Sunday, December 31, 2006

The Three Bears Forecast:

You remember the Goldilocks story. There was the traditional single-child Bear family, with one momma, one poppa and one baby. They didn’t maintain much security in their peaceful neighborhood, so when Britney or Paris or Pamela or whomever the blond was that was roaming the woods broke into the place she found a range of appeal in most everything she tried. Usually there were the two possible extremes and then one that was just right. So too with predictions for the coming year.

If you are of the pessimistic persuasion, you might look at this one:

Gloomy Poll

Or, if you lean toward the bright side of the spectrum and see your glasses as half full, then try this:

Sunshine Poll

If you are a realist and think back on predictions made in previous years you should be able to acknowledge that these exercises are always wrong…or always right…to some degree or another.

Let me make some predictions. They will be as right or wrong as those of the highly paid pundits and worth exactly what you are paying for them. It will give me a chance, however, to point back at them when the predictions come true during the year or, conveniently to ignore them if nothing of the sort comes to pass.

First: there will be a major terrorist attack on US soil during the coming year. That is pretty much guaranteed. It will probably be Islamist jihadists, but it could just as easily be some kook wanna-be playing for his fifteen minutes of infamy. Regardless, a lot of people will die and once again we will get serious about security and maybe this time we will keep at it until we’ve made some progress.

Two: enviro-whackos will continue to preach global warming and eco-terrorism but sensible folks will begin to acknowledge that we can’t have it both ways. If we want to continue living in the manner to which we’ve become accustomed, we are going to have to drill for oil, build power-plants, transport goods on highways, clone animals and plants to insure a food supply and chop down trees to build our homes. We will begin to compromise and maybe stop trying to operate with our hands tied by excessive environmental legislation.

Three: the new congress will increase the minimum wage, repeal tax cuts and increase hand-outs to the growing welfare class. The result will be a plunge in the Dow, increased unemployment, accelerating inflation and much higher interest rates as consumer optimism goes down. The voting public will not link the cause and effect.

Four: we will not do a single thing to deal with illegal immigration. Nothing, nada, zippo, zilch! No walls, no visas, no registration, no deportations, no employer oversights and not much more than talk without walk from the political panderers in Washington.

Fifth: there will not be a draft. Both parties will point at the other side and say it is them that will be taking our children to fight in unjust wars. The military will correctly state that we don’t want unwilling conscripts to train and attempt to manage. Spoiled American youth will whine that it isn’t their fault and they see no reason to serve. Consideration will be given to outsourcing the contract for our defense. Bangladesh will bid on the job.

Sixth: even the Democrats will begin to recognize that Hillary Clinton has too much baggage to be a viable candidate for president. While the party faithful might yearn for a return to the Clinton era, mainstream—and generally quiet—America doesn’t want to dredge through all of the associated muck again. They will also realize that Barack Obama needs a minimum of two terms in the Senate before he proves some capability for the top slot.

Seventh: the Republicans will whimper when John McCain announces that his health won’t let him run, but many will know that he isn’t what the Reagan conservative core of the party seeks. Guiliani isn’t either, but he will be a major contender. Look for a rise to prominence of someone we still haven’t heard from. Governors are always good choices.

Eighth: Windows Vista will be a huge success. The usual suspects will gripe about vulnerabilities and instability, but users will be dazzled and honest folks will have to concede that MS has hit a homerun.

Ninth: there will be a re-emergence of class, culture and sophistication in American Society. People will not show the slightest interest in whether Paris has a dog, Britney has underwear, Angelina has a baby, or Madonna has hot flashes. Tabloids at grocery store checkout counters will disappear in bankruptcy and rap music will no longer cause my bedroom walls to vibrate as some idiot with $10,000 worth of stereo in a $400 car drives by. (OK, none of this will happen, but I wish it would.)

And Tenth: the US will slowly withdraw from Iraq as a politically driven run-up to a presidential election year. The result will be increasing violence in that country, increasing adventurism by Iran, increasing vulnerability to energy supplies for Europe, Russia and the Far East, and an increasing realization that we made a mistake—not by going there, but by leaving.

I promise to come back to this next year—good Lord willin’ and the creek don’t rise. We’ll see how I did.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Amazing Without Mirrors

The fishwrapper this morning pointed out that with recent Christmas purchases there are now 33 MILLION of us with High Definition televisions. That’s a lot of plasma, LCD, DLP, mirrors and magic going on out there. I confess, I’m one of the mass. I’ve been one for about two years now. I’ve seen high def programming and was amazed. When I first sat in front of the set at home with my cable hookup, I found myself watching Korean sumo wrestling, just because it was in high def. The Koreans are more modest than the Japanese version. They wear white boxer shorts under their sumo thong. And they typically average about 115 pounds. But, hey, it’s in HIGH DEF!

That was then. Now I just passed my one year anniversary in my new digs in North Texas. Cable doesn’t quite meet the standard we had in Colorado. I understand the costs of that “last mile” thing. Stringing cable to small town across America is expensive and maybe Whitesboro isn’t quite as ready for high def as Plano or Denton. So, cable isn’t in my house. I’ve got satellite. Dish Network to be specific. That’s the service that reaches skyward to those orbiting satellite repeaters so that I can theoretically get most any major TV channel that is broadcast. The operative word there is theoretically.

I’ve got the “Platinum” programming package—that’s 180 of the “most popular TV” channels. I’ve got HBO, Showtime and CineMax. I’ve got the High Definition tier and additionally got the “VOOM” channels for more High Definition. What I don’t have to any great degree is High Definition.

I don’t have Fox HD. I don’t have CBS, NBC or ABC HD. I don’t have NFL HD. I get the promos that tell me there is HD broadcast of major network programming, but I don’t receive it. I could get it with the flick of a switch on Dish Network’s vast control room. It’s out there in space waiting to be beamed to my little Dish 1000 dual satellite receiver. But I don’t get it.

What do I get? Well, there’s the Kung Fu HD channel—all Asian violence all the time. I get Monsters HD, with every Godzilla movie ever made running back-to-back. But, broadcasting them in HD still doesn’t get a HD picture. They were grainy movies then and they’re still grainy. Oh, and I’ve got two HD channels in the package that have never been on-the-air all year as well as an HD Pay-per-view channel—but, I thought I was paying for HD already.

Recently, during the middle of the Nebraska—Oklahoma game, Dish shut off my Fox and ABC feeds. Seems that our Congress decreed that I couldn’t see major networks other than those from my local provider. So, despite being 50 miles from Dallas, that ain’t my local provider and I don’t get them—even in standard definition. I get Sherman TX for CBS now. It’s a channel that has a funny quirk of going in and out of focus on about a three-second cycle. It’ll give you vertigo after a while.

Well, it isn’t really that I can’t get out-of-area channels exactly. There is another company that for $2.50 a month decided whether you meet their criteria and then they feed you a San Francisco or Atlanta channel—which is fuzzy, grainy and drops out whole chunks of sound and picture with distressing regularity. But no High Def.

One special feature of Dish is that when it rains or the wind blows, you’ll lose contact with the satellite for half an hour at a time while the little computer gizmo reacquires the satellites and does fifteen or twenty quality checks before restoring service. That means when I’d really like to know if a tornado is bearing down on my domicile, I’ll have to listen for the freight train sound rather than get some weather news on TV.

So, somewhere sun is shining and somewhere children shout, but there is no joy in Whitesboro, mighty Dish Network continues to strike out.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Hiring The CEO

Let’s imagine. You’re on the board of directors of a multi-billion dollar company. There have been some problems recently and as a good steward of the investment you know that it is time to replace the CEO. You’re wondering about the bottom line and maybe even new directions. Is your product competitive or is technology changing faster than you can adapt? What should your new leadership be doing?

So, you have a board meeting. The directors sit around the mahogany table and discuss what they want in a candidate. What are they suggesting?

Maturity. We need someone with some grounding and the ability to detach emotion from the decision-making process. We don’t want to be wearing our heart on our sleeves when it comes to the success of the corporation do we? We need someone with, dare I say it, gravitas!

Experience. In an operation the size of ours we can’t afford an on-the-job training situation. We’ve got to find someone who has some workplace experience. Someone who knows how to define the problems and bring together a team that can assemble solutions. There’s no room for nepotism or manufactured diversity quotas. We need a leader that can lead and the management staff has to know what they are doing, not simply be square fillers or tokens.

Integrity. Sure, that goes without saying. There’s no room to hire someone who’s run afoul of the law or even someone who might be suspicious in their past. We don’t want to have to divert our resources to putting out fires regarding conduct and honor and behavior. There are problems to be solved regarding the operations here and we don’t need to waste a lot of effort discussing whether the boss wears boxers or briefs.

Well, wait a second. Isn’t it time we consider a woman for the job? I mean the position has been held for as long as we’ve been in business by a man. Isn’t it time for a woman to have a turn at the helm? Wouldn’t that be fair?

Honestly, if we can find a woman who wants the job who possesses the qualities, the values, the experience, the talent, the capability, the moral authority, the respect that we need, then certainly we should consider a woman. It is what is best for the company that should guide our decision. It’s what we owe the stock-holders. It’s what we know is necessary. But, it isn’t going to be because it’s someone’s “turn”. That would be foolish, wouldn’t it? To put someone in the job simply because of their gender rather than their qualifications?

Maybe now you’ve identified the metaphor. The company is the US of A. The board is the voters. The CEO is the president.

