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


McCain: Soaring In Much The Same Way That Rocks Don't

I have a very good, smart friend who was conservative long before I tilted to the Right, and he has not been in agreement with some of my hard criticisms of Sen. John McCain.

Until today.

This was after McCain appeared on Fox News Sunday. If you didn't see it, read the transcript--it is absolutely disturbing in its delusions and breathtaking in its arrogance.

A couple excerpts:

WALLACE: You were one of two Republicans to vote against the Bush tax cuts in 2001, one of three Republicans to vote against the Bush tax cuts two years later.

At that time, you said that they were fiscally reckless and that they skewed — they favored the rich. Now you say you would not allow the tax cuts to expire. Is that a flip-flop?

J. MCCAIN: No, because it would have the effect of a tax increase, and I don't support tax increases.

The fact is that in 2000 I had a proposal that restrained spending. I voted against those tax cuts because there was no restraint of spending, and spending lurched out of control completely.

If we had adopted my proposals for tax cuts, which were huge, we would be talking about further tax cuts today, not out of control and rampant spending in Washington.

Of course, in 2000 McCain's proposal had no chance of being enacted with the Congress and President in place at the time, and this proposal was only during the Presidential campaign, though in the seven years since that he has not managed to resurrect that proposal while operating with a majority [before he gave it away].

WALLACE: Another beef that conservatives have you, I don't have to tell you, is McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform. They say it's an assault on free speech, especially by conservative advocates.

When you see candidates spending more money — or raising more money than ever, spending more money than ever, when you see soft money that's now banned from going to the parties instead going to these so-called 527s, which are even less accountable than the parties were, can you honestly say that McCain-Feingold is working?

J. MCCAIN: We've strengthened the parties. There's millions more small donors. We have taken soft money, which was rampant in Washington, out of the game. The 527s are a violation of the '74 law. The 527s are clearly illegal.

It's not a problem with law. It's a problem with the Federal Election Commission who will not enforce the law. So, yeah, we made significant progress, absolutely, and I'm proud of a lot of the results of this.

Well, actually, Senator, since the Court has not ordered any injunction against 527s, and the FEC is a body that has at least equal Republican representation at this time, they actually ARE legal and within the spirit of the law. And, by the way, since most Conservatives consider BCRA illegal in toto but SCOTUS disagrees, you're just out of luck on that argument.

And my favorite excerpt:

WALLACE: Senator, you talked about torture. Former CIA Director Tenet now says that the intelligence that they got from harsh interrogation techniques against some of these big Al Qaida types, like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed — the intelligence they got from them using, reportedly, things like water-boarding, extreme temperatures, was more valuable than all the other CIA and FBI programs.

Were you wrong? I mean, this is the CIA, former CIA director, saying this. Were you wrong to limit what CIA interrogators could do?

J. MCCAIN: A man I admire more than anyone else, General Jack Vessey, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, battlefield commission, told me once — he said, "John, any intelligence information we might gain through the use of torture could never, ever counterbalance the image that it does — the damage that it does to our image in the world."

I agree with him. Look at the war in Algeria. Look, the fact is if you torture someone, they're going to tell you anything they think you want to know. It is an affront to everything we stand for and believe in.

It's interesting to me that every retired military officer, whether it be Colin Powell or whether it be former chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff — everybody who's been in war doesn't want to torture people and think that it's the wrong thing to do. And history shows that.

We cannot torture people and maintain our moral superiority in the world.

WALLACE: But when...

J. MCCAIN: And that's a fact.

WALLACE: But when George Tenet says...

J. MCCAIN: I don't care what George Tenet says. I know what's right. I know what's morally right as far as America's behavior.

WALLACE: But if I may, sir...

J. MCCAIN: Yes, sir.

WALLACE: ... when George Tenet says we saved live through some of these techniques...

J. MCCAIN: I don't accept it. I don't accept that fundamental thesis, because it's never worked throughout history.

And so again, I know this for a fact, and anyone who's had experience with this, I think, that's — well, the people I respect will tell you that if you inflect enough physical pain on someone, they will tell you anything they think you want to know in order to relieve that pain.
That's just a fundamental fact. And we've gotten a huge amount of misinformation as well as other information from these techniques.

I don't even know what to say about this one. Luckily, Andy McCarthy has pretty well taken this apart.

"Moral superiority". . . How'd that moral superiority feel in the VietCong concentration camp, Senator?

I've said it before: John McCain's history, as much as it makes him a hero, also makes him pathologically incapable of being Commander-in-Chief in a time of war.


They Can Have A Special Place In Hell . . .As Long As They're Not On The Homeowners' Association Board

Even though their hostility to charter schools was blown wide open for the public less than a month ago, State Senator Sue Windels and Representative Mike Merrifield continue to act with the arrogance of power. Apparently, they don't think anybody is watching. But Bob is:

Yesterday Sen. Sue Windels and Rep. Mike (Charterers have a special place in hell) Merrifield, vocal opponents of public charter schools, decided to deliver a final blow, but this time broadened their attack.

First, they cut 3.5 million in charter school capital construction out of the School Finance Act.

They also added an amendment to eliminate any Charter School Institute board member, Dept of Education employee, or State Board of Education member from also serving on a charter school governing board.

For those of you less familiar with charter schools, they have a different operating paradigm. Rather than being simply another cog in the educational juggernaut that is the typical public schools, each charter operates independently, though as a public school. Rather than being spoon-fed curriculum and instruction from a remote source whose motivation is uniformity, charters decide for themselves how and what they will teach students, often (though not always)to much greater effect than "big" schools. Rather than taking leadership from bureaucrats and elected school boards, charters have leadership on-site, from an elected board of parent and community volunteers.

With that second provision mentioned above, Windels and Merrifield are saying that any person with a little know-how, a little expertise, a little background knowledge IS NOT ALLOWED to take part in the decision-making process for their children's school, if that school is a charter school.

I have a very difficult time trying to grasp the purpose of this measure. Are they trying to weaken the leadership of individual charter schools, in the hope that some of them may fail? Or are they trying to cause a brain-drain from the educational-choice bureaucracy?

Or maybe its simply a scare tactic: a shot across the bow of the people who are most interested and most involved in the school choice movement.

I suspect their actual motivation is a combination of all three, but that doesn't really matter. What matters is that these two legislators, both former educators, both favorites of teachers' unions, are pulling every lever of power at their disposal TO SHUT OFF SCHOOL CHOICE OPTIONS IN THE STATE AND LOCK PARENTS AND STUDENTS SAFELY IN THE HALLS OF A SYSTEM THAT SERVES ITSELF, not them.

