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My personal musings about anything that gets on my radar screen--heavily dominated by politics.
|What Makes a Soldier
I had a long conversation with my brother tonight--birthdays, and all. In the course he reminded me of something I knew but had forgotten: soldiers don't fight for their flag or their country, they fight for the man next to them in the foxhole. Never having served, I could not attest to this personally, but it smells true to me, and since I have read this from Colin Powell and others, and my brother attests to it, I will accept it as truth. My brother further says that for John Kerry to leave the foxhole and, in effect, call all of the men down there with him criminals and murderers was the gravest betrayal he could commit. All of his noble service can not atone for that act.
But you don't just have to take his word for it, through me; you can take the word of an accomplished author and Vietnam SpecOps commander, who wrote this (also sent to me by my brother):
Open Letter to John Kerry:
My wife had rotator cuff surgery earlier this year, and the recovery is
terribly painful. Then, she developed a staph-epi infection, and they had to
cut the same scar open and operate on her again. Just thinking about the
pain and anxiety of facing that painful surgery a second time in the same
wound, makes me cringe. That experience, however pales in comparison to what
I am going through right now, in my heart.
The old hurts are surfacing and the feelings of betrayal by fellow citizens,
and their leader stirring them up, are breaking my heart again. I am being
cut in the same scar. How did we who served in Vietnam suddenly become
cold-blooded killers, torturers, and rapists, of the ilk of the Nazi SS or
the Taliban? Most of us were American soldiers who grew up idolizing John
Wayne, Roy Rogers, and all the other heroes. That was why I volunteered. But
for political expediency, John Kerry has rewritten history, again. After
spending only four months in the country of Vietnam, John Kerry testified
before Congress in 1971 with these exact words about incidents he supposedly
witnessed or heard about from other vets: "They personally raped, cut off
ears, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals
and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at
civilians, razed villages, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food
stocks, and generally ravaged the countryside of South Vietnam."
I was a green beret officer who volunteered for duty in Vietnam and fought
in the thick of it in 1968 and 1969 on a Special Forces A-team on the Ho Chi
Minh Trail, just for starters. We were the elite. We saw the most action.
Everybody in the world knows that. But we did not just kill people, we built
a church, a school, treated illnesses, passed out soap, food, and clothing,
and had fun and loving interaction with the indigenous people of Vietnam,
just like our boys did in Normandy, Baghdad, Saigon, and everywhere American
soldiers ever served. We all gave away our candy bars and rations to kids.
Our hearts to oppressed people all over the globe.
My children and grandchildren could read your words, and think those
horrendous things about me, Mr. Kerry. You are a bold-faced, unprincipled
liar, and a disgrace, and you have dishonored me and all my fellow Vietnam
veterans. Sure, there were a couple bad-apples, but I saw none, and I saw it
all, and if I did, as an army officer, it was my obligation to stop it, or
at the very least report it. Why is there not a single record anywhere of
you ever reporting any incidents like this or having the perpetrators
arrested? The answer is simple. You are a liar. Your medals and mine are not
a free pass for lifetime, Senator Kerry, to bypass character, integrity, and
morality. I earn my green beret over and over daily in all aspects of my
Eight National Guard green berets, and other National Guard soldiers, have
been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, and you totally dishonored their widows
and families by lumping National Guard service in with being a draft-dodger,
conscientious objector, and deserter, just so you can try to sabotage the
patriotism of our President who proudly served as an Air National Guard jet
pilot. I have a son earning his green beret at Fort Bragg right now, and his
wife serves honorably in the Air National Guard, just like President Bush
did, and I am as proud of her as I am my son. I volunteered for Vietnam and
have no problem whatsoever with President Bush being our Commander-In-Chief.
In fact, I am proud of him as our leader.
John Kerry, you personally derailed the Vietnam Human rights Bill, HR2883,
in 2001, after it had passed the House by a 411 to 1 vote, and thousands of
pro-American Montagnard tribespeople in Vietnam died since then who could
have been saved, by you. Earlier, as Chair of the Senate Select Committee on
MIA/POW Affairs, you personally quashed the efforts of any and all veterans
to report sightings of living POW's, when you held those reins in Congress.
You have fought tooth and nail to push for the US to normalize relations
with Vietnam for years. Why, Mr. Kerry? Simple, your first cousin C. Stewart
Forbes, CEO, of Colliers International, recently signed a contract with
Hanoi, worth BILLIONS of dollars for Collier's International to become the
exclusive real estate representative for the country of Vietnam.
"Hanoi John," now that it works for you, you beat your chest about your
Vietnam service, but to me, you are a phony, opportunistic, hypocrite. You
are one of those politicians that is like a fertilizer machine: all that
comes out of you is horse manure, and you are spreading it everywhere.
Medals do not make a man. Morals do.
Canon City, Colorado
Don Bendell served as an officer in four Special Forces Groups, is a
best-selling author with over 1,500,000 books in print, a 1995 inductee into
the International Karate Hall of Fame, and owns karate schools in southern
Happy birthday, John. And thanks.
Growth figures for the fourth quarter were revised upward, indicating a very strong positive direction for the economy.
