The spirit of Jimmy the Greek lives! Week twelve's pool boasted 12-4 performances from reader Alan and myself, but it was Morris who bested the pack by going an amazing 13-3. Best of all, Morris won on six of seven underdog picks--with the Chargers, Bills, Redskins, Texans, Saints, and Panthers coming through. Despite a gritty defense of the championship by Fong (11-5), Morris regains the title he lost in week seven. Congratulations are in order, and Morris: tell us what it's like to be back on top again.
The grafitti I glimpsed on a church in North Cambridge got some ink on Monday. In addition to the "woman" symbol that I saw spraypainted on a statue of the Virgin Mary, the Boston Herald reported that a crown of coathangers were placed atop the Blessed Mother's head.
The Catholic Church's stance on abortion seems to have motivated the desecration. Near the vandalized statue, the local Knights of Columbus had years earlier placed a plaque reading: "In loving memory of the unborn victims of abortion." The vandals responded in spraypaint: "Get yr religion off our lives!"
This, in a nutshell, exemplifies the upside-down logic of feminists: a benign plaque on private property represents religion intruding upon society--in Cambridge, Massachusetts no less!--but damaging a work of art on private property with grafitti represents no such intolerance. So far as I know, there have been no protests or expressions of outrage by those so prone to such behavior in the most liberal city in the most liberal state.
If the vandals had spraypainted over Serrano's Piss Christ or Chris Ofili's Virgin Mary in elephant dung rather than a statue honoring Jesus Christ's mother, do you think that Cambridge liberals would have taken notice by now?
There's a not so fine line between a film being "da bomb" and a film being a "bomb." Alexander is on the wrong side of that line.
Costing $150 million, Alexander grossed just $22 million in its five-day opening weekend. That puts the Macedonian in sixth place, sandwiched between an ocean-dwelling cartoon known as SpongeBob and a plump, lovelorn girl named Bridget Jones. It's not just the unwashed masses who reject Alexander, but movie critics who normally fawn over anything with Oliver Stone's name attached.
I haven't seen Alexander, so I can't comment on the substance of the movie. One of my brothers, who takes a greater interest in film, describes it as soft-core gay pornography. He told of theater-goers laughing at the on-screen spectacle and openly mocking the movie. Some were so angry that they stormed out of the moviehouse.
Should we be surprised by either the anecdotal or the box-office rejection of Alexander? People don't trust Oliver Stone to do history. Sure, injecting homosexual themes into an action-epic risks alienating your core audience, but is that really the reason, as some are suggesting, that filmgoers are going to other films?
Audiences have been familiar with Stone's work over the past quarter century. They've seen the conspiracy-minded silliness of JFK and Nixon, and so have studio executives. While the former reject such nonsense, the latter embrace it. Hollywood moguls prefer the over-the-top political message of Stone's movies--Salvador, Wall Street, Talk Radio, JFK--to profits. Why else would a major studio entrust Oliver Stone with $150 million to make a movie about any historical topic?
The Boston Red Sox are Sports Illustrated's Sportsmen of the Year. "Collectively, the Sox were Sportsmen in the truest sense -- professional, collegial, colorful athletes who were easy to root for," explains SI. My nominees for the FlynnFiles Unsportsman of the Year are Mike Danton of the St. Louis Blues, Boxer James Butler, and MC Artest of the Indiana Pacers. The scale of their offenses differ, but their impact on their collective sports is the same: ten good guys can't undo the negative coverage of one bad guy.
Like millions of Americans, I did some traveling this weekend. Specifically, I drove from DC to Boston and back. Sunday's drive was brutal. I have three complaints about both legs of the trip.
First: why do states conduct road construction on the most traveled weekend of the year? As is often the case, New York and Connecticut had evening road-crews working on the eve of Thanksgiving weekend. On the trip to Boston, I-95 through New York City featured several lane closures--including one choke point that narrowed I-95 to one lane--for construction projects. One job featured several men working underneath a bridge that passes over I-95. I know next to nothing about what they were doing, but was it so essential as to necessitate closing all but one lane on the busiest highway in America as it cut through its largest city on the busiest travel week of the year?
Second: tolls are out of control. Northbound over the George Washington Bridge costs $6, the Jersey Turnpike $6.35 (but the smell around the exit for Elizabeth, New Jersey is free), and southbound over the Delaware Memorial Bridge $3. Connecticut is the only state on the trip that doesn't charge a toll, but they make that up by hiding the state police at the bottom of large hills to gather revenue in a more creative fashion. Maryland's $5 toll on Interstate 95 near the Delaware border (Hey, I thought states couldn't collect tolls on federal roads?) is the most outrageous. You see, Delaware has no sales tax. Maryland doesn't like this, because Marylanders prefer shopping in Delaware. This saves the citizens of Maryland millions, but costs the government of Maryland millions too. Thus, Maryland put in this ridiculous toll on I-95--a federally-funded road--that serves as a proxy tarrif on goods purchased within the borders of their smaller neighbor. Isn't there something in the Constitution preventing states from inhibiting interstate commerce?
Third: some enlightenment is needed regarding toll amnesties during heavy traffic. Massachusetts occasionally permits motorists to pass through tolls without paying the fee when holiday traffic becomes too much. The back-up on the Jersey Turnpike on Sunday afternoon approached twenty miles because of the toll booths. A hundred yards after paying New Jersey's excessive toll, a new back-up began in large part because of the toll for the Delaware Memorial Bridge. On days when highways are heavily congested, tolls waste hundreds of thousands of hours, unecessarily contribute to air pollution, and eat-up expensive fuel in stop-and-go traffic. Here's hoping commonsense can overcome government greed. If it can happen in Massachusetts, it can happen anywhere.
I blog from Boston, capital of the bluest state. Although pockets of blue-collar conservatism exist in Massachusetts, it has earned its reputation as a bastion of liberalism. Bay Staters voted for native-son John Kerry in greater proportions than any other state--just as they did for George McGovern in 1972. Massachusetts is deep blue.
Not surprisingly, many of the locals still endure a hangover that's lasted since November 2. This is especially true of Cambridge.
At Harvard University, Kerry-for-President signs still hang from scattered windows almost a month after election day. Throughout the city, pro-Kerry messages adorn bumpers. This is no shock--I still glimpse Mondale-Ferraro bumperstickers on occassion. What is a bit startling is some of the more venomous messages I saw while riding the famous 77 bus to Harvard Square. Someone defaced a statue of the Virgin Mary at a church in North Cambridge by spraypainting a feminist "woman" symbol on it. Past Porter Square, a mural of red and white stripes decorates the exterior wall of one shop. This proved too much for some inhabitant of this supposed bastion of tolerance, who spraypainted the words "End U.S. Imperialism" over the painting of the waving flag. At the Harvard Book Shop, a petition titled--no joke--"Freadom v. the Patriot Act" asks customers to protest Bush administration policies. Grafitti on Mass. Ave. leading to Central Square was more blunt: "Kill Bush."
