Friday, October 29, 2004

--100 Days to Wreck America--

DISCLAIMER: Due to the severity of this argument, I am providing links to any person or group that I used to compile my case. Unless cited during the post, they will be after the last paragraph. Check the facts, and if I'm wrong, prove it.
I've tried not to jump to conclusions in this election, but when I found this information, I was dumbfounded. This is from John Kerry's "100 Days to Change America."

MANDATORY SERVICE FOR HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS
Service Should Be a Graduation Requirement: John Kerry believes that knowledge of the rights and responsibilities of citizenship - including the duty to serve your community - are as important to American adults as knowing how to read and do math. Combined with a curriculum that teaches students about democracy, citizenship and civic participation, this high school service requirement will be a rite of passage for every young person in the country. As President, John Kerry will ensure that every high school student in America does community service as a requirement for graduation.


Strangely enough, this 'wonderful' bit of policy is no longer on John Kerry's website. Luckily, you can find the archived page by Googling www.johnkerry.com/issues/100days/. (Copy and paste the link, or you'll get a 404.) To heighten the craziness, try this article before continuing: http://comdsd.org/article_archive/JustasUrgent.htm

Although COMDSD is obviously going to spin some facts for their own cause, they make some good points. The part that concerns me a bit is their belief that Kerry will eventually "make all federal student aid contingent on doing either civilian or military service." The group, which is definitely NOT a pro-Bush organization, argues that this will lead to a new draft. Impossible? Not quite.

Kerry has said he "might use a draft if there was a massive attack on the U.S. resulting in a bipartisan-supported war" (Denver Rocky Mountain News), which he said after pledging to never reinstate the draft at a speaking engagement in Palm Beach, FL on Sept. 22. But consider this as well: He's planning to increase the size of the Army by at least 40,000 troops, probably more. Problem: How do you make such a substantial increase without a draft? Put guns to the heads of the 18-26 demographic and say, "Join the Army or else"?!? No...instead, you warm them to it by requiring national service in high school. Blogger Lancelot Finn had a good analogy on the subject:

Imagine. In May of your graduating year, the recruiters come to your high school, some from the military, some from the national service board. "So where would you like to do your service? Go to the military and you'll learn some valuable skills. You can be a hero. Or you can work on the highway. Which will it be?"

If this sounds like an alarmist argument, it's only because I'm alarmed. When you force people into anything, they're never as effective as volunteers. Think about it: If you want someone to bag your groceries, do you pick the guy who's standing there waiting to help out, or do you pick the guy who's willing to move to Canada if you so much as look at him? Therein lies the problem with mandatory service, both community and military.

And while Kerry doesn't seem to be going anywhere near the COMDSD belief on financial aid, he is offering college tuition in exchange for service. Not much difference, if you think about it.

The question then becomes, "Could Kerry ever pass a draft?" Well, probably not in the traditional sense. If Congress were to ever vote for a draft, everyone who cast a "Yea" would be committing political suicide. After all, what voter would re-elect those people? Instead, you'd have to make more incentives for joining the military. Enter scholarships and community service. Many lower-income students wouldn't be able to resist money for college, and the Army always sounds better when your alternative is something like cleaning up trash and litter on back roads in your hometown for months.

I agree with more incentives for community service, because let's face it: Very few teenagers like being forced to do anything. I resented having to get "Work-Based Learning Points" during high school to graduate. They were part of a policy enacted during the Clinton administration that required community service and/or extracurricular activities to graduate. Trust me, no matter how many clubs you were in, you still ended up having to do some service unless you played sports or were in JROTC. If I honestly felt rewarded with more than graduation, I might have wanted to do more service. That's the big problem here: You simply can't force teens to do much of anything and get good results.

This ties right back in to the current draft scare. President Bush has said, "We're not going to have a draft. Period." That hasn't stopped liberal 527 group MoveOn.org from taking out a half-page ad in Thursday's edition of WVU campus newspaper The Daily Athenaeum warning of a Bush draft if he remains President. I would have laughed when I saw it, but it was too sad to be funny. (If I could link it, I would, but the DA doesn't post ads online, and I don't have a scanner to run the ad through.) As I noted above, Kerry has also stated that he wouldn't reinstate a draft. He's being truthful. If his first 100 days were to go his way, a draft would be a formality.

