Friday, August 27, 2004

I met George Bush at an ASU “Students/Young Professionals for Bush” rally last night. I should probably clarify that a bit: I met George P. Bush last night, son of the Florida Governor, nephew of the President, and (according to some in the media) the Bush family’s version of JFK Jr. He gave a short speech touting the President’s record and urging the faithful to get out the vote in November. Pretty standard stuff, but still very much appreciated.

Chatted with him for a few minutes as he worked his way through the crowd afterwards. Asked him where he went for his recent honeymoon and told him the wife and I were about to embark on ours. He went to Bora Bora, though he wouldn’t recommend it. He said the exchange rate was lousy, and that the experience was a lot like that Expedia commercial where the honeymooners wake up in the middle of night to find the mosquito net surrounding their bed covered with gigantic alien-looking bugs. If he had to do it over again, he would have just gone to Hawaii, and recommended we do the same.

Anyway, the wife and I found him to be quite personable and engaging. He’s got the one-on-one glad-handling skills down cold, but he could use some polish on the stump speech delivery (quick thought: do the last couple of sentences describe every member of the Bush family, or what?). Nonetheless, he’ll certainly be an asset on the campaign trail.

Monday, August 23, 2004

What impact is the Swift Boat ad controversy having on the veteran vote? I can’t say for certain, as I have no empirical stats in front of me to justify a position one way or the other. However, I did come across an admittedly small anecdotal sample this morning by way of a co-worker who happens to be a Vietnam vet.

A casual political observer, certainly not reflexively Republican by any means, Ed struck up a conversation with me about “this whole Kerry Purple Heart thing”. Up until this weekend, he hadn’t heard much about the Swifties’ charges against Botox. Now that the issue is in full bloom across the major media outlets, Ed is able to glean a few facts about Botox’s truncated tour in Vietnam. Two things stand out as particularly disturbing/distasteful to him: the purported superficiality of Botox’s wounds that led to the Purple Heart citations, and consequently, the exercise of the “3 Purple Hearts and you’re out” rule to cut Botox’s service in ‘Nam to just 4½ months.

I asked Ed what he thought about the 1971 Congressional testimony in which he and his fellow servicemen were accused by Botox of being war criminals. “Oh yeah, that, too!” Ed said, shaking his head in disdain. He then told me some frightening stories of being shot at while on patrol, of nearly dying in a bombing raid, and of the utter relief he felt as he flew home after serving a year in the jungles of Vietnam.

The media’s Pro-Botox editorializing aside, the facts of the situation are what veterans across the country are focusing on today. Just ask Bob Dole. Believe what you will about whether or not the Swift Boat Vets are just a well-financed gaggle of Republican smear-mongers; Botox’s murky service in Vietnam and his slanderous conduct as an anti-war agitator will be major sticking points for many veterans, particularly those who’ve experienced combat overseas.

Friday, August 20, 2004

Let me get this straight; the same people who have accused me of being a hypocrite for lambasting Fahrenheit 9/11 without seeing it are now saying the new book Unfit for Command by the Swift Boat Vets is a slanderous anti-Botox tirade that’s unworthy of publication, let alone perusal.

Does someone need a working definition for irony? I think I just found one.

Another stunning Botox flip-flop, this time regarding the President’s troop redeployment plans, which were in the works since shortly after he took office in 2001.

Here’s Botox before the VFW convention, as recounted by the Cincinnati Enquirer…
"Let's be clear: The president's vaguely stated plan does not strengthen our hand in the war against terror," Kerry told the VFW. "And this hastily announced plan raises more doubts about our intentions and our commitments than it provides real answers…Why are we unilaterally withdrawing 12,000 troops from the Korean Peninsula at the very time we are negotiating with North Korea - a country that really has nuclear weapons? This is clearly the wrong signal to send at the wrong time."
…and here’s a snippet from the LA Times on Botox’s comments to George Stephanopoulos, and at a news conference…
In an Aug. 1 interview with ABC's George Stephanopoulos, Kerry said he believed his brand of diplomacy would allow the United States to "significantly change the deployment of troops, not just [in Iraq] but elsewhere in the world. In the Korean peninsula perhaps, in Europe perhaps."

At an April 14 news conference in New York, he was more explicit.

"The overall effort of a president right now ought to be really to try to find ways to reduce the overexposure, in a sense, of America's commitments," Kerry said then. "A proper approach to the Korean peninsula, for instance, should include the deployment of troops, the unresolved issues of the 1950s and ultimately, hopefully, could result in the reduction of American presence, ultimately."
*sigh*…Just keep on talking, Botox.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Gerry Dales, purveyor of the Electoral College Breakdown ’04 site, posted an enlightening article for all those of you who are reading the polls and thinking Botox has this horse race locked up (that means you, lefty in-laws).

The first convention ended. The second, approaching. Individual state polls agreed that the challenger was in a commanding position. Key battleground states such as Oregon, Missouri, Pennsylvania, New Mexico, Florida, New Hampshire, and Iowa were all polling very well for him. To a lesser degree, so were West Virginia, Maine, and Arkansas. Washington was in his ledger. So was Michigan, and Ohio, and Minnesota.

An extremely dire set of circumstances, indeed. By the ECB scorecard, the challenger had over 300 electoral votes heading his way. His opponent, despite having administration powers to assist his campaign, only had about 150 electoral votes in his ledger.

The date was August 18th, 2000. As it happened, Al Gore made a race of it anyways.

