Saturday, September 30, 2006


Bush creates dead terrorists. Make Love Not War creates dead Americans, and Brits, and Spaniards, and....

Jonah Goldberg puts down the ridiculous and persistent notion, which I heard Bill Clinton advocating in a recent speech, that charity and winning their hearts is the way to defeat Muslim radicals. Do we want to give that a try for another generation? You have to ask yourself: "Do I feel lucky?"

Every serious analysis of the Islamic world today describes a genuine tectonic shift in a vast civilization, an upheaval that cuts across social, religious and demographic lines. This phenomenon dwarfs transient issues such as the Iraq war. Are we to believe that once-moderate and relatively secular Morocco is slipping toward extremism because we toppled Baathist Saddam Hussein? Do we believe that the mobs who burned Danish embassies in response to a cartoon wouldn't have done so if only President Bush had gone for the 18th, 19th or 20th U.N. resolution on Iraq? Millions of young men yearning for meaning and craving outlets for their rage would have become computer programmers and dental hygienists if only Hussein's statue still towered over central Baghdad? Would the pope's comments spark nothing but thoughtful and high-minded debate from the Arab street if only Al Gore or John Kerry were in office?

Iraq is the excuse du jour for jihadists. But the important factor is that these are young men looking for an excuse. If you live your life calculating that it's a mistake to do anything that might prompt murderers and savages to act like murderers and savages, you've basically decided to live under their thumb and surrender your
civilization in the process.

For me, the truly dismaying news this week didn't come from the NIE but from the German media. A German opera house announced that it would cancel its staging of Mozart's "Idomeneo" because Berlin police concluded that staging the opera - which includes a scene in which Jesus, Buddha, Poseidon and Muhammad are beheaded - would pose an "incalculable security risk" from jihadists. Germany, recall, proudly opposed the Iraq war - but still narrowly missed a Spain-style terrorist attack on its rail system this summer.

A leading Muslim spokesman in Germany explained that he was all for free speech, as long as it didn't offend Muslims. The Germans' all-too-typical appeasement of terrorism no doubt makes them "safer" and "creates" fewer terrorists.

And all it cost them - for now - is Mozart.

The Democrats were so gleeful as Bush's approval numbers trended toward zero. The people want a change, the people want a change! And we are the change, us, hooray for us! But their hand-us-the-war strategy has two major and glaring flaws: they don't want the war and they don't know what to do with the war.

(D) keeps pounding on "Iraq is a mess and it's Bush's fault." (R) will keep hammering on "the global war on terror," "offense not defense," and "long term resolve." See the trees burning out of control. No, see the controlled burn meant to save the rest of the forest.

There is still a lot of cowboy in America, and a lot of hero. The polls are very lopsided in favor of not pulling out of Iraq until the situation there is stable. I can't believe that Americans will choose to sit back and watch as the jihad train runs over the damsel on the tracks. It's not consistent with America's history nor America's character. We are deciding whether we want to be Europe. We don't need more Europe. We already have Europe.

Thursday, September 28, 2006


On Bill Clinton’s tirade.

Dick Morris said that Clinton is always at his most emotional and emphatic when he’s defending the indefensible. And if you think about it, “I did not have sex with that woman, Miss Lewinsky” is the benchmark example.

Reagan faced pointed questions so often that he would usually smile and then explain what it was that he believed. Bush 43 never seems to worry about what anyone thinks. Without getting too psychoanalytical wouldn’t it seem that Clinton’s self-image is too tied to his public image?

The other day Tony Snow was asked about how Bush saw his own legacy. Snow said that Bush has read three biographies of George Washington in the last year and if history is still re-evaluating his legacy 200 years later, then the President realizes that his legacy will also be debated continually. Bush just simply makes the best decision at the time and moves on.

On Condi’s Reaction to Bill

The Bush administration made a pointed attempt to end the anti-Clinton atmosphere that dominated the 1990s. Bush pretty much ended every investigation of the Clintons. And he could have investigated some of Clinton’s pardons, especially the ones orchestrated for money by Hilary’s brothers. When Sandy Berger stole and destroyed classified documents important to the 9-11 investigation, the administration treated it lightly. But Clinton’s assertion that terrorism was well under control before Bush became President was just too much for the likes of Condi. It was the first real criticism of Clinton that I can remember from the White House. The fact that he has been given a mulligan by Bush stopped meaning that they would also take the heat for him.

Weapons of Mass Destruction

For as angry as Clinton seems to be about his legacy what with the ABC 9-11 film and his interview with Chris Wallace, Imagine being President Bush and being called a liar about WMD by Senate Democrats that stood with Clinton in 1998 as they announced that Saddam had those weapons.

No one was really sure if Saddam had the weapons, but he had a program and it was unknowable how far along they were. Bush felt that he was in the majority when he said that Iraq possessed them.

Bush let the United Nations run the inspections first, but they proved to be a sham, because it was impossible to interview the scientists without them facing reprisals from Saddam. The tapes that Powell brought the U.N. showed that the leaders of suspected compounds were moving stuff around when the inspectors were coming their way. The administration had to assume that he was hiding something. Bush would have been negligent otherwise.

Though the connection never seems to be made, Clinton suggests that Bush didn't take his warnings of Osama seriously and that led to 9-11. Conversely, Bush was supposed to ignore Clinton's prior warnings about Saddam.

On Bob Woodward’s New Book

As we learned in the Plame leak, Bob Woodward has been given unfettered access to the White House, but that access has cost him a great deal of credibility within the MSM. Many have called him a sellout. So this latest book saying that Bush is misleading us about Iraq is a great Machiavellian moment. Woodward needs to distance himself from the media un-friendly Bush so he presents a book that seems to echo the conventional wisdom criticisms that are hardly new.

The administration is probably trying to underplay the violence in Iraq. Osama himself said that America can’t handle too much violence and will eventually flee if you give them a big enough dose. After all, we fled Somalia like after Black Hawk Down. Doesn't the media run the risk of being Osama's pawns by making the case he's begging them to make? In other words, if you know that certain perceptions help Osama, should you create those perceptions in your reporting? Why not just present the events and let people give them context?

The war in IRAQ made the world more dangerous

Did World War II create more Nazis? Did our non-reaction in the 1990s make them like us more? Those who feel that Iraq has made the world more dangerous have not stepped up and said what specific third way policy would have worked. We always get a vague prescription of working with our allies, because lord knows they have been successful making friend with them.

We would all have liked the war in Iraq to have been simpler, but paradoxically the greater effort we’ve put forward may be a validation of how right-on the idea has been. There is no doubt we had to fight the terrorists somewhere and with Iraq we were able to choose a battleground. It’s certainly better ground than the mountains of Afghanistan or downtown Manhattan. Democrats may be derisive of our efforts there, but terrorists treat our actions as serious and dire. I tend to think that reaction to us speaks to our success not failure. Bush and the Neocons said that this terrorism threat was being supported by states more so than groups and if that were not true then I think our invasion of Iraq would have been met with less urgency by them.

Retiring the Taliban was a great idea, but it was never going to bring us the other groups that are just as dangerous. Since there is no way to measure how many people are naturally drawn to terrorism and since they refuse to identify themselves on the census, Democrats can anecdotally suggest that our actions are turning perfectly fine Muslim gentlemen into cutthroats. I could just as easily say that Democrats through their largesse are turning perfectly fine hardworking Americans into lazy no accounts. Maybe I will say it anyway.

Sunday, September 24, 2006


I was thinking about my last post and the rest of Bush's term and who might run in 2008 and it got me wondering about the composition of the current Supreme Court and who might be up soon for retirement or prostate cancer. The ages of the current Justices are as follows.

Stevens 86
Ginsburg 73
Kennedy 70
Scalia 70
Souter 67
Breyer 66
Thomas 58
Alito 56
Roberts 51

Knock one or two or three Justices off the top of that list and replace them with one or two or three Justices like the ones on the bottom of the list and you reorient the Court for a generation. Which is why it makes such a big difference whether the GOP's next candidate for President is Rudy Giuliani or Pat Buchanan, John McCain or Newt Gingrich, and why the conservative wing of the party is going to be very active and vocal through the political process.
IOWA HATES HILLARY (and why not)

Interesting results from the latest Iowa polling regarding hypothetical matchups for President in 2008.
Giuliani beats Clinton 56-37; Edwards, 51-43; and Kerry, 53-40. McCain defeats Clinton 54-37; Edwards, 47-46; and Kerry, 53-39.

