Alan K. Henderson's Weblog


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Sunday, October 31, 2004

Another Costume Party

In honor of John Kerry's demand for a "test of legitimacy, not just in the globe, but elsewhere," the theme of this year's Blogosphere Halloween Party is out of this world. You'll recognize most of the costumes from last year's bash.

The force is strong in Josh Claybourne (and friend).

Joshua Claybourn and Vader photo Josh-Vader.jpg

No, James Lileks isn't running for the Senate. He has higher aspirations.

Darth Lileks photo DarthLileks.jpg

Captain Sasha Castel trades recipes with first officer Steve Green.

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Samizdata's Perry DeHavilland, founder of Time Lords for Truth, is ferrying undecided voters back in time in the TARDIS for the ultimate in fact-checking the candidates.

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Andrew Ian Dodge is toasting the season.

Andrew Ian Dodge and G'kar photo Dodge-Gkar.jpg

Hey, the party's almost over, and Darth Vader hasn't taken off his mask yet.

Indeed. photo VaderIndeed.jpg

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Saturday, October 30, 2004

Costume Party

Last night I went to the first annual Dallas Art Ball at the Lakewood Theater. The site says "Don't come as you are," but I came as I was anyway. I went as a blogger, decked out in dark blue plaid pajamas (with almost-matching slippers) and my laptop. Only one person asked if I was Hugh Hefner; a genuine Hefner costume can be found here.

Jonathan Klein's portrait of the blogger as "a guy sitting in his living room in his pajamas" is still not widespread knowledge, only modestly more well-known than, well, Jonathan Klein. But mine wasn't the most obscure. One guy (pic - with Glenda the Good Witch of the South) came as a character in a movie whose title I had never heard (and have completely forgotten). Another (pic - with Blue Man and pajama'd blogger) came as a character from Blue Velvet, which grossed (to date) only $8,551,228. Some other costumes I saw:

  • The Mona Lisa (hey, if she can get enough friends she can come as one of Hieronymus Bosch's paintings next year) (pic)
  • King Arthur and the Black Knight
  • A can of Spam (no, she didn't come with Arthur) (pic - with butterfly girl)
  • A kitchen sink - with faucet on head, hot and cold water knobs on shoulders, a spray nozzle (I think), and carrying a cardboard sink (ceramic would be heavy)
  • The Hasbro game Operation
  • A very tall Tinkerbelle (about five-foot-seven, I think) (pic)
  • A very short Princess Leia (Lucas meets Tolkien? "These are not the hobbits you are looking for...") (pic)
  • Darlie Routier (pic)
  • An assortment of gals with angel and butterfly wings
  • A young Republican; she had a big "W" sign hanging around her neck (someone in the crowd shouted "Four more days!")
  • Audrey Hepburn's character Holly Golightly from Breakfast at Tiffany's (pic)

At some point the sponsors of the ball will post pics of all the costumes on the official website - stay tuned.

Update: I am inserting direct hyperlinks to their pics as the Dallas Arts Ball site posts them.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Today's Guest Blog At Sasha's

It's myth-busting time.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Did Gore Really Get The Popular Vote?

Read Michelle Malkin's latest column, The Illegal Alien Swing Vote. Now. And check out this 2003 FrontPage Magazine column on the issue.

Monday, October 25, 2004

NewsMax Roundup

Pro-Kerry activists in Ohio register two known al-Qaeda operatives to vote.

Where Burt Rutan has gone before: William Shatner and 7,000 others are on a waiting list "to fly on Virgin's proposed commercial space flights." No word if he got his ticket through

Osama bin Laden's whereabouts have been narrowed down to a region in Pakistan, according to John Lehman, former Secretary of the Navy.

The prospective Kerry cabinet scares the heck out of me.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Vampire Hunters For Bush?

Spoons draws parallels between Buffy The Vampire Slayer and President Bush's prosecution of the War on Terror.

Friday, October 22, 2004

I Rooted For The Boston Red Sox Before I Rooted Against Them

I like to see an underdog team beat the New York Yankees. I don't like to see a Texas team kept out of the World Series. But now that red-state/blue-state rivalry kicks in, and Massachusetts is one of the bluest of states. Go Cards!

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Nos Amis Les Français?

At FrontPage Magazine, Jamie Glazov says France was never our friend.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Welcome Back My Friends, To The Show That Never Ends

The People's Republic of Seabrook is hosting Carnival of the Vanities #109. Among the attractions is my post on the third presidential debate.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Today's Guest Blog At Sasha's

Does anybody sell a decent insulated mug?

Enterprise Season Premier

Nazis and time travel, again?

The Temporal Cold War theme that pops up here and there throughout the series is actually pretty decent. But it's a bit annoying for diehard Trek fans because time travel has been waaay overdone. The Shymalanesque plot twist actually accomplishes something useful: it brings the major hostilities of the TCW to an end. The opportunity here (if the producers see it) is to get away from the time travel theme and to pump in some badly needed originality.

Daniels said to Archer that most, and not all, of the war had ended. I don't think we've seen the last of the Suliban (even if we have seen the last of Silik), and I suspect that some time down the road their benefactor from the future will reveal his identity to the audience. I'll make two predictions: first, he's a Romulan (certainly the sort of person who would have a motive for screwing up the Klingon timeline), and second, his machinations will have something to do with the Earth-Romulan War of the late 2150s. (Date is extrapolated from the TOS episode "Balance of Terror.") It is February 2154 in the series, so the war with the Romulans should be coming soon...

Alternate WWII history has been done countless times in literature, and in three past episodes of Star Trek - twice in the original series and once on Voyager. (See this article at the official site for details and links to episodes.) It's a hokey plot device, but the Nazis were perhaps the best candidates to unwittingly build the temporal portal for Vosk's faction. The Nazis were an industrial society engaged in large-scale military conquest; they could be bribed with advanced weapons technology, and with their economy on a war footing they could requisition the supplies requested by Vosk without the masses suspecting other than the usual military buildup. And the Nazis (up until mid-1945) existed prior to the development of atomic weapons; if I were Vosk, I wouldn't want the silly Earthlings to have WMD potential until after I've built my time machine and skipped town.

According to the Season Four episode list, Archer and the crew will be battling two terrorist groups, and the Vulcan/Andorian relations will rapidly deteriorate. Looks interesting.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Today In History

(Source: Wikipedia)

1016 Danes defeat Saxons at Battle of Ashingdon. (Two, four, six, eight, who did we annihilate? Saxons! Saxons! Yeah, Saxons!)
1767 Mason-Dixon line survey completed, y'all
1867 US takes possession of Alaska
1871 Charles Babbage dead (b. 1791)
1898 US takes possession of Puerto Rico
1921 Jesse Helms born
1922 British Broadcasting Company founded
1954 Texas Instruments introduces first transistor radio

Saturday, October 16, 2004

The Third Debate

(Full transcript here.)

I'm going to do things a little differently. Instead of responding to snippets of what everybody said, I will respond to each of Bob Schieffer's questions as if I were a third participant in the debate. No guarantees that I will stay within the time limit.

