Confirmed by Fox. Information comes from the Department of Homeland Security.
The threats involve aircraft, again, perhaps directed against LA and DC.
The intelligence is based on new information-- not the stuff from the last time.
Flights are thought to be coming from Paris to LA and Heathrow to Dulles.
Thanks to Free Republic,
whose members posted the first reference to this story that we saw.
Robert Kagan, who writes about these issues a great deal from the Carnegie Institute for Peace, has written recently that Europeans believe that the Bush administration has exaggerated the threat of terrorism, and the Bush administration believes that the Europeans simply don't get it. Who is right?
Democratic candidate for President: I think it's somewhere in between. I think that there has been an exaggeration and there has been a refocusing--
Where has the exaggeration been in the threat on terrorism?
Well, 45 minutes deployment of weapons of mass destruction, No. 1. Aerial vehicles to be able to deliver materials of mass destruction, No. 2. I mean, I--nuclear weapons, No. 3. I could run a long list of clear misleading, clear exaggeration. The linkage to Al Qaida, No. 4.
That said, they are really misleading all of America, Tom, in a profound way. The war on terror is less--it is occasionally military, and it will be, and it will continue to be for a long time. And we will need the best-trained and the most well-equipped and the most capable military, such as we have today.
But it's primarily an intelligence and law enforcement operation that requires cooperation around the world--the very thing this administration is worst at. And most importantly, the war on terror is also an engagement in the Middle East economically, socially, culturally, in a way that we haven't embraced, because otherwise we're inviting a clash of civilizations.
Liberals need to get their story straight:
Is terrorism a somewhat-overstated threat that Bush Administration is exploiting for political gain?
Or is the threat incredibly serious, and the Bush Administration is to be faulted for not doing enough to keep us safe?
It can't be both at the same fricking time
, guys. Choose one (1) dishonest line of attack and stick to it.
If the threat from terrorism is not that serious, then really, we hardly need to be worried about the Iraq War "distracting" us from this largely-phantasmal semi-threat.
If the the threat from terrorism IS that serious, then it's hardly time to be whining about the Patriot Act.
One or the other guys. You choose. We don't care which one you choose, but we really must
insist you confine yourselves to just one.
Measure in California to Align Building Codes with Feng Shui
Again via Drudge
, a story of jaw-dropping stupidity.
The headline is accurate. It's not a hyperbolic parody. There really has been
a measure introduced in the California Assemby to require that building codes -- codes enacted to ensure that buildings are safe for human occupation and use -- also include guidance regarding the Chinese pop-spiritualism called feng shui
is, in case you don't know, the "science" of increasing "positive energy" and decreasing "negative energy" by arranging one's furniture in just the right way.
So, if you put the ottoman by the sofa, you're going to have long life and wealth; put it by the recliner, and next week, a pack of rutting timberwolves are going to break into your apartment, drink all your booze, and get your beagle addicted to meth so that they can recruit her into the dark and dangerous world of hardcore dog pornography.
Here's the story. Or at least as much of it as we can take.
SAN FRANCISCO, Jan. 29 -- With a budget deficit of about $14 billion, California could use a major infusion of positive energy.
If California liberals are known for anything, they're known for being bears about prioritizing
So it may be appropriate timing that in this most Asian of mainland American regions, State Assemblyman Leland Y. Yee, Democrat of San Francisco
We'll wait as you recover from the shock of those last four words: "Democrat of San Francisco."
We know that surprised you as much as it did us.
We did not
see that coming.
has introduced a resolution that urges the California Building Standards Commission to adopt standards that would aid feng shui, the ancient Chinese practice of promoting health, harmony and prosperity through the environment....
The standards commission typically deals with more mundane concerns, like plumbing pipes. But in California, feng shui is big business. In communities like Fremont and Cupertino, south of San Francisco, feng shui experts often consult with developers on the layout of subdivisions, avoiding placing a house at a T-shaped intersection, which would invite negative energy, or sha, the mouth of the dragon.
It all makes sense. Building codes are, in the future, to be promulgated in order to protect structures and persons therein from:
2) Dangerous electrical configurations
4) "negative energy, or sha, [from] the mouth of the dragon"
Incidentally, the notion of feng shui
is inherently, and inarguably, a mystical and spiritual one.
We don't think it's likely that anyone in California will propose mandating that all buildings be built in the shape of the crucifix in order to ward off deadly vampires.
So once again, we have a case of the left being all too eager to promote religion-- so long as the religion in question is not that accursed gutter-religion Christianity.
Paul Krugman Continues Using the Math He Learned at Enron
Check out this rejoinder
to Paul Krugman's latest series of mistakes, misleading factoids, and blatant falsehoods which he calls his New York Time column.
For someone so profligate at tossing out the charge of dishonesty, the dimunitive dean sure doesn't seem to mind, er, adjusting
the facts in his own partisan favor.
And, while you're there, check out Luskin's quotations
from a TNR piece concerning Krugman's apologism on behalf of the anti-Semitic Prime Minister of Malaysia.
There really is very little monstrous behavior the Left isn't willing to excuse in the service of promoting its hateful program.
Dennis Miller Ratings Decline
His ratings have fallen from a poorish .6 at his premiere to .4 for the week.
Help the man out. The show is strong. He was strangely subdued his first night -- he seemed to be trying to stay away from his forte of wisecracks, and he spent too much time explaining himself and his show's format -- but since then he's been bang-on. The show is funny, incisive, and punchy.
Last night he had on his guest-host, a diaper-wearing chimpanzee named Ellie. He also had a Howard Dean "Yeeeaahh!" button on his desk -- push the button, the infamous "Yeeeeahhh!" scream plays. Loud.
Ellie interrupted his opening newscast by pressing the Howard Dean "Yeaaaaah!" button about six thousand times in the span of two minutes. Miller was a bit worried about how the chimp would react if he tried to take the button away, so he let Ellie just keep hitting that button, completely drowning out his attempts to read his jokes.
But the spectacle of a chimp playing Howard Dean's "Yeeaaahhh!," apparently because the chimp found the scream as amusing as humans do
, was better than any written joke could be.
So: It's worth watching. Certainly it's better than the played-out Hannity & Colmes. We love Fox and all, but really, how many times can we watch a lunkhead and liberal Vulcan say the same damn things about the same damn topics?
If you're a Nielsen family-- watch. Or you don't even have to watch. Just set the channel to CNBC at 9pm EST/6pm PST and let the people-meter think
ARG: Bush Approval Rating Drops to 47%
reports the fall. Among registered voters, Bush's approval rating is 49%, which still is fairly bad.
Reason for panic? Not really. Let's face it, Bush has had a bad news month. Just as December was an amazing month for him, so has January been a bad one.
It would be hoping against hope to imagine the failure to find WMD's, the uptick in our American heroes being killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the still-sluggish rate of job creation (only 1000 jobs added in December) wouldn't dent Bush's numbers.
There will be bad news in the coming ten months. It will hurt Bush. There will, we expect, also be much good news, and that will help him.
The GOP: Is it Beginning to "Get It" on Spending?
Some reason for hope from the WSJ
[M]ore than a few Members heard complaints from constituents over the recent holiday break. So while Messrs. Hastert and DeLay may have thought to use this retreat to plot to pass their $72 billion energy bonanza, a group of fiscal conservatives, including California veteran Christopher Cox, has arrived to demand that the party return to its roots and start slowing the growth of government.
There's an idea, huh?
Europe: The Welfare Continent
Blogger Live From Brussels
posts a gem about the Dutch Minister of Defense, Andre Flahaut, who recently remarked that "If I were an American, I would vote for a democrat."
This is a something of a diplomatic faux pas
, because we're not supposed to comment upon the internal politics of our allies. Obviously, Americans want pro-American politicians in Europe to be elected; and obviously, Europeans want pro-European, anti-American politicans to be elected in America (Democrats, for example); but we're not supposed to say so.
It's rule which we observe very faithfully. Of course, the Europeans, who think that rules and international law exists chiefly to privilege themselves and disadvantage the American "hyperpower," take a different view. They think America should butt out of European politics, but that Europeans -- being wiser and more cultured than their transatlantic hillbilly cousins -- would be remiss in not providing European guidance to American voters.
But that's not why we loved this link so much. That is just a kerfuffle. No one cares what Europe thinks about anything; and that seems to include, more and more, Europe itself. We're not sure even Europe takes itself seriously at this point.
what we found so delightful in Flahaut's supremely cultured appraisals of America. By way of criticizing the stupid Americans and their stupid "inefficient American army," Flahaut opined thusly:
"The Americans throw so much money at their army that it simply can no longer act efficiently. If they have to get fifteen men from point A to point B, they will use three planes to be certain that it succeeds. We would send one plane, or even better: first examine if we cannot fly along with an ally.
