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Monthly Archives: March 2004


March 31st, 2004 - 11:31 pm

Unless Will has something today, you’re probably not going to see much here until Friday. This cold has me miserable and grumpy, and I have pay copy to write.

See you Friday.

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March 31st, 2004 - 10:00 am

Bad Nyquil hangover today. Made it through winter without catching anything really nasty — and now this, to go along with the perfect Spring weather.


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Briar Patch

March 31st, 2004 - 8:51 am

Regarding Condi Rice’s upcoming public testimony, I was wondering how long it would take for somebody to figure this out.

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Money Money Money

March 30th, 2004 - 11:57 am

Larry Kudlow says the Fed won’t be putting the brakes on the economy any time soon:

If the economy produces faster than it consumes, or if aggregate supply (investment) rises faster than aggregate demand (consumption), then overall prices will fall rather than rise. Hence, no Fed snugging.

Over the past three quarters of the real post-tax-cut recovery, inflation-adjusted economic growth has averaged 5.1 percent at an annual rate. Inside the economy, consumer spending (demand) has increased at a 4.5 percent average annual pace, while housing and business investment (supply) has advanced at a much faster 10.6 percent yearly rate. Business investment in equipment, software, and structures (i.e., office buildings and factory plants) has increased 10.2 percent. Therefore, supply is in fact growing faster than demand, a non-inflationary development.

The good news in Mr. Kohn’s paradigm is that rising productivity

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Required Reading

March 30th, 2004 - 11:32 am

Jonah Goldberg praises C-SPAN.

I have just one little complaint about C-SPAN, but it’s Adelphia’s fault, not theirs. No matter how many times Adelphia reorganizes the cable channel line-up, they never put C-SPAN 1 and C-SPAN 2 on adjoining channels. I’ve got 14 HBOs all in a row. CNN is followed by MSNBC is followed by FNC. ESPN and the Duece sit right next to each other.

And the C-SPAN Twins? They’re as far apart as Liza Minelli and David Gest on their wedding night.

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Airspace Dominance

March 30th, 2004 - 9:40 am

MSNBC’s First Read has an interesting look at polls and TV ads:

National polls show movement, but any party operative would rather see reliable battleground state numbers, as the folks at Gallup know. An accompanying USA Today story reads, “A USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup Poll shows a remarkable turnaround in 17 battleground states where polls and historic trends indicate the race will be close, and where the Bush campaign has aired TV ads… portraying Kerry as a tax-hiking, flip-flopping liberal.”

“The ads have been one factor in wiping away an inflated lead Kerry held in those states… In contrast, there has been much less volatility in states where the ads haven’t aired. Kerry held a 4-point lead in them in February; Bush holds a 2-point lead now.”

Everyone who gripes about the tone of modern elections — and I’m sometimes one of them — needs to remember that negative ads work.

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Not Your Father’s Atlantic Alliance

March 30th, 2004 - 12:25 am

Welcome aboard, Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia.

You made it — just before the end of the line.

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For the Children

March 30th, 2004 - 12:23 am

Richard Cohen:

I offer my own U.N. resolution. I want the United Nations to condemn Palestinian terrorism, specifically suicide bombers and, most specifically, the use of confused and sad kids for that purpose. It’s pretty simple: If you cannot condemn the murder of innocents, especially by children, then you have no business condemning anything else. In the undiplomatic language of my old neighborhood, put up or shut up.

I got nothin’ to add to that.

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Ask, Tell

March 30th, 2004 - 12:14 am

This looks like a fair compromise:

After resisting for months, White House officials worked yesterday to negotiate a compromise that would allow public release of national security adviser Condoleezza Rice’s testimony before the independent commission looking into the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, according to administration aides.

These aides said the White House believes Rice’s refusal to testify is becoming a political problem and officials are looking for a way out. The leading possibility is for Rice to submit to another private session with the commissioners and allow them to release a transcript, the aides said.

There’s a balance here between executive privilege and Congress’s duties. And that balance is especially tricky when it involves the National Security Advisor (who serves at the pleasure of the President, and without Senate approval) and a controversial (or at least, politically very sensitive) war.

If anything, this compromise serves as a nice change of pace for an overly-secret White House.

