Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Making A Federal Case Out of Almost Everything

It's time to rediscover constitutional limits

Guest Post by Gene Healy

"Don't make a federal case out of it," we used to tell people who blew things out of proportion. But that phrase is quickly losing its bite as the federal government expands its jurisdiction to every area of American life.

Responding to the Barry Bonds-Jason Giambi steroid scandal, Senator John McCain (R-AZ) recently threatened to bring the federal hammer down on Major League Baseball: "Major-league baseball players and owners should meet immediately to enact the standards that apply to the minor leagues, and if they don't, I will have to introduce legislation that says professional sports will have minimum standards for testing," McCain said on December 3rd. (Up next, perhaps, legislation to revoke the American League's designated hitter rule.)

The week before McCain issued his threat, the Justice Department fought in the Supreme Court to maintain the right to jail sick people taking marijuana on the advice of their doctors and with the approval of their state government. On November 29, the Supreme Court heard oral argument in Ashcroft v. Raich, a case involving two desperately ill women who use marijuana and seek protection from prosecution under federal drug laws. Acting solicitor general Paul Clement told the Court that medicine grown in one's own backyard for home consumption was a national matter, subject to Congress's power to regulate interstate commerce—despite the fact that there is nothing remotely commercial or interstate about the conduct at issue.

Those are just two recent examples of a federal government that views its jurisdiction as limitless. That's a view quite at odds with the one held by the Constitution's Framers. The document they drafted envisioned a federal government focused on national issues, such as "war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce," in Madison's words. Even the most devoted advocate of national power, Alexander Hamilton, agreed, explaining in Federalist 17 that under the Constitution, "the ordinary administration of criminal and civil justice" would be left to the states.

We've drifted far from that understanding. Congress's power to "regulate Commerce...among the states," which was designed to eliminate state-level trade barriers, has become a limitless font of federal power, used to regulate or criminalize behavior better left to the states or the civil law.

With commerce clause limits eviscerated, almost anything can be a federal crime. We've gone from a Constitution that mentions only three federal crimes (treason, piracy, and counterfeiting) to a federal criminal code with over 4,000 separate offenses, some of them stunningly trivial. In 2002, President Bush signed legislation making it a federal crime to move birds across state lines to engage in fights. The ban on cockfighting joined such notable federal crimes as interstate transport of unlicensed dentures (punishable by up to a year in prison), tampering with an odometer (up to three years), and pretending to be a member of the 4-H Club (up to six months). These and other offenses larded throughout the U.S. code could make for an interesting conversation with one's cellmate: "What are you in for, kid?"

But out-of-control federalization is only rarely amusing. It brings serious costs. In addition to the trivial crimes mentioned above, Congress has federalized a host of ordinary street crimes already covered by state criminal codes, crimes like arson, carjacking, and gun possession by felons. Shunting these cases into federal court causes huge delays to civil litigants and unsustainable pressure on the federal courts. Chief Justice Rehnquist has characterized the result as "a crisis in workload." Forcing the federal courts to handle workaday criminal matters crowds out civil suits and leads to huge delays for civil litigants because criminal defendants have a constitutional right to a speedy trial and everyone else has to wait in line.

Moreover, a federal government focused on everything from cockfighting to steroid use is a federal government that's not focused on truly national issues. Case in point: In the months leading up to the September 11 attacks the FBI was engaged in an 18-month-long sting operation at a brothel in New Orleans that netted 12 prostitutes. September 11 should have concentrated the mind wonderfully as to proper federal priorities, yet federal law enforcement to this day continues to behave like the local vice squad.

But the most important costs of overfederalization are the costs to the rule of law. A federal criminal code that covers everything essentially delegates to prosecutors and police the power to pick targets they think they should get rather than offenses that need to be prosecuted—leaving everyone at risk. That is unacceptable in a country that still considers itself a government of laws and not of men. It's well past time we rediscovered the wisdom of constitutional limits.

Gene Healy is senior editor at the Cato Institute, and editor of the new book Go Directly to Jail: The Criminalization of Almost Everything. This essay originally appeared at Reason Online

Friday, December 17, 2004

Question Authority

Guest post by John R. Guardiano

To the media, it was a dramatic revelation of Bush administration hypocrisy and incompetence: A lowly American GI courageously speaks truth to power, thus showing that the emperor has no clothes. But to this Marine veteran of the Iraq war, the hullabaloo over Army Spc. Thomas J. Wilson's question reveals far more about media bias, prejudice and ignorance than it does about the U.S. military and Iraq.

Spc. Wilson asked Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld why, nearly two years after the start of the war, his unit still has too few "up-armored" humvees. The media were surprised that an enlisted man would ask so direct and pointed a question of the Pentagon's highest official. I wasn't.

I enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserve after Sept. 11, 2001, and served in Iraq in 2003. Throughout boot camp, combat training and subsequent preparation for war, my instructors always stressed the importance of independent thinking and initiative. Obviously, when you're in the middle of a firefight, you cannot--and must not--second-guess split-second command decisions. However, when preparing for war, thoughtful and considered questions are not only tolerated; they are encouraged--even demanded, I found.

As one of my combat instructors told us: "Marines, you're more likely to die from someone doing something stupid than because the enemy is skilled and ingenious. So make sure you've thought things through and that everyone's on the same page. Be polite. Be tactful. But don't be afraid to ask questions."

I soon discovered that this command to think and to ask questions wasn't mere rhetoric. I was serving with the First Battalion, Fourth Marine Regiment at an abandoned pistol factory in Al Hillah, about 60 miles south of Baghdad. Every three weeks or so, we were visited by Lt. Gen. James N. Mattis, who was then commanding the First Marine Division in Iraq.

Gen. Mattis is a Marine's Marine, a true warrior who speaks bluntly and candidly, without being bound by the constraints of political correctness. For well over an hour, on a routine and regular basis, the general would gather together his Marines and field questions. Nothing was out of bounds. The event was entirely democratic and thoroughly American--though marked by standard military etiquette and respect for rank. Thus, newsmen and commentators who fear "retribution" against Spc. Wilson haven't a clue as to what the U.S. military is all about. Spc. Wilson asked a tough but fair question; however, for any U.S. serviceman who's ever been to war, this was hardly surprising.

Nor does his question demonstrate, as some have argued, that the Iraq war was ill-conceived or poorly planned. War is, by its very nature, surprising and unpredictable; it forces us to adapt and to be innovative. Armchair "experts" notwithstanding, the fact is no one anticipated the Baathist-Sunni insurgency, certainly not the U.S. military. We all expected to knock off Saddam Hussein and his elite Republican Guard and then head home in time for the July 4 celebrations. That's why, when I deployed to Iraq in 2003, I traveled throughout the country in a standard canvas humvee with no special armor. Nor did I have any special body vest or protection.

I thought nothing of this at the time and still don't. My team went as far north as Baghdad, but we were situated mainly south of the Sunni Triangle, in predominantly Shiite Iraq. Throughout our entire time there, the Iraqis welcomed us as liberators. We were well prepared for the threat as it then existed and as we understood it.

But when my old Marine Corps reserve unit redeployed to Iraq in September, it did so with fully armored vehicles, new sappy plated vests and special goggles--all designed to protect against shrapnel and improvised explosive devices. That's because the unit was deploying to Fallujah, and the threat there was different from what we had faced in southern, Shiite Iraq.

This type of change and adaptation has occurred in all wars from time immemorial. It reflects not poor planning but the unpredictable nature of war. That's why the Defense Department has been moving quickly to up-armor its humvees, producing nearly 400 such vehicles a month, up from 30 a month in August 2003, according to Army Lt. Gen. R. Steven Whitcomb.

The U.S. military ultimately wants 8,100 up-armored humvees versus the nearly 6,000 such vehicles that it has currently, Gen. Whitcomb told reporters last week. Moreover, according to the Army vice chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Richard A. Cody, the military long ago embarked on a "Manhattan-like project" to remotely jam IEDs with radio sensors.

If you're an American soldier or Marine whose life is on the line now, clearly that's not good enough. On the other hand, it simply isn't true that U.S. military leaders have callously ignored the troops' request for up-armored vehicles and other protective equipment. In fact, most of our troops in Iraq have up-armored vehicles, and units there take force protection quite seriously.

Delays ought to be blamed on the military bureaucracy, which Secretary Rumsfeld has been trying to reform. Indeed, that's what military transformation--a Rumsfeld priority--is all about. Yet, many of the same people who are most vociferously denouncing the lack of up-armored humvees in Iraq also fight military reform tooth and nail.

Example: When the Army decided last winter to cancel development of its Cold War relic Comanche helicopter, Sen. Christopher Dodd, a Connecticut Democrat, immediately took to the barricades. "It simply doesn't make sense to pull the plug on the Comanche," Mr. Dodd said. "Obviously, this will not be an easy fight, but I intend to work with other members of the Connecticut congressional delegation to seek to retain the Comanche as part of our military arsenal."

It didn't seem to matter to Mr. Dodd that the Comanche was a $39-billion boondoggle that the Army didn't want because the aircraft isn't suitable for 21st-century urban warfare. Nor did Mr. Dodd seem to care that much of the displaced Comanche money would be used to equip existing Army helicopters with new countermeasure systems necessary to neutralize the ubiquitous threat posed by rocket-propelled grenades, shoulder-fired missiles, and man-portable air-defense systems, all of which are omnipresent in Iraq.

