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Monthly Archives: August 2005

Required Reading

August 31st, 2005 - 11:16 pm

Glenn Reynolds received an email from New Orleans.

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August 31st, 2005 - 10:41 pm

Andy, Zomby and I are working on a little something to centralize goods donations for the Denver/Colorado Springs area.

Look for details Thursday or Friday – and a great big ad on the top right corner of this blog.

UPDATE: We’re trying to rope former blogger Matt Traylor into being the point guy for the Fort Collins area. Now if we could get a volunteer to cover Pueblo, we’ll have the entire Front Range pretty well covered.


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Cheap Shot(s)

August 31st, 2005 - 10:11 pm


And now: the Storm and the Flood, which have inundated the Gulf Coast in deadly water. This is, literally, an invasion of the homeland, and it will require a warlike response from a nation and a military already stretched thin. National Guard officials insist that they have enough men and women on hand to do the job, but common sense tells you that they could use the others stationed abroad. The U.S. Navy is dispatching supply ships to the region, but battling the waters that cover the region will require many more resources.

That’s the usually-respectable Howard Fineman, writing for Newsweek. I guess Fineman’s complaint is, Bush wasn’t prescient enough to realize we’d need more troops at home to battle natural disasters.

Well, guess what: War is why we have armies. Most of the time, thankfully, we aren’t at war. So rather than keep the troops in their barracks or the ships at anchor when disaster strikes, we call on them to serve in a different manner. Fineman’s complain strikes me as just plain silly. I guess FDR would have taken a double-drubbing over Hitler’s 1944 Ardennes Offensive, had there been a big California earthquake in the Spring of 1945.

I mean, the Battle of the Bulge added an extra three or four months to the European Theater of War. Had FDR not screwreed things up so badly, those troops could have been waging peace in California instead of waging war in Europe.

Is there anyone left on the Left who hasn’t tried to make political hay out of Hurricane Katrina?

(Skippy excepted, of course.)

UPDATE: Cirby comments:

They’re deploying 20,000 National Guard troops across the whole disaster area.

The largest deployment in history.

If they decide to double that (not likely), it’s be up to 40,000.

Which means that they will have deployed about one-seventh of the National Guard soldiers left in the US after Iraq deployments.

You’d think that Howard Fineman, with all the resources of Newsweek/MSNBC/The Washington Post at his disposal, could have come up with those (ahem) sobering figures.

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August 31st, 2005 - 10:07 pm

Earlier, Will Collier wrote about the gas shortages in Georgia. They’re happening in North Carolina, too.

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Counting Up

August 31st, 2005 - 10:03 pm

$31 million and growing.

But we can do and give more.

RELATED: Skippy is daring bloggers everywhere to match his $100.01 contribution to the Red Cross. I’d already sent in $100-minus-the-extra penny when Skippy’s dare arrived in my inbox – so I sent’em another hundred.

Match that, buddy!

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August 31st, 2005 - 3:52 pm

Hurricane Katrina Survivors forum.

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Gas Panic

August 31st, 2005 - 2:43 pm

There is officially a gas panic underway in Georgia. Word arrived this morning that the major pipeline serving metro Atlanta was down because of Katrina (the pumps are in Louisiana, and have no power to run), and the radio has been buzzing all day with rumors that the city will be gas-less by the weekend.

Yesterday, unleaded at my neighborhood station was $2.48. At lunchtime today, it was up to $2.68. Four hours later–ten minutes ago–it was $2.98. A station a half-mile away was all the way up to $3.29. There are three stations on my route home from work. They all had long lines, the first actual gas lines I’ve seen since the 1970′s. I hear from a friend in Columbus that every station there cut off gas service at 4PM Eastern.

Is it a real shortage? Is it price-gouging? You got me. But I’m glad I topped off my tank during my lunch break.

UPDATE: Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue says,

“There’s no reason to panic. There’s plenty of gas on the way and the only way we’ll have problems locally is if we rush out and hoard,” the governor said during a Wednesday afternoon news conference. “Stay calm and conserve, don’t just run out to top off your tank. Just continue with normal fueling habits.”

