Site Index
Norwegians in Politics

Hanson for Congress
Campaign Archives
Burton Hanson.Com
Political Opinion Journal
Sometimes Left, But Always Right

BurtonHanson.Com Political Opinion Journal - Archives I

Thursday, 10.28.2004 

      Item #1. On Monday that nice ol' "Republican Party of Minnesota" dropped off a packet of flyers touting the agenda of the radical "religious" right-wingers who have taken over the party. More. Today those nice folks dropped off a big card with a picture of John Kerry holding a rifle & looking slightly off his rocker, with the caption: "John Kerry Claims He's A Sportsman...Minnesotans Know Better." The flip side depicts George W. Bush as "A Real Sportsman." Boy, the folks over at the Republican Headquarters really must think everyone in Edina is a dumb cluck who's not only totally in tune with the party's right-wing agenda but easily suckered by juvenile campaign tactics. But on my daily neighborhood walks with my personal trainer, Jane the Wonder Dog, who has got me down to my high school weight, I see more and more Kerry/Edwards lawn signs going up. Could it be more and more long-time moderate Minnesota Republicans have had it with all the far-right nonsense emanating from party headquarters?

      Item #2. Yesterday, Mr. Bush, speaking in Akron, Ohio, in claiming Mr. Kerry had his facts wrong about the ammo-dump controversy now in the news, said, "A political candidate who jumps to conclusions without knowing the facts is not a person you want as your commander in chief" (Akron Beacon-Journal 10.28.2004). I couldn't have said it better. It's what I said in my failed primary campaign about the decision by Mr. Bush -- a decision still supported enthusiastically by our gung-ho, me-too congressman, Jim Ramstad -- to pre-emptively invade Iraq on the flimsiest of evidence, evidence that any person with minimal experience at evaluating evidence would know was insufficient to support so serious and unprecedented an undertaking. Which brings me to the silent ridicule that Senator Norm Coleman & Co. have directed at Senator Mark Dayton over his decision, based on security reports, to move his staff out of the congressional offices while he's on safe break back in Minnesota. Columnist Nick Coleman even reported the other day that some of our kind Minnesotans are circulating rumors that Mr. Dayton is just a little "off," as in "mental." Gosh, I think I'll take Mark's judgment any day over that of the President & his ambitious, ideological neo-conservative me-too'ers -- Mark was one of the wise and courageous ones who voted against the now-infamous resolution that authorized the President to invade Iraq. As Emily Dickinson wrote in one of her gem poems, "Much madness is divinest sense."

 Monday, 10.25.2004

      Under Ben Bulben, by William Butler Yeats, who is one of my favorite poets, ends with these lines:

No marble, no conventional phrase;
On limestone quarried near the spot
By his command these words are cut:

Cast a cold eye
On life, on death.
Horseman, pass by!

"These words" indeed are cut on limestone at Yeats' grave. For some strange reason of the psyche, the words came to mind this morning on opening a packet of literature hung by some friendly Republicans on the door knob of the front storm door that now has sheltered the front entryway of this blessed house for 68 years.

     One item amidst the usual campaign drivel (propagated by both parties) caught my attention: a 5x7 color card urging the reader to "VOTE YOUR VALUES," paid for by the Republican Party of Minnesota. On the reverse side the card contains a convenient chart comparing George W. Bush's "SUPPORTS" with John F. Kerry's "OPPOSES" with respect to so-called "family values." What it all boils down to, of course, is that Bush supports the bigoted agenda of the radical so-called "religious" right-wingers who now control the Republican Party of Minnesota -- an agenda that includes limiting abortions in any way legislatively possible, preventing the courts from deciding whether a ban on same-sex marriage is constitutional, appointing judges who'll overturn Roe v. Wade, limiting birth-control, etc. I'm glad that "the party" distributed the card because it reminded me, as it perhaps will remind others in this neighborhood of many Republicans and a few Democrats, just what has happened to what used to be a grand old party of moderate, fair-minded people like Harold Stassen, Luther Youngdahl, Elmer L. Andersen, Dave Durenberger and Arne Carlson.