Yet Mr. Dodd, who has never been a champion of big defense budgets, now has the chutzpah to lecture Mr. Rumsfeld about the need to "spare no expense to ensure the safety of our troops, particularly as they confront a hostile insurgency and roadside bombs throughout Iraq." Mr. Dodd says Mr. Rumsfeld's response to Spec. Wilson--"You go to war with the Army you have"--is "utterly unacceptable. Mr. Secretary," he writes, "our troops go to war with the Army that our nation's leaders provide."

Quite true--and Mr.. Dodd is one of those leaders.

Nor does the entire hullabaloo concerning up-armored humvees show, as some commentators contest, that U.S. troops lack confidence in their military and civilian leaders. The reality is that troop morale is consistently high.

Of course, American soldiers and Marines yearn to come home; it is not in our nature to colonize or occupy a country. By the same token, however, most U.S. troops take understandable pride in a job well done. They are pleased to have the historic chance to serve and to practice, in a real-world operation, that which they have been training for all these many years. That's why re-enlistment rates are high.

As U.S. Central Commander Gen. John Abizaid told Tim Russert on "Meet the Press" Sept. 26: "The constant drumbeat in Washington of a war that is being lost, that can't be won, of a resistance that is out of control, simply does not square with the facts on the ground." In fact, the vast majority of Iraq is not a war zone; it is peaceful, tranquil and doing surprisingly well. I refer specifically to the Shiite south. The Kurdish north, too, is doing relatively well, despite the recent upsurge of violence in Mosul.

"So is this fight in the Middle East worth fighting?" the general said to Mr. Russert. "Absolutely," he said. "In my mind, and in the minds of our young people that are out here fighting and sacrificing, it's absolutely worth it."

Of course you won't hear any of this in many news articles or broadcasts. The media long ago decided that its job was to put a negative slant on all things Iraq. Truth is, as they say, the first casualty of war.

Mr. Guardiano is an Arlington, Va.-based journalist who served in Iraq in 2003 as a field radio operator with the U.S. Marine Corps' Fourth Civil Affairs Group.

Monday, December 06, 2004

My Body is My Own (Isn't it?)

My Body is My Own (Isn't it?)

I wanted to post something early this morning, as part of my new plan for world domination, but I have held off, since my editorial board has been having a difficult time agreeing on a topic. While my editors have had quite a few suggestions, my bullheaded writing staff can not get off this one thing, the single most bothersome thing that we have heard since Friday. The greatest threat to our republic. The most irksome task that our overreaching government is preparing to undertake.

Nothing bothers me more than the increasing intrusiveness of our government, the erosion that is occurring in our constitutional protection. The government itself, the small people who legislate and execute, prosecute and judge, do about what one would expect. They are human beings, after all, and therefore their selfishness and venality, their grasping and subordination to the grasping for power and wealth, are to be expected. Humans all have feet of clay, and very few of us are large enough of soul to rise above our essential ape-ness. No, that is not the problem. My problem today, and every day, really, is the credulous, sheeplike quality We the People exhibit when our governors make ready to take yet another iota of power from us. With our opinion leaders leading the charge over the cliff like Lemmings, we acquiesce to almost all of the inroads into our personal rights that the government attempts. Power is a zero-sum game, and each iota of power that we grant to the government is one we have lost, until we may have precious few freedoms left. We have lost so much already, we can not afford to lose more. Each new instance is seen as such a little thing, yet the addition of them all amounts to a terrible chasm between our constitutionally mandated position on the spectrum of power, and the puny position that we inhabit today.

I am a child of the sixties, and can testify that, by 1969, freedom was breaking out all over. We could say whatever we wanted, live wherever we wanted, and if it pleased a homeowner, he could cut down the tree on his front lawn. But, just then, even as we were at our pinnacle of reclaiming our personal power, the culture of victimhood, and the nanny state, swung into the ascendency. Each little inroad seemed small to most of us at the time, yet the aggregate result has been overwhelming. Hate speech laws. Special treatment for violence, when it was conducted against women. The Supreme Court of the land confirming that a plant in our garden is a threat to interstate commerce, since, after all, one might hurt oneself thereby. The area of government applying the interstate commerce clause alone has been used to remove more of our personal freedom and power over ourselves than two world wars. Almost a century ago, when government sought to impinge upon our freedom, they sought shelter in our constitution, asking for, and receiving, constitutional amandments in order to institute the income tax, or the prohibition against alcohol. But they have become so brazen that they do not seek such authorization when they seek to diminish us any more. Or, when an amendment fails, or seems to be unwinnable, they merely pass a law. We, usually, acquiesce. Then the Supreme Court says Amen.

On Friday, Barry Bonds, perhaps the greatest living baseball player, was revealed to have made some admissions about the use of performance enhancing drugs. On Sunday, Senator John McCain proposed a sweeping new legislative incursion into the regulation of baseball. And no respected commentator, that I have heard so far, has offerred a word in opposition. After all, steroids are bad, aren't they? Violence against women is bad too, isn't it? Hate speech is bad as well - who could argue against that? I suppose that, as the sheep walk calmly into the abbatoir, they can see no harm in merely walking up a ramp.

There are two issues involved here. One is, steroids are bad for you. While there is an argument to be made that it is anabolic steroids that are dangerous, and that the metabolic steroids, which have only recently become available in quantity and at a low price, prescribed and monitored by a physician, might not be, but I will concede the point: Steroids are bad. Next item, children should be protected from themselves in a manner that adults might not be forced to allow. Again, while I could put up a spirited argument in opposition, I will stipulate this point as well. Children should be protected from themselves. Yet, incredibly, these are the pegs that will drive the debate toward federal government intrusion into the administration of a professional sport. I find that stunning.

Take a fully grown man, whose performance in college sports has placed him in a position to make millions of dollars per year in his business. Today, government allows this man to make a decision to undertake some personal risk in order to further his career. His body is his own. It is perfectly legal today for this man to have his doctor administer Human Testosterone of Human Growth Hormone. He will have an enhanced ability to build muscle mass, and an increase in his aggressiveness. Now along comes government, that seeks to insert itself into this doctor-patient relationship. As Big Brother rattles his sword, expect baseball to cringe in fear, and modify its rules to keep the beast at bay. Yet almost no one sees the danger.

There are many who will say that this is an unimportant new government incursion into our rights. They will say, if they are knowledgeable enough, that the government already legislates and regulates the prescription of Methadone, when administered to addicts. (With gruesome results. For more reading on the politics of methadone, read this) But professional athletes are not addicts, nor are they guilty of criminal behavior, necessarily. At the very least what has been proposed is a usurpation of the doctor-patient relationship in a setting totally without a criminal element. As with violence against women, all the acts proposed to be made criminal acts are already illegal. And, we do not yet know what else will be added to the legislation, what incursion into our privacy will be made. If we even have any privacy left. There are those who have already thrown in the towel, who say that all of our privacy is gone. That is what they say about the Patriot Act, and NASPER (see post below, Freedom Hijacked). But that is demonstrably untrue, as, if it were true, there would be no need for this new law. There are those who say that this will become moot, as Baseball will change its rules. But any change will be made in the shadow of this threat from government, which is even more insidious. There is no appeal from a settlement. No judicial oversight, no constitutional test. While I would not expect any protection from the Supremes on this one, they might surprise me. But they will not get the chance thus time, if Baseball caves in to the pressure.

Finally, there are those who will say that good ethics or morals would obviate the need for government to intervene. But that is the very heart of this thing. It used to be that we could use ethics and morals as a guide to our behavior. No more. If you remember the Clinton impeachment debate, you will recall that the legality of his actions were the limits that he placed upon himself, and the impeachers in Congress respected those limits. We have entered an age where the law is the arbiter of behavior. I long for a world where men and women placed limits upon themselves that were far stricter than mere law would mandate. Today we have a world where the student who fails to cheat in school is the exception, and our media have becomed coarsened to anything resembling good taste or modesty. In such a world, it is argued, the law must expand to encompass more of human interaction. And that is truly frightening. And, what with the social conservatives in the ascendancy, it will be getting worse.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Drug War Failure

Drug War Failure

Another study has been released that shows that our benighted policy on drug consumption has failed, according to the Washington Times. While this can not be surprise to anyone who has been paying attention, this study points out that both availability (up) and price (down) are going in the opposite direction to what the entire War on (some) Drugs has promised:
The report conducted by the Washington Office on Latin America, a non-governmental organization that has the stated goal of trying to "reorient U.S. drug control policy to the region," concludes that U.S. policy geared toward "reducing drug abuse and availability in the United States" from a "supply-reduction model does not work."

Citing falling wholesale and retail cocaine and heroin prices and collateral damage suffered in Latin American countries as a result of U.S. anti-drug policy, Joy Olson, executive director of WOLA, said, "We've been tough on drugs, now it's time to get smart on drugs."
But the most disturbing part of all of this is the chilling effect that the war has had on our government's relationship with the truth. As the Times says:
The three-year study, "Drugs and Democracy in Latin America: The Impact of U.S. Policy," includes independently recorded data and unreleased studies carried out by the Rand Corporation for the Office of National Drug Control Policy that were leaked to WOLA by a congressional office, according to John Walsh, WOLA senior associate for the Andes and drug policy.

Walsh and a senior adviser at the ONDCP confirmed the initial report had been submitted to the office in spring 2004 but has not yet been released.
When our government hides and obfuscates the truth, commissions and then 86s a study critical of one of its policies, the entire fabric of our democracy is diminished. When our "Drug Czar" refuses to debate, or even take questions from any journalist who has not been previously vetted by his department, we slip further down the slope into unresponsive, and unrepresentative government.

