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Saturday, March 06, 2004

Marjorie Williams strives to like John Kerry since she is a "charter member of the ABB Society -- Anybody But Bush" but is having trouble.
To watch Kerry floundering in the impossible contradictions of this issue is to see starkly how little he is guided by core principle -- or even by a consistently wise sense of where his political interests lie. To respond to every unpleasant political stimulus that presents itself is to throw away the chance to make even an expedient long-term commitment to something.

There's no doubt that John Kerry has his good points. His heroism in Vietnam, though not the perfect magic amulet of Democratic fantasies, does give him one kind of alpha-dog dominance over President Bush. It sure feels refreshing, as a Democrat, to have a candidate whose claim to toughness doesn't seem slightly ridiculous.

But in eight out of nine Super Tuesday primaries -- even in his home state! -- Kerry voters who were acting on the belief that he offered the best chance of beating Bush outnumbered those who thought Kerry agreed with them on major issues. The one exception was Ohio, where the Issues camp outstripped the Beat Bush camp by four points.

Eight months is a long time for Bush to pile up a home-field advantage while Kerry's campaign decides how to fill in, complete and polish the invention that won the primaries. It's going to be hard to sustain, for so many months, the party's fond illusion that there is such a beast as "electability."

But I'm trying, I really am. Cover your eyes, and clap if you believe in Tinkerbell.

Boy, this election financing stuff sure is complicated. Now, the RNC is warning TV stations that the Moveon.org commercials have been financed with illegal soft money. If this is so, it will be a delicious example of liberals being hoist with their own reforms. David Tell had a long cover story about this in last week's Weekly Standard, predicting that the FEC's new ruling on 527's would put an end to all the George Soros-funded campaigns against Bush. It's all very complicated, but Tell seems to think that it means that 527 groups will have to raise their money in small increments just like the political parties. Soros won't be able to just throw millions at them.


* All public communications that "promote," "support," "attack," or "oppose" any clearly identified candidate for federal office--say, for example, George W. Bush--whether or not the damn things "expressly advocate" his defeat, and no matter when they're made during the political calendar, must be paid for with hard dollars only. No money from labor unions or corporations. And no checks for more than $5,000 from a billionaire. Who may only write one such check to America Coming Together for this purpose each year. The other $9,995,000 that billionaire has offered ACT are useless here.

* If such a communication as described above should happen to mention, in addition to the dastardly George W. Bush, some clearly identified candidate for nonfederal office, too--or should it merely add a nasty swipe at "Republicans" generally--well, sorry, that'll only get you so far. Somewhere between half and three-quarters of the cost will still have to come from your hard-money accounts.

* Same goes for voter-registration and get-out-the-vote initiatives. (Incidentally, judging from their most recent FEC and IRS disclosure filings, ACT and the other anti-Bush 527s haven't got any hard money to speak of at the moment. They'll have to go raise it from scratch, competing for donors directly with the Democratic national party committees--and with the Democratic party's presumptive presidential nominee. Neither those committees nor that nominee will be happy about it.)

* Oh, almost forgot. Only federally regulated contributions--in amounts no larger than $5,000 per donor, per year--may be requested in fundraising appeals that mention specific candidates for federal office "in a manner that conveys" an intention to use the money in support or opposition to those candidates. So you know how when you guys were up in Southampton last summer, and you were talking to Mr. Soros about what you wanted to do to defeat George Bush, and he told you he wanted to give you $10 million? It looks like when you started taking that money, it might have been illegal. And though the commission declines to get into such a hypothetical, it looks like Soros's giving you the money might have been illegal, too. The relevant criminal penalties are outlined in Title 2 of the U.S. Code: "Any person who knowingly and willfully commits a violation of any provision of this Act which involves the making, receiving, or reporting of any contribution, donation or expenditure . . . aggregating $25,000 or more during a calendar year shall be fined under Title 18, United States Code, or imprisoned for not more than 5 years, or both." There's probably wiggle room in that "knowingly and willfully" part. Good luck.

* Also, you know how, right at this very moment, on the America Coming Together website, there's that section labeled "Donate," which offers a person the chance to respond, "Yes, I am committed to kicking George W. Bush out of the White House"? And then there are some instructions about how to send in money? And then way at the bottom, in smaller type, there's a notice that indicates how contributions in excess of $5,000 per year "will be placed in the America Coming Together non-federal account"? Whaddya think? Maybe that's illegal, too? See above.

Soros might not mind breaking the law and just paying the fine. But, if TV stations may refuse to run the ads once they realize that the funding behind them is against the law. I can't wait to see how this plays out. Campaign Finance Reform can be so much fun!
Maureen Dowd swoons over Kerry because he reads and writes poetry. Boy, she's easy. It really doesn't take much to make her heart go pitty-pat. Just reel off a few poetic lines and name a bunch of favorite movies and you become a great intellectual in her eyes. They just can't stand it that Bush doesn't play their game.
Look what Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs has uncovered about the people being quoted complaining about Bush's ads.
?Peaceful Tomorrows? is the anti-war September 11 victim group often seen onstage at International ANSWER rallies, and their representatives have been quoted (usually without any context) in nearly every story about President Bush?s new advertisements. Would you be terribly surprised to discover that, according to their web site, Peaceful Tomorrows is a project of the Tides Center?the far left funding group to which Teresa Heinz Kerry has given millions of dollars?

You wouldn?t?

(Link via Ed Driscoll)
Fred Barnes and Bill Kristol say that the Bush people are doing an exceptionally poor job at rapid response.
John Rhys-Davies is a brave man.
"There is a demographic catastrophe happening in Europe that nobody wants to talk about, that we daren't bring up because we are so cagey about not offending people racially. And rightly we should be. But there is a cultural [aspect] as well," Rhys-Davies has said.

It is the culture of fundamentalist Islam that concerns Rhys-Davies the most. "When I look at contemporary Islam, I see homophobia, forced conversion, genital mutilation, slavery, two million people being put to death in the Sudan because of their religion."

He also sees its hand in an ugly trend: "There is a rise in anti-Semitism in Europe unprecedented since the 1930s," he laments.

In his view, "Fundamental Islamism is a particularly brutish and unpleasant form of fascism." He fears that if it becomes the dominant culture in Europe, it will wipe out all that is good about Western culture.

"It's easy to lose a civilization," Rhys-Davies warns. "The values of Western civilization have brought so much good to the world: the notions of equality, democracy, tolerance, abolition of slavery."

Rhys-Davies sees these same themes espoused in The Lord of the Rings, observing, "[J.R.R.] Tolkien knew that civilization is worth fighting for. There are times when a generation is challenged and must fight to defend their civilization from annihilation."

Greg Sisk muses on what it means to Catholics to have John Kerry, a Catholic who rejects Catholic teaching, as a candidate for the presidency. (Link via The Right Coast)
The British papers have more details about how the war in Afghanistan is going and some news on the hunt for Bin Laden.
It's a duel among 9/11 victims' relatives and among firefighter union leaders. The former leader of the Uniformed Firefighters Associationhas organized a letter of support for Bush's 9/11 ads.
In the November election we will have a clear choice laid before the American people," the letter reads. "President Bush is rightly offering us that choice and the images of Sept. 11, although painful, are fundamental to that choice. The images in President Bush's campaign television ads are respectful of the memories of Sept. 11."

Jimmy Boyle, former president of the Uniformed Firefighters Association, said he came up with the letter after hearing that the president was being criticized for the ads.

"I don't think he's taking advantage of Sept. 11 and I feel that he's given us the leadership that we need," said Boyle, who said he will be voting for a Republican president for the first time in November.

Poliblogger is up with this week's Toast-o-Meter. It's now a two-slicer toaster.
Adam Nagourney tries to sort through conventional wisdom to prove that it really is correct, if you just wait long enough.
Check out this 1944 FDR campaign button.

In case you can't read the inscription, it says "We are going to win this war and win the peace that follows." As one of my readers, Lorenz G, pointed out, that would make a slogan for Bush as well.

Remember that Lincoln campaigned in 1864 on not changing horses in midstream. It's ludicrous to say that a president can not refer to an attack on American soil in his political campaign. This is a Democratic preemptive attack to try to neutralize the President's advantage on terrorism. The fact that they got their spokesmen onto the airwaves so fast indicates that they had everyone lined up and ready to go the minute Bush referred to 9/11.

