Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Vivid special effects.

I picked up the classic Godzilla vs. Megalon at a library book sale last month. He has that certain fire-breathing appeal that spans generations.

Here is what is meant by spin: "Vivid special effects highlight this classic monster fantasy. 1976. 90 minutes."

Conservatism is always popular after times in which liberal experimenting and good intentions have failed. Had Carter been President during khaddafi we might still be fighting him today. Conversely, if Reagan had been President in 1979 the Iran situation might not exist anymore. Would Saddam have become a nuisance in the 1990s with a Republican President? Would North Korea have gotten off easy in 1994? The American people want to elect Presidents with grand ideas about reshaping America during peacetime, but those elections also result in giving problem spots in the world a way to grow. Once those problems get to be too much, a Republican has to come aboard and right the situation.

John Kerry could have won this election if only Democrats as a whole had any credibility on the issue of national security. Even with the media pretending that post Vietnam Democrats are up to the job, the American people can see with their own eyes. The 1960s split America in a way that is now described as red state - blue state. The chaos at the Democrat convention in 1968 and Humphrey's loss in the general election changed the dominance of the Democrat Party at a national level. The national party would no longer run strong Defense candidates like FDR, JFK and LBJ. Instead, they would combine the Welfare state mentality of those men with a hippy mentality on foreign policy. It wasn't noticeable to rank and file Democrats until Jimmy Carter's lack of resolve in Iran made many in the party (and most southerners) bolt. Thus was born Reagan Democrats. You could just as well call them JFK Democrats or LBJ Democrats, either way they were Democrats in ways that their national party no longer was.

Democrats could still win local elections and congress because of pork and personal service, but the President would have to be like Republicans on defense in times of trouble. This was especially true in the south where conservatives trusted their entrenched Democrats, but turned their backs on new ones. When I moved to Pensacola in 1986, the combination of Democrat Earl Hutto and Democrat Bob Sikes had held a seat in Congress since World War II. Hutto stepped down the same year (1994) that Republicans took over Congress. It was an easy Republican win and the birth of Joe Scarborugh. A Democrat in the same district now will lose the election by 20 or more points. A lot of guys didn't see the transformation coming on the local level.

Bo Johnson (D) was the Speaker of the Florida house and a popular local politician. He also stepped down in 1994 and his right-hand man ran for the seat. He was trounced by an unknown 28 year-old Republican with no political experience. People didn't care about Bo Johnson's party man. 12 Years of Reagan-Bush and two years of Clinton showed many ticket splitters in the south that times needed to change.

A lot of states in the heartland will still send Democrats to congress or vote them in as President during tough times. But they’ll vote for the Republican President when the chips are down. Clinton and Carter both won in times of peace, but America won't take those chances in times of strife.

George W. Bush didn’t divide the country. The division happened as an aftermath of Vietnam when the former cold warrior Democrats had a change of heart and moved to a position that mirrored that of France and Great Britain during the rise of Hitler.

LBJ trounced Goldwater in 1964. He ate him for lunch. Jimmy Carter is the only Democrat to win more than 50% of the popular vote since, and he barely did that even with the Watergate scandal hurting Ford. The Democrats took a grand party that dominated the White House from 1932 to 1968 with the slight blip of a non-political Republican 5 star general and turned it into a minority party over the issue of Vietnam and foreign policy.

The Democrats split their party over the Civil War and it allowed Lincoln to win the election, reshape the country, and put them firmly in the minority. They’ve done it to themselves again. The question is no longer how good the Democrat candidate is, but whether the world situation is such that we can afford him.

Interesting take by Jonah Goldberg. I admit this tendency to muck things up just for the challenge of having to clean up the mess.

Forget conservative and liberal for a moment. Think order and disorder. Disorderly times are good for orderly parties. Orderly times are good for disorderly parties, largely because mankind can always be counted on to cure its boredom by mucking things up.
It might be worth pondering that a Republican party that succeeds on fighting terrorism and cultural rot may be a sign of the GOP's health and simultaneously a sign of the society's problems. Surely, America would be better off if the GOP didn't have terrorism as an issue to take advantage of. Why? Because terrorism is really, really bad. Similarly, America would be better off if parents didn't need to buy V-chips and home-school their kids. In other words, enough celebrating the GOP's success and more worrying about why it's successful.

Monday, November 29, 2004

The Boys at John's Wedding Rehearsal Posted by Hello

A South Korean woman paralyzed for 20 years is walking again after scientists say they repaired her damaged spine using stem cells derived from umbilical cord blood. Hwang Mi-Soon, 37, had been bedridden since damaging her back in an accident two decades ago.

The use of stem cells from cord blood could also point to a way to side-step the ethical dispute over the controversial use of embryos in embryonic stem-cell research. So-called "multipotent" stem cells -- those found in cord blood -- are capable of forming a limited number of specialized cell types, unlike the more versatile "undifferentiated" cells that are derived from embroyos. However, these stem cells isolated from umbilical cord blood have emerged as an ethical and safe alternative to embryonic stem cells.

Clinical trials with embryonic stem cells are believed to be years away because of the risks and ethical problems involved in the production of embryos -- regarded as living humans by some people -- for scientific use. In contrast, there is no ethical dimension when stem cells from umbilical cord blood are obtained, according to researchers. Additionally, umbilical cord blood stem cells trigger little immune response in the recipient as embryonic stem cells have a tendency to form tumors when injected into animals or human beings.

For the therapy, multipotent stem cells were isolated from umbilical cord blood, which had been frozen immediately after the birth of a baby and cultured for a period of time. Then these cells were directly injected to the damaged part of the spinal cord.

Seems this development sidesteps the moral issues involved with embryonic stem cell research. Nobody can really get outraged at culturing umbilical cord cells, which are heading either for the trash bin or the pickling jar.

California recently passed a ballot initiative that allowed for $3 billion in state funding for embryonic stem cell research, in the absence of federal funding. I think it is fair to say that there is absolutely no question whatsoever that this is the future of medicine, moral outrage not withstanding. Other countries will be pouring funding into this research, and it is good to know that the US will have a foothold in the industry. This will be the biggest boon for California since the personal computing industry, which was the biggest boon since the aerospace industry, which was the biggest boon since the fimmaking industry, which continues to be the biggest source of revenue for our country.