Hee, hee, hee. Isn't that just precious?
Europe, the Welfare Continent, has so succumbed to the mindset of dependency and subsidization that they fail to understand that while "flying along with an ally" is a perfectly acceptable option for the country being militarily subsidized and protected by another
, it's actually not an option
for the country doing the subsidizing and protecting.
Sure, The Netherlands can turn to America when they need to sponge off someone. If they need airlift, of course they can turn to the patron that protects and subsidizes them. But it's absurd to suggest this alternative to America.
Who are we
supposed to turn to for airlift on the cheap?
The Netherlands? Belgium? Luxembourg? A continent of people long-accustomed to having their problems taken care of for them thinks that America, too, must have a Sugar Daddy Warbucks somewhere that can offer us the same cost-free service.
It's like someone who's been on the dole his entire life being told that welfare payments will have to be cut, because the government is running out of money. And then that dependent-of-the-state offers up the suggestion that, if the government is strapped for cash, perhaps the government
itself ought to go on welfare.
After all-- it works for him
, the guy on the dole. Why shouldn't it also work for the government?
It's pretty sad when those who simply take and take and take can no longer even will themselves to imagine
that somewhere out there there must be someone who's giving and giving and giving. The expectation of subsidization has been so completely internalized that they can no longer comprehend that for ever subsidy, there is someone out there actively subsidizing.
Thank you, Mr. Flahaut, for this hilarious, and perfectly literal, example of the free-rider mentality.
UPDATE: It seems to us that the European Left has about the same credo of self-reliance, and the same level of respect for the labor and charity of others, as do lower-intestinal parasites.
Actually, that's not quite fair to lower-intestinal parasites. We've known a few such parasites in our day, and, while they leech off the sustenance we provide for them, they're rarely so gauche
as to offer us a running criticism of the manner by which we're providing them sustenance, nor to constantly hector us with "suggestions" and "advice" as to how we should go about the business of nutrient-gathering so as to better serve their needs and desires.
As Jacques Chirac might say, lower-intestinal parasites usually don't miss their opportunities to shut up.
But the European Left keeps missing its own opportunities to shut up. Apparently, for all their "cultural superiority," they're not quite so gallant
and well-mannered as intestinal parasites.
In the 1970's -- the high-water mark for moral relativism and social liberalism in America -- it became fashionable to excuse all sorts of monstrous behavior and crime.
There was endless "understanding" for muggers, rapists, and killers from the cultural elite.
And yet, when everyday folks clamored for justice and retribution against vicious criminals, they were greeted with scorn and called retrograde, racist, and revenge-minded.
Apparently "understanding" had its limits. That a man should kill another man for $40 was to be "understood" in the "social context" of his upbringing; but that another man would call for a lengthy prison sentence or execution for the first man was not to be "understood" or excused away at all.
David Frum has recently noted the acceleration of this trend into foreign policy and geopolitics. The Left, he's noted, seems to call "evil" everything except, you know, actual evil
. Global warming is evil. SUV's are evil. Oil -- the energy source for almost all of human activity at this point -- is evil. Corporate profits are evil.
But what's a psychopathic tyrant who feeds political enemies into plastic-shredders, or into acid-baths?
Is that "evil"? Oh dear no-- to use such moral language is to display simplissime
of the most naive kind.
During the 70's, the popular groundswell against this sort of asinine crimino-Marixism was checked for a time by the assertions made again and again by the liberal elite that there was "nothing we could do" about these skyrocketing rates of crime, anyway. We couldn't hire more cops; we couldn't give criminals longer sentences; we couldn't really do anything.
It was what it was, and there was no sense in getting all worked up about it. "Lie back and enjoy it" was the left's answer to the mainstream's concerns over crime and inhuman acts of evil.
But the claim that "there's nothing we can do about it" anyway only held for a time. Eventually, evil, horrible, nasty, retrograde politicians like Ronald Reagan suggested that perhaps we could
do something about the cesspit our society was becoming after all; and strangely enough, the public enthusiastically voted for such monstrous troglodytes.
The pattern continued into the nineties. "New York City is simply ungovernable," the leftist apologists cooed. "We can't do anything about crime here, or about how unliveable our city has become." Rudy Giuliani called nonsense on that claim, and was of course called a Hitler or (preferably) a Mussolini by the super-duper-tolerant left. He was elected Mayor of New York.
He did something about crime. The crime rate began plummeting under his governance, and it hasn't stopped declining since
It seems that when the left says "We can't do anything" about a problem, what they really mean is that we can
of course do something to solve it, but that they really don't want to.
At any rate.
Europe is currently about twenty to thirty years behind us in all ways-- technologically, economically, socially, politically. Europeans are still wildly enthusiastic about speech codes and the like, a fad that spread like wildfire in America in the 1980's but have now been largely discredited here.
In terms of criminal justice, Europe is still liviing in the Swinging Seventies.
The indispensible Drudge
-- who else? -- brought this next little nugget to our attention.
Here's the story.
Here's the headline: German Cannibal Gets Prison Sentence.
Thank God for small favors.
Here's the key passage:
KASSEL, Germany (AP) - A German was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to 8 1/2 years in prison Friday for killing, dismembering and eating another man who allegedly agreed to the arrangement over the Internet.
Armin Meiwes, a 42-year-old computer expert, had no "base motives" in the crime, a state court ruled, sparing him a murder conviction. Explaining the verdict, the presiding judge said Meiwes' intention was not evil but "the fulfillment of his fantasy."
His primary motive was "the wish to make another man part of himself," Judge Volker Muetze said. "Meiwes reached this bonding experience through the consumption of the flesh."
Ah! He had no "base motives" in the crime! He simply wanted to satisfy his sexual fantasy to kill and eat another human being!
Why of course he should get a fairly light sentence. We must reserve the truly harsh sentences for the real monsters in our societies -- you know, people who don't car-pool.
Sort of puts the German intransigence over ousting Saddam Hussein in context.
Saddam Hussein, we must suppose, likewise had "no base motives" when he raped, mutilated, shredded, and acid-murdered his hundreds of thousands of victims.
He, too, was most likely simply fulfilling a "fantasy." His horrific crimes are excused away in a puff of "Who are we
to judge?" moral relativism; but Tony Blair, George Bush, and John Howard are to be condemned in the most vile terms for seeking to bring this monster before the bar of justice.
A society that becomes this depraved and degenerate cannot persist for long. Either the buffoons in Europe will again
follow America's lead and turn away from this evil
-- yes, evil -- apologism for rape and mayem, or they will... well, who knows.
Let's just say Germany has kinda demonstrated the world it isn't any piker when it comes to its capacity for national, citizien-supported savagery and inhumanity.
Powell: Bring the Boys Back Home... From Europe
of course, oppose the plan.
Our "close allies" have an odd idea about the purpose of our purported military alliance. They think they're entitled to endless subsidies and benefits, while adding very little to the kitty themselves.
They seem to imagine that Americans spend all of our hours thinking, "Geepers, what economic and military burdens can we impose upon ourselves in order to help out the European economy and relieve them of having to pay for costly obligations themselves?"
We at Ace of Spades can assure our large European readership: We really don't think that. Ever.
In fact we don't think much of Europeans at all. Reminds of us of a great quote from The Fountainhead
. We never finished it, but we always loved this early line (paraphrasing):
LIBERAL TWIT: "What does a man like you think of someone like me?"
ROARKE: "I don't think of you."
Bring the boys back home. Being posted in a foreign country is a hardship even in times of peace. And we're sure that there are a lot of American base-communities still smarting from Clinton's 1990's drawdown that will be just pleased as punch to have additional economic actors added back into their backyards.
Saddam's Buddy List
reports -- reluctantly, we must suppose -- on Saddam's bosom friends, and the extraodinarily lucrative oil options he gave them.
We're quite certain that no bribery is involved here; this is simply a case of a warm-hearted and generous man who likes to share
with his amigos.
War for Oil? How about Appeasement for Oil?
How about Playing Country Lawyer for a Serial Killer for Oil?
What becomes of John Kerry's charge that the anti-Saddam alliance represented a "Coalition of the Bought"? Seems to ring a bit hollow, when the pro-
Saddam axis -- our "close allies," like the French, the Russians, the hard-core British left, Arab despots and fanatical clerics -- were, actually, bought and paid for.
With oil. Did we mention that?
Well. We now have a good idea of how to "make diplomacy work" next time. We merely have to start cutting personal checks to those representing the Conscience of a Concerned World.