As soon as the jobs picture starts to fill in, this issue could become the lead jab of the President's one-two campaign punch. And with the cross being the devestating (to the Dems) issue of terrorism and security, this could be a quick bout.
Too optimistic? Perhaps. It remains to be seen which politician shows up for the campaign--the candidate who took out McCain and then Gore, or the President who tries to stay "above the fray."
For the first time in a while, I watched Jay Leno last night to see his interview with Mel Gibson.
Gibson struck me as an almost manic figure at this point. Not out of control or unbalanced (like Robin Williams), just a person consumed with a passion for a project who has been caught completely offguard by continually having to defend himself from hateful personal and artistic attacks. The money line, when asked about his response to his "critics": I try to turn from the point to work to love them--that's the message of the whole movie (not a verbatim quote).
Leno, for his part, was surprisingly respectful. At the end he thanked Gibson for his commitment to his vision, and seemed truly sympathetic to Gibson's plight. And not that that is surprising for Leno--I have no way of knowing if this is typical for him or not. I suppose its just strange to see a media figure treat a devout Christian with respect in public for taking a very publicly religious stand.
|A Moment in the Sun
One of the local radio 'wits' posited the question today "What, exactly, are they (conservatives) protecting marriage from?" So, of course, I called in (under my nom de phone).
The answer is that we are not protecting marriage from anything; what we seek to protect is the rights of a community/state to decide standards within the community for itself, as decided on by the people through their elected representatives. When a small majority of the Mass. Supreme Judicial Court says that not only is a law passed by the legislature wrong, but that the legislature must write a new law a certain way, the judiciary has overstepped its rightful role in the proper scheme of things. And if I had any confidence that judges elswhere would uphold the Protection of Marriage Act signed into law by President Clinton, then this amendment would be unnecessary. Unfortunately, the judicial branch has taken upon itself to dictate the terms of the issue to the people, and have taken rightful role of the legislatures away from them. The only way to protect the correct role of the three-part nature of government may be through a constitutional amendment.
The conversation went on after that briefly, but the host had no answer for me. He tried to trick me into a trap of inconsistency, which failed.
After having to articulate this point, I may be coming around to the idea of supporting this amendment. In terms of controlling an activist judiciary, this may be the most effective way. And as much as I loath amending the Constitution for social policy reasons, somehow the judiciary has got to be put back in its box.
Let's say that my view on this issue may be evolving.
I can't help but think this quote is highly, highly relevant to just about all of the descussions lately:
There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. --C.S.Lewis, "The Screwtape Letters"
From John Kerry: "Terrorism is primarily an intelligence and law enforcement issue"
Gay marriage:"Gays should be afforded the same protections in marriage as straights"
The Passion:"This depiction of Christ's last hours is obsessively violent and virulently anti-Semitic"
What do these quotes have in common? A basic, and fundamental, misunderstanding of the nature of evil, and an ongoing effort to water down the truths of the ages. Quite in line with Lewis' first error.
|One More Strike Against Free Exercise
This ruling from SCOTUS is, to me, the most troubling piece of news of the day. I've followed this case (Davey) from its start in Washington, and, frankly, can't imagine for the life of me the legal logic of the case. Granted, I haven't read the decision, but to separate studies of God out from studies of math, or science, or other studies seems to me very shallow thinking.
I wonder if they would revoke scholarships from students who study Islam? Or even just a general Religious Studies?
|More on Gay Marriage
My wife, who has a much stronger dose of common sense than I, put the gay marriage debate in sharp terms for me tonight. Before we had children, the gay lifestyle was barely an anomaly to us, much less a problem. In fact, we have someone very close to us who is gay, and my wife lived with her before we were married, and she lived with us for a while to get through a rough patch. And her lifestyle was nothing to us early, and more recently--after two children--it was difficult. There are some questions that you just don't want to answer to an 8 year old, much less pretend that everything about it is normal.
I guess it's not enough for the gay left that it's part of the mainstream culture now; and it's not enough that acceptance of gays is expected, rather than questioned. No, now we have to have access to every single facet of life which the other 96% enjoy, regardless of the logical basis for it.
By the way, in what way is marriage a fundamental right? It seems to me to be a priviledge. Some days more than others. . .
|Not Quite What We're After
The sign at the Pentacostal church is disgraceful. I am gratified that the efforts of Jews and Christians alike (including Bill McCartney) were successful in getting the message altered.
Christ died for me, and for all sinners, that we may know life everlasting. That he chose the Chosen People--the Jews--to deliver the message is irrelevant to the message, and to the hope it represents.
I hope--and pray--that this incident is highly isolated.
I am struck tonight by the juxtaposition of the main currents of conversation in pop culture: gay marriage and "The Passion of the Christ." My thoughts on this are a bit embryonic, so bear with me as I try to draw out some meaning from stray ideas.
First, I have blogged before about my views on gay marriage: I don't think the state has any role in marriage--gay or straight--except to recognize the domestic merger aspect of it. However, I do give the President credit for coming out and taking a stand--unlike his opponents--and for framing it in terms of an out-of-control judiciary. Hugh pointed out the added benefit that this guarantees that this issue will be a subject for debate this election. I am also noticing that this is--for the first time in a while--a cultural/civil rights issue in which the Republican position is consistent with that of the vast majority of the American populace.
