Thursday, August 26, 2004

The Political Neutron Star

Senator Kerry's campaign may be beginning to deflate. A week ago Kerry was ahead in almost all the polls. Some of his leads were within the margin of error, but nevertheless, he was ahead. Now the situation is reversed. Bush seems to be moving out in almost every poll, and, with the Republican convention looming and more Swiftvet ads on the way, the likelihood is that his lead will continue to expand.

The latest national polls show the following:

NBC News/Wall St. Journal: Bush - 47; Kerry - 45; Nader - 3

Gallup: Bush - 50; Kerry - 47

Fox News: Kerry - 45; Bush - 44

LA Times: Bush - 49; Kerry - 46

The really bad news for Kerry is in the polling data from the battleground states. Kerry was ahead in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Florida coming out of the convention. He's now behind (though within the margin of error)in each of these states according to the LA Times' polls.

There are still some 65 days until the election and a lot can yet happen. The debates may be decisive. Even so, it appears that Bush has the "Mo", at least for now.

What can the Democrats do to get it back? The most effective way, assuming there's no drastic change in either the economy or Iraq is to try to attach Bush to some scandal or in some other way tarnish his image with the voters. They've been doing this for almost a year, of course, with uncertain results, but liberals tend to believe that if slime isn't sticking it's because you're not throwing it hard enough. No doubt the Democrats will get increasingly more personal in their attack ads and in the media. The liberals on television and in the print media will become increasingly more unrestrained, strident, and partisan. Whether it will work or not is anyone's guess.

The danger for the Democrats is that, like a collapsing star, the implosion will accelerate with time, and a point will ultimately be reached where it becomes impossible to reverse it. A dying star will sometimes compress into a super dense residue spinning wildly in space. These remnants of once brilliant stars are reduced to superdense masses called neutron stars which emit no light, just toxic emanations like gamma rays.

So it may turn out to be with the once brilliant promise of the Senator from Massachusetts. Perhaps ultimately all that will remain of the Kerry campaign will be a solid residue of bitter, hate-driven supporters, spewing a dark, toxic hatefulness, spinning lifelessly in a political void.

Check out RealClear Politics for more specifics on the latest polls.

Democrat Fear and Smear

Captain's Quarters has this bit of information on the Democrats' strategy for answering the Swiftvets' allegations:

The New York Daily News reports that "a group of Democratic loyalists" plan to target one of the less public figures from the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth by using humiliation to intimidate him into silence:

Sen. John Kerry called a member of the Swift Boat Veterans For Truth over the weekend to try to reason with him over the group's attacks on his record. But fellow Democrats aren't hesitating to try far more aggressive tactics.

A group of Democratic loyalists is compiling incriminating dossiers on the members of the veteran group - and they sent us a preview of what might be in store for Swift Boat activist James Zumwalt, son of illustrious Adm. Elmo Zumwalt - and it isn't pretty.

Zumwalt "attempted to kill himself with an overdose of prescription drugs," after the murder of his ex-wife's fiance, John Kowalczyk, according to the dossier, which is footnoted to news sources, and was "convicted of reckless driving after chasing Kowalczyk at a high speed on the highway."

What relevance something like this has to the allegations about Kerry's military service, one can only wonder. To the character assassins in the Democratic party perhaps it doesn't need to have any relevance to be useful. Captain Ed goes on to write:

Well, well, well. Perhaps Max Cleland can stop off on his way to Crawford, TX and put a stop to the "fear and smear" tactics being used by the Democrats. This certainly convinces me that John Kerry has nothing to hide. Riiiiiiiight...

On the other hand, at least the Democrats have agreed in principle that medical records should be released as a basis for public debate in this presidential cycle. Bush released his, now Zumwalt's are out in the open -- so where are Kerry's? They must contain some pretty damaging information if the Democrats are willing to violate HIPAA laws in order to keep them secret.

Sign the 180, Senator. Be a man, take responsibility for having started this entire mess with the Democratic smear campaign back in February and April against President Bush, and sign the 180. If you can't do that, how can we trust you to ever act responsibly? (via Kerry Spot and CQ reader Jim L.)

Viewpoint admires Captain Ed's wish to see Kerry and the Democrats actually resort to evidence and debate to settle the controversy, but that requires that the facts be on your side. When they're not, when you can't out-argue your opponent, why then, you just destroy him. That's the liberal way.

The Da Vinci Code

I received an e-mail today from a former student, now at college, who tells me about having recently read and enjoyed Dan Brown's hugely popular novels The Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons. My correspondent, in addition to being a very bright, outstanding young woman, is Hindu, which may be relevant to some of what she says about the book. Part of her e-mail follows:

The da Vinci code, I felt, was less direct [than Angels and Demons] about pointing out the importance of the Church. It also emphasized how the Church had suppressed opposition, often violently. I know a lot of people have read this as Church-bashing, especially the part about how the stories in the Bible are at best, incomplete, or often completely inaccurate and fabricated. However, to me, this shouldn't even dent the face of true religion. Religion is about faith, it's about believing what may or may not be true. If you had factual data to support everything, then miracles would cease to exist and you would be a believer in science. Plus, the fact that the Catholic Church has suppressed opponents can hardly be denied. But for that matter, so have most of the other successful churches. While I don't necessarily agree with this violence or prejudice of others based on their choice of God, the Catholic Church can hardly be solely condemned for this action. Also, Brown repeatedly alludes to the power of faith and the purpose it serves to unite people and reassure them.

