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Wednesday, June 30, 2004
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As Expected

By Steven Taylor @ 1:33 pm

Fed Boosts Rate by One-Quarter Point.

And here’s a nifty graphic.

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Does This Even Qualify as News?

By Steven Taylor @ 1:30 pm

TV to snub conventions.

For the last several cycles this has been the case, and I expected as much this year, so what’s the story?

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Death, Taxes and the Death Tax (With a Little Marx Thrown in)

By Steven Taylor @ 1:08 pm

Speaking of the good Professor Bainbridge, his post on the estate tax contains a quote from Brian Leiter on the importance of Marxian thought that is the kind of thing that get my hackles up. My comments aren’t directed at Brian, as I understand the point he is trying to make, and further, agree that Marx is an important theorist for a host of reasons and shouldn’t be shelved because of the collapse of the Soviet empire.

However, the estate tax thing gets rather heavily on my nerves, for while it is true that a very small percentage of the population pays the Death Tax (a term I highly prefer), it is not so-clear cut a tax on wealth alone as some would have us believe.

For example: I had a close relative whose husband was blue color in the most traditional of senses. He died back in the 1980s and she lived in East Dallas in the kind of neighborhood that most of us wouldn’t want to traverse after dark across the street from a park, which in most recent years, was the kind of place drug deals and arrests went down at night. She lived very modestly, but because of frugality and a generous stock plan from her husband’s employer she died with sufficient wealth to qualify for the Death Tax. Now, she was being responsible in her own mind (she wanted the money to care for herself in the event of a medical disaster) and, as a child of the Great Depression, she was prone to assume that the money could stop at any moment, leading her sometimes extreme frugality.

Could someone explain to me why that wealth, which is the product of a lower middle class existence and the desire to save should be taxed at that person’s death.

Another example would be another close relative who started literally with nothing in life but who, in classic Horatio Alger fashion, made a way for himself to the point of being definable as rich in our society.

I simply do not see the justice in a Death Tax on either of those cases, and I know that they are not unique. Indeed, to partially counter Leiter’s assumption that the public support for repealing the Death Tax is the result of misapprehension on the part of the population as much as it is philosophical opposition to the very idea that one can’t leave one’s money where one wants to leave it.

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Liberals, Conservatives and the “Common Good”

By Steven Taylor @ 12:39 pm

Kevin Drum thinks that Sully has shown himself to be simply a heartless conservative in his reaction to Hillary’s quote (blogged earlier today) about taxs, taking things away, and the “common good":

he was annoyed because HC invoked the “common good.” This is apparently all it takes to drive some conservatives nuts these days.

What a sad commentary. Of course the purpose of taxation is to provide for the common good and of course Hillary believes her agenda coincides with that common good. What else would she believe?

Apparently, though, a mere acknowledgment that she believes in advocating for the common good is anathema to Sullivan. But if that was really his gut reaction, what does he think we’re all here for?

What Kevin misses is that the objection that Sullivan is likely expressing, and no doubt one that most conservatives hold in common, is not the direct objection that government does things for the common good, it is the ideological arrogance suggested by Mrs. Clinton stating that she wants to “take things away” from citizens “on behalf of the common good” because the implication is that she knows better how to better promote the common good than do those who earned their own money (and other “things").

There is a clear theoretical statement that undergirds Mrs. Clinton’s pronouncement: that the best way to promote the common good is for the government to confiscate wealth and redistribute it. It assumes that Mrs. Clinton and her compatriots in the Senate know what’s best for the country, and therefore believe they have the right to take from some citizens to promote that vision of the good.

The fundamental conservative revulsion at that statement in question comes from the idea that only right-thinking members of the state know what the “common good” is and, further, that only they can promote it-and can best do so with your stuff.

It is not, as Drum tries to intimate, that Sullivan (and by extension, conservatives) simply care not for the common good.

There are two additional points to be made here:

1) There is a legitimate theoretical position that the common good is better served when the population is more in charge of the wealth they earn. Further, one can argue that it is morally proper for one to keep the fruits of one’s own labors.

