Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Actually watched it = reaction

I actually watched the speeches in primetime convention coverage tonight, primarily because I wanted to see what Schwarzenegger would say. And the California governor did not disappoint. He delivered an excellent speech that stressed security and the immigrant-in-America success story, reminded us of the ideal of America that registers in the minds of those who wish to come here, and showed why it is important to keep President Bush in his current office. Schwarzenegger delivered a speech with heart and humor as a professional, and much better than most other politicians could ever hope to do.

But so much for keeping up momentum. The Bush twins are cute but . . . not erudite. They tried to keep it light, but I'm only 34 and I whiffed on a couple of the pop culture references (the Monkette2B didn't -- she knows what the "young people" are into). Nonetheless, Barbara the Younger is niiiiiiiiiiice.

Thereafter, Mrs. Bush after a nice intro from her husband -- a husband's intro, not a presidential one, and that was the proper note to strike. She did ok -- dignified, reserved and pleasant all at once -- although alot of it was fairly bland. After Schwarzenegger, any other speaker would have had a hard act to follow. Nonetheless, the First Lady (or prospective First Lady) should not make headlines, and Mrs. Bush did not.


What's 8791? It's 1978 backwards. And that's what this season is turning into for the Yankees.

In '78 the Yanks came from 14.5 back and beat the RedSax for the AL East. In '04, the RedStiffs have gained 7 games on the Yanks in 15 days and are now only 3.5 out. Javy Vazquez is awful; Mooooooosina is poor, Brown is iffy, El Duque and Lieber are acceptable. Compare that to Pedro (v. good), Schilling (near excellent), Wakefield (solid), Lowe (coming around) and Arroyo (the best sub-.500 pitcher in the AL).

I said yesterday it's 50-50 that the Yanks won't be in first place by Sept. 13. The Yanks may not be in first place when the NFL season starts on Sept. 9. What a colossal failure in the making and topped off tonight by their worst loss ever.

John Kerry = Jimmy Carter II

As I've said before here, John Kerry is a warmed over Jimmy Carter and the Manchurian Candidate of the peace-at-all-costs Left.

For those of you who need further proof, read how Kedwards would negotiate with Iran over its nuclear capabilities, despite its clear statements that it intends to obtain nuclear weapons, and how Kedwards would "ensure" the participation of the Europeans despite their COMPLETE FAILURE to "negotiate" with the mullahs. Read also how these fine multilateralists would chase China, Russia, So. Korea and Japan from the bargaining table with North Korea and capitulate to the No. Kor. demands for bilateral negotiations. Click the link in the title for Jonathan Rothenberg's fine analysis.

Nip this garbage in the bud -- defeating terrorism

The Dems are already going loopy with glee because Bush reportedly said the war on terror cannot be won.

Of course, the REAL STORY is different from the Democratic spin. Instead, Bush said a war on terror may not be won -- a fair point if you define winning as either obtaining surrender of terrorists or complete eradication of terrorism, but a bit too stark for an election campaign.

The fact is Bush's comments belie his shorter statement. Why? Because he essentially defines how terrorism can be defeated: by finding terrorists and rooting them out and by CREATING DEMOCRACY -- a condition that makes terrorism unacceptable. That defeat doesn't mean terrorism will be completely eradicated (Nazism and communism have not been either).

Michelle Malkin (link in title) has the statement and its context.

Giuliani speech (reaction)

The text of Giuliani's speech is linked in the title of this post. It is most notable because Giuliani understands the minds of the terrorists: these are not reasonable and civilized people upon whom sweet reason will have its desired effect. Instead, any action other than stomping out the terrorists themselves is effectively appeasement -- a sign of ultimate weakness and a signal that the appeaser FEARS the appeased. Giuliani traces the historical reaction to terrorism pre-Bush and, in the process, makes the strongest and most cogent argument for the Bush Doctrine since Bush's State of the Union address in 2002:

Terrorism did not start on September 11, 2001. It had been festering for many years.

And the world had created a response to it that allowed it to succeed. The attack on the Israeli team at the Munich Olympics was in 1972. And the pattern had already begun. The three surviving terrorists were arrested and within two months released by the German government.

Action like this became the rule, not the exception. Terrorists came to learn they could attack and often not face consequences.

And after Italy released the terrorists who attacked the Achille Lauro cruise ship, Giuliani noted:

terrorists learned they could intimidate the world community and too often the response, particularly in Europe, was "accommodation, appeasement and compromise."

And worse the terrorists also learned that their cause would be taken more seriously, almost in direct proportion to the barbarity of the attack.

Even more beautiful is Giuliani's complete smackdown of Arafat:

Terrorist acts became a ticket to the international bargaining table.

How else to explain Yasser Arafat winning the Nobel Peace Prize when he was supporting a terrorist plague in the Middle East that undermined any chance of peace?

Giuliani said "was" but Arafat still supports the terrorist plague he created decades ago. And Giuliani also noted the essence of leadership and why John Kerry has no idea of it:

John Kerry has made it the rule to change his position, rather than the exception. In October, 2003, he told an Arab-American Institute in Detroit that a security barrier separating Israel from the Palestinian Territories was a "barrier to peace."

A few months later, he took exactly the opposite position. In an interview with the Jerusalem Post he said, "Israel's security fence is a legitimate act of self defense."

The contrasts are dramatic. They involve very different views of how to deal with terrorism. President Bush will make certain that we are combatting terrorism at the source, beyond our shores, so we can reduce the risk of having to confront it in the streets of New York.

John Kerry's record of inconsistent positions on combatting terrorism gives us no confidence he'll pursue such a determined course.

President Bush will not allow countries that appear to have ignored the lessons of history and failed for over thirty years to stand up to terrorists, to dissuade us from what is necessary for our defense.

He will not let them set our agenda. Under President Bush, America will lead rather than follow.

And that, in a nutshell, is why Kerry must not be elected.

More reactions:

Captain Ed
Outside the Beltway
Right on Red
California Yankee

Rudy Giuliani Rocks

America's mayor nails John Kerry and John Edwards in one fell swoop (Courtesy In The Bullpen (link in title)):

My point about John Kerry being inconsistent is best described in his own words when he said, “I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it.”

Maybe this explains John Edwards’ need for two Americas - - one where John Kerry can vote for something and another where he can vote against the same thing.


Meanwhile, Right On Red dissects Rudy's ability to comprehend the necessity to be strong in the face of terrorism and act BEFORE another attack with Kerry's faux strength claiming that the US would strike back if attacked. I've dissected Kerry's fundamentally flawed thought process here and the Republicans have immediately sent the message that they will draw this distinction that vastly favors Bush throughout the Convention. And they should.

Monday, August 30, 2004

Let's see if this works

Trying to get some changes up and running on the site. I've added an advertisement bar above but the first ads Google sent me were a bunch of liberal crap from Kerry-affiliated 527s. If I keep getting that kind of bs, I'll rip Google a new one. I thought Googles was going to examine the page to see compatible adverts. That Kerry and Dem garbage won't fly.

UPDATE: at 2:46 I decided I'm not going to have a bunch of left-wing scheisse on this site, therefore I'm taking down the Google ads until I get some response from Google indicating that they'll work with me on this. You want Kerry pimping, go to Air America's site.

What relevance has Andrew Sullivan?

If you take off all of August to go to the beach and fail to blog about numerous momentous occurrences during the campaign season, do you have any relevance anymore?

Tom Maguire at Just One Minute cut his vacation to jump in with some blog posts when major stories broke regarding John Kerry's campaign, the Swifties' allegations, etc., as seen here.

The Instapundit can't stop blogging, even when he's out in the woods somewhere with the Instabrood.

Sullivan meanwhile hangs out in his hammock (with his palm out for contributions) for 27 days whilst the Swifties eviscerate Kerry's integrity, Captain Ed elucidates Kerry's willful biographical misrepresentations, Bob Dole blasts his former colleague and the blogosphere eats the old media's lunch on the story of Kerry's lack of integrity.

Today, Sullivan is back in rare form charging without proof that Karl Rove is the power behind the Swifties (nothing about the MoveOn.org or Media Fund or America Coming Together and their direct connections with Kerry), charging Marvin Olasky and the woman who will give the invocation at the RNC opening tonight with bigotry because they won't support gay marriage, overblowing a Bush malapropism into a freudian slip, etc.

Personally, his blog was better whilst he vacationed.

Submitted to the Traffic Jam.

Mississippi learning: enforcing the law in the Magnolia State

Back in the day, The Monk worked for a law firm that defended asbestos-related injury cases. Asbestos is a mineral that was used in fireproofing and the damage it cause to unprotected miners who dug it out of the ground in Quebec and Australia and the US was tremendous. It was included, in varying amounts, in numerous fireproofing products including bricks, wallboards, sprays and more. In its neutralized form, it's harmless -- that is, when contained within bricks or wallboards it won't hurt you. When you break a brick or tear out wallboard, asbestos particles are freed up and can go into your lungs where they are akin to small needles cutting through the lung tissue.

Asbestos has not been used in construction in the US for more than two decades. And whereas the initial asbestos injury claimants had injuries that ranged from bad to deadly, more than 90% of the current plaintiffs are healthy. Yes, there are many sick claimants, most notably those who have mesothelioma -- a quick-acting cancer that is caused by embedded asbestos in the lungs.

