Friday, January 30, 2004

So, in addition to John Kerry thinking that his time in Vietnam entitles him to the White House, we now have LaVar Arrington of the Washington Redskins claiming that his dad's sacrifices in Vietnam - the loss of two legs - entitles LaVar to determine the appropriate level of celebration in the NFL

This, on the other hand, is the way to attack Kerry. Did he actually say that the "threat of terrorism is exaggerated"?

Now, it's true that the likelihood of any single American being hurt in a terror attack is somewhere in the ballpark of getting hit by lightning, maybe even less of a chance. But that doesn't make it any less of a danger. And while I doubt that too many people are going to bed at night fearful that the next day they'll be a victim of a terrorist attack, I also doubt that too many people are going to bed absolutely positively sure that they won't.

Here's the opening for the GOP. Kerry is obviously playing to the liberal crowd that constitutes the Democrat primary voters. They don't want the threat of a terror attack to be real because (1) that would disrupt their version of a world in which all problems are solved by discussions between Rhodes Scholars, and (2) they know that they'll come out on the losing end of any election in which the voters are asked to choose someone with whom to entrust their overall safety.

And, every time Kerry plays to that crowd, he is taking a position that isn't carefully calibrated to appeal to the middle, but rather a position that places him firmly outside of that middle. This is how to attack Kerry. The clock is ticking to see how long before the GOP answers the bell.

AndrewSullivan is wrong, as is Mickey Kaus when they advise the GOP, Ed Gillespie in particular, to stop attacking Kerry as a liberal and instead go after him, as Kaus puts it, as an "inconsistent straddler for whom every vote is a play-it-safe vote".

Actually, most Americans are 'inconsistent straddlers', in that they can take a supposedly conservative position on one issue one day and a supposedly liberal position on another issue the same day. And few of us can easily articulate an overriding philosophical stance with which to describe our all-over-the-place positions (how does one describe an pro-abortion, pro-school choice position, especially if one hasn't taken 24 credit hours in philosophy?). Few Americans are ideologically rigid; one can't disregard the wide appeal of being seen as moderate (what better way to demonstrate moderation than to take positions on both sides of the ideological spectrum?). Attacking Kerry for (1) having a philosophy that matches the voters, and (2) taking positions on specific issues that resonate with these voters will not only be ineffective, such attacks will actually help Kerry stake a claim to being in the all-desirable middle.

An additional argument for not pursuing this line of attack: is anybody on the other side of the aisle attacking Bush for being ideologically all over the place? No way - they're going after him as being too conservative for America. They'll disregard and dismiss any evidence to the contrary - Medicare prescription benefits, increases in the NEA budget, whatever - and hammer the 'too right wing for America' theme.

Being in the middle isn't a bad place to be - what hurts is being portrayed as being too firmly set on one side - either side.

Thursday, January 29, 2004

What a fricking surprise, hearing that Hezbollah is threatening to kidnap more Israelis!

What did the Israelis figure was going to happen, when they decided to offer up 400 Palestinians in return for 1 Israeli and some bodies? Hey, Sharon: you've got no credibility when you say ""Israel will not allow any enemy or terror group to turn kidnapping and ransom into a system". That is exactly what has happened. All Hezbollah has to do in the future is kidnap 1 Israeli for every 400 terrorists they want released.

Why did Israel ever drop their 'no-negotiations with terrorists' policy? Sometimes I really wonder if they want to win. To live.

And, for all of you out there who have blamed Israel for the current state of affairs, claiming that only if Israel acting nicer towards the Palestinians, there would be less terror attack. How do you explain away this, on the same day Israel is making nice?

I'm wondering if my earlier characterization of Bush as a Republican who didn't feel the need to 'grow in office' is correct, after reading that he is proposing a major increase in funding for the NEA.

President Bush, with all due respect, have you lost your mind? Of all the programs to spend money on, of all the reasons to increase the deficit even further, you're picking the NEA? Since when has funding the NEA at all, let alone increasing its funding, become the priority for conservatives? You're already p***ing off a bunch of conservatives with your spending proposals; this isn't the way to get back into our good graces. If you feel the need to boost overall spending by another $20 million (as the article reports), I'd be happy to give you a list of other programs that should rank higher (hints: homeland security, intelligence gathering).

And, just who do you think you're going to impress with this? Certainly not the fans of the NEA, who will continue to sponsor ads that portray you as Hitler. You can't really be thinking that anybody's going to start thinking that by doing this that maybe you're not such a bad guy after all? That maybe the Democratic contenders are going to stop referring to you as the worst President in the history of the country? Remember, Mr. President, the only way you're going to get the media and other Democrats to say nice things about you is to start acting like them. And, even then, while they say nice things, they won't respect you. Is that the position you wish to find yourself?

As I said, have you gone mad?

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Beating the drum again, Hussein had WMD at one time (the laws of nature say he couldn't have used what he didn't have). Another law of nature dictates that what exists on Monday doesn't cease to exist on Tuesday by itself. So, what happened to what was there?

Again, I don't buy that the entire Iraqi-WMD development program (which Kay demonstrates did exist) was a huge case of the 'dictator has no clothes'. For that to be true, every scientist and every secret policeman in charge of policing the scientists would have to have been in cahoots - not one of them was a true believer? The giant scam is a convenient rationale for explaining away the unknown, but not one that stands up to common sense. There were just too many people involved, too much money being spent, too many people living in fear for them ALL to have engaged in what, if true, would amount to one of the world's largest scams. Bigger than Enron, bigger than WorldCom, bigger than Rite-Aid, bigger than them all combined.

I'm wondering what exactly the term of the week, 'electability' really means...

The tendency of most voters is to think that they are on the right side of the issues and that the rest of the electorate is right behind them - especially voters in primary elections, who are much more hard core and into the issues than the common folk who only show up in November. Convinced not only of the purity of their chosen candidate, but also of the appeal of their candidate to the massses, it's only logical that they will believe their guy has the right stuff with which to be elected. Yet, just because these voters feel that they are on the right side, the winning side, doesn't mean that there's enough people with them to make it come true.

Sure, some voters will make what can be described as a protest vote (Perot voters in 1992 and Nader voters in 2000) or a show of support in a losing cause vote (Jews voting for Lieberman, blacks for Sharpton), but there's no way these votes amount to a significant level (a few percentage points at best).

Another aspect on electability to look at is the impact of the polls - I believe history shows that supporters of trailing candidates tend to stay home at a higher rate than do the supporters of candidates who are running higher in the polls. This, if true, would lead to more of the people who show up to the polls stating that they are voting for the candidate they believe to have the best chance of winning, while the supporters of the other candidates might be showing up to make a political point.

And, finally, even if the Democrats decide to rally around one candidate, that doesn't really amount to anything. Both candidates will end up struggling to appeal to the middle, who may not be all that impressed with whom the Democrats have picked. It's not enough to pick someone with strong appeal to a minority - you have to pick someone with good appeal to the majority. I doubt Kerry can do that.

What kind of a stupid headline is this from ABCNEWS.com "Ex-Inspector: Faulty Intelligenced Sabotaged WMD Search".

Scan the actual article and the word "sabotaged" never does appear. Nor does sabotage.