Hillary, Edwards, Kerry, Gore, Sharpton... gee, can't wait to miss that debate.

Iowa swung from narrowly blue in 2000 to narrowly red in 2004 and its 7 electoral votes could be important again in 2008.

Hillary's negatives outweigh her positives, 49-43, with only 8 percent undecided. She may be as unelectable as has been speculated, voice coach or no. I can only hope the nation's Clinton dramas are over forever. Bill chewed out Chris Wallace and his "little smirk" on the Sunday show that aired earlier today on Fox. I think it is proper that the ruler of the free world exhibit some self-control.

The story spins doom and gloom for the Democrats, but that's not really fair. The hypotheticals pit liberal Democrats against moderate Republicans. Put moderate Democrats up against conservative Republicans and the results might be reversed. What will be interesting about the 2008 primary battles is whether both sides move toward the center where elections are won. There are ideological struggles taking place within both parties and it will be fascinating to see how it all plays out.

Saturday, September 23, 2006


– Kiefer Southerland’s directorial debut features a shaky script that takes the film into more contrived areas as it proceeds. The good news is the acting rises above the material with Sutherland leading the way as the boss a hold-up gang that spends the movie on the run. Vincent Gallo is great casting as the creep with a decent heart. Kevin Pollack is a kidnap victim that starts to identify a little too much with the criminal life. In short, this is a Tarantino rip-off that can’t match the wit.

THE NAKED KISS (1964) – I think Samuel Fuller must be an acquired taste, because although he is well revered by foreign critics and indie movie makers, I just don’t see the greatness in these rough B-movie efforts. His leading lady (Constance Towers) is 10 years too old for the part of a prostitute who waltzes into town and for no apparent reason goes straight and dedicates herself to a kids hospital. The leading man Anthony Eisley is the sheriff. He’s fighting attraction to Towers, doesn’t believe the conversion and wants her in jail. The screen presence and acting ability of these leads seems about right for an episode of the RIFLEMAN. You could put a cowboy hat on either of them and they’d look like extras in any number of early TV shows. When I’m retired and have nothing but time, I will watch some Fuller movies with the sound down to see if his directing style actually rises above the shoddy plots and acting.

MELVIN AND HOWARD (1980) An early Jonathan Demme film that won Best Original Screenplay and best supporting Actress (Mary Steenburgen). In fact, Steenburgen won about every accolade as the flaky wife of Melvin. The movie is based on a story of a man that claimed to have picked up Hughes in the desert one night and drove him to Vegas. Robards plays Hughes early in the movie with the typical zest you’d expect. Paul LeMat plays Howard as the nary-do-well husband and father that is surprised to wind up in Hughes will years later. I’m not sure why the movie is so highly rated. It seems to be nothing but a pitiful white trash escapade.

– This is a movie of little character situations with some scenes that really play well and others that seem entirely unreasonable. The writer/director Miranda July also plays the socially inept artist female lead. John Hawkes plays her male counterpart, a recently divorced father with two kids trying to adjust. The conventional part of the story has these two misfits trying to get together and it works pretty well. The story of the kid’s adjustment to divorce is also decent, and the relationship between Miranda and gallery owner is compelling. But you could pretty much cut every other character and subplot out of the movie and not miss it.

CALIFORNIA SPLIT (1974) – An entertaining film from the hit or miss Robert Altman. Elliot Gould and George Segal meet each other in a California poker room and decide to team up as gamblers betting the ponies and playing cards. This atmosphere usually makes for an entertaining beginning and in the hands of a decent director this material works the whole way through. The central question the script poses is whether it’s action or results that these men seek. It also answers one of the central questions as to why good players go through bad streaks. When you play well and win money the action becomes a drug and if you don’t watch out you start to crave the action over the money and then you give it back.

+CACHE (2005) Often times I’m at a loss for something interesting and I let Netflix talk me into this recent French psychological drama starring Juliet Binnoche and directed by Michael Haneke. Without giving away too much, Binoche and her husband are being semi-stalked by someone from the husband’s past. The movie really gets the subtlety right and the mystery plays out at a very good pace. One of the most interesting facets is the unspoken question of whether Binoche is having fling with a family friend. You get to answer it for yourself.

THE PIANO TEACHER (2001) – After enjoying CACHE, I immediately rented Haneke’s earlier acclaimed film. American audiences may recognize Isabelle Huppert from I Heart Huccabees. Here she gives a disturbing performance as the Masochistic title character. It has less of the nuance that I enjoyed in CACHE and some of it is down right mean. Thankfully I saw it second or I may not have tried Cache. Based on these two films I would probably give anything future Haneke film a chance even if I know that I won’t be the right audience for all of them.

EIGHT BELOW (2006) – Researchers on Antartica have to leave some dogs behind in the dead of winter and the movie follows the survival of the dogs. The movie sustains excitement, and sorrow proving once again that you don’t need named actors or even dialogue if the story is solid enough. It doesn’t hurt that we have a sled dog ourselves.

THE MATADOR (2005) – This is Pierce Brosnan’s second attempt at turning his glossy James Bond persona into a darker version of the same character. I thought that the first try, THE TAILOR OF PANAMA, worked quite well and he doesn’t really disappoint here either. Brosnan has a license to kill here like Bond and he’s the symbolic matador killing the bull. Greg Kinnear shows up as the everyman that meets Brosnan on a business trip and they become friends sort-of despite a few misfires at first. It’s resolved in a typical American movie way which is not a criticism but a good way of understanding the American outlook on life. The French director Haneke would have found a much more bleak way to end it and that would have been in line with the way the French see the world.

THE MODERNS (1988) Alan Rudolph explores the ex-patriate American culture in 1920s France. I don’t think Nick Hart played by Keith Carradine was a real person, but many of the others characters – Gertrude Stein, Hemingway – are. A few years later, Rudolph tackled the same time period for “Mrs. Parker and the Viscous Circle” which I like better. Carradine makes a surprisingly effective leading man and the young Linda Fiorentino is solid object of affection, but the story itself goes from lighthearted to dark and then to silly and then to contrived. I seldom like it when serious bitter rivals evolve into comedic bitter rivals followed by timely deaths that solve the nature of the conflict for the characters.

HAPPY ENDINGS (2005) - The title refers to the kind of massage that Kevin Costner was trying to get in Scotland. An ensemble cast including Lisa Kudrow, Maggie Gyllenhal, Tom Arnold and Jason (Son of John) Ritter go about their lives in whatever way touching upon the lives of one another. The main plots are Kudrow possibly re-connecting with the son she gave away and Tom Arnold being taken for a fool by Maggie Gyllenhal who is either pregnant by Arnold or his son Ritter. The situations are handled with both humor and sadness with a decent overall style.

+MY VOYAGE TO ITALY (2001) – Martin Scorsese divides the film into 2 parts and 243 complete minutes to explore the greatest of classic Italian cinema with commentary on directors, actors, and stories. The major players are Fellini, De Sica, and Rossellini, with Antonioni and Visconti showing up for laughs. I found it somewhere in the first hour and was so engrossed I didn’t realize 3 hours had past. The films are interesting in themselves, but it’s Scorsese’s commentary that pulls you in and keeps you watching. This was especially true in the postwar Bergman/Rossillini collaborations and Fellini’s 8 ½, a movie I appreciated much more with Scorsese’s take.

– While Marty is busy telling film history, Bobby is playing MEET THE PAYCHECK. The once interesting actor is not only willing to play a cartoon version of himself, he’s willing to do so in sequels. Scorsese answered by casting Jack Nicholson in his latest DeNiro role. Other Oscar winners, Hoffman and Streisand show up for cheap laughs. Episodes of My Name is Earl seem more plausible.

– One of the few cinematic treats I have left to look forward to is watching the entire Ingmar Bergman output. I believe this is the 4th film I’ve seen after Wild Strawberries, The Seventh Seal, and Three Strange Loves. The movie is 188 minutes and paced so well that it never feels overlong. Fanny and Alexander are two young kids that deal with the death of their actor father and the introduction of the strict clergyman stepfather. Plenty of temperamental theatre characters make for some lighthearted subplots.

(+) denotes exceptional film.

Friday, September 22, 2006


Jay Nordlinger picks up on something President Clinton said the other day.
In The (London) Spectator, Toby Harnden quoted our 42nd president, Mr. Clinton. The subject was British politics, and the Blair-Brown dynamic. Clinton told Harnden, “You’ve got a great economy, better growth than America has, and less inequality than America.”

