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Thursday, July 31, 2003
Speaking of Dean

By Steven Taylor @ 7:46 pm

The Tough Democrat has some words of criticism/advice to Dean as well. I concur with TD that Dean did not govern in Vermont as a strict liberal, and that many of his stances (such as a balanced budget and gun rights) are moderate in nature. I would further agree, however, that Dean’s image in the current campaign has been as an ultra-lib that Dean himself has done nothing to deflect the notion that he is the second coming of McGovern, and that perception will harm him in the long-run, should he win the nomination.

His biggest problem is going to be national security, where he is clearly to the left of center and that will be a huge liability in the next election. Indeed, as I have stressed before, national security is going to be as big in 2004 as it was during the Cold War for this electoral cycle (and, I believe, into the future). 1992, 1996 and 2000 were all aberrations in the sense that foreign policy was clearly less important than domestic issues.

I would also point out that on issues such as abortion and universal health care, Dean is quite liberal. And while his stance on gay marriage is more moderate than some (i.e., he is pro “civil union” and not necessarily pro-gay marriage), the fact that he signed the first civil union bill into law will place him in the far-left, at least from the general perception of the electorate.

And I also believe that his personality, though appealing to his hard-core, angry-at-Bush, supporters, will also be a liability. He isn’t all that likeable. And the angry routine is a lot less likely to appeal to the swing voters.

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Drumming Dean

By Steven Taylor @ 5:34 pm

Kevin Drum provides some pointed criticism of Howard Dean’s national security speech to the CFR. Kevin makes some excellent points vis-a-vis Dean (and the Democrats in general) in terms of the national security issue and the upcoming 2004 campaign.

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Good GDP Numbers

By Steven Taylor @ 3:34 pm

Brad DeLong comments on the good econ news and the math skills of journalists.

James of OTB has a good summary of the GDP news from WaPo that I meant to blog on this morning.

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Oh, My

By Steven Taylor @ 2:06 pm

Okaaaay: Woman changes name to

She knew her new name might finally stick when she got a phone message recently: “Hi, This is your mother. Please call me.”

It might sound more than a little odd - but it’s true. A young animal rights activist from Indiana once known as Karin Robertson has legally changed her name to that of a Web site run by her employer, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

It’s not a first name or a last name - just one name. And don’t call her “Veg” or “Dot,” as some have tried to do.

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Not that Big a Deal

By Steven Taylor @ 1:57 pm

Stories like this: Report: Sen. Edwards Owes $11,000 in Taxes seem to emerge every election.

The Washington Times reported Thursday that the North Carolina senator, a millionaire personal injury lawyer worth somewhere between $12 million and $30 million, owes the District of Columbia (search) more than $11,000.

And while it makes a great soundbite for a commercial/debate fodder, is it really that big a deal? If you are worth between $12 and $30 million and own multiple homes, is it all that ridiculous to suppose that a bill might be misplaced or overlooked?

Now granted, he had better get it paid PDQ.

And I say all this whilst still thinking Edwards to be a unimpressive nonstarter of a candidate.

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Poindexter to Resign

By Steven Taylor @ 1:50 pm

This is almost certianly a good thing. He never struck me as a good person to be in such a controversial position.

The admiral who developed two controversial Pentagon database programs quickly killed by Congress is leaving his post as head of the Information Awareness Office at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

Senior Defense Department officials said Thursday John Poindexter will resign from his advisory position in the “next few weeks.”

“My understanding is that he is working through the details, and he expects to, within the next few weeks, offer his resignation,” the official said.


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Mobilizing the Seniors-Who-Inhaled Vote

By Steven Taylor @ 12:40 pm

Willie Nelson ads for Kucinich hit the Iowa airwaves

Country music singer Willie Nelson is taking his support for Democratic presidential hopeful Dennis Kucinich to the radio waves this week.

“Hey Iowa. This is Willie Nelson,” says the singer, as his hit song “On the Road Again” plays in the background.

“I don’t usually get too involved in politics, but I’m supporting Congressman Dennis Kucinich for President. I know Dennis and I know he speaks up for heartland Americans who need a stronger voice,” Nelson says in the 30- and 60-second spots.

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  • Arguing with signposts… linked with Willie Nelson's choice for POTUS
When You Fire Your Agent

By Steven Taylor @ 11:48 am

Can we say “oops"?

Carter spent his four-year career in Miami, averaging 4.1 points and 4.1 assists in 49 games last season. He became a free agent when his representatives mistakenly failed to exercise a player option that would have allowed him to make $4.1 million with the Heat next season.

Although moving to the World Champs ain’t a bad thing…

Terms have not been disclosed, so it is unclear how bad an “oops” this was.

Source: Spurs sign guards Anthony Carter, Devin Brown

UPDATE: It is DEFINITELY time to fire the agent:

Free agent point guard Anthony Carter signed a two-year contract for the veteran minimum of $1,496,225 with the Spurs on Wednesday, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported.

Source: Spurs: Carter signs a two-year deal

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Another Blogging-Relevant Toon

By Steven Taylor @ 11:37 am

This goes along well with this morning’s Dilbert offering.

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The Value of Political Parties

By Steven Taylor @ 11:29 am

If anyone doubts the importance of political parties and nomination processes, not to mention reasonable barriers to entry to ballots for fringe candidates, then the situation in CA should quell those concerns:

Even as the parties planned strategy, the field of potential replacement candidates for Davis mushroomed: To date, a total of 123 Californians have taken out papers to run for governor in the recall, according to the Secretary of State’s Office.

Source: Riordan, Feinstein at center of parties’ recall buzz

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Who Said It? #2

By Steven Taylor @ 11:23 am

“If Saddam defies the world and we fail to respond, we will face a far greater threat in the future. Saddam will strike again at his neighbors. He will make war on his own people. And mark my words, he will develop weapons of mass destruction. He will deploy them, and he will use them.”

Click below to find out!

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Who Said It?

By Steven Taylor @ 11:21 am

“I know I speak for everyone in this chamber, Republicans and Democrats, when I say to Saddam Hussein, “You cannot defy the will of the world,” and when I say to him, “You have used weapons of mass destruction before. We are determined to deny you the capacity to use them again.”

Click below to find out!

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More on Gay Marriage

By Steven Taylor @ 10:01 am

Like I said yesterday here and here:

But while Mr. Bush’s response had political clarity, it left supporters on both sides of the issue puzzled as to the legal aspects. The reason is that there already is a law, known as the Defense of Marriage Act, that appears to address the two principal concerns of gay marriage opponents. The law, signed by President Clinton in 1996, prohibits any federal recognition of gay marriage, meaning that benefits like those given under Social Security or to veterans may be claimed only by a surviving spouse of the opposite sex. In addition, the law relieves states of any obligation to recognize gay marriages performed in other states where they might be legal.

Source: Bush Backs Bid to Block Gays From Marrying

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How Odd

By Steven Taylor @ 9:32 am

I have never seen this in students, bloggers, commentators, or academics:

So, what is Scott Adams talking about?

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Wednesday, July 30, 2003
The Same Topic Continued…

By Steven Taylor @ 9:50 pm

While on the topic, Jonah Goldberg’s current column: Conservative study reveals academic bias is also on the topic of the “study” of conservatism,” which he summarizes as follows:

Now, this whole thing is what I like to call a pinata of asininity - bash it from any angle and from any distance and you will get some reward.

Go ahead, read the whole thing.

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  • Tiger: Raggin’ & Rantin’ linked with What is good for the goose
Hitler Doesn’t Make the Cut Either

By Steven Taylor @ 9:42 pm

Nor do the following excerpts from “The 25 Points of Hitler’s Nazi Party” comport well with the ideological perspectives of modern American conservatives:

4. Only those who are our fellow countrymen can become citizens. Only those who have German blood, regardless of creed, can be our countrymen. Hence no Jew can be a countryman.

7. We demand that the State shall above all undertake to ensure that every citizen shall have the possibility of living decently and earning a livelihood. If it should not be possible to feed the whole population, then aliens (non-citizens) must be expelled from the Reich.

11. That all unearned income, and all income that does not arise from work, be abolished.

14. We demand profit-sharing in large industries.

16. We demand the creation and maintenance of a sound middle-class, the immediate communalization of large stores which will be rented cheaply to small tradespeople, and the strongest consideration must be given to ensure that small traders shall deliver the supplies needed by the State, the provinces and municipalities.

17. We demand an agrarian reform in accordance with our national requirements, and the enactment of a law to expropriate the owners without compensation of any land needed for the common purpose. The abolition of ground rents, and the prohibition of all speculation in land.

25. In order to carry out this program we demand: the creation of a strong central authority in the State, the unconditional authority by the political central parliament of the whole State and all its organizations.

The formation of professional committees and of committees representing the several estates of the realm, to ensure that the laws promulgated by the central authority shall be carried out by the federal states.

The leaders of the party undertake to promote the execution of the foregoing points at all costs, if necessary at the sacrifice of their own lives.

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Il Duce was No Conservative

By Steven Taylor @ 9:37 pm

Yesterday, I made reference to a study that purports to demonstrate what a “conservative” is, and it ain’t pretty.

The press release from the study proffered Hitler, Mussolini, Ronald Reagan and Rush Limbaugh as four “individuals” who nonetheless all exemplified “right-wing conservat[ism]". This struck me as, shall we say, a bit ridiculous.

In my original post I stated that the study poorly defined conservatism, and in the comments section I noted that I would eventually blog on what I thought was a proper definition of conservatism. This post is more about what conservatism in the American context isn’t-specifically, it isn’t fascism as defined by Benito Mussolini. As the title of the post says, Il Duce was no conservative.

Fascism was a decided illiberal ideology-indeed, it was anti-liberal (in the classical sense). And sense American conservatism is an offshoot of classical liberalism, I have a rather hard time with the Berkley study’s categorization of Mussolini and Hitler with Reagan and Limbaugh.

For example, in Mussolini’s own definition of fascism, he states the following:

  • “the nineteenth century was the century of Socialism, of Liberalism, and of Democracy, it does not necessarily follow that the twentieth century must also be a century of Socialism, Liberalism and Democracy: political doctrines pass, but humanity remains, and it may rather be expected that this will be a century of authority…a century of Fascism. For if the nineteenth century was a century of individualism it may be expected that this will be the century of collectivism and hence the century of the State….”
  • “After Socialism, Fascism combats the whole complex system of democratic ideology, and repudiates it, whether in its theoretical premises or in its practical application. Fascism denies that the majority, by the simple fact that it is a majority, can direct human society; it denies that numbers alone can govern by means of a periodical consultation, and it affirms the immutable, beneficial, and fruitful inequality of mankind, which can never be permanently leveled through the mere operation of a mechanical process such as universal suffrage…. ”
  • “The foundation of Fascism is the conception of the State, its character, its duty, and its aim. Fascism conceives of the State as an absolute, in comparison with which all individuals or groups are relative, only to be conceived of in their relation to the State. The conception of the Liberal State is not that of a directing force, guiding the play and development, both material and spiritual, of a collective body, but merely a force limited to the function of recording results: on the other hand, the Fascist State is itself conscious and has itself a will and a personality - thus it may be called the “ethic” State….”
  • “…Fascism denies, in democracy, the absur[d] conventional untruth of political equality dressed out in the garb of collective irresponsibility, and the myth of “happiness” and indefinite progress…. ”

    It is rather difficult to be intellectually honest and argue that such sentiments sound like Reagan, and any other American conservative.

