Sunday, October 31, 2004

Nation polarized: liberals mystified

It's just bizarre the way that this has happened to our country. I mean, who can tell what reasons there may be for it? It certainly isn't a fire stoked by truckloads of moonbat rhetoric, no sir! Not in any way. That's a very partisan conclusion, because if anything like that is happening, it's happening on both sides. That's right! There's no way one side of the spectrum could be more guilty than the other. It's a fact.

Oh - by the way, the eminent icon of unbiased journalistic integrity (who singlehandedly lost the Vietnam war by declaring it unwinnable after the we kicked NV ass all over the country) asserted this tempered and reasonable opinion of the bin Laden tape on Larry King Live -

CRONKITE: What we just heard. So now the question is basically right now, how will this affect the election? And I have a feeling that it could tilt the election a bit. In fact, I'm a little inclined to think that Karl Rove, the political manager at the White House, who is a very clever man, he probably set up bin Laden to this thing. The advantage to the Republican side is to get rid of, as a principal subject of the campaigns right now, get rid of the whole problem of the al Qaqaa explosive dump. Right now, that, the last couple of days, has, I think, upset the Republican campaign.

Update: Ace sez: "You know, it's sorta funny, isn't it, that Saddam Hussein and OBL could never work together because they disagreed on a few minor points over the proper way to kill Christians, Jews, and problematic Muslims, and yet Rove and bin Ladin seem to get on so swimmingly."

This transcript is solid platinum. It almost makes me forget why I don't watch Larry King Live.

KING: We're back with Walter Cronkite. Why has this campaign -- and you've been through a lot of them -- been so vituperative?

CRONKITE: I think partly because of the nature of the administration.

"And the fact that Bush eats homeless kittens."

CRONKITE: Who's to blame for it really is the intensity of this campaign. Plus the fact that we have a preface to this in the last campaign. What year was that now?

KING: 2000.

CRONKITE: 2000. Thank you very much.

Solid platinum with a set of non-stick cookware thrown in. I can't top that.

KING: Will Ralph Nader be a factor?

CRONKITE: He certainly could be. He was very serious factor with 3 percent of the vote, not quite 3 percent of the vote in 19...

KING: 2000.

CRONKITE: 2000, that is.

My God... Walter topped it.

CRONKITE: Indeed. Indeed. And the thing that in bringing this threat to us, there is almost, in the fact that [bin Laden] dressed well, that he looked well, he was clean shaven, nearly clean shaven as those folks get. It seemed almost, to me, that he wanted to enter into negotiations, that he was really up -- he wants to move into a leadership role in international affairs instead of the role of a brigand.

"In fact, I thought that Osama was looking downright respectable. You know, for one of those folks I mean."

KING: He sure is. Is Iraq the central issue in this campaign?

CRONKITE: I feel it is. I feel it is. We do know that the economy is very important. Unemployment very important to a lot of people. And a lot -- and besides unemployment, there are a lot of people who are poorly paid in the United States today. We've got a poverty list, which is we forget about the percentage of poverty, families in the United States. It's quite shameful. They're to be considered as well.

If the current rate is "shameful", what were the rates in the 90's?

KING: Do you expect a huge [election] turnout?


KING: A huge turnout?

CRONKITE: Oh, yes, I do. I think so. The only thing that could damage the turnout would be the threats that might be implied, as many of the new registrees are challenged as to their various things. Their spelling of their name and the state where they really come from, whether they're immigrants or not, do they have passports, all that kind of thing. If they are challenged at the polls, as they line up to go into the polls, they may fear having to answer all those questions. Particularly if they do have anything wrong about them and shouldn't vote.

People who shouldn't vote might be impeded from going to the polls anyway? The next thing you know, this fascist state might start putting criminals in jail - we're that close to having it happen, folks! Right before our eyes if we don't act now!

But get a load of this name-dropping binge -

KING: A couple of other things. We're all in that zipper club. Have you spoken to president Clinton? You had the surgery.

CRONKITE: I spoke to him shortly after he had his operation, yes.

KING: And what did he say?

CRONKITE: Well, we talked about operations. I'd had one, a quadruple bypass.

KING: You and I have the same doctor.

CRONKITE: Yes, right. So I was giving him my medical advice.

KING: Dr. Wayne Eisam (ph). He's the best.

CRONKITE: That wasn't his surgeon.

KING: No, that wasn't his doctor. They were trying to get Wayne. He was out of town or something.

CRONKITE: Is that what happened? I mentioned it, and he kind of passed over it. But Wayne is an amazing doctor.

KING: Amazing.

"You, me, and Billy C; we're that happy, hip zipper club." So is that how it works? When a president gets put out to pasture, you have to start hanging out with the most sycophantic journalists from your term? Sort of a reward I guess; they and their protoges keep the scrutiny of the nation as far from you as it can plausibly get (or farther), and you have to sit around kvetching about health in their twilight years. A term in the White House is starting to sound more like a punishment. I'm feeling a rare moment of sympathy for Clinton.

KING: You're a great credit to [the human] race. Thank you, Walter.

Must... not... read more... King transcripts... closing browser... now.

What did Kerry know, and when did he know it?

Deborah at Pajama Journal points out this transcript of a Kerry interview by NBC.

Brokaw: This week you've been very critical of the president because of the missing explosives in Iraq. The fact is, senator, we still don't know what happened to those explosives. How many for sure that were there. Who might have gotten away with them? Is it unfair to the president, just as you believe he's been unfair to you, to blame him for that?

Kerry: No. It's not unfair. Because what we do know, from the commanders on the ground, is that they went there, as they marched to Baghdad. We even read stories today that they broke locks off of the doors, took photographs of materials in there. There were materials. And they left.

But John, you came out swinging at this on the day the story broke - the details you mention didn't come out until after that. So it was unfair at first, and then just sort of became fair? (Brokaw, you lightweight) Hold on - let me guess. These stories were seared -- seared -- into your memory in Cambodia, on Christmas eve of 1968. Well, I guess that explains everything.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

The Left Right Debate

A new link appeared appeared in ye olde blogroll a few days ago to a new blog called The Left Right Debate. Long story short, lefties and righties post on the same page with the hope of lefty and righty commenters hashing out the issues in non-echo chamber surroundings. The paint's hardly dry, and it's already looking interesting.

I've been invited to sully the pages of that blog by cross-posting anything that isn't crass enough to pre-empt honest debate. Don't ask me what they were thinking. Just stop by and check it out.

Right-click, save

For days now, I've been getting dozens of search hits on various permutations of "Maureen Dowd Rolling Stone picture" (a consequence of this post), primarily from Yahoo and MSN. Bizarrely, both engines' top result for this search turns up a Rolling Stone interview with Bruce Springstein. Honestly, I had no idea that it was that difficult (or desirable) to find, but since an awful lot of people seem to be having trouble, let me help you all out.
Incidentally, Bruce informs us that "I am a dedicated Times reader, and I've found enormous sustenance from Paul Krugman and Maureen Dowd on the op-ed page." It doesn't even show, Bruce. I certainly wouldn't have guessed.

Friday, October 29, 2004

But what else is new

Media Fund, the latest pet of Harold Ickes, is a 527 attack vehicle which has run 17 negative ads against Bush since March according to, though their combined web sites offer quite a few more than that.

Media Fund Twists the Truth More Than Michael Moore (link to the ad)

This anti-Bush radio ad is among the worst distortions we've seen in what has become a very ugly campaign. It states as fact some of the most sensational falsehoods that Michael Moore merely insinuated in his anti-Bush movie Farenheit 9/11 .

The ad was released Oct. 25 by The Media Fund, an independent Democratic group run by former Clinton deputy chief of staff Harold Ickes. It falsely claims that members of the bin Laden family were allowed to fly out of the US "when most other air traffic was grounded," though in fact commercial air traffic had resumed a week earlier.

The ad also falsely claims that the bin Laden family members were not "detained," when in fact 22 of them were questioned by the FBI before being allowed to leave -- and their plane was searched as well.

And by the way, the man who gave approval for the flight wasn't Bush or even any of his close aides, it was former White House anti-terrorism chief Richard Clarke, now one of Bush's strongest critics.

This one is wrong, wrong, wrong. Let us count the ways:

Do go count the ways. I wonder if all of them are this accurate? And people can't figure out where vein-popping Bush haters come from...

But isn't this ad illegal for a 527 to run? I thought they couldn't explicitly endorse a candidate. Not that Clinton and illegal aren't peas in a pod.

Was that a threat?

I could swear that I just heard Kerry say that "I'll show you what love is like for the next four years". I won't sleep well.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

My hat's in the ring

Watching John Kerry, I've realized how very simple it is to run for president. I like simple things, and I'd like to be The Leader of the Free World™, so it is my pride and honor to announce my candidacy for the 2004 presidential election. Sorry I missed the debates, but here's my pitch.