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Mile High Goodness

March 29th, 2004 - 10:10 am

Walter has your Rocky Mountain Blogger Roundup.

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“Do you know who I am?”

March 29th, 2004 - 10:06 am

Summer of ’88, I was privileged enough to nab an internship at KMOX-1120. For three months, I played unpaid radio reporter, from 6pm-3am, Thursday through Sunday — in addition to my 9-5 weekday job. A union shop, I couldn’t go on the air, but I did everything else a reporter does.

Why was I willing to work such dreadful hours for no pay? Because KMOX is a CBS-owned, 50,000 watt clear channel AM news/sports/talk station. “Clear channel” in KMOX’s case doesn’t mean the dreaded conglomerate. It means that nobody else in the country shares their position on the dial — and 50,000 watts means they have listeners from Canada to Texas, and from Indiana to Colorado.

There aren’t many stations like KMOX in the country, and an internship there is quite an honor. The next year, when I moved to California, just having their call letters on my otherwise unimpressive resume was enough to land me my first paid radio job.

KMOX was home of Jack Buck, the fabled sportscaster, “the voice of the Cardinals.” It’s where Harry Carey got his start. KMOX has been around for 70 years, and will be around for at least 70 more.

Why do I mention all this? Because John Kerry had no idea what KMOX was, and just made a huge fool of himself in a bellwether state he needs to win next fall.


The John Kerry campaign came to St. Louis Saturday evening. . .and seemed a bit confused. The Democratic hopeful appeared at a tightly-guarded rally in Forest Park to talk about his plan to create jobs. KMOX Reporter Molly Hyland was on the scene but found Kerry campaign aides had decided that only television reporters could interview the candidate. Kerry’s campaign aide said she had never heard of KMOX and would not allow an interview. The Kerry campaign did arrange for the senator to call KMOX by phone earlier in the day. . .but that, too, fell through. The call never came. Saturday night, the Kerry campaign phone lines were closed; its spokesmen out of reach.

Brian Noggle has the rest of the story.

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March 28th, 2004 - 10:47 pm

None of the usual latenight blogging today. Dinner party earlier tonight for my mother-in-law’s birthday, and I am beat.

And when I say “beat,” I mean, “we really shouldn’t have opened that last bottle of wine.”

For those who want to know, dinner was:

Tasty cheeses and crackers and bread and butter.
Caprese salad.
This recipe, but using a 2.5 pound skirt steak instead of a flank steak.
Parsley new potatoes.
Steamed asparagus.
And for dessert, some pie-type thing Melissa made, involving mascarpone and three or four kinds of berries.

I’m just too full to think clearly. See you in the morning.

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Demolition Derby

March 26th, 2004 - 12:31 pm

My buddy Dave Muck forwarded this story:

Workers are drilling holes into the two bridges at Interstate 225 and Interstate 25 so that on Saturday they can be imploded. The explosions are considered the fastest and cheapest option since the bridges are too tall to tear down.

We’ll end up drilling about 320 holes in two structures. Each will have an explosive charge put into it,” said Scott Gustafson with Demtech. “The whole blasting sequence only takes a 6/10th of a second. The rest of it is up to gravity. Gravity will bring it down.”

The bridges that are impacted are the old flyover bridge from southbound I-25 to northbound I-225, and the old lanes of northbound I-25 underneath (pictured, above).

T-REX crews will stop traffic on I-25 near 225 at 7 a.m. Saturday. They hope to reopen it within about 15 minutes but drivers are to expect at least a 30-minute delay.

Sounds like a fun show. If you’re in Denver, you might want to watch.

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March 26th, 2004 - 9:49 am

Top Ten Things Found in John Kerry’s Pocket.

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When E.F. Hutton Talks. . .

March 26th, 2004 - 12:25 am

Lileks doesn’t often fisk — so when he does, you need to read it.

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Required Reading

March 26th, 2004 - 12:19 am

Everything I’ve been trying (mostly unsucessfully) to say the last three days about Richard Clarke. . .

. . . well, Krauthammer put it all into one punishing column.

