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Monthly Archives: August 2004

Caution

August 29th, 2004 - 10:10 pm

If you see this man in New York, he’s probably being pelted with rocks and garbage.

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Dueling Pundits

August 29th, 2004 - 10:09 pm

It’s Mike Kinsley vs Charles Krauthammer in the new issue of Time. The topic is: Should we or should we not vote for George Bush?

First up, the only part of Kinsley’s piece where he scores anything more than ad hominem points:

Subtract the war on terror, including Iraq, and the Bush presidency looks small indeed. Buying short-term prosperity by goosing the economy with heavy borrowing is no trick at all, yet it’s not clear that Bush has pulled off even this (except the borrowing). His party has controlled Congress for most of his term. Aside from the traditional Republican wealth-friendly tax cut, can you name a single major successful legislative initiative? O.K., prescription drugs for seniors. Starting in 2006. If it works, which many experts doubt.

Ouch. Sadly, the rest of the piece doesn’t amount to much. On the other hand, if you enjoy Mike’s brand of sneering condescension (and oftentimes, I do), then it’s still worth reading.

Now let’s turn the floor over to Krauthammer:

John Kerry tells us we have to wage a more sensitive war where we acquiesce more to “allies.” O.K., let’s talk allies. Which is the single most crucial ally in the war on terrorism? France? Germany?

Russia? No. Pakistan. Pakistan made possible the destruction of the Taliban, and has been turning over to us the most important al-Qaeda figures ever captured. How did Bush turn the world’s foremost supporter of the Taliban into our most critical ally against them?

Sensitivity? Two days after 9/11, Bush had his Secretary of State deliver an ultimatum to the Pakistanis: Join us or else. They joined.

That is leadership.

And that’s why, come November 2, I’ll hold my nose, vote for Bush — and pray seniors get so angry they demand the stupid and expensive Medicare expansion gets repealed; that no one retires from the Supreme Court; and that Congress finally quits spending my yet-to-be-conceived kid’s paychecks.

Fat chance, I know.

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Voting Republican Ain’t Easy

August 29th, 2004 - 9:14 pm

Neoconservative publisher Adam Bellow (son of author Saul), describes his journey from Left to Right in a fascinating New York Metro piece. Most interesting was this little tidbit near the end:

In short, the conservative intellectual movement has gone off the rails. Politics has trumped ideas, scholars have been displaced by hired gladiators, and people like me

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So Long (For Now, I Hope)

August 29th, 2004 - 8:46 pm

As you might already know, Steven Den Beste has decided to give up blogging for an indefinite time. I think a lot of us saw this coming, when he first went on hiatus a couple weeks ago. Here’s the email I sent him then:

This is one of those Please Don’t Bother to Respond letters.

I’ve been reading and enjoying your stuff, free of charge like everyone else, for almost three years.

If and when you come off hiatus, I’ll be thrilled. If you don’t, then let me thank you, as feebly as I can in a simple email, for all that you’ve done. So — thank you.

That’s all.

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Advantage: Powerline

August 29th, 2004 - 5:43 pm

Ten years ago, an old high school buddy and I wrote a book about our mutual favorite subject, Auburn and Alabama football. It was published in 1995 as “The Uncivil War,” and proved to be a strong regional seller, going back to press less than two months after publication. When we set out to promote the book, Scott Brown and I were surprised at how much trouble we had getting reviewed in the state newspapers. Radio and television were no problem at all (and fair to say, much more fun), but the book was barely noted in the four largest papers. It took nearly a year before I found out why.

I was appearing on a Montgomery, Alabama radio show one afternoon early in the 1996 football season, and remarked off the air to one of the hosts that despite the book’s success and subject matter (easily the most popular topic in the state at any given moment) we still hadn’t been reviewed in any of the big papers. “Well, that’s easy to figure out,” the host said. “Y’all aren’t in the fraternity.”

“Huh?” I asked intelligently.

“Neither of you two guys graduated in journalism. Neither of you has worked for a paper. Neither of you spent ten years covering junior-high track before you were allowed to write about college football. But then you come out of nowhere get published on your first time out. There’s a whole lot of guys who’ve been working in sports sections for ten, fifteen, twenty years who think that’s un-cool. Y’all aren’t in the fraternity, and that’s why they’re trying to ignore you.”

