Friday, January 30, 2004


"I think there has been an exaggeration," Mr. Kerry said when asked whether President Bush has overstated the threat of terrorism. "They are misleading all Americans in a profound way."

"This administration's arrogant and ideological policy is taking America down a more dangerous path," Mr. Kerry said. "I will make America safer than they are."

Kerry is just saying the same thing that Democrats said about Reagan during the cold war. When Reagan approach won, they pretended they never said it.

Also, Kerry is trying to have the best of it both ways. If the administration cracks down on suspected terrorists and topples regimes, Kerry calls it overkill. If another terrorist act is successful in this country, Kerry will say that Bush was negligent. In other words, if Bush does something then he is going to far. If something happens anyway, then Bush hasn’t done enough. We’re supposed to believe that Kerry’s vague plan is a better one.

Kerry wants to return the country to the Clinton approach.

1. Ignore terrorism until it happens again.
2. Make a speech condemning the perpetrators.
3. Lob a bomb or two in their general direction.
4. Return to Step One.

This is not a winning policy for Kerry if the Republicans do a decent enough job of pointing it out.
If you act like a liberal to get Democrat votes, you can't do something conservative when you win without losing those new voters. Bush requested $15 billion to fight AIDS in Africa and let Ted Kennedy write an education bill that spent more on "the children" than ever, and they still rip him to shreds on those issues. You know, Republicans told us that we needed to give them control of the House, Senate and White House to get something done.

Rush had been tepid about criticizing the White House with the war on. It's like Bush thinks that Democrats will love him for this spending and Republicans will ignore it. I think the opposite is happening on both ends. It's time for Congressional Republicans to stand up to the administration and say no on new spending.

Thursday, January 29, 2004

The Problem with Multilateralism:

Documents from Saddam Hussein's oil ministry reveal he used oil to bribe top French officials into opposing the imminent U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

Such evidence would undermine the French position before the war when President Jacques Chirac sought to couch his opposition to the invasion on a moral high ground.

The Democrats assertion that every last country must join a coalition to make a military action legitimate allows a dictator to court just one key country to prevent action. This particular charge may or may not be true, but it reveals the larger truth that all nations have their own self-interest to consider. France is more likely concerned with their oil contracts than they are with the security of the United States. Liberal Americans who criticize the U.S. for ignoring France are either naive when it comes to world affairs or are using France as an excuse because they didn't want to use military force for other reasons.

Tuesday, January 27, 2004


A few surprises here. I think the weak field gives Lord of the Rings it's chance to take home the trophy. Though honestly, the field looks a little better than it has the last couple of years. I'm the guy who didn't really get the first Lord of the Rings and, in fact, fell asleep in the theatre. To me it was the same movie every 15 minutes. They would walk in the woods, be attacked by a force 100 times their size, kill them of, and then walk in the woods again.

I'm told that the uncut version is much better than the original theatrical version. Meaning that I have to see the original uncut version of the first one, and the entire second film which I skipped before I can see and understand the third film which is sure to win. On one side, I have my own slumbering memories and on the other I have nearly every person I know telling me this is the best movie series of all-time. I hate sitting here as a minority of one while everyone else is thrillin'. I better get to work.

It's been eleven years since Eastwood won for Unforgiven. I'm surprised to see him back. Some of his recent entries like Blood Work, True Crume and Space Cowboys convinced me we'd seen the last of his nominations. Now, I better get serious and see Mystic River. This is only the fourth film directing effort I can remember where he didn't also act. Bird, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, Mystic River and a William Holden movie from the 1970s called Breezy that I have never seen.

No matter how many foriegn films I see a year I have still never heard of the nominees. I expected the raves for MAN WITHOUT A PAST to translate into a nomination, but the movie was surprisingly dull and maybe the Academy thought so too.

Early Guesses:

Picture: Lord of the Rings
Actor: Sean Penn
Actress: Charlize Theron
Director: Peter Jackson

Monday, January 26, 2004

Despite President George W. Bush's high poll numbers, the Democrats think they have the key to winning the 2004 elections. Get the votes of convicted felons. Don't laugh; the Democrats are deadly serious.

The nation's 4 million convicted felons could be enough to swing the November election. Surveys show that the overwhelming majority would vote Democratic if they could, so felons are a voting bloc that Democrats are just itching to harvest.

Democrats are using a study made by two sociologists, one at the University of Minnesota and the other at Northwestern University, suggesting that, since 1978, seven U.S. Senate races plus the 2000 presidential election would have turned out differently if felons had been allowed to vote. The professors estimate that Florida felons would have given Al Gore an additional 60,000 votes, more than enough to wipe out Bush's narrow margin of victory.

Lawsuits have been filed to overturn the laws that bar felons from voting in the states of Florida, New York, New Jersey, and Washington.

There is a message in here somewhere about the kinds of people that the political parties naturally recruit. Why might criminals choose the Democrats?

The whole night was worth Murray's acceptance.
The show's highlight may have been the acceptance speech by the notoriously sardonic (Bill) Murray, who thanked Coppola before dryly mocking Hollywood award speeches, declaring he had fired all his agents and representatives and had no one else to thank.