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Friday Recipe

March 26th, 2004 - 12:01 am

This is the very first thing I ever learned to make. It was my Mom’s attempt to duplicate the Caesar Salad at Al Baker’s old restaurant on the corner of Brentwood and Clayton back in St. Louis. She taught it to me just as soon as I was tall enough to work on the kitchen counter.

I make no claim that it’s a “real” Caesar or that it’s as good as Al’s. But it’s still really good eats — damn near a meal in itself.

Not Quite Al Baker’s Caesar

You’ll need:

1 head of Romaine lettuce.
About a quarter loaf of Italian bread, cubed.
2-1/2 cups of extra virgin olive oil.
4 cloves of garlic, crushed.
7-10 drops of Worcestershire sauce.
1 egg, raw or coddled.
1/2 cup red wine vinegar.
1/2 cup of Parmeggiano-Reggiano, grated.
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard.
2 or 3 anchovy filets.
A quick squeeze of juice from a lemon slice.
Fresh cracked pepper.

If you thought I put you through hell the last time I asked you to make croutons, wait’ll you see what’s in store today. It’s a little something I came up with myself.

So — how to make the croutons. Measure two cups of olive oil, and leave it in the measuring cup. Crush three cloves of garlic in there and let the oil soak up all the garlicky goodness. If your bread isn’t stale, pre-heat the oven to 215 degrees, cube the bread, and dry out the cubes in the oven for 10 minutes.

Now here’s the kicker. I want you to individually hand-dunk each cube of stale bread into the garlic-infused olive oil. Make sure each one is good and soaked, all the way through. Do I want you to do this just to mess with you? Hardly. If I were, I’d tell you it had to be done to a certain song at a certain time of day, standing on your head, and only with your left hand. This is how I make my croutons, and I’ll tell you why when we get to the end.

OK. After each dunk, put each pre-crouton on a cookie sheet. And have the oven pre-heating to 375 degrees. When, at long last, you’re done, shred a little of the Parm-Reg on top, then stick the cookie sheet in the oven for no more than 7 minutes. What’s going on in there? Why the high heat? Why the strict time limit? The idea is to fully cook the outside of the croutons, but not the inside. So every time you bite into one, you get the expected crunchy crouton goodness — but then there will be an explosion of garlic-infused olive oil in your mouth. Makes it worth all the effort.

Do not make this on a first date.

Now then. Tear the Romaine into bite-sized bits, wash the bits, and run the bits through your salad spinner to dry them off. (What? You don’t have a salad spinner? Don’t be a chump — a really top-of-the-line one will run you 20 bucks, and save you lots of headaches, wet lettuce, and a forest’s worth of paper towels.) Put the lettuce in the fridge to keep it crisp.

Time to make the dressing. I like to do it in a tiny little wood bowl — it makes a lot less noise than a regular porcelain bowl or a glass container. With a salad fork, mush those anchovy filets until they look even more disgusting than they did when they still looked like evil hairy fishies. Or just cheat and use anchovy paste. When they look like. . . well, people who have changed diapers will know what they look like. . . crush the last clove of garlic into the bowl, along with the egg, and mix everything together. Pour in the remaining 1/2 cup of olive oil, lemon juice, dry mustard, Worcestershire, and red wine vinegar. Keep mixing with the fork until it emulsifies.

Consider adding a pinch of salt.

Before the dressing “breaks,” pour it over the lettuce in the biggest salad bowl you can find or afford. Toss it, grate on some Parm-Reg, toss, grate, toss, crack some pepper on there, and toss again.

Serve on chilled dinner plate — and don’t you dare kiss anyone who hasn’t had at least three bites of their own.

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Viewer Mail

March 25th, 2004 - 2:19 pm

In response to this post, one reader comments:

Clarke seems to have some serious resume inflation going on–the national coordinator for counterterrorism during 3 administrations? First, he’s a career civil servant, second, he’s on the staff of the NSC, third, under Clinton he’s made the coordinator for counterterrorism–a new position–and they let him run the principals meetings regarding counterterrorism. Under Bush (43), he was proposed the higher level authority that such a title suggests, but was denied as it conflicted with the responsibilities of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the SecDef regarding military advise to the President, and the SecState regarding diplomatic initiatives. And if his “responsibilities” were really that great, then he needs to take responsibility for 9/11, but since he’s just finger pointing, it looks like he’s just a career civil servant after all.

