The Musings of

Something full of magic, religion, bullsh*t.

Friday, October 29, 2004

If there's a shortage of something . . .

it's usually a good policy to check to see if the government is mucking with the market (more than usual). The guys over at the NCPA claim that's exactly what happened to the flu vaccine this year. Of course, the trial lawyers have given them an assist.
Centinel 12:53 PM # | |

Who knew?

There are many people I would buy as speaking for God, Tom Harkin isn't on that list.
Centinel 11:12 AM # | |

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Micromanaging the military

I'll be the first to admit that foreign policy -- be it trade talks or the war against terrorism -- doesn't make my wick wet. I'm not saying that foreign policy isn't important, just that I just can't get excited about what is happening in Taiwan when we can't even fix Social Security. Perhaps it's a policy wonk thing left over from my past life as a hack -- maybe I'm just a bit provincial. Whatever the case, this whole Al Qaqaa thing has got me flumoxed.

If I've got it all straight, there were quite a bit (380 tons) of explosives at this location that have disappeared. This was the big "October Surprise"? Kerry, trying to squeeze the issue for every precious drop of blood, is suggesting that the situation is all Bush's fault even though it's not exactly clear that the explosives were even there when the military arrived.

What I can't figure out is when every minor military operation became the President's responsibility. I understand the buck has to stop somewhere, but can we really hold the President accountable for every military screw-up (assuming there even was one)? Is there really a feeling in this country that the President should be involved in planning every tactical move in a war? And, if so, do the same people believe Kerry can do any better?
Centinel 3:20 PM # | |

Identity crisis

Who are the Boston Red Sox? I knew who they were yesterday -- a group of underdogs struggling against an 86-year curse -- loveable losers who represented the little guy and downtrodden everywhere. No matter how good the team seemed, you always knew they would self destruct. They were God's playthings -- Dr. Pepper's Last Lonely Hearts Club. The Red Sox Nation was defined by its pain -- despite nearly a century of angst they were the noble, hard-working American fans who stuck by their team. It's easy to be a Yankees fan, always knowing that your owner will spend enough money to continue the parade of champions, but being a Red Sox fan took fortitude and committment to a cause.

That's who the Red Sox were yesterday. Who they are today, or who they'll be after Pedro is bought out by the Yankees is a mystery. Perhaps they're just another Arizona Diamondbacks.
Centinel 7:00 AM # | |

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Poisoning the well

Understandably, there has been quite a bit of talk lately about a possible "nightmare scenario" in the upcoming election. Most of the discussion centers around the 2000 election, with pundits worried about a tie in the electoral college or some election breakdown that would result in throwing the election to the House of Representatives or, God forbid, the Supreme Court. As we saw in 2000, such a result allows the losing side to constantly question the legitimacy of the winner, thereby weakening the presidency.

In his column today, Jonas Goldberg points out that the lessons of 2000 have not been lost on the Democrats. He details a clear, coordinated strategy by the Kerry Campaign to make sure that a victory by Bush, no matter how close, can be disputed. The strategy is a simple, but effective one. First, have Democrat hacks allege widespread attempts by the GOP to disenfranchise minority voters (extra points for including phrases like "Jim Crow" and "dirty tricks"). Second, instruct all local Democrat operatives to allege voter intimidation even if it doesn't exist. Third, have Kerry claim that a million black voters were denied their right to vote in 2000 and insinuate that it may happen again. Finally, once the Democrats have lost the presidential election, every Birkenstock-wearing leftist can spend four more years yelling "Bush is not my President!" by claiming that Kerry would have one had the GOP not been turning fire hoses and German Shepherds on black voters trying to get to the polls.

I guess Kerry really does know something about exit strategies.

Extra: Click here for a more humorous spin.

Update: It looks like the Dems have acually added a step to the process. Damn, they're good.
Centinel 7:38 AM # | |

Monday, October 25, 2004

Stupid is as stupid does

A recent poll done by supposedly non-partisan Program on International Policy Attitudes ("PIPA") suggests that Republicans are more ignorant than Democrats when it comes to foreign policy matters. The guys over at the Volokh Conspiracy effectively address the fallacies inherent in the poll, but they avoid the overall question: Are one party's supporters more ignorant than the other's?

Studies have shown that, when it comes to fiscal matters such as trade, welfare, and taxes, women are more liberal than men and are more likely, therefore, to vote for Democrats. It has also been conclusively demonstrated that, on average, women are more ignorant than men concerning political issues.

