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Monthly Archives: July 2004

Paranoia, The Destroyer

July 29th, 2004 - 10:28 am

I have to admit, I’ve been wondering what the big deal was over the Kerry “bunny suit” picture that popped up this week. I just didn’t have the same reaction everybody else had (i.e., cracking up); my thought was, “Oh, he’s in a clean suit.” That’s it. Then I read this today:

The pictures have prompted chuckles and jokes among political pundits covering the Democratic National Convention in Boston because, to people unfamiliar with shuttle operations, the head-to-toe light-blue suits look goofy.

However, astronauts, workers or anyone else getting inside a shuttle or near other spacecraft and rockets being readied for launch wears such coveralls to protect the delicate vehicles from contamination.

Exactly right. If you’re familiar with clean-area procedures, the “bunny suit” wasn’t that much of a giggle-inducer (and what the heck, Kerry looks goofy in normal clothes).

Of course, all of the above just reinforces how dumb it was for Kerry flack Mary Beth Cahill to freak out and accuse NASA of a “dirty trick” in releasing the photos. I’d bet you dollars to donuts (mmm, donuts) that nobody at NASA even thought there was anything weird about those pictures.

But now the Kerry campaign has pissed off the vast majority of a large workforce in the most crucial electoral state on the map. Bad move, Mary Beth.

UPDATE: Oh, good grief. Now a silly legal threat has forced NASA to remove the photos from their site. Maybe Rove really does have moles embedded on the other side–why else would the Dems be so dead-set on turning a non-story into an embarrassing black eye?

If this is an indicator of the Kerry campaign’s political savvy, Bush should be sleeping very well these days.

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Still Crazy After All These Years

July 29th, 2004 - 10:19 am

Happy Fun Pundit is back.

And it’s about damn time.

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July 29th, 2004 - 10:14 am

Before Drudge, before GoogleNews, before Instapundit — NewsfeedOnline found this story:

The Rev. Jesse Jackson is in Boston asking for United Nations observers to monitor the November elections. Jackson says the present system in the U.S. cannot be trusted, but the UN can be trusted. Rep. Corrine Brown (D-Fla.), several members of the Democratic Congressional Black Caucus, and radical feminist groups have added their voices in agreement with Jackson.

As Jeff Goldstein says, “Jesse who? Never heard of the guy.”

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Geek Alert

July 29th, 2004 - 10:07 am

I’d watch a lot more of both conventions if everyone — candidates, speakers, journalists, delegates, everyone — was required to wear one of these.

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Morning Rush

July 29th, 2004 - 9:56 am

Punch the Bag wasn’t exactly impressed with the foreign policy part of John Edwards’s speech last night:

Then Edwards turned the corner and headed down the national security path. C

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C’mon, They’re Not That Dumb

July 29th, 2004 - 9:52 am

Did the UN learn nothing from Rwanda?

The U-S has introduced a new draft resolution on Sudan in the U-N Security Council — without the word “sanctions.”

But the draft still threatens economic action against the African nation if it doesn’t take steps to disarm Arab militias blamed for killing thousands in the Darfur region.

The change was made after some Security Council members objected to the mention of sanctions in an earlier draft — saying Sudan should have more time to end the violence in Darfur.

Sure looks like it.

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“Fuzzier and fuzzier”

July 29th, 2004 - 9:29 am

Seattle PI has a fair story on blogs on bloggers:

Most bloggers, unlike traditional media outlets, don’t have the resources to research and publish in-depth investigative stories. And many bloggers rely on newspapers and magazines for their information.

At the same time, journalists are increasingly relying on bloggers to find experts and pundits and as new sources of information.

“People are creating this distinction between blogs and traditional media, but I think that distinction is becoming fuzzier and fuzzier,” said Brian Montopoli, who operates the blog campaigndesk.org for the Columbia Journalism Review.

Bloggers who mix news, analysis and opinion have forced reporters to move beyond simple “he said, she said” journalism, Montopoli said.

Read the rest here.

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C’mon, We’re Not That Dumb

July 29th, 2004 - 8:13 am

Sometimes you just have to shake your head:

John Kerry’s family dumped millions of dollars of foreign holdings as he launched his White House bid, gobbling up Made in the USA stocks in a huge politically savvy international-to-domestic shift.