And there is this poster.
(Link via Craig's List from Poliblogger)

UPDATE: Steven Taylor and several others believe that the "Remember Pearl Harbor" button is a photoshop job, so I'm removing it. But, I've found the campaign button on several memorabilia sites.
I guess there are some limits to the German welfare state. (Link via Chris R., a student)
Play the Kerry v. Kerry flip flop boxing game that the GOP has posted.
David Brooks says that we love our blue-bloods and that's why we have a Bush v. Kerry race. All very nice and he has lots of nice jabs on Kerry's efforts to seem "one of us." But how does that explain previous contests of self-made men such as Ford v. Carter, Reagan v. Carter or Mondale, or Clinton v. Dole. Brooks seems to be generalizing from just the 2000 and 2004 campaigns.
Instapundit has a link to a panel discussion that Duke held regarding academic freedom and whether there was discrimination against conservatives. Unfortunately, most of the panel were administrators who wouldn't know what is going on in undergraduate classrooms and in hiring decisions. There was one conservative speaker there, Professor Munger, chairman of the Political Science Department. Here is an excerpt from what he said.
When I first arrived at Duke, there was a party for new faculty. And when it was time to sit down, we were all told: "Since you've been hired at Duke, I'm sure that none of you is so foolish as to be conservative. So, please, spread yourselves liberally around the tables." Now, I wasn't offended. I wasn't worried. I would never have mentioned the incident except I recently heard several people who were at that dinner and who laughed at that joke loudly insisting that politics should never play a role in hiring. If one can be certain -- spread yourselves liberally -- that the hiring process results in the process of hiring liberals only, how can one claim that ideology has no role in the hiring process. Now I don't see that a litany of incidents where I heard similar comments made by administration officials in an off-hand or joking way serves any purpose. I hope that you will stipulate, that you will accept, that I don't have to bore you for quite a few minutes with that sort of thing. Now, let me emphasize, it's always unofficial, it's not a statement of policy, I don't think that there is any policy that takes that effect. It's just an expectation. The policy is for openness. The actual expectation is that we'll generally hire liberals.

Now let's take a step back. The answer that we've heard repeatedly since the publication of a party affiliation list by the DCU is that smart people aren't conservative. Now what was meant, of course, in fairness to the benighted Robert Brandon, is that educated people are statistically disproportionately liberal. Let's concede that. As education goes up, people are more likely to be liberal. Now I've often myself worked as an expert witness in legal cases involving allegations of discrimination based on the federal civil rights statutes. Now I've usually worked for the organization defining itself against the charge, but I can use the usual method for investigating the pattern of disparate treatment of some protected class. Let me say -- I think it's important -- conservatives are not and should not be a protected class. There's no way I think anyone can try and make an argument that conservatives deserve status as a protected class. We're not discriminated against. But, let's supposed that, just for the sake of argument, is there any possible evidence here of a pattern of disparate hiring practices given the data.

Now, as you recall, the history department has the distinction of having 35 registered Democrats and zero registered Republicans. The defense that we've heard offered is that not many history Ph.D.s are Republicans. Let's suppose that's true. Let's suppose it's 90 percent. Let's suppose that 90 percent of history Ph.D.s are Democrats and only 10 percent are Republicans. Now we'll define the event of hiring a Republican as having a probability of one in 10 for each of 35 independent Bernoulli trials. How likely is it if we use the binomial distribution to proportion the discipline are 90 percent Democrat. How likely is it that a department would have zero Republicans? If the hiring process is ideology blind, the answer is .025. That's less than three chances in 100. So if, in fact, it's an ideology-blind process and it's 90 percent -- 90 percent -- disproportionately more Democrat, 35 times is only going to get you three chances in 100 that that's an ideology-blind process.

Well, it may come down to qualifications and here is the nub of the problem, and then I'll close. Many conservatives in many fields in the humanities and social sciences are unqualified because they are conservative as it was condescendingly explained to me just the other day. I'm quoting this. It was a remarkable incident but I am quoting. Asking history to hire a conservative is exactly like asking biology to hire a Creationist -- someone who denies evolution.

Being conservative is by definition not intellectually respectable. Conservatives are simply not qualified.
And here is what Cathy Davidson, Vice-Provost and professor of English said in response.
As several people have noted, low-paid helping professions tend to attract liberals. Is that a surprise? If part of being a Republican is belief in free market and capitalist values, why would you spend four year of colleges earning straight A's in order to go for six or seven years of graduate school in order to compete with 200-300 other applicants for the rare plum of a tenure-track job in the humanities with a starting salary of maybe, if you're lucky, $45,000 a year. In my years of teaching, I've had many students tell me they would love to be an English major but their parents insist that they go to medical school or law school or into business. I've never once, not once, have the reverse - tuition-paying parents bullying their child into quitting that job on Wall Street in order to go to grad school in English.

So if we truly want to increase the Republican professors at Duke, we need to look to the short- and long-term fixes provided by other diversity programs. Short-term: Heritage Foundation or the American Enterprise Institute can start lucrative graduate fellowship programs for young Republicans. Long-term: you've got to get them earlier. How about Head Start for Homer? Programs in affluent gated communities so baby Republicans can learn the joy of classics, not the joy of derivatives training. Or if we want to think really big, we should consider a full scale redistribution of wealth. If there were an enormous infusion of capital into education such that salaries for the nation's very, very best college teachers rival that of our nation's top lawyers or doctors or CEO's or stockbrokers, we may well might have more Republicans teaching French. There's only one problem with that. It may require socialism to achieve that end. In capitalist society, you get what you pay for. In higher education, that may just mean Democrats.

You got that? Republicans are only interested in making money so they don't go into low-paying fields like being college professors. As a relatively low-paid (by her standards) high school teacher and Republican, I take a lot of offense at that remark. I would bet that there are many conservative intellectuals out there who have a deep interest in history, literature, philosophy and classics. Perhaps they don't like the way these subjects are increasingly taught on college campuses. Perhaps, after years of indoctrination in undergraduate and graduate schools, they become liberal or learn to hide their beliefs. But to assume that conservatives are not interested in subjects other than those that make lots of money is rank prejudice.
Here's a fascinating story about the progress surgeons are making using "brain pacemakers" in treating diseases like Parkinson's and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.
Norm Scheiber, associate editor of The New Republic and a liberal, defends Bush on the unemployment figures. (Link via Dan Drezner)
Listening to Kerry, you almost get the impression that George W. Bush spends his waking hours personally scrolling through corporate payrolls looking for vulnerable people to throw out of work. By this logic, all you'd need was a president more sympathetic to the plight of the common man and you could instantly reverse the American economy's recent hemorrhaging of jobs. Alas, it's not so simple. As incompetent as Bush may be at managing the economy, he deserves little if any responsibility for the millions of jobs lost during his term. Nor is there much Kerry or any other Democrat could have done to reverse the trend had they been in office instead.

Call it cosmic justice for the Florida recount, or a genetic predisposition toward economic bad luck. But, whatever you call it, you have to acknowledge that the deck was pretty much stacked against Bush on the jobs issue from the day he entered office. Just like American businesses over-invested in computers and sophisticated factory machines during the bubble years of the late 1990s, they also over-invested in labor. There is some debate among mainstream economists over the lowest sustainable unemployment rate (known as the NAIRU, or non-accelerating inflation rate of unemployment, for sticklers). But even if you're optimistic and put it slightly below 5 percent, then the economy would have needed to shed between a million and a million-and-a-half jobs from its 2000 unemployment rate of 3.9 percent.

Of course, the economy has actually lost, on net, many more jobs than that since 2000--some 2.2 million according to the Labor Department's payroll survey, historically the most reliable measure of employment. But even blaming Bush for the million or so additional job losses strains economic logic.


Meanwhile, there is a continuing debate over which figures are more reliable: the household survey or the payroll survey. Jerry Bowyers, a conservative talk show-host and Bush supporter, says that the media always used to quote the unemployment rate as the standard measure, but now that that rate shows that the economy under Bush is doing well, they have switched over to the more pessimistic payroll survey which misses self-employed people.
Victor Davis Hanson reminds us of what is at stake in the election to come.
The United States is waking up from a serious malady. Once upon a time state-supported terrorism was seen as a criminal problem, not war, requiring yellow police tape, not GPS bombs. Afghanistan was turned into an anti-American terrorist base. Saddam Hussein required never-ending patrols to "box" him in. Osama bin Laden was too "hot" to be apprehended when offered up by potential captors. Pakistan and North Korea went nuclear — the greatest failure of many of the Clinton administration. Iran and Libya bought arsenals with impunity. Yasser Arafat systematically destroyed twenty years of economic progress on the West Bank and violated every accord he signed. Anti-Americanism grew in Europe without rejoinder or consequences. Saudi Arabia expected protection while our own female soldiers on patrol there hid their faces and arms — and promised not to drive. Terrorist funds flowed freely throughout the globe, as anti-Semitism and Islamicist-inspired hatred of Israel became the new pillar of trendy left-wing thought. All that has at least been recognized, checked, and is well on the way to being stopped.

