Monday, September 27, 2004

Wait, I'm Confused...

... conservatives for innovation?

Conservative Group Says Induce Act "Crushes Innovation"

The nation's oldest conservative group has become the latest and most vocal critic of an anti-file-swapping bill that foes say could target products like Apple Computer's iPod. The American Conservative Union (ACU), which holds influential Republican activists and former senators on its board of directors, is running newspaper and magazine advertisements that take a humorous jab at the so-called Induce Act -- and slams some conservative politicians for supporting it.

(Source: CNET


Internet Sex, Internet Anti-Sex

Liberals may be 'out of touch,' but at least they're constitutional!

California to Post Information About Sex Offenders Online

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a law that would post information on sex offenders on the Internet, giving Californians easier access to details on violators. Under the legislation, the home address, name, photo and other details of sex offenders will be posted online.

(Source: Reuters)

See For Yourself

James Fallows has recently argued that Dubya's debating style has changed dramatically (all the while retaining its punchiness and vitality) in the last 10 years. See for yourself tonight when C-Span airs his debate with Ann Richards from the 1994 Texas gubernatorial race.

Friday, September 24, 2004

Irony on Hyperdrive!

Robert Musil goes on and on about the Isikoff/Hosenball Newsweek piece about the story that the Killian memo story DISPLACED, concluding that:

CBS News is "collaborating" with Josh Marshall to create Sixty Minute items. Isn't that nice. Given Mr. Marshall's comment above, his many personal agendas and his known degree of ability to maintain political objectivity, perhaps CBS News was actually fortunate that Mr. Marshall's item was displaced by that of Ms. Mapes.

Now that Mary Mapes is to be disintegrated for perpetrating a disastrous story from the depths of her uncontrolled hyper-partisan agenda there should be an opening for a permanent news producer on Sixty Minutes II. Maybe Mr. Marshall can fill that slot as a kind of funhouse mirror image of Mary Mapes? In fact, if Mr. Rather has to go, too, there might be an even bigger opportunity here for Mr. Marshall. Talk about funhouses!

Wow, somebody hates Josh Marshall! I enjoy the forged-documents-displaces-forged-documents irony, period.

Guess I'm just a dupe of the hysterical hyper-partisans over at the CBS politburo -- though I thought only the French made earnest use of the prefix 'hyper'...


Then and Now

Arnold -- a latter-day, cigar-smoking Noah?

The Vanilla Thrillah -- Covered in Ivy!

A Yale conference (now going on) for the ages: "Regarding Michael Jackson: Performing Racial, Gender and Sexual Difference Center Stage." Some papers being presented: "Feeling Like a Woman, Looking Like a Man: Michael Jackson, Grace Jones, and the Transgendered Erotics of Voice"; "Call Me Kiki: Little Ricky Martin, Menudo, and the Legacies of Little MichaelJackson, 1983-1989"; "Michael Jackson the King of Melodrama: Innocent until proven Guilty."

Innocent until proven guilty -- a good rule of thumb for academic theories, too.


A House Divided

The number-two man in the State Department and the number-one in Defense can't seem to agree. Is this just bureaucratic stove-piping or a real spat? From the AP:

That's One Way To Do It...

Ireland to Block Calls to Some Countries to Fight Net Fraud
Ireland has become the first country on earth to cut off direct-dialed calls to entire nations in a bid to crack down on Internet-based fraud. The crackdown will block calls to 13 locations -- all but one of them far-flung islands -- to deter fraudsters from breaking into people's computers and hijacking their modems for profit.


Rethinking Darfur

I heard somebody say earlier today that if the Bush administration were really interested in making progress in Darfur it would be taking a different tack. Rather than making a big fuss about genocide at the UN, and dispatching shuttle-diplomat Colin Powell around the globe with reporters hanging on his coat-tails. The Arab League (of which Sudan is a member) isn't likely to sign on to anything is perceived as an American proposal -- whether it's an invasion in Iran or a mission to stop the killing in Darfur. Better for Powell to operate behind-the-scenes, cutting deals with the few pliable leaders in the Middle East, and let the Arab League take the credit. That may not be "fair," but who cares who gets the credit? After Iraq the world is just not ready for more American humanitarian "leadership."

Hear Ye, Pirates!

And a double penalty for downloading T3!

Schwarzenegger Signs Law Criminalizing Some File Sharing

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a law establishing fines and potential jail time for anonymous file swappers. The new law says that any California resident who sends copyrighted works without permission to at least 10 other people must include his or her e-mail address and the title of the work.
(Source: CNET

Teein' It Up in Beijing

Golf -- coming to the Olympics in 2008?

Thursday, September 23, 2004

The Lost Art of Apology

War on Terror update, from David Cole (but who apologizes anymore, anyway?). Remember that Detroit indictment from way back...?

On September 2 a federal judge in Detroit threw out the only jury conviction the Justice Department has obtained on a terrorism charge since 9/11. In October 2001, shortly after the men were initially arrested, Attorney General John Ashcroft heralded the case in a national press conference as evidence of the success of his anti-terror campaign. The indictment alleged that the defendants were associated with Al Qaeda and planning terrorist attacks. But Ashcroft held no news conference in September when the case was dismissed, nor did he offer any apologies to the defendants who had spent nearly three years in jail.

There But For the Grace of God Goes Bush...

Calvin Trillin, evidently undeterred by memo-gate (it's a long poem -- perhaps he's been working on it since before the hoax was exposed). More sad than funny, I would say:

A Short History of Someone Who Failed to Get Into the Champagne Unit of the Texas Air National Guard in 1968

I wasn't really for the war.
But all my kin, in wars before,
Had gone when called. I couldn't flee.
No, Canada was not for me.
Another thing that I was not
Was someone wanting to get shot.

I thought the Guard would be my out,
But Daddy didn't have the clout
To get me off the waiting list.
He knew no pol who might assist
In putting me above the rest.
With influence we were unblessed.

And movement in the list seemed dead,
As heirs of big shots shot ahead.
So I was called by Uncle Sam,
And made a grunt, and sent to Nam.
I wrote home once, said I was fine.
Then Charlie got me with a mine.

Historians may not recall
My name, now chiseled on that wall.
Still, they might say I played a role
By going on that last patrol
And not returning to my base:
I might have died in Bush's place.


Mr. Rather, Meet Mr. McLuhan

What is Dan Rather but a mechanical product of late print capitalism? Anne Applebaum says the networks are sort of like Norman Mailer, grasping ever more greedily for attention in their creeping lifelessness:

There is little to be said about the amorphous post-baby boomers -- anyone born after about 1960 or so -- but it's pretty clear that as a group we have no emotional attachment to ABC, NBC and CBS.

The networks have known this for a long time and have therefore spent much of the past decade trying to get us to watch news programs to which we don't feel loyal. Flashy videos, human interest stories, jingly music -- none of it has worked, and indeed their effect has been the opposite of their purpose. When the big three effectively stopped covering political conventions, the nation collectively shrugged -- and changed channels. C-SPAN and PBS viewership spiked this year. During the Republican convention, Fox got the biggest audience of all.

It's only in this context, it seems to me, that the Dan Rather-fake letters fracas marks a fascinating turning point. Otherwise, it's a pretty run-of-the-mill scandal.

Agreed. Memo-gate is a bit like the attacks in Beslan -- a result of increasing derangement due to increasing desperateness for attention.

UPDATE: Daniel Henninger concurs in the Wall Street Journal that one product of the networks' (not to say the MSM's) loss of agenda-setting power is desperation. But who is setting the Iraq agenda then...? (Hint: it's not the bloggers.) Henninger:

"Much of the programming content coming out of Iraq now is created by a homicidal terrorist named al Zarqawi and distributed by the world's major media outlets. I think there is a content-hungry market for a more expansive view of Iraq, and elsewhere, such as Darfur. Some day, as is happening in the U.S., that market will create competing alternatives. It will be imperfect, but so is what we've had."


Remember, Canada's NOT Part of America...

Who cares if Carlos Delgado refuses to sing the national anthem -- he's a Puerto Rican who plays for a Canadian team!

Brando's Bony Closet

New revelations about Marlon Brando:

"He also enjoyed visits to the Neverland Ranch of pop star Michael Jackson, a close friend who employed Brando's son, Miko."

An artistic collaboration in the making, foiled by an unexpected death? One can only guess.

Conspiracy theory: Jacko was framed! Brando gets pre-pubescent nookie while Jacko gets indictment!

Swift Vets' New Boss?

Yesterday I blogged about the Bush/Allawi parallel universe in which Iraq is just a kind of under-supervised day-care center. Lo and behold, Allawi was in Washington today touting largely nonexistent progress in Iraq.

According to this AP story, Dick Cheney chastised Kerry for criticizing Allawi -- apparently Kerry showed an appalling "lack of respect." Cheney: "I must say I was appalled at the complete lack of respect Senator Kerry showed for this man of courage." Man of courage? Disrespect? What, did Kerry hire Swift Vets?

Pretty rich stuff. Pretty fucking rich.

Carter: "Zell Miller Eats Babies"

Jimmy Carter tells Tavis Smiley that Iraq has become "as much a quagmire as Vietnam." He has harsh words for Zell Miller -- calling Miller out for making a "rabid" speech and obstructing our political system by insisting on remaining a Democrat. Of course, Carter's completely right, though saying Miller "betrayed his party" begins to veer off-message.

Incidentally, I recently heard an interesting story from Richard Pipes about staying a Democrat even after becoming a conservative (and joining the Reagan NSC). Pipes felt that if he suddenly changed parties, it might look as if he wasn't really a conservative -- just a political opportunist. For whatever it's worth, I don't think Zell Miller would have that problem.

Carter will be 80 next month -- i.e. an official curmudgeon. No sky-dives planned.

The Rise and Fall of the Femme Fatale

Stuart Klawans savages "The Motorcycle Diaries," "When Will I Be Loved," and "Vanity Fair," in asking: "Is it any longer possible, though, for a femme fatale to seem new? Can she even be fatale?"

(You might not enjoy this review quite so much if you don't know that Henry Jaglom was a British cult film auteur/director of the 70s, 80s, and 90s.)