    Source for quotations: Modern History Sourcebook: Mussolini: What is Fascism, 1932

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    Judicial Vote Update

    By Steven Taylor @ 2:06 pm

    GOP fails third try to force Owen vote

    Republicans seeking again to focus attention on President Bush’s thwarted judicial nominees failed Tuesday for the third time to break a Democratic filibuster on the nomination of Texas Judge Priscilla Owen.
    The Senate was seven votes shy of the 60 needed to bring a quick end to debate, leaving the nomination in legislative limbo.

    The vote on Owen - a Texas Supreme Court justice nominated for the U.S. 5th District Court of Appeals in New Orleans - was the first of four floor votes scheduled this week on Bush judicial selections who have provoked partisan division. They include the nomination of Alabama Attorney General William Pryor to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta.

    As in previous votes, Sens. Zell Miller of Georgia and Ben Nelson of Nebraska were the only Democrats joining the Republican majority in favor of confirming Owen.

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    Sully’s With Me

    By Steven Taylor @ 12:36 pm

    Concerning confusion over the President’s pronouncements today vis-a-vis DOMA: “A LAW?”

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    By Steven Taylor @ 12:25 pm

    Here’s the relevant passage of the “Defense Of Marriage Act” 5/96 H.R. 3396


    “7. Definition of ‘marriage’ and ’spouse’

    “In determining the meaning of any Act of Congress, or of any ruling, regulation, or interpretation of the various administrative bureaus and agencies of the United States, the word ‘marriage’ means only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife, and the word ’spouse’ refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife.".

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    Gay Marriage

    By Steven Taylor @ 12:18 pm


    President Bush said today that federal government lawyers are working on legislation that would define marriage as a union between a man and woman.

    Two things come to mind. First, DOMA (the Defense of Marriage Act of 1996) already defines marraige for federal purposes as being a union of a male and female. Second, the basic power to regulate marriage is a power reserved to the states, so I don’t see how, aside from a constitutional amendment, that the feds can legitimately get involved in this.

    Source: Bush Looking for Means to Prevent Gay Marriage in U.S.

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    Also Indeed

    By Steven Taylor @ 12:03 pm

    “Saddam Hussein is no longer bad news. He’s a piece of trash waiting to be collected,” Powell told Reuters in an interview.

    Source: Powell: Saddam Is ‘Piece of Trash’ to Be Collected

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    • The American Mind linked with Quote of the Day

    By Steven Taylor @ 11:45 am

    “I remind some of my friends that it took us a while to go from the Articles of Confederation to the United States Constitution. Even our own experiment with democracy didn’t happen overnight. I never have expected Thomas Jefferson to emerge in Iraq in a 90-day period.”
    -President Bush in his Press Conference today.

    Source: President Bush Discusses Top Priorities for the U.S.

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    By Steven Taylor @ 10:52 am

    Thanks to Right Wing News for linking to Poliblog.

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    What if You Say “No” After You’re Done?

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:49 am

    I in no way want to dimish the crime of rape, but please:

    A new rape law in Illinois attempts to clarify the issue of consent by emphasizing that people can change their mind while having sex.

    Under the law, if someone says “no” at any time the other person must stop or it becomes rape. The National Crime Victim Law Institute said it believed the law is the first of its kind in the country.

    Lyn Schollett, general counsel for the Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault, said the law was important to make it clear to victims, offenders, prosecutors and juries that people have the right to halt sexual activity at any time.

    Not that someone shouldn’t have the right to stop in the middle of the act, but I have to question the definition of this as “rape” per se.

    Really, it strikes me that the best way to avoid these sorts of situations is to avoid casual sex.

    Source: Rape law permits changing mind during sex act

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    Terror Futures Market

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:28 am

    The thing that strikes me most about this:

    The Defense Department announced yesterday that it is canceling a controversial program to develop a futures market that would allow traders to bet on wars, assassinations and terrorism in the Middle East.

    is that the many of the loudest critics of this program are the same ones wailing about out lack of dot-connecting prior to 9/11. Surely this represents an attempt to find a way to connect dots going forward?

    I understand the visceral reaction to “betting on death:"-but the criticisms have been emotional, not reasoned. Indeed, I think some people think that this was like an office pool rather than a research tool.

    Source: Is a Futures Market on Terror Outlandish?

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    Gore in 04?

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:56 am

    I expected this, but still don’t think it would be a good idea for him:

    Former Vice-President Al Gore is coming under pressure from political supporters and friends to jump into the 2004 presidential campaign even though he ruled himself out in December.

    There’ll be more Hillary talk as well, given the lack of general enthusiam for the current Nine (such as this poll indicates).

    And, when will it ever die?

    A second Gore confidant, Steve Armistead, a local Tennessee government official, said: “I think he’d like to grit his teeth and jump back in, but I can’t speak for him. I don’t think he liked the medicine he got from the Supreme Court.”

    Ugh. How about I don’t think he liked the medicine the voters of Florida, and especially Tennessee gave him last go ’round. Yeesh. As James of OTB pointed out yesterday, Gore was never ahead in the recounts in Florida, and the ex post media recounts had Bush winning as well.

    Source: Backers pressure Gore to run again next year

    Hat tip: Drudge.

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    • OUTSIDE THE BELTWAY linked with GORE IN '04?

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:49 am

    My thanks to Brad DeLong for adding Poliblog to his blogroll.

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    It Really Isn’t that Complicated

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:16 am

    The following question:

    “What has gotten into Howard Dean?”

    Was asked as a result of the following:

    During a special live broadcast of the Vermont Public Radio program “Switchboard” before an audience of Iowa Democrats here, the host played two audio clips of his guest, Howard Dean.

    The first, from Dr. Dean’s 1999 State of the State address, delivered when he was governor of Vermont, was a staid, nonpartisan call to view all Vermont as one community. In the second, which came from the official kickoff of Dr. Dean’s presidential campaign last month, you could practically hear fists flying as he shouted over and over, “You have the power!” and “We’re going to take our country back!”

    The answer is quite simple: in the first bite he is trying to govern. In the second, he is campaigning-and therefore trying to appeal to a radically different audience.

    This ain’t rocket science.

    In all seriousness, being the Governor is different than being a candidate. And, for that matter, being candidate for governor is far different than being a candidate in a presidential primary-especially in a crowded field.

    Source: Defying Labels Left or Right, Dean’s ‘04 Run Makes Gains

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    Tuesday, July 29, 2003
    Out of the Mouths of Thugs…

    By Steven Taylor @ 6:45 pm

    “This time I think the Americans are serious. Bush is not like Clinton. I think this is the end.” Spoken by Uday Hussein to Ala’a Makki, the former director of Uday’s television station, on April 6 2003. Uday and his brother Qusay had been promoted by their father in a secret meeting two days earlier as American bombs pounded Baghdad.

    Hat Tip: Brit Hume and A Little More To The Right

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    A Question for the Ages

    By Steven Taylor @ 6:37 pm

    Why is it that asking children to play in their rooms with their mountains of toys is treated as though one is casting them into the torture pit?

    And, I would note, that my children have more toys than all the children in the Czech Republic and Slovakia combined. I am fairly certain that this is an empirical fact.

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    Three Rings and a Big Top

    By Steven Taylor @ 6:20 pm

    Yesterday, I stated that the CA recall was going to be a circus. Today, James of OTB has proof.

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    The 2000 Numbers

    By Steven Taylor @ 4:42 pm

    The official numbers can be found here: Federal Elections 2000:  Table of Contents, should anyone want them.

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    Revisiting 2000 and Other Electoral Tales

    By Steven Taylor @ 4:41 pm

    James Joyner and Brad DeLong have been discussing the 2000 elections and the relative merit of the colors of maps.

    Personally, I have never been a big fan of the color purple (although the movie was ok, I guess). At any rate, Brad’s shaded map actually highlights something that I have argued since the election (and James can attest to this, as we were working together at the time): that despite all of the cries of “polarized!!” the honest truth is that the 2000 election represented a tie between two candidates there were not radically different. By this I mean that while each held important differences on policy, they hardly represented two political extremes. 2000 wasn’t Farrakhan v. Duke or even Nader v. Buchanan.

    Even now, with all the grousing by some regarding “one party rule” in DC, the truth of the matter is that the Reps are hardly acting in a fashion that is worlds away from what the Dems would do in the majority. The education bill, the farm bill, the prescription drug bill, campaign finance reform, and so forth, are hardly Rep signature issues. I even think that if Gore had won there would have been some tax cuts (although very different ones). Please understand, I am stating that things would not have been radically different, the percentage of GDP collected in taxes and spent by the federal government would have been roughly the same, the basic percentages to welfare, the military, education and so forth would have been roughly the same. And, on balance, daily life would be basically the same. This is difficult for hardcore partisans to accept, but it still true.

    I do think that the War on Terror would have been fought quite differently, however. Indeed, it is crisis that tends to distinguish presidents, nor daily legislation.

    In sum, however, the point being that red v. blue (or shades of purple) do not show a radical schism.

    And, in re: a point that James’ makes. It is foolish for the Democrats to overly-focus on the popular vote for two reasons. First, 543,895 out of 105,405,100 is about ˝ of a percentage point, and it is at least theoretically possible that in a nationwide recount that Bush would have picks up those votes, and it is also possible that Gore would have gained. Indeed, 1.9% of vote nation-wide went uncounted in 2000. In short, while half a million is a lot, it is margin-of-error stuff when we are talking about 105,405,100 votes.

    However, the really key issue is the fact that, as James noted, candidates pursue victory based on what the established rules are. In the US, presidential candidates focus on winning state not votes. If the winner were chosen by the popular vote, both Bush and Gore would have campaigned differently.

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    Gray Davis, Pander-bear

    By Steven Taylor @ 11:08 am

    And this would be a good idea because

    He [Davis] said in Los Angeles that he was anxious to sign a bill allowing illegal immigrants to receive California drivers’ licenses.

    Less than a year ago, Davis vetoed a similar bill, arguing that it would make it too easy for terrorists to obtain driver’s licenses. Because of that vote, a group of Latino Democratic lawmakers refused to endorse Davis for re-election.

    Source: Davis fans say Issa bashes gays / Governor seeks aid from Latinos, abortion-rights groups on recall

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    Oh, The Burden of it All!

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:56 am

    What, pray tell, is the onerous burden of having to vote on the recall, so as to

    constitutional scholars are challenging a requirement that voters must answer “yes” or “no” on Davis’ fate before they can vote on a possible replacement governor. Voters must answer the first question for the second question to count, officials say.

    A hearing is scheduled for today in San Diego federal court on whether this unfairly penalizes people who want their vote counted on a replacement candidate, but don’t want to vote on Davis’ fate. These voters, they contend, are being coerced into voting on the recall in order to pick a new governor.

    What right, precisely, would be violated here? And why should public monies be spent to deal with this claim?

    Kevin Drum mentioned this one yesterday, and I just got around to following-up on it.