Hurricane Katrina knocked out power to two pipelines that bring gas and jet fuel into the region. The lines have been down for two days while the Metro typically holds onto a 10-day supply of gasoline.

“That does affect our gas supply and it’s led to an increase in gas prices,” the governor said of the pipeline problem. “This is a temporary problem due to Hurricane Katrina and will be resolved soon. It is not a cause for alarm or panic. It is not a long-term situation.”

Governor Perdue said he contacted the state’s gas distributors Wednesday morning and has been assured that they are working to address the supply problem. He said that a significant amount of the state’s gas supplies are not affected because they arrive at the port, not by pipeline.

If he’s right, this is just a case of the station owners cashing in on a rampant rumor mill. If he’s wrong, it’s going to be a not-fun week in the ATL.

I hope he’s right–and if he is, you can bet the bank people are going to remember which stations raised prices the most, and the fastest.

MORE: Wow. Fox News just showed one BP station in Atlanta that’s charging $5.87 a gallon for regular unleaded, and $6.07 for premium. No way in hell that isn’t gouging. Nobody in town was much above $2.50 over the weekend.

MORE MORE: A friend “in the business” says Perdue is wrong, sort of:

The BP and Citgo terminals in Doraville, GA are out. Not allocated. Out. The Colonial pipeline is down and will be until tonight. They’re flying a generator in tonight and will have one of the pipelines operating sometime tonight. The other one won’t be operating for a couple of days. The problem is that it takes between eight (8) to twenty-one (21) days to get the fuel up the pipeline. Now the good news (if you want to call it that) is that there’s fuel available. But it won’t be cheap for the terminals or the state.

This is really a geographically controlled problem. Everybody west of the Mississippi is fine. Everybody north of Tennessee and North Carolina are fine. It’s just the Southeast. Most of our fuel comes out of New Orleans and now we’re going to have to get it from other places. Those other places are further away than New Orleans and that distance costs money. Diesel fuel is getting hit more than gasoline. So my earlier statement about the terminals being out was meant for the diesel fuel. For obvious political purposes, there won’t be a gasoline shortage. The truckers and machine operators on the other hand…

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Shoot To Kill

August 31st, 2005 - 5:01 am

We talk a lot about how disasters bring out the best in people, and that’s often true. Certainly it’s the case among the vast majority in Katrina’s wake today.

On the other hand, this particular disaster has also brought out the absolute scum of the earth, and given them free reign for a time:

Late Tuesday, Gov. Blanco spokeswoman Denise Bottcher described a disturbing scene unfolding in uptown New Orleans, where looters were trying to break into Children’s Hospital.

Bottcher said the director of the hospital fears for the safety of the staff and the 100 kids inside the hospital. The director said the hospital is locked, but that the looters were trying to break in and had gathered outside the facility.

The director has sought help from the police, but, due to rising flood waters, police have not been able to respond.

Bottcher said Blanco has been told of the situation and has informed the National Guard. However, Bottcher said, the National Guard has also been unable to respond.


[New Orleans City Council President Oliver Thomas] said looting has also escalated and an atmosphere of lawlessness has developed as police resources have been almost entirely devoted to search-and-rescue operations for people trapped by floodwaters on roofs and in attics. “Widespread looting is taking place in all parts of the city” – from uptown and Canal Street to areas around the housing projects, Thomas said.

“People are going in and out of businesses at Louisiana and Claiborne (avenues), taking clothes, tennis shoes and goods,” Thomas said. “It is inconceivable to me how people can do this.”

“People are leaving the Superdome to go to Canal Street to loot,” Thomas said. “Some people broke into drug stores and stole the drugs off the shelves. It is looting times five. I’m telling you, it’s like Sodom and Gomorrah.”

More unfortunately, at least some elements of the notoriously-corrupt New Orleans police force are getting in on the looting themselves:

At the Wal-Mart on Tchoupitoulas Street, an initial effort to hand out provisions to stranded citizens quickly disintegrated into mass looting. Authorities at the scene said bedlam erupted after the giveaway was announced over the radio.

While many people carried out food and essential supplies, others cleared out jewelry racks and carted out computers, TVs and appliances on handtrucks.

Some officers joined in taking whatever they could, including one New Orleans cop who loaded a shopping cart with a compact computer and a 27-inch flat screen television.

