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Monthly Archives: November 2003

Tired Old Saw

November 19th, 2003 - 12:11 am

Do the protests this week in the UK seem somehow familiar to you? They do to Austin Bay:

Angry Euro-protestors attacking an American warmonger president?

Yawn. In the American idiom, “Been there, done that.” Translation for Euro-sophisticates: “Passe, pal.”

It’s 2003, and the president is George W. Bush, but the teeth-gnashing rhetoric is right of out 1983 and the “Euro-missile protests” against Ronald Reagan.

This month is the 20th anniversary of the Great Euromissile Crisis. Oh, the accusations! Reagan was stupid. Reagan was dangerous, a warmonger seeking the nuclear destruction of the USSR. Reagan was — good heavens — a unilateralist. Today, the mayor of London calls Bush “the greatest threat to life on the planet.”

Twaddle. The current crop of Axis of Neville (Chamberlain) leftish pundits and leaders are thus exposed, recycling 20-year-old insults.

There’s more. Go read the whole thing, natch.

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Not a Dog’s Tale/Lore of the Ring

November 19th, 2003 - 12:02 am

I lost my wedding band yesterday.

Sometimes, the best way to increase the dramatic tension of a story is to bury the lede. Stanley went on for goddamn ever before finally admitting he’d found Dr. Livingston. He made you wait for it: “Dr. Livingston, I presume,” didn’t come until the reader had less hope than Stanley ever did.

Not tonight. I lost my wedding ring. The ring, the one she put on my finger when I took those vows in front of all those people. That ring. The one. I lost it. The week of my bride’s birthday. “Happy birthday, honey! To demonstrate my love for you, I’ve gone and tossed aside the one tangible bit you gave me on our wedding day! Where are you going?”

It must have happened during or right after my shower. I noticed it was gone when I was rubbing my hands together with the creamy stuff Eve makes me buy for my hair. (Eve is a genius. One expensive haircut from her every three weeks, and then all I have to do in between is put a small bit of some cheap stuff in my hair, brush it quickly, and forget about it. Call me a metrosexual if you must, but never have so few done so little to look so good. Anyway.) Rubbing my hands, there was a distinct lack of presence where something should have been distinctly present.

That realization was followed immediately by one of those Oh Shit moments you know will stick with you in the exact same way that oatmeal with wheat germ doesn’t.

OK OK OK OK OKOKOKOK. It can’t have gone far. It has to be around here. I would’ve noticed if it was missing when I was washing my hair, for the same reason I noticed it was missing when I was putting in the cream stuff.

Only it wasn’t. I tore apart the bedroom and bathroom for an hour before giving up. And when I say, “giving up,” I mean: “Giving up on those two rooms and then going and tearing up the rest of the house for even longer.” There was a flashlight involved. Much moving of furniture and emptying of drawers and accusing looks at the cat. And… why is the dog coughing?

Not GuiltyYeah, Xander coughed. And I had sudden images of me wearing latex gloves all the way up to, I don’t know, my toes, digging through his little gifts in the back yard.

Well, what would you have thought?

So I called the vet. The conversation went like this:

Me: This is going to sound strange, but I’ve lost my wedding ring, and there’s a chance the dog got it.

Pretty receptionist: Oh my. What kind of dog is it?

Me: He’s a Golden Retriever.

Pretty receptionist: You’d better bring him in.

(Golden owners will understand why that is funny.)

The next conversation I had went like this:

Me: Xander, wanna go for a ride?

Xander: (No actual speech in reply, but he instead became a fuzzy blond cruise missile aimed at the door to the garage.)

Half an hour and half a hundred dollars later, Xander was off the hook. I, however, was still half on it. On the plus side, I’d wriggled out of spending the afternoon waiting for the dog to poop, then digging through the results for buried treasure. On the minus, I still had no clue where my wedding band had gotten to.

I still don’t. I’ve looked everywhere.

And so now I have to ask you: Where is the strangest place you’ve ever found lost jewelry, and how long did it take for it to turn up?

Click on the “Drinks” below to leave me your answer. And please tell me it didn’t take long, because in the meantime, I’m the one in the doghouse.

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November 17th, 2003 - 11:20 am

Light daytime blogging this week while I get the house (and the fridge) ready for Melissa’s birthday dinner Thursday night.

Seven courses, two bottles of wine. . . so, yeah, Friday might be a little slow, too.

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Cut & Run?

November 17th, 2003 - 12:55 am

Leave aside (for the moment, anyway) the obvious slant of this Independent story — just read it for the facts:

The United States accepts that to avoid humiliating failure in Iraq it needs to bring its forces quickly under international control and speed the handover of power, Javier Solana, the European Union foreign policy chief, has said. Decisions along these lines will be made in the “coming days”, Mr Solana told The Independent.