Go ahead, speak your piece, it's the democratic way. Our nation is filled with blokes who want to speak up but fear reprisals from antagonists in positions of power. One such American, who served with John Kerry in Vietnam, was not so impressed with his commander, and was horrified at the notion of Kerry becoming president.

Gardner told this story and others to radio stations and he wrote a piece for the local paper. Then, he says, he received a phone call from John Hurley, the veterans organizer for Kerry's campaign. Hurley, Gardner says, asked him to come out for Kerry. He told Hurley to leave him alone and that he'd never be for Kerry. It was then Gardner says, he was threatened with, "You better watch your step. We can look into your finances."

Twenty-four hours later, Gardner got an e-mail from his company, Millennium Information Services, informing him that his services would no longer be necessary. He was laid off in an e-mail -- by the same man who only days before had congratulated him for his exemplary work in a territory which covered North and South Carolina. The e-mail stated that his position was being eliminated. Since then, he's seen the company advertising for his old position. Gardner doesn't have the money to sue to get the job back.

I thought this sort of thing only happened in John Grisham novels.

Thursday, November 25, 2004


Instapundit has put together a list of how we can help the troops.


I haven't read the DaVinci Code, but Ebert takes a couple of swipes at it in his review of NATIONAL TREASURE. The film also gets some harsh words.
That I have read the book is not a cause for celebration. It is inelegant, pedestrian writing in service of a plot that sets up cliff-hangers like clockwork, resolves them with improbable escapes and leads us breathlessly to a disappointing anticlimax. I should read a potboiler like The Da Vinci Code every once in a while, just to remind myself that life is too short to read books like The Da Vinci Code.

The Da Vinci movie, set for 2005, will be directed by Ron Howard, who should study this one for clues about what to avoid. The central weakness of the story is the absurdity of the clues, which are so difficult that no sane forefather could have conceivably believed that anyone could actually follow them. That the movie's hero, named Benjamin Franklin Gates and played by Nicolas Cage, is able to intuitively sense the occult meanings of ancient riddles and puzzles is less a tribute to his intelligence than to the screenplay supplying him with half a dozen bonus A-ha! Moments. An A-Ha! Moment, you will recall, is that moment at which a movie character suddenly understands something which, if he did not understand it, would bring the entire enterprise to a halt.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004


Homage today to our inspirational leader Ben Franklin. I knew that Franklin favored the turkey over the bald eagle as our national emblem but I never knew why. Finally my extensive Ben Franklin collection serves a purpose. The following is from Carl Van Doren, Benjamin Frankin, p. 708.

Franklin said he wished the bald eagle had not been chosen as an emblem of America. "He is a bird of bad moral character; he does not get his living honestly; you may have seen him perched on some dead tree near the river, where, too lazy to fish for himself, he watches the labour of the fishing-hawk; and, when that diligent bird has at length taken a fish and is bearing it to his nest for the support of his mate and young ones, the bald eagle pursues him and takes it from him. With all this injustice he is never in good case; but, like those among men who live by sharping and robbing, he is generally poor and often very lousy. Besides, he is a rank coward; the little kingbird, not bigger than a sparrow, attacks him boldly and drives him out of the district.... The turkey is in comparision a much more respectable bird, and withal a true original native of America.... He is (though a little vain and silly, it is true, but not the worse emblem for that) a bird of courage, and would not hesitate to attack a grenadier of the British Guards who should presume to invade his farmyard with a red coat on."

Now I've seen eagles haul goats off the side of a mountain on Animal Planet, so maybe Ben was watching a lazy cousin. I don't know, I think it's kind of fitting that our bird soars highest and pretty much keeps to himself despite being the strongest and baddest of all birds of prey. That has worked pretty well as a national policy. Getting roasted by the millions does not convey the same notion of autonomy and strength.

Happy Thanksgiving, Junto Boys.

The original trial was the backdrop of Jim McManus' excellent book Positively 5th Street. Now the conviction is overturned.
A jury in Las Vegas, Nevada, acquitted a former stripper and her lover of murder Tuesday in the 1998 death of casino heir Ted Binion.

But the seven-man, five-woman jury convicted the pair of plotting to steal an $8 million cache of silver Binion kept buried in the desert.

It was the second trial for Sandy Murphy, 32, and Rick Tabish, 39, in Binion's death.

They were convicted of murder in 2000 and faced life in prison, but the Nevada Supreme Court overturned the verdicts in July 2003 and ordered a new trial.

Murphy sobbed when the retrial verdicts were read. Tabish smiled as his lawyers slapped him on the back.

McManus paints such a nasty detailed picture of his murder in the book that this acquital changes everything. I wonder he'll have a new chapter in upcoming editions.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004


E's Spector insight was interesting. Bob Novak had an interesting behind the scenes yesterday.
Without a doubt, Frist could muster the votes to block Specter as chairman and name a more reliable Republican (such as Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona). But that would leave a wounded, probably vengeful Specter. He might well cross the aisle to the Democratic side, perhaps forcing a change in committee ratios of the parties. Even if he remained in the Republican caucus, Specter would still be on the Judiciary Committee and could be counted on to raise havoc with Bush's nominees.

What to do with Specter, then, was explained by one of the committee's most politically astute Republicans, who asked that his name not be used: ''We have to scare the hell out of Arlen before he gets to be chairman -- scare him so badly he will act properly as chairman.''

Frist told Specter he must produce a written statement pledging his cooperation as chairman. What he wrote pledged only that judicial nominations would get out of his committee. That was not good enough, Frist told him Wednesday night. He would have to pledge support for Bush judges and declare himself open to a rules change blocking filibusters of judicial nominations. Specter must have been frightened. He wrote a new four-paragraph statement incorporating the majority leader's demands.

On top of this, I think Frist will work to eliminate the filabuster of judges rules if push comes to shove.

...which is no news but good news.

HOLLYWOOD, Fla.--Half of a ten-year-old grilled cheese sandwich said to bear the image of the Virgin Mary has sold on eBay for $28,000. The winning bidder wasn't disclosed on the Web site, but was identified by The Miami Herald as GoldenPalace.com, an online casino. The company's CEO says he plans on using the sandwich to raise money for charity.