I have a suggestion: the Republicans ought to introduce either an amendment to this bill, or a competing resolution that would prevent any legislator or state government employee from serving on the Cooperative Decision Making Team or PTA at any school.

Good for the goose . . .

Why The Down-Ticket Matters . . . A LOT

Like, 1.7 billion a lot.

I think there is a notable tendency among voters to not really pay much attention to state-wide races below Governors and Senators, and anything other big, obvious races that might be on the ballot. I know I used to not pay much attention.

But today one of those "down-tickets" very likely save Colorado taxpayers about $1.7 Billion.

From the highly useful Colorado Senate News:

Countering conventional wisdom around the Capitol, the Colorado Attorney General's Office has concluded that the governor's controversial proposal to raise property-tax bills statewide first must be put to a vote of the people.

The 11-page legal opinion , commissioned by Attorney General John Suthers and written by the state's solicitor general, makes clear that, "...this proposal requires voter approval under the Constitution.". . .

The governor and some of his fellow Democrats in the legislature have contended that the proposed tax measure, which would raise $1.7 billion over the next 10 years, does not have to be put to a popular vote despite a constitutional provision requiring a vote for any tax hike."

Well, thank God for a Republican who managed to hold a statewide seat in 2006--he was plenty lonely.

And lets be sure to give an assist on this one to former Gov. Bill Owens, who nominated Suthers for the post after Ken Salazar beat Pete Coors for the Senate job.

No--we don't really need to give an assist to Salazar or Coors.

Quick Presidential Thoughts

:I wonder if the President might have forced at least a couple more Democrats to be a bit more responsible if he hadn't signalled so forcefully, so early, that he would veto any Supplemental with a timetable for withdrawal. Of course it was the right thing to do; I just wonder if he didn't give a few of the more mature ones (and that's a pretty small club) the OK to vote for the Democrats' plan because they knew they would never have to live with the consequences.

:I've searched the transcript of the Democratic debate last night, and I can't find the one salient question based on yesterday's events: "Candidates, the Congress has just passed legislation that ties funding for the military to specific conditions; as a person who would be Commander-In-Chief, do you think it is wise that the Congress tie the strategic hands of the military leadership in the middle of combat operations?"

I'm amazed that a "professional" journalist of Brian Williams' stature missed such an obvious question.


Colorado's Own Senator Humiliated In Debate

Senator Salazar: “Today, I voted for the Iraq-Afghanistan Emergency Supplemental bill. I believe that this bill supports our troops, our veterans and their families, and should be signed by the President.

“But first I would like to say that as we continue the debate on this legislation and on the best way forward in Iraq, I have two key principles in mind.

“One, we should honor the bravery and courage of our troops. America’s finest men and women have done an extraordinary job – too often without the needed equipment and support. But honoring our troops means more than just singing their praises. It means making sure that every American in Iraq is adequately trained and equipped; it means guaranteeing every veteran access to all available benefits and services; and it means setting a policy that is as wise as our soldiers are brave.

Senator B: When we say that U.S. troops shouldn't be "policing a civil war," that their operations should be restricted to this narrow list of missions, what does this actually mean?

To begin with, it means that our troops will not be allowed to protect the Iraqi people from the insurgents and militias who are trying to terrorize and kill them. Instead of restoring basic security, which General Petraeus has argued should be the central focus of any counterinsurgency campaign, it means our soldiers would instead be ordered, by force of this proposed law, not to stop the sectarian violence happening all around them—no matter how vicious or horrific it becomes.
In short, it means telling our troops to deliberately and consciously turn their backs on ethnic cleansing, to turn their backs on the slaughter of innocent civilians—men, women, and children singled out and killed on the basis of their religion alone. It means turning our backs on the policies that led us to intervene in the civil war in Yugoslavia in the 1990s, the principles that today lead many of us to call for intervention in Darfur.

This makes no moral sense at all.

Sen Salazar: The bill sends a direct message to the Iraqis that our military commitment is not open-ended. We hold the Iraqi government accountable through measurable and achievable benchmarks for security, political reconciliation and improving the lives of ordinary Iraqis.

Sen B: How do proponents of this deadline defend it? On Monday, Senator Reid gave several reasons. First, he said, a date for withdrawal puts "pressure on the Iraqis to make the desperately needed political compromises."

But will it? According to the legislation now before us, the withdrawal will happen regardless of what the Iraqi government does.

How, then, if you are an Iraqi government official, does this give you any incentive to make the right choices?

On the contrary, there is compelling reason to think a legislatively directed withdrawal of American troops will have exactly the opposite effect than its Senate sponsors intend.

This, in fact, is exactly what the most recent National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq predicted. A withdrawal of U.S. troops in the months ahead, it said, would "almost certainly lead to a significant increase in the scale and scope of sectarian conflict, intensify Sunni resistance, and have adverse effects on national reconciliation."

Sen Salazar: “I support this new direction for Iraq. This new direction recognizes the reality that success in Iraq is contingent upon a strategy of military, political and diplomatic progress.

Sen B: We should of course be making every effort to encourage reconciliation in Iraq and the development of a decent political order that Sunnis, Shiites, and Kurds can agree on.
But even if today that political solution was found, we cannot rationally think that our terrorist enemies like Al Qaeda in Iraq will simply vanish.

Al Qaeda is not mass murdering civilians on the streets of Baghdad because it wants a more equitable distribution of oil revenues.

Its aim in Iraq is not to get a seat at the political table.

It wants to blow up the table—along with everyone seated at it.

And who was this mystery Senator who surgically destroyed our Senator's rationale for voting for surrender? What Republican was so effective in debate?

Dream on.

No, the Senator who seems to speak with the greatest clarity and the most insight on this most important issue is a Democrat--Joe Lieberman.

Which must e even more embarrassing for our Senator.

And what, you might ask, do our other representatives have to say on the issue? Well, neither Ed Perlmutter or Mark Udall could, I suppose, be bothered to add to their websites any statement in support of or opposition to (shyaahhh!) this legislation.

Makes me awfully proud to have these guys representing us in Congress.


Reason For Conservative Optimism In Colorado

From today's Denver Post:

Colorado could be among the next wave of states where voters are asked to stop government affirmative action programs, including racial preferences in college admissions.

