Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Don’t panic on the OPEC production “cut”

Those in the know don’t believe it means anything:

The question in the oil markets now is how seriously the cartel will enforce the cuts. The cartel is historically undisciplined. Year after year, members have pledged to each other to produce only a set volume in order to keep world prices at certain levels, but privately they sell more to gain a windfall.

Oil prices fell by about $1 per barrel in the hours after Wednesday's announcement, as traders interpreted the details to mean that much of the cut would be illusory. "There isn't much credibility," said Marshall Steeves, an energy analyst at Refco Group, a New York-based financial services firm. "Overproduction or cheating -- call it what you want -- has been quite rampant in the last few months."

Opinion Journal has more on why gas prices are high and why tapping into the Strategic Petroleum Reserve is a terrible idea.
This doesn’t sound like a helpful response to the recent violence in Iraq. It is a critical time with great challenges ahead as we’re trying to implant the idea of freedom.
Wednesdays are for W

Today the GOP accused the Kerry campaign of illegally coordinating activities with external groups in violation of campaign finance laws. Here’s the always entertaining Kerry spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter in response:

"We take the law very seriously. Republicans can't stand the fact the American people want change, so now they are playing politics with the law," Cutter said.

“Playing politics?” Wrong, Ms. Cutter – we want you to obey the law.

You can help to counter the Democrats’ oh-so-typical efforts to circumvent campaign laws by donating or volunteering for the campaign to re-elect President Bush. Visit the web site and then visit the other “Wictory Wednesday” bloggers. It’s important. Thank you.
Tony Blankley is “Getting sick & tired of Kerry” – “And yet, John Kerry has impressive downside potential. Like Thomas Dewey in 1948, his deepest flaw as a candidate is his sheer unlikability.” Blankley also wonders about Kerry’s health and whether recent photo-ops (e.g. on the slopes) is a strategy to cover up deeper problems, like Kennedy did with touch football outings.
Democrats inviting Monty Python comparisons

From the WashPost: "The Bush White House has chosen its weapons well," he [Dem pollster Stan Greenberg] said, "but I really want to emphasize that while Kerry has taken some hits, I think they are surface wounds.”

‘tis but a flesh wound! Have at you!
Kevin Burlingame goes off message!

I laughed out loud at this Boston Globe account of a Kerry photo-op in California. The cops shut down Interstate 5 for several minutes so that Kerry could address the press corps and a single customer at a gas station:

Kerry advisers released his proposals to lower gas prices in bits on Monday night and yesterday morning, and the unscheduled stop at the San Diego gas station hit a few bumps.

More than a dozen cars and buses, led by a fleet of police motorcycles, shut down Interstate 5 north and four lanes of traffic near the Shell station for several minutes so the senator could hold a photo opportunity for news cameras there. There appeared to be only one customer, Kevin Burlingame, for Kerry to talk to about the gas prices, which ranged from $2.15 to $2.37.

"What do you think of these gas prices?" Kerry asked.

"Boy, they are pretty high," said Burlingame, 38, who handles sales and marketing for his family business, which makes concrete roof tile. "We ship a lot of stuff so it affects every aspect of our business." He also told Kerry he was "very positive about the economy."

Asked by a reporter whether he thought a president could influence gas rates, Burlingame said, "He can introduce policy, but overall I don't think he can affect gas prices."

Now that’s a well-oiled campaign team. I’m sure the commuters on I-5 didn’t mind.
Bush takes the Keystone State - I've always thought that if Bush wins Pennsylvania or Michigan, he'll be unstoppable in 2004. So I was very happy to see this on the Hedgehog Report: "Bush now leads in PA" by a healthy 6%.
Make it real - To be perfectly honest, I think the latest Bush ad “Wacky” is a childish, chaotic, and fails to connect with voters. A simpler ad showing a gas price suddenly rising by fifty cents (think of a spinning price readout on a gas pump) would convey the cost of the Kerry tax much more effectively. Speaking of ads, this freelance effort is worth a look.
Double-take headline of the day: Girl wins slam-dunk contest
Do I link to the Man without Qualities a lot? There’s a reason for that. Check out his latest post on the Kerry poll slide and the attendant media bias. Speaking of which: after a hiatus, Susanna is back, so Cut on the Bias is back on the blogroll.
The continuing humor of the NY Times Corrections page

Because of an editing error, a front-page article on Sunday about the difficulty of distributing drugs to AIDS patients in poor countries referred incorrectly to President Bush's January 2003 plan to spend $15 billion over five years to fight AIDS in the third world. While United States spending thus far has not kept pace with the plan, the president has issued a five-year budget plan that foresees reaching it; his requests have not fallen short of the goal.

What a surprise.
Bastards - Five members of the U.S. military were killed by a bomb blast west of Baghdad on Wednesday, Fox News has confirmed. The Associated Press is reporting that the five killed were soldiers, but that report has not been confirmed.

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

It's a fact: Kerry raised gas taxes before

The latest installment of John Kerry’s DBunker section is an unmitigated mess. It’s just a baffling collection of spurious and contradictory statements on the issue of rising gas prices. It would take me pages to unravel all the false assumptions and outright lies, but let me try to cut the Gordian knot here and summarize the DBunker allegations:

Dick Cheney met with energy executives and conspired to raise gasoline prices during an election year to hurt the re-election prospects for a pro-energy President. This same President has too much pride to beg Saudi Arabia to pump out more oil (and after they’ve been such good allies in the war on terror!) As a result, Americans now face a “tax” in the form of higher gas prices.

John Kerry, on the other hand, is not ashamed to kiss the feet of the Saudis. (Hijackers? What hijackers?) And he’ll tap into the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, reserved for wartime, because we’re not in a war – free oil for everyone! Of course, neither of these actions reduces our dependence on foreign oil but that’s OK because we’re all going to drive hybrid cars.

It’s…let’s say “interesting”…to characterize a price increase on a commodity as a “tax increase.” But there’s only one candidate in this race who has unquestionably voted in favor of high gasoline taxes: John Kerry. As noted here, Kerry voted for a BTU tax and a 4.3 cents-per-gallon increase in federal gas taxes. Also, in 1994, Kerry told the Boston Globe that he supported for a 50-cent increase in the gas tax; this would cost the average family over $600 per year.

Take it from John Kerry – a man who knows how to keep taxes high – that’s a tax.

Extra: See how much Kerry’s 50-cent tax could cost you with this handy calculator.

[Cross-posted on Blogs for Bush]
Predicting Presidential contests

The Weekly Standard has a review of the “Rule of 14” and the “Four Factor” and all those other intangible determinants of Presidential elections. My favorite:

Fair warning. Yale economist Ray Fair has a model for predicting the outcome of two-party votes, based on economic variables such as inflation and GDP growth. In early February, he predicted 58.7 percent of the two-party vote for Bush (up from 58.3 percent in October). It's bad news for Kerry. Since he started this voting forecast back in 1978, Fair has never misgauged the incumbent party's vote by more than 1.9 percent.

Bush/Cheney – mathematically unbeatable!
You asked for it

Fox News: “Rice to testify publicly before 9/11 commission

Viking Pundit: “Is the strategy to keep the story alive, build it up, so that Dr. Rice can confute Clarke’s self-serving testimony in the most public way imaginable? Maybe!”

Rosemary at Dean’s World: “I have a strange feeling. I keep expecting to hear check-mate. From Bush.”