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

During my entire childhood, worldwide Communism was on the rise. It engulfed all of Eastern Europe, China, Cuba, North Korea, North Vietnam, South Vietnam as of 1974, Laos as of 1975, Cambodia from 1975 to 1979 (not counting years of Vietnamese occupation), Ethiopia from 1974 to 1991, Mozambique from 1974 to 1990, Angola from 1974 to 2002 - only two years since that nation emerged from civil war and became a multiparty state. During my adulthood the Soviet Union would occupy Afghanistan, the Sandinistas would come to power in Nicaragua, and Sendero Luminoso insurgents would operate in Peru. The Warsaw Pact engaged a Cold War against the West, with nuclear missiles aimed at all of our major cities, and agents stealing military technology and financing worldwide terror.

Speaking of terror...On September 5, 1972, two months prior to my twelfth birthday, nine members of the Palestinian terror group Black September took 11 Israeli athletes hostage at the Munich Olympics. West German authorities led an assault, during which all hostages and six of the terrorists were killed. The three surviving Palestinians were apprehended, and were released on October 29, acceding to the demands of Black September terrorists who had hijacked a Lufthansa jet flying over Turkey. Alleged mastermind Mohammed Daoud Oudeh, aka Abu Daoud, is in hiding and alive to this day. This began the long history of Western appeasement to Islamist terrorist groups, which is finally beginning to reverse itself under the current administration. The key word is beginning. Al-Qaeda and Iraqi partisans represent only a portion of this menace. America has yet to attack organizations based in and around Israel that have killed not only Israelis but Americans and people of other nationalities over the decades.

The answer to your question is yes.

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

Two reasons. First, the British-based firm Chiron, supplier of half of America's flu vaccines and the world's second largest manufacturer of the product, was forced by regulators to recall its product due to health safety issues that are currently under investigation. Second...why in the heck are we forced to import most if not all of our flu vaccines? Because our business regulatory environment, along with lawsuit abuse, stifles the industry here in America.

Does anybody remember the Vaccines for Children program that was spearheaded by Hillary Clinton during her husband's administration? It was enacted through the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993 (OBERA). Under that program, the government purchases vaccines - not just for influenza - and forces suppliers to accept below-market prices. The elimination of vaccines' profitability has driven many manufacturers out of the industry. Last year the National Center for Policy Analysis that over the past 30 years the number of firms making vaccines of any type decreased from 30 to 5, and "only one producer for a number of critical shots." The NCPA also cites recent shortages of several vaccines, "including those for whooping cough, diphtheria and chicken pox." John Kerry voted for OBERA, which created the government vaccine bulk purchasing program responsible for these shortages, and President Bush refuses to eliminate the program.

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

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

The debt isn't going up because Washington isn't taking in enough money. It's going up because it's spending too much. We have a Department of Education that is nothing more than a welfare program for bureaucrats. It adds nothing to the value of American education. We could eliminate the department and save tens of billions of dollars and have one less millionaire in the Cabinet. That would be a start at fiscal responsibility. As President I promise to read the Grace Commission report and consult with the Cato Institute to identify levels of bureaucracy and entire agencies to be eliminated.

[W]hat do you say to someone in this country who has lost his job to someone overseas who's being paid a fraction of what that job paid here in the United States?

I'd tell that person to talk to someone who used to work at Sears or J. C. Penney but lost his or her job to a lower-paid Wal-Mart employee, and to talk to someone who used to work at Wal-Mart but moved on to a bigger and better job. All the time people lose jobs to competition both foreign and domestic. It's a part of free markets that can't be eliminated. There is no set formula on how to deal with it - it depends on the individual's situation. The laid-off employee can learn from others who have suffered layoffs. Government isn't omniscient - and you don't want it to be. We can't tell every individual how his or her natural talents fit into the marketplace. All government can do is to enforce laws that keep markets honest, and to refrain from taxing the stuffing out of the people who provide jobs. Search out your talents and interests, determine what skills you need to learn and seek that education, and under my administration Washington will stay out of your way.

One must remember that the United States is itself a source of outsourced labor. German and Japanese automakers have plants in the US. In my hometown of Irving, the Danish telecommunications firm Nokia has offices. We cannot expect to attract such jobs if we do not have a level playing field.

Firms must be able to do business wherever they want to without government interference. There is no finite number of jobs that's being shifted across national and state borders. World markets are expanding. Unemployment is falling in the US. And those overseas workers and their employers buy American products. Expanding markets bring change, and change is disruptive. The construction of foreign auto plants in the US reduced the demand for transoceanic shipping. People in that industry were forced to adapt. Economic growth has always been this way. We can't change that. Americans and others in free markets have the resilience and the imagination to adapt and prosper through these changes. Government must not sap that energy through protectionist policies that only shrink markets.

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

He's to blame for the loss of jobs in the steel industry that were triggered by his tariffs. Bad legislation kills economic growth. As for the recent job losses, the two greatest factor were the 9/11 attacks and the Clinton recession. Clinton may have been able to prevent them if he had taken bin Laden into custody when he had the chance. He may have softened the recession if he had not pursued the misguided antitrust suit against Microsoft, which sent repercussions to all of Silicon valley, and he and GHW Bush would have prevented it altogether if they had not each passed $300 billion tax hikes. The dot-com crash was bad - and inevitable, since all infant industries go through the same turmoil - but it was not the main culprit behind the recession.

[Y]ou are opposed to gay marriage. But to understand how you have come to that conclusion, I want to ask you a more basic question. Do you believe homosexuality is a choice?

No. No psychiatric researcher believes that being sexually attracted to the same gender is a conscious choice. Some believe it is solely genetic; others believe that "'biological, psychological and social factors' shape sexual identity at an early age for most people," to quote the position statement for the National Association for the Research and Therapy of Homosexuality.

Your question misses the real bone of contention: whether homosexuality is a psychological disorder. I believe that decades of research have produced sufficient evidence to say yes. Ironically, this issue is relevant to very little of what is trotted out as gay rights. It is partly but not solely relevant to the gay marriage question, military enlistment, and adoption. It is relevant to education issues only if one accepts the notion that the government should decide what children should be taught about sexuality and so-called "tolerance" curricula that equates tolerance with conformity to leftist dogma. I believe that education must eventually be completely privatized, and that individual schools, not government, should set curricula - and parents must have the right to take their business elsewhere if their school doesn't teach what they want taught. I don't support sodomy laws any more than I support laws against nonmarital heterosexual sex - you'd think that position would attract at least some of the Hollywood vote - but the Constitution defends the rights to neither, and the issue should be settled by legislatures. I could go on, but I'll stop with those examples.

The conventional wisdom says that Senator Kerry supports gay rights more than either the President or myself. Does he support the right of gays to keep more and more of their incomes? His record on tax policy says no. Does he support cutting the level of spending that feeds the vampiric greed for the checkbooks of all Americans, including gays? No. Does he support the full Second Amendment rights of all, including gays? No. Does he support allowing pilots to be armed so that Americans, including gays, will be safer from terrorists? No. During his Senate career, did he vote for the critical military technologies necessary for winning the War on Terror, making all Americans, including gays, safer? No. Did he support the nuclear deterrent without which we could not have won the Cold War, making all Americans, including gays, safer? No - in fact he supported a unilateral nuclear freeze. Will Kerry be tough on crime that threatens all Americans, including gays? No. As Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts he supported the state's permissive prison furlough program. Does Kerry oppose radical environmental policy that eviscerates the checkbooks and the property rights of all Americans, including gays? No. He is endorsed by radical environmentalist groups such as the Sierra Club, League of Conservation Voters, the Friends of the Earth Action, and Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund. He was named an "Enemy of Private Property Rights" by the League of Private Property Voters. Teresa Heinz-Kerry's Tides Foundation funds some of those groups. Does Kerry support making full use of the energy resources at our disposal, so that Americans, including gays, will not suffer energy shortages? No. He opposes domestic oil exploration. He opposes offshore drilling, despite the fact that oil platforms serve as habitats where marine life can thrive.

