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Monthly Archives: January 2004


January 29th, 2004 - 1:48 pm

The Capitalist Lion writes in defense of Bush:

Bush’s spending pisses me off a great deal, especially on crap like the NEA. However, I believe it’s the same kind of political dance that he’s given the Assault Weapons Ban and a zillion other things of equal stupidity. He’s in an election year. He needs votes. He knows he can get a whole lot of them if he pays lip service to such things, and he also knows he can shrug, give a smirk and play both sides when such things get slaughtered in Congress. “Hey, I tried” on one hand, and “It never had a prayer” on the other.


Bush’s father tried these same stunts in 1992, and it got him laughed at by the Democrats in Congress, and essentially zero votes from Democrats in the election that year.

He was seen as a fool to be taken advantage of by the other side, and as a fool, period, by the voters. And we all know how he fared in the election — he’d so alienated his base that many Republicans either stayed home or voted for Perot.

There’s no Perot this time around (or at least not yet), but you can bet that if Bush doesn’t change his ways, more than a few voters will simply sit on their asses come Election Day.

Remember, winning elections is far far far less about convincing undecideds and the Other Side to vote for you, than it is about motivating your base.

Is Bush motivating his?

NOTE: I say all this as a single-issue voter — my issue being the continued prosecution of this war. Bush almost certainly has my vote, regardless of how determined he is to emulate the worst of his father’s tendencies. What I’d hate is to see my vote wasted in a Francophile Kerry win, because Bush chased away too many of his natural supporters.

UPDATE: James Joyner argues that he’s

not sure how much of a “base” true fiscal conservatives are. Especially when the likely opponents–Kerry? Edwards?–are likely to be even more irresponsible.

The two constituencies that most matter to Bush are people like the two of us who put security #1 and the social conservatives. Bush has done a damned good job at keeping both happy.

And he makes a good case. Bush’s problem won’t be with voters like James and me, it will be with those who only lean towards the war and/or fiscal conservatives. By November, 9/11 will be more than three years in the past and, barring another major attack, most Americans will be feeling pretty safe. “War voters” just might not exist in the numbers necessary to ensure a Bush win.

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Gone Fishin’

January 29th, 2004 - 12:59 pm

Is Joe Trippi really Fredo Corleone?

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January 29th, 2004 - 12:19 pm

I’m seeing lots of excuse-mongering over Bush’s proposed doubling of the NEA budget. The excuses can be summarized as follows:

“It’s only 20 million dollars.”

“The NEA funds Shakespeare.”

“Congress won’t go for it.”

“It’s just a political ploy.”

Now ask yourself, honestly, what you’d be saying if President Gore were the one making the announcement.

“20 million dollars???”

“I don’t care if they fund Shakespeare.”

“Congress had better not go for this.”

“Stupid political ploys.”

And, really, that’s different how?

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January 29th, 2004 - 11:29 am

Double-digit, non-defense spending increases for three years running, and this is where Bush draws his veto pen?

The Bush administration issued a veto threat Thursday against legislation introduced in Congress that would scale back key parts of the anti-terrorism Patriot Act.

In a letter to Senate leaders, Attorney General John Ashcroft said the changes contemplated by the Security and Freedom Ensured Act, or SAFE, would “undermine our ongoing campaign to detect and prevent catastrophic terrorist attacks.”

If the bill reaches President Bush’s desk in its current form, Ashcroft said, “the president’s senior advisers will recommend that it be vetoed.”

True, it’s Ashcroft speaking, not the President. But it’s also true that Bush has never once used his veto power while we pile up the debt.

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“Krazy Kick-Ass Comeback Kid”

January 29th, 2004 - 11:20 am

Mike Kinsley interviews a (somewhat) fictional Democratic presidential candidate:

Q: Governor, in light of your seventh-place showing in five successive primaries, some people are saying it’s time for you to withdraw from the race. What is your reaction to that?

A: Larry, the American people have spoken, and I have heard them loud and clear. They want change, they want leadership, and they demand accountability from all of us who have the privilege of asking for their votes for the highest office in this great country. To withdraw now, simply because the going is tough, would betray everything I stand for. I cannot let down my supporters in that way and still call myself “that krazy kick-ass comeback kid.”

