Dave Denison

Recent Articles

Living with Oswald

Mrs. Paine's Garage and the Murder of John F. Kennedy By Thomas Mallon. Pantheon, 224 pages, $22.00 W hy did Mrs. Ruth Paine of Irving, Texas, make the notation "LHO purchase of rifle" on the March 1963 page of her Hallmark pocket calendar? Soon enough, everyone would find out that LHO was Lee Harvey Oswald. But how and why would an unassuming mother of two young children in a Dallas suburb know, eight months before the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, that Oswald had purchased a rifle? Could she have been in on the plot? Consider the incriminating evidence: In the spring and fall of 1963, she gave free room and board to Oswald's Russian-born wife, Marina. She made the crucial phone call that helped the almost unemployable Oswald get a job at the Texas School Book Depository warehouse. It was her garage that stored LHO's Mannlicher-Carcano rifle until the morning of November 22. And after the fateful shots rang out from the sixth floor of the warehouse that day, and after...

Statehouse Subversion

I n the mid-1990s, a group of liberal activists, with the support of a few wealthy donors, developed a new strategy to reduce the power of money in national politics. Let's not waste so much energy trying to get minor reforms through Congress, they reasoned. Let's take the battle to the states and push for something meaningful, something that could really change the way campaigns and elections are conducted. The idea was public financing: a system that would make government money available to qualified candidates, freeing them from groveling for contributions. The plan was to start in states with a tradition of reform--places like Maine, Vermont, and Massachusetts--where people can still exert some influence on their legislatures. It was an idea that made sense, states being the laboratories of democracy, and all that. And it started out well, with Maine and Vermont--and, later, even Arizona--enacting "clean elections" laws. But there has turned out to be a large fly--more like a...

Political Meatballs

In the world of political campaign advertising, there is nothing sweeter than coming up with an ad that is so clever or outrageous it gets free publicity. Ralph Nader hit the jackpot in the fall campaign with his spot that parodied MasterCard's "priceless" commercial . Nader's campaign even ended up getting sued by the credit card company (a federal judge refused to order the ad off the air, it turned out). When wit isn't an option, though, the reliable approach is to see how low you can go. A tiny conservative group in Texas made national news in October with a remake of the famous 1964 anti-Goldwater "daisy ad," in which a girl pulls petals off a flower in a countdown to doomsday. In this case, the message was that Al Gore would blow up the earth by dealing in nuclear secrets with China. The competition for the cheesiest and sleaziest ads of the season was intense. Two nominations: First, "Meatball," by the Patrick Buchanan...

Who Let the Liberals Out?

Don't buy into the mainstream media's propaganda about how the recent transfer of power in Washington was remarkable for its lack of violence. That ignores the mobs of bloodthirsty liberals rampaging through the nation's capital, ready to hoist the heads of innocent conservatives on newly sharpened pikes. Or at least that's how the sensitive souls on the right see things. It's not just that mean liberals are hurting people's feelings. They're out for blood. The violence started even before George W. Bush's inauguration, when liberals went after Linda Chavez, his choice for labor secretary. "I think they smell blood in the water, and I think they got her scalp a little too easily," conservative activist Paul Weyrich told The New York Times after Chavez stepped down because she was found out to be too kind to immigrants. To Chavez it was more like an execution than a scalping: "There were a lot of people gunning for me because of my views, and in not being more...

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