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Monthly Archives: April 2004

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April 26th, 2004 - 2:06 am

The question is, “Do I get to make out with Stephen?

The answer is, “This is my Best.Birthday.Ever.”

Thanks, ladies. And should we ever end up on that island, I can assure you that I’m still (just) young enough to have plenty for both of you.

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Late Night Rambling

April 26th, 2004 - 2:02 am

Oftentimes, you have to take your political allies where you can find them.

Example: I’ve given up on big-L Libertarianism. The people of this country have had 30 years to get to know the Libertarians, and the results have been about the same as the pimply-faced Chess Club geek askng the Homecoming Queen out for an evening of Dungeons and Dragons.

Doctrinaire Libertarians can keep slamming their foreheads against the wall if they like. Me, I choose — like the much more successful Green Party — to pick up allies on an issue-by-issue basis. And — unlike the Greens — to always have an eye on liberty and victory.

Distasteful? Oftentimes, yes. Successful? Sometimes. Which is about as often as anyone can hope for success in politics.

In this new World War we’re in, there are four camps. Nice guy that I am, I’ve provided easy-to-remember labels from them, and I’ll list them in order from left to right:

“It’s all about OIILLLL.”

“Terror War OK, Iraq War bad.”

“Never surrender.”

“Nuke’em all, and don’t let even God sort’em out.”

It’s a simplistic list, sure. Some people nuance-istically straddle two (or more) groups. You’ll find me in the Never Surrender camp, but it’s hard not to respect folks in the group just above (and to the left) of mine. While I think they’re mistaken, at least they seem to understand that there is a real war on. The two extremes piss me off.

The Left extreme, for reasons I’ve gone into again and again. So many times, and in so many ways, that I won’t even bother linking to my own posts on the subject. Readers here, whether they agree or not, already understand.

And while I usually believe, as I said, in taking allies where you can find them. . .

. . . allow me right now, definitively, to disassociate myself from the Right extreme, too. Here’s what got me ranting:

A national Islamic antidefamation organization called Friday for the firing of Boston talk-radio host Jay Severin after he allegedly suggested in his afternoon talk show that the United States should “kill all Muslims.”

The statement — made during Severin’s show Thursday on WTKK-FM — was allegedly part of a discussion about how Severin believes Muslims want to take over the world, said Rabiah Ahmed, a spokeswoman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

She said he then remarked, “I’ve got an idea, let’s kill all Muslims.”

I’ve got an idea, let’s hand out Boeing 737 training manuals to al Qaeda, and give them free box cutters, too.

Severin is just one of many Not Ready for Prime Time radio hosts. But in the comments section here, I’ve seen his type almost every day. And if what I’m about to say insults you, then so be it.

The people who agree with Severin are the same people who think:

We can close our borders without losing our freedoms.

We somehow have the military might to reshape and reform the entire Muslim world.

Nuclear weapons can be tossed around like so many bottle rockets.

It’s high time to bring back the draft.

National security always trumps individual liberty.

Islam is a bastard religion.

What do all of these thoughts have in common? Disdain. Disdain for human life, for human liberty, and for the few things left in this nation still worth defending.

Want to nuke every enemy? Go to hell.

Want to be the cause of a Holocaust greater than Hitler’s? Go to hell.

Want to enforce your religious beliefs on other people, just because they’re different? Go to hell.

Want to end what America is, just to keep where it is? Go to hell.

Allies like those, I don’t need and I don’t want.

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Required Reading

April 26th, 2004 - 1:24 am

Usually, I link to some big columnist or major-daily story for the Required Reading. Not today — Travelling Shoes blogger HD Miller scores the coup with this post.

No excerpt, so just click on over.

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Slippery Slope

April 26th, 2004 - 1:06 am

Sometimes, I really hate reading the Wall Street Journal.

Julia Gorin should leave the humor to people with a sense of it.

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Outrageous With the Accent on “Rage”

April 26th, 2004 - 1:01 am

Don’t click “MORE” without some Pepto within reach.


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Mea Culpa

April 26th, 2004 - 12:56 am

In a fisk of John Kerry a couple weeks ago, I wrote, “If we end up needing to bring in the UN as a bit of cover, to lend ‘legitimacy’ to our actions, then by all means, let’s do so.”

Sometimes, man, I really step in it. All the way up to my neck. Bill Safire reports that the UN’s man in Baghdad, Lakhdar Brahimi, is mouthing off so much that even Kofi Annan had to tell him (politely, in diplo-speak) to shut up:

[Brahimi's] first mistake was to announce on French radio that “the great poison in the region is this Israeli policy of domination and the suffering imposed on the Palestinians,” as well as the “equally unjust support of the United States for this policy.”

