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Monthly Archives: December 2003

Happy New Year

December 31st, 2003 - 3:41 pm

Let’s face it: New Year’s is amateur night, just like St. Patrick’s Day has become. Losers who stay home the other 363 nights of the year all come out those two nights, and try to ruin it for those of us who really know how to play.

So last year, The Gang tried something different — and it was so good, it became an instant tradition.

We have a small, private party. Couples only, except for one or two well-trained teenage children to act as bartenders. Each couple must bring two gourmet appetizers, a killer desert, and a bottle of good champagne.

Women in classy dresses, men in tuxedos. High-heeled shoes may come off almost immediately, but everyone must stay otherwise dressed until midnight. We eat too much and drink too much, but you’ll usually find three or four of The Survivors still in the hot tub at dawn.

I’ll be making my Beef Carpaccio. Melissa prepared a Double Chocolate Torte. What else will we be eating? Won’t have a clue until I get there.

Anyway, all of this is just a long-winded way of wishing you a very happy new year, and excusing myself from blogging tomorrow.

Cheers!

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50 Things That Will Happen in 2004

December 31st, 2003 - 12:52 am

Ralph Nader will run for President again, but do worse than in 2000.

The Libertarians will nominate an anti-war candidate, and also do worse.

The Democratic Convention will be the most unruly and watchable since 1968.

The Republican Convention will be the most saccharine and unwatchable since 1984.

Dennis Kucinich will propose a Constitutional amendment granting the vote to kitties.

Howard Dean will come in second in Iowa to Dick Gephardt, win by less than 18 points over John Kerry in New Hampshire, and do no better than second in South Carolina. (However, he’s still the most likely nominee.)

John Kerry will drop out of the race after South Carolina.

Teresa Heinz Kerry will file for divorce in December, citing “irreconcilable finances.”

That same month, John Edwards will announce he’s returning to his legal practice come 2005.

Joe Lieberman will stick around through Super Tuesday.

Wesley Clark will be the Democrat’s vice-presidential candidate.

George W. Bush will be reelected with 52-53% of the popular vote, in a low-turnout election.

Hillary Clinton will watch and smile.

This time around, there will be allegations of voting discrepancies in Florida and California.

Turnout will be low because we’ll witness the nastiest presidential campaign in living memory.

Despite (or perhaps because of) the McCain-Feingold campaign reform law, more money than ever will be spent on elections.

The Democrats will keep John Breaux’s old Senate seat

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The VodkaPundit Annual Year in Review

December 31st, 2003 - 12:05 am

2003

OK, so that happened.

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Blogging for Dollars

December 30th, 2003 - 5:24 pm

Gary Farber has been giving you good blog for a couple years — and now he needs your help. Think about giving something back.

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Or Quadruple to Take a Bullet

December 30th, 2003 - 2:12 pm

James Joyner looks at blogger responses to Howard Dean’s pledge to raise the minimum wage:

Kevin [Drum] also renews his push for indexing the minimum wage to congressional salaries at the ten percent level, which he calculates would be $7.50 at present. Aside from market considerations, my initial reaction was that an unskilled laborer wasn’t worth ten percent of what a congressman makes. But it didn’t take me long to come up with a list of congressmen who aren’t even worth $7.50 an hour, so maybe he has a point.

No, no, no! A congressman’s salary — and his value to the nation — could easily be doubled, with the condition that he stay the hell home.

Except, of course, for certain members who should be given triple wages and placed in orbit around Mars.

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Don’t Forget the Burritos

December 30th, 2003 - 2:03 pm

Blackfive, the “Paratrooper of Love,” has some advice for avoiding that New Year’s Day hangover:

Water will not help you. Many hangover cures claim that drinking water will cut the pain and agony of a dehydration headache resulting from drinking heavily. Now, I want you people to repeat these words: Water is for washing, booze is for drinking. Say it over and over again until it is ingrained in your memory. If someone offers you water, tell them you are thirsty, not dirty.

So far, so good. But what’s this third item about?

There are those blasphemers that believe that Cogeners are the cause. Evidently, cogeners are darker in color and, therefore, are found in darker beverages like scotch, whiskey, and rum. I have found that this “discovery” was fabricated by the Russian mafia in an effort to promote vodka as the drink of choice. This is obviously false as I have personally experienced more excruciating mornings as the result of vodka than scotch.

There’s room in any healthy diet for vodka and scotch. Can’t we all just get along — or at least a drink?

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The Brutal Truth

December 30th, 2003 - 10:42 am

Iran’s mullahs still don’t get it:

President Mohammad Khatami said Tuesday U.S. aid to earthquake victims in Iran, while welcome, would not alter the state of relations between the two arch foes who broke off ties nearly a quarter century ago.

“I don’t think this incident will change our relations with the United States,” Khatami told a news conference in the capital of southeastern Kerman province where officials say up to 50,000 people were killed in a quake that struck Friday.