    Source: Recall puts state law to legal test / One lawsuit says only Bustamante can replace Davis

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    Show a Little Restraint

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:46 am

    I have no problem with political humor aimed at “my” side. However, the following seems a bit out of place, if not mean-spirited, in a review of Seinfeld’s recent show in DC:

    The one disappointment was that neither Seinfeld nor Leifer did any political humor. It seemed especially odd since President Bush is such an easily mocked figure. Maybe that’s it. Maybe it’s too easy. It was dismaying, too, to hear Seinfeld ask for a round of applause for “the troops” in Iraq. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. And not that “the troops” don’t merit honor and homage. But what an easy way to get applause.

    Plus, I never recall Seinfeld doing political stuff.

    And, why would it be “dismaying” to ask for applause for the troops? This is an especially odd observation when juxtaposed with all the eulogies of Bob Hope praising him as the “friend of soldiers” (and yes, I know the Shales’ column was written before the news of Hope’s death).

    Source: Jerry Seinfeld, Uncannily In Sync With Everything

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    You Have Got to be Kidding Me…

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:00 am

    Cal Thomas’ column today discusses a psychological study, which purports to explain “conservatives":

    The American Psychological Association’s Psychological Bulletin has published a study of why conservatives are the way they are. The study was conducted by four researchers, who, according to a press release from the University of California at Berkeley’s (UCB) media relations office, “culled through 50 years of research literature about the psychology of conservatism.” (Two of the researchers are professors at UCB, which apparently remains imprisoned in ’60s dysfunctionality.) The researchers conclude that conservatives suffer from a disease or malady that makes them think the way they do.

    And, what’s the obsession with conparing conservtives to Hitler and friends?

    Disparate conservatives share a resistance to change and acceptance of inequality, the authors said. Hitler, Mussolini, and former President Ronald Reagan were individuals, but all were right-wing conservatives because they preached a return to an idealized past and condoned inequality in some form. Talk host Rush Limbaugh can be described the same way, the authors commented in a published reply to the article. (from the Press Release from UCB).

    Plus, based on reading the Press Release, I question their operationalization of the concept “conservative".

    The issue isn’t online yet, so I can’t get to the abstract. However, here are some other stories on the study:

  • Study on Conservative Thinkers Draws Fire

  • The Press Release concerning the study: Researchers help define what makes a political conservative

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    And the Mess Continues…

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:10 am

    California Budget Compromise Fails to Pass

    A compromise budget intended to cover the state government’s record deficit and break a bitter political stalemate fell nine votes short early Tuesday on the Assembly floor.

    The failure to pass the nearly $100 billion budget is at least a temporary setback for party leaders in both houses who had backed the budget plan that used a combination of spending cuts, borrowing and a variety of higher fees.

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    Another One in the Net

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:06 am

    I guess we are on Saddam’s trail. And, therefore, a little more progress:

    American soldiers overpowered and arrested a bodyguard who rarely left Saddam Hussein’s side Tuesday and said they obtained documents and information that could help them close in on the former dictator.

    As “one of Saddam’s lifelong bodyguards,'’ Adnan Abdullah Abid al-Musslit was believed to have detailed knowledge of the former president’s hiding places, said Lt. Col. Steve Russell, who led the raid. He said documents taken from the home and information obtained from the men would be useful in the hunt for Saddam.

    Source: U.S. Troops Said to Capture Hussein Bodyguard

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    Monday, July 28, 2003
    More Texas Two-Steppin’

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:11 pm

    For those wishing to fully evaluate the situation in Texas, here are some of the important antecedents. As reported in the Houston Chronicle on 11/15/01, here’s the background for the current redistricting fight:

    A three-judge federal court panel Wednesday ordered a Texas congressional redistricting map for the 2002 elections that protects all the state’s incumbents but gives Republicans the state’s two new districts.


    The order was signed by all three judges hearing the case - Republican Patrick Higginbotham of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and Democrats John T. Ward and John Hannah Jr., both U.S. district judges from Tyler.

    The case ended up in the federal courts when the Legislature failed to pass a congressional redistricting map, Gov. Rick Perry refused to call a special session for that purpose and state courts did not approve a plan.

    The court order on congressional redistricting represents a major victory for Texas Democrats and House Speaker Pete Laney, D-Hale Center, who had fought for what they called a “least change” redistricting map. That meant keeping the districts of the state’s 30 incumbents as intact as possible while fitting in the two new districts.

    Note that keeping the existing 30 districts largely intact meant keeping in place the district drawn by a heavily Democratic State Legislature in 1991.

    Also, I would note that the prospect of this session of the Texas State Legislature re-considering the lines was known well in advance, as noted by Dr. John Alford (Rice University) in this quote from the Boston Globe (11/18/01, p. A10):

    “If Republicans come back and win the state House and Senate, they could very well redraw congressional lines in the next session,” said Alford, noting the passion that surrounds the issue. “The judges described redistricting as a blood feud, and they were not kidding,” he said. “It is partisan, it is personal, and it is political.”

    Hence, this is more complex than simply the Reps making a power grab.

    And again, I will reiterate that we need a better way to draw these districts. However, for the Democrats to act as if this is some new game is specious. It is the same game both parties have played nationwide for decades. The main difference for the Texas Dems is that this is the first time that they are in the losing end.

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    Crime and Punishment

    By Steven Taylor @ 5:46 pm

    Kevin Drum reports on prison stats over at CalPundit, and in reading the comments sections I am struck by the assumption that, ipso facto the stats indicate something wrong with the US criminal justice system. While I will concur there are a remarkable number of young men in jail, there is the very real possibilitity that they deserve to be there by dint of their trangressing the laws of the US and/or the various states.

    And while I will agree that our drug laws are all screwed up (if not, in some cases, ludicrious), it isn’t like said laws are a secret or anything. People knowingly risk jail when they deal, purchase, or use illegal substances.

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    By Steven Taylor @ 5:28 pm

    What’s next? A taxpayer funded school for Celebates? Kids-Saving-Themselves-for-Marriage? Confirmed Heterosexuals? Metrosexuals?

    How about for Southern Baptists, Catholics or Shi’ites?

    Or, heck, how about black-only schools?

    What is up with this?

    The city is opening a full-fledged high school for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students - the first of its kind in the nation, The Post has learned.

    Operating for two decades as a small alternative program with just two classrooms, the new Harvey Milk HS officially opens as a stand-alone public school with 100 students in September.

    The school, located at 2 Astor Place, is undergoing a $3.2 million in city-funded renovations approved by the old Board of Education in June of last year. It will eventually take in 170 students by September 2004, more than tripling last year’s enrollment.

    It is bizarre enough to be a hoax, but it ain’t.

    Source: New York Post Online Edition: news

    Hat Tip: Drudge/Michael Medved Show

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    More Chicken Dems

    By Steven Taylor @ 5:15 pm

    Ya know, at some point you have to face up to the fact that you are minority in the chamber, don’t control the exexutive branch, and are a minority in the state. Not to mention the fact that te current districting plan is based on Democrats controlling the legislature.

    Eleven of 12 Senate Democrats boycotted the chamber Monday in a protest over a second special session on congressional redistricting and headed to Albuquerque, N.M., in a move reminiscent of a walkout by House Democrats over the issue in May.

    The Senate and House then adjourned their first special legislative session without a new congressional redistricting plan and Republican Gov. Rick Perry immediately called a new one on the same topic.

    It would be nice to have a better way to draw these lines, I must admit. However, this is the system, and the Dems really have no excuse to simply flee every time it comes up.

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    Catching Up on my Lemonade

    By Steven Taylor @ 2:31 pm

    John Lemon rightly calls me out for using some pretentious language, and provides a truly hylarious handicapping of the CA governor’s race. My fav:

    Gray Davis (Dem) vs. Bette Davis (GOP) - if the dead can vote in Illinois, they sure as hell can run in California (just like in Missouri).


    Richard Riordan (GOP) vs. Rodan (flying monster) - the latter can capitalize on the Hideo Nomo vote.

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    Even Sans Arnie, It’s Gonna Be a Circus

    By Steven Taylor @ 1:38 pm

    My guess is that Riordan will be the favorite when this all settles out. Deukmejian (who was governor when I lived there) would actually be a pretty solid choice.

    And if Arianna Huffington is on the ballot it may cause some of my “Bright” friends to take up prayer (for their state should she win).

    If either Riordan or Schwarzenegger are in, then former Gov. George Deukmejian is out. The two-term governor has the most concrete experience of any potential candidate - but says he’s interested only if there are no other Republicans in the race.

    Other potential Republican candidates include Ms. Huffington’s ex-husband, former Republican congressman and US Senate candidate Michael Huffington, and former vice-presidential hopeful Jack Kemp. William Simon, who barely lost to Davis last fall, is also considering a bid, as is State Assemblyman Keith Richman and state Sen. Tom McClintock.

    The only person to formally declare candidacy is Rep. Darrell Issa, the car-alarm millionaire who bankrolled the signature campaign to oust Davis. But with the not-so-stringent requirement of 65 signatures and $3,500 to land one’s name on the ballot, there’s high anticipation that many others will join the race - if only for fun.

    Source: Do too many candidates spoil a ballot?

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    It Might’ve Been Fun…

    By Steven Taylor @ 1:33 pm

    …but, I have to admit, it really didn’t strike me as a good situation for a newbie: Source: Schwarzenegger Won’t Run for California Governor.

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    A Winning Strategy

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:07 am

    Can we say “Mr. Mondale?”

    Democratic presidential candidates are following the politically risky strategy of embracing tax increases as key parts of their economic agendas, hoping to make mounting federal deficits and President Bush’s economic stewardship major issues in the 2004 campaign.

    Especially risky if the economy actually does recover, even a little bit, by election time.

    And if only it were this simple:

    “Most Americans would gladly pay the same taxes they paid under President Bill Clinton if they could just get the Clinton economy back,” said former Vermont governor Howard Dean, one of the leaders in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination. “People are not stupid out there.”

    Perhaps not, but one wonders about Mr. Dean’s economic acumen, if he thinks that is how it works.

    And, indeed:

    Republicans are more than willing to jump in the ring. “We would love to have a fight on taxes,” said Linda A. DiVall, a GOP pollster. “Bring it on, as the president would say.”

    Source: Democrats Not Shying Away From Tax Talk

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    Speaking of State Politics…

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:59 am

    The title of this NYT piece is quite apt: California Recall Is Part Vote, Part Spectacle

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    The States and The Economy

    By Steven Taylor @ 7:16 am


    Having already stripped the nation of a source of economic growth, the budget crises in California and in almost every other state are now beginning to drag down the national economy, prolonging the weak, jobless recovery, the latest budget numbers show.

    Over the past two years, the states have gradually cut between $20 billion and $40 billion -no one knows exactly how much-from their spending. Billions more in cutbacks are coming in the fiscal year that started July 1. In California alone, a tentative budget deal will presumably require the state to rid itself of at least $8 billion in current spending, with the cuts likely to fall most heavily on education and aid to the poor.

    Of course, the idea that the cuts would most affect education and the poor is no shock: one of the major things that state governments do is education, along with maintaining roads and funding social programs. Hence, any cut in a state budget is almost certainly going to affect education and social programs.

    And, as has oft been said, the lesson here is not to start spending like crazy during boom times, as they never last:

    The states experienced a similar deficit problem in the early 1990’s, during the last recession-and-recovery period, but the amounts involved were much less and the impact on the economy almost nil. This time, total spending by the states, which nearly doubled over the decade to more than $1.1 trillion a year, has slowed to a growth rate of barely 1 percent annually from an average of nearly 7 percent in the 1990’s.