We are not talking about a bunch of country rubes. This is Cambridge, home of Harvard and MIT, Brattle Street wealth, and countless bookstores. Yet, many locals react to President Bush's election-day triumph in a manner every bit as hysterical as the Montana Militia's reaction to Bill Clinton. High IQs and multiple degrees aren't antidotes to foolishness. Stroll through the People's Republic on the Charles and you'll see what I mean.
Within the United States, a journalist would be accused of attack politics if he labeled a liberal politician, well, a liberal. Here, even politicians who aren't particularly conservative seek to cloak themselves in conservatism. Politicians who are very liberal distance themselves as far as possible from liberalism.
Jonah Goldberg touches upon this phenomenon in his column today. "Aargh!" wails a frustrated Goldberg. "That's what I say every single time I hear would-be Ukrainian president Viktor Yushchenko described as a "liberal" and the Moscow-backed Ukrainian prime minister called a "conservative."
Outside the United States, the labels journalists use to describe leaders, movements, and governments don't seem to have anything to do with the actual meanings of those words. Conservative is applied to as diverse a collection of groups as "conservative" Communists seeking to regain power in the Soviet Union, the "conservative" clerics in Iran, or the underground "conservative" National Socialists in Germany. In other words, whenever something is bad it's necessarily conservative.
Liberal, on the other hand, is applied just as readily to socialists in France as it is to reformers in the former Soviet Union seeking to make the economy more free. In other words, liberal has no stable definition when applied to political leaders, groups, and governments beyond our borders. Normally, liberal is used to denote the good guys just as conservative is used to denote the bad guys.
The indiscriminant use of such labels tells us more about those using them than about the folks tagged with such labels.
The Pilgrims didn't have a lot to give thanks for during their first years at Plymouth. Their fields yielded small crops, and the settlers went hungry. Why? Did bad weather, disease, or some other calamity befall them? Not really; socialism did. As settlers relied on others for their daily bread, their loaves, and thus their bellies, became smaller.
"To rectify this situation, in 1623 Bradford abolished socialism," writes Richard Maybury. "He gave each household a parcel of land and told them they could keep what they produced, or trade it away as they saw fit. In other words, he replaced socialism with a free market, and that was the end of famines."
We have a lot of things to be thankful for today, not the least of which is America's tradition of rejecting socialism and embracing the free market.
Dan Rather is leaving. It's about time. I'm tempted to compare him to the guest who stayed too long in Bob Seger's "Famous Final Scene," but since no one watches Rather's program any longer his departure has but symbolic significance. By the time Dan Rather sought to pawn off forged documents as military records in his attempt to derail Bush 2004, few people put much faith in him. And those who did watch his program mainly did so not for news but to have their views validated. Some critics are complaining that Rather refuses to admit Rathergate's role in his departure, but let's face reality: Rathergate had nothing to do with this septuagenarian's retirement. To me, that's the real scandal. A network news show acted as the auxiliary of the Democratic Party in airing false documents damaging the Republican candidate, and as of two months later no one takes the fall. This would be a big scandal if it were a traditional business, a church, or a government official. But since the news media is weary of covering scandal within their own ranks, they've given CBS a pass.
What's the frequency, Kenneth? I don't know, but it won't be tuned to CBS anytime soon.
Thirteen years ago, rock music lost perhaps its most unforgettable showman. Freddie Mercury succumbed to AIDS on this day in 1991, just hours after acknowledging he had the deadly disease. The band he fronted, Queen, put out some of the best music you've ever heard--"Under Pressure," "We Are the Champions," "Somebody to Love," etc. Queen successfully conquered disco ("Another One Bites the Dust"), hard rock ("Hammer to Fall"), opera ("Bohemian Rhapsody"), synth-pop ("Radio Ga Ga"), and just about any other musical style they wanted to. For many, Mercury provided Live Aid's most memorable performance. On the world's largest stage, Mercury was larger than life. Ironically, Queen's crowning achievement came at a time when their popularity, at least within the United States, was probably at its nadir. Less than a decade later, Mercury, and necessarily Queen, would be gone for good. That's too bad for us, but on the bandstand in the sky he is belting out some great tunes with Keith Moon, Jimi Hendrix, John Bonham, Brian Jones, John Lennon, Ronnie van Zandt, John Entwhistle, and too many others lost to this world.
Home teams are in caps. Spreads are non-negotiable. All picks must be in before kickoff on Thursday--that's right, as always Detroit and Dallas will be hosting games on Thanksgiving. Here are my picks: Colts -9 over LIONS, COWBOYS -3 over Bears, BENGALS -5.5 over Browns, CHIEFS -3 over Chargers, VIKINGS -5.5 over Jaguars, GIANTS +7 over Eagles, Redskins +11 over STEELERS, PANTHERS +3 over Bucs, TEXANS +2 over Titans, Saints +9.5 over FALCONS, Dolphins -1 over NINERS, Bills +5 over SEAHAWKS, CARDINALS +3 over Jets, PATRIOTS -7 over Ravens, BRONCOS -10 over Raiders, and on Monday Night Football, PACKERS -6.5 over Rams. Make your picks now--before you forget--in the comments section below.
"Arriving at home, my housemate said Adam had flown into a wooden chair and broke his neck. In a freak accident, my baby was taken away from me prematurely." This comes from the website of the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. The "Adam" the writer is discussing is a turkey. "Standing beside his crucifix-decorated grave, my commitment to animal protection was revitalized," this unglued individual writes. "I was compelled to use the pain from his passing as a proactive springboard for action. Adam would not want me to fold in the face of tragedy."
It's that time of year again. The time of year when "more than 45 million turkeys will have their beaks and toes cut off without painkillers and their throats slit while they are still conscious--all so that they can become part of someone’s Thanksgiving dinner." Well, according to PETA, that's what Thanksgiving is about.
Years ago, Saturday Night Live did a skit featuring the character Cinder Calhoun, an out-to-lunch animal rights activist who sang:
We gather together for yams, beans, and cranberry sauce.
But have you given much thought lately to the Turkey Holocaust?
Twenty million noble birds slaughtered every fall.
Ain't no difference between Hitler, Stalin -- and the folks at Butterball!
It's generally considered a bad sign when the movement you're in exceeds the parodies of it in the crazy department.
We have a new champion. Reader Homer Fong went 10-5, with the Packers-Texans contest ending in the dreaded push, to eke out a victory over a pack of also-rans. Fong smartly went with the NFL elite (Steelers, Eagles, Pats), and also correctly selected the underdog Bills, Jets, and Titans. Savor your time in the winner's circle while it lasts, Fong. Week twelve starts on Thursday, so competitors remember to make your selections early this week. But for now readers, admit you were wrong and give props to Fong. Fong, all of FlynnFiles wants to hear how you did it.
Marines aced an Iraqi who fired at them while he pretended to be dead. About a week ago, another Marine's killing of a wounded and unarmed Iraqi brought about an hysterical response in some quarters. Those dumbfounded by why that Marine did what he did now have a better understanding. When you're fighting an enemy that employs underhanded tactics, it helps to fight them with the expectation that they will employ underhanded tactics. In other words, the barbaric conduct of some Iraqi insurgents--faking death to kill approaching Marines--led to the disturbing death of that wounded and unarmed man broadcast to the world a few days ago. If liberals bothered to examine the conduct of the Arab fighters as closely as they scrutinize the conduct of Americans soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines, they might better understand why that Marine possibly took the action that he did in Fallujah.
