Archive for July, 2004

July 31, 2004

HERE’S SOMEBODY who enjoyed listening to Kerry’s speech more than anyone I know. Of course, there may be an explanation for that.

July 31, 2004

I WAS FOR THE DRAFT BEFORE I WAS AGAINST IT! Rep. Jim McDermott is warning teenagers that Bush plans to renew the draft even as he himself is sponsoring legislation to reinstate the draft. (Via Forest for the Trees).

July 31, 2004

UNSCAM UPDATE: Claudia Rosett looks at evidence that oil-for-food money went to Osama.

Why not? Look where else it was going.

July 31, 2004

MORE ON DARFUR, from the Washington Post.

July 31, 2004

HEH: More non-photoshop photo fun.

July 31, 2004

TRAFFIC: July sets a record, with over 4.3 million pageviews. Note the dip in June, though — is this what I get for taking a vacation?

It was worth it.

July 31, 2004

I STILL HAVEN’T READ the 11th Circuit’s opinion upholding Alabama’s dumb anti-sex-toy law, but AmazonChyk’s takedown is pretty scathing: “Far be it for me to postulate as to why the Alabama legislature would pass such an inane law. Perhaps they were concerned that residents of the state were having better sex lives than they were. Or perhaps some members of the Alabama legislature felt they couldn’t compete with the Rabbit.”

There was some effort to pass such a law in Tennessee, but a group called “Well Endowed Tennesseans” made a similar argument impugning the manhood of Tennessee legislators, and once the morning-drive DJ’s picked it up the law was laughed down. Appropriately enough.

UPDATE: Diligent archive research has produced a copy of one of the W.E.T. press releases, which can be read by clicking on “more.”

Continue reading ‘I STILL HAVEN’T READ the 11th Circuit’s opinion upholding Alabama’s dumb anti-sex-toy law, but Amazo…’ »

July 31, 2004

POLETOWN OVERRULED:

Reversing more than two decades of land-use law, the Michigan Supreme Court late Friday overturned its own landmark 1981 Poletown decision and sharply restricted governments such as Detroit and Wayne County from seizing private land to give to other private users.

The unanimous decision is a decisive victory for property owners who object to the government seizing their land, only to give it to another private owner to build stadiums, theaters, factories, housing subdivisions and other economic development projects the government deems worthwhile. . . .

In the original Poletown ruling, the court allowed the City of Detroit to seize private homes and businesses on the east side so General Motors Corp. could build an auto factory. The bitterly contested seizures and the court’s ruling in favor of the city had national implications and led to similar rulings elsewhere.

Thousands of homes and dozens of churches and private businesses were bulldozed in Detroit’s former Poletown neighborhood to make way for the GM plant.

In Friday’s decision, known as Wayne County v. Hathcock after one of the landowners in the case, the court ruled that the sweeping powers to seize private land granted in the 1981 Poletown case violated the state’s 1963 constitution.

Howard Bashman has lots more, natch.

July 31, 2004

KERRY MARINE PHOTO OP MISFIRES:

July 31, 2004 — SCRANTON, Pa. — John Kerry’s heavily hyped cross-country bus tour stumbled out of the blocks yesterday, as a group of Marines publicly dissed the Vietnam War hero in the middle of a crowded restaurant.

Kerry was treating running mate Sen. John Edwards and his wife, Elizabeth, to a Wendy’s lunch in Newburgh, N.Y., for their 27th wedding anniversary — an Edwards family tradition — when the candidate approached four Marines and asked them questions.

The Marines — two in uniform and two off-duty — were polite but curt while chatting with Kerry, answering most of his questions with a “yes, sir” or “no, sir.” . . .

“He imposed on us and I disagree with him coming over here shaking our hands,” one Marine said, adding, “I’m 100 percent against [him].”

A sergeant with 10 years of service under his belt said, “I speak for all of us. We think that we are doing the right thing in Iraq,” before saying he is to be deployed there in a few weeks and is “eager” to go and serve.

Ouch. The Kerry campaign will probably blame this on dirty tricks by, er, someone.

UPDATE: Caption contest here, at The Mudville Gazette. (Here’s the Reuters link.)

ANOTHER UPDATE: More here. (Via Bros. Judd).

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Patterico notes that The Los Angeles Times is presenting an airbrushed version of the story: “Let’s recap. John Kerry tries to get a photo-op with some soldiers, and it backfires, badly, with the soldiers expressing resentment at having been used. But that’s not news. Meanwhile, one boy was holding an anti-Bush sign along Bush’s campaign trail — and that’s news. Business as usual at the objective and non-liberal L.A. Times.”

The L.A. Times also omits this bit: “Edwards and his wife had hearty meals of burgers and fries and shared a chocolate Frosty. Teresa Heinz Kerry pointed at a picture of chili on the menu and asked the cashier what it was before ordering a bowl.”

Somehow, I think similar ignorance on the part of a Bush would get more attention — even if it never happened.

July 31, 2004

LOVE, PEACE, AND GREASE:

Customs and Excise is investigating a British link to the multi-million pound corruption scandal surrounding the oil-for-food programme which operated under Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq.

Money was allegedly siphoned off from the scheme to fund pressure groups which campaigned against international sanctions against Saddam’s regime.

The campaigns were backed by MPs including George Galloway, the independent MP for Glasgow Kelvin, who was expelled by the Labour Party. There is no suggestion that any British MPs profited personally or knew about the alleged corruption.

Certainly not. Related UNSCAM story here.

July 31, 2004

DARFUR UPDATE:

There is a school of thought that argues that by the time the United Nations Security Council applies its attention to a crisis anywhere in the world, that crisis will already be out of hand, or the moment to intervene effectively will have passed. That is an argument that is particularly apposite in relation to what is going on in Darfur. The same school of thought also contends that when the UN does finally accept that something must be done, it will do the wrong thing, and do it so slowly that it merely compounds an already hopeless situation. And here we have Darfur again. Given the opportunity to act firmly and decisively, for once to present a united front to face down an aggressor and to protect those who cannot defend themselves, the UN has chosen the path of least resistance. It has shied away from using its power for good in favour of mealy-mouthed attitudes and toothless threats of some future, ill-defined, approbation.

Indeed. (Via Newsfeed).

July 30, 2004

CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS says that John Kerry got it wrong about firehouses. “Solidarity and internationalism, indeed, used to be the cement of the democratic Left. So, do we understand the nominee correctly? Is he telling us that Iraqi firefighters are parasites sucking on the American tit, and that they don’t deserve the supportive brotherhood that used to be the proudest signature of the labor movement?”

July 30, 2004

GROVER NORQUIST is looking bad.

July 30, 2004

THE DEMOCRATIC LEADERSHIP COUNCIL has published an article, which I somehow missed, on “Michael Moore’s Truth Problem.”

And there you have the essential Moore — a worldview of America as a failed project and an abiding danger to the planet. No wonder they so love Moore abroad: His is a 1960s vision, hardened in the pre-NAFTA plant closings of the 1980s, of a nation hijacked by the suits, the very guys who for decades gave Moore’s father a good job at General Motors. It’s from this posture that all the Moorean invective flows.

Full of hateful fiction, Michael Moore’s work is the Turner Diaries of the left, and it’s likely to have a similar consequence. (Via ChicagoBoyz).

UPDATE: Read this, too. Maybe he’s more like a domestic Lord Haw-Haw?

ANOTHER UPDATE: With maybe a touch of Jayson Blair:

The (Bloomington) Pantagraph newspaper in central Illinois has sent a letter to Moore and his production company, Lions Gate Entertainment Corp., asking Moore to apologize for using what the newspaper says was a doctored front page in the film, the paper reported Friday.

Michael Moore — lying? Imagine that. Heck, even Der Spiegel is down on him for dishonesty, and says his words are “like bombs.” Indeed. Funny how the people who were denouncing “hate speech” in the 1990s aren’t after Moore’s 21st Century diatribes against the Zionist Occupation Government.

STILL MORE: A reader writes: “From reading you I thought you were a Constitutional law professor who would understand that people like Moore can criticize the USA without being labeled as one who hates it.”