Just as a presidency of earlier ossified liberals like Michael Dukakis or Walter Mondale probably would have led to support of a utopian nuclear freeze and subsequent Russian intimidation of Europe, unilateral cuts in military preparedness, and acquiescence to the Soviet Union, so too the election of John Kerry may well undo much of what has been achieved these last three years as we return to the old, normal way of doing business.

With Howard Dean gone, Kerry realizes that suddenly he must move rightward to sound tougher than George Bush. Finally, he seems to understand that every northern liberal Democrat in the last 30 years who ran to the left on national security lost badly — like McGovern, Mondale, and Dukakis. And so Mr. Kerry abruptly will have to talk grandly of what he would have done to make us more secure. Yet a better guide is his own record in opposing defense programs, in harboring a chronic suspicion of using American force, and his own contradictory past votes about deployments to the Middle East.

More likely, if President Bush loses, the war against terror will return, as promised, to the status of a police matter — subpoenas and court trials the more appropriate response to the mass murder of 3,000 at the "crime scene" of the crater in New York. Europe will be assured that our troops will stay while we apologize for the usual litany of purported unilateral sins. North Korea will get more blackmail cash, while pampered South Korean leftists resume their "sunshine" mirage. Iraq will be turned over to the U.N. as we abruptly leave, and could dissolve into something like the Balkans between 1991 and 1998. Iran and Syria will let out a big sigh of relief — as American diplomats once more sit out on the tarmac in vain hopes of an "audience" with despots. The Saudis will smile that smile. Arafat will be assured that he is now once again a legitimate interlocutor. And strangest of all, the American Left will feel that the United States has just barely begun to return to its "moral" bearings — even as its laxity and relativism encourage some pretty immoral things to come.

Paul Crespo reminds of us of the dangers of having Hugo Chavez, a Castro-clone dictator, also having millions in Venezuelan oil money to use to finance terrorism in the Western Hemisphere.
Bob Novak says that the Kerry people got John Edwards to quit early so that Kerry could save money by not campaigning in the southern states voting this Tuesday.
Brent Bozell contrasts film critic's responses to "The Last Temptation of Christ" and "The Passion of the Christ." Guess which one they loved.
Lawrence Kudlow puts yesterday's job figures into perspective. he is always so bullish on the economy, that I never know how much faith to put into his analysis. But it does make sense that there could be job growth going on among the self-employed that the payroll survey doesn't pick up.
It was a funny sight yesterday seeing all the TV producers coming out with color-coded cards to announce whether Martha had been found guilty or not so that the TV announcers could get it right.

Friday, March 05, 2004

The Wall Street Journal has it exactly right.
So the Bush campaign is being presented with something of a Catch-22: Any attempt to talk about the President's own record will be branded "exploitative," while any talk about Mr. Kerry's will be called an attack on his "patriotism." Our advice to Mr. Bush is to choose his message and ignore the whining.

Play this game. It's guaranteed to show you whether you are a Republican or Democrat.
Scrapple Face has found another set of ads that Kerry condemns.
Kerry Slams War Images in Kerry TV Ads

(2004-03-05) -- As Democrats assailed the Bush campaign yesterday for airing TV ads that include brief images of the aftermath of the 9/11 terror attacks, Sen. John Kerry lashed out at his own presidential campaign for employing "savage, militaristic imagery" in his ads.

"Where's the respect for the families of the victims of the Vietnam war?" asked the presumptive Democrat nominee as he viewed his own ads, apparently for the first time. "Images of a man toting a weapon, of gun boats on patrol, descriptions of battle scenes...these must be tremendously upsetting to the Vietcong vets and to the tens of thousands of American war protestors like me who fought valiantly for a despicable cause."

Mr. Kerry called upon his campaign to end its "jingoistic media assault which tries imply that a 60-year-old man has foreign policy savvy because he fought in a war 36 years ago."

The Kerry 2004 campaign refused to pull the ads, or even to respond to the senator's remarks.

Viking Pundit makes a prediction in the Veep guessing game. No way.
Dean Esmay has had it with the whining over the two-second use of a 9/11 image in the Bush ads.
Howard Fineman says that if you follow the rules of history, neither Kerry nor Bush will win in November.
Michael Barone says that the polls today are almost exactly where they were in the 2000 election.
Over at Hit and Run, Reason Magazine's blog, tries to compile a list of Libertarian movies.
Here's an analysis of what the Bush ads are designed to do and how well they achieve it.
Mugger takes on the snarkily annoying CW column in Newsweek.
Isn't this a story you want to know more about?
Drunken Polish nun crashes her tractor
Willy Stern describes the ease with which liberals make derogatory comments about Republicans.
Scarcely a week has gone by since I hit 7th grade at Edgemont High School during which somebody did not make a derogatory comment about Republicans in my presence. I hear them, well, practically everywhere...at Starbucks, at job interviews, and while picking up my son at Congregation Micah, Nashville's open-minded reform synagogue. I hear them in the hallways of Vanderbilt University (where I teach part-time), around the copy machines at the Nashville Scene (the alternative newspaper which employs me) and in the carpool line at the University School of Nashville, (the progressive private school which my older child attends).

Press me and you'll learn that—to the degree one can be labeled—I reside in the liberal wing of the Republican Party. I believe in free markets and free people. Social issues notwithstanding, that generally lines me up with the Republicans.

When somebody makes a prejudicial comment about Republicans in my presence, I play a private game. I replay the sentence in my mind—only I substitute a word like "black" or "lesbian" or "Mexican" in place of the word "Republican." In performing this verbal sleight-of-hand, it becomes increasingly apparent that the speaker of the sentence may harbor views not generally considered to be tolerant or open-minded.

.....In short, the justification for bigoted comments directed at those with whom the educated Left disagrees politically is based on two foundations: 1) We're a lot smarter than they are; and 2) We're better people than they are. That logic leads to three inescapable conclusions: We're right. They're wrong. QED: All Republicans are a**holes.

If you've ever heard these same sorts of thoughtless comments directed at conservatives, you should read his entire article. Teaching at a rather liberal charter school, I often hear such remarks. And the underlying supposition seems to be that Republicans deliberately want to ruin the environment, starve the poor, and invade other countries. I try to tell my students to start from the supposition that Republicans, like Democrats, actually care about the environment, poor, and other countries. And then they should ask themselves for the reasoning that would make a decent person advocate the policies that Republicans do. This thought exercise might one day lead them to understand that there are actual, logical reasons for such policies other than a deep-seated desire to stick it to the less fortunate and aid the fortunate.
The latest AP poll shows Nader taking 6% of the vote and Bush and Kerry essentially tied. I bet that his actual vote total will be much less. Many of those people will not go to the polls and there is no guarantee that Nader will even be on the ballot in all 50 states.
The Note agrees with me that the constant repetition of stories on the Bush ads may rebound to Bush's benefit.
The repetition of the Bush ad and the 9/11 imagery, even amid the throes of a "controversy," are bound to increase the association that viewers make between President Bush and his 9/11 leadership. So it doesn't seem necessarily obvious to us that they are on the defensive, here, or are particularly worried about seeming crass.

No one for a moment doubts the strong feelings expressed by victims' families, and we're not suggesting that criticism of the ads aren't warranted. (Perhaps they are, perhaps they're not). It's just that the mere fact of doing the story increases the odds that the goal of the ads will be fulfilled. (Well, at least half the goal — the question then becomes — will some key swingish people think that there has been a loss of national unity since then?) Especially this early in the season, when message-formation is perhaps the most potent weapon in the political arsenal.

What's Bush's re-election message? Easy: Steady leadership in times of change

What's Kerry's election message? Ah … .Well, it used to be … Howard Dean by-way-of Joe Lieberman … . I'm strong where Bush is strong and strong where he's weak.

But today?
We'll know that this is so when the Democrats and the media stop bloviating about it.
Clifford May writes about how difficult it is to install democracy in a place unused to democratic traditions.
Lileks has a fantastic screed against the Soros Moveon.org ad and against all those who think that Bush shouldn't be allowed to use any image from 9/11 in a campaign ad.
Heard some of the moveon.org Soros-financed ad today, about Bush eliminating overtime. The ad made it sound as though he had signed an executive order that outlawed the practice of paying ANYONE any overtime EVER, which of course isn?t the case. It fits with the worldview of the intended audience, I guess ? the people who think that once upon a time the United States strictly adhered to the Kyoto protocols, had legal gay marriage, and allowed overtime pay, and the President has undone these pillars of society one by one. Because he hates people, you know. He really wants to screw people over. That?s how you get reelected: wage unrelenting war against the electorate so they?ll vote for you in hopes that the beatings will slacken somewhat in the lame-duck term.