All in all, I think both books are good. The da Vinci code is definitely better written. Yes, the point can be made that if the information about Jesus having married and had a child were true, then the verses of the Bible would be shaken. But the way I understand the Bible (admittedly, not as a Christian), most of the stories are metaphors, told to teach the believer something. For example, it is widely known that Jesus's birthday was not December twenty-fifth but in the spring. And while informed religious people may be aware of this, that does not stop them from celebrating Christmas. . .nor should it. As I said before, you can't make Kierkegaard's leap of faith in earnest if you have hard scientific data to fall back upon.

What follows is the relevant portion of my reply to her:

I was interested in your take on Dan Brown's books. I also enjoyed The Da Vinci Code, it was a real page turner, and I liked the way the author built suspense. I take a somewhat more critical position than you, though, on his use of history. Almost none of his account of Christianity and the Church is true. This would be okay in a novel, I guess, but in the preface of the book he gives the reader the impression that everything he says about the Church and about Jesus is historical fact, and it's not.

For instance, there's absolutely no evidence that Jesus had a conjugal relationship with Mary Magdalene. Brown's claim that millions of women were burned in the Inquisition is completely ahistorical. His assertion that Christians didn't accept the deity of Christ until the fourth century is simply not the case. Anyway, none of this would matter too much, I guess, except there is a very subtle danger in this for the Christian.

If, as Brown claims, Jesus and Mary M. absconded to France and lived out their lives there then that completely collapses the entire edifice of the Christian Faith. Christianity is built on the doctrine of the Resurrection of Christ. If Jesus didn't really return physically from the dead then there's no point in being a Christian, and if Brown is right then there was no Resurrection. Brown's Christ was a man like every other who eventually died in France.

The Christian Christ, however, was the incarnation of God and lives and acts today. If he wasn't divine then he was either a nut or a charlatan. He couldn't have been just a good moral teacher like Ghandi if he wasn't in some sense God. He told people that if they give their lives for him they'd be rewarded in heaven. He claimed to be able to forgive sins and to grant eternal life. He claimed to be the Son of God. If he wasn't divine then he was indeed crazy or he was the biggest religious fraud in history.

Brown doesn't make this conclusion explicit, but it's certainly implicit in his claim that Jesus was just a man. In other words, Brown is trying to convince his millions of readers that Christianity is essentially false and has value only as a kind of service club or moral system, but like St. Paul says, "If Christ hasn't risen from the dead then the faith of Christians is in vain." The threat to the Christian faith is the more insidious because Brown tells such a captivating story.

In any event, there've been a ton of books published in the last six months debunking Brown's interpretation of history. If you're interested, and have the time, you can check out some reviews here.


Let's get this straight. John Kerry admits to committing war crimes in which people died. He burned villages, killed animals, and either himself shot at, or ordered crew mates to shoot at, civilians.

Now Kerry is demanding that Secretary Rumsfeld resign his office because soldiers at Abu Ghraib subjected prisoners to sexually degrading behavior.

Perhaps the Senator will explain the logic behind demanding that the secretary should resign because, unbeknownst to him, some perverts mistreated a few prisoners, while Kerry himself should be elected president even though he admits to having participated in war crimes.

It's doubtful that he'd ever actually be forced to explain this astonishing example of chutzpah, of course, since the major media wouldn't dream of actually asking him for an explanation. The Senator and his media supporters almost daily afford us deeper insights into the meaning of the word hypocrisy.

Historical Coincidences

Viewpoint received this e-mail which we post here for you to mull over. The coincidences certainly are interesting. Maybe Nietzsche was right and history is eternally recurring:

The following are Presidents elected in a year with a zero at the end:

1840: William Henry Harrison (died in office)

1860: Abraham Lincoln (assassinated)

1880: James A. Garfield (assassinated)

1900: William McKinley (assassinated)

1920: Warren G. Harding (died in office)

1940: Franklin D. Roosevelt (died in office)

1960: John F.. Kennedy (assassinated)

1980: Ronald Reagan (survived assassination attempt)

2000: George W. Bush ?

And to think that we had two guys fighting it out in the courts to be the one elected in 2000. You might also be interested in this.

Abraham Lincoln was elected to Congress in 1846.

John F. Kennedy was elected to Congress in 1946.

Abraham Lincoln was elected President in 1860.

John F. Kennedy was elected President in 1960.

Both were particularly concerned with civil rights.

Both wives lost a child while living in the White House.

Both Presidents were shot on a Friday.

Both Presidents were shot in the head.

Lincoln's secretary was named Kennedy.

Kennedy's Secretary was named Lincoln.

Both were assassinated by Southerners.

Both were succeeded by Southerners named Johnson.

Andrew Johnson, who succeeded Lincoln, was born in 1808.

Lyndon Johnson, who succeeded Kennedy, was born in 1908.

John Wilkes Booth, who assassinated Lincoln, was born in 1839.

Lee Harvey Oswald, who assassinated Kennedy, was born in 1939.

Both assassins were known by their three names.

Both names are composed of fifteen letters.

Lincoln was shot at the theater named "Ford."

Kennedy was shot in a car called "Lincoln" made by "Ford."

Booth and Oswald were assassinated before their trials.

A week before Lincoln was shot, he was in Monroe, Maryland.

A week before Kennedy was shot, he was with Marilyn Monroe.

Lincoln was shot in a theater and the assassin ran to a warehouse.

Kennedy was shot from a warehouse and the assassin ran to a theater.

Don't share this with anyone who's fond of conspiracy theories. It'd be like catnip to them.