Actually, the First Amendment provides no protection against being “labeled” as anything. Characterizing Moore’s speech as anti-American is free speech, too. And it’s accurate free speech, I think.

It’s funny that a lot of people seem to feel that the First Amendment embodies a substantive preference in favor of anti-American speech. But it doesn’t.

July 30, 2004

RICH GET POORER, MIDDLE CLASS GETS RICHER? Those are the Bush economic results, according to EconoPundit Steven Antler and data from the IRS.

Of course, that’s not quite how the New York Times reports it.

July 30, 2004

YES-NO-MAYBE: Donald Sensing tries to untangle Kerry’s views on preemption.

July 30, 2004

LAWRENCE KAPLAN ON KERRY, at TNR — I agree with Tom Maguire that his analysis is “brutal.”

Maguire’s own analysis seems kinder only by comparison.

UPDATE: Tom Oliphant didn’t like it, either. “Kerry stepped on his best thoughts and lines and blurred important proposals and distinctions, committing the sin of interfering with his own ability to communicate with an electorate eager to learn much more about President Bush’s opponent.”

ANOTHER UPDATE: Andrew Sullivan: “The truth is: Biden and Lieberman and Edwards and even Obama were more ressuring on the war than Kerry was. Given how important it is for Kerry to burnish his war credentials and how deeply resistant he was to embrace the war in his acceptance speech, I think the candidate has told us roughly where he stands.”

And I neglected to mention Virginia Postrel’s take:

Well, that speech certainly reminded me why I’m not voting for John Kerry. Contrary to much of the rest of the convention, it was a red-meat speech, complete with “Bush lied” rhetoric, pharmaceutical-company bashing, xenophobic talk about outsourcing, and a promise to make health care “a right.” Aside from the much-remarked-upon flag-waving-veteran talk, the speech was mostly made up of (in Kerry’s anti-GOP words) “narrow appeals masquerading as values.” Better a tongue-tied president than a demagogue.

Kerry’s lucky that she wasn’t on TV last night.

Greg Djerejian observes:

Still, would the Dems (most of whom voted for the war, including Kerry) have done it better? . . .

Oh, and let’s be clear. That extra 40,000 troops? Not a single one, emphasis added above and, indeed, in the speech, are heading Baghdad way. Just in case anyone got some crazy idea…But what, heaven forbid, if they were needed there? Non-starter, it would seem. Another indication that faux-realism in Iraq is code for let’s get out sooner rather than later.

Indeed. Why is “realism” never a synonym for “doing the job right?”

STILL MORE: Ouch: “It may well be true that, as a number of pundits have claimed, Kerry gave the best goddamned speech of his career last night. But that’s a little like saying Yoko Ono’s latest CD is her best-ever.”

July 30, 2004

ZEYAD IS BACK, after a lengthy blog hiatus, and posts links to lots of new Iraqi blogs.

July 30, 2004

AL JAZEERA is reporting that Zarqawi has been captured. We’ve heard that quite a few times before, so I think I’ll wait for some more substantial confirmation. If true, it was certainly considerate of the Bush Administration to wait until after Kerry had a chance to deliver his speech, and I hope he’ll thank them for their generosity in terms of the timing. . . .

UPDATE: A reader suggests that — given the quality of Kerry’s speech — an arrest of Zarqawi that didn’t distract people from its delivery is proof of Bush Administration conniving. Hmm. Not entirely implausible. . . .

ANOTHER UPDATE: Michele Catalano, who knows all, emails that AlJazeera.com is not connected with the Al Jazeera TV network, and that it’s quite unreliable. Given that we haven’t heard more about this, I’m pretty sure it’s bogus.

July 30, 2004

WE HAVE A WINNER, in the Bush Twins Photo Caption Contest over at my evil twin’s site.

July 30, 2004

MICHAEL TOTTEN is back from Africa, and blogging away.

July 30, 2004

DAVID APPELL says that the convention bloggers mostly failed. I guess the question is, “compared to what?”

July 30, 2004

MORE PHOTO FUN: And without photoshop!

July 30, 2004

THAT WHICH MUST NOT BE NAMED: Geitner Simmons notes that the Democratic Leadership Council is tiptoeing around protectionist talk from Kerry and Edwards.

July 30, 2004

GEORGE MILLER IS RATHER CRITICAL of Kerry:

The sum total of what Kerry knows about “what we have to do in Iraq” amounts to no more than this: Kerry would be nicer to “allies” who try to thwart the democratisation of the Arab world and he would cut costs and get the troops home as soon as possible. Kerry might have more foreign policy ideas up his sleeve, but these were the only words he had to say on Iraq in his entire speech last night.

Kerry was unable to actually articulate what the “job” in Iraq is. He wants to talk about strategy while leaving the objectives nice and fuzzy.

Indeed. Quite a few people seem to have noticed that.

UPDATE: Gerard Van der Leun emails:

He can’t articulate it because the “job” to be done in Iraq is what is now actually being done in Iraq.

You know this I know, but I’m just saying.

Well, yeah.

July 30, 2004

BUSH’S SPEECH IN SPRINGFIELD TODAY addresses the war issue:

The world changed on a terrible September morning. And since that day, we’ve changed the world.

Before September the 11th, Afghanistan served as the home base for Al Qaida, which trained and deployed thousands of killers to set up terror cells in dozens of countries, including our own. Today, Afghanistan is a rising democracy, an ally in the war on terror, a place where many young girls go to school for the first time. And as a result of our actions, America and the world are safer.

Before September the 11th, Pakistan was a safe transit point for terrorists. Today, Pakistani forces are aggressively helping to round up the terrorists and America and the world are safer.

Before September the 11th, in Saudi Arabia, terrorists were raising money and recruiting and operating with little opposition. Today, the Saudi government has taken the fight to Al Qaida and America and the world are safer.

Before September the 11th, Libya was spending millions to acquire weapons of mass destruction. Today, because America and our allies have sent a strong and clear message, the leader of Libya has abandoned his pursuit of weapons of mass destruction and America and the world are safer.

Before September the 11th, the ruler of Iraq was a sworn enemy of America.

BUSH: He was defying the world. He was firing weapons at American pilots and forcing the world’s sanctions. He had pursued and used weapons of mass destruction against his own people. He had harbored terrorists. He invaded his neighbors. He subsidized the families of suicide bombers. He had murdered tens of thousands of his own citizens. He was a source of great instability in the world’s most vulnerable region.

I took those threats seriously. After September the 11th, we had to look at the threats in a new light. One of the lessons of September the 11th is we must deal with threats before they fully materialize.

The September the 11th commission concluded that our institutions of government had failed to imagine the horror of that day. After September the 11th, we cannot fail to imagine that a brutal tyrant, who hated America, who had ties to terror, had weapons of mass destruction and might use those weapons or share his deadly capability with terrorists was not a threat.

We looked at the intelligence. We saw a threat. Members of the United States Congress from both political parties, including my opponent, looked at the intelligence and they saw a threat.

Read the whole thing. (Via Blogged and Dangerous).

July 30, 2004

PARANOIA strikes deep.

July 30, 2004

MY MISERABLE FAILURE in not linking to the Carnival of the Vanities yesterday has now been remedied. Lots of cool posts from many different bloggers.

July 30, 2004

HERE’S A REPORT that Sandy Berger has been cleared of all wrongdoing. But here’s another report saying that the first report is wrong. Which is true? Beats me. Stay tuned.

UPDATE: Reader Edward Baer emails:

If the first report was correct, what are we to make of Berger’s previous statement that several documents that had inadvertently been removed by him had subsequently been inadvertently discarded? Was he lying about taking them, returning them or discarding them? Also, there is nothing in here about his breach of the rules in sneaking out his handwritten notes or about making prohibited cel phone calls from a secure room.

Beats me, but I’m sure it will all be made clear eventually.

July 30, 2004

TACITUS expresses further skepticism regarding the effect of Kerry’s speech: “It is when we turn to the NYT lead editorial on the same topic that we start to see that WaPo’s piece is not an outlier, but indicative of a broader problem with Kerry’s remarks, the Democratic National Convention, and the campaign itself.”