Iran-9/11 Link Update: German Witness Claims Terrorist Defendant Received Training in Codes in Iran
Reuters, via Free Republic
Hamid Reza Zakeri, the cover name of a man who says he worked in Iranian intelligence and defected in 2001, was testifying toward the end of Germany's second major trial of suspected members of al Qaeda's Hamburg cell.
He told the court that the defendant, Abdelghani Mzoudi -- suspected of handling money for the September 11 plotters and covering up for them -- had spent three months in Iran learning to master codes and was an integral part of the conspiracy.
It was not immediately clear how the alleged training was linked to the plot.
Mzoudi, 31, had been expected to be cleared of aiding and abetting the murder of several thousand people and being a member of a terrorist organization until the testimony from Zakeri surfaced last week.
The verdict is now expected next Thursday.
In evidence heard last week from police interviews, Zakeri had said Iran's secret service had contact with Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network ahead of the September 11 attacks.
He also told Reuters in an interview on Tuesday that bin Laden's son had personally forewarned Iranian leaders of the planned attacks on U.S. cities, because al Qaeda wanted Tehran's help in sheltering its members afterwards.
Germany's intelligence services cast doubt on his claims.
We continue being agnostic about whether this is a genuine story or merely the tall tale of an opportunistic fabulist.
4th Q GDP Disappoints at 4% Annualized Growth
The DNC will soon claim the economy to be "tanking."
Which is absurd. The average growth rate for Clinton's "Miracle Economy" was something like 3.6%.
Several months ago we had a pleasant conversation with a lifelong Democrat who, nevertheless, is quite reasonable in terms of politics. But she was far too optimistic in her forecasts for upcoming growth, projecting 5-6% growth in the coming quarters.
While that furious rate of growth seemed possible at times, we at the Ace of Spades Economic Forecasting Group cautioned that expecting such a run of historic growth was setting the bar for success too high, and would result, naturally, in seeing very-solid rates of 4 or 4.5% as paltry in comparison.
There is, as usual, good news mixed in with the disappointing news:
U.S. economic growth slowed to a more-sustainable but still-robust 4 percent annual pace in the fourth quarter from a steamy 8.2 percent in the third quarter, the Commerce Department estimated Friday. Economists were looking for growth of about 4.9 percent. Consumer spending, business investment and government spending all slowed from the third quarter's frenetic pace.
For all of 2003, gross domestic product increased 3.1 percent, the fastest since 2000.
Ian Shepherdson, the chief U.S. economist with High Frequency Economics, attributed the miss to "much softer government spending" than expected, but he maintained that the performance was good, noting that analysts initially anticipated a bigger pullback following the mammoth 8.3 percent surge in GDP in the third quarter.
"It sets the stage for continued strong growth this year," Shepherdson observed. "We expect 5 percent (growth) in (the) first quarter."
Countering this news was the revelation that manufacturing activity in the Chicago region expanded for a ninth straight month in January. The Chicago Purchasing Managers Index was 65.9 percent vs. 59.2 percent in December. Readings above "50" denote expansion. Economists polled by CBS MarketWatch looked for a reading of 61.4 percent.
Paul Krugman, ever praying to his strange dark gods for American tragedy and misery, will claim vindication: the economy "only" grew at the robust rate of 4% in the fourth quarter.
Ask Mr. Krugman what the rates of growth were in the last several quarters of the Clinton administration.
John Kerry -- French, Liberal, and Proud of It
Case Closed: He actually is
has the lowdown on this emerging scandal.
A super-sleuth at NRO has discovered Donna Brazille, campaign manager for Al Gore's 2000 effort, saying on videotape that John Frog Kerry is "much more liberal than Al Gore."
Will They Never Learn...?
One of the biggest disputes that separates the left and right is that over the efficacy of making nice-nice with terrorists in order to make them less angry.
Well, not less angry. "Anger" isn't something we care about. We wish to make them less prone to mass-murder of civilians and the butchering of innocent stewardresses. If they'd stop doing that, we could give a toss about how "angry" they might be.
Liberals insist, again and again, that being meeker -- less "arrogant," in their preferred formulation -- will cause terrorists to behave better. After all, terrorists are chiefly responding to our own aggressiveness and violence; scaling back on "American terrorism" will cause them to do the same.
They also like claiming that the War in Iraq was the "greatest recruiting tool for Al Qaeda in history."
That claim, of course, is abject nonsense.
Here's the greatest recuriting tool for Al Qaeda in history:
Fanatical, hopeless movements like Islamic terroristic Utopianism draw support for their lunatic ideas from success
, not from resounding failure.
Agan and again, we attempt to explain to liberals that their plans for appeasement -- well, not appeasement
, as they strenuously object to that word; we need a new word which means
appeasement, but which sounds nicer, so we can get past this idiotic semantic game -- will only further encourage terrorists. Appeasement will only convince the legions of Islamist kidnappers, throat-cutters, decapitators, restaurant-bombers, and suicide-hijackers that their plan is working
And again and again, liberals disbelieve us. They call us warmongers, call us hateful racists, and then go back for calling for even more appeasement.
Is it possible they might begin to believe us if they hear a terrorist leader, speaking from his own mouth, announcing that appeasement only encourages future attacks?
this cheerful report on the likely consequences of Ariel Sharon's decision to release 400 terrorist prisoners:
At a mass rally in Beirut that Hezbollah staged to welcome the freed Arabs, the group's leader warned it would kidnap more Israelis to use as bargaining chips if necessary to secure the release of Lebanese prisoners.
Turning to a huge poster of a guerrilla ambush in which the three Israeli soldiers were captured, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah declared: "This is a choice."
Our emphasis. By "This is a choice," understand, he meant "This is a workable, viable option."
We're so glad
that Hezbollah learned the "right lessons" from this act of appeasement by Sharon's government.
We understand if leftists and pacifists and anti-globalists and the like don't believe us
when we make claims about the terrorist mindset.
Do you suppose that they might be moved away from their quasi-religious dogmas about "peace" and "niceness" if they hear the terrorists themselves
declaring that appeasement only encourages further terrorism?
Well, we didn't think so, either. Still, it was worth a try.
Prediction: Chris "Iraq Encourages Terrorists" Matthews will somehow fail to notice this story.
"Top Men" on the Case
archaeologists on the ground in Iraq to help in the macabre business of digging through Saddam's mass graves.
Next Up: That elusive Ark of the Covenant.
Military: We're Sure We'll Catch Osama This Year
Via Drudge, again,
who drives the public debate like no one else.
What is there to say about this?
Is it for real?
Or is this yet another example of a distressing pattern in Bushie leaks; to wit, whenever Bush makes some error or pisses off his conservative base, the administration follows up immediately with some or such leak or claim of good news in the War on Terror?
Is that too cynical? Don't tell us you've never noticed that.
Credibility is a fragile thing, and Bush is eagerly eroding his own.
And Yet, If You Can Believe It, Even More on Budget-Busting Bush
If what we're thinking -- and what we're reading, and hearing, from other conservatives -- is accurate, this NEA deal could be the beginning of the end for Bush.
Because something is out there now in the conservative hinterlands, something heretofore confined to the hysterical left: anger
During the Impeachment Saga, we had fun baiting a liberal over Clinton's failure to reform and safeguard the future and fiscal integrity of Social Security, as he'd promised in 1992, 1994, 1996, and 1998. And even in 2000, as he was actually leaving office.
"Well," we said, tongue tucked comfortably in cheek, "We're really eager to see Clinton's plan for finally reforming Social Security, which will no doubt
be forthcoming in the next few months."
The liberal we were baiting was a True Believer. "He will," he said flatly. "I have every confidence. In the next year, he will fulfill his near-decade-old campaign pledge to finally reform Social Security and put it on sound fiscal footing."
We chuckled. It was obvious to us then that if a man has six years in office, and does nothing to reform Social Security, it's not terribly likely he'll take on the job in his last eighteen months in office.
We are what we've been. A drunk is a drunk. A cheater is a cheater. People don't change; not that much. When they actually do change -- if they do change -- there's evidence for that change.
Well, of course, we were quite right to doubt Clinton's 11th-hour plan to save Social Security. The liberal was of course wrong. But you knew that.
There's a point here: In order for political partisans to continue believing in a President's promises, that President actually has to from time to time offer proof that justifies those beliefs. Without that, one stops believing; and shortly thereafter, one stops caring.
The NEA deal is especially damaging in that regard. We conservatives have been telling ourselves, against the weight of all available evidence, that if Bush manages to get re-elected, he'll suddenly see the light on spending. Why, it's just something he has to do to win over moderates, we've told ourselves; but as soon as he gets that mandate that eluded him in 2000, he'll be on our side.
