My personal musings about anything that gets on my radar screen--heavily dominated by politics.


OPEC Placing A Vote For Kerry

So the OPEC ministers voted to cut production, likely driving the price of gas at the pump through the ceiling. Great.

Unfortunately for John Kerry, since he's on record as advocating a 50 cent increase in gas taxes, his comatose campaign can't even capitalize on this.

But it leads to another thought: if you really--really--want to change the world, invent a form of energy that is not internal combustion related. I'm not talking about advocating hybrid cars, which change the mileage by a factor of, what?, 1-1/2, 2? Imagine having a form of energy that would change the mileage in your car by a factor of 50 or 100. Obviously, it would have enormous economic benefits. But, more importantly, imagine having a Saudi royal family that was bankrupt, an Iran without the money to build nuclear plants, and an Arab world that was unable to hold the world hostage to its whims.

Just a thought. I'm just the idea guy, though--one of you engineers out there need to get to work on it.

This is one of the reasons I'm increasingly optimistic of space exploration. Somewhere out there we're going to find or figure out another way to do this, and its going to change the world.

Reflections On The Atrocities in Fallujah

Much of this is old thought, as friends of mine know. But, in light of the horrors perpetrated by the citizenry of Fallujah this day, I feel they bear repeating.

Americans must embrace the principle of Civis Americanus.

Two-thousand years ago a Roman citizen could walk the length and breadth of the known world without fear. Why? Because the world understood that the response for any action hostile to a Roman citizen would be devastation the likes of which they could barely imagine. It was a principle that has come to be known as Civis Romanus. In the 18th century, it was said that a British citizen travelling the world took with him the respect and the might of the British Empire, with similar results.

It is time that the Americans be free to rebuild these barbarian's country.

The price of actions like those today should be a rain of fire on a region the likes of which most petty cowards cannot begin to imagine. The price of supplying and shielding those same cowards must be devastating. And the price of ignoring the presence of those cowards in your midst must be harsh and unyielding. When people who are in your city trying to rebuild it get shot, immolated, dragged through the streets and hung from a bridge, your city forfeits its right to exist.

It is folly to pretend that Americans are merely other citizens in the the global community. We are hated for what we represent, simply because we are free. And, at that, we have the temerity to think that others would like to be free, too.

I do not advocate striking back like a terrorist. I advocate striking back like 100 terrorists. 1000 terrorists. 10,000 terrorists. 10,000 terrorists who have at their disposal the most sophisticated weaponry the world has ever known. 10,000 terrorists who have been trained to be the sharpest edge of any weapon any government has ever wielded. There should be no diplomacy or police action--there should be one violent slash with our terrible, swift sword and end the fool's game of pretending that we are less than we are.

The dragon has, until now, been fairly benevolent; every once in a while it must wake and breathe fire to remind the villagers that it is more than a myth.


What Do The Troops Think About the WMD Joke?

Thanks to Joshua I found the Wall Street Journal site that posted the responses of military people to the President's joke last week.

Two things are notable: one, of the 101 responses, only 3--THREE--were negative. Kinda lays lie to the outrage of John Kerry. And two, those three negative responses are, at worst, disappointed in the President. In my judgment, the harshest criticism was along the lines of the political blunder potential.

Again, the left is pathologically incapable of understanding this President's connection to the military and to the red-state public. That pathology will play out in November.

I Wonder. . .

So the White House has agreed to let Condi Rice testify before the 9-11 Commission.

This smells a little like a rope-a-dope. Had she gleefully gone before the commission and presented evidence that was absolutely damning of Dick Clarke, Madeleine Albright and Bill Clinton it could have been written off by the left and the press. It also would have guaranteed that she share time on the evening news with the likes of the above. This way, she can be the story--she will dominate the news cycle, and her testimony cannot be written off as a White House attack.

If I'm right, this is a brilliant move. George W Bush, the poker player, strikes again.

I also think I heard that the commission has asked Monsoor Ijaz to testify--he's the guy who broke the story that the government of the Sudan offered bin Laden to the Clinton administration on three separate occasions.

This is beginning to look worse for the Democrats.

To Clarify. . .

My interest in John Kerry's "Catholicism" is only partially theoligical--I think there is, on the horizon, a major storm brewing for so-called liberal Catholics like Chuck Schumer, Pat Leahy, Ted Kennedy, and Kerry.

But I would never presume to judge Kerry's status with God. The Church has made its position clear, and true believers hold that that constitutes a window into God's mind. I am neither qualified to make such an assessment, nor am I in such a position with my own Faith to spend a lot of time or energy worrying about anybody else's, save my children.

My interest in this story is mostly political. That storm I mentioned would have significant repercussions in Massachussetts, Pennsylvania, Ohio, upstate New York, and the Southwest, where Catholicism is a signifacant part of the culture. What seems to be happening is that the Catholic Bishops are now becoming a significant constituency in American politics.

I know there are Evangelicals who don't put a lot of stock in the Catholic Church or its moral authority; but I think the Church did play a role in the 2002 election, and as the cultural divide widens, it will be harder and harder for Catholic politicians to straddle the gulf.


Bishops Join Denver's Own in Politicking

I was going to start this post with a link or a copy of or excerpts of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch story on Archbishop Burke's statement that he would ". . .have to admonish him [Kerry] not to present himself for communion" because of his pro-abortion political stance. Unfortunately, any links to the story or the story itself have been removed from the Post-Dispatch website. Hmmmm. Wonder why.

Hugh Hewitt had a lengthy discussion of this issue on his program today, making the point that Archbishop O'Malley of Boston (Kerry's home diocese) is now squarely in the crossfire of this debate. While waiting to see what the Archbishop has to say, I will post (as promised) a copy of the letter ARchbishop Chaput of Denver wrote two years ago on the matter. Instructive, tosay the least; damning of Catholic, Democratic politicians, at worst.

Right to life foundation on
which all other rights rest
October 9, 2002

If we want peace, we need to work for justice. The one depends on the other. They can't be separated — in our relations with other countries, or in our politics here at home.

In his great letter to the world "Pacem in Terris" ("Peace on Earth"), Blessed Pope John XXIII wrote that every human society, "to be well ordered and productive, must lay down as a foundation this principle, namely, that every human being is a person" with rights and obligations.

He said that every person "has a right to life, to bodily integrity, and to the means which are suitable for the proper development of life; these are primarily food, clothing, shelter, rest, medical care, and finally the necessary social services."

He also added that "the right of every man to life is correlative with the duty to preserve it." In other words, we not only enjoy the right to life; we also each have the obligation to defend it for others.

What does this mean for Coloradans today, especially in an election year?

First, it means that pious words about human dignity mean very little unless we do something about them. We need to act on our convictions. Christian sentiments can only become a Christ-formed culture — a culture of life — when we witness our Catholic faith in all our economic and political choices. We can't talk about the sanctity of life in the womb and then fail the needs of the poor, the homeless, the immigrant, the elderly or the single-parent families in our midst.

At the same time, no amount of good policy on "the social issues" makes up for bad policy when it comes to protecting society's first priority: the right to life. The right to life from conception to natural death is the foundation on which all other rights rest.

A nation cannot systematically kill its unborn children and then witness to the world about human dignity. To the degree that Americans tolerate and even encourage abortion, euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide, we contradict our own founding principles as a people. These acts of violence — "legal" or not — are direct attacks on the sanctity of the human person, direct and grievous violations of human dignity. No Catholic can willingly collaborate in them without turning away from his or her faith and undermining any personal claim to discipleship.