     Another thing that caught my attention recently was Mr. Bush's use of the phrase "culture of life" as a code for some of these positions. If one casts a cold eye on the "culture of life" that Mr. Bush touts, one might well conclude, as I have done, that it is a mask for what in fact is a "culture of death." Mr. Bush, after all, is the guy who as governor of Texas never saw a death warrant he wasn't delighted to sign (he signed over 150 of them). He's also the guy who ordered the waging of an unjustified and therefore unjust and un-Christian war in Iraq that has led to the deaths of over 1,000 Americans since the war began, the deaths of 7,000 to 12,000 Iraqis since Mr. Bush proudly declared "mission accomplished," and the life-altering injuries of many more thousands of people.

     As I said, it pays to cast a cold eye on Mr. Bush's rhetoric about life, just as it pays to wash the rhetoric of every politician in a little of what Justice Holmes referred to as "cynical acid." It's sad but true: most of what most politicians say as the election gets close is either a lie, an exaggeration or, at best, a distortion. Wash it all in cynical acid and don't let the clowns seduce you with their dime-store bigotry and cheap bargain-basement versions of the Christian message.

 Saturday, 10.09.2004

      From Wall Street Journal reporter Farnaz Fassihi's 09.29.2004 e-mail to friends from Baghdad (via PoynterOnline):

Despite President Bush's rosy assessments, Iraq remains a disaster. If under Saddam it was a 'potential' threat, under the Americans it has been transformed to 'imminent and active threat,' a foreign policy failure bound to haunt the United States for decades to come.

 Friday, 10.08.2004

      Political lawn signs -- law & etiquette. While Lady Jane Hanson and I were taking one of our neighborhood strolls last weekend, I noted that one family had two lawn signs up for the same candidate for local office, one placed at one corner of the street-abutting part of their lot, the other at the other corner, inches away from the line separating the lot from their neighbor's lot. Whether intended or not, the impression left on an ordinary person driving by might be that two neighboring families, rather than just one, supported the candidate in question. A breach of sign etiquette? I do not judge such petty matters, just note them.

     I'm not one for putting up political lawn signs, but have nothing against them and recognize that any attempt to regulate them is fraught with constitutional danger. See, The Sign Speaker, the Government, and the First Amendment: An Introduction to the American Law of Signs, by Randal R. Morrison. But if I did put up such a sign, I'd put it sufficiently within any border shared with a neighbor so that no one could mistakenly conclude that the sign was that of my neighbor. It's a point of etiquette, if not of law. My eyes opened, I have since noted that many people in this fair city violate my simple suggested rule of lawn sign etiquette.

     But I also think it is good that most neighbors seem not to complain about any of these breaches of etiquette -- and I think it is good that the city authorities here are not proactive in enforcing the letter of the local sign ordinance to the many obvious violations of the local ordinance relating to placement of signs a certain distance from the road, etc.

     One thing I've noted this election is that there are a surprising number of Kerry-Edwards signs in this conservative city that always votes heavily Republican. And to my irritation, I noted early this week on one of my dog walks that the Kerry-Edwards signs of two fine neighbors were missing, presumably taken by political pranksters in the dark of night, while nearby Bush-Cheney signs of equally-fine neighbors were left untouched. Curious as to whether, nationally, more Kerry-Edwards signs than Bush-Cheney signs are the victim of such pranksters, I did an advanced GOOGLE news search using a few carefully-selected search terms. I found in this admittedly-unscientific, statistically-crude study that, if frequency of news stories are any indicator, Kerry-Edwards signs are being stolen in greater numbers across this God-fearing land.

     But not all political pranksters are Republican. Recently, a 32-year veteran of the Minnesota House of Representatives, Minneapolis DFLer Phyllis Kahn, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor theft for taking campaign brochures left on some New Hope doorsteps on behalf of Republican house member Lynne Osterman and replacing them with pieces from Osterman's DFL opponent, Sandra Peterson, whom Kahn is supporting. The district court judge ordered the apologetic and remorseful and embarrassed Kahn to pay $200 in prosecution costs but deferred imposing any other sentence for a year and will dismiss the misdemeanor case if Kahn commits no similar offense in the interim. (San Jose Mercury-News, 09.23.2004).