For a more recent example of newspaper parochialism, check out today’s Powerline Blog. John Hinderaker and Scott Johnson, having embarrassed Minneapolis Star-Tribune editorial page editor Jim Boyd by calling him out on a frankly slanderous column directed at the two of them, got the opportunity to respond–very much to Boyd’s discontent. Boyd replied to the response on the same page, in one of the most tendentious, pompous, and unintentionally revealing looks into the media mindset that you’re ever likely to read. Here’s a tidbit of Boyd’s column:

We are in the middle of an important national event: the real-time confrontation of a political smear. In previous elections, the examination has almost always been in retrospect. Now the smear, against John Kerry’s military service, is being critically examined as it happens. Vigilance is required, and a little courage.

I see the recent commentary by John H. Hinderaker and Scott W. Johnson (“Unwrapping Kerry’s story of Christmas in Cambodia,” Aug. 18) as part of that smear. It did not meet what I believe should be the standards of the Star Tribune’s editorial pages. Such pieces should not appear here, and that one does so for the second time in 10 days pains me greatly.

I’ve no doubt that Boyd is pained by the reappearance of Hinderaker and Johnson–because these two “amateurs” simply buried the “professional” journalist on his own turf. The Powerline columns are pointed, fact-oriented, and light on invective. Boyd’s responses amount to nothing more than a few quibbles surrounded by a whole pile of ad hominem attacks, wrapped with a bow of silly self-righteousness.

Mr. Boyd, I’ll tell you what I previously told your like-minded collegue, Randell Beck of the Argus Leader (South Dakota):

You are a hack, and a dinosaur. You clearly can’t stand it that the “little people” out here aren’t subject to your personal political filter.

Get used to it. We don’t work for you, and… we aren’t terribly interested in your take on things. Your tar pit isn’t getting any smaller–but your influence is.

NOTE: There were two writers in the Alabama press who gave us more than a fair shake during the run of “The Uncivil War.” They were Clyde Bolton of the Birmingham News, then the dean of the state’s sportswriters, and Rick Harmon, the entertainment editor of the Montgomery Advertiser. Scott and I were and remain deeply grateful for their consideration and recognition.

As a second footnote, after the experience of writing the book, Scott became a professional sports writer himself, leaving a successful career as a computer programmer to go back to school and get a journalism degree. He is a staff writer at the Orange County Register (CA) today.

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Attention

August 29th, 2004 - 2:06 pm

Is there anywhere in Colorado Springs where I can get a real roast beef sandwich? Preferably on a nice, light rye with spicy mustard and a little horseradish?

The local Jewish community, Dave, isn’t answering his phone this afternoon.

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Predicting Chapter 3

August 29th, 2004 - 1:41 pm

Ann Althouse has a nice piece today about the way the press has written their first drafts of the 2004 presidential campaign. In brief, Althouse says that Howard Dean’s rise and fall were Chapter 1, and Kerry’s sudden surge to the nomination was Chapter 2:

So Kerry rolled into the nomination, and the media were prepared to keep a steady flattering light on him until he ascended into the presidency in November. They thought the Kerry ascendancy would be chapter two of the history of the 2004 election, and they thought they were looking good and getting the story right.

But what if chapter two was the story of Kerry making Vietnam the centerpiece of his candidacy setting off an out-of-nowhere takedown by a bunch of veterans who have been pissed off at him for 35 years? No, no way could that be the story! We aren’t going to talk about that. No, no

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Wargaming the Electoral College

August 29th, 2004 - 10:41 am

Using the latest polling data collated by Real Clear Politics and OpinionJournal‘s online calculator, here’s how the election looks today:

That’s tight.

UPDATE

Larry Sabato’s map remains unchanged since June. He calls only two states differently than I do, giving both Nevada and West Virginia to Kerry. Nevada’s a toss-up, and I had a hell of a time deciding which column to put it in. In the end, I figured the Republican organizational edge would make the difference there. But things have changed a lot in NV, and I could very well be wrong.

But if Sabato thinks West Virginia is going for Kerry, he’s come unhinged. The best polling information available is from Democrat-partisan John Zogby, who has Bush up by almost eight points.