The comments, signalling a major policy shift by the US, precede President George Bush’s state visit this week to London, during which he and Tony Blair will discuss an exit strategy for forces in Iraq.

Anyone seen another report on this? If true, it’s big.

And a very, very stupid idea.

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50 Points

November 15th, 2003 - 12:30 pm

The Weekly Standard‘s website is back up and running — so now you can finally read their detailed report on the Pentagon’s leaked Iraq/al Qaeda connection memo.

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Self-Inflicted Pain

November 14th, 2003 - 12:54 am


Michael Moore went to Germany and slammed America up and down for all the usual reasons

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Charting Progress

November 14th, 2003 - 12:47 am

Check out this chart from The New York Times op-ed page, and you’ll see that progress in Iraq is, well, progressing nicely overall.

The only bit of really bad news, is that our own troops losses are slowly mounting — and it doesn’t yet include results for November such as our downed helicopter.

Check back in six months. If that line isn’t trending downward by then, then we either have too few troops, or a new Lebanon on our hands.

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Dean, Democrats, and Goldwater

November 14th, 2003 - 12:40 am

Is The Washington Post‘s EJ Dionne reading VodkaPundit?

Here’s what I wrote last July:

The Republican’s 1964 race was one of those “For the life and soul of the party!” battles. On the one side, you had Nelson Rockefeller

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Required Reading II

November 13th, 2003 - 6:08 pm

In response to this post from earlier today, Steven den Beste explains what “total war” means in our post-industrial times.

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It Doesn’t Suck

November 13th, 2003 - 10:17 am

Light blogging today. It’s a perfect late-autumn day, so Melissa is taking off early from work, we’re going to catch a matinee showing of Love Actually, and then I’m going to build a fire of near-Chicago proportions.

Back in a bit.

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Not So Simple as Red State/Blue State

November 13th, 2003 - 2:07 am

From Matt Welch comes this map featuring a county-by-county breakdown of Democrat/Republican campaign donations.

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Hi, Mom!

November 13th, 2003 - 1:58 am

You never know who may be reading your blog. . .

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A (Too-)Modest Proposal

November 13th, 2003 - 1:45 am

Now and then, Tom Friedman comes up with something novel:

Israel can’t solve the problem of rising anti-Semitism without the help of the Saudi ruling family, and the Saudis can’t buy the time they need for gradual political and economic reform at home without the help of Israel. Yes, the House of Saud and the House of Sharon really do need each other. Too bad neither can see that.

So how’s it supposed to work?

The way to reduce these fires

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Best Wishes

November 13th, 2003 - 1:26 am

Say welcome back (and congratulations!) to the Ranting Rationalist.

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Work-Safe – Honest

November 13th, 2003 - 1:12 am

If you spend too much time at work, or your wife monitors your computer use too closely at home, so you can’t download the Paris Hilton sex video, then Dan Michalski has performed a valuable public service just for you.

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November 13th, 2003 - 1:07 am

Henry Hanks sent me the link to Today’s Outrage:

Aaron McGruder, whose cartoon strip “The Boondocks” is known for its attacks on Republicans, went on the syndicated television show “America’s Black Forum” this past week and denounced National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice as a killer.

“I don’t like Condoleezza Rice because she’s a murderer,” Mr. McGruder said, adding, “We can discuss this illegal Iraq war, the slaughtering of innocent people, and because she’s one of the big hawks in this administration, I do not even see why this is a point of contention.”

Syndicated columnist Armstrong Williams reacted angrily.

“You called the national security adviser a murderer, and I don’t think you really meant that,” Mr. Williams said. “I think you should be very careful being in the position that you’re in making that kind of allegation on a national television show.”

Mr. McGruder replied, “I’m not saying she’s not doing her job well. I think it’s the job of these people to go into Third World countries and kill people in large numbers to put forth whatever the agenda is of the administration.”

I have nothing to say, but feel free to click on the Drinks and say something, yourself.

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The Sooner the Better

November 13th, 2003 - 12:59 am

George Will on Howard Dean’s campaign finance:

There may be more moral vanity in Howard Dean than in any politician since Woodrow Wilson, which is why Dean is incapable of admitting that he has ever been wrong or changed his mind (about Medicare cuts, raising the retirement age, NAFTA, basing affirmative action on class rather than race, etc.). So now he says that unless he abandons public financing, his money will be gone when the primaries are over. Then Bush could spend to speak to the nation all summer, while he, Dean, would fall silent until after the Democratic convention, when he would get a fresh infusion of public money.

But notice that Dean’s argument concedes what campaign finance regulators deny — that money is tantamount to speech, and therefore limits on political money limit political speech. Note also that Dean refuses to limit the spending of his privately raised money in the primaries to the amount that his publicly financed rivals will be spending. Obviously his decision to rely on private money is motivated not just by fear of Bush after the primaries but also by his desire to outspend his rivals in primaries.