Bill Hobbs: “The Democrats demanded it, though she already has testified for more than four hours in private, because the Democrats are politicizing the commission and, by extension, 9/11 itself. I rather suspect they'll rue the day they demanded Rice testify publicly. A brilliant African-American woman will soon be testifying in front of a sure-to-be-mammoth national TV audience, defending the Bush administration's record on fighting terrorism before 9/11 and since. Condi Rice may well do to them what Oliver North did in the 1980s when he made the Democrats on the Iran-Contra hearings look like fools.”
Another article about how we’re going to drown in a sea of Social Security debt. Meanwhile, the airheads at MTV – the Gen-Xers who will be soaked for years before the Social Security trust fund runs dry – couldn’t bear to ask John Kerry what he would do to solve this massive problem. Oh, but they’ll get help with student loans. Sweeeeet.
Only Pejman can get away with this headline: “Choosy Jews Choose Republicans?” It’s about shifting alliances among American Jews towards the GOP.
And now, George Will with his two cents

With a hat tip to Betsy, here’s George Will on why “Clarke’s book will be quickly forgotten”. This excerpt echoes my opinion about Clarke’s “apology” to the 9/11 families:

Clarke's apology to the American people, delivered to the Sept. 11 commission, should be considered in the context of the book, the publication of which was timed to coincide with his testimony. When, presuming to speak for the entire government, he said ``we tried hard,'' he actually must have been using the royal plural, because the gravamen of his book is that only he was trying hard. Indeed, parts of Clarke's memoir call to mind Finley Peter Dunne's jest that Teddy Roosevelt's memoir of the Cuban expedition should have been titled ``Alone in Cuba.''

I have nothing to add to that.
Mort Kondracke: “To Voters, Bush’s Post-9/11 Record Trumps Pre-9/11
That paragraph is complete fiction

Somebody in the Situation Room on 9/11 says that Clarke is just makin’ stuff up. From the NY Times: “Colleague of Ex-Official Disputes Part of Account

A senior national security official who worked alongside Richard A. Clarke on Sept. 11, 2001, is disputing central elements of Mr. Clarke's account of events in the White House Situation Room that day, declaring that it "is a much better screenplay than reality was."

The official, Franklin C. Miller, who acknowledges that he was often a bureaucratic rival of Mr. Clarke, said in an interview on Monday that almost none of the conversations that Mr. Clarke, who was the counterterrorism chief, recounts in the first chapter of his book, "Against All Enemies," match Mr. Miller's recollection of events.

This is just the start, now that the book is out.

Monday, March 29, 2004

USA Today/CNN/Gallup poll flip

What a turn of events! Was it the inept finger-pointing of Richard Clarke? The ads portraying Kerry (accurately) as a Washington flip-flopper? The series of self-inflicted Kerry gaffes?

In the first week of March, Kerry was beating Bush in a one-on-one matchup by 8%; the latest poll has Bush over Kerry by 4% - a huge 12% swing in less than one month.

More: on question #3, we find that likely voters who are “certain” to vote for Kerry dropped 5% while those certain to vote for Bush rose 6%. On question #6 we find President Bush’s favorable-unfavorable gap rising from 1% in early March to 9% (53% - 44%) in the latest poll.

I’m going to sleep well tonight.

What media bias update: as of this writing, there’s nothing on the CNN homepage.
Black gold, Texas tea, Al-Qaeda’s ATM

Ain’t that a shame? The Saudis are running out of oil (maybe). From a new Business Week article titled “Oil Shortage?

If Simmons is right [that Saudi oil fields are running dry], the Saudis could soon be in deep trouble. Their relations with the U.S. are already strained thanks to the participation of so many Saudis in the September 11 attacks. If it turns out they have much less oil than they claim, "the role of the kingdom would be completely devalued strategically," says Roger Diwan, a senior analyst at consultant PFC Energy in Washington. With no alternative to oil in sight for decades, the U.S. and other consuming nations would increasingly need to look to other sources, such as Russia or Iraq.

I’m not crazy about giving cash to the Russians, but they’re a damn sight better than “Terrorists ‘R’ Us.” And anything to help out Free Iraq is a plus.
Happy 2nd Blog Birthday to Jessica’s Well
Another insidious Karl Rove strategy?

The conventional wisdom is that the book promotion testimony of Richard Clarke has put the White House on the defensive and called into question President Bush’s record on the war on terrorism. But slowly the counter-intuitive theory is taking shape that, in the long run, keeping the focus on terrorism helps Bush. Here’s Kate O’Beirne on The Capital Gang this past weekend:

SHIELDS: Kate O'Beirne, has Richard Clarke's testimony seriously damaged President Bush's credibility as a fighter against terrorism?

KATE O'BEIRNE, CAPITAL GANG: Mark, it certainly seemed this week that the White House disagrees with me when I say that I think, overall, on balance, the president will be helped by all of this attention to how he handled terrorism both pre and post-9/11. The question this November is -- the relevant question on the topic -- who is going to be tougher on fighting terrorism, President Bush or John Kerry? Polls tell us that by a very wide margin, the public consistently thinks they can expect George Bush to be much tougher.

I think Richard Clarke, the single point he's making -- he hurt his own credibility by not being willing to criticize the Clinton administration. So the single point he winds up making is that George Bush should have done in eight months what the Clinton administration failed to do in eight years. And on its face, that's a ridiculous proposition.

Here’s at least one poll indicating that Bush still has a double-digit lead over the Democratic challenger on defense and terrorism. If this is the defining issue going into November, Bush wins big. This is a fact not lost on Robert Musil:

Could it be that Democrats and the media hurt John Kerry by moving the public's mind away from the economy by making a broo-hah-hah over terrorism - including much criticism of Bush?

Corollary question: Is Karl Rove pulling a huge rope-a-dope with Condi Rice’s pending testimony before the 9/11 Commission? Is the strategy to keep the story alive, build it up, so that Dr. Rice can confute Clarke’s self-serving testimony in the most public way imaginable? Maybe!
Scott is back up and blogging at Election Projection after his tragic loss. Drop by and say hello.
Thin books: “Hassidic football players” and “Kerry’s legislative work”

From the Associated Press today:

Kerry never mentioned Bush by name during his speech at New North Side Baptist Church, but aimed his criticism at "our present national leadership." Kerry cited Scripture in his appeal for the worshippers, including James 2:14, "What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds?"

Fox News: “Kerry’s Senate career short on lawmaking

Asked what he has accomplished during his 19 years in the Senate, Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry gives a lengthy answer but has a short list of laws that bear his name.


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.

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.

Mickey Kaus:

The hints in Kerry's senatorial résumé aren't encouraging. Legislating is an almost pathologically collaborative effort, and Kerry has been a conspicuous non-performer in the legislation department. Time magazine found exactly "three substantive bills passed with Kerry's name on them." Two of these "had to do with marine research and protecting fisheries." (The other was "designed to provide grants for women starting small businesses.") Kerry's record as a senator for two decades would be embarrassing were it not for his investigations into drug commerce and his initial digging into illegal aid for the Nicaraguan Contras.

How about those investigations? From the Washington Post:

Kerry's high-profile investigations, such as his probes of the deposed leader of Panama, Gen. Manuel Noriega, and the scandal-ridden Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI), have led some colleagues to complain privately that he has been more of a show horse than a workhorse.

That's my Senator! I guess the lesson here is that Kerry will work if there are cameras on him.
More bad news for Democrats from USA Today: “Economists see booming economy
Kerry Vote Watch

How do I break into this gig? The Senate is off for twelve days, returns to “work” on Wednesday, casts a total of four votes over two days, then heads off for a long weekend. Well, Kerry showed up to vote against the “Laci and Connor” law since he was in Washington anyway for the big “Unity” fundraiser. Sadly, Al Gore did cast the fatal blow of endorsing the Senator.

Days worked in the Senate this session: 3
Voting percentage: 14/63 = 22%
Title on KausFiles today: “Kerry reappears, ending rise in polls” Oof!
William Safire keeps the heat on the U.N.’s Oil for Food scandal: “Follow up to Kofi-gate” - "Never has there been a financial rip-off of the magnitude of the U.N. oil-for-food scandal."

Sunday, March 28, 2004

I failed you, but you know what I really mean - (wink wink)

Mark Steyn on Dick Clarke: “Bush has nothing to fear from this hilarious work of fiction

Instead, all the Islamists who went to Afghanistan in the 1990s graduated from Camp Osama and were dispersed throughout Europe, Asia, Australia and North America, where they lurk to this day. That's the Clarke-Clinton legacy. And, if it were mine, I wouldn't be going around boasting about it.

Yet there he was on “Meet the Press” and CNN and who knows where else, telling America – in direct contradiction to his “apology” before the 9/11 Commission – that it was all George Bush’s fault. Take your cash and go away already.

