Sunday, August 31, 2003

Why Howard Dean?

There are a lot of theories as to why Governor Dean is leading among Democrats, the most notable being that he is the left-most mainstream candidate and that the party grassroots is to the left of the average Democratic voter. That is fair enough. But consider this. . . Only two sitting United States Senators and no House Members won the Presidency in the 20th Century. Warren Harding and John Kennedy were the only ones who went directly from the Senate to the White House. Since Franklin Delano Roosevelt all Presidents have either been Governors or Vice-Presidents or Generals. So if you look at the Democratic field, Howard Dean is the only one who fits the trend. General Wesley Clark is barely known and hardly distinguished even if he does run. John Kerry, Bob Graham, John Edwards, Richard Gephardt, Joe Lieberman and even Hillary Clinton are facing long odds. Bob Dole getting the nomination in 1996 was a rarity in itself, but he went the way of George McGovern. It's not to say that it cannot be done, but a good gambler bets the trend not the anomaly.

Why Governors?

Governors also get to be the Washington outsider, a favorite play among those trying to distinguish themselves from those Beltway Gridlock bums. Add that to the distinction that governors have already served in an executive capacity, and you have a pretty tough candidate. While Gebhardt and Lieberman drone on endlessly about legislation and policies that they want implemented, Dean can talk about the problems he faced as governor and how he solved them. This is not a small factor in choosing a candidate. Howard Dean was little known this time last year so his message must be working. He's also articulate and seems more serious than the numerous Senators. When Senators complain, we wonder why they aren’t doing more in the Senate to solve these problems. When governors complain we hope that they will finally be the answer to the inept presence in Washington.

The American Presidency was not intended to be the most important of the three branches. The founders felt that the legislative would actually guide policy. But since biblical times, people have demanded a king, an emperor and now a president. They want one guy to look up to. Governors have the advantage of looking Presidential. Who can take John Kerry seriously when he votes to attack Iraq and then complains that Bush attacked Iraq? How can you take Bob Graham seriously when he was ranking member of the Senate Intelligence committee and then attacks Bush for faulty intelligence. Dean has no such contradictions. What he seems to have is conviction, executive experience and the advantage of being outside the mess. I'm thinking Hillary Clinton would even have a tough time beating him, but she has the same advantage that former Vice-Presidents have. She has already been in the White House.

A good gambler would bet that Howard Dean is the man, unless Regent Hillary gets into the race and convinces enough people that she was the real President of the 1990s.

Of course, I don't see how Bush can lose to anyone in 2004. Even with a shaky economy, he won back the Senate in 2002. The media will continue to complain about Iraq and the daily death toll, but next year will be different. Iraq will be more secure and the economy will be even better than today. According to Rush, 20 Years ago Ronald Reagan was a year away from re-election and trailed Walter Mondale in the polls by 5 or 10 points. He only lost one state in the 1984 election. Clinton lost both Houses on Congress in 1994 and trailed Dole in the polls this time in 1995. Clinton won pretty easily in 1996. Bush hasn't trailed in any poll all year. The country has no where to go but up. Bush should win re-election by a comfortable margin.

Saturday, August 30, 2003


If Bill Clinton had never been president, Arnold's Oui Oui interview would have ended his political career. The country gets one shot to demand that our leaders be less than alley cats. When you pass the opportunity the first time, nobody is waiting around to help you pounce the second time. Gloria Allred should save her indignation for that President who is accused of raping someone. Allred may also want to ask Senator Hillary why she enables her husband to brutalize women. Short of that, Arnold married a Kennedy and seemed to fit right into the womanizing quota.

These stories could still cost Arnold the race, but they also get at the heart of why it wasn't just about sex when Clinton was President. Unlike Clinton who lied to a Grand Jury, Arnold doesn't seem to deny anything. He's asking that we accept his behavior as a part of who he is. This approach probably would have saved Bill a lot of legal fees. But it also would have ended Hillary's political career. If someone's definition to prominence is being someone else's spouse, then an open marriage makes the "equal partner" argument hollow. The Clintons tried to play it both ways. Bill behaved however he wanted and Hillary played the wronged wife. I never bought it. If Hillary really felt wronged then the marriage would have ended long ago. No amount of power or potential power is worth deceit from the person you love. Only when it isn't deceitful or you don't love them can you stay.

They were deceiving us not each other. Hillary knew what Bill was doing, but she decided to stay and enjoy the power. Lie to the press. Threaten the women. Be the wronged wife when things are proven in a court of law. It was all an act. Will Arnold and Maria play this thing straight? It might make all the difference.

Friday, August 29, 2003

Yesterday I read an email originating from a PlanetEarthGirl attacking Bush, but creatively written as his resume. It was well done in its construction, but mind boggling in its conclusions. Here are some excerpts:
-I attacked and occupied two countries. I am the first president in US history to order a military occupation of a sovereign nation against the will of the United Nations and the world community.

- I withdrew from or abrogated more international treaties than any president in US History.

- I refuse to recognize the jurisdiction of the World Court.

-I refuse to allow international or Red Cross access to US prisoners of war, I no loner abide by the Geneva Conventions

-I refused the United Nations election inspectors access during the 2002 US elections.

- I am the first President in US history to have the United Nations remove the US from its Human Rights Commission.

What's interesting is how the Left looks up to world organizations. One criticism is about attacking a sovereign nation, but the gist of the email is that we should yield our own sovereignty to some world authority. There are a lot of Americans that are uncomfortable being Americans. They need some validation from the world. It isn't enough that we've defeated the horrors of Bolshevikism and Nazism in the 20th Century when no one else would or could. What have we done for the world lately? Are these Howard Dean voters are just Naderites and other hippies?

