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Wednesday, March 31, 2004
More “O’Franken”

By Steven Taylor @ 8:36 pm

Here’s a lengthy AP story on the show’s debut: Yahoo! News - A Liberal Voice Debuts on Talk Radio.

And here’s why the whole process is probably doomed, at least if the goal is to find the “liberal answer to Rush Limbaugh":

“I don’t think of it as a business, but I know it has to make money to be sustaining,” Franken said in an interview, perching his feet up on the desk after a rehearsal session for the show. “A lot of it is mission.”

Given that Limbaugh had a passion for broadcasting (and whether you love him or hate him, he is good at the craft of radio) and that his goal was to make a living at the enterprise, the issue of understanding that he was in a business was key. This idea that Air America is a bunch of crusaders out to change the world is all fine and good, but isn’t a particularly good business model.

However, it does have a stereotypically liberal mindset: that good feelings and wanting to “do the right thing” will conquer all-ignoring the fact that there are other versions of what the “right thing” is in the minds of other people as well. And that if one is going to engage in what is ultimately a business venture, then a sound product is needed.

And while Limbaugh notes that his success isn’t predicated on who wins elections, this appears not to be the case for AA, at least in terms of their motivations:

“We are flaming swords of justice,” Franken told a cheering crowd at a party to launch the network Tuesday night. “Bush is going down, he is going down, he is going down. And we’re going to help him.”

Again, I welcome more talk on the radio, and would love for there to be a panoply of options on the AM dial in terms of political diversity. But this enterprise has always seemed too contrived to work, and I still have a hard time taking Franken or Garofolo seriously as political analysts. They strikes me more as dilettantes.

Still, I guess we will see. I wouldn’t predict a rating bonanza, however.

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Clarke Unhappy About Being in MoveOn.Org Ad

By Steven Taylor @ 4:55 pm

He may not like it, but he has inserted himself into the political process. Further, since his statements are part of the public record (you know, by writing a book and all and appearing on TV and such), I don’t think he has any recourse: Clarke wants anti-Bush ads bearing his name pulled

President Bush’s former counterterrorism adviser objected Wednesday to the use of his name and critical comments about Bush in a new broadcast advertisement from a political group supporting Democratic candidate John Kerry.

Richard Clarke said he instructed his lawyer to ask the Voter Fund to stop broadcasting the ad, which Clarke said was created without his knowledge or permission. The group said it wouldn’t pull the ad, and one outside legal expert said the ad was clearly permissible under U.S. copyright laws.

“I just don’t want to be used,” Clarke told The Associated Press. “I don’t want to be part of what looks like a political TV ad. I’m trying hard to make this not a partisan thing but a discussion of how we stop terrorism from happening in the future, keep this on a policy issue. I don’t want this to become any more emotional or personal than it has already.”

First, while strictly-speaking he hasn’t been “partisan” he certainly has been political, so this comes across as a tad disingenuous. Second, he worked in Washington for thirty years and he is surprised by this? He should have expected it.

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The O’Franken Factor

By Steven Taylor @ 4:33 pm

I listened to the last twenty minutes-ish of the new Al Franken radio show this afternoon. It is one of the new Air America shows (i.e., the new “Liberal Talk” network-not to be confused with the Mel Gibson-Robert Downey, Jr. flick).

Now, I am a radio talk show junkie and my basic attitude on this new Air America network/the attempt to find the “liberal Rush Limbaugh” is two-fold. First, I figure, the more the merrier. I like choices, and would likely listen on occasion, and if it was good more often than that, to these shows if they were on the radio when I was driving. However, I mostly would be flipping around. Second, I do think that the idea of simply creating some kind of liberal radio juggernaut out of thin air is a bit silly and one wonders as to the degree that the pesky ol’ market is being taken into consideration here.

I will also say that I think that Al Franken can be funny, although I find his skills as a political commentator to be lacking. I think he relies a bit too much on the overly cutesy-gee-aren’t-I-cleverly-skewering-the-other-side-sardonic. For example, take the name of the show: “The O’Franken Factor". Okay, we get the joke, do you really want your show’s title to be a joke? For one thing, it has to get old at some point. Further, as I have noted before, I find it amusing (and not in the way intended) that Franken continually feels the need to utilize O’Reilly and Limbaugh to get attention.

At any rate, here’s what I heard in the relatively brief

-Interview with Al Gore, and some in-studio guest (Mike somebody) talking about how Gore really won and pontificating as to how much better we would have been if Gore had been president. Now, that’s all fair enough-a liberal show ought to be allowed to muse about their preferred counterfactuals. But in re: 2000, Florida and the Supreme Court-could we please get over it?

-A bit where they ‘locked Ann Coulter in the green room” and she freaked out and tore up the place. It didn’t strike me as especially funny-indeed, it came across like a somewhat lame SNL bit-and I am not a big Ann Coulter fan. Indeed, they seemed overly fascinated by Coulter.

-He had some elderly family friends and his daughter and the principal from the school she works at as guests via phone. Now, all sweet and all, but hardly riveting radio. And apparently he plans for all of them to be regulars.

Highights of that segment: to the older gentleman: “You’re liberal and fought at the Battle of the Bulge. Ann Coulter says liberals hate America. What do you think about that?” And his daughter’s boss carrying on about how great Franken’s daughter was as a teacher. Somehow I ain’t smelling a Marconi Award at this point.

-Guests later this week: Senator Clinton, Robert Reich and Richard Clarke.

Note: Andrew Cline of Rhetorica has an interesting post on the subject.

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  • Right Wingin-It linked with Still mad about the '00 election...
  • QandO linked with I'm gonna do a terrific show today
  • The Review linked with Air America Roundup
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The Power of International Law

By Steven Taylor @ 1:33 pm

Somehow, I am guessing that this: Court: U.S. Violated Mexicans’ Rights won’t come to much.

The basics:

The International Court of Justice ruled Wednesday that the United States violated the rights of 51 Mexicans on death row and ordered their cases be reviewed.


Mexican officials praised the ruling as “a triumph of international law” and said they were confident the United States would comply with the court’s order.

Arturo Dager, a legal adviser with Mexico’s Foreign Relations Department, said it will be an important legal tool for Mexican inmates in the United States.

“Of course we have full confidence that the United States will comply with the court’s ruling,” Dager said, adding that if it doesn’t, Mexico could ask the U.N. Security Council to issue a resolution urging it to do so.

“Mexico was not vindicated. The rule of international law was vindicated. Of course we are confident the United States will fully comply with the ruling,” said Juan Gomez Robledo, Mexico’s ambassador to the Netherlands.

I’m not so sure. For one, I am not a big supporter of the ability of an international court to make rulings on our judicial system. However, the bottom line is that whether one supports this process or not, it will demonstrate the power of international law, as the US will almst certainly ignore the ruling. The only question will be if it does so politely or not.

For example:

In 2001, a similar case came before the court filed by Germany to stop the execution of two German brothers who also had not been informed of their right to consular assistance. One brother was executed before the court could act. The judges ordered a stay of execution for the second brother, Walter LaGrand, until it could deliberate, but he was executed anyway by Arizona.

When the court finally ruled in 2001, it chastised the U.S. government for not halting the LaGrand execution, and rejected arguments that Washington was powerless to intervene in criminal cases under the authority of the individual states.

It demonstrates why it is absurd to speak of international law in the same way we speak of domestic law: there is no enforcement power in the international arean, and therefore strong states can ignore institutions like the World Court and weak states only listen when the strong states make them.

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  • Outside the Beltway linked with Beltway Traffic Jam
Busy Morning/Around the Blogroll

By Steven Taylor @ 8:42 am

Hence, basically no posting.

Until posting resumes, go check out:

  • Outside the Beltway: Clarke Fallout.
  • Outside the Beltway: Gas Prices
  • Confessions Of A Political Junkie: Nonsense
  • More Pictures of Washington, D.C.
  • Arguing with signposts…: Clarke, 9/11, zell miller and assorted stuff
  • Cox & Forkum: Steamed Rice
  • ScrappleFace: Kennedy, Daschle Fined for Celebration Over Rice Testimony
  • The blogroll and links on the left in general.

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    Tuesday, March 30, 2004
    Man Blows Himself up in Bolivian Congress Buidling

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:07 pm

    This appears to be a literal suicide bombing, not an attack per se: Man Blows Himself Up in Bolivia Congress

    An angry miner with dynamite strapped to his chest blew himself up in Bolivia’s congress Tuesday, killing two police officers and wounding 10 others, authorities said.

    La Paz Police Chief Guido Arandia said the suicide bomber � whose demand for early retirement benefits underscored the grievances of many low-paid miners in Bolivia � stormed into congress around midday and went to a part of the building away from the congressional chambers.

    The miner detonated his vest laced with at least five sticks of dynamite as congressional security police tried to negotiate. Arandia said he killed himself and fatally wounded Col. Marbel Flores, head of the congressional security police, and an officer who wasn’t immediately identified. Col. Carlos Za, head of the country’s intelligence service, was critically injured.

    Arandia said there was no doubt the man had intentionally blew himself.

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    Write Your Own Joke

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:04 pm

    Nader Advises Kerry to Loosen Up

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    Parental Math

    By Steven Taylor @ 7:38 pm

    You’re obviously tired + I am tired of your behavior = early bedtime

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    Things I Didn’t Know

    By Steven Taylor @ 4:32 pm

    The Kerry campaign has been teaching me a lot about the economy. First, the President controls the number of jobs in the economy. And now, we find out that he controls the price of gasoline.

    No wonder he wants the job: those are some pretty cool powers.

    And no wonder the Democrats think Bush is a dolt: because if he would just use his Magical Presidential PowersTM and create about 15 million new jobs and lower the gas prices to about 50 cents a gallon, re-election would be a breeze. What a maroon.

    Filed under: The Economy | Comments (0) | Trackbacks(3)
    • Cranial Cavity linked with Kerry's Oil Strategy is as Slippery as the Oil he Wants to Save
    • The Daily Lemon linked with How Bush can guarentee victory
    • The American Mind linked with Kerry's House of Ketchup #6
    The Power of TV Advertising

    By Steven Taylor @ 2:57 pm

    TV ads score big in Bush turnaround Kerry’s wide lead erased in states targeted by both

    A week of hearings on Capitol Hill and criticism from a former counterterrorism aide have eroded President Bush’s poll standing on fighting terrorism. But that’s nothing compared to the damage that Bush’s campaign ads may have done to Democratic candidate John Kerry.

    A USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup Poll shows a remarkable turnaround in 17 battleground states where polls and historic trends indicate the race will be close, and where the Bush campaign has aired TV ads. Those ads say Bush has provided ‘’steady leadership in times of change'’ while portraying Kerry as a tax-hiking, flip-flopping liberal.

    The ads have been one factor in wiping away an inflated lead Kerry held in those states. Most of them have had primaries or caucuses that allowed Democrats to dominate the news and Kerry to emerge as a victor. In a survey taken in mid-February, Kerry led Bush by 28 percentage points in those states, 63% to 35%. Now Bush leads Kerry in them by 6 points, 51% to 45%.

    Of course this also shows that Kerry’s leads in these states were at least, in part, a function of the media attention given to the primaries.

    And, as expected:

    The Bush campaign also has begun defining Kerry before he has defined himself. In the states where the ads have run, Kerry’s unfavorable rating has risen 16 points since mid-February. In the other states, it’s up just 5 points. The margin of error for each group of states is +/-5 percentage points.

    ‘’For Kerry having won the nomination, voters came away not knowing much about him,'’ says Kathryn Dunn Tenpas of the Brookings Institution, author of a study of re-election campaigns titled Presidents as Candidates. ‘’He’s a blank slate to a lot of people, so negative ads can have a big impact.'’

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    Fun With Judicial Nominations

    By Steven Taylor @ 1:14 pm

    I kinda like this idea.

    Filed under: Courts/the Judiciary | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
    I HATE Comment Spam

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:54 am

    Just thought I’d share.

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    • Outside the Beltway linked with Beltway Traffic Jam
    Rice to Testify

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:46 am

    Rooftop Report and Kristopher of The World Around You report that Rice will indeed testify in public, under oath to the 911 Commission.


    The White House reversed itself on Tuesday and offered to have national security adviser Condoleezza Rice testify publicly under oath about the Sept. 11 attacks before the 9-11 commission.

    The White House released a letter to the independent commission from legal counsel Alberto Gonzalez outlining the offer. It also said it would make President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney available to speak before a joint private session of the full panel.

    Both offers were on condition that they would not set a precedent under the constitutional separation of executive and legislative powers, an administration official said.

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    A Baby by Any Other Name…

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:29 am

    I must concur with James Joyner, while commenting on this Saletan piece. Writes James:

    the anti-abortion side has a huge advantage in the debate because the pro-abortion side refuses to acknowledge something intuitively obvious: that the fetus is a human life.

    The utter unwillingness for the pro-choice movement to acknowledge that a fetus in utero v. a child outside the womb is the exact same thing, especially as the pregnancy increases, is a serious case of cognitive dissonance, if not simply utter denial.

    As such, it makes it difficult for them to make viable arguments for their positions, especially in such rather obvious cases as partial-birth abortion and the UVVA (Unborn Victims of Violence Act). To pretend that, say, a fetus in the eighth months of pregnancy is only a human being once the mother decided that it is, is an utterly ludicrous position and one that is difficult to sustain with logic.

    It is clear with the debate on the UVVA (as it was with the partial-birth abortion ban) that the pro-choice side is utterly unwilling to yield even a scintilla of space in their argument concerning the sanctity of �choice.� Partially because they fear, understandably, that the right to abortion itself comes under logical attack if any fetus in any circumstance is actually defined as a human being. Further, I think that there is a recognition, that they will not admit, that their own arguments are built on a tenuous foundation, and therefore there really isn�t any room to give.

    In regards to the extreme position that many in the pro-choice movement take, note this from NARAL:

    President Bush is on the verge of signing into law his second odious piece of legislation in six months aimed at undermining Roe v. Wade. The U.S. Senate passed the deceptive “Unborn Victims of Violence” Act this week - the House passed the same bill last month - and the President has vowed to sign it. Bush has already earned the distinction of being the first president ever to sign a federal abortion ban and he now has a chance to extend his reputation in history as the most anti-choice president that this country has ever seen.

    So, the idea that if a pregnant women is murdered that the assailant should be charged with an additional crime if the fetus dies as well, is �odious.� To put it mildly, this is an extreme position.

    Further, if signing a law that makes doing violence to a fetus, and another one that limits a rare form a late-term abortion makes Bush the �most anti-choice president that this country has ever seen� then it shows how little any previous president has done on this topic. It further illustrates that to NARAL and their allies there is no such thing as a bad abortion.

    One last comment: the bill and its signing may not make NARAL-ites happy, but I don�t think that they were going to vote for Bush in any event. However, both of these bills will no doubt help excite part of Bush�s base in November.

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    • Kamelian X-Rays linked with Baby and the Bath Water
    Twenty-Three Years Ago Today

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:14 am

    On March 20, 1981 John Hinckley, Jr. shot Presidetn Ronald Reagan (along with James Brady and two members of the President’s security detail).

    Time flies-I was in Middle School at the time, and heard about the shooting in the halls between classes.

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    By Steven Taylor @ 8:00 am

    Cox & ForkumCharacter Suicide hit the nail on the head (or the knife in the back, or whatever…).

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    Hmm, How About Drilling in ANWR?

    By Steven Taylor @ 6:42 am

    Kerry Announces Plan to Control Gas Costs.

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    Monday, March 29, 2004
    The Bear Emerges from the Cave

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:59 pm

    There has been an N. Z. Bear spotting. His main purpose is to talk about Pooh (just go look). However, he also notes:

    PS - Yah, I know the Ecosystem is foobared. No, I don’t know what’s wrong. Yes, I know your details page shows one thing and the rankings shows another. No, I haven’t fixed it yet.

    I wonder if he saw his shadow when he peeked out of the cave?

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    Law Enforcement or War?

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:22 pm

    George Shultz makes an excellent point in today’s OpinionJournal:

    In the 1990s, the problem began to appear even more menacing. Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda were well known, but the nature of the terrorist threat was not yet comprehended and our efforts to combat it were ineffective. Diplomacy without much force was tried. Terrorism was regarded as a law enforcement problem and terrorists as criminals. Some were arrested and put on trial. Early last year, a judge finally allowed the verdict to stand for one of those convicted in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Ten years! Terrorism is not a matter that can be left to law enforcement, with its deliberative process, built-in delays, and safeguards that may let the prisoner go free on procedural grounds.

    The problem with the law enforcement approach is that it requires waiting until an attack happens, and then affording rights and privileges to the accused. Hence, warfare is the better paradigm:

    In war, you have to act on both offense and defense. You have to hit the enemy before the enemy hits you. The diplomacy of incentives, containment, deterrence and prevention are all made more effective by the demonstrated possibility of forceful pre-emption. Strength and diplomacy go together. They are not alternatives; they are complements. You work diplomacy and strength together on a grand and strategic scale and on an operational and tactical level. But if you deny yourself the option of forceful pre-emption, you diminish the effectiveness of your diplomatic moves. And, with the consequences of a terrorist attack as hideous as they are-witness what just happened in Madrid-the U.S. must be ready to pre-empt identified threats. And not at the last moment, when an attack is imminent and more difficult to stop, but before the terrorist gets in position to do irreparable harm.

    Notice that this doesn’t mean invading the whole world, as some interpret the “war paradigm".

    The rest of the piece deals with rogues states, and specifically Iraq and is worth a read.

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    • Hellblazer linked with Find the lady

    By Steven Taylor @ 4:19 pm

    U.S. Officials Say Saddam’s Not Talking

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    NATO Expansion

    By Steven Taylor @ 4:02 pm

    Bush Welcomes Seven New NATO Members

    Under a bright sun on the White House South Lawn, Bush stood with the prime ministers of Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia. Hundreds of people cheered. Some waved flags of the new member nations, whose addition expands the alliance to 26 countries.

    And, indeed:

    Fifty-five years after NATO’s birth, Bush recalled that the seven new members were “captives to an empire” when the alliance was formed.

    “They endured bitter tyranny. They struggled for independence. They earned their freedom through courage and perseverance and today they stand with us as full and equal partners in this great alliance,” he said.

    A truly historical event.

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    Another Front in the Drug War

    By Steven Taylor @ 2:32 pm - Oxycontin overtakes heroin as narcotic of choice for state’s addicts

    The prescription painkiller OxyContin has overtaken heroin and other street drugs as the narcotic of choice for addicts seeking help at Tennessee’s methadone clinics.

    And it can be more dangerous than other drugs.

    ‘’A lot of people are losing limbs, getting infections and even their heart valves are getting infected,'’ said Dr. Steven Ritchie, medical director of state methadone clinics in Nashville and Memphis. The problem is that the drug was designed to be absorbed by the body over 12 hours, so some of its substances don’t completely dissolve when addicts inject it.

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    Minor Site Update

    By Steven Taylor @ 2:06 pm

    I have added a new list on the left sidebar: Non-Blogs Linking to PoliBlog: - Alabama Weblogs

    AJC’s 2004 Election Politic Sites and Blogs
    Campaign Finance

    Thanks especially to the Campaign Finance site, as that is a new link.

    (As always: if there is a site somewhere that has linked to me, but I am unaware of it, please drop me a line).

    Election Projection

    Scott, the Blogging Ceasar of Election Projection has returned to the Blogosphere after enduring serious personal tragedy.

    He has his latest polling analysis here.

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    Good Deal

    By Steven Taylor @ 12:33 pm

    Al Qaeda Spy Chief Killed in Pakistani Raid

    Filed under: War on Terror | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
    More on Clarke and MTP

    By Steven Taylor @ 6:58 am

    I watched the last half of the Clarke MTP interview last night.

    I came away with the following:

    1) He has a rather high opinion of himself. Whether he speaks about the Bush administration (especially) or the Clinton administration, he speaks of himself as the guy with the answers, who, had his recommendations been executed, would have led us to a far more successful war against al Qaeda-indeed, we might have gotten them back in the late 90s.

    2) While he argues that one of his main motivations in writing the book was to show how the war in Iraq has gotten us off the track, he almost never actually talks about that. Rather, he speaks about failings in the Bush administration during its first eight months of existence.

    3) As Russert ably noted, Clarke is much more prepared to cut the Clinton administration slack. He noted this clip for a recent Kratuhammer column:

    in a March 2002 interview on PBS’s “Frontline,” Clarke admitted as much: “I believe that, had we destroyed the terrorist camps in Afghanistan earlier, that the conveyor belt that was producing terrorists, sending them out around the world would have been destroyed.” Instead, “now we have to hunt [them] down country by country.”

    What should we have done during those lost years? Clarke answered: “Blow up the camps and take out their sanctuary. Eliminate their safe haven, eliminate their infrastructure. . . . That’s . . . the one thing in retrospect I wish had happened.”

    It did not. And who was president? Bill Clinton. Who was the Clinton administration’s top counterterrorism official? Clarke. He now says that no one followed his advice. Why did he not speak out then? And if the issue was as critical to the nation as he now tells us, why didn’t he resign in protest?


    Clarke’s answer is unbelievable: “Well, I’m not prepared to call it a mistake. It was a judgment made by people who had to take into account a lot of other issues. . . . There was the Middle East peace process going on. There was the war in Yugoslavia going on. People above my rank had to judge what could be done in the counterterrorism world at a time when they were also pursuing other national goals.”

    This is significant for two reasons. First, if the Clarke of 2002 was telling the truth, then the Clarke of this week - the one who told the Sept. 11 commission under oath that “fighting terrorism, in general, and fighting al Qaeda, in particular, were an extraordinarily high priority in the Clinton administration - certainly [there was] no higher priority” - is a liar.

    Second, he becomes not just a perjurer but a partisan perjurer. He savages Bush for not having made al Qaeda his top national security priority, but he refuses even to call a “mistake” Clinton’s staggering dereliction in putting Yasser Arafat and Yugoslavia(!) above fighting al Qaeda.

    4) Clarkes practically pretends as if the Afghanistan invasion never took place, and that Bush skipped from 911 to Iraq. Given that Clarke says he argued for more stringent force to be used against the al Qaeda camps in Afghanistan, you’d think he’d at least acknowledge that particular success.

    5) His main failing, if what he wanted to do, whether it is criticize Iraq, or criticize the Bush administration in general, is that he is so incredibly forgiving of the Clinton administration’s war on terror, and therefore it damages his analytical credibility. I have no doubts-none-that there were failings in the Bush administraton prior to, and even after, 911. However, a comprehensive critique of anti-terrorism poliy can’t let the Clinton administraion off because they were busy in Kosovo and with the Middle East Peace process and then turn around an expect that a new administration should have come in and been super-aggressive in terms of anti-terror policy. The whole eight years and numerous major attacks v. eight months and none, also damages his argument.

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    • Outside the Beltway linked with Clarke on MTP
    • Rooftop Report linked with Yeah, I'll have the double standard with cheese
    And This is Controversial Because?

    By Steven Taylor @ 6:32 am

    As I have noted before, this strikes me as a pefectly reasonable response to an attack. Wouldn’t the odd thing have been if he hadn’t asked the question?

    President Asked Aide to Explore Iraq Link to 9/11

    The White House acknowledged Sunday that on the day after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, President Bush asked his top counterterrorism adviser, Richard A. Clarke, to find out whether Iraq was involved.

    Mr. Bush wanted to know “did Iraq have anything to do with this? Were they complicit in it?” Condoleezza Rice, the president’s national security adviser, recounted in an interview on CBS’ “60 Minutes.”

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    Sunday, March 28, 2004
    I was Unware it had been Submerged

    By Steven Taylor @ 6:52 pm

    A headline from the CMS: Abortion resurfaces as wedge issue

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    On Character Assassination and Smear Tactics

    By Steven Taylor @ 4:45 pm

    I would note that to question Mr. Clarke’s consistency between his book, press interviews, testimony and past statements when he was with the White House is not a “smear campaign” or “character assassination“.

    To wonder about his motives, is not out of line, when it is clear that he does stand make a great deal of money, and has gained a substantial amount of notoriety from these events.

    It is not below to belt to note that Mr. Clarke was not always perfect in his own judgements, especially if he wishes to claim that he knew best and no one would listen.

    When you say that you know best, people will wonder if they really should listen to you. They want proof that you should be trusted over others.

    When you claim to be “the witness” it is not unreasonable to consider your impeachability.

    Since veracity and reliability is an issue, and since different people have clearly different interpretations of the events in question, one way we decide who to listen to is to ask how trustworthy they are and to inquire as to their motives.

    Character assassination is saying that they guy cheats on his taxes, kicks his dog, drinks too much or asking him “have you stopped beating your wife yet?”

    Nothing of this nature has happened.

    To ask if he knows what he is takling about when he speaks, however, is fair game.

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    • Outside the Beltway linked with Frum on Clarke
    The Rev. Kerry Speaks

    By Steven Taylor @ 3:24 pm

    Kerry Cites Scripture to Battle Bush View:

    “The scriptures say, what does it profit, my brother, if someone says he has faith but does not have works?” Kerry told the congregation at New North Side Baptist Church. “When we look at what is happening in America today, were are the works of compassion?”

    Since the verse in question is about the individual faith and life of a specific person, I am not sure of the application here. Indeed, it smacks of someone trying to find a verse to fit a message, rather than the message coming from the verse. Ah well, at least he didn’t say that Job was in the New Testament

    And, while I agree on one level, there are some consistency problems here:

    Kerry is Roman Catholic, but his support for abortion rights is at odds with Vatican (news - web sites) teachings.

    “I don’t tell church officials what to do, and church officials shouldn’t tell American politicians what to do in the context of our public life,” Kerry said in an interview with Time posted on the magazine’s Web site Sunday.

    That is, I agree the Vatican has no business telling American politicians what to do, but it has every right to tell those who claim membership in the Catholic Church that abortion is wrong. As such, the problem isn’t the Church, it is individuals who say that they embrace a given faith, yet actively reject a major teaching of that church Surely, the easier thing to do would simply be to state that one isn’t a particularly devout Catholic, or, perhaps, to simply not be a Catholic at all.

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    • Outside the Beltway linked with Faith and Politics
    • Blogs for Bush linked with Carnival of the Bush Bloggers
    Thanks for the Links

    By Steven Taylor @ 3:00 pm

    Thanks to the following for permalinking to PoliBlog-each has been given a reciprocal link:

  • Prof. Blogger’s Pontifications
  • Reagan Country
  • Quotes, Thoughts, and other Ramblings

    As always, if I’ve missed you, please let me know. Or, if you just wanted a link, lilnk to me and let me know and I will be happy to reciprocate.

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    Clarke on MTP

    By Steven Taylor @ 2:38 pm

    (note: this was originally simul-blogging, hence the tense, but it wasn’t ready to post before I left for church)

    Clarke is on MTP claiming that there is “no inconsistency” between what he has said recently and the now-famous backgrounder. And that the reason he didn’t resign rather than give it is because he wanted to finish his report on cyberterrorism.

    Further, he seems to be arguing that he (and a few others) understood threat of terrorism pre-911, and the President wouldn’t listen. And further, he clearly is a critic of the war on Iraq and thinks that it has damaged the war on terror. I find that to be a fair position, but he ignores the invasion of Afghanistan, the defeat of the Taliban, and the death or capture of a substantial number of al Qaeda leaders which took place between 911 and the war in Iraq.

    Quite frankly, the idea that terrorism became a more urgent issue after 911 seems a rather likely outcome of the attack. One thing that is obvious, and fair, that came out of the pre-Clarke testimony on the 911 Commission is that there was a radical shift in policy POV on terrorism post-911. Anyone who claims that they were in a post-911 mindset prior to 911 is almost certainly remembering themselves rather fondly, to put it mildly.

    He stated: “They didn’t allow me to brief him [the President] on terrorism"-but only on cybersecurity. There is no chance that he is bit resentful of what he sees as slights by his former colleagues? Or that he is unhappy that his job changed?

    He points to Berger working hard to prevent attacks prior to December 1999. Gee, I wonder why they did that? I don’t suppose that knowing about a credible threat on 12/31/99 might have had something to do with that fact?

    There were clearly failures prior to 911. Indeed, it is a long list. If that is what Mr. Clarke wants to talk about, I have no problem with that. However, to present the information as if the Clinton administration did all they could, and then the Bush admin dropped the ball (especially if one reviews this timeline). Further, to say Iraq is a failure is a legitimate line of argument, but to say that and ignore everything else that has happened leads one to assume certain agendas, rather than pure policy analysis. And, really, the reason that critics of the Bush administration have jumped on this stuff is because it seems to make the argument that they want to make for political reasons: Bush is a failure on security, so vote for Kerry.

    “This is about how the war in Iraq has damaged the war on terror"-so Clarke said about 26 minutes into the broadcast. Ok, well and good: but if that is the thesis, why is none of the discussion about how the war in Iraq has damaged the war on terror? Why is is all about how Bush ignored Clarke, or how he was stopped from briefing the President, or how terrorism wasn’t an “urgent” issue prior to 911. There is a serious logical disconnect her are a lack of clarity of argument.

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    Saturday, March 27, 2004
    The New Naomi Wolfe?

    By Steven Taylor @ 7:15 pm

    Kerry too ‘French’ to sway ‘adolescent’ Americans: consultant

    US presidential hopeful John Kerry needs to stop acting so French if he wants to win the race for the White House, a French-born, US-based consultant and “medical anthropologist” says.

    And no joke:

    “Kerry’s trouble is that he is simply not the common man,” Clotaire Rapaille, who’s been contacted by Kerry’s campaign team for advice, told the Sunday Telegraph newspaper.

    Is it just me, or this just a PR problem waiting to happen? Especially if the guy is going to say things like this:

    “The French are thinkers - ‘I think, therefore I am’. Americans want somebody who is going to take action. All this association of Kerry with thinking too much and nuance and five-sentence answers is off-code.”

    He added: “American culture is an adolescent culture… In America, you have to be the common man, be able to make people think you are the common man.”