Nonetheless, the vast number of unsick plaintiffs means that plaintiffs' lawyers need to aggregate the claims in order to benefit from bringing them. That leads to massive joinders in lawsuits of hundreds of claimants from numerous different areas (or even states) who were exposed to asbestos under differing circumstances all lumped into one lawsuit to bring pressure on defendants to settle. This is a practice frought with potential for corruption. And Mississippi, with its lack of procedural controls and a permissive Supreme Court had been one of the most favorable states for asbestos claims . . . until recent tort reforms.

Now the Mississippi Supreme Court (see link in title) has not only clamped down on massive joinders, but also on some of the plaintiff attorney tricks that prevent defendants from being able to investigate the plaintiffs' cases and challenge the joinders that seek to extract huge settlements. The pendulum swings back . . .

Hat tip: Point of Law and Overlawyered.com

Kerry's resume padding -- updated

Now there's information that Kerry is padding his war heroism (in addition to his serial self-promotion as a veteran). As the Sun-Times report in the title of this post indicates, there are now three additional issues with Kerry's citations.

First, he claims to have received three different commendations to accompany his Silver Star (one is the norm) and John Lehman, the Secretary of the Navy who allegedly penned one of those commendations, denies having written one.

Second, Kerry's website claimed that he received a Silver Star with combat V (for valor). But the Sun-Times report says that those were not (and are not) issued. Combat V citations may accompany higher awards, but not the Silver Star.

Third, his website carries a Defense Department form that grants Kerry four campaign stars in Vietnam. A vet gets one campaign star for each of the Defense Department "named" campaigns. But Kerry only participated in two of the 17 named campaigns (as designated by the DoD) in Vietnam.

Here's The Monk's take: I know that the military vets will decry Kerry's self-attribution of the Combat V to his Silver Star but this is a point of military minutiae that civilians won't get. More important from a political and personal standpoint is the doubling of the campaign stars. This reflects the resume-padding and self-aggrandizement that permeates the Kerry persona. Everyone understands the concept of the person who claims achievements that he did not attain. That is a cardinal sin in politics -- you have overstated your achievements, you are not trustworthy, how can you occupy the most important political office in the world?

Update: Paul at Wizbang derides the Combat V issue because the Silver Star is, by definition, an award for valor (see here for details). The Bronze Star will have a V for valor because it can be awarded for either meritorious service or heroism (see here). But that raises the question of whether the write-up is erroneous or someone made a clerical mistake. If the write-up is erroneous, and Kerry authored the written support for the combat V, then he needs to explain why he wrote his report the way he did.

Ultra-Liberal when he wants to be

Captain Ed notes that Kerry is more liberal under Republican presidents than he was under Clinton (the only Democrat president in Kerry's Senatorial career), according to National Journal's examination of his voting record.

What is the point?

First, Kerry abandons his principles in favor of prevailing party loyalty. For six of Clinton's eight years, Kerry was in the minority party, therefore he had to compromise for Clinton to help the president pass legislation that would also appeal across the Senate aisle. But during the Bush (papa y hijo) and Reagan presidencies, he could (and did) tack as far left as he wanted -- out toward the Wellstone/Kennedy fringe.

Second, when combined with Kerry's lack of leadership in policy issues during his 20-year Senatorial career, the junior senator from Massachusetts is clearly revealed as a follower of the far left of his party. His Americans for Democratic Action ratings support this conclusion.

Ultimately, this shows how Kerry would, despite his rhetoric and bluster, cater to the collection of left-wing interest groups that are the real powers behind the Democrats -- Ralph Neas, Nan Aron, ADA, ACLU, AFL-CIO, etc. Not a good sign for anyone who expects a president to actually LEAD the country.

He's just another Jimmy Carter.

Dissecting the 9-11 Commission Report

There are a notable few judges in American history who have had, or will have, tremendous effect upon the shape of the law who were not (or will not be) Supreme Court justices. The list includes past judges Roger Traynor and Learned Hand and current judges Guido Calabresi and Richard Posner.

Posner partially revolutionized tort theory with his examination of the relationship between law and economics. He is perhaps the most prolific theorist on the bench, he writes numerous opinions as part of his full-time job as a judge on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, and he has authored books, articles and law review essays galore.

In this week's New York Times Book Review, Judge Posner turned his perspicacious eye on the Report of the 9-11 Commission . . . and eviscerated it. He states his most important conclusions early (all emphases in excerpts added by TKM):

[T]he commission's analysis and recommendations are unimpressive. The delay in the commission's getting up to speed was not its fault but that of the administration, which dragged its heels in turning over documents; yet with completion of its investigation deferred to the presidential election campaign season, the commission should have waited until after the election to release its report. That would have given it time to hone its analysis and advice.

. . . The participation of the relatives of the terrorists' victims (described in the report as the commission's ''partners'') lends an unserious note to the project . . . One can feel for the families' loss, but being a victim's relative doesn't qualify a person to advise on how the disaster might have been prevented.

Much more troublesome are the inclusion in the report of recommendations (rather than just investigative findings) and the commissioners' misplaced, though successful, quest for unanimity. Combining an investigation of the attacks with proposals for preventing future attacks is the same mistake as combining intelligence with policy. . .

I've been critical of the 9-11 Commission, and I've also decried the politicization of the 9-11 Commission Report by claiming that its recommendations should be examined critically before they're implemented.

Posner also criticizes the substance of the Commission's report, as well as its process:

At least the commission was consistent. It believes in centralizing intelligence, and people who prefer centralized, pyramidal governance structures to diversity and competition deprecate dissent. But insistence on unanimity, like central planning, deprives decision makers of a full range of alternatives. For all one knows, the price of unanimity was adopting recommendations that were the second choice of many of the commission's members or were consequences of horse trading. The premium placed on unanimity undermines the commission's conclusion that everybody in sight was to blame for the failure to prevent the 9/11 attacks. Given its political composition (and it is evident from the questioning of witnesses by the members that they had not forgotten which political party they belong to), the commission could not have achieved unanimity without apportioning equal blame to the Clinton and Bush administrations, whatever the members actually believe.

and he notes a lack of imagination in the Report itself:

Apart from a few sentences on the possibility of nuclear terrorism, and of threats to other modes of transportation besides airplanes, the broader range of potential threats, notably those of bioterrorism and cyberterrorism, is ignored.

Posner's real criticism is for the FBI as he notes its "dismal" counterterrorism record and its failure to respond even when Director Louis Freeh called for more attention to terrorist threats.

Overall, an interesting and intelligent review. That's to be expected from Posner.

Sunday, August 29, 2004

Kerry Meltdown Watch?

Little Green Footballs debuted its Kerry Meltdown Watch this weekend because the gaffes just keep on coming.

On Thursday, Kerry went to swing-state Wisconsin and referred to the Green Bay Packers' stadium as LamBERT Field (scroll down to 8/26).

On Friday, Kerry sent some dupes to Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney's office to try to deliver the same idiotic letter that Max Cleland and more Kerry sycophants tried to deliver to President Bush's Crawford, Texas ranch calling on Bush to make the Swiftiies stop their ads against Kerry. In Boston, Kerry's delegation was met by a group called "Veterans for Working Senators" that decried Kerry's failure to be as honorable as Bob Dole. Dole resigned his Senate seat in 1996 to run for President.

Kerry has missed 64% of votes and nearly 90% of roll calls. The vets called for Kerry to resign or give back the pro rata share of his pay for missing the Senate sessions.

On Thursday, Kerry made a classic Kerry bungle. Kerry gave a speech in West Palm Beach, Florida, and a local TV reporter asked him what he'd do against Castro. Kerry claimed he'd been tough on Castro (not true) and cited his vote for the Helms-Burton bill that called for sanctions against US companies that did business with Cuba. One problem: Kerry voted against Helms-Burton. Kerry's aides explained that Kerry voted for Helms-Burton in its "pure" form. In other words, he voted for strangling Castro economically before he voted against it.

LGF has more, and will assuredly add to the pile.

Statistics and misleading information = Democrats' claims of successful economies

The Oyster at Right Hand Thief is my unofficial liberal ombudsman on the 'Net (and he's impossible to dislike because he's a Yankees fan). Today, he points me to the post on his blog linked to in the title to this post. A pile of statistics that "proves" Democratic president = better stock market and better economy than Republican president since 1901. The fact that this is a tremendous overgeneralization (even within the 1960-2002 data subset he also relies upon) and is without context in terms of world and domestic events really should go without saying. But sometimes you need to try to explain the big picture to the left.

I apologize at the top of this because I'm really not going to be able to dig up all the stats I want that will prove that Reagan had the best economy in the history of the US, and Carter and FDR (pre-Pearl Harbor) had two of the worst. Indeed, much of this rejoinder will be off the top of my head with some help from my trusty Encyclopedia Brittanica 2004 CD-ROM (it adds the specifics as to policies of the presidents, see below). But here's a shot at an answer, which will not wholly debunk the Oyster's point, but will cut the legs out from his premises.

First, we need to cut the abstractions and identify the Presidents in question. For the Republicans: Teddy Roosevelt, William H. Taft, Warren Harding, Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Richard M. Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush. That's a varied bunch that includes two of the top 10 presidents (TR, Reagan) in history and the two who are often called the worst (Harding, Nixon), and the one who failed to resuscitate the country after Black Monday (Hoover).

For the Democrats: Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton. This bunch has less variation than the Republicans. FDR is considered one of our best (although I think he's vastly overrated); ditto Truman. Carter was one of the worst in US history. None of the others is really horrible.