What a shoddy way of thinking: “less inequality than America.” As Milton Friedman and others have pointed out, America is the most prosperous country in the history of mankind. No wonder so much of the world seeks to come here.

But there is a socialist mindset — and a disgraceful one — that would rather a man made $15,000 than $30,000, if the former salary kept him closer to the top guy.

Let me elaborate a little, sketching two scenarios. In the first, the poorest guy in town makes $15,000, and the richest $100,000. In the second, the poorest guy makes $30,000 and the richest $250,000.

The mindset I’m speaking of would favor the first scenario, costing the poor man 15 grand — on the grounds that this scenario is more “equal” than the second. In the second, the “gap” between rich and poor is wider.

Mark my words, my friends: Whenever you hear someone talk about “inequality,” watch out — it may well mean that he prefers general misery to a world in which, while the poor get richer, the rich get really, really rich.

This thinking doesn't keep Clinton from accepting $100,000 speaking fees and $9 million books deals when the median price is much lower?

Dueling op-eds from Mehlman and Dean in today's Wall Street Journal and Dean does Mehlman a big favor, as he does every time he takes the stage. Mehlman's message is all about the war on terror and Dean's is all anti-Bush with scant mention of the war on terror and nothing at all on how to win it. Voters, that is your choice.

From time to time I like to flip over to CNN or liberal talk radio to see if they have anything new to say. They don't.

Yesterday I joined The Al Franken Show in progress as he was cutting to some chump who was beginning his speech to a crowd in Washington.

. . ."We are experiencing a temporary reprieve to higher gas prices" . . . by which I guess he means that high gas prices are Bush's fault even when they're not high. If they were, it would be his fault. And if they get high again (I hope, I hope), then his fault.

. . ."Our current leadership is incapable of dreaming big dreams" . . . about higher taxes for everyone, and strict regulations on U.S. businesses, and bringing down the oil companies, and shooting Karl Rove in the ass.

. . ."Energy independence will require sacrificial commitment and long term resolve." Doesn't anyone notice the irony here?

. . ."We just heard Ford announce another round of layoffs". . . because the unions have succeeded in making the U.S. auto industry noncompetitive . . . "We need fuel efficient hybrids! For only $400 per vehicle [paid by the federal government], we can make every new vehicle a flexible fuel vehicle and create a market". . . and they want to tell me they are *not* the anti-capitalist party of higher taxes and bigger government!??

Twenty minutes of blah blah blah.

Cut back to Al in the studio. He says, "Sounds like we need a change in leadership, doesn't it? Back after this" and cuts to a commercial.

Several things struck me about this.

One, Al is really mailing it in. If that segment is a good indication, his heart ain't in it. In fact, he may have gone out for a burger during that segment.

Two, TWENTY MINUTES without a commercial? And he's Air America's headliner? They must really be struggling.

Three, the featured speech was not very good. Why all the fuss?

Four, is such a passionate affiliation with good for the Democratic Party?

Five, the lack of creativity, inspiration -- really, the lack of everything -- in the segment was weird. I flipped back over to Rusty Humphries or Laura Ingraham and they were mocking Kofi Annan's farewell speech, with catchy jingles and witty commentary. Now that's how you run a talk show.

Air America - We Distort, You Deride.
A colleague at work tried to bust on me for being a Steelers fan in Eagles country and a Bush supporter in an extremely liberal workplace. I replied, "I have no defense and don't need one. All we do is win." And smiled.

Hillary Clinton, in the middle of one of her anti-Administration rants, said tellingly, "One thing they [Republicans] do know how to do is win elections."

Which is why I am not concerned about the so-called ripe atmosphere for (D) gains in Congress. All that matters in elections is the last 60 days, weighted heavily toward the final weeks, and in these final weeks I see things trending GOP.

Gas prices are down sharply.

The economy is robust and job creation is up.

The DOW is flirting with record highs.

Consumer confidence is up.

War rhetoric is up. (R) leads (D) by a commanding margin on the issue of homeland security. If (R) is able to reframe the issue from "Iraq is a quagmire" to "Who will keep you safe?", (R) owns that issue.

American deaths in Iraq are down.

Foiled terrorist plots are up.

Don't rule out a significant Al Qaida capture or military offensive about a month from now.

Bush's job approval is up -- to 44 percent in some polls, consistent with previous presidents at midterm.

Crazy dictators shouting the same lines as Rangel and Schumer and Kennedy is up. Soon you will be seeing split screen ads showing (D)'s on the left and crazy dictators on the right. Those ads will be tremendously effective.

(R) legislative successes in the House are up.

(R) candidates are trending up in the polls. Even Slate's latest polling shows (R) keeping the House.

In Gallup's latest poll, 67 percent of those polled said (D) has no clear plan for Iraq. So even if Bush lied, kids died, what does (D) offer in exchange? Nothing. That is their major failing. Years to think about it, and still nothing, just Buck Fush. That's embarrassingly weak. Such blatant weakness cannot carry a country that is at war whether it wants to be or not.

Some are now arguing that the winner in these elections will be loser, poised for defeat in 2008. That's stupid. The winner in these elections will be the winner. (D) has serious problems already, which will only be made worse by another defeat, and failing to gain the House must be considered a defeat, especially given their giddiness in recent months about their prospects. They are about to blow their best chance, and that just ain't good news for the Democratic Party.

Like the Cubs, I love when Democrats lose. I especially love it when they (Cubs and Democrats) lose in humiliating fashion, but I won't get greedy.

Thursday, September 21, 2006


The brilliant Tom says in yesterday's post that
The way they treat opposing views as unenlightened is nothing but a dishonest way of not having to answer the criticisms of their position.

Well said. It's not that much different than the pols shouting down their talk show hosts and opponents as a way of never letting a full question get asked.

I too
reject being called unenlightened by people who think less about these things than I do.

How many Americans know that the air and water are cleaner now than 30 years ago? That AIDS is overwhelmingly caused by promiscuous gay sex? That dealing with any real consequences of global warming will be much cheaper and less disruptive than trying to forestall it? All plainly supported by scientific evidence that does not support the political agenda.

I turned on NPR for a few minutes yesterday. The first story was about, surprise, global warming. The next story was about... global warming. An essayist reading from his own work said, just dropped in without any qualification or support, that global warming "threatens to undermine our civilization." Now that is taking enlightenment to a whole new level.

We who are unfairly called "unenlightened" know that what they mean by that is that we don't unthinkingly agree with their entrenched propositions which on investigation are not as authoritative or scientifically supported as I am demanded to believe.

Recommended reading:

DISCIPLINED MINDS by Jeff Schmidt, a Ph.D. physicist, discusses how almost all research is political and how you better report the right findings or your grant funding will dry up fast. When the book came out he was summarily fired.

DARWIN'S PROOF and DARWIN'S GOD by Cornelius Hunter discuss the bad science that supports evolutionary theory and how Darwinism is itself a religion.

Ian Barbour has also written broadly on issues in science and religion.

It's not science *versus* religion. That's a false dichotomy, a cheap way of dismissing your critic without letting him speak. One must study both sides of any issue to really understand it, and certainly to be able to defend one's own position. Anyone who contemplates the subject with any degree of intellectual discipline understands that science and religion are not mutually exclusive, as did history's great scientists who were themselves religious. Science used to be considered the exploration of God's glorious design. The same evidence can support alternate conclusions if one is enlightened enough to entertain them.

One side argues that science with moral bias is not science. What they fail to appreciate is that moral bias invades and informs science on the front end rather than emerging from it on the back end. It is more cause than effect.
COUNT EVERY VOTE (and some of ours more than once)

Apply the reasonable person test. Which party does this party line vote suggest is the party of election fraud?

The House yesterday passed legislation that would require voters to show a valid photo identification in federal elections over the overwhelming objections of Democrats who compared the bill to segregation-era measures aimed at disenfranchising Southern blacks.

The Federal Election Integrity Act was approved on a nearly party-line 228-196 vote. Republicans backed the bill 224-3, with three nonvoters; Democrats opposed it 192-4, with five nonvoters. They were joined in opposition by the House's one independent member.

You can't take away dead people's right to vote! You can't disenfranchise illegal aliens who desire as hard working people with families to vote Democrat!

Republicans are passing legislation (build a wall, require proof of ID to vote) that forces Democrats to declare what they are. And what they are is not what most Americans support.