Q: Many people have been hoping you would stop calling yourself that anyway.

Read the whole thing, as they say.

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Follow the Money

January 29th, 2004 - 11:11 am

John Kerry is leading the Democrats in scoring money from the Wall Street money men, but

before Kerry won in Iowa and New Hampshire, former Vermont governor Howard Dean was seen as the Democratic front runner, not Kerry. And while its still very early in the game to call the ultimate front runner, many see Kerry as now assuming that role, and this makes some on Wall Street a little nervous.

“On one hand, he seems more palatable to Wall Street than Dean, in that his positions on trade and taxes are more moderate,” said Greg Valliere, political economist and chief strategist at Charles Schwab Washington Research Group.

“On the other hand, I think the markets weren’t paying all that much attention to the Democratic race two weeks ago when it seemed like Dean would win, because in a Dean vs. Bush race, it was widely assumed on Wall Street that Bush would sweep,” Valliere added. “But this changes things. Kerry’s no Michael Dukakis. A Kerry-[John] Edwards ticket would be more threatening to Bush than Dean.”

Keep an eye on this one. Wall Street loved Bill Clinton, but I’d wager most of that support was due to just two things: incumbency (Wall Street loves predictability) and Treasury Secretary Bob Ruben.

Bush is probably less well-loved, if only because of the so-so economy and all the red ink being spilled on his veto-less watch.

And Kerry? He’s been good in the Senate on free trade, but less so on regulatory matters. If he’s making Wall Street nervous already, then look out.

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From the Front

January 29th, 2004 - 11:01 am

Are the Saudis getting serious about battling al Qaeda? Maybe:

Suspected terrorists exchanged fire with Saudi security forces raiding a house in Riyadh on Thursday, killing several Saudi agents, an Interior Ministry official said. One suspect was arrested.

The shootout came amid heightened security as about 2 million Muslims from around the world flocked to the Saudi kingdom for the start of the annual Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca, or hajj.

Security forces had received a tip about the house in an eastern section of the Saudi capital and came under fire when they arrived, said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

He said one suspected terrorist was captured and an unspecified number of security agents were killed. The official gave no further details.

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Information Overload

January 29th, 2004 - 10:22 am

What’s the problem with the Mars Spirit Rover? Too much info:

Spirit’s science operations halted just as it crawled to the pointy rock and was about to begin drilling into it. The rover’s computer rebooted itself more than 100 times over a two-day period and, at first, sent back beeps but no data. Engineers have since determined that the problem appears to involve too many files overloading the onboard computer memory.

Some days, I know exactly how it feels.

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Shop Talk

January 29th, 2004 - 10:17 am

So, what happened to Howard Dean’s fabled internet money-raising machine? Read:

Howard Dean will not air ads in any of the seven states holding elections next week, officials said Thursday, a risky strategy that puts him at a distinct disadvantage with high-spending rivals for the Democratic nomination.

With his money and momentum depleted, Dean decided to save his ad money for the Feb. 7 elections in Michigan and Washington state and, 10 days later, the primary in Wisconsin, said officials who spoke on condition of anonymity.

If you thought yesterday’s not-quite-firing of Joe Trippi was bad, retrenching on TV spots is even worse. I’ll be the first to say it: Dean will place no better than fourth in South Carolina next week.

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Dumb & Dumber

January 28th, 2004 - 7:16 pm

Yet another teaser from Drudge, this one in red (literally and figuratively) ink:

BUSH TO SEEK BIG BUDGET INCREASE FOR NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR THE ARTS… Laura Bush plans to announce the request — for the largest increase in two decades — on Thursday… Developing…

That’s it — this guy is determined to try to buy votes from the left, just like G.H.W. Bush tried to do 12 years ago. Didn’t work then, won’t work now, will piss off fiscal conservatives like myself.

UPDATE: For those knee-jerk Bush supporters who doubt the veracity of the Drudge teaser, here’s the story from the New York Times:

President Bush will seek a big increase in the budget of the National Endowment for the Arts, the largest single source of support for the arts in the United States, administration officials said on Wednesday.

The proposal is part of a turnaround for the agency, which was once fighting for its life, attacked by some Republicans as a threat to the nation’s moral standards.