Saturday, March 27, 2004

America thinks Clarke is a fraud – Russert to confirm

David Wissing has a great post called “What Clarke Effect?” with the results of a Newsweek poll. Bottom line: Bush’s popularity has not suffered, the Bush/Kerry matchup numbers have not moved, and by a wide margin people think that Dick Clarke is motivated by partisan or personal reasons.

Meanwhile, Mark Kilmer notes that Clarke will be on “Meet the Press” tomorrow: “Russert is very good at grilling guests for inconsistencies, and he doesn't always accept lame answers from Democrats and their sympathizers.”

Yes, and my feeling is that Russert will solidify the impression most Americans have about book-hawker Dick Clarke.
Senator Splunge’s flip-flop du jour

John Kerry, March 10th: [Republicans are] “the most crooked, you know, lying group I’ve ever seen. It’s scary.”

Today: “John Kerry said the White House is committing character assassination with its treatment of former counterterror chief Richard Clarke to avoid responding to questions about national security that Clarke raised.”

Friday, March 26, 2004

The evidence mounts that Democrats are jerks

Paul at Wizbang says: “Democrats prove they are scum

Well, that might be a little strong. But wait…what’s this? “Senate Dems to block all nominations

Chuck Schumer is a bastard. The Democrats won’t allow certain judicial nominees to have a straight up-or-down vote in the Senate, so Bush gives recess appointments a grand total of two judges. Well, get ready for a whole lotta recess appointments, Chuck, if you’re going to play this game.
Good question
More bad news for the Democrats: March 26 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. personal spending rose for the fifth straight month in February and consumer confidence unexpectedly climbed in March, suggesting the economy will continue to grow.
Update your blogroll - Jay Solo + Accidental Jedi = Accidental Verbosity

While you're at it, why don't you add the always-excellent Viking Pundit? Heh.
When your only tool is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail

You have to slog through to the final paragraph of this NY Times editorial about the “Entitlement Crisis” to find out their recommendation for a solution: “Congress can certainly take a first step in dealing with the looming entitlement shortfalls by rebuffing the administration's efforts to extend its tax cuts for wealthy Americans.”

A tax hike. Surprise, surprise.
No Slick Willie zone

I don’t want to discuss Bill Clinton because I think his presidency does nothing to elucidate the problems facing the country now. This section from Lileks’ latest Bleat is right in line with my sentiments:

Look: to me that’s ancient history. That’s Flintstone time. If it weren’t for these hearings I wouldn’t give a tin fig for who didn’t do what when and where. September Eleventh was the bright red gash that separated the Now from the La-la Then, and we’ve been living in the hot spiky Now ever since. I am interested in the Now and the What Next.

But Dick Clarke’s book tour testimony to the 9/11 Commission has resurrected all kinds of questions that need to be addressed. Fortunately, Charles Krauthammer has taken on this responsibility so I don’t have to. Read up.
Chill – John Hawkins thinks everything’s gonna turn out fine for Bush in 2004. Sounds good to me.
The Economist onThe Blame Game

The British magazine is always measured and even-handed since it exists outside the bubble of American debate. Here’s the conclusion of the Economist’s analysis of the 9/11 investigation:

Most important, Miss Rice argued, even if the administration had done everything Mr Clarke wanted, that would probably not have been enough to deal with al-Qaeda or stop the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre. Mr Bush, she said, was tired of “swatting flies”. Something more was needed, which the administration was working on throughout 2001. But it was too late.

And there, for the moment, the debate rests. The Bush administration was urged to do more before 9/11, and chose not to, for reasons that seemed right and reasonable at the time. It was working on a strategy to deal with al-Qaeda, but too slowly to do any good. Some of its members were more concerned about Saddam Hussein than Osama bin Laden. Nothing here can be called indefensible. Whether this is the record of someone who treated al-Qaeda with the utmost seriousness is another matter.

Even the Clintonites appearing before the 9/11 commission cited the chasm between “pre-9/11” and “post-9/11” mentalities. Hindsight on the threat of Al-Qaeda is crystal clear now.

Thursday, March 25, 2004

Taxing America and the definition of a vote

The Kerry campaign has been consistent on one matter: when votes in the Senate serve John Kerry, they are loudly paraded for all to see. When other votes don’t help him, loudly complain about “misrepresenting” Kerry’s record and negative campaigning.

Several weeks back, Kerry proclaimed that he had voted in favor of the Helms-Burton legislation to tighten restrictions on Fidel Castro’s communist Cuba. In fact he hadn’t voted for the final bill, but for a motion leading up to the bill. This is how Slate characterized this unique rationalization:

Kerry aides told Wallsten that Kerry voted against the final bill because he disagreed with some technicalities added at the last minute, but that he voted for an earlier version of the bill. But every piece of legislation that comes before the Senate is subjected to a succession of votes, many of them tactical in nature. The only vote that counts is final passage. If it were otherwise, any legislator could claim to have voted for or against almost any bill, depending on the audience, and there would be no accountability at all.

However, Kerry would not heed this common-sense definition of “voting for” a bill and chose to highlight procedural motion and amendment votes while glossing the only vote that truly mattered: his position on the final legislation.

The Bush campaign then accepted Kerry’s wide definition of which votes count and declared that the Democrat had voted to raise taxes “350 times.” This may be a semantic argument (i.e. does voting against a tax cut constitute “raising taxes”?) but it is clear that on vote after vote throughout his Senate career, John Kerry voted in favor of the philosophy that higher taxes are always the better choice.

“Foul!” cried the Kerry campaign and Michael Kinsley complied with an article criticizing the Bush campaign’s definition of a vote:

The logic seems to be that if a bill contains more than one item (as almost all bills do), it counts as separate votes for or against each item. The Bush list also includes several series of sequentially numbered votes, which are procedural twists on the same bill. And there are votes on the identical issue in different years.

Those “sequentially numbered votes” and “procedural twists” were good enough for John Kerry when he “voted for the $87 billion before he voted against it.” But now they’re off-limits when Bush tries to illustrate how John Kerry has sought to keep taxes high on Americans.

And the Kerry campaign is still at it: this Dbunker post has a series of votes cast by Kerry allegedly to lower the tax burden on Americans, with helpful Senate vote numbers. The problem is that every single one of them is a rejected procedural motion vote before the final passage of Vote #179 – H.R. 2 – the Jobs and Growth Reconciliation Act of 2003.

On that bill, Kerry voted “Nay.” So when the Bush campaign runs an ad declaring that John Kerry voted against tax relief for American families, it’s an un-debunkable fact.

[Cross-posted on Blogs for Bush]
The Gore curse confirmed

The former pollster for Howard Dean reveals how Al Gore destroyed Howard Dean’s candidacy:

Although the endorsement by former vice president Al Gore was initially viewed as a coup, Maslin discovered in polling that it had "little if any value." That is because Gore's former Iowa supporters -- some of whom blamed him for the Democrats' defeat in 2000 -- said it made them less likely to back Dean.

That’s some bad karma there.
Bad news for Kerry: The economy grew a solid 4.1% in the fourth quarter, stocks are way up, and oil prices dropped a dollar today.
Welcome aboard, Dean! – “This is a Blog for Bush

If you’d like to join the Blogroll for Bush, click here.
Isn’t that nice? I like Ryne’s blog too.
Poll positions

Rasmussen tracking flips: Kerry 47% / Bush 44%

But Quinnipiac has Bush 46% / Kerry 40% / Nader 6%. Without Nader, Bush still leads 46 – 43%.

The updated Real Clear Politics average has Bush leading by 2%.
Back on campaign trail, Kerry catches up on flip-flopping

From the Boston Globe: “Kerry spoke of meeting negotiators on Vietnam

Asked about the appropriateness of Kerry's saying that the United States had "murdered" 200,000 Vietnamese annually when the United States was at war, Kerry spokesman Michael Meehan said "Senator Kerry used a word he deems inappropriate."

Meehan said Kerry "never suggested or believed and absolutely rejects the idea that the word applied to service of the American soldiers in Vietnam." Meehan then declined to say to whom Kerry was referring when he said that the United States had murdered the Vietnamese; Kerry declined to be interviewed about the matter.