2) The most fundamental problem here is that there is profound disagreement on what defines the “common good.” To assume that one is personally imbued with the perfect definition of the “common good” is the apex of hubris, and typically leads not to any good, but rather to tyranny.

Update: Stephen Bainbridge reacts as well.

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  • Outside the Beltway linked with Beltway Traffic Jam
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At Least She’s Honest

By Steven Taylor @ 11:21 am

San Francisco rolls out the red carpet for the Clintons

Headlining an appearance with other Democratic women senators on behalf of Sen. Barbara Boxer, who is up for re-election this year, Hillary Clinton told several hundred supporters - some of whom had ponied up as much as $10,000 to attend - to expect to lose some of the tax cuts passed by President Bush if Democrats win the White House and control of Congress.

“Many of you are well enough off that … the tax cuts may have helped you,” Sen. Clinton said. “We’re saying that for America to get back on track, we’re probably going to cut that short and not give it to you. We’re going to take things away from you on behalf of the common good.


Hat tip: OTB.

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Getting Kristof Right

By Steven Taylor @ 10:35 am

Kevin Alyward and Hal Hildebrand both comment on Kristof’s column in today’s NYT. Kevin gets it, Hal doesn’t.

While I disagree with a number of Kristof’s statements and conclusions (Bush was self-deluded, the rigth wing looks for “evil empires” which was why they went after Clinton-a thesis Clinton himself offers up in My Life), he is quite correct about one thing: over-the-top rhetoric (e.g., Bush is a liar, Bush is evil, Clinton is a murderer, Clinton ran drugs) misdirects us from legitimate political debate.

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Tom “Neutral Reporter” Brokaw and the Allawi Interview

By Steven Taylor @ 10:08 am

From a transcript at MSNBC we have the following exchange:

Allawi: We know that this is an extension to what has happened in New York. And-the war have been taken out to Iraq by the same terrorists. Saddam was a potential friend and partner and natural ally of terrorism.

Brokaw: Prime minister, I’m surprised that you would make the connection between 9/11 and the war in Iraq. The 9/11 commission in America says there is no evidence of a collaborative relationship between Saddam Hussein and those terrorists of al-Qaida.

Allawi: No. I believe very strongly that Saddam had relations with al-Qaida. And these relations started in Sudan. We know Saddam had relationships with a lot of terrorists and international terrorism. Now, whether he is directly connected to the September-atrocities or not, I can’t -vouch for this. But definitely I know he has connections with extremism and terrorists.

Several folks, including James Joyner, Betsy Newmark, and Jonah Goldberg (where I first saw it this morning, but didn’t have time to comment) have already noted this story.

Now, aside from the obviously interesting fact that Mr. Allawi thinks there was a Saddam-al Qaeda connection, what struck me most was Brokaw’s questions. If you read the brief transcript at the link above you get the impression that is a parody of a real interview. Brokaw intimates that the new Iraqi government is no better than a US puppet, opines that the blood spilled by American soldiers may have been a waste, and scolds the Prime Minister for suggesting that there was an al Qaeda connection with the old Iraqi regime.

Further, Brokaw perpetuates the canard that the staff memo in question was the official word of the 911 commission and further continues the misrepresentation that the memo torpedoed any and all Saddam-al Qaeda connections when all the memo did was state that there was no evidence of a 911 connection.


But, of course, there is no predisposition in Brokaw’s mind when it comes to evaluating the policy in Iraq.

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Iraqi Transition Round-Up

By Steven Taylor @ 9:04 am

James Joyner has one.

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Saddam Turned Over

By Steven Taylor @ 6:42 am

Saddam and 11 Aides Turned Over to Iraqi Justice

Saddam Hussein appeared before an Iraqi judge Wednesday as Iraq’s interim government took legal charge of the deposed dictator 15 months after U.S.-led forces overthrew him.

“Today at 10:15 a.m. the Republic of Iraq assumed legal custody of Saddam Hussein,” said a terse statement from interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi’s office.


Saddam’s former aides appeared nervous or hostile and one of them, Ali Hassan al-Majid, known as Chemical Ali for his role in using chemical weapons, was shaking.

