the writing of Victor Davis Hanson after September 11th. But not until I read this article did I realize what a truly interesting person he was. He's both a California farmer and professor of classical Greece. These two pursuits have made him a war hawk and populist. He rallies against agri-business and those who shy away from total war against Islamic terrorism. The feature explains how a life outside of academia has given Hanson added perspective in his life.

On September 20, 2001, this is what Hanson said about the war on terror.
The United Nations is not only as impotent as the old League of Nations, but lacks the former's idealism and has become ever more morally bankrupt. . . We cannot expect the French to remember Normandy Beach or the Germans the Berlin airlift. Indeed, most Europeans have already forgotten American intervention on their doorstep to stop the recent holocaust in the Balkans. We should neither lament nor be angered by their hypocrisy, but rather expect it, and realize what a different country America is and always has been compared to its European allies. We must be ready to be lectured by the Swedes who passed on World War II, ignored by the Swiss who profited from it, and hectored by the French who nearly lost it. America needs and welcomes friends, but the absence of such should not deter our response to avenge our own dead and protect our innocent.

Amazing. 9 Days after the Twin Towers fell, Hanson already predicted the trouble we'd have with Europe in fighting this war. In the same article he anticipated those who would say war has never solved anything.
Quite the contrary. The three greatest scourges of the 20th century — Nazism, Japanese militarism, and Soviet Communism — were defeated through war or continued military resistance. More were killed by Hitler, Stalin, and Mao outside of combat than died in World Wars I and II. . . Wickedness — whether chattel slavery, the gas chambers, or concentration camps — has rarely passed quietly into the night on its own. The present evil isn't going to either.

You can see Hanson's writings since 911 here.

Saturday, May 24, 2003

Jayson Blair uses racism as an escape for his irresponsible behavior.

Last night I watched Episode 6 (the 1940s) of Ken Burns baseball. I had always heard about the abuse that Jackie Robinson took, but I didn't know the extent of how he dealt with it. Here you saw a man of tremendous character that persevered by rising above their tactics. I have trouble with someone who has an opportunity like Blair who lies and threatens others, and then claims that he is the victim of his race. His race was a factor in landing that job, and he wasn't complaining back then.

Friday, May 23, 2003

The Smoking Gun shares a great story about power going to a cop's head.
On April 29, Officer Patrick Shields discovered the partially clothed couple making out in a car parked on a dirt road in Pensacola, according to the below police internal affairs report. But instead of making an arrest or issuing a warning, Shields, 31, permitted the 16-year-old girl and her boyfriend, 19, to dodge trouble by removing their shirts and performing the unorthodox calisthenics while he watched.

The link actually has all five pages of the police report. If you know Pensacola, you'll know the general area where they were stopped. Does anybody who reads Junto Boys have an opinion about how we can hire cops that aren't motivated by the power?
Finally, the tax cut has been passed! This is the tax cut that will be derided for years to come as the ruination of America. So when the economy recovers and your take home pay increases, don't forget that you are really miserable.

At least the Tampa Tribune gets it.
Political Correctness is now eating its own. Get this story. A teacher who took offense at a student who called his assignment “gay” sent the student out to the hall. The teacher then asked the class if that was appropriate language.
When some classmates defended the student's use of the word "gay," (teacher Brian) Emanuels responded by saying to the class, "OK, how would you like it if I said, 'I guess the (slur) can come back in?' " according to district officials.

"I used the word, and right after, I asked, 'Is it OK for me to use that term? Of course not. It's a highly offensive word,' " Emanuels said last week.

A student in the computer class told his mother what had happened, and his parents contacted the Seattle chapter of the NAACP.

The teacher was forced to resign. What's not reported here is that blacks don't like being compared to homosexuals. Whether he likes it or not, Emanuels' quest to make politically correct automatons of his students was his downfall. He was more or less saying that someone's behavior is equivalent to someone's race, and that might be a grand idea among white liberal intellectuals, but it doesn’t fly down at the NAACP.

Too many lawyers and activists and media types use our differences to divide us. At some point we're going to have be grownups at laugh off name calling. That's what we teach kids on the playground. Why don't we take our own advice?
Brian Wilson is planning to perform the never released SMILE album in London.

Many are familiar with the classic Beach Boys Album PET SOUNDS, but whatever happened to the follow-up, SMILE? Paul McCartney listened to Pet Sounds endlessly after its release in 1966. Paul even said that the track GOD ONLY KNOWS was the best song every recorded by anyone. It was the musical challenge of Pet Sounds that led McCartney to develop Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.

Pet Sounds was actually something of a commercial failure though celebrated among musicians. Sergeant Pepper was the most heralded rock album in history. Since McCartney answered Pet Sounds with Sgt. Pepper, Brian Wilson was tasked with answering Sgt. Pepper with something. That something was the never released SMILE album. In short, Brian Wilson lost his mind trying to compete with the masterpiece that he inspired.

Brian was booted from the Beach Boys and without his genius, the group became another mediocre 60s band that survived on their name alone. The Smile songs that were recorded were released here and there, but fans have long imagined how great the album could have been if Wilson had completed it.
Joe Lieberman is already using the independent commission on 911 as a way to attack Bush.
Lieberman, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for president, accused the Bush administration of "stepping delicately around the bureaucratic failures that have long plagued our domestic defenses at the federal level." He said government officials and employees should be held personally accountable for such failures.

We all know that communications infrastructure that could have better warned us broke down. And why should we be surprised that intelligence broke down when all government services are disappointing?

Last month I deposited a Department of Treasury check. The bank spit it out because it didn’t like the micro line at the bottom. When I called Treasury, they said that they wouldn’t issue me a new check, because the one they issued was valid. The Credit Union doesn’t know how to proceed and Treasury isn’t offering any solution.

The question is why am I not getting any help? The reason is because no one but me gains anything from the help. Let’s say that the Treasury Department was a private business that owed me money. They would have an interest in making me happy, because they would want my future business. My future business would mean profit for them, and profit is the essence of their existence. In other words, they get my money when they perform good service.

The government, on the other hand, gets my money by the point of a gun. If I don’t pay my taxes, I go to jail. If I don’t like the service I get from an agency I am paying for, I have no recourse. That’s why our experiences at the Department of Motor Vehicles and the Post Office differ from that at Best Buy and Barnes & Noble.

Some private businesses fail to give us what we want and they pay the price of being run out of business. After years of cheap looking stores and low quality merchandise, K-Mart declared bankruptcy. For as bad as K-Mart is, I can’t think of a government agency that is any better.