July 30, 2004

“FRANCE A PROBLEM FOR EUROPE:”

Monti’s inflexibility in applying EU rules has inspired fear. Nicknamed “Super Mario” for bending US giants Microsoft and General Electric to his will, he also drew the ire of French and German political and business leaders for making them hand back state aid, deemed illegal under EU competition rules. . . .

He is particularly scathing of France, which he scores for favouring the short-term interests of some big national companies to the detriment of EU economic development in general.

“France has become a problem for itself and for Europe. It cannot handle its successes, and often it doesn’t see them, and attributes its setbacks, which are often imaginary, to Europe.” . . .

And Monti believes the Berlusconi government has been too compliant in its dealings with France and Germany. “There’s no point in doing favours which will not be returned, to win the sympathy of the powerful.”

Somebody arrange a meeting with John Kerry.

July 30, 2004

WEIRD: Earlier I linked to an ABC story about suggested mob connections regarding Hollywood moneyman Stephen Bing. Now when you follow the link you get a “content not available” page — though the link and synopsis for the story still shows up when you search “Stephen Bing” on the ABC site.

This either means that the story has been pulled because it contains errors, or because somebody persuaded ABC to pull it for other reasons. Since ABC doesn’t say, we can only speculate.

UPDATE: Here’s more on Bing from The Independent:

One of the Democrats’ biggest contributors is Hollywood producer Steve Bing, the ungentlemanly cad who impregnated poor English rose Liz Hurley and didn’t do the decent thing . Bing has been more than generous to the Democrats however, contributing $16m. But law enforcement officials have told ABC News that Bing is a friend and business partner of Dominic Montemarano, a New York Mafia figure currently in prison on racketeering charges. Montemarano is better known by his street name Donnie Shacks. No word yet from Bing.

And no word, anymore, from ABC. Perhaps there’s nothing to this story, though you have to worry. And surely any normal man with would want to take credit for impregnating Liz Hurley, regardless of the truth. . . .

MORE: Here’s another report on Bing’s alleged mob connections from the Post.

July 30, 2004

JOSHUA CLAYBOURN: “My question is rather simple: From here on out, what would Kerry do differently in Iraq?”

I was hoping to hear that question answered last night. But as the Washington Post observes:

Mr. Kerry therefore sought above all to make the case that he could be trusted to lead a nation at war, and rightly so; he and Mr. Bush must be judged first and foremost on those grounds. But on that basis, though Mr. Kerry spoke confidently and eloquently, his speech was in many respects a disappointment.

The responsibility of sending troops into danger should weigh on a commander in chief. But so must the responsibility of protecting the nation against a shadowy foe not easily deterred by traditional means. Mr. Kerry last night elided the charged question of whether, as president, he would have gone to war in Iraq. He offered not a word to celebrate the freeing of Afghans from the Taliban, or Iraqis from Saddam Hussein, and not a word about helping either nation toward democracy. . . .

Nor did Mr. Kerry’s statements about future threats do justice to the complexity of today’s challenge. . . . Mr. Kerry missed an opportunity for straight talk.

I agree. Meanwhile, Holman Jenkins observes: “It’s no secret a great many Democrats are skeptical of Mr. Kerry. These are exactly the Democrats now arguing that he can win by signaling to voters an end to America’s exertions, an end to drama, a time of rest. That’s the real message of Mr. Kerry’s constant invoking of Vietnam. That’s the real strength of his campaign: I was daring and adventurous then, and had my fill.”

July 30, 2004

IS RUSSIA THE NEXT ZIMBABWE?

But the destruction of Yukos is about more than a rich, arrogant jerk getting his deserts and investors in one of the world’s riskiest stock markets getting burned. At stake is the direction of Russia’s ongoing experiment with its unique brand of post-Soviet capitalism and whether the privatization process that forms the foundation of Russia’s economy will be subjected to additional modification. Arguably, this could lay the groundwork for “more competition in the workplace and greater social equality,” says Lavelle.

But once the renationalization genie is out of its bottle, stuffing it back in will be difficult. And competing for the title of the northern hemisphere’s version of Zimbabwe, where Robert Mugabe committed macroeconomic suicide by seizing farms from white landowners, is probably not the way the newest member of the G8 club of supposedly developed nations wants to make its mark. Foreign investment, the lifeblood of the economic growth before which Putin piously pretends to genuflect, will take a holiday far away. Meanwhile, fears that Yukos will stop pumping oil are pushing global oil prices to fresh highs.

That would indeed be suicidally stupid for Putin — but such behavior is not unthinkable. And this explains how hard it is to turn a former dictatorship into a free-market democracy. The Cold War ended over a decade ago, and Russia is still in an uncertain state. This should put Iraq’s transition in perspective.

July 30, 2004

THANKS, ANDREW: I didn’t think you really meant that. Very handsomely done.

July 30, 2004

WINDS OF DISCOVERY has a roundup of all sorts of interesting scientific and technical news. Don’t miss it.

July 30, 2004

ARNOLD KLING has thoughts on Kerry’s strategy.

July 30, 2004

THE NEW REPUBLIC’S JASON ZENGERLE reports on seeing Joe Wilson at the Democratic convention:

To my ears, Wilson’s explanations rang hollow, either misrepresenting the charges against him or making new claims that were impossible to verify. His performance left me convinced that his credibility is pretty much shot. But the rest of the room didn’t seem to agree. They gave Wilson a prolonged standing ovation after his speech–and the former ambassador had a big smile on his face for the rest of the afternoon. His “road to Boston” may have been bumpy, but you could tell he was glad he came.

Indeed.

July 30, 2004

SANDY BERGER UPDATE: Trent Telenko has a substantial post with lots of links and analysis.

July 30, 2004

THE STEM CELL ISSUE must be polling really well for the Democrats:

Sen. Dianne Feinstein began her first official national online petition drive in 12 years in the Senate on Thursday in an effort to persuade President Bush to reverse his August 2001 decision that limited federal support for stem cell research.

Feinstein’s drive came after Ron Reagan, son of the former president, addressed the Democratic National Convention on Tuesday and urged greater support for embryonic stem cell research, which advocates say could create treatments or cures for a host of conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease, the ailment that led to the death in June of former President Ronald Reagan.

Stem-cell opponent Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan) is even getting pushback at home. I think the Democrats are right on this issue, and I’m glad they’re pushing it.

UPDATE: For a contrary view, read this piece by Michael Fumento. I tend to like Fumento, when he’s not calling Rich Hailey fat, but I think that there are two issues here. One is the argument — more-or-less made by Ron Reagan, Jr. — that we’d be curing Alzheimer’s now if it werent’ for those mean old Republicans. That’s rather weak. The other is the argument that we’ll be able to do everything we want with adult stem cells anyway, so there’s no harm in banning research with embryonic stem cells. This may turn out to be true eventually, but I’m not convinced that embryonic stem cell research won’t play an important role in getting us there. It’s a bit like supporting a ban on propeller aircraft in 1930, on the ground that everyone will be flying jets soon anyway. . . .

July 30, 2004

KERRY’S CAMPAIGN STAFF made bogus dirty tricks charges regarding the bunny-suit photo, and as a result gave the story serious legs, most recently in the form of this fashion analysis from the Washington Post:

The suit did not humanize Kerry. It did not make him look tough. Maybe if Kerry had had a surgical mask hanging around his neck, the suit would have given him the heroic glow of a surgeon emerging from the operating theater to announce that the patient will survive. Instead, the image left one wondering whether the suit had a back flap and attached feet. . . .

Being generous, one might argue that Kerry’s intellectual curiosity caused him to ignore how ridiculous he would look in the clean gear. The chance to crawl around in a spaceship was too tempting. Most folks would find that hard to pass up. But he is not most people — he wants to be president. As a general rule, anyone aspiring to be the commander in chief should always try to avoid looking like a Teletubby.

It would have been better to laugh it off.

July 30, 2004

HUGH HEWITT on convention blogging:

Bloggers acquitted themselves well because they are a very smart group. In fact, I think it is hard to overstate how much better informed Matt Yglesias, Matt Welch, Mickey Kaus, and Tim Blair — all of whom I interviewed on air — are than every elected official I interviewed. These are serious thinkers though with good humor mixed in, and the blogosphere is simply the democratization of punditry, with the result that talent wins.