Backed by a California businessman who supported a similar proposal that succeeded in Michigan, the Colorado Civil Rights Initiative announced plans Monday to put the measure on the 2008 ballot.

This would be a welcome development. Justice O'Connor's goofy twenty-five year timeline notwithstanding, it is about time we affirmed the American ideal of being a meritocracy. Are there circumstances in which racial preferences play a positive role? Probably. But the sort of blanket elevation that current affirmative action programs give probably do less to advance minorities than they do to foment racial resentment.

And this is good conservative strategy, as well. Not only does it put the power directly in the hands of the people, but it does so on an issue that there is a reasonable belief we can win. The one silver lining from the state's 2006 election results is that there wasn't a single ballot issue that the "conservative" position did not carry the day.

We on the Right may not be able to get our act together to elect people; but the state of Colorado is still, on the issues, a center-right state. The more we do to delineate those issue differences for the voters, the better off we will be.


Colorado Democrats: Leaping On Some "Cures" Before Looking

From the Wednesday WashTimes:

The initial rush to require the inoculation of preteen girls with the new HPV vaccine Gardasil fueled by Merck & Co.'s lobbying is meeting resistance as state lawmakers nationwide begin to question its safety, long-term effectiveness and cost. . .

Infectious-disease specialists and cancer pathologists, including members of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention panel whose support of the drug was interpreted by states as a call to act, say that Gardasil should not be mandatory and that its five-year window of effectiveness raises concerns about whether the right age group is being targeted.

Cancer data show that the average cervical-cancer patient is 47 and most likely contracted HPV, which incubates for up to 15 years before becoming cancer, in her 30s more than a decade after the Gardasil's proven effectiveness if given to 11- to 13-year-old girls as a requirement for school attendance.

Meanwhile, in YOUR state legislature:

A bill that would help prevent cervical cancer was approved by the Senate Health and Human Services Committee today by a vote of 5-4. The bill would require Colorado school-age girls to be vaccinated against HPV, a sexually transmitted disease that can lead to cervical cancer.

Remember all those stupid, idle comments from the national Democratic Party about Republicans being against science? Well, never let that be said about THIS state.

Nope, around here our Democrats have no idea what good scientific method is, much less how to apply it public policy, all the while being the toadies of . . . .wait for it . . . . .BIG DRUG COMPANIES!

That's right--in case you didn't notice it above, the main push to make this vaccine mandatory comes from Merck, the manufacturer of the drug.

Now, in defense of the Dems, this bill languished in the Appropriations Committee, so it's not going to be law any time soon [thank God]. But the eventual outcome does nothing to diminish the frightful recklessness of the state Democratic Party.

By the way, have you heard anything about this in your local media? Didn't think so.


Somebody Send A Memo To Charlie Rangel

His plan may be disastrous for the country.

Congress will have to steer carefully to avoid a shock to the economy as it strives to balance the budget by allowing tax cuts to expire in the next few years, economists say. . . .

Now, before you go rushing off to read the whole article, I should warn you that it's not very well written. In my, er, humble opinion.

Actually, to be fair, the way the article jumps from thought to thought and from dependent clause to dependent clause makes me think this article was probably the victim of a bad, or at least hasty, piece of editing.

Now,that said, here's the important graf:

Despite mixed evidence on the effects of the Bush tax, economists say, Congress should not allow them to expire all at once because the effect could be a $200 billion tax increase.

"Such a huge increase in tax revenue would have an enormous contractionary effect on the economy, likely precipitating a recession in 2011 or 2012," said Roger M. Kubarych, economist with Unicredit Bank.

The throwaway line about "mixed evidence" notwithstanding, 2011 or 2012 could be a bad year. And, as much as I would wish that to happen on the watch of "President Clinton" or "President Obama", the American people should not be forced to endure such a thing because it would play well politically.

Why was it a bad idea for disappointed Republicans to stay out of the 2006 election and let the Dems have control?

Remember that when you're tempted to write off 2008 because Mitt is a Mormon, Rudy is too liberal, and McCain is, well, McCain.


I'm Reminded, For Some Reason, Of A Stopped Clock

From a statement released by Representative-Would-Be-Senator Mark Udall:

“ . . .I don't think more gun control laws would stop another troubled, disturbed person from killing on this massive level. Someone who is this mixed up and who is willing to kill himself as well is going to find a way to commit violence, and that kind of mental disturbance is what we should try to understand and address. . . ."

Huh. A rare moment of clarity from a man who makes opacity his first line of defense on most issues.

I've avoided trying to think politically about this event, but it's inevitable that this debate will find its way into the political arena. So, I'll just say one thing:

As yourself which of the following might have stopped or mitigated the carnage at Virginia Tech on Monday:

:another law limiting the public's access to handguns or to large-sized ammunition clips

:an alteration to the current law which would have "pinged" Cho's name for mental health disorder when the gun dealer did a background search prior to selling him the 9 mm (by the way, if you choose this option, then ask yourself how long it is before the ACLU brings a lawsuit for privacy violations)

:or one or two students or teachers, trained in the use of guns, having their concealed weapon with them in Norris Hall

Sadly, and ironically, Cho probably had to walk across the drill field frequented by VTU's large ROTC population to get to Norris Hall. Too bad he didn't choose to attack a ROTC class.


A Comparison Worth Considering

Franklin D. Roosevelt in his 1941 Inaugural (prior to U.S. involvement in the war):

In the face of great perils never before encountered, our strong purpose is to protect and to perpetuate the integrity of democracy.

For this we muster the spirit of America, and the faith of America.

We do not retreat. We are not content to stand still. As Americans, we go forward, in the service of our country, by the will of God.

Franklin D. Roosevelt in his 1945 Inaugural (at the height of the war):

We Americans of today, together with our allies, are passing through a period of supreme test. It is a test of our courage—of our resolve—of our wisdom—our essential democracy.

If we meet that test—successfully and honorably—we shall perform a service of historic importance which men and women and children will honor throughout all time.

As I stand here today, having taken the solemn oath of office in the presence of my fellow countrymen—in the presence of our God—I know that it is America's purpose that we shall not fail.

In the days and in the years that are to come we shall work for a just and honorable peace, a durable peace, as today we work and fight for total victory in war.

Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, on Thursday:

"I believe ... that this war is lost, . . ."

And that's not even looking for similar quotes from really muscular Democrats like Truman or Kennedy.

Just thought you might appreciate the comparison.