It’s funny how otherwise intelligent people will argue for the value of government services for minutia when our own experience shows that private industry always makes up the void. The profit motive has always expanded our choices and given us better aggregate service.

Those Washington DC politicians that refuse to send their children to the public schools they created are a good example of how their failure is met with a free market solution.

Liberals have argued for bigger and bigger government until it can hardly communicate with itself. Those services that only the government can perform like defense and intelligence get bogged down in the governmental quagmire that creates too much other noise. How can any President keep abreast of intelligence information when the people demand that he address Education, Medicare, Social Security, Welfare, Childcare, Labor issues, and a myriad of other fringe issues?

The Clinton Administration was offered Bin Laden in 1995, but before a decision could be made, the chance was gone. This may be a product of Clinton’s disdain for foreign policy, but I doubt if the message had gone immediately and directly to him, Bin Laden would be anywhere but in our custody.

What we’ve done is turn our Federal Government into national cure-all, and we’ve made the President a clerk. Our modern leaders are supposed to embrace every fringe issues or else. There is now so much on a President’s plate that his actual constitutional duties take a back seat.

I don’t know if September 11th could have been prevented, but if Liberals want to argue that the government was inefficient then they are only echoing the chorus of conservatives. And unless liberals are calling for a reduction of government they aren’t offering a solution, just a way for blaming Bush for government inefficiencies they created.

Thursday, May 22, 2003

If the Democrats didn't have enough to worry about, some natural allies are asking that they support Bush's Middle East roadmap. It would seem that those who wrote the letter are so reflexively Democrat that they can't stomach the idea that Bush is actually their best ally.
A group of prominent Democratic Jewish donors sent a letter today to the Democratic presidential candidates urging them to support, or at least not to oppose, the Bush administration's "road map" for peace in the Middle East.

"As the presidential campaign begins to pick up steam, we know that the pressure on you to criticize the administration will increase," the letter said. "But, as long as the administration remains actively engaged in an effort to implement the road map, we ask you not to put obstacles in the way of the president's Mideast peacemaking policies."

How good are you looking when the opposition is making inroads with your base?

Traffic tickets have long been a source of taxation disguised as public safety. You could do any number of positive things to promote good driving safety if that was your goal. You could offer cheaper license plates and driver’s licenses to people with clean records. You could offer a refund on traffic violations if the motorist can go three years without further incident. The only incentive they offer is a negative one attached to more revenue for them.

Now, police in Kissimmee, FL are posing as homeless in order to catch people running red lights. Homeless advocates are more upset than drivers.

Undercover deputies stood along streets and gave the indication they were vagrants by pushing shopping carts and wearing fake teeth and tattered clothing. They also carried small cardboard signs, which read, "Sheriff's traffic sting in progress. Buckle up."

"It's kind of appalling," said Marilyn Gordon, executive director of the Homeless Services Network of Central Florida.

Thrown in at the end of the article is talk of a nationwide campaign to increase seatbelt use. Cops in Orlando have been pulling people over recently for not wearing their seatbelts. While argument can be made that running a red light puts other people in danger, how does not wearing a seatbelt hurt anyone other than the motorist?
State Rep. Irv Slosberg, D-Boca Raton, an advocate of stronger seat-belt and other traffic-safety laws, applauded the sting operation. His daughter, Dori, 14, was killed in a 1996 traffic accident in which she did not wear a seat belt.

Why does Irv think the government can force his daughter to do what he couldn't force her to do?

There's so much romanticism of the anti-war 60s that modern liberals are stunned when their current opposition is booed off the stage. Take New York Times reporter, Chris Hedges, who had anticipated cheers from the Rockford College graduating audience he spoke to, he received raspberries instead.

My favorite part of all these speeches is when the guy who gets booed thinks it's the end of free speech in America, instead of realizing that those boos were the celebration of free speech. Those who grew up too late to protest in the 1960s, but had to endure endless college professors talking about power to the people, are stunned when their big chance ends in scorn.

Wednesday, May 21, 2003

If you have ever wondered what happens to Time Capsules, you'll be amused to learn that even the experts don't know. It seems that the city of Portland, Oregon was ready to unearth a time capsule buried by Teddy Roosevelt in 1903, but no one knows where they planted it.
Clinton has been trying to escape complicity for falling asleep to terrorism during his watch. Now his former FBI director, Louis Freeh, tells how little Clinton cared about the 19 servicemen killed in the 1996 attack Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia.

It’s in the preamble to the constitution. The government is supposed to provide for the common defense. It’s only supposed to promote the general welfare. The Democrats have reversed the role of the government.

FDR and LBJ tried to provide both by waging wars against totalitarians and hunger. But since Vietnam, Democrats just provide for the general welfare. The common defense is hardly an afterthought. I may be out of work or disabled or psychotic, but I have a much better chance of feeding myself than providing a military to defend myself.

Democrats think Bush got a free ride because of the war, but Clinton’s approval numbers would have been at similar levels had he treated the attacks we sustained in the 1990s with resolve. $1 of action is worth $10 of talk.

"If George Bush is re-elected, you can about be certain that in six years, Roe v. Wade will be gone, affirmative action will be gone, and the extreme political agenda that this group has advocated will be ensconced in civil society," said former U.S. Sen. Carol Moseley Braun of Illinois.

Has Roe v. Wade ended the abortion debate? Has affirmative action ended racism? Maybe their reversal will allow both problems to be settled in a more democratic way.
"These judges, some of these judges, that come out of the White House, they will take your rights away. It is no more complicated than that," said U.S. Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina.

It's Orwellian to say that judges who believe in the original intent of the constitution will take away your rights. It's the judges that invent rights willy nilly that are dangerous to your actual rights. If a judge can find rights in an area where none exist, they can also re-interprit long held rights. That's why Democrats see a phantom constitutional protection for abortion, but they deny any individual right in the second amendment.
Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut. "That is not the America I love and those are not the type of judges I will nominate, I promise that. ... They talk about compassion, but then they go ahead and try to pack our courts with judges who are trying to take away the rights of Americans, particularly the rights of women."

Read: I will continue to nominate the kinds of judges that remove controversial issues from the democratic process, and rule by fiat. Therefore, issues like Roe v. Wade will be fought forever clouding more important constitutional issues.
U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio. "Joblessness is a weapon of mass destruction. Poverty is a weapon of mass destruction. Homelessness is a weapon of mass destruction. Poor health care is a weapon of mass destruction, and when the government lies to the American people, that is a weapon of mass destruction."