In fact, the only way faulty intelligence could have 'sabotaged' the search is if the search teams, relying on intelligence went to the wrong places instead of going to the right place - and that most definitely is not what David Kay is saying happened.

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Looking for proof Bush is a moderate?

The old adage is that if you're annoying people on both sides, you're probably in the middle. We know what the hard left thinks of Bush (sounds like butler, but not quite). Now we hear that Bush is upsetting conservatives. It sure looks like Bush has got the middle ground staked out.

Is this the Sister Souljah moment we've been waiting for?

Good for Bush, defending his decision to go to war with Iraq, despite the lack of evidence of Iraq's WMDs. As I've posted before, I have no problem with us having gone to war on the mere (reasonable) suspicion that Iraq was in possession of such weapons. September 11th has made a lot of Americans paranoid - the hard left Democrats paranoid about Bush, the rest of us paranoid about what and who is lurking out there planning to do us harm. For us, we have no problem with pre-emptively removing Hussein as a potential threat. It's one down, many to go.

Bad for FoxNews with their choice of headline "Bush Retreats on Iraq Weapons Claim". This was not the main thrust of Bush's comments - he didn't go out to apologize, but rather to defend his actions. Is Roger Ailes starting to let the Democrats write his headlines?

Monday, January 26, 2004

Just looked at the stock market indicies and it occured to me: when is Bush and his Administration going to tout the rising market - and what it means - as a defense against the economic and tax plans of the Democratic challengers?

The markets are rising, up a whole bunch over the past year (see a much earlier post that tied the gains in the stock market to the GOP control of the Senate, even during Clinton's terms). This can surely be taken as investor support for the Administration's policies - could that many different investors be wrong? And, not just domestic investors are buying in, so too are foreign investors - what other market has that kind of a draw?

But Bush is (so far) missing an attack thread. The Democrats are arguing for reversals in Bush policies - the same policies that Bush will argue have led to the rising markets (hey, if you can say that the winner of the World Series impacts the markets, it's got to be easier to claim economic policies have had an impact). Each 500 point rise in the Dow, or 100 point rise in the NASDAQ, has had a positive impact on the economy, on consumer confidence, on the balance of worker's IRAs and 401(k)s, on hundreds of companies ability to fund their respective pension plans. Who complains (other than short-sellers and the hard left) about rising markets? Conversely, a drop in the market has a multiplying negative impact: lousy consumer outlook, reduction in business investment, lousy returns on worker investment funds, jeopardized retirement hopes, etc. And with studies showing ever increasing levels stock ownership, that many more people would be negatively impacted by a falling Dow.

Just as Dean and Gephardt caught heat with their respective proposals to take away the entire tax cut - their opponents argued that such plans amounted to a tax hike on the middle class, the rest of the Democratic contenders need to be attacked on the grounds that their policies - which, if enacted, would directly lead to a market collapse - would amount to a significant tax on worker retirement accounts, on home values, on everything up to and including the American flag.

As Carville reminds us, "it's the economy, stupid". Voters vote their pocketbooks. Bush has to link their pocketbooks with the markets. I already have, that's why I'm voting Bush this fall (DUH!). Picture the campaign: "a rising stock market is a terrible thing to risk", visuals of houses going up in mushroom clouds, lines of people trying to get into their (closed) stockbrokers office, people selling (worthless) stock certificates on the street for a nickel apiece. Conservatives aren't totally happy with Bush (immigration and/or spending levels) - do they want to risk a crash in their investment portfolio, in their home nest egg? (Sane) liberals, whatever their liberal hot button: pro-choice, anti-Iraq war, affirmative action, whatever - how much of a hit to their retirement funds are they willing to take in order to put someone who's more to their liking - 20%, 30%?

It's a no-lose for Bush. The Democrats would be hard pressed to claim that their policies would make the market go up even more, even faster. First of all, that's not something their hard core support wants - they want us all to be poor and dependent upon their graces. You see the Green Party rallying round that? Neither do I. Second, any Democrat claiming that would just sound ridiculous. "If elected, I promise you 25% annual returns in the stock market" - that's like Wesley Clark's guarantee of no terrorist attacks during his presidency. If the market drops between now and November, Bush would claim that it's the market getting nervous about the chance that a Democrat would win - only a renewed indication that he would win would reassure the markets. And, if the voters didn't believe that, Bush is toast anyway.

Kevin Drum buys into part of David Kay's report that possibly "Iraqi scientists had presented ambitious but fanciful weapons programs to Mr. Hussein and had then used the money for other purposes".

Here's my take... David Kay merely presents this as 'a' possible explanation of the situation, not as definitive proof. Maybe it is what happened. Yet, how realistic is it that the Iraqi scientists were out scamming Hussein? Was he the kind of dictator that people scammed? Neither he nor his sons were the kind of people who would laugh at themselves for having fallen for such a scam. They weren't the kinds of people Iraqis wanted to be upset. Running a scam is one way to get yourself killed (ex., The Sting. it happened in a movie, we know it's real). Not only would Hussein kill the scamming scientist, he would have killed the scientist's family, neighbors and a few other people for good measure. And the scam wouldn't have been limited to just one scientist, all by himself. There would have had to have been numerous scientists, numerous programs. Did they all get together and plan this scam? Or did they all independently come to the same course of action? Neither seems likely. Hussein was known to have used such weapons. Did all of these scamming scientists figure they'd be able to forever extend their production of the "Dictator has no clothes"? That there wouldn't come a time where Hussein actually asked, no, demanded proof?

And nobody fessed up? What better way to curry favor (save one's own skin) than to turn over the con artist scientists to one of the brothers? In a country where everybody was under suspicion, and almost everybody fearful, the idea that nobody would have spilled the beans is ludicrous.

What would these "other purposes" have been, what were the scamming scientists doing with the money? Buying yachts, skimming the cash off into Swiss accounts? Breakthroughs on improving the local food supply? Investigating a cure for cancer? Has David Kay seen and offered up evidence of what else these scientists were supposedly doing with the money?

Maybe David Kay is at a genuine loss to (publicly) explain away the discrepency between pre-war reports and post-war results. For what my opinion is worth, I'm sticking with the other part of Kay's report, that Syria is the repository of Iraq's programs and materials.

Kevin goes on to say that he doesn't think "this absolves the Bush administration of anything. The CIA was indeed fooled, they issued guarded reports saying that Iraq had WMD, and the Bushies then cherry picked the reports and removed the qualifiers when they made public statements" and that there's "plenty of blame for everyone in this fiasco".

What fiasco? There isn't one in the rationale for having gone into Iraq. To distort that old expression, it is better to have gone in and removed all doubt than to have stayed out and been later proved fatally wrong. To me as well as much of America, it's been well worth the cost - human, financial and to our supposed European relationship - to have eliminated Iraq as a threat to America's safety. Even if Iraq was merely a theoretical threat, it's been worth elminating Hussein even as a potential aggressor. The US can not wait for perfect information, for perfect intelligence. 9-11, at least to me, means that 'when in doubt, assume the worst'. Nor was there a fiasco in the conduct of the initial fighting. And no fiasco in the aftermath. Sure, not everything went or is going perfect. But there's a big difference between not perfect and fiasco. Those who use such a word to to describe what went on or is going on in Iraq is just taking shots at Bush. And should be recognized as doing so.

