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Monthly Archives: February 2004

The Directorate

February 19th, 2004 - 1:20 pm

Justified paranoia of Chirac, Schroeder and Blair?

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Just Talk?

February 19th, 2004 - 1:00 pm

Is the EU finally ready to do something about rising anti-Semitism on the Continent? Maybe:

Figures including European Commission chief Romano Prodi, German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer and Israeli Diaspora Affairs Minister Natan Sharansky banded together to denounce mounting attacks on Jewish targets in Europe.

“Anti-Semitism has returned. The monster is here with us once again,” European Jewish Congress (EJC) president Cobi Benatoff told the conference.

“What is of most concern to us, however, is the indifference of our fellow European citizens,” the Italian said.

The EJC and US-based World Jewish Congress urged the European Commission to set up committees drawn from EU governments and Jewish groups to monitor anti-Semitic incidents.

They also called for police crackdowns to ensure that those behind attacks on Jewish synagogues, schools and cemeteries are brought to justice, and for better education in Europe’s schools on the history of European Jewry.

Sharansky welcomed action taken along these lines by France, which is home to the EU’s largest numbers of Jews and Muslims along with its highest number of anti-Semitic incidents last year at 125.

Prodi — whose first visit when he became commission president in 1999 was to Auschwitz — vowed concrete action.

I’d be more hopeful if France and Germany were also willing to change their functionally anti-Semtic foreign policies.

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By the Numbers

February 19th, 2004 - 12:45 pm

Pejman has all the latest Presidential polls & analysis for you.

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“Edwards would be a fool not to do it.”

February 19th, 2004 - 12:37 pm

Do what, you ask? Go read Roger L. Simon to find out.

UPDATE: Then read Roger’s previous post to discover the link between the Terror War and gay marriage.

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What Next?

February 19th, 2004 - 12:12 pm

Chris Sullentrop has an interesting Slate piece on what the end of the Dean campaign might mean. Key bit:

If Dean dislikes Kerry as much as he is reported to, and if he really thinks John Edwards would be a superior nominee, then he’s right to get out of the race quickly. I’m not convinced that Edwards is more electable than Kerry

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Blow This

February 19th, 2004 - 11:46 am

25 years ago, one of the little suburban townships in St. Louis County, way ahead of the curve, took the high road on drunk driving.

“High road,” of course, is local government speak for “what the hell were they thinking?”

Anyway, the town fathers — probably at the urging of the town mothers, this being St. Louis West County — decided that what every bar in town needed was a breathalyzer. And not just needed, but mandated by city ordinance. Their noble intention was to ensure that no one would ever again leave a Des Peres bar drunk.

The scenario they imagined must have gone like this:

Very Drunk Person: I must leave the bar now and return home to my wife and my children.

Bartender: Don’t forget to blow in the breathalyzer first, sir! Here’s a straw!

Very Drunk Person: Thank you, barkeep.

The very drunk person would then stick the straw in the breathalyzer, blow, and look for his number — and then call a cab if over the legal limit. I never saw one of the things in person, but I heard they looked kind of like an arcade game, complete with cute little graphics showing just how drunk you were at rising blood alcohol levels.

That’s not exactly how things went. Instead:

Very Drunk Person: I’m not drunk. Gimme that straw. Heh — lookit that, I’m double the legal limit, but I can walk just fine.

Other Drunk Person: I can beat that. [Blows into machine] Thing says I should be in a coma. Top that!

Third Drunk Person: [Throws up on machine]

The ordinance didn’t last a year before the city fathers wised up and repealed the thing.

It’s with that in mind that I read this story from New Mexico:

Some state lawmakers are convinced they have the answer to solve the D.W.I. epidemic and want to require everyone on the road to take a breathalyzer test before they can start the engine of any vehicle.

Today, the proposal is one very large step closer to becoming law.

A bill requiring an ignition interlock device be installed on every car, truck, bus or motorcycle in New Mexico passed the state house today and is on its way to the senate.