    “Go to K-Mart, buy jeans and cowboy boots… Dress like you are going into a bar in Kansas to drink from the bottle,” he said.

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    • Lonewacko: America’s Favorite Transcontinental Blogger linked with "Dress like you are going into a bar in Kansas to drink from the bottle"
    Write Your Own Joke

    By Steven Taylor @ 11:23 am

    French Lawyer Says He Will Defend Saddam

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    Favorite Plagiarists

    By Steven Taylor @ 11:21 am

    Prof. Blogger lists his favorite plagiarist. An amusing list.

    My favs:

    1. The student who printed off his essay from the internet, and left the URL on the bottom of the page.

    3. The roommates who were both taking the same class from Prof. Blogger and turned in the very same paper on the very same day. The original paper was so bad that it earned an “F” on its own, even without the plagiarism.

    8. The student who plagiarized a paper about plagiarism. Prof. Blogger almost appreciates the irony in this act, except, alas, the culprit apparently had no idea it was ironic.

    He also includes non-student plagiarists. I woud add Thomas Jefferson to the list (read the Declaration and then read Locke’s Scond Treatise and get back to me…).

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    Fun With Condiments

    By Steven Taylor @ 11:12 am

    I forgot to include Sean Hackbarth’s House of Katchup #5 in the Toast-O-Meter.

    But, really, who want ketchup on their toast anyway?

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    Keep Your Money on Daschle

    By Steven Taylor @ 11:07 am

    Tim Giago makes Daschle challenge official

    U.S. Sen. Tom Daschle has an opponent for the June 1 Democratic primary.

    Tim Giago of Rapid City officially announced his candidacy for the party nomination Wednesday at his hometown of Kyle on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

    Giago, an American Indian newspaper editor and publisher, said issues that affect Indian reservations also affect other areas.

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    The Toast is Done: The 3/21 Toast-O-Meter

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:57 am

    -Toast: It’s not Just for Breakfast Anymore!-

    The Toast-o-meter: A Weekly News Round-Up and Handicapping of the Race for to be the next President of the United States.

    The Toast-O-Meter comes to you Fortified with linkage and Enhanced with bloggage.

    Sure, the Democratic Primaries continues, but the truth is, it’s two-slicer time: Bush v. Kerry to see who can reduce the other to toast over the next eight month.

    If you come across a news story, commentary or blog entry that you think would be good for the Toast-O-Meter, please submit it to: toast@poliblogger.comKos wonders about The Myth of Bush’s Financial Advantage?

    Feeling the Heat?

    Each week the candidates will have had one of three kinds of weeks:

  • Dough is on the Rise (this candidate had a good week)
  • Heat’s Off This Week (the candidate had a neutral week)
  • The heat is on (the candidate had a bad week)

    Slicing up this (Totally Insignificant)Week’s Contests

    No more contests until April 13th in Colorado!


    Who will be toasted first? Will Kerry turn the President into Texas Toast? Or will the President make French Toast out of Kerry?

  • Taegan Goddard notes Economy Better In Battleground States.
  • Some Dems worry about GOP play for more Hispanic votes.
  • Dave Wissing’s got the numbers.
  • James Joyner notes a Dick Morris piece that describes a Blowout in the Making. I agree with James: it is far too early to make such predictions.


  • Of course, the Clarke story was the story of the week. For mucho links and coverage go here and scroll. Meanwhile the The Belgravia Dispatch reports on what TNR is saying about Clarke this week, as well as what they said about him back on 11/5/01 (scroll down to “INTERESTING UPDATE"). Hat tip: Chris Lawrence. And Dan Drezner has the Clarke-Rice Smack-Down.
  • The next stage in the Clarke battle will be over the declassification of prior transcripts in a search for contradictory statements: GOP Leaders Seek Release of Clarke’s 2002 Testimony. Could the man have gotten better pub for his book?
  • Meanwhile, the Kerry campaign is trying to re-ignite the jobs issue: Kerry promises to create 10 million jobs, end tax loopholes
  • And, of course, a subtext to the jobs subject is that of outsourcing: Kerry’s Plan Targets ‘Benedict Arnolds’
  • Also rearing its ugly head this week, the silly politics of pettiness: Democrats Call Bush’s Comedy Skit Tasteless. Matthew Yglesias has reasonable response.
  • While it has not been a front-burner issue, I would predict that issues of force size, deployment times, and utiliziation of the National Guard will be part of the debate over the next several months: Personnel Crisis Looming, Army Spouses Say.
  • A shocker: Democrats Criticize Republican Budget Plan

    George W. Bush (The Heat’s On)

    Bush has been feeling some heat because of the Clarke brouhaha (Hat Tip: Betsy Newmark)-although Bush did pick up, partially a a result of the Clarke business, the endorsement of Dean Esmay.

  • No surprise here: Ga. Sen. Zell Miller blasts Kerry at ‘Democrats for Bush’ rally. Although this is interesting:
    “It’ll be easy to recruit Democrats in Florida,” said the state’s former Democratic lieutenant governor, Wayne Mixson, who joined Miller on a conference call Wednesday. “I was with a bunch of business people yesterday, and I’ve already got my quota if that’s all you want me to get.”

  • Kos wonders about The Myth of Bush’s Financial Advantage?

    John F. Kerry (The Heat’s On)

    Kerry started the week still on vacation in Idaho, but as Mark notes, interrupt his campaign schedule to vote against the fetus protection bill (after voting for it).

    The heat is still on, because he hasn’t recaptured the moment, and whatever heat Bush is feeling isn’t coming from the Kerry camp at this point. This week was clearly better for him than was last week. However, since he spent most of this week on vacation, that isn’t necessarily good news. Indeed, the fact that his silence worked in his favor mitigates, to some degree, whatever positiveness he might want to claim from the past seven days.

  • Kerry is relying on 527s for support in his campaign against Bush: Democratic Spending Is Team Effort.

  • Imagine that: Kerry, Dean Vow to Push Bush From Office.

    Returning to trail, Kerry gets backing of Dean, AFL-CIO.

  • However: Kerry, Dean ‘Like Oil and Water’.
  • Democrats Gather Stars and Cash for Kerry.

    Reports the Political Wire: Kerry Breaks Dean’s Record:

    Sen. John Kerry “raises $20 million in 20 days via the Internet, breaking records set by onetime rival Howard Dean,” the Wall Street Journal’s Washington Wire reports.

  • Where could they be? Kerry starts hunt for dollars to fight GOP’s attack ads

  • Democratic Party’s stars gather in D.C. to embrace Kerry.

    Democrats’ liberal lion boosts Kerry.

  • Dave Wissing notes the following BoGlo story: Kerry’s Five Homes Worth $33 Million.



  • Betsy Newmark notes a rumor that Kerry might choose Bob Kerrey. Kerry-Kerrey? Hmm. I have always had some admiration for Kerrey (indeed, I used to call him “scary Kerrey” because I thought he might could beat Bush, while simply called John “hairy Kerry” so as to differentiate them in conversations…).

    The Moldy Loaf

  • Very sweet: Kucinich rallies troops, envisions party of peace.
  • - Politics - Kucinich Reads Top 10 On Letterman Show (like I’ve said before: comic relief…).

    Sharpton defends campaign’s impact on Democrats.

  • Sharpton lists campaign goals. What? Staying in fancy hotels?

    Other Loaves

  • I’m shocked! Nader’s Image Slips In Survey.
  • Kos reports: GOP donors funding Nader.

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    • Outside the Beltway linked with Toast-O-Meter Update
    • Wizbang Sideblog linked with PoliBlog
    Friday, March 26, 2004
    Political Comics

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:07 pm

    I knew that Lex Luthor had somehow become President of the United States, and today, thumbing through some comics at the book store, I learn that Tony Stark is now SecDef.


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    By Steven Taylor @ 11:01 am

    Light-to-no blogging until late this afternoon/this evening.

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    Econ News

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:16 am

    Income Rises 0.4 Pct., Outpaces Spending.

    U.S. personal income growth outpaced consumer spending in February, the Commerce Department said on Friday, as shoppers cut back on their purchases of long-lasting durable goods.

    The department said personal income grew 0.4 percent in February, up from January’s revised 0.3 percent gain. Consumer spending, which accounts for about two-thirds of U.S. economic activity, rose by a less-than-expected 0.2 percent in the month.

    January spending was revised upward, however, to a 0.5 percent increase from the previously reported 0.4 percent advance.

    The February spending data may cause some Wall Street forecasters to downgrade their estimates of gross domestic product growth in the first quarter. Analysts had expected a stronger 0.4 percent gain in spending and a smaller 0.3 percent increase in incomes.

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    By Steven Taylor @ 9:11 am

    Blair Visits Qaddafi, Ending Libya’s Long Estrangement

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    Why Clarke Has a Problem

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:02 am

    Here’s the bottom line on Clarke: if one comes out and declare’s oneself the Great Bearer of Truth, then it is natural for one’s veracity and reliability to be questioned. And so, when persons like Senator Daschle claim that the White is simply trying to smear Clarke and not rebut him on the facts, I would note two things. First, when someone claims to bear witness to an event of great importance, it is not unusual to wish to know about the reliability of said witness. Second, I would disagree that all the the White House has done is question Clarke’s character, there have been substantive information released that have thrown serious doubts on Clarke’s account of things. Certainly the Shays letter and the attachments certainly call into question Clarke’s pre-911 positions.

    Indeed, Dean Esmay makes an excellent point about the White House’s defense:

    Face it, too: just by defending themselves against Clarke’s accusations, the Bushies look bad. This would be true of any administration of any party on almost any subject. They can either answer it, in which case they get mocked and look bad, or they can ignore it, in which case they look worse. And this would be true no matter what the subject was.

    The sad thing is that someone who was in his position undoubtedly could tell us quite a bit about what went wrong in our anti-terrorism approach. However, he seemed more bent (or, at least, the media seemed especially bent) on using a critique of the Bush administration’s pre-911 policy stances to criticize the war in Iraq. That is a non sequitur. Further, if what he really wanted to do was affect policy and bring to light failures of the system, I am not sure that writing a book was the best way to do it, Since part of the reason people write books (and by no means the only one) is to make money (and there is nothing wrong with that) it does tend to raises questions about motivations. Plus, the odds are that if one is going to write a book about oneself, the tendency is to present oneself in the best possible light-or, at least, in a distorted fashion.

    And the partisan filter in operation here is remarkable, and a tad sad in my opinion, as it demonstrates how we are all susceptible to our points of view short circuiting our judgement and reason. For example, Stephen Green and Kevin Drum are both smart guys, yet they can read this piece and have radically different responses. Or, Brad DeLong who sees impeachable offenses via Clarke’s book, while Glenn Reynolds sees someone who lacks credibility. It is rather difficult for all of those position to be equally correct.

    I think that Dan Drezner has had one of the fairest evaluation of Clarke, but it is still fairly negative, but then again perhaps I am predisposed to see a negative view as a fair one.

    On balance, these kinds of books, or even interviews with persons like Clarke, as I noted in a comment a few days ago, are problematic if what one wants is a true evaluation of a particular policy or set of events. One point of view is wholly insufficient. Further, since, as noted above, an individual is prone to see himself in a distorted way (either more positive or negative than is warranted), it is difficult to take one person’s account as the account. It certainly hardly rates as a comprehensive, dispassionate and scholarly approach to policy analysis.

    UPDATE: This is my entry in today’s Beltway Traffic Jam

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    • Signifying Nothing linked with Crank Yanks Clarke
    Thursday, March 25, 2004
    Fetus Protection Bill Passes the Senate

    By Steven Taylor @ 5:49 pm

    I am not surprised that it passed, but I am somewhat surprised at the margin: Senate Passes Fetus Protection Bill

    The Senate voted Thursday to make it a separate crime to harm a fetus during commission of a violent federal crime, a victory for those seeking to expand the legal rights of the unborn.

    The 61-38 vote on the Unborn Victims of Violence Act sends the legislation, after a five-year battle in Congress, to President Bush for his signature. The White House said in a statement that it “strongly supports protection for unborn children.” The House passed the bill last month.

    And Kerry voted for it and aginst it (kinda):

    The Senate cleared the way for passage with a 50-49 vote to defeat an amendment, backed by opponents of the bill, that would have increased penalties but maintained that an attack on a pregnant woman was a single-victim crime.

    Sen. John Kerry D-Mass., President Bush’s opponent this fall, interrupted his campaign schedule to vote yes on the one-victim amendment. He voted no on final passage.

    And, what a shame:

    “This would be the first time in federal law that an embryo or fetus is recognized as a separate and distinct person under the law, separate from the woman,” said NARAL president Kate Michelman. “Much of this is preparing for the day the Supreme Court has a majority that will overrule Roe v. Wade.”

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    • Mark the Pundit linked with Kerry Shows Up!
    • Right Wingin-It linked with No Suprise from Kerry. . .

    By Steven Taylor @ 4:08 pm

    Writes Pejman:

    Remember the common line that every Washington memoir can be subtitled If Only They Had Listened To Me, and you will go a long way towards understanding the basis and foundations for Clarke’s allegations.

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    Yet Even More on Clarke

    By Steven Taylor @ 3:16 pm

    Stephen Green points to this Time piece Richard Clarke, at War With Himself, in which Romesh Ratnesar notes

    While the discrepancies do not, on their own, discredit Clarke’s larger arguments, they do raise questions about whether Clarke’s eagerness to publicize his story and rip the Bush Administration have clouded his memory of the facts.

    Perhaps the most interesting element of the piece is how Ratnesar notes discrepancies between Clarke’s own book and Clarke’s various tv interviews.

    Most notablely:

    Perhaps Clarke’s most explosive charge is that on Sept. 12, President Bush instructed him to look into the possibility that Iraq had a hand in the hijackings. Here’s how Clarke recounted the meeting on 60 Minutes: “The President dragged me into a room with a couple of other people, shut the door and said, ‘I want you to find whether Iraq did this’…..the entire conversation left me in absolutely no doubt that George Bush wanted me to come back with a report that said, ‘Iraq did this.’” After Clarke protested that “there’s no connection,” Bush came back to him and said “Iraq, Saddam — find out if there’s a connection.” Clarke says Bush made the point “in a very intimidating way.” The next day, interviewed on PBS’ The NewsHour, Clarke sexed up the story even more. “What happened was the President, with his finger in my face, saying, ‘Iraq, a memo on Iraq and al-Qaeda, a memo on Iraq and the attacks.’ Very vigorous, very intimidating.” Several interviewers pushed Clarke on this point, asking whether it was all that surprising that the President would want him to investigate all possible perpetrators of the attacks. Clarke responded, “It would have been irresponsible for the president not to come to me and say, Dick, I don’t want you to assume it was al-Qaeda. I’d like you to look at every possibility to see if maybe it was al-Qaeda with somebody else, in a very calm way, with all possibilities open. That’s not what happened.”

    How does this square with the account of the same meeting provided in Clarke’s book? In that version, Clarke finds the President wandering alone in the Situation Room on Sept. 12, “looking like he wanted something to do.” Clarke writes that Bush “grabbed a few of us and closed the door to the conference room” — an impetuous move, perhaps, but hardly the image that Clarke depicted on television, of the President dragging in unwitting staffers by their shirt-collars. The Bush in these pages sounds more ruminative than intimidating: “I know you have a lot to do and all, but I want you, as soon as you can, to go back over everything, everything. See if Saddam did this. See if he’s linked in any way.” When Clarke responds by saying that “al-Qaeda did this,” Bush says, “I know, I know, but see if Saddam was involved. Just look. I want to know any shred…..” Again Clarke protests, after which Bush says “testily,” “Look into Iraq, Saddam.”

    Nowhere do we see the President pointing fingers at or even sounding particularly “vigorous” toward Clarke and his deputies. Despite Clarke’s contention that Bush wanted proof of Iraqi involvement at any cost, it’s just as possible that Bush wanted Clark to find disculpatory evidence in order to discredit the idea peddled by Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld that Baghdad had a hand in 9/11. In the aftermath of 9/11, Bush rejected Wolfowitz’s attempts to make Iraq the first front in the war on terror. And if the President of the United States spoke “testily ” 24 hours after the worst terrorist attack in U.S. history, well, can you blame him?

    And this is just plain bizarre:

    As for the President, Clarke doesn’t even try to read Bush’s body language; he just makes the encounters up. “I have a disturbing image of him sitting by a warm White House fireplace drawing a dozen red Xs on the faces of the former al-Qaeda corporate board…..while the new clones of al-Qaeda….are recruiting thousands whose names we will never know, whose faces will never be on President Bush’s little charts, not until it is again too late.” Clarke conjured up this chilling scene again on 60 Minutes. Only in this version he also manages to read Bush’s mind, and “he’s thinking that he’s got most of them and therefore he’s taken care of the problem.”

    Stephen is correct: the whole thing is worth your time.

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    You Have to Love a Guy With Convictions

    By Steven Taylor @ 12:13 pm

    “If it gets to the point, period, where you can’t cuss on TV, I’m moving to a different country.”

    - JONATHAN DAVIS, frontman for rock band Korn.

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    I Hate it When That Happens

    By Steven Taylor @ 12:04 pm

    Simmons Cited for Slapping Man at Airport

    Exercise guru Richard Simmons allegedly slapped a man who made a sarcastic remark about one of his videos, police said.

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    Slow Web Servers

    By Steven Taylor @ 11:38 am

    The Partido Liberal Colombian0 must have some of the slowest dang web servers in the Western Hemisphere.

    (Of course, the fact that I can even semi-access stuff in Colombia from my desk in Alabama means that I oughtn’t gripe.)

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    More Clarke

    By Steven Taylor @ 11:05 am

    The CSM has a linkful update on the Clarke story.

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    More US Personnel to Colombia?

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:36 am

    Bush Wants More Personnel in Colombia

    The Bush administration wants Congress to let it send more military and civilian personnel to Colombia to help it “deal a decisive blow against narco-terrorists,” Gen. James T. Hill, chief of the Southern Command, said at a House Armed Services Committee hearing.

    The administration wanted to raise the cap on U.S. personnel in Colombia to 800 military and 600 civilian contractors from the current 400 limit on each, Hill said. He said U.S. involvement in combat would still be banned.

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    Thank Goondess!

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:26 am

    Kerry Returns to Campaign Trail.

    Maybe we can stop talking about Clarke…

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    Drezner on Clarke

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:19 am

    Daniel W. Drezner has started reading Clarke’s book, and has some interesting comments. He also posits a hypothesis to explain Clarke’s behavior:

    it’s hard not to believe that Clarke’s evaluation of presidential performance is directly correlated with how well those presidents treated Clarke.

    Read the entire post.

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    Clarke Round-Up

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:59 am

    Glenn Reynolds has an excellent summation of the Clarke situation, specifically as to his credibility, which is well encapsulated by this:

    The other possibility is that Clarke held an important national security job for years while being dumb as a post, so dumb that he would write a book making explosive accusations against the White House while knowing - or forgetting? - that all sorts of contradictory evidence was on the record and bound to come out. Otherwise, wouldn’t he at least have tried to explain this stuff up front?

    As I’ve said before, I think there’s a lot to complain about regarding pre-9/11 antiterror policy, by both Clinton and Bush. (Read this piece by Gerald Posner). And a lot of people probably should have been fired. But Clarke is now saying that his real problem is with the invasion of Iraq, even as he focuses on pre-9/11 events.

    A useful critique would be nice, but Clarke seems to be producing incoherent grandstanding.

    I still maintain that the main issue here is media coverage of the event, and there can be no doubt that they have made the 911 hearings seem as if they were created just so that Richard Clarke could tell us how the Bush administration fouled up.

    Yet, given the glaring inconsistencies in his own record, one wonders why the media haven’t made that part of the story.

    As Chris Lawrence rightly notes

    the general reaction to today’s Richard Clarke testimony can be summed up as something of a redux of the David Kay testimony a few months back: everyone was able to take away something to reinforce their preexisting views, and a few blowhard politicos got to spend a lot of time listening to themselves talk.

    although I will say that Kay was far easier to take seriously than Clarke. And I would also add that if Chris is correct, then the mainstream media reaction is telling.

    And again, it is difficult to disaggregate Clarke from the coverage of Clarke. For while the press yesterday kept noting how Clarke said:

    Under questioning, Clarke said the Clinton administration had “no higher priority” than combatting terrorists while the Bush administration made it “an important issue but not an urgent issue” in the months before Sept. 11, 2001.

    they did not at all question the statement. Nor did they play Powell, Albright, Tenet , et al. clips over and over as they did Clarke’s. Why? Likely because they all largely agreed that mistakes were made, but they didn’t finger one administration over another.

    Yet, as Dean Esmay points out:

    I noticed this AP [same as the one noted above-,Ed.] story this morning. The first paragraph:
    For a dozen years, he worked quietly in the shadows of the White House. But Richard Clarke stole the spotlight at an extraordinary series of hearings into the Sept. 11 attacks, claiming President Bush hadn’t done enough to protect the country from terrorists.
    Then, almost two dozen paragraphs appear after that, all talking about how people were congratulating and high-fiving Clarke for his bravery, and talking about how Republicans seemed to be upset and questioning his objectivity while Democrats praised him.

    Then, the very last two lines, buried at the very bottom of the story where most people will never read to the end of

    Former Republican Sen. Slade Gorton asked Clarke if there was “the remotest chance” that the attacks could have been prevented if the Bush administration had adopted his aggressive counterterrorism recommendations upon taking office in January 2001.

    “No,” Clarke said.

    “No,” Clarke said.

    That’s the very last line of the story. “No,” Clarke said.

    However, is that the way the press is covering the story?

    The idea that the Clinton administration had terrorism as their top priority doesn’t track very well. For one thing, there seemed to be precious little response to terrorism under the Clinton administration, and that which existed was more along the lines of law enforcement. Further, the Shays letter clearly demonstrates that Clarke wasn’t exaclty Mr. Fixit on this topic, despite the fact that it was his job.

    Not to mention the fact that Clarke’s own words from 2002 contradict some of his testimony, including the quote above about the Clinton administration:

    QUESTION: What is your response to the suggestion in the [Aug. 12, 2002] Time [magazine] article that the Bush administration was unwilling to take on board the suggestions made in the Clinton administration because of animus against the — general animus against the foreign policy?

    CLARKE: I think if there was a general animus that clouded their vision, they might not have kept the same guy dealing with terrorism issue. This is the one issue where the National Security Council leadership decided continuity was important and kept the same guy around, the same team in place. That doesn’t sound like animus against uh the previous team to me.

    JIM ANGLE: You’re saying that the Bush administration did not stop anything that the Clinton administration was doing while it was making these decisions, and by the end of the summer had increased money for covert action five-fold. Is that correct?

    CLARKE: All of that’s correct.


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    Wednesday, March 24, 2004
    Shays on Clarke

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:56 pm

    Betsy Newark points to a letter (dated today) to the 911 commission by Representative Chris Shays (R-CT), Chair of the Committee on Government Reform’s Subcommittee on Nataional Security, Veterans Affairs and International Relations. And, yes, Shays is a Republican, but not the most conservative in the lot, and no firebrand.

    The letter is in PDF and for some reason I am having trouble capturing text. However, the letter and the attachments are worth a read. Clearly, Shays is none too impressed with Mr. Clarke, noting, among other things that “Mr. Clarke said it would be ’silly’ to articulate a national strategy” to fight terrorism and that “In lieu of a threat assessent or stratgey, he offered a laundry list of terrorist groups, as if the fight against global terrorism were nothing more than a hunt for common criminals.” Shays asserts that “Clarke was part of the problem before September 11 because he took too narrow a view of the terrorism threat.”

    He does note that Clarke was obsessed with al Qaeda, but not with their support mechanisms (i.e., states and terror networks in general).

    Indeed, Shays notes that he wrote a letter to Condoleeza Rice on January 22, 2001 to “express our concerns about Mr. Clarke’s narrow view of the terrorist threat and the urgency of mounting a strategic response.” The PDF linked above contains that letter (and some other materials). In that letter Shays outlines his concerns concering what he saw was Clarke’s lack of interest in a comprehensive approach to the terrorist question.

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    Clarke Clears Things Up

    By Steven Taylor @ 5:35 pm

    In his testimony today Clarke stated that he was never untruthful when he served in the White House, and that the only difference between the info in the transcript noted earlier and his book is one of “tone” and “emphasis.”


    (If Brett (scroll down) still wants to send me a copy of Clarke’s book, I will look forward to reading it… ;)

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    A Problem with Books

    By Steven Taylor @ 4:41 pm

    I love books. However, being as accustomed as I am to using the ‘net, I am to the point where when I am doing research I bemoan the inability to do a “search” on a book I am reading. The index is a woeful substitute.

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    Even More Blogospheric Changes

    By Steven Taylor @ 3:19 pm

    First the IA and then Cam, now Jay and Deb have closed down their blogs: that’s the bad news. The good news is that they are starting a joint blog: Accidental Verbosity.

    (and my thanks for not only being linked to the new site, but being labeled an “Obsession")

    Hat tip: OTB

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    That’s a Lot of Blow

    By Steven Taylor @ 2:20 pm

    Coast Guard says cutter crew seized 14½ tons of cocaine

    The Coast Guard said Tuesday it seized more than 14½ tons of cocaine from fishing boats off the coasts of Mexico and Ecuador, the most ever found by a cutter during a single patrol.


    The drugs had an estimated street value of $264 million.

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    More on Clarke and the Coverage of the Story

    By Steven Taylor @ 2:01 pm

    A background briefing that Clarke gave to the press in 2002 seems to vitiate his testimony today.

    Dodd Harris and Rosemary Esmay are both discussing this.

    Further, one would think that good journalist would use this kind of info in reporting the Clarke story.

    UPDATE: Stephen Green and Glenn Reynolds have weighed in as well.

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    Blame Games, Lone Rangers, and Freudian Slips at MSNBC

    By Steven Taylor @ 1:51 pm

    Glenn Reynolds wants to know why Bush didn’t deploy the Texas Rangers (no, not the baseball team-they would’ve gotten their butts kicked) to Afghanistan in 1998. Further, he wish to know why Bush didn’t stop his campaign to personally respond to Cole bombing, not to mention why he didn’t take a bullet for Lincoln.

    Hat tip: OTB.

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    By Steven Taylor @ 1:41 pm

    The following is not surprising:

    Further, both could change. If we are attacked, and the Bush administration is seen as supable, look for that number to plummet. Further, if the economy continues to grow, Bush will be helped in the jobs number.

    On balance, I would argue that these numbers help Bush, as I still thik that the security issues will be the topic for most swing-voters.

    The whole story is here.

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    Clarke on the Hill

    By Steven Taylor @ 1:32 pm

    Said Clarke today:

    …the United States was too timid in its policy toward al Qaeda and accused the Bush administration of failing to treat terrorism as an urgent matter before the Sept. 11 attacks.

    If one looks at the timeline I just posted, I would argue that one has to argue that to single out just the Bush administration for being too timid regarding al Qaeda is to ignore a great deal of recent history.

    Here’s the sound bite of the day:

    “The Bush administration saw terrorism policy as important but not urgent, prior to 9/11,”

    Regardless of how Clarke intended that statement, it is clearly being spun that Bush should have done more, and therefore 911 is at least partially his fault. I can guarantee you that is how Terry McAuliffe will present it.

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    Timeline of Terrorism

    By Steven Taylor @ 1:24 pm

    USAT provides the following timeline:

    Feb. 26, 1993: Attack: A truck bomb explodes at the World Trade Center in New York City; six are killed, and more than 1,000 are injured.

    June 1995: President Clinton issues a directive declaring terrorism “a potential threat to national security” and pledging to “deter and pre-empt” would-be terrorists.

    Early 1995: Ramzi Yousef, suspected mastermind of the World Trade Center bombing, is arrested in Pakistan and sent to the USA for trial.

    Nov. 1995: Attack: A van bombing at Army training headquarters in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, kills seven people, including five Americans, and injures 31.

    Jan. 1996: The U.S. government asks Qatar for help in capturing Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, suspected of plotting to plant bombs on U.S. airliners, but he disappears. He later becomes a key planner of the Sept. 11 attacks.

    May 1996: Osama bin Laden leaves Sudan for Afghanistan before he can be expelled.

    June 25, 1996: Attack: A truck bomb destroys the Khobar Towers in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia; 19 Americans are killed, and 372 are injured.

    Aug. 1996: Bin Laden issues a public declaration of jihad against U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia.

    Feb. 1998: Bin Laden expands his public declaration for Muslims to kill Americans, military or civilian, anywhere in the world.

    Spring 1998: The Saudi government thwarts an effort by bin Laden to attack U.S. forces there.

    May 1998: The Clinton administration issues a new directive on terrorism; Clinton designates CIA Director George Tenet to work with the Saudis on terrorism.

    Aug. 7, 1998: Attack: Near-simultaneous truck bombings at U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania kill more than 200 and injure more than 4,500.

    Aug. 20, 1998: Clinton orders cruise-missile strikes on terrorist training camps in Afghanistan and suspected sites in Sudan.

    Sept. 1998: The Taliban’s leader, Mullah Mohammed Omar, reneges on a promise to expel bin Laden from Afghanistan.

    Dec. 1998: Intelligence places bin Laden in Kandahar, Afghanistan, but no strikes are ordered because of fears about the quality of intelligence and possible civilian casualties.

    Feb. 1999: A military strike against bin Laden in Afghanistan is aborted because of the presence of officials from the United Arab Emirates.

    May 1999: Another opportunity to strike bin Laden in Afghanistan is missed following concerns about intelligence and civilian casualties.

    Dec. 1999: A man allegedly planning to bomb Los Angeles International Airport is arrested in Port Angeles, Wash.

    Oct. 12, 2000: Attack: An explosive-laden boat rams the USS Cole in the harbor in Aden, Yemen; 17 U.S. sailors are killed, and 39 are injured.

    Sept. 10, 2001: Officials agree on a three-year, three-phase strategy to remove bin Laden from Afghanistan and overthrow the Taliban.

    Sept. 11, 2001: Attack: Hijacked jets flown into World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a Pennsylvania field; almost 3,000 are killed.

