(Photo moved to MORE)
The Princess and The Fairy
with their parents
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Haydon and Molly Katherine stand at the door,
ready to go pumpkin shopping
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I've spent many hours in the last weeks posting at the DetNews site, and it's been hard work that I've put other work aside to do. Yesterday, with the DetNews non-endorsement, my energy just flattened. I could counter a real argument, even an endorsement of Kerry, but this feels like they burned down both houses out of petulance. Whatever meager contribution I was making feels swept away. Anyway, I have to step away from online and do other tasks for a bit, regain some impetus and energy. Any encouragement is welcome. And I'll be back.
[Posted on DetNews: Think this could be my last post for them?]
The Detroit News editorial board has chosen to stay home this election day.
How thoroughly and reprehensibly pathetic.
If I lived in Michigan I'd cancel my subscription.
The newspaper today decided to vote "none of the above" in the presidential election. After I read the introduction to their editorial I didn't bother to read the rest closely, because it doesn't matter. It's bloviating. It's refusing responsibility. It's just... well, I'm nearly speechless, and I suspect you know already how much I like to talk.
The truth is, either Bush or Kerry will be president for four years. That fact doesn't change just because you may find neither candidate particularly compelling. There are genuine differences in how the two men would lead the country, differences that matter. We as voters have to make a very hard decision this year. Quite frankly, I don't agree with all of Bush's policies myself. But I have the courage and commitment to this country and my fellow citizens to make a decision, not pout and stay home. And I find Bush the far better candidate, for all his admitted flaws. That's why I'm spending hours writing for this blog, for zero pay - because I think the election is extremely important. You'd think people who get paid to have an opinion could at least form one.
It doesn't matter how pretty the Detroit News editorial board tries to make their decision, how responsible, how noble to raise their collective skirts above the dirt of politics and tiptoe out of the arena. That "We are unwilling to settle for less" is a coward's way out. You don't get to go back and choose another candidate. The simple fact is that they are proving themselves to be inadequate for the task of leading opinion in Michigan. It isn't nobility, it's either incompetence or cowardice.
I certainly hope that all the readers of the Detroit News rise above the inadequacies of the Detroit News editorial board and make the choice to vote on November 2, for whichever candidate you think is best. At least have the courage and conviction to make a choice and stand up for your choice. It may not be Bush or Kerry, and if not, more power to you. Just make sure you vote.
As for the Detroit News editorial board, and its writers: You have collectively and individually lost whatever right you had to criticize whichever administration is at the helm come January. Any positions one of your writers takes on administration policies will be hypocrisy, unless that writer unwimped and actually supported a candidate publicly. I hope you plan to stick to state and local issues for the next four years.
[Posted at DetNews: Sat, Oct 23, 2004 at 3:11 PM. Normally I wouldn't put this post on COTB, since it's pretty much an internal thing at DetNews. But I nearly lost it (in a "laughing out loud" way) when I received an email from a DetNews reader pointing out that two of the liberal bloggers there are married to each other. As I explain below, that doesn't matter to me in principle, but two other liberal bloggers had gotten all righteous on me about my supposed "connections" on and off the blog, some kind of right-wing conspiracy they were claiming, while their own fellow liberals were married. And the married couple didn't speak up about it either. Pretty funny.]
Recently John Needham made a big deal of the fact that my home blog is linked on a blog I linked from the DetNews blog. I didn't respond because, well, my blog is linked hundreds of places and I'm not going to avoid them because of that. My commentary and information stand on their own.
Before then, Libby Spencer made a big deal of a supposed "nexus between John, Susanna and Scott that they haven't seen fit to disclose". She spent quite a bit of time on it. I thought it silly, but since it mattered to her I made full disclosure.
This site is brought to you by Michigan-based freelance writer Paul Ruschmann, a beer enthusiast who's traveled to many of the world's "hop spots." ...Beerfestivals.org wouldn't be possible without the efforts of Maryanne Nasiatka, who's spent many hours designing the site and still more time--not to mention can after can of fairy dust--solving those technical problems that never seem to go away. In real life, Maryanne is Paul's wife and valued partner in all of life's endeavors.
For further confirmation that it's the same people who blog here, you can go to their personal sites - Paul and Maryanne - linked from the Beer Festival site, where they both mention blogging at DetNews. They do not mention each other by name as a spouse on their personal sites, although Maryanne is linked as the designer of Paul's blog, and he also links the Beer Festival site where the above quote is located.
Cozy, yes? I suppose "all of life's endeavors" includes blogging at the DetNews. At the very least we know from John and Libby's posts that they didn't know about the Ruschmann/Nasiatka "nexus". Actually, I suppose it's possible they did, but I have no reason to think so.
And does it really matter? No, but then I didn't think it was important that I linked a blog who linked me, or that I personally know Scott Ott and his family. It wouldn't matter to me if all the liberal bloggers here got together for a weekly strategy meeting. It wouldn't change the fact that they all draw their views from the same well of poisonous philosophy. What matters is straightforward presentation of information posted along with honest commentary, so that you, the readers, can evaluate for yourself what's true.
It's just amusing that Libby and John went hysterical on me for those connections while Paul and Maryanne sat (maybe in the same room?) with zipped lips, not defending me at all or in any way indicating that maybe, just maybe, it was a tempest in a teapot. Perhaps you should remember that when they charge dishonesty in others.
[And thanks to the reader who sent me the links. I got a good chuckle out of it.]
[Posted on DetNews: Fri, Oct 22, 2004 at 4:28 PM ]
For evidence of a Saddam-Al Qaeda link, we have to look no further than Bill Clinton's official pronouncements as president:
The Clinton administration talked about firm evidence linking Saddam Hussein's regime to Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network years before President Bush made the same statements...
In fact, during President Clinton's eight years in office, there were at least two official pronouncements of an alarming alliance between Baghdad and al Qaeda. One came from William S. Cohen, Mr. Clinton's defense secretary. He cited an al Qaeda-Baghdad link to justify the bombing of a pharmaceutical plant in Sudan...
The other pronouncement is contained in a Justice Department indictment on Nov. 4, 1998, charging bin Laden with murder in the bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa.
The indictment disclosed a close relationship between al Qaeda and Saddam's regime, which included specialists on chemical weapons and all types of bombs, including truck bombs, a favorite weapon of terrorists.
Bizarre that anyone believed it, isn't it?
[Posted on DetNews blog: Fri, Oct 22, 2004 at 3:48 PM]
Charles Duelfer, who actually wrote the Duelfer Report, believes that not only was Saddam still intent on getting WMDs, but that the sanctions were weakening because of the corrupted UN Oil for Food program. In his words:
When Sen. Jack Reed (D., R.I.) said at a hearing last week that "it seemed the sanctions were working," chief U.S. weapons inspector Charles Duelfer demurred.
"It depends on what you mean... by 'working,' " he said.
Duelfer told senators that sanctions not only took a heavy toll on ordinary Iraqis but were weakened by corruption and could not have been sustained against Hussein for long. As soon as they were removed, he contended, Hussein probably would have resumed his pursuit of weapons of mass destruction.
From a transcript of a CNN interview with Secretary of State Colin Powell:
SECRETARY POWELL: I think the report shows that Saddam Hussein was doing everything he could to get out of the sanctions and he was basically being successful. And if he ever got out from under those sanctions- as we have said all along- the intention that he had and the capability that he had would have put him back in the business of developing weapons of mass destruction. Mr. Duelfer did not find any stockpiles. We thought there were stockpiles; that was the judgment of the intelligence community of the United States and of many other nations, who acted on that intelligence for a number of years.
But it turns out there were no active stockpiles that anyone's been able to find yet, but that does not take away from the fact that his intention was clear, the capability -that he was going to make sure stayed intact- was there. And if anybody wants to bet that when he finally got out from under those sanctions, he would not have returned to the development of weapons of mass destruction and their production, that's a bet that the president of the United States was not going to take, nor was Prime Minster Howard or Prime Minister Blair or Mr. Berlusconi or Mr. Aznar and so many other leaders who came together to get rid of this despotic regime. It's not a question we have to worry about any more. Saddam Hussein is in jail, where he belongs.
John Kerry has essentially admitted that if he had been president during this time period, Saddam Hussein would still be in power ("the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time"). Saddam would still be gaming the system, with the generous collaboration of our "ally" France and others. The sanctions would eventually have failed. Saddam's intent and desire for WMDs are firmly established in the Duelfer report, as is the fact that he was working hard to get out from under the sanctions and was keeping intact the instrastructure to reestablish his WMD program. Would we require a mushroom cloud rising over some urban horizon before we believed he was capable of it?
[Posted on DetNews blog: Fri, Oct 22, 2004 at 9:37 AM]
The Kerry campaign and its minions have been scaring college students with the specter of the draft as a cynical campaign tool, in the face of repeated assertions by Bush that it would not happen. It's even overflowed into this blog. The only bills in Congress addressing the draft (House) (Senate) were put forward precisely to raise this specter - by Democrats. Now Kerry backpedals in an actual interview with an actual college student; we'll see if the Old Media carry water for Kerry on this in the same way they have in saying the draft is probable.
From The Cincinnati Enquirer:
DRAFT DAY: Nick Juliano, a senior journalism major at Ohio University in Athens, may be the only student journalist in the country to get an interview with either presidential candidate, campaign officials say.
Juliano sat down with Sen. John Kerry aboard his campaign bus traveling through southern Ohio Saturday. He pressed Kerry on an issue of particular interest to college students: the draft.