Sunday, January 25, 2004

This headline is bogus, Iraq Had No WMD. At the very least it's misleading. We know for a fact that Iraq had WMD; we've all seen and heard the stories regarding Iraq's actual use of those weapons.

The bigger question is what happened to the weapons that Iraq did in fact at one time have?

Did Iraq use all they had?
Did they lose what was left over?
Did they possibly destroy anything left over?
Did they hide somewhere in Iraq what was left?

Or, did they hide their stockpiles somewhere else?

Some have supposed that Iraq did not have any WMD. But, if that were the case, why go to war, even run the small risk (in Hussein's mind) that there would be a war? Just call in the inspectors and show them what they needed to see. It could have been done quietly, to give Hussein the aura of denial to possible charges that he was yielding to US pressure.

But that doesn't work if Hussein had given his stockpiles to another country - if this were the case, he wouldn't have been able to provide the inspectors with proof of his having destroyed his stockpiles.

Why give those materials to some other country? Perhaps for some type of promise, such as asylum. It's interesting that there were reports that members of his family had fled to Syria - could Hussein have been thinking that he had purchased safety?

Saturday, January 24, 2004

Hopefully, this CIA appointment of Charles Duelfer as the lead investigator in Iraq will be an improvement over one of their earlier 'investigators', who thought investigating meant sitting in a cafe drinking tea, then coming home and exploiting his wife in order to expand upon his 15 minutes.

As to the question as to whether there actually exists WMD in Iraq, I continue to think there must be. We know it did exist at one time - could/would Hussein have actually gotten rid of it ALL? It doesn't make sense that he did. Even if he did, then why not let the UN in for a full examination? Going to war - even if he thought that was a slim, slim possibility - for something he didn't do... too idiotic even for him.

Thursday, January 22, 2004

This isn't right, getting a whole 100 Days in Jail for killing someone. I don't care that he didn't set out to kill someone that day. Janklow was convicted of manslaughter, which the last time I checked, requires the act to be more than 'oops, my hand slipped off the steering wheel', or "I only bent down for a second because my lap was full of hot coffee from McDonalds".

For crissakes, he killed someone! He drove through a stop sign at somewhere at over 6o miles an hour. That's pure disregard for what might happen as a result of one's actions. Even as teenagers (the perfect definition of dumb and reckless), we knew that wasn't something to do. Janklow's no teenager. He has no excuse. And for that, he gets a 100 days. Pathetic.

While most people are focused on quantifying Kerry's bounce and the impact it will have on the primary campaign, I'm wondering about what it says about the voters...

Are we so fickle - so unable to decide what we really like, what we really care about - that we shift allegiances so easily?
Are we so enamored of front-runners, of associating ourselves with a 'winner', that we drop our old favorites so quickly?
Are we so uninformed that we are just now starting to pay attention - to the issues, and to the candidate's positions on these issues?

Think about what the numbers in New Hampshire mean. Dean's support has dropped so much that one has to infer that his supporters are dropping him like the plague. How can this be the case? Was Dean's support a mile-wide but only skin-deep? It sure wasn't portrayed that way, by him or by the media. His supporters were supposed to have rallied to Dean, not despite his 'deficiencies' but because of them. They didn't view Dean as unelectable. They chose him in large part because he was fiery, abrasive, because he was somebody who would scream for (and at) the crowd. He was their man, he epitomized everything they wanted in a candidate to challenge Bush. For them to drop him now would include a breach of faith never before seen (at least by me). And, they're not only dropping him, they're picking Kerry? This ain't no savior, coming out of nowhere, to save the town. Kerry's been around, up to a week or so ago, he had been thoroughly examined, reviewed and found to be wanting. He's the guy whose bandwagon the Dean supporters are jumping onto?

Or is it that Dean supporters are having second thoughts about where they stand on the issues? Are they suddenly deciding that they are pro-war in Iraq? That tax cuts for the middle class are really a good idea? That they're not really interested in standing up against the evil that is George Bush?

The numbers also indicate that nobody who is just now making up their mind is picking Dean. On one hand, this is easy enough to understand (I don't understand why anybody would have picked Dean at any point, but that is another story). Dean just isn't being portrayed as having a lot going for him right now. But, it's not as if there are just a few people making up their minds now, some reports have upwards of 20% of the electorate only having made up their mind in the last few days. What's wrong with these people? It's not as if they're expected to pay as much attention as the guys at NRO or TNR. But is it too much to ask people to pay at least some attention to the issues, and to which candidates are taking which positions? It's not as if there are any new issues that have recently surfaced (other than Bush's 'non'-amnesty and space proposals, neither one of which is a big deal on the Democratic primary circuit). The war on terror, the war in Iraq, the tax cut, the overall economy - all have been an issue for months and months and months. How can ANYONE not have an opinion as to whether they like or don't like the tax cuts? How can anyone not have an opinion as to whether going into Iraq was or was not a good idea? And, how, if they pay only a little attention, not know how Dean, Kerry, Edwards, et. al, have come down on these issues - they've been blanketing the state with ads for months now.

The fickle and the feeble. That's who the Democratic candidates are chasing. Those are the people who will probably decide who gets to take on Bush in the general election. God help us all.

On to James's Taranto's defense against Matt Welch's and Glenn Reynolds' claims that James went too far in his characterization of Democrats who booed the Patriot Act as the "al Qaeda Cheering Section".

It reminds me a bit of the attitude of many fanatical sports fans. For Redskins fans, it's "I root for two teams. The Redskins and the team that is playing Dallas". This doesn't mean that Redskin fans actually root for this other team to win the Super Bowl, it's just that their hatred for the Cowboys is so strong and they want to see the Cowboys humbled so badly that they don't care who does it.

For many Democrats, Bush is the Cowboy. They hate him so much, they want to see him humbled so badly they don't seem to care who does it, and very importantly, who gets hurt in the process. For example, who believes the Democrats were celebrating the recent good news on productivity and growth? They really don't want the economy to grow - that just takes away a campaign issue.

It's the same thing with the war on terror. It would be one thing if the Democrats really acknowledged the terror threat - but they can't do so because that would put them at a disadvantage to Bush, and to the GOP in general. It would be one thing if the Democrats posed alternative solutions for getting our intelligence, military and law enforcement the tools that are needed so to help prevent another terror attack here in the US - but they can't do that because that would require acknowledging the terror problem, which we know the Democrats can't do. It would be another thing if the Democrats, both on the campaign trail and elsewhere, didn't go ballistic when discussing the tools the Adminstration is using to combat the terrorists - but that again would require the Democrats to acknowledge that Bush is sincere in his belief that we are still at risk, and we know they can't do that. And, it would be nice if we didn't sense that they weren't all waiting for something bad to happen, whether to the economy or elsewhere, so they can pin the blame on Bush.

But given the Democrats rhetoric, you've got to think James is on the right track. The Democrats portray Ashcroft and Bush as Hitler wannabes, equating the Administration with the man responsible for tens of millions of deaths. The Democrats willingly ignore the truth - just how many libraries have had their records subpoenaed? They pay lip service, at best, to the threat posed by terrorists. They pay more attention to those accused of crimes against the US (and yes, conspiracy and immigration violations are crimes), giving these criminals far more attention than they pay to the prospective victims of those attacks. They are far more concerned that somebody somewhere will find out what books I read - oblivious to the fact that everybody who checks a book out of the library already feels the 'government' knows what they've done (yes, library workers work for the government) and not caring that, should this ever happen, it would only be because a judge agreed that I needed to be investigated.

