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When the Government Knows Best

During the height of the Terri Schiavo right-to-die battle earlier this year, I angrily penned an op-ed piece that I ultimately did not publish on Periodic Diversions. While I was furious that the Federal and Florida executive and legislative branches had intervened in that woman's tragic case, effectively casting aside a decade of near-unanimous Florida state court legal opinion on the Schiavo case, I chose not to publish the article fearing that enough ink had been devoted to the subject. I waited hoping that my cooler head would prevail. It has not.


Posted by Steve on May 22, 2005 | Comments (96) | TrackBack


Could someone please fix the comments field? No matter what I type it is considered "questionable." So I want everyone to read Ryan's article and when they get super pissed, I want them to remember this:
view and be pissed.

Posted by iv on May 22, 2005 | Comments (83) | TrackBack

Election Day 2004

Today is Tuesday, November 2, 2004, a day Americans have had circled on their calendar for a long time: Opening Day in the National Basketball Association. Will the Detroit Pistons repeat? Or will Spurs acquisition of Brent Barry help bring the championship trophy to San Antonio? What about the Shaq-Kobe feud? Can LeBron lead the Cleveland Cavaliers to the playoffs? And, which Trailblazers will make appearances on the Portland police blog?

But, more importantly, today is Election Day in the U.S. That's right ladies and gentlemen, democracy at it's finest.

For your periodic Election Day news, stay tuned to Periodic Diversions.


Posted by terence on November 02, 2004 | Comments (203) | TrackBack

Forecasting the US Presidential Election

If you seek insight into who may win the upcoming Presidential election, there are two ways to gain it: take a poll or book some bets.


A Suggested Campaign Advertisement for Kerry-Edwards

I want Senators Kerry and Edwards to win this election.

So far, their campaign advertising has missed the mark and is failing to capitalize on many inconsistencies in President Bush's own public statements and policy positions that would undermine his and Vice President Cheney's chief re-election arguments: steady leadership during times of change, we-do-what-we-say consistency, and we are "safer now that Iraq is free and Saddam Hussein is no more".


Snoop Dogg on the Clinton Impeachment

In early 1999, in the midst of U.S. President Bill Clinton's impeachment for allegations that he had an improper sexual relationship with an intern and then lied to a grand jury about it, Snoop Dogg gave an interview to High Times magazine, an interview whose video was broadcast on a now-defunct website. The video has been lost to history, but Snoop's interpretation of Clinton's travails invokes a broader principle that transcends the impeachment crisis.


Shaping the Debate

The New York Times has produced an interesting statistical analysis of
the words used by the speakers
at the recent Democratic and Republican national conventions.

Republicans, not surprisingly, are framing their message in this election season around the war on terrorism, the spread of democracy around the world, and spirited direct attacks on John Kerry. The Republican speakers sought to place the forming debate about US foreign policy in greater historical context, invoking many references to the Cold War, the fall of Communism, and the many positive changes around the world that hard-lined US policy against ideological foes has engendered.

Democrats also seek to frame the presidential debate around the war, albeit in a manner more focused on the specific current war in Iraq (as well as to highlight Kerry's venerable service in Vietnam), and by appealing directly to the many Americans without jobs or health care. The Democrats have framed the issue of the unemployment rate itself, which, at 5.4%, is high compared to the standards of the Clinton years but actually below the average rate of 5.6% in the post-WWII era (since 1948; source: bls.gov).


Things Bush is Not

The national electoral debate has focused on who the candidates are. Harper's points out all the things Bush is not, in his own words.

Posted by ryan on July 14, 2004 | Comments (143) | TrackBack

The Problem With Kerry

I think Kerry's main problem is nothing more than that he represents an uncertain choice. As much as I may dislike Bush's policies, when I try to ask myself how Kerry would proceed instead, for each of those policies and decisions, I am left befuddled.


Posted by ryan on May 20, 2004 | Comments (351) | TrackBack

We're Not Paying Our Congressmen Enough

Which is worse, that a Congressman recently tried to carry a loaded gun through an airport metal detector, or that he doesn't own or rent a home and sleeps in his office? We hope Rep. John Hostettler, R-Indiana,, up for re-election in November, is actively squirreling away those savings for what may be his impending retirement.

