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Monthly Archives: February 2005

More Later

February 22nd, 2005 - 8:27 am

This story sounds kind of cute and silly. . .

China wants more residents to visit key sites in the country’s revolutionary history in a “red tourism” campaign to instill faith in the communist leadership and boost development in rural areas, state media reported Tuesday.

Such sites include the bleak northern town of Yanan, the one-time civil war base of revolutionary leader Mao Zedong and his forces, and Xibaipo, a town southwest of Beijing where the party Central Committee met in 1949 on the eve of their victory.

. . .but it isn’t. I’ll explain why in a couple hours, when I have a bit more time.

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February 21st, 2005 - 10:21 pm

No evening updates tonight – I’m beat. Back bright and early Tuesday morning.

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Now, This Is Just Mean

February 21st, 2005 - 6:32 pm

George W. Bush, on Jacques Chriac:

Only months after he criticized countries “like France,” President Bush was lavish in his praise of French President Jacques Chirac, one of the sharpest critics of the U.S.-led war in Iraq.

“I’m looking for a good cowboy,” Bush said Monday when a French reporter asked him whether relations had improved to the point where the U.S. president would be inviting Chirac to the U.S. president’s ranch in Texas.

And the headline:

Bush Suggests Chirac Is ‘Good Cowboy’

I can’t imagine a more damaging sentence in the eyes of the French electorate.

Moral of the story: Don’t mess with GWB. He plays rough.

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Legalized Theft

February 21st, 2005 - 3:32 pm

I don’t normally do legalblogging, but I’ll keep my eye on this case:

WASHINGTON (CNN) — A fight by homeowners to save their New London, Connecticut, neighborhood from city officials and private developers — an important property rights case with an unusual twist — will reach the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday.

At issue is whether governments can forcibly seize homes and businesses, for private economic development. Under a practice known as eminent domain, a person’s property may be condemned and the land converted for a greater “public use.” It has traditionally been employed to eliminate slums, or to build highways, schools or other public works.

The New London case tests the muscle of local and state governments to raise what they see as much-needed revenue, which they argue serves a greater “public purpose.” Legal analysts said they see the case as having major implications nationwide in property rights and redevelopment issues.

I’ll make clearer what the story is trying to say. Eminent domain has been abused in recent years, as a way for politicians and developers to profit at the expense of home- and small business-owners – by way of legally forcing them off their land. Developers get what they want (prime property at cut-rate prices) by force of arms, and government gets what it wants (tax revenue) in exchange.

It’s got to be stopped.

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Don’t Touch That Penis

February 21st, 2005 - 2:33 pm

As if Vodkapundit doesn’t already provide you with enough links to severed penis stories, here’s one from Alaska:

ANCHORAGE — Police in Alaska say a woman upset about an impending break-up with her boyfriend cut off his penis and flushed it down a toilet.

Utility workers recovered the severed body part and surgeons reattached it.

The woman is charged with first-degree assault, domestic violence and tampering with evidence. She’s being held without bail pending arraignment Monday.

Hear that, ladies? If you’re planning on chopping off your man’s man-bits, don’t flush it down the toilet after. Otherwise, you could get charged with tampering with evidence. Now, if the toilet clogged would that be “obstruction of justice?”

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Next! II

February 21st, 2005 - 1:59 pm

Once Warmonger Bush is done turning Syria into (more of) a parking lot, Russia had better look out:

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – President Bush urged Europe on Monday to move past Iraq war divisions and work together to advance Middle East peace and put pressure on Russia to renew its commitment to democracy.

“Together we can once again set history on a hopeful course,” Bush said in a keynote speech in Brussels, home of the European Union and NATO, pledging to work in partnership with Europe in implicit contrast to the much-criticized go-it-alone thrust of his first term in office.

The speech, on the first day of a European tour, set the tone for his first trip to the continent since beginning his second term a month ago.

That’s right, chickenhawks, Bush is set to unleash the EU on Holy Mother Russia.

All kidding aside, applying moral pressure is exactly what the EU should be good at in foreign affairs. Let’s see if they can do any good in Moscow.

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February 21st, 2005 - 1:27 pm

President Bush, taking us down yet another fast lane on the road to war:

President Bush, in Brussels for the keynote speech of a trip to Europe, branded Syria an “oppressive neighbor” to Lebanon and insisted it “end its occupation.”

In Beirut, 15,000 Lebanese protesters echoed his message.

Chanting “Syria out,” they marched in protest at last week’s killing of former Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri in a bomb which Lebanon’s opposition blamed on Syria.

“The truth is, we can’t stand Syria,” they chanted.