    The slowing has been in response to a sharp drop in state tax revenue, which rose precipitously in the booming late 1990’s, in part as a result of the stock market bubble and the capital gains taxes collected on market profits. As tax revenue rose, spending by the states also increased. So did each state’s rainy day reserves, even though many states cut taxes during the good years.

    Source: Red Ink in States Beginning to Hurt Economic Recovery

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    Sunday, July 27, 2003
    Congrats to Lance

    By Steven Taylor @ 4:52 pm

    Amazing: Armstrong Makes History With Dramatic Tour Win

    Lance Armstrong, the Texan known as much as a cancer survivor as a superstar athlete, overcame two crashes, a dangerous near-miss, and an array of determined opponents to become only the second man, and the first American, to claim five successive Tour de France victories in the sport’s 100-year-history.

    Armstrong’s victory today, by a margin of only 61 seconds after more than 83 hours of racing across 3,500 kilometers, was his toughest of the five and capped what emerged as the most dramatic and unpredictable Tours in recent memory, with the champion not determined until the penultimate stage Saturday.

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    Potter Update

    By Steven Taylor @ 4:50 pm

    I was reading a story on the new Harry Potter flick (and the new director, Alfonso Cuaron), and had the following reactions:


    Cuaron also reimagined the role of Professor Dumbledore after Richard Harris’s death. British actor Michael Gambon now plays the Hogwarts headmaster as an elegant old hippie.

    And double (if not triple) huh?!?

    Cuaron’s outspokenness is also new to the franchise. Does the evil wizard Voldemort still remind him of George W. Bush, as he said recently? “In combination with Saddam,” he says. “They both have selfish interests and are very much in love with power. Also, a disregard for the environment. A love for manipulating people. I read books four and five, and Fudge”—Rowling’s slippery Minister of Magic—”is similar to Tony Blair. He’s the ultimate politician. He’s in denial about many things. And everything is for the sake of his own persona, his own power. The way the Iraq thing was handled was not unlike the way Fudge handled affairs in book four.” Cuaron’s scrappiness is either refreshing or worrying, depending on your stock portfolio.

    Nothing like a the infusion of unnecessary politics into a fairy tale.

    And this may be a good thing:

    As for Cuaron, his tour of duty in Harryland will end with “Azkaban.”

    Althought I will reserve judgement until I see the film.

    Caution: Wizard at Work

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    Man, Life in Cuba Must Suck

    By Steven Taylor @ 4:35 pm

    Exhibit A:

    Cuban migrants trying to reach the U.S. coast in Florida ride on a 1951 Chevrolet truck, converted into a marine vessel with air-filled drums for flotation and a propeller driven off the driveshaft for propulsion, July 16, 2003. REUTERS/U.S. Coast Guard

    Pretty resourceful (if dangerous).

    I first heard about this on the Olbermann show last week, but forgot to blog it.

    Source: Yahoo

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    Blogospheric Analysis

    By Steven Taylor @ 4:31 pm

    James of OTB has some interesting analysis of blog traffic on his site.

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    Fun with Electoral Rules

    By Steven Taylor @ 7:58 am

    Here’s an interesting piece on elections: How to Vote? Let Us Count the Ways

    Of course, the main problem with the following is what does “fair” or “will of the people” mean?

    Some scholars would go so far as to question whether any system of choosing a winner by way of a vote can truly be fair, at least when more than two candidates are concerned.

    Kenneth J. Arrow, a Stanford University economist, won the Nobel Prize in economics in 1972, in part for his work in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s for developing what came to be known as Arrow’s Impossibility Theorem. It provided proof that there is no way to arrange an electoral system to perfectly reflect the will of the people when it comes to choosing a winner from more than two candidates.

    Part of the issue is that voters make choices for more than one reason (i.e,. votes are not always cast for the purpose of aiding a victory):

    Consider the last presidential election results from Florida. If you accept the final, much-disputed tally, it showed that George W. Bush got slightly more votes than Al Gore, and both men trounced Ralph Nader. So Mr. Bush won the state, and the presidency. But most people in Florida voted for someone other than Mr. Bush. And since most Nader voters would presumably have preferred Mr. Gore to Mr. Bush, it follows that Mr. Gore would have been a more acceptable choice to most Floridians than Mr. Bush. But second choices do not count in the American system.

    This is all quite true, but ignores the fact that the Nader-voters had a choice to make, and they willfully chose to vote for Nader over Gore. Given the parameters of the electoral rules one could argue that that choice was an irrational one, if the goal was to reflect true preferences in the context of who would actually be elected President. However, it could be argued to be a rational choice if it was more important to the Nader-voter to express their true choice with their vote, rather than to help elect their second choice (i.e., Gore).

    And this is absolutely the case:

    the choice of election system can actually determine the outcome of the election.

    It is one of the main reasons why some countries have multi-party systems and others do not. (The article’s example of choosing the best Bond well illustrates this issue).

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    By Steven Taylor @ 7:45 am

    On the one hand, this anti-Catholic argument has been a bit heavy-handed (clearly the Democrats are not anti-Catholic, per se); on the other, I think that there is some merit to it in the sense that clearly the most significant issue for Pryor and all the nominees being filibustered (or are under threat thereof) is that of abortion. As such, any Catholic who fully subscribes to the Church’s position on abortion “need not apply.”

    However on a purely political level the situation is fairly amusing insofar as this is a “how do you like it?” kind of scenario, as normally the Reps are the ones being accused of being “anti” (i.e., anti-gay, anti-elderly, racist, etc.).

    And, interesting:

    Behind the anger of many Democrats is the suspicion that this advertising campaign is part of the Republican Party’s courtship of Catholics, an important swing vote. In general, Andy Kohut, director of the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, said Mr. Bush was “doing pretty well with white Catholics” lately.

    Source: Accusation of Bias Angers Democrats

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    By Steven Taylor @ 7:28 am

    Japan Authorizes Troops for Iraq

    In a highly contentious vote, Japan’s Parliament approved legislation today that paves the way for Tokyo to send as many as 1,000 troops to Iraq later this year as part of the American-led occupation.

    The deployment would be the first for Japanese troops in a combat zone since World War II.

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    Saturday, July 26, 2003

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:11 am


    Ensconced in an office protected by three metal detectors, a bomb-proof lift, 15 guards and three armoured-glass doors, Luis Carlos Sarmiento says Colombia is becoming safer.

    And, some interesting stats:

    The Government forecasts that expansion of South America’s fourth-largest economy may exceed 3 per cent in 2004. In 2002, gross domestic product grew 1.5 per cent.

    Last week, Uribe’s office announced that Colombia’s largest anti-Marxist paramilitary force agreed to disarm by the end of 2005. From January to June, government forces captured 2358 guerrillas, 58 per cent more than in the year-earlier period, and kidnappings fell 36 per cent to about 1000, the Defence Ministry said. In the past 12 months, the Colombia Stock Exchange index has gained 59 per cent in dollar terms, the fourth-biggest rise among 62 indexes tracked by Bloomberg.

    Source: President’s crackdown on crime revives Colombia economy

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    More on CA’s Recall

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:08 am

    From the same story:

    “We’re going to bring all the Democrats home,” said Terry McAuliffe, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, who campaigned against the recall here last weekend and is among the national Democrats advising Mr. Davis. “This is about more than Gray Davis,” he said. “It’s about an attempt to undo an election, like Florida.”

    Oh, please. Firstly, this is not about overturning anything (although it is arguably about undoing something). Like it or not, the recall process is an established element of the California State Constitution and is wholly legitimate.

    Further, since Bush had more votes than Gore in Florida dduring the entire recount process, I don’t think that it is legit to argue that the Reps tried to overturn anything. More accurately it was the Dems’ attorneys who were trying to “overturn” the election.

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    Pay No Attention to the Man Behind the Curtain

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:59 am

    You know you are in trouble when this is how you have to keep your job:

    His strategy for survival, aides say, is to make the vote about anything but Gray Davis.

    The governor’s advisers say they intend to shift the focus away from Mr. Davis’s personality and his record to what they characterize as the “right wing” agenda of the recall proponents and the high cost of the election at a time when the state faces a $38 billion deficit.

    The cost angle is a decent one, I guess, but it is also moot, given that that recall is going to happen, so griping about the price tag won’t help much.

    And when one has an approval rating of 19% or so, the issue is far more than a Vast Right Wing Conspiracy.

    Source: Davis, Fighting Recall, Is Ready to Stump Against ‘Right Wing’

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    Friday, July 25, 2003
    “The” Deck

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:46 pm

    This is probably old, but I came across it for the first time tonight-it is a nifty interactive graphic via of the the “Most Wanted” Iraqis deck of cards.

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    Out of the Mouths of Babes…

    By Steven Taylor @ 6:19 pm

    While watching Al Sharpton on Hardball my six-year-old asked me: “Why does that guy have to yell so much?”

    And he later commented: “It’s annoying that he changes his voice so much.”


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    • The World Around You linked with Six Year Old Pundit

    By Steven Taylor @ 3:18 pm

    James of OTB excerpts a list of progress in the War on Terror from a Krauthammer piece.

    It is worth a read to help keep things in perspective.

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    Brightly on the Radio

    By Steven Taylor @ 3:06 pm

    Despite the fact that I am tired of the Bright Meme, I found it amusing yesterday that it was a topic of discussion on both the Rush Limabugh Show and the Michael Medved Show.

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    Critiquing the Press

    By Steven Taylor @ 3:02 pm

    The following lead paragraph in a story on the front page of today’s Montgomery Advertiser is illustrative of a technique I see all the time, but that drives me crazy:

    Montgomery Mayor Bobby Bright seized the duties of city planning commissioners, eliminating five decades of vital public checks and balances over real estate development, angry commissioners charged Thursday.

    One sees this all the time: a normative statement written as though it is a statement of fact, but that ends up to be a paraphrase of a quotation. It clearly sets the tone for the article and suggests to the reader how they ought to feel about the subject.

    And my reaction is not based on my position on Mayor Bright’s actions, this simply struck me this morning when I read it.

    One sees this kind of presentation all the time in newspapers both great and small.

    Montgomery Advertiser: Local News

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    By Steven Taylor @ 2:55 pm

    Thanks to The Modulator for blogrolling PoliBlog.

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    How’d We Manage?

    By Steven Taylor @ 2:52 pm

    Walter Williams most recent column inspires a big “indeed.”

    Whenever someone says that this or that government program is absolutely necessary, I always wonder, “What did people do and how did they survive before the program?”

    If someone says food stamps are absolutely necessary for poor people’s survival, I wonder how America’s millions of poor immigrants made it. Unless I missed something, mass starvation is not a part of our history. Was there a stealth food stamp program during the 1700s and 1800s?

    Read the whole thing.

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    Summer Reading

    By Steven Taylor @ 2:44 pm

    I have had some time to read some non-polisci and would make the following recommendations:

  • I decided to read the Harry Potter books after being quite impressed by the movies. I read the first three and was quite impressed. The first one and the movie are nigh identical, and the second one followed very closely, although with some stuff left out of the screen version. The third, The Prisoner of Azkaban was quite good (something of a page-turner) and will make an excellent film. Despite being “kids” books, these were an enjoyable read. I look forward to reading the rest.