If such a debate would be held, any zero base thinker would first examine the very basis of our policy, before delving into the arcana of its implementation:
Over the last 25 years U.S. policy has tried to attack the war on drugs from a supply-side perspective. Through the eradication of coca crops in producing countries, interdicting drug shipments to the United States and jailing drug offenders, authorities were hoping to significantly drive up the cost of cocaine and heroin -- thus reducing cocaine's economic appeal to potential users.

However, the attempted siphoning of the supply side has lowered street prices and increased the number of incarcerated drug offenders, driving up government spending, without significantly reducing the amount of drug flow, the study's findings show.

Data compiled by WOLA show that since 1981 the retail price for 2 grams of cocaine went from $544.59 to $106.54 in 2003. Retail heroin prices mirrored the decline in cocaine prices, falling from $1,974.49 to $361.95 during the period.

Walsh noted that "price estimates are manifestations of supply and demand" and thus are the most accurate indicators to "determine what is coming in."

The number of incarcerated drug offenders rose from 45,272 to 480,519 from 1981 to 2002, and government spending on overseas supply control rose from $373.9 million to $3.6 billion from 1981 to 2004.
Once again, government has failed to observe the emperor's new clothes. That is, when they seek to drive up the cost, they are, if successful, driving up the profit motive for the criminals who pursue this business. When they are unsuccessful, as in the present instance, they lower the barriers to entry into the business. Thus there are ever more young recruits into this trade.

This is enough to make one tear one's hair out. The government claims to seek to make drug abuse more rare. Instead, they create a new criminal class. Now that the failure of their policy becomes more and more clear, they seek to hide the evidence. Meanwhile, collateral damage (see yesterday's post, below) increases, and government, rather than attempting to remedy the problem, merely increases the budget of the failed bureaucracy. For just one instance of this, the government has instituted a policy of spraying poison on the Colombian and Bolivian hillsides where coca cultivation is believed to take place. At first, the poison kills everything, both the drug crop and any legal crop that is grown in the area dies. That is bad enough, but recent reports show that the growers have developed poison resistant plants, so the spraying has the effect of performing the weeding that the illicit growers previously have had to do themselves. Government's answer? Increase spraying 50%.

When our government decided to ban alcohol, they figured that they would need a constitutional amendment to accomplish this legally. When they sought to ban marijuana, they levied a tax. But over the years, they passed ever more restrictive legislation, with little public complaint. Now, when a case against any little element of this anti-drug approach makes it to the Supreme Court, the government's response is to claim that, if the supremes restrict the government's little war, it would be an intolerable burden on the judiciary, as hundreds of thousands of appeals might be filed. In the case argued Monday, in which two women are accused of growing a few marijuana plants for their own use, the government claimed that this activity interferes with interstate commerce, since otherwise they would have to buy regular prescriptions. (That's after the bit where they claimed that marijuana has no efficacy as a medicine in the first place.) Under this analysis, anything at all that a citizen does interferes with interstate commerce. All choices are economic to an economist. Getting married reduces the profits of pimps. Going to the bathroom spurs sales of toilet paper. If interstate commerce can be construed this broadly, then there is no hope left for the enumerated powers set forth in our constitution.

It would seem that the mendacity of our government knows few if any boundaries. They pursue a blatantly unconstitutional "war," and lie to protect their right to continue to do so. They silence debate, and then hide studies and polls that show that their policy is not only ineffective, but unpopular. We are ruled by two parties whose main differences are in the personalities of the candidates, rather than any substantive policy split. Didn't Kerry just run a campaign where he said that he would have done exactly what Bush has done, only better? At some point the people must demand that their government be responsive to them. Or not.

Monday, November 29, 2004

Freedom Hijacked - Again

Freedom Hijacked - Again

In their never ending campaign to make the constitution irrelevant, our government is putting yet another nail in the coffin of our freedom, with almost no mention in the press. Using the dubious procedure of a voice vote in a lame duck session - which gives every single legislator the ability to deny his vote, if and when the voters turn against this benighted law - the House has already passed, and the Senate is about to pass, the National All Schedules Prescription Electronic Reporting Act, or NASPER, H.R. 3015.

This act will give to the government easy access to the medical records of any citizen who takes any controlled substance. While pain medications are the stated target of this new law, antidepressant and other drugs used in the treatment of mental distress and illness, not to mention medically authorized marijuana, are all included. The act provides that any doctor prescribing, and any provider dispensing any of these medicines must report, within one week, the name, address, and telephone number of the patient receiving these substances. Normal constitutionally mandated controls on search and seizure are thus not applicable. No judge need issue a warrant, nor must any law enforcement person show probable cause, not even reasonable suspicion, that any law has been violated. Mere curiosity on the part of law enforcement would appear to be allowed, under the language of the statute.
(2) any local, State, or Federal law enforcement, narcotics control, licensure, disciplinary, or program authority, who certifies, under the procedures determined by the State, that the requested information is related to an individual investigation or proceeding involving the unlawful diversion or misuse of a schedule II, III, or IV substance, and such information will further the purpose of the investigation or assist in the proceeding;

(3) any agent of the Department of Health and Human Services, a State medicaid program, a State health department, or the Drug Enforcement Administration who certifies that the requested information is necessary for research to be conducted by such department, program, or administration, respectively, and the intended purpose of the research is related to a function committed to such department, program, or administration by law that is not investigative in nature
This is nothing more than an outrageous continuation on the Justice department's War on Citizens in Pain and the Doctors Who Treat Them. Sneaking it in under the conditions of a voice vote in a lame duck session shows what law enforcement usually refers to as "awareness of guilt." Just as O.J. or Peterson running for the border shows that they know that they are guilty, legislators sneaking this vote in anonymously shows that they are unwilling to put their names to it. Oh, quite a few will be proud to tell their constituencies that they voted for this monstrous invasion - not of privacy, but of a patient in pain's very ability to get the medication that he or she needs to survive. But, the rest of our brave Congressmen will be able to deny that they were even in the House when the vote took place. And, the Senate has decided to use the very same sleazy trick when the vote comes up in the next month or so. Don't just take my word for it, ask a doctor:
Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), a physician, calls NASPER, a.k.a. HR 3015, "yet another unjustifiable attempt by the federal government to use the war on drugs as an excuse for invading the privacy and liberties of the American people and for expanding the federal government's disastrous micromanagement of medical care." He argues that the bill violates the Fourth Amendment, since it "authorizes the use and disclosure of identifiable health information for law enforcement purposes without the patient's knowledge or consent, without probable cause to believe a crime has been committed and without obtaining a search warrant."
This bill is aimed at creating a national system in which the government is constantly looking over doctors' shoulders as they write prescriptions, looking for signs of nonmedical use. Such a system would magnify the chilling effect that the government's second-guessing has on pain treatment while sacrificing patient privacy for the sake of the war on drugs.

As a chronic pain patient myself, I can attest to the difficulty of even finding a physician willing to prescribe these substances. Getting the proper dosage of them is impossible, at least for me. My doctor is candid with me in discussing her concerns, and she is quite clear that, if not for the DEA looking over her shoulder, she would prescribe the proper dose. Her problem is that federal agants, who have absolutely no medical training, make decisions on the correctness of her treatment of her chronic pain patients, and her license, even her very freedom is constantly on the line. Thank God that my MRI clearly shows my condition. Many pain patients have pain that does not show up on the diagnostic film, and therefore get no medication at all. Some, very few, doctors are willing to prescribe for these patients, and quite a few have landed in prison for prescribing more Percocets than a DEA agent and an Assistant U.S. Attorney believes to be the correct amount. So I make do, and would surely be in a bad way if I could not get my disease medicated. In fact, untreated and undertreated chronic pain is one of the leading causes of suicide.

Making this information so easily available will absolutely have a chilling affect on the prescribing activities of most doctors. If it passes, look for the immediate effect of dentists prescribing only two days worth of painkillers, rather than the three or four that is usual, in order to get under the reporting requirements. If you are one who believes that the War on (some) Drugs makes this law a reasonable intrusion into our privacy, may God have mercy on you if you ever develop chronic pain. If you suffer from depression and are medicated for it, prepare for this information about you to become available to prospective employers and nosy neighbors. If you are taking medically authorized marijuana, expect the D.A.R.E. officer to reveal this to your kids. Little by little, our constitution is being chipped away. Those of you who fail to respond when someone else's freedom is taken away, will probably scream the loudest when "they" come for one of your own.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Guest Post

Israel, Campus Unreality and Democratic Reality

Guest Post by Joey Tartakovsky

My mother, past president of the Berkeley-Oakland Feminist Socialist Organization, is no stranger to the zany world of campus politics. Protesting Vietnam in the late 1960s, she encountered radicals of all stripes. But Israel, she recalls, was never one of their causes. Now, all campus radicals, no matter their inspiration—socialists, animal rights activists, ethnic racists, radical greens, alien cults—seem to have a problem with Israel.

Compare the “free Palestine” movement with the “free Tibet” movement to illustrate the sheer campus brutality against Israel. Professors do not offer lunchtime lectures ‘objectively’ explaining how terrible China is. There is no divestment from China campaign. There is no academic boycott of China. Casual anti-China brickbats aren't hurled out by professors in the Environmental Studies or Dramatic Arts departments. Even at Tibetan freedom concerts, rare would be the attendee that declared China a fundamentally illegitimate country and demanded its abolition.