The 25-nation European Union called for an international probe into Hariri’s death and underlined their support for a United Nations resolution calling for Syria to withdraw.

Oops. Did I say something about a rush to war? What I meant to say was, “generating international pressure and encouraging local opposition in order to end a multidecade occupation.”

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Marching Orders

February 21st, 2005 - 12:22 pm

Medienkritik is organizing a pro-Bush rally in the German city of Mainz Wednesday night. I’m curious to see what the turnout is like — not to mention the inevitable counterprotest.

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Spanish Flu II

February 21st, 2005 - 11:26 am

Barcepundit rounds up reaction to Spain’s EU Constitution referrendum.

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Be Careful What You Wish For

February 21st, 2005 - 11:16 am

About the secret Bush Tapes, Mickey Kaus says that “another round of explosive front-page revelations from secretly recorded phone conversations like today’s and Bush’s approval will hit 70 percent.”

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Who’s Winning the War?

February 21st, 2005 - 10:46 am

It’s hard to keep track of who’s who (and who’s dead) in al Qaeda without a scorecard. Need one? Well, here ya go.

Hat tip to StrategyPage, which sums things up like this:

Short version, al-Qaeda is on the run throughout most of the globe. Even Abu Musab Zarqawi, in charge of all al-Qaeda elements in Iraq, is on the run

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Nice Try

February 21st, 2005 - 10:40 am

President & CEO magazine has jumped on the let’s-pay-attention-finally-to-bloggers bandwagon. They’re now posting a monthly “Best of Blogs” feature. Good for them.

But a couple suggestions, guys:

1. Monthly? In the blogosphere cycle of life, a story can be hunted, dressed, prepared several different ways, eaten digested and returned to the soil… seventeen times. Just because a magazine is published monthly, doesn’t mean its blog feature can’t be (cheaply) updated more often.

2. Links! Provide the links!

That is all.

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“Free Mojtaba and Arash!”

February 21st, 2005 - 10:28 am

Two Iranian bloggers have been jailed – for being bloggers. You can help.

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Do As I Say, Not As I Link

February 21st, 2005 - 10:21 am

La Shawn Barber might have unlocked the mystery behind the dearth of female bloggers…

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Wowie for Howie

February 21st, 2005 - 9:46 am

Steve and I were both pretty tough on Howard Kurtz of the Washington Post and CNN a couple of weeks back, when Kurtz (along with everybody else in the major media) was studiously ignoring the Eason Jordan story. I still think that criticism was merited, and like Mickey Kaus, I think Kurtz really ought to recuse himself from stories involving CNN in the future.

All that said, I’d be a complete cad if I didn’t take this chance to thank Kurtz for noting VodkaPundit on CNN last week (the site was mentioned several times on Inside Politics’ week-long segments on blogs, first by Kurtz) and accurately quoting me today in a pretty good WaPo column about the impact of bloggers on the MSM.

(I apologize profusely for the title above this post, by the way. I should have resisted.)

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Spanish Flu

February 20th, 2005 - 11:30 pm


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How We Came to Get Another Blogger

February 20th, 2005 - 11:29 pm

Scott Burgess emailed me a week or two ago, and asked if I’d like to write something for his excellent blog.

Boy, would I.

But – I barely have time enough to keep up my own blog. So I countered his offer: “How’d you like to write whatever, whenever, for my blog?” Scott, obviously drunk, agreed.

So here’s the new deal on VodkaPundit.

Almost every day, except when I feel like taking off for a month without an explanation, I’ll be posting the usual assortment of oddball links, smart-ass remarks, and oooh-look-how-smart-I-think-I-am newspaper-type columns.

Will Collier, aerospace engineer, Auburn fan, and generally way-cool guy, will continue to do what he does. What Will does is pop in on occassion and demonstrate to the world that he’s a lot smarter and funnier than I am.

Scott Burgess, the American ex-pat in London, says he’ll post something on Fridays. Something smart and oh-so-slightly-inebriated about the State of the MSM in Britain. Of course, once he discovers I don’t care what he writes, how often he writes, or how much he links back to his own (excellent) blog… well, I think we’ll be seeing more of Scott around here. Which is a shame, because he’ll probably do the same thing to me Will does.

Anyway, welcome aboard, Scott. If yesterday’s post was any indication, you’re well on your way to showing me up for the half-assed blogger I’ve always been.

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Speedy Recovery

February 20th, 2005 - 11:09 pm

The Insta-Wife is undergoing surgery this morning. I hope all your thoughts and prayers are with the Reynolds family.