His name isn't David Stern for nothing.
The commissioner of the NBA came down hard on Sunday, suspending Ron Artest for the season, Stephen Jackson for thirty games, Jermaine O'Neal for twenty-five games, and numerous others for a lesser number of contests. Championship contenders became cellar-dwelling pretenders mainly through the thoughtless actions of one selfish idiot. Hey, Rick Carlisle: maybe giving Ron Artest a month off to promote his rap album wasn't such a bad idea, after all.
To love basketball is to hate it in its present state. The NBA has dispensed with traditional rules against travelling, carrying, and man-handling offensive players, and good guys worth cheering for like Tim Duncan and Grant Hill seem few and far between. David Stern suspended Ron Artest for fighting with fans in the seats, but you've got to think that years of Dennis Rodmans, Latrell Sprewells, and Rasheed Wallaces weren't far from his mind in meting out the harsh penalty. The league suffers economically from people who benefit economically from the league.
Since it's hard for me to root for any actual NBA team, I've decided that the only rational thing to do is to become insane and devise my own imaginary team of fictional all-stars and root for them. Here's my starting line-up:
At center, from Carver High School...Warren Coolidge.
At point guard, from the projects...Basketball Jones.
At power forward, from the Charlotte Banshees...Juwanna Mann.
At off guard, from the Pittsburgh Piscies...Set Shot.
And at small forward, from Hickory High School...Jimmy Chitwood.
Coming off the bench are Teen Wolf, Chuck Cunningham, AC and Zack from SBTB, and Sidney Deane. Our motivating theme song will be "Basketball" by Curtis Blow.
I know there are a lot of unanswered questions about my team. How would Jimmy Chitwood fare in the shot-clock era? Can you guarantee that Chuck Cunningham, who abandoned Happy Days after just a few episodes, won't abandon the team after a few games? With more agressive defenders, would Set Shot's slow release time ensure an abundance of swatted shots? Do mandatory drug testing and Basketball Jones mix? Would money and fame, and the absence of the stablizing influence of Coach Reeves, sidetrack Coolidge? All of these questions, I can assure you, will be answered by our mad play on the hardwood.
I spent much of this weekend reconnecting with old friends brought together by the passing of Reed Irvine, founder of Accuracy in Media and Accuracy in Academia. Excellent eulogies by Cliff Kincaid, Hugh Turley, and Peter LaBarbera made Reed's funeral the only church service I can remember that I wanted to go on longer.
I spent five-and-a-half years as executive director of AIA, working as a twentysomething conservative for a WWII vet. Somehow, the relationship worked. Reed wore many hats in his long life--Marine, Fulbright Scholar, Federal Reserve Board economist, media watchdog, father, grandfather, husband, mentor.
One of his talents that I never encountered was that of poet. But Reed, to my surprise, had a gift for that as well. Recently, some AIM employees came upon this poem of Reed's in his papers that was written more than five years ago, as he sensed his last years were before him. I am grateful that it was shared with his friends and family at his funeral. It's absolutely beautiful, and I'd like to share it with you.
I didn't just lust for fleeting fame
Or dream of ill-gotten booty.
I valued more my unstained name
And devotion to my duty.
Cursed are those whose god is gold
Amassed at any cost.
And so are those whose road to fame
Is strewn with loved ones lost.
May I be blessed with love sincere
From those whose love I cherish.
And may my progeny revere
My example when I perish.
And when there tolls the final bell
And life winds to its end,
I pray that those who knew me well
Will proudly call me friend.
--Reed Irvine, April 5, 1999
In a shallow attempt to gain street cred, rapper MC Artest provoked a violent altercation with the Detroit Pistons that degenerated into a brawl with fans. Artest, as you may recall, also plays off guard for the Indiana Pacers when he's not partaking in his true musical passions. A few days ago a major story broke, reporting that Artest had asked out of as much as a month of the NBA season to promote his rap album. He will probably get his wish after Friday night's fiasco at The Palace in Auburn Hills, Michigan.
With a few seconds left in a game that the Pacers had won, Artest committed a hard foul against Ben Wallace (the last guy in the NBA, including Shaq, I'd want to do that to). Wallace retaliated, and Artest bizarrely reclined on the scorers' table in response. A fan disturbed Artest's rest by accurately lobbing a full beer cup on his uniform, and then all hell broke loose (Seriously, other than stepping on a rapper's shoes, messing up his threads will really, really cause a beef). Artest went NHL, charging into the crowd and indiscriminantly throwing down with fans. The Pistons faithful generally gave as good as they got, save one man who was absolutely nailed by Jermaine O'Neal.
NBA emissaries brawling with fans might be seen the logical extension of the league's insulting of basketball fans by discarding rules against travelling, carrying, and mugging offensive players, or a fans' revolt against the punks that populate the rosters of too many teams. Or, perhaps, punks on the court attract punks in the stands. However you want to interpret it, one can't escape the reality that images of crying children, flattened old ladies, and bloodied men aren't good for the league.
Never one to fail to note the obvious, a stunned Bill Walton observed: "This is a low moment in NBA history." Ya think?
Earlier this week, a Marine invaded our television sets by killing a wounded and unarmed insurgent in a Fallujah mosque. Naturally, the Muslim world is shocked, shocked. But so are many Americans, unaccustomed perhaps to seeing war on something other than the silver screen.
From my living room, it appears that the Marine acted callously and without regard for human life...from my living room. But the disturbing incident took place in a much less controlled environment than from where I witnessed it. Consider that the Marine shooting the unarmed fighter was wounded in the face the day prior, that a block from where the mosque incident took place a booby-trapped body had killed another Marine, and that the Marines had just been warned to look out for Iraqis feigning death to inflict death.
Our enemies get to decapitate, kidnap, and intentionally blow-up civilians. Americans are to fight by the Marquis of Queensbury rules. Marines are to be cautious, indulgent, and willing to give the enemy the benefit of the doubt. In other words, they are to be reckless with their own lives.
Should those employing every dirty trick in the book be surprised when Americans react to them as if they are capable of employing every dirty trick in the book?
George Will suggests a number of hard-hitting questions for senators to ask secretary of state nominee Condoleezza Rice during her confirmation hearing. Among them, Will wants to know whether Rice would agree with the secretary of defense during the first Iraq war, who stated: "Once you've got Baghdad, it's not clear what you do with it. It's not clear what kind of government you would put in place of the one that's currently there now. Is it going to be a Shia regime, a Sunni regime or a Kurdish regime? Or one that tilts toward the Baathists, or one that tilts toward the Islamic fundamentalists? How much credibility is that government going to have if it's set up by the United States military when it's there? How long does the United States military have to stay to protect the people that sign on for that government, and what happens to it once we leave?" The defense secretary skepticly raising these questions was none other than the current vice president, Dick Cheney.