Paraphrasing what was said many times in a great movie, there are two kinds of people: those who root for us and those who root against us. Bush's critics root against the guy who is trying to keep me safe. If they had their way, I would be less safe.

UPDATE: Thanks to Glenn for making reference to this.

UPDATE: Criticism has started to roll in. But, since it's full of "Prove it.... F***ing prove it, bitch", it just reinforces my point. We dare to criticize - in return, we receive some of the most polite, best mannered responses.

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Bill Hobbs writes about the supposed 'jobless' recovery. Add his thoughts to my earlier thoughts about how the unemployment rate doesn't mesh with the reported number of jobs, along with this WaPo column on the taxes NOT being collected by the IRS.

Supposedly, $30.1 billion is lost due to nonfiling -- people and businesses that don't file tax returns. I'd guess that this is mostly attributable to small businesses and the self-employed (us big companies get noticed real quick when we don't file, and the IRS knows where to find us). I suppose that to the extent that Bill is correct, that we're seeing a return to the days of more self-employed, we should see a boost in the amount of taxes under and non-payments. Of course, the above numbers are from 2001, so we'll see proof of the current boost in self-employment sometime in 2007 - a little too late to have an impact on this year's election.

Josh Chafetz at OxBlog picks up on the theme that the Democratic nominee won't be settled on until the convention. A definite maybe, but if it happens, definitely bad for the Democrats...

Back in 92, Clinton had the nomination lined up and put forth a wonderful (at least from Democrat's perception) convention - the days leading up to the convention, the convention itself and the aftermath. Everything was designed to tap into as many hot buttons as the electorate could stomach. Unity and a bright outlook were the themes. Everybody was on their best behavior - no unruly kids running around, like in 1968, no need to call in the cops. All of the speakers were chosen and scheduled in order to present the best face to the country. To the extent the country was watching the convention, everything exuded confidence and competence. No negatives. As a Republican, I hated it - no conflict, no gaffes, no wasting of their precious airtime.

That's what the Democratic nominee is going to need this year. If they are to have any hope at all, they can't afford to come across as divisive, bad-mouthing each other, having stories written about this or that candidate's blemishes and so on. They can't afford to waste their airtime. They can't have the papers full of bad-mouthing one another. But, that is what they'll get should the nomination be still up in the air. They'll squabble, they'll look silly, they'll waste their time and their opportunity. Each of the candidates still in the running, and even some who aren't, will demand primetime airtime. They won't spend that time putting forth a unified theme for the fall campaign; they'll be using the time to push their themes and, best of all for the GOP, to trash their opposition.

The viewers wil contrast this with the smooth performance of the GOP convention - no silly kowtowing to Buchanan-types this time around for the GOP. No tailor made sound bites for the opposition, as also happened in 1992. No, the GOP will put on a complete showcase of the arguments for re-electing Bush. They'll push the themes that will get additional, reinforcing exposure during the campaign. They'll use the momentum, just as they did in 2000 and Clinton did in 92 and 96.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the Democrats will still be fighting among themselves....

Kevin Drum is dreaming of what woulda/coulda/shoulda happened had Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy not been assassinated. He posits that "perhaps Kennedy would have won the 1968 election and with his help King would have kept the civil rights movement from going off the rails. No Nixon, no Southern Strategy, no Watergate, no Jimmy Carter, no neocon defection from the Democratic party, and no Ronald Reagan."

And he accuses us conservatives of being delusional. Let's see: Kennedy was no sure thing to win the Democratic nomination, let alone the general election. There still would likely have been protests at the Democratic convention, enraging many voters. The Republicans would still have put forth a nominee who could have won (it's the liberal delusion that the country will find anything Kennedy preferable to anything Republican - yet they won't push Teddy to run for President, imagine that!). Wallace could have still entered the race, drawing support from Democrats in the South. Nixon won in part by running as the candidate of law and order (ironic, isn't it?) - it wasn't Humphrey that was seen as being out of control, it was the Democratic party - maybe Kennedy could have assuaged some of that fear, maybe not. After all, it wasn't a bunch of crewcut conservatives out scaring people. I know Kevin qualified himself with 'perhaps', but we can still tell what he really thinks would have happened.

Kevin ignores the abortion decision and the effect it had on mobilizing conservatives. Does he not think Roe-v-Wade would have been come down if Kennedy was in office? Or does he think that Kennedy would have been able to keep pro-lifers in the Democratic tent? I also assume that Kevin thinks that Vietnam would not have been an issue had Kennedy been elected. But even if Kennedy had lived and continued campaigning, with getting out of Vietnam as a central plank of his campaign, Johnson wasn't going to pull the troops out. And, it was the combination of Johnson's social programs, together with military spending that led to much of the economic problems of the 70's - economic programs that let Reagan seize the mantle of making America strong again (Bush, beware!).

As for having King help 'President Kennedy' keep the "civil rights movement from going off the rails", the movement didn't jump the track during what would have been the first of Kennedy's two terms - it came in what would have been his second term, at a time when he would have been a lame duck and wielding less power. Gauging from Teddy's antics these days, a Kennedy bloodline is no guarantee against going off the deep end.

And, who's to say that King wouldn't have pursued the same goals as did those who came after him? Maybe he could have been pushed off into a ceremonial role by the younger crowd - Jackson and the like - who saw civil rights as a vehicle for enriching themselves? To an extent the excesses of the civil rights movement was in large part attributable to the success of the movement in discrediting those who spoke up against it. Once these bigots (and others, who might have shared the same goals if not the same approach) were silenced, the movement took advantage of the vacuum. There was nobody to speak for moderation. This could have happened even if King had lived - can't argue with a law of nature.

Kevin does get it right however when he says that had King and Kennedy not been murdered, "the world would have been a better place one way or another."

Referring to earlier posts about what Bush should focus on tonight, notice that nowhere did I say to call for making the tax cuts permanent.

It's a loser of a proposal: the economy isn't faltering right now over uncertainty, it's not an issue that most Americans are sweating over, it takes away time that could be spent promoting other themes, and it opens him up to ridicule from the Democrats - without getting any real positive boost in support to offset the attacks.

While I'm happy to take credit for my previous dissing of Howard Dean's overall prospects, it would be premature to write him off, or to give Kerry and Edwards too much credit...

As pundit after pundit pointed out yesterday (I believe I first heard it from Tim Russert), that while in primaries it is the polls that should be taken seriously, in Iowa it is organization that matters. And everybody gave Kerry's organization very high, very high marks. Maybe all that happended is that Kerry got a high percentage of his otherwise low support to show up, compared to others who got a lower percentage of their otherwise higher support.

As for Edwards, I think he benefitted as the none-of-the-above candidate. Month after month, it's been Dean this, Kerry that. To the extent that Iowa caucus goers wanted to express a protest vote, they weren't going to do so with Lieberman or Clark, who didn't bother to show up. They went with Edwards - pretty face, and under the radar. The problem for Edwards is that once he moves from being an abstract to a finite being, his appeal will falter.