That freelance condemnation was too much for even Kofi Annan, who sent out his official spokesman to explain that Brahimi was “a former foreign minister of Algeria” who was “expressing his personal views” and not necessarily those of the secretary general.

Then again, in certain circles, statements like Brahimi’s just reek of legitimacy.

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“Bring it on.”

April 26th, 2004 - 12:31 am

It’s silly to comment on a story that hasn’t even been published yet, especially when the teaser is on Drudge.

Then again, this site has never been accused of undue seriousness. And rarely of due seriousness. So here’s the teaser:

Kerry Plans Week-Long Assault on Cheney… Developing…

John Kerry’s campaign isn’t as bad as the one Mike Dukakis ran — but the best I can compare it with is Bob Dole’s clueless ’96 effort. I mean, Camp Kerry wants to spend a week campaigning against the Vice President?

Can you imagine a campaigner like Bill Clinton spending a week pitting himself against Dan Quayle? Or Dole against Gore? Or even Reagan v. Mondale? Of course not. It’s silly.

Look. When a non-incumbant picks his Veep, by all means, please, shoot arrows at the both of them. The Veep for being such a [pick adjective according to the Veep in question], and the Main Man for being so stupid and clueless and unsavvy as to pick such a [adjective].

But a sitting Veep? Please. The guy is there, and everybody knows him, and nobody gives a rat’s ass. Kerry wouldn’t be wasting his time any worse, if he spent the week going door-to-door, soliciting voters in Belgium.

You may think I’ve wasted too much time and too many words on a non-story. And maybe you’re right. But this little tidbit, if true, really annoys me.

I like divided government. I like close elections. I like competition. They’re all good for the political process. One party rule — no matter what party — always turns out badly. Look at California after just five years of Democratic rule. Or Britain’s tepid Conservatives in the 1930s.

Competition is good for the system, and it’ll be a damn shame if Kerry can’t play with the big boys.

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Beats the Alternative

April 26th, 2004 - 12:13 am

Oh, crap. I did not mean to turn 35 today. Or even this month, or this year. Or ever.

Thirty was just fine — I could still pass for 27. And at 33, most people had me pegged at 30, or 29 on a good day. And at 35? Well, I think I look my age. And that’s fine by me.

I don’t want to be 27 again. I don’t even want to look it. At 27 I was too breezy, too callow, and more gullible than I’d like to admit. Eight years later, I’m still pretty breezy and callow and gullible — but less so. Such is progress, and you hope you get it right before everything falls apart and they’re shoveling dirt on your face.

The first wrinkles are showing up. And just like my dad and his dad before him, the gray is starting low on the sides — won’t be long now before it begins working its way up. Yet puberty still hasn’t come to visit my chest. Might be time to stop waiting for it.

A more important note: Liver function, still strong!

35. Too young for middle age, too old for youth — and that strikes me as the perfect balance. Of course, it’s an unstable balance, but you can’t go backwards. That’s just fine, too. Do any of us really want 1992 again? 23 was great fun, and it sure would be fun to get a chance to do it better. But does anybody want to watch the Ross Perot campaign in reruns?

Onward then.

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Fact Checking

April 25th, 2004 - 5:32 pm

Tom Friedman:

I was at a dinner the other night and was introduced to a lovely Lebanese woman. We started reminiscing about the good old days in Lebanon and I asked her where she lived in Beirut. She said it was in a building off “Rue John Kennedy.” I stopped her immediately. “Rue John Kennedy?” I said, rolling over the words in my mind. “I forgot there was a time when they actually named streets in the Arab world for an American president.”

Will there ever be a street in Baghdad named after George W. Bush or any U.S. president? The fact that even asking the question today seems absurd tells you how far things have deteriorated.

What’s absurd here is Friedman expecting to get away with his sleight-of-hand.

Lebanon in the 1960s was about as typical an Arab country as, say, Jamaica. My great grandmother, Dorothy von Hoffmann, used to go to Beirut to gamble, fer crissakes. And don’t think she wasn’t gambling without her ever-present scotch & soda.

Drinking and gambling

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April 25th, 2004 - 3:37 pm

Everything you ever wanted to know about the American press, but were afraid to ask.

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Snow Day

April 23rd, 2004 - 9:36 am

We got about three or four inches last night, with more to follow today — and hopefully that’ll be the last of the year.

