April 2 2004
JOBLESS RECOVERY?: Big
number today. We're officially moving to the Krugman
Orange Alert, so keep your eye on how he tries to spin
this into bad news for Bush.
got him up 5.6% on Thune. Early poll. Giago effect not included.
Reelect @ 48.8%, unfavorable rating @ 30%.
THEY NEVER LEARN?: A new
Badger Poll taken from March 23-31 shows President Bush
opening up a 6-point lead on John Kerry in Wisconsin. As
you know, the result from this poll is almost all post-Richard
Clarke's testimony and from a state so closely divided Gore
won it by a measly
votes in 2000.
want to make too much of a single poll, nor do I want to
discount the effectiveness of the President's recent advertising
campaign. But I do think there is a growing body of evidence
that suggests not only that Clarke's testimony didn't hurt
the President, but that the overall effect of the 9/11 Commission
was positive for Bush.
the numbers continue to come in, I think the Dems are starting
to realize what a kamikaze death wish it was to try and
take on Bush on the issue of national security and the war
on terror.The Big
Lie simply isn't selling. Who's brilliant
idea was it to try and convince America Bush is soft
on terror anyway?
the other hand, the White House hasn't wowed me with their
handling of the matter either. They're basically winning
this battle in spite of themselves.
reason is that I just don't think the public puts much stock
in what the Commission is doing. I know I don't. The way
the hearings are being conducted - in public and during
the middle of a heated Presidential campaign - has one side
trying to revise history, the other side trying to spin
details, and both sides trying to hunker down in the weeds
and avoid blame. Right or wrong, that's the way Washington
bad news for Democrats is that the public doesn't give a
rip about who saw what memo when in early 2001. Everyone
knows that for many years prior to 9/11 the government wasn't
as fully focused on al-Qaeda and terrorism as it should
have been. They also know there is a significant difference
between 8 years and 8 months. But that's all water under
we're seeing a recognition that hindsight is easy, at times
cheap and of limited value in general. Yes, we care how
and why 9/11 happened. But we care more about making sure
it doesn't happen again.
one thing the Commission has accomplished is to reconfirm
in the public's mind that 9/11 was a cataclysmic, watershed
moment in American history that (as cliche as it sounds)
changed everything. Of the two candidates running for President,
only one shares that belief.
was a strategic mistake for Democrats to think the 9/11
Commission would be fertile political ground for them and
for failing to recognize how the Commission would ultimately
play to Bush's strength.
what? They're going to make the same mistake again later
this year when the 9/11 Commission report comes out on the
eve of the Democratic National Convention. Some people never
learn. - T. Bevan 9:21 am| Link
to a Friend
April 1 2004
NO FOOLING TODAY:
Yesterday's acts of savagery in Iraq leave me in no mood
for jokes this morning. Peggy
Noonan gets it right on Opinionjournal.com - except
she's not nearly Old Testament enough about it. The people
responsible for yesterday's atrocities need to suffer, and
dark part of me wants us to respond with such raw ferocity
so as to leave the Baathists and bin Ladenites stunned.
It's not politically correct but I'll admit it: part of
me wants to see those responsible stuffed with bacon and
put before a firing squad; wants to see innocents of Fallujah
sent packing; wants to see that hornet's nest of evil turned
into the world's biggest asphalt parking lot.
not going to happen, of course, nor should it. Because unlike
the inhumanity on display yesterday, that's not how we operate.
It's the defining difference between us and them.
have the power to raze towns, to destroy millions of people
with the push of a single button, yet we don't. Our responsibility
to civilization and to mankind prevents us from even considering
isn't any question, however, what Islamofascists would do
if they possessed even a fraction of the power we have today.
The Vatican would be a smoldering pile of rubble and Manhattan
would be uninhabitable for the next 200 years.
respect for life and our obligation as a Superpower puts
us at an operational disadvantage against the enemy. But
it shouldn't prevent us from responding with a show of force
and justice that will send a clear message to those in Fallujah
and elsewhere that such actions simply will not be tolerated.
sooner we force the thugs and assassins in Iraq to understand
that we're not playing around and we're not going away,
the more lives that will be saved in the long run.
to believe, but true.
O'FRANKEN FACTOR: I listened to most of The
O'Franken Factor yesterday. Obviously, I'm not the target
audience so it's a bit tough for me to say whether his show
(as well as the entire network) is going to have any staying
power. From what I heard yesterday, however, I'd have to
say it doesn't look too promising.
no question Franken is a smart, funny guy. But my initial
reaction is that the format of the show just stinks. Co-host
Lanpher, formerly of Minnesota Public Radio, serves
more or less as Franken's foil for the full three hours.
