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Sunday, November 30, 2003
Filed under: 2004 Campaign | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)

2003 Weblog Awards

By Steven Taylor @ 9:26 pm

Kevin of Wizbang! has announced the 2003 Weblog Awards and has issued a call for nominations.

Filed under: Blogging | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)

Possible al Qaeda Arrests in Iraq

By Steven Taylor @ 9:18 pm

Three al-Qaida Caught in Iraq, U.S. Says

American forces have captured three members of Osama bin Laden’s terrorist network in northern Iraq, a U.S. military commander told The Associated Press on Sunday. If confirmed, it would be the first disclosed detention of al-Qaida militants in Iraq.

About 10 members of Ansar al-Islam an Islamic group U.S. officials believe has al-Qaida links in northern Iraq also have been arrested by U.S. troops in the past seven months, said Col. Joe Anderson, commander of the 2nd Brigade of the 101st Airborne Division.

Of course, given this:

Asked if troops had captured members of al-Qaida, Anderson whose brigade controls Mosul replied: “Three, two weeks ago.”

Anderson said he believed the captured al-Qaida men were Iraqi nationals, who had been transferred to Baghdad for further interrogation.

One wonders precisely what their status is.

Filed under: Iraq | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)

No Wonder

By Steven Taylor @ 5:13 pm

No wonder I haven’t seen the joyfulchristian show up as “en fuego” in a long time. He left Blog*Spot back in September!

You find things out when you engage in a little house cleaning!

Filed under: General | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)

Iraq Round-Up

By Steven Taylor @ 4:38 pm

Some good news U.S. Forces Say Kill 46 Iraqis Trying to Ambush Them

U.S. soldiers killed 46 Iraqis and captured eight trying to carry out a series of attempted ambushes on U.S. convoys in the central Iraqi city of Samarra on Sunday, a U.S. military spokesman said.

“The fourth infantry division repelled multiple ambush attacks,” Lieutenant Colonel William MacDonald told reporters.
At least 18 attackers, five U.S. soldiers and a civilian traveling with the troops were wounded during the ambushes.

To go with the bad:

Insurgency: 7 Spanish Agents and 2 Japanese Are Slain in Iraq

Seven Spanish intelligence officers and two Japanese diplomats were killed Saturday in separate ambushes in Iraq, the latest in a series of attacks against America’s allies that seemed intended to drive a wedge between them.


Colombian Contractor Killed in Iraq Ambush

Filed under: Iraq | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)

Reciprocal Links

By Steven Taylor @ 3:18 pm

I have finally gotten a list of reciprocal links on the left-hand column. If you have linked to PoliBlog, but you aren’t on the list, let me know.

Henceforth, anyone who permanently links to PoliBlog will be entered on this list.

Filed under: Blogging | Comments(3) | Trackbacks (0)
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By Steven Taylor @ 11:28 am

Thanks to:

  • Mark the Pundit
  • The Jay Blog

    For linking to PoliBlog

  • Filed under: Blogging | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)

    The Political Equivalent of “Taking the Fifth"?

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:58 am

    This could be one of those cases were the perception of hiding something will make people assume guilt, when there may not be much there there: What’s in Howard Dean’s Secret Vermont Files?

    DEANWHO HAS BLASTED the Bush administration for excessive secrecycandidly acknowledged that politics was a major reason for locking up his own files when he left office last January. He told Vermont Public Radio he was putting a 10-year seal on many of his official papersfour years longer than previous Vermont governorsbecause of future political considerations… We didnt want anything embarrassing appearing in the papers at a critical time. Most of the records are open, said Dean spokeswoman Tricia Enright, adding there is absolutely not a smoking gun in those for which Dean has claimed executive privilege. Still, Deans efforts to keep official papers secret appear unusually extensive. Late last year, NEWSWEEK has learned, Deans chief counsel sent a directive to all state agencies ordering them to cull their files and remove all correspondence that bore Deans nameand ship them to the governors office to be reviewed for privilege claims. This removed a significant number of records from state files, said Michael McShane, an assistant Vermont attorney general.

    It is an odd move (especially as the “straight-talking” candidate), and is fraught with all kinds of potential attacks and innuendo.

    Filed under: 2004 Campaign | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)

    PoliColumn 2

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:20 am

    It’s another two-fer Sunday at PoliBlog. From today’s Mobile Register:

    Don’t anticipate quick involvement by Supreme Court
    Special to the Register

    In the wake of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court’s ruling on same-sex marriages, Alabamians naturally are wondering what the national effect of this ruling will be, and specifically how it will affect their state.

    Read the whole thing here.

    Filed under: My Columns | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (1)
    • Backcountry Conservative linked with PoliColumns
    PoliColumn 1

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:16 am

    In today’s Birmingham News:

    Dean riding steady course to party crown

    Even though we are still about six weeks from the first actual contest of the 2004 primary and caucus season, I am willing to state with confidence that the Democratic Party’s nomination is Howard Dean’s to lose. Barring a total collapse of his campaign, or some shocking revelation about the former Vermont governor, I can’t see any of the other Democrats catching him.

    The whole thing is here.

    Filed under: My Columns | Comments (0) | Trackbacks(2)
    • Backcountry Conservative linked with PoliColumns
    • The American Mind linked with Dean: Fiscally Irresponsible
    Saturday, November 29, 2003
    Corporate Profits Up

    By Steven Taylor @ 2:41 pm

    The dead tree version of the WSJ reported on Wednesday the 26th:

    The Commerce Department reported that profits at American companies rose 30% in the third quarter, compared with a year earlier. That was the largest one-year growth in profits in 19 years and was enough to lift the annual pace of profits above the $1 trillion for the first time i history.

    Filed under: The Economy | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
    A Good Day for Wal*Mart

    By Steven Taylor @ 2:39 pm

    Wal-Mart kicks things off

    Wal-Mart Stores Inc. said that sales at its U.S. stores grew 6.3 percent to a record $1.52 billion on the day after Thanksgiving, up from $1.43 billion on the same day a year earlier.

    Filed under: The Economy | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
    Presidents and Military Funerals

    By Steven Taylor @ 2:07 pm

    Dean Esmay has an excellent post on the issue of Bush and military funerals.

    Filed under: Iraq | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
    What is Real, Anyway?

    By Steven Taylor @ 2:01 pm

    I wish I had seen this prior to this week’s Toast-O-Meter-it would have been a perfect link fr Mr. Kucinich.

    Filed under: 2004 Campaign | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
    A Tired Argument

    By Steven Taylor @ 1:32 pm

    I am exceptionally weary of this kind of argument:

    Mobile lawyer Jim Zeigler filed the suit on behalf of Christian talk show host Kelly McGinley of Mobile, who alleges that she has been “disenfranchised” as a voter by the removal of Moore. The Court of the Judiciary expelled Moore for his refusal to obey a federal court order to move his Ten Commandments monument from the state Judicial Building rotunda.

    If an elected official is removed through legitimate means, it is not disenfranchisement. If the cops show up and threaten to beat you up if you try to vote, that’s disenfranchisement, or if you aren’t allowed to vote because of your gender, that’s disenfranchisment.

    If an elected official is impeached and removed, recalled, or removed through some other legal/constitutional means, that isn’t disenfranchisement.

    If you failed to register, that’s your fault, not the state’s.

    If you are late and the polls are closed, again the fault is yours.

    If you can’t read the ballot, and therefore you’re not sure who you voted for, guess what?

    If your candidates loses a really, really close election, and all the recounts go against you, your candidate lost, believe it or not.

    And the list goes on…

    Source: Pryor objects to Moore suit

    Filed under: Alabama Politics | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
    Your Cheatin’ Blog

    By Steven Taylor @ 1:19 pm

    N. Z. Bear reports some SiteMeter chicanery and is threatening suspensions.

    The Commissar has the goods.

    Filed under: Blogging | Comments (1) | Trackbacks (0)
    | Show Comments here
    Juan Valdez is on the Move

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:16 am

    Interesting: Move Over Starbucks, Juan Valdez Is Coming

    The Colombian Coffee Federation, which represents more than 500,000 Colombian coffee growers, is planning to open its first coffee shops - all bearing the name Juan Valdez, after the federation’s signature character - in the United States by early 2004. Gabriel Silva, the president of the federation, which is based in Bogot, says the coffee growers have been “too passive” in claiming a larger piece of the $8.4 billion specialty coffee industry.

    “In a cup of coffee that you get at a coffee shop, between 1 and 2 cents goes back to the farmer,” Mr. Silva said, referring to Colombian growers. “We need to build our own solutions and take the destiny in our hands and really fight for our share of the industry.”


    By selling its own coffee at its own coffee shops, the federation, which represents both small and large coffee growers, plans to return 4 to 5 cents for each cup of coffee sold. Each of the federation’s 560,000 farmers will also have an ownership stake in the shops, Mr. Silva said. The profits from the retail operation will go back to the federation, which said it would put marketing dollars behind the Juan Valdez brand and work to improve Colombia’s coffee-growing regions by building roads, schools, health centers and housing.

    Filed under: Latin America | Comments(3) | Trackbacks (1)
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    In Character?

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:08 am

    I would have to concur with BeldarBlog

    If you “get” the President, if you understand what drives him, then this is so much in character that you say to yourself afterwards, “Duh, I shoulda expected him to want to eat his Thanksgiving turkey with the troops, and I wish I coulda been there.”

    I consider The Visit to be something fully within the President’s personality and character. However, since his pesonality is part of what rubs the left the wrong way, I expect that this trip will annoy them greatly.

    Hat tip: Reductio Ad Absurdum Blog

    Filed under: Iraq | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
    More on The Visit

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:50 am

    The after-action analysis on The Visit by Bush to Iraq is predictable: With Iraq Trip, an Afterglow, but Uncertain Aftermath. The issues seem to be 1) will this improve the situation militarily in Iraq and 2) will it help Bush politically?

    I would submit that neither was the main purpose of the trip. Is is not possible that Bush sincerely wanted to make a symbolic gesture to thank the troops? I think that it is.

    I do think that there is a hope in the White House that this will improve morale, and hence improve the general situation on the ground. And there is no doubt that Karl Rove and Co. see the political advantage of the trip. Indeed, it is foolish to think that any President and his staff fail to see the political implications of everything that they do.

    Filed under: Iraq | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
    Friday, November 28, 2003
    Isn’t that Sweet?

    By Steven Taylor @ 3:58 pm

    It’s always great to see those fighting for social justice and the defenseless exploiting, well, the defenseless: Marxist Rebels Hail Tourist Kidnap Success

    Colombian rebels who kidnapped seven foreign backpackers in September have hailed it as a propaganda victory and said they aim to free their remaining five young hostages soon.

    “This has been one of the best political operations we have carried out for years in the northern coast of Colombia,” said Dairo Martinez, a local commander of the National Liberation Army, or ELN, in an interview with Reuters in the Sierra Nevada mountains.

    At least they are planning to release the hostages.

    Filed under: Latin America | Comments (1) | Trackbacks (0)
    | Show Comments here
    Something to Keep An Eye On

    By Steven Taylor @ 3:54 pm

    This could get ugly: Debate Over Chvez Divides Venezuelan Families and Friends

    Starting Friday, Nov. 28, the presidents foes will try to collect the 2.4 million signatures needed to trigger a recall, which could happen as early as March. And Mr. Chvez’s determined supporters will try to deflect the latest effort, prodding and, in some cases, pressuring Venezuelans to abstain.

    All of it is being dutifully covered by private television stations, stridently opposed to Mr. Chvez and closely allied to the presidents foes, and a state-run media, which finds little wrong in this turbulent country.

    The situation is volatile and the recall process could lead to some serious clashes, as I don’t trust Chavez to abide by the rules, and the overal climate is truly polarized.

    Filed under: Latin America | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
    Heroin Poppy Cultivation on the Rise in Afghanistan

    By Steven Taylor @ 3:45 pm

    U.S. Sees Poppy Growing Double in Afghanistan

    Poppy cultivation in Afghanistan doubled between 2002 and 2003 to a level 36 times higher than in the last year of rule by the Taliban, according to White House figures released on Friday.

    No surprise.

    Filed under: War on Drugs | Comments (1) | Trackbacks (1)
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    • Backcountry Conservative linked with Heroin Poppy Growth Rises
    Talk About Niche Programming

    By Steven Taylor @ 3:04 pm

    They’d certainly have enough programming: ‘Law and Order’ channel mulled

    Filed under: Pop Culture | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (1)
    • Backcountry Conservative linked with Law & Order: 24-7
    Toast-o-Meter (11/28 Edition)

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:51 am

    The Toast-o-meter: A Weekly News Round-Up and Handicapping of the Race for the Democratic Nomination.

    Welcome to the post-Thanksgiving Day edition of the Toast-O-Meter. Call it the Turkey on Toast EditionTM. Even with an abbreviated week, it was a fairly eventful one, as the fortunes of the frontrunner continue to rise, while his competitors continue to feel the heat.

    While it is true that Dean continues his dominance of the field, it was not the best of weeks for the Democrats:

  • The 3Q GDP figures were revised upward a whole point to 8.2, plus the Fed said nice things about the economy. Indeed, there was good economic news all the way ’round.
  • They managed to give the RNC a ton of free publicity.
  • And, of course, there was “The Visit“.
  • But Bush did get in trouble over the pronunciation of “Nevada".

    Now, on to this week’s rankings:

    The scale:

  • Wonder Bread (The nomination is in reach)
  • Just Plain Ol White Bread (Still in the race; has a shot)
  • Toast (Pretty much donea little scraping might make you look like bread, but you’re done)
  • Burnt Toast (Really, really done)
  • Burnt all the Way Through (Why are you still in the race?)
  • Crumbs in the Bottom of the Toaster (Why did you ever get in the race in the first place?)

    Potential Movements each Week:

  • Dough is on the Rise
  • Heats Off This Week
  • The heat is on.
  • Got Scraped a Bit
  • Getting Darker

    Howard Dean: Wonder Bread With Yummy Vermont Syrup on top (Dough on the Rise)

    Dean continues to race ahead, with none of the Other Eight seemingly able to catch up. As pollster Frank Luntz noted on Hardball this week, his status is so well established that when the Other Eight attack him, they are seen in a negative light, rather than the attacks bringing Dean back to earth.

  • Time asks Can Anyone Catch Dean? (Answer: not bloody likely)
  • He is ahead of Gephardt in at least one poll in Iowa.
  • He is beating Kerry in one poll in Mass. and in a statstical tie in another. To which I say: wowie.
  • The NYT reported that Dean received a medical deferment from the Viet Nam draft, and then went skiing. However, as I (and others in the Blogosphere noted), this is unlikely to damage him in any way, especially not in terms of the nomination.

    Dick Gephardt: Plain Ol White Bread that is starting to toast (The Heat is on.)

  • The heat is on: Dean leads him 32-22 in at least one poll in Iowa. As I said earlier in the week, if Gephardt loses Iowa, he’s burnt crumbs.

    John Kerry: Burnt French Toast (Getting darker)

    If this was the Roast-O-Meter, I’d say put a fork in him.

  • He is losing to Dean in one poll and in a statistical tie in another in his home state of Massachussets.
  • He is trying to obtain campaign funds by borrowing against his house.
  • All the articles about Kerry seem to use words like “comeback,” “jump-start, or “relaunch“. That ain’t good.
  • And it is getting bad when the hometown paper is writing stories like this.
  • After grandstanding on the Medicare debate by appearing at the Iowa debate via satellite, Mr. Kerry chose not to hang around and bother going on the record by voting on the bill. Indeed, he and Mr. Lieberman were the only Democrats not to register a vote.

    Wesley Clark: Toast (Getting darker)

  • Clark’s big move this week? Hiring the head of Bob Graham’s failed campaign.

    Joe Lieberman: Burnt Toast (Getting Darker)

  • Lieberman wasn’t allowed to participate in the Iowa debates this week, even via satellite, as was the case for Kerry and Edwards. He stated on Hardball that DNC Chair Terry McAuliffe told him personally over the phone that he would not be allowed to take part in the event.
  • See Kerry’s entry above to see what Mr. Lieberman failed to vote on this past week.

    John Edwards: Burnt all the Way Through (Getting Darkersoon to be crumbs)

  • Mr. Edwards did at least bother to vote “no” on the Medicare reform bill.
  • For a contribution of $250, you can get an autographed copy of Edwards’ autobiography.

    Dennis Kucinich: Crumbs at the bottom of the Toaster (banana bread)

  • No joke: Self-made Kucinich still going his own way
  • Still no new Mrs. Kucinich (or a date, as far as I know). (But there is a list of at least 80 now).
  • But, Kucinich Supporters Can ‘Adopt an Intern’. Good to know.
  • His biggest moment of the week was when Dean said nice things about him (for voting against the Iraq resolution) during the Iowa debate.

    Al Sharpton: Crumbs at the Bottom of the Toaster (cranberry nut bread)

  • He may be crumbly, but one poll does put him in 2nd in SC. That’s nice and all, but he still ain’t even badly burned toast.

    Carol Moseley Braun: Crumbs at the Bottom of the Toaster

  • She isn’t even the first “Braun” to come up in a Google News search. ‘Nuf said. (She is at Yahoo News, however).

  • Filed under: 2004 Campaign | Comments(4) | Trackbacks(5)
    | Show Comments here
    • Signifying Nothing linked with Your weekly update on toast
    • Insults Unpunished linked with Weekly Assessment Of The Nine Dwarves
    • Wizbang linked with Watching John Kerry Implode Is Fun
    • DiVERSiONZ linked with Let's Have A War On Tinsel
    • DiVERSiONZ linked with Imagine Our Utter Suprise
    Goldberg on the Visit

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:07 am

    Jonah Goldberg writes at The Corner on National Review Online

    It was a brilliant, decent, generous, crafty, glorious gesture. President Bush was nearly in tears when he saw the gratitude and excitement on the faces of the troops. Obviously this White House saw a political angle. But that was a side-benefit. The troops deserved it. The troops appreciated it. And the American people, I bet, believed it was the right thing to do.

    The Democrats will make fools of themselves if they go too far criticizing Bush. In fact, I think they’ll make fools of themselves if they criticize him at all. They should just say, “It was a nice thing to do, our troops deserved it, in fact they deserve…blah blah blah.” But I wouldn’t be surprised if we get more flight jacket hysteria.

    I must concur.

    And fellow Corner-ite Rick Brookhiser wrote last night:

    How right that he went; how heartened I am that he saw the rightness. Enjoy the moment. Tomorrow, Maureen Dowd will tell us it was a glitzy, glammy secret sideshow; Paul Krugman will explain that it distracted from the good economic numbers, which are really bad economic numbers; Frank Rich will compare it to some old TV shows; John Kerry will say that the troops should have stayed home in the first place, and by the way, he went to Vietnam. Whatever W’s limitations with the talkoisie, he does seem to know how to talk to the Armed Forces.


    Filed under: Iraq | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (1)
    • Backcountry Conservative linked with Bush's Baghdad Thanksgiving Round-Up
    Spinning the Visit

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:54 am

    I have not had a chance to see any pundits or read any commentary on the President’s visit to Iraq yesterday, aside from some generally positive reaction in the Blogosphere yesterday evening.

    My guess is that most of the Democrats/critics of the President will say it was a stunt of some kind, they will talk about the unnecessary risk (which is a legit criticism), and say that it was all done for political reasons. I suspect some will try to say that it was an attempt to re-create the carrier landing and replace it as a symbol that the President can use in the campaign, since the “Mission Accomplished” flap somewhat tainted that event.

    I suspect that Republicans/supportes of the President will be impressed, and see it as a highly valuable symbolic move by the President.

    I think that it represented 1) a sincere wish to honor the troops on Thanksgiving, and 2) a strong statement of our committment (based on hs speech) that we are in Iraq militarily for the long haul, even if there is a transition to Iraqi civilian government by next summer.

    And certainly it was a logistically impressive event, to say the least.

    UPDATE: James of OTB has a round-up of Blogospheric reactions.

    UPDATE II: Sean Hackbarth of the American Mind has a lengthy round-up of his own (Hat-Tip to James)

    Update III: Overtaken by Events has a nice round-up as well, including a nice list of headlines from various news outlets.

