Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Red Hot Hillary Peppers

The local media (here in LA) reports that Hillary Clinton made a campaign stop in California along with the band, The Red Hot Chilli Peppers, to rally the younger vote for John Kerry. This is interesting on so many fronts.

1. The rally was actually called "Take Back the Senate" and it was aimed at getting the majority in the Senate back for the Dems--not a specific rally for Kerry as the media claimed.

2. If it were a rally for Kerry, why campaign in California where Bush has almost no chance of winning? Safe place for Hillary to claim she put in the effort under the radar screen--good place for her to build a base for the next go around. Also, is Boxer in trouble?

3. Why do they need to get in touch with the younger vote? Could it have something to do with recent polls that have shown Bush gaining ground in the 18-34 crowd?

In any event, the reports on the event were nauseating. This band was playing their wild music against a red, white and blue backdrop reading "Take Back the Senate" and then Hillary or Barbara Boxer or some other Democrat operative would come out in their oh-so-put-together pant suits and give some boring speech about how important voting is. You know 80% of the students there were there for the drugs or the music or some other unmentionable. But what a strange combination of elements it made! It looked like the nerd version of Woodstock!

Time & Newsweek polls

Time mag poll says the race is "deadlocked" with Bush leading Kerry, 48-46%, among likely voters. And Newsweek also calls the race a "dead heat" among registered voters, but has Bush leading Kerry among likely voters, 50-45%.

Kerry’s electoral college problem

Steve Hayward notes the Riley Poll found that Bush is leading among likely voters in Oregon 48-43% (a month ago in a Riley poll it was Bush 46-45%) and Oregon may well be shaky for Kerry. Gore won Oregon by only 3,000 votes in 2000. Steve may well be right and this leads to a small thought. Along with Oregon keep your eye on the following states won by Gore in 2000: Wisconsin (by circa 5,000 votes), Iowa (by 4,000 votes), and New Mexico (by 400 votes). The short of it is that should Kerry lose any one of these states, he can’t be elected because there is no serious movement in his direction in any state that Bush won in 2000! To repeat what you already know: Kerry has to take every state Gore took plus add one that Bush won. For a while the Kerry campaign thought they had a chance to take Missouri (no) or North Carolina (no) or maybe even Lousiana (no). Although they are pretending that they have a chance in Nevada and Colorado, I don’t see it. Now they are in the position of having to struggle just to keep what Gore had! This is what the elite media means when they say that the battleground states have shrunk to about eight or nine; Kerry’s opportunities are progressively more limited. Bush is ahead in most polls in Wisconsin, Iowa, and New Mexico (and now Oregon?). It is not yet a serious argument for Democrats (or NBC or CNN) to make that the race is so close in Colorado or Nevada or Ohio that Kerry has a serious chance. Bush leads in all three (although Zogby shows Kerry up by one point in Nevada, and there is a bit of variation of polls in Ohio). Please note the latest poll from New Jersey: the Fairleigh Dickinson University poll finds Kerry leading 44-42% among decided voters, but "when leaners are included in the race" it is 46-46%. This explains why Bush is heading to New Jersey (and why is he going to Michigan, I wonder?). How would I advise Kerry, given all this? Plant yourself in Ohio for the next two weeks, it’s your only shot (and yet it may not be enough even if you take Ohio). If Bush takes Wisconsin (10 electoral votes), Iowa (7), New Mexico (5), Oregon (7) and--maybe--even New Jersey (15) for a total of 44 electoral votes, it doesn’t matter if Kerry takes Ohio (or Bush could just replace the 20 electoral votes lost with Ohio with Wisonsin (10), Iowa (7), and New Mexico (5). There is too much territory for Kerry to cover and he will not be able to do it. It doesn’t matter how much CBS and the others try to cover this up. Take a look at the useful map with the latest state polls at
Tripias and all the useful information at Realclear politics.

Oliver Stone and Alexander

I have always wondered why Oliver Stone would make a movie about Alexander the Great. Maybe this is why: He is defending the bisexuality in “Alexander.” Stone:
“Alexander lived in a more honest time. We go into his bisexuality. It may offend some people, but sexuality in those days was a different thing. Pre-Christian morality. Young boys were with boys when they wanted to be.”

Ready for college English?

Eighty percent (that’s 80%) of high school juniors in California "are not ready for college English." "The scores reveal what I’ve been saying all along," said Jack O’Connell, state superintendent of public instruction. "We must make our high schools more rigorous if we want our students to be prepared."