Exactly when and by what means, in the twelve years between issuing these remarks and marking himself as the chief administration hawk balking at these very same warnings, did aliens steal Dick Cheney's brain?
Yes? You are ready for some football? Okay, here we go. Home teams in caps. You don't get to make up your own spread. My picks are BILLS +1 over Rams, RAVENS -8 over Cowboys, BROWNS -1 over Jets, BENGALS +4.5 over Steelers, Colts -7 over BEARS, Lions +7.5 over VIKINGS, PANTHERS -3 over Cardinals, JAGUARS -3 over Titans, Niners +7.5 over BUCS, SAINTS +4 over Broncos, SEAHAWKS -10 over Dolphins, Chargers -4 over RAIDERS, GIANTS +2.5 over Falcons, EAGLES -11 over Redskins, TEXANS +3 over Packers, and, on Monday Night Football, Patriots -3 over Chiefs. Be a hero and not a zero--make your picks in the comments section. The winner will be announced with great fanfare on Tuesday.
"Republican leaders pursued a radical agenda through radical means," reads a display at the new Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock. "They used new tools and tactics--lawsuits, investigations, new partisan media, front groups, a secret slush fund, and deeply divisive rhetoric--in their battle for political supremacy. The normal give-and-take of public life gave way to what many called the 'politics of personal destruction.' After the Republicans won the Congress in 1994, the fight for power culminated in two government shutdowns and an impeachment battle, bringing partisan opposition to a new high and attempting to deny the very legitimacy of the President's election."
Politics of personal destruction? Have the museum curators ever heard of Clarence Thomas, Raymond Donovan, or Robert Bork? New partisan media? Is that somehow different from the old partisan media? Investigations? Does siccing the IRS on political opponents and opening up the FBI files of Republicans count? Attempting to deny the very legitimacy of the President's election? Did you guys miss the last four years? Deeply divisive rhetoric? What did Hillary say about a "vast, right-wing conspiracy"?
The rant could have come from the mouth of Geraldo Rivera, Robert Wexler, Charles Grodin, Barbara Streisand, or some other Clinton camp-follower of the 1990s. But it didn't. The curators of the Clinton Presidential Library have turned history on its head. Bill Clinton did nothing wrong, you see, and anyone who opposed him was a really, really bad person. Yeah, and if you believe that you still probably believe Bill Clinton didn't inhale, didn't lie to avoid service in Vietnam, and did not have sex with that woman.
We are the champions...DocMcG and I, that is. Week ten proved a difficult week for football prophets--there are a lot of injuries this time of year, you know. Keys to victory for me included taking the underdog Saints, Cardinals, and Bengals, while DocMcG rode to the winner's circle on the backs of favorites and the homedog Cards. Congratulations, and some words from DocMcG himself--still champion after winning both weeks nine and ten--are in order.
Alfred Kinsey circumcised himself with a pocketknife, compulsively pierced his genitals, and partook in peculiar activities involving a noose and his groin. But the Indiana University professor's unsettling personal behavior is not why his mid-century reports on human sexuality are so controversial today. My piece on TownHall.com explains why Kinsey's dishonest scholarship, rather than the bedroom behavior that motivated that scholarship, serves as the primary basis for objecting to Kinsey and the hagiographic film by the same name that hits theaters across the nation on Friday.
Reed Irvine, founder of Accuracy in Media and Accuracy in Academia, has died. Before the bloggers, before Ann Coulter or Bernie Goldberg, before the talk-radio revolution, there was Reed Irvine--scourge of the liberal media. Reed launched Accuracy in Media in 1969, when there were three network news divisions and that's it. There was no DrudgeReport, Rush Limbaugh, or Fox News Channel to keep them honest. But Reed did--or at least he tried. And he had fun doing it. Many journalists were not so cheerful about Reed's activities. Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee famously called Reed "a miserable, carping, retromingent vigilante." Reed had the right enemies.
I worked for Reed Irvine for more than five years, serving as the executive director of Accuracy in Academia. We collaborated on a number of projects, including a conference correcting revisionist Cold War history that took place on the 50th anniversary of Joe McCarthy's famous Wheeling, West Virginia speech. My clearest memory of Reed comes from Accuracy in Academia's 1998 conference at Columbia University, "A Place at the Table: Conservative Ideas in Higher Education." Well, the Left of Morningside Heights took our place away. They protested our first speaker, Ward Connerly, hurling profanity at anyone who dared go in to the lecture hall and listen to him. Reed ate this up and engaged in several animated conversations with spoiled rich kids young enough to be his grandchildren. Columbia kicked us off campus, and the following day Reed spoke in a park outside of Columbia's boundaries. The whole event was surreal.
A college wrestler, a World War II Marine, and an avid tennis player, Reed was as fit an octogenarian as they come and fiercely competitive. My wife once bested him, barely, in ping-pong, for instance, and it was evident that it bothered him. "Rematch?" he asked. He was stubborn, but when he knew he had made a mistake he owned up to it more vocally than anyone I've met. Once email came along, he used the medium to blast out corrections to his errors. This impressed me. Others might have hid their mistakes. Reed held himself up to the same standard he applied to Dan Rather, Peter Jennings, and Tom Brokaw. His passion for accuracy was so great that in the twilight of his time on Earth, he noted a mistake on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? that led to a contestant's defeat. He reacted the same way he had reacted years earlier to inaccuracies by Walter Cronkite: he wrote a letter and complained. His note didn't fall on blind eyes. The game show rectified its error and allowed the wronged contestant to return for another shot at a million--all thanks to Reed.
Reed tried to retire several times, but it didn't really suit him. The thinking around the office was that he'd die writing an AIM Report at his desk. He didn't, but he did suffer a heart-attack in 2002 in the office. He cut back, but the man was a workoholic. His only son carries on his work as a media watchdog at Accuracy in Media, and his many intellectual progeny carry on his work as media watchdogs throughout the nation. Rest in peace, Reed Irvine.
I welcome the recent departures of the secretaries of agriculture, commerce, energy, and education. I only wish they had shut down their departments upon handing in their resignation letters.
It's not that I have anything against any of these "public servants." I hardly even know their names. I certainly didn't realize who Ann Veneman was before a news anchor informed me she had resigned as secretary of agriculture. Should I have? Other than siphoning money from my paycheck, what impact does the department of agriculture have on my life? And I guess that's my point: most federal departments, if they effect our lives at all, do so in a negative manner. I'd be happy if they all just disappeared--at least the ones not utilized by the first eleven presidents.
We started with just four cabinet-level departments: foreign affairs, which soon became state; war, which became defense once "war" fit too well; treasury; and justice. Establish treaties and relations with other nations, defend the homeland from foreign enemies, collect and spend revenue, and adjudicate disputes and administer justice--all of this was too reasonable to last.
The republic functioned quite nicely for more than sixty years before it occurred to the nation's political leadership that they should add a fifth department. So, in 1849, they created the department of the interior; thirteen years later agriculture; then in 1913 commerce and labor were added; Congress waited another forty years before launching health, education, and welfare, which is now known as the department of health and human services; lawmakers took a twelve-year respite before the birth of housing and urban development in 1965 and transportation the next year; on Jimmy Carter's watch, the departments of energy and education came about; the first George Bush gave us veterans affairs; and his son presided over the establishment of homeland security.