     Is this an appropriate disposition? I suppose it depends on one's position. Where one stands often depends on where one sits. I read recently that one municipality in another state was considering making political tampering an offense punishable by up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine. Since the offender in the Minnesota case was a Democratic legislator, it's conceivable that President Bush, the purported states'-righter with a penchant for federalizing crimes when it suits his whims, might advocate making it a federal offense. And since he is an advocate of the use of the death penalty (and anything else that will win him a few cheap votes) and since he never saw a death warrant he wasn't eager to sign as governor in Texas, it's conceivable he'd also support the death penalty for three-time political-tampering offenders, at least if the offenders interfered with the campaigns of Republican office-holders. I'm jesting, aren't I?

     My approach? As anyone who is familiar with my ill-fated Republican campaign for congress knows (click here), I'm out of sorts with the current politicization of crime, which Richard Nixon turned into a Republican art form, since copied by me-too Democrats. I'm one of those lone voices crying in the wilderness who unalterably opposes the death penalty and thinks in general we're way too tough on most criminals, opting for punishment and in the process abandoning the goal of rehabilitation in the search of as many cheap votes as possible. I think for once, however, we got it right: the sentence imposed on Rep. Kahn was entirely appropriate. Any harsher penalty would have been absurd.

     Want an example of absurdity in sentencing? I refer you to the case of Martha Stewart, who today begins an entirely inappropriate sentence to five-months in federal prison for violation of a law that should not even be on the books, the federal lying statute, that unjust, ill-used crime-creating, criminal-creating law that makes it a crime to lie to federal agents. I agree with the comments on this law in the New York Times on 03.07.2004 by my esteemed Harvard Law School classmate, noted Boston civil liberties lawyer Harvey Silverglate:

     'This...law is really a remarkable trap,' said Harvey Silverglate, a
criminal defense lawyer in Boston.
     People lie all the time to colleagues, friends and family, Mr. Silverglate
said, and unless they are legal experts they probably do not know that lying
to any federal investigator is illegal even if they are not under oath.
     And F.B.I. agents and other investigators usually do not tape-record their
conversations, so people can be convicted of making false statements based
only on an investigator's notes, which may not exactly reflect what was
     'Any casual conversation between a citizen and a person of the executive
branch is fraught with the possibility that you can be convicted of lying,'
Mr. Silverglate said. If the government wants to make sure it is being told
the truth, he added, it should put people under oath. 'That's why we have
perjury laws - because we tell people this time you're under a special
formal obligation to tell the truth,' he said. 'And by the way, you'll
notice it doesn't run in both directions, so a federal agent can lie to you,
can trick you, in order to get information.'

     Meanwhile, the President -- who misrepresented or distorted the truth in order to get Congress to grant him the authority to send troops to pre-emptively invade Iraq, a far-away country that represented no immediate or significant threat to our country -- probably will get re-elected. As Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., might say, "So it goes...."

 Saturday, 10.02.2004
      Sometimes the most revealing thing about a conversation is that which is left unsaid. I find it incredible that in the "conversation" among President Bush, Senator Kerry and Moderator Jim Lehrer the other night, no mention was made of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Indeed, the Bush Administration paid no real attention to that conflict before 09.11 and it has paid virtually no attention to it since 09.11. Nor has either President Bush or Senator Kerry paid any attention to it during the campaign. After all the hearings and entirely predictable reports and recommendations of reorganizations, the President and the Senator and the Press and the Members of Congress and the candidates for Congress continue to ignore the best and surest path to ending terroristic attacks on Americans -- frankly and specifically, making a full-fledged, good-faith effort to achieve a fair and lasting settlement of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. This conflict is the proverbial elephant in the room which nearly everyone, donkeys and elephants alike, can't or won't see.

      "You must have a subject," pleaded Mr. Scruby. "No young Member can do anything without a subject....[A] subject..., if it's well worked, may save you thousands of pounds -- thousands of pounds at future elections."

     "It won't save me anything at this one, I take it."

     "But it may secure the seat, Mr. Vavasor...."

     "But it never will be done."