Laura Bush plans to announce the request on Thursday, in remarks intended to show the administration’s commitment to the arts, aides said.

Administration officials, including White House budget experts, said that Mr. Bush would propose an increase of $15 million to $20 million for the coming fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1. That would be the largest rise in two decades and far more than the most recent increases, about $500,000 for 2003 and $5 million for this year.

A billion here, a billion there — pretty soon you’re a Me-Too Republican.

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January 28th, 2004 - 3:50 pm

Here’s the story promised earlier:

Howard Dean shook up his presidential campaign on Wednesday after absorbing back-to-back defeats, replacing his campaign manager Joe Trippi and bringing in a longtime associate of former Vice President Al Gore to try and stabilize his faltering candidacy, Democratic sources said.

After all the good a Gore endorsement did for Dean, you have to wonder why he’d hire a Gore man to run his campaign.

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More Later

January 28th, 2004 - 3:07 pm

Here’s the teaser from Drudge:

After successive defeats in Iowa and New Hampshire, Howard Dean is making former Al Gore operative Roy Neel his campaign’s chief operating officer… Developing…

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(Blue) Water Retention

January 28th, 2004 - 2:51 pm

More on declining American morale:

Despite the demands of the war on terror, the U.S. Navy broke retention records for the third year in a row in 2003. Retention is getting sailors to re-enlist when their time is up. For 2003, 60.8 percent of the sailors on their first enlistment stayed in, while 76.5 percent of those with 6-10 years service stayed in and 87.4 percent of those with 10-14 years service did so. For the 28th month in a row, recruiters were able to raise standards for new recruits (high school diploma, college and other studies, physical condition and test scores).

Most interesting is that last item. Despite the war, recruiters are doing well enough to raise standards, rather than lower them.

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Wednesday’s Model

January 28th, 2004 - 2:05 pm


Internet security experts found a new version of the Mydoom computer virus, dubbed the Mydoom.B, that evades detection measures for the original virus, Finland’s F-Secure said.

“The new virus has been modified so that the original Mydoom anti-virus protection does not detect it,” Mikko Hyppoenen, director of F-Secure’s anti-virus division, told AFP.

“It is in the wild, and computers are getting infected, but so far in less numbers than by the original Mydoom virus,” he added.

Norton AntiVirus has already intercepted 20+ infected emails today, not including the many more sent to dummy addresses on my server. We having fun yet? Wait — it gets better:

In addition it has a new feature, rendering it impossible to access websites of several anti-virus software firms from infected computers, he said.

Update your AV software before you get hit.

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At the Movies

January 28th, 2004 - 1:52 pm

Cold Mountain got the shaft:

“Cold Mountain,” Anthony Minghella’s $83 million Civil War epic failed to nab key nominations for best picture, best director, or for its screenplay or lead actress Nicole Kidman. It received nominations for actors Jude Law and Renee Zellweger, and for cinematography, editing and music, but that’s all. Was it a snub of its studio, Miramax, considered the most dominant player at recent Oscar ceremonies?

There’s another possibility.

I haven’t seen the movie, so what I’m about to say is based solely on the trailer (which I saw at a screening of Return of the King). If the trailer represented the movie properly, then the theme of the thing seemed to be “war is so terrible, that there’s nothing worth fighting for.”

I could be wrong. I only saw the trailer. But the message it sent was enough to put me off seeing the movie. And maybe enough to put off Oscar voters?

Anyone here seen it?

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Lining’em Up

January 28th, 2004 - 1:12 pm

I know endorsements don’t mean much (just ask Howard Dean), but. . .

South Carolina Rep. Jim Clyburn intends to endorse John Kerry, officials said Wednesday, a coup for the Democratic presidential front-runner the day after his win in New Hampshire.

The backing of the six-term Democratic congressman, the dominant black politician in his state, is critical in South Carolina, where almost half the voters in the Feb. 3 primary are expected to be minorities. Clyburn was courted by all of the Democratic presidential candidates.

Clyburn had been carrying water in SC for Dick Gephardt — and John Edwards had been hoping to pick up his endorsement after Gephardt dropped out.