That is why it is so ludicrous to be watching the Barack and Hillary follies. That is why this in the New York Times is disturbing:

Applying For A Job

Can someone tell me about Barack? I know he’s the proper mix of white and black parents to somehow make him a Renaissance Man of color. But that doesn’t make him presidential.

I know he’s a Senator from Illinois. But he’s only been in the job two years. That doesn’t make him experienced.

I know he responds to the question about drug use with a throw away about actually inhaling quite a bit and doing “a bit of blow”. Sorry, but at that point he just joined my not-so-short list of disqualified. I don’t need confessed druggies, even recreational druggies, in the big chair in the front office. No. Simply NO!

But, has he ever held a job? Beyond being charming and maybe even somewhat charismatic, does he have any accomplishments of import? What has he done? Beyond being black and cute I seem to find his resume lacking. Does he have any management experience? Built a staff somewhere? Solved some crisis? Met a payroll?

Increasingly I keep returning to the conclusion that America is incapable of exercising democracy. Choosing a CEO isn’t a popularity contest. It isn’t a social engineering laboratory. It isn’t a “everybody gets a turn” fair play exercise. It is about leading the greatest country in the world to success and security for the people. How come we keep forgetting that?

Thursday, November 30, 2006

What’s In a Name?

Apparently the big news now is that we’re OK with calling the unpleasantness in Iraq a “civil war.” If that gets progress in resolving an increasingly untenable situation then I’m all for it. If it is simply a semantic convolution aimed at further vilifying the President, then we’ll be no further down the road than we are now.

A group of pointy-headed intellectuals from some university political science department have decided to create objective terms of definition for a civil war. Some obvious aspects and some bordering on the ridiculous. Clearly a civil war is an internal affair of a nation-state. It is competition between competing, armed political movements for control of the future of the territory. It is not an external invasion. It reflects a desire of the population for change from the status quo. And, according to the pointy-heads, qualifies for the terminology when more than 100 persons have been killed in the process.

What amazes this observer is what an over-simplification of a complex situation that is. The death of a hundred people in political strife is both a deplorable occurrence and a commonly encountered event in today’s world. It is simultaneously too terrible and too insignificant to render unrest elevated to the level of civil war. And, in the greater scheme of things, does it really matter what we call it?

Despite what we read in the punditry’s pronouncements, the conflict in Iraq these days isn’t about us or our invasion to oust Sadaam. They aren’t killing us so much as we are getting killed while trying to interpose ourselves between the murderous factions trying to kill each other. We’re simply collateral damage as the Sunni and Shia’ try to outdo each other in religious fervor and demand for the death of all who would imply that their version of Islam isn’t the most righteously peaceful.

Sure, a civil war is an internal struggle for power over a country. If Clausewitz was right about war being politics by other means, then civil war is surely democracy by other means. But, it isn’t clear yet whether Iraq is a two-party civil war. We can’t liken it to the American experience with civil war. It isn’t yet possible to see what the alternative positions are in this conflict. What is the political agenda of the contenders? Are there more candidates for controlling power than just generic Sunni and Shia’? I’d bet there are. A lot more.

Will this evolve from a fractured warlord situation and congeal into a more traditional bipolar conflict? What previous model can we apply to make sense of the situation? Is this Mao versus Chaing as in post-WW II China? Or more like Somalia where rather than emerging consolidation we got total disintegration of order? Might we see a nationalist leader like Tito arise to bring order out of the chaos? Can we distinguish between a benevolent Fascist like Franco and a more malevolent Communist? For certain we aren’t looking at any figures like our own Lincoln, Grant or Lee.

Until we can make some sense of the menu of players we, meaning the man on the street, will be scratching our heads and deferring judgment to those with more accurate intel. Unless we can ascertain what the competitors will do over the long term with regard to building a viable nation we really can’t commit to any faction. If the model is one of an emerging leader, then we can have a positive role to play in stabilizing the region. If we can determine a preferable outcome for the Iraqi people we have a goal to aim for. If we can contribute to security while these questions are answered it can be worth the cost of the candle. But if we can’t answer the questions then it becomes a situation in which we merely endanger ourselves while trying to stand between the warring parties.

If a determination isn’t made soon, the long term impact on the American polity is going to be unfortunately similar to that of the Vietnam War. I’ve long resisted the tendency to make comparisons because this situation is very different. But in one area it will be similar. If we can’t succeed in stabilizing the situation and withdraw from the area to allow it to descend into total anarchy the stench of our defeat and the conclusion that America cannot be a positive force in the world will dog us for another forty years.

Thursday, November 09, 2006


Election Day was gloomy for a conservative. Clearly my prediction that things weren’t really as bad as the Left-Wing Media was shouting was wrong. Things were worse. Lots worse. It really isn’t easy to get a five or six seat Senate swing when only 33 seats are in contention. It isn’t easy to shift forty or more House seats. It flies in the face of election statistical history where 95% of incumbents get re-elected. You’ve really got to blow it to take this big a hit.

Why? What went wrong? There will be a lot of analysis from both sides of the aisle and throughout the blogosphere over the next few weeks. Was it the war? Couldn’t have been the economy. Was it illegal immigration? What about Social Security? Maybe corruption and scandal?

Here’s what the Wall Street Journal thinks: Referendum on Failure

Here’s what I think.

The maxim about power corrupting holds true. Conservatives said they were different than liberals. They espouse the idea of individual responsibility over governmental nannyism. We can be self-sufficient. We can raise our families, get our own education, work hard to succeed, save some money, plan for retirement and live by standards of morality and ethics. We don’t need a government hand-out and we abhor the idea of redistribution of wealth, especially if it is our wealth being redistributed and it is being handed out to those who apparently have done little more than breathe in order to qualify for it.

We’re the side of low taxes. We’re the side of moral behavior. We’re the side that supports democracy and freedom over cronyism and despotism. We’re the side of bravery and patriotism, of pride and honor, of trust and truth. We’re the side that stands up for what is right, even if it isn’t popular. We’re the side who will do the right thing and take the consequences, firm in the faith that doing right is its own reward.

But, we became the side that said one thing and did another. The opposition incessantly pointed out that the Republicans in power were corrupt. Their strategy was not to provide alternatives of public policy, but simply to highlight failures of the incumbents. They couldn’t really propose a palatable solution to Iraq that would leave the region stabilized and Americans less threatened by terrorism, so they didn’t try. They couldn’t really argue that the President had failed in managing an incredible recovery for the economy after the tragedy of 9/11. The stock markets, interest rates, unemployment numbers, inflation levels and productivity figures were pretty conclusive, so they were simply ignored. They didn’t want action on illegal immigration, so they obfuscated knowing that the Republican majority could be depended upon to pander.

What they could do was consistently, continuously, conclusively point out that the Emperor was naked. They had dealt with corruption and venality in their own party during the Clinton years and long before. They simply had to point out that the folks who said they were better weren’t really that good. They highlighted hypocrisy. And it was there!

When President Bush took office, he made a clear effort to demonstrate that he was going to mark a change in terms of ethics. He wanted to restore the faith of the American people in their president. He would be honest and forthright. He would tell the truth, even when it was tough. No more finger-wagging and denials of the obvious. No more convoluted definitions of what the “meaning of ‘is’ is.” We expected better and we would get it.

I don’t think he let me down. I think he was let down by his party. He expected more from them than they were going to deliver. With a majority in both houses of the Congress, he should have gotten support for his initiatives. He should have had cooperation in getting an agenda moving. He did his part in biting his tongue and signing bills that he could easily have justified vetoing. He certainly wasn’t the obstruction to progress in the past six years. It was his own party in the legislature.

But, it wasn’t the legislative gridlock that torpedoed the party for this election. It was the moral collapse.

It was Abramhoff. When a lobbyist looks corrupt, he probably is. When he is blatant about payoffs and kickbacks, he isn’t working for that “shining city on the hill” but rather for that glaring casino on the reservation. When it slithers like a snake, don’t be surprised when it bites you in the breast. As the parable goes, “you knew I was a snake when you picked me up.”

It was Cunningham. Damn it, Duke, you were better than that. You knew what was right and what was wrong. You disgraced your legacy and your profession and all those who trusted you and expected honesty in return.

It was DeLay. Politics ain’t tiddlywinks. But it also shouldn’t be dirty and shouldn’t be confused with personal self-interest. It shouldn’t be a game of “gotcha” and despite the temptations to exercise your power to perpetuate your incumbency, you needed to respect democracy. You played at the edge of the rules and got wrapped up in accusations and innuendo that even if you weren’t guilty resulted in your downfall and contributed to the loss of your party.

It was Ney and Burns who got caught up in the Abramhoff debacle. Congress isn’t about getting rich or even about good seats at the football game. It’s about service to your country.

It was George Allen who clearly proved himself much less than Presidential material when he stooped to arguably racial epithets in a vain attempt to be cute and funny. Leave that stuff to the Kerrys and we’d all be better served. Finishing your campaign with a litany of selected steamy quotes from novels written by your opponent was beneath you. Couldn’t you have made the case for your re-election with competence and qualifications and an agenda of what you wanted to get done?

It was Foley, but more than that it was all of the members of the House who knew about Foley and looked the other way. The hard part of the honor code of the military academies isn’t the front end about “lying, cheating and stealing” but the back end about “tolerating among us, those who do.” Had the House leadership had the moral backbone to deal with the problem we would have had a lot fewer Republicans holding their nose in disgust rather than voting.

