Massachusetts delegates wearing 'John Who?' on t-shirts, in reference to Democratic presidential nominee Senator John F. Kerry, (D-MA), are photographed during the second night of the 2004 Republican National Convention at Madison Square Garden in New York, August 31, 2004.
Tuesday, August 31, 2004
Massachusetts delegates wearing 'John Who?' on t-shirts, in reference to Democratic presidential nominee Senator John F. Kerry, (D-MA), are photographed during the second night of the 2004 Republican National Convention at Madison Square Garden in New York, August 31, 2004.
Amazing Race update – Well, Kami and Karli managed to avoid another last place finish in a large part due to Brandon and Nicole’s choice to pursue the Fast Forward. However, when the couple discovered the task involved cutting off all their hair, the professional models backed out. They came in last, but this (again?) was another non-elimination round so they’ll start the race next week without any money. Colin and Christie are simply unstoppable, grabbing their fifth first-place finish. Once again, Colin was a riot with his intemperate “I’m packing it!”
Jenna and Barbara Bush were a tad nervous and – let’s face it – a little painful to watch. They’re not exactly polished speakers and plowed through their laugh lines. But it almost didn’t matter because Arnold Schwarzenegger’s speech was simply superb. The Republican National Convention is a Hot Rod Lincoln hitting on all cylinders so far.
(Trivia fun: “Twins” was also the name of an Arnold movie! And thus we come full circle on this post).
Arnold Schwarzenegger just took the stage and he’s really working up the crowd with some personal stories. Robert Novak believes that Ah-nold could actually deliver Cal-ee-fornia for President Bush – “Schwarzenegger may hold key to president’s re-election.”
Extra – The PoliPundit, also an immigrant, has a personal response to Arnold’s story: “I'm a conservative Republican because of the same reasons Arnold is - because conservative Republicans believe in rewarding work and enterpreneurship. Because conservative Republicans want to combat socialism in every form. And that's more important to me than anything else.”
From the WashTimes: “Still no case for Kerry”
But biography is the past — or at best prologue. The question is what comes next. And in this context, Mr. Kerry was largely silent. I know, some will point to all the position papers the campaign has produced, and the intelligence of its advisers and the lines of substance about what lies ahead that actually were uttered during the convention and in the intervening weeks.The rumors are swirling that the Democrats are livid with the Kerry campaign and heads will roll. My guess is that Team Splunge will expunge all references to Vietnam for the next month now that they realize that approach is backwards-looking.
It doesn't matter. No one remembers a word of it. And the reason is that the biographical material crowded it all off stage. Yes, of course, Mr. Kerry needed to "introduce" himself to the American people. But that is not all he needed to do. It is now apparent that what should have been an elegant backdrop to the substantive case for a Kerry administration became itself the case in chief. To mix my theatrical metaphor, never mind the play: Look at the sets. Look at the actor.
From the American Spectator Washington Prowler:
On Wednesday, Sen. John Kerry intends to present a completely revamped speech to the American Legion. The speech, written largely by Kerry communications guru Bob Shrum, is intended to get the candidate some attention at a time when much of the media focus will be on New York and the GOP convention. "It's going to get him within the top two or three stories on the nightly news that night," says a Kerry adviser.For the wrong reasons, I’ll wager.
This one has Pennsylvania going to Bush, but Tennessee going to Kerry. Oh please: Tennessee didn’t go to Gore, for heaven’s sake.
I’ve got a crazy idea: Bush should spend some time campaigning in Hawaii. It has four electoral votes and a day in the oft-ignored 50th state could swing it Republican this year.
Glenn Reynolds has a great article on Tech Central Station today titled “A Media Meltdown?” that excoriates the mainstream media (MSM) for the very bias and journalistic sloppiness that it accuses blogs of perpetuating. I particularly liked this quoted heresy from Power Line:
A bunch of amateurs, no matter how smart and enthusiastic, could never outperform professional neurosurgeons, because they lack the specialized training and experience necessary for that field. But what qualifications, exactly, does it take to be a journalist? What can they do that we can't? Nothing.This immediately brought to mind an exchange from an episode of “Cheers” when psychiatrist Frasier Crane confronts a fortune teller:
Frasier: “You exploit vulnerable people, charging them huge fees for holding their hands and pretending insight into their problems.”Or, in the case of the MSM: “I’ve got this laminated press card and a long notebook.”
Fortune Teller: “How is that different from what you do?”
Frasier: [long pause] “I can prescribe drugs.”
Monday, August 30, 2004
John McCain’s speech was subdued, but that’s his style. He was forceful and sober (a little funny) and he got his point across on national security. A “B+” speech.
But Rudy Giuliani….oh sweet mercy…he’s just awesome. He was at turns direct, humorous, somber, conversational and, most of all, impassioned about his party, city, and country. A wonderful speech – it’s a pity that it wasn’t carried on the networks. The man is a national treasure. I’ll post the whole transcript when it’s available. It’s too good to excerpt.
Update: As promised, here's the transcript of Giuliani's speech.
OK, I’m overloading on politics right now, so let’s recap the last episode of the Amazing Race, the first after Team “Whiny and Tiny” were mercifully dispatched from the contest. Twins Kami and Karli (above) came in last but this was a non-elimination round, so they’re still alive but without money. On tomorrow’s show, the two fit, blonde Americans will have to flirt with Islamic men in Dubai to gain cash, presumably without resorting to prostitution. This will be quite a balancing act. Meanwhile, I have two words for Colin who tried to stiff a poor taxi driver out of $50: seek therapy.
Speaking of twins – Jenna and Barbara are hot hot hot (oops! back to politics!)
I don’t know what the answer to Iran’s nuclear ambitions is, but the Democratic ticket’s flippant and facile "plan" to address the problem is worse than irresponsible. From the WashPost “Edwards Says Kerry Plans to Confront Iran on Weapons”:
He said that, if elected, Kerry would ensure that European allies were prepared to join the United States in levying heavy sanctions if Iran rejected the proposal. "If we are engaging with Iranians in an effort to reach this great bargain and if in fact this is a bluff that they are trying to develop nuclear weapons capability, then we know that our European friends will stand with us," Edwards said.They “know” it! To Kerry/Edwards it’s an indisputable fact that the Europeans will be swayed to the U.S. point of view if we only speak to them slowly and make significant hand gestures to convey our deep concern. No other outcome is conceivable.