The arrival of the bloggers is a big deal. They’ll never not be here in the future, and now the question is who gets to blog the debates?

Hmm.

July 30, 2004

DARFUR UPDATE:

The Sudanese government has carried out a murderous campaign in its Darfur region through deliberate bombing of civilian targets and through support of Arab militias known as janjaweed raping and killing on the ground. Khartoum cannot be trusted to end the killing, though it may see some temporary gain in slowing or pausing it.

Yet current international measures seem to depend on the Sudanese government as a partner.

I agree that this is a dubious approach.

July 30, 2004

ABC NEWS is running a rather troubling story about mob connections for Kerry fundraiser Stephen Bing:

He is Stephen Bing, a wealthy film producer who, with little fanfare, has managed to steer a total of more than $16 million of his money to Democratic candidates and the supposedly independent groups that support them.

“To most of the people who track money and politics, they’re like, who the hell is Steve Bing?” said Chuck Lewis, founder of the Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit, nonpartisan watchdog organization.

Bing is perhaps best known for sparking a tabloid frenzy when he publicly expressed doubt that he was the father of actress Elizabeth Hurley’s baby. (A paternity test proved he was indeed the father.) He repeatedly has refused to say why he is funneling millions of dollars to the Democrats.

Lewis thinks it is cause for concern.

“We can identify who the big donors are, but how much do we really know about any of them?” he said.

In fact, Democratic Party officials said they knew nothing about the man who law enforcement officials tell ABC News is Bing’s friend and business partner — Dominic Montemarano, a New York Mafia figure currently in federal prison on racketeering charges.

This seems as if it has the potential for embarrassment. And wasn’t campaign finance “reform” supposed to put an end to this sort of thing? I guess it didn’t work:

“This is money to curry favor, to gain influence,” said Wertheimer. “The very thing that the Watergate laws were designed to stop.”

It’s as if the whole enterprise was a sham.

UPDATE: Much more on Bing and the entertainment-industrial complex’s relationship to politics can be found in this article by Eric Alterman:

The Center for Responsive Politics calculates Bing’s (pre-McCain-Feingold) 2002-cycle donations to the Democrats at $8.7 million. Recently George Soros came to Hollywood to raise money in a series of private billionaire-to-billionaire meetings for America Coming Together and The Media Fund, the coordinated anti-Bush organizations created to fit within the strictures of campaign-finance laws, to which he has promised $10 million. A kind of shadow Democratic Party, ACT and The Media Fund (under the joint fundraising umbrella of Victory Campaign 2004) are 527 organizations: they independently raise and spend money to identify voters and buy air time for advertising. These and other 527 organizations, on the left and the right, have come in for a lot of heat, because contributions are unlimited so long as the organization does not communicate with any candidate or official party committee—and everyone suspects that the concept “does not communicate” has been vitiated by Talmudic parsing. I’m told that after seeing Soros, Bing upped his contribution from $2 million to nearly $7 million, just like that. No wonder the constant refrain from the politically connected in Hollywood is “What we need more than anything is more Steve Bings.”

Maybe, maybe not.

July 30, 2004

AN INTERESTING REPORT OF OUTSOURCING AT THE DEMOCRATIC CONVENTION: See, I told you it would be an issue. . . .

July 29, 2004

JOE WILSON UPDATE: He’s not going away, apparently.

July 29, 2004

OKAY, THE OTHER THREAD’S CLOSED. Please post your sum-up comments here. And sorry about the delays and double-posts — between traffic, comment, and Internet backups, they’re kind of slow. Please give ‘em a while to register.

My take: A not-bad speech, badly delivered. It was short on substance, and long on cliches, but nomination acceptance speeches often are. It was too long, and his delivery was rushed. The sweating and bizarre gestures didn’t help. I don’t think it will swing the momentum in his favor, which is what he needed. It may turn some people off.

UPDATE: No, I don’t know what happened to the other post. It just vanished when I saved this one. Dang. I’m going to see if I can get it back.

ANOTHER UPDATE: More here.

And Ed Morrissey and Stephen Green were liveblogging.

MORE: Still trying to get the old thread back. (This is all that’s left of it). But reader David Schneider-Joseph saved some of it in his RSS reader. There were something like twice this many comments last I noticed, but at least some of it’s saved. I’m posting them separately later, if the thread can’t be saved.

And reader Richard Whitten comments: “McCain-Lieberman 2004!”

STILL MORE: David Hogberg comments here. And there’s this observation: “He was talking to Middle America tonight…in an attempt to identify himself as one of them.” More liveblogging here, and here. And here.

More thoughts on Kerry’s resume here. And there’s this: “The homeless are back! Did they de-camp from Lafayette Park during the Clinton years?”

MORE STILL: Here are some comments, posted below, that are worth repeating:

Kerry is not a horrible person, and neither is Bush. Neither is a particualrly wonderful candidate, and we have to settle for the least harmful instead of the best.

Kerry needed to convince me that he was honestly going to protect us. He dd everything he could, and I now realize that it was always too late, my mind was made up. Kerry has cared about the direction of the wind far too many times for me to ever trust him.

That’s tragic. He seems to really understand what the right answer is, but I imagine some number of people just don’t know if he would trade that for votes or poll numbers.

Yeah, that seems about right to me, too.

Meanwhile Patrick Belton — blogging from the convention center — has a more positive take than a lot of the people linked above. I wonder if Kerry looks better live than on TV. Even Belton has his issues, though: “weak attempt to sex up the fact his staff told him to plug his website: ‘So now I’m going to say something that Franklin Roosevelt could never have said in his acceptance speech: go to johnkerry.com.’ Umm, that’s because they have different names….”

Andrew Sullivan: “I really don’t know what the impact of this speech will be. I doubt it will help him much. I definitely liked Kerry less at the end of it than at the beginning. . . . I think this convention has been a huge success, tempered by a bad candidate.”

Jeff Jarvis: “It was, oddly, a military speech aimed at not using the military. . . . There was nothing to hate in the speech, nothing to love. It was competent.”

Jonah Goldberg: ” It sounds like it was written by a committee. The funny irony is that Kerry is a committee of one.”

Nick Gillespie was liveblogging. And Jesse Walker reflects that he’s not the target audience for these things. Me neither.

James Lileks comments:

“I defended this country as a young man, and I will defend it as President.”

This really intrigues me. I agree that Vietnam was a defense of the United States, inasmuch as we were trying to blunt the advance of Communism. So: only Nixon can go to China. (Only Kirk can go to Chronos, for you Star Trek geeks.) Only Kerry can confirm that Vietnam was a just war. This completely upends conventional wisdom about the Vietnamese war, and requires a certain amount of historical amnesia.

Mickey Kaus: “Good enough! . . . I predict a measurable bounce, if anybody was watching.”

Closed comments on this post now; I’m going to bed. Sorry Jay!

NEXT MORNING UPDATE: Tom Maguire liveblogged it. Excerpt:

“And as President, I will bring back this nation’s time-honored tradition: the United States of America never goes to war because we want to, we only go to war because we have to.”

Why we had to go to war in Kosovo remains a mystery, but this has been a Kerry line for over a year. [Mini-update - Watching Frank Luntz and his panel of voters on MSNBC, this line is reprised, and the first panelist to comment mentions Yugoslavia, and thinks Kerry is kidding on this. The rebuttal goes national!]

Daniel Drezner: “Given the emphasis on a positive message emanating from this convention, Kerry took harder shots than I expected at Bush — but I thought his foreign policy critique hit home.”

Hugh Hewitt: “[H]e didn’t bore people, which was a real concern. His timing was often off, but not fatally so. So he gets a B. Not a home run, but a solid single. He needed a home run.”

And finally, I’m guessing that this is a typo in Howard Kurtz’s column this morning — or maybe an anonymous typesetter’s comment on what Kurtz notes as the remarkably unanimous praise for the speech from mainstream media:

For USA Today, it’s a series of stirring images:

“The Democrats have gone to a war footing.

“John Kerry accepted the nomination of his party Thursday night with a speech more muscular than any Democratic presidential nominee has given at a convention in four decades.