It was Ted Haggard, who wasn’t even in politics. Reverend Ted standing up on Sunday to oppose gay marriage then snorting some meth and calling his gay boyfriend during the week for a tryst was symbolic of a failure of conservatism. It matters not that he wasn’t relevant to the party or national politics. The stench wafted over the conservative movement. Mix one part Haggard, one part Foley and three parts corrupt congress-critters and you get a recipe for an electoral debacle.

What will it take to recover? It’s clear to me. Walking the walk after talking the talk. Values and ethics and morality require action beyond simple lip service. Behaving like the people we profess to be is what it will take to regain the confidence of the voters. Bringing home the bacon when we know it took a lot of wallowing in the sty doesn’t make a very good meal in my house.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Kerry at College

“The nation that will insist on drawing a broad line of demarcation between the fighting man and the thinking man is liable to find its fighting done by fools and its thinking done by cowards.”
Sir William Butler

John Kerry seems to think otherwise. If he had made the statement in isolation, it could be considered a singular gaffe in an otherwise mediocre political career.

Study Hard Video

Certainly the statement can be interpreted in more than one way. Superficially he seems to be indicating that smart people don’t fight for their country. Smart people find ways to avoid wars and patriotism and honor and inconvenience. Get educated, work hard, marry well and you can be comfortable while the less gifted intellectually go and do your heavy lifting for you. That’s the way some could take his statement. If taken that way, he has insulted the American fighting men and women once again.

Or maybe he’s just the world’s worst stand-up comic. Things that he thinks are going to be charming and funny aren’t really. If that were the case it would be easy for him to simply say, “gosh folks, I misjudged the impact of my remarks and I really didn’t mean to offend you all because you know I’m a great supporter of our fighting men and women.” That wouldn’t be all that hard. John McCain, whose courage and commitment to the military can’t be questioned, suggested that an apology might be in order. He spoke softly and slowly so as to insure that it didn’t become some sort of heated campaign rhetoric. But Senator Kerry has been adamant in refusing to apologize.

Maybe there’s more to it. We might recall his Senate testimony so many years ago when he accused as all, each and every military man serving his country in an unpopular war, of being war criminals—murderers, thugs, rapists, sadists, criminals. I certainly recall it. Every Vietnam veteran should remember it.

Or possibly we could replay his more recent comments in which he again characterized American soldiers, in harm’s way, of being murderers, terrorists and rapists. If he said it once, albeit in a very public forum, it might be excused as the emotional outburst of someone deeply troubled about the morality of war. But he said it again, thirty years later, now as a US Senator in describing our troops in Iraq. It could only be because he feels very deeply about the assertion. It could only be because he believes it and wants everyone else to believe it as well. If so, he is seriously deluded and his efforts could be considered distinctly treasonous.

Certainly he has recently seemed eager to don the mantle of combat veteran and war hero. He jumps at any opportunity to point out lack of service in those who speak out against his positions.

How Many Strikes Does He Get?

Or, he could be slamming the administration and once again alluding to some level of intellectual superiority over the President. It’s a horse that the Democrats seem all too eager to ride. Recall the alleged intellectual superiority of Al Gore, divinity school drop-out. And Kerry’s own regular flaunting of his education. But now his home town newspaper provides this insight into the Senator’s comparative performance. It appears that two students in the same Ivy League university had similar academic achievements. In fact, it appears to this observer that the President even edged out the Senator in terms of scores across the board.

Learning From Experience?

What does it mean? To me it means that John Kerry still holds the military in exceptionally low esteem. He still views himself as somewhat superior to the masses. He still wants us to think he’s a hero, but he simultaneously wants to paint all of the other folks who serve unstintingly in the far and dangerous reaches of this world as some sort of Neanderthal criminals.

I’ve known for a long time what kind of man John Kerry is. I know many of the folks who risked a lot to be public figures in support of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. I know that American troops are well trained, honorable, courageous and most emphatically not lacking in intellectual capacity. I know that increasingly I detest John Kerry for having the audacity to do and say the things that he does. And, I fear for the Republic if his like should be in control of the reins of our government.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Snatching Defeat From the Jaws

Less than three weeks from election day and both parties are trying to outdo each other in terms of promoting a massive realignment of the legislature. We all are assured regularly that the mass media are not biased to one side or the other of the political spectrum. We accept that as truth as surely as we have confidence that the beachfront property we’ve been offered in Florida will be a great home site and the bridge we are being sold over the Hudson in NYC is actually for sale. The press has told us that the voters are “mad as hell and aren’t going to take it any longer.” They’ve got the proof in the polls and the Dems are eager to agree with that view. What’s really surprising is the parallel eagerness of the Republicans to forecast defeat as well.

What ever happened to optimism, confidence and that “bright city on the hill”? It looks as though Karl Rove, the Wizard behind the curtain, is the only one who seems willing to predict victory.

Voters Dissatisfied

Time Looks Left

Rove Upbeat

The question you’ve got to ask yourself is, “do you feel lucky, punk? Well, do ya?”

I’ve been a pessimist about democracy as a means of governing for a long time. There’s too much evidence of blatant apathy and ignorance among the masses. They don’t know and they don’t care about issues. They do respond with some drooling and lip-smacking to Pavlovian stimulation with some scandals. And, if you aggressively keep repeating catchy sound-bites they will be able to repeat them on signal.

Let’s take a look at what an intelligent voter might consider in making election choices this cycle. It is about the issues, isn’t it? Remember the George Carville mantra from the 1992 election that gave us Bill Clinton? “It’s the economy, stupid!”

Well, how’s the economy doing? Man on the street has been conditioned to reply something about rich getting richer, poor getting poorer, tax cuts for the wealthiest one percent and jobs being outsourced. What do we see in hard facts? Well, the Dow-Jones has skyrocketed into new territory over 12,000. That, despite the incredible impact on the economy immediately after the 9/11 attacks. So, the market is good.

Interest rates have been steady for consumers. Sure the fed rate has been adjusted upward regularly to keep a throttle on inflation, but anyone would have to confess that quarter of a point interest was not a realistic long-term strategy. For Joe Bagadonutz in the street, the mortgage rate is fairly constant around 6%; bank interest has been creeping steadily upward—I saw some CD rates recently for reasonably short terms in the mid-fives; and cars are still being sold for no-interest loans. Monetarists will have to feel comfortable. Oh, and increases in cost-of-living indices are remarkably low. In other words, the economy is booming. Housing starts are up. Unemployment is down. Consumer confidence is up. Productivity is up. And, how about the price of gasoline?

So, is there a problem reflected in what the current administration is doing economy-wise? Doesn’t seem so, but then do the voters know all of this?

What about security? Do you feel less secure now than before 9/11? Of course you do! Who wouldn’t feel less secure after that day that made us all painfully aware of our vulnerability? We woke up and now we know that there are people who wish to kill us for simply being Americans. What would a change in administration do on that front?

We know what the current administration has been doing. They’ve been killing terrorists and attempting to build democracy in the volatile Middle East. They are the ones who recognized and warned us about an “Axis of Evil”. Well, duh! How has that evolved? Apparently the administration had pretty good info that the nuts in Iran, N. Korea and Iraq were pretty well committed to doing us harm. Has this been demonstrated satisfactorily for the man in the street? One would think so, but somehow the message gets convoluted and the conclusion seems to be that we should make nice with Kim and Osama and Ahmadenijad. Don’t you have to be a bit off-center to honestly believe that resisting these people is the right course of action? Would withdrawal from Iraq leave the world a better place? How long would it take before Tel Aviv became a green glass glowing parking lot?

So, we know that the current administration sees evil and seeks to take firm action to minimize the danger to America. We know that the opposition seeks to withdraw from Iraq, negotiate with Kim and pacify Ahmadenijad with nuclear power plants. That, they assure us will make the rest of the world love us again. Bad assumption—they didn’t love us in the first place.

Are taxes your problem? The folks seeking to replace the Republicans keep telling you about tax cuts for the wealthy. The problem is that in America, it is the wealthy that pay taxes. If you don’t pay tax, you can’t get much of a cut. They want you to believe that we’ve got to restore those taxes that were cut a few years ago so that we can raise revenue. The problem here again is that facts don’t support that premise. The tax cuts have fueled the economy and given us higher revenues, more jobs, and a better business climate.

Maybe it’s the scandals. Yes, that’s got to be it. The corruption is cause for change. Yet, we don’t see a monopoly on corruption. While Mark Foley is the disgusting poster boy du jour for deviance, we’ve got the mourning for Gerry Studds who is lionized for his flamboyant lifestyle. Cunningham is in prison (deservedly so) and DeLay is out of office while Congressman William Jefferson is still serving after his freezer full of marked money was discovered by a federal search warrant and Sen. Harry Reid is handing out campaign contributions as tips to his residence staff at the Ritz-Carlton. Seems like corruption should be abhorred, but it isn’t exclusive to either party and really shouldn’t be extended to paint other candidates.

What about the timely (coincidence?) release of the smoking gun books of Bob Woodward and Frank Rich? If one needed to refute the arguments that there is no left-wing bias in the major print media, it would be hard to avoid throwing these tomes on the table. They cater to the lowest forms of political debate tending more toward vitriol and villianization than rationale, well-reasoned argument. More importantly, they seldom get read by voters who merely absorb the occasional sound-bite or reviewer nugget as a synthesis of the entire work.

