Sunday, October 31, 2004


The Horserace Blog makes a pretty good case for Bush winning Florida by crunching registration and turnout numbers.

Bush looks pretty good in Minnesota too.

And Ohio.

Pennsylvania no telling.
Here is a tip on how you'll know how Dubya is doing in PA. If you see them tabulating the votes and early on Kerry has only a small-to-modest lead (maybe 4-5% max), that is a very good sign for the president. That means that Dubya is holding his own in the suburbs, counter-balancing Kerry's larger numbers in the rural areas. The rural votes, which break overwhelmingly Republican, trickle in later. This is what happened in 1994 when Santorum beat Harris Wofford. All night long Wofford held a slim lead over Santorum, and it broke Santorum's way around 1 AM or so.

Iowa favors Bush.

And for kicks look at how well Missouri mirrors the rest of the nation.

About the Polls:
So...what does this mean? Essentially, it means that the reliable polls are, roughly speaking, Time, Battleground, Gallup. All of the rest skew toward Democrats, and should be viewed with caution. A surprising number of the rest are either using questionable methods or are using unadvertised methods. This is absolutely taboo among social scientists. Methodology is the only element that the researcher can control, and thus it is critically important -- indeed it is an ethical responsibility -- for the researcher to make his/her methods avaiable.

And finally, how Kerry's slip in the black vote can't be offset anywhere else. And why Clinton's job is to secure this base.

The U.K. Telegraph has an excellent column today about the long-term results of disarming the British public.
BIN LADEN: The Lost Episodes

New York Post has this: (via Instapundit)
Officials said that in the 18-minute long tape — of which only six minutes were aired on the al-Jazeera Arab television network in the Middle East on Friday — bin Laden bemoans the recent democratic elections in Afghanistan and the lack of violence involved with it.

On the tape, bin Laden also says his terror organization has been hurt by the U.S. military's unrelenting manhunt for him and his cohorts on the Afghan-Pakistani border.

A portion of the left-out footage includes a tirade aimed at President Bush and his father, former President George H.W. Bush, claiming the war in Iraq is purely over oil.

The tape also sparked some concern that an attack aimed at disrupting Tuesday's election may be planned.


He visited Tinker Field last night the same as he did four years ago the weekend before the election. His internal polling must show a safe lead here because he didn’t bring the star firepower that he had last time. Four years ago he brought Travis Tritt to sing for a half hour followed by Bo Derek and Wayne Newton. Tonight he had a country singer I didn’t know, his brother Marvin and some local Republicans. He made some decent points on the stump last night that I was hoping (yelling at the TV) that he didn’t make in the debates. He reminded voters that Kerry opposed everything Reagan proposed although Kerry constantly invokes Reagan. He also pointed out how Edwards and Kerry were in the minority of their own party for opposing the $87 billion funding for the troops. I didn’t know that. It would have been a strong point in the debates as well. Instead, it’s wasted on the converted.

Bush comes off much better in person than he does on TV. I saw highlights of his speech today on the news and he didn’t seem as warm as he did when I was there.

Today we were on the corner of Mills and Colonial (The Vietnamese section of town) right next to the Kerry-Edwards Headquarters. The Asians were on all four corners holding up Bush signs while the Kerry supporters stood next to them less numerous and obviously weaker in math.

I spotted a few more Kerry-Edwards signs in downtown neighborhood yards, but then again, that real estate has been heavily gobbled up by investors and I bet the lion share of those Kerry people were renters. I am the only one in my neighborhood (50 houses) that has any kind of political sign up. A few weeks ago I picked up a Mel Martinez sign and just today I got my hands on a Bush sign.

It was a letdown that the Orlando Sentinel endorsed Kerry. But then The NY Daily News gave an unexpected endorsement of Bush. I don't think either of those really matters, but you'd like your hometown paper to the right of the NY Daily News.

The polls show that the popular vote is tight, but Bush is polling well in states won by Al Gore. Although Kerry will probably win New Hampshire (won by Bush in 2000) he doesn’t have any clear victory in the other Bush states. I don’t believe the Colorado polls that look good for Kerry. Pollsters missed Colorado in 2002. Bush, on the other hand, looks to win Gore states, Wisconsin, Iowa and New Mexico. He even has a chance in Pennsylvania, Minnesota and Michigan though I doubt it. I heard a pollster say the other night that Kerry cannot win this election without Ohio, although Bush could still squeak out a win if he lost both Ohio and Florida. The MSNBC favorable/unfavorable ratings show Bush much more liked than Kerry.

In the Senate, Republicans look to pick up seats in both Carolinas, Georgia, Louisiana, and maybe even South Dakota (Dashele). They will definitely lose Illinois and maybe Alaska. They should hold Colorado, Oklahoma, and Kentucky.

In short, even if Kerry were to pull out a miracle, he would still be dealing with the no-tax raising Congress that led to the economic prosperity of the 1990s.

Jeff Jacoby quotes some constituents letters:

On Jan. 9, 1991, as the crisis over Iraq's invasion of Kuwait was building to a climax, Kerry received a letter from a constituent, Walter Carter of Newton.

"Dear Senator Kerry," it began. "I urge you to support President Bush's request that Congress approve the `use of all necessary means' to get Iraqi forces out of Kuwait. To deny the president's request would encourage further aggression."

On Jan. 22, Kerry replied.

"Dear Mr. Carter," he wrote. "Thank you for contacting me to express your opposition to the Bush administration's additional deployment of US military forces . . . and to the early use of military force by the US against Iraq. I share your concerns. On Jan. 11, I voted in favor of a resolution that would have insisted that economic sanctions be given more time to work and against a resolution giving the president immediate authority to go to war."

Nine days later, he replied again.

"Dear Mr. Carter," Kerry's second letter said. "Thank you very much for contacting me to express your support for the actions of President Bush. . . . From the outset of the invasion, I have strongly and unequivocally supported President Bush's response to the crisis and . . . our military deployment in the Persian Gulf."

Friday, October 29, 2004


Dan Rather finally unfolds the real story behind Osama Bin Laden and 9-11 . . .

Osama bin Laden has got a trunk full of documents that prove Bush got special treatment in the National Guard, but it goes deeper than that. You've heard that Bush's father is friendly with the Saudi's? What's little known is how Bush and Osama grew up together and use to fish on the banks of the Mississippi. Osama's father was a drunk who use to beat him and he'd spend a lot of time at the Bush household eating dinner. Once the pair got into High School, the popular Osama dissed Bush for a more trendy clique. After High School, Osama volunteered for Vietnam while Bush squeaked into Yale and then the National Guard.

After fighting two distinguished tours and a brief capture by the enemy, Osama got a nasty whiff of Agent Orange and was sent back to the states where he was spit on as a baby killer. It not only made him angry but violated his Kosher upbringing. Bush, who was still sore over Osama's popularity in High School, fixed it so that the young man couldn't get his G.I. Bill money for college. With no education he had a choice of being a homeless beggar or turn to a life of crime. Such is America.

Osama then went to the Middle East where Bush ruined every oil deal Osama tried to put together. Finally, when his unemployment benefits expired on September 10th 2001 he decided to blackmail Bush with the National Guard documents. Bush would have none of it. With the help of the Israeli government, Bush orchestrated an attack on the Twin Towers. The Jews called in sick, the Towers came down and Bush had his excuse to go after Bin Laden before the National Guard Documents could materialize. As an unexpected but welcome effect, Bush's popularity rose. This is where the story gets crazy.

Posing as a young Latino girl, Osama was able to filter some of the damning documents to Bill Burkett and then to Dan Rather. Osama knew if he were identified the story would be discounted as a partisan attack. He's been meaning to lay low, but he can't stand Bush's distortions against John Kerry, a man he served with. After 10 minutes of on-camera chin boogies by Rather and barely 3 minutes of Bin Laden face time, Rather states categorically that he doesn't know the full truth behind the story, but that the White House has a lot of explaining to do and so far they have remained silent. Don’t forget to get out and vote on Tuesday.

Andy Rooney ends the show going through his Kerry for President junk mail.


The Greatest Political Ad ever devised.

And speaking of Political ads, Prop 71 in California is well argued against by Mel Gibson.

Thursday, October 28, 2004


Stanley Kurtz from The Corner.
The fact that a candidate who called America’s soldiers war criminals and threw away his metals could get this close shows that something has changed for the worse. And the reason is that even cultural leaders like the owner and publisher of The New York Times were once radical antiwar activists. Recall that after his second arrest for anti-war protests, Pinch Sulzberger was asked by his father what his son called, “the dumbest question I ever heard in my life:” “If a young American soldier comes upon a young North Vietnamese soldier, which one do you want to see get shot?” The younger Sulzberger answered, “I would want to see the American get shot. It’s the other guy’s country.” The reason John Kerry and his “global test” have even a ghost of a chance in this election is because Sulzberger and the folks who thought like him are now in charge of the media–and much of the rest of our culture.

Being anti-American and running the paper of record can do a lot of damage.