“{bull} Consider the images in the biographical video that introduced him: snapshots of a young Kerry squinting into the sun with the crew of the swift boat he captained in Vietnam, and of him standing ramrod-straight in a crisp white uniform as a Bronze Star was pinned on his chest.

“{bull} Consider the friend he chose to introduce him: former Georgia senator Max Cleland, a veteran who returned from Vietnam in a wheelchair, both legs and one arm blown off by a grenade.

“{bull} Consider the words he used in his speech: Strength. Tough. Fight. Defend. Force. Attack. Security.”

Heh.

July 29, 2004

THIS IS A RECONSTRUCTED POST: My open-comment thread letting people liveblog the speech vanished — the server was overloaded and was having problems before they restarted, and that may have something to do with it. Anyway, some of the comments were saved by readers, and here’s a good chunk. Click “more” to read the post and comments.

Continue reading ‘THIS IS A RECONSTRUCTED POST: My open-comment thread letting people liveblog the speech vanished –…’ »

July 29, 2004

PEOPLE ARE BEING CHUCKED OUT OF FLEET CENTER by the thousands, according to OxBlog. Apparently, too many folks are there. It’s probably the ones who snuck in.

July 29, 2004

IF OSAMA’S CAPTURED TONIGHT, The New York Times is ready.

And no, Ahmed Ghailani [Who? -- ed.] doesn’t count.

July 29, 2004

ANDREW SULLIVAN LAUNCHES A BIT OF A CHEAP SHOT, in this post on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit’s decision upholding the dumb Alabama sex toy law: “Lawrence vs Texas doesn’t seem to be having much of an impact in the South. Surprise, surprise.”

Yet — as I noted before Lawrence was decided — state courts in many southern states had already found that homosexual sodomy was protected by a right of privacy under their state constitutions, in direct opposition to the U.S. Supreme Court’s contrary holding under the federal constitution in Bowers v. Hardwick, which was reversed by Lawrence. The U.S. Supreme Court was a follower, not a leader here. (And, though I don’t mention it in the piece linked above, a Louisiana appellate court even ruled that dildos are protected under that state’s constitution as outside the government’s legitimate regulatory power.) So I think Andrew’s casual slur is misplaced, and unworthy of him.

July 29, 2004

AMIR TAHERI has posted a critique of Kerry’s foreign policy. One-word summary: “Carteresque.”

It does shed some light on Kerry’s language from tonight’s speech about “responding” to attacks rather than preventing them.

UPDATE: Robert Tagorda wonders whether Kerry & Edwards want “stability,” or democracy in Iraq.

July 29, 2004

BEGGING TO DIFFER wonders if Kerry will respond to Al Sharpton on reparations? Not if he can help it, is my guess — though reportedly the campaign has said that he supports them.

July 29, 2004

CONVENTION BLOGGER ADELE STAN REPORTS:

BOSTON–Well, they’ve just passed out excerpts from the text of Kerry’s acceptance speech. I wish I could say that it looks like a knock-out, but if these are any indication, we can expect the same sort of buzz-word loaded stuff we hear on the campaign trail.

Maybe it’ll sound livelier than it looks in print.

July 29, 2004

JOE KATZMAN has a Darfur roundup. And via the comments there, here’s a draft of a hoped-for Bush speech on Darfur.

July 29, 2004

ANN ALTHOUSE has a number of interesting posts on the Convention, and also observes that The Daily Show’s coverage isn’t nearly as funny as it ought to be.

July 29, 2004

THE PRIESTS are nervous.

UPDATE: Reader Dexter Van Zile has further thoughts. Click “more” to read them.

Continue reading ‘THE PRIESTS are nervous.

UPDATE: Reader Dexter Van Zile has further thoughts. Click “more” to rea…’ »

July 29, 2004

IS IT THE RETURN OF JOEMENTUM?

July 29, 2004

TACITUS thinks that the Convention bodes poorly for the Democrats.

UPDATE: More predictions of disaster here.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Gerard Van der Leun thinks that Kerry is doomed: “it is no longer a question of Kerry and the Democrats losing in November, but only one of how great and lasting their humiliation and degradation is going to be.”

July 29, 2004

GREG DJEREJIAN IS UNIMPRESSED with Josh Marshall’s claims of a July surprise being underway.

UPDATE: Jan Haugland has comments, too: “If this recent accusation is true, Bush has already won the terror war decisively, just waiting for the perfect time to cash in the prize.”

I have to say, I’ve never heard of Ahmed Ghailani. Neither, I strongly suspect, have very many potential voters. Which to me makes it absurd to argue that Bush is trying to upstage Kerry by yelling “look! we captured Ahmed Ghailani!” — to an inevitable chorus of “who?”

I mean, Osama, or Zarqawi, maybe. But if you set the threshold this low, then the prediction becomes trivial: “They’ll probably try to make hay out of any Al Qaeda guy they capture close to the Convention.”

Yes. But that’s not news. That’s the normal order of business.

MORE: Tom Maguire observes:

MORE: Actually, the TNR second paragraph was “This spring, the administration significantly increased its pressure on Pakistan to kill or capture Osama bin Laden, his deputy, Ayman Al Zawahiri, or the Taliban’s Mullah Mohammed Omar…”, so I can be a bit flexible. But Number 22? No crow for me, thanks, but I may have some Buffalo Wings later. Unless the networks cut away, forget it.

Yeah, like that’s going to happen. Tom has many more useful links. And LT Smash collects many comments, some rather overheated. It seems that the people playing up Ghailani’s importance are mostly Bush critics, which should tell you all you need to know about what’s going on here.

July 29, 2004

BIG MEDIA BLOGGING: Mark Glaser writes on the sincerest form of flattery.

I’m going to try an experiment in collaborative liveblogging during and after Kerry’s speech (10 ET), so drop by.

UPDATE: David Adesnik:

Even though I am a huge fan of blogs [Full disclosure: I have a blog myself. -ed.], I don’t think we revolutionized coverage of this convention. After all, how can you revolutionize coverage of a non-event? In that sense, our failure was inevitable.

On the other hand, if blogging doesn’t add anything to the mix, why are mainstream journalists starting up blogs by the busload? TNR and TAP set up their blogs quite a while ago, but still felt compelled to set up new blogs dedicated exclusively to the convention.

The Associated Press has set up a convention blog staffed by a Pulitzer Prize winner with 40 years of experience covering conventions. That’s got to be a blogosphere first.

What all of this suggests is that there is an emerging distinction between blogging as a medium and bloggers as people.

Interesting point.

July 29, 2004

IN ESQUIRE, LIBERAL TOM JUNOD lays out the case for George Bush:

I didn’t know anything about the cadet. About President George W. Bush, though, I felt the satisfaction of absolute certainty, and so uttered the words as essential to my morning as my cup of Kenyan and my dose of high-minded outrage on the editorial page of the Times : “What an asshole.” . . .

Then I read the text of the speech he gave and was thrown from one kind of certainty—the comfortable kind—into another. He was speaking, as he always does, of the moral underpinnings of our mission in Iraq. He was comparing, as he always does, the challenge that we face, in the evil of global terrorism, to the challenge our fathers and grandfathers faced, in the evil of fascism. He was insisting, as he always does, that the evil of global terrorism is exactly that, an evil—one of almost transcendent dimension that quite simply must be met, lest we be remembered for not meeting it . . . lest we allow it to be our judge. I agreed with most of what he said, as I often do when he’s defining matters of principle. No, more than that, I thought that he was defining principles that desperately needed defining, with a clarity that those of my own political stripe demonstrate only when they’re decrying either his policies or his character. . . .

As easy as it is to say that we can’t abide the president because of the gulf between what he espouses and what he actually does , what haunts me is the possibility that we can’t abide him because of us—because of the gulf between his will and our willingness. What haunts me is the possibility that we have become so accustomed to ambiguity and inaction in the face of evil that we find his call for decisive action an insult to our sense of nuance and proportion.

Read the whole thing. Will Kerry answer these criticisms tonight?

UPDATE: Hmm. In the advance excerpts of Kerry’s speech that the Democrats have emailed out, I see this bit:

Let there be no mistake: I will never hesitate to use force when it is required. Any attack will be met with a swift and certain response. I will never give any nation or international institution a veto over our national security. And I will build a stronger American military.