Are the online gambling shops big into raising money for charity? I was not aware of that. Can I take the tax write-off for contributions or are these charities offshore?

*Note: Fact check reveals famous quote is wrongly attributed to Barnum. It was his competitor Hannum who said "there's a sucker born every minute."

These lists are always flawed but fun to read nonetheless. Is John Lennon's Imagine really better than any single Beatles song? And speaking of the Beatles how can their obscure song Rain make the list when Get Back, Got to Get You Into My Life, Hello Goodbye, Golden Slumbers, and even Revolution (for crying out loud) didn't.

Chuck Berry has 6 songs despite the fact that all of his songs have the same general sond. A cursory glance shows this:


Eric Clapton - 1 song Tears in Heaven
Bobby Darin's Mack the Knife instead of Beyond the Sea
The Doors - only 2 songs Light My Fire and The End.
Paul McCartney - only 1 solo song Maybe I'm Amazed. Where's Live and Let Die? Band on the Run? Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey etc.?
No Dire Straits
No ZZ Top
No Santana
No Van Halen
Dude will decry one single Billy Joel song and no Boingo

Pleasant surprises:

Johnny Cash 3 songs
Ray Charles 5 songs -
Sam Cooke's A Change is Gonna Come #12
Bob Didley - 3 songs
A lot of Elvis, Beatles and Beach Boys

I bought Dave Marsh's 1001 Greatest singles ever made years ago. His list goes up to 1983. He's got I HEARD IT THROUGH THE GRAPEVINE #1 -- Rolling Stone has it at #80. RS has Dylan's Like a Rolling Stone best. Marsh says it's #7.

With the resignation of Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist seemingly imminent, and the possible retirement of several other justices within the next four years, legal pundits are predicting the first shakeup of the U.S. Supreme Court in more than a decade.
The current court has been intact longer than any other in nearly two centuries. But with the justices averaging 70 years old and several in ill health, as many as four could retire during President George W. Bush's second term.
Turley noted, however, that the replacement of Rehnquist on its own "would not make a huge difference" in the makeup of the court, because it will be "a one-for-one swap for a conservative seat."

"The real change," he said, "will occur if we see the retirement of Justices Stevens, O'Connor or Ginsburg. There are a host of doctrines that currently hang by a single vote. They spread across the spectrum of constitutional and statutory law, ranging from federalism cases to prisoner rights cases to terrorism cases."
Joseph L. Hoffman, a professor of law at the University of Indiana who clerked for Rehnquist, suggested that Bush might head off any Senate battles by choosing more moderate candidates than anyone expects.

Interesting times. Bush has the opportunity to change the landscape for a generation. I am told by people who have met him that Specter is so arrogant that he was just being Specter when he challenged Bush on judicial appointments the day after election day, but I still wonder if that wasn't part of the deal they cut. Specter would have lost the PA primary without Bush and the GOP machine. Bush and Santorum backed Specter rather than true conservative Pat Toomey, and they wouldn't have done that without the promise of some serious payback. The timing and content of Specter's remarks were just too blatant and too stupid not to be calculated. He's a longtime senator, a career politician, and I just couldn't believe he didn't have more sense than that. So I wonder if Specter didn't take a bullet for the president, making remarks that would bring attention and controversy to the Senate filibustering issue, resulting in Specter agreeing to play ball.

I'm not sure I see the downside of Bush moving to the right. The next Republican candidate will be more of a centrist, and as such will be as likely to pick up the resentment vote as the more centrist blue candidate will be.

Monday, November 22, 2004


Sam Walton made his fortune by selling goods at low prices in downscale rural and exurban communities where other retailers saw little profit. Mehlman won the election for Bush by increasing the Republican vote in downscale rural and exurban counties where neither party used to think many more votes could be won. Wal-Mart is now the most successful retailer in history. Mehlman seeks to be the most successful party-builder ever. No one made much money betting against Sam Walton. I wouldn't bet against Ken Mehlman either.

The objective of war is to win. Not to destabilize or disrupt the enemy, but to utterly destroy it. The Old Testament is clear on this point, as is every handbook on military strategy. Michael Barone explains the GOP's systematic efforts to destroy its opponent in this wonderfully concise article. In the wee hours of Nov. 3, Mr. Barone was artfully and systematically explaining on Fox News why the election was over hours before the MSM could bring themselves to call Ohio for Bush. I went to my computer around 1 a.m. and again at 3 a.m. and pulled up the county by county returns for Ohio and you could see the picture taking shape like a work of art.

Krauthammer says Bush has no fear because he does not have a vice president who is going to be his heir, so he can spend his political capital freely. He doesn't have to do things in order to set up his vice president to be president. He says, "There's an unusual feature to the second Bush administration's extraordinarily important but has been almost entirely overlooked. For the first time in a half century, a two-term presidency will end without sending out its vice president to seek a mandate for succession at the next election. Vice President Cheney will not run for the presidency. Everybody knows it. When these eight years are over, the Bush-Cheney administration will simply close up shop. Nothing like that has happened since the 1950s.

We should all be so lucky.

Instapundit hasn't forgotten.
It has now been two months since CBS President Andrew Heyward promised that the investigation would be over and public in "weeks, not months."

It's been months, now. Just another statement from CBS that turned out to be false?

Meanwhile, CBS remains an object of mockery like this from Dave Barry in the Baltimore Sun: "Yes, it is a tragic but statistical fact that every Thanksgiving, undercooked turkeys claim the lives of an estimated 53 billion Americans (source: Dan Rather). Sometimes the cause is deadly bacteria; sometimes - in cases of extreme undercooking - the turkey actually springs up from the carving platter and pecks the would-be carver to death."

Headline carries the joke. No accompanying article necessary. Courtesy theonion.com.

For a president doing bold things and with plenty of good news to report, Bush's invisibility is baffling. Maybe it was strategic, as in, the less you say, the less they can pound you with. But in a second term, having claimed a mandate, it would be nice to finally know what our president has to say for himself, directly and through his press team.