From Debra Saunders, San Fransisco Chronicle (as quoted in the Denver Post):

After all, no one really expects stars or rich people to sacrifice. All the glitterati have to do is really believe in global warming, maybe ride in a hybrid to the Oscars -- and then their carbon trails (which are much larger than those of people who take the bus every day) won't stink.

It's laughable. Those who believe that global warming is caused by man -- I am agnostic on that score -- claim that they are on the side of Science. That's Science with a capital S.

Yet they applaud when a so-called leader on global warming speaks as if "environmentally muscular" technologies and carbon offsets can manufacture a 25-percent reduction in greenhouse gases by 2020. They have this odd belief that the key to fighting global warming is not by cutting energy use, but by believing in global warming. They embrace wishful thinking -- and call it science.

Virginia State Police Superintendent Steve Flaherty:

. . . said at a news conference on Thursday investigators appreciated NBC's cooperation.

However, he added, "We're rather disappointed in the editorial decision to broadcast these disturbing images."

Flaherty said the package had turned out to yield little that investigators did not already know.

James Lileks, on Hugh Hewitt's Show:

But the next time will be worse, because somebody has realized that they’re going to be validated if they do this, and they’re going to have to figure out a better multimedia way to do it. A simple DVD isn’t going to be enough. If you can instantly post to Youtube nowadays, and given the ratings of NBC, which are pretty much in the toilet, I’m not surprised that the next guy won’t just cut directly, eliminate the middleman, and start broadcasting himself as it happens.


Too Busy To Be Original

so I'm going to link you to a couple of important articles from fellows.

Ben has done outstanding work--it is, after all, his job--analyzing Gov. Ritter's proposal to fund education in the state of Colorado. Read it--it's not just about education: it's an end-run around TABOR and a tax-and-spend boondoggle.

Rich is following some of the goings-on in the State Senate Education Committee; note that in killing the bill mentioned, two minority representatives of inner-city Denver voted FOR school choice. Worth noting.

Jim has dug up a wonderful quote from a founding father weighing the balance of comfort and freedom.

Bob is trying to keep the State GOP honest before we really know the whole playing field.

And, in case you missed a couple news items tonight:

Channel 9 News ran a ridiculous little puff piece on Gov. Ritter's first hundred days. Where's the bias? In "news" reporting like describing the Governor as "unapologetically thoughtful" when responding to criticism that he has not attempted to tackle the really hard issues so far. Or in omitting the REAL reason the Guv vetoed the Union Bill (GOP and blog pressure), instead letting a surrogate spin it (shows his "independence").

And this:

A University of Colorado junior has been arrested, and suspended from school, after allegedly making comments that sounded sympathetic to the Virginia Tech gunman.

Police arrested CU-Boulder student Max Karson on suspicion of interfering with staff, faculty or students of an educational institution.

Anybody else holding their breath waiting for the ACLU to come in and complain about the violation of this kid's Free Speech rights?


On Evil--And Not Surrendering To It

In light of the horrific events at Virginia Tech University today, many people are asking some very tough questions.

Some are asking about the police response to the initial shooting, and whether that enabled the later carnage in the classroom halfway across campus.

Some are asking about the wisdom of lesser gun control laws.

Some are asking about the gunman, and his motives.

Some are asking about the culture we live in, and whether we, as a society, have created an environment that . . . fosters . . . this sort of violence.

But, in my humble opinion, all of the questions fall short of what we should be talking about.

The police response may have been flawed, and that was my initial reaction. But that didn't cause this young man to open fire.

The Assault Weapons Ban lapsed a little while ago, which meant that this young man could carry clips holding 19 bullets, instead of just 10. But that law did not encourage him to discharge those bullets into students on campus.

And the culture we live in does seem to be predisposed towards violent resolution of conflict. But some early stories leaking out indicate that he wasn't of this culture; and, at any rate, that doesn't explain why so many students were unable to muster a similarly violent response to end to the massacre sooner.

It is in the mind of the shooter that all the real questions have to be directed, and answered.

Or, perhaps, more directly, at this young man's soul. And we have to talk about evil, whether we like it or not. Whether it seems quaint and parochial, or not. THIS event is, in no uncertain terms, evil.

One early story coming out says that this young man recently broke up with his girlfriend, and that's what tipped him over the edge. But breakups are an extraordinarily commonplace occurence on campus, and violnce only rarely is the result of such.

But that leads to the question of what, in this man's psyche, made it seem reasonable, to him, to respond to his personal anguish with such inhuman violence? He probably is not--was not--an "evil person"; but evil sure found a way to use him to its own ends.

I would submit that it's not merely a tough breakup. That's not how evil works. Evil started working on this young man's soul many years ago. It started by whispering in his ear that he wasn't being duly recognized fo his athletic prowess when he was 8; it continued by pointing out that his parents seemed to fawn over his brother more than him; it took a side street by convincing him that he was a "prize catch" for women; it set him up by desensitizing him to human life, whether that was through video games or Chinese culture (one swirling rumor labels this guy a Chinese student/immigrant); and it probably weakened his spirit by justifying to him "one more drink, I don't need that much sleep..."

As I was thinking about this tragedy tonight, it occurred to me that this guy couldn't have just suddenly become a violent, hateful man. There were probably little tiny steps all along the way of his life that led him into this position. Tiny little steps that nobody around him noticed or were able to put any significance upon. Tiny little steps that put him on the edge of cliff, so that when his girlfriend broke up with him, he's over the edge.

And we still don't know if it was a bad breakup or what--one of the infuriating things is how precious little we know right now.

But, sadly, the evil--whatever its exact nature--will not likely end here. How many students, unable to cope with the images of the carnage they witnessed, will go on lengthy drug/alcohol binges to numb the pain? How many campus officials will ow look at every student with a less trusting attitude? How many friends will consider ending their own life to escape the horror of what their friend has done?

How many mothers and fathers will lose entire years of their life trying to understand why their child didn't come home at the end of the semester?

Evil will continue to work on this situation, it's tentacles spreading far and wide through the network of connections to the campus that those 33 lives created. In many ways, and not just numerical, this is a far worse tragedy than Columbine. Columbine, at least, happened in a community which was able to rally around and provide care and support for the students and families. A college campus is a different beast, and these families are likely dispersed to the four corners of the globe, unable to physically recreate a supportive community to share the burden and start the healing process.

Evil will spread from this, and it is up to the living to battle that evil.