From New Orleans’ best columnist, Chris Rose, now one of over a million refugees on the road:

We had catfish and pulled pork in a barbeque joint in Natchez and the folks there – everyone we have met along our three-day journey

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Guilty Pleasures

August 30th, 2005 - 11:13 am

August. The slow news month. Makes February look interesting – well, almost.

There’s Huricane Katrina, sure. But other than writing a couple checks and sending off some dry goods, there wasn’t much to do from sunny Colorado Springs.

And the blog? Well, this is (was, nearly) the slow news month, so I’ve been catching up on reading. David McCullough’s 1776, the new one from Ralph Peters and Tom Friedman (and don’t they make a pair).

Just when I thought it was safe to blog again, I broke down and ordered a little something else from Amazon.

I’d seen Lileks rave about HBO’s Carnivale for a year or two, but missed it when it first aired. And that’s the problem with Appointment TV. Miss the first one, and you’re pretty much screwed until the DVDs come out. Oh, I could have TiVo’d the re-runs, but it’s not the same. Not the way HBO does drama. Until I get a TiVo that can record in Hi-Def, I’ll either watch HBO’s shows live, or buy the DVDs.

Long story (kind of) short: I’m hooked. Carnivale is all that and a bag of bearded ladies. Watched four episodes today, and I’m hoping to get in a fifth before bed.

NOTE: Kudos to HBO for packaging just two one-hour episodes per disc. It costs them a few pennies more to make and package, but allows 50-100% more bandwidth for enhanced picture quality. And it shows. Not even The Sopranos got that kind of royal treatment.

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August 30th, 2005 - 6:38 am

The aftermath of Hurricane Katrina is illustrating the dangers of opining with too little data. As the storm moved north yesterday, a number of commentators, both online and in the major media, were already starting to yowl that the pre-storm predictions of mass destruction were overblown and unwarranted. After all, they said, the thing went through New Orleans, and look–the city’s still there. There’s no ‘giant bowl of toxic gumbo’ (to paraphrase many, many comments). Heck, I can see the Superdome on CNN, and it’s beat up, but it’s not an island or anything!

With one of the major levees failing this morning, several parishes under water (few of which could be reached by people with cameras yesterday), an entirely unknown death toll, hundreds of people trapped by flooding, and untold devestation on the Mississippi and Alabama Gulf coasts, it’s starting to look like the instant post-storm criticism was itself premature.

The New Orleans Times-Picayune has, for the first time in its history, published an electronic-only edition today–a notably ironic achievement, since almost nobody in the city has electricity, much less internet access. It’s in .pdf format, and it’s heartbreaking.

Here’s similar coverage from the Biloxi Sun Herald.

UPDATE: After riding out the actual storm yesterday, the Times-Picayune staff is now evacuating their building in downtown New Orleans.

Tuesday, 9:40 a.m.

The Times-Picayune is evacuating it’s New Orleans building.

Water continues to rise around our building, as it is throughout the region. We want to evaucate our employees and families while we are still able to safely leave our building.

Our plan is to head across the Mississippi River on the Pontchartrain Expressway to the west bank of New Orleans and Jefferson Parish. From there, we’ll try to head to Houma.

Our plan, obviously, is to resume providing news to our readers ASAP. Please refer back to this site for continuing information as soon as we are able to provide it.

MORE: Just heard from a friend of mine that his sister’s family is evacuating Baton Rouge due to a rapid rise in the Mississippi River. The situation in New Orleans is deteriorating; this from WDSU’s hurricane blog:

11:04 a.m.: Looting Out Of Control
New Orleans police say looting is out of control in many parts of the city. Officials are focusing on the rescue effort, but a crackdown on looting is expected after the martial law declaration. — WDSU anchor Kriss Fairbairn

10:30 a.m.: Martial Law Declared New Orleans is under martial law, according to state officials. It could be weeks before displaced residents are allowed to return. — WDSU chief meteorologist Dan Milham

10:27 a.m.: Blanco Expects Death Toll To Be High
Gov. Kathleen Blanco said her office has not confirmed any deaths but expects the loss of life to be high. — WDSU chief meteorologist Dan Milham