Here’s Kerry’s statement from the Senate hearing:

If the United States did not withdraw, Kerry said, then US bombing would continue, and "the war will continue. So what I am saying is that yes, there will be some recrimination but far, far less than the 200,000 a year who are murdered by the United States of America . . . ."

Draw your own conclusion. By the way, when is Kerry going to visit the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington? I’m curious about the reception he’ll get there.
Rich Lowry on “Clarke’s Collapse”: “If Clarke is ever hired in another administration, it should be as Dishonesty Czar. Even by the standard of the host of recent anti-Bush books, Clarke's "Against All Enemies" distinguishes itself for its pathetically misleading and incomplete account of the facts.”

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Josh Marshall’s profound insouciance

After expending untold electrons on his blog about the unimpeachable Richard Clarke, Josh Marshall is placidly unconcerned about Clarke’s comments back in August 2002 when he was vigorously defending the White House. All part of his job!

In any case, the larger point I think is this: Career civil servants working for a given White House do tend to follow that White House's spin when they're giving background briefings. That's hardly a surprise. It's somewhat in the nature of the enterprise.

So, according to Marshall, Clarke had an incentive to shade the truth back then, but he has no incentive (order your book now at Amazon and get 30% off the $27 list price!) to do so now. Later, in his post, Josh points readers towards this piece in Slate by Fred Kaplan. I’ll quote the key part:

But on to the substance. Clarke's main argument…is that Bush has done (as Clarke put it on CBS) "a terrible job" at fighting terrorism. Specifically: In the summer of 2001, Bush did almost nothing to deal with mounting evidence of an impending al-Qaida attack.

Yet here’s Clarke in the 2002 background briefing:

And the point is, while this big review was going on, there were still in effect, the lethal findings were still in effect. The second thing the administration decided to do is to initiate a process to look at those issues which had been on the table for a couple of years and get them decided.
So, point five, that process which was initiated in the first week in February, uh, decided in principle, uh in the spring to add to the existing Clinton strategy and to increase CIA resources, for example, for covert action, five-fold, to go after Al Qaeda.

And then changed the strategy from one of rollback with Al Qaeda over the course of five years, which it had been, to a new strategy that called for the rapid elimination of Al Qaeda. That is in fact the timeline.

So “almost nothing” was quintupling the budget to fight Al-Qaeda, picking up on the issues left behind by Clinton, and employing a new strategy for the “rapid elimination” of the terrorist group.

I agree with Glenn Reynolds: “This guy’s working for Rove.”

Also, be sure to check out Dodd’s analysis of Josh Marshall’s response to the Clarke flip-flop.
And right-wingers, too!

I’m on a Democratic mailing list so I get some amusing letters on occasion. Today there’s one from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi asking for cash. Choice quote:

George W. Bush and the right-wing Republican controlled Congress are advancing a radical agenda backed by a bizarre alliance of right-wing zealots, ultra-conservative ideologues and greedy special interests.”

Don’t forget about the vampires! What? Oh. No vampires.
The Clarke scandal goes “poof!”

Like I said: he was just trying to sell books. Here’s an excerpt from an August 2002 briefing via Fox News:

CLARKE: No, it came up in April [2001] and it was approved in principle and then went through the summer. And you know, the other thing to bear in mind is the shift from the rollback strategy to the elimination strategy. When President Bush told us in March to stop swatting at flies and just solve this problem, then that was the strategic direction that changed the NSPD from one of rollback to one of elimination.

Read the whole thing, then check back later to see how Josh Marshall spins it.
Wednesdays are for W

The WashPost has an article today called “Democratic Spending is a Team Effort Groups Ads Level Field for Kerry” about how certain “527” groups are free to supplement the negative advertising of the Kerry campaign outside of campaign finance law spending limits. It’s all legal as long as these groups don’t coordinate their activities with the Kerry campaign or the Democratic National Committee. It’s just sheer coincidence that John Kerry’s former campaign manager, Jim Jordan, is “advising several of the Democratic groups, including the Media Fund.”

Now (yes, now) is the time to help out President Bush by donating and/or volunteering to his re-election campaign. Then visit the other bloggers in the Wictory Wednesday blogroll. It’s important. Thanks.
We’re from the United Nations and we’re here to “help”

The American Spectator reviews the U.N.’s track record in Kosovo and wonders why certain people (cough Democrats cough) want to subject Iraq to the same mismanagement:

I mention this partly because conservatives, especially American ones, often are accused of being insufficiently deferential to the U.N. Allow me to remedy this state of affairs: the U.N. should be acknowledged for its role in perpetuating the chaos in Kosovo. Lest I judge too harshly, let me point out that the U.N.'s solution to the region's conflict is typical of its solution to every international conflict: announce that everything is fine, then hope reality cooperates.

It may be equally poor etiquette to argue that the U.N. inflamed ethnic rivalries. And yet, by willfully glossing over the long-simmering tensions between the Albanian Muslim majority and the Serbian Christian minority, the U.N.'s plan to preserve a single multiethnic state did exactly that. As last week's eruption of violence attests, the effect of the U.N. plan was akin to throwing a blanket over a bonfire. Bleak and bloody, Kosovo today is a testament to the shortsightedness of a U.N. administration and the fecklessness of its oversight.

Remember when Jesse Helms was withholding U.S. funding for the United Nations? With a Security Council chaired by Syria and Libya heading up the Human Rights Commission, it’s hard to fault him.
Spinning that “S.O.B.” quote

From NY Post’s Page Six:

THE Sen. John Kerry team seems more than a mite embarrassed the presidential wannabe cursed out a Secret Service agent as "that son of a bitch" after colliding with him while snowboarding last week. Asked if that's appropriate language, Kerry's spokesman, Michael Meehan, tried to wriggle out of answering on Fox News Channel's "Hannity and Colmes." Quoth Meehan: "I don't know. I wasn't there . . . it's a hypothetical I'm not interested in . . . I wasn't there. Were you?" Nope, but the report of Kerry's trash talk came from the ABC News field producer who was there and appeared in the New York Times (though with the expletive deleted).

That’s some smooooooth spinning there.

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Thank you, President Bush! Well, I just finished my taxes tonight and I'm getting a healthy return. (This is a pleasant surprise after paying last year.) Judging by the feedback on Instapundit, I'm not the only one who is happy with the new tax structure.
Stephanie Cutter speaks

She’s the greatest. Here she is in a NY Times article about how the economy is doing somewhat better in the 17 battleground states important for the 2004 election than in the rest of the country:

Stephanie Cutter, Mr. Kerry's spokeswoman, said that even in states where the economy was stronger than the national average, "there's still a sense we could be doing better."

How’s that for a slogan? “We could be doing marginally better, America!”
John Kerry: Man of the People…with five homes.
Kerry: Closet Frenchman

U.S.-based correspondents for the French media, aware that Kerry learned fluent French while in boarding school in Switzerland, have been trying to get him to do an interview in French. Correspondents say they have spoken French with him in private, but as soon as the cameras go on, Kerry switches to English to avoid giving the Bush campaign more ammunition.

Oh, c'mon!
Dick Clarke’s Cassandra Complex

Only the diehard Democrats will try to keep this story alive – the vast majority of Americans will recognize Clarke’s bogus allegations as a cynical strategy to sell books. For my money, John Podhoretz has the best review today with Rich Lowry a close second.

Bonus - Nice find on Free Republic: in 1992, a then-Deputy Secretary of State Dick Clarke complaining about America’s lax response to Iraq’s buildup of weapons of mass destruction. Nobody listens to Cassandra Clarke.

Update: Like I said, this story has no legs - "Clarke praises Bush in resignation letter"
Searching for the truth on the jobs issue

A very interesting article in the Boston Globe - “What the jobless statistics don’t reveal” – tries to reconcile the vast gap between the payroll survey and the household survey of employment.

When properly interpreted, the two surveys together reveal the real emerging story line: Unable to find regular payroll employment, many workers are accepting second choice self-employment, contract labor, or off-the-books work arrangements. In other words, the growth in nonformal payroll employment over the past two years has acted as a labor market safety valve. American workers are finding that for now, their best and maybe only alternative lies somewhere between a regular wage and salary job and unemployment.

