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Monday, November 22, 2004


Random Thoughts

The old joke used to be that you went to the fights and a hockey game broke out. Now it could be baseball, football, and, of course, pro basketball. What can you say about Friday night's fisticuffs that hasn't already been said? Sure pro players are spoiled from high school, trained to believe they are above the rules and the law, that they will be excused for any behavior because of their importance to their teams. Sure fans do not belong in the action or on the court, and should not be throwing, spilling or otherwise projecting things at the players. Sure pro athletes are grossly overpaid and under supervised. The suspensions handed out today by Commissioner Stern are absolutely appropriate and warranted. You have to hit players in the pocket when they act so barbarously. Saddest of all are the comments by teammates and player union officials that the punishments are too harsh. They just don't see it, I guess.

The Pistons' skirts aren't clean either. They play an extremely physical, aggressive, intimidating game and react obnoxiously when opponents retaliate in kind. That leads to intensity of the kind that can get out of control. It used to happen to Pat Riley's Knick teams too, though not to the same extent. Unfortunately, today's players, while great athletes, lack the shooting skills of players of years ago, so defensive intimidation has become the key to winning. This does not bode well for the game.
The news from McDonalds tonight is very sad. Following the sudden death of its CEO earlier this year, new CEO Charlie Bell was recently diagnosed with colorectal cancer, and now has had to resign because of that illness. One has to infer that his prognosis is guarded. Say what you will about the obesity causing products McDonalds offers, the Company has executed an impressive turnaround, and it is awfully bad luck to have two young CEO's go down this year.
Through pure luck, I happened to buy a few shares of Sirius earlier this year, despite its failing all my value criteria, but with Howard Stern and Mel Karmazin signing on, it's a story stock, seemingly headed higher. Satellite radio is likely to do to broadcast what cable did to broadcast TV. Karmazin, seems to think so. He made a pretty sizable insider purchase this week.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------News item - Iran halts uranium enrichment efforts. Before the Europeans celebrate the success of their latest agreement, it should be pointed out that eventually Iran violated the agreement this one replaces. The whole charade is to avoid UN sanctions, which the US was pressing for. Here we go again. If you think back to the run - up to the Iraq war, US pressure (in the form of a military build up and demand for compliance with UN resolutions) led suddenly to Iraq's allowing the inspectors back in. But it is clear that Iraq intended to restart its weapons program as soon as the US withdrew and the inspectors left. Iraq miscalculated, since their strategy made war inevitable - the US couldn't keep its mobilization status indefinitely.

Will Iran also miscalculate? They have played the appeasing Europeans like a drum. Hopefully, they won't underestimate our resolve the way the Iraqi's did.
News item - World Bank Finds Palestinians Live in Poverty! You have to get up early to slip one by these guys! I wonder what tipped them off. It's not exactly a coincidence that so many of the poorest peoples in the world are led by the wealthiest thieves. And somehow Arafat got to pass all those billions to his drone widow! What a patriot he was!

Sunday, November 07, 2004


Some Post Election Observations

According to the WSJ, John Kerry went to bed "around 2 AM not knowing for sure who had won the election..." If that were true, it would be simply amazing, but I think the reality was that Kerry had figured out that Ohio was lost by that time and with it the election. So why no concession? Democrat lawyers were in charge of that decision at that point and there was not yet a determination that Ohio was beyond a recount/appeal.

Given that, the appearance by Edwards around 2-2;30 was simply inexplicable. He gave a pep talk a la Howard Dean that bordered on the surreal, at a time when the occasion called for some realism. That moment likely signaled the end of his career in national politics, regardless of his ambitions for 2008. The only thing that goes south faster than a former vice president is a failed VP candidate.

Another brilliant comment quoted in the Journal was from a Kerry staffer who said "We felt pretty good until the actual votes were counted." She wasn't the only one misled by the faulty exit polls which somehow forgot about the 20% of the country who voted early. The assumption for some reason was that these were mainly Kerry voters, when likely the opposite was the case. In fact, Bush campaign workers were advised to vote early so that they could devote full attention to their work on election day.

The left's ability to delude itself continues to be one of the compelling stories of national politics. This is true of the certainty of their positions, the belief that all right thinking people must agree with them, and their unwillingness to accept their minority position (and getting worse).

Another interesting sidelight story is the media bias, both explicit (Fox) and non-admitted (everyone else). I did a lot of bouncing around between 7 PM and 2:30 AM though I was clearly most comfortable at FOX, with Britt Hume, Mort Kondracke, Fred Barnes, and Michael Barone. Hume had a great line ("that state hasn't gone Republican since the earth cooled!") and Barone's analysis, whether biased or not, was uncannily accurate all night. Best of all, the raw vote numbers by state in all the races kept streaming across the bottom of the screen all night. This is much better than mere projected percentages, which is what you usually get from the networks, and enabled the viewers to follow the ebb and flow in key states like New Hampshire, Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, New Mexico, and Wisconsin.

What I like about Fox, is that the "fair and balanced" slogan is delivered with a wink. We all know that their approach is to balance the leftist slant of the rest of the major media. They are like hometown basball announcers, whose words are impartial but whose tone makes it clear where their rooting interest lies. I find this to be much more honest than the networks that claim impartiality but whose slant is so relentless. This is not recognized by the left, whose perspective is hopelessly compromised.

With all the negative attention given to Dan Rather and CBS, the worst offender is CNN, which is all but becoming the anti - Fox. Somehow, Wednesday morning, I happened to dial though CNN and was amazed to see they still hadn't projected Ohio for Bush! Not ony that, they were running a caption at the top of the screen that said "Too close to call." Is it any wonder that CNN viewers would be shocked by the sudden ending late Wednesday morning.

I thought ABC and NBC did pretty decent jobs. Particularly ABC, which has George Stephanopoulos and George Will, and you always know where they're coming from, so that was OK.

By the way, Kerry showed more class Wednesday morning than he had in months, cutting the lawyers off at the pass with his timely concession. At least he still has a job. Edwards is out a seat, with Daschle and the rest. In fact, the Dems would have done much better with New Mexico governor Richardson on the ticket than Edwards,
who contributed nothing. At least Richardson might have tipped the balance in New Mexico, Arizona, and Colorado. But that's 20-20 hindsight.

So, it was a fun election in the end, despite the agony of getting there. It was a good reminder that US politics can be fun, when everything is back in perspective, and people are civil and can live with the result either way. When things are that way, we are reminded that ours is the greatest system in the world.

The night also was a reminder of how much things have changed in the last 40 years or so. Thinking back to Ted White's classic, The Making of the President, 1960, at that time Connecticut was noted for machine voting and fast reporting of returns (but it took forever for Connecticut to wrap up Tuesday night), New Jersey was the bellweather (now reliably Democrat; Ohio is the current bellweather), and the south was solid (it still is, but now Republican).

All that led me to thinking about my favorite movies about politics. You have to start with the classic, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. Next I would say is Seven Days in May, with the five great performances (Kirk Dougalas, Bert Lancaster, Frederick March, Martin Balsam, and especially Edmund O'Brien). Third, I would say is Advise and Consent, despite the dated, embarassing treatment of homosexuality. Again, great performances from Charles Laughton and Walter Pigeon and a surprisingly competent (for once) Peter Lawford save the day. Next on my list would be Dave, the more recent political satire and All the President's Men. Movies I don't especially like include The Candidate and, Sunrise at Campobello (painful caricature of FDR by Ralph Bellamy). I have to admit that I didn't see the Nixon bio, but even the reviews were painful.

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