And there’s not a damn thing wrong with that. Dean should be respected for disdaining Federal matching funds, but should be disdained himself for his moral cowardice in pretending to leave the decision up to his supporters.

As George Soros proves, the Campaign Finance Reform Act is a joke. And as Will notes, it’s in violation of the First Amendment.

Kill it already.

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Lucy/Charlie Brown/Football

November 13th, 2003 - 12:43 am

From The New York Times:

The Palestinian leader, Yasir Arafat, and his prime minister called Wednesday for reconciliation with Israel and delivered strong pleas to restart the troubled Middle East peace plan in speeches to the Palestinian parliament, which approved a new government.

“We do not deny the right of the Israeli people to live in security side by side with the Palestinian people also living in their own independent state,” Mr. Arafat told the parliamentary session, which was held at his badly damaged compound in Ramallah.

And this time, he means it.

The obvious lie doesn’t gall me. Not anymore. I’ve had my say and my fill about/of the Palestinians already, and nothing short of a chem/bio/nuke attack can make me any angrier with them.

What does gall me is, the reporter (Greg Myre) chose to juxtapose Arafat’s “promise” quote — which Myre leaves unchallenged — with his “badly damaged compound.” See? Arafat wants peace, even though those damn Jews keep pounding away at his home.

Two posts ago, I commented that European anti-Semitism isn’t limited to the right wing anymore. Same goes for The New York Times.

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And Don’t Even Think About the Wasabi

November 13th, 2003 - 12:32 am

Time was, I’d have regretted missing this Seattle party:

Saturday night at Bonzai in Pioneer Square, a nearly naked woman is laid out on a table. A chef slices sushi behind her, to be arrayed on her torso, bare except for a sheath of plastic wrap and some decorative flower petals.

Chopsticks at the ready, patrons line up.

Today, my only question is: Where’d they put the pickled ginger?

UPDATE: Kate, I don’t know art, but I know what I like.

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Short People Got No Reason

November 13th, 2003 - 12:27 am

Greece’s most popular composer, Mikis Theodorakis,

was flanked by Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos and Education Minister Petros Efthymiou when he made the comments at a November 4 reception for the publication of his autobiography, an event covered massively by the Greek media.

Film footage showed neither minister reacted when Theodorakis said Greeks and Jews “are two peoples without kin, but they had fanaticism and self-knowledge and managed to prevail.”

“Today, we can say that these little people are the root of evil,” said Theodorakis, 78, a committed leftist and political activist who was jailed under the fascist junta that held power in Greece in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

It seems European anti-Semitism isn’t confined to the right wing anymore. Then again, anyone who has been following French or German politics lately already knew that.

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Required Reading

November 13th, 2003 - 12:24 am

I don’t normally link to partisan grandstanding, but in this case the Democrats started it.

So today’s Required Reading is an op-ed from Kansas Republican Senator (and Select Intelligence Committee member) Pat Roberts:

Committee staff members have reviewed thousands of pages of documents and interviewed more than 100 analysts and experts. It is probably the most comprehensive review of intelligence since the creation of the committee in 1976. Notwithstanding this monumental effort, Democrats have been calling for an expansion of the committee’s review to include the “use” of intelligence by Bush administration policymakers.

While this sounds reasonable on the surface, it conceals a more nefarious intent. A memo written by the committee’s Democratic staff, revealed in the press last week, makes clear that the minority’s goal is to prejudge and use the committee’s review and what the memo describes as “vague notions regarding the use of intelligence” to “castigate” the Republican members of the committee and conduct a partisan attack on the president. I will not allow this to happen.

As the Prof says, read the whole thing.

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Take Two Parties and Call Me in the Morning

November 13th, 2003 - 12:17 am

War is a serious business. Total war, such as the WWI & II, is more serious still.

Total war means rationing. It means car factories switched over to tank and aircraft production, and everybody making do with the cars they bought before the war. It means cutting spending down to the bone, to pay for the war. (War spending is wasteful enough all on its own. It was a Senate committee investigating wasteful WWII spending which gave its chairman, Harry Truman, a bbright enough spotlight to become President Roosevelt’s 1944 runningmate.)

We’re lucky today, because our enemies are feeble enough, and our country is rich enough, that we don’t have to move to a total war economy. Our Republican Congress, however, feels it also means they don’t have to do any economizing at all. Read:

Confounding President Bush’s pledges to rein in government growth, federal discretionary spending expanded by 12.5 percent in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, capping a two-year bulge that saw the government grow by more than 27 percent, according to preliminary spending figures from congressional budget panels.

The sudden rise in spending subject to Congress’s annual discretion stands in marked contrast to the 1990s, when such discretionary spending rose an average of 2.4 percent a year. Not since 1980 and 1981 has federal spending risen at a similar clip.