It was history when Boston came back 3-0 against the Yankees and they did it by beating the storied Mariano Rivera. So it was inevitable that they'd win the World Series too. Steinbrenner showed the folly in trying to put together an All-Star Lineup while neglecting middle relief. You can't expect Mariano Rivera to go 3 innings every time out. People like to say the Yanks buy Championships, but they never spent as much money as they did this year and to no avail. You still have to have heart to win the big game and the Yanks don't have it anymore. Gone are the Tinos and O'Neills and Brosius's. Jeff Nelson and Mike Stanton allowed the Yanks to play Chad Curtis and Joe Girardi and still win. Playing Gary Sheffiled and Alex Rodriguez doesn't make up for Sturtz in a tie game.

I would have liked to have seen the curse continue and then I read this:
Boston pitcher Curt Schilling, interviewed on ABC's "Good Morning America," said, "Tell everybody to vote. And vote Bush next week."

That will take the sting out.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004


It's a a big blog disappointment to see Andrew Sullivan and Daniel Drezner jumping ship to support John Kerry. They are guys who support the war and know that only Bush would have prosecuted the thing so strongly. They both now fall under the magical spell that Kerry is going to solve all the problems that Bush didn't anticipate.

In Sullivan's case his support for Kerry is more rationalization because Bush supports the constitutional amendment protecting traditional marriage. You could talk Jesse Jackson out of Affirmative Action before Sullivan would be convinced that voters and not courts should decide this issue.

I don't read Drezner enough to know why he's lost his mind. A guy as smart as Drezner should know the difference between tough campaign rhetoric and the realities that Kerry will face when he takes office.

I still have doubts about Kerry. Massive, Herculean doubts. His plan to internationalize the Iraq conflict is a pipe dream. However, here's the one thing I am confident about -- a Kerry administration is likely to recognize, once the multilateral diplomacy fails, that it will actually have to come up with a viable alternative.

So Drezner is rationalizing his vote for Kerry in that Kerry will eventually decide that Bush's course was best.

Drezner should consier that a Democrat can only prosecute this war so much before he will tear his party apart. The 1-5% that Nader gets now could easily be 10-15% in the next election if Kerry were really out there killing terrorists. You cannot discount the hard core anti-war base of this party. Who doesn't remember that about 10% of Americans were against going into Afghanistan? You can probably add another 10% to that number that would refuse to go anywhere else.

Even if you give Kerry credit for believing all the things he says, he cannot remain politically viable actually doing so. His is the party of appeasement even if he personally has a chest of medals. Regardless of the campaign images we see, candidates do not lead political movements, political movements lead them. Bush 41 learned his lesson when he raised taxes in 1990 and had competition in the primaries by Pat Buchanan, and in the general election by Ross Perot.

Kerry is not being supported because he has a great vision. The people want him either because they hate Bush or are disappointed in how Iraq is turning out. Kerry is either going to disappoint those who take him at his word or the political movement that has led him. He can't please both groups and he'll have to settle for his own base.

You can hate what Bush stands for but at least you know what that is. You know his political movement actually supports his rhetoric. Kerry doesn't have that luxury. The political movement leading Kerry is opposed to Kerry's tough-guy talk. Something has to give. People who support the war on terror and vote for Kerry are voting for marketing and not realism.

UPDATE: Tim Cavanaugh has some harsher words than I do.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004


Drudge exposes the current media October Surprise before they do.
WHAT THE F--- !!!?

Mr. Wrong war at the wrong time didn't always think so.

HE WAS FOR IT BEFORE HE WAS AGAINST IT Mickey Kaus points out that a McLaughlin group transcript from October of '01 shows Kerry saying:

I have no doubt, I've never had any doubt -- and I've said this publicly -- about our ability to be successful in Afghanistan. We are and we will be. The larger issue, John, is what happens afterwards. How do we now turn attention ultimately to Saddam Hussein? How do we deal with the larger Muslim world? What is our foreign policy going to be to drain the swamp of terrorism on a global basis?
But wait, there's more! This transcript is actually being pushed by the Kerry campaign, as proof that he called for more troops in Afghanistan. But if you look at the section where he's supposedly calling for more troops, you'll find that it's been rather creatively trimmed by the Kerry team. The good senator was actually referring to his past calls for more "boots on the ground", but reported himself satisfied with troop levels by the time of the interview, on October 16th, 2001.

Don't Kerry's people know about the internet yet?

Monday, October 25, 2004


I thought I saw it all and today John Kerry shows up in a coal miner's outfit. He was shooting birds over the weekend. He's simply for a stronger America. Bush will take away old people's Social Security and conscript the young. I guess it doesn't matter how phoney or desperate Kerry may be when you hate Bush.

Just think what the Democrats could have done with a serious candidate. I heard Joe Biden on Russert over the weekend and that guy just sounds like he's really plugged into world affairs. His critcisms of the Bush Administration sound reasoned and thoughful rather than opportunistic. Some say he's flaky and that might have come out in a domestic policy debate, but he would have commanded real respect in the foriegn policy square off and that's the only real issue in this election.

Kerry has substituted tough talk for seriousness. He's going to kill the terrorists! To kill terrorists you have to have a strong offensive policy and he doesn't have one. In this whole campaign have you heard just one plan of Kerry's in which he engages in some sort of offensive manuever against the bad guys? Democrats didn't even kill the terrorists that bombed the World Trade Center in 1993. His supporters know that it's just all talk. Half of them would vote for Nader if they took him at his word.

Kerry's plan is hoping that Bush killed enough bad guys in Afghanistan and Iraq that he won't have to do anything himself. If an attack does come then it will be Bush's fault for stirring up the hornet's nest in Iraq. If no attack comes it will be due to his serious approach to the problem. All bases are covered.

In short, Kerry is going to kill terrorists like O.J. is going to find the real killers.

I haven't seen it myself yet, but you can watch it here for free.

The friend who saw it last night and sent me this link said that the production values were weak and it's knocks you over the head with it's points, but the men being interviewed have some heart wrenching things to say.

Although I’m against early voting as a general principle, I decided that if I perish before the election that I can cancel out the vote of some octogenarian socialist that doesn’t make it either. I owe Bush at least that. Down here in Florida we can vote at selected public libraries and to my surprise the cue was ten people long during my entire hunt for DVDs and books.

The early vote kept me from the hour-long lines that I endured during the 1992 and 2000 elections, but I came away feeling cheated that I couldn’t come home and watch the returns which has become a habit with me every four years. I like watching returns better than the Olympics.

Bush was in Daytona two Saturday’s ago but I couldn’t get tickets despite my efforts. We’ve seen all kinds of campaigning around here lately. Cheney and wife were in Lakeland. Pataki, Barbour and Jeb did a tour at the Executive Airport. Sean Hannity and pals are coming to Orlando on Saturday to push the Bush vote. Being a swing state keeps you in the excitement.

Charlie Rangel wrote a bill and couldn't even bring himself to support it. MTV is trying to scare youngsters about the possibility. John Kerry's campaign has been trying to use draft scares get into office. I remember the immature me in college during the first Gulf War somewhat worried that I would get called up for duty. Having people shoot at you is no fun thought, but my libertarian personality was just as worried to have some Louis Gossett Sergeant yelling at me during training like in the Richard Gere movie. Sure Gere became the better person as a result of the Gossett ass-kicking, but I would have rather been the sleeping-to-noon guy, a job I was excelling at. I was living in soft America and wasn't ready to leave it.

They didn’t need me it turned out and they don’t need today’s soft Americans either. The military is staffed with professionals who choose to make it a career, career training or a means to a free college education. This has been used to claim that poor people are forced to join the military to get the benefits that other Americans get from their parents. Why can’t it be a positive that poorer people have a way to do it for themselves? My dad was drafted into the Army and he and my mother got nothing out of it but two years of living at the poverty level. Reagan’s pay raises in the 1980s made the military a middle class career or at least a decent internship.

I remember a particular liberal girl in college complaining that we spend too much on defense and it was easy with headlines of $500 toilet seats, but the largest single expenditure in the military is for salaries. She’d rather have seen the money spent to cure age-old societal ills. By cutting defense you either cut the pay of people serving to give money to people who don’t serve, or you decrease the number of people. We chose the latter in the 1990s and it has resulted in a current war of reservists and guardsmen. I did a story on a manager at work that spent 10 months in Kuwait during the current war. He’s been in the reserves for 18 years having been deployed for the first Gulf War, Bosnia before this one. He’s got four kids and good job and was hoping to transfer to an outfit in Georgia where he could spend the rest of his service training others. Instead, he was called back to duty in September. He’s a supplies guy and hasn’t been put into the line of fire, but he does get tired of being called up so many times. But he also told me that his military service made him grow up and he’s become a better man for it, much like Gere in the movie.

While a draft would have made me grow up quicker and would probably do the same to today’s kids, it’s inefficient. The Army spent who knows how many thousands sending Dad to basic and MP training and would have spent even more had he took their offer to go to Officer Candidate School. Despite the expensive training, the Army only got two years service out of Dad before he was gone. After two years of living near poverty in a foreign country there was very little reason for him to consider re-enlisting. So the government first had to force him at the point of a gun to join and then they lost him about the time he was becoming most valuable.

