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Monday, June 30, 2003
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Getting Aggressive Against the “Dead-enders”

By Steven Taylor @ 10:59 am


A series of aggressive raids by American forces across central Iraq and in Baghdad have resulted in the detention of 180 people, including a Baath Party colonel, the United States military said today.

Getting aggressive is clearly the way to go, although it begs the question, as with much in the post-war period, why it took so long to do so.

Source: 180 Held, Including Colonel, in Raids in Iraq by U.S. Forces

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By Steven Taylor @ 10:55 am

Death of Iconic Actress Hepburn Draws Eulogies

While I am not one to get sentimental over the death of an actor, I would take the opportunity to say that she was one of the greatest actresses in the history of film.

I think my favorite Hepburn film was Philadelphia Story: Cary Grant, Jimmy Stewart, and Katherine Hepburn-it is hard to get better than that.

Runner-up: The African Queen followed by Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.

And counter-favorites?

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By Steven Taylor @ 7:53 am

I made a brief appearance on 1st News on KTOK in Oklahoma City this morning. Myt thanks to Cam Edwards for the invitation and for being a gracious host.

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Progress Down the Road Map?

By Steven Taylor @ 7:31 am

But I thought that the Iraq war was going to make any kind of negotiations in the Palestine-Israel conflict impossible. And wasn’t it the case that the Bush administration was supposedly totally ignoring the problem?

JUNE 29, 2003: Mr. Arafat’s Fatah declares a six-month truce, and Hamas and Islamic Jihad announce a three-month cease-fire to stop attacks against Israelis. Hours later, Israel pulls troops back from the northern Gaza Strip.

I remain skeptical that this will all work out, but certainly the critics missed the boat here.

Source: Chain of Events in the Middle East Conflict

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Bush on Firm Ground with Base

By Steven Taylor @ 7:22 am

As I have noted before, both exclusively on the blog, and in print, this ain’t 1992:

By any measure, Mr. Bush appears to have built up enough good will with his party’s right wing to provide him significant latitude as he seeks to appeal to moderate voters by taking positions that might roil conservatives. […]

Mr. Bush’s position among conservatives stands in marked contrast to the troubled relations his father endured with many of them when he lost his re-election bid in 1992.

Source: Bush, Looking to His Right, Shores Up Support for 2004

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Sunday, June 29, 2003
The Sincerest form of Flattery

By Steven Taylor @ 9:34 pm

The New! Improved! Wizbang (it makes your whites whiter and your colors brighter!) inspired me to copy its comments and trackback functions. My thanks to Kevin for providing the code. (And there’s three TTLB details from me to you-and thanks to Kevin’s trackback code, I will get two myelf :).

Also, I finally have the categories properly linked form each entry.

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By Steven Taylor @ 7:57 pm

Thanks to Dave of The Hedgehog Report for blogrolling PoliBlog.

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The New and Improved Wizbang!

By Steven Taylor @ 3:17 pm

Wizbang has moved. GO check out the new digs-they look great!

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By Steven Taylor @ 11:28 am

Friedmans’ column today, Is Google God? is worth a read. It combines two of the topics he knows best: international relations and globalization.

The money paragraphs:

In other words, once Wi-Fi is in place, with one little Internet connection I can download anything from anywhere and I can spread anything from anywhere. That is good news for both scientists and terrorists, pro-Americans and anti-Americans.

And that brings me to the point of this column: While we may be emotionally distancing ourselves from the world, the world is getting more integrated. That means that what people think of us, as Americans, will matter more, not less. Because people outside America will be able to build alliances more efficiently in the world we are entering and they will be able to reach out and touch us-whether with computer viruses or anthrax recipes downloaded from the Internet- more than ever.

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  • From Behind the Wall of Sleep linked with Yes, I See the Boogeyman. I’m Not Scared.
More on Strom

By Steven Taylor @ 10:59 am

A few more words on Strom.

  • I do not, as some do, consider him to have been evil incarnate, and I do believe that he evolved, personally and politically, vis-�-vis race.
  • The post by Bryan that prompted my response was a query as to how Strom would be remembered, and a general assessment of his legacy. While brief, and not especially positive, I think my assessment below is fair.

    Some more comments, and a summation:

  • Aside from anything else, Strom�s age was something that troubled me (as have the ages of many other Senators on both sides of the aisle: Byrd, Bob Smith of NH, Jesse Helms, to name a few). I respect the rights of the voters in those states to send whom they choose to Washington, but have often wondered why voters send back incumbents who are clearly experiencing diminished mental capacity. And there can be no argument that was not the case with Strom. Another example is Bob Smith�s primary campaign against now-Senator Sununu. Smith was clearly struggling (as he had in office).
  • And age, race-issues, and other factors aside, the bottom line is that Strom was not a particularly powerful force legislatively. Rather he was a generic supporter of the military (which I applaud) and was very good at getting money spent on his state (which is something I have mixed feeling on, as on the one hand, that is part of the job, but on the other, if one is overly good at it, that means an inordinate amount of tax dollars are going to a specific state, which I decry).
  • And in re: Byrd, I would repost what I said in the comments below: I do agree that Byrd gets, and will get in death, a larger pass on the racism issue. I will say, to be fair, that Byrd has been a far greater force legislatively, and in terms of his influence over the years on the rules and procedures of the Senate than Thurmond ever was. So as much as Robert Byrd annoys me, he has been a far more significant member of the Senate than Strom was by any objective measure.

    I would summarize my views as follows: from a dispassionate and professional view, Strom had a largely unremarkable Senate career aside from two factors: the politics of race during the first half of his career, and his longevity. Beyond that there isn’t all that much to distinguish him. Yes, good and bad can be found in the details of his career, but they would hardly put him in the pantheon of the great legislators of our country.

    For a more positive review, please visit Backcountry Conservative, who has an extensive post on this topic, one that deserves to be read, if anything to reward Jeff for his hard work. Further, as a native South Carolinian, he clearly has a different perspective on this issue. Although I do take some exception to his classification of conservatives who criticize Strom as being �self-loathing.� But will assume that he didn’t mean me :)

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    • Backcountry Conservative linked with Black State Senator to Eulogize Thurmond
    • Backcountry Conservative linked with "Delinking"
    Saturday, June 28, 2003
    Speaking of Links

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:21 pm

    Thanks to Wall of Sleep and The Bemusement Park for adding PoliBlog to their blogrolls!

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    By Steven Taylor @ 10:13 pm

    Bryan of Arguing with Signposts has thrown down the gauntlet, so to speak, over the death of Strom and his legacy. I must say that part of the reason I haven�t blogged on Strom is that, in many ways, I find him rather boring, and therefore didn�t have a whole lot to say about him. Professionally he was rather uninteresting, and personally he was something of an embarrassment (as I am both a conservative and a southerner-let�s just say that he isn�t my idea of the poster child of the Republican Party).

    He will be most known for running as a segregationist against Truman, for filibustering the Civil Right Act (and having to pee in a bucket with one foot on the Senate floor), and for switching to the Republican Party (which Brett Marston would likely show as Exhibit A for his arguments regarding the Southern Strategy). He will also be known for being in the Senate a loooong time, and for being a true political animal�i.e., adapting to political reality in his state, and for bringing home the bacon. He certainly was able to maintain his popularity at home. Legislatively, there will be no legacy, as there isn�t one to leave.

    Let�s put it this way: there are two significant things that Thurmond did recently: he turned 100, which is an impressive feat, but was a feat of biology, not skill; he managed to cause Trent Lott to lose his job, although in a highly indirect fashion. Neither of those things is an example of political brilliance.

    I will say this, he was always good for a joke in class, usually along the lines of some reference as being the only member of the Senate to have served since the War of 1812, or somesuch.

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    • Arguing with signposts… linked with Lightning Rod, even in Death...
    • Backcountry Conservative linked with Thurmond and Civil Rights
    • Backcountry Conservative linked with Black State Senator to Eulogize Thurmond
    • Signifying Nothing linked with Strom's legacy
    The Blogonomics of Linking

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:44 pm

    Dean, of Dean’s World has an interesting essay on what he calls the gift-economy of blogrolls. It also contains somoe general musings on why we blog. It is worth a read.

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    Adios Dollar Bill?

    By Steven Taylor @ 11:31 am

    Rich Tucker makes an interesting case for doing away with the paper dollar bill. While this is (as he notes) a decidedly unpopular move, he makes a compelling case. His strongest point being:

    It’s a simple matter of economics. Look in your pocket. Chances are you’ll find coins from five, 10, even 20 years ago. That’s because the average coin lasts for 30 years, while the average bill lasts 22 months.

    In other words, during the lifetime of a dollar coin, we’ll have to manufacture 16 one-dollar bills to do the same job. It costs about eight cents to mint a coin, and four cents to print a bill. So it costs 60 cents more to keep a dollar bill in circulation than it costs to keep a coin in circulation. Multiply that 60 cents times the billions of dollar bills in circulation, and you’re talking real money. So much money, in fact, that in 2000, the General Accounting Office estimated the government could save $522.2 million per year by getting rid of dollar bills.

    However, with 64% popular opposition, I doubt this will happen anytime soon.

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    Predictions on Clark

    By Steven Taylor @ 11:18 am

    Bob Novak writes that General Wesley Clark appears to be feeling out the political scene and may run for the Democratic nomination. If he does (and my guess is that he ultimately will not), here are some predictions:

  • There will be an initial huge buzz.

    But then,

  • He will find that raising money ain�t all that easy.
  • The moderate Dem space is quite limited, politically speaking, look at how Lieberman is doing, if you want evidence.
  • He will face vicious attacks from the more liberal candidates, who will feel threatened by his entry.
  • Political rookies rarely fare well on the big stage. And primary campaigns are the biggest stage there is, aside from the general election campaign for president.
  • It is one thing to field questions about the military, as when you are NATO commander, reporters are often somewhat deferential. It won�t be the same when Russert is asking him about taxes, abortion, gay rights, welfare, and so forth.
  • His gloom and doom commentary on CNN regarding the early days of Gulf War II will come back to bite him, and bite him hard.

    And even if he is nominated, I would maintain this argument I made a while back in regards to the Dems and the security issue.

    Although it may all be a Veep-bid, as Novak suggests.

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    Grand Old Society?

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:22 am

    While I understand, and agree to point, with Kevin Drum when he points out that many current politicians cast debates in terms of issues from the past, such as many conservatives still railing against the Great Society, there are some shifts in the debate: G.O.P. Steals Thunder.

    Although I will grant that the conservative wing of the party will still be quite critical. Indeed, from an ideological and public poicy perspective, I am not all that pleased with this legislation. Still, the Great Society ref in this piece, made me tihnk of Kevin’s post:

    Medicare has always been a signature Democratic program, the proud legacy of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s Great Society, established and protected by the Democratic majorities that reigned in Congress for much of the past 40 years.

    Now, the House and Senate have passed the biggest expansion and overhaul of Medicare since it was created, including a major new drug benefit for the 40 million elderly and disabled Americans covered by the government health insurance program. And it was Republicans, led by President Bush, who pushed it through.

    And it ceratinly does shift the nature of the rhetoric in the debate for the upcoming election cycle.

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    More Sausage

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:16 am

    This piece on Bill Frist is worth a read as well: Frist’s Political and Personal Triumph.

    Two points come out: 1) He is clearly working closely with President Bush, and 2) He worked the moderates to get this bill passed.

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    Making Sausage

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:10 am

    An interesting look into the world of legislating: In the Wee Hours, Votes Change as Arms Twist. For example:

    Shortly after 2 o’clock this morning, with so many Republicans defecting that the Medicare prescription drug bill seemed headed for defeat, Representative Jo Ann Emerson found herself in a showdown on the House floor with some of the most powerful men in Washington.

    Mrs. Emerson, a Missouri Republican, voted no, objecting to a provision in the legislation that would make it difficult for people to import drugs from Canada. The House Republican leadership, including Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, surrounded her, asking what it would take to change her vote. She pulled a slip of paper from her purse, pointed to the six-line provision highlighted in yellow and replied: “Take it out.”

    The provision was not removed. But in explaining today how she voted, Mrs. Emerson said that the leaders promised to strip it out at a conference with the Senate, and to schedule a separate House vote on her bill that would allow prescription drugs to be imported. So by 2:30 a.m., she had switched her no vote to yes.

    Mrs. Emerson’s last-minute reversal was one of several twists that, in the end, delivered victory to the Republicans by a razor-thin majority. The 216-to-215 vote to give elderly people some relief from the high costs of prescription drugs came after a day of arm-twisting and cajoling � not only by the House leadership but also by officials at the highest levels of the Bush administration, including Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary Tommy Thompson of health and human services.

    Mr. Thompson stayed in the Capitol until the last vote was counted, and for Republicans, the Herculean lobbying effort was necessary. So tenuous was the situation that the leadership was forced to extend the customary 15-minute voting period to more than 50 minutes in order to round up the necessary votes.

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    More on the BoR

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:53 am

    Bryan, of Arguing With Signposts, makes the following legit point in the comments section of this post, but since it inspires a long-ish reply, I decided to move it out into the open, so to speak, rather than in the comments section.

    Bryan stated:

    ” If the Founders had stuck to their original desire, ”

    I was under the impression that there was considerable debate, and that the BoR was something of a bargaining chip that got some to agree to the Constitution. Clearly, there were some founders who had different desires.

    I am somewhat uneasy with attempts to fit all the “founders” under an umbrella of unanimity in all things political. I know that there were at least some (among the baptists and congregationalists) who were very keen on separation of church and state because of the early state-church status of churches in the colonies.

    I would agree that there is a habit, to which I am guilty, of over-simplifying the situation and conflating the members of the Philadelphia Convention under the label “The Founders". However, in this case the generic label fits, and the issue to which you refer (church-state relations) is a good example of where I am coming from.

    First, it is fair to speak of “The Founders” as having reached a decisions once a decision was, in fact, made. And the decision was made to omit a Bill of Rights from the Constitution at the convention itself. And the Federalist Papers represented the official position of the Convention as interpreted by Hamilton, Jay and Madison, as the expressed purpose of those essays was to convince New York to ratify the Constitution. The BoR emerged as a political compromise to get the states, some of whom wanted a BoR, to ratify the Constitution. That is to say, the BoR was not part of the proposal sent to the states, nor was the BoR part of compromise to get the document itself out of the convention, rather it was added after ratification of the constitution itself. Anyway, the basic point is that yes, while there was a debate, that once the conventioneers had voted out the proposed Constitution sans a BoR that it is fair to say that the consensus of the Founders was that there be no BoR.

    They did not include that declaration of rights for a variety of reasons, including the idea that Hamilton sets forth in Fed 84 that regulating or prohibiting the national government from doing something it was not granted the power to do, or even close to doing, made no sense. Further making a list has the effect, often, or limiting rights, and third the original conception of the national government was that it would be so limited as to not have the ability to really tread on the rights of citizens.

    Second, the church-state thing is quite interesting, and does illustrate, really, my basic point, which is that the original goal of pure federalism is eroded over time, and partially for reasons that Hamilton noted in my previous post, and also by actions of the SC, the addition of the 14th Amendment and so forth. The First Amendment prohibition against the establishment of religion was aimed, originally and exclusively, at the national government. Indeed, there were official churches in some of the states even after the ratification of the constitution. For example, Connecticut had an official church until 1813, and Massachusetts until 1833. They were not in violation of the First Amendment, because at the time the BoR was not interpreted to apply to the actions of states (indeed, since the First Amendment starts with “Congress shall make no law�” it is pretty clear that the original intent was for the First Amendment to apply only to the central government). It was not until the Fourteenth Amendment opened the door for the incorporation of the BoR to the states, and then not until a series of Supreme Court cases, predominantly in the 1920s and 1960s, that the BoR applied to the states (and even then, only right by right, the entire BoR is still not wholly incorporated).

    Hence, my basic point yesterday was that had there been no BoR, these issues would have not been federal ones in the first place. I am not arguing that we should repeal the BoR, but rather pointing out that they are, as they have been interpreted, part of the dilution of federalism. That is to say, by prohibiting the federal government from passing certain legislation, it became necessary for the federal courts to interpret what those prohibitions meant, which led, through a variety of processes, to the federal courts considering if/how those prohibitions should apply to states. If the prohibitions had never been put in place in the first place, then there never would have been any reason o ever discuss how they should or should not be applied to the states.

    This leads to yet another, and far longer discussion, that I will leave alone for the moment. Plus, I figure Brett will jump in soon, and maybe James :)

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    Friday, June 27, 2003
    Krauthammer on AA

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:48 pm

    Charles Krauthammer makes an excellent point in his column today in WaPo on the Michigan case. He points out that while the ruling leaves affirmative action in place, and provides a rather muddled definition of how it can be implemented, it doesn’t actually mandate the policy.

    By allowing, and not mandating, the Court leaves the possibility open, whether it intended to or not, for legislatures to do away with affirmative action. So, Texas’ 10% rule, or California’s lack of AA still stands, and either could be adopted by other states. So, as he points out, unlke Roe the Michigan AA case doesn’t take the issue out of the hands of the political process.

    Let’s remember: The court did not mandate affirmative action. It only permitted affirmative action. The people and the politicians are entirely empowered to do away with it. True, the abolition movement has slowed since its successes in California and Washington, and most of the political class - both Democratic and Republican - lacks the courage to take up the fight.

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    Techie/Web Page Authoring Question

    By Steven Taylor @ 3:13 pm

    Could someone point me in the direction of where I might learn how to have an easily updated news function for a web page (kind of like having a mini-blog nested in the page)? Is there a freeware program, or other trick that one could use for something along those lines?

    In other words, I want to have a portion of a web page that is easy to update without actually having to go into the page itself and change the actula text of the index page.

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    Hamilton was Pretty Smart

    By Steven Taylor @ 2:30 pm

    Boy was Hamilton right here. In Federalist 84 when he argued against a Bill of Rights:

    I go further, and affirm that bills of rights, in the sense and to the extent in which they are contended for, are not only unnecessary in the proposed Constitution, but would even be dangerous. They would contain various exceptions to powers not granted; and, on this very account, would afford a colorable pretext to claim more than were granted. For why declare that things shall not be done which there is no power to do? Why, for instance, should it be said that the liberty of the press shall not be restrained, when no power is given by which restrictions may be imposed? I will not contend that such a provision would confer a regulating power; but it is evident that it would furnish, to men disposed to usurp, a plausible pretense for claiming that power. They might urge with a semblance of reason, that the Constitution ought not to be charged with the absurdity of providing against the abuse of an authority which was not given, and that the provision against restraining the liberty of the press afforded a clear implication, that a power to prescribe proper regulations concerning it was intended to be vested in the national government. This may serve as a specimen of the numerous handles which would be given to the doctrine of constructive powers, by the indulgence of an injudicious zeal for bills of rights.

    In other words, if one grants protections against abuses of powers not granted, does this not infer that there may be powers not explicitly defined? Indeed, the existence of the Bill of Rights allows for disputes about what they mean. If the Founders had stuck to their original desire, the disputes over these issues would be limited to the states. However, the existence of the BoR, and especially the addition of the 14th Amendment, sets the stage for conflicts like the Texas sodomy law case, which arguably should be limited to the government of the state of Texas.

    Having noted this, I would point out that it is impossible, at this stage of our political evolution (an evolution that started with the passage of the first ten amendments), to expect that pure federalism would be in operation.

    And yes, I realize that what I am talking about, and what Hamilton is talking about in the quote is not the exact same thing. However, the general point is that the introduction of the Bill of Rights sets the stage for murkiness over their meaning, application and scope, and further, set the stage for conflicts over these issues at the national level, rather than the state level.

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    Paging Dr. Dean

    By Steven Taylor @ 12:44 pm

    Diane West has an interesting column in WaTi about Howard Dean. And here’s a rather interesting tidbit that I was unaware of:

    And speaking of controversial issues, is the Democratic Party ready to unite behind a leader who, as a med student, performed his ob-gyn rotation at a Planned Parenthood clinic? Vermont magazine reported on this in 1998, adding: “While he has never performed an abortion himself, he is strongly pro-choice and certainly understands the medical procedures involved.” This rates as the medical equivalent of not inhaling.