    So, if you like fantasy, but had decided so whatever reason not to read these (I was originally going to just watch the movies) these are worth your time.

  • I just started Terry Goodkind’s Wizard’s First Rule and am now about 200 pages into it (about 1/4th through) and have been favorably impressed-enough so that I went ahead and bought the next two in the “Sword of Truth” series. And this is some serious “fat fantasy” with the books averaging around 800 pages.
  • If you like Trek novels I would recommend Peter David’s “New Frontier” novels. They are set in the TNG universe, but is based on a non-TV ship. Most of the characters are original, although a couple of the characters (Dr. Selar and Commander Shelby) were bit characters from TNG.

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    Existential Sign?

    By Steven Taylor @ 2:24 pm

    I saw this one several times in New Mexico:

    Dust Storms May Exist for the Next 15 Miles

    They may exist, but really, who can say?

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    The ‘Net is Here to Stay

    By Steven Taylor @ 2:23 pm

    A sure sign that the Internet is here to stay; the “Flying J” truck stop outside of Abilene, Texas advertising WiFi and high-speed internet ports.

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    The Golden Arches

    By Steven Taylor @ 2:20 pm

    One thing that goes with kids and a road trip: McDonald’s.

    I am now sick to bloody death of McDonald’s. We are there eight times over the past three weeks (twice for each looong trek (i.e., AL-TX and TX-AZ and back again). (And we did Carl’s Jr. (Hardy’s in the east) between AZ and CA once).

    I am more sick of McDonald’s now than when I worked there in high school and early college!

    And why was this necessary? Mainly, kids love McD’s (and one has to placate children on a long road trip). Plus, for lunch, we’d let them play in the playlands while we ate, and then let them eat in the car.

    I can honestly say that I have had my last McDonald’s meal for a long, long time.

    And while I am on the subject: a pox on the McDonald’s in Midland, Texas for having their playland closed, but having no sign up so that we didn’t find out that it was closed until after I had ordered and paid.

    BTW, the McD’s in Big Springs, Texas is quite nice and has a very nifty playland.

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    Blabbing Bodyguard

    By Steven Taylor @ 2:02 pm

    Interesting. And it doesn’t surprise me that they didn’t leave the city. Some of the behavior prior to the war and after indicated some serious over-confidence on Saddam’s part. One wonders if he didn’t hide the WMDs on the the assumption that Baghdad wouldn’t fall, but he didn’t want them found during the war itself.

    In an exclusive interview with The Times of London, the bodyguard claimed that, far from fleeing Baghdad, the three men held out in the capital for at least a week after its fall.
    He said that they evaded repeated American attempts to assassinate or capture them, and even appeared in public under the noses of U.S. troops.

    During a three-hour interview in a house in a town an hour northwest of Baghdad, the bodyguard said that Saddam and his sons had remained in the capital throughout the war, convinced they could hold the city.

    When the first bombs fell on a house in a southern suburb, where the Americans believed Saddam and his sons were meeting, he and Uday were on the other side of the city in one of dozens of safe houses belonging to trusted friends and relatives through which the three men were to pass in the weeks to come.

    The bodyguard said the Americans’ next “decapitation” strike came a lot closer, and that Saddam survived only because several safe houses had come under attack and he suspected there was an informant within his camp.

    Saddam asked the suspect, a captain, to prepare a safe house behind a restaurant in the Mansour district for a meeting. They arrived, and left again, almost immediately, by the back door. “Ten minutes after they went out of the door, it was bombed,”

    Source: Source:

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    Good Econ News

    By Steven Taylor @ 1:57 pm

    So, now the bad?

    U.S. stocks added to gains in light, choppy trade in early afternoon on Friday as investors took comfort in a surprisingly strong report on durable goods orders and snapped up shares hit in Thursday’s late-day selloff.


    A government report showed new orders for costly manufactured goods shot up in June at the fastest rate in five months. Orders for durable goods climbed 2.1 percent, beating forecasts for a 1.0 percent increase, and fueled optimism an economic recovery is forming.

    Source: Stocks Rise, Boosted by Economic Data

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    The Good News Continues

    By Steven Taylor @ 1:53 pm

    U.S. Says It Captured Hussein’s Suspected Bodyguards:

    United States troops raided a house near Saddam Hussein’s hometown on Thursday, rounding up several people suspected of belonging to his personal security detail and enhancing the chances of finding the deposed dictator, an American military commander said today.

    “I believe that we continue to tighten the noose, and I believe that we continue to gain more and more information about where he might be,” Maj. Gen. Ray Odierno said.

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    Thursday, July 24, 2003
    Home (Por Fin!)

    By Steven Taylor @ 7:31 pm

    Well, over 4,000 miles, seven states, 90 holes, three major stops, and numerous relatives later, we are finally home.

    Regular blogging will commence shortly.

    PS: MAN, this is one BIG country.

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    Tuesday, July 22, 2003
    Adios Hermanos

    By Steven Taylor @ 7:52 pm

    I guess I got my birthday wish:

    “We’re certain that Odai and Qusai were killed today,” Sanchez said. “The bodies are in a condition where you could identify them.”

    U.S. officials told NBC News separately on condition of anonymity that senior Iraqi figures in U.S. custody had positively identified the brothers after their bodies were taken to Baghdad. Old bullet wounds further cemented the identification of Odai Hussein, who was shot 17 times and badly wounded in an assassination attempt in 1996.

    Too bad they didn’t get Papa as well…

    And, not bad for a day’s work:

    The United States had offered a $25 million bounty for Saddam and $15 million for each of his sons. Sanchez said that the raid Tuesday morning was based on “a walk-in tip” from an Iraqi source and that the U.S. government expected to pay the reward.

    Source: Saddam’s sons killed in U.S. raid

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    41 Speaks

    By Steven Taylor @ 5:07 pm

    Forty-One’s interview in July’s Texas Monthly is worth a read. Some excerpts:


    …FLFW, as Mr. Bush is known in shorthand, seems to have no place special to be. (The meaning of that abbreviation? Frechette says that when the staff had to set up the Internet domain name for the office, someone waggishly suggested “,” as in “former leader of the free world.” Mr. Bush liked it, and it stuck.)

    Also funny:

    “Mr. President,” Platon says in his full-on British accent, “I’m going to have to explain some of my English phrases to you. When I say you’re ‘wicked,’ I don’t want you to take offense. It means ‘cool.’”

    “I’m just getting used to ‘cool,’” Mr. Bush replies. A few seconds go by. “Would you say Brad Pitt is wicked?”

    Mr. Bush patiently mugs for fifteen minutes-standing, sitting, grinning, flashing a victory sign at Platon’s request-and then starts to leave. It’s time for our interview. But as we head back to his office, he turns to me and motions to a few framed photos on a table in the corner. “Did you see that picture of me and Jacques Chirac?” he asks slyly. “I just want to be sure you mention that.”

    Interesting (and amusing):

    What’s interesting, I think, is that the press takes your silence as an indication of differences between you and the president. The fact that you’re not speaking out supposedly says something. When a friend of mine like Jimmy Baker or Brent Scowcroft says, “Well, we ought to do more about the Middle East,” the press says, “It looks to us like they’re reflecting what president number forty-one really feels but doesn’t want to say,” which is all bullshit, if you’ll excuse the expression.

    We can edit that out.

    You can print it. At this stage in my life, I don’t care.

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    • Modulator linked with Late Night Reading
    Line of the Day

    By Steven Taylor @ 4:20 pm

    “I don’t try to be this old, senior former president who’s giving a lot of free advice. I don’t have all the information, to start with, and I don’t have the “need to know” for that highly selective intelligence. And so if I don’t know, why the heck should I pop off? I’ll leave that to Newt Gingrich.”
    -President George H. W. Bush (aka, “41″, aka “Poppy") in Texas Monthly (July 2003)

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    Happy Birthday to Me

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:50 am

    Yes, today’s my birthday (I am now eligible to serve as President, hmm, maybe i should join the Nine Dwarves….). Anyway, this would make a fine b-day present; may it be so:

    Saddam Hussein’s fugitive sons, Odai and Qusai, were believed to have been killed or captured during a raid on a home early Tuesday in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, military officials in Iraq and Washington told NBC News.

    Source: Saddam sons dead or in custody?

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    Texas, It’s Like a Whole ‘Nother Continent

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:47 am

    Or so it seems when one is driving it! And we only did the El Paso-Dallas run yesterday as part of our drive from Tucson. All I know is, that if we could’ve crossed numerous wimpy European countries in the same amount of time!

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    Sunday, July 20, 2003
    Blog Status

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:32 pm

    Nothing tomorrow. See you on the 22nd.

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    Iraq, Nukes and Arguments for War

    By Steven Taylor @ 7:25 pm

    James of OTB has an excellent post on the nuke issue in the context of the arguments for war. It is essentially what I have been thinking on the issue, but have been too busy driving from state to state, playing golf and goofing off to look up the details. Thankfully, he did it for me, so give it a look.

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    • The American Mind linked with Reading the Speech
    Bush Should Have Fun in Primary Season

    By Steven Taylor @ 7:22 pm

    While the Nine Dwarves (or however many there are going to be in January) are duking it out, the President is going to be able to start his general election campaign flush with cash:

    Since President Bush launched his bid for re-election on May 16, his campaign has raised at least $41.4 million, including $7 million on a two-day Texas swing that wound up with a Saturday evening reception.

    That’s more than $635,000 a day and counting since the effort started.

    Source: Bush raises $7M in 2-day Texas swing

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    Missing the Causal Link

    By Steven Taylor @ 7:18 pm

    This kind of analysis annoys me: Congress’ campaign money, voting go hand-in-hand. Could it not be that the money flows to candidates predisposed to support these various issues in the first place? Indeed, this is rather more likely.

    It isn’t like the NRA is going to give money to a gun-control candidate, and thereby change his or her mind, nor is the National Right to Life Council likely to sway a pro-choicer. And, not surprisingly, oil companies give money to candidates from oil-rich districts, and guys from southern Alabama get money from peanut farmers.

    This is a surprise to anyone?

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    Saturday, July 19, 2003
    Let the Conspiracy Theories Begin!

    By Steven Taylor @ 11:37 am

    Police: U.K. Aide’s Death Likely Suicide

    Weapons expert David Kelly apparently killed himself by slashing his left wrist, police said Saturday in a case that has plunged the British government deeper into controversy over the intelligence used to justify war in Iraq.

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    Speaking of Kobe

    By Steven Taylor @ 11:20 am

    James of OTB excerpts a good column on Kobe by Mitch Albom.

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    By Steven Taylor @ 12:12 am

    I was hoping that this was an entirely fabricated story, and while he may well be innocent of any crime, the fact that he had sex with the girl highly complicates the situation:

    “You know, I sit here in front of you guys (in the press), furious at myself, disgusted at myself for making the mistake of adultery. And I love my wife with all my heart,” he said.

    Not smart.

    Source: Tearful Kobe Bryant Proclaims Innocence in L.A.

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    Presidential Trivia

    By Steven Taylor @ 12:02 am


    Mr. Ford, whose birthday was Monday, joins John Adams, Herbert Hoover and Ronald Reagan as the only former presidents to become nonagenarians.