Half of the lifetime of our sun is gone - squandered - and this arrogant administration has done nothing to prevent this. In four to five billion years, Sol will enter its red phase, expanding to such a size that it will envelop the Earth if our planet is not blown into outer orbit by the release of solar mass. Every form of life on this planet larger than a microbe will be destroyed, and this president can't even admit that he's done anything wrong! In 160,000,000 generations, our progeny will either die in a fiery inferno, suffocate on a planet blasted out of it's own atmosphere, or freeze to death in entropic energy loss when our star shrinks to a white dwarf.

In leading us in a rush to extinction, this president has recklessly condemned our entire species. He never, not even once, explored multilateral alternatives. He hasn't got a plan, no plan, to insure the survival of our species - and no other candidate does either. Well let me tell you, I am a man who has plans, and none of them involve destroying America!

Oh, and death to terrorists. I plan to kill all of them. And Tuesdays will be Senior Discount Day at the Ponderosa buffet.

It's not a tough choice. Write me in on Nov. 2.

And the winner is...

The stupidest issue of the 2004 presidential race is... 380 tons of explosives!

It isn't that it isn't a newsworthy story; it is. They were U.N.-tagged materials, they can be used to trigger nukes, and there's speculation that the pre-war Russian convoy was spiriting them away which, if true, has very newsworthy implications. Iraq is a situation that explosives have been playing a large role in, but there's been no suggestion that these explosives were even there when we arrived in April. What are the odds that I.E.D.'s would be getting cobbled together with materials salvaged from mortar and artillery shells if the insurgents had 380 tons of some of the most powerful explosives known available?

It isn't that hundreds of tons of missing explosives isn't significant; they are. The damage potential of hundreds of tons of RDX, HDX, and PETN is enormous. However, when some estimates place the tonnage of other unaccounted-for conventional munitions in the hundreds of thousands of tons, even 380 tons of these explosives shrinks dramatically in perspective. The nuclear component potential of the materials, in my estimation, is little more than a scare point for the article. I'm not uncomfortable assuming that anyone who has the technology to put such materials to use had little trouble aquiring them already.

It isn't even that it's unreasonable to expect that someone would know more about it than anyone appears to; that's a perfectly reasonable expectation. These materials were tagged roughly a decade ago, the IAEA had eyes on the materials as recently as January 2003, and visited the site in March. I would think that in the 18 months since the country fell, there would have been somebody making an effort to match up IAEA's records with sites and actual inventory. If the materials had been known to be missing, how come no one had yet made an effort to determine when they went missing?

No, this is stupid because it's being called a "defining issue" of this race and it's not even a presidential matter in the first place. If these materials disappeared after we took control of that area -- and it would be nice if John Kerry appeared to even realize that an 'if' is involved -- that's a mistake much farther down the command chain than the oval office.

The public education we deliver has been floundering for decades, the next four years of the war on terror will shape foreign affairs for decades to come, we have substantive matters to consider in energy policy, tort reform, health care, foreign policy, and the list goes on - with all of that to weigh, the race is supposed to be defined by a mistake that may not have even happened, and didn't happen at the white house if it did happen?

"Stupidest issue of 2004." Let's talk about something that matters. Oh, and a fond "go screw yourselves" to CBS & the NYT.

Flu blogging

There's a reason that it's not the hottest thing in Pajamistan.

Damn you, John Edwards; damn you from the pit of my lower intestine.

World's luckiest woman

It's got to be Suha Arafat.

Not only has she not seen Yassir since 2001, not only is he in precarious health, not only has he siphoned millions of dollars of Palestinian funds into what is poised to be her retirement account, but there's even a chance that he's not going to join her in Paris. She just can't stop winning.

Deborah Sontag delivers a unique mental image that's sure to delight me for hours -

Sitting in a bodyguard's lap, her daughter, Zahwa, bilingual in French and Arabic, chattered away until they rounded a corner under a giant billboard of Yasir Arafat. "Papa!" she said merrily, looking herself like the image of the Palestinian leader -- if he could be imagined as a 3-year-old girl with a blue hair ribbon.

Did I say hours? I'll be having giggle fits for days.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Thank me later

Europe's struggle to define itself in recent years has moved me to lend a hand.

SARDONIC sâr'dânik adj.

Lack of European experts has held up the excavation of mass graves in Iraq, according to an American human rights lawyer working on the investigation.

Greg Kehoe said the experts were not joining in because evidence might be used to sentence Saddam Hussein to death.

Europe: useless to the crust mantle core.

Mr Kehoe, who spent five years investigating mass graves in Bosnia for the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, said he wanted to have collected far more evidence by now, and cited the delay as one reason why the IST has yet to issue formal charges against Saddam and 11 other former regime leaders.

If you don't hear the shrill wailing of Amnesty International, they're probably hyperventilating.

How would they vote?

John Fabrication Kerry

Via Armies of Liberation - Kerry's stances on Cuba open to attack

''I'm pretty tough on Castro, because I think he's running one of the last vestiges of a Stalinist secret police government in the world,'' Kerry told WPLG-ABC 10 reporter Michael Putney in an interview to be aired at 11:30 this morning.

Then, reaching back eight years to one of the more significant efforts to toughen sanctions on the communist island, Kerry volunteered: "And I voted for the Helms-Burton legislation to be tough on companies that deal with him.''

It seemed the correct answer in a year in which Democratic strategists think they can make a play for at least a portion of the important Cuban-American vote -- as they did in 1996 when more than three in 10 backed President Clinton's reelection after he signed the sanctions measure written by Sen. Jesse Helms and Rep. Dan Burton.

There is only one problem: Kerry voted against it.

Well... ok, so maybe he didn't actually mean that he voted for it, per se, but he, you know, kind of voted about it, which is almost the same thing, right?

Asked Friday to explain the discrepancy, Kerry aides said the senator cast one of the 22 nays that day in 1996 because he disagreed with some of the final technical aspects. But, said spokesman David Wade, Kerry supported the legislation in its purer form -- and voted for it months earlier.

He did not just say that Kerry voted for the legislation before he voted against it... My bad, Jane was right - he did indeed.

Kerry will also rue past votes supporting loosened restrictions on travel and cash ''remittances'' that Cubans are allowed to send back to the island, Republicans said. They point to a 2000 Boston Globe interview in which Kerry called a reevaluation of the trade embargo ''way overdue'' and said that the only reason the United States treated Cuba differently from China and Russia was the "politics of Florida.''

If that's what Kerry calls being "tough on Castro", than what does he mean when he makes noises about being "tough on terror"? Does his plan involve funding Saudi madrassas and a bomb belt tax credit?

But there are also constant reminders that Kerry struggles with the complexities of Cuba. Asked in the Herald interview last year about sending Elián back to Cuba, Kerry was blunt: "I didn't agree with that.''

But when he was asked to elaborate, Kerry acknowledged that he agreed the boy should have been with his father.

So what didn't he agree with?

''I didn't like the way they did it. I thought the process was butchered,'' he said.

So he didn't disagree with sending Elian back - he disagreed with the reckless and irresponsible way that Clinton rushed to extradition. We should have assembled a grand coalition to repatriate Elian, and Clinton failed to do that; he didn't make the effort to win the world's approval and pass the global test. But did he have a plan to win the peace, John?

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Nice Work If You Can Get It

How does a governing body like the European Commission assess whether it's able to do what people want? Eurosoc points out that it pays someone to tell it that it needs more powers (and more money to pay for such studies).

So, can I hire someone to determine that I need a raise?

Useful idiot

Via Pajama Journal - Discovered papers: Hanoi directed Kerry

The first documentary evidence that Vietnamese communists were directly steering John Kerry's antiwar group Vietnam Veterans Against the War has been discovered in a U.S. archive, according to a researcher who spoke with WorldNetDaily.

One freshly unearthed document, captured by the U.S. from Vietnamese communists in 1971 and later translated, indicates the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese delegations to the Paris peace talks that year were used as the communications link to direct the activities of Kerry and other antiwar activists who attended.

Kerry not only built a 20 year career on his experience as a communist tool, but is now poised within 5 points of becoming president as a result. How could we be this close to electing a professional useful idiot?

Incidentally, if you haven't perused the VVAW/Kerry FBI file, VVAW was pretty clearly a communist mechanism. After skimming just a bit of their literature, I don't find it credible that any member who could count above 10 with their shoes on wouldn't be well aware of it. Do not elect a propagandist who agitated against our country on behalf of the enemy.

Update: Jane has a roundup of information on this, including this link to Say Anything.

Lies and the lying Kerry's who tell them

Kerry slams Bush over missing Iraq explosives

"George W. Bush, who talks tough, talks tough, and brags about making America safer has once again failed to deliver," Kerry said.