So while it’s a big news day, I’m going to go play with my puppy out in the mess, and take care of some chores around the house.

See you Monday.

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Didn’t He Ramble

April 23rd, 2004 - 12:19 am

I was going to do the usual latenight blogging. I was even going to post a really tasty, summery Friday Recipe. Instead, my brother-in-law and I cranked up the downstairs stereo as loud as we dared

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April 22nd, 2004 - 5:41 pm

I just talked with Ken Layne, and, sadly, he and half the Corvids already have Memorial weekend obligations.

But thanks to everybody who offered bribes, except for someone I won’t name, and who really needs to pull their pants back up.

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“‘French’ is not ethnic.”

April 22nd, 2004 - 4:11 pm

Robert Musil has a detailed look at race and the race for the White House.

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It’s Better Than Sex

April 22nd, 2004 - 3:52 pm

Well, maybe it’s not that good — but join the Alliance anyway.


Click for details.

UPDATE: I just chipped in 50 bucks for the cause, and I might just throw in another 50 — if Michele can find me that obscure mp3 I want. So go do your part already.

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Congress takes a sensible ego trip:

Fearing that terrorists might target Congress, the House on Thursday approved a bill to set up speedy special elections if 100 or more of its members are killed.

The House, in a 306-97 vote, put aside for now the larger issue of whether the Constitution should be amended to allow for temporary appointments in the event that an attack caused mass fatalities among lawmakers.

The House, said Judiciary Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., sponsor of the elections bill and a foe of appointments, “is rooted in democratic principles and those principles must be preserved at all costs.”

Frankly, I’d like to see how well we’d manage with 100 or so fewer Congressmen. I could probably even name some names.

*Sung to the tune of Unforgettable

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Shop Talk III

April 22nd, 2004 - 11:46 am

Steven Taylor on John Kerry’s non-policy policy.

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Sea Story

April 22nd, 2004 - 11:06 am

Navy buffs might want to read this post on what the future USN may look like — and why it might be smaller.

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Bribery Will Get You Anything

April 22nd, 2004 - 10:58 am

Wunderkinder nicely rounds up all the latest Oil-for-Food scandal news.

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Welfare Terrorism

April 22nd, 2004 - 10:53 am

StrategyPage reports that “Hamas faces a larger problem” than Israel’s new assassination policy:

The Palestinian people are becoming disillusioned with the terror tactics. The main reason for the disillusionment is poverty. Before the current

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Shop Talk II

April 22nd, 2004 - 10:19 am

Richard Cohen:

What’s particularly telling is that Bush and Kerry have traded places on two key issues — national security and the economy. Where Bush once lagged, he is now in the lead.

Polls are snapshots, and we are cautioned not to make too much of them. The only poll that counts, or so the cliche goes, is the one conducted on Election Day, and the Kerry people would like to add one more banality: The campaign has just begun. Maybe, but it looks to me like it may be over.

Why? Well, in the first place, it’s hard to envisage things getting even worse for Bush. The past month should have been ruinous, and yet the president not only survived, he thrived.

You might want to read the whole thing.

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“No time to go all wobbly.”

April 22nd, 2004 - 9:52 am

Andrew Sullivan:

To some, I suppose, the hideous slaughter of so many innocents in suicide bombings in southern Iraq is another reason to worry that the occupation is doomed. I have a different response. It reminds me why we are in this war in the first place. It reminds me of the nihilist, fascist forces that killed thousands in New York and Bali and Madrid. These forces were not created by the toppling of Saddam nor by the end of the Taliban. They are killing people in Saudi Arabia. They were there all along – and had to be fought and defeated at some point. They now realize that they must sow terror and mayhem in the new Iraq in order to prevent any kind of representative government and free society from forming. We have the difficult task of fighting them, while protecting innocents in a war where the enemy deliberately and cynically conflates the two. That isn’t easy anywhere – but better to have drawn these elements out and to fight them in a struggle for Arab and Muslim democracy than to play constant, fitful defense at home. If the Iraqi middle does not and cannot see that these elements have no future in mind for Iraq but theocratic state-terror, then we truly are in trouble. But that is not the case, and, in face of such atrocities against Arab and Muslim civilians, cannot conceivably be the case. So we fight on. And I mean: fight.

Thanks, Sully.

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Big Bang

April 22nd, 2004 - 9:39 am

News from the Worker’s Paradise:

Up to 3,000 people were killed or injured when two trains loaded with fuel collided and exploded at a North Korean station Thursday, hours after leader Kim Jong-il had passed through, South Korea’s YTN television said.