Of course American aid to Iranian earthquake victims won’t improve our relations with Iran. Their government still denies basic freedoms to its people, still tries to treat women as chattel, is still pursuing nuclear weapons, still provides financial and material support to terrorist groups, and is still just a bloody-minded bunch of 14th Century theocrats who cling to power through midnight arrests and occassionally shooting its restless college students.

We’re helping because we want to, and because we can. That’s just how we Americans are. If we wanted to buy Tehran’s friendship, we’d call ourselves France.

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Pub Crawling

December 30th, 2003 - 9:19 am

I’ll have whatever she’s having.

(Hat tip: James Joyner.)

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Late Holiday Shopping

December 30th, 2003 - 8:22 am

What do our troops in Iraq really want to get from home? Jim Dunnigan has the answer.

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Puppy Blogging

December 30th, 2003 - 2:32 am

Click for the full-size pic. . .

. . .Because I got my bride a digital camera for Christmas, and because my puppy is cuter than yours.

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More to Follow

December 30th, 2003 - 2:21 am

Here’s the teaser from Drudge:

According to recently uncovered documents in Iraq, a Syrian trading company with close ties to the ruling regime smuggled weapons and military hardware to Saddam Hussein between 2000 and 2003, establishing Syria as the main channel for illegal transfers to Baghdad during the U.N. embargo, the LOS ANGELES TIMES will report in Tuesday papers… Developing…

More later, once we have a link.

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Almost Giving Away the Punchline

December 30th, 2003 - 1:53 am

Lileks is pissed, Hitchens gets pissed; screedy goodness follows.

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Required Reading

December 30th, 2003 - 1:11 am

In today’s New York Times, David Brooks writes about the fluidity of the American religious experience:

George W. Bush was born into an Episcopal family and raised as a Presbyterian, but he is now a Methodist. Howard Dean was baptized Catholic, and raised as an Episcopalian. He left the church after it opposed a bike trail he was championing, and now he is a Congregationalist, though his kids consider themselves Jewish.

Wesley Clark’s father was Jewish. As a boy he was Methodist, then decided to become a Baptist. In adulthood he converted to Catholicism, but he recently told Beliefnet .com, “I’m a Catholic, but I go to a Presbyterian church.”

What other country on earth would have three national political figures with such peripatetic religious backgrounds?

As always with Required Reading, you have to go read the whole thing. Maybe I just found Brooks’s piece interesting because while I’m fascinated by religion, I don’t have one — so I can take a more dispassionate view.

But I’d like to hear back from those of you who do have a dog in this fight, on whichever side.

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Purple Bloggers’ Magesty

December 30th, 2003 - 1:04 am

Andrew Olmstead has the latest Rocky Mountain Blogger Roundup. Good stuff.

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New Blogs

December 30th, 2003 - 12:50 am

My blog reading habits have grown pretty damn stale in recent months, and that has to change. From now on, or at least until I lose the sticky note reminder, I’ll link to one new-to-me blog each and every day.

Today, check out Jody’s Writing Naked.

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Santa’s Little Helper

December 30th, 2003 - 12:44 am

Now that’s a happy baby!

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Run That By Me Again

December 30th, 2003 - 12:21 am

E. J. Dionne Jr. wrote what could have been an interesting — if blatantly partisan — explaination of why some Democrats hate President Bush so much. After all, if I want to know why some Republicans hated President Clinton, I’d ask one of those rabid rightie sorts who think Clinton was importing cocaine into Arkansas. And if I want to know why Democrats hate Bush, who better to ask than Dionne?

Well, I’d have been better off asking someone who can at least keep his silliness somewhat sensible. Read:

. . .just before the elections, Bush went after Democrats for their stand on the homeland security bill, turning the very ground on which bipartisanship had been built into an electoral battlefield.

Republicans won in 2002, but Bush lost most Democrats forever. Conservative critics of “Bush hatred” like to argue that opposition to the president is a weird psychological affliction. It is nothing of the sort. It is a rational response to getting burned. They are, as a friend once put it, biting the hand that slapped them in the face.

No one understood this sense of betrayal better or earlier than Howard Dean. Dean’s candidacy took off because many in the Democratic rank and file were furious that Washington Democrats allowed themselves to be taken to the cleaners

Let me get this straight. Democrats hate Bush because they’re mad at Democrats who supported him?

I need a drink.

And if Dionne is somehow correct, make it a double.

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Money Money Money

December 30th, 2003 - 12:01 am

We’ve seen this headline so many times in the last year, I’ve lost count:

Euro: New Record High vs. the Dollar

So where does the euro now stand? It takes more than a buck and a quarter to buy one.