10:25 a.m.: Superdome ‘Miserable’ The Superdome is filthy. Garbage bins are overflowing with trash and the bathrooms are filthy. In addition, the plumbing does not work. City officials say conditions are “miserable.” — WDSU chief meteorologist Dan Milham

10:21 a.m.: Water, Travel Conditions Poor Residents are urged to avoid drinking the water in New Orleans. It is not safe. The only way in and out of New Orleans is the Crescent City Connection. — WDSU chief meteorologist Dan Milham

10:20 a.m.: Twin Span Bridges Destroyed
The twin span bridges into east New Orleans have been destroyed [These are the bridges on Interstate 10 from Slidell/Gulfport; the only highway in or out of New Orleans is now I-10 on the west side. --WC]. It’s still not clear whether the entire bridges are destroyed or just sections of them. People are warned not to drive across any high-rise bridges. Their integrity may be compromised by the impact of the storm. — WDSU chief meteorologist Dan Milham

10:17 a.m.: Hospitals Face Dire Situations
New Orleans’ hospitals are facing even an even greater crisis. Tulane Medical Center said the water is rising quickly and could disable its emergency generator. Tulane is trying to evacuate and airlift all patients from its hospital and charity hospital. Ten hospitals in New Orleans are running on emergency generators. — WDSU chief meteorologist Dan Milham

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Blogging Under Fire

August 29th, 2005 - 9:29 am

… but hopefully not under water.

Here are a few “live” media weblogs from New Orleans and Biloxi, Mississippi. It’s riveting and harrowing stuff; hopefully all the the bloggers below are staying (relatively) dry and safe as Katrina does its worst:

New Orleans Times-Picayune

WDSU-TV (New Orleans)

Biloxi Sun Herald

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August 29th, 2005 - 12:21 am

Blogging hits Egypt, big-time.

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Late Night Rambling

August 28th, 2005 - 11:40 pm

I’m doing the same thing tonight most everyone else is

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Random Thought

August 28th, 2005 - 4:11 pm

“Act of God” is what the guy on CNN called Hurricane Katrina. To most of us, that means some random and unavoidable catastrophe. Once it’s over, we clean up, fix up, and move on.

But that’s not how others see an Act of God. To them, it’s Divine Retribution in the Old Testament sense. Or to be more accurate, in the Really New Testament sense – ie, the Koran. Those others see Hurricane Katrina as God smiting the wicked.

Well, guess what? We will clean up, fix up, and move on. And while we’ll rightfully mourn our dead, there won’t be very many of them.

Then imagine how many would die if that same Act of God hit a major city on the coast of, say, Pakistan. Thousands dead? Tens of thousands? More? And after, Americans would come in to help clean up, fix up, and move on.

I never believed in God, but I still sometimes think He/She/It must be on our side.

But – nah. We’re simply decent people who understand that an Act of God really is just some random, unavoidable tragedy. We lend it no special significance, and we’ll help clean up no matter who God smites.

In the meantime, if you do pray – now would be a good time to do so for the people still in Katrina’s path.

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Category Five

August 28th, 2005 - 9:06 am

The top winds in Hurricane Katrina are up to 175 miles an hour, the third-highest hurricane wind speed ever recorded. What’s worse, the storm is bearing down on arguably the most vulnerable spot in the continental United States, New Orleans.

The New Orleans Times-Picayune published a long series a few years back about what might happen if the city were hit by a major storm. Their analysis wasn’t pretty, and it should scare the hell out of anybody in the area (or anybody anywhere):

Georges, a Category 2 storm that only grazed New Orleans, had pushed waves to within a foot of the top of the levees. A stronger storm on a slightly different course — such as the path Georges was on just 16 hours before landfall — could have realized emergency officials’ worst-case scenario: hundreds of billions of gallons of lake water pouring over the levees into an area averaging 5 feet below sea level with no natural means of drainage.

That would turn the city and the east bank of Jefferson Parish into a lake as much as 30 feet deep, fouled with chemicals and waste from ruined septic systems, businesses and homes. Such a flood could trap hundreds of thousands of people in buildings and in vehicles. At the same time, high winds and tornadoes would tear at everything left standing. Between 25,000 and 100,000 people would die, said John Clizbe, national vice president for disaster services with the American Red Cross.