Second, I have not seen "The Passion;" however, I have every intention of seeing it at my earliest convenience, and I am quite looking forward to it. I have heard that it can have a powerful, revelatory effect on those who are receptive to it, and I think that I am, for perhaps the first time in my life, open to it.
That said, the way these two events overlay each other today is in the opposition to them. One critic of the film compared it to Nazi propoganda; the obvious term of the opposition is Anti-Semitic, which is just another word for bigoted. And, of course, isn't that the single most common accusation thrown out at opponents of the gay agenda?
In both cases, a small minority looks the majority in the face and hurls epithets at them, clearly intended to cow the majority into caving to the agenda of a fringe. To establish the math of my case,I think it's safe to say that there are more Americans who believe in the Biblical version of the Passion than who don't, and the polls are running almost 2-1 against gay marriage. So what has emboldened or enflamed the minority to the degree that it is incapable of a civil discourse on the subject?
I would submit, to a large degree, the answer lies in the behavior of the majority, with a big assist from the courts. Were the majority to stop acting embarrassed by its status as the majority, and willing to take the rhetorical and legal steps to protect its position, it could easily overwhelm the minority position and relegate it to its due status. As to the "point guard" in this equation, the courts are what drove me to begin working for Republicans four years ago, and it's even more important now to give the President a Senate majority that will confirm judges who will uphold--not create--the law.
Safe to say that the culture is now front and center in the national debate. Good. You'll find me on the front lines.
This still feels like un-formed thought to me. I welcome others with more learned thought to pencil in thoughts in red ink to help me bring this together.
|The Battle Is Joined
The President, for all intents and purposes, began his campaign tonight in front of the Republican Governors Association.
Says the President: "The other party's nomination battle is still playing out. The candidates are an interesting group, with diverse opinions: For tax cuts, and against them. For NAFTA, and against NAFTA. For the Patriot Act, and against the Patriot Act. In favor of liberating Iraq, and opposed to it. And that's just one senator from Massachusetts."
By comparison, says John Kerry: "We don't need a president who just says, 'Gentlemen, start your engines, we need a president who says, 'America, let's start our economy and put people back to work.' "
I like the comparison. Someone said on Fox tonight that the Dems have spent $27 million to attack Bush, with no rebuttal. Now the President's campaign is about to counterattack with four times that amount--nobody's ever seen this type of onslaught.
Kinda how the Taliban underestimated the US military's counterattack. Hmmm. Interesting how easily that analogy came to mind.
|On a Personal Note
Not much interested in politics today--my daughter turned eight.
She is my oldest, and is like the sunshine in my world. It is really amazing how quickly little girls get inside a father's heart and just sit there, forever occupying all its space.
And, of course, they throw out of the heart the side effect of sheer terror! See, an eight year old acts like a little girl still, but is capable of remarkable leaps of intuition which let you see what their future will be like, and, unfortunately, looks suddenly older than they did a week ago. It doesn't help that my girl is in dance, and is quite good at it; her enthusiasm for some of the movements is, well, to a father, distressing. In another three years those same movements are going to have little boys stopping in their tracks and staring at her like, well, I did at their age. Luckily, she is starting to show interest in joining me in Taekwon-Do. I can't do anything about her growing up, and I can't change the nature of boys, but I sure as heck can give her the means to "discourage" the idiots out there.
And if you don't think fatherhood changes your politics, you are either deliberately naive or hopelessly guilty. Would I rather have Kofi Annan as my daughter's protector, or George W. Bush? This is a no-brainer, and I am stunned that anybody would side the other direction. Of course, they do; and many of those people buried their children after Sept 11.
This is, at this point, all I think you need to know about this election. Polls don't matter, the rhetoric is pointless, and the fact that the Dems are still shooting at each other is key. The President is sitting on a huge war chest, and when the time is right he will unleash his considerable resources on whomever the left eventually puts up.
The one thing that the delay in joining the fight has forced: this will undoubtably be a gruesomely negative campaign. I hope the President's team is thinking in terms of two phases: kill the enemy, then sell yourself as the good. Kind of a '"Morning in America" after you've killed the burglar in your home' style of campaign.
|But. . .
One word in defense of the University of Colorado (not Barnett, not the athletic dept, etc): these guys are 18, adults, and wholly responsible for their own actions.
This is prompted by a TV interview one of the Regents gave tonight, in which she said (not verbatim) "we assumed they (the athletes) were supervised, that the coaches and staff had control of them. . ." That is not a coach's job.
Does that excuse actions taken within the team setting? No. NO. a million times NO! And to the extent that these actions are a part of the culture of the team, the team has to answer for it. But the coaches are not babysitters of 18-22 year old men living on their own, sometimes far from home. If the Regents end up blaming the team, and in effect absolving the individuals, this would be a criminal and laughable miscarriage.
|The Sky is Falling. . . In the Blue States
My disdain for polls, especially at this point in the cycle, will become a broken record by the end of this election cycle. I don't put much stock in a poll that swings 13 points in nine days; nor do I invest much in another poll that's got the Prez up by 5 points, having made substantial jumps in the day-to-day numbers in the past few days.