He also poked fun at the idea that comedy performers are overshadowed by dramatic stars. "Too often we forget our brothers on the other side of the aisle — the dramatic actors," he said. "I'd just like to say: Where would our war, our miseries and our psychological dramas come from?"

Meryl Strrep used her acting talent to take a swipe at Bush's state of the union speech. She said something to the effect that marriage and steroids weren't the two biggest problems facing America. Well, Meryl. . . No one else said they were either. That would be hyperbole.

Friday, January 23, 2004


The reports stated that Cuban intelligence, which is known to have extensive "coverage" of U.S. military bases, supplied information to Saddam's intelligence service on the movement of troops and other military activities.

The intelligence sharing also comes amid reports from Cuban exiles that Cuba became a safe haven for fleeing Iraqi government officials following the U.S.-led invasion.

If true, it’s justification for over throwing Castro once and for all.

Joe Lieberman had the toughest job up there. While plenty of moderates in a general election might find him a safe choice, among primary Democrats he’s swimming upstream. They don’t want to hear about why the war's justified. Lieberman has to struggle a lot to separate himself from President Bush. His war comments last night sounded Republican. Other than a comment about Americans not having health insurance, he didn't sound much like a Democrat. He mostly said he's the Democrat that Bush doesn't want to run against.

Lieberman’s criticism on the stump is that the war was justified but Bush bungled the peace. When has America not bungle the peace?

Wilson’s bungled utopian vision after World War I caused the rise of Nazism. FDR’s bungled negotiations with Stalin bungled the World War II peace and caused the Iron Curtain to go up over Eastern Europe. The bungled Korean cease-fire means that North Korea is still a threat 50 years later. We signed the cease-fire with Vietnam a number of times instead of declaring war and winning. If Lieberman wants to complain that things aren’t so smooth in a war zone, he might want to give historical examples of how we won the peace.

Lieberman is a natural Republican, but he missed his chance. In 1998, he was the loudest Democrat critic of Clinton’s lying to a Grand Jury, but like the rest of that bunch he voted that it had no bearing on whether Clinton should be President. It would have been a great time to vote against Clinton, switch parties and join the majority. Instead, he ignored his own criticisms, turned his back and became the right flank of the Democrat Party. His loyalty won him a Veep nod in 2000, but that failed. On his own, he’s too conservative for his party. He won’t get this nomination. He’s chosen his destiny. He’ll spend the rest of his political life as a senator in a minority party.


Thursday, January 22, 2004


The latest involves whether the Pope saw and praised the movie. Peggy Noonan originally stated the Pope liked the movie in December, but Frank Rich contradicted those claims in a column Sunday. The Vatican denied the same on Monday. Today, Peggy Noonan implies that it was pressure that made the Vatican deny these claims. Noonan lays out pretty good evidence. Whether the Pope likes it or not won't influence my decision, but the papal opinion is a good example of how any big organization ultimately becomes about the organization itself rather than its mission. Why can't the Pope like a movie? Because, it might not be politically correct for the Pontiff to like a movie about Christ.

In the middle is Gibson who invested $25 million of his money and is sure to get it back as long as people are talking. The secrecy and controversy should help.

Wednesday, January 21, 2004


For as much as I like politics, I usually tire with political speeches. Politicians usually say the expected things and the State of the Union is interrupted too many times for applause. After a short time the real education is not what the speaker says but who stands and who sits on their hands after they say it.

Ted Kennedy looked like he was sitting on a cactus. No one made him come. He could have spent the evening stumping for John Kerry in N.H.

Hillary Clinton looked like a jury member for the Salem Witch trials. Hillary's occasional clapping was so weak that I wondered if her hands could even feel one another. Personally, I would either clap like I meant it or sit on my hands. The half-assed clap looks like mockery, which may be fine when you?re a Kennedy and come from a state that will allow you to break Strom Thurmond's longevity record, but it doesn't look dignified for the 2008 frontrunner. I can't imagine Bush acting up from the audience during a Clinton speech.

I was happy to hear that Bush doesn't intend to offer amnesty for illegal aliens. It looks now that the rumor was floated in order to get more mainstream acceptance for his plan to register illegals and let them work with restrictions.

The other surprise was his call for sports owners to rid their leagues of steroids. I like the idea and the approach. As I said a few weeks ago, the Pete Rose situation is nonsense compared to the players that are cheating by using these substances. The beauty of baseball, at least, is that you can compare the accomplishments of old time players with new ones. The designer drugs are ruining the comparisons, because even players that don't use them are lumped into an era that certainly does. But I'm glad that Bush called on the owners to do something instead of mandating another government action.

On the negative, I don't see how Bush can limit the growth of government to 4%. He's bought into the Democrats idea that too many social problems have a government solution. The Republicans are afraid to articulate the reasons the Department of Education sucks money out of education instead of improving it. We need to have a real debate about government agencies and their worth.

Bush is a better speaker when he talks about the war and protecting this country. He wasn't bad last night when talking about other things either, but he's done poorly in enough impromptu speeches that his reputation is likely to hang on that.