As for writing off Dean, let's not forget the element of truth in what he said when asked about whether his support would transfer to another candidate. His voters are very, very, very motivated: partly to get rid of Bush, partly because they like the way Dean presents himself. The former support may fall off, the latter support will not. And that support will be sufficient to keep Dean around for the foreseeable future.

And, a final word to those who read yesterday's tea leaves as being bad for the GOP. Au contraire. Sure, Dean had some wind knocked out of his sails, and we all know Rove would love to run against Dean. But, Dean is not out, and we'll have a longer primary campaign - more time for Democrats to knock each other, more time for them to trot out proposals that will work in the primaries and not in the general election. Dean will be even madder than before - blaming everybody from Rove to the media to the other Democrats for stealing from him what was rightfully his. If you thought he was wild before, I'm guessing he's going to go even crazier (reference last nights 'concession' speech).

And, if it turns out that Kerry wins the nomination - that's a problem for the GOP? Kerry, the guy mocked across the Internet? The guy who wants to give the French a veto over US foreign policy to the French? The guy who couldn't figure out which way to think about the war in Iraq. The guy who wants to raise taxes? The guy with no money to run a viable campaign? They guy with a wife who, if she loans him the money he'll need, will become a not very appealing part of his campaign? He's the guy the GOP should be worried about????

My thoughts (if anyone is reading) on what Bush ought to cover tonight...

With this likely to be his last 'non-political' appearance, Bush needs to provide his approach to the issues on which he is receiving criticism from the Democrats.

For example, his 'unilateralism' - he needs to explain that (1) it wasn't, and (2) he won't give France a veto over American policy.

On alienating our 'allies' - he needs to explain that quite often, our supposed allies have different agendas, and when that happens, he will pursue what is best for American, not for Germany, China, France and Russia. And certainly not the UN, that collection of countries who do not share our values.

On Hussein not being an immiment threat - he needs to once again, remind people what he said. We approved of it when he first said it, but all of the criticism has helped us forget exactly what he said. Remind us and criticize those who distort his words (it's bad enough when he garbles his words, when others do it, it is unacceptable).

On his tax cuts bankrupting the country - remind everybody of (1) that everybody has a piece of the cut, (2) the cuts are responsible for a significant portion of today's recovering economy, (3) the rich pay an even higher percentage of the tax bill, and (4) raising taxes now would have a devastating impact on the economy. The key for him to remember is that voters only focus on other people's tax cuts to the extent that they feel that they are being screwed as a result. Bush has to show them that they are benefitting from the tax cuts.

On the deficits bankruping the country - this is also an issue that hurts in the abstract, but only to a point. Most people care about the deficit only to the extent that they feel that they are being negatively affected. Show them that they are not and the latent anger disappears. The way to do this is (1) point to the deficit as an investment in today's recovering economy, and (2) make the claim that economic growth will result in an ever decreasing deficit - AS IT DID IN THE 90s.

He needs to take credit for the positives, such as with Libya - it wasn't traditional diplomacy that worked, it was his policies.

He also needs to address the issue on which he has the biggest advantage (and potentially, the most exposure), the war on terrorism - he needs to tell people that the war is not over, that we are at risk. Tell us about the efforts and results in the war to date. Tell us that our enemies are still seeking ways to attack us on American soil. Doing so will remind people not to forget about this issue, or to give it less of a priority. It will also insulate him from political attacks should/when such an attack occur. He will have warned us - ahead of time, something Clinton never did.

And, he needs to address a few of his odder proposals - going to Mars, for example and the the immigration 'non-amnesty'. These are not hot button issues, he has to explain (1) why he feels it worthwhile to spend any time at all on these and (2) very importantly, he has to convince us that time here is not being taken from other more important issues.

Friday, January 16, 2004

A couple more examples of "did they think no one would notice"....

First, we have John Kerry, who according to Drudge, "proposed to "get rid of the Agriculture Department... A move -- that if successful -- would have likely have resulted in massive subsidies and cuts for Iowa's Farmers".

And, we have Clark, who provided testimony to Congress that belies his subsequent stump speeches (the one's where he is against the war, not he ones in which he was in favor).

Do these people not think they need to be consistent? Or at least have a really good explanation for why they are not?

Or, as I've asked before, do they just think we're stupid and not going to catch on? Or, even worse, that we will and not care?

I can see how President Bush drives Democrats crazy. Look at how he's driving us Republicans crazy...

Everytime he goes and does something goofy like his immigration of his Man-to-Mars proposal, he goes and does something great like giving a recess apointment to Pickering.

At least us Republicans get some of what we like....

Thursday, January 15, 2004

Following up on yesterday's posting about the latest Palestinian suicide attack, it comes as no surprise that Israel moved to close Gaza Crossing, since that is pretty much Israel's standard response to such attacks. The closing will, according to the story, prevent "thousands of Palestinians from reaching jobs", and cause "further hardships for Palestinians".

What a wonderful world the Palestinians live in. A world in which mothers decide to kill themselves rather than live to see their kids grow up - and get a parade for their efforts, rather than condemnation. A world in which thousands of Palestinians will willingly go hungry - remember, no condemnation -so long as a few Israelis get killed in the process.

Just another reminder, asDavid Adesnik points out of Golda Meir's comment that there "will be no peace until the Arabs love their children more than they hate Israel".

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

How many things are wrong with this story, Gaza Bomber and Mother Wanted to 'Become Shrapnel'?

(A) A mother who is more interested in killing Israelis than in living to see her kids grow up?
(B) A husband of five years who was reportedly clueless about what his wife was doing?
(C) A middle-class merchant family who instilled such pathetic values in their daughter?
(D) A 22-year old idiot whose 9 year desire to achieve Palestinian martyrdom predates the intifada by, what 6 years?
(E) A mother and father who were blind to their idiot daughter's 9 year dream of doing this?
(F) That ABC chooses to focus on the murderer, rather than the murdered?

The answer, of course: (G) ALL OF THE ABOVE

All of which makes me wonder how the Palestinians can even get a 21% rating in this survey of American Jews cited by David Bernstein over at Volokh. Given this, how could their score be anything higher than zero?

I bet there's more to this story than the headline Teacher Allegedly Punches Student.

The teacher, 63 years old, is accused of punching a 12 year old who allegedly was misbehaving and was coming at the teacher. Let's see if I got it right: a misbehaving student, after being admonished by the teacher for that behavior, comes at the teacher, the teacher takes action to protect himself from what he believes to be a threat, and it's the teacher who gets in trouble?

Whatever happened to Bloomberg's big push to make schools safer?

While Robert Moran on NRO makes some good points about how the GOP can lock up victory by exploiting the tax issue, I disagree with his specific prescription for doing so...

He first calls for making the tax cuts permanent. This would be nice, but it's not an issue to get people motivated - it doesn't put MORE money in people's pockets. To most people, the concept of expiring tax cuts is an abstract: it's off in the future and not something they're spending a lot of time thinking about - at least not now. As a result, they're not going to march in the streets pushing for that - again, not now. Moran also pushes for laws that would restrict the ability of the government to raise taxes, specifically requiring super majorities to enact tax hikes. Again, not an issue that will capture the enthusiasm of Mr. and Mrs. Middle America - especially now, when, despite the Democrats call for raising taxes, there isn't really any pressure to do so. He does come close on his call for a "Super Roth", but only close.