However, a poll that at least attempts to look at the election how it really works is at least a little interesting. Zogby conducted his poll on a red state/blue state basis, with the results very encouraging. The President beats John Kerry handily in the red states, while being in the margin of error across the board in the blue states. All the President really needs to do is hold the red, and sandbag a couple of the blue (say, Illinois, New Mexico, Minnesota or Oregon) and we get an electoral landslide. Frankly, I don't care if he loses New York and California by 40% (though I would love to see him compete in CA, hopefully helping knock out Barbra Boxer), as long as he holds the red and grabs a few swing states.
The money graf:
Q. Who would do a better job of dealing with Al Qaeda, Saddam Hussein, Moammar Gaddafi, North Korea and Iran? George W. Bush or John Kerry?
Fifty-percent of voters said Bush would do a better job compared to the 33% of voters who felt John Kerry would do a better job. Fifty-eight percent of current military members and 53% of veterans feel that Bush would do a better job while 32% of current military members and 27% of veterans gave the nod to Kerry. Gun owners and investors by overwhelming margins of 63% to 23% and 58% to 28% respectively, feel Bush would do a better job in dealing with rogue states and leaders. Non-investors also thought Bush would do a better job in dealing with rogue states and leaders by a margin of 48% to 35%. Church-goers and non-church-goers alike thought Bush would do a better job. Daily church-goers and weekly church-goers favored Bush by margins of 57% to 22% and 62% to 21% respectively. Non-church goers also favored Bush to deal with rogue nations and leaders by a 42% to 36% margin. Forty-nine percent of NASCAR, high school sports and little league sports fans think Bush would do a better job of dealing with rogue states and leaders and 33% felt that Kerry was the better choice. Forty-eight percent of non-NASCAR fans also thought Bush would be better to deal with rogue states and leaders while 32% favored Kerry.
It's the war, stupid!
Of course, Zogby had Ted Strickland up by 9 pts two days before he lost by 5 to Sen. Allard two years ago, so. . . At least this model is interesting; I'm waiting to see the Battleground Poll come out. Celinda Lake and Ed Goeas ran this model in 2000, and I think it was the best model at that time.
|Speaking of Tin Ears. . .
Maybe while he's serving out his administrative leave, Gary Barnett can sneak in a little bit of course work. . . like, maybe, PUBLIC RELATIONS 101!!
Seriously, I'm not sure how anybody rose to the position he holds (or held) without some small degree of sense about things like this. What he said about Katie Hnida as a player may well be true--but you don't say that when asked about her rape! You say something like "Well, Katie was a real nice kid, worked real hard, and it just didn't work out for her at a major Division 1 Program. We wish her all the best." But, no. . .he has to go and throw fuel on the fire.
There are so many interesting questions about this whole situation.
1. The Leadership sets the tone. If Katie felt like she couldn't come forward with these allegations at the time, then it's safe to say the environment was somewhat hostile. As a leader, its your first job to take care of the people in your charge. Period.
2. Boys will be boys, and locker rooms will be locker rooms. But I've always felt that the leader's job is to change people, to help them improve themselves, and the "sport" was the medium--use the lessons of the game to improve the person to improve the team. Yes, a certain aggressiveness is desirable in a football player; but strong leaders emphasize the importance of taking care of each other, and projecting a positive image of the program to the public. Somewhere, these boys got the message that this sort of behavior was tolerated, if not accepted. There's a problem.
3. I wonder if Coach Barnett would be on leave if he was just coming off a 10-2 season with a Bowl appearance.
4. Remember Craig Ochs? The "best" QB CU ever recruited, who left the program two years ago citing the coaching staff's hostility to his religious practices? Makes you wonder, don't it?
5. For that matter, refer to Marcus Houston, a stud running back who CU recruited in the same class as Ochs. He left the program because the staff was hostile to his extracurricular charity and community work.
6. I understand that a major program expects a certain commitment from its players. That said, it tells you something about a program that starts to lose talented athletes who have well established strength of character.
I will be interested to see this play out. I hope for the sake of my alma mater that these allegations prove to be baseless.
But I'm not optimistic.
Just when you thought it would be all John Kerry, all the time for the next 8 months, tonight happens. By only managing to beat John Edwards by 40-35, Kerry missed the chance to slam the door on the nomination. This means John Edwards contesting this thing until probably March 9th, with four southern primaries on that day,and very likely a bit of a nasty campaign left. I think Edwards really does think he can win a head-to-head; based on tonight's speeches, I'd bet on it. John Kerry gives a speech that even Chris Mathews calls "hum-drum, or worse"; and John Edwards delivers a line that even got me laughing--Wisconsin sent a message: objects in the mirror may be closer than they appear."
Add to that the word that Ralph Nader may jump in to this thing, and I'm getting a little optimistic. It may not be the "Perfect Storm" I wrote about months ago, but it's a pretty good gully-washer.