I’m putting my “pundit” status on the line to make the following prediction: after a cruel August, September 1st will be the single worst day for the disintegrating Kerry campaign.
I’m basing this prediction on two events scheduled for Wednesday: Kerry’s appearance before the American Legion and Zell Miller’s keynote address at the Republican National Convention.
Kerry is breaking with tradition to address the American Legion convention in Nashville, Tennessee; so, right from the start, he’s failing to extend the same courtesy to yield the spotlight that Bush did during the Democratic convention. It will smack of either political gamesmanship or just plain impoliteness (or, perhaps, creeping desperation?) And that’s before Kerry even opens his mouth. The American Legion is likely to give the Senator a cool reception, if the reaction of the Veterans of Foreign Wars is a precedent:
Kerry received his most enthusiastic response from 6,000 VFW members when he strongly advocated improving health care, disability and other benefits for veterans. But overall, he was received here far less enthusiastically than was Bush, who generated two standing ovations during his speech. By contrast, Kerry's audience offered cordial and polite applause, with one detractor heckling the Massachusetts senator.That meeting was before the Swift Boat Vets ad campaign really took off. By now the Legionnaires have fully digested the consequences of Kerry’s anti-war activities after he returned from Vietnam. They should be reminded of this also:
The RNC notes that Kerry criticized the VFW and American Legion in a 1971 book: "We will not quickly join those who march on Veterans Day waving small flags, calling to memory those thousands who died for the 'greater glory of the United States.' ... We will not readily join the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars," he wrote.Since Senator Splunge can’t make up his mind on troop deployments, watch for him to pander on veterans' health benefits (that the Bush administration increased funding by 40%). The problem with this approach is the upper-cut in this Wednesday one-two punch: Zell Miller’s primetime speech on John Kerry’s diaphanous Senate career
John Kerry's "miserable record" over the course of his 19-year Senate career will be a focus of Sen. Zell Miller's highly anticipated speech at the Republican National Convention, the renegade Georgia Democrat told The Post.In nearly two decades in the U.S. Senate, Kerry has sponsored three pieces of legislation that passed into law. When he bothers to show up at all, he has amassed arguably the most liberal voting record in the Senate, reflexively taking the Ted Kennedy line on economic and military matters. In the 1990s, as Al-Qaeda nefariously planned, John Kerry skipped 76% of the meetings of the Senate Intelligence Committee. There’s a reason John Kerry devoted a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it twenty seconds to his Senate career during his acceptance speech to the Democrats last month – he’s justifiably ashamed of it.
So, if my instincts are correct, Wednesday will be the day we will see with a new clarity the other sides of John Kerry. The American Legion meeting (with the help of the Swiftees) will remind us of the anti-war activist who called himself a hero even as he accused his “band of brothers” of war atrocities. Then Zell Miller will remind us of the Senator who consistently voted to raise taxes, block defense bills, and otherwise rubberstamp the decisions of the senior Massachusetts Senator.
And the hits just keep on comin'
[Hedgehog Report-style disclaimer: 40% of the bar patrons identified themselves as Democrats and 31% as Republicans]
Sunday, August 29, 2004
From US News & World Report: “War over war crimes – A new ad takes Kerry to task over what he said in 1971, but the truth is complicated”
Until a few weeks ago, John Brenner, department commander for Pennsylvania's Veterans of Foreign Wars, was leaning toward George W. Bush.That’s good!
Then he caught wind of a TV ad launched by an anti-John Kerry group accusing the Democratic candidate of lying to get medals in the Vietnam War. "I don't want to see them question anybody's record," says Brenner, 61, a Vietnam vet. "Especially if they got a Purple Heart and . . . shrapnel in their leg."Uh-oh…
But last week, Brenner saw a second ad from the anti-Kerry outfit--Swift Boat Veterans for Truth--which blasted Kerry for telling a Senate committee in 1971 that U.S. forces had committed atrocities in Vietnam. This time, Brenner's anger turned to Kerry and other antiwar protesters, who, he says, prolonged Vietnam and made it "hard on troops that were still over there."Better dispatch the trial lawyers!
And here’s another great one from John Podhoretz: “Not a bad place” – “Just before Kerry's convention, Bush pollster Matthew Dowd suggested Bush would begin this week 15 points behind Kerry — which was spin, to be sure, but surely even Dowd didn't expect that Bush would begin his convention ahead among likely voters in three major polls.”
Just out today: Bush – 213 / Kerry – 207 / Toss-up – 118
Over this past weekend, Arkansas, Virginia and Missouri moved from Toss-Up toLeans Bush. Minnesota moved from Leans Kerry to Toss-Up. Maine and Michigan moved in Kerry's direction--from Toss-Up to Leans KerryI also thought that the latest from Wisconsin should cause some heartburn for Team Splunge: Bush 48% / Kerry 45%
Extra: CNN also says Bush leads in electoral count: 274-264 (and that’s with Wisconsin in the Kerry column.)
And, holy poll positions Batman, things are looking up for President Bush heading into the Republican National Convention this week: the Real Clear Politics composite poll shows Bush/Cheney taking a small lead over Kerry/Edwards both in a head-to-head matchup and with Nader thrown in the mix. In fact, of the five national polls that are combined for the RCP average, only that left-wing Fox News poll shows Kerry with a small lead.
Wednesday, August 25, 2004
From Senator Splunge’s blog: “The Washington Post reports on the testimony of another Vietnam veteran eyewitness who contradicts the claims of the "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth." Minute by minute, day by day, the SBVT claims are washing away.”
Or not: “Swift Boat Veterans for Truth raised $1,764,000 in donations on website in past 2 weeks, sources tell Drudge.”
Jeff Jacoby is blinded by the obvious: “Some of Kerry’s biggest fans are in the press – Not much doubt who the media wants to win”
Earlier today, Solomon was in high dudgeon over Boston Globe columnist Thomas Oliphant:
The Globe's Thomas Oliphant continues to peddle the fantasy that the Mainstream Media are the guardians of the public good with regard to the SwiftVets movement -and that's how it strikes me, as a movement. These guys are driven.Wise Solomon: don’t you know that the mainstream media has the superhuman ability to cast aside bias and report the news in a factual and objective fashion? Certainly the minor detail that Oliphant’s daughter is working for the Kerry campaign has nothing – nothing whatsoever – to do with his leftist commentary:
Oliphant has no problem going into full attack mode on some veterans, veterans who also served, who were also wounded and decorated (and with the latest salvo, spent years in Vietnamese prisons) while defending his own man. I'm not sure how you just blow off as a smear the fact that the friends who support Kerry are outnumbered by those who oppose him by a factor of over 20 to 1.