Read the rest. He moves from the lovely paternal pride he has in Gnat coloring in a six layer cake to taking on those who want to preemptively surrender in the war on terrorism.
Concoleeza Rice gives her opinions on what she calls "soft affirmative action."
Paul Greenberg says that the best think about Aristide is that he's gone. Greenberg looks at how myths are already growing up around Aristide.
Somehow you knew all this would be blamed on the United States, but it's difficult to see how Washington could have sent the Marines in any earlier. Then it would have had to side with the dictator's thuggery — unthinkable — or fight it, which would have risked even more violence than Haiti has had to endure of late.

Washington moved with painful slowness, but at least it moved. One of the strangest reactions to the arrival of the Marines on the chaotic scene came from John F. Kerry, the senator and Democratic front-runner. He said the administration should have acted sooner — in support of the Aristide regime. Why? Intervening on behalf of democracy is chancy enough. Why intervene on behalf of a dictator?

Strange thing about Jean-Bertrand Aristide: As his popularity waned at home, his lobby in this country seemed to grow stronger. Distance lends even dictators enchantment. Not only Sen. Kerry but leading Democrats in Congress — like John Conyers and Charles Rangel — had a good word for the despot long after most of his own people wanted to see the back of him.

The dictator's friends here, safely removed from the corruption and violence of the Aristide regime, insisted on seeing him as some kind of Jeffersonian Democrat — even after he had cooked a legislative election that even the United Nations saw through.

I say Mr. Kerry's reaction was one of the strangest reactions to events in Haiti because the fantasy world in which the far left lives has only begun manufacturing conspiracy theories about what happened there.

To some, this is just another B-movie script in which the freely elected leader of a small, struggling country is overthrown by the wicked imperialists. Screenplay by Maxine Waters, the wacky congresswoman from California who fingered the CIA as the cause of the crack epidemic.

Messr. Aristide has always been good at churning out this kind of thriller himself. Having escaped with his life from his enraged countrymen, the dictator-in-exile is now pictured — indeed, pictures himself — as having been abducted by the Americans. It takes a rare kind of gratitude to paint one's rescuers as kidnappers.
Terry McAuliffe is trying to show that he is still relevant as the Kerry people consider shaving back his role as a spokesman for the candidate.
Diana West has a great column on Senator Flip Flop.
There may be something purely comic in the anecdote about the Kerry constituent who in 1991 received two letters from the Massachusetts senator, nine days apart, the first opposing the Gulf War, the second supporting it. But this anecdote is as good a metaphor as any for Mr. Kerry's stands on significant issues. In January, for example, he was castigating President Bush for his "exaggeration" of the terrorist threat — a point on which Sen. John Edwards, his erstwhile rival, saw fit to take him to task. In February, Mr. Kerry was still castigating Mr. Bush — but this time for having mustered an inadequate response to the same terrorist threat. "I do not fault George Bush for doing too much in the war on terror," Mr. Kerry said. "I believe he's done too little."

More amazing are the policy shifts that follow not a month or days, but a jot of punctuation. Last fall, Mr. Kerry explained his decision to oppose the president's plan to fund the post-liberation reconstruction of Iraq: "I voted against that $87 billion in Washington yesterday," Mr. Kerry said. "But let me make it clear, I am for winning the war in Iraq." Translation: I don't want to support the stabilization and rebuilding of Iraq, but I want to stabilize and rebuild Iraq.

Sometimes Mr. Kerry's position depends on who's listening. An Arab-American audience in Michigan last fall heard all about how Israel's security is just "another barrier to peace." As Mr. Kerry put it, "I know how disheartened Palestinians are by the Israeli government's decision to build a barrier off the Green Line — cutting deep into Palestinian areas. We don't need another barrier to peace. Provocative and counterproductive measures only harm Israelis' security over the long term, increase the hardships to Palestinian people and make the process of negotiating an eventual settlement that much harder."

In the run-up to Super Tuesday — which included a primary in notably Jewish New York — Mr. Kerry spoke out of a different side of his mouth. "Israel's security fence is a legitimate act of self-defense," he said. "No nation can stand by while its children are blown up at pizza parlors and on buses. While President Bush is rightly discussing with Israel the exact route of the fence to minimize the hardship it causes innocent Palestinians, Israel has a right and duty to defend its citizens. The fence only exists in response to the wave of terror attacks against Israel."
Mona Charen says that Bush should drop the "Mr Nive Guy" approach since he's not getting anything except vilification in return.
Frankly, it is difficult to think of a single instance during his time in office that George W. Bush has said anything stinging or even partisan about the party that has demonized him without pause for three and half years. He has never used expressions like "the Democrat attack machine," nor impugned the motives or character of those who disagree with him. As Deroy Murdoch of Scripps Howard wrote in 2001, "If Bush turns the other cheek any more, his head will fall off."

After years of friendly overtures and bipartisanship, President Bush should accept the fact that an extended hand to the Democrats is likely to be bitten off. The "party of compassion" is shot through with virulent animosity. Pollsters conducting exit polls among Democrats on Super Tuesday found widespread hatred for the president. A Georgia illustrator told The New York Times, "I'm not passionate about Kerry, but I think Bush is a positive evil."

This is mystifying. Bush's principle domestic agenda, prior to Sept.11, was the faith-based initiative to help the least fortunate. He hired a Democrat, John J. DiIulio, to oversee the program. However much they may have disagreed with the means Bush chose, Democrats might at least have acknowledged the president's goodwill and bona fides. They never did.

So as the 2004 campaign gears up, President Bush can drop the Mr. Nice Guy approach. They're going to hate him anyway, so he might as well fight like a cougar.
Here's a look at all the money that Aristide spent lobbying the US Congress while his own country was starving.
Now the Washington Times says that Bush has mended fences with his base. I never bought that there was this terrible division in the Republican base.
The Washington Post looks at how political considerations underlaid the 1992 Casey v. Planned Parenthood decision.
Juan Williams says that the Democrats are now waking up to the fact that they have chosen John Kerry and don't really know who he is.
The New York Times chronicles the long friendship between Justices Burger and Blackmun and how their closeness was harmed by their disagreements while serving together on the Court.
Poliblog has some wise comments and states what I was thinking about how this is really being manufactured in order to neutralize Bush's advantage on security and terrorism. And he asks a good question. How did the networks immediately find all these 9/11 relatives who were upset about ads that just started running yesterday? What do you bet that there were e-mails sent out to the news shows making available selected victim's relatives to complain about Bush? Here's Poliblog.
I would argue that if any complaints come from the Kerry camp/McAuliffe, then the reason will not be because of indignation over the use of 911 for political reasons, but it will be because the Kerry camp understands that 911 is a point of vulnerability for their campaign. The last thing they want is for voters to think of Bush as they thought of him in the last several months of 2001.

Also, Michael Medved raised an interesting point: how did the press find, so quickly, outraged families of 911 victims within approximately 24-48 hours of the commercials airing, and why does that rate as the top story on the newswires (as I type it is the main story at the Yahoo News politics section, via the AP and is also a top story at Reuters)? It seems unlikely that there was sufficient outrage generated in that brief a time for the AP and Reuters to discover the story without looking for it. Rather, it seems fairly obvious that some reporters sought out victims' families to interview and ran with those who are outraged.

Given the large number of people who have to constitute "victims' families" (with over 3000 dead, there have to be over ten thousand who could fall in that category), it would certainly be possible to run any of the following stories:

"Victims' Families Outraged by Bush Ads"

"Victims' Families Hail Bush Ads"

"Victims' Families Ambivalent on Bush Ads"

"Victims' Families Don't Care About Politics"

Really, the concept that there is a monolithic group called Victims' Families is ludicrious.

Andrew Sullivan reports on a new meme, "micro-aggression."
John Hawkins has done some research on the people being quoted as being upset by Bush's ads and found that many of them are people already on the record as being anti-Bush. I watched one such woman being interviewed by Chris Matthews and he asked her whom she voted for in 2000. She claimed not to remember. Come on!

Kudos to John Hawkins for doing some elementary research.

This is such a phony issue. The images are quite brief. September 11 is the defining moment of Bush's presidency. Of course, it is a legitimate issue in this election to look at how he responded and how a President Kerry might respond. Kerry has been running pictures from his service in the Vietnam War. He ran an ad in the primaries touting his work on security pre-9/11. Did all these people get upset about when all the network channels had logos showing 9/11?

Please understand what all this manufactured hysteria is about. It is a preemptive attempt to forestall Bush from using 9/11 as a rationale for supporting his campaign.