Frankly, I was just too happy to have the day off to do much blogging. Besides which I was working on two submissions for a writing "contest," and we started having siding put on the house. All in all, just out of it.
However, I did get to see the Kerry salvo at the President's appearance at the Daytona 500. If this is the best he can muster, and its his intent to make this the level of discourse for the next eight months, then so be it. "We need a President who can start the economy." Blah blah blah. Add to that his filibuster in the debate to the question "will you see yourself as a war President?" and I think the battle lines are pretty starkly drawn. On the one side is the serious people, and on the other are the John Kerry backers. Do these people not learn? They were trounced in 2002 for the same type of rhetoric, and they just refuse to see the reality. Luckily, the President will be at ground zero right after Labor Day for a whole week, just in case people forgot.
|On A Lighter Note
I just saw a commercial run that caught my attention. It starts out very dramatic: "Do you know that by the time a child is five they will have acquired most of their Kindergarten readiness skills?"
Which, I suppose, is a good thing. Seeing as how kindergarten actually starts at age five.
I wonder at what age children acquire the remainder of their Kindergarten readiness?
Or is it just me?
|A Good Point
My brother, who flies planes for the Navy, made a very good point this week in an e-mail exchange. Quote:"I don't really care what GWB did 30-plus years ago. But I do care
if he looks like a baffoon defending himself for those actions 30-plus years
Now, I wouldn't use the word 'buffoon', but there can be little doubt that the White House has really bungled the handling of all this and let the story stick around beyond the point where it would have done them any favors. And I think if public approval is starting to fade, it's because the White House has become slow-footed and has lost the initiative.
I would bet that most of the country is like my brother (he's just that kind of a guy): they don't particularly care what happened back then, but how you answer to it now is an indication of whether you learned anything back then or not, and whether you are sure enough of yourself and your own character to handle the pressures of the job. For the first time, this President has looked unequal to the task. And that's a problem.
|Anybody Else Notice. . .
One aspect of the parallel scandals issue that has gone completely un-commented on--at least as far as I can tell--is who is keeping the story alive. In the case of the Bush National Guard issue, it started again with Terry McAuliff, bounced through several elected officials, received a "no-comment" from the leading Nomination Candidate, went back through the DNC chairman, and is now a full-blown "thing" in the elite press corps. In the case of the other scandal (which Hugh is referring to as "it"), it started on an independent website and was picked up only by the foreign press.
In other words, one non-story was created by party officials, has been remarked upon by party officials, and is being kept alive by the mainstream press, while the other story. . . hasn't. In other other words, people who should be expected to behave responsibly have gotten a free pass and media help with a Big Lie, while different independent sources have gotten stony silence with what might be a truth. Don't begin to tell me for a minute that there isn't a double standard here. When a major party levels baseless and incendiary charges there is an abundance of coverage and little skepticism of motives; when an independent reporter levels an accusation--with some substantiation--there is silence. And let's not forget the nature of the charges--one is a felony and a disgrace, the other is tawdry but meaningless.
At the very least, the Democrats should have to pay a price for stooping to these depths. Unfortunately, the people most needed for that sort of accountability are complicit in the act.
|Surprisingly, Environmental Truth
Linda Seebach, in the Rocky Mountain News, has a remarkable column on the results of a recent conference of environmental activists. The money quote:
Greenpeace co-founder Patrick Moore said that when he helped create Greenpeace in 1971, "I had no idea it would evolve into a band of scientific illiterates who use Gestapo tactics to silence people who wish to express their views in a civilized forum. I had no idea the movement would oppose genetic engineering and other programs that could benefit mankind - and adopt zero-tolerance policies that so clearly expose its intellectual and moral bankruptcy."
Anybody with a nugget of scientific background and a little clarity has long since recognized the complete shoddiness of the "science" the environmental movement has been using. But for core members of the movement to publicly denounce that is remarkable. A must-read.
|Keep Your Focus
First and foremost, let me say that I do not care a whit for whatever dalliances John Kerry has had with anybody in the last 40 years. They are irrelevant!! And, certainly, there are enough real issues to run this campaign on that a sex scandal is pretty trivial.
However, the media's lack of attention to the whole thing IS interesting. If digging up a thirty year old story that has been vetted twice without substance is news, than this story is news. If a single journalist can make the case that the press corps has done the same diligence with regard to the National Guard story that they seem to be going through for the Kerry/intern story, then I will back off. Until then, the credibility of the press is taking yet another major hit, and the rise of the internet as a major source of news is confirmed.
Too bad that this 'source' of 'news' is Matt Drudge, who has all the credibility of, well, Matt Drudge.
This proves that a young George W Bush did report for duty in Alabama; this demonstrates both that he did duty and argues that ANG records from thirty years ago are, at best, inconsistent; and, oh yeah, there is that Honorable Discharge thing. That's game, set and match.
On the plus side, if the Dems really want to argue what happened thirty years ago, I'd be happy to revisit John Kerry's activities once he got back from Vietnam. Say, for instance, his perjurious and slanderous testimony before the Congress.