Is Kerry's record representative of the Democratic leadership? Yes. Now tell me, who represents the party of gay rights?

The New York Times reports that some Catholic archbishops are telling their church members that it would be a sin to vote for a candidate like [Kerry] because you support a woman's right to choose an abortion and unlimited stem-cell research.

The purpose of voting is to put the best qualified, or at least the least destructive, candidate in office. Sometimes the difference between two candidates in the level of destructiveness they have to offer is debatable. Other times it is blatantly obvious. The difference between President Bush and I is a case of the former, and between either of us and Senator Kerry is a case of the latter.

Now there is a legitimate debate over whether life begins at conception or at implantation of the fertilized ovum in the uterine wall. America needs to look into that question. But life has clearly started by the time the embryo begins to grow, and abortion clearly violates human rights.

I oppose all public funding for scientific research, and support privatization of all public research, even our nuclear labs. Many private-sector firms conduct classified research for the US; there's no reason why we should do nuclear research one way and conventional weapons research another. But why privatize? Because the marketplace is bigger than the government, and therefore represents a greater pool of ingenuity than the government.

Compare the histories of the private-sector aeronautics industry and public-sector space technology. Forty-seven years after the 1957 launch of Sputnik we have lots of satellites wit lots of useful public- and private-sector uses, in addition to a bunch of scientific probes, fuel-inefficient space shuttles, and a tinkertoy space station that doesn't go as far into orbit as its cost overruns. Powered flight began at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina in 1903. In forty-seven years it was 1950. Aircraft had flown in two world wars, and were flying in the Korean conflict. Cargo planes had participated in the Berlin airlift two years earlier. Transpacific air travel had existed for 15 years. The Boeing 707, the first commercially successful jet passenger liner, would roll off the tarmac in 1954. Aviation benefited from the talent pool of a vast private sector; space industry limited itself to government and a handful of contractors. This is not to say that the American and Russian space programs lack achievements. I say that these achievements have not been built upon with the swiftness we have witnessed in the history of aviation. I do not want to see medical research - or research of any kind - suffer the same fate.

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

I am a LASIK customer. Over the years since its development, the technology has changed rapidly and prices have gone down. Why? Because the LASIK industry is largely market-driven. Most of its revenue comes directly from the customers; third-party payers such as insurance companies play a tiny role. It has been free from frivolous lawsuits. Medications associated with LASIK - valium and certain over-the-counter and prescription eye drops - are not subject to a government bulk purchase program like the aforementioned vaccines program that limits their availability; if they were, the supply wouldn't meet the current demand for LASIK, and LASIK surgeons would be doing fewer procedures and charging more for them to make up for the reduced business.

I promise to conduct a health care task force comprised of experts to whom Hillary Clinton would not give the time of day.

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

He isn't. He wants to push us further toward nationalized health care. As the president said, third-party payers are a big reason behind skyrocketing health care costs. People who don't have to pay for something with their own money have to incentive to control costs. He wants government - actually, the taxpayers - to be the third-party payer. The rich don't have enough money to cover the eternal medical cost inflation that such a system causes, so this Count Dracula would eventually have to feed off the middle class and even the poor. And what will happen to jobs when this money is taken out of the economy? And what happens when the more resourceful leave the US for the economically freer nations? If I do not become the next president of the United States and Kerry does, I may still have a political future in Estonia.

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


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

I support the Libertarian Party position on Social Security. To quote, it "is a bankrupt, immoral pyramid-scheme that has trillions of dollars of unfunded liabilities and yields below average returns for those trapped in it. Any financial advisor who suggested investing in a program like this would go to jail, but the members of Congress get off scot-free." The ultimate solution is to privatize it and make it voluntary, and to provide restitution to all subscribed to the program. I'll take a few acres of Big Bend National Park - great spot for amateur astronomy. Countries with economies less exuberant than ours - Chile, Britain, Australia, and even Mexico - have successfully privatized programs similar to Social Security. We should do the same. They didn't have to leave the task to another generation, and neither do we.

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

You forgot to say the magic word: Mexico. People are flocking that country for here because the Mexican economy sucks dirt. Why? Because Mexico does not have sufficient economic freedom to sustain a thriving economy. It is ranked 63rd on the Index of Economic Freedom, tied with Cambodia and Thailand, and is outranked by eight former Communist countries (not counting East Germany). We can step up border security, but the problem won't really be solved until Mexico undergoes serious political reform so its markets can flourish. I will consult with foreign policy experts to whom Madeline Albright would not give the time of day on the proper means to lead our neighbor to the south toward reform.

The gap between rich and poor is growing wider. More people are dropping into poverty. Yet the minimum wage has been stuck at, what, $5.15 an hour now for about seven years. Is it time to raise it?

The income gap is meaningless. Every country has an income gap. The gap exists in different countries for different reasons. In some it's because elites control vast portions of the economy (or all of it, as in Cuba and North Korea) and who gets the good jobs. In free markets it exists because opportunity for wealth through honest trade exists and has many takers. The difference between the US and, say, Cuba, is that people by and large don't stay in the lower income brackets over time. In Cuba the poor stay poor because IT'S THE LAW.

I used to be a minimum-wage earner. I moved from there to the lower middle class without any benefit from a college degree. (I had the degree, but no benefit - it was irrelevant to that higher-paying position.) The key to salary advancement is skill and talent advancement and application, not by artificially raising wages and forcing employers to do with fewer employees. My very first job was grocery store sacker. That entry-level job has been vanishing over the years because of minimum wage hikes. At most grocery stores where I shop, checkers are now the entry-level position, and they do all the bagging.

Oh, and about that gender gap Senator Kerry mentioned...according to the Independent Women's Forum, women "actually earn 98 cents on the dollar when factors such as age, education, and experience are taken into account." Women going into business for themselves would throw off the calculations, too, so it might be even smaller. I promise to do everything to make self-employment easier, so that even more women will be able to throw off the figures.

The only income gap that matters is the gap between what the individual worker made then and what he makes now.

So I'd ask you directly, would you like to [overturn Roe v. Wade]?

Sure. In the decision, Justice Blackmun wrote, "We need not resolve the difficult question of when life begins." But he made a decision dependent on the assumption that life begins at birth and not at conception or some point between the two. The Court must not make ruling dependent on making a scientific decision rather than law. It is the job of legislatures to assess science in lawmaking and not the courts, which shouldn't be making laws in the first place.

When the President says he won't pass a litmus test, he's playing word games. Of course he's got a litmus test - interpretation through original intent, except in the case of the McCain/Feingold Bill, which will serve as my litmus tests. Any judge who believes in criminalizing the act of private citizens pooling their resources together and criticizing political candidates during an election year gets no nomination from me.

I find it rather ironic that Senator Kerry responded to this question by moving from abortion to No Child Left Behind.

President Bush said he did not favor a draft. [Kerry] agreed with him. But our National Guard and Reserve forces are being severely strained because many of them are being held beyond their enlistments. Some of them say that it's a back-door draft. Is there any relief that could be offered to these brave Americans and their families...what would you do about this situation of holding National Guard and Reservists for these extended periods of time and these repeated call-ups that they're now facing?