Now it looks like all Edwards has is his charm and the hope that SC voters won’t go for a South-disdaining Kerry.

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A Simple Plan

January 28th, 2004 - 12:41 pm

Glenn linked to this story this morning, but you have to read way down to get to the really good stuff:

But al-Jouf shows what everyone knows: that tribes will switch their ‘allegiance’ as soon as it is convenient.

Residents say the final straw was the build-up to the invasion of Iraq, when United States troops took control of the airport in the nearby Arar, the kingdom’s official border crossing with Iraq.

This was deeply resented by all Saudis, but especially by al-Jouf’s residents, who have historic tribal links to Iraqis across the border.

Many local officers in the Saudi army resigned at the time in protest against being relieved temporarily of their duties by US soldiers, say Saudi opposition groups.

Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Saudis have since sneaked across the border into Iraq to join the jihad against US-led occupation forces.

Corrupt as the Saudi royal family is, stories like this one make me worry about what might replace it.

Best solution in case of dissolution? Extend Jordan down the Red Sea coast to the holy cities of Mecca and Medina, as was promised to the Hashemite family after WWI. The Eastern Province — home to oil and Shi’as, to be united with their Arab Shi’a brethren across the border in southern Iraq. And the Bedouins of the interior can fight one another over what’s left: sand and hate.

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Be Sure to Tip Your Waiter

January 28th, 2004 - 11:48 am

I’m shocked, shocked:

Documents from Saddam Hussein’s oil ministry reveal he used oil to bribe top French officials into opposing the imminent U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

The oil ministry papers, described by the independent Baghdad newspaper al-Mada, are apparently authentic and will become the basis of an official investigation by the new Iraqi Governing Council, the Independent reported Wednesday.

“I think the list is true,” Naseer Chaderji, a governing council member, said. “I will demand an investigation. These people must be prosecuted.”

Such evidence would undermine the French position before the war when President Jacques Chirac sought to couch his opposition to the invasion on a moral high ground.

“Moral ground” is French for “petrodollars.”

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No One Is to Blame

January 28th, 2004 - 11:32 am

From the New York Times:

The independent commission investigating the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks announced on Tuesday that it was seeking an extension of its deadline to complete the investigation until at least July, raising the prospect of a public fight with the White House and a final report delivered in the heat of the presidential campaign.

The White House and Republican Congressional leaders have said they see no need to extend the congressionally mandated deadline, now set for May 27, and a spokesman for Speaker J. Dennis Hastert said Tuesday that Mr. Hastert would oppose any legislation to grant the extension.

Politically, I understand why the Republicans don’t want the investigation extended — having the commission report during the hottest part of Bush’s reelection campaign might look bad.

But they’re wrong.

My read is, people are less concerned with who to blame for 9/11 than they are with making sure it doesn’t happen again. No sane person I’ve talked to thinks that Bush should be blamed for 9/11; they understand that there was, to put it nicely, a collossal screw-up by lots of people. Prevention, on the other hand, is Bush

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Shopping to the Right

January 28th, 2004 - 11:10 am

Get yer right wing gear here.

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Horse Race?

January 28th, 2004 - 11:07 am

Larry Sabato:

In 1972 Democrats’ hatred of Richard Nixon was not enough to produce a strong nominee against him. In fact, Democrats were so unconcerned about electability that they chose perhaps the weakest possible candidate: George McGovern, who lost in a November landslide. Likewise, in 1996 the Republicans’ powerful desire to beat Bill Clinton did not yield a potent nominee. The GOP picked the “next in line” candidate: Bob Dole, who lost by a wide margin to Clinton. In 2004 however, Democrats are clearly going with their heads not their hearts (even as we approach the Feast of Saint Valentine). Rightly or wrongly, the activists voting in the early contests are often passing over their first choice and selecting the candidate they believe can win in November. Thus, the Democrats of 2004 may accomplish a feat that eluded the Democrats of 1972 and the Republicans of 1996.

So how strong is Kerry? Or maybe the question is, how strong does Kerry really need to be, when Bush is getting weaker with his conservative base?

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Tune In

January 28th, 2004 - 11:03 am

Not-quite guest-blogger Will Collier writes:

Kevin Broughton (the conservative guy who took charge of the Dean campaign in Mississippi) tells me he’s going to be interviewed on Fox News between 5 and 5:30 (EST) today, John Gibson show.