Under questioning from Juliano, Kerry backed off his recent assertion that there was a "great potential" that President Bush would reinstate the draft if re-elected, but denied that he was exploiting the fear of young men.
"What I said was it's possible because I don't know what he's going to do," Kerry said in an interview published in Monday's Ohio University Post.
"It's not fear; it's a legitimate question mark."
So we go from "great potential" to "I dunno", and it's not a scare tactic? It's okay to present a "legitimate question mark" as almost a done deal? Nice, Mr. Kerry. Very presidential of you.
Oh, and you might find this interesting:
Two-thirds of all Kerry voters say a draft is at least fairly likely if Bush wins next month, while just 13 percent of the president's supporters agree. But those partisan differences largely vanish when voters were asked about Kerry: Roughly equal shares of the Democratic nominee's voters (26 percent) and Bush supporters (30 percent) believe a draft is possible if Kerry is elected.
Well, Kerry is talking about the draft more...
[Posted at DetNews blog: Fri, Oct 22, 2004 at 8:54 AM]
Michael Barone is a well-respected journalist who writes a regular column in the U.S. News and World Report news magazine. His most recent column looks at the polls over the last several months, referring in part to this analysis by blogger Steven Den Beste, and finds that Bush has been consistently climbing, over time, while Kerry has essentially stagnated. He connects the two candidates' low overall poll numbers to a general disgust with politics in this country.
It's an interesting analysis, and you should read it. But this one section is especially right on point:
As a general proposition, you expect an incumbent's standing to change less, because voters already know much more about him than about his opponent. But that hasn't happened this time...
My tentative explanation is this. Bush's most effective opposition this year has come not from Kerry and the Democrats but from Old Media, the New York Times and the news pages of the Washington Post, along with the broadcast networks ABC, CBS, and NBC. Old Media gave very heavy coverage to stories that tended to hurt Bushâ€”violence in Iraq, Abu Ghraib, the false charges of Richard Clarke and Joseph Wilson, etc. And during the first eight months of the year Bush did a poor job of making his case.
Then, suddenly, that case was made with maximum effectiveness at the Republican National Convention in New York... Bush was able to get his message out unmediated by Old Media.
The Internet is a great antidote to the Old Media's previous near-monopoly on both framing the debate and providing their own world view of what is "news". We all, regardless of party or political position, should read the news with care and use more than the media Barone lists as our sources. It's not that journalists for the most part deliberately set out to present a wrong picture, but that their own biases, the biases of their employers (the media organization) and the "hot news" imperative of their business create filters that often distort the final overall product (the "news of the day").
Barone also makes this point, which is pertinent to the jabbering about the economy that fills this blog and also proves in large measure the point above:
George W. Bush is not running this year as an incumbent in a time of apparent peace or, in public perceptions, a time of apparent prosperity. (Actually, the economic numbers are about where they were when Bill Clinton was running for re-election in 1996, but Old Media consistently report economic news more pessimistically when Republicans hold the White House than when Democrats do.)
Something to think about.
Did you know that I'm related to both John Kerry and Teresa Ketchup Kerry? True! Also, Kofi Annan, Saddam Hussein, Mohammed and Jesus Christ. Not to mention Hitler and Ariel Sharon! Blood related.
It's the Noah factor.
You see, a long long time ago, God got really angry. He put a bunch of animals and eight humans, all related, into a very big boat and drowned every other breathing thing on the planet. The humans were a man named Noah, his wife, their three sons and daughters-in-law. After the waters went away, Noah and family left the boat and started having babies. After a while, there were people all over the earth again. And every single one of them, if you take it back far enough, are related to each other by blood. They're all children of Noah, several (or hundreds of) times removed.
So you see, being a relative of someone doesn't mean that you know much if anything more about them than anyone else. A mother, a child, a spouse, those people usually have some intimate insight, from their own perspective. But once you get much outside those circles, there's not much association to go on unless you actually can prove you spent time with that person. Being blood relatives means... well... nothing, on its own, unless there's DNA involved.
So it's quite funny that a group of Bush's cousins have actually set up a website asking you not to vote for their cousin George, as if their opinion means anything at all. They even have a cute little tagline, "Blood is thicker than oil". And a minor nitpick, since I took the time a few years ago to figure out precisely how to calculate your kinship to someone: They're not second cousins to President Bush. They're second cousins to his father, GHW Bush. They're second cousins once removed to GW.
[Posted on DetNews blog: Thu, Oct 21, 2004 at 1:08 PM]
Earlier I reported that a Brazilian general heading up a UN detail in Haiti stated that John Kerry's position on Aristide had contributed to a recent uptick in violence that had resulted in deaths there. The general has now restated:
After the conversation with the BBC, the Foreign Ministry [Itamaraty is the name of the building that houses the Foreign Ministry in Brasilia] released a note with statements by Heleno. "As a soldier I'm absolutely apolitical. I'm sorry my words were misinterpreted and misunderstood. They were taken out of the context in which they were said. I didn't intend to interfere with the internal politics of any member state of the United Nations. My statements were mine and don't reflect the position of Brazil or the United Nations", the message said.
The site I got this from links to the article quoted above, but the article is in Portuguese. The blogger translates it, and given that he links the original article I find it unlikely that the translation is inaccurate. So add this information to your understanding of my earlier post. It's not a recantation, but then it's not support for the earlier comment either. Did his bosses tell him he needed to back up? I can't tell, and we can't know. Certainly as a correction, it falls far short of categorically denying the earlier impression. But it is a correction.
Any time I learn that something I've reported here has been proven incorrect or if there is additional information that substantially changes the impression left by the report, I'll update you so you can assess the new information.
[Posted on DetNews blog: Thu, Oct 21, 2004 at 12:20 PM]
The GayPatriot, a self-described gay conservative, may have uncovered a bombshell:
GayPatriot Exclusive: Log Cabin GOP Political Director Unmasked As Former Edwards Campaign Operative In a major blow to the credibility of the national Log Cabin Republicans organization as a moderate voice in the Republican Party, newly discovered documents reveal that the person who manages the national Log Cabin political operation is, in fact, a long-time operative for the John Edwards Democratic Presidential campaign.
According to documents faxed to me yesterday (detailed in the section below), and corroborated by multiple sources, Log Cabin Political Director Christopher Barron headed up volunteer efforts for the John Edwards for President campaign for the Washington, DC area. Barron was hired by new Executive Director Patrick Guerriero as part of his management team. According to three different sources, Barron has separately confirmed his connection to the Edwards campaign in the past...
In the other document, also from John Edwards' Presidential campaign's volunteer website and dated August 9, 2004, Barron is identified as "attorney, long time Edwards supporter (volunteered on his campaign for Senate in 1998)." That, of course, means that Barron's association with John Edwards and his campaign staff dates back to the hard-fought Senate race which resulted in the defeat of incumbent Republican US Senator Lauch Faircloth.
All mention of Chris Barron and his comments on the John Edwards for President website mysteriously vanished just days before the start of the 2004 Republican National Convention...
Log Cabin's recent "non-endorsement" of President Bush based on "principle" is now also called into question. Is it possible that coordination between LCR and the Kerry-Edwards campaign intentionally engineered the "non-endorsement" as a way to suppress the votes this year of the supposed one million gay voters for Bush in 2000?"
Links in the original. I invite you to read it for yourself, check his documentation and decide. I've read The GayPatriot several times in the past, and found him to be reasonable and not inclined to unsubstantiated partisan attacks. It will be interesting to see if the mainstream media pick up on this at all. Without their power to force the issue, the investigation into this is unlikely to go much beyond GayPatriot. And the mainstream media isn't much interested in John Kerry losing (just read this transcript, including a quote from Evan Thomas, Assistant Managing Editor of Newsweek: "The media, I think, wants Kerry to win... They're going to portray Kerry and Edwards as being young and dynamic and optimistic and there's going to be this glow about them, collective glow, the two of them, that's going to be worth maybe 15 points.")
Here is a link to the Log Cabin Republicans. Obviously I disagree with them about "gay rights" issues, but I encourage you to review their site. Just keep in mind GayPatriot's comments. Also, if you're interested in the thoughts of gay conservatives, I encourage you to check out the links on GayPatriot's blogroll to the left of the posts on his site.
You also may be interested to learn that "Black Gay Republicans Break with Log Cabin Republicans, Endorse Bush".
[Original GayPatroit link found via Vodkapundit]
[Posted on DetNews blog: Thu, Oct 21, 2004 at 10:31 AM]
Polling is a touchy thing; a lot rides on who you ask and how you word your questions. When I reviewed the article on the DetNews poll this morning, I noticed that while the graphic with the article included the actual question asked (a good thing), it didn't tell you who, by party, they talked to (in my judgment, a bad thing). So I called the Detroit News this morning and found out the numbers on those interviewed by the Mitchell poll. As you all know (and I didn't, until I called the DetNews), Michigan voters don't register by party, so this isn't "registered party voters" - the voters contacted were asked which party they considered themselves to be affiliated with, and this is the result of that self-identification.
And the result is: 40% of those interviewed said they are Democrat, 42% said they are Republican, 12% said they are independents, and the remaining 6% fell into the "other/don't know/refused" category. That says to me that the poll was fairly even, although stacked a little toward the Republicans. Of course I'm happy with the way it came out - it's always nice to see Bush ahead. But I would adjust it down by the percentage of Dem vs Republicans, making it a 45.9% Bush/43.7% Kerry race, which is more in line with some other polls in terms of what voters across the country are saying. Is that appropriate? Well, some Dems will vote for Bush, some Republicans may vote for Kerry, but I think it will even out, so I believe that assessment is fair.