    Source: The Washington Times: Inside Politics

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    Friday, July 18, 2003
    Back on the Road

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:12 am

    No more blogging today-the Eastward migration begins!

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    Arnie for Gov

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:10 am

    Frank Luntz has an interesting, if light, piece in today’s LAT: Celebrity Gets Arnold Only So Far.

    I think he overly discounts the name-recognition factor in this race. If there is indeed a long list of contenders, with only a plurality needed to win, then name recognition will be a larger issue than in a normal slog-through-the-primaries, duke-it-out in a two-party contest kind of election.

    Plus, Arnie is far more popular and well-known than any of the celebs-cum-politicians than he mentions in the piece (both winners and losers).

    Not to mention all of Arnie’s free pub as a result of the recent release of T3.

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    The Weirdness Continues

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:39 am

    This is the quintessential Weird Economy story: Recession Is Over; Jobs Aren’t Trickling Down

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    Thursday, July 17, 2003

    By Steven Taylor @ 5:42 pm

    Thanks to Asymmetrical Information for blogrolling PoliBlog.

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    Primary Dollars

    By Steven Taylor @ 5:24 pm


    Tuesday was a big day in the so-called “money primary.” That’s when President Bush and the nine Democratic presidential candidates filed campaign finance reports for the second quarter with the Federal Election Commission. The big winner was the president: in the three-month period ending June 30, he raised $34 million. That’s more than all the Democratic candidates combined.

    The transcript of the chat session with WaPo political reporter Thomas B. Edsall is semi-interesting, but mainly the above-clipped intro is the most interesting thing from this story.

    Source: Campaign Finance

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    Also Indeed

    By Steven Taylor @ 11:53 am

    This reminds me of when I first started playing golf and I played the game within the game of whether I was plus or minus on golf balls.

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    Tuesday, July 15, 2003

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:05 pm

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    By Steven Taylor @ 8:00 pm

    Colombia’s Uribe to Govern from War-Torn Province

    President Alvaro Uribe, seeking to show his war-torn nation he is in control, will govern Colombia this week from a violent province at the heart of a U.S.-backed fight against Marxist rebels.

    Arauca, near the northeastern border with Venezuela, will host the 51-year-old leader for three days, beginning on Tuesday. Uribe will rule from an army base in the provincial capital.
    The trip marks the first time in recent memory that a Colombian president has moved his government to a conflict zone.

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    Vacation Report

    By Steven Taylor @ 7:35 pm

    By the way, all of my SoCal pals who like to make fun of the heat in the South, let it be know, it gets pretty darn hot in SoCal as well. In some ways I have been hotter here than at home, since we folks in the South know how to run the darn AC!

    Plus, I see that Stage One Smog Alerts have returned. It is like being back in 1985!

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    Burned Out

    By Steven Taylor @ 7:08 pm

    By the way, I am officially burned out on the Bright Meme. Basically I had only two issues: 1) I thought the name was a tad pretentious, if not silly, and 2) my objections were in regards solely to the issue of intellectual prejudice when operating in the realm of the mind, where I think there is a prevailing assumption that anyone who believe in the supernatural in any way is somehow less intellectually capable.

    Although I will say that Dean Esmay’s talk about “negative energy” in some comments the other day sure sounded rather metaphysical, if not downright supernatural, to me ;)

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    Deion Scores

    By Steven Taylor @ 7:01 pm

    Here’s the follow-up to a story James of OTB posted yesteday. It turns out not to be quite as amusing as the original story had it to be:

    Deion Sanders scored a touchdown in Dallas County civil court Monday when a judge ruled that he did not have to pay more than $1,500 in a lawsuit over a 2001 car repair bill.

    “Thank God,” Mr. Sanders said after hearing the verdict in the lawsuit brought against him over repairs made to his 1961 Lincoln Continental convertible. “I’m happy that justice was served and the truth really did come out.”

    The lawsuit, filed by Magrathea Inc., a vintage-car restoration business, said the former Dallas Cowboys cornerback refused to pay a $4,265.57 car repair bill because Jesus had informed him that $1,500 was all he had to pay.

    Mr. Sanders, now an NFL studio analyst for CBS, denied that he ever said anything more than “God bless you” to Phil Compton, Magrathea’s owner, when the car was delivered to his Plano home Nov. 5, 2001.

    He said his refusal to pay the larger amount had nothing to do with his spiritual calling. Instead, he said, he felt he was being taken advantage of because he is a sports celebrity.

    “That guy was trying to rip me off,” Mr. Sanders said after the 2 ˝-hour trial before state District Judge Joe Cox. “That’s what it was.”


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    Sunday, July 13, 2003
    Not the Easiest Job

    By Steven Taylor @ 5:15 pm

    Kevin Drum raises a legit question: Who Wants to Run California?. Indeed, I would take it a step further and ask, “Who should want to run California” in the political sense. Given that the winner, assuming Davis is ousted, is going to have a massive uphill battle, is it best for Republicans to try capture the seat? Would top name Democrats be foolish to want the position?

    It is, in some ways, a no-win situation, but I would argue that both parties should fight hard to win the seat, as it is always better to have the position, than to be in the opposition. For one thing, things could get better between nw and the next election, and the new gov will get the credit, deseverdly or not. Even if things don’t improve, the new gov can claim not to have had enough time.

    Still, it shan’t be fun and games for whomever it is that takes over.

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    • The World Around You linked with Who Want's Gray's Job?
    Radioactive Speech

    By Steven Taylor @ 2:24 pm

    This is part of the point I making yesterday:

    “It is ludicrous to suggest that the president of the United States went to war on the question of whether Saddam Hussein sought uranium from Africa,” Rice said on “Fox News Sunday.” “This was a part of a very broad case that the president laid out in the State of the Union and other places.

    Source: Administration says Bush’s uranium statement was accurate, supported by more data

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    Weird Econ in the Valley

    By Steven Taylor @ 1:52 pm

    This is interesting/amusing: As Tech Stocks Rise, Silicon Valley Is Acting Like It’s 1999

    Close your eyes and it feels a little like 1999, that giddy, amazing, lost moment when Silicon Valley was the most important place on Earth and just about everyone in it was happily adding a zero or two to his or her net worth.

    The stock prices of unproven Internet companies that no one has ever heard of, such as PacificNet Inc. and EuroWeb International Corp., are once again doubling in a single day. The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite index is up 56% from a five-year low reached in October. Insiders are happily selling shares, cashing in options that recently were fit only for making paper airplanes. Call a chic Bay Area restaurant such as Delfina or Betelnut or Greens on a typically dead night like Monday and you will be told, simply and sweetly, no table, no way. The hottest car is a $50,000 Hummer.

    The future, once again, appears unlimited in many eyes.

    Prices of Internet stocks such as United Online Inc. and EBay Inc. may seem sky-high, U.S. Bancorp Piper Jaffray analyst Safa Rashtchy wrote last week in his newsletter, but it “is hard for us to identify a negative catalyst The run is likely to continue.”

    So, the question is, have they just decided that things are good and going to get better, or, in fact, are things good and only going to get better?

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    More Brightology

    By Steven Taylor @ 1:41 pm

    Some points of clarification:

  • I have no objection if someone wishes to pursue a naturalist/secular humanist/rationalist/etc. viewpoint in their attempt to unravel the vast mysteries of the universe. While I think that they are wrong in some respects in the way they view existence, I do not begrudge their right to think as they wish, nor would I disparage their intellect because of the choices they have made in the way they think. (Although it is fair to question reasoning and conclusions as the intellectual discourse continues).
  • Having said that, I expect a similar amount of respect for my worldview. I consider my approach to the universe to be rationally-based as well, and come to my positions in my faith from a rational approach. Many of my “Bright” friends may scoff at such a proposition, but nonetheless this is the case. And I would point out there is no system of thought that does not, to some degree, require some faith, as not all things can be known, and certainly not all that one knows is testable.

    Ultimately it is about mutual respect.

  • And let’s face facts, saying “I am a bright” does connote the idea of being smart. If Christians went around referring to themselves in normal conservation as “Blesseds” or if your Jewish professor or columnist constantly pointed out that “I am a Chosen"-it would be rather off-putting to the secularist in the crowd, to say the least. The bottom line is that bright means smart in common parlance, and to pretend like that really doesn’t matter is to be a bit self-deluding.

    Also, Dean has a thoughtful post on the subject. And James weighs in as well.

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    More on the Bright Affair

    By Steven Taylor @ 1:25 pm

    Dean Esmay, in comments to this post, noted that he thought that there was some defensiveness in my (and others) response to the Bright meme.

    I wouldn’t call it being defensive. Rather I find some of the inferences insulting and offensive. I am not sure where I was defending anything.

    There is a rather steady stream of “people who believe in God aren’t really as smart as those of us who don’t” kind of thing in this particular discourse. The “Easter Bunny” line being part of the give-away in this piece.

    If intellectuals with a theistic view of the universe were constantly carping about how they are really smarter than those silly naturalists, then I suspect that there would be some defensiveness on the part of the naturalists.

    And in this particular context I find this idea of “outing” to be absurb on its face given that the vast majority of academics are far from religious.

    Let’s turn that scenario on its head: imagine the response to coments to an academic audience in which a person were to confess their evagelical Christian views. I guarantee you that the reaction would be far from positive.

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    Saturday, July 12, 2003
    Such a Shame…

    By Steven Taylor @ 2:17 pm

    Perhaps Comedy Central has an opening? Maybe after John Stewart? ‘Comical Ali’ Leaves Baghdad, Might Not Return

    Iraq’s former Information Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf, nicknamed “Comical Ali” during the U.S.-led war on Iraq, made a sudden appearance in Abu Dhabi on Friday, saying he might not return to his homeland.

    “When I leave I always have in my mind that I might not come down this road again, but I hope and pray to God that I can return to Baghdad one day,” he said on Abu Dhabi Television.

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    An Amusing Toon

    By Steven Taylor @ 2:07 pm

    Click here.

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    And This is New How?

    By Steven Taylor @ 2:02 pm

    In reveiwing Being A Bright, I am further struck that this is absolutely, positively nothing new. It used to go under the banner of “scular humanism” and on balance is a fairly mainstream view amongst academics.

    Here’s how the site describes how one might discuss being Bright:

    Scenario. Suppose you are in a discussion with someone and the question of religion comes up. If someone inquires about your own religion, you can pop up with “Well, actually, I am a Bright.” The other person’s curiosity will probably take hold: “A Bright? What is that?”

    One of the advantages of the word “Bright” is that it allows a really simple and straightforward assertion. You state “A Bright is a person whose worldview is naturalistic (free of supernatural and mystical elements).” Then, if your listener is truly interested in learning more, you can always proceed to extend the discussion and to explain more fully any philosophical basis behind your particular or favored category label(s).

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    Brightly Arrogant

    By Steven Taylor @ 1:53 pm

    While I understand the cutesy Enlightment connection to the “bright” idea, I find Daniel C. Dennett’s column, The Bright Stuff, to be a study in arrogance, even though he states that the appellation is not a boast:

    The time has come for us brights to come out of the closet. What is a bright? A bright is a person with a naturalist as opposed to a supernaturalist world view. We brights don’t believe in ghosts or elves or the Easter Bunny — or God. We disagree about many things, and hold a variety of views about morality, politics and the meaning of life, but we share a disbelief in black magic — and life after death.