Maybe we should call Senator Kerry back into service to command a swift boat to patrol the Euphrates.

As the President stated, help is already on the way in the form of Iraqi troops whose training will be completed soon. We should look into getting more support from the coalition. But I can't help thinking that this open discussion over troop deployment may be giving our enemies too much information. We need to take out certain regions in Iraq - by surprise. The American people want to have faith that we'll win, and it wants something to build that faith on, but the government can't give away its game plan and expect to succeed.

As for the global test these guys are talking about...I prefer the freedom test, which most of the globe flunks.

Congress [did not] extend the ban on assault weapons...

Good for Congress. Assault weapons are not a threat to domestic security. They are rarely used in crime; box cutters have killed more people than so-called assault weapons. The banned attachments - pistol grips, bayonet mounts, flash suppressors - do not make them more dangerous. The violent crime rate was decreasing prior to the ban. The paranoia about AK-47s and Uzis "flooding the streets" without the ban ignores the fact that they are already banned under separate legislation - a 1989 law. Some advocates of the law try to convince the public that the law bans fully automatic weapons; such weapons were already banned in 1934. High-capacity magazines, also banned by the law, have a legitimate purpose in self-defense. The law also bans mounted grenade launchers, which are never supplied with assault weapons, and which are already banned as "destructive devices."

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

Jim Crow by any color is wrong. President Bush keeps talking about education - and for a reason. Stacking the deck for minorities the way that white racists stacked the deck against them in past generations is not the answer to advancement. Personal initiative and proper education are. The public school system fails to prepare many for the workforce, and even for college. We must liberate education from government control and set it free in the marketplace. As President I will consult with education policy experts to whom the NEA/AFT leadership would not give the time of day on the specific means to make this transition.

I would like to ask you, what part does your faith play on your policy decisions?

My political philosophy is rooted in two Biblical teachings: that all humans are equally valued by God, and that stealing is wrong. These beliefs serve as the foundation of a philosophy that seeks to maximize human well-being and to prevent the State from stealing authority that rightfully belongs to God and/or the individual alone. The State exists to keep people from stealing from each other. All political debates revolve around the definition of theft. Do certain gun laws steal the right to personal self-defense? What levels of pollution are severe enough to constitute theft of public safety? I ask God for wisdom, and I put to use the resources He placed on Earth and in humanity to judge those issues.

What is the most important thing you've learned from [the] strong women [in your life]?

I'm not married like these two guys. I'm not a rich trial lawyer career politician, so I'm not exactly a chick magnet. I don't know what Senator Edwards' Dennis Kucinich's excuse is.

But I do have a mom, who a long time ago taught me grace under pressure when being picked on. The lesson took a little time to sink in, but it did. It happens to everybody, especially in the arenas of politics and blogging. Some people get emotionally bitter over not only personal attacks but also mere criticism of beliefs. Life is too short to stew over other people's boorishness, or over the refusal of others to agree with you.

Well, gentlemen, that brings us to the closing statements.

We are faced with a war on terror that we must win, not only in Iraq and Afghanistan, but in all nations where terrorists have declared war on us. We must get the government out of the way of individual achievement and bring it to fiscal sobriety. We must fully privatize industries that properly belong in the private sector, where they can fully grow and thrive. We must engage in diplomacy not only with Mexico but all nations to free their people from laws that stifle economic liberties and other personal freedoms.

I will close with the words of C. S. Lewis: "The State exists simply to promote and to protect the ordinary happiness of human beings in this life. A husband and wife chatting over a fire, a couple of friends having a game of darts in a pub, a man reading a book in his own room or digging in his own garden -- that is what the State is there for. And unless they are helping to increase and prolong and protect such moments, all the laws, parliaments, armies, courts, police, economics, etc., are simply a waste of time."

Thank you all, and good night.

Update: Oops - I knew there was an unmarried guy running in the Democratic primaries, but it wasn't Edwards. His wife had been virtually invisible until just the other day, so she was easy to miss. Corrections have been made.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Eugene Volokh Challenges Derbyshire Award Nomination

Read about it here.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Movie Review: Garfield

It looks as if the director of Garfield watched both Toy Story films and decided to combine the two, taking the old-guy-jealous-of-the-new-guy plot from one and the kidnap-the-guy-and-skip-town plot from the other. When the bad guy is faced off by Garfield's "feline, canine, and vermine" (rodent) allies, one can't help but think of Glenn Close's come-uppance in the live-action 101 Dalmations. There's even a hint of Galaxy Quest; when Persnikitty (Alan Cumming) moaned about his fall from the high performing arts to a silly children's TV show, I thought of Alexander Dane (Alan Rickman) moaning about his similar fate.

But the hints of other film plots don't overwhelm the film. Its a fun movie with a lively cast.

Garfield is rendered well by the computer animators and Bill Murray's vocals. He looks more or less like a real cat. The facial expressions are well done. We see some of the familiar elements of his life: Pooky, the bed, the alarm clock, lasagna, loud burps, Mondays, the TV and remote, his silly, playful imagination, Jon yelling at him to catch mice. The live-action animals have personality. One nit-pick: Nermal is a grey tabby kitten, not an adult Siamese. (Arlene was also reinvented, for good reason - the original is pink.)

No character was reinvented as much as Jon Arbuckle (Breckin Meyer). The strip's big failing is that Job isn't really a likeable guy. He is boring and shallow, and geekier than most geeks. He's someone to laugh at, not with. The film could not have survived with the original Jon. On the big screen he's a likeable nerd, and not a combination of the worst qualities of Jethro Bodine and the stereotypical lounge lizard (without the lounge). His chemistry with his pets and with the mousy Liz (Jennifer Love Hewitt) works.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

I, Paper Mate

Free market advocates are no strangers to Leonard E. Read's 1958 essay I, Pencil, which illustrates how a simple product with components from all around the world can be produced and sold in sufficient quantity without central planning. In the latest EIA Communiqué, Mike Antonucci applies the concept to modern writing technology - and modern education:

The Purple Pen Lesson. You may already have heard this story about the new trend of teachers using purple pens, rather than red, to mark student errors. This is being done on the assumption that red is stressful while purple is calming (then why aren't hospital rooms painted purple?).

Now we can talk all day about whether this is self-esteem building or sensitivity run amok, but it seems to me the key point is what Paper Mate, the pen company, did upon learning that more teachers were using purple ink.

The company made more purple pens.

The people at Paper Mate did not convene a task force to commission a study about the relative merits of red and purple ink. They did not await a government mandate for increased use of purple ink. They did not demand concessions to boost production of purple pens. They did not offer subsidies to red pen advocates in an effort to restore equity. They did not meet with workers to ascertain their feelings about switching from red pen-making to purple pen-making. They did not introduce legislation for tax breaks to encourage the production of purple pens. They did not file a lawsuit against purple pen users to force them to continue using red pens. They did not sponsor a ballot initiative banning the use of purple pens for grading.

It was, in fact, easier to get a multi-million dollar company to produce more purple pens than it will be to get school district supply officers to order them for teachers. It isn't red ink that is adversely affecting our children's education, it's red tape.