Polls can have a huge impact on how voters feel about their candidate, to the extent that I think pollsters have an obligation to be completely transparent about their methodology, including the party affiliation of who they talk to. I don't think not revealing it is a sign the poll is not on the up and up, but just not realizing how important a small difference can be. There's been speculation that some polls in September that showed Bush up so high actually oversampled Republicans, and then when Bush's polls dropped at the beginning of October, those polls were oversampling Democrats. That could well mean that neither the increase nor the drop was real, but a creation of polling method. The effect of that would be to create an image of Kerry surging and Bush falling when in fact, again, neither is true. Only when the polls are transparent about methodology can the average person decide whether it's a fair represention.
Jim Geraghty, who writes KerrySpot for The National Review, also made the point in a recent post on polling:
In short, it's important to check the polls with even greater scrutiny in the coming days. How large is the sample size? Over how many days was the poll conducted? Was it on a weekend? (Whether Democrats do better on weekends is hotly contested, but it seems likely that a certain segment of the voting population is less likely to answer the phone on weekends.) What's the breakdown by party affiliation in the poll? Does this split seem out of whack with what one would assume the electoral breakdown at large to be? (The results from the last election had Democrats at about 35 percent and Republicans at about 31-32 percent; Independents made up the rest. Have the electorate's party-affiliation proportions changed since 2000? Sure, but probably not by more than three or four points.) And did this party breakdown differ greatly from the one in the last poll conducted by this organization? Did the results change greatly from the group's last poll, and does that change seem plausible in light of campaign events?
Geraghty also points to this excellent discussion of polling and polling trends, which focuses on the likely voting habits of all those new voters. I recommend it to you, regardless of your party affiliation.
I'm encouraged by the DetNews poll, and I think with good reason. But I think followers of both parties need to be informed and cautious about the polls they hang their hopes on.
UPDATE 10:50 a.m. CT: Interesting assessment about whether undecideds actually break for the challenger:
...[T]he "break towards the challenger" pattern was very weak in 2002. An MSNBC/Zogby Poll conducted of 500 likely Florida voters over Oct. 8-10, 2002 (about as far out from election day as we are now) in the course of the Florida statewide race for governor of that state revealed a statistical dead heat: Incumbent Jeb Bush (Republican) had 48% of likely voters behind him, Bill McBride (Democrat) pulled 45% and 7% of likely voters said they were "Not Sure." The actual election wasn't even close. Gov. Jeb Bush trounced lawyer Bill McBride, 56% to 43%. Of course, Florida wasn't the only example of a late swing towards Republicans and incumbents in the 2002 election - a swing that went essentially undetected by almost all pollsters.
Sometimes the last minute 2002 swing was towards a Democratic incumbent. On the very eve of her 2002 re-election polls showed Democratic Louisiana Senator Landrieu in a dead heat with her challenger Terrell - with Senator Landrieu not having broken 50% in the polls in any consistent manner. In fact, Senator Landrieu won re-election with 624,214 votes, or 52%, and Terrell had 587,423, or 48%. The remaining "undecideds" did not break against the better-known incumbent in that case, either - even though she had not broken the supposedly magic 50% barrier in the polls.
UPDATE II: Powerline blog doubts the Michigan DetNews poll.
UPDATE III: A KerrySpot link to this post at DetNews! Very cool.
[Posted on DetNews blog: Thu, Oct 21, 2004 at 9:23 AM]
The new DetNews poll on the likely voting outcomes on November 2 includes this information:
The survey also shows state ballot Proposal 2 defining marriage as strictly between one man and one woman winning easily, with a 67 percent to 24 percent margin.
John Kerry officially supports civil unions for gays, and the Dems mostly trumpet states rights when it comes to gay marriage - that is, let the states choose, which is what Michigan is doing. However, Teresa Heinz Kerry signals a different tone:
If her husband is elected president, Teresa Heinz Kerry "pledges to make gay tolerance a centerpiece of her First Lady duties," an online media company reported.
She also had this to say in her talk to a meeting of the Democratic National Conventionâ€™s gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender caucus:
"Iâ€™m grateful to you because you symbolize family,â€ť she said. â€śYou symbolize strength and hope. You symbolize resistance. And you symbolize tolerance. For that we are all thankful to you."
You symbolize family. Does that sound like someone who is "against gay marriage", which is Heinz Kerry's official position, one that PlanetOut's Chris Bull is very careful to reiterate? Just yesterday, judges in John Kerry's home state of Massachusetts "cleared the way for lesbian and gay couples in the state to marry, ruling Tuesday that government attorneys 'failed to identify any constitutionally adequate reason" to deny them the right.'" Does that sound like what a "tolerance for gays" First Lady agenda might have as a goal?
First Ladies traditionally select one issue to focus their efforts on during their husband's administration. For Laura Bush, a teacher and librarian (despite Heinz Kerry's condescending "she's never held a real job" comment), the focus has been on literacy, especially the importance of reading. For Heinz Kerry, it will be tolerance of gays.
I am neither a gay-basher or a homophobe, two charges liberally thrown at anyone who speaks out against the gay agenda (and wait for it to happen on this blog too). What I am is someone who believes what the Bible says about it, which is that homosexual behavior is wrong. I also believe that sanctioning gay marriage is wrong for this nation, a belief I share with the majority of polled voters in Michigan. That doesn't mean that I think gays should be the objects of hate or violence. I don't think they should. Anyone who harms another person maliciously, whether or not the reason is that person's sexual preference, should be prosecuted aggressively. And just the fact that I feel the need to pro-actively defend myself against accusations of gay-bashing tells you how effective the victim lobby of the liberal gay agenda has been - in their minds, the only two options are: Support gays. Hate gays. And the truth is, there's a middle ground: Love the sinner, hate the sin.
Teresa Heinz Kerry: A wanna-be first lady who "pledges to make gay tolerance a centerpiece of her First Lady duties".
Teresa Heinz Kerry: Wrong for Michigan.
[Posted on DetNews blog: Thu, Oct 21, 2004 at 12:45 AM]
The kids say... Bush!
Scholastic, the global children's publishing and media company, today announced the results of the 2004 Scholastic Election Poll, an educational activity that gives children too young to go to the polls themselves the opportunity to participate in the political process. More than half a million students in first through eighth grades from across the country participated in the poll, choosing George W. Bush as the next President of the United States.
Since 1940, Scholastic Classroom Magazines have given students the opportunity to cast their vote for president in the Scholastic Election Poll (online voting was added in 2000). In every election, but two, the outcome of the Scholastic Election Poll mirrored the outcome of the general election. The exceptions were in 1948 when students chose Thomas E. Dewey over Harry S. Truman and in 1960 when more students voted for Richard M. Nixon than John F. Kennedy. In 2000, student voters chose George W. Bush, mirroring the Electoral College result but not the result of the popular vote.
In the 2004 Scholastic Election Poll, George W. Bush received 52 percent of the votes and the Democratic contender, John F. Kerry, received 47 percent. Rounding out the vote, 1 percent of students voted for other candidates.
This is in direct contrast to the results at Nickelodeon, reported here earlier. Scholastic has been right in all but two elections in over 60 years; Nickelodeon has been right for four presidential election cycles. Scholastic has over 500,000 votes; Nickelodeon has nearly 400,000. Scholastic involves only children through the eighth grade, while Nickelodeon includes teens. That could be the difference.
I guess we'll find out in November which is the true voice of the children.
[Posted on DetNews blog: Wed, Oct 20, 2004 at 11:18 PM]
The Democrats - including the liberals blogging here - repeatedly talk about how horrific the Republicans are in their campaign tactics. Perhaps it would be instructive to look at a couple of unequivocably liberal tactics.
First, there's the charming site VotePair, with the mission of "uniting progressives through strategic voting". And what is strategic voting? It's vote swapping. Here's how it works: You live in a swing state - Michigan, for example - that has third party candidates on the ballot, and you want to vote for, say, Nader. You dislike Kerry, but you detest GW. I live in Alabama, which is a lock for Bush, but I have a burning fire of need for Kerry to win. I'm nearly expiring from depression that I can't vote for Kerry where it matters. VotePair to the rescue! You sign up and agree to vote for Kerry in Michigan, where it will matter, and you are matched to me, who agrees to vote for Nader in Alabama. That way, your guy gets his vote, and you and I BOTH get to stick it to GW! Clever, yes? And oh so ethical.
Pause for a moment to consider what kind of reception this would get if the Republicans were doing something similar. (pause) Yes, exactly - the Dems would come unglued, and you'd hear wild hysteria about disenfranchisement and stealing the election and all that. We'll see if any Dems actually do denounce it.
And then there's that fine New York liberal publication, The Village Voice. I actually read it sometimes, especially anything by Nat Hentoff. But right now, headlining an article about Bush, they have a cartoon of Bush as a vampire pulling back from a Statue of Liberty with two bloody holes in her throat. The headline: Sucking Democracy Dry: Bush will do anything to win. I haven't read the article; I think I can tell the tone without that. Free speech? Of course. Ugly? Very. Appropriate? Not in my judgment.
The Bush cartoon reminds me forcibly of the truly noxious hatefulness of M. Kahil, the late cartoonist for The Arab News. Here's an example of his work. (If you want more, just google him. I won't link any more.) The Village Voice cartoon reveals just that kind of rabid, unreasoning hate.
I'm glad the liberals are keeping the campaign ethical this year, with only honest airing of the issues.