     "What matters that?" and Mr. Scruby almost became eloquent as he explained the nature of a good parliamentary subject. "...Of course it won't be done. If it were done, that would be the end of it, and your bread would be taken out of your mouth. But you can always promise it at the hustings, and can always demand it in the House. I've known men who've walked into...[a] permanent place, on the strength of a...subject...!"

From "The Election for the Chelsea Districts" in Can You Forgive Her? (1864-65), the first of the six Palliser novels by Anthony Trollope.

 Monday, 09.27.2004

      Mr. Scruby's role in the fictional campaign of George Vavasor to get elected to the House of Commons is the 19th century equivalent of the role of Karl Rove in the campaign to get President Bush and his me-too followers in Congress elected. A key difference is that Rove has had to come up with multiple "subjects" -- hot-button issues -- in order to satisfy each of the constituencies being courted. A key similarity is that Rove & Co., like Mr. Scruby, care little that many of their promises "never will be done," that is, that they never will take the form of law. The point is "promis[ing] it at the hustings" and "demand[ing] it in the House."

     So it is that on a number of occasions this summer Rove & Co. have manipulated their puppets in the House to bring to a vote a number of proposals to strip the federal courts of jurisdiction to hear and decide certain specific issues.

     One example is the recent "attempt" by the Republican majority in the House to remove the jurisdiction of the federal courts to pass on the constitutional validity of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act. The proposal passed in the House, of course, but did not pass in the Senate. Rove & Co. knew in advance that the bill would not become law but that didn't matter. What mattered was forcing Democrats who opposed it to vote against it, thereby allowing their opponents in the general election to use their no votes against them.
     Last week the Republicans in the House "attempted" once again to remove the jurisdiction of the federal courts to pass on an issue, this time on the constitutional validity of the "under God" clause of the Pledge of Allegiance, an issue the U.S. Supreme Court avoided deciding, on technical grounds, earlier this year.
     Another such proposal, which has not yet been put to a vote, is that of a Florida Republican representative who wants the House to pass a resolution expressing the opinion of the House that the Supreme Court not cite any decisions of courts of foreign jurisdictions, even for illustrative purposes, something the Court rarely has done.
     As I said in my failed primary campaign against Rep. Jim Ramstad, the Republican incumbent in Minnesota's third congressional district, who voted for both jurisdiction-stripping bills, these bills are not "conservative." To be conservative is above all to support the wonderful constitutional framework, including the separation of powers of the three branches of government, that has served us so well for more than 200 years. Even former U. S. Rep. Bob Barr, the right-wing Republican who led the effort to impeach President Clinton, called the bill relating to the Defense of Marriage Act "dangerous." As the Seattle Post-Intelligencer pointed out in an editorial on 07.26.2004 regarding that bill, "Barr, a prominent gun-control opponent, surely recognizes that if Congress starts limiting court jurisdiction, it will soon be doing so whenever it is politically convenient, such as on Second Amendment issues."
     Indeed, a good test of the fairness and propriety of any political tactic one is considering using against an opponent is whether one would cry foul if one's opponent used the same tactic. If a Republican majority can legislatively strip the federal courts of jurisdiction to decide the constitutional validity of, say, the Defense of Marriage Act, then who is to say that a later Democrat majority cannot legislatively strip the federal courts of jurisdiction to decide the constitutional validity of, say, a law more strictly regulating the sale of firearms?
     The following relevant opinion piece from Justice at Stake is worth reprinting here:
Congress periodically engages in such “court-stripping,” often to punish the courts for particular rulings on hot-button social issues:

• After the Supreme Court’s 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision that school segregation violated the Constitution, furious lawmakers sought to exempt federal courts from ruling on public education laws.

• During the 1960s and 1970s, issues like the draft, Miranda warnings, busing, school prayer and abortion sparked efforts to cut the courts’ power to hold laws up to the standards of our Constitution.

• In the 1990s, Congress passed legislation curbing judicial review in cases involving the death penalty, asylum, deportation, and prison conditions.

• The 2001 Patriot Act reduced judicial discretion to review law enforcement efforts to detain suspects, monitor private Internet communications, obtain certain personal records and share wiretaps with intelligence agencies.