John Kerry Was Right - To A Point

Here's what he said (link via the Volokh Conspiracy):

"We have to get back to the place we were, where terrorists are not the focus of our lives, but they're a nuisance," Kerry said. "As a former law-enforcement person, I know we're never going to end prostitution. We're never going to end illegal gambling. But we're going to reduce it, organized crime, to a level where it isn't on the rise. It isn't threatening people's lives every day, and fundamentally, it's something that you continue to fight, but it's not threatening the fabric of your life."

Kerry's chief point is that terrorism can never be eliminated, only reduced in its scope. And he's right. But he ran into two problems. First, he used the term "nuisance" to describe the state at which terrorism exists but not at the level at which it becomes a serious national security issue. Second is that pesky - but valid - comparison to gambling and prostitution. He could have made it work better by throwing in a qualifier that terrorism and consensual crime represent very different levels and types of destructiveness. Where the comparison rings true is in the reason why terrorism, gambling, and prostitution will never end: neither government nor any institution has the power to program the ethics and activities of every single individual. The law does not make men and women righteous, but it can place deterrents to reduce (real or perceived) unrighteousness.

There's another facet by which the comparison rings true: both the War on Terror and the wars on various crime must involve arrests. Lobbing missiles at suspected targets in Sudan and Afghanistan does not constitute arrests. Twelve years of sanctions on a sponsor of terror who repeatedly shoots at law enforcement (i. e. the American and British planes that patrolled the no-fly zone) does not constitute arrests. (Gee, we were less patient with David Koresh than we were with Saddam.) Outsourcing to global bureaucrats who have shady financial dealings with the perpetrator does not constitute arrests. Saddam Hussein was finally arrested last year. His sons resisted arrest by the use of deadly force and were killed; his military did the same, and were killed or apprehended. We delivered the same fate to the Taliban in Afghanistan earlier, and are delivering that fate to terrorists around the world.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Christopher Reeve (1952-2004)

"You know what's interesting to me is that being physically paralyzed for eight years, I get pretty impatient when people are able-bodied but are somehow paralyzed for other reasons, and I'm going, 'Come on, come on, go for it.' … It took being in a chair to realize that. And so my recommendation is don't break your neck to find out that you need to fulfill your potential."

Christopher Reeve, in a 1995 Barbara Walters interview, reported here.

Sunday, October 10, 2004


At FrontPage Magazine, Michael Tremoglie does a little fact-checking. He dispels rumors of criminal activity behind the awarding of its government contracts, and notes that the Bush administration isn't giving it any advantages that it didn't get from the Clinton administration.

Today's Guest Blog At Sasha's

It's election time in Afghanistan. Many thanks to the troops living and dead for making it possible.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

The Second Bush/Kerry Debate

(Full transcript here)

I listened to the WBAP radio broadcast. Kerry's oratory is notoriously average. Keeps saying "I have a plan" but provides few details. Bush begins sounding annoyed, although not as much as in the first debate, and his composure gradually improves. Kerry promoted the lie that General Shinseki was fired; his claim was discredited by no less than the New York Times. He should avoid uttering the phrase "body armor" like the plague.

Bush needs to listen to the audio and note the contrast in his demeanor and vocal inflection in his very first attacks on and in his closing remarks, and go with the latter in debate three. No more citing ancient Supreme Court cases that everybody outside of Sudan agrees on. Stay away from the word "liberal" - it gives Kerry opportunity to pontificate.

Here's a bit on inconsistency that some might miss:

KERRY: This president rushed to war, pushed our allies aside. And Iran now is more dangerous, and so is North Korea, with nuclear weapons. He took his eye off the ball, off of Osama bin Laden.

Earlier, Bush said this (emphasis mine):

BUSH: So I tried diplomacy, went to the United Nations. But as we learned in the same report I quoted, Saddam Hussein was gaming the oil-for-food program to get rid of sanctions. He was trying to get rid of sanctions for a reason: He wanted to restart his weapons programs.

Bush hasn't yet prevented Iran from developing a WMD program that the mullahs intend to bring to fruition, but he directly prevented Iraq from developing a WMD program that Saddam Hussein wanted.

BUSH: We don't need mass armies anymore.

He's against cloning, too, so we don't have to worry about this.

KERRY: General Wes Clark, who won the war in Kosovo...

What kind of a victory destabilizes the region we were trying to protect? Kosovo is overrun by Islamic terrorists, and the UN peacekeepers won't lift a finger to deal with the problem.

KERRY: Between the World Trade Center bombing in, what was it, 1993 or so...

The year of the attack isn't etched into his memory? The beginning of the al-Qaeda War?

BUSH: First, the National Journal named Senator Kennedy the most liberal senator of all.

Bush is talking about Ted Kennedy? The wrong Massachusetts senator at the wrong place at the wrong time.

JAMES VARNER: Senator Kerry, would you be willing to look directly into the camera and, using simple and unequivocal language, give the American people your solemn pledge not to sign any legislation that will increase the tax burden on families earning less than $200,000 a year during your first term?

"Read my lips -- no new taxes on people making under $200K a year!" - Glenn Reynolds

KERRY: Absolutely. Yes. Right into the camera. Yes. I am not going to raise taxes...I'm pledging I will not raise taxes; I'm giving a tax cut to the people earning less than $200,000 a year. Now, for the people earning more than $200,000 a year, you're going to see a rollback to the level we were at with Bill Clinton, when people made a lot of money. And looking around here, at this group here, I suspect there are only three people here who are going to be affected: the president, me, and, Charlie, I'm sorry, you too.

So who makes more than 200K a year?

BUSH: Now, he says he's only going to tax the rich. Do you realize, 900,000 small businesses will be taxed under his plan because most small businesses are Subchapter S corps or limited partnerships, and they pay tax at the individual income tax level. And so when you're running up the taxes like that, you're taxing job creators, and that's not how you keep jobs here.

I want to rise from the lower middle class someday. That might not happen if brie-eating tax monkeys like Kerry get their way.

ELIZABETH LONG: Senator Kerry, thousands of people have already been cured or treated by the use of adult stem cells or umbilical cord stem cells. However, no one has been cured by using embryonic stem cells. Wouldn't it be wide to use stem cells obtained without the destruction of an embryo?

Kudos to Liz - a few viewers just learned that adult stem cell research exists. Here's the question I would have asked: Why in the heck should the government fund medical research? You people in Washington can't agree on climatology or whether there might be something to these embryonic stem cell pipe dreams. Why should we believe for a second that y'all are capable of determining which research deserves funding and which doesn't?

JONATHAN MICHAELSON: Mr. President, if there were a vacancy in the Supreme Court and you had the opportunity to fill that position today, who would you choose and why?

BUSH: I'm not telling. I really don't have -- haven't picked anybody yet. Plus, I want them all voting for me.


On the abortion question, Kerry never did address federal funding for abortion. If he were ever to voice public support for it, I would respond thus: If abortion is a choice, then abortion is elective surgery. Why should tax dollars be spent on elective surgery?

LINDA GRABEL: President Bush, during the last four years, you have made thousands of decisions that have affected millions of lives. Please give three instances in which you came to realize you had made a wrong decision, and what you did to correct it. Thank you.

BUSH: I have made a lot of decisions, and some of them little, like appointments to boards you never heard of, and some of them big.

And in a war, there's a lot of -- there's a lot of tactical decisions that historians will look back and say: He shouldn't have done that. He shouldn't have made that decision. And I'll take responsibility for them. I'm human.

But on the big questions, about whether or not we should have gone into Afghanistan, the big question about whether we should have removed somebody in Iraq, I'll stand by those decisions, because I think they're right.