    I would add October 1993 and the Blackhawk Down incident.

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    Things That are Annoying

    By Steven Taylor @ 1:04 pm

    Spending almost ten minutes trying to figure out why your DSL connection is down, even though the modem and router appear to be working properly only to find out that the ethernet cable had been accidentally pulled out of the back of your laptop.

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    On Colombia, Balloon Effects and Trade

    By Steven Taylor @ 11:34 am

    The BBC Reports:

    The US on Monday praised Colombia for cutting production of coca, the raw material for cocaine, by 21% last year.

    The report by US officials seems likely to herald a further aid grant from Washington, albeit with conditions attached, analysts say.

    However, the BBC’s Jeremy McDermott in Bogota says the US report sidesteps the fact that coca production is up in Bolivia and that farmers in Colombia are changing the nature of coca cultivation.

    This is what I figured to be the case. It is a classic example of the Balloon Effect (i.e., the eradication of coca cultivation in one locale simply pushes it to another: like squeezing the air out of one part of balloon: the balloon just bulges out in a different place).

    Also interesting:

    Colombia’s president has said formal talks on a free trade deal with the United States will begin on 19 May

    Essentially we are negotiating FTAA one country at a time (sort of bilateral multilateralism-which is how we did NAFTA, for that matter, but with less actors).

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    Pic of the Day

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:13 am


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    It’s Career Change Week in the Blogosphere

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:21 am

    Cam Edwards has left radio (thanks for having me as guest a couple of times, by the way) and has taken a job in Washington, D.C. His blog will continue, however.

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    Good Luck to the Invisible Adjunct

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:15 am

    The Invisible Adjunct is leaving the Academy and the Blogosphere. Having been unable to secure a full time teaching position, she has decided it is time to move on.

    I wish her luck.

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    By Steven Taylor @ 9:05 am

    Mathhew Yglesias asks an amusing, and brief, question about Democrats getting tough. I think he is correct and actually gets to the heart of what I think is one of the Democrats main problems (as it was in 2002 as well).

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    Deliberation Day

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:03 am

    Brendan Conway, in today’s OpionJournal, takes Professors Bruce Ackerman (Yale Law School) and James Fishkin (University of Texas Department of Government, Stanford University (see comment below)) to task for their suggestion that what the US needs is more deliberation in our democracy:

    they propose a new national holiday, Deliberation Day, to make America’s citizenry worthy of its own democratic aspirations. DDay calls for citizens to assemble in public buildings, listen to televised statements by major candidates, hear local activists and converse with one another according to rules designed to maximize civility and shame spoilers. No voting takes place, only deliberation. And there is no need to add a day off to the nation’s calendar for all this worthy effort. We can simply cannibalize a current holiday, like Presidents Day.

    I know, it all sounds like too much fun. But still, a few stragglers may prefer to stay away. How to motivate them? “Each deliberator will be paid $150 for the day’s work of citizenship.” With a turnout of 50 million Americans, the cost of DDay would be about $7.5 billion. A small price, say Messrs. Ackerman and Fishkin, for a citizenry more familiar with candidates and the positions they take.

    The reason?

    they do believe that ordinary people-left, right or center-are too uninformed to govern themselves meaningfully, let alone teach at a university. “If six decades of modern public opinion research establish anything,” they write, “it is that the general public’s political ignorance is appalling by any standard.”

    The entire discussion is dealt with rather derisively by Conway. And, to be honest, I can’t disagree with his criticism of the idea of Deliberation Day (not to mention the whole idea of paying $7.5 billion for it). However, I think he misses the idea that it is the case that most Americans are, indeed, woefully ignorant of how their government works, and about politics in general. The question, of course, is what, if anything, should (and can) be done about it?

    I am well familiar with Dr. Fishkin’s idea of deliberative polling (more here and the new CDD home with more info is here), as he was the Chair of the Department of Government at the University of Texas when I was a student there, and I had him for a class probably in the 91-92 academic year. He has been working on this idea of deliberation since at least that point, and I was at UT when he held his deliberative poll in 1994. The basic premise is: if you give people more information, it tends to change their opinions (and, further, the idea that citizens, in general, have insufficient information about politics). Now, I can’t disagree with either premise (nor is either all that controversial).

    The question, as I note above: what to do about it? I thought at the time, and concur with Conway, that this particular approach is remarkably paternalistic (and optimistic, for that matter, if not idealistic). For one thing, the idea that otherwise disinterested citizens can be paid to become informed strikes me as unlikely, and, further, the idea that it could be done in one day (or two days, as with the 94 experiment) strikes me as absurd. There is also the problem of what will be told to the citizens-for-hire during that 24 hour period. I know for a fact that both Ackerman and Fishkin are both rather focused on the issue of distrbutive justice (read: economic distribution) in the context of the liberal state (and not, specifically a classical liberal state but the liberal-welfare state that emerges as a strain of liberalism in the twentieth century). For example, Ackerman’s Social Justice in the Liberal State (1980) while well-written, highly readable, and fun to discuss in class, is a remarkably impractical (and, to me, utterly unpersuasive) attempt to justify economic egalitarianism (at least at the start of each generation). And yes, that is an overly simplified version of the book-however, the basic argument of the book can easily be encapsulated in the following: “I am just as good as you are, so I should get at least as much.”

    But, back to deliberation: the idea that it is the government’s job to foster deliberation strikes me as idealistic and an imposition. Further, the idea that having a one day a year paid (by tax dollars) holiday in which the government will provide (directly or through proxies) is positively Orwellian in its potential.

    Plus, don’t citizens have the right to be uparticipatory, and indeed, ignorant of government and politics if they want to be? If they decide it isn’t worth their time, why should the government step in and try to “correct” their behavior?

    Further, if we want better citizens, how about just providing better and more complete American Government classes in High School? How about having someone other than the basketball coach teach government and history? These seem more auspicious places to start.

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    Refreshing (and Somewhat Surprising)

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:17 am

    From Players in Blame Game, Little Offense

    If blame is the Washington sport, then Day One of the new round of 9/11 commission hearings was structured like the Super Bowl.


    But the players did not clash. Despite some sniping and testiness, the surprising theme was unity.

    Democrats and Republicans alike - past and present secretaries and deputy secretaries of state and defense - spoke little of Clinton vs. Bush and lots about Before vs. After.

    And this is clearly the case. Everyone can look back through the lenses of 911 and argue that what was done after the attack could have been done before, but clearly this is not the case:

    At the time, said the Democrat Albright, “it was very hard to get congressional support for military action . . . because I think there was a whole question about how serious this all was.”

    Republican Rumsfeld echoed thus: “Unfortunately, history shows that it can take a tragedy like 9/11 to awaken the world to a new threat.”

    I will say, however, that less extreme measures than invading Afghanistan could have been undertaken, as I still argue that the there was insufficient responses to a series of attacks in the 1990s (e.g., the first WTC attack, the Cole, the African embassies and the Khobar Towers). Although, really, less than placing blame, I would argue that there is a lesson in the past which is that lack of response can lead to heightened attacks.

    One can disagree with the logic, but that is a substantial portion of the reason that the Bush administration began thinking pre-emptively: the idea that trying to remove the conditions that would allow for the growth of terrorist and their capabilities, rather than waiting and dealing with the perpetrators of an attack after it takes place.

    Indeed, this is the crux of the military v. criminal justice paradigms in the war on terror, in my opinion: do you act before or after you are attacked? Of course, the problem with pre-emptive action is that you have to base your decisions as to whom you will attack on intelligence and surmise-and thefore can make mistakes-while the cj approach allows you to at least know that an attack did take place. Both approaches have a price-I simply prefer paying the former, rather than the latter.

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    Tuesday, March 23, 2004
    Some Views on Some Software I am Trying

    By Steven Taylor @ 11:14 pm

    My compugeek odyssey continues, as I am trying Firefox, Thunderbird and w.Bloggar. Here are some initial reactions:


  • I love how you can open a new page in a new tab and it loads in the background. Very, very nice.
  • Keeps the nifty little icons in the url that IE loses for no good reason.
  • The list of extensions is quite spiffy.
  • Sometimes it says that it has downloaded an extension, but it hasn’t.

    I am pretty much sold on this as my main browser.


    Things I Like

  • The junk mail filter looks to be quite a bit better than OE. Indeed, it was doing a decent job of filtering even without any training. I will know for sure how well it works in a few days.
  • I like the ability to better customize each account (like checking some accounts more frequently than others).
  • The ability to access the properties by right-clicking the account from the accounts pane.
  • The OE import worked without any problem.


  • I don’t like the name: it evokes cheap wine, or, at best, a Ford automobile.
  • I wish when I marked a e-mail as “not junk” that it would automatically move out of the junk folder to the inbox.
  • There needs to be an easier way to fix a password.
  • I would like to be able to actually manage my passwords from the password manager, rather than just using it to reset the password.
  • It needs a “check all” button without having to add an extension (although the extension process does allow for such things to be addressed, which is nice).
  • Super nitpick: it needs a better icon than a plain envelope.

    I have already made it my default e-mail client on a trial basis.


  • Beats writing long posts in Word and then cutting and pasting.

  • Is better than using the MT window.
  • Makes composting posts easier.
  • The spellchecker and various buttons are quite nice.
  • Although I still miss my right-click MT It! tool.

    Using it for only part of a day I am quite impressed and it may become my main blogging tool.

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    Intriguing: Clarke Praised Bush in Resignation Letter, Specifically About How Bush Dealt with 911

    By Steven Taylor @ 5:17 pm

    From the Miami Herald: Clarke Praises Bush in Resignation Letter

    The White House, seeking to cool criticism from a former top anti-terror adviser, said Tuesday that Richard Clarke’s resignation letter praised President Bush’s “courage, determination, calm and leadership” on Sept. 11, 2001.

    “It has been an enormous privilege to serve you these last 24 months,” said the Jan. 20, 2003, letter from Clarke to Bush. “I will always remember the courage, determination, calm, and leadership you demonstrated on September 11th.”

    The letter was stamped “the president has seen” the next day.

    Clarke, who left the Bush administration in March 2003 after 30 years in government service and 11 years at the White House, has written a book in which he criticizes the president and his administration for ignoring repeated warnings about al-Qaida before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and acting ineffectively afterward, primarily because of a preoccupation with Iraq.

    But I thought Bush was intimidating Clarke into giving him the answers he wanted immediately after 911?

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    By Steven Taylor @ 1:24 pm

    This is a test of w.Bloggar.

    UPDATE: Hmm, rather interesting. I may give this a try along with my testing of Firefox and Thunderbird.

    I still need to find a right-click MT It! tool for Firefox.

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    Adios, Mr. Tony

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:10 am

    In case you didn’t know, this is Tony Kornhesier’s last week on ESPN Radio.

    I don’t listen all that often (indeed, I am normally in class during the two hours that he is on in the Montgomery market on MWF and part of the time on TTH or am working on something that precludes listening to talk radio), but Kornheiser is one of my favorite talk radio hosts, regardless of genre.

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    Coca Eradication

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:37 am

    To be honest, I find this a tad difficult to believe:

    The Bush administration released eradication estimates on Monday showing solid progress in wiping out coca crops in the Andean region, prompting some officials to predict that by the end of this year there will be no significant plantations of mature plants to feed Colombia’s cocaine production.

    And if it is the case, I expect that all that will happen is the migration of cultivation either back to Peru and Bolivia, or to other parts of Colombia.

    I also wonder as to the ability of the FARC to recruit in these areas, given that the aerial defoliation does no differentiate between coca plants and other crops (they dump glyphosate, a.k.a., RoundUp on the plants). Not to mention that many of the growers of the coca are poor peasant farmers in the first place.

    The real test, of course, is whether this actually does result in decreased supply on the streets of the US. My prediction is that it will not.

    Source: U.S. Announces Gains in Eradicating Andean Coca

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    For He’s a Bemused Fellow, For He’s a Bemused Fellow…

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:23 am

    Congrats to Mark Hasty of Bemusement Park for his one-year Blogiversary.

    And Mark has promised that “the best is yet to come” so give a visit and keep him to his promise.

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    Ijaz on Clarke

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:17 am

    James Joyner excerpts a lenghthy response by Mansoor Ijaz to Clarke’s accusations regarding the Bush admininstration’s attention to al Qaeda.

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    More on the Clarke Buzz

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:50 am

    In many ways the issue is less Clarke or the specifics of his book than it is the political effects of the book and specifically two things: 1) How will the media cover it? and 2) How will the oposition spin the soundbites and book excerpts?

    Clearly, neither the press (whether it be pro-, anti- or neurtral on Iraq/Bush) nor the Kerry camp will go through a painstaking analysis of Clarke’s thesis, argument and evidence. Instead, a set of storylines and templates will emerge from the overall story, and that is what we will be treated to (just like the O’Neil book). These storylines tend to develop based on around two or three lines or passages from a given book.

    And clearly one of those storylines is as I have outlined below.

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    Monday, March 22, 2004
    A Question

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:05 pm

    Why does it have to be the case (with both the O�Neil and Clarke stories, just to name two), that the only possible explanation that Bush went to war with Iraq because of some deranged reaction to 911, and that further that from the moment of the attack he was scheming and planning o how to get Saddam?

    Why is it not a reasonable position that Bush, after 911, began to formulate a foreign policy view of the world in which he saw 1) Iraq as a potential threat, and 2) a place where an example could be made and, 3) (hopefully) a secular quasi-democracy which could be built in the Middle East, all for the purpose of fighting terrorism?

    Now, one can think this a poor, indeed a ridiculous, set of policy choices. One could critique specific elements of the policy. One could say that there were better ways to use our resources. So (and here�s the main question): why don�t we have a public argument about those issues, rather than going on about the President�s �lies� or these stories about how the President simply planned to go to Iraq because of 911, and everything else was just subterfuge?

    Doesn�t Occam�s Razor dictate that Bush went to war with Iraq essentially for the reasons he said he went to war, rather than these tortured attempts to cast the policy as some delusional fantasy?

    (Okay, end of rant)

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    I Can Tell I am Going to Tire of this Clarke Story Rather Quickly

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:37 pm

    OK, from this story, News Analysis: An Accuser�s Insider Status Puts the White House on the Defensive, we get:

    Mr. Clarke has put the White House squarely on the defensive again. He paints a scene that it is easy to imagine turning up with spooky music in a Kerry commercial as evidence of Mr. Bush’s determination to invade Iraq. On Sept. 12, 2001, Mr. Clarke writes, Mr. Bush approached him in the White House Situation Room and three times asked him to “look into” whether Iraq had been involved in the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

    “And in a very intimidating way, I mean, that we should come back with that answer,” Mr. Clarke elaborated in an interview on the CBS program “60 Minutes” on Sunday night.

    I read a similar quote earlier this afternoon as I glanced at a newspaper, and the following kinds of questions emerge:

    1) Is it really all that insane for someone to think, on 9/12/01, that Saddam might have been involved? Indeed, I know people who totally opposed the Iraq war whose initial reaction on 911 was that Iraq might be involved. Didn’t we all think that at least once?

    2) I suspect that on 9/12/01 Bush was a tad intimidating. He was probably on the angry side.

    3) There is one major, gigantic, huge, etc. hole in this argument that Bush was hell-bent on blaming Iraq and attacking Iraq: and that is, we didn’t attack Iraq immediately after 911. If Bush was indeed myopically focused on Iraq, and was either too stupid to understand anything else, or was willing to lie to get at Iraq, why didn’t we just launch a war on Iraq in 2001? Answer: the President wasn’t blindly gunning for Iraq.

    And a follow-up, while I understand that the administration believed that there were al Qaeda ties to the Saddam regime (a debatable, but not insane notion), we did not launch a war a year ago on the argument that Saddam was responsible for 911.

    This whole: “see! Bush was just looking for an excuse to attack Iraq and used 911 to do it” simply lack a logical foundation. There are numerous routes by which to argue with the administration’s Iraq policy, indeed its entire foreign agenda, but this isn’t one of them.

    Further, in the quote I read this afternoon, Clarke says that he insisted to the President (again, on 9/12) that it was clearly al Qaeda. Now, not only is that a self-serving quote (basically noting how he was the rational one, and the President a raving loon), but how can an intelligence analyst, one day after an attack be rock-solid 100% that he has all the answers? It is ludicrous.

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    What a Shame

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:20 pm

    Airline Halts Plan for Lip-Shaped Urinals.

    I’m heartbroken.

    And is it just me, or do these things more evoke Mick Jagger than anything else?

    (Yes, that’s right-nothing from me for over twleve hours and you get a urinal post…).

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    By Steven Taylor @ 7:48 am

    No more blogging until tonight-it is Spring Break and today is a family outing. The rest of the week I will be chained to the desk working on a symposium paper, so blogging will otherwise be normal-ish the rest of the week.

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    By Steven Taylor @ 7:47 am

    No, not the 1980 Cold War flick with Clint Eastwood stealing a state-of-the-art fighter jet from the Soviets (yes, in retrospect, the idea that the Russians would have tech that we would want seems a bit quaint, if not silly, but it was a good movie…).

    No, I am talking about Mozilla Firefox, their new browser, the descendant (kinda) of Netscape. Now, the last time I was impressed with Netscape the year was probably 1995, and while I have tried Opera and the various new version of Netscape over the years, I have always been quite happy with IE. However, the combo of being interested in Mozilla’s new mail client, Thunderbird, and the my inner computer-geek need to try new stuff, I tried out Firefox yesterday and have been impressed.

    I decided to get it a try because of all the security problems with IE and especially with OE. Further, PC Mag was impressed with Thunderbird’s spam filter-plus, since most of these e-mail virii and worms mostly target Miscorsoft products, it seemed like may be a change was in order. I have not fooled much with Thunderbird yet-I will give a review of it later.

    However, I have messed with Firefox, and have been pleased.

    A lot of other people are impressed as well, it would seem. Forbes is impressed as well, as is the tech writer at the Houston Chronicle.

    Joel on Software has one of the more glowing reviews.

    It seems to render pages faster (certainly it loads pages in a differnt order than IE) and I like all the nifty extensions and the tabbed browsing. I also like the pop-up blocking.

    My main problem are my MT tools. The MT posting window lack the B i u and url buttons, and I also don’t know if I can get by without my right-click MT It! tool. Is there anyone out there who knows of Firefox-ready MT tools? I have looked some, but not much.

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    • Signifying Nothing linked with Firefox Redux
    Sunday, March 21, 2004
    Site Info

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:35 pm

    I know I owe some folks some links, and said I would do it today, but I simply didn’t get to it-but I will update over the next day or so.

    Also: thanks to Chris Lawrence who figured out the problem with my individual archive template-it is now fixed. Thanks for the tip, Chris!

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    By Steven Taylor @ 9:09 pm

    Ok, Alabama over Stanford was a shocker, but UAB over Kentucky?


    Does anyone have a correct bracket at this point?

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    Sistani Causing More Problems

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:15 pm

    Iraq’s Sistani Warns UN Not to Back Constitution

    The United Nations (news - web sites) must not endorse Iraq (news - web sites)’s U.S.-backed interim constitution because it could lead to the break-up of the occupied country, Iraq’s most influential Shi’ite Muslim cleric said.

    Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani said he will boycott a U.N. team expected to visit Iraq shortly to advise on forming an interim government unless the United Nations says it will not back the interim constitution.

    Didn’t the guy agree to letting the constitution go into force in the first place? While I am not sure what can be done, he is clearly an impediment to progress.

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    Colombian President to Visit DC

    By Steven Taylor @ 2:50 pm

    President Uribe of Colombia to Visit Washington

    The President will welcome President Alvaro Uribe to the White House for a meeting on March 23. The President looks forward to discussing with President Uribe the many ways we can work together to further strengthen our partnership and achieve our common goals with respect to security, trade, and justice.

    Look for a lot of anti-terrorism rhetoric from both Presidents, especially Uribe, who knows that the key to additional funding is strengthening the likage between the FARC and AUC to terrorism.

    Indeed, terrorism is the new communism: the best way to get the US to support your country’s policies is to be part of the war on terror, the same way it used to be the case that to get funding and support one had to be a staucnh anti-communist.

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    More on Clarke, Iraq, Rumsfeld and the Administration

    By Steven Taylor @ 2:24 pm

    One more comment on the pasage from the Stahl interview that Brad DeLong quotes:

    Clarke was surprised that the attention of administration officials was turning toward Iraq when he expected the focus to be on al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden. “They were talking about Iraq on 9/11. They were talking about it on 9/12,” says Clarke. The top counter-terrorism advisor, Clarke was briefing the highest government officials, including President Bush and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks.
    which Brad thinks shows “the national security side of the Bush administration is an even more disgraceful clown show than the domestic policy side as told by Paul O’Neill to Ron Suskind in The Price of Loyalty.”

    However, I would note the following:

  • Given that we soon turned out attention to al Qaeda and ended up bombing Afghanistan, it is rather obvious that even if the initial reaction was Iraq, the administration didn’t stay there.
  • Again, consulting Woodward’s Bush at War, “Cheney thus joined Powell, Tenet and Card in opposing action on Iraq. Rumsfeld had not committed. To anyone keeping a tally, it was 4 to 0 with Rumsfeld abstaining” (91).

    So, where’s the evidence of this hellbent focus on Iraq exclusively? And also, since Brad wants to impeach Cheney, it seems that even he wasn’t on the “we have t get Iraq now” bandwagon, so the argument that the Clarke revelations are some bombshell continues to strike me as a weak proposition.

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    Get Ready for the Clarke Fall-Out -or- This Isn’t as New a Revelation as it May Seem

    By Steven Taylor @ 2:05 pm

    Both Brad DeLong and Ogged seem to think that the revelations in the upcoming Clarke book (and the 60 Minutes interview tonight) that Rumsfeld wanted to bomb Iraq not long after 911 are impressive, and dare I say, explosive (pun intended, so shoot me-or bomb me…).

    However, this passage

    “Rumsfeld was saying we needed to bomb Iraq…. We all said, ‘but no, no. Al Qaeda is in Afghanistan,” recounts Clarke, “and Rumsfeld said, ‘There aren’t any good targets in Afghanistan and there are lots of good targets in Iraq.’ I said, ‘Well, there are lots of good targets in lots of places, but Iraq had nothing to do with [the September 11 attacks].’”

    is nothing radically new. If one consults Bob Woodward’s Bush at War, publishes in 2002, one finds similar stuff. Chapter 6 details a meeting at Camp David in which the President asks for options, and Rumsfeld is seen arguing for Iraq as a consideration in terms of retaliation for 911. I would specifically note 84-85, which includes this passage:

    When the group reconvened, Rumsfeld asked, Is this the time to attack Iraq? He noted that there would be a big buildup of forces in the region and he was still deeply worried about the availability of good targets in Afghanistan.

    So, Bush-critics may get all excited about the Clarke book, but at least based on the stuff DeLong and Ogged posted, there isn’t anything new here.

    So, aside from any arguments about merit, my question is: what’s the startling revelation? And what is the impeachable offense the DeLong (and Ogged) are arguing for here? Where is the bribery, treason or other high crimes or misdemeanors?

    Brad’s a smart guy, and he knows full well you cannot, and do not, impeach Presidents over policy disagreements�rather, you defeat them for re-election (or try to) on those grounds. And for that matter, surely he doesn’t believe that the only reason we attacked Iraq was because it had good targets, and he bases that argument on the quote noted above? This strikes me as a rather weak argument.

    And for that matter, if the President was willing to simply bomb the place with the better targets, why didn’t he just do so in the 2001 rather than going after Afghanistan? Clearly the policy process was a tad more complicated than is being argued by my blogging colleagues.

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    • Wizbang linked with Why I love the blogosphere
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    • Backcountry Conservative linked with Clarke's Interview
    • Ipse Dixit linked with What's New?
    • Signifying Nothing linked with Clarke

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:33 am

    Can’t say I am sorry to see it go.

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    By Steven Taylor @ 9:40 am

    This piece is supposed to have run in today’s Mobile Register. However, their web woes continue, and so there is no e-version. So, here’s the submitted version in its unedited splendor:

    Reality TV

    Eight. Long. Months. That is how long we have to watch the newest reality TV show that is all the rage on all the nets: Bush v. Kerry. We have a long wait to find out whether President Bush is voted off the island or not, and so can look forward to an ongoing version of political smack-down over the public airwaves.

    Even hard-core political junkies may grow tired of the contest.

    This year�s presidential campaign is unique for two reasons. The first is that this year marks the earliest that the opposition party has been able to declare a clear presumptive nominee to face a sitting president. It has been clear since the implosion of Howard Dean in Iowa and New Hampshire in January that Massachusetts Senator John Kerry was the front-runner for the Democratic nomination. The post-Super Tuesday withdrawal of John Edwards from the race made Kerry the presumptive nominee. So, from the first week of the month of March we have known, without any doubt, that the November ballot would pit Kerry against Bush.

    The second unique aspect of the 2004 campaign is that neither Senator Kerry, nor President Bush, is accepting federal matching funds for small contributions to their campaigns. Under federal law, candidates can receive federal dollars in a one-to-one match for every contribution from an individual who contributes $250.00 or less. The price tag, however, is that a candidate receiving matching funds must agree to spending limits. However, Kerry and Bush have both eschewed the matching funds, and therefore do not have to adhere to caps. They are still bound by the fact that individuals can give each campaign no more than $2000 and Political Action Committees can give no more than $5000. Still, the important element is that they can raise and spend without any strictures, which is the first time there has been such a situation.

    Indeed, in 2000 the cap on pre-nomination spending was $40.5 million, and the figure would have been similar this year. However, President Bush�s re-election campaign had already raised $145.6 million by the end of January, and Kerry�s campaign $32.9 million in the same time period. Further, the money spigot was turned on for Kerry once he has secured his party�s nomination. Had he accepted the matching fund he would be unable to mount any kind of defense against Bush before the summer, now, however, he can raise and spend with impunity to try and match the fund-raising juggernaut that is the Bush re-election campaign.

    So, we have here an unprecedented confluence of money and time, and the opportunity for things to get nasty in a hurry. And, already the clashes have begun.

    The first salvo in this still young campaign between Kerry and Bush came with the release by the Bush campaign of two commercials in the first week of March which featured passing images of the events of 911. This caused a furor in some camps, including the family members of some 911 victims, who accused the President of exploiting the tragedy of that day for political gain.

    Now, it is rather unlikely that the Bush re-election team will leave 911 out of their campaign. Indeed, one could argue that some of the criticisms aimed at the ads from the Kerry camp were more about trying to neutralize a potential strength of the President�s, i.e., his handling of the 911 aftermath (when his approval ratings soared in the 80s and 90s), than it was the result of a sincere desire not to exploit certain images and events.

    One thing is for certain: whether one likes it or not, this campaign is going to be, in large measure, about 911: both in terms of how Bush handled it and how Bush or Kerry would handle any future such events. As such, it is hardly surprising that the Bush campaign would use images related to 911 or make specific reference to those events.

    The interesting issue isn�t really the usage of the images, but rather how the debate was more about the appropriateness of a particular image instead of over policy and governance. This flap has continued this week with criticism of a new Bush ad in which a reference is made to terrorism while the picture of a Middle Eastern-looking individual appears on the screen. This has lead to charges that the Bush campaign is engaging in stereotyping and race-baiting.

    The remarkable element in both stories is that the public debate ends up being about a one-to-three second image rather than the policy issues that the commercials are supposed to be about.

    Given the amount of time and money available to each candidate, look for this type of tit-for-tat to continue vis-�-vis the visuals in commercials. Ironically, such controversy is often good for the campaign whose ad is under attack, as the debate over the ad leads to the ad being shown, for free, on the news, often multiple times. Of course, if the public decides that the controversy over an ad is appropriate then such repeated showing could damage the candidate. The remarkable thing about this entire enterprise, however, is that the debate becomes one about the intentions of candidates and their campaigns for choosing a particular image rather than what they might actually do as the occupant of the Oval Office.

    One saving grace, I suppose, of Alabama being a state that is unlikely to be seriously contested in November, is that we will be spared much of this on-air onslaught. Still, the content and funding of these ads will be part of the news analysis over the next two hundred and forty-ish days.

    Steven L. Taylor, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Troy State University.

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    The More Things Change…

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:36 am

    Flashback: The time: October 9, 2003. The place: the pages of WaPo. The line:

    Kerry, for example, is advised by two pollsters, two media and advertising experts, and two speechwriting consultants. He also has two inner circles: one composed of hired hands in Washington; the other of old friends, family members and longtime loyalists in Boston.

    This has made Kerry’s operation the punch line of a joke in political circles: How is John Kerry’s campaign like Noah’s Ark? Both have two of everything.

    And while he seems to have fixed his staffing woes, this joke can now morph into: “How are Kerry’s position papers like Noah’s Ark? They have two of everything.” Or, as a political cartoon noted yesterday, Kerry supports “no position left behind".

    It will be interesting to see if he can find a way to overcome this problem (I am not sanguine that he can). Otherwise the campaign is going to evolve as Kerry, who doesn’t really know what he thinks v. Bush the Resolute. Now, Kerry can try the ol’ “nuance” bit, but I have a hard time believing that that will work.

    Indeed, I maintain something that I have said for a long time now: the main way a Democrat wins in November (perhaps the only way), is for something bad to happen in the economy, in Iraq or in the War on Terror in general (and the latter would have to be something that could be blamed on the administration).

    side-note: I found the 10/9/03 story combing my archives for info used in the previous post. We all remember October 2003, right? Back when many of us were certain that the candidate we wouldn’t be talking about in late March 2004 would be John Kerry?

    It’s All Dean’s Fault!

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:22 am

    Ironically, the current heat that John Kerry is feeling regarding his vote on the $87 billion is largely Howard Dean’s fault. As LAT columnist Ron Brownstein rightly noted on MTP this morning, the vote last October came as Dean had emerged as “the man", seemingly riding anti-war sentiment to the Democratic nomination. It was at that time that Kerry became more strident in his anti-war stance.