ANOTHER UPDATE

Assuming everything else remains unchanged, giving Nevada to Kerry results in a 269-269 tie. If you thought Florida 2000 was bad. . .

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Weekend Reading

August 28th, 2004 - 3:06 pm

Couple things for you today. Don’t miss Steven Taylor’s pre-RNC Toast-O-Meter. The lowdown:

Kerry is taking hits from the Swiftees (as evidenced by the fact that he has decided he must defend himself daily, and that he decided to spend money for ads on the subject

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The Drought is Over

August 27th, 2004 - 7:04 pm

A view from my back yard this evening. Yes, that’s fresh powder on Pike’s Peak.

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Cable Companies Are Scum, Part MCMXLIV

August 26th, 2004 - 4:17 pm

Early this year, I switched from DSL to a cable modem. My local provider, Charter Cable, had cut its rates and better yet, dropped their requirement that internet users also have their cable TV service. Until this month, I had no complaints.

Then I get the bill for September. It’s $10 higher, no explaination. So I call Charter. Apparently they have suddenly re-instated a $10 extortion fee if you don’t have their TV serrvice (I switched to satellite in 1997, and I will never have cable TV again). Customer service agreed to drop the fee for the first month, but said they couldn’t do anything about the succeeding months. I explained that I switched from DSL to Charter specifically because Charter had dropped the additional fee, and that the next month I saw that fee on a bill, I would cut them off entirely.

I was transferred from there to the retention department, where the rep first tried to sell me on a 10-times slower speed service for the same rate I’ve been paying since January. I refused flat-out. She then said she would give me a $10 service credit every month for the next six months at my current service level. I agreed, but told her that “we’ll have another talk in six months.”

I will never pay an extortion fee to a cable company for not agreeing to a bundle with their crappy TV service (ditto for monopoly phone companies). If I can’t get the $10 waved again at the end of six months, I’ll tell Charter to go piss up a rope. This kind of arbitrary Mickey-Mouse fee nonsense is exactly why I haven’t had cable TV for nearly seven years, and reminds me of the fact that cable companies are peopled by the lowest forms of life.

I suspect this fee is going to go away anyway sometime next year, accompanied by considerable rate cuts. Once the wireless broadband network (scroll to third item) gets a foothold, the old monopoly cable and telco companies are going to be forced to cut their rates substantially. My guess would be that Charter’s double-game with the $10 extortion fee is their attempt to make a few extra bucks before they have to compete with wireless broadband.

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Star Trek

August 25th, 2004 - 11:05 pm

Writing about the long-distance controllers NASA’s various robotic probes, George Will notes that

people here know that all their marvels — JPL’s deep-space control center is monitoring 35 space ventures — are performed against a backdrop of deepening public indifference.

That’s as good as argument as any in favor of manned space exploration.

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Big News

August 25th, 2004 - 3:37 pm

Google, which owns Blogger, is going to pay people to blog:

Google plans to revert to contextual ads powered by its AdSense program, which was launched last June, with a major twist.

“We are going to start paying bloggers. Soon you will be blogging for dollars. That’s right people, chocolate is to peanut butter like AdSense is to blogs. Or is it the other way around? Either way, we’ve got something big here folks,” the company said in a note posted online.

It’s usually a sign that a blogger has “made it,” when they get off of Blogger and get their own domain. Are we about to see the movement reverse direction?

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Paging Will Collier. . .

August 25th, 2004 - 2:11 pm

Personal business to attend to the next couple of days, so blogging will be light at best.

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“The Big Angry”

August 25th, 2004 - 12:24 am

My latest column for Tech Central Station is up.

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“Peer Gynt” Will Never Sound the Same

August 24th, 2004 - 10:48 pm

Claudia Rosett has some suggestions on how to entertain yourself with something other than John Kerry’s Vietnam record. One item stands out:

Get your hands on an old black-and-white movie, Fritz Lang’s “M,” filmed in Berlin in 1931, which has more to say about terror, and the stopping of it, than just about anything produced in the 73 years since. It is the story of a child-killer, a murderer of innocents, stalking a terrorized city. The police finally rid the city of this monster by making life so unbearable for the ordinary criminals that the lords of the criminal underworld run him down themselves. It’s a terrific blueprint for dealing with terrorists and the regimes with which they consort, such as Syria and Iran.