Bush's press officers surely are diligent patriots who do the very best they can. That's the problem. It is hard to identify a recent chief executive who struggled so hard to communicate. True, Bush is no Ronald Reagan. But that does not excuse his press operation. It lacks creativity, responds leisurely to most criticism, and lets muddled perceptions linger rather than correct them by relentlessly deploying facts and comments.

"This media team has no vision, no guts, and no instincts," complains one Bush insider. "This election should have been a blowout of Reaganesque proportions. Instead, it was a nail biter. There's only one place to point the finger: at the press staff."

Scott McClellan defines dry white toast. He plays everything straight.

It's not too late for Bush to make the case. One State of the Union address, two interviews, and a handful of press conferences in 2004 made Bush's position on the issues a lot more mysterious than they are. He repeatedly said on the stump, "You know where I stand and you know I say what I mean and mean what I say," but that didn't help all those who had never heard him say it and meanwhile were hearing others put words in his mouth every day.

You're the president, man. Take charge and speak up.

Commissioner Stern hands out stiff penalties for the bar brawl also known as Pacers at Pistons. The disciplinary actions were approved by a unanimous 1-0 vote, and since Stern is also the review board, expect them to stick. Ron Artest loses 73 games and a cool $5m. He can probably also expect to spend some time at civil court - after the nicked-up fans return their messages from the personal injury lawyers.

This is essentially the Bush doctrine: make a severe example of a notorious bad guy or you will be dealing with bad guys at every turn.

It's harsh, it's brash, and some would say insensitive and unloving. It also works. Don't expect to see another player head into the stands any time soon.

Powerline says it could be more than what was reported.
Judging from your comments, I don't think you guys realize the seriousness of what happened in Chile. Let me put it into perspective: the president has been marked for death by hundreds of terrorist groups; he is in a foreign country, one where there have been near contintuous riots against America and against him, personally, over the Iraq War; as he's walking into a banquet hall, the local police intentionally cut him off from his security detail.

If the first thought that popped into your mind when you heard about that was not "assassination," then your mind is still laboring in a pre-9/11 world.

It's entirely possible that rather than "rescuing" his detained Secret Service detail, Bush in fact saved his own life. If there was a plan, if this wasn't just a random act of rudeness by the Chilean police (why would they do that?), then Bush's quick thinking may have forced the would-be attackers to abort the operation.


November 19, 2004 -- YESTERDAY'S events in Little Rock had less to do with a library retrospective of the Bill Clinton years than a campaign launch for the prospective presidency of Hillary Clinton.

Doubt it? Then why it was Hillary, not Bill, who appeared on all the talk shows? It's his library. But it's her candidacy. So she did all the softball TV interviews, not him — reminding voters of her availability for 2008 while seeming to talk about the '90s.

The timing is perfect: Democrats demoralized by John Kerry's defeat get to behold hope for the future.

It also re-launches Hillary as a red state kind of girl. Needing to live down her recent New York pedigree, Mrs. Clinton gets to renew her identification with Arkansas so she can avoid being labeled a bi-coastal liberal.

And it gives Hillary a moment to bask in the reflected glory of her husband's middle-of-the-road policies and presidential programs. To wash away the Kerry identification with gay marriage and opposition to the war in Iraq, Hillary can summon forth memories of welfare reform, balanced budgets, anti-crime initiatives and the Defense of Marriage Act her husband signed.

In short, the library gives Hillary the chance to moderate her image, relocate her venue and update her profile to position her for a White House.

Promoting a "nonpartisan" event, interviewers let Hillary get away with anything she wanted to say. For example, when she spoke of the transparency of the architecture of the library building as symbolic of the openness she deems admirable in government, Larry King didn't ask why the names of the donors to the library remain cloaked (let alone why Hillary sued to keep the records of her health-care task force secret) if she is so committed to transparency.

Plus, Hillary now has all the staffing she needs for a White House run. When she sought the Senate seat, she used the White House staff. Now she has the library workers to prepare her background papers, develop policy initiatives and provide the staffing overhead it takes to run for president. Funded with donations from Democratic Clinton allies, the library is really a support network for Hillary's candidacy.

Run, Hillary, run. As Dick Morris has made a living off saying, Hillary is no Bill Clinton.

The only threat of a Hillary candidacy, and it is a real one, is the explicit or implicit promise of Bill's third term. When Bill ran, a vote for Bill and Hillary was thrown in. When Hillary runs, a vote for Hillary and Bill gets his constitutionally prohibited third term. Inappropriate (from a hate-filled conspiratorial right-wing fundamentalist point of view), but not illegal!

I loved Brad Bird's THE IRON GIANT. It was an intelligently crafted story with great commentary on the running threads of Cold War era ideology, from hipsters to hawks. It had an anti-weapon vibe without feeling like liberal propoganda. Bird's new movie, bankrolled by the boys at Pixar, is more great stuff. It begins with the great premise that crusaders for justice are forced by incessant lawsuits to hang up their capes and go into the superhero relocation program, where they are forced to subside in mediocrity like the rest of us. A lesser creative team would have built eighty-five minutes on this high concept, but Bird, Lassiter, and the boys give us no less than a 105-minute adventure which pays homage not only to the superhero genre, but the action-adventure genre in general, and the James Bond franchise in particular.

An interesting side note is that the four of us rarely make it out to a movie together. We caught a Sunday 415P showing in Calabasas. The theater was so packed that we ended up in the second row. Seated in the front row, not far from us, was another family of four headed by A-list action star, Will Smith. He was not in disguise, not "forced underground" like the hero on the screen, and often, his distinctive honking laugh was the loudest in the theater, as he slapped his thigh and whispered to his wife. It was neat to be reminded that there are incredible people in our midst every day who are not ashamed of their abilities or forced to hide their specialness to placate the masses who demand a level playing field so that we all may feel special. As the villain in the film proclaims: "When everyone is special, then nobody will be special."

Sunday, November 21, 2004

But even Clinton's achievements of prosperity and peace now look hollow. In hindsight, we know that much of the prosperity was a bubble fueled by venal corporate criminals. And there was peace only because the Clinton White House chose not to see that Osama Bin Laden had already declared war on us.

The yearning for those days is foolish, but probably harmless - except for the Democratic Party. If its leaders look to Clinton for anything other than a pep talk, they are courting disaster.

