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Monthly Archives: February 2005

Can You Draw Winky?

February 25th, 2005 - 11:27 am

Ward Churchill probably couldn’t.

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Take Two

February 25th, 2005 - 11:24 am

It’s one thing when Germany’s Der Spiegel publishes a “Could Bush Be Right?” op-ed.

But two in one week? Read:

But Bush, for all his diplomatic bumbling prior to and even since the Iraq war (and including his faux pas on Wednesday night when he neglected to take off his gloves when greeting his Slovakian hosts), is not shy about confronting Putin when he sees a problem. Furthermore, he does so publicly, making it much more difficult for Putin to return to business as usual. Indeed, the cheery press conference — while to be expected — was all the more interesting for the clear disagreements separating the two leaders and the direct way Bush addressed those differences. Diplomacy, Bush seemed to be saying, can — and perhaps should — work like a friendship. Tell your friend when you think he or she is straying. But at the same time, show your commitment to the foundation of the relationship.

Chancellor Schroeder should take the lesson to heart.

Tipping point, anyone?

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Friday Recipe

February 25th, 2005 - 11:19 am

I never learned how to make a proper veal piccata until recently. Garlic, butter, white wine, lemon, capers – how tough could it be? Not very. My wing-it version was pretty tasty.

Now it’s better.

Best Damn Veal Piccata Ever

We’re going to make this for two people, because there’s something romantic about eating baby animal flesh that’s been pounded really thin.

You’ll need:

3 or 4 slices (12-16 ounces) veal scaloppini. (Yes, you could use chicken breasts. But why?)
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil.
1/2 cup veal stock. (Expensive, hard to find, and so worth it. Just use chicken stock or broth if you don’t want the bother.)
1/2 cup dry sherry. That’s right – dry sherry.
Juice of one lemon, or 1.5 if it isn’t very ripe.
3 cloves garlic, pressed or minced.
3 tablespoons capers, drained.
3 tablespoons butter.
Some fresh parsley, chopped.
Some lemon zest.
Some flour.
Some fresh grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.
Salt & pepper.

Pat the veal dry, and dredge it in flour seasoned with salt & pepper. Turn the oven on “warm” and have a baking sheet handy.

In a large skillet, bring the olive oil and 1/3rd of the butter to medium-high heat. (The butter isn’t part of the classic recipe, but I find it helps brown the veal better.) Brown the veal for about one minute or so on each side, turning once. Place on the baking sheet and stick in the oven.

Drain the oil out of the pan, and return to the stove. Saut

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S’Yeah Right

February 24th, 2005 - 9:40 pm

What, you expected fresh blogging the same night Season 3 of Curb Your Enthusiasm arrived?

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Let the Games Begin

February 24th, 2005 - 2:30 pm

Larry Sabato has four questions about what the Democrats will do between now and Campaign Naught-Eight:

…help themselves by nominating the candidate most likely to win, or will they insist on ideological purity?

…choose a person with broad popular appeal, or pick a controversial standard-bearer? …broaden their base, or merely attempt to produce the highest turnout possible among liberal constituency groups, a tactic that failed in 2004?

…find a nominee fully able to compete with a Republican on national security, or simply hope to skate by on this greatest of all issue-clusters in the current age of terrorism?

…make any compromises on the hot-button social and cultural issues (abortion, gay rights, gun control, the death penalty), thereby allowing themselves to compete in some red Republican territory, or will they once again just set out to thrill the bluest of their blue state supporters?

Good questions, and as always, fun to watch play out. Of course, there’s also this:

Believe it or not, we are nearly four months into the 48 month 2008 campaign–and a mere 35 months away from the start of the primary nomination season.

I need a drink.

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New (to Me) Blogs

February 24th, 2005 - 2:26 pm

Tell me again why I haven’t already linked to this guy.

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Required Reading

February 24th, 2005 - 12:45 pm

Tom Friedman.

I started – twice – to write about the dangers of a disorderly decline in the dollar, and what events might trigger it. Friedman today has said a lot of what I wanted to say, although he’s left out some important bits, too.