If the past is to become fair game, let's open it up. Hunting season is on, gentlemen--load up!
|One Last Thought
Has anybody noted the complete stupidity of the DNC in its scheduling of the convention? How is it that they missed the obvious choice of New York City for the location--even if the GOP was going there? And who thought it would be a good idea to start the spending campaign in July, while the President can hold off spending general election funds until September?
Is there any question that Terry McAuliff is the best gift the GOP has gotten in a long while?
Oh, and to answer the first question above: they want nothing to do with anything that might remind Americans that we are at war. So while they talk populism in July, the GOP can throw the stark reminder down in September--after Labor Day--and, to some degree, coast in.
|Getting Tired of This
This whole National Guard thing is starting to grow very tiresome. Again: what does service thirty years ago have to do with judgment today? I would think that behavior in the last, say, decade, would be a stronger indicator of good judgment. And that is a debate the left just doesn't want, so of course they focus on the thirty years ago part.
Not that I'm worried. The more I learn about Kerry, the more absurd it seems that he is considered the most credible candidate to beat the President.
|Clarke Is Out
This can only be seen as a good development--out goes one more whackjob.
And, it should be noted, the hand-picked candidate of the Clintons.
Has anybody else noted that the two Dems with the most money as of Jan 1. (Clarke and Dean) are now dead and mostly dead ("I'm not dead yet--I feel better!)? I wonder what happened to the theory of elections being purchasable?
|Thank God for Al Gore
Just when it looked like the news cycle would be dominated by the President's less-than-spectacular performance on Meet the Press, here's comes Al Gore to remind us that speechifying ability isn't all it's cracked up to be.
Has there ever been anybody in modern politics with less sense of timing or proportion than Al Gore? How much would we have to pay to get him to make a prime time speech at the Dem National Convention?
|What to Do Now
With today's Pro Bowl, the NFL season came to an official end. I always look into the next seven weeks of the year with a kind of empty feeling--no football, baseball still far away, and basketball and hockey pretty meaningless right now (come on, any sport that has half the postseason games as regular season doesn't put a lot of importance in this time of year). Heck, with the recent weather, even golf is out of the question. I'm just not sure what to do with myself during this time of year.
Okay, that's a stretch. But still, I do like to have the option of flipping on an interesting sporting event to get away from the cesspool that television has become. I have a couple good books in queu, and that should tide me over, but I welcome any suggestions for surviving the winter doldrums from anyone out there.
|Hmm . . .wouldn't this be interesting?
Powerline has an interesting post on the possibility that al Zarqawi may be in custody already.
It's tempting to put a lot of weight in such speculation. Unfortunately, speculation has become sort of an albatross around the hopes of the GOP for the last year. I'll wait until there's something a bit more concrete in hand.
|One Question For John Kerry
Mr. Senator, given that you allowed the 1998 Iraqi Liberation Act to pass the Senate by unanimous consent, and that you voted to give the President the authority to take action in 2002--though you have since said that you only wanted him to have the "threat" of force available; and given that you have since said the war in Iraq was a bad idea and that you voted against the $87 billion appropriation for the ongoing operations in Iraq, would it be fair to characterize your approach to threats as one in which threats and resolutions are more valuable than action?
I wonder if there's some way to sneak that into some debate.
I saw almost all of the Russert interview in two stages today. Two conclusions leapt to mind: one, this President has got to join the battle; and two, he should avoid interviews.
As to the first part, I think the President has a compelling argument to make. Simply put, given the information that came across his desk, he could not afford to risk it all on the vague hope that Saddam was telling the truth or unwilling to attack with what he had. The President as much as said this, and it may have been the best moment of the interview for him. I think WMD's have become a straw man argument, comfortable for lefties to lean on when the truth of their position--that they would rather still have Saddam in charge--is laid bare. Unfortunately, nobody is making this argument loudly enough. And the President said at one point that John Kerry is not the nominee yet; I think it would be foolish to wait until he actually was the nominee to start firing back.
To the second point, I think this President has an unusually clear ability to see the world for what it is, and to make sound judgements about how to act in this world. Unfortunately, the gift of articulating this ability is not his. Every once in a while it strikes me that while his folksy language may be perect for moments like visiting Ground Zero, there are times where I wish he had half of Tony Blair's gift for rhetoric.
It will be interesting to see which quotes, if any, survive the news cycle. I would imagine that this interview will fade into the footnotes of the 2004 election. In that, it may be an unfortunate wasted opportunity.
|And These Guys Are Serious?
This ABC story, which, admittedly, is probably not the final word, has Denis Kucinich coming in third in Washington behind Kerry and Dean--with Edwards and Clark trailing behind.
Now, I know Edwards and Clark didn't make much of a push in Washington, but come on!! Even when the bully doesn't feel like fighting, he doesn't want the 98-pound weakling throwing him down in the main lobby. IT WOULD BE EMBARRASSING!! Besides, even without a push, Edwards and Clark should have resources to match Kucinich anywhere, anytime. Puh-leease!
|Reality on the Economy
The Rocky Mountain News ran this interesting graphic today (which I can't find on the website to link).