Let’s put that into a perspective I can understand. I went to Germany in 1984, when on a good day, you could get 2.80 Deutschmarks for a dollar. Then came the Great Devaluation, when our twin deficits (current accounts and federal spending) caused the dollar to drop to about 1.80-2.00DM. When the euro went into effect, it was worth about two DM

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Kitchen & Workbench

December 29th, 2003 - 8:39 pm

Comparing Black & Decker to DeWalt is like comparing Martha Stewart cookware to Calphalon — there ain’t no comparison.

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Human Hive Minds*

December 29th, 2003 - 3:31 pm

Print this, and use it for your bedtime reading.

*Not a typo.

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Shop Talk III

December 29th, 2003 - 3:20 pm

Anyone doubt the Democratic primary is really about whether the Clinton or Gore faction will control the party? Read this:

Democratic presidential hopeful Wesley Clark’s new television commercial includes a clip of him and Bill Clinton. It’s the first ad of the 2004 campaign to include an image of the former president, arguably America’s most popular Democrat.

The clip is only a few seconds and shows Clinton walking from a podium at the White House to place the Presidential Medal of Freedom over Clark’s head, honoring his fellow Arkansan for his work in Kosovo as NATO supreme allied commander.

It is one of several scenes in the 30-second ad that was to start running Monday night in New Hampshire, where Clark is trailing Howard Dean and John Kerry in polls. The commercial includes footage of Clark with a short-order cook, a solider and schoolchildren in a classroom.

Campaign advisers say the ad is meant to illustrate that Clark would be the kind of leader who not only has seen ordinary people do extraordinary things in their lifetimes, but who has been honored for such accomplishments.

As the Clinton clip is shown, an announcer in the ad says that Clark is a leader who has been “decorated for valor and for service in our country.”

Of course, an argument could be made that there’s a third faction: Dick Gephardt represents the last of the old New Deal coalition. But that’s a spent force, unlikely to return, and with no major players left in the DNC hierarchy.

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Blogrolling

December 29th, 2003 - 1:34 pm

Here’s something new: A lawyer with a blog.

Seriously, Spitbull is worth checking out.

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The Great Debate

December 29th, 2003 - 1:30 pm

I’ve been dared to join the battle — over cookware.

I’ll say it right out front: I’m a Calphalon guy.

Is All-Clad better than Calphalon? It certainly is. Is it worth the 25%-40% premium they usually get over Calphalon? Not a chance.

I took the (expensive) dive into Calphalon ten years ago, buying a complete set of their commercial-grade anodized aluminum cookware. The advantages of anodized aluminum are that it heats quickly and evenly (assuming an uniform thickness throughout, which the commercial stuff has), and with the triple-riveted handles, it will last a lifetime. Or two. With proper care, my grandkids will be using my stuff. Another advantage is that the anodization process creates an amazingly hard surface. It’s not non-stick — not by a longshot — but with a good Scotch Bright pad, there’s nothing you can’t clean off the stuff.

The disadvantage is, everything sticks to it. Don’t try frying bacon in one, unless you want to add extra oil or are planning on reducing them to bacon bits.

So I bought a couple of Calphalon’s commercial non-stick frying pans. They’re only double-riveted, and a non-stick surface isn’t permanent. I doubt they’ll last my lifetime, but they’re also cheap compared to the aluminum pieces. I’m happy with them for what they are — inexpensive, good-quality non-stick pans.

Then I realzed I needed some copper stuff.

Look, nothing cooks like copper. Nothing. So, semi-serious cook that I am, I started pricing All-Clad’s copper stuff last year. And I damn near had a heart attack. A copper exterior, wrapped around an aluminum core, with a semi-non-stick, non-reactive, stainless steel interior. But I’d already written a check for our honeymoon, and another check for her wedding gift — and so new copper cookware was out of the question.

Then Calphalon came out with a near-identical copper line, called Tri-Ply Copper — at about 2/3rds the price. And that was before they started offering discounts.

So far, we have a six-quart stock pot, a three-quart chef’s pan, a 2.5-quart sauce pan, and a five-quart saute pan. The only thing I’m sorry about is, I’m going to have to play favorites in my will — leave the aluminum to the naughty child and the copper to the nice one.

And All-Clad? It’s great stuff, but I just can’t see spending the money on it.

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Shop Talk II

December 29th, 2003 - 9:58 am

I know lots of readers here don’t like John Zogby because of his politics — but he’s a better than average pollster. And while I don’t normally put much stock in polls, tracking polls are more reliable. Here are Zogby’s numbers for December, from Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina:

December Polling Data

What’s interesting is, Howard Dean doesn’t look nearly as invincible as he’s been portrayed. He and Dick Gephardt are in a statistical dead heat in Iowa, when you take into account the margin of error. And nobody is leading in South Carolina. (What I’d really like to see is a good, monthlong tracking poll for every Super Tuesday state — I’m betting the South has yet to coalesce around any candidate.)