She takes the show to and from break, introduces guests
and news items and then passes them off to Franken to freelance.
those who listen to Howard Stern, it's like the last half
hour his show when he does the news with Robin, except Franken's
gig is six times longer and about fifty times less entertaining.
highlight of the show (or low light, depending on your perspective)
was the interview with Bob Kerrey. Kerrey was quite critical
of the Bush administration on a number of things (especially
their handling of the 9/11 Commission itself) but he refused
to take the bait when Lanpher and Franken went off into
loony land and started asking questions about whether Bush
knew any of the bin Laden family members and/or was personally
involved in arranging their flight out of the country on
September 11 and implying that the joint testimony of Bush
& Cheney was designed to shield President Bush because
he's a moron (MoDo
was obviously tuning in).
you might expect, Michael Moore was much more responsive
to these same type of questions when Franken & Lanpher
interviewed him during the last hour of the show.
problem with the O'Franken Factor is that it just didn't
seem to cover much ground at all. Unlike Rush Limbaugh,
who flits from subject to subject using news reports from
all around the country as segues, Franken and Lanpher spent
almost the entire three hours droning on about the 9/11
Commission and what liars Bush and his people are. Franken
cited a number of old news articles to support his arguments,
but I don't think he informed his listeners of a single
thing they probably already didn't know or hadn't already
in all, the O'Franken Factor strives to be funny and informative,
but instead of blending those two characteristics into a
quality form of satire (like the Daily Show, for example),
the show seems completely disjointed by them. The result
is three hours of jabber that isn't very informative and
not very funny.
Looks like I wasn't the only one who wasn't impressed with
Franken's show: here,
On the same day we post this
article, the AP
runs this. Dumb luck, I guess. - T. Bevan 12:35
am | Link
to a Friend
March 31 2004
ODDS & ENDS: First things first. You'll
see on the left hand side of the page we have a new ad up
for TNR. Please be sure
to click through and visit their site. Always much interesting
stuff going on over there.
be sure to check out the RCP Election
2004 page. Many interesting goodies there, too.
of the most important stories, of course, is the decision
of Indian activist Tim
Giago to run as an Independent in the general election
rather than mount a primary challenge to Senate Minority
Leader Tom Daschle.
folks at the RNC and the RSCC were already salivating at
the thought of Thune knocking off Daschle in November, so
they must be standing in a puddle of their own drool today.
news is the new
Keystone poll out of Pennsylvania. One month ago Bush
trailed Kerry by one point (46-47). Today, Bush still has
46%, but Kerry has dropped to 40%. It's not all Nader, either.
Ralph only got 3% in this poll.
Terry Madonna, director of the poll at Franklin & Marshall
College, gives some analysis:
been a bad month for John Kerry. He had that horribly
weak explanation of his vote on the $87 billion Iraq package,
and Bush launched a huge television campaign here, painting
him as a flip-flopper with no values, and a big-spending
negative commercials drove up Kerry's unfavorables and
pushed some of his weak supporters into the undecided
column," Madonna said.
believes Clarke's accusations that Bush dropped the ball
on terrorism largely reinforced the views of committed
voters on both sides, failing to pay a dividend for the
last sentence may be the most important one of all, and
it echoes John's analysis below, so keep reading. -
T. Bevan 11:38am | Link
to a Friend
COMMISSION: I was surprised at the near unanimity
among political pundits this weekend that last week's hearings
had hurt the President. Some of the initial euphoria among
Democrats and the press that Clarke had drawn some blood
might now be tempered after the latest polls showing movement
toward Bush and away from Kerry.
a lot of reasons why the Bush-Kerry numbers have improved
for the President and it would be mistake to draw the conclusion
that Bush's numbers have gotten better because of the hearings.
Nevertheless, the Democrats' big hope that last week was
some sort of watershed moment where the President suffered
a serious blow to the core of his Presidency doesn't seem
to have panned out.
regard to the hearings and Clarke's charges, there are two
main factors that will make this issue a positive for the
President in the long run. First, like
I said last week, the more the public and the press
is talking about al Qaeda, bin Laden, terrorism, 9/11, etc..
that is a major positive for the President. Second, Democrats
are going to regret making this such a huge issue. By attacking
the President's conduct before 9/11 they have opened the
door for the Bush campaign to hammer back later this year
and vigorously defend President Bush's record on fighting
is not hard to imagine potential commercials showing the
1993 WTC bombing, the Khobar Towers attack, the African
embassies, the attack on the USS Cole and the feeble response
by the Clinton administration. This stands in stark contrast
to the attack on 9/11 and the subsequent invasion of Afghanistan,
destruction of the Taliban, invasion of Iraq and capture
of Saddam Hussein.
this past week has done is highlight the differences between
the Democrats and the Republicans on the approach to terrorism.