The rest of the email is the standard stuff about how dumb Bush is and how he spends too much time at his ranch. Personal attacks are fair game. After all, Bush is President. The email criticizes him for fundraising and his National Guard service. If Clinton supporters want to cast that in a bad light, so be it.

But if liberals are really suggesting we yield our Constitution to some world authority that is nothing short of sedition. They’re lucky that Bush is President. If Abraham Lincoln were President, people like this would be in jail without benefit of the writ of habeas corpus.

Wednesday, August 27, 2003

Walter Williams says that American corporations hire overseas labor for reasons that go deeper than just lower wages.
Out of total direct U.S. overseas investment of $796 billion, nearly $400 billion was made in Europe . . . Foreign employment by U.S. corporations exhibited a similar pattern, with most workers hired in high-wage countries such as England, Germany and the Netherlands. Far fewer workers were hired in low-wage countries such as Thailand, Colombia and Philippines, the exception being Mexico.

Why are businesses hiring people overseas?
less predatory government and the absence of tort-lawyer extortion. While foreign governments can't be held guiltless of predation, their forms of predation might be cheaper to deal with than those of our EEOC, OSHA, EPA and IRS.

American workers are just about the most productive in the world -- however, our government and legal establishment have reduced that productive advantage.

We treat the legal system like lottery tickets. A recent book The Rule of Lawyers by Walter Olson examines this trend. Olson says that it all began with the Asbestos suits in the 1970s. That laid the groundwork for tobacco suits and every other personal behavior problem that some corporation should take blame for. What people forget is that these lawsuits hurt everybody. They result in higher prices and lost wages and even lost jobs.

When I was a just out of college working at the TV station a well-meaning liberal asked me if I would be interested in getting together a group of young people to help him win in his upcoming State Represetative Race. He was a nice man and even a business owner so I couldn't understand why he wanted to represent a party whose purpose is to grow the size of government at the expense of the private sector. He told me that it was simple, “Everybody owns the government. You, me and that guy over there, we're all the government. The government is us.” I laughed and said that the government doesn't even know who I am unless I am late on my taxes.

Had I knew then what I know now I would have offered to sell him my portion of the government. If I own it, Mike, and you like it so much, why don't you buy it from me? I'll sell you my portion real cheap. That is the essence of ownership. If you can't sell it, you don't really own it.

That is what confuses me about how people hate corporations. The structure might not make them the easiest place to work, but we all have the freedom to leave. They don't levy any taxes on us. We can actually own them by buying shares and selling them at our whim. They create products that we cannot live without. In fact, when the government takes our money to give to someone else, what do they do with the money? They spend it with a business.

Faults and all, businesses provide things that we can choose to buy or turn our nose at. They have to please us. The government only comes calling when they want money. If we go to them for a service it's never a pleasure. When we sue companies willy nilly and put them out of business it's no different than those idiots who burn down their own neighborhoods during a riot.

Why do we worship and trust the government and fret over the occasional Enron?

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

Do we have the guts to fight North Korea?

Some wars are inevitable. Do you fight them when you are strong or wait until your foes gets stronger. We know what happened in Europe during the 1930s. We also know that our war in Iraq was to prevent another Europe. Do Americans have the will to fight North Korea before it gets too big to beat easily? A lot of people have put their hopes on the peace talks, but can they do the job?
North Korea is entirely unlikely to be talked out of its nuclear weapons program. This happens to be one of those sorry international disputes in which the most desirable outcome is also the least likely. Indeed, the practical obstacles to securing an irreversible and verifiable end to Pyongyang's nuclear program through diplomatic negotiations alone are not just formidable, they are overwhelming.

The article sites all of the previous negotiations, the North Koreans duplicity and the punishment that was never doled out. North Korea will not stand down. We can continue to give them things, but they won’t stop doing what they want to do, namely build a nuclear arsenal. We’d be good to blow it to hell forthwith, but I got a feeling that we’re tired of war and the President will be loath to fight another one.

Monday, August 25, 2003

I got a jury summons back in July asking for my presence today at the courthouse. A capital case I figured due to the fact that selected jurors would be needed for 2 weeks. While so many people dread jury duty, I have always looked forward to it. The first time I got the card in the mail they didn't need me. The second time I moved from the county before the trial. The message last night said that this particular judge wasn't hearing any cases this week and sorry for any inconvenience.

I'd personally like a better explanation than that. I particularly hate "sorry for the inconvenience" as if they care one lick whether or not I'm inconvenienced. It's the same insincere corporate apology that can be heard seven times a day if you stand in the right place. Why don't they quit making things inconvenient?

Thursday, August 21, 2003

Being from Pensacola I find an interest in the Paul Hill execution that is coming up. If you don’t remember, Paul Hill killed an abortion doctor in 1994 and is defiant that his actions were just. Hill’s position and actions on abortion mirror those of John Brown who attempted to abolish slavery by force. Hill's crime ten years ago hasn't inspired one single copycat. But there are some people who worry that his executuion will.
"By helping Paul Hill to martyr himself, you will give Hill and his followers a platform to encourage others to copy the crime... The martyrdom of Paul Hill will be a prime example of how the death penalty can actually encourage more murder and violence," wrote FADP Director Abe Bonowitz

I hate the abortion issue personally. It distracts national politics away from other issues that have more importance. Personally, I have always been torn. As a libertarian I hate to see the government in people's lives. On the other hand, abortion itself is an ugly thing. The choice argument has always seemed inconsistent with other portions of life. The government won't let a woman use her body to take drugs or prostitute herself, but they will let her kill her fetus. I'm willing to trade the legalization of abortion for other personal freedoms, but the people who argue for abortion are almost always on the other side of personal liberty.