I liken Bush's speechmaking and political career to that of baseball player Dave Winfield. Winfield mostly played basketball in college and never played baseball in the minor leagues so he had to work on his game at the Major League level. Winfield had tremendous talent and could produce better than average at the major league level, but still had holes in his game. Even in his 40s he was a sucker for the outside pitch. Bush is much the same way in speechmaking. He didn't have to spend years as a state legislator speaking before the Lions Club. He didn't have spend years in years in the Senate giving two hour speeches on a budget deal. I think that's really the difference. He has good political instincts, but he doesn't have the experience in delivery that Congressman tend to have. It works for Bush because it makes him seem more like a normal guy. It's also helps when dorky guys like Gore are sighing or invading his personal space.

Tuesday, January 20, 2004


The funniest thing about the results are how so many of the party bigwigs lined up behind Dean, probably because they wanted to see a short primary season, and it meant nothing to the electorate. His speech last night is not going to inspire a broad populace, but maybe a few WWF fans.

I'm not surprised that well-spoken Edwards finished second after the newspaper endorsement, but what about John Kerry's nuance (waffling) approach to the war do these people like?

Lieberman made a big mistake sitting this one out. He'll always wonder if the decision ultimately cost him the nomination.

Gephardt's favorite son status was meaningless. The once reliable unions weren't. I was amazed that so few people even vote in this thing. Why is such a small sample of the electorate so meaningful that a candidacy that has run a year will buckle because someone else got a few thousand more votes?

Kerry made a smart play in Iowa. He could have sat it out like Lieberman and relied on favorite son status in New Hampshire. We now know that would have been a mistake. You have to figure the Iowa win will boost his chances in New Hampshire where only a week ago he looked hopeless.

General Wesley Clark will now get more screen time and scrutiny. He could blow higher than Dean given the right situation. He seems like General McClellan from the Civil War. Both were on the same team with the President until a better offer came up. I have yet to hear why Clark thinks that the situation in Serbia that he led is any different than the one in Iraq that he now opposes. He?s ready to take back pats and kudos for deposing one dictator while explaining that the other one could have been easily left in place. Ironic that the one most dangerous to America is the one that Clark wanted left alone. If the media has a sense of humor, Clark will spend most of the campaign explaining

What if no candidate can get enough delegates on the first ballot? Would Hillary jump in to save the party?

Monday, January 19, 2004


Sen. Kerry:
"When I came home from Vietnam in 1969, I don't know if John Edwards was out of diapers then yet or not, I'm totally not sure. I don't know." Kerry then appeared to rethink the issue, and said, "He was by then, it was earlier."

Sen. Edwards:

"I have tremendous respect for Senator Kerry's service to our country in Vietnam," he said in a written statement. "The truth is, in 1969 my family spent a lot of time sitting around the kitchen table trying to figure out how to pay for me to go to college, as so many Iowa families do every day."

I don't understand Kerry's attempt at humor here. Edwards is 50 years old. Even Abraham Lincoln was in diapers once. If leadership and experiences were measured by who was older, we'd have Willard Scott nominate a President.

Edwards retort is classic, because it reminds one that Kerry is some Eastern Elitist without saying it.
(Gweneth) Paltrow says, "I worry about bringing up a child in America. At the moment there's a weird, over-patriotic atmosphere over there, like, 'We're No. 1 and the rest of the world doesn't matter.'"

I thought all sensitive Hollywood types support the right of consenting adults to love whatever they love and openly to boot.


Oh and can we change New England's football nickname to the Contentious Objectors?

The youngest of five children born to a minister who escaped slavery at age 15, Robeson parlayed his stage and screen fame into social activism, championing racial equality and workers' rights.

But his outspoken political beliefs, association with the Communist Party and admiration for the Soviet Union drew scorn from the U.S. government.

I don't want to beat this horse to death, but would we being doing this for a Nazi?

The article goes on to talk of HUAC (The House un-American Activities Committe) and McCarthyism so Robeson must be a saint if they didn't like him. It even has Robeson's son saying that he wasn't a communist. The anti-Communist Robeson had a strange way of handshaking Stalin. As can be expected, the article offers none of the evidence. He must not be if those naughty organizations accused him of it.

What's missing is Robeson's support of the Nazi/Communist non-agression pact in 1940. Only Nazis and Communists supported it. It didn't bring any great relief to middle America or thoughtful liberals.

Here's what the non-communist Robeson had to say about Stalin courtesy of Andrew Sullivan:
"Suddenly everyone stood - began to applaud - to cheer - and to smile. The children waved. In a box to the right - smiling and applauding the audience - as well as the artists on the stage - stood the great Stalin. I remember the tears began to quietly flow. and I too smiled and waved. Here was clearly a man who seemed to embrace all. So kindly - I can never forget that warm feeling of kindliness and also a feeling of sureness. Here was one who was wise and good - the world and especially the socialist world was fortunate indeed to have his daily guidance. I lifted high my son Pauli to wave to this world leader, and his leader. For Paul, Jr. had entered school in Moscow, in the land of the Soviets... In all spheres of modern life the influence of Stalin reaches wide and deep. From his last simply written but vastly discerning and comprehensive document, back through the years, his contributions to the science of our world society remain invaluable. One reverently speaks of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin - the shapers of humanity's richest present and future.