It's Not Just the Supreme Court

Eric Alterman, in an even more mordant mood than usual, has a message for the Wannabe-Unionized Grad Students for Nader caucus:

When I debated Cornel West and Frances Fox Piven before a large audience at NYU, our introductions were preceded by a plea from graduate student union organizers to support their efforts to elicit decent pay and conditions. I tried to point out that those students who supported both Nader and the union might wish to concern themselves with the makeup of the presidentially appointed National Labor Relations Board. Well, in July of this year, the graduate students who stuck with Nader got what they apparently wanted. The Bush-controlled NLRB voted to reverse an earlier decision and deny all American graduate students the right to bargain collectively.

E-mail of the Day of the Day

Lord knows that I hate Hugh Hewitt (he'll be talking about Swift Vets in 2039), but sometimes he really outdoes himself. Can you judge a blogger by his "E-mail of the Day"? Would it be too meta- to start an "E-mail of the Day of the Day"? Here's Hugh's entry:

"I just finished your book. Thanks for what I think is the most important point from page 72, “Majorities matter, majorities matter, majorities matter!” Many of us evangelical, pro-life voters tend to lose sight of this and want to become single issue voters, even to the detriment of our own party. In so doing, we shoot ourselves in the collective foot by withdrawing from the field of battle and giving the victory to the party that will never support our single issue."

1) Yeah, hooray for single issue voters! Go get 'em! Vote Eric Rudolph in '04!
2) The real problem with this "E-mail of the Day" is that every nano-nook and nano-cranny of Hugh's website is devoted to plugging his goddam book! Hugh -- shut up about your book already!!!


"Commie Caucus For Kerry" Has A Nice Ring To It...

Kerry's online communities (hey, wait a minute -- this isn't the official Kerry website!):

The Three Stooges
Environmentalist Wackos
Iranian Terror Caucus
Laurel & Hardy
Black Folks

Pro-Crustean and Pro-Bush!

Foreign policy experience is bad! Vote Bush! (Is Pete Du Pont the crazy one?)

It's the Recession, Stupid

Well, at least Cleveland won't be voting for George W. Bush...

Wednesday, September 22, 2004


Botox, alas, does not come without its costs.

Kalashnikov Launches Liquid Weapon*

I recall reading recently that the Kalashnikov design is now being pirated in so many strife-ridden, gun-starved countries that the patent is rapidly becoming worthless. (Naturally, Russia is using this situation to fend off criticism of its own intellectual property rights violations.) Guess that means it's time to diversify the brand name! From Reuters.

*Actual Reuters headline.

LONDON, England -- The creator of one of the world's most famous guns, the AK-47 assault rifle, has launched another weapon in Britain -- Kalashnikov vodka.

Lt. Gen. Mikhail Kalashnikov, who invented the AK-47 after being shot by German soldiers during World War II, said Monday he wanted to continue "the good name" of his gun.

"I've always wanted to improve and expand on the good name of my weapon by doing good things," he told Reuters Television.

"So we decided to create a vodka under my name. And we wanted that vodka to be better than anything made, up until now, in both Russia and England."

The Kalashnikov rifle has become the weapon of choice for guerrillas and gangsters across the world. But Kalashnikov said his original intentions for the gun were purely patriotic.

"I did not create the gun for international conflicts, I created it to protect the borders of my country," he said.

"It is not my fault that it has been spread all over the world. It is its reliability and its simplicity that have taken it all over the world."

Promoters of Kalashnikov vodka, which is 82 proof, say it is "made from grain harvested in Russia and water drawn from Lake Ladoga north of St. Petersburg" and is best drunk with friends.

Wet 'n Wild, Or Wet 'n Farmed?

Guess who's trying to eliminate the distinction between farmed and wild salmon for the purposes of endangered species protection? You guessed it. From

“Hearings on a federal policy on hatchery salmon and on changes to protections for wild salmon will be held around California over the next month,” reported the Eureka Times-Standard, 9/20.  The proposed Bush Administration policy would count hatchery fish as the same as wild salmon when considering their populations for protection under the Endangered Species Act.  There are 27 populations of threatened and endangered salmon and steelhead on the West Coast.  Earlier this year, “75 U.S. lawmakers demanded that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration include both independent scientists and the public in making the policy” because “the administration was ignoring experts and people whose livelihoods would be affected by it.”  

Riders On the Storm

Is this what will happen to ANWR? Death by midnight massacre?

RIDER APPROVES OIL DRILLING INTO NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE:  “The Senate this week could take up a rider in the Interior Department appropriations bill to expedite a land exchange involving parts of an Alaska wildlife refuge that a tribal corporation could open for oil and gas development,” according to Greenwire, 9/21.  The rider would “provide $750,000 to the Fish and Wildlife Service to acquire waterfowl habitat lands belonging to Doyon Regional Corp. in the Yukon Flats National Wildlife Refuge and the related exchange of nearly 100,000 acres and associated mineral rights from FWS to the corporation.”  The Yukon Flats National Wildlife Refuge, just south of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, is home to over 150 species of birds.  Conservation organizations charge that the dealmakers have been purposely avoiding public scrutiny and have not notified the public of the details of the deal.  "No matter how you slice it, this is a scheme to sneak oil drilling into some of the most important waterfowl and moose habitat in North America," said Stan Senner of Audubon Alaska.

Lust For Iraq? Horny For Iran?

Arianna Huffington on the "are we safer?" question. (But tell us what you really think, Arianna!)

Bush’s lust for Iraq kept us from securing Afghanistan, most of which is now under the rule of barbaric warlords, with the Taliban and the country’s drug trade — a major source of funding for terrorist efforts worldwide — making a comeback.

What’s more, Bush’s Baghdad folly has allowed the terrorists to regroup. At his convention, the president had the gall to claim that “more than three-quarters of al-Qaida’s key members and associates have been detained or killed,” which makes it sound like the war on terror is all but won: “75 percent down; just a measly 25 percent to go!”

In truth, according to a study by the respected International Institute for Strategic Studies: “Al-Qaida has fully reconstituted and set its sights firmly on the USA.” The report also found that the war on Iraq had “helped al-Qaida recruit more members.”

Still feeling safer? Then let’s take a trip down nerve-racking memory lane, back to October 2001, when President Bush held a photo op at FBI headquarters and announced a list of America’s 22 Most Wanted Terrorists — a terrifying lineup he called “the first 22” in a long-term struggle, “leaders and key supporters … planners and strategists.” Three years later, just three of these Most Wanted have been captured or killed. The other 19 are still on the loose.

So is it really any surprise that the number of people killed and wounded in worldwide terrorist attacks is on the rise?

(Don't) Take Me Out to the Ballgame

An AP story about Dodgers first baseman Shawn Green, clearly a very observant Jew:

"[Green] will definitely sit out at least one game of a key weekend series against the San Francisco Giants in observance of Yom Kippur, but will wait until Thursday to make his final decision."

So apparently it's "definite" but not "final." Or something. The story continues:

``I've bounced back and forth and am just trying to do the right thing,'' he said before the Dodgers played the San Diego Padres. ``It's hard to know what that is. I've really been toying with two different options: Play one of them or not play at all. I will miss at least one game.''

Wouldn't the worst possible solution be to play one of them? (Who suggested that -- John Kerry?) You can't have your apples and honey and eat them, too. Either you observe or you don't observe.

An American Original

Film-maker/big breast specialist/"grand old man of bosomania" (per Richard Corliss) Russ Meyer is dead at 82. Other titles acquired by Meyer over his all-too-brief career, which began with "The Immoral Mr. Teas" in 1959 and climaxed orgasmically with the deliciously decadent "Beyond the Valley of the Dolls" in 1971: "King Leer," or my personal favorite, "Mr. Boobsession."

As Meyer himself might have said: thanks for the mammaries, Russ. (Crude? All I can say is that Meyer's autobiography, "A Clean Breast: The Life and Loves of Russ Meyer," had a chapter, "Mammaries Are Made of This." There's one for the time capsule.)

I remember years ago reading in a book on Meyer that Meyer referred to sometime co-collaborator Roger Ebert as a "titty-man" (to indicate that Ebert was as much a fan of the upper anterior, symmetrical part of the female anatomy as Meyer was). After that I could never look at Ebert the same again.

Also, check out this Richard Corliss column from 2002 about the indelible stain Meyer has left on the blue dress of American culture:

A few minutes ago, I received an unsolicited e-mail with the header "Bigger breasts — Men Will Look." This bit of mam-spam promised a pill or pulley (can't be sure: I didn't click on the link) that was "Guaranteed to increase, lift and firm your breasts in 60 days or your money back!! 100% herbal and natural. Proven formula since 1996. Increase your bust by 1 to 3 sizes within 30-60 days and be all natural. Absolutely no side effects! Be more self confident! Be more comfortable in bed! No more need for a lift or support bra! 100% GUARANTEED AND FROM A NAME YOU KNOW AND TRUST!" Let me guess: it's the Enron Enlarger?

While I was impressed by the "100% herbal" part, I must admit: My breasts are every bit as big as they have to be. But the ad did have a therapeutic side effect. It helped remind me of Russ Meyer's crucial spot on the American spectrum. The filmmaker who uncaged Bosomania as a movie genre is part, and partial progenitor, of a breast-worshipping subculture (or bust-culture) that demands women carry treasure chests, whether real or artificially augmented. Bigger breasts: Men will look. Available from a plastic surgeon near you. Ladies, don't be satisfied with nature's meager bounty. Be all that you can buy.

An obit from the LA Times follows.

Diebold Stuff

DES gets DISsed!

More Flaws Found in E-Voting Machines, Activist Claims

Voting activist Bev Harris and a computer scientist say they found more vulnerabilities in an electronic voting system made by Diebold Election Systems, weaknesses that could allow someone to alter votes in the election this November. Diebold said Harris' claims are without merit and that if anyone did manage to change votes, a series of checks and balances that election officials perform at the end of an election would
detect the changes.

(Source: Wired News)



Having watched Iraqi interim PM Ayad Allawi on Wolf Blitzer over the weekend, I have to say that President Bush is not alone is living in a fantasy world of spin. Allawi seems to be a graduate of the ostrich school of public relations. He blithely dismissed Blitzer's questions about the insurgency, saying that everything (Ramadi, Najaf, Samarra, Sadr City, etc.) was fine, except maybe Fallujah, and even that wasn't too bad.

Guess they have Fox News in Iraq, too.

You Lousy Son of a Gipper!

A campaign re-tooling, and it ain't Kerry's. And who knew that Dubya's real fore-father was Daniel Boone?

The Doctrine of Pre-emption Marches On!