YTN quoted witnesses in its report while South Korea’s Yonhap news agency, which spoke of widespread destruction, also said there were thousands of casualties. Neither Yonhap nor YTN gave a breakdown of deaths and injuries.

Yonhap quoted sources in the Chinese city of Dandong that borders the North as saying the explosion occurred around 1 p.m. — nine hours after Kim’s special train was reported to have passed on its way back to Pyongyang after a visit to China.

“The station was destroyed as if hit by a bombardment and debris flew high into the sky,” Yonhap said, quoting the unidentified Chinese sources.

The sources said cargo trains carrying gasoline and liquefied petroleum gas collided at Ryonchon station 30 miles south of the border.

Awful as this sounds, I’m not getting my hopes up that this disaster could be North Korea’s Chernobyl — a deadly disaster which forces the regime to open up, relax, and be more honest.

It’s just a damn tragedy is all.

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Shop Talk

April 22nd, 2004 - 9:33 am

George Will reports that Arizona — home of Barry Goldwater — is becoming increasingly competitive for Democratic candidates.

Some walkover next Fall, eh?

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A Worthy Cause

April 22nd, 2004 - 1:36 am

Attention: Rocky Mountain bloggers and blog readers. Jeff Goldstein and I are assigning you a mission. You will choose to accept it.

Yeah, Walter & Co. have put together a fine party for us all at the historic Denver Press Club next month. But what’s a party without some real-live rock’n'rollers to help trash the (newly-restored) joint?

Which is why we’re asking you to help us persuade Ken Layne, and maybe even each and every Corvid, to travel to Denver for the bash.

If need be, we’ll pass the collection plate around for airfare, or gas money, or all-green M&Ms, or hookers, or whatever it is alt-country/alt-rockers are scrounging for these days.

Want to help? Want to meet Ken Layne and the Corvids in person? Leave a comment here or at Jeff’s, and we’ll pass your kind words, pleadings, promises of hard currency, whatever, over to Ken.

And if it doesn’t pan out, please remember that it was all Jeff’s idea.

UPDATE: Turns out, Andy is the evil mastermind, pulling strings behind the scenes.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Jeff begs and pleads better than I do. Of course, he’s been married longer.

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Free-Spin Zone

April 22nd, 2004 - 1:24 am

It looks like Washington has backed off slightly — and sanely — from the June 30 deadline in Iraq:

The new Iraqi interim government scheduled to take control on July 1 will have only “limited sovereignty” over the country and no authority over U.S. and coalition military forces already there, senior State and Defense officials told Congress this week.

In testimony before the Senate and the House Armed Services Committees, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz and Undersecretary of State Marc Grossman said the United States will operate under the transitional law approved by the Iraqi Governing Council and a resolution approved by the U.N. Security Council last October. Both those provisions give control of the country’s security to U.S. military commanders.

I’m all for turning over complete power to Baghdad (or devolve it to Baghdad, Mosul, and Basra) as soon as sanely possible. But with the current climate, it just makes no sense for Coalition commanders to be at the mercy of the whims of an untested government.

However, you know that isn’t how the story will be spun by Team Kerry — even though Kerry himself has said that the June 30 deadline is arbitrary and unreasonable.

Stay tuned.

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No Wagering Please

April 22nd, 2004 - 12:52 am

The Montreal Rockettes

It’s too soon to run another caption contest. I just felt like posting this picture.

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One Mo’ Time

April 22nd, 2004 - 12:42 am

Once again, Tom Friedman is dead-on about the problem. . .

Several executives explained to me that they were opening new plants in Asia

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Caption Contest

April 22nd, 2004 - 12:20 am

We have winners to Tuesday’s contest — click MORE for the results.


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Modern Chores

April 22nd, 2004 - 12:01 am

Got a courtesy call tonight from Chase Bank. Usually, when one of your credit card companies calls you at night as a “courtesy,” you’re the one expected to be courteous as they explain their new credit protection program, and how very little it will cost you, and the first month is free, and [click].

So as soon as Crystal introduced herself and told me she was from Chase, I put on my Sales Call Voice, the one which instantly lets the seller know that I will only tolerate their existence for as long as it will take me to get my name forever removed from their calling list.

I switched back to normal voice when, instead of saying “credit protection,” Crystal said “credit card fraud.” Suddenly I was really quite very interested in what she had to say

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