More sources:
http://www.joshclaybourn.com/blog/archives/002603.html
http://lancelotfinn.blogspot.com/2004/10/kerry-flip-flops-on-draft.html
http://www.insidedenver.com/drmn/news_columnists/article/0,1299,DRMN_86_3240838,00.html

Sunday, October 24, 2004

The Little October Surprise that Couldn't

Over the weekend, the blogosphere was buzzing about a big scoop that could ruin the John Kerry campaign. It was going to be front-page news in a major newspaper. Well, um...I've got advance word on the story, and I doubt it's going to hurt Kerry. Here's why:

1. The "major newspaper" is the Washington Times. I'm sorry, but when the owner of your newspaper literally thinks he's God, it's hard for me to respect anything you print. It's even harder for the MSM to take your story and run with it.

2. It's all about how Kerry apparently didn't really talk to certain ambassadors before he voted on the Iraq war. In other words, it's about how Kerry lied about certain events. Problem: Republicans (the main readers of the WT) know about this kind of thing already, Democrats probably won't care, and independents will never hear this story unless the Wall Street Journal or Fox picks up on it.

Simply put, I don't see how this is going to be a big blow to the Kerry camp. Maybe there's more to it than I'm seeing, but there's too many ways for them to spin it. The story just got posted online, and you can find it here:
http://www.washtimes.com/national/20041024-110609-9428r.htm

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Blowing the Lid Off the NSVG

Ladies and gentlemen, it's official: I just found the most partisan flyer ever to masquerade as unbiased. It's called the National Student Voter Guide, and I'm sure you can pick up a free copy at colleges across the nation. The things are practically flooding the streets at West Virginia University.

Why is this so biased, you ask? Well, for one, it has information in it that's just not true. Pages 2 - 3 contain a breakdown of Bush and Kerry's views on everything from homeland security to health care. At first, it looks reasonable enough. But as you read down page 2, the descriptions of Bush's stances sound increasingly accusational. By the time you reach the bottom of the "Social Issues" section, the guide shows where each of them stand when it comes to the Supreme Court by declaring, "[Bush] has cited Clarence Thomas, Antonin Scalia as model Justices." This obviously isn't a stance; heck, it sounds like that must be a bad thing. Oh wait...Thomas and Scalia are both Republicans. Real falsehood doesn't show up until the army size section under "Defense," where Bush supposedly "supports the draft being implemented if deemed necessary, this time including women and college students."

Wait just a minute! Didn't Bush say just recently, "We're not going to have a draft"? Hasn't the NSVG already seen how the blogosphere reamed CBS when they used a draft scare on CBS Evening News? Or does the NSVG believe every chain e-mail that goes through the inbox? Considering this paper's only been out for around two weeks, there's no way I believe that the whole thing isn't more college-centric propaganda. Ironically, you can't find the part about the draft on www.nsvg.org; apparently, somebody wised up and took that part out of the breakdown. The draft scare still lives on under the "Get Informed" section of the website.

But the thing that really bugs me is the obvious editorial slant throughout the "paper." None of the editorials are pro-Bush; in fact, most of them openly attack him and his policies. Bizarrely, the header of the flyer has an excerpt from the First Amendment, as if freedom of speech makes sacrificing non-partisan integrity okay. The real clincher is the Editor's Note under the Table of Contents:
In an effort to represent many different views, opinions and hold up the fundamental rights of the first amendment, the NSVG includes many editorials and opinion pieces. The inclusion of these pieces are meant to generate debate and conversation, and are not necessarily the opionions (sic) nor endorsed by the National Student Voter Guide.
Riiiiiight. And I'm the Easter Bunny. When all of the articles your website links to feature liberal viewpoints, and all of your affiliates are anti-Bush in some form, then chances are good you are a liberal organization. That wouldn't bother me so much except for one tiny little detail: You want me to think you're unbiased. Just check out the "Get Involved" portion of the website, where the group seems to assume you want to help the Campus Democrats. I wonder why that could be?
If you want to show them the mistake they're making by giving unknowing college kids this single-opinion garbage, send an e-mail to web@nsvg.org. I'm sure they'll listen to whatever you have to say. After all, it's your First Amendment right.
UPDATE: Blogger Lancelot Finn was kind enough to link to this post. His website is here:
www.lancelotfinn.com (The link is in the Blog section)

Saturday, October 16, 2004

The Line No Man Should Cross

I figured that Wednesday's debates would be good. Bush didn't just think with a red tie, he wore a red tie, and he was correspondingly aggressive in the first half-hour. Moderator Bob Scheiffer's questions were balanced overall, but the ones that favored Democratic responses came during the middle of the debate. Kerry managed to regain some footing after Bush's assault thanks to these questions, and the momentum shift was pronounced. Bush was strong again toward the end, so this debate would have been like a song: for the most part, the first note and the last note are the ones you remember. Unfortunately for Kerry, there's only one part of this debate that's unforgettable: his thinly-veiled attack on Dick Cheney's lesbian daughter Mary. If not for that one moment, the whole thing would have been a draw. I can't say that Bush won, but I can say that Kerry beat himself.