Israel is buying 500 "bunker-buster" bombs from US arms dealers -- and everybody seems to know exactly why: to enable a pre-emptive attack on Iran's nuclear facilities, many of which are being constructed underground. Mike Shuster of NPR reports that the sale will go forward AFTER the US elections in November.

They're Trying to Sabotage Freedom!

What, is Microsoft about to hold free elections?

Viruses Aimed at Windows Increase 400%, Symantec Reports

The number of new viruses and worms aimed at Microsoft Corp.'s ubiquitous Windows operating system rose 400 percent between January and June from the same year-earlier period, leading computer security company Symantec said. Nearly 5,000 new Windows viruses and worms were documented in the first half of the year, up from about 1,000 in the year-earlier period, said Symantec, the world's largest computer security company by revenue.
(Source: Reuters)

Different Strokes for Different... Planets?

The aliens may not appreciate our great cultural achievements!, says Michael Seringhaus in the Yale Daily News:

The two Voyager deep-space probes each hold gold-plated copper discs -- called the "Golden Record" -- to be played in a record player (supplied on board) and containing a snapshot of information from Earth. Assuming the aliens can assemble the player and figure out the instructions, they're in for quite a treat: a deep-space personal ad for the entire human race, assembled under the direction of Carl Sagan.

Initially, I found the Golden Record fascinating. How, indeed, do you communicate across untold distances to creatures with no knowledge of your language, writing, symbols, numbering or math?

But while the first couple of plaques are neat -- these deal with basic number systems and offer cryptic heiroglyphic instructions on how to play the records -- the remainder of the album, I am sorry to report, is pretty poor.

I spent quite some time drilling around NASA's Voyager Web site (, examining the Golden Record. I listened to the "Greetings From Earth" in all 55 languages. I studied the accompanying music selection. The dozens of images depicting life on our planet. The innumerable, confusing line drawings. The list goes on. The result? The collection, overall, is a pretty bland harvest of circa ten thousand years of civilization.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Flip to the Flop

I saw Andrew Sullivan on Chris Matthews's Sunday morning talk show yesterday, along with Gloria Borger and the hot-but-boring Katty Kay. Sullivan played the part of, well, a good Republican. Sullivan clearly panders to a different audience when he's on TV than when he's blogging. Flip-flop, anyone?


Bill Burkett is admitting he deliberately misled CBS about the Killian documents. Doesn't that suggest the problem is more localized (er, a la Abu Ghraib?) than systemic? CBS fucked up big time, but the real question in assigning all-important blame for the Burkett/CBS/Lockhart menage-a-memo is, WHAT THE HELL WAS BILL BURKETT THINKING? Was he just so angry about Swift Vets that he couldn't control himself? Zell Miller got his goat? Did he really think the pajama gang wouldn't catch on, that there wouldn't be a backlash? (Unless, as I said before, Karl Rove played agent provocateur and slipped Burkett the documents knowing Burkett couldn't restrain himself... Or maybe Burkett's a double agent -- seriously, what kind of Democrat lives in Abilene?)

Bloggers may love this story, but I think Fox News loves it even more. They get to attack a competitor, attack the mainstream media, attack liberals, and attack John Kerry all at the same time. And it's a great story for the 24 hr news cycle -- with just enough time between successive developments to call in your favorite pundits, shock-jocks, and partisan hatchet-men. Someone's going to have to bring Roger Ailes back down to earth for those boring, un-Foxnewsworthy debates.

A little gedankenexperiment: what would the reaction be if Drudge had broken the story?

Eye on the Eye

Fox News says the unresolved "big issue" surrounding the Killian memos is whether Dan Rather will be fired. Isn't the "big issue" whether the documents are a smoke-screen for the shortcomings in Bush's service record? Isn't the "big issue" whether the whole scandal is just another Rovian weapon of mass distraction?

I'll admit Bill Burkett is probably guilty as sin in passing the memos to CBS. But Rove has been known to do things like planting listening devices in his own office and then crying foul that he's been bugged. The fact that some are saying the memos prove incontrovertibly that the media is rife with bias, and they have no choice but to cast their lot with the president, suggests just how clever such a Rovian ruse could be. The bias-bleaters have gotten more mileage from the story of the hoax than the Kerry campaign possibly could hasve gotten out of the forged documents. (I mean, for a hoax, couldn't Burkett have been a bit more incendiary?)

Just a conspiracy theory? I hope so. I'm just glad the debates are coming up - we might finally see substance in this campaign.

Friday, September 17, 2004

More New Haven Blogging

Also in this morning's Yale Daily News: a story about the Yale Society for the Exploration of Campus Secrets (YSECS), a group devoted, to paraphrase Captain Picard, to going where no Yale student has gone before. To which I say great - but how about exploring New Haven (the REAL Terra Incognita for the average Eli) a little, too?

A Little New Haven Blogging

So the good folks of New Haven's white middle class want to save the New Haven Coliseum, a sterling exemplar of 1960s high (that is, on drugs) modernist brutalism, from the wrecking ball. This morning's Yale Daily News runs a story about "Save the Coliseum" activist Kevin Tennyson, the curator of the "New Haven Travelling Hockey Museum," who wants to keep the 'very misunderstood' coliseum around for hockey games and rock concerts. The demolition plan is, according to Tennyson, "all a smoke screen to move that theater downtown" -- "that theater" being the famous Long Wharf. Tennyson: "The theater is more in tune to a select crowd."

Two Americas? Yes, and two New Havens. For more, see here:

ANOTHER Great Question!

Doonesbury on Bush's campaign meet-and-greets:

--Man In Audience: Mr. President, I have a question for you. When I filled out my loyalty form at the door here I couldn't find a box to check that said, "Promises not to vote for liberal, flip-flopping surrender monkeys." Mr. President, if there had been such a box, I'd have been honored to check it!
--President: Wow! ANOTHER great question!

Apparently the Kerry campaign is jumping all over the Bush love-ins as well. I just got this email from the New Hampshire Democratic Party:

Join DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe and our Democratic candidates this Sunday at Noon at the Derry Opera House for a rally to challenge George Bush at his “Ask the President” event in Derry why he refuses to answer questions on why his policies have failed America’s working families.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

You Know Who You Are

Elections, at least in America, may not be very good at bringing out voters, but they are good at bringing out the worst in voters. Yeah, you know what I'm talking about: Republican C-Span viewers who call in on the pro-Kerry line. And Andrew Sullivan readers who pretend to be middle-of-the-road "libertarians" but are suddenly and seemingly improbably swayed to vote for Bush simply because Dan Rather's a dunce (hey, Bush is a dunce, too!). Or maybe this guy means he's suddenly been persuaded (flip-flopped?) to vote for Libertarian candidate Michael "Bad-Ass" Badnarik? If Bush is your guy, just say so! Cuz if every time the media screws up your vote changes, you got a lot to learn about democracy.

"Overall, I have many of the same lamentations about Big-Government-Bush as you, and as my views are generally libertarian I find much of the social conservatism distasteful as well. But while I was struggling with how to approach this election for those reasons, I must say that this unspeakably disgusting behavior by CBS has now made my decision easy. I always thought the clear liberal bias at CBS (and others) was just a natural consequence of the way the liberal journalists dominating MSM see the world rather than a concerted effort to push a liberal agenda (the fish don’t feel the water theory, as others have put it). I now see how wrong I was. If CBS is willing to not only shred even the pretense of journalistic ethics, but to actually conspire to commit fraud (as I think the evidence of ignoring experts and standing behind such obvious forgeries shows) in a desperate attempt to throw a presidential election and install their candidate, then I must do everything I can to oppose them. This means becoming an active supporter of President Bush. I would never have imagined that would happen, but all I can say is thanks, CBS, for exposing yourself and clearing things up."


Andrew Sullivan on Kitty Kelley: "I think of her as a slightly less reliable National Enquirer. Which puts her one step above CBS News."

Ouch. For some reason I'd have thought Sullivan might have a soft spot for the likes of Kelley.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Somebodies and Nobodies

Not your grandfather's explanation of Abu Ghraib?


Gilding the Lily

A new "Goldberg Variations"? Sacrilege!

Find a 10 Digit Prime -- For Fun!

This is some pretty cool shit. Google rocks, man.

Globalization and Stuff

How will Al-Qaeda communicate now that the CIA is beefing up its seraglio of Arabists? Perhaps like this...

Sorry, Paris Hilton

"Slutwear" is out. Long live slutwear! From Reuters:

Now you see it. Soon you won't. In a trend sure to be a relief to some and a disappointment to others, women will cover up instead of baring it all next season as the "slutwear" look comes to an end.

Demure designs have replaced scanty navel-baring looks on the catwalks of this week's semi-annual run of fashion shows, a reliable sign of what shoppers can expect to find in stores next spring.

"The slut is out now. She's dead," said Godfrey Deeny, senior fashion critic at Fashion Wire Daily.

In recent seasons, fashion has been filled with skimpy tops exposing midriffs, cleavage-revealing necklines and jeans slung so low that precious little was left to the imagination -- looks impossible to avoid on such pop icons as Paris Hilton and Britney Spears.

This season, blousy linen took the place of sheer chiffon, while shades of white chased away an edgier black. Necklines were up, while hemlines were hovering down at the knee.

"It's very ladylike. It's not jump-into-bed fashion," Deeny said of the new look on runways as established powerhouses to new designers trotted out more fabric and less skin than in seasons past.

Marc Jacobs showed 1950s' style sweater sets and dresses of florals and gingham; Carolina Herrera showed knee-length Bermuda shorts; Kenneth Cole had pleated skirts and wide-legged trousers and Oscar de la Renta showed boucle suits.

Alice Roi, Rebecca Taylor and Cynthia Steffe brought out loose, Bohemian style peasant skirts and dresses.

Women who actually buy fashion may have sent a message to designers who have been preoccupied dressing rock stars, said Paco Underhill, chief executive of Envirosell, a market research company, and author of "Why We Buy."

"There was too much slutwear," he said. "Slutwear doesn't play in the boardroom and it doesn't play in the office.

"Designers also recognized that women are desperately looking for solutions Monday through Friday. The money is in Monday through Friday," he said.

Trend forecaster Merrill Greene called the new look "prim and improper."

"It's the new modesty," she said. "It's what's under the clothes, something seething underneath. We won't be showing it so much on the surface."

She said the less-bare look may be a response to the world around us. "It's a way of protecting oneself. We might feel insecure about showing off, of looking too out there and too American," she said.