Read it anyway, and maybe I’ll get to finishing my little essay.

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Cheap Shot

February 24th, 2005 - 12:19 pm

The Palestinian Authority has a new cabinet:

RAMALLAH, West Bank, Feb. 24 – The Palestinian Parliament overwhelmingly approved a new cabinet composed mainly of professionals rather than politicians today, ending days of crisis and marking a break with the Yasir Arafat era.

All but 7 of the 24 cabinet members were newcomers, many of them specialists with doctorates in fields as diverse as education, electrical engineering and economics.

What, they aren’t all lawyers? Sounds like we could learn a thing or two from the PA.

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Expand Your Blogsurfing

February 24th, 2005 - 11:02 am

Here’s a fable of love, foxes, and bones picked clean.

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Blogging Haiku

February 24th, 2005 - 10:39 am

Go read this link now
News there for frowns or smiles
Then something witty


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News Summary

February 24th, 2005 - 10:27 am

OK, so the Pope is sick again. What’s a non-Catholic supposed to write about that — a pre-post-mortem? Much as I admire the man for his moral stance against Communism, I despise his moral collapse when it came to covering up molestation in his own church. There ya go.

Think the next two stories are related? First, from the CSM:

“The shooting war is over, but … we’re engaged in a cultural war for the heart and soul of the South and for America, too,” says William Lathem, spokesman for the Southern Heritage PAC in Atlanta.

Second, from WOAI News:

From a newly established ‘capitol’ in the east Texas town of Overton, Daniel Miller, President of the Republic of Texas Interim Government, says a desire to be free, combined with ballooning concerns over rising taxes and property rights, will convince more Texans to support a ‘referendum’ on whether Texas should become an independent nation.

Mmmmm, could be.

It seems like Vlad the Bad is still a man we can do business with:

Russia and the United States signed a deal Thursday to control the spread of portable anti-aircraft missiles — a hot stock for militants around the world and a growing threat to civilian aircraft.

Washington has expressed worry over reports of planned sales of such Russian missiles to Syria.

Typing in your pajamas is a jailable offense:

An Iranian blogger accused of spying and counter-revolutionary activities has been jailed for 14 years. Newspaper editor Arash Sigarchi – whose blog criticised an Iranian crackdown on similar websites which has resulted in around 20 arrests – was himself cuffed in January on charges of “espionage, insulting the founder of Iran’s Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomenei, and current Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei”, the BBC reports.

One of these days, some dictator is going to drop all the pretense about the how distributing publically-available information is somehow akin to spying, and just tell the world, “Fuck it. We jail and kill people because we can.”

An iPod Photo for $350? That’s going on my Amazon Wish List.

There are no blacks on the Michael Jackson jury? What’s the big deal? It’s not like there’s a black man on trial. Next, someone will be upset because there aren’t enough men on the panel.

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February 24th, 2005 - 9:07 am

Is this a slow news day, or what? It’s going to take me at least another cup of coffee to come up with anything interesting.

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February 23rd, 2005 - 10:46 pm

Another busy day and busy night – back in the morning.

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Scapegoating at CBS?

February 23rd, 2005 - 12:22 pm

Pretty damning stuff from the New York Observer:

But whatever breaches of journalistic procedure Ms. Mapes may have committed, CBS News still hasn

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Evil Mastermind, Inc.

February 23rd, 2005 - 11:14 am

There goes Tim Blair, making the rest of us look really lame in comparison.

(Hat tip, Will Collier.)

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For Want of a Nail

February 23rd, 2005 - 11:08 am

Just how did things in Lebanon go from oh-so-bad to maybe-someday-really-really good, so quickly?

In no small part because of a car accident eleven years ago.

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Now, This Is Just Mean II

February 23rd, 2005 - 10:13 am

Orrin Judd:

Indeed, the most successful conservative presidents — Calvin Coolidge, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Ronald Reagan, and George W. Bush — have played up the notion of their own stupidity or at least not fought it very hard. Democratic presidents, on the other hand, have ostentatiously surrounded themselves with Brain Trusts and the Best and the Brightest; played up their ties to Harvard and Rhodes Scholarships; and even, in the case of Jimmy Carter, inflated their resumes to the point of claiming to be a nuclear physicist [5]. However, the tactical and strategic blunders of the Democratic Party over the last few years have been so spectacular that it may be time to reconsider the intellectual wattage of the respective parties.


