Sunday, October 31, 2004

Democrats for Catholics

These are two sides of a piece of mail I got over the weekend. At first, I was simply irritated that JFK2 was trotting out his faux "altar boy" religiosity. Then I read the back (the first image; I can't do scanning well). Way down at the bottom in teeny, tiny type is the legend: "Paid for by the Michigan Democratic State Central Committee, 606 Townsend, Lansing, MI 48933. Not authorized by any candidate or candidate's commitee." In this document, Clinton is praised for the lowest level in 24 years. Clinton. Kerry. Reducing abortion. I think it's insulting. Kerry a Catholic? (2) Posted by Hello

Kerry a Catholic? Posted by Hello

Does Anybody Really Care What Time It Is?

Sunday at the Commissariate. The LA Times doesn't care what the right thing or wrong thing to do in the world is, only Bush and his brain trust "have decided that rather than trying to expand their coalition and possibly water down their agenda, they would rather push for their agenda, even if it meant having to govern in a very partisan way," said Alan Abramowitz, a political scientist at Atlanta's Emory University. "Bush's strategy has focused primarily on energizing the Republican base rather than reaching out to swing voters." And shades of Isaiah Berlin, that dang well makes Bush a hedgehog. The sin here, apparently, is "partisanship" as opposed to "seeking the middle-of-the road" or "caving-into-what-your-adversaries-want." The article's author, Mr. Brownstein, doesn't quite tell us what went right or wrong with Bush's presidency, only that it will change nothing. Well, one thing will change: as others have posted, there are some issues floating around here that it might be prudent to answer. Answering such questions correctly is, of course, preferable, but answering at all is more ethical and moral than sitting around wondering where all those nice politicians of yore (!) went to.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Scrap the Presidential Debates?

Fred Barnes says scrap the presidential debates because we learned very little except that Bush can "grimace and scowl" (first debate) and Kerry was capable of a "gratuitous and nasty reference to Vice President Cheney's daughter Mary as a lesbian." Mr. Barnes asks: "Is this what campaigns for the presidency should turn on?" "The answer," he says, unsurprisingly, "is no." But wait a minute. What if instead of bloodless ciphers who probably have an axe (or butter knife) to grind, like Ifill, Gibson and Schieffer, we had the likes of William F. Buckley, the late Daniel Moynihan, or any of a number of forensically skilled questioners who are experienced in taking depositions, questioning witnesses and marshalling ideas into the verbal tools necessary to get information out of a reluctant candidate? I think the most striking thing about the debates this year is how Kerry used his reputation as a skilled political debater. Mostly, he lied. Mostly he obfuscated. Prez Bush did less of this but his other attempts to convey information was overly-controlled and talking-point-constrained. His steam-rollering of Mr. Gibson concerning Kerry's disparaging of our allies comes to mind. A simple example should suffice. In one of his answers, Senator Kerry said: "Well, let me tell you straight up: I've never changed my mind about Iraq. I do believe Saddam Hussein was a threat. I always believed he was a threat. Believed it in 1998 when Clinton was president. I wanted to give Clinton the power to use force if necessary." Most folks find it ludicrous for Kerry to say he "never changed [his] mind about Iraq," but wouldn't the rest of the answer be fertile ground for follow-up? Always a threat? Even when you voted against removing Saddam from Kuwait? Wanted to give Clinton the power to use force? What power did he ask for? What power did he use? For Prez Bush, a questioner asked: " Mr. President, since we continue to police the world, how do you intend to maintain our military presence without reinstituting a draft?" Wouldn't you have wanted to know, exactly how many of our armed forces are committed to North Korea? To Europe? How are we going to effectuate your goals of making America safer if we don't find the armed forces to do the job? Are there allies out there willing to provide resources to trouble spots around the world? Are these allies all a part of the so-called "Anglosphere?" Can we ever count on the French and/or the Germans? Now, only a naif (such as yours truly) might suggest that candidates with so much at stake would expose themselves to thoughtful questions. But if I weren't an optimist, I wouldn't bother to jettison these (ahem) thoughts to the ether, now would I? The Standard article here

Weekly Standard picks

Weekly Standard predictions I think the guys at the WS decided that they all couldn't project Bush as the winner. My question: how did they decide who had to go for Kerry?

Was watching Ann Coulter debate Peter Beinart at Amherst on CSPAN w/ my teen daughter. Beinart, like Kerry, views debates as forums to bet folks to like you, so you are free to say anything without bothering to be accurate or truthful. For example, he claimed that Prez Bush alleged that Saddam was trying to buy yellowcake in "Neejahr" in the State of the Union address. Why is it that the actual words that a person says are of no meaning to the left? But here's the thing: Beinart, like Kerry, will say anything to get Kerry elected. Further, Kerry's supporters, generally, will blow in whatever wind Kerry's blowing in. If Kerry allies with Hitler's Germany, they support it. If Kerry declares war on Germany, they're for it. (Pardon the Stalin thingie.) When Bush did the steel tariff thing, he lost support. I was irritated. I guarantee that if Bush declared that he was no longer opposed to partial birth abortion, he would drop in the polls like a stone and he, like his father, would be a one-termer. This is a key, key difference between the opposing cultures in this wa -- I mean, election. The left really does not have anything much more than the will to power (I've never read Nietzsche, so forgive me if this is (or isn't) his). Literally. The Clintons come to mind as secondary examples of this. Secondary only in the sense that they are (finally!) not running for office this year. My kid surprised me when halfway through this rant, she said, "I get that, Dad." Made me think that there is hope for the world after all . . .

Friday, October 01, 2004

Who won

When pundits vote on who won the debates, they don't let on whether they are scoring, shall we say, "conservatively," under which regimen only the forensic skills of the debaters are counted, or whether (this is politics after all) the bigger picture is being considered. For example, no one should doubt that Kerry was filled with more information than Bush. He had an assertion and a "fact" for everything important that he wanted to say. In a real debate, he would have had to "prove" his assertions and validate his evidence. In the "cross press conference" from last night, he didn't. He only had to fill in the blank in accordance with the procedural needs of the moment. For example, the rhetorical defense of Kerry's vote-for, vote-against ends up with "which is worse? Saying it or doing it (wrong)" [and I paraphrase]? The "right" forensic answer is: "Prove it that you only 'misspoke.' Prove it that the money wasn't needed to provide the vests and armored Humvees that you say kids are having cookie sales for." But we can't get there from here. If I were Bush I wouldn't worry about losing such a "debate." He's got his work cut out for him, that's for sure, but he also has reality to fall back upon. Unlike Kerry.

Bush Kerry Debate

The debate was zero, zilch, nada. The contestants each have personal shortcomings that seem to have absorbed the attention of the re-viewing public. The real point, however, is that nothing moved during or after the debate. If Bush were to have laughed out loud at Kerry's intemperate remark about stopping America's nuclear research, then the thing might have lurched into a debate. As it was, though, nothing really happened.