FauxPolitik

Sunday, October 31, 2004

Some Quick Hits: First, it's about damn time this happened:
The Internal Revenue Service has informed the NAACP that it is investigating whether the civil rights organization improperly "intervened in a political campaign" when it posted on its website a speech by Chairman Julian Bond that condemned the Bush administration's policies.
The NAACP has been a wholly owned subsidiary of the Democratic Party for my lifetime. They and the teachers' unions should get frisked in a big way.

Second, all the mainstream press could say about Karl Rove all year is that he's got a bag of dirty tricks, and he's used them all before; he's as cold-blooded as Lee Atwater, but without the dead man's love of the blues. (Last month's Atlantic Monthly had an archetype of this sort of crap. As a side note, have you noticed that, since Mike Kelly died, Atlantic is crawling with liberals? The magazine, which enjoyed a couple of years of whacking both sides, is back to its old place on the left.) Anyhoo, where's Rove's October Surprise, his last minute splash of mud, his final great dirty trick. Either way, 2004 is likely his swan song. Why not pull out all the stops? Could it be that Karl Rove is no worse a piece of shit than Donna Brazile? You won't read that in the Atlantic, anymore.

By the way, gents, cheers to you both for making your relatively unqualified (and I mean that in both senses) endorsements. The blogosphere, in general, is running pretty hard toward Bush (typical roundup here). The question remains whether this has to do with the right-winginess of this particular echo chamber. Razor always seems pretty convinced that the left is under-represented in blogland; but some relatively level-headed folks out there are using the word "landslide" rather freely. I think we're in for some surprises on Tuesday night. I suppose that's a pretty safe prediction, based on 2000. I still think that among the scenarios, one of the likeliest (and most satisfying) is the possibility of Kerry taking the electoral college, but not the popular vote. It would be throbbin' boner time to see how they address the no-mandate, illegitimate-president arguments they spat out in 2000. Some high-ranking Dems, in moments of sheer idiocy and naked partisanship, suggested that the electoral college had outlived its usefulness. I'd suffer a Kerry presidency just to laugh in their faces. Of course, one can expect the GOP to eat its own arguments from last time and take up its opponent's free cudgel: Bush v. Gore redux, but this time the GOP hires David Boies and starts impounding ballots.

At any rate, I think it will be close. See you Tuesday night.

Time to commit: As my fellows have done, so will I. I don't think it will surprise anyone, but I'll tell you why I've decided to vote for Bush.

First, while I wasn't biased at the start of the campaign, I did feel that any challenger to Bush had to convince me why they deserved my vote. I needed to be sold, otherwise I was sticking with the president we've got. That hasn't happened.

The situation in Iraq is troublesome, indeed, but I was supportive of the reasons for going to war in the first place and I still believe there is a lot of good being accomplished there and a lot more to be accomplished in the future. So we haven't found the not-yet-smoking gun of WMD; that doesn't mean that Saddam wasn't a threat, it just means the threat hadn't entirely manifested itself. Terrorism was a problem long before 9/11, and I don't think John Kerry was unaware of the problem, nor do I think the Clinton administration is to be held at fault entirely. Our collective thinking on security hadn't evolved to take into account the type of attack we were hit with the next day. It's easy to look back today and see how wrong we were, but none of the presidential candidates in 2000 made terrorism a central issue to their campaign, especially not Bush who ran against excessive overseas involement and "nation-building." I agreed with him then, and I've changed my tune as well. No, we cannot go everywhere or oust every distasteful despot, but the events in the Middle East have a newfound meaning in our lives and I want a president who is willing to take the fight overseas when it is to our advantage. I've seen nothing from John Kerry, in his record during the cold war, during the 1991 Gulf War, nor during his campaign that makes me feel he is of a similar mind. Many others have made the same argument better than I can, so I'll just say that I believe Bush is capable of "waging the peace" (there's a phrase I never thought I'd use) despite the fact that it's been difficult to this point.

On domestic issues, they're like chocalate and vanilla - different, but neither one is all that interesting or new. I think David Hogberg's Libertarian Guide is a pretty good wrap-up of most domestic issues and Bush wins by his standard which is good enough for me at this point. While I'd like to hold Bush accountable on things like steel tariffs and farm bills, as well as his inaction on real reform of education, healthcare, or social security, I think Kerry would be worse. Meanwhile, there's war to win and that's a little more important to me.

I flirted with the idea of voting for Michael Badnarik, even as purely a protest vote that in my small way chastises Bush for his domestic failings and mistaken planning (though not nonexistent as Kerry would have one believe) in Iraq and falls short of endorsing a man, Kerry, I have little common ground with ideologically. But third parties that are so unorganized and full of internal squabbles, as the Libertarian Party is, are not worth supporting just because they won't win. The fact is, one of these two men is going to win, and I felt I needed to cast a vote with one or the other. There are a lot of thoughtful, learned, and nobly intentioned people who have decided to cast their votes the other way, and, though they may not believe it, I think I've heard and understood their arguments. Some I don't agree with, others I simply think are for a different time with a different set of candidates. In the meantime, I agree with another George, that for all his faults, it must be Bush.

Friday, October 29, 2004

I mean, I really need to move: If you think I'm whining unnecessarily about the political ads, then look no further than this.

Blogger [Sound]Bites: Three posts over last three days never saw the light due to the apparent problems Blogger was experiencing. I suppose I could complain, but then again, it's free. I guess the question is whether it's the best of the free, and I think the answer is "no". But, when you invest so much intellectual capital (well, in Eno's case anyway), in a particular url, it's hard to pack up and leave...

Let me do a quick run down then of what I wanted to say earlier, plus a few things for today.

On Tues. night, I was watching the World Series, but since the Cardinals didn't seem interested, I figured I wasn't obligated. I wandered up one channel to PBS, which had a great "Frontline" piece on the rise of the Neo-Cons, taking Cheney, Rummy and Wolfy from their early Nixon years to the present-day. Then, they threw in Powell to show the contrast. Now, this was clearly a slanted look at the Neo-Con road to perdition, but it was fascinating nonetheless. Showing early versions of the preemption doctrine that is in play today, and how it had to be modulated over time, until it was ripe for the picking (i.e. Iraq). Showing too the rancor of Powell, and how he and his truly conservative (small "c") brethren over in the Army got cut out of the power structure on the war-planning, leaving Rummy all the cards. Again, you don't have to agree with the take of the piece to still end up being enthralled. Come to think of it, maybe that's what Tony LaRussa was doing in the dugout.

I need this election to end. Unless you cut yourself off from all media, living in this state (sorry, commonwealth) has become unbearable. From the national down to the local, the ads are just overpowering and sickening. The worst yet is one by a GOP running for U.S. Rep. who is promoting the fact that a couple of individuals who are associated with Moveon.org are endorsing a particular Dem, also running for Rep. They then make the logical (in an election year) conclusion that this candidate is supportive of al-qaeda, and wants another 9/11. Lovely.