I can speak from experience here. Last year, my wife “quit” her job at a nearby university to do the same work as a “consultant” (this was done voluntarily for personal reasons that I won’t detail here). So she no longer appears on the university’s payroll but collects a paycheck nonetheless. She is not unemployed, despite what the Democrats choose to believe.
Kerry’s Katholic Kibbitzing

Senator Splunge isn’t making friends with the local (or national) Catholics:

So much for Kerry Catholicism. On Sunday, John Kerry showed up for the 10:30 Mass at Our Lady of the Snows Catholic Church at 10:41 a.m. (The church had roped off two pews for the VIP.) Adding further insult, Kerry arrived noisily, fully outfitted for skiing, not dressed for a religious service. Compounding the insult -- this time to all Catholics in good standings -- Kerry received the sacrament of Holy Eucharist, even though he's not considered to be a Catholic in good standing.

Kerry is not in “good standing” because of his split from Catholic positions, particular abortion. Of course, it doesn’t help that he’s a skinflint with charitable donations:

Kerry's returns from 1995 and earlier, before his marriage to Heinz, have sometimes attracted criticism over the issue of charitable giving. In 1995, according to published reports, Kerry reported a taxable income of $126,179, and charitable contributions of $0. In 1994, he reported income of $127,884, and charitable donations of $2,039. In 1993, he reported income of $130,345, and contributions of $175. In 1992, he reported income of $127,646, and contributions of $820. In 1991, he reported income of $113,857, and contributions of $0.

So much for noblesse oblige.
The Kerry slump continues: As I predicted, things are going poorly for Senator Splunge. Real Clear Politics has all the latest polls and, even without Nader, Bush holds a slim lead.
How “Never again” became “Neville again”

An angrier-than-usual Mark Steyn has some sharp words for the appeasers:

Among all the foolish apologists for the murderers of Madrid, it was the Reverend Mark Beach who happened to catch my eye. Preaching at St Andrew's Church, Rugby, nine days ago, Mr Beach said: "The people of Madrid are reaping the fruits of our intolerance towards those of different races and religions. The war in Iraq was never going to solve the problems of that region but instead inflamed Arab people all over the world to new heights of anger towards the West."

God Almighty. The sooner the Potemkin Church of England is sold for scrap the better. Almost every word of Mr Beach's is false; there are mosques in the English Midlands, but no Christian churches in Saudi Arabia. Its official tourism commission lists among prohibited categories of visitor "Jewish persons".

It is precisely because the West is so open to different races that Islamist bombers can blend in on Madrid commuter trains, and the Tube and the Paris Metro, in a way that, say, a team of blond, blue-eyed Aryan bombers certainly couldn't in Damascus. The war in Iraq has actually solved quite a few problems in that region, and Arab people all over the world aren't inflamed - the allegedly seething Arab street is as somnolent as ever.

No static at all - Last night on my satellite radio, the song "FM" by Steely Dan came on. Apparently to avoid confusion, the title was changed to "FM on XM" on my display. I thought that was funny.

Monday, March 22, 2004

The John Kerry Spend-o-meter

Projected spending - Increased taxes = Kerry budget gap:

"If you think health care is expensive now, wait until you see what it costs when it's free." - P.J. O'Rourke
And put on a sweater!

The NY Times never tires of telling us what to do. Today, they want Americans to stop buying SUVs:

A much better way to strengthen America's leverage, as this page has suggested before, is for the United States to limit its own consumption of energy. There are many ways to do that, but the most straightforward is to raise fuel economy standards by significant amounts.

I have an idea: how about if the NY Times ceases printing their physical paper and offers only a virtual paper through an on-line subscription? No more printing presses (using oil-based inks), no more delivery trucks, and no further need for Dad’s car to deliver papers at 5 a.m. Lead by example, NY Times.
Do you know why Islamists don’t want to hold free elections?

This is why: “Secular-minded incumbent Abdullah Ahmad Badawi was sworn in Monday as Malaysia's prime minister, a day after scoring a landslide election victory that handed the fundamentalist Islamic opposition its worst defeat in more than a decade.”

Hat tip to Wind Rider at Silent Running who comments: “It's a good sign. Let's see what Abdullah Ahmad Badawi does with the huge mandate he was given, and watch for the nut jobs claiming G-d's will to start causing trouble.”
Where have you gone, Pat Moynihan?

I miss the late Senator from New York. In my opinion, he was a principled liberal, and he didn’t shy away from a direct answer to a direct question. He was great on “Meet the Press” because he would respond “Oh my, yes” or “Oh, no” before fully explaining his position. The closest approximation in the current Congress is Rep. Barney Frank who is feisty and intellectual, but rarely evasive.

I bring this up to make a direct comparison to that scion of the Democratic Party, Ted Kennedy, who made an ass of himself yesterday on “Meet the Press.” Where Moynihan was confident and composed in his responses, Kennedy deployed a shrill invective of Democratic talking points. He even deployed the Max Cleland myth, for heaven’s sake! It was all red meat for the left-wing faithful, leading Martin Devon to conclude: “I'm sure that Teddy Kennedy's words brought joy to hard core Democrats but on balance the interview helped George W. Bush far more than it did John Kerry.” (Also see Tom Maguire and Mark Kilmer on Kennedy’s performance.)

By the end of the interview, I was left to wonder: what happened to the Democratic Party? Aside from Joe Lieberman (and maybe Joe Biden) is there a single Dem politician who can explain a position without resorting to prickly tones and wild gesticulating?
The American Spectator Prowler has the whole story on John “I don’t fall down” Kerry’s tumble on the slopes (along with the Senator’s “new isolationism.”)
Mark Steyn on Senator Splunge: “But he is beyond satire now.”

Even I, though, would have balked at so crude and obvious a parody as this line some Kerry impersonator did on the radio the other day: "I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it."

The words “Jacques Chirac” and “jock strap” are used in the conclusion in a rare display of satiric assonance.
Condi Rice in the WashPost – “9/11: For the Record.”
Stephanie Cutter never fails to entertain

The Kerry spokeswoman has a flair for hyperbole:

"George Bush has been the steward of the worst economy since the Great Depression, and now he's hypocritically criticizing John Kerry for his efforts to put the nation back on track," she said.

Keep in mind that at the depths of the Great Depression, the stock market had lost some 90% of its value and unemployment topped 25%. But if Kerry wants to get us “back on track” I’ll take the bus:

[Bush campaign manager Ken] Mehlman said the Bush campaign will paint Kerry as "a senator who has a consistent record of voting for higher taxes, who wants to cut the deficit in half but, if you cost out some of his proposals . . . has a trillion-dollar tax gap" between what he has proposed in new spending and new revenue.

Even if Senator Splunge seized the assets of Bill Gates and the entire Wal-Mart family, he cannot remotely pay for all of the programs he’s promised. Where will the money come from? I wonder…
Obviously, William Safire doesn’t read his own paper’s doom-and-gloom editorials. Here’s his optimistic take on the lessons of Iraq in “Creeping Democracy
Kerry Vote Watch

Hold onto your hats, loyal readers: John Kerry missed no votes in the Senate last week!

The Senate was in recess.

Kerry rested from his two days of labor with a week-long vacation at his mansion (one of five) in Idaho.
Morning LOL: Lt. Kerry’s Foreign Leader Fan Club Band

Sunday, March 21, 2004

Kerry takes “repeated tumbles” – quickly finds new excuse

Senator “I don’t fall” was on the slopes again yesterday and “reporters counted six falls, although Kerry was out of sight for part of the descent” so there could have been more. No secret service agents to cuss out…what’s a guy to do?

"The snow up there was the worst I've ever seen," Kerry said Friday after spending more than three hours on a backcountry mountain. "I've never seen the snow so soft."

He added: “I was misled about the density of the snow. It’s a fraudulent snowpack.”
Dueling campaign cartoons and illiterate liberals

The RNC has a sharp and funny ad called “John Kerry: International Man of Mystery” mocking his secret foreign support.