The investments, mostly in the name of Kerry’s multimillionaire wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, sold stock in massive overseas players like Heineken, Sony, British Petroleum and Italian Telecom for red, white and blue companies like McDonald’s, Dell and Kohls.

In all, the Kerrys dumped as much as $16 million worth of international stock and bought between $18 million and $32 million in domestic holdings between 2002 and 2003, records show.

Okay, so far, so what? This kind of thing happens all the time in politics; innumerable politicians of all parties have traded in their Mercedes or Lexi for Chevys and Fords just before (or after) declaring their candidacy. It’s done to avoid being labelled as “helping them furriners,” and really, it’s no big deal. But then you read something like this:

Marla Romash, a senior adviser to Kerry, said the financial decisions aren’t political.

“The trustees and Mrs. Heinz Kerry have asked these investment managers, who make their own investment decisions, only to take appropriate steps to ensure that investments are responsible and financially prudent,” Romash said. “The trustees review these investments periodically with the managers to ensure that these investments are responsible as well as financially prudent.”

Oh, please. Ms. Romash, you’re lying, and it’s patently obvious that you’re lying. It’s not smart for a campaign spokescreature to assume that her audience is just mind-bogglingly gullible, particularly when it’s so easy to fact-check your ass:

[T]he timing of the sales appears to be an anomaly among a relatively consistent investment pattern.

Through most of Kerry’s federal disclosure forms, the Heinz Kerry trusts – which invest some of the massive inheritance after the death of her first husband, Sen. H. John Heinz III, more than a decade ago – show steady investments and sales of overseas assets.

In the spring of 2002, as Kerry seriously began weighing a presidential run, there appeared to be a marked increase in sales of overseas holdings.

Those stocks were sold because Sugar Mama’s hubby was running for president, and didn’t want to be embarrassed by his wife’s being invested heavily in foreign companies (on the other hand–what are Kerry’s overseas backers going to make of that?).

C’mon, Kerry campaign. Be honest enough to admit it. If we can’t trust you on something this obvious, why should we trust you at all?

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King Mattress Update

July 29th, 2004 - 6:54 am

I listened to a little bit of Hugh Hewitt’s Tuesday interview with French “journalist” Regis Le Sommier on a replay yesterday. One of the funnier bits (and there were a lot of them; Sommier clearly had no idea how much Hewitt was leading him along) came when Sommier dismissed a caller’s challenge about the French-built and Israeli-destroyed Osiraq nuclear plant being part of a weapons program, saying, “I know what I am talking about here. My father was a nuclear engineer.”

Hey, Regis! My dad is a dentist. Feel free to drop by anytime, I’ll give you a root canal, on the house.

That is, if you ever get over the one administered by Steven Den Beste today…

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July 28th, 2004 - 10:55 pm

Taking Glenn’s advice — drinking beer tonight.


Somebody asked, so I’m going to tell. I’ve got Fat Tire on tap, and Rounders in the DVD drive. Life is good.

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Speaking Truth To Appeasement

July 28th, 2004 - 5:10 pm

Via Roger L. Simon, Mohammed from Iraq The Model lays his cards on the table:

Can you answer the question what will be the response of Iraqis towards these horrible attacks? I

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July 28th, 2004 - 12:48 pm

I was going to Fisk the multiple idiocies of Regis Le Sommier, as catalogued by Lileks, but then realized there was no point; Lileks had already imbedded links to enough hard facts to thoroughly debunk Sommier’s nonsense.

Still, the breadth of Sommier’s ignorance and/or dishonesty (take your pick) is rather staggering, to say nothing of his apparently unshakable belief in things that aren’t remotely true. France was Saddam’s leading European trading partner and second-largest armorer. The French-built Osiraq plant–personally negotiated by none other than Jacques Chirac–was capable of producing bomb-grade nuclear materials. France’s Fina-Elf did have a huge financial stake in a Saddam-controlled Iraq’s oil business, having signed sweetheart deals with the dictator before the war.

None of these are opinions. They’re all established, documented facts. All denied, with the vehemence of the worst partisan spin doctors, by a guy who’s the American bureau chief for one of his country’s major magazines. This dude has the gall to complain about Fox News? He’s not a reporter, he’s a cheerleader. And a baldly dishonest one, at that.

Think about that little exchange with Lileks the next time you read about American “ignorance” vs. European “sophistication,” or the alleged high level of French education and/or “open-mindedness,” to say nothing about Euro charges that the US media is “unbalanced” compared to the completely equitable and fair-minded press in Old Europe. Ask yourself whether the opinions of people so devoted to flat-out lies are actually worth anything to you, or your country.