“A catastrophic hurricane represents 10 or 15 atomic bombs in terms of the energy it releases,” said Joseph Suhayda, a Louisiana State University engineer who is studying ways to limit hurricane damage in the New Orleans area. “Think about it. New York lost two big buildings. Multiply that by 10 or 20 or 30 in the area impacted and the people lost, and we know what could happen.”

An old boss of mine was a kid growing up in Jefferson Parish during Betsy (1965), when the local government broke the levee to save downtown New Orleans–flooding Jefferson Parish and tens of thousands of homes. He and his family had to be rescued from the roof of their house. This one could easily be much worse.

If you’re in the area, get out, and do it now. This is not just another hurricane that might turn away and hit Galveston or Mobile instead. You can’t afford to take that chance this time.

For everybody else, get ready to help. I don’t mean to be a harbinger of doom here, and I’m certainly hoping that Katrina fizzles out, a la Dennis, but there’s a very real possibility that this could be our tsunami.

UPDATE: Here’s the latest damage prediction from the National Weather Service. It’s very grim reading.


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Friday Recipe

August 24th, 2005 - 12:37 am

Yep, haven’t had time to blog. Then again, I’ve been having lots of fun with my new boss, Robert Bidinotto. Not only is he a sharp editor, but he somehow finds the time to hold my hand long enough to turn my first drafts into something readable. Cool.

Anyway, let’s get to the food.

Labor Day Chili

I’m sure there’s a way to make a small batch of this, but I’ll be damned if I know what it is.

You’ll need:

2 pounds ground beef.
1 pound ground buffalo.
2 white onions, diced.
1 large can (16oz) chopped tomatoes.
1 large can (ditto) pur

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August 23rd, 2005 - 5:10 pm

Internet access has been down all night, and has just now (11:45pm) come back.

Still, I’m going to bed.

UPDATE: Scratch that. I’ll go to bed in a minute, but not just yet. First, let’s get something out of the way:

Television evangelist Pat Robertson’s suggestion that American agents assassinate Venezuela President Hugo Ch

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Quick Take

August 23rd, 2005 - 1:31 am

Time magazine is already handicapping a hypothetical Clinton vs McCain presidential race.

Elsewhere in the MSM, Newsweek asks the question: “Should Steve shoot himself in the kneecap, or shove a flat-head screwdriver into his right eye?”

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This Won’t Be Pretty

August 22nd, 2005 - 4:36 pm

Remember the old “Night Flight” show on USA cable? Ran overnight Fridays and Saturdays, played a great deal of weird and wonderful stuff. One of their best recurring bits was a series of “alternative” animated shorts, and one of the funniest of those was titled, “Bambi Vs. Godzilla.”

The Gerald Ford Museum folks could do a lot worse than recycling that title for this debate:

Tribune Media Services columnists Victor Davis Hanson and Arianna Huffington will square off in a debate about whether the U.S. is “internationalist or imperial.”

Like the animated version, this matchup promised to be brutal, funny, and utterly one-sided. We can only hope C-SPAN picks it up (although it could well be R-rated for extreme intellectual evisceration).

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Back Later

August 17th, 2005 - 12:46 pm

A good friend’s sister died unexpectedly last night. Blogging hiatus until Monday.

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Too Late

August 16th, 2005 - 11:50 pm

Able Danger really did have the goods:

A military intelligence team repeatedly contacted the F.B.I. in 2000 to warn about the existence of an American-based terrorist cell that included the ringleader of the Sept. 11 attacks, according to a veteran Army intelligence officer who said he had now decided to risk his career by discussing the information publicly.

The officer, Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer, said military lawyers later blocked the team from sharing any of its information with the bureau.

Colonel Shaffer said in an interview on Monday night that the small, highly classified intelligence program, known as Able Danger, had identified the terrorist ringleader, Mohamed Atta, and three other future hijackers by name by mid-2000, and tried to arrange a meeting that summer with agents of the Washington field office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation to share its information.