Kerry and the Democrats argue for an approach that centers
around law enforcement, money for first responders and cooperation
with the "international community."
and the GOP have a radically different strategy that treats
terrorism as a war, where the U.S. will preemptively
bring the fight to the terrorists and the states that harbor
watching last week's hearings is there any doubt which approach
would have had a better chance of preventing 9/11? The American
people aren't stupid and no amount of hyperventilating by
the press is going to convince them that the Clinton response
to terrorism in the 1990's was superior to the Bush response
the media elite and intellectuals on the left might recoil
with horror at the Bush Doctrine, given a choice the American
people are going to vote for a policy of preemption as opposed
to Kerry's law enforcement approach. The past ten days have
only highlighted that choice and that's ultimately bad news
for the Democrats.
ADS TAKING THEIR TOLL: Kerry had a tremendous six-week
run from Iowa through Super Tuesday, and that run was reflected
in his head-head polling against President Bush. But the
swing in the most recent Gallup poll has to be troubling
for the Kerry campaign.
know there is some real blood being drawn when today's Washington
Post runs a front-page headline "Bush
Ads Scoring Points - Negative blitz has wiped out Kerry's
lead and damaged his public image:"
senator from Massachusetts emerged from the primaries
unscathed but still little known, a condition Bush's team
set about to change with an aggressive plan to define
the senator before he could define himself. A month later,
more voters see Kerry as "too liberal," and a solid majority
says he is someone who has changed his positions on issues
for political reasons -- both charges leveled by the Bush
campaign's daily attacks through ads and public statements.
like the Bush campaign and this White House might be a little
more in control than the popular political wisdom seems
In that vein, you have to wonder whether this whole Condi
Rice episode was a classic rope-a-dope strategy from
the beginning. Personally I doubt it was all preplanned,
and I suspect the White House simply reassessed the cost/benefit
analysis and decided that the policy gain in regards to
precedent wasn't worth the political damage in continuing
to insist Rice not testify publicly.
of whether it was planned or not, in many ways works out
better for Bush as Rice will now have the spotlight all
to herself and I suspect she will lay out a very powerful
case for the President. - J. McIntyre 7:23 am |
to a Friend
March 30 2004
CONDI WILL TESTIFY: In public and under oath. This
news, because I think it wasn't a smart poltical move
for the White House to have Condi Rice out in public doing
shows like 60
Minutes and at the same time preventing her from testifying
before the Commission.
press and many on the left are licking their chops over
the prospect of seeing Rice before the Commission, and there
seems to be some anticipation that her testimony is going
to somehow damage the President. The exact opposite is going
will do fine - probably much better than fine. Of course
Richard Ben-Veniste and Tim Roemer will do their best to
score some cheap partisan political points, but Condi is
more than capable of handling those two.
the end it's going to be another day the media and the country
will spend talking about George W. Bush and his prosecution
of the War on Terror. As I've said before, that's a winner
for him, not a loser.
BETTER MAN WILL WIN: Yesterday in Lawrence, Kansas,
Carville told an audience of KU students:
me tell you what the truth is, John Kerry is a better
man than George W. Bush."
also offered a prediction for November:
say this publicly: Bush is going to lose," Carville
said at the news conference. "As far as I can see,
going around the country -- and I'm not covering anything,
this is not an off-the-record prediction -- they are not
going to win re-election. The country just doesn't have
any appetite to continue this. America wants something
like James has been spinning so hard for so long he's actually
spun himself into a state of denial.
all of the terrible media coverage over the last few weeks,
Bush's job approval remains solid at a respectable
49.4%, including 52%
in Carville's own poll released last week.
other results from Carville's
Democracy Corps poll: Bush's mean favorability rating
was 6.5% higher than Kerry's (54.9-48.5), sixty-three percent
of respondents said Bush was a "strong leader"
and 52% said he "offers a hopeful vision for the future."
numbers aren't all good news for Bush, but there is plenty
of evidence available in the DC poll and elsewhere to suggest
the country feels just fine about keeping Bush on as President
for another four years.