The NEA proposal gives lie to that false hope. It proves that the Bush of 2005 will be the same as the Bush of 2002-2004-- a big-spending, budget-busting, good-time-Charlie big government liberal.
This latest proposal, then, isn't just damning as regards the $15-20 million of outrageous new spending it represents. It's even more politically deadly because it is a preview of a future Bush term, and it's the sort of preview that gets musicals shut down before they ever even get out of Hartford.
In order for us to believe in Bush, he has to give us reason to believe, however slight those reasons might be. But time and time again, he announces clearly and without any possible contradiction that he is not, and never will be, the sort of man we actually want for President.
We've been weighing in our minds the pro's and con's of a Bush defeat. Something we had not before done; previously, we saw a Bush defeat as a bad thing, without any mitigation. But now we're wondering.
To be sure, the downside of a Bush defeat is very down indeed. President Kerry will benefit, naturally, from the roaring economy which was spurred by Bush; the job-creation that is so anemic now will naturally accelerate more and more as time passes.
If Kerry is in office, then, he will be credited with surging employment, despite the fact that the trend actually was begun under Bush.
Conservatives can make arguments that Bush should get credit. But then, "Clinton's" expansion began in the last three quarters of Bush the Elder's term, and our arguments about that haven't precisely persuaded the moderates, now have they?
A president gets credit for what happens on his watch. Period. Full stop, next sentence. All of our arguments about Bush the Younger being responsible for President Kerry's jobs-boom will mean next to nothing.
The political implications of that are apocalyptic for the conservative movement. For two one-term Republican presidencies in a row, deficits will have grown, recessions will have lingered, and job creation will have been anemic and sputtering at best. For two Democratic presidencies in a row, the economy will be booming from start to finish, and job creation will be huge. (It's even possible that the deficit will shrink under Kerry, since Republican Senators will finally re-discover the political benefits of denying big-ticket spending to a President from the opposite party.)
If that happens, the conservative movement might just as well pack up its tent and hit the bricks. Because it's over. Realignment, long predicted by Fred Barnes, will occur; but it will be a realignment towards the Democratic Party and economic liberalism.
And forget about the judiciary. It will stocked with liberals. Increasingly, all matters of social and economic (and even foreign!) policy will be decided by unelected, life-termed judges representing the far edges of limousine left-coast liberalism.
So that's bad. Obviously.
On the other hand: if conservatism is ever going to have a chance of prevailing, even 12 or 16 years hence, it might be required to, as an act of survival and self-defense, repudiate Bush and announce with a clear voice that Bushism is not conservatism, and that the failure of Bush is attributable to Bush alone, and not the political movement he purports to represent.
Out-parties have more fun, anyway. Certainly, they can be more ideologically pure. Unencumbered by the responsibility of actually governing
, out-parties can make lots of speeches and issue lots of minority reports and the like, all the while having almost no impact on the public debate.
Sort of like the Libertarians.
It's a Hobbesian choice all around.
So we're not just angry that Bush is demolishing his own chances for re-election; more and more, we view that his personal albatross, with little rooting interest in it for us.
We're more concerned that his failure will absolutely destroy the political movement we joined 10 or 15 years ago. And that makes us angry.
Why, we're even beginning to see the lucid reasoning behind the hysterical left's spluttering denunciations of Bush.
Because, you know, it is
sort of annoying the way he walks like a gunslinger with his hips weighed down by Walker Colts.
And he is pretty arrogant
, the way he and his latter-day Otto Bismark Karl Rove simply spurn the wishes of his constuency to do whatever the hell they feel like doing.
And it is pretty unnerving
whenever this guy is forced to answer policy questions extemporaneously. One might even say he's not terribly bright.
And, jeepers, you know what? Didn't Hitler
spend lots of Reichmarks on Wagner revivals and touring-productions of The Merry Widow,
too? Isn't that sort of what the NEA does, except they traffic in pornographic photos of men with bullwhips up their asses rather than German musicals?
Kidding! About that last bit at least. Irony.
Just a joke.
But what was once mere impatience, and then dumbfoundedness, is now becoming actual anger.
And that can't be a good thing for Bush. And more importantly, it's a terrible thing for conservatism, and for America's future.
Let's Keep This a Little Lighter, Eh?
a little humor and good cheer, and boy do we need some:
P.S.: Slogan reportedly spotted on the Dean blog:
Dated Dean. Married Kerry...woke up with Bush.
UPDATE: Nick Kronos offers something in the comments that must get wider circulation.
He's found, on Salon's Table Talk -- a chat-site for angry, San Fransisco leftists -- a cute variation on the above campaign slogan.
offers this bon mot
"Raped and murdered by Bush"
Still More on Budget-Busting Bush
In 1992, conservatives were faced with a distateful choice. Precisely how distasteful would not be evident for another few years.
We had to choose between either a Republican incumbent who had promised "Read my lips" and then raised taxes, or to sit on our hands or vote for Perot and let a pot-smoking, draft-dodging, ass-grabbing hillbilly arriviste from Arkansas run the country for four years. (And of course it turned out to be eight. Eight long, dark years.)
Some of us chose, as we can admit in retrospect, poorly.
2004 is shaping up to be a replay of 1992. And that is a horrible thought on many levels.
We signed on to Bush's tax cuts for a variety of reasons. But among our reasons was the premise that Bush could restrain spending and therefore keep the budget basically balanced while returning more of the public's money to its pockets.
But that premise is no longer operative. So we don't have our first, best option on the table any longer: Tax cuts with fiscal discipline and fairly balanced budgets.
We are now forced to choose between far less sanguine alternatives, to wit, tax cuts with enormous new spending -- or "robust investments in our people's futures," as the DNC might say -- resulting in unsustainably large deficits that threaten our future prosperity.
Or we could elect a Kerry and see our taxes rise, and rise, and rise, and probably see spending rise even more than it has under Bush (although, like a nuclear explosion in a major American city, this last possibility is so dreadful and so unimaginably enormous that we have difficulty contemplating it as a serious threat).
Plus, with Kerry, you get even more Clinton liberalism. Wait, no, that's wrong-- you'd get liberalism, minus the "Clinton" modifier, meaning full-out liberalism. More Ruth Bader Ginsbergs. More "Assault Weapons" Bans. More AmericaCorps. More feckless foreign policy by which we pay North Korea to build nuclear bombs, but do so on the Q.T. so as not to politically embarass the liberal American president. More $10 million missiles sent to blow up a camel.
So before we all decide to do something rash, let's remember what happened the last time we did so. Try playing this
a couple of dozen times.
How's that for a sense-memory?
We can see it now: Kerry dancing Gore-ishly with his wife Terezza, whom Peter Jennings refers to repeatedly as "gorgeous and glamorous," as red balloons fall from the ceiling...
At some point an ideological movement is forced to repudiate it current nominal leader. It's a matter of ideological survival-- sometimes, for an idea to survive, the leader betraying it must be disowned.
Because, as we speak, President George W. Bush (R) is discrediting tax cuts more than any Carnegie Center study ever could. More and more, people are associating "Tax Cuts" with "Exploding Deficits."
It could be that George Bush makes such a terrible mess of our finances that no American office-holder could run on cutting taxes and win for the next twenty years.
Because Bush has given them the sword. "Tax cuts lead to exploding deficits." It will do us no good to argue that it was the runaway spending
that caused the deficits, because 1) that's only partially true and 2) liberals are given generous amounts of airtime to explain patiently why we conservatives are so wrong-headed and evil, whereas we are only offered the opportunity to defend ourselves under hostile questioning.
And 3) Because if government spending really can
be constrained such that cutting taxes will not result in expanding deficits, why hasn't Bush proven this by actually doing so?
That last point is a killer. We can argue that spending can be restrained in theory
, but moderate American voters are a pragmatic, empirical lot. They want to know not what is possible "in theory" but what is likely, and what has been the historical record, in reality
. And if we want to argue that spending can be reined in, it disastrous to our cause that our man -- the man we so passionately supported for four years -- cannot actually do so himself.
That's why we say that sometimes an ideological movement must repudiate a flawed man to save the much more important principle. Because it is becoming quite evident that while spending might be restrained "in theory," George Bush cannot fit comfortably within that theory. In order to retain our credibility on tax cuts and budgetary responsibility for future
elections -- beyond 2004, we mean -- it might be necessary to expressly state that George W. Bush does not represent us.
Something terrible happened to the conservative movement in the 1990's -- a liberal Democrat became strongly associated in the public mind with a growing economy and fiscal discipline.