    Filed under: Iraq | Comments (1) | Trackbacks (1)
    | Show Comments here
    • Backcountry Conservative linked with Bush's Baghdad Thanksgiving Round-Up
    Thursday, November 27, 2003
    Wowie, Part II

    By Steven Taylor @ 11:26 pm

    This really is some story: Media: Amid Tight Secrecy, a Tip: Bush Is Going to Baghdad

    In a scene out of a Tom Clancy novel, Mr. Allen was then driven several blocks to what he later described as “a concealed parking lot” and told only that “someone wanted to talk” to him.

    That person was Dan Bartlett, Mr. Bush’s communications director, who came bearing a message: “The president’s going to Baghdad.”

    It was just before 4 p.m. in Texas. A little more than four hours later, Mr. Allen and several other journalists were seated aboard Air Force One and flying toward Washington. By 9:35 a.m. Eastern time the next day, the journalists, including writers from The Associated Press, Bloomberg News and Reuters, as well as a camera crew from Fox News and photographers from several wire services, would touch down with the president in Iraq. The outside world — including in many cases, bosses and families — would not learn of their journey until after they were on their way back home.


    For the journalists involved, the president’s surprising appearance before the troops was unmistakably exciting.

    In his report to the press corps, Mr. Allen described sitting on Air Force One across from Richard Keil of Bloomberg News. At one point, Mr. Allen wrote, Mr. Keil “leaned across the aisle, shoved aside his I-Pod headset and grinned as he said, `The president of the United States is AWOL, and we’re with him. The ultimate road trip.’ “

    Filed under: Iraq | Comments (0) | Trackbacks(3)
    • Overtaken by Events linked with Brilliant, Part Deux
    • Backcountry Conservative linked with Bush's Baghdad Thanksgiving Round-Up

    By Steven Taylor @ 4:58 pm

    Cam Edwards has the anit-matter to my post from below.

    It does remind me how myopic and falsely intellectual college kids can be-especially the smart ones.

    Filed under: US Politics | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)

    By Steven Taylor @ 4:50 pm

    I saw this flipping channels between FB games: President Travels to Baghdad and Addresses Soldiers at Airport. At first I thought they were showing file footage until I digested it all.

    In a stunning mission conducted under enormous secrecy, President Bush flew into Baghdad today aboard Air Force One to share Thanksgiving dinner with United States officials and several hundred astonished American troops.

    His trip-the first ever to Iraq by an American president-had been kept a matter of absolute secrecy by the White House, which had said that Mr. Bush was to spend the holiday weekend at his ranch outside Crawford, Tex.

    No doubt a huge morale boost for the troops he visited. And quite a surprise all the way ’round.

    He told the troops that the United States would not back down in the face of stern resistance in Iraq.

    The trip also carried a powerful public relations message, coming on a day when millions of Americans traditionally are at home before their televisions to watch parades or football games.

    The presidential historian Douglas Brinkley, speaking on CNN, called the trip “a perfectly executed plan” that would be “one of the major moments in his biography.” It would have provided “an incredible thrill” for the Americans, he said.

    And no joke:

    The trip underscored the extraordinary ability of this administration to keep even the most dramatic of secrets.

    Filed under: Iraq | Comments (0) | Trackbacks(4)
    • Signifying Nothing linked with The meaning of the Iraq visit
    • Overtaken by Events linked with Brilliant, Part Deux
    • Backcountry Conservative linked with Bush's Baghdad Thanksgiving Round-Up
    Signs of Desperation

    By Steven Taylor @ 11:08 am

    House, Painting and Wife Join in Kerry Financing

    or Senator John Kerry, the five-story red brick house in the exclusive Beacon Hill section of Boston, with its climbing wisteria, antique furnishings and rooftop deck, offers a place of respite from his frenetic campaigning for the Democratic nomination for president.

    Now the house, worth perhaps $10 million, may offer Mr. Kerry something else: a quick way to get a loan to inject money that could jump-start his campaign.

    And it is funny how all of a sudden all the Dems (of course Kerry’s wife used to a Rep) keep talking about money, campaigning and the First Amendment:

    Mr. Kerry’s decision has renewed focus on his personal wealth, and that of his wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, who has a fortune estimated to be $500 million. For the campaign, Mr. Kerry can use his own assets and borrow against those, like the Boston house, that he owns jointly with his wife. Ms. Heinz Kerry, meanwhile, cannot legally contribute more than $2,000 to his campaign, but she could be a secret weapon of sorts. Under the law, she can make an independent expenditure on her husband’s behalf as long as she does not coordinate such an effort with him or his campaign.

    Ms. Heinz Kerry, who has been actively campaigning for her husband, acknowledged in a recent interview that she would consider such a step if she felt that Mr. Kerry was being unfairly attacked. She hinted that such expenditures might take the form of an advertising campaign.

    “I think that is a First Amendment right in America for me,” she said. “I have that right. But that’s a serious thing to do. It has to be really legitimate.”

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    By Steven Taylor @ 10:42 am

    While there are many more things more important for which I am thankful, I have to note that I am quite pleased that the Cowboys are back to being the Cowboys, while the Lions remain the Lions.

    The only way most of the nation has been able to judge the Detroit Lions for the last three seasons is this: 8 wins, 35 losses.

    So when the Lions face Green Bay in their traditional Thanksgiving television slot on Thursday, they hope to show the nation they’re not really that bad.

    It is good for the natural order of the NFL universe to be back where it is supposed to be.

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    T-Day Round-Up

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:10 am

    A perusal of the Blogosphere and RealClear Politics, nets the following examples of writing today on what we have to be thankful for in this great country of ours:

    As the President’s Thanksgiving Message notes:

    America is a land of abundance, prosperity, and hope. We must never take for granted the things that make our country great: a firm foundation of freedom, justice, and equality; a belief in democracy and the rule of law; and our fundamental rights to gather, speak, and worship freely.

    George Will has a piece on the history of the date upon which we celebrate, and, shockingly, the politics thereof (especially as linked to commerce). My favorite bit (not surprisingly):

    But in 1939, 23 states followed FDR’s lead and celebrated Thanksgiving on Nov. 23. Twenty-three stayed with Nov. 30. Colorado and Texas celebrated on both days, Texas doing so to avoid having to reschedule - speaking of things to give thanks for - the Texas-Texas A&M football game.


    Jonah Goldberg note that things have been gettin progessively better in the US and Europe as he discusses numeroud examples from Gregg Easterbrook’s new book. (Hat tip: PoliPundit).

    Jeff Jacoby is giving thanks for capitalism (as is Gary Hull of the Ayn Rand
    Institute (A tip of the hat to Cox and Forkum for that one)).

    David Broder is thankful that we remain united in the face of political divisions (of which I think he makes far, far too much).

    Dean Esmay has an excerpt from yesterday’s WSJ, detailing much that we all should be thankful for.

    And we are all thanksful that James of OTB is well after a traffic accident yesterday!

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    Happy Thanksgiving!

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:06 am

    May you have a blessed day with friends and family.

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    Wednesday, November 26, 2003
    Doctorate or Doctornot

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:03 pm

    Mike Van Winkle asks: to Ph.D. or not to Ph.D.

    (This question seems especially apropos after James of OTB pointed to this post at Crooked Timber.)

    First off, partially in response to the Crooked Timber post, I find that I quite enjoy the academic life, although it is true that the financial remuneration isnt what other professions might provide (of course, I do live in a low cost of living state). Still, I love teaching and writing, and clearly have an abiding and deep interest in politics. University campuses tend to be fairly pleasant places to be, and the schedule one has (even at an institution with a heavy teaching load) is quite flexible and beats your typical traditional work day.

    Of course, I dont know how assistant professors in say, SoCal manage to afford to live (the basic answer, I suppose, is have a two-income family—otherwise, I am guessing you end up living like a grad student). And Chris Bertram’s description of the time it takes to get an academic job in the UK is close to that in the US, i.e., a 4 year degree followed by 4-6 (maybe more) of grad school, with likely a year or more at a temporary position before a tenure track job is acquired (if one is lucky enough to get one). So, it does require quite a commitment, and the entire process bears a certain resemblance to rolling dice.

    In regards to Mikes question (whether or not one ought to pursue a Ph.D.), I would answer as following:

    If you want to teach at the university level: yes.

    If you like books, study, teaching, and talking: yes.

    If you are passionate about a particular subject: yes.

    If you want to spend a lot of time on specific issues that excite you, but that you may be one of a handful who find them exciting: yes.

    If you want to get rich: no.

    If you have to live in a certain part of the country: no.

    If you have to live in a certain kind of town (i.e., big city or whatever): no.

    If you arent a self-starter: no.

    If you require a great deal of structure in your life to excel at your work: no.

    Also, some advice for those who might be considering graduate study:

    1. Only go if you really want the degree. There is a high rate of attrition in grad school and only those who truly want it will finish.

    2. Take a GRE review course before you take the test: TAships are normally affected by empirical measures such as GPA and GRE scores. Every point can count.

    3. Remember: there are a lot less jobs out there than there are applicants. A lot of people who are worthy of an academic employment may never get one (I can think of several whom I personally know right off the top of my head).

    4. Once in school, go to conferences: take those seminar papers and present them. And dont be pickygo to local, regional and national conferences. Indeed, the local and regional conferences are typically cheaper to attend, and easier to get your proposal accepted.

    5. Contact journals in your field and volunteer to get put on their list of book reviewersit is easy way to get published and you get free books.

    6. Pursue publications whilst in grad school.

    7. Seek out teaching experience while you study.

    8. Keep your mind and eye open to non-academic alternatives, should a tenure-track position not materialize once you graduate.

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    • Signifying Nothing linked with Ph.D. advice
    CoV 62

    By Steven Taylor @ 7:19 pm

    IN case you didn’t already know, Setting The World To Rights has the latest edition of the Carnival of the Vanities.

    Begging to Differ will be next week’s host.

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    I Would Expect So

    By Steven Taylor @ 4:43 pm

    Democrats Hope Sen. Breaux Seeks Re-Election

    Indeed, the last thing the DNC wants to see is another open seat in a southern state. Of course, LA has been the exception to the pattern in the last two elections. Still, sans Breaux there is a good chance that the seat goes Republican.

    Filed under: 2004 Campaign | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
    Even the Fed is Happy

    By Steven Taylor @ 4:22 pm

    Fed Reports Improvements in U.S. Economy

    A U.S. economic revival gained strength in October and early November with “broadly based” improvements, the Federal Reserve said in its most optimistic assessment of business conditions in some time.

    The central bank said Wednesday that in most parts of the country, sales were up and retailers were optimistic about the upcoming holidays. Not only that, residential housing continued to boom, it said, and even the nation’s beleaguered factories were seeing promising signs of a rebound at long last.

    Filed under: The Economy | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
    Pronunciation Strategery

    By Steven Taylor @ 1:02 pm

    Bush mispronunces Nevada in first presidential visit

    Nevada memo to George Bush: When making a first presidential visit to a state, use the right pronounciation of its name.

    Bush, in Las Vegas on Tuesday, repeatedly said Ne-vah-da. To properly pronounce Nevada, the middle syllable should rhyme with gamble.

    Ok, I am not shocked that Bush would mispronounce something, but the explanation of what he did and the proper way to pronounce the state confuses me. How can “Nevada” in any way rhyme with “gamble"?

    I guess that Bush said “vah” as in va-voom, or say “ah” rather than “va” as in vacuum or ack (like Bill the Cat).

    I dunno.

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    • Signifying Nothing linked with You say Nevada, I say Nevada
    More Good Econ News

    By Steven Taylor @ 11:05 am

    Reports Brighten U.S. Growth Prospects

    Prospects for U.S. growth brightened on Wednesday as new unemployment benefit claims decreased to a nearly three-year low and durable goods orders posted a surprisingly strong jump, government reports showed.

    A slew of economic indicators pointed to firmer business activity - something that also should help reinforce a faster pace of growth by easing Americans’ job fears and putting more cash in consumer wallets.

    The Labor Department said first-time claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 11,000 to 351,000 in the week ended Nov. 22 - the lowest since January 2001, before the economy slipped into recession.

    The story has more indicators of note, including increased orders for durable goods, and specifically non-defense goods. In general the manufacturing news is quite good.

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    That’ll Show ‘Em

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:47 am

    U.N. ‘Strongly Deplores’ Iran Nuclear Cover-Up

    Filed under: Middle East | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:46 am

    U.S. Arrests Wife and Daughter of Hussein Aide

    U.S. troops arrested the wife and daughter of a top Saddam Hussein deputy suspected of masterminding attacks on U.S. troops, and a major pipeline linking northern Iraqi oilfields to the country’s biggest refinery was ablaze Wednesday.

    Filed under: Iraq | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
    You Don’t Say?

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:38 am

    Drug trafficker led ‘comfortable’ life

    And, ka-zing!

    She lived a double life, defence lawyer Pierre Panaccio said, accusing her of setting up fronts, like furniture and clothing import businesses, and lying to her children about where the money came from.

    “Everything that paid for your children’s nice clothing and education came from drugs, and you never told them?” he asked.

    “The seor wants to call it deceitful. It’s just like the relationships of criminal lawyers,” Antelo responded calmly.

    “I want to ask him whether he tells his children that he defends assassins and criminals. That’s his life.”

    A wild tale all the way ’round, btw.

    Filed under: War on Drugs | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
    Only in Alabama…

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:29 am

    ‘War Eagle’ creates no cheer at UA

    Former Auburn cheerleader Christopher Bailey said “War Eagle” one time too many.

    Bailey, who became a University of Alabama cheerleader after transfering this year, gave the Auburn cheer on national television Saturday night while wearing the uniform of the Crimson Tide - and promptly got booted off the UA cheerleading squad.

    Bailey, 23, was cut after Tide athletic officials received e-mail complaints concerning the interview Bailey did on ESPN during the televised Iron Bowl. A cheerleader for Auburn for three years, Bailey said he still has strong feelings for Auburn and during the interview with ESPN’s Adrian Karsten he complied with a request to say “War Eagle” and “Roll Tide.”


    Alabama fan Pat Taylor of Birmingham said that Bailey should not be allowed to cheer for the Tide after saying what he did.

    “There are too many other young men and women who would be proud to cheer for Alabama. They should be the ones cheering, not him,” Taylor said.

    The kid should’ve known better, to be sure, but it ain’t like he did it during the game or seomthing. Doing a silly stunt for an interview doesn’t seem like a capital offense to me, but then I am neutral in the UA-AU wars.

    And I put this in “Alabama Politics” and not “Sports” on purpose ;)

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    • The World Around You linked with AU-UA Rivalry is Serious Business
    Well, When There’s no Money…

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:23 am

    From Montgomery County Alabama we have the following: Courts cancel trials by jury

    No jurors will meet behind closed doors to determine the fate of Montgomery County’s accused for the next month and a half.


    To save money in the face of Alabama’s budget woes, the Alabama Administrative Office of Courts has asked the state’s court systems to reduce the days of jury trials by one-third, Montgomery County Court Administrator Bob Merrill said.

    Most of the money for the county court system, including funds for paying jurors, comes from the state’s coffers.

    To accommodate the state’s request, the county courts stopped calling in jurors this week and will not bring in another jury pool until Jan. 12.

    And then from nearby Autaga County: Budget cuts hinder courts

    Autauga County’s lone bailiff is being forced out of a job he’s held for 11 years and two months as judges reduce the workforce in courthouses across the state.

    Now the county is struggling to find a way to perform Rick Allen’s duties.

    Allen is among the casualties from the budget cuts to Alabama’s judicial system as a result of the Sept. 9 defeat of Gov. Bob Riley’s $1.2 billion tax reform and accountability plan.

    But, of course, the state doesn’t need any extra revenue…

    Filed under: Alabama Politics | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
    Tuesday, November 25, 2003
    Issa Stays in the House, Decides not to run for Senate

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:58 pm

    Issa Opts Out of Calif. U.S. Senate Race

    Rep. Darrell Issa, who bankrolled the recall drive against Gov. Gray Davis, will not seek the Republican nomination to challenge Sen. Barbara Boxer, a spokesman said Tuesday.

    Instead, Issa filed Tuesday afternoon to run for re-election to the House. “He is very committed and determined in his congressional work,” spokesman Jonathan Wilcox said.

    Filed under: 2004 Campaign | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
    Always Good: Top al Qaeda Leader Caught

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:09 pm

    Yemeni Police Seize Local Al Qaeda Leader

    Yemen’s security forces on Tuesday detained a top al Qaeda suspect who had evaded arrest despite heading the Arab state’s wanted list for nearly two years.

    The official Yemeni news agency, Saba, said Mohammad Hamdi al-Ahdal, also known as Abu Asem al-Macci, surrendered to police after they surrounded a house in the capital, Sanaa, where the Islamic militant had been hiding.

    In Washington, a U.S. counterterrorism official said Ahdal had been among the top 20 to 25 al Qaeda leaders still at large and called his capture a significant development.

    Filed under: War on Terror | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
    Go See Opus

    By Steven Taylor @ 2:05 pm

    Kevin of Wizbang! (as oppossed to many other Bloggin’ Kevins) has a link to a scan of the debut of Opus. Ok, it ain’t hylarious, but beats Mary Worth and Gasoline Alley, amongst many others.

    Filed under: Not politics | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
    But Can You Get it on DVD?

    By Steven Taylor @ 1:59 pm

    Moore trial video available to public

    “My feeling was that it was just too significant an event to not videotape it,” said Tim Lewis, the library’s director. He said he will make copies available to anyone for the cost of copying, about $12.

    Hmm, quite frankly, I’d rather have this.

    Filed under: Alabama Politics | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (1)
    • Tiger: Raggin’ & Rantin’ linked with Was there anywhere in Yosemite for Sam to spend the night?
    The Other Big Bill Stalls

    By Steven Taylor @ 11:25 am

    Quite frankly, this is more than fine with me: G.O.P. Leaders Dropping Push for an Energy Bill This Year

    Congress abandoned its efforts to enact new energy legislation this year as Senate Republican leaders said Monday night that time had run out to resolve an impasse blocking a vote on the measure.

    The more I hear about this bill, the less I like it. Indeed, I hope it stay dead.

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    • Matthew J. Stinson | weblog linked with L is for lamentation through blogging bullets
    More Good Econ News: Consumer Confidence Surges

    By Steven Taylor @ 11:13 am

    Consumer Confidence Rises in November

    Steady improvements in the job market helped push consumer confidence in November to its highest level in more than a year, a private research group reported Tuesday.

    After rebounding last month, the Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index rose again to 91.7 in November, up from a revised 81.7 in October. The reading, the highest since September 2002, was well ahead of the 85.0 projection by analysts.

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    Human Rights Watch Responds to AUC Demobilization

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:51 am

    In regards to this event, which I blogged earlier today, HRW is not impressed:

    The Colombian government’s television broadcast of a paramilitary demobilization risks becoming a showcase for impunity, Human Rights Watch said today. In a live telecast featuring government officials and paramilitary fighters, the government will broadcast videotaped statements from paramilitary leaders who have been convicted of massacres, murders and other serious crimes, but remain at large.

    The telecast is scheduled to take place during the demobilization of an estimated 800 paramilitary fighters of the Bloque Cacique Nutibara, part of the alliance known as the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC). Since 2002, paramilitaries have been in talks with the government about turning in their weapons. Paramilitary leaders have refused to surrender, however, and have demanded international immunity for their crimes

    “The broadcast is a travesty,” said Jos Miguel Vivanco, Executive Director of the Americas Division of Human Rights Watch. “Instead of handing these criminals a microphone, the government should be concentrating on arresting them and bringing them to justice.”

    Human Rights Watch questioned the strategy of allowing low-level paramilitaries to demobilize while leaving their leaders free to recruit new members and continue to operate and commit further crimes. As yet, no clear rules have been established to ensure that individuals who have committed serious human rights abuses will be prosecuted or even investigated.

    And the leader of the AUC is certainly a criminal (to put it mildly):

    Among the paramilitary leaders scheduled to speak via video to a live television audience is Carlos Castao, the head of the AUC. A survey of the crimes that Castao has been convicted of or has admitted to makes horrifying reading.

    In 2001, a Colombian judge sentenced Castao to 22 years in prison for his role in the assassination of Patriotic Union presidential candidate Bernardo Jaramillo Ossa, shot in 1990 in Bogot’s El Dorado airport. Since its founding in 1984, the Patriotic Union has been virtually exterminated in attacks on party members by paramilitaries under Castao’s command, often working in coordination with Colombia’s military.