Last, I watch Paul Bremer today on "Today" regarding the new videotape, which was taken Apr. 18, 2003, or 9 days after the fall of Iraq, of what may or may not be the conventional explosives stockpile south of Iraq which is at issue. Lauer asks Bremer if this new evidence controverts the Admin's wishy-washy talking point that "we don't know all the facts." Bremer's response: "Well Matt, we don't know all the facts." With truthful, thoughtful responses like that, you wonder why we lose faith in politics.

Really, the truth is much easier than the contorted stump positions each side is locked into. We went to war based on flawed intelligence: fact. We executed a perfect knock-out punch to Saddam and his forces: fact. The world is better off without Saddam: fact. We really weren't in any near-term danger from Saddam: fact. We bungled rather massively the post-war occupation as we didn't have enough "boots on the ground" (see "Frontline" show, supra): fact. Democracy is a wonderful thing, and in the long run, the Iraqis are much better off: fact.

Admitting you make mistakes does not mean you're unqualfied, unintelligent or uncaring. It makes you human, and it shows that you can learn, because you don't make the same mistakes twice. Unfortunately, Bush doesn't see that. His blind faith in his god and his provenance compound that flaw.

I think it's misguided to believe that Kerry will put our country at risk. While the man is indecisive in political decisions, he has always shown great personal courage, and I don't think he'd be afraid to use force where needed. The best argument I can make is that our country may be more vulnerable in the lame-duck period.

However, I won't vote out of fear. That may be called foolish, naive, or simply partisan; so be it. Kerry gets this Pennsylvanian's vote.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Anyway: Blogger just ate another post and is now moving with an alacrity that would make molasses look like Grand Prix racing. (Eaten post, briefly: is it soooooo over for REM or what?) These are my thoughts (although I may revise or extend them) until we have voted, or not, as the spirit moves us.

I don't need to tell the grown-ups out there the old saw that it's all about turnout. That old hackneyed piece of pundit-shit is . . . well, it's true, actually. I think Kerry's got the turnout advantage, on paper, based on the kind of anti-Bush sentiment rolling around. (It will quite an irony if Kerry cannot harness the Bush hatred and ride it to Pennsy Ave. If anyone can blow this, Kerry can.) Then again, long about 1984, everybody seemed to think Reagan was evil, a cretin, a warmonger, and/or a dolt with a Svengali wife; plus everyone in Europe hated his guts; and Ron had just pulled a trick in Lebanon that made Bill Clinton's Somalia bug-out look like a cooly considered decision; and on top of that Reagan had bowed to congress and agreed to re-raise taxes, thus pissing his conservative base all to hell. And the Gipper stomped Mondale with 49-state brutality. You just never f*ckin' know, do you?

The Envelope, Please: Just thought I throw out some off-the-cuff kudos for election year blogging, some that just came to me and some that I've been mulling over.

First, let's get to Best Performance by a Conservative: Eric Lindholm (aka Viking Pundit) has been on John Kerry's ass from jump city, and has done so with style as well as substance, ticking off Kerry's absences from the senate and his silly windsurfing-intellectual attempts to be unsquare. The blogosphere has rightwing commentary coming out its ears, and so much of it is awful stale retreading of what the NY Post's or JWR's columnists said today. Lindholm's stuff is pithy and fresh.

Biggest 180 of the Campaign Award goes to Sullivan, of course, who has formally endorsed Kerry. He's a good writer, Sullivan, but he's been a fart in the windstorm for the past year. For three and a half years, all we heard was "Bush gets it," over and over, comparing the president, more than once, to the original JFK. Sure, it hasn't been a great year to be a gay conservative. But Kerry represents everything Sullivan has railed against for three years. He's full of shit if he expects us to belive that he's suddenly found Kerry's nuanced positions credible.

Where Are They Now Award: Radley Balko gets this, hands down. He hasn't posted at his normal (read: frenetic) pace for quite some time, preferring instead to drop Mercutio's curse and offer links to his big league writings. His neo-prohibition article for Cato was, by the way, a fasciniating read, despite a title ("Back Door to Prohibition:
The New War on Social Drinking" -- needs an exclamation point or six) that made it sound like a hyperventilationist screed. But I miss the guy who could blog about Milton Friedman, John Hiatt, the Pacers, and the crappy life in DC in two paragraphs, no sweat.

I'm My Own Parodist: This one, stewing for a long time, is a bespoke award for Glenn Reynolds. Surely you've seen the satires of the professor's breezy, "indeed"-laden, "could-be-but-I'm-not-sure style. Some days it seems that Glenn is trying to outdo his parodists. Oddly, his MSNBC cheezblog typically has more actual protein.

The Last Big Sit-down: I'm probably shooting my wad here -- at least until election night. I don't see much free time over the weekend, so in case I don't get to post some final thoughts before Tuesday . . .

The best outcome for the country might be that Bush wins the popular vote, but Kerry picks off some combination of Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Florida -- thereby winning the electoral votes the way Bush did in noughty-nought. Kerry takes the presidency, but with the diminished standing and lack of mandate that Bush was going to have until 9/11 came along. For one thing, as Flyer points out, it could be a relatively painless way for conservatives to take a few years in the woodshed to re-evaluate their national platform. (E.g.: "Do they really want to be triangulating, me-too entitlementistas?)

For another (and this is an old point), the GOP congress is more likely to catch that conservative old time religion with a Democrat in the White House, which could be a real boon, considering how this congress has rolled over every time Bush wanted to firehose some money into something like drugs for the old farts or more federal meddling in education. (I mean, for god's sake, Bush and Ted Kennedy collaborated on NCLB legislation -- the f*cking authoritative stamp of idiocy.)

That said, I'm still voting for Bush. Here's why.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

I disagree with this conclusion by Ramesh Ponnuru.

It follows that, in a certain sense, Bush's defeat next Tuesday would be the
most crushing blow that organized conservatism has received since 1964 — or,
really, ever. Reagan, our most conservative president, was not repudiated when
he ran for reelection. Bush's father and Bob Dole had too distant a relationship
with conservatism for their defeats to be attributed, by conservatives or even
plausibly by others, to their conservatism; in the case of Bush's father, it was
easy to make the case that it was precisely his unconservatism that doomed him.