We conservatives have, or at least had
, one chance at blunting that trend: We had hoped that George Bush could get re-elected, and preside over his own
furiously-growing Miracle Economy, while balancing the budget and being perceived by the public as a shrewd fiscal steward.
He could then turn to Clinton and say, "Been there, done that. Wasn't even all that hard, to tell you the truth. I don't know why you were so boastful about it."
That is beginning to look less and less likely. And so, for all future elections, we will have to confront powerful facts not in our favor: Clinton, growing economy, record employment, surpluses. Bush, growing economy, shabby employment, biggest deficits in history.
What happens to the Republican Party then
? Demographics are already strongly against us; can we also afford to lose the Battle of Ideas, and especially due to unforced errors?
We hope that someone in the Bush White House twigs on that something very, very bad for them is happening in the conservative hinterlands. We hope they understand a course-correction is necessary.
We hope that our talk of repudiating Bush, or voting for a write-in like Roy Owens of Colorado, turns out to be just an angry bluff that had a good effect and then looks like so much silly Internet chatter in retrospect.
Because remember what happened in 1992.
But we also can't blind ourselves to the fact that George W. Bush is gleefully destroying the credibility of the conservative movement, and that, even should he win in 2004, he'll most likely be passing on a very damaged Republican Party to his would-be successor.
We can't say that we're ready to "flip," as we suspect Andrew Sullivan is. Even were we to "flip," we'd probably do so by either not voting at all or voting for a write-in. Or we might actually vote for Bush, but we would give up defending him to our liberal-leaning or politically apathetic family members. When our Sainted Mothers say, "Eh, what's the difference, they're all crooks and liars; why should we vote at all?," we're that much more likely to shrug in response and say, "Mother, you're quite right as usual."
Still, fair is fair. We did it to Andrew Sullivan; we have to do it for ourselves.
ACE OF SPADES FLIP WATCH
At the tone, the Ace of Spades Flip Watch displays a time of
11:03 pm -- fifty-seven minutes to midnight
We'll try to keep repeating to ourselves: "The next President will be nominating 3-5 members of the Supreme Court. The next President will be nominating 3-5 members of the Supreme Court. The next President will be nominating 3-5 members of the Supreme Court."
NOTE: Photo discovered on Free Republic, in the Bush NEA thread. These guys are amazing with pictures. They often find the perfect picture to sum a story up.
UPDATE: "Votelife" on Free Republic took the bother of looking up the ages of the Supreme Court Justices:
William H. Rehnquist, 80
John Paul Stevens, 84
Sandra Day O'Connor, 74
Antonin Scalia, 68
Anthony M. Kennedy, 68
David H. Souter, 65
Clarence Thomas, 56
Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 71
Stephen G. Breyer 66
O'Connor wants to retire. (To which we say: Good riddance.) Ditto Rehnquist. Scalia wants to move to the private sector. Ginsburg has health problems. Stevens is a doddering old man animated to come to work each day only by leftist venom and the fact that they serve butterscotch pudding and juice-boxes in the Supreme Court commissary.
Just to keep things in perspective.
The next president will not be nominating 3-5 justices. He'll be nominating 5-6.
Ann Coulter: Bring it On
Say what you will, but Ann Coulter
is still pound-for-pound the best knife-fighter in the business:
Kerry was indisputably brave in Vietnam, and it's kind of cute to see Democrats pretend to admire military service. Physical courage, like chastity, is something liberals usually deride, but are tickled when it accidentally manifests itself in one of their own. One has to stand in awe of Kerry's military service 33 years ago. Of course, that's where it ends, including with Kerry-- inasmuch as, upon his return from war in 1970, he promptly began trashing his fellow Vietnam vets by calling them genocidal murderers.
But if Bush can't talk to Kerry about the horrors of war, then Kerry sure as hell can't talk to anyone about the plight of the middle class. Kerry's life experience consists of living off other men's money by marrying their wives and daughters.
For over 30 years, Kerry's primary occupation has been stalking lonely heiresses. Not to get back to his combat experience, but Kerry sees a room full of wealthy widows as "a target-rich environment." This is a guy whose experience dealing with tax problems is based on spending his entire adult life being supported by rich women. What does a kept man know about taxes?
The lady is a magician with the stiletto.
Now we know Kerry's the nominee. Ann doesn't get this worked up about a second-placer.
Never the shy one, Dulcet Ann decided to break out her new attack on Hannity & Colmes tonight,
apparently leaving a Democratic hack spluttering.
Is this a low blow? An unfair attack?
Pardon us, but we seem to remember the Democrats and the left gleefully baiting Bush as being "Daddy's Boy," his money having come entirely from his family.
We can remember it well, because it was still going on as of yesterday.
So we can't say that it's off-limits to wonder about a man who simply marries for money. Kerry's money comes from his
family, too; the only difference is that he seduced the rich part of his family, rather than being sired by it.
We will admit: It does take a certain amount of skill to do this. We have some admiration for his mad seduction skills.
One has to be a bit of a player -- or, what's the word? That's right, a gigolo,
thank you Ann -- to convince a series of increasingly-wealthy heiresses to marry oneself.
But we're not sure it's a skill which is actually useful in the context of governing a country.
The US is, in the global scheme, the impossibly rich heiress, after all. Kerry can't pimp us off to another country in order to bring the "Kerry Miracle" to America at large.
Pakistan might marry us
to boost its finances, but we can't just shack up with Pakistan in order to reduce the deficit.
Further Thoughts on Big-Spending Bush
Who is the sort of voter who is truly moderate, truly balanced on the knife's edge between voting for Kerry or voting for Bush?
Is it the sort of person who cares greatly about increased funding for the NEA?
No. A real moderate isn't a left-wing culture warrior, which is what the NEA types are.
A real moderate is chiefly concerned about defense, crime, taxes, jobs, and health care. They don't tend to be strongly animated by missions to Mars or an ambitious new conceptualization of the role of government. They are inherently pragmatic, not ideological.
And they're Goldilocks voters. They're put off by what the media tells them about Republicans' alleged impulses towards class-elitism and racism; but then, they're also not gung-ho for racial "plus factors," set-asides, or quotas, either. They want a little bit of quotas; but not much. Just enough.
They want to be protected against terrorism. But they aren't terribly keen on Bush's "forward policy of freedom" for the Middle East and Muslim Southeast Asia; that's a bit too abstract and grandiose an ideal. They are primarily in favor of the Iraq war because Saddam gave us the finger for 12 years and shot at our pilots on a weekly basis and because they know, no matter what the New York Times editorialists might insist, that there probably was some connection between Saddam and Al Qaeda.
In short, they're for a fair amount of terrorist-fighting (more than they suspect they'll get from any Democrat), but not too much. Just the right amount.
And so on.
Big spending on the National Endowment for the Arts -- as Pat Buchanan famously called it, "the Arts and Crafts Auxilliary of the Liberal Eastern Elite" -- is not what a potential Bush voter wants in his president.
He wants his president being cautious with the precious dollars cut out of his paycheck. He doesn't necessarily mind government spending, so long as that spending is of the sort which will benefit himself.
We don't see a lot of NASCAR dads staking out their mailboxes, anxiously awaiting the response to an NEA grant proposal.
But being non-ideological and tending towards split the difference compromise, they're also not the sort of people who want to simply cut all funding to the NEA-- they consider that too harsh, too philistine, and, well, too damn Republican
But they also don't want to see its budget increased much. They want just enough funding for the NEA that they don't have to hear jackasses like Mike Farrell get on The Today Show
and lecture them about what anti-intellectual, penny-pinching shits they are.
Most moderates want to spend government money on non-essential functions simply to pay off the whiners and make them go away.
Paying for the NEA is, to them, a lot like giving the local rummy who's sleeping in front of their store ten bucks to find another block to slum in. It's protection money, petty bribes, the vig they pay for simply being left the hell alone to live their lives in relative peace.
So they're willing to pay enough to appease
the liberal scolds, but not enough to actually please
them. Goldilocks again -- not too little, not too much. Just right.
But now Bush comes along and proposes a $15-20 million boost in NEA spending. The same sort of useless spending that angers them when a liberal proposes it.
So what makes Bush think they'll thank him for what they condemn in liberals?
We could get silly and say that Kerry could even get to the right
of Bush on this issue, and propose cutting back NEA funding. But of course Kerry won't, and neither will any Democrat.
But neither will Bush garner any support from anyone who cares about the NEA. The Karen Finley Appreciation Society is not likely to endorse Bush in 2004.
So: There is no political gain. There is some actual political harm, not only with the conservative base, which is outraged, but even among the persuadable moderates, who may like talk about "vision" in a presidential candidate but aren't willing to pony up a lot of money to fund someone else's abstract vision.