How? I don't know. I know that making another law would only make the evil laugh; I know that spending a lot of energy and resources trying to assign blame will provide cover for the evil; I know that turning off violent video games, while shutting off some minds to violence, will do nothing in and of itself to fill the souls of young people with enough light to fight off the darkness.

And that's really what we're talking about. You can't combat evil on its own terms--its been around to long and is too savvy an enemy. There is only one way to ward off the evil, to contain it, and to try to make it return to the abyss from whence it came, and that is to DO GOOD.

I wonder, at what point along the way would a random GOOD have distracted this young man from his fate? If a friend had shown up unannounced at his door this morning with a Starbuck's, would he have continued with his plan? If a friend, knowing he was struggling with the breakup, had taken him home with him for the weekend to "hang" with his parents, would he have dreamt up this plan this weekend?

If a teacher in ninth grade had noticed him taking things particularly hard, pulled him aside and said "I like you, and I want to help you stop eating yourself up from the inside", would he have still been capable of this today?

And so I'm left with a sense of helplessness about the people in Blacksburg and their families extended around the world. I shed tears in their honor, and I pray that God give them some measure of peace today and tomorrow and the next day. But I don't know what else I can do for them.

Except . . .

maybe become a totem against the next such tragic event.

It IS in my power to commit a completely senseless, random ACT OF GOOD. Tomorrow, I CAN look for an opportunity to help one person who doesn't deserve it, I CAN pat one student on the back who earns it, I CAN pat another student on the back to let them know I'm glad they're here, I CAN help someone get from the parking lot to the building by carrying some of their overload, I CAN call up a friend totally out of the blue to say "I was thinking about you."

I CAN DO GREATER GOOD. And the only way I know of to fight evil is to DO GREATER GOOD.

So I would encourage each of you reading this to make a conscious effort to go out of your way today for ONE OTHER PERSON. Make it a small gesture--do that "thing" you've been meaning to do for weeks now, or just smile at people on the street for no reason, or make a point of sitting with the person at lunch who always eats alone. Something--ANYTHING. DO GOOD.

Make sure the people in your life know that they're valued, that they matter, and that the darkness is at least as far away from them as the length of your arm.

And pray.


Teachers' Unions: Greatest Impediment To Good Public Education

Here's a story you've probably only heard a tiny little piece of:

An impasse has been declared in contract talks between the Jefferson County Schools and the Jefferson County Teachers Association. . .

The main dispute, according to a school district release, centers around probationary teachers, who are those in their first three years of employment.

The district does not want to be required to renew annual contracts of probationary teachers who are not meeting expectations without going through a grievance process.

The teachers union wants to keep current contract language that gives probationary teachers job protection beyond what is provided by state law.

That's the Denver Post coverage of the story. How did the Rocky handle this story?

Jefferson County Public Schools and the teachers union declared impasse Friday in contract negotiations.

At issue is a provision that gives appeal rights to non-tenured teachers who are dismissed.

Pretty light-weight coverage. Nothing hard-hitting, nothing that suggests anybody is being unreasonable, though the Post story did include that line about "beyond what is provided by state law." If all you knew about the story was what was in the newspapers, you might assume that both sides were being reasonable, and the union was merely doing it's job protecting its teachers.

But you would be wrong.

Not only does state law NOT require those sort of protections for probationary teachers, not a single school district in the state provides such protections for probationary teachers. In fact, principals-in-training are advised to make sure their paperwork is in order prior to the end of the third year so that they can dispose of bad young teachers while they can . . .

and before they can do too much damage to your children.

EXCEPT if you intend to be an administrator in Jefferson County; in that case, good luck. Hire well. And learn to train, retrain, and be patient.

Put that in the context of the private sector. Imagine being the manager at a manufacturing plant, and having a poor employee. Imagine , which is not too big a stretch, having to jump through several hoops to terminate said bad employee--perhaps you need a history of three bad evaluations, a record of an "intervention" or "remediation", followed by another poor evaluation, etc. . . While I imagine such a process silly in the private sector, it is not beyond imagining. Tedious, but not unrealistic. And, in the end, said employee would likely be terminated.

Such is not the case in the public schools. All the previous requirements must be met to terminate a teacher, but in most school districts throughout the state, to fire a teacher after they have reached the fourth year of their career usually involves a lengthy greivance process through the union, followed by an appeal or two, followed by . . . One principal told me that the process can take up to four years to complete, and is almost never, in the long run, worth the trouble.

What Jefferson County teachers have is a version of the same protections for ALL teachers, whether a proven veteran or a clueless rookie. And, very often, rather than being fired, the teacher would merely be moved on to another location.

The old argument is that the termination process for teachers SHOULD be difficult, because you don't want to be getting into a situation where the whim of a principal could be allowed to dictate the career of an altruistic young teacher.

Does this sound right to any of you out in the private sector? Yeah, I didn't think so.

BUT . . . .I SAY BUT . .

that's not the whole story.

The protection of probationary teachers IS, indeed, the sticking point in contract negotiations. But, somehow, both papers missed a pretty important factoid.

The Jefferson County School District has offered the teachers an across-the-board cost of living increase of 4% to the teachers, as well as alterations to the pay scale and benefits totaling about 2%, for a total compensation increase of 6% to the teachers.

Get that? The district has offered teachers a 6% pay increase, and the union is saying "NO" because the district wants to conform to the practice of every other school district in the state, and the union does not want to do that.

How many of you know a teacher? Ask them how they feel about their union turning down a 6% pay raise over probationary teachers.

Then tell them what your pay raise was last year. Or, better yet, what it would have been if you had been a very poor performer at your job.

And let me make one thing very clear: THIS IS NOT THE TEACHERS DOING THIS!! I am a teacher, and I only found out about this folly a couple days ago.

This is the teachers' union at work here. Let me draw the difference:

Teachers are smart, highly trained, hard working, dedicated and altruistic servants of the public good. Without any doubt in my mind, the vast majority of teachers I have worked with fit this description. I would defy you to find better people in any other walk of life, with the possible exception of the clergy. And, yes, teachers do get good benefits, including great vacation time; and, occassionally, one of them oversteps their purview and spews odd Lefty rubbish: this does not diminish any of the other characteristics I listed above in the vast majority of cases.

Teachers' UNIONS, on the other hand, are self-important, self-interested, protectors of THEIR OWN interests who freely spend teachers' money on hard-left political causes, many of which have precious little to do with education.