So which party is more ignorant? You do the math.
Centinel 3:59 PM # | |

Thursday, October 21, 2004

An uncivil call for civility

I know I'm a couple of days behind the curve on this one, but I finally got to see Jon Stewart's diatribe from his appearance on Crossfire. I must admit, after reading all of the "Stewart kicks Tucker Carlson's butt" posts (see here for the article, here, here, and here, to name but a few), I was expecting . . . more. For the few who missed it, Stewart came on the program allegedly to plug his new book. Instead, he spent 15 minutes excoriating the hosts, Lefty Paul Begala and Righty Tucker Carlson, for having a program that "hurts the public discourse." Not expecting a lecture, Carlson (and to a lesser extent Begala) tried to comeback at him, but Stewart used his infamous wit to slap Carlson about. As noted above, it appears that most liberals feel that, for this reason, Stewart scored tremendous points and should be bronzed and mounted next to the Speaker's Chair in the U.S. House of Representatives.

I don't see it quite that way. In fact, I noticed several things that made me wonder more about the Stewart supporters than the Crossfire goons.

Let me begin by saying that I am more likely to watch The Daily Show than I am to watch Crossfire. Years ago, I lived with a political consultant who watched Crossfire (and several other political talking head programs) every day, and I found the discussions pedantic and boring. Stewart, on the other hand, can be funny in small doses. That said, here's my list of Stewart hypocrisies -- feel free to play at home:

1. Stewart used the format of the show to blast the format of the show. If snide, partisan comments don't quality as discourse why do snide, self-righteous comments qualify?

2. Stewart ripped the show for stating opinions without factual support by giving opinions without factual support. All Stewart had to offer were witty insults and his opinion -- exactly what you would expect to see on any regular episode of Crossfire. When things got hot, what did Steward do? He made fun of Carlson for wearing a bow tie.

3. Stewart ridiculed Carlson for trying to hold The Daily Show to the same standard as Crossfire by noting that his show "follows puppets making crank calls," yet his whole purpose is to play the statesman and lecture CNN. Stewart clearly wants it both ways -- he wants us to believe that his show is a joke, but then he expect us to take him seriously.

4. Stewart blast Crossfire for damaging the public discourse, yet he has been accused by others of doing the same thing by presenting the news as comedy. Evidently, Stewart believes that the little Comedy Central logo at the bottom of The Daily Show's screen is a disclaimer that the he and his staff can say what they want with impunity. Despite his protests, his show is every bit part of the political discourse as Crossfire, yet he (supposedly) fails to see that.

5. Stewart accuses Begala and Carlson of being "hacks," yet he has squarely tossed himself into John Kerry's corner during this election.

6. Stewart claims that Crossfire is "theater" and not "debate," yet his appearance is nothing but theater (otherwise he could have just emailed the hosts with his feelings). It was a "holier-than-thou" ambush with a lot of heat but no light. The whole thing was nothing more than a practice P.R. tool for Stewart's career.

As theater, Stewart definitely deserved his reviews for this show -- Carlson came off as a flatfooted and defenseless, while Begala hardly even bothered to engage -- but don't for a minute think that he has actually made a point. Say what you will about Crossfire, it is what it claims to be -- a show where politically connected people come on to verbally duke it out. Unlike Stewart, Carlson and Begala don't need to ambush their prey. The debates are raucous and often insulting, but despite Stewart's opinion, they are debates, and they do have a place in the public discourse. If you don't like it, do what I do -- switch the channel.
Centinel 12:11 PM # | |

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

It's not easy being green

Remember when the environment was an issue? According the National Center for Policy Analysis, those days are behind us. Recent polls show that voters don't feel that the environment is a pressing issue.

The NCPA postulates that the reason for the downturn in environmental interest is that people feel that the environment is improving and will continue to do so no matter who is President. While that may be the case, I would argue it is far more likely that terrorism has affected voters' "risk assessment." Simply put, destruction of trees down in the rainforest does not have the visceral impact of seeing planes flown into American skyscrapers. It's just another weird annotation to the law of unintended consequences.
Centinel 9:32 AM # | |

Playing the Class Card

During the recent debates, John Kerry continued the long, proud Democrat tradition of stoking the fires of class envy. According to the good Senator, the rich are getting all the breaks, while the middle and lower-classes are forced to foot the bill under Bush's tyrannical tax cuts. These statements are red meat to the loyal liberals, but a simple look at the numbers shows that if anyone should be upset it is the most productive people in our society who are forced to cover the rest of us.