I bought a copy three or four years ago, when the Critereon Collection DVD came out. Haven’t watched it since it first arrived in the months or year before September 11. It’s sitting in the Classics section of the DVD racks (yes, our movies are arranged alphabetically by genre), and I’ve thumbed past it more times than I can count, usually on my way to grabbing something with Kate or Bogart.

Time to make up for some lost time and watch “M” again.

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That’s Gonna Leave a Mark

August 24th, 2004 - 10:26 am

Robert Bidinotto finally weighs in on John Kerry’s war record, but wishes he didn’t have to:

Rather than dwell on 1/3 of one year in his 60-year life, voters should be asking him instead: Okay, Mr. Kerry, so what have you done with the other 59 3/4′s years of your life? What have you done, for example, during 20 years in the U. S. Senate, except to compile what the National Journal describes as the most liberal voting record of any senator? Or do you, in fact, focus everyone’s attention on those 17 weeks in Vietnam precisely because you don’t want anyone to pay much attention to the rest of your career?

I only wish that John Kerry’s philosophical courage had been equal to his physical courage. His political career has been characterized by the lowest sort of opportunism–a pragmatic choreography that has led him, step by calculated step, to serially marry two future campaign war chests, and to take a Heinz-like 57 varieties of positions on every conceivable issue.

Read the whole thing here.

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Found a couple news items from important swing states. First, from Ohio:

The mayor of a Democratic stronghold in Ohio known for its steel industry job losses endorsed the Republican president Monday.

George M. McKelvey, a Democrat in his second term, said he had no intention of becoming a Republican but might accept an invitation from Ohio Republicans to attend the Republican National Convention in New York.

In the 2000 presidential election, Vice President Al Gore, the Democratic nominee, received 69,212 votes to 40,460 for Bush in Mahoning County, which includes Youngstown. Democrats outnumber Republicans by a 5-1 ratio, according to the Mahoning County Board of Elections,

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Whoa

August 24th, 2004 - 9:41 am

Just — whoa.

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Be Careful What You Wish For

August 23rd, 2004 - 10:42 pm

David Brooks is a far better columnist than I’ll ever be, but he screwed up today. It’s not that he’s wrong — he makes excellent points, and in an endlessly-debatable way. (And really, isn’t that what a good column should do?) It’s not that it isn’t well-written — the New York Times doesn’t hire many bad writers, even the ones you disagree with.

Strangely though, he made his points in the wrong order, minimizing their impact. So here is today’s first-ever Revised David Brooks Excerpt. Second point first:

Kerry’s speeches in the 1990′s read nothing like that 1971 [Congresional] testimony. The passion is gone. The pompous prevaricator is in. You read them and you see a man so cautiously calculating not to put a foot wrong that he envelops himself in a fog of caveats and equivocations. You see a man losing the ability to think like a normal human being and starting instead to think like an embassy.

Tough decisions are evaded through the construction of pointless distinctions. Hard questions are verbosely straddled. Kerry issued statements endorsing the use of force in the Balkans so full of backdoor caveats you couldn’t tell if he was coming or going. He delivered a tough-sounding speech on urban poverty filled with escape clauses he then exploited when the criticism came.

Most people take a certain pride in their own opinions. They feel attached to them as part of who they are. But Kerry can be coldly detached from his views, willing to use, flip or hide them depending on the exigencies of the moment.

And now the first point:

If voters see that [1971] testimony [in the Swift Boat ads], they will see a young man arguing passionately for a cause. They will see a young man willing to take risks and boldly state his beliefs. Whether they agree or not, they will see in John Kerry a man of conviction.

Many young people, who don’t have an emotional investment in endlessly refighting the conflicts of the late 1960′s, might take a look at that man and decide they like him. They might not realize that man no longer exists.

Brooks’s version of Brooks can be found here.

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You Don’t Cure Cancer with a Band-Aid

August 23rd, 2004 - 10:25 pm

This is refreshing:

The very idea of dismantling the Central Intelligence Agency, Senator Pat Roberts concedes, is one that he could not have conceived of proposing even a year ago.