I write now because the political junk is much higher profile now, though no less misleading -- and not, by the way, because in her fourth job in the public arena, my daughter just joined Kerry's staff.Perish the thought, Tommy boy!
Earlier today, Hugh posted this: “They [Camp Kerry] needed a big lead at this point in the race, and instead they have a dead-heat and the Swift Boat vets are chewing them up --because Kerry won't "meet the press."”
Before Kerry appeared on the “Daily Show” tonight, host Jon Stewart made some joke about how the Senator won’t go on “Meet the Press” but he’ll come on the “Daily Show.” I thought it was a pretty clean jab about how the Senator is avoiding tough questions. Zing!
Tuesday, August 24, 2004
Kerry came out with this unnatural grin on his face that only dissolved when he was required to make a "serious" point. His self-deprecating jokes were horribly forced and his rhetoric was as stale as week-old bread. (Are we really still talking about getting the French into Iraq? Oh my heck.) Take a big whiff America: there's a remote chance that this walking 2x4 could be President. He makes Michael Dukakis look like Robin Williams.
Monday, August 23, 2004
True story: my senior thesis at college was “Ceramic Nuclear Fuels” and part of the project was a contemporary review of the technology. At the time (1991) I postulated that the nuclear energy industry would experience a resurrection of sorts because the dual effects of spiraling fossil fuel prices and a resurgence in the environmental movement. To this latter point, I noted that the only waste caused by nuclear energy is spent radioactive material that could be reliably contained at the repository at Yucca Mountain in Nevada.
I noted in the report that nuclear waste would be active for 10,000 years but that Yucca sees so little rainfall that any water passing by the buried radioactive containers would not reach the water table for 9,000 years. My professor wrote in the margin: “What about the other 1,000 years?”
Um…we’ll all be living on the moon? Even the uber-leftist New York Times couldn’t furrow its brow at this far-out concern:
A federal appeals court decision has thrown a gigantic roadblock in the way of efforts to create an underground burial site for nuclear wastes at Yucca Mountain in Nevada. A three-judge panel in the District of Columbia ruled last month that regulators could not simply require the repository to contain the wastes for 10,000 years, the standard set by the Environmental Protection Agency, but must instead ensure that Yucca could function acceptably for hundreds of thousands of years. That standard is so outlandishly stringent it may not be achievable.If atomic energy were more readily available, America could reduce its dependence on coal-fired electricity generation, which accounts for the vast majority of electricity sources (nuclear and natural gas are a distant second and third). Oh but we hates that nuclear energy and we loves Nevada’s five electoral votes:
Congress will no doubt be reluctant to tackle the issue in an election year, especially since Senator John Kerry and other Democratic leaders, pandering shamelessly for the electoral votes of the battleground state of Nevada, have pledged to block Yucca.Holy cow, the NY Times said that? Are they also in cahoots with the Bush campaign? As Howard Dean would say: the timing is suspicious.
I smell a policy adjustment coming: "59% Favor Plan to Redeploy Troops from Europe, Korea"
Initial public reaction to a proposal for reducing the number of American troops in Germany and Korea is very positive.This is the trouble you invite when every position you have is "not Bush."
Fifty-nine percent (59%) of voters favor the plan which would station more American troops in the United States while reducing our presence in nations that dominated the Cold War era. A Rasmussen Reports survey found that 23% oppose the idea.
From Mackubin Thomas Owens in National Review on "John Kerry's Two Vietnams"
As a correspondent pointed out to me in an e-mail, each episode of the HBO series Band of Brothers, begins with a voiceover in which the narrator says of the World War II soldiers portrayed in the program: "I was not a hero, but I was surrounded by heroes." In contrast, what John Kerry is saying in essence about his "band of brothers" is that "in Vietnam, I was a hero, but I was surrounded by war criminals."Except for those who basked in the aura of JFK II.
Sunday, August 22, 2004
I read the article in today’s Washington Post titled “Swift Boat Accounts Incomplete” and it was the epitome of journalistic integrity: well-researched, fair, and factual. It put this NY Times hit piece to shame; do they even remember what the word “objectivity” means anymore?
Let’s put it this way: even John O’Neill of the Swift Boat Vets cited the WashPost article on “This Week” today, while Clintonista mouthpiece John Podesta argued that military service is the sine qua non of presidential qualification. Unless you’re a governor from Arkansas, then, oh...nevermind.
Saturday, August 21, 2004
Even I, a hopelessly partisan conservative, thinks Jayson Javitz is a tad too sanguine in his latest post of political predictions.
But, golly, he makes some good points: “You could not have scripted a worse approach than the one Kerry has taken [to the Swift Boat Vets controversy]. In some respects, it boggles the mind.”
Forget about Vietnam already:
The Rasmussen Reports survey also found that 76% say Kerry's political career since Vietnam matters more than his career in Vietnam. In terms of Election 2004 voting decisions, only 9% take the opposite view and say that Kerry's combat experience is more important.This is devastating news for the candidate who has framed his qualification for the presidency entirely on four months in Vietnam. Because, as FactCheck noted, if you look at Kerry’s career, well, to paraphrase Gertrude Stein: “There’s no there there.”
John Kerry is fond of saying "I led the fight" on a lot of things -- against Arctic drilling, against Bush's Medicare prescription drug legislation, for federal grants for 100,000 new police officers, against Newt Gingrich's attempts to lessen environmental regulations.Always remember: (unless you’re a Gloucester fisherwoman) after two decades in the Senate, John Kerry has done almost nothing to help ordinary Americans. No wonder he only wants to talk about Vietnam.
But reporters who cover Congress often gave others credit for the leading roles in some of those fights -- with scant mention of Kerry.
And The Associated Press last July found that only eight laws had Kerry as their lead sponsor, five of them "ceremonial," two relating to the fishing industry, and one providing federal grants to support small businesses owned by women.
[Cross-posted on Blogs for Bush]
He can dish it out: [Kerry spokesperson Stephanie] Cutter sought to turn the argument over presidential readiness back on the White House. "Mr. McClellan needs to understand that John Kerry is not the type of leader who will sit and read `My Pet Goat' to a group of second graders while America is under attack," she said.
