The Locker Room

August 31, 2004

RE: Linux Goes to the Dogs.

Posted by Kent Lassman at 3:49 PM

Appropos of John's investigation into his life in Kerry-land, via his penchant for Apple computers and Target, Brenden Miniter penned a column for on voters' associations of presidential candidates with dogs.

The upshot is that the President is favored over Senator Kerry in the "trusted to walk your dog" and "pooch happiness" categories. One fifth of respondants associated Bush with Labrador Retreviers and another one fifth with rottweilers -- trusted family pets and strong-willed guard dogs respectively. For Kerry, 15 percent associated him with the veritable Labrador breed and another 14 percent with...yup, you guessed it, poodles. Read the short column for a quick lighthearted break.

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Re: Easley Slap

Posted by Paul Chesser at 2:56 PM

Here is the press release announcing the state employees' endorsement of Ballantine for governor. In part:

The Ballantine endorsement culminated a three-month process that included over 2,500 state employees across North Carolina.  Cope explains that, “This endorsement was preceded by weeks of discussion and debate by our members at the grassroots level of the association.  We are proud of the thought process that produced this decision.”

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Check Him Again in a Month or So - At Lunch

Posted by Paul Chesser at 2:30 PM

John J. Miller of National Review, who will participate in the Locke Foundation's election preview luncheon on Oct. 4, today rates the North Carolina Senate race between Erskine Bowles and Richard Burr a "toss up." This despite repeated polls that show Bowles with roughly a 10 percentage point lead.

As for the race in our neighboring state to the South, Miller writes:

Democratic nominee Inez Tenenbaum is trying to make a major issue of Republican congressman Jim DeMint's support for a bold tax reform that would come in the shape of a national sales tax. "It's not a mainstream idea," says Tenenbaum. DeMint is sticking to his guns, calling the current tax code a job killer. And it doesn't seem to be hurting DeMint at all, based on his own polls, which show him holding a healthy lead over Tenenbaum, 50 percent to 38 percent.

Miller rates the South Carolina race as "leaning (toward a) Republican takeover." As for the overall makeup of the Senate, on Aug. 31, 2004, he is predicting a two-seat gain for the GOP.

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Uh, but what about Linux?

Posted by John Hood at 2:01 PM

A national survey by WPP Group and a Democratic-leaning polling firm of voters undecided in the presidential race yielded some interesting conclusions about how these voters view George W. Bush and John Kerry.

The study asked respondents to associate particular brands with the two candidates. So for breakfast coffee, for example, most undecideds associated Bush with Dunkin’ Donuts and Kerry with Starbucks. Here were some other findings:

• Computers: IBM with Bush and Apple with Kerry.
• Automobiles: Ford with Bush, BMW with Kerry.
• Discount retail: K-Mart with Bush, Target with Kerry.
• Fast food: McDonald’s with Bush, Subway with Kerry.

So, I use an Apple, prefer Target and Subway, and drive a Ford. Gulp. Apparently I live in Kerry-Land most of the time.

Meanwhile, one wonders with whom the voters would associate the open-sourced, free-wheeling Linux — perhaps the Libertarian, Michael Badnarik? Presumably Yugo drivers favor Ralph Nader.

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Attitude Adjustments

Posted by Paul Chesser at 11:40 AM

A little over a month ago our family took in a child through one of the county departments of social services, and now my wife and I have begun to take classes for foster parenting. Last week we attended the first of 10 three-hour sessions that will continue weekly until the end of October.

My natural tendency as we approach these classes would be to consider them excessively bureaucratic, longer than they need to be, and have a bad attitude about them. But somehow I’ve been able to set those sentiments aside and anticipate them as necessary to help us understand our new child and learn to handle behaviors that are foreign to us.

Last week we had our introductory session, which was a bit long but a humbling experience for us.

For weeks now, as we’ve told friends about our new addition, many have praised us for what we’re doing, but we often don’t feel like we’ve had the right attitude about this at all. This little boy was brought to our attention and we couldn’t ignore his situation. We don’t feel we are part of a noble cause or worthy of commendation, as some have said, because it’s not something we wanted. Indeed we often feel put upon. We often feel like this is a disruption, not a blessing. Of course, being Christians, we are ashamed about the way we feel sometimes.

This first foster class taught us a lot about our attitudes. My first observation was the remarkable number of families whose head of household served, or was serving, in Iraq. I would say about 50 families were represented there, and five had husbands/fathers who had served in the war. Three were women, alone, whose husbands were still in Iraq. These were families who have already sacrificed, and yet they are looking to give more of themselves to help children in need. One Iraq veteran, already with two children of his own, told of what he had seen during his tour, which compelled him to find a way to care for abandoned or neglected kids.