Florida and Latinos

The Washington Post reports on a Florida poll it conducted (with Univision and the Tomas Rivera Institute). Note that while the article protrays a "deeply divided" and "deadlocked" state headed for another "photo finish," I am not persuaded that it is that simple. The poll says that it is 48-48 among likely voters. And then as you read on you discover that Bush’s job approval is at 51% (while Gov. Jeb Bush’s is 69%!), and terrorism and Iraq and the economy top the issues; "Bush is judged better able to handle terrorism and Iraq, but he and Kerry are statistically even on the issue of the economy. Asked which candidate they trust to handle the major issues facing the country over the next four years, Bush has a 49-to-47 percent edge among likely voters." And also note that Bush "holds a double-digit lead over Kerry on who is a stronger leader and trusted in a crisis, and has a smaller advantage on the question of who is more likeable." Then on to Latinos: Bush leads 61-32 and "Bush received 81 percent of the Cuban American vote, while Kerry captured 42 percent among Puerto Ricans, the second-largest Hispanic group in the state, and about 48 percent among Hispanics of all other nationalities." And yet, the impression the piece wants to leave is that Kerry is making inroads to Hispanic votes (rather than merely Cuban). Also note that WaPo claims that Cuban-Americans were underrepresented in the Survey "because the polling consortium missed predominantly Cuban neighborhoods when it selected its sample of precincts." Ooops, sorry about that! The article continues to give a false impression, yet, it eventually concedes that "The president has generally solid approval ratings among Florida Hispanics, with more than two in three saying they approve of the job he has done on terrorism. He receives just over 50 percent support for his handling of the economy, Iraq, immigration and relations with Cuba. In all cases, his ratings among Cuban Americans are significantly higher than among non-Cubans, although his ratings on terrorism top 60 percent with the latter group.

Bush holds a large advantage over Kerry among Cuban Americans and a smaller lead among non-Cuban Hispanics in Florida on who is trusted more to handle terrorism, Iraq, education, Cuban relations, immigration, abortion and same-sex marriage." And they are split even on the economy. By the way, in 2000, Bush won 32% of the Latino votes nation-wide, while Gore won 61%. Today, Kerry gets 54% of the Latino vote, while Bush 37%. I remind you that Karl Rove said a few years ago that if Bush could increase the nation-wide Latino vote by just 3% he couldn’t be beaten.
Rasmussen, by the way, has Bush up 49-46% in Florida and Mason-Dixon has Bush leading 48-44% (likely voters).

Calvin Coolidge

The good folks at The Corner have had a brief and useful conversation on Calvin Coolidge (scroll down a bit, the comments are scattered). Among the many useful things mentioned are the late Tom Silver’s wonderful little book, Coolidge and the Historians and Robert Sobel’s Coolidge: An American Enigma. You should also note Robert H. Ferrell’s The Presidency of Calvin Coolidge. That Coolidge is a much maligned and underestimated man you already know. He was the last president to write his own speeches, he translated Dante, he was a non-progressive thinker. See this great speech of his on the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the Fourth of July. I can’t resist two paragraphs (but do read the whole thing, please). Note the truth, the cadence:

"About the Declaration there is a finality that is exceedingly restful. It is often asserted that the world has made a great deal of progress since 1776, that we have had new thoughts and new experiences which have given us a great advance over the people of that day, and that we may therefore very well discard their conclusions for something more modern. But that reasoning can not be applied to this great charter. If all men are created equal, that is final. If they are endowed with inalienable rights, that is final. If governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, that is final. No advance, no progress can be made beyond these propositions. If anyone wishes to deny their truth or their soundness, the only direction in which he can proceed historically is not forward, but backward toward the time when there was no equality, no rights of the individual, no rule of the people. Those who wish to proceed in that direction can not lay claim to progress. They are reactionary. Their ideas are not more modern, but more ancient, than those of the Revolutionary fathers.

In the development of its institutions America can fairly claim that it has remained true to the principles which were declared 150 years ago. In all the essentials we have achieved an equality which was never possessed by any other people. Even in the less important matter of material possessions we have secured a wider and wider distribution of wealth. The rights of the individual are held sacred and protected by constitutional guaranties, which even the Government itself is bound not to violate. If there is any one thing among us that is established beyond question, it is self-government--the right of the people to rule. If there is any failure in respect to any of these principles, it is because there is a failure on the part of individuals to observe them. We hold that the duly authorized expression of the will of the people has a divine sanction. But even in that we come back to the theory of John Wise that ’Democracy is Christ’s government.’ The ultimate sanction of law rests on the righteous authority of the Almighty."    

Kristol on Kerry

Bill Kristol is very hard on Kerry for thinking that Cheney’s daughter is fair game in his unclever attempt not to talk about the gay marriage issue.

O’Reilly Factor

The latest scandal to come down the pike with the purpose to take down another so-called conservative icon (though I would strongly dispute that designation for Bill O’Reilly) illustrates again the childish intellectual tendency of the Left in America to think that pointing out individual acts of personal hypocrisy is enough discredit ideas. Why, if so-and-so can’t live up to his own notions of virtue then those notions of virtue must be unattainable! They must be wrong! Gotcha.

Yeah, that works in 6th grade debate class. But grown-ups have learned to think longer and harder than that. We have learned that truth does not depend any one person’s ability to live up to it.