If a woman cannot be forced to do something with her body such as bear a child, can a man be forced to doing something with his body, like fight in a war? How can the government draft a person into the military where he may have to risk his life, if the government doesn't have the right to force a woman to give birth to tomorrow's soldiers? Does a woman and only a woman have a special right to protect her body? Should one sex have more personal liberty than the other sex? These are ethical questions not a legal ones. I'd be interested in hearing your varying opinions.

Wednesday, August 20, 2003

More evidence that the U.N. is a complete playback of Munich and all the failed policies of the 1930s. They are pulling out of Baghdad because of yesterday's attack. The U.N. has decided that it can be bullied. "Don't hurt us! We will do whatever you want!" Did America evacuate New York after 911?
The UN said today that it was removing all foreign employees from Baghdad to Jordan. Five planes are expected at Baghdad airport to fly staff out of the country.

The evacuation will be seen as a major setback for the peace process in Iraq.

While the British and American troops are seen by Iraqis as an occupying force, the UN officials are perceived by many Iraqis to be engaged in helping the country move towards a new era of self-government.

If the Iraqis are looking to the U.N. for help they need to recall all the times the U.N. refused to take care of Hussein. This retreat is another example of how the U.N. has become a good career for third world nobodies and not much help to anyone else.
Here's the an interesting interpretation of the U.N. bombing in Baghdad yesterday.
With their comrades killed, wounded or captured, their leaders apprehended (another one yesterday), their bases of support whittled away and U.S. resolve only hardened, our enemies have turned to a new, desperate strategy.

Our enemies' initial "Mogadishu Strategy" - based on the faulty notion that if you kill Americans they pack up and go home - was a disaster for them. Our response devastated their already-crippled organization. Now, with reduced capabilities and decayed leadership, they've turned to attacking soft targets. It's the best they can do.

It's ugly. But it's an indicator of their weakness, not of strength.

Why the U.N.?
The attack on the U.N. headquarters also was an effort to undercut reconstruction efforts. Our enemies hope that, by attacking aid workers, they can prevent other international agencies from coming to Iraq, that they can drive a wedge between the coalition and the Johnny-come-latelies nudging their way into reconstruction programs.

The truck bomb didn't simply attack the U.N. - it struck at the U.N.'s idea of itself. The lesson the U.N. must take away is that no one can be neutral in the struggle with evil.

We've taken the War Against Terror to our enemies. It's far better to draw the terrorists out of their holes in the Middle East, where we don't have to read them their rights, than to wait for them to show up in Manhattan again.

In Iraq, we can just kill the bastards. And we're doing it with gusto.

So many people are ready to label the liberation as a defeat. At the rate we're going, it would take 100 years to have as many casualties as we suffered in Vietnam. And yet the media research center reports this.
On Tuesday night's Countdown with Keith Olbermann on MSNBC, MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth noticed, Olbermann plugged an upcoming segment: "Ahead of us here tonight, critics of the war said it would turn into a quagmire like Vietnam. Did today's events start to make them right?"

It would be nice if News commentators had some knowledge of real history. Instead they take the lazy approach of using buzzwords and scary analogies.
If there were enough rightwing critics in the world then every leftwing politician could have a free out for their own policies and behavior. Enter Gray Davis who is sounding the Bill Clinton alarm.
"The Republicans behind the recall say they want you to vote me out because of past mistakes. But they don't give a rip about past mistakes -- they want power for the future, and with so many candidates, they think they can get it with the support of a tiny fraction of California voters."

It was progressives like Davis that made it possible to oust a sitting politician in California. It was all about the people. Recall is an iffy proposition in general, but it’s the least of the problems befalling California. Bustamante is ready for more of the same.
California's Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante, the leading Democrat seeking to replace Gov. Gray Davis, proposed on Tuesday raising taxes by $8 billion to help the state's ailing finances -- while Davis readied a major defense of himself and his administration.

Arnold's choice of Warren Buffett the tax champion isn't much better. Raising taxes is just begging more productive Californians to leave the state. It also ensures that consumer spending will decline. The pirate ship is sinking and instead of plugging the hole, the captains are more interested in getting the treasure.

It would seem that a California politician cannot get elected saying, "We won't provide you a living." Years of social spending programs have convinced people that they deserve even more. Any state can survive in a strong economy, but in a sluggish economy, the irresponsible states are the first to fall apart. Gray Davis has a government solution to every hangnail. Davis is like the spoiled girl who wants diamonds because she “deserves” them. Any interruption in his power or spending is just evidence of an evil plot by conservatives.

I’m less convinced that the viable alternatives won’t make the same mistakes.

Tuesday, August 19, 2003


Why isn't the media talking about the Democrats filibuster of the Presidents judicial nominees? If the media weren't lazy or partisan it would be telling us that a judge's job is to follow the law. It should be asking senate Democrats to come up with evidence that these judges haven't been following the law in their other appointments. Short of that, the Democrats have no standing to oppose them.

The Democrats want judges to make law. Now this seems paradoxical, because making law should be in the realm of Senate Democrats. But Senate Democrats cannot pass the laws they really want, because people aren't as liberal as the Senators. Therefore, if they can force enough un-elected progressives on the court they can achieve the things they really want while bypassing the people who elected them. If "conservatives" get on the court they will actually have to live with the laws they can win with a vote.

The Republicans who opposed Clinton’s nominees were able to say that they weren’t living up to the law. That is the standard that worked in this country until Earl Warren and company decided to launch a coup on the nations laws.