• Last year’s “Feeney Amendment” sharply limited the ability of federal judges to issue sentences below federal guidelines in many criminal cases.

There’s no shortage of new proposals....The “Constitution Restoration Act” would deny federal courts the power to hear any suit involving a governmental official’s “acknowledgment of God as the sovereign source of law, liberty, or government.” (For good measure, any judge caught exceeding his or her jurisdiction could be impeached.)  Another measure would allow Congress to reverse any Supreme Court decision that struck down a law on constitutional grounds -- lowering the curtain on two centuries of judicial review.

Of course, judges are useful election-year targets: they have to make unpopular decisions and they don’t fight back on cable talk shows.  Indeed, some lawmakers have begun to talk more openly of impeaching judges they don’t like.
Courts shouldn’t be immune from criticism and controversy.  But our founders gave judges a special job -- to protect the Constitution, and decide cases based on the facts and the law, not pressure and politics.  Tearing down the courts that protect our rights can only weaken the American judicial system that Chief Justice William Rehnquist calls the “crown jewel” of our democracy.

     Those who believe strongly, as I do, in keeping our federal courts free of these kinds of attempts to interfere with their independence might be interested in reading a review by Yitzchok A. Breitowitz, assistant professor of law at the University of Maryland and Rabbi of the Woodside Synagogue in Silver Spring, of Hitler's Justice: The Courts of the Third Reich, by Ingo Muller (Harvard Press 1991). His review states in part:

...Muller paints a terrifying portrait of a judicial and administrative system where legal niceties are at least occasionally observed but where decency and justice have ceased to exist -- a nightmarish caricature of law without moral value. Legalization of euthanasia and sterilization, the creation of concentration camps, the ruthless crushing of political opposition, the cancerous growth of racist and anti-semitic laws labelling Jews as civilly-dead are introduced in rapid succession with nary a word of protest from the lawyers and judges who then proceed to apply the laws as routinely as one would apply some technical provision of the Internal Revenue Code. The death penalty was meted out for even trivial offenses if the State (read: judge, read: the Nazi party) regarded the offense as undermining the security of the state" or the purity of the Aryan race. Thus, Leo Katzenberger was executed for merely maintaining a friendship with a German female tenant...

Where the Nazi regime could not obtain its desired results through the official judicial system, it simply created special courts not subject even on paper to the minimal constraints of due process. The most infamous of these was the People's Court specializing in expeditious justice against those who questioned the wisdom of the Fuehrer (even if the "attack" was nothing more than a casual comment made over the dinner table). When all else failed -- and for some reason an accused was acquitted, the doctrine of preventive detention allowed for his immediate rearrest by the Gestapo on no legal grounds at all. We read in astonishment that the Gestapo would often arrest a person in the very courtroom in which he had just been acquitted.

     For the record, Minnesota's Republican representatives (Gutknecht, Kennedy, Kline and Ramstad), joined by Democrat Collin Peterson, voted for both of the Republicans' jurisdiction-stripping bills, whereas the other three Democrat Representatives (McCollom, Oberstar and Sabo) voted against both bills.

     Incidentally, Rep. Ramstad is a law school graduate who has gained a reputation as a "moderate" within the party. One would think he would have had the courage to defend the courts against these partisan, blatantly unconstitutional and, I think, un-American attempts to legislatively subvert our constitutional system. But then, perhaps (I'm speculating) he hopes to get the party's nod to run against Senator Dayton in two years and wants to insulate himself from any suggestion by the party's current extreme right-wing ideological core that he isn't Republican enough to get the endorsement. Alas, his standing up to Rove & Co. would have required that he exercise what the great William James referred to as "that lonely kind of courage...civic courage...the kind of valor to which the monuments of nations should most of all be reared" (more). Instead, to paraphrase a New York Times editorial on 09.24.2004, in the guise of "protect[ing]" a couple words in "a patriotic ritual" he voted to "trash[ ] the constitutional system [that ritual] celebrates."

      I was a freshman in law school. In a few years I would be out in practice. I was well aware of the importance of the right kind of wife in furthering a lawyer's career. The successful lawyers I had observed were, almost without exception, married to beautiful, gracious, intelligent women. With one omission, Polly fitted these specifications perfectly.