Second, we need to cut through one concept that is pure rubbish: the notion that the President has ultimate power over the success of the economy. Examples will follow on both sides.

Third, there is a fallacy underlying this whole exercise by Oyster (and the Michael Kinsley half-truths he peddles) -- the notion that Democrats and Republicans have remained consistent in either economic policy and principles in (1) the past 100 years and (2) the 42 years from 1960-2002. Neither hidden premise is true.

Fourth, the stock market measurement. A good stock market is a measure of confidence, not a reflection of economic health. Key case in point -- the Clinton stock market that cratered early in the Bush presidency. Anyone who argues that the collapse was proximately caused by any Bush policy or action is completely wrong, primarily because no Bush policy had been implemented when the Internet bubble burst. Moreover, as this in-depth report of the House of Representatives Joint Economic Committee shows, stock ownership was a rarity among the US public before the mutual fund revolution in the late 1980s and through the Clinton Administration. Indeed, the number of households that owned ANY stock in a publicly traded company increased TENFOLD from 1980 to 1998. Of that increase, the vast majority occurred under Reagan and Bush (from 4% of households owning stock to more than 30% when Clinton took office). And as an aside, the person most responsible for this stock ownership revolution is not a president, but a CEO (former) -- John Bogle of Vanguard.

Fifth, the level of tax revenues as a percentage of GDP does not measure economic performance, so Kinsley's use of the statistic is meaningless. Tax revenues as a percentage of GDP has been relatively steady since the end of World War II -- basically in the 18-21% range no matter what the top marginal rates were at the time and no matter how good or bad the economy performed. Even after the Reagan tax cuts, the gross receipts of the government increased and the GDP % of taxes remained relatively steady. Why? Because the rising tide DID lift all boats. Moreover, the President who had the HIGHEST peacetime taxes-GDP ratio is Clinton, and it's not even close.

Sixth, the inflation rate information that Oyster cites is completely misleading. From 1930-49 we had negative inflation due to the Depression (1930-41) and price controls during WWII (1942-45). That's 13 years of Democratic rule ('33-'45) where inflation was not a factor because the economy was awful. See here for more information. Take the inflation rate from 1960-02 and the Democrat inflation rates are much higher than Republican inflation rates.

Now, we'll go blow-by-blow and president by president.

First, TR. He was really the second Republican president of this century but he took over after McKinley was assassinated in 1901. TR's legacy is as a "trustbuster" -- that is, his economic policy fought against consolidation of key industries into the hands of a small number of companies. By libertarian thought, that's not exactly business-friendly. Moreover, TR was a proponent of the "Square Deal" that imposed greater regulation on businesses and created some new regulatory agencies like the Interstate Commerce Commission. Most of these regulations were beneficial in some manner (especially slaughterhouse regulations). Nonetheless, TR had a generally good economy as the US expanded.

Taft did not have as successful an economy as TR. One big reason, he supported a protectionist tariff bill that slowed trade and stalled the economy. Lesson -- free trade helps the economy (note that if you ever consider voting for Kedwards' protectionism).

Wilson lowered the tariffs enacted under Taft, and that helped the economy. The economy also soared in World War I as the US's war footing required industry to reach its production peaks. Harding reversed much of the Wilson progress by enacting that bane of economic growth -- protectionist tariffs. He also limited immigration, thereby cutting off supplies of additional labor.

Coolidge is an icon to some conservatives, and for good reason. Under Coolidge (and his Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon, yes, that one), Congress lowered the income taxes first permitted by the XVI Amendment (proposed under Taft and enacted under Wilson) and the tariffs that had strangled economic growth. Coolidge thought the government needed to get out of the way of businesses and let them pursue profit; under his tenure the costs of regulation decreased along with income taxes and estate taxes.

Hoover is most connected with not just the Depression but with the alleged failure of a laissez-faire economy. The Great Depression began on his watch, but the worst part of the Hoover years is that the Depression was not halted. Instead, Hoover agreed to the Smoot-Hawley tariff that raised import duties and initiated an international trade war. FDR lowered tariffs in 1934 but severe damage had been done.

FDR grew the economy . . . but did so in 1942-45. The Depression ended after the US war machine ramped up production. Indeed the US economy was still in trouble in 1940 after seven-plus years of FDR's Keynesianism. See here, here and here about debunking Keynes and the actual end of the Depression. Truman presided over the postwar boom. Ike also benefitted from postwar boom, which slowed toward the end of his second term.

To improve the economy in 1960, JFK advocated LOWERING PERSONAL INCOME TAXES. Indeed, Reagan and Bush fils would later echo JFK's reasoning. Indeed, employment rates improved as did the economy thanks to JFK's lower-tax plan, which LBJ actually pushed through Congress in 1964. LBJ's lasting negative legacy = the Great Society and increasing the welfare state.

Nixon abandoned his principles on economics: in response to the recession of 1970, he took the US off the gold standard (not negative in long run), and imposed wage and price controls. The immediate effects jump-started the economy temporarily, but the Oil Embargo of 1973 and continuing decline of the world economy in response to the semi-protectionist effects of Nixon's policies stalled economic growth for the rest of the decade. Ford failed to revoke the controls Nixon put on the economy, as did Carter.

Carter did nothing of use: under his reign social security taxes were increased (costing businesses and workers), the wage and price controls that were disastrous were not revoked, he dithered through the second oil crisis in 1979 and did nothing to push the economy forward. Somehow 21.5 million jobs were created in the Carter years, but unemployment remained steady. Carter sat back as the economy worsened to become the worst post-Depression economy in US history.

Reagan worked to kill the escalating inflation that had restrained the economy since 1965. He and Fed chairman Paul Volcker instituted Milton Friedman's monetary theories. In 1981 and 1982, Reagan allowed Volcker to put the country through a deeper recession in order to curb double-digit inflation (which has not topped 5% since). Reagan also cut tax-rates, thereby increasing the percentage of taxes paid by the wealthiest Americans -- when wealthy Americans have less incentive to hide their money (read: lower top tax rates), they do not. Reagan's roaring '80s economy is to his great credit.

Bush pere inherited a strong economy that would trend toward the 10-year recession again (see 1960, 1970, 1980). His response to raise taxes in order to avoid halting the government (and failing to face down the Democrats in Congress) cost him reelection, but the economy began trending upward once again in 1992 (no relation to the tax-hike).

Clinton made two good calls viz the economy: NAFTA and welfare reform. More importantly, Clinton was an ardent free trader, much more so than the current President. His peace dividend that he inherited after the fall of the USSR in 1991 contributed greatly to Clinton's economic successes and his ability to generate surpluses in the US budget.

Bush inherited the 10-year recession, this one spurred on by the collapse of the Internet bubble. As most commentators and anti-Bushies, Kinsley completely discounts the horrific, albeit temporary, effects of 9-11 on the economy (eliding this fact, he purposely cuts his analysis at 2002, before the 2003 recovery began). Indeed, Fed Chairman Greenspan's lowered interest rates and Bush's tax cuts helped create one of the softest recessions and swiftest reversals toward economic growth in recent history.

The upshot of all this analysis? First, free trade helps the economy. That's reason one to vote against Kerry and his ridiculous fair trade notions. Second, lower marginal income tax rates will help the country out of recessionary periods. Third, recessions tend to come every 10-12 years -- economies are cyclical, not president-driven for the most part. Fourth, presidents generally have ability to help improve a flagging economy with lower taxes and use of monetary policy tools. And FIFTH, it's not the party of the President that matters, it's what he advocates as policy that counts.

Thought for the day

Watching the Yankees stink up another one today makes The Monk believe it's 50-50 that they won't be in first place by the time The Monk returns from vacation on Sept. 13 (leaving Sept. 2). They led 2-1 bottom 7, now trail 6-2 (watching in top 8 now). They blew a 3-1 seventh inning lead against Seattle on Aug. 15 and lost 7-3, blew a 9-3 lead against Minnesota and barely won 13-10, blew a 3-2 lead Wednesday against Cleveland and lost. Problem #1 = the starters need to go strong through 7. Mooooosina blew up in the bottom of the 7th today; Brown had a minor hiccup on Aug. 15 and the 'pen blew it, El Duque lost his way in that Minnesota game. Problem #2 = Quantrill is pitching BP.

Friday, August 27, 2004

Freedom of thought infringement of the day

This is ominous.

A woman whose claims of recovered memories of abuse (read: as reliable as "rebirthing") were critically examined by a U. Washington researcher in an academic journal has sued the researcher. So much for academic freedom.

The researcher is Elizabeth Loftus, Ph.D., a psychologist who defends people wrongly accused of sexual abuse. The recovered memories concept fits hand in glove with the notion that children bury their memories of sexual abuse, have trouble later on and then find out through memory recovery techniques that the problems trace back to being abused.

But as LA Weekly notes: What drives Loftus is not, as her detractors believe, a perverted desire to keep sexual predators free to wreak havoc on young innocents, but rather a passionate belief that, during social hysterias, the presumption of innocence becomes subsumed under a tidal wave of lock-’em-all-up-and-throw-away-the-key rhetoric.

Indeed, that lynch-mob mentality has led to no less than three notably awful miscarriages of justice: Gerald Amirault and family, the LA prosecutions in the mid-1980s and the prosecution of the day care center owner in New Jersey in the late 1980s. Now, the Jane Doe lawsuit referenced in the title link essentially would allow (alleged) victims to sue contrary experts for having OPINIONS that dispute the victim's claims.