    In short: the argument is that Kerry voted against the $87 billion to bolster his anti-war bona fides. However, in so doing he created yet another contradiction in his record-in this case voting for the authorization to use force, but being unwilling to fund the continued operations (while simultaneously criticizing the administration on the body armor and related issues). Had there been no Dean factor, then Kerry likely would have voted for the package, I am guessing. So, in one sense, it is Dean’s fault that Kerry is an vulnerable as he is on this issue.

    Of course, in reality, it is really Kerry’s own fault for seeking political advantage when he should have been voting his own conscience. And, indeed, this is one of Kerry’s main political liabilities: it is difficult to ascertain exactly what his political conscience is.

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    Saturday, March 20, 2004

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:50 pm

    Texas advances to the Sweet 16.


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    That’s a Letdown

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:48 pm

    Pakistan Doubts Al Zawahri Among Those Surrounded

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    Thanks for the Linkage

    By Steven Taylor @ 4:03 pm

    Thanks to the following for permanently linking to PoliBlog:

  • Political Blog For The Politically Incorrect
  • Solomonia (even though I’m hidden in a pull-up menu)->UPDATE: The link’s in broad daylight now (thanks).
  • The Disagreeable Conservative Curmudgeon
  • Gary Manca
  • Parablemania

    Each has been given a a permanent link in the “Look Who’s Linking to PoliBlog list on the left hand sidebar. If you have linked to me, but have not been acknowledged with a link, drop me an e-mail.

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    Four Structural Weakneses of John Kerry

    By Steven Taylor @ 2:54 pm

    Kaus points to a The New Republic Online piece by Noam Scheiber, in which the author details Kerry’s four strucutral weaknesses:

    1) His poor gut-level instincts lead to exploitable gaffes:

    Bush in his natural state is an anti-intellectual cowboy: heavy on bravado, light on nuance. When he lets slip what he’s really thinking-like his ill-advised “bring it on” comment from last year-and that comment gets repeated by political opponents, it probably alienates half the country, but it galvanizes the other half and ends up a wash. Kerry at his most authentic is a committed internationalist-someone who values the stability of alliances over the freedom of unilateral action. There’s nothing wrong with this position per se. Except that, when expressed in a single, unguarded comment capable of being distorted by political opponents, it probably alienates considerably more than half the voting public.

    2) His rapid-responses tend to focus more on rapidity than on the contents of the responses:

    The problem is that the point of a rapid response strategy isn’t just to offer some response-any response-when the candidate is attacked, so long as it’s quick. The point is to offer a response that effectively deadens the issue-a goal sometimes better accomplished without the over-the-top, war-room approach that’s been the Kerry campaign’s only speed to date.

    During the “more leaders” contretemps, for example, the Kerry camp’s response was to claim that what Kerry had actually said ("more leaders") was much more vague than the quote that first appeared in newspapers ("foreign leaders")-so much so that, according to Kerry spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter, the phrase could have referred to “anybody, here at home, abroad, anybody.” (This was at odds with the context of Kerry’s comment, which clearly indicated he was talking about foreigners.) And, oh yeah, the campaign also trotted out Democratic foreign policy luminaries like Bill Richardson, Richard Holbrooke, and Madeleine Albright to argue, as Holbrooke did, “It’s so obviously the truth what Kerry said, and the Republicans are just having fun with it.” Shockingly, none of this proved very effective at making the issue go away. Unfortunately, things only get worse from here on out: Kerry, by virtue of his long voting record in the Senate, is going to be playing a lot of defense.

    3) His dual reputations of liberal and flip-flopper:

    Whatever you do to rebut one charge just confirms the other. Take gay marriage. In the past Kerry has tended to stake out relatively liberal terrain on the issue-for example, he voted against the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996. This would seem to put him to the left of the average swing voter, a position that could be exploited by the Bush campaign. So how would Kerry insulate himself from this kind of attack? The only way that comes to mind is by moving rightward-which Kerry did earlier this year when he hinted he might support an amendment to the Massachusetts constitution banning gay marriage. In one fell swoop Kerry transformed himself from a liberal on gay marriage to … a flip-flopper on gay marriage.

    4) Money: Bush’s buckets of hard money trumps an army of 527s:

    For all the talk about various Democratic-leaning 527s (that is, independent nonprofits) helping to balance out Bush’s huge financial advantage, Tuesday’s showdown in West Virginia showed why nothing beats good old-fashioned hard money when it comes to waging a presidential campaign. Before Kerry could touch down in West Virginia, the Bush campaign had saturated the airwaves with the aforementioned weak-on-national-security commercial-which framed the debate for Kerry’s West Virginia trip in terms most favorable to Bush. By contrast, because none of the 527s trying to help Kerry can coordinate their message with his campaign (at least not legally), Bush is much less likely to face such focused debate-framing when he touches down in the swing states he’s targeting.

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    The 3/20 Toast-O-Meter is Here!

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:51 am

    -Toast: It’s not Just for Breakfast Anymore!-

    The Toast-o-meter: A Weekly News Round-Up and Handicapping of the Race for to be the next President of the United States.

    The Toast-O-Meter comes to you Fortified with linkage and Enhanced with bloggage.

    Sure, the Democratic Primaries continues, but the truth is, it�s two-slicer time: Bush v. Kerry to see who can reduce the other to toast over the next eight month.

    If you come across a news story, commentary or blog entry that you think would be good for the Toast-O-Meter, please submit it to:

    Feeling the Heat?

    Each week the candidates will have had one of three kinds of weeks:

  • Dough is on the Rise (this candidate had s good week)
  • Heat�s Off This Week (the candidate had a neutral week)
  • The heat is on (the candidate had a bad week)

    Slicing up this (Totally Insignificant)Week’s Contests

    The excitement never stops!! Today, March 20th, we have contests in:

    Alaska: Hey, Kucinich came to see them, what more do they want?

    Guam: Well, there’s no political news out of Guam, but in case you are jonesin’ for Guam news, there’s: Guam Guard unit to be deployed and Guam sailors charged in sexual assault case.

    Wyoming: No political news out of Wyoming either, so here are some fun facts about the state:

  • Butch Cassidy was sent to jail by William"Bill” Simpson, who is Al Simpson’s grandfather.

  • The first book printed in Wyoming (1866) was the Dictionary of the Sioux Language” compiled by C. Guerreau, J.K. Hyer and W. S. Starring at Fort Laramie, Dakota Territory.
  • The first Cheyenne Frontier Days was held in September, 1897. Rodeo’s were held in Cheyenne before the first official “Frontier Days” was held.
  • The first Wyoming State Fair was held in Douglas with $10,000. being appropriated by the State Legislature. It soon became apparent that more money would be needed so the community raised another $10,000 to hold the state fair that first year (around 1904).
  • Wyoming was the first state to have a county public library.
  • The second largest traveling sand dune in the world is located outside Rock Springs.
  • Amelia Erhart had started to build her dream retirement home in 1936 near Kern. When she disappeared in 1937, construction on her home ended.A permanent monument was erected to honor a dear neighbor, Amelia Earhart, in Meeteetse September 24, 1972.
  • Frewen’s Castle near Sussex was the home of Winston Churchill’s Aunt Clara. The Castle was built by Clara and Moreton Frewen.
  • Dinosaur footprints 165 million years old (middle Jurassic) were found near Shell, Wy. in the Spring of 1997.
  • Dinosaur skull and bones were found at Alcova lake by a local elementary class on field trip.
  • Alas, there are no more until April 13th and Colorado� (can we live without meaningless primaries for that long?) At least Colorado will be interesting because it will determine who the Senate candidates will be to replace Nighthorse Campbell.


    Who will be toasted first? Will Kerry turn the President into Texas Toast? Or will the President make French Toast out of Kerry?

  • David Wissing has the latest poll numbers and the more recent polls (aside from ARG) are rather Bush-ish, it is clearly too early to know much.
  • Kos notes the closeness in in the polls of several battleground states.
  • WaPo columnist Terry Neal does a good both of making the case that Bush will win and that Kerry will win: Bush and Kerry: Both Sure Winners?

  • A little surrogate slice2slice: At Gillespie vs. McAuliffe, a Left For Every Right.

  • Shocking! Campaign Gets More Personal
  • The whole �foreign leaders� flap (also here and here) lead to some confrontation this week: White House Spars With Kerry Over Foreign Support. Overall, this situation played to Bush�s favor.
  • Kerry, Bush Tied in Pennsylvania.
  • The Political Wire notes that Bush Edges Ahead of Kerry.

  • The Bush people have some out swining this week with John Kerry: International Man of Mystery and the “Troops FoG ads.


  • Indeed: Credibility is key battle for campaigns.
  • Kerry outlines his military plan
    Among Kerry’s proposals were providing more training and equipment to U.S. troops, improving military housing, and increasing military health care subsidies and family separation pay. He also proposed temporarily increasing the size of the active-duty Army by 40,000 troops. That step, which his aides said would cost up to $8 billion a year, would be intended to ease the burden on those deployed for longer than their usual term.

    All well and good, but aside from the temporary increase in force size, what does any of this have to do with fighting terrorism? Indeed, the only thing he seems to say on that topic is that he will be able to get more foreign help, which is, quite frankly, a dubious proposition.

  • Matthew Yglesias outlines Kerry’s positions of foreign policy.
  • The issue of the Bush administration’s withholding of evidence in the Medicare bill debate is likely to become a campaign issue (Foster: White House Had Role In Withholding Medicare Data):
    Richard S. Foster, the government’s chief analyst of Medicare costs who was threatened with firing last year if he disclosed too much information to Congress, said last night that he believes the White House participated in the decision to withhold analyses that Medicare legislation President Bush sought would be far more expensive than lawmakers knew.
    For example: Democrats Seek Probe of Medicare Estimates

  • E. J. Dionne comments on the 527s issue: Playing With Fire on ‘Soft Money’

    George W. Bush (Dough is on the Rise)

    Bush had his best week in some time�he is up in many polls and Kerry has been shooting himself in the foot all week.

  • As Expected: Bush’s Campaign Emphasizes Role of Leader in War.

  • Bush campaigned in PA this week: Seeking Votes in Pa., Bush Talks Housing.

  • Robert Tagorda notes the Confrontational Colin Powell-which helps Bush, I would argue.
  • Kevin Drum is unimpressed with Bush as a “war president”.

    John F. Kerry (The Heat is On)

    Kerry had his first bad week since winning the nomination.

  • Key number: Undecided/Unknown 41% -that’s the number in the recent NYT/CBS poll as to the views of the candidates by registered voters. The campaign for the next several months is going to be about those 41%.
  • The clear benefits of being the presumptive nominee: Kerry Capitalizing on Party Resources to Fill Coffers
    Sen. John F. Kerry is setting the stage to raise as much as $100 million for his presidential campaign by seizing control of his party’s fundraising machinery, winning the support of top money people for vanquished rivals, and attracting thousands of new small donors via the Internet, according to officials inside and outside his campaign.

    In the two months since the Jan. 19 Iowa caucuses, the Massachusetts Democrat’s campaign has pulled in more than $26 million, including $18 million over the Internet, aides said. Just two weeks ago, the campaign had announced a goal of raising $80 million - and was greeted with initial skepticism among some party fundraisers.

  • Here’s an official Statement from John Kerry on One Year Anniversary of Invasion of Iraq.
  • James Joyner notes the ongoing issue of defining Kerry’s image. It remains unclear at this stage as to whether Kerry will define himself, or be defined by the Bushies. As it stands, most voters don’t really have a firm idea of who Kerry is.
  • Pejman asks: Does John Kerry just have a lousy memory, or is he one of the more brazen fibbers around?
  • Erik the Viking Pundit thinks Kerry is helping to define “hoisted on one’s own Petard”.
  • WaPo has an interesting piece on one of Kerry�s key advisors: The Motor in Kerry’s Bandwagon
  • Matthew Yglesias is concerned about Matthew Money, Money, Money, Money in the Bush v. Kerry contest. As Matthew notes, Atrios is dong his part to help the Kerry campaign.
  • Matthew Yglesias has some words for Democratic strategists who think they will do better in the South because this year the race will be about domestic issues. Those words are NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO!. And further:
    The election is not going to be about domestic issues as long as making it about foreign issues is in the overwhelming interests of the Republican Party. Democrats don’t need to beat Bush on national security, but they’ve got to come close enough that it’s even possible to change the subject.

    2002 wasn’t “about” Iraq because of some intrinsic ontological property of the year, it was about Iraq because Republicans made it about Iraq and Democrats didn’t know what to do. But you’ve got to do something.

    He’s correct: just saying “Bush is wrong and we will do better than he has” won’t help the Democrats win anything.



  • Said Senator John McCain this week:
    “I don’t want to be vice president of the United States. I do not want to leave the Republican Party. I would not be vice president of the United States on either ticket,” McCain told CBS on Thursday.


  • Despite speculation that Cheney will be dropped, I continue to find this rather unlikely. Indeed, I suspect that conservatives loved this speech: Cheney Attacks Kerry’s Record on the Military. The whole speech can be found here and a key excerpt here.

    The Moldy Loaf

  • Oxymoronic (or just moronic?): Sharpton backs Kerry, but stays in race.
  • Feel the excitement! Juneau Democrats welcome candidate Kucinich.
  • Feel the excitement!! (Part Deux): Kucinich to Address Thousands at New York City Peace Rally Saturday.



  • You don’t say? Nader campaign has a low profile.
  • Poll shows Nader could hurt Kerry in Pennsylvania
    In the three-way race, Republican Bush is supported by 44 percent of the state’s voters, compared with 40 percent for Democrat Kerry and 7 percent for Nader, who is running as an independent, according to the poll by the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. Eight percent were undecided.

    Quite frankly, it is far too early to take these polls seriously, and I am certain Nader’s numbers will shrink. Still, such polls will, not doubt, give the Kerry people heartburn.

  • I had to post this one just for the headline: Nader and His Two Black Marks Amidst America’s Acne.

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    • linked with Reading list
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    Happy Birthday to the Command Post

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:12 am

    The The Command Post - A Newsblog Collective (to which I am an occassional contributor) is now a one year old. Congrats to Alan and Michele for a job well done.

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    Chen Wins Re-election in Taiwan

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:51 am

    Taiwan President Wins Election; Opposition Balks

    Taiwan President Chen Shui- bian won re-election to a second term a day after he was wounded by gunshots while campaigning. He defeated Nationalist Party leader Lien Chan by a quarter of a percentage point.

    The Nationalists claimed the election was unfair and said they won’t accept result. “We will ask the court to void the election,'’ Lien told a crowd of his supporters at his campaign headquarters in Taipei. He said circumstances surrounding the shootings that slightly wounded Chen and Vice President Annette Lu were “suspicious'’ and had affected the vote.

    Surely if a dead guy can win a Senate seat in Missouri, then a wounded guy can win re-election without any problems.

    Still, this could get ugly-and, indeed:

    The Nationalists’ refusal to accept the result of the island’s third direct election of a president may cast doubts on the maturity of Taiwan’s political institutions.

    Plus, the referendum, failed, so I guess the sympathy vote only goes so far:

    A referendum Chen put on the ballot asking voters if the island’s defenses should be strengthened in face of Chinese missiles pointed at them was invalidated because it received less than the required 50 percent participation by voters. A companion question about opening dialogue with China also failed to receive enough votes. Lien had urged a boycott of the referendum questions.

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    • Outside the Beltway linked with What's Korean for 'Hanging Chad'
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    Friday, March 19, 2004
    In Case You Were Holding Out…

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:34 pm

    House hikes reward for bin Laden

    The U.S. House unanimously approved a doubling of the reward the government is offering for the capture of Osama bin Laden to $50 million.

    So, if the paltry $25 million wasn’t enough…

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    I Survived the Meeting

    By Steven Taylor @ 7:07 pm

    Well, it lasted four hours, but it actually was far more productive than expected. Indeed, I was quite pleased by the outcome.

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    By Steven Taylor @ 12:44 pm

    No more blogging for the rest of the afternoon-I am heading out for The Meeting from Hades.

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    The 24/7 News Cycle Blues

    By Steven Taylor @ 11:15 am

    Gee whiz, I have now known about this story for roughly 24 hours and the basic info (they are fighting, they may have Zawahri surrounded…) hasn’t really changed.

    Can’t they hurry it up so as to fulfill my need for instant news gratification?

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    Kerry Needs Some Better Advisors or at Least Some Self-Restraint

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:19 am

    File this one in the “not helpful to Kerry’s image” folder: Amid Natural Splendor in Idaho, a Weary Kerry Gets Away From It All

    The image-conscious candidate and his aides prevailed upon reporters and photographers to let him have a first run down the mountain solo, except for two agents and Marvin Nicholson, his omnipresent right-hand man.

    His next trip down, a reporter and a camera crew were allowed to follow along on skis-just in time to see Mr. Kerry taken out by one of the Secret Service men, who had inadvertently moved into his path, sending him into the snow.

    When asked about the mishap a moment later, he said sharply, “I don’t fall down,” then used an expletive to describe the agent who “knocked me over.”

    The incident occurred near the summit. No one was hurt, and Mr. Kerry came careering down the mountain moments later, a look of intensity on his face, his lanky frame bent low to the ground.

    Now, in the grand scheme of things, this is an utterly unimportant event. However, in the ongoing battle for the public definition of John Kerry, this is not helpful to his cause. Not only is he building an image as the cursin’ candidate, but, more importantly, part of his appeal has to be that he is for the little guy, and given that he already has an image as a aloof elitist, coming across as arrogant ("I don’t fall down") and unappreciative of Secret Service Protection (flinging an explicative in the direction of an agent who accidentally got in the way) isn’t going to help his cause.

    Likeability is going to be a big issue in this campaign, and incidents like this won�t help Kerry. He likely should have laughed off the spill and been self-effacing, rather than of what he did.

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    • New England Republican linked with Kerry Insults Secret Service Agent
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    A New “Iron Law” of Campaiging

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:40 am

    The crux of the John Kerry �foreign leaders� meme, and why it is working against Kerry, can be summed up in a new iron law of campaigning:

    Taylor�s Iron Law of Anonymous Endorsements

    Any candidates, of any party, for any office, who, for any reason, cites unnamable sources of support, will reap ridicule from opponents and the press.

    Let�s face facts: it has a certain “imaginary friend-ness” about it.

    (Add this one to my Iron Law of Political Speeches.)

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    FARC Commander Captured

    By Steven Taylor @ 6:57 am

    Colombian Police Capture Rebel Commander

    Police captured a top rebel commander who was allegedly recruiting youths to carry out suicide attacks against President Alvaro Uribe and other officials, Colombia’s secret police chief said Wednesday.

    Luis Hipolito Ospina, a senior member of the leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, was arrested Tuesday in the capital, Bogota…


    Neither the FARC nor Colombia’s smaller Marxist group, the National Liberation Army, or ELN, have ever carried out a suicide strike in 40 years of civil war. Noguera said there was no evidence that Ospina or the FARC had developed ties to Islamic extremist groups such as al-Qaida.

    One the one hand, the suicide angle doesn’t make full sense, however, on the other there have been examples of hired assassins doing jobs that were clearly “suicide missions” in the sense that the likelihood was that they wouldn’t make out alive. For example, in 1989 presidential candidate Carlos Pizarro was assassinated on an airline flight and the assassin was gunned down by Pizarro’s bodyguards. Even if the assassin had survived, it wasn’t as if he would have been able to make an escape from an airplane in mid-flight. This suggests that it may be possible to recruit persons to engage in highly dangerous, high-risk activities. However, I have an exceptionally hard time believing that suicide-bombers could be recruited, if that is what is being suggested here.

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    Attempted Assassination in Taiwan

    By Steven Taylor @ 6:53 am

    Taiwan President Shot, Not in Critical Condition

    Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian survived an assassination attempt Friday while campaigning on the eve of a presidential election, escaping with a bullet wound to the stomach.

    Vice President Annette Lu was also wounded in the attack in the southern city of Tainan but was not badly hurt, officials said.

    This makes two weeks in a row in which violence has erupted just prior to elections. (I am not suggesting a link or pattern, just noting the fact.)

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    • linked with Taiwan's President Shot
    Thursday, March 18, 2004
    A Bad Day at the Zoo

    By Steven Taylor @ 7:59 pm

    Gorilla shot dead after escape at Dallas Zoo

    A gorilla escaped at the Dallas Zoo and attacked several people Thursday evening, including a four-year-old who was thrown against the wall and suffered puncture wounds after he was bit on his temple and chest, police said. Two adults and one child sustained minor injuries before the gorilla was shot to death by police, said Deputy Police Chief Daniel Garcia.


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    Smaller, Yet Larger

    By Steven Taylor @ 4:37 pm

    And to think, the HDD in my first DOS machine was 32 megs in capacity and was the size of a small dog: Toshiba’s coin-size HDD recognised by Guinness as world’s smallest

    Japanese electronics giant Toshiba said its coin-sized hard-disk drive (HDD) had been recognised by the Guinness book of records as the smallest in the world.

    The 0.85 inch (about 2.1 centimeters) drive, unveiled in January, has storage capacity of two to four gigabytes and is small enough to be used in mobile phones, digital camcorders and portable storage devices, Toshiba Corp. said in a statement Tuesday.

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    But I Thought we were Doomed?

    By Steven Taylor @ 3:55 pm

    Says the Economist: Smile, these are good times. Truly

    American anxiety over the economy appears to have tipped over into paranoia and self-delusion.

    Too strong? Not really. As The Economist has recently argued—though in the face of many angry readers—the jobs lost are mainly a cyclical affair, not a structural one. They must also be set against the 24m new jobs created during the 1990s. Certainly, the slow pace of job-creation today is without precedent, but so were the conditions that conspired to slow a booming economy at the beginning of the decade. A stockmarket bubble burst, and rampant business investment slumped. Then, when the economy was down, terrorist attacks were followed by a spate of scandals that undermined public trust in the way companies were run. These acted as powerful headwinds and, in the face of them, the last recession was remarkably mild. By the same token, the recovery is mild, too. Still, in the next year or so, today’s high productivity growth will start to translate into more jobs. Whether that is in time for Mr Bush is another matter.

    As for outsourcing, it is implausible now, as Lawrence Katz at Harvard University argues, to think that outsourcing has profoundly changed the structure of the American economy over just the past three or four years. After all, outsourcing was in full swing-both in manufacturing and in services-throughout the job-creating 1990s. Government statisticians reckon that outsourced jobs are responsible for well under 1% of those signed up as unemployed. And the jobs lost to outsourcing pale in comparison with the number of jobs lost and created each month at home. Even here, the rate of job �churn� has, for unclear reasons, been falling since mid-2001.

    Read the whole thing.

    Hat tip: Dean Esmay-also here.

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    New Bush Ad

    By Steven Taylor @ 3:01 pm

    If you haven’t already seen it, check out Troops FoG.

    This illustrates the kinds of statements that can get Kerry into serious trouble, as well as the power of money and technology-as he only made the statement a few days ago.

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    • Outside the Beltway linked with Beltway Traffic Jam
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    Cheney on Kerry

    By Steven Taylor @ 1:41 pm

    From Cheney’s speech yesterday at the Reagan Library:

    Sen. Kerry speaks often about the need for international cooperation, and has vowed to usher in a “golden age of American diplomacy.” He is fond of mentioning that some countries did not support America’s actions in Iraq. Yet of the many nations that have joined our coalition-allies and friends of the United States-Sen. Kerry speaks with open contempt. Great Britain, Australia, Italy, Spain, Poland and more than 20 other nations have contributed and sacrificed for the freedom of the Iraqi people. Sen. Kerry calls these countries, quote, “window dressing.” They are, in his words, “a coalition of the coerced and the bribed.”

    Many questions come to mind, but the first is this: How would Sen. Kerry describe Great Britain-coerced, or bribed? Or Italy-which recently lost 19 citizens, killed by terrorists in Najaf-was Italy’s contribution just window dressing? If such dismissive terms are the vernacular of the golden age of diplomacy Sen. Kerry promises, we are left to wonder which nations would care to join any future coalition. He speaks as if only those who openly oppose America’s objectives have a chance of earning his respect. Sen. Kerry’s characterization of our good allies is ungrateful to nations that have withstood danger, hardship, and insult for standing with America in the cause of freedom.

    Sen. Kerry hhas also had a few things to say about support for our troops now on the ground in Iraq. Among other criticisms, he has asserted that those troops are not receiving the materiel support they need. Just this morning, he again gave the example of body armor, which he said our administration failed to supply. May I remind the senator that last November, at the president’s request, Congress passed an $87 billion supplemental appropriation. This legislation was essential to our ongoing operations in Iraq and Afghanistan-providing funding for body armor and other vital equipment; hazard pay; health benefits; ammunition; fuel, and spare parts for our military. The legislation passed overwhelmingly, with a vote in the Senate of 87-12. Sen. Kerry voted “no.” I note that yesterday, attempting to clarify the matter, Sen. Kerry said, quote, “I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it.” It’s a true fact.


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    May it be So: al-Zawahiri Surrounded?

    By Steven Taylor @ 12:51 pm

    Qaeda Deputy May Be Surrounded - Pakistan Official

    A senior Pakistani government official said on Thursday al Qaeda number two Ayman al-Zawahri may have been surrounded near the Afghanistan border.

    “A pitched battle is going on there. The way these people are resisting, we think there is someone important over there. We think al-Zawahri may be holed up there,” the official told Reuters.

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    Not Good

    By Steven Taylor @ 12:22 pm

    Poland Says It Was Misled Over WMD in Iraq

    President Aleksander Kwasniewski said on Thursday Poland, a staunch supporter of last year’s U.S.-led war on Iraq, felt misled into believing Saddam Hussain had weapons of mass destruction.

    “I believe…that Iraq today, without Saddam Hussein, is a much better place than Iraq with Saddam Hussein,” Kwasniewski told a news conference. “Of course I feel a certain discomfort that we were misled about weapons of mass destruction.”

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    McCain on Kerry (or, With Campaign Co-Chairs Like These…)

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:49 am

    Neither of the following statements by John McCain are unreasonable, however they do strike me as odd for someone who is the co-chair of the Bush re-election campaign in Arizona, since the criticism is leveled largely at the Republicans:

    Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said Thursday he did not believe Democratic candidate John Kerry, a friend and Senate colleague, was weak on defense or would compromise national security if elected president.

    “This kind of rhetoric, I think, is not helpful in educating and helping the American people make a choice,” McCain said on “The Early Show” on CBS. “You know, it’s the most bitter and partisan campaign that I’ve ever observed. I think it’s because both parties are going to their bases rather than going to the middle. I regret it.”


    Asked on NBC’s “Today” if he thought Kerry was weak on defense, McCain said: “No, I do not believe that he is, quote, weak on defense. He’s responsible for his voting record, as we are all responsible for our records, and he’ll have to explain it. But, no, I do not believe that he is necessarily weak on defense. I don’t agree with him on some issues, clearly. But I decry this negativism that’s going on on both sides. The American people don’t need it.”

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    May it be a Growing Trend and Not a Blip

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:28 am

    Weekly Jobless Claims at Three-Year Low

    The number of Americans filing for initial jobless benefits dropped to the lowest level in more than three years last week, the Labor Department said on Thursday in a report that pointed to a brightening job market.

    First-time claims for state unemployment insurance benefits dropped by 6,000 from the prior week to 336,000 in the week ended March 13 - well below Wall Street analysts’ forecasts and the lowest for any week since 316,000 reported on Jan. 13, 2001.


    The closely-watched four-week moving average of initial jobless claims, which irons out weekly fluctuations, also declined for a third straight week, falling to 344,000 from 346,000 in the week ended March 13. It was the lowest figure for average claims since 336,500 were registered in the Jan. 27, 2001, week.

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    Wednesday, March 17, 2004
    The Rejection Letter Blues

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:57 pm

    I don’t envy Chris Lawrence, as he is going through the rejection-letter accumulation fun that goes along with looking for an academic job.

    The one’s that annoyed me more than anything were the schools that wouldn’t even bother to send you anything. Not the pro forma “gee, we had a lot of applicants” letters, no nothing. I would’ve settled for a postcard with a “No” on it, just so I could scratch them off my list.

    I would note that there is one advantage to the letters that note where the guy who did get hired came from: that means you know of a vacancy to which one might could apply. Indeed, I ended up applying for my current position because I received a rejection letter that detailed the fact that they had hired a guy from Troy State. That led me to apply for the job I now have.

    I think I applied to between 150 and 200 positions over a period of three years (the first year was total wishful thinking, as I was still dissertatin’). From that I got one phone interview that went nowhere and the on-campus interview that lead to my current position.

    A few years back, when I considered leaving my current job due, in large part, to conflict with a former chair, I was able to muster three phone interviews out of about 25 or so attempts.

    When there are between 150 and 300 applicants for a position, that is the definition of “stiff competition.” And then there�s the fact that the job cycle takes a year, so one spends a year looking, and if nothing comes up, one has to spend another year looking. Schools hire almost exclusively for the Fall semesters. And even if they hire at other times, it is only in the Spring and start of the summer: in other words, the entry points are fixed, and considerably spaced out.

    Of course, academia is nothing like the real world, now is it?

    (And I well remember the sentiment that he concludes with…)

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    More Kerry’s “Foreign Leaders”

    By Steven Taylor @ 5:25 pm

    Dodd Harris has further examples and links.

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    By Steven Taylor @ 4:00 pm

    Sexy? I say somewhat disturbing. Odd, to say the least.

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    Clarifying the “Foreign Leaders” Comment

    By Steven Taylor @ 3:47 pm

    Several in the Blogosphere, and the mass media, have noted that the transcript of Kerry’s now infamous “foreign leaders” quote had the word “more” incorrectly transcribed as “foreign", so that the quote should have read that he heard from “more leaders” rather than “foreign leaders.” Some have claimed that that info should either defuse the issue (Daily Kos) while others (such as Confessions of a Failed M.C.) seem to think that it turns the whole thing into an anti-Kerry fantasy.

    If the whole point is that Kerry didn’t mean “foreign” leaders, then why did he say the following, as quoted in USAT?

    In a telephone interview, the Massachusetts senator and presumptive Democratic nominee said “it’s no secret” that some countries are “deeply divided about our foreign policy. We have lost respect and influence in the world.”