All of these problems can be solved through a smaller government that allows individuals more choices. But to Kucinich, taxing people out of business is supposed to create jobs and get people off the streets.
John Kerry "We don't need a Democratic Party that turns its back on 50 years of accomplishments and lacks ambition. We don't need in America a second Republican Party, and I will run as a Democrat that offers this country real choices."

Kerry's 50 years of accomplishments haven't solved poverty or racism, but have cost us trillions of dollars. The only choice he is offering is a greater variety of potential failures that we'll be stuck with. How about the choice of letting American's opt out of his social experiments?

Tuesday, May 20, 2003

Bush will never be considered an environmental President, because he doesn't bow to radical treaties like Kyoto that solve invented problems. The shame is that when he tries to do some good, the opposition finds a way to demagogue it. With the problems of underbrush and smaller trees causing forest fires, Bush wants to be proactive and get rid of the danger. Rather than support such a measure, others would just as soon let the fires burn than allow Bush any credibility on the issue.

Nuns and Priests are bemoaning Executives that make a lot of money. The incentive to be a Nun or Priest is the pleasure of God, but Morgan Stanley doesn't have that going for them when they are trying to recruit the best leaders. We often hear of Nuns and Priests that espouse some sort of Marxism. I can only think it's because they live in a very collectivist enclave themselves. The same freedom that allows them to practice their religion allows others to earn as much money as they can.

In a long historical line of politicians trying to tie the hands of war leaders, Ted Kennedy is now bemoaning Bush's request to lift the ban on low yield nuclear weapons. This is irresponsible of Kennedy, because we need a really scary weapon to make states think twice before funding terrorism. Everyone knows we're not going to use our current ICBMs against radical Islam, but the deterrent of a low yield weapon cannot be discounted.

The more a guy like Kennedy stands in the way, the more likely we'll have to actually use one to prove our resolve. If these guys could ignore politics for a moment and get on board, we could end this war a lot quicker and with a lot less bloodshed. Having the weapon will be enough to make states think twice about supporting terrorism. But if they see division in America as to whether we would actually use it, then it will prove worthless as a deterrent.

If Kennedy likes we can just sit and wait for the next attack on American soil.

Here’s a great story about how CNN misrepresented the gun law passed in 1994. Anti-gun supporters have long used the argument that dangerous fully automatic weapons are being legally bought and sold all over the country, although automatic weapons have been illegal since 1934. CNN does the same by showing a policeman shoot an automatic weapon, and listing it among the weapons that were banned in the 1994 law that is now expiring.

The 1994 law was pretty arbitrary in the weapons that were banned. That’s when the term assault weapon got a lot of use. But there was really no difference between the banned guns and the guns that were not banned. The banned guns just looked more dangerous.

Now that the law is to expire, be on the lookout for more hysteria governing this issue. We’ll no doubt hear stories about how children will suddenly be in danger if the law isn’t re-instated.

A Federal three-judge panel has granted a stay in the ruling against the McCain/Feingold campaign finance law. This sets the stage for the Supreme Court to make the final ruling, which the Washington Post believes will come late this year or early next year. Considering yesterday's news that a couple of high court judges want to call it quits, this will only add more drama. Although this decision is about 10 times more important than the Roe v. Wade, I bet Senators will still be more interested in abortion than any other issue when they hold confirmation hearings.

The Supreme Court gets to decide whether political speech in political campaigns is protected. This is at the core of the 1st amendment. For years, judges have read every type of vulgar talk or symbolic representation as free speech, although the founders were only trying to protect political speech. If Congress can actually keep free citizens from running political advertisements, then people really lose the one power they have against the powerful.

This has been sold to the public as a reform to corruption. A bunch of elected officials are saying they cannot be trusted without laws to rein them in. In fact, this is just the sort of law that allows incumbents to be questioned less about their mischief. Every time I hear John McCain say “special interest” I cringe because he’s one of the most powerful people in the entire world, and he acts as if some political action committee is the ruin of our system. He’s just a guy who doesn’t want to be criticized by opponents.

If every political donation is given in the sunshine, with donor and recipient listed, I don’t see how that money can corrupt anyone. We’ll all get to decide if someone is being paid off.

Monday, May 19, 2003

Three possible justices could be stepping down from the Supreme Court this summer. No announcements have been made, but NEWSDAY writes an interesting article about the speculation and possible consequences of a retirement. If Senate Democrats are using the filibuster to keep lower level appointees at bay, then you can only imagine what happens if someone retires from the high bench. It’s not overstating the case that we might be heading toward a constitutional crisis. If the President can’t even get a vote on his nominees, the system doesn’t work. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Senate Rules change so that filibusters cannot be used during the confirmation process. Democrats may do themselves more harm by blocking a vote on Estrada, Owens and Pickering. The big battle is really ahead.

Sunday, May 18, 2003

The Washington Post Wants Higher Tax Rates

The Washington Post calls the latest tax cut dangerous. They blame Reagan’s tax cut for running up deficits. They go on to say that no one will have the resolve to stop the spending and therefore, the people should be resigned to the fact that they will always pay high taxes or face the music. That is a static model based on the idea that tax rates have nothing to do with productivity. But everyone knows that people take more risk when the rewards are greater. Why should you risk your money to create a business when the government is ready to take half when you succeed? And if you fail, you’re on your own.

What WaPo doesn’t say is that actual tax revenues increased every single year after Reagan’s tax cut was passed. The tax cut gave incentive. The incentive created growth. The growth led to more actual dollars going into the federal treasury. So why is it inconsistent to say that Bush is cutting taxes in order to generate the revenue that will pay for this spending? It’s not inconsistent, but many people use the revenue argument to protect the tax code, so they can use the tax code for social engineering.

Many in government are less worried about revenue, because they can print money anytime they want to pay for programs. They like a complex tax code because it allows them to single out behavior for reward or punishment. A good example is the earned-income tax credit for children. Children are good, so let’s reward that. Another example is the 30%-50% tax that we pay for gasoline. We want people to conserve, so we will charge them higher than market price to drive their cars. Go up and down the tax code and you will find inequity and decisions based on social policy. When taxes decrease, the government has less flexibility to reward or punish behavior, and that’s what the “enlightened” really hate.


A new study shows that women working side by side with men for the same amount of hours earn the same amount of money. This is good news for women and bad news for women’s advocates that are running out of things to advocate. The study shows that women that earn less do so because they tend to enter and exit the workforce because of children. Women that stay in the work force, earn the same as men. It also says that women with children sometimes trade pay for more flexibility in their schedules.