Much of the class was taken up by each husband and/or wife, or single woman, introducing themselves and telling a little about why they were there. Many of these brief stories were humbling to us. We heard the outpouring of love from people whose hearts break over the abandonment of children.

We sat across a table from one couple who had fostered 10 children over the years. I think they took a break for the last two years because of an especially difficult teenager they took in. But they had come back – their fostering license had lapsed – for another 10-week session so they could return to helping children. And now the wife said that the troubled teen they cared for had returned to them for a weekend visit, thanking them for providing a loving home. Clearly it was a meaningful development that spurred her to return to fostering.

We were also amazed at the many older men and women who had already raised their children to adulthood. They could have said their mission was accomplished, but they now wanted to care for more. Of course tears were shed over the aches felt for abused and neglected children. We were moved by so many who would willingly bring more difficulty into their lives in order to give a child a chance to avoid a terrible fate.

We came away from our first session, I believe, with a changed attitude about our new little boy. He is really a dynamic kid with a lot of potential, but in need of a lot of guidance. He requires a lot of attention. But with God’s help, I believe he – and our other four children – will get the love, instruction, and discipline they need to become responsible Christian adults and positive contributors to society.

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Easley Slap

Posted by Paul Chesser at 10:59 AM

North Carolina's state employees union has endorsed Patrick Ballantine for governor, the first time they have supported a Republican for the office.

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Platform-less and Void

Posted by Paul Chesser at 10:37 AM

The New York Times again proves their ignorance today in a pair of front page articles about the significance of the Republican Party platform. Headlines:

'Social Conservatives Wield Influence on Platform'

'GOP Opposes Abortion and Gay Unions'

The lede from the first article:

Republicans approved a platform yesterday that puts the party firmly on the record against legalized abortion, gay marriage and other forms of legal recognition for same-sex couples, reflecting the political clout of social conservatives and setting up a stark contrast with the Democrats for the fall campaign.

The clout of social conservatives? What the Times doesn't understand is that party platforms have become meaningless. The platform has become a bone to throw to social conservatives, who actually wanted stronger language than what they got. You need look no further than this week's speaker lineup to understand that the GOP doesn't monolithically "oppose abortion and gay unions," although clearly it leans that way.

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'Base' Beliefs

Posted by Paul Chesser at 09:50 AM

So, who represents the true identity of the Republican Party: the moderates who populate the prime time speaking roles at the convention this week, or the "conservative core" that Democrats allege the GOP is trying to keep hidden behind the curtain?

I say it's the former, not the latter, and you need only look at the top of the ticket to prove it. You don't have to look far to find conservative complaints about President Bush's big government philosophy. And as for social issues, Bush 43 treats them more like a mild annoyance than a hill to die on, and he always has. He has done just enough to keep pro-lifers aligned in his camp, and has always been a big tent builder.

This week's speakers accurately represent this Republican Party as presently constituted and led by this president. They are, at a minimum, as much a part of the "base" as social conservatives.

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Running for a/the House

Posted by John Hood at 08:38 AM

Democratic nominee Anne Fischer has told reporters that she is staying in the 10th Congressional District race against Patrick McHenry despite the fact that, due to financial problems, she has just lost her home to foreclosure. In true political-spin fashion, however, Fischer is portraying the development as a plus:

"I'm moving forward," said the 58-year-old Fischer, who describes herself as a part-time stress release facilitator. She said she is living with friends. "I'm totally focused. It will help me serve the district better. I have fewer responsibilities on the home front, basically, and terrific supporters that are helping me out."

A suggestion for a campaign theme: “Please vote for Anne Fischer — she really needs a House.”

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Fun with political word-play

Posted by John Hood at 08:19 AM

President George W. Bush was supposed to be coasting his way to this week’s acceptance speech in New York, but is instead stirring up lots of political chatter with his trademark malapropisms.

Or, at least, that’s the gist of several news stories I’ve read so far today, including this one in The Washington Times that bears an odd mixed metaphor for a headline: “Bush’s loose lips give Democrats more firepower.” What, is Bush a fire-breather? Does he spit bullets?

Anyway, the president’s statements that “I don’t think you can win” the war on terrorism, that the coalition had a “miscalculation” about post-war Iraq, and that the military campaign in Iraq had been a “catastrophic success” have fed John Kerry and the Democrats some talking points. The Bush folks have explanations, of course, and not implausible ones: he meant that the war on terror won’t be won in a conventional sense, that the “catastrophic success” was a better-than-anticipated military advance that left Iraqi soldiers disperse rather than crushed, thus leading to a “miscalculation” about how the post-war insurgency would development, and so on.