Yes, through his deep humanity, by his wise understanding, he leaves us a rich and monumental heritage. Most importantly - he has charted the direction of our present and future struggles. He has pointed the way to peace - to friendly co-existence - to the exchange of mutual scientific and cultural contributions - to the end of war and destruction. How consistently, how patiently, he labored for peace and ever increasing abundance, with what deep kindliness and wisdom. He leaves tens of millions all over the earth bowed in heart-aching grief.

But, as he well knew, the struggle continues. So, inspired by his noble example, let us lift our heads slowly but proudly high and march forward in the fight for peace - for a rich and rewarding life for all." - Paul Robeson

A rich and rewarding life awaits once we can gulag and kill all the disbelievers.

Friday, January 16, 2004

Democratic presidential contender John Kerry opened a five-point lead on three tightly bunched rivals in Iowa three days before the state's caucuses, according to a Reuters/MSNBC/Zogby poll released on Friday.

In the latest three-day tracking poll, Kerry gained two percentage points to 24 percent, with Howard Dean and Richard Gephardt each dropping two points to 19 percent and John Edwards holding steady at 17 percent.

All four contenders were within the poll's margin of error of 4.5 percent, setting up a tight dash to the finish in Monday's caucuses, the first Democratic nominating contest.

The media must be thrilled. Howard is falling and the horse race is back on.

But how can John "effing" Kerry be leading this race? Must the Democrats always nominate the most condescending candidate. Can anybody really explain his position on the war? He seems like a man who voted for the war with the intention that he would get to vote six more times before we actually went to war. How dare you go to war with the authorization we gave you in Congress he seems to be saying.

Of Course, when Saddam Hussein was captured, Kerry was attacking Howard Dean for being too soft on Iraq. Dean's opposition to the war may be wrong-headed but at least it's consistent.

Lieberman may have made a mistake skipping Iowa. It's so up for grabs that he probably could have done as well as any of them. Instead, he'll compete in New Hampshire where Wesley Clark and Dean and maybe even Kerry after Iowa are ahead of him.

Thursday, January 15, 2004


I saw it for the first time today and I’m not sure the point that Moore is trying to make. At first, you get the impression that Moore in making anti-gun film which it mostly is, but then he switches gears and shows that Canadians own even more guns per capita than we do and have fewer gun murders. At that point he turns the camera on the media. He shows that American news is swamped with coverage of violence while Canadian television discusses the location of new speed bumps.

There are plenty of funny moments. The news anchor outside of Detroit who is doing in standup about a school shooting is close to tears. It would have worked if you hadn’t seen him more worried about the length of his hair before the shot took place, or you hadn’t seen him gloat about his coverage going national after the shot. The story, though tragic, is really just an opportunity for him to gain national exposure.

In fact, that’s what Moore is doing here too. By taking a couple of victims from Columbine to K-Mart Headquarters in Michigan to return the bullets that are lodged in their bodies, Moore is exploiting a local tragedy as a national epidemic. By making a movie about these incidents, he’s using violence to scare people just as he shows the media using violence to scare people.

The big ending with Charlton Heston is much less dramatic than it had been reported before the movie was released. Heston was supposed to have said that race was the contributing factor to gun violence, and others have said it since. Instead, Heston gently said that we had more ethnic problems than other countries. Heston was really gracious to allow Moore into his home and he was frank when answering questions.

The movie was plenty entertaining, but was misleading at every turn. His take on foreign dictators and their relations to the United States is clever distortion. Never does he explain the horrors of the opposition. He treats American support of the contras like support for butchers, but Ortega did the real killing in that fight and when Nicaragua finally had free elections, they voted with the Contras.

But there were some laughs.
From Drudge:

Clark is definitely the "Clinton" candidate.


Less than 18 months ago, Wesley Clark offered his testimony before the Committee On Armed Services at the U.S. House Of Representatives.

"There's no requirement to have any doctrine here. I mean this is simply a longstanding right of the United States and other nations to take the actions they deem necessary in their self defense," Clark told Congress on September 26, 2002.

"Every president has deployed forces as necessary to take action. He's done so without multilateral support if necessary. He's done so in advance of conflict if necessary. In my experience, I was the commander of the European forces in NATO. When we took action in Kosovo, we did not have United Nations approval to do this and we did so in a way that was designed to preempt Serb ethnic cleansing and regional destabilization there. There were some people who didn' t agree with that decision. The United Nations was not able to agree to support it with a resolution."

Clark continued: "There's no question that Saddam Hussein is a threat... Yes, he has chemical and biological weapons. He's had those for a long time. But the United States right now is on a very much different defensive posture than we were before September 11th of 2001... He is, as far as we know, actively pursuing nuclear capabilities, though he doesn't have nuclear warheads yet. If he were to acquire nuclear weapons, I think our friends in the region would face greatly increased risks as would we."