Meanwhile, the DNC has something about the Bush deficit that makes “South Park” animation look like “Final Fantasy.” Even the leftists over at Daily Kos couldn’t contain their disappointment:

It is worse than amateurish. It is embarrassing and richly deserving of the derision it has received here and on national political programs.
And it points to larger issues our Party has with comminications [sic] strategies, messaging/themes, and dissemination of our key messaging.

The first step towards improving communications might be spelling the word correctly.

Saturday, March 20, 2004

Don’t make a move until we hear from France

Tomorrow’s (today’s?) WashPost: “Engagement is a constant in Kerry’s foreign policy

Kerry's aides cannot recall whether he ever sketched out a broad foreign policy vision before he sought the presidency. Indeed, many of Kerry's speeches during his Senate years were lengthy and subtle, reflecting an understanding of complex issues but also a tendency to sketch so many shades of gray that the reasoning for his position became opaque.

But, despite his wonkish waffling, surely Kerry wouldn’t compromise American security if it meant alienating foreign governments, right?

Kerry is a frequent visitor to the international conferences in Davos, Switzerland, where he mingles with foreign leaders and chews over the policy problems of the day. "He eats that stuff up," Stetson said.

"I've fallen and that S.O.B. knocked me over!"

Here's Mickey Kaus on what happens when the New York Times conspires with the Kerry campaign:

A presidential candidate says "son of a bitch" in public, and the NYT can't print it? In this case, the omission hurt Kerry--readers of the Times probably assumed he'd said something much worse.

I know I did. I figured Kerry used (appropriately!) a word that rhymes with "Mass-hole."
Steven Taylor's latest Toast-O-Meter is up. Check it out (even though he mis-spells my name)
I know I’ve posted on this before, but I’m gonna post it again

Here’s a section from an AP story (reproduced on Fox News) – “Bush officially kicks off campaign in Florida

Bush used his first negative ad against Kerry to contend that the presumptive Democratic nominee would raise taxes by $900 billion if president. The figure comes from estimated costs of the health care plan Kerry has proposed. Kerry has not yet said where the money would come from to pay for the new health benefits.

Kerry also has supported rolling back the portion of the Bush tax cuts that go to those that earn more than $200,000 a year, which most estimates agree would save about $250 billion over 10 years.

$250 - $900 = a whole pile of tax hikes on YOU (yes you!)

Friday, March 19, 2004


I nearly spit out about fifty-cents of Sam Adams Cherry Wheat when I saw this on Right Wing News:

Hey kids! Remember to flip-flop TO THE EXTREME!
So, what, it’s a “specialty” beer now? $8 for a six-pack of Sam Adams Cherry Wheat? Why? Because of a fancy new label declaring it part of the “Brewmaster’s Collection?” Can’t a guy enjoy his favorite beer without getting gouged? Eight dollars!
What the Internet was invented for - Via Dodd: The Big Lebowski random quote generator
My latest debunking of John Kerry's "Dbunker" section is up on Blogs for Bush. This one reminds DBunker that, yes, John Kerry really did vote against funding for U.S. troops in Iraq. He admits it...remember?
The French are stupid: (Paris - Reuters) - Want to stay fit and healthy? Two top French nutritionists are telling people to go for a Big Mac and keep their fingers off the traditional French quiche.

Need more proof? Here’s that idiot French foreign minister.
Parapundit reviews the pending entitlement crisis: “Social Security and Medicare heading for bankruptcy sooner
I call him “Senator Splunge” but the Cracker Barrel Philosopher calls him “Lurch”. Check out his comments on Kerry’s spring break (here and here).
Kerry’s structural weaknesses

The New Republic’s Noam Scheiber reveals all in “Flip Side.” My favorite excerpt:

Responding to a Bush ad thrashing him for voting against last year's $87 billion supplemental for Iraq and Afghanistan, Kerry managed an impressive trifecta of ineffectiveness: "I actually did vote for his $87 billion, before I voted against it," Kerry told a crowd of veterans at Marshall University, before going on to explain that the version he voted for would have been paid for by repealing tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. Which is to say, Kerry's first instinct was to move rightward ("I actually did vote for his $87 billion"), his second instinct was to strive for consistency ("...before I voted against it), and his third instinct was to retreat into the kind of inside-the-beltway legislative-ese that got him into so much trouble last summer and fall.

Memo to Democrats: don’t take Dean off your speed-dial yet. It’s four more months until the convention in Boston.
Fortunately, the Iraqis aren’t reading the NY Times

From an editorial in the WSJ’s Opinion Journal: “Optimists in Iraq

A paradox of the Iraq War that began a year ago today is that the Iraqis living through it are far more optimistic than the American elites who fret from afar. As predicted, and despite the car bombs and other violence that dominate the headlines, Iraqis really do believe they've been liberated.

And the Wall Street Journal sees the big picture:

The way to honor [American soldiers and volunteers’] commitment , and sacrifice, is not to impugn the war as a "fiasco" as the new Spanish Prime Minister so mindlessly has, or to rush to pull out because we haven't yet found stockpiles of WMD. It is to fulfill the tremendous opportunity that those who have died have opened, by helping to build Iraq into a stable, democratic Arab state as the first step toward transforming the Middle East. A year after Americans began marching to Baghdad, this is the legacy worth celebrating.

Detached from reality

I started reading this NY Times editorial on Iraq – “One Year After” – and hit the following line, which I had to re-read several times.

In the short run, the invasion of Iraq and the toppling of its leader have done virtually nothing to stop terrorism.

Then I did a word search on “Libya.” Nothing. “Syria?” Nothing. Anything about Iran? Nope. Nascent democratic reform in Saudi Arabia? Nada. In fact, nothing at all about eradicating state support for terrorism and changing the debate for democracy in the Middle East. The Times would have you believe that the actions of a handful of Iraqi insurgents, desperate to reverse the course of freedom, constitute a failure of policy.

So I stopped reading.
Why do I believe this story more than any of the others? Pakistani officials are now suggesting that Osama bin Laden's deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, may have escaped an area of intense fighting near Afghanistan's border.

Thursday, March 18, 2004

Today’s vocabulary lesson

1 - hoist with one's own petard : victimized or hurt by one's own scheme

Remember when John Kerry suggested he had international support in his bid for the American presidency?

Kerry said last week that he has talked with several foreign leaders who said they want him to win the presidential election in November in order to introduce "new policies."

Well, he wouldn’t provide the names of these foreign leaders, but today one of them voiced his strong support for Kerry:

He may have not been one of the foreign leaders with whom John Kerry spoke about his presidential candidacy, but former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad endorsed Kerry anyway on Thursday.

The former prime minister, who made headlines in October for saying at an Islamic Summit Conference that "the Muslims will forever be oppressed and dominated by the Europeans and the Jews," said Kerry would keep the world safer than President Bush.
"I think Kerry would be much more willing to listen to the voices of people and of the rest of the world," Mahathir, who retired in October after 22 years in power, told The Associated Press in an interview.

Now that’s irony!

Extra - This is too funny: the Kerry campaign begs foreigners to stop endorsing him. Hahaha!!! Gee, what brought this on?
For the latest updates on the situation in Pakistan, check the Command Post or this thread on Free Republic (over 1500+ posts so far)
Devastating – The Bush campaign has a new ad out using the Kerry “I voted for/against” quote. Click here and follow the links for “Troops – FoG”.

That waffle is going to haunt Senator Splunge worse than the “foreign leaders I can’t name” gaffe.
We’ll see…

“High value target” surrounded in Pakistan - Mansoor Ijaz, Fox News' Foreign Affairs Analyst, reported Thursday that according it is "highly probable that the high value target" that has been surrounded is either Usama bin Laden or al-Zawahri," according to Pakistani intelligence sources.

Update: Bloomberg says it’s Zawahiri

NRO’s Corner says no it’s not.

And here's sorta-reputable Sky News (via Rantburg):

But President Pervez Musharraf said: "(Judging by) the resistance that is being offered by the people there, we feel that there may be a high value target."
Sky News' Foreign Affairs Editor Tim Marshall said: "Most people believe the number two is actually the brains (behind the al Qaeda network)."
And he added: "If it's true it is an enormous strike. It cannot be underestimated."