It’s Democrats that want a draft or the fear of one. The fear might be enough to put John Kerry in the White House, but an actual draft helps them even more. The suspension of college deferments during the Vietnam draft led to the anti-war movement. When Nixon ended the draft in the early 1970s the anti-war rallies dwindled to a few socialists and hippies and the occasional political opportunist like John Kerry. A new draft would make it impossible to fight any kind of offensive war because no President could take such a political chance. Look at how easy it would have been for Bush to coast to re-election this time by ignoring Iraq and patting himself on the back for our actions in Afghanistan. Taking the offensive has given him a political fight. Had his actions resulted in a draft, he wouldn’t stand a chance in this race.

A new draft would all but ensure that future wars will be fought strictly on the defensive. No Republican neo-con would want that. They’d rather have the best force that money can buy. The more we spend on the military the less likely we’ll ever have a draft which would suit most people just fine. The Democrats are the only ones who benefit from the draft and the only ones likely to impose one in the future. They’d love to have their hands tied because of negative public opinion associated with sending random 18 year olds into battle.

Sunday, October 24, 2004


From the Weekly Standard. . .

In 1967 there were 26 companies making vaccines in the United States. Today there are only four that make any type of vaccine and none making flu vaccine. Wyeth was the last to fall, dropping flu shots after 2002. For recently emerging illnesses such as Lyme disease, there is no commercial vaccine, even though one has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

All this is the result of a legal concept called "liability without fault" that emerged from the hothouse atmosphere of the law schools in the 1960s and became the law of the land. Under the old "negligence" regime, you had to prove a product manufacturer had done something wrong in order to hold it liable for damages. Under liability without fault, on the other hand, the manufacturer can be held responsible for harm from its products, whether blameworthy or not. Add to that the jackpot awards that come from pain-and-suffering and punitive damages, and you have a legal climate that no manufacturer wants to risk.

In theory, prices might have been jacked up enough to make vaccine production profitable even with the lawsuit risk, but federal intervention made vaccines a low-margin business. Before 1993, manufacturers sold vaccines to doctors, doctors prescribed them to patients, and there was some markup. Then Congress adopted the Vaccine for Children Act, which made the government a monopsony buyer. The feds now purchase over half of all vaccines at a low fixed price and distribute them to doctors. This has essentially finished off the private market.

WHEN AN UNUSUAL EPIDEMIC occurred at Fort Dix, N.J., in 1976, for example, the federal government decided to vaccinate the whole country against the new "swine flu." To the astonishment of Congress, the insurance companies refused to participate. Senator Ted Kennedy charged "cupidity" and "lack of social obligation." The Congressional Budget Office predicted that with 45 million Americans inoculated, there would be 4,500 injury claims and 90 damage awards, totaling $2 million. Congress decided to provide the insurance.

As Peter Huber recounts in his book Liability, the CBO's first estimate proved uncannily accurate. A total of 4,169 damage claims were filed. However, not 90 but more than 700 suits were successful and the total bill to Congress came to over $100 million, 50 times what the CBO had predicted. The insurance companies knew their business well.

Adding to the problem are the predictable panics about vaccines that spread among parents and are abetted by trial lawyers. In 1974, a British researcher published a paper claiming that the vaccine for pertussis (whooping cough) had caused seizures in 36 children, leading to 22 cases of epilepsy or mental retardation. Subsequent studies proved the claim to be false, but in the meantime Japan canceled inoculations, resulting in 113 preventable whooping cough deaths. In the United States, 800 pertussis vaccine lawsuits asking $21 million in damages were filed over the next decade. The cost of a vaccination went from 21 cents to $11.

Every American drug company dropped pertussis vaccine except Lederle Laboratories. In 1980, Lederle lost a liability suit for the paralysis of a three-month-old infant--even though there was almost no evidence implicating the vaccine. Lederle's damages were $1.1 million, more than half its gross revenues from sale of the vaccine for that entire year.

All this has made the flu an epidemic waiting to happen. Each year flu viruses circle the globe, moving into Asia in the spring and summer and back to North America in the winter. Surface proteins change along the way so that the previous year's vaccine doesn't work against the following year's variation.

Each year in February, the Centers for Disease Control meets with the vaccine-makers--all two of them--and decides which strain of the virus to anticipate for next year. Then they both make the same vaccine. Last year the committee bet on the Panama strain, but a rogue "Fujian" strain suddenly emerged as a surprise invader. A mini-epidemic resulted and 93 children died, only two of them properly vaccinated.

With several companies competing in the field, as was once the case, somebody would have been more likely to produce a dark horse vaccine. If that rogue strain emerged, the dissenting company would hit the jackpot, and there would be ample supplies of an effective vaccine, at least for those most at risk. In the "planned economy" of the CDC, however, there is no back-up for an unexpected turn of events. This year there isn't even a front line.

The market is greedy and heartless and all the rest, but it somehow saves lives in a way trial lawyers and government regulations do not.

Saturday, October 23, 2004


Court rules in Ohio.
A federal appeals court ruled Saturday that provisional ballots Ohio voters cast outside their own precincts should not be counted, throwing out a lower-court decision that said such ballots are valid as long as they are cast in the correct county.

The ruling by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals supports an order issued by Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell. Democrats contend the Republican official's rules are too restrictive and allege they are intended to suppress the vote.

READ: Democrats fear that they have a disproportionate amount of stupid voters.

But the WSJ says that the liberal media should be worried that the methods used to stop them will someday be used against them.
What's astonishing here is that this legal-political double team has gone on with barely a whimper of protest from the rest of the media. In fact, it is being celebrated as a defeat for all of those right-wing scoundrels who support President Bush. We understand that most of the press corps is liberal and desperately wants Mr. Kerry to win. Editors and producers may let that distort their coverage, but they usually aren't so blinded by partisanship that they can't see their own self-interest.

Now that this trial lawyer-government precedent has been set, who's to stop it if it next turns, as eventually it will, on the New York Times, or CBS? One of the most important protections that a free press has is independent corporate ownership, but what if the Nixon Administration had unleashed its lawyer friends and government pension funds on the Times Company when it was publishing the Pentagon Papers, or the Washington Post when it was digging into Watergate? If the standard now is that stirring controversy is a fraud against shareholders because it may cost ad revenue, a lot more media owners than Sinclair are going to become political targets.


Steve Sailer writes a really interesting in-depth piece on IQ comparisons of the two candidates based on SAT scores and the tests each man took in Officer's school.
On this tenth anniversary of the publication of the much-denounced The Bell Curve, it's amusing to reflect on one of the enduring ironies of American political life. Liberals tend to believe two things about IQ:

First, that IQ is a meaningless, utterly discredited concept.

Second, that liberals are better than conservatives because they have much higher IQs.

Thus back in May, hundreds of liberal websites, and even the prestigious Economist magazine, fell for a hoax claiming to show that states that voted for Al Gore in 2000 have higher average IQs—by as much as an incredible 28 points—than states that voted for George W. Bush.

(In reality, no such data exist. But, for what it's worth, Bush and Gore voters were identical in educational level, and the states they won were almost dead even in 8th grade achievement test scores.)

This is just the teaser. The body of the article examines the data.

Friday, October 22, 2004


Today, Tom Joyner was in Orlando trying to get his audience to the polls to vote early. No voter that truly cared enough about what was going on in the country would need to be energized by this kind of nonsense. But it's happening all over the country.

E Head sent me a great article a few days ago: When ignoramuses vote.
Let's be honest about this: Nothing good has ever come from just voting. America was not born because droves of people wanted to vote. America was born out of a desire to maintain inalienable rights and an educated group of men who knew what kind of government might complement that desire.

Today Mona Charen seconds the motion.
Seventy percent of voters apparently were completely unaware of the fact that the federal government adopted a huge prescription drug benefit as part of Medicare during the term of President Bush. Fully 65 percent did not know that the government had passed a ban on partial birth abortions. Some 58 percent acknowledged that they knew little or nothing about the Patriot Act (a figure Somin argues persuasively is probably low-ball). Sixty-one percent thought, incorrectly, that there had been a net job loss in 2004. Only 32 percent were aware that Social Security is one of the two largest expenditure areas in the federal government. Only 25 percent could correctly state that the Bush administration does not believe Saddam Hussein was involved in the Sept. 11 attacks. Only 22 percent knew that the current unemployment rate is lower than the average for the past 30 years.

Bush has led damn near every poll all year long. Conservatives only fear now is that this massive get out the uneducated and apathetic vote will put Kerry in the White House. Dedicated groups are busing them in from where ever. God only knows how many California illegal voters pulled the lever in 2000 our will in 2004. There is no shortage of Americans that are looking for some government easy-street and no shortage of politicians willing to trade that lifestyle for their vote.

Thursday, October 21, 2004


Nicholas Lemann writes a sketch of Bush in the New Yorker that better defines the way liberals see him than anything else I've read. It's presented as an objective portrait and he puts this over by giving us the likable Bush first and then hitting us with the two-timing double-crossing rackin' frackin' Bush as the article proceeds.