    In his authorized biography, Mi Confesin, Castao gave a detailed account of how he selected and trained the juvenile assassin who in 1990 murdered a second presidential candidate, M-19 leader Carlos Pizarro; this was the same boy who authorities say he used to kill Jaramillo. As a result, the Attorney General’s office recommended in June 2002 that Castao be convicted of the murder and sentenced to 60 years in prison.

    Castao has also acknowledged that he planned the 1994 assassination of Colombian Senator Manuel Cepeda, carried out in coordination with Colombian army officers.

    In April 2003, a judge in Antioquia sentenced Castao to 40 years in prison for arranging the 1997 El Aro massacre of at least 15 people. Witnesses said that paramilitaries took one resident to a house, tied him to a tree, and then gouged out his eyes and cut off his tongue and testicles before killing him.

    Also this year, a Bogot court sentenced Castao to 40 years in prison for his role in organizing the 1997 Mapiripn massacre. At dawn on July 15, an estimated 200 heavily armed paramilitaries members began rounding up residents in this jungle town. Over a five-day period, paramilitaries are believed to have killed over 30 people, torturing them before throwing their bodies into a nearby river.

    As of January, Colombia’s attorney general had opened at least 35 additional criminal cases against Castao. In 27 of the cases, formal arrest warrants have been issued against him.

    The AUC is, btw, on the State Department’s list of terrorist organizations.

    Filed under: Latin America | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
    GDP Figure Revised Updward

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:31 am

    Remarkable: U.S. GDP Grows at 8.2 Percent Pace in 3Q

    The economy roared ahead at an astounding 8.2 percent annual rate in the third quarter, the fastest pace in nearly two decades and a much stronger performance than previously thought. It raises hope that a long spell of lackluster business activity is finally over.

    The revised gross domestic product, released by the Commerce Department Tuesday, was a full percentage point higher than the 7.2 percent growth rate estimated a month ago.

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    Medicare Bill Passes

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:57 am

    As James of OTB reports the medicare bill has passed the Senate. On a related noted, he has a wothwhile post on the realistic differences between the two parties.

    As he noted the other day, there is a substantial difference between philosophers and politcians (especially legislators) on what it means to be conservative and liberal.

    Another point worth making, despite the fact that we like to talk about policy-making in rational and logic terms, the honest to gosh truth is that 1) we never really fully understand the entirely of a given policy problem, especially ones as complex as this, so therefore 2) the solutions are never as clear-cut as they seem, and 3) this is compounded by the give-and-take of legislative politics.

    As one political scientist (Charles Lindblom) put it, policy-making is the “sciene of muddling through” which is unsatisfying, but nonetheless true.

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    Intriguing: Part of Colombia’s AUC Disarms

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:39 am

    First Colombia Militia Begins to Disarm

    After singing the national anthem, 800 fighters of Colombia’s feared right-wing militia piled their weapons and ammunition on the floor - a disarmament ceremony Tuesday touted by the government as a first step toward ending four decades of war.

    Yet before the nationally televised event even started, critics were denouncing it as choreographed show that lets killers, kidnappers and drug peddlers off the hook. The paramilitary umbrella group, the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia, or AUC, is blamed for some of the worst atrocities in Colombia’s conflict.

    If this is more than show, it is a big deal-the AUC has become almost as problematic as the FARC, and I would argue that they are more of a problem than the ELN (the other sizeable leftist guerrilla group still operating in Colombia). Of course, as the excerpt indicates, the amensty law is controversial, for undertstandable reasons.

    Filed under: Latin America | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
    No Surprise Here

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:36 am

    Funny how when you have no revenue, that people tend to be less eager to lend you money: Alabama’s outlook negative

    Standard & Poor’s Rating Services left Alabama’s AA bond rating unchanged, but in a report this week lowered its outlook for much of the state’s bond debt from stable to negative.

    That outlook confirmed Gov. Bob Riley’s warning of a financial crisis on next year’s horizon and puts the state on notice that its bond rating could be lowered within one to three years, state Finance Director Drayton Nabers Jr. said Friday.

    The state now has $535 million in general obligation debt and voters on Sept. 9 defeated Riley’s tax package aimed at a budget deficit.

    Filed under: Alabama Politics | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
    Montgomery, Alabama May Not Seek to Prosecute Snipers

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:29 am

    As you all may recall, Malvo and Muhammad are suspected of robbing a liquor store in Montgomery, Alabama, killing one worker and wounding another. However, Alabama may not try suspects . It stands to reason, giving the cost involved. And as I tell my students, you can only execute them once.

    Filed under: Alabama Politics | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (1)
    Monday, November 24, 2003
    Dean Leading in Iowa?

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:09 pm

    They referenced a poll with Dean ahead of Gephardt on Fox News and Dave Wissing has a recent poll here (the Survey USA poll), which has Dean at 32 and Gepahrdt at 22.

    If Gepahardt loses Iowa, count him as crumbs.

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    Kerry Continues to Sink

    By Steven Taylor @ 5:24 pm

    Here’s a woeful piece (if one is a Kerry supporter) from yesterday’s Boston Globe: After missteps, Kerry refocuses his campaign

    Even his advisers called the performance “sluggish” and “unpresidential": Senator John F. Kerry, at a house party here on Nov. 7, left some Democrats in the room bewildered by referring to President Bush’s “job-creating tax cut,” calling an abortion procedure “grisly or whatever,” and offering such anti-sound bites as “the road traveled is the prologue to the road to be traveled.”

    And then things got worse.

    The next night, a Saturday, Kerry gave a rambling speech before 500 party activists in Maine; aides said afterward that he was tired. Less than 24 hours later, Kerry dismissed his campaign manager and relayed the news to his staff by telephone while at dinner.

    And so we are in the midst of re-toolingm, re-launching and, oh, by the way, trailingDean in two polls in his home state.

    Not good.

    Filed under: 2004 Campaign | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
    OTB @ 200k!

    By Steven Taylor @ 4:03 pm

    OTB deserves a collective tip of the hat from the Blogosphere for hitting 200,000 hits last night. James inspired me to start blogging, so you have him to blame. In some ways we’ve both been blogging for years, sending e-mailed news stories back and forth with commentary since 1998 (and many an “indeed” was shared well before we knew who InstaP was), but I think he would agree that blogging for a broader audience is more fun.

    So again: good job and keep it up.

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    • The World Around You linked with OTB Hits 200K
    The Tactical Genius of the Democratic Party

    By Steven Taylor @ 2:08 pm

    Surely doing this: Democrats Demand Bush Pull TV Ad Attacking Critics of Iraq Policy means that far more attention will be given to this ad than otherwise would have been the case. Further, it will mean many free airings of at least part of the commercial, as was the case on MTP yesterday.

    Yes, the Dems are campaignin’ geniuses.

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    That Other Carnival

    By Steven Taylor @ 1:58 pm

    The current Carnival of the Capitalist is up atTruck and Barter, a member, it would seem, of the Bloggin’ Kevins (and also an example of a blogging academic-in this case a Ph.D. student in the area of economics).

    Filed under: Blogging | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
    I’m So Relieved

    By Steven Taylor @ 1:42 pm

    Beats the Rich pardon: Bush Pardons Stars, the Talkative Turkey

    Filed under: US Politics | Comments (1) | Trackbacks (0)
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    So Much for the Filibuster

    By Steven Taylor @ 1:38 pm

    Despite threats to the contrary, it looks like the medicare bill is going to pass: Senate Closes Medicare Debate, Nears Vote

    The Senate voted to choke off debate Monday on a historic Medicare prescription drug bill, but die-hard opponents vowed one final effort to scuttle the legislation they attacked as a boon to pharmaceutical and insurance industries.

    The vote was 70-29, 10 more than the 60 needed to end a filibuster led by Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., and joined by a pair of Democratic presidential hopefuls eager to share the spotlight.

    In other words: it is essentially a done deal.

    Filed under: US Politics | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
    In Case You Were Wondering

    By Steven Taylor @ 1:35 pm

    The next CoV will be hosted at Setting The World To Rights, and there’s still time to get your entries in.

    Filed under: Blogging | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
    I’m Sure this Will Help

    By Steven Taylor @ 11:40 am

    Clark hires former Graham campaign chief

    Clark spokesman Matt Bennett said Johnson was hired by campaign chairman Eli Segal and will start next Monday.

    Johnson is a Minnesota native and a veteran of several Democratic campaigns for the Senate. He also worked on the presidential campaigns of former Nebraska Sen. Bob Kerrey in 1992 and Walter Mondale in 1984.

    Nothing like hiring someone with a winning track record…

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    Joe the Whiner

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:52 am

    So, he pulls out of he caucus, but gripes because special arangements are made for him to participate in a debate?

    Democrats Exclude Lieberman From Satellite Feed of Debate

    Filed under: 2004 Campaign | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:49 am

    Not what one typically likes to see: Colombian Death Squads Drink with Police -Uribe

    Colombian President Alvaro Uribe on Saturday accused a police unit of having such close ties to ring-wing paramilitary death squads that they went drinking together.


    The paramilitaries are blamed for the deaths of thousands of people in a dirty war against Marxist rebels and have been branded terrorists by the United States, which is seeking top paramilitary bosses on drug trafficking charges.

    “The public forces cannot enter into collusion, neither with the paramilitaries or the guerrillas,” Uribe said.

    Filed under: Latin America | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
    Have I Mentioned that Kerry is Toast?

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:36 am

    Drudge notes the following: Poll: Dean tops Kerry in Bay State

    Sen. John F. Kerry is facing a backyard beating at the hands of presidential primary nemesis Howard Dean, losing his own state by a staggering 9 points in a new Boston Herald poll.

    Dean, who already stole the primary leads from a faltering Kerry in New Hampshire and Iowa, would pummel the hometown senator 33 percent to 24 percent if voting were held today.
    Worse for Kerry, Dean leads here by riding the longtime senator’s supposed core base - liberals, Democrats and older voters.

    Amazing. One wonders if that holds up if Kerry will stay in the race. To lose one’s home state in the primary would be embarassing, to say the least.

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    Placed on the Top Shelf

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:18 am

    My thanks to Stephen Green, your friendly neighborhood VodkaPundit, for placing me on his list o’ links.

    Filed under: Blogging | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
    Half a Mil

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:11 am

    Congrats to N.Z. Bear for reaching the 500,000th hit last night.

    I know we all in the Blogosphere appreaciate the Bear and his hard work on the Ecosystem-so go hop over and leave a nice comment at TTLB.

    Filed under: Blogging | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
    Sentencing Complete

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:02 am

    Sniper Jury Reaches a Decision on Muhammad’s Sentence. The headline of the DMN’s story says he has been sentenced to death, but the AP story at the NYT and Yahoo News just states that a sentence has been issued (ditto the DMN’s text, which is, like all the others, from the AP)

    UPDATE: The AP has now issued a more complete story on the verdict: Jury Recommends Death Sentence for Mastermind of Sniper Attacks

    Filed under: Criminal Justice | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
    Medicare Bill

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:54 am

    My gut reaction to both the energy bill and the medicare bill is that they are large, expensive and confusing: three things that legislation often is, but that I would prefer it not to be.

    There is little doubt that there is a political capital to be gained by the Republicans in terms of the medicare bill, and I think David Broder hit the nail on the head in his recent column on this subject. It isn’t so much that the GOP can siphon off a large number of hard-core Democrats, but it will, like the Homeland Security Act, be an issue that redounds to the Republicans, especially in legislative elections, as Broder notes:

    In 2002 the Republicans arranged for the final item on the agenda before Congress broke for the midterm election to be the bill creating the Department of Homeland Security. The proposal started with the Democrats and was initially opposed by the White House. But Bush reversed himself, made it a priority and reveled in the fact that Senate Democrats delayed passing it because the Republicans would not agree to extend traditional civil service protections to employees of the new bureaucracy.

    In the shorthand of the campaign, that turned into the charge that Democrats were playing politics with the nation’s security. It played well in states such as Georgia and helped the Republicans regain control of the Senate.

    Policy-wise, I wonder about the wisdom of the plan, especially in fiscal terms. However, I do think that a prescription drug benefit is inevitable, so better a Republican-authored plan than a Democratic one. An editorial by Newt Gringrich in the Dead Tree version of the WSJ last Thursday caught my eye on this topic, as he made the case for conservatives to vote for the bill, specifically because it introduces a number of privatization processes into the system (which has lead to the howling by Senator Kennedy and his allies in the Senate), and specifically Gingrich notes that the plan allows for the creation of health savings accounts (HSAs)-which is something that conservative Republicans have been trying to push for years. Indeed, the former Speaker calls this bill “the most important reorganization of our nation’s health-care system since the original Medicare Bill of 1965.”

    I have seen precious little in the press on the HSAs, but this is an intriguing element of this package. The NYT reported on HSAs a few days back (but I missed it at the time): Health Savings Accounts Drew Yeas From the Wary

    For some conservative Republicans opposed to expanding a government entitlement program, the sweetener that allowed them to swallow the medicine and vote for the Medicare bill on Saturday morning was the inclusion of a new tax-free health savings account.

    These accounts have long been a goal of conservative lawmakers and academics who want to add cost-cutting competition to the health insurance marketplace and offer a way for workers to save money for medical expenses in their retirement.


    Here is how the accounts would work: Consumers or their employers would buy relatively inexpensive health insurance policies with high deductibles at least $1,000 a year for individuals and $2,000 for families so that patients would be fully covered for costly injuries or illnesses but have to pay routine medical expenses out of pocket.

    With the money saved in lower premiums, they would open health savings accounts into which they or their employers could put up to $5,000 a year ($10,000 for a couple). The contributions would be tax deductible, the money would accumulate year after year tax free, and it could be withdrawn to pay not only for the kinds of medical expenses normally covered by insurance, like doctor visits and laboratory tests, but also for expenses often not covered, like cosmetic surgery, dental care and eyeglasses.

    I am surprised that this has not been better highlighted by conservative in the Congress trying to rally support for the bill. Of course, it is unclear how widespread this would actually be implemented.

    Given all this, and given, as noted above, that a prescription drug benefit is, in my opinion, inevtiable, the inclusion of HSAs makes this bill palatable.

    UPDATE: This post is now caught up in today’s Beltway Traffic Jam.

    Filed under: US Politics | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
    Sunday, November 23, 2003
    Dvorak, The Future of Blogging, and Your Writing for Free

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:37 pm

    I noticed a reference to this piece by John C. Dvorak via Matthew Stinsons place. Essentially the columns thesis is 1) blogging is slowing down (if not fading in its current form) and 2) it is being co-opted by big media. Christopher Lawrence deals fairly well with point #1, although I would add, the logic Dvorak uses is flawed, insofar as it like saying that writing in on the decline because so many people try it, but after while quit (we just dont have stats on all the people who have tried to be novelists, playwrights, poets, essayist and gave up in a year or less). However, I would point out that success in blogging is better measured by how many successful blogs there are, not how many are abandoned.

    In regards to point #2, One Fine Jay deals with it fairly well. I would further add that just because blogging evolves, doesnt mean that it fails. Nor do big media blog necessarily cease to be blogs just because they are run by big media, or even if they are edited. Daniel Weintraubs California Insider went from unedited to edited, but it still is a blog, and it presents the news in a way that it has never been presented before. Indeed, simply the evolution of the way information is provided to readers (i.e., less static than the news story, and more dynamic, like a blog) may be the way in which big media blogs go.

    I was particularly struck by the following line from the Dvorak piece:

    The most obvious reason for abandonment is simple boredom. Writing is tiresome. Why anyone would do it voluntarily on a blog mystifies a lot of professional writers. This is compounded by a lack of feedback, positive or otherwise.

    The bolded portion is the key, as it helps explain why a lot of bloggers are academic types: we are used to writing for free (not to mention the fact that are daily lives are taken up with providing information, instruction and analysis), so bloggings a natural. Think about it: Blogmaster InstaP, Daniel Drezner, Mark Kleiman, Professor Bainbridge, James Joyner, Eugene Volokh (and friends), Matthew Stinson, Christopher Lawrence, and Boomshock (to name a few, and I am forgetting many) are all (or have been) professors of polisci or law, or are students of the same. All are successful bloggers, and some at the upper echelons of the TTLB Ecosystem. And, of course one is The Blogger.

    And while yes, there are times that academics get paid for their writings, it is probably less than a non-academic might think. For example, check out my (or any prof’s) c.v. and look at the list of conference presentations madethose represent thousands of words, all written for free-indeed, early in my career I would go to these things on my own dime, so really, I was paying for the privilege of presenting my writing. The work I (and countless others) for the Library of Congress’ Handbook of Latin American Studies is doen for free. Further, academic journals rarely pay for publications. One does get paid for books (although the only real money in academic publishing is in text books, if they catch on). Most stuff, however, is written for free, believe it or not-there are benefits to doing a lot of it, but it isn’t monetary. I do get paid for my columns, but it is no shock to me that a lot of blogs are written by academic types.

    Although I can also see the value in blogging for the professional writer, as it creates exposure and provides practice. (And in Sullys case, provides cash).

    And in re: Dvoraks feedback line, he is kidding, right? I mean sure, the one’s with 12 readers get no feedback, but please: this is one of the most interactive of ways one can write.

    Filed under: Blogging | Comments(5) | Trackbacks (1)
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    • Resonance linked with I've Been Had
    Three American Soldiers Killed in Iraq

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:08 am

    Three U.S. Soldiers Killed in Iraq

    A spokesman for the 101st Airborne Division said two soldiers were shot dead in their vehicle in the center of Mosul. But several Iraqi witnesses said the soldiers were stabbed and had their throats slit in broad daylight.

    Locals then stole items from the dead soldiers’ pockets, and smashed the windows of their white civilian car. One man was seen brandishing bloodstained Iraqi dinars he said were taken from the bodies.

    “People were taking things from the car. I looked inside and saw two soldiers with blood all over them,” said a local fireman who ran to the scene after hearing gunshots.

    Another soldier was killed by a roadside bomb 40 miles north of Baghdad

    Filed under: Iraq | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
    News “Coverage”

    By Steven Taylor @ 7:55 am

    James of OTB noted yesterday that in addition to being the 40th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination, it was also the 40th anniversary of the death of C.S. Lewis. I, too, was unaware of that fact prior to yesterday. Clearly the JFK story took priority over the Lewis story. And that is fully understandable.

    James further asked: “One wonders, for example, what happened on September 11, 2001 and the week or so thereafter that virtually no one knows about. Newspapers come out every day, regardless of whether there is anything exciting to put in them” (Sean Hackbarth tries to answer, and issues a challenge to the Blogosphere). And, certainly, it is wholly understandable that the events of 911 utterly eclipsed whatever else might have bee going on that day.

    However, the question made me wonder what gets ignored on a daily basis by 24 hour news channels just because they are lazy or addicted to the salacious and soap operatic, and not to really covering the news. The juxtaposition this week of the Michael Jackson coverage and the al Qaeda bombing in Turkey the same day provides an excellent example. It is rather obvious which of those stories is more important, yet we all know what dominated the news. And do we really need hours a night on the Laci Peterson case? When’s the last time there was serious reportage out of Afghanistan? Or Colombia, the third largest recepient of US foreign aid? Or (fill in the blank).

    I know, this is all driven by ratings, although one wonders sometimes if it isn’t also the path of least resistance. It is no doubt cheaper to show footage of Jackson’s plane landing than it is to report on events half-way ’round the world.

    Filed under: US Politics | Comments(3) | Trackbacks (1)
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    Saturday, November 22, 2003

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:06 pm

    My thanks to the following for blogrolling PoliBlog:

  • Between the Coasts
  • Blogs for Bush
  • Miller’s Time

    And to .:BipolarBBSBlog:. for the permalink.

  • Filed under: Blogging | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)

    By Steven Taylor @ 2:45 pm

    PoliBlog just recorded its 50,000th hit: someone using and visiting this week’s Toast-O-Meter.

    My thanks for all the visits.

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    • Wizbang linked with Milestones
    You Don’t Say?

    By Steven Taylor @ 2:05 pm

    I’m not saying they did, and I am not saying they didn’t (I really don’t have enough info to form an opinion), but don’t protestors always say this? Protesters Say Miami Police Overreacted

    Police were accused Friday of overreacting and using excessive force in clashes with demonstrators at this week’s trade talks.