    He continued: “I stand by my statement. The point is not the leaders. What’s important is that this administration’s foreign policy is not making us as safe as we can be in the world.”

    Could it be any clearer that he is referring to foreign leaders?

    Or, why when confronted at a campaign event by a heckler, did he not clarify? It is clear that Kerry is suggesting, and has suggested more than once, that he has had some kind of contact from foreign leaders who allegedly prefer Kerry to Bush in ‘04.

    Kerry Maintains That World Leaders Want Bush to Go

    Questions about the Massachusetts senator’s claim came from such disparate sources as Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, who called on Kerry to name the leaders, and a man at a town hall meeting in Bethlehem, Pa., who engaged the candidate in a contentious argument about his statement.

    “Were they people like the president of North Korea?” Cedric Brown, 52, shouted at Kerry during an eight-minute exchange Sunday afternoon. “I need to know that.” The presumed Democratic nominee remained calm but firm throughout the encounter, in which Brown, a Bush supporter and registered Republican, accused him of colluding with foreign governments to bring down the president.

    Kerry rejected that claim, saying he had merely heard from leaders who felt alienated by the administration.

    “I’m talking about our allies; I’m talking about people who were our friends nine months ago,” he said, as hundreds of people in the auditorium of a Bethlehem community college rose in a sustained standing ovation. “I’m talking about people who ought to be on our side on Iraq and aren’t, because this administration has pushed them away.”

    Later, reporters pressed Kerry to clarify whether he had met with these officials in person. The candidate insisted that he merely said he had “heard from” foreign leaders in his original remark.

    So, regardless of whether one thinks the whole flap is substantial or frivolous, it is clear: Kerry uncategorically has claimed that foreign leaders have expressed, to him, that they prefer him to Bush.

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    Some More Info on Baghdad Bombing

    By Steven Taylor @ 12:26 pm
  • Reuters: Blast Rips Through Baghdad Hotel; Several Dead
  • The AP: Bomb Levels Baghdad Hotel, Kills Several

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    Hotel Destroyed in Baghdad

    By Steven Taylor @ 12:00 pm

    Explosion rocks central Baghdad

    As many as 10 people were killed when a large explosion destroyed a hotel in central Baghdad on Wednesday night. Witnesses said it was a bomb blast. Two U.S. soldiers tried to help pull bodies from the wreckage, but angry Iraqis pushed them back. The explosion occurred behind Firdaus Square, where a bronze statue of Saddam Hussein was felled April 9 with the help of U.S. Marines who had just entered the center of the Iraqi capital.

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    Spanish Elections: PP Brought thee Roof Down on Themselves

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:49 am

    This was foolish, and wrong, of the PP: Spain Campaigned to Pin Blame on ETA.

    In the first frantic hours after coordinated bomb blasts ripped through several packed commuter trains Thursday morning, the government of outgoing Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar undertook an intense campaign to convince the Spanish public and world opinion-makers that the Basque separatist group ETA had carried out the attacks, which killed 201 people and wounded more than 1,500.

    Beginning immediately after the blasts, Aznar and other officials telephoned journalists, stressing ETA’s responsibility and dismissing speculation that Islamic extremists might be involved. Spanish diplomats pushed a hastily drafted resolution blaming ETA through the U.N. Security Council. At an afternoon news conference, when a reporter suggested the possibility of an al Qaeda connection, the interior minister, Angel Acebes, angrily denounced it as “a miserable attempt to disrupt information and confuse people.”

    “There is no doubt that ETA is responsible,” Acebes said.

    Within days, that assertion was in tatters, and with it the reputation and fortunes of the ruling party.

    No wonder they lost the election. This was a wholly improper way of handling the situation, and they deserved to be punished at the polls.

    The whole article is worth a read.

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    The Politics of Legislative Votes

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:46 am

    First, it was Helms-Burton, and now the supplemental appropriations bills for Iraq and Afghanistan:

    Mr. Kerry added, “I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it,” referring to an amendment he supported that would have rescinded some tax cuts to finance the war.

    This is utterly remarkable for the following reason: the Bush campaign and its allies have made a big deal about various votes Kerry has made in the past over defense and intelligence spending. However, some of the votes in question were either votes on amendments that failed, or preliminary votes, or a variety of other procedural votes that occur in the Senate constantly. Further, Senators will often votes against a bill that is going to pass because of appearance, even if they might support the bill, or part of the bill. It is extremely difficult at time to obtain clear intent from a legislative record: it isn’t as black and white as it seems, but legislators are always open to criticism when they run because of the paper trail of various votes that the public often does not understand. On balance, the vote that normally is fair game is the final vote. And defenders of Kerry have rightly pointed that out.

    However, like with the Cuba vote, Kerry is now vitiating that entire argument by picking and choosing which vote he made in a sequence of votes to be the vote that allegedly reveals his true intentions and support. This is unwise because if he is going to cherry pick which vote he wishes to highlight, his critics are going to be emboldened to do the same. Further, it re-enforces the image that the Bush campaign wishes to foster: that Kerry has at least two positions on every issue.

    From the position of an analyst of elections and campaigns, I find this a rather odd move, to say the least, on Kerry’s part. Especially when a NYT poll recently stated that 41% of the public has not yet formed an opinion on Kerry. he is playing right into the Bush camp’s strategy: which is define Kerry as a waffler who lacks the conviction needed to lead.

    Here are the poll numbers in question:

    For Kerry, 28 percent had a favorable view, 29 percent had an unfavorable view and 41 percent were undecided.

    Source: NYT

    Hat tip: e-mail from Patrick Ruffini at the Official Blog.

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    • Signifying Nothing linked with Sincerity and symbolism in legislator behavior

    By Steven Taylor @ 6:39 am

    “Of course, it is still eight months to election day, but the campaign is starting to fall into its own natural rhythm: falsely macho Kerry comment, falsely indignant Bush response.” -Jon Stewart


    “John Kerry made a remark, he said a lot of world leaders want him to be president. Then the Bush administration said, ‘Yeah, well, like who?’ And then John Kerry said, ‘Well, I really can’t say.’ So now they’re really hammering John Kerry. The only name he could come up with? Queen Latifah."-David Letterman

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    Moroccan al Qaeda Cell Suspected in Madrid Bombing

    By Steven Taylor @ 6:29 am

    Moroccan Group Suspected in Madrid Attacks

    Spanish investigators suspect a militant Moroccan group linked to al Qaeda was behind the Madrid train bombings that killed 201 people, El Pais newspaper reported on Wednesday.


    El Mundo newspaper, quoting police sources, said police were hunting for 20 Moroccan citizens in connection with the Madrid attacks. It said the same people were also suspected by Morocco of having participated in bombings in Casablanca last May which killed 45 people, including 12 suicide bombers.

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    Tuesday, March 16, 2004
    Tragic news

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:09 pm

    Thoughts and prayers to Scott Elliot, who lost his parents in Iraq. They were two of the Baptist missionaries shot to death in a drive-by shooting.

    The Blogosphere certainly shrinks the world…while I don’t know Scott personally, we have had some minor correspondence back and forth recently.

    My thanks to James Joyner for bringing this to our attention.

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    Zebra Stripes for JFK?

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:09 pm

    This is rather amusing, if anything for the time it took to put together.

    And, at least we now know that if Kerry loses, he can seek gainful employment as either an NCAA or NBA ref.

    And there’s always the NFL for that matter.

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    Is He Trying to be Ironic?

    By Steven Taylor @ 6:45 pm

    By this standard, there would have to be smoking in every non-G movie:

    “No one is saying there should never be any smoking in the movies. What we’re simply asking for is that smoking be treated by Hollywood as seriously as it treats offensive language.” Stanton Glantz, a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, on his new study that criticizes glamorous images of smoking in movies that receive PG and PG-13 ratings

    Source: MSNBC - Perspectives

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    The Worst Part About Academia, Part Deux

    By Steven Taylor @ 12:51 pm

    Yesterday I asked what the worst part of academia was, a question that was directed to my co-conspirators in the academy.

    However, I would note that, in fact, the hardest part of the academy isn’t grading nor is it meetings (the cause for my rant yesterday). The hardest part is everything you have to do to get the job in the academy in the first place, and those are quite rare.

    And, contrary to popular opinion, one does have to actually work to keep said jobs. Granted, there are exceptions, but there are exceptional cases in every profession.

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    • Signifying Nothing linked with Getting jobbed
    Interesting/A semi-Treatise on Mortgages

    By Steven Taylor @ 7:50 am

    Greenspan Shifts View on Deficits

    Consumer debt is hitting record levels. The federal budget deficit is yawning ever larger. The trade gap? Don’t even ask.
    Many mainstream economists are worried about these trends, but Alan Greenspan, arguably the most powerful and influential economist in the land, is not as concerned.

    In speeches and testimony, Mr. Greenspan, chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, is piecing together a theory about debt that departs from traditional views and even from fears he has himself expressed in the past.


    Mr. Greenspan’s thesis, which is not accepted by all traditional economists, is that increases in personal wealth and the growing sophistication of financial markets have allowed Americans � individually and as a nation � to borrow much more today than might have seemed manageable 20 years ago.

    This view is good news for President Bush’s re-election prospects. It increases the likelihood that the Federal Reserve will keep short-term interest rates low. And it could defuse Democratic criticism that the White House has added greatly to the nation’s record indebtedness.

    Adjusted for inflation, the average family’s debt, including a mortgage, has climbed from $54,000 in 1990 to $79,000 last year. Mortgage foreclosures, credit card delinquencies and personal bankruptcies are all at near record levels.

    Mr. Greenspan’s view is that household balance sheets are “in good shape,” and perhaps stronger than ever, because the value of people’s homes and stock portfolios have risen faster than their debts.

    The mortgage debt issues strikes me as central

    Mr. Greenspan’s last big idea came 10 years ago, when he correctly perceived that American productivity was growing much faster than official statistics suggested and that the country could grow much more rapidly without inflation than most experts believed at the time.

    But after having reduced the federal funds rate on overnight loans to just 1 percent, the lowest level in 46 years, Mr. Greenspan has presided over an explosion in home buying, mortgage refinancing and consumer spending fed by cheap money.

    Mortgage debt soared by more than one-third from $4.9 trillion in 2000 to $6.8 trillion in 2003. And though many people borrowed against their houses to pay down more expensive debt from credit cards, nonmortgage consumer credit climbed by $300 billion, or about 15 percent.

    In my opinion growing mortgage debt is a healthy sign, and should be delineated separately from other kinds of debt, like credit card debt or even car loans. With credit card debt, you are paying for nothing, and car’s lose value over time. However, one has to pay for one’s abode, and so it seems axiomatic that it is better to have a mortgage than to rent, given that in the vast majority of cases, homes increase in value over the time of the mortgage, and therefore a person with a mortgage is building wealth as they pay off their mortgage.

    Further, while there is some increase over time due to taxes and insurance, a house payment is relatively fixed, unlike rent, which creeps upward (sometime lurches upward) annually. One may start a thirty-year mortgage with a payment that is a stretch on the monthly budget, but as time goes by, one’s salary tends to increase, and the house payment remains relatively stable. As such, the drain on the budget five years into the mortgage is relatively smaller, and by ten or month years, the mortgage payment has shrunk as a percentage of one’s monthly budget, which isn’t true if one rented over that same period. Hence, mortgages are debt, but tend to be very, very good debt that has the long-term effect of building wealth.

    Indeed, I think that one of the keys of the US economy is relative ease by which we can acquire mortgage loans and begin to build personal wealth through home ownership. Especially when one contrasts the situation in even relatively healthy third world economies where loans are almost impossible to get, so all those rent checks go into the ether.

    There is also a generational effect where homes are tangible assets that are passed one to the next generation, even if only in the form of the proceeds from sale once parents or grandparents have passed on.

    Further, there is the simple fact that people tend to take better care of that which they own (or are working to own, as the case my be) than they are what they rent, which has cretain societal and community benefits.

    Indeed, there are a host of reasons that the ability to acquire mortgages, even though they represent significant indebtedness, is one of the foundational aspects of our economic health. More reasons, in fact, than I have time to comment on. My intention was to make a brief comment on the Greenspan piece and this turned into a semi-essay…

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    Spanish Election Fallout

    By Steven Taylor @ 5:49 am

    This would’ve happened anyway, with the Socialists beating the PP in Spain, and I agree with Kevin Drum and Mark Kleiman (although not with his entire post) that at least part of the PP’s problem, indeed maybe the largest part, was the way Aznar and the government dealt with the whole ETA v. al Qaeda issue just prior to the election. It was clear that they kept the “ETA is the prime suspect” thesis going for political purposes.

    Still, regardless of the nuances of electoral politics, there can be no doubt that al Qaeda will interpret this as a clear victory.

    Spain Will Loosen Its Alliance With U.S., Premier-Elect Says

    Spain’s newly elected Socialist prime minister pledged Monday to shift allegiance away from Washington to Paris and Berlin, a move that could lead to a reduction of American influence in Europe on a range of issues.

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    • Signifying Nothing linked with The Message of Madrid
    Monday, March 15, 2004
    Score One for International Law and Justice

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:36 pm

    Or not.

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    PETA: Serious Interest Group or Freak Show?

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:35 pm

    Those PETA people sure make some persuasive arguments! I know I’m convinced.

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    • Tiger: Raggin’ & Rantin’ linked with This gag probably ain't worth the time it took to compose
    The Worst Part of Academia

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:14 pm

    After a rather frustrating meeting in what has been a semester filled with them, I ask my academic colleagues: what’s the worst part of being a professor: meetings or grading?

    Ultimately, I have to go with grading, as it has more constancy, although at least you can do that with a fine cup of coffee and some music. For intense agony, I have to go with meetings.

    And it doesn’t end! I had one today, the same committee meets again for likely an all-afternoon frustrationfest on Wednesday (the university is revising curriculum, and guess who’s on the General Studies Council?). I have yet another meeting between classes tomorrow to help round out the week.


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    Holmes Facing Ethics Probe

    By Steven Taylor @ 2:24 pm

    I noted last week, the tale of Alabama State Representative’s untoward teaching arrangement with Alabama State University. Now, Ethics complaint targets Holmes’ ASU contract

    An ethics complaint alleges that state Rep. Alvin Holmes has used his elected office for personal gain in obtaining a full-time teaching position at Alabama State University where some faculty members complain he’s given “preferential treatment.”

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    More Revelations of my Inner Geek

    By Steven Taylor @ 1:15 pm

    Since I expressed my frustration concering the lack of progress regarding the WOT series, let me especially note my frustrated anticipation of the next installment of George R.R. Martin’s a Song of Fire and Ice series. The first three books were some of the best fantasy I have ever read, but it has now been four long years since the last installment!

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    Not a Partisan Illusion..

    By Steven Taylor @ 1:04 pm

    I’m not the only one who sees Kerry as less than a straight-shooter. Kaus, no Bushie, has been all over Kerry’s case:

    The Kerry campaign philosophy isn’t “Bring it on!” so much as “That’ll snow ‘em!” But it won’t! … P.S.: Those are not really flip-flops, but rather half-disclosed straddles-presenting one face of a strategically ambiguous position to a target audience and hoping they won’t notice the other, contradictory face. Straddles seem to be Kerry’s specialty. An actual flip flop would be, say, criticizing the overall Cuba embargo in 2000 and supporting it in 2003. … Of course, Kerry did that too. ….

    The latest flap is over Cuba. From the Miami Herald:

    ‘’I'm pretty tough on Castro, because I think he’s running one of the last vestiges of a Stalinist secret police government in the world,'’ Kerry told WPLG-ABC 10 reporter Michael Putney in an interview to be aired at 11:30 this morning.

    Then, reaching back eight years to one of the more significant efforts to toughen sanctions on the communist island, Kerry volunteered: “And I voted for the Helms-Burton legislation to be tough on companies that deal with him.'’

    It seemed the correct answer in a year in which Democratic strategists think they can make a play for at least a portion of the important Cuban-American vote - as they did in 1996 when more than three in 10 backed President Clinton’s reelection after he signed the sanctions measure written by Sen. Jesse Helms and Rep. Dan Burton.

    There is only one problem: Kerry voted against it.

    Asked Friday to explain the discrepancy, Kerry aides said the senator cast one of the 22 nays that day in 1996 because he disagreed with some of the final technical aspects. But, said spokesman David Wade, Kerry supported the legislation in its purer form - and voted for it months earlier.

    The confusion illustrates a persistent problem for Kerry as Republicans exploit his 19-year voting history to paint the Massachusetts senator as a waffler on major foreign-affairs questions such as the Iraq war, Israel’s security barrier and intelligence funding.

    So, I suppose if Kerry can define his votes for legislation based not on the final vote, but early votes in the process, the opposition can do the same thing? Indeed, hasn’t much of the criticism of using Kerry’s legislative record on defense and intelligence that his critics have done what the Senator himself just did? (I suppose turn-about is fair play, but as long as I am brandishing cliches: it is also a two-way street).

    Regardless, I still argue that these kinds of things are going to get Kerry into serious trouble over the long-haul, especially if the Bush campaign is successful in defining Kerry as a waffler in the minds of independent voters.

    Indeed, stating how he is “pretty tough on Castro” is going to be tough to prove to Cuban-Americans given his record:

    Kerry will also rue past votes supporting loosened restrictions on travel and cash ‘’remittances'’ that Cubans are allowed to send back to the island, Republicans said. They point to a 2000 Boston Globe interview in which Kerry called a reevaluation of the trade embargo ‘’way overdue'’ and said that the only reason the United States treated Cuba differently from China and Russia was the “politics of Florida.'’

    Now, I am for liberalizing relations with Cuba, as I think the logic of the current sanctions regime exhausted itself in 1989 when the Wall fell, and further, that the sanctions are harming everyday Cubans far more than they are harming Castro. Indeed, the sanction may make a transition to democracy when Castro dies more difficult. Still, politically, Kerry is looking very much like a “straddler” on Cuba.

    UPDATE: I’ve parked this post in today’s Beltway Traffic Jam.

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    • The American Mind linked with Kerry's House of Ketchup #4
    From the “You Don’t Say?” Department

    By Steven Taylor @ 11:12 am

    U.S.: Railway Baggage Checks Impractical

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    By Steven Taylor @ 11:12 am

    Bush praises man in speech on women’s rights

    U.S. President George W. Bush has marked International Women’s Week by paying tribute to women reformers - but one of those he cited is really a man.

    “Earlier today, the Libyan government released Fathi Jahmi. She’s a local government official who was imprisoned in 2002 for advocating free speech and democracy,” the president said in a speech at the White House on Friday.
    The only problem was that, by all other accounts, “she” is in fact “he".

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    • Rooftop Report linked with Morning Bang
    • BoiFromTroy linked with Maybe he was gay...
    Kerry’s Phony Toughness

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:51 am

    William Safire’s column today gets to the heart of part of my criticism of Kerry’s campaign strategy to date (e.g., here) On Phony Toughness. In regards to Kerry’s handling of his overheard statement that the GOP opposition is “the most crooked, you know, lying group I’ve ever seen,” Safire writes:

    Obviously, the day after his overheard slander, the decision was made to strike a defiantly nonapologetic pose. Maybe Kerry-Kennedy-Soros masterminds in Boston passed the word to the candidate: Apologies are for wimps. Don’t even think of flip-flopping with an “I meant"-on the contrary, ram “crooked and lying” down Republican throats. Remember the title of Barry Goldwater’s book-"With No Apologies.” Show you’re decisive by refusing to back off anything. John Edwards just proved that nice guys get great press clips but don’t win elections.

    Such advice is what the best political columnist of the past century, Stewart Alsop, said causes politicians to become “phony tough.” To counter the demonstrated tough-mindedness of a war president, Kerry’s handlers want their man to strike a pose of toughness in all his rhetoric.

    The phony toughness of his responses to criticism is what I have been talking about. I can fully understand defending oneself, and even being aggressive, but as I noted months ago, one of Kerry’s liabilities is the appearance that he is shifty-willing to be whatever he has to be to win. For example: the way he started being “angry” back at the end of last year once it was clear that Dean’s anger was helping him with primary voters.

    Hat tip: Outside the Beltway.

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    • The American Mind linked with Kerry's House of Ketchup #4

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:38 am

    Rossellini Headlines Earthsea

    SCI FI Channel has signed Isabella Rossellini to play the key role of High Priestess Thar in its upcoming original epic Earthsea, based on Ursula K. Le Guin’s award-winning series of novels, the network announced. The four-hour miniseries will premiere as a two-night television event on SCI FI in December.

    I wonder what ever happened to the Nine Princes in Amber mini-series they were allegedly working on.

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    Wheel of Time Movie?

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:35 am

    I don’t know how you turn that story into a series of movies-it would require about 20 installments to cover everything (of course, Jordan has a habit of including a lot of fluff): Wheel Of Time Optioned

    Red Eagle Entertainment has optioned worldwide feature-film rights to Robert Jordan’s 11-book fantasy series The Wheel of Time, Variety reported. Red Eagle will work on producing an adaptation of the first novel, The Eye of the World, with others to follow, the trade paper reported.

    And, I wish he would get busy and finish, as it is time to know how the story ends:

    Jordan is expected to write at least two more full-length novels to complete the series, along with two additional prequels, the trade paper reported.

    I hope he finishes the last two WOT books first, and then does the prequels. One wonders if he isn’t stalling because he doesn’t know how to end it…

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    Al Qaeda: Prime Suspect

    By Steven Taylor @ 6:54 am

    Reports WaPo: Al Qaeda Implicated In Madrid Bombings

    Investigators believe the train bombings that killed 200 people here last week were the work of a multinational cell of al Qaeda loyalists, some of whom entered Spain specifically to carry out the attacks and who are now the target of an international effort to identify and capture them, according to European and Arab intelligence officials.

    The officials said the preliminary investigation and interrogation of five arrested suspects - three Moroccans and two Indians - as well as other evidence indicated that the Thursday morning rush-hour bombings were carried out by the al Qaeda network, marking the first time the group has struck in Europe.


    Officials said they believed the group that carried out the bombing was composed of Islamic radicals, possibly including Saudi nationals, as well as other North Africans besides the arrested Moroccans. The operation included residents of Spain as well as operatives who entered the country specifically for the attacks, said officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

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    Spanish Election Update

    By Steven Taylor @ 6:51 am

    Socialists Oust Spain’s Conservatives

    Incoming prime minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero has pledged to bring home the 1,300 troops Spain has stationed in Iraq when their tour of duty ends in July.

    The Spanish Socialist Workers Party declared victory with 96 percent of the votes counted. The party soared from 125 seats in the outgoing 350-seat legislature to 164 in the next one. The governing Popular Party fell to 148 from 183.

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    Sunday, March 14, 2004
    311 Suspect Linked to 911 Planner

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:16 pm

    Madrid Suspect Linked to 9/11 Figure

    One of the three Moroccans arrested in the Madrid train bombings was a follower of a suspected al-Qaida member jailed in Spain for allegedly helping plan the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States, according to court documents reviewed by The Associated Press. It was the latest suggestion that Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaida terrorist group may have been involved in the bombings.

    A Sept. 17, 2003 indictment calls Jamal Zougam � arrested in Thursday’s attacks � a “follower” of Imad Yarkas, the alleged leader of Spain’s al-Qaida cell who was jailed for allegedly helping plan the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington. Yarkas, whose alias is Abu Dahdah, remains in Spanish custody.


    Spain’s El Pais newspaper, citing the interior ministry, reported all three Moroccans have links to Yarkas. Authorities in Morocco said they could not comment on the report.

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    Powell on Kerry

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:43 pm

    The California Yankee blogs on Kerry and his foreign leader friends who want him to beat Bush. My favorite part, from FNS:

    WALLACE: All right. I’m not sure you can answer this one, but I would like to get your comment on it, if I could.
    Senator Kerry says that foreign leaders � you look like you know this � want him to beat the president. And here’s what he’s had to say: “I’ve met with foreign leaders who can’t go out and say this publicly, but boy, they look at you and say, ‘You’ve got to win this. You’ve got to beat this guy. We need a new policy."‘

    POWELL: I can’t even talk to that, Chris. I don’t know what foreign leaders Senator Kerry is talking about. It’s an easy charge, an easy assertion to make. But if he feels it is that important an assertion to make, he ought to list some names. If he can’t list names, then perhaps he should find something else to talk about.

    UPDATE: James Joyner also has a favorite part of this story, and it, too, is rather interesting.

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    The Things You Learn…

    By Steven Taylor @ 7:55 pm

    I helping my Oldest Son on a 1st grade report on Jupiter, I discovered that that everyone’s favorite gas giant has acquired some moons since I last studied this stuff. Indeed, the current count is 61! Seems like it was like 16 when I was in elementary school and fascinated by all things space.

    So far this year, Jupiter has gained 21 new distant satellites, with the most recent announcement of satellite S/2003 J 21 on June 3rd at the annual Canadian Astronomical Society (CASCA) meeting in Waterloo (ON). This puts Jupiter far ahead of the all other planets, with 61 known moons.

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    More on The Politics of 311

    By Steven Taylor @ 5:26 pm

    Mark Kleiman has an interesting write-up on the Spanish election results.

    As Kleiman notes, one issue, which I alluded to earlier today, that is gnnig to have to be sorted out: did voters vote for the Socialists because they were voting to pull out of the war on terror (at least in terms of Iraq and Afghanistan), or were they voting in anger to the way the PP handled the bombing and the evidence of al Qaeda over ETA.

    Also, the degree to which it now enters into US politics is interesting: the Kerry camp will likely argue that Iraq was a distraction from fighting al Qaeda, allowing them to attack Spain. The Bush camp will argue that the Madrid attack proves that there is a global war on terror, and the Bush is, indeed, a “war president” and further that the Iraq connection in the al Qaeda tape proves that Iraq is an legitimate part of the war on terror.

    Hat tip: Zygote-Design.

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    Woe R Us

    By Steven Taylor @ 4:38 pm

    James Joyner has a post worth readings on The Afflictions of Affluence.

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    Spanish Socialist Claim Victory

    By Steven Taylor @ 4:33 pm

    Yahoo! News - Socialists Claim Victory in Spain Election

    Opposition Socialists claimed victory in Spain’s general election on Sunday as voters apparently punished the government over Madrid bombings that may have been retaliation by al Qaeda for the Iraq (news - web sites) war.


    Official results showed the Socialists leading the ruling center-right Popular Party by 43 percent to 37.5 percent with 85 percent of votes counted.

    Of course, now the question becomes who will form a coalition in parliament with whom.

    And there are implications for Iraq and the US:

    The Socialists have pledged to withdraw Spain’s 1,300 troops from Iraq if the U.N. does not take control by June 30 when Washington plans to hand power back to Iraqis. Opinion polls showed as many as 90 percent of Spaniards opposed the Iraq war.

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    • Zygote-Design linked with Spain, the new France
    Spanish Vote is Close

    By Steven Taylor @ 2:48 pm

    Exit Polls Give Conflicting Results in Spain

    Exit polls forecast conflicting results in Spain’s general election Sunday, thrown wide open by a purported al Qaeda video stepping up claims the group was behind the Madrid bombings that killed 200 people.

    Two polls gave the opposition Socialists the most votes, while another put the ruling Popular Party (PP) - favorite in opinion polls up to a week ago - in front.


    Analysts had warned the PP could be rocked if voters believed Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda had mounted its first attack in Europe and in reprisal for Spain’s support for the U.S.-led war in Iraq that most Spaniards opposed.

    If the PP takes a serious hit, it could could signal voter backlash over Iraq and also a sign that many Spanarids blame the bombings on Spanish cooperation in Iraq.

    And, quite frankly, it did appear from the coverage that the government was far too interested in blaming ETA, even when the evidence suggested otherwise.

    Some Spaniards were vitriolic in accusing Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar of “manipulating” public opinion by spending three days blaming the bombings on the Basque separatist group ETA, despite denials from the guerrillas.

    Aznar, retiring as prime minister and hailing a solid economy and greater clout for a country restored to the international mainstream three decades after Franco’s dictatorship ended, had taken a tough line against ETA.

    Playing politics over the evidence of something like the bombings is not smart, nor the right thing to do.

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    My Point on Iraq, Spain, Dean, Terror, etc.

    By Steven Taylor @ 2:26 pm

    The fundamental point that I have been trying to make in regards to the potential al Qaeda link to the Madrid bombings, and the issue of whether Spanish involvement in Iraq prompted the attack, is that I think it makes claims, such as the one made by Dean cited below, that Iraq had “nothing” to do with terrorism, or claims made by others that Iraq is a distraction from the war on terror, to be clearly incorrect.

    Now, as Chris Lawrence notes on his blog this weekend, variables in social scientific inquiry are often continuous, and not dichotomous. In other words, in the case of Saddam�s regime in Iraq it not the case that the �terrorism/al Qaeda� variable only has two values: �0� for �no terror links whatsoever,� or �1� for �its an unholy alliance of massive proportions between Saddam and bin Laden.� Indeed, those are two extremes on a continuum. Many for the anti-war side have argued �0� (indeed, when Dean says that Iraq had �nothing� to do with terrorism, that is what he is doing), while many on the pro-war side have argued �1�. Most who take the �0� position cite the �Saddam is a secularist, and bin Laden hates that� argument, while those on the �1� side have argued that �Saddam hates the US, bin Laden hates the US, so Q.E.D.�.

    Neither is correct. There is clear evidence that Saddam has both sponsored terrorism, and has aided al Qaeda, but it is also clear that there was not a continual, or even frequent, set of interactions between al Qaeda and the old Iraqi regime.

    The appropriate argument to have, therefore, is one that deals first with where on the continuum between the poles the truth lies, and then to determine if that point on the spectrum helps to justify the invasion (along with many, many other factors) or if it does not. This is the debate I would prefer to have, rather than the 0 v. 1 game that seems to dominate the discourse on this topic.