The calls to abandon our only ally in the Middle East and the foul apologies for terrorism are testaments to the intellectual corruption of the academy. While chanting about peace and justice in the Middle East, the campus turns a blind eye to the world’s ghastliest conflicts, like the Congo war, whose butcher’s bill exceeds Israel-Palestinian fighting by a factor of one-thousand. Upper-middle-class revolutionaries stand in solidarity with the Palestinians, yet ignore the ethnic cleansing of 300,000 of them by Kuwait after they cheered Saddam Hussein. In four years at UC Santa Barbara, I never once heard someone explain why Palestinian Arabs have no rights in Lebanon, but why in Israel they sit on the Supreme Court, serve as Ambassadors and lead parties in the Israeli parliament.

What’s interesting is that the most outspoken are not students, but activist professors, who exploit their position of privilege to preach. It is unfortunate that they were hired in the first place, because they will ensure ideological conformity for years to come in their classrooms and departments. As consolation, I note that their unwillingness to take the American side in any dispute—in fact, their proud hostility towards American principles and interests—has ensured that no U.S. policymaker will ever take them seriously. This is how it should be.

America supports Israel because Israel resembles America. They share common strategic interests, common democratic principles and common jihadist enemies. Some identify the U.S.-Israel alliance as the product of a “Jewish lobby,” a view popular in Cairo and Riyadh and Paris. But do these types really find it strange that Americans are less than enamored of the Palestinians after Americans watched the West Bank erupt in celebration on 9/11? How do they think Americans should respond as they watch Palestinians deploy the same barbaric method of suicide bombing practiced on them by bin Laden? Does our government share intelligence with Iran, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority—or with Israel? Why? In the new war, medieval Islamic aggressors seek to humiliate and bloody the United States, and it is clear where the allegiances lie in the Middle East. It resembles the alignments in the Fascist-Democratic and Communist-Democratic wars. Between the U.S. and al-Qaeda there is no peace process, only a war process, which ends when one side is defeated and demoralized. So it is with Israel and Fatah and Hamas.

Yasir Arafat has left this world. He was the billionaire godfather of modern terrorism, pioneer of school hostage-takings, multiple plane hijackings and suicide bombings. He never stopped calling for jihad, he stole $900 million in public funds between 1995-2002, and he was a failure to his people. After decades of “never missing an opportunity to miss an opportunity,” he did so one last time by leaving the 2000 Camp David talks. Some claimed that Israel never really made an offer; others insisted it was a most generous deal. But the terms of the deal were never made public, and so it remained subject to debate. Until now. With the publication of his book Missing Peace, Ambassador Dennis Ross put in print the terms of the Camp David deal, which Clinton personally read to both sides. Guess what? It was exactly what Barak and Clinton said it was: 95% of the West Bank, all of Gaza, shared sovereignty over Jerusalem, dismantlement of all settlements save three blocs contiguous to Israel, limited right of return and a $30 billion compensation package.

The Oslo era is over. Israel has resolved to act unilaterally, a wise and overdue decision. This is now Israel’s policy: exit the Gaza Strip, build a fence and kill the terrorists. Israel has every right to hunt those who murder its citizens as surely as we hunt bin Laden and al-Zarqawi. Terrorists have no right to trial or due process nor protection from the Geneva Conventions. Israel owes the Palestinians nothing except the right to live in their own independent state. However cruel it may sound, the truth is that Palestine will never really be free. Israeli occupation will eventually end, yes, but its replacement? The character of the future government of Palestine will resemble, depending on the outcome of the impending civil war, lawlessness or theocratic tyranny, or something in between, the only certainty being an oppression rooted in Arafat’s long and corrupt tenure. Palestinian society reflects the same blend of corruption, gender apartheid, religious intolerance and conspiratorialism that has left the region impoverished and shackled.

Americans have come to realize that the U.N. is not the esteemed forum of collective world wisdom they imagined it to be, but a corrupt place for the thugs of the world to unite in solidarity against the democratic few. More and more, Americans just don’t give a damn what happens at the UN. They see a crooked oil-for-food-scandal involving Kofi Annan’s own son. They see a UN obsessed with persecuting a tiny democracy beset on all sides by fascistic governments while millions perish without fanfare in Serbia, Rwanda and Iraq. The tyrant-infested UN will not change, and Israel will continue to be bullied. Why? Because there are fifty-seven Islamic-majority states, amounting to one-third of the UN’s total membership. Israel will always be outvoted. Thus, the UN will rule that Israel’s fence is illegal—a measure of self-defense forced after one-hundred and thirty suicide bombings in four years—and simultaneously deny the very existence an ongoing genocide in the Sudan whose toll approaches 70,000. (The perpetrators are Muslim Arabs, and so criticism of the Khartoum regime is squelched.) And this will all be business as usual.

Europe will criticize Israel too. To understand why, consider the large and growing domestic Muslim populations (as high as 10% of the population of France), fears of Arab terrorism, residual anti-Semitism, and kowtowing to Gulf oil producers. But I wonder if this can hold forever. After all, Israel is not really their problem. In the near future, the true threats to Europe will become clearer: tens of thousands of unassimilated, resentful immigrants from North Africa and the Greater Middle East, many drawn to the call of jihad, and a nuclearized mullocracy in Iran. Each European nation will react differently. Some will choose to join the U.S. in confronting terrorism; others will appease it. Europe has learned that if you cross Israel, Israelis shrug and feel disappointed. If you cross the Islamic world, you risk ten coordinated Semtex bombings in a Madrid train station at rush hour. Spain threw out its government for an appeasing socialist, and now learns that the same holy warriors are attempting to blow up its high court and soccer stadiums.

If it puffs Syrian or Egyptian pride vis-à-vis Israel to do at the UN what they could not do on the battlefield—win—then let them posture. It does not change the fact that Israelis are rich and powerful and free, and Syrians and Egyptians are poor and illiterate and weak. Does anyone doubt that grudge and envy do not fire their anger against Israel, a country of six million? Israel’s neighbors have fallen so far behind the rest of the world in the globalizing era that their literacy rates lag behind those of sub-Saharan Africa. Spain translates more books in a year than the entire Arab Middle East has in the last thousand years.

Meanwhile, Israel has transformed a resource-poor land the size of New Jersey into a proud and unapologetic democracy that wins wars. Self-investment, openness and unbound inquiry have catapulted Israel to world leader in medical, military and internet technology, developers of everything from the agricultural equipment used in the valleys of California and AOL Instant Messenger to our ballistic missile defense system. A commitment to economic liberty and the rule of law have grown Israel’s economy larger than those of South Africa and Argentina, whose populations number 42 million and 39 million, respectively. Critics whine that Israelis possess tanks while Palestinians wield only rocks. It does not seem to register with them that Israel has tanks because Israel invented tanks. (It’s called the Merkava, from the Biblical word for “chariot.”) Out of twelve Nobel prizes awarded this year, Israelis received two. These are the earned fruits of a free society.

The Holocaust destroyed forever the universe of European Jewry from which Einstein, Freud and Marx emerged—its culture, language, and two-thirds of its lives. But one of the most curious aspects of this narrative is that the survivors did not allow themselves to drown in a black ocean of loss and pity, or pledge eternal revenge against Germany. Instead, they set about to rebuild, painfully, but inspirited by a deep sense of faith and dignity. This moral character explains why Israel has never produced a suicide bomber, and why Palestine has never produced a deserving Nobel laureate. History is made not by unseen social forces but by men, and it matters dearly in the determination of a nation’s fate whether its Founding Fathers are men like David Ben-Gurion, Chaim Weizmann and Abba Eban and whether they are men like Hajj Amin al-Husseini, Sheik Ahmed Yassin and Yasir Arafat.

Joey Tartakovsky is assistant editor of the Claremont Review of Books, published by The Claremont Institute. He graduated this year from UC Santa Barbara, where he was founding president of American Students for Israel. This essay reprinted from Victor Davis Hanson's Private Papers

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Why the Dead Vote

Why the Dead Vote

I'm getting a bit of flack over my unsubstantiated statement yesterday that the result included "all the election fraud, all the dead and illegal voters voting against him." Since I can not rely on every reader to be a long term fan, I shall reprise my understanding of the American electoral process, as I have witnessed it over the last half century.

I have a background in actual politics, the kind that we had before the internet, before everyone became an expert. It is my experience that most American urban centers are controlled by democrat machines, and these machines commonly vote the dead, and multiple voting is more than the canard: "vote early, and often." It is the way of life, certainly in New York, and reportedly elsewhere. Also Stalin's maxim that the voters count for little, the vote counters count for far more has more than a bit of reality to it, and solidly democrat precincts have precious little in the way of opposition poll watchers. My mother was a democrat District Leader, which in New York City is a pretty powerful position, and I was therefore able, at a very young age, to watch the sausage of our political repast being made. I also have no reason to keep these secrets, since my mother is beyond the reach of any temporal punishment, and all I ever did was witness these crimes.

You might ask why a solidly democrat district needs to pad the tally for the top of the democrat ticket. The answer is simple. Each district has a slate of its own candidates for minor functionaries and, especially, judges. The judges apparently have a keen interest in the result, since they commonly, and I have with my own eyes witnessed this, pay immense amounts of cash to the district leaders in return for nomination in a "safe" district. The leaders, two in each district, therefore can take no chances on the outcome of these little elections. Sometimes independent candidates run, and, instead of paying tens of thousands of dollars to each district leader, mount actual campaigns. Sometimes, they even win. Thus, the dead return, to vote one more time. Bums, who we now call "the homeless," are sent in to play the part of dead or absent voters, and enter the voting booth with a slate of levers to pull, in return for which they are remunerated. In order to make the final tally balanced, they vote the entire ticket, not just the few specific candidates that have paid for this service. Thus, the top of the ticket is padded. The result of the presidential race is rarely, if ever, changed, since these are pretty solidly democrat precincts in the first place. But the final tally will show plenty of extra votes for the president.