When I worked for the Jersey City Police Department in Jersey City, part of my job involved managing a grant project in a section of the city's West District, which was bounded on one side by Bergen Avenue. One of the streets in the grant area was Fairmount. This was in today's Jersey Journal:
A Jersey City clothing store owner was gunned down in broad daylight near McGinley Square yesterday afternoon and died less than three hours later after emergency surgery, police said.
Roy Fluellen, 40, of Highland Avenue, was walking on Bergen Avenue near the corner of Fairmount Avenue at about 2 p.m. when a man apparently walked up behind him and shot him in the back at least once, police said.
I've been through there many times, although I never met Fluellen nor entered his store. I can see the area in my mind, though. There's no discussion in the article about what the cause was. I'll have to track it to see.
It's just scary. And another reason I'm glad to be in Alabama.
They're not endorsing either candidate.
I'm actually somewhat amused by this, but also shaking my head a little. Sometimes you have to make a choice even if neither side trips your trigger. It's called "the lesser of two evils", if you want to go that far. And if there is a lesser, you'd better (as another article said) hold your nose and vote for that one, because otherwise there's a good chance the greater evil will win the day.
[Posted on Detroit News weblog on Sunday, Oct. 17]
The commander of the UN peacekeepers in Haiti has linked a recent upsurge in violence there to comments made by the US presidential candidate, John Kerry.
Earlier this year Mr Kerry said that as president he would have sent American troops to protect Jean-Bertrand Aristide who was ousted from power in February.
The Brazilian UN general, Augusto Heleno, said Mr Kerry's comments had offered "hope" to Aristide supporters. Much of the recent unrest has centred on areas loyal to Mr Aristide.
More than 50 people have died over the past fortnight.
In case President Bush loses the election there would be a massive upsurge of violence, in the belief, rightly or wrongly, by the enemy, that the new leadership is more likely to â€ścut and runâ€ť to use the phrase frequently used by some of my readers. And they would try to inflict as heavy casualties as possible on the American forces to bring about a retreat and withdrawal.
Evidence seems to be building up that just the possibility that Kerry will win is heartening terrorists. And it's not just Iraq.
UPDATE 10:30 p.m. CT: More details on Kerry's Haiti diplomacy in The Wall Street Journal. The link comes from this post by writer, journalist and television commentator Michelle Malkin, who has lots more of interest on her blog.
[Posted on the Detroit News Election 2004 weblog at 5:15 p.m.]
There are more than 100,000 Jews in Michigan, enough to form a solid voting block come November 2. The numbers are not as big as in Florida, where both candidates are heavily campaigning in Jewish communities, but still significant. And it's a vocal group - just visit Jews for George, a "grassroots political movement of Michigan Jews, comprised of Republicans, Democrats and Independents, dedicated to securing the Jewish vote in our state." And why? "We believe The President's record on Israel, Homeland Security, and the War on Terror demands the full support of Michigan's Jewish community."
They aren't alone. The "Jewish liberal New Yorker" mentioned in the title wrote her reasoning eloquently on The Command Post, a blog featuring breaking news and political commentary:
When I pull the lever on November 2nd for George Bush, I will be voting with more passionate conviction than I have ever mustered in a lifetime of voting Democratic.
My motive is simple: I believe the moral imperative of our time is to fully prosecute the War on Terror. As a Jew, I believe this sacred fight embodies the deepest Jewish values, so eloquently expressed by the ancient sage Hillel: â€śIf I am not for myself, who will be for me? But if I am only for myself, what am I? And if not now, when?â€ť
Let me explain.
And she does; I encourage you to read it. She is joined by Judith Weiss, a blogger on Kesher Talk who does a round-up on the (often successful) wooing of Jews in this election cycle; here she quotes an article from Florida:
With 22 days until Election Day, Democrats are scrambling to undo gains Republicans have made among Jews. "It's a very big problem," said Sylvia Wolfe-Herman, a vice president of the United South County Democratic Club. "We no longer have the bloc vote."
"The Republicans have made major inroads with respect to Jewish voters," [Charles Glick] told Democrats at a Palm Beach County party meeting last week. "If they get 40 percent, it would be devastating. If they get 30 percent they could win the election. We need to keep them under 20 percent.'"
It seems they may be fighting a losing battle. No less than Martin Peretz, the editor-in-chief of the liberal opinion magazine The New Republic, explained in this LA Times column (no-registration version here) that he will be voting for Bush - despite his open support and friendship with Al Gore in 2000:
Like many American Jews, I was brought up to believe that if I pulled the Republican lever on the election machine my right hand would wither and, as the Psalmist says, my tongue would cleave to the roof of my mouth.
According to the Bible, of course, these are the feared consequences of forgetting Jerusalem. Now although there are many reasons one might want to vote for John F. Kerry, remembering Jerusalem â€” remembering to stand up for the state of Israel â€” is not among them...
Save for the U.S. veto in the Security Council, Israel loses every struggle at the U.N. against lopsided majorities. In the General Assembly and the Human Rights Commission, Muslim states trade their votes to protect aggressors and tyrannies from censure in exchange for libels against the Jewish state. The body's bloated and dishonest bureaucracies are no better, as evidenced most recently by the head of the U.N. Palestine refugee organization, who defended having Hamas militants on his staff.
I've searched to find one time when Kerry â€” even candidate Kerry â€” criticized a U.N. action or statement against Israel. I've come up empty. Nor has he defended Israel against the European Union's continuous hectoring...
[According to "the dovish Israeli journalist Aluf Benn", t]he Bush administration "has been far more involved than any previous administrations in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and has courageously presented the two sides with practical objectives and demands."
...[W]ith his understanding of â€” and sympathy for â€” the Israeli predicament, Bush has coaxed from Sharon an agreement to withdraw unilaterally from all the Gaza settlements and from four in the West Bank â€” something even left-wing governments, as Benn puts it, "were afraid to do."
Kerry, meanwhile, appears ready to formulaically follow the failed precepts of the past, complete with photo ops and multiple interlocutors. This is a road map to nowhere."
It's something all voters should think about.
I'm feeling like I'm neglecting this blog :(. But I'm getting worn out blogging on DetNews - so many liberal ideas to shoot down, so little time. I've decided to post some of my DetNews posts here too, after a bit of a lag from when they're posted there. I suspect many of you aren't moving on to them (shame!), and I'd like your comments anyway.
So. Today's posts, coming right up.
Blogger Ernie Chambers points out that the income disparity highlighted in this article is less about discrimination and more about choices - specifically, that low income is associated with single-parent households:
Nowhere in any of the articles on this topic will you find a glaring fact that accounts for most of the wealth disparity between whites, blacks, and Hispanics: illegitimacy and single-parenthood. Consider illegitimacy, for example. In 2002, according to the Division of Vital Statistics of the Centers for Disease Control, over two-thirds of black children delivered in the U.S. were born to single mothers, compared to 43 percent for Hispanics and 23 percent for whites...
One might expect that such differences would have a dramatic effect on household income, and one would be correct. U.S. Census Bureau data on white and black family income shows that in fact having two parents in the home versus one is tremendously important, such that while in 2001 black families with two parents earned $51,514, black single-mother families (the overwhelming majority of black single-parent homes are headed by the mother) earned only $20,894.
While some single-parent households are a result of divorce, far more result from pregnancies amongst the unmarried, who are often never married. The fact is, in this country there are too many voices saying "You can have it all!", explicitly meaning both financial wealth and the freedom to do precisely what you want with no repercussions. If there are repercussions, then it must be society's fault for pushing you down.
The truth is, it's all about choices. Some of us start with more than others - I don't have the resources of the children of Bill Cosby, Lionel Richie, or Jesse Jackson. Some of us wait to marry until we're financially secure, some wait to have children for the same reason, some choose to live where they don't want to live so they can earn more, or choose to live on less so they can live where they want to. Some of us go to college or train ourselves in other ways, some of us get a job with the post office or UPS or Wal-Mart and stick with it until it becomes something we can make a decent living on.
I'm not saying that single-parent households can't be successful, or that single parents are a universally reprehensible lot. That's not true at all; many of them work very hard and care very much about their children's success in the world. I'm talking about the ones who have better things to do - like hang out on the corner, watch soap operas or drink or use drugs - than to work. And our government gives them money to do it, without any accountability.
It's too easy to blame other people for your own low income, and that's not where the fault lies, usually. I support helping people who are genuinely trying to improve themselves and their lot in life. I do not support helping or even feeling sorry for people who expect my tax dollars to keep them in comfort while they do anything but work.
And don't even start with me about racism. I grew up in one of the poorest counties in one of the poorest regions of the country, and there weren't a lot of minorities there. The black people I knew were workers, paying their bills and doing okay. The slackers I saw were white people whose families came to the US in the 1800s or earlier. And the unmarried pregnancy rate was pretty high there too - of the six girls I ran around with in elementary school, four of them had children before I graduated high school. And they were the more responsible of the community: they married, worked hard, held jobs, created a life, didn't make government handouts their career.
Illegitimacy and the income inequality that often follows it is a plague on this irresponsible society. It's not a race thing, it's a culture thing. And people who make it a race issue are just feeding the problem for their own twisted reasons. They aren't truly interested in making it better.