    The question is, why didn’t Dr. Dean, at one time on the board of Planned Parenthood, ever perform an abortion? And how does Dr. Dean, who is also an opponent of parental notification, explain Vermont’s status as one of a handful of states in which abortions may be performed by non-doctors? In 1998-the last year the state released data-183 girls under the age of 18 had abortions, more than half of them performed by non-doctors: Morality aside, is this even the healthiest option?

    I am surprised that this is first time I have heard of his direct relationship with Planned Parenthood-and certainly one which would be quite an issue in a general election campaign. And I’m with West-the morality of the issue aside for the moment-who thinks it is a good idea to let non-Doctors perform abortions?

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    By Steven Taylor @ 12:01 pm

    On the one hand the PAC’s online primary means nothing more than your typical straw poll (like the Alabama Straw Poll that selected Alan Keyes back in 1999). On the other, this one time it will have some significance, not because of the vote totals per se, as they mean nothing (I mean, gee whiz, Kucinich can in second), but because in the current absence of real news, this will get a ton of coverage. And that coverage will be largely positive for Howard Dean (something he needs after last week) and will help continue him further his standing as a front-runner. It will probably help his fund-raising as well.

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    • From Behind the Wall of Sleep linked with Straw Poll Results
    Frightening Referrer Facts

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:48 am

    It appears that there are a large number of folks out there looking for nude pics of Stripperella, and have stopped by PoliBlog in their quest, given my previous refs to the show. In short, Striperella has become my Destiny Stahl.

    And while I managed to miss the premiere (shucks!), I saw some clips on Hardball last night during a discussion of the advent of adult-oriented cartoons on standard cable channels, and having seen said clips, I am afraid that Stan Lee has not managed to avoid countering this statement: “I am a man of impeccable good taste and would never do anything that would be offensive”.

    Perhaps even more frightening is the fact that I have had a steady stream of searches looking for info on the Donald Trump personal assistant show.

    All I want to know is where is all the interest in my keen political observations? I feel so used.

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    Am I Anti-Hip, or What?

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:56 am

    I just heard a story about “Hipsters” on NPR, and surfed over to this: NPR : ‘The Hipster Handbook’. I am pretty sure that I have heard the term before, but must confess as to knowing almost nothing about this particular trend.

    Quite frankly, it sounds annoying.

    At any rate, I am almost 35, will have been married for 13 years on Monday, have three kids and live in the middle of Alabama. Meguesses that this is the very definition of anti-hip.

    And, looking at some of the quiz questions, I find that I am more than correct:

    � You graduated from a liberal arts school whose football team hasn’t won a game since the Reagan administration.

    UT may not have won a National Championship in some time, but we have won some football games. One big strike. (Plus, I went to two large state universities…, so two strikes). Plus, I like football. Indeed, I am currently in football withdrawal. I have even considered watching Arena ball. Thusfar I have resisted, however.

    � You frequently use the term “post-modern” (or its commonly used variation “PoMo") as an adjective, noun, and verb.

    To borrow an obnoxious phrase from my youth: “gag me with a spoon.” I endeavor to avoid the dreaded PoMo refs whenever possible. And like my e-colleague John Lemon, I typically use it in a derisive manner.

    � You carry a shoulder-strap messenger bag and have at one time or another worn a pair of horn-rimmed or Elvis Costello-style glasses.

    Hmm. I do have a briefcase that has a strap, but I don’t use it. And I just retired my glasses and am wearing contacts.

    � You have one Republican friend who you always describe as being your “one Republican friend.”

    Yeah, well, if you read the blog, you know the response to this one.

    � Your hair looks best unwashed and you position your head on your pillow at night in a way that will really maximize your cowlicks.

    I will take a shower in the morning, even if I took one the night before, just so my hair will go right.

    Indeed, I am terminally unhip, and proud of the fact.

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    • Modulator linked with Angelheaded Hipsters

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:47 am

    A good’un from Scott Adams:

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    Thursday, June 26, 2003

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:20 pm

    Thanks to Wrong Side of Happiness for linking to PoliBlog.

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    The Fed and the Market

    By Steven Taylor @ 1:26 pm

    I wondered the same thing: Did Fed Let Expectations Get Out of Hand? Not to mention the fact that this isn’t the first time this has happened-where expectations turned potentially good news from the Fed into bad news.

    If markets are a matter of expectations versus reality, then the Federal Reserve learned yesterday that letting expectations get out of hand can be costly.

    The Fed had spread the idea that it was sure to ease credit again yesterday, and it did. But many had concluded that the cut was going to be bigger than it was, and a result was falling stock and bond prices.

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    By Steven Taylor @ 11:42 am

    Thanks to Searchthelinks blog for adding PoliBlog to their blogroll.

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    Hitchens on Kerry

    By Steven Taylor @ 11:17 am

    In case you have yet to see it, Hitchens’ latest Slate piece, The Gullible Mr. Kerry, is worth a read.

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    • Sanity’s-Edge linked with A little slow?
    Recall Politics

    By Steven Taylor @ 11:09 am

    KausFiles reports the following in regards to the Gray Davis’ options in regards to the recall situation:

    Prof. Hasen goes to the statute books and confirms that Bob Novak was wrong-Gray Davis cannot derail a recall election by resiging, at least once the recall petitions are “filed” (whatever that means). … Davis seemingly has to make his decision fairly soon if he wants to stop the recall election.

    This updates the story as reported by OTB (which cited Novak).

    And since I haven’t weighed in on this yet, let me say that while I agree with James there is something unseemly about having a recall this soon after the election, that I still think that it is wholly legit: if the rules allow it, and if the support exists, I have no problem with the recall. Although exactly why anyone would want to be the gov at this point is beyond me…

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    Sodomy Ruling

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:58 am

    No surprise: Homosexual Sodomy Law in Texas Voided by Top Court

    The U.S. Supreme Court struck down Texas’s homosexual sodomy law, handing gay-rights advocates a victory that overturns a 1986 ruling and says people have a right to perform such sex acts in private.

    The court voted 6-3 to throw out the Texas law. The ruling also voids laws in 12 other states on grounds that adult couples can’t be prosecuted for consensual sex acts committed in private. The court overturned the 1986 Bowers v. Hardwick decision that had rejected a right under the U.S. Constitution to commit sodomy.

    Two men prosecuted by Texas “are entitled to respect for their private lives,'’ Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote for the court. “The state cannot demean their existence or control their destiny by making their private sexual conduct a crime.'’

    I will be curious as to the grounds for dissent, because I have to admit, I can see no grounds for the state to regulate the private sexual practices of consenting adults.

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    Congrats to OTB!

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:41 am

    Outside the Beltway is now a “Mortal Human” at the The Truth Laid Bear EcoSystem. So, I would to send out a strong “Congratulations” to James at this milestone.

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    Back to Gephardt

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:29 am

    Let�s put this into the perspective from which I view Representative Gephardt�s recent statement concerning the use of executive orders to �overcome� Supreme Court decisions.

  • I rank the statement on the same level at which I would rank something like �When I am President, I will use executive orders to overcome any bad thing that Congress does�. Clearly presidents cannot legislate and while they can try and find ways not to enforce a law, they do not have the power to ignore Congress. A president who set aside laws, and made his own laws, would likely be impeached. Just as a president who tried to overturn Supreme Court cases would find himself in some trouble.

    I am not a particular fan of executive orders, but acknowledge their existence (I have no choice :), but find Gephardt�s statement to be a stretch in regards to what such an order can do-and I would have a hard time with any statement, made by any candidate or any political party, which inferred that the President has the authority, by stroke of pen, to nullify the acts of another branch (aside from the veto, of course).

    Do you think President Bush can issue an Executive Order so that schools can ignore the Michigan rulings? What if Bush issued as Executive Order stating that Roe v. Wade had been voided? For one thing, there would be hell to pay, and for another, it wouldn�t work.

  • Also, Gephardt himself is now in my camp:
    “You would always try to use an executive order to overcome things that you think have been done wrong. It may not be possible to overcome a Supreme Court decision if the decision had gone the other way, but there are times in the past where presidents have done important things through executive order that were legal.”

    Now, I do concede that executive orders can be used to try to lessen the effects of a given Court ruling, as I noted yesterday in regards to the use of executive orders in the past to limit abortion counseling in federal programs. However, such a move hardly qualifies as overcoming a decision. Presidents do not have the power to overturn Supreme Court decisions. This is plainly the case.

  • In regards to Brett�s claim that I am not showing enough constitutional imagination because I understand and accept the concept of Executive Agreements and Trade Agreements, let me respond:
  • I actually am not a big fan of the Executive Agreement as a way of avoiding treaties, but 1) I cannot deny their existence, 2) they have at least been accepted by the courts and congress, so there is some consensus, and 3) at least there is a reasonable argument that one could infer such powers from the President�s stated powers in the realm of diplomacy. None of those three facts obtain to the idea of using executive orders to try to void Supreme Court decisions.
  • In regards to Trade Agreements (such as NAFTA, as negotiated and passed under �Fast Track� authority, and as now exists under �Trade Promotion Authority�)-I can accept an argument that states that such agreement should be formal treaties, and further accept an argument that if the Congress wants the President to have this authority that we should amend the constitution, however, the fact remains that, again unlike Gephardt�s comment (that I really don�t get why Brett wants to defend it so badly ;) these are settled issues, passed at various times by both Democratic and Republican majorities in the Congress, and supported by both Democratic and Republican Presidents. It is like the proverbial apples and oranges.

  • Brett�s post today is rather off the basic mark in terms of the argument. Judicial deference (whether on likes it or not) is a very different issue than the issue of the President brazenly trying to use the executive order power to �overcome� an SC ruling. Again, it is two wholly different issues. Even the examples of the Court being ignored don�t support the Gephardt statement, which infers that a President has the power to cancel out Court rulings. Plus, Gephardt was talking about domestic policy-indeed, policy outside the control of the feds in many respects (since affirmative action admissions policies are set by the individual schools). And the issue is not that there can never be conflicts between the branches, rather the issue is what specific power the President actually has vis-�-vis the Court. Or should Richard Nixon have been allowed to issue an exec order when the Court ordered him to hand over the tapes?

    Heck, if that�s the case, who cares who gets confirmed to the bench, just let the President issue some orders if he doesn�t like the way the Court rules.

    Also, as Brett notes, Eugene Volohk has been involved in the debate as well (here and, for example). James Joyner’s most recent comments is here (with a passing ref here), and the InstaOne has also commented here, here, and here).

    Also, via InstaPundit, this post on EO’s from Bill Hobbs is interesting.

    (OK, I think I am now officially tired of this one :)

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    On the Campaign Trail

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:01 am

    A round-up of quotes from the tour of the Nine:

    This is so tired:

    “We should make no mistake, this is one of the most radical agendas we’ve seen in our lifetime,” said North Carolina Sen. John Edwards

    Bush is hardly “radical"-David Duke is radical, Louis Farakhan is radical. Mainstream Reps and Dems aren’t radical. Plus, it is a wholly empty formulation-how about offering some actual ideas?

    And I love this meme (which I once addressed here and here):

    Dick Gephardt, a Missouri representative, warned the crowd: “We must take all this as seriously as the Republicans do. They play hardball. They play to win.”

    Because, as we all know, Democrats just roll over for whatever the President wants. And Republicans always win. Further, Democrats never take politics as seriously as Reps. I have decided that part of this “they play hardball, and we have to learn how to play, too” thread is a reaction to the fact that the Dems, for the first time in decades, don’t control a branch of government. It’s as if they have always been the minority party because they are just too darn nice.

    And, fairly amusing:

    Candidate Howard Dean, the former governor of Vermont, poked fun at his own tendency to shoot from the hip and apologize to his rivals later.

    “I am delighted to have all the candidates in one room so I can issue a blanket apology should one be needed later in the campaign,” Dean said, as the crowd burst into laughter.

    Source: Event Raises About $1.7 Million for Dems

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    Wednesday, June 25, 2003
    I Can’t Say That I am Disappointed

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:34 pm

    Amusing: Still no Jesse show

    Where’s Jesse?

    Five months after announcing that he would soon get his own nightly cable show on MSNBC, former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura has yet to launch the program.

    The former pro wrestler and Hollywood action star has denied rumors that his show is in trouble, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports. But MSNBC does not expect it to debut until late summer or early fall, and the lengthy rehearsal time has led to speculation that it might never happen, the newspaper reports

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    More on Gephardt

    By Steven Taylor @ 3:33 pm

    Brett responds, and so do I (in the spirit of good fun and debate). (James is in the mix as well).

    I guess it depends on what one wants to argue about. If the argument is, in an attempt to salvage some sort of sense from Gephardt�s statement, that there might, theoretically, be some way a President could do something to obviate a Supreme Court decision (like Brett�s argument that �gag orders� for abortion counseling as a way of limiting the effects, to some degree of Roe v. Wade), then ok, I will concede that part of the point.

    However, that really isn�t what Gephardt said. Rather, he made it sound like he would use the use a non-existent power of the Presidency to �overcome� (which sounds a lot like overturn) a SC decision. That is, as I said earlier, ludicrous on its face. Trying to limit or contain the effect of a SC decision is one thing, utterly �overcoming� it is wholly another.

    And I do agree with James on the fact that a President can try to do any number of things, but trying is not always succeeding.

    In this case I think that the burden in the argument is on Gephardt to explain what he thinks he is saying. I really don�t understand the point of Brett�s argument �the fact that opponents of Gephardt can’t figure out how he could issue an executive order to counter Grutter if it had gone the other way means absolutely nothing.� Actually, I think it means everything-if a candidate makes a controversial, and nonsensical statement, the burden of proof of the sense of the statement is primarily on he who made the statement.

    His counter thusfar is that Truman integrated the military with an executive order, while true, but, to my knowledge, that had nothing to do with a Supreme Court decision that Truman was “overcoming.”

    I am basically with Andrew Cline: Gephardt was pandering to the audience, and misspoke as a result.

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    By Steven Taylor @ 11:35 am

    Most Euros in Germany Carry Cocaine Traces?

    Almost all euro banknotes circulating in Germany contain traces of cocaine, scientists said on Wednesday, as notes rolled up by users to snort the illegal drug contaminate the cash system.

    “Nine out of 10 banknotes show clearly measurable amounts of cocaine,” Fritz Soergel from the Institute for Biomedical and Pharmaceutical Research in Nuremberg told Reuters on Wednesday. Some 600 euro notes were examined in the study.

    The study could not provide conclusive evidence on levels of cocaine usage in Germany and the euro zone but Soergel said there was a clear correlation between the findings and levels of recorded cocaine abuse in European countries.


    Results from a separate study the institute carried out on euro notes in Barcelona were particularly startling, he said.

    “We were almost knocked flat by what we discovered there. The concentrations of cocaine on Spanish euro notes were almost a hundred times that of what we recorded in Germany,” he said.

    An investigation in London in 1999 showed more than 99 percent of banknotes in circulation were tainted with the drug.

    Tests by the European Union on national currencies of countries now using the euro prior to its introduction in 2002, showed the deutschemark had the third highest level of cocaine contamination behind the Spanish peseta and the Irish pound.

    The prevalence of cocaine traces on paper money is often attributed to cash counting machines in banks, which mix contaminated notes with uncorrupted ones.

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    The Carnival Is Here (via Arkanas)

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:38 am

    Check out the Carnival of the Vanities #40 at A Single Guy in the South

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    Gephardt’s Gaffe

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:33 am

    Brett, Brett, Brett, let’s face facts, the basics of Gephardt’s statement does come across, on the face of it, as fairly ridiculous. While it is true that a President can make certain decisions on how policies, like abortion councilling and so forth are executed, such moves hardly constitute issuing “orders to overcome any wrong thing the Supreme Court does".

    And I would consider James’ “defense” of Gephardt to be somewhat tongue-in-cheek, although he can correct my interpretation if he likes.

    Although I would agree with him that Presidents could attempt to simply not enforce an SC ruling (although on balance I am unlikely to support such a move). As I like to point out, there aren’t any Supreme Court police to go out and enforce their rulings, they rely on the exceutive (federal and state) to do that.

    UPDATE: James responds.

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    By Steven Taylor @ 10:06 am

    Gee, and I was so sure this was going to be an Academy Award winner: ‘From Justin to Kelly’ goes from bad to worse

    If you have seen a movie so terrible, you laugh out loud at its lame content and predictability, you know what “From Justin to Kelly” is like.

    The movie, which stars American Idol winner Kelly Clarkson and runner-up Justin Guarini, opened this weekend in theaters.

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    New Linkage

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:03 am

    Thanks to the following for recently linking to/blogrolling PoliBlog:

  • Backcountry Conservative
  • Random Thoughts
  • All Day Permanent Red
  • Quidnunc
  • Hawken Blog
  • Joe’s Bull

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    Imagine That!

    By Steven Taylor @ 6:31 am

    If a network shows new shows rather than re-runs, more people watch that network. Amazing!

    One month into the postseason summer frame, the aggressive rollout of original programming is paying off for the Big Four broadcast networks.

    From May 22-June 22, the overall level of homes using television is up 2% from the comparable period last year to a 55.4 rating.

    Source: Originals Elevate Big Four After Sorry Summer of ‘02

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    By Steven Taylor @ 6:28 am

    So sayeth Mr. Buckely:

    Politics that involve the disbursement of money are exercises in redistribution. Free medicine, as defined in this space years ago, is medicine that somebody else pays for.

    And, he is correct.


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    Tuesday, June 24, 2003
    Focus Group Study Confirms Previous Theory

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:59 pm

    Some time back I made the following observation regarding Representative Dennis Kucinich. Today, I was able to have that observation empirically tested and confirmed through rigorous focus group study. When Kucinich�s picture was on the screen during the news this evening I quickly asked my six year-old: �Is that one of the Wiggles?� he studied the screen for a moment, and then quickly stated �That�s Jeff!!� and my three year-old further confirmed the observation by singing the �Wake Up, Jeff� song.

    Case closed.

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    Foot-in-Mouth Disease

    By Steven Taylor @ 3:22 pm

    Said Dean yesterday during his the official announcement of his candidacy:

    “It is a bit of a club down there,” he said. “The Democratic Party, all the candidates from Washington, they all know each other, they all move in the same circles, and what I’m doing is breaking into the country club.”


    Paul Dean is accused of driving the car while three friends broke into an outbuilding at the country club to steal beer.

    Source: Dean Regrets Quip About Club Break-In

    Hat Tip: The Michael Medved Show.

    (And it looks like Andrew Cline may have to file yet another job application).

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    By Steven Taylor @ 11:30 am

    What is Gephardt smoking? Executive orders to overturn Supreme Court decisions?

    “When I’m president, we’ll do executive orders to overcome any wrong thing the Supreme Court does tomorrow or any other day,” said Rep. Dick Gephardt of Missouri.

    And, no, Governor Dean, the usage of programs that, by definition, have to identify citizens by race is what is divisive:

    “The president has divided us,” former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean said. “He’s divided us by race by using the word ‘quotas.’ There’s no such thing as a quota at the University of Michigan, never has been.”

    Source: Democrats pledge support for affirmative action regardless of how Supreme Court rules

    Hat tip for the Gephardt quote: Cam Edwards

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    • Rhetorica: Press-Politics Journal linked with : My (not so) formal application, part 2...
    One of those Other SC Rulings

    By Steven Taylor @ 11:23 am

    While most of the attention is going to the affirmative action ruling, which has been well covered by OTB, the library porn-filter case is interesting as well, although not for any of the reasons it is being discussed (i.e., the �it�s protecting our children� v. �it�s censorship, man� debate).

    No, what is likely not discussed in most news stories concerning this ruling is that there is a key way that libraries can still allow unfiltered access to the net: stop taking federal money. Since 1999 Congress has dispersed about $1 billion in technology subsidies to public libraries, and starting in 2000 the libraries had to use anti-porn filters if they want their share of the money. The lawsuit before the Court was whether Congress could force libraries to adhere to the filter requirement in order to receive the funds. So the interesting thing is that if libraries don�t want to use the filters, they don�t have to take the money.