If we're disciples of Jesus Christ, we need to act like it. If we don't, we're not. Every abortion kills an innocent life. No disciple can have any willing part in such violence. And wherever abortion is part of the culture, part of the law, we have the duty to work to change it through personal involvement in the public debate, and by holding our elected officials accountable not only at election time, but throughout the year.

Elections bring important issues into focus in a special way. All of us as citizens have the right and the obligation to vote. And every vote is an exercise of political power, for which we will be held accountable by God. What separates real citizens from political consumers is the act of voting with an informed moral conscience.

Oct. 6, Respect Life Sunday, began the annual Respect Life program for American Catholics. It's a good time to reflect on God's great gift of life, the many public issues that flow from it, and the priorities we need to have in defending it. Next month, in the November elections, each of us will face the task, in the voting booth, of building a culture of life — or its opposite. Each of us will make that choice as an individual, but we'll bear the consequences as a community. So we need to choose well.

People who want peace work for justice — beginning with justice for the weakest and most vulnerable among us, from conception to natural death. We need to remember that as vividly on Election Day, Nov. 5, as we do today.

+ Charles J Chaput, O.F.M. Cap.
Archbishop of Denver

+José H. Gomez, S.T.D.
Auxiliary Bishop of Denver


I Had A Nightmare Today. . .

First, courtesy of Powerline, from one of the London papers:

Osama bin Laden ordered the alleged mastermind of the 9/11 attacks to organise a massive strike on Heathrow Airport to punish Tony Blair for his support of the US, it has been revealed.
He told his operations boss, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, to target the world's busiest airport at a meeting in Kabul soon after the attacks on the US, according to interrogation transcripts seen by Britain's Sunday Times.

Bin Laden described the British Prime Minister as his "principal enemy".

The claims by Mohammed, captured in Pakistan about a year ago, have reportedly been cross-checked with confessions by other al-Qaeda operatives.

Mohammed's account is the first confirmation of al-Qaeda's desire to strike Heathrow Airport. Planning for the attack, which involved operatives from Pakistan, was disrupted by the US bombing of al-Qaeda strongholds in Afghanistan.

He also reveals that al-Qaeda had originally planned to hijack 10 planes in the September 11 attacks, sending five against targets on the US west coast and five against the east. Potential targets included the Library Tower in Los Angeles and the Sears Tower in Chicago, as well as nuclear plants, Hollywood studios and bridges.

The west coast plans were foiled when Zacarias Moussaoui was arrested at a US flying school a month before September 11, the Sunday Times reported.

Then, as I was thinking about what to watch on TV this afternoon--after Duke holds on in a thriller and some 23-year old sinks a 10 footer to win the TPC (10 foot putt worth $600,000--no pressure)--and I'm mentally scrolling through the usual suspects of weekend afternoon cable movies, I scroll past "The Seige" in my thinking, and two things click together.

Remember that movie? Denzel Washington, Bruce Willis, Annette Benning. . . about a series of terrorist attacks that cause New York City to be put under marshal law. . . which leads to a massive protest. . .which becomes the final target of the terrorist cell. . .

Isn't there some big event in New York City this summer, say, late August/early September? And haven't huge numbers of organized idiots already proclaimed their intentions to protest that event, choking the streets with humanity and chaos?

al Qaeda has absolutely no compunctions about attacking the very people who wish we wouldn't do what we're doing--note the early targeting of New York and la la Town. I suspect they would love to be able to mirror art (though that might be giving that film too much credit) . . .

just my nightmare.

The Right Reverend John Kerry Speaks

John Kerry gave a speech at a Baptist Church (was it a sermon? the article is unclear) today. The White House, according to the article, is worked up that he quoted Scripture to attack the President.

I'm worked up on two different fronts. First, imagine the outcry if the President, who is well-known (and in some circles, hated) for his devout beliefs, gave a political speech in a church. It would be story number one in the cycle, with all sorts of punditry pontificating about propriety, appearances, and Constitutional provisions (not to mention alliteration!)! Al Gore seemed to be able to get away with this sort of thing four years ago, as well--but Bush got hammered for speaking at a college that had religious affiliations. Again, again, the double standard.

But, secondly, what right does John Kerry have quoting Scripture or claiming any teaching authority? As the article says:

Kerry is Roman Catholic, but his support for abortion rights is at odds with Vatican teachings.

"I don't tell church officials what to do, and church officials shouldn't tell American politicians what to do in the context of our public life," Kerry said in an interview with Time posted on the magazine's Web site Sunday.

In other words, that which he lays claim to as his religious foundation is, in fact, one which he has rejected. And I'm not one that usually adopts the conceit of criticizing another's religious practice--mine own is human enough. But I have some history with Catholicism, having a one-time seminarian for a father. And for those of you out there without the Catholic background: you're not simply allowed to pick and choose which parts of the Faith you, personally, are subject to. As I recall, two years ago Archbishop Chaput wrote eloquently about public persons obligations vis-a-vis their faith, and if I can find the link, I will re-post that letter as soon as I can.

At the same time, I hope somebody has video of this speech. I have a hard time picturing the pedantic, post-modern politician connecting with the congregation at this predominantly black church. Could be quite a spectacle.

I don't know what it is with the alliteration thing. Must be the cold medicine.


So You Wanna Fix the Tax Code,

I thought--maybe I'm wrong here--but haven't you been in the Senate for, like, 18 years? And just now you're coming up with a proposal to fix the tax code to be more jobs-friendly?

Oh, I see--your legislative record is not all that impressive. Only 6 bills passed in 18 years, and three of them strictly ceremonial. So I would expect you to have a much easier time with legislation as a President with a hostile Congress. Good plan.

And, by the way, 10 million jobs?? Where'd ya get that number from? Follow the logic--tax credits for one year for keeping assets in the US, while losing all the tax benefits in perpetuity from having offshore assets seems to mean actually lower corporate profits which leads to. . . the creation of 10 million jobs?

I'm anxiously awaiting the analysis of this plan by real economists and people who know this stuff well. I'm just some dumb schmuck with a computer--which, I'm pretty sure, is what Kerry is banking on.

Update on the Judiciary

All Nominees Will Be Blocked, say the Democrats.

And this would be different from the current practice how. . .?

More On Clarke, ad nauseum

This thing is like a car wreck--it's tremendously distasteful, stomach-turning, and hackles-raising, but for some reason I can't turn away from it.

I think the party is right to move to declassify Clarke's testimony before the Congressional Joint Inquiry. Of course, the left will scream that that's just the hit machine at work again, the politics of personal destruction. Because its that sort of high-minded debate that allows them to make wild assertions with no credibility at all. Politics ain't tiddlywinks;the left has taken their big swing at the President, he has a right--almost an obligation--to answer that swing with one crisp jab right to the nose of the opposition.

To review: in the press backgrounder, Clarke has the choice of being political or being truthful--he chose political; before the Joint Inquiry, he had the choice of being political or being truthful--again, he chose political. And now, with his book flying to the shelves, he has the choice between being mercenary or being truthful--are we to now expect him to be truthful? Gimme a break.

Best Laugh All Day

Richard has the best bumper sticker I've seen in a long while posted at his site. Laugh out loud.