It appears that the actual charges will be issues tomorrow:

An official in Allawi’s office had said earlier that Saddam and his former aides would be told at the initial court appearance that they would be charged Thursday.

“Tomorrow Saddam and 11 others will be officially charged,” said the official. “The focus at this point will be on Saddam and tomorrow’s proceedings will mark the start of his trial.”

Saddam will be charged with crimes against humanity for a 1988 gas massacre of Kurds, the 1990 invasion of Kuwait and the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war

Some of the others involved:

Among others to be handed over were Former Deputy Prime Minister Tareq Aziz; Barzan Ibrahim Hasan al-Tikriti, Saddam’s half-brother and adviser; Abid Hamid Mahmud al-Tikriti, his secretary; Sabawi Ibrahim, Saddam’s maternal half-brother; Watban Ibrahim Hasan al-Tikriti, Saddam’s half-brother and adviser; and Aziz Salih Numan, Baath Party regional commander and head of the party militia.

At this point there are no indication that there are pictures or video of today’s hearing.

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Tuesday, June 29, 2004
The Gay Pride Movement Needs a New PR Strategy

By Steven Taylor @ 3:13 pm

If the goal is to get middle America to accept homosexuality, and specifically homosexual marriage, as mainstream, these kind of events aren’t going to help.

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  • Right Side of the Rainbow linked with Even John Adams didn't understand it
Some Good Hostage News for a Change

By Steven Taylor @ 3:02 pm

Turkey Says Three Hostages Released in Iraq

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  • Backcountry Conservative linked with Turkish Hostages Released
  • Right Moment linked with Three Turkish Hostages Freed, Two Different Reason
More Myopia from Kerry

By Steven Taylor @ 9:30 am

Kerry Looks to Boost College Graduates

Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry (news - web sites) says if he’s elected president, 1 million more students will graduate from college during his first five years in office and he will bring a special focus to boosting opportunities for low-income and minority students.

Okay, obviously I think higher education is important. Not only did I spend a total of ten and a half years acquiring my degrees, but the food that feeds my kids is purchased by dollars I earn teaching students at a university.

However, this proposal by Kerry is plain silly. While the idea of boosting the number of minority gradautes is a noble one, not only is it not the President’s job to deal with these things, but just providing money for people to go to school does not necessarily translate into more graduations.

Further, speaking as a professor teaching in one of the poorest states in the union, it is my experience that if one has the qualifications to attend college, there are ways to do so. Not only are community college quite accessible, but there are a number of programs available (not to mention working to pay one’s tuition) to help worthy students to go to school. In other words, I question the implicit assertion in the Senator’s proposal that there aer serious barriers to entry for students who wish to obtain a degree.

And not to rain on the Senator’s parade, but it may indeed be the case that there are currently too many students in our colleges and universities who aren’t ready to be college, and in some cases never will be.

Really, I don’t see the great crisis here.

And you have to love the math:

Kerry’s campaign says nearly half the hike in graduation rates will come from population increases, and he’ll achieve the other half by bringing down the cost of education and creating other incentives to bring students to college and keep them there.

So by this logic, if the next President does nothing at least 500,000 more students will graduate, so his proposal is only for half a million.

I wish the Senator would repeat after me: Presidents don’t create gradautes, Presidents don’t create graduates… He can meditate on that one after he writes President’s don’t create jobs 200 times. He also needs to write a 10 page essay on why Presidents have no control over the cost of education.

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  • Outside the Beltway linked with Beltway Traffic Jam
This Should be Interesting

By Steven Taylor @ 6:37 am

Iraqis to Get Legal Custody of Saddam Tomorrow

Allawi told a news conference on Tuesday Iraqi legal proceedings against Saddam would begin within a few days, but his trial would not start for several months.

I wonder if they are going to go through with the plans for a ceremonial turn-over to be broadcast on television, with a US soldier giving Saddam to an Iraqi officier for arrest.

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Monday, June 28, 2004
Another Murder

By Steven Taylor @ 9:51 pm

James Joyner notes the murder of SPC Keith M. Maupin by terrorists in Iraq. Muapin had been taken prisoner in April.