NEWS FOR AMERICA: Looks like we can just about
say goodbye to the World
Church of the Creator. - T. Bevan 11:53 am |
to a Friend
March 29 2004
ANOTHER ENDORSEMENT FOR KERRY!: Well, sort of.
Hans Blix stopped just short of endorsing Kerry in a Q&A
in this weekend's
NY Times Magazine:
What do you think of John Kerry?
I welcome his attitude toward multilateral cooperation.
I think he is trying to get back to the traditional U.S.
said this a thousand times, so count this as number one
thousand and one: those "traditional U.S. attitudes"
that Kerry is "trying to get back to" - the
same attitudes that certain European leaders so desperately
want us to get back to - are partly responsible for
the unfettered rise of al-Qaeda and the horror of September
11. Unless we want to repeat the same mistakes and tragedies
visited on the world by terrorists in the last few years,
we can't go back, only forward. - T. Bevan 12:10pm
to a Friend
2004: Denise Majette will run for Zell Miller's
seat and Jim Kolbe will get a primary challenge from his
right. Two of the many stories now up on the
Election 2004 page.
CLARKE MISLED ME: We put the quote up on the front
page yesterday morning, but I want to spend a minute more
on it here.
the end of Meet
the Press yesterday, Tim Russert asked what seemed like
a throwaway question to Richard Clarke:
Did you vote for George Bush in 2000?
Clarke: No I did not.
Russert: Did you vote for Al Gore?
Clarke: Yes I did.
caught my attention because I thought I remembered very
specifically that Clarke told the 9/11 Commission he'd voted
for Bush. Turns out I was wrong, Clarke only led me to believe
that's what he'd said.
is what Clarke
said on Wednesday when questioned by Secretary Lehman
about his possible "credibility problem":
me talk about partisanship here, since you raise it. I've
been accused of being a member of John Kerry's campaign
team several times this week, including by the White House.
So let's just lay that one to bed. I'm not working for
the Kerry campaign. Last time I had to declare my party
loyalty, it was to vote in the Virginia primary for president
of the United States in the year 2000. And I asked for
a Republican ballot. "
people have emailed to say they don't think this was an
attempt by Clarke to mislead. I disagree. Even if Clarke
wasn't trying to leave the Commission and the public with
the false impression that he'd voted for President Bush
- which I think he obviously was - Clarke voluntarily served
up his voting record (i.e. the fact he'd taken a Republican
ballot) to innoculate himself against charges of partisanship.
fact that he proffered one vote as evidence and kept the
other one to himself until asked directly tells you just
about everything you need to know. - T. Bevan 8:19
am | Link
to a Friend
IMPORTANT IS THE PATRIOT ACT?: Pretty important.
But don't take my word for it. Last week 9/11
Commissioner Lee Hamilton asked CIA Director George Tenet
a simple question: why were we unable to prevent the
attack. Tenet said the answer had many layers, but here's
one of the biggies:
you also had systemically a wall that was in place between
the criminal side and the intelligence side. What's in
a criminal case doesn't cross over that line. Ironclad
regulations. So that even people in the Criminal Division
and the Intelligence Divisions of the FBI couldn't talk
to each other, let alone talk to us or us talk to them.
Systemic issues like that: Patriot Act absolutely essential...
truth is, is here's the unassailable fact: The terrorist
is a smart operational animal. He's going to figure all
this out. He's going to figure out your watch list system's
better or your visa system's better, and he's going to
infiltrate your country with phony documents and passports.
then the question's going to be: How good are you inside
your country in understanding what these groups are doing?
How good is your domestic intelligence capability?
the bleating about John Ashcroft digging through your Blockbuster
receipts is a load of bull. Much of The Patriot Act is little
more than common sense, and we're tremendously lucky as
a country we ended the grossly negligent practice of not
allowing the CIA and FBI to share data before it contributed
to the death of even more Americans.
KERRY AND THE PATRIOT ACT: John Kerry thinks The
Patriot Act is too abusive - at least the way its being
employed by this administration - and that parts of it need
to be rolled back.
thing he doesn't like is the way the Bush administration
has dealt with detainees. That's a fair point, and one worth
debating. At least it is based on legitimate facts.
under a section on his web site titled "Prevent
Unchecked and Unreasonable Invasions of Privacy"
Kerry also claims that:
spirit of the law has been abused by the Ashcroft Justice
Department, which has taken every opportunity
to limit freedom and civil liberties. Given
these abuses, John Kerry believes it is necessary
to scale back several provisions in the Patriot Act to
assure our enhanced security does not come at the expense
of our civil liberties. (emphasis added)
the proof for this claim? There isn't any, of course. It's
just a straw man for John Kerry, Champion of Freedom™,
to knock down.
lists four provisions of The Patriot Act he'll fight to
do away with in his first 100 days as President. Here's
the first one:
OVERSIGHT OF “SNEAK AND PEEK” SEARCHES.