One of the Left's favorite arguments is that Bush has divided America. Of course it ignores how divided the country was when Clinton was President. Do you remember any media people accusing Clinton of dividing the country? Anyway, it's well documented that Bush reached out to Ted Kennedy before 9-11 to write the education bill. He spent a bunch of money on it and conservatives were none too happy with the results. It certainly hasn't kept liberals from moaning about the levels of education spending. Kennedy is now complaining about the bill he helped to create. Luckily for him, Lemann steps in and blames the whole thing on Bush.
By supporting Bush, Kennedy and Miller were doing him a big favor, and taking a risk, because they were going against the natural inclinations of one of the most important interest groups in the Democratic Party, the teachers’ unions; for Kennedy and Miller, supporting No Child Left Behind was what supporting a new tax would be for Bush. They went along because they believed that the bill, by setting tougher national standards for public schools, would help children; and, more to the point, they came away from their talks with Bush believing that he was going to pour new federal funding into the schools. They could tell the unions that they had got a lot more money for education in exchange for the standards and the extensive new testing regime that went with them.

Once the bill passed, there were no more chummy phone calls from Bush or invitations to the White House for Kennedy and Miller, and then, when the next federal budget came out, in January, the amount allotted to No Child Left Behind was ninety million dollars less than Kennedy and Miller felt they had been promised. Subsequent budgets brought the same pattern: no contact with the White House, and funding far below what Bush had indicated he would commit. The Secretary of Education, Rod Paige, has referred to the biggest teachers’ union as a “terrorist organization.” Today, the public-school world is up in arms and Kennedy and Miller have to take heavy, constant fire from their old allies.

This is expert level spin. Somehow Kennedy and Miller were doing Bush a big favor. Here are two guys in a minority party that have no power to create any legislation that they can hope to pass. Kennedy has been in the Senate since 1962 and Bush the big rube, as they like to paint him, somehow tricked brilliant Kennedy in supporting this.

What Lemann doesn't even consider is that Bush could pass any education bill he wanted without the help of Kennedy. If the Senate filibustered Bush’s education bill, Bush could point to Democrat obstruction. Bush was trying to de-politicize the issue with a bipartisan agreement. Who benefits more from this compromise, the just elected President whose party controls both houses of Congress or an aging Senator that doesn't even hold a leadership post? Bush knew that by reaching out to a famous liberal he could help quell the partisan bickering. Kennedy would get actual power to participate in the process. All Bush had to gain was goodwill of which he received none. It was a real chance to take education out of politics and look for solutions to the failing system.

Kennedy's complaint that Bush promised more money in the future is nothing but a great way for Kennedy to get more spending on education at that time without having to praise Bush around election time. How in the world was Bush going to spend enough money to please Kennedy? Too much spending on education is never enough to the leftwing. But standards according to them are impossible to implement and difficult to decipher and unfair to minorities.

Lemann should ask himself how good the New Yorker would be if the writer’s weren’t held to some standard, because he thinks Kennedy is a brave man for allowing the President to impose such things over the complaints of the labor unions. Maybe Lemann should further ask himself if a system in which government workers can dictate their own efficiency levels will self-correct. Does Lemann think that adding a magical amount of money to that system will change its nature?

The whole issue of Kennedy saying Bush promised more in the future neglects the simple fact that Kennedy is taking the reactionary stance on American education and Bush is taking the progressive one. Somehow this unusual and bold bipartisan move by Bush is derided because Kennedy didn’t get something in writing.

Anyway, the Lemann piece is full of this kind of thinking and a wonderful read for any rightwing person that can’t figure out why liberals hate Bush and love government programs.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004


Bob Tyrrell wonders. . .
When Sen. Jean-Francois Kerry denies the significance of the "label" being applied to him, is he trying to pull a fast one on the poor credulous voter? Are he and his surrogates convincing when they insist that "labels" are nothing but pieces of trickery deployed by the hellish Republicans? Well, if labels do not matter, pay no attention to the label on that bottle over there, Senator, the label marked "poison," or "dangerous to nursing mothers," or "do not take when windsurfing."

Labels are one of the liberals' favorite remedies. They demand labels on tobacco, ardent spirits, children's toys -- anything that offends their constituents and might assist in their election. I would not be surprised to hear that they had fashioned labels for basketballs ("Bounce With Care") or condoms ("Do Not Use With Alcoholic Beverages" or "May Cause Drowsiness"). Labels are the consumerists' best friend, at least when prohibition is impossible.

Yet now out there on the campaign trail the Democrats' cosmopolitan presidential candidate is objecting to "labels." He and his surrogates insist that labels are meaningless. It is another admission by them that the words they use and the positions they take at election time are unserious. They, who pride themselves in their high intellectual commitment, actually seem to believe that they can persuade voters that the philosophical and political positions they have taken over the years should not matter to us when we vote.

This is especially true for Democrat Senators that spend every 6th year trying to get a conservative pedigree before going back to their tax, spend, and judicial activism mantra.

Jennings said the media is now under the hot lights.

"I'm a little concerned about this notion everybody wants us to be objective," Jennings said.

Jennings said that everyone -- even journalists -- have points of view through which they filter their perception of the news. It could be race, sex or income. But, he said, reporters are ideally trained to be as objective as possible.

"And when we don't think we can be fully objective, to be fair," the anchorman said.

Sure you can be fair without being objective, but you should freely admit your biases up front. The problem with the MSM is that they hide behind objectivity and act surprised when we see a bias. In the old days when most cities had rival newspapers it was very common that their political opinions would differ but they didn't hide it.

Peter Jennings should tell us on what points he agrees with each candidate. It would better allow us to filter those positions through his coverage of the news.

Now that he has freely admitted that reporters have opinions, but that it shouldn't worry us, why doesn't he tell us what they are? Could he be worried that his audience won't agree and will choose to watch someone else?

Here's a website that gives the pros and cons of the proposed Amendments.

Monday, October 18, 2004


President Bush governs from a "love of power" and right-wing ideology rather than religious beliefs, and he has yet to hold anyone in his administration accountable for mistakes, former Vice President Al Gore said on Monday.

"I'm convinced that most of the president's frequent departures from fact-based analysis have much more to do with right-wing political and economic ideology than with the Bible," Gore said in a speech at Georgetown University.

"It is love of power for its own sake that is the original sin of this presidency," he said.

That's rich coming from a guy who was "raised" to be President.


John Kasich subbed for O'Reilly on Friday Night and he was really forceful in getting the guests to answer the questions. It was funny because the guest hosts are usually non-confrontational on that show. It wasn't until Sunday when I was mowing the lawn that I realized that Kasich was auditioning for the permanent job. They must really smell blood around that building.

Who are these important world leaders who support Kerry?
DUSHANBE, Tajikistan (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin said Monday that terrorists are aiming to derail President Bush's chances at re-election through their attacks in Iraq...
"I consider the activities of terrorists in Iraq are not as much aimed at coalition forces but more personally against President Bush," Putin said at a news conference after a regional summit in the Tajik capital, Dushanbe.

"International terrorism has as its goal to prevent the election of President Bush to a second term," he said. "If they achieve that goal, then that will give international terrorism a new impulse and extra power."

Saturday, October 16, 2004


Vulgar it was, but it's also a slap in the face to Hollywood leftists that were all but treated as traitors. More interesting is that I see that Shark Tale beat them at the Box Office last night which would be of no interest but. . .

I went with two other guys and we bought our tickets separately. I was first and asked for TEAM AMERICA, Dan went into another line, and then Sean was helped by the same guy as me. When we got to the theatre they directed us to different screens. A closer inspection of our tickets revealed that Sean and I were both given tickets to SHARK'S TALE and only Dan got a ticket for TEAM AMEIRCA. Dan said that he remembered me distinctively saying TEAM AMERICA. I even asked the guy if he had seen the movie yet and he said no, but that he was going to see it sometime that weekend. Then there was some cross talk about how irreverent these guys are.

I would have assumed accident, but I can never remember getting the wrong ticket in the past and the same exact thing happened to Sean. Why did it happen?

My first guess is that the once booming theatre has been less popular in the last few years with even newer stadium seating theatres being built not far away. Since theaters have to pay a higher percentage back to the distributor for newer films, maybe they decided to hide some numbers in a week old release to keep more money. It's not like either film was going to sell out anyway.

But could the answer be that they are trying to depress TEAM AMERICA'S numbers?

Friday, October 15, 2004

NY Times Versus Sinclair

Bush's record is fair game, but citing Kerry's record is dangerous.
Its plan sounds like the plot of a bad political novel, or an actual election in post-Soviet Russia. The Times and other newspapers reported this week that Sinclair, a Maryland-based company that reaches nearly a quarter of American households, would broadcast a propaganda film in the next two weeks that labels Senator John Kerry a liar, a traitor and a "willing accomplice" of the enemy during the Vietnam War. It claims, falsely, that his antiwar statements inspired the North Vietnamese to step up the torture of American prisoners, and it is filled with other distortions about the war in Vietnam.