    Filed under: US Politics | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
    Voting Tech

    By Steven Taylor @ 1:54 pm

    Interesting: California requires electronic voting machines to make receipts. However, on balance I am becoming increasingly convinced that touch screens really aren’t that good an idea, and that scantron-type ballots are the best way to go: there is a paper ballot that can be recounted if necessary, and they can have ballot boxes which scan for obvious errors when the ballot is deposited (like double-voting).

    The reported problems with the Diebold machines are troubling (to say the least) and the whole move to totally computerized voting seems to be a classic example of over-reaction to a problem, as well as an excellent example of how we often fall in love with high-tech far too easily at times.

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    Campaign Finance Toons

    By Steven Taylor @ 1:38 pm

    Dean Esmay has some great Day by Days on campaign finance reform.

    Sadly, yes, the BCRA can be funny.

    Filed under: 2004 Campaign | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
    Word Origins Can be Fun!

    By Steven Taylor @ 1:17 pm

    James of OTB links to an amusing VodkaPundit post (which, in turn comes from a VP reader).

    And, in case you think that it is a joke, I looked it up:

    ETYMOLOGY:Middle English surrenderen, from Old French surrendre : sur-, sur- rendre, to deliver; see render.

    Source: surrender. The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition. 2000.

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    By Steven Taylor @ 9:54 am

    This (scroll down) is plain scary.

    It reminds me of a Letterman routine years ago that projeted out the evolution of Jackson’s changes. The end result: David Hasselhoff.

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    By Steven Taylor @ 9:43 am

    Macy’s Band Playing It Safe: Let’s Skip Jackson’s “Thriller”

    Filed under: Not politics | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
    This Can’t be Good for Shevardnadze

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:05 am

    Protesters Seize Parliament in Georgia

    Opposition supporters broke into Georgia’s Parliament on Saturday and took it over, scuffling with lawmakers and forcing President Eduard Shevardnadze to flee as thousands of protesters outside demanded his resignation.

    Opposition leader Mikhail Saakashvili led hundreds of his supporters as they shoved their way into the chamber, overturning desks and chairs and leaping onto the speaker’s podium, just after the president convened the body.

    Filed under: Global Politics | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
    Dean and the Draft

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:01 am

    Drudge reported it yesterday, and James of OTB comented on it, now it is in the NYT: 33 Years Later, Draft Becomes Topic for Dean

    Dr. Dean got the medical deferment, but in a recent interview he said he probably could have served had he not mentioned the condition.

    The only candidate likely to use this to attack Dean is Kerry (and mayber Clark). James is right, this has become a non-issue. And as James also notes, it isn’t like Kerryis getting huge support from the fact that he served with distinction in Viet Nam.

    Indeed, Dean’s rather honest response (and one that couldn’t have been given safely twenty years ago) will probably add to his aura as the “straight talking candidate":

    “I guess that’s probably true,” he said. “I mean, I was in no hurry to get into the military.”

    Further, since he is running as essentially the anti-war candidate, in some ways this simply adds to that position in its own kind of way. In other words, the hard-core Democrats who are currently gung-ho for Dean are hardly going to fault him for not wanting to go to Viet Nam, now are they?

    I also think that many people in, say, their fifties and above (read: many veteran reporters, editors, commentators and politicians) don’t realize that to a whole lot of people these days Viet Nam is ancient history.

    Heck, my undergraduates were in elementary school during the Gulf War-to them Viet Nam might as well be WWII.

    Draft avoidance is a negative, but not a campaign killer by any stretch. It is like smoking marijuana - there was time that any hint of such activity disqualified you (remember the Ginsburg nomination to the Surpreme Court back in 1987?), but now it can be forgiven.

    Filed under: 2004 Campaign | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (1)
    • Signifying Nothing linked with Doctor Dean dodged draft, declares Drudge
    Friday, November 21, 2003
    French Military History

    By Steven Taylor @ 5:32 pm

    There’s an amusing little romp through history at Asymmetrical Information.

    Filed under: General | Comments (1) | Trackbacks (0)
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    PoliBlogs Ten Great Funny Lines from Movies

    By Steven Taylor @ 3:59 pm

    My trip down memory lane regarding the Pink Panther the other day, inspired me to think of some of my favorite funny movie lines from some of my favorite comedies.

    There is no logic here, nor any particular order, just lines I find funny, often just because. (Links to sound bites available when possible).

    1. Your mother was a hamster, and your father smelled of elderberries

    2. We are no long the Knight Who Say Ni, we are now the Knights Who Say Ekky-ekky-ekky-ekky-z’Bang, zoom-Boing". (sound bite )

    -Monty Python and the Holy Grail (indeed, I likely could do ten from this one alone)

    3. ..that was a priceless Steinway

    Not anymore

    -The Pink Panther Strikes Again (Sound bite)

    4. The Care Bears were here.

    -The Money Pit

    5. Its not a tumor.

    -Kindergarten Cop (Sound bite )

    6. Its good to be the King.

    -History of the World, Part I

    7. Look kids! Big Ben, Parliament!

    -National Lampoons European Vacation

    8. Its the Stay-Puff Marshmallow Man,


    9. Those arent pillows!

    -Planes, Trains and Automobiles

    10. I was born a poor black child

    -The Jerk

    This is todays entry in the Beltway Traffic Jam.

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    Tiger Blogotarian Awards

    By Steven Taylor @ 3:36 pm

    Tiger has institued an award to recognize helpful bloggers. Give the awardees a look over at Tig’s place, and then visit the nice award winners.

    And since Tiger is being so nice, I won’t even mention a certain football game from last night.

    Filed under: Blogging | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
    Apparently, I Would Not Like it in a Box, nor With a Fox

    By Steven Taylor @ 3:21 pm

    Says David Edstein of Slate in his review of the Cat in the Hat:

    On the other hand, watching the new, mega-budget Mike Myers vehicle Dr. Seuss’ The Cat in the Hat (Universal) is like being run over by a garbage truck that backs up and dumps its load on top of you. It’s a sloppy and vulgar burlesque, one of the most repulsive kiddie movies ever made.

    This was what I feared just from the commercials. Indeed, I had to wonder why that the producers and writers of that flick had to make a film about subject matter likely to appeal to elementary age kids (and younger) and make it a PG rated film. (And don’t tell me that it is because PG films always make more money, the “G” rated Finding Nemo was one of the top box office draws this year).

    Roger Ebert wasn’t too impressed, either.

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    Friday Golf Blogging

    By Steven Taylor @ 3:03 pm

    Why do some people think that it is a good idea to go for a little jog on a golf course? Sure, it’s green and open, and today was a beautiful, beautiful day, but it would seem that all that would all be offset by the fact that extremely hard, fast moving white balls fly around golf courses, and they could hit one in the head and, well, kill one.

    Just wondering.

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    Toast-O-Meter (11/21 Edition)

    By Steven Taylor @ 6:46 am

    The Toast-o-meter: A Weekly News Round-Up and Handicapping of the Race for the Democratic Nomination.

    The scale:

  • Wonder Bread (The nomination is in reach)
  • Just Plain Ol White Bread (Still in the race; has a shot)
  • Toast (Pretty much donea little scraping might make you look like bread, but you’re done)
  • Burnt Toast (Really, really done)
  • Burnt all the Way Through (Why are you still in the race?)
  • Crumbs in the Bottom of the Toaster (Why did you ever get in the race in the first place?)

    Potential Movements each Week:

  • Dough is on the Rise
  • Heats Off This Week
  • Got Scraped a Bit
  • Getting Darker

    As I try to work the kinks out of the Toast-O-Meter, I am going for a Friday release this week.

    It wasn’t a particualrly dramatic week on the campaign trail, but there was news aplenty, and much toasting going on.

    A couple of general campaign stories of note, in case you missed them:

  • The issue of campaign finance and matching funds continues to be an interesting story.
  • And I noted this week that a brokered Democratic convention was rather unlikely.
  • Info on the latest campaign contrinutions for all candidates can be found here.
  • Most of the candidates have decided to opt-out of the DC non-binding primary. It will basically be Dean v. Sharpton.
  • A WaPo story notes that the historical trends favor President Bush.


    Howard Dean: Wonder Bread (Dough on the Rise)

  • Dr. Dean decided to take Rep. Gephardt head on in Iowa. (I think Dean may end up besting Gephardt there).
  • The Good Doctor’s NH numbers continue to look very good.
  • Dean received an endorsement from Representative Sheila Jackson-Lee of Texas.

    Dick Gephardt: Plain Ol White Bread (Slight Rise of the Dough)

  • He got another key union endorsement.

    John Kerry: French Toast (Getting darker)

  • Senator Kerry this week vowed to “get focused”-raising the painful question of what he’s been the doing the last several months.
  • He impressed William Saletan, but perhaps no one else.

    Wesley Clark: Toast (Getting darker)

  • The General’s NH numbers continue to look very poor (unless 4% is good…).
  • Clark tried to reinvigorate his campaign, which is never a good thing to have to do when you only just started.
  • Although he has decided to hit the airwaves in NH.
  • He cried on 60 Minutes II
  • He made the rounds to Letterman and was annoyed by questions concerning remarks Gen, Shelton had made. And this kind of thing could get him into trouble:
    Earlier Thursday, at an appearance before the Council on Foreign Relations, Clark was also asked about the circumstances surrounding his departure from NATO. The question clearly rattled him, causing him to raise his voice and hint that Shelton should retract the remark.

    Joe Lieberman: Burnt Toast (Getting Darker)

  • Senator Lieberman seems to be wandering around looking for something to garner some attention. First it was attacking Dean about te Confederate flag flap, and now he is trying to criticize Dean (and Bush) in regards to business policy.

    John Edwards: Burnt all the Way Through (Getting Darkersoon to be crumbs)

  • His book came out.

    Dennis Kucinich: Crumbs at the bottom of the Toaster (banana bread)

  • It’s a good thing he is still running for re-election to the House.

    Al Sharpton: Crumbs at the Bottom of the Toaster (nut bread, of course)

  • Oops: last week I reported that Rev. Al was going to host SNL, but the real date is December 6th.

    Carol Moseley Braun: Crumbs at the Bottom of the Toaster

  • Patricia Ireland joins up.
  • Ms. Braun vows to stay until the end.

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    • Hellblazer linked with Latest Toast-o-meter up
    • BushBlog linked with Toast-O-Meter
    • Signifying Nothing linked with Of toast and crystal balls
    • Matthew J. Stinson | weblog linked with Let there be toast(s)
    • linked with Lazily Linking
    Arrests Made in Turkey

    By Steven Taylor @ 6:23 am

    Turkey Makes Arrests in Suicide Bombings

    Turkish investigators on Friday arrested suspects in the deadly suicide bombings on the British consulate and a London-based bank that have been blamed on al-Qaida. Foreign governments, meanwhile, warned more terrorist attacks could target Turkey.


    Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul confirmed the arrests but would not give details or say how the suspects were linked to Thursday’s blasts. The attacks came five days after suicide bombers hit two synagogues in Istanbul.

    Filed under: War on Terror | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
    GOP Enters the Fray

    By Steven Taylor @ 6:18 am

    G.O.P. to Run an Ad for Bush on Terror Issue

    After months of sustained attacks against President Bush in Democratic primary debates and commercials, the Republican Party is responding this week with its first advertisement of the presidential race, portraying Mr. Bush as fighting terrorism while his potential challengers try to undermine him with their sniping.

    The new commercial gives the first hint of the themes Mr. Bush’s campaign is likely to press in its early days.

    No shock there. It will be interesting to see how the polling starts to evolve once both sides are in full campaign mode.

    Filed under: 2004 Campaign | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
    Thursday, November 20, 2003
    Darwin Award Nominee?

    By Steven Taylor @ 4:28 pm

    Police: Man Chokes, Dies Trying To Hide Bag Of Pot

    Hat tip: Drudge

    Filed under: War on Drugs | Comments(4) | Trackbacks (0)
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    Dibs’ Divorce

    By Steven Taylor @ 4:10 pm

    Can anyone explain to me why I am getting a ton of hits all of a sudden from people looking for info via Google, Yahoo and so forth on Ron Dibble’s (former MLB pitcher for the Reds and now on ESPN radio) divorce? I mentioned Dibble in post on the Sosa bat corking incident, and Lance Armstrong’s divorce in another post, hence the hits (I have never blogged on Dibble’s divorce itself, until now). However, aside from hearing him refer to it on the air briefly, I know nothing about it.

    So, why all the interest all of a sudden?

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    Interesting: Martinez Considering

    By Steven Taylor @ 3:44 pm

    Yahoo! News - HUD Secretary Martinez May Run for Senate

    HUD Secretary Mel Martinez, who ruled out a Senate race last June, is reconsidering in the wake of a fresh appeal from the White House and intends to announce his plans shortly, Republican officials said Wednesday night.


    Martinez, the Cuban-born former chief executive of Orange County, could not be reached for comment. He announced last summer he would remain in Bush’s Cabinet through the 2004 election.

    But Democratic Sen. Bob Graham’s recent announcement that he will retire changed the complexion of the race. Now, rather than offering an opportunity to oppose a highly popular incumbent, the GOP nomination has become the ticket to a race for an open seat.

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    Happy Birthday to Marstonalia

    By Steven Taylor @ 3:43 pm

    Bret Marston’ blog, Marstonalia is a year old today.


    Hat tip: OTB.

    Filed under: Blogging | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
    Gephardt Gains Another Union Endorsement

    By Steven Taylor @ 2:59 pm

    Some good news for Gephardt: Gephardt Wins Endorsement of 21st Union

    The Transport Workers Union of America, which represents about 125,000 workers, said it is supporting the Missouri congressman because of the loyalty he has shown to the labor movement during nearly three decades in Congress.

    The union, which represents workers in the mass transit, airline, railroad and utility industries, has about 9,000 members in Oklahoma more than any other union and 5,000 members in Arizona. Both states are among those holding primaries Feb. 3.

    There is a significant split in union ranks between Dean and Gephardt, but Gephardt wins at 5 million mebers v. 3.1 million members for Dean:

    While Gephardt’s union support represents more than 5 million members, two of the largest and most influential labor organizations the 1.5 million-member American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and the 1.6 million-member Service Employees International Union have backed rival Howard Dean

    Hence, Gephardt remains untoasted thus far, and indeed continues to appear to be Dean’s only serious challenger.

    Filed under: 2004 Campaign | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
    The Money Race

    By Steven Taylor @ 2:48 pm

    Speaking of Admiral Quixote’s Roundtable, he has a nifty graphic on his site showing the breakdown of campaign money raised by all the candidates, including the President.

    He also provides this useful link with the actual numbers.

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    By Steven Taylor @ 2:25 pm

    Thanks to Admiral Quixote’s Roundtable for adding PoliBlog to his Domestic Politics permalinks.

    Filed under: Blogging | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
    Fun With Third Parties?

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:42 am

    Constitution Party eager to get Moore as presidential candidate

    The Constitution Party is ready if ousted Chief Justice Roy Moore decides to leave the GOP and run for president.

    The party’s chairman on Wednesday said Moore has been approached about quitting the Republican Party in favor of the Constitution Party, a conservative Christian group that describes itself as the nation’s third-largest political party based on registration.

    Moore has publicly said he has no interest in seeking another office or switching parties. But the Constitution Party would welcome Moore if he changes his mind, said Jim Clymer, the national chair.


    Founded by its three-time presidential candidate Howard Phillips, the conservative party advocates limiting the powers of the federal government and “restoring the foundations of civil government back to the fundamental principles our country was founded upon,” according to its Web site.

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    • The World Around You linked with Moore Supporters File Lawsuit
    • Backcountry Conservative linked with Roy Moore Redux
    • War Liberal linked with Get Your Moore On (the ballot)
    • War Liberal linked with Get Your Moore On (the ballot)
    • Signifying Nothing linked with Less is Moore

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:20 am

    Moore’s name deleted from Ten Commandments resolution

    Alabama Baptists closed their annual convention Wednesday with a resolution endorsing the public display of the Ten Commandments while distancing the denomination from ousted Chief Justice Roy Moore.

    The resolution was rewritten to delete any reference to Moore after some Baptist leaders expressed concern that the denomination could be viewed as endorsing Moore’s defiance of a federal court order to remove his Ten Commandments monument from the state Judicial Building.

    It stands to reason that Baptists would support the public display of the Commandments. However, it is interesting to note that support for Moore is not as deep and monolithic as the former Chief Justice might like to think. Further, I think such a move does indicates some changes in this state, as a few decades back Moore would still be Chief Justice and there would be no interest in worrying about the defiance of a federal court.

    Of course, there are politics involved:

    Atmore attorney Robert Maxwell, a Republican contender for the Alabama Supreme Court in 1998, spurred the change when he told the 1,093 convention delegates that he was offended the resolution could give the perception that the denomination endorsed Moore’s refusal to obey the federal court order.

    However, even this move is intriguing, because it challenges the idea that Moore’s stance on the commandments automatically translates into political support by religious conservatives in Alabama. If it did one would find potential candidates trying to latch on to Moore’s positions, rather than seeking to create some distance.

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    • The World Around You linked with Moore Supporters File Lawsuit
    • Backcountry Conservative linked with Roy Moore Redux
    • Signifying Nothing linked with Less is Moore

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:12 am

    Bad Radar Prompts White House Evacuation

    Air Force fighter jets were scrambled and the White House was briefly evacuated on Thursday after birds or possibly disturbances in the atmosphere tripped radar that keeps watch on restricted air space around the complex.

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    Oh, The Irony

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:10 am

    A Hard Road for Democrats in a Day of No “Soft Money”

    Democrats provided most of the backing for last year’s campaign finance law, which bars national political parties from taking unlimited “soft money” checks, and their party was hardest hit when it took effect.

    Their Republican rivals have long been better at raising the smaller, limited “hard money” contributions favored by the law. Nine months into the first campaign under the new rules, national Democratic Party committees are being surpassed by Republicans, 2 to 1, in raising money.

    And this is denial:

    “This is not ironic,” Senator Russell D. Feingold of Wisconsin, chief Democratic sponsor of the bill, said. “This whole idea that Democrats backed the bill and then were disadvantaged, it’s just the opposite.”

    I still say that parties should be able to raise as much as they can, so long as the sources of funding are transparent.

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    A Shocking Programming Move!

    By Steven Taylor @ 6:58 am

    CBS Postpones Michael Jackson Special

    Filed under: Pop Culture | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
    Car Bombs in Northern Iraq

    By Steven Taylor @ 6:53 am

    Car Bombs Hit Iraq, at Least Six Dead

    A suicide car bomber killed at least four people in an attack near the offices of a leading Kurdish party in northern Iraq on Thursday, hours after two others were killed in a car bombing west of Baghdad.

    The attacks near the Kirkuk offices of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) - whose leader is currently head of Iraq’s U.S.-appointed Governing Council - and a U.S.-backed local council, appeared to be targeted against the U.S.-led occupation.

    And there were other attacks:

    The Ramadi strike was one of a string of attacks on targets linked to the U.S.-led occupation in the flashpoint town. A tribal leader known for cooperating with the Americans was killed and a police chief’s son was wounded in the space of a few hours, witnesses said.

    And the ability to do this kind of thing illustrates the evil of these people:

    In Kerbala, a Shi’ite city south of Baghdad, a bomb exploded in a primary school on Wednesday afternoon, killing at least two schoolboys and wounding several others, witnesses and a local doctor said. Pools of blood smeared the classroom floor.

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    A Major Attack in Turkey

    By Steven Taylor @ 6:40 am

    Clearly, Turkey has become a front in the war on terror: 25 Killed in Explosions in Istanbul

    Explosions hit the high-rise headquarters of the London-based HSBC bank and the British consulate on Thursday, killing at least 25 people and wounding nearly 400, health officials said.

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    Wednesday, November 19, 2003
    Japan, their Military and Iraq

    By Steven Taylor @ 4:17 pm

    The NYT has a very interesting piece on Japan’s reluctance to commit troops, and how their willingness to send them to Iraq is something of a watershed: Letter From Asia: Japan Heads to Iraq, Haunted by Taboo Bred in Another War

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    • Matthew J. Stinson | weblog linked with 9/11 changed Japan also
    You Don’t Say?

    By Steven Taylor @ 3:56 pm

    Hezbollah TV Show Is Anti-Semitic

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    Hobbies Not to Have

    By Steven Taylor @ 1:08 pm

    Man Dies After Winning Vodka-Drinking Contest

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    Interesting: The Housing Boom Continues

    By Steven Taylor @ 1:07 pm

    Low Rates Boost Housing, Mortgage Demand

    The U.S. housing industry, a bulwark of the economic revival, is showing no sign of slowing down, reports showed on Wednesday, with demand for mortgages strong last week and construction near record levels in October.