Jonah Goldberg agrees with me.
I'm sorry, but while I have a great deal of sympathy for the families of 9/11 victims, I think these complaints are nonsense squared. A lot more people died during Vietnam than on 9/11 and John Kerry has been running ads with footage from there for months. These families may have a unique relationship to 9/11 but they do not have ownership of that day, politically, culturally or otherwise and it would be absurd if this administration caved on this point, even though I'm sure the media will be delighted to exploit the personal tragedies of these families.

Citizen Smash has more on the groups that are complaining about the ads.

The GOP is going to be using Rudy Guiliani to refute these accusations.

Meanwhile, as all the cable shows hyperventilate about this, Bush gets millions of dollars of free publicity of his ads. I wonder if this will actually backfire because more and more people will see these ads and think about Bush in connection with 9/11 and remember his leadership.
Well, you save and save to send your child to college and get her started on her adult life. And she can make you proud by participating in a record-setting event.

Thursday, March 04, 2004

Lileks is proven correct. He asked "Guess Which Candidate Our Enemies Want to Lose in 2004?"
Let's just be blunt: The North Koreans would love to see John Kerry win the election. The mullahs of Iran would love it. The Syrian Ba'athists would sigh with relief. Every enemy of America would take great satisfaction if the electorate rejects the Bush doctrine and scuttles back to hide under the U.N. Security Council's table. It's a hard question, but the right one: Which candidate does our enemy want to lose? George W. Bush.

And today, the Seattle Times reports
The regime in Pyongyang, analysts say, is rooting for virtually anyone other than George W. Bush to be the next U.S. president. That's why many observers are expecting little progress at the six-party talks aimed at halting North Korea's nuclear program that started yesterday in Beijing.

"North Korea is waiting for its own regime change — in D.C.," said Pang Zhongying, professor of international relations at China's Nankai University.
Orrin Hatch has an alternative amendment on marriage that seems preferable to the one that Bush endorsed.
Here's a handy guide to some of Kerry's flip-flopping on domestic issues.
MSNBC looks at the electoral map for November and some interesting possibilities of how Kerry could win while still losing the entire South or how Bush could win while losing Ohio. Another possibility is that they could tie.
Hugh Hewitt says that there are indeed two Americas: the serious America and the silly America.
SO WE ARE LAUNCHED into a showdown between serious America and absurd America. John Kerry, again from Tuesday evening, stated bluntly that George W. Bush heads the "most inept, reckless, and ideological foreign policy in the history of this country." No matter how one evaluates recent events in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya--and they look pretty good to me--they cannot seriously be compared negatively with losing a war in Vietnam, watching Iran slide into virulent Islamism, or allowing Osama bin Laden to nest and metastasize in Kabul and its precincts. Still, millions of Americans will believe Kerry's outlandish excess not because of evidence that he has presented, but because they want to.

Justice Brennan's apers have been opened up to the public and they show that, in 1992, Justice Kennedy switched his vote to preserve Roe v. Wade.
Lileks asks whom our enemies want to win the election in November.
The Pak Tribune, in as story about US efforts to find Osama Bin Laden, use a gag picture of Osama working in a 7-11.

James Taranto has the link to the original satire site.
Antibiotics for ear infections may be a thing of the past.
Apparently, chess is a racist game since White always gets to go first. One man wants to change that.
This abstractly implies that white has a distinct advantage over black because black has to always take a defensive stand. Some see this as a continuing form of racism and want to change the rules of the game. Bill Ware, a devoted chess player, is one of these people and has come up with a new form of chess.

"By saying that white automatically is offensive, it states that white is better than black," Ware said.

His idea is to remove color superiority in chess by focusing the game on variables. He calls his new way of chess "Algebra Chess" paralleling it to The Algebra Project by Robert Moses.

James Taranto has noted some other hate language involved with chess.
This is a good opening move, but it's not nearly enough. Chess is not only racist but sexist, classist and homophobic. How come you can sacrifice your queen, but if you lose your king, the game is over? Why is there an underclass of "pawns"? Oh sure, they're promised they can be upwardly mobile if they only play by the rules, but how often does a pawn actually become a queen? And why are rooks only allowed to move straight? The time has come to demand equality for all chess-Americans and free the game from its checkered history!

David Broder hands out Oscars for the Democratic primaries.
The Washington Tmes looks at Manuel Miranda and his efforts to fight back after losing his job as an aide for the GOP on the Senate Judiciary Committee.
George Will excoriates politicians for not having the honesty to confront seriously the looming crisis in Social Security.
Robert Novak says that Republicans on the Hill are irritated with the President's election campaign. They think that he has been blindsiding them on several issues. Novak says that there is even some talk that it would be better for the GOP in their control of Congress to have Kerry win.
Debra Saunders looks at John Kerry's squirming about how he voted for the war in Iraq but didn't expect us to actually go to war.
It's an odd campaign gimmick, but Sen. John F. Kerry, D-Mass., often tells voters that he was "misled" and that's why he voted for an October 2002 resolution authorizing military force against Iraq.

Kerry says he believed the resolution tied President Bush to promises to build an international coalition, to work with the United Nations and to only go to war as a last resort. A disappointed Kerry now says Bush failed in all three venues.

Kerry's story only works if you don't know that the resolution didn't bind Bush as Kerry said.

And a month before Kerry's "yes" vote, Bush went to the United Nations and said the following: "Saddam Hussein has defied the United Nations 16 times. Not once, not twice -- 16 times he has defied the U.N. The U.N. has told him after the (Persian) Gulf War what to do, what the world expected, and 16 times he's defied it. And enough is enough. The U.N. will either be able to function as a peacekeeping body as we head into the 21st century, or it will be irrelevant. And that's what we're about to find out."

When Kerry met with the editorial board of the San Francisco Chronicle on Friday, I had the chance to ask the senator how he could have expected Bush to behave differently in light of what Bush had said.

Kerry's answer reminds me of the angry customer in the Federal Express ad who, clad only in a towel and a loofah mitt, calls a company to complain that FedEx delivered his package as scheduled, which he should not have expected, and by the way, it inconveniently interrupted a "complicated exfoliation."

Kerry's answer was that Washington insiders believed that Bush didn't mean what he said. "I think that you had a hard-line group (then Pentagon adviser) Richard Perle, (Deputy Defense Secretary) Paul Wolfowitz and probably (Vice President Dick) Cheney. But when Brent Scowcroft and Jim Baker (former advisers to the first President Bush) weighed in, very publicly in op-eds in The New York Times and the (Washington) Post, the chatter around Washington and (Secretary of State Colin) Powell in particular, who was very much of a different school of thought, was really that the president hadn't made up his mind. He was looking for an out. That's what a lot of people thought."

What about what Bush said to the United Nations? That was "rhetorical," Kerry answered. And "a whole bunch of very smart legitimate people" not running for president thought as he did. "So most people, actually on the inside, really felt that (Bush) himself was looking for the way out to sort of satisfy Cheney, satisfy Wolfowitz, but not get stuck," Kerry continued. "The fact that he jumped and went the other way, I think, shocked them and shocked us."

So Kerry was "misled" because he believed that Bush didn't mean what Bush said.

Talk about your dirty tricks.

Larry Elder marvels at how being called a "liberal" is seen as an insult by John Kerry. I like his defnese for being called a liberal is that he missed almost half the votes last year so he can't be classified by his votes.
This is a good move for the Education Department. They're relaxing restrictions on single-sex classes and schools.
People are squealing about Bush using images from September 11 in his ad. But, isn't that the defining moment of his presidency? How can he avoid it? Don't you think that the Democrats have had this complaint in the can for a long time ready to release it at the first hint of the President referring to 9/11.
Peggy Noonan muses on John Kerry and his weird obsession with the first JFK. SHe also points out how Kerry started attacking Bush first.
When he speaks, both in prepared text and off the cuff, Mr. Kerry is boring. I don't mean he doesn't make you laugh, nod or swoon, I mean he doesn't make you think. A speech should be a text in which, ultimately, the speaker and the audience are thinking, together. Mr. Kerry's crowds seem to put up with his remarks and wait patiently till they end so they can begin to cheer.

That Mr. Kerry is a boring man means the election will be dirty and vicious. If he were interesting and dynamic and sunny, if he seemed both experienced and sincere, he arguably could win the upcoming race without letting his campaign get unduly nasty. But he is a charm-free zone on the stump, and he has offered no galvanizing political philosophy or higher meaning. His people will feel the only way he can win is to be uniquely destructive.

How do we know that is coming? It has already begun. First the sustained attack on the president's National Guard service. It is early for such attacks. Second, the indiscreet threat by an unnamed Kerry adviser as reported weeks ago in the New York Times: "Everything--everything--is on the table." He, or she, has since been silenced. But the point was made. And there is the repeated insistence of those around Mr. Kerry that they're just not going to take it the way Michael Dukakis did; they'll fight when they're attacked. In this they are peddling a story line to the press: Democrats are unfairly attacked and have been too polite, too gentle, too liberal to fight back.

