Sunday Thoughts

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On NOW with Bill Moyers, Moyers interviewed George Farah of Open Debates, the anti-CPD group I've mentioned many times before. Farah is the guy who wrote No Debate, the book I've lauded many times before.

It was a pretty good story, and they covered most of the main points of why the CPD is illegal, undemocratic, and generally bad for everybody except for the two candidates.

It is becoming increasingly too late to change anything for this year, but if enough people tune out and complain this year, maybe things will change for next year.

To be fair, some things have changed for the better. The Memorandum of Understanding was made public, and the candidates did not select the moderators. But they still had the power to change the moderators if they wanted to, and the CPD selected largely inoffensive moderators to begin with (although Bob Schieffer offends me, but largely because he is inoffensive and otherwise not very good at what he does ... if you are unfamiliar with him, watch Face the Nation some Sunday morning on CBS, or just wait until his debate comes up over the next few weeks; maybe in this space I'll review the moderators of each press conference^W^Wdebate instead of the debates themselves).

I'll miss Thursday's debate (well, I wouldn't say I'll be missing it!), as I'll be fishing off the coast of Vancouver BC, but that's what TiVo is for.

Predicting Winners

Also on PBS on Friday was a story (Real audio) on NewsHour about some unorthodox ways of picking the winner. There was one I've heard many times before in different forms, predicting a winner by economic conditions.

One guy also said weather is a decent predictor, that bad weather (such as a particularly bad hurricane season) reflects poorly on the incumbent. That same man, however, advocated a broader approach, using many different methods and averaging them together.

A third method was to use a market, like a stock market. If Bush "stock" is higher than Kerry "stock," he is more likely to win. They illustrated the point by asking 20 people on the street how many jelly beans were in a jar. The guesses ranged from about 300 to 10,000, but the average -- about 1400 -- was closer to the actual number -- about 1350 -- than any of the individual guesses.

All three methods picked Bush as the winner, although they were careful to note that the methods were not necessarily reliable (duh).


In a democracy, you must be able to criticize your leaders. But is there a line between criticizing and undermining?

John Kerry has slammed Bush incessantly over his handling of the war in Iraq. Fine. But is it fine to slander our allies who have chosen to go along with our war in Iraq ("Coalition of the Bribed") or the prime minister of Iraq ("you can almost see the hand underneath the shirt today moving the lips"), whose support we and the people of Iraq need to accomplish the goals?

The reason I say these things cross the line from criticizing to undermining is not merely because they are exceptionally harsh of our allies, but because they seem designed to actually harm the mission, to ridicule people into not wanting to continue. Does Kerry think these things will only affect American voters? Does he think people in Great Britain or Australia might be more or less likely to support their respective government's actions in Iraq after saying their countries were bribed? Does he think people in Iraq might be more or less likely to support Allawi, in both words and deeds, after saying he is a mere puppet of the U.S.?

Can he see at all past the effect his words are having on the election, and does he care? As I've noted before, his rhetoric in recent weeks seems to be focused more on getting out of Iraq than completing the mission there, and this only adds to my concern over the matter.


I am still optimistic about our chances for success in Iraq. When I say that, people look at me like my head is spinning around. How could you possibly think that, I'm asked. I cited Senator John McCain, from the Armed Services Committee -- who knows a lot more than any of us do, and is largely regarded as a straight-shooter, about Iraq -- who said a week or so ago that he believes elections are still possible by January.

This week, General John Abizaid, head of Centcom -- who knows a lot more than any of us do, and is largely regarded as a straight-shooter, about Iraq -- said he read the intelligence estimate of July and that he believed it was "overly pessimistic," that elections were still possible, that the people are not on the verge of civil war or turning against the Americans, that the insurgents have not won a single engagement against the US or Iraqi forces.

At least I am in good company, if people think I am crazy for being optimistic.


I heard quite a bit about that windsurfing ad with Kerry, without paying any real attention to it. From what I heard, I believed the ad was from Bush or the GOP. Then I saw the windsurfing ad, and it wasn't: it was from some random 527. I was annoyed that people were saying it was from Bush ... but then I saw it again, and it was from Bush. There's two completely different windsurfing ads.

The 527 ad was considerably more silly, with computer animation, goofy fonts, and complete with a surfer girl doing the voiceover. My confusion was broadened by Capital Gang, which showed this 527 ad opposite a Kerry ad, that claimed Bush was running "a juvenile and tasteless attack ad." So someone on Capital Gang is lying to its viewers, saying this far more juvenile ad from a 527 is what Kerry is referring to. Nice job, CNN. You fooled me, at first.

Regardless, Kerry's statement is asinine. He appeared on several comedy shows -- The Daily Show, Letterman -- in recent weeks making juvenile comments about the President, and he runs attack ads against Bush all the time. Heck, this "Juvenile" ad is itself an attack ad, and juvenile ("Waaaah! I'm telling mom!").

(I don't address whether any of what Kerry says is "tasteless" because I think one could easily believe all, or none, of these ads are tasteless ... it's pointless to even discuss.)


This is still such a huge media story, it is not going away any time soon. It covers media bias, dirty tricks, elections, anonymous sources, and truth.

I am still waiting for Mapes -- a left-wing partisan whose goal was to get Bush with a story she was convinced was true, regardless of the facts she could prove -- to get fired. It can't happen soon enough.

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"It is the common fate of the indolent to see their rights become a prey to the active. The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt."

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This page contains a single entry by pudge published on September 27, 2004 10:35 AM.

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