Which is why I believe teachers' unions are one of the greatest impediments to good education in all of society. Whether it is because of their reflexive resistance to innovation and improvement, out-an-out goofiness like this story, or just because the bad public relations they generate make one-third of the population mistrust public schools and teachers, teachers' unions have done more to set back the cause they profess to protect than any single entity anywhere.

Just ask yourself: what does this negotiation have to do with improving student learning?

And then ask your teacher friend the same question.

I Didn't Say It . . .

but it's even more effective when a reporter for the Associated Press says it.

Fox has tried twice, without success, to set up a debate with the major Democratic contenders. Both times they failed because of pressure applied by online liberal activists, who consider Fox biased toward Republicans and conservatives. . . .

The risk to this strategy is it could make the candidates look like, well, weenies.

But David Bauder didn't leave it at that:

"If you can't handle the people at Fox News Channel, it makes people wonder if you can handle the Iranians, the North Koreans, the Chinese, the Russians and maybe even the Canadians," said Ellis Henican, a Newsday columnist and Fox News contributor.

Keep in mind, Ellis Henican is frequently on Fox to represent the Left side of a debate.



Would That Our Own Congress Had The Courage . . .

to stand up to the terrorists in this fashion:

BAGHDAD - Iraq's parliament met in an extraordinary session of "defiance" Friday, the Muslim day of prayer, and declared it would not bow to terrorism. . . .

The unprecedented Friday meeting was called to send "a clear message to all the terrorists and all those who dare try to stop this (political) process, that we will sacrifice in order for it to continue," said al-Mashhadani, a Sunni Muslim.

"We feel today that we are stronger than yesterday," he said. "The parliament, government and the people are all the same _ they are all in the same ship which, if it sinks, will make everyone sink."

In the meantime, Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters Friday that her new best friends Bashar Assad and Mahmoud Abbas have told her that the actions of the Iraqi Parlaiment are "incendiary" and "uneccessarily confrontational." She called on the Iraqi government to recognize the danger of their position and disband to prevent further bloodshed, simultaneously condemning President Bush for putting the Iraqis in a position of "extreme peril."

"We respect, admire, and support the members of the Iraqi Parlaiment. But, unfortunately, the idea that they can forge a new future for their country by sheer force of courage and desire is delusional, and the Democratic leadership believes that they only encourage such atrocities by continuing to meet in large numbers" the California Representative said.

Wel, no, she didn't, actually.

But it was believable, there, for a moment, wasn't it?


I'm Just Saying . . . .

The National Weather Service has issued a "winter storm warning" for this evening as light snow is expected to spread from south to north across the afternoon. . . .

Sunrise tomorrow will see up to 7 inches through the metro area and up to 12 inches in the foothills.

This is Friday morning:

I can accept a margin of error--say, 35%. But to be COMPLETELY wrong is just laughable.
But what's more, we're supposed to believe what climate scientists say is going to happen in 50 years, when they are frequently 100% wrong about what's going to happen in 12 hours? And further, we're supposed to significantly alter our whole economy to "forestall" the "grave consequences" of such predictions?


Something Else

Nature is an amazing thing.

This nebula--the Red Square Nebula--is one of the most symmetrical objects ever seen in space. It was created by a dying star--MWC 922--spewing gas and dust into space.'

I wonder if this event was brought on by global warming?

If At First You Don't Succeed . . .

you should probably change the rules.

I thought it was yoeman's work for Colorado to kill Amendment 36, which would have distributed Colorado's electoral college votes according to the distribution of the state's popular vote. But, as has been noticed before, there's more than one way to skin a cat, as Maryland is demonstrating:

Maryland is poised to become the first state to approve giving its electoral votes for president to the winner of the national popular vote, rather than to the candidate chosen by state voters.

The plan, passed Monday by the state House, would take effect only if states representing a majority of the nation's 538 electoral votes adopted the same change. National Popular Vote, a group that supports the change, says bills have been introduced in 22 states.

The Arkansas House and Hawaii and Colorado senates have voted for the change. North Dakota and Montana voted against it this year.

Gosh, that's great company--Hawaii and Maryland (not sure how Arkansas figures in there), two of the most liberal states in the union. And now we're with them, with our own Senate Bill 46 awaiting action in the state House.

On the other hand, I don't think this is going to get very far. Gov AH-nold vetoed this in California, and if it's only in 22 states, and it's the likes of MD, HI, and us that are passing this, I don't think it's headed for the majority it needs.

But, sadly, it's up off the scrap heap and some states are actually adopting this lunacy.

Like I said--that's great company.


Here's How I Define Irony

A stubborn Senate voted Wednesday to ease restrictions on federally funded embryonic stem cell research, ignoring President Bush's threat of a second veto on legislation designed to lead to new medical treatments.

The 63-34 vote was shy of the margin that would be needed to enact the measure over presidential opposition . . .

On the exact same day that this news comes out:

Researchers have demonstrated for the first time that the progression of Type 1 diabetes can be halted — and possibly reversed — by a stem-cell transplant that preserves the body's diminishing ability to make insulin, according to a study published today. . . .

After a day of rest, they were infused with their own hematopoietic stem cells, which took about eight to 12 days to establish new immune systems.

Got that, everybody? These were ADULT stem cells which are being used to actually treat a previously incurable, congenital disease.

Where was YOUR Congressman during the debate, asking for a broad extension of funding for adult stem cell research? Mine was here, in which he directly references the "hope" that embryonic stem cell research holds out for diabetics, and others.

I love the irony. And I hope the President has the . . . . wherewithal . . to reference today's research breakthrough as he's vetoing this bill.


The Courage Of Their Convictions

Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Barack Obama (D-Ill.) yesterday joined former North Carolina senator John Edwards (D) in deciding to skip a debate scheduled for September that Fox News is co-sponsoring with the Congressional Black Caucus.

Liberal activists, particularly the online group Moveon.org, have called for Democratic presidential candidates not to participate in debates by Fox, which they say is biased against Democrats.

Too. Many. Jokes. Can't. . . Get . . .

Okay, so just one. If Fox is SO biased, then why would they align themselves with the CBC?

All I can say is, if a Dem wins in 2008, it will make for some ridiculously amusing political news cycles.

Right up until disaster strikes.

Quick Hits

--Radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr ordered up the march as a show of strength not only to Washington but to Iraq's establishment Shiite ayatollahs as well.

Al-Sadr has pounded his anti-American theme in a series of written statements. The most recent came on Sunday, when he called on his Mahdi Army militia to redouble efforts to expel American forces and for the police and army to join the struggle against "your archenemy." . . .

says the brave man hiding in Iraq. You think it's just me that thinks NOT taking this guy out when we had the chance three years ago--even though he was hiding in a mosque--was one of the major blunders of this war?