"After being warned about the danger of major stockpiles of explosives in Iraq this president failed to guard those stockpiles,” he said. “Terrorists could use this material to kill our troops, our people, blow up airplanes and level buildings.”

"Now we know our country and our troops are less safe because this president failed to do the basics, this is one of the great blunders of Iraq one of the great blunders of this administration,” he added.

"The incredible incompetence of this president and this administration has put our troops at risk and our country at greater risk than we ought to be.

"The unbelievable blindness, stubbornness, arrogance of this administration to do the basics has now allowed this President to once again fail the test of being commander in chief.”

There's a problem, however - the explosives were never available for guarding.

NBC said that on April 10, 2003 -- a day after Baghdad fell -- one of its news crews was embedded with the U.S. Army's 101st Airborne Division when the troops arrived at the Al Qaqaa storage facility south of Baghdad.

While the troops found large stockpiles of conventional explosives, they did not find HMX or RDX, the types of powerful explosives that were said to have disappeared, NBC said.

Ereli said coalition forces searched 32 bunkers and 87 other buildings at the Al Qaqaa facility after the war for weapons of mass destruction. The troops found none, but did see indications of looting, he said. Bush declared an end to major combat operations in Iraq on May 1, 2003.

"Some explosive material at the time was discovered, although none of it carried IAEA seals, and this discovery was reported to coalition forces for removal of the material," Ereli said. (source)

I'd bet anyone a bazillion dollars that Kerry will never explain how these explosives having been moved before the wrong war started in the wrong place at the wrong time is a "failure to do the basics", but Kerry's pre-empted me by once again taking both positions.

First, the president did not "do the basics" - "Now we know our country and our troops are less safe because this president failed to do the basics, this is one of the great blunders of Iraq one of the great blunders of this administration”

Then, the president did "do the basics" (albeit blindly, stubbornly, and arrogantly) - "The unbelievable blindness, stubbornness, arrogance of this administration to do the basics has now allowed this President to once again fail the test of being commander in chief.”

At least he's consistant in saying that anything the administration has or has not ever done was a failure - he hasn't waffled on that yet, has he?

More filthy lies from Kerry

Kerry Flubs Bosox Score, Again

"Ten-9, the Sox did fabulous," Kerry said with a big smile as he ducked into church Sunday morning in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Inside, the minister had asked worshippers to clap "if the Lord has done anything wonderful in your life this week," and Kerry applauded.

"Coming from Boston, I had a special reason to clap," Kerry explained to the congregation when he took the pulpit. "The Red Sox won 10-9."

Kerry spokesman David Wade said the senator got the score wrong because 10-9 was the last update he got from the pilot during his late-night flight to Florida.

Problem is, the score never was 10-9. The Red Sox won on a two-run homer, meaning they went from 9 runs to 11.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Character matters

Bill at INDC Journal picks out the salient point of the latest Kerry fabrication.

Kerry manufactured meetings out of whole cloth and then presented them as justification for a serious contradiction of George Bush's decision to go to war.

He did something very similar when he previously recited a false story on the Senate floor about an illegal mission into Cambodia, using it as a basis for criticism of Ronald Reagan's intent to provide aid to the Nicaraguan contras.

These aren't exaggerations. This isn't a case of lying about sex. It's a story about a man that's pathological enough to look a nationally televised audience of 55 million people in the eye and tell them a manufactured story, and then use it to propose a conclusion about a deadly serious matter of foreign policy.

But does he keep a magic sock from Kofi Annan in his briefcase?

This is a pattern of Kerry behavior - manufacturing evidence to support a worldview - that has endured for three decades. We can't let this man near the White House.

Best blogs results

The Washington Post's 2004 Best Blogs Politics & Elections Readers' Choice Awards results are finally in - is anyone surprised?

This election season, give the gift of decisiveness

Will Thomson, a producer for WBUR radio in Boston, hit my inbox with a little something for the "undecided" in your life - an interesting issue-based poll. Select as many candidates as you like for review, and the questions that follow give you blind agree/disagree choices on 20 issues. The ADD-afflicted can even quit early and see the results. It didn't tell me anything I didn't already know, but for being sponsored by a Boston area radio station, I thought it was pretty fair.

You agreed with...
John Kerry (Democratic) on 4 issues
Social Security, Trade, Foreign Policy, Gay Marriage

George Bush (Republican) on 18 issues
Abortion, Poverty, Social Security, Intelligence , USA Patriot Act, United Nations, Iraq, Affirmative Action programs, Deficit, Trade, Foreign Policy, Health Care, Economy, Outsourcing, Homeland Security, Energy/Environment, Terrorism/Homeland Security, Education

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Stolen Honor free

Via E-nough - the documentary Stolen Honor is now available for free download (12.3 MB; 42 min; Windows Media; magnet link*) or viewing. It's far from DVD-quality - I'd still encourage you to buy a copy - but it's more than good enough to get its message across.

Conservatives may get smug satisfaction out of it (ok, they will), but it's liberals that I'd most encourage to have a look. In particular, I'd call to account every liberal who formerly said that everyone - regardless of political orientation - should see Farenheit 9-11 (whether or not said liberal acknowledged that film's many problems). If you thought that it was important for conservatives to see that film in order to understand your view of matters, I'm now speaking directly to you. I watched it; it's time to practice what you preach.

It's important for you to see this film for more than just the upcoming election. In fact, this film isn't likely to have any affect on your vote at all, your mind is probably made up. Being an enemy propagandist is probably something you applaud Kerry for anyway, so if anything it'll lock your vote down - it's the rest of the message that I'd like you to hear and consider.

I'm not convinced that you learned the lessons that should have come out of our country's experience in Vietnam. I'm not entirely sure you understand that supporting our troops means more than saying "Of course I support our troops". Listen to these former POW's - they'll explain it. Make an effort to understand the dynamics of the situation they describe, and you'll understand why there are lines where free speech ends for anyone of decency; it should become clear why there are wrong places and wrong times for opposition. If you've found yourself wondering what conservatives are ranting about when they get on these topics, here's your chance to understand.

* Magnet link requires a Gnutella client, such as Bearshare or Limewire.

Friday, October 22, 2004

What Afghan election?

Alaa at The Messopotamian points out the relative silence surrounding the election in Afghanistan, and the things that it should signify -

Now those who have eyes can see, but the blindness of the heart is blacker than the blindness of the eye. And all those who shed crocodile tears over the “invasion” of an Islamic land, and raised such a din of noise about the injustice perpetrated against “fellow Muslims”, and all that; all those, do they learn from the “message” of the silent lines of thousands of Afghans waiting at polling stations. Can they get it through their sculls? The people have spoken, loud and clear, they have spoken; the silent majority has spoken at last when given the slightest chance. So Karzai, the American puppet; the stooge; the agent appointed by the CIA etc. etc., Karzai gets the overwhelming vote of the Afghan people! What say you, oh pundits and wizards who have talked so much and pontificated so much, you who claimed to know all there is to know about these people, and told us so often of how wrong it was to interfere, how wrong it was to rid them of the Taliban and Al Qaeda etc. etc. Do you have some little decency left in you to eat your words? I guess not.

Alaa's on a tear - read the rest.

The more things change

Via The BUFFALOg - Longest. Headline. Ever.

Kerry's FBI files reveal comments from Buffalo chapter of Vietnam Veterans Against the War

Most of us know that John Kerry was one of the leaders of the group "Vietnam Veterans Against the War" back in the early 1970's.

Little known though is how the Buffalo chapter of the group felt about Kerry.

Using the Freedom of Information Act, Channel 2 News has obtained hundreds of pages of Kerry's FBI files directly from the agency's headquarters in Washington.

A memo dated November 10, 1971 from the Buffalo FBI office to its Washington headquarters states that the Buffalo chapter of Vietnam Veterans Against the War wanted the national group to condemn Kerry because of his "wealthy family background and his political aspirations."

The memo went on to say that the Buffalo group felt that "Kerry supported the U.S. government and was only using V.V.A.W. to further his political aspirations."

In a coincidence of history, Kerry actually spoke in Buffalo at U.B.'s Main Street campus shortly after the memo was written. There, he told students there were "two Americas. One filled with slogans from our leaders, the other, reality."

Kerry would use almost those exact same words 33 years later during his presidential campaign when talking about the situation in Iraq.

So even VVAW thought he was a disingenuous opportunist (and such a sentiment coming from that crowd is a statement in itself). Kerry's been singing the same tune in the same key for over 30 years, but remember - John Colapinto assures us that President Bush is the candidate "whose entire strategy is to never change at all, no matter what the facts are."

Creamhadeen charge Coulter

Ann Coulter drives liberals into a berzerker rage by equating them to terrorists - they can't figure out why she would.

