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October 23, 2004


The Kid

Read Kerry’s collected works over a weekend and you’ll find that it’s not so much that he’s inconsistent, but that he has no coherent worldview except for a predilection for collective (read “coercive” and its synonym “far-left”) solutions and abhorrence of the use of force. His language is fascinating simply because it evinces a belief he has in himself that’s many degrees beyond confidence or assurance – it is arrogance. When he says he has a plan, he believes that that’s enough, that folks should see that he’s the sort that can and should be given the benefit of the doubt, be trusted. What his plan consists of or how in detail he’ll do what he promises are left unsaid, in part because he fully expects that his listeners will believe that he has the stature and knowledge necessary. So far, it seems to have worked. In short, his core belief is his faith in himself – he’s an egomaniac except when he’s around his spouse.

I disagree with your ranking.
Education is on the way to being fixed – Bush got as much out of Congress as he’s likely to get, but what he got was a lot. The animosity toward the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act is evidence of its success in applying measurable standards to education – rating the schools every year forces the educrats to do what they claimed they were doing for years, but weren’t. Now parents have ammunition to go after the principals and school boards. All that’s left is to move this measurement tool to high schools. After a time, some states will make the leap to vouchers as parents gradually realize that their kids aren’t learning in the government schools. Kerry will try to gut NCLB as a favor to the teachers’ unions.

Social Security is the really big financial problem that has to be solved by 1998. Ooops. Reforms to the current system over the years have raised the retirement age, increased revenue by raising the level on which payroll taxes are levied, and fiddled with non-SS earnings of retirees. Bush’s private account plan will cost $2 trillion (yes, with a T), an amount that be financed in several ways (think savings and loan recover) and produces economic benefits on the order of $20 trillion. Kerry will have to break his promise and limit benefits and raise the retirement age merely to postpone paying the eventual $7-12 trillion it will take to meet expected commitments. Backup starts here.

Healthcare is a problem because citizens don’t see the costs and can’t assess the benefits; that’s what makes our third-party system inefficient and expensive. (I won’t even mention tort reform here.) So let’s make everybody pay for their own routine healthcare, cut their own deals with medical professionals, and insure themselves for catastrophic illnesses, the sort of healthcare where insurance makes sense. That’s the idea behind medical / health savings accounts ( MSAs and HSAs ). Employers now offering health insurance would give that money to employees who could save a portion in a tax-free HSA and purchase catastrophic coverage with another portion. What about the poor? A carefully crafted voucher system that gives access to healthcare and an incentive to use wisely by letting them pocket some of the savings.

Kerry’s plan merely makes more folks eligible for Medicare – an expensive rathole – and expands federal health insurance plans to a portion of the populace, a move that would prompt some employers to drop their healthcare coverage. We’ll find that both turn out to be more expensive than he figured, but he’ll have been run out of office by that time. This tack will set the stage for single-payer and 18-week waits for medical procedures.

As for energy, Bush’s original plan (the one Cheney and his oil cronies cooked up) is neat because it recognizes the time and resources required to get to hydrogen. Hydrogen is a medium – it has to be produced. While one can use natural gas, that’s high demand (look at the stinking prices!) for heating, chemicals, and power generation. What’s left? Nukes, yeah! Build new nuke plants all over – like the French have - for both electricity generation and hydrogen production. While the nukes plants are being litigated and built, bring in Alaska, offshore, and federal land oil and gas. Oh, and you need Yucca to store the waste. Other than Yucca and some federal support for hydrogen research (unneeded but politically necessary), note that this is all privately financed.

Kerry has an end-point but no way to get there other than forcing manufacturers to build smaller, less safe cars; the Asians will do this better, so Ford and GM may join the ranks of DeSoto and Packhard. We can’t get to hydrogen without some power source, and windmills and solar still need government subsidies to compete. Windmills are great in theory, but folks don’t like them nearby, especially near Nantucket and Cape Cod. Solar works when the sun shines. Kerry’s vowed to kill Yucca. Don’t forget that a large percentage of Kerry’s backers believe that for transportation Americans should rely solely on bicycles made of hemp.


Look, I think that a Bush second term would the most productive term of any president ever. Look what he's done in this one. He obviously doesn't concern himself with political haggling. He might just save the world whether the world likes it or not. It'd be a fun ride regardless!!


if you shake him awake at 3 a.m., what are the two or three things he knows deep down...

1) I served in Vietnam

2) I have a plan

3) I voted for it before I voted I voted against it.