That said, if O’Reilly is guilty of saying and doing the things he is accused of saying and doing I think every grown-up is also capable of judging for themselves exactly what he is all about. But it is preposterous to suggest that anyone exposed to such rude talk is entitled to collect $60 million. The solution to that is to expose him (pardon the pun) and go on your way. If you lose your job, so be it. I wouldn’t work for such a cad--let alone spend hours on the phone and out to dinner with him.

Overlooked Battleground?

No one is listing Oregon among the battleground states, but I’ve just seen a poll out of Oregon showing Bush with a 5 point lead (remember that Gore won Oregon very narrowly in 2000).

Moreover, Oregon has a defense of marriage initiative on the ballot, since this is another state where gay marriage has been attempted by political fiat. The gay rights organizations think Oregon is the one state they night defeat such an initiative, and is outspending the initiative proponents by a large margin. But the Riley poll I’ve seen shows the initiative ahead with 57% saying they will vote yes.

Ramirez Cartoon

Kerry as Neville Chamberlain

Victor Davis Hanson takes apart Kerry’s "nuisance" foreign policy. And William Tucker says that "Kerry is our Neville Chamberlain."   

Kerry and the Catholics

I forgot to mention last week that our parish "Respect Life" group had a drive for new and gently used baby goods for unborn babies at risk for abortion and their mothers. What was interesting about it is that the group is headed by a pretty vocal Democratic activist. When I approached the table to drop off our family’s contribution, I noticed a huge display on the election. There were transcripts of Kerry’s comments on abortion, including partial birth abortion, as well as President Bush’s comments. The implication was clear. There was no support for Kerry among even the Democratic Catholics involved. They were actively campaigning for Bush because they are actively campaigning for life. Republicans need to tend these young seedlings over the next few years--not just reap the benefits for this election.

This means explaining, in a much more convincing and clear way, the connection between a respect for life and other aspects of Republican social policy and fiscal policy. That means we have to explain the relationship between respecting life and respecting liberty as equally important and connected gifts from God. Bush calls it compassionate conservatism. Not bad, but not clear enough. We can do better.

Zogby-Reuters: Bush by 4

The latest Reuters/Zogby poll has Bush leading Kerry by a margin of 48-44. The poll was conducted over three days, and included one night of polling after the Wednesday debate. This is an increase over the previous Zogby poll, which gave Bush only a 1 point margin at 46-45.

Voter fraud

Robert Alt reviews John Fund’s Stealing Elections: How Voter Fraud Threatens Our Democracy in the current paper version of National Review (you have to be a subscriber to read it on-line). Good review of a good book. Timely.  

Bush’s flaw

John Podhoretz argues that it is a good thing that Bush’s one flaw--his tendency toward complacency--showed itself in late September rather than late October, as happened in 2000. 

Edwards’ snake-oil

Charles Krauthammer, a medical doctor who lives in a wheelchair, writes passionately against John Edwards’ remark in Iowa on Monday. Edwards famously said: "If we do the work that we can do in this country, the work that we will do when John Kerry is president, people like Christopher Reeve are going to walk, get up out of that wheelchair and walk again." Krauthammer is outraged! He thinks Edwards is a snake-oil salesman. Read it.   

All I need to know I learned in Kindergarten

File this under the category of "for what it’s worth": At my daughter’s kindergarten (where I am a teaching aide) the kids participated in the Weekly Reader version of the election today. Bush won by a margin of two to one. But this is not the best part . . . most of those voting for Kerry were boys. It was interesting because they came into the classroom with the very vocal intention of voting for Bush. So why did they switch to Kerry? When questioned about their reasons, these boys indicated that they were going to vote for Bush until they discovered that all the girls were voting for him. Then they figured they’d better switch! Gotta love ’em for that!

Debate transcript

Here is the WaPo transcript of the third debate.

Recap of the Debate

Five minutes before the debate was scheduled to begin, the power went out in my little burb. I felt like I was back in Baghdad. It flickered back on for a moment, only to crash for the majority of the debate. On the bright side, it did come back on in time for me to see the end of the Yankee and Red Sox game. So I have no particular insight on the debate, other than to direct you to National Review’s Expert Panel, which includes comments by our own Peter Schramm.  Schramm’s conclusion: "Combine that effervescent remark with his calm and serious explanation of his faith, and you have a decent and likeable man who people will like as president for another four years. There is no way Kerry can regroup from this." 

Why Boot is Supporting Bush

In the Los Angeles Times, columnist Max Boot explains that he hadn’t been terribly committed to Bush’s reelection campaign. He doesn’t agree with the president’s positions on gay marriage and stem-cell research, and he isn’t wild about the huge increase in discretionary spending that has occurred over the past four years. However, Matt Bai’s story in this past weekend’s New York Times Magazine has convinced him that a Kerry presidency would be a Very Bad Thing:

Kerry is offering Clinton redux. This focus on diplomacy and law enforcement, on treating Al Qaeda as if it were the Medellin drug cartel, may have been a plausible posture in the 1990s, when terrorism appeared to be a low-level nuisance. But 9/11 changed everything. Now we know that the jihadists would gladly incinerate one of our cities if they could get their hands on a nuclear bomb — and they won’t be deterred by the prospect of being arrested afterward.