Underhill suggested the new modesty may be backlash to the "slutwear" look creeping into the children's market and young girls trying to copy the revealing, belly-baring looks of pop stars such as Spears.

Harsh media attention surrounding cases such as the murder of Lacey Peterson and the sexual assault accusations, now dropped, against basketball's Kobe Bryant "highlighted the dark side of lots of our sexuality," he added.

Retailer Robert Burke, vice president and senior fashion director at Bergdorf Goodman, took a more benign view of the latest trend.

"Fashion goes in cycles, and I think that cycle kind of played out," he said. "It's the end of overtly sexy clothes.

"As a retailer, it's especially good because it's very wearable. That's a positive for us," he said.

Parents Beware

I heard on talk radio this morning that some researchers are linking Ritalin use to Alzheimer's disease. Yikes. But what does this mean for Niall Ferguson's theory of imperial attention deficit disorder?

They All Suck

The dog used to eat people's homework. Now it eats votes. Think the voting controversy hasn't gone platinum? Check out this story on a new Smithsonian exhibit on the history of voting technologies.

Money quote: "There's always the possibility of fraud." Oh, and plenty of dissology on the pole-and-lever technology used in my home state of Connecticut.

Autumn in New England and the Middle East

When you're done checking and double-checking New Hampshire primary results (go Paul Hodes!), you might take a peek at this useful Council on Foreign Relations info site on the Sunni insurgency:



Ariel Sharon takes another look at the road map and elects to use his E-Z pass. From the AP:

Israel will not follow the U.S.-backed "road map" peace plan and could remain in much of the West Bank for an extended period after it withdraws from the Gaza Strip, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said in a newspaper interview published Wednesday. Sharon's comments were his most detailed yet on his long-term vision for the region. Palestinian officials said the remarks confirmed their fears that Israel plans to draw its own borders and keep a large chunk of the West Bank, rather than negotiate a peace deal with the Palestinians, as envisioned by the road map.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Back on the Hot List -- Or Not

Now that the conservative magazine American Spectator is back on the Washington "hot list," due to its hard-hitting reporting on the Killian memos controversy, it's probably as good a time as any to mention that the namesake of Spectator editor Bob Tyrrell -- er, R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr. -- is Shakespeare's James Tyrrell, Richard III's favorite henchman and the man who killed those two cute little princes in the tower. Dirty bastard.

Just for the record, as they say.

Gun Substance or Gun Show?

What to make of Kerry's assault on the sunsetting of the assault-weapons ban? The Wall Street Journal editorializes:

"It seems odd that Mr. Kerry has now begun to fire away at the 'assault-weapon' issue this late in the campaign. Last Friday he lit into President Bush for letting the ban expire. perhaps he's trying to rally his liberal base, or perhaps he's seen that something labeled an 'assault-weapons ban' does well in some polls. The NRA is already responding with a big anti-Kerry ad campaign, and somehow we suspect Republicans are saying, 'Make my day.'"

Well, the Journal should be happy that the old meat and potatoes issue-advocacy groups are spending lots of money, i.e. engaging in lots of "free speech." But they're wrong that Kerry is listening to the polls -- it's just the opposite! Kerry has a totally new campaign strategy where he's just going to hit, hit, hit, until one of his punches connects. He's done all that he can to make himself look like the proverbial "acceptable alternative." Now it's all about the incumbent, stupid.

And doncha love how "partial-birth abortion" is foul liberalism but "assault-weapon" is perfectly kosher?

More Ryder Cup Blogging

From the AP (yeah, they can dish it out, too!):

"Tiger Woods has been chasing Jack Nicklaus in golf record books since he was a kid. When it comes to the Ryder Cup, though, Tiger doesn't mean Jack."


A Non-Sequitur I've Noticed in the Business Pages

A lot of people who don't like Sarbanes-Oxley and Eliot Spitzer and Ken Salazar have been saying that sending the Frank Quattrones of the world to jail only creates a culture of secrecy in which all documents are shredded, emails deleted, and potential whistle-blowers bribed -- as if: 1) That was a reason not to prosecute (in order to preserve evidence for future non-prosecutions?); 2) There's nothing you can do about that situation. Here's a response to the second.

Judge Fines Samsung $566,838 for Destroying E-mails in Patent Case

Citing "breathtaking and absolute spoliation" that, at the least,
comprised "extremely reckless behavior," U.S. Magistrate Judge Ronald
Hedges imposed $566,838 in sanctions against Samsung Electronics Co. and
related entities for destroying e-mails in a patent infringement case. In
the suit, Mosaid Technologies, an Ottawa-based semiconductor company,
alleges that Samsung infringed its patents for dynamic random access
memory, or DRAM, chips.


A Little Ryder Cup Blogging

A question for European Ryder Cup captain Bernhard Langer at this morning's press conference (I'm paraphrasing): "You've been around long enough in this country to know that Detroit fans are very blue-collar. How do you think their behavior will affect your players?"

"Blue-collar"? Yep, that's what he said.


Friday, September 10, 2004

The Hermeneutics of Bush-Lexia

Courtesy of Kevin Drum, here's a letter in the current Atlantic Monthly regarding James Fallows's bafflement about Bush-lexia. I have seen Bush the Elder on a number of occasions in the last five years -- and though he is still lively and opinionated he's definitely lost some neurons. Should have made that deal with the devil while he still had the chance...

James Fallows's description of John Kerry's debating skills ("When George Meets John," July/August Atlantic) was interesting, but what was most remarkable was Fallows's documentation of President Bush's mostly overlooked changes over the past decade-specifically, "the striking decline in his sentence-by-sentence speaking skills." Fallows points to "speculations that there must be some organic basis for the President's peculiar mode of speech-a learning disability, a reading problem, dyslexia or some other disorder," but correctly oncludes, "The main problem with these theories is that through his forties Bush was perfectly articulate."

I, too, felt that something organic was wrong with President Bush, most probably dyslexia. But I was unaware of what Fallows pointed out so clearly: that Bush's problems have been developing slowly, and that just a decade ago he was an articulate debater, "artful indeed in steering questions and challenges to his desired subjects," who "did not pause before forcing out big words, as he so often does now, or invent mangled new ones." Consider, in contrast, the present: "the informal Q&As he has tried to avoid," "Bush's recent faltering performances," "his unfortunate puzzled-chimp expression when trying to answer questions," "his stalling, defensive pose when put on the spot," "speaking more slowly and less gracefully."

Not being a professional medical researcher and clinician, Fallows cannot be faulted for not putting two and two together. But he was 100 percent correct in suggesting that Bush's problem cannot be "a learning disability, a reading problem, [or] dyslexia," because patients with those problems have always had them. Slowly developing cognitive deficits, as demonstrated so clearly by the President, can represent only one diagnosis, and that is "presenile dementia"! Presenile dementia is best described to nonmedical persons as a fairly typical Alzheimer's situation that develops significantly earlier in life, well before what is usually considered old age. It runs about the same course as typical senile dementias, such as classical Alzheimer's — to incapacitation and, eventually, death, as with President Ronald Reagan, but at a relatively earlier age. President Bush's "mangled" words are a demonstration of what physicians call "confabulation," and are almost specific to the diagnosis of a true dementia. Bush should immediately be given the advantage of a considered professional diagnosis, and started on drugs that offer the possibility of retarding the slow but inexorable course of the disease.

Joseph M. Price, M.D.
Carsonville, Mich.

Endangered Species Act Endangered

An effort is afoot in Southern California to lend congressional support to the Bush administration's efforts to roll back the Endangered Species Act. Oddly enough, it's being supported by House Democrats. Here's a blurb from

“Environmentalists plan to picket outside a congressional hearing in Fontana today to protest what they say is a legislative attempt to eviscerate key portions of the Endangered Species Act,” reported the Riverside Press-Enterprise, 9/9.  The House Resources Committee is holding a hearing on the impact of the Endangered Species Act on southern California communities, and to promote two pending Congressional bills that would weaken the protections for endangered species.  Terry Wold of the San Gorgonio Chapter of the Sierra Club said the forum was “unbalanced” and called the two bills recently passed by the House Resources Committee “an ‘end run’ that would undermine protections for the places that imperiled plants and animals need to survive.”

Fisking the Pollsters

What's up with all these widely divergent polls -- and how did Fox News end up with the most pro-Kerry poll of all? Kevin Drum argues:

The latest Fox News poll puts Bush ahead of Kerry 47%-45%. The latest Washington Post poll puts Bush ahead of Kerry 52%-43%. That's a mighty big difference.

And of course, we all know what happened last weekend, when both Time and Newsweek released polls showing double-digit leads for Bush while Zogby and Rasmussen showed leads of only a few points.

I'm not sure why this year's polls are so wildly out of sync, but I suspect what we're seeing these days is less a clash of polling and more a clash of polling models. The variance seems to be mostly a product of different algorithms for identifying "likely" voters, which means the most accurate poll is whichever one has the best algorithm.

So who has the best algorithm? And why have the various algorithms suddenly started producing such divergent results?

I wish I knew, but there sure seems to be something funny in the air. For now, I think the most we can say is that Bush seems to be a few points ahead. How many is a "few"? Your mileage may vary.

Drum further argues that Bush can only maintain a lead as long as people remain in the dark about how bad things are right now in Iraq:

We're apparently making a big push to regain control of rebel strongholds in Iraq, but so far the story is more depressing than anything else:

"This is a significant step forward where the good people of Samarra are taking control of their destiny," said Maj. Gen. John Batiste, commander of the Army's 1st Infantry Division. His troops entered the city for less than 24 hours, oversaw the selection of new civic leaders, and declared the military's intention to return to help staff checkpoints in coming days.

...."We will never give up our right to maneuver in any of our areas," said Maj. Neal O'Brien of the 1st Infantry Division, which patrols four provinces north of Baghdad.

....U.S. troops pulled out at the end of the day for lack of a secure base at which to spend the night.

Even to a military non-expert like me this seems ridiculous. We're not going to win a guerrilla war by bombing cities and then hopping in for a few hours to put on a show of electing new civic leaders. If this is the plan, we're in big trouble.



Kerry's Worst Enemy

Jack Wheeler is conspiracizing about the Kerry campaign shake-up, courtesy of Donald Luskin. How is it that Hillary's true motives are obvious to everybody but John Kerry? Full text linked at the end.