(Emphasis added.) That seems a bit, well, reactive, doesn’t it? Wouldn’t it be better to prevent attacks? Meanwhile Ed Driscoll has comments on Junod’s piece.

July 29, 2004

HOME NOW. Blogging will resume later.

In the meantime, Daniel Drezner is metablogging in a highly interesting fashion.

July 29, 2004

DUMB ALABAMA SEX TOY LAW UPHELD:

Americans do not have a fundamental right to sexual privacy, a 2-1 decision of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said on Wednesday.

The split panel upheld an Alabama law — nearly identical to one in Georgia — that made the sale of sex toys a crime punishable by up to a year in prison.

I haven’t read the 11th Circuit opinion, but this seems implausible in light of Lawrence.

July 29, 2004

HERE’S THE LATEST ON THE KERRY PHOTO FLAP:

As political pundits and comedians pounced on the pictures of Kerry in what outsiders might deem a goofy-looking costume, the senator’s campaign aides alleged the pictures were not supposed to be released publicly.

Not true, said NASA. Government photographers routinely snap pictures of visiting dignitaries. . . .

Furthermore, NASA spokesman Bill Johnson said the Kerry campaign asked that the pictures be taken of the senator’s unusually up-close tour of the Discovery and that processing be expedited so reporters could have them.

Kerry’s staff turned a little story into a big one by charging NASA with dirty tricks here. It wasn’t a smart move.

July 29, 2004

MORE CRUSHING OF DISSENT: Taegan Goddard has the story on a fired DNC blogger.

UPDATE: Goddard now says that he wasn’t fired after all — go read the update.

July 29, 2004

JAMES LILEKS:

Teddy Kennedy said in his convention speech: “The only thing we have to fear is four more years of George Bush.” It’s really quite simple, isn’t it? We live in a manufactured climate of fear ginned up by war-crazed neocon overlords. There is no threat. The only thing we have to fear is Bush, who sits as we speak in the Oval Office sucking the marrow from Whoopi’s shin-bones.

If so, I wonder why anyone agreed to the stringent security policies that characterize this year’s conventions. Why the bomb-sniffing dogs? Why the snipers? Why the metal detectors, the invasive inspection of bags? Is it all an elaborate defense against Bush crashing the party and setting off a bomb belt, shouting God is Great, y’all!

No, they’re fearful of something else.

Damned if I know what, though.

July 29, 2004

MICKEY KAUS gives Edwards qualified praise, though he observes something I noted last night: “Like many great performers, he’s reached the stage where his tricks and mannerisms have become self-conscious and exaggerated–he’s added a layer of parody and smug confidence on top of them (including an annoying ‘that-line-will-work’ smirk at inappropriate times) that makes them less effective.” Overall, though, Mickey pronounces the speech a success. Andrew Sullivan thinks Edwards sounded tough on the war; Kaus doesn’t.

Jeff Taylor, on the other hand, doesn’t think so: “Edwards’ speech stacked up the gifts a Kerry administration would bestow upon Americans like the final, desperate appeal of an infomercial. . . . But it sets up a perfect pitch for the GOP to knock out of the park, as they have done on tax issues for 20 years now.” More comments from Nick Gillespie (“having a father who worked in a mill (some of the time as a supervisor!) means never having to say you’re wealthy”), and a link to the text of Edwards’ speech, here.

July 29, 2004

THE MULTILATERAL BUSH ADMINISTRATION:

What might be Caspian Guard’s deeper mission? Take a look at a couple of maps, one of Azerbaijan’s neighborhood and one of Kazakhstan’s. What do they have in common? Both are central Asian states with coasts on the Caspian Sea, and both either share a border with or are across the water from Iran. Caspian Guard is to Iran what the PSI is to North Korea — a cage in the making, constructed by the Bush administration’s State Department. Look for several other US-leaning states in the area, such as Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, and possibly even Turkey, to either join the Caspian Guard or cooperate with it in significant ways. The US will begin to encircle Iran, the world’s most dangerous remaining Islamic state, the way it is attempting to encircle North Korea, all to strangle their nuclear proliferation programs and over time halt their nuclear programs altogether. Additionally, Caspian Guard gives member states access to US training and tactical knowledge and the assurance of friendly relations with the world’s sole superpower in exchange for assistance in dealing with some of the axis of evil’s charter members.

He’s got some interesting maps, too.

July 28, 2004

GOT BACK in time to see Edwards speak. Not bad, but not up to his usual standards. He seems nervous. He’s talking too fast, and he’s blinking nonstop.

UPDATE: More Obama praise here. He’s clearly the winner, so far.

July 28, 2004

I’LL BE DRINKING BEER tonight. I strongly recommend that you do the same. But if you’re bored, you might want to check out a special late-posted Bleat from James Lileks, featuring his response to a French journalist. (And this post goes nicely with it.)

Also, the InstaWife’s latest project — a series on the Oxygen Channel called Snapped that starts next week — has an online preview that’s up now. Check it out if the creaky state of the Web permits.

July 28, 2004

MY TECHCENTRALSTATION COLUMN IS UP: “The solution is thus obvious — we need a massive government program to ensure that no American teenager goes without porn and videogames.” (Am I serious? I’ll leave that as an exercise for the reader!)

Tom Maguire is on a roll — just keep scrolling. And Jim Treacher has advice on other things you should read, if you’re not interested in reading all the convention blogs.

I’m heading off to visit my brother overnight. Blogging will be light for a while. Be sure you scroll down to check the numerous updates on earlier posts. Or just watch this video on Kerry and Iraq.

July 28, 2004

YESTERDAY’S POST on science fiction led to more requests for suggestions. Unfortunately, I’ve been too busy reading serious work-related stuff to have a lot of recent reads to suggest.

I did enjoy Ken MacLeod’s Dark Light, and I have the sequel on the shelf, but I haven’t gotten to it. I’d have more time to read science fiction if I were blogging less, but. . . .

July 28, 2004

SHOCKED, SHOCKED:

At a closed meeting held recently in New York, UN ambassadors from Arab and EU countries met and the Arabs made clear that they do not accept the initiative for the UN General Assembly to condemn anti-Semitism.

The blunt language used by the Arabs describing their opposition, and their plans to use diplomatic means to prevent the resolution from reaching a vote, shocked the Europeans, said a UN source.

I’m less surprised at this development.

July 28, 2004

DEAN ESMAY offers an interesting question for conservatives: If Kerry is elected, will they try to support him if he does the right thing, or will they degenerate into partisan backbiting as Democrats did after 2000 (and as Republicans did after 1992):

I don’t want to hear why you think it won’t happen. Indulge me: pretend it might. How many of you will have the patriotism to say, “I disagree with many of his policy directions, I do not think he is conducting our foreign policy in the right way, but I will do my best to get behind him and support him until elections come around next time?”

I’m genuinely curious. For that is the stance I intend to take. I will refuse to call him traitor, loser, liar, incompetent. He will be my President, my Commander In Chief, the Chief Executive of a great nation, elected by the will of a majority of the electors in these 50 great united States. So even if he does things I disagree with in conducting foreign policy, I will say, “I respectfully disagree with the President’s directions, but I will do my best to express my dissent respectfully and hope that I am mistaken and that he has made the proper decisions after all.”

That’s my pledge. How many of you will take a similar one?

Although I’m a liberal blogger, that’s certainly how I intend to act, should Kerry be elected. There’s some interesting stuff in Dean’s comments, where most people seem to take the same line. It does, however, raise the problem identified in this comment to Bigwig’s pro-Kerry post:

Aren’t you basically saying that Republicans can be counted on to support the country and the WoT if a Democrat is in office, but not vice versa? This argument lets the Democrats who would rather control the White House than have the U.S. remain safe and secure off the hook. Not a good precedent. Rather Kerry and the Democratic party should be punished for undermining Bush and creating the division in the country, not rewarded!

I’ll still take the pledge, but this is worth thinking about. That sort of incentive structure seems dangerous.

July 28, 2004

ARNOLD KLING writes that we’re not really in a war of ideas.