Sinclair has instructed its stations, which are heavily represented in swing states like Florida and Wisconsin, to run the film without commercials in the evening. The company already compels them to broadcast editorials and commentaries favorable to Mr. Bush and his policies. But this is a whole new arena, and little different from making the stations give donations to the Republican campaign.

Could this be the result of the Campaign Finance Reform laws the New York Times pushed for. The mainstream media loved it back then because free citizens would be limited in their speech and media outlets could broadcast whatever they wanted. Here's a news outlet doing just that.
We would be just as appalled if one of the major networks forced its affiliates to broadcast "Fahrenheit 9/11" next week and call it a news program.

Oh, would you? Here's what Times critic A.O. Scott said in his positive review of Farenheit 9/11:
That Mr. Moore does not like Mr. Bush will hardly come as news. "Fahrenheit 9/11," which opens in Manhattan today and in the rest of the country on Friday, is many things: a partisan rallying cry, an angry polemic, a muckraking inquisition into the use and abuse of power. But one thing it is not is a fair and nuanced picture of the president and his policies. What did you expect? Mr. Moore is often impolite, rarely subtle and occasionally unwise. He can be obnoxious, tendentious and maddeningly self-contradictory. He can drive even his most ardent admirers crazy. He is a credit to the republic.

Oh, so Moore is all of those things and still a credit to the Republic? Why isn't Sinclair a credit to the Republic? Scott concludes his review with this:
The most moving sections of "Fahrenheit 9/11" concern Lila Lipscomb, a cheerful state employee and former welfare recipient who wears a crucifix pendant and an American flag lapel pin. When we first meet her, she is proud of her family's military service — a daughter served in the Persian Gulf war and a son, Michael Pedersen, was a marine in Iraq — and grateful for the opportunities it has offered. Then Michael is killed in Karbala, and in sharing her grief with Mr. Moore, she also gives his film an eloquence that its most determined critics will find hard to dismiss. Mr. Bush is under no obligation to answer Mr. Moore's charges, but he will have to answer to Mrs. Lipscomb.

Moore may be disingenuous, but Bush still has to answer to an individual he interviews? This is the very point of the Sinclair film. Kerry hasn't answered the Vietnam Veterans that he defamed in his testimony. The Times takes it as an afront that Sinclair stations pre-empted the Nightline show naming the war deaths, but the only story that Nightline has done on the Swift Vets were putting together a list of witnesses that contradict just one charge in the book. Nightline hasn't seemed all that interested in having a dialogue with the men on the larger issues in the book. They don't want Kerry to have to answer for anything.

Back to the Times Editorial:
The movie that caught Sinclair's eye, a 45-minute diatribe called "Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal," rehashes Republican charges that are familiar to everyone from the latest round of ads attacking Mr. Kerry's antiwar activities: primarily that he lied to the Senate in 1971 about atrocities in Vietnam and that his testimony and the antiwar movement in general aided the North Vietnamese and harmed American soldiers. This line of reasoning neatly dovetails with the Bush campaign's assertions that criticizing Mr. Bush's conduct of the war in Iraq is unpatriotic and harms American soldiers.

Because Bush agrees with the premise the film is has no merit true or not.
Sinclair says it is just trying to give its viewers news. Unfortunately, this film is not news, and not journalism. It makes no attempt at balance or fairness. Its interviews with 17 men who were imprisoned and tortured in Hanoi are powerful. But the narrator and producer, Carlton Sherwood, a former journalist on leave from his job in a company that provides "homeland security" services to the government, exploits these brave men and their distinguished service for a cause that he openly says is personal.

What was it that Michael Moore did to that poor lady who lost her son? Did the Times think she was exploited? No, she needed to be answered. And who will disagree that Moore's entire film is personal?
Sinclair's First Amendment defenses lack credibility because it denied those rights to "Nightline." At the time, Sinclair's spokesman, Mark Hyman, who doubles as a conservative commentator, said Mr. Koppel's program did not deserve to be broadcast because it had "no proportionality" and ignored other aspects of the issues. It was hard to see how that could describe a tribute to the war dead, but it's a perfect description of "Stolen Honor."

Sinclair didn't deny first amendment rights to NIGHTLINE. Ted Koppel has to no right to broadcast his program on an affiliate just because they also show Peter Jennings. Sinclair owns the stations and can pick programming according to whatever they want to see. The only reason they are showing this on Sinclair stations is that the networks that gladly showed Koppel's war dead show denied the makers of this film the same opportunity.

The Times talks about gigantic Sinclair and how dangerous it is. But Mainstream Hollywood has produced and distributed three anti-Bush Documentaries (Farenheit and Bush's Brain, highjacking catastrophe) and one pro-Kerry documentary (Going Up River) during the campaign. And don't forget that Pro-Clinton documentary (The Hunting of the President) that was supposed to remind us how Great America was before Bush.

Meanwhile other documentaries that are pro Bush or anti-Michael Moore aren't getting the same treatment. Both Michael Moore Hates America and Celcius 41.1 aren't finding their way into theatres. Censorship? The Times probablly thinks that's just the free market.

Thursday, October 14, 2004


The Smoking Gun has the suit filed against O'Reilly and it's pretty detailed. I was a big fan of his around the 2000 election, but watch less and less these days. He gets too crusading for me. The "Who's Looking out for you" stuff is a bit much. It's not that he doesn't make good points, but that he wants you to need him get the bad guys. For as much as I like Fox, I think Dennis Miller's show is maybe better than anything they have.

The stuff is detailed enough that it sounds credible. She worked for O'Reilly May of 2002 to Jan of 2004 where his sugesstive comments began. She then left for CNN. O'Reilly coaxed her back this July and then his comments get even more juicy. Now, how could this lady go back to work for O'Reilly, after her previous experience, if his behavior bothered her at all? Why didn't she file against him last year? O'Reilly says that it's extortion for money and that sounds pretty credible. Still, O'Reilly needs to answer for his behavior. Is she lying or just being oportunistic about his shortcomings?

This won't go away until O'Reilly characterizes the relationship himself.

I tended to think that Bush was too defensive many times. But he also had some of his best lines during the debate series. He did a better job of explaining Kerry's past record than he has in the past. Ted Kennedy being Mass. conservative Senator has been said since the Spring but not unwlecome once more for a national audience. He also did a good job of explaining Kerry's real thoughts on taxes and spending.

Kerry speaks better and has that authoratative way of explaining away these criticisms as distortions. But Kerry doesn't do a good job of going further and characterizing his own record. It seems to be enough for Kerry to merely disagree and talk about the wonderful things he will do, as if his nebulous plan in no way reflects his career in politics. Bush's hammering at who Kerry is has always seemed crucial and it's high time that he did this.

Kerry keeps looking for a punchline to humanize himself. Last night he said that Bush talking about fiscal responsibility is like Tony Soprano talking about Law & Order. It's not a great line, but he delivered it without the flair it could have used.

Schieffer was a decent questioner throughout seeming to aim tough ones at both sides. But his question to the candidates about whether homosexuality is a choice seemed too pop culture for a Presidential debate. Neither of these guys are scientists. Since Both Kerry and Bush are against same sex marriage, but both agree to the privacy of consenting adults, the better question would have been how does America best address the growing political demands of homosexuals.

Many seem to agree that Kerry invoking Cheney's daughter on the Lesbian issue was going too far. Kerry Campaign Manager, Mary Beth Cahill said after the debate that she is fair game. How in the world is someone's daughter fair game? Is Kerry trying to scare cultural conservative voters away from Cheney for having a lesbian daughter?

Kerry continues to invoke Reagan in his litany of great Presidents and Bush won't remind the audience that Kerry opposed everything Reagan ever stood for. He also lets Kerry go unanswered in this "rush to war" nonsense. We were attacked Sep 2001 and didn't attack Iraq until March of 2003. Though it didn't come up this time, the Kerry-Edwards line about how the inspectors were making progress is total nonsense. Saddam delayed their entry into the country for months so that he could secure his contraband and then he violated the terms of the inspections as he played a shell game with the equipment. You can't forget the audio intercepts that Colin Powell played for the U.N. Only after this process was shown to be a sham did the U.S. choose to invade. Since the debates are over Bush needs to get this point in his stump speech. It wasn't only that we thought Saddam had WMD it was that Saddam was playing the inspection game as if he were hiding something.

Bush reminded the audience of Kerry's Terrorism "should be a nuissance again" line. Kerry later said that the President has turned his back on the wellness of America. What pandering. Kerry has Bush turning his back on America on practically every issue. As if letting the free market do its thing has been terrible for America through history. It was individuals who invented America and wrote the constitution. It has been individuals that have made it great since. To hear Kerry speak you'd think that the government is the solution to every problem.

Bush was good talking about raising the standards of education rather than just spending more money. Education without tough standards is daycare. Hey, Bush can use that if he wants.

Bush was great explaining how Social Security was politicized in 2000 and something must be done. Hopefully Bush's position of letting younger workers control their own accounts will resonate. Kerry responded with the same lame Democrat talking points about how only old people should be considered.