The IRS has recently released it's figures for the 2002 tax year, and the numbers are quite astounding. In 2002, the federal government collected $796 billion in income taxes, and of that total, $768 billion was paid by the top 50% of income earners. That's right, the "richest" half of us are paying 96.5% of all income taxes! Even more interesting is that fact that after the Bush tax cuts, that number has actually increased. Think of it as the Tax Gap: The rich get poorer, while the poor get richer.

Centinel 8:18 AM # | |

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Europe meets Mr. Laffer's Curve

John Kerry has established that the top priority on his domestic agenda will be repealing President Bush's tax cuts. Unfortunately, it appears that Sen. Kerry is not only looking to Europe's disastrous foreign policy model, but he seems determined to adopt their counterproductive taxation policies as well.

Bruce Bartlett has a very interesting commentary over at the Washington Times regarding the effect tax rates have on gross domestic production. A recent report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics states that the per capita GDP in the US for 1993 was $34,960 -- over $4,000 more than Norway, which has the highest rate in Europe -- and a stunning $10,000 more than such economic stalwarts as Germany and France. What is more, the numbers show that, despite the advent of the EU, the gap between the production rates in Europe and the US is slowly widening.

The practical result of this gap is that US citizens enjoy a higher living standard than Europeans, including much more living space. What the Europeans do have, however, is more vacation (including more sick days) and much fewer work hours than their American counterparts. The result is evident, Europeans are not producing because they are not working.

Bartlett's explanation of the work/productivity gaps between the US and Europe is pure Supply Side. According to a recent study by Edward Prescott of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, labor rates in Europe and the US directly correspond to taxation rates. Simply put, Europe's high taxes act as a disincentive to work. This connection is, of course, the basis for the Laffer curve. As Barlett points out, if the French were to drop their tax burden from 60% of their GDP to 40% the average Frenchman would enjoy 19% more consumption than he does now.

Lower taxes = more production = higher standard of living. Perhaps someone should tell this to Sen. Kerry.
Centinel 7:53 AM # | |

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Quick thinking

With the changing of the leaves, a young man's mind turns to thoughts of . . . vote fraud. Specifically, a number of recent articles (here and here, to name two) have detailed the efforts of liberal organizations and politicians to fraudulently register voters -- a rather ironic fact when viewed with the instructions from the Kerry-Edwards campaign to accuse local Republican Parties of voter suppression even if none exists.

I know that vote fraud is as old as voting, but it seems that there has been an increase in visible fraud (what is likely less that 5% of the real fraud). For every defiler of democracy caught, however, hundreds get away. In fact, things have gotten so bad that a friend of mine who runs state legislative campaigns considers Republican candidates winners if they come within 5% of the Democrat in the general election. He refers to this 5% as "the margin of fraud."

Serious as all of this is, it reminds me of my favorite "voter fraud" story. Years ago, a friend of mine (we'll call him "Frank") was running a Republican state senate campaign in a tough district in southern New Mexico. In looking over the vote returns from previous elections in the district, Frank noticed that several border precincts had turnout rates of over 100% -- much higher than the rest of the district -- and that these precincts voted overwhelmingly straight-ticket Democrat. Being a suspicious fellow, Frank started looking in to what might cause these curious numbers. Several local politicos (Frank was not from the state) explained to him that illegal immigrants had trailers filled with mailboxes on the border that they used to create identities, apply for welfare, and that served as residences in order to fraudulently obtain voter I.D.s. It seems that the local Democrats had developed a little scam where they would pick up these "new" voters and drive them from precinct to precinct to cast their votes.

Frank spent several weeks pondering the matter, but could not come up with a way to stop this rampant vote fraud. Then, one day, Dame Fortune smiled on him. One of Frank's candidate's biggest supporters, a car dealer, invited him over to the lot one afternoon. The dealer informed Frank that a government agency had reneged on a contract for 8 special-order vans, and he wanted to know if Frank's campaign could perhaps use them to transport voters to the polls. Frank took one look at the vans and immediately agreed to use them.

Late on the night before the election, Frank and a bunch of campaign volunteers picked up the vans. They drove them to the worst of the suspicious precincts and parked one right in front of the main entrance to each polling location. Then they wedged each van in by parking a car in front and in back of it. After all the vans were in place, Frank and his conspirators returned home to catch a few winks before the polls opened.