Courts can have the ability to right a great many wrongs. The Warren court speeded up de-segregation. But tyrants and dictators always gain power with popular measures that re-assure the masses. These judges that choose to dictate public policy rather than let the appropriate branches of government do their jobs are becoming more worrisome. The Democrats who think they are winning the war in the courts are really weakening their own power and the entire system. Someday there won’t be any constructionists on the court. The rightwing judges will be just as meddlesome as the leftwing ones. Then the Senate Democrats will lose their power on both ends.

Ward Connerly has been going around the country trying to make real Dr. King's idea of a colorblind society. Who are his biggest opponents? Supporters of the late Dr. King. Connerly's latest proposal on the California ballot is a measure that outlaws the collection of race data altogether. What is more colorblind than that? Institutions cannot judge a person by their race if you don't make him/her identify their race. It's the first step to thinking of people as people.

Now if people were people, what would Jesse Jackson do for a living? Here is his argument.
California businessman Ward Connerly's Proposition 54 is bad medicine for the people of California. It would place a ''gag order'' on the collection of data and information needed to analyze social problems, design public policy and identify positive solutions.

Jackson isn’t dumb to the idea that this sort of collection began in the old south as a way to keep black people in their place. The whole theory that a single drop of Negro blood makes someone black originated with people that Jackson says he opposes. What do you think those good old boys were doing if they weren’t “designing public policy” as Jackson puts it? Jackson just supports using the same racist tactics to meet his own ends.
Proposition 54 argues not for privacy, but for ignorance. It is nothing less than a recall of the historic commitment to civil rights, equal access and equal protection under the law. And Connerly has already threatened to put it on the ballot in states across the country.

Another Jackson non-sequitor. How can equal access and equal protection flourish in a society that is designing public policy around race? Jackson is nothing less than a modern day version of all which he says he opposes. He’s got the perfect setup. He decries the sins of 50 years ago and asks that the remedy be the tactics of the old sinners. Enough hue and cry and he can continue on like this until his dying day.

Jesse Jackson is to blacks what Yassar Arafat is to Palestinians. Their followers love them despite their selfish motives. Neither wants to see a solution to the problems before them, because that would negate their own personal power. Just like Arafat wouldn’t sign the peace accord in the waning days of the Clinton administration, Jackson won’t cede that there will ever be a time in which blacks shouldn’t get preferential treatment.

Sunday, August 17, 2003

A hairstyle has endorsed a Kentucky Governor candidate.

It seems that Republicans are happy to have the Mullet-vote as long as the curtain is drawn and they don't have to see you. The will never turn down a donation but worry little about you showing up at $500 a plate fund raisers.

On the contrary, Democrats see diverse people as a vital part of the fabric that makes our country so great. As the party of the real Family Values, it is only Democrats that value the place of workers and citizens in our communities.

I wonder how Dr. King felt about mullet discrimination.
Discovery of Civil War-Era Shipwreck Off Georgia Coast Could Yield Up to $180 Million in Coins
Explorers believe they have found the sunken remains of an 1860s steamer that could yield the richest cargo ever recovered from a shipwreck: thousands of gold coins worth as much as $180 million.

The S.S. Republic was carrying 59 passengers and 20,000 $20 gold coins from New York to New Orleans when it sank in a hurricane off Savannah, Ga., on Oct. 25, 1865, according to newspaper accounts and other historical records.

Odyssey, a publicly traded company founded in the mid-1990s, has a number of shipwreck search projects in various stages. Stemm and Morris have performed only one other deep-water excavation, that of a Spanish wreck in the Dry Tortugas that yielded about $5 million in gold and thousands of artifacts.

There is just something about treasure that captures the imagination.
Decade of Rad: The 10 Eightiest Movies

I forgot some of these movies existed. Here's a sample of the wry commentary.

10. Over the Top, 1987

“Hawk” showed that arm wrestling is in the heart, not the actual arm. The ‘80s were notorious for this type of nonsensical motivation, where the human spirit could keep your arm from being torn off by Mad Dog Madison. But in fairness to the decade, it was considered unusual for child custody cases to be decided by arm wrestling truck drivers.

6. Gymkata, 1985

the US government decides to send in a gymnast to whom they’ve taught karate for a couple weekends. This ends up being a great decision since all of his opponents come at him in perfectly symmetrical paired formations that can only be stopped with graceful flying splits.

5. Disorderlies, 1987

The only way Winslow Lowry can pay off his gambling debts is to receive the inheritance from his father. And since just murdering him wouldn’t ensue any humorous mayhem, he hires the Fat Boys as orderlies, counting on their bumbling incompetence to kill his dad.

2. Moonwalker, 1988

Moonwalker is a mix of music videos like “Leave Me Alone,” which demands you to not pay attention to him during his own movie, and “Man in the Mirror,” which demands you to cure world hunger. This comes off as a little hypocritical, since if you added up all the hush money that Michael’s paid to the parents of allegedly fondled children, he could have replaced Ethiopia with a 1,200-mile wide bowl of pudding.

Friday, August 15, 2003


The first thought was terrorism, especially since we have arrested suspects who were planning to take down power grids. Happy that it wasn't sabotage, but the fact that it happened outside the country and affected so many things means the terror makers have spotted a weakness. We'll have to put a lot of effort forward to protect these places while finding a way to make them less dependent on one another.

The situation also reminds you of how many things that have to go right to make Manhattan function, and yet it functions everyday. My first thoughts were to Cathy and Rob who had to get back to Hoboken from New York. The Ariel shots of the ferry landing reminded one of ants swarming the picnic. Cathy said on September 11th she walked to 33rd street to catch the ferry, but the line extended 20 blocks north. Yesterday didn't look any better. Seeing Time Square without lights and video probably gave me the best feel for what was going on. It would have seemed much more distant without that picture.