And there's the pesky little manner of the government spending another 20 large that it just doesn't have.
Bush said in 2000 that it didn't pay to get into a spending match with a liberal, because that's a fight he just couldn't win.
We'd like to say that we're upset that Bush has forgotten that simple premise.
But our real fear isn't that Bush has forgotten that axiom. It's that he was wrong
Because it's beginning to look as if maybe Bush can
win a spending match with a liberal after all.
Bush to Seek Largest NEA Increase in 20 Years
via Drudge: Laura Bush will announce a request for $15-20 million in additional funding for 2005's NEA budget.
2004's increase was $5 million. 2003's: $500,000.
We are beginning to become flabbergasted by Bush. And increasingly indifferent to his electoral prospects.
Is this a sop to Laura Bush? If so, it's a tremendously pricey present, and the sort of gift one should give with one's own money, rather than the public treasury's. Kobe Bryant gave his gal an $8 million dollar rock; but that lavish gift didn't cost us a dime.
Is this more of that patented Karl Rove genius? Angering conservative voters to chase after liberal voters who wouldn't vote for Bush were his opponent Jack the Ripper?
(We can envision the Democrats' slogan: "Vote for Red Jack-- He only murdered five
Is George Bush actively attempting to lose this election?
Is he some sort of adrenaline junkie who just feels the need to keep things competitve and interesting?
We are at a loss.
QUICK UPDATE: We think maybe we have an angle on this.
George W. Bush wants to appear to be a compassionate conservative for 2004. "Compassionate" is of course code for "big spending." That's what compassion is, after all-- how much of the public fisc you waste on bureaucratic boondoggles.
One problem with his desire to spend more money: The government doesn't have much of it. This is sort of a good thing, except Bush has been spending as if the government had just married John Kerry's next wife.
So, what to do? He needs to spend more, and yet he can't spend much
more without actually putting the country into Weimar Republic style hyperinflation. ("There's gonna be gold riots, atonal music, political chaos, mass suicide, right? Can you imagine what people are going to do when a six-pack of Budweiser costs twelve thousand dollars?")
What he does is this:
He takes the Clinton approach of proposing what are actually, in the scheme of things, very small new outlays. And let's face it, $15-20 million in the US Government doesn't buy you even the nice
pens with the smoothly-rolling ballpoints. But each of these relatively small-bore outlays is of a highly-visible nature, and represents, relative to the current operating budget of the program in question, an enormous, undeniably generous burst of new spending.
Which George W. Bush can take credit for.
Compare to the rather small initiative for mentoring released prisoners. $300 million over four years, we think it was-- not a vast sum in government terms. Not cheap, no. But not a prescription drug benefit, certainly.
But the expenditure is
a new bit of "compassion" that George W. Bush can take credit for alone. He wasn't pressured to spend this by the Democrats (or at least not visibly). It's his own "compassion" (well, actually, it's ours
, the taxpayers' , but what's $75 million per year between friends?) and the specific new spending represents a fairly large new commitment in this area.
But while it's a large new commitment in that particular area, it remains a small, affordable-on-its-own terms, relatively minor increase in overall government budgeting.
It's a bit of illusion-- how can he give the impression he's spending more while actually attempting, somehow, to be less of a spendthift?
For a relatively small budgetary impact, he hopes to get a much larger political benefit.
That's the theory he and Rove are employing.
Here's the problem:
Whether these initiatives are small-bore or not, we, his conservative base, are sick of the endless spending.
Here's the other problem:
No one who doesn't already lean towards Bush is going to be persuaded to do so because he wants to blow $300 million on ex-convicts, or $20 million on more NEA-funded paintings executed in exciting new mixed-medium of dog feces and menstrual blood.
Why, some of us might even be pushed in the other direction.
And here's the real problem:
For years, the Republican Party stood for little more (on domestic issues at least) than merely wishing to spend slightly less than the Democrats on boondoggle programs. The Republicans conceded the burning need to study the fecal density of migrating egrets; they just thought we should spend slightly less to achieve this important national objective.
The point of conservatism
-- as opposed to 50's-style Republican thrift-shop liberalism-- is to actually challenge the premise that such government spending is needed in the first place; not to simply submit a cheaper counterproposal for spending.
Conservatism is about questioning the need for government intrusion into areas better handled by the private sphere, and of limiting, if not reducing, the size of government. And of repudiating the liberal dream of an ambitious, ever-growing, programmatic march towards government-funded Utopia.
Bush's Thousand Points of New Spending program therefore undermines the central premise of fiscal conservatism.
What issue, precisely, are we supposed to take to the people in November? We can't argue that the government doesn't need to be spending taxpayer money on bad art or Manners for Murderers; Bush has already conceded -- hell, he's even boasted -- that of course the government should be spending generously in these areas. Hell, the Bush team has decided it should be spending more.
And if it should be spending more-- why not, much more?
We realize that politics is the art of the possible and all that.
But at what point does Bush's re-election seem no longer clearly preferable to a Kerry Presidency?
Weird But Cute
We stumbled upon this strange psychadelic game
over the summer.
We still love the odd opening image and the creepy music.
But the ensuing game is pretty fun too.
SMALL SPOILER: Don't read this if you want to play the game entirely on your own.
But if you're having trouble getting the game started-- click on the lighthouse atop the space-rock.
Shock: Mainstream Media Notices Crisis in Iran
The Washington Post
(which, to its great credit, has been fairly reasonable about the War on Terrorism generally) op-eds the standoff.
It's not that their position is especially interesting (they're in favor of reform).
It's that they actually troubled themselves to comment on the crisis.
Meanwhile, they further surprise us by publishing this level-headed piece on the WMD situation.
Liberals: Smart, Brave, Righteous... and Hot!
We're getting a little sick of hearing about how "presidential" and "Lincolnesque" and "Mount Rusmore-ish" John Kerry looks.
Frankly, he looks pretty bizarre. This is fairly obvious to anyone who looks at the man without the glow of partisan love obscuring his vision.
The media cannot help deeming politicians it loves as attractive. How many times were we informed that Hillary Clinton was "beautiful," in flat contradiction of the empirical evidence?
There's no denying John Kerry has an iconic look.
But which icon?
Let us suggest one.
Is that a cheap, juvenile shot? Perhaps. But it wouldn't be necessary if the media could
1) try to avoid commenting on politicians' looks entirely
and, failing that,
2) perhaps they could comment honestly
on a candidate's looks, instead of forever insisting that every liberal they come across is a latter-day Adonis or Aphrodite.
No one ever insisted repeatedly that Phil Graham was a veritable twin of television actor and star of Revenge of the Nerds
Ted McGinley, for example.
Iran: Students Call for Election Boycott
The brinksmanship continues.
For those who still aren't following these events, here's a recap of recent developments:
* "Supreme Leader" Khamenei once again blinked -- or half-blinked -- and instructed the Guardian Council to again re-evaluate its disqualification of thousands of candidates for office.
* But the Council has as of yet reinstated only 800-900 of the 2000+ candidates struck from the ballots as being "unqualified" or "un-Islamic."
* At least four Ministers have resigned their posts in protest.
The question remains: Will the Supreme Leader and Guardian Council (why is it the bad guys always have to give themselves James-Bond-villain titles?) compromise/relent enough
to defuse the crisis and slow the rush to outright repudiation of the regime?
Or will they miscalculate and provoke an open revolt against the government?
Now-- With Comments!
We just installed the neat commenting-program from the folks at HaloScan.
So you can now flood us with your effusive praise.
We sure hope HaloScan can handle the enormous spike in bandwidth utilization they're about to experience.
Giuliani Rumor Knocked Down
Well, that didn't take very long.
To do a bit of Safire-esque speculation: Assuming that neither party is outright lying, this is probably a case of free-lance trial-ballooning. A number of Bushies think this is a good idea, and may have floated the notion to the Big Guy; they got no firm knock-down from Bush.
So, on their own, and to advance their own notion, they float this possibility to see if it captures the public's fancy. They hope they can use a positive response to Bush into thinking along these lines.
That said, we don't think this is likely for a host of reasons.
1) Bush doesn't like to admit he's wrong. No retreat, no surrender. Yes, Cheney has health concerns that such a move can be plausibly used as a pretext, but no one in the liberal media will give that any credence.
"Bush was wrong; Cheney the Fall-Guy for Iraq" is what the subtext of every "news" article will be from now until November.
2) Big changes like this will be seized upon as a display of "disarray" within the administration.
Write your own Johnny Apple think piece for that.
3) Although Cheney doesn't appear
to bring much to the electoral value of the ticket, appearances frequently deceive.
Cheney is ideologically sympatico with Bush; to the extent they diverge, Cheney is a bit more conservative.