The Kid

You ask three questions, Bob Woodward recently sent 22 to the Kerry campaign. Bob was hopin’ that he’d get from Kedwards something like the access he had to Bush, 3 1/2 hours of interviews over two days late last year, and has been trying pretty durn hard to get an interview since June 16th. In today’s WaPo he writes:

In August, I was talking with Kerry's scheduler about possible dates. On Sept. 1, Kerry began his intense criticism of Bush's decisions in the Iraq war, saying "I would've done almost everything differently." A few days later, I provided the Kerry campaign with a list of 22 possible questions based entirely on Bush's actions leading up to the war and how Kerry might have responded in the same situations. The senator and his campaign have since decided not to do the interview, though his advisers say Kerry would have strong and compelling answers.
Poo Bob apparently doesn't hunt or windsurg.

Without the interview, Bob can’t do a side by side comparison of Bush’s and Kerry’s responses. He does us the favor of reproducing the questions, edited only for clarity. Have a look at the link above.

I therefore believe that if you shake him awake at 3 a.m., the two or three things he knows deep down are:

1. I am strong.
2. I am compelling.
3. Gotta review that pre-nup so I see where I stand if I lose.


In response to The Kid's post, health care portion:


I spent 10 years, 25 years ago, working as a med tech/hematologist in cancer research. I believed then, I believe now, and I've been telling anyone who would listen ever since, that if we could do only one single thing to reform our health care system, the most productive thing we could do to restore sanity to a totally whacked-out system would be to sever completely the relationship between health care insurance and employment. Of course people think you need to be locked in a padded cell when you say something like that, and I've come to believe that such a solution is politically impossible. The only alternative is the one we're headed for, and will hate when we get to it--but by that time it will be too late to turn back: a Socialist system. Actually, I suspect--fear--that it's too late already.

We're doomed, but there are a lot of people who will be able to say they heard it from me first. Small comfort.


The difference between Kerry and Bush is that while Kerry worries about process, Bush trys to achieve goals. Kerry is unhappy about the removal of Sadaam, not because he thinks Sadaam ought to have been left in power, but because Bush didn't follow the proper process. That the process was broke, is immaterial - Bush's priority should have been to fix the process, not to achieve the goal, in Kerry's world.

This is why Kerry was "unable to think" for 40 minutes after the 2nd plane hit the WTC. He didn't mean that literally - he just couldn't place the events in context within his worldview of terrorism as nuisence to be dealt with by local law enforcement. This was his wake-up at 3am and he failed.

Kerry has to have a "plan" for everything because he doesn't have gut feel for anything. If he can't contemplate a policy as flow charts and organizations he is lost.


A federal energy plan will be bloated, pork filled, ineffective, and probably in the end counterproductive. The last energy bill was a good example of this.

The real hazard of a federal energy plan would be the danger of picking technologies based on who has the best lobbyists not who has the best technology.

The Kid

Betsbounds -
I think it’s possible. The evil Republicans unlocked the door with MSAs under Clinton, and Bush opened it a little wider with HSAs. Folks who try them like them.

The dirty little secret about healthcare insurance is that you have to maximize participation of young childless males either through coercion (single-payer) or obfuscation (make it free, which means take what would otherwise be salary and put it into the insurance pool). These guys don’t use or need the healthcare system except for accidents, so it’s rational for them not to sign up for insurance until they get married and have kids. Their payments offset the higher healthcare utilization of females, the old, etc.

With HSAs guys can chip in early and build a sizable nest egg tax-free for the day when they have a wife and kids, rational behavior that supports family values too. And if they have good genes and a healthy lifestyle, after a time they can take some of that money and buy a motorcycle! After the accident, the balance of HSA savings goes to their beneficiaries.

With healthcare as in other areas, Bush is looking to solve problems, not kick the can down the road a bit.

Mike G

I agree with those who say (starting with Jon [no H] Rauch) who say we really don't know what Kerry will be. His whole appeal is based on holding a coalition together based on letting each of them think he'll be whatever they hope he'll be. (Not that the same isn't true of Bush to some degree, but you can at least spot terra firma there somewhere.)

If I had to guess, my guess would be that history is a leaden ironist, and Kerry, the young man who opposed LBJ's war, will if elected end up an old man fighting one like it. What's the most likely result of a Kerry election in Iraq? Stepped-up attacks aimed at driving the invader out. Which means Kerry will be forced to demonstrate American resolve and maintain American credibility, lest Iraq fall like the first in a chain of dominos. Maybe Robert McNamara can advise him on how to proceed.