Peak Unemployment During Presidential Terms:
If the dim ones really want to make jobs the number one issue, I recommend they try. Only one of the previous Presidents had a shooting war--this one has had two; none of the previous had to deal with an event as catastrophic to the economy as Sept. 11; and none of the previous Presidents (with one possible exception) has seen an investor class rocked by scandal as much as this one. And yet, the numbers show an historic strength in employment. Couple that with the current rate of 5.6%--well below the historic average--and it will be very hard for the other side to make jobs the major issue.
"But this President has seen the loss of 3 million jobs-- a worse record than any President since Herbert Hoover" How is that possible? First of all, if we've lost that many jobs and the unemployment rate is still where it is and the economy is still growing at a healthy rate, that calls into the question the validity of such a number. And, secondly, that's a very comfortable statistic for the dim ones to fall back on if they choose to ignore the Labor Department's household survey, which indicated growth of almost half a million last month.
"Oh, the deficits are reckless and blah blah blah" Hugh Hewitt had an interesting discussion this week: as a percentage of GDP, this deficit is 4.5%; deficits during the Korean conflict and VIetnam were in double digits; and deficits during WWII were over 100%. Clearly, there is a history of deficits rising during times of war, and, historically speaking, this deficit is not such a big deal. Do I wish the administration were better at reining in spending? Sure. But let's not get carried away, shall we.
I know there are places--manufacturing in particular--that have been hard hit with job losses in the last few years. But it seems that the overall job picture is not as grim as the Democrats would have you believe. It's high time somebody went out and made the administration's case. If only they could get some time on a national show, maybe one of those question-and-answer deals. . .
|And Another Thing
The dim ones have sidestepped for months the issue of Pres. Clinton (note the use of honorific--an etiquette lesson the dim ones should take) reaching the same conclusion about Iraq and WMDs. Again last night DeeDee Myers jumps around the issue by saying "but he never took us to war."
And, yeah, you're right, DeeDee, he never did. Even though he concluded that Iraq was a danger, possessed WMD's and signed legislation--actually, more like a resolution--calling for the end of the Saddam Hussein regime, President Clinton never did anything to bring about this change.
The fundamental difference between this President and those who have been and who wish to be President is that, given the same set of facts and conclusions, this President resolved to solve the problem. They want to lob missiles and give speeches and incorporate commissions; this President wants to solve problems.
This, I think, would be a persuasive line of argument, if the White House decided it wanted to actually join the battle. Maybe we'll see some of this on Sunday.
|Some Quick Math
Two points of departure: the low end estimates for the number of bodies that will be unearthed in Iraq's mass graves is 300,000; Saddam Hussein rose to power in Iraq in 1979. And an assumption: those bodies in the mass graves arrived there during Saddam's rule.
300,000 bodies in 24 years, which averages out to 12,500 a year; at 365.25 days per year, that means a little more than 34 dead every day--and I don't think that total includes the thousands of Kurds gassed to death or the millions killed in Saddam's wars.
So when one of the idiots says "we should have done it different; we needed to give the inspectors more time; we needed the UN on board", they are, in effect, sanctioning the murders by Saddam of an additional 10,000 Iraqis (if you figure the killing stopped when we overran Baghdad).
If memory serves, our allies did not ever raise a hue and cry about the dead; nor did the inspectors ever make an effort to establish the violence of the regime; nor did the UN ever do a damn thing about the systematic obliteration of the Iraqi people.
Next time you engage one of the dim ones, ask them which 10,000 Iraqis they are content condemning to torture and death in the interest of "international cooperation."
|I Hope the Pres has the Moxie to Bring Pictures. . .
. . .of the 7 pound block of cyanide salt that was found at an Iraqi safehouse for the chief Iraq-Al Qaeda interlocutor. Seeing as how this story has been missed completely in the mainstream press, the President has something approaching a duty to shout this information from the highest mountain. Russert's show ought to do.
Just, for a second, imagine some of this dropped into a water supply. That's why we're there.
|What are they Thinking?
I'm trying to figure out why the Dems are trying to re-argue Vietnam and make it an issue. Even if actions 30 years ago were a strong indicator of the ability to make sound judgements today, my candidate's 3 years flying jets and 4 years as Commander-in-Chief trumps your candidate's four months as a speed boat commander.
And, please, don't think I'm disparaging John Kerry's service--I'm not at all. I respect that he was in theater, took fire and brought his men back alive. But I suspect it wasn't quite the way he's retelling the story.
And, by the way, every time one of them intimates that the President did not deserve an Honorable Discharge, they not only impugn the integrity of George W. Bush, but of his commanding officers, fellow reservists and the entire military. It may be okay to say he missed some time, but to go further implies a conspiracy at many levels of the military, and I can't imagine that's a winning formula.
|A Story You Probably Haven't Heard
This was forwarded to me by my instructor. I hadn't heard it before, but it needs to be widely disseminated.