In the Midwest, Steve and Kristen are supposed to be in Detroit tonight to see KISS, but with their airport not even servicing passengers, I bet there is a good chance it won't come off either. Businesses in Detroit are telling people to stay home according to NPR. Luckily he is driving.

This is just the sort of the thing everyone was expecting from the Millennium bug. Companies spent millions of dollars and there wasn't even a report of traffic light going fritz. It gives a lot of credence to the philosophy that most worry is imagined and needless. The real catastrophes and dangers come swift and by surprise. We spend our time locking the barn after the horse gets out. Terrorists blow up the twin towers and our response is to strip search old Irish ladies getting on planes.

I don't know what Amtrak is doing here, but there was absolutely no security on any Eurail Train when we were over there. You walk into the station with all of your bags and enter any train of your choosing. Some terrorist will no doubt take advantage of this and try something. The reaction will be a crackdown too far the other way. It would make sense if they implemented reasonable security measures now, but the world has few leaders who lead. Most politicians are just managers that react.

Thursday, August 14, 2003

Coulter on California:

Democrats governed their petri dish as they always govern. They buy the votes of government workers with taxpayer-funded jobs, salaries and benefits -- and then turn around and accuse the productive class of "greed" for wanting their taxes cut. This has worked so well nationally that more people in America now work for the government than work in any sort of manufacturing job.

Most touchingly, Democrats claim to be shocked at the exorbitant cost of a recall election. They were not such penny-pinchers when contemplating Enron-style pensions for school crossing guards. Nor did their fiscal conservatism kick in when Davis announced this week that he would sign legislation providing "intolerance and hatred control training" for all California schoolteachers. Yeah, this is the guy who wants another crack at straightening out the budget.

1) When a Republican presides over a strong economy it is called greed.
2) When a Democrat presides over strong economy it is called leadership.
3) When a Republican presides over a weak economy it is called incompetence.
4) When a Democrat presides over a weak economy it is called perplexing.
The eloquent Thomas Sowell takes on Anthony Kennedy and his recent remarks about mandatory sentencing laws. Kennedy won applause saying:
"Every day in prison is much longer than any day you've ever spent," Justice Kennedy said. "A country which is secure in its institutions and confident in its laws should not be ashamed of the concept of mercy."

To which Sowell rejoins:

Two centuries ago, Adam Smith had something to say about mercy as well: "Mercy to the guilty is cruelty to the innocent."

Innocent victims of crime seem to disappear from the lofty vision and ringing rhetoric of those who worry that the punishment of criminals is "too severe," as Justice Kennedy put it. If a day in prison can be pretty long, so can every day living in a high-crime neighborhood, where you have to wonder what is going to happen to your son or daughter on the way to or from school.

The whole piece is brilliant as always, but I have to share the conclusion.
"Our sentences are too long," Justice Kennedy also told the ABA. Compared to what? Compared to sentences in Europe? Justice Kennedy has apparently become a citizen of the world, even citing foreign legal precedents in a recent Supreme Court opinion.

Our laws were not made to deal with conditions in Europe. Our judges are sworn to uphold the Constitution of the United States — not the European Union. If Justice Kennedy finds all this too parochial and confining, he is free to resign from the Supreme Court of the United States and go join the International Court of Justice at The Hague.

Justice Anthony Kennedy is a classic example of someone appointed to the Supreme Court by a conservative Republican, who arrives bearing the "conservative" label, but who then goes native in Washington — or, as the liberals say, "grows."

We can only hope the Bush administration does not succumb to the Senate Democrats' filibuster threat by appointing more Anthony Kennedys to the federal courts. These appointments last a lifetime — which is too long a sentence for crime victims.
Here's a couple of fun answers from a recent Tom Clancy interview:
NEWSWEEK: With the homeland security alert bouncing from yellow to orange and back again, has the government done clumsy job of keeping the public calm and informed?
CLANCY: Yeah, I think that’s pretty stupid. And the trouble with you guys in the media is that someone does something stupid and you [attack] him. Why don’t you just say, “this is stupid” and just go on? Or better yet, don’t even talk about it. One of the problems I have with the news media is that you’d rather have a bad story than a good one. What you should ask is, “How do you fix it,” not, “Who got it wrong.” The first thing that people asked when the planes crashed into the twin towers was, “whose fault is this.” Well, it’s the fault of the idiots flying the airplanes for starters. But you can’t blame the intelligence community for not doing its job properly if you don’t give it proper support, and when was the last time the media supported the CIA?

A good point. The media does seem more interested in exacting blood than finding solutions to problems.

NEWSWEEK: You’ve said that you’re proud to be American. Do you ever worry about patriotism or national pride being mistaken abroad for hubris?
CLANCY: [Laughs] The people with the most hubris in America work at the New York Times and the Washington Post. The New York Times really thinks their pages are holy. They’re a newspaper—it’s not holy; they make mistakes. We all make mistakes. But hubris? That’s a Greek word from a long time ago. That’s really a disease of kings and princes.

He said it.
Here are some short thoughts on the California situation.

1) Rush said last week that Gray Davis will step down before the actual recall which will nullify the vote and Bustamante will become governor by default. A similar strategy was used in New Jersey to replace Robert Toricelli when the polls showed he couldn't win.

2) The strategy of trying to stop the recall alone was de-railed when Bustamante put himself on the ballot. Will Davis be too angry to resign and hand it to Bustamante?

3) Now Rush thinks that the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals will step in and end the recall.

4) Tricia was in San Diego last week and said no one even seemed interested in talking the issue. Are people tired of it already or just embarrassed?

5) Bob Novak says that Arnold decided to run when he felt that Riordin was confused and disorganized.