Don’t underestimate the women’s advocates, though, they still offer two gems of oppression.
"Are they really making choices if there is no child care, or if school ends at 3 p.m. and they have no place for their child?" asked Heidi Hartmann, an economist and president of the Institute for Women's Policy Research in Washington, D.C.
Heidi Hartmann makes it sound like children just happen to women with no choice on their part. I’m sure most women know that school lets out at 3pm before they have kids. They went to school too, remember?
She and others want to know why fields dominated by women pay less, on average, than fields dominated by men. "Are they choosing to be a nurse when they expressed an interest in engineering in high school but the mechanical engineer teacher was a sexist pig and didn't want her?
There is always a villain isn’t there? And I don’t remember having a mechanical engineering class in high school. Did anybody have that choice at their high school? Heidi probably went to some sort of prep school that offered everything. It allowed her to work for a big think tank in Washington. Maybe Heidi should do a study about how she had all the opportunities, while public school kids only get to blog.

Saturday, May 17, 2003


There are worries that we're heading into a deflationary period, and your money will be worth more. Why is that a worry? Because most people don't have a savings account, they have credit card debt. I remember hearing a lot in the 1990s that American's weren't saving money, but it's a bad business move to save money in inflationary times. You either have to invest or spend your money to get full value.

Now, if a deflation comes on, the people in debt will own something worth less than what they paid. People are use to that with cars and DVDs, but they're not use to falling value on Real Estate. Neither are state governments that depend on property taxes to run. The biggest danger is that most people aren't prepared to react correctly to economic changes. A lot of the debt acquired by people is a product of believing that monetary policy will always be like it is today.

If we really move into a deflationary period, those without debt and property may get a chance to pick up some bargains. But since it will be unpopular and the government can print more money to relieve it, I don't see any long-term deflation ever happening.

Guns don't kill Bad Guys, Heroes do.

No one died, although Harold McKinney potentially saved lives by shooting a robber in a Cincinnati bar. The police brought charges of felonious assault and carrying a gun in a liquor establishment against the hero. Luckily, sanity won out when the Grand Jury rejected those charges. A friend was on a grand jury last year, and he said that they indicted every case that was brought by prosecutors, so it was probably a rare thing for those guys to go against the police. Think of the message that would be sent to the bad guys if the cops had won this charge. Rob anyone you like, bad guys, because your adversaries will be locked up for stopping you.

Oliver Stone has to suck-up to AOL/Time-Warner Brass by interviewing some victims of Castro's treachery for his otherwise glowing documentary. The masterpiece is now ruined, I suppose.

Even Leni Riefenstahl didn't sit down and do a one-on-one with Hitler. Which makes me wonder. . . Why does the far-left hate Hitler and always compare him to Bush? I thought it was for his savage treatment of people, but since they don't mind seeing others handled brutally, it must be for another reason. And considering that their other cause célèbre is McCarthyism, I can only suppose that they really hate Hitler because he drove out the communists in the land of Karl Marx. It would also jive with the point that they never equate Hitler and Stalin who were contemporaries in more ways than one. With all the concentration camp films and documentaries that pour out of Hollywood, can anyone name a decent Gulag film?

Friday, May 16, 2003


Of all the Jayson Blair stories this one gets me the most. I was actually feeling sorry for the Times. I know a lot of writers are mad at Howell Raines and his politics and I thought they were using this to get back at him.
Lisa Suhay, a contract writer for the New York Times, was stunned when she saw what Jayson Blair had done with her work.

It was the summer of 2000, and Blair had asked her to interview some people about the recently announced Firestone tire recall. Suhay discovered a neighborhood man named Michael Matha in his New Jersey driveway who said he had just gotten replacement tires from Firestone for his Ford Explorer. She e-mailed his comments to Blair.

The next day's story opened with Matha having been transported to "a Firestone tire and service center." In Blair's version, the man had not yet gotten his tires. "I've heard that they're putting people off because there's a shortage of replacement tires, but I'm not taking no for an answer," Matha was quoted as saying.

"I was livid," Suhay said yesterday. "I was beyond livid." She said she complained to editors on the Times metro desk, and clerks on the business desk, but they brushed her off. Blair refused to run a correction, she said, and at one point threatened her.

"Jayson told me that if I was tired of working for the Times, he would make sure my name was taken off the assignment list," Suhay said. "He made it clear that he was in the office every day while I was just a voice on the phone. Who would editorial listen to if he told them not to use me because I was difficult to work with? I backed off."

This is where the whole paper comes into question. Blair uses his power to threaten a contract employee and the Editors ignore her complaints. They weren't doing their job, which shows that the problem at the Times is much more than one rogue reporter. Blair’s act demonstrated their already flawed methods, but the right methods would have left Blair impotent. We’ll hear a lot about how they are cleaning up their messes, but until some of those editors take the fall, it will all be public relations.

Thursday, May 15, 2003


It’s funny how the government can seize our freedom without any conspiracy or prior planning. Today on NPR, I heard a researcher talk about the danger of obesity. He did a study that showed that overweight people spend far more money on health care. Nobody is surprised. The other non-surprise is that he suggests a government solution, the need to regulate fatty foods.

Last year obesity cost the nation over 90 billion dollars, half of which was paid by the government in the form of programs like Medicare. Since it’s costing taxpayers so much money, it is now important that the government get involved and end the problem. Hilarious!

In the mid 90s, people at work were advocating the abolition of tobacco, because of the health cost involved. I opined that saturated fat causes heart disease too, and would they be for the abolition of Twinkees. First, they said they wouldn’t be for that abolition, and second they said that would never happen anyway.

Here is an example of how the government takes away our freedom by giving us something. When they advocated health solutions like Medicare it was to help people with no money. Eventually every senior citizen was forced onto Medicare. But money is a scarce commodity, so they have to ration care. So far the government has not forced individuals to give up habits that are more dangerous instead they pass laws to tax the dickens out of products they don’t like. It's not abolition, but it's certainly a restriction on freedom that could lead to abolition. The power to tax is the power to destroy as Andrew Jackson once said. The govt. already heavily taxes alcohol and tobacco, and it could soon over tax junk food.

Some people might think this is a good idea, but I don't know how using tax policy to dictate social policy is good for anyone, because it starts from the perspective that the government knows you better than you know yourself. The government acts with compassion, but their good deeds end with the young healthy people losing their freedom. The government creates demand as is Medicare and then uses it to regulate our behavior. People would no doubt be better off eating Broccoli at every meal, but did the founders fight the British so that the government could regulate their diets?