    However, I would wager that they will continue to take the cash, given that they need the cash. This illustrates the main way by which Congress has expanded its power in the last century: offer money, attach strings to the money, and then threaten to yank back the dollars if certain policies aren�t followed. This is how the Congress lowered the speed limit nationwide to 55 in the 1970s (by threatening to withdraw highway funds) and how they raised the drinking age nationally to 21 (also via highway funds). They are able to do these things (it is also how the feds insinuate themselves into public education) because states voluntarily accept the money-not because Congress has any constitutional authority over the velocity of vehicles, the age at which one can imbibe alcohol, or what citizens can view at libraries.

    In short, Congress derives a great deal of its power these days not directly through the US Constitution, but rather through the approximately $2 trillion in tax revenue it collects, and spends, each year.

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    • A Single Guy In The South linked with Carnival Of The Vanities Goes Back Roadin'
    I’m So Confused

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:00 am

    I thought Kevin Drum said that Bush was “uninterested in compromise”. Although, I do recall that someone else pointed out that he was really more a pragmatist.

    President Bush raised the pressure today on Congress to pass a Medicare drug bill this week, even as conservatives in his own party criticized the legislation and pushed for changes.


    The bipartisan Senate legislation would open Medicare to more private plans, but would also, in a bid for Democratic support, extensively regulate those plans in an effort to protect beneficiaries. That fundamental compromise has drawn fire from the left and the right.

    The Bush administration, which has formally endorsed the Senate bill, is intent on breaking the five-year gridlock on Medicare drug legislation and signing a bill into law this year. Mr. Bush, speaking to a biotechnology industry group today, urged lawmakers to “take a tough vote, if need be, to modernize a system which needs to be saved.”

    Mr. Bush also said, “If we finally put aside partisan politics and focus on what’s right for American seniors, I believe we can achieve the goal this year.”


    Indeed, while I not a big fan of this particular policy, from an analytical point of view the entire affair fits into the argument that I have made all along about Bush-he set specific goals, and is willing to compromise to obtain them. He promised a prescription drug benefit during the campaign, and he is attempting to deliver.

    Although, if one is a Bush critic, I suppose that one could take the Gabler/Drum thesis linked to above and state that the only reason that Bush is pushing this is that he is trying to take an issue away from the Democrats only for election-related reasons. But if that was the case, why not push the plan that the Republicans in Congress wanted? It would have passed, but rather I think that this is another example of Bush as pragmatic shepherd of public policy, not “a furious political animal who is uninterested in compromise and whose main goal is to defeat his enemies, not advance a cause".

    Source: Bush Seeks Medicare Drug Bill That Conservatives Oppose

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    See, I Told You it was Weird

    By Steven Taylor @ 7:44 am

    Apaprently, someone has been reading PoliBlog:

    Even financial market veterans feel a general sense of unease in the topsy-turvy times.

    “This is the weirdest environment I’ve ever seen,'’ said Joe Corona, chief market trader at Dynamic Hedge fund managed with legendary stock options expert Anthony Saliba in Chicago. “It feels the way it feels when a tornado is forming. It gets quiet and the sky turns dark and everything is greenish. It feels weird.'’

    Of course, no attribution!

    Source: Anticipated rate cut by Fed only adding to `weird’ climate

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    Monday, June 23, 2003
    Things That Suck

    By Steven Taylor @ 6:06 pm

    Example: not having a ‘net connection at home for hours and hours because some nimrod somewhere accidentally cut a fiberoptic cable.

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    The Exasperated Professor Returns

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:54 am

    The Exasperated Professor asks: why is it when a student does poorly, said student will often act as if I abducted them and made them take my class?

    Somehow it is my fault that they need a near-perfect score on the final to earn a “C” and the fact that that failed to do two of the four assignments, did very poorly on the second exam, and are frequently late or absent had nothing to do with it.

    And further, why must said student waste my time with circular argumentation not unlike what the Exasperated Professor posted earlier in his role as Bemused Father?

    The Exasperated Professor will be quite pleased when the Term is over with�

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    So What’s He Been Doing the Last Several Months?

    By Steven Taylor @ 6:28 am

    I know this is how it works, but it is still a bit silly:

    After a smash-hit opening act, former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean returns home on Monday to formally launch his presidential campaign and begin the job of proving he is more than a one-note anti-war candidate.

    I mean, as if he wasn’t already running? This is just an artifact of all the arcane rules governing campaign finance and media treatment of candidates than anything else. In other words, this is more an announcement of a move from one legal category to another than some dramatic statement of intent.

    Source: Dean to Launch White House Campaign in Vermont

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    Three Year-Olds: Walking Tautologies

    By Steven Taylor @ 6:22 am

    Middle Son: (holding plastic cup of Coke from the restaurant): I want it [the lid] off.

    Me: No son, leave it on, we don’t want to spill your drink.

    Middle Son: But I want it off.

    Me: Why do you want it off?

    Middle Son: Because I want it off!

    Me: I know you want it off, but is there a reason you want it off? Is something wrong?

    Middle Son: I want it off because I want it off.

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    • linked with This Sounds Familiar
    Sunday, June 22, 2003
    And this is a Surprise Because?

    By Steven Taylor @ 7:39 am

    Shocking: Criticism of Drug Benefit Is Simple: It’s Bewildering, because normally when the feds get involved in a massive new benefit, it is typically streamlined, efficient and easy to understand. Not to mention the fact that Congress always writes parsimonious and crystal clear legislation normally, correct?

    This complexity, they say, may be daunting and confusing to beneficiaries, and even to insurance companies, which are supposed to manage the new benefits.

    More shocks: having to compromise is part of what generated the complexity. Imagine that.

    Much of the complexity results from an effort to find a grand compromise on one of the longest-running divisions in American social policy: how much to trust the government and how much to trust the market. New rules to protect beneficiaries are grafted onto a bill intended to create a vibrant new health insurance market for the elderly.

    And, no joke:

    Some lawmakers point out that complexity is nothing new in American health care. “Medicare, by definition, is an incredibly complex mosaic,” said Senator Judd Gregg, Republican of New Hampshire. “It’s got tens of thousands of moving parts. Any legislation dealing with it will have to be complex.”

    Again, this is hardly new:

    Still, lawmakers say, the 654-page Senate bill is a formidable challenge. “No one understands what the heck this bill says or will do,” Mr. Gregg said as he emerged from a Republican caucus this week.

    Representative Cal Dooley, Democrat of California, said, “People will have to have an accountant to figure out what the premiums are and what the benefits are.” Representative Sherrod Brown, Democrat of Ohio, said he was “still trying to understand the Rube Goldberg way the bill was put together.”

    This complexity, they say, may be daunting and confusing to beneficiaries, and even to insurance companies, which are supposed to manage the new benefits.

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    Friedman on Iran

    By Steven Taylor @ 7:31 am

    Friedman’s column today, Buy One, Get One Free, is on target in regards to what our biggest weapon is vis-a-vis Iran, and that is Iraq. He rightly argues that if we can help build pluralistic democracy in Iraq, one that makes life better for the Shiite majority in Iraq, then that will have long-term, and profound, impacts on the development of the Iran situation.

    Some key snippets:

    The truth is we have very few tools to influence events in Iran, and even if we had more it’s not clear we’d know how to use them. But there is one huge tool we do control that will certainly have an impact on Iran: It’s called Iraq.

    Iraq, like Iran, is a majority Shiite country, with myriad religious links with Iran. If the Bush team could make a psychological and political breakthrough with Iraqi Shiites, and be seen as helping them build a progressive, pluralistic state in Iraq, it would have a big impact on Iran � much bigger than anything America alone could say or do.

    And I think this is correct, as much as I would like it to be otherwise:

    No one should have any illusions that Iran’s Islamic theocracy is about to fold tomorrow. Iran’s clerical rulers are tough and ruthless and have a monopoly of power.

    And ultimately, this is on target:

    We do not want the story in Iran to be America versus the Ayatollahs. We want the story to be the Iranian people versus the Ayatollahs, and the best way to foster that is by showing Iranians that there is another way and it’s happening right next door. In short, America’s intervention in Iraq is a two-for-one sale: improve Iraq, improve Iran. Buy one, get one free. Mess up one, mess up the other.

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    PoliColumn: On Judicial Nominees

    By Steven Taylor @ 7:11 am

    I have a new column in today’s Mobile Register concerning the current fight over President Bush’s judicial nominees:

    Judiciary hot seat

    Special to the Register

    The biggest political fight currently brewing in Washington is not over the question of Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction. It is over a series of appointments made by President Bush to the U.S. Courts of Appeal.

    Read the whole thing here.

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    Saturday, June 21, 2003
    Well, Isn’t That Sweet

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:33 pm

    Ben & Jerry’s Ben Backs Kucinich

    Presidential candidate Howard Dean may have his own Ben & Jerry’s sundae, but one of his Democratic rivals got the endorsement of his home state’s ice cream company founder.

    Ben Cohen, who with Jerry Greenfield founded Ben & Jerry’s Homemade ice cream in Burlington, Vt., said Friday that he is supporting Rep. Dennis Kucinich (news, bio, voting record) of Ohio.

    Describing himself as a Vermonter, entrepreneur, Grateful Dead fan and longtime peace advocate, Cohen said only Kucinich represents the values most important to him.

    “While others discuss incremental change, only Dennis Kucinich advocates changing the way our government is run in order to reflect the values of America’s people,” Cohen said.

    Somehow I am thinking that of all the candidates running, Kucinich comes the least close to representing the values of the median US voter.

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    More on the Founders and Faction

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:31 am

    (As I was writing this I received a trackback ping from OTB, where James has also dealt with Fed 10�indeed, I cut short the post as James cites several of the passages from Fed 10 I was going to reference).

    Some clarification and amplification is in order regarding my post on factions/parties and the Founders. I did not mean to state that the Founders did not understand the natural proclivity of masses to divide into factions, rather I was arguing that the did not understand the profound importance in a representative government of institutionalized political parties. Indeed, that is not really a surprise insofar as there really had not yet been a functioning mass representative government in the world (although parties had formed in Britain).

    Madison was quite aware of the causes of faction, as he wrote in Federalist 10:

    Liberty is to faction what air is to fire, an aliment without which it instantly expires.

    And, as is pointed on in the text, Madison does not wish to do away with liberty. Rather, the whole constitutional design of the US government is set up, as I made reference to yesterday, to control the passions and ambitions of men and groups so that no one faction can dominate the rest. As such, the current fight between the President and the factions in the Senate is by design, I would argue.

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    Friday, June 20, 2003
    Abortion Politics

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:19 pm

    Brett Marston seems to be implying that my skepticism regarding the Democrat’s willingness to compromise on abortion is a bit too strong.

    As I was contemplating this, I ran across this story via Drudge: Kerry says he’ll filibuster Supreme Court nominees who do not support abortion rights

    Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry said Friday that he is prepared to block any Supreme Court nominee who would not uphold the Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion.

    “I am prepared to filibuster, if necessary, any Supreme Court nominee who would turn back the clock on a woman’s right to choose or the constitutional right to privacy, on civil rights and individual liberties and on the laws protecting workers and the environment,” Kerry said in remarks via satellite at a meeting of Democratic party officials in St. Paul, Minn.

    “The test is basic - any person who thinks it’s his or her job to push an extreme political agenda rather than to interpret the law should not be a Supreme Court justice.”

    I would interpret that to mean anyone who is pro-life. And, it doesn’t sound very compromising, if you aks me :)

    Although, to be fair, abortion is a very difficult issue to compromise on. However, since the Democratic Party has been unwilling, on balance, to even take the relatively small step to outlaw partial birth abortions (a procedure the pro-choice side states doesn’t really happen anyway), it is difficult to see where any compromise will take place.

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    Political Parties and the Founding Fathers

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:04 pm

    Brett Marston points out that part of the problem in the judicial nomination process is the existence of political parties-the formation of which was something the Founding Fathers weren’t too keen on. I agree with him in part (no pun intended).

    I agree that the Founders spoke derogatorily about parties (or “faction"). However, I disagree that the they faced a radically different political reality than we face now. It was different in degree, but not in structure.

    I have long argued that the one thing that the Founding Fathers got wrong was the issues of parties. Parties are, in my opinion an automatic outgrowth of representative government and legislative policy-making (an opinion that can well be backed-up empirically).

    Even if we go back to late 18th century America, the presence of faction is clear. For example, look at the Philadelphia Convention:

  • Small States v. Large States
  • North v. South
  • Those who wanted centralization v. those who wanted to maintain the confederacy.
  • Slave v. non-Slave
  • and so forth

    Each represents a �party� (in the traditional definition of the term as a �part� of the whole (see Sartori 1976, for example)). And, of course, there was the Federalists and Anti-Federalists, i.e., the pro-Constitution and Anti-Constitution parties, not to mention the nigh-immediate formation in the Congress of the Federalists around Hamilton and the Democratic-Republicans around Jefferson.

    I would argue that is as close to a political science law as you can get to say that legislative bodies produce factions, and hence parties. Really, one could extend that to any situation where multiple persons will be voting on an issue. Unless there is unanimity, there will be a �pro� party and an �anti� party. And if voting on issues becomes routinized, e.g., in a legislative body, those parties will begin to institutionalize. There is no representative democracy in the world that does not have political parties.

    And back to the issue of whether politics then was different than politics now in the area of judicial nominations, all one has to do is look at the political conflict between President Adams and President Jefferson that manifested as Marbury v. Madison to illustrate that power struggles over nominees is nothing new in American politics.

    Although, I may be misinterpreting Brett�s argument, if he is of the opinion that James of OTB has summarized his views correctly.

    Regardless of Brett�s position, I do think that the Founders, who had, in my opinion, some true political geniuses in their number, blew it on the question of how �faction� would affect politics, at least in terms of the manifestation and role of political parties.

    Although I would argue that weren�t unaware of it. The design of the Congress takes into account the idea that different factions (large and small state) would necessarily come into conflict, given that the large states could dominate the House, and the small the Senate. If one reads Federalist 51 it is clear that Madison expected narrow interests to be present in the new government, and that separation of powers and checks and balances were there to reign those interests in. He also references the division of the Congress into two chambers as a check on unbridled political ambition as well.

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    Hmm, Can We Say “Pack Rat"?

    By Steven Taylor @ 5:10 pm

    I loathe throwing away stuff that, at one time, cost me some serious money. However, I did finally decide today that it was time to chuck my Windows 3.1 disks, Microsoft Works for 3.1 disks, and especially those DOS 6.1 upgrade disks.

    The sale, for $10.00, at a yard sale, of my old 486, pre-CD-ROM drive laptop helps me part with these gems of the past.

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    New Press Sec Names

    By Steven Taylor @ 3:39 pm

    Austin native Scott McClellan named presidential press secretary:

    President Bush on Friday named Austin native Scott McClellan, son of Texas Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn, to one of the most stressful and influential jobs in Washington-presidential press secretary.

    Bush made the announcement Friday afternoon, stopping briefly before reporters on the White House south lawn before boarding a helicopter with McClellan for a campaign trip to Georgia.

    “I’ve known Scott a long time and I look forward to working with him,” Bush said Friday.

    McClellan, 35, is a graduate of Austin High and the University of Texas. He learned politics at the knee of his mother, a school board member, Austin mayor, state railroad commissioner and now comptroller. McClellan grew up in the back room of the City Council chambers and remembers, as a third-grader, speaking into a car-mounted public address system to implore listeners to “please vote for my mother.”

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    By Steven Taylor @ 1:41 pm

    I was just pouring myself a fine cup of coffee, and in so doing accidentally splashed some coffee onto my hand. And you know what? That stuff was hot! Indeed, the skin between the thumb and forefinger of my left hand is currentl red! It kind of stings, too. Now, there is no warning label on my coffee pot, coffee maker or coffee cup that warns me of the temperature of said beverage. And I was not warned by the brewer of the coffee that it might be hot (of course, I try not to talk to myself overly much).

    Now, as memory serves, some woman got $2 million or so for no being properly warned about the temperature of a hot cup o’ joe, and I recall Kramer on Seinfeld won a lifetime supply of lattes for the same sort of deal. So, I ask, any lawyers out there? Stuart Buck? Tiger? Volokh? (like he reads my site…)…any takers?

    I smell money! (or is that burning flesh?…oh, it’s just the calming aroma of coffee. Hmmm, coffee…)

    Well, back to work.

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    Isn’t This Charming

    By Steven Taylor @ 1:12 pm

    Always nice to see leftist guerrillas looking out for the helpless in society:

    Karina Ruiz was resting in bed after church on Good Friday when armed kidnappers burst into her home and hustled her off to the mountains, ignoring her family’s pleas to leave her be.

    Colombia suffers 3,000 kidnappings a year, the world’s highest rate. But Ruiz’s case highlights an even more disturbing trend - she is 81 years old.

    With Colombians in growing numbers fleeing the country or being bankrupted by ransom payments, the kidnapping industry is running out of victims and for at least the past two years even the elderly haven’t been safe. At least 55 people over age 65 are being held. The oldest known victim in captivity is an 84-year-old man.


    The family says the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, has made contact four times, threatening to kill Ruiz if no ransom is paid. The FARC, which has been fighting the government for 39 years, is behind most kidnappings in Colombia. It professes to be ideologically leftist but is regarded by many Colombians as a large criminal gang.

    The Ruiz family says the FARC wants a ransom of $425,000. Ruiz’s 13 children range from a teacher to a successful businessman, but they say that even their combined resources can’t amass that amount of money.

    As the rebels took Ruiz - allowing only brief hugs and kisses with her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren - she grabbed a crucifix and told her family not to pay any ransom. Nonetheless they have tried to negotiate payment, but with no success.

    Source: Colombian kidnappers, running out of victims, turn to the elderly

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    Stan Lee: Dirty Old Man?

    By Steven Taylor @ 12:24 pm

    Oh, my word. Striperella is a Stan Lee creation! You know, the guy who created Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, the Hulk, the X-Men, just to name a few?

    “I thought: ‘Wouldn’t it be fun to have a superheroine who’s really an exotic dancer in a gentleman’s club?’ ” says creator Stan Lee, the legendary comic book writer who co-created Spider-Man in 1960s.

    And in the “ridiculous on the face of it” category:

    “They [the network] know that I am a man of impeccable good taste and would never do anything that would be offensive,” says Lee.


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    Spike Continues to Win

    By Steven Taylor @ 12:20 pm

    I continue to maintain that 1) I am amazed that now two courts have sided with Spike Lee on this, and 2) this is one stupid name for a TV network.

    Lee had sought and won an injunction after telling a lower court that the name change was a deliberate attempt to hijack his name, image and reputation.

    A five-judge panel of the state Supreme Court’s Appellate Division rejected Viacom’s request to void the lower-court ruling and let it proceed with the name change. The judges scheduled a hearing before a full appellate bench for the first week in September.

    I think Viacom needs a new market-research firm:

    Viacom said it wanted to change TNN’s name to Spike TV to try to attract more men to an audience that is already about two-thirds male.

    Of course, with stellar fare like this, how could Spike Lee not want to be associated with this network?

    Among the network’s planned fare: “Stripperella,” an animated series featuring Pamela Anderson as the voice of an undercover operative who is also a stripper.


    Source: Court stands by Lee in Spike TV dispute - Jun. 20, 2003

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    Did Bush Lie?

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:11 am

    The �Bush lied� crowd is wondering (for example: here and here) why there isn�t any outrage on the WMD issue. Why, they ask, isn�t it obvious that the President knowingly misled the nation? John Kerry is currently trying to stoke the fires of this issue.

    There is a simple answer (indeed, there are many, but this is the bottom line): people understand that it is entirely possible for a person, who is already predisposed to a particular position to be honestly persuaded by evidence that supports their position, and to discount evidence that refutes their position. Indeed, we all do this all the time.

    Absolute certainty is a rarity in life, and especially in intelligence/foreign policy.

    Indeed, I would argue that the great irony here is that the �Bush is lying� folks are doing the exact thing: they see the deviation between what the President said and what has been found in Iraq and have come to the conclusion that they prefer: that Bush is lying. In so doing they are rejecting the other, reasonable, possibilities. If it ends up they are wrong, can we, in turn, say they were lying? (Keeping mind that lying means a conscious and deliberate misstatement of the truth, often to benefit oneself).