Patrick R. Sullivan

"He also started a cookie company."

Not exactly. He stole one from a guy named David:

Some guy who called me up was John Kerry, in ’79 or ’80,” Liederman recalled. “He said he wanted to come down and talk to me about franchising. He came to the office and said he had an incredible space in Boston, which was Faneuil Hall. He said he needed some plans and some layouts and all sorts of things to get the approval of the landlord.”

“So I gave him the layout, the package, and he went back and I didn’t hear from him for six or seven months.”

Then one day Liederman got a call from someone who said they’d seen one of his stores in Faneuil Hall. Not having a store in Boston, Liederman decided to have a look for himself.

“It was a direct, 100-percent knock off of David’s Cookies,” said Liederman, from the appliances to the shop’s design to the cookies themselves. “If you had walked into a David’s Cookie’s store in Manhattan at the same time he opened ‘John’s Cookies’ in Boston, you couldn’t tell the difference.”

Tom Grey

The Federal Plan for energy: 1 penny MORE gas tax -- per month, until most cars sold in America do NOT use gas.
(Possibly with some deferral mechanism to defer increases when crude on the market goes up by 20% or more in a 2 month period?)

Somebody will have to tell the (globally rich) selfish middle class Americans the truth about health-care -- they HAVE to pay for it, themselves. Prolly means most middle class folk will NOT leave hundreds of thousands of dollars in house owning equity to their kids as inheritance.

The Kid

Mike G -

Are you recommending a vote for Kerry based on irony? I see no evidence in Kerry's background that events can force him to do anything. Stepped-up attacks aimed at driving the invader out may prompt Kerry to say something like this:

“The situation is more dire and militarily challenging than the American people have been led to believe. The previous administration acted criminally in the way it moved against Iraq and occupied a nation that we all know was never a threat. That country is now a crime scene that not even the UN will touch.

“Therefore, as we withdraw our forces from Iraq, I call upon the Senate to ratify the treaty on the International Criminal Court as one of the fist steps our nation must take in re-joining the community of nations. This court will judge our actions past, present, and in the future to assure our nation and every nation that America can be powerful and good.”

I’m sure that Robert McNamara and his ilk would approve, no?


Yes, when it comes to Kerry and foreign policy, while he thinks he's offering us JFK, we've only three options: 2nd LBJ Administration; 2nd Carter Administration; 3rd Clinton Administration.

So, if you're voting for Kerry, which of the three disasterous administrations above are you hoping for?


Tom, how deep into your cheek was your tongue when you called Kerry a "whiz-bang prosecutor"? To find out, your readers have to not only click on the link you gave — which, given that it's to the Boston Globe, some folks may not do — and then read to the last third or quarter of that article to see how whiz-bang a prosecutor John Kerry was not. But despite its source, it's a relentlessly factual article that ends up being highly unflattering to Sen. Kerry.

In fact, if you'll forgive some link-whoring on my part, I respectfully submit that when you start collating the various sources about John Kerry's extremely brief and lackluster career as a prosecutor specifically, and a lawyer more generally, he looks like the kind of guy you'd probably seriously hesitate over hiring to represent your family business or your broken-legged nephew. (That's assuming he paid his full bar dues and did the other paperwork necessary to get his law license reinstated.) At a minimum, he's over-hyped his credentials as a former prosecutor.

Dave Schuler

One thing you've left out of your calculus is that although we've got 50 governors whose fulltime jobs are the health, education, and welfare of the citizens of their respective states, there's only one Commander in Chief and we have only one foreign policy. These two tasks are the tasks the Constitution lists first among the duties of the President.

Every president of my lifetime with the exception of Bush 41 has come into office either completely or nearly uninterested in foreign policy. Foreign policy has overtaken each one of them.

Whether or not you believe we are in a war (I do) the times are so perilous that these other considerations—healthcare, education, Social Security, and so on—will have to be left to the tender ministrations of the Congress, the governors, and the state legislatures (as the Framers intended). This is just no time to elect a president who views the War on Terror as a distraction from his domestic agenda.

Jim Glass

"...what are Kerry's core beliefs? If you shake him awake at 3 a.m., what are the two or three things he knows deep down...?"

That US foreign policy should be "Apologize First!"