Wednesday, May 14, 2003

California is increasingly taking on the look of a Western European country. Govenor Davis has just announced another tax increase to keep the gigantic welfare state solvent, which will no doubt be worth another 100,000 votes on the recall effort.

It's a shame that the politicians do their best to make nice places unlivable from a tax perspective. I couldn't even begin to understand how the average person pays their bills and raises their children on a middle class income in some of these places.

I fear that people with ambition are having fewer kids, because the system taxes them too heavily, while the less fortunate continue to have more kids because the system rewards them for it. I can see this leading to fewer affluent people who will be responsible for more and more poor.


I have to think the Clinton culture of lies is really the culprit behind these young reporters and their fake stories. Clinton demonstrated truth was secondary to "doing the business of the American people." The message to America said that it wasn’t important to be honest as long as your heart was in the right place. It's not much of a leap that a reporter might use this justify faking a story under the auspices of "greater truth." When a President can lie to a grand jury, is it any shock to think that other people will try lying to the public?

Golf is having a different kind of diversity argument. Should a woman play in a Men's PGA Tour Event? Why not, I say. Annika Sorenstan will be given no special considerations. She'll hit from the same tees. I'm interested in how well she does, but I think some of the men are worried about finishing behind her. Competition always brings out the best in people. If Annika makes the men work harder then how can that be worse for golf?

Diversity is officially a religion. The struggling Florida Marlins fired their manager over the weekend and brought in Trader Jack McKeon to finish out the season. Bud Selig wants to know whether the Marlins followed the minority-hiring guidelines. The guidelines are more or less a series of hoop jumps to show that you considered minorities for the job. The league office is supposed to look at your interview list before you hire anyone.

It’s all public relations, because most managers are chosen without an interview. The population of potential managers is very small and these guys already know each other. It just means that General Managers spend more time interviewing managers than scouting players, and a lot of minority coaches are flying around the country interviewing for jobs that are already spoken for.

I’m sure the system can theoretically lead to more minority hiring, but you can’t handcuff teams in the middle of a season over this. It’s hard to make a transition midseason, because you can’t tell the outgoing manager that he is leaving until the new manager is ready to take over. If the team has to send faxes to the league office, word is going to get out that the old manager is being fired. You don’t want these guys learning about this on ESPN.

In this particular situation, the Marlins were having a run of bad luck. Their pitching staff is hurt and they needed the steady hand of an old pro. They chose 72 year old Jack McKeon. They weren’t going to find that kind of sage experience in an interview.

We’re taught that race is the most superficial quality a person has. Everyone is an individual and should be judged on their merit. But when we don’t see enough people of a certain color represented somewhere, we sacrifice our color-blind rhetoric to “correct” the problem. How can we be a nation of equals when we insist on defining each other by our color?

Tuesday, May 13, 2003

A bunch of kids who are too young to recognize old hippy rhetoric recycled have created a web site for Dennis Kucinich. You have to admire the kid’s idealism. When they grow up and learn about protest candidates, tax policy, and the War on Terror, many of them will no doubt laugh at their youthful folly.

Howard Dean promises to go easy on John Kerry. These guys are living in the old world. They both want to win the New Hampshire primary, because in the old days, New Hampshire was a ticket to the White House. This is no longer the case. Paul Tsongas beat Bill Clinton there in 1992 and John McCain beat Bush there in 2000. Sure it is important and to win an early primary helps extend your campaign, but why draw blood a year before the big day. The campaign is long enough as it is. If these guys don’t cool it for a while, and pick it up again in late November, we’ll be sick of them before the primaries even begin.

The best thing that can be said about the attack in Saudi Arabia last night is that the war on terrorism isn't over. While we would have liked Iraq to be the end, this fight will continue probably past the Bush administration. But if we can keep up the hard work, then someday we can live in a better world.

The DC mayor has decided to back a school choice plan. He's in a good position to do so. His constituents will love the plan even if his Democratic party does not. Washington is a great city to try it in also. The schools have been so lousy for so long, an improvement will give fuel to those who want to see everyone have a choice. If only Democrats liked all choice as much as they like abortion.

Blow to Neanderthal breeding theory (BBC News, April 13, 2003)

They found that while, unsurprisingly, modern humans show clear genetic signs of their Cro-Magnon ancestry, no such link between Neanderthal DNA and modern European DNA could be established.

The results, they say, indicate that Neanderthals made little or no contribution to the genes of modern humans.

Then how do you explain that bouncer working at Apple Annies?

I know some people love to hear Bill Clinton continue to opine. I just wonder why he didn't implement any of his wonderful ideas during the eight years he was President. Now he suggests that Bush engage North Korea. Is that an admission that sending Jimmy Carter isn't enough? I'm sure President Hillary would know what to do.

Everybody wants the Hillary interview, but the NY Post suggests that it won't be the real thing whoever gets it. Hillary is for two years now a sitting Senator, and has Presidential aspirations and she has yet to give a candid interview to anyone. I would be happy to hear what a woman's rights activist like her thinks of Juanta Broderick's rape accusation against her husband. It also might be nice to know if it is easier for a feminist to forgive a straying husband. Ah, I guess that's why she won't give a real interview. How could she possibly explain so many inconsistencies in her life? At the heart of it, does a self-respecting strong women stay with a lying cheating man?

Sunday, May 11, 2003

There is a lot of noise about Congress giving immunity to gun makers from lawsuits. This law is a long time in coming.

When a gun kills someone, it is only doing what it is designed to do. Why should someone be sued because their product works properly? The founders who protected guns under the second amendment were under no illusion that guns kill and neither are gun manufacturers. In fact, if guns didn’t kill, we’d have no reason to buy them.

The Congressional protection of gun manufacturers is consistent with the second amendment right to own a gun. By allowing people to sue gun makers, you allow lawyers to put them out of business which is operationally the same as making them illegal. Gun locks may work for some people, but their presence or absence should be up to the gun owner, not some legislature somewhere.

If you ever actually need your gun for protection, you may not have the time to go through every step some lawmaker designed before the bad guy is killing you.

Lawyers have benefited from too many jurors whose personal philosophy contains very little personal liability. It is one thing if a product is made poorly and causes damage, but it is quite another if the user doesn’t know what he is doing.

If your cooking stove has an electrical malfunction and burns down your house, you should have grounds to sue for faulty construction. But if you burn your hand making eggs, then it’s only your own fault. This is the differential that jurors aren’t always making.

The lady who burned herself on McDonald’s coffee should have considered the idea that coffee is hot. The person who died of smoking should have considered that smoking has been labeled dangerous since the 1960s.