--CBS Radio and MSNBC both said they were suspending Imus’ morning talk show for two weeks following his reference last week to members of the Rutgers women’s basketball team as “nappy-headed hos.”

What do you think? Undisciplined rantings of an old crank, or rare glimpse underneath the superiority complex of the Left?

--180,000 new jobs in March, 32,000 upward job revisions for the prior two months, and a 4.4% unemployment rate.

Just in case you get your news from the evening news, and hadn't heard it (for whatever reason) over the weekend.

--And, just for the record, I am very glad the British sailors and marines were released without permanent injury. And, my, what a BIG surprise it was to find out their "confessions" were under duress.

I wonder when the U.N. is going to bring the full weight of its rhetoric down on the regime in Teheran? I wonder, on its scale of atrocities, where what the Iranians did to the Brits falls compared to the 2700 calorie diet, pristine handling of Koran, arrows pointing to Mecca sort of treatment our prisoners at Gitmo receive?

And was it really anything resembling a surprise that a few days after ending another great hostage-taking adventure, and paying NO PRICE for it, that Teheran would claim to have made the next leap into the nuclear age? I think every time they're ready for whatever is next, the Iranians are going to do something to the West, just to see if we've grown a backbone before they do it.


Embrace the "Spectacular Failure" . . . and Move Forward

I love Disney movies.

Yes, they ocassionally wander off the Left side of reality--in particularly the "straight to video" ones.

But the ones they really try to market to the mass audience, they tend to be more careful about vetting their ideas. And, very often, those ideas are wonderful.

Just to list a few:

--The Incredibles, which skewers litigators while making jest of the Lefty belief that "everybody is special", by pointing out the when everybody is special, then nobody is special

--A Bug's Life, which posits that doing the unusual, and standing up to bullies, is often vastly preferable to being a cultural doormat (someone should send a copy of this one to the British Navy, about now)

--Monsters, Inc., which actually puts foreward the idea that the REAL solutions are often not improving what your doing now, but looking for the brand new idea

Well, this weekend I had the pleasure of seeing another Disney movie which puts foreward a wonderful idea.

The movie in question is Meet the Robinsons. The movie itself was, at best, above average: it dragged in many places and the humor was fairly predictable, and not terribly satisfying.

But it does put forward a wonderful idea: the Spectacular Failure.

The Spectacular Failure is a term the Robinsons use to refer to inventions that don't work. Rather than get down on the invention or the inventor, the Robinsons have a good laugh, take some notes, . . .

and then move forward.

Thomas Edison knew the wisdom of this. After 6,634 attempts at finding the right material to make a filiment for his light bulb did not achieve success, he did not see it as failure; rather, he merely noted that he had eliminated 6,634 possibilities, and moved on to possibility number 6,635.

You see, the Spectacular Failure only applies to the grand, the visionary, the . . well, spectacular. You cannot achieve Spectacular Failure if all you ever attempt is the mundane. Likewise, you cannot get beyond the Spectacular Failure if you do not learn . . .

and then Move Forward.

I was thinking about the Spectacular Failure in the context of the Iraq War. Without a doubt, attempting to sow the seeds of genuine democracy in the Arab world, while not forcing a martial society upon them, is the stuff of the spectacular. Many said it couldn't be done; many said it shouldn't be done.

And yet, we tried. And, BOY HOWDY has the post-invasion period been one Spectacular Failure!

Seriously, folks, we need to acknowledge the truth of this. Is it as bad as the media says? Certainly not. Have we been making progress? Almost certainly.

But it isn't what those of us who supported the War signed up for.

Parts of it have been spectacular. The invasion itself was masterful; finding Saddam, convicting him, and dispatching with him was important.

But not shutting the borders was ridiculous; not taking out al-Sadr when we had the chance was naive; and not learning from the example of Gen. Patraeus when he supressed Mosul, and instead pulling him out to teach counter-insurgency at Fort Leavenworth, while failing to follow his example around the rest of Iraq was just plain stupid.

So, FINALLY, it seems we've embraced the Spectacular Failure . . . and moved forward . . .

by bringing Gen. Patraeus back to use his techniques on Baghdad.

And, it would seem, that has finally started to pay off, as the Iraqis themselves are starting to export Gen. Patraeus' methods to other regions in Iraq.

It's not the first Spectacular Failure the American military has ever suffered. If you took the current media's line on things, the 57,000 dead at Normandy would constitute a Spectacular Failure. Certainly, what happened three months later at Market Garden, which was a strategic loss that cost 17,000 lives, was a Spectacular Failure. Antietam, in the Civil War, failed to achieve all that it was capable of, to the deaths of 23,000 Americans. And the entire year of 1776 was all one Spectacular Failure, up until the bold stroke of Trenton at the very end.

So, after 3,200 precious American lives lost, we have finally embraced our Spectacular Failure in Iraq, and moved oforward. This is important, and too slow in coming, . . .

but it IS important, and gives us the opportunity to achieve that which is Spectacular.

The Democrats, on the other hand, are attempting to RELIVE their Spectacular Failures. First, they try to broadcast our playbook to the enemy by putting a timeline on American withdrawal from Iraq. Then Nancy Pelosi wanders across the pond, with all the foreign policy expertise of Jane Fonda, and breaks bread with a man who has sent troops to kill Americans, has sent proxies to attack our ally in Israel, and is currently scrambling for all he's worth to avoid being hauled before the ICC for the murder of Lebanese statesmen. And, while all this is going on, Harry Reid puts forward the idea of cutting off the money the troops need to operate on the field of battle.

The distinction could not be more important. Not only does our side attempt the spectacular, though sometimes to our dismay, while the other side only attempts the mundane; not only does our side learn (albeit slowly) and press on to greater glory, while the other side tries to relive the "glories" of past American humiliation . . .

but our side is willing to act, to put men and treasure on the line to create the Spectacular next world, . .

while the other side is willing to put nothing on the line but WORDS.

If the Republicans do not start drawing this distinction in bold, bright lines, we will also be reliving our own Spectacular Failure, and allow the Demorats to bring back the grand humiliation and economic malaise that was the 1970s.

It's a simple choice: relive, over and over again to our unending humiliation, our past Spectacular Failures; or embrace our new Spectacular Failures . . .


Signs of the Apocolypse

Some movie franchises just don't go away.