Kerry on Meet the Press, May 6, 2001:

"... we have to be honest about the mistakes we made. We don't have legitimacy in the world, Tim, if we go to other countries, in Bosnia or China or anywhere else, and not say, 'You know, we made some terrible mistakes.'"

Since he made this statement back in May 2001 -- about Clinton's terrible mistakes? -- before 9/11 and the all *real* terrible mistakes that he's said followed that, and long before he was running for president, I conclude that this 'need to confess mistakes to be legitimate' thing is a true belief in his heart-of-hearts.

However, it *does* raise interesting questions about a Kerry foreign policy.

If elected, will he say to China: "I do not recognize you as legitimate, because you have not come to the world publicly admitting all the terrible mistakes you have made, and their are sooooo many of them!"

Will he say to France, "I do not recognize you as legitimate..."?

Or is Kerry just another American Exceptionalist at bottom?


aAman who was handed everything to him in his life (before his first term) is now someone more qualified than Kerry to be president. Someone who can't be bothered to read a newspaper. Republican values of "hard work" right? Just like holding Bush accountable for ANYTHING -- reflects republican values of "personal responsiblity" (its only for the poor right?)

I only read the post peice, although its mixed, I think in the end it comes out favorably. Unless of course, you ignore everything around you, an think the country is headed in the right direction.


A Secretive Circle

With the White House in charge, officials said, the planning for tribunals moved forward more quickly, and more secretly. Whole agencies were left out of the discussion. So were most of the government's experts in military and international law.....
....Senior officials of the State Department and the National Security Council staff were excluded from final discussions of the policy, even at a time when they were meeting daily about Afghanistan with the officials who were drafting the order. According to two people involved in the process, Mr. Cheney advocated withholding the draft from Ms. Rice and Secretary Powell.

Bush, unilateral leadership -- TM Approved. Its good to know process that leads to Abu Ghraib is still held in high regardl

The Kid

Jor –

What nonsense you spout. “Its good to know process that leads to Abu Ghraib is still held in high regardl. (sic)”

You may not have noticed, but Staff Sergeant Ivan "Chip" Frederick pleaded guilty to numerous charges regarding his conduct at Abu Ghraib and was sentenced to eight years confinement, a dishonorable discharge, etc. Did he cite orders from headquarters in his defense? Was he the scapegoat, the sacrificial victim? Or is it ore likely that he was the guy in charge of a bunch of misfits on the mid shift who decided to have some fun?

You have joined the crowd that confuses – no, tries to connect - a quite serious effort to interrogate quite dangerous folks captured while engaging in warfare on battlefields with those captured during the battles in Iraq. My take is that Rumsfeld and crew were as aghast as the rest of us were at the behavior of the mid-shift morons. In other words, they – Chip, Chuck, Lynndie, et al. – took matters into their own hands just to get their rocks off. UPDATE: Lynndie has reportedly given birth to a boy, fathered by Chuck. Did Rummy order this too?

It’s reasonable to assume that Rumsfeld and others would push for aggressive interrogation of folks seized in Afghanistan and other places. You and Kerry can argue that reasonable people may disagree, in which case you are fools. Our courts are very close to giving the code to bad guys apprehended in battle: say nothing, interrogation will be short and gentle, and you’ll be released soon. So it goes.

You can’t seem to appreciate that the “war” in Iraq lasted a few weeks, and that some of those “detained” since are not soldiers per the Geneva Convention, but thugs of one sort or another. The Abu Ghraib abuses had nothing whatsoever to do with high-level arguments over how to tread al Qaeda and associates in captivity, no matter what Carl Levin, Teddy the K, and Pat Leahy say. The Abu Ghraib abuses were the product of poorly supervised soldiers gone wild, and Chip’s conviction is the proof, as are the glass beads shown in the prison photos.

You and your ilk argue that all captives should be afforded the full protection of the US Constitution, Geneva Conventions, Boy Scout Articles of Incorporation, and Code of Conduct for the Salvation Army. My ilk would prefer that they be sorted by situation and interrogated accordingly in a timely and effective manner. The Geneva Convention phase is over, and it’s time to recognize any captive as a non-GC detainee subject to non-ACLU, non-GC, and non-BS grilling.

Should we capture Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, are we obliged to sign up Mark Geragos to represent him and delay questioning until all issues regarding the detention, probable cause, search warrants, etc. have been settled? I hope not. While I personally favor use of a belt sander, I understand that more severe methods may be appropriate.

Jim C.

The Kid wrote: "With HSAs guys can chip in early and build a sizable nest egg tax-free for the day when they have a wife and kids, rational behavior that supports family values too."