Meanwhile Chavez and Ahmedinejab are reading Democratic talking points, carried live in their entirety, and former NJ Gov. McGreevey is doing his get-rich-quick tour with the details of his secret gay sex romps. I can't see how any of this helps Democrats when you look at a US map that is all red and leaning conservative except for the Harvard/union/west coast strongholds.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006


If all of my knowledge came from a combination of political rhetoric and the reality in of my own personal experience, I would guess that George W. Bush finally caved to pressure and signed the Kyoto treaty. Otherwise, how would I explain the fact that it’s late September and I’m still waiting for the devastating hurricane season brought about by man’s misuse of his habitat?

When we talk about science in relation to politics we are rarely talking about anything settled. Much of science is a mystery to be solved. Some men spend their whole lives working without ever finding the definitive answers to the questions they tackled. They are the heroes of enlightenment. Others use science in order to gain grants and make a very cushy life for themselves by parroting the political orthodoxy that pays the bills. I’ve noticed that we’ve had more than the usual number of political issues relating back to science lately and it got me to thinking.

A few years ago looking for a change of pace I read Dava Sobel’s book LONGITUDE based on some positive reviews. Those of you who played the old video game “Pirates” know that Latitude at sea can be deciphered simply by measuring the sun at high noon. Longitude at sea was impossible in those days and it was costing ship owners and governments a great deal of money in late ships and wreckage. The British crown offered an award equivalent to winning the lottery to anyone that could solve the problem of calculating it.

Many great minds of the time tackled the question Galileo, Newton and Halley among others and many died before the problem was solved. The best any of the professionals could do was to propose mapping the stars, which was both cumbersome and imprecise. A clockmaker with no scientific training figured it out. If you build a double faced clock with one face reading the time in your home port and the other one based on local time according to the noontime sun, you can do simple math to get a very precise position.

The man who figured it out then spent the rest of his life trying to build the perfect clock that would weather the sea. The British government who wouldn’t have had the guts to stiff a big name didn’t pay up, and then interlopers tried to horn in and take the credit and accusation were flying at the poor man that he stole the idea from someone else. Instead of being happy that an important problem was solved the elite were actually angry that it was solved by a commoner. The relationship between science and politics is still less than noble.

It’s no trick these days for a politician or special interest to adopt a position relating to science and then pile up a bunch of “experts” that wholeheartedly agree. The Left and the media have been getting many headlines for doing just that lately and the smugness of it is irksome. The way they treat opposing views as unenlightened is nothing but a dishonest way of not having to answer the criticisms of their position. That their solution (more government involvement) is the answer to every problem reveals the lack of science in their approach.

What the Left is really offering is the same emotional package of joy (government funding of stem cells will create everlasting life) and fear (government’s inability to stop global warming will cause sure death). They couch it in science when it helps forward the agenda, but their support doesn’t begin with the science. When they are against something like nuclear power they use the “sky is falling” rhetoric about the potential dangers, even when the science has shown otherwise. More people die in coal mines each year trying to fuel conventional power plants. And unlike either stem cells or global warming that are still in the theoretical phase, the uses and safety of nuclear power can actually be measured by a ratio of benefits to deaths.

If embryonic stem cells yield results different from adult stem cells the Right will buy into it like everyone else. Even an ardent pro-lifer will have trouble turning down a cure for his daughter that was brought about by aborted babies. And whether or not the government funds this research, the research will go on and the results will be the same despite the implication that it all hinges on tax dollars.

As far as global warming, why should anyone on the Right think that it isn’t just the crisis of the moment that will soon join the trash pile with Ozone depletion, Ebola, the Y2K bug, SARS, and the bird flu? Remember how each of those was going to be devastating? Not only were they duds, but we never got any follow-up on why we were spared.

On the other hand, liberal theories on the causes and solutions of poverty have been given 40 years to yield results and so far they haven’t made a dent. The same goes for their notions on educating kids and keeping Social Security solvent. If these are people that were only interested in the dispassionate hard sciences they could prove it by rethinking their premises on the realities that disproved their pet theories.

Bill Maher was trying to make a point on his show the other night that he was scared because half of America doesn’t believe in evolution. He doesn’t want to live in a country surrounded by the unenlightened. Penn Gillette (an avowed atheist) said that Maher was foolish for thinking that because the people that need to believe in it like scientists do so. A great answer.

If I were a scientist studying the origins of earthly life I would need a premise like that to start from as I moved forward and backward studying the food chain. And I think most would agree that evolution on the small scale is fact. The separation is whether man was once a stinking ape.

Philosophically, I’m wary to give into that idea because it has harsh political implications for human beings. Totalitarianism is built on the premise that the state is supreme organ and I’d rather be endowed by my creator with certain inalienable rights.

From where I stand there is nothing to be gained seeing the world from a viewpoint designed as a base for the study of the mutations of molecular life unless your a person using that premise to study such things. The pros need to be indifferent to the man species and I don't. Though it might come in handy if I design gulags for a living. Our jails are full with people who behave like animals anyway and they don't need any encouragement from society or defense from lawyers over it. I can with contentment fight for the superiority of man and his natural rights with no measured (maybe science will measure it) ill effects.

There are many who disagree with me for thoughtful reasons and others with no thinking at all. I have done the thinking and don't see the upside. And that’s the part of science in public policy that seems to be missing from the debate.

Enlightenment isn’t about where you wind up in the debate of divisive questions, but how you arrive there. There are plenty of respected scientists that come up with different conclusions from hot button issues. Michael Crichton make a great case against global warming. And when the human causes of global warming are finally debunked or if the earth just starts getting cooler, Albert Gore Jr. or his agents will be onto his next bugaboo with a straight face never explaining to us why we’re not dead from the last one.

I don’t want to hear about the Right’s “War on Science” from a bunch of people who keep supporting the same social policies regardless of their results. I refuse to believe that any Chicken Little theory is more than a way for politicians and special interests to get more of the Washington pie. And I reject being called unenlightened by people who think less about these things than I do.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006


High school world history teached David Dewey taught us that "those in power never voluntarily give up power." It was one of his three principles of world history, along with "move, adapt or die" and "There are no sudden, significant changes."

As I grow older and more jaded, I start to see for myself how the politics of power works, and how all three of Mr. Dewey's principles apply. I see corrupt officials immune from prosecution and refusing to surrender their seat, and I get it. I see the Republican machine supporting RINO candidates like Specter and Chafee and I get it. If you control the seats, you control the agenda, and it's all about controlling the agenda.

Corruption? Bah! Corruption is understood. Taking a stance against corruption is politically naive.

“Congressman Ney (R) and his co-conspirators engaged in a long-term pattern to deprive the public of his honest, unbiased services as an elected official. People must have faith and confidence in their elected officials, but, Mr. Ney acted in his own interests, not in the interests of his constituents.”

When Congressman William Jefferson (D) got caught with 90 grand in bribe money in his freezer, he defiantly refused to give up his seat on the powerful Ways and Means Committee.

When Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi went to the airwaves to call for his removal from the committee, not from the Congress, she had a revolt on her hands from the Congressional Black Caucus, who warned her that any action to remove the crook would jeopardize Democrat chances of retaking the House in November.

The day after Pelosi said what any rational person would think was correct, top CBC members, including Charlie Rangel, John Conyers and John Lewis, informed Pelosi that the entire Black Caucus would publicly oppose any attempt to discipline Jefferson: a move that could severely undermine African-American support in this year’s mid term election.

Here we have one party using extortion tactics to protect a thief, and another party
making excuses for thievery. It can hardly be more obvious that political corruption has reached some sort of moral low in this country when political parties find it difficult to punish one of their own, even when exposed by law enforcement as corrupt.


Please post updates to this story in Comments or a new post.

NASA Tracks Mystery Object Near Atlantis Shuttle

19 September 2006 10:55 a.m. EDT

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – NASA mission controllers are tracking a mystery object hovering between the space shuttle Atlantis and Earth, and traveling at roughly the same speed as the orbiter, agency officials said Tuesday.

Harle said that at 2:45 a.m. EDT (0645 GMT), just after Atlantis completed a check of its reaction control thrusters, the instrumentation and communications officer at NASA’s shuttle Mission Control room at Johnson Space Center noted an object between the orbiter and Earth, and traveling at about the same speed of the spacecraft.


We are missing the point on the whole war-on-terror debate. The war is a battle of incompatible theologies, and to frame it in any other context makes the core issues unanswerable. Yet we no longer as a nation stand for the one theology that opposes the other, which muddles and complicates foreign policy because it precludes all substantive debate. Which is not to say we *should* endorse the one and oppose the other, we shouldn't, I merely state a fact.