"Al Pieda" Targets Ann Coulter

OCTOBER 22--Meet "Al Pieda" disciples Phillip Edgar Smith and William Zachary Wolff. The Tucson men, both 24, were arrested last night after throwing custard cream pies at author Ann Coulter during her speech at the University of Arizona. Portions of the pies connected with the conservative commentator's face and shoulder, according to this police report, which quotes Smith saying that he and Wolff were "throwing the pies at her ideas not at her." Cops also noted that a post-arrest search of the assailants turned up "pieces of paper (propaganda) involving Coulter's name and the explanation of 'Al Pieda.'" Smith, a UA student, and Wolff were charged with criminal damage, a felony, and misdemeanor counts of disorderly conduct, vandalism, and assault without injury. The felony charge resulted from damage to a backdrop that school officials estimated at $3000.

So, guys, which did you hit - her or "her ideas"? I trust you'll have opportunities to explore the difference between the two starting... oh, about now.

Laser tag 'unconstitutional' ruling upheld

Remind me again why the U.S. arrogantly refuses to get entangled in goofy international court schemes?

EU backs German laser game ban

THE European Union's top court has backed a German ban on laser-tag games in which players simulate killing each other in a maze.

"The affront to human dignity posed by that activity justifies a restriction on the freedom to provide services," the European Court of Justice ruled.

Police in the German city of Bonn in 1994 prohibited a German company, Omega Spielhallen- und Automatenaustellungs-GmbH, from operating a "Laserdrome."

German authorities argued that "acts of simulated homicide and the ensuing trivialisation of violence" violated the principle of human dignity in the German constitution.

The owners appealed to Germany's federal administrative court, which sought a ruling from the European court in Luxembourg as to whether the ban contravened the freedom to provide services under EU law.

The German ban only applies to a version of the game that involves shooting at human targets.

Now I remember.

Arabs weigh in on the US election

Iraqi bloggers have been putting forward their thoughts on the upcoming presidential election here in the US for some time now, mostly in favor of Bush (although that support is not entirely unconditional). However, the tinfoil-clad among us are wont to explain that the Iraqi bloggers, with the exception of Riverbend, are CIA propaganda plants and not actual Iraqis.

The brothers at Iraq The Model periodically challenge this by translating comments and opinions from places like the BBC's Arabic forum to show that most of their views are not that unusual among Iraqis (or folks in the middle east in general), in stubborn contrast to the proclamations of the doom-and-gloom crowd. They've done it again - I only wish they had the time and inclination to do this more often.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Spiegel asks - you answer

David alerts us that Spiegel is once again hosting polls; naturally, this calls for a drive to get out the vote. The polls are here - the first is "who do you want for president", the second is "who do you think will win". Make your selection, and click "abstimmen" (you must vote on each separately).

Will this be a repeat of the ZDF incidents (one and two)? We'll have to see how it pans out.

All the world's a stage

Fidel Castro appears poised for a career change, jockeying for recognition as the new Rich Little with the most credible impersonation of Gerald Ford since Chevy Chase. Break a leg, Fidel! Oh, you did... nevermind.

I used to read this?

I experienced a blast from the past today - a visit to the journalism of Rolling Stone Magazine. Many were the afternoons that a younger self spent in the bedroom or apartment of an aquaintance picking over one story or another in Rolling Stone magazine, for no better reason than it was cool to do so. I can't even recall a single one of the articles; dozens and dozens of issues, and not one article was more significant than the fact that I'd read it and found something to say about it. A glance at the first Rolling Stone article that I've seen in a decade is enough to suggest why that might be as Rolling Stone politics interviews Maureen Dowd.

Under the headline "Ms. Bush-Bash" dangles a question for the reader to deliberate over the course of the exchange - "Does anyone understand Dubya better than New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd?". It occurs to me that's a bit like asking "Does anyone know more about being a jungle commando than Sylvester Stallone", but since I haven't even made it to the article yet I let it slide. My eyes next flit to the honeyed caption beneath a photograph of MoDo; "Striking with precision and psychological acuity". I wonder if Rolling Stone has also applauded the tact and sensitivity of Marge Schott as I'm already having second thoughts about reading the article. I venture in anyway.

Maureen Dowd isn't simply a Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times op-ed columnist. She's also the pre-eminent Bush-basher in the country, which is saying something when you trawl the mountains of I-hate-Bush books in your local Barnes & Noble. What puts Dowd, 52, miles above the armies of foaming leftist ranters is the precision and psychological acuity of her strikes. In her recent book, Bushworld (a collection of her writings on the Bush family from 1992 to 2004), she fingers the Bush cabal's first term as the "most astonishing and dangerous subordination of American history to particular psyches I've ever seen" and documents how world events have fulcrumed around the paranoid insecurities, macho posturings and sour cynicism of a small handful of neocon warmongers, with the "barking mad" Dick Cheney and his yapping lap dog, George W., at the helm. Here, Dowd grapples to explain the enduring popularity of a president who, as she puts it, "has done everything wrong."

It's staggering... it's stunning... it's left me in need of a beer. I vaguely recall that Rolling Stone articles often kissed the flesh off the ass of their subjects, but the sycophantic scrawlings of John "T ball stand" Colapinto are almost supernatural. MoDo isn't one of the foaming letist ranters, she's miles above them; not just any old Bush-basher, but the pre-eminent harpy, and a chronicler of the Bush cabal. In fact, I'll have to re-read it, but I think that it said that MoDo's callow jeering has single-handedly delivered us all from the catastrophic aftermath of the electoral college since 2000. Scratch that beer - double Johnny Walker black on the rocks, please. I must press on; I just have to see if our sage of the op-ed page ever pauses to wonder if half the country supports him because they don't swallow her posit that Bush "has done everything wrong".

You've written all these columns ripping the Bush administration, yet it doesn't seem to be changing the public mind. Is that discouraging?

I think the American public is brilliant. They get it. But we all succumb to certain things, and presidential races are about proving who is the strongest father. And Bush is just doing it better. I'm not like other commentators who say, "The public isn't getting it." People have great responses, and if they respond, then it means the politician is doing something effective.

I suppose I didn't really need to go as far as reading the very first question to realize that no, it will not ever cross her mind that she could be the one not "getting it". It's more likely to her that the half of the electorate which does not sound like her has been hoodwinked by the slick, ineloquent, shrewd, retarded, complex schemes of the simple svengali who swept them under his mental domination with a Jedi mind trick.

I'm already thinking that a look into the mind of Maureen Dowd is like a look at the ingredients of liverwurst (something not meant for the eyes of decent folk), so I start skimming. It's enough to paint the general picture
  • "they've jammed through a lot of superconservative domestic policies -- judges and harsh environmental stuff. A lot of people don't like that."
  • People are "so rattled that we haven't caught Osama"
  • "we have over 150,000 kids stuck in Iraq"
  • "we have cut and run" from Iraq
  • "The guys in my office at the Times are joking that the Clintonistas surrounding Kerry are sort of like Queer Eye for the Straight Guy -- Bubba Eye for the Brahmin Guy"
  • John points out that Bush is "an opponent whose entire strategy is to never change at all, no matter what the facts are"; MoDo agrees emphatically, adding a with a wistfull backwards glance that "the template of the Clinton War Room should have been in place a year ago" (for the Kerry campaign)
  • "W. is running such a visceral, hormonal campaign, all about fear and testosterone"
  • "Kerry just made a very cerebral case that Bush is in a fantasy world and that he's not leveling with the American public"
  • "It was very much the Bush family thing of "Trust us, we know best, leave it to us, we're born to rule, stay out of it"
  • "He's used to being in this cossetted environment where the only people he ever talks to are handpicked, pre-screened supporters who love him"
  • "I stopped buying French wine and French mayonnaise. I'm very patriotic."
  • "the 9/11 Commission pointed out that we're going to have to try to understand the world and not bomb the world into democracy"

And in the midst of all that I find this discombobulation -

So you don't necessarily go with the characterization of Bush as dumb?

If Bush is dumb, why is he running Kerry around in circles? He never took advantage of his opportunities in terms of Yale and Harvard or absorbed as much as he could have in his father's White House. But I think he's bright. . . . Although in emotional IQ, I don't know, because he's still under the impression -- the Bushes have a preference for deference -- that Cheney is his butler to power. W. said in the [Bob] Woodward book that he trusts Cheney because he's not a vice president who would be looking at his own ambition. But at the same time, Cheney has sort of taken over the whole world -- and W. still thinks he's deferential because he calls W. "the man." He led W. down this path of going to Iraq. So in that sense I think he's malleable, and that's what I'm getting at when I call him the Boy King.