There are going to be a lot of young men who won't do this anyway. What happens when they need health care?

Don't get me wrong, I'm very wary about any form of socialized medicine. But is this a realistic alternative? (I don't have anything better to suggest.)


The Kid -- Rumsfeld's own, personally appointed comission basically blamed Rumsfeld. Cheney told everyone to "get off of Rumsfeld's back". Maybe you shoudl try reading a newspaper every once in a while.

The Kid

Jim C. -

When a young guy needs fuel for his vehicle, he purchases it. Nor does he have “insurance” for food and shelter. Why is medical care different? If he’s not put money into an HSA, he’ll have to sell something, take out a loan, or slap it on a credit card. Adulthood ain’t easy.

I admit that it will be hard to get people thinking this way, but some – small businesses and the self-employed - have already started MSAs and HSAs and like them.

Jor –
I do read newspapers other than The Guardian and don’t recall Rummy being responsible for Abu Ghraib. Perhaps I skipped a day. Although Big Dog is vigorous, at his age I’m surprised that he had the time and energy to squeeze in midnight visits to that prison. Wonders never cease, no?


"The Kid" writes, "These guys don’t use or need the healthcare system except for accidents..."

Then, later in life, many of them find themselves with serious and often fatal diseases that could have been easily treated had they gotten regular check-ups. Like my father, who didn't have his first colonoscopy until age 67 ... and now craps into a bag, thanks to emergency surgery to get rid of a cancerous rectal polyp.

To echo Jim C., I'm no fan of socialized medicine either, but I get kinda irked at the perpetuation of the meme, even indirectly, that going to the doctor regularly for check-ups is "neurotic" and "unmanly" (which, of course, implies that "the female nature" is inherently neurotic and "the male nature" inherently not, but that's a discussion for another time). An ounce of prevention is still worth a pound of cure.

Steve Brinks

Kerry's core beliefs are represented by his lies before Fulbright's committee when he returned from Vietnam.

He dishonored those who died there, were wounded there, and all he served with. The members of his crew that support him are overwhelmed by the numbers who have come forward, madder than hell in many cases, because they remember the lies.

And now Kerry adds insult to injury by claiming his Vietnam service as an example of his leadership? If not that what is it? Why is he returning us to his service in Vietnam (where he clearly was a hero) when so many other veterans who served in the same area, were involved in similar missions, etc. etc. all claim he was lying?

Look at the actual record, the actual story he told before that Congressional committee. Americans sent to Vietnam must, overnight, have become the most brutal and heinous soldiers in the history of our Republic.

Politicians flip flop. The tell small lies. Sometimes they even tell big lies. But what is it about them, what is it in their past, that allows us to form a judgment about their character? This is obviously a variable. We know George Bush is anxious to move beyond his past. He's said he did things which were inappropriate. His DUI record was finally discovered. But he also claims to have changed and there is good evidence to that fact.

Kerry lied and brought dishonor to others. He was a mature adult. He knew what he was doing. And it solidified his position in an organization he apparently wanted to be associated with, the most left wing group of those opposed to the war. His lies hurt many, not obviosly the P.O.W.s of the time, but all veterans who had honorable service under some of the most difficult circumstances ever imposed on an American soldier.

I only explored the web site of the "swift boat" veterans a week ago. I fond a link and downloaded their movie. Some of the messages were extreme in all regards, showing a clear hatred for Kerry. But I believe that anger arose ot of the frustration he caused. Other voices are more moderate. This is not a polished political group like or Michael Moore's web site. If you read the appeals for contribtions for specific projects you quickly realize that the sugar daddies the extreme left wing ground (not necessarily tradition "liberals") has to spport them. They had enough money to fund their TV advertisements in two states. They were trying to get contributions from their membership to finance commercials in a third state.

They're a group of volunteers angered by what Kerry did in 1971 and his presentation of it in a false light today. I'm glad I finally visited their site. I've been to other sites, Michael Moore's for example, a good many more times, looking for something solid on which to make a decision. Most of that time was wasted but I encourage anyone to visit both sites and made an object evaluation of the two "documentaries" involved. Keep and open mind this week. Ignoe the mud slinging from both sides and sort out what is meaningful to you.

In my case it's core values and the greatest concern I have are those values of Senator Kerry. I'll never be able to rid my memories of what he said in 1971 when I heard part of them on the radio. I later read a large portion of the transcript in a local paper. I was appalled.

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