    The Commerce Department said October housing starts jumped 2.9 percent to an annualized rate of 1.960 million units, a high not seen since January 1986. At the same time, permits to build homes rose 5.2 percent, to an annualized 1.973 million units, a pace not seen since February 1984.

    Filed under: The Economy | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
    Harris Continues to Ponder Senate Run

    By Steven Taylor @ 11:41 am

    I remain unconvinced that this is a good idea:

    Harris defends bid for Senate

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    • Backcountry Conservative linked with Katherine Harris for Senate?
    Evaluating NAFTA

    By Steven Taylor @ 6:42 am

    While I had a story a few weeks back praising NAFTA’s effects on Mexico, the NYT reports that a new Report Finds Few Benefits for Mexico in Nafta. Although it would appear that their conclusions aren’t radically different. The earlier report confirms a restructuring of the Mexican economy that it deemed to be positive while this latest report notes that there hasn’t been as much growth, especially in jobs, as was predicted.

    Of course, part of the issue is that there has been a negative effect on rural jobs:

    The Carnegie report argues that the growth in manufacturing resulting from the trade agreement was largely offset by lost employment among rural subsistence farmers, who were adversely affected by falling prices for their crops, especially corn a problem intensified by the Mexican government’s decision to lower tariff barriers to American-grown corn even more rapidly than the agreement required.

    I will be interested in reading the report. It would seem that even if job gains were minimal that a shift from agricultural to manufacturing jobs would be a good thing, long-term, for the Mexican economy and for the workers in question.

    Another negative effect cited was the shift to larger-scale farming oriented toward exports. While this is no doubt causing short-term displacement, I would think that over the long-haul that would be a good thing as well.

    Such are my cursory conclusions from reading a news summary of a no doubt lengthy report.

    Filed under: Latin America | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
    Tuesday, November 18, 2003
    Dubya Abroad

    By Steven Taylor @ 4:11 pm

    Ok, the tone is a bit, shall we say, insulting, but some of it is amusing: THE IDIOT’S GUIDE TO GREAT BRITAIN.

    My favs:

    2, OUR Sovereign is Queen Elizabeth II (that’s pronounced second not eleven).

    3, HER eldest son is called Prince Charles not “Chuck". Don’t talk to him about butlers, valets or ask him if he’s seen any good videos.

    10, WE put milk in our tea, not ice, have toast not waffles for breakfast and walk on the pavement not the sidewalk.

    Filed under: Global Politics | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)

    By Steven Taylor @ 3:34 pm

    This could be really good, or really bad:Steve Martin Pair Up for ‘Pink Panther’ Movie

    Steve Martin (news) has decided to follow in the pratfall-prone steps of Peter Sellers (news) and play bumbling French police inspector Jacques Clouseau in a new “Pink Panther” movie, an MGM studio spokesman said on Monday.

    “That was a priceless Steinway!”

    “Not anymore…”

    (either you know it, or you don’t…)

    Filed under: Pop Culture | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
    Is the Man Insane?

    By Steven Taylor @ 3:06 pm

    I can understand not liking Bush, I can even understand deep anger at his policy positions, but this? Livingstone says Bush is ‘greatest threat to life on planet’

    Ken Livingstone, the Mayor of London, launched a stinging attack on President George Bush last night, denouncing him as the “greatest threat to life on this planet that we’ve most probably ever seen".

    Filed under: Global Politics | Comments(2) | Trackbacks (0)
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    And Your Gov for Free

    By Steven Taylor @ 3:02 pm

    Arnie is going to refuse his salary and work for free, according to a news report.

    I hope he can afford it.

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    Too Bad Dallas Lost…

    By Steven Taylor @ 2:02 pm

    Pretty amazing:

    The New England Patriots’ 12-0 victory over the Dallas Cowboys was the most watched cable television program in eight years and the fifth-largest audience in the history of cable television.

    Source: Yahoo! Sports

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    • Tiger: Raggin’ & Rantin’ linked with Well, whatta ya know!
    Kerry’s “Real Deal”

    By Steven Taylor @ 11:15 am

    William Saletan has nice things to say about Kerry’s performance this weekend in Iowa.

    Saturday night, he unveiled that theme, and you know what? It’s terrific. On a series of issues, Kerry contrasted President Bush’s promises with what Bush has delivered, leading the crowd in a refrain against each “raw deal.” With a nod to FDR, Kerry promised a “real deal, where we stand up and fight for working people-where we make our economy an economy that’s based on people and products."‘

    The word “real” was explicitly aimed at Bush, whom Kerry accused of playing “dress-up” in his famous celebration of victory in Iraq. “I know something about aircraft carriers for real,” said Kerry. “If George Bush wants to make national security the issue of this campaign, then I have three words for him that I know he understands: Bring it on!”

    First off, the “bring it on” line is good rhetoric, and the “real” aircraft carrier line will play with the base (although I think in the harsh anti-Bush rhetoric, Dean still wins). However, one wonders if this is too little too late. Evidence: how much did you hear or read about Kerry’s “Real Deal"? This is first reference I have seen. Instead all the papers are talking about how hot Dean is. Plus. when you are constantly re-inventing yourself/trying to find your “true” voice, people stop paying attention after a while.

    And an aside: could politicians come up a different rhetorical device than some sort of “Deal” and further, could they stop calling whatever the sitting President is doing a “Raw Deal"?

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    Dean Guns for Iowa

    By Steven Taylor @ 7:56 am

    Interesting: Dean Takes on Rival Gephardt One on One

    Howard Dean, the former governor of Vermont, started a tough advertising campaign against Representative Richard A. Gephardt in Iowa on Monday that highlights Mr. Gephardt’s role in drafting a resolution on a war in Iraq.

    The commercial goes to the heart of what Mr. Gephardt’s own advisers say is his biggest vulnerability in a state he won in his 1988 presidential bid: the role he played in delivering the resolution for the White House.

    With his anti-Bush, anti-Iraq War message and his endorsements from some key public services unions, I think that Dean has a real shot at winning Iowa. If he does, and then bests Kerry as expected in NH, he will have some serious momentum.

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    • The American Mind linked with Southern Dem Primaries
    Monday, November 17, 2003
    Prather for Bush

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:58 pm

    Robert Prather has an interesting essay on why he will vote for Dubya in 2004. It is worth a read.

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    Clark: Getting Toastier

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:48 pm

    When there are headlines like this: Clark Launches Push to Reinvigorate W.House Bid a mere two months into your campaign, it probably means things aren’t going too well. For certain the Clark campaign hasn’t rocketed to the front of the class the way many thought it was going to do early on.

    The retired general who entered the White House race two months ago with a gold-plated resume, the blessing of the Democratic establishment and the aura of political prodigy, lost much of that luster with stumbles on message and management.


    Apparently he is hoping for a good showing in NH to lre-ignite (or is it just ignite?) his campaign. Considering he is in the single digits right now, he had better air some impressive commmercials in the next two months.

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    Speech, Money and Campaign Finance Rules

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:05 pm

    In answer to a question that Eric W asked in this post, I bring you an oldie from the PoliBlog archives:

    In the case of Buckley v. Valeo, 424 US 1 (1976), the Court wrote:
    A restriction on the amount of money a person or group can spend on political communication during a campaign necessarily reduces the quantity of expression by restricting the number of issues discussed, the depth of their exploration, and the size of the audience reached. This is because virtually every means of communicating ideas in today’s mass society requires the expenditure of money (I-A).

    The case of Colorado Republican Federal Campaign Committee, et al. v. Federal Election Commission 518 U.S. 604 (1996) further extended that idea to include what came to be known as soft money.

    Indeed, I have argued that unless the Court reverses itself on the logic quoted above, that there is no way that Congress can regulate soft money donations and expenditures. Of course, I argue as a political scientist, and not as an attorney.

    The only limitation that the Court has consistently upheld have been limiting the amount of money given to candidates.

    The current case before the Supremes has to do with the Bipartisan Campaign Finance Reform Act of 2002 (BCRA) and will end up defining what can and cannot be done with “soft money” (i.e., money to parties and interest groups). The Court has an info page here.

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    In Case You Were Wondering

    By Steven Taylor @ 3:17 pm

    Bush Says U.S. Forces Won’t Leave Iraq

    President Bush said Monday the United States will not pull out of Iraq when a provisional government is established by July 1.

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    Bizarre Headline of the Day

    By Steven Taylor @ 2:36 pm

    Rat Poison: Murder Weapon of Choice in Rural China

    Filed under: Not politics | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
    Dean as Frontrunner and Me

    By Steven Taylor @ 1:27 pm

    It was asked in the comment section of this post when I first though Dean would be the nominee. I have become less equivocal on the subject in recent weeks, but declared him the front-runner as early as August 5th.

    Braun, Sharpton and Kucinich never had a shot, Kerry has been a train wreck of a campaigner and I have been upfront from the beginning that I didn’t think that Clark had a chance. Lieberman is too pro-war and too conservative for the democratic nominating public. Edwards is too much a rookie, and really lacks a strong base to build off of. That leave Gephardt, who has an outside shot, but I think that Dean is best positioned to win it all.

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    A-Rod’s the AL MVP

    By Steven Taylor @ 1:15 pm

    Rangers’ Rodriguez wins first MVP award

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    Kerry: The Toast is Getting Darker

    By Steven Taylor @ 1:08 pm

    Frist, I am not the only one who sees a Dean nomination, Time asks: Can Anyone Catch Dean?

    And in re: Kerry:

    Kerry’s fund raisers are telling him it’s getting next to impossible to find anyone willing to write a check to his campaign. Last week the Senator fired campaign manager Jim Jordan, announced he’s following Dean’s lead in opting out of spending limits for his campaign and vowed “to get really real and focused.” That declaration, of course, only raised the discomfiting question of what he’s been doing until now.

    No joke.

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    Not Good

    By Steven Taylor @ 12:39 pm

    U.S. Soldiers Kill Three Shopping Iraqis

    A U.S. patrol opened fire Monday on a group of people in Baghdad’s gun market, killing three, after the soldiers apparently mistook the gunfire of customers testing weapons for an attack, a witness and an Iraqi police officer said.

    Four people also were wounded, hospital and police officials said. The dead included an 11-year-old boy.

    Filed under: Iraq | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (1)
    • The World Around You linked with Military Manslaughter
    Rattled Markets

    By Steven Taylor @ 12:38 pm

    Following Asian and European markets, the DOW is down quite a bit today (130ish points as of this post). Concerns about terrorism and overvalued stocks seem to be the cause.

    Filed under: The Economy | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
    Dean Continues to Surge in NH; Clark Sputters

    By Steven Taylor @ 12:13 pm

    Poll: Dean continues solid lead over Kerry in New Hampshire

    More evidence that Dean is Wonder Bread:

    Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean continues to hold a double-digit lead over Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts among people looking to vote in New Hampshire’s Democratic presidential primary while Wesley Clark’s support has slipped, a poll reported Monday. The latest poll from Marist College’s Institute for Public Opinion found Dean favored by 39 percent of Democrats and independents planning to vote in the Granite State’s first-in-the-nation primary. Kerry had support from 23 percent of those polled. The other contenders were all in single digits and 14 percent of the potential voters were undecided.

    And that Clark isn’t:

    In a September poll from the Poughkeepsie, N.Y.-based pollsters, Dean led Kerry, 35 percent to 22 percent, with Clark at 11 percent. In the new poll, the former general’s support had dropped to 4 percent.

    “His campaign is sputtering at this point,” said Marist director Lee Miringoff when asked about Clark.

    “This has become a two-person race in New Hampshire, subject to what happens in Iowa and in New Hampshire between now and the primary,” Miringoff added.

    Hat tip: Dean’s Official Blog (Blog for America)

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    • The American Mind linked with Dean's N.H. Support Grows
    Blogrolling Along

    By Steven Taylor @ 11:51 am

    As you may have noticed, the Blogroll is back. Meryl Yourish notes that Laura had nothing to do with her site being the sole Blogrollee in the Blogosphere.

    (Hat Tip: James of OTB).

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    • Backcountry Conservative linked with Post-Mortem of Blogrolling Hack
    Will on Matching Funds

    By Steven Taylor @ 11:45 am

    George Will had a great column last week on Dean’s decision to opt-out of matching funds. (I had missed it until I noticed a post on it at Occam’s Tootbrush). Will is, of course, an opponent of campaign finance regulations for the same reasons that I am: contributing money is ultimately a democratic act, and it promotes speech. Further, the argument that such rules “keep money out of politics” is facile-money is inherently part of political activity.

    Says Will on the basic decision by Dean:

    He will rely on the voluntary contributions of people who agree with him. What a concept.


    Further, the bottom line of contributions is that people contribute because they like you, they don’t like you because you have money (we all remember Presidents Perot and Forbes, right?):

    Dean is redundant proof of what opponents of campaign finance limits have always argued: Money validates strength more than it creates strength. That is, Dean is not attracting supporters because he has money, he is attracting money because he has supporters.

    And, in regards to speech, Will correctly notes that Dean puts to rest the argument that money isn’t speech by the very logic of his actions:

    So now he says that unless he abandons public financing, his money will be gone when the primaries are over. Then Bush could spend to speak to the nation all summer, while he, Dean, would fall silent until after the Democratic convention, when he would get a fresh infusion of public money.
    But notice that Dean’s argument concedes what campaign finance regulators deny - that money is tantamount to speech, and therefore limits on political money limit political speech.

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    By Steven Taylor @ 10:03 am

    My blogroll is current down (along with everyone else’s) James of OTB explains why.

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    • Backcountry Conservative linked with Post-Mortem of Blogrolling Hack

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:51 am

    U.S. talks Korea strategy shift - Nov. 17, 2003

    The United States is to move its forces back from the highly-fortified Demiltarized Zone dividing South and North Korea, U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has said.


    The relocation would form part of a sweeping reorganization of U.S. troops across Asia.


    “(The troop movements) will reflect our new technologies and abilities to deter and defeat any aggressions against allies such as South Korea,” he said.

    Filed under: Global Politics | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
    Where Will They Hide it Next?

    By Steven Taylor @ 6:48 am

    Police discover heroin destined for Miami at Bogota airport

    Authorities discovered 45 pounds of heroin hidden in wheelchairs and computer hard drives at Bogota’s international airport, police said Sunday.

    The heroin, estimated to have a street value of $1.26 million in the United States

    Filed under: War on Drugs | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
    Sunday, November 16, 2003
    Brokered Convention?

    By Steven Taylor @ 3:37 pm

    JC of Hellblazer predicts a brokered convention for the Dems in 2004. As exciting as that would be (and the media would be apoplectic with joy), it simply isn’t going to happen.

    For one thing, I think that the following scenario will unfold: the first several contests will give some of the toast-ier candidates some hope (which will be false) and momentum will begin to build behind Dean, who, by mid-March, will be the clear winner (mayber even by March 2).

    For another, the Democratic Party has a system (via the “Super-Delegate” system), where 40% of the delegates to the convention are party elites, meaning that unless there is a radical schism in both the primary electorate and the party elite, then a brokered convention is highly, highly unlikely.

    To have a brokered convention you would have to have substantial and deep division in the party along regional lines. I don’t see any signs that that will happen.

    Here’s some info on the Super-Delegates:

    The Democratic super-delegates are the partys elected elite: all 278 Democratic governors and members of Congress, as well as distinguished party leaders such as former President Clinton, former Vice President Al Gore, and former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell.

    The super-delegates also include party operatives such as the chairmen of each state party and the heads of groups such as the National Conference of Democratic Mayors.

    Also given super status are the 425 members of the Democratic National Committee. DNC members are allotted on the basis of the population of each state and its Democratic vote in presidential elections.

    Indeed, part of the rationale of this system is to radically decrease the the chances of any convention dramatics.

    In the article linked above, PoliSci Prof. Larry Sabato does argue that the Dems could use the power of Super-Delegates to block Dean, if they think that he is anothr McGovern. I don’t see that happening either.

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    • Signifying Nothing linked with Broker THIS!
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    • Matthew J. Stinson | weblog linked with Blogging bullets
    • RantWorld linked with Divisive Demos Might Hand It to Bush
    All Cultures Are Equally Valid…

    By Steven Taylor @ 3:16 pm

    Palestinian woman kills daughter to restore family’s `honor’

    Rofayda Qaoud - raped by her brothers and impregnated - refused to commit suicide, her mother recalls, even after she bought the unwed teenager a razor with which to slit her wrists. So Amira Abu Hanhan Qaoud says she did what she believes any good Palestinian parent would: restored her family’s “honor” through murder.

    Armed with a plastic bag, razor and wooden stick, Qaoud entered her sleeping daughter’s room last Jan. 27. “Tonight you die, Rofayda,” she told the girl, before wrapping the bag tightly around her head. Next, Qaoud sliced Rofayda’s wrists, ignoring her muffled pleas of “No, mother, no!” After her daughter went limp, Qaoud struck her in the head with the stick.

    Killing her sixth-born child took 20 minutes

    Thankfully, she was charged with a crime

    Qaoud’s confessed crime, for which she must appear before a three-judge panel on Dec. 3

    but, such crime are

    repeated almost weekly among Palestinians living in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and Israel. Female virtue and virginity define a family’s reputation in Arab cultures, so it’s women who are punished if that reputation is perceived as sullied.

    Victims’ rights groups say the number of “honor crimes” appears to be climbing, but at the same time, getting little attention.


    Police in Israel investigated at least 18 honor killings in the past three years.

    Palestinian police reported 31 cases in 2002 - up from five during the first half of 1999 - the last time such incidents were counted before the current Palestinian uprising began, according to the center’s study.

    But the number of killings is likely higher, given that Palestinian police investigate only crimes that have been reported, said Yousef Tarifi, the Ramallah prosecutor assigned to Qaoud’s case. Shalhoub-Kevorkian says her past research showed the likely number to be 15 times higher than the number of reported cases.


    While honor killings committed in the heat of the moment - for example, by a husband who catches his wife in bed with another man - generally carry a six-month to one-year jail term, Qaoud will likely be sentenced to three to five years in prison, Tarifi says. The fact she is a mother who was trying to protect her family’s honor mitigates the crime of premeditated murder, which is punishable by death under Palestinian law, he adds.

    Remarkable. And tragic.

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    • Tiger: Raggin’ & Rantin’ linked with unspeakable horrors exist elsewhere
    Primary Polling

    By Steven Taylor @ 2:36 pm

    If you haven’t seen Dave Wissing’sTHR Poll Watch on the state-by-state numbers for the Democratic Primary, you should give it a looksee. Good stuff.

    Great work, Dave!

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    Clark to Hit the Airwaves in NH

    By Steven Taylor @ 11:30 am

    While I will grant that there are still two and half months before the primary, isn’t this a bit late to be getting started? Clark to Launch Media Blitz in New Hampshire

    After weeks of internal chaos, personnel battles and an uneven performance by the candidate himself, Wesley K. Clark’s presidential campaign will attempt to regain momentum this week with a massive media buy in New Hampshire and by highlighting its ability to raise money at the rate of about $800,000 a week.

    As I pointed out before, if part of what you are running on is that Bush should have planned better in Iraq, and that you are the man to be better about such things, what’s the message that is sent that it took so long to really get started in NH?

    And no joke:

    While acknowledging that they failed to capitalize on the expectations for Clark when he entered the race for the Democratic nomination in September, campaign officials cite the retired general’s fundraising success as evidence that he is attracting significant support eight weeks before he faces voters for the first time. They expect the campaign to raise at least $12 million this quarter, in all likelihood more than any other candidate except Howard Dean.

    The fundraising is the only thing that keeps him going, but it is a signal of the fact that many donors aren’t sold on Dean and are desperate to find an alternative to Bush. It isn’t a signal, in my opinion, of a great deal of confidence in Clark, per se, but rather he is the best of the rest in some Democrats’ minds.

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    The Democrats Score One

    By Steven Taylor @ 11:10 am

    As you all no doubt know, the the votes are in and Kathleen Blanco (D) won the governor’s race in LA yesterday (52-48). This entire story has been quite reminiscent of the 2002 senate contest where the Democrat, Mary Landrieu bested the Republican Suzanne Terrell 52-48 in a run-off a month after the general election (due to the screwy rules in Louisiana). In both cases there had been a series of Republican successes leading up to the LA election, with Reps hoping for LA to be a confirmation of their driving power and Dems hoping it would prove that there was no Rep tide.