See, there's one political sacred cow that is always constant: Never, ever attack the kids. Up until now, Bush and Kerry have upheld that rule; however, by mentioning Mary Cheney in such a bizarre manner, Kerry broke it to pieces. As you've probably seen, I tend to think more even-handedly than most bloggers. I've also had friends of mine who were gay. So when I first heard the statement, I didn't think much of it until I realized how condescending Kerry's tone of voice sounded. I brushed that much off, but when I found out later that campaign manager Mary Beth Cahill had described Mary Cheney as "fair game," I was incensed. (The statement apparently came in post-debate analysis on Fox, which the cable service in my dorm doesn't carry.) But wait, it gets worse....

The next day, Lynne Cheney railed against Kerry for what she knew was an attack on her daughter. Elizabeth Edwards had the nerve to say later that day how Lynne Cheney seemed to have "a certain degree of shame" that Mary was gay. Dick Cheney later attacked Kerry both as an incumbent Veep and as a father. As you can imagine, Kerry later tried to explain away his comments, but you can't undo all the damage when two other people on your side are in on this kind of attack. An ABC News poll came in showing that a large majority of voters thought Kerry's comment was inappropriate, including 51% of Democrats and 64% of independents. That alone ought to tell you something.

The DA ran a letter to the editor yesterday that said Dick Cheney should never have involved her in the campaign in the first place, saying it's exploitation and warrants an attack. If that were the case, the Dems would have attacked the Bush twins' partying ways; after all, they've been campaigning for their dad. Why haven't they been attacked? Because you never, ever attack the kids. That, and attacking them would be too obvious. By attacking Mary Cheney, the statement sounds reasonable to other Democrats and, in the mind of the Kerry campaign, distances the Bush ticket from anti-gay voters. Sorry, Kerry; the only thing exploiting her did for you was distance your ticket from America's parents. I was starting to gain respect for you, but since this attack, it's all gone.

A side note: I doubt the DA agreed with 'using' Mary Cheney. The title they assigned to the letter to the editor was simple and direct: "Cheney Daughter Comment Fair Game." Partially a snipe at the Cahill quote, and partially a call for discussion of the issue. Bravo, DA.

Another note: Did anyone else think Kerry's remarks Wednesday night on welfare and minimum wage sounded condescending? He seemed to imply that minorities and women are always earning minimum wage and need welfare. It may be a normal talking point, but the way he said it seemed really elitist to me.

If you want to see the reaction poll, go here:
http://www.abcnews.go.com/Politics/Vote2004/story?id=169306&page=3

Thursday, October 14, 2004

My Opinion on O'Reilly

I have to admit that imagining Bill O'Reilly talking dirty to his ex-producer put me in near hysterics. After all, this is the same guy who's offended by gangsta rap, right? Isn't this the guy who read a "fanmail" from a guy named Jack Mehoffer on the air without getting the joke? (The link to that clip is here, by the way: http://www.ebaumsworld.com/billoreilly.html)

And then I started thinking, what if it is true?

Think about it: He's arguably the most powerful man in television. This is the same man who urged his viewers to boycott Universal Records, home to rapper Jadakiss, because of the anti-Bush Jadakiss single "Why." His supporters sold their Universal stocks in protest, but the song became a hit from all the publicity. O'Reilly also got Pepsi to drop Ludacris from their ad campaigns. Come to think of it, he does seem to be very controlling; he has said, roughly, that bloggers scare him because they have no checks and balances in their reporting. Basically, he seems to fit the bill for the kind of guy who would do this. Plus, some of the excerpts from the harassment suit sound like they were taped.