But he sure can’t take it: “Kerry Calls on Bush to Demand a Halt in 'Personal' Attacks by Critics of His Vietnam War Record”
Funny, I don’t recall Senator Kerry condemning Michael Moore, Americans Coming Together, or MoveOn (at least until after the Swift Boat commercial aired.) What a flake.
Friday, August 20, 2004
NYT: “Kerry's defense may have come too late, some say”
No thanks to the mainstream media. Score one for the bloggers!
"They made a strategic mistake," Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg Public Policy Center, said of Kerry's campaign. "The ad has been largely effective because it wasn't rebutted."
A senior political consultant who is close to the Kerry campaign agreed. "I think the campaign was slow to respond to this," the person said. "And with some justification. The rule book says don't help somebody sell their book. But on this one, it just seemed to take on a life of its own."
OK, I'm all caught up on my blog updates after my mini-vacation. A couple of blogs are covering the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, their new ad, and the NY Times hit piece. They're all listed to the left (except for, maybe, Medical Rants).
So I was wrong: this story is big news and only looks to get bigger, despite the laughable efforts of the NY Times to bury it under ad hominem attacks.
A couple of blogs with (I thought) particularly good coverage: Blogs for Bush, Betsy's Page, Hugh Hewitt, and Powerline. The New England Republican had a good review of the Swifty's second ad and I found myself nodding with gusto to this post from DGCI:
John Kerry has a big problem, you see. Repeat after me:Hoisted by his own petard - that's all.
He. Made. Vietnam. A. Campaign. Issue.
He did. Not the Swift Vets. How many times during the primaries did Kerry refer to his Vietnam service and try to tell us how his four months of combat experience qualify him to be Commander in Chief? How many?
He's the one who showed up at the Convention with his half-assed salute and ludicrous "reporting for duty" line.
He's based his entire campaign on it. He WANTED it to be an issue, because his lackluster Senate record is nothing to run on.
I did not believe that the allegations by the Swift Boat Vets would affect the presidential race much at all. Honestly, I thought the news that Kerry missed 76% of the Senate Intelligence Committee meetings would be more damaging. But when the alpha and omega of your presidential campaign is four months in Vietnam, any challenge to that narrative can be devastating.
I’m still not convinced, but judging by the reaction of the Kerry campaign, they’re somewhere between nervous and scared silly (getting the FEC to ban the Swifty ads? Please.) Watch how they react to the new commercial focusing on Kerry’s testimony to Congress as a member of Vietnam Veterans against the War. It’s certainly one aspect of Kerry’s biography curiously absent from his campaign so far.
Wednesday, August 18, 2004
Tuesday, August 17, 2004
Oh, I’m so very happy. The insufferable team of Mirna and Charla were eliminated on tonight’s episode of “The Amazing Race 5.” For the uninitiated, the show has eleven teams of two racing around the world, performing various challenges along the way. The show (apparently) sought out a “little person” to compete and thus we were forced to endure the endless self-martyrdom of whiny Mirna and tiny Charla who reminded us 5-50X a show that “they were just as strong as the other teams!”
They then used Charla’s “handicap” to gain favor from unsuspecting persons all over the globe demonstrating they were not as good as the other teams, unless it was in the sport of playing on people’s sympathies. Even at the end, viewers weren’t spared a huge plate of self-glorifying pity (“I had to work triple-hard as everyone else!”) Here’s the world’s smallest violin for you, Charla. Good riddance.
In the race for the 1992 Democratic nomination, former Massachusetts senator Paul Tsongas ran commercials showing him vigorously swimming laps in a pool. Although (if memory serves me) the voiceover noted how he fought against special interests and such, the message was obvious. Tsongas had recently recovered from cancer and his swimming spot was designed to assure voters he was healthy enough to run for President.
I was reminded of this upon reading the first sentence of this article: “Senator John F. Kerry spent yesterday afternoon on a 22-mile bike ride through the Idaho mountains…”
Biking, snowboarding, windsurfing, kite-surfing. We know Kerry is an active person, but the constant drum-beat of conspicuous activity is starting to look like ostentation. Kerry recently went under the knife for prostate cancer. Is he trying to show that he’s fully recovered…or is it possible he’s trying to cover up something more troubling?
Driving around Western Massachusetts, particularly the Berkeley of the East (Amherst), I see a lot of bumperstickers. My favorite of all time is “Free Tibet” because it encapsulates exactly why liberals deserve ridicule, which Mark Steyn heaps on in this article about Europe:
Europe is free to flaunt its "concern" – and even its "deep concern" – over the Eastern Congo precisely because it's entirely irrelevant to events in the Eastern Congo. As Stephens points out, European countries now have attitudes in inverse proportion to the likelihood of their acting upon them. They're like my hippy-dippy Vermont neighbours who drive around with "Free Tibet" bumper stickers. Every couple of years, they trade in the Volvo for a Subaru, and painstakingly paste a new "Free Tibet" sticker on the back.Right on.
What are they doing to free Tibet? Nothing. Tibet is as unfree now as it was when they started advertising their commitment to a free Tibet. And it will be just as unfree when they buy their next car and slap on the old sticker one mo' time.
The Boston Herald thinks that the Bush campaign landed a “solid blow” by criticizing John Kerry’s serial absenteeism from the Senate Intelligence Committee:
We don't normally get too worked up about an elected official's attendance record at congressional committee meetings. The real work of legislating often gets done elsewhere. But given the weight Kerry himself has given his congressional experience with intelligence oversight and his stated desire to ``reform the intelligence system,'' his record of missing 76 percent of public Senate Intelligence Committee hearings - and every one in the year after the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center - is surely fair game.Once again, I need to ask: Why is Kerry drawing a salary?
Monday, August 16, 2004
I can’t stop chuckling at this line from a Kerry interview with GQ magazine:
The fictional character Kerry most identifies with: "There's a little Huck Finn in me; there's a little Tom Sawyer in me ...”So which characterization is most apt?
1.) Huck aimless and adrift on a river, with no apparent direction
2.) Tom tricks others into doing work for him
3.) Their proclivity to tell outlandish lies
4.) Huck gets a rich widow to take care of him
The “hostile policies” are that the U.S. refuses to give more food and energy aid to North Korea if they insist on pursuing a nuclear weapons program. So far, the Koreans have offered exactly nothing in exchange. Since nuclear blackmail worked so well under the past administration, NK thinks it will work again. Nope.