I don't think the case has been made against conservatism per se in this campaign as much as it has been made against Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld, the real "Axis of Evil" so we're told. If Ramesh is speaking strictly of a tactical defeat in losing the White House, maybe he's right. Bush is a conservative, in the broadest sense of the word, and there's a chance that some narrow conservative goals might be pursued in a second term, but the inside baseball of "...Social Security reform, budget process reform, and other things that the President has endorsed" is only part of the larger strategy. Gaining conservative influence in the media and universities is just as important when it comes to advancing the conservative agenda. If Bush loses, it'll be the combination of incompetence and egotism that the Kerry campaign is hammering. The consrevative movement has plenty of problems, but I think it'll survive a Bush defeat just fine. In fact, it may cause a reevaluation of priorities that could be healthy.

Crystal high-ball: Looking into my glass I see a favorable court settlement and rising stock price in your future. Recommendation: overperform.

A study suggests that U.S. senators possess stock-picking skills that even the
most seasoned money manager would envy. During the boom years of the 1990s,
senators' stock picks beat the market by 12 percentage points a year on average,
according to the study.

I'm shocked, shocked to learn there's gambling going on in this establishment. Via instafillin Megan McArdle.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Quick Spin: Here's a worthwhile article, one of the best critiques of the "war room" campaign mentality, by the Weekly Standard's Noemie Emery. While the piece makes some good points about Kerry's rotten war room decisions, it suffers from two flaws. First, it makes the perfect the enemy of the good. Despite some of Kerry's ham-handed rapid response strategies, at least he has made an effort. Bush's strategy has been to essentially let his opponent's accusations float around, making no attempt to definitively shoot them down.

Second, Emery credits Clinton's "famed war room" with saving Bubba's bacon more than once. Odd, then, that Kerry's war room is staffed by Clinton veterans like Mike McCurry and Joe Lockhart. They just can't seem to pull off the same magic. Of course, Clinton's "comeback kid" reputation was always a myth. 1992 was the original year of the dwarves. (I've mentioned the SNL sketch before -- here -- in which all the heavyweight Dems offer excuses for not running.) Clinton's famous comeback that year was his loss (though not by as much as expected) to Paul Tsongas in New Hampshire, who's main promise seemed to be that he wouldn't die before his term was up. (And he was wrong, actually; he would have died two days before the end of his term.) Think about it. The Dems got stomped in 1988 running a liberal Greek guy from Massachusetts against George Bush. Did anyone really think the Dems were dumb enough to run against Bush in 1992 with . . . a slightly-less-liberal Greek guy (with cancer) from Massachusetts?

Of course, Emery makes the fine point that Clinton could argue that his girl trouble wasn't a policy issue, whereas Kerry's idiocy seems mainly policy related. Still, the war room wasn't even all it was cracked up to be for Clinton (who simply ended up being the biggest midget). And even if it was, Clinton needed it, since a new shady liason, whether real estate or sexual, seemed to arrive nearly every week. Kerry doesn't need it, since the man is perceived to be entirely composed of spin by much of the electorate.

Troubles I Seen: Still having trouble getting Blogger to run at better than a snail's pace. Razor and Flyer, thanks for keeping up appearances meantime.

As for the day's news:

World Series? Like I care. I know I've lived somewhere too long when I begin to root against the home team, but honestly, I've always hated Boston.

IAEA declares nearly 400 tons of explosives missing in Iraq? Somebody check behind the UN's stacks of bribe money.

Blah.

Troubles I Seen: Still having trouble getting Blogger to run at better than a snail's pace. Razor and Flyer, thanks for keeping up appearances meantime.

As for the day's news:

World Series? Like I care. I know I've lived somewhere too long when I begin to root against the home team, but honestly, I've always hated Boston.

IAEA declares nearly 400 tons of explosives missing in Iraq? Somebody check behind the UN's stacks of bribe money.

Blah.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Al Gore's not bitter: Speaking to black crowd in Florida, Gore tries to get out the vote.
"If anybody ever tells you that one vote doesn't count, you tell them to come
talk to me," he said"

Apparently one vote wouldn't have cut it, Al. Not if this is true.

"Last election, 27,000 of us voted, most of us for brother Al Gore," said Rev. Tom Diamond, of the Abyssinia Missionary Baptist Church. "The Republican Party threw out 27,000 African-American votes. By all rights brother Al Gore is the president-elect."

Well hell, the Supreme Court hasn't changed, and neither has Congress. Why should the Democrats even bother running? Bush has certainly got this one fixed as well, right?

The single payer debacle: Canada's health care system is a mess.
The total waiting time for patients between referral from a general practitioner
and treatment, averaged across all 12 specialties and 10 provinces surveyed,
increased slightly this year; rising to 17.9 weeks in 2004 (from 17.7 weeks
in
2003). “This stalling of waiting times is not a good-news story. It is
important
to remember that these waiting times are the longest that
Canadians have ever
experienced and that they exist despite record levels of
health spending,” said
Nadeem Esmail, senior health policy analyst at The
Fraser Institute and
co-author of the survey.

Bush managed to get HSA's attached to the Medicare funding bill, so at least he recognizes that a free market solution is the only long term answer to the health care question. But that's sorta like putting a trailer for The Godfather at the end of Mickey Blue Eyes and saying you've made a good mob movie. John Kerry doesn't even mention MSA's/HSA's in his great plan.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Empathy and a cop out: Razor, I agree wholly with that sentiment. Politics is more polarizing than ever and I'm suspicous of the motives on both sides - and i don't mean the pols. I had a creepy feeling during the debate series when some friends of mine were having a "debate party." Pop some popcorn and chill some beer, gather round the tube and cheer for "your guy," give the old "In your face" sign to your buddy.

A presidential election is all at once too important and too trivial to be treated like the Super Bowl, no? It feels (this year more than before, but not much) like the concept of listening to the candidates and making a choice has been replaced by picking your team at the outset and cheering for them all the way, watching every statement like a Fourth and Goal plunge up the middle. And this is certainly true of both sides, and probably of me at times as well. Is it the fault of the media, the candidates, 527's, PAC's? Is it the hypercompetitive nature of American culture, or is it that the issues we face today have so completely divided the public that the only possible result is a perfect balance between "The Left" and "The Right" with the fight escalating to a violent peak. What's the end game? How much worse can it get?

So what's the choice? I don't know. I live in North Carolina, a state that is not going to go Democratic in the Presidential election, just like Eno lives in the People's Republic which will never go Republican. I used to say I didn't consider a "protest vote" to be a viable option for me. There's no party or person who completely embodies my political thoughts (I'm sure this is true of just about everyone else) and the idea of picking one candidate inevitably involves some measure of compromise. I made a conscious compromise in 2000 supporting Bush, and I'd be okay with doing it again today if I thought it was the same bargain, but it's an entirely new calculation today, harder and more complex than before.

Now I'm beginning to realize that if making a compromise is inevitable, and if my vote really won't swing the electoral balance, maybe this is really one year where I could make a third party vote. I don't know, though. Still thinking

I doubt your vote is going to make the difference in Pennsylvania, but it's a battleground state so I don't know how you'll factor it all in.