It is devilishly difficult to predict what is going to happen on election night. I’d like to think that the knee-jerk liberals who don’t delve very deeply into the issues will not follow through on their rhetorical assurances of voting. I’d like to believe that those who do vote will ask themselves what is important in their life for government to accomplish. I’d like folks to consider what they’ve heard regarding positive policy alternatives from each of the parties rather than the name-calling and mud-slinging. If that were to happen, the outcome of the election would be satisfactory to me.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Ooops, I Did It Again

Oh, Kim, did you really want congratulations? Wouldn’t some sympathy be in order? You want so much to play with the big kids and be respected and have them look up to you outside of your own neighborhood and all be happy to call you “Great Leader.” But, your toys don’t seem to be all that impressive. Should we look harder behind the curtain to see if the great wizard can reach all of the controls?

NYT Says Small Pop

When you tell the world you are about to misbehave, you can be sure they will be watching and ready to punish you when you do. When you want to put on a big show and thumb your nose at them you have to be sure you’ve got it all together. If the show relates to nuclear weapons, you could have read the books and learned that the technology is pretty darn good in terms of analyzing and determining if you really pulled it off. When no less a journal than the New York Times, which is probably as sympathetic a main-stream rag as you could find in the US, suggests that your boom was a bust there is a pretty strong probability that it was.

Big Bomb Bombs Big

The Times of NYC isn’t alone either. The Washington Times thinks you’ve muffed it as well. This failure, following the summer demonstration of your Taepodong-2 which didn’t make it much further downrange than a modern artillery shell, pretty much disrupts your bid for greatness. Worst of all, your chutzpah diplomacy has now resulted in unanimous condemnation from the UN. You got no sympathy at all and the fall-out (if you’ll excuse the nuclear pun) will probably mean more economic isolation and more hardship for your people.

Typically you might consider the UN to be a hollow organization with little power to really harm your efforts at rising to international infamy, but this is the week in which effete little Kofi Annan is being replaced by a new Secretary-General. By this time next week, Kofi will be packing up the office and Ban Ki-Moon will be taking the reins. You might recognize him as one of the leaders of your friends to the immediate south. He’s got little reason to be cooperative or feel any obligation toward lessening your chastisement for failing to play nice with the rest of the world. Yes, I think this little adventure is going to cost you dearly.

Let’s make no mistake here. N. Korea definitely has a nuclear program. It is definitely weapons oriented. This event was definitely a weapons test and it is serious business. If it failed to generate the expected yield that is good news, but it simply means that the technology which the NKs possess is very close to production. Next week, next month, at the latest, next year, Kim will have a workable, high-yield bomb. Next year he may also have a workable Taepodong-2 missile to carry it. It if all works as advertised, that will be scary for the world. If it works, but is erratic, that can be scarier still. If Kim fails to learn from this experience with world condemnation because the UN is reluctant to impose strong punitive sanctions then that will be the scariest part of all.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Absolutely Disgusting

I’ve made a practice of arguing against the concept of moral absolutes. I’ve heard the clichés of the uber-conservatives about the essential truth of absolutism and I can’t accept it. The space from the moral absolute defined by Jerry Falwell or James Dobson is just a step or two down the slippery slope to the absolutes of Muqtada al-Sadr and Osama Bin Laden. Fundamentalists thrive on absolutism. There is no room for nuance or compromise or consensus building or discretion when dealing with absolutes. The world is reduced to black or white without shades of gray. That satisfies the simple mind, but doesn’t work for me.

The argument usually revolves around common absolutes. Things like not killing other human beings. But, we clearly do so and we do it with the authority bestowed by the law and society. We kill in war and we kill for crimes committed against the body politic. We kill in varying degrees from negligent homicide to manslaughter to levels of murder. We kill justifiably and we kill pre-meditatedly. So, there is no absolute regarding killing.

We lie. Truth is immutable, we are told. But discretion comes into play in responding to the common query, “does this dress make me look fat?” We don’t tell our children the truth in response to every question and we sometimes glorify the lie with editorial hyperbole as in “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.” So, there is no absolute in honesty.

But, this week I find myself facing an absolute truth in what I believe is ethical and moral standards of behavior. And, ex-Congressman Mark Foley has brought me to this absolutism. It isn’t simply his disgusting behavior with teen-aged Congressional pages that supposedly were entrusted to the oversight of our nation’s finest leaders for their development. It goes well beyond that to the entire spectrum of behavior that has been displayed in the entire scandal.

The actions of Foley are base and vile. Think the worst sort of sniveling, pandering, adolescent, just-discovering-sex, conversations. Then have them between a 52-year old Congressman and a teen-aged boy. Locker room, scatological, immature and you’ve got the picture. You don’t have to go to ABC news to read the nine pages of transcript of the IM sequence of just one of these dialogues. Save yourself a dose of disgust.

Then follow up with the admission and resignation. Fine. He did what he needed to do. But then get further disgusted by the newly au courant method of dodging responsibility. He acknowledges that he is an alcoholic and checking into rehab. Forgive me for noting that drinking doesn’t make you a pedophile anymore than it make you an anti-Semite, Mr. Gibson notwithstanding. Drinking makes you stupid at times, but not deviant. So, no free pass for your problem there Mr. Foley.

Now check the lawyer for Foley with his pathetic ploy to gain sympathy. He announces that Foley is gay. So what? Gay does not equate with pedophile despite many folks’ ill-founded misconception that it does. Gay is not socially accepted behavior, but it is not preying upon adolescents for whom you have responsibility for guidance and mentoring. And gay does not justify the hypocrisy of being chairman of a committee that is dedicated to legislating for protection of children while simultaneously soliciting them. Is this supposed to be an example of “catch-a-thief” logic to get quality laws against predation of children by adults?

Oh, and by the way, the attorney goes on. Mr. Foley was abused by a “clergyman” when he was a teenager. Can’t the lawyer say priest? Regardless, while childhood abuse might be traumatic, it doesn’t turn someone gay. It doesn’t make them an alcoholic. And it doesn’t make them a pedophile. On the contrary, it should make them more sensitive to the vulnerability of the young.

Go further than beating up the deserving Mr. Foley. What about the spinning and posturing we now get from the partisans of the political scene. Some accuse ABC of being in collusion with the Democrats and releasing this on election eve for political impact. So what? Disgusting behavior is timeless. That’s an absolute. Whenever found, it should be released to the public when it concerns a public figure such as a congressman.

Some wonder who knew what and when. It is apparent that many knew lots and for a long time. That is unconscionable behavior by those in authority. They should have acted aggressively to correct the situation. They failed. They have demonstrated a lack of the moral fiber expected of our leaders. That is an absolute. Hastert was told. He knew. He should be gone.

There are contrasts to Gerry Studds and Barney Frank and even to Bill Clinton. The fact that others from the other side of the aisle have transgressed is not justification for the failures on this side of the political aisle. What others have done is their business and how it was dealt with may be their failing. What is done by conservatives and moral absolutists is our business. We should demand more of our leaders. We should expect behavior consistent with public pronouncements. We should require that those who violate our trust should be punished severely. We have earned the right to impose this upon those who would represent us and present themselves as morally superior. If they fail, they should expect severe consequences.

Three weeks ago, I felt strongly that the predictions of a Republican catastrophe in this coming election were exaggerated and media driven. The facts were too strong to be overcome by the sound bites and spin cycle of the left. Now, we’ve seen one more slip in the foul slime that appears to cover the floor of Congress and it might mean the loss of a lot of Congressional seats. They could have prevented this by simply acting the way they said they knew they should.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Déjà vu All Over Again

We’re getting closer to the November election, and despite McCain-Feingold’s prohibition on letting us know anything about who is running, what the issues are or whether anyone of the candidates has a position on anything, there is a trickle of info coming out.

Here’s the Chairman of the Democratic National Committee visiting an Austin TX beer garden:

Looking Familiar

I’d just spent the morning reading the Dallas Morning News from cover to cover. There was little about politics except for an editorial page endorsement of a couple of County Commissioner candidates. It would be hard to even know that all of the Texas House of Representatives seats were up for election as well as one of the Senators. There was a brief news piece about Governor Rick Perry, but that was news of the job, not of his re-election campaign. That’s why I was surprised to see Howard Dean’s pronouncement regarding his party’s success-to-be in Texas.

I had to click on the video. There he was microphone in hand, jacket off, sleeves rolled up, pointing to the crowd for emphasis. (Is it just coincidence that Dems this week seem to be doing a lot of finger-jabbing?) I listened as he talked about taking Texas back before going on the march to take back all of those other states. Then, it dawned on me. This simply had to be a dubbing of file footage from his failed presidential bid. It ended before the part where he starts the manic whooping and screaming to energize his fanatical followers. It was the same speech. If we’ve noted the occasional argument that the party of the left is doomed to failure for lack of new and dynamic ideas, this was certainly strong evidence of that fact. Almost word-for-word, he was mouthing the same false bravado that had failed him so miserably in the run up to the 2004 presidential election.

And, the location offers some insight as well. Austin, that capital city of one of the most conservative states in the Union, whose unofficial motto is “Keep Austin Weird”! In a beer garden, no less. Isn’t that where Adolph of WW II fame got his political start?

Prediction? It ain't gonna happen, Howard.

Monday, September 18, 2006

To Have a Friend

When I was growing up in Chicago one of the guys in our group came from a family that owned a bar and restaurant out on Mannheim Road, not far from the growing O’Hare Airport complex. In those days you could still find some farm land around the airport and some spaces between the buildings in that area. There was an old sign behind the bar and it obviously had been in the family a long time and meant a lot to them. It was a simple maxim: “To Have a Friend, Be One”. They pretty much lived by that. They were friends to many and they had scores of friends in return.