Every time a lawsuit is won because of some fool’s poor choices, the rest of us pay in higher product costs and higher insurance. And if we blame gun manufacturers because their products work, then only criminals will be able to afford them. That will leave average citizens in even more peril.

UPDATE: The Dems won't have it.

A funny controversey has happend at the Kentucky derby a week later. It seems that the winner's jockey may have held something illegal in his hand. But what? Look how his hand is shaped in this picture. He's holding the whip between his thumb and index finger which may be normal for all I know, but why doesn't it slip out. Also the spread of his first two fingers suggests that something is in his hand. And it seems that the stable has already changed the story at least once about what that object could be. The rules seem to be that you can't have electronic devices and I doubt the photo can prove any wrongdoing. That said, the article makes me suspicious. I don't see myself betting on Funny Cide to win the Preakness.

Saturday, May 10, 2003

I missed my chance to interview John Rocker. He had been playing for AA Orlando and I was even there on Thursday to do a story on the team. But the fact that I wasn't feeling well along with miscommunication with my media contact sent me home before I got the story. I'm planning to go back Thursday or Friday, but Rocker is already gone. I really didn't have anything to ask the controversial Rocker. It was going to be the same old business about whether he liked playing at Disney's Sports Complex. No chance that he'd flip out. He'd already seen his career decline from the distraction of talking honestly. It's funny that sports writers defended Robbins and Sarandon for their controversial remarks, but blasted Rocker. Where were all the zealots to remind us that Rocker was a private citizen with the right to say anything he felt? Sedition is hip, but political incorrectness is lethal.

"You can't handle the truth."

Jack Nicholson went ape last night at the Laker's game.
"I pay a lot of money for this seat,'' Nicholson said at halftime. "This is the NBA, you can't tell me to sit down.''

It's so funny how seriosuly we take sports. I have yelled at the TV set many times. The time I remember most was when my Yankees were robbed in the 1995 playoffs with Seattle. Little Joey Cora was way out of the baseline and he should have been called out. He later scored and it cost the Yanks the series. I met Yankee Manager, Buck Showalter less than a month later in Pensacola. He never said publicly that the call was bad, so I tested it out on him. I said that it was lousy umpiring, and he said that he thought so too, but he wasn't the least bit emotional about it. At that point I felt better. I was robbed sure, but losing that series caused Buck Showalter his job. He could be philosophical about it, why couldn't I? I got off much easier.

If you like pundit fights, the recent Neal Boortz - Bill O'Reilly arguement about the all-white dance in Georgia was a good one. It ended in O'Reilly calling Boortz a viscious son of a bitch. You can read Neal Boortz's take on the argument here. I couldn't find any commentary about the disagreement from O'Reilly's website. I like the factor quite a bit, but I think Boortz criticism of O'Reilly is valid.


Notice how Democrats and other liberal media types are pinning their hopes on a bad economy to defeat George W. Bush. That was the only lesson they learned from the 1990s. Somehow, the unbeatable Geroge HW Bush was beaten because the economy was in the dungeon. Nonsense, I say. Three other hurdlers did in Bush 41.

Pat Buchanan was the first hurdle. Buchanan opened up Bush’s weakness not on the economy, but on economics. Bush’s no new taxes broken promise, insured that conservatives would never trust him again.

Ross Perot’s complaints about the deficit made moderates question the wisdom of a Bush second term.

And for the first time in 30 years, the Democrats had a youthful vibrant candidate that could win on his charm.

A lot had to go wrong for Bush to lose, but he played his hand poorly every step of the way. The Democrats told Bush in 1990 that there wouldn’t be any budget at all if he wouldn’t rescind his pledge not to raise taxes. He wasn’t a good enough politician to see the trap they were setting for him. He thought he was compromising for the betterment of the country. They promised to cut spending with a tax hike and Bush figured the deficit would shrink.

Once he made that deal with Democrats, other Democrats were now free to claim he was a liar that broke his tax pledge. This set the stage for Buchanan to rip him inside the Republican Party. When the Democrats didn’t reduce spending like they promised, it gave Perot ammunition to complain that big deficits were ruining the country. Those two guys defeated Bush before he ever faced Clinton.

So once you take a battle weary Bush and put him up against the young charming charismatic savior, it was all but done. Going into the Democratic convention, no one gave Clinton any chance of winning, but Perot did something that sealed victory. After the second night of the convention Perot dropped out of the race citing a resurgent Democratic Party. Perot was statistically tied for the lead at that point and I think he was afraid that he might actually win, something that he hadn’t planned. Perot just wanted to be a protest candidate, not the president. That immediately pushed Clinton from third to first, a lead he would never relinquish.

It’s always said that Bush 41 was surprised that people would elect Bill Clinton despite his character flaws, but Bush missed his own point. It was Bush’s willingness to break his tax promise that led to his down downfall via Buchanan and Perot. Bush was a better man, but operationally the people chose a guy who lied about his personal life over a guy who lied about raising taxes.

This is all important, because it highlights why everybody is wrong about the economy deciding the next election. We’re not over a war like in 1992, but we’re in the middle of one. The people are going to want a President that stands strong in his willingness to defeat terrorism. Most Democrats have already squandered their credibility on the issue by attacking Bush’s decisions. Clinton’s shrewd campaign move in 1992 was praising everything that Bush did in the war, therefore co-opting the issue and making people think that Clinton had every bit as much resolve at Bush. That’s the first lesson the Democrats missed from the 1990s.

The second lesson was that character does count. The Republicans would have never regained Congress without Bill Clinton’s inability to be genuine. Democrats were always showing poll numbers that said Clinton was more popular than Gingrich, but that didn’t cost the Republicans Congress. They didn’t like Gingrich as much, but it was an issue of boastfulness not character. But Clinton moral lapses most certainly caused Gore the Presidency. The people were Clinton-fatigued, and wanted a man they could trust. Gore while a good man, was weighted down by a corrupt one.

And that comes to the final thing the Democrats didn’t learn about the 1990s. If elections were about economics then Gore would have won the election in 2000 on the strength of a seemingly strong economy, and The Republicans wouldn’t have made gains in Congress in 2002 due to a weak economy. Both of the last two elections showed that character trumps everything else.

The only thing that can beat Bush in 2004 is a candidate who is more trustworthy. That can only happen if Bush has a moral lapse. They can't co-opt the war issue because most of them have been critical of Bush the whole way. So the pundits can spend the next 18 months talking about the economy, and since the economy is likely to improve, they will be certain Bush won because for reasons which I think are spurious. But if the economy doesn’t improve according to the media, just wait for the looks on their faces when Bush wins anyway.