American politics, like everything else, changed on 9/11. As the last election proved, the game is no longer about traditional standards of interest groups and issue positions. Biography, charisma and the polish of education matter far less than they did just four years ago.

The new gold standard is at once more elusive and more precise. For every would-be leader, the test is this: Are you rock-solid? Those who cannot say yes, and convince voters, need not apply. Weakness, waffling, nuance, process - they're luxuries from a bygone era.

Bubba had his run. His time, and times, have passed. He isn't ready to accept that, but we must. The future demands it.

When Reagan died earlier this year we were reminded of how he restored American confidence and strength. The Presidential campaign showed us how important those qualities are in our current situation. The opening of Clinton's library demonstrated that his brand of politics may have been good for him personally, but there is little there for us to use in our current fight. Much like Carter's attempts at peace in the Middle East, Clinton's efforts yielded praise and no success.

In times of peace or faux peace we can pat ourselves on the back for "thoughtful" policies of negotiation and agreement that have no chance of actually working. Since the press and academia share the liberal view that every madman is really just a misunderstood statesman looking for a negotiated compromise, guys like Clinton and Carter will win the Nobel peace prizes for their naivety, while the heroes that bring peace will be derided as dangerous war mongers.

Saturday, November 20, 2004


I am about a third of the way through Wolfe's newest novel, I Am Charlotte Simmons, and it hasn't yet let me down. His first novel BONFIRE OF THE VANITIES dealt with New York City and Wall Street in the 1980s. 1998's A MAN IN FULL was about an Atlanta real estate magnate losing his grip on his business. CHARLOTTE SIMMONS is about college life at an upscale academic university through the eyes of several characters, most notably the title character, a brilliant young lady from a poor family in the North Carolina mountains. The school is also seen through the eyes of geeky boys, "student" athletes and frat boys each with their own take on the importance of college life.

If it weren't written by Wolfe I wouldn't have taken the time with the subject matter. Wolfe is the only current novelist that I'm anxious to read. His three novels in 16 years are far too few and yet it may be the time that he takes that makes them worth it. Wolfe does a great job of making you root for certain people and laugh at the others. It's a shame that the BONFIRE movie was such a debacle, but much of Wolfe's genius lies in the fun way he tells a story and those descriptions can never quite translate to the screen in the same way.

This story opens with the frat boys walking home drunken through the orchard only to happen upon the Governor of California (the next day's graduation speaker) and a young lady in flagrente.

Bango! Something grabbed Hoyt's right shoulder from behind in a terrific grip, and a tough-guy said, "What the fuck do you punks think you're doing?"

Hoyt spun around and found himself confronting a short but massively muscled man in a dark suit and a collar and tie that could barely contain his neck, which was wider than his head. A little translucent coiled cord protruded from his left ear.

Adrenaline and alcohol surged in Hoyt's brain stem. He was a Dupont man staring at an impudent simian from the lower orders. "Doing?" he barked, inadvertently showering the man with spit, "Looking at a fucking ape-faced dickhead in what we're doing?"

The man seized him by both shoulders and slammed him back against the tree, knocking the breath out of him. Just as the little gorilla drew his fist back, Vance got down on all fours between his legs. Hoyt ducked the punch, which smashed into the tree trunk, and drove his forearm into his assailant - who had just begun to yell "Shiiiiit" from the pain - with all his might. The man toppled backward over Vance and hit the ground with a sickening thud. He started to get up but then sank back to the ground. He lay there on his side next to the big exposed maple root, his face contorted, holding one shoulder with a hand who's bloody knuckled were gashed clear down to the bone. The arm that should have been socketed into the stricken shoulder was extended at a grotesque angle.

Vance whispered, "Whatta we do?"

"Run like a bastard," said Hoyt.

Rolling Stone Magazine serielized that chapter in August and I've been waitng for the book ever since. This is my first day off in 12 days and I think a good deal of it will be spent reading the 700 or so pages.

Friday, November 19, 2004


The one-time most beautiful woman in the world is now a hunched-over old lady. I wonder how well Liz would have weathered if she had adopted a Madonna-esque workout regimen rather than spending her days flashing jewelry and wafting musk. One might suggest that, despite the platitudes, she was constantly driven by insecurities to prove her worth via material possessions.

Liz has gone through so many husbands, she obviously was unable to find fulfillment for very long in the arms of a man. In fact, the only men she speaks endearingly of are the ones who died before she could leave them (Burton and Todd were the two great loves of her life, Taylor told W Magazine.) So Liz, always sickly and always rather trampy, winds up dying alone, with the eyes of the world upon her. She has forgone the loving embrace of seven husbands for the professional touch of a bevy of doctors who will tend to her withering body in the sunset days.


JFKerry reportedly told Geraldo at the Clinton Lie-bearing that the bin Laden videotape cost him the election by reminding people of the terrorism threat. OK, let's assume that tens of thousands of people in Ohio alone had forgotten about the terrorism threat and were reminded to the point of switching their votes. If so, what it reminded them is that Osama is now reduced to attacking by VHS rather than with enriched uranium. It reminded them that we are winning the war on terrorism under Bush's leadership. And it reminded me that where you cannot be loved, you must be feared. Fear of bunker-busting bombs is a powerful motivator, and I reckon a disruptive influence on the management of high-impact terrorism plots. I read the following article right after 9/11 and it remains the final word on the subject.

(former Army Lt. Col. Ralph Peters, in Fast Company, Oct 2001 issue)
Where you cannot be loved, you must be feared.
September 11 was a monstrous act for which we must take revenge. Politically, President Bush can't say that we're going to take revenge on these guys, but that's what we're going to do. And we need to because it's psychologically important. Revenge is necessary sometimes when the acts committed against you are so hideous.
America fights for abstract values. Increasingly, our enemies fight for God and revenge. If we want to tamp down terrorism to the smallest level, we have to make a brutal example of Al Qaeda, everybody in it, and every network related to it. We have to be ready to tear down one or more governments that support terrorism. If we aren't willing to make a severe example of the guilty, we will only encourage them. It's a harsh doctrine, and I know it sounds cold, but if you aren't willing to put the fear of the United States into all the would-be supporters of terrorism -- if you're not willing to make them afraid of you -- this problem is going to go on forever.