And also remind yourself: this guy, who apparently reflects a large majority of opinion in his country, is rooting for John Kerry. Hard.

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Frog Gigging

July 28th, 2004 - 10:57 am

It’s here.

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July 28th, 2004 - 7:48 am

The Electronic Freedom Foundation has launched a neat project. They’re putting up instructions and information on how to build your own DVR (aka, Tivo, ReplayTV, etc.) for HDTV programming. The Digital Liberation Front aims to get as many of these homebrew boxes in circulation as possible before the Hollywood-backed and FCC-ordered “broadcast flag” becomes manditory in HDTV receivers just over a year from now.

As things stand today, you can buy an HDTV capture card for a computer that does not recognize the broadcast flag, meaning you should be able to view, record, and save unlimited copies of any program that comes in through the card. These cards are perfectly legal today, and are not going to become illegal under the current law, but their production (at least for US sales) will end on July 1, 2005. After that, the networks and movie studios will be able to prevent you from making recordings or copies of recordings, depending on how the broadcast flag is set, and any new HDTV hardware will have to obey those rules.

This kind of project isn’t for a complete computer novice, but it’s not like building a flux capacitor, either. Anybody who’s comfortable installing software and a few PCI cards should be able to get a rudimentary HDTV PVR working on standard PC or Mac hardware.

As a confirmed DVR addict (ReplayTV in my case, a platform that makes extracting digital recordings for burning to DVD trivially easy), I’m planning to pick up a couple of pre-flag HDTV cards myself, even though I don’t own an HDTV monitor yet. Sooner or later, I’m going to want to burn an HDTV Auburn-Alabama game to high-capacity DVD, and I’m not going to depend on the goodwill of CBS or ESPN to graciously “allow” me to do so.

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That’s Right, I’m Not From Texas

July 28th, 2004 - 6:36 am

… but I did pay tuition there a decade or so ago.

Okay, that was a pointless aside, and not-very-artful way of saying that I didn’t watch a lick of Mrs. Heinz-Ketchup, Governor YEEEEAAAAGH!, or Senator Chappaquiddick last night. Instead, I got to enjoy a blissful evening at Atlanta’s Chastain Ampetheater hosted by the one and only Lyle Lovett (who, to the everlasting gratitude of his audience, remains blessedly apolitical in public).

Lovett’s shows are always a highlight of the summer concert season at Chastain, and this year was no exception. He’s stripped down the Large Band to an all-strings ensemble for this tour (two guitars, mandolin, violin, lap steel, cello and bass, plus drums and piano), dropping the horn section and most of the backup singers. The result is a leaner, more rootsy sound that emphasizes Lovett’s country and blues roots while maintaining a healthy dose of the jazz influences that make him such a unique perfomer and songwriter.

Personally, I love the sound a great horn section brings to much of Lovett’s music, and I have to say I preferred the 2003 set to the 2004, but these are quibbles. It was a marvelous evening, and nobody on stage ever so much as blushed at the thought of hitting a wrong note.

As has become the standard for Lovett’s local appearances, the show was stolen by Atlanta’s own queen of the blues, the luminous Francine Reed. It only took one song with Reed on backing vocals for my friends to say, “Now we know why you keep telling us to go see her!” Reed’s a gem, and a great performer; if you ever see her name on a marquee, do yourself a favor and buy a ticket.

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Prelude To A Screed

July 28th, 2004 - 5:10 am

As noted below, James Lileks got mugged by a French magazine editor yesterday; Hugh Hewitt has posted a brief rundown, just to whet your appetite for Frog Fricassee while we await today’s Bleat:

Spending a lot of time today with Regis le Sommier, U.S. bureau chief of Paris Match, a sort of Life meets Time meets People. Great exchange between Regis and Lileks, which I hope James writes about tomorrow. Regis acted towards Lileks as all French diplomats acted towards Bush Administration people throughout the fall of 2002 and the spring of 2003. It wasn’t pretty, but it should inspire Lileks to some pretty good writing in tomorrow’s Bleat. Basically, Regis confirmed that the French would vote overwhelmingly for Kerry if given the choice. We knew that, but hearing it confirmed by a senior French journalist somehow makes Kerry’s politics much more distinct.