What the media is clueless about is that Hillary is an agent provocateur. It was so easy for her to hijack Kerry’s campaign right under the candidate’s nose, because Kerry has always lived on Election Easy Street, a Democrat in Massachusetts who has never faced real competition and thus hasn’t a clue on how to run a real campaign against an incumbent who has money and moxie and brains.

It won’t be Howard Wolfson’s job to explain to Kerry how to run his campaign right. It’s his job to submarine it. That’s his assignment from Hillary. All that will go wrong, just as all that has already gone wrong, will be blamed on Mary Beth Cahill’s “incompetence.” As the campaign continues to implode, the media will never catch on to Hillary’s role in the implosion. She will leave no fingerprints, and amidst the wreckage on November 3, Hillary will rise to the role of savior of emotionally devastated Democrats, promising to lead them to the resurrection of their party in 2008.

The Democrats will be rid of the Kerry Albatross in less than two months. The Albatross of Hillary will weigh on their shoulders for years to come.

Two Parties for Two Americas

Arianna Huffington remarks that it was not a little uncouth for Republican conventioneers to ridicule "two Americas." I agree. (Rumor has it that some have begun referring to Arianna as "Insult Comic Dog." Ouch.)

Of course, leadership is about more than "a spine of tempered steel". It's about character, values, priorities, and a clear vision of where the country should be heading. So Kerry needs to offer a compelling, overarching narrative tying his strength -- and Bush's weakness -- on issues like jobs, the economy, the environment, and health care to his vision for America's future.

Thankfully -- and ironically -- during its convention, the Bush/Cheney team delivered the very narrative that can defeat it. It was offered to Kerry on a platter in Madison Square Garden when speaker after speaker relentlessly and shamelessly ridiculed the undeniable reality that we are two Americas, separated by an ever-widening gulf -- not just in income but in educational opportunities, access to health care, and the ability to realize the American Dream.

Rudy Giuliani and Dick Cheney even went so far as to use the notion of two Americas as the set up for jokes.

"Senator Kerry says he sees two Americas," said Cheney. "It makes the whole thing mutual. America sees two John Kerrys." And according to Giuliani, Democrats need "two Americas -- one where John Kerry can vote for something and another where he can vote against the same thing." Hardee-har-har.


For Better or For Worse

Why rising oil prices is good for the Third World. From AFP:

Rising prices for crude oil could inject some 15 billion dollars (12.3 billion euros) into the coffers of African oil producers, helping them to diversify their economies and lift their populations from poverty, International Monetary Fund chief Rodrigo de Rato said Thursday.

"It will be a chance for (African oil producers) to attain a new development objective and ensure an effective use of their resources in a medium-term strategy," de Rato told reporters in Ouagadougou, where he attended a two-day African Union anti-poverty summit.

Increased oil revenues will help "stabilize funds, reduce debt and increase funding for social and industrial programs that will attract investment," he added.

Surging prices on global oil markets have been a godsend for African exporters such as Gabon, Algeria and mighty Nigeria, which produces the bulk of Africa's crude.

Er, make that, why rising oil prices MIGHT be good for the Third World:

But the consequences for the rest of the continent, where more than one-third of the population lives in extreme poverty, have been disasterous, resulting in higher prices at the pump and for other refined petroleum products.

And while in theory higher revenues from crude mean greater income for oil producing nations, the reality of oil production in Africa means that multinational corporations such as ExxonMobil, Shell and Halliburton reap the largesse, not the countries themselves.

Against Type

The 9th Circuit casts a surprising vote for monopoly:

Judge Rejects Antitrust Concerns in Oracle's PeopleSoft Acquisition

A federal judge ruled that the Justice Department erred in seeking to block Oracle Corp.'s proposed hostile takeover of PeopleSoft Inc., giving a boost to Oracle's efforts to snare its smaller software rival. U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn R. Walker in San Francisco wrote in his opinion that the Justice Department failed to prove its allegation that a takeover would harm competition and violate antitrust laws.
(Source: The Washington Post)


Plagiarism: Separate But All Too Equal

Another sign of the impending demise of the research assistant? (What does it mean to be unable to idenity six paragraphs of writing as not one's own? The senility of over-reading?) Link at bottom.

The news isn't all bad for Harvard. Steve Bailey of the Boston Globe is defending the practices of Harvard's investment office:

What has made Harvard different all these years is it managed most of its money in-house rather than hiring outside managers, as most institutions do. Change would probably mean making Harvard look more like everyone else. Harvard is already well down that road: Today about half the money is managed internally, down from 85 percent eight years ago. The big money still inside is managed by Maurice Samuels and David Mittelman, the fixed-income guys. The two also happen to be Harvard's biggest public relations problem; together they made $69 million last year.

But the critics should be careful what they wish for. The bottom line in investing is not what you pay in fees, but what you get to keep at the end of the day. By that measure, the system has served Harvard well. Over the past 10 years the university ranks third among more than 400 other institutions, with an average annual return of 14.7 percent. Here is another way to think about that: Middle-of-the-pack performance would have left Harvard with an endowment about half of what it is today.


Thursday, September 09, 2004

Tom Delay Doesn't Want to Feel Good

The latest BUSH flip-flop. From the NY Times:

Despite widespread popular support, the federal law banning the sale of 19 kinds of semiautomatic assault weapons is almost certain to expire on Monday, the result of intense lobbying by the National Rifle Association and the complicated election-year politics of Washington.

While President Bush has expressed support for legislation extending the ban and has said he would sign it into law, he has not pressured lawmakers to act, leading critics to accuse him of trying to have it both ways.

Fast Food: A Weapon of Mass Destruction, Literally

In 1968, they said the Yippies were going to dump LSD into the Chicago water supply. Here's the 2004 version. From the Nation:

On August 11, John Kerry criticized the Bush Administration for blocking a bipartisan plan to give seniors access to lower-priced prescription drugs from Canada. With almost 80 percent of Medicare recipients supporting Kerry's position, the Bush campaign was faced with the prospect of defending a politically unpopular position.

That same day, in an interview with the Associated Press, FDA Acting Commissioner Lester Crawford said terrorist "cues from chatter" led him to believe Al Qaeda may try to attack Americans by contaminating imported prescription drugs. Crawford refused to provide any details to substantiate his claims.

Michael Newdow's 1984

One has to ask tough questions of political complaints: "So you don't like this program. What would you put in its place?"

A bumper-sticker campaign is afoot to replace "One nation under God" with "One nation under surveillance."

Frances in the Larger Scheme

Charley, Frances, and Ivan haven't been kind to Florida, but Japan has seen seven deadly typhoons this season, and according to this story could have gotten nailed by twelve more. From the NY Times (why was this story banished to the Science section?):

Japan's typhoon record was broken with a bang this week as battering winds and mountainous waves overturned ocean-going freighters, ripped out trees from Hiroshima's Peace Memorial Park, and shredded a 700-year-old shrine, long a national icon of tranquillity.

With gales still buffeting the northern island of Hokkaido on Wednesday night, the human losses stood at 31 dead, 14 missing and about 900 injured, a steep toll for a middle-class nation that prides itself on its safety. With the arrival of Songda, the latest typhoon to churn across Japan, the nation has been hit by seven typhoons this year, the highest number since 1951, the first year of record-keeping by the National Typhoon Center of the Japan Meteorological Agency.

This year, 19 typhoons, 35 percent more than normal, have whirled out of their traditional incubating area, in the Pacific Ocean near the Philippines.

"Awesome God" Unites Red and Blue States?

Yale has created a committee to review religion in campus life. Should Battell Chapel be used for both religious and secular purposes? Should the chaplain refer to God at university functions?

Christopher Ashley wonders about some of the questions in the Yale Daily News. Where did all this talk of "Awesome God" come from, and how did it penetrate the hallowed walls of Yale? You may be surprised by the answer.

If you were listening closely at this year's Freshman Assembly, you may have heard three different people speaking at once during University Chaplain Jerry Streets's opening prayer. Obviously, there was Streets himself, who began with the words "Awesome God" instead of his customary "Holy God". But behind that choice was Illinois U.S. Senate candidate Barack Obama, who, just weeks before, had brought the Democratic National Convention to its feet by declaring "We worship an Awesome God in the blue states." He, in turn, was drawing on the late Christian singer-songwriter Rich Mullins, whose best-known work is a thunderous modern hymn called "Awesome God."

Those two little words made some strange bedfellows. Obama is one of the Democratic Party's new leading lights, whereas Streets has been relatively apolitical during his Yale tenure. Mullins' Celtic-tinged folk-rock would feel out of place in Streets' church, the proudly traditional Church of Christ in Yale. Obama's core audience of urban liberal Democrats has little overlap with Mullins' core audience of white evangelicals. But again, a closer listen reveals why these disparate voices could speak in unison from the stage of Woolsey Hall.

The story begins with Mullins' 1987 hymn, which anyone under 40 who has ever attended a white church event has probably heard. Contemporary Christian worship CDs are a constant presence on Billboard's Top 200 album chart, but no song off any of them has ever attained the seeming omnipresence of "Awesome God." This song has even crossed the American church's fearful color line: it gets played in black churches, and Kirk Franklin covered it with his choir. In a country where the most segregated hour of the week is still Sunday morning, the song's crossover between white and black gospel should make anyone who cares about race in America take pause.

Court Halts Logging in Oregon Forest

This sounds like a white elephant for the environmental movement. More bad press the 9th circuit does not need. From the AP:

A federal appeals court on Tuesday blocked logging of old-growth forest scorched in one of the nation's largest wildfires until a lawsuit brought by environmentalists is decided, making it unlikely the dead trees can be harvested before rotting,” reported the Associated Press, 9/8.  The injunction, sought by conservation groups, “covers timber sales on 6,600 acres of old growth forest reserves that were designated primarily for fish and wildlife habitat under the Northwest Forest Plan, they 1994 policy adopted to protect the Northern spotted owl and salmon from logging.”  The fire burned about 500,000 acres in southwestern Oregon in 2002, the biggest wildfire in the nation that year.  

Setting a Good Example

Not convinced that Connecticut state government is mired in a full-blown ethical crisis? Well, now they're firing the head of the State Ethics Commission FOR CORRUPTION.

The State Ethics Commission appeared to be preparing to fire its executive director Wednesday, finding he cheated on his work hours, instructed a subordinate to lie in a grand jury matter, ordered destruction of a tape of a meeting, and directed the release of a "potentially privileged" letter.