The assault weapons ban expiration gave Kerry an opportunity to complain about the dangers of the AK47. It was a perfect example of how this issue has always been about scary guns and scaring people and very little about effective law enforcement. The AK47 was illegal before the 1994 ban and still is. The AK47 is an automatic weapon and they've been illegal in this country since the 1930s. Kerry can't find an example of the actual weapons on the list that will scare people, therefore he names a weapon that we've heard of.

Bush was more of what I like tonight than he had been in earlier contests. Does the Kerry campaign have another drunk driving charge to pull out of their hat the weekend before the election or is their bag of tricks now empty?

I thought Bush did what he needed to in this debate. Now the voters get to decide whether the War on Terror will be a pro-active or re-active one.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004


After Michael Moore, George Soros,, and CBS News have spent the greater part of the year trying to discredit Bush. Now the Sinclair Broadcasting Group has a different idea.
Sinclair's decision to order its 62 stations to carry a movie attacking Kerry's Vietnam record is drawing political fire -- not least from the Democratic National Committee, which plans to file a federal complaint today accusing the company of election-law violations. "Sinclair's owners aren't interested in news, they're interested in pro-Bush propaganda," said DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe, whose complaint will accuse the firm of making an in-kind contribution to the Bush campaign.

The article goes on to scrutinize the conservative owners in depth. Had Dan Rather put his sources to such tests he may still have a reputation. And let's not forget about the ABC memo:

Halperin Memo Dated Friday October 8, 2004

It goes without saying that the stakes are getting very high for the country and the campaigns - and our responsibilities become quite grave

I do not want to set off (sp?) and endless colloquy that none of us have time for today - nor do I want to stifle one. Please respond if you feel you can advance the discussion.

The New York Times (Nagourney/Stevenson) and Howard Fineman on the web both make the same point today: the current Bush attacks on Kerry involve distortions and taking things out of context in a way that goes beyond what Kerry has done.

Kerry distorts, takes out of context, and mistakes all the time, but these are not central to his efforts to win.

We have a responsibility to hold both sides accountable to the public interest, but that doesn't mean we reflexively and artificially hold both sides "equally" accountable when the facts don't warrant that.

I'm sure many of you have this week felt the stepped up Bush efforts to complain about our coverage. This is all part of their efforts to get away with as much as possible with the stepped up, renewed efforts to win the election by destroying Senator Kerry at least partly through distortions.

It's up to Kerry to defend himself, of course. But as one of the few news organizations with the skill and strength to help voters evaluate what the candidates are saying to serve the public interest. Now is the time for all of us to step up and do that right.

UPDATE: FCC won't stop the Doc.

Rudy Giuliani on John Kerry's NYT Interview
"I’m wondering exactly when Senator Kerry thought they were just a nuisance. Maybe when they attacked the USS Cole? Or when they attacked the World Trade Center in 1993? Or when they slaughtered the Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics in 1972? Or killed Leon Klinghoffer by throwing him overboard? Or the innumerable number of terrorist acts that they committed in the 70s, the 80s and the 90s, leading up to September 11?

The idea that you can have an acceptable level of terrorism is frightening. How do you explain that to the people who are beheaded or the innocent people that are killed, that we’re going to tolerate a certain acceptable [level] of terrorism, and that acceptable level will exist and then we’ll stop thinking about it? This is an extraordinary statement. I think it is not a statement that in any way is ancillary. I think this is the core of John Kerry’s thinking. This does create some consistency in his thinking.

"It is consistent with his views on Vietnam: that we should have left and abandoned Vietnam. It is consistent with his view of Nicaragua and the Sandinistas. It is consistent with his view of opposing Ronald Reagan at every step of the way in the arms buildup that was necessary to destroy communism. It is consistent with his view of not supporting the Persian Gulf War, which was another extraordinary step. Whatever John Kerry’s global test is, the Persian Gulf War certainly would pass anyone’s global test. If it were up to John Kerry, Saddam Hussein would not only still be in power, but he’d still be controlling Kuwait.

The only reason the election is so close is that you have to think a great many voters are so worn out by this fight that they'd just as soon ignore the problem again. Cinton did a good job of convincing us that these things were no big deal. Kerry would like to do the same thing. What else can he do? The core of his base will not allow him to go on the offensive.

A Kerry victory is a wait and see approach with shrugged shoulders during future attacks. "Didn't we negotiate with these people? Why are they attacking us? Hummm. Curious."

Scrappleface has a good take.

Monday, October 11, 2004


Reason Magazine talks to Joel Miller about his book Bad Trip: How the War Against Drugs is Destroying America.

Reason: Several members of the Bush administration have pushed the line that if you buy illegal drugs, you're funding terrorism. Is that true?

JM: The answer is yes—partly—but it's their fault. The laws against drugs are what create the market in which drugs are so incredibly profitable. There's no other reason a coca bush should be worth more than a privet shrub. Without prohibition, terrorists could no more profit from drugs than from growing bananas. They'd have to turn to other sorts of funding.

Reason: Such as?

JM: Well, FARC in Colombia has made a fair bit by kidnapping people, and before the Soviet Union fell, terrorist organizations were funding themselves through subsidies from Communist governments. But today nothing is so lucrative as drugs; kill prohibition and you hit their bottom line.

Edward G. Robinson and his rival gang leader in Key Largo reminisce about how great prohibition was. They blame themselves for the gang wars that got it repealed. They promise each other that when prohibition returns they’ll work together. Instead of getting the old prohibition back they just took advantage of newer ones.

Didn’t we pass Campaign Finance reform in this country in order to keep millionaire politicians from being corrupted by political money? Yet we pretend that middle class cops surrounded by millions of dollars worth of drugs can be perfectly trusted and poor kids on the streets won’t choose to sell the stuff if we send a harsh enough message.

Communism that controlled every part of people’s lives couldn’t stop a black market and yet our free and open society can? Maybe it’s mean of me to say, but I care less about the fools who want to ruin themselves with drugs than I do about the damage this prohibition is causing. And self destructive people won't be stopped anyway..

Sunday, October 10, 2004

THE VILLAGE (M. Night Shyamalan) Spoiler warning

I was just reading back among Roger Ebert's answer man columns and I saw this answer to THE VILLAGE:

"The Village" stirred up a lot of activity in the Answer Man's world, with 162 readers passionately defending or attacking it in about equal numbers. Some of its defenders argued that the "surprise ending" was beside the point.

Ben Angstadt of Irmo, S.C., wrote: "So did you totally miss the point that 'The Village' was about the politics of terror and George W. Bush, or did you just not care?"

And Erik Goodwyn of Cincinnati wrote -- spoiler warning: "What I mean is that even though the creatures aren't scary once their secret is revealed -- that's the point! Shyamalan is saying something very pointed about the peculiar nature of fear."

Several other readers saw the film as an allegory for terror used as an excuse for political repression. That didn't occur to me, but as a theory it doesn't make the film any more entertaining, in my opinion.

You could argue that the film was a lessor effort from a gifted director, but lessor efforts by the great ones are usually as interesting as happy accidents from medicore talents. One thing that makes the film interesting to me is that people aren't sure about the theme. How often are filmgoers confronted with thinking about movie's meaning these days?

I thought the point of the film is that evil and disharmony are a natural occurring phenomenons and you cannot simply run away from them. The village tried to create their own insulated society and yet a psycho (Adrien Brody) bubbled up within. I don't think Night was commenting on repression, but the human inclination to avoid or ignore harsh realities that will eventually find them anyway.

The village used fear the way opponents of confrontation use fear. Stay out of their space and don't make them angry and they won't bother us. Bad things happen because of action rather than inaction. The elders created an enemy that's consistent with their own fears.

Anyway, my reading is exactly the opposite of the reader who felt that it was an indictment of George W. Bush. Maybe my views are off, but I also tend to think that Night leans Right. SIGNS is about as conservative a movie as you can expect to find in Hollywood. Gibson has to confront evil in order to understand his faith. SIXTH SENSE and UNBREAKABLE both deal with redemption in conservative terms. UBREAKABLE is about struggling to find your higher purpose. SIXTH SENSE is about confronting your fears to use your abilities for good.

What did you guys think THE VILLAGE was trying to say?


Pundits seem most interested in Bush's insistence on responding to a Kerry point over Charles Gibson's direction. I've seen the clip many times now and can't make out if Gibson was trying to move on or if he was going to give Bush a moment. Either way, Bush wasn't going to take no for an answer. It's supposed to say something about his temperament, I think. Bush lost control!

We're living in a culture of big organizations. These organizations seem to value temperance over truth a little too much. Professionals are supposed to conduct themselves in certain dignified ways meaning that calm liars aren't wrong they just have a different point of view. But angry men who value truth are little too scary to be trusted. The calm ones are trusted with promotion. The vocal ones are held back.