    I know I supported the war, so am already predisposed to this position. However, as a political scientist I am used to the fact that political life is not simple causality, and that when there are as many variables as were present in the Iraq situation, that outcomes are not going to be exactly as predicted. Reality always has a way of deviating from theory.

    Now, I still do think, as I said in my most recent News column, that there are problems here with the intelligence. Clearly, the weapons were not where we thought they were, and there remains an issue as to where they were, are, or whether they existed the way we thought they did.

    However, these facts do not sum up to the obvious conclusion that the administration lied, or even consciously misled. The only way to believe that is to want the evidence to demonstrate that this is the case. Imagine that.

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    • The World Around You linked with Bush Lied?
    Cam Makes the Big Time

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:40 am

    Cam Edwards, OK radio talk show host (that’s Oklahoma, I am not saying he is just “ok"), and member of PoliBlog’s blogroll and one of PoliBlogger’s Boosters(i.e., one of my 12 regular readers), has been mentioned in Howard Kurtz media column in WaPo. (O’Reilly’s Online Spanking):

    Blogger Cam Edwards: “Do you think Bill would accuse me of telling lies if I said he’s a big ol’ weenie? Because in my book, whining and making excuses about your radio show being dropped is a weenie thing to do.”

    Congrats to Cam!

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    Jay Solo Has Moved

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:16 am

    Go visit the New and Improved (i.e., non-B*S) Jay Solo’s Verbosity

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    Thursday, June 19, 2003
    Most Odd

    By Steven Taylor @ 4:42 pm

    This story, US Truck Driver Pleads Guilty to Al Qaeda Support, qualifies as rather bizarre:

    An Ohio truck driver, who met Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan and plotted to destroy the Brooklyn Bridge, has pleaded guilty to providing support to the al Qaeda network, U.S. officials said on Thursday.

    Iyman Faris, a truck driver based in Columbus who entered the United States in 1994 and became a U.S. citizen five years later, admitted as part of the plea deal that he gave al Qaeda information about possible U.S. targets for attack, they said.

    And someone please tell Senator Bob Graham that we do still appear to be fighting the War on Terror.

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    More Fun In Texas Politics

    By Steven Taylor @ 1:15 pm

    And, no doubt, the national Democrats will soon say it was Dubya’s fault. :)

    Comptroller rejects two-year state budget:

    Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn rejected the state’s $117.4 billion budget on Thursday, sending the two-year spending plan back to the House of Representatives to rewrite before the end of the current fiscal year on Aug. 31.

    “This is the first time a Legislature has sent the comptroller a budget that is not balanced,” Strayhorn said. “I cannot certify this budget because it is $185,900,000 short.”

    The state constitution requires that the Legislature pass a balanced budget and it cannot be sent to the governor’s desk to sign into law without the comptroller’s OK.

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    And the Point Would Be?

    By Steven Taylor @ 11:26 am

    There are many things in the world I don’t understand, and this has to be rather high on the list:

    Three more Iranians set themselves on fire in European capitals today in protest at a crackdown on an exile group in France, and Parisian police detained nearly 100 people to prevent further attempts at self-immolation.

    A total of seven Iranians have set themselves ablaze since massive raids on the French offices of the Mujahedeen Khalq, which fiercely opposes the Muslim clerical government in Iran.

    To me, it makes even less sense (far less, in fact) than suicide bombings-at least there you have a shot at taking out an enemy.

    Source: Three more Iranians set themselves ablaze

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    The Liberal Network

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:36 am

    Howard Kurtz comments on the Gore-led initiative to create the anti-Rush, anti-Fox Liberal media empire that Time is reporting on this week.

    He hits the rather obvious nail on the head in regards to the underlying problem with this idea:

    More important, perhaps, is that there’s a built-in conservative audience that feels alienated from what it views as the liberal media establishment of ABC-CBS-NBC-New York Times-Washington Post-CNN etc. They hungered for the alternative delivery system that talk radio and Fox provide. There may not be a comparable left-leaning audience that is deeply dissatisfied with the mainstream press. If there was, more liberal radio hosts would undoubtedly be thriving.

    The whole situation is about markets. However, I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that liberal democrats don’t understand, or at least want to ignore, the power of the marketplace.

    And the following snippet from the Time piece is hilarious:

    However, some liberals point to the success of Hillary Clinton’s just-released memoir as evidence that a marketplace exists for their viewpoint.

    The book’s obvious selling point is the scandal angle, not Mrs. Clinton’s ideological views. For that matter the book is not billed as a discussion of her philosophies of government, but as a memoir of her political life, especially her time in the White House. That hardly qualifies as an example of an untapped liberal market. Even her ratings-getters on Barbara Walters was because people wanted to hear how she dealt with the Monica question, not what her public policy views are.

    And this epitomizes courage, does it not?

    What role Gore himself would play in any of these ventures is still far from clear. “He can pull out at any time,” says one associate who has spoken to him about the concept. “He can say, ‘This isn’t my deal.’ But he’s interested.” Gore has been exploring and encouraging several types of possibilities in recent months, and consulting closely with Joel Hyatt, the founder of Hyatt Legal Services, a nationwide chain of low-cost, storefront legal clinics.

    Source: Gore TV, Coming Soon?

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    Hillary in ‘08

    By Steven Taylor @ 7:58 am

    Michael Barone predicts that Hillary will indeed run in 2008 in today’s WSJ.

    The following comments on public perception of the Clintons is of interest:

    Many Democrats, focusing on Bill Clinton’s job ratings from 1996 through 2000, take the view that the Clinton presidency was overwhelmingly popular. But Mr. Clinton’s personal standing after the Monica Lewinsky affair became public was overwhelmingly negative, and his wife (despite her widely disbelieved claims in her recent book that she believed his denial of involvement with Ms. Lewinsky) carries some of that baggage. Moreover, much of Mr. Clinton’s popularity was due to the perception that he was a “third way” Democrat, supporting free trade, welfare reform and Social Security reform. But since he left office, Democrats have almost unanimously rejected those stands; it is as if the “third way” never existed.

    Sen. Clinton does claim from time to time to be a “third way” Democrat, and perhaps she will construct a “third way” platform for 2008. But in her previous period of sway over public policy, when she was superintending the administration’s health-care financing bill in 1993 and 1994, she took quite a different course. The consequences for her party were disastrous. When Mr. Clinton took office in 1993, Democrats had big majorities in both houses of Congress and among governors. They lost those majorities in 1994 and, except in the Senate for 18 months, have not got them back.

    Barone is quite correct about President Clinton’s numbers. If one looks at the complete question sets, one finds that while people were happy with the direction in which the country was going, and therefore answered affirmatively to the question of whether Clinton was doing a good job, all his personal numbers were in the tank (20s and 30s-about his character, his truthfulness, etc.). In short, his popularity was a mixed bag, far more than his main number would indicate.

    And one guesses that Hillary on parade in a non-controlled fashion will probably result in her negatives going up. She has been playing in the softball fields of Larry King and Barabara Walters. The real press won’t be so kind (I don’t think Tim Russert would be asking her if she was a “saint” as Walters did). Plus, if she ran for president, I don’t think she could manage to totally ignore more hostile reporters from Fox News and the like.

    And if she does run, her roll in the health care reform debacle will be scrutinized like it has never been scrutinized before, and if Brad DeLong’s comments comes anywhere close to reflecting what the reality of that process was, then that will be a liability, to be sure:

    My two cents’ worth-and I think it is the two cents’ worth of everybody who worked for the Clinton Administration health care reform effort of 1993-1994-is that Hillary Rodham Clinton needs to be kept very far away from the White House for the rest of her life. Heading up health-care reform was the only major administrative job she has ever tried to do. And she was a complete flop at it. She had neither the grasp of policy substance, the managerial skills, nor the political smarts to do the job she was then given. And she wasn’t smart enough to realize that she was in over her head and had to get out of the Health Care Czar role quickly.

    UPDATE: James of OTB blogged this story as well, and since he was nice enough to trackback my posting, and especially because he noted how he agreed with me, I figured I’d trackback him as well :)

    Source: OpinionJournal

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    Wednesday, June 18, 2003

    By Steven Taylor @ 1:54 pm

    Perry calls special legislative session :

    Gov. Rick Perry has called a special session of the Texas Legislature for this summer to consider redrawing congressional boundaries, an emotional issue that ignited partisan warfare last month and led to a Democratic walkout.

    Official word came in letters sent by courier to the offices of House Speaker Tom Craddick and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst.

    The session would begin June 30 and last up to 30 days. The session may be opened up to what Mr. Perry termed other �important matters,� but the only one specified in his call was redistricting.

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    Update: Bias in Entertainment

    By Steven Taylor @ 11:50 am

    Here�s the updated list of liberals as good guys and conservatives as bad guys movie/tv list. I found the name of one of the Senator-based shows, the James Garner Supreme Court show and have added another Supreme Court-based show. Also, Lance John Romanoff suggested two additions:

  • The American President
  • The West Wing
  • Dave
  • Citizen Baines (the James Cromwell ex-Senator show)
  • The other Senator show I cannot find the name of.
  • First Monday (the James Garner SC show)
  • The Court�the protagonist of the show, played by Sally Fields, was described as a �centrist� who, however, has �progressive leanings.� I never saw the show, so do not know how the conservatives were portrayed.

    The following were suggested by Lance Jonn Romanoff:

  • Bulworth
  • The Contender

    Still no suggestions for a cons as good guys, libs as bad guy example.

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    Even More Exasperation�

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:54 am

    Another scenario: say that one took a class from a specific professor, and in that class one was granted an �incomplete� due to medical reasons. Let�s further say that one then failed to even show up on the appointed dates, let alone do the work needed to complete the incomplete, hence resulting in a failing grade. And let�s say that one burned up a LOT of good will with that professor in this process (and with all the of professors in the department, for that matter). THEN, one decides to take another course from the same professor. One then comes to that professor�s office 35 minutes before a paper is due and states that one needs an extension because one has been �busy�. Should one expect said professor to grant such leniency? Especially when the rules posted (scroll down to �deadlines/due dates�) by said professor are quite clear? Moreover, should one be surprised when said professor fails to grant the extension?

    An exasperated professor wonders.

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    The Exasperated Professor Asks�

    By Steven Taylor @ 7:54 am

    If one were in a class, and on the syllabus the professor omitted the chapter number for a particular day’s worth of lectures, but had the lecture title down as “Congress” and the course was American National Government, do you think one could figure out what chapter one was supposed to read (especially when one has a single text book for the class)?

    An exasperated Professor wants to know.

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    The Question Is: Why?

    By Steven Taylor @ 6:34 am

    I mean, nude volleyball and tennis sounds, well, potentially rather painful…

    At Nude Youth Camp, Skin Is Bare but Lust Is Verboten

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    Tuesday, June 17, 2003
    Another Nominee in the Crosshairs

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:08 pm

    Another Appeals Court nominee is facing a likely filibuster. And notice what the key objection is in the statements below.

    Kuhl’s opponents say that as a pro-life Catholic and attorney, Kuhl argued to overturn Roe v. Wade. She supported tax-exempt status for Bob Jones University (search), which was criticized during the 2000 presidential campaign for its segregationist student social policies. She also dismissed an invasion of privacy case where a woman’s breast exam was witnessed by a drug company salesman.

    “She has repeatedly made stands against civil rights, women’s right to choose, and we believe she is out of step with mainstream American thought,” said Martha Swiller of Planned Parenthood (search) in Los Angeles.

    But of course there’s the following:

  • But Kuhl has heavy support in California’s legal circles, where 100 judges, many of them Democrats, have written Congress in support of her nomination.
  • “[Kuhl’s critics] have taken certain cases she’s been involved in as a lawyer and have, from those, assumed at the end of the day she could not be fair, and I don’t agree with them on that,” said Gretchen Nelson of the Los Angeles County Bar Association.
  • Civil rights attorney Leo Terrell, a member of both the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (search) and the American Civil Liberties Union (search), says Kuhl was amazingly fair during his racial bias case.
  • Feinstein [who opposes the nomination] acknowledges, though, that she has never received more letters from sitting judges in support of a judicial candidate.

    And while I agree that the breast exam case is a bit odd, it is hardly a disaqualifier. Furrther, I am no fan of Bob Jones U, but again, a disqualification? As with Estrada, Owen and Pryor the issue here is clearly abortion.

    Source: (although I actually heard about the story the first time on NPR over a week ago).

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    By Steven Taylor @ 1:19 pm

    Thanks to The World Around You for blogrolling PoliBlog.

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    Dean Speaks the Truth

    By Steven Taylor @ 11:30 am

    Someone once said that a “gaffe” is defined is when a politician accidentally speaks the truth (in bold below). As such, Howard Dean committed a gaffe and had to apologize for it:

    Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean said Monday he regretted making a disparaging remark about Democratic presidential rival Bob Graham’s chances in the race for the White House.

    Earlier in the day, Dean said at a business leaders luncheon he is the only major Democratic presidential hopeful with experience appointing judges.


    “Bob Graham is a wonderful, decent human being, but at this time he’s in single digits in all the states you can’t be in single digits in,” he said. “I have enormous respect for Bob Graham, but at this point he’s not one of the top-tier candidates. I think that’s widely recognized.

    Source: Dean calls Graham lower-tier candidate

    Hat tip: Drudge.

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    Another Challenge

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:34 am

    Today appears to be Challenge Day at PoliBlog:

    The Leahy letter I discussed yesterday raises a question that I asked in the comments section, and raised in another post, but thought I would re-iterate and raise here-to wit: would the Democrats in the Senate be willing to accept a pro-life nominee that emerged as the result of the consultations that Leah requested? Or, will any pro-life nominee be labeled as a “radical right-wing” candidate?

    My guess is that any nominee who is considered by the Democrats to be potentially pro-life (like Estrada, they don’t know for sure, but because he is Catholic…), will be deemed unacceptable. Now, this is why I viewed the Leahy letter somewhat cynically, as I am not convinced that there is actual potential for compromise here. Which gets down to the bottom line: a pro-life president is going to nominate pro-life judges, and a pro-choice president is going to nominate pro-choice judges. Both sides have to live with this fact.

    And as important as I think that the abortion question is, it should not be the issue which holds the process hostage by essentially reducing the debate to a binary argument.

    So, the challenge is this: can any one credibly argue that the Democrats are actually willing to compromise on this issue, or is Leahy�s letter an empty gesture?

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    Bias in Entertainment?

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:18 am

    The post yesterday concerning media bias got me to thinking about a different kind of media bias, one that pervades entertainment, where I think a clear bias does exist. Indeed, I can think of several issues along these lines (such as the general portrayal of evangelical Christians on TV and in the movies), but I was specifically thinking this morning about the portrayal of conservatives and liberals in political movies and TV shows. I could not think of an example of a conservative being cast in a good light (and certainly never a liberal in a bad light) in a movie or TV show, but could think of numerous pro-liberal portrayals (with commensurate bad guys being the conservatives).

    So, I thought I would challenge the audience to either add to my list of pro-liberal portrayals, or help me out with some pro-conservative ones.

    Some pro-lib/anti-con examples:

  • American President
  • The West Wing
  • Dave�it was pretty obvious that Dave was a nice, pro-little guy liberal, and the President he replaced (along with the Chief of Staff who was pulling strings) were supposed to be mean, money-grubbing, pro-business conservatives.
  • That Supreme Court show (with James Garner) they tried a few years back on CBS�the libs were reasonable and thoughtful, the cons were boors who leered at women or who talked more about football than the law.
  • There was a show about a Senator (that didn�t last long) on a year or so ago�he was a lib. Actually, there have been two�one about a retiring Senator and his family, with the Senator being played by James Cromwell, and another about a young guy who goes to Washington as a crusader.

    I know there are other good examples, but I am drawing a blank.

    So can anyone add to this list, or provide counter-examples?

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    Monday, June 16, 2003
    Racicot to Head Bush Campaign

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:41 pm

    Hmm, I am not sure I like this. I really haven’t been too impressed with his RNC Chairmanship:

    Marc Racicot is leaving the helm of the Republican National Committee to lead President Bush’s re-election effort

    Source: Yahoo! News - Racicot to Head Bush Reelection Campaign

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    Mike Shula is a Better Coach than Price

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:34 pm

    At least insofar as he avoided a scandal when I was invited to be on the radio.

    I finally made an appearance on Birmingham radio this evening on WYDE’s Lee Davis show. It went well, I thought. We discussed my column from yesterday’s News.

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    Reps Cutting Up the Safety Net?

    By Steven Taylor @ 5:07 pm

    I read the following from Kevin Drum (now back from vacation) at CalPundit:

    I know conservatives hate to face up to this, and libertarians hate it even more, but the social safety net is really, really popular. You screw with it at your peril, and sometime soon it’s going to become clear that Republicans have no support for a policy that’s designed to cut back on them. The only question is, is “sometime soon” 2004 or 2008?

    And then I read the following from Reuters

    The U.S. Senate on Monday begins debate on a wide-reaching $400 billion 10-year proposal to give senior citizens and some disabled people long-awaited assistance in coping with the high cost of prescription drugs.

    Unlike an earlier proposal by President Bush, the bipartisan Senate plan does not require Medicare beneficiaries to leave the traditional government-run health program and enter a private managed care plan in order to get the new drug benefit. People can keep the Medicare they have now, and still be able to get the drug assistance.

    It does, however, give people in Medicare more choices, beyond rigid Health Maintenance Organizations if they want to go into private managed care plans. There is disagreement even among government economists on how many seniors will opt for private plans and how much money it could save the government.

    Senate leaders have blocked out two weeks for what is expected to be a complex Medicare debate, as liberals and conservatives both try to remold the measure. But the bill passed with a broad bipartisan 16-5 vote out of the Senate Finance Committee last week, and is likely to pass the Senate with a healthy margin as well.

    And I have to ask (as does James), exactly what part of the social safety net are the Republicans allegedly trying to tear up?

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    Trust Microsoft?

    By Steven Taylor @ 4:37 pm

    Everytime I do some Microsoft updates online, and I am asked if I want to “always trust Microsoft” I both cannot bring myself to check the box, and I also have to laugh to myself and think “yeah, right.”

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    • Confessions of a G33k linked with you've got one mountain to climb
    Good Econ News

    By Steven Taylor @ 4:03 pm

    Ok, we had some bad, so time for some good:

    The Dow Jones Industrial Average rocked 200 points higher and the S&P 500 broke through the 1,000 level for the first time in a year as U.S. stocks rallied Monday.

    Stronger-than-expected manufacturing data, indications of continuing strength in the housing market, and expectations of a rate cut by the Federal Reserve sent money flowing back into stocks.

    Source: Stocks rally to highest levels in a year

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    Lemony Goodness

    By Steven Taylor @ 3:17 pm

    Good news: John Lemon’s Barrel of Fish will live on after all. Mrs. Lemon has blessed the blog (and a move to a real site). Who knows, some day I might even be able to permalink to a JL post and have it work!

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    Media Bias and Social Science

    By Steven Taylor @ 11:01 am

    James has already done a good job of dealing with the broader issues of Goldberg’s piece in today’s WSJ on the topic of media bias, but the following jumped out at me as bringing back the debate of a month or so ago in the blogosphere on social science (e.g., here and here), and also an example of sloppy thinking that I was arguing about in my Sosa/corked bat post (i.e., just because you think that something is true, doesn’t mean that it is, and often systematic study can reveal the truth of the matter, where anecdotes and personal opinion fail).

    The following presents a relatively simple quantitative test, and is amenable to empirical analysis. On the one hand, the relative influence of the various media outlets cited below is easy to measure: viewership and readership are metrics which are easy to obtain. And from there, relatively simple content analysis could determine the political slants of the sources in question:

    Mr. Alterman rails against the conservative perfidy of Fox News, yet sees little to no evidence that ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN or MSNBC might be liberal. Time, Newsweek, The New Yorker, Harper’s, NPR, etc. don’t warrant much attention or worry. But he insists that the (vastly tinier) Weekly Standard has dangerous influence.