Kevin is nuts; if nothing else, it’ll be damn entertaining…

I’ll be watching.

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March on the South

January 27th, 2004 - 8:57 pm

Well, it looks like New Hampshire voters defied expectations by failing to defy expectations.

The hype the last week has been (apart, of course, from Dean’s Iowa disaster followed by his near-miraculous recovery as predicted here last week) that NH voters are a cantankerous lot, prone to proving the pollsters wrong just for the sake of sticking it to the pollsters.

But not this year — the results were almost exactly in line with Zogby’s numbers yesterday and this morning.

So what’s it all mean?

It means John Kerry has some real strength in the upper midwest and New England — two places where a mostly-old school Democrat should poll well.

It means Howard Dean still has some wind in his sails. How much? We’ll find out in South Carolina.

It means Wes Clark has yet to find a home anywhere — which is kind of typical for career Army guys.

It means John Edwards had better do well in South Carolina, otherwise he’s going to find himself short of money — death to any candidate.

It means Joe Lieberman needs to go back to just being that nice Senator from that small state back East.

And the big picture? Not sure if there is one just yet. If Kerry can eke out wins in the South, or at least stay above (what I think might become) an Edwards-Clark bruisefest, then he’s going to be almost impossible to beat. I still think the race will come down to a contest between Kerry and Edwards, but if the pretty boy can’t raise more money, then he’s as good as gone.

Super Tuesday is too expensive to run on a shoestring, yet that’s exactly what Al Sharpton is doing — which complicates matters further for Edwards. But my gut still tells me he’s got a strong shot at the nomination.

THOUGHT: If we end up with a Kerry-Edwards ticket (or Edwards-Kerry), Republicans should adopt this informal slogan: “Flush twice. We’ve got two Johns.”

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Virus News

January 27th, 2004 - 3:18 pm

Not my sore throat. Rather, the latest virus/worm/whatever going around the internet. I’ve gotten infected emails now from both Michael Barone’s mailing list and PC Mag columnist John Dvorak’s vanity site.

Don’t these guys keep their virus lists updated?

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January 27th, 2004 - 1:25 pm

Will Collier — who I might have to make a guest-blogger while I’m under the weather — sent in this Newsday story on the last minutes of the Space Shuttle Columbia. As Will noted, it’s tough reading, especially the part describing exactly what NASA thinks happened during re-entry.

Excuse the lengthy extract:

. . .even as the Columbia astronauts chatted about the light show outside, the hole in Columbia’s left wing was disrupting that boundary layer. Ever more air molecules were shooting into the inside of the wing at RCC panel 8 and slamming into the insulation protecting the panel attachment fittings, swirling through the cavity and spreading out to either side. At that altitude, the effect was small. But the shuttle was descending, and the air was getting thicker with each passing second. With Columbia in a 40-degree nose-up orientation, the plume entering the breach in RCC panel 8 was aimed at the upper attachment fittings and insulation. The insulation began melting, and the front face of the left wing’s aluminum honeycomb forward spar — the only barrier between the plume and the interior of the wing — began heating up.

At 8:48:39 a.m., just four minutes and 30 seconds after Columbia had dipped into the atmosphere, a sensor mounted behind the forward spar, near the point where RCC panel 9 was bolted to the other side, measured an unusual increase in stress. The spar was softening.

About a minute later — five and a half minutes after entry interface — the shuttle’s flight computers ordered a turn to the right. Up until this point, the shuttle had simply been falling into the atmosphere, wings level, nose up and pointed straight ahead. Now, the ship’s flight computers began actively guiding the shuttle toward Kennedy’s runway. The shuttle’s nose smoothly swung 80 degrees to the right.

Less than 20 seconds after the maneuver, sensors mounted on Columbia’s left rear rocket pod measured an unusual change in temperature. Wind tunnel testing would later show some of the hot air blasting into the RCC cavity was exiting through the vents on the upper surface of the wing, carrying thin clouds of metallic vapor from melted insulation.