    I recognize that part of the reason that al Qaeda would be angry at the US (and Spain) over the invasion in Iraq is over the fact that the West overthrew a Muslim regime. However, it is also clear that a new Iraqi regime is far less likely to be even a temporary ally in the war on terror that Saddam no doubt was, and could have been in the future. And further, it seems quite clear that al Qaeda has never been neutral in regards to Iraq, which one would expect if Saddam and bin Laden were so utterly and totally anathema to one another.

    And, further, given that Saddam had sponsored terrorism (such as paying the families of Palestinian suicide bombers) and because our invasions helps to put fear in the minds of other states which sponsor terrorism (e.g., Libya), there are clear ties to the war on terror in Iraq.

    The bombing in Madrid (again, assuming that the al Qaeda link is true) adds evidence to the claim that we are, in fact, in a true global war against terrorism, and even if one thinks it should defined differently than pure �war� terms, that the law enforcement paradigm is insufficient to deal with this threat.

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    Dean on Iraq

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:36 am

    Howard Dean said on MTP today that fighting the war in Iraq had �nothing to do with terrorism.�

    If so, why is al Qaeda fighting us in Iraq and why would al Qaeda care if Spain helped us or not?

    If one wants an example of a case that has �nothing� to do with terrorism, try Haiti. I suspect that al Qaeda will not be bombing France because they helped up to invade Haiti.

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    From the Alleged Al Qaeda Tape

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:03 am

    From the NYT:

    “We claim responsibility for what happened in Madrid just two and a half years after the attacks in New York and Washington,” said the man, according to a government translation of the tape, which was recorded in Arabic. “This is an answer to your cooperation with the Bush criminals and their allies.”

    It sounds almost too perfect, i.e., like a Hollywood writer (and not a particularly good one) penned the script.

    Still, if authentic, it signals that at least one al Qaeda cell believes that Iraq is part of the war on terror, and not a distraction.

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    Saturday, March 13, 2004
    Memories of Bad TV

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:44 pm

    Jmaes Joyner’s musings about about the kid’s TV show Shazam! got me thinking about other bad Saturday morning live-action SF shws, that were pretty darn lame, but that I watched anyway. Amongst the lamest was Ark II.

    You have to love the 1970s “pollution will bring the apocalypse” backstory. Seems like 75% of all SF in the 1970s was either about nuclear holocaust or ecological disasters.

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    More Evidence Linking al Qaeda to the Madrid Bombings

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:11 pm

    Spain Says Al Qaeda Tape Claims Bomb Blasts

    A tape purportedly from al Qaeda said the militant group had blown up Madrid trains in retaliation for Spanish cooperation with the United States and threatened more bloodshed, Spanish officials said on Sunday.

    The video tape was recovered by police from a waste paper bin on the outskirts of the Spanish capital after a Madrid television station received a call from a man with an Arabic accent saying the tape was there.

    Again, as I noted earlier, if al Qaeda had no interest whatsoever in Saddam’s regime in Iraq, why punish Spain for helping the US?

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    But, I Thought There Was No Connection Between Iraq and Islamic Terror

    By Steven Taylor @ 3:53 pm

    A piece on the Madrid bombins in the NYT concludes with:

    If those responsible are Islamic militants, it is expected that Mr. Aznar will be blamed for supporting the war in Iraq, which 90 percent of the people here opposed, and putting Spain in the cross hairs of terrorist attacks.

    This is, of course, referring to the perceptions and reactions of the voters in Spain. However, this sentence, and some other mentions I have encountered, do bring us to a question: if the bombings in Spain are linked to both al Qaeda and Spanish participation in Iraq, it would seem that that would bolster President Bush’s argument that Iraq is part of the war on terror.

    After all, it has been argued that bin Laden and al Qaeda hated Saddam almost as much as they hate the West, given that Saddam was a secular ruler. However, if al Qaeda would lash out at an ally of the US becauase of cooperation over Iraq, it damages the theory that Saddam and al Qaeda could never find common cause.

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    • The Galvin Opinion linked with FROM SPAIN: EL MUNDO SAYS ARRESTS BEEN MADE
    I Suspect My Students Would Find This Amusing…

    By Steven Taylor @ 3:13 pm

    As would, not doubt, the older of my two sisters (who dubbed me “The Essay” back when I was in college) and, I suspect, my wife:

    You’re The Dictionary!
    by Merriam-Webster
    You’re one of those know-it-all types, with an amazing amount of knowledge at your command. People really enjoy spending time with you in very short spurts, but hanging out with you for a long time tends to bore them. When folks really need an authority to refer to, however, you’re the one they seek. You’re an exceptional speller and very well organized.

    Take the Book Quiz
    at the Blue Pyramid.

    Although I don’t know about the spelling part. Or the organized part. Or, really, any of it. I just find it amusing that I’m the Dictionary.

    And really, spelling? I think not. That’s what the spellchecker is for.

    Hat tip: exvigilare

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    • Arguing with signposts… linked with dreams of Greek folk hero-dom
    Congrats on the Move

    By Steven Taylor @ 3:10 pm

    I meant to mention this earlier in the week: exvigilare has moved from B*S to its own domain and a nifty MT-powered page.

    Congrats to Richie!

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    More on the Drug War Meeting the War on Terror

    By Steven Taylor @ 2:52 pm

    This is going to be increasingly problematic, as terrorist use drug revenues to fund their activities. From Sunday Observer of Sri Lanka:

    The quantum of heroin flowing into Sri Lanka and other South Asian countries has increased after the cessation of hostilities in Afghanistan, where farmers have returned to their lucrative poppy cultivation on a larger scale than ever before.
    Ousted terror groups like al-Queda and the Taliban are accused of financing farmers in the mountainous region to grow this lucrative cash crop because of the potential of earning easy money.

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    Where There’s a Will, There’s a Way…

    By Steven Taylor @ 2:17 pm

    Three Men Accused Of Smuggling Heroin Via Miami

    A federal grand jury in Rhode Island has learned about a new wrinkle in heroin smuggling.

    Investigators said more than four pounds of heroin brought in through Miami had been chemically altered into a slab like vinyl.

    The hardened drug was disguised as the gray lining of a suitcase.


    Similar “vinylized” heroin has been discovered at Miami International Airport and at LaGuardia Airport in New York.

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    Madrid Boming Related Arrests Made-5 in Custody

    By Steven Taylor @ 1:54 pm

    Reuters reports: Spain Holds 3 Moroccans, 2 Indians in Bomb Probe

    Three Moroccans and two Indians were arrested in Madrid as part of the investigation into train bombings that killed 200 people, Spain’s Interior Minister Angel Acebes said on Saturday.

    “Sixty hours after the brutal attack we now have five detentions,” the minister told a news conference.

    All the detentions were made “for presumed implication in the sale and falsification of the mobile phone and cards found in the bag that did not explode,” Acebes said.


    Acebes said some of those arrested may have links to Moroccan militants, but it was too early to say for sure.

    This continues to look less and less like an ETA, or, at least an ETA exclusive, event.

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    The 3/13 Toast-O-Meter

    By Steven Taylor @ 11:47 am

    -Toast: It’s not Just for Breakfast Anymore!-

    The Toast-o-meter: A Weekly News Round-Up and Handicapping of the Race for to be the next President of the United States.

    The Toast-O-Meter comes to you Fortified with linkage and Enhanced with bloggage.

    Sure, the Democratic Primaries continues, but the truth is, it�s two-slicer time: Bush v. Kerry to see who can reduce the other to toast over the next eight month.

    If you come across a news story, commentary or blog entry that you think would be good for the Toast-O-Meter, please submit it to:

    Feeling the Heat?

    Each week the candidates will have had one of three kinds of weeks:

  • Dough is on the Rise (this candidate had s good week)
  • Heat�s Off This Week (the candidate had a neutral week)
  • The heat is on (the candidate had a bad week)

    Slicing up this (Totally Insignificant)Week’s Contests

    Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas are all this week. Whoopee!

    This week brings us:

    March 13 Kansas
    March 16 Illinois

    And really, the main things to watch are the Illinois Senate primaries for both parties.


    Who will be toasted first? Will Kerry turn the President into Texas Toast? Or will the President make French Toast out of Kerry?

  • Indeed: If You Can’t Say Anything Nice, Run for President.
  • Support for Bush Falls on Economy and Iraq
    A majority of Americans - 57 percent - say they want their next president to steer the country away from the course set by Bush, according to the survey. Bush’s standing hit new lows in crucial areas such as the economy (39 percent support him), Iraq (46 percent) and the budget deficit (30 percent).

    Bush’s overall support, 50 percent, was unchanged from February and equal to the lowest of his presidency; only the war on terrorism continues to garner him the support of more than six in 10 Americans.

  • Kos has the the latest ARG numbers.
  • And we’ve only just begun: Bush, Kerry Step Up Attacks on Each Other.
  • Bush Blasts Kerry Over Intelligence Bill.
  • Robert Tagorda has into on fundraising sources for both Bush and Kerry.
  • Not surprising: Bush campaign seeks to liken Kerry, Gore.
  • Kerry wants monthly debates. Methinks that ain’t gonna happen.


  • Indeed: Job Shortage Is Kerry’s Best Bet to Unseat Bush From His.
  • Businessweek asks Where Are The Jobs? And notes that the culprit isn’t outsourcing, but rather
    The real culprit in this jobless recovery is productivity, not offshoring. Unlike most previous business cycles, productivity has continued to grow at a fast pace right through the downturn and into recovery. One percentage point of productivity growth can eliminate up to 1.3 million jobs a year. With productivity growing at an annual rate of 3% to 3 1/2% rather than the expected 2% to 2 1/2%, the reason for the jobs shortfall becomes clear: Companies are using information technology to cut costs - and that means less labor is needed. Of the 2.7 million jobs lost over the past three years, only 300,000 have been from outsourcing, according to Forrester Research Inc. People rightly fear that jobs in high tech and services will disappear just as manufacturing jobs did. Perhaps so. But odds are it will be productivity rather than outsourcing

  • Look for this ‘03 trade deficit record $541.8 billion to be increasingly part of the Kerry campaign’s jobs-attack on the Bush economy.
  • Clearly the Madrid bombings ratchet up the political significance of global terrorism.
  • The content of campaign ads seems to be this year’s battleground.
  • And the funding of commercials via 527s and whatever other loopholes can be found will also be a point of conflict. Thank you, McCain-Feingold, for “improving” the system.
  • Josh Marshall thinks that the Bush ad campaign to date has been a “goof” and thinks that Kerry needs to “hit back on defense. Now.

    George W. Bush-specific (The Heat�s On)

    Bush lags in the polls at this moment, and his approval rating hover in the 50-ish range.

  • Kos outlines how he thinks the Democrats can reframe the security debate. The argument that 911 can be tagged on Bush because he “ignored the threat of terrorism” strikes me as weak. The Iraq-distracted-from-al Qaeda argument I understand, however, and can see how it can be made. I don’t accept it, but see it as a legitimate policy discussion.
  • The President hit the campaign trail this week: Bush Comes North to Campaign in a Suburban Heartland,.
  • Missteps on Economy Worry Bush Supporters.

  • In his weekly radio address, Bush hits back at economy critics.

    John F. Kerry-specific (Dough is on the Rise)

    It is true that Kerry continues to poll well and that, therefore, his dough continues to rise. The question becomes is the whether there is substance or simply air, underneath the surface.

  • Democrats on Hill give Kerry hero’s welcome on return.
  • Stephen Green allows the Senator to fisk himself.
  • Kerry Not Sorry for Swipe at GOP Critics
    Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry says he does not intend to apologize for describing his critics in the Republican Party as “the most crooked … lying group I’ve ever seen.”

  • Will Collier (at VodkaPundit) comments on the above-cited comments by the Senator. Along the same lines, Professor Bainbridge nots that voting for Bush will annoy France (which he considers a good thing, to be sure). Eric the Vikign Pundit links to a faux bumper sticker that is apropos.
  • Pejman is dubious concerning Kerry’s alleged support from foreign leaders.
  • Erik of Confession of a Political Junkie comments on what he calls Kerry’s Rube Goldberg Foreign Policy.
  • Dodd Harris isn’t too impressed with Kerry’s foreign policy positions either.
  • Dean Joins Hands With Former Archfoe Kerry.



  • Kevin McGehee notes this piece from the AJC: Kerry’s VP search will be extensive.
  • Richardson: Doesn’t Want to be Veep.
  • James Joyner notes a Jon Fund piece which asks Brokaw for Veep?
  • Baltimore Sun columnist Jules Witcover notes that Past can guide Kerry in search for running mate. At least one lesson of note: don’t pick anyone who has ever had electro-shock therapy.
  • Ryan Lizza of the New Republic ponders the veepstakes.
  • If you need something to do, visit the Draft Kerry-Edwards 2004 site.
  • Citizen Smash fans the Kerry-McCain flames but remains rather skeptical.
  • James Joyner brings us further commentary on Kerry-McCain via Howard Fineman.


  • Cheney’s new role: liability, or, at least, so assesses the Baltimore Sun.

    The Moldy Loaf

  • First Ashcroft, now Kucinich in Hospital with Intestinal Ailment. Coincidence? I think not.
  • Here’s how Kucinich and Sharpton’s Southern Tuesday went:
    Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich and Rev. Al Sharpton, both trailing Kerry distantly, were still in the race, but Sharpton didn’t make it on the Louisiana ballot. Edwards was running second to Kerry in the four states despite dropping out.

  • This is what we call “a stretch": Kucinich still could be factor in presidential race. Must’ve been a slow news day at the Miami Herald.


  • Gore Sheds His Centrist Suit for a Decidedly Populist One
    Al Gore cut something of a lonesome figure standing by himself in the lobby of the Doubletree Riverside Hotel with no aides in sight, raccoon-eyed and with a puffy face from a ski slope sunburn. Some in the crowd stopped to say hello, while others seemed content pretending they hadn’t noticed the former vice president.

    Long moments passed as Gore waited silently for another hand to come forward for a shake.

    But a short time later, within minutes of taking the stage in the hotel’s packed ballroom last month, a growling, preaching, sweating Gore delivered a no-holds-barred, anti-Bush administration speech that had the crowd of 1,000 Idaho Democrats whooping, hollering and whispering.

  • What a shame: Bill Clinton: no plans for future office
    Former President Bill Clinton is not running for mayor of New York because one Clinton in office is enough and private life is “a hoot,” he said Tuesday.
    [Ed.-Insert your own joke here].

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    • Outside the Beltway linked with Toast-O-Meter Update
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    • Backcountry Conservative linked with Toasted Crumbs
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    • Confessions of a Failed M.C. linked with Did Not Happen
    EcoSystem Cooling?

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:35 am

    It would seem that global cooling has come to the The Blogosphere Ecosystem, as the details have been frozen since the 3/6, despite daily scans.

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    Feel the Love

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:18 am

    Robert Novak writes:

    James P. Hoffa was brought “kicking and screaming” to his presidential endorsement of Sen. John Kerry and really preferred Sen. John Edwards, according to a close associate of the Teamsters leader.

    Hoffa met separately with Kerry and Edwards after the union president’s first choice for the nomination, Rep. Richard Gephardt, dropped out following his defeat in the Iowa caucuses. Hoffa told friends that Edwards was much closer to Gephardt on international trade issues, adding that he did not care that much for Kerry personally.

    Gephardt had quickly endorsed Kerry, and he talked Hoffa into getting on the winner’s bandwagon. Gephardt and Hoffa attended the University of Michigan Law School together.

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    Friday, March 12, 2004
    If C-SPAN Was Like This, It Would Get Better Ratings

    By Steven Taylor @ 3:26 pm

    Here’s another, even better, picture from the South Korean National Assembly.

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    Comparative Politics

    By Steven Taylor @ 1:50 pm

    Kevin Drum makes a point on CalPundit that I made in class today: that if one looks at the behavior in the South Korean legislature, one realizes how civil our parties are, especially when they are on the floor of Congress.

    The difference between Kevin’s presentation of this point in mine are twofold: he has a picture, and his audience is much larger than my 9am American National Government class.

    (Note: minor PoliSci Prof nit-pick of Kevin’s post: Clinton was “really” impeached (i.e., formally charged) he simply wasn’t removed from office by the Senate. Indeed, if I understand the South Korean case, Roh has not been removed yet, either, although his powers have been suspended. It appears that the decision is in the hands of the country’s Constitutional Court, who will assess the charges from the Parliament).

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    • Kamelian X-Rays linked with Impeachment: Crisis or Opportunity?
    Technology Doesn’t Always Move Humanity Forward

    By Steven Taylor @ 1:37 pm

    This is just plain sad on so many levels that I don’t have time to list them.

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    More on the Bombings

    By Steven Taylor @ 12:46 pm

    The CSM has an excellent round-up of news stories on the Madrid bombing, specifically focusing on the ETA v. al Qaeda question.

    An interesting bit raises a question about the al Qaeda connection:

    A group called the Abu Hafs al-Masri Brigade did claim reponsibility for the bombing in the name of Al Qaeda. The group sent a letter sent to the London-based Arabic daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi saying it had carried out the bombings. Bloomberg News reports that the newspaper’s editor, Abdel Bari Atwan, told Sky News that the letter “uses similar language and the same style of Al Qaeda.” The Arabic statement also refers to an attack on the US that is almost ready. The statement hasn’t been verified as an Al Qaeda message.

    CNN reports there are some doubts about these Al Qaeda claims. Intelligence officials have said the group does not speak for Al Qaeda and has been unreliable in the past. CNN says there is question as to whether it exists at all beyond one person with a computer and a fax machine. (For instance, the ‘group’ claimed last year that it was behind the power blackouts in North America.)

    Although, it also points to a Miami Herald piece, which notes some of al Qaeda connections to Spain, including:

    At least some of the planning for the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon took place in Spain, and Spain has been a vocal U.S. ally in the war on terrorism. The nation has dispatched more than 1,000 troops to Iraq and a smaller number to Afghanistan. Last year, a Spanish diplomat and seven Spanish intelligence agents were assassinated in Iraq.

    Perhaps one of the most interesting elements in this story is the effect that the situation may be having on Europe, writ large:

    Regardless of who is responsible for the attacks, Reuters reports, European newspapers say that Thursday’s bombings in Spain mean that “terrorism is no longer a spectator sport” in Europe.
    “The mass terror of Madrid was aimed at the heart of Spain, but we’re all in the crosshairs of terrorism,” wrote Germany’s mass circulation Bild. “Who is still safe today? Terror is like a hydra with a thousand heads."… Fear of mass attacks was no longer the preserve of the Americans, said Italian daily La Repubblica in an editorial. “Whoever thought the American ‘devils’ were the only ones in the sights of Islamic terrorism was wrong. We are all in the same boat.”

    It is unfortunate that it takes such an event to convince some in Europe that they are at risk as well, but perhaps the events in Spain will bring into sharp focus the seriousness of the situation for countries and their citizens around the world.

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    Interesting: ETA Denies Responsibility

    By Steven Taylor @ 12:09 pm

    ETA Denies Role in Madrid Bombings

    The Basque separatist group ETA has denied responsibility for the train bombings that killed at least 199 people, Basque public television reported on Friday, citing a message it received from the armed group.

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    There’s a Shock

    By Steven Taylor @ 11:04 am

    Kerry Not Sorry for Swipe at GOP Critics

    Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry says he does not intend to apologize for describing his critics in the Republican Party as “the most crooked … lying group I’ve ever seen.”

    Clearly the Senator is trying to avoid the whole “Dukakis was a wimp who didn’t defend himself” routine. However, one wonders if the hyperbole is going to serve him well over an eight-month period. Further, it would seem that one would eventually seem either defensive (rather than defending oneself) or appear, eventually, to be the “candidate who cried wolf.”

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    A Question

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:55 am

    Kerry, at Capitol, Slams Republican ‘Attack Squad’

    Aside from calling him a flip-flopper, exactly what vicious attacks have their been?

    Surely saying he’ll raise taxes and pursue the war ont error differently than Bush isn’t an “attack"?

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    I Thought that BCRA Was Going to “Take the Money Out of Politics”

    By Steven Taylor @ 6:59 am

    Apparently, it didn’t: Senate Passes $2.36 Trillion Budget

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    198 Confirmed Dead

    By Steven Taylor @ 6:58 am

    Death Toll in Spain Bombings Rises to 198

    The death toll rose overnight from 192 to 198, deputy Justice Minister Rafael Alcala said, adding that 84 bodies remain unidentified. More than 1,400 people were wounded.

    Aznar said 14 foreigners were among the dead, including three Peruvians, two Hondurans, two Poles, and a person each from France, Chile, Cuba, Ecuador, Colombia, Morocco and Guinea-Bissau.

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    Political Effects and the Bombings in Spain

    By Steven Taylor @ 6:55 am

    I almost hate to pose this question, as it could appear insensitive, but I can�t help but wonder about the political implications of events, even tragic and despicable ones such as the bombings in Spain.

    So here�s the question: if al Qaeda is, in fact, behind the bombings in Spain, does that bolster President Bush�s argument that we are in a global war on terror and that we need a president in office who sees the conflict in those terms? Or, does the fact that al Qaeda was able to pull off a large attack on one of our key allies in the war on terror mean that the President�s policies have failed, and therefore signaling the need for a change?

    It occurs to me that the administration is in something of a catch-22: they believe that we are at war against terrorism, but if there are no major attacks, citizens have to wonder if the war rhetoric isn�t just hyperbole. However, if attacks do take place, which confirm the idea that there is indeed an ongoing process of attack on the US and its allies, then does not a successful attack mean that the US and its allies have failed in the war?

    To put it simply: no attacks, and people ask, what war? A successful attack and people will assert: we are losing the war!

    It will be interesting to see how the Kerry campaign and Terry McAuliffe deal with these events in the campaign.

    A related question will be: will this attack strengthen the resolve of the Spanish in their commitment to fight international terror, or will this attack (again, if it is al Qaeda behind it) lead the citizen of Spain to blame the US involvement in Iraq, and Aznar�s alliance with Bush, for bringing this attack down on their heads? This attack could result in either Spain as a stronger ally, or it could result in them scaling back or withdrawing from their involvement with the US in Iraq and elsewhere.

    UPDATE: This is my entry in today’s Beltway Traffic Jam

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    • linked with The Politics of the Bombing
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    Thursday, March 11, 2004
    A Far Cry from “I Didn’t Inhale”

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:30 pm

    Hull concedes he took cocaine in early ’80s

    Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Blair Hull acknowledged Wednesday he used cocaine and marijuana until the early 1980s and had twice sought evaluation for alcohol abuse.


    Hull held the lead in public opinion polls in the Democratic contest only weeks ago until his campaign was damaged over recent disclosures that he was accused of verbally and physically abusing an ex-wife during a 1998 divorce.


    Later, he said he used cocaine “occasionally” but stopped in the early 1980s, the same time he also said he stopped smoking marijuana. A few years before that, Hull said, he had sought treatment for alcoholism. In 1985, he said, he sought a second round of alcohol abuse treatment, adding that doctors concluded at the time he did not have a drinking problem.

    Indeed, the primaries on both sides for the Illinois Senate seat have been somewhat tawdry:

    Meanwhile, the Republican Senate contest veered sharply away from issues and toward the gutter as frontrunner Jack Ryan claimed to be the victim of a “smear campaign” after rival John Borling shopped vague statements about being privy to embarrassing information regarding Ryan’s 1999 divorce.


    In a statement Borling offered, unsolicited, to reporters, he claimed to have come to know details of things in the sealed files that could jeopardize Ryan’s electability if they became public.

    Then, saying he found “this matter distasteful,” Borling declined to elaborate on what he was suggesting.

    And while I suppose it would be cool to have a Senator Jack Ryan, I have to wonder about a guy who let Seven of Nine get away.

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    Just Let the Market Do its Thing

    By Steven Taylor @ 7:26 pm

    I don’t like breast-exposures at the Super Bowl, nor do I listen to or watch Howard Stern (and Goodness knows I would switch the station if a DJ was named “Bubba the Love Sponge"), but I don’t see the point of Congress wasting time and money on this: House Cracks Down on Radio, TV Indecency, especially since it is all for show: the standards will continue to creep and we will see move and more until we hit the point that people turn the station.

    It isn’t like this is really going to work, except that DJs and broadcast outlets are going to be skiddish in the short term.

    Further, I simply don’t care for the government trying to figure out what we should and shouldn’t see or hear.

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    Spain Bombing

    By Steven Taylor @ 6:12 pm

    NPR interviewed an expert on terrorism from Jane’s and he noted that there has been a serious crack-down on ETA in recent months in Spain, France and Latin America, which theoretically should have diminished their capabilities. Couple that with the magnitude of the bombings, which outstrips anything they have done in the past, and it gives serious credence to the idea that it was in fact al Qaeda.

    OTB has some links to varies stories on the topic.

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

    By Steven Taylor @ 11:23 am

    Busy day. Extremely light blogging.

    ‘nuf said (cuz that’s all the time I have)

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    Kethcup with That?

    By Steven Taylor @ 6:42 am

    Sean Hackbarth of the American Mind has his latest Kerry-related linkfest: Kerry’s House of Ketchup #3.

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    Wednesday, March 10, 2004
    Rehnquist and the “R” Word

    By Steven Taylor @ 4:19 pm

    Chief Justice Rehnquist Mulls Retirement

    Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist turns 80 this year and acknowledges he’s thinking about retirement. But he won’t say when that might come.

    “At age 79 you can’t help but think about retirement,” he told NBC’s “Today” show in an interview airing Wednesday. “Your life expectancy isn’t what it once was. And you’ve got to think about the possibility of retirement.”

    Asked if he would remain on the Supreme Court, he said, “I’ll just stick with what I just said.”

    The widower, who has served on the court since 1972, generally avoids discussing the subject of retirement and rarely gives interviews. In a television interview three years ago he said he would consider retiring rather than the alternative: dying in office.

    My guess is he announces his retirement early next year.

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    Where you Sit is Where you Stand (Or Something Like That)

    By Steven Taylor @ 2:56 pm

    Or maybe it depends on whose ox is being gored… (or whichever cliche you like).

    One thing is for sure, there are times when it is blatanly obvious that we sometimes see the world rather differently. To wit, to reactions two this bite that McCain would “entertain” a veep-offer from Kerry:

    James Joyner says:

    Well, they both served in Vietnam (or so I�m told), they both hate George Bush, and they�re both Democrats.

    Yet, Kevin Drum has a rather different reaction:

    Yeah, John McCain, the “early foot soldier in the Reagan Revolution.” He may be a nice guy to have a beer with, but he’s really conservative, and the fact that he has an occasional spat with George Bush doesn’t really change that. (emphasis his)

    In any event, it is clear that Senator McCain evokes a range of reactions.

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    • Outside the Beltway linked with Kerry-McCain
    • Priorities & Frivolities linked with Kerry-McCain?
    • Citizen Smash - The Indepundit linked with McCain Teases Democrats
    Sheer Genius

    By Steven Taylor @ 2:31 pm

    Police: Woman Tried to Pass Fake $1M Bill

    woman was caught trying to use a fake $1 million bill to buy $1,675 worth of merchandise at a Wal-Mart, and was later found with two more of the bills in her purse, police said.

    Gee whiz, if you are going to go that route, but more than that. Plus, does she have any idea how heavy $998,325.00 in change is? Even in big bills that would be quite a load.

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    Tenet Round-Up

    By Steven Taylor @ 11:12 am

    Kevin Drum asks What Did Tenet Say? and notes how the major paper all interpreted Tenet’s statements somewhat differently. Although I would note that the idea summarized in the WaPo line is represented in the actual NYT piece as well.

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    Shocker of the Week

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:47 am

    Kerry Easily Wins Four Southern Primaries

    And this is, as a reader noted, the true shocker of the night:

    President Bush had a notable night of his own, if one with even less suspense: The unchallenged president crossed the necessary threshold of 1,255 delegates to wrap up the Republican nomination, according to an Associated Press count.

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    Kerry’ll Love This

    By Steven Taylor @ 6:39 am

    Plus, I predict that it will fuel the fire for those who want Cheney off the ticket: C.I.A. Chief Says He’s Corrected Cheney Privately

    Mr. Tenet identified three instances in which he had already corrected public statements by President Bush or Mr. Cheney or would do so, but he left the impression that there had been more.

    Of course, I suspect this part won’t make it to Kerry’s stump speech:

    In response to a question, he said he did not think the administration had misrepresented facts to justify going to war.

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    • Rooftop Report linked with Morning Bang - - Ellipses Rule, Girls Drool
    Tuesday, March 9, 2004
    FDR and the “Remember Pearl Harbor” Button (One More Time)

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:28 pm

    The now much-discussed (such as here, here, here and here, for example) “button” of FDR with “Remember Pearl Harbor” emblazoned upon it is not, after all, a button from the 1944 campaign. It is, however, not a photoshop item either.

    A graduate student of mine, Lisa Antonio, did the most logical thing, and instead of assuming that the thing was a button because it looked like one, e-mailed the curator of the museum upon whose web site the piece was featured (i.e., the Museum of World War II, a private museum near Boston). At any rate, the curator, Mr. Mark A. Schmidt replied to the query with the following:

    Thank you for the inquiry into the Roosevelt “Remember the Pearl Harbor” plaque.
    It is indeed a plaster work produced by Jack Ruby’s souvenir company.
    The piece is on display in our Pearl Harbor section, the description tag next to the piece reads as follows:

    “Links in History: This Franklin Delano Roosevelt plaque was produced and sold by Jack Ruby circa 1942.”

    This piece is 1 of 10 known to still be existence.

    Rather fascinating, yes? Lisa noted that the graphics files was called “08a_Roosevelt-plaque.jpg” which led her to realize that it wasn’t a button.

    This led to an online search:

    When search “remember Pearl Harbor” and roosevelt and plaque. One come across

    This link is to the Warren Report and it mentions Jack Ruby’s attempt to market plaques of Roosevelt and the Remember Pearl Harbor motto.

    The Jack Ruby connection is, shall we say, remarkable, and rather unexpected.

    The whole thing goes to show how easily we all jump to conclusions when there is a visual, when we otherwise might be more skeptical or rigorous in our research. The photoshop angle alone should give on pause these days, but even when something is real, it isn’t always what it appears to be.