Where To Begin, Where To Begin. . .

How about the Pledge of Allegiance?

Full disclosure--these thoughts are not new. I had the bulk of this idea published as a letter to the editor of the Rocky two summers ago.

Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of, or restricting the free exercise, of Religion.

Let's start with a simple question: what is religion? Look at the major world religions, they seem to be united in two aspects: they have a vision for the afterlife founded in faith--the belief in that which is not proved; and they are marked by rituals.

So in what way, exactly, is atheism not a religion? Is there any way of knowing that there is no God? For those still on Earth, obviously the answer is "no." In point of fact, the vast majority of anecdotal evidence, from across the spectrum of cultures, points to the existence of some higher power,though the exact shape and form is a matter of disagreement. So is it not, absent proof, an article of faith for the atheist that there is no God? In other words, the nihilistic vision of no afterlife is not able to be proved, and is therefore based solely in faith.

But, you might ask, what sort of rituals mark this belief system? Clearly, in practice, the primary ritual of the atheist is litigation. It is an attempt by those who hold this belief to get the rest of American society to--if not conform to atheism--at least not have any public forum in which to assert their own belief system. Think carefully: if the atheist really believed in no God, then what would be the harm in public displays of religion? The true believer should look upon such rituals as Christians look upon pagan ceremonies in the outback, the jungles and the savannah: with indifference and, perhaps, superior scorn. But they would not go to such lengths to prevent everybody from executing their rituals--they would simply refuse to take part and walk past shaking their heads. Unfortunately, this is not what they do; the atheist creed is such that they must effort to prevent others from making any mention of their own belief system in the public square.

If this definition and line of logic can be accepted in even the smallest degree, how offensive must it be that courts have acted to establish atheism as the dominant religion in American public life? Not just the assertion of a majority, as the founders were primarily concerned with, but the tyrannical imposition of the views of a tiny, tiny minority. This is truly offensive!

And why the judiciary is, ultimately for me, the reason I got involved in politics and will work to get Republicans in positions to nominate judges and Republicans in position to confirm judges.

More on Clarke, III

So Dick Clarke apologized for his and the government's "failures."

Does this open up a liability issue for the government or for the members thereof? I'm no legal whiz, and I know there's that Limited Governmental Immunity out there, but does the public, under-oath admission of negligence expose anyone to liability?

Also, the group that has seemingly gotten quite a pass in this whole hullaballoo is the Church Commission. Wasn't it that goofiness that made it a law that the CIA and the FBI couldn't talk? Doesn't it seem that that's a pretty important piece of the puzzle here?

Just a thought.

Economic News

Thank goodness for a little good news--okay, not really news, just a confirmation of good news from a few weeks ago.

Now it's incumbent on the President to make the case that the important job index is the Household Survey. It doesn't look like the numbers from the employers index will ever come around, but part of that is because jobs are in different places than that index measures. So far, they've been a little slow on this issue.


Polls, polls, polls. . .

The gents over at Powerline are all worked up over the Rasmussen Tracking poll, which took a five-point turn two nights ago. I think the cynic on staff is thinking this is the fat lady warming up offstage.

I take a different thought. Five points?? In one night on a three-day tracking poll?? Which (I'm no pollster, but I think the math goes like. . .) means that in one sample of one night Kerry held a 15 point advantage.
Right. So Rasmussen polled heavily in New York, San Fransisco, and Boulder on one night. Does anybody really think that Kerry holds even a 4-point advantage, much less a 15 point one?

Watch this space for the next couple days. I predict that once that night gets out of the mix, you'll see the numbers go back to essentially tied again.

For more lucid poll reading, check out this analysis in the WashTimes. If we learned nothing three and a half years ago, we should have learned that the popular vote means squat, and the electoral vote is everything. Right now, the Bush lead in Pennsylvania means the Dems are doomed, doomed I say!

More On Clarke, II

Two things are notable in the episode with Dick Clarke this week. One is the fawning treatment he's gotten from the press, which has blown his little diatribe up to be the most important policy book written since. . .well, maybe Earth in the Balance.

Second, I think the White House may have been outmaneuvered on this one. I understand the importance of preserving Presidential privilege, but Condi Rice should have gone in front of the committee. I'm thinking some last-minute negotiations could have gotten her on the docket right after Clarke. Imagine the contrast of this engaging, brilliant young woman following the pedantic, wounded old man, with testimony and knowledge that could bury every assertion he made within two hours of him making it. A blown opportunity.

I just remembered where I met Dick Clarke: college. Not him, specifically.. . but haven't we all had professors who were too inflated with their own importance to care about anyone around them, too safe in their tenure to recognize the real world, and too narrow in their specialization to understand the big picture.

I'm willing to grant that Clarke was probably an impassioned and dedicated public servant--at one time. Now he's just . . . I don't know--tired and ambitious.

More On Clarke

I've tried not to get too worked up over Dick Clarke. This letter by Rep. Christopher Shays, courtesy of Powerline, reassures me that I took the right tack.

As Chairman of the House Government Reform Committee's National Security Subcommittee, I want to provide some information relevant to testimony today by Mr. Richard Clarke.

Before September 11, 2001, we held twenty hearings and two formal briefings on terrorism issues. Mr. Clarke was of little help in our oversight. When he brief the Subcommittee, his answers were both evasive and derisive. He said a comprehensive threat assessment, as recommended by GAO, was too difficult.

Mr. Clark said it would be "silly" to try to articulate a national strategy. In lieu of a threat assessment or strategy, he offered a laundry list of terrorist groups, as if the fight against global terrorism were nothing more than a hunt for common criminals.

Clark was part of the problem before September 11 because he took too narrow a view of the terrorism threat. His approach was reactive and limited to swatting at the visible elements of al Qe'ada, not the hidden global network and its state sponsors.

The blind spots and vulnerabilities that contributed to the September 11, 2001 tragedy were apparent to many throughout the years Mr. Clarke was in a position to do something about them. Three national commissions - Bremer, Gilmore, and Hart-Rudman - had concluded the U.S. needed a comprehensive threat assessment, a national strategy and a plan to reorganize the federal response to the new strategic menace of terrorism.

Yet no truly national strategy to combat terrorism was ever produced during Mr. Clarke's tenure. Instead, several presidential directives and a Justice Department five-year law enforcement plan were clumsily lashed together and called a strategy.

After his uninformative briefing, we wrote to Mr. Clarke asking for written answers to specific questions: Why was there no threat assessment? When would there be a strategy? Who was responsible for coordinating federal spending and the federal response? We never got a satisfactory answer. A copy of our letter to Mr. Clarke is enclosed [included on the link with Shays' letter].

On January 22, 2001, the Subcommittee wrote to Dr. Condoleeza Rice to express our concerns about Mr. Clarke's narrow view of the terrorist threat and the urgency of mounting a strategic response. A copy of that letter is enclosed as well [also included on the link with Shays' letter].

I hope the Commission finds this information useful.

I didn't have the time or the stomach to watch all of Clarke's testimony, but he really comes off as a self-important, megalomaniacal bureaucrat who grew altogether too comfortable with his role in the scheme of things and could not stand being put out of the power circles. And his own words are coming back to haunt him and make him seem sad--almost pathetic.

Senate Passes Fetus Protection

This is encouraging. And that it passed 61-38 is somewhat impressive--including one NO vote from a certain Senator from Massachessetts.