Alaa of The Mesopotamian gives the Iraqi perspective on the American election; you really need to read the entire piece, but think about this:
...regardless of all the arguments of both candidates the main problem is that President Bush now represents a symbol of defiance against the terrorists and it is a fact, that all the enemies of America, with the terrorists foremost, are hoping for him to be deposed in the upcoming elections. That is not to say that they like the democrats, but that they will take such an outcome as retreat by the American people, and will consequently be greatly encouraged to intensify their assault. The outcome here on the ground in Iraq seems to be almost obvious. In case President Bush loses the election there would be a massive upsurge of violence, in the belief, rightly or wrongly, by the enemy, that the new leadership is more likely to â€ścut and runâ€ť to use the phrase frequently used by some of my readers. And they would try to inflict as heavy casualties as possible on the American forces to bring about a retreat and withdrawal. It is crucial for them to remove this insurmountable obstacle which stands in their way. They fully realize that with continued American and alliesâ€™ commitment, they have no hope of achieving anything.
On the other hand if President Bush is reelected, this will prove to them that the American people are not intimidated despite all their brutality, and that their cause is quite futile. Yes there is little doubt that an election victory by President Bush would be a severe blow and a great disappointment for all the terrorists in the World and all the enemies of America. I believe that such an outcome would result in despair and demoralization of the â€śinsurgent elementsâ€ť here in Iraq, and would lead to the pro-democracy forces gaining the upper hand eventually. Note that we are not saying that President Bush is perfect, nor even that he is better than the Senator, just that the present situation is such that a change of leadership at this crucial point is going to send an entirely wrong message to all the enemies. Unfortunately, it seems to me that many in the U.S. donâ€™t quite appreciate how high the stakes are. The challenge is mortal, and you and we are locked in a War...
The Chicago Tribune has endorsed Bush. Read their entire editorial, but think about this in light of what Alaa said:
Bush's sense of a president's duty to defend America is wider in scope than Kerry's, more ambitious in its tactics, more prone, frankly, to yield both casualties and lasting results. This is the stark difference on which American voters should choose a president.
There is much the current president could have done differently over the last four years. There are lessons he needs to have learned. And there are reasons--apart from the global perils likely to dominate the next presidency--to recommend either of these two good candidates.
But for his resoluteness on the defining challenge of our age--a resoluteness John Kerry has not been able to demonstrate--the Chicago Tribune urges the re-election of George W. Bush as president of the United States...
On the most crucial issue of our time, Kerry has serially dodged for political advantage. Through much of the 2004 election cycle, he used his status as a war hero as an excuse not to have a coherent position on America's national security. Even now, when Kerry grasps a microphone, it can be difficult to fathom who is speaking--the war hero, or the anti-war hero.
Kerry displays great faith in diplomacy as the way to solve virtually all problems. Diplomatic solutions should always be the goal. Yet that principle would be more compelling if the world had a better record of confronting true crises, whether proffered by the nuclear-crazed ayatollahs of Iran, the dark eccentrics of North Korea, the genocidal murderers of villagers in Sudan--or the Butcher of Baghdad...
Bush arguably invaded with too few allies and not enough troops. He will go to his tomb defending his reliance on intelligence from agencies around the globe that turned out to be wrong. And he has refused to admit any errors.
Kerry, though, has lost his way. The now-professed anti-war candidate says he still would vote to authorize the war he didn't vote to finance. He used the presidential debates to telegraph a policy of withdrawal. His Iraq plan essentially is Bush's plan. All of which perplexes many.
Worse, it plainly perplexes Kerry...
If you have undecided friends, I suggest you print out both pieces and give them to your friends.
[Alaa link via Powerline blog; Chicago Trib link via Instapundit]
Here's a comment, without comment, from the DetNews weblog:
Posted: Sat. 10/16/04 11:28 AM From: Carole Servello City: Bushnell, Fl USA Subject: Weblog: Libby Spencer Comments: As I see it, dirty tricks were displayed by both Parties and blown out of context by other political interests. I know of one incident where van loads of people representing the DNC. went into State Homes and signed folks up as Democrats and had them vote for Gore. I know this because my Sister was one of these people. She has Downs Syndome and has an IQ of a 5 year old. She signed her name with an X. Nobody knows who is who at the polls. So this stupid charge of being disenfranchised by people who are supposed to have some sense is pure crap, get another dead horse to beat. It's a big yawner here in Fla. so they need to stop bringing voters in from other States.
There you have it. I'm still burning it up over at DetNews, three posts today including one highlighting the lovely Jane Galt. Go read.
Glenn Reynolds reports that today he's at the Rutgers Law School in Newark. Oh oh oh! That's my school building! (No, not the one he's pictured! Here.) He comments that it is "palatial", and that it is. Five stories, with an atrium area extending from the basement up through the fourth floor, fine woods everywhere, lovely library and cafeteria section, fancy courtroom/classrooms... it's gorgeous. It even has a vestigial bell tower.
It's giving me nostalgia. You see, tucked away on the top floor of the Law School, not even given a whole floor, not fully graced with nice woods but still quite nice in its own right, is the School of Criminal Justice. That's my doctoral program. We're the red-headed stepchildren* of the Rutgers Law School. When the law school was over in the old insurance building across from Prudential, next to the Newark library, we had three floors - much smaller floors in that building. When the law school built a new building, we tagged along. It's called "The Center for Law and Justice", but I've always maintained it should be "The Center for Law (oh, and, um, justice)".
They have four and a half floors. We have half of one floor. But we're happy, and we do good work. We just wish someone besides us knew we were there.
I'll have to ask Glenn if anyone pointed out the red-headed stepchild kept tucked away on the top floor.
* I like the term "red-headed stepchild" although I know it's not politically correct. Live with it. Hey, I'm a veteran of a red-headed childhood (although my hair is more brownish these days). I remember many times hearing the chant, "I'd rather be dead than red on the head!" And I survived it. Actually, I always liked my hair and wished it was redder. So don't start with me.
Stephen Green is hopping mad about it, and explains why it's even worse than you might initially think.
In the Vice-presidential debate, John Edwards made a reference to Mary Cheney, who is lesbian, to strike points off her dad, Vice-President Dick Cheney, presumably to "out" her to any Bush/Cheney homophobic supporters (we know there are thousands! millions!). The goal is to push back Bush/Cheney support amongst religious fundamentalists. Last night, John Kerry mentioned her again to make points off Bush - making it clear that Edwards' reference wasn't a product of momentary thought, but rather a charted strategy of the Democrats. More proof: Last night Mary Beth Cahill, Kerry's campaign strategist, said Mary Cheney was "fair game" - meaning, apparently, that any emotional distress or harm caused to Cheney was fine because after all her dad is running for vice-president and Mary Cheney is working to help keep him there for four more years.
Today, Lynne Cheney said that Kerry is "not a good person" for bringing her daughter into this campaign in a way that is specifically meant to make Mary Cheney a point of contention. Also today, Elizabeth Edwards, John Edwards' wife, said on ABC Radio that " 'She's overreacted to this and treated it as if it's shameful to have this discussion. I think that's a very sad state of affairsâ€¦ I think that it indicates a certain degree of shame with respect to her daughter's sexual preferencesâ€¦ It makes me really sad that that's Lynne's response.'"
It's a very cynical, shameless ploy, and shows that the heart of the Democrat party is not about tolerance or kindness or genuine caring for, well, anyone [not true of all Dems, let me hasten to add]. It's about rallying special interest groups for the purpose of attaining their own goals, and skewering anyone who doesn't agree with them. If John Kerry and John Edwards were truly sympathetic with the difficulties of living a homosexual lifestyle in this country today, they would not deliberately pull someone into the line of fire specifically because of her homosexuality, in the hopes of building up their own side.
And I think they're completely off-base in their calculations, showing another instance of cynicism, arrogance and disconnection with a part of America. By highlighting Mary Cheney in hopes of shaking religious conservatives from their Bush vote, they show they have no clear understanding of conservative religious people. And what understanding they do show indicates they think religious conservatives are a bunch of uneducated, homophobic, kneejerk reactionists with no genuine Christian spirit. With one cleverly styled tactic, they have slapped gays and religious conservatives.
It will come as no surprise to regular readers that I think homosexual activity is sinful, and is repeatedly, unequivocally condemned in the Bible. I'm a strict constructionist when it comes to Biblical interpretation, and in the mind of a Kerryite I'm quite certain they would label me a religious fundamentalist. I accept that label, but I don't accept the connotations they attach to it. Specifically, knowing Mary Cheney is lesbian has no impact on my decision whether or not to vote for Bush, nor does it make me feel inclined to stay home. I think I'm more typical than not in my reaction to the Kerry/Edwards ploy, and I'll tell you three reasons why it won't work.
The first is that all Christians recognize that we're sinners. It's the first thing you have to figure out before you can become a Christian: I'm a sinner. God can forgive me of my sins if I'm sorry for them. I apologize to God for it. I become His child through baptism. I realize every day that I sin, but now I have a way to get forgiveness for it, every day. And every single day, a Christian struggles with that. I think a majority of fundamentalist Christians live very close to their own sinful nature, the realization of it, and thus don't have a haughty "You're a SINNER!" attitude toward others who aren't living by God's word. We love everyone, we just don't say, "And all your behavior is fine too! If it feels good, do it!" We know how to love the sinner and hate the sin. We're well accustomed to valuing people for a variety of reasons, and not limiting our respect and appreciation only to those who also believe in and serve God with a strict constructionist perspective.
And the second reason is that Christians aren't going to hold the Cheneys responsible for having a daughter who is lesbian. Children choose their own path. Parents have some responsibility, but they don't run their children's worlds, as any parent would quickly attest. The Cheneys, to their credit, have not (to my knowledge) discussed in public their view of their daughter's choice beyond saying they love her and think she's a good person. I suspect they don't think it's the best choice, but whatever they have to say about it to her, it's not my business at all. And I have to say that I admire Mary Cheney for standing by her father in a very personally difficult time. She has class.