Here’s my prediction: just as the term “misunderestimated” originated in derision but then become proudly used by Bush’s supporters to indicate his ability to outmaneuver foes, so will terms like “catastrophic success” end up being weapons in Republican pundits’ arsenal, used in ways such as “John Kerry’s efforts to put government in charge of your health care will be catastrophically successful unless you stop him.”

In other words, Bush’s loose lips may give the Republicans more firepower.

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The Not-So-Bad Bombmaker

Posted by Paul Chesser at 08:00 AM

Last night I received an e-mail from a gentleman in response to my "Media Mangle" article, "The Good Bombmaker," which critiqued The News & Observer over its reporting about a teenager who is being investigated for building pipe bombs. Here is his feedback:

Having known the Brown family now for about five years, by their active volunteering in Boy Scouts and by working with Greg Brown, he’s not what you are thinking by the tone of your August 12th article. Believe it or not, he is an independent thinking conservative and a dedicated Rush (Limbaugh) listener. Good thing the N&O didn’t pick-up on that. He runs his own business. He of course will do what he must to protect his son, so no explanation is needed for his view.

You are absolutely on the mark with your comments about the N&O and their level of reporting. They did just take Greg Brown's words and made it their article. They are biased in favor of Jarrett Brown in this case for some reason. They believe this is some kind of fight against the new anti-terrorist laws the legislators passed and have a political agenda to reverse them.

I see this as a mean-spirited political game by the prosecutors to do the same thing the N&O is after. They are playing with Jarrett’s future. I hope the judge brings some fairness to the case at [today]’s hearing.

I do not know who is involved yet, or what their values are, but something doesn’t make sense here. The prosecution is pressing totally inappropriate charges against a most youthful 17-year-old. These laws are in place to be used as a tool against terrorists, not the general public, not even the common criminal.

Jarrett has committed two crimes, and he is admitting to them: 1) Leaving the scene of property damage he did with his car, 2) Making and having possession of pipe bombs made of copper pipe filled with shotgun powder and a fuse. For proper justice, he needs to be charged by the prosecution for these crimes. Instead they go after him as a terrorist with weapons of mass destruction? Give me a break. They can’t win a conviction with that, there is no training, no hate, no bully, no organization, no victim, and the “bombs” are lousy; made of soft metals.

So what is the prosecutor’s agenda? What would the charges have been back in early 2001? How about 1950?

Once you meet and get to know Jarrett, you’d know why the excuses are flying. Some teens are more advanced than their age and operate like adults; Jarrett is the opposite. Academically he does well and works to impress everyone around him, maybe too much. He is kind of naive socially, more the way a younger kid acts. Peer pressure is important to him still, thus the orange hair, etc.

He is not an edgy personality. He made the pipe bombs to impress his buddies. Nothing more, nothing less. It’s very bad, but it’s not terrorism.

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They Ought to Post It On the SAG Website

Posted by Paul Chesser at 06:55 AM

Actor Ron Silver last night:

"Even though I am a well-recognized liberal on many issues confronting our society today, I find it ironic that many human rights advocates and outspoken members of my own entertainment community are often on the front lines to protest repression, for which I applaud them but they are usually the first ones to oppose any use of force to take care of these horrors that they catalogue repeatedly."

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Convention-al Wisdom, or Lack Thereof

Posted by Paul Chesser at 06:47 AM

Tim Russert called it "a very effective political night" for the Republicans, and I would have to agree. Democrats must be seething at the extensive usage of 9/11, its widows, and interviews and messages from veterans, police, and (Milwaukee!) firefighters.

I didn't see very much of the Democratic convention (only what PBS showed), so I don't know if they used a similar idea, but going via satellite to the speech by the Milwaukee firefighters' union leader was near genius (except for the exuberant "RNC" reporter). In one move they took the audience from the out of touch elitism of New York to a midwestern battleground state where a key constituency sung the praises of the president. Combining that with the endorsement of the New York Police Sergeants' union scored back-to-back home runs for the GOP.

Presenting the three 9/11 widows struck the right tone, also.

Michael Moore seemed to enjoy his part in John McCain's speech. And Giuliani justifiably went long.

I think it came down to this difference between the Republican and Democrat conventions: innate patriotism vs. contrived patriotism. I think it comes more naturally to conservatives. Democrats have squawked for weeks now about Republicans challenging their patriotism, when in fact there has been no such challenge. But they do have that problem to overcome, the perception that the GOP is more patriotic and therefore more protective of the country, and they know it.

Maybe if they hadn't made "Fahrenheit 9/11" such a blockbuster success they might have started to change that perception.

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