I'm trying to remember the last time conservatives won a major social policy issue.

Sure, the proponents of this bill tried to reassure opponents that this wasn't about abortion rights. But it does open up a whole new sphere of jurisprudence: fetal abuse. If it is now a federal crime to harm an unborn child during the commission of a federal crime, wouldn't it now be a federal crime to, say, subject an unborn child to cocaine or heroin?

I'm sure this, too, will get tied up in the courts for a good long while. But its a great issue that draws a pretty broad consensus--and leaves the Boxers and the Feinsteins and the Murrays and the Kerrys on the wrong side of public opinion.


My SecDef Can Beat Up Your SecDef

But your SecState is really scary looking. . .

Of course, the dominant story today is the 9/11 commission hearings, which include this notable monologue:

"Honestly, I don't understand if we're attacked and attacked and attacked and attacked, why we continue to send the FBI over like the Khobar Towers was a crime scene or the East African embassy bombings was a crime scene. You said we had balance between military effort and diplomacy. And frankly, I've got to say, it seems to me it was very unbalanced in favor of diplomacy against military efforts....Madam Secretary, with great respect, after August of '98 you and I both know what we did. I think it's a straw man to say that we're going to have random bombing or indiscriminate bombing. That's not what we're proposing at all. I keep hearing the excuse we didn't have actionable intelligence. Well, what the hell does that say to al Qaeda? Basically, they knew -- beginning in 1993 it seems to me -- that there was going to be limited, if any, use of military and that they were relatively free to do whatever they wanted."
Former Democratic Senator Bob Kerrey

Others have started to more capably dismantle the dissembling of Albright, Cohen, et al. and make the case pretty forcefully that this current team did as much as it could. You keep hearing that the Clinton Admin "Had a Plan"--my guess is that this "plan" was little more than a pencil-written line on a yellow legal pad that says something to the effect of "Terrorism--bad."

Of course, what I find most striking is the contrasts, and the Fox website has a photo that pulls this together nicely. For your comparison: Albright/Cohen vs. Powell/Rumsfeld. I'll take P/R every day, and I suspect that a huge part of the nation feels the same way.


The Cycle

Of course, all the news cycle is breathless with the Dick Clarke thing today. I leave it to others more adept to deal with Clarke himself.

I have two other notes. One, it's good to see the administration getting its legs, with the troops out in full force defending the administration on several fronts; and two, didn't we see some of this same mania when Paul O'Neill's book came out? And where is that now?

I just don't think you can attribute much to people who have recently been fired--if their concerns were legit, they should have gone to the Congressional Oversight Committee and not tried to profit from their story.


With Friends Like These. . .

Let's see now. . .so far, endorsements from Mathahir Mohandas, Kim il Jong, and now Hugo Chavez.

If it's true that "you will be known by the company you keep," John Kerry has a lot of spin to do.

For Your Consideration

Jared has an impassioned and eloquent post(s) on the war. Required reading.

Also check out James--satire mixed with scorn served with eloquence is a deadly combination.


It seems, by accident, that Ben from Mt Virtus was at the same committee hearing on Thursday as I was. He does a pretty thorough dissection of Mike Littwin's delusions at the site--check it out, and welcome to my links, Ben!

I also saw Littwin at the hearing on Thursday, though it took until I was driving home to realize who it was. Most of my note of him during the hearing was along the lines of "why does that homeless guy look so familiar?" And I didn't have quite the constitution to survive three and a half hours like Ben, so I guess I missed a lot of the fun. My loss. . . NOT!


UN Oil-for-Food Program Under Investigation

According to this story Kofi Annan has just noticed that funds from the program may have gone to persons and purposes that it was not intended for.

And we had some doubts about the UN's competence. Why, I'm stunned they found the problem so quickly.. .after all, we've only had the documents in hand in Iraq for about 10 months now.

And this is the group John Kerry wants to hand US security over to. Puh-Leeze!

Iraq One Year Later

There are dozens of people better qualified to address this topic than I. . .

but that's never stopped me before.

So, from the simplistic outsider's view, I take the same approach as as I do for sports: scoreboard.
American dead: over 500--surely, a great tragedy, but well short of the dour predictions we heard before the war. Iraq then: a violent, horrid dictatorship; Iraq now: a Constitution passed, services returned, oil production back to normal, and the people hopeful. Elsewhere. . . Iran then: closed and repressive; Iran now: closed and repressive, but for a brief period when inspectors went in and found a thriving nuclear program. Libya then: busy building an enormous CBN program; Libya now: open to inspectors and dismantling their programs. Pakistan then: an ally with a thriving black market nuclear program; Pakistan now: an ally taking agressive action against al-Qaeda without the black market program.

On balance, I'd say the scoreboard looks pretty good for us.

Oh, and don't forget--still no terrorist strikes on US soil.

Knock on wood. . .


I Love Answers

Last night I framed the discussion about Affirmative Action, and then posed the question within that framework "Does It Work?"

Well, none other than Linda Seebach of the Rocky answered me: NO. She cited research by Bok and Bowen that provides the numbers, which I have yet to track down myself. Nonetheless, her memory was that "special considerations cases" flunked out of highly selective colleges at a rate three times that of their counterparts, and had very poor prospects for advanced degrees.

I will be tracking this down myself in the days to come. But its pretty cool to get an answer from someone tuned in.

Oh, There Goes One More Lug Nut. . .

Or, is it that John Kerry is the lug nut here?

This story tells you much about the character of the man. If he can be provoked by such as this, surely he will crumble in the lights of a good debate.

Perhaps he should stay on vacation--the less he says, the better it is for the Dems. He just needs to go to some secure, undisclosed location. . .


Interesting Day

I spent a good part of today down at the State House, and sat in on an Education Committee meeting in the afternoon. The big event was debating a bill brought forward by Sen. Jones--a black Democrat--forbidding the use of racial preferences in the state system, including college admissions. I was unable to stay until the end of the meeting to see if it got out of committee, but I suspect it came out on a 5-2 vote.

The room was full of the usual suspects--NAACP, League of Women Voters, and the like. But in the 90 minutes of debate I heard nobody address what is, to me, the central question: Does It Work?

You have to know two things about me. One, I very rarely have reflexive reactions. So where the far left would answer the above the question with an unqualified YES and the far right would answer NO I tend not to answer right away at all. Two, just about every significant idea goes through the crucible of "Does It Work" for me.

Now, I know that the left would answer that the programs DO work--enrollment is up, minority businesses succeed on the strength of government contracts, etc. . . But I propose that we put the whole question through a much more rigorous evaluative process. For instance, in the case of college enrollments the threshhold should not be do more minorities enroll, but do more minorities GRADUATE! It would be exceedingly cruel to make special exceptions to allow marginally qualified applicants to attend a school that the evidence shows they have little likelihood of succeeding at. Obviously, the data would have to be disaggregated to separate out those who clearly gain admissions based on merit from those who were marginal. But if it could be shown that those who arrive on the wings of a "plus factor" either succeed or fail at rates significantly different than the general population, it should be the central argument in the whole debate.