That's really what you're -- when they ask about the mistakes, that's what they're talking about. They're trying to say, "Did you make a mistake going into Iraq?" And the answer is, "Absolutely not." It was the right decision.

Bush takes a preemptive strike against what such a question insinuates. Charles Gibson didn't have the class to ask Kerry to name three of his own political-career-spanning mistakes.

KERRY: I have a plan that will help us go out and kill and find the terrorists...I have a plan to provide health care to all Americans. I have a plan to provide for our schools so we keep the standards but we help our teachers teach and elevate our schools by funding No Child Left Behind. I have a plan to protect the environment so that we leave this place in better shape to our children than we were handed it by our parents.

Is he trying to sound like Martin Luther King? "I have a plan today!"

KERRY: I believe America's best days are ahead of us.

Now he's borrowing directly from Ronald Reagan. He's less original than Joe Biden.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Today's Guest Blog At Sasha's

Deflating an economic urban myth.

The Cheney/Edwards Debate

(Full transcript here)

My first thought is on Edwards' harping on the claim that Saddam had nothing to do with al-Qaeda. is not our only enemy in the war on terror! Cheney explains what Iraq is another enemy in this war:

CHENEY: Concern about Iraq specifically focused on the fact that Saddam Hussein had been, for years, listed on the state sponsor of terror, that they he had established relationships with Abu Nidal, who operated out of Baghdad; he paid $25,000 to the families of suicide bombers; and he had an established relationship with Al Qaida. Specifically, look at George Tenet, the CIA director's testimony before the Committee on Foreign Relations two years ago when he talked about a 10-year relationship.

May I add Iraq has repeatedly shot at US and UK aircraft enforcing the no-fly zone.

EDWARDS: But we had Osama bin Laden cornered at Tora Bora. We had the 10th Mountain Division up in Uzbekistan available. We had the finest military in the world on the ground. And what did we do? We turned -- this is the man who masterminded the greatest mass murder and terrorist attack in American history. And what did the administration decide to do? They gave the responsibility of capturing and/or killing Saddam -- I mean Osama bin Laden to Afghan warlords who, just a few weeks before, had been working with Osama bin Laden.

Kerry made the same claim in last week's presidential debate. sets the record straight:

Kerry said U.S. forces allowed Osama bin Laden to escape in 2001 during the battle at Tora Bora in Afghanistan because the administration "outsourced" fighting to Afghan "warlords." Actually, it's never been clear whether bin Laden actually was at Tora Bora.

It is true that military leaders strongly suspected bin Laden was there, and it is also true that the Pentagon relied heavily on Afghan forces to take on much of the fighting at Tora Bora in an effort to reduce US casualties. But Kerry overstates the case by stating flatly that "we had him surrounded."

Cheney takes a light jab at Kerry's record:

CHENEY: We heard Senator Kerry say the other night that there ought to be some kind of global test before U.S. troops are deployed preemptively to protect the United States. That's part of a track record that goes back to the 1970s when he ran for Congress the first time and said troops should not be deployed without U.N. approval. Then, in the mid-'80s, he ran on the basis of cutting most of our major defense programs. In 1991, he voted against Desert Storm. It's a consistent pattern over time of always being on the wrong side of defense issues.

Edwards says the Afghan operation is going badly:

EDWARDS: Here's what's actually happened in Afghanistan, regardless of this rosy scenario that they paint on Afghanistan, just like they do with Iraq. What's actually happened is they're now providing 75 percent of the world's opium. Not only are they providing 75 percent of the world's opium, large-cut parts of the country are under the control of drug lords and warlords. Big parts of the country are still insecure. And the reality is the part of Afghanistan, eastern Afghanistan, where Osama bin Laden is, is one of the hardest places to control and the most insecure, Gwen.

Cheney reminds the audience that wars often get real messy before victory is achieved:

CHENEY: Twenty years ago we had a similar situation in El Salvador. We had -- guerrilla insurgency controlled roughly a third of the country, 75,000 people dead, and we held free elections. I was there as an observer on behalf of the Congress. The human drive for freedom, the determination of these people to vote, was unbelievable. And the terrorists would come in and shoot up polling places; as soon as they left, the voters would come back and get in line and would not be denied the right to vote. And today El Salvador is a whale of a lot better because we held free elections.

Cheney takes another look at Kerry's record:

CHENEY: In 1984, when he ran for the Senate he opposed, or called for the elimination of a great many major weapons systems that were crucial to winning the Cold War and are important today to our overall forces. When Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait and occupied it in 1990 and '91, he stood up on the floor of the Senate and voted against going in to liberate Kuwait and push Saddam Hussein back to Iraq.

Kerry and Edwards are girlie men (emphasis mine):

CHENEY: And with respect to this particular operation, we've seen a situation in which, first, they voted to commit the troops, to send them to war, John Edwards and John Kerry, then they came back and when the question was whether or not you provide them with the resources they needed -- body armor, spare parts, ammunition -- they voted against it.

I couldn't figure out why that happened initially. And then I looked and figured out that what was happening was Howard Dean was making major progress in the Democratic primaries, running away with the primaries based on an anti-war record. So they, in effect, decided they would cast an anti-war vote and they voted against the troops.

Now if they couldn't stand up to the pressures that Howard Dean represented, how can we expect them to stand up to Al Qaida?

Kerry is a divider, not a uniter:

CHENEY: Our most important ally in the war on terror, in Iraq specifically, is Prime Minister Allawi. He came recently and addressed a joint session of Congress that I presided over with the speaker of the House. And John Kerry rushed out immediately after his speech was over with, where he came and he thanked America for our contributions and our sacrifice and pledged to hold those elections in January, went out and demeaned him, criticized him, challenged his credibility.


CHENEY: Classic example. He won't count the sacrifice and the contribution of Iraqi allies. It's their country. They're in the fight. They're increasingly the ones out there putting their necks on the line to take back their country from the terrorists and the old regime elements that are still left. They're doing a superb job. And for you to demean their sacrifices strikes me as...

EDWARDS: Oh, I'm not...

CHENEY: ... as beyond...

EDWARDS: I'm not demeaning...

CHENEY: It is indeed. You suggested...

EDWARDS: No, sir, I did not...

CHENEY: ... somehow they shouldn't count, because you want to be able to say that the Americans are taking 90 percent of the sacrifice. You cannot succeed in this effort if you're not willing to recognize the enormous contribution the Iraqis are increasingly making to their own future.

Edwards says "there was no connection between Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and Saddam Hussein." Cheney explains Zarqawi's relevance:

CHENEY: But let's look at what we know about Mr. Zarqawi. We know he was running a terrorist camp, training terrorists in Afghanistan prior to 9/11. We know that when we went into Afghanistan that he then migrated to Baghdad. He set up shop in Baghdad, where he oversaw the poisons facility up at Kermal (ph), where the terrorists were developing ricin and other deadly substances to use.We know he's still in Baghdad today. He is responsible for most of the major car bombings that have killed or maimed thousands of people. He's the one you will see on the evening news beheading hostages.

Hello, stranger:

CHENEY: Now, in my capacity as vice president, I am the president of Senate, the presiding officer. I'm up in the Senate most Tuesdays when they're in session. The first time I ever met you was when you walked on the stage tonight.

Maybe not the first. (Link via Sully.) But they haven't met often enough.