At the Foot of the Cross -- by Charles Colson
A Story You Haven't Heard
Angel Tree, our Prison Fellowship program for prisoners' children, is
one of the great unheralded volunteer outreaches in America. Over the
Christmas holidays these past few weeks, approximately 100,000
volunteers delivered Angel Tree gifts to more than 525,000 children of
You didn't read about this in the newspapers, nor would I expect that
you should. It's not really that newsworthy that Christians help people
in need. But there are two of our volunteers, who delivered forty
presents, that I think you should have read about but didn't. For
reasons best known to themselves, the media ignored the fact that two of
the volunteers were President and Mrs. George Bush. And they delivered
gifts to forty inner-city kids in a church basement three days before
President and Mrs. Bush arrived at three-o'clock, Monday, December 22,
at the Shiloh Baptist Church in Alexandria, Virginia. Now, presidents
don't move anywhere without a great deal of fuss. The police were out,
the roads blocked, and Secret Service were roaming around the church.
And when the president arrived, he was accompanied not only by his own
team, but also by a pool of reporters, forty or so members of the press.
For ten minutes they popped their flashbulbs, scribbled their notes, and
then were ushered out.
I remember from my days with President Nixon what photo opportunities
are: Get the picture and leave. So I thought the Bushes would shortly depart,
but they didn't. They stayed long after the cameras were gone to greet
every child, to have their picture taken with them, their mothers, and their
grandmothers, to talk with them, and to ask questions. Though the press
didn't report it, I noticed that both the president and Mrs. Bush talked
to the Hispanic children in Spanish.
Just before the president left, I introduced him to Al Lawrence, a
member of our staff. I told the president that I had met Al more than
twenty years ago in a prison. Jesus had got hold of Al's life, and he's
been working for us ever since. Then I told the president that Al's son
was now a freshman at Yale. At that point the president stopped,
exclaimed, "We're both Yale parents," and threw his arms around Al
Lawrence? an African-American ex-offender being
embraced by the president of the United States in a church basement. The
ground is indeed level at the foot of the cross.
I tell you this story because it's a wonderful Christmas story, and you
probably haven't heard it. With all those reporters who crowded into
that basement, the visit resulted in almost universal media silence.
I suppose there are many explanations for this, but I'll offer mine. The
president is a Christian who really cares for "the least of these," who
does this not for photo ops, but because he's genuine. That is something
that his detractors in the media simply can't handle. Conservatives
caring for the poor? Never. It dashes the stereotypes.
But surely Christians ought to be rejoicing that the most powerful man
in the world and his wife, a couple of days before Christmas, had a
wonderful visit with the most powerless people in our society.
After all, that echoes the Christmas message, doesn't it? The most
powerful came to be with the least powerful to give us hope.
We'll wait to see what the final test results are in the morning, but the seeming discovery of Ricin in the Senate Office Building is, well, interesting.
Notice how all of these chem and bio attacks are aimed at the Senate? How much you want to bet it's not a foreign combatant involved in this so much as an American who spends too much time watching CSPAN?
|Talk About Your Bad Weeks. . .
I think if you asked the question in earnest "Who has had the worst two weeks--George W Bush or Howard Dean?" you would open up a lively debate.
The two new polls (courtesy RealClearPolitics) that show the President trailing John Kerry in a head to head matchup are certainly cause for concern. Last week when the Newsweek poll came out, I was skeptical. However, these new polls, while probably not definitive, certainly lend credence to the idea that Pres. Bush's re-election is far from a shoo-in.
As I blogged last week, I think this has a lot to do with the President's recent initiatives which all seem to be little more than pandering. In the process, he has abandoned the strength of his Presidency--his leadership--while courting constituencies who would never in a million years vote for him in significant enough numbers to tip the balance. On top of that, John Kerry is the "hot hand" right now, and people want to be associated with a winner, so he's enjoying quite a bump.
As to the earlier question: certainly President Bush has the advantage of being alive still. Howard Dean's only hope is, at best, Monty Python-esque (I'm Not Dead Yet!). Out of money, down in the polls, hopelessly off message. . .
At least the President isn't out of money.
|How To Describe. . . ?
My wife only watches the Super Bowl with me for two reasons: the commercials and the halftime show. So, as good as the actual game was, she came away from the whole spectacle disappointed today.
First of all, the commercials, while there were a few pretty funny ones (Bud Light and the Pepsi bear), were a bit below the normal Super Bowl standard. Not bad commercials--just nothing that anyone will be talking about around the water cooler tomorrow morning.
Of course, who will be talking about anything other than the halftime show. The Janet Jackson "Is it cold in here" moment notwithstanding (hey, you seen one, you seen 'em both), that halftime show had to be singularly the most excruciating "show" experience I can remember. The music was abominable, and if that's where dance is headed, my daughter is being pulled out of dance lessons tomorrow. Hugh used the word "tacky" to describe the performance, and I think that's spot-on. I can't imagine the network folks were really happy about the whole thing (probably as happy as they were when the Cowboys (that organization renowned for its class in the late 90s) won with such class, grace and eloquence on live TV a few years ago), and anybody who really wanted to see that kind of show was probably tuned in to the Pay-per-View lingerie bowl.
Thank God it was decent--hell, that was a great!!--football game, or the embarrassment to the NFL and CBS would be complete. I hope to hear some official apologies on the morrow.