    The term “bright” is a recent coinage by two brights in Sacramento, Calif., who thought our social group — which has a history stretching back to the Enlightenment, if not before — could stand an image-buffing and that a fresh name might help. Don’t confuse the noun with the adjective: “I’m a bright” is not a boast but a proud avowal of an inquisitive world view.

    The reason I state that this is arrogant, is because the main inference being made here is that to be inquisitive, indeed to be intelligent and thinking, one cannot possibly believe in God, or hold to any religious view whatsoever. I find this to be a preposterous position, and one which flies in the face of the empirical evidence of many incredibly intelligence and curious individuals who have made profound intellectual contributions to mankind.

    And if one is so enlightened, it one should clearly know that lumping a religious world-view in with believing in the Easter Bunny is intentionally provocative and, further, an intellectually dishonest mixing of categories.

    Accepting that there is some tongue-in-check going on in the column, I still think that this business about “coming out” as a Bright is ludicrous. As if, 1) there is a systematic bias in the society against those who hold intellectually secularist views (which is rally what this “Bright” business is properly called, and 2) that especially in the academic community that this is some sort of big deal is laughable. Rather, the minority in that community is the religiously-minded, not that other way around.

    Announcing that one hold a secular humanist view of the universe, and renounces the supernatural at an academic conference is like announcing that one likes beer at a frat party.

    Indeed, the article may be less tongue-in-cheek than I originally thought, as there is an official Brights homepage. Really, exactly what is new here aside from the label?

    Hat tip: Kevin Drum

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    CIA Errors, Nukes and Such

    By Steven Taylor @ 1:25 pm

    I have been out of the loop somewhat, having only gotten to read the news much the last day or so, and even then far less than normal. However, the resurgence of the “Bush Lied” meme is interesting, as is this story from today’s LAT:

    The CIA wrongly allowed President Bush to tell the American people that Iraq tried to buy uranium from Africa, despite analysts’ doubts about the information, the agency’s director, George J. Tenet, acknowledged Friday.

    “These 16 words should never have been included in the text written for the president,” Tenet said, referring to a section of January’s State of the Union address in which Bush said: “The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.”

    The agency vetted the speech and raised some concerns about earlier versions of the text, but it ultimately let the statement stand, Tenet said. “This was a mistake.”

    Three things come to mind. First, the claim of an immediate nuclear threat was the least of the reasons that were given for the war. The main argument were (in terms of WMDs) that he had chemical and biological weapons, and that he would aid, in ways great and small, terrorists.

    Second, does anyone doubt, as a generic statement, the idea that Saddam was seeking to recnstitute his nuclear program was untrue? That is to say, my assumption

    Third, the sentence is question doesn’t even say that Saddam acquired the stuff, just that he was seeking it. Given the cacophony of complaints, you would think that the President had said that Iraq had actually purchased the stuff.

    Ultimately this is more about trying to find something concrete that the Dems can hang on Bush than it is about anything else. I say that not to diminish the clear intelligence errors here, but if you look at this particular attack, it is rather narrow, and not the strongest argument that could be made concerning pre-war claims.

    Source: CIA Admits It Allowed Error in Bush Speech

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    Trouble for Riley’s Tax Plab

    By Steven Taylor @ 1:08 pm

    Alabama GOP calls meeting on Riley plan: Party chairman says he doesn’t expect endorsement of $1.2 billion tax and education-reform idea

    This doesn’t surprise me, and as much as I, in general, am not a fan of taxes, I think that the state sorely needs revenue for key services, primarily educaiton. Now, in my perfect world there would be vouhcers and school choice, but given that the perfect is the enemey of the good, the next best option available is adequately funded schools. Alabama does not have adequately funded schools. And, therefore, I think that the economy and the general development of the state suffers as a result. And I have argued such in print here.

    Futher, I think that national conservatives (Dick Armey and Roger Hedgecock (filling in for Limbaugh yesterday)) are missing the boat by lumping AL in with states that went crazy during the boom and now have to raise taxes to make up for the spending spree. Alabama’s problems are much longer-term and far more systemic, and while the Riley plan won’t fix it all, it is a start. And really, it is a fairly modest proposal.

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    Pryor Vote Postponed

    By Steven Taylor @ 1:01 pm

    For those keeping score at home:

    A Senate committee Thursday postponed for one week voting on Bill Pryor’s judicial nomination. Republicans say the decision was administrative but Democratic opponents suspect it is a sign of fading support for the controversial attorney general.

    The quotes and the article make it sound as though Arlen Specter may cross over and vote with the Democrats in committee, thus dooming the nomination.

    Source: Pryor judiciary vote postponed

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    Friday, July 11, 2003

    By Steven Taylor @ 3:57 pm : Bush: CIA Approved State of Union Speech

    President Bush and his national security adviser on Friday put responsibility squarely on the CIA for the president’s erroneous claim in his State of the Union address that Iraq tried to acquire nuclear material from Africa.

    “I gave a speech to the nation that was cleared by the intelligence services,” Bush told reporters in Uganda.

    National security adviser Condoleezza Rice was more direct, saying, “The CIA cleared the speech in its entirety.”

    If CIA Director George Tenet had concerns about the information, “these doubts were not communicated to the president,” Rice said.

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    By Steven Taylor @ 2:31 pm

    The following was published in the Birmingham Post-Herald on 7/9/03 (note: it was not online, and I am not sure at this point what the published title was, nor if any editig was done):

    Floating on a sea of news

    Steven L. Taylor, Ph.D.

    In World War II the public received news via radio, newspapers, magazines, and newsreels at the movies. None of these conveyed information in a way that we in 2003 would recognize as truly “new” news, at least in the sense that could often be days old. And even the most recent information was hardly immediate. And certainly the only moving images seen by the public were sanitized and limited in scope.

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    PoliBlog West

    By Steven Taylor @ 2:22 pm

    After even more driving yesterday (and a re-introduction to SoCal traffic), we are now in the third of our Three City Tour.

    So, I am now doing my own CalPundit routine and am blogging from Sunny Southern California.

    However, since I have barely seen the news, I am behind.

    Some flash commentary:

  • Crud! The Lakers are going to get Payton and Karl Malone.
  • It looks like none of the Supremes are going to retire tis term. I guess Rehnquist and O’Connor think Bush is going to be re-elected.
  • What’s with the Dems and judicial nominees? I heard the other day that the Michigan Dems are blue-slipping four Bush nominees. However, not knowing the details, I shall refrain from commenting.
  • And its a shock to anyone that the US is going to have to keep troops in Iraq for a long while?
  • My guess is that golf next week in San Clemente will be cooler than golf this week in AZ.

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    Wednesday, July 9, 2003
    Now He Can Vote Against Bush!

    By Steven Taylor @ 5:39 pm

    I suspect that this (ABC News’ Peter Jennings becomes a U.S. citizen) has been blogged to death already, but I thought I’d mention it for the headline, if anything.

    Actually, it is a nice gesture:

    He began considering the dual citizenship in the months after the Sept. 11 terrorist attack, feeling a deeper sense of connection to the United States. Still, the words don’t come easily when he was asked Tuesday to explain why.

    “Not to sound too corny about it, but love, respect, gratitude, time,” he said. “I’ve been thinking about this for so long. This is not the kind of thing you can do overnight.”

    And this was somewhat amusing:

    When he was done, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia told Jennings, “not bad for a Canadian.” Jennings said he knelt beside Scalia and whispered the secret to him.

    A funny thing to keep a secret, but perhaps he just wanted to avoid any suggestions that it was for ratings or publicity.

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    The Carnival Doth Arrive

    By Steven Taylor @ 5:36 pm

    And it is well organized: Winds of Change.NET: Carnival of the Vanities #42

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    Hard to Blog When you Miss the News…

    By Steven Taylor @ 5:34 pm

    Yes, I am still out here-just haven’t been to the computer much the last couple of days. I’ve been playing some golf in the amazing heat of AZ and otherwise slackin’.

    Thanks goondess for NZ Bear, or I wouldn’t have had any traffic at all!

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    Monday, July 7, 2003

    By Steven Taylor @ 4:19 pm

    The following was published in yesterday’s Mobile Register:

    Internet filter case was about more than porn
    Special to the Register

    Most of the news media’s attention has been given to the U.S. Supreme Court’s rulings on affirmative action and the right to privacy. That’s too bad, because another ruling issued by the court paints a vivid picture of a Congress that exerts its control via the power of the purse.

    Read the whole thing here.

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    By Steven Taylor @ 2:33 pm

    My thanks to:

  • FringeBlog
  • Betsy’s Page
  • Tobacco Road Fogey

    For blogrolling PoliBlog.

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    PoliBlogger’s Travel Tips

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:20 am

    Some travel tips from your humble blogger:

  • Don’t speed through West Texas (make your own inferences here).
  • Watch out for the flies in West Texas-everytime we stopped we picked up a ton of extra riders.
  • Avoid the KFC in Deming, NM. (Indeed, it may be advisable to avoid Deming completely).
  • And always remember: lots of snacks for the kids!!

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    Bear at Work

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:11 am

    Seems that NZ Bear was sufficiently inspired by my little research the other day to revamp theThe Ecosystem.

    Check it out-very cool stuff!

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    Friday, July 4, 2003
    On the Road Again

    By Steven Taylor @ 7:50 pm

    PoliBlog will be dormant tomorrow-so enjoy reading the “best of.”

    Meanwhile, enjoy some US Trivia to go along with the evening of the 4th.

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    The Declaration

    By Steven Taylor @ 1:05 pm

    Speaking of the Declaration, if you have never read it, go give it a look.

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    By Steven Taylor @ 12:58 pm

    Speaking of the 4th, here’s something to chew on, especially in the context of discussions of the Supreme Court and constitutional interpretation. How should we interpret the following line from the Declaration?

    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.

    I would argue that the appropriate interpretation is to consider the word “man” to mean any human being, and that the reference to a “Creator” can simply mean “born” or “because one exists", i.e., we all have rights, not because of who we are, or because government grants us rights, but because we are. However, this was clearly not the original intent of he author-as the phrase rather obviously did not see females as included, and certainly not slaves.

    The reason I bring this up is twofold. 1) To celebrate this foundational idea on this anniversary of its promulgation, and 2) To bring up something that I have been thinking about for days, which is what is that proper way to interpret intent in regards to the Constitution.

    I realized sometime back that while I favor a constructionist view of constitutional interpretation, that I do see the need to allow for some level of linguistic and attitudinal evolution in such interpretations. For example, while it was clearly not the intent of the authors of the 14th Amendment to include gender in the Equal Protection Clause, I think that it should be understood to do exactly that, given the evolution of our attitudes towards citizenship. I do not see this as a judicial activism approach, but one which takes the plain meaning of the words of the text, even if that plain meaning has changed over time.


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    • Winds of Change.NET linked with Carnival of the Vanities #42
    Happy 227th, America!

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:22 am

    Happy Fourth of July!

    This message comes to you from the first stop on the 2003 Family Tour: Dallas, Texas.