     Beautiful she was. She was not yet of pin-up proportions, but I felt that time would supply the lack. She already had the makings.

     Gracious she was. By gracious I mean full of graces. She had an erectness of carriage, an ease of bearing, a poise that clearly indicated the best of breeding. At table her manners were exquisite. I had seen her at the Kozy Kampus Korner eating the specialty of the house - a sandwich that contained scraps of pot roast, gravy, chopped nuts, and a dipper of sauerkraut -- without even getting her fingers moist.

     Intelligent she was not. In fact, she veered in the opposite direction. But I believed that under my guidance she would smarten up. At any rate, it was worth a try. It is, after all, easier to make a beautiful dumb girl smart than to make an ugly smart girl beautiful.

From Love is a Fallacy, a 1951 short story by Minnesota's own Max Shulman (1919-1988).

 Thursday, 09.24.2004

      Have you seen the slick ad Mark Kennedy, incumbent 6th Congressional District Republican, is running in the general election contest with Patty Wetterling, the DFLer.? The ad, which is summarized and analyzed in this piece in the San Jose Mercury News, begins with the narrator saying, "In Congress, Mark Kennedy helps create jobs." Then Kennedy appears, saying, "When I took office [in January of 2001], the economy was in tough shape, but it's coming back strong. I've worked hard to create jobs." By the logic of that line, Kennedy's opponent could say, "When Mark Kennedy took office, we were at peace, but now we're engaged in a seemingly endless war."

     I have often thought that our high schools could do a better job introducing students to the various ways in which politicians and advertisers and other seducers lie with statistics and use logical fallacies and loaded words to persuade.

     If you missed out on all that in high school or college, a good place to acquaint yourself with the logical fallacies is at the index to the logical fallacies, which is a section at Stephen's Guide to the Logical Fallacies. A good introduction to the way these seducers misuse statistics is Darrell Huff's How to Lie With Statistics, which has been in print since the 1954.

     I spent my freshman year in college at S.M.U., Laura Bush's alma mater, in Dallas, Texas.* I took freshman English there from a beautiful woman in her 20's, Elizabeth Breeland Rogers. As an aside, it is a shocking comment on our educational culture at the time that "Mrs. Rogers," as we called her, is the only female teacher that I had in my six years of higher education -- in other words, in my year at S.M.U. (where, to my delight, women outnumbered men in the student body), in my two years at the University of Minnesota (where, in completing my undergraduate education, I was blissfully unaware of the male-female ratio), and in my three years at Harvard Law School (where, sadly, only about 5% of my classmates were women).

     One of the required readings in Mrs. Rogers' freshman English was Love is a Fallacy, the above-excerpted 1951 short story by Minnesota's own Max Shulman, of Dobie Gillis-fame.  In the story the narrator, a freshman law student at the University of Minnesota, believing that every successful lawyer must have a "beautiful, gracious, intelligent" wife, strikes a Devil's bargain with his "dumb" roommate, Petey Bellows, buying him a racoon coat in exchange for dibs on Petey's "beautiful" and "gracious" but not "intelligent" girl friend, Polly Espy. The narrator's reasoning (this is before the days of "extreme makeovers") is that "It is, after all, easier to make a beautiful dumb girl smart than to make an ugly smart girl beautiful."

The narrator proceeds to teach her all the so-called "logical fallacies," including "hasty generalization," "post hoc," and "contradictory premises." After "five grueling nights" of teaching her logic, he concludes that his mission is accomplished:

My job was done. She was worthy of me at last. She was a fit wife for me, a proper hostess for my many mansions, a suitable mother for my well-heeled children.

The time has come, he concludes, "to change our relationship from academic to romantic." He starts his wooing by saying, "We have gotten along splendidly. It is clear that we are well matched." She replies, "Hasty generalization." To each of his attempts at verbally seducing her, she parries by pointing out the specific logical fallacy used in the attempt. When she says that she has decided to go steady with Petey, he replies, "You can't go with him, Polly. He's a liar. He's a cheat. He's a rat." She replies, "Poisoning the well." Finally, exasperated, he asks her for one logical reason why she has decided to go steady with Petey. She replies, "I certainly can. He's got a racoon coat."