Representative Ken Martinez introduced the bill and says he was pleasantly surprised with today’s vote.

My guess is, he

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Pressure Cooker

February 19th, 2004 - 11:12 am

Remember Monday’s post on how important it was to the survival of Iran’s mullah regime that people be allowed to vent?

The mullahs just closed off another avenue:

Iran’s judiciary on Wednesday night shut down two reformist dailies that had published long extracts from a letter by parliamentary deputies criticising Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader.

The judiciary also ordered internet service providers to filter three websites of reformist organisations.

The moves come on the eve of the Islamic republic’s seventh parliamentary election.

Bad move.

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Fraternal Twins

February 19th, 2004 - 10:38 am

Does OpinionJournal read VodkaPundit? Here’s OJ today:

Howard Dean’s withdrawal from the Democratic primaries yesterday ends one of the more remarkable flameouts in Presidential history. But while the former Vermont governor won’t be his party’s nominee, he deserves to be recognized as the most consequential loser since Barry Goldwater.

Here’s VP last July:

Nominating Dean would be an electoral nightmare in 2004. His more extreme positions would bring out Republican voters in droves, and his more moderate positions could keep Democratic voters at home.

But big losses often lead to big reforms. The German Army that lost in France in 1918 wasn’t the same German army ensconced in Paris in 1940 after a six-week blitz. A national loss on the Dean Scale might just force the Democrats back closer to the broad middle of American politics, and onward to future wins.

And while that might be bad for Dean, it would do the Democratic Party a world of good.

The big difference between the two columns is, OJ thinks the results will be bad for the Democrats, rather than spurring needed reforms. We’ll see.

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February 19th, 2004 - 10:22 am

Hugh Hewitt makes an interesting point today regarding John Kerry’s 1971 Senate testimony. Along with slandering his former comrades in arms, Kerry made a prediction about how many refugees might be expected if South Vietnam were overrun:

“But I think, having done what we have done to that country, we have an obligation to offer sanctuary to the perhaps 2,000, 3,000 people who might face, and obviously they would, we understand that, might face political assasination or something else.”

Of course, the numbers of Vietnamese forced out and murdered after Saigon fell were several orders of magnitude greater than “2,000, 3,000 people”, and that’s not even mentioning the vast slaughter in Cambodia. Kerry’s errant prediction was as horribly wrong as Sydney Schanberg’s idiotic, “for most, a better life,” propaganda in the New York Times as Phnom Penn was being overrun.

Hewitt notes that such statements may well have resonance in California’s Asian immigrant communities:

According to the 2000 Census, there are 1,122,528 Vietnamese Americans, 447,032 of whom live in California… [snip] I wonder how John Kerry’s antiwar record will play in Orange County, California’s Little Saigon? Or to the state’s approximately 70,000 Cambodian Americans?

Hewitt has obtained an audio tape of Kerry’s testimony, and has already played it in its entirety on his radio show. He says he plans to play it again soon…

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Fake It ‘Til You Make It

February 19th, 2004 - 7:02 am

Hysterical story here, courtesy of Tim Blair.

Seems a British engineering student got confused with an American economics professor of the same name, and accepted a speaking tour of China in his place. Hilarity ensued…

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Letter From Bulgaria

February 19th, 2004 - 6:49 am

Sofia Sideshow is one of my favorite blogs, and not just because of the all-too-infrequent Bulgarian babe pictures.

Proprieter jkrank (an American who lives in Sofia making movies for the SciFi Channel) posted a long dissertation on anti-war (actually anti-Bush) rhetoric last week. Even if you’re not up to reading the entire den-Besteian post, check out this on-the-money excerpt:

Something about this war is eating Bush’s detractors alive, something unquantifiable with conventional weights and measures. I think that it is because if George W. Bush really did lie (and thus surprising both the Right and Left), the anti-war crowd would still have to face a disheartening Spectacle of Freedom For An Entire People, instead of the more satisfactory Humiliation Of Bush At The United Nations And Mass Graves Nobody Knows About.