July 28, 2004

DARFUR UPDATE: The Ottawa Citizen editorializes:

The Sudanese government made a false promise to protect the people in Darfur, and has threatened guerrilla war if other nations try to help them. Courage must replace patience in dealing with Khartoum.

Under the cover of a 21-year civil war, the Arab Islamist government in Khartoum has been using bandit gangs called Janjaweed to drive black people in its western territory from their homes. The gangs are made up of nomads threatened by desertification and who are loyalists of President Omar el-Bashir; the farmers in Darfur have land Mr. el-Bashir wants to give them. The farmers are also Muslim, though not generally Islamists. . . .

The United States and Britain are pushing a Security Council resolution to impose trade sanctions, but they’re having trouble getting it passed. Pakistan and China, for instance, are hesitant to interfere with Sudan’s oil trade, which supplies about 300,000 barrels a day to Asia, partly pumped by a Chinese company.

The critics of the war in Iraq, those who said that was all about oil, are silent. France, the great multilateralist, has given just $6 million to a UN fund for Darfur, which Mr. Annan says needs $350 million. (The Americans have found $130 million so far.)

But for the aid to mean anything, the people of Darfur must have security, which Mr. Ismail has indicated the Sudanese government will deny them. These are the words of both a terrorist and a promoter of genocide, not a man who will be swayed by threats of trade sanctions. The world has dithered and innocents have died. It’s time to find the nerve to act.

Multilateralism is failing again.

UPDATE: More on Sudan here, and, of course, there’s this point: “As was the case in Iraq, France also has significant oil interests in Sudan.” And once again, they’re running interference for a murderous dictator.

July 28, 2004

NICK GILLESPIE:

Somewhere during Teresa Heinz Kerry’s long, meandering speech that only drew plaudits from party loyalists, I became convinced that she is, in fact, a Republican operative in deep, deep, deep cover. . . . If the Heinz Kerry speech served one useful function for the Dems, it’s that it lowered the bar for the last two days of the convention, which so far has been a pretty dreary, uninteresting, and unmoving spectacle.

He didn’t like Jimmy Carter’s speech much, either. The Kerry folks should be glad that his views aren’t reflective of the media in general. Meanwhile Robert Spencer wonders why the Democrats are catering to religious fundamentalists.

UPDATE: More on the Kerry speech here:

Teresa Heinz Kerry made it through her unprecedented speech at the Democratic National Convention without losing control of her famous temper, losing her place in the well-rehearsed speech, or otherwise providing dramatic entertainment. But she was just plain weird.

There’s much more.

July 28, 2004

MORE SUDAN NEWS from Rajan Rishyakaran.

July 28, 2004

MATT WELCH doesn’t like what he’s hearing:

Namely, that being a professional six-figure politician should be confused with noble “service,” while throwing them your hard-earned money amounts to a brave and selfless sacrifice. . . .

Not belonging to a political party, and believing fervently in Brian Doherty’s excellent maxim that time well spent is usually time away from politics, it is possible that I’m jaundiced. That said, the vision of a disabled woman handing over her last quarters to another moneybags politico who dreams of taking more of the stuff by force strikes me as, at minimum, nausea-inducing.

So, too, is the confusion of normal campaign politics with profound revolutionary bravery.

Read the whole thing. And don’t miss these important revelations from behind the scenes!

July 28, 2004

THIS IS NOT AS ABSURD AS THE TWINKIE DEFENSE, but I don’t think it’ll work:

Three Fort Carson soldiers charged in the drowning of an Iraqi man last January may argue today that their actions were caused by an anti-malaria drug. . . .

The drug is being investigated to determine whether it is linked to panic reactions, rage, aggressive behavior and other mental and physical problems, said Steve Robinson of the National Gulf War Research Center. Violent behavior by other soldiers has also been blamed on the drug.

“I am not saying this is why people push people off bridges, but there seems to be a pretty plausible connection to rage issues and taking the drug,” Robinson said.

Two of the soldiers, Sgt. 1st Class Tracy E. Perkins, 33, and Sgt. Reggie Martinez, 24, are charged with involuntary manslaughter. The third, Spc. Terry Bowman, 21, is charged with assault.

The three soldiers’ superior officer, 1st Lt. Jack Saville, is also charged with involuntary manslaughter.

This is the case involving Zeyad’s cousin, which has been written about here quite a bit (links to earlier posts in that one). Lariam has, in fact, been linked to psychiatric symptoms — some quite severe — but the likelihood that several soldiers would all suffer from those simultaneously seems quite low to me.

July 28, 2004

INTREPID INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER MICKEY KAUS is uncovering security holes at the Democratic Convention.

July 28, 2004

SOFT POWER: Not the solution, according to Claudia Rosett.

July 28, 2004

SEND IN THE PINKERTONS! Eduwonk finds a surprising case of union-busting.

July 28, 2004

THE DEMOCRATS HAD MICHAEL MOORE: Here’s a filmmaker that the Republicans might want to have at their convention.

July 28, 2004

9/11: A failure of academia?

July 28, 2004

SOMETHING FAR FROM BOSTON, involving the latest X-prize developments, over at GlennReynolds.com.

July 28, 2004

THIS CAN’T BE GOOD NEWS FOR KERRY:

Breaking sharply with the enforced harmony of the Democratic National Convention, the president of the largest AFL-CIO union said Monday that both organized labor and the Democratic Party might be better off in the long run if Sen. John F. Kerry loses the election.

Andrew L. Stern, the head of the 1.6 million-member Service Employees International Union (SEIU), said in an interview with The Washington Post that both the party and its longtime ally, the labor movement, are “in deep crisis,” devoid of new ideas and working with archaic structures.

Stern argued that Kerry’s election might stifle needed reform within the party and the labor movement.

Neither, probably, is this:

Whether democracy is really coming to Iraq, or whether it is even possible here, seemed of no immediate concern to Dr. Ahmad Abu-Raghif, a physician in Baghdad. He was game anyway.

He showed up at a university hall here on Sunday with a good haircut, a blue suit and a big smile: the outfit of the office-seeker worldwide. He buttonholed 50 people, he said, at the grass-roots caucus, making the pitch for their votes. . . .

Caucuses like the one Dr. Abu-Raghif attended have been convening around Iraq to select roughly 1,000 delegates, who will hold a national conference in Baghdad in the next week.

The concrete goal of the conference is to vote – openly and freely – on a 100-seat transitional council that will oversee the government of Iyad Allawi, the interim prime minister, until national elections are held in January.

(How do we know it’s bad news for Kerry? The UN wants to delay elections!) And, while we’re on the list of things that sound bad for Kerry, how about this report?

U.S. consumer confidence rose this month to a two-year high, boosted by an improving job market that also is helping keep new-home sales close to a record. . . .

The creation of 1.3 million jobs so far this election year is starting to lift optimism that lagged as gasoline prices rose as much as 35 percent and higher food and health-care costs helped pushed consumer prices up 3.3 percent from June 2003. The Conference Board said the percentage of Americans who consider jobs hard to find is now the lowest since October 2000.

It must be a bummer to be in a situation where all this good news feels like bad news.

UPDATE: The terrible tidings just keep rolling in:

The first-ever public opinion poll in Afghanistan shows that people there are optimistic about the future and excited about upcoming elections. . . .

Afghanistan has a constitution, is registering voters and is moving toward holding a presidential election in October. And the survey of 804 randomly selected male and female Afghan citizens, commissioned by the Asia Foundation notes that:

* 64 percent say the country is heading in the right direction.

* 81 percent say that they plan to vote in the October election.

* 77 percent say they believe the elections will “make a difference.”

* 64 percent say they rarely or never worry about their personal safety, while under the Taliban only 36 percent felt that way.

* 62 percent rate President Hamid Karzai’s performance as either good or excellent.

This was no pro-Bush put-up job. The polling firm, Charney Research, is a partisan Democratic polling firm. And superstar Democratic pollster Celinda Lake, who’s read the study — and who has worked on similar polling in developing countries — calls it “very reliable.”

The horror, the horror.