That importance of this cannot be overstated. Bush does not have to worry about Cheney making statements that undermine his support with his conservative base-- as he had to worry about O'Neill, and continues to have to worry about Powell.
Conservatives are fairly pleased with the Bush-Cheney ticket. But there is an increasing amount of grumbling.
Replacing Cheney with much more left-leaning Veep -- even one as attractive as Giuliani -- could be outright disastrous with the base.
4) There's limited upside to the move. People don't vote for Vice President. They just don't. They vote for the President and his policies.
Perhaps a Giuliani Veepbid would increase Bush's cache with moderates. But it would also diminish his support among conservatives.
It's hard to prove that the one is outweighed by the other. But suffice to say that we think very few people in this country who lean to the left will be voting for George W. Bush, even if his running mate is Mohatmas K. Gandhi.
To those who would say "But it puts New York in play!," we have a simple response:
No it doesn't.
Elaborating a bit on that:
Being "in play" doesn't count for much. If Guiliani would make it likely or at least somewhat likely that Bush would win New York, then sure, it would be a terrific move.
But merely closing up the natural Democrat advantage in New York to a "mere" ten points or so is not enough.
It doesn't even force your opponent to spend more in New York than he'd like to, because liberal candidates have to assume New York's support and plan from there.
If a liberal actually has to fight for New York, he's going to lose, so there's no point really fighting for New York.
We can still dream, right? Or has that right too been stripped from us in the police state that is Ashcroft's America?
This comes from MSNBC's gossip columnist,
but the claim is that senior administration officials say that Cheney is off the 2004 ticket. The reason which will be given is "health concerns."
Rudy is at the top of the list to replace him.
We are skeptical. But we are interested
Believe it or not, this nugget comes from Oliver Willis' site.
That's right-- he's actually taken time away from his day-non-job of posting unfunny fake news articles and Lad-Mag pictures of models to post a link to an interesting gossip story.
Blair to be Cleared in Idiotic Suicide Probe
Apparently they won't be prosecuting Tony Blair for contributing to the suicide of weapons inspector David Kelly...
It is on this issue that The Sun's report of leaks says Hutton found "no dishonorable or underhand or duplicitous strategy by the government covertly to leak Dr. Kelly's name to the media." The Sun said the Ministry of Defense was criticized for failing to tell Kelly his name would come out.
I just can't wait for the Hysterical Left to discover the next earth-shaking scandal.
I've Got a Bridge in Massachusetts For Ya
On Kerry's lack of presence:
It's strange that a man who charged into enemy fire should prove so physically inferior, as a politician, to a man whose greatest athletic feat during the Vietnam era was swimming ashore at Chappaquiddick.
-- William Saleten, Slate
The point being made is perfectly disposable.
We just enjoy reminders that the senior Senator from Massachusetts doesn't have skeletons in the closet; he's got the dead body of a blue-lipped drowned girl in a river.
But we're sure, as one liberal commentator was, that somewhere up in heaven, Mary Jo Kopechne is very grateful to Ted Kennedy, for working so hard to secure benefits for seniors that she was never able to collect.
It's time to just Move On, of course.
...at long last, long-delayed, long anticipated...
The opening chapters of the first book in our new Celebrity Skullduggers Mystery Series line.
The Case of the Missing WMD's
A Michael Moore Mystery (TM)
Chapter 1. Enter the Detective
It was a cold snowy day in the cruel-hearted city.
I was standing in front of an organic grocery on Columbus and 66th. Waiting to meet a contact.
Or, perhaps, a "contact." A set-up. A piece of juicy bait dangled by Karl Rove's Department of Dirty Tricks.
Time would tell. it always does.
That's what time does-- it tells.
And it kills.
I was dressed like any other citizen of these Unilateral States of America.
I wore a dirty beat-up ski parka.
Gap Comfort-Fit shirt.
Wrangler Husky (TM) jeans.
Black socks. Or at least they appeared black-ish.
Even I was uncomfortable with the current state of my socks. Due to constant wear and infrequent washing, they'd ceased being flexible fabric and had become a semi-rigid polyblend of wool and human filth, perfectly shaped to match the contours of my feet.
I couldn't be too worried about that. Cleanliness means less and less in George Walker Hitler's Amerikkka.
You wouldn't know to look at me that I'm an Oscar (TM) winning director of the critically-hailed documentary Bowling for Columbine
. Or that I won the Cannes Film Festival's Palm d'Or for that very work. Or that I captured the prestigious British Bookseller's Truth-to-Power Prize for my New York Times bestselling Dude, Where's My Country?
If I told you all that -- if I told you about the myriad film awards I'd won for my powerful documentary Roger and Me
, or my Emmy (TM) award for my revolutionary television show TV Nation
-- you probably wouldn't believe me.
But then I'd show you. Because I have all those awards with me. I carry them on my person at all times in an oversized Land's End hiking bag, well-frayed strap draped rakishly over my left shoulder.
It's a heavy bag.
Because I've won a lot of awards.
I could tell you all about them. I think maybe I will.
But later. Right now, you only have to understand that I was on a one-man mission to reveal the truth about the Bush Maladministration.
The truth about Iraq.
The truth about Afghanistan.
The truth about this fictitious "president" fighting a fictitious war against fictitious enemies and then refusing to attend the fictitious funerals of the fictitious victims of his warmongering.
Wait. No. That's not right.
The funerals and victims are actually real. Sorry. They're real, everything before that last clause is fictitious.
Sometimes, when you're as cynical and hard-boiled as I am, you lose all control over your run-on sentences. We hard-boiled detectives run a little hot
That's just the way it is, Princess. If you want to tag along on my beat, you'll just have to get used to it.
My name is Moore. Mike Moore. I carry a badge.
The badge says, "First Prize, Documentary, Tarrytown Film Festival."
But the badge says something else. It's not there in print, it's not embossed over the shiny gold relief of the Tarrytown Chamber of Cultural Affairs, but the badge says it all the same.
The badge says I own this corner of New York.
This part of the city is mine
. The city might be grimy and dirty and in desperate need of a shave but she's mine.
She's mine --all the way from the Barnes & Noble on 83rd down to the Brentano's at 72nd; from the Starbuck's on Central Park West all the way over to the Gap for Kids on Columbus Avenue.
I walked along the streets, passing the Zabar's, the Citradella's, the Fairway Upscale Grocer, the designer-eyeware outlets; the Burberry-coated podiatrists hustling to work, the interactive medical software engineers tightly clutching their PowerBooks, the slinky Columbia pre-dentistry students bobbing along obliviously as they listened to John Meyer Unplugged
on their I-Pods.
It was a jungle. My jungle
. None of them knew, none even suspected, that I was watching over all of them, hard-eyed, alert, just waiting, praying
, for any of them to break bad and attempt to stifle my right to speak out against the Forty-Third Reich that is the Bush Residency.
I am the fat blue line.
I'm an Internet Detective.
Chapter 2. Daylight Danger
You say you've never heard of an Internet Detective? Doesn't surprise me. The American public doesn't know a lot of what's going on these days.
I'm the world's first and only Internet Detective. I patrol the Internet, looking for vital clues. And they're out there, folks.
It's all out there. The truth is out there waiting to be discovered. On MoveOn.org. On Indymedia. On MediaWhoresOnline.
Thousands of people who scarcely leave their apartments are busy typing, typing, typing conspiracy theories into their on-line journals and reading and quoting and citing other intrepid Internet researchers.
My job is to gather the clues. Piece together the pieces of the puzzle. Take this Reichstag Fire essay from BushIsHitler.com, synthesize it with information gleaned from gleaned from HitlerWasBush.com about the Bush Crime Family's Nazi connections.
I put the clues together. Copy stuff I find on-line, paste it into my Word documents. Then I publish my findings in extraordinarily lucrative mass-market pop-politics books.
Takes all of ten minutes.
I wrote my upcoming book, Help, My Regime Has Fallen and I Can't Get Up!
, while waiting for a trim at SuperCuts.
It's a tough racket. A dangerous job. But I take only $200,000 as an advance plus a guaranteed $200,000 marketing and promotion budget plus 15% of all gross receipts and retained ancillary rights.
A man does what he has to get by in this economy.
Which is the worst economy in all of American history, including the Great Depression (source: a man posting under the name "Stinky" on Salon Table Talk).
* * *
I stamped my feet in the snow to keep them warm. My contact was late.
He went by the name of "Joe Wilson." Likely story. Said he had some information about his CIA-operative wife being "outed" by Karl Rove.
That's what he said.
Time would tell.
Time always does. That's what time does.