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Fear and Loathing in Aspen

February 20th, 2005 - 11:07 pm

Hunter S. Thompson has killed himself:

“On Feb. 20, Dr. Hunter S. Thompson took his life with a gunshot to the head at his fortified compound in Woody Creek, Colorado. The family will shortly provide more information about memorial service and media contacts. Hunter prized his privacy and we ask that his friends and admirers respect that privacy as well as that of his family,” Juan Thompson said in a statement released to the Aspen Daily News.

“Details and interviews may be forthcoming when the family has had the time to recover from the trauma of the tragedy,” Braudis said in an interview from Owl Farm, the rural Woody Creek home he moved into in the 1960s.

Whatever demons caused Thompson to kill himself were, I think, the same demons which made him one of America’s most compelling and iconoclastic writers. He’ll be missed.

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Watching the Watchers

February 20th, 2005 - 11:04 pm

For a guy who usually paints himself as an old fuddy-duddy, John Leo certainly understands what blogging is about. Weighing in on the Eason Jordan affair, Leo writes:

Why some in mainstream media keep depicting bloggers as inaccurate is a mystery. In the blogs I follow, accuracy is crucially important, and errors have to be admitted quickly, usually on the day of the mistake. Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit.com suggests that mainstream media might want to hire some bloggers to check their stories before publication. This is a cheeky but polite reminder that bloggers are in the checking business, and big media should get used to someone looking over their shoulder.

Hiring bloggers to vet stories is a delightfully cheeky suggestion, but not a very workable one. No single blogger is going to be less biased or be any less prone to error than any single reporter – or even any single news story. Hiring an in-house blogger, or even a team of them, isn’t likely to do much good.

So how about a less cheeky (I am sometimes capable of that, you know) but more workable solution?

Blogs, as the MSM are belatedly discovering, already parse damn near every news story for inaccuracies, bias, outright untruths, etc. If the story is big enough, then blogs can eventually force some kind of change. The change can be something as miniscule and ineffective as a Corrections notice on page A17, all the way up to a firing/forced resignation. The way things work now, news consumers (a definition not including reporters and bloggers) are left out of the loop. Most of the good stuff happens when they’re not looking, since only a small fraction of Americans read blogs. The first most people heard of the Jordan Affair was when it was over.

Glenn’s idea, at least as presented by Leo, isn’t much of an improvement. In-house bloggers would act as — what? An extra layer of editorial staff? Yet another ineffective ombudsman? Would-be reformers to be bought out and co-opted by the system? Look at most existing in-house MSM blogs, and tell me again why they’re a good idea.

With all that in mind, here at long last is my not-so-cheeky idea: Dedicate news space in either Section A or on the op-ed page (or both) to bloggers, and link to bloggers on the web.

Dallas News is already doing something like the first part, with an occasional “Best of the Blogs” op-ed feature. And their in-house blog is actually pretty good. For print editions, that’s a pretty good start.

E-editions of newspapers and magazines should throw some money Technorati‘s way, and come up with some simple RSS or HTML code to include at the bottom of every story or article. The code would provide links, in real time, to what bloggers are saying about what the paper has published. The Technorati Solution is editor-free

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History Repeating Itself?

February 20th, 2005 - 10:09 pm

The UN’s High Commissioner for Refugees has stepped down:

In a bitterly worded resignation letter, Mr [Ruud] Lubbers suggested the UN secretary-general had bowed to media pressure amid a number of scandals including the alleged mismanagement of the oil-for-food programme in Iraq.

“Now, in the middle of a series of problems and with ongoing media pressure, you apparently view this [matter] differently”, he wrote. “Despite all my loyalty, insult has now been added to injury and therefore I resign as high commissioner.”

This news reminds me of Richard Nixon throwing Vice President Spiro Agnew to the hounds during Watergate. Agnew’s resignation gave Nixon some temporary relief, but in the end Dick still got what he deserved.

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February 20th, 2005 - 8:45 pm

More bad news for German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder’s SPD/Greens coalition:

Germany’s governing red-green coalition today (Feb 20) suffered another defeat in regional elections: combined results of social democrats and the green party reached a meager 45 % in Schleswig-Holstein, a loss of 4,5 % compared to the 2000 elections.

At this time – 8.30 pm – it looks like the conservative christian democrats and the free democrats will form the new government with 35 seats, against 34 seats of social democrats, greens and the Danish minority party. All major tv channels project this result.

There might still be minor corrections as the evening progresses – but there will definitely be no longer a majority red-green government in Schleswig-Holstein. The last and only chance of the social democrats and the green party is to form a minority government, based on the support of the Danish party, but this looks quite unlikely.