    The Bradley, Olin and Scaife foundations are said to be wreaking havoc on the gullible masses. But the (hugely richer and highly liberal) Ford, Rockefeller and Pew foundations don’t merit any mention at all. The American Enterprise Institute and the Heritage Foundation are claimed to pull the country to the right, but Harvard, Berkeley, etc. seem to have no gravitational mass at all in his eyes. It’s as if Mr. Alterman scans the whole political landscape through the lenses of some novelty glasses which can only pick up conservatives.

    As such, social science could easily answer the questions that Alterman fails to ask in his book. The Fox News issue is the best example: liberals rant over the influence of Murdoch, Ailes and Fox News, but really, how many people (relative to the population) watch Fox News? The simple answer is that far more people watch Brokaw, Jennings and Rather than watch Brit Hume-far more. And can be no doubt that empirically Time is more influential than the Weekly Standard.

    Source: OpinionJournal

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    More Judicial Politics

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:27 am

    James is right on two issues in his post today on Simpson’s op-ed that are directly relevant to the judicial nominations process. The first is that the Democrats have made abortion rights a single-issue litmus test. It is clearly the issue that most upsets Democrats on Estrada, Owen and Pryor (to name a few).

    This raises the question of what the Democrats can reasonably expect from a pro-life President. Do they really expect him top send pro-choice nominees to the Senate? The Republicans did not make abortion the sole issue for Clinton nominees (if they had, few would have been confirmed, and while the Reps definitely thwarted Clinton nominees, they did not engage in the outright filibustering techniques of the Dems-if they had, neither Ginsburg nor Breyer would be on the bench�indeed, Breyer was confirmed when the Republicans controlled the Senate).

    And this gets to the second part of James’ post which is quite relevant: even if Roe v. Wade was overturned tomorrow, abortion would not become illegal. Rather, the power to regulate abortions would return to state legislatures, which is where it belongs, constitutionally speaking (in my opinion, and that is another discussion). Now, at most you would find one or two states (Mississippi and/or Alabama) which might outlaw the procedures outright, but that would hardly result in the utter cessation of abortion in the US.

    So, it does beg a question as to why the Democrats fight so vociferously over this issue, when even if they “lost” they still would rule the day policy-wise.

    And this is without getting to the real heart of the matter, as to why terminating pregnancies is such a thing to celebrate, but again, that is another conversation.

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    Judicial Politics on Parade

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:10 am

    This gets to the heart of “advice and consent” insofar as this request is asking for more “advice” than President’s normally (ever?) seek from the Senate (especially the opposition) on these types of nominations. From Washington onward, this process has been far more “consent” (or not) than advice. The only part of the nominations process that has a substantial “advice” components are those where Senators make recommendations for District and Appeals Court positions from their state (i.e., just because you think it is so, doesn’t make it so).

    The issue here is that Leahy is essentially saying that the President had better make concessions, or there will be a major fight. It seems to me that he is asserting a role for the opposition in the Senate that has not historically been present.

    Senator Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont has urged President Bush to avoid a traumatic national battle over the Supreme Court by consulting with him and other leading Democrats before choosing a nominee, should a vacancy occur.

    In two recent letters to the White House, Mr. Leahy, the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, said that if Mr. Bush took advantage of a vacancy on the court to select a staunchly conservative judge, it would produce a political war that would upset the nation and diminish respect for the courts.

    Source: Senator Seeks a Consensus in Replacing Any Justice

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    Sunday, June 15, 2003
    World Champs!!

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:52 pm

    After making me worry for three quarters that I was going to have sweat through a game seven, the Spurs caught fire in the fourth, and torched the Nets.

    Congrats to the World Champs and especially to the Admiral!

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    The Trifecta is Complete

    By Steven Taylor @ 6:13 pm

    Well, I managed the 10k hits, and then some, so my blogging hat trick of 10,000+ hits, Large Mammal status all for my 4 month blogoversary was a success. Thanks again for those who helped out!

    And thanks to Internet Ronin for adding me to his Blogroll. Cool name, nifty looking blog-give him a look.

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    • Electric Venom linked with Belated Big News

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:23 am

    I have a new column in today’s Birmingham News

    Patience warranted in weapon search; credibility at risk


    The Eric Robert Rudolph case is illustrative of much, not the least of which is the evil that men can do as a result of radical ideas.

    There is another lesson that perhaps ought to be considered as well: As a fugitive from justice, Rudolph was able to hide from law enforcement for five years, and the theory was always that he was somewhere in the woods of North Carolina near his home. Let that sink in: Some of the finest law-enforcement officials in the world had a solid theory, which proved to be correct, that their man was in a certain location, and yet he eluded arrest for five years.

    The significance of this particular odyssey should be an object lesson as we attempt to make a realistic assessment of the failures to date to capture Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein and to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

    Read the whole thing here

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    • The Command Post Op-Ed Page linked with Column on WMD hunt
    • Arguing with signposts… linked with Poliblogger on hunt for WMD
    Blogvergence is Nigh

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:05 am

    As James at OTB has already noted, I appear to have just about acheived my Harmonic Blogvergence to celebrate my 4 month blogoversary. Just around 30 more hits and I will hit 10k and the blogging trifecta will be complete. And who knows, perhaps the Spurs can pull out the win tonight and win the Championship, and along with Father�s Day make it a 5-fold celebration day!

    My thanks to all who have visited and linked, and especially to Mr. Jay Solo who made sure I had more than sufficient linkage to make it to the Large Mammal status.

    Also, thanks to the new blogrolls from TonyTalksTech, and the aforementioned Jen. Also, thanks to Joy of Confessions of a G33k for adding me to her blogroll, which is a switch, a think, from a manual link

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    • Confessions of a G33k linked with Blogrolling
    Saturday, June 14, 2003

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:45 pm

    My thanks to Jen (frequent contributor to the comments section at OTB) of Jen Speaks for adding PoliBlog to her blogroll.

    Go give her site a look!

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    More Bad Econ News

    By Steven Taylor @ 7:13 pm

    The employeement figures continue to be gloomy:

    The employment picture remained gloomy as productivity improved but companies held back on hiring, awaiting firmer signs of economic strength, the Labor Department said in its weekly report on jobless claims.

    The ranks of the unemployed rose to 3.8 million, the highest since early April 1983, from 3.68 million in the prior week, the Labor Department said.

    Initial jobless claims fell in the latest week by 17,000 to 430,000, still above the 400,000 mark that indicates a weak labor market. New claims have been above 400,000 for 16 weeks in a row.

    Of course, as is the case with the Weirdness, the news isn’t all bad:

    Meanwhile, the nation’s retail sales rose 0.1%, but would have risen even more had gas prices not declined, the Commerce Department said.

    Sales fell 0.3% in April, while excluding autos, they fell 0.9%.

    “It appears that consumers have begun to bounce back from the Iraq-induced doldrums,” said National Retail Federation chief economist Rosalind Wells.

    “What’s most encouraging is that discretionary spending is up - clothing, appliances - which indicates consumers are feeling pretty confident,” said Stephen Stanley, economist at Greenwich Capital.

    Unemployment “is a lagging indicator, but it compels [stock market] traders to feel even more strongly that we’re ripe” for an interest rate cut, said Brian Piskorowski, market strategist at Prudential Securities.

    Economists said yesterday’s economic numbers, along with anecdotes from the Fed’s recent “beige book” report, suggested the central bank could cut interest rates by one-quarter point to 1%, a level last seen in the late 1950s when Dwight Eisenhower was president.

    Source: NY Daily News

    Hat Tip: Drudge.

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    A Good Week for Kate

    By Steven Taylor @ 3:47 pm

    Venomous Kate is having a big week, first she was invited to join the Command Post, and then, she finds out she is expecting. Congrats, Kate!

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    Another Card from the Deck

    By Steven Taylor @ 3:33 pm

    The US has captured the commander of the Iraqi Air Force.

    Source: Reuters

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    The Best They Could Do?

    By Steven Taylor @ 2:38 pm

    James at OTB comments on the recent battle over the name “Spike” for the to-be-redubbed TNN. I concur with his list of issues and would add the general questions: “do guys care what a TV network is called as along as said networks shows lots of ’splosions?” and “is it just me, or does anyone else think that most guys would feel a bit self-conscious watching a net that claims to be “tv for men"?” It just sounds, well, odd (and contrived)-and it surely doesn’t sound manly.

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    Happy Flag Day!

    By Steven Taylor @ 1:16 pm

    A post over at IMAO reminded me, today’s Flag Day

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    More Blogging Tips

    By Steven Taylor @ 12:55 pm

    Out of sense of profound charity, and no doubt a sincere interest in helping his fellow bloggers, Frank J. of IMAO, has posted the following Tips for Blogging.

    Give ‘em a looksee.

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    More on the Inter-American Summit

    By Steven Taylor @ 12:36 pm

    Wow. Is this guy multi-talented, or what?

    Enrique Iglesias, president of the Inter-American Development Bank, also attended the closed-door session, which began with a private dinner Thursday.

    Source: The Miami Herald

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    FTAA: Alive and Well

    By Steven Taylor @ 12:34 pm

    Interesting-I was unsure as to where the FTAA negotiations stood, as US foreign policy vis-a-vis Latin America, which was a potentially big deal prior to 9/11, has taken a decided backseat in recent years:

    Top trade officials from 14 Western Hemisphere countries reaffirmed their commitment Friday to craft an Americas free trade zone by 2005, a top U.S. trade official said.

    A meeting in rural Maryland among the United States, Brazil, Mexico, Canada and other regional trading partners took place as stalled world trade negotiations have cast doubt on efforts to finish the Free Trade Area of the Americas pact by that deadline.

    Although, one supposes that as European Integratation accelerates, that the FTAA negotiations will become more salient to US trade policy.

    And this doesn’t surprise me:

    Bogged down by growing economic and political constraints, top officials from the United States and 14 Latin American countries are convening near Washington, D.C., today to rethink - and to try to restore - the effort to create a Free Trade Area of the Americas.

    The meeting, called just two weeks ago, is a tacit admission of what some diplomats and trade experts say privately: that achieving a free-trade accord encompassing 34 countries in the hemisphere by the January 2005 deadline is too ambitious.

    Regional negotiators have suggested a scaled-back approach, a sort of FTAA Lite, with the tough issues punted to talks in the World Trade Organization. Another idea would be to stretch out the timeline, targeting 2007. Or negotiators could do both.

    Sources: Trade ministers reaffirm commitment to FTAA by 2005 and Trade-talk buzzwords: Scale back

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    Harmonic Blogvergence

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:21 am

    Tomorrow is my four month blogoversary (and yes, this time my count is right). I also stand on the verge of two other milestones: 10k hits and Large Mammal status on the TTLB Ecosystem (I need 12-14 new details).

    So, since it would cool to have a hat trick tomorrow (Blogoversary, 10k and TLLB evolution), I thought I would bleg for a little blogoversary gift. The calendar thing will take care of itself, and really with some links, the hits should come, so link away!

    And gracias in advance. :)

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    • Arguing with signposts… linked with Here's a gift
    • Wizbang linked with Help PoliBlog Hit The Trifecta
    • Wizbang linked with Help PoliBlog Hit The Trifecta
    Friday, June 13, 2003
    Corky Physics

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:07 pm

    An interesting tidbit to go along with my post on corked bats. In this week’s SI, Bill Nye, the ever-popular Science Guy, notes the following:

    The ball’s only in contact with the bat for one one-thousandth of a second, and there’s just not time to transfer the energy from the cork to the ball.

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    • Tiger: Raggin’ & Rantin’ linked with Sosa vs. The Corked Bat
    Cool Pic

    By Steven Taylor @ 1:31 pm

    A NASA composite shot of the Earth, with the North Pole in the middle:

    Source: Yahoo

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    Bad Econ News

    By Steven Taylor @ 12:56 pm

    Apparently, a week of good economic news was all that the Weirdness could allow:

    An unexpected drop in consumer sentiment fueled fresh worries about the U.S. economy on Friday as weaker wholesale prices reinforced expectations the Federal Reserve (news - web sites) will cut interest rates later this month.

    Source: Consumers’ Worries Grow, Prices Fall

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    By Steven Taylor @ 11:01 am

    Well, when I fired up the computer this morning, it would not boot. Somehow the FAT table was corrupted. Since the system restore appears to have worked, and given that it is Friday the 13th, I am wondering if I picked up a virus (if I did, thanks a million McAfee for a job well done).

    At any rate, I seem to be back in business. Luckily I didn’t lose too terribly much, although I did lose some stuff.

    Most annoying.

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    Thursday, June 12, 2003
    It Sounds Good, But…

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:23 pm

    I have seen this quote before, and saw it again today, and since it gets on my nerves, I shall blog about it:

    You can no more win a war than you can win an earthquake - Jeannette Rankin

    All I can say is: tell that to the Jews whom we liberated from the concentration camps in WWII, tell that to the people of Iraq, tell that to the now democratic peoples in the former Soviet bloc, and tell it to the slaves who were freed after the civil war. While you’re at it, tell it to all those the US and the allies defeated in WWI and WWII, and think about what the world would have been like had we not fought those wars.

    Platitudes are nice, and yes, it would be wonderful if we would all be nice to to one another and not covet what others have, and respect the rights of our fellow human beings. However, that isn’t exaclty human nature, is it? And it certainly isn’t the history of the human race.

    Sorry to rain on the happy bumper-sticker philosophy of Ms. Rankin, but so it goes.

    Ok, enough ranting: back to your regularly scheduled monkeypox joke…

    (and for the trivia buffs in the audience, Jeannette Rankin was the first womain in the US Congress-(Google is a wonderful thing :).

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    I’m Surrounded!

    By Steven Taylor @ 7:56 pm

    Alabama is almost entirely surrounded by possibly poxy prairie dogs! And it is a coincidence that the CDC is in Georgia, and they are poxydog free? I think not.

    Personally, I blame John Ashcroft. And exactly where is Dick Cheney when we need him?

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    Rebate Hell

    By Steven Taylor @ 7:32 pm has an interesting post (and link to this Slate piece) on the current rebate madness at electronics stores. The piece caught my eye in particular as I just put in the mail two different rebates on my new laptop.

    And no joke (from Slate):

    All of this hoop-jumping fuss�the paperwork, the postmarking, the sales slips�is quite unnecessary, says Leonard. Fulfillment centers can now do it all online�whether or not the purchase was online, with a credit card, or with cash. They don’t need the UPCs or the old phones or any such nonsense. The sales receipt could contain a unique code number that the consumer could enter into a Web site. Think of that the next time you are dissecting a box to get a lousy UPC code.

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    By Steven Taylor @ 6:34 pm

    From The Truth Laid Bear:

    First I beat Paul Krugman, and now I am besting Howard Dean:

    261.PoliBlog (91) details
    262.Howard Dean 2004 Call to Action Weblog (91)

    PoliBlog, not just a blog, but a blogging force!

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    A Barrel of MonkeyPox

    By Steven Taylor @ 6:19 pm

    Speaking of monkeypox, John Lemon has a terrific post which informs the public about how to avoid monkeypox-beware, such issues as monkey pus are discussed.

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    Gee, Isn’t that Swell of Him?

    By Steven Taylor @ 5:50 pm

    Senator agrees to let 127 Air Force promotions advance

    Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, allowed the promotions of junior officers from captain to major in what his spokesman called a “gesture of goodwill.” But he kept “holds” on another 85 officers awaiting promotion to ranks ranging from lieutenant colonel to four-star general.

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    In Denial?

    By Steven Taylor @ 1:42 pm

    Looks like Terry of Possumblog is in denial about the “New” B*S.

    Although, I will grant, the permalink seems to be working, so maybe he has cause for his optimism.

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    By Steven Taylor @ 1:14 pm

    Markos of Daily Kos is excited about the President’s current numbers. I hate to spoil the fun, but the Zogby numbers are statistically the same (margin of error and all of that), and since not much has been going on lately (that the general public would be paying attention to, anyway), the slight dips in popularity aren’t a surprise (that and the WMD flap would be expected to drive his numbers down some).

    The bad news for Dems is that Bush’s numbers typically go down in the summer, and if the economy starts to grow (the stock market seems to think that is it going to do so), then expect the President to have a good fall.

    And high 50s ain’t bad, for that matter.

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    Gregory Peck, RIP

    By Steven Taylor @ 1:03 pm

    First Donlad Regan, then David Brinkley, and now Gregory Peck:

    Gregory Peck, the lanky, handsome movie star whose long career included such classics as Roman Holiday, Spellbound and his Academy Award winner, To Kill a Mockingbird, has died, a spokesman said Thursday. He was 87.

    Peck died overnight, Monroe Friedman told The Associated Press.


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    More Judicial Nomination Politics

    By Steven Taylor @ 12:56 pm

    By this standard, can anyone sit on the bench? Doesn�t everyone have views that would shape the way they would act as a judge? And isn�t the real issue that Democrats would prefer that views that resonate with them would be represented, rather than those that Republicans prefer?

    Many of President Bush’s nominees have records of taking vigorous conservative views. When challenged at confirmation hearings by Democrats, they and their defenders invariably say that they will “follow the law” and Supreme Court precedent and that their individual views are irrelevant.

    Democrats have increasingly complained that such a response is a dodge and that the nominees would never have been picked in the first place by the Bush White House without holding such views.

    Mr. Pryor, following the pattern, argued vigorously that his personal beliefs and choices were unrelated to how he would behave as a federal judge.

    Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, said Mr. Pryor’s assurances were largely meaningless: “It’s just not enough to say `I will follow the law.’ Every nominee says that, and then when they get to the bench they have many different ways of following the law.”

    Really, isn�t the bottom line that Schumer objects to the way that he thinks that Pryor (and Estrada and Owen, etc.) would interpret the law? Isn�t he basically saying that Pryor is wrong and he is right, and that his view should dominate? It does come down to raw politics. And what is going to be the response the next time that a Democrat is in the White House and the Democrats control the Senate and the Republicans pull this nonsense?

    However, we do have a system in this country for placing judges on the bench: the citizens elect the President, who appoints, and the citizens elect the Senate, which confirms. As I have noted, the Democrats have every right to use every rule at their disposal to achieve their goals, even though they are in the minority. However, I am increasingly of the opinion that the Republicans will have to do the same vis-�-vis the rules, since the Democrats are clearly willing to abuse the filibuster rule to block the President�s nominees.

    And this is telling:

    Some Democrats said that Mr. Pryor’s views are so unpalatable that they might not seek to block his confirmation with a filibuster, as they have with other nominees, but allow it to have a straight up or down vote in the Senate.

    So, if they think that they will win the vote, a vote is fine. But, if they would lose the vote, then let�s trot out the filibuster.

    Really, the issue seems to me to be this: if these nominees are indeed as repugnant as Schumer considers them to be, then why not attempt to convince 51 Senators that he is right? And indeed, someone (they are unnamed in the article) seems to arguing that that might possible in Pryor�s case. To which I say: that�s fair. The same should be done with Estrada and Owen: if they are truly unfit to serve, then convince 51 Senators that that is the case and win on the floor.

    And the following passage demonstrates the �you can�t win� element of this process that dates back to Bork:

    The senators appeared to enjoy reading Pryor quotations from his writings and speeches, and asking him if they were accurate. Pryor confirmed with a soft drawl that the views were his, but he said those views did not prevent him from enforcing the law.

    Because if you have written or spoken, you are doomed, but if you don�t have a paper trail you are skewered for not being forthcoming, a la Miguel Estrada.

    (Side note: I love the “drawl” ref. If he was from Boston would the paper comment on the way he pronounced his vowels, or how he added an “r” to words like Cuba and Ghana? I think not.)

    Sources for all but the last quote: NYT

    Source for the last quote: WaPo

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    Hamas is Getting What it Wants

    By Steven Taylor @ 11:38 am

    ..and it ain’t peace:

    new round of violence erupted in the Mideast today as Israeli helicopters fired missiles at a car in Gaza City, killing a senior official of the militant group Hamas and at least four other Palestinians, news agencies quoted hospital officials as saying.