When it comes down to it, this is the attitude more Americans want at the helm. Americans like to saddle up and shoot bad guys, and so far no amount of liberal education has been able to beat that out of us.

A new survey shows college professors in the humanities and social sciences are 10 times more likely to vote Democratic than Republican. In the survey, conducted by a professor at Santa Clara University, more than 80 percent of professors say they’ve tended to vote Democratic in the past decade. About eight percent say they’ve tended to vote Republican. What’s more, the survey shows that professors of anthropology and sociology are the most likely to vote Democrat, while professors of economic and political science are the least likely.

And what were the issues of this campaign? Big-picture economic and policy issues.

(Only 80 percent? Look for survey sample bias.)

For years the left has thought that by shouting real loud, nobody would notice they had nothing to say. Now they've lost again, and all I seem to be hearing post-defeat is the same losing refrains.

Appointing a black woman to Secy of State is a big deal. But the left gets, and needs, upwards of 86% of the black vote, so what can they do? Parody the appointment and offend black voters, or support the appointment and thereby support Bush? (The horror!) Here's your answer:
Cartoon 1: Condi as warmonger = setback to civil rights
movement, women's movement

Cartoon 2 (same page): Condi as token and pawn

Cartoon 3 (third panel): Condi as pawn to Rummy and Cheney, that is, token

The left is committed to losing strategies. And I imagine it must just be eating them up that Bush and Condi are actually friends. Blacks are to patronize, not to befriend. We see who the real racists are. Apparently what they really believe is that anything an actual black person achieves is due to unmerited largesse. Wait, come to think of it, that has been a plank in their platform for generations.

A radio talk show host drew criticism Thursday after calling Condoleezza Rice (news - web sites) an "Aunt Jemima" and saying she isn't competent to be secretary of state.

John Sylvester, the program director and morning personality on WTDY-AM in Madison, said in a phone interview Thursday that he used the term on Wednesday's show to describe Rice and other blacks as having only a subservient role in the Bush administration.

Sylvester, who is white, also referred to Powell as an "Uncle Tom" — a contemptuous term for a black whose behavior toward whites is regarded as fawning or servile.

As for Rice, "they're using her for an illusion of inclusion," he said, adding that he feels her history as national security adviser showed a lack of competence.

Such utter frustration from the Left after losing this election. To say that Rice is the "illusion of inclusion" or that she is subservient ignores the reality that Democrats have always put blacks into lowly cabinet departments so that the adminstration will look like America. Joycelyn Elders was a big disgrace for example. Here Bush appoints someone black to the most important cabinet position and it is somehow regarded as suspect. It's too bad for liberals that the most competent diversity candidates are Republicans.

Thursday, November 18, 2004


Puny travel umbrella not keep rain off man Al Gore has become.

Most underappreciated job in the Secret Service? See fellow at right of photo.


Trial post by E.

Last year the Steelers were on their way to a lame 6-10 finish. This year out to 8-1 with a team the experts said was worse than last year and with injuries at key positions - QB, OT, NT, LB, FS, CB, RB, TE.... What is the difference? What is the "fine line" that separates winners from losers on an even playing field?

Cowher: I don’t think there are many teams that are that far away. I really believe that. We get done with the Baltimore game [2nd game, L 13-30] and a lot of people said let’s start talking about next year. Then eight weeks later we are the best team in football with the same guys. How does that happen? I think it’s a very fine line. I have said it before. I don’t know if we are that much better than the teams we are playing. We’re doing some of the little things that it takes to win football games. You start losing games and you start to question yourself. You start to question some of the things you are doing. Guys are stepping up. Guys are playing unselfishly. Guys are playing hard, aware and smart. We are staying focused each week and I think we recognize that we aren’t that much better than teams we are playing. We recognize that and understand that preparation is such a big part of it. We can’t just go out there and expect to show up and think we are going to win the game because we are the Pittsburgh Steelers. It isn’t going to happen that way. And they understand that. It’s all about preparation. It’s all about perspective. It’s all about making sure that you continue to not lose sight of how you got to where you are. As long as we continue to do that and continue to do the little things, you can enjoy, you can embrace it, but you keep everything in perspective. They’ve done a good job of that.

So what matters? Every team has skill. It's a happy blend of hard talent and "soft skills" that separates winners from losers: things like Attitude. Perspective. Discipline. Effort. Focus. Execution. Selfless team play. Game planning. Each player fufilling his role. Sacrifice. Those are the things that cause one team to drive the other off the ball for 60 minutes or to create big plays on defense.

Application: I wonder from time to time how the military - the leadership and also the rank and file - is able to keep its focus, keep up morale, and keep registering decisive victories in the face of relentless media pressure which, intentionally or unintentionally, minimizes, disparages, and undermines the U.S. war effort on each of those points.

Which I suppose is why media types don't often become generals (except occasionally in baseball), but generals do often become media types. That being the case, which camp really understands - the knowers or the doers? Those who watch or those who play?


Subsidized by pardoned criminals.
THE LAST THING we want to do is dampen the festivities in Little Rock, where the Clinton Presidential Center is opening today, but does anybody remember Marc Rich? He's the fugitive financier who was pardoned by President Bill Clinton on his way out of office -- after Mr. Rich's ex-wife, songwriter Denise Rich, gave $450,000 to the foundation raising money for this very same library. The pardon scandal spotlighted a dangerous gap in financial disclosure rules: Sitting presidents are free to raise millions for their future presidential libraries without having to reveal who is writing the checks.

This lack of disclosure was outrageous even before the pardon scandal erupted: Mr. Clinton was vacuuming up six- and seven-figure pledges from his White House perch, and there was no way for the public to know what interests these donors had before the government or what favors they might be receiving. It's even more outrageous that this practice remains legal after the revelations of Mr. Clinton's final-days pardons. The House passed a measure two years ago that would have required disclosure, but the Senate failed to act; with the topic out of the headlines, lawmakers seem to have lost interest.

Disclosure would be nice, but we know enough without it.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004


It was my initial idea to make this a group blog, but I was the only one really interested in writing at first. Brother John wrote some stuff early on, but it's mostly been me. It's about 20 months old now and we're adding two new members. Today, Kevin Seeger and Eric Seeger officially join the Junto Boys Blog. You'll have noticed that they have already had a presence under the Junto Boys links.