And third, I think the Kerry/Edwards Cheney effort will fail because religious conservatives are not going to believe that the Bush/Cheney campaign has a hidden agenda to advance gay marriage in the nation just because Mary Cheney is lesbian. That's ridiculous. If Alexandra Kerry suddenly became a fundamentalist Christian, would liberals expect Kerry to denounce her and somehow reassure them that he won't impose religious law on the country? I don't think so. But it shows the complete lack of respect that Kerry/Edwards have for the intelligence of the religious right when they pull this kind of tactic.
It won't work.
As you know, I'm writing some this election season at the Detroit News political weblog, which has a mix of liberal and conservative writers. John Needham is one of the liberal writers, and apparently for a while he was asking me questions that I wasn't answering. I discuss why here.
The questions Needham was asking weren't honest, I-want-to-understand questions, but rather ones from this post by uber liberal John Scalzi. Here's an excerpt from Scalzi's post leading up to the questions (the link is a Google cache because Scalzi is updating his site and this post is not yet reloaded there):
I don't wish to be uncharitable to the folks who will eventually vote for Bush, but at this point I do have to say that I do strongly believe that outside the GOP hacks who would vote a dog into office as long as it was Republican dog ("Checkers in '08!"), people who are planning to vote for Bush fall into three primary categories: The stupid, the ignorant and the hypocritical...
However -- and I think this is an important point -- it's possible that some of the hypocritical Bush voters have been so indoctrinated by the GOP party line that they are utterly incapable of consciously realizing that they are hypocrites. It's not that they lack self-awareness; I'm sure they possess it, in some rudimentary "dog in the mirror" form. Merely that this self-awareness has been channeled so as not to delve too deeply into certain lines of personal inquiry. Basically, they learn not to think about certain things too much...
In the film Blade Runner (with which more people are familiar than its literary forebear, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep), there's something called a Voight-Kampff test, which is used to winkle out replicants walking among the humans. It measures empathy by asking a series of questions designed to evoke an emotional response. Get too many of the questions wrong, and you're a replicant, and the next thing you know Harrison Ford's on your ass. It's always something.
Polling hypocritical Bush voters for empathy would be a fool's errand, of course, so I won't even bother. However, what I would like to do is set up a series of questions which I feel will rather effectively bring the hypocrite issue to the fore. So, if you're planning to vote for George Bush, believe you are reasonably smart and informed, and in fact are not aware of being a contemptuously hypocritical waste of meat, please answer the following questions as truthfully as you can.
I'm not quite sure why he thinks a "contemptuously hypocritical waste of meat" would have the brain function to answer his questions, but this particular CHWM is sentient enough to recognize a setup. Most of Scalzi's questions begin with a leadup making assumptions about Bush's record and activities as president, putting a specific spin on them, then attribute that to a Democrat president and ask if you'd vote for a Democrat who did that. The CHWMs are supposed to answer with a simple yes or no, you understand, I'm sure because they're not supposed to be able to construct more complex thoughts without lapsing into incoherent recitations of Republican talking points. And John Needham thought he'd make that clear, apparently in some hope that I am from an alternate universe and don't recognize a setup when I see it:
Please note, to right-wing respondents, the correct answers to question Number 2 (and beyond) is â€śyesâ€ť or â€śnoâ€ť and NOT long-winded essay responses.
Then he adds his own little sneer:
The next set of questions will be provided once our champions of the â€śrightâ€ť deign to reply to these simple two questionsâ€¦..
Simple as in "simple-minded", yes. Simple as in "easily answered", no.
In my graduate work, I've taken several courses on research design and methods, and I've studied them on my own in both school contexts and in the context of media criticism. One of the basic tenets of survey research is that you write questions that are as neutral as humanly possible so as to not prejudice the response. The survey is invalid to the degree that the questions are deliberately designed to bring responses that will support a specific agenda. That's why, for example, we would rightly be skeptical of research from NOW that shows most Americans support abortion or research from a religious organization showing most Americans do not. We seek information from non-partisan sources. Although ideologically based organizations CAN and DO perform very adequate and honest research, their methodology has to be closely scrutinized for bias before the results can be accepted.
The Scalzi questions, on their face and with little study, do not pass the smell test. They are not in any shape, form or remote fashion designed to gather truth, but rather to mock and deride.
That said, I've copied all the questions from Scalzi's post, and reproduce them here with my answers - none of which are essay length, because I'm not re-posting everything I've ever said about the issues, most of which are addressed here on this blog somewhere. Scalzi's questions are blockquoted, my answers are not. Please note that I understand Needham will not accept my answers as honest or true, nor will Scalzi, because they don't want answers - they want a stupid stick to beat me with.
Here we go:
1. Is it more important to judge a president on his party affiliation or his policies?
I always vote based on policies. However, I weigh not just the policies of the individual, but also the policies of his or her party, which he or she would advance simply by being a warm body in that column. So I suppose the answer there would, in fact, be "yes".
2. A Democratic President promised to deliver 6 million new jobs during his candidacy for president; four years later the economy has had a net loss of 1 million jobs, and the president is the first in 70 years to have lost jobs over the span of his administration. On the basis of job growth, should this Democratic president be given a second term?
The Clinton economy was a false bubble of prosperity that burst just before he left office, leaving Bush to clean it up. The dot.coms, also falsely inflated, crashed as well. Then 9/11 happened. Bush has done a good job regrowing the economy after those three body blows to it - none of which were his fault. Has he done it perfectly? No. But I think he's done as well or better than anyone else could have.
3. A Democratic president inherited a federal government that was running a surplus and within four years presided over a federal government which, in raw dollars, ran the highest deficits ever recorded, and which the CBO estimates will add $2.3 trillion to the US deficit in the next decade. On the basis of budget management, should this Democratic president be given a second term?
Another case of taking things out of context; see answer to question 2 about part of what happened to the 'surplus'. The war in Iraq is another major cause. The question is not, "Could Bush have done better than he did?" so much as "Could Kerry do better, then or now, especially without raising taxes?" I see no evidence he could or would even try.
4. During his party's convention, a Democratic president outlined a second term agenda which outside analysts estimate would cost $3 trillion to implement, in an environment in which no new government revenues were expected and the federal government is already running large budget deficits. On the basis of fiscal feasibility, should this Democratic president be given a second term?
I won't defend all of Bush's spending, because I think he's done far too much to grow the government. But he's a tight budget freak next to what the Dems do and would continue to do. It's a bit ridiculous (dare I say... hypocritical?) to fault Bush for excessive spending when your solution is to replace him with an even bigger spender, especially when your justification is, "Democrats! At least we TELL you that we're going to take everything you earn before we actually do it!"
5. After a massive terrorist attack on America's soil, a Democratic president diverted troops and supplies from the military effort to find the perpetrators of the attack in order to attack a second country which, while hostile to the United States, was not involved in the terrorist attack in question. To date, the masterminds of the terrorist attack on America's soil are at large. On this basis, should this Democratic president be given a second term?
Again, a highly biased and selective construction. To answer it adequately would require more time and room than I have. But briefly: The primary initiative was accomplished in Afghanistan before the Iraq war. Finding Bin Laden on a limited timetable would have required dismantling Pakistan, which you wouldn't like either. And it's not that efforts to find him have stopped - they've not, and likely are going on as strongly as they would have had we not gone into Iraq. Finally, Iraq was most decidedly a major player in the terrorist plots against the US, even if they didn't collaborate directly in 9/11, so it was a legitimate target, a "gathering threat".
6. In justifying the attack on this second country, the Democratic president and his advisers presented a particular justification and several other lesser justifications for invasion. In time it is learned that this particular justification was erroneous as were most of the lesser justifications. The Democratic president and his advisers have recently admitted that their reasons for attacking this second country may have been in error. Meanwhile, over 1000 American soldiers have died in the country we attacked. On this basis, should this Democratic president be given a second term?
This question requires conceding up front that those "justifications" were erroneous, and I do not agree that is true. There is post-facto evidence that the threat was real, although parts of it not as imminent as initially thought. And the belief that Saddam had an active nuclear program was supported by numorous intelligence sources found trustworthy in the past. To say that heeding that strong evidence was wrong in the light of the final findings is like saying that Lori Hacking should have known her husband's murderous capabilities despite all evidence against it, and should have refused to marry him based on that knowledge. If you want to say our intelligence information should have been better, I would agree and then ask you to explain why the Clinton White House didn't make better intelligence a priority.
7. Citing national security, a Democratic president and his administration have attempted to detain American citizens without regard to their constitutionally-protected rights, an action sharply rebuked by the Supreme Court of the United States. Given this attempt to circumvent the Constitution of the United States, should this Democratic president be given a second term?
This is another question that requires a lot of detail, but I'll give a too-brief version: I don't always agree with the Bush administration, but I would have to research this to answer properly. I don't always agree with the Supreme Court - and neither do the Dems, or they wouldn't have spent four years saying Bush is an illegitimate president. And, finally, one more word: Waco. Tell me now how the Dems are so much better?
8. A Democratic president has declared that he supports a constitutional amendment stripping all Americans of personal rights a sovereign state court has determined that they have. On the basis of attempting to curtail already-determined personal rights, should this Democratic president be given a second term?