The firestorm inside the RCC cavity was rapidly increasing in intensity. The boundary layer around the leading edge breach was severely disrupted, and the flow of super-heated air over the lower surface of the wing exposed the protective tiles there to much higher temperatures than they were designed to withstand. Insulation and RCC panel support fittings behind the breach continued to burn away.

Within a few seconds of 8:52:16 a.m. — the exact time is unknown — the deadly plume burned its way through the forward wing spar and into the interior of the wing.

The shuttle was still 300 miles from the coast of California. The crew still had no idea anything was wrong.

But with the boundary layer disrupted, the temperature of the atoms and molecules blasting into the wing probably exceeded 8,000 degrees near the leading edge breach itself. Hot gas began flowing into the wheel well through vents around landing gear door hinges. At 8:52:17 a.m., the first unusual sensor reading flashed on a computer screen in mission control: a slight increase in temperature in the hydraulic fluid running through a brake line leading to the left main landing gear.

Columbia’s left wing was burning up from the inside out.

Now go read the whole thing.

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This Just In

January 26th, 2004 - 10:56 pm

Dixville Notch’s 11 independent voters (the city has no registered Democrats) went overwhelmingly for Wes Clark:

Clark won Dixville with 8 votes. Sen. John Kerry had 3, Sen. John Edwards 2 and Howard Dean and Sen. Joe Lieberman 1 each.

So what’s it all mean? First, let’s look at the results from Hart’s Location:

Clark received 6 votes in Hart’s Location. Kerry had 5, Dean 3 and Edwards 2.

OK — what’s it all mean? Nothing. I just like saying Dixville Notch and Hart’s Location.

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January 26th, 2004 - 8:14 pm

Yet another angry letter, this time to Mr. Nemo Azamian, vice president in charge of Gateway Customer Service.

Dear Mr. Azamian,

Since you serve as head of Gateway Customer Service, I assume you

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Too Funny

January 26th, 2004 - 5:26 pm

Will Collier sent this story, which is. . . well, you’ll just have to read the whole thing. But here’s a taste:

Last month, a Republican lawyer in Mississippi who previously lived here in Washington, infiltrated a Howard Dean for President “meet-up” in Jackson. He took charge of more than the meeting.

“I’m basically now head of Central Mississippians for Dean,” J. Kevin Broughton tells Inside the Beltway.

The handful of Dean supporters on hand included a political consultant who was state chairman of Al Gore’s 1988 presidential campaign, a retired Army colonel, a local broadcaster and a pair of middle-aged women.

Honest lawyer he is, and feeling a bit guilty, Mr. Broughton decided to come clean.

To find out how a Republican was “crowned chairman of the Dean club” in Mississippi, you’ll have to click over to the Washington Times.

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Required Reading

January 26th, 2004 - 5:13 pm

The latest from Steven Den Beste is the finest essay on American greatness I’ve read outside of a major publication — and better than most of those, too.

And the stir it created speaks volumes more.

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One Last Thing. . .

January 26th, 2004 - 12:50 am

. . . before the cough medicine really kicks in.

Way back when, a buddy of mine who followed politics a little more closely than your average voter, told me from then on, he was going to pay attention whenever I made some wild-ass political guess.

Because I told him, before he’d ever even heard of the guy, “Just watch — Bill Clinton is gonna be the next President.”

Right now I have a similar feeling about John Edwards. Similar — but not as strong. My gut tells me the nomination is his, if he doesn’t screw it up.

Dean is scary. Kerry is boring and tougher to pin down than a water balloon on an oiled trampoline (If you have a water balloon on an oiled trampoline, for Whomever’s sake, please please please don’t tell me why). Lieberman is the Democrat’s John McCain, but without the fire. Clark is the worst of Kerry combined with the worst of Dean.

Edwards is Clinton without the bimbo eruptions.

That’s what my gut tells me.

UPDATE: Maybe I’m just crabby because of this sore throat, but to some of you in the comments section — pay attention to what I wrote, not to what you think I wrote.

I did not say Edwards is a shoe-in next November. I said my gut tells me he might be the strongest guy for the nomination. I’d also described a prior gut reaction as a “wild-ass political guess,” and nothing more.

(I’m talking to you, Arvin. Wipe the spittle from your chin.)

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