The Lunacy of this Race: A full moon is still 5 days off, which means the Presidential Race is only going to get weirder. As if that were possible.

I'm not sure if it's the polarizing effect these two candidates have on the public, whether it is the lingering effect the laywers guns and money had on the 2000 outcome, or if the ever-growing, never-sleeping media has simply run out of things to say, but I cannot take the over-analysis of every little point, quote and otherwise insigificant event, and how each may or may not affect what happens on Nov 2.

Just take a gander over at The Note today and you'll see the following: questions over whether the Boston Red Sox will swing the race in favor of Kerry; how Theresa's "real job" quote is insulting and yet reassuring to both working and stay-at-home moms (people forget: if Hillary couldn't derail Bill [so to speak], why do they think Theresa can do much to JFK, when she's at worst, delusional?); Kerry reassuring us all he'll not give any quarter to semi-sentient life forms, be they fowl or non-specific embryonic stem cells (does Chris Reeves' wife one-issue opinion really make a difference here?); and of course, Florida will once again, be the unfortunate center of the universe come that fateful first Tuesday in Nvember (it seems four years wasn't enough time to work out the kinks in the voting process).

What will make up my mind? I don't know. I haven't yet heard the candidates' position on briefs or boxers (of course, they may not want to alienate those who wear underwear - no danger offending me then...).

MORE: And don't forget the combined hysteria of the election AND the inevitable flu pandemic to produce one of the more idiotic campaign attacks in recent memory.

Late campaign tactic: Bush to institute draft afterall.
"Two-thirds of the military want to see President Bush beat Sen. Kerry," said Mr. McClellan, "So, Karl Rove convinced the president that more soldiers means more votes for Bush-Cheney.
Heh!

Yeah, that's gonna make me subscribe: A few days ago I followed a link (I forget from where) to a TNR article, that made me login to read it. I wasn't a "user" so I went through the process of creating a user ID an all that crap, giving them my email address in the process. I even selected to receive one of the several email newsletters they offered, figuring that since I rarely remember to read TNR, either on paper or screen, it would be a good thing to see in my Inbox. First email arrives today, and the first article I click on is for "Subscribers Only." Screw you! Shouldn't I at least be allowed to read the articles you've sent me without signing up for a subscription? I don't mind "webzines" limiting some of their content to subscribers only, but if your send me an article, as a registered user, shouldn't I be allowed access to at least that content?

John Dvorak at PC Magazine is similarly frustrated, though I'm not sure I agree with his conclusion. The webside folks at Big Media sites are desperate to protect their jobs, since they make no money for the parent company. These constant registration requirements are an attempt to collect as many names as possible, so they can drag a list of email addresses back to their master, like my dog does with the occasional dead bird, hoping they'll get a pat on the head and a cookie. I have no use for the bird, and companies have no real use for all the information they collect, but I admire the pooch's effort to please. Think the folks at NYT are as easily pleased by their pets?

Starting to sink in: The bad dream that was the last 4 games of the ALCS has turned out to be real, as Daniel Drezner reminds me. I guess the law of big numbers says eventually the other guy will win, so you gotta tip your hat when they do it in dramatic fashion. It just makes the World Series a little less interesting when you know who's going to win. After all, the curse doesn't really kick in till the Sox get to the Fall Classic.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

From the dept. of post hoc ergo procter hoc: Of course the events aren't related, but I'll be watching the Redskins/Packers game with a little more interest than usual this year.

Line of the day: From Chris Suellentrop, at Slate: "He wasn't speaking French. He was speaking Freedom."

Although it seems Kerry's just as hard to understand in the "language of love."

Monday, October 18, 2004

Clerks Clash with Conservative Cohorts: Apparently this month's Vanity Fair will feature a tell-all by some of the clerks to the U.S. Supreme Court justices as to the behind-the-scenes shennanigans engaged in by the Court during the Bush v. Gore cases. Smell the outrage!
“We feel that something illegitimate was done with the Court’s power, and such an extraordinary situation justifies breaking an obligation we’d otherwise honor,” one clerk told the magazine. “Our secrecy was helping to shield some of those actions.”


Now, if these clerks had some evidence of Karl Rove sneaking envelopes of Benjamins to Rhenquist late at night, then I'd say there was something worthy of publication. But the fact that these clerks are spilling their guts years after the event, only to express their un-solicited opinions, and that VF is publishing only to coincide with this election, stinks to high-heaven of the bias of which main stream media so vehemently denies exists.

Even for me, this is ridiculous.

Hmmm... Kaus looks at the Washington Post's tracking numbers, noting that the fastest growth is among Nader voters. I think we can take this simply as reliable evidence that Kerry and Bush have just about maxed out their favorables.

This Is Funny: Well, not ha-ha funny. The post below, from 10/15, which complains of Blogger eating my typing, was itself eaten on 10/15. Here it is 10/18, and it shows up! Dealing with Blogger is getting to be like a two minutes' hate, my dose of rage for the day. I must say, it makes me nicer to my family to have taken out all my snger on the poky, tempermental, and altogether execrable Blogger. Is that enough for me. We'll see. For now, I'll copy and paste my posts to a Word doc to hold until my session is done.

Sick of the Flu: [By the way, I am fully aware that by writing the following I'm guaranteeing myself a strong dose of the influenza virus in the ensuing months, but this needs to be said...for the good of us all.]

"The sky is falling, the sky is falling!" No, not Chicken Little, but just about everyone else in the media or medical establishment with regard to the flu season. Now, before I go on my rant, it is true that some English company that makes about half of the U.S. supply of the flu vaccine somehow, in some way, went kaput, and so, we're short by several million doses. Accordingly, there is some merit to the notion that the flu season will not be fun.

However, the undisputed facts are that over 90% of the fatalities from flu are people over 65. Now, does this mean I'm insensitive to the lives of our elderly population? No. But these folks are, to be blunt, the weakest among us, and are much more likely to die, if not from the flu, then from many other illnesses or accidents. Hmm, that sounded pretty callous too.

I guess what I mean is that the flu isn't going to wipe out a disproportionate number of us. The average "season" results in about 36,000 flu-related deaths. This is approximately the same number of elderly americans that die from "accidents" each year as well. In many cases, the flu aggravates a pre-existing condition, which may have resulted in death anyway. The point is no one tells us how many otherwise brimming-with-health people are suddenly struck down by the flu. That, in my humble opinion, would be the more telling statistic.

But every year, the media screams at us, to incite out-and-out panic, that the killer flu is on the way, and that there's really no hope, so you should just give up. And every year, we see pictures of lines of older folks, standing in the cold or heat, trying desperately to get that last bit of vaccine ("Will they make it, or will they die on the spot? Pictures at 11!"). Every year.