To put things into perspective: in 1980-81, the country was mired in the worst recession in the post-war period, and defense spending, originally increased by Carter, was undergoing yet another big boost under Reagan — all to win the Cold War. Oh, and those spendthrift Democrats ran Congress.

When it comes to spending, it no longer matter whether or not we’re at war — or which party controls Congress. Majorities inevitably prefer to keep themselves that way, by buying your votes with your grandchildren’s dollars.

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That’s the Way of the World

November 13th, 2003 - 12:03 am

Frustrating techie item from Ananova:

Compact discs could be history within five years, superseded by a new generation of fingertip-sized memory tabs with no moving parts.

Scientists say each paper-thin device could store more than a gigabyte of information – equivalent to 1,000 high quality images – in one cubic centimetre of space.

Experts have developed the technology by melding together organic and inorganic materials in a unique way.

They say it could be used to produce a single-use memory card that permanently stores data and is faster and easier to operate than a CD.

It’s claimed that turning the invention into a commercially viable product might take as little as five years.

Great. Now I have to buy all my Earth Wind & Fire albums in another new format?

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Moral Equivalency Watch

November 12th, 2003 - 2:59 pm

James Joyner catches Time magazine in an especially egregious example.

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“The Past Through Tomorrow”

November 12th, 2003 - 2:45 pm

Shell writes from this side of the Atlantic:

In 100 years time, which of the presidents of our time will be remembered by the average guy? If they are remembered, what will they be remembered for?

This isn’t a debate about which president is better. Merely memorable. Because it’s my post, I’m going to limit it to presidents I actually remember (I was born in 72) but feel free to go back as far as the presidents you remember if you like.

* Jimmy Carter
* Ronald Reagan
* George H.W. Bush
* Bill Clinton
* George W. Bush

What do you think? I will post my opinions tomorrow.

Click on over and share your thoughts.

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History Repeating Itself?

November 12th, 2003 - 2:38 pm

Nelson Ascher reports on Budapest, Palestine, and Iraq.

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November 12th, 2003 - 10:36 am

Vets aren’t the only ones who serve.

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November 12th, 2003 - 10:26 am

Here’s the problem:

The “quasi-hypnotic influence” of television in America has fostered a complacent nation that is a danger to democracy, former Vice President Al Gore said Tuesday.

Here’s the solution:

Former US Vice President Al Gore is reportedly planning to start a liberal TV network to challenge the rise of conservative media.

Uh, Al. . .

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Ken Layne & The Corvids

November 12th, 2003 - 1:43 am

I ordered my copy of “Fought Down” a couple days ago, and Ken tells me the “four weeks” expected for shipping is almost certainly a worst-case scenario.

So what are you waiting for?

UPDATE: Tony Pierce wrote the first review of the new album. Can’t wait ’til my copy arrives.

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This Can’t Go On

November 12th, 2003 - 1:17 am

Bill Safire reports that the Clintons fear that Howard Dean could steal their party from them:

Clintonites were first to take the Dean threat seriously. As reported gleefully in this space (full disclosure: I’m rooting for Dean’s candidacy in hopes of the debacle), the Clinton crowd surrounded ex-Gen. Wesley Clark with Clinton managers, spinmeisters, pollsters and fund-raisers and marched him into battle against Dean.

The Clinton political strategy was, as usual, astute: let Dick Gephardt slow Dean down in Iowa, then push Clark hard enough to upset Dean in New Hampshire, or at least attract enough of the isolationist vote from Dean to let John Kerry squeak through.

The Kennedy wing, he goes on, shares the fear:

So the Kennedy Left moved in to resuscitate John Kerry’s campaign. Kerry is a war hero who led Vietnam Vets Against the War and has long been a Kennedy Senate ally. Some liberals believe he expunged his sin of having voted for this year’s resolution to overthrow Saddam by recently joining Kennedy in voting against paying for it.

The Kennedyization of the Kerry campaign was carried out by Jeanne Shaheen, the former New Hampshire governor. She prevailed on the candidate to fire his longtime manager, Jim Jordan, and replace him with Mary Beth Cahill, Ted Kennedy’s chief of staff. Cahill has impeccable far-left credentials, from Emily’s List fund-raising to Representative Barney Frank’s staff. She is an ideological soulmate of the superb writer and Kennedy Boston braintruster Robert Shrum, who has been battling Jordan to yank Kerry’s moderate position over to the demonstrative dovecote.

I have an honest question for Clinton and Kennedy fans: Why wouldn’t you want Dean to shake up the Democratic party? Sure, change hurts — but any more of the status quo and there won’t be a party in 10 years. Already, the South is lost, the Rocky Mountain west and rural midwest are, too, and you’re decreasingly competitive in the industrial midwest. Do you really want to be a party of the West Coast and bits of the northeast?

So shake things up before the party is over.

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