During the years that I witnessed this activity on my democrat mother's side, my father was an activist on the republican side. I owe him a great debt for pointing these activities out to my brother and me. Since he was an immigrant from Europe, this type of corruption seemed reasonable to him. What impressed him far more, was that this type of shennanigans did not go on in the republican ranks. I can not say that they indeed did not, since an absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, but I can definitely say that, on Manhattan's Upper East Side, Adlai Stevenson, Jack Kennedy, and Lyndon Johnson got credit for far more votes than they deserved. Nobody doubts that they got a few extra votes in Chicago as well, and there is quite a bit of evidence out there that JFK got some help in East Texas in 1960.

Doubters might say that these activities no longer go on, that district leaders in safe districts no longer accept cash in return for their support for mediocre lawyers seeking refuge on the bench, but there are also those who believe that chickens have lips. I have no doubt that fraud of all kinds, perpetrated by those on both sides, goes on to this day. But I saw what I saw, and in my experience, only democrats have done these things, and none of the republicans I know today would participate in anything like this type of vote fraud. Your mileage may differ. But what can not be said, is that these charges are unsubstantiated. I saw with my own eyes bags of cash, and bums being paid to vote the dead, going from precinct to precinct on election day. For the record, and I know that it weakens my story, my mother gave her cash to her co-leader, or at least that is what my parents told us kids. But it is certainly true that politics ain't beanbag, and I saw it with my own eyes.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

A Clear Result

A Clear Result

One week after an election in which more Americans voted for the winner than any other time in history, the sore losers and fantasists of the Left are still rambling on, making up stories and excuses for their loss. While not all of them believe that the majority "voted for an extremist Christian regime," many do, and many more are hatching conspiracy plots of a stolen election. The denial is palpable, and Occam's Razor is nowhere to be seen. The simple conclusion, that more people voted for the candidate that they wanted in the White House, seems out of reach for these people.

Not much has changed since eight months ago, when John Kerry was selected by the Iowa caucuses as the candidate of the Democrats. Terry McAuliffe's master plan to allow the good people of New Hampshire and Iowa to decide the primary race by March netted the party another soulless northeastern liberal lawyer. At that time I predicted a 40 state victory for Bush with confidence, and while I missed the margin of vistory by a bit, I was not alone in my confidence in that victory. We believed that our moderate-to conservative electorate would never stand for such an extreme ideologue, such a wealthy elitist, and they didn't. The only reasons for the closeness of the election I have stated before. The massive propaganda onslaught by the media is misunderstood in many quarters as a depiction of Bush as an incompetent. The truth about it is that they unfairly, and quite successfully, painted him as an extreme conservative. They falsely claimed that the nation is bitterly divided, a prophesy that they managed to make real to a certain extent. They allowed lies by the Kerry campaign to stand without scrutiny, such as the claim that this was the worst economy since Herbert Hoover, that jobs have been lost on Bush's watch. They underestimated the American voter. Almost two thirds, or 71% of the voters who participated in the exit polls said that their personal economy was as good as or better than it was four years ago. A majority had indeed been convinced that the national economy was worse, yet not enough of them voted for the Democrat as a result, since only 45% trusted Kerry to handle the economy any better than Bush had.

For the third of the electorate that is worried, or even bitter, about the result, we on the right can relate. We went through the same thing twelve years ago. Therein lies the good news - nothing so bad happened when Clinton "caught the pickup truck" then, nothing so bad will ensue for the next four years. We can expect four more years of freedom for more and more people around the world. Four more years of jihadi terror masters on the run. Four more years of positive GDP growth spurred by low taxes. None of this is a formula for disaster. The only disaster that is on the horizon is the disaster that will surely befall the Democrat Party if they fail to heed the message of this election. If they continue in the Nancy Pelosi - Hillary Clinton - Howard Dean direction, they can expect less of the vote next time. They need to understand that they did get their message out, and most Americans rejected it. The last two national elections they won, their candidate ran to the right of their Republican adversary. It is simple for me, as a businessman, to see that you should reinforce positive statistics, and run away from negative ones. Simple. Say no to liberal lawyer. Yes to Southern Governor. Realize that Nancy Pelosi's district has 35% home ownership, and the rest of the country has 70%. Remember that Bill Clinton won on welfare reform and the castigation of Sister Soulja, and Kerry lost with all of Hollywood, and Michael Moore, on his side.

This election was not so much about George W. Bush as it was about his mandate, which couldn't be clearer - continue stomping the Jihadis wherever they are, keep taxes low, and reform Social Security. Appoint some conservative, meaning non-activist, judges, including (hopefully) replacing a few superannuated Justices of the Supreme Court. The most breathtaking thing about the election result is that its mandate demands that Bush actually become a conservative President. We on the Right can only wait, and hope, that he gets the message. He needs to curb his liberal tendencies, especially in the area of entitlements. Creating new bureaucracies, and pushing legislation authored by Ted Kennedy, both things he did in his first term, he should eschew in his second. In the face of all the propaganda, all the election fraud, all the dead and illegal voters voting against him, we still elected him. He needs to heed his mandate, and act accordingly. The early noises he has made are encouraging. With a result this clear, he needs to turn noise into action.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Margin of Victory

Margin of Victory

This is a conservative country, and this election shows that. But make no mistake, the margin of victory was much greater than three and a half million votes. To believe that, you must believe that Bruce Springstein and P Diddy delivered nothing to the final Kerry totals, that millions of votes cast by the dead, illegal aliens, and purely fraudulent votes cast by nonexistent people were evenly divided between the two candidates, and that ownership of the national propaganda machine meant nothing to the final result. Balderdash! No, the rational conclusion must be that this nation is so conservative, so convinced that John Kerry would have been a disaster for us, that even in the face of this unprecedented assault upon the democratic process in America, George W. Bush carried the day with much more than the margin of victory that the official vote tallies show.

There is no way to count the number of voters who were misled into voting for the stealth candidate. It is not in our national interest to attempt to count the vast number of fraudulent votes that were successfully cast by leftist operatives. There is no way to understand the effect of a national media juggernaut that unfairly cast Bush in the most unfavorable light at every opportunity had on the final tally. But anyone who considers this question fairly must come to the conclusion that these instrumentalities had some effect.

To understand this, we must remember that many on the left considered the first Bush victory a theft, and have spent the last four years simmering with the need, and believing that they had the right, to use any means to justify their end, which they believe to be a restoration of liberal leadership in the White House. That is why we have seen massive theft of Bush campaign lawn signs from coast to coast. That is why we have seen CBS news caught twice attempting to fabricate damning news against the President. That explains the popularity of Fahrenheit 911. (Either every American has seen that film, or many left leaning viewers have seen it many times each.) But popular vote totals show the wrongness of that view. Bush exceeded his vote totals, both in number and expressed as a fraction, of his 2000 results, according to the exit polls, in every area and in almost every demographic cohort. This is truly a triumph of the people, by the people, and for the people. I may not be Adam Yoshida, but the Left must pardon me as I gloat. Or not, but gloat I will. I am thrilled to be the winner, this time. We can take up our criticism of the many failings of George W. Bush later, and admonish both parties for giving us two such flawed candidates. But the democrats ran such a loser, such an unmitigated disaster, that we can all be proud and relieved that Bush won. In spite of all the shennanigans, the tricks and the fraud, and the unprecedented level of propaganda, the American people dodged a bullet on Tuesday.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Barbarians at the Gate

Barbarians at the Gate

What has come to be known as the barbarian wing of the democrat party is in a state of shrill denial, as they scream and carry on, all the while seeking to curry favor and change opinion in that cohort of the American electorate known as the swing voters. Their frustration is understandable. What is not, is their irrational ranting and raving. After all, if one seeks to sway opinion, it is obvious that reasoned debate, and verifiable fact, are a much surer route to that goal.

What moves them past the limits of polite discourse seems to be a belief that, if only the electorate would hear their message, their candidates would win in a landslide. What they seem unable to face is, it is their ideas that are falling out of favor. Poor liberals - they believe themselves, with some justification, to be smarter and more aware than the mass of the American polity. They consider themselves the elite, whether due to their superior creativity, intelligence, or net worth. Artists, intellectuals, and millionaires have always prided themselves as being in front of the curve of public opinion. Reality today is, they are behind it. As socialist states and systems everywhere in the world are crumbling or turning to the market, the leftists themselves continue to consider their ideas superior to market forces. Obviously, to them, their superior intelligence must be a better arbiter of truth than the anarchy of the masses and the competition of their capital. But in what is the ultimate example of reality beating out logic, trillions of dollars chasing willing buyers, or millions of voters making up their own minds, make better decisions than a dozen professors in a smoke-free room ever could.