    Source: Israeli Forces Take Aim at Hamas for Third Strike in 24 Hours

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    Fun with Stupidity

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:54 am

    On the one had, this ranges from mildly amusing to utterly hilarious. On the other, I would not be too happy if I went on the show and didn’t know what was going on: Studied Stupidity: Respect to Da Ali G Show.

    (In fact, I just double-checked my archive, and this is pretty much the same thing I said when I linked to a Dowd column on Ali G.)

    Hat Tip: The Agitator

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    PoliBlog in the Spotlight

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:13 am

    I was the interviewee over at Wizbang’s “Good Morning Blogosphere. Kevin and I discussed my corked bat post, baseball and blogging.

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    • e-Claire linked with Get Thee to Wizbang
    Surely, You Jest…

    By Steven Taylor @ 6:30 am

    It just gets weirder and weirder at the Graham campaign: Candidate Graham to Roll Out Campaign CD

    Coming next week is “The Bob Graham Charisma Tour 2004,” a 10-track CD featuring Graham’s long-standing campaign song, “We’ve Got a Friend in Bob Graham,” plus a new Latin-beat, Spanish version called “Arriba Bob” and an ode dedicated to his trademark workdays, “I’ve Done Every Job, Man.”

    Graham, who also is known for his voluminous logs of his daily activities, does not perform on the CD. But during a conference call with reporters Wednesday, Graham quipped, “I sing not only campaign songs, but also songs which I learned on one of my workdays as an actor.” He offered to sing a few bars of “Plant a Radish” from “The Fantasticks.”

    The album is being produced by Graham friend Frank Loconto, who provided vocals and lyrics for many of the songs.

    It is so bizarre I had to read it twice and then looked on Google News to make sure this wasn’t a joke…But, as Dave Barry likes to say: I’m not making this up.

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    Wednesday, June 11, 2003
    Ain’t Nothing Like a Trip to the DMV

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:19 pm

    Radley Balko of the Agitator has an amusing tale concering the VA DMV. It kind of reminds me of when I moved to Alabama and went to the county courthouse to get new plates for the cars and was told that they didn’t take out of state checks…

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    By Steven Taylor @ 9:08 pm

    Not good: Monkeypox fear spreads to 4 more states Boy in New Jersey might be infected-not only for the people with the monkeypox, but for all of us news consumers. Soon wall-to-wall Blondes (Hill, Martha and Scott Peterson (ok, he went back to brunette)) may give way to the summer of pox.

    If we get really lucky someone will kidnap a kid infected with monkeypox, and the kidnapper will then be attacked by a shark on the way to see Gary Condit. It will be a newsapalooza-the cable news industry’s dream summer.

    And have they cured SARS? It seems like whole days since I heard a SARS story.

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    Good Deal

    By Steven Taylor @ 11:30 am

    I had missed this arrest: German Arrested in France Is a Key Al Qaeda Boss

    “(Intelligence) services know that he is a top leader of al Qaeda, in contact with Osama bin Laden himself, and has been in Afghanistan and Bosnia,” Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy told parliament.

    And, some more of the “Iraqi Most Wanted” have fallen:

    One of those in custody is Latif Nusayyif Jasm Al-Dulaymi, a Baath party official and deputy chairman of the party’s military bureau. He is also described as being involved in suicide operations and security for Iraqi defense facilities. He is the 10 of clubs in the Pentagon’s deck of cards of most wanted Iraqis and is listed as number 18 on its list, according to the Pentagon.


    The other captured Iraqi was listed as number 53 and is not in the deck of cards. He is Brig. Gen. Qaid Husseini al-Awadi, a Baath party regional commander and a brigadier general in Iraq’s chemical corps.

    Source: CNN

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    The Importance of Categories

    By Steven Taylor @ 11:02 am

    I think that the debate that is going one amongst myself, James Joyner and Brett Marston needs some clarification.

    While the specific topics are treaties v. trade agreements and the judicial nomination process, there are two general issues here that need clarification, one is a matter of empirical fact, the other a matter of normative judgment.

    It is an empirical fact that Congress created a legal category called �trade agreements� via first �Fast Track� and now �Trade Promotion Authority� and that legal category is distinct from Treaties as discussed in the Constitution.

    Now, one can argue that this oughtn�t be the case�that it violates the spirit (or even the letter) of Article II in regards to treaties. I am not actually attempting to argue, per se, that trade agreements should or should not exist, but rather simply that they do.

    One can say that �well, they really are treaties in all but name� and in some ways I would have to agree. However, categories matter: trade agreements are negotiated differently than treaties, are more limited than treaties, and are approved differently from treaties. As such, the politics of one are different than the politics of the other, as are the institutional constraints. As such, it matters greatly to get the categories correct if one is seeking understanding of the issues at hand.

    It is like a comment Brett made yesterday about the Viet Nam war and the usage of phrases like �police action� to describe them. On the one hand, he has a point-two sides shooting at one another sure looks like a war. However, there is significance to the fact that we haven�t actually declared war on anyone since WWII, despite conflicts in Korea, Viet Nam, and Iraq, to name the most prominent examples.

    This fits into the broader argument about judicial nominations because Brett constructs an argument that the Democrats are within their rights to use the filibuster, as a cloture is distinct from the confirmation vote. Here is a prime example of why categories matter. Many Republicans are arguing that since the lack of cloture (i.e., official end of debate on the nominees) has the effect of stopping the nomination, it is the same thing as requiring that the confirmation vote be a supermajority. Brett has pointed out that these are two separate votes for two separate issues. I concur, as I stated yesterday.

    I do agree that these issues raise important questions about original intent. However, I would reject the argument that the weakening of the treaty category somehow means all adaptation is acceptable. I tend in the �Strict construction� direction, but am more pragmatic about the fact that there are informal changes to the Constitution than some others in that camp. I do think that the place to start is one of looking at original intent, however.

    In regards to the filibuster of the nominees issue, I think that, in fact, this is not an issue of subverting the Constitutional order, but is a legitimate usage of the rules by the Democrats, no matter how annoying it may be to the Republicans, and therefore this is really a different debate than the TPA v. treaties issue. One is about the internal rules of a specific chamber, the other is about what kind of power Congress as a whole has vis-�-vis treaties. Of course, by focusing on the rules of the Senate, I think that it does open a legitimate door for the �nuclear option�-no matter how annoying it may be to Democrats.

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    The Carnival Has Come to Town

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:38 am

    Overtaken by Events has the latest Carnival of the Vanities, and PoliBlog is included for the first time.

    And I love the Monty Python motif!

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    Tuesday, June 10, 2003

    By Steven Taylor @ 2:00 pm

    Thanks to As If Nothing Happened for linking to PoliBlog.

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    Former SecTreas Regan Dies

    By Steven Taylor @ 11:38 am

    Reuters: Former U.S. Treasury Chief Donald Regan Dead at 84 :

    Donald Regan, a former U.S. Treasury Secretary and chairman and chief executive of Merrill Lynch & Co. has died, a Merrill spokesman said on Tuesday.

    Regan, who was 84, led the U.S. Treasury under President Reagan from 1981 until 1985. He joined Merrill Lynch in 1946 as an account executive trainee. He was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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    More on Treaties from OTB

    By Steven Taylor @ 11:32 am

    James has some useful info and links which are relevant to the treaty discussion.

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    Adios, John Lemon?

    By Steven Taylor @ 11:31 am

    John Lemon is planning on emptying his Barrel of Fish.

    Say it ain’t so, John.

    (I would’ve linked to the actual post, but you know why I didn’t).

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    Speaking of the Nomination Fight

    By Steven Taylor @ 11:10 am

    Speaking of the nomination fight, I have been meaning to comment on another of Brett�s posts. I agree with him that the procedural vote to end the filibuster is categorically different than the vote for or against the nominee, and therefore that it is difficult to argue that what the Democrats are doing is violating the Constitution on the issue of the confirmation vote itself. In other words, they aren�t trying to make the confirmation vote a super-majority vote, rather they are simply using Senate rules to their advantage-which is fair, quite frankly. And so, I have to admit that the argument that what the Dem’s are doing is subverting the Constitution to be rather weak.

    However, as I have thought about this issue, I have considered whether the �nuclear option� isn�t also a legitimate use of Senate rules for political ends. This option has a Senator making an objection to the presiding officer (the Vice President) that the filibuster is out of order. The Presiding officer could rule, and any ruling could appealed to the Republican-appointed Senate Parliamentarian, who would likely rule in the Republican�s favor, and break the filibuster. And if that is indeed allowable under Senate rules, then it is as legitimate a course of action as the Democrat�s filibuster. In other words: if the argument is that the Democrats are simply using the rules to their advantage by using the filibuster to block the nominees, then the �nuclear option� appears to be a legitimate course of action for the Republicans, if, indeed, such actions are within the rules of the Senate. Now, there are ramifications of such activities, but if the bottom line is that using the rules to one�s advantage is an acceptable practice, even if it goes against precedent, then there is an argument that the Republicans have every right to figure out how to use the rules to their own ends.

    And really, the argument against the nuclear option is pretty much the same argument against the Dem�s filibuster: that it is against precedent, and that it would increase partisanship.

    Something to think about, anyway.

    I am not sure that I would necessarily recommend it, but I am closer to endorsing it now than I was initially.

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    TPA v. Treaties

    By Steven Taylor @ 11:01 am

    Brett Marston, and in response James Joyner, have commented on the issue of Trade Promotion Authority (once known as “Fast Track") in the context of current Senate filibusters of President Bush’s Appeals Court nominees.

    The main issue being Bret’s contention that Republican Senators are being hypocritical by insisting on a strict constitutional standard for nominees (i.e., a straight majority vote v. the supermajority of the filibuster), while voting for TPA which creates a simple-majority vote system for trade deals, which Bret sees as violating the super-majority standard for treaties in the Constitution.

    For the sake of clarification, I would note that TPA doesn’t actually apply to treaties, but to the more narrowly defined “trade agreement” and is a legislatively created legal category that it took both Houses of Congress to pass.

    TPA works like this: the President negotiates a trade deal with a foreign country (or countries) and submits the proposal to Congress. BOTH Houses of Congress then have an up or down vote on the proposal, and the vote is a normal majority. The goal is to allow all negotiations to take place during the actual negotiations with the foreign government in question, rather than allowing the Senate to amend the deal post-negotiation. The logic being that foreign governments will not want to negotiate, or will hold back, knowing that even once a treaty is signed that it would potentially have to negotiate with the US Senate. NAFTA was approved in this fashion.

    In short, trade agreements have the character of regular legislation, not a treaty, and therefore the comparison to the confirmation process is not really accurate.

    Now, one could argue that this is doing an end-run around a constitutional provision, but still, having a legal category created by the full Congress is several degress different than the issue of Senate rules. Indeed, it is possible, I suppose, that Congress created an unconstitutional category that violates the treaty powers outlined in the Constitution. However, the only way to know that for sure would be for the US Supreme Court to say so.

    Also, TPA originally dates back to the 1970s, and was renewed several times before it was allowed to lapse during the Clinton administration. As such, it has not historically been a partisan issue, as Democratically-controlled Congresses originally created, and renewed several times, said authority.

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    Filling the Gap at the Times

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:07 am

    Virginia Postrel has some on-target recommendations to fix the woes at the NYT’s editorial page.

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    By Steven Taylor @ 6:45 am

    Susan Estrich questions Hillary’s tell-all motives:

    Do they really want a Democrat to win in 2004? I hate to say it, but the answer may be no. Hillary will be too old to run in 2012. Her year would be 2008. But she couldn’t take on an incumbent Democratic president. She needs an open seat, not a Democratic president running for a second term.

    One wonders, to be honest. This assumes some substantial malice of forethought and clear ambition-neither is unreasonable, I suppose.

    More likely, to me, is that neither Hillary nor Bill really thinks much about anyone else but themselves, and so the timing of their books serve their own purposes, regardless of what those purposes are, and if it hurts their own party, they seem not to notice.

    Hat tip: RealClear Politics

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    • The American Mind linked with Hillary Can Sell Books (Even Bad Ones)
    Monday, June 9, 2003

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:06 pm

    James of OTB has already linked to this, but if for some reson you missed it, this philsophy exam is downright hilarious.

    Kudos to the authors.

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    I’m Interesting

    By Steven Taylor @ 4:28 pm

    Or so says Technorati. I am 26th on the Technorati: Top 50 Interesting Newcomers

    My sometimes sparring partner Brett Marston is on the list as well at 46.

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    This Should Propel Him Into First

    By Steven Taylor @ 4:25 pm

    Graham Begins ‘BobCats’ Fund-Raising Push:

    Graham announced the creation of the “BobCats,” or individuals who raise $1,000 in small donations from “friends, neighbors and co-workers” for his campaign. He made the appeal before the close of the next fund-raising quarter June 30.

    No doubt the money will start pouring in now.

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    This Doesn’t Sound Like Much Fun

    By Steven Taylor @ 11:54 am

    Having “pox” is bad enough, but somehow “monkeypox” sounds even worse…

    Health officials in Wisconsin have confirmed four cases of monkeypox in the Milwaukee area in what is believed to be the first outbreak of the disease among humans in the Western Hemisphere.


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    Kaus on the Times

    By Steven Taylor @ 11:24 am

    Mickey�Kaus’ current post on the NYT situation is worth a read.

    A key paragraph:

    The chief disgrace of the tenure of Howell Raines and of his boss, publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr., is that they have tried to lay claim to objectivity even as they have consciously attempted to manipulate public opinion.

    (emphasis his)

    The whole thing is worth a read.

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    More Silly Polls

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:46 am

    James of OTB had the Bill v. Dubya poll numbers last week, now ABC news tries
    Hill v. Dubya:

    But among the broader public she trails by 24 points in a head-to-head general election matchup against President Bush, 58 percent to 34 percent. Six in 10 men and 55 percent of women favor Bush. And Bush wins support from 92 percent of Republicans, while Mrs. Clinton wins far fewer Democrats (67 percent). Independents prefer Bush by 55-31 percent.

    There are, however, some interesting inform in the poll. One being that Democrats prefer Hillary over any of the Nine Dwarves, which strikes me an indicative as how bad off the Democratic Party is right now. When the nominating base would prefer someone other than any of the candidates running, this is indicative of some seriopus dissatisfaction.

    This is also interesting, and argues for why Hillary could never be elected President:

    While 44 percent of Americans express a favorable opinion of Mrs. Clinton, 48 percent view her unfavorably � an unusually high negative rating, and an unusually strong one. More than twice as many people view her “strongly” negatively as strongly positively. And she’s no more popular among women than among men.

    Mrs. Clinton’s popularity largely is limited to Democrats, and is countered, and exceeded in intensity, by her unpopularity among Republicans. Sixty percent of all Republicans, and 71 percent of conservative Republicans, view her strongly unfavorably. By contrast, just 32 percent of all Democrats, and 42 percent of liberal Democrats, view her strongly favorably. (Moreover, conservative Republicans outnumber liberal Democrats by 2-1.)

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    By Steven Taylor @ 10:26 am

    Senator Blocks 850 Air Force Promotions.

    This is utterly ridiculous:

    Senator Larry E. Craig of Idaho is blocking the promotions of more than 850 Air Force officers, including young pilots who fought in Iraq and the general nominated to bail out the scandal-plagued United States Air Force Academy, in a rare clash between the Pentagon and a senior Republican lawmaker.

    Mr. Craig’s price to free the frozen promotions now awaiting final Senate approval? Four C-130 cargo planes for the Idaho Air National Guard.

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    Shales on Hillary

    By Steven Taylor @ 7:53 am

    So says TV critic Tom Shales in hi column today:

    Two first ladies got together for a chat on national network television last night, one of them the former first lady of the land and the other the reigning first lady of network news. It was by no means a contest, but Barbara Walters came away from it looking better than Hillary Rodham Clinton, the celebrated interviewee.

    By “better,” I think what I mean is “more recognizably human.”


    And is it just me, or is there some unseemly in a a sitting US Senator going on a book tour?

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    Sunday, June 8, 2003
    Bush’s Method-Politics Sans Conviction?

    By Steven Taylor @ 2:09 pm

    Having watched Bush as Governor of Texas during his first term (I am originally from Texas, and was there for all but the very end of Bush�s first term), I would take issue with Kevin Drum�s assessment (based on a Gabler column)of Bush on his blog today. I would agree that Bush is not a true ideologue of the right, and that indeed he really isn�t an ideologue at all. Rather, he focuses on a limited set of issues that he deems significant and he will fight to accomplish those goals. This was his exact modus operandi during his time as governor-to focus on a limited list of policy objectives, and to compromise (even ignore) everything else (I have been pointing this out for years, as James of OTB can attest, as he has heard me say it on numerous occasions). He was able to accomplish specific legislative successes as Governor over prison reform, education, and taxes-although I admit that the specifics are not on the tip of my mind. However, I can state, as one who used to teach Texas Politics, that Bush was one of the more successful of Texas� governors (in terms of legislative successes) by way of having this very deliberate strategy. And doing so required working closely with a State House controlled by the Democrats the entire time he was in office, and working with the Democratic Lt. Gov., who controlled the flow of legislation in the State Senate.

    Indeed, Bush was quite famous at the time for working with Democrats (and that wasn�t just because Texas Democrats are conservative-that was ceasing to be the case by the time that Bush came to office). I would argue that the cooperation in question was the result of political pragmatism. And I would also point out that he worked closely with Ted Kennedy on the education bill that was passed early in his administration.

    And I am a Bush supporter, and I do understand Gabler�s argument, but I do reject the basic thesis that Bush has no convictions and that policy is trumped always and forevermore by politics. Rather, he is politically quite pragmatic-when he wants an outcome, he focuses on it (tax cuts, the war in Iraq, etc.) with a great deal of ferocity, and it often quite successful. He is, however, quite willing to compromise or sacrifice other issues that he is less interested in. This is a different interpretation of what Kevin is describing (I think), but one that is worthy of discussion.

    Indeed, the argument that Kevin makes, that he is unwilling to compromise, is empirically not the case. The Texas experience bespeaks of a willingness to compromise, as does the education bill. There were compromises with the first tax bill and with this one as well. If he was utterly a �no compromise� fellow, why did he sign the campaign finance bill, which he objected to? Why sign the �No Child Left Behind� legislation, even though his wanted vouchers which were not included? Why sign the tax cut that did not fulfill his stated wishes on the dividend tax?

    On balance, while Bush is not an ideologue, he is a man of conviction, who does fight, often quite ferociously, to do what he thinks is the right thing to do policy-wise. And no, I don�t think that his main overriding goal is simply to damage the Democrats (they are doing a good job of that by themselves, quite frankly).

    Also, I really don�t fully understand Kevin�s analysis, insofar as he seems to be arguing that Bush is somehow odd in that he is political. What President seeking either legislative success or re-election hasn�t attempted to politically defeat the opposition?

    Also, in re: the bipartisanship issue. Given that large numbers of Democrats voted for the war resolution, it seems he did, in fact, build bipartisan support by definition. Unless by �bipartisan� one means �total consensus�-something that almost never happens in politics, except on matters of radical crisis, or, more likely, banal issues that lack controversy. What President was ever governed by being Mr. Compromise?

    Further, I utterly reject Gabler�s hypothesis that the goal is the utter destruction of the Democrats and that policy is chosen simply for that purpose. Rather, as I described above, Bush has certain policy goals that he wants to accomplish, and politicks accordingly. And, not surprisingly, tries to use circumstances to his electoral advantage. I see nothing new here in the great realm of the world of politics.

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    • Tiger: Raggin’ & Rantin’ linked with I agree, but he still couldn't run the Texas Rangers
    • Overtaken by Events linked with Nobody Expects the Carnival of the Vanities!!
    • Wizbang linked with Weekend Wrapup
    The Trials of Hillary

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:38 am

    Oh, my.

    So, Bill’s fling ranks up there with years of political persecution and jail? Can we be a little more self-important please? Why not just compare herself with the grace and compassion of Jesus Christ and be done wih it?

    In “Living History,” which officially goes on sale tomorrow, Clinton also compares her willingness to forgive Bill with Nelson Mandela’s decision to forgive his white jailers.