The next day, the phones began ringing early. The Democrats were furious with Frank's candidate and were accusing him of vote suppression. They demanded that someone be sent over IMMEDIATELY to remove the vans. The law eventually got involved, and that afternoon Frank and his friends agreed to pick up all the vans.

Amazingly, Frank's candidate won because of the loss of hundreds of Democrat votes in the suspicious precincts. Equally strange is that these lost votes brought the turnout numbers in those precincts back in line with the rest of the district. And it was all due to Frank's quick thinking.

I mean, who else would have found a productive use for 8 mint-green INS vans?
Centinel 4:16 PM # | |

Monday, October 11, 2004

No big surprises here

Far-Right Conservative
Where do you fall on the liberal - conservative political spectrum? (United States)

brought to you by Quizilla
Centinel 11:45 AM # | |

Monday, October 04, 2004

Crunch Time

As any politico knows, the last 3-4 weeks before an election is when the real campaigning happens. This is when all those disaffected Joe and Jane Six-Packs, feeling the approach of their civic duty, sit down and try to decide which candidates, if any, justify a trip down to the fire station/school gym to cast a ballot.

Of course, this is also the time when campaigns begin spending like an override-proof Democrat Congress. As a public service, I have provided a list of several candidates who could use the generosity of well-heeled lawyers and others to fund their fights. The following links will take you to their web contribution pages.

Coburn for Senate (OK)
Thune for Senate (SD)
Martinez for Senate (FL)
Burr for Senate (NC)
DeMint for Senate (SC)
Sessions for Congress (TX-32)
Burns for Congress (GA-12)
Wohlgemuth for Congress (TX-17)
Drake for Congress (VA-2)
Davis for Congress (KY-4)
Centinel 11:02 AM # | |

Friday, October 01, 2004

Showdown in Oklahoma

Oklahoma, a red state if there ever was one, appears to be on the verge of electing a Democrat to the U.S. Senate for the first time in 10 years.

From the outside, this race should be a walk for the Republicans; while the Democrats still dominate the state legislature and control the governorship, the Republicans have had a lock on federal elections for quite some time. The GOP has held both Senate seats since 1994, they currently control 4 of the 5 House seats, and LBJ was the last Democrat presidential candidate to win the state. To top things off, President Bush's numbers here are stellar -- he has consistently been up 2-to-1 over Kerry, and polls show him leading Kerry 43-42% among Democrats. Despite this strength, it is very possible that the Republicans could lose this seat.

Retiring Sen. Don Nickels, Sen. Inhofe, former-Rep. J.C. Watts, and most of the GOP Establishment threw their support behind Kirk Humphreys, the mayor of Oklahoma City, to carry the GOP banner against Democrat Congressman Brad Carson. Unfortunately for them, former-Rep. Tom Coburn, an obstetrician by trade and a conservative malcontent by nature, stepped in and pummeled Humphreys in the primary. With momentum, some name recognition, experience, and that little (R) behind his name, Coburn seemed to be the perfect candidate to take on Carson -- a fairly popular guy in his own right -- but that is not the way things are turning out.

Despite Republican attempts to cast him as a liberal, Carson is a moderate Democrat by national standards, and he is running as a conservative. He is part Cherokee (although you could not tell by looking at him), which is a benefit in this state with its large Indian population. Carson's reputation is one of being a very savvy, thinking candidate who never loses his cool. Coburn, on the other hand, is a flaming conservative populist who, while intelligent, is apt to say what he thinks and let the chips fall where they may. Coburn has a definite constituency in this conservative state, but his "no compromise" reputation has hurt him among those in the business community who are scared that he will continue to fight against pork-barrel projects like he did when he was in the House.

While Coburn had the momentum heading into the general, it has been rapidly dissipating due in part to his own comments. Coburn has recently referred to the state legislators as "the crapheads in Oklahoma City," has stated that his race against Carson is a case of "good vs. evil," and has called for the death penalty for doctors who perform abortions. More troublesome, however, have been recent allegations that he has engaged in Medicare fraud and that he sterilized a woman without her consent.

Bush's huge lead (26%) over Kerry simply has not translated into downticket support, which forces Coburn to work for his voters (recent polls indicate that 24% of Bush supporters are planning to vote for Carson). Recent polls show the race in a statistical tie, but Carson is picking up steam every week. If Coburn cannot overcome his bad press and reclaim the momentum, we could be coloring at least one Oklahoma Senate seat blue for some time.
Centinel 3:43 PM # | |