Will this work? I haven't experienced liberals as too gentle to fight, and I don't think anyone who pays attention to political and cultural issues has. I have a feeling voters will experience this tack the way a mother might experience two kids fighting in the back of the car. Johnny screams, "Timmy hit me!" Timmy, who in fact nudged Johnny after Johnny called him stupid, says, "I did not!" Mother admonishes Timmy: "Leave Johnny alone." Johnny waits till she turns to smile at Timmy triumphantly and pinch him. Timmy smacks him. "Mommy, Timmy hit me!"

Mothers in this position wind up irritated with both children, but know in their hearts Johnny is going through a stage in which he's a weenie, and a whiner too.

Did these guys all get together and agree that the story today is how Kerry has been attacking Bush. Do you think a GOP e-mail went out to sympathetic columnists? Nah, I'm just conspiracy-minded. It's a pretty obvious point that Kerry has been viciously attacking Bush for a year.
Morton Kondracke points out who the really nasty campaigners have been this year.
It's conventional wisdom now that this may be one of the nastiest presidential campaigns ever. But those keeping score should observe that, right now, the muddy epithets thrown at President Bush outweigh those thrown at Democrats by tons.

That's not the way things are being reported, though. The media seem to be uncritically accepting the Democratic charge that any criticism of Sen. John Kerry's, D-Mass., public record is "sliming" or "smearing."

But for months now, Democrats have accused Bush of being a "liar" who "misled" or "deceived" the nation into the Iraq war; a "usurper" who "stole" the 2000 election in Florida; "a right-wing extremist" on tax, social and foreign policy; and a "menace to the nation's basic liberties," owing to his employment of Attorney General John Ashcroft.

Former Vice President Al Gore said Bush had "betrayed" the country in Iraq. No major Democrat said afterward that Gore had gone too far.

Democrats claim that Republicans either have questioned or will question their patriotism in this campaign, but actually the only accusations of lacking patriotism have come from Democrats.

I guess the media figures that if they call Bush nasty and imply that the nastiness is even-handed, no one will remember that the Democrats just spent a year bashing the President.

The Washington Times catalogues some of the low attacks that Kerry has been making against Bush. So, next time you hear about how vicious the GOP's attacks on Kerry are.

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

James Taranto has a farewell haiku for John Edwards.
Bye-ku for John Edwards
Two Americas:
One prefers President Bush;
One likes John Kerry

Mark Steyn makes a good point about The Passion and the wild accusations that people will start killing or attacking Jews because of it. As Steyn points out, the religious Christians flocking to the theaters are not violent people. That's part of a trope that elites who hate the red states use to demonize those who are religious. As Steyn points out, the real violence directed at Jews today comes from elsewhere, not the Bible Belt.
Mel Gibson's movie won't kill anyone.

On the other hand, right now, at The Hague, the International Court of Justice is holding a show trial of Israel's security fence. At the very least, a European court sitting in judgment on the Jewish state is a staggering lapse of taste.

But it should also remind Jews of the current sources of "the world's oldest hatred" – not just the Islamic world, where talk of killing them all is part of the wallpaper, but modern-day secular Europe, where antipathy toward Ariel Sharon long ago crossed over into a broader contempt for the Jewish state and a benign indifference to those who use European Jewry as a substitute target.

If Jewish groups think Mel Gibson and evangelical Christians are the problem, more fool them.
Wow! Catch this story.
A Michigan school district told a teacher activated for military duty that he must cover the cost of a substitute during part of his absence and give the district some of his military pay.

At a school board meeting this week, angry teachers, students and district residents criticized the decision by administrators at Kenowa Hills Public Schools.

'Is this how you treat people that defend your country?' Tom Lovett, a teacher's spouse and district resident, asked board members.

Barry Bernhardt, a middle school science teacher and a National Guard reservist for at least a decade, started serving two weeks of active duty in Italy on Monday, the day of the school board meeting.

During the 10 days Bernhardt will be gone from the classroom, he will use two personal days and two compensation days during his time off.

For the remaining six days, Bernhardt must pay the district $74 per day for the substitute teacher filling in for him and turn over the $78 in salary that he will receive each day from the National Guard, The Grand Rapids Press reported.
I thought it was illegal to treat a member of the National Guard that way. I guess not. I know a teacher who served several months in Iraq last year in the Spring, 2003 semester. Before he left he taught an AP level course. When he returned, he was assigned the lower-level class. He is challenging this assignment because he said that there should be no demotion for a National Guard employee. I wish him and Mr. Bernhardt the best of luck.
This is a blow for the GOP in the Senate. Ben Nighthorse Campbell will not seek reelection. They have to hope that Governor Owens will decide to run, but I think that would make a mistake for him personally if he has higher ambitions. Better to be a governor than a senator.
Stephen Gillers argues that there is nothing in the Constitution to prevent Bill Clinton being a VP running mate for Kerry. Eugene Volokh brings up the problem of the 12th Amendment.
More people are weighing in on my original jurisdiction question to Eugene Volokh. Volokh has posted his thoughts on the question. This is very exciting for my students and me. They are quite impressed with themselves for stumping the law professors. I like the answers that quasi-in-rem came up with.
But here are the other suggested possibilities to determine the winner of the suit, when the court returns an evenly split verdict;

1. Feats of strength.
2. Total combined weight of all attorneys on the case.
3. Crazy scavenger hunt across the country where parties have to produce, among other things, a legal brief filed in Orange County including the words "That's how we do it in the O.C., bitch," and a copy of Slouching towards Gomorrah signed by Ted Kennedy and Barney Frank.
4. Each party presents a competitive shrubbery or two, with one only slightly higher than the other, so there is a nice two-level effect with a little path running down the middle. Nothing too expensive, of course.
5. Shortest brief.
6. Spelling bee.
7. Jenga!
8. In the case of a four/four Justice split each group of justices competes in a dance off to be judged by a group of 6 Hollywood's greatest C-level celebrities. If that contest also ends in a tie,then then each side picks one Justice to re-enact the final dance sequence from Flashdance.
9. Rock Paper Scissors, best of 5.
10. The Pentavaret (the secret society which secretly run the world and consists of the Vatican, the Queen, the Getty's, the Rothschilds and Colonel Saunders before he went tits up) steps in and declares a winner.
Eugene Volokh does say nothing is more interesting than discussing this original jurisdiction question. In a post on the O.C., he says "Though it doesn't, of course, beat discussing Supreme Court original jurisdiction cases in which the Justices end up equally divided. Nothing beats that."

Welcome to the S.C., b****.
Free Republic is having a caption contest on a dorky picture of Kerry. (Link via Hugh Hewitt)
From Dick Morris' pen to God's ears.
But by nominating Kerry, the Democratic Party has chosen to embrace its left wing, eschewing the lessons it so dearly learned in 1980, 1984 and 1988. By marching to the beat of its activist minority, the party has once again put itself outside of the pale of mainstream thinking.

When John Kerry joined the extreme left in voting against the first Gulf War in 1991 or in opposing the Defense of Marriage Act - a bill backed by all but 14 ultraliberal senators and signed by President Clinton - he showed himself to be out of step with the center where most voters live.

George Bush's inability to appeal to voters on issues other than the War on Terror opened a door for the Democrats, but John Kerry will have difficulty fitting through it.

The lieutenant governor of Mike Dukakis will not wear well before the American people. His votes on taxes, terrorism and the death penalty will demonstrate that he is another in a long line of Massachusetts liberals who appear at first blush to be winners but who soon fade into also-rans.

Kerry has missed more than a third of the votes in the Senate during the current 108th Congress. This year, he has missed almost all of them. Voters will not be tolerant of a man who picks up his paycheck and doesn't do the job.

Bush is doing exactly the right thing in pouncing on Kerry the moment the polls close on Super Tuesday with negative ads that define him as the extreme liberal he is. Already, according to pollster Scott Rasmussen, 51 percent of voters feel that their taxes will go up if Kerry wins.

In the coming weeks, Bush will hammer at Kerry until we look back and wonder why we ever thought the Massachusetts senator could have won in the first place.

By then, of course, it will be too late. The nominating process is so frontloaded that the Democrats will be stuck with the flawed Kerry candidacy for months as he slowly twists in the wind.
Play along with Jim Geraghty. Who said it? Kerry or Buchanan? I don't know if this says more about Kerry or Buchanan.
Here's a hilarious parody of the Democratic debate.
DAN RATHER: Welcome to the 27th Democratic Debate of the 2004 primary season. With us this morning are Senator John Kerry and Senator John Edwards -- and two other people we're just going to ignore. Senator Kerry, let me start with you. The National Journal just released a report calling you the most liberal Senator in the Senate. Senator Kerry, would you call yourself a Senator?