It calls to mind a basketball analogy. Suppose someone imposed on basketball a requirement that teams use shortness as a "plus factor" in deciding final rosters. Not, of course, when looking at starters, or even the first three or four off the bench; but when you're looking at filling those 11th and 12th roster spots teams need to consider being below, say 5'8" in height (yeah, I picked that number carefully) as a plus factor to increase the "height diversity" of the team. How would that help/hurt the team? Well, given that they hardly ever would play in a game, it probably wouldn't hurt the team, but then the starters would not get to practice against comparably-sized opposition, which would hurt the team in the long run. Are there benefits? Well, one could argue that the shorter players have to rely on different skills to succeed, and could expose their teammates to a different set of skills and perspectives on the game, and that would benefit all involved.

So then the question would be, do these players succeed? Clearly, the answer would have to be "no." I can think of exactly 2 players in the 25 years that I've followed the game that meet the description, and they were exceedingly rare individuals. So you could conclude that putting these players on the roster could reasonably be expected to lead to their failure--hardly the desired outcome of the program.

Does the same sort of logic apply to colleges? Is there data relevant to this point? THAT should be the debate, in my opinion, absent all the hyperbole and hystrionics.

By the way, if anybody wants to create such a basketball requirement, I've got some pretty decent low post moves.

Comes from having a younger brother a full 6 inches taller than me.

Oh, We Could Only Be So Lucky. .

If, as the story goes, we have al-Zawahiri surrounded, that would be big news, indeed. But let's not get out ahead of ourselves. . .

One can't help but notice the increased effert from the Pakistani side of the fence lately. I'm not certain, but it seems as if the trail goes from Pak involvement, to a deal not to prosecute AQ Kahn, to American intelligence uncovering AQ Kahn's black market. Both a success for American intel and for American diplomacy.

Wonder if that trail of reasoning will show up on one of the mainstream analyses.


Lisa Myers on NBC. . .

has some damning evidence against the Clinton administration vis-a-vis Osama and the blown opportunities to take him out fully a year before 9-11.

A Democratic member of the 9/11 commission says there was a larger issue: The Clinton administration treated bin Laden as a law enforcement problem. Sound like anyone we know?

One Clinton Cabinet official said, looking back, the military should have been more involved, “We did a lot, but we did not see the gathering storm that was out there.” Well, now we know--or at least, many of us know.

The Courage of Martyrs

Noticed who have been the targets of Iraqi terrorism lately? Missionaries. . .volunteers. . .and, oh yeah, Iraqis. If this is the courage of the terrorists on display, I'll take ten Marines against thousands any day.

%@*^!ing cowards.

Senate News

Jonathan has some good numbers on the upcoming Salazar-Shaffer Senate race. Check it out.

Oops, There Goes Another Lug Nut. . .

I actually voted for the $87 million before I voted against it. . .

You gotta think Democrats are wondering at this point "Is the warranty run out on this thing yet, or can I take it back. . ."?


Not too worked up about anything today, so just a few quick shots:

:Iraqis think they're better off now than a year ago; meanwhile, Iranians and Syrians are reportedly making a forceful case for internal regime change; hmm. . .freedom may actually be breaking out all over.

:France is on high terror alert--I wonder what this looks like. Do the gendarme lace up their sneakers so as to be able to run away faster? Do they loosen their belts so as to be able to toss down their sidearms quicker?

:as much as I like and admire this President, the debate I really want to see is Cheney-Kerry.

:I think, as bad as Friday in Spain was, the real attack which failed was the one in Israel on Sunday which, had it gone as planned, could have killed thousands.

:I may be coming around a little to Hugh's view of Spain; remember, GW didn't "own" 9-11 until that day at ground zero with the firefighters, which, if memory serves, was five or six days later.


A Face Only Mel Brooks Could Love

This picture of the new Spanish PM makes the guy look deranged. What's worse is that he actually sounds pretty deranged, as well.

I don't normally put too much stock in their "news", but Debka has a very interesting--and troubling--analysis of the order of Islamofacist attacks, with Spain getting hit in about the order they should have. Just something else to think about.

Of course, if you want a little more credible analysis, the estimable Victor Davis Hanson hits the nail right on the head.

The Wheels on the Bus . . .

John Kerry was confronted point blank yesterday with a challenge to the "world leaders" comment, and told the guy it was none of his business. Today, in fact, he expanded his statement to include "foreign business leaders." This, after last week accusing the President et al. of being "crooked and lying. . ." only to have to expand that definition to the Hillary-esque "right-wing attack machine."

Are we starting to see the most boring candidate imaginable actually be interesting only because he's unraveling before our very eyes? Just as the Dean machine advertised the cracks in its foundation in the weeks before the meltdown, I think the ground under the Kerry home may be shifting just a little.

One can hope.


Clay and Mr. Bob (both of which gents I will be adding to the links roll in the very near future) have both answered my question about the "baby-thing" to my satisfaction.

That bit of demonology was the only thing I could find absolutely no scriptural basis for. And my father, who is infinitely better informed on these matters, brought it to my attention. I understand and accept that the devil is always working to tempt us, and above all things wished for the failure of Jesus, so I had no problem with Satan circling the proceedings throughout the movie. But the baby. . . The baby just had me baffled. Turns out he was nothing more than an artisitic license device.

Thanks, gents


Polls, Polls, Polls

The IBD/TIPP poll (courtesy of Powerline and RealClearPolitics) has Bush ahead of Kerry 45-40, with Nader getting 6.

6? Really? My guess is, if they found a population that includes a 6% Nader vote, I'm guessing they may have overpolled the left.

Just a guess.

Still On My Mind

The Passion is still very much on my mind. One thing I would like some guidance on: what was the symbolism of Satan carrying that baby-thing around during the flogging?

Not that that lingering question in any way diminishes the power of the impact on me. It's just one point that I can't put in a box.

Fox Sunday

I continue to be impressed by Colin Powell--no so much in his effectiveness as SecState as in his effectiveness as a spokesman for the administration. Every time he goes out somebody tries to get him to say something against the administration and he smacks it down pretty hard. He needs to get out a bunch in the next few months.

Ah, the Backbone of Europe

I am, as most of the blogosphere, a bit distressed by the defeat of the Aznar government in Spain. Clearly, the message is "No mas! No mas!"

However, I have little reason to think of this as anything approaching a trend. Polls put the Iraqi war at 90% unfavorable in Spain, yet the Socialists only won by a 42-36 margin. This factored in with the complete and transparent bungling of the early stages of the investigation in Spain, and I have a hard time seeing how this is a major event. A Socialist will rule a European country with a minor plurality of the vote in his favor. Could be England, with the exception of Tony Blair's grasp of the obvious.

What does bother me is that this will enbolden al-Qaeda. I have no doubt that they will read this as weakness of the West and continue to strike out and try to influence other elections.

I'm just waiting to see if John Kerry lays claim to this election as evidence of a. the correctness of his position or b. his prescience (given his claim that "world leaders support him"--surely, the Zapateca prefers Kerry to Bush).

Movie Review

My wife and I went to see The Passion of The Christ tonight.

First, let me address the issue of anti-Semitism. If I were a Jew, and had 2000 years of the Blood Libel in my psyche, I would think this movie a troubling thing. I got the impression that the Sanhedrin was a powerful force jealously and violently defending their little territory. And there was a mob quality to the citizens of Jerusalem. However, I think it is abundantly clear that the most violent and hateful characters were the Romans, and the Jews outside of Jerusalem were generally portrayed as believers who were caught watching the execution of their Messiah.