On the other hand, it could all be a huge conspiracy. When I say that, I don't mean that plaintiff Andrea Mackris is the policeman on the grassy knoll; all I mean is it could be industrial and/or political sabotage. Mackris left Fox for competitor CNN and only returned when Fox matched her $93K salary. At no point did she file an in-house complaint at Fox, which claims it goes over its sexual harassment policies with all employees. The law firm representing her has made large contributions to several Democratic campaigns, including those of John Kerry, John Edwards, and Tom Daschle, which could give them motivation to drag O'Reilly's name through the mud. They tried to get Fox to give them $60 million in hush money, which is wrong regardless of why. That, and I can't even imagine some of what O'Reilly "said" being real. It doesn't even sound like him talking.

Just for the record, I don't care if O'Reilly shows me his voter registration marked "Independent," he's still a conservative. Honestly, I think I'm less conservative than Bill O'Reilly. At the same time, if he were a liberal and he was getting attacked like this, I'd still be concerned for him. This is a married man with a family, and I'd like to think that Mackris and her lawyers aren't suing him for money and political gain. Extortion is obviously worse than sexual harassment, but even if the suit doesn't stick, his personal life could be ruined. If it's true, I pity him, because it could destroy his career; if it's fiction, Andrea Mackris will wish the whole thing had never happened.

I bet you any money this crap shows up in my Rolling Stone next week.

I Report, You Decide

In case you haven't heard, Fox News anchorman Bill O'Reilly is the subject of a sexual harassment lawsuit. He claims it's purely extortion, and Fox and O'Reilly filed a suit of their own claiming that the woman and her lawyers wanted $60 million in hush money. Since I wasn't on the phone when their "sexually inappropriate" conversations took place (assuming they even happened), the most I can do is post a direct link to the extortion suit and to the sexual harassment suit.

WARNING: The sexual harassment lawsuit includes graphic details of things O'Reilly supposedly said and did. The suit isn't Starr Report-explicit, but it's definitely cheap phone sex-explicit. If you have children in the room OR if you are a child yourself, I strongly discourage clicking the link to this lawsuit. The extortion suit is mostly legalese and much 'safer'.

The extortion lawsuit:
http://www.drudgereportarchives.com/data/2004/10/13/20041013_182206_fox.htm

The sexual harassment lawsuit: http://www.thesmokinggun.com/archive/1013043mackris1.html

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Spread the Word (A Shameless Plug)

The page views are starting to go up. If you like what you see here, tell your friends, contacts, pets...basically, anyone who would want to read this blog. Word of mouth is by far the best marketing.

I was also quite proud to receive my first comment. It was exactly the kind of comment I love; the person who wrote it didn't agree with everything I said, but it wasn't a flame post. In other words, it was a smart comment. Thanks to NWJR for posting, and as a courtesy, I'll post a link to your blog: http://notwealthy.blogspot.com/. It's a liberal, well-written, and frequently hilarious blog that makes for a good browsing.

Your (Other) New Favorite Site

Trust me, this is eye-opening no matter your politics. Nonpartisan and completely indispensible. www.factcheck.org

(Note: This cuts the falsehoods out of each recent Presidential debate, and it also could have prevented CBS from having "Memogate." No, seriously.)

I Am a Moron

Normally, I try to be objective, but it's time for a few of my political opinions. I found this picture to be more than a little ridiculous.



So I'm a moron simply because I'm voting for Bush? My deciding that he shares more of my views than Kerry makes me an idiot?
Amazing. I guess I must be drooling on myself right now.
Let's break down some stuff about me, MasterCard-style:

Getting a 3.8 GPA and 34 composite ACT score in high school=$20,000+ in college schloarships
Amount I'm paying for college tuition=$0
Cost to run my blog=$0
Finding out I'm a modern Forrest Gump?=Priceless

There are some things money can't buy. For everything else, there's my B.S. Detector.

This image came from Tennessee Democrats by way of the Drudge Report. Way to be subtle, guys.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Why Tomorrow's Debate is Crucial

At this point, a lot of people are getting tired of all the campaigning. We've got 3 weeks until the election, so both sides are naturally making one last push. Just think...after November 2, we won't have Dave Matthews and the Beastie Boys telling us who to vote for. Maybe then, Rolling Stone can start covering music again. Anyway...

In my opinion, the last debate will decide the election. Bush did a much better job in the second debate, and the polls are starting to return to where they were before Debate #1. For that reason, here are three observations I'm making about how the debate will affect the election.