More Clark: "And, I want to underscore that I think the United States should not categorize this action as preemptive. Preemptive and that doctrine has nothing whatsoever to do with this problem. As Richard Perle so eloquently pointed out, this is a problem that's longstanding. It's been a decade in the making. It needs to be dealt with and the clock is ticking on this."

Clark explained: "I think there's no question that, even though we may not have the evidence as Richard [Perle] says, that there have been such contacts [between Iraq and al Qaeda]. It' s normal. It's natural. These are a lot of bad actors in the same region together. They are going to bump into each other. They are going to exchange information. They're going to feel each other out and see whether there are opportunities to cooperate. That's inevitable in this region, and I think it's clear that regardless of whether or not such evidence is produced of these connections that Saddam Hussein is a threat."

Hummm. Just kidding

Wednesday, January 14, 2004


Penn's account of his trip is personal in the way that a Hunter S. Thompson story is personal, but it lacks the zaniness. As you read it, you're waiting for some big payoff, but you're instead treated to bland stream of consciousness.

The first paragraph is a great example of the self-absorption that plagues Hollywood types. Penn cannot just tell us about the Iraqi people, but he has to detail the medical examination he was getting when he was making travel arrangements.

This later part is almost self parody.
When I arrive at the institute, there is a class in progress. For about 10 minutes, I observe as Betsy Hiel, a Weintel Prize-winning correspondent of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, discusses reporting structure, using as a model a multi-part piece she had done on mass graves. When this term "mass graves" is used, one of the young Iraqi students chimes in with laughter: "This whole country is a mass grave. We live in a mass grave." And with that, the fatigue of the trip hits me in the back of the head like a rocket-propelled grenade. As I excuse myself, Hiwa offers me a shot of Glenfiddich. I accept a sip, enough to wash down an Ambien, and then crawl under the covers in the bed they've given me, sinking into a five-hour chemically induced coma.

Let's not think about mass graves. Oh, and how appropriate to compare my discomfort with the horrors of war. Let's take a prescription and make it all go away.

I don't have time to read the whole thing now, but my guess is that Penn doesn't learn the meaning of life, but that we are further subjected to descriptions of his discomforts. Let me skip to the end for kicks.

There's a ski-lodge feel to a house full of war correspondents, their press passes clipped to them like lift tickets, as one by one they return from the slippery slopes of Baghdad's streets and the outlying moguls of Kirkuk and Samarra.

Who are you kidding? You just wanted to get away from your wife.
But for the people and children of Baghdad and the coalition forces, the insurgents and the utter lawlessness of the streets are a constant and real threat. Shortly before the U.S. attack, Hussein opened the gates of his largest prisons and released his worst criminals and killers into the population. Until recently, several illegal taverns posted Arabic signs reading "Killer for Hire." Kidnappings, robberies, rape and murder are commonplace.

Isn't this the guy who played the murderer who we were supposed to feel sorry for at the end of DEAD MAN WALKING? He not only takes the victims side this time but backhandedly endorses Saddam’s brutal political executions as the lesser of two evils.

I can only imagine what he said in the parts I skipped.

Tuesday, January 13, 2004


I think O'Neill is a great example of how Presidents that choose business executives for their cabinet risk bruising some egos. It was obvious that Bush didn't care what O'Neill thought about tax cuts. O'Neill is use to handing out orders not taking them. He couldn't handle not being the big fish.

Why should it surprise anyone that Bush had a plan to invade Iraq before 911? It's not like we haven't considered them a threat since 1990. Also, it doesn't jibe with the notion that Bush's lack of preparation caused the attacks. Only the FAA could have prevented those attacks beforehand, and they still refuse to single out guys named Mohammed. But a plan to attack Iraq shows that Bush understood the world situation well enough even before the disaster.

The debate is either down to Bush knew of 911 and was waiting to use it to attack Iraq. Or Bush was asleep at the wheel and failed to prevent it. It's not possible to the critics that we spent the 1990s ignoring or treating other attacks as criminal matters, and were thus begging for a big one.


Asked if he plans to vote for Bush in November's presidential election, O'Neill said he "probably" would. "I don't see anyone who is better prepared or more capable," he told NBC.

O'Neill is the new Donald Regan.

Clark promises the impossible
Last week, retired General Wesley Clark disqualified himself for the job he now seeks, and for which he incessantly claims he is the most prepared of any Democratic presidential candidate: commander-in-chief.

In a meeting last Thursday with the editorial board of New Hampshire's Concord Monitor, the would-be president made statements that no one staking a serious claim on the office, let alone anyone who claimed to be an expert about national security, could make. Referring to the murderous 9/11 attacks, he declared: "If I'm president of the United States, I'm going to take care of the American people. We are not going to have one of these incidents."

But anyone who pledges that, if elected, he will ensure the American people are never exposed to future terrorist incidents — including ones vastly more destructive than those that befell us 27 months ago — is sufficiently delusional or dishonest, or both, to be disqualified for the Oval Office.