After a look inside the head of Maureen Dowd, I would encourage her to try getting into someone else's head for a bit - anyone's head. Maybe Paige Davis could get Miss Cleo and Dionne Warwick to cohost "Trading Psyches". MoDo's been inhaling the fumes of upper west Manhattan for too long; I've inhaled enough second-hand Manhattan from this article to make me dizzy. Was Rolling Stone always like this? I'm beginning to understand how I wound up a registered Democrat. To answer that tantalizing invitation to contemplation below the headline -- "Does anyone understand Dubya better than New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd?" -- yes. Ringworms understand Dubya better than Maureen Dowd.

Cup your ear to the north

Trudeaupia reminds us why we have a second amendment - so that we can do this.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Kerry will destroy education as we know it

Mrs. Heinz Kerry seems to have graced us with another precious glimpse into the "inner Kerry", letting slip her husband's January surprise during an interview with USA Today -

Q: You'd be different from Laura Bush?

A: Well, you know, I don't know Laura Bush. But she seems to be calm, and she has a sparkle in her eye, which is good. But I don't know that she's ever had a real job — I mean, since she's been grown up.

A million or so educators nationwide were undoubtedly shocked to discover that they did not have real jobs, and I suspect that library technicians were similarly disheartened to hear confirmation of what many have long suspected.

It's hard to imagine that Mama T had no idea that Laura Bush had been both school teacher and librarian for years; she is, in effect, a candidate running against Laura, and even if she doesn't quite see it that way we can all rest assured that her husband's campaign does. In that light, it seems almost certain (read: more certain than a Bush draft, anyway) that Kerry intends to close our schools and declare libraries unconstitutional. The funds which will no longer be wasted providing psuedo-jobs will undoubtedly come in handy paying for The Mother of All Health Subsidies. I have to applaud Kerry's chutzpah - it takes real guts for a Democrat to eviscerate one of their key voting blocks this way.

But wait - Tuhraysuh's not done.

So her experience and her validation comes from important things, but different things. And I'm older, and my validation of what I do and what I believe and my experience is a little bit bigger — because I'm older, and I've had different experiences. And it's not a criticism of her. It's just, you know, what life is about.

Mama T reminds us that we are all but little people, from the least of us to Laura Bush herself, and you must realize that she is just a little bit bigger. As peasants, of course, our obligation is to recognize her husband's divine right of rule and elect him president. And what role in this whole affair is played by her original nationality?

Q: You'd be just the second first lady who was born abroad, the first who had two foreign parents. Do you think that causes Americans any pause?

A: Well, Americans who pause probably don't know history very well, because we are all from somewhere. We are continually being from somewhere. And in such a young country as this — it's not like we're talking, you know, old Europe. We are constantly renewing our energy and our knowledge and our heart and our soul, enriched like no other country in that sense. And to fear that or disparage that I don't think is American. And I never hear that out there.

Ah, it will serve the crucial role of serving as a reminder to we cowboy upstarts that we are just a young country. We poor, ignorant Americans have no history, as demonstrated by the fact that we don't know or understand our history, and that our energy and knowledge must be renewed from countries that are not young like this - we're talking, you know, old Europe.

But folks, put your hands together for Mary Beth Cahill - she must have noticed that Mama T was dismissing constituents like John dismisses allies. She wrung an apology statement out of Mama T within the same news cycle - nice work, Mary Beth.

"I appreciate and honor Mrs. Bush's service to the country as first lady, and am sincerely sorry I had not remembered her important work in the past," Heinz Kerry's statement said.

Does anyone know if President Bush's Healthy Forest intitative will reduce the risk of brush fires on Mama T's head?

Hand me that ratchet

In a bid to establish equivalency, nearly every news media outlet has been telling us for the last week or so that "both sides are ratcheting up the rhetoric" in the final stretch of this electoral campaign. I've disagreed, being of the opinion that Bush is just stumping more often, but saying pretty much what he's been saying all along, and that the Kerry camp is the only one really getting foamy about the mouth. While I haven't found anyone yet who's noted that escalation from the Bush side of the ballot yet, Rodger from This Isn't Writing, It's Typing seems to have made the same observation about the Kerry camp -

In the past 10 days or so, the Kedwards campaign has:
  • Accused the Bush administration of planning to reinstitute a military draft.
  • Recycled the "no blood for oil" canard of the looney left.
  • Alleged that the Bush administration is somehow in the pocket of the Saudi royal family.
  • Told voters that, if they elect John Kerry, "people like Christopher Reeve are going to walk, get up out of that wheelchair and walk again."
  • Suggested that President Bush was planning a "January surprise" to privatize Social Security.
  • Advised Democratic campaign workers to launch a "pre-emptive strike" charging voter "intimidation" on election day even if no evidence exists.
  • Warned Florida voters that Republicans are "trying to keep people from voting."
  • Blamed the flu vaccine shortage on President Bush.
  • Twice called attention to the fact that Mary Cheney is a lesbian.
If you didn't know better, you might think they were getting desperate.

Are the Republicans really anywhere near this? The feckless media's being handled day by day, but the Democrat party may require a name change to effect honest recognition of it's character - maybe it's time to rename it The Populist Party.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

What WMD?

Via Erik from No Pasaran! -

Weapons cache stuns Canucks

Canadian soldiers attached to the Afghan National Army (ANA) have stirred up a hornet's nest in Kabul by being too efficient.

They've "discovered" a huge Soviet ammunition dump a few kilometres from Camp Julien with the potential of obliterating the camp, as well as most of Kabul.

That may sound like hyperbole, but I was with the Canadians who discovered the cache -- soldiers (mostly Princess Pats and combat engineers) who are training and working with the ANA and consider themselves to have the best job in the army.

In the dusty foothills, 10 minutes drive from Camp Julien (population 2,000), 82 buried bunkers, each 20-metres long, housed thousands of Soviet FROG missiles (one step down from Scud missiles), and every variety of rocket and mortar shells.

Some of the FROG missiles were still in their original cases. Some heaped in the open. Some stacked to the roof in the unlocked, open bunkers. Much of the ordnance had warheads removed to collect the explosive for homemade bombs -- or for blasting at a nearby quarry.

This story has everything - the soviet-era bunkers that a multilateral coalition never bothered to inspect (or doesn't admit to inspecting); the hidden cache of weapons that a multilateral coalition never found (or never admitted to finding); even the puffy little French officer (with UN and German poodles in tow) who sashays in to insist that it belonged to France, nothing had happened, and who are the Canucks -- who should leave now -- to say that something had happened anyway? But enough from me - go read Erik's take on it.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Time to take a stand... er, so to speak

While I generally have no argument with the practice of product placement, it should go without saying that there are some places that products just should not be placed.

"Target marketing" takes on a whole new meaning in the first-ever viral marketing use of an interactive urinal communicator in America. The deodorizing urinal drain filter cover -- featuring a waterproof anti-glare lenticular viewing display -- has a pre-recorded greeting by a woman that commands, "Don't miss OUTLAWS on CMT. You seem to miss everything else!" The CMT OUTLAWS 'Wizmark' has flashing lights and is motion-activated: step up to the urinal and the unit starts flashing, talking and alternating pictures.

So how long until we can say that CMT's circling the bowl?

Another endorsement?

Putin: Terror attacks aimed at Bush

DUSHANBE, Tajikistan -- Russian President Vladimir Putin said Monday that terrorists are aiming to derail U.S. President George W. Bush's chances at re-election through their attacks in Iraq.

"I consider the activities of terrorists in Iraq are not as much aimed at coalition forces but more personally against President Bush," Putin said at a news conference after a regional summit in the Tajik capital, Dushanbe.

"International terrorism has as its goal to prevent the election of President Bush to a second term," he said. "If they achieve that goal, then that will give international terrorism a new impulse and extra power."

I've said it before, and I'm saying it again; Russia's a partner. They get it. Even they recognize that Kerry doesn't.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Suppression of free expression

And where else would it be suppressed but on the left? George Soros sends his exchange with Ray D. of Medienkritik down the memory hole.

Update: A vague and mysterious "technical error" was responsible for selecting Ray's e-mail for deletion (or "falling off" the blog). Really. You can believe it, because George says so.

Friday, October 15, 2004

Yep, parity

Does The Guardian's invitation to the uninformed, drooling, socialist Eurotwinks who comprise their readership to pester swing state voters summon as much bile to your gorge as it does mine? (Via Cranky Neocon) Tim Blair offers up Operation Guardian, which is a perfectly reasonable response.

If foreign nationals have a right to badger US voters because US elections affect their countries, then US citizens must surely have a right to badger Guardian functionaries, whose bigoted portrayals of the US routinely inspire splenetic ranting from the Guardian's ovine flock targeting US citizens. Our policies affect Britain's policies? Fine. The Guardian's incessant ideological harangues affect my ability to simply travel, or engage in civil online conversation - this should entitle me to bedevil Guardian staff and management alike.