Bush kicking donkey

Here is Joseph Knippenberg’s thoughtful take on the debate. A paragraph: "Remember, this is the debate that Kerry was supposed to win, hands down. His domestic positions were supposed to be more appealing than Bush’s, and the President was saddled with a recession and an agonizingly slow economic recovery. But Kerry’s relentless negativism grated after a while and managed also to distract us from what should have been his positive and hopeful message. Bush hit the nail on the head when he said, in effect, that a plan is not a litany of complaints. Although Kerry had his moments, he and his handlers have to be disappointed. He didn’t articulate a clear and coherent domestic program and didn’t even effectively make some of the more attractive promises he’d made in the past."

Powerline summarizes it all by saying that "Bush kicks donkey." I like it. Here is
Fred Barnes’ take on the matter. An interesting last paragraph: "Now here’s a strange twist on the debate. Bush was the winner in a focus group of uncommitted voters conducted by pollster Frank Luntz last night. The 23 voters thought Kerry, not Bush, won the debate. But they split 17 to 5 in favor of Bush on whom they now plan to vote for (one will vote Libertarian). ’They still don’t trust what John Kerry is saying,’ Luntz said, though they thought he said it well." Even Mickey Kaus thinks that the debate will help Bush. "It’s two hours after the event. I don’t remember many specifics. I do remember that Bush was personable, upbeat, human and articulate (he seemed to have gained about 20 IQ points since debate #1 while Kerry was near-funereal. He even looked like a mortician. Where’s the Man Tan when you need it?" Was it appropriate for Kerry to bring up Cheney’s daughter’s homosexuality? Mary Beth Cahill said (after the debate) that she was "fair game." Really, I groaned when I heard that. This will backfire on Kerry. Certainly, Lynn Cheney was not amused: "This is not a good man. Speaking as a mom, and a pretty indignant mom." She called his comment a "cheap and tawdry political trick."

W is for Women

If Bush was in trouble with women after the second debate (as Peter points out, via NRO and Rich Lowry, below) I think he made up for it tonight. He was at his best in discussing faith, family, and education without seeming "overbearing" or "judgmental". Above all, Bush’s wonderful and heartfelt response to the question of the "strong women" in his life was a homerun all around. It makes the famous "kiss" between Al and Tipper Gore at the 2000 Dem. convention look like child’s play. Everyone knows that the best foreplay for women is mental, not physical. Every woman watching that debate was thinking . . . "if only my husband would talk that way about me . . ." And Kerry’s lame, lame, lame--even damning--response to the question may be as bad for him with women as was Dukakis’s refusal in the 1988 debates, to defend the honor of his wife in the hypothetical event she was raped.

A quick take on the last debate

That Bush won this debate is beyond argument. He was aggressive, thoughtful, full of facts and talked about the future. Kerry was a bore. Every word he used he had used before. You did not see a mind working. Bush was especially good on taxes and education (and even had the chance to mention Kerry’s opposition to the Gulf War, finally!) and he was given a great opportunity for wit, and he took it, to his massive advantage. There is no way Kerry can re-group from this. This is what he is and it is now fully revealed. Bush will be re-elected.

Debate preview

Rich Lowry says this at The Corner:

Here is what one smart Republican insider thinks at the moment (quoting roughly): “It’s close. My sense was that we were up by 4 or 5. Now it’s down to a 0 to 1 or 2-point lead. If the election were held today Bush would still win, but it would be a long night. The first debate, people were willing to cut him a break. We’re seeing a cumulative effect of the two debates. The second debate, in particular, changed the dynamic among women. They thought he was too aggressive. The guys loved it, women were not quite as enthused. He didn’t do badly, but it moved. He lost ground among married women with kids and women over the age of 55. There has also been an erosion among independent males, but that may have more to do with the weak jobs number.

The bad news is that it moved, the good news is that Bush can get them back if he has a good performance tonight. Independent males will be paying particular attention to economic issues tonight. Marrieds with kids will be paying attention to education and domestic security. Women 55 and over will pay attention to health care, Social Security, and general economic issues. One thing I would look for is for Bush to be very strong on education. It’s an issue he knows well and is passionate about and I’m expecting it will be one of his real strengths in this debate. It was in 2000.

The next three to five days are a real inflection point that will set the equilibrium for the rest of the race. It will force one side or the other to try to change that equilibrium with paid advertising or through the media, and that’s going to be tough. Prior to the debates, the equilibrium was a 5-point Bush lead. Kerry had to change the equilibrium and he did. It’s just going to be a lot harder for one of the candidates to do that after tonight, through paid media. [Asked how Gore came back from a roughly 10-point deficit in October 2000.] If you look at it, among registered voters it was pretty much even in 2000. It shows how the registered voter number is the better one to look at. In 2000, it got toward the end, and African-American voters got fired up by their churches, and the union machines got engaged.”