    “It was a challenge to forgive Bill . . . [but] if Mandela could forgive, I would try,” she writes.

    Source: New York Post

    Hat tip: Drudge

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    By Steven Taylor @ 10:07 am

    I have a new column in today’s Mobile Register. It will mostly only be of interest to my fellow Axis of Weevil members, as it is focused on Alabama politics. Although it is noteworthy for being one of the few times that you will find me advocating for tax increases.

    Time to pay for governing


    Special to the Register

    It has been said that only Nixon could go to China - in other words, only a staunch anti-communist could credibly open relations with the government in Beijing. Similarly, perhaps only a fiscal conservative (and Republican), Bob Riley, can fix the financial problems in Alabama.

    The whole thing is here: Opinion

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    By Steven Taylor @ 10:04 am

    Thanks to Jay Solo’s Verbosity for adding me to his Blogroll.

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    More Nekkid People

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:30 am

    Between protests and “art” such as this one begins to think that there is a severe clothing crisis across the land.

    And how boring would it be to sit there like that whilst the “artist” takes the pics? Not too mention a tad uncomfortable.

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    Saturday, June 7, 2003

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:50 am

    You hear about this kind of thing every year, it seems: Tot dies after Vegas teacher forgets him all day in hot van, and everytime my response is the same: I just do not understand how one could forget that their child is in the car and just leave them there all day long. I simply don’t get it.

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    Poverty and Terror

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:37 am

    Jeff Jarvis links to (and comments on) the following story from the Chronicle of Higher Education: Seeking the Roots of Terrorism

    The basics of the story discuss a study which concludes that the link between poverty and terrorism is a weak one. Indeed, I have long balked at the thesis that poverty is the cause of terrorism. Indeed, we know that many terror leaders, and many operatives, come from fairly affluent backgrounds.

    For example:

    Claude Berrebi, a graduate student in economics at Princeton, has studied the characteristics of recent suicide bombers in Israel. From information on the Web sites of Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hamas, he was able to paint a statistical picture of suicide bombers. He compared that to survey-based data on the broader Palestinian population of roughly comparable age. His results indicate that suicide bombers are less than half as likely to come from impoverished families than is the population as a whole. In addition, more than half of the suicide bombers had attended school after high school, while less than 15 percent of the population in the same age group had any post-high-school education.


    On the other side of the conflict, the picture is not too different. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, numerous violent attacks against Palestinians were conducted by Israeli Jews in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, led most prominently by the Gush Emunim (Bloc of the Faithful) group. Those attacks included attempts to kill three Palestinian mayors of West Bank cities and to blow up the Dome of the Rock, the third-holiest shrine of Islam. From 1980 to 1984, 23 Palestinians were killed in attacks by the Jewish Underground, and 191 people were injured.

    Looking at the backgrounds of the perpetrators of those violent attacks, it is clear that the Israeli extremists were overwhelmingly well educated and in high-paying occupations. The list includes teachers, writers, university students, geographers, an engineer, a combat pilot, a chemist, and a computer programmer. As Donald Neff, in a 1999 issue of the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, observed of the three men convicted of murder, “All were highly regarded, well-educated, very religious.”

    Indeed, as one who studies the Third World for a living, I can state that it is not the case that the most impoverished countries are necessarily the ones with the most political violence. Look at Latin America: the most violent country is Colombia, but it is hardly the poorest in the region. If poverty was the key variable for generating violence, then places like Haiti and Nicaragua ought to be on fire.

    The study focused on the origins of terrorists (emphasis is mine):

    We made a first pass at the issue by analyzing data on “significant international terrorist events” as recorded by the U.S. State Department. Specifically, we tried to infer the national origin of the events’ perpetrators. We then related the number of terrorists produced by each country to characteristics of the country, including gross domestic product per capita, literacy rates, religious fractionalization, and political and civil freedoms. Apart from population - larger countries tend to have more terrorists - the only variable that was consistently associated with the number of terrorists was the Freedom House index of political rights and civil liberties. Countries with more freedom were less likely to be the birthplace of international terrorists. Poverty and literacy were unrelated to the number of terrorists from a country. Think of a country like Saudi Arabia: It is wealthy but has few political and civil freedoms. Perhaps it is no coincidence that so many of the September 11 terrorists - and Osama bin Laden himself - came from there.

    The article concludes thusly:

    Instead of viewing terrorism as a response - either direct or indirect - to poverty or ignorance, we suggest that it is more accurately viewed as a response to political conditions and longstanding feelings of indignity and frustration that have little to do with economic circumstances. We suspect that is why international terrorist acts are more likely to be committed by people who grew up under repressive political regimes.

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    Mag Attack

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:07 am

    Drudge’s Saturday morning headline is a picture of the covers of Cosmo and Redbook with the caption “TOO HOT FOR WAL-MART” and a link to this story, which refers to the following text:

    In response to customer pressure, Wal-Mart did say it will obscure the covers of several women’s magazines because they often feature sexually explicate material. Plastic shields will be placed over Glamour, Marie Claire, Cosmopolitan and Redbook magazines beginning next month.

    Wal-Mart last month stopped sales of three men’s magazines, Maxim, Stuff and FHM, after customers and Christian groups voiced concern about their content.

    Now, I have to say that putting a shield in front of such magazines is an idea I applaud, not because I am a prude, or care whether they sell Cosmo, but because those mags are displayed in the check-out line, it is hardly unreasonable to have such sterling headlines as “99 Sexy Ways to Touch Him” and “3 Amazing Sex Moves!” covered given that I don’t want to have to explain what they mean to elementary school aged children.

    Now, if they are in the magazine section it is less of an issue, as I can avoid that section of the store with small children, but it is rather difficult to avoid the check-out line.

    And, this is hardly something that I would demand that Wal*Mart do, nor we I stop shopping there if Cosmo lived forevermore on the checkout line, but covering the covers is something that seems reasonable and is martket-driven, in that Wal*Mart is doing it to help foster a specific consumer-friendly image.

    And in re: Maxim, et al., I really never cared that they sold those mags, but also can see why, for good business reasons, they stopped selling them.

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    Lab Questions

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:38 am

    This is potentially troubling, but also not surprising, as in the absence of actual weapon’s agents, I would expect some challenges:

    In all, at least three teams of Western experts have now examined the trailers and evidence from them. While the first two groups to see the trailers were largely convinced that the vehicles were intended for the purpose of making germ agents, the third group of more senior analysts divided sharply over the function of the trailers, with several members expressing strong skepticism, some of the dissenters said.

    In effect, early conclusions by agents on the ground that the trailers were indeed mobile units to produce germs for weapons have since been challenged.

    And this story is interesting for other reasons as well, as it is a good example of the kind of story that conservatives will be more skeptical of coming from the Times given its recent history and therefore illustrates the problems that the paper has created for itelf.

    And the spin of the story is clearly that since “some” analysts, who are “senior” have “challenged” the prevailing interpretation that therefore the prevailing interpretation must be false and “political.” And as such it is a classic example of bias in a story where it is clear what the reporter believes and would like the reader to believe, rather than just a straight-forward reporting of the facts.

    Having said that, however, I do believe it is quite possible that the mobile labs weren’t for weapons, even though at this point I think that they were weapons labs.

    Source: Some Analysts of Iraq Trailers Reject Germ Use

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    Friday, June 6, 2003

    By Steven Taylor @ 1:43 pm

    Thanks to Paul of Sanity’s Edge for adding PoliBlog to his blogroll.

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    Iowa Race

    By Steven Taylor @ 1:40 pm

    Daily Kos has the latest numbers out of Iowa regarding the Democratic Caucus, and Gephardt continues to lead the pack.

    Kos’ also has some brief commentary on the numbers, and I would add the following:

  • I think Kos has a point on Lieberman and the role of name-recognition, although I would say that he is not a “one trick pony” insofar as he is the only real DLC-type in the race (i.e., moderate) and he is the strongest on the defense question.
  • I am not sure 5-point moves, which are probably within the margin of error of the poll, equal kicking anything.
  • Edwards freefall is no shock to me, because of his inexperience (he has a pronounced “not ready for prime time” aura), and because he has no actual ideas (aside from free college for everyone). Not to mention his constant attempts to paint himself as one of the “common people” (despite being a multimillionarie) wear thin after a while. He also demonstrates that despite the cries of the campaign finance reform crowd, money isn’t the key factor.

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    Corked Reasoning

    By Steven Taylor @ 1:03 pm

    The whole Sammy Sosa flap over his use of a corked bat has seen the use of some poor reasoning in the sports press. For while it has long been thought that corking a bat leads to better hitting, many physicists have studied the issue and found that it really doesn�t make any significance difference in how well a batter hits (for example, see here and here):

    Every professor in America is rushing to tell you that corking a bat serves no purpose. We spoke to five current big-leaguers Thursday, and every one of them says corking does help because the bat maintains the density but is an ounce lighter, allowing the player to swing “a heavy bat'’ much more quickly

    Source: Baylor can’t imagine Sosa cheating.

    However, many in the sports press have claimed that the physicists are full of beans. For example, I have heard the following statements:

  • Rob Dibble on the Dan Patrick radio show claimed on Thursday that he used a corked bat in BP once, and there was no doubt in his mind that it made a difference, and so he dismissed the studies that show that such modifications do not matter.
  • Bill Madden, of the New York Daily News, appearing on the Tony Kornheiser show on Friday argued that because of a player (whose name escapes me) admitted that he had used a corked bat in the one season in which he had a phenomenal hitting year, that clearly corked bats matter. Madden therefore declared the �case closed� on the argument that corked bats make no difference.
  • Others have claimed that corked bats have to make a difference, just because it is obvious that they do (probably because they have always thought that to be the case/because it is illegal, it has to be the case that it makes a difference).

    Now, I honestly have no clue what difference a corked bat makes when hitting (I know what it would do for me: squat�I can barely hit when playing softball), but I do know poor reasoning when I see it. Just because one hitter, or a lot of hitters think that the bat makes a difference, doesn�t make it so. It could as easily be a placebo effect as an actual case of the bat making a difference.

    And in regards to Madden�s claim that one guy having a good year during the year he used a corked bat, I have two responses: 1) the afore-mentioned possible placebo effect, and, more significantly, 2) it is entirely possible that the guy simply had one good year. Surely there have been other major league players who have had one outstanding year hitting in a sea of otherwise mediocre seasons.

    The entire situation demonstrates how difficult it can be to get people to reshape their thinking even when the evidence suggests that what they have thought for years is actually incorrect.

    And, my take on Sosa�s use of a corked bat: even if this was exactly as Sammy said it was (it was a bat he used in BP), I think that this tarnishes his career. The very ownership (and I don�t mean having one at home as a oddity, but having it with your other bats at the ballpark) of an illegal has the affect of raising questions about Sosa and whether or not he was willing to cheat or not. Since I already have been wondering about the use of performance-enhancing substances, this simply makes vague suspicions stronger (i.e., if he might cheat in one way, might he in another?).

    Basically, if one�s career is based on hitting and one knows the effect a corked bat can have on one�s reputation, then even owning on, let alone using it for BP to impress the fans, is a highly questionable thing to do. It would be like me writing a column and plagiarizing part of it, saving it on my hard drive and showing it to students to impress them, but never submitting it to a paper, and then accidentally sending it in because I got confused. It would utterly destroy my reputation as a writer, even if was the only �corked� column I had written.

    And I tend to subscribe to the: He Knew the Bat was Corked, and Used it Because he was Desperately Trying to Get Out of a Slump Theory.

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    • Anonymous linked with Good Morning Blogosphere
    • Tiger: Raggin’ & Rantin’ linked with Sosa vs. The Corked Bat
    • Wizbang linked with Good Morning Blogosphere, Our Guest This Morning Is Steven Taylor From PoliBlog
    It’s Official: The Weirdness is Not Yet Gone

    By Steven Taylor @ 11:54 am

    The stock market is up, but employment is down. And hence, I cannot declare the Weird Economy to be over:

    The nation’s unemployment rate climbed to 6.1 percent in May, the highest level in nine years, as businesses cut 17,000 jobs in a weak economy struggling toward recovery.

    The rate was up one-tenth of a percentage point from April, peaking at a level not seen since the country was emerging from the last recession, the Labor Department reported Friday.

    July 1994 was the last time the jobless rate was at 6.1. It was higher only in April 1994, at 6.4 percent.

    Source: U.S. Unemployment Rate Climbs in May

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    By Steven Taylor @ 11:49 am

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    Speaking of the FCC…

    By Steven Taylor @ 11:47 am

    Given that one of the big objections to loosening of ownership regulation is that it will cut down on the diversity of programming, the following graphic from Sarah Lai Strickland’s web site, is quite interesting. Just look a the large media companies and the rather diverse ca le station offerings that they control. Indeed, as I have seen argued in a few different places, the need for ratings (i.e., audiences) will drive large companies to seek out new niches in the marketplace, and thereby increase the diversity of programming offered to the public. It is more profitable to tap into under serviced markets than it is to try to force everyone to watch the exact same thing.

    And I am fairly certain that the lists on the graphics of cable channels is not exhaustive.

    Hat Tip: The Buck Stops Here.

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    Hennnger on the FCC

    By Steven Taylor @ 11:26 am

    Danniel Henninger�s column at OpinionJournal has a nice column on the FCC rules changes and the liberal response.

    And, I really do think that there is something to this:

    A further reason behind the diversity-of-opinion complaints about the FCC’s decision to loosen ownership rules is the deep belief on the Democratic left that the Republican-led commission took this action so that Rupert Murdoch will be freed to buy up and “control” more media with his right-wing compulsions. Why so many people now watch Fox Cable News without Rupert Murdoch holding a gun to their heads is a frustrating glitch in the theory that still needs to be worked out.

    Not to overplay this issue, but is has been utterly amazing the degree to which those who are opposed to these rules almost invariably refer to Murdoch as the poster child of why the changes are disastrous for democracy. As I was watching John Stewart’s show last night, where Stewart poked fun at the changes, and commented that Murdoch is “evil” it dawned on me that we never heard such cries of terror when another media mogul, Ted Turner, controlled the only 24-hour cable news outlets. No, when it was only CNN, they were considered the gold standard of news, and claims that they leaned left were scoffed at by the liberals. Not to mention that Turner truly dominated the cable industry for a while (e.g., CNN, Headline News, TNT, TCM, Turner South, TBS). Yet, where was the panic when Ted was in charge?

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    By Steven Taylor @ 8:54 am

    Thanks to Balloon Juice for linking to PoliBlog!

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    Thursday, June 5, 2003
    Giving B*S The Slip

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:10 pm

    Common Sense and Wonder has moved to their own domain. Go give ‘em a looksee.

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    A Blog Worth Checking Out

    By Steven Taylor @ 6:32 pm

    My thanks to Stuart Buck of The Buck Stops Here for linking to PoliBlog. He is an attorney in Dallas, and has a very interesting blog-I would recommend a visit-I have blogrolled it.

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    Commentary on Martha

    By Steven Taylor @ 11:44 am

    Daily Kos has a nice column by Steve Gilliard on the Martha Stewart indictment. It is pretty much on target. Some of the comments are amusing, as some folks want to turn this into a partisan issue ("she is being targetted because she is a Democrat!!"-puh-leeze).

    As Giliard points out, the cover-up is often more problematic than the crime. The whole affair is remarkable, given that Stewart appears to have lied about something she didn’t need to lie about, and she did it twice. At this point it looks like a heavy case of hubris, but we shall see how it plays out.

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    America the Dangerous

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:49 am

    Austin Bay has a column in today’s Houston Chronicle that is worth a read. The basic thesis:

    The charge made by international critics that America is dangerous is true. America has been dangerous since 1776 - dangerous to autocrats and the vicious elites that still control much of the planet.

    Hat Tip: RealClear Politics

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    NYT Shuffle

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:27 am

    Raines and Boyd are out:

    The two top editors at The New York Times have resigned in the wake of a reporting scandal, the newspaper announced Thursday.

    The editors, Executive Editor Howell Raines and Managing Editor Gerald Boyd, had been particularly criticized for their roles in the scandal surrounding the reporting of 27-year-old Jayson Blair, who quit the paper on May 1.


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    The TTLB Ecosystem

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:17 am

    From the current listings at The Truth Laid Bear, I found the following rather amusing:

    347.Paul Krugman (62) details
    348.PoliBlog (62) details

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    Wednesday, June 4, 2003
    Speaking of Hill…

    By Steven Taylor @ 7:46 pm

    Fineman has a good piece on the politics of the situation.

    And, indeed:

    White House political guru Karl Rove couldn�t have planned it any better. Just as the Democrats and their candidates are gearing up for the 2004 campaign (their first �straw poll� is next week in Wisconsin), along comes the Clintons to steal the spotlight and send the party plunging back into an era of chaos and recrimination

    The whole situation does bespeak of the narcissism of the Clintons (and Bill’s book is ocming out next year…). To wit:

    Did the Clintons consider that �telling all� now�in the lead up to the �04 election�might damage the Democrats� chances? Maybe. Did they care? I doubt it. And certainly not after they considered that $16 million in advances was at stake.

    And, oh, I how I miss the good ol’ days:

    Once upon a time-until only a few decades ago-the tradition was for presidents and their kin to go quietly into the good night, speaking softly and only when spoken to, writing memoirs after a decent interval and enveloping their words in a haze of impersonal historicity. They rarely if ever criticized the policies of their successors and never put their own dirty laundry out in bookstores.

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    Surreal TV

    By Steven Taylor @ 7:33 pm

    It is rather remarkable that many of the news shows led with, or gave more time to, the Hillary book story than they did to the historical meeting with Bush, Sharon and Abbas.

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    Good News on the Stock Market Front

    By Steven Taylor @ 4:18 pm

    I guess that the IBM audit story wasn’t a big deal: Dow Closes Above 9,000 for First Time in 8 Months

    I am not ready to call the Weirdness to be over, but I am getting more optimistic.

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    Not to Be a Wet Blanket…

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:19 am

    But, I’ll believe it when I see it:

    Colombia on Tuesday claimed its huge illegal drug crop would be eradicated by 2006 with the help of the US.

    And even if the Colombians mange this monumental feat, the production will move back into Peru and Bolivia.


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    Bush Unplugged

    By Steven Taylor @ 6:42 am

    NYT has a very intersting story that is worth reading. There is no good way to excerpt it, so I will just provide the first paragraph:

    It was not surprising that President Bush would get tough with the Israelis and Palestinians and demand that both get their houses in order. What was surprising, because of an extraordinary mistake by Egyptian television, was that Mr. Bush would be caught unawares on camera today speaking about the Middle East with more bluntness, emotion and religious fervor than had been heard before.

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    Tuesday, June 3, 2003
    Matthews on Sundays

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:28 pm

    Here’s an interesting story on Chris Matthews’ Sunday talk show. I’ve caught the show a couple of times and it is pretty decent-better that This Week or Face the Nation for sure.

    And here’s the money paragraph:

    After launching to weak ratings - a 1.0 - last fall, the show has almost doubled in popularity and has recently been competitive with CBS’ “Face the Nation” and ABC’s “This Week” while regularly outdrawing “Fox News Sunday.”

    Also interesting:

    “Hardball” averaged only 362,000 people in May

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    By Steven Taylor @ 6:23 pm

    I have a new column in today’s Birmingham Post-Herald. Since one has to scroll down the link to read it, I have provided it here in its entirity:

    Look at politics behind tax cuts


    There is much to be said concerning the recent tax-cut package passed by Congress, and much to be learned from it concerning the ways of Washington. Rather than investigate the merits of the bill, I would like to look at the politics of the numbers and how we, as citizens, should interpret them. The ability to understand these figures is important for multiple reasons.

    The basic numbers are 10 years, $350 billion, as in “Congress Passes $350 billion Tax-Cut Package.” However, it is also quite noteworthy that both the dollar amount and the timespan are misleading (which is usually the case). For one thing, the tax cut portion of the bill is actually more like $320 billion, as approximately $20 billion of the money in question is set aside for aid to the states and $9.5 billion is for child tax credits (which are not cuts, but actual money given from the treasury to qualifying families). As to the timeframe, the “10 years” is especially problematic, as the majority of the package is played-out over the first two years of the bill, and most of the cuts expire after five years.