Curiously, in the 155 years that have witnessed the establishment of eleven new federal departments not a single department has been abolished. If four cabinet positions were good enough for George #1, why should George #43 get fifteen?
Despite their best efforts, subsequent generations haven't been able to improve upon the unintrusive and efficient federal government established by the Founding Fathers. All around Washington, wannabes dream of filling one of several useless cabinet posts. At least one Washingtonian, a few stories above Connecticut Avenue, dreams of eliminating their jobs entirely.
On 9/11, nineteen young men sharing the same Islamic faith and Arab heritage hijacked four planes and killed nearly 3,000 people. To prevent future hijackings, the federal government demands that its airport security forget past hijackings. Specifically, government rules dictate that airport screeners treat elderly black women the same as twenty-five year old Muslim men. My review of Michael Smerconish's Flying Blind wonders if the government's indulgence of political correctness in favor of some passengers' convenience comes at the expense of other passengers' safety.
A California jury convicted Scott Peterson of double-murder on Friday. Peterson killed his wife Laci and their unborn child Conner. Feminists should view justice for Scott Peterson a major victory. But some of them don't. You see, pro-abortion feminists don't think Conner Peterson was a person, and therefore, don't think that Scott Peterson is a double-murderer.
A life existed in Laci Peterson's womb. It wasn't a "clump of cells" or some other euphemism, but a baby. A California jury of twelve could see this. Why can't the New York Times, the Democratic Party, the National Organization for Women, and other promoters of late-term abortions?
Old Dirty Bastard, otherwise known as Big Baby Jesus and Dirt McGirt, died Saturday in a recording studio. ODB was paid to entertain, and he entertained--even when he wasn't getting paid. I can't name a single song he recorded, but I know that he crashed the Grammys presentation onstage. I also know he famously brought MTV along as he got food stamps from welfare offices in New York, despite earning piles of money from his rap records with the Wu-Tang Clan. ODB, apparently, was a ladies man, having spawned more than a dozen offspring with numerous women. He leaves behind a drug habit, more than a baseball team full of children, an unfinished rap album, and, especially, a mournful public knowing that the likes of ODB--refreshing, unpredictable, and really, really different--come around (at least for those of us living outside the projects) once in a lifetime. Old Dirty Bastard, rest in peace.
Old School My favorite behind-the-scenes sports moment of 2004 is Kevin Millar's contested revelation that the BoSox rode Jack Daniels to their first World Series victory since 1918. Millar explained that the arctic conditions of Yankee Stadium compelled the entire roster to take a shot of JD prior to game six of the American League Championship Series. The results were positive. Playing a traditional game, albeit in quite untraditional fashion, the Red Sox players continued their pre-game ritual through game four of the World Series.
New School My least favorite outside-the-lines sports story of 2004 involves MC Artest, who in his spare time plays shooting guard for the Indiana Pacers. Ron Artest asked out of a month of the NBA season in order to pursue musical opportunities, particularly those involving his non-existent rap career. Coach Rick Carlisle obliged, in a sense, benching Artest for two games for his ridiculous demand. While the NBA has dispensed with rules against travelling and carrying, it has yet to replace overtime with a battle-rap. Until it does, I'll view Ron Artest as one of the biggest fools in sports.
The Killers -- Mr. Brightside
Shawn Smith -- Wrapped in My Memory
Wilco -- The Late Greats
Chiggedy check it out. If you're listening to something cool, worthy of downloading or perhaps even of travelling to a record store and dishing out some hard-earned cash, please share your suggestions with your fellow citizens of FlynnFiles Nation.
Last Friday, Amherst, Massachusetts witnessed a Puerto Rican flag-raising on its town common. On Sunday, town meeting member Patricia Church held her own Puerto Rican flag lowering ceremony.
You see, Church mistook the Puerto Rican flag for the flag of Texas. "Obviously, I'm not a racist. I wasn't even thinking," she said. "I made a mistake." Texas, of course, is the home of he-whose-name-is-forbidden-in-Amherst.
Tune-in tonight to CNN's Paula Zahn Now. The show airs from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. EDT. I'll be making a brief appearance in a news segment on the controversy surrounding the release of Kinsey, starring Liam Neeson. I sat for an interview earlier today, stating that Kinsey cooked the books on his data--payind a friend to pretend to be his statistician, stacking his male sample group with prison inmates, and uncritically accepting the word of child rapists that their victims enjoyed sex. Kinsey, of course, is discussed at length in Intellectual Morons.
Here are my picks: Ravens -1.5 over JETS, BROWNS +3.5 over Steelers, Texans +9 over COLTS, TITANS -3 over Bears, FALCONS -3.5 over Bucs, JAGUARS -3.5 over Lions, RAMS Pick 'em over Seahawks, SAINTS +4 over CHIEFS, Bangals +3 over REDSKINS, PACKERS -4 over Vikings, CARDS +2.5 over Giants, NINERS Pick 'em over Panthers, PATRIOTS -7.5 over Bills, and in the Monday night game, COWBOYS +6.5 over Eagles. Make your selections in the comments section below.
In 1992, Democrat Bill Clinton won 43 percent of the vote and his liberal camp followers called it a mandate. In 2004, Republican George W. Bush won 51 percent of the vote--becoming the first presidential candidate to win a majority of votes since his father did it in 1988--and liberals balk at talk of a mandate and urge a conciliatory approach from the president. In other words, they want the president to move left.
In a similarly Orwellian abuse of language, initiatives that pass in eleven of eleven states banning gay marriage are labeled "divisive." Lesson: even if there's near unanimity on a issue, it's divisive if liberals don't get their way.
When Democrats win, they're urged by the mainstream media to fulfill their mandate. When Republicans win, they're urged to move in the political direction of the people they just defeated. In this situation alone, it would benefit conservatives for Republicans to behave like Democrats.
Two hundred and twenty-nine years ago, the United States Marine Corps was launched. Like all great concepts, it originated in a bar--Tun Tavern in Philadelphia to be precise. Happy birthday to Chesty Puller, Mills Lane, Drew Carey, F. Lee Bailey, Montel Williams, Gene Hackman, and FlynnFiles readers Lt. Ankrum and Corporal Swetz. A special happy birthday goes to my former brothers-in-arms serving in harm's way. They are celebrating November 10 in a unique, Marine Corps way.
The most maligned member of George W. Bush's cabinet has resigned. John Ashcroft's actual record speaks better of him than the rhetoric of his many critics. The fact remains, no major act of Islamic terrorism has been carried out on U.S. soil since 9/11. This happened not because al Qaeda decided to call off the dogs. This happened because John Ashcroft pursued America's internal enemies relentlessly.
The Grinch's efforts are getting a boost from mall security--at least in Great Britain.
Numerous UK shopping centers, er, I mean centres, have banned Santa Claus from their premises during the holiday season for not being inclusive enough of non-Christians. While the Brits are at it, they might want to inspect the origins of those three suspicious crosses on their national standard.