No one who held the sorts of senior positions in the U.S. military that General Clark did could be ignorant of an unpleasant truth: Even if America were a far less free and open society than it is today, we would still be vulnerable to murderous attacks by determined people willing to kill themselves in order to do us harm.

Clinton couldn't prevent the first trade center bombing, the attacks on our embassies or the U.S.S. Cole attack. Clark is the candidate that has mostly attached himself to Clinton. Maybe Clark should explain why his political hero had so much trouble doing what he can easily promise.

And how would Clark prevent something like this.

Monday, January 12, 2004

Supreme Court rules on secret detainees by not ruling.

The Supreme Court refused Monday to consider whether the government properly withheld names and other details about hundreds of foreigners detained in the months after the Sept. 11 terror attacks.

The high court turned down a request to review the secrecy surrounding detainees, nearly all Arabs or Muslims, who were picked up in the United States immediately following the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

The thing that seems to be lost in all of these discussions is the fact that these people are not citizens. We'd be silly to allow every person in this country the same rights as the citizens that are specifically protected by the Constitution. By making immigrants go through the arduous process of citizenship we will foster a greater respect for the value of citizenship. Why become a citizen now when the numerous organizations and even the President are willing to protect you for breaking the law.

Sunday, January 11, 2004


According to the psychiatrist, Heinrich Wilmer, the German cannibal Armin Meiwes, who killed Bernd Brandes and then ate at least 44 pounds of his flesh, is suffering from “emotional problems.” We might say the same, I suppose, of Brandes, who answered Meiwes’s Internet advertisement for “a young, well-built man who wants to be eaten”—though his problems are now past curing. Brandes also had a slightly offbeat sense of humor. On discovering that both he and Meiwes were smokers, he reportedly said, “Good, smoked meat lasts longer.”

The case raises interesting questions of principle, even for those who take the thoroughly conventional view that eating people is wrong. According to the evidence, Meiwes and Brandes were consenting adults: by what right, therefore, has the state interfered in their slightly odd relationship?

Lest anyone think that the argument from mutual consent for the permissibility of cannibalism is purely theoretical, it is precisely what Meiwes’s defense lawyer is arguing in court. The case is a reductio ad absurdum of the philosophy according to which individual desire is the only thing that counts in deciding what is permissible in society. Brandes wanted to be killed and eaten; Meiwes wanted to kill and eat.

Just when you thought you had heard everything.

Thursday, January 08, 2004


My friend and political science professor, Dr. Alfred Cuzan has an interesting article on Tech Central. It's a historical analysis of how incumbents fared according to their fiscal policy. The long and the short of it is Bush is an under dog for re-election according to history, because of high increased spending. But the war and a recovering economy helped FDR and Reagan respectively, and Bush may have both going for him when the election comes around. But will the war be as big of an issue in November?

Click on the link to see the chart.
This relationship between fiscal policy and how well the incumbents do at the polls is "statistically significant." In other words, the probability of obtaining it at random is extremely low. Which suggests a simple explanation: voters are allergic to fiscal expansion and reward tight-fisted presidents who implement fiscal cutbacks. This would not have surprised Machiavelli, who advised his would-be prince to practice fiscal parsimony. As the Florentine put it:

So stop spending money, Bush!

Peggy Noonan has some interesting thing to say about Dean in her recent column.
I want to like Howard Dean. I don't mean I want to support him; I mean I want to like him, or find him admirable even if I don't agree with him. I want the Democratic Party to have a strong nominee this year, for several reasons. One is that it is one of our two great parties, and it is dispiriting to think it is not able to summon up a deeply impressive contender. Another is that democracy is best served by excellent presidential nominees duking it out region to region in a hard-fought campaign that seriously raises the pressing issues of the day. A third is that the Republican Party is never at its best when faced with a lame challenger. When faced with a tough and scrappy competitor like Bill Clinton, they came up with the Contract with America. When faced with Michael Dukakis they came up with flag-burning amendments. They need to be in a serious fight before they fight seriously.

I’ve been feeling the same way for many of the same reasons. Republicans are getting lazy and using their majorities to buy votes with more government spending and illegal alien amnesty. They need a good fight to remember what they believe in.

I’d also like to like Dean to show Democrats that the overwhelming opposition to Clinton wasn’t merely politics, but one of integrity. Democrats have tried to make the military issue about whether or not someone actually served. John Kerry loves to use his service and ridicule Bush for being in the National Guard. Members of the National Guard died in Vietnam too, but you’d never know such a thing from hearing the issue discussed.

It wasn’t that Clinton didn’t serve that made conservatives dislike him, but that he was called into service by his country and refused to go. He wouldn’t even join the safer National Guard, because he “loathed the military.” It was his right to loathe whatever he wanted, but if the leader of the military doesn’t respect the institution how can he lead it. We know now that Clinton’s life pattern has been nothing but the quest for power at any cost. Gore, who is much more honorable than that, was tainted by his association with Clinton in the 2000 election.