I'm not sure what you're alluding to here, unless it's the marriage amendment proposal. What intrigues me is the sudden hot support for states rights, which the Dems most emphatically do not want in most other instances. I'll tell you what - we'll discuss my support for gay civil unions in Massachusetts when you support Alabama's right to outlaw abortion. Deal?
9. If the phrase "Democratic president" is changed in the above questions to "Republican president," would your answers change?
10. Does the answer to question 9 invalidate your answer to question 1?
11. If the answer to question 10 is "yes," please explain how this does or does not make you, in fact, a contemptible hypocrite.
I'm sorry, I'm too stupid, ignorant and hypocritical to understand the question.
And there you have it.
Any more questions, Mr. Needham?
UPDATE: I'm proven right. Needham responds, and says "that Susanna simply is proving the point of Scalziâ€™s quiz". He also says the point of the quiz "is not to mock and deride". I think we know who's engaged in an alternate reality.
Don't miss my DetNews posts today, especially this one where I key off this Powerline Blog post in making the point that Dems can preach politics from the pulpit while Bush is demonized for his religious beliefs.
The newly minted Nobel Peace Prize winner, Wangari Maathai, who is a trained biologist, had this to say:
KENYA'S new Nobel Peace Prize winner believes the virus causing AIDS was a deliberately created biological agent unleashed on Africans.
"Some say that AIDS came from the monkeys, and I doubt that because we have been living with monkeys (since) time immemorial, others say it was a curse from God, but I say it cannot be that," Wangari Maathai told a news conference a day after winning the prize.
The woman is a patented freak, and a racist besides - assuming that the reason more black people than any other race is dying is because everyone else hates blacks. Um, no. If everyone was chaste until marriage and monogamous afterward, AIDS would basically disappear - from all populations, black, white, whatever. I am sick up to the highest hair on my head with the claims that AIDS is about anything other than promiscuity on someone's part, now that the blood supply is clean. But we can't "blame the victims" now, can we? As it happens, I agree 100% with this statement of hers:
"AIDS (is) not a curse from God to Africans or the black people."
No, not at all. God is no respecter of persons - skin color is immaterial to Him, as it should be to all of us. But skidding straight from "God didn't do it" to "Scientists who hate and want to kill all blacks did it" is just... well, freakishly bizarre. For her to win this prize shows that the Nobel Peace Prize selection committee is a bunch of howling moonbats on magic mushrooms.
Of course, the 2002 winner of the Nobel Peace Prize was that unreconstructed dictator-friend Jimmy Carter, who himself has significant characteristics in common with moonbats.
This is a great article on chocolate, Mars Candy Company and the future of chocolate-as-health-food. I especially enjoyed it since Mars' main plant is in Hackettstown, NJ, part of my old NJ stomping grounds.
Note as well that it's a very nice, even-handed article. The writer brings up several potentially hot-button issues, like corporate-sponsored research, but handles them even-handedly. He points out the problems without opining through tone that it is a good or bad thing. He leaves that up to the reader, and does it all with an interesting, informative writing style. I approve.
I really don't mean to abandon this blog for right now, it's just that what limited time I have I've been posting on DetNews, actively debunking some bad information. And I've succeeded in mixing it up, with so far four of the other posters (all liberals) directly responding to something I've posted. Heh. If you're not reading it, you're missing the fun.
Just today, Libby Spencer blamed hunger in Iraq on Bush's war. I thoroughly debunked it, using the UN's own information, and essentially asking why all the concern about 6 million in Iraq who are getting better when 198 million in Africa are far worse off?
Yesterday I posted about how anti-war types were giving "succor" to the terrorists. John Needham took offense, claiming I said he was giving succor to the terrorists and hated America just because he is against the war. So naturally I had to disabuse him of that, managing to include a long quote about John Kerry's 1971 Senate testimony being used to harrass American POWs during the Vietnam war. Needham called me "contemptible". We'll see if he apologizes.
I've realized why this posting gig has energized me somewhat. In the part of the blogosphere that I inhabit, there's always dozens of people posting on everything and giving much better arguments than I can think of in my blurry early morning fog. But at DetNews, I'm essentially in a debate situation with a slew of liberals, writing for an audience who don't read Instapundit or Powerline blog or INDC Journal or the KerrySpot or or or everyday. So I can be a synthesizer, an arguer, in a way I don't feel I can so much here.
And maybe I've just gotten lazy here. I'll do better. Um, after Nov. 2. I'll be posting here between now and then, just recognize that my energies are divided. I highly recommend you do read DetNews. It's fun!
"I see the rise of Islam to destroy Israel and take the land from the Jews and give East Jerusalem to [Palestinian Authority Chairman] Yasser Arafat. I see that as Satan's plan to prevent the return of Jesus Christ the Lord," said Robertson, a Christian broadcaster.
Quite frankly, Robertson's "Christianity" is not something I recognize from Scripture. I'm sure there are intersections here and there, of course there has to be. But I'm continually and deeply offended by the scaremongering and borderline extortion perpetrated by a lot of these television "evangelists". As far as I'm concerned, they're a cross between Simon the Sorcerer, the first century Pharisees and the moneychangers Jesus drove from the temple. And then Robertson makes all these pronouncements like he's some kind of God-ordained oracle, which he patently is not, and non-Christians of both the religious and non-religious persuasions hold him up as an example of why all Christians are frightening whackjobs.
I guess I know what it's like for a reasonable liberal to be smeared with a Michael Moore brush. Only the stakes are much higher.
Day 2 of not feeling wonderful, although I am much much better albeit dehydrated. But that's what sweet tea is for! I have managed to toss up a few things on DetNews, and I also highly recommend both Glenn Reynolds' post on Kerry's foreign policy crash and Jim Geraghty's commentary on said article (Tony Blair for President?).
Sorry for the absence of posts today. I've been down with... well, let's just say "stomach problems". Hopefully I'll be back on track tomorrow.
At least I'll have to emerge long enough to restock my store of Zesta crackers.
One DetNews blogger accuses GW of being on drugs during last week's debate. Another won't shut up about the draft no matter what evidence she's given that It. Isn't. Going. To. Happen. So, I answered them.
What do you think about my post?
[NOTE: I wrote this post for the DetNews blog, but realized it was too long. I think it holds together best at this length, so I'm going to post it here because... well, because. I'll put a shorter version on the DetNews site.]
Mike Hendrix is a hard-living, hard-talking, hard-working son of the South living in North Carolina. He's traveled the US and Europe with his on-again, off-again rock-a-billy band, the Belmont Playboys. Hendrix, called "a great guitarist and fine songwriter" by Country Standard Time, also pulled a stint as an over-the-road truck driver which has led to some of his best writing: check it out here and here. He's now working as a web designer when he's not venting his always-overflowing spleen on his blog, Cold Fury. If you think about working-man's musician, Mike Hendrix is the real deal; Bruce Springsteen is a poser.
You'd think, with that history, that Hendrix would be a hard-core blue-collar labor liberal. You'd be wrong - that was yesterday, before he grew up. For those of you who wonder how to make a choice in this race between millionaires, Hendrix has the answer:
"...I've been thinking about why exactly it is that I'm wholeheartedly for Bush's reelection, and why a liberterian-leaning guy like me could even contemplate adding 'wholeheartedly' to that statement. I'm not religious, although I'm not anti-religious either; I don't believe abortion is murder; I think an absolute separation of church and state is an unqualified Good Thing; I'm definitely pro-sex, drugs, and rock and roll generally. I'm definitely a 'go ahead and swing your arms all you want, as long as you ain't hitting me' kind of person...
"...I was a hardcore college-radical Lefty, an anarchist punk-rock revolutionary... I changed my mind when Saddam went into Kuwait and my liberal buddies had to endure all sorts of mental gyrations to find a way to support Saddam so their anti-American prejudices could remain intact...
"...[I]n the lead-up to the 2000 election, I didn't like Bush at all... Bush was a liberal in conservative's clothing, and my opinion of him then was pretty similar to my opinion of, say, John Edwards now: a lightweight, an empty suit, a perfect vapid example of everything that's wrong with American politics; all style, big smile, no substance, no bite...
"But, as I said, I wholeheartedly support Bush - now how could that be? Well, here's how.
"On September 11, 2001, we were attacked by vicious killers so in love with death that they were willing to die horribly themselves, if only they could take some of the people they hate above all others...with them. We all know all about what happened that day, and why. But many of us - Democrats all, those who aren't something even further to the Left - still refuse to acknowledge that the 9/11 atrocity was just the latest skirmish in a way declared via several other attacks that had gone on before, plotted by many of the same people, for the same motives, in service of the same ideology, in pursuit of the same goal.
"And Bush went down to Ground Zero and made his now-famous statement: 'I hear you, and the people who knocked those buildings down will hear from all of us soon...' "
Mike goes on to discuss how Bush handled the situation, his strength as compared to the obvious weakness of Al Gore, and the fear that Bush would defer to the UN enough to endanger the US. He explains his support for the war in Iraq in clear terms, and his annoyance with Bush for dragging his feet in going into Iraq when Saddam had violated the UN sanctions explicitly, and for years. Then he says,
"But if Bush is too eager to defer to the UN, and if he's too apt to move slowly when it comes to defeating America's enemies in the war on terror, why the devil would I have used the word 'wholeheartedly' earlier?