I maintain that the most devastating one-liner the Bush campaign could use would go something like this: “John Kerry–the French love him, and the feeling is mutual.”

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Wargaming the Electoral College

July 28th, 2004 - 2:38 am

The Wall Street Journal’s election prediction toy starts you off like so:

Wall Street Journal Projection

Larry Sabato is willing to go all out, and call all 50 states, yielding a Kerry victory.

Larry Sabato's Prediction

There’s no direct link to the WSJ toy, because it’s a JavaScript pop-up. But you can click on OpinionJournal’s main page, and find the link on the left-hand column.

Fun stuff, if you’re into that kind of thing.

Some might critique Sabato because he has more or less come out as a Kerry partisan. True — but I’ve only seen that reflected in his written analysis, not in his numbers.

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July 28th, 2004 - 2:01 am

Drudge had the teaser up all night, but now we get the, ah, rest of the story:

Almost all the electronic records from the first widespread use of touch-screen voting in Miami-Dade County have been lost, stoking concerns that the machines are unreliable as the presidential election draws near.

The records disappeared after two computer system crashes last year, county elections officials said, leaving no audit trail for the 2002 gubernatorial primary. A citizens group uncovered the loss this month after requesting all audit data from that election.

Sounds like bad news, especially to electronic-voting enthusiasts like myself. But then the story also reports that a “county official said a new backup system would prevent electronic voting data from being lost in the future.”

So the problem wasn’t that the machines didn’t give proper election returns, the problem was that the data weren’t properly secured after the fact. All that says much more about the Miami-Dade Election Commission (as if more needed to be said) than it does about the machines themselves.

Furthermore, if we’re still questioning election returns two years after the fact, then we have a much more serious problem than bad data backup.

You hear me, Al Gore?

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July 28th, 2004 - 1:51 am

I’ve gotta take a moment to pat myself (and Will Collier, bless him!) on the back.

Last couple of weeks, this blog has been red hot. Traffic is up, which is flattering, but that’s not the main reason for all the self-congratulations. Postings are more frequent. Quality is improved. And best of all, I’m having more fun with this blog than I have in at least two years.

Am I drinking more? Nope – doesn’t square with improved quality and quantity.

Am I on Prozac? Not a chance. You read the stuff here lately?

Am I drinking better coffee in the AMs? I wish.

The blog is good again, for the simple reason that I like looking at it. And I like looking at it because of Sekimori, the brilliant bitch (her word!) who did the redesign.

Bet Sekimori could work some wonders for you, too.

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Lileks vs the Frogs

July 28th, 2004 - 1:31 am

All we got tonight was a teaser:

And so it came to pass that the very night I had to write a column about my daughter’s birthday was interrupted by a 20-minute argument with the American bureau chief for Paris Match. I will post my column to the Strib computer at 1 PM tomorow; my response to Chanticleer will be up by noon Central Standard Time. Short version: suggesting that Chirac was close to Saddam does not mean one works for Fox, you prique. Long version: stay tuned.

I can’t wait for the rest.

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July 28th, 2004 - 1:28 am

Bill Safire:

On the death penalty, Bush is for and Kerry straddles. On abortion, Bush is against and Kerry straddles. On same-sex marriage, Bush is demonstrably against, while Kerry is rhetorically against but cleverly finds a policy resting place that allows him to straddle.

It happens that I agree with Bush on the death penalty, prefer the Supreme Court compromises on abortion and disagree with him on a same-sex amendment. [I'm with Safire on two outta three -- ed.] But in all cases, this president takes a stand and makes clear what it is. Bush is not trying to be, in the biblical phrase, all things to all men.

Contrariwise, these Kerry straddles are troubling in one who aspires to trustworthy leadership. I won’t be watching his acceptance speech tomorrow for war stories, Clintonian crowd appeal or sudden, soaring eloquence. An end to the straddling would help.

I’m not holding my breath.

I’m wishy-washy on the death penalty. I don’t personally support it for practical reasons (kinda hard to commute an unjust execution, after the fact), but it’s also clear that the Constitution does indeed endorse it. Kerry says he’s against the death penalty, but straddles with the “except for terrorists” exception.

So I’m closer to Kerry than to Bush on that issue.