And, in what I thought was the most telling symbolic moment of the film, Simon the Cyrene was seen defending Jesus from the mob, shouting down the Romans, and then bearing the cross arm-in-arm with Jesus. All this just after being mocked by a soldier as a "Jew." His is perhaps the most interesting tale, which I think Gibson did a great job with. How one man, a Jew, who did not want to get involved, ended up bearing the burden for all sins and helping the Lord complete his task was a moving and thoughtful episode.

There is also the small point that the telling of the tale of the Passion is studiously faithful to the teachings of the Gospel (at least in the 1987 version of the NIV).

So, on balance, I understand the difficulty the Jewish community has with this film, but find nothing in it deliberately anti-Semitic. At the very least, fifty years of being the most ardent supporters of the state of Israel ought to buy Christians a little trust from the Jewish community. And, as to Mel Gibson, the purpose of this film is clearly not to shine a light on the guilt of one segment, but on the massive sacrifice of one man to pay for all sins.

Of the bulk of the movie, I did find it very violent--but necessarily so. My wife commented after that she never thought of how horrible that must have been, and I agree. We've become so used to the TV movie version of the crucifixion that I don't know how many really understood the horrible way that our Savior died. I especially appreciated the way Gibson focused on the reactions of Mary and Mary Magdalene, to highlight their faith and thier love--and their pain. The care with which the two women mopped up the blood in the courtyard where Jesus was flogged was excruciatingly touching, and the respect that they commanded from the Romans in the end was made understandable.

As to how the film affected me personally, I have very few words to describe it. Moved, certainly. Humbled, most definitely. I believe that in the next few days I will have better words to express myself on this issue, and in the next several years I will look back on this night as being formative/reconstructive to my faith. To see so starkly the pain that Jesus bore for the sake of all men can have no other effect for a believer than to highlight the love God bears for all of us, and the lengths He has gone to to save us. It makes me want to be deserving of salvation.

This is an important movie--perhaps the most important movie ever made for the Christian community. I will not trivialize it by assigning it "stars" or "thumbs up."



The pictures out of Spain of the demonstrations last night are moving, and very reminiscent of our own events 18 months ago. Continue to pray for our friend and ally.

Another Success for Incrementalism

I am heartened to see the two court cases from yesterday stopping the issuing of same-sex marriage licenses. But something occurred to me today:

It seems to me that just three years ago when Vermont approved Civil Unions, and that event was met with outrage from conservatives. Please correct me if my memory is wrong here, but civil unions used to be the standard for overreaching on the gay rights front. Of late, it seems most of the debate has occurred along purely semantic lines: don't call it marriage, and we may concede the union point. In fact, this is what the Massachussetts legislature wanted to do.

And the point is?. . . The left has succeeded in moving the ball down the playing field to the point where civil unions may be acceptable, where it wasn't three years ago. This may be the great lesson of liberalism over the past thirty years--when you get something against opposition, ask for more. The opposition will have to fight that new thing, while you have taken everybody's attention off of the first topic. And this has worked on just about every social front in the last thirty years.

Of course, the President has proven that it can work both ways: he got his tax cut, so he asked for more. Now John Kerry has been forced to make a case that he would cut taxes, too--a thought that I'm sure never once popped into his head even up to one year ago. The President should keep doing this.

Still Not Getting It

I just saw the Kerry ads in response to the Bush ad from yesterday. It contends that the $900 billion tax increase doesn't exist, and that he's actually advocating more tax cuts for the middle class, and that he will take care of medicaire. . .blah, blah, blah.

This is encouraging for two reasons. One, for the first time in months the Bush campaign has defined the playing field. The Kerry campaign is now striving to parry, rather than thrust--good. Secondly, if memory serves the Bush ad included attacks on Kerry's record on defense and intelligence spending; and Kerry did not respond to those at all. As I've posted before, they're still missing the boat: in this environment, the day after the horrors in Spain, he doesn't defend himself on the fundamental issue of the day.

Score one for Bush.



Like a Laser

Obviously, a lot going on today, and all our thoughts and prayers go out to the Spanish government and Spanish people. I direct your attention to everybody else on my links list for lucid commentary on the event.

Two loosely linked thoughts: one Josh Micah Marshall has written ten posts in the last 24 hours, and only one of them is about the bombings; and one of us asked if this will lead the Europeans to start to see Islamofacism for what it is, and join us. Of the first, I think it symptomatic of the left that horrors such as these occupy so little space in their psyche, while trivialities like the leaked Senate memos are a huge issue. Of the second, I doubt it, for much of the same reasons as the first. In fact, I think it quite likely that the left will spin this as payback for Spain's support of the U.S. efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq. I think the political pressure on governments that supported us will be ratcheted up significantly, possibly crippling the coalition.

Of course, I hope not. I think it's very interesting that (if it really was them) al-Qaeda has directed all of its major attacks at countries other than the U.S., though we are obviously their number one target. And the Patriot Act is a bad thing why. . .?

This Is More Interesting

In a hotly contested race with "all that pent-up anger at the Bush administration," the Dems have still not been able to muster a great turnout for their primaries, according to the Boston Globe. Given earlier reporting on the large increases in voter registration for the GOP in important states, I would say that the GOP may be sitting a little better than the polls would suggest.

Did He Say That?

So John Kerry has given voice to what is so obviously the sentiment on the left. What is striking isn't that he believes this, but that he was willing to say it out loud.

Outraged? I'm barely surprised. This is the number one guy of a team that sends ambassadors (in the guise of goofy Congressmen) to Baghdad on the eve of war; this is the number one guy of the team that calls a judge who fought against the Klan in 1960s Mississippi a racist;

And, lest we forget, this is the number one guy of the team that just four years ago undertook a systemic effort to have the votes of our men and women in uniform discounted in Florida.

Hugh and the gents tried to deconstruct the comments and make the case for how wrong-headed and strident this is--also that it is symptomatic, rather than anomalous. I believe, rather, that the left is becoming either so emboldened by its successes or so tone deaf in its rage that it has turned off all the filters, and any normal process that would impede them from saying outrageous and irresponsible things just don't exist anymore. The result is that these angry thoughts start flying around unattended (as the Captian likes to say) like baseballs in a little league defensive drill.

If I wanted to go way out there, I'd say it was calculated. Think: Pres. Bush got some laughs and certainly wasn't hurt by his crack about Adam Clymer four years ago; and, in fact, the West Wing had a whole episode devoted to an 'open-miked' crack on your opponent and the upside to such an event. I would expect in the morning a non-denial denial (well, he didn't expect it would be for general consumption, and he said something he probably shouldn't have, as we all are prone to do from time to time. . .)--a head-fake towards an apology, while trying to frame the whole public debate for days to come in terms of the "lying" of this administration. I believe the Bush administration would be well-served to make as little of this as possible--even turn it around and deliver a whole series of "accidental" open mike cracks and self-deprecating jokes.

The only thing of significance here is that John Kerry has announced himself to be one in the same with the lunatic left. Big surprise, huh?



I'll let this answer by John Kerry speak for itself.

NEWSWEEK:So, if we don't find WMD, the war wasn't worth the costs? That's a yes?
KERRY: No, I think you can still—wait, no. You can't—that's not a fair question, and I'll tell you why. You can wind up successful in transforming Iraq and changing the dynamics, and that may make it worth it, but that doesn't mean [transforming Iraq] was the cause [that provided the] legitimacy to go. You have to have that distinction.