Wish I’d said that.

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Shop Talk II

March 25th, 2004 - 2:08 pm

Republican Congressman Tom DeLay may be forced out — if only temporarily — from his leadership position.

Political junkies everywhere, get ready — this is gonna be a long, hot fix.

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Berlin-Paris-Beijing Axis?

March 25th, 2004 - 2:04 pm

More short-sightedness from our European friends:

Our European allies might well approve plans to sell China advanced weaponry at the March 25-26 European Union summit that begins today.

The repercussions would be disastrous. Not only could China use new weapons from Europe against Taiwan, but Chinese generals have said they’re prepared to confront U.S. forces in the Pacific if America tries to help Taiwan.

Why would NATO allies put the United States in this position? Money is one reason. But European commentators suspect that France and China want to build a multipolar alliance to counter American “hegemony.”

That’s not to say America’s history in selling arms to tyrants is exactly stellar. The best thing to say in our defense is that our sales were usually aimed at propping up anti-Communist thugs — in the Philippines, Indonesia, the Shah’s Iran, etc. — in support of the broader fight to contain the USSR.

Europe, it seems, would rather cozy up to Beijing in an attempt to “contain” the US.

Well, if they think we can be difficult to work with, wait’ll they try to get something contructive accomplished with the People’s Republic.

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Not a Joke

March 25th, 2004 - 1:25 pm

Two years ago — or even just a few months ago — you would never have expected to read this headline: Blair invites Libya to join war on terror.

Well, except maybe in The Onion.

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Tom Clancy Drool-Fest

March 25th, 2004 - 12:27 pm

From StrategyPage:

Snipers have long been one of the more dreaded foes in combat. Now there is a “sniper detector” system arriving in Iraq that is cheap and portable enough that it might make a difference. The Boomerang system consists of a small sensor that is mounted on an aluminum pole rigged to the back of a hummer or truck. A wire runs from the pole to a PDA size display mounted on the dashboard or windshield. If anyone fires a rifle nearby, the sensor picks up the shockwaves and soundwaves and instantly calculates the distance and direction of the fire. The display also has a speaker, which barks out a warning message along the lines of “incoming, seven o’clock” (which is standard military lingo indicating direction of enemy fire.) The display then shows the location of the fire relative to the vehicle.

There’s an old Army adage that if you can see it you can hit it, and if you can hit it you can kill it. Now we just need little sensors that can hear it.


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“Clouded his memory”

March 25th, 2004 - 12:21 pm

Not even Time magazine’s Romesh Ratnesar seems very impressed with Richard Clarke’s veracity:

The accounts of high-level conversations and meetings given by Clarke in various television appearances, beginning with the 60 Minutes interview, differ in significant respects from the recollections of a former top counterterrorism official who participated in the same conversations and meetings: Richard Clarke. In several cases, the version of events provided by Clarke this week include details and embellishments that do not appear in his new book, Against All Enemies. While the discrepancies do not, on their own, discredit Clarke’s larger arguments, they do raise questions about whether Clarke’s eagerness to publicize his story and rip the Bush Administration have clouded his memory of the facts.

Read — once again — the whole thing.

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Premature Capitulation

March 25th, 2004 - 9:55 am

This just in:

French authorities say a shadowy group that had threatened to bomb the country’s railway system unless authorities pay a huge ransom announced a suspension of its plans, but warned it will act later.

Officials said Thursday that the group, calling itself AZF, made the announcement in letters sent to the Interior Ministry and President Jacques Chirac.

Apparently, the French offer to turn over most of the country to AZF and move the capital to Vichy was, according to an AZF spokesman, “a little much.” He added, “We just wanted some cash, ya know?”

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Slate’s Fred Kaplan has his own take on Richard Clarke’s testimony:

I am not suggesting that Clarke’s apology was cynical or purely tactical. I’m sure it was sincere. This is a guy who was obsessive about terrorism when he was the national coordinator for counterterrorism during the Bush 41, Clinton, and

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“Portrait of John Kerry”

March 25th, 2004 - 9:19 am

Now this is funny.