    UPDATE: This is my entry in the 3/10 Beltway Traffic Jam

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    By Steven Taylor @ 3:43 pm

    ‘Priceless’ parody ad singes Kerry on lifestyle

    Citizens United, headed by former Republican congressional aide David Bossie, began airing the ad - a parody of MasterCard’s “priceless” commercials - on cable and broadcast channels Sunday in select presidential battleground states.

    The ad shows Kerry, boats at a marina, and oceanfront property as an announcer says: “Massachusetts Senator John Kerry. Hairstyle by Christophe’s: $75. Designer shirts: $250. Forty-two-foot luxury yacht: $1 million. Four lavish mansions and beachfront estate: Over $30 million.”

    Another shot is of Kerry and Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts, with the words: “Another rich, liberal elitist from Massachusetts who claims he’s a man of the people. Priceless.”


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    • Outside the Beltway linked with Priceless Parody
    • Tiger: Raggin’ & Rantin’ linked with Tuesday, 03-09-2004
    Thank You, BCRA

    By Steven Taylor @ 3:36 pm

    I am beginning to think that campaign finance reform was secretly created by lawyers so that they would have more to do. Here’s the new cycle: one side/group will try to find a way to get around the law or test a new loophole, and the other side will challenge the process as illegal, and instead of groups fighting on the airwaves, their attorneys will be in court or in administrative hearings.

    Yes, this is a huge improvement.

    Bush Campaign Seeks Probe of Election Ads

    A group financed in part by liberal billionaire George Soros will run $5 million worth of TV ads against President Bush that mention the Republican by name, a point of contention among the president’s re-election team that argues the spots violate federal law.


    Bush’s campaign, which began its own $10 million initial ad blitz last week, called the group’s activity illegal. The campaign said it would file a complaint with the FEC accusing the Media Fund of violating a broad, new ban on the use of “soft money” � corporate, union and unlimited contributions � for federal election activity.

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    And I Just Thought Last Week was Forgotten Tuesday…

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:30 am

    Tuesday’s vote is primarily practice

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    Immunity Bill Before Alabama Legislature

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:02 am

    Of course, to put the Holmes/ASU story into some context, is this piece: Immunity bill goes to House. Like most states, in Alabama

    State law provides lawmakers with immunity from an arrest in all cases except treason, felony, violation of their oath of office and breach of the peace when the Legislature is in session.

    Well, I say most states, I know that that was the case in Texas and I have seen similar provisions elsewhere.

    However, this may change in Alabama:

    If an Alabama legislator fails to pay child support or gets stopped by police for drunken driving, he or she should be treated just like any other state resident, according to lawmakers pushing a bill to revamp immunity provisions in the state constitution that protect legislators.

    A bill to change the law was approved Wednesday by a House committee.


    One exception in Love’s bill states that a legislator could not be held liable for anything he or she says while speaking on the House or Senate floor.

    The Holmes connection? He is essentially the inspiration for the bill:

    Holmes was stopped Feb. 4, shortly before midnight when an off-duty county deputy spotted him weaving in and out of his lane on I-65 South near the Fairview Avenue exit.

    The deputy, Gil Robinson, reported that he used his patrol lights to pull Holmes to the side of the road. He said that when he approached Holmes, he noticed that the representative’s speech was slurred and that there was smell of alcohol on his breath.

    Holmes said he was having car trouble and was not drunk.

    The representative was not arrested that night, and Montgomery County Sheriff D.T. Marshall said Holmes did not receive a ticket because of the state’s immunity law.

    Holmes has since claimed he was the victim of racial profiling that night. He also claims that current attempts to change state law regarding legislative immunity are a racist stab at him.

    “They are doing this strictly because of racism,” Holmes said. “The legislative immunity bill has been on the law since 1901. It is now 2004, and white folks hadn’t said nothing about it until a black man used it.”

    Love, along with Rep. Jack Venable, D-Tallassee, spoke before the committee Wednesday and urged passage of the bills.

    Venable said the he didn’t want “any of our law enforcement” to be under the impression that they couldn’t issue a ticket or arrest a legislator who is breaking the law.

    Love said no legislator should be immune from arrest or receiving a ticket.

    No joke.

    Holmes says he will support the bill, with some changes:

    Holmes said he would vote for Love’s bill when it comes before the full House, but there would have to be a compromise
    althought it is unclear to me what that compromise would be
    “I would be for repealing legislative immunity for lawmakers if they repeal discretionary immunity for law enforcement people,” Holmes said. “As of now, law enforcement don’t have to have any proof of anything. They can just walk up to you and say, ‘It appears that he is on some drugs.’”

    I suppose that that is technically true of law enforcement vis-a-vis any citizen. There is, of course, that whole thing about proof being needed for a conviction and all that…

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    A Remarkable Tale

    By Steven Taylor @ 7:48 am

    This was in last week’s Montgomery Advertiser, and I have been meaning to comment on it: ASU faculty says Holmes’ deal unfair

    Alabama taxpayers are paying state Rep. Alvin Holmes $42,250 to teach one world history class at Alabama State University, and faculty members, most of whom teach four courses for the same amount of pay, are enraged over what they call Holmes’ preferential treatment.

    Holmes, a Democrat who represents Montgomery, also draws a $21,344 check every year for his work as a community relations assistant, a job he likened to a “university liaison.”


    “Mr. Holmes is listed as a full-time faculty member, but he does not teach four courses, he is not required to attend faculty or department meetings and is not required to attend college meetings,” Moten said. “I have never seen Rep. Holmes in academic regalia or at Founder’s Day convocations, and he is not subject to peer review.”


    According to information provided by ASU’s Department of University Relations, Holmes’ course, History 132, is a study of major world civilizations from ancient times to the modern era with emphasis on social, cultural, political and economic development. The class has a maximum enrollment of 45 students, and 37 are enrolled this semester.

    As a community relations specialist, a position he has held since 1981, Holmes works for William Brock, vice president for institutional advancement. Holmes said the job requires him to assist in fund raising, job placement for graduates and positive promotion for the university.

    “I sit and have dinner or a cup of coffee with people and tell them about Alabama State University,” he said. “I have a very close relationship with Alabama State University and I have helped the school get a lot of money over the years.”

    Gee, nice work if you can get it. I would have coffee with folks and teach one class, if that’s all it takes, especially since it has resulted in his getting tenure:

    According to information provided by ASU’s Department of University Relations, Holmes was hired as a history instructor in 1975 and became an assistant professor in 1981, the same year he was granted tenure. Holmes said he has never taught more than two classes a semester.

    Now, for a school where a faculty member’s load is a 4-4 (i.e., four courses per semester), this is a grossly out of balance situation, especially since one suspects that the Representative has done no academic work upon which to build a case for tenure, not to mention since he only have a masters degree (granted, two of them). Were I one ASU’s faculty, I would be incensed. As a taxpayer in Alabama, I can’t say I am overly pleased.

    But it is, of course, good to know that he has kept a sense of humbleness about himself:

    “A person of my status who is nationally known and has access to the White House and who is quoted in national newspapers should be paid more than I am,” he said. “If I was a faculty member at Auburn University or the University of Alabama, I would have a chair position and wouldn’t be teaching any classes. I should be making at least $500,000 a year.”

    UPDATE: This post is part the Beltway Traffic Jam (the OTB one, not the Mother Jones one).

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    Signs that Shoudn’t Have to Exist

    By Steven Taylor @ 7:05 am

    “Please don’t spit in the stairwell”

    Filed under: Academia | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
    From the “Ya Don’t Say?” Department

    By Steven Taylor @ 5:42 am

    Conviction Clouds Martha Stewart’s Future

    Filed under: Courts/the Judiciary | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
    Monday, March 8, 2004
    Heads or Tails?

    By Steven Taylor @ 7:10 pm

    I bet this will affect the choices NFL teams make at halftime. You can bank on the fact that it will influence Bill Belichick, who loves this kind of stuff.

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    He May Suggest, But…

    By Steven Taylor @ 3:49 pm

    Kennedy suggests Bush’s recess appointment may be unconstitutional. All well and good, but the research I did when then first came up suggests that little will come of the Senator’s suggestion.

    Filed under: Courts/the Judiciary | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
    Mother Jones Reads OTB

    By Steven Taylor @ 3:42 pm

    Or, at least, they’re stealing his schtick: Beltway Traffic Jam

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    • Outside the Beltway linked with Beltway Traffic Jam
    Officer, I Really Thought it was Chicken Florentine!

    By Steven Taylor @ 3:16 pm

    Marijuana Found in Load of Frozen Chickens.

    1,240 pounds worth, in fact…

    Filed under: War on Drugs | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
    Bloggin for Dollars

    By Steven Taylor @ 1:34 pm

    A sincere congratulations to Kevin Drum who is going to shift from amateur to professional blogger.

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    Speaking of Campaign Buttons…

    By Steven Taylor @ 1:30 pm

    Given that disucssions of campaign buttons are all the rage, the followng from the John Kerry for President Blog might be of interest:

    When Teresa Heinz-Kerry arrived, she handed me a pin that read in the center: “Asses of Evil” with “Bush", “Cheney,” “Rumsfeld” and “Ashcroft” surrounding it. She met, greeted and talked to a jam-packed room of Kerry supporters and others who came for the MoveOn documentary.

    Sadly, no image of the button was availble for posting.

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    The FDR “Remember Pearl Harbor” Piece

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:37 am

    It would appear, based on some research a graduate student of mine did after seeing the discussion online about the piece, that the “Remember Pearl Harbor"/FDR piece is authentic, but is not a button from the campaign.

    I do not have all the details at the moment, but will post them once I get them.

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    Interesting/Good News

    By Steven Taylor @ 6:39 am

    Iraq Council Signs Delayed Interim Constitution

    Iraq’s Governing Council signed an interim constitution Monday after two delays, in a key step toward a planned handover of sovereignty by U.S.-led occupying powers to Iraqis on June 30.

    The signing took place at a hastily arranged ceremony in Baghdad after Shi’ite Muslim members of the 25-member council persuaded Iraq’s foremost cleric at the weekend to go along with the document despite reservations.

    Of course, there was also a rocket attack on Baghdad yesterday as well. Indeed, as I noted before, I expect the attacks to escalate as the transition nears-the best bet the pro-Saddam/al Qaeda-linked groups have is to destabilize Iraq before the new government can successfully construct new institutions.

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    Sunday, March 7, 2004
    Letting a Prop Get in the Way…

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:04 pm

    I will say this: the FDR button issue is a good example of letting a prop get in the way of an argument. It really doesn’t matter if FDR evoked Pearl Harbor or not in 1944, the issue is whether or not it is reasonable to evoke 911 in the current context, and as I acknowledged here, there is a point at which such usages are exploitation, but as I also noted earlier today, the placement of that line is probably dependent on how you view anti-terrorism policy and 911 in that context.

    It is also difficult to adequately compare campaign advertisements in 1944 to 2004.

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    The Button is Real After All

    By Steven Taylor @ 6:20 pm

    Mark the Pundit, in an e-mail, pointed me to Museum of World War II. If you scroll down, click on Pearl Harbor and then scroll down a bit you will note that the “Remember Pearl Harbor” button is displayed. This would indicate that the button is genuine.

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    • Outside the Beltway linked with FDR "Remember Pearl Harbor" Button
    Another Thought on Campaign Rhetoric

    By Steven Taylor @ 2:15 pm

    It occurs to me that part of the divide here on the 911 imagery issue (aside from the obvious Democrat v. Republican part of the discussion), is that those who are predisposed to be pro-Bush tend to look at 911 and its aftermath as truly in the context of a war on terrorism. However, those predisposed to support Kerry see it more as a law enforcement/international cooperation issue. If one actually sees President Bush as a “war president” in any capacity, then images of war, even the coffins, don’t seem all that problematic. Rather, they seem quite real and appropriate. If, however, one views the situation as something other war, even if one takes the situation quite seriously, then one likely sees these images as a kind of visual hyperbole.

    Although I still maintain that there are those engaged on the political side who wish to critique the ads because they see them as raising an issue that Kerry is weak on.

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    Richardson: Doesn’t Want to be Veep

    By Steven Taylor @ 2:08 pm

    New Mexico’s Richardson Says No to Kerry’s VP Job

    New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson said on Sunday he was not interested in being tapped as the Democratic vice presidential candidate.

    Appearing on the CBS “Face the Nation” program, Richardson said, “I love being governor of New Mexico. We’ve made a lot of progress. My job isn’t finished yet. I’ve only been governor a year.

    While I think he would be a great coice for Kerry, I am not surprised that he is taking this position. If he has presidential aspirations, there is still plenty of time for it in the future.

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    War and Campaign Rhetoric

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:08 am

    Betsy Newmark points out (with a picture and everything) that FDR used WWII as part of his campaign in 1944 (in this case, on a button), and you can click here to see an FDR button with the phrase “Remember Pearl Harbor” emblazoned on it.

    Such examples make this and this a bit silly.

    Not to mention the simple fact that how could a President in time of great conflict, not refer to such conflict in his re-election campaign?

    And we won’t mention Kerry’s use of Viet Nam (where he served, in case you didn’t know) in his commercials.

    UPDATE: It may be that the “Remember Pearl Harbor” button is a photoshoped picture, as I cannot find a site with historical buttons that has it up, although I haven’t done extensive research. While I have seen it at Balloon Juice and and at least one other place, I will base my argument solely on the button the Betsy found, which is authentic as best i can tell, having found it on numerous sites that show actual buttons in historical context.

    I still argue that the response to these commercials have been disproportionate and media-driven. And while I can accept the criticism, to a degree, of the coffin shot, I still do not find it illegitimate, although it could be said to be over the top. Still the bottom line is: when an event such at 911 takes place in the future, should it, and there are more flag-draped coffins to have to deal with, who do you want in the White House to deal with it? Or, for that matter, which man do you think is better equipped to ward off such possibilities. That is the real debate, not what images appear in a commercial.

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    • Quotes, Thoughts, and other Ramblings linked with On the Bush ads and the Democratic Response.
    • Outside the Beltway linked with FDR "Remember Pearl Harbor" Button
    Kerry’s Radio Address

    By Steven Taylor @ 7:49 am

    Daily Kos has an excerpt from Kerry’s radio address yesterday (he gave the Democrat’s response to the President). In the excerpt Kerry details numerous lacks that our troops face in Iraq including the lack of anti-missile systems on helicopters, the lack of armor on Humvees, and the lack of sufficient body armor for the troops.

    To which Kos states that “This is deadly stuff".

    However, one has to wonder for whom. For while even if every single charge Kerry levies is factually accurate and properly interpreted, isn’t Kerry the one who voted against the $87 billion to help pay for the war effort in Iraq? Isn’t Kerry the one who has often voted against increases in the defense budget, and specifically has voted against a number of weapons systems over the years? It would seem a difficult argument to make that Kerry is the candidate of the two who would be spending more for defense. Indeed, isn’t one of the charges made against the Bush administration over spending, and specifically defense spending?

    And this charge is ludicrous:

    What we face isn’t a question of the budget; it’s a question of priorities and values. This Administration has given billions to Halliburton and requested 82 million dollars to protect Iraq’s 36 miles of coast line. But they call this basic body armor a `non-priority’ item

    One defends the coast line because it is one of the main ways by which oil will leave the country, which will produce the money needed to rebuild Iraq, which in turn makes our troops safer. Further, as a former member of the Navy, one would think Kerry would understand the value of protecting key seaports.

    And last I heard, we weren’t “giving” Halliburton anything, but rather paying them to help reconstruct infrastructure that will help get the Iraqi economy going, which will have the same affect as mentioned above regarding the coastline: it will improve conditions in Iraq and result in greater safety for our troops.

    This speech appears to me to help fuel the “he’s on two sides of every argument” thesis, so it may be “deadly” rhetoric, but not in the direction that Kerry wishes it to go.

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    • Outside the Beltway linked with Kerry's Radio Address
    Saturday, March 6, 2004
    Hell Hath No Fury…

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:32 pm

    Yowza: Congressman’s Ex-Wife Runs Against Him

    Becky Whetstone has something to say to people who think they know why she’s running for Congress: Enough already with the jilted-wife-hellbent-on-revenge theory.

    It’s true that her former husband holds the congressional seat she is seeking. It’s also true that last year she announced she was writing a tell-much book titled “The Congressman’s Wife.” Yes, she says on her campaign Web site that she’s angry about his “cruelty and selfishness within the marriage, and then the one-sided injustice of the divorce.”

    Despite all that, she insists, she’s not running to get even with her ex, Democratic Rep. Charlie Gonzalez.

    Although if she really wanted to beat him, she should’ve run in the primary as a Democrat

    Gonzalez, 58, has no opponents in the Democratic primary for the 20th District and Whetstone is running as an independent, so she does not compete in a primary. They’ll face each other and Republican Roger Scott, who also is unopposed, in the November general election.

    Indeed, this sounds more like a publicity stunt than a run at the seat.

    Her profession is amusing, given the context:

    She is a marriage and family therapist, is enrolled in a doctorate program in counseling at St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, teaches at the school, and is raising two teenagers from a previous marriage.

    And, indeed:

    The San Antonio newspaper has called Whetstone’s candidacy “a sad soap opera.”

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    • Obsidian Wings linked with Toast and Bitter Revenge.
    Lectures v. Discussion

    By Steven Taylor @ 2:34 pm

    The Invisible Adjunct raises the question of Lecture versus Discussion as a teaching method, and quotes two opposing viewpoints on the subject.

    My experience has been that there are three factors that determine whether lecture or discussion is a better format: 1) the level of the course (e.g., intro, advanced undergrad, grad), 2) the subject matter, and 3) the size of the class.

    Variable 1 is almost a continuous spectrum: the more advanced the class, the more that discussion becomes integral to the course. So that an intro-level general studies course is normally (for me) basically straight-discussion lecture (brain fade at original typing), while a graduate seminar should, ideally, consist almost entirely of the students discussing the course materials.

    Indeed, there is a sub-set of the first variable, and that is the general competency level of the students, as I do a great deal of discussion in my Honors intro to American Government class (which is full of polisci majors and freshmen in the campus honors program), but find discussion to normally be utterly impossible in the general studies version of the same course, which is populated by freshmen through seniors, most of which really would prefer not to take the course in the first place.

    I would also think that some disciplines are more lecture-oriented than others. I am not sure, for example, how much discussion there should or could be in an advanced chemistry class, for example.

    And certainly the size of the class matters.

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    • Signifying Nothing linked with Something to talk about
    The Toasty Hotline

    By Steven Taylor @ 11:47 am

    I meant to include this below, but if you come across a news story, commentary or blog entry that you think would be good for the Toast-O-Meter, please submit it to:

    I don’t guarantee that every suggestion will used, but credit will be attributed when a suggestion is used. Feel free to submit entries from your own blog.

    Filed under: 2004 Campaign | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
    It’s Now a Two-Slicer! The 3/6 Edition of the Toast-O-Meter

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:02 am

    -Toast: It’s not Just for Breakfast Anymore!-

    The Toast-o-meter: A Weekly News Round-Up and Handicapping of the Race for to be the next President of the United States.

    The Toast-O-Meter comes to you Fortified with linkage and Enhanced with bloggage.

    Given that the Democratic nominating process is all over for practical purposes, is it time to toss the clunky multi-slice toaster and pull out the two-slicer: it�s Bush v. Kerry to see who can reduce the other to toast over the next eight month.

    The Toast-O-Meter will continue to monitor the primaries as well, but with diminished emphasis.

    New & Expanded Features!: Now that we have moved to a new phase, the Toast-O-Meter has added a few new features:

  • �Slice2Slice�: Stories dealing specifically about the two candidates directly addressing one another. This will be accompanied by individual Bush or Kerry stories.
  • �Brewing Issues�: A weekly round-up of the issues that are shaping the race, part of Slice2Slice.
  • �The Moldy Loaf�: The �Crumb Pile� will be replaced by intermittent news of those candidates who can�t take the hint. At this point the metaphor shifts from the idea of defeat to that of that loaf of bread in the back of the cupboard that ought to be thrown away, but nobody really notices that it�s there, so it just gets moldier by the week.
  • �The Vice-Loaf�: takes one a whole new significance now that we know for sure that Kerry�s the guy.

  • The scale is different now as well: instead of classifications along a spectrum, the issue is really whether or not Kerry is French Toast or Bush is Texas Toast. That may take a while to determine, so the issue is the amount of heat each is feeling:

    Feeling the Heat?

    Each week the candidates will have had one of three kinds of weeks:

  • Dough is on the Rise (this candidate had s good week)
  • Heat�s Off This Week (the candidate had a neutral week)
  • The heat is on (the candidate had a bad week)

    Slicing up this (Largely Insignificant)Week’s Contests

    Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas are all this week. Whoopee!

  • Ya think? Kerry’s triumph reduces role of Texas primary. Ironically, Texas was supposed to be a Super Tuesday state, but had to move it back a week because of the redistricting battle.
  • Says the Leesville, LA Daily Leader: State’s primary: Irrelevant, but taking place.
  • In Jacksonville, FL: Despite Kerry’s Lock On Nomination, Florida Primary Still On.

  • Nonetheless, Kerry is campaigning in the South, leading to amusing headlines such as: Easterner Kerry Goes Cajun in Bid for Southern Support.


    Who will be toasted first? Will Kerry turn the President into Texas Toast? Or will the President make French Toast out of Kerry?

    And so it beings… Kerry and Bush Kick Off 8-Month Battle

  • Kerry to make election referendum on Bush. Wow! What an unusual tact for a challenger to take.
  • The Political Wire notes that Kerry And Bush Tied In New Poll.
  • Dave Wissing has a round-up of all the Bush v. Kerry polling. In sum: they’re all close, and all don’t mean too much at this stage. He has state-level data as well.


  • Gun Votes Now Part of Political Agenda.
    The Senate’s repudiation of a gun industry legal protection bill this week gave the National Rifle Association an unexpected blow and injected gun policy into this year’s elections.

    Lawmakers, lobbyists and experts on gun politics said the odd spectacle of pro-gun senators stampeding to kill their own legislation will have repercussions at the ballot box.

    Both Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, the presumptive 2004 Democratic presidential nominee, and Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina, then still in the White House race, interrupted their campaigns to cast gun control votes on Tuesday.

  • Clearly, this will continue to be one of the issues: U.S. Job Growth Anemic in February. As another story also notes: Lackluster Job Numbers a Growing Problem for Bush.
  • Kos reminds us that the Plame investigation continues.

    George W. Bush (The Heat�s On)

  • Bush Re-Election Ads Focus on Past 3 Years
  • Says WaPo: TV Ads Portray Bush Tackling Tough Times.
  • Bush’s tv campaign started this week, to much discussion. For coverage, just go here and scroll down.
  • John Hawkins isn’t too impressed with the President’s new ads.
  • Meanwhile, Dean Esmay asks Who’s Really Attacking The Ads?
  • Kevin Drum is having a hrad time getting worked up over the ads and wishes the Dems wouldn’t be so squeemish on the topic.
  • Mathhew Yglesias notes some Bush flip-flops.

    John F. Kerry (Dough is on the Rise)

  • Indeed: Wins Leave Kerry With 8-Month Challenge: Beat the Incumbent.
  • Despite the withdrawal of Edwards, Kerry making Southern swing.
  • Kerry Lags Behind Bush in Fund Raising
  • Blackfive and Dean Esmay, and Dave Wissing comment on King Jung Il’s preferences in the upcoming elections.
  • Bill Hobbs is trying to hold Kerry’s feet to the fire.
  • Robert Prather and Chris Lawrence discuss Kerry’s liberalness.



  • So reports WaPo on the Vice Hunt:
    Kerry said he has asked Washington veteran James Johnson, a former president of Fannie Mae and a onetime aide to Walter F. Mondale, to lead his vice presidential search, amid speculation in political circles that Kerry might name a running mate earlier than usual.


    The vice presidential sweepstakes are certain to focus heavily on Edwards, who exit polls repeatedly showed was seen by Democrats as an appealing and spirited campaigner, even though he won only one state. Edwards aides said nothing publicly about this prospect, but privately they acknowledged that Edwards is eager to do whatever he is asked in the fight against Bush. Some in the crowd here waved homemade “Kerry-Edwards” placards.

  • Robert Tagorda deals with The Democratic Vice-Presidential Candidate.
  • The AP reports that Kerry Begins to Select Running Mate.
  • Ipse Dixit has a John Kerry veep-pool going. Send him your selection and maybe win a fabaluous prize!
  • Slate asks: Could Kerry Pick McCain for VP? To which PoliBlog answer: ain’t gonna happen, but it makes for a nice fantasy.
  • Eugene Volokh deals with the idea of Bill Clinton as veep. I would further ask: why, aside from a tin-foil-hat theory which posits that Clinton would have Kerry killed so he could be prez, would Clinton want to be Vice-President?
  • Oliver Willis wants Edwards for Vice President.
  • Eric, the Viking Punidt, issues his own veep prediction.
  • Kevin Drum looks at the likelihood of a Kerry-Edwards ticket and does a little historical research on veep-picking.


  • Robert Tagorda also asks: Is Dick Cheney on the Chopping Block?. James Joyner also weighs in on the topic and Chris Lawrence also has thoughts on this subject.

    The Moldy Loaf

  • James Joyner notes a Fred Kaplan piece on Sharpton, which notes, amongst other things, that Al only received 3% percentage points more of the vote in New York than Kucinich. That, my friends, is just plain sad.
  • Shockingly enough: Kucinich has no plans to drop out of race, he says.
  • Alabama finally gets some candidates to visit the state, and it’s going to be Sharpton and Kucinich: Sharpton, Kucinich to attend Selma march anniversary activities. That’s what a June primary’ll get for your state.

  • Filed under: 2004 Campaign | Comments (1) | Trackbacks(9)
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    • Outside the Beltway linked with Toast-O-Meter Update
    • blogoSFERICS linked with A Toast!
    • Mark the Pundit linked with Updated Toast-O-Meter
    • CALIFORNIA YANKEE linked with This Week's Toast Is Up
    • Signifying Nothing linked with Toast comes to Dixie
    • Obsidian Wings linked with Toast and Bitter Revenge.
    • Insults Unpunished linked with Weekly Assessment Of The Democrats -- A Note On Chicago Too
    • Rooftop Report linked with The Morning Bang
    • Jorfish’s Freshwater Blog linked with PoliBlog: It's Now a Two-Slicer!

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:38 am

    Lest there be any doubt, here’s proof you can have a blog about almost anything.

    Filed under: Blogging | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
    Gee, I Wonder Why?

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:01 am

    Also from Novak, writing about King Jung Il:

    According to these reports, the communist dictator has expressed his dissatisfaction about dealing with Bush. He is said to have much preferred his contacts with President Bill Clinton and expressed hope that the same kind of cooperation might be possible if John Kerry is elected.

    Filed under: War on Terror | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
    Are Terry’s Days Numbered?

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:57 am

    Robert Novak:

    Presidential nominee-apparent John Kerry has no intention of forcing out Terry McAuliffe as Democratic National chairman for the time being but wants him to watch his words more closely.

    After Sen. Kerry clinched the nomination in Super Tuesday’s primaries, an aide told reporters the campaign wanted to get McAuliffe entirely off television. That is not exactly the campaign’s position, but the senator’s aides do want to restrain the chairman. He recently publicly declared that he would continue to attack George W. Bush’s National Guard record even though Kerry disapproved of that approach.

    McAuliffe’s job appears to be safe at least through the party’s national convention in Boston this summer. A Washington dealmaker, McAuliffe was not a popular choice to head the Democratic National Committee following the 2000 election. Bill and Hillary Clinton insisted on it, and Al Gore decided not to make a fight.

    I figured that the rumors that Kerry was going to immediately replace McAuliffe were unlikely to be accurate, as it would cause a potential public fight at the precise moment that the Democrats wish to present themselves as one big happy, unified, party (just go look at the DNC web page). That he might go after the convention, however, makes sense.

    Filed under: 2004 Campaign | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
    Friday, March 5, 2004
    Building Blog Traffic

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:00 pm

    Dealing with this made me think of the following:

    Ways to Build Traffic:


  • Leave good comments on the blogs of others-it may bring the blog’s author, or readers, to your site.
  • PermaLink blogs you like, as they might come to see who’s linking to them and discover your blog.
  • Link to pieces you like from other blogs (same as above).
  • Occasionally e-mail bloggers with stuff you think they might find interesting.
  • Get involved with list-fests with the Carnival of the Vanities.


  • Expect anything in return for the above. People may ignore you, or not reciprocate, for any number of reasons, many of which are benign.
  • Live for the approval of a given blogger. For example, you may never get an InstaLanche (I have only gotten one, and that was because I hosted the CoV, so in many ways, that doesn’t count).

    In other words, draw attention to yourself in positive ways, not obnoxious ones.

  • Filed under: Blogging | Comments (1) | Trackbacks (1)
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    • Simon World linked with Everything you wanted to know about blogging but were afraid to ask
    Thanks for the Links

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:54 pm

    Thanks to the following for permalinking to PoliBlog:

  • The Kudzu Files
  • Sneakeasy’s Joint

    They have been added to the list on the bottom left.

  • Filed under: Blogging | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
    The Bush Ad

    By Steven Taylor @ 7:41 pm

    I saw the Bush ad during “Special Report with Brit Hume” tonight on FNC during the 5-6 hour, I think between 5:30 and 6 (central), and the portion that is 911 footage is brief, and quite frankly, not obviosuly from 911 unless one stops and really thinks about it. Indeed, had I not known of the furor ahead of time, I might not have immediately thought of 911 when I saw the flag against the damaged building. The point of the commerical was about leadership in difficult times, hardly a controversial topic.

    Indeed, having now seen the commerical as a commercial I am utterly convinced that the hype has been manufactured.

    Filed under: 2004 Campaign | Comments(2) | Trackbacks (1)
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    • Insults Unpunished linked with Bush's 9/11 Ads
    Cline on 911 Ads

    By Steven Taylor @ 3:16 pm

    Dr. Andrew Cline has an excellent post on the 911 ads, as he should, as this is the kind of thing he does for a living.