Beyond that though, doesn't the electoral issue work both ways as well? Don't Britain's policy decisions affect our country? Doesn't that entitle the 300 or so million citizens of the US to intrude on the electoral machinery of the 60 millionish Brits? For that matter, the policies of the EU affect our country also - I think it's fundamentally unjust that the US does not have a seat in Brussels! We deserve representation!

Oh, wait, I'm remembering now - the US is our country, and the UK is their country. I'd forgotten. Our affairs are our own, their affairs are their own. If they want to indulge in populist demogoguery in their broadsheets, it's their business - who we choose to elect is ours. The only thing that might sicken me more than the relativist contortions the editorial staff must have gone through to convince themselves that this was anywhere near ethical is the fact that their deadbeat rag apparently hasn't even seen fit to cough up the $25 for the voter list they aquired to launch this puerile publicity stunt.

Remember, folks - the strength of democracy lies in an informed electorate. As the Guardian is inclined to dispense only that information which supports it's side of the ideological debate (often ignoring as much contrary information as necessary to do so), it is an enemy of democracy in this country. Regard it as such.

Update: No, I haven't actually pestered any the staff of the Guardian. As much as I'd like to, that still crosses a personal line for me. If you're so disposed, however, don't adopt my scruples as your own; in fact, if you feel inclined to, say, make inquiries to Russian mail order brides on behalf of any Guardian staff, I'm certain they would appreciate the possibilities that your attentions open for them. They might also like low rate mortgage offers, discount software, fast diplomas, herbal penis enhancement, cheap pharmaceuticals and stock tips to their inbox - who's to say?

Kids do say the darnedest things

After all the time, effort, and money that's gone into Kerry's campaign, he still can't pull the wool over an eight-year-old's eyes. She didn't buy it then, she's still not buyin' it now.

Thank the American Soldier

Jane has a great example of the sort of opinion that would be far more rare today if we still relied on the media that we had until the early 90's or so. What would we all think of our troops and Afghanistan if we had only the Big Three, newspapers, and the water cooler?

How is it poor Afghans are today richer than many of their neighbors? How is it that today Afghanistan is suddenly one of the most progressive Middle Eastern countries? They voted for president-and they don’t even have cell phones. Farmers, Taliban and shop owners voted for the first time in 5000 years. Women voted, with a whole right, equal to men. American soldiers offered democracy and it was grasped from their hands with hunger. The Afghan baby born today has democracy as a birthright.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Maybe it's just me?

I just caught Kofi Annan making a statement on Cotecna. Is it just me, or can you too gauge how objectionable a matter he is addressing by how softly he speaks when addressing it?

Debate three: domestic policy

Impressions; Kerry looked good on style, Bush seemed tense and often appeared defensive, both candidates got in some solid blows on substance. Speaking of "blows", Bob Schieffer was the worst moderator of the debate series. I'll include every single question in this post (and address it to some extent) - see if I'm fibbin'. Bush looked better on domestic substance than I really expected, what with domestic issues "belonging to Democrats" and all, and in my view he might have squeaked out ahead of Kerry overall, but it was close. Close enough that I'll call it a draw, but as ever, call it yourself.

It's been my contention that this election season isn't going to belong to domestic issues. The conventional wisdom about who's best for your wallet takes a back seat to finishing what we started in the war on terror. We've repeatedly been reminded what media post-analysis has declared to be the clinchers of elections past; jobs, income, economic growth, one domestic after another. I say that this year it's all bunk, MSM fantasies notwithstanding, and last night the candidates (and even Bob) agreed. Everyone was straining against the reins to dash off into foreign policy.

What else could the objective observer make of the debate? From the beginning, Schieffer's first question begged, whined, and pleaded for a foreign policy answer -

SCHIEFFER: Senator, I want to set the stage for this discussion by asking the question that I think hangs over all of our politics today and is probably on the minds of many people watching this debate tonight. And that is, will our children and grandchildren ever live in a world as safe and secure as the world in which we grew up?

Bob, in the world you grew up Hitler devoured half of Europe, the USSR swallowed a good chunk of the other half, and leftist ideology ignited nations across the globe claiming lives by the tens of millions in the process. Two superpowers developed enough weaponry to obliterate the planet many times over, we did air raid drills in elementary schools, and in areas high on the nuclear strike priority list children wore dog tags in the hope that someone could figure out where they'd been when they were incinerated. Our embassies were bombed, our people seized, and another psychopathic ideology was wedded to a religion and inflamed by bigoted demogoguery until it routinely spawned savage adherents bent on the murder of innocents across the planet. For God's sake Bob, when was that world ever safe?

Those of you playing along at home, simmer down - I know that what Bob really meant was "Please beat the living bejezus out of this dead horse, and remind us yet again what you've both said about homeland security a gazillion times", but he also knew that it would be a rocket back to Iraq and other topics from the foreign policy debates. This is a new debate, Bob, you don't need to segue.

SCHIEFFER: We are talking about protecting ourselves from the unexpected, but the flu season is suddenly upon us. Flu kills thousands of people every year. Suddenly we find ourselves with a severe shortage of flu vaccine. How did that happen?

Bush provides a very direct answer about the production contamination, and tangents slightly to discuss how law suits discourage more companies from providing vaccine. Kerry brings me the gold -

KERRY: This really underscores the problem with the American health-care system. It's not working for the American family. And it's gotten worse under President Bush over the course of the last years.

Five million Americans have lost their health insurance in this country. You've got about a million right here in Arizona, just shy, 950,000, who have no health insurance at all. 82,000 Arizonians lost their health insurance under President Bush's watch. 223,000 kids in Arizona have no health insurance at all.

All across our country -- go to Ohio, 1. 4 million Ohioans have no health insurance, 114,000 of them lost it under President Bush; Wisconsin, 82,000 Wisconsinites lost it under President Bush.

This president has turned his back on the wellness of America. And there is no system. In fact, it's starting to fall apart not because of lawsuits -- though they are a problem, and John Edwards and I are committed to fixing them -- but because of the larger issue that we don't cover Americans. Children across our country don't have health care. We're the richest country on the face of the planet, the only industrialized nation in the world not to do it.

I have a plan to cover all Americans. We're going to make it affordable and accessible. We're going to let everybody buy into the same health-care plan senators and congressmen give themselves.

Read that again to be sure that you really read it right - Kerry's pinning the vaccine shortage on a lack of health insurance. I have no idea how much vaccine health insurance creates annually, but I now suspect the answer would astound me. I would have been fascinated to hear what Bush 'turning his back on American wellness' has to do with vaccine shortages, but regrettably Kerry never addressed it.

Bush used a rebuttal to lay out the best line of the debate: "I want to remind people listening tonight that a plan is not a litany of complaints". He should have saved it for another 30-40 minutes, it would have thrown the momentum his way no matter what was happening.

SCHIEFFER: Senator Kerry, a new question. Let's talk about economic security. You pledged during the last debate that you would not raise taxes on those making less than $200,000 a year. But the price of everything is going up, and we all know it. Health-care costs, as you are talking about, is skyrocketing, the cost of the war.

My question is, how can you or any president, whoever is elected next time, keep that pledge without running this country deeper into debt and passing on more of the bills that we're running up to our children?

Kerry successfully turns this question into a reflection on pay-as-you-go, and tries to convince viewers that he's actually said where he'll come up with the money to pay for everything he wants to do. He'd like them to believe that latching onto the jugular of "the rich" will provide utopia - but that's hardly surprising for a liberal.

Bush makes an awful PayGo joke, spouts the same old lines about tax gaps and Kerry's voting, and finally gets to the point that his plans will feature targetted growth and restrained spending.

SCHIEFFER: You know, there are all kind of statistics out there, but I want to bring it down to an individual. Mr. President, what do you say to someone in this country who has lost his job to someone overseas who's being paid a fraction of what that job paid here in the United States?

Bush can't seem to decide whether this was a jobs or education question (indeed, he seems unclear that there is any distinction), and Kerry calls him on it.

KERRY: I want you to notice how the president switched away from jobs and started talking about education principally. Let me come back in one moment to that, but I want to speak for a second, if I can, to what the president said about fiscal responsibility.

Being lectured by the president on fiscal responsibility is a little bit like Tony Soprano talking to me about law and order in this country. This president has taken a $5. 6 trillion surplus and turned it into deficits as far as the eye can see. Health-care costs for the average American have gone up 64 percent; tuitions have gone up 35 percent; gasoline prices up 30 percent; Medicare premiums went up 17 percent a few days ago; prescription drugs are up 12 percent a year.

But guess what, America? The wages of Americans have gone down. The jobs that are being created in Arizona right now are paying about $13,700 less than the jobs that we're losing. And the president just walks on by this problem. The fact is that he's cut job-training money. $1 billion was cut. They only added a little bit back this year because it's an election year.