The real winner in California seems to be George Bush who no longer spends everyday answering fool questions about WMD.

Wednesday, August 13, 2003

If it is true that Congress wants to restrict the use of Special Ops, then our leaders are throwing us to the wolves.
Congress is set to impose new restrictions on the use of Special Operations Forces that for the first time will require a presidential order before deploying commandos in routine but hidden activities.

The new rules, if contained in the final version of the bill, would add a burden to the military's deployment of Special Operations Forces by requiring the Pentagon to first obtain a presidential "finding," or directive, similar to those required for covert-action intelligence operations.

Findings are declarations that the president "finds" a secret activity is in national interest.

After signing that humongous and scary Patriot Act that allows the government to pry into our lives, Congress is suddenly worried about what our forces do to defeat the enemy. It’s the typical Washington upside down thinking. We should be passing laws that allow Special Forces all sorts of leeway in doing their job overseas while restricting what the government can do to American citizens.
That Horse's Ass Castro turned 77 yesterday.
Rumors about his health, a taboo subject, swirl regularly.

Rather than avoid the subject, Castro faces it head-on. He insists the Revolution will live on without him. And a few months back he stressed that "my destiny was not to come into the world to rest at the end of my life."

"You have to have passions and dreams," he (Castro) said recently, but "life has inexorable laws." He promised to stay on as president "until nature itself decides, not a minute less and not a second longer."

That could sum up the sad state of the entire country. Those with passions and dreams are usually imprisoned while he lives off the fat of the land.
But this ideal society concept does not mesh with a complicated and crumbling reality. After 40 years of communism, more than 11 million Cubans do not have their basic needs met.

Housing shortages hit crisis levels years ago. Insufficient subsidized food supplies, combined with low salaries that make purchasing nonsubsidized food prohibitive for most, are dawn-to-dusk frustrations for millions.

Limits on personal freedoms also take their toll, and these are just the beginning of problems facing Cuba's revolution.

The economy is limping, as a tough US economic embargo, combined with a rigid communist bureaucracy here, less tourism and sliding international prices for top export sectors sugar and nickel, have slammed the brakes on growth.

Somehow I don't think Castro's lifestyle has changed any.

Tuesday, August 12, 2003

I was surprised to see the American Bar Association voted to relax attorney/client privilege.
In a 218 to 201 vote, the ABA's policy-making body amended its ethics code to allow, but not require, lawyers to breach attorney-client privilege if they believe doing so would stop a client from committing a financial crime or fraud.

It appears that the ABA is saying that financial crimes must be stopped, but if you have information that your client has the potential to kill someone, you'd better keep your mouth shut still.
It's a shame the Dude and Kristi decided against running for Governor, because they would have easily won on the game show.
The Game Show Network has found a reason to get into politics: the California recall, which will be spoofed in an October special.

The channel said it is lining up five candidates to take part in the Oct. 1 program. The show will chronicle their campaigns and include a "wide-ranging" debate, including buzz-in answers and bonus questions, the channel said.

Monday, August 11, 2003

The Arnold campaign has also unleashed another media issue. A media issue is something that the regular person could care less about, but that the media hammers away at until change comes. Recent examples include August National Golf Club. Another famous entry is Campaign Finance Reform. For some reason, the media continues to recoil at the thought of proposition 187.

In 1994, Californians, including Governor Pete Wilson and even Arnold voted overwhelmingly for Proposition 187.
The GOP-backed Proposition 187 to deny health care and public education to illegal immigrants was passed by a wide margin, although it was eventually ruled unconstitutional. It remains a contentious issue and a litmus test for some voters, particularly Hispanics, to gauge whether a candidate is immigrant-friendly.

Does it remain a contentious issue? I remember the exit polling showed that a majority of legal immingrants favored the proposal. The only people who seemed to be against this were the ones who cannot legally vote.
Speaking on ABC's "This Week," Art Torres, chairman of the California Democratic Party, slammed Schwarzenegger for his decision to appoint former Gov. Pete Wilson, the architect of Proposition 187, as chairman of his new campaign.

"There's a famous phrase in our community, and that is, judge a person by the friends that he keeps," Torres said. "And unfortunately, his new chairman, Governor Wilson, supported 187 furiously against immigrants and Latinos."

One can only gather that the Democrats are trying to garner the illegal alien vote. Is that the key to winning elections in California?
UPDATE: I was sort of wrong about immigrants favoring this as it turned out. Legal Spanish speaking immigrants voted against this measure. However, Asian immigrants, blacks and non-Hispanic whites voted in favor of it. I guess the big deal is that 600,000 Californians have fled to other states since this vote and over a million new Spanish-speaking immigrants took their place. In other words, the vote would probably have more trouble getting through.
The Kennedy's are full of praise, but don't expect any help, Arnold.
Schwarzenegger's wife, Maria Shriver, has proclaimed her support for his candidacy and is considered a powerful asset.

But other members of America's Democratic dynasty have toed the line drawn by patriarch Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.), who showered praise on the Republican action star last week but vowed to oppose his political premiere.

Although Schwarzenegger has crossed the political line to raise money - and even campaign - for Ted Kennedy, the Kennedys would never consider returning the favor, the family source said.

That rebellious Maria went and married a self-made man when she could have chosen any number of trust fund babies.

Friday, August 08, 2003

The only thing keeping Gore from being the most appealing Democrat is that he is the most condescending. This was easy to forget as he spent months with a zipped lip. I saw some of the speech yesterday and every sentence seemed to be delivered as a father to his small children. He talks slow and he draws things out and the whole delivery gives the feeling of superiority. No wonder nobody bought the book last year. Who wants to read 400 pages of this? When you stack him up against the other candidates, he seems effeminate.