Edward Prescott and taxes

Edward Prescott, who just won the Nobel Prize in Economics, had this to say about Bush’s tax cuts:
"’What Bush has done has been not very big, it’s pretty small,’ Prescott told CNBC financial news television.

’Tax rates were not cut enough,’ he said.

Lower tax rates provided an incentive to work, Prescott said."

P.J.’s advice for Bush

P.J. O’Rourke thinks Bush should say certain things in tonight’s debate. This is P.J.’s first suggestion, just to encourage you to read the other fifteen: "My opponent, Massachusetts senator John Kerry--or, as I like to think of him, Teddy Kennedy with a designated driver . . ."  


St. Louis Post-Dispatch says: "As of today, President George W. Bush’s campaign is no longer running TV ads in Missouri - reflecting the president’s confidence that he’ll carry the state on Nov. 2." The Kerry campaign ended its ads one week ago. Bush has had the lead in Missouri since early September, Rassmussen has Bush up 51-45.


This N.Y. Daily News calims that Bush may be giving up in Pennsylvania, he has no plans to visist a state that he has already visited 39 times. The Bush campaign is denying it. The L.A. Times runs a front-page story on the race in Pennsylvania. Nothing deep. Strategic Vision has Bush up by 2 points, and Qunnipiac has Kerry up by 2 points.

Bush and African-American churches

Joseph Knippenberg notes that the willingness of some black pastors to speak out in support of President Bush "may be an indicator of a modest movement away from the Democrats among African-American voters. A Pew poll conducted in late September found 12% support among African-Americans for Bush—not appreciably different from Bob Dole’s share of the vote in 1996—but a surprisingly low 73% level of support for John Kerry. John C. Green’s "American Religious Landscape" poll (completed in May, 2004) showed a six point decline in African-American Democratic identification from 1992 to 2004 (from 77% to 71%)." Here is John Green’s study Knippenberg refers to (PDF file, 57 pages). Knippenberg concludes:

"I’m hopeful for the future. Two years ago I argued that the faith-based initiative provoked so much Democratic opposition because it held out the promise of fundamentally changing the relationship between the needy and the state. Individuals embraced and assisted by a loving community would not long be clients of a welfare bureaucracy. Individual self-reliance—especially when embedded in a vital and vibrant community—is a good thing in itself. It’s bad only for those who want to rely on their clients for votes. And it may prove also to be good for the party that facilitated that independence. Not necessarily this year. But we can, I hope, be patient."  

Chechens and others

The Washington Times reports that the FBI is investigating the possibility that 25 Chechens entered the US via Mexico in July. James Q. Wilson reviews Richard Gid Powers’ book on the FBI for Commentary. Not only is this a very informative review on the "smoking guns" and the culture of the FBI that led them to be ignored, but he also reminds us, in recounting how badly the Zacarias Moussaoui case was handled, that Moussaoui was a member of a Chechen group with al Qaeda connections. Also note this piece from the Christian Science Monitor on Chechen-al Qaeda connections.

Last Thoughts on Derrida

I’ve had my nose down for weeks working on two books, two large lectures, and organizing a massive conference on climate change, so I have been neglecting my blogging duties here. The death of Derrida over the weekend has roused me from my single-minded focus. The New York Times headline was priceless: "Abstruse Thinker" it called Derrida.

But the real head-turner was the detail that has gone heretofore unmentioned: The announcement of Derrida’s death came from the office of French President Jacques Chirac. (Better known to our current president, rumor has it, as "Jackass Chirac.")

This raises some great possibilities from a potential Kerry presidency, since he so admires the French. In the spirit of Christopher Buckley, we may look forward to such White House announcements as:

"Kerry Expresses Concern for Stanley Fish Gall Bladder Surgery."

"Kerry Mourns Death of Noam Chomsky: Linguist Expires During Latest Rant."

"Kerry Alarmed at News of Cornel West Hemorrhoid Flare-Up."

"Kerry Joins Intervention to Get Michael Moore Committed to Weight Loss Treatment Program."

Other entries invited. . .

Fallujah turning against foreign fighters

This seems a promising report from the Washington Post: " Local insurgents in the city of Fallujah are turning against the foreign fighters who have been their allies in the rebellion that has held the U.S. military at bay in parts of Iraq’s Sunni Muslim heartland, according to Fallujah residents, insurgent leaders and Iraqi and U.S. officials.

Relations are deteriorating as local fighters negotiate to avoid a U.S.-led military offensive against Fallujah, while foreign fighters press to attack Americans and their Iraqi supporters. The disputes have spilled over into harsh words and sporadic violence, with Fallujans killing at least five foreign Arabs in recent weeks, according to witnesses."