I’m pro-choice, but have no real complaint with a ban on non-medical-necessity late-term abortions. If the fetus is viable outside the womb, then in my mind, the state probably has an interest in protecting it. In any other case, the rights (if any — the Constitution extends rights only to those “born or naturalized” in the United States) of the unborn have to weighed against the rights of the mother. The fetus — baby, whatever, I don’t care — has potential. The mother already has a real life. Mom wins.

Make that two issues where I’m closer to Kerry than to Bush — doubly so when you add in the silly Right to Life arguments against stem cell research. On that one, I’m an absolutist, and Bush & the Republicans could very well have created a wedge issue which will go hard against them.

Same sex marriage? I’m for for for it. Oh, I could reach some kind of “civil union” compromise, and I’d like to see the courts stay out of it. But too many gay marriage supporters are too self-centered not to take it to court, and too many judges (either for or against) are too self-aggrandizing not to meddle. What it boils down to is, someday gays will win their marriage rights. Just not by any method they should take any pride in.

Of the three issues Safire discussed, I’m far closer to Kerry than I am to Bush. But, come November, I’ll almost certainly pull the lever for Bush.

Why? Because I can’t really be sure Kerry is on my side. He straddles. He obfuscates. He speaks in indecipherable Senatorese. If he won’t take a stand during the primaries, when he needs only to appeal to fellow Democrats, how can I count on him to stand up to a Republican Congress?

How can any of us count on him to stand up to al Qaeda? Or China? Or France?

I don’t like George W Bush. But at least half the time, I can be pretty sure where he stands — about double the percentage of your average politician. I know when I’ll have to fight Bush, and where I can let him lead me.

But Kerry gives me the feeling he’d sell out my one vote in a heartbeat, on the off chance of getting 1.01 more votes in the next election. Just like he sold out his Catholic belief that life begins at conception, his principled stand against the death penalty, and his once-firm stance on gay marriage, which. . .

. . .wait, did Kerry ever take a stand on gay marriage?

See what I mean?

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T-Minus What Now?

July 28th, 2004 - 12:47 am

We’re getting closer to manned commercial spaceflight:

The world’s first privately funded spacecraft will fly again on Sept. 29, its U.S. backers said Tuesday.

SpaceShipOne, as the vehicle is called, will make its first attempt to win the Ansari X Prize, a $10 million award to the first private rocket to carry the equivalent of three passengers to an altitude of 100 kilometers (62 miles) twice within two weeks.

The prize rules require contestants to give at least 60 days’ notice of their intent to launch.

Famed aviator Burt Rutan, head of Scaled Composites of Mojave, Calif., said at a news briefing the first attempt has been scheduled for the end of September, meaning the craft will have to launch again and reach the target altitude successfully by Oct. 13.

Mark your calender for October 13th, so you’ll be sure to remember what day the world changes — yet again. There’s been a lot of that going around the last few years.


Frank Martin writes:

Osama is eating spam and squishing crickets in a cave somewhere while Burt and the boys are going into space. The whole islamic world can barely make pencils, while our people (without government assistace no less) build craft to take us away from the cradle of earth.

Now go buy yourself a way-cool t-shirt, and help support charities in Mojave, CA — soon to be known as Space City, USA, I hope.

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Required Reading

July 28th, 2004 - 12:42 am

In a WaPo column, author and military historian Caleb Carr argues that we need to broaden the definition of “War on Terror.” Read:

Terrorism, as defined by military historians, has been a constant, ugly feature of warfare, an aberrant tactic akin to slavery, piracy and genocide. One of the reasons that some of us argued throughout the 1990s for undertaking of genuine war on terrorism (involving the military in addition to intelligence and law enforcement) was the notion that we might finally declare the tactic — like those other aberrant belligerent methods — to be out of bounds, for the armed forces of civilized nations and non-state organizations alike.

It’s true that both slavery and piracy are still practiced, but only in remote corners of the world; certainly genocide is still with us, but its employment is now cause for immediate sanction and forceful reaction (theoretically, at any rate) by the United Nations. Banning such tactics and actively stamping out their practice has been the work of some of the great political and military minds and leaders of the past two centuries. Now it is time — past time, really — for terrorism to take its place as a similarly proscribed and anachronistic practice.

There’s more thought-provoking stuff in there — and you probably won’t find you like all the dark places Caleb’s logic leads. That’s what makes it today’s Required Reading.

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From the Great White North, proof of Reagan’s Economic Dictum:

Government’s view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidise it.

I think we can assume from this bit that a certain Canadian, ah, industry, is still moving. To say the least.