In a nutshell, his conclusion, based on an in-depth review of the post-Democratic Convention state polls, is that the race is far from over. Reading further into the analysis, one can also make the case that Botox may have already peaked. Check out the whole article for yourself.

Monday, August 16, 2004

As any good card-carrying liberal knows, gun control is a panacea to violent crime. Or is it? This just in from Boston:

Police say they are seeing a surge in the number of gang-related attacks involving machetes, the huge knives that are a ubiquitous tool in rural Latin America, with blades as thick as an axe and nearly as long as a sword.

The troubling trend has led some departments to crack down on machetes, and not just in urban areas. Some suburban communities have also enacted new laws to ban the knives.

Somewhere, Rosie O’Donnell is planning a comeback. I smell another Million Mom March for Machete Control any day now.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

The President was in town yesterday for a campaign rally at the Coliseum. The wife and I signed up for event volunteer duty, so we got to see Bush up close for the first time. If you’ve never been to a Presidential rally, I recommend you stop by the next time one rolls into town. It was like being was in the middle of mosh pit surrounded by 15,000 hooting partisans. What a show!

Prior to snagging prime standing room on the floor close to the stage (picture us casually flashing of our Bush/Cheney ’04 All-Access Volunteer passes. Oooh…), the wife and I manned the entrance to Section 215, the VIP area reserved for elected officials, party honchos, veterans, and such. Despite a large sign above our heads which clearly read “Red Tickets”, we quickly found ourselves inundated by all sorts of illiterates brandishing yellow tickets. For 2 hours, I found myself doing my best Bill Murray impression from Groundhog Day:

“Can I sit there?”

“No, ma’am. This section is reserved for people with red tickets.”

“But I have yellow tickets.”

“Yes, ma’am. Yes, you do.”

I did, however, allow for two glaring exceptions to the Red Ticket Only policy. A couple of gentleman with yellow tickets ignored my spiel and discretely showed me snazzy plastic cards. I didn’t make out exactly what they were, but I did see the phrases “Republican National Committee” and “Life Member” imprinted boldly on them. Not wanting to piss off people who obviously made sizable donations to the party, I let them through. If there’s a state legislator out there who found himself without a VIP seat yesterday, I apologize, but I’m willing to bet you would have done the same.

Ticket vetting monotony aside, we did get some excitement in Section 215. One elderly woman passed out from heat stroke after waiting in line for a couple of hours in the 112°F heat. The EMTs set up shop a few feet from us to administer oxygen and fluids to her. A few minutes later, two Coliseum custodial employees got into some sort of an altercation in the bathroom adjoining our section. This was probably not the best day for a toilet stall brawl, as the jostling janitors were swarmed by an assortment of police and Secret Service agents before any punches were thrown.

Later, from my vantage point on the arena floor, the event seemed to have gone quite smoothly. The volunteers were instructed to be on the lookout for Anti-Bush rabble-rousers who might sneak in to stir up trouble. True to form, the Botox boosters did show up; we saw two commies removed from Section 216 after holding up Bush bashing signs, but that was it.

As for the news coverage of the event, I found it balanced for the most part, with a couple of notable exceptions, however. On the ABC 15 evening newscast, a Botox staffer was whining because she was denied entrance to the event due to her political affiliations. Boo-friggin’-hoo. She claimed some sort of constitutional privilege of hers was violated, and that the Democrats don’t screen Republicans from their rallies. Yeah, right.

Fox 10, of all stations, tried to portray the event as a gathering of Bible-thumping zealots. The reporter on the scene said the event resembled a “religious revival”. His commentary was followed by a quick shot of a sign reading “God Bless the President”, and a snippet of Bush’s stump speech where he says, “Freedom is not America's gift to the world. Freedom is the Almighty God's gift to each man and woman in this world.”

Religious revival, my ass. Do a search of the stump speech for the word “God” and tell me how many hits you get? If your answer is 2, you’re correct. How many religious sermons have you heard that mention God only twice in an hour? Remind me to send Fox 10 a terse letter on the insidious nature of liberal bias in the nation’s newsrooms.

Anyway, I was suitably impressed with the event, and look forward to pitching in for the next one. Then again, maybe I shouldn’t be so anxious for another rally. I’d hate to see the campaign waste valuable resources on Arizona if it’s not truly a swing state.

Sunday, August 08, 2004

To hear the Democrats on the stump, you’d think we slipped into a full-scale depression on Friday morning. Why? Because that’s when the government released its second straight lukewarm jobs report of the summer: 32,000 new jobs in July, and a downward revision to 61,000 in June. On the surface these figures do seem disconcerting, however, there were some bright spots to blunt the dire headlines. The Labor Department’s Household Employment Survey showed a gain of 629,000 in July, leading to a lowering of the unemployment rate to 5.5%.

What to make of the conflicting reports? Either the official jobs report is low because it does not reflect a growing number of self-employed individuals and contractors, or the household survey is inflated due to a narrow sample size, which is not reflective of the true weakness on the jobs front as a whole. If you may recall, the former situation arose back in January and February, wherein the official reports showed tepid employment growth in the economy and the household surveys belied them. I suspect that a similar scenario is occurring now; only the next few reports will tell for certain.

Let’s keep all this in perspective, shall we? Forecasted growth for the 2nd half of 2004 is still very strong, crucial manufacturing activity is up across the board, consumer confidence surveys are all higher than expectations, and over 1.5 million new jobs have been created in last 11 months. Things are still humming along nicely.

Wake me up when some “real” evidence of economic contraction comes down the pike.