Liberals and conservatives respond very differently to the notion that religion can be a direct cause of human conflict.

This difference does not bode well for the future of liberalism. Liberalism has grown dangerously out of touch with the realities of our world — specifically with what devout Muslims actually believe about the West, about paradise and about the ultimate ascendance of their faith.

On questions of national security, I am now as wary of my fellow liberals as I am of the religious demagogues on the Christian right. This may seem like frank acquiescence to the charge that "liberals are soft on terrorism." It is, and they are.

A cult of death is forming in the Muslim world — for reasons that are perfectly explicable in terms of the Islamic doctrines of martyrdom and jihad. The truth is that we are not fighting a "war on terror." We are fighting a pestilential theology and a longing for paradise.

Such religious extremism is not as fringe a phenomenon as we might hope. Numerous studies have found that the most radicalized Muslims tend to have better-than-average educations and economic opportunities.

Liberals do not understand religion, and fail to persuade when they pretend to, so they mostly ignore the subject entirely or marginalize its significance. (Unlike The Fox Corporation, which just announced a formal division to make films targeting the ignored and lucrative evangelical Christian market, because it is ignored and lucrative.) They do not know what to make of the fact that even educated and otherwise sophisticated people can be swayed by something as bourgeois as religion.

So questions of right and wrong, so clear and so important to Bush and much of the conservative voter base, rarely enter the debate in a meaningful way, even as they serve as the bright dividing line on so many issues. In fact, Bush's notion of moral black and whites are a main reason why his opponents call him stupid, simple and inept. Indeed,
In their analyses of U.S. and Israeli foreign policy, liberals can be relied on to overlook the most basic moral distinctions.

As does the writer. Liberals don't understand religious faith in whatever form. It's not so much that they "overlook" it but that they just don't get it. It does not compute. Like any good liberal, the writer thinks the dogmatic Christian right is as dangerous to civilization as Muslim terrorism, as if Jerry Falwell or Pat Robertson actually threatens his life and property. Any casual Muslim OR Christian knows that that is a silly proposition, unless one's definition of civilization centers on the right to self-indulgence, which both religions find inconsistent with faith and which liberals won't admit they support.

Those who assert a faith, who have adopted the faith as a matter of head and heart, are inspired and motivated to do (to whatever failing degree) what the tenets of their faith require. A Muslim's faith ("radical" or "true," depending on your own interpretation) may motivate him to violence for reasons you can't quite understand unless you understand his faith (which I don't). A Christian, motivated by notions of love and justice, may favor the precise horror of selective war (as I do) as the instrument of broader human liberty and dignity. To equate the two motivations reveal a profound misunderstanding, or rather non-understanding, of both, a non-understanding which makes constructive public debate impossible.

I saw a commercial last night for the movie where Robin Williams runs for president. I see the line "I did not have sex with that woman" is now a big joke. The lefties in my circles adore Clinton and wish he could run again. Wrongdoers on the left get promoted while innocent people on the right get torn down for sport.

I thought the silence around Sandy Berger's criminal caper and William Jefferson's criminal caper was bad enough, but the silence around beloved criminal Colin Powell is particularly grating. The entire persecution of Bush and Rove that led to disingenuous indictment of Scooter Libby was a knowing sham. Where is the outrage?

Greater self-love hath no man than to sacrifice a friend's life for his own. Our grateful nation awards the Medal of Honor to those few whose valor in combat is above and beyond the call of duty. But what is the polar opposite of the Medal? It is essential we decide, because Richard Armitage -- former Deputy Secretary of State -- has earned it for his uncommon treachery, beneath and beyond the call of knavery.

Wilson bellowed -- and the media and the Democratic leadership chimed in -- demanding a criminal investigation into the leak of Plame's name. Wilson accused Karl Rove of trying to smear him, and said Rove should be "frog-marched" out of the White House in handcuffs. The 527 Media -- the New York Times, Washington Post, CBS, NBC and ABC -- all covered the story not as even liberally biased publications, but as political activists making campaign commercials for the Dems.

Long before the indictment, Wilson's story had fallen apart. His lies about the Niger "investigation" were revealed by the 9-11 Commission, British intelligence and many others who found that Saddam had pursued a uranium deal in Niger. But as more and more of Wilson's claims were disproved, serial liar Wilson and his media pals didn't slow down.

Now we know, as Paul Harvey might say, the rest of the story. Neither Karl Rove nor Scooter Libby was Novak's source in July 2003. Richard Armitage was. And, at least as of October 1, 2003, Colin Powell knew that. Almost three months later, when Patrick Fitzgerald was appointed on December 30, 2003, he knew there was no crime to investigate. No covert operator's name had been divulged. It is an entirely separate scandal -- one probably including real criminal conduct -- that the Fitzgerald investigation was even begun despite knowledge that no crime had been committed.

Libby's crime, if there was one, was manufactured by Fitzgerald in the grand jury room. And all the while Fitzgerald knew what neither the White House nor the public did: that Armitage was the source.

To his credit, Novak is making clear now what his pledge of confidentiality to Armitage made him conceal earlier.

It was an act of supreme disloyalty for Armitage to keep the fact that he was Novak's source from the president -- and thus the public -- for three years. The same goes for Powell. There was no reason whatever -- other than the desire to do political damage to the administration -- for Armitage and Powell to remain silent while the 527 Media and the Dems fired a three-year long barrage of political fire at the President, the Vice President, Karl Rove and Scooter Libby.

We expect the Dems and the political-activist media to do this. But we don't expect the craven, cowardly conduct of Armitage and Powell.

How many times have we heard Schumer, Rockefeller, Durbin and the rest say we can't trust this administration, using Wilson-Plame as proof? Where does the Bush administration go to get its reputation back?

The facts that neither he nor Powell told the president, that both allowed the Democrats and the media to damage the Bush administration for almost three years afterward and let Scooter Libby's life to be ruined, disqualifies both Armitage and Powell from ever holding public office again. Let them retire in the ignominy they deserve.

They may deserve it but they will never get it.

I had a hard time believing that such a learned, careful man as the Pope, in a prepared speech, could have *accidentally* inflamed Muslims in the current hypersensitive geopolitical environment. Rick Moran of Rightwing Nuthouse agrees that the challenge may have been deliberate.

Since his election to the papacy in April of 2005, Pope Benedict has bent over backwards in an effort to assuage the concerns of Muslims over issues that
place them in conflict with the west. It is therefore something of a surprise that he would knowingly challenge radical Islamists by quoting a long dead 13th century Byzantine vassal Emperor on the “evil and inhuman” practice of forced conversion to Islam.

The fact that both his words and intent were twisted by the fanatics in order to gin up the emotions of their ignorant followers should not have come as a surprise to the Pontiff given similar reactions to other faux “outrages” like the Muhammed cartoons and the fake story about the desecration of the Koran by US soldiers at Guantanamo.

This makes one wonder if indeed the challenge was deliberate and designed to augment his main thesis regarding radical Isam; that violence and reason are ncompatible and therefore ungodly.

. . .

The dilemma for the Pope as well as the West has always been a question of whether or not to engage the fanatics by challenging them or try and address their grievances and appease them. Has the Pope finally decided to cast his lot with those who seek to challenge the extremists? It would appear that the Pope has done so, and on a plane that he seems uniquely suited to occupy; bringing his considerable intellectual gifts and moral authority to bear in an effort to encourage moderates to step forward and work with him to marginalize the terrorists.

Risk attends both the engagement and appeasement strategies. Engagement, we are told, plays into the radicals hands and strengthens the terrorists. By challenging the fanatics, we create more terrorists and make it more difficult for moderate Muslims to support us. On the other hand, getting to terrorism’s “root causes” appears to be an exercise in futility while agreeing with the extremists’ critiques of the western response to terrorism only seems to embolden them.

The Pope seeks a higher plane in the conflict. By risking offense, he goes beyond the superficial dialogue between Christian and Muslims of the past and begins a conversation where it should have been all along; on the nature and practice of Islam in the modern world and how that religion can co-exist with a west infused with Christian values.

Muslims (not all, of course) responded to the suggestion that violence is ungodly with violence. So why apologize for the suggestion? James Lewis addresses that.

I don’t believe the Pope stirred up this tempest by accident. It was leaked to make a point. (Believe it or not, news reporters are not in the habit of attending lectures on church history). So it was a planted story – but deniable as just an historic reference. The Pope sent a signal, and the Muslim world responded with riots. Nobody could have been surprised.