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February 23rd, 2005 - 9:59 am

As noted by many others, today’s must-read is David Ignatius’ WaPo column. The oft-quoted jaw-dropper:

“It’s strange for me to say it, but this process of change has started because of the American invasion of Iraq,” explains Jumblatt. “I was cynical about Iraq. But when I saw the Iraqi people voting three weeks ago, 8 million of them, it was the start of a new Arab world.” Jumblatt says this spark of democratic revolt is spreading. “The Syrian people, the Egyptian people, all say that something is changing. The Berlin Wall has fallen. We can see it.”

The speaker, Walid Jumlatt, was up until quite recently a major purveyor of anti-American Arabist conspiracy theorizing, which makes his current stance and statements all the more exhilirating. If we can reach people who used to say stuff like this, there’s more than hope: there’s fundamental progress.

I’m extremely encouraged by the non-sectarian nature of the Lebanese protests. These don’t strike me as the kind of people who’d look at Iran’s mullocracy and say, “Yep, we’d like to have that here.” Lebanon was at one time by far the most tolerant and pluralistic Arab nation on the planet, as well as the only Arab country with something like a functional democracy. If there are enough Lebanese left who remember those days, and want them back…

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Required Listening

February 22nd, 2005 - 11:41 pm

Lileks promised us “something big” today — and, boy, did he deliver.

NOTE: I used to work in radio. Just because my own talents were too meager to take me very far in the business, doesn’t mean I don’t know good radio when I hear it. And this is good radio.

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Too Little, Too Soon?

February 22nd, 2005 - 11:25 pm

Robert Samuelson explains why I’m still not sold on Bush’s Social Security reform plan:

Bush hasn’t yet offered a detailed proposal, but he is expected to build on “Plan 2″ of the President’s Commission to Strengthen Social Security, issued in December 2001. Workers could divert as much as $1,000 annually of their payroll taxes into “personal accounts” invested in stocks and bonds. Now, the CBO has evaluated Plan 2. In 2025 Plan 2 would reduce projected Social Security spending from 5.71 percent of gross domestic product to 5.27 percent of GDP, the agency estimates. This is a trivial cut of the combined spending of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. The effects of switching to personal accounts and diminishing “traditional” Social Security benefits are gradual. Indeed, because Bush plans to borrow to pay for personal accounts, his plan would probably raise federal spending in 2025.

Judged by this arithmetic, Bush’s Social Security program is a hoax. He’s claiming to make Social Security sustainable. In 40 to 50 years, Bush’s approach might work. But in the next 25 years — when the real budget problem occurs — it does little. Bush wants it both ways: He wants to appeal to younger voters by offering personal accounts; and he doesn’t want to offend older voters (including baby boomers) by cutting their benefits. This may be smart politics, but it’s lousy policy.

Really, I should be easy to sell on SS reform. Easy like a lonely drunk girl at last call. I understand that in its current form, SS can’t meet its promises. I understand that private accounts would increase Americans’ dismal savings rate. I understand that private accounts mean inheritable wealth, something too few Americans enjoy.

And as a libertarian crank, I understand that me having control over more of my money is just plain right.

But I’m not some lonely drunk girl; I’m a drunk guy with a serious (and quite personal) interest in the financial health of this nation. From what we’ve seen, however, Bush isn’t serious enough.

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Bloggers? He Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Bloggers

February 22nd, 2005 - 11:09 pm

Pejman Yousefzadeh on the blogosphere and the Jordan Affair:

Bloggers neither “lynched” Jordan nor prevented him from a fair hearing in which he could have cleared his name and cleared up the situation surrounding him. It is certainly possible for any individual or group of individuals to abuse whatever power they have access to, and the Blogosphere is not immune from this danger. But there is scant evidence at best to suggest that bloggers abused their power when it came to EasonGate. Bloggers did not cause the downfall of Eason Jordan. Eason Jordan did that all by himself.