Die Hard 4: Live Free, or Die Hard, coming to a theater near you July 4th.

Two hopes fo this one: first, that this follows in the spirit of the rest of the series, and is WILDLY non-PC; and B. that Bruce Willis is really only doing this to help finance a movie about the Deuce-Four (go about 1/3 way down the linked page).

And, speaking of movies, does anybody know anything about The Reaping? I find it . . .curious . . . that Hollywood would put out a movie dealing with the apocolypse on Holy Thursday--without much fanfare.


Pots and Kettles and Glass Houses

In my effort to link to great posts by friends, I sometimes make a seven layer dip out of my metaphors.

But don't hold my literary weakness against Bob, whose hilarious post should be a campaign advertisement somewhere.


How Media Both Invents And Destroys Stories

You've probably seen and heard the headline today from the Supreme Court: High Court Rebukes Bush on Car Pollution. (from the AP)

Denver Post: same

WaPo: Supreme Court: EPA Can Regulate Car Emissions . . . In rebuke to Bush Administration policy . . .

NYTimes: Justices Say E.P.A. Has Power to Act on Harmful Gases The Supreme Court’s ruling that the Clean Air Act expressly authorizes the E.P.A. to regulate carbon dioxide emissions was a strong rebuke to the Bush administration.

NBC Nightly News: video of lead story from tonight here, though it leaves out the obligatory Brian Williams hyperbole about the administration's "rebuke from the Court".

So that's the hype. What did the Supreme Court ACTUALLY say?

From Justice Stevens' 5-4 decision:

We need not and do not reach the question whether on remand EPA must make an endangerment finding, or whether policy concerns can inform EPA’s actions in the event that it makes such a finding. Cf. Chevron U. S. A. Inc. v. Natural Re-sources Defense Council, Inc., 467 U. S. 837, 843–844 (1984). We hold only that EPA must ground its reasons for action or inaction in the statute.

The judgment of the Court of Appeals is reversed, and the case is remanded for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Not exactly "you're fired." Not even close.

Is this a rebuke? Not really--it's a loss.

It DOES NOT order the Administration or the EPA to make rules regulating car emissions.

It DOES NOT order the Administration or the EPA to acknowledge the "real and imminent" threat of global warming.

It DOES NOT order the Administration or the EPA to craft policy decisions based on global warming.

All this ruling does, it would seem, is to tell the Administration and the EPA to make a decision on whether to enact rules related to greenhouse gas emissions in a fashion consistent with the current law.

That's it. No more. This is strictly a procedural ruling, and not at all anything to deserve the top spot on the evening news or the headline of tomorrow's paper. But that is what it will get.

In the meantime, you're probably thinking the Court's work for the day was done with that bit of administration. But there, you would be wrong. Because the Court came to this decision today, also:

Supreme Court Refuses To Hear Appeals By Detainees At Guantanamo Bay.

Of course, that's not how the decision is reported. For instance, you won't hear that the Court decided by 6-3 not to hear this case--instead, you'll hear how "a divided court" came to this decision with "signals that it would reconsider" later.

Curious how none of that language shows up in the Mass. v. EPA stories.

08 Presidential Musings

I am starting to think that the 2008 Presidential election will be more and more about George W. Bush than anybody is really thinking right now.

NOT Iraq--the President, himself. Let me explain . . .

My lovely wife and I had dinner the other night with her parents, and, by and by, the conversation turned to current events. And one of the topics that came up was the President's reaction to a reporter who asked him about Tony Snow's condition. His response started with "My attitude about Tony's condition is . . . ." and went on for about 15 seconds in that typical Bush-y stilted, staccato fashion. And my wife, who is at least as conservative as I am, and is, I think, fairly representative of the suburban housewife, concluded that the President more often than not comes across as cold and unfeeling.

Hear that? Not dumb or ineloquent--cold. And I started wondering if that stylistic consideration wouldn't play a pretty big role in 2008.

Let's face it: I think a majority of the country is pretty tired of the President at this point. Those who don't downright hate him wish he played the part better--at moments like Tony Snow's illness a bit of good wordsmithing would go a long way, and even I, who like him, sometimes wish Martin Sheen could do some of the press back-and-forths, just to give the feeling that the President was at least the intellectual equal of the press.

And that threshhold isn't very high.

And, by the way, when I say "Martin Sheen" I mean "Jed Bartlett," the character from The West Wing.

At any rate, I think it's easy to make the case that in 2000 the country had had enough of the oh-too-slick politician that had exactly the right thing to say but that you could never trust to actually mean it. Which played very well into George W. Bush's hands.

In 2008, I think we're going to be ready for a little competent politicking again, but with a twist: I think the electorate is going to be looking for a person who seems to be the smartest kid in the room.

I know pollsters put a lot of stock in "likeability", and I think that plays a huge role, including being a key component of W's victories. But I think the country may have had just enough of that for now after two likeable guys in a row. Bush is the guy up the street who'll help with the yardwork and share a drink with you, and Clinton was the guy who'll bring the drink and all the pretty girls. But that hasn't really been great for the neighborhood (according to opinion polls).

What I think the electorate is going to look long and hard at for 2008 is the aura of competence and intellect--even brilliance, if someone can pull it off without seeming arrogant--coupled with easy personability, but not necessarily approachability.

So, how does that effect the Big 6? Hurts Guiliani: too gruff, too blunt, very smart but not warm enough. Hurts McCain: not that he can win, anyway, but he's also too gruff and not approachable. Hurts Edwards: too pretty, not heavy enough, though plenty personable. May Help Obama: depends on if he can us his formidable interpersonal skills to defend his short resume.

Helps Romney: this guy IS sharp, comes across as sharp, but also seems very personable.

Helps Hillary: she really is a sharp tack, and seems that way; and though "warm" has NEVER been a word used to describe her, the country is familiar enough with her that she may be over that problem.

In the long run, though, I think the person this may help the most is an unannounced candidate: Fred Thompson. The man's presence SCREAMS "gravitas", he's very good on his feet, and is a gifted public speaker. And his Tennessee drawl gives him a grandfatherly sort of quality that I think people--especially suburban mothers--will respond to. If he gets in, particularly if he gets in a little late after the country is already tired of the Big 6, he could be a breath of fresh air in an otherwise pretty stuffy contest.

At any rate, I would just love to see some of the debates between Thompson and Romney--those would have the potential to reach Lincoln/Douglas elevations, and vastly outclass anything the Dems have to offer.

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