That leaves on the regional level just one pure red-green government – in North-Rhine Westfalia.

Elections in North-Rhine Westfalia are scheduled for May 2005. A defeat in these elections would most likely mean the end of the government of chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and foreign minister Joschka Fischer.

Anyone got a hanky?

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Greetings – New Poster

February 20th, 2005 - 9:48 am

Greetings VodkaPundit readers – I’m Scott Burgess, the American proprietor of The Daily Ablution, a London-based blog primarily devoted to UK media criticism. Mr. Green has most kindly granted me VP posting privileges, which I’ve decided to use as a weekend spot, mostly covering British press coverage of items discussed on VP that week.

By way of introduction, I’ll devote this week to some background observations about the British press and UK media blogging.


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Required Reading

February 19th, 2005 - 11:40 am

David Brooks:

There’s going to be another Ross Perot, and this time he’s going to be younger. There’s going to be a millionaire rising out of the country somewhere and he (or she) is going to lead a movement of people who are worried about federal deficits, who are offended by the horrendous burden seniors are placing on the young and who are disgusted by a legislative process that sometimes suggests that the government has lost all capacity for self-control.

He’s going to be set off by some event like what is happening right now with the Medicare prescription drug benefit. He’s going to look at an event like that one, and he’s not only going to be worried about the country’s economic future – he’s also going to be morally offended. He’s going to sense that something fundamentally decadent is going on.

And he’s going to be right.

And unlike Perot, hopefully he’ll be sane. Anyway, read the whole thing.

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Making it Big in Britain

February 19th, 2005 - 11:11 am

Will Collier, call your agent.

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Media Bias Update

February 19th, 2005 - 10:43 am

CNN’s Jeff Greenfield: It’s the fault of blogs.


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Local News

February 19th, 2005 - 9:45 am

There has got to be something wrong with you, when even a university’s communications department is wary of you:

BOULDER – Ward Churchill was rejected by two University of Colorado departments in 1991 before the communication department agreed to give him tenure.Even in the communication department, the chairman-elect was “uncomfortable” with the decision, according to documents released Friday by CU.

At the time, CU officials were shopping for a department that would accept Churchill, fearing they would lose him to another university.

Forget what it says about Ward Churchill, that he had to be shopped around before finding some place to take him.

Instead, ask yourself what it says about CU-Boulder, that

“Ward’s file was circulated to sociology and political science, and they did not agree to roster him in their departments,” Pacanowsky wrote in an e-mail dated Jan. 10, 1991. “Because Ward’s graduate degree, an MA, was in communications, we were contacted next.”

Pacanowsky goes on to say that Churchill’s work was not “mainstream in our discipline,” but by appointing Churchill, the department would be “making our own contribution to increasing the cultural diversity on campus (Ward is a native American).”

In other words, even the lowly communications department took Churchill in mostly because of his ethnicity. Of course, like much of his work, Churchill’s ethnic claims are questionable, too.

UPDATE: Related news.

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Move a Little Closer

February 19th, 2005 - 9:33 am

President Bush has caused the United States has become so isolated in the world that

Japan was expected to align itself more closely Saturday with U.S. concerns that China’s military buildup across from Taiwan is a risk to stability in the region, a U.S. official said.

The joint statement expected after Japan’s defense and foreign ministers meet with their U.S. counterparts in Washington reflects heightened worries in the region over China’s growing military.

Unlike the United States, which has sworn to defend Taiwan, Japan was not expected to offer military or logistical aid if China attacks the island it regards as a renegade province.

But Japan’s public statement expressing concern the China-Taiwan tensions be resolved peacefully would be unusual for a country whose constitution restricts its role in international security issues, the State Department official said on condition of anonymity.

“It’s diplomatically significant. Militarily and politically nothing changes. But the fact that Japan, which does not like to talk about security issues beyond its borders, is part of the statement reflects our concern and the concern in the region that China-Taiwan is a hot-button issue,” the official said.

Isolation, Schmisolation. Nations act in their own interests. Germany and France and Russia currently think it’s in their interest to try to stymie us in Iraq. Japan thinks it’s their interest to cooperate more closely on Taiwan.

Neither stance has much to do with who sits in the Oval Office.

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The Truth is Out There

February 18th, 2005 - 6:52 pm

Waaaaay out there.

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Religion of Peace

February 17th, 2005 - 11:20 pm

Here’s a big update on the search for the killers of the Coptic Christian family murdered in New Jersey last month.

HINT: It might have been religiously-motivated.

(Hat tip, the invaluable Tom Pechinski.)

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