If it's true.
Observation: Did you notice that whenever there’s an overwhelming consensus in the blogosphere on a particular matter, there’s always somebody out there trying to buck the conventional wisdom and justify a contrary opinion, if only to be a devil’s advocate?

I’m yet to see anybody defend Kerry’s asinine “I voted for it, but against it” statement.

A coveted VP-mention for the first to find anybody (blogger, columnist, DU poster) explaining how Kerry’s waffle was – in actuality! – accurate or helpful to his campaign.
You are not reading this: Viking Pundit’s popularity plunges! Zero visits today?!? I think something’s wrong with Sitemeter.
He is Superman!

Yes, it's Superman - strange visitor from another planet who came to Earth with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men. Superman - who can change the course of mighty rivers, bend steel with his bare hands…”

From the American Spectator:

After paying for all the landscaping on the Sun Valley property, the Kerrys determined that their water supply was not great enough to keep their vegetation thriving. And so the couple petitioned the state [Idaho] to have a small river redirected so that its waters could be used to keep their garden nice and green. The state complied, leaving taxpayers on the hook for the work done. The state covered the cost ostensibly to ensure that the river's redirection would be environmentally sound.

A small price to pay for half-truth, injustice, and the European way!
The waffle king

Here’s Michael Barone in “Kerry takes both sides

The Bush campaign struck hard at John Kerry this week. When Kerry visited West Virginia on Tuesday, the Bush campaign ran an ad in West Virginia media attacking him for voting against the $87 billion supplemental appropriation for Iraq. The ad noted that Kerry voted for the Iraq war resolution but "later voted against funding for soldiers." It went on, "No body armor for troops in combat. No higher combat pay. No to better healthcare for reservists and their families. No–wrong on defense."

Kerry’s response: "I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it."

This response probably hurt–or will hurt–him more than the Bush ad.

I wonder if Karl Rove himself couldn’t have scripted a better line to underscore Kerry’s inability to take a position and his flippant attitude over what was arguably the second most important vote in the Senate last year.
Oxymoron alert - Editorial in today’s WashPost: “Saudis for Human Rights
The insult of flattering minorities

The Boston Globe’s token conservative examines the soft bigotry of low expectations. Nut graf:

Once upon time it was racists who insisted that "nonwhite" was a synonym for "intellectually deficient." Today that attitude is promoted most emphatically by the defenders of affirmative action, a system rooted in the belief that blacks and certain other minorities can't hope to win if they have to compete on a level playing field. And so racial preferences are used to tilt the field in their favor: lower admissions standards at colleges and graduate schools, minority set-asides for government contracts, unofficial racial quotas to benefit those applying for jobs. Racial preferences are clearly a boon for some minorities -- particularly those from upper-middle-class families who know how to leverage them to get into a good school or land a good job or get in on a good investment. But they do no favors for minority groups as a whole. Preferences stigmatize them as less able than other Americans to stand on their own two feet. Many end up resenting those who believe they need such a crutch -- and resenting those who would take it away.

“Leverage them…to get in on a good investment?” I think that was a swipe at Jesse Jackson.

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

"I'm gonna let ya' in on a little secret, Ray. Wal-Mart sucks."

I'm allowed to vent a little on this blog, right? It doesn't have to be politics all the time. Yesterday, during my lunch break, I went to Wal-Mart to buy a gas can and some light bulbs. That's it. Up front, there are four registers open and nobody manning the express lane. Shopping carts are blocking the aisles and an angry mob had formed at the "service" counter. I dumped my stuff on a Snickers display and left.

Today (in a move sure to meet the James Lileks seal-of-approval) I went to Target to get the same stuff. Once again, I felt there weren't enough registers open and I got on line behind (only) three other people. But almost immediately, they opened up another register, and called me over with a jaunty "Over here, sir." Guess where I'm going to do all my shopping?
Can you hear me knockin’? - "Paramilitary troops stormed a fortress-like compound with mortars and machine-gun fire Tuesday, killing 24 suspects in a fierce crackdown on al-Qaida and Taliban fugitives in the rugged tribal regions bordering Afghanistan, the army spokesman said."
Wednesdays are for W

By the pricking of my thumb, something wicked this way comes

Here they come: “Clintons E-mail for Kerry cash

Don’t be fooled by the “official” fundraising totals: the Democrats are organizing with independent groups like MoveOn to circumvent campaign finance laws and pour money into the campaign for their man. Show your support for President Bush now by volunteering for his campaign, or giving what you can in a donation. Also, be sure to visit the George W. Bush website and the “Wictory Wednesday” blogroll. It’s important. Thanks.
The wheels come off the Kerry bandwagon

From the American Spectator Prowler:

Is the Kerry campaign on the verge of imploding? Barely two weeks after unofficially sewing up the nomination, John Kerry doesn't look at all like a candidate who has been leading in the polls. He seems increasingly gaffe-prone, the quality that ultimately sank Howard Dean.

And this was written before the risible “I voted for it but against it” gaffe.
Damned if you do, damned if you don’t

Mickey Kaus poses this question today: “Even if Al Qaeda does not launch Madrid-style attacks in the U.S. right before the November election, isn't it now likely that widespread worry about the possibility of attacks--with constant alerts and an intense police presence in the days before the election--will itself have an effect on the results? It's hard to believe that this effect won't be to help Bush, by putting terrorism (and not jobs or health care) in the forefront of voters' minds.

In the wake of the Madrid bombings and the Spanish election results, it’s inconceivable to me that the Homeland Security Threat Matrix would not be raised to orange in the weeks before November 2nd. In turn, the Democrats would almost certainly denounce it as a political ploy to focus the country’s attention on an issue that helps President Bush’s re-election.
Dick Morris heartily approves how the Bush-Kerry debate is being framed: “Bush ads hit the mark
William Safire in “Scandal at the U.N.” – “The cover-up in the office of the U.N. secretary general of a multibillion-dollar financial fraud known as the Iraqi oil-for-food program is beginning to come apart.”
Gaming the vote on Iraq funding

From a NY Times analysis of the latest Bush ad against Senator Splunge:

ACCURACY Mr. Kerry did vote against an $87 billion supplemental financing bill for military and reconstruction efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan. That bill included provisions for new body armor, special pay increases and expanded health care benefits for mobilized National Guardsmen and Reservists. Mr. Kerry, who has criticized the Bush administration for inadequate body armor supplies, said he voted against the appropriation because he did not support the president's military and reconstruction plans. But he supported a failed amendment that would have paid for the supplement by repealing tax cuts for the wealthy. Mr. Kerry has indicated that he might have voted differently had his vote been decisive. The bill passed the Senate 87 to 12. Mr. Kerry's staff said he had voted for numerous bills to raise pay and expand benefits for military families.

Doesn’t the highlighted statement confirm that Kerry was merely playing politics with the critical issue of funding for troops and Iraq’s rebuilding? He’s in high dudgeon now about the war, but back then the troops were just pawns for his political maneuvering.

Update: Chris Lawrence expands on my original thought here, but mis-spells my name. Oh well.
Quote of the Day: “"I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it” – John Kerry

Runner-up: “We are the ones who get to determine the outcome of this election, not unnamed foreign leaders.” – Dick Cheney

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Senator Splunge flips out on Cuba

Here’s a recent entry on the inaptly named “DBunker” feature on Kerry’s blog:

John Kerry clear on Cuba

BUSH FICTION: John Kerry misstated his own position on Cuba, saying that he voted for Helms Burton when he didn't.
FACT: In 1995 John Kerry voted twice for the Helms Burton law; but voted against it on final passage in 1996 when House Republicans insisted on an unworkable lawsuit provision that would clog our courts and prevent some claims from ever being settled.

This one doesn’t pass the laugh test. Timothy Noah called this prevarication a “Whopper” on Slate:

Kerry aides told Wallsten that Kerry voted against the final bill because he disagreed with some technicalities added at the last minute, but that he voted for an earlier version of the bill. But every piece of legislation that comes before the Senate is subjected to a succession of votes, many of them tactical in nature. The only vote that counts is final passage. If it were otherwise, any legislator could claim to have voted for or against almost any bill, depending on the audience, and there would be no accountability at all.