Many professional politicians like Kerry have spent their lives kissing up to the power elite to get ahead. They're much more interested in the power than policy. They can calmly argue any point that they think has traction regardless of its real merit. After all, its part of the game they play to increase their power. Kerry has the luxury of indifference because he isn’t held accountable for anything. Think about all of the things he is now proposing as a Presidential candidate. How many of these ideas did he introduce as bills in his 20 year Senate career?

Bush was a businessman that was coaxed into politics and thought he might make a contribution and go back home. He has a boss’s point of view. When something is wrong he gets angry because he has ultimate responsibility. We’ve all seen this behavior in our own bosses. They don’t suffer fools or liars gladly.

It’s the overriding reason that Bush’s response to terrorism was so dramatically different than Clinton’s. Clinton loved the power and liked to use it, but he never accepted any responsibility for his actions or the results of his policies. Clinton felt more entitled to lead because of his brilliance. You never got the idea that he was bothered by anything more than his legacy.

Does anyone think that Kerry has a burning desire to get the terrorists? The fact that his statements and voting on terrorism have changed according to the politics of the time gives me the feeling that terrorism is just another political hurdle to jump in order to get a better job.

I don’t think Bush gives a damn what historians or the Washington elite think. He has his own standards and goals, namely killing terrorists. Even if Kerry says he's for exactly what we want him to be for, can we be sure that those issues will even be on his radar by inauguration?

Saturday, October 09, 2004

JANET LEIGH (1926-2004)


Hitchcock specialized in icy blondes, but Janet Leigh's coldness didn't balance itself with enough sexiness or beauty the way Kim Novak, Tippi Hedren or Grace Kelly's did. Maybe that's why he only worked with her once. Still the shower scene is probably the most famous and parodied Hitchcock segment of them all. It seems similar to the way Fay Wray was forever known as the King Kong kidnap victim despite making nearly 100 other films.

Leigh did make two other classic films, TOUCH OF EVIL and MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE. I didn't find her particularly memorable in either. Her most important contribution may be Jamie Leigh Curtis. It's not to say that she wasn't talented. She just didn't have enough of whatever it was to be a legend in her own right.

Rodney Dangerfield was a funny guy and as a child of the 80s I'll always remember him from CADDYSHACK and BACK TO SCHOOL, two otherwise average films that made me laugh when I was a kid. I probably saw Caddyshack 20 times back then.

Friday, October 08, 2004


Bush looked life a different guy. He was clear with his facts and strong in his delivery. He even invoked Clinton. He did a much better job of contrasting himself with the typical Democrat position on things. He had passion yet better control. This is the guy I want to see for the next month.

UPDATE: Gallup has it as a draw.

If that's the case Bush needs to be contrasting his policies with the 1990s a little more. Drop the $87 Billiion argument and the flip flopping. Instead, remind voters that liberals tend to campaign conservatively on many topics to attract swing voters, but they don't have the heart to follow-up those policies in practice. Kerry won't risk American casualties in this war because it will turn off half his base. Therefore, his defense policies will have no teeth. He was most honest when he said he wanted a summit. He's much more comfortable making a show of peace like Carter and Clinton did with North Korea in 1994 than in actually enforcing the peace. Bush talked about this a little. He might be better articulating it if he gave Kerry credit for sincerity, but made the argument that those approaches have never brought lasting peace to anyone.

The debate agreement not letting the candidates question one another hurts Bush here. I can see why Bush didn't want this because past debates have shown Kerry is a master at the practice. He trounced William Weld with it in the 1996 Senate debate. But if Bush could ask Kerry to name a time when summits and negotiations with madmen resulted in peace rather than more war it might illuminate the subject. Of course, Kerry wouldn't answer a question like that directly. He'd say something like Bush's rush to war cost American lives. But Bush could say that the inaction in the 1990s cost more American lives on 911. Then he could remind voters that history is full of sober men that thought they could negotiate with irrational people or toothless do-gooders to stave off war. The results were always far more casualties than would have resulted if the force had come earlier.

UPDATE #2: European papers give win to Bush.

A good dissection on how the big media coddles liberals. Patty Murray is slimed by being quoted according to her local papers.

Thursday, October 07, 2004


The A.P. selectively reminds reader's of Kerry's record.
"Senator Kerry assures us that he's the one to win a war he calls a mistake, an error, and a diversion" Bush said in a speech designed to reclaim the campaign offensive midway through a series of four debates.

"But you can't win a war if you don't believe in fighting," he said of his challenger, five times a decorated Vietnam War veteran.

Wait! says that media. Kerry has all those medals from thirty years ago. No mention of his senate voting record of downsizing the military or his vote against the 1991 Gulf War.
"... Iraq is no diversion. It is a place where civilization is taking a decisive stand against chaos and terror, we must not waver," Bush added.

The president unleashed his newly sharpened attack nearly a week after a scowling, unsteady debate performance that led to a gain in the polls by the Democratic nominee and one day after the Iraq war dominated the only vice presidential encounter of the race.

Don't forget that Bush lost that debate. Please forget that Cheney won the next one.
The president also spoke as the administration's top arms inspector said he had found no evidence that Iraq produced any weapons of mass destruction after 1991. Charles Duelfer said Saddam Hussein's capabilities to develop such weapons had dimmed rather than grown in the years preceding his ouster, contrary to claims by administration officials in the run-up to the U.S.-led invasion.

Don't listen to Bush because weapons inspectors contradict him. We won't mention the numerous Kerry speeches in which he claimed that Saddam had the same weapons.

Next the Democrats get to say harsh things unchallenged.
Democrats produced a list of "Top Ten Lies" they said Cheney had uttered in 90-plus minutes on the debate stage. Leading off was a claim - erroneous, aides quickly conceded - that Edwards was so neglectful of his Senate duties that the two men had never met before shaking hands on Tuesday evening.

"Someone who lies about the little things will lie about the big things too," Democratic Party chairman Terry McAuliffe told reporters in a conference call.

Wouldn't this have been a good time to mention that MCAuliffe didn't have much of a defense on Kerry's Christmas in Cambodia lie?
The Kerry campaign released a new ad accusing Bush of "desperately attacking" in the wake of one debate in which Kerry shone and another in which Cheney did "not tell the truth" on Iraq and his ties to Halliburton, the oil services company he once headed. Officials declined to say how much air time the commercial would receive.

My guess is that it won't need much airtime if AP officials are going to parrot the charges. They could skip advertising altogether and just tell the AP what they'd like to say in an ad.
But it was Bush who delivered the strongest attack of the day.

"In Iraq, Senator Kerry has a strategy of retreat; I have a strategy of victory," he said.

Broadening the criticism, he added, "My opponent's endless back and forth on Iraq is part of a larger misunderstanding. In the war on terror, Senator Kerry is proposing policies and doctrines that would weaken America and make the world more dangerous."

He was no less forgiving on domestic issues. "My opponent is a tax-and-spend liberal. I'm a compassionate conservative," he said.

They're calling Cheney a liar, but Bush pointing out Kerry's position is the strongest attack of the day.

These guys are "objective" journalists.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004


Game, set and match to Cheney.

Nothing happened in this debate to change anyone's mind on policy, but Cheney showed gravitas and he even refrained from smashing some easy lobs. It would have been easy to cite the Wall Street Journal article that demonstrated that high tax rates can easily be avoided by rich people like John Edwards who shielded $13 Million dollars in taxes during one year. He also didn't cite the doctors in North Carolina that Edwards put out of business with his junk science claims.

Though when Cheney was criticized on Haliburton he got a little angry and delivered his sharpest passage of the night. He pointed out how Edwards has missed most votes and committee hearings and although Cheney is the presiding officer of the Senate, it was the first time they have met. Cheney was also strong when he pointed out the sacrifice made by Iraqis to contrast the Democrats position that Americans are on their own.

Cheney also made the point that he and Bush are committed to winning this war on terror and the wannabees are following the polls. When Edwards brought up no connection between Iraq and 911 Cheney answered back correctly that Iraq has a long track record of supporting terrorism.

Edwards wasn't bad. He speaks well and articulates his positions well. But he was more like Bush was in the first debate in that he had a few talking points he wanted to reiterate. It seems like his job was to remind America that Haliburton is evil, Iraq was a mistake and we can get cheap drugs from Canada. Oh yeah, and that we'll tax the hell out of people that aren't you. I loved that little fireside chat at the end about how America was crumbling financially.

UPDATE: The "we've never met" line was too good to be true, but the fact that Edwards couldn't simply contradict it at the time showed that Edwards hasn't been around Cheney all that much. "I know I've met him but where?" the thought bubble can be seen above Johnny's head while Cheney makes the larger point that Edwards doesn't take his Senate job all that seriously. Bob Dole resigned so that he could campaign. Edwards and Kerry have taken leave with pay.

I heard Fred Barnes and Jonah Goldberg liken the situation between Edwards the showhorse and Cheney the workhorse. That about sums it up.
The newest work from the South Park Creators
But Parker and Stone have also added another element: a team of Hollywood actors who descend on Korea (I think) for a misguided peace conference. The group of air-headed puppets, led by Alec Baldwin, is dubbed the Film Actors Guild (and referred to by its unfortunate acronym).