It would be a pernicious outcome if Loftus loses.

Pre-convention Poll data

There are a pile of new pre-GOP convention polls out today and one notable poll from yesterday where the LA Times for the first time in this election season had Bush leading Kerry.

Outside the Beltway (link in title) has the full rundown of the polls from Fox, LA Times, MSNBC, USA Today and a dog-bites-man result from the WaPo.

The national polls matter very little because of the Electoral College, therefore state-by-state information is what counts. The LA Times poll today shows Bush opening leads in Ohio, Missouri and Wisconsin. That last one is most important: Wisconsin is the ONLY state that Al Gore won where Bush has had a lead since Kerry clinched the Democratic nomination. This is crucial because (1) recent polls indicate a decent-sized Kerry lead in Florida, (2) most polls show W. Virginia and New Hampshire regressing to Kerry, (3) polls in the midwest have shown Bush gaining some strength. Ultimate outcome, if Bush holds Ohio and flips Wisconsin, Michigan and either Minnesota or Iowa he can win without winning Florida.

Two caveats: (a) the state polls do not survey military voters and Florida has many active duty military voters; (b) the LA Times state polls were of REGISTERED voters, not LIKELY voters and RV polls are less accurate than LV polls.

An excerpt from the LA Times poll story:

The surveys also show that voters in all three states pick Bush over Kerry when asked which man is most likely to develop a plan to succeed in Iraq and who would be more qualified to serve as commander in chief. Voters in all three states also gave Bush a big lead when asked which would best protect the nation from terrorism.

One other point: BlogoSferics notes that the LA Times polls have notoriously oversampled Democrats, therefore these results may be worse than they seem at first look.

Poverty in America

The media is ramping up the class warfare stories because liberals generally think the middle class (much of whom used to be poor and worked its way out of it) should care. But the middle class is concerned about its own situation and has worked hard to maintain it.

Nonetheless, the impoverished in the US are not, in general, the starving waifs that you see in Oxfam commercials imploring you to give money to third-world poor. The Monk has seen impoverished people outside of the US, and it is wretched. As the Heritage Foundation report linked in the title of this post shows, however, most of the US poor are not nearly that bad off.

Self-defeated by the NFL

I just listened to Outside the Lines on ESPN and the show tonight dealt with the NCAA's decision to NOT reinstate the eligibility of USC wide receiver Mike Williams.

You may recall Williams -- superstar receiver for the best team that didn't have a chance to win the national title, and one who was a true sophomore. When Maurice Clarett challenged the NFL's eligibility rule earlier this year, and won a favorable ruling from the grandstanding judge Shira Scheindlin, Williams piled on and declared his eligibility. Shortly before the NFL draft, the Second Circuit stayed the lower court ruling and eventually threw it out and ruled for the NFL. At that point, Clarett and Williams were ineligible for NFL jobs.

Now I have no sympathy for Clarett. I also have relatively little for Williams who took a chance (on awful advice) in withdrawing from school and declaring for the draft after Scheindlin's Clarett ruling. Indeed, as soon as I heard about the ruling and read Scheindlin's rationale, it became obvious that the ruling was so weak that it might not stand on appeal. Williams was also told by the NFL that if it won the Clarett appeal, it would not hold a supplemental draft to bail him out.

But there are three things notable here: (1) the NCAA really did screw USC and Williams by not telling him what it seemed to know it would do until two days before USC's first game this year; (2) Williams came off VERY WELL tonight -- nice, even-headed kid and certainly not a dumb jock, he had no bad words for anyone and showed no trace of bitterness; (3) this bad result for Williams is the direct result of the baseless ruling Scheindlin made. She has a reputation for loopy rulings and the best thing about being a federal judge is that you won't feel the results of your idiotic lawmaking. Instead, clueless collegians like Mike Williams do.

Mark Steyn double

Here's a nice daily double from Mark Steyn on Kerry's non-existent band of brothers and how Kerry has miscalculated in basing his candidacy upon his Vietnam service.

First, Steyn in the Jerusalem Post on the absence of a band of brothers:

For 25 years, [Kerry] told The Boston Globe, The Washington Post, the United States Senate, and all manner of other well-known saps about his covert Yuletide operations inside Cambodia gun-running to anti-communists with his lucky CIA hat. To verify any of this would have required a trip to specialist reference libraries, looking up stuff on eye-straining microfiche, etc. So it was easier to let the old blowhard yak away and just nod occasionally.

Senator Kerry couldn't have foreseen that Al Gore would invent the Internet, and there'd be this Google thingy, and all you'd have to do is tap in a few words and a nanosecond later it would all be at your fingertips – veterans memoirs, Cambodian history, declassified Johnson administration documents, previous Kerry "stretchers" (as Mark Twain called them).

The Kerry campaign has now conceded that, by his own contemporaneous account, the young lieutenant was nowhere near Cambodia in Christmas 1968 and, if he was ever on a covert gun-running operation across the border during his four months in Vietnam, he seems to be the only rookie Swift boat lieutenant to land in the territory and get entrusted with such a mission, and it was evidently so top secret that neither his commanding officers nor the men on his own boat knew a thing about it.

Steyn also takes a good crack at the NY Times and the mainstream media:

So for two weeks, as the Swiftees exposed Kerry's Cambodian fantasies, the networks and the "newspapers of record" were like Sherlock Holmes's dog that didn't bark – or, in this case, the sheep that didn't baa. Now the silence of the lambs has been broken. The editorialists at The New York Times have deigned to sully, belatedly, their hallowed pages with an acknowledgment of the existence of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, if not the substance of their charges. And this is what the sniffy editorialists – or at least their headline writer – have to say:

"Politics as usual."

Well, I should hope so. This is an election campaign, not a coronation – though you may be confused on that point if you get your news from the Times and the networks. Let us stipulate that the snoots at the Times are right – that the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth are a "Republican-financed group of partisans." Just as the handful of Swift boat veterans prepared to support John Kerry are a Democrat-financed group of partisans. After all, it seems unlikely that they're picking up their own hotel bills and air fares as they travel around the country as his loyal, if small, "band of brothers."

So both groups are "politically motivated." Good for them. That's what multi-party democracy is all about. The New York Times and CBS News are also "politically motivated." So is this column. It's a political column, and it's "politically motivated." One day I'll start a ballet column, and that will be balletically motivated.


Meanwhile, in The Spectator, Steyn remains the one stalwart conservative who hasn't gone wobbly. HIs editorial for this week is a long stem-winder discussing Kerry's tactics, personality, etc. But two observations stand out for their acuity:

The flaw in the Senator’s strategy to run for president as a plucky 24-year-old Swift boat lieutenant was an obvious one. The argument that his Swift boat command demonstrates his superb qualities of leadership falls apart once you notice his striking lack of the first ingredient of leadership: followers. Aside from the three or four Swiftees who’ve been persuaded to travel around the country with him, all the hundreds of other Swiftvets loathe him, and many of them are determined to stick to him like DNA to Monica’s dress. This was entirely foreseeable — I’ve been getting emails from aggrieved veterans for two years now, so I’d guess the Democrats have too.

But the party that likes to sneer that Bush never had a plan to deal with Iraq’s inevitable insurgents doesn’t seem to mind that Kerry never had a plan to deal with the Swiftees’ equally inevitable insurgents. A guy awash in gazillions from Barbra Streisand and co. who can’t see off a couple of hundred middle-aged ‘liars’ and their minimal ad-buy? Is that really the fellow you want to put up against al-Qa’eda, the ayatollahs and Kim Jong-Il?

* * *
The risk in running on biography is that voters won’t find your life story as compelling as you do. They might be churlish enough to be more interested in, say, health care or terrorism than what you were doing in 1968. That risk becomes a certainty when your appealing soft-focus narrative comes under attack and your campaign degenerates into a defence of your biography. The minute you start running ads demanding that voters ‘tell George W Bush to stop telling lies about what a weally weally big war hero I am’, you sound ridiculous. Especially when your opponent is a guy who’s never complained about anything – not the ‘Bush is Hitler’ stuff, not the ‘Bush knew about 9/11 in advance’ stuff, not even the comparatively mild Michael Moore slur that he’s a moron so paralysed without his minders that he continued reading My Pet Goat to Florida grade-schoolers for a full seven minutes on September 11. Kerry himself made sneering cracks about the pet goat business, and Bush didn’t whine about it.


Thursday, August 26, 2004

Jobs numbers and uncounted employment

Much was made in the media last month when the Bureau of Labor Statistics claimed that only 32,000 new jobs had been added to the nation's payrolls. That was supposedly awful news for the Bush Administration.

But there's one problem with the BLS's stats: it does not count people who HAVE JOBS but are not on a business payroll. In other words, self-employed consultants, real estate agents, internet entrepreneurs, freelance journalists, and any other person who has a paying job that does not show up on a traditional company's payroll (or government agency payroll) is not counted in the BLS survey.

But another survey shows that there are MORE WORKING AMERICANS UNDER PRES. BUSH THAN AT ANY POINT IN U.S. HISTORY. Indeed, that survey is supported by the rest of the economic facts that indicate an improving economy and strong job market. What's the trick? The Labor Dept. survey is not subject to the false "additions" caused by people changing jobs, like the BLS survey and DOES count household-based jobs. As the authors of the USA Today Op-ed linked above show:

The U.S. Labor Department's household survey . . . It surveys 60,000 households and counts self-employed consultants, real estate agents, farmers and other non-traditional workers who aren't on old-style payrolls.