Read the whole thing.

Incidentally, the always-excellent Tech Central Station is celebrating its fifth anniversary today. In internet years, that makes it as old as… uh, me, I think.

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Required Reading/Viewing

February 22nd, 2005 - 10:40 pm

Nick Kristof has seen the genocide in Darfur, and has the pictures to prove it. The text is equally moving:

These are just four photos in a secret archive of thousands of photos and reports that document the genocide under way in Darfur. The materials were gathered by African Union monitors, who are just about the only people able to travel widely in that part of Sudan.

This African Union archive is classified, but it was shared with me by someone who believes that Americans will be stirred if they can see the consequences of their complacency.

The photo at the upper left was taken in the village of Hamada on Jan. 15, right after a Sudanese government-backed militia, the janjaweed, attacked it and killed 107 people. One of them was this little boy. I’m not showing the photo of his older brother, about 5 years old, who lay beside him because the brother had been beaten so badly that nothing was left of his face. And alongside the two boys was the corpse of their mother.

Whatever happened to “never again?”

The US, to be taken seriously when we speak of equal rights in the Arab world, must do more.

Germany, the country responsible for industrialized genocide, needs to lead the moral charge.

The French, who can’t stop mucking about in West Africa, should meddle someplace where they might do a little good.

Britain, former co-administrator (with Egypt) of Sudan, has enough local expertise to help.

The UN needs to lead, follow, or get out of the way.

And Arabs, the ones most responsible for this racist war, need to be treated more like responsible grownups by the West, and less like wogs who just don’t know any better.

UPDATE: Related stuff from Claudia Rosett.

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Conspiracy Theory

February 22nd, 2005 - 8:51 pm

Rusty Shackleford has some questions:

Could Ahmed Omar Abu Ali, the man accused of being involved in an al Qaeda plot to assassinate President Bush be simply following the dictates of a conscience tempered by a radical Islamic education in suburban Virginia?

Was the Saudi government reluctant to press charges against Abu Ali because his father was a diplomat?

Was the Saudi government so slow in turning the suspected al Qaeda member over to American authorities for so long because of the embarassing connections between the Embassy, the school, and the House of Saud?

Just the musings of a pajama-clad nutcase, working without the benefit of facts? Hardly. Rusty did a little research into Ahmed Omar Abu Ali and his Saudi connections:

While an American citizen by birth, his father Omar Abu Ali is a naturalized US citizen but works as a systems analyst at the Royal Saudi Arabian Embassy in Washington, DC. Further, the web page of the school attended by Ahmed Omar Abu Ali indicates that admissions priority is given to the children of Saudi diplomats (h/t: Kevin Aylward).

Click on over and read the whole thing. I’m especially interested to see if the Saudi Embassy responds to Rusty’s written questions to them.

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Blogs vs the MSM – Another Round, Anyone?

February 22nd, 2005 - 8:02 pm

I’m not sure Ted Rall is the kind of company Steve Lovelady wants to keep:

Borg-like, the various right-wing blogs simultaneously discuss the same stories, applying identical rhetoric. They create blacklists and urge their readers and fellow bloggers to threaten and harass their targets. Surfing this cheesy world of flag-draped neo-McCarthyite HTML makes it impossible to deny Columbia Journalism Review writer Steve Lovelady’s conclusion that most are “salivating morons” who form an ideological “lynch mob.” Worse, many of the right-wing bloggers are flat-out liars.

Of course, we’re still awaiting the construction of that Afghan oil pipeline to prove Ted Rall is no liar.

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The headline says it all, don’t you think? Anyway, click over and lend Jeff Goldstein a hand. He’s earned it.

UPDATE: The headline, which I cribbed from Jeff, has been corrected. His computer is so old, it doesn’t even have SpellCheck.