Weird Madeleine

Madeleine Albright, Clinton’s Secreteray of State, in Maine: "’It´s a very simple issue. Bill Clinton lied, but nobody died,’ Albright said when asked, during a rally for Democratic candidate John Kerry, about her support for Clinton during his impeachment."
James Taranto asks: "No one died in Watergate either; does Albright think Richard Nixon should not have been forced to resign as president? And what does it say about the Democratic Party that its members are proud to declare their erstwhile leader a liar?"

Ugly Threats

You have probably heard that the Sinclair Broadcasting Group plans to air on its 62 stations a documentary on John Kerry’s antiwar activities, and their effect on American POWs in Vietnam. The left is, needless to say, up in arms about it, despite the fact that the Sundance Channel is airing an entire lineup of anti-Bush programming in the weeks leading up to the election.

What you may not have heard is the reaction of one Kerry campaign operative when asked by Fox News to comment on the impending broadcast: "They’d better hope we don’t win." The campaign has since claimed that no threat was intended. Uh-huh.

So, first there are attacks on Republican headquarters in various parts of the country. Now hints of retaliation by a Kerry administration against a media outlet. It really makes you wonder just what kind of people we’re dealing with here.

O’Rourke’s Debate Advice

In the Daily Standard, P.J. O’Rourke offers 16 pointsthat he would like to see Bush make in the next debate. Here are a few highlights:

(2) There are two organizations pushing for change in November--al Qaeda and the Democratic party. And they both have the same message: "We’re going to fix you, America." On the whole, the terrorists have a more straightforward plan for fixing things. They’re going to blow themselves up. Although, come to think of it, Howard Dean did that.

* * *

(8) No, it turns out Saddam Hussein didn’t have weapons of mass destruction. And how crazy does that make Saddam? All he had to do was tell Hans Blix, "Look anywhere you want. Look under the bed. Look beneath the couch. Look behind the toilet tank in the third presidential palace on the left, but keep your mitts off my copies of Maxim." * * *

(14) Let me tell you something, Senator Kerry. I don’t blame the U.N. for not supporting me in Iraq. The world is full of loathsome governments run by criminals, thugs, and beasts. When I mentioned "regime-change," hairy little ears pricked up all over the earth. Beads of sweat broke out on low, sloping brows. Blood-stained, grasping hands began to tremble. I had to put poor Colin Powell on the phone to various hyenas in high office and have him explain that America itself needed regime-change from 1992 to 2000. And we didn’t bomb the fellow responsible, and we only impeached him a little. Secretary Powell had to tell Kim Jung Il, Robert Mugabe, and Jacques Chirac to quit worrying and look at Bill Clinton and realize the fate that awaits them is a lucrative lecture tour, a best-selling book, and many willing, plump young women.

(15) Senator Kerry, you say you were in favor of threatening to use force on Saddam Hussein, but that actually using force was wrong. The technical term for this in political science is "bullshit."

Worth a few cups.   


Bush has apparently gained three points in the latest Zogby tracking poll, bringing him exactly even with Kerry. As earlier polls have suggested, newly registered voters lean toward Kerry by a 49-42 margin, while those who have voted at least once before prefer Bush, 48 to 44.

The Afghan election

Scott Norvell writes about the election in Afghansitan, you know, the one the media is not covering. Note this: "It was a regrettably typical comment from an American reporter in this part of the world. ’At least it’s news,’ he said of the Afghan election scuffle over the weekend. ’Otherwise, this is just a success story.’

God forbid it be a success story.

But that’s what it was here, no matter how hard the international media tried to spin it. There were no car bombs raining body parts all over the polling stations. There were no last-minute assassinations. There were no drive-by shootings. The best they could come up with for ’news’ was grumbling from hopelessly trailing opposition candidates about washable ink and threats of a boycott. The media’s disappointment was palpable." (Thanks to Instapundit).

The Kerry Tax Rate

Stephen Moore’s revelation that the Heinz-Kerrys paid a tax rate of only 12.8 % adds the charge of hypocrisy to his arrogance from the debate on Friday (i.e., his pointing out that his tax plan would only affect him, Bush and Gibson). The people who really will be hurt by a Kerry tax plan are not the incredibly rich, as he would have you believe, but regular people who are working their ***** off to be rich someday. Moreover, it hurts the working class people who hold jobs in the vast majority of small businesses that will be taxed at the higher rate Kerry proposes. But I guess these are facts that are just a "nuisance" to Kerry too.

The campaign and the Duelfer Report

Andrew Busch walks us through the Duelfer Report and how it is to Bush’s advantage. His concluding comment: "Finally, the report opens up to public view a line of attack against Kerry that has long been available to Bush but has not been emphasized. Saddam’s WMD program did not stop in 1991 as the result of some random decision when he closed his eyes and put his finger down on a calendar. It stopped because Operation Desert Storm stopped it. If U.S. intelligence overestimated Saddam’s WMD progress in 2003, it had vastly underestimated it before 1991. After the first Gulf War, it became clear to shocked analysts that Saddam was only months away from developing nuclear weapons. In January 1991, John Kerry voted against that war, the war that kept nuclear weapons out of Saddam’s hands at nearly the last possible moment. The Bush campaign could only gain by hitting this point hard for the next three weeks. It would remind people that Saddam had a record, that Kerry has a record, and that the liberation of Iraq was less the launching of a new war than the ending of an old one, twelve years late."