Among Baldwin's liberal associates are usual suspects Tim Robbins, Susan Sarandon, Sean Penn, Danny Glover, Janeane Garofalo, George Clooney, Ethan Hawke, Matt Damon and a few who seem like they were thrown in for no reason: Helen Hunt, Samuel L. Jackson and Liv Tyler.

I am told that none of these actors gave permission for their likenesses to be used. Most will not be amused by their depictions.

Baldwin, in particular, comes in for a lot of baiting, as he is often referred to facetiously as "the greatest actor in the world." Luckily, the real Alec has a sense of humor. Hopefully, Sarandon won't mind when she gets her head blown off.

These guys may be crass, but this is much needed parody.

UPDATE: Sean Penn has children and cares so much that . . . well. . . how dare they?

Monday, October 04, 2004


It seems to me that Bush's major problem is that he was pussy-footing around the major issue in this campaign. I don't care how many times John Kerry flip flops. We all know what he really believes regardless of who he is pandering to in a particular speech. John Kerry is uncomfortable with American power. He's more worried about how we're preceived to his international friends than he is about future terrorist attacks. Someone has told Bush that the media will criticize him for attacking Kerry's patriotism. Yeah the media is going to do everything it can to give a Kerry a lifelong pass for his internationalism over Americanism. But voters might actually be worried to learn Kerry's real record.

Kerry continues to refer to Bush's failed policies. Bush needs to remind voters that it was the failed policies of the Clinton Adminstration that led to 911. He shouldn't do this to beat up on Clinton, but to remind voters that Kerry will bring a return to those policies. Kerry struts around bragging about his great plan that includes another ridiculous summit as if a committee could solve terrorism. He might even pass a law outlawing terrorism. But that's about as much as you can expect.

The 1990s brought us the first attack on the World Trade Center, the bombing of the U.S. servicemen at Khobar Towers, the embassy bombings in Africa, and the attack on the U.S.S. Cole. Ask a Democrat to name Clinton's most significant response to terrorism during his eight years, because you can bet that Kerry's response to terror will fit somewhere within that range.

Bush is a good man who shows resolve and he's no dummy, but he's only held political office for ten years and he relies on these idiotic handlers like Karl Rove too much. It was evident from the debate that he was fed stock lines and responses and told to stay clear of contrasting himself with Clinton. If he can't stand up and make that contrast before the election he's in danger of losing.

And if Bush did lose, it would help conservatives in a number ways. If nothing else, gridlock will return to Washington. No more will Congress be rubber stamping these ridiculous spending proposals for a friendly White House. Also, Hillary Clinton's presidential asperations will be over and four years of her would worse medicine than 8 years years of any of the rest of them. But if Bush is defeated never again for a generation will a President try a bold move to end terrorism. It will be band aids and half measures from here on out. No leader will go on the offensive because they won't risk it politically. They'll become slaves to events instead of dynamic leaders.

It's easy to criticize Bush for actually doing something in a world where inaction and talk are treated as seriousness and resolve is treated as a flaw. I'm not anxious to live in an America at a time of great crisis with a leader that was more interested in expanding the welfare state than funding intelligence and defense.

There are a lot of people in the world that want to see America humbled. It's no different than the opinion many hold for the New York Yankees. But if America were the Yankees a Kerry election would be like George Steinbrenner and half the team shaving points to make the rest of the division feel better. What good is winning if we're shunned at the winter meetings?

I know Bush doesn't talk in private parsing his words like he did in the last debate. He needs to stop repeating Kerry's ridiculous phrases and start reminding America what the fight with terrorism will look like if we return to policies of the previous adiminstration.

Sunday, October 03, 2004


The Aesop fable with the dog who is carrying a bone and sees his reflection in the water is a good parallel of Middle Class voters and Democrats. You'll remember that the dog dropped his own bone in the water because he wanted to have the bone in the reflection. The end result was that he got no bone at all. The Democrats are playing the part of the reflection in recent political campaigns and we're the dog.

Any Republican tax cut they argue benefits the wealthy too much. Implied within that argument is the notion that people are better off foregoing their own tax cut because others will be receiving more money than them. Letting the government keep their money via higher tax rates means more money will be kept from wealthy people and the implied result is a government than can spend more of rich people's money on them.

What's never said by Democrats is that people who have already been removed from the tax rolls are the only ones that benefit from high taxes. Anything they get from the government is gravy. And, of course, politicians benefit from high taxes because then they can hand out special tax breaks to their friends via friendly deductions. They don't get to pick and choose special favors when tax rates are low across the board.

The rest of us pay the bills. Oh, of course, Democrats favor a middle class tax cut in theory. Bill Clinton went on and on about a middle class tax cut during the 1992 campaign and yet he never got around to proposing one in eight years in Washington. Bait and switch is illegal at Best Buy. but common in Washington.

I've heard Kerry promise a middle class tax cut in this campaign too. It's a great trick especially from a guy who spent 20 years in the Seante voting against tax breaks no matter how modest.

Don't forget that you're a taxpaying dog and Kerry is your beautiful reflection. Walk on home dog and be happy with what you get to keep. Kerry is standing by waiting for you to open your mouth.

Saturday, October 02, 2004


There was a big controversy in the 1980s when Ted Turner began colorizing films. Woody Allen testified in Congress. Orson Welles told Ted Turner to keep his crayons off his films etc. I didn't understand the hoopla. They weren't eliminating the classic B&W versions. Colorization meant that the best prints of the the film to be colorized were brought together in one place in order to eliminate the bad frames in any one print. The result was that many classic films were restored for one reason but utilized in another. A few years later when Turner began releasing the classics on VHS, the boxes said "In Glorious Black and White." Just like New Coke made Coke Classic an even stronger brand, Turner's colorization made people think about and appreciate black and white. I read once that Casablanca sold only 1,000 colorized copies. I don't know what kind of ratings the colorized films got on TV, but it would seem that colorization was a bust financially.

I say all that to ask why no one is upset at what George Lucas has done to the Star Wars films. In some ways he has improved them. Many of the visual effects look sharper and many of the masking flaws have been cleaned up. Good idea. But other parts of the films have been altered for content or just the sake of change.

The added scene in which Han Solo meets Jabba the Hut in the original Star Wars is useless. He looks like a cartoon and acts like a Godfather parody. The way his eyes get big when Han steps on his tail would have been better suited to a Ren and Stimpy segment. His very presence in episode four ruins the anticipation of seeing him in the final film. On top of that, the bit is a rehash of the scene between Greedo and Han in the Cantina. In short, the scene is not only fivalous but cheapens the film and the series as a whole dramatically.

For as bad a choice as the added Jabba scene may be, the scene between Greedo and Han in the Cantina is even more objectionable. Lucas became bothered that Han shot Greedo the way he did. Of course Greedo has a gun aimed at Han point blank and even says that he's been waiting a long time for this before Hans pulls the trigger and saves himself. No matter, because Lucas now sees it as a cold blooded killing. Was it any more cold-blooded than when Indiana Jones pulls out his gun and kills the swordsman in Raider of the Lost Ark? Anyway, Lucas adds a ridiculous effect that shows Greedo shooting at Han first and missing, although Ray Charles wouldn't have missed from that distance. Now Hans is supposed to be justified in killing the gremlin looking monster because the monster shot first. Since this is the first scene in the series that shows Han as a take-action guy, it gives an entirely new spin on the events that are to come later.

Originally we're introduced to Han the rogue who is only interested in saving his own skin, and we gradually see him change into a guy who believes in the cause. This character has a great tradition in movie history. It's Bogie from Casblanca repackaged in space. What if Ted Turner wanted to go back and have Bogie try to save Peter Lorre at the beginning of that movie to make him look more human? Let's cut that "I stick my neck out for nobody" line. That's practically what Lucas has done here. We get the less cold and therefore more easy-to-convert Han in the new fashionable Lucas version.

Does Lucas have the right to do this? Yes. He owns the movies and can do whatever he wants. Ted Turner had the same rights to alter the films he owned. Maybe Lucas has a greater right because he created the films he's altering, but his damage is greater. Turner's altering resulted in a better version of the originals, Lucas has vowed that the original films will never be released on DVD. He wants to wipe them out.

Lucas is a sad case. He made a series of classic films when he was young and ambitious. He then created the most famous special effects company in movie history. His reputation was set and then he decided to continue the Star Wars series in the late 1990s. Not a bad idea, but instead of letting someone else direct the films like he did with EMPIRE and JEDI, he decided to do it himself. The result is an incoherant mess. Too much CGI, poor acting, and weak storylines that makes it seem impossible that he can weave this third film in a way that matches what is to come in the the classic three. I think he knows he can't do it and that's why he changed the end of JEDI to place Hayden Christensen ghost where the old English actor use to reside. He's got to do everything he can to remind us that these movies go together.

I don't care that he wants to weave the six films as one. I just wish he would let the old films stand on their own as well. He should release both versions like Turner did. Let the marketplace decide which version of the films are better. Lucas is being stingy when he insists that we can only watch the version he like best today.

UPDATE: Jonathan Last goes even further than I