1. If Kerry wins, he can still win the election. He'll have to win decisively to guarantee victory in November, because if he only has an edge, get ready for a repeat of 2000.

2. If Bush gets very aggressive and "outmuscles" Kerry to win the debate, he WILL win a second term. It won't be a McGovern vs. Nixon election, but it could be a Clinton vs. Dole election. All battlegrounds will turn red if this happens. You'll know if he wins tomorrow because the major networks will declare it a Bush victory, which takes an awful lot for them to do.

3. If the debate is an obvious draw, then the polls will not change. Bush will also win in this scenario unless Kerry pulls a last-minute ace in the hole, which I don't think he's capable of.

Now the question becomes: What can each candidate do to win?

Sen. Kerry: Kerry has to stop repeating himself. Certain portions of his responses in Debate #2 were identical to Debate #1, and it felt like an insult to my intelligence. He even repeated one of his better lines ("I made a mistake in how I talked about the war...") from the first debate, effectively killing its usefulness. Bush is using the line, "He can run, but he can't hide," to his advantage because it's simple and it makes a point about his record. In short for Kerry: Less wordy, more fresh.

Pres. Bush: Bush needs to get off the defensive. I think he's on his way to doing that because of his new catchphrase (see above), but he's still not as aggressive as Kerry. It's really not that hard to debate against Kerry, though; all you have to do is put him on the defensive. This is why Kerry is a better politician when he's trying to come from behind: When he's defending himself, he feels vulnerable and weak; therefore, he becomes vulnerable and weak. In short for Bush: Wear blue tie, think red tie.

Friday, October 01, 2004

Last Night's Debates

Well, I had hoped that last night would have given us a better idea of where the candidates stand. It didn't really do so for Kerry. Bush looked so tired, it was as if he alone was bearing the weight of the last four years of American history (being President does that to a man). Kerry could definitely sense that and capitalized on it as best as he could, but he still doesn't seem sure of his own convictions. Why else would he have made nuclear proliferation one of his main talking points? It's an issue, but it's on the back burner compared to everything else. But I digress.

Two points on each candidate:

Kerry
1.) He definitely seemed more confident than Bush. Had Bush been more aggressive with Kerry, his confidence might have imploded (as evidenced by the occasional sour face when Bush nailed a few rebuttals).
2.) His point involving the NYC subway shutdown during the RNC was false. The Drudge Report already got confirmation that the subway stayed open while the convention took place.

Bush
1.) Many people thought he coined a new word when he said "transshipment" toward the end of the debate. This actually IS a real word, according to Webster's Online Dictionary.
2.) One of Bush's best moments came in his closing statement, where he emphasized the use of a volunteer military. This is his way of saying, "All the e-mails and the CBS story about bringing the draft back are false." (If you don't know about the CBS story, go to www.rathergate.com for more info; it's a classic example of liberal bias. I'm lucky enough to have it on tape.)

So who won? If you closed your eyes while the debate played out, Bush had the edge by making better points; if you watched intently, Kerry won simply because Bush looked exhausted and had a few scary moments in which he drew blanks. Overall, I call it a draw.

Side note: One interesting trick of diplomacy and politics involves tie color. Kerry wore a red tie last night, but Bush wore a blue tie. Aside from the obvious "red state/blue state" contradiction here, red ties symbolize an aggressive stance on the issues at hand, whereas blue ties symbolize a more reasonable, diplomatic outlook. This explains why Kerry was on the attack while Bush tried to explain himself and offer counterpoints. This is a true concept; the next time you watch a United Nations meeting or a Senate debate, pay attention to the ties.

Welcome

There are three major things that make this blog unlike anything you've ever seen:

1. I am from West Virginia University. If anything shady is going on (bias in the school paper, embezzlement, etc.), you'll hear about it here first.

2. Both liberal and conservative bias are fair game here. If you find anything resembling irresponsible reporting, send it to biaswatch@yahoo.com. Include a link so I can substantiate it and do research. Occasionally I will include my opinion on current events, but I will never, EVER tell you what to think.

3. If I feel like posting something completely random, I'll do so. This is especially true during football season, as I'm usually decent at picking games week-to-week. Or I might post something off-the-wall for a laugh. I will guarantee, however, that this is in no way an online diary like so many other blogs.

So to sum things up, I post four kinds of articles: News, BiasWatch, Opinions, and Diversions.
If you ever wish to contact me, e-mail me at unknownblogger@yahoo.com.