That simple.

Nothing is more irritating than watching your enemies fail to live up to your worst expectations. If George W. was hawking stolen museum art, or John Ashcroft was forcing Shiites to convert, or Dick Cheney was sucking the oil from Iraqi teenager’s skin, the Left would have far lower blood pressure. They would be relieved, vindicated, because the war would be delightfully immoral.

The anti-war crowd long ago started measuring themselves as culturally, intellectually, and morally superior to the pro-war crowd, instead of measuring whether their policies were superior. Thus, the incredible success in Afghanistan and Iraq is not a blow to their policy, it is a blow to their ego and sense of self. I think the worst example I can give is during the campaign in Afghanistan, where it became popular to repeat that ANY civilian casualties should classify the endeavor as a failure for George W. Bush and the administration. This was to raise the goalpost to a level not out of concern for Afghani civilians, but out of concern that the critics’ self-image not be a casualty, to attempt to force the debate into one where it was guaranteed that the pro-war side would be inferior.

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February 19th, 2004 - 6:25 am

Some interesting reading and linkage here, courtesy of AllahPundit, regarding events in Pakistan.

Which reminds me: Just what exactly did the Administration say to Musharraf in late 2001 to jerk him so quickly and decisively into line? I’d have loved to have been a fly on the wall for that conversation.

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Well, surprise, surprise, surprise…

February 19th, 2004 - 5:32 am

Nuclear machinery found in Iran.

Yeah, I’m sure it was a deep and abiding respect for the International Atomic Energy Agency that caused the mullahs to let these guys in.

That, or the sight of the V Corps just on the other side of the border. Take your pick…

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(Not a) Mea Culpa

February 19th, 2004 - 1:09 am

Ever since John Edwards’s performance in Oklahoma, I’ve been tempted every day or two to write a mea culpa to this post from last month:

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.

And then my gut tells me, “Don’t write it yet.”

So I’m not gonna.

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Live, from New York

February 19th, 2004 - 1:06 am

Mayor Mike killed‘em last night.

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Polling Data

February 19th, 2004 - 12:34 am

According to a recent survey, Americans now think the French stink slightly less.

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February 19th, 2004 - 12:31 am

Some conservatives I just have no use for at all. Read:

We need to use the gay issue against the Democrats. Andrew Sullivan is among that tiny percentage of American voters who, presently, seemingly intend to vote for George W. Bush, but will vote the other way on gay issues. After all, as is increasingly clear, Andrew Sullivan and his ilk place their right to buggery before the security of the American Republic and the safety of the American people.

Adam Teiichi Yoshida, the author of this piece, is at least nine of them.

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Fun With Polls… Or Not

February 18th, 2004 - 4:03 pm

CNNGallupUSAToday (whee! Just like Drudge!) says Bush is trailing both Kerry and Edwards by double digits.

Rasmussen says Bush is leading Kerry by five.

Will says, “What a crock to be running general election poll stories in February,” and goes to look for dinner…

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Sayonara, Dr. Demento

February 18th, 2004 - 1:13 pm

Howard Dean’s Bye-Ku.

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Lest we forget

February 18th, 2004 - 12:46 pm

Mike Marshall of the Mobile Register remembers a fallen soldier.

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What Tax Cut?

February 18th, 2004 - 12:41 pm

This I year I figured I’d do our taxes myself. I had the paperwork, I had the software — how hard could it be?

OK, maybe I didn’t have all the paperwork — turns out Melissa’s college tuition last year was deductable. And I didn’t think to keep our auto licensing fee papers.

No biggie — I’ve got guestimates on those, so I can always dig up the records later. Meantime, I’d at least get a clue on the size of our refund. Last year we’d had to pay up two or three hundred bucks in state and federal taxes, which to me is perfect. A refund, after all, is the repayment on an interest-free loan to the government. And 300 dollars isn’t a big enough hit to ding the grocery budget in April.