    Indeed, I should have checked out his site yesterday, but it didn’t occur to me at the time (shame on me).

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    The Final Frontier

    By Steven Taylor @ 3:14 pm

    Is this cool or what?

    Filed under: Not politics | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
    Goldberg on Deficits

    By Steven Taylor @ 2:02 pm

    Jonah Goldberg has a decent column today on the subject of deficits. A key passage:

    What drives me nuts about all of the talk about deficits is how it makes the deficit seem like the disease rather than the symptom. The disease is a metastasizing federal government, the deficit is little more than a fever.

    When I listen to liberals and journalists complain about Bush’s truly outrageous runaway spending, they make it sound as if runaway spending would be fine if we had a balanced budget.


    Further, I find it rather difficult to take liberal politicians and pundits seriosuly who bemoan the deficit, as I find it extremely difficult to believe that they would be more fiscally responsible than the current bunch is.

    Filed under: US Politics | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
    Transititional Constitution Hits a Potentially Significant Snag

    By Steven Taylor @ 1:40 pm

    Shiites Refuse to Sign Iraq Constitution

    Shiite leaders refused to sign an interim constitution Friday after their top cleric rejected parts of the charter at the last minute, delaying a signing ceremony in a dispute that marred a milestone in U.S. plans to hand over sovereignty to the Iraqis.

    The maneuver by five Shiite members of the Iraqi Governing Council broke the unity that the body showed earlier this week when it overcame deep differences to agree unanimously on a draft of the charter.

    It also highlighted the power that Shiite Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Husseini al-Sistani wields in the political process. The 75-year-old cleric, who holds considerable influence over Iraq’s Shiite majority, has already twice derailed U.S. plans for transferring power.


    The Shiite objections focused on two clauses: one that effectively gives the Kurds a veto over a permanent constitution due to be put to a referendum next year, and another on the shape of the presidency in a future government, said Hamed al-Bayati, a senior official in one of the Shiite parties that balked at signing.

    Filed under: Iraq | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
    The Money Trail

    By Steven Taylor @ 1:26 pm

    Admiral Quixote’s Roundtable had an updated his campaign finance graphic.

    Filed under: 2004 Campaign | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
    Does Karl Rove Read OTB?

    By Steven Taylor @ 1:00 pm

    This picture (by way of Confessions Of A Political Junkie) suggests he might by hanging out at Joyner’s site.

    Filed under: 2004 Campaign | Comments(3) | Trackbacks (0)
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    On Linkage and Such

    By Steven Taylor @ 12:07 pm

    I was going to comment on this yesterday, but the gift of the stomach virus from my youngest son curtailed, shall we say, my blogosity yesterday (and hence the uncharacteristic silence on PoliBlog from around 5:30pm yesterday evening until around 11:30am today). I am feeling better (twelve hours of sleep canceling one�s classes can often work wonders) and while I have some work that needs attending to, having blogged nothing for over 17 hours, I feel the need to type!

    At any rate, like James Joyner, I received a request from another blogger to be added to my Blogroll (the blog in question already had a reciprocal link). Now, the e-mail was sent at 4:46pm, during which time I was in a lengthy meeting on campus, and then was on the road, and then supervising K, 1st and 2nd graders at church. I saw the e-mail at roughly 8:15ish. I thought �sure, why not� (the guy wanted to be on the Blogroll so folks would know when he was �en fuego�). I blogged a few brief items, answered a few e-mails, and probably was collectively at the computer twenty minutes over a period of an hour and half (you know, kids needed to go to bed and so forth�that whole life thing). My machine was shut down by 9:30ish and I hadn�t gotten around to the blogrolling request. Apparently the lack of action on the request (and the original e-mail had the rather ironic, in retrospect, subject line of �no biggie�) in that brief window of time was insufficient, as it resulted in the flame mail (addressed to both James and myself) sent at 10:21pm telling me how full of myself I was, and the whole �immature� bit along with the threat of imminent exposure that James mentioned. I guess you can call both James� post and mine �pre-emption� to avoid the utter embarrassment of exposure for our dastardly self-absorption.

    Like James, the e-mails inspired the need to detail a links policy, but work during the day, and virii during the evening, delayed my posting on the subject.

    Here�s the deal on how and why I link, for any who might care:

    Types of Linkage There are two types of links that I have on the site: the Blogroll and the �Look Whose Linking to PoliBlog� reciprocal link list (both are on the left-hand sidebar). Some blogs are listed in both lists.

    How to Get a Reciprocal Link To get on the reciprocal list is easy: if you have a permalink to PoliBlog of any type on your site (either by blogrolling me or hard-coding a link to me) I list you in my list. I notice new links in my referrer logs and on Technorati, and therefore often visit new sites to see who they are and if they have linked to me. I also don�t mind if you e-mail me and let me know if you have linked to me (indeed, I encourage it, as that is the easiest way for me to know you have linked me). Now note: it may take me a while, sometimes a week or more, to actually get around to the link. I do have a full time job and three boys 7 and under, for crying out loud, so while it may seem like I live online, trust me, I do have other things to do.

    Right to Refuse I will note: I reserve the right not to grant a reciprocal link. If your site is problematic to me for some reason (e.g., it is a NeoNazi site, or a porn site, I wouldn�t count on reciprocity).

    The “Blogroll for Bush” Exception If the only link to me from your site is that you have a copy of the “Blogroll for Bush” (on which PoliBlog is listed) on your page, I don’t count that as you having purposefully added me to your site. Further, I assume that such a list is temporary.

    Link Trading I like linkage, but have always disliked the old �I�ll link to you if you link to me� routine. To me if think my site is link-worthy, link me and don�t play games. I don�t like being put in the position of feeling like I have to go to a site and render a judgment as to its link-worthiness and run the risk of offending someone. Indeed, I usually ignore such e-mails. Again, the policy is simple: you want a link from me, link me and let me know, and barring extreme cases, you will get a link.

    How to Get on the Blogroll The Blogroll contains two types of links. First, and the only way one gets added these days, are those blogs which I think I might want to read enough that I would want to know when they are updated. Second, when I got started I used the Blogroll as a reciprocity tool, so there are a few sites on there of blogs who blogrolled me and so I blogrolled them. However, I decided that I would rather have a separate reciprocal list, as there are blogs on my blogroll that I don�t really read.

    How to Get Deleted from the Blogroll If you don�t send out an update ping, so that I can see when you are updated, there really is no point to having you on the blogroll, so non-pingers eventually get deleted. Further, if I stop reading your blog, I might delete you as well.

    Look, like most bloggers, I like links, and I admit that I much prefer being in the position of people finding a link from me to be useful than being the guy trying to get some attention for my site. But I will note a lesson I have learned: while you need some links so people will find you out there in the Blogosphere (I am grateful, as I have noted before, to ScrappleFace for blogrolling me early on). However, true growth (and linkage) comes about primarily by writing stuff people want to read�and even writing good stuff doesn�t guarantee traffic, just like the fact that someone has a lot of traffic doesn�t necessarily mean that they write well.

    I blog mostly because I enjoy it, heck I think about politics all the time anyway, so commenting on it constantly comes to me with great ease. Further, when I do work (aside from when I�m teaching) I am almost always sitting at a desk that holds a computer that is hooked up to high-speed internet service. Indeed, I am both a poli-geek and a computer geek, which is the perfect combo for a blogger!

    Bryan of Arguing with signposts has a good post on this general topic that is worth a read.

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    More on the Ads

    By Steven Taylor @ 11:29 am

    Understand something: everyone and anyone has the right to criticize the Bush ads (you know, the whole Free Speech bit). Further, I am not surprised that the DNC and Kerry campaign would criticize them. Indeed, they will likely criticize any ad Bush runs, especially if it is one that they think is effective.

    My criticism is no aimed at the criticism itself (although I maintain that Kerry and McAuliffe are not truly indignant, but see 911 as a weakness for the Democrats), but my critique is aimed at the press. To take a handful of people, ascribe to them the role of “Victims’ Families” and pretend as if there is a firestorm of controversy over these ads is disingenuous at best.

    Indeed, the irony here, is that the ads have given Bush a huge amount of FREE publicity, and has largely changed the course of the media-conversation to more being about Bush than Kerry, even after his big wins on Tuesday.

    Hence, it raises the question as to whom it is who has outmaneuvered whom?

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    • Confessions Of A Political Junkie linked with The Ads
    • One Fine Jay linked with Campaign-free OFJ
    Thursday, March 4, 2004
    Other Voices on 911 Ads

    By Steven Taylor @ 5:20 pm

    Others who have commented on the 911 issue as it pertains to the Bush-Kerry fight include: Mark the Pundit, James Joyner, the Rooftop Report, the New England Republican, the King of Fools, Jen, and the Rantingprofs.

    (To name a few)

    Filed under: 2004 Campaign | Comments(2) | Trackbacks(2)
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    • The American Mind linked with Anger over Bush Commercials
    • Confessions Of A Political Junkie linked with Others Jump On The Ads Issue
    Can He Do it?

    By Steven Taylor @ 5:07 pm

    I don’t know about you all, but I’m on pins-and-needles: Kerry Still Needs More Than 600 Delegates.

    One never knows when a Kucinich-surge could derail him!

    Filed under: 2004 Campaign | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
    More on 911 in the Campaign

    By Steven Taylor @ 2:37 pm

    Going along with the post below, I would argue that if any complaints come from the Kerry camp/McAuliffe, then the reason will not be because of indignation over the use of 911 for political reasons, but it will be because the Kerry camp understands that 911 is a point of vulnerability for their campaign. The last thing they want is for voters to think of Bush as they thought of him in the last several months of 2001.

    Also, Michael Medved raised an interesting point: how did the press find, so quickly, outraged families of 911 victims within approximately 24-48 hours of the commercials airing, and why does that rate as the top story on the newswires (as I type it is the main story at the Yahoo News politics section, via the AP and is also a top story at Reuters)? It seems unlikely that there was sufficient outrage generated in that brief a time for the AP and Reuters to discover the story without looking for it. Rather, it seems fairly obvious that some reporters sought out victims’ families to interview and ran with those who are outraged.

    Given the large number of people who have to constitute “victims’ families” (with over 3000 dead, there have to be over ten thousand who could fall in that category), it would certainly be possible to run any of the following stories:

    “Victims’ Families Outraged by Bush Ads”

    “Victims’ Families Hail Bush Ads”

    “Victims’ Families Ambivalent on Bush Ads”

    “Victims’ Families Don’t Care About Politics”

    Really, the concept that there is a monolithic group called Victims’ Families is ludicrious.

    I suspect, to name one member of a victim�s family, that Ted Olsen, whose wife died in the Pentagon plane, isn�t offended.

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    • Mark the Pundit linked with The 9/11 Commercials
    • Arguing with signposts… linked with OTB and other links ...
    • Random Jottings linked with Bloggers on the case...
    • Insults Unpunished linked with Bush's 9/11 Ads
    Get Used to it

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:45 am

    Furor over Bush’s 9/11 ad.

    Whether one likes it or not, this campaign is going to be, in large measure, about 911: both in terms of how Bush handled it, and how Bush or Kerry would handle any future such events. As such, it is hardly surprising that the Bush campaign would use images related to 911 or make specific reference to those events.

    Further, while I am aware that there is a fine line between exploitation of these images and events and legitimate usage, I would argue that given that 911 is the most important event to take place in last three years that it is foolish to think that it would not, or should not, be utilized in the campaign.

    Filed under: 2004 Campaign | Comments(5) | Trackbacks(2)
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    • Rooftop Report linked with The Morning Bang
    • Insults Unpunished linked with Bush's 9/11 Ads
    Trade Deficits

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:42 am

    Ipse Dixit has a good post on the issue of tradew deficits. It reminds me of George Will’s frequent statement about how he has a trade deficit with his barber.

    Filed under: The Economy | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
    Sound Bite of the Day

    By Steven Taylor @ 7:57 am

    Clearly, this is the Bite of the Day, as I have heard it at least 6 times since I left home this morning (the span of just over an hour).

    Said President Bush yesterday:

    “Sen. Kerry has been in Washington long enough to take both sides on just about every issue”

    Source: Bush Joins the Fray in L.A. Visit

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    Understated Headline of the Day

    By Steven Taylor @ 6:45 am

    Kerry faces tough task to sustain enthusiasm

    Filed under: 2004 Campaign | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
    Wednesday, March 3, 2004
    With a Headline Like That, How Can I Not Post it?

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:29 pm

    Drunken Polish nun crashes her tractor

    Filed under: General | Comments (0) | Trackbacks(3)
    • The Bemusement Park linked with THE THINGS YOU LEARN ON THE INTERNET
    • The Bemusement Park linked with THE THINGS YOU LEARN ON THE INTERNET
    • Ipse Dixit linked with Headlines That Write Themselves
    Inside the Numbers: Bush v. Clinton

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:16 pm

    Robert Prather has some interesting numbers comparing the first two years of Clinton and the first two years of Bush. They are worth a look.

    Filed under: General | Comments(2) | Trackbacks (0)
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    The Senate, Ireland, Disney?

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:38 pm

    A reader altered me to this story: Eisner to remain Disney CEO, Mitchell to be chair

    The Walt Disney Co. board said on Wednesday it had split the roles of chief executive and chairman at the entertainment conglomerate on the same day that 43 percent of shareholders voted against reelecting Chief Executive Michael Eisner to the board.

    The Disney board, meeting in Philadelphia after a contentious shareholder meeting, said it had elected former U.S. Senator George Mitchell chairman by a unanimous vote.

    One wonders if that will placate, however.

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

    By Steven Taylor @ 3:09 pm

    Disney: Eisner Opposition Reaches 43 Pct.

    Approximately 771 million out of 1.8 billion shares were voted against Eisner being reelected. About 1 billion votes supported the current chairman and chief executive.

    That is higher than expected, I think. I was hearing an analyst this morning who said that 30% would’ve been bad.

    Business law prof Steve Bainbridge explains the process.

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    Veep-Talk (In this Case, Regarding Bush)

    By Steven Taylor @ 3:02 pm

    James Joyner discusses why Bush won’t dump Cheney (and links to several bloggers on the topic. I agree with his assessment: Cheney isn’t going anywhere.

    I will give yet another reason why Bush won’t dump Cheney: doing so would make it look like he made a mistake picking him in the first place.

    Additionally, dumping Cheney wouldn’t stop the attacks from those who make all the Halliburton/he’s the puppet-master arguments, rather it would simply confirm their suspicions that something was up and Bush had to cave to the pressure to remove him.

    The only positive benefit for dumping Cheney that I can see would be to groom someone for 2008.

    And while I like Giuliani, he has a problem, and it can be summed up in a hyphenated word: “pro-choice". That wouldn’t play well with the social conservatives, who Bush needs to turn out in large numbers in November.

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    • Insults Unpunished linked with President Bush's Vice-President
    • The Corpus Callosum linked with Dump Cheney...?
    I’m Getting Karenna Gore Schiff Flashbacks…

    By Steven Taylor @ 12:51 pm

    Kerry kid blasts Bush over Haiti

    Filed under: 2004 Campaign | Comments(3) | Trackbacks (0)
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    And the Real Campaign Begins

    By Steven Taylor @ 12:26 pm

    Bush Re-Election Ads Focus on Past 3 Years

    President Bush talks about his hope for the future in his re-election campaign’s first television ads but mainly focuses on the national security and economic challenges America has faced during his three years in office.

    The ads include images of the wreckage from the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and declining stock market numbers as they seek to portray Bush as a president who has faced both foreign and domestic problems and emerged as a leader on both fronts.

    “I know exactly where I want to lead this country,” the Republican incumbent says in one ad. “I’m optimistic about America because I believe in the people of America.”

    The Bush-Cheney re-election team unveiled the ads Wednesday, a day before they will start running on broadcast channels in media markets in 17 states that are expected to be competitive and nationwide on select cable networks.
    Carrying the slogan � “Steady leadership in times of change” � the ads are positive

    This strikes me a good place to start and a solid strategy to, as ridiculous as it sounds, re-introduce Bush to the public-or at least try to remind voters why there were times they gave Bush such high approval numbers. And given that the political coverage has been hotly focused on the Democratic contest for some time, there is room for such attempts at reminding.

    I expect that there are anti-Kerry ads in the works for subsequent strages of the campaign.

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    Calling all “Independents”

    By Steven Taylor @ 11:13 am

    I agree with Kaus on this one (not that that is all that unusual):

    How many times last night did NBC’s Tim Russert reveal, with punditary flourish, that
    Looking at the exit polls from Tuesday, 24 percent of the people who voted in Iowa are independents. They decided to vote in the Democratic primary. And of those independents, 78 percent said they are angry or dissatisfied with George W. Bush. That’s a big deal.

    […] Isn’t this statistic not a “big deal” but in fact relatively meaningless? You’d expect those independents who had “decided to vote in the Democratic primary” to be relatively dissatisfied with Bush, no? It’s a self-selected group.

    This is a huge analytical pet-peeve of mine: the way the press (and pollsters) often talk about independents. It strikes me as a largely meaningless category to break-out how “independents” chose to vote in either the Democratic or Republican primaries and consider them truly “independent". It seems to me that once that choice is made, that person has signaled at least a temporary affiliation with the party in question. Indeed, what makes a real independent “independent” in my mind is the willingness from election to election to switch sides. If one calls oneself “independent” but votes Republican 90% of the time, then the label is a fiction.

    Still, one does have to stake out an alliance for a given election and one of the most fundamental partisan acts available to a citizen of the United States is voting in the primaries. Indeed, if one is truly, to-the-core independent, what is one doing voting in the party primaries?

    Along these lines (at least tangentially), William Saletan has a piece on exit polls, independents and Edwards v. Kerry.

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    ‘Twas a Snoozer Tuesday Indeed

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:57 am

    There really wan’t much to captivate one’s atention last night, although the Edward’s withdrawal does take us to a new stage of the process. Still, in re: last night, James Joyner got it right:

    Sigh. It’s hard to be a political junkee with such slim fare.

    Still, let the real campaign begin!

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    Big Day for Arnold

    By Steven Taylor @ 7:18 am

    State Bailout Passes Easily

    Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger closed in on a resounding vote of confidence Tuesday with early returns showing Californians handily passing two ballot measures that are cornerstones of his plan for recovery from the state fiscal crisis.

    As Schwarzenegger declared victory on the two measures, Propositions 57 and 58, Republican primary voters were strongly favoring former Secretary of State Bill Jones as their nominee for the party’s eight-month battle to unseat U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer. The Marin County Democrat is seeking a third term in November.

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    Tuesday, March 2, 2004
    Feel the Power

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:18 pm

    Is that John Kerry an electrifying speaker, or what?

    One wonders how long before the Democrats get a little buyer’s remorse.

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    Free at Last!

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:11 pm

    Robert Prather makes a good point about some really good news out of tonight: no more debates! And that also means no more official fora for Kucinich and Sharpton!

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    And Then There Was One (I Refuse to Count Al and Dennis…)

    By Steven Taylor @ 7:29 pm

    Edwards to Return to Homebase, Expected to Quit.

    I thought he might hold on to the fantasy for one more week, but clearly it is time to get out.

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    Too Little Waaaay Too Late

    By Steven Taylor @ 6:46 pm

    Dean wins one: Vermont.

    MSNBC also has Kerry winning Ohio-no shock there.

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    By Steven Taylor @ 2:34 pm

    Mars Plain Once Soaked in Water, NASA Says

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    They Were Just Fighting the Infidels

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:45 am

    So, it’s okay to purposefully target and kill a crowd of worshippers in the cause of a greater good, right?

    Qaeda Blamed as Attacks on Shi’ites Kill 143 in Iraq

    Coordinated suicide bombs and mortars tore into vast crowds of Shi’ite worshippers Tuesday, killing at least 143 people on Iraq’s bloodiest day since the fall of Saddam Hussein.

    This seems to confirm this story: BBC NEWS | World | Middle East | US reveals ‘al-Qaeda Iraq plot’ in which an intercepted letter from an al Qaeda operative states that one of their goals is to spark Sunni-Shi’a conflict in Iraq.

    And, of course, al Qaeda is of Sunni affiliation, so what do they care about killing innocent Shi’a?

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    PoliColumn: The Official Version

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:00 am

    Here’s the official verison of the Mobile Register piece I mentioned the other day:

    Invitation to run for president still open
    Special to the Register

    Roy Moore for president? It could have been, had Moore accepted the invitation of the Constitution Party back in November.

    Read the rest here.

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    Cool Site of the Day

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:46 am

    What more could you ask for? Calvin and Hobbes Extensive Strip Search-yes, a searchable database of C&H comic strips.

    Most cool.

    Hat tip: The SmarterCop

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    Ya Don’t Say

    By Steven Taylor @ 5:43 am

    Tues. Races Could Be Edwards’ Last Hurrah.

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    Monday, March 1, 2004
    That’s a Relief!!

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:43 pm

    Primetime Schedules Unaffected by Super Tuesday.

    Hmm. What is this “Primetime Schedule” of which you speak?

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    Haiti Round-Up

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:28 pm

    Jeff Quinton of Backcountry Conservative has an extensive Haiti Briefing, including blogospheric reactions.

    Filed under: Latin America | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (1)
    • Kamelian X-Rays linked with Haiti: The Drugs and Sugar Made Us Do It!
    This is Just Plain Bizarre

    By Steven Taylor @ 3:23 pm

    Aristide Tells U.S. Contacts He Was Abducted

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    • Backcountry Conservative linked with Haiti Briefing

    By Steven Taylor @ 1:39 pm

    There’s news at BlogRolling:

    I’m writing this today to let you all know that Blogrolling has been acquired by the great folks at Tucows and this will be my last news posting. I will be sticking around behind the scenes for a few months helping the new team get their bearings and finishing up some fixes that I’ve been promising for the past few weeks. But after today I will no longer be the owner of

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    By Steven Taylor @ 1:31 pm

    This piece ran in the Mobile Register yesterday (of course, this is the pre-edited verion):

    Third Party Follies

    Steven L. Taylor

    Roy Moore for President?

    It could have been, had Moore accepted the invitation of the Constitution Party back in November of last year. Some, such as the Wall Street Journal�s John Fund in column earlier this month, wonder if it might still happen after Moore participated in an event sponsored by the Constitution Party in late January. At that speaking engagement Moore reportedly did not entirely dismiss the idea, either, telling audience members, when asked if he might run for President, �not right now.� And his spokesperson, Jessica Atteberry, noted in an interview that �anything is possible.�

    Moore�s association with the Constitution Party continues, as he is currently scheduled to be the keynote speaker at a Montana Constitution Party gathering on February 27th. Further, the party seems to have left the door open for Moore, should he change his mind. According to an Associated Press story from last November, Jim Clymer, national chair of the Constitution Party stated �We’d love to have him run for president on our ticket.� And while the party has unofficially nominated Maryland attorney Michael Peroutka, the official word from Clymer is that Peroutka �has made it clear that if Judge Roy Moore wanted to do it he would gladly step aside, and I think everyone else in the party would, too.� And since the party�s convention isn�t until June 23rd, Moore has time to change his mind.

    It terms of actual electoral strength, like most third parties in the United States, the Constitution Party (once known as the U.S. Taxpayers Party) is quite anemic. While it is true, as their web site notes, that they were on 41 state ballots in the 2000 election, and qualified for write-in votes in six others. This resulted in a grand total of 98,020. And, no doubt, a high profile candidate like Roy Moore would bring sufficient attention to the party that that number would not doubt rise. Of course, for third parties, winning isn�t that main issue, rather getting their message out is.

    In all honesty, my guess is that such a run by Moore is highly unlikely. Not only is winning not a possibility, a Moore candidacy would be predicated, at least partially, on the idea that disaffected evangelical Republicans would break ranks and vote third party. However, a large percentage of evangelical voters see President Bush as belonging to their number, meaning that massive defections would be unlikely. Of course, given the strong appeal Moore has for some evangelicals, there is the chance that some voters, who otherwise would have voted Republican, might switch over, and therein lies the illogic and potential folly of a Moore candidacy, if what Mr. Moore wants is anything approximating conservative governance.

    To consider the folly of such a candidacy, let us consider the following. We assume that as a voter, I vote for a candidate because that candidate best represents my policy goals. So, the best outcome, from my point of view, is to have the candidate who thinks most like me to win. Further, the worst possible outcome is to have the winner be someone who is opposite to, or at least some significant distance from, my point of view.

    For example, if the issue that is most important to me in all of politics is my opposition to abortion, my best possible outcome in an election would be for a hardcore pro-lifer to be elected. Indeed, in my fantasy political world, one of the candidates would be from the National Right to Life Party, and that candidate would beat both a pro-choice Democrat and a Republican who calls himself pro-life, but seems lukewarm, at best, on the subject. So, in this example, my best possible outcome is the National Right to Life (NRL) candidates, and my worst possible outcome in the Democratic candidate. I would prefer the NRL candidate, but if I know that she can�t win, I should vote Republican, even if I am not totally satisfied with his commitment to my policy preferences. This is because if I vote NRL, knowing that the pro-life vote is split between my candidate and the Republican, my worst-case scenario will come to pass: the election of the pro-choice Democrat. What�s even worse, is that I helped my worse-case scenario to come to pass my voting solely based on a specific policy preference and not strategically thinking about outcomes.

    The real-life embodiment of my example can be found in none other than Green Party Candidate Ralph Nader, who won 97,426 votes in the state of Florida in the year 2000. Now, that is a piddling amount when compared to the 2,912,790 votes that George W. Bush won in the state, but a monumental amount when one considers that the difference between Bush and his chief rival, Al Gore, was a mere 527 votes. Without a doubt, if one was a Nader voter, one almost certainly preferred Gore to Bush. Hence it begs the question: was it worth to the tens of thousands who voted for Nader to know that they helped elected George W. Bush to the presidency?

    This is the type of conundrum that conservative Christians could face with a Moore candidacy. Maybe they believe that Moore better supports their values, or perhaps they feel that Bush isn�t conservative enough, but will those voters think that they did the right thing to vote for someone like Moore, in lieu of Bush, only to get Kerry?

    And the irony of a Kerry administration helped to office by a Moore candidacy would be the judges appointed to the federal bench by a President Kerry. One can rest assured that such judges would in no way conform to Justice Moore�s view of American law. And such would be a possible result of a Moore candidacy as a third party candidate in 2004.

    Indeed, while third party candidates are often more appealing to voters with strong philosophical or ideological views, it is also often the case that by voting along those lines that one can help one�s least preferred candidate to win office.

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    Ya Don’t Say

    By Steven Taylor @ 1:08 pm

    From the CQ midday update:

    “At some point I’ve got to start getting more delegates or I’m not going to be the nominee.” - Sen. John EDWARDS, D-N.C., to reporters covering his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination.

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    We’ll Leave the Light on for You

    By Steven Taylor @ 1:06 pm brings us data on hotel stays by candidates and they have some interesting tables.

    Apparently, Al Sharpton’s favorite hotel is the Four Seasons, and has an average bill was $3,598. Howard Dean, Marriot-man, was last and had an average bill of $176.

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    Moore, Newsom, and the Media

    By Steven Taylor @ 12:36 pm

    Howard Kutz ha an interesting piece in WaPo comparing the response of the press to SF Mayor Newsom and former Alabama SC Justice Moore: When Left Is Right and Right Is Wrong.

    When San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom defied state law by allowing same-sex marriage licenses, a New York Times profile reported him sporting “a wide grin,” “describing his motives as pure and principled,” and cited his “business acumen, money, good looks and friends in the right places.”

    But when Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore also defied the law - by installing a Ten Commandments display in his public building - a Times profile said that “civil liberties groups accused Justice Moore of turning a courthouse into a church,” while allowing that he had also become “an Alabama folk hero.”

    On the editorial page, the Times criticized Moore, likening him to George Wallace standing in the schoolhouse door, but supports Newsom’s protest and gay marriage.

    And please recall: I did not support Moore’s actions and applauded his removal. The bottom line is that there are processes through which to deal with policy one does not like, and using one’s office to break the law is not to be applauded except in extreme cases.

    For example, while I may not endorse the decision that the Mass. SC reached on the definition of marriage, I acknowledge their institutional prerogative to do what they did. Newsom, however, has no legal authority to do what he is doing (nor did Moore).

    However, the press treatment of the two figures have received is telling.

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    • Signifying Nothing linked with Just how many anecdotes equal data?
    Too Little Too Late

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:55 am

    Voters See a More Belligerent Edwards

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    No Kidding

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:02 am

    Says WaPo: Debate Raises Doubts For Kerry-Edwards Run.

    I keep saying that a Kerry-Edwards ticket makes no sense and is unlikely. What does Edwards bring to Kerry? Nothing. And further, why run two Senators?

    I still think Kerry picks a governor and/or tries to make some sort of strategic move electorally.

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    Even More Reasons to Tune Into Snoozer Tuesday

    By Steven Taylor @ 6:39 am

    More Stuff to Watch on Tuesday:

  • There is a non-binding referendum in Georgia over the state’s flag. The AJC declares: Vote on flag will do little.
  • In California, in addition to the statewide initiatives, Mendicino County will weigh a ban on modified food
    If Measure H is approved - which both sides agree is far from certain - Mendocino County would become the first jurisdiction to outlaw the farming of genetically modified food. Others have tried to pass similar laws, but none, to Noe’s knowledge, has succeeded thus far.

  • B-1 Bob’ Back on Calif. Campaign Trail and this time he has moved to an adjacent district and is challenging fellow conservative Dana Rohrabacher. Dornan appears to be running on solely the terrorism issue.
  • How well with Kucinich do in Ohio?
  • How well will Sharpton do in New York?

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    Good Deal

    By Steven Taylor @ 6:20 am

    ‘Lord’ of the Oscars

    ‘Rings’ Sweeps the Field With 11 Wins


    The Peter Jackson film, which has made $1 billion at the worldwide box office, won every award it was nominated for, tying with “Titanic” (1997) and “Ben-Hur” (1959) for the most Oscars ever.

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