I was driven to think about that guide for living as I continue to shake my head in astonishment at the high dudgeon of the Islamic world over the remarks of a fourteenth century Byzantine emperor used by Pope Benedict XVI in a speech last week.

The essence of the historic comment was that the Prophet had directed that Islam be spread by the sword and that this was an unusual way for a religion supposedly of peace to be propagated. The discussion revolved around the incompatibility between jihad, holy war, violence and the nature of God.

Key to this issue is that the words were said by someone more than 500 years ago. The statement wasn’t one of prejudice or disrespect by the pontiff, but was an example of discussion long ago.

So, the Muslims of the world find that this description of their religion and their prophet as being violent and unpeaceful is so offensive that they now are pronouncing capital punishment sentences against the Pope. They are so insulted by characterizations that they aren’t a peaceful religion that they are Shooting Nuns, Burning Churches, and Demanding Death of the Pope

Excuse me, but isn’t that what the benighted Byzantine emperor was griping about?

It was a few months ago that in a somewhat misguided effort to illuminate the intolerance of the Islamic world, a Danish newspaper sought to publish editorial drawings (I avoid the terminology “cartoon” to avoid being recipient of a Fatwa myself) of the Prophet. The result was that around the world cars were overturned, churches were burned and an innocent priest in Turkey—a long way from Denmark—was killed. Thousands rioted to demonstrate their peacefulness.

It may be the flowery rhetoric of the Middle East that I simply don’t understand. I do understand that if you want to get along, you need to make an effort to get along. If you want to have a friend, be one. If someone doesn’t understand the alleged peacefulness of your beliefs, avoid killing them to correct their misunderstanding. Standing in demonstrations and shouting “Death to…” whomever is not going to make your case.

But, it seems overly optimistic to think that the Muslim world is going to change any time soon. What might be possible, however, is for the rest of us to acknowledge the hypocrisy. Stop apologizing. Stop pussy-footing around this jihad. Stop treating these murderous, fourteenth century thugs who seek to dismantle civilization as someone who should be isolated and protected from offense. I don’t like being threatened. I consider that insulting. I demand some apologies from the mullahs and the imams and the ayatollahs. If they want a friend, I’m ready. But to have a friend they need to consider how to be one.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Yeah, But…

It must be in bold print at the top of the daily talking points memo coming out of the Democratic National Committee each morning. This is an election year, and we (the DNC) need to emphasize to the American people how dangerous the world has become because the administration insists on not letting terrorists operate freely. You’ve heard the basics again and again. We’ve supposedly botched the war on terror and in the process made the nation much less safe. Just like the Wizard of Oz cautioned Dorothy and crew, “pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.” We’re supposed to forget about 9/11 and ignore the fact that plot after plot has been discovered and dismantled prior to coming to fruition. Yes, the message is that we are simply making the terrorists mad by hunting them down. Why, they most assuredly would be satisfied if we simply thanked them for pointing out to us the error of our ways on 9/11. By hunting them down, rooting them out of their caves and raining JDAMs down on their turbaned heads, we simply anger them and convince more young radicalized jihadists that strapping fifteen pounds of C-4 to their body and killing a dozen innocents is the best that life can be.

The message is that we have failed because we haven’t caught Osama Bin Laden. How can we be so inept? We haven’t caught the leader; ergo the war on terror is a failure. How then does one account for this:

#2 Captured

Or maybe this:

Convert Now or We'll Kill Ourselves

Or one of my favorites:

Another One Bites the Dust

Or this very old tidbit:

Three Year Old News

Or maybe this dodged bullet:

British Success

I’m willing to bet that the incessant drum beat of failure because we haven’t got Osama is going to be a huge mistake as voting Americans who can read, write, see, listen and think will make a distinction between the importance of capturing one, now largely emasculated, terrorist leader and the reality of thwarting terrorist plots and inexorably rolling up the network of communications, finance, logistics and operations that allow them to function.

It makes sense to examine the slow progress of netting the preachers of jihad and the leaders of a movement to embrace the Dark Ages. If we pay attention to what is really going on, we might notice that so far we’ve cleared a lot of names and faces off of that deck of playing cards that was distributed after we rolled down the highway to Baghdad. If we count coup on those who would do harm randomly for a mis-guided religious cause, we might conclude that Hezbollah took a big hit in their little kidnapping adventure against Israel. We might notice that precision-guided munitions are unannounced guests at meetings of the local al Qaeda cell. We might even acknowledge that whether or not Bin Laden is captured doesn’t have much to do with the greater vision of freeing the world from terror.

If OBL is living in a cave, increasingly isolated as his henchmen are eliminated, unable to move freely and without access to his financial resources, we really don’t need him in a cell at Gitmo where he can be the center of a media circus and the star client for an army of ACLU attorneys claiming his rights have been abridged.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Can’t We All Just Get Along?

It was time to get real yesterday. The breaking news was the foiled terrorist plot to carry an assortment of mix-n-match household goods aboard a number of trans-Atlantic flights then stir up a massive amount of mayhem. The plot got derailed through some aggressive work by the Brits and some cooperation from undisclosed international sources. The outcome is that a flock of bad guys are taken off the streets, a couple of thousand lives have been saved and another nail has been driven into the confidence mind-set of modern travelers. Security delays at airports are going to be longer and the scary part is that we really aren’t going to be sure that all of the inconvenience is doing anything concrete to lessen the threat. Just as I always knew that nail clippers wouldn’t kill me, so also I have a deep-seated confidence that my wife’s lip gloss isn’t toxic.

What really should impress, however, is the overwhelming evidence that we aren’t secure in this world. The whining and whimpering of the Cindy Sheehan’s and Harry Reid’s and John Kerry’s that we aren’t improving our security by attempting to build democracy in the Middle East should be re-examined. The wailing and gnashing from the United Nations collection of one-worlders regarding the “proportionality” of response by the Israeli military after first giving up significant territory in an attempt to assuage Palestinian sensibilities only to be incessantly rocketed and targeted by suicide bombers should be taken for what it is—foolishness. The very concept of proportionality in terms of defense of your right to exist is ludicrous. Playing tit-for-tat in combat is a recipe for failure. First kill those who offend and when the survivors plead for mercy, then be benevolent. Don’t respond to one Katushya launch with two artillery shells. It won’t get results. Go back and review the basics of deterrence—the essential element is if you hurt me I will respond by destroying you…totally.

This Wall Street Journal editorial piece is worth reading slowly:

Reality Check

The thwarting of the British-based plot is a perfect counter to the escalating rhetoric of the US election season. The candidates who are seeking immediate disclosure of withdrawal from Iraq on a date certain need to consider the result of such a retrenchment. The candidates who preach restraint in response to Hezbollah need to be questioned about the outcome of such appeasement. The candidates who want media circus trials for the Gitmo detainees should read the pronouncements of the Syrian and Iranian presidents. The candidates who think that being strong against the threat will only breed more terrorists should examine the math associated with removing this scum from the global gene pool.

It may be that tomorrow morning the main stream media will be accusing Karl Rove of masterminding this liquid bomb plot to prop up the administration’s foreign policy and war on terror. That may be hard to believe, but with the apparent willingness of the unwashed masses to swallow some other conspiracy theories it isn’t beyond the realm of possibilities.

Oh and by the way, Mike Wallace, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is not your friend. Nor, is he the friend of any Jew. You are just one of his tools. It’s time to retire, Mike.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Is There Hope?

Suddenly I’m revitalized about the fall elections. Just when the world looked darkest, I’ve got new optimism about the ability of the apathetic, uninterested, apparently ignorant electorate to make decisions and learn about the process. This might be an indication that we can move the final date marking The Decline and Fall of the American Empire out another ten years or so. One can only hope.

The pundits are falling all over themselves trying to “explain” (that’s a euphemism for spin to their own purposes) the loss of Joe Lieberman in Connecticut’s Democratic Senate primary. You’d have to be living in dark cave to have missed the issue here. We’ve got the “I’m Not Them” party desperately trying to distance themselves from the votes which they cast to authorize our involvement in Iraq actively repudiating an incumbent senator and committee chairman who was their Vice-Presidential nominee six short years ago. He was reliable and acceptable enough then to be just a heart-beat away from the Presidency, but now he has been declared pariah.

This is going to be a great lesson for those who haven’t figured it out regarding the process of elections in the US. It isn’t just what happens in November. There are those primaries and caucuses and assemblies that lead up to getting a name on a ballot with an identifying (R) or (D) behind it. The problem that escapes most voters who proudly declare their independence from party politics is that mainstream voters don’t really have much say about what finally shows up on the November menu. It’s the party extremists that do the anointing in the primaries. And, that’s the cabal with which Lieberman has run afoul.

Once, it was right and proper and dutiful representation of his constituents to vote for use of military force to depose a totalitarian despot and counter a terrorist threat. Then, Joe voted his conscience—as did Hillary and Biden and Kerry (before he voted against it…) but, now the party of the left wants to rewrite that history. In the process, they are willing to throw a very influential Senator out with the trash and put a somewhat inexperienced millionaire in the seat because his strongest (and maybe only) coherent policy position is that he is against the war.

This behavior highlights the superficiality of “Senatorial collegiality” which is supposed to overcome mere policy disagreements for the greater good of the nation. It shows how very willing the incumbents are to stand on the shoulders of those who might be drowning to get a seat in the lifeboat for themselves. When Lieberman started to look shaky in his primary bid, there was almost a race among his Senatorial associates to abandon him for his out-of-step position—that’s the one of being consistent in his belief that the nation was and is threatened.