All told, 2002 was a good tax year. Well, as good as any year can be for taxes.

Last year, we made a little more money, and withholding went up to match. Only difference between 2002 and 2003 was, now we had a nice, fat mortgage deduction (I’d owned the old VodkaCondo outright).

So a $300 Amount Owed from last year should have turned into a refund big enough for a nice dinner out.

TaxCut instead tells me we need to pony up about $1,600.

I think maybe we need to see an accountant, after all.

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Via Slashdot, here’s an Onion article that isn’t a joke (honest). It’s a longish interview with Arthur C. Clarke. Good stuff.

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Can’t wait for the Bye-Ku

February 18th, 2004 - 10:35 am

Okay, granted, it’s from Reuters, but Dean is apparently “suspending his campaign” after getting trounced (again) last night. One last time, with feeling:


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February 18th, 2004 - 10:35 am

Dean drops out — mostly:

Howard Dean will end his campaign for the presidential nomination and oversee a new effort to keep his issues alive and his supporters organized on behalf of Democratic causes, two party officials said Wednesday.

Dean was to announce his plans at a news conference Wednesday afternoon, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The sources said the shape of the new effort is still to be determined but that Dean would eventually support the Democratic Party’s nominee. One official said Dean would help elect Democrats to Congress in the fall.

That last line makes a third-party run look unlikely. Sorry, conspiracy fans.

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February 18th, 2004 - 10:22 am

Slow start for me today, but Will is doing so well that I might just sit back and watch for a bit.

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Privatize Hubble?

February 18th, 2004 - 8:13 am

Dennis Powell has the germ of a good idea here, from NRO.

Personally, I’d go a step further and use a private (or hired from the Russians) booster to launch a repair mission instead of the Shuttle, but the concept of giving (or selling off) Hubble to a non-government entity is a good one.

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What’s wrong with this picture?

February 18th, 2004 - 7:43 am

On Monday, I talked about some of the anti-Bush venom I’d heard in New York over the previous weekend. One particular noisy conversation, overheard whether I liked it or not (my fiancee and I were trying to have lunch a few feet away) was between a self-declared unemployed 30-ish programmer and an old retired guy who were drinking away their afternoons at a Village bar.

Most of it was standard-issue liar-crooked-moron blather, and unremarkable except for the volume. But then the younger guy started in on last year’s appropriation for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan:

“I mean, $86 billion? What the filth is that? What the hell is he doing spending all that money over there? We could be fillin’ potholes with that.”

I was very sorely tempted at that point to pull out my digital camera, page to this shot I’d snapped an hour earlier, and ask, “Hey, buddy, what’s wrong with this picture?”


Maybe a couple of things are… missing?

I know, I know, somebody with that attitude, there’s no point in mentioning Quadaffi’s capitulation, or the al-Zaquari letter, but… potholes?

When a mass grave masquerading as a gigantic pothole is a couple of miles away?

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And that goes for you too, Sting!

February 18th, 2004 - 5:49 am

Mark Hasty has a great post following up on yesterday’s Don Henleyfest.

I should have mentioned Fugazi myself; their music isn’t really to my taste, but they’re solid proof that a band can make a living without either radio airplay or a record company. Just imagine what a band with a loyal and exponentially larger following (Rush would be a great example) could do if they decided to “self-publish.”

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General Karaoke

February 18th, 2004 - 5:36 am

Now, this is just plain weird.

Hat tip to Wonkette, who gets my vote for the best new blog in ages (internet time, of course)…

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Don Henley Must Die!

February 17th, 2004 - 4:26 pm

James Joyner has responded to my post below about Don Henley’s WaPo op-ed, and I wanted to clarify a couple of points. James says:

Much like the ability to get lots of information for free on the Internet has made people reluctant to pay for it [snip] we now have the idea that it

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