They've cut the Pell Grants and the Perkins loans to help kids be able to go to college. They've cut the training money. They've wound up not even extending unemployment benefits and not even extending health care to those people who are unemployed.

I'm going to do those things, because that's what's right in America: Help workers to transition in every respect.

If anyone can pry an actual answer to the question out of that, please comment. I'm just not sure what things he's saying he's going to do - cut Pell grants and Perkins loans? What? Then again, thanks to that horrendous oaf Schieffer, there wasn't really a question for Kerry - it was a question about offshoring targetted at Bush's performance, so Kerry was free to use it as a blank check to ride Bush's ass.

SCHIEFFER: You know, many experts say that a president really doesn't have much control over jobs. For example, if someone invents a machine that does the work of five people, that's progress. That's not the president's fault. So I ask you, is it fair to blame the administration entirely for this loss of jobs?

I have to give Kerry points for the first part of his answer. Even though the question invited a more intellectually dishonest answer, he came off the attack long enough to give an honest one.

KERRY: I don't blame them entirely for it. I blame the president for the things the president could do that has an impact on it. Outsourcing is going to happen. I've acknowledged that in union halls across the country. I've had shop stewards stand up and say, "Will you promise me you're going to stop all this outsourcing? "And I've looked them in the eye and I've said, "No, I can't do that. "

What I can promise you is that I will make the playing field as fair as possible, that I will, for instance, make certain that with respect to the tax system that you as a worker in America are not subsidizing the loss of your job.

It's too bad that the honesty stopped there.

Today, if you're an American business, you actually get a benefit for going overseas. You get to defer your taxes. So if you're looking at a competitive world, you say to yourself, "Hey, I do better overseas than I do here in America. "

That's not smart. I don't want American workers subsidizing the loss of their own job. And when I'm president, we're going to shut that loophole in a nanosecond and we're going to use that money to lower corporate tax rates in America for all corporations, 5 percent. And we're going to have a manufacturing jobs credit and a job hiring credit so we actually help people be able to hire here.

The second thing that we can do is provide a fair trade playing field. This president didn't stand up for Boeing when Airbus was violating international rules and subsidies. He discovered Boeing during the course of this campaign after I'd been talking about it for months.

Today, if you're any kind of business, you pay taxes wherever you make the profits. German courrier DHL is coming here to do business, and their US profits will be taxed in the US, not Germany. If American auto maker Chevrolet opens a plant in Germany, it will pay taxes in Germany, not the US.

Subjecting the Chevrolet plant to double taxation then is not creating a fair playing field - quite the opposite in fact, it's penalizing the American company for being an American company (punishing Americans for being American is a persistant Kerry theme). How many jobs does that company then have for anyone when tax gouging serves to make it uncompetitive?

Lower corporate tax rates may be a bullet point within any given company's choice to move operations abroad, but it pales in comparison to payroll expenses. Being gang raped for wages and benefits five to ten times higher than can be paid abroad is a driving force in moving jobs out of the US - lower taxes are just a perk. How about doing something about unions that justify their existance with little else but extortion anymore? Oh, wait, they donate and vote Democrat, don't they...

The fact is that the president had an opportunity to stand up and take on China for currency manipulation. There are companies that wanted to petition the administration. They were told: Don't even bother; we're not going to listen to it.

The fact is that there have been markets shut to us that we haven't stood up and fought for. I'm going to fight for a fair trade playing field for the American worker. And I will fight for the American worker just as hard as I fight for my own job. That's what the American worker wants. And if we do that, we can have an impact.

Plus, we need fiscal discipline. Restore fiscal discipline, we'll do a lot better.

China's currency policy is a genuine threat, but Kerry's straining to get back to foreign policy. Domestically, all we have is that he'll create a fair playing field for workers by raising costs on their employers; he'll get their companies into markets by pricing their products out of them. Have a seat John, I think your blood sugar's off.

SCHIEFFER: Both of you are opposed to gay marriage. But to understand how you have come to that conclusion, I want to ask you a more basic question. Do you believe homosexuality is a choice?

Simple question. Insightful question. Perhaps one of the most (only?) thought-provoking questions of the debate. Bush's answer, loosely - "I don't know, but we should respect and treat them fairly either way." Kerry's answer, loosely - "No, Cheney's daughter is a dyke. Not that there's anything wrong with that." The "Low-Class Contrievance" prize goes to Kerry, and he knew it - he was visibly trying to talk himself out of saying it as he was saying it.

SCHIEFFER: Senator Kerry, a new question for you. The New York Times reports that some Catholic archbishops are telling their church members that it would be a sin to vote for a candidate like you because you support a woman's right to choose an abortion and unlimited stem-cell research. What is your reaction to that?

KERRY: I respect their views. I completely respect their views. I am a Catholic. And I grew up learning how to respect those views. But I disagree with them, as do many.

I believe that I can't legislate or transfer to another American citizen my article of faith. What is an article of faith for me is not something that I can legislate on somebody who doesn't share that article of faith. I believe that choice is a woman's choice. It's between a woman, God and her doctor. And that's why I support that. Now, I will not allow somebody to come in and change Roe v. Wade.

I'll leapfrog the complete absence of any role for a President in Supreme Court decisions so that I can harp on the key gripe with this reply. I can respect the integrity of someone who says that a fetus is not life, so abortion is ok, and I can respect the integrity of someone who says it's a life from conception, so abortion is not ok, but even today he does not seem to even grasp the extent of moral equivocation required to say "I believe that abortion is infanticide, but I think infanticide should be ok for people who disagree." To claim such a position is to disavow any claim to the sanctity of innocent life. This position above all others nails the 'hypocrite' label to Kerry's forehead.

BUSH: I think it's important to promote a culture of life. I think a hospitable society is a society where every being counts and every person matters. I believe the ideal world is one in which every child is protected in law and welcomed to life. I understand there's great differences on this issue of abortion, but I believe reasonable people can come together and put good law in place that will help reduce the number of abortions.

That was the gist of his whole answer, and he even forged an opportunity to compliment Teresa in the process; a glaring contrast to "Cheney's daughter's gay."

SCHIEFFER: Health insurance costs have risen over 36 percent over the last four years according to The Washington Post. We're paying more. We're getting less. I would like to ask you: Who bears responsibility for this? Is it the government? Is it the insurance companies? Is it the lawyers? Is it the doctors? Is it the administration?

BUSH: There's a systemic problem. Health-care costs are on the rise because the consumers are not involved in the decision-making process. Most health-care costs are covered by third parties. And therefore, the actual user of health care is not the purchaser of health care. And there's no market forces involved with health care.

The emphasis above highlights what I think we'll see becoming a greater component of discussion on health care in coming days. Health care professionals are more than willing to talk about cost and quality issues from their perspective, and the lack of decision power in the hands of patients and providers is a recurring theme in both. There's an interesting idea that both costs and quality could be brought into dramatically more favorable positions by realigning the relevant systems in health care, but that's a whole different post - in the meantime, keep an eye out for discussion of this angle of the issue.

The rest of his answer was health savings accounts, tort reform, and some badly phrased prattling about medicine's information infrastructure. Kerry on the other hand bemoaned the administration's refusal to eliminate new drug development.

SCHIEFFER: You have, as you have proposed and as the president has commented on tonight, proposed a massive plan to extend health-care coverage to children. You're also talking about the government picking up a big part of the catastrophic bills that people get at the hospital. And you have said that you can pay for this by rolling back the president's tax cut on the upper 2 percent. You heard the president say earlier tonight that it's going to cost a whole lot more money than that. I'd just ask you, where are you going to get the money?

In the short form, that says "I don't think you've denied this strenuously enough. Do so now." Kerry obliges. Bush aborts a snide swipe at the MSM a bit too late.

SCHIEFFER: We all know that Social Security is running out of money, and it has to be fixed. You have proposed to fix it by letting people put some of the money collected to pay benefits into private savings accounts. But the critics are saying that's going to mean finding $1 trillion over the next 10 years to continue paying benefits as those accounts are being set up. So where do you get the money? Are you going to have to increase the deficit by that much over 10 years?

Bush gives an assurance to seniors, and then floats the totally wacky notion that maybe Social Security funds could be accruing compound interest. Kerry pipes up to complain that doing so would be paying the piper for ever getting suckered into this ponzi scheme, and insists that he can find a way to dodge the piper for presumably at least one term.

SCHIEFFER: Alan Greenspan, the chairman of the Federal Reserve, says there's no way that Social Security can pay retirees what we have promised them unless we recalibrate. What he's suggesting, we're going to cut benefits or we're going to have to raise the retirement age. We may have to take some other reform. But if you've just said, you've promised no changes, does that mean you're just going to leave this as a problem, another problem for our children to solve?

Why yes, Bob, it does.