As usual, Victor Davis Hanson makes the case better and more eloquently than anyone. The frustration of the left is palpable, as they have made clear that any election result other than the one that they believe to be correct must clearly be due to voter fraud and manipulation. Their candidates for high office believe that they can be elected using the Perot strategy of merely pointing out problems, without any need to prescribe solutions. We need only to believe that Senator Kerry is so smart that whatever he does will be done more competently than anything George W. Bush has done, or would do. The proven fact that Bush is smarter than Kerry, and the track record that Kerry could get nothing of consequence done in twenty years in the Senate, fail to make an impression in the elite minds of these people. Like Mike Dukakis before him, they believe that this election is about competence, not ideology. They fail to understand that Perot and Dukakis not only lost, they lost by a lot. Denial is not just a river in Egypt. It is leftist theology. These true believers will be shocked, shocked, come November third. We can only hope that their defeat is massive enough that they get, or at least accept, the message.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Putin for Bush

Putin for Bush

Kerry may boast that some foreign leaders wish for his election, but he has avoided explaining the why of it. But not all these leaders have failed to find their voice, and while most oppose the war in Iraq, not all want Kerry in the White House. In an election cycle in which neither candidate has an easy time saying exactly why we should vote for them, and many endorsers seem to have the same problem, not all share this problem. In the most cogent endorsement yet for the election of George W. Bush, Russian president Vladimir Putin put it succinctly:
Putin, speaking Central Asian Cooperation Organization summit in Tajikistan Monday, made his most overt comments of support so far for the re-election of Bush for a second term.

"Any unbiased observer understands that attacks of international terrorist organizations in Iraq, especially nowadays, are targeted not only and not so much against the international coalition as against President Bush," Putin said.

"International terrorists have set as their goal inflicting the maximum damage to Bush, to prevent his election to a second term.

"If they succeed in doing that, they will celebrate a victory over America and over the entire anti-terror coalition," Putin said.

"In that case, this would give an additional impulse to international terrorists and to their activities, and could lead to the spread of terrorism to other parts of the world."
At last. There it is. What can Kerry say to this? Putin is not even one of the "coerced and the bribed." And obviously, he is not one of the willingly blind, either.

Simply Disgusting

Simply Disgusting

Great NY Post editorial this morning about the blatant democrat attempt to steal the election. Money Quote:
As it happens, massive fraud in registering Democratic voters has been documented this year — and constitutes a genuine attempt to manipulate the election.

But Dems aren't interested in that kind of fraud.

Democratic leaders and many in their rank-and-file are simply not prepared ever to accept that voters just might prefer a Republican candidate.

Any GOP victory has to be tainted, the result of a "steal."

Which is why they're fully prepared to manufacture evidence — even when none exists.

It's simply disgusting.
All we can hope for is that Bush wins by a big enough margin to take the sting out of such tactics. When Al Gore refused to concede in 2000, most thinking Americans thought less of him for his venality, for placing himself above the law and the republic. Now we have that Supreme Court decision out there, ready to be used to perpetrate more mischief, as George Will has shown plainly in this essay in Newsweek last week. The Supremes took the easy way out, as usual. Now we may have to reap the whirlwind. As Will puts it:
How did we reach this danger? When Al Gore dragged Florida's courts into the election process, the U.S. Supreme Court did not make the prudent decision to refuse to be dragged into what Justice Felix Frankfurter called the "political thicket." If the court had allowed Florida's intrastate power struggle to proceed, here is what probably would have happened:

Florida's runaway Supreme Court would have done what it seemed determined to do: it would have continued to rewrite the state's election laws and vote-counting rules until they produced a Gore victory. Then Florida's Republican-controlled legislature would have done what the U.S. Constitution empowers state legislatures to do: choose electors.
Same outcome, different route; one which would have not left that terrible precedent.

By the way, why does almost everyone remember that the decision was 5 to 4? The determinative portion of that decision went 7 to 2. Oh well - no wonder I say that the "common knowledge" is always wrong.

As Simple As That

There is no way to add to or improve Victor Davis Hanson's essay on the upcoming election. The last bit:
ohn Kerry is probably going to lose this election, despite the "Vote for Change" rock tour, despite Air America, despite Kitty Kelley's fraud hyped on national media, despite Soros's MoveOn.org hit pieces, despite Fahrenheit 9/11, despite the Nobel Prizes and Cannes Film Awards, despite Rathergate and ABC Memogate, despite the European press, despite Kofi Annan's remonstrations, despite a barking Senator Harkin or Kennedy, despite the leaks of rogue CIA Beltway insiders, despite Jimmy Carter's sanctimonious lectures, despite Joe Wilson, Anonymous, and Richard Clarke — and more. You all have given your best shot, but I think you are going to lose.

Why? Because the majority of Americans does not believe you. The majority is more likely to accept George Bush's tragic view that we really are in a war for our very survival to stop those who would kill us and to alter the landscape that produced them — a terrible war that we are winning.

When all is said and done, it still is as simple as that.
Couldn't say it better. Read the whole thing. At times like these, right after reading something this good, I feel unworthy.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Kerry's Draft

Kerry's Draft

Lots of smoke has been blown by the Democrats, started by Charlie Rangel as a means to get back the attention he used to deserve as the Chairman of the ways and Means Committee in the House. Now the Kerry spinners are trying to make the issue seem real, but in fact are merely revealing their lack of understanding about how our twenty first century military functions. Kerry's last direct contact with the military was in Vietnam, and Rangel's was in Korea. These men seem to be laboring under the belief, if indeed they even believe what they are saying, that a troop can be put in the field after eight weeks training, given a rifle and told where to shoot.

Today's military is a highly professional force that uses some highly complicated equipment. Most troops need a year to train adequately to function in the technological battlefield, and the government invests about a million dollars each to train each one. The idea that a draft could assume such positions also shows how little these liberals know about business and economics. Draftees usually have served two or three years. Kerry's current proposal for national service is for a two year commitment. Yet it would be folly to spend so much to train a man who would serve for so little time. But the most inexperienced personnel manager could tell you how to deal with this problem. It is far preferable to merely increase incentives, both at the recruitment stage and the retention stage. For a troop who will cost over two million dollars for a four year commitment, is it better to incentivize him $20,000 or spend another two million for another troop who will not be ready for action for another year?

Now, it must be understood that these costs are very hard to pin down. The pentagon admits that they themselves have no idea what the hard costs are for training and retention. And, of course, for each troop there are many administrative people, cooks and others that can be trained more cheaply and faster. But whatever the numbers, it is still cheaper, in any business, to spend to retain already trained personnel than to attract, hire, train and motivate new employees. In technical positions, this is even more important. Right now, salaries of active duty personnel are too low, almost scandalously so. Once the election is over, the Congress can take up this issue. In the meantime, anyone who is afraid of an impending draft, and I am talking of over half of the high school students in a recent poll, is being fooled. The only chance we have of having a draft in the forseeable future is to elect John Kerry, and even then, it's not gonna happen.

Friday, October 15, 2004

Lefties for Bush Abound

Why We Will Win

Even as the polls show a razor-sharp lead for George W' Bush, I am sticking with my prediction of a 40 state victory for him. Even for a guy who says that the common knowledge is always wrong, this might seem a bit over the top for me. Bit it really isn't. I see two definite proofs that the GOP is headed for a landslide victory. One I have posted about a few times, and that is the desperation being shown by the Kerry campaign, armed as they are with a plethora of inside, and thus secret, polls. But there is an even better indication that there is a wellspring of support for Bush; support that would not necessarily show up on almost polls - the large number of influential democrats and leftists who openly support the Bush presidency and candidacy.

Senator Zell Miller of Georgia and Major Ed Kock of New York are only the two most prominent democrat politicians who are out of the closet on this. St. Paul Mayor, Randy Kelly, and 99 other Democrats from 27 states and the District of Columbia have declared their support for the Bush candidacy. In addition, Bush can count on many more women, Blacks and Jews to vote for him than historical trends would suggest, by all accounts. On the other side, I could find none; not a single Republican elected official that has declared himself in the Kerry camp. The only demographic group that is switching from the Republicans to the Democrats is the Arab-American cohort, which speaks volumes to what is happening here.

Another interesting development is the number of committed leftists who are supporting Bush. Not only the admitted Trotskyite, Christopher Hitchens, but others have posted comment that describes, in excruciating detail, how they have searched their souls over this issue. While many claim to still be supporting Kerry, one suspects that this debate represents the tip of yet another iceberg. Hitchens complains that so many on the left now find themselves supporting the Jihadis by default, while by any definition they are the more imperialistic and less respective of human rights than any cracked idea of the drawbacks of American society. While many will vote Nader, and many more might stay home, there might just be a supply of Bush votes coming from the (recently) far left. Imagine that, they might just vote on principle!

Unless you count the trolls who comment on blogs or call into talk radio shows, reading from a script that says "I was a Republican until I called this show," there is no basis to declare a countervailing trend to this surge of patriotism. The election this time hinges on whether or not the voter believes that we are at war, or longs for the pre 9/11 world, and believes that Kerry can bring those days back. The reason that so many democrats are voting the elephant this time is mostly the view that Kerry's is a trojan candidacy, and that all of Kerry's statements of toughness on the war on Jihadi terror are a lie. Oh, of course there are many veterans who can not forgive Kerry's opportunism and solidarity with the North Vietnamese enemy, and I am sure that there are more than a few voters who will vote for Bush merely because Kerry is such an unattractive candidate. After all, not even his biggest fans really like him.