Ignore Your Doctor's Advice!

The New Haven Register has this headline:

"Former President Clinton may have made a major contribution to public health by ignoring his doctor’s advice."

What? Only the liberal media could come up with a headline like that. (In fairness to the paper, the headline came from a statement by Dr. John P. Chandler, director of the Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory at the Hospital of St. Raphael.)

What Are Public Libraries For BUT Porn?

Phoenix Mandates Internet Filters in Libraries to Fight Porn

A legal battle could be brewing after the Phoenix City Council
enacted a new policy that bars adults from unrestricted Internet access to
pornography on Phoenix library computers. It was prompted by last month's
arrest of a child molester who told police that he had downloaded child
pornography at the Phoenix Public Library.

(Source: USA Today)

Martha Stewart Beware!

Next time you think the cops are just raddar-gunning you, think again! Martha Stewart, beware the wrath of the New Haven police!

Starting Friday, New Haven will be the second municipality in the country to use a revolutionary technology that scans license plates to instantly determine if the vehicle is stolen or the owner delinquent on property tax payments.

If the BootFinder makes a hit, the vehicle will be towed and impounded.

"We’re not playing a game of ‘gotcha,’" said Mayor John DeStefano Jr. as he and other city officials unveiled BootFinder Wednesday at the Department of Public Works on Middletown Avenue.

"We’re using technology to make the city safer," DeStefano said, as well as seeing that people pay their fair share of taxes.

Definitely check out the front-page photo of a rabid-looking cop wielding his IRS fraudster-zapper.

One Criminal on Another

Helena Cobban has LOTS on Saddam's trial -- what Chalabi wants from it, and lessons from Slobo-gate. Link at the end:

There were two piece in today's Iraqi Press Monitor related to the plans to try Saddam Hussein.

One, from the independent daily Al-Sabah said this:

"Iraq for All" news network was informed that the Cabinet has decided to dismiss Salim al-Chalabi, the man chose to chair the special court to try Saddam Hussein. The decision results from demands to move Saddam's trial out of Iraq, which Chalabi opposed. An arrest warrant was recently issued for Chalabi...

That sounded pretty intriguing. Chalabi opposed moving the trial outside of Iraq? Has that possibility really been discussed, I wonder? Or was it some kind of a bungled rendering of the idea of "extending the purview of the trial beyond acts committed inside Iraq" that the report was referring to, instead?

That might have been what the discussion was about--given the other recent news that the Iraqis have been trying to urge Iran not to press its own strong case against Saddam for war crimes--and also, given the degree of Iraqi-nationalist opposition to the idea of including the Kuwaitis' claims against him on the charge-sheet.

The other IPM piece related to an article in yesterday's al-Sharq al-Awsat, a pan-Arab daily published in London. Since this paper has a good online edition, I was able to go over to the original article there to read it. (Which also let me get a bead on the accuracy of IPM's highly abbreviated rendering of it in English: fairly good, I would say, but still some room for improvement...)

Anyway, here's what IPM said:

Confidential sources told Asharq al-Awsat that intensive meetings are underway to name the judges of Saddam Hussein's trial. The procedures of the trial would be completed shortly. The trial would include Saddam and some of the leaders in the former regime. The trial would be conducted in accordance with Iraqi law. Prosecution witnesses would include Prime Minister Iyad Allawi and Safiya al-Suhail, daughter of the late Talib al-Suhail who was assassinated in Beirut under Saddam?s orders. Tarik Aziz and Mohammed Hamza al-Zubaidi reportedly have shown willingness to testify against Saddam.
I was interested in the reference to the kind of timetable they are aiming at. Trying to "think like Karl Rove" once again, I figured maybe Negropontra might have given the Allawi government orders to try to have Saddam's trial open before November 2...

But apparently not so. In the Sharq al-Awsat original, they spelled out that the trial is planned to to take place "during the first three months of next year" and to deal with the cases of only some but not all of the arrested members of the former regime.

As for the idea of Iyad Allawi being a prosecution witness? It strikes me as strange, and a little over-personalizing of the whole trial...

Meanwhile, over in The Hague, I note that ICTY last week decided to "assign" legal representation to Milosevic against his will. (They don't like to call what they're doing there "imposing" a lawyer on him, but that's what it was.)

Ian Johnson of the International Campaign to Defend Slobodan Milosevic is crying "foul".

A petition being organized by the campaign, argues that:

The right to defend oneself against criminal charges is central in both international law and in the very structure of the adversarial system. The fundamental, minimum rights provided to a defendant under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, as well as under the Statutes of the International Criminal Tribunals for Rwanda and Yugoslavia, include the right to defend oneself in person...

In the long history of British criminal jurisprudence, there was only one tribunal that ever adopted a practice of forcing counsel upon an unwilling defendant in a criminal proceeding. The tribunal was the Star Chamber...

Johnson also noted in his on-line opinion piece that while one of the two people previously appointed by the bench to act as "amici curiae" on Sloboa's behalf in the trial, British barrister Steven Kay, has agreed to be one of the new "assigned"/imposed defense attorneys, the other former amicus, Branislav Tapuskovic, has refused to take up that role.

In the Sept. 3rd order that the ICTY trial chamber issued to regulate how Kay and his assigned co-counsel (and daughter) Gillian Higgins should act, Slobo still has a few, heavily curtailed rights he can exercize in the conduct of the case-- but just about all the real decisionmaking regarding its conduct will now be turned over to Kay.

Here's what the order says:

1. It is the duty of court assigned counsel to determine how to present the case for the Accused, and in particular it is their duty to:

1. represent the Accused by preparing and examining those witnesses court assigned counsel deem it appropriate to call;
2. make all submissions on fact and law that they deem it appropriate to make;
3. seek from the Trial Chamber such orders as they consider necessary to enable them to present the Accused?s case properly, including the issuance of subpoenas;
4. discuss with the Accused the conduct of the case, endeavour to obtain his instructions thereon and take account of views expressed by the Accused, while retaining the right to determine what course to follow; and
5. act throughout in the best interests of the Accused;

2. The Accused may, with the leave of the Trial Chamber, continue to participate actively in the conduct of his case, including, where appropriate, examining witnesses, following examination by court assigned counsel;

3. The Accused has the right, at any time, to make a reasonable request to the Trial Chamber to consider allowing him to appoint counsel; and

4. Court assigned counsel is authorised to seek from the Trial Chamber such further orders as they deem necessary to enable them to conduct the case for the Accused.

...Well, I just put these two items about these two now-accused former heads of state together because it's really interesting to me how the people who run western ethno-justice court systems try to adapt them to these highly political types of proceedings.

Will Saddam be allowed to defend himself? Will he be "assigned" counsel not of his own choosing?

This all seems quite a fair distance from the heady days of the Nuremberg trial, when at least those trials were part of an intelligent broader plan for the rehabilitation and political rebuilding of the recently conquered land of Germany. In our present highly over-lawyerized days, by contrast, holding these high-profile trials too often seems like a substitute for the broader, well-ordered plan...

PBS's Slouch Towards Gomorrah

Patrick Belton is dissing Ben Wattenberg, big time:

BRZEZINSKI ON PBS today proves that actually, contrary to popular impression, not all public television is worthwhile. Examples of interviewer Ben Wattenberg at work: (1) we don't get paid well enough to actually read our guests' resumes: You came to Washington - I was on the Johnson staff. I remember you coming down there occasionally as an advisor but then you - where - from where? From Harvard or from Columbia? (2) we also don't get paid well enough to start our homework before late the night before: I have been reading your new book, The Choice: Global Domination or Global Leadership. In fact I stayed up late last night reading it. It is a very good book. (3) we also don't get paid well enough to be policy experts: And you are in favor of human rather than technological intelligence. You think that’s where we’re short? ... Well you mentioned - you mentioned it here - you mention frequently in the book, getting some kind of an Israeli-Palestinian compromise.

Iraqi Election Update

Helena Cobban says the progress of elections in Iraq are going "more or less" as good as she hoped. Well, let's just hope she's a hopeful person.

We don't just need good soldiers into good peacekeepers (that transition is difficult enough), but good soldiers into good poll workers:

"Can we truly expect that the US military - which has been highly trained for aggressive battlefield operations - can transform itself into a bunch of patient, politically savvy election midwives? Yes, we can and must. It would not, after all, be the first military to make that transformation. In 1989, South Africa's apartheid government ordered its ultra-tough military, which for more than a decade had been battling black nationalist rebels in the annexed territory of Namibia, to turn to the radically new mission of creating the conditions for a UN-sponsored, one- person-one-vote election there."

The column is here:

Counting Casualties

Reflecting on the "tragic milestone" of 1000 deaths (leave it to Kerry to provide a somber turn-of-phrase), it's actually surprising how few Defense Dept. civilian deaths there have been (only 3 out of 1000). It's testimonial to the security arrangements in the Green Zone -- the one-square-mile area in the center of Baghdad that housed the CPA compound. If only we could secure the other 150,000 square miles in Iraq...

The injury fraction of casualties shouldn't be discounted either. I suspect there are a lot more DoD civilians in that tally. How does the ratio of injuries to deaths compare in Iraq to previous wars? One might think that in the past, with poorer medical care, more injuries would lead to deaths, and that's partly true. It's mitigated by the fact that there are many fewer non-combat injuries (mostly disease-related) than in the past.

On another note: according to NPR, the producer of the Russian lesbo-pop act t.a.t.u is producing a terror-themed musical. The Russian Mel Brooks?

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Felix Unger: Closet Lefty

Tony Randall's legacy -- it's probably not what you think.

Gettin' Your Spam On

Think that's your mother-in-law on the line? Well, think again...

Some Spammers Avoiding Technology Traps, Survey Says

Some spammers are getting their messages through using techniques
designed to spot and stop them. A survey shows that spammers are the
biggest users of a technique designed to find out if e-mail comes from the
net address it says it does.

(Source: BBC News)

And now a guy who started a "caller-ID spoofing service" is shutting his operation down after receiving a death threat -- because, it seems, spoofers want to keep a monopoly on the technology...