So, now we see Joe defeated in his party primary by Ned Lamont. Let’s ignore the anti-Semitic issues that were raised. And, don’t look at the dirty tricks like highjacking of the Lieberman Web site on election eve. Let’s just look at the outcome of the election and see if we can determine what to watch for in the coming weeks.

First, Lamont doesn’t have any experience to speak of in government. He’s not a heavy hitter on major policy discussions. His major credential is the anti-war appeal to the extreme left of his party. Wait for a candidate’s debate for Lieberman to take young Ned to the woodshed.

Second, let’s acknowledge that there is no conceivable possibility of the Republican nominee being elected in Connecticut. Dunno why, as the state is much more white-collar and educated than the mainstream demographic of the liberal party, but that is the way it is. Republican candidate need not apply. That leaves a lot of Republicans and conservative independents with no home in this storm.

Third, Lieberman is a household name. He’s got lots of recognition and a load of experience as well as Senatorial seniority which should play well in the general election. He’s got the signatures to get on the November ballot as an independent candidate. He’s got an experienced organization. And, there’s no doubt that he’s got fund-raising connections.

So, let’s predict the election. Like most states, the electorate is divided in approximate thirds: Reps, Dems and Unaffiliated (AKA independents.) Lieberman still has a lot of appeal among the Democrats. He drew a lot of votes in the primary loss. The Republicans, if they are smart enough to recognize the fact that their candidate won’t stand a chance, might go with the devil they know—who is very moderate—for the devil they don’t—who is unflinchingly liberal. Then, the mainstream and generally moderate unaffiliated voters will swing between the incumbent and the challenger. I’m betting that there are more of those independent voters who will choose experience and name recognition over extremism and arguably misguided pacifism. So, I’m willing to bet that the Republican Party will give a perfunctory nod to their nominee and then shift a lot of resources to support of Lieberman. The Democrat hard-core that voted for Lieberman in the primary will stick with him, and the larger portion of the unaffiliated voters will vote for Lieberman. Look for Joe to prevail in the fall.

And, in Atlanta, in yet another bright spot on the election horizon, we see Democrat voters repudiating Cynthia McKinney, proving that at some point even they can recognize sheer lunacy. Just in case anyone thought she might have been poorly portrayed in some of the coverage of her Washington antics, her “concession” speech proved she is undeniably affiliated with the tinfoil cap crowd.

Ya gotta love it!!

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Sez Who?

It isn’t rocket science. We all know it…or at least we SHOULD know it. There is bias in the media. Reread that sentence. It isn’t an example of the rampant paranoia of the partisan right and left. It doesn’t say that there is some sort of leftist cabal that distorts the world to the detriment of the right wing reactionaries who would remake it in the image of their own biblical interpretations. It doesn’t say there is a vast right wing conspiracy devoted to making it hard for Bill Clinton’s wife to be unaware of his philandering in the hallway off the Oval Office. It simply says there is bias, not that the media is biased. The bias might simply be shading and coloring of the message based on the perspective of the observer. Or not.

Regardless, it is important to keep in mind the source of one’s information. If you know, or can intuit, the perspective of the reporter or the publication you can glean the fact from the fiction and maybe have a better knowledge of what goes on in the world. At least that would be the goal.

What’s the home page on your browser? C’mon now, if you’re reading blogs you can’t tell me you still have the default page that your ISP gave you when you subscribed. When you launch each morning, what page displays to greet your day? Please tell me it isn’t or or the ad-filled and inane home of fly-by-night-internet-R-us. And, no not AOL either. Is it? Whatever.

I’ve defaulted to a news source. It keeps me up to date on what is happening in the world and doesn’t overload me with a lot of useless People Magazine sort of trash. I really don’t care whether Brangelina is birthing another celebrity in Namibia or Madonna is or isn’t being really crucified in Rome. I want to know what’s shaking around the globe. Then, I can get on to email, Usenet and business for the day. Lately my home page has been But, I’m about to change.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love Google. I, like most of the civilized world, have become dependent upon the incredible capability of Google to quickly get me the answer to almost any question I can think of asking. I google regularly and incessantly. It’s great. I like Gmail as well. I don’t use it often, but when I’m on the road and frustrated by the ability to receive my email through the ubiquitous hotel Internet connection but unable to respond because their server doesn’t recognize me, Gmail fills the void. I’m fascinated by Google’s Froogle shopping service, but I usually know what I want and where to find it without much help. And, although Google Earth was neat at first glance, the slow update to the data and the lack of detail resolution makes it still pretty much of a novelty to me. My dissatisfaction is with Google’s news.

The page looks a lot like my previous home page, It’s got sections for national, international, business, tech, sports, etc. Big stories are prominent with links to original sources as well as a “freshness” indicator of how long ago the story appeared. There are usually a number of alternate sources to check how different media covered the event. Seems reasonable, but recently I’ve begun to note a bit of a problem, a bias, if you will.

I see items of interest and click to find out more. Then I began to notice that interpretations of US national politics are coming to me from New-Bloody-Zealand or Indonesia. I see explanations of minimum wage debates and immigration proposals in Congress interpreted by some small town Canadian daily. I’m directed to get impressions of international events from, heaven forbid, some unknown blogger’s page.

While the views are interesting and even insightful, I’ve got to believe that putting a down-under spin on what’s going on in an Atlanta, Georgia congressional race isn’t going to be much help in determining facts. It might be nice to know what the folks in Hamilton, Ontario Canada think about our minimum wage but frankly, Scarlett…you know the rest. And, if it comes to defense policy for the US, I’m not sure that the French are the place to get data to form my opinions. Most of all, while I think blogs have a spot on the media spectrum; I’ve got to carefully examine the source and the credentials before I buy in to the opinions.

How can you tell which end of the spectrum a voice is coming from? Your criteria might be different than mine, but recently the best indicator to me has been a sort of disjointed comment somewhere around paragraph four in the article which, with total irrelevance to the subject at hand, brings up Abu Ghraib, Gitmo or lack of WMD in Iraq. Find a gratuitous comment about failed policy of this administration, and you’ll know to slow down your reading and start questioning the premise of the entire item in the news.

Long ago, the first lesson in Journalism 101 was the basics of how to write a “lead” for a story. The essential theory was that the first sentence should include all of the “W”s—the who, what, when and where. It might include the why, but that would likely be more appropriate later in the story or even on the editorial page. A good lead could be something like, “Joe Bagadonutz was beaten and robbed last night just before midnight in front of his house on Elm Street by a gang of four thugs who escaped in a red pickup truck.” The rest of the column, if the reader continued, would include embellishment of those basic facts. We might find out who Joe was, where he was coming from, what was stolen, who saw the red truck and maybe get a quote or two from players in the scenario.

We don’t seem to get that any more. It’s more likely that the story will read like some sort of Bulwer-Litton package of over-the-top fiction. “It was a dark and stormy night when Joe came home from the factory where he worked for minimum wage trying to make a life for his four children and their sick mother. He’d put in a long day and was tired. When he arrived at his front door in a lower-middle class neighborhood, he heard the TVs of his neighbors, still up watching the Letterman Show….continued on page B-14”

You won’t know that Joe got robbed until after “the jump.” What’s “above the fold” in your paper today? Probably something heart-wrenching about an unwed mother on welfare or a high school football player who might or might not sign with a big college for next year. You’ll have to look hard to find out what’s going on in Iraq or Lebanon and when you do, it’s liable to be filled with innuendo and partisan commentary rather than the facts.

What’s it all mean? To me, it means a bit more work to separate facts from fiction and a bit more reluctance to assume that I know what I think I know. For most of America, it means that they probably are sucking up the Kool-Aid and getting their perspectives shaped by those with ulterior motives. Maybe I’ll switch my home page to

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Modern Education

In Colorado we had CSAP—the Colorado Student Assessment Program. In Texas they call it TAKS—Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills. You probably have something similar where you live. It is a recognition that public schools seem to be failing to produce graduates who are capable of performing the tasks expected of literate adults, i.e. reading, writing and basic mathematics. So, we need to measure performance of our students, teachers and schools. The concept is pretty simple and one that I learned more than thirty years ago when I was involved in training pilots for the USAF.

Start by defining your objectives. Then establish a standard for measuring achievement of those objectives. It must be measurable and reasonable. Let’s say, for example, if dealing with addition for elementary school, that the student will be able to add columns of up to five numbers of four digit complexity with 95% accuracy. No room for quibbling about that. You either can or you can’t. Then develop teaching methodologies to enable students to reach that standard. Finally administer a test of the skill.

Taken to the essentials, that is what is being demanded in schools today. But, we have gripes about the process. There’s “too much pressure” on the little babies. Teachers “must teach the test.” And, what about meeting the little darlings’ needs for self esteem? Teachers don’t want to do the basic job of teaching to meet a standard of performance. Parents don’t want the responsibilities of over-seeing their children’s education. Students simply would rather goof off than study. There is no responsibility and no accountability.

Want an example of this? Read this heart-warming tale from a respected (sic) educator in Texas published in this morning’s Dallas Fishwrap:

But Do You Feel Good About Yourself?

Students were supposed to be learning Texas history. That would have some relationship to facts such as dates, names, places and at a slightly higher educational level, to causes and effects. Seems like a reasonable educational goal. Objective testing is possible. And, wow—get this, a teacher and a student could be held accountable.

But what does this “educator” do? Why she says, “just write down whatever you’ve learned.” Does it have to be fact? Well, she doesn’t mention that. Could it be fiction, fallacy, fairy-tale or the John Wayne interpretation of events at the Alamo? Well, probably yes!