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    Wednesday, July 2, 2003
    Going West (PoliBlog Status)

    By Steven Taylor @ 7:41 pm

    We are about to embark on Family Tour 2003, as we are heading west for vacation. However, unlike certain InstaSlackers, I will be blogging whilst on vacation, although not as much as normal. And the next several days will be light to nonexistent.

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    Analyzing the Blogosphere

    By Steven Taylor @ 12:12 pm

    The discussion below on traffic, bandwidth and cost led me to start looking at the TTLB Ecosystem rankings and the corresponding average hits per day for some of the Bigs.

    Below is the data that I compiled. It is interesting that BlogMaster InstaP is head and shoulders above the pack, and that is with him being on vacation.

    Otherwise, with one clear exception (plus I was unable to get stats from some blogs), the “Higher Beings” get 15ish thousand hits a day-while Kevin Drum of CalPundit gets a third of that. Which is interesting-he is top 9 in details, but looks more like more Mortal-ish than his fellow HB’s in hits per day.

    (BTW-most of the stats, except for Stephen Green and den Beste, are from SiteMeter).

    The huge variance in the Playful Primate category is intriguing-especially OTB.

    Higher Beings
    1.Instapundit (1480) details


    2.Daily Kos / Political State Report (1028) details 17,298
    3.The Volokh Conspiracy (979) details


    4.Eschaton (Atrios) (869) details 15,554

    9.CalPundit (698) details 5,399
    10.USS Clueless (662) details

    Mortal Humans

    15.A Small Victory (478) details


    16.John Hawkins (476) details 3.656

    27.Scrappleface (426) details

    28.Stephen Green (420) details 1,855

    30.Rachel Lucas (392) details


    Playful Primates
    35.Brad DeLong (353) details


    55.The Command Post (304) details

    66. Bill Quick (278) details

    69.OUTSIDE THE BELTWAY (269) details


    Update: Thanks to James of OTB for pointing out why my table was all screwy.

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    • Rachel Lucas linked with Check out how cool I am
    • The Truth Laid Bear linked with Traffic vs. Links
    • The Truth Laid Bear linked with New Feature: Traffic Statistics!
    • Wizbang linked with New TTLB Traffic Rankings
    • Outside the Beltway linked with June 2004 Stats and Referrers
    What’s Wrong With this Headline?

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:15 am

    A PoliBlogger Contest:

    What is wrong with this headline?

    Mayor Bloomberg parts with GOP platform on same-sex marriages

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    The Cost of Blogging

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:03 am

    Apparently, being a Big Boy can be expensive as the Daily Kos notes. dKos averages 17k hits a day.

    Sheds some light on Sully’s blegging, I guess.

    Although I would still be intrested in seeing actual numbers on bandwith and such for varying levels of blog.

    Update: InstaPundit averages 40k hits a day, but Hosting Matters (the official Web Host of PoliBlog) manages his traffic. Hmmm…

    Update 2: Kos notes that his main problem are his voluminous comments. He notes that:

    I’m sucking up 9 gigs per week, 36 gigs a month. But the real damage is in the MT message boards, which are processor hogs. MT is just not designed to handle hundreds of messages per thread. It taxes the system.

    Without the comments I could make do at my current host with double my current traffic.

    Which also explains one of the reasons why many of the Bigs turn off their comments sections.

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    Party Hardy

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:19 am

    Here’s a nice set of links on various models of party formation. Indeed, my polisci geekness is confirmed in that I find a site that discusses Duverger’s Law, Downs’ Median Voter Theory, and Riker’s theories on coaltion formation to be a cool site indeed.

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    • From Behind the Wall of Sleep linked with Are You A PoliSci Geek?
    The (Not So) Secret (and Somewhat Pathetic) Lives of Political Scientists

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:15 am

    My Dwarf Report below, and the subsequent responses, made me realize what a sad and pathetic lot we political scientists are. To wit: what was I doing over breakfast at around 6:30am this morning? Reading the funnies? Checking out sports (to which I ask, what sports? are there any sports right now? Where is football season?!?), no. Instead I was reading and blogging about Howard Dean.

    Sad, indeed. But wait, there’s more.

    At least two other political science Ph.D.’s: John Lemon, and James Joyner, plus Matthew of a Fearful Symmetry who is studying politics (I am not sure at what level) all have weighed in on this topic.

    Indeed, Dr. Lemon chose to forego a shower so that he could engage in some chatter about Downs’ Median Voter Theory.

    Political Scientists: blogging more on Howard Dean by 9am than most people do in a lifetime.

    Oh, the humanity!

    (ok, I have avoided grading exams long enough…)

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    More on Dean

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:59 am

    John Lemon has an interesting post on Dean in response to my post below, and some of the comments therein.

    Also, James of OTB makes a very amusing observation in the comments there as well, which he also blogged. It is sufficiently amusing that I shall post it here:

    What amuses me is that Andrew Sullivan has raised more money in tips than Sharpton has raised so far!

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    Dwarf Report

    By Steven Taylor @ 6:43 am

    Dean is on the move.

    Almost overnight, Dean has redrawn the contours of the Democratic race, vaulting from dark-horse candidate to top tier on the strength of an extraordinary, Internet-based fundraising operation and the mobilization of party activists fed up with President Bush’s policies and, it appears, the lack of a vigorous Democratic opposition in Washington.

    This is all true, but there are two problems. 1) His current status is partially owing to the fact that he has been quite active, and therefore has gotten a lot of coverage, and there seems to be some interest in Dean amongst the media, and therefore that is where some of the attention is coming from. Plus, he qualifies as a story, especially if anything positive happens to him. And I will admit that he is more interesting than many of the other Nine.

    I will also note his fund-raising success to date is a legit story, and he is doing better than I expected there.

    Of course, all this leads to 2) Rising expectations can be dangerous.

    And the most shocking thing about these numbers is that Kucinich raised about $1 million!

    None of the major candidates besides Dean issued second-quarter fundraising numbers yesterday, although a Kerry adviser said the senator would raise close to $6 million and a Gephardt adviser said his candidate would raise $4 million to $5 million. Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich (Ohio) raised about $1 million, according to his campaign, while former senator Carol Moseley Braun of Illinois raised about $150,000. An adviser to Al Sharpton said Sharpton had raised about $80,000.

    And is Bush going to have a money edge, or what? Especially since the Dems are going to have to spend their money fighting each other:

    Bush’s campaign swamped all the Democrats, reporting yesterday that the president had raised $34.2 million in the second quarter, besting the $29.7 million he raised in the second quarter of 1999.

    Source: Surge of Cash Puts Pressure on Insurgent Dean To Deliver Votes

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    Tuesday, July 1, 2003
    It May Not Be Rio…

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:24 pm

    …but it is the Carnival of the Vanities #41, hosted by Amish Tech Supprot this week.

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    At Least it Beats Clinton’s Record on Women…

    By Steven Taylor @ 3:02 pm

    Gaffe-Prone Former Premier Infuriates Women:

    Former Japanese Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori, renowned for his propensity for gaffes, faced demands for an apology Tuesday after implying only women who bear children should be eligible for pensions.

    “I think it is really strange to be told to use tax money to take care of women who haven’t even had one child,” Mori told a discussion group.

    “The real purpose of a welfare system is to look after women who have a lot of children, as a means of thanking them,” Kyodo news agency quoted Mori as saying last week during a politicians’ panel discussion in front of an audience.

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    Amusing Headline of the Day

    By Steven Taylor @ 11:30 am

    Budget hole may swallow Davis

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    You’ve Heard of Land for Peace? Well…

    By Steven Taylor @ 11:02 am

    Source: Colombian Men Undergo Vasectomies for Land

    Fainting won him only a brief reprieve, and the father of three was soon under the knife. After a few delicate snips, Marquelis became the proud - if sterile - owner of acres of land under a private Colombian program that gives plots to men in two Caribbean coast towns who undergo vasectomy operations.

    “When the moment of truth came, I almost called the whole thing off. But then I decided: I have to do it,” he said.

    Marquelis is one of 40 men who in the last year and a half have had vasectomies in the humble towns of El Tigre and Rio Cedro on Colombia’s Caribbean coast.

    In return for undergoing the operations, the men receive plots of land from a 54-year-old movie producer who sees sterilization as a way to reduce poverty. The man, who declined to be identified, pays for the operations.


    But Tell’s mission in Colombia has been particularly difficult, partly because of the macho attitude and lack of education in this Andean nation of 40 million people. Instead of a family planning tool, a vasectomy here is often seen as more akin to castration.

    “They told me that I would turn into a homosexual, that in five years my thing would shrivel and die,” said Jose, 28. He was operated on two weeks ago and says he is still heterosexual and his penis is fine.

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    Rachel Lucas Speaks (or Gripes, anyway)

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:29 am

    I think we need to send Rachel Lucas to tour High Schools, so as to persuade students to go to college before they have to work full time.

    Also, she can come talk to some of my undergrads who either don’t work, or work only part-time, and nonetheless complain about how hard college is.

    Hat Tip: Tiger.

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    Back to the Bad

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:56 am

    Stocks Fall on Weak Manufacturing Data

    The Dow Jones Industrial Average opened lower Tuesday on Wall Street, and fell sharply after the Institute for Supply Management reported contraction in manufacturing in June.

    The report showed lingering anxiety over the economy’s health precluded a full-throttle increase in output.

    As factories kept firing workers, the Institute for Supply Management’s national factory gauge edged up to 49.8 in June from 49.4 in May. That was well short short of Wall Street forecasts, which had pegged the figure at 51.0.

    A number above 50 signals growth while a figure below that level points to contraction.
    Throughout the day, major automakers plan to release their June sales figures.

    It may be tough for the market to keep the pace it set in the second quarter. The Dow gained 12 percent from April through June while the Nasdaq composite surged 21 percent - the best showing for each since the end of 2001.

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    By Steven Taylor @ 8:00 am

    Thanks to A Layman’s Opinion for linking to PoliBlog.

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    Some Graphics to go With the News

    By Steven Taylor @ 6:27 am

    Source: Yahoo

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    And Some More Good

    By Steven Taylor @ 6:23 am

    This bodes well: Stocks End Second Quarter With Best Gains Since 1998

    The stock market has posted its best quarterly performance since the end of 1998, producing the most encouraging rally since the long slide began in 2000.

    Although the market slipped slightly yesterday and has been drifting lower since mid-June, an overall climb of 14.9 percent in the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index for the three months ended yesterday was the eighth-best quarterly performance since World War II. The Dow Jones industrials and the Nasdaq composite index had their best quarters since the last three months of 2001.

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    The Good and the Bad

    By Steven Taylor @ 6:22 am

    This is a few days old-I had thought I had heard some good jobs news the other day, but never double-checked. Of course, with the ongoing Weirdness, there is bad news with the good: Jobless claims fall to three-month lows; GDP revised lower

    Applications for initial jobless aid plunged to three-month low last week, the government said Thursday in a report showing a better-than-expected improvement in the still-weak job market, but another report indicated the economy was more sluggish in the first three months of 2003 than previously thought and grew at a poky annual rate of just 1.4%.

    The Labor Department said 404,000 idled workers filed for unemployment insurance payments at state offices in the June 21 week, down 22,000 from a revised 426,000 a week earlier and the lowest since March 22.

    Wall Street economists had forecast first-time claims would fall to 415,000 compared with the department’s original estimate of 421,000 in the June 14 week.

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