A spokeswoman for a mall in Birmingham that banned Santa remarked: "We wish to be sensitive to people of other religions over the festive period. There are a lot of people in the region who are not Christians and do not celebrate Christmas." Yes, and why would these people be flooding malls in the weeks immediately preceeding December 25?
I welcome FlynnFiles readers in the fire-engine red states of Georgia and Tennessee to attend one of my lectures this Thursday. At 12:15 p.m., I speak at Emory University School of Law in room 1B of the law building. The event is sponsored by the Federalist Society. Later that evening, I lecture at Lee University in Cleveland, Tennessee at 7 p.m. Young America's Foundation sponsors that event.
DocMcG wiped the floor with the competition in week nine to become the new AYRFSF pool champion. The Steelers and Redskins covered, so DocMcG picked up two automatic wins there. Add to this nine other correct picks, including underdog wins with the Bears, Cardinals, Bills, and Vikings, and DocMcG cruised to the winner's circle. Losers, offer your congratulations below. DocMcG, let's hear how you did it.
How out to lunch is the Left? A web poll of the readers of the Democratic Underground site found the vast majority of respondents believing that George W. Bush's reelection was more devastating than 9/11.
It's amusing that people who harbor contempt for conservative ideas are often quick to lecture right-minded individuals on what is and isn't legitimate conservatism. Hardball reporter David Schuster is the latest liberal instructing conservatives to be faithful to conservative principles by acting like liberals. He tells conservatives that gay marriage's overwhelming defeats at the polls one week ago represent "A loss for true conservatism."
Usually when liberals say something is a loss for "true" conservatism, they really mean it's a loss for liberalism.
Schuster laments "an endless supply of hatred and fear" and confesses that he is "baffled as to why we would keep such an institution [marriage] away from anybody." Anybody? Really? How about a brother and a sister, or marriages with time limits, or group marriages? A 29-year-old woman in Connecticut, readers of the Drudge Report learned today, claims she wants to marry an eight-year-old boy.
Perhaps proponents of gay marriage would say that it's a no-brainer that the aforementioned people--bigamists, pedophiles, incestuous couples, and other assorted pervs--should be excluded from the marital rite. In doing this, one admits that there should be some discriminatory standard. If one agrees on this, the question becomes what should the standard be?
Mired in relativism, liberals don't have an answer. Conservatives do. Marriage is a union between one man and one woman till death do they part. What's the conservative rationale for retaining the standard definition of marriage?
First, so-called gay marriage exalts theory over experience. It discards thousands of years of tradition in favor of the present-day whims of a small number of people. Second, it flaunts the moral teachings of Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and all of the world's great faiths. Third, its imposition, by way of judicial dictates in Vermont and Massachusetts, violates the will of the people of those states. It literally transforms Vermont and Massachusetts from democracies into oligarchies. Finally, it undermines the cornerstone of our civilization, the family, by devaluing the institution, its alreadly slipping permanence, and its role in raising children.
Consider Schuster's self-righteous lament about last week's ballot initiatives that rejected gay marriage in eleven of eleven states where the issue appeared before voters. He writes: "Maybe some Americans want to return to the days of slavery, devout observance to the Sabbath, long hair, all cotton clothes, and stoning people... I would prefer that our society move forward."
Me too, but believing that the destruction of traditional marriage is progress requires an incredible amount of hubris. Everyone that came before me, the homosexual marriage proponents argue, was wrong.
"We all want progress," C.S. Lewis argued more than a half-century ago. "If you're on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; and in that case the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive man." Amen.
Larger than life figures are mere mortals when it comes to death. Their admiring and despising publics don't believe it. The Kennedys murdered Marilyn Monroe. The CIA assassinated Martin Luther King. Prince Charles offed Lady Diana. Even the deaths of mediocre historical figures, such as Zachary Taylor, are surrounded in intrigue.
Yasser Arafat's death is remarkable only in that it occurs peacefully in a hospital bed. Like conspiracy theories surrounding Monroe, MLK, Lady Di, and General Taylor, the wild tales regarding Arafat's demise rely mostly on the imaginations of their proponents. When I see actual evidence showing that Arafat has AIDS or has been poisoned, then I'll believe it. Until then, the competing theories prove nothing save the enormous capacity man has to fantasize the worst possible things about his enemies.
For a while there, I thought liberals were actually taking their defeat at the polls rather graciously. Then I heard that a man despondent over Bush's victory killed himself at ground zero, saw these insane reactions to the election by San Francisco leftists, and watched the commentary on The McLaughlin Group on Sunday in utter disbelief.
In the course of a half-hour program, Eleanor Clift claimed that the judicial ramifications of the election could lead to a liberal "revolution," while Lawrence O'Donnell opined that "secession" in the next twenty years is a real possibility for some of the blue states. Clift may have been using the word "revolution" rhetorically, but O'Donnell was as serious as a heart attack. Someone remind me why this unglued individual remains a regular feature of talking-head shows? O'Donnell behaved as a lunatic a few weeks back when John O'Neill of Swift Boat Veterans for Truth appeared on MSNBC. Now he's discussing the idea of secession--thus far, I've seen no television commentator but him float this--because his side lost the election. Boo-hoo!
The Illinois Supreme Court awarded parental custody to a woman who recently was released from prison after murdering her two-year-old son. Sheryl Hardy forced her son to eat his own excrement and smoked a cigarette while her husband repeatedly submerged the toddler in a toilet. The boy died the following day from the abuse.
After serving less than a third of a thirty-year prison sentence, Hardy remarried and gave birth to another child three years ago. Despite murdering her last child, the court awarded her custody of her new son.
The Massachusetts Supreme Court forced gay "marriage" upon the citizens of the Bay State. The California Supreme Court decreed that Catholic Charities must provide birth-control coverage for employees. Now, the Illinois Supreme Court orders a child under the care of a convicted child-murderer.
Like the angel Clarence taking George Bailey through Pottersville, such arrogant court decisions give us an idea of what the U.S. Supreme Court might have looked like had John Kerry received 80,000 more votes in Ohio last Tuesday.
After a 22-month layoff, Kostya Tszyu's dominating performance Saturday night did nothing to quell the idea that pound for pound he is the best prize fighter on planet earth. Tszyu destroyed Sharmba Mitchell, one of the best fighters in the world, fighting in the best division--140 pounds--in boxing. Tszyu knocked down Mitchell four times in three rounds before the referee called the fight. Tszyu's unorthodox style and deceptive power makes him a hard man to fight and an interesting man to watch. Here's hoping he takes on one of the many other exciting fighters in his division--Arturo Gatti, Ricky Hatton, Floyd Mayweather, Jr., etc.
Liberals say that in 2000 George W. Bush was elected president by the Supreme Court. I say that in 2004 George W. Bush was reelected by the Supreme Court--the Massachusetts Supreme Court.
Seventy-nine percent of the voters who reelected George W. Bush chose "moral values" as their top concern. Among all voters, morality trumped the economy/jobs, terrorism, Iraq, health care, taxes, and education.