"Well, here's why: because the choice isn't between Bush and George Patton; it isn't even between Bush and Barry Goldwater. The choice is between a man who, in the end, has made the right moves, if sometimes diffidently, and a man who has shown over a long career in the Senate that he is not just indifferent but actually hostile to the use of American military power in pursuit of American interests. The choice is between a man who, in the immediate aftermath of the most hideously successful terrorist attack in history, had the bedrock good sense and unabashed patriotism to be unable to conceal his anger, and a man who would have needed three polls and a focus group to tell him how he ought to feel about it in order not to discomfit and alienate his America-hating Lefty base. The choice is between a man who genuinely seems to like soldiers, respect their service, believe in their competence, and honor their intelligence and basic decency, and a man who underhandedly wriggled out of his own commitment and came home to slander them as butchers and latter-day "Jenjis" Khans...
"After he's elected, a President has to answer to all of us, but he always primarily has to consider his base of support. Bush's base of support is made up of those of us who want this war prosecuted vigorously, with our gaze kept unwaveringly on absolute victory. I think Bush feels that way himself. And after all, even if Kerry is possessed of a strong-willed determination to see the fight through to that final victory - a determination we've seen absolutely no convincing evidence of so far beyond his own rhetorical declamations, which are always followed by the fatal "but" - the only thing he has backing him up is Terry McAuliffe, Dan Rather, a handful of anti-war protestors, Michael Moore and Bruce Springsteen - none of whom care the least bit about winning a war they think we have no business fighting in the first place..."
Mike Hendrix is in many ways the opposite of me in lifestyle - I'm very religious, anti-abortion, and not much inclined to the hard life. Mike himself told you where he stands. But we are good friends, and I know he is someone who thinks deeply and reads widely when forming his opinions. The point of this post is to say, even people with very different backgrounds and lifestyles come together when they realize that the fundamental question of this election is extremely basic: We are fighting for the life of this country. Mike doesn't agree with all that Bush has done. I don't either. Sometimes Mike and I agree on what Bush should do domestically, sometimes we don't. But we both know that another attack like 9/11, or the kind of terrorism Israel has to deal with continually, would literally destroy this country. It would not be what it is now, and would likely never be again. The war in Iraq is not just about WMDs, or removing Saddam, or bringing democracy to Iraq, although it is about all those things. It is, ultimately, about taking the war to the terrorists on their home turf before they bring it back to ours. The insurgents in Iraq are not average working-class Iraqis fighting oppression. They're terrorists, and they'd just as happily kill an Iraqi as an American if it would further their cause of domination.
Discussion of domestic policies, of the economy, are important and valid. But never take your mind off the realization that none of that will matter if terrorism within our borders becomes commonplace. John Kerry shows no willingness to prevent that from happening. George Bush has already proven his willingness to put the safety of the American people above everything - even his own career.
Thanks for following the new link to my site from the DetNews political blog! I've been running this site for over two years, so there's lots to read. I do more than politics - I write about crime and making pear butter, media bias and sweet little nieces of mine. In other words, a wide variety of things. So take a little time to browse around, and come back often. I post almost daily, and they won't be duplicates of what's on the DetNews site.
Just in case you forgot, I'm still posting at the Detroit News political weblog. I'm planning to post there at least once a day, and will sometimes do more. Since it is a state still in play, I think it's important to get some information and links out there that otherwise might not see the light of day in that arena. Will it change votes? Maybe not. But you never know, and I think it's something that I can do in a positive way to help Bush, since I now live in a Bush state so my vote doesn't mean what it did in NJ.
And for those of you who are curious, there's a mug shot of me on my bio page of the DetNews blog, taken this afternoon.
This is a bit more than an oops:
Fox News apologized Friday for posting phony quotes from Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry on its Web site. Carl Cameron, a Fox reporter who covers the Kerry campaign, wrote an item that looked like a news story with made-up Kerry quotes, said Paul Schur, a Fox spokesman. The item was not intended to be posted on the site.
"Carl made a stupid mistake which he regrets," Schur said Friday night. "And he has been reprimanded for his lapse in judgment. It was a poor attempt at humor."
They don't say how it came to be posted - did Cameron accidently hit "send" instead of "save"? Did someone else find it, think it was legit, and post it? I think that matters, in terms of intent. This article in the NY Times doesn't really say either. Whichever is true, I think having Cameron on the Kerry campaign after that will just encourage people who think FoxNews is beyond partisan.
The fact that an AP reporter sent as a real news item a completely fabricated story of boos following Bush's mention of Clinton's surgery at a rally doesn't matter. The fact that the NY Times is flagrantly pro-Kerry doesn't matter. You don't base your decisions about what's right to do based on how low your competition has gone. You base your decisions on what's right in an objective way.
I'm sorry for Carl Cameron. He's a good reporter, and I don't know that this would actually indicate he can't fairly cover Kerry. However, the impression is that he can't, as a result of this, and it would do wonders for FoxNews's credibility to move him to another position in the campaign coverage. Of course, that's a major thing to do because covering a long-running story like a campaign isn't just about filed stories, but is also about knowing the candidate and the candidate's people and the history of the campaign. In a less tense and important situation, this would go under the waves pretty quickly. In this campaign season, where the media is a major player as allegations of favoritism or outright aid to the campaigns are tossed back and forth, Cameron's "bad judgment", relatively unpunished, can have the effect of negating much of the validity of criticism of the mainstream media. I'm not saying that's fair or appropriate, I'm saying it's the way things are, especially for people who don't follow this kind of thing obsessively like most of us do. How long until we start hearing, "Yes, but, Carl Cameron..."?
The right-thinking blogosphere is covering it, but not generally questioning whether Cameron should continue where he is. Shape of Days has a good post about the contretemps, INDC Journal has an excellent, detailed discussion, Tim Blair deconstructs the Daily Kos and Josh Marshall, LGF pokes at Marshall too, and Instapundit makes a quick mention . And yes, those lefty blogs are all over it: here's Daily Kos and Josh Marshall (start here and scroll up).
This in absolutely no way attains the level of ethical foul-up that our friends at CBS News wrought with great care and time. But FoxNews's admirably fast retraction and apology is not sufficient. Cameron doesn't need to be fired, but he shouldn't be allowed to continue covering the Kerry campaign as if nothing happened.
I've just about had it up to my cash register receipt with Winn Dixie.
They make you get this handy dandy little Winn Dixie card before they will let you get their "special deals", and then they deliberately set the displays so that you think things are on sale in ways they aren't. Example in point: Several weeks ago I purchased 2 half-gallon cartons of ice cream. The sign said, "Buy one, get one free". When I got home, I found that I had been charged full price for both. When I asked about it on my next trip, I was told that you had to get two of the same kind for it to work. I had gotten a carton of ice cream and carton of sherbet - both on 2 for 1 sale, both the same brand, but I couldn't mix n match. That was not made clear on their sign. I think that's lying.
And then yesterday I went in to purchase a few other things, and decided to buy some books. I justified the impulse purchase in part because it said above the books, "Books Discounted Every Day!" When I got home, I checked my cash register receipt and saw I'd been charged full price for all of them. Today I stopped by to get some construction paper and to sleuth to see if I had been correct in my reading of the sign. I was. I grabbed one of the books I had purchased yesterday, took it with me to the counter and asked them to tell me the discount. She rang it and said, it's $6.99. I said, what's the price on the book. She said, $6.99. I said, so where's the discount? She said, I can't help you, you have to speak to the manager.
So I persisted (fortunately no long line behind me so no one hated me but the cashier), finally speaking to the highest manager on duty at the time. She said that the jobber who supplied the books was supposed to discount them, it wasn't a Winn Dixie discount. I said, but they aren't discounted! She said, but we don't do it. I said, does it bother you that you're lying to your customers? I recounted my other bad experiences at their store, and she said they had told headquarters that customers were complaining about misleading advertising. I'm not the only one to notice! Is it fixed? Not that I can tell. And still she said they don't handle the books so it's not their issue. She promised to talk to the jobber on Thursday. I said, so what about my book discount?
I shop at the Columbiana store specifically because it's in town, instead of going to the Calera Wal-Mart 10 miles away. I want to shop locally. I did quit W-D for a while and go to Piggly Wiggly, but W-D is just more convenient and attractive. (And to be fully honest, the name "Piggly Wiggly" just makes me itch.) I told her I would stop shopping there permanently if they don't fix this and soon. She said she understood. I hope so.
And yes, I'm precisely that customer you hate to be behind.
How much is at stake here? Well, I would have saved almost $3 buying the books at Wal-Mart. Given that my car gets about 25 mpg, Calera is 10 miles further than W-D, and I filled up my tank at $1.79/gal, looks like I would have saved a dollar or more driving to Calera. Not much, and maybe the time and annoyance level should be factored in. But then how much time and annoyance am I spending arguing with Winn Dixie? And how much is it worth to feel that the store isn't lying to you?
A lot. I'll check back with Winn Dixie on Thursday, and I'll take my cash register receipt. If I don't get reimbursed (pathetically small though the amount is), I'll be writing a letter to the company and I will no longer feel any obligation to "shop locally", at least where groceries are concerned.
The University of Kentucky football practice was delayed nearly two hours yesterday after a player reported finding an unknown white powdery substance on the practice field.
Head Coach Rich Brooks immediately suspended practice while Lexington police and federal investigators were called to investigate.
After a complete analysis, FBI forensic experts determined that the white substance unknown to the players was the goal line.
Practice was resumed after special agents decided the team was unlikely to
encounter the substance again.
Just wanted to start your day off with a bit of humor. Thanks to my friend Bill Robinson for the joke - who knew such an old man still remembered the UK Wildcats, much less had a sense of humor? Happy belated birthday, Bill!
I'm off with my parents for a fishing trip. I may or may not have time to post again before we leave. If not, have a great Friday!