By John Leyden from Security Focus:

The founder of a US Caller ID falsification service is selling up, just days after setting up in business. Jason Jepson says a death threat was posted to the door of his California home, after the service was publicised. He also received harrassing email and phone messages, the New York Times reports. Jepson's business,, offers a service for US debt collection agencies to spoof the number they are dialling from. This is a way of getting through to poor payers who refuse the answer their phone to any unrecognised number. Caller ID spoofing has been around in the digital underground for some time, but Star38 is the first company that has tried to turn a profit from the technique. Jepson hasn't got any customers yet, but he says there's a good business there for someone brave enough to take it on. There are no reports of any bids, just yet. ®


Monday, September 06, 2004

How To Write to a Policy Wonk

Want to send a get-well card to Bill Clinton? Well, there's a website for it. You can even view other people's...

One hates to fisk get-well cards, but here goes:

Mon 9/6/2004 11:28 AM

Dear President Clinton,

You are strong in spirit and in character. I have no doubt that you will pull through your heart surgery without a care.
You are surrounded by cherished family, friends and a nation that adores you and prays for your full and complete recovery.
May God bless you, your family, and your medical team. You'll be jogging 5 miles a day in no time.

With Warmest Regards,
Toni Maryanna Rossi


5 miles a day in "no time?" The man weighs 240 lbs.! He's almost 60 years old? What, do you want to kill him? Must be a Republican.

Mon 9/6/2004 11:28 AM

Honorable President Clinton:

Three years ago I went through quadruple bypass surgery at Mount Sinai Hospital in Miami Beach. I have Medicare because I am disabled with AIDS. My secondary insurance premiums are paid by the AIDS Insurance Continuation Program. Because of that I've had access to the best possible care. I'm concerned about the baby boomers who will start retiring soon and the people with AIDS who will be needing services in the future.

I wish you a speedy recovery. Be well.

M. Hernández

Is this Al Gore's pseudonym, or Hillary Clinton's? Who the hell writes a get-well card and talks about "secondary insurance premiums?" That's it, soothe the fallen statesman with talk of "lock-boxes" and "deductible gaps"! Give me a break.

Check it all out here:


Speaking of Parties...

...the Financial Times is talking about Athens's "hang-over." Andy Rooney's 60 Minutes commentary last night was about New York's post-convention hang-over. London is still suffering from its Millennium Dome cost over-runs, and Sydney has yet to recoup its costs. (On a positive note, NPR reports that Berlin is revamping its 1936 "Nazi Olympics" stadium.) As far as I can tell, the world is headed for death by cirrhosis.

It'll cost Greece $50-100 a year just to maintain Santiago Calatrava's Olympic stadium (I think the Millennium Dome in London costs even more). When are they going to learn to build temporary facilities for these orgies of national and municipal self-congratulation?

Getting Soft (Dole Excepted)

Frank Luntz on Republican strategy (from last Tuesday's Financial Times): "With the economy, Republicans should be looking for a show of empathy and emotion more common to The Oprah Winfrey Show than a presidential convention." (Did anyone see his focus groups on MSNBC last week? It produced many of the same nauseous emotions for me as the phrase "jury of one's peers.")

And US News just revealed that Karl Rove loves to bake, and that President Bush has taped a sappy interview on parenting with Dr. Phil to be aired this fall! Sounds like the GOP (Bob Dole excepted) is getting soft. No wonder they turned the convention stage into a giant phallus thrusting out into vulnerable masses! (Note: see Frank Rich's column yesterday.)

Party Like It's 2004

I wasn't quite sure about the meaning of this Financial Times (London) headline from last week: "Party Shows Bush Ready To Defy Critics of US." What party? Apparently the national conventions look like nothing more than a kosher luau to the casual foreign observer.

Friday, September 03, 2004

Goodbye Geneva, Hello Torture

Is it time to rewrite the laws of war? Some in the government think so...

Rush Denounces the "Moderate Myth"

Rush Limbaugh in the Wall Street Journal: Senator McCain is more liberal than Giulani or Schwarzenegger.

"During the Republican Convention, one journalist after another, one so-called political expert after another, told us that these men were given prominent roles to soften President George W. Bush's harsh, conservative image and help him appeal to the undecided and independent voters who will determine the outcome of the election." But no! The media "have it all wrong." McCain, Giulani, and S...egger are "unabashed and unashamed advocates of conservative principles and policies. In fact , none of them mentioned any of the issues that supposedly define them as moderates."

So apparently as long as you don't mention a position it doesn't exist.

Read the whole column. If you've ever wondered whether Limbaugh is a mental muscle-man whose partisanship just makes him sound dumb, this editorial has your answer (nope!).

Also in the WSJ, Mary Anastasia O'Grady is drumming up fears of a free-world vs. communist struggle in the Caribbean (China's gettin' uppity!); and the editors are praising the acquittal of longtime WSJ sweetheart Ahmed Chalabi of murder charges ("call it a victory for Iraq's fledgling rule of law").

Chalabi has been the victim of a character assassination akin to what Saddam did to his enemies. "Jockeying for power is inevitable in newly free Baghdad, but the US didn't topple Saddam so that his successors could use prosecutors to eliminate rivals the way he did."

Meanwhile, Daniel Henninger calls Democrats a kind of rudimentary species that never out-grew its adolescent self-absorption -- the "galaxy of rights discovery and self-enhancement" that was the 60's. While Democrats are dinosaurs who continue to defend the "holy ruins" of the poverty programs of the 60's (what Henninger calls the "Mother Ship"), the Republicans are a dynamic "party of ideas."

Oh, and a bunch of stuff about hysterectomies, and a little 200 word essay by Michel Kelly-Gagnon attacking the French. What else is new?

Security First

Apparently the software industry has the same marketing strategy as the Republican Party.

Security Top Concern for Software Industry, Ballmer Says

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer believes the software industry will create more positive change in the next 10 years than it did in the previous 10 -- provided that security threats are effectively handled. "Security is the one issue that could stand in all our ways," Ballmer said in an address to the Massachusetts Software Council.


Charles Krauthammer, "Reporting For Duty"

Charles Krauthammer writes that.

"In an election year, it is too much to expect serious and complicated moral issues to be treated with seriousness and complexity. Nonetheless, the way Democrats have managed to caricature and debase the debate over embryonic stem-cell research stands in a class by itself."

So what the hell is doing talking about his own paralysis as if to swat away potential criticism -- you wouldn't disagree with a cripple, would you?

"When I was 22 and a first-year medical student, I suffered a spinal-cord injury. I have not walked in 32 years. I would be delighted to do so again. But not at any price. I think it is more important to bequeath to my son a world that retains a moral compass, a world that when unleashing the most powerful human discovery since Alamogordo — something as protean, elemental, powerful and potentially dangerous as the manipulation and re-formation of the human embryo — recognizes that lines must be drawn and fences erected."

I think Charles doth protest too much.

See the whole piece here, from Time.

An American in England

Diana Feygin of the Yale Free Press interviews Patrick Belton of Oxblog. Full transcript below. (It doesn't say anywhere, but it's pretty clear it was a written interview.)

Back to the Drawing Board

Targeting particular companies may be the future of telecommunications law, but it may not be a particularly successful future. Sounds a bit like gun control, actually.

Copyright Office Drafts New Version of "Induce Act"

The U.S. Copyright Office has drafted a new version of the Induce Act that it believes will ban networks like Kazaa and Morpheus while not putting hardware such as portable hard drives and MP3 players on the wrong side of the law. The original Induce Act has been severely criticized for possibly jeopardizing products such Apple Computer's iPod that could "induce" people to commit piracy.
(Source: CNET


More Inspiring News from Beijing

China, equal opportunity oppressor:

China Shuts Down Nationalist Website Pushing Petition Drive
China has shut down a popular Web site espousing nationalist views and causes, suggesting that the government's intolerance of criticism extends beyond pro-democracy liberals to conservative groups as well. The move followed the launch of an online petition by the Patriots' Alliance Web -- subject of a front-page article in The Asian Wall Street Journal in March -- to protest against a decision by the Railways Ministry to award contracts to Japanese companies to upgrade Chinese railway lines.
(Source: The Wall Street Journal)

More Media Self-Flagellation

NPR is now doing the war-coverage introspection thing, too.

Overall Findings

• 832 reports and interviews relating to the coming war were aired by the four programs under study.

• On the newsmagazines -- Morning Edition and All Things Considered -- the plurality of reports and interviews were balanced or neutral, usually within each report.

• Commentaries by non-NPR observers on the newsmagazines were scrupulously balanced, usually on the following day.

• Commentaries sought a range of opinion -- not just the straight pro- vs. anti-war approach.

• When only one side of the argument was explored, there was a tendency in all programs to give slightly more airtime to anti-war, rather than pro-administration, points of view.


• Morning Edition -- 281 reports. 19 percent pro-administration. 55 percent balanced or neutral. 26 percent anti-war.

• All Things Considered -- 438 reports. 24 percent pro-administration. 46 percent balanced/neutral. 30 percent anti-war.

• Tavis Smiley Show -- 47 interviews. 25 percent pro-administration. 39 percent balanced/neutral. 36 percent anti-war.

• Fresh Air with Terry Gross -- 30 interviews. 20 percent pro-administration. 40 percent balanced/neutral. 40 percent anti-war.


Ombudsman Jeffrey Dvorkin announces: "I found that the programs were exhaustive and informative in the range of ideas and topics that were addressed. But there were some less successful aspects as well."

It seems to me that rating interviews as "pro-administration" or "anti-war" doesn't really do justice to the complexity of the situation. The problem isn't that there were too many or too few anti-war voices (how, as Karl Rove says of John Kerry, do you tell the difference anyway?) -- it's that there weren't NPR reporters (or New York Times reporters, or Washington Post reporters) actually fact-checking the administration's sources. The media's failure was to rise out of its objectivity-through-ideological-balance rut. The problem isn't bias, stricto sensu -- it's lazy reporting.

Check out the whole thing at this link.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

An Order of Economics, Hold the Spin

Brad Delong is trashing a spin-job in National Review on last month's CBO figures by Stephen Moore and Donald Luskin:

Someday the editors of National Review might actually wish to publish something about economic policy, and have it taken seriously as a piece of argument rather than used for fishwrap as a piece of propaganda. They should be thinking really hard about whether further burning their own reputation by publishing Moore and Luskin is something they want to do.

Read the whole thing.

Harvard vs. Yale Meets Bush vs. Gore

I liked this Harvard Crimson lede about prolific-protester Thomas Frampton -- who happens to go to Yale. Change around the emphasis of that biographical data and you get this: "A junior bulldog found himself on a Secret Service leash?" No love!