Unsurprisingly, this undeniable phenomenon--morality being the primary catalyst that reelected the president--is being spun by pundits uncomfortable with it.
Adam Doverspike at RedState claims the morality "emphasis is very misleading." It's not, but his argument is. He claims "the War on Terrorism and the War in Iraq were the most important issue to 34% of voters while Taxes/Economy/Jobs/Health Care counted for 33% of voters. Moral Values garnered 22%."
Nice try, but the war on terrorism and the war in Iraq are two separate issues. They were listed as two separate issues in the exit poll. Sure, combining the records of the Baltimore Ravens and the New York Jets makes them the winningest team in football--if only they were a single team. They're not, just like the war on terrorism and the war in Iraq are two different issues. More evidence on this point can be found by analyzing where these votes went: voters placing chief importance on terrorism went 86-14 for Bush, while those picking Iraq went 73-26 for Kerry.
Moral values, CBS's Dick Meyer complains, are a code word, for well, being against immorality. Meyer calls the conventional wisdom that moral values were of supreme importance to election 2004 "exaggerated," "misguided," and "mularky."
Meyer writes: "Moral values, as a phrase on an exit poll, is a Rorschach Test; to a great degree, the question is like asking, 'What is most important to you – jobs, terrorism, health care, education, or the issue that is really the most important issue to you.' It's tautological." Come again?
Social liberals ignore reality at their own peril. Eleven of eleven states where questions on gay marriages and/or civil unions appeared on the ballot rejected the gay agenda. Four out of five voters who reelected the president picked "moral values" as the issue of primary importance to them. Moral values outperformed issues that received exponentially more news coverage--Iraq and the economy, to cite just two examples.
Liberals cheered the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts for imposing gay marriage upon the people of the Bay State--John Kerry's constituents--by fiat. They're not cheering now.
If the Republicans are the party of the rich, why did the nation's three wealthiest counties vote for John Kerry in the 2004 election? Curious, I examined the vote totals of the ten richest counties in the United States. While George Bush won a majority of votes in America, John Kerry won a majority of these super-rich counties.
Perhaps this helps explain the party's recent failures. Instead of surrounding himself with auto workers, John Kerry opted to cavort with Ben Affleck. Instead of listening to the concerns of Middle America, Democrats opened their ears to George Soros. Instead of embracing mainstream values, the Democrats championed the morality of Rosie O'Donnell.
The Democrats are the party for people who don't work. At one extreme, the Democrats enjoy the support of people sponging off the government for section eight, food stamps, and a welfare check. At the other end of the spectrum, the Democrats enjoy the support of playboys and socialites living off trust-funds and investment dividends. This is not your father's Democratic Party.
We have a new champion, and his name is Dennis. Who will knock him from his perch? The home team is listed in caps and the spreads are non-negotiable. Make your picks in the comments section. Here are my picks: BILLS +3 over Jets, STEELERS +1.5 over Eagles, LIONS -3.5 over Redskins, BENGALS +1.5 over Cowboys, PANTHERS -7 over Raiders, DOLPHINS -3 over Cardinals, Chiefs -3 over BUCS, GIANTS -9 over Bears, Seahawks -6.5 over NINERS, CHARGERS -6 over Saints, Patriots -2.5 over RAMS, Texans +6.5 over BRONCOS, RAVENS -6 over Browns, and, in the Monday evening contest, COLTS -6 over Vikings. Post your selections in the comments section below. The winner will be celebrated in a post next week.
Liberals awoke to a four-year hangover this morning. Aspirin, sleep, water, a cold shower, jogging, coffee--nothing will make it go away. So, whose hangover is the worst? I've come up with a list of ten candidates inevitably suffering from cotton mouth, a spinning room, dry vomiting, and other ailments brought on by the president's reelection. Plaintively gasping "Make the pain go away" right now are: Janeane Garofalo, Michael Moore, George Soros, Jacques Chirac, Ted Rall, Bill Maher, Katie Couric, Lawrence O'Donnell, Ron Reagan, and Dan Rather.
Who's missing? I need your help compiling the ultimate liberals-who-are-in-a-lot-of-pain-right-now list. Tell me in the comments section who's really, really hurting because of Bush's reelection and, if you feel like it, explain why.
There were no hanging chads, undervotes, or mysterious ballot boxes popping up in unusual places. Week eight's NFL pool had a clear winner: reader Dennis. Gutsy underdog picks like the Panthers, Chiefs, and Ravens made Dennis the president of week eight's football pool. Congratulations from the other candidates are in order, and of course, so is the obligatory victory speech.
John Kerry reportedly called George W. Bush to concede defeat this morning. Although the actual candidate has come to grips with his loss, CNN and ABC haven't. They still won't call the election. Consider that in Wisconsin, where Kerry's vote total exceeds Bush's by about 13,000 ballots, the networks have declared Kerry the winner. But in smaller states like New Mexico and Iowa, where Bush leads by the same raw total as Kerry leads in the larger state of Wisconsin, the networks are reluctant to call it. Bush's lead in Ohio is roughly the same as the number of provisional ballots, but yet the winner of the state's electoral votes, according to several networks, is still an unanswered question. Give it up, already!
More so than even John Kerry, Dan Rather, Aaron Brown, Keith Olberman, and numerous other alleged newsmen longed for a Bush defeat. After Kerry phoned Bush to concede defeat, he should have called MSNBC's Ron Reagan, MTV's John Norris, Time's Margaret Carlson, and ABC's George Stephanopoulos to console them on their loss.
November 2 was a devastating defeat for liberals.
George W. Bush defeated John Kerry, taking a majority of the electoral college and the popular vote. Exit polls throughout the day suggested a Bush defeat, and even if they hadn't it's not hard to envision liberals interpreting them to mean that Bush would lose. The faulty exit polls, combined with the lingering bitterness from Florida, makes Tuesday an especially difficult defeat for many Democrats to take. One-hundred percent of the precinct votes have been counted in Ohio, and Bush leads the state by more than 125,000 votes. Even if there are 150,000 provisional ballots yet to be counted, those votes would have to go almost unanimously to Kerry for the Democrat to win. It's over. The fat lady has sung. The coda has been played.
In South Dakota, John Thune defeated Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle. This is the first time a Senate leader has been defeated since 1952, when Barry Goldwater defeated Ernest McFarland in Arizona on the coattails of Ike and through the campaigning of the then popular Senator Joseph McCarthy. In the Senate, Republicans may, when the smoke clears, control fifty-five Senate seats. In the House, they increased their numbers by five.
Around the country, initiatives banning gay marriage won in eleven out of the eleven states where they appeared on the ballot.
The Democrats have lost three straight national elections. In each case, their solution to their electoral woes has been to move further and further left, e.g., making San Francisco liberal Nancy Pelosi their House leader, nominating Ted Kennedy's understudy for president, championing gay marriage, etc. Time will tell whether Democrats attempt to cure their current political ailments by prescribing more of the poison that got them sick in the first place.
According exit polls, the number one issue cited by voters isn't the war on terrorism, Iraq, or the economy. It's moral values.