I can’t understand where those Ohio voters get the notion that John Kerry is a Martha’s Vineyard snob. From ABC News:
As his plane was flying from Oregon to Idaho on Saturday, Kerry defended his taste in sports, saying, "The guys who do it are all local guys -- plumbers, construction workers."“Mon dieu, that’s less than the cost of Chateau Margaux 1981!”
Asked if these regular folks fly from one state to another, the husband of the condiment heiress downplayed the cost, saying, "What? 250 bucks for a ticket?"
Luckily for Kerry, the moment was not on camera. But it was the kind of moment -- if captured on camera -- that could undo months of work.
Adding fuel to the fire: Kerry flies in hairstylist for a touch-up.
Please Mr. Sandman, send me a story about voters from a critical battleground state who are not buying into the empty rhetoric of the Kerry campaign. Some choice quotes confirming all my criticisms about Senator Splunge would be nice.
*Poof!* - “In Ohio, doubts remain on Kerry – Sample sees Bush as better defined”
"He [Kerry] hasn't done anything to even try to close the deal," she said. "He just keeps saying, 'I'm not Bush and this is why,' and it's a valid point, but so many other valid points need to be made."Thank you, Mr. Sandman!
"If you do elect Bush, you know what direction he's going to go," said Robin King, 39, a print-shop coordinator at the First Christian Church in Canton, and a Bush supporter. "You don't know anything that Kerry's going to do. You can guess from what he says, but he doesn't really hit hard on any of the questions."
Ed Beegle, 53, a retired UPS driver who voted for Bush in 2000 but is still undecided this year, said Kerry "never commits to nothing."
"I don't think Bush has done as good a job as I think he could have, but I think he's doing a better job, and I trust him infinitely more than I trust the Democrats in general and Kerry in particular to lead us through these tense times," Cohodas said.
"A lot of New England people think Ohio people and this region's people are stupid," said Gaul, who regularly watches the talk show of Boston native Conan O'Brien. "They always make fun of Cleveland, and like this is a corn state. My impression is that New England people often think Midwesterners are stupid."
King said: "They talk like that about people in Ohio, yet we're the deciding vote. What's funny is, the corn people know.”
Sunday, August 15, 2004
Update: Well, it looks like Chavez held on in “The only OPEC nation to ever hold an election.” It’s always a wonderment to me these countries that are knee-deep in black gold have so much internal conflict.
With a hat tip to Andrew Stuttaford, here’s an excerpt from Christopher Hitchens in the New York Times, reviewing a trio of books on Senator Splunge:
If Kerry is dogged and haunted by the accusation of wanting everything twice over, he has come by the charge honestly. In Vietnam, he was either a member of a ''band of brothers'' or of a gang of war criminals, and has testified with great emotion to both convictions. In the Senate, he has either voted for armament and vigilance or he has not, and either regrets his antiwar vote on the Kuwait war, or his initial pro-war stance on the Iraq war, or his negative vote on the financing of the latter, or has not. The Boston Globe writers capture a moment of sheer, abject incoherence, at a Democratic candidates' debate in Baltimore last September:This is a great line too: “When critical votes on [Iraq] come up, Kerry always looks like a dog being washed.” I’ve seen that look on my dog.
''If we hadn't voted the way we voted, we would not have been able to have a chance of going to the United Nations and stopping the president, in effect, who already had the votes and who was obviously asking serious questions about whether or not the Congress was going to be there to enforce the effort to create a threat.''
And all smart people know how to laugh at President Bush for having problems with articulation.
Saturday, August 14, 2004
Extra: The Man without Qualities weighs in also: “Even after Professor Fair does his best to disabuse her of her prejudices, it never seems to occur to Ms. Solomon that the only reason anyone pays special attention to Professor Fair is that very reputation for predictive accuracy.” Must…resist…New York Times and accuracy joke...
I may be the only anti-Kerry blogger who has not posted something about his secret trip to Cambodia (or not) thirty years ago. I'm sure it's personally gratifying to expose Kerry's (ahem) "exaggerations" but I think it's a distraction. Bush supporters need to keep the eyes on the prize and present a vision for America in the post-9/11 age while criticizing Kerry in the context of his anemic Senate career. The Democrats meditated on the past at their convention and suffered for it. On this matter, I could not agree more with Charles Krauthammer:
Politically, though, I think the whole Swift boat campaign is not very smart. It focuses attention on Kerry's one strong point. The man has nothing to say about his next 30 years. His own emphasis on his Vietnam days is a brilliant distraction from his mediocre Senate career and his unbroken string of misjudgments about the national security requirements of the United States: supporting the idiotic nuclear freeze, opposing crucial Pershing II missile deployments in Europe, opposing support for the Nicaraguan anti-communist insurgency, voting against the Persian Gulf War, trying to cut post-Cold War intelligence funding. The list is long.Bush was wise to praise Kerry's service in Vietnam in his Larry King interview. Bury this issue and focus on the Senator's twenty years in Washington where he has consistently voted the wrong way on national defense, intelligence, and taxes.
Friday, August 13, 2004
Two trillion dollars. That's how much additional spending John Kerry is proposing over the next ten years, according to "The Kerry campaign's funny math." He'll pay for it by raising taxes on the rich and actually cutting taxes for the middle class.
Boston Globe: “Far from putting an end to questions about his position on Iraq, Kerry reopened the debate earlier this week when he responded to Bush's demand that he state "yes or no" whether he would have authorized the war even knowing no weapons of mass destruction would be found. Kerry said he would. He also promised that under his leadership the United States would wage a "more effective, more thoughtful, more strategic, more proactive, more sensitive war on terror that reaches out to other nations and brings them to our side."”
John at Discriminations quips: “So, Kerry would be "more proactive" than Bush ... but less pre-emptive. Whew, I'm glad we've got that cleared up.”
The Bushes were great in their interview with Larry King last night. President Bush was relaxed, funny, and confident.
KING: Senator McCain has been very strong in condemning [the Swift Boat ad] and he's very strong endorsing you...
G. BUSH: Yes, he is. Senator Kerry is justifiably proud of his record in Vietnam and he should be.
G. BUSH: You know, I don't want to prejudge the facts. But I do know that Chalabi came with a...
KING: I keep saying Chalabi.