I had hoped that 2004 would bring a serious Democrat into the fold who would debate the liberal point of view and make Bush debate the conservative one. A candidate like Mario Cuomo would be good for the country. For all of his rough spots, at least Dean has the opportunity to accomplish the liberal argument.

It’s time that we have a debate in this county between someone who is uneasy about American power overseas and one that relishes it. Candidates like John Kerry and John Edwards just dodge issue by voting in favor, but doing nothing to support it. Had either of them been President, we would have ended the war after attacking Afghanistan.

Bush is no doubt the best person to lead this war, and his tax cuts were bold and needed. But there would have been economic advantages to having Gore with a Republican congress. Of course, we would have had to endure 4 years of him talking down to us as if we were children, but you can bet that his spending bills would have been dead on arrival. A war still would have created deficits, but the Republican congress wouldn’t have authorized half the money that they were willing to give Bush.

For all the credit that Clinton loves to take from the 1990s, he was mostly a neutered President that had to settle for Republican led spending measures that kept the deficit low. Wall Street took it as a positive that tax rates wouldn’t climb and the market responded well.

Bush would be much better off if he had to play to conservatives instead of pander to liberals. His quest to outspend them isn’t going to win them many votes, but it will create a large government that will someday be tempted to raise my taxes to the point where I won’t have time to blog.

It might be late, but congratulations to Cathy's LSU Tigers on their National Championship. I'd give Dude congrats for his hometown USC Trojans, but I don't think he cares on way or the other.

Tuesday, January 06, 2004


Andrew Sullivan found an interesting article by Arthur Miller on his 2000 trip to Cuba. The quote is selections from Miller's article.
Having had a certain amount of experience with Soviet and Eastern European officialdom in the arts, particularly as head of International PEN for four years, I expected to have to do a lot of agreeable nodding in silence to statements manifestly silly if not at times idiotic. Unelected leaders and their outriders are unusually sensitive to contradiction, and the experience of their company can be miserably boring. However, Castro was mythic by this time, and the prospect of an hour or two with him was something to look forward to.

Having protested for years the government's jailing and silencing of writers and dissidents, I wondered whether despite everything, including the system's economic failure, a heartening species of human solidarity had been created, possibly out of the relative symmetry of poverty and the uniform futility inherent in the system from which few could raise their heads short of sailing away.

We entered an anteroom leading into the dining room and suddenly there was Castro, not in uniform as one always sees him in photographs but in a blue pencil-striped suit that, unpressed as it was, must not have been worn very often. Despite the suit, my quick impression was that had he not been a revolutionary politician he might well have been a movie star. He had that utterly total self-involvement, that need for love and agreement and the overwhelming thirst for the power that comes with total approval. In this crowded antechamber his retinue, as with most leaders everywhere, were supremely agreeable and one sensed immediately their absolute submission to the Leader. Whatever else he is, Castro is an exciting person and could probably have had a career on the screen.

Miller is quick to remind us of the repression of artists under Castro, but what struck me is how he was more than willing to pal around with the guy anyway. Is this the same Arthur Miller who defiantly refused to testify before HUAC because of their “repression” of the first amendment? Is this the same Arthur Miller who never forgave Elia Kazan for his testimony?

You’ll remember that ten people were sent to prison not for their beliefs but for the refusal to come clean about the communist organizations that have since been proven to be arms of Stalin. In 2003, Castro sent people for prison just for believing the wrong things.

Miller has some criticisms for Cuba but they pale compared to his known hate of HUAC. He assigns the impoverished Cubans nobility that is somehow supposed to make up for their repression. After all, the Batista government had ties to the mafia.

Maybe Miller doesn’t really care about repression at all, but has had a soft spot for communism couched in first amendment rhetoric. It’s the only explanation that reconciles the apparent contradiction.

Monday, January 05, 2004


A reply to my pals Steve W. and the Dude. You’d be good spokesmen for MLB.

I don't see how the argument is any stronger than baseball has a right because Rose knew it was wrong. That's a procedural argument, not a moral one. I always hated the Reds and Rose can be a bit much, but his banishment was too selective to be a just sentence.

There is a double edge sword to gambling and sports. Sports don’t discourage gambling, because 20%-30 of viewership is attributed to gambling. It’s been estimated that 1/3 of all NFL watchers have something riding on the game.

Landis didn’t blackball those players for gambling, though. They were booted for a conspiracy to take money to throw games. One does not equal the other.

Rose was singled out for reasons more than his actions. Alex Karras and some other NFL players bet on some playoff games during the 1960s and were only suspended for a year. When word started circling that Ty Cobb and Tris Speaker conspired to throw the last game of the 1925 season, it was brushed under the rug. No investigation.

Gambling and even throwing games had been going on before 1919, but like steroids today they didn’t want to do anything because it would implicate too many great players and hurt the bottom line. I’m sure certain people had known about Rose’s habit for years, but only used it once Rose started bumping Dave Pallone and making a general ass out of himself. Why hasn’t anyone else been booted for gambling since? With all of the gambling addictions in this country are we to believe that only the all-time hit leader was guilty of that crime?