WaPo on Clarence Thomas

The Washington Post runs two articles on Clarence Thomas by Kevin Merida and Michael A. Fletcher. Here is the
First that appeared Sunday and this is the Second, which appeared today. Apparently, they have been reporting on Thomas for the last two years, and they will have a book out on Thomas next year (Doubleday). But, it turns out that they have a number of other articles on Thomas (seven, I think); see the box on the right on either of the two above. Although there is a lot of interesting stuff in these pieces, e.g., Thomas wields some political power, is friendly and well-liked, especially by his clerks, I am not sure what to make of it all. I’ll read it with more care the next few days. But do note that there are more than a few references to Thomas being at Ashland University (at the Ashbrook Center) in 1999. He is quoted from his AU appearance because the dinner speech he gave is on line ( here) and C-Span covered his conversation with the students before the dinner (not on-line). This article starts off with a reference to the talk at Ashland.

Turkey, polygamy, and the EU

The London Times says that a poll in Turkey shows that 63% of Turks say it is perfectly OK for one man to have more than one wife. A perfectly interesting article in other respects too, mentioning among other things the siege of Vienna in 1683 (hence the origin of the croissant, by the way), and the fact that in Turkis textbooks Attila the Hun is the first Turkish hero mentioned. The Turks are wanting in the EU, and the Europeans are confused. Surprise.

Electoral College numbers

This is CNN’s tally of the electoral votes: Bush 301, Kerry 237. (The numbers include solid leads as well as leaning toward.) Although CNN claims that the margin remains unchanged from last week, they maintain that Kerry’s threatening Bush’s lead in a number of battleground states. And this is RealClearPolitics’ version: Bush 264, Kerry 220. Real Clear has a useful chart. Pay special attention to Ohio, Iowa, and New Mexico (all are in the toss-up category according to Real Clear) during the next seven or eight days. Or, to put it more clearly, if Bush takes Ohio, Kerry can’t win. And, if Kerry takes Ohio, Bush can still win.

French Military on the March

Well, sort of. They’re taking part in a parade marking the Dia de la Hispanidad--a sort of Spanish version of Columbus Day. But, as John Miller points out in his NY Post article, the American Marines have been uninvited from participating in the event:

Three years ago, in a gesture of solidarity following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Spain asked the Marines to take part in this annual celebration. They were invited back in 2002 and 2003. It looked like a new tradition was in the making.

But Spain’s prime minister, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, has put a stop to that. "What does not continue," explained Defense Minister Jose Bono, "is subordination and getting down on our knees on orders from a foreign government."

Miller notes that "the United States has not ordered Spain to do anything — and that includes sending troops to Iraq last year . . . ." If there was any question after the Spanish retreat precipitated by the Madrid bombings, I think we can now say with confidence that Spain has joined the pusillanimous chorus that is Old Europe.

Bob Dylan no longer "tangled up in blue"...

Ignatius Boone sent me this note on Bob Dylan. It is based on a book a review in the Los Angeles Times (not available on line). Enjoy it.

OK, you aging Baby-Boom Conservatives, and baby-boom
high-achiever babies. You’ve known since 1980 that one thing only was
needed for a re-alignment in American politics and culture to be
consummated: Conservatives and conservatism must come to be seen as
"cool." But despite Dinesh D’Souza, Bobos, Ann Coulter, and Ahnold,
"cool" was as elusive for conservatives as the dead on arrival (and
departure) meanings of Jacques Derrida--RIP.

Now comes Bob Dylan--of all people--to the rescue. I haven’t
read the first volume of his autobiographical "Chronicles," just out,
but a review by Timothy Ferris in today’s LA Times quotes some culture
shifting lines that almost make me want to revisit the Sixties. A few

Aside from reporting that he was a fan of Ricky Nelson, the
Kingston Trio, Moon River, and wrestler Gorgeous George, Dylan puts in a
plug for consumerism, prime time television, and money-making. But
that’s just on the surface. As Ferris writes, Dylan "once dreamed of
graduating from West Point and dying gloriously in battle, and that he
raised his children to respect ’America, the country of freedom and
independence.’" Then--straight to the heart of the re-alignment, with
the pith of an American poet: "His favorite politician was Barry
Goldwater, ’who reminded me of Tom Mix.’"

But not quite to the deep American heart. To get his legs as a
young singer-songwriter, Dylan "started hanging out in an upstairs
reading room of the New York Public Library, reading hundreds of daily
newspapers, circa 1855-1865, on microfilm. The Civil War, when ’America
was put on the cross, died, and was resurrected . . . would be the
all-encompassing template behind everything that I would write.’"