    On balance this election will give McAuliffe and the DNC some solace, and many will argue that it shows that there is hope for Democrats in the south going into 2004. Two responses: Lousiana is its own place and hardly emblematic of the South, per se. And as I keep pointing out: you can’t derive a pattern from one example.

    An interesting side-note: Jon Breaux, the moderate Dem Senator from LA had made noise he might retire if a Dem won the governorship in this election.

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    Saturday, November 15, 2003
    Snubbing DC

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:33 pm

    Interesting: Five Democrats Pull Out of D.C. Primary:

    Joe Lieberman, John Edwards, John Kerry, Dick Gephardt and Wesley Clark each delivered letters on Thursday stating their intention to withdraw from the Jan. 13 contest, Board of Elections spokesman Bill O’Field said.

    Of course, since the the DC Primary is a “beauty contest” in which no delegate are selected, it is no big deal. Mostly it is amusing as it takes a lot of the air out of DC’s attempt at a PR move.

    The election was moved from its traditional spot later in the primary season to call attention to the city’s lack of voting rights in Congress. The city has one nonvoting delegate in the House and no representation in the Senate. The vote was also considered a key test of support among black voters.

    Of course, it does leave Dean a potential mini-media boomlet, as I guess he will win it now for sure.

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    Happy Anniversary

    By Steven Taylor @ 4:26 pm

    Signifying Nothing has been bloggin’ for an entire year.

    Congrats to Chris.

    Hat tip: OTB.

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    Toast-o-Meter (11/15 Edition)

    By Steven Taylor @ 11:27 am

    The Toast-o-meter: Handicapping the Race for the Democratic Nomination.

    The scale:

  • Wonder Bread (The nomination is in reach)
  • Just Plain Ol White Bread (Still in the race; has a shot)
  • Toast (Pretty much donea little scraping might make you look like bread, but you’re done)
  • Burnt Toast (Really, really done)
  • Burnt all the Way Through (Why are you still in the race?)
  • Crumbs in the Bottom of the Toaster (Why did you ever get in the race in the first place?)

    Potential Movements each Week:

  • Dough is on the Rise
  • Heats Off This Week
  • Got Scraped a Bit
  • Getting Darker

    Howard Dean: Wonder Bread (Dough on the Rise)

    People Powered Howard had a decent week:

  • The NH numbers continue to be good.
  • AFSCME and SEIU made it official and endorsed Dean this past week.
    AFSCME’s endorsement was particularly vexing for Dick Gephardt, John Kerry and Wesley Clark all of whom had at one point thought they had the nod in hand.

    Gephardt even skipped a nationally televised debate last week to meet with AFSCME leaders in Iowa. The Missouri congressman and former House minority leader who has carried labor’s banner in Congress has the backing of 20 unions, but AFSCME and SEIU were two of the most coveted prizes.

    Dick Gephardt: Plain Ol White Bread (Heats Off)

  • He got a boost from Iowa labor.

    John Kerry: French Toast (Getting darker)

  • Opting out of matching funds just means wasting the ketchup money.
  • Riding motorcycles on Leno aint gonna cut it (He aint Clinton on Arsenio, and he sure aint Schwarzenegger).
  • The NH numbers continue to be bad.

    Wesley Clark: Toast (Getting darker)

  • The anti-flag burning amendment wont endear him to the left.
  • Risking the ire of New Hampshire voters ain’t smart.
  • Negative pieces in the New Yorker ain’t helpful either:
    It quickly became apparent, however, that Clark, in terms of his oratorical prowess or personal magnetism, was not a natural at all. He required heavy handling on the campaign trail, where, as a political novice, he was prone to gaffes, such as his opening-week assertion that he probably would have voted for the congressional resolution authorizing the war in Iraq. One of his press representatives described the misstep as devastating, a huge mistake; the mood among Democratic activists is unambiguously antiwar, and Clarks subsequent attempts to amend his position have made him seem confused on the subject. (He eventually declared that he didnt know the full content of the resolution.)

    I told that Clarkies that once he opened his mouth his numbers would go down, but they didn’t believe me. (Anyone still care to explain to me why the Bushies are so afraid of Clark?).

    Joe Lieberman: Burnt Toast (and Getting Darker)

  • Attacks Dean, keeps flag flap alive.

    John Edwards: Burnt all the Way Through (Getting Darkersoon to be crumbs)

  • Is this where hes from?
  • He is trying to stay positive, however.

    Dennis Kucinich: Crumbs at the bottom of the Toaster (banana bread)

  • Well, maybe his personal ad will work out.

    Al Sharpton: Crumbs at the Bottom of the Toaster (nut bread, of course)

  • Will host SNL tonight.

    Carol Moseley Braun: Crumbs at the Bottom of the Toaster

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    • Matthew J. Stinson | weblog linked with In praise of H
    • Hellblazer linked with Toast o meter
    Dean Up in NH

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:53 am

    A new poll shows Dean’s lead widening in New Hamsphire: Poll: Dean Leads Pack In New Hampshire Race

    The telephone poll of 446 likely voters, conducted by WMUR-TV in Manchester, N.H., and the University of New Hampshire Survey Center, shows 38 percent of New Hampshire voters plan to choose Dean at the polls with less than three months to go before the Jan. 27 primary.

    Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry is second, with 16 percent of voters. Retired Gen. Wesley Clark and North Carolina Sen. John Edwards have 5 percent support, while Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman is fifth, with 4 percent.

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    Election Day in LA

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:39 am

    Don’t forget: Louisiana Governor’s Race to Make History

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    A Blog is Born

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:59 am

    Today is the nine month blogoversary of PoliBlog. So, having now completed the full gestational cycle, things ought to really get good now, right?

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    This Could Get Ugly

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:05 am

    President of Georgia Pleads for Calm as Protests Grow

    A postelection standoff erupted into turmoil in Georgia on Friday as thousands of antigovernment protesters filled the streets, surrounding the presidential compound as truckloads of soldiers stood by.

    President Eduard A. Shevardnadze addressed the nation on television, pleading for calm and warning that the protests could spark a civil war. He rebuffed calls for his resignation but said he was ready to talk with opposition leaders in this former Soviet republic.


    The demonstrations began as a protest against a manipulated parliamentary election on Nov. 2, which one diplomat called “a mess from start to finish.”

    The protests have swelled into a cry of anger over a decade of mismanagement during which Mr. Shevardnadze has let this small nation in the Caucasus slide into poverty, joblessness, corruption and a breakdown in services. Few of the former Soviet republics have plummeted farther and faster since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 than this ancient mountain land.

    And, of direct interest to the US:

    The United States is also spending about $64 million over four years to train 2,000 Georgian soldiers, primarily as a counterterrorism force, a military involvement that has made Moscow unhappy.

    Geographic location is one reason for America’s interest, at a strategic crossroads between Russia, the Black Sea and Turkey. Oil is another, with the planned opening in 2005 of a pivotal $3 billion pipeline from the Caspian fields of Azerbaijan across to the Mediterranean coast of Turkey.

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    Friday, November 14, 2003
    The Nine

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:29 pm

    Kos ranks the Nine (Hat Tip: Viking Pundit).

    Look for an update to the PoliBlog Toast-o-meter sometime tomorrow.

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    A Campaign Finance Shocker!

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:45 pm

    As predicted here last weekend: Kerry Joins Dean in Not Taking U.S. Public Funds. And the rationale is as expected:

    “Governor Dean changed the rules of the race and anyone with a real shot at the nomination is going to have to play by those rules,” Kerry said. “I am fortunate to be able to contribute some personal assets.”

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    Arnie Certified

    By Steven Taylor @ 3:39 pm

    Schwarzenegger certified as official winner of recall election

    Shelley’s report shows that 55.4 percent of voters said yes on the question of recalling Davis. Just over 48 percent of voters picked Schwarzenegger to replace him. Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante got 31.5 percent and state Sen. Tom McClintock, R-Northridge, 13.5 percent.

    The official vote totals show that 61 percent of the state’s 15.4 million registered voters cast ballots in the recall election. That’s more than any governor’s election since 1982, Shelley said.

    The number of votes cast Oct. 7 exceeded by 1.6 million the number of people who voted in the November 2002 general election, the secretary of state said.

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    You Don’t Say?

    By Steven Taylor @ 1:06 pm

    California GOP Wants Sen. Boxer Out

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    That’s a Great Idea

    By Steven Taylor @ 12:53 pm

    From Gephardt’s web site: Position Paper on an International Minimum Wage.

    Ok, setting aside the political difficulties of such a policy, let alone enforcement issues, the basic result would be to take away the comparative advantage of many developing countries. So, rather than creating a middle class in those places (as the position paper states that the IWM would do) it would mean less investment in those countries and less business in general, hence depressing those economies, not helping them. Further, it would drive up the cost of production of a good deal of the goods we buy in the US.

    So, this would be a good idea how?

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    Good News for Gephardt

    By Steven Taylor @ 12:47 pm

    Not as good as the national endorsement Dean recently received, but a boost for Gephardt in Iowa: Iowa UAW Endorses Gephardt

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    No Surprise: Cloture Denied

    By Steven Taylor @ 11:05 am

    Dems Succeed in Halting Action on Owen

    With a 53-42 vote, Democrats succeeded in stopping further action on President Bush’s nomination of Texas judge Priscilla Owen to a seat on a U.S. appeals court. Sixty votes were needed to end the filibuster and bring on a final confirmation vote.

    It was the fourth time Republicans have failed to advance the Owen nomination. Despite the nearly 40 hours of exhaustive debate on what the GOP says is Democratic obstructionism on judges, they failed to win a single new Democratic vote. As in past votes, only two Democrats, Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Zell Miller of Georgia, voted with the Republicans.

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    TMQ Returns!

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:14 am

    And here he is.

    Hat Tip: Sportsblog

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    Good Move

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:11 am

    MLB to Impose Steroid Penalties in 2004

    Starting next year, steroid users in baseball will be subject to suspensions or fines. Results of 2003’s anonymous tests were announced Thursday and they confirmed what many in baseball suspected: Some players were taking more than vitamins.(Really? -Ed.)

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    Not Good

    By Steven Taylor @ 6:53 am

    Colombia detains drug specialist

    One of Mexico’s leading specialists on drug trafficking was detained and interrogated by Colombian police last week while returning here from an academic conference in Bogota, the professor and diplomatic sources said.


    During a three-hour interrogation, the agents rifled through his luggage and wallet before confiscating a Colombian army report on the alleged links between the country’s most powerful guerrilla group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, and Mexican drug traffickers, he said.

    The agents claimed the document was classified. But Astorga said it had been given to him by a colleague at the congress on drug trafficking, sponsored by Colombia’s National Museum, and that it had already been widely circulated outside the country.


    But tensions remain. Astorga said the agents might have been trying to scare other academics away from probing too deeply into Colombia’s security problems, as the government struggles with a 40-year civil war.

    “It was carefully orchestrated theater, to create an impact,” he said, describing how the agents waited until the last moment to storm the plane and escort him off. “They treated me like a drug suspect.”

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    Thursday, November 13, 2003
    Is This a Good Idea?

    By Steven Taylor @ 3:14 pm

    Yankees name Strawberry player development instructor

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    By Steven Taylor @ 2:26 pm

    Thanks to Phillip Coons of Delusional Duck for blogrolling PoliBlog.

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    Moore Removed

    By Steven Taylor @ 12:47 pm

    While I expected this to happen, it is still something of a “wow": Alabama Chief Justice Removed From Office

    Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore was removed from office Thursday for refusing to obey a federal court order to move his Ten Commandments monument from the rotunda of the state courthouse.

    The state Court of the Judiciary unanimously imposed the harshest penalty possible after a one-day trial in which Moore said his refusal was a moral and lawful acknowledgment of God. Prosecutors said Moore’s defiance, left unchecked, would harm the judicial system.

    Here’s the situation on the rest of his term:

    Under Thursday’s decision, the governor will appoint someone to serve the rest of Moore’s term, which expires in 2006.

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    The Tactics of Terror

    By Steven Taylor @ 7:06 am

    This event: Death Toll Up to 31 in Italy Base Attack unfortunately shows that the terrorists in Iraq are quite smart. Attacking our allies in one of the more peaceful areas of the country, will out considerable pressure on anyone who is helping or thinking about helping.

    To wit:

    The suicide bombing in this relatively quiet Shiite Muslim city prompted Portugal to send 128 elite police officers originally slated for Nasiriyah to Basra instead. A Japanese government spokesman indicated Tokyo will likely postpone sending troops to Iraq until sometime next year.

    Filed under: Iraq | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
    Wednesday, November 12, 2003
    How About a Real Filibuster?

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:31 pm

    This: Angered by Democrats’ Filibusters on Nominees, Republicans Stage One, isn’t going to do anything, unless after the 30 hours is up Frist says: “Guess what, we ain’t done yet.” If the Democrats want to filibuster, let ‘em. And if the Republicans have the courage of their convictions and outrage, then they should hang until we see who blinks first.

    Personally at 35 the prospect of pulling an all-nighter makes me cringe (I like my sleep, such as I get), so one would think the 70 year-olds in the Senate would crumble at some point.

    Of course if the Reps really had cajones, they’d start a real filibuster the Monday of Thanskgiving week.

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    I’m OK, You’re OK, Right?

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:36 pm

    Just because two men fight, doesn’t mean that they are morally the same, as James of OTB and Matthew J. Stinson correctly note.

    The desire of some to see all combatants as the same is remarkable and causes more problems in the long run than misguided attempts at “fairness” and “tolerance” ever solve.

    Filed under: Iraq | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
    Sportsblog Facelift

    By Steven Taylor @ 2:24 pm

    Apparently between link-trolling via Paris Hilton, Kevin found the time to redesign SportsBlog (to which I am an occasional contributor).

    It looks great! Go give it a visit.

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    Happy Markets

    By Steven Taylor @ 2:11 pm

    The major markets are having a good day. As of 2:10pm central, both the Dow and NASDAQ are up considerably.

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    Rage is all the Rage

    By Steven Taylor @ 1:48 pm

    Apropos of the post below is Kristof’s column in today’s NYT. He argues that the left is far too vitriolic vis-a-vis Bush, and it is going to hurt them in the long run. I concur.

    The left should have learned from Newt Gingrich that rage impedes understanding-and turns off voters. That’s why President Bush was careful in 2000, unlike many in his party, to project amiability and optimism.

    Core Democratic voters are becoming so angry that some are hoping for bad economic figures and bad Iraq news just to hurt President Bush. At this rate, Democrats risk turning themselves into an American version of the old British Labor Party under Michael Foot, which reliably blasted the Tory government and reliably lost elections.

    However, as I alluded to below in the Edwards’ post, I don’t think that the Democratic base is going to learn that lesson this go ’round, which is why they will almost certainly nominate Dean, and why Bush will almost certainly be re-elected next year.

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    Edwards: Mr. Sunshine

    By Steven Taylor @ 1:26 pm

    In some ways, Edwards is right

    Democratic presidential contender John Edwards said yesterday that beneath their deep anger at President Bush, Democratic voters have a strong yearning for a positive message that the party’s eventual presidential nominee must convey to have any chance of defeating Bush next November.

    I think that to beat Bush the Democrats do need to find a positive message (something that has been sorely missing). However, to win the nomination it is vital that a candidate be able to tap into the anger. Howard Dean is the man to do that, not Edwards.

    So, continue to call Edwards charcoal on the Toast-o-meter.

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    Moore’s Hearing Today

    By Steven Taylor @ 12:51 pm

    Ten Commandments Monument Trial Begins

    It would take a unanimous vote to remove him from office halfway into his six-year term. He could also be reprimanded or suspended.

    Moore attorney Terry Butts said the verdict could come quickly.

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    More Fun at Camp Kerry

    By Steven Taylor @ 6:46 am

    Cold, dried up toast: Democrat Kerry Hit by Staff Defections

    Democratic presidential contender John Kerry’s stumbling campaign was hit by two staff resignations on Tuesday, one day after Kerry fired his campaign manager in hopes of shaking things up.

    Press Secretary Robert Gibbs and Deputy Finance Director Carl Chidlow resigned in protest of the firing, Kerry aides said, as staff members evaluated whether to continue with his struggling campaign.

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    Tuesday, November 11, 2003
    “Is He Drunk?

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:26 pm

    That was my wife’s question when I played here this.

    (Hat tip: Drudge)

    Filed under: 2004 Campaign | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:18 pm

    Thanks to Robin Jones for blogrolling PoliBlog.

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    A Good Toon

    By Steven Taylor @ 7:48 pm

    This one is for the theologically/philosophically/geekly inclined.

    And really, it is a good question. My short answer is: no.

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    More (Although Not All the Much) on Bremer’s Visit Home

    By Steven Taylor @ 1:13 pm

    Bremer Expected to Meet Soon at White House

    “When decisions need to be made, Bremer comes. Some decisions need to be made,” the official told Reuters.

    The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said there was no expectation Bremer would be leaving his post.


    The official who confirmed Bremer had arrived in Washington said it was presumed a White House meeting due to be held with Bremer on Tuesday would cover security and the political transition in Iraq.


    “He’s not coming back because of any emergency that I’m aware of. He returns periodically for normal consultations,” said spokesman Bryan Whitman.

    But other U.S. officials recently told Reuters there was growing friction between Bremer and Washington, particularly over Bremer’s resistance to accelerating the transfer of authority from the Americans to Iraqis.

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    Party of the Rich?

    By Steven Taylor @ 1:04 pm

    Mark the Pundit makes the following correct observation:

    The standard line is the Republican party represents “the rich.” If this is true, explain to me how the party of the rich totally dominates the area of the country considered the poorest.

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    Hook ‘Em

    By Steven Taylor @ 11:55 am

    BCS Talk Swirling for Texas Longhorns

    And I hope Brown stops the Mock-Young rotation entirely and goes all Young all the time (at least until the Horns are up so far that the game it utterly out of reach). Indeed, once Young improves in the passing game (and he has quite an arm-he just needs to learn his reads), he is going to be nigh unstoppable.

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    Funny How Things Work Out

    By Steven Taylor @ 11:50 am

    Kerry Uses Shots of Bush on Carrier in Ad

    Kerry is the first of the nine Democratic presidential candidates to try to turn the tables on Bush, showing the aircraft landing amid growing doubts about the Iraq war, the failed search for weapons of mass destruction and an increasing number of U.S. dead.

    Hmm, seems like the Dems were crying a river at the time about the abuse of the military by the President for political gain…

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    By Steven Taylor @ 11:00 am

    Iraq Governor Bremer Heads to U.S. at Short Notice

    (via Drudge)

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    The Point of Campaign Finance

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:34 am

    To answer Stephen Green’s question (which was: “Will someone please remind me again what the Campaign Finance Reform Act was supposed to accomplish?"), the real answer is: to symbolically do something to placate those who think that “special interests” control the government, and that “big money” is ruining politics.

    And, ironically, many Democrats who voted for it voted against their party’s interest, because the BCRA of 2002 put several limits on soft money, including banning it for parties. Guess which party has had a historical advantage in soft money? That’s right: the Democrats. Indeed, contrary to some of Stephen’s commentators, a lot of Republicans voted for the thing knowing the new rules would stick to to the Dems.

    But mostly, like all campaign finance reform (go back and look at the debate in the 70s over the Federal Election Campaign Act-which the BCRA amends and enhances), the main motivation was clearly for politicians to be able to say: “See! I am not beholden to special interests! I’m for the people! (ignoring, of course, that the people have interests and the even those pernicious “corporate interests” are made up of a bunch of, well, people.)

    (For an excellent example of that kind of rhetoric, albeit not at the federal level, go back to the Schwarzenegger campaign).

    Of course, the idea that one is going to “get money out of politics” is utterly absurd. When Congress spends approximately $2.4 trillion annually, can anyone be surprised that citizens want to spend money to affect who sits in Congress? Further, what’s wrong with that?

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    By Steven Taylor @ 10:09 am

    In reference to this InstaP has more and I’m with Glenn.

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    Honoring Veterans

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:01 am

    James of OTB has a list of blogging veterans who deserve tribute today.

    To that list I would add James Joyner his own bad self and Neal of Random Nuclear Strikes.