G. BUSH: That's all right.
KING: You pronounce it better than me.
G. BUSH: That's the only word I pronounce better than you.
KING: You are going to the dedication of his [Clinton’s] library, right?
G. BUSH: I am, hopefully as a reelected president.
One thing to consider when comparing Gallup to other media-driven polls is that polling is all that Gallup does, so their reputation is on the line. Therefore, today’s report should bring some cheer for the GOP going into the weekend:
A new Gallup Poll shows a slight improvement in President George W. Bush's overall job approval rating, while the presidential contest remains essentially unchanged. In a two-way contest with Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, Bush enjoys a slight lead among likely voters, 50% to 47%, little changed from the 51% to 47% lead he enjoyed in a July 30-Aug. 1 poll.This poll shows President Bush with a 51% approval rating among likely voters.
Thursday, August 12, 2004
Here's my half-assed contribution: "Flipper's Delight" (with apologies to the Sugarhill Gang)
I said a flip-flop the hippie is flippingCatchy, no? My favorite entry was the one done to the Eagles' "Take it Easy"
To the flip flip flop, you don’t stop
The crock to the bang bang boogie say up jumped the boogie
To the flippety flippety beat
Well, I was cycling down the roadSing along to them all!
In my tight French clothes
I had seven viewpoints on my mind
Four wildly liberal
Two wildly liberal
One, a token moderate line
After reading about Kerry’s perfunctory pandering to Nevada voters, I was prepared to write a longish post about how Senator Splunge will say whatever is required on energy policy, depending on what state he’s in.
Michigan? I have an SUV!
California? That’s not mine. It’s my family’s.
Iowa? I love ethanol
West Virginia? I love coal (please ignore my voting record!)
Nevada? No to Yucca Mountain
Massachusetts? A wind farm off Nantucket will harm…my view of the ocean.
Even his own advisors are saying (off-record) that Kerry’s diatribe against foreign oil in general and the Saudis in particular is “asinine.”
In any case, James Pinkerton has a great article on Tech Central Station tying together all these loose ends: “Remember the Energy Crisis? It’s Back.”
Steven Taylor writes: “These kinds of pronouncement from the Senator continue to confirm my view that he really does not have a firm position on Iraq, that both his votes (for the resolution and against the $87 billion) were both political calculations, and that he is trying to say whatever he thinks the swing voters want to hear.”
This is exactly correct: Kerry cannot extricate himself from those votes and each passing day brings a more outlandish explanation for them. The “yes-no” vote was a breathtakingly cynical and ultimately indefensible gambit. Consider the following vote combinations on both the Iraq war resolution and the $87 billion supplemental funding:
Yes/Yes – A hawkish, but defensible, vote combination to support both the President and the troops.
No/No – A dovish, yet principled, vote against all aspects of the war.
No/Yes – You were against the war, but with troops in the field, it’s necessary to support them.
Yes/No – In the most charitable definition I can conjure: you voted to give the President authority to go to war. He did (although not the way you would have!) and then you withheld funding for the troops…why?
The New Yorker reveals:
Bush has lately claimed the Iraq war to be a Kosovo-like “humanitarian intervention,” but that notion has never had more than a minuscule following among Democrats; and although Dean’s candidacy imploded in Iowa, and voters united around Kerry as the best bet to beat Bush, a deep vein of disapproval for his Iraq votes still runs through the Democratic base.This past week, President Bush managed to pin Kerry down on one issue and it proved disastrous for the Senator, leading to grumbling among Democratic staffers that Kerry had been duped by Bush (again!). Over the next couple of months, Senator Splunge will have to reconcile his positions for a dozen other issues on which he’s vacillated, equivocated and flip-flopped. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but to echo Matt Margolis: bring on the debates!
That unease is compounded by the obvious political calculation of Kerry’s vote last fall to withhold eighty-seven billion dollars of auxiliary support for the military in Afghanistan and Iraq. As one of his advisers put it to me, “Off the record, he did it because of Howard Dean. On the record, he has an elaborate explanation.” Kerry originally supported an amendment sponsored by Senator Joseph Biden that would have funded the war by temporarily reducing Bush’s tax cuts to the wealthiest one per cent of Americans. But Biden’s bill had no chance of passing in a Republican-dominated Senate, and Kerry’s absurdly abbreviated account of the matter—“I did vote for the eighty-seven billion before I voted against it”—has left him open to relentless Republican ridicule. Biden himself ultimately voted for the money, and he confirmed that Kerry’s decision not to was “tactical,” an attempt “to prove to Dean’s guys I’m not a warmonger.”
Wednesday, August 11, 2004
Problem: your house is infested with bugs. But you can't in good conscious use pesticides. Well, if you're a rich Kennedy, there's always a ready solution!
Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is considering burning down his Mount Kisco home and rebuilding it from scratch because it's so infested with bugs.Oops!
Our wag in Westchester claims that Kennedy, a crusading environmentalist, is considering torching his family home because it's overrun with "something like termites, but not termites." Apparently in some circles, setting a home ablaze is considered more ecologically sound than simply spraying it with chemical pesticides.
When we called Kennedy for comment, he told us: "I urge you not to write this — it will damage the value of my house." He added: "We don't know what we're going to do," and declined further comment.
Tuesday, August 10, 2004
After much gnashing of teeth and searching for old Blogger templates, everything's back in order (I think). Let's take a brief non-political interlude. Via FauxPolitik, here's a really interesting list of origins of company names. So that's where they got the name Xerox!
Monday, August 09, 2004
If you wanted to pick a candidate on the wrong side of every major defense and foreign policy question of the last two decades, you would be hard put to find anyone with judgment as comprehensively poor as Mr. Kerry: total up his votes and statements on everything from Grenada to the Gulf war, Saddam to the Sandinistas, the Cold War to missile defense to every major weapons system of the 1980s and '90s. He called them all wrong.To be fair, Kerry was just following Ted Kennedy's
Did you ever see the Simpsons episode where Homer runs for sanitation commissioner? He defeats his opponent with a feel-good slogan: “Can’t somebody else do it?” Of course, Homer’s policy of pawning off responsibility leads to disaster.