The analogy of Soto and Rijo is a better argument than others I have heard, but would he be any more tempted to over use players on a $1,000 bet than managers who are obviously on the hot seat and worry about their $500,000 a year jobs? Can’t the team owners decide whether or not to hire a manager that wants to wager on his team? Marge Schott could have fired Rose when the allegations surfaced if she thought he was a danger to her investment. Also, the Soto-Rijo argument doesn’t work for players who still play. What reasons prevent them from betting on themselves?

As a fan it bothers me more that players like McGwire and Bonds are breaking sacred records by taking steroids while baseball looks the other way. The 1919 World Series is a disgrace, but are the situations of Bonds and McGwire using substances to break records less harmful to baseball than Rose betting on himself to win? The difference is that baseball likes home runs and is willing to hurt its own heritage to have something flashy to compete with the slam dunk. Rose’s actions are just a part of an intense human being that doesn’t like to lose. He is, in essence, the competitive spirit that makes baseball great.

Rose may deserve what he got simply because he knew the rules, but I’m arguing the larger philosophical point about what is really bad about baseball. There is a whole list of people who disgrace the game to a greater level. If more players played like Pete Rose and real scumbags were booted from the game, baseball would be in a better place than it is now. The trouble is that too many teams would lose star talent like pre-1919. It’s hypocrisy to be hard on Rose when they are so easy on everyone else. What if the same investigation into Rose revealed that 10% of MLB players bet on their teams and many of the players were stars? You would have seen a much more lenient outcome.

Rose was banned because he was one man and easy to make an example of. It’s hypocrisy to boot him for a rule that implies possible cheating when other players who knowingly cheat get a slap on the wrist.
"I bet on baseball in 1987 and 1988," the baseball great told ABCNEWS' Charles Gibson in an interview to be aired on Primetime Thursday on Jan. 8.

"That was my mistake, not coming clean a lot earlier," he said.

The only question in my mind is did he bet against his own team. I have yet to hear a good argument as to why a guy who bets on himself is a disgrace to the game.

Here are the weak arguments I've heard. . .

1) A man that bets with the mob may go into debt and have to throw games to pay his debt.

This is a better argument for making sports betting legal than anything else. Libertarian's are wondering why the government should have a say in what we do with our own money. And why give the mob an ability to make a living when those same jobs could go to legitimate businesses. Could it be that the government doesn't want competition on its lucrative lottery earnings?

If Rose was throwing games, lets throw him out. The Black Sox were actually throwing games. It's been hinted that even Ty Cobb conspired to throw a ballgame at the end of a season. The proof against Rose should be that he altered the outcome of a game. No one has yet claimed that.

2) On some nights Rose didn't bet on the Reds' games because he didn't like their chances as much. That's like betting against them. It also sent inside information to gamblers that Rose wasn't confident.

I actually heard someone on ESPN make this argument. I can't for the life of me figure out its significance. Was the reporter damning Rose for not betting on baseball everyday? And if you don't want the mob to have inside information legalize sports betting.

3) Rose betting on baseball is a bad influence on the nation as a whole and is a blight on baseball.

The real blight on baseball is treating cheaters and drug users better than gamblers. Sammy Sosa can use a corked bat and be suspended for a few days. He was actually cheating. Cheating alters the outcomes of games. Other players like Steve Howe and Darryl Strawberry are treated like victims for their drug abuse. Dock Ellis even pitched a no hitter on LSD. Illegal substances also alter the outcome of games. Numerous players are taking steroids and baseball is looking the other way and will offer scant punishment to those who test positive. That not only changes the outcome of games but tells kids that using these dangerous substances is the only way to gain an edge in sports.

We're teaching a nation of kids that cheating and doing drugs is a small thing but betting is the end of the world. It seems not only self- righteous but a good situational morality to blanket the real troubles that are happening in the game. We'll allow drugs and cheating, but we have no tollerance for a man that bets on himself to win.

Gallup says we're Happy.
Happiness. As in, "life, liberty, and the pursuit of." The nation's founders considered happiness to be one of the ultimate objectives of life, so when Gallup asks Americans how happy they are it's no trivial matter.

Using the happiness standard, one would have to say the country is thriving. A Gallup Poll conducted Dec. 11-14 found a slight majority of Americans saying they are "very happy" and almost everyone saying they are at least "fairly happy." Only 4% admit to being unhappy.

They're right. I wasn't even that unhappy that the Yankees lost the World Series. I was so happy we beat Boston. But I'm still upset on bad beats when the pot odds didn't warrant a call.

Friday, January 02, 2004

Ebert's Top Ten Movies of the Year
1. "Monster"
2. "Lost in Translation"
3. "American Splendor"
4. "Finding Nemo"
5. "Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World"
6. "Mystic River"
7. "Owning Mahowny"
8. "The Son"
9. "Whale Rider"
10. "In America"

I've only seen #5 and #10. #2 and #6 would have been automatics but they played here when I was out of town and then very busy at work. #1, #7 and #8 haven't come here yet. When I was a kid I would have been lucky if I knew half of Ebert's picks. This year I know them all, but #8 The Son.