Yet because the household survey shows 2 million more working Americans under President Bush than ever before, it has been attacked for partisan reasons. Those who favoring the payroll survey are quick to quote Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan's congressional testimony in February favoring conventional numbers.

Here's the political sea-change: In March, the Heritage Foundation released a critique of the payroll survey and showed statistically that it doesn't accurately reflect today's economy. Then Greenspan endorsed that logic:

In his July 20 testimony to Congress, Greenspan cited measures from the payroll and household surveys. Then the Federal Reserve, led by Greenspan, voted unanimously to raise interest rates. It said the economy is "poised to resume a stronger pace of expansion" and noted that labor-market conditions continue to improve. It's no secret which survey would lead to that conclusion.

The Fed's actions helped everyone, including Wall Street, remember the good news. Claims for unemployment benefits, for example, are 10% below their 30-year average, while the unemployment rate has fallen to its lowest level since 2001. Best of all, the household survey showed a gain of more than half a million jobs in July alone.

Everything adds up — except the payroll survey.

So when you hear how Bush is the first president since Hoover to have net job loss, remember that claim is based on flawed information. The reality is that the new economy is growing rapidly and more Americans are working than ever before. That's not a net job loss, that's a success.

Hat-tip QandO.

Bob Dole Angry

Some nice commentary from Captain Ed (link in title) on the media exhumation of Bob Dole. This is an unintended consequence of Kerry's verbal assaults on the Swifties.

As noted before and earlier, and yesterday, the veterans as a whole do not support Kerry. This is no shock because vets tend Republican. But more importantly most of the men who served WITH Kerry (in same Swift group) do not support his presidential bid. That is amazing because, as Terry Sater noted (yesterday's comment link above) the bonds of those who serve together are incredibly strong. Thus, Kerry needs to silence the Swifties to maintain the false illusion that he is not only a decorated war hero but also an admirable and respected former serviceman. The fact that only 10% of the men who served with him support him is a trifle to the press, but a salient point to the rest of us.

Kerry's attacks got Dole aroused. After all, Dole knows sacrifice very well -- he gave the use of his right arm for his country in World War II. Dole IS a revered and respected former serviceman and he is extremely well-liked. The post-96 election BobDoleWorldTour that Dole did on the various late night talkies and through commercials (Visa check card, especially) showed an affable, self-effacing down-to-earth gentleman. Traits that are absent in Kerry. Thus, Kerry woke the sleeping bear who is now doing what the Bushies would not: attacking Kerry for attacking the Swifties.

Here's Captain Ed's take:

In a way, Dole's return has an element of poetic justice to it. Kerry's generation has the reputation for narcissistic self-absorption and has embraced victimhood as its highest value, while Dole's generation garnered the mantle of America's greatest. How interesting that Dole has to come back to the house to tell Kerry to stop whining and behave.

FEC Commissioner responds to Kerry

Courtesy Truth Laid Bear, a note about an interview FEC Chairman Bradley Smith gave to Bloomberg News. Smith had a nice quote:

"I think it's great we live in a country where 260 average guys can go out and put their point of view out there before the public and influence a major presidential race," Smith said in an interview with Bloomberg television. "I am not one who agrees it is illegitimate for citizens to take a stand on these kind of issues and only the politicians should be able to say what they want about the issues they want to talk about."

Smith was appointed by Bill Clinton.

Coming attractions and a notice

First, the notice: From September 3-15, blogging on The Key Monk will likely be very light. OF COURSE you should continue to check, but The Monk will be taking a vacation from his actual paying job and will only be able to blog intermittently on location. The Wongdoer will have the keys to the kingdom. Hopefully he won't let his kids take over the place and trash it.

Second, some coming attractions.

#1 = By this weekend, I am going to post a response to a line of propaganda that is circulating within left-wing blog circles -- the notion that economies are better under Democratic Presidents than under Republican Presidents (reference frames 1901-2002 and 1960-2002). Sounds great for Democrats, until you look at the details. The conclusion will be simple: policies, not political affiliation, has the strongest correlation with economic success.

#2 = I will also compile a Best of The Key Monk listing. Naturally, The Monk thinks that limiting SOME of his genius to a "best of" list necessarily excludes too much wisdom from the quick and easy compilation. Then again, The Monk has Archives.

For those of you who don't think there's anything here that warrants a "best of" appellation, go back to your Mother Jones forums and your Chomsky worship and stop troubling the rest of us with your dopeyness.

And to those of you who have been loyal, frequent or just occasional readers of The Key Monk, thank you very much for taking the time to visit.

Edit alert -- WSJ

The link in the title probably won't work because it's a subscription-only article. Nonetheless, John C. Goodman rips Kerry's proposed health care plan as so much socialism and a radical reinvention of the health care system in America. So much so that it would make Hillarycare look like tinkering.

No Systemic Abuse

That's the REAL conclusion of the independent panel investigation of the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal. The AP report is here. The worst that is said about Rumsfeld and the Pentagon -- they "could" be faulted for inadequate supervision. But the real fault is at the brigade level.

Here are a couple of observations from the Wall Street Journal regarding a key fact that the AP story omitted: only 66 confirmed cases of mistreatment in 50,000 prisoners handled by US forces in Afghanistan and Iraq -- 0.13%. Your excerpts:

Since Operation Enduring Freedom began in October 2001, the U.S. has handled about 50,000 detainees in Afghanistan, Iraq and other venues of the war on terror. Among those, about 300 allegations of abuse have arisen. And as of this month 155 investigations have resulted in 66 substantiated cases of mistreatment. Only about a third of those cases were related to interrogation, while another third happened at the point of capture, "frequently under uncertain, dangerous and violent circumstances."

So notes Tuesday's report from the Independent Panel to Review DOD Detention Operations, empowered in May by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and chaired by former Pentagon chief James Schlesinger. The report offers invaluable perspective on the abuse scandal at Abu Ghraib and is devastating to those who've sought to pin blame on an alleged culture of lawlessness going all the way to the top of the Bush Administration . . .

"The behavior of our troops is so much better than it was in World War II," Mr. Schlesinger told us yesterday, by way of comparison.

Moreover, the report completely eviscerates any claim that Rumsfeld and the Pentagon promulgated policies that caused such abuse.

Looking at mistreatment both at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere, the report says that "No approved procedures called for or allowed the kinds of abuse that in fact occurred. There is no evidence of a policy of abuse promulgated by senior officials or military authorities."

Thus, the grandstanding press, Senators, and International Red Cross need to start eating large quantities of crow:

Rhode Island Senator Jack Reed, for one, would seem to owe some apologies. In a May hearing he accused Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, Joint Chiefs Vice Chairman Peter Pace, and the rest of the Pentagon of sanctioning war crimes. Also owing apologies are all those journalists who applauded his demagogy as some kind of gotcha moment, and who threw around words like "torture" so glibly.

* * *
The Schlesinger report also shines a well-deserved spotlight on the International Committee of the Red Cross. It notes that much of the ICRC criticism used to bludgeon the Pentagon stems--as we've noted in this column--from a radical interpretation of the laws of war under which "interrogation operations would not be allowed," and which "would deprive the U.S. of an indispensable source of intelligence in the war on terrorism."

In particular, the ICRC is rapped for insisting that the U.S. adhere to a controversial document known as Protocol 1, which the U.S. long ago explicitly rejected and which would grant terrorists and other non-uniformed combatants all the privileges of normal prisoners of war. The ICRC, the report says, promulgates this standard dishonestly "under the guise of customary international law."

Somehow, the 0.13% factor, the lack of attribution of fault to Rumsfeld for creating the atmosphere of torture and the rebuke of the ICRC in the commission report are not given prominence in the AP story. Must have been an oversight because there is no media bias, right?

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

August 25, 1944

Today is the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Paris from the Nazis. Rachel Spreiregen was a 17-year old Jew in hiding under a false name. She saw the Nazis leave under force of arms and learned hope. The article linked in the title is her story of this day.

Do As I Say Alert

The Monk knows that liberals are full of s't, but 800 pounds' worth in one dumping seems like a high-capacity septic tank. Check out why Dave Matthews Band's "Don't Drink the Water" is its new theme song.

Pushback from Bush

Kerry's latest, and most desperate ploy, is to send triple-amputee Max Cleland and the man Kerry saved from drowning, Jim Rassmann, to Bush's ranch in Crawford, Texas to demand that Bush stop the Swifties from running their ads.

Let's note two things right now: (1) the second Swift Boat Vets' ad is COMPLETELY TRUE; (2) the Bush campaign has no connection to the Swift Boat vets. As James Taranto noted today (second item), the outside lawyer who acts as both a lawyer for the Swifties and the Bush campaign has an equal -- Robert Bauer is a lawyer for both the Kerry campaign and left-wing 527 group America Coming Together (which has raised about 20 times the money that the Swifties have).

Paul at Wizbang had a trenchant comment: The voters, rather than seeing a strong leader, are seeing a rather odd man sending his lackeys to grovel at the gates of power. The "Roger and Me" shtick might be fine for Michael Moore badgering the head of GM but Kerry wants to be leader of the free world. So far, he is looking woefully un-Presidential.