Speaking of disaster, it’s hard to believe the Kerry campaign allowed their candidate to submit this painfully witless article to USA Today – “Plan is to bring troops home.” Descending immediately into self-parody, it begins:
I know what our troops go through when they carry an M-16 in a dangerous place and can't tell friend from foe.No contextual background is provided for this important issue (pssst! It’s Iraq). Instead, let’s review the most important topic to John Kerry: John Kerry. Here we learn, in a heap of solipsism, that he carried an M-16 in some dangerous venue, probably Nantucket.
But I digress. Kerry has a plan to stabilize Iraq in four parts. I’ll summarize them:
1. Greater international involvement
3. This is not a task for America alone
4. Involve our allies
That’s the whole plan: let’s get somebody else to do it. The USA Today editorial page ran an editorial in the same paper criticizing the hollow strategy: “Missing in action: Kerry's complete strategy for Iraq.”
Both [Kerry and Bush] want more international military and financial help, a stable and relatively democratic government, an intensive training of Iraqi security forces and a gradual drawdown of U.S. troops. But who wouldn't? The question is how to get there.And the LA Times today noted that none of the Europeans are giving any indication they’re willing to provide troops, and certainly not at the levels that would allow significant American troop withdrawals as Kerry has promised. This is all shadow and fog, and a great disservice to the American troops with whom Kerry supposedly empathizes.
More: Blogs for Bush reviews the “plan” and waxes poetic: “John Kerry, how do I ridicule thee? Let me count the ways…”
Outside the Beltway: “With all due respect, Senator, it isn't a plan. It's a series of platitudes basically saying nothing more than "We're going to do exactly what the Bush Administration has been doing but it's going to somehow work when we do it."”
Priorities: “A Failed Plan from the Start?” (with background from the LA Times article)
And Professor Bainbridge has some thoughts too.
Writing in the Houston Chronicle, Michael Tanner asks: “How would you fix Social Security, Sen. Kerry?”
When it comes to Social Security reform, John Kerry is clear about what he is against.Kerry’s entire campaign is built on “not Bush.” Eventually, he’s going to have to come up with some answers of his own.
``I will not privatize Social Security,'' he declared in his acceptance speech to the Democratic National Convention. ``I will not cut benefits.'' The Democratic Party as a whole takes the same position through its party platform: ``Democrats believe in the progressive, guaranteed benefit that has ensured that seniors and people with disabilities receive a benefit not subject to the whims of the market or the economy. We oppose privatizing Social Security or raising the retirement age.''
It is a clear, resounding message... that says absolutely nothing about what Sen. Kerry or the Democrats would do to solve Social Security's looming financial crisis.
Teresa goes off-script again:
Teresa Heinz Kerry, the candidate's Mozambique-born spouse who has become known for her unscripted utterances, spoke of her deepest fears when talking about her love of American democracy.Oh Mama T…we have strict orders from Lord Protector Ashcroft and Il Duce Rove: no lynchings until after the election.
"We don't have to fear being hung from a lamppost or shot or sent to jail. Not yet. Not yet. And please God, not ever," she said.
Sunday, August 08, 2004
Right Wing News provides some humorous examples of historical moments when John Kerry might have wavered, vacillated, or flip-flopped.
I’d love to do a Kerry-esque parody on Winston Churchill’s resolute and unambiguous address to the House of Commons in 1940, but to do so would cheapen a moment in time when a leader stood before the people and made his position transparently clear.
Meanwhile, Fark notes: "5.6% unemployment rate under Clinton = good, 5.5% unemployment under Bush = bad" while linking to this story. Oh, those inconvenient facts.
FWIW - Even after all the half-dropped balloons of the Democratic convention, Bush pulls ahead (ever so slightly) in the Rasmussen tracking poll.
More interesting than the insignificant 1% lead is the Pennsylvania poll showing a dead heat in the Keystone State. This should make the Democrats cringe:
In Pennsylvania, 53% of all voters Approve of the way President Bush is performing his job. That's up six points from a month ago and close to his national Job Approval rating.C’mon Pennsylvania!
Friday, August 06, 2004
Charles Krauthammer says there was “no bounce for Kerry” because the Democratic Convention was backwards-looking and never presented a clear vision for the future. This is precisely why I’m steering clear of the Swift Vets controversy. It’s 20th century, it’s September 10th, it’s another age and time.
If anything, this presents a huge opportunity for Bush to stage a “Sister Souljah” moment. He doesn’t need to denounce the Swift Vets (as John McCain suggested) but simply state that this election is about the future direction of the country and we should focus on the issues that matter. It would be the Presidential thing to do, and it would shine in stark contrast to this.
SIR – You should be frightened at the thought of the world's dominant economy being taken over by a liberal Democrat with no real experience in administering anything of any note. Governing a state or at least running a big governmental entity is usually a vital prerequisite to overseeing the sprawling federal bureaucracy. Being so distant politically from the mainstream of the body politic ensures that a Kerry-Edwards administration would be mired in legislative gridlock from the start. The thought of them, in over their heads, turning to the likes of Edward Kennedy and Bill Clinton for political sustenance could only excite the naive or those without America's best interests at heart.Ron Goodden
From Jonah Goldberg: “With the constant promises from almost every speaker at the Democratic Convention that a President Kerry would create "strong alliances" as his backdrop, John Kerry declared this week that he will pursue a "more sensitive war on terror that reaches out to other nations and brings them to our side."”
From the Boston Globe: “Addressing the crowd, Kerry's wife, Teresa, took a swipe at the Bush administration. "You cannot solve problems by throwing stones, and you cannot solve problems by telling lies, and you cannot solve problems by wishing ill to other people," she said. "The only way you solve problems is by holding hands and talking about it, and that's what we want to do in this campaign."”
When did Oprah become a campaign advisor?
Minor silver lining: unemployment rate edged down to 5.5%.
And then there's this:
US President George W Bush offered up a new entry for his catalogue of "Bushisms" today, declaring that his administration will "never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people".Not helping, George.
Thursday, August 05, 2004
I've been telling my incredulous work-mates for months that "it's not going to be close" and that Bush will win re-election handily with well over 320 electoral votes. They shake their heads sadly and wander off...but "Tom Paine" knows what I'm talking about!
It's not even going to be close. Bush is going to beat Kerry like a red-headed step-child, the electoral college result will be so one-sided the Democrats will wonder why they ever thought Kerry stood any chance of being even faintly competitive, George McGovern will have to move over one place in the Ultimate Loser Hall of Fame, and Michael Moore will have to be put on suicide watch.Testify, brother, testify!