What would serve as an amazing motivational issue is making withdrawals from retirement plans and distributions from pension plans subject to no more than capital gains rates. This issue will affect almost everybody - and will affect an even larger percentage of the people who vote. Think about it: current retirees watching their balances shrink with every withdrawal - no longer will they have to take out $1,530 in plan assets for every thousand dollars they need for living expenses, they'll now be able to take out only $1,170 - an extra $360 earning interest, able to be spent another day. For workers who are worried about how much they'll need to accumulate, looking at their balances woefully short of that amount, unable to boost their contributions due, in part, to putting away for their kid's college tuition - this plan will drastically cut the amount of money they'll have to set aside in the future and will represent the equivalent of a major increase in the true value of their existing holdings.

Additional advantages in this is it's geared to the middle class: since there have long been restrictions on contributions to IRA and 401(k)s, nobody's been able to sock away millions in deferred revenue into these accounts. Pensions (real pensions, not the CEO designer accounts) are mostly held by the working middle. There's no easy way for the Democrats to attack this proposal as "another tax cut for Bush's millionaire friends".

Trust me guys, if you're looking for an tax issue that can galvanize interest like no other - this is it.

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

Not that I was voting for him anyway...

Not that I wanted him to be my doctor anyway...

But, this NYT story has the nugget that Dean scored a whopping 35 on a medical school exam - AND PASSED!

" The couple met at Albert Einstein Medical School in the Bronx, doing crosswords in neuroanatomy class ("She got a 99, I got a 35," he said. "34 was passing.")".

I'm not sure what is more weird: that this is the brainiac who so often makes fun of Bush? Or that 35 is a passing score...

This is ridiculous, unions getting a one year pass on complying with new Labor Department regulations, supposedly because the union needs "time to comply with the new "extensive and sophisticated" regulations".

So it's going to be a pain in the a** for unions to comply - so what? Since when is that a reason to ignore the law? Furthermore, what business is it of a judge to determine that an agency should have given extra time to affected organizations to re-program their computers and, if necessary, hire a few more people? In this case, the agency decided the regulation was needed and decided on an effective date that was consistent with the objectives of that regulation. In doing so, they also determined that such extra time was either not needed or not consistent with accomplishing the objectives of that regulation and, as a result, decided not to grant such extra time.

Somebody ought to (figuratively) slap that judge on her head. If not, get ready for the next round of "the homework assignment is just too hard, I need more time" arguments...

Monday, January 12, 2004

I just e-mailed Dean's web site, asking about the possibility that their supporters can circumvent the contribution limits by using multiple credit cards. After all, the average American has something like 6 credit cards; the name is often not quite the same on every card (some have middle names, others have initials, and so on). And not every credit card for a person is mailed to the same address. Going over the limit could likely be justified, in their hyper-rabid minds of his supporters, if it helps get Dean closer to his $200 million dollar target. By the way, why no thermometer type scale, showing how close to their target they are coming?

I'm waiting for a response...

Of course, the same potential problem exists for all the candidate sites that accept credit card donations, Bush's included. Of course, since we're of sounder mind than the typical Deaniac, and knowing that we don't need to circumvent the rules as there are many more of us than them, and being believers in the rule of law, even for laws we don't like, we Bush supporters would never resort to such behavior... so I didn't ask the Bush campaign the same question.

Not that I really should be giving advice to the Democrat candidates, but....

You're wasting your time with calls to raise taxes - even those of you who only advocate raising taxes on the 'rich' among us. As the GOP found out years ago, the deficit (and the national debt) are abstract concepts that do nothing to rile people up (normal people that is, not policy wonks and the occasional economist).

As an issue, raising taxes can work on two fronts: the impact of 'low' taxes' on the deficit and the national debt, and as an appeal to class warfare. As for the former, the deficit only matters to people if and when their sense their lives being impacted by the deficit. Until that point, it won't matter. And, with Bush readily throwing money at every issue, there isn't an area where people can say their lives are being impacted. Education, defense, agriculture, foreign aid, Medicare and so on are all getting hefty increases. Sure, people can argue that there should be even more spending, but they can't point to the deficit as the reason. As for the latter, class warfare, to be successful, has to have a connect between the anger and the target of the attack. In this case, the masses MIGHT be upset about any number of issues, but the Democrats are having no success at connecting this anger to the taxes the rich are paying (or, more accurately, not paying).

Which leaves Democrats going on and on, offering up this plan to attack the rich and so on, and getting nowhere with it....

Saturday, January 10, 2004

So Paul O'Neill has written a book that is critical of Bush, charging that Bush was a "blind man in a room full of deaf people" and was "intent on invading Iraq and was in search of a way to go about it".

Before we give him too much airtime - oops, too much time already - let's remember that O'Neill was an incompetent boob who was kicked out of office for being an incompetent boob. It would be silly not to presume that there's a fair amount of animosity here. In O'Neill's mind, he was God's gift to the Administration, to the Treasury Department and to the World (not necessarily in that order). How dare Bush fire such a person? Isn't that alone evidence of a fool? Time for a little payback. And that is what this book is, nothing more, nothing less....

Friday, January 09, 2004

This seems pretty screwy: Lea Fastow headed for trial because a judge wanted the right to impose his own sentence, rather than ratify a term agreed to by her attorneys and the prosecutors.

I'm not against a judge wanting to be able to impose a sentence. What's screwy is the idea that she has to agree to plead guilty before she knows what the sentence will be. Isn't the idea of a plea bargain, at least from the defendant's position, that it eliminates the doubt about the sentence should the defendant lose at trial? What kind of a contract requires one side to have no idea what they'll receive in return for their offer (in this case, her willing to plead guilty)?

C'mon, judge. Tell everybody NOW what you'll accept as a minimum term. Then let both sides decide on whether it's something they can accept. If they can, great. If not, so be it.

I don't understand the concept of 'dropping out of the labor pool', as reported in this story. People work, not because it's optional to them, but because they need the paycheck to pay the bills. Most people aren't sitting around with a bunch of money in the bank, which means they need a job. Unemployment benefits (despite the efforts of Democrats) only last for so long. The same with welfare payments. The ability to sponge off one's parents doesn't last forever. Two income families are usually that way because they need the money from the second job - again, people aren't working because they like to. Can you see the working spouse telling the now-unworking spouse that it's OK for them to 'take themselves out' of the labor pool? Me neither. Living on the street, in one's car, or in a shelter, at least to the sane among us, isn't an option either.

So, unless there's been some event in people's lives that allows them to treat work as optional - lottery winnings, for example - I don't see people sitting at home, announcing that they're just not going to look for work.

Thursday, January 08, 2004

For a little while now, I've been having some fun with one of what is often described as the 'Nigerian scam artists', where they offer me riches in return for a little bit of help, namely my bank account number. Using an almost-never-used e-mail account, I've been playing along for about three months, asking questions, seeing how fast it takes them to respond to my inquiries and so on. I've tried to strike the right pose, interested yet cautious. I thought about actually giving them an imaginary bank account but have held off, thinking that this might get me in trouble with the regulators - which would certainly ruin the fun that I've been having.