Ben Franklin wrote about his Junto club in the autobiography. It was Kevin who reccomended that book to me and Eric that reccomended it to him. It would be appropriate then that those two would come aboard and help move this ship forward. Welcome, to the Junto!

Tuesday, November 16, 2004


The U.S. military is investigating the videotaped fatal shooting of a wounded and apparently unarmed Iraqi prisoner by a U.S. Marine in a mosque in Fallujah, a Marine spokesman said.

The dramatic footage was taken Saturday by pool correspondent Kevin Sites of NBC television, who said three other prisoners wounded a day earlier in the mosque had also apparently been shot the next day by the Marines.

On the video, as the camera moved into the mosque during the Saturday incident, a Marine can be heard shouting obscenities in the background, yelling that one of the men was only pretending to be dead.

"He's (expletive) faking he's dead!"

"Yeah, he's breathing," another Marine is heard saying.

"He's faking he's (expletive) dead!" the first Marine says.

The video then showed a Marine raising his rifle toward a prisoner lying on the floor of the mosque. The video shown by NBC and provided to the network pool was blacked out at that point and did not show the bullet hitting the man. But a rifle shot could be heard.

"He's dead now," a Marine is heard saying.

The shooting is shown so quickly that it is impossible to tell whether the body was moving before the shot. The only movement which can be seen is the body flinching at the moment the bullet hits.

Sites reported a Marine in the same unit had been killed just a day earlier when he tended to the booby-trapped dead body of an insurgent.

NBC reported that the Marine seen shooting the wounded Iraqi had himself been shot in the face the day before, but quickly returned to duty.

We're not fighting the country of Iraq any longer. Using Mosques as forts isn't allowed either. So here you have terrorists using places of worship to kill our guys and we're somehow supposed to treat them as legitimate soldiers of a legitimate army fighting in a legitimate battlefield.

The U.S. Military may expect more from our fighting men, but I don't. Neal Boortz said today that we're supposed to be better than them. My feeling is that they're not scared enough of us to quit fighting us. The other side has demonstrated that there are no rules in this fight. Why are we holding ourselves to a set of rules that the barbarians won't follow? The only result will be more U.S. Servicemen getting killed.

UPDATE: Sowell says it better than me (as Always). At least I beat him to it.

Thursday, November 11, 2004


<>I always thought it a mistake to legitimize Arafat as a player in the peace negotiations. A man who gained fame killing the innocent should have been executed not bargained with. It makes you wonder whether creeps like Osama Bin Laden would have existed without the example of our lenient treatment of Arafat. The world learned the wrong lesson from us. The whole point of terrorism is to get people to listen to your argument. If you kill the terrorists and ignore their argument they lose. If you embrace the terrorists and their argument, the terrorism served its purpose.

The most important lesson from Arafat is that our legitimizing him didn’t end the conflict in Israel, but it no doubt gave rise to other terrorists who might get their grievances heard via the bomb. Instead of giving men like this peace prizes and patting ourselves on the back for another faux peace, let’s use Arafat as an example of what doesn’t work in the Middle East. Let’s search for the moderate Palestinian voice and come up with an agreement to end the killings, but let’s not ever again exalt a terrorist to the role of peace negotiator. It’s not worth the creation of more terrorists for a phony peace of paper and a photo op.

Thursday, November 04, 2004



The bribed and coerced can rejoice.
Americans have made their choice.
The phrase, “I Have a Plan”
will go down to a man
as the same as lacking a voice.


Not resigning your seat to campaign
Will go down as a brainy refrain
But your record from here
will make things quite clear
on whether your pose was just vain.


The Acorn falls far from the tree,
it would seem for Bush 43.
'Cause Bush 41
got one less than the son
and Dick gained term number three.


Reporters ask what you intend.
Poli-capital you say you will spend,
The tax code you’ll nix,
FICA you’ll fix
while the press cries division must mend.


Wednesday, November 03, 2004


After spending the last three days reading every poll, I was convinced that Jay Cost who operates Horse Race Blog had the best read on the polls. He did a good job of explaining why Florida was close last time. Gore people came out in droves and Bush people stayed home. This time around Bush’s people were motivated to vote. Tricia came over worried that Zogby had already speculated a Kerry victory. But I convinced her that the numbers were flawed and Bush would do alright once the votes were tabulated. Bush lost Minnesota though I predicted victory. I also thought he would win Wisconsin, but no poll can compete with same-day registration. I think the difference in that race was the skid row element that Democrats could round up for a bottle and burger.

It was the first clear popular majority since 1988. Even more impressive is that a Democrat hasn’t won a majority since 1976 when Carter got 50.1% of the vote. Zell Miller’s “A National Party No More” couldn’t be better said.

Boy was it sweet seeing that pathetic Tom Daschle lose. He was Mr. Obstructionist in the Senate the last four years and then he had the stones to show an ad with him hugging President Bush after 9-11. He was a great example of how Senators for ages have played liberal in Washington for 5 ½ years and then head home to play conservative for 6 months. It just doesn’t work like it use to. One reason is the Internet. A good blog Daschle v. Thune kept South Dakota readers up on his hijinks like the old media never has.

What happened in South Dakota also happened nationwide. Kerry paraded himself around as a huntin’ man that was going to kill terrorists in the final phase of the campaign. Earlier he promised one of those mythical Democrat middle class tax cuts. He also tried a draft scare with the youth vote and a Social Security scare with the elderly. The world was falling apart because wealthier people were allowed to keep their own money. His campaign had to stoop to disingenuousness to get the American people on board. For all the people who called Bush liar in this campaign, it was John Kerry that had to take positions he didn’t believe in to stay competitive? Kerry may be smooth, but you still don’t really know where he stands at the end of a statement. While even Bush’s butchered words don’t keep his true meaning veiled. John Kerry and his ilk cannot win an election in this country by being themselves.