And I'm genuinely impressed they actually bother to use circumflexes. Here's the lede:

Yale had a surprisingly rough time this week at a convention fêting one of its own.

First, on Monday night, a junior Bulldog found himself on a Secret Service leash after harassing Vice President (and Yale dropout) Dick Cheney. Thomas Frampton, a liberal leader on the New Haven campus, was arrested for assaulting federal officers after coming within ten feet of Cheney’s private seating area and shouting anti-Bush slogans.

Intimations of Immortality are Intimations of Immaturity

What is the mark of an immature culture? Violence on TV? A 50% divorce rate? Hardly.

Marco Balleve argues that:

"We now live in a 'risk society,' where voters are looking to choose not the best leader, but the safest one."

Now that's the mark of an immature culture.

Eat Your Heart Out, Swift Vets

Ruy Teixeira questions the conventional wisdom du jour -- that Kerry is slipping because of Swfit Vets.

The Myth: The Swift Boat Veterans for Truth (SBVT) controversy seriously harmed the Kerry campaign. Bush comes into his convention in much better political shape than he has been for quite a while.

The Reality: The race has changed little since the start of the SBVT controversy. Bush enters his convention with basically the same political vulnerabilities he had previously.

Let's go to the numbers. The poll that best provides a before-SBVT damage and after-SBVT damage picture of the horse race is the Gallup poll. That's because Gallup polled both on August 9-11 – right before media coverage of SBVT really heated up – and on August 23-25, right after the coverage peaked and just as the Kerry campaign began its push-back.

What do the Gallup numbers show? As Gallup's release on their latest poll succinctly puts it: "No Change in Presidential Race Despite Attack Ads.” Just so.

In fact, to the extent their numbers show change, it's in the opposite direction to the one everyone is assuming. In their August 9-11 poll, Kerry was behind by one point (47-48) among registered voters (RVs); in their August 23-25 poll, Kerry's ahead by a point (48-47). (Bush's approval rating also declines by 2 points between the two surveys).

So why were (and are) people so convinced SBVT hurt? There were the Annenberg Election Survey numbers, of course, on how many voters had heard of the the SBVT charges (more than half the country) and found them somewhat or very believable (46 percent of the group that had heard of the charges). But, as numerous observers have pointed out, outside of the ranks of partisan Republicans almost all of these “believers” were those that found the charges “somewhat,” rather than “very,” believable, indicating little more than a willingness to consider the charges rather than a firm belief they are true. And these data were collected prior to the Kerry campaign’s push-back on the issue; later Annenberg data indicate that the controversy, in the end, did not change the number of voters who believe Kerry did not earn all his medals. In addition, a plurality of voters now believe that the Bush campaign was behind the SBVT attack ads, despite the SBVT contention that they were acting independently.

Then there were the August 23-25 Gallup numbers on likely voters (LVs), showing Bush ahead by 3 points, that fed the impression Bush was pulling ahead. But these LV numbers also represented no change from previous Gallup polls, which had showed Bush ahead among this group by about the same margin. (Indeed, it's interesting to note that in the entire month of August only one poll – Gallup – showed Bush ahead among LVs in the Bush-Kerry matchup and it did so three times and by almost identical margins. Must be something going on with that Gallup LV model.)

There was also the Los Angeles Times (LAT) poll, which showed Bush with a 3 point lead among RVs, released right after the peak of the mudslinging. But the LAT poll had no point of comparison in August, much less close to the beginning of the SBVT controversy, so the LAT result showed nothing about change due to SBVT. Moreover, the LAT result was an outlier among the month's RV polls – every other poll taken during the month (save one Gallup poll) – had Kerry tied or ahead in the Kerry-Bush matchup.

Finally, there is the most plausible – in my view – source of this sentiment: the fact that a number of polls show a tightening of the horse race between very early August (i.e., right after the Democratic convention) and late August. That tightening ranges from 2-7 points, turning a small post-convention Kerry lead into a smaller Kerry lead or tie, depending on the poll. But the most plausible hypothesis for this tightening is a natural post-convention decay in Kerry's support (given a lack of fresh, positive coverage of Kerry's campaign) over the course of the month, rather than the specific effect of the SBVT brouhaha on voters’ evaluations of Kerry.

So where does that leave us? In my view, about where we were before the Democratic convention. In fact – in addition to the horse race – if you look at Kerry-Bush comparisons on issues and on personal characteristics, the results of a number of polls seem almost to replicate the results of that particular poll prior to the Democratic convention.

And another critical thing hasn't changed at all – Bush's ratings in all his vulnerable areas (the economy, Iraq, health care, etc.), as well as voters' sense of whether the country is going in the right direction and whether a different direction is needed. These indicators have all continued to be quite negative (in some cases, have actually worsened) over the course of August, including the period allegedly affected by the SBVT controversy (see the next section).

This is Bush's problem. He's got to run on something and, unfortunately for him, he has precious little to run on other than being the president of 9/11. The SBVT ads and subsequent media feeding frenzy didn't change that equation in the slightest – and it's not an equation that favors Bush's re-election.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

General Philosophies and Objective Truth

No, this isn't a lecture on postmodernism, just a query: is it possible that supporters of the President may hate liberals just as much as liberals hate the President, and make as little sense in their attacks?

"Liberals don't mind being wrong about an issue, but any error must comport with their general philosophy, which opposes the concept of objective truth. So, if they are wrong about the economy, it is because government isn't big enough and doesn't spend enough, or taxes too little."'
--Cal Thomas, "Nihilistic Liberals Hate President Because He Has a Belief System," Aug. 31, 2004

So general philosophies are bad, but objective truths are good? Liberals like being wrong? I don't get it. Cal Thomas is supposedly the most syndicated columnist in America. And he's also got to be the worst.

Another Blogosphere Milestone

A milestone has been reached. A muck-raking blog seems to have brought down Republican Congressman Ed Schrock, and Kos is saying hooray. Here's the post from yesterday:

Michale D has been on the story for several weeks.

Rep. Ed Schrock is a two-term Republican congressman from Virginia's Second District.  The National Journal ties him as the second most conservative person in all of Congress in 2003, behind only Dennis Hastert.  This isn't necessarily a turn-off in his district, which includes Virginia Beach, home of Pat Robertson, as well as Hampton Roads, home of 300,000 active-duty military and veterans.  A strong family man with a wife and kids, Schrock was a co-sponsor of the Federal Marriage Amendment and opposes any possible rights for gay people, including non-discrimination in employment.

The problem is, his constituents may soon discriminate against his employment, as Schrock also seeks out gay sex on telephone dating services, and gay activists are about to release the tapes.
The tapes were circulating, thanks to the blog Blogactive.

Suddenly, as the import of the tapes became increasingly obvious, the links to the tapes disappeared from Blogactive. The strategy was clear -- if Schrock thought the tapes were a hoax, he would continue his reelection battle. And if he remained on the ballot at Friday, 5 p.m., it would be impossible to replace him on the ballot.

Alas, Shrock knew the jig was up.

U.S. Rep. Ed Schrock withdrew from his re-election race this afternoon, citing unspecified allegations.

"In recent weeks, allegations have surfaced that have called into question my ability to represent the citizens of Virginia's Second Congressional Distict," Shrock said in a press release.

Schrock, who would have been seeking his third term, did not elaborate on the nature of the allegations.

"After much thought and prayer, I have come to the realization that these allegations will not allow my campaign to focus on the real issues facing our nation and region," the statement said. "Therefore, as of today, I am stepping aside and will no longer be the Republican nominee for Congress in Virginia's Second Congressional District.
This guy co-sponsored the Hate Amendment. He had a 92 percent score from the Christian Coalition. He was Pat Robertson's congressman.

And he resigned "effective immediately". He is getting run out of town.

Democrats are running David Ashe, a former military man in a heavy military district. Republicans now have the rest of the work week to find a replacement.

And for a moment of triumphalism -- a blog brought this guy down. Amazing.

Girlie-Men and the Manchild

I even saw Grandma Bush waving one of these Arnold signs. From PoliticalWire:

Jason Thompson says political memorabilia collectors should keep an eye on eBay today: "The printed posters distributed for delegates to wave during Schwarzenegger's speech -- a white-lettered blue sign screaming 'ARNOLD!' -- were the hot ticket item in the convention hall Tuesday night."

"Some delegates could be seen clutching multiple signs... while other delegates -- as well as hopeful Garden staffers, RNC workers and journalists -- carefully scanned the rows of seats on the floor for the souvenirs... Of course, the '4 More Years' signs, attached to 2-foot sticks for maximum effect, were there for the taking, as were the 'People Of Compassion' signs. But those 'ARNOLD!' posters were like gold."
As of this morning, however, none had made their way to eBay.

I don't quite get it. Arnold's speech was a cliche-filled disaster. And "girlie-men?" He now says it with astonishing, impetuous regularity -- purely for fifteen or twenty seconds of immediate gratification. He is like a giant rippled infant who can't control himself.

(Kos also mentions this: "Arnold talked in his speech about how he decided to become a Republican because he saw Humphrey debate Nixon and he decided Humphrey espoused socialism and Arnold identified with Nixon.  Well guess what?  Nixon and Humphrey never debated.  Arnold invented that memory." That whole story of having the debate translated to him -- not to mention the one about the KGB spiriting off innocent Viennese at random in occupied Austria -- sounded fishy to me.)
When are Republicans going to get over the excitement of having an immigrant in the party?

Well, given their experience with blacks, probably never.

Thomas Pynchon's Next Novel?

Taegan Goddard says the tree doesn't fall far from the apple.

Like son, like father. President Bush says he doesn't read newspapers, and now, according to USA Today, his father says he's "given up" on the New York Times. "The thing that troubles me is, in my opinion, their news columns are getting to show a certain bias."

"There is a new way you do it now: 'Reporter's Notebook.' That gives you a little chance to be an advocate in the news column. Or 'Washington Whispers' or something like that. And that relieves the reporter of objective reporting... I've given up on them."

However, Media Drop reports that on Don Imus' show this morning, the former president said "I have a confession to make. I actually like Maureen Dowd."

Since Bush 41 was so candid, I'll admit that I actually like David Brooks.

So Bush 43, Antonin Scalia, and now Bush 41 have announced themselves as prominent conservatives who refuse to read the newspaper. Oh year, and Robert Welch. The paranoid style chugs along... (didn't Pynchon write a book called "The Crying of Bush 41" or something...?)