Friday, May 09, 2003

Congress and NASA are at odds over the sharing of the privileged interviews given by NASA officials and engineers. NASA won’t even show them the testimony with the witness names blacked out. I can understand NASA not wanting to reveal the identities of people who agreed to talk in anonymity, but why can’t congress see their anonymous testimony?

It’s looking more and more like the powerful within NASA made changes and cut budgets of things they didn’t understand, and therefore compromised the safety of their personnel. Why else would they be so hesitant to share the testimony? If the public isn’t privy to the information coming out of this investigation, we can’t be sure that important people aren’t covering-up their complicity in the disaster. Unwillingness to share the information makes them look guilty, which may be better for them than being proven guilty.


I think I tried to be too clever in my criticism of Theresa Heinz Kerry recently. My real problem is that I think she disrespects the memory of her dead husband by using his money to fund the candidacy of a man who stands for opposite things. John Heinz wasn’t a red meat conservative, but he wasn’t a liberal like Kerry either. As a guy who supported the Nicaraguan Contras, the MX missile, SDI, and specifically the use of force against Iraq in 1991(The last vote he cast before his plane crash), Heinz was in direct contrast to Kerry on foreign policy. Had John Heinz been alive for Kerry's partisan attacks on Bush leading up to the recent war, I can't imagine him applauding Kerry.

I’m happy that the former Mrs. Heinz won’t die a lonely woman, but should she be spending her late-husband’s fortune to fund his political adversary?

Maxine Waters is scared of Rupert Murdoch or so she says in a congressional hearing. Maxine is top-shelf on the shrill meter anyway. Seldom will you see a politician talk down to their constituents more than she does. She predicted in 1993 that if Clinton’s stimulus bills were defeated, the streets would burn. The popularity of Murdoch’s Fox News must be scary to Watters who now has to answer more often for her nutty remarks.

The FBI returns to Bio-weapons researcher Dr. Steven Hatfill as the prime suspect in the anthrax letters that arrived shortly after 911.

Bio-weapons researcher Dr. Steven Hatfill, sources confirm, remains the FBI's number one suspect in the attacks, even though round-the-clock surveillance and extensive searches have failed to develop more than what even Justice Department prosecutors describe as a "highly circumstantial" case."

"I am not the anthrax killer," said Hatfill, denying the accusations.

I'm leery about the FBI's investigation. The FBI was quick to accuse Richard Jewel of that Atlanta bombing during the 1996 Olympics and they later ate crow. The pressure is on them to find a scapegoat. The fact that intense surveillance hasn't turned up evidence is worrisome.

The FBI needs to have a victory after their other lapses. Arresting Hatfill for something other than evidence linking him to Anthrax would allow them to claim they got their man. That's not a direction I'd like to see the government move in. Constant surveillance should keep Hatfill at bay if he is guilty. Arresting him without evidence may give a free pass to the real culprit.

Hatfill may be guilty, because he had warned about this kind of attack for a long time, and he may have wanted to prove the possibility. But the government shouldn’t be in the business of suppressing their critics under the guise of danger unless they can prove that danger.

Thursday, May 08, 2003

Good Morning. Yesterday was the first day I didn't blog since starting this thing in March. I started to write few, but the cold medicine I was taking was making it hard to make any clear points. Anyway, I thought I would start today by sharing a hilarious Dennis Miller quote from Jay Leno the other night. Miller was talking about how well the war went.
Hey, it couldn't have gone any better, okay. We were killing suicide bombers. You know how fast you're moving when a guy -- the only thing he wants to do in life is kill himself -- and you beat him to it?"

You can read more here.

Tuesday, May 06, 2003

Media Research Center does a good job of comparing the recent Bill Bennett legal gambling revelation with Jesse Jackson's love-child scandal of 2001.

The New York Post's embedded reporter, Jonathan Foreman, writes here for the Weekly Standard about what didn't get reported in Iraq. Or what was reported wrong. It's long but very worthwhile.

Theresa Heinz, wife of Senator John Kerry, and former wife of the late Senator John Heinz won't be your typical first lady. Will Kerry hide her in the background or bring her to the forefront. She use to be married to a Republican so what happens when she gets questioned about her views? She'll either have to disagree with Kerry, disagree with her late husband or act like she'd too daft to understand the contradictions.

Monday, May 05, 2003

The Senate made public today the files from Joe McCarthy's closed-door interviews with over 400 witnesses. The files had been sealed for the last 50 years.

Here's a couple of quotes from the ranking members of that same committee today.
"We hope that the excesses of McCarthyism will serve as a cautionary tale for future generations," Senator (Susan) Collins said.

Senator (Carl) Levin said, "History is a powerful teacher, and these documents offer many lessons on the importance of open government, due process and respect for individual rights." He recalled organizing an anti-McCarthy petition drive as a student at Swarthmore College 50 years ago.

I find the whole thing laughable, because McCarthyism has never left the American political scene. Today those tactics are used to ferret out racists and sexists and other politically incorrect objects of scorn. Modern liberals will say they hate the tactics, but they adopted them. The American Left only hated the fact that communism was coming under fire. McCarthy was a demagogue, but even the KGB files that have been made public prove that communist infiltration wasn't a madman's fantasy. It’s not even a question anymore as to whether Alger Hiss was a communist spy.

Now that their old "witch hunt" argument is flimsy, after all there were real communists and witches are make-believe, the Left can only criticize the tactics of McCarthy. But if they really hated those tactics they might be willing, for instance, to give Bush's judicial nominees and up or down vote instead of insinuating that candidates like Estrada are anti-woman. How is accusing Estrada of being anti-woman any different than the way McCarthy accused someone else of being anti-American? Why not end these whisper campaigns and half accusations and let the Senators go on record with their vote?

If you want to see the thousands and thousands of McCarthy pages in PDF format, click here.

They are starting to whine in California that many students will fail the new state tests that are required to get a high school diploma. Civil Rights organizations are calling it unfair to minorities. But I think a mass failure is just the kind of wake-up call this country needs. If an employer or college is to give any meaning to a high school diploma it must come from at least the minimum of knowledge. Otherwise, it is just an empty symbol of government compassion. If we don’t make students earn their diploma by hard work, then the schools can no longer pretend to be more than daycare centers.

Subway Fares increase 33%. Is New York City using the MTA as a cash cow or are they really running a deficit?