But the overhaul now being pressed by him and seven other Republicans on the Senate Intelligence Committee is very much the product of accumulated frustrations, Mr. Roberts said. On the issue of Iraq in particular, but also Sept. 11 and other setbacks, repeated intelligence failures have transformed even Mr. Roberts, a Kansan long regarded as a dependable defender of the C.I.A and a loyal ally of President Bush, into a vociferous critic of intelligence agencies and an impatient second-guesser of the White House’s own overhaul plan.

Among the factors that Mr. Roberts, a droll former marine, cited in a conversation with reporters in his office on Monday afternoon as those that prompted his call for urgent action were a succession of “Oh my God hearings” in which senators asked in response to one intelligence failure after another: “Oh my God, why did that happen?”

Two words, Senator: Bureaucratic inertia. And there’s no cure for it short of something drastic. Getting rid of the CIA might just be drastic enough.

Reminds me of an article written by David Hackworth for Playboy ten or twelve years ago. It was called “Nuke the Pentagon.” Hackworth argued that the only way to get the ruinous politics out of the military was to drop the Big One on the five-sided headquarters — and move the military HQ somewhere far, far away from Washington. If I remember correctly, Hack suggested Ft. Leavensworth, Kansas.

Not that you could ever get the Navy or Air Force to relocate to an Army base, but you get the point.

So, it seems does Senator Roberts.

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Book Report

August 23rd, 2004 - 4:24 pm

Emergency Sex and Other Desperate Measures — it only sounds like fun. Read:

Emergency Sex also deals with the subject of UN corruption. One UN ambassador in Liberia was removed for taking fifteen percent kickbacks on everything the UN purchased. His successor tapped the phones, began sexually harassing vulnerable secretaries, and continued taking the same kickbacks. One thing that this book makes clear is that even with more military clout, the effectiveness of the UN would still be hampered by the low caliber of the people it employs.

Now go read the entire review.

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Linktastic!

August 23rd, 2004 - 1:07 pm

No way to run a campaign. . .”

All of Kerry’s August follies in one link-filled post.

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Hot Off the Wire

August 23rd, 2004 - 12:15 pm

Well, the Kerry Camp got what they wanted:

President Bush denounced TV ads by outside groups attacking both John Kerry and himself on Monday and called for a halt to all such political efforts. “I think they’re bad for the system,” he said.

That’s called a win-win — and not for Kerry. Bush gets to appear above the fray, while the Swift Boat Vets continue to run their ads.

(Big hat tip to Newsfeed.)

QUESTION: Kerry’s people are also demanding that Bush put a stop to the attack ads. But would that be legal, given that campaigns and 527 groups aren’t allowed to coordinate?

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Required Reading

August 23rd, 2004 - 11:47 am

Hanson to Europe: Grow Up!

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How Many Mosques Are Burning in Detroit?

August 23rd, 2004 - 11:43 am

Our European allies continue to lead the fight against anti-Semitic terror:

Fire swept through a Jewish community center in eastern Paris in the early morning hours today after arsonists broke into the building and scrawled swastikas and anti-Semitic slogans inside. It was the latest in a wave of neo-Nazi acts sweeping the country.

The center, which prepares kosher food for needy Jews, occupies the ground floor of a five-story residential building. There were no casualties.

President Jacques Chirac and other politicians were quick to issue statements condemning the attack and vowing to find and punish the perpetrators. Mayor Bertrand Delanoe, visited the site today and said he felt “shock and horror.”

Of course, when I say “lead the fight,” I mean “frown seriously and get back to tenaciously ignoring the problem.”

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Update

August 23rd, 2004 - 11:40 am

Bob Dole wasn’t the only victim of the Democrat’s anti-veteran attack machine — Jim Geraghty reveals they went after George H W Bush, too.

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And Now For Something Incompletely Different

August 23rd, 2004 - 11:37 am

‘Tis but a flesh wound!

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Digging Deeper

August 23rd, 2004 - 10:10 am

Jay Caruso looks at the John Kerry campaign and the 527s:

The New York Times hit piece on the Swift Boat Vets and their

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One Other Last Thing. . .

August 23rd, 2004 - 1:00 am

. . .and then I really am going to bed.

As an old radio guy who left the business before the computer-generated playlists took over completely, this story warms my snobby little heart.

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