Nonetheless, Texas welcomes Kerry's useful idiots with open arms. Courtesy National Review, here's the text of a letter from some Texas politicians who are all Vietnam vets, and are supporting the president's re-election.

Dear Senator Kerry,

We are pleased to welcome your campaign representatives to Texas today. We honor all our veterans, all whom have worn the uniform and served our country. We also honor the military and National Guard troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan today. We are very proud of all of them and believe they deserve our full support.

That's why so many veterans are troubled by your vote AGAINST funding for our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, after you voted FOR sending them into battle. And that's why we are so concerned about the comments you made AFTER you came home from Vietnam. You accused your fellow veterans of terrible atrocities and, to this day, you have never apologized. Even last night, you claimed to be proud of your post-war condemnation of our actions.

We're proud of our service in Vietnam. We served honorably in Vietnam and we were deeply hurt and offended by your comments when you came home.

You can't have it both ways. You can't build your convention and much of your campaign around your service in Vietnam, and then try to say that only those veterans who agree with you have a right to speak up. There is no double standard for our right to free speech. We all earned it.

You said in 1992 "we do not need to divide America over who served and how." Yet you and your surrogates continue to criticize President Bush for his service as a fighter pilot in the National Guard.

We are veterans too -- and proud to support President Bush. He's been a strong leader, with a record of outstanding support for our veterans and for our troops in combat. He's made sure that our troops in combat have the equipment and support they need to accomplish their mission.

He has increased the VA health care budget more than 40% since 2001 -- in fact, during his four years in office, President Bush has increased veterans funding twice as much as the previous administration did in eight years ($22 billion over 4 years compared to $10 billion over 8.) And he's praised the service of all who served our country, including your service in Vietnam.

We urge you to condemn the double standard that you and your campaign have enforced regarding a veteran's right to openly express their feelings about your activities on return from Vietnam.


Texas State Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson
Rep. Duke Cunningham
Rep. Duncan Hunter
Rep. Sam Johnson
Lt. General David Palmer
Robert O'Malley, Medal of Honor Recipient
James Fleming, Medal of Honor Recipient

See here for more detail.

Blogs for Bush has picked this up.

I'm submitting to the Beltway Traffic Jam.

Kerry's Bio fisked!

Terry Sater of Eureka, Missouri identifies himself as a former gunner on a Navy troop carrier who served in Vietnam in 1968-69. He wrote a letter to the editor of the St. Louis Post Dispatch and sent a copy to Michelle Malkin. She posted the whole letter on her website.

Sater does not bother with the Unfit for Command account by John O'Neill, head of the Swifties. Instead, he examines Doug Brinkley's hagiography of Kerry. Sater says reading the Kerry bio Tour of Duty raises numerous questions about Kerry's service. The details are in his letter, reprinted at Malkin's site, but here are two observations worth noting:

I have read John Kerry's "Tour of Duty." He reminds me of a popular cartoon in Vietnam, the "Saigon Warrior". The "Saigon Warrior" cartoon figure had his helmet pushed down over his shaded eyes, ammunition belts crossing his puffed out chest, a sword in one hand and his M-16 in the other. He was a caricature.

More importantly, Sater notes the real issue in the whole Swifties-hate-Kerry situation.

I served twelve months with the Mobile Riverine Force, in the Mekong Delta, during 1968 and 1969, manning automatic weapons on an Armored Troop Carrier. During the first three months of 1969, I operated in and around the little village of Ha Tien, at times, with Kerry's Coastal Division 11 Swift Boats. If one of the men I served with was running for President, I would be extremely proud. If there was any way I could support him for President, I would. The bonds that are formed in combat are special. They are strong. For the men that served in Kerry's unit to state that he is unfit for command cannot and should not be brushed off as "partisan politics." It is not a "Republican vs. Democrat", or "conservative vs. liberal" issue. They aren't doing it for money. It is personal. The Swift Boat Vets are men who came to know John Kerry in the crucible of war and saw things in John Kerry that are so disturbing, that they cannot sit quietly. They also saw and heard one of their own come back from Vietnam and trash the legacy of everyone who served honorably. John Kerry's lies of atrocities are largely responsible for the terrible reputation Vietnam veterans have lived with for their entire lives. He testified that we were murdering, raping and torturing, with the consent and direction of the entire chain of command. Now, John Kerry is angry that these 254 men dare to question him.

John Kerry's Monica Moment?

That's what Andy McCarthy says about Kerry's seared-seared memory speech on the floor of the Senate in 1986 when Kerry decried the Reagan Administration's attempt to prevent Central America from turning into a Communist playpen. Moreover, McCarthy challenges the motivation of Kerry's 1971 testimony to Congress by claiming that Kerry knew (or at least should have known) that his charges of extensive war crimes and approval from officers were false. Here is an excerpt:

The 1971 testimony — far from the long ago and far away manifestation of a different, authentic Kerry — is very much of a piece with an adult lifetime of behavior, both small and large, indicative of detachment from reality and disregard for truth. Why did he film himself in mock battles? Why has he, for over a decade, spoken with great passion on behalf of diametrically opposite policy positions on Iraq and innumerable other issues? Why did he not only concoct the "Christmas in Cambodia" tale but take it to the floor of the United States Senate and inject it into a debate about national security?

. . . a 1980s' "conviction politician" is not to be found in the contras dispute, the dramatic stage for Kerry's "seared — seared — in me" Cambodia memory. That, instead, is turning into Kerry's "I-did-not-have-sexual-relations-with-that-woman" moment. The faux episode is not, as Kerry's how-dare-you bluster would have it, immune from analysis and judgment because to weigh it would somehow impugn his military service or his patriotism — in fact, it would do neither. It is not immune any more than President Clinton's infamously self-righteous declamation was, as his apologists maintained, beyond consideration because it was "just about sex." Christmas in Cambodia, like the 1971 testimony, is worthy of exploration because it is a barometer of basic honesty, raising the specter of a core lack of conviction and authenticity — one embedded in character, not developed over time.

Therein lies the problem for Kerry. Americans did not form their lasting impression of Clinton's pathology until after he was already elected president [twice]. Removing a president is a much different proposition than choosing not to elect him... Clinton, in addition, had many things going for him that Kerry does not . . . Clinton is charismatic, instantly likable, a tremendous communicator, and a politician whose opportunism (on welfare reform, a balanced budget, stiff anti-terror laws, etc.) could often connote a prudent pragmatism whereas, at this point, Kerry's (on Vietnam, Iraq, abortion, gay marriage, troop reduction, etc.) seems nakedly craven.

Clinton also had the good fortune of governing a pre-9/11 America, in which an otherwise competent leader's lack of probity could be sloughed off by the masses as a peccadillo — the stuff of late-night comedy monologues, not consequence. That world, however, is over.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Kerry decries Bush's service

From the invaluable Kerry Spot comes the entry below. Beware conservatives with computers and research skills:


Kerry, back on August 18:

Republican Sen. John McCain called on Kerry to denounce an ad by liberal interest group Moveon.org, that accuses Bush of using family connections to avoid the Vietnam War...

Kerry, mindful of McCain's political clout, issued a conciliatory statement minutes after the Arizona senator told The Associated Press he wanted Kerry to condemn the anti-Bush ad.

"I agree with Senator McCain that the ad is inappropriate," Kerry said in a statement released by his campaign. Hours earlier, at a news conference organized by Kerry's campaign, two veterans accused Bush of using family ties to get out of combat.

Other Kerry remarks on this topic, gathered by Team Bush:

Kerry Said President Bush “Didn’t Learn The Lessons” Of Vietnam And Is Putting Soldiers “At Greater Risk.” (Pete Yost, “Bush, Kerry Honor Veterans On Memorial Day,” The Associated Press, 5/31/04)

Kerry: The President “Can’t Even Answer Whether Or Not He Showed Up For Duty In The National Guard.” (ABC’s “Good Morning America,” 4/26/04)

Kerry: “This Comes From A President Who Can’t Even Show Or Prove That He Showed Up For Duty In The National Guard.” (ABC’s “Good Morning America,” 4/26/04)

Kerry: “George Bush Has Yet To Explain To America Whether Or Not, And Tell The Truth, About Whether He Showed Up For Duty.” (ABC’s “Good Morning America,” 4/26/04)

Kerry Compared President Bush’s Guard Service To Draft-Dodging. “‘If people went to Canada, if people opposed the war, if people chose to be in the Guard, that’s their choice, and I’ve never raised that in an issue,’ he said.” (Noelle Straub, “Kerry Presents Himself As GOP’s Worst Nightmare,” Boston Herald, 2/3/04)

Kerry Questioned If President Served In Alabama National Guard. “‘I don’t have the answer to that question. And just because you get an honorable discharge does not, in fact, answer that question.’” (Patrick Healy, “Kerry Casts Doubt On Bush Credibility On Iraq,” The Boston Globe, 2/9/04)

Kerry Even Attacked President’s Service In 2000: “‘Those Of Us Who Were In The Military Wonder How It Is That Someone Who Is Supposedly Serving On Active Duty, Having Taken That Oath, Can Miss A Whole Year Of Service Without Even Explaining Where It Went,’ Said Kerry.” (Mike Glover, “Gore Defends Home Turf As Bush Concedes ‘Mistakes,’” The Associated Press, 11/4/00)

In February 2004, Kerry Claimed He Never Passed Judgment On President’s National Guard Service: “It’s Not An Issue That I’ve Chosen To Create.” (Ron Hutcheson, “White House Releases National Guard Documents,” Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service, 2/11/04)

There are no more damning indictments against Kerry than what issues from his own mouth.