You would think in a country that ensure that every last person gets to see a television ad decrying Kerry's swift boat service, that we could organize a few doctors to make sure that the vaccine went to those who most need it. It would seem that a few reassuring words from doctors, along the lines of -- "We've learned from our previous errors. We have stockpiled more than enough vaccine, and everyone in risk that needs one, will get it. You may now go about your daily lives." -- just might do the trick.

I remember last year was supposed to be one of the worst. Why? No one knows, but surely, a pandemic was upon us. I remember hearing on the Today Show about a young boy who was struck down by the virus in Colorado. I braced myself for the onslaught of deaths, and then....nothing. Again, I don't discount those who have died, I just mean the flu killed no more than any other year.

Wash your hands, stay home if you feel sick, and above all, turn off your t.v. Just read FauxPolitik. Everything here is rosy, 24/7 (except when Eno ties one on).

Friday, October 15, 2004

Sigh: I'm trying, really. Blogger just ate about 500 words of this morning's drivel. My wife is hiding the ball-peen hammer now. Grrr. Short version:

1) If you scotch tape your Kerry bumper sticker to the inside of your rear window, I will laugh at you. No doubt you just finished scraping all the remnants of the Howard Dean sticker off your car and have learned your lesson about supporting flaky Democrats.

2) Buy some 8 O'Clock Bean. Brew it. Drink it. Coffee fetishism has reached the point of diminishing returns. Either it's some home-roasted, hand-ground twaddle, or it's a trip to Starbucks for dessert, with sprinkles, syrup, whipped cream, and artificial hazelnut/coconut/irish cream/raspberry/chocolate liqueur flavoring. Seven dollars. Jesus, stop it already.

3) Still thinking about the Mary Cheney thing. Don't like those who say Kerry "outed" her. I think she was "out" already. Still, it was tasteless, and you don't have to be a "gay = immoral" type to think so.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

More Debate: As usual, let's go to the partisans for the commentary. Fred Barnes says Bush was the big wow:
What do you want to achieve in a presidential debate? You want to hammer home your campaign themes. You want to put your opponent on the defensive. You want to sell yourself personally. And you want to avoid a gaffe or a damaging sound bite. Bush did all four in Wednesday night's third and final nationally televised debate with John Kerry. It was his best debate performance ever and that includes his three debates with Al Gore in 2000. As a result, it may have won Bush a second White House term.
It may have done so (though I doubt it). But professional pundits should pull their pants up and make a prediction. I can tell you that it may have done this-or-that. Earn your money, Freddy.

For the ultimate indulgence in partisan post-debate self-delusion, here's Noam Scheiber with the opposite fantasy, that Kerry kicked ass . . . yet again:

I've never thought the chances of John Kerry winning this fall were very good, since it's become clear these last four years that George W. Bush and his advisers are more cynical and ruthless than pretty much any group of politicos in the country's history. [Uh, Noam, ever heard of Lyndon F*cking Johnson?] I figured that even if the race got close--or, God forbid, Kerry surged to a late lead--Rove et al. would pull some dirty trick and that would be that. This may still happen--the forthcoming anti-Kerry "documentary" being exhibit A in this brief. But, after last night, I'm not sure it matters. Kerry won so decisively I don't see many ways for Bush to recover.
Well, at least he's taking a stand. That said, both Johnson and Nixon were scorched-earthers to make Bush and his team look like a knitting circle. Scheiber must live in a pretty typical "Evil Republicans" fantasy world. How else can he point the finger at Dirty George with both Kerry and Edwards taking every opportunity to remind the world that, ahem, you know, not to put too fine a point on it, but . . . Dick Cheney's kid is a kiss-curl bulldyke, wink wink. This dirty trick is, of course, not mentioned at all at TNR -- the point being that if you bring it up, you must think there is something shameful about being queer. (Lizzie "Nearsighted from Watching the Krispy Kreme Sign" Edwards said as much about the Cheneys themselves.) Like it or not, there are a lot of people in the country who are still uncomfortable with homosexuality. Kerry knows it, Edwards knows it, and they are just, er, tickled pink to spend lots of time "complimenting" the Cheneys on their daughter.

Update: Even TNR's own Pete Beinart was unequivocal, calling Kerry's comment "a cheap shot" while talking to Hugh Hewitt. (Afraid to put it in an editorial, Petey? Might hurt John-John's chances.) Plus Hugh's got Mary Beth Cahill on record calling Ms. Cheney "fair game." That's a hunting metaphor. It means you can shoot at her. Which Kerry did. Watch her try to weasel out of that one.

Third of Three: Another draw. How could it not be? Bush was solid; Kerry was solid. Schieffer is as liberal a media suck-ass as you can find, as he demonstrated again last night. For example:
Schieffer: Mr. President, how can the voters truly know, I mean really sure as shootin' know, that you aren't actually getting a cheap thrill out of dead Americans in body bags?
Compared with:
Schieffer: Senator Kerry, how the heck did you make us wait this long to vote for you? You should have run for this office di-rect from your momma's womb. Why don't you take two minutes to work out on the topic of your choice. Great suit, by the way . . .
Kerry perhaps hit the high water mark of the night by telling a joke at (his own expense) that actually got a laugh. He looked good doing it, too. Some folks have mentioned that the reaction shot from Theresa was ice. Query: Does that make Kerry look less like a kept man, or more?

Great Bush moment: The "painting on the wall" story. Bush's great unstudied talent is to take an obviously scripted moment like this and make it human and compelling. (He's better at this than Reagan, who always sounded scripted, but charmed you into forgiving him for it because it was a damned good script.)

"OnStar: Not just for directions anymore.": Secret logs of OnStar representatives and customers...the ones They tried to hide.

Heheh.

Can you hear it?: It's coming in the air tonight (or at an undisclosed time in the future, if talks with the potential stars don't get tripped up). Break out the shades and pastels, get those socks off your feet, and cue the drum machine. Everything old is new again.

Apparently, we'll let anyone in: Just as our nation was beginning to turn the corner on the nightmare of 9/11, this happens. Oh the humanity! Can our nation withstand this blow?

I call on all Americans (REAL Americans, not people from other countries) to band together and burn their "Ace Ventura" videos (but not "The Truman Show" because that was kind of arty and all).

If it walks like a duck, vibrates like a duck:...it's most definitely not a duck, but a perverted sex toy!

Which you can buy here...you know, just in case your three-year-old wants to massage his uh, scalp.

Link props to FARK.

What do I know: Polls are giving it, mostly, to Kerry, so I must be out of touch (Let them drink Chivas!). Who knew? I thought I was a regular guy.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Post-game analysis: And no, I'm not talking baseball.