And then there’s New Hampshire, where Dean has a 30-point lead (give or take) ahead of John Kerry, his closest competitor. But be wary of polls from the Granite State. Voters there don’t like to be told what to do, not even by their own selves.

So while we don’t yet know who the anti-Dean candidate is, we do know it will probably be either Wes Clark or Dick Gephardt.

If Clark catches on in the South via the South Carolina primary, then we could see a head-on battle between the Clinton (Clark) and Gore (Dean) factions come Super Tuesday.

Then again, if Gephardt manages to eke out a win in Iowa, then anyone-but-Dean voters might decide he’s their guy. And his (admittedly soft) pro-war stance could make him palatable to southern voters, and — unlike Clark — his Democratic Party credentials are immaculate.

Not only is this primary race not over, it’s hardly even begun.

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New Leaf

December 29th, 2003 - 9:31 am

Back in August, I wrote:

And the fact is, we have

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Go Phish

December 29th, 2003 - 8:54 am

Techie item from Internet Week:

E-mail phishing attacks jumped over 400 percent during the holidays, according to an analysis released Wednesday of scams reported to clearinghouse Anti-Phishing.org.

Phishing, the term used to describe malignant e-mail posing as legitimate messages from banks, retailers, and credit card companies, soared in November and December as scammers took advantage of the holiday rush to try to trick users into divulging personal and financial information.

With a little 20/20 hindsight, the phishing increase is easy to predict.

I saw a report on one of the business shows last week that online holiday shopping increased 46% over last year. Whether that was due to an improving economy, the weekend blizzards in the northeast, or just because people are getting more used to the Internet — we’ll never know. But whatever the reason, you can bet a good portion of that increase was due to first-time internet shoppers, the kind of people most likely to fall for a phishing scam.

And the scammers knew it, too.

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Shop Talk

December 29th, 2003 - 12:51 am

What to make of this?

Complaining about the torrent of attacks raining down on him from his rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination, Howard Dean on Sunday criticized his party’s national chairman, Terry McAuliffe, for not intervening to tone down the debate.

“If we had strong leadership in the Democratic Party, they would be calling those other candidates and saying, `Hey look, somebody’s going to have to win here,’ ” Dr. Dean, the former governor of Vermont, told reporters trailing him as he campaigned through central Iowa. Referring to one of Mr. McAuliffe’s predecessors, he added, “If Ron Brown were the chairman, this wouldn’t be happening.”

Dr. Dean also implied that many of his supporters, particularly young people, might stay home in November if another Democrat’s name ends up on the ballot.

President Reagan made famous his 11th Commandment: “One shall not speak ill towards a fellow Republican.” If it was ever followed, the 11th was no longer even observed even in the breach by the time of the 1988 Republican primary contest. That’s just the way primary races are run.

Naturally then, the guy at the front of the pack is going to find a lot of buckshot in his ass. That, too, is the nature of politics. It’s also completely natural for the frontrunner to want complain a bit about being everyone’s favorite target. But I can’t think of an instance where a primary leader publically complained to (and about!) the party leadership.

(Aside: If Dean were to win next November, would he be addressed as Dr. President?)

Part of Dean’s complaint, I’d guess, is yet more public infighting between the Clinton/McAuliffe and Gore/Dean wings of the Democratic Party. There’s a real fight going on for the soul of the party — or rather, for that nasty dark thing political parties have in place of souls — and Dean may think it will serve him to take McAullife down a notch.

But it sure as hell looks bad to the public. Especially that last line I quoted, where Dean practically threatens to take his bat and ball home if he doesn’t get his way.

The good news for Dean is, the general public isn’t yet paying attention. But the chattering class certainly is — and today’s story is one more example of the anti-Dean backlash we’ve seen in the media since shortly after the Gore endorsement.

More to follow.

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He’s Back

December 28th, 2003 - 11:22 am

I’m back in town, and regular blogging will resume tomorrow.

Spent the five days before Christmas back in St. Louis making arrangements for the funeral of Preston M. Green, my grandfather. I’d never had to make those kinds of decisions before, and I hope I never have to again — but I know better.

His death was sudden and unexpected — but not tragic. He lived a good life, and he lived it well. Maybe I’ll have more to say about him later, but not yet. Not today.

The good part was, I got to see some old family friends for the first time in years. Ira Gansler, Caron Shore, Al & Mary Baker, and too many others to list. Ira insisted Melissa and I come see him and his family next summer on the beach in Delaware. That was an offer I couldn’t refuse.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some after-Christmas sales to take advantage of. See you Monday.

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Notice

December 19th, 2003 - 11:40 pm

Unexpected family business to take care of. Blogging suspended through Christmas, while I take time off for friends and family.

Enjoy yours.

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Short Review

December 19th, 2003 - 10:26 am

Last night — The Return of the King. IMAX screen. Still breathless.

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