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The Beverage That Should Not Be

July 27th, 2004 - 1:47 pm

This is so gross, I don’t even know where to start. Undoubtably destined for its own chapter in Lileks’ next Regrettable Food book.

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Funny, but we don’t hear much of anything about this from any of the networks:

While the Bush campaign has spent more than $86 million on political advertising so far, the official Kerry campaign has spent a little more than $73 million. But when the calculations include the $42.4 million spent on political ads by pro-Democratic 527s, the total Democratic message has outpaced that of the Republicans by $32 million, Smith said.

It’s safe to assume that this would be a screaming-headline “threat to democarcy” if those numbers were reversed, particularly if pro-Bush groups were spending more than half again as much money as the candidate himself. It’s also worth mentioning that these commercial buys are a huge cash cow for the TV networks and stations, one the news departments would be wary of criticizing even if they weren’t in ideological agreement with the leftie 527′s.

That said, with over $115 million spent on ads by and for his candidacy to date, the fact that Kerry has never had so much as a high single-digit opinion poll lead can’t be heartening to anybody on the hate-Bush side.

There’s also this, the Kerry campaign’s plan to “go dark” on advertising buys for the month of August. In the old days, that would be a concession; this year, it’s just a tacit admission that the “independent” 527′s (run by some of the most influential Democratic power brokers in the country) will be doing the Bush-bashing and (maybe) Kerry-boosting in place of the actual campaign.

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History Repeats Itself

July 27th, 2004 - 11:54 am

Off the Record:

ROBERT Kennedy Jr. stole the show at an A-list panel of literary liberal critics of the Bush administration. At the con vention’s official functions, John Kerry may want to show off a positive agenda and downplay the Bush-hating faction of the party. But, yesterday, Kennedy gave the jam-packed attendees of the First Parish Church in the middle of Harvard Square what they apparently really wanted

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Religion of Peace

July 27th, 2004 - 11:41 am

Here’s a story requiring no additional comment:

DALLAS — A Muslim charity that was shut down after federal authorities accused it of being terrorism’s financial arm was charged Tuesday with conspiracy, dealing with terrorists and money laundering.

The Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, its executive director, its chairman and five other men were named in the 42-count federal indictment unsealed Tuesday.

The indictment alleges count or counts of conspiracy, providing support to a foreign terrorist organization, conspiracy to deal in the property of a terrorist and dealing in the property of a specially designated terrorist.

The indictment also alleges money laundering, conspiracy to impede an investigation by the IRS and filing false tax returns.

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Kill Your Television

July 27th, 2004 - 11:19 am

Andrew Sullivan on the Democratic Convention — a few choice lines:

Tightly scripted, elegantly choreographed, seamlessly on the centrist message of war, unity, maturity and judgment.

. . .military service was held up as the ideal; prudent leadership was touted in a time of “peril”. . .

I never actually believed [Kerry would] be canny enough to do exactly that. But he has!

A vital move. And it was done movingly and well.

I had a catch in my throat as “Amazing Grace” struck up, and another as I absorbed the fact that a Muslim-American and a Jewish-American had just joined in tribute to the murdered.

The cultural signals were superbly done as well.

We were constantly reminded that Kerry would attack in his aluminum boat, rather than be merely defensive.

Kerry is as tough as Bush – but with “judgment and maturity.”

Carter’s was the better speech, but Clinton was magnificent.

If the constitution didn’t prevent it, [Clinton] would still be president. After last night’s speech, you can see why.

That’s not analysis; it’s unadulterated gushing. And it flies in the face of Andrew’s claim yesterday that his not-quite-endorsement of Kerry wasn’t really a not-quite-endorsement.

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Left Coast Blues

July 27th, 2004 - 11:04 am

Looks like the girlie men caved:

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and legislative leaders said they’ve reached agreement on a $103 billion spending plan, breaching an impasse that’s held up passage of a budget 27 days into the fiscal year.

The budget, which still must be approved by two-thirds of the Democratic-controlled Legislature, has no tax increases. Schwarzenegger relies on $7 billion in bonds, loans and internal transfers and about $5 billion in spending cuts to cover a $14 billion projected deficit for the fiscal year that began July 1.

The measure still needs approval from the full state legislature — but count on that being a (mostly) done deal.

California created modern celebrity culture. Who knew that its most effective practitioner would be a Republican governor?

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