Posted by ryan on April 20, 2004 | Comments (111) | TrackBack

Thoughtfulness in Politics

Thoughtfulness is in short supply in this country. Among the places it is most sorely lacking is our political process. Politicians who are thoughtful and demonstrate an appreciation for nuance in their policy positions are decried as unprincipled and weak. Forums for thoughtful political dialogue, limited not by network time constraints but the duration of a debate's usefulness, are few and far between. Unless your policy positions can be condensed into a sound byte, nobody is paying attention.


Posted by Steve on March 31, 2004 | Comments (123) | TrackBack

The Art of Peddling Sleaze

Timothy Noah, of Slate "Chatterbox" fame, gives an impromptu lesson on how scandals break and how the media transforms a rumor into reality. In Selling Sleaze: A User's Guide he gives us ten ways that sensationalized hearsay becomes news.

The fourth estate may not always be a pretty place, but Noah does manage a Dukakis reference!

Art Imitates Life: Coulter the Doll

Looking for that perfect gift for someone who still wears a 'visor with irony'?

"I think it's terrific!" Ann says, "This action figure can talk, wear different outfits and hairstyles."

But that's not all. Ann adds, "It also kills terrorist leaders and converts their followers to Christianity."

Be sure to click on her classic anti-liberal witticisms, she's just so sassy!

Life Imitates Art: "I Need Some Ribs"

Every so often, a public official makes you wonder if you're watching C-Span or Saturday Night Live. President Bush has contributed to the latest confusion in his recent quest for some ribs.

Posted by ryan on January 23, 2004 | Comments (198) | TrackBack

President Bush and Iraq: Failed Communications

President Bush and his administration suggest that we can gauge the progress of our reconstruction efforts in Iraq by considering the types of "terrorist" attacks that are occurring there. Time and again we hear the same refrain: following an attack, the president and his advisers flood the airwaves with the message that we are prevailing and the terrorists are becoming increasingly desperate in response. They would highlight the car bombing of the International Red Cross headquarters in Baghdad as evidence of this fact.

What is striking is that this message appears to be the only one available to the White House. We are winning, they say, and the Iraqi people are thankful. While there may be some truth to both of these views, they are unconvincing in any all-encompassing sense. We may be winning the war militarily, even as we are losing the public relations one.


Posted by Steve on November 03, 2003 | Comments (224) | TrackBack

The Ideal Candidate

In the spirit of the political season, I present you all with a little ditty from the Atlantic. The ideal Democratic candidate is not in the race yet, but he will be by the time September 19 rolls around.

Ladies and gentlemen, say hello to Wesley Clark.

All right, enough of my liberal propaganda ...

Posted by terence on September 13, 2003 | Comments (127) | TrackBack

Ecuador to Honor its Appointments

President Lucio Gutierrez of Ecuador has pledged to combat the epidemic of tardiness that has swept his country, his spokesman announced at a press conference delayed by his lateness.

"Ann Coulter does seem completely crazy"

P.J. O'Rourke, the man who "couldn't have gotten into Harvard with a crowbar," has vaulted his career from lowbrow comedy at The National Lampoon to becoming popular author and one of The Atlantic's most intriguing columnists. In an interview with The Onion, O'Rourke explains why The Atlantic is "a realy cool magazine," Ann Coulter seems "completely crazy," and the need for dissident conservative voices under a Republican presidency.


The Strange Appeal of George Bush

Agree with him on everything, most people do not. But they cannot deny that there is something that everyone can love in George Bush. Sure, he has "enriched the wealthy and neglected the poor, sent the federal budget deficit to record heights, and imposed a colossal financial burden on the coming generation," writes Peter Berkowitz of The Boston Globe. But before Bush is a conservative, he is a pragmatist whose core commitment remains to the modern liberal welfare state.


Posted by ryan on August 21, 2003 | Comments (207) | TrackBack

Soros Launches Get-Out-the-Vote Effort Against Bush

Billionaire George Soros has donated $10 million to fund Americans Coming Together, an organization devoted to oppose President Bush's re-election.

Posted by ryan on August 08, 2003 | Comments (143) | TrackBack

Saddam Predicts Defeat for Coalition, Again

"Greetings to you, Iraq" says Saddam Hussein in his latest broadcast, on July 27, before he again forecasted defeat for U.S.-led coalition forces in Iraq.

The magnanimous leader "call[s] upon you to respect international law and all religions when enemy troops surrender themselves to you." The deposed Iraqi dictator also promised "gifts, which they are free to sell or keep" to the citizens of Iraq, "when things get back to normal."

Posted by ryan on August 01, 2003 | Comments (276) | TrackBack