I've just found out that, in doing stringing this guy out, I must have gotten tagged as a hot prospect, as someone else is jumping in and offering me a similar deal - WITHOUT WAITING FOR THE FIRST GUY TO CLOSE THE DEAL! I'm shocked that there's no honor among thieves, I mean, among the "SON(s) OF FORMER MINISTER FOR GOLD AND DIAMOND HENRY ROLAND SNR. IN THE REPUBLIC OF LIBERIA".

Now, how am I to choose between the two deals? Should I set up an auction, let them bid for me?

Using Kevin Drum's thinking (hoping?) that a new liberal wave is but a few years away, since we get one every twenty years or so, then I guess I shouldn't count on the Cubs to repeat, since they only make the playoffs every ten years or so. On the other hand, there will definitely be another LOTR in 2004, since we've gotten one for the past three.

Whether liberalism enjoys a revival is going to depend on what happens in the future, sparked by people who may not have yet realized their calling, in championing issues that have yet to grab our idealism. Just as nobody could have confidently predicted the three previous waves, we're all guessing when it comes to figuring out whether liberalism is dead or just dormant.

But, if the GOP doesn't play its cards right, then all bets are off. Or, on?

FOX News gets it (unintentionally?) right when, in commenting on the Texas redistrictings, they write that "Democrats failed to convince lawmakers in a December trial that the map violated the Voting Rights Act".

It's nice to see someone actually start to refer to the courts as 'lawmakers' since that is so clearly the way the courts think of themselves...

Even if Bush trounces Dean this fall, Bush should not be able to claim a mandate, according to Diary of a Dean-o-Phobe, because Dean is "unpalatable to voters who would otherwise be open to an alternative to Bush".

Let's see if I have it right. Bush wins big, yet there's no mandate because he only beat a putz, not a 'palatable' candidate. But, if the Democrats nominate such a putz, they're putting him forward as the face of their party. If the American public then laugh in their faces, why shouldn't Bush and the GOP take that as validation that they and the programs they advocate are preferred over what the Democrats have put forward?

Sure seems to me that the Dean-o-Phobe is looking for a no-lose election...

Wednesday, January 07, 2004

With the Bush Campaign Having $99 Million in the Bank, wouldn't it be easier, more efficient to just pay the money out to voters?

Assume Bush would need about 50 million votes to win - that's $2 a vote. Admittedly, not a lot to motivate someone. But, take away the people who are likely to vote for Bush even without the monetary incentive, say 25 million or so people, and you're up to $4 a vote. Even better, the Bush campaign could probably avoid paying people in states that Bush would either easily win (the South, the Mountain West) or definitely lose (where?), concentrating their resources instead on the swing voters in the swing states. There probably aren't more than 5 million of these voters - presto, we're up to $20 a vote. Add to that the money that still could be collected, perhaps another $50 million (easy, that's less than $5 million a month). and we're up to $30 a vote.

Think about the positives: no having to watch campaign infomercials, instead of Seinfeld and Simpsons reruns on late night TV. Instead of endless news coverage of the campaign, we could get another reality show - from each network! We could get more news of people trying to con themselves into a share of a lottery payoff, of Prince Charles trying to kill Diana. Even more time for the Michael Jackson and Scott Peterson trials. More time for coverage of OJ Simpson's pursuit of the real killers. More time to argue about the real college football champion.

This would also provide incentive for even more people to participate in the election. Too many commentators lament the low voting rate - yet none of them have really offered any solutions. Paying money would definitely do the trick (it already works in Chicago, doesn't it?).

Of course, the challenger's campaign isn't going to sit quietly while the Bush campaign buys up the necessary votes. While they could continue with old fashioned campaigning, running commercials, going to county fairs, showing up at the various debates, they would probably elect (pun intended) to buy the votes of the voters they need. Which would mean that an auction system would need to be developed - EBAY, are you listening? (I'd like a 2% cut of the listing fees) Voters would list their vote for auction, state their state of residence and watch as the two campaigns competed to win their affection... The 'winning' campaign could easily pay through PayPal, or perhaps through these new debit cards, such as those that companies are starting to use in lieu of paychecks.

Now, there are some wrinkles to work out. First, it's reportedly illegal to buy votes, so we'll have to have a couple of good attorneys working on this angle - Eugene Volokh, any 1st Amendment angle that we can work? With the money coming from the campaign itself, I don't see issues with violating the latest campaign finance law's ban on expenditures from independent groups. Verifying one's eligibility to vote would mean tying the EBAY system into the voting databases of each state - I'm sure EBAY has already figured a way of doing this. Verifying compliance would also have to be dealt with - I'm thinking proxies, akin to those used by corporations, posted by the voter to an escrow service upon listing with EBAY and delivered upon confirmed receipt of the auction proceeds.

And, finally, to all of those who think that buying votes is crass, what do you think the candidates are doing already?

Anne Applebaum misses the point with her Mission to Nowhere column in today's Wahington Post. We don't want to go to Mars because we want to live there. Nor are we doing this because of the scientific knowledge we would gain. It's simple - we want to go to Mars in order to prove to ourselves that we can.

Life often consists of proving - mostly to others, sometimes just to ourselves - that we count for something, that we're capable of accomplishing things that we set out to do. And, what holds true for individuals also holds true for countries: people want to feel that their country measures up. What else explains the fever come Olympics time, of wanting your country to win? For America, a country blessed with unbelievable resources, both of material and brains, what better way of showing that we are capable of so much more than the rest of the world combined than by putting someone on Mars?

Right now, the American public sure could use something positive - we've got terror alerts, a polarizing election coming up. Sure, killing terrorists is worthwhile - at least to some, but it's a necessary evil (no pun intended). Doing so eliminates a negative in life, but oddly enough removing negatives doesn't always create a positive. Bringing democracy to the Middle East, getting rid of Hussein - worthwhile yes, but unfortunately not to us all and not that which lends itself to a catchy slogan. The other aspects of our society that ordinarily would count as positives - high standards of living, rule of law, democracy - we've had them for so long that we take them for granted and are no longer motivated by them.

In the 40s, we saved the world - great motivation, great payoff. Going to the Moon in the 60s was another example, albeit without the huge payoff. Sure, we rationalized what we doing with any number of reasons, but what we were really doing was giving the American people something to rally around at a time where there wasn't a lot of common ground between different factions. Putting into motion a plan to put something/someone on Mars would have the same result.

So we can't afford it - it doesn't matter! Some things just have to be done on faith....

With regards to Bush's (we're not calling it) amnesty, Patrick Belton, at OxBlog is laying it on a bit deep, when he writes that illegal aliens are "without the color or protection of law".

Huh? Last I checked, you couldn't shoot or steal from an illegal alien without going to jail, nor could you pay them less than the minimum wage or subject them to sub-standard working conditions (now, some people do that, but to the extent they get away with it, it is because it is not reported, not because no redress exists).

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

More on Pete Rose...

On SI.com, Tom Verducci writes "But now Rose has jeopardized the very best thing he had going for him. He has made those supporters who believed him all these years into fools, and left those who want to forgive him baffled when it comes to finding the sincerity in him that forgiveness requires."