I thought Coors would win in Colorado and Murkowski would lose in Alaska. The reverse yielded the same result. Republicans have a 55-45 seat advantage and with the way Daschle was targeted by Republicans for his judge blocking it might not be as hard to get 5 senators to join Republicans in ending these filibusters. It’s even possible that Democrat Ben Nelson from Nebraska will switch parties. Even if he doesn’t, it’s likely that he’ll stay out of the filibuster mess. Harry Reid is in line to become Minority Leader though word is he’ll have some competition. If Reid wins, he like Daschle will have to choose to obstruct the President that won his home state. Reid will have the luxury of 6 years before re-election. Neal Boortz thinks that Hillary will become minority leader. That would really make watching politics a lot of fun.

The Supreme Court was as important in this election as the war, because judicial activism has made the Constitution more and more meaningless. Civil Libertarians have argued against the Patriot Act and I share some of their concerns, but I don’t think they have love for the Constitution in mind. The Constitution for them is a useful thing to cite now and then but worth disregarding when they can achieve other goals.

Many of the most controversial political issues in America can be traced back to court decisions that subverted the will of the people. The court may be morally right at times and morally wrong at other times, but what cannot be forgotten is that the legislative branch was given the power of writing laws. Losing the separation of powers is much more detrimental than losing legal abortion in all 50 states. Democrats have been holding the court hostage for that one issue and it’s hurt the country as a whole.

The cool people in the media derided Bush for supporting the Federal Marriage Amendment. He was somehow subverting the constitution for supporting a process that the constitution approves of. Supporters of abortion should be promoting an amendment that protects abortion. That way no Supreme Court can take the right away. Too many times the debate on controversial issues is coming down to 9 people in robes. How does that help America? Bush will be nominating at least two people in the next four years and if they think like Justice Scalia, we have a much better chance of getting back to something like the Republic the founders foresaw.

The war speaks for itself. Bush really believes in the danger and Kerry doesn’t. Kerry’s kibitz campaign didn’t convince a majority that he's serious. The way he used nonsense like the disappearing explosives in the closing days and how he polled people on the effects of the Osama Bin Laden tape showed that he is less serious about the task at hand. Joe Liebermann or Joe Biden wouldn’t have fallen into these traps, and they may have had a better shot at beating Bush. If the Democrats learn anything from this election it’s that they need a candidate that isn’t a phoney.

Bush almost blew the whole thing with that dismal effort in the first debate. Though he got better as the debates continued he never regained the big lead he had before the first square off. Did passing the Medicare entitlement help? That’s the kind of debate Republicans will have among themselves. I tend to think he spent a lot of money to attract the middle and it was his own base that came out to re-elect him instead. Had Bush lost it would have been difficult politically for any President to use pre-emptive force in the future. If this military action wasn't justified what was?

Michael Moore and Moveon.org and Dan Rather and even Howard Stern (The self proclaimed king of all media) and all of the other people who were hell bent on a Bush loss can go home wondering what happened. I can’t forget the vile French, and the terrorists themselves that were foiled again.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004


Brothers Judd is holding a contest for such things.

I have Bush with 306 and Kerry with 228 51-48%

Bush wins all the states he did in 2002 except for New Hampshire.

He also picks up Gore states, Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin and New Mexico.

I wanted to give Bush Pennsylvania, but I'm sure that Governor Rendell won't allow that to happen.


South Carolina
North Carolina
Louisiana (December run-off)
South Dakota







Bush tells his people, and the rest of the world, that America is at war. Its enemies are pan-Arab, pan-Islamic terrorists and the regimes that support them. Their aim is world domination and is based on their fascistic, totalitarian ideology which, appropriately or not, they claim finds its roots and justification in the Koran. Bush explains that the war is real and that it cannot be wished away. It must be fought to victory and that victory will not arrive until the terrorists have been crushed and the dictatorial regimes that support them have been transformed into democratic governments that fight them.

Kerry, on the other hand, explains that the war is not real, but a result of Bush's hubris and a figment of his messianic imagination. It is possible to end the war, he promises, by reaching an accommodation with various regimes. Both the Arabs who harbor and support the terrorists and the Europeans who preach accommodation and hope for an American defeat can be brought to heel with a bit of love and kindness and a great deal of sympathy and appeasement from America. As to the terrorists, by Kerry's lights, with the right sort of legal framework – which of course would not include any impingement on anyone's civil liberties – they can be transformed from a warring foe into a nuisance to be dealt with via law enforcement techniques much like those used to curb prostitution and gambling.

Your heart might be with Kerry, but your head should be with Bush.

From the Horse Race Blogger.


Have you seen what's been going on in South Dakota? Click the link and scroll down to read about Dascle's frivalous lawsuit last night and the lopsided coverage in the morning paper. I don't think he'd be going to the trouble if Thune weren't kicking his ass. Get use to the words, Minority Leader Harry Reid.

Monday, November 01, 2004

He Politicized It Before He Was Against Politicizing It

"I think it's unfortunate that anybody puts Osama bin Laden into any political context in the United States' election. I'm outraged that he has appeared. I'm outraged that he inserts himself in any kind of way into the electoral process of America."--John Kerry, interview with Peter Jennings, Oct. 31

"I regret that when George Bush had the opportunity in Afghanistan at Tora Bora, he didn't choose to use American forces to hunt down and kill Osama bin Laden. He outsourced the job to Afghan warlords. I would never have done that. I think it was an enormous mistake, and we're paying the price for that today."--John Kerry, reacting to the bin Laden videotape, Oct. 29


John Podhoretz in the New York Post.
CONGRATULATIONS, Michael Moore — America's worst enemy and one of the world's most evil men is a big fan of yours.

The most startling moment on the Osama bin Laden videotape shown yesterday was his description of the morning of 9/11, which is certainly derived — albeit in garbled form — from a viewing of Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11."

"It never occurred to us that he, the commander in chief of the country, would leave 50,000 citizens in the two towers to face those horrors alone, because he thought listening to a child discussing her goats was more important," bin Laden said.

Just think. If the reprehensible Moore wins an Oscar for his disgusting piece of propaganda, Hollywood will be seconding the favorable opinion of Osama bin Laden.


An federal judge has blocked poll watchers in Ohio. Powerline explains how the judge in question is married to a gazillionaiore personal injury lawyer that has raised millions for Democrats and is not too happy about the prospect of tort reform. You got to click on the picture just to see their house. The story is worth reading too.

UPDATE: Overturned on appeal