Edwards looks at Cheney's record:

EDWARDS: He voted against the Department of Education. He voted against funding for Meals on Wheels for seniors. He voted against a holiday for Martin Luther King. He voted against a resolution calling for the release of Nelson Mandela in South Africa.

We have too many freakin' holidays as it is, and it's unfair to dedicate one to only one civil rights leader and not all of 'em. It's not the government's business to own any, much less the majority, of schools - and even if it did, there's no reason for schools to be regulated by both the feds and the states. Charities such as Meals on Wheels should begin at home, not the House. As for Mandela, Wikipedia explains why he was sentenced to prison:

In 1961 he became the commander of the ANC's armed wing Umkhonto we Sizwe ("Spear of the Nation", or MK), which he co-founded. He coordinated a sabotage campaign against military and government targets and made plans for possible guerrilla war if sabotage failed to end apartheid. He also fundraised for MK abroad, and arranged for paramilitary training, visiting various African governments. In August 1962 he was arrested after the CIA tipped off the police, and jailed for five years for illegal travel abroad and incitement to strike.

So why was his imprisonment a bad thing?

IFILL: Mr. Vice President, the Census Bureau ranked Cleveland as the biggest poor city in the country, 31 percent jobless rate. You two gentlemen are pretty well off. You did well for yourselves in the private sector. What can you tell the people of Cleveland, or people of cities like Cleveland, that your administration will do to better their lives?

Screw their answers - here's mine. Ohio needs to be more like Texas, and Cleveland more like its more prosperous cities (without the greedy millionaires begging taxpayers for money to build stadiums). Lower taxes, and no state income tax. Tax and regulatory laws conducive to business formation. If Ohioans can't keep up with the national average, it's their own fault for putting vultures in charge of their state and their cities.

EDWARDS: They promised they were going to put $2 trillion of the surplus aside from Social Security. Not done.

Hey Johnny Boy, your running mate was in the Senate for 20 years, during which he and his coworkers routinely lifted funds from Social Security to pay for general expenses. Instead of promising to inject funds into Social Security, why isn't he - or you - out there admitting to this theft and promising to stop it?

Cheney on tax policy (emphasis mine):

Gwen, the Kerry record on taxes is one basically of voting for a large number of tax increases -- 98 times in the United States Senate. There's a fundamental philosophical difference here between the president and myself, who believe that we ought to let the American people keep more of what they earn and we ought to empower them to have more control over their own lives -- I think the Kerry-Edwards approach basically is to raise taxes and to give government more control over the lives of individual citizens...They talk about the top bracket and going after only those people in the top bracket. Well, the fact of the matter is a great many of our small businesses pay taxes under the personal income taxes rather than the corporate rate. And about 900,000 small businesses will be hit if you do, in fact, do what they want to do with the top bracket. That's not smart because seven out of 10 new jobs in America are created by small businesses.

Cheney on lawyers and health care costs:

CHENEY: I was in New Mexico the other day and met with a group of OB/GYN docs. And they were deeply concerned because they were fearful that there'd be another increase in malpractice insurance rates as a result of what they believe are frivolous lawsuits and that that would put them out of business.

And one doctor indicated that her rates have gone up so much that she's now to the point where she is screening patients. She won't take high-risk patients anymore because of the danger that that will generate a lawsuit, and a lawsuit will put her out of business.

This has had a devastating impact in a lot of communities. My home state of Wyoming, we've lost the top insurer of malpractice insurance in the state. The rates for a general practitioner have gone from $40,000 a year to $100,000 a year for an insurance policy.

We think this has a devastating impact on the quality of health care. As I say, high risk patients don't get covered anymore. We've lost one out of eleven OB/GYN practitioners in the country. We think it can be fixed, needs to be fixed.

Now, specifically, what we need to do is cap non-economic damages, and we also think you need to limit the awards that the trial attorneys take out of all of this. Over 50 percent of the settlements go to the attorneys and for administrating overhead.


I was in Minnesota the other day, where I visited an aircraft manufacturing plant. It's a great success story. This is a company that started 20 years ago with nothing. Today they're the second- leading producer of piston-driven aircraft in the country.

He told me that if it weren't for the increased cost of his liability insurance, in this case product liability, he could hire 200 more people in his factory. We've built into the system enormous costs as a result of our practice with respect to litigation. We have to find ways to get a handle on it. He mentioned Medicare up 17 percent, somehow that that was something we caused. No. The 17 percent increase in Medicare premiums was the direct result of a statute adopted in 1997. John Kerry voted for it.

Somebody on the radio quoted a source tat predicted the debate would be Darth Vader vs. David Spade. Only Cheney didn't live up to those expectations.

Excuse Me?

I just heard a radio ad narrated by Tom Vandegriff, a big mover and shaker in Arlington, Texas, in support of the proposed sales tax hike to bring a new Dallas Cowboys stadium to the city. Reciting the old line of the stadium bringing more jobs and more tax revenues to the city, Vandegriff listed among the benefits "more streets for better traffic."

Since when were stadiums associated with improving traffic flow? Anybody ever drive near one of those monuments on a game day?

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Subliminal Broadcast?

CBS had its forged documents, and now NBC has this:

NBC's "RATS"? Four years ago, the NBC Nightly News took seriously the appearance of the letters "RATS," in a single frame of an enlargement of part of the word "BUREAUCRATS," in an anti-Gore ad from the Bush campaign. The September 12, 2000 NBC Nightly News carried two full stories on the controversy. Jump ahead four years, and on Monday night the NBC Nightly News displayed the letters "ILIE" for 16 seconds next to President George W. Bush's face in a "Decision 2004" graphic beside anchor Tom Brokaw as he introduced a story by David Gregory.

The letters came from the word "FAMILIES" in a sign on the far side of Bush, which read: "TAX RELIEF FOR AMERICAN WORKING FAMILIES"

To the Media Research Center, the only scandal is that this is the same NBC that took seriously the allegations that the single-frame display of the letters RATS - that nobody could even see without hitting the pause button at the precise moment - was an intentional ploy, but is unlikely to suspect anything of the sort on the part of the Nightly News.

Then again, maybe there is some sort of conspiracy behind the ILIE broadcast, but nobody's looking in the right direction. Maybe Brokaw is trying to associate the president with the volatile Romanian tennis veteran Ilie Nastase.

Monday, October 04, 2004

More Space News

Gordon Cooper passed away today. He was one of the original Mercury astronauts; he flew on Mercury 9 (Faith 7) on May 15, 1963. The Johnson Space Center website has his bio here. See also Wikipedia's bio, and its entry on the Mercury program.

Today is also the 47th anniversary of space travel. On October 4, 1957, the Soviet Union launched Sputnik 1, the first manmade object to launch into space. Fueled by the Cold War, that 58-centimeter aluminum ball paved the way for Yuri Gagarin and Neil Armstrong, Skylab and Mir, the Hubble telescope and the Mars rover. And Burt Rutan. Rand Simberg notes the anniversary and SpaceShip One's triumph: "October 4th will not only be commemorated as the day that the old space began, but perhaps, the new one as well."

The X-Prize Is Won!

Dale Amon at Samizdata live-blogged the event, and found a Burt Rutan commentary on Big Aerospace. Rand Simberg did some live blogging, too.