    Any others that we are missing?

    UPDATE: Backcountry Conservative has a round-up of Veteran’s Day posts as does Dean Esmay.

    Plus, it occurs to me that I should mention my Grandfather, Walter A. Kinney, who served in the South Pacific in WWII and my father, Roy L. Taylor, who was in the Air Force in the mid-to-late 1960s.

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    • Backcountry Conservative linked with Veterans Day
    Monday, November 10, 2003

    By Steven Taylor @ 4:11 pm

    It was well documented that during the ReCAL, I often noted that Gray Davis was toast. Ended up, I was correct (ah, the smell of being right!not that it was a hard call). Earlier today, I concluded that John Kerry also resembles the famous breakfast bread in question (and a hat tip to the Eric (a.k.a., the Mad Swede) for being the first to so note (at least to my knowledge). Since James of OTB seems to like the analogy enough to state that Kerry should just quit, I figured I should create the Toastometer to rate the other candidates. Are they toast yet? How burned?

    Ok, so we know that Kerry is toastindeed, he is buttered and ready to slide out of the game (even if he doesnt know it yet). How about the other Eight?

    Dean: At this point, he has lots of bread, but isnt toasty at all.

    Gephardt: he is in the toaster, but the heat hasnt been turned on yet. The recent Iowa numbers give him some solace, but the union endorsements of Dean lead one to believe that he will start to feel the heat soon. He is more or less dried out bread.

    Lieberman: quite toasty and getting darker by the second.

    Clark: not really toast, just playing one on TV. More like an over-baked muffin at this stage. (But he did decide to become bread back in September).

    Edwards: badly burnt toast. He may think that he can scrape the burnt part off in the SC primary, but if such solace is to be, it shant be enoughthis piece is burnt all the way through, and if he scrapes long enough will find that there isnt any there there.

    Kucinich: burnt toast with overly sweet syrup on it. (However, if we all get together and think about unburning the toast, no doubt that will make us all feel better).

    Sharpton: burnt nut bread.

    Braun: the crumbs in the bottom of the toaster.

    Bob Graham: Doesnt matter, hes out of the race. But he did have toast for breakfast, and dutifully noted the fact in his journal.

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    • Matthew J. Stinson | weblog linked with Toasty good time
    • Signifying Nothing linked with Lawrence gets results from OTB, VodkaPundit
    The Very Definition of “Nasty”

    By Steven Taylor @ 3:40 pm

    Women Sue After Finding Condom In Chowder

    (Hat tip: Drudge)

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    Hairy Spam

    By Steven Taylor @ 2:59 pm

    Has anybody else out there starting getting spam for a beard trimming device? It seems I get several of them a day with different tag lines. My favorite: “Are You Tired of Looking Like a Hairy Gorrilla?”

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    Democracy in Russia

    By Steven Taylor @ 2:28 pm

    Mark Kleiman is right: Russian “democracy” is hardly healthy. He is further correct that Bush is unlikely to say much about it. While I support the President’s goal of democracy in the Middle East, the Russian example (and others could easily be found) demonstrates the problems with idealism in foreign policy: it is almost impossible to be consistent. Further, national interest trumps the ideals in question.

    However, I don’t think that means that one abandons idealism entirely, it is just that it has to operate in a realistic framework. And there is no doubt that one of the best ways (longshot though it may be) to enhance US security in the long run is to foment democracy in the Middle East.

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    OTB Quotes the Good Doctor (Krauthammer, that is)

    By Steven Taylor @ 2:06 pm


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    Imagine That

    By Steven Taylor @ 1:26 pm

    Students aren’t using info technology responsibly

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    New and Improved!

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:45 am

    I meant to mention this the other day, but Insults Unpunished has moved to a new url. Please give it a look, and adjust your links as needed.

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    Kerry is Dole

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:32 am

    John Kerry is a Bob Dole for the Democrats: a long-serving Senator with a lengthy history of service and an impressive war record who wants to be President because, well, he wants to be president. His best argument for voting for him is “look at my resume"-which was essentially Dole’s “appeal” as well. The main difference between 1996 and 2004 is that unlike the Republican field in ‘96, there is a surprise challenger for the nomination, i.e., Howard Dean, who has prevented Kerry from riding his resume to early primary success.

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    Re-Launch, Take Two

    By Steven Taylor @ 6:46 am

    Won’t this mark the second time that Kerry has had to re-make his campaign, and it isn’t even primary season yet?

    Kerry Fires Campaign Manager

    Democratic candidate John Kerry fired his campaign manager Sunday night in an attempt shake up his beleaguered presidential bid, The Associated Press learned.

    The man is Davis-like, i.e., toast.

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    Sunday, November 9, 2003
    Interesting: New Iowa Numbers

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:23 pm

    Gephardt inches ahead in Iowa

    The Iowa Poll, taken last week, shows Gephardt is the first choice of 27 percent of Iowans who say they definitely or probably will attend the precinct caucuses. Dean is the favorite of 20 percent. That’s a gain of 6 percentage points for Gephardt and a 3-point drop for Dean since late July, when the last Iowa Poll on the race was taken.

    In my mind Dean is the clear front-runner in the “it’s his to lose” kind of way. However, of the other candidates, Gephardt may be the one who can give him the most fight.

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    Can Anyone Doubt that this is a War?

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:21 am

    After the Riyahd bombing last night, can anyone doubt that al Qaeda and their ilk have clearly declared war on anyone and eveyone who doesn’t wholly agree with their worldview.

    In their desire to drive all Western influence out of the Arabian peninsula, the militants are believed to include as targets any Arabs and Muslims who maintain the same kind of relaxed ways of life as their Western counterparts behind the high walls of such compounds.

    Of course, this isn’t the first piece of evidence to confirm this thesis. Nonetheless there are many who seem to think that if the US could simply obtain more support in the Arab/Muslim world that we would placate the jihadists. This is clearly not the case.

    One can further extrapolate from this event to point out the folly of to those (such as John Edwards today on MTP) who argue that if we could just put an “international face” on the occupation forces in Iraq, that the attacks who diminish, or who states that the silver bullet to stop the violence is the imprimatur of the UN. One would hope such foolish pontificating wil cease and more serious policy ideas would be debated.

    And, I would note, that while it is true that terrorism is like crime insofar as we will never eliminate it, I do not think that a criminal justice paradigm is the appropriate approach to solving the problem (as, I would argue, the Clinton administration’s policies demonstrate). Rather, the war paradigm, combined with law enforcement tools, is the appropriate means of dealing with this difficult, messy and dangerous problem.

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    • Matthew J. Stinson | weblog linked with Arab terrorists, Arab victims
    Saturday, November 8, 2003
    Kerry’s Reaction

    By Steven Taylor @ 1:47 pm

    And,m as expected, Kerry is criticizing Dean for the move. Of course, in the next act, Kerry will say that he has no choice now but to do the same and bust the caps himself.

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    Dean Eschews Matching Funds

    By Steven Taylor @ 1:44 pm

    As I stated earlier today, this: Howard Dean to Reject Public Financing is the right move for Dean.

    However, I take exception to this very hypocritical rationalization:

    “We have supported public financing, but the unabashed actions of this president to undercut our Democratic process with floods of special interest money have forced us to abandon a broken system,” the former Vermont governor said at a news conference.

    For one thing, Bush has raised a lot of his money in individual contributions, like Dean, and even if he hadn’t, groups are limited to $5k, so it isn’t like, as suggested, interest groups are “flooding” the campaign (it takes a lot of $2k and $5k contributions to reach $100 million). For another, one man’s “special” interest is another’s “vital” interest (in other words, an interest is only “special” if it isn’t mine).

    And the bottom line is that both gentlemen are raising money for the exact same reason: they both think that they should be President, as do all the people who gave the money. It isn’t complicated, and it is democratic to the core.

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    • Insults Unpunished linked with Dean To Forego Public Funding
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    Harris for Senate?

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:12 am

    I think that Larry Sabato’s assessment of this possibility: Katherine Harris to Decide on Senate Bid is correct:

    “She would be the answer to the Democratic Party’s prayers as a general election candidate,” Sabato said. “Katherine Harris still suffers among Democrats and some independents for her actions of 2000.”

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    Esmay on Casualty Reports

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:01 am

    Dean Esmay has an excellent post on how to assess the casualty reports that we see coming out of Iraq.

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    More Campaign Finance Fun

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:46 am

    Dean is smart to turn down the matching funds and to raise as much money as he can. It simply makes sense and the situation underscores the silliness of the current system. And further, if it is possible for candidates such as Bush and Dean to raise more than the $45 million ceiling in relatively small (no more than $2000 from individuals and $5000 from groups via PACs), doesn’t that demonstrate support for their candidacies in a democratic fashion?

    And it is ludicrious that the federal government will give Bush and the Democratic nominee $74 million each to run their general election campaigns starting in September. It isn’t as if they couldn’t raise those funds (and more) privately.

    And as long as the federal government is going to spend trillions of dollars out of the economy each year, you aren’t going to “take the effects of money out of politics.” Indeed, that is an absurb position to take.

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    Oh Yeah, This Was a Good Idea

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:08 am

    Gun-Wielding Cops Conduct Drug Sweep At School

    Surveillance video from Stratford High School in Goose Creek shows 14 officers, some with guns drawn, ordering students to lie the ground as police searched for marijuana. Students who didn’t comply with the orders quickly enough were reportedly handcuffed.

    I am not a big fan of the “guilty until proven innocent” approach. Plus, if they thought there was marijuana on campus, wouldn’t a drug dog search have been sufficient?

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    Imagine That

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:04 am

    As the Session Winds Down, Sniping Rises on Capitol Hill

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    The Silliness of the BCRA

    By Steven Taylor @ 7:49 am

    I thought this was silly when I first read about it back when the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 was passed, and it comes across as even sillier in practice: Fine Print Is Given Full Voice in Campaign Ads

    In one of his television commercials, Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts announces his candidacy for president before a throng of adoring, placard-waving supporters.

    But at the end of the spot, amid the roar of the crowd, Mr. Kerry abruptly steps from the podium, looks into the camera and shouts, “I’m John Kerry, and I approve this message!”
    Such odd juxtapositions occur often in the first commercials of this election season because of a little-noticed provision of the new election law requiring candidates-including President Bush, when his campaign begins running ads-to pledge responsibility for their ads.

    First, any provision in a law that is designed because they assume people are stupid annoys me. The main idea here is that since people won’t or can’t read the disclaimer on the screen, or won’t understand what it means, you have to have the candidate say something about it.

    On balance, people who are easily swayed by TV commercials are likely to be swayed whether there is a disclaimer or not, and people who are skeptics and seek additional info before making voting decisions will do so, disclaimer or not. Indeed, the disclaimer may reinforce negative ads vis-a-vis gullible people, since the negativity will have been officially endorsed by the candidate (and the whole, silly, goal here is to reduce the influence of those invidious negative ads).

    It is altogether too nanny-ish to me.

    Second, I agree with this sentiment:

    “It’s really clumsy and awkward to put in an ad,” said Steve McMahon, whose firm is handling the advertising for Howard Dean, the former governor of Vermont. “Focus groups say `Of course you approve it, you wouldn’t have said it.’ “

    Third, these ads are tedious enough as it is, can you imagine the whole electoral season having to hear “I am X and I approve this message” over and over again (well, get ready, especially if you live in a battleground state…).

    Fourth, if we simply had full and transparent disclosure of who paid for all ads, we wouldn’t have to worry about who paid for what, or who endorsed what message-we would be able to find out (if there was any confusion, which there may not be, especially with ads that feature candidates talking about themselves).

    Fifth, it does affect the kind of commercials one can make:

    For instance, she said, during New Hampshire’s Senate campaign in 2002, she made a commercial for former Gov. Jeanne Shaheen featuring millworkers crediting the candidate with saving their jobs. “That wouldn’t have worked if at the end she had to come on to say something like `I’m Jeanne Shaheen, I approve this message because I’m really appreciated,’ ” Ms. Grunwald said. “There are so many different kinds of ads you can’t do properly with this language stuck in the middle of it.”

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    • Signifying Nothing linked with Stupidity 202—and I approve this post!
    • roman candles linked with 'bout time

    By Steven Taylor @ 7:23 am

    No Olympics for the U.S. Baseball Team.

    Of course, the strategy of playing the minor leaguers now, and maybe adding some big guns later, seems a bit illadvised.

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    Friday, November 7, 2003
    DeLong on Film

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:50 pm

    It appears that while we may have some some disagreements on politics that Brad DeLong and I have similar tastes in movies.

    I actually haven’t seen all the flicks he mentioned, but have to concur that Galaxy Quest, Young Frankenstein, and Monty Python and the Holy Grail are all exceptionally funny films.

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    Things We Don’t Need

    By Steven Taylor @ 3:20 pm

    Two ‘Partridge’ Series Hatched for VH1

    An updated version of the 1970s sitcom favorite “The Partridge Family” is being hatched at VH1.

    Sony Pictures Television, which holds rights to the popular show about a musical family, will produce a reality series for the cable channel chronicling the casting of the new Partridges as well as a scripted half-hour pilot featuring the winners.

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    Friday Dog Blogging

    By Steven Taylor @ 3:15 pm

    As inspired, after a fashion, by Kevin Drum, here’ s a pic of the new dog:

    Pretty cute, huh?

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    More from Colombia

    By Steven Taylor @ 12:40 pm

    Here’s an interesting story via the Miami Herald: Colombian troops ward off rebels

    Colombian troops have defeated an unprecedented guerrilla campaign to encircle Bogota and cut off major roads leading into the capital, a top army general said.

    More than 1,300 guerrillas had massed in the forested mountains in the capital’s outskirts with orders to seize roads, recruit new fighters, and set up rear bases to carry out attacks and kidnappings.

    “If the terrorists had taken control of those highways, it would have been a seriously complicated situation,” Gen. Reinaldo Castellanos, who led the operation dubbed “Freedom One” to remove the threat, told The Associated Press in an interview Wednesday night.


    The guerrillas have rarely staged attacks on Bogota’s outskirts, though they have carried out bombings in the city itself. Even if they had succeeded in encircling the city and carrying out attacks, the estimated 1,300 rebels in the 14 combat units, known as Fronts, would have had little chance of holding their position, being outgunned by the U.S.-backed military.

    But it would have shaken the morale of a nation torn by four decades of guerrilla warfare, which has largely been waged in remote rural areas.

    This is interesting for two reasons. The first, is that it is an unusual strategy for the FARC, and seems to add evidence to the theory that they want to take their fight to the urban centers. The second is that it seems that the military is getting better at fighting the rebels.

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    Thursday, November 6, 2003
    LA Race

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:00 pm

    Dave Wissing has a roundup of polling numbers from the LA governor’s race. On balance the numbers seem to indicate a tight race. And as Dave notes , there appear to be a lot of undecideds.

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    Senate Judicial Blockage Continues, Likely to Expand

    By Steven Taylor @ 3:36 pm

    Democrats Block Pryor From Court Seat

    Senate Democrats on Thursday blocked Alabama Attorney General William Pryor from a U.S. Appeals Court seat for a second time as Republicans, meanwhile, moved California judge Janice Rogers Brown toward what is likely to be the same fate in the closely divided Senate.

    Pryor again failed to get the 60 votes needed from the 100-member chamber to break a filibuster of his nomination to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta. His nomination was first filibustered by Democrats in July.

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    OTB on Dean and the South

    By Steven Taylor @ 11:16 am

    James of OTB has apost on Dean and southern voters that fits into (at least partially) my post on a similar subject from last night.

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    • Backcountry Conservative linked with More on Dean and the South
    Election After Action Report

    By Steven Taylor @ 11:10 am

    It’s op/ed smack-down time: the WSJ v. USAT. The topic: analyzing the significance of Tuesday’s electoral outcomes.

    USAT’s editorial page posits that the results are, while good for Republicans, a message of voter anger and anti-incumbency:

    This is not a picture of a political tide running in one direction. It is a picture of voters venting their frustration on whomever happens to be in power.

    However, the WSJ sees it in terms of regional trends:

    Tuesday’s vote turned out to be typical of off-year elections, with the consolidation of longtime partisan regional trends.

    Republicans have good reason to whistle Dixie. They picked up two more statehouses down South and are leading in Louisiana’s runoff next week…Democrats found more solace in the Northeast, their main national bastion.

    The winner in this analytical face-off? Why, the good folks at the Journal. This success is at least in part the result of looking at trends over time, with a larger set of observations, than trying to create a pattern by looking at a handful of elections, which is what the USAT analyst did.

    Plus, since only one of the two governor’s in question were actually incumbents, and since the incumbent mayor of Philly got to stay, I am unclear on where a radcial anti-incumbent mood can be idenitified. Indeed, it sounds like an extension of the incorrect McAuliffe/Dean/Pelosi reCAL thesis.

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    Good Jobs News

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:34 am

    Maybe the Dems can stopped saying “Sure, growth is good, but where are the job?” Granted, we need to wait for a trend to be esablished, but this is good news: Jobless Claims Plunge, Productivity Soars

    The number of Americans filing first-time claims for jobless benefits took an unexpectedly sharp plunge last week, reaching a level not seen since before the economy tumbled into recession in 2001, a government report showed on Thursday.


    Initial claims for state unemployment aid fell 43,000 to 348,000 in the week to Nov. 1 from a revised 391,000 the prior week, the Labor Department said. It was the lowest level since late January 2001, two months before the recession began.

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    And Now, the Nickel

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:31 am

    First quarters, and recently (again), the twenties. Now. it’s the nickel’s turn.

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    Hollywood Bias and the Reagan Mini-Series

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:27 am

    I think Timothy Noah misses the point of the flap over the Regan miniseries. If the movie was indeed an attempt to present a historically balanced view of the Reagans, there would have been protestations by those who would want the warts ignored, but it certainly wouldn’t have been pulled. Rather, from what I have read, heard and seen, this miniseries is a study in all of the cliches about Reagan from a liberal point of view. The soundbites that I have heard are laughable and the script excerpts have been insane (like Reagan pondering that he might be the anti-christ, I mean, please).

    We will remember that the original, and very critical, piece on this movie came from the NYT and Chris Matthews, hardly a Reagan-worshipping conservative, has been highly (indeed, remarkably) critical of this project.

    I will allow that there is a reverance of Reagan by many, many American conservatives that transcends the empirical, and that is part of what has driven this critique. However, any fair-minded person of any ideological perspective would have to admit that having Streisand’s husand in the lead role, where she was on the set constantly, raises a red flag. As I said when this first came up, it would be like Charlton Heston playing Clinton. Surely if we found out that there was going to be Clinton biopic coming out where Heston played Clinton, and Ken Starr was acting as an informal consultant, most liberals would be outraged?

    Personally, I haven’t gotten overly exercised over the whole thing. I am not an advocate of boycotts, and I simply wouldn’t have watched the thing had it aired on CBS. For one thing, I tend not to like fictionalized biographies. I will say that this production doesn’t help the argument that Hollywood isn’t inherently biased.

    As I asked several months ago: can anyone name a movie or tv show where the conservatives are painted as the good guys (let alone the liberals as the bad guys)? Rather, as I noted in that earlier post, it is pretty easy to find a plethora of shows and movies where the right is bad and the left is good. I can add one to the list: NBC’s new (and now cancelled) show The Lyon’s Den was shaping up as the good, liberal crusader versus the evil, money-grubbing, in-bed-with-greedy-corporate-type conservatives in the politicized setting of Washington, D.C. Now, it looked like an interesting show, but the political bias was clear.

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    Wednesday, November 5, 2003
    This Won’t Please Gephardt

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:22 pm

    Dean Set to Get Major Union Endorsement

    Howard Dean is getting a prized presidential endorsement from the AFL-CIO’s largest union, top officials from the Service Employees International Union told at least three Democratic campaigns Wednesday night.

    The endorsement by the 1.6 million-member SEIU, to be announced Thursday, could provide the momentum Dean’s campaign needs to win backing from another politically powerful union that so far has remained neutral, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

    SEIU’s endorsement will be announced Thursday after the union’s 63-member executive board meets with the former Vermont governor and Democratic front-runner, campaign sources said, insisting on anonymity.

    SEIU spokeswoman Sara Howard said Dean is the only candidate being considered, but the board could decide not to endorse anyone.