Sunday, May 04, 2003

Information has surfaced that Iraqi officials tried to bribe Scott Ritter. I don't know that he took the money, but it is plainly obvious that there is something other than his change of heart that has made him flip-flop on the Iraq issue. To raise the money to make a film that shows that Iraq posed no danger is a bit much after complaining earlier that you were unfairly thrown out of the country amidst your inspections. What information did Ritter suddenly get that made him change his mind? It doesn’t add up.

Also, it’s human nature to drift toward the background of an issue when you are on the wrong side of it. Is Jimmy Carter out making a film about how Reagan’s position toward the Soviet Union was more effective than his own? No, you’ll find him quiet on that subject.

It's safe to say that the United Nations is a zoo.

Doesn't it border on silly that we are having a Presidential debate 18 months before the election? Especially since most of these guys are Senators and could be proposing their ideas in Congress instead of theorizing for a TV special. Why don't we have the candidates for 2008 declare now too? We could run the debates back to back and let an internet poll decide who won. The winners of each debate could then debate each other later in the summer.

Or even better, why don't we hold a Democratic debate tournament every Saturday night with only two of the candidates per night. Viewers can decide who won, and that candidate will move into the winner’s bracket. Losers move into the loser's bracket where viewers can decide whether they are potential Vice-Presidential candidates (yea) or ambassador material (ho hum). We could spice it up a little by offering challenges, like the baby kissing contest, or speech opening joke contest if the ratings don't take off right away.

Bill Clinton won in 1992 because it looked like Bush 41 couldn't be beat, so none of the top tier Democrats ran that year. That's why so many of the big Democrats aren't taking any chances this time. But the public is going to burn out on them way too soon. If it looks like Bush is vulnerable in January, Hillary Clinton will probably enter the race and become a frontrunner. She’ll have the advantage of being someone new to talk about and being a Clinton will make her more formidable than these guys here.

One thing I am sure about this campaign is that there will be a lot of books written by and about these guys that will have the remainder mark on them before the 2006 election.

Saturday, May 03, 2003

Democratic insiders tell Bob Novak that they have little chance to regain Congress in 2004. Novak thinks that the Democrats have six senate seats that are in real jeopardy, including Tom Daschel’s seat in South Dakota.

This is a slightly right-leaning country and Daschel does himself no good opposing a popular President when he is from a state that elected Bush by a good margin. That explains this recent flip-flop. It’s easy for Ted Kennedy to thwart Bush’s judicial nominees, because he can’t be beat in his own state. Other Senators won’t be so lucky.

The Senate Democrats are slowly moving out of the mainstream in their views on abortion. While the country is split evenly as to whether it should be legal, a clear majority of Americans want to see the kind of restrictions that Democrats oppose. Things like parental notification, 24 hour waiting limits, and a ban on late term abortion are very popular among voters. The Democrats are not only thwarting Bush’s judicial nominees because of abortion, they are thwarting the restrictions that most Americans favor. The last election showed that opposing Bush is hardly a platform on which to win. The current filibusters are pushing them farther into the minority.

If the Democrats co-opted the restriction issues the Republicans favor, they could paint themselves as the party of moderation, and force the Republicans to debate abortion as a whole. By insisting on no abortion restrictions they allow Republicans to be the mainstream voice on the issue. This allows Republicans to show pro-life voters that they are limiting abortions, while not turning off the moderates. The Democrats position is a good one for raising money among virulent feminists and party faithfuls, but it isn’t a recipe for winning back the Senate anytime soon.

Looks like Bill Bennett is being labeled a hypocrite because of his casino gambling experience. I personally see no problem with gambling. I have never really understood why this is a sin among Christians. The best I could ever get was that the Romans were wagering for Christ’s robes at the crucifixion. That doesn't seem definitive to me.

Everyday life is a gamble. We take chances everywhere. Any potential decision could wind up fatal. We gamble by choosing our major in college or by not going to college at all. We gamble when we move and when we change jobs. Some people gamble that they can drink a lot of alcohol and do themselves no damage. Gambling for money in a casino seems to be one of the safest ways to take risk. We may lose money, but we aren’t risking the direction or longevity of our lives.


If money is corrupting politics, then it is corrupting politicians. With full disclosure of campaign contributions, we can let the watchdog groups report if politicos voting patterns change with money or if they are being supported by groups that already agree with them.

I tend to think that power is the corrupting influence in.politics. Take Al Gore, who spent the fist 15 years of his congressional career as a conservative Democrat, even voting for Anton Scalia and Clarence Thomas to be on the Supreme Court. He was pro-military, pro-life, and pro-business and any number of things that were consistent with being a southern Democrat during his time. He never lost an election. His popularity was so strong. He loses his bid to be President in 1988, and slowly transforms into a national Democratic candidate. He writes a book on the environment that is quasi-Marxist. He becomes pro-choice. Bu 2000, he is arguing for more government control of almost every aspect of life. After the election, he starts to support government health-care.

Now amount of money in the world would have gotten Al Gore the Democratic nomination if he was still pro-life. No amount of money would have gotten Gore the nomination if he said that Clarence Thomas was a great Supreme Court Justice. Gore couldn’t sell out for money, because money couldn’t have gotten him what he wanted. He had to sell out his earlier voting record. It could be true that today’s Gore has believed this current philosophy all along, but that would mean he was selling out back then to get elected. He wasn’t selling out for money, the thing everyone worries about. He was trading his beliefs for votes. His convenient change may have been little noted in the press, but it wasn’t lost on his own people in Tennessee who defeated him for the first time, causing him the entire Presidential election.

I’m picking on Al Gore, because he is the most current example. George Bush 41 was pro-choice up until the time he became Ronald Reagan’s Vice-President. And the fact that his wife is still pro-choice leads me to believe that Bush Sr. probably traded that belief to be more in line with his natural allies. It’s about the only thing he traded. His tax hike in 1990 certainly proved that his Voodoo economics speech in 1980 was still his operating philosophy.

Campaign Finance Reform is a Red Herring. The fact that a majority of congressmen would vote for a bill that says that politicians are corruptible, means that many politicians are probably corruptible. But they can be corrupted for things other than money. In fact, most of the things that can corrupt them are protected by the constitution.

It’s our job to decide who is being corrupted by watching their actions. Are they changing their voting record for personal convenience instead of principle, are they in the pockets of the wrong groups or individuals? No laws are going to make these guys behave. They write the laws for crying out loud. The only way we can keep them accountable is by not falling asleep when they act on the public scene. It is our duty to watch and make notes and to make it known when they are straying. Otherwise, we’ll get a series of laws meant to lull us into the sleepy feeling that everything is being taken care of, and democracy is “safe.”