Take A Bite Out Of Statism

The Telegraph reports that two confectionery companies have made a deal with the government to cease production of king-sized chocolates, in an effort to fight the growing obesity problem in the UK. Masterfoods, makers of Mars and Snickers, and Cadbury Trebor Basset, have signed on, but one candy maker refuses to comply:

However, Nestle has refused to follow the lead of its rivals. King-size Lion bars, Yorkies, Kit Kats and Rolos will remain on the shelves.

A Nestle spokesman said king-size products made up only a small part of its market and were consumed mainly by "young men with active lifestyles". What other companies did was up to them, he added.

Samizdata is on the case, and in comments MTFO ponders the future:

Candy production has been forced underground..."unemployable" teenage thugs' huddled around small campstoves, melting chocolate for processing into highly dangerous and unregulated candy bars...little squads of gangsters running around doing clandestine deals for things like sugar, caramel, fruits and nuts..."War on Candy"...high profile candy busts...evidence inexplicably disappearing while the Vice Squads keep getting fatter and fatter...

Yes, there will be sweeteasies sprouting up all over Britain, where patrons can consume mass quantities of chocolate away from the prying eyes of the State...

 photo SweetEasy.jpg

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Friday, October 01, 2004

The First Bush/Kerry Debate

(Full transcript here)

I saw little of it (caught the final half hour), so there are only two things I can offer from personal observation. First, Bush repeated certain phrases like "hard work" and the Kerry quote about "the wrong war at the wrong place at the wrong time" way too often. Second, he was noticeably flustered when talking about the war. He spoke with the same frustration in his voice as he did when he and Allawi spoke before Congress. Bush needs to work on this.

When Jim Lehrer asked about how the candidates would win the war, a lot of viewers probably wished that Bush and Kerry would have offered some specifics. Anybody remember those daily press briefings during Desert Storm when reporters would ask for explicit details about military strategy. One night, Saturday Night Live did a parody; I couldn't tell that it was a sketch until the Baghdad reporter asked, "How many troops do you have, and may I count them?" People want to know how the war will be won so that they will have something substantial on which to base their faith. But the Prez can't give away the playbook.

Pejman Yousefzadeh recently posted on Democrat claims that a second Bush term could make the US more vulnerable to nuclear attack. These are the same people who are attacking Dick Cheney for allegedly stating that a Kerry administration would make the US more vulnerable to terrorist attack. I wrote this in comments:

Cheney was less blunt than I would have been, which is one reason why I'm not in politics. After China and North Korea got hold of nuclear technology under Clinton through aboveboard means (sale of missile-guidance-capable Loral computers to one and warhead-capable reaxctors [sic] to the other), I'm terrified to think of what technology exchange Kerry is capable of.

In the debate, Kerry confirmed my fears:

With respect to Iran, the British, French, and Germans were the ones who initiated an effort without the United States, regrettably, to begin to try to move to curb the nuclear possibilities in Iran. I believe we could have done better.

I think the United States should have offered the opportunity to provide the nuclear fuel, test them, see whether or not they were actually looking for it for peaceful purposes. If they weren't willing to work a deal, then we could have put sanctions together.

NewsMax wishes Jim Lehrer had asked some tough questions of more than just one of the candidates:

But there were no queries to Sen. Kerry about his long Senate record of voting against defense appropriations, or his sponsorship of a bill to cut CIA funding by $6 billion a year after terrorists struck the World Trade Center in 1993, or Kerry's support of the nuclear freeze movement during the height of the Cold War.

Kerry wasn't asked why he teamed up with Jane Fonda to protest the Vietnam War while his band of brothers were still on the battlefield, or why he met with enemy leaders in Paris, or why he accused fellow soldiers of being "monsters" and "war criminals."

National Review Online has a lineup of sound bites:

Jim Robbins: "One thing that greatly annoyed me during the debate was when Senator Kerry was dissing our Coalition partners in Iraq in his usual way. The President said, "You forgot Poland" and Kerry smirked. His contempt was clearly visible. Just more evidence he is not up to the job of diplomat in chief."

Rich Lowry: "I lost count, but I think Kerry mentioned his Vietnam service in some form about six times last night. And this is the new less Vietnam-obsessed Kerry!"

John Hillen: "Bush shouldn't have taken the bait by guaranteeing and all-volunteer force in his closing comments. Like responding to an urban myth."

Kate O'Beirne: "Not a single question about Kerry's 20 years in the Senate - HIS record on foreign policy, in other words. Kerry wants to forget about them (except for all the neat foreign leaders he got to meet), but on what grounds is Lehrer ignoring them?"

John Derbyshire: "DID I REALLY HEAR THIS? Lehrer: Senator, do you favor bilateral talks with North Korea, or multilateral? Kerry: Both. ..." [see commentary below - AKH]

Cliff May: "Wouldn't it be great if Kerry suddenly broke into French? 'Mon amie, M. Bush, il est idiot! Et quell est la realite?' To which Bush would respond: 'El Senor no sabe nada! El es un asno!'" [ach! - AKH]

John Derbyshire: "A reader who has TOTALLY the wrong attitude: 'If Kerry's offering to invade Mexico I may reconsider my vote.'" [bummer - AKH]

Cliff May: "The 'Pottery Barn Rule' is not 'if you break it, you fix it.' It's 'if you break it, you own it.'...We can't guarantee that we will see Iraq transformed into Switzerland. We can guarantee – I hope – that we'll kill every Jihadi and Ba'athist terrorist in Iraq, and that we'll give the millions decent Iraqis a fighting chance to build themselves a decent society, an unbroken society. They've never had an unbroken society in their lives."

John Hillen: "Nice restraint. Took Kerry til 9:12 to remind us he’s been in combat."

The dialogue addressed by Derbyshire actually went like this:

LEHRER: I want to make sure -- yes, sir -- but in this one minute, I want to make sure that we understand -- the people watching understand the differences between the two of you on this.

You want to continue the multinational talks, correct?

BUSH: Right.

LEHRER: And you're willing to do it...

KERRY: Both. I want bilateral talks which put all of the issues, from the armistice of 1952, the economic issues, the human rights issues, the artillery disposal issues, the DMZ issues and the nuclear issues on the table.

LEHRER: And you're opposed to that. Right?

BUSH: The minute we have bilateral talks, the six-party talks will unwind. That's exactly what Kim Jong Il wants. And by the way, the breach on the agreement was not through plutonium. The breach on the agreement is highly enriched uranium. That's what we caught him doing. That's where he was breaking the agreement

One more note: I don't recall which blogger noticed this, but Kerry appears to state that Osama bin Laden is in Afghanistan. Here's the related text (emphasis mine):

But we also have to be smart, Jim. And smart means not diverting your attention from the real war on terror in Afghanistan against Osama bin Laden and taking if off to Iraq where the 9/11 Commission confirms there was no connection to 9/11 itself and Saddam Hussein, and where the reason for going to war was weapons of mass destruction, not the removal of Saddam Hussein.

Update: It was Dan Drezner who noticed.: "Was it just me, or did Kerry just assert that Osama bin Laden was definitely in Afghanistan?" Something else caught his ear:

Kerry's rejoinder about the number of states further ahead in the WMD program is good, but a factual question -- are there really thirty states with active WMD programs? UPDATE: Here's the precise quote: "Thirty-five to forty countries in the world had a greater capability of making weapons at the moment the president invaded than Saddam Hussein." That sounds way off to me, but I'll need to fact-check.

No fact check just yet, but let me raise this question: Which countries? Democratic rule-of-law nations, or dictatorial hellholes?

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