    The rate reductions are for three years, and, approximately $210 billion of the cuts are only for this year and next. So, instead of what sounds like $32 billion a year, the package is more on the order of $105 billion for the next two years, with the majority of the remaining $110 billion being cut in 2005-2007.

    Understanding these facts is important for a variety of reasons.

    First, as citizens we should understand what is really happening, whether one favors the cuts or not. The creation of legislation is a tricky business, which requires building coalitions among various members of the congress. Different legislators want different things: some just want tax cuts, some want specific kinds of cuts, others want the package to only be so large, and others wants add-ons (like aid to states), and so forth. As a result, all legislation, especially big ticket items like tax-cut bills, are complex and far from straight-forward, given the deals that have to be made to get the vote needed for passage.

    Second, if one is keeping political score here, the meaning of the numbers is important to determine how well President Bush and his Republican allies fared. Bush originally proposed a 10-year, $726 billion dollar package, and characterized the Senate’s original counter-proposal of $350 billion as “little bitty.” As such, many in the news media have declared this package only a semi-victory for the president.

    However, that is missing the facts that I presented above � the heart of this bill is really a two-year, $210 billion package � which is a fairly substantial cut. And to add to that, the politics of the situation favor the president as the next point illustrates.

    Third, there are some important lessons here about legislative mechanics and politics. Some have argued that this tax cut package is convoluted given that many of the cuts expire in a short period of time or fluctuate up and down during the 10 years (or fewer, depending on the specific measure) in question.

    So were the president and his allies in Congress crazy? Crazy like foxes, perhaps, because the results of these sunset provisions mean that once specific tax cuts expire, Congress is going to be faced with a choice: allow the cuts to expire, effectively raising people’s taxes, or going back and extending, or even making permanent, the cuts in the 2003 bill.

    Hence, the politics play into the president’s hand. He will be in a position to offer more tax cuts next year (an election year) and the Democrats will be put in the position of either going along with the extensions (hence supporting the president’s economic vision), or opposing extensions (and risk being cast as tax-raisers). As such, the president has set himself up for even larger cuts than this bill alone presents. And for those who think that this sounds like an unlikely scenario I would note that the president’s 2001 tax cut package also had provisions which expired, several of which have been accelerated, or extended, via this new tax bill. It seems that this is the new politics of tax-cutting: pass temporary cuts which can be extended in the future.

    Indeed, this illustrates a basic tenet of legislative politics: nothing is permanent. Congress can always change any law it passes, and future congresses are quite prone to making such changes.

    This fact is also noteworthy for countering many of the doom-sayers (such as Paul Krugman of The New York Times) concerning this tax-cut, because if instead of economic stimulus, fiscal problems arise as a result of this tax cut, then there is nothing that would stop Congress from reversing the legislation, if that is what the public demanded.

    So the next time you hear a specific number quoted, realize that there is much more to the picture than the headlines seem to convey.

    Steven L. Taylor, Ph.D. is an assistant professor of political science at Troy State University.

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    Clever Concealment?

    By Steven Taylor @ 5:10 pm

    An interesting story from yesterday’s WaPo about Saddam’s “dual use” facilities”:

    The Bush administration says it has been told by an Iraqi scientist that Saddam Hussein in past years decentralized the chemical and biological weapons programs by putting production equipment within commercial facilities so that it would not be discovered but could be used when needed to produce deadly agents.

    The scientist, in a May 7 White House document made available to The Washington Post, describes Iraq as having “carefully embedded its [weapons of mass destruction] infrastructure in dual-use facilities” with chemical weapons production “on demand” or “just in time.”

    The document noted that “facilities for making deadly nerve agents were also producing legitimate products like pesticides,” but “such sites also could employ ‘just in time’ manufacturing and delivery systems to reduce the need for stockpiles.” It said the Iraqi tractor-trailer seized in northern Iraq in April and outfitted with equipment that could be used to manufacture biological agents represented “physical evidence of such an approach.”

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    Academic Job Market

    By Steven Taylor @ 4:35 pm

    The academics in the audience will find the following from very amusing (others will only find it somewhat amusing).

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    By Steven Taylor @ 4:19 pm

    Thanks to Nathan Lott for linking to PoliBlog.

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    Naked Protests

    By Steven Taylor @ 3:03 pm

    And what, exactly, will this accomplish? (Rate PG-13)

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    More Hand-Holding

    By Steven Taylor @ 11:15 am

    More of the same:

    Although I will say that it beats all the hand-wringing over the FCC!

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    Greenspan Says Nice Things About the Economy

    By Steven Taylor @ 11:13 am

    Really. Go look for yourself.

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    Democratic In-Fighting

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:17 am

    E. J. Dionne’s column in today’s WaPo is worth a read. It details the current in-fighting amongst the Nine Dwarves (especially the Kerry-Dean grudgematch), and concludes with the following:

    The contest for the 2004 Democratic nomination cannot be understood apart from two factors. One is the intense opposition to Bush at the Democratic grass roots. The other is the widely held sense that the party’s older strategies and internal arguments are inadequate to its current problems. Candidates can’t win if they address only one of these concerns. But addressing both at the same time will require a political magic that Democrats haven’t seen yet.

    Which is pretty much on target-although the main problem for the Democrats is the lack of message-which is going to affect their ability to win centrist voters. The Democratic base is going to vote Democratic no matter what, although the anti-Bush fervor will be the element which propels one of the Nine to the nomination. It is, of course, the issue of issues that will give (or not) the Democratic nominee a true shot at Bush.

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    By Steven Taylor @ 9:35 am

    Thanks to Dave Rodrigues of Totally Whacked for blogrolling PoliBlog.

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    The Siren’s Call

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:32 am


    A soft, sensual voice speaks over the radio to rebels in the jungles and mountains of Colombia, urging them to put down their weapons and rejoin society.

    “We must surrender,” murmurs the government-employed radio announcer known as the Flower of the Wilderness. “We must depend on our authorities, on the military institutions of our country.”

    The broadcasts are part of a major campaign by hardline President Alvaro Uribe to entice rebels to desert, while also squeezing them through military action and increased police presence in rural areas.

    TV commercials feature first-person testimonies of others who have deserted, who say they have been well treated. Airdrops of leaflets proclaim: “Escape! Many of your companions have done it!”

    Deserters are promised clothing, food, protection for themselves and their families and given the opportunity to change their identities. They also have access to health care, education and work training under the government’s rehabilitation program.

    Uribe’s campaign has shown quick results. Since the beginning of this year, 640 insurgents, including leftist rebels and right-wing paramilitary fighters, have turned themselves in - 40 percent more than the same period last year.

    Source: Taipei Times

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    By Steven Taylor @ 7:57 am

    The horror!

    Victoria and David Beckham were refused Hollywood star treatment when a shoe shop owner told Posh: “I have no idea who you are.”

    The former Spice Girl and her football star husband were snubbed when they asked a Los Angeles store to close its doors so they could shop in private.

    Source: Headline news from Sky News - Witness the event

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    Lyrics Contest

    By Steven Taylor @ 7:51 am

    For those who might be interested, Bryan of AWS is holding a lyrics contest. The details are here.

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    Monday, June 2, 2003
    Keeping the Weirdness Alive

    By Steven Taylor @ 7:55 pm

    Well, after a day of decent-to-good economic news, and after a nice uptick in the market over the past several days here comes this: IBM Says SEC Probing Its Accounting

    International Business Machines Corp. on Monday said that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission had begun a formal investigation of how the world’s largest computer company accounted for some revenue in 2000 and 2001.

    It will be very interesting to see how the markets react to this news. Either this is more of the weirdness, or, if this just causes a brief hiccup, a test of whether the weirdness is waning.

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    Fun With Quizzes (And this one is Pretty Accurate)

    By Steven Taylor @ 2:46 pm
    You are 40% geek
    You are a geek liaison, which means you go both ways. You can hang out with normal people or you can hang out with geeks which means you often have geeks as friends and/or have a job where you have to mediate between geeks and normal people. This is an important role and one of which you should be proud. In fact, you can make a good deal of money as a translator.

    Normal: Tell our geek we need him to work this weekend.

    You [to Geek]: We need more than that, Scotty. You’ll have to stay until you can squeeze more outta them engines!

    Geek [to You]: I’m givin’ her all she’s got, Captain, but we need more dilithium crystals!

    You [to Normal]: He wants to know if he gets overtime.

    Take the Polygeek Quiz at

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    What’s With all the Hand-Holding?

    By Steven Taylor @ 2:39 pm

    First, James has this, and now this:

    Hat tip: Drudge

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    More on the FCC

    By Steven Taylor @ 2:35 pm

    Michael at Armchair Analyst has a take on the rules changes that is worth a read.

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    A Noteworthy Toon

    By Steven Taylor @ 1:50 pm

    Speaking of Robert Byrd, James of OTB posts a rather amusing Day by Day.

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    More on the FCC Rules Changes

    By Steven Taylor @ 1:44 pm

    Forbes has a nice summary of the FCC’s changes. My conclusion: the sky is hardly falling. Indeed, while some see the ability of TV stations to own radio stations and newspapers in the same town as one of the Four Horsemen, I would argue that such mergers may lead to better services to consumers (for example-local newspapers tend to have better reporting capabilities than do local TV stations, so the sharing of resources between a TV station and a local newspaper could be a boon, rather than a doom, to news consumers).

    Filed under: US Politics | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
    One of My Pet Peeves

    By Steven Taylor @ 12:02 pm

    Philip K. Howard (not to be confused with one-time Presidential candidate Howard Phillips) in his Time column asks the following question concerning our health care system:

    why can’t somebody just use common sense and fix things?

    This question ranks up as one of my top Pet Peeves of Politics (up there with “why can’t we all just get along,” and “we should just do the people’s business"). The retort is quite simple: we don’t all agree on what constitutes “common sense.” When people appeal to “doing the right thing” or “what’s right” it is normally in a context where there is no prima facie right thing to do, but rather a legitimate debate exists. I will grant that sometimes there is a clear right thing to do, but those circumstances are rare, especially in public policy.

    Politics is about the reasoned (and sometimes unreasonable) interchange of ideas, and democracy especially is about compromise. Appeals to “common sense” and so forth are an attempt to dodge the debate and cast those who don’t agree with you as favoring the unreasonable (because, if Congress, or whomever, isn’t seeing “common sense", then they are clearly ignoring the obvious, correct?). This is not legitimate argumentation.

    Plus, common sense ain’t always what it’s cracked up to be.

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    • Wizbang linked with Good Morning Blogosphere, Our Guest This Morning Is Claire...
    Weirdness, but on the Upside

    By Steven Taylor @ 11:24 am

    Weirdness continues (i.e., news is bad (in that the index is below 50), but not as bad as expected, and therefore is good), although perhaps it is fading:

    The Institute for Supply Management said its manufacturing index was 49.4 percent last month, up from 45.4 in April. A reading below 50 means manufacturing activity is slowing; above 50 indicates the industry is growing.

    The result was somewhat better than forecasts by analysts, who had expected the long slowdown in the manufacturing sector to continue and had projected a reading of 48.5.

    But, I guess this is the bottom line:

    “There are signs of life in manufacturing,'’ said Norbert J. Ore, who oversees the index for ISM.

    as stocks are up on this news, as well as the FCC Rules change, amongst other reasons

    Source: Manufacturing Activity Slides, but Shows Improvement

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    FCC Vote

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:55 am

    As expected: F.C.C. Votes to Relax Rules Limiting Media Ownership

    Federal regulators relaxed decades-old rules restricting media ownership Monday, permitting companies to buy more television stations and own a newspaper and a broadcast outlet in the same city.

    And this sort of thing annoys me, not because it isn’t factual, but because the way the fact in question is tacked on to the story is meant to lend a certain sinister edge to the story:

    The Republican-controlled Federal Communications Commission voted 3-2 - along party lines - to adopt a series of changes favored by media companies.

    Because we all know that big companies are evil, and if they favor something it is because they want to maniacally squeeze a few more dollars out of the public before finally, and utterly, takin us all to Hades in a handbasket.

    And I just don’t buy this:

    The critics of eased rules include consumer advocates, civil rights and religious groups, small broadcasters, writers, musicians, academicians and the National Rifle Association. They say most people still get news mainly from television and newspapers, and combining the two is dangerous because those entities will not monitor each other and provide differing opinions.

    In large markets there will be plenty of competition, and in smaller markets the news coverage is already mediocre at best, and likely pretty lousy overall.

    And I still maintain that information sources are far more plentiful now than when those rules were written, and the idea that there will be these vast cabals who will control our access to information is a bit hysterical. Especially since there is this prevailing myth that we came from an era of vast choices that have been squelched by conglomerates, when in fact it wasn’t that long ago we had far, far fewer choices for news and information-especially in medium to small markets.

    Mostly the panic seems to be over the access of conservative-linked companies or personalities. The main arguments I hear are that 1) Rupert Murdoch is going to be too powerful, to wit:

    Some ads took on Rupert Murdoch, whose News Corp. owns Fox News Channel, 20th Century Fox TV and film studios, the New York Post and other media properties. Murdoch told a Senate committee last month he has no plan for a media buying spree after the changes, other than his proposed acquisition of DirecTV, the nation’s largest satellite television provider.

    And, 2) Rush Limbaugh dominates the radiowaves, and this is blamed on that great bugaboo, Clear Channel-despite the fact that Limbaugh rose to prominence before CC grew to the size it currently has obtained. Plus, no one was freaking out when the only thing on AM radio at night was Larry King.

    Filed under: US Politics | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
    Hopefully Not Just a Lone Ranger…

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:52 am

    The truth of the matter is, Texans think that anything called “Rangers” is cool and romantic.

    And it beats “Pioneers":

    President Bush, who owes his personal fortune to the Texas Rangers baseball team, is hoping the name will help provide him another bonanza in political fund-raising.

    People close to the Bush re-election campaign said the top Republican fund-raisers, those who raise at least $200,000 for the Bush campaign, will be known as Rangers.

    There are two types of Texas Rangers. One is the elite law enforcement unit that dates to the days when Texas was an independent republic. The other is the Major League Baseball team Mr. Bush formerly co-owned, in which his $606,000 investment turned into a profit of more than $14 million.

    In the 2000 campaign, the top Bush fund-raisers -those who raised at least $100,000-� were known as Pioneers. In the 2004 campaign, those supporters who raise $100,000 but do not attain $200,000 will still be awarded the Pioneer title.

    Source: Bush’s Heaviest Hitters to Be Called Rangers

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    Diplomatic Body Language

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:42 am

    Amusing: Who’s Cool at G-8 Meeting? It’s All in Bush’s Gestures

    The big handshake between the trans-Atlantic odd couple, President Bush and President Jacques Chirac of France, finally happened here this hot and muggy Sunday afternoon on the shores of Lake Geneva. It was, in the end, both a dramatic letdown and a diplomatic success: decorous, accompanied by polite chatter, but with no glimpse into the feelings of two emotional men.

    What was far more telling was watching Mr. Bush on a flower-filled terrace of the 19th-century H�tel Royal � as Mr. Chirac stayed by his side � working the room of fellow global power brokers.

    Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi of Italy, who supported Mr. Bush on Iraq, got a big neck squeeze. Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi of Japan, who in late May spent two hours lounging around the pool with Mr. Bush at his Texas ranch (and who supported him on Iraq), got an arm around the back. Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain, the president’s closest ally on Iraq, got a swinging handshake, as if he were one of Mr. Bush’s Yale fraternity brothers.

    And this is especially amusing:

    The reporter persisted, “You know it’s customary to kiss on both cheeks, right?”

    “That’s only if you are French, I think,” the official replied. “We don’t do that in the United States. In Texas they don’t do that.”

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    By Steven Taylor @ 9:37 am

    Thanks to Reductio Ad Absurdum Blog for linking to PoliBlog!

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    Sunday, June 1, 2003
    Pending FCC Vote

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:03 pm

    The Christian Science Monitor has an editorial on the pending FCC rules change that is on target:

    Opponents of the changes - on the left and right - say they will lead to further concentration of media control by a few powerful companies - companies they view as more interested in profits than in serving the community with good programming.

    But there’s little evidence to suggest that ownership concentration by itself hurts programming quality or local news, which is generally mediocre regardless of who owns the station. The idea that locally owned stations provide better local programming and news coverage doesn’t play out in real life. And the suggestion in the lead Opinion piece in today’s Monitor that the FCC should study local news content raises the disturbing possibility of government interference in news coverage.

    By and large, corporations that own media keep their political positions separate from their media content - sometimes more so than local owners. They want to appeal to the widest possible audience, programming different stations for different interests, political and artistic. Such a business strategy attracts more viewers to the range of a company’s stations, generating more ad revenue.

    That market imperative can ensure diversity of views. An example is Infinity Broadcasting, which owned two radio stations in New York City in 1998. Each endorsed a different candidate for mayor that year.

    Really, I have a hard time taking all the critics of the proposed changes all that seriously.

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    • Armchair Analyst linked with Who's Afraid of the FCC
    Frank Abagnale

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:49 pm

    As with A Beautiful Mind (also an excellent movie), Catch Me if You Can, given its basis in a real story, made me wonder how much was, in fact, based on reality. Here are some interesting links for those who might also be interested:

  • Comments from Frank W. Abagnale
  • An interview with Abagnale


  • A brief newspaper article with some info on Abagnale and the movie.

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    PoliReview: Catch Me if You Can

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:21 pm

    Continuing what has to be a record string of non-political posts, here�s another movie review.

    Last night we watched Catch Me if You Can (yes, we had a coupon from Blockbuster, hence the movie fest. We also rented Jonah: A Veggie Tales Movie, which I shall refrain from reviewing, but will note that it was fine of you like talking Veggies, which, on balance, I do�). While I had moderly high expectations for the film, I must say that they were significantly exceeded. I found the story compelling (and that is partially because it �inspired by actual events�), the dialog believable, the direction spot on, and the acting superb. The only gripe I had was that towards the end I was semi-confused by some of the jumping around in time, but that was as much owing to my lack of paying adequate attention to the dates on the screen as anything else.

    DiCaprio was very good in the leading role, as was Hanks as the FBI agent in hot pursuit. Also noteworthy was Christopher Walken as DiCaprio�s father.

    The film is failr family-friendly, for those who care about such things. There were a few (I recall two) uses of, shall we say, �high caliber� profanity, and there are two scenes with �sexual content� that were tame by prime-time TV standards. Of course small children wouldn�t find this movie very interesting anyway, as the financial crimes and impersonations would be lost on little ones anway.

    At any rate, a very entertaining movie, which I can whole-heartedly recommend.

    Of course, since this is a non-genre flick, there is less geekboy ranting and counterfactualizing, so this is a short review.

    Overall: **** � our of 5

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    Another Blogroll

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:32 pm

    My thanks to MediaReview for blogrolling PoliBlog!

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    Slow Day at PoliBlog

    By Steven Taylor @ 5:42 pm

    Well, between sleeping late-ish., church, lunch out, taking the kids to a birthday party and other misc. stuff, there hasn’t been much blogging today. Heck, I haven’t really read the news as yet.

    Meanwhile, you can alway amuse your self with the anit-Blog*Spot graphic that Kevin of Wizbang has created, and maybe even aid him in his quest for a button.

    And BTW, I have blogrolled the three folks mentioned earlier today who had graciously blogrolled me. I was going to do it this morning, but ran out of time.

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    By Steven Taylor @ 9:37 am

    My thanks to the followng for adding PoliBlog to their blogrolls:

  • Random Acts of Kindness
  • Tiger: Raggin’ & Rantin’

  • Wizbang

    And thanks to James of OTB for testing my hypotheses from yesterday. He proved that getting a link from at least a medium-sized blog gets one noticed, even if it is by saying “This guy’s blog is boring” :)

    And BTW, I now have 63 details on the TTLB Ecocsystem and am now a “Maurading Marsupial"-thanks for the links (and keep ‘em coming!)

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    • Tiger: Raggin’ & Rantin’ linked with Blogoshere evolution
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