I saw the footage of the Todd Bertuzzi assault on Brian Moore first thing this morning, and have kind of been haunted by the images all day. There's every reason to think that Brian Moore may have been lucky to have the injuries he does have, rather than a crushed skull.

If the NHL were really serious about about dealing with this sort of ugliness, they would suspend Marc Crawford for the obligatory 15 games, and suspend Marc Bertuzzi for as long as Brian Moore is out. And that notwithstanding whatever criminal charges will be filed. Some of the ESPN wits were saying that this incident wasn't as bad as some recent events involving swinging the stick--I disagree. Of course a stick across the melon is violent and potentially very dangerous, but driving an undefended person face-down into the ice is almost certainly very dangerous.

By the way, I also saw the footage of the hit on Marcus Naslund that inspired the retaliation--I have a hard time seeing how this inspired so much anger. And let's keep in mind that these two teams have played a game in the interim since the Naslund hit. Bertuzzi didn't have the guts to drop the gloves and go toe-to-toe with Moore--he waited almost six periods of hockey until he had a clean, blind shot at Brian Moore.

Yeah, this guy has no business being on the ice until Brian Moore can return to the ice. And all prayers for a full and speedy recovery for Mr. Moore.


Hats off to Joshua for his dissection of the Washington Post poll. With internals like these, it's no wonder that I don't trust the polls at this point.
Hugh also has a nice analysis of the data.

One other internal I saw from Brit Hume puts the level of support for Kerry among Kerry backers at just the mid-30s while the anti-Bush sentiment is in the 60s. In other words, John Kerry's support is softer than the grapefruit I just found in the back of my fridge. It remains to be seen if, as the election grows near and Kerry is fully exposed as the weak candidate he is, this 60% still bring out the anti-Bush vote or if they just stay home.


Recent Polls and the Conventional Wisdom

I have listened intently to a lot of analysis over the weekend of poll numbers and the Bush-Kerry matchup. And there seems to be only two consensuses (consensi? consensen?): that it's too early to mean anything yet; and that the Bush team has been, at best, inept so far at articulating a defense for the President. One wit quipped tonight that when this President ends up being his most eloquent spokesperson, then the team is clearly not very deep in message-senders. Fred and Bill wrote on this at length, and I think they're spot-on. Worth considering.

Let's Task Our Collective Brains To This One

I know it's easy for conservatives to write off the "sky is falling" attitude of the educational establishment in Colorado. But there is a confluence of constitutional events at play that deserves serious consideration. The following is a notice from the Deputy Executive Director of the Colorado Association of School Executives. It is notable in its lack of hysteria, but pointedness about reality.

The following is complicated, complex, and a tad confusing; so if you get a
little lost blame the writer's ability to articulate, not the reader's
ability to comprehend. Even I occasionally get lost in this constitutional
briar patch.

School finance in Colorado is in a helluva pickle! Here’s the situation as
near as I can understand it and explain it:

1. Last week the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed that the
Denver/Boulder CPI for the next budget year will be 1.1%. That’s final and
official. This is considerably less than the earlier estimates, which ranged
from 1.7% to 2.1%. This percentage factor affects virtually everything in
Colorado, from TABOR to Amendment 23.

2. Under this revised determination of inflation (1.1%), the amount of “new
money” the State of Colorado may collect and spend under the Taxpayer Bill
of Rights (TABOR) is limited to $87M.

3. As readers will recall, Amendment 23 requires that school districts are
to receive inflation (1.1%) plus 1% for 10 years (since 2000). That means
Amendment 23 requires that school districts receive 2.1% in “new money” for
the next budget year beginning July 1, 2004. So, after one scrapes thru all
the charts, graphs, and tables, the bottom line is that to comply with
Amendment 23, the state must spend an additional $110M on K-12 alone! This
figure also includes new student growth.

4. Now, to add insult to injury, the federal government requires every state
to pay a share of Medicaid cost. The increase for next budget year is
projected to be $55M.

5. So here’s the wart on the pickle. Amendment 23 "requires" $110M of new
money; Medicaid "requires" $55M of new money, but TABOR says the state shall
"only spend" $87M of new money!! And the $87M is intended to cover all
other state functions such as corrections and higher education.

6. Still with me? See the pickle? See the dilemma? Does the state violate
Amendment 23, TABOR, or federal Medicaid law? Which one of the above?
Which two of the above? By how much?

7. There does exist another alternative: The state could easily lop off
another $100M or so from higher education, which is being seriously
contemplated. Higher education current appropriation is over $500M, which
is about 25% less than it was about three years ago. And, to be sure, the
JBC is busily looking for other rabbits to pull out of its hat.

8. I’ll reiterate: School funding for the 2004-05 budget year is in a major
predicament. If school districts think that you will receive a 2.1% increase
from last year's funding, then you still believe in the tooth fairy! I don’t
know which constitutional amendment may be trampled, if any, but it is
highly likely that one, if not two, will be “tested” legally, fiscally, and

9. Moreover, the current school finance law requires that every other year
(now this year) a “cost of living” survey shall be conducted and that
results be included in school finance. Historically that has added an
additional $15M-$20M to K-12 funding. Kiss it goodbye. Ain’t gonna happen.
Forget about it!

10. The legislative Joint Budget Committee is still considering some of the
following actions within K-12 to address this awful predicament:

a. Mandating the “entry date” for kindergarten and first grade to September
1. Likely to happen. Total state savings for both years -- undetermined.
Likely reaction from parents whose kids missed the dates -- pure hell.

b. Reducing funding for the number of kids “retained in grade.” Apparently,
a few years ago, Colorado districts “held back” or “retained in grade” over
16,000 kids, “costing” the state over $70M! There are proposals to cut the
per pupil funding for these kids ranging from 10% per kid to 50% to 100%!
God, I love this job.

11. Just to keep things in perspective, all predictions suggest (and that’s
being diplomatic) that next year's budget will be far worse in terms of what
will be limited by TABOR but required by Amendment 23.

12. If you’re still with me, you’re a “junkie.” But wait, there is more.

13. PERA. PERA is requesting that the legislature increase the employer
contribution rate by 3% over the next six years (.5% yearly from the current
10.15% to 13.15%). That’s .5% annually. So there exists the likelihood
that whatever new money K-12 may receive next year will be consumed by
employer contributions to PERA.

14. The PERA situation is further muddied by State Treasurer Mike Coffman’s
regular press releases that PERA is in some sort of fiscal jeopardy. (Mikie,
Mikie. Are you listening here? You’re a good guy. You’re a smart guy. I
like you. But to seek higher office by criticizing the Rock of Gibraltar as
being unstable is sheer folly. It is self-destructive. But you go, guy.)
PERA is about as stable and secure as Mt. Evans. Period.

Summary -- We're all in a pickle. K-12 is in a pickle. The State of
Colorado is in a pickle. We’ve all been hoisted on our own petards by
voting into the Colorado Constitution the Gallagher Amendment (1982), TABOR
(1992) and Amendment 23 (2000). I wish I had some sage guidance for
districts but as of this writing, I do not. WHAT DO YOU THINK? What would
you do if you were on the Joint Budget Committee? What should CASE do?

Phil Fox
Deputy Executive Director
Colorado Association of School Executives

Now, I know the obvious response from conservatives is to abandon Amendment 23--unfortunately, that was decided on by a vote of the public. So the knife's edge is: support the rights of the governed to decide their governance, or support fiscal responsibility (and at the same time stick it to public education)?