     "Love is a Fallacy" still enjoys widespread use in college English courses. At the University of Texas it's used in a course titled The Rhetoric of Love and Seduction! Among the "texts" used in the course are: Gorgias, Encomium of Helen (ca. 414 BCE), Andreas, The Art of Courtly Love (12th Century), and the movie Casablanca (1942) -- as well as "Love is a Fallacy."

Vaguelly apropos of what I'm getting at, Maureen Dowd, the Pulitzer-prize-winning columnist, writes in her column in today's New York Times:

     The administration rolled the Democrats on the authorization vote. It was clear at the time that going after Saddam to punish Osama made no sense, that Cheney & Co. were going to use Saddam as a lab rat for all their old neocon agendas. It was clear, as the fleet sailed toward Iraq, that the Bush crew had no interest in diplomacy -- that it wanted to castrate the flaccid U.N., the flower child Colin Powell and his pinstriped State Department, snotty Old Europe, and the despised Saddam to show that America is a hyperpower that is not to be messed with.
     As I quoted a girlfriend saying in September 2002, a month before Mr. Kerry's authorization vote, "Bush is like the guy who reserves a hotel room and asks you to the prom."

     President Bush got the girl as far as the prom, but like the young law student in "Love is a Fallacy," he licked his proverbial chops too early. Things have not gone prettily in the hotel room that is Iraq.

     It is a truism that one can get away with roguish behavior only so long before one gets discovered. But, as we proved in 1996, we sometimes re-elect known rogues, if somehow they are "loveable rogues." In my book, a rogue stops being loveable when his schemes and shananigans start ruining other people's lives. But I won't be surprised if "we" nonetheless re-elect that loveable rogue, George Bush.

     * Note: For what it's worth, in my nine months at S.M.U., I came to believe that there was a certain "S.M.U.-type of woman." Laura Bush fits the stereotype, and I feel that in some sense I know her.

 Monday, 09.20.2004
      I picked up a number of $1.00 and $2.00 books at Half-Price Books in St. Louis Park and in Highland Park at their 20%-off sale over the weekend. One of the books I bought was I Trust to Be Believed, a collection, published earlier this year, of speeches by that grand old fellow of the Minnesota Grand Old Party, former Gov. Elmer L. Andersen, who still tells it like it is at age 95.
     I first met him in the fall of 1960 at a dinner at the Campus Club in Coffman Union at the University of Minnesota held in honor of Gov. Nelson A. Rockefeller of New York, who was in town to give an address that evening at Northrop Auditorium in support of Richard Nixon's candidacy against Senator Kennedy. That's Mr. Andersen to Rocky's left in the picture of Rocky & me shaking hands. I was a senior in high school at the time.
     I always thought Andersen was a good governor, but I think he's been an even better ex-governor. Like Justice Holmes, he has always believed that it is with the taxes we pay that we "buy civilization." Indeed, it was Tim Pawlenty's campaign promise not to raise taxes if elected governor that prompted Mr. Andersen to withhold his endorsement from him in 2002 (see, infra, Coleman interview).
     Mr. Andersen believes, as I do, that the Republican party ain't the party it used to be, and he hasn't been reticent about saying so. Like me, he was an early opponent of President George W. Bush's decision to unilaterally and pre-emptively invade Iraq on the flimsiest of "evidence." As he put it in February of 2003 in an interview with Nick Coleman in the Pioneer-Press, "Iraq is a foolhardy venture. It's wrong for the U.S. to make a pre-emptive strike. It's not our country's way to start wars. For us to embark on a solo course of war is out of character for our country."
     Lori Sturdevant, who edited the collection of speeches, posted a piece dateline 08.29.2004 in the Star-Tribune under the headline, "Old-guard GOP moderates are facing a tough choice." She quotes Andersen as calling the Iraq war a "mistake, entered into under false information." Andersen told her, "The Republican Party is not the progressive engine that I was associated with," and said, "I'm going to vote for John Kerry."

Copyright (c) 2000 by Burton Randall Hanson.
E-mail: BurtonHanson@BurtonHanson.com.