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Delay of Game

March 25th, 2004 - 9:13 am

Ralph Peters:

This isn’t a normal election year. We are at war. While many domestic issues deserve debate, the War on Terror demands unity of purpose from both parties. It is essential that our enemies understand that we’re united in fighting terrorism.

That’s not the message we’re sending.

While this week’s “9/11 hearings” on Capitol Hill are useful to a degree, they’re poorly timed. Both parties hope for political gain, while our paramount goal should be protecting our country.

The worst election-year sin is the focus on past errors, real or purported, and the lust to assign blame. What’s done is done. We need to concentrate – hard – on the future.

Unfortunately, serious thinking about the threat is on hold until November. We need the best that both parties have to offer. Instead, we get the worst. Winning elections trumps defending our citizens.

Read the whole thing.

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Change of Heart

March 25th, 2004 - 9:04 am

A sign of the times:

British Prime Minister Tony Blair arrived in the Libyan capital of Tripoli Thursday for a historical visit to the country, the first trip to the North African country by a British prime minister since World War Two.

If you’ll recall, other events in Libya’s history under Ghadafy include:

A war with Chad.

The German disco bombing.

The “Line of Death” across the Gulf of Sidra.

The Pam Am Lockerbee bombing.

Attempted fighter strikes on Italy and US warships in international waters.

Stockpiled forbidden chemical weapons, and worked with the Soviets on nuclear weapons.

And since the Coalition liberated Iraq last April? From the same article:

August 2003 — The Libyan government officially accepts to takefull responsibility for Lockerbie and asks the United Nations to lift the 11-year sanctions as soon as Libya reaches accords with Britain and the United States. Libya also agrees to pay 2.7 billion US dollars to the relatives of the bombing victims after the sanctions are lifted.

Feb. 6, 2004 — British and US high-ranking officials hold talks with Libyan officials in London on dismantling Libya’s banned weapons programs, improving the US-Libyan relations and lifting US sanctions against Libya.

Feb. 9, 2004 — Libyan Foreign Minister Abdel-Rahman Shalqam visits Britain, the first Libyan foreign minister to travel to Britain after Gadhafi took office in 1969.

March 25, 2004 — British Prime Minister Tony Blair visits Libya, the first trip to the North African country by a British prime minister since World War Two.

It’s all just a big, fat coincidence. Move along, there’s nothing to see here.

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Shop Talk

March 25th, 2004 - 8:54 am

Larry Sabato looks into the future, and finds that, “Suddenly, the Senate battle has gotten much more interesting.”

Here’s why:

As for the three open Republican [Senate] seats, Democrats have jumped out to an early lead in all of them. Our early-line guess is that the Democrats will win two of the three in the end, but a three-fer cannot be ruled out. Illinois is the Democrats’ best shot, followed by Colorado, with Oklahoma last but still very competitive. As always, we give a slight edge to just about any incumbent, whether a junior one (Lisa Murkowski) or a senior one (Tom Daschle). But both Murkowski and Daschle could be beaten, and they face tight contests.

Our loyal readers can add this up quickly: the GOP has an edge for control of the Senate, but it is not an overwhelmingly one anymore. Large gains for the GOP are now probably out of the question–unless Bush roars back in the fall. Even then, it’s hard to see the GOP total getting past 54 or 55.

Click and scroll for the latest on this Fall’s House and gubernatorial races, too. It’s gonna be a long, fun campaign season.

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Just Kill the Snake Already

March 25th, 2004 - 1:10 am

After a long stretch of tiresome Catholic Boosterism which damn near made me give up on him, David Warren reminds me he’s still one of the clearest foreign policy thinkers in the business:

On the moral question, whether it was right for the Israeli prime minister, Ariel Sharon, to order the assassination of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, there is no difference from the question whether it would be right to assassinate Osama bin Laden. Bin Laden co-founded Al Qaeda, Yassin founded Hamas. These are organizations which exist for the express purpose of killing people; Qaeda being committed to killing “Crusaders and Zionists” plus bystanders; Hamas more specifically Jews plus bystanders. The question is not whether one should do it, but how.

Read that last line again and smile.

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