Then she gives everyone an “A” along with some advice. If a male teacher were to write on a history assignment, "Suzie, I like how you are softening your makeup ... Have you ever tried ... ?" it wouldn’t be more than 24 hours before the sexual harassment charges would be filed and the male teacher suspended. And, what does Suzie’s makeup and David’s foul mouth have to do with Jim Bowie and Sam Houston and William Travis?

When the test came, the students were apparently poorly prepared, but never fear. The grades for everyone would be the “A” given for the feel-good session. It only makes one wonder how this “professional educator” was dealing with math and English classes and their somewhat less flexible standards of performance in the real world.

How about these finishing remarks for insight into modern education:

“This led to a discussion about how testing ruined a good class unless you were as smart as the kids who liked to study. The students talked about how testing could make someone feel stupid and about the fear of failure. They only quieted when I told them they had all made A's on the more personal test the week before.”

Sorry, Honey, but life is subject to failure. The concept that class was ruined unless you were “as smart as the kids who liked to study” is the core of your philosophy of failure. Did you ever consider teaching kids that success takes hard work? Or that you aren’t smart because you like to study, but you study because you would like to get smart? Or that class is more fun and not “ruined” if you prepare and do the work? Learning can and should be fun—but it takes an effort and isn’t free.

“I am appalled at President George Bush's plans for No Child Left Behind, the enormous emphasis on testing in our public schools and the pressure placed on teachers to prepare students for standardized testing. And the teachers must make sure they do not help a student, or there will be charges of cheating against the teacher.”

Pressure to prepare students is exactly what education is about! Helping the students is providing them meaningful lessons, exercising their skills, demanding their performance, and instilling classroom discipline. She certainly knows that “helping” students is one thing and it isn’t cheating. She also should have a darn good idea what cheating means. But, maybe not.

“Teach them life and how they might use that class in years to come. I also believe that all students should pass to the next grade. That is leaving no child behind.”

Can you possibly not feel the slightest gag reflex when reading that? Students should most assuredly not pass to the next grade if they cannot do the required work at the current grade. When these pass-through students eventually complete their time in schools and are not left behind by her standards they will enter the work force unable to compete and ill-prepared to face the challenges of life. So, they will breed, and gripe, and become the next generation of welfare-sucking dependents upon the body politic. But, at least they feel good about themselves…and don’t you just love Suzie’s new look?

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Voting Largess

It’s one of my favorite quotes and I always bring it to classes where economic policy will be discussed:

"A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can exist only until the voters discover they can vote themselves largess out of the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidate promising the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that democracy always collapses over a loose fiscal policy, always to be followed by a dictatorship."

There is debate about who first said it. Some attribute it to Adam Tyler while others spell his name as Tytler. Still others suggest it might have been de Tocqueville. It matters less who said it then what truth it brings to mind. Consider the elemental truth of America today. Fully 40% of Americans, euphemistically referred to as “the working poor,” pay no federal income taxes. None! Then at the other end of the scale, the “obscenely rich” who get all those tax breaks, where we find that the top 15% of earners pay more than 40% of total federal tax revenue.

Now, this leads inevitably to the sordid conclusion that if one wants to get elected to public office it would be wise, if not just, to appeal to the biggest demographic slice. That would be the ones who pay no taxes rather than the ones who pay a lot. The appeal for the socialist policy of redistribution of wealth is tremendous. The slight tempering of a policy of total pandering comes from the fact that campaigns cost money and in order to finance them, one must also appeal at least a little bit to the folks that can contribute.

But, it gets worse. We’re in an election year and hence the temptation looms large to get on with the voting of largess from the treasury. Give the masses more bread and circuses if you want to get elected. This week, however, the largess being distributed isn’t from the treasury, but according to the House of Representatives comes from private industry. It’s that perennial favorite of the economically unenlightened, the magic and mirrors of the minimum wage. In booming stentorian tones, the Democrats mount the podium and appeal to the emotions of “living wages”, “family of four”, “poverty level” and justice. It makes you want to stand and salute before you turn and barf.

Yet, when I ask college classes to explain to me what should be the basis for establishing a minimum wage, I always get the emotional response that has been inculcated in their mushy minds. They banter about costs of living and housing and children and justice. But they don’t relate cost of labor to value produced. They don’t make a connection between ability to add productivity to an organization and then be appropriately compensated for your labor. Adam Smith is conspicuously absent from the equation.

The suggestion that government should not be involved in setting costs of any commodity boggles the American twenty-first century mind. The idea that a willing buyer and a willing seller can set an agreeable price is amazing. Certainly there was the oppression of the dirty birth of the Industrial Revolution. But that is long ago and the justification for government interference is long gone. Does no one notice that simple burger flipping requires little skill or training and hence there is an army of potential flippers waiting for recruitment? Conversely does no one note that brain surgeons get a huge amount of compensation because there aren’t many of them and when you really need one, a plumber or carpenter won’t substitute very well?

Well, this fall the House of Mis-Representatives seeks to get re-elected as they do every two years. The largess available from the public treasury is not adequate to buy the necessary votes, so they turn to business owners’ pockets and vote to increase the minimum wage to more than $7 an hour. Will this solve poverty? Will this allow support of a family of four? Do most minimum wage earners belong to a family of four? Well, no they don’t. Most minimum wage earners are young people on their first job. Most are unskilled but, hopefully, learning to prepare themselves for greater responsibility. If they are wise, most will refrain from creating a family of four until they can earn more than a minimum wage.

There is a lot of evidence that artificial imposition of a minimum wage will do more economic harm than good. Unskilled labor intensive businesses may fail if faced with a requirement for higher labor costs. Many businesses which continue may reduce staff to hold labor cost constant resulting in harder work conditions for those remaining. Almost all businesses will shortly reflect the increased labor costs in increased costs to consumers. The outcome of those increased prices will be inflation which will, in fairly short order render any economic gain of that minimum wage increase to be erased. So, inflation devalues dollars, workers get laid off, prices rise and businesses fail. That, of course, means lower governmental tax revenues. Taken to extremes, it ain’t a pretty picture.

The Founding Fathers are regularly credited with establishing the bi-cameral legislature’s upper house with its smaller number and longer term as a brake against the emotional impetuousness of the lower chamber. Let us steadfastly hope that in the coming weeks before the November election that economic reality and a bit of common sense prevail with regard to minimum wage legislation. If they truly want to do some good for working Americans, they might consider repealing any and all wage legislation. Give the free market with its inherent balances a chance to function and let the rewards of education, preparation and dedication stimulate young workers to succeed. It might be worth a try, particularly if failure to vote some largess from business pockets results in some fresh new faces in Congress at the same time.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Nobel Nobility

We all know the story. Alfred Nobel invented dynamite. Then he suffered inventor’s remorse when he realized that his creation was employed in weapons destined to advance the efficiency of man’s inhumanity to man. To assuage his conscience he established a foundation that would use his fortune to reward the greatest advances in a wide range of fields each year with a Nobel Prize and a significant stipend. Great and truly noble of Nobel.

Over the years there have been many just awards of his prize to great scientists, doctors, researchers and even writers. There has also been one category of the award that has increasingly come to be viewed as more political than scientific, the “Peace Prize.” Who can forget the beautiful image of Anwar Sadat and Menachem Begin gracing the cover of Time Magazine after receiving their award in 1978. Two terrorists, reconstituted as national leaders of two nations staunchly dedicated to the destruction of each other, paired in glory as peacemakers. Brings a tear to the eye even today.

But is the Peace Prize of ’78 simply an aberration in a sequence of otherwise significant advancements made by individuals in the quest for world peace? Not if this article in Australia is any indication: Peace Through Murder?

Betty Williams won the prize in 1976. Why? Well, according to the news article she was appalled when British soldiers shot an IRA terrorist and his vehicle then crashed and killed two innocent children nearby. She then circulated a petition urging peace in Northern Ireland. Significant achievement? Did it solve the crisis? Well, arguably not. But she got the prize anyway. And, more than her deserved fifteen minutes of fame.

So, this great peacemaker now stands before an audience of young people in Brisbane and suggests she is so appalled at the world’s state that she would murder the US President! That’s a great suggestion from a Nobel Laureate for Peace. Would we call that “role modeling” for the youth of the 21st Century? Assassination of world leaders as a solution. Not dictators, but democratically elected leaders as well!

But, read on and marvel at the intellectual capacity of this activist. Read about the visit to the children’s cancer ward in Iraq. Note the emphasis on “children”. I always warn students that when someone suggests a policy must be enacted “for the children” that they better take a firm grip on their wallet and their Constitution because their money or their rights are about to be purloined.

“Will they live,” she asks breathlessly. I flash momentarily on Scrooge and Tiny Tim. The doctor is harsher than the Christmas Spirit. “No, they will all die.” Of course, you twit…we will all die.

But, in a magnificent simplification and generalization of modern oncology, these children need five drugs to be cured. All of them? Isn’t that unusual? Yes, they need five. But they only get three because of the mean ol’ USA. Oh, and would they have gotten five under Saddam? It’s George Bush’s fault. And so, good old peacemaker Betty feels justified in suggesting assassination.

Well, just to make sure we’ve got our villains lined up properly, she also notes that the cancers themselves are the result of the US. Yes, it was in utero that the first Gulf War damaged these children and their mothers. Had the world only sat back and allowed Saddam his way with Kuwait and maybe a chunk of Saudi Arabia, these children would have been normal and live forever.