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Required Reading/Self-Fisking

February 22nd, 2005 - 1:28 pm

Martin Kettle’s Guardian column on the Bush/EU rapprochement has some solid reporting and analysis, making it today’s Required Reading. But it also contains this whopper of a paragraph:

Much of this is summed up in the current transitional fluidity over the politics of Iraq. The war was a reckless, provocative, dangerous, lawless piece of unilateral arrogance. But it has nevertheless brought forth a desirable outcome which would not have been achieved at all, or so quickly, by the means that the critics advocated, right though they were in most respects.

So – war critics were right, even though the means they desired would have led to bad ends. And the warmongers were wrong, even though their means have brought about a “desirable outcome.”

Some days, you just can’t win.

UPDATE: Mark Steyn’s angle is – no shock here – a bit different:

But, in the broader sense vis-

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Late Night Rambling, Midday Edition

February 22nd, 2005 - 11:38 am

Earlier today, I linked to this story from China, with the promise I

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Give In to the Geek Side

February 22nd, 2005 - 11:05 am

Must-see TV?

Might there be something in those rumours about Mark Hamill strapping on the saber holster again for a “Star Wars” TV series?

IESB caught up with the actor – forever known as Luke Skywalker – at the DVD Exclusive Awards, who hinted that, yes, there might well be a “Star Wars” TV series in the works (Guess it’s safe to say then that I’ve spoke to some official troopers who’ve also confirmed it – but were hoping the news would stay under lock-and-key for a spell) and that there’s always a possibility that an aged Luke Skywalker might make an appearance.

“Never Say Never”, Hamill cheekily tells the site, stressing that “He hasn’t heard anything officially about it”, though.

I’m trying so hard right now not to get too excited about what is essentially just a rumor. But with the return to quality of Enterprise this season, and that oh-so-great “reimagining” of Battlestar Galactica on the air… well, it’s hard for a part-time sci-fi geek not to drool in anticipation of yet another quality show.

And even if it sucks, it’d still be Star Wars.

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Free Mojtaba and Arash Day

February 22nd, 2005 - 10:24 am

More on the jailed Iranian bloggers:

TEHRAN, Feb. 22 (UPI) — A newly-formed Internet bloggers group is urging its members around the world to seek the release of two imprisoned Iranian bloggers.

The Committee to Protect Bloggers is asking those with blogs — or Web logs — to dedicate their sites Tuesday to the “Free Mojtaba and Arash Day,” reports the BBC.

The call is in support of Arash Sigarchi and Mojtaba Saminejad, who are imprisoned in Iran. Iranian authorities are clamping down on blogs, which are free sites through which people publish thoughts and opinions.

The group has a list of actions it says bloggers can take, including saying nothing on a blog except ‘Free Mojtaba and Arash Day’

“That would mean you could see that phrase 7.1 million times. That alone will shine some light on the situation,” says the group. “If you don’t have one, find one dedicated to that — it takes about 30 seconds.”

Can a few thousand blogs change the policies of the world’s most dangerous therocrats? I doubt it – but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth trying.

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V-A Day?

February 22nd, 2005 - 10:06 am

Will Collier forwarded this story, asking “Is the Afghan War over?” Maybe:

One of the Taliban’s most senior and charismatic commanders has become a key negotiator as more and more members of the Islamic militia in Afghanistan give up the fight against the Americans.

The commander, Abdul Salam, earned the nickname Mullah Rockety because he was so accurate with rocket propelled grenades against Russian troops.

He later joined the Taliban as a corps commander in Jalalabad before being captured by the Americans after September 11.

Now he is a supporter of President Hamid Karzai and is tempting diehard Taliban fighters to accept an amnesty offer and reconcile themselves to Afghanistan’s first directly elected leader.

“The Taliban has lost its morale,” he said, speaking by satellite phone from the heartlands of Zabul province, a Taliban redoubt.

“But you have to go and find the Taliban and call to them and ask them directly. If they believe they will be secure and safe they will come down from the mountains.”

After the Taliban’s three-year struggle against a superior US force, there is growing optimism among the Americans and Afghan government that the end is close.

Afghanistan isn’t going to become Vermont (or even New Jersey) any time soon, but there’s no way to paint this story as anything but good news.

Not that some won’t try.

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