SEN. KERRY: I don't think the American people want this campaign to be about labels, Dan.

DAN RATHER: So you would not call yourself a Senator?

SEN. KERRY: I would call myself a fighter for the American people, but, no, I'm not going to make this campaign about political labels.

DAN RATHER: Senator Edwards, is Senator Kerry a Senator?

SEN. EDWARDS: I believe he is, Dan. And I believe he's been one for a long time, in Washington. Washington is an evil place, Dan. And Senator Kerry has been a Senator there for a long time. In Washington. Ooooh.

DAN RATHER: Now, Senator Edwards---

SEN. KERRY: Excuse me. Let me step in and defend myself here, Dan. I've just been attacked. Senator Edwards has pulled out a baseball bat and is currently attacking me. I need to defend myself. I may be from Washington, and I may have $400 million in the bank, but I refuse to be called a Senator. That's not the kind of name-calling the American people want.

REP. KUCINICH: I'd like to get a few words in here, if I may.

DAN RATHER: No, you may not.

Read the rest. (Link via OTB)
Richard Garnett has a powerful discussion of the case recently decided in the California Supreme Court requiring a Catholic charity to give its employees birth control coverage even though the charity claims that this requirement violates their Free Exercise rights. This case should end up at the US Supreme Court eventually since it seems to raise some troubling issues.
A supporter of Kerry, or at least an opponent of the President, says that Kerry needs to prove that he is about more than ambition.
he goes on to win the White House, he will have the grandest of stages to prove, finally, that he can fight for causes other than himself. As a presidential candidate he is promising to do just that. But for much of his political career he did not show much willingness to fight for anyone but John Kerry. The key exception is his dedication to the Vietnam veterans he calls his band of brothers.

That is not Kerry-bashing. That is stating truth about a smart, worldly, and ambitious politician who throughout his life focused his energies on getting right where he is today: an election day away from winning the presidency of the United States. But a lot can and will happen between now and then.

....Looking as if you can handle an issue, however, is different from clearly articulating where you stand on it. Democrats are setting up a race between a president on the wrong side of the issues against a challenger on both sides of many issues. The muddy middle worked for Bill Clinton because he waded through it with a grin. Kerry is growing as a candidate, but charming equivocation remains a campaign challenge.

Kerry's ties to Massachusetts and his years in Washington are baggage in a national campaign. However, the bigger risk lies in Republicans' ability to exploit Kerry's votes for policies he now criticizes.

The debate is almost guaranteed to bring Americans back to Sept. 11 -- first to the fear and the death, then to the blows to the American psyche and economy. Dealt the card of a horrific act of terrorism on American soil, Bush made decisions and took actions that are now questioned by many.

Kerry endorsed those decisions with his votes in the Senate, from the USA Patriot Act to war with Iraq. If enough Americans changed their minds along with him and keep them changed, that voting record will not matter. If enough Americans conclude that Bush did the best he could with the cards he was dealt -- why gamble on a second-guesser?



Cool. Eugene Volokh is blegging about the question that one of my students had regarding what to do in case of a tie vote on a case the Supreme Court takes up through original jurisdiction.

Inclined to Criticize thinks that, in such a case, the decision would be in favor of the defendant.
John Ellis says that it is time for the buyers' remorse on Kerry to set in. Cross your fingers.
Next, let's visit the issue of Kerry the brand. No one knows anything about him, other than the fact that he served in Vietnam and represents Massachusetts in the US Senate. His economic plan has already been dismissed by The Washington Post as a fiscal joke. His various stances on the War on Terror are impossible to fathom. He has no coherent views on cultural issues. In other words, he's an empty net. Look for the Bush campaign to start working on its slapshot.

Finally, let's visit the issue of Kerry the pol. He's the unhappy warrior. And he has very few friends outside of the "band of brothers." The Bush network was and is vast. The Clinton network was vast. The Reagan network was vast. The Nixon network was vast. The Kerry network is astonishingly slight. When things go bad, as they do, you need friends in politics. As Kaus pointed out in his ode to buyer's remorse, Kerry has the fewest friends of any national politician since Carter.

The glue that holds the Kerry campaign together is negative -- "regime change" as Kerry himself puts it. It is a collection of complaints and resentments. Kerry's contempt for President Bush isn't feigned or strategic. It's complete. That works in Boston and New York and Los Angeles. It works with the megaphone media. Whether or not it will work in Ohio and Florida and Tennessee and West Virginia and Iowa and Michigan and Wisconsin is doubtful at best.
Ellis also points out that turnout has been down since 1988 which contradicts the commonly expressed idea that voters are so angry that it is driving them to the polls.
Bye, bye super-size fries. That will solve the obesity problem.
Mickey Kaus talks about how meaningless exit polls can be. Great points. I often find that survey questions don't ask the questions that elicit what I want to say about a subject.
Tim Russert's Exit Poll Garbage: How many times last night did NBC's Tim Russert reveal, with punditary flourish, that

Looking at the exit polls from Tuesday, 24 percent of the people who voted in Iowa are independents. They decided to vote in the Democratic primary. And of those independents, 78 percent said they are angry or dissatisfied with George W. Bush. That's a big deal.

I think he means "Ohio," not "Iowa," but never mind. Isn't this statistic not a "big deal" but in fact relatively meaningless? You'd expect those independents who had "decided to vote in the Democratic primary" to be relatively dissatisfied with Bush, no? It's a self-selected group. To figure out if the number means anything significant you'd need to also know how many independents didn't decide to vote in the Democratic primary, and what they thought about Bush. ... Russert's precious nugget had all the earmarks of the pre-packaged exit poll story line. The exit poll designers clearly know the story they want before they take the poll--in this case, they want 'POLARIZED COUNTRY ANGRY AT BUSH.' They ask a question about anger and whatever group or sub-group turns up high on the anger scale--well, that's the story, whether it makes any sense or not. ...

P.S.: 'POLARIZED COUNTRY' is one of those Neutral Story Lines that gives analysts something to say that sounds intelligent without favoring one candidate or the other--the way, say, "Kerry's victory speech was deadly" would. ...

P.P.S.: I answered the L.A. Times exit poll after I voted. The categories that sounded so precise and informative on the news turned out to make no sense as a way to measure my own sentiments. Did I vote for Edwards because he "cares about people like me"? Well, no! I don't know if Edwards cares about anyone, actually, and if he does care about the people he says he cares about they are not people like me (or the other affluent, steadily-employed yuppies who form his actual base of support). True, I did vote for Edwards in part because I thought that other people think he cares about people like them. ... Did I vote on "jobs" or "Iraq"? That one was hard to answer too. I voted because I guessed Edwards could be an effective president tackling issues in the future that we don't know about and hence don't talk about and can't put on pre-packaged exit polls! Unfortunately that wasn't a choice they offered. ... And if I had checked "jobs" or "trade," it seems just as likely that I'd have checked those boxes because a) I like Edwards (and "jobs" and "trade" are what he talks about) as that b) I care about jobs and trade and decided that Edwards was the man addressing those concerns. Yet the networks puffing their exit polls (Bill Schneider, this means you) invariably present the causal route as (b)--from issue to candidate--rather than (a)--from candidate to issue. ... Applying Kaus' First Rule of Journalism ("Always Generalize Wildly from Your Own Experience Because You're Not That Special") I conclude that exit polls are at least half garbage.
Apparently, William Saletan didn't read Kaus' column since Saletan has all sorts of analysis of the exit polls.
A Vietnam War Vet writes a letter to Mr. Kerry.
Jonah Goldberg points out the hypocrisy of liberals who love the idea of a "Living Constitution" (Monday's class discussion topic) but oppose the idea of a new amendment on marriage.
Not only are the "living" constitutionalists fickle about their love for the American charter, they're deeply skeptical about democracy itself. Why is it OK for unaccountable, unelected judges to willy-nilly say the Constitution says 2 plus 2 equals 5, but it's somehow tyrannical for the House, the Senate and 50 states to debate an amendment with wall-to-wall media coverage? Why are big-D Democrats so terrified of small-d democracy?