So this Goldwater-, cowboy-, Lincoln-loving patriot-bard, out to
make an honest or dishonest buck, like any decent American, is
"[u]nwillingly dubbed the spokesman for his generation," and no matter
where he tries to hide, finds himself deluged by ’"gangs of dropouts and
druggies . . . [m]oochers . . . [g]oons . . . rogue radicals . . .
scarecrows, [and] stragglers’" from "all fifty states," and does what?
The obvious, all-American thing: he arms himself to the teeth! "with a
brace of repeater pistols and a clip-fed Winchester." ’"I wanted to set
fire to those people.’" But, of course, he is confronted with the sad
dilemma of all the true-blue Second Amendment faithful: The local chief
of police tells him that if there’s any shooting, "’it would be me that
would be going to the lock-up.’"

All right, so a little Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill sneak into
his repertoire--what are you: Platonists!? And besides, showing like a
true poet that he sees what everyone sees, but sees it first and more
clearly, Dylan records that even back when Dan Rather was a pup, he knew
what to think of the MSM: "’The press?’ he writes. ’I figured you lie
to it.’"

Kerry’s foreign policy

Here is Matt Bai’s long article published in The New York Times Magazine on Kerry’s foreign policy. It is very much worth reading, for it reveals more than it hides. And this is the Belmont Club’s take on it. As usual, very thoughtful. I like these two paragraphs:

"Bai’s article reminds me of one of those products which are described on the packaging as being a new space age, high-technology, portable illumination aid which on closer inspection turns out to be a flashlight. When the newfangled description of terrorism as a ’blended threat’ is subtracted, the entire program consists of the policies of the late 1990s. Bilateral talks with North Korea. Oslo. G-8. The United Nations. Warrants of arrest. Extradition requests. Not a single new element in the entire package, except the fancy rationale. There is nothing wrong with that, any more than there is anything objectionable about a flashlight, but a more candid characterization of Kerry’s proposals is not a voyage into uncharted waters so much as return to the world of September 10; in Kerry’s words ’back to the place we were’. It has the virtue of producing known results, and suffers only from the defect that those results do not include being able to prevent massive attacks on the American mainland.

Kerry’s world, in a way, is where one goes if George Bush’s vision proves false: the frying pan, as a place of refuge if one lands in the fire. As a negative vision it will always hold some attractions; which will grow in proportion to failures in the Global War on Terror and fade in proportion to its successes. Roger Simon succinctly described Bai’s article as a plea to return to ’business as usual’, a call to the past from ’the ultimate conservative’. It is heartbreakingly pathetic in its own way."   

Poll Update: Zogby Says Kerry Up by 3

A new Zogby-Reuters Poll has Kerry leading Bush 47-44, up two points from the Sunday poll referenced by Schramm below.

Tracking polls

The Washington Post tracking poll has it Bush 51, Kerry 46. Rasmussen tracking has it Bush 50, Kerry 46. And Zogby has Kerry leading 46 to 45.

The Nuisance of Terrorism

James Lileks, in a typical installment of the "Bleat"--typical in the sense that it leaps about from topic to topic--offers a witty but dead-on assessment of Kerry’s stated desire to get back to the days when terrorism was merely "a nuisance":

A nuisance? I don’t want the definition of success of terrorism to be “it isn’t on the rise.” I want the definition of success to be “free democratic states in the Middle East and the cessation of support of those governments and fascist states we haven’t gotten around to kicking in the ass yet.” I want the definition of success to mean a free Lebanon and free Iran and a Saudi Arabia that realizes there’s no point in funding the fundies. An Egypt that stops pouring out the Jew-hatred as a form of political novacaine to keep the citizens from turning their ire on their own government. I want the definition of success to mean that Europe takes a stand against the Islamicist radicals in their midst before the Wahabbi poison is the only acceptable strain on the continent. Mosquito bites are a nuisance. Cable outages are a nuisance. Someone shooting up a school in Montana or California or Maine on behalf of the brave martyrs of Fallujah isn’t a nuisance. It’s war.

As Lileks reminds us, the days when terrorism was a nuisance were the days when we were losing.

Kerry Blows the Second Debate

So claims William Saletan of Slate in his recent article. His article is largely an attempt to do what many of us would like to do--offer what "better" answers to debate questions on behalf of our respective candidates. In his case, the candidate of choice is Mr. Kerry. It is nonetheless interesting to note his belief that Bush won the debate--a sentiment with which I agree. We will see if the over-the-weekend polls reflect this belief as well.

Kerry’s National Defense Record

Robert Caldwell writes a long article in today’s San Diego Union-Tribune laying out Senator Kerry’s less than impressive record on national security. He goes through vote after vote cast by Kerry against key weapons systems, and points to position papers that Kerry issued during Cold War opposing weapons systems. He then goes to the heart of Kerry’s defense of these votes:

Kerry cannot pretend that these votes were only procedural technicalities. He cannot argue that the weapons systems he opposed were merely superfluous or, after 1991, Cold War relics. In case after case, these are the weapons American forces are using today.

Worth a read.