I haven't watched any pundits or read any blogs, so this is pretty raw. I think Bush did very well, at least on the human side. The CW was that domestic issues would be his achilles heal, that he had to make his big hit in the first debate on foreign policy. I doubted this all along, since Bush is really at his best talking "American Values" that play well when talking economic growth, education, etc. He was weak, expectedly so, on trade and lacked any specifics on education. I don't agree with him on gay marriage, either, but it's not really a voting issue for me (although Eno's accused me of being a little bit "Metro"), but Kerry's really no different.

Bush did hit home a little, though, when saying that the issue ought not be decided by courts. True, but Congress ain't much better and it's not an issue I want to see solved by Constitutional ammendment. Leave it in the states, I guess. I know that opens up a whole can of worms, but I'm not going there tonight.

Kerry, on the other hand, is all smoke and mirrors. I just don't hear anything from him that makes me say, "I could vote for this guy." I certainly don't buy him talking the fiscal conservative game, and all the rest is either nitpicking Bush on (over)funding this program or the other, or trashing an economic/jobs status that is better than expected after a burst bubble and an economically destructive terrortist attack. Doesn't ring with me.

As for who won the debate, as I said, I think both guys were on their game. The talking points were coming fast and furious and neither guy got flustered badly or got in a home-run line. A pitcher's duel, so to speak. And did I mention that the Yankees won?


Theeeeee Yankees win: NY beats Team Facial Hair. And Mariano Riviera is effin' awesome.

No more blogging! Back to baseball, and a beer for godsakes.

Closing statements: Kerry wants us to embark on journey. And wish upon a star, I guess. Bush is good on the "vision thing." "Thanks Dad!"

Last question: A softball. Bush is connecting with good humor, but there was little substance. Consider the question, though. Kerry's trying, but I hear more groans than laughter for him. And Teresa looks PISSED!

Post 9/11: Kerry's losing the Micheal Moore vote here. Well, not really. That would be impossible.

Religion: I'm not particularly religious, so I listened closely to Bush's answer. I think he handled it well. Kerry's going nowhere.

Sidenote: It's tough to tell without reflection, but I think this is a better debate than we've seen so far. I missed Friday's, but from what I can tell both are on their game better than in either of the others.

Global test: Bush won that round, handily I think, by bringing up the Gulf War vote.

Confused: I can't follow the jumping from one question to another. Abortion relates to education funding how?

Bush: Agrees with me.

Minimum wage: The economics on this are debatble, but I do believe that it has a serious downside. Besides, is another $1.85 an hour really going to make that big a difference? How can we get people out of minimum wage jobs is the real question.

Immigaration: Bush is good, has specifics. They may be debatable (later, please), but Kerry is full of....well, nothing. Except rewarding illegal aliens, apparently.

Kerry on SS: Don't worry, he's got a plan.

Privatizing SS: Soothe the fears of seniors, move on. Well done. He also says it will be a vital issue in his next term. Why wasn't it in his first term?

Checking Kerry's plan: Is someone checking on those "two news outlets?" Was one of them CBS? Ha!

I can't keep up: But I think he just opened the door to John Edwards. Now Kerry's going on about Canadian drug importation. A go nowhere strategy for reducing the price of anything.

Bush's turn: Good words, but for the first time he looked uncomfortable. I don't know why, he's not out of his element on this.

Abortion: A woman, God, and her doctor. A new Holy Trinity. This is good fodder for his base, though.

Kerry's turn on gays: And he goes right to Mary Cheney. Also, is there anyone he hasn't met.

Gay marriage: Once again, MEGO. But I bet Andrew Sullivan's freaking out.

Stop playing with my votes: And here come Ronnie Raygun again. And Kerry has a smile on his face that makes me wonder what he's doing below the podium.

Subsidizing business: Kerry's got a point there, we could close some tax loopholes, but he went off the reservation after that.

More numbers: I'm lost in Kerry's recitation of statistics. And he ended by reciting Bush's argument.

Jobs/education: A nice transition, and it's true. He can't exactly quote Schumpeter's "destroy to create" theorem, so it's his best tactic.

Budget man: That just makes me laugh.

Ahh, the jobs meme: I think we all know this is bullshit. But it should set Bush up well, if he can take advantage.

Flu vaccine?: Oh boy. MEGO.

Bush is absolutely giddy: Talking about elections in Afghanistan. Methinks that will come up again.

Just tuning in: John Kerry's already talking about "rushing to war." I thought this was supposed to be domestic issues. Oh, it's "Homeland Security." And he just mentioned Reagan for the first time. I think he's obsessed.

Tense 2nd inning: I'll get to the debate in a minute.

Oh, all right: I left a link at Vodkaman's site, so I guess I'll be liveblogging, at least between pitches.

Tonight: I'm absolutley giddy with anticipation. Of course, we all know who will win. What? Uh....someone just told me there was also some presidential thing going on. I was talking about the important event of the evening.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Channeling Rudy: Rudy G. speaks out on Kerry's confused approach to terrorism. I just knew it wouldn't sit well with him.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Winning the War on Terror: Eugene Volokh is talking about John Kerry's fundamental view on terrorism, essentially looking at it the same way we look at illegal gambling or prostitution, a problem that will never go away but that we can control to the point that it's not our main focus. Here's the Kerry quote:

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

I get where Kerry's coming from, but I think he's wrong. We've been waging stupid, symbolic wars on everything from drugs, to cancer, to poverty for decades, and they are all still a fact of life, to a greater or lesser extent can be argued (for instance, there are probably more instances of cancer diagnosis today than thirty years ago, despite massive effort to treat it and prevent it, the best we can). It's a bad way to describe the effort because it implies something that can be won, which is of course false. Our efforts to "defeat terror" are much the same, and it's fair for Kerry to point that out; there will always be terrorists and if we propose to wage a "war" on them until they're gone, we're going to be very tired and frustrated when it doesn't happen. Being vigilant, but not frenzied, is the proper attitude.

And that was a good point to make on September 10, 2001. Terrorism was something that happened mostly overseas, and when it did reach our shores, we, and our buildings, were too strong to be hurt seriously by a couple of ragheads with a backpack full of Semtex. We can't "win the war" but we can change the climate that creates it much more if we take the fight overseas, regardless of the feelings we hurt in the Brussels.

After all, there's still certainly plenty of gambling and prostitution in NYC, but Rudy Guiliani didn't clean up Times Square by holding a summit with street punks.

Via instapundit.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Bush/Kerry Round II: At the end of the debate, I turned to my wife and said, "What did you think?" Alas, she was asleep, which I think may have been the only logical reaction to the two idiots onstage.

Bush was, obviously, much improved from last weeks performance. He was obviously more comfortable than Kerry. He was funnier, more at ease among "the people." (All of Kerry's attempts at humor, on the other hand, landed with a clang.) So give this one to Bush. He was in his element. That said, both were wooden when nudged off their talking points, Kerry incoherently so. I don't think many minds were changed last night.