Gore needs to listen to Howard Dean. Dean may have two left feet, but he talks to you instead of at you. Dean is also the only one who makes his anti-war views seem genuine. Everybody else sounds like they are reacting to the polls.

Gore was part of an administration that said many of the things Bush did. Gore missed a golden opportunity to be the Lieberman of the campaign who helped Bush make the case for war while differentiating on other policies. Nixon wasn’t running around in 1963 giving speeches denouncing Kennedy and his Cuba policy. As it stands, it seems more and more like Gore was being a good little soldier while he disagreed with Clinton more than he let on at the time.

"Too many of our soldiers are paying the highest price for the strategic miscalculations, serious misjudgments and historic mistakes that have put them and our nation in harm's way," said Mr. Gore, whose critique of the administration resembled that of the Democratic contenders for president.

"Listening to him speak, you'd almost think that he wasn't vice president when terrorists attacked the USS Cole, when they attacked U.S. military barracks overseas, when they attacked the World Trade Center the first time [in 1993]. These were not 'mistaken impressions,'" Miss (Christine) Iverson (spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee) said.

Gore wants to capture the spirit of the 60s war protesters, but regardless of the media’s romanticism of that era, the average voter doesn’t respond well to hearing his country blasted from “leaders.”

Thursday, August 07, 2003

The Texas re-districting plan is a great little drama being played out.

They have missed important family birthdays, time with new babies and the hospitalization of parents, but Democratic state senators who fled to New Mexico to boycott congressional redistricting say they are resolved in their protest.

Sen. Rodney Ellis has a newborn daughter at his Houston home. Sen. Eddie Lucio of Brownsville said his mother was hospitalized for pneumonia and his father was diagnosed as having stones in his gallbladder.

Sen. Mario Gallegos of Houston has a new grandson and several senators have missed family birthdays. Sen. Royce West's son turned 19 while West was in Albuquerque, and Ellis' grandfather celebrated his 82nd birthday on Tuesday.

When this happened last time, I didn't know that Democrats had 17 congressmen to the Republicans 15. This is the essence of the way districts are drawn. Texas has two Republican Senators and a Republican Governor. The outlay of congressmen is totally in the way the districts are being drawn. The Republicans control the state Senate 19-12, meaning that the lines could easily be redrawn to match the State Senate lines and the Dems would be in trouble. How long will they or can they hold out?
Cuomo wants to see Gore get back in.
"I would like to see him get in," said Cuomo in an interview with WROW-AM radio in Albany, New York.

"Right now, the Democratic voice is not a single voice. It is not a chorus. It is a babble," said the former New York governor. Webster's Dictionary defines "babble," as "to make incoherent sounds, as a baby does, prattle."

Cuomo wouldn't say something like this if he thought Gore wasn't already considering it. In fact, what Gore needs is prominent Democrats to call for him to run. The fact that Cuomo doesn't like the Clinton's and knows Hillary is thinking similar things is a great motivator. This is beginning to look less and less spontaneous and more and more orchestrated. Watch his polling numbers a few days after the big speech when he gets a lot of press.
Woody and Mia created a prodigy.
Satchel, known as Seamus, is 14 and about to start his senior year at Bard College. You read that right: college. Seamus is a genius, no kidding, and has fit in well with the students.

It goes on to say that he hasn't seen or asked to see Woody in 10 years. Also, his brother is becoming a marriage counselor.
Khomeini's grandson praises the United States for its freedom.
"America" says Ayatollah Seyed Hussein Khomeini, "is the symbol of freedom."

Seated in the sprawling living room of his temporary Baghdad home, where he lives under armed guard, Khomeini says, "The best example of freedom in our life now is America, especially its Constitution."

Is he a natural born politician ready to return to Iran as soon as the freedom fighters win? Or is he an earnest citizen wanting the best for his country?

Wednesday, August 06, 2003

Never was there an election that begged for the opportunity to vote for NONE OF THE ABOVE than the 2002 California Governor’s race. Only Bill Simon’s ineptitude allowed a very unpopular Davis to survive. Now with the recall, anyone could wind up being the Governor of California. John Fund says that Arnold may surprise people tonight on Jay Leno.
Almost everyone expects Arnold Schwarzenegger to use his appearance tonight on "The Tonight Show" to explain why he isn't seeking the governorship and then to tout the candidacy of former Los Angeles mayor Richard Riordan. But what if Arnold makes a last-minute decision to join the race? Those who know his Hollywood negotiating tactics tell journalists he often keeps producers on hold until the last minute and then jumps in with a "total commitment." The Western Political Report concluded yesterday that "Schwarzenegger is not out of the running and Riordan is not a sure thing to jump in." His campaign aides say they honestly don't know what he will do. Apparently, the 73-year-old Riordan would strongly prefer his close friend Mr. Schwarzenegger to run instead.

California is a great example of what happens when you live by the welfare state. The rest of the country should take heed what happens when you raise taxes and expand government services (especially to non-citizens). Even the left-wingers in that state that elect Democrats to a large plurality are tired of paying for their “compassion.” I honestly don’t think a Republican can turn that state around very quickly. The real problem is spending and high taxes which the Democratic state legislatures aren’t going to be helpful with. Just like Clinton left Bush a bad economy and he now blames Bush, it won’t be long until Davis and the State Democrats are blaming Riordin or Arnold for the sluggish economy. The Republicans may be biting off more than they can chew here.

UPDATE: Drudge was mislead, but Fund was right.