July 28, 2004

I PROMISED HIM THAT I WOULDN’T OUT HIM a long time ago, but now Atrios has been unmasked as a guy named Duncan Black who, among other things, works for David Brock’s Soros-funded Media Matters operation. Nothing wrong with that, but if I were working for, say, Richard Mellon Scaife, I think somebody — like, say, Duncan Black — would be making something of it.

July 27, 2004

TVNEWSER:

Let me step up on my soapbox for a sec. MSNBC is treading lightly on traditional standards of journalism. Ron Reagan will address the Democratic convention tonight, speaking on the topic of stem cell research. Two hours later, he will co-anchor an MSNBC talk show. Does anyone else feel queasy about this?

Reagan was on Hardball at 6 (then left at 6:30 for speech prep). He will grant Chris Matthews an “exclusive interview” immediately after the speech, this press release says. Reagan is an “MSNBC political analyst,” so isn’t MSNBC paying for this “exclusive interview?” And he is more than an “analyst” — he is a show host (After Hours), a “special correspondent” (reporting live across from the “free speech zone” on MSNBC Sunday), and an interviewer (Michael Moore, yesterday).

Democratic activist, member of the mainstream media — what’s the difference? “Let’s talk a little media bias here. The media, I think, wants Kerry to win.” Evan Thomas set the stage for this whole election, I think. But if Kerry’s already enjoying the 15-point media-induced edge that Thomas predicted, then he’s running a really weak campaign. . . .

On the other (non-journalistic) hand, Ron Reagan’s convention speech is praised here.

July 27, 2004

BETH MAULDIN: “I loved listening to Mr. Obama and hope like hell if he’s elected to the Senate it doesn’t suck the life out of him.”

UPDATE: More here: “Barack Obama gave a fine speech, but it was not a speech that reflects the current Democratic Party.”

But Howard Dean gets a bad review: “going through the motions in a flat performance that should make Hillary Clinton and John Edwards rest easy.”

More on Dean: “Could Dean not find even one nice thing to say about John Kerry? Apparently not. The overwhelming impression that a viewer gets from this convention so far: The only candidate that gets this convention excited is George Bush.”

Matthew Gross: “Of course, all the journalists have a full copy already. Do you see the man behind the curtain yet?”

MORE: Another reader emails:

I have to say, Obama impressed me tonight. He is definetly articluate and a bright star for the democrats. His “One America” speech resulted in a standing ovation from the delegates. However, one must think that Edwards will receive a similar ovation with his more divisive “Two Americas” speech tomorrow night. So which is it: Two Americas or One America? I’m confused. I guess Obama didn’t get the memo about class warfare. It really shows the current problem of the Democratic party.

Indeed. Teresa Heinz Kerry gets a less-warm review:

Not terrible, I guess — but she was Schoenberg and we want our conventions to be Bruce Springsteen. OK, she was early Schoenberg — not atonal, but astringent and chromatic and lugubrious. I don’t know — I’m not sure speechifying is really her event.

Dean didn’t have much of a speech but had some fire, Ron Reagan was OK, Obama had flashes of brilliance at the end but isn’t Clinton yet. I have hopes for Elizabeth Edwards. I bet my mom will like her.

Probably so.

July 27, 2004

SELF-REFUTING SPIN: The goofy Kerry NASA photos have drawn this response: “Cahill, asked by FOXNEWS whether it was a dirty trick, said: ‘Well, what do you think?’ No photos were supposed to be taken, she said.”

But if you follow the link, you’ll see Kerry obviously posing for photos. His campaign folks blew it, and now they’re only making it worse.

UPDATE: How out of touch is the Kerry campaign? A bunch of these pictures were made public on the Kennedy Space Center website. As reader David Mayer emails: “Just scroll on past the (pretty cool) MESSENGER stuff, and there’s a series of official Bunny Senator photos. It’s pretty hard not to look dumb in a suit like this; that’s why few people have them in their wardrobe. But pretending that it’s all a dirty trick is very avoidably stupid.”

“Avoidably stupid.” Not much of a campaign style. Perhaps they’ll do better. But hey, not everybody thinks it’s stupid. Reader Bill McLane emails: “What a genius this guy is! Who else would have cleverly gone for the bee keeper vote?”

It wouldn’t have crossed my mind.

MORE: Now this, on the other hand, is just wrong.

STILL MORE: Tom Maguire: “Maybe ‘the campaign’ had no idea that there would be any photographs, but Kerry must have known – what did he think was happening when the four people gathered together and smiled? Who is he smiling at in the other photos ? . . . C’mon, there are cameras everywhere. Kerry should not let his campaign manager go out and embarrass herself this way.”

MORE STILL: Reader Ted Armstrong emails:

If Kerry had any sense of humor, he’d make fun of the photos himself. If I were he, I’d put one in my speech and then have a humorous comment to say about it. It would take a lot away from his aloofness. But I don’t expect them to take my advice .

That would have been much better than lame assertions of dirty tricks.

FINAL UPDATE: Howard Kurtz has more on this story:

But Kennedy Space Center spokesman Mike Rein said a video was routinely made of Kerry “as we have done for the last 40 years.” He said NASA takes such footage because Kerry was in “a very confined and hazardous area” and that the pictures are always made public.

I thought we were supposed to be for openness in government.

July 27, 2004

THESE THINGS JUST WRITE THEMSELVES: Reader David Hines emails:

Suggested TV commercial:

FADE IN: on Ted Kennedy, on the podium, partway through his garbled
convention speech, as he delivers the line, “The only thing we have to
fear is four more years of George W. Bush!”

CUT TO: New York City skyline. The old one. With the World Trade
Center.

TITLE/ANNOUNCER: Really?

Ouch. And Rand Simberg observes: “If Karl Rove is smart, the Republican convention will feature some grateful Iraqis in prime time, just as a reminder.”

UPDATE: Another Kennedy goof here.

ANOTHER UPDATE: A reader suggests this image.

July 27, 2004

ANNENBERG’S FACTCHECK.ORG has this to say on the “sixteen words” imbroglio: “He May Have Been Wrong But He Wasn’t Lying. Two intelligence investigations show Bush had plenty of reason to believe what he said in his 2003 State of the Union Address.”

Joe Wilson, once again, comes off badly.

July 27, 2004

DANIEL DREZNER is unhappy that outsourcing is going to be a major Democratic theme between now and November. (Here’s his Foreign Affairs article on why it’s not a big deal).

Well, I warned people about this over a year ago. Here’s Dan Pink’s piece from Wired on the subject, and I’ve also written about the topic here (invoking the documentary Spellbound). Plus, this New Republic piece by Clay Risen is worth reading: “While offshoring may displace some workers in the short term, in the medium and long terms it represents a net benefit for both domestic businesses and their workers. In fact, the greatest threat from outsourcing is that its opponents will use it to force a new wave of protectionism.”

July 27, 2004

INTERESTING STORY on blogs from The Hollywood Reporter.

July 27, 2004

PEER TO PEER NETWORKS can be a security threat. On See What You Share, examples of military and other information found on peer networks are posted as a way of bringing attention to the subject.

July 27, 2004

ALEX TABARROK NOTES that the Patriot Act seems not to be doing much useful work.

UPDATE: It said “Tyler Cowen” above — I had forgotten to check. Darn that group-blog confusion!

ANOTHER UPDATE: Orin Kerr says Tabarrok is factually wrong in his examples.

July 27, 2004

LOTS OF WEB PROBLEMS because of the latest MyDoom variant. Don’t forget to check out the InstaBackup site if this one goes down.

July 27, 2004

CONVENTION BLOGGER DAVE WEINBERGER COMMENTS ON STYLE:

I went to a “get-together” for people involved in various of the Kerry policy initiatives. (Disclosure: I’m on some sort of mailing list for people with opinions about tech policy.) In contrast to the standing, crying, clapping crowd at the Dean/Moore event, this one was women in dark suits and guys in khakis. (Hint: If Kerry looks like he’s going to win, invest in khaki shares. Through the roof, I tell you!) And, yes, they were serving petit-fours. Would Dean show up in Birkenstocks? Would Bush strap on a six-shooter? Would Cheney grow a handlebar moustache? Then Kerry’s policy advisory get-together shouldn’t serve petit-fours.

Hmm. Are there khaki futures I can buy now?