I reached into a pants-pocket for a half-eaten Pizza Hut Meat Lover's Deep-Dish Pizza I had wisely stowed away earlier, folded up in my pants like a chunky, cheesy handkerchief.
I sank my teeth into the cold but delectable melange
of cheese, pepperoni, and spicy Italian ham.
An elderly Chinese couple crunched through the snow and then stopped directly before me, interrupting my meager feast.
"Please sir," the old woman began.
"Move on, China White," I told her. "I'm busy."
I began eating the crust around the outside of the pizza. I wiped my sauce-dripping fingers on the nearest convenient surface, which happened to be my forehead.
Now the man started up with me. "Sir, we are tourists. From Taiwan. We want to know how to get to the Number 9 line--"
I wasn't buying his act. "I told Madame Jade here already. I'm on the job. Working on a case of vital importance to the very survival of the American Republic." I opened my mouth wide and tossed the last delicious chunk of the pizza into my mouth, and then I swallowed it without chewing. Then I fixed my attention of the Chinese couple, who still had not left me to my thoughts. "I'm busy, Grasshopper. Now why don't the pair of you make like General Tso and go invent yourselves a popular chicken dish."
The couple pretended to not understand what I was saying. I didn't like it.
Everything about them screamed: Set up.
Agent provocateurs. Or worse-- Cointelpro agents, a two-man CIA/FBI "Political Damage Control" team.
"Ah, ah, yes, yes," the "old" "Chinese" "man" said in an effort to reassure me. "But I have this, ah, this map of subway. If you could please show where--"
He attempted to bring the "map" up near my face. I seized his wrist to stop him.
I'd had enough. They wouldn't be chilling my
right to free speech today.
I smiled warmly to both of them. "It's just this way," I said in a pleasant sing song. I led them into the loading alley behind a restaurant.
"Ah, very good, very good," the Bush minion said.
Once we were away from the view of the general public, I reached into my bag, took out my Oscar (TM) for Best Documentary, and began savagely beating them about the head and shoulders with the gleaming golden statuette.
The couple fled from the alley at warp speed, screaming gibberish "Chinese" in wild panic, blinded by hot red blood flowing freely into their eyes.
I reached behind my ear and took out a Scooter Pie I'd tucked behind it earlier. I bit into the marshmallowlicious confection with deepest satisfaction.
I could have killed them.
But I chose to let them live.
Let them deliver a message to Karl Rove:
They're not taking this
critically-praised filmmaker down without a fight.
Pauline Kael once called me "the Woody Allen of documentarians, and the Erroll Morris of comics."
That's not exactly relevant, but I think you should know that. Pauline Kael doesn't just say that about anybody, you know.
My name is Michael Moore.
I am on Jeneane Garofalo's IM Buddy List.
Chapter 3. Interview with the Mole
It was an hour later when "Joe Wilson" meandered up to me.
He was well-dressed. Clean-shaven. His slightly shaggy mane was the only discordant note.
He was gaunt, nearly emaciated. On a five-foot-ten frame, he was only carrying two hundred forty, two-hundred-fifty pounds. A mantis-like stick-figure of a man.
Not a burly, robust manly figure like myself.
He began to introduce himself, but I quickly seized him by the lapels, spun him about, and checked him hard against the wall. I began searching him for weapons.
I expertly patted down his greatcoat, my fingers twitching and alert for the feel of cold hard metal.
As an Internet Detective, I've become an expert for patting people down for hidden weapons.
And also for hidden Filet-O-Fish sandwiches. You never know when a perp might be holding one out on you.
I finished patting him down.
No gun. No Filet-O-Fish, either.
But then: It never hurts to ask. So I did.
"No," Wilson told me, his voice even and clear, "I'm not hiding a Filet-O-Fish sandwich anywhere on my body."
"If you say so," I said. He looked like the kind of guy who'd carry a Filet-O-Fish with him. Why wouldn't he? They're delicious.
"So, I guess we should get in out of the snow," he said, worrying his fingers together for warmth. "Maybe we could try that juice bar. They seem to have seating."
I looked in the direction of his gaze. From the outside, it did appear to be just an innocent shop selling blended juice drinks.
But I didn't like it.
I saw corporate-casual clones ordering fruit drinks, making casual chatter with the girl at the register. Any single one of them could be a government agent, a Bush hitboy, a blue-eyed blond-haired corn-fed all-American killer, toting a government issue license to chill my right to free speech. And lay my body down cold and hard right beside while they're at it.
I shook my head. "No dice, Wilson. Fruit's off the menu today."
Wilson didn't get it. "I really wanted a smoothie."
"A smoothie, eh, kid?" I chuckled. I absently stuck a match into my mouth. "You know what kind of smoothie you'll get in there? The kind where they set both barrels of their shotguns to 'puree' and they splatter your pulp all over the wall. And then they scrape your life-juice off into a clear plastic cup and serve it to their thirsty Republican masters, all topped with whipped cream and papaya slices while the brainwashed American public clamors for more. Is that the kind of 'smoothie' you're looking for, Wilson?"
Wilson thought about that. "Actually," he said, "I was thinking more like a Raspberry Fribble."
I jerked a thumb over my shoulder. "Let's travel. I don't like staying in one place too long." I began walking. Wilson followed.
"Where are we going?" he wanted to know.
"A careful, quiet little joint we locals call The Royal Orange." I looked back over my shoulder. "Out of towners -- tourists
like you -- probably know it as Burger King."
Wilson seemed satisfied enough with that.
The local BK was known as something of a haunt for fellow truth-seekers like myself. Several times over the past year I'd seen former UNSCOM inspector Scott Ritter there (rail-thin at a mere 280 pounds) sharing a Happy Meal with his daughters, one a fetching Vietnamese girl of about fourteen years of age, the other a pretty sixteen year old blonde with a bit of baby fat but gorgeous blue eyes.
Wait. Now that I think about it, Scott Ritter doesn't have any kids that age.
Nevermind. Most likely the pretty underage lasses were sources he was cultivating. Probably something juicy about the Bush-Heroin-Oil triangle trade I'd read so much about on BushJacksSmack.org.
We came upon the doors of the Burger King. My senses thrilled to the sound of Chicken Tenders sizzling in grease.
"Maybe you'll be able to get a Filet-O-Fish," Wilson offered.
"Maybe," I nodded, but I chuckled a little inside. The kid was a rookie. And that's what rookies do-- they make rookie mistakes.
For a man could spend a hard jailhouse year in this merciless city before he'd get a Filet-O-Fish at a Burger King.
Because they're not on the menu. They just don't make them.
On the other hand: They do make Whalers.
And on a cold gray snow-shrouded day in New York, Whalers sounded just fine to me.
to be continued...
John Kerry: "A Day of Reckoning with Saddam Hussein is inevitable"
An eagle-eyed newshawk on Free Republic has found an old AFP report on John Kerry, calling military action against Iraq unavoidable. But then, that was back in the days when a Democrat could benefit politically from such action.
When a Republican is in office, suddenly war is not merely evitable; it's...
as Tom Daschle would hyperventilate.
WASHINGTON, Dec 16 (AFP)...
The US military will "be able to take action in short order," he said after being briefed at the White House, adding "a day of reckoning with (Iraqi President) Saddam Hussein is inevitable."
Kerry, who sits on the Senate foreign relations and select intelligence committees, added that it was time "to hold him accountable with the use of military force."
There's an idea. Holding him "accountable" with "military force."
Gee, I'm sure if George Bush ever
tries something like that, he'll have John Kerry's full support.
In a bid to deflect charges that President Bill Clinton's impeachment woes were driving US policy, Kerry said "Saddam Hussein is responsible for the coincidence, Saddam Hussein is responsible for the timing."
"He has toyed with the United Nations, the United States and its allies and UNSCOM," the UN agency charged with dismantling Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, said Kerry.
"Reasonable people, those who have been following (the evolving crisis) cannot question the legitimacy of this moment" he stressed, adding "this has nothing to do with impeachment."
The pending impeachment vote has not distracted Clinton, who has "a great capacity to separate this from other things (and) a remarkable ability to stay focused on the issues," said Kerry.
Kerry's comments came after some US lawmakers had suggested Clinton's motives were questionable because on Thursday he faces just the second presidential House impeachment vote in US history.
Ah. So it would be just absurd
to suggest a political motive behind such an attack. Who's fault is it that a military option has become required? Why, it's Saddam Hussein's, and Saddam Hussein's alone.
At least-- when it's a Democrat in office.
With all due respect to John F-Bomb Kerry, perhaps Democrats have this deep suspicion that Republicans start wars to goose their political standing and poll numbers because Democrats know that's why
they themselves do so.
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