UPDATE: The Chicago Tribune (free registration required) has an article that draws the conclusion, without bothering to back it up, that
In the end, most liberal hawks will find it impossible to vote for Bush. They likely will stand with Kerry, praying that as president he will take the right action; that the words of the candidate on the campaign trail were aimed at gaining the vote of a sharply divided nation, concealing what they hope is Kerry's knowledge that the liberal hawks were right all along.
In other words, vote for Kerry, and pray that he will refuse to listen to almost all of those who elected him. No wonder Bush is in left-leaning New Jersey today, talking about the war. If New Jersey goes for Bush, Kerry will be hard pressed to garner 4 states. If the liberal hawks can not bring themselves to vote for Bush, I'll bet dollars to donuts that they stay home, or skip the presidential line altogether. We shall see, in only two weeks now....

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Wrong Man, Wrong Job, Wrong World

Wrong Man, Wrong Job, Wrong World

After further study, I have concluded that the John Kerry that was revealed in the Matt Bai New York Times Magazine article that I posted on yesterday reveals a truly frightening philosophy from the candidate that we had come to believe we understood. He actually lives in a fantasy world in which we are not at war, in which the primary job of a president of the United States is to act as a diplomat, where the best way to respond to terrorist attacks is to hunt down and prosecute the perpetrators, after they act. His law enforcement model for dealing with the Jihadi threat relies heavily upon drug war tactics, making visas difficult to obtain, and cracking down on money laundering. And, most troubling of all, he seems far too willing to aver that the American people are just too stupid to understand the complexities of it all.

In Matt Bai's formulation of Kerry World:
Kerry's view, that the 21st century will be defined by the organized world's struggle against agents of chaos and lawlessness, might be the beginning of a compelling vision. The idea that America and its allies, sharing resources and using the latest technologies, could track the movements of terrorists, seize their bank accounts and carry out targeted military strikes to eliminate them, seems more optimistic and more practical than the notion that the conventional armies of the United States will inevitably have to punish or even invade every Islamic country that might abet radicalism.
There it is. Kerry sees a world that "seems more optimistic and more practical" than the idea that we face an enemy that is determined to destroy us. "Agents of chaos and lawlessness" are a much easier foe to defeat than murderous killers bent on the destruction of the Western World. He believes that his vision is superior, given his experience: three months in a combat zone, two years as a prosecutor, twenty years in a debating society, than the understanding of those who have devoted their lives to the serious study of our enemy. What do Samuel Huntington, Fouad Ajami, and Bernard Lewis know about fundamentalist Islam anyway? It is Kerry's arrogance that is truly frightening. We can now recast this election contest as one between a humble man drawn into the war by events, against a know-it-all who marries rich women and will never stand in line among his inferiors - us.

He knows the world so much better than anyone else. He is unconcerned about caving in to North Korea, which he dismisses with the formulation, again in Bai's words:
Whereas Bush has branded North Korea ''evil'' and refuses to negotiate head on with its authoritarian regime, Kerry would open bilateral talks over its burgeoning nuclear program.
As long as Kerry and his true believers agree that Bush is a moron this makes perfect sense, yet South Korea, Russia and China see Kerry's plan as pure folly, so they must all be morons as well. Kerry knows, you see, because his father was a diplomat. He might as well say that his plan is superior because he stayed in a Marriott last night, except mere motels are beneath his station.
If forced democracy is ultimately Bush's panacea for the ills that haunt the world, as Kerry suggests it is, then Kerry's is diplomacy. Kerry mentions the importance of cooperating with the world community so often that some of his strongest supporters wish he would ease up a bit. (''When people hear multilateral, they think multi-mush,'' Biden despaired.) But multilateralism is not an abstraction to Kerry, whose father served as a career diplomat during the years after World War II. The only time I saw Kerry truly animated during two hours of conversation was when he talked about the ability of a president to build relationships with other leaders.

''We need to engage more directly and more respectfully with Islam, with the state of Islam, with religious leaders, mullahs, imams, clerics, in a way that proves this is not a clash with the British and the Americans and the old forces they remember from the colonial days,'' Kerry told me during a rare break from campaigning, in Seattle at the end of August. ''And that's all about your diplomacy.''

When I suggested that effecting such changes could take many years, Kerry shook his head vehemently and waved me off.
Note his use of the term "forced democracy." It runs throughout the piece. It is perhaps the most arrogant sign, and the most ominous. Not only are the American people a bunch of idiots (after all, we elected Bush, didn't we?) but so are the people of the Middle East, and elsewhere. Where did Kerry get the idea that the people of Iraq, and Afghanistan need to be forced into democracy. The Afghans just, each of them, risked their very lives in order to vote, yet the arrogance of Kerry is such that the evidence must be ignored so that his worldview will prevail. To his mind, and that of many other leftists, peoples of the third world are semihumans to whom the blessings of liberty are not yet attractive, and thus they require autocracies in order to have fully functioning states, in order to achieve "stability."

We have now come full circle, as what was left is now right. It is the Left that supports the idea of dictatorships in the name of stability, and the Right that pursues Wilsonian ideals of universal freedom and democracy. In Kerry's flawed view:
Kerry, too, envisions a freer and more democratic Middle East. But he flatly rejects the premise of viral democracy, particularly when the virus is introduced at gunpoint. ''In this administration, the approach is that democracy is the automatic, easily embraced alternative to every ill in the region,'' he told me. Kerry disagreed. ''You can't impose it on people,'' he said. ''You have to bring them to it. You have to invite them to it. You have to nurture the process.''
This flies in the face of history, where freedom is always wrested from tyranny at the point of a gun, not "nurtured," but seized. We seek not to force anyone to democracy, but we are willing to help to arm and train each nation's freedom fighters. Kerry has complained that we allowed the Afghans to fight their own action against the Taliban - that it should have been an all-American show in Tora Bora. Only a fool could thus disown what was the finest hour in the history of Special Forces, where 1200 Americans empowered the Northern Alliance to throw off the chains of the Taliban, and Kerry is a special kind of fool. He sees all conflict as a replay of Vietnam, and thus sees nothing but his own memories, and even these are imperfect.
Those who know Kerry say this belief is in part a reaction to his own experience in Vietnam, where one understanding of the domino theory (''if Vietnam goes communist, all of Asia will fall'') led to the death of 58,000 Americans, and another (''the South Vietnamese crave democracy'') ran up against the realities of life in a poor, long-war-ravaged country. The people of Vietnam, Kerry found, were susceptible neither to the dogma of communism nor the persuasiveness of American ''liberation.'' As the young Kerry said during his 1971 testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee: ''We found most people didn't even know the difference between communism and democracy. They only wanted to work in rice paddies without helicopters strafing them and bombs with napalm burning their villages and tearing their country apart. They wanted everything to do with the war, particularly with this foreign presence of the United States of America, to leave them alone in peace.''
I hope that we never find out exactly how a Kerry presidency plays out, but just the possibility of his election is chilling. And he calls Bush a cowboy?

Monday, October 11, 2004

Terror as Nuisance

Terror as Nuisance

Now John Kerry sees terror as a "nuisance," in a puff piece in the New York Times Magazine. Tad Devine, spinner for the Kerry campaign, has just said that his candidate will protect this nation just as he protected it as a young man in Vietnam. What first occurs to me is that, as a young man, Kerry's method of "protection" was to protect himself first, to escape combat early, using a seldom-invoked a loophole, leaving the rest of his band of brothers to the tender mercies of the enemy, without himself taking any further risk. Now he is being quoted as saying, in effect, that the deaths of his countrymen, if they are few enough, and infrequent enough, should be only a "nuisance" to the rest of us, who will be either lucky enough to escape the attacks, or wealthy enough to have a bodyguard detail (or smart enough to have married a woman who can afford to protect us with one). He actually compares terrorist attacks to prostitution and gambling. This comparison amounts to nothing less than capitulation to terror; an expression that terror attacks are as unavoidable and ubiquitous as these victimless crimes. Terror bombing a nuisance? Only if the victim is someone else.

While the quote may seem funny, it is in fact the most serious display of the difference between the candidates on this most important of issues. While Bush sees the war as a, well, war, Kerry sees it, as his predecessor, B.J. Clinton did, as a law enforcement problem. Incredibly, as if 9/11 never happened, and its lessons were lost on him, he still sees this as something in which we can wait for the next "crime" to be committed, and then we can go after the perpetrators, and bring the "cowardly criminals" to justice. The entire 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.''
This entire election, and indeed the entire thrust of our response to the Jihadi threat to our very way of life, depends upon Kerry's success or failure in convincing half of the electorate that 9/11 was an anomaly that will never be repeated. We all wish that it were so. Kerry's candidacy hinges upon his ability to get voters to commit our nation to this vision of wishful thinking. Bush's incumbency hinges on our willingness to continue to take positive steps to change the situation.

More than that, this election depends, more than any other in my memory, on the ability of the challenger to pull the wool over the eyes of the electorate. He started with 40% that would vote for a yellow dog if it were standing against President Bush. In order to garner the other 10% he relies on lies and obfuscation. His response to the charge that he refers to terrorism as a nuisance is that his words have been taken out of context. Read the entire article, in context, and make up your own mind. The article is a puff piece on him, a very kind depiction of the candidate calculated to make him more acceptable as a candidate for the nation's highest office. Read it, and you will see the entire contest, in context. This is an election between the 9/11 survivors, and the wishful thinkers who would like to return to a 9/10 world where the radical Islamic fascists who wish to kill enough of us to force the rest of us to pay the jizzya (the tax that Islamic governments charge to Christians and Jews) are still "cowardly criminals," and no threat to the American mainland. The democrats are using a combination of Goebbels-style propaganda and Stalinist big lie theory, even as they say that Carl Rove is the new Goebbels, and Bush is the new Hitler. In the most massively negative, most dishonest campaign in memory, this is, more than anything else, a test of just how gullible the American people are.