Tuesday, August 05, 2003

On this Mel Gibson question, I can only think that the press is uncomfortable with an authentic movie based on the life of Christ. Gibson’s movie won’t let viewers forget the sacrifice. I have to think that this makes a lot of the right people uncomfortable. Frank Rich is dying to see the film so that he can blast it.
If "The Passion" is kosher, couldn't Mr. Gibson give Jews the same access to a Washington media screening, so they could see for themselves? Such inhospitality is not terribly Christian of him. One Jewish leader whose requests to see the film have been turned away is Abraham H. Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League. "If you tell everyone they won't see it until it's ready, O.K.," Mr. Foxman said in a phone interview from Jerusalem. "But what Gibson's done is preselect those who'll be his supporters. If the movie is a statement of love, as he says it is, why not show it to you or me?"

It’s obvious that Gibson hand-picked the viewers so that a good word-of-mouth would spread before the vultures got a hold of it. We have a word called anti-Semitism that describes anti-Jewish feelings. Why isn’t there a stinging word for when people are anti-Christian?
There are two different kinds of politicians. Some have ideas that they want to implement. Others want power for its own sake. How can you differentiate? Those who want power for its own sake will generally oppose any position their opponent takes.

Bob Dole’s train wreck campaign in 1996 was full of this. While not a true conservative, Dole took outrageous positions on things like Hollywood movies. It seemed so hollow but it was a direct opposition to Clinton who was being funded by those same people.

I can only think the Democrats are headed down the same road with Howard Dean or whoever else. Joe Lieberman is trying to stake out a moderate position, but it’s falling on deaf ears.
Determined to persuade Democrats that he is the only candidate capable of defeating President Bush (news - web sites), the Connecticut senator said the party must focus on strengthening America's security and economy and will, in turn, win over moderate voters.
"Some Democrats, on the contrary, still prefer the old, big government solutions to our problems," Lieberman said in a speech to the National Press Club. "But, my friends, with record deficits, a stalled economy and Social Security (news - web sites) in danger, we can't afford that."

Now we have Gore returning (though reportedly not running) to give a speech to the anti-war crowd.
Amid talk he's being urged to jump back into the presidential race, Al Gore has arranged to speak out on Iraq to a large anti-war group at New York University on Thursday.

I think he is dying to get back into the race. His book sales were so ugly last Christmas he knew he would have trouble getting out of the primaries. Now that the candidates all seem the same, he can offer the voters something different, experience. I bet he gives a few speeches the next couple of months and then checks the Zogby poll numbers to see if he is getting any traction. If his numbers don’t improve, he never considered running. If he breaks away from the pack, he “reluctantly” gets into the race because the country needs him.

I’ll tell you this. Al Gore still wants to be President and knows that Hillary is also waiting to jump in January if conditions warrant it. If Gore is going to make a move, it will have to be before the beginning of the year. He thinks his best bet is to oppose Bush's strengths. If Gore really wants to say that Iraq should have been left in tact, he has a large misunderstanding of the American public post 911. But he probably thinks that he can't win over many Bush supporters as a parrot. Reagan Democrats returned to Clinton or Perot in 1992, because as a centrist, Bush didn't offer moderate Democrats much reason to stray from their own party. Lieberman has a better understanding of this than Gore.

By dropping out last year, Gore has been able to think and talk strategy without having to go on TV and answer a bunch of fool questions from reporters. He doesn’t need to stay in the public eye to keep his name recognition. Watch the Zogby numbers in the next couple of months. Gore wants a Nixon style political comeback. If Gore succeeds, he'll need an economic depression to beat a man of action like Bush.

Monday, August 04, 2003

It's a cliche that old men are full of old ideas. This is not always true, but when it’s true, it’s really true. Such is the case with Fritz Hollings who plans to leave the Senate, but with his own brand of reality. He has no clue as to what the information age is. To him, communication is meaningless and only factory jobs are worthwhile.
I had to make a talk on trade last week, and I looked it up and found out that at the end of World War II we had 40 percent of our workforce in manufacturing. And now we're down to 10 percent. We've got 10 percent of the country working and producing, and we've got the other 90 percent talking and eating. That's all they're doing.

We have a higher standard of living than any country in anytime in the history of the world. We import people to do the kinds of jobs that Americans won't touch anymore. Hollings needs to see people walking out a plant with dirt and grime under their fingernails to feel that people have jobs. In reality, manufacturing is just a single step in the process of bringing products to market. Someone has to invent, someone has to finance, someone has to package, and someone has to sell. None of these are inferior to the actual physical labor it takes to make something.

Hollings is unable or unwilling to realize that progress has made it possible for more people to use their minds instead of their backs. If that isn’t a step forward in the history of employment, what else is?

The Junto Boys are back from a long weekend in Biloxi. We entered a poker tourney with little luck, but we all saw our game improve at the regular tables. The Dude and I were even accused of being professionals by a local lady when we read her hand a couple of times. Steve had hardly played Texas Hold'em before the trip but saw his game improve enough that he walked with a small profit on our last session. He's going to be a tough player once he gets some time logged at the table.

Poker is not given its due as a game of skill. Because money is won and lost it is considered gambling, but life is a gamble. Unlike a game of chance such as blackjack, poker is consistently won by good players. California understood this long ago and allowed poker rooms but not regular casino games. In Florida, they allow poker in a convoluted form as long as no more than ten dollars is won on any hand. My libertarian views have trouble understanding the ban on gambling in general, but even more so on poker.

Why not let people wager at games. They already wager in the stock market. And you can argue that everything in life is a gamble, from the person you marry to the career you choose. There are no guarantees in life, but taking risks provides rewards and punishments. Should the government really be in the business of outlawing natural human behavior?

Risk theory suggests that we all need a certain amount of risk in our lives to feel alive. Wagering is one of the few risks you can take that doesn't put your physical health in danger. If there are winners and losers it is no different than in any other part of life.