John Ashcroft has used new authority under the Patriot
Act to perform “sneak and peek” searches without
ever notifying anyone and without any judicial oversight.
Agents can break into a home or business to take photos,
seize physical property, examine and copy computer files,
load a secret keystroke detector on a computer, or download
the information from a previously loaded keystroke detector.
states definitively that Ashcroft "has used the new
authority" of the Patriot Act to perform sneak and
peek searches "without ever notifying anyone
and without any judicial oversight." Notice
Kerry doesn't cite a single example as proof, however, and
instead reels off a frightening list of intrusive things
agents "can" do.
reason Kerry doesn't cite an example is because he doesn't
have one. The odiously named "sneak and peek"
searches are also known as "delayed notification search
warrants" and they've been used to catch mob bosses
and drug dealers for years.
they do require judicial oversight. The Justice
Department explains why delayed notification warrants
are such a valuable tool in the fight against terrorists:
some cases if criminals are tipped off too early to an
investigation, they might flee, destroy evidence, intimidate
or kill witnesses, cut off contact with associates, or
take other action to evade arrest. Therefore,
federal courts in narrow circumstances long have allowed
law enforcement to delay for a limited time when the subject
is told that a judicially-approved search warrant has
been executed. This tool can be used only with a court
order, in extremely narrow circumstances when immediate
notification may result in death or physical harm to an
individual, flight from prosecution, evidence tampering,
witness intimidation, or serious jeopardy to an investigation.
The reasonable delay gives law enforcement time
to identify the criminal’s associates, eliminate
immediate threats to our communities, and coordinate the
arrests of multiple individuals without tipping them off
beforehand. In all cases, law enforcement must
give notice that property has been searched or seized.
Kerry has never had a problem letting the DoJ use "sneak
and peek" searches against drug dealers or child pornographers
but when it comes to terrorists, he's up in arms.
number two of The Patriot Act to be rolled back by President
UNWARRANTED SEIZURE OF LIBRARY OR BUSINESS RECORDS.
The Patriot Act enables law enforcement to obtain a vast
array of library and business records with minimal judicial
oversight. This provision permits the FBI to conduct fishing
expeditions regardless of lack of suspicion. For example,
an FBI agent could walk into a library and ask for records
– a list of who has checked out what book –
without having any clear suspicions of terrorism. Kerry
believes that this broad authority to scrutinize the subject
of library patrons’ interests is a threat to free
speech and free thought. He will require a court order
for the information and require the FBI to show that there
are specific reasons to believe that the person is an
agent of a foreign power.
with the scary hypotheticals about FBI agents digging through
our library records. So far as I know there hasn't been
a single documented case of this happening.
Kerry suggests there is now too little oversight for such
law enforcement activities (even though a Foreign Intelligence
Surveillance Court order is still needed) and that we should
toughen up the standard for such requests. This should warm
the heart of anyone hoping to emulate Zacarious
also wants to repeal the jackboot tactics of "unchecked
roving wiretaps" and "blanket preemption of existing
checks on local law enforcement."
bottom line is pretty simple: I'm not a terrorist. I have
nothing to hide from the government. Given the fact that
I'm a citizen of a free country that is unquestionably at
war, I'm willing to give my government a little extra latitude
to hunt down, capture, and/or kill enemies who may be living
and until I see proof the government is truly abusing the
extra privileges we're allowing them to do this job, then
I don't have a problem. The fact is there are safeguards
in place to monitor application of The Patriot Act for possible
abuses, as well as a sunset provision at the end of 2005.
there is a balance to be struck between freedom and safety.
Of course we would all rather have more freedom. But if
trading the slightest bit of it - which doesn't really affect
our daily lives at all - helps in some way to save the life
of even one of our fellow citizens from a terror attack,
I consider that a no-brainer.
point: George Bush is constantly excoriated by liberals
for using fear as a political tool. Yet here we have John
Kerry painting one scary scenario after another designed
to make Americans fear their government for short-term political
gain, when the truth is that the only people who have legitimate
cause to fear The Patriot Act are terrorists who wish destroy
us. - T. Bevan 10:30 am | Link
to a Friend