High points: 1) Kerry quoting Potter Stewart about how a well written court opinion is one in which you can't tell if it was wrtitten by "a man or a woman; a Muslim, a Jew, or a Christian; a Harvard faculty member or a backhoe operator; my mother or a household pet." Something like that. Whatever, I'm pretty sure that's not what Stewart said. 2) Bush's weird posture. 3) Kerry saying "Go figure!" at the end of one of his incoherent spells. 4) Bush's stark inability, after Kerry repeatedly took credit for the 90s economic boom (but not the bubble), to say, "Senator, if you think the government, rather than hard-working Americans, made that economy grow, you definitely shouldn't be president." 5) Kerry: "I was in Kyoto." On his way back from Cambodia, no doubt. 6) Bush, on a Kerry answer: "That answer made me want to scowl." 7) Kerry again invokes Reagan as a foreign policy leader of great merit, one Kerry himself would seek to imitate. Look up the Congressional Record for Kerry's first term. He was the Rufus T. Firefly of Reagan's Cold War policy: Whatever it is, I'm against it!

And now, to the partisans: Ryan Lizza at TNR says, naturally, that Kerry won handily. Why?

Here is the simplest way to figure out who won the debate last night: When you went to bed, were you thinking more about Bush or Kerry? I was concentrating on the president. I kept thinking about the way he was yelling through the first half of the debate. I couldn't get the picture of him during the cutaway shots out of my head--that blinking blank face, obviously trying hard not to make any of those funny expressions from the first debate.
That seems like a good way to score a debate . . . when no other scoring rubric can put your boy on top. And here's Hugh Hewitt on how much ass Bush kicked. Hewitt at least has an argument. But, again, I say little changed last night. This election will come down to (as Kerry would say) "gut check time" in the voting booth. That calculus favors Bush, I think.

Friday, October 08, 2004

Of particular use tonight: How to have fun with statistics. Let's envision how Kerry and Bush might use some statistics to their advantage:

Kerry: "More American soldiers have been killed in Iraq than in the entire 100 Years War!"

Bush: "John Kerry only served four more months in Vietnam than I. Heck, than Cheney or Ashcroft, for that matter."

Kerry: "This administration has lost more jobs in the internet-related fields than Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush combined!"

Bush: "Kerry has zero support from the ranchers and cattlemen of the very state he has represented in the Senate for decades!"

Anyway, I'm sure they can do better than that.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

About Rodney: Is it just me? I mean, the man was a hoot, but why is he being eulogized as Lenny Bruce, Richard Pryor, and George Carlin incognito at the big room at Grossinger's? Read TNR's pitiful farewell; it's a freaking meditation on hardship, and a shoo-in for poseur line of the week:
Laced into nearly every Rodney joke is an affecting aspect of emotional pain. "I can't get no respect" becomes the mantra, and it's easy to look at an unattractive maker of dirty jokes and laugh at him. But in the end the mantra is just a marketable package designed to allow him to distribute effective zingers marinated in deep meaning.
"Zingers marinated in deep meaning"? Check, please. I know plenty of people with lives of hardship, some shittier than Rodney's -- and without the money and fame. I'm not bashing the man, here, but he did make a pile in the 70s and 80s, even if he did blow it all on the trifecta of booze, coke, and hookers. Sure, sure, money can't buy happiness, and all that rot. Tell you what, if your money ain't making you happy, send it my way; you ain't using it right.

I thought Rodney was funny, particularly in Easy Money and, to a lesser extent, Back to School (which would have been better if the film-makers hadn't decided to go for the PG rating). But it was all on well-worn territory. Rodney, despite making the no-respect-loser persona clearly his, never told a joke that he couldn't have turned around and sold to any other Jewish comic except Woody Allen.

It seems like every day the bar gets lower for the media-canonization of yet another dead celebrity. Jesus.

But this one goes to 11: For those days when you want to listen to your stereo, from eighteen miles away, I give you "The Brain Pulverizer".

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

499,999 bloggers: Sorry Eno, I didn't watch it (although I've got it recorded on DVR, so I may watch it eventually. Right now I'm more concerned with watching the Yankees struggle to get past the Twins. Big los last night, and tonight looks bad already.

I thought it was interesting that the VRWC of bloggers called it for Cheney pretty quick, but Big Media painted it as a draw. Well, interesting if you're fascinated by the overly predictable. I'd just as soon watch a city council debate over leash laws, for all the import a VP debate has. And for that matter, I'll be missing Friday's Town Hall debate, as well. Camping near Ashville this weekend.


Can there be a winner in the V.P. Debate?: While I tend to agree that Cheney was the better on substance and preparation (he was wrong about never meeting Edwards before, however as Russert pointed out this morning), and pretty good on presentation, I still think that it sends a bad message to have the Veep look more presidential than the President. Let's face it: if Cheney had any charisma whatsoever, W would still be looking for work (of course with Daddy around, he'd get it).

So the question is, are people voting for W b/c they know they get Cheney, or do they vote for W because they think he still brings something to the table? About the only thing of substance I can come up with, is W's faith-based leanings - clearly, people identify with his born-again spirituality, and like someone with moral convictions w/r/t his stances on the moral issues in domestic politics.

Senator Hair certainly has the Clinton thumb-strike, and the hair. But what he lacks is the ability to laugh at himself. He takes himself way too seriously. Clinton always had that glimmer in his eye that told you, "Hey, I get the joke, but I'm going to do this thing anyway" (and yes, the glimmer meant more than that). Edwards just has this pious drone about poor working americans, my dad in the mill, blah blah blah. And yes, he has represented probably hundreds of poor people, but he never took one pro bono case, and instead, reaped about $150MM in jury awards. I'm not drinking his revival tent kool aid.

So, Cheney victorious, but again, his strengths only undercut W's weaknesses.

What? No rash of posts on the all-important VP debate? Don't be falling down on the job, now, boys. I'll step right up and admit that I turned it off before it was over; about 10:00, Eastern Daylight, I'd had my fill. What can you say? Dick Cheney is thoroughly competent in a dull, rather technocratic kind of way. He had facts at his disposal. He was prepared and articulate. You can see why he was a successful CEO. And, like Kerry the other night, he won -- on paper.

That said, John Edwards was also prepared and articulate, even if his manner was condescending, embarrassing in its aw-shucks folksiness. It was like watching a huckleberry car salesman who thinks he's charming the knickers off Auntie Em down at Charlie's Used Lot. It's disgusting and transparent, and (viz Bill Clinton) it seems to work on many Americans.