Even the BBC explains today that the Pope wants to start a dialogue with the Muslim world, following the lead of John Paul II. But Benedict wants the dialogue to be reciprocal, and that means that Muslims must reflect on the dark side of their history, just as the Catholics have done to a considerable extent. And they must stop legitimizing violence.

Why was Benedict so provocative? Because he would not have been heard therwise. Benedict is looking for an honest dialogue. No doubt he is prepared to apologize again, as appropriate, for harm done to Muslims by Christians. His planted provocation is designed to ask Muslims: Are you also prepared to mend your ways?

This is an act of courage designed to advance a genuine dialogue of cultures.

There are too little nobility in the world, and too few self-sacrificing heroes like Pope Benedict, who like Jesus is taking a vicious personal beating for the good of the world.

Saturday, September 16, 2006


I've made no secret that James Taranto is my favorite blogger, because he seems to be the quickest at understanding the foolishness of certain political positions. I could almost link to him everyday, but that might get might old, I suspect. I'll take my monthly allowance and let Taranto explain the folly of McCain's latest crusade.
The argument is that unless we interpret the Geneva Convention as providing maximal protections to terrorists, our enemies will mistreat U.S. soldiers in their captivity. Assume for the sake of argument that this is true. If the restrictions on interrogations that Powell and McCain advocate result in another 9/11, then they will have sacrificed the lives of women and children in order to protect soldiers. Isn't it supposed to be the other way around?

Further, McCain's personal experiences--which lead people to be skittish about criticizing him on this subject--actually argue against his position. As a prisoner of war in North Vietnam, McCain suffered actual, brutal torture--not just aggressive questioning of the sort that the Bush administration seeks to legalize. America's adherence to the Geneva Conventions did not protect McCain--even though he, unlike the al Qaeda detainees, was a legitimate prisoner of war; and Hanoi, unlike al Qaeda, had ratified the Geneva Conventions and thus was legally bound by them.

The whole point of the Geneva Conventions is reciprocity: Nations agree that when they fight wars, they will do so in accordance with some civilized rules. Extending the conventions' protection to terrorists, who reject those rules, transforms Geneva into a suicide pact. John McCain is one of the Senate's true war heroes, but in this area his personal experience seems to be clouding, rather than clarifying, his views.

McCain's supposed independent streak always seems to coincide with the New York Times editorial board position. Take a page from Guiliani. He lives in the same city as the New York Times and doesn't give one little red rat's tail.

Friday, September 15, 2006


Bob Novak set the record straight yesterday on the Valerie Plame thing. The Democrats would have a lot to be ashamed of if anyone would bother to report the real story on this. But the real villains here were not the evil Karl Rove or even an Administration guy, so there's no political value in trashing the true culprits. Besides, if we ignore the truth, then people will continue to believe the lies we reported every day for 500 days in a row.

If Peggy Noonan is still writing Bush's speeches, she needs to stop. Poetic language sounds contrived and forced coming out of Bush's mouth. It is not the way he naturally talks, and when he makes a speech, it sounds like he's reading words rather than speaking from his convictions, and it is when he speaks from his convictions in plain language that he connects with people who agree with him that these are demanding times that require resolve and sacrifice.

But Noonan says today what I was trying to say yesterday. All the Dems have in their bag is "we hate Bush" and they are hoping 51 percent of the electorate does too. It has long been said that all politics is local. This year all politics is national. But by focusing all their attention on Bush, they are handing over the keys to their own bus, and possibly misunderestimating him again. Has anyone noticed the shrinking number of seats that remain in play?

I think that Americans have pretty much stopped listening to him. One reason is that you don't have to listen to get a sense of what's going on. He does not appear to rethink things based on new data. You don't have to tune in to see how he's shifting emphasis to address a trend, or tacking to accommodate new winds. For him there is no new data, only determination. He repeats old arguments because he believes they are right, because he has no choice--in for a penny, in for a pound--and because his people believe in the dogma of the magic of repetition.

Pundits and historians call Mr. Bush polarizing--and he is, but in some unusual ways. For one thing, he's not trying to polarize. He is not saying, "My team is for less government, your team is for more--my team, stand with me!" Mr. Bush has muddied what his team stands for. He has made it all come down to him--not to philosophy but to him and his certitudes.

What is polarizing about him is the response he elicits from Americans just by being himself. They have deep questions about him, even as he is vivid to them. And yet: You know he means it when he says he is trying to protect America. You know his heart is in it. You know he means it when he says there are bad guys and we will stop them. And that has meaning.

With all this polarity, this drama, this added layer Mr. Bush brings to a nation already worn by the daily demands of modern individual life, the political alternative, the Democrats, should roar in six weeks from now, right? And return us to normalcy?

Well, that's not what I sense.

I feel the Democrats this year are making a mistake. They think it will be a cakewalk. A war going badly, immigration, high spending, a combination of sentimentality and dimness in foreign affairs, and conservative writers hopping mad and hoping to lose the House.

The Democrats' mistake--ironically, in a year all about Mr. Bush--is obsessing on Mr. Bush. They've been sucker-punched by their own animosity. "The Democrats now are incapable of answering a question on policy without mentioning Bush six times," says pollster Kellyanne Conway. " 'What is your vision on Iraq?' 'Bush lied us into war.' 'Health care? 'Bush hasn't a clue.' They're so obsessed with Bush it impedes them from crafting and communicating a vision all their own." They heighten Bush by hating him.

One of the oldest clichés in politics is, "You can't beat something with nothing." It's a cliché because it's true. You have to have belief, and a program. You have to look away from the big foe and focus instead on the world and philosophy and programs you imagine.

Mr. Bush's White House loves what the Democrats are doing. They want the focus on him. That's why he's out there talking, saying Look at me. Because familiarity doesn't only breed contempt, it can breed content. Because if you're going to turn away from him, you'd better be turning toward a plan, and the Democrats don't appear to have one.

Which leaves them unlikely to win leadership. And unworthy of it, too.

That's it exactly. The Democrats stand for nothing other than ABB and the usual disingenuous subplots of tax cuts for the rich, protecting the little guy, make love not war, etc. I heard Neil Cavuto interviewing Charlie Rangol last night and he couldn't get Rangol to answer where he or his party stood on any issue. Rangol's answer to any question about anything was "Bush lied into Iraq," "There is no connection between Iraq and the war on terror," and all the usual blather. He is a cardboard cutout, and so are all his colleagues. At least there is honest division within the Republican camp. There is some humanity and integrity in that.

Sure the people may want change, but change to what? As a voter I have not yet been presented with an alternative and I'm not sure whether to expect one.

Bush says "stay the course" and portrays his opponents as the "cut and run" crowd. He keeps it simple and presents a choice between one thing and another. All the Democrats have offered is a choice between something and nothing, and nothing is only motivating if the something is sufficiently painful to enough voters in the right places. I wonder if the constant and relentless ABB barrage has numbed Americans to the point where they are no longer animated about it. I know in my office everyone still hates Bush but now they speak of it rarely, and I wonder if the lack of fire will cool the Democratic gains that everyone but me has been expecting and fearing.

I think Republicans are going to do just fine in 2006 and in 2008 as well.

Thursday, September 14, 2006


Kerry is on the road, talking to the little people in diners as he gears up for another run. Who is he kidding? The Democratic Party always eats its dead, and moreover, he ran as good a campaign as he could have run and got beat. He is not a viable candidate. Gore is DOA. He lost and grew a beard and got fat and strange. That is not a leader of the free world. Beware Edwards -- he looks good, speaks well, smiles while lying and is battle tested without having suffered the damage and scrutiny the lead candidate suffers. My dark horse contender is Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell. He is so engaging you almost have to like him even though you disagree with all his policies. When he was doing all the political talk shows in the wake of the 2000 election, saying "count every vote" and all the other things he was supposed to say, he did his undignified duty with such ease and charm that you almost forgave him for being despicable. He would carry this important state with ease. He talks about wanting to get out of politics after his next term (he will win big this November over Republican Lynn Swann) but I don't think he can do it, he loves being the center of attention too much.

Asked if he dreads the prospect of being “Swift-Boated” all over again, Kerry ounters that he would relish such a fight. “I’m prepared to kick their ass from one end of America to the other,” he declares. “I am so confident of my abilities to address that and to demolish it and to even turn it into a positive.”

Kerry’s tough talk triggers laughter from John O’Neill, a fellow Vietnam veteran who helped found Swift Boat Veterans for the Truth and wrote a blistering 2004 book on Kerry, “Unfit for Command.”