Links: On page six of the article is the quote. Here is the link to page one of the article if you want to read it all. The New York Times Magazine front page if you need to register (free, but a nuisance) in order to read the puff piece. Note to Senator Kerry - registering for the NYT is a nuisance; having your family killed is terror, and a tragedy. Your confusion of the two is the reason you shall fail to gain the White House. To call you out of touch with the common people is an understatement equal to your underestimation of the importance of Jihadi terror to the electorate.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Desperation Time

Desperation Time

Two huge wins for freedom yesterday, as Australia reelected John Howard and Afghanistan confirmed Hamid Karzai, are significant not because they show an international appreciation for the Bush Doctrine, but because they show the desperation in the hearts of the American Left. They take huge risks to spin the Afghanistan story and in their attempt to bury the Aussie victory.

A check of the MSM will show that most stories on the Afghan vote highlight the unhappiness of the losers, and an absolutely craven ignoring of the Australian vote. This is risky behavior by a wounded media establishment, which stands to lose much over its attempt to influence the American election. As I have noted before, Evan Thomas's claim that the leftie slant is worth 15% on election day shows just how out of touch they are. This election is all but over, absent a successful theft on November 3rd. Most American voters realize that this election is about nothing less than our very survival, while to the left it is about nothing more than seizing power irrespective of the will of the electorate. The propaganda, the lies, the absolutely shrill rancor of the debate on the left reveals a movement that is past decline, sliding into irrevelance.

In a way, we should all feel sorry for John Kerry. He is, after all, married to one of the richest humans on the face of the Earth. His run for the presidency was an act of supreme vanity, and risks his lucrative marriage as well as his Senate career. His failure to win the White House will cause him some very serious consequences. Boo Hoo Hoo.

But I can not find it in my heart to feel sorry for him or his party. They knew that the odds were long. Their cause undeserving. Had the democrats put up a candidate closer to the mainstream we could have had a campaign and a debate on the significant issues of the day. In the event, they chose the candidate that they believed to be more electable, and in so doing shut off any chance we might have had at getting a better leader. Instead, we will reelect G.W. Bush by default, since he does not have a serious opponent. I reiterate my prediction of a Bush win with forty states, and my statement that even Howard Dean would have gotten a better result. When you put up a candidate whose main argument is that his opponent is unqualified, when that candidate has arguable saved Western civilization from disaster single-handedly; rather than a man who stands for something - anything - you get exactly what you deserve.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

The Insurgency

The Insurgency

In an article carried by the Associatred Press with a byline of Jim Krane, titled "U.S. Faces Complex Insurgency in Iraq," the point is made that our opponents in Iraq are constituted of several different groups, with a single enemy, or, as Krane says, " The three dozen or so guerrilla bands agree on little beyond forcing the Americans out of Iraq." Krane tries to make the case that, even though our opponents have no central leadership or strategy, we are in even more danger than we would be with a single foe. This is just another in a series of attacks on the American war against the Islamic terror masters, in which the mainstream media throws the dart at the wall, and then just draws the bullseye around it.

It is hard to take Krane's article seriously. He has no obvious qualifications, and quotes just one expert. There are some complete innacuracies and mischaracterizations. For instance, he says
History is also replete with insurgencies that triumphed. Vietnamese guerrillas ousted the United States in 1973. Afghan militias similarly embarrassed the Soviet Union in 1989
This point is just completely wrong. The Viet Cong were annihilated in Tet of 1968, and the rest of that war was prosecuted by the North Vietnamese Army. The Soviets were expelled from Afghanistan by a total war against them by the Afghan population as a whole. After years of slit throats in the middle of the night, and attacks whenever they made a move, Russia just gave up.

The fact is that, while the MSM accuse the U.S. Army of fighting the last war, it is they who are fighting the Vietnam war again, probably because they won that war, which was fought between the U.S. government against the mainstream media. But this war is one between the Iraqi people, with a strong assist by U.S. forces, and a minority without much popular support. What support the insurgents have will evaporate once the people believe that we will actually leave. Once again, the only opponent with the power to defeat our side is the leftie media itself. But this time, they will fail.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Joke of the Day

Joke of the Day

Maybe this says more about me than any of the great questions of the day, but I heard this joke yesterday, and just had to pass it along. With apologies to Eddie McGettigan. Happy 80th Ed!

So one day both John Kerry and George Bush are in the same small town in Ohio, campaigning. It turns out that they both need haircuts that day, and there is only one barber in town. The two candidates arrive there at the same time and, as befits the two men's personalities, Bush offers Kerry the first go, and Kerry agrees that he deserves it. As the barber is finishing Kerry's hair, he offers the candidate a splash of cologne. Kerry demurs, claiming that "If I let you do that, Teresa will think that I went to a whore house."

Finished, Kerry returns to his campaigning, and Bush sits in the barber chair for his haircut. As he finishes, the barber pauses, and says that he'd guess that Bush does not want a splash of cologne either. But Bush replies "Nah, go ahead, put it on. Laura's never been in a whore house."

I don't know why, but this little joke made me laugh so hard that I split my pants. Have a great week.

Monday, September 13, 2004

Not Ideology, Competence

Not Ideology, Competence

In 1988 we saw an election in which two candidates with zero charisma ran against each other. The republican, George H.W. Bush, had no recognizable ideology, but was running in the shadow of a towering ideologue, Ronald Reagan. The democrat, Michael Dukakis, another liberal from Taxachusetts, saw his challenge as one of countering the legacy of that great conservative icon. Thus, in his acceptance speech, little Mike said
[T]his election isn’t about ideology. It’s about competence. It’s not about overthrowing governments in Central America. It’s about creating good jobs in middle America.
Thus Dukakis threw away his winning issue, and seized upon his formula for failure. It is amazing to see the democrats throwing away another election for the same reason. It may well be that the ideology of the Left is a loser among American voters, and thus their fear of running on it is justified. But what if they are wrong? In any case, don't the American people have the right to vote on the differences? Isn't this election year choice a false one?

The democrats had their chance to nominate a candidate who embodied their core beliefs, and who was outspoken in his stance on the most important issue of the day. They declined, and instead nominated the candidate who they believed had the best chance to defeat George W. Bush. Implicit in this choice was their belief that Bush is an imbecile, and all they had to do was present the voters with a competent choice, an anti-Bush. Today only the true believers on the Left believe that Kerry would be even a more competent administrator than Bush, and this betrays the blind spot that those on the Left in American politics today have in regard to patriotism or, more accurately, what we believe it is that makes us Americans.

For many years the democrats have ridden to victory at the polls by appealing to victim culture, and the benificiaries of entitlements. Victims and entitlement culture make for a democrat sinecure in many cities and some states, but is a sure loser nationally. That is why republicans have the majority of both houses of Congress, and two thirds of the Statehouses. Their only successful president (i.e. one capable of reelection) since FDR was Clinton, and he ran to the right of both his republican opponents, plus was the only candidate with charisma both times. The democrats have become the victim of their own propaganda. They have successfully painted Bush as a right wing ideologue, and now they can not believe that the electorate is willing to embrace him as such. What a favor they did for the republicans! As a right wing ideologue myself, I can confidently attest that George W. Bush and I can agree on only one single issue and that he is no right wing ideologue. True, that is the most important, indeed the only issue of the day in this time of war. But many democrats are more conservative than Bush.

But ideology is beside the point. In this election there is only one issue. We can all agree that we would rather live in a 9/10 world, before this unpleasantness had been revealed to us. The democrats might be the party to administrate that world. In that world, health care and child care, entitlements and victim reparations are important, and the party that would borrow to increase such transfer payments could garner the lion's share of the vote, since a now fully revealed Bush would, just as happened to his father, see the conservatives stay home on election day. But. We live in a 9/12 world. No amount of Clintonian remonstrations against the "cowardly criminals" will bring back those sleepy days, which many had the temerity to call the end of history. Pandora's box is not only opened, its contents are in plain view for all to see. And, just in case we might forget, along comes a Beslan to remind us. It reminds us that there are many tens of thousands of fanatics who will act in furtherance of the most horrible and violent fantasy of world domination, and will attack us in the most horrible and violent way. Their preferred victim is American children. And the only candidate for president who claims that he will do whatever is possible to protect us from them is George W. Bush.

The American Left has a 40 year record of being the party of "peace," with a well deserved reputation for mistrust (at best) of our military. Today the vast majority of Americans are glad that we have a tough military, and are not afraid to use it. Senator Kerry's campaign is afraid that they will fail to seize power if they tell the truth about their solution to our problem with the Islamic Fascists. Thus, they will not even discuss it. It is 44 days since Senator Kerry has been willing to receive questions from the press, even after promising to submit to same every 30 days. This behavior is beyond dishonest, it is disqualifying. And arrogant. A sitting president could get away with stonewalling the press. A candidate can not. Yet the democrats seem unable to understand this. Because they live in a world of their own, they still believe, many of them, that the perceived incompetence of their opponent is enough to put them over the top. They just don't get it. They are half right. It is about competence, not ideology. But it is not competence in academics or bloviation that they are facing. It is not past competence in 1968, or 1972 that matters. It is competence to apply military force today to destroy those who would blow up and murder American children tomorrow that is the true test of electability in 2004. In that test of competence, George W. Bush wins easily.