KERRY: Not at all. Absolutely not, Bob. This is the same thing we heard -- remember, I appeared on "Meet the Press" with Tim Russert in 1990-something. We heard the same thing. We fixed it. In fact, we put together a $5. 6 trillion surplus in the '90s that was for the purpose of saving Social Security.

Well no, John, you didn't "fix it". If you'd fixed it, there wouldn't be a problem lingering today, would there? You may have accomplished a surplus (and by "you", I refer to congress and the Gingrich-led budgets that the Republican congress laid on Clinton's desk), but you didn't use the surplus to jump Social Security into some track with a more fiscally sound model than simply continuing to pay it out of the general fund.

Kerry followed this up with more whining about Bush taking his foot off the throat of "the rich", and yammering about jobs. Bush answered this (yet another) non-question by refuting the class envy tax cut rhetoric.

SCHIEFFER: I'm told that at least 8,000 people cross our borders illegally every day. Some people believe this is a security issue, as you know. Some believe it's an economic issue. Some see it as a human-rights issue. How do you see it? And what do we need to do about it?

Bush: "We're working on it." Kerry: "Middle-class families have higher tax burdens, and tax cuts wiped out by health care costs and tuition increases, and incomes are lower. Oh, yeah - and I'll work on that alien thing."

Kerry and Edwards marvel at this phenomenon of things becoming more expensive over time. They seem to harbor some suspicion that it is reasonable for the costs of all things to remain fixed, or trend downward. They just can't fathom how something could reasonably be more expensive today than it's ever been. Who wants to tell 'em?

SCHIEFFER: The gap between rich and poor is growing wider. More people are dropping into poverty. Yet the minimum wage has been stuck at, what, $5. 15 an hour now for about seven years. Is it time to raise it?

Perhaps it's time to raise it, Bob, and then again perhaps it's not. The whole premise that minimum wage is pegged to any gap between rich and poor isn't entirely flawed, but is misleading; at the very least, it's inappropriate for the question to assume the premise. Since raising minimum wage raises the cost of every single thing whose cost includes the salaries of minimum wagers, the overall effect is to diminish the buying power of everyone by a similar proportion.

Kerry proposes to gradually raise minimum wage from $5.15 to $7. This will raise the labor cost of any good or service relying on minimum wage labor by over 1/3, and many common consumer goods have the cost of minimum wage built into them several times. As increased costs fall on businesses, increased prices trickle into the market in response - the gains of minimum wagers are eroded by... the gains of minimum wagers. On the other hand, the person earning $7 now is making almost $2 above minimum wage; they will then find themself making only minimum wage.

Minimum wagers see their buying power increase only until the increased cost of goods trickles into the market; thereafter they're hardly better off, and everyone else is worse off. The greatest impact is, of course, on families and those who have managed to just get their heads above water in the first place.

This isn't to say that minimum wage increases don't have their place in a sensible policy; perhaps it is time to raise it. To suggest however that a raise has anything to with 'narrowing the gap between rich and poor' carries the implied suggestion that it pulls the poor closer to wealth; the reality is that it pulls everyone but minimum wagers closer to poverty. That's not an improvement.

The rest of Kerry's response - he pretends that the increase results in increased buying power, tries to rekindle the battle of the sexes, and whines about the tax cut again. Bush thinks it's another education question.

SCHIEFFER: Mr. President, I want to go back to something Senator Kerry said earlier tonight and ask a follow-up of my own. He said -- and this will be a new question to you -- he said that you had never said whether you would like to overturn Roe v. Wade. So I'd ask you directly, would you like to?

BUSH: What he's asking me is, will I have a litmus test for my judges? And the answer is, no, I will not have a litmus test. I will pick judges who will interpret the Constitution, but I'll have no litmus test.

KERRY: Well, again, the president didn't answer the question.

Yes, John, he did. He gave the most appropriate answer to the question that he could. It is not within the scope of a President's power to overturn Supreme Court decisions. A President's only legitimate input into the process is arguably engineering a desired ideological balance with judicial selections. That's why y'all threw a hissy fit over Estrada, remember? It's inappropriate to make judicial appointments based on ideology, or a judge's position on one particular decision or issue.

I don't think I'd have to do much digging into the ethics of this issue to discover that there is no exemption for Democrats, but Kerry declared that he would nominate to protect abortion. He proceeded to lament the jobless rate among blacks, high school dropout rate of hispanics, and his six dozenth jab at No Child Left Behind funding. I'm still trying to divine the connection to Roe vs. Wade. In the sequence of rebuttals, Kerry whaps me with a stunner -

KERRY: You don't measure it by a percentage [funding] increase, Mr. President, you measure it by whether you're getting the job done.

Then why do you manufacture opportunities to state that "Bush has underfunded" No Child Left Behind every chance you get, and diminish the results of the program? Why is it that whenever someone suggests that we test teachers to see if they're getting the job done, Democrats react as if slapped? Why is it that any complaint about education is met by your party with a stock response of "throw more money at it"? It doesn't have anything to do with the teacher's union voting Democrat, does it?

SCHIEFFER: Senator, the last debate, President Bush said he did not favor a draft. You agreed with him. But our National Guard and Reserve forces are being severely strained because many of them are being held beyond their enlistments. Some of them say that it's a back-door draft. Is there any relief that could be offered to these brave Americans and their families?

If you became president, Senator Kerry, what would you do about this situation of holding National Guard and Reservists for these extended periods of time and these repeated call-ups that they're now facing?

I can understand how National Guardsmen and Reservists could get comfortable with earning a check and benefits for the advertised one weekend a month, and how they are inconvenienced -- severely in many cases -- by call-ups. I'd really prefer that my commitment remained one weekend a month were I in their shoes. I just can't empathise with someone who is shocked to discover that the job they sought in the armed forces turned out to be a job in the armed forces.

Your question wasn't about that though, it was about giving Kerry a clear invitation to use the phrases "stop-loss policy" and "back door draft", while opening a channel back into foreign policy. Kerry wouldn't miss it for the world, and furthermore reminds us that "the president broke faith to the American people in the way that he took this nation to war", and Bush took "his eye off of Osama bin Laden". Bush counters with the increasing role of Iraqis, an anecdote about Reservists, and slaps Kerry with the Global Test again.

SCHIEFFER: You said that if Congress would vote to extend the ban on assault weapons, that you'd sign the legislation, but you did nothing to encourage the Congress to extend it. Why not?

Bush panders to pro- and anti-gun factions, followed by Kerry pandering to pro- and anti-gun factions.

SCHIEFFER: Affirmative action: Do you see a need for affirmative action programs, or have we moved far enough along that we no longer need to use race and gender as a factor in school admissions and federal and state contracts and so on?

Of course he does, Bob. An article of liberal Democrat faith is that progressing beyond racial discrimination requires institutionalizing racial discrimination. Bush goes back to the womb education and small business assistance.

SCHIEFFER: You were asked before the invasion, or after the invasion, of Iraq if you'd checked with your dad. And I believe, I don't remember the quote exactly, but I believe you said you had checked with a higher authority. I would like to ask you, what part does your faith play on your policy decisions?

Since Bush didn't answer "I legislate from the scripture" or "God plants instructions directly into my brain", the answer doesn't really mattter. Kerry, on the other hand, has heard of God and successfully says he respects Bush's faith (that is, without getting hit by lightning).

SCHIEFFER: Senator Kerry, after 9/11 -- and this is a new question for you -- it seemed to me that the country came together as I've never seen it come together since World War II. But some of that seems to have melted away. I think it's fair to say we've become pretty polarized, perhaps because of the political season.

But if you were elected president, or whoever is elected president, will you set a priority in trying to bring the nation back together? Or what would be your attitude on that?

More points to Kerry - he pays a classy compliment to Bush here. Not enough to take the pall off of the Dyke Cheney remark, but it sounded genuine. However, the question forces him to pretend that division in this country isn't inflamed by Democrats' increasingly shrill driving of wedges between any two groups available, or that divisiveness isn't a mainstay of its populist appeal. He didn't convince any conservatives. Bush charitably points out bipartisan efforts, and the fact that there was division in 2000 also. He seems to be prempting an accusation that he had something to do with division.

SCHIEFFER: We've come, gentlemen, to our last question. And it occurred to me as I came to this debate tonight that the three of us share something. All three of us are surrounded by very strong women. We're all married to strong women. Each of us have two daughters that make us very proud. I'd like to ask each of you, what is the most important thing you've learned from these strong women?

It's a soft fat one over the plate, and both candidates knocked it over the wall (though there's little doubt Bush hit his farther). Each worked in a good parting joke. Bush, as ever when discussing his family, came across as very genuine; in comparison, Kerry came off a bit contrieved. He revealed that he sometimes takes himself too seriously (no, really), and got in one more compliment to the Bush family without looking like Eddie Haskel.