But he said military lawyers forced members of the intelligence program to cancel three scheduled meetings with the F.B.I. at the last minute, which left the bureau without information that Colonel Shaffer said might have led to Mr. Atta and the other terrorists while the Sept. 11 attacks were still being planned.

Read the whole thing.

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As American as Buying Apple Pie on Credit

August 16th, 2005 - 11:25 pm

Robert Samuelson isn’t too worried about Americans’ seemingly-dismal savings rate:

The trouble with the official savings rate is that it excludes some items that people intuitively count as savings, notes Susan Sterne of Economic Analysis Associates. A big omission is the capital gains — aka profits — on housing or stocks, both realized (if you sell) or on paper (if you don’t). If your home or stocks increase $10,000, you may feel comfortable borrowing $4,000 to spend. You’ve still got an extra $6,000 in savings. But the savings statistics ignore these value changes; all they show is that you’ve saved less by spending another $4,000.

Over two decades, these value changes have soared. Lower interest rates — mainly reflecting lower inflation — have driven up stocks and home prices. Stocks became more appealing next to interest-bearing deposits; lower mortgage rates made higher home prices more affordable. From 1985 to March of this year, Americans’ mutual funds and stocks rose from $1.3 trillion to $10 trillion; over the same period, real estate values jumped from $4.6 trillion to $17.7 trillion. Once you consider these value changes, most Americans don’t look so irresponsible. Sure, they’ve borrowed heavily. But their net worth — what they own minus what they owe — continues to grow. Compared with income, it’s higher than in most years since 1950.

I know I’ve made some pretty gloomy economic predictions here on VodkaPundit. But “gloomy” isn’t how I’ve invested, and it certainly isn’t how I’ve spent. Is there an explanation for this discrepancy?

You bet there is: I’m American.

Going back to our Puritan roots, it’s all-too American to worry all too much about what our neighbors are doing. But going back also to our all-so American optimism, it’s all-American to behave as optimistically as circumstances warrant. We seem to enjoy spending as though everything will always get better, while worrying that the other guy is, too.

Those two attitudes are so ingrained into our characters, we often don’t recognize when they’re in conflict with one another.

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Required Reading

August 16th, 2005 - 11:17 pm

Frederick Kagan on the dangers of pulling out.

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Late Night Rambling

August 16th, 2005 - 11:14 pm

What’s Israel get for getting out of Gaza? Let’s take a look, but first let’s scratch off what Israel won’t get:

1. Increased respect from the international community.
2. Increased domestic security.
3. Increased domestic tranquility.

In fact, Israel will suffer a decrease in all three of those items.

Eventually, the international community will

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Bushwatch Day One

August 16th, 2005 - 10:27 pm

I demand a meeting with President Bush. I demand to know why we’re doing everything the Jooooooooos want us to do. I demand answers.

I demand it!

Does 3pm Thursday work for you, Mr. President? I have a dental appointment at 4pm, so keep those answers short.

I demand it!

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Tom Clancy Drool-Fest

August 16th, 2005 - 10:25 pm

The Marines and Navy SEALS finally hooked up – and the offspring is deadly.

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August 16th, 2005 - 10:07 pm

It’s Frank Martin’s blogiversary, and I’m at least partly to blame. So go read Frank’s latest, if only for this line:

John Kerry was to bloggers what Margaret Dumont was to the Marx Brothers.

“Heh,” as another famous blogfather likes to say.

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Book Talk

August 16th, 2005 - 12:23 am

Todd A, whose first novel I enjoyed so much, has a new one coming out before long.

It’s called Barry’s Cherries, and I can’t wait to read it.

UPDATE: Dammit, Todd, I tried to reply to your email twice and it keeps bouncing back. Your server hates me. Just hates me.

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What He Said

August 16th, 2005 - 12:13 am

Jeff Goldstein:

This delay is a setback for the Bush Administration, particularly on the PR front, but so long as the constitution gets done in such a way that equal rights for men and women are assured, Sharia law is not codified, and basic human rights for minorities are legally protected, I

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The Manchurian Mom

August 15th, 2005 - 11:44 pm

What I want to know is, who brainwashed Cindy Sheehan?

It’s one thing to want a policy changed, when that policy resulted in the death of your son. Obviously, I’ve never had to bury a child

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