There is no dishonor in saying, "I supported that bill initially, but some items were added to it that made it impossible for me to continue that support." Instead, Kerry lied, as is his wont.

The issue of Cuba gives Kerry the hives because Presidential politics forces him to betray his true position to appease voters in Florida. Look at how the Senator sidestepped this volatile issue when Tim Russert raised it on “Meet the Press”:

SEN. KERRY: How do you try to begin to push the capacity for change in Cuba? I think we ought to look at that question.
MR. RUSSERT: In travel? What else besides travel? [easing travel restrictions to Cuba]
SEN. KERRY: Possibly flow of money, funding, I—there are things to look at. I think we just have to reevaluate it. And that’s what I said. It’s an honest statement.

It certainly is an honest statement that we should do…stuff. And reevaluate it. Possibly.

Now that’s clarity.

(Cross-posted on Blogs for Bush)
I can’t wait to hear how this is an “unfair” smear

Via California Yankee: “President Bush calls Kerry to task for failing to support troops”

"Few votes in Congress are as important as funding our troops at war. Though John Kerry voted in October 2002 for military action in Iraq, he later voted against funding our soldiers," the ad says.

Here’s Mort Kondracke back in October 2003 when the $87 billion supplemental bill was being debated:

It's true that a poll conducted by Republican Bill McInturff and Democrat Stan Greenberg last week for National Public Radio showed that, by 55 percent to 42 percent, likely voters oppose the $87 billion.

But that's a feeble political reed on which to hang such a momentous decision as the abandonment of U.S. forces in the field and a people who have become America's responsibility.

Likely as not, it will prove a disastrous stance politically, too, especially if conditions improve in Iraq and Bush finally succeeds in convincing voters that his policies in Iraq are working.

In what might have been seen as low-blow politics, Republicans probably were going to accuse a Democratic nominee who criticized Bush's Iraq policy of somehow aiding Hussein and international terrorism.

But now, if the nominee is Dean or Edwards - or Kerry, if he sides with them - Bush can make that charge openly. And, it won't be a low blow. It will be totally true.

Watching Senator Splunge try to explain his vote now that things are improving in Iraq will be delicious. It’ll be more of that tortuous rationalization combined with that thick-tongued drone of a bad Shakespearean actor which has been the hallmark of his campaign.
Feeding the crocodile

Lifted from Little Green Footballs.
John Kerry won’t protect us from terrorists….

…but he’ll make sure the ambulances get to the scene quicker. Bill Hobbs has a must-read post called “John Kerry: Let’s play defense

Do you hear it? It's the language of disengaging from the terrorists, and preparing for when they hit us again. It's the language of switching from offense to defense.

Condolences - Scott Elliott of Election Projects lost both his parents today. They were Baptist missionaries working in Iraq.
Fun facts on Flipper from the CBS/NYT poll

Question #55: “Do you have confidence in John Kerry’s ability to deal wisely with an international crisis, or are you uneasy about his approach?”

Confidence – 33% / Uneasy – 48%

Question #62: “Do you think John Kerry has the same priorities for the country as you have, or not?”

Has – 41% / Does not have – 43%

Question #63: “Do you think John Kerry says what he really believes most of the time, or does he say what he thinks people want to hear?”

What he believes – 33% / What people want to hear – 57%

I find that last one to be absolutely stunning. By a huge margin, Americans think Kerry will say anything to get elected.
Faster please: More companies to hire in the 2nd quarter
Excellent choice of words, Mr. Carpenter

From the NY Times article on that CBS/NYT poll:

"He seems to change his mind or his opinion about things depending on whom he's talking to," David Carpenter, 78, an independent and retired engineer from Wakefield, Mass., said of Mr. Kerry. "He just tries to appease those that are in front of him, and as a result he isn't consistent. The lack of consistency indicates to me that he's trying to appease the people that he's talking to or appeal to them rather than sticking to a straight line. He's done it with the war in Iraq."

All he wants is peace in our time.

Monday, March 15, 2004

Advantage: Viking Pundit!

From one my posts over the weekend - “Minor prediction: there are going to be more polls reflecting a Kerry slump because of (in my opinion) his on-microphone “lying crooks” gaffe.”

And now, via the Hedgehog Report: Bush leads Kerry in CBS/NYT poll

Be sure to check out the “Says what he believes” numbers. Heh-heh.
Kerry's statement on fraudulent coalition member Spain

John Kerry then: The President built a “fraudulent coalition” in Iraq (also, see Andrew Sullivan).

Now: From a “Statement from Kerry on the Terrorist Bombing in Madrid

“In addition to words of condolence and condemnation, America should offer every assistance to Spain in dealing with the aftermath of this tragedy and in bringing those responsible to justice. We must remember that all civilized nations are joined as one in the global battle against terror. While these attacks remind us that the fight is far from over, they also strengthen our resolve to stand together for the right of free people to live in a peaceful world.” [Emphasis added]

So where do you cross the threshold from “fraudulent coalition member” to a legitimate partner in the war on terror? Is it 200 deaths? Just wondering.

(Cross-posted on Blogs for Bush)
The bogus, Heinz-funded “controversy” as exposed in the Weekly Standard: How to stage a controversy
Mark Steyn: The Spanish dishonored their dead

Last Friday, for a brief moment, it looked as if a few brave editorialists on the Continent finally grasped that global terrorism is a real threat to Europe, and not just a Bush racket. But even then they weren't proposing that the Continent should rise up and prosecute the war, only that they be less snippy in their carping from the sidelines as America gets on with it.

John Ellis also expressed hope that the Europeans would “get it” only to be “proven wrong in record time.”
Most direct headline of the day: “John Kerry – Stop lying about your record!”
Crocodile. Tigers. You get the picture.

Winston Churchill: “An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.”

James Lileks: “Vote against the party that maddened the terrorists, so the terrorists will leave you alone for a while – brilliant. It’s like sitting on a cooler of raw meat with tigers prowling around, and deciding to put down your rifle so you can throw some steaks at the tigers. If you throw hard enough, they won’t come back.”
Happy Birthday to Dodd and Dr. Weevil!
People everywhere just got to be free

I loved this line from Damian Penny, commenting on an uprising in Syria:

A free Iran and a free Syria in 2004? We've been let down before - but it's starting to look like a tantalizing possibility (which has absolutely nothing to do with the removal of the totalitarian madman whose regime bordered both countries, of course).

Sheer coincidence, that is.
My two cents on Spain

Everybody seems to believe that the elections in Spain handed the terrorists a huge victory. I’m inclined to agree but remain unconvinced that the terrorist attacks in Madrid were a direct cause of the election results. The prevailing opinion seems to be that the ruling Popular Party had a slight lead and that the terrorist attacks shifted support to the anti-war Socialist Party. But a news search on the Spanish elections prior to the Madrid bombings indicates that the ruling Popular party might have been heading to defeat anyway: “Spain poll forecasts ruling party slippage.”

It’s my opinion that most Spaniards had their mind made up before the terrorist attacks and as a result very few changed their minds right before going to the polls three days later. (I may be completely wrong here, but bear with me for a moment). Sensing a defeat of the ruling party, the terrorists launched an attack. As the Aznar party is swept from power, the terrorists gain new stature as a toppler of pro-American governments. For lack of a better term, the terrorists “jumped on the bandwagon” of the Aznar defeat.

Think of the alternative. Assume that Aznar had a healthy lead going into the polls this past Sunday – would the terrorists have attacked? If they had, and Aznar held onto power, it would have been a repudiation of the terrorists and the anti-American left. Europe and the world would have rallied behind Aznar as he swore to continue the fight against terrorism at home and in Iraq.

I’m probably giving the terrorists much more credit for sophistication than they deserve, but I would be put into this position of rationalization if the Spanish voters had understood that there’s a war going on. Unfortunately, they’ve decided to capitulate and, as a result, they’ve emboldened terrorists everywhere.