Is it me, or does this sound a bit like the Clinton/Lewinsky affair? Clinton lied, and lied, and didn't lose a single supporter. Sure, Lieberman got all up in a snit, but when the vote came, he voted to acquit. Are the baseball writers who have been in Rose's corner going to do anything different? Sure, they'll profess to be shocked!, shocked! But they're already on the record as saying Rose deserves to be in and I wonder how many, if any, will have the guts to stand up and say that they were wrong, that it was wrong to have defended Rose all these years?

Even though my opinion matters not a bit, I'm hoping baseball, in particular Bud Selig, chooses not to reinstate Pete Rose, thereby keeping him out of the Hall of Fame.

Way too often, sports fans choose to ignore bad behavior off the field and occasionally on the field - provided that player deliver for them come game time. We choose to ignore behavior that we would never accept from our friends, our kids, our colleagues at work. Too often, we excuse this behavior with some comment along the lines of "(so and so) is an asshole, but he's our asshole". Philly fans overlook Iverson's antics, Ravens fans ignore Ray Lewis' thug-like behavior/demeanor (for crissakes, he was involved in a double murder! Yet, Baltimore fans cheer his name every time he makes a tackle. Just one more reason to dislike Baltimore.) Knick fans jumped with joy when Latrell Sprewell joined the team, ignoring his actions while at Golden State (yet, when he left the team, all of a sudden his behavior became inappropriate!)

Because of this, team management and ownership chooses to overlook player behavior - they know there are no points awarded for doing the right thing, for disassociating themselves from these players. The fans only care about winning, about having the trophy and the victory parade at the end of the season (one more time to get drunk). So why should ownership care? As long as the player can help bring home a few extra wins, they are accomodated (ie, not kicked off the team). You can count on one hand the number of times a team has done the right thing (Golden State with Sprewell being notable for it being the rare case where the player was kicked off the team rather than the coach).

Now, Pete Rose is a special case, a bit different from all the other idiots I am referring to - not because of the nature of his crime, his gambling, but because he no longer can contribute to any team winning a World Series. It will thus be interesting to see if baseball chooses to keep him out of the Hall of Fame - because unlike Sprewell who is still playing, Rose has no chance of bringing home a championship. Then again, neither does Sprewell.

Post-thought: imagine how things might have been different for O.J. Simpson had he still been playing (well) at the time he killed his ex-wife. He'd still be playing golf at Riviera. It just doesn't matter what you do, so long as you can still bring home the trophy. What a great lesson for today's youth. And an indictment of EVERY sportwriter who advocates letting Rose into the Hall of Fame, for every sports broadcaster who shows the highlights of any number of less-than-desirable NBA player (Ricky Davis), NFL player (Terrell Stokes) and so on...

Isn't this headline Democratic Front-Runner picks up Key Endorsement a bit delusional? The idea that Bill Bradley somehow rates as someone who matters in Democratic circles or that his endorsement of Dean is going to matter is silly.

Bradley, after all, was the guy who lost terribly to AL GORE! Bradley was the Wesley Clark of his day; a candidate with no real base of support hoping to get the nomination by capitalizing on the anti-front runner feelings within the Democratic Party. And he couldn't even pull that off. He ran a bad campaign, looked silly, looked like he wanted to be somewhere else, all while acting liked he deserved the nomination solely for having shown up.

So who exactly is Bradley's endorsement of Dean supposed to bring into the Dean camp? University professors? Already there. Wall Street Democrats? Some are already in Dean's camp, the others are too smart to let Bradley influence their positioning. Former NBA players?

Monday, January 05, 2004

In the Volokh Conspiracy, Tyler Cowen speculates on why there hasn't been another attack on US soil. I offer up my thoughts to the matter...

First, I'm knocking on wood....

Maybe Ashcroft, et al, have actually done a nice job of disrupting the terrorist support system in the country and kept potential attackers out - maybe.

Another possibility is that the terrorists don't have the creativity and ability to carry out a 'worthwhile' attack - high probability of success, low investment and high return on investment (lots of casualties). As horrific as the September 11th attacks were, they were in fact very simple to think up and to pull off.

Sure, any number of terrorists could go out and start shooting people, ala the DC snipers. But that's been done already and the body count just wouldn't rise to the level that would make it all worthwhile. Nor would a suicide bomb at a shopping mall generate the kind of return they're looking for.

Can you think of another attack that would be as easy to execute that would cause as much, in not more, damage as did the Sept 11th attacks? I've spent a fair amount of time playing scenarios in my head (I know, I know) and haven't thought of anything that meets the criteria.

As an aside, I think far too much effort is being spent protecting ourselves against the type of attack that is actually unlikely to ever happen - the exploding LNG tanker, the seizing of a nuclear power plant, exploding a dirty bomb, etc. All of these require significant skills, material, intelligence and planning - do any terrorists actually have the schematics for a nuclear plant, or the ability to seize control of and explode a LNG carrier? We're also spending a lot of time and effort trying to protect ourselves against a recurring airline hijacking - which I don't think will ever happen again - the passengers wouldn't be expected to sit passively (which may be why there's now a focus on foreign carriers - their passengers might not be expected to put up a flight). I'd advocate making sure all the 'easy to pull off, high casualties' type of attacks were looked at first - if indeed there are any such possibilities - then shift our resources to the harder to pull off type of attacks.

What a surprise to learn that Professors Favor Donating to Dean...

Who else would this liberal, anti-Bush, anti-Iraq war, anti-military (US military in particular), pro-gay marriage, anti-tax cut, pro-welfare state, pro-P.C., leeches of the US taxpayer crowd look to?

It is laughable that anyone could find this noteworthy, as Steven Weiss, the communication director of the Center for Responsive Politics, which ran the study, saying "Professors have not generally been courted for contributions in the past because they typically do not have specific agendas". Come again?

Friday, January 02, 2004

I'm wondering about why there's been so little press about Dean's record as a doctor, especially compared to the numerous stories that were run about Bush's business track record in business (no links, but you know they exist)...

Does Dean in fact have a record as a doctor? According to some of these comments he didn't practice much, if at all. Shouldn't we know? After all, while both are technically doctors, there's a big difference between someone with years of experience (Frist) and someone who got papered and then went to do something else - I'm not going to give the same credibility to someone whose experience was limited to his internship. If this is the case with Dean, I wonder how his parents liked paying the tuition bills only to have Dean never work long enough to justify the investment. How about asking Dean to explain why he took one of a limited number of spots in medical school instead of giving it up to someone who actually intended to practice?

Some of the other comments indicate that Dean did practice for a short time, suggesting that he performed abortions. If this is true, I'm sure there are lots of voters for whom this would be important. Free Republic seems to suggest that he did, this web site says that he did not. Isn't this an issue that warrants full disclosure? Is the (Dean friendly) media purposely avoiding the subject, knowing there is a big difference between being 'in favor' of abortion and actually performing them?

In fact, the only writing I've seen is this op-ed by Marjorie Williams in the Post who suggests that, as a former doctor, Dean is emotionally unsuited to be President. Of course, if he didn't practice, then he likely wouldn't have had time to develop that level of arrogance that we all love in our doctors. But, since Dean is, if anything, arrogant, he must have gotten that trait somewhere....