“Well, he’s got eight times as much time to prepare for us as he spent in Vietnam,” says O’Neill, referring to Kerry’s short tour of duty.

I came across my copy of New York Times #1 bestseller UNFIT FOR COMMAND when packing for the move in July. I will never forget flipping channels and happening to catch the swiftees' bombshell-dropping press conference at the National Press Club in spring 2000 and searching with no success for the press coverage the next day. The AP reporter who was present at the news conference said the swiftees' contentions "did not advance the story." Huh?? Only Fox News eventually picked it up, and they made it hot to the point where everyone else had to follow. It was the lack of news coverage that motivated O'Neill to write the book that so greatly affected the campaign.

On to Hillary. Last Thursday I listened to Schumer and Hillary giving statements following Bush's speech that day on homeland security. They promised a homeland security policy that is "strong AND smart" (remember: Bush is really dumb). The only substantive thing that Schumer said was that it is a travesty that we only inspect 5 percent of inbound shipyard containers at the ports (never mind that we screen the *shippers*, which is more effective and much much cheaper - but doesn't create new government jobs) and that we provide no security at all on rail transit. Hillary spoke softly and relatively slowly, so as not to sound shrill. I had not heard her in a while and it was clear she has been spending time with a voice coach. She was a far cry from soothing but not as irritating as in the past. She said spending on homeland security is woefully inadequate under this administration because "the Bush Administration and the rubber-stamp Republican Congress" refuses to make any compromises on its number one agenda: maintaining tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. (Are you curious how much Bill Clinton is making per speech? Try six figures.) Schumer said, "We will respond to every single attack -- EVERY SINGLE TIME!!" No doubt he would get many opportunities to make good on that promise, especially if we begin withdrawing troops from Iraq by year end as he advocates. And the US is not more safe, it is less safe, because the US is creating new adversaries in Iraq and around the world because of its agressive actions in Iraq. Therefore, again, we need a policy that is not just strong, but smart. (Bush dumb.) Talk about staying the course!-- don't they have ANYTHING of substance to add to what they've been saying for five years?

I weaned myself off the political talk shows shortly after the 2004 election. I am getting back into it somewhat with the midterm elections and am amazed at how little the rhetoric has changed. Neither side has anything new to say. The strategies are opposite, however. The Republicans say nothing, since they have nothing new to say. The Democrats say the same things over and over, wearing away at the opponent through repetition. Their election strategy is apparently to win by playing not to lose, hoping their opponent doesn't get hot and that they manage the clock and do enough to squeak a tight victory. Any sports fan knows that's not generally a winning strategy, and this one thinks it won't be this time around either. This election cycle has been terrifically boring. Somebody say something about anything!

I listened to House debate on the way home on the Republican-sponsored bill to build a wall along parts of the southern border. A wall has been built between San Diego and Tijuana, resulting in sharp drops in drug smuggling, human smuggling and trucks full of Mexicans crashing through the border. Republicans supported the bill because it is an easy way to do something concrete (literally) about the problem, and while it fails to do everything, it at least does something while we continue to negotiate everything. Dems opposed the bill because (they said) it was "not comprehensive enough" and (in fact) because it would give Republicans a political victory on an issue Americans care about and because the bill does not create lots of government jobs. Never mind that the people say they want a wall, and that the private sector can get a nice wall built in no time at all, with lots of nifty gadgets too if there's a budget for them. The people are too stupid to know what they want.
Liberals think their campaign against Wal-Mart is a way of introducing the subject of class into America's political argument, and they are more correct than they understand. Their campaign is liberalism as condescension. It is a philosophic repugnance toward markets because consumer sovereignty results in the masses making messes. Liberals, aghast, see the choices Americans make with their dollars and their ballots, and announce -- yes, announce -- that Americans are sorely in need of more supervision by ... liberals.

When liberals' presidential nominees consistently fail to carry Kansas, liberals do not rush to read a book titled "What's the Matter With Liberals' Nominees?'' No, the book they turned into a best-seller is titled "What's the Matter With Kansas?'' Notice a pattern here?

Wednesday, September 13, 2006


Last night I saw John Stossel give an address at a work function. I read Stossel’s first book, so much of what he said wasn’t new, but it sure was fun to hear it live. The audience reaction was very positive. The Main point of the address was to explain how business without the shackles of regulation is better for everyone. A typical example is how the FDA takes so long in testing drugs (10-15 years) that it costs people their lives. Why not let people in grave condition decide for themselves?

He had a funny story about how he has won 19 Emmy awards, but that they were all won when he was a crusading reporter going after business. He said one year he was so dominant that another winner thanked him for not having an entry in that category. Stossel then said that he hasn’t won a single Emmy since he took on the government (Big Laugh).

He said that the turn for him came when a producer told him of the phenomenon that people were getting killed when Bic lighters were exploding in pockets. When the producer told Stossel that it has happened to 4 people in the last year, Stossel replied that more people have been killed by buckets. Should they do a story on that too? The producer called him callus and got another reporter to do the story.

He argued against the coverage of plane crashes in the media that result in a fear of flying which then puts more people on the roads where they are more likely to be killed.

He said that the only reason he was given an opportunity to do his own contrary thing on the air was because another network made him an offer and ABC relented to keep him.

Near the end he would describe everyday items and how many people they kill and asked the audience to guess what he was talking about. For instance, he mentioned a common item that people have that is purely recreational that kills 800 a year. (A swimming pool)

He then explained that many of the things we use everyday would never be approved such as automobiles. They travel at 60 MPH and within feet of other cars and people. And because of that how many things that are dangerous and yet beneficial are we being deprived of?

Since I knew he would take questions at the end of it, I spent a good deal of the speech writing out things to ask. I must have written 10 questions including such things as whether companies building in China should worry about their property being nationalized. For the benefit of the audience I decided that I would ask John about the recent legislation signed into law to protect company pensions and ask him to compare how the average company pension is designed versus how the Social Security system is designed. To my dismay, the microphone assistants never got to our section and so many of my fellow employees were spared the enlightenment.

I bought his new book to get signed and figured I should at least ask one question. The social security thing would have been pointless. No one else was around to think about it. When I reached the table I said smiling, “Hello John.”

He looked at my nametag and said, “Hi Tom.”

“What do you think about Congress trying to outlaw internet gambling?” I asked.

He replied, “Pointless” quickly then he paused and said dramatically “and wrong!” holding the “wr” part out a little for effect.

I laughed and he may have thought I was mocking him by the look on his face, but it was just so funny to see this famous guy look at me and answer so emphatically in that voice you hear on TV.

I said “Thanks John” hoping that he understood my reaction to be benevolent and scooted away.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

ABC and the 9-11 Film

This movie has been compared to the Reagan caricature that CBS was going to broadcast a few years ago that was thwarted due to Republican complaints. But there is a difference that no one has pointed out. The Reagan film angered Republicans because they hold Reagan in esteem. It hurt them not personally or politically. The 9-11 movie is a situation where the biggest critics are the principle players themselves.

Republicans are attacked in these kinds of films so often that they don’t even say boo anymore. What’s the biggest criticism you remember from one of the living members in Oliver Stone’s Nixon? Did you see THE DAY REAGAN WAS SHOT? Alexander Haig was portrayed as a character from 7 DAYS IN MAY. The last Michael Moore movie made Bush and Cheney out to be a couple of bandits. Did either of them ever complain publicly or write letters? Did Karl Rove demand the movie be burned?

Republicans decided a long time ago that they were going to play the natural villains when politics was turned into entertainment. To the Right, it’s just part of the game. To Democrats, any such criticism is tantamount to a fight among players in the same dugout. It’s like Reggie Jackson getting yanked off the field by Billy Martin and the two having a rhubarb on the bench. Remember how Reggie just held his hands up like he couldn’t believe it?

As far as the substance of the argument, the Clinton Administration officials can claim that they got the facts wrong and maybe the filmmakers made some errors, but he said/ she said doesn’t answer the question. The real Clinton defense should be a list of the verifiable actions they took to make the country safer. What we haven’t heard at all in this debate is a list of those actions.

What I think bothers them is not the specific moments that were wrong, the public will forget the details, but a reminder to the country that Democrats didn’t make any proactive stance against terror. Up until the movie, their lack of action hasn’t come into mainstream focus so their generic solutions such as getting better intelligence and re-building our alliances the Bush squandered has played fine as one side of the argument. That’s a law-enforcement strategy and what the movie clearly shows is that strategy in the 1990s led to 9-11. Bush’s slumber only works as a scapegoat if the previous administration had focused on killing evildoers instead of reading them their Miranda rights. And that’s what Democrats hate about the movie. It’s their current campaign strategy on screen and failing miserably.