Kathleen Parker is full of derision for Naomi Wolf for relying on victimhood instead of demonstrating that women are strong enough to recover from a clumsy pass from a professor 20 years previously.
The Supreme Court heard the case, Ashcroft v. ACLU yesterday. This is the case which looks at whether or not Congress can regulate obscenity on the Internet. I love it when the news so closely parallels my curriculum for my AP Government class. Just yesterday we were talking about what options Congress has if they dislike the Supreme Court's decision on a case and I was using the Child Online Protection Act as an example of Congress trying to rewrite a law to be in line with the Supreme Court's objections. The kids take their test today. And next up is the First Amendment so this will fit nicely with freedom of speech. Thank you, Supreme Court.
The rules on media interviews are so silly. Bush gave an interview to network correspondents yesterday that was on "deep background" yet it has all leaked out already to the press.
Here's more on the story of the woman who recognized her daughter who had been kidnapped when she was 10 days old.
Jeff Jacoby says that John Kerry will not wear well.
Just as they did four years ago with Al Gore, in 1988 with Michael Dukakis, in 1984 with Walter Mondale, and in 1980 with Jimmy Carter, the Democrats are poised to nominate a tedious blister as their standard bearer. In the months ahead, the voters will be harangued and hectored by Kerry, who will lecture them about how Bush has been the worst president in modern times, the Bush economy the most desperate, the Bush foreign policy the most reckless.

As spring and summer give way to fall, it will gradually dawn on many of them that Kerry isn't actually saying anything. What was true of the first President Bush, they will discover, is true of Kerry: He has no "vision thing." He has a sonorous answer to every question, but the more he talks -- and he talks a lot; his default setting is "filibuster" -- the less voters will be able to put their finger on why he wants to be president or whether anything about him is more than an inch deep.

By the way, has anyone else noticed that Kerry's hair has been getting less gray in the past few weeks?
Zev Chafets coins a great phrase - Victims Internationale - for those who make excuses for why Haiti is such a hellhole.
It was entirely predictable that deposed Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide would claim that he was overthrown and kidnapped by the United States.
It is equally predictable that some Americans like Reps. Charles Rangel (D-Manhattan) and Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) deem Aristide a victim. They belong to the Victim Internationale, for whom problems in the Third World are always someone else's fault.

Haiti has been independent for 200 years. It is the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere. It has no infrastructure, no democratic institutions, no decent government. Right now, only U.S. Marines separate it from total chaos.

But Haiti is a land rich in excuses. It is the victim of French colonialism, or racism, of capital exploitation and/or American imperialism. Faced with such implacable, uncontrollable external enemies, President Aristide never had a chance. Neither does Haiti.

Bush called Kerry last night to congratulate him. Nice move. Sort of a handshake before the fight. And he makes sure that people talk about him today. And the contrast will be between Kerry's speeches against him and the President's classy move.

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Who is more difficult to raise: boys or girls? Guess what? It depends on the kid. They present different kinds of problems. Duh.

As the mother of two girls and as a teacher who has sat in on many more parent conferences concerning boys, I will vote for girls being easier. But then, what do I know?
Here's a fresh idea for campaign ads. Mitch Daniels will run a "reality show" based on his campaign for Indiana governor. I predict that this will be a big hit in letting poeple get to know him and, presumably, like him.
Michael Ledeen says that Iranians are demonstrating in the streets of Iran because they think that their leaders are behind today's bloody attacks in Iraq. If Iranians truly believe that about the mullah dictators, than I think that rebellion will soon follow.
Monday night, following the gruesome massacres in Najaf and Baghdad at Shiite holy places, Iranians took to the streets all over the country: Tehran, Isfahan, and Shiraz above all. The demonstrations had a double-pronged message. First, that the people care more about freedom than about the celebration of Ashoura, the grave day of mourning for the murder of Hossein, the grandson of Mohammed, and dozens of his followers. And second, to accuse the regime of having orchestrated the slaughter in Najaf and Baghdad. The first reports even suggest that some of the security forces were fighting on the side of the demonstrators, although such reports are often wrong.

We and our policymakers should listen to these brave Iranian demonstrators, for they know more about their tyrants than our own experts. They know that the mullahs have organized massacres in the past in order to advance their own interests. This happened in the runup to the Revolution, when a movie theater was set on fire and then blamed on the shah's secret service, and then again a few years ago when a Shiite shrine was bombed and then blamed on opponents of the regime. So the idea that a Shiite regime would resort to the mass murder of other Shiites is not at all preposterous to the people of Iran, and we should take it seriously. As we know from recent intelligence in Iraq (and as some of us knew two years ago), the jihadists — enthusiastically supported by the mullahs-are desperate to drive us out of Iraq, and will resort to anything that demonstrates American weakness, and that fosters civil war within the country.

The Iranians know their oppressors. If only our own leaders would listen.
Dick Morris explains how the gay rights amendment helps Bush, not by being likely to pass, but by highlighting Kerry's equivocation.
While top-heavy majorities have always favored amendments banning school busing, requiring balanced budgets and allowing school prayer, those issues have never won the GOP any votes they did not already have. Voters are notoriously reluctant to amend the constitution.

But Bush’s argument that activist courts are forcing his hand by reading rights into the Constitution that have eluded our scrutiny for two centuries turns the tables on this hesitation and puts him in the position of defending the Constitution by amending it. With each indication of the power of courts and city halls to take matters into their own hands, his case will grow stronger.

Sen. John Kerry will lose a lot of votes over the issue. But he will likely lose even more from his handling of it. As he tries to thread his way between his gay supporters and donors and the majority of the voters on this issue, he will come across as looking very weak and very political. His layered position — opposing the amendment, backing civil unions, opposing gay marriage and voting against the Defense of Marriage Act that President Clinton signed — will seem disingenuous to voters on both sides of the issue.

What will begin as a values issue will end up as a character test for the Massachusetts Democrat as he squirms around to find a politically safe position.

Because the issue is starkly moralistic, like abortion, voters will be unforgiving of a candidate who is all over the map in his positions on it. Kerry will seem like the quintessential political weather-vane candidate as he trims his views to suit the polls.

By contrast, Bush will come across as simple and straightforward as he fights for his amendment. Of course, the amendment won’t pass. Senate Democrats will not be caught voting against the position of their presidential nominee right before an election. But the on-the-record votes senators such as Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) will have to cast will likely come back to bite them in the November elections.
A Commissioner on the US Commission on Civil Rights makes an interesting contrast between how the media trashed Mel Gibson's movie and fawned over the Da Vinci Code. It's an telling contrast and one that hadn't occurred to me. I guess I'm one of the few people that hasn't read the Da Vinci Code and has no interest in doing so.
Brendan Miniter says that, thanks to Mel Gibson, Hollywood may once again do religious-themed movies.
Here's my funny student anecdote for the year. By and large, I have very intelligent and dedicated students. However, there are some kids who, while eager and sweet, are essentially clueless.

We were discussing the Spanish-American War and the Treaty of Paris which ended it. Hearing the name of the treaty elicited groans from my students because this is the third Treaty of Paris we've covered this year. I took a momemt to review the other two. I asked them which war the 1763 Treaty of Paris ended, and eventually they dredged up from their memories that it ended the French and Indian War. So, then I asked them which war the 1783 Treaty of Paris ended. They were blank. After a few random guesses, one eager boy guessed that the 1783 Treaty ended the.....War of 1812!

Oy vey!
Following the success of Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings, Disney is going to do a new Narnia movie. Shhh. Don't tell Hollywood about all the Christian symbolism in the Narnia books.
It sounds like the FEC is going to take some steps against 527's. (Link via Polipundit)
Captain's Quarters explains why he opposes John Kerry.
His sudden aspiration for the Presidency hasn't brought out any coherent philosophy of governing, either, except to continually state over and over that he would be the Anti-Bush. For example, he's continually carped over and over that Bush "lied" to him when Kerry voted for military action in Iraq, and derided Bush's attempts to gather UN support for an ultimatum to Saddam Hussein (which he spent five months negotiating before finally giving up on France and Russia). However, as soon as Haiti popped up, Kerry derides Bush for taking five days to get a UN resolution creating the multinational force that Kerry insisted Bush should have waited for in Iraq!

(Link via Viking Pundit)
It's good news that former Rep. Tom Coburn is entering the race to replace Don Nickles in Oklahoma.
An aide to Sen. Grassley who was helping out with the Senate Judiciary Committee has come forward with information saying that anyone could access each party's files on the computers. This exonerates Manuel Miranda, the former Frist aide who has been accused of doing something illegal by doing what was possible on the computer. It's the Democrats fault for not putting in simple firewall provisions between the two parties' files on the computer. They were the party who controlled the Senate during this period, remember.
It's bad enough for Aristide that his exile has to be in the Central African Republic. But now he's offending his hosts by lying about how he was removed from power.
The Boston Herald (You ever notice how some of the most negative stories on Kerry come from the Boston papers?) looks at some of the votes that Kerry has missed since he started campaigning. In two cases, the Democrats lost the vote by one vote and Kerry's vote could have made the difference. Instead, he was campaiging in Iowa by taking the media along to watch him pheasant hunting to prove he was a real man.