Kerry and today's sign of the apocalypse

According to this DRUDGE REPORT flash, Kerry contacted Swifties who had spoken against him and tried to repair some of the damage he caused after he returned from Vietnam. But Kerry is the type who likes to dig deeper after he begins digging a hole.

Check it out:

Kerry reached out to Robert "Friar Tuck" Brant Cdr., USN (RET) Sunday night, just hours after former Sen. Bob Dole publicly challenged Kerry to apologize to veterans.

Brant was skipper of the #96 and # 36 boat and spent time with Kerry in An Thoi. Kerry and Brant slept in the same quarters, and Brant used to put Kerry back to bed at night when Kerry was sleepwalking.

Brant received a call from Kerry at his home . . .

The call lasted 10 minutes, sources tell DRUDGE.

KERRY: "Why are all these swift boat guys opposed to me?"

BRANT: "You should know what you said when you came back, the impact it had on the young sailors and how it was disrespectful of our guys that were killed over there." [Brant had two men killed in battle.]

KERRY: "When we dedicated swift boat one in '92, I said to all the swift guys that I wasn't talking about the swifties, I was talking about all the rest of the veterans." [emphasis added -- TKM]

Kerry then asked if he could meet Brant ["You were one of the best"] -- man to man -- face to face.

Brant declined the invite, explaining that Kerry was obviously not prepared to correct the record on exactly what happened during Vietnam and what happened when Kerry came back.

OK, Kerry essentially said only the whole army, non-Swift navy, air force, and marines were war criminals. That should help morale.

Hat-tip: Blogs of War.

Get your theory straight -- Saudis or Israelis?

So who's pocket is the president in? Bret Stephens says the administration's critics need to get their stories straight -- either he is a Saudi puppet or an Israeli one, but not both.

The Electoral College and American stability

The Electoral College has come under fire from numerous prominent politicians and activists recently. After the 2000 election, Hillary Clinton advocated dismantling the Electoral College in favor of direct popular election of the president. This year, George Will, Paul Greenberg and Bruce Bartlett have all excoriated the Coloradans seeking to allocate that state's electoral vote based on the proportion of the state's popular vote won by the candidate in the election. And with good reason, even if you're a Democrat -- such proportionality could swing the election for either candidate (Kerry's campaign says he is ahead in the state).

The most frequently voiced complaint of the Coloradans and of the Electoral College opponents in general is that the winner-take-all system disenfranchises the voters whose candidate narrowly loses the state. This position is akin to the concept of disenfranchisement used by the New Jersey Supreme Court in its ridiculous decision that allowed Frank Lautenberg on the 2002 Senatorial ballot -- that voters would be deprived of democratic choice without a Democrat on the ballow. Neither position has any merit.

Claiming that you are disenfranchised if all of your state's electoral votes goes to the winner of your state's election for president is a preposterous notion. By that logic a voter for any candidate who narrowly loses is disenfranchised. The meaning of "disenfranchisement" is that you lose your right to vote or that your vote is not counted in the totals that decide the winner of the election. Disenfranchisement does NOT occur when your candidate loses -- you have no right to 45% of the victor if your candidate loses 55%-45%. The winner-take-all electoral system in 48 of the states is therefore akin to a Senate race -- there is only one winner and he (or she) gets all the spoils.

As Claudia Winkler shows, there are some principled and thoughtful reasons proposed to eliminate the Electoral College such as better modern communications that ensure an educated electorate (if it chooses to be educated), the EC is partially a holdover from slavery-issue compromises (see below), the straight vote-count method is more directly democratic, etc. But none of them withstand scrutiny. Ultimately, this essay by Martin Diamond explains that the presidential elections are as democratic as possible within each state, therefore:

Despite all their democratic rhetoric, the reformers do not propose to make our presidential elections more directly democratic; they only propose to make them more directly national, by entirely removing the states from the electoral process. Democracy thus is not the question regarding the electoral college; federalism is.

The Electoral College, and the winner-take-all allocation on a state-by-state basis, is one of the great mechanisms of the US system. Why? Because it works in variety of ways.

The United States is the world's largest democracy where the head of government is directly elected; most have the head of government selected by the party that wins the majority of the legislature (see UK, India, Canada, Australia, Germany, Netherlands, Italy, Spain) -- from a practical standpoint, voters know the prime minister of the new government will be the leader of that victorious party. But the US separates its executive and legislative branches of government, therefore the parliamentary system has no application.

The Electoral College is an historic compromise set up to balance the rivalry between the North and South of the US (industry v. agrarian slave-system), while continuing to ensure that the small states (population) would have a stake in the outcome of the election. Thus, less-populated New Hampshire has an importance in this election that surpasses its usual impact on the country. The fact is that even as the country has expanded, the various regions have had specific interests that are better served by a president who must campaign throughout the country and learn the needs of the people of various states. Voters in Iowa or Idaho have different concerns from voters in New York or Virginia. Those concerns are regional, but learning of them makes the presidential candidate more nationally in-tune.

Consider: in 2000, Al Gore Jr. won 677 counties; Bush won 2,434. Thus, Bush had broader national appeal, but Gore won densely populated areas by larger margins. If a presidency can be won by campaigning in certain densely populated areas for large swaths of the urban vote, then urban areas will be disproportionately influential in national politics.

Moreover, the Electoral College has minimized the extremism of US politics -- both the Democrats and Republicans are large nationally powerful parties, but those on the fringe have little political power and therefore cannot force dissolution of a government (i.e., Italy, Israel); the strong organizations also mean a two-party rivalry that forces each party to appeal to larger and more diverse constituencies, thereby moderating their platforms. What is good about that? In a country as diverse as the US, small parties with disproportionately large amounts of political clout can have a pernicious effect on the polity by further fragmenting US politics. In Israel (a fairly heterogenous small country), the various minor parties can completely hamstring the operations of government with their legislative and ministerial demands. In Italy (a relatively homogenous population), the old joke was that governmental stability meant no lost votes of confidence that year because from 1945-89, Italy averaged more than a government per year.

The Electoral College has contributed greatly to the stability of the US. In 1979, Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan spoke in opposition to the abolition of the Electoral College. He noted that of the 154 countries then in existence, only seven had existed since 1914 with the same governmental structure. Most of those were CONSTITUTIONAL systems -- either constitutional monarchies (Netherlands, UK, Canada) or a constitutional republic like the US. This is a great achievement and throwing out the Electoral College can only upset the stability of the US. How? See France, where Jacques Chirac won less than 30% of the initial presidential vote in an open contest before winning 80% in a run-off against right-wing nutter J-M Le Pen. France is on its Fifth Republic since the mid-1800s. As Moynihan noted:

politics is an argument about the future, and no one knows that future. However, as Hamilton and his colleagues argued, the study of history can give you some sense of probabilities. If we would study the modern history of Europe as they studied the ancient history of Greece, what would we repeatedly encounter but a democratic-republican society succumbing to a plebiscitory majority and to one man and to the end of the republic?

It happened in France; it happened in Italy; it happened in Germany. Almost the only places it has not happened in Europe, on one occasion or another . . . are the constitutional monarchies.

The last main argument of Electoral College opponents is that it can be anti-majoritarian because the president does not have to win the popular vote. That argument (more popular in 2000 than when Clinton won only 43% of the vote in 1992) ignores US history entirely. The Constitution was designed to PREVENT majority tyranny, thus it requires majorities built upon consensus with checks upon each majority's power. The Bill of Rights was forced upon the Constitutional Conventioneers because anti-Federalists feared a too-powerful national government that could control the minority through majority rule. A bill requires two majorities to pass through Congress, but the majority will can be checked by a presidential veto. An enacted law can be invalidated by the courts because it violates our Constitution. Thus, the Constitution is an anti-majoritarian document.

Ultimately, that anti-majoritarian document, the electoral system it created and the polity that was born and grew up under its aegis are what have made the US the most stable and exceptional republic in history. I'll close with this benediction from Sen. Moynihan in a speech to Congress:

. . . there is a solemn obligation of persons who have been blessed, as we have been blessed, by a stable political system to look to that stability as the most precious inheritance anyone can have. Look about the world and think of the experience of mankind in this generation. Ask what society has lived from 1813 without foreign invasion. Ask what society has never known a break in its congressional or presidential or judicial successions. Ask what society so accepts the principles of the Constitution as to enable the Supreme Court, appointed for life, to strike down laws of this very legislature, and to do so with heightened respect when it fulfills its constitutional mandate.

Ask what the legitimacy of justice is once we tinker with the balancing phenomenon of the electoral college.

We have a republic. It has endured. We trifle with its arrangement at a risk not only to the future of that republic, but, most assuredly, to the reputation of this generation of political men and women.

Unseemly posturing

One of the most unseemly aspects of John Kerry is that he exalts his war hero status. I'm on record time and again as stipulating that Kerry is a war hero and I'm not going to debate the specifics. I'll let Captain Ed and other bloggers do that. Instead, the importance of the Swifties' ads and the Xmas in Cambodia story is what they tell us about Kerry. Answer: nothing good.