I have to throw just one quote in for fun.
(Sandy) Berger objected to a scene that he was told showed him refusing to authorize an attack on Osama bin Laden despite the request from CIA officials.

"The fabrication of this scene (of such apparent magnitude) cannot be justified under any reasonable definition of dramatic license," he wrote.

If Berger were so interested in the true story being told, he wouldn’t have stolen top secret documents in his socks and underwear. Because of Berger’s actions you have to assume that he did something pretty bad and letting Osama go would seem a big enough deal that a weasel might try and hide the documents for it. If this is fabricated, then Berger should tell us what lesser thing was so important that he had to cover it up.

Like most things political the movie will blow over and we’ll get back into the comfortable news frames. But this film is a reminder of the special relationship that the Left has with the media and how shocked they were to be a target. It won’t be long before the next Republican is revealed as sub-human and it will no doubt make very little difference to that right-winger.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006


The Republicans lost their soul when they kicked this guy out of leadership.

1. Make English the Official Language of Government.
2. Control the Borders.
3. Keep God in the Pledge.
4. Require a Voter ID Card.
5. Repeal the Death Tax, for Good.
6. Restore Property Rights.
7. Achieve Sustainable Energy Independence.
8. Control Spending and Balance the Budget.
9. Tie Education Funding to Teacher Accountability.
10. Defend America From the Irreconcilable Wing of Islam.
11. Focus on Iran and North Korea.

There's something for everyone. He makes a nod to religion, terrorism, the enviornment, immigration, property, taxes, and education.

After being elected in 1994, Republicans quickly abandoned their pledge of term-limits and now 12 years later (about the time term limits would have kicked in anyway) they are on their way to losing control through the ballot box.

With term-limits, bad ideas like the medicare prescription drug program wouldn't have stood a chance. That was nothing but a cynical plan to co-opt the Democrats in order to win the next election. Once politics is no longer a career, re-election is a much smaller priority. The Democrats that hate tax cuts and refute the idea that they help the economy might not think so if they had to go work in the real world after their term-limits kicked in.

I was surprised but happy yo see #9. Teachers can complain that it's unfair to teachers, but who cares. Teachers are the employees working for the taxpayer. As their employer we should demand an accounting of their efforts. We need to simply stop talking about funding as the cause of poor education and make the money we now spend yield results.

Like I told Dude in Vegas, if Newt runs for President I am voting for him the primary over anyone else.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

That Spike Lee Joint

I watched a good deal of the Spike Lee Katrina Documentary on HBO. This documentary is long and it’s full of a lot of angry people immediately after the storms passed, but the anger wasn’t directed at anyone in particular. So Spike uses more recent interviews to help direct the anger at the closest possible Republican. Let’s see, the Mayor is a Democrat – Governor a Democrat – President white male Republican – therefore it’s the federal government’s fault.

But attaching the blame to Bush isn’t as simple as hoped because there seemed to be a contradiction about what the federal government should have done. On one hand Nagin clearly says that Gov. Blanco refused to give Bush the authority to send the National Guard. Blanco all but admits that she refused to cede control by refusing to answer the question directly. The Blanco problem is further compounded by the revelation that Nagin and Blanco have been political rivals since he supported her opponent in the most recent election. Though the documentary doesn’t spend much time here, there seems a great likelihood that Blanco kept the Feds waiting simply to make Nagin look worse.

After spending too little time on that nugget, the documentary produces people that say Bush should have ignored Blanco and sent troops anyway. So it’s still his fault. But wait, not long after the troops arrive we hear many interviewees complain about the behavior of the troops in action. Some citizens felt like Iraqis living with an occupying army. Though never stated, it seemed pretty likely that Bush circumventing Blanco would have been ripe for a police state accusation.

We hear an anecdote about the great LBJ coming to town after a 60s hurricane for a photo-op. But then Bush is criticized because his appearance is a photo-op. The end result is that the documentary gives a voice to so many different complaints that you see how it would have been impossible for Bush to have become a hero through any action.

Nagin’s lackadaisical approach to the coming storm was a big blunder. The shot of those flooded school buses a few days later and the realization that they should have been carting people out of town Saturday night was not given any play here. Still, Nagin comes off as a pretty decent guy that seemed more interested in solutions than politics while Blanco seems more interested in her power and shifting blame.

Considering the source you have to figure that the average viewer is supposed to gather that America’s racism let the people in New Orleans down. If Lee believes that people can only survive in New Orleans with Federal hand-holding, then maybe he’s accidentally asking us if we should go to the trouble of re-building New Orleans at all. Why are we to think it won’t happen all over again the next time? Does the average taxpayer really want the responsibility every time a storm is brewing in the Gulf?

I think Lee unintentionally makes the case that New Orleans is too much trouble. We would be neglegent to make the poor feel safe in that dangerous soup bowl, especially since re-building means government response time will be questioned all over again during the next storm.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

The difference between being ideological and blindly partisan. . .

. . . was evidenced last week when The Washington Post wrote this:
It follows that one of the most sensational charges leveled against the Bush White House -- that it orchestrated the leak of Ms. Plame's identity to ruin her career and thus punish Mr. Wilson -- is untrue. The partisan clamor that followed the raising of that allegation by Mr. Wilson in the summer of 2003 led to the appointment of a special prosecutor, a costly and prolonged investigation, and the indictment of Vice President Cheney's chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, on charges of perjury. All of that might have been avoided had Mr. Armitage's identity been known three years ago.

… it now appears that the person most responsible for the end of Ms. Plame's CIA career is Mr. Wilson. Mr. Wilson chose to go public with an explosive charge, claiming -- falsely, as it turned out -- that he had debunked reports of Iraqi uranium-shopping in Niger and that his report had circulated to senior administration officials. He ought to have expected that both those officials and journalists such as Mr. Novak would ask why a retired ambassador would have been sent on such a mission and that the answer would point to his wife. He diverted responsibility from himself and his false charges by claiming that President Bush's closest aides had engaged in an illegal conspiracy. It's unfortunate that so many people took him seriously.

The Post may be left-leaning, but they are interested in getting the story right while the New York Times only seems interested in stories that hurt the administration. Once anything contrary comes to a negative Bush story it immediately hits the back pages. Ann Coulter wondered recently why the Times never unearths any “secret” Al Qaeda plans. So true.

Notice also that the Post reports that it was actually Wilson playing politics when he said that uranium shopping charge was without merit. The British have always maintained that it was true and even the Post has come around to agreeing.

So not only was Wilson the real villain, but the administration’s worry that Iraq was trying to build a WMD has merit in the main stream media. Do you think it will take hold and be the new frame for the debate? No. It will take history to understand what an important act invading Iraq was. Of course, historians may overlook that small victory if Democrats are given the opportunity to surrender before this war is complete.

Friday, September 01, 2006


On a largely party-line 43-30 vote, the Assembly approved a bill by state Sen. Sheila Kuehl, D-Santa Monica, that would eliminate private medical insurance plans and establish a statewide health insurance system that would provide coverage to all Californians. The state Senate has already approved the plan once and is expected this week to approve changes that the Assembly made to the bill.

Schwarzenegger has said he opposes a single-payer plan like the one Kuehl's bill would create, but the governor has not offered his own alternatives for fixing the state's health care system. As many as 7 million people are uninsured in the state, and spiraling costs have put pressure on business and consumers.

"We know the health care in place today is teetering on collapse," said Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez, D-Los Angeles. "We need to do something to improve it, to reform it, and this is what we are bringing to the table."

First, the system we have now is still the best in the world so his first quote is nonsense. Healthcare is a victim of its own success. The more medical improvements and drugs that come to market, the longer our lifespans and quality of life. The downside is that this costs money. I don't see why the taxpayer has to fund every last medical improvement for strangers. And as far as public health goes, I think people will tend to be even less cautious about their health if they perceive that doctors are standing by for "free" to solve their problems.

The biggest complaints now are that people do not have access to that top notch care. This plan won't change that. The real result is that either private hospitals will spring up to provide that care for people with cash (if they're allowed) or the best medical care will migrate across the border to Nevada or Arizona.

The end result will be much like our education system. Everyone pays into it, few are happy with it, and the lucky ones will be able to pay out of pocket for the situation they like better. The middle class will be left to subsidize the poor as usual.