Mark Kilmer discusses the true nature of opposition to President Bush by way of this post by Eric Erickson. The abridged version is this: are Americans – even moderate Democrats – so hardened against the President that there’s no chance they would vote for him? I don’t think so and the Man without Qualities makes a similar argument with the example of California: even in this Democratic stronghold, the left-coasters overwhelming picked a Republican to be their new governor. So anything can happen, anywhere. Hold onto your hats, Dems.
Forget the allegations by the Swift Boat Veterans.
Forget about crazy Teresa and her missing tax returns.
Forget historical trends and computer models.
At the most basic level, this election will be a process of choosing a leader. And although many Americans may disagree with the direction, the unmistakable truth is that President Bush has led this country. On the other side, John Kerry can’t even provide a clear answer on the most critical question of the day.
The NY Post:
Republicans are out to make Democratic nominee John Kerry answer a simple question: Knowing what you know now, would you have gone to war in Iraq — yes or no? So far, it's not a question that Kerry wants to answer yes or no in commander-in-chief fashion, and it's easy to see why.The Boston Globe:
Asked about Bush's Iraq policy during an economic event here, Kerry bristled slightly in recalling news accounts that suggested he "hasn't spelled out" his vision for rebuilding Iraq and bringing home US troops.And the WashPost noted in “A Low Profile for the Big Issue”:
Kerry has strongly criticized the Bush administration's competence in handling the war, principally its failure to enlist other nations to its cause in Iraq. But he has not questioned the basic tenets of the policy, nor has he outlined a course of action substantially different from the one Bush is pursuing to shore up the interim government and prepare for national elections. While he has said he would substantially cut troop strength in Iraq by the end of his first term, he has not provided details on how.John Kerry seems to feel a sense of entitlement, whether because of his blue-blood heritage, his rarefied education, or his wife’s ketchup money. But being a leader requires something more than a political philosophy honed by focus groups. It requires, it demands, that you take a position and defend it. On this and so many other issues, Kerry has failed the test.
Wednesday, August 04, 2004
I remember once when I was at Rutgers, a college guide came out that listed all the “hot spots” at every college in America. It was immediately obvious that the writer of the guide merely called up somebody at a local fraternity and asked them to rattle off the names of some bars. Rutgers is the home of the Scarlet Knights and every other bar incorporates “knight” as “night” – so it was pretty clear the author of the guide was faking it when he/she phonetically cited “The Night Club.”
That memory sprang back to life after reading this story. I can just picture the candidate reading off a concealed index card: “It’s great to be here in (furtive glance) Milwaukee! Let’s all get a double dip at (looks at aide who is mouthing “Lee Ons”) Leons!”
What a poseur.
First, Kerry calls for a special session of Congress – one we know he’ll never attend.
Then Sully runs a pledge week to support his blog – and promptly skips town for the month.
Now William Saletan in Slate is calling Bush “warm bread” (as in, “not toast yet”). Funny: I remember reading something similar four years ago from a writer on Slate. Oh wait!
Four years ago, based on numbers less grim than these, I said Bush was toast. Gore had passed Bush, and I thought the numbers couldn't turn around. I was wrong.Yet you feel no compunction making the same prediction four years later? Way to get back on that horse, Bill!
In Shullsburg, Wis., Kerry's bus stopped so he could greet some well-wishers along the road, and a man asked Kerry about his vote against funding body armor for U.S. troops. Kerry says the charge was a distortion of his record.He didn’t really vote against the funding for body armor, except when he did, but so he could change the policy… of sending body armor to soldiers. Vietnam!
"It's killing you in this area," the man said.
Kerry moved on to shake more hands, but turned back and told him, "I'd never leave those troops without their body armor, you know that."
The Kerry Spot noted today that the Bush administration would be “insane” not to publicize these latest economic reports:
New orders at U.S. factories rose by more than expected in June and May's fall was revised to show a gain
U.S. auto sales heated up again in July
The American manufacturing sector sped up activity in July, cementing the longest stretch of rapid growth in more than 30 years
Wages and benefits for U.S. workers rose a moderate 0.9 percent in the April-June quarter this year
Don’t let the Democrats turn back this tide of progress. Do what you can by donating or volunteering for the President Bush’s re-election campaign. Also, be sure to visit the bloggers on the “Wictory Wednesday” blogroll. It’s important. Thanks.
Tuesday, August 03, 2004
From the Boston Globe: “France gives critical look at its falling influence”
But these days, judging by several best-selling books in France and the tone ofOh for heaven’s sake: cowboy up and drink your Starbucks!
a self-effacing discourse on national radio and television and in newspapers,
the country has begun to again broach the subject of its own decline. The
discussion touches on the loss of influence in the spheres of politics,
economics, art, film, diplomacy, and even language.
Tom “The Hammer” DeLay takes the prize, hands down:
But the part of Mr. Kerry's solution to the terror threat that really got Republican eyes rolling was his call for a special session of Congress to consider legislation reorganizing the management of intelligence agencies.He’s right, you know! This led to the “Weaselly Qualifier of the Day”:
"That's pretty tough talk from a guy who has fewer days at work this year than he has houses," said House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. "He's not been around here during our regular session; what makes anyone think he'll be here for a special session?"
Mr. Kerry later told reporters that he would attend such a session to debate and vote when necessary.That is: never.
Extra reading: The NY Post and Blogs for Bush have both commented on Kerry’s absence from both the Senate this year and from previous meeting of the Senate Intelligence Committee.
The Polipundit is reviewing all of his predictions of past. He’s been counter-intuitively accurate, putting those “professional” pundits in their place.
Speaking of great punditry, after the DNC I stated: “My prediction: a 2-3 point PR bump that disappears in a week.” Too right!
Finally, economist Ray Fair has updated his Presidential election model and it has some bad news for President Bush. Three months ago, his model predicted that Bush would capture 58.7% of the popular vote; his updated model indicates he’ll only garner 57.5% of the two-party popular vote. Oh no!
In other words, he's doomed. Doomed!
Monday, August 02, 2004
Yesterday, I got my September Atlantic magazine and one of the articles asks: “Why is Barack Obama generating more excitement among Democrats than John Kerry?” It occurred to me that you could put just about anything else in place of “Barack Obama” and the question would still be valid:
Chutes and Ladders
Comments are open!