Slightly more than one in five voters chose moral values as the most important issue to them. These voters broke four to one for the president.
Eleven states featured ballot initiatives seeking bans on gay marriage. The results are in for ten of those ballot initiatives. Voters in Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, and Utah--all ten states--passed the initiatives banning gay marriage.
It's 1 a.m., and all indicators suggest that George W. Bush will be reelected. The Democrats' desire to be the party of atheists, homosexuals, and feminists has political consequences. It results in John Kerry being elected president of San Francisco, Cambridge, and Ann Arbor, and George W. Bush being elected president of the United States.
P. Diddy has got a lot of killing to do.
P. Diddy labeled his youth voter drive "extremely successful" on MSNBC in the early hours of Wednesday. The numbers tell a different story.
This was going to be the year. Young people were going to buck historic trends and vote in droves. They didn't. The AP headline says it all: "2004 not the breakout year for youth vote after all."
"Vote or Die," P. Diddy warned. "Choose or Lose," MTV told their viewers. Despite these threats, less than one in ten voters Tuesday were in the 18-24 age demographic--about the same percentage that voted in 2000's presidential election.
Four years from now, we'll hear it all again. The 2008 presidential election, celebrities, youth activists, and bad pundits will assure us, will be the year young people turnout in huge numbers. I'll believe it when I see it, and even then I'll have my doubts.
Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, a liberal with a fair chance experiencing defeat today, sued his opponent the day before election day, alleging voter intimidation. The suit challenged GOP poll watchers, with a judge ruling this morning that the GOP monitors couldn't take down license-plate numbers of voters or follow voters out of polling places in a predominantly Native American county. In other words, Republicans will now have a more difficult time identifying vote fraud if it occurs.
Why did Daschle file his suit? Primarily, it serves as a gimmick to manufacture anger among American Indians in South Dakota for the purpose of getting them to vote in greater numbers, which would benefit him. Another reason relates to what Matt Drudge is currently reporting. In areas where one party dominates, it's easier to cheat. That's why poll watchers are necessary. In Philadelphia, Drudge reports that nearly 2000 votes were already stuffed into ballot boxes at numerous locations throughout the city prior to the polls opening. Poll watchers discovered this.
In a sense allegations of intimidation against poll watchers are correct. Poll watchers do intimidate...frauds and cheats.
The O'Reilly Factor's online poll showed 92 percent of respondents believing George W. Bush will win reelection. John Hawkins of RightWingNews.com puts George W. Bush's reelection chances at seventy-five percent. I'm not convinced.
Today is election day. My prediction is that the election will be close. If someone were to put a gun to my head, I would predict that John Kerry will be elected the 44th President of the United States. The reasons leading me to this conclusion are passion, momentum, and history--three things John Kerry has going for him.
Passion "We are going to have an unprecedented turnout--the largest ever--and that is not good news for the GOP and President Bush," John Leboultillier writes in the most insightful analysis of the 2004 election I've read yet. Leboultillier points out that absentee ballot applications and early voting are at all-time highs, and that a considerably greater number of viewers tuned-in to the debates this year than four years ago. Voters content with the status quo don't flood polling places.
Momentum National polls are trending Kerry. The last twelve national polls featured on RealClearPolitics.com show Bush with an average lead of a little more than one point. The twelve previous polls gave Bush an average lead of about three points. However so slightly, the momentum has shifted to Kerry going into election day.
History Followers of elections know that undecided voters normally swing to the challenger in overwhelming numbers on election day. Followers of this election know that there aren't a whole lot of undecided voters. Still, Kerry benefits from this virtual certainty. Consider that in the last four elections featuring a sitting president, challengers gained an average of four points on election day from their election-eve polls while incumbents remained stagnant.
Should Bush eke out a victory, I will not be shocked. Should either candidate win in a landslide, I will be. Polls and pundits don't determine elections. Voters do. To quote Mills Lane, "Let's get it on."
As I ponder my options in Tuesday's presidential election, I feel a bit like Stan from South Park. Have you seen the latest episode of the Comedy Central cartoon? It's brilliant. Vulgar, but brilliant.
In this week's episode, animal-rights activists invade South Park Elementary, demanding that the school drop the "Cows" nickname because it's offensive to animals. The school accedes and holds an election to determine a replacement mascot.
Angered by this, Kyle suggests the students write-in "Giant Douche" to protest the change from "Cows." Cartman, trying to one-up Kyle, nominates "Turd Sandwich" instead. A campaign ensues, with anthropomorphic versions of the two candidates appearing at a rally and later debating each other.
Stan reasons that it's not worth voting if it's a choice between a "Giant Douche" and a "Turd Sandwich." Naturally, P. Diddy, who has spearheaded the "Vote or Die" campaign, attempts to kill Stan. Stan gets expelled from school, disowned by his family, and banished by the townspeople--all for questioning whether it's worth casting a ballot when neither candidate deserves his vote. In the end, Stan realizes that elections often feature choices of "bad" and "worse," so he decides to vote.
One day before Election 2004, I'm feeling like Stan Marsh. I know I'm not the only one.
While I'm on the subject of reviewers: have you read any of the reviews of Intellectual Morons on Amazon? Most of the reviews--favorable and unfavorable--show no signs that the reviewer actually read the book. Some posting on Amazon even concede this. One reviewer writes: "I have not read the book but I did watch Flynn's presentation of it at Colby, as broadcast this morning (Sunday, 31Oct2004) on C-SPAN 2, so I think I have a pretty good idea of what is in it." Another admits: "I sent this book back after reading the chapter on Leo Strauss." When did it become acceptable to review books that you haven't read?
Dr. Michael New reviews Intellectual Morons in Sunday's New York Post, offering a generally favorable take on the book. More negative is Paul Cella's review appearing on The American Spectator's website.
It's predictable, I guess, that these and other conservative reviewers, almost to a man, would complain about the book's criticism of Leo Strauss, an intellectual admired by many conservatives. What's interesting is that all of the conservative reviewers bothered by the inclusion of the Strauss chapter don't show any evidence in their reviews of having read anything by Strauss, particularly Persecution and the Art of Writing, the text my chapter on Strauss focuses on. In that book, Strauss imagines the history of philosophy as one giant conspiracy theory. Philosophers such as Plato, Machiavelli, and Locke offer surface messages to the masses, Strauss contends, but encode secret messages to other philosophers. Strauss "cracks" this code through projecting special meaning upon the first and last words used in books and book chapters, counting up the number of paragraphs contained in a chapter, or finding implied contradictions in a text.
This is, of course, just a dressed-up version of what would later be called deconstructionism. Why conservatives, who attack similar crackpot methods when employed by leftists, would applaud those on the Right who use such means, is not so mysterious. Strauss, they believe, serves conservative ends--just as many leftists believe Derrida serves leftist ends. Why criticize one of our guys? Well, that's the point of the book: ideology--Left or Right--blinds intellectuals to reality. No one seems to explicitly criticize this thesis. It's only when the thesis is applied to intellectuals with political outlooks similar to the reviewer that the reviewer objects.