Now, honestly, I don't know what to think. I found Edwards unctuous and sly. I'd count Grammy's silver dessert spoons after a visit from Edwards. But I thought the same of Clinton, and America still is not over its romance with the big lug. So Edwards's dip-spit charm and greasy smile might just do the trick. He was certaily the winner last night in the style category. Some of his winning moments included the rap on Cheney for opposing the Department of Education, way back when (as only a barbarian could, right?); the Halliburton stuff, mud that he made stick by sheer plod; and the Tora Bora point, to which Cheney never really had a comeback.

You'd like to think that Americans would see the competence in Cheney, but Senator Handsome seems to fit the empty-headed but blandly attractive zeitgeist of celebrity-driven America. To put it plainly, he looks good enough to be somebody important, even if he's not. That might be all he needs.

That said, who the hell watched, other than me and half a million bloggers?

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Not required reading: Or viewing, for that matter, but if you have any love for the Star Wars Trilogy (the first one) then you might like Johnathan Last's take on the new DVD release. I agree completely with his overall view on George Lucas' gluttony when it comes to his movies. Let's just say he never misses a chance to squeeze a buck out of the beloved. I've recently watched the latest rendering of the movies, and I was very disappointed with most of the changes. The opening scene of Jedi, in Jabba's lair, is campy enough to make you long for Jar-Jar Binks, and Last exposes the inconsistencies of putting Hayden Christiansen into the final scene, as Luke looks on the images of Yoda, Obi-Wan, and Anakin. The sound of the movies has always been impressive, but I don't know if it's any better now, for the average viewer at home, anyway. That kind of improvement needs the theater, I think. In all, Empire is the least changed and therefore remains the best of the lot.

Friday, October 01, 2004

I appreciate the blogger's kind sentiments, and I hold him in high regard. His service to The Firm is admirable, and his skill and daring on the lacrosse field make all Americans proud. It's good to know, in these days of fringe politics, that what unites us (beer!) is stronger than what divides us (you forgot the damn beer!).

By the way: Eno, I admire the way you follow up a day of vodka and beer with semi-stale Canadian donuts. I admire your affection for linen. I respect your service to this Blog, no matter that you forgot to show up for your physical, and other related duties, for nearly the entire month of August.

Flyer, I admire your handicap (the golf one, not the mental thing). I admire your steadfast avoidance of sobriety. I respect that you, on most days, get your shoes on the right feet.

Kerry wins: But he's still wrong, and James Lileks makes it clear why. It's not polite for the President to speak this clearly, but if Bush would say this, he'd win in a landslide:
Here’s the thing. I’d really like to live in John Kerry’s world. It seems like
such a rational, sensible place, where handshakes and signatures have the power
to change the face of the planet. If only the terrorists lived there as well.

Via instapundit


Sober . . . is the wrong way to score a debate, Razor. I appreciate your analysis, but when were these things ever won or lost on debating points? Reagan wasn't exactly playing the policy wonk when he said "There you go again!" to Carter. As I mentioned below, having the better debating style was no help to Gore in 2000. This is all about intangibles. As a debate, yes, Kerry won. But both men trod water for 90 minutes. If Kerry gains, it will be a blip, about enough to steal the last of Bush's convention bounce. That's all.

The Fun Part: Now go back and read the partisans' comments. Great, delusional stuff. Hugh Hewitt calls this a Bush triumph, while TNR's Ryan Lizza effuses:
There are three keys to presidential debates: expectations, style, and substance. Kerry won on all of them.
You could claim, as I mentioned, that Al Gore won on at least two of those three criteria in 2000, but lost the debates. I'll wait and see how Kerry played in Peoria.

Neither candidate redefined himself, neither shifted "the dynamic on the ground" (to recycle an overused bogus phrase from last night). Here's one big factor you won't read about elsewhere, though: This debate played to Bush's strong suit -- the war. The other debates will cover turf more friendly to Kerry. So tonight was Bush's best chance to put Kerry away; he did not. If you liked hearing Kerry say "As you will see at johnkerrydotcom, I have a thirty-point plan . . ." you're going to be in hog heaven at the domestic policy debate.

Sober Analysis: First of all, you two complain of Kerry's snobbishness while you both swill English concoctions that the American People can't afford. You obviously have benefited from the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy. Either that or you really are part of our broad, international alliance against terror. Still, doesn't Rolling Rock do it for you anymore? God, how you've both changed.

I don't know if this is possible, but either you score it as a debate, or you score it as two opposing commercials. If it's a debate, I don't know how you call it a draw or a weak win for Kerry. If it's a debate, Kerry fucking wiped the floor with Bush. I mean, a debate is about a) elocution, b) preparedness, and c) persuasion.

On elocution (and using the 10 point must system), it's Kerry 9, Bush 5 (note his use of "vociferously" early on; mixing up Bin Laden and Hussein; "loving" the widow of a soldier, etc.). Kerry had a couple of stumbles, but all-in-all, the man is a good speaker, and he doesn't squirm like Bushie.

On preparedness, it's Kerry 8, Bush 6. Kerry had a lot of good stats to throw out, and a couple stuck (90% of costs and casualties; other countries that were more dangerous than Iraq when invaded). Kerry also was decent on offering specifics, although clearly, not too specific. He is not very good on his Iraq plan, but with such a fluid situation, what is there to offer? Bush kept falling back on the conclusory statement of "we're making progress". How? Tell me? Other than training 100,00 Iraqis (in what capacity we're never told exactly), what progess have we made? Yes, we have 10 MM registering to vote in Afghanistan, with nearly half women, but when you start at nearly 0, it's hard not to improve. The January elections aren't fooling anybody either. He talked about "hard choices" repeatedly, but that's a throwaway. More meat, please.

On persuasion, it was closer I'll admit. It's clear Bush is content with staying-the-course and hoping for the best. Don't admit mistakes, talk about how the world has changed. Kerry scored with Bush shifting focus from Afghanistan before being done, but he really, really dropped the ball on his voting for the funding. He failed to persuade me that in voting for the $87B, he wasn't voting for the War Bush created. I think there were ways to do it. I also think he could have done more on the N. Korea comparisons. In every measurable way, N. Korea is more of a threat than Iraq ever was, yet we do nothing - literally nothing. Bush was good on pointing out the Kerry inconsistencies, but he fails to justify his stalwart decisions (Kerry tried to take advantage of this by saying just b/c you're sure, doesn't mean you're right - not bad, but not great). I score it 7 Kerry, 6 Bush.

This was more a debate of not hurting yourself, rather than drawing opposing blood. Again, scoring like a debate, Kerry is the clear winner, only if because his opponent is so bad. There was little real logical argument. Neither side acknowledged mistakes, which helps you avoid catastrophe, but prevents you from being entirely credible. Not that I expect that mind you.

I can't help myself: I want Clinton back, if only for the same reasons Eno wants Bush to win - to wipe the smug smiles away.