There's something fundamentally amiss when only about 10% of the surviving members of your Swift boat battalion support not only your presidential candidacy but your accounts of events and your actions. As Ralph Peters (link in title) notes:

The red flag to military men and women is that so many swift-boat veterans have come out against John Kerry. Not just one. Not 10. Dozens upon dozens.

This is as rare as humility in the Hamptons. Vets stick together. Kerry likes to play up his "band of brothers" image, but if he's got a band, his opponents have a symphony. And even if the first violinist turns out to be a "Republican stooge," it's nonetheless stunning for so many vets to denounce a former comrade publicly. It just doesn't happen unless something's really wrong.

There's also something fundamentally amiss in touting your own heroism. That's a severe lack of humility. That is completely distasteful in a presidential candidate -- any aspirant to the post of Most Powerful Man In The World should have some trepidation towards assuming that mantle and an honest level of respect for the office. Kerry has never been accused of being humble -- instead, he's a low-level blue-blood who married up twice and feels he's entitled to be president. More of this perspective from Mr. Peters:

Finally — and this is the one the pundits have trouble grasping, given the self-promoting nature of today's culture — real heroes don't call themselves heroes. Honorable soldiers or sailors don't brag. They let their deeds speak for themselves. Some of the most off-putting words any veteran can utter are "I'm a war hero."

Real heroes (and I've been honored to know some) never portray their service in grandiose terms, telling TV cameras that they're reporting for duty. Real heroes may be proud of the sacrifices they offered, but they don't shout for attention.

This is so profoundly a part of the military code of behavior that it cannot be over-emphasized. The rule is that those who brag about being heroes usually aren't heroes at all. Bragging is for drunks at the end of the bar, not for real vets. And certainly not for anyone who wishes to trade on his service to become our commander-in-chief.

Monday, August 23, 2004

Big media, little media

Here's why the mainstream press hates blogs: the bloggers do their research better than the journalists.

The Monk worked as a journalist back in the day for one of the best college newspapers in the country. If that sounds like so much BS, it's not. The difference between high school journalism and college journalism is vast. And the college paper I worked on was wholly independent of both its university and any student funding. But I also know how lazy journalists can be: from failing to properly state the score of the football game you covered (one of my colleagues) to failing to spell-check headlines to failing to dig past the first person available for the press after city council or student government meetings, the press fails to dig deep. Worse, it fails to do its research.

Case in point, as shown on the Balloon-Juice blog and on the Kerry Spot on National Review Online (see 1:23 p.m. and 9:10 a.m. entries): the national media is under some delusion that Democrats never questioned a Republican presidential candidate's war heroism the way the Republicans have cast doubt on Kerry.

As Balloon Juice (link supra shows, the Boston Globe had a what if: "IMAGINE IF supporters of Bill Clinton had tried in 1996 to besmirch the military record of his opponent, Bob Dole . . ."

But there's no reason to "imagine," just check out an old copy of The Nation. Or see the hatchet job Sid Blumenthal tried to do against Bush-41 (see the Kerry Spot link cited above). Blumenthal based his "legitimate questions" surrounding Bush's heroism on the accounts of one man, not 250+ vets. Thus, as Kerry Spot blogger Jim Geraghty says:

Now, one can believe that Sid Blumenthal's article, citing Mierzejewski and some differing versions of Bush's story raises legitimate questions about the former president. And one can believe that the Swift Boat Vets for Truth, all 264 of them and their sworn affidavits, along with Kerry's Christmas in Cambodia story, raise legitimate questions about Kerry. But it is hard to contend that the former is legitimate hard-nosed journalism while the latter is just a smear campaign.

The Boston Globe not only has its own archives, but has access to the 'Net, the Nexis database and the NY Times archives (same company owns both). So why are the editorial page editors so lazy that they bring up these "what if" scenarios without checking to see if they actually occurred?

More Kerry links to 527s

Byron at Slings & Arrows has a roundup of Kerry connections to the 527s supporting his campaign. It's worse than I remembered.

First, Zack Exley is the MoveOn.org stooge who joined the Kerry campaign. He's been mentioned or at least alluded to by the Bushies recently in their rejoinders to the Kerry attacks on the Swifties.

Next, Jim Jordan, a former Kerry campaign manager now works for the Harold Ickes 527 group, the Media Fund.

And Kerry's own mouth-of-doom, Mary Beth Cahill is a longtime comrade of Ellen Malcolm of EMILY's List and the Media Fund.

Here are all the major investigative pieces by the NY Times, WaPo, LA Times, CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN and MSNBC on Kerry's connections to these groups: _____ .

Kerry's Got nuthin'

What else is there to say about Kerry? He touted his positive, issues-based campaign and instead is about to launch an ad blitz basically saying that Bush is a s/thead and is using the same campaign tactics against a decorated military vet that Bush used in 2000 against John McCain. What a crock! Kerry must think that Bush is coordinating as tightly with the $500K Swifties (that's what they've taken in) as Kerry is with MoveOn.org, America Coming Together and the Media Fund (total take > $60 MILLION). For those of you counting along at home, this means the Kerry-favoring 527 groups have received more than 120 TIMES the amount of money the Swifties have received.

Moreover, the Swifties are NOT coordinating with Bush (John O'Neill, the Swifties' head man was an EDWARDS supporter), but Kerry wants to paint his little picture despite a complete absence of any evidence of coordination. More importantly, Kerry is desperate to CONNECT HIMSELF TO McCAIN in some fashion, in the belief that McCain is the most popular Republican in the country (which is a fantasy that has reached mythological proportions because the media loves McCain). Simply stated, this is pretty pathetic.

If Kerry had ACTUAL issues that favored him, and ACTUAL policy positions (and an ACTUAL record of achievement as a Senator), he would tout that instead of drinking his party's own Bush-hatred Kool-Aid. But he is nothing but a shell politician created from four months of service in Vietnam and an experience seared-seared in him that turned out to be false. He deserves to lose and the Bushies need to POUND Kerry on the issues and Kerry's awful record to beat him.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Dole says Kerry went too far

Bob Dole know about honorable service in the nation's armed forces. The former Senator lost use of his right arm in World War II and his war heroism is well-known. Months ago, Dole told Kerry not to go off the deep end on the Vietnam issue. This weekend, Dole discussed his views. Here's an excerpt:

"One day he's saying that we were shooting civilians, cutting off their ears, cutting off their heads, throwing away his medals or his ribbons," Dole said. "The next day he's standing there, 'I want to be president because I'm a Vietnam veteran.' Maybe he should apologize to all the other 2.5 million veterans who served. He wasn't the only one in Vietnam," said Dole, whose World War II wounds left him without the use of his right arm.

Dole added: "And here's, you know, a good guy, a good friend. I respect his record. But three Purple Hearts and never bled that I know of. I mean, they're all superficial wounds. Three Purple Hearts and you're out."

George Will must reads

When he doesn't delve too deeply into strange arcana, George Will is among the premier columnists in the US. Here are two good columns.

First, he rips the Colorado movement to allocate electoral votes on a proportional basis, instead of the winner-take-all allocation that 48 of the 50 states use, and he explains why the electoral college is so important to the US presidential elections.

Second, here's his Reagan eulogy. Yes, I'm a bit late on the uptake with this one, but considering the importance of reelecting Bush against Jimmy Carter II, reminders of Reagan's importance are never out of date.

Kerry to Bush: save me from myself

John Kerry knows (or should know) that if Pres. Bush called for the Swifties to stop their anti-Kerry ads, it would constitute illegal coordination between the Bush campaign and a 527 group. Therefore, Kerry is trying to set Bush up for a "gotcha" moment while demagoguing this whole issue. But it can't work -- Kerry put his service before the country as his raison d'etre for being President. He spent four months serving his country on the frontlines, then spent years undercutting the troops he served with, spent 20 years in the Senate as a nonentity and is living off the fortune that John Heinz left to his widow.

Moreover, as Captain Ed points out (link in title), where was John Kerry when Bush's military service was questioned? Out front, supporting Terry McAuliffe and raising "questions" about what Bush did. As later proven when Bush released his military records (SOMETHING KERRY HAS REPEATEDLY REFUSED TO DO), there was no controversy: Bush served, performed his duty and did so honorably.

Kerry's latest line of attack is "if Pres. Bush wants to challenge my service, bring it on." Pure rubbish -- if Senator Kerry wants to challenge who better honors the troops (i.e., approving $87M in additional funds) and supports the US military by lauding the servicemen, instead of calling them rapists and murderers in statements to a Congressional committee, he should feel free to bring that to a debate with Bush.

The Bush campaign is playing this smart on one hand: a Bush staffer with connections to the Swifties quit yesterday when the Bushies discovered the connection because he appeared in the second Swiftie ad (he was a volunteer, not a paid consultant like the MoveOn.org strategist who joined the Kerry campaign). The Bush folks have repeatedly noted that Kerry is just whining and moping about this issue, which the Bush campaign has never brought up. But the one thing the Bushies have FAILED to do: pound Kerry on his nondescript record as a Senator, his rejection of 8-10 of the weapons systems that played such a huge role in Afghanistan and Iraq, and his awful record as an appeaser during the Cold War (the intelligence ad is a good step in the right direction). Ultimately, the Bushies may be hoping that Kerry hangs himself with his whining and his VERY unPresidential demeanor. But they need to connect to dots for the voters in Florida, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa.

Submitted to the Beltway Traffic Jam.