Finally, we need to note her solution. End world poverty. How? Well, like Nike says, just do it. Oh yeah, also stop global climate change, whatever that means. And, while you’re at it, cut military spending and divert all that money toward “human development”. Great ideas, Betty. Maybe disburse Nobel Peace Prizes to every poor child in the world so they can have a pot of gold and live cancer free, if only Betty can get close enough to our President to make it happen.

I think I’ve concluded that in the unlikely event that I was to be nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize I would decline it. I wouldn’t want to be associated with the likes of Betty Williams.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Déjà vu Again!

I’m continually astonished at the circuitous logic of the elite universities of this country. Take a look at this emerging brouhaha at the University of Wisonsin:

Ward Churchill Clone in Wisconsin?

When I saw Brit Hume comment on it, I was initially outraged that a school would intentionally allow someone to place such an absurd thesis before an undergraduate university class. But, we should all be aware that tenured professors have a lot of latitude and some of them espouse decidedly controversial views. I’ve personally professed views in class that I don’t hold, simply to promote discussion and foster student thinking on the topic. But, I don’t make those views the core concept of the course.

Then I went to the link above and read the University Provost comments. They seemed logical and reasonable as a defense of freedom of educational inquiry. Until, that is, I read between the lines. I’ve got enough experience in front of undergraduate students to know that what the prof says is what the students believe and will mouth back at the drop of a blue book. If Professor Barrett suggests some extreme revision of the events we’ve all seen so many times on TV, the mushy minds will internalize it and deny their own recall.

Teaching most assuredly should foster thinking, reasoning and independent judgment of observations. But, there also is an obligation for both the teacher and the institution which that teacher represents to place fact before the students. Creating a rational argument that the Holocaust didn’t happen, that genocide was inflicted upon Native-Americans through distribution of smallpox infected blankets, or that al-Qaeda doesn’t really exist is possible, but decidedly disingenuous. It should not be allowed in a responsible institution. That is NOT denial of academic freedom. It is common sense.

Then I got to the last paragraph of the Univ. of Wisconsin statement. This twit isn’t a tenured professor! Apparently they actually went out and hired the idiot to spout this drivel for a single semester! Disgusting.

Friday, June 30, 2006

What Are They Thinking?

The Supremes are on a roll! In an ideologically aligned decision yesterday, the court ruled (with Chief Justice Roberts on the sidelines) that the executive branch has exceeded its authority in seeking to try detained terrorists before military tribunals.

I’ve often bemoaned the increasingly small minority of major government functionaries with military experience, ex-Marine John Murtha not withstanding. While the volunteer force has become increasingly professional and technologically competent, the lack of integration with the totality of American society makes it more and more likely that pundits and politicos will spout drivel with regard to the military and no one will be there to challenge it.

All Supreme Court decisions have nuance and some even have understandability. Typically they will uphold someone’s deeply held convictions while over-ruling someone else’s. Beyond that there is always the underlying hope that common sense and an obligation to “do what is right” for the country will factor into the opinion. That’s why this business is so appalling.

Here are a few things that come to my formerly military mind as I listen to the dissection of the decision.

First, there is the issue of the Geneva Conventions. During my 23 years on active duty we had periodic training on the provisions of the conventions. There were some basics that we learned. The US is a signatory to them. Many nations are signatory. Some nations are not. Those who are not signers are not required to comply. (That seems pretty basic when written here, but apparently the Supremes didn’t notice.) Recognized nations can sign. Unrecognized transnational terrorist groups need not apply.

Second, to gain the protections of the Conventions, it is necessary to be a member of an organized military with a command structure, uniforms and prominently displayed rank insignia. You are required to carry identification which offers evidence beyond your visible military uniform and rank that you are a member of a complying government’s military. The military ID card serves that purpose and for many years a second “Geneva Convention Card” was also required. The internees at Guantanamo don’t fill that requirement. They don’t wear uniforms, they don’t have rank, they aren’t military and they don’t operate under the leadership of a national command structure. Rights to protections are forfeit.

Third, the Uniform Code of Military Justice applies to members of the US military. It is, by definition, extra-Constitutional. The protections afforded to our citizens by the Constitution are not extended to members of the military under the UCMJ. Strange, but true—those of us who sacrifice the most to defend the Constitution are not protected by it while doing that duty. The UCMJ does not apply to terrorist internees.

Fourth, Constitutional protections afforded citizens of the US are only extended in very limited fashion to non-citizens. The internees are neither citizens nor in the USA. While some protection is granted, it isn’t to the extent of that provided citizens.

Fifth, it would be patently ludicrous to bring these terrorists into a civil courtroom under the laws of the US. They do not deserve the forum for their hatred of America and they do not merit the consideration of our courts. They are trying to kill us.

What really escapes me in this whole business is how the American left is trying to spin this as some sort of “rule of law” issue and how they can possibly think that defending the bodyguard of Usama bin Laden over the interests of American security from terrorism can gain them votes in November. What are they thinking?

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Constitutional Effrontery

Well, the votes were cast yesterday and apparently in the midst of this political silly season, the Senate still has a few folks with some sense—even if they are predominantly members of the party I seldom agree with! The senior circuit of silliness couldn’t muster the necessary two-thirds vote to propose a Constitutional Amendment prohibiting desecration of the American Flag. It missed by only one vote, but a miss is as good as a mile in this instance.

This summary of the various posturings tells quite a bit: WSJ Best of the Web

Maybe the most frightening item in that collection is the piece about the political science “professor” who somehow imbued the Supreme Court with the power to declare parts of the Constitution un-Constitutional. As the editor of the collection at the link points out, it becomes easier to see how the ignorance in our society gets propagated. While the Supremes can over-rule the legislature and the executive in matters of statute and regulation, they can’t reach so far as to specifically overturn part of the Constitution—in spite of considerable evidence that they can certainly convolute the document.

But, the basic issue remains an emotional one and we should admit up front that emotion trumps reason in almost every instance. Should we tolerate burning of that flag which represents our nation and which has been defended with the blood and honor of so many patriots? The answer remains yes.

The core of the First Amendment is freedom of speech and that freedom wasn’t delineated because we want to have porn on the Internet or gangsta rap on the radio. It was spelled out because it is essential to our republic that people can express their political will. When we restrict speech in any of its various forms, we restrict input of individuals to the political process. The unfortunate problem with that freedom is that more than occasionally the expression will be one that we disagree with.

It is easy to tolerate free speech when it is consistent with our own positions. It gets a whole lot tougher when the speaker is disagreeing with us. It really gets tough when the disagreement is one that is totally repugnant to everything we hold dear. Yet, we shouldn’t find it difficult to recognize that the very essence of free speech is that extreme degree of tolerance.

The facts of the matter are that flag desecration is an uncommon act. It isn’t something that one encounters very often. In fact, I would note that probably none of us have ever seen the act in person. We see news coverage when some loony makes a bid for attention by burning a flag. We see lots of foreign rabble burning homemade flags and effigies of Uncle Sam. But, we don’t see people on street corners lighting up flags with any degree of regularity. It’s a non-problem.

There is a certain element of risk in many parts of our nation for flag-desecrators. They might get talked to fairly aggressively, followed by a punch in the nose. But they are doing it for that very attention-seeking reason. They are expressing a political opinion and they seek observation of that protest. A huge majority disagrees with them and most viewers find the act unacceptable when it occurs. But, the First Amendment offers these miscreants the privilege.

Some day, in the not too distant future, the political panderers of our legislature will muster the two-thirds majorities in both houses to put the flag-burning amendment before the people. Then, I won’t be surprised if three-quarters of the minor league political panderers in the legislatures of the states will ratify it. That will be a dark day for political expression and the First Amendment. My prediction is that shortly thereafter flag-desecration will become a national pastime for the morons of the nation.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Feeling Secure?

We’ve got ten or eleven million illegal immigrants in this country. We’ve got what can charitably be called a “porous” border. Tomorrow, here in Texas, we’ll be executing one of those illegal immigrants who came here, not for a job and a future, but to conduct a series of brutal killings several years ago with whatever instrument came first to hand including such weapons as clubs, axes, shovels and hammers. He’s appealing, of course, but I expect that the Big Sleep is imminent. Securing our borders is an important task that needs competence now.

In this sort of atmosphere, we’ve got this headline: Hard Rush Hindered?

Wow, I feel a whole lot better now knowing that the customs and immigration folks are combing Rush Limbaugh’s private jet for possible prescription violations. Commercial jets are landing nearby disgorging hundreds of passengers hourly from off-shore points and they’ve got the time and inclination to be reading labels on prescription bottles? Is Viagra a drug of abuse? Seems unlikely as I encounter a minimum of four or five email solicitations each morning to order a supply online at discount without more than a superficial consultation with a real doctor. Are we more secure from terrorist attack if Rush is thwarted in his amorous encounters? I wonder if Bob Dole had this sort of problem?

But, probably more revealing is the question of how doctors dispense medication to each and every one of us. Have you ever visited your family physician and after discussion of a problem had the doctor offer you a supply of some medication which he has in the office provided to him by the manufacturer on a trial basis? It happens regularly. And, I’m willing to bet that the pills you take home don’t have a label with your name on the bottle indicating to the customs officer that you are legally entitled to possess it. Why, you might be planning to dump it into the Palm Beach water supply and set the entire community off on a sex-fueled orgy of conservative political excess. Be careful when traveling or the Gestapo might get you for illegal Cialis possession.

This may be the most egregious example of bureaucratic fascism in months.