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    Donkeys and Elephants in the South

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:15 pm

    The CSM has a good piece entitled “GOP clout rises in South” which deals with both the elections yesterday and the Dean Confederate flag comment, and fits into the ongoing discussion here and elsewhere on partisan identification and southern voters.

    I would say that this underscores a main component of why the South is becoming increasingly a Republican stronghold, and fits into my previous arguments concering the ideological predilections of many Southerns (and it isn’t about simply about race, it’s about values, indeed it is mainly about ideology):

    Taken together, these events reflect the South’s ongoing shift from a solidly Democratic region to one that is not only competitive for Republicans, but seems increasingly hostile to Democrats, with a rift over cultural issues from guns to abortion to affirmative action. Republicans now hold 8 governorships out of the 11 former confederate states.


    In many ways, Democrats find themselves increasingly torn between liberal Northeastern and West Coast voters who tend to dominate the party, and Southerners they hope to woo back. Dean has come under fire from Sen. John Kerry for high ratings from the National Rifle Association in his years as governor of Vermont - a position that might boost Dean’s profile in the South, but could hurt him elsewhere and in many early primary states.

    In other words, Zell Miller has a point: the mainline Democratic Party does not connect well with the traditional values (largely linked to religious positions) that are dear to many Southern voters.

    If the Democratic elite wish to continue to argue that it is just because all the racist rednecks switched, they will never be able to recapture the vote. And I would note, that people can be for “states’ rights (i.e., federalism) and against affirmative action as rational, principled positions without racism being the motivation (and if you dismiss that statement out of hand, I would refer you to the first sentence in this paragraph).

    And the following observation about Mississippi is astute (especially when you think about what Ralph Reed was able to do for Georgia Republicans):

    In Mississippi in particular, analysts expect Gov.-elect Barbour to build up the GOP apparatus. “Barbour has been a master of organization” for the Republican Party nationally, says Black. “If Democrats think their situation is bad in Mississippi today, it’s going to get worse.”

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    • Backcountry Conservative linked with Southern Politics
    Two More FARC Commanders Killed

    By Steven Taylor @ 3:21 pm

    Colombia Troops Kill Another Rebel Leader

    Colombian troops killed a regional rebel commander, the fifth guerrilla leader slain in less than a month, a top army general said Tuesday.

    Luis Alexis Castellanos Garzon of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, died in a firefight Sunday night along with another rebel in Ubala, 30 miles east of Bogota, said Gen. Reynaldo Castellanos, commander of the army’s Fifth Division.

    The army believes Castellanos Garzon led a 1999 ambush on an army column that left 36 soldiers dead.

    “We consider his death to be a major blow to the FARC,” Castellanos told The Associated Press.


    Separately, Colombian anti-guerrilla forces shot dead the No. 2 leader of the FARC’s Arturo Medina unit, Luis Alberto Camacho Duarte, early Tuesday in the southwestern Narino province, the army said.

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    • OUTSIDE THE BELTWAY linked with FARC
    A Toon for Bloggers

    By Steven Taylor @ 7:17 am


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    Tuesday, November 4, 2003
    MS: Barbour Ahead, Many Votes Left to Count

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:47 pm

    Musgrove, Barbour Locked In Tight Race

    Democratic Gov. Ronnie Musgrove and Republican challenger Haley Barbour were locked in a tight race Tuesday night.

    With 17 percent of the vote in, Barbour had 52 percent to Musgrove’s 46 percent.

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    • Signifying Nothing linked with Ernie, Haley win; Bobby next?
    Democrats Retain Control of Philly

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:25 pm

    No big surprise here: Philadelphia Keeps Street as Mayor

    Mayor John Street easily won re-election against a familiar rival Tuesday in a racially charged campaign that became more so when an FBI bug was discovered in the incumbent’s office.

    The Democrat was leading Republican businessman Sam Katz, 59 to 41 percent with 66 percent of precincts reporting.

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    The GOP Take Kentucky

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:33 pm

    Of the races tonight, this one may be the most interesting party politics-wise, as it pitted a Democrat trying to associate the Republican with the “Bush Economy": Republican Wins Governor’s Race in Kentucky

    With a little more than 90 percent of the state’s precincts reporting, Fletcher, 50, a three-term House member from Lexington, held a 55 percent to 45 percent lead over his Democratic opponent, Attorney General A.B. “Ben” Chandler III.

    Of course, one race does not a pattern make. Still, it will give the Republican pols something to crow about.

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    • Matthew J. Stinson | weblog linked with The GOP wins in Kentucky
    • Signifying Nothing linked with Ernie, Haley win; Bobby next?
    John: The Girly Apostle

    By Steven Taylor @ 2:14 pm

    This line from a Slate piece on a documentary that aired on ABC about the Da Vinci Code simply cracked me up:

    If Da Vinci thought John looked like a girly man, that’s one thing. But a girlish-looking figure in a painting isn’t proof that Mary was present at the Last Supper, let alone that Jesus and Mary were married. (And, by the way, if Mary was sitting in John’s seat at the Last Supper, where was John?)

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    • Arguing with signposts… linked with Michael Moore takes on Jesus...
    Clark: Like a Falling Stone

    By Steven Taylor @ 11:14 am

    Dave Wissig has the numbers.

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    • Backcountry Conservative linked with Clark Slippage
    Top FARC Commander Killed in Firefight

    By Steven Taylor @ 11:10 am

    Colombia rebel commander killed

    The Colombian army says its forces have killed a senior guerrilla commander and nine other rebels in a shoot-out.

    Marco Aurelio Buendia, of the Revolutionary Armed forces of Colombia (FARC) was killed during clashes north-east of the capital, Bogota, the army said.

    It described the killing as one of the heaviest blows against insurgents since President Alvaro Uribe came to power last year vowing to crush the rebels.


    Mr Buendia was the second-in-command of the group’s eastern bloc, said armed forces General Jorge Enrique Mora.

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    • Matthew J. Stinson | weblog linked with About FARCin' time
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    No Wonder We Don’t Talk About “Scrushy Field” Anymore…

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:44 am

    Wowsers: the one-time benefactor of TSU’s football stadium, is in a heap o’ trouble:

    Former HealthSouth Corp. head Richard Scrushy was indicted on 85 counts, accused of juggling the corporate books in a huge federal fraud case in which 15 former executives of the rehabilitation services giant already have pleaded guilty.

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    By Steven Taylor @ 8:01 am

    James has a new caption contest running.

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    More Evidence That Dean is the Front-Runner

    By Steven Taylor @ 7:28 am

    Candidates Seek to Block Dean Endorsement

    Presidential rivals John Edwards, Dick Gephardt and John Kerry have found a common foe to unite them: Howard Dean.

    In a rare alliance, the three campaigns are working to deny the fellow Democratic candidate an endorsement from the Service Employees International Union, the largest in the AFL-CIO with 1.6 million members. The SEIU announced last week that its 63-member board would decide Thursday whether to back Dean, a former Vermont governor, or table the endorsement altogether.

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    Monday, November 3, 2003
    NAFTA at Ten

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:50 pm

    The CSM has an interesting article on NAFTA’s tenth birthday. On balance, the reviews are positve, altohugh jobs have been lost to Mexico in the last decade”

    Yes, US jobs have been lost. But the “giant sucking sound” famously predicted by presidential candidate Ross Perot in 1992 has arguably been more of a whimper. Nor has it created enough jobs in Mexico to stem illegal immigration, as others predicted.

    What it has accomplished, without dispute, is increase trade. Commerce between the US and Mexico has nearly tripled in a decade, growing twice as fast as US trade with the rest of the world.

    “This increased trade has brought cheaper products and allowed US manufacturers to remain competitive in the world market,” says Jorge Gonzalez, chairman of the economics department at Trinity University in San Antonio. “And that is exactly what it was supposed to do. Trade is not an engine for jobs, it’s an engine for efficiency.”

    Of course, economies are dynamic:

    The US Department of Labor calculates that about 500,000 jobs - mostly in manufacturing - have been lost to Canada or Mexico since NAFTA was enacted Jan. 1, 1994. Some claim that number is even higher. Robert Scott at the Economic Policy Institute in Washington, for example calculates it at 766,000.

    But others say the benefits of NAFTA are unseen. Regardless of how one felt about it during the raucous debates a decade ago, NAFTA’s primary benefit for Americans was clear: cheap labor. And today 3,182 plants dot Mexico’s countryside.

    And as prices for certain goods drop as a result, Americans have more money to spend on other things, thus stimulating the economy. In addition, some workers whose jobs go south are able to retrain for higher-skilled, higher-paid jobs. As Dan Griswold at the Cato Institute’s Center for Trade Policy Studies in Washington says, “Trade is not about more jobs or fewer jobs; it’s about better jobs, and NAFTA is no exception.”

    And, some really good news (and one of the reasons I supported NAFTA in the first place):

    In fact, many economists agree that NAFTA has played a role in helping turn the Mexican economy from a model of centralized protection to decentralized, democratic capitalism. Closely tied to the US economy, it now has one of the most stable and dynamic economies in volatile Latin America.

    And that has prompted steady political reform, says Russell Roberts, a professor of economics at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. “The bottom line is this: NAFTA has caused hardship for some Americans in certain sectors, but it’s made for a more stable and integrated Mexican political system - and that’s a real good thing for the world.”

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    • OUTSIDE THE BELTWAY linked with NAFTA AT 10
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    Speaking of Ole Miss

    By Steven Taylor @ 3:02 pm

    Here’s an interesting article from 1997 in the Daily Mississippian on the Universtity’s symbology.

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    An Open Seat in Florida

    By Steven Taylor @ 1:59 pm

    Big news on the Senatorial front: as James of OTB notes, Bob Graham is not running for re-election in the Senate.

    Mathew J. Stinson has expanded coverage.

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    Return of the Southern Strategy

    By Steven Taylor @ 1:45 pm

    <Caveat lector: this could use some tighening, but I need to get back to work).

    Comments this week from Howard Dean and Zell Miller, and specifically posts by Matthew Yglesias and James of OTB leads to the return to this topic-as does the discussion on the Confederate Battle Flag.

    The issue is that most of the problem with these discussions is that they overly treat race/racism as the explanatory variableespecially when the actual electoral shift took places, which James correctly notes was in the 1980s, not the 1960sindeed, I did some research on this a while back. I think that a focus just on presidential elections misses the point. For one thing, that some Southern states went Republican for president, while stayed Democratic for other office is an artifact of the fact that the majority of the voters in the South were (and are) conservative in nature, and therefore typically more conservative than the national Democratic Party, and hence the willingness of some to vote Republican for the office of president. Plus, Ike, as a key example, had rather wide appeal that transcended party identification. I did some research on this a while back. Is it not possible, for example, that someone who had racist notions might not drawn to the Republican Party for reasons other than race? I should think so. Further, citizens may identify with some symbol or action that is perceived as racists, but not for reasons that have anything to do with race.

    For example, while there is no doubt that the Confederate Battle Flag, amongst a whole host of other Southern symbols (like calling the University of Mississippi Ole Miss for example, let alone Colonel Reb, or even phrases like The Heart of Dixie) have racist overtones. But, does that mean that those who cherish or support those symbols are racists themselves, or choose to support those symbols for race-related reasons? No. Indeed, clearly not. Rather, many people develop attachments to these symbols before they are ever aware of any issues about race. For example, many a young person (and older persons, for that matter), might think having a confederate battle flag on their trucks means that they are sticking up for their region and sticking it to those Darn Yankees up north-less for any reason specifically related to the Civil War, but to a generalized feeling of regional pride that is not unlike the way football rivals deal with one another. Plus, there is a common feeling amongst Southerners that our brethren to the north down on us, which creates quite a bit of prideful backlash.

    Further, a fan of Ole Miss may think that it is just a clever nickname of the school and not know that it same nickname that slaves used to refer to the female head of the household (and the daughter was Young Miss). And even once such facts are revealed, it is difficult to have ones traditions changed (after all, it never meant anything negative to you, so whats the big deal?) Heck, anyone who was a kid in my generation who heard that a football team was called the Rebels was as likely to thing of the Rebel Alliance in Star Wars as they were to thing about the Civil War connotations of the term.

    Indeed, it was this kind of thing that Howard Dean was talking about when he made the comment about getting the vote from guys with Confederate Flags on their pick-up trucks.

    Another example: a lot (and I mean a lot) of white families in Montgomery send their children to private schools. Now, there is no doubt that a large number of these private schools emerged as a result of desegregation (just check out when the schools were founded), and so their original reason for existence was racist in nature. However, a lot of the parents who send their children to private schools do so now because they think that a) the private schools are better than the public schools (which may or may not be true, it depends), and b) they prefer to send their kids to religious schools. Now, there are no doubt some who consciously see race as a factor as well, but the majority of parents honestly see their decision as race-neutral.

    Part of the problem here to is a cycle in which the wealthier parents yank their kids from public school, and the schools get worse because of two factors: 1) wealthier parents tend to have more political clout, and in most places are among the more active voices demanding change and improvement, and 2) there becomes more anti-tax reticence vis--vis schools because those who put their kids in private schools see no point in funding schools that they arent using. As such, the problem gets worse. Now, the cause may have been racism in the first place, but the problem itself, and the motivations of the actors involved, have changedmaking the whole affair far more complex than it seems as first analysis.

    In short, I think that the complexities of Southern attitudes on race are often over-simplifies, and I especially think that the Southern Strategy thesis concerning the realignment of the solid Democratic South to a largely Republican South is off the mark. Just because some presidential candidates sought to gain votes by stoking racist feeling amongst some voters in the South is an inadequate explanation for the shift. I think it is overly convenient for those outside the South to characterize Southerner as a bunch of racists, and it is convenient for the Democratic Party to argue that the main reason they lost the South was racism.

    And look, I am not originally from the Deep South, nor have I lived all my life in the South. There is racism hereof this I have no doubt, but I also would argue that often the perception of that racism, and of how it affects politics, is often a caricature of reality.

    The truth of the matter, and why the 1980s date is more important than the 1960s in terms of electoral analysis, is that the Democrats had an inflated presence in the South to start with. The South was solidly (or almost solidly in terms of a handful of elections) Democratic from Reconstruction until the 1980s. Why? Because Lincoln was a Republican and the Radical Republicans controlled the Congress during Reconstruction and a lot of Southern States believed (rightly and wrongly) that they had suffered at the hands of Republican governments during Reconstruction and in the immediate post-Reconstruction era (such as in Texas). Hence, to be a Republican in the South was to be a loser in elections. This lead to a bifurcated Democratic partyone wing (the dominant one) being more conservative than the other (and to a system were the primaries were the real elections). It really isnt until Reagan that it becomes safe to a Republican in various elections in the South, and it wasnt about race, it was largely about ideology.

    An important side-note on re-alignment: it is also true that a lot of conservatives in the South ran as Democrats for Congress (especially the House) because even if they had won as a Republican, they would have been in the minority, which is a log less fun than being in the majority. Indeed, given that from the Eisenhower administration until 1994 that the Democrats firmly controlled the House, where was the incentive to run as a Republican from the South? Not only did you lessen your chances of winning, you would lessen your power once in office. There is a reason that lot of party shifting (e.g., Richard Shelby and Ben Nighthorse Campbell) took place after the “Republican Revolution” and not before. Shelby (one of Alabama’s Senators) is an excellent example of this phenom.

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    • Signifying Nothing linked with On the Southern Strategy
    Moore’s Out of Luck with the Supremes

    By Steven Taylor @ 12:31 pm

    Court Won’t Enter Ten Commandments Fight

    The Supreme Court refused Monday to enter the long-running fight over an enormous monument depicting the Ten Commandments and the renegade judge who wants to put it back on display in an Alabama courthouse.

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    Richard Neustadt Passes at Age 84

    By Steven Taylor @ 6:32 am

    Richard E. Neustadt, Historian Who Advised Three Presidents, Dies at 84

    Richard E. Neustadt, the White House adviser, historian and authority on presidential power, died on Friday in England. He was 84.

    His death was reported by a spokesman for the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, for which Mr. Neustadt was a founding faculty member and had served as professor emeritus since 1989, The Associated Press reported.
    Mr. Neustadt was an adviser to Presidents Harry S. Truman, John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, and wrote many books on the presidency. His scholarship became a staple of research for several decades for students of government and even some elected officials.

    I use some excerpts from his book on Presidential power in several of my classes.

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    Sunday, November 2, 2003
    Speaking of the Battle Flag

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:15 am

    More evidence of the politcally explosive nature of the Confederate battle flag: Dean’s Rivals Decry Flag Remark

    A comment by Howard Dean about Confederate flags and pickup trucks has drawn critical reaction from other candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination.

    “I still want to be the candidate for guys with Confederate flags in their pickup trucks,” the former Vermont governor was quoted as saying in Saturday’s Des Moines Register. “We can’t beat George Bush unless we appeal to a broad cross-section of Democrats.”

    In Dean’s defense, I know exactly what he is talking about, and he isn’t talking about a Democratic “Southern Strategy” to court racists-which is, of course, the way that his Democratic compadres interpreted it. Still, the uproar does demonstrate the explosiveness of the issue.

    Dean, of course, ended up backtracking-which damages his straight-talking image, to some degree. Further, one would have thought that he would have known better than to make the comment in the first place.

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    • Backcountry Conservative linked with Howard Dean and Pickup Trucks
    For example

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:05 am

    Ends up that Dave of The Hedgehog Report has some data to back up my post below.

    The data demonstrates that:

    1) Bush does better against actual candidates in polls than has does against “Democrat X” (indeed, quite a bit better: 50-44 v. Kerry, 51-42 v. Gephardt, 51-40 v. Clark and, 54-39 v. Dean).

    2) That Lieberman remains fairly high in the national polls, despite his current lack of traction in the states.

    3) That the bloom is fading on the Clark rose.

    Indeed, Dave has lots ‘o polling numbers-check ‘em out.

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    On Reading Polls

    By Steven Taylor @ 7:56 am

    Attention National Media: there are three lessons on reading polls that I would like to impart.

    1) Incumbent v. Anonymous Challenger polls, like this one notoriously skew away from the incumbent:

    Support for Bush has fallen to the point where 48 percent of those surveyed said they would vote for him if the election were held today, while 47 percent said they would vote for the Democratic Party’s nominee.

    The reason: the poll question allows the respondent to put their ideal candidate in the challenger slot. Hence, interesting, but not a good predicter or much of anything.

    2) National polls, especially early in a contest, are name recognition polls, and tell us little. Witness the fact that Liebermann has always polled well nationally, but not so well in the state-by-state polls (which matter far more), or that Clark became the instant “front runner” in national polls, but is in a distant third in New Hampshire. Or, that Hillary scores well in hypothetical national polls versus the other Nine.

    3) A person who is well know, but not running, will poll well when that person is a hypothetical candidate, but as soon as they actually enters the race and start talking, their numbers tend to drop. Again, witness Clark. The same would happen to Hillary. (And lest anyone accuse me of a partisan attack, Pennsylvania Governor, and fomer DNC Chair, Ed Rendell made a similar point in regards to Hillary on Hardball this past Thursday).

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    Saturday, November 1, 2003
    More Narconomics

    By Steven Taylor @ 1:06 pm

    South Carolina state troopers seized $1.8 million worth of cocaine that was found in the car of a speeder.

    Care to guess how much they found?

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    Ya Don’t Say…

    By Steven Taylor @ 12:57 pm

    For Democrats, Economy’s Surge Poses Challenge

    UPDATE: Occam’s Toothbrush has a great ‘toon to go along with this headline.

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    Election Time

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:55 am

    All of us poligeeks will get to whet our appetites a bit for 04 with a mini-flurry of state-level elections on Tuesday, with a brief encore on the 13th the 15th (thanks, Dave).

    Tuesday we get:

    New Jersey

    On the 13th 15th we get Louisiana.

    UPDATE: And, as reader Pathos point out: the Philly’s mayoral race is Tuesday as well.

    The President is stumping for candidates in Mississippi and Kentucky today where it appears that Republicans have a shot at unseating Democrats.

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    Headline Writers Are Often Too Clever By Half

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:43 am

    Kerry Takes Aim at Dean Positions on Guns

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    Record Month

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:33 am

    October was my highest traffic month to date-topping 8,500. Granted, BlogMaster InstaP gets that in roughly 1/10th of a day, but hey, ya gotta start somewhere.

    And, considering that in April I had a staggering 500 hits for the whole month, and have doubled trafrfic since June, I can’t complain.

    The graphic is below.

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