Personally, if I were on the JBC I would be looking at shorting higher education, while also looking at scaling back many of the federally mandated programs that aren't fully funded (though I don't know the particulars of the savings available here). I would also tell PERA that they're just going to have to wait; surely, a political hornet's nest, but since PERA is already vastly better than social security or almost any private retirement plan, that just doesn't get a priority status.

Unfortunately, however much success comes from these maneuvers would be, at best, a band aid--next year looks just as grim, only there are fewer options on the table.

I look for help from the smarter economic minds out there. First, any disputes of the assumptions of the author would help sharpen the lens of the "reality." Second, what smart economic maneuvers are being overlooked? Certainly, somebody with a better idea about macroecon can see another option (I'm a big fan of "finding a different solution")


Much Ado About Nothing

I agree with most of what's been written about the silliness of the Dems complaints about the President's ads. Yes, they are that thin-skinned; yes, they are just trying to put up a firewall, etc, etc.

If they really want something to complain about, somebody should make this ad: Imagine if it was John Kerry at ground zero with the firefighters (I'm picturing South Park-like animation).

"We can't hear you!"
JK: Well, I'm sorry. You need to hear what I'm saying, so let's get that fixed.

"We can't hear you!"
JK: Yes, well, I can hear you, and I promise you that in due time we will form a commission to listen to all of your input, and we will work with our allies to understand everything you're saying

"We can't hear you!"
JK: . . .and we must continue to work through the United Nations. . .
"I said, we can't hear you!"
JK: . . .try to understand what we have done, what atrocities Americans have committed, that drives people to hate us. . .
"Hey! Still Can't Hear You!!"
JK: . . .I promise a full and thorough investigation into these horrible events, and I expect a vigorous prosecution from Attorney General Edwards. . .
"Hell with it; I'm going back to work"

Next: the Kerry address to the Joint Session of Congress.


Time to Find A New Candidate

Ben Nighthorse Campbell is not going to run for another term, citing health concerns.

Well, that just about makes this a wide-open event. Who knows who decides to jump in now. Udall? Hart? The Dems could put forward one of many very popular recent politicians and make this immensely competitive. And on the GOP side, this becomes a pretty short campaign season, especially if there's a primary challenge. Owens? McInnis?

Lace 'em up, RMAB. Looks like there's gonna be a heavy campaign this fall.

And in this corner. . .

I note tonight a commercial for the ABC television movie "Judas."

Anybody want to lay odds that this obvious attempt at answering/capitalizing on the success of "The Passion" is both a miserable failure and PC garbage?

Oh, Really?

In his acceptance speech last night John Kerry asserted that the "Bush Administration has run the most inept, reckless, arrogant, and ideological foreign policy in the modern history of our country."

Let's deconstruct this a little bit.

Inept? Let's see. . . two successful, if ongoing, military interdictions in Iraq and Afghanistan versus (just as an example) the Iran Hostage Crisis and Soviet expansion during the Carter administration.

Reckless? Removing from power a corrupt megalomaniac who committed genocide and was a major figure in international terrorism versus granting diplomatic legitimacy to the North Korean regime that was building nuclear weapons materials right under the noses of our treaty during the Clinton administration.

Arrogant? Asserting obvious American supremacy in the world and unapologetically taking American security into American hands versus trying to force-feed a peace agreement to the Israelis in the interest of a legacy during the Clinton years.

Ideological? First of all, what policy is not ideological? This is the sort of silly argument that seems to disarm conservatives while not actually containing any substance. ANY policy had better be an outgrowth of a philosophy--in effect, an ideology. Is it safe, then, to assume that the Senate Dems blockade of judicial appointments is an ideological policy? Of course it is! We've just given up too much of the rhetorical ground on this point, and I hope the President tries to take some of it back. Secondly, I would argue instead that the most ideological--and idealistic--foreign policy in modern history belonged to President Reagan. That "ideology" oversaw the collapse of the Soviet Union, the end of the Cold War, and the spread of democracy to Eastern Europe. Maybe, just maybe, ideology is not such a bad thing.

On top of that, notice how Senator Kerry has yet to articulate just what he would do in office, much less have done different during the last three years. Is it safe to assume, based on his rhetoric, that he would have invaded Afghanistan, but then not worked to detain the enemy combatants? In effect, just scattering the ants away from the ant hill to re-constitute elsewhere? Perhaps he would have spent weeks or months more at the U.N. trying to construct a multi-lateral force to. . .silly me. No, he would have pressed for more sanctions in Iraq. . . Well, no that's not quite right, either. I know--he would have spoken very harshly to Saddam Hussein. And maybe he would not have described North Korea as part of the "Axis of Evil"--thereby guaranteeing that the "secret" nuclear program could continue unabated into the forseeable future.

The point is that anger is not a good substitute for policy, and John Kerry has yet to articulate a policy. Vague references to Franco-German-American relations do not suffice for articulating a coherent view of the world and the dangers it presents. If John Kerry intends to be a serious candidate--meaning weighty and substantial--he had better bring more to the table than his standard stump fluff.


Down to Business

So, it's official--John Kerry is the nominee. Here's hoping the President and his team start to campaign as if they have a real opponent.

Hugh was asking today about the two civilizations--the serious and the silly. I think he's right. The problem is that, as I have mentioned before, the silly get in your face with such passion that it cows the serious into behaing "nicely." I think that the serious are the larger part of the population, but you will never know it unless the serious begin to step away from their embarrassment and get back in the face of the silly--unapologetically--and make the case for their point of view.

I mean, come on--John Kerry wants to be the environment President, the education President, the civil rights President. All issues, but compared to the President's issues: American security, tax relief, and values reflective of the majority, John Kerry is a silly person.

Down to Business

So, it's official--John Kerry is the nominee. Here's hoping the President and his team start to campaign as if they have a real opponent.

Hugh was asking today about the two civilizations--the serious and the silly. I think he's right. The problem is that, as I have mentioned before, the silly get in your face with such passion that it cows the serious into behaing "nicely." I think that the serious are the larger part of the population, but you will never know it unless the serious begin to step away from their embarrassment and get back in the face of the silly--unapologetically--and make the case for their point of view.

I mean, come on--John Kerry wants to be the environment President, the education President, the civil rights President. All issues, but compared to the President's issues: American security, tax relief, and values reflective of the majority, John Kerry is a silly person.

Down to Business

So, it's official--John Kerry is the nominee. Here's hoping the President and his team start to campaign as if they have a real opponent.

Hugh was asking today about the two Americas--the serious and the silly. I think he's right. The problem is that, as I have mentioned before, the silly get in your face with such passion that it cows the serious into behaving "nicely." I think that the serious are the larger part of the population, but you will never know it unless the serious begin to step away from their embarrassment and get back in the face of the silly--unapologetically--and make the case for their point of view.

I mean, come on--John Kerry wants to be the environment President, the education President, the civil rights President. All issues, but compared to the President's issues: American security, tax relief, and values, John Kerry is a silly person.

More On "The Passion"

I still haven't seen it, so no movie review is forthcoming at the moment. However, Joshua and Jared have good thoughts on the controversy surrounding it. In particular, their commentary on the way it taps into an almost cultural subconscious in the Jews is illuminating.

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