James sums up the the political semantics of the situation quite well:

I tire of the use of the word “militant” to describe these animals. Jesse Jackson is a militant. Malcolm X was a militant. These thugs are simply serial killers.


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  • Backcountry Conservative linked with Report: American Soldier Killed in Iraq by Captors
More on Books for Baghdad

By Steven Taylor @ 6:25 pm

Here’s a story on the professor who started the project via the Jacksonville State University newspaper: Professor’s ‘Books for Baghdad’ in National Spotlight.

My original post, with info on how to help, is here.

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  • Phlegma weblog linked with Books for Baghdad
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Too Bad

By Steven Taylor @ 4:00 pm

U.S. Military Denies Reports of Zarqawi Capture

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Bloggers on TV

By Steven Taylor @ 1:48 pm

Barry Ritholtz of The Big Picture is scheduled to be on Kudlow and Kramer today.

This trumps the fact that I am going to be on the local CBS affiliate’s 5 o’clock news to discuss the elections today.

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  • Outside the Beltway linked with Beltway Traffic Jam
And What if they Protest the Democratic Convention?

By Steven Taylor @ 10:59 am

Romney Replaces Kerry at Mayors Meeting

Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney replaced Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry as a speaker for the nation’s mayors on Monday after Kerry canceled a speech rather than cross a police union picket line.

Romney, a Republican, said he would cross the picket line to speak to the U.S. Conference of Mayors as a show of support for Boston Mayor Thomas Menino. The Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association has been working without a contract for two years.

“Executive leadership requires tough decision-making, and that’s true whether you’re a mayor, a governor or the president of the United States,” Romney spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom said.

Menino had urged Kerry to attend the conference, which he called “an important event for urban America,” and contended the police union’s demonstrations did not constitute a legitimate picket line. However, Kerry said Sunday night: “I don’t cross picket lines. I never have.”

Ok here’s the scenario: the strike runs into July, Kerry refuses to cross, and therefore has to postpone his nomination so that he can forestall taking the federal grant for his campaign, allowing him to raise money until the end of the summer.

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Attack of the Earth Tones

By Steven Taylor @ 10:42 am

Ann Althouse makes a rather apt observation about Gore’s brownshirt comment:

Quite aside from the general inadvisability of calling your political opponents fascists, you’d think that if Al Gore wanted to call someone a fascist, the last synonym he’d pick from the thesaurus would be “brownshirt,” considering that he was famous for literally wearing a brown shirt. I’m just distracted into thinking about that whole Naomi Wolf/alpha male business again. He’s lost control of his imagery in more ways than one.

Hat tip: Dodd Harris.

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As Expected

By Steven Taylor @ 10:20 am

‘Fahrenheit 9/11′ Sets Documentary Record

Michael Moore’s “Fahrenheit 9/11″ took in a whopping $21.8 million in its first three days, becoming the first documentary ever to debut as Hollywood’s top weekend film.

If Sunday’s estimates hold when final numbers are released Monday, “Fahrenheit 9/11″ would set a record in a single weekend as the top-grossing documentary ever outside of concert films and movies made for huge-screen IMAX theaters.

Adding the film’s haul at two New York City theaters where it opened Wednesday, two days earlier than the rest of the country, boosted “Fahrenheit 9/11″ to $21.96 million.

“Bowling for Columbine,” Moore’s 2002 Academy Award-winning documentary, previously held the documentary record with $21.6 million.

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SC Rules that US Courts Have Jurisdiction Over Gitmo

By Steven Taylor @ 10:18 am

Court: Foreign Terror Suspects Can Use U.S. Courts

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Monday that foreign terrorism suspects at a U.S. military base at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba can use the American legal system to challenge their detention, a major defeat for President Bush.

By a 6-3 vote, the justices ruled that American courts do have jurisdiction to consider the claims of the prisoners who say in their lawsuits they are being held illegally in violation of their rights.

The ruling did not address the merits of the claims, but allowed the prisoners to pursue their lawsuits, which lower courts had dismissed.

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Kerry is Going to Need new Talking Points

By Steven Taylor @ 10:14 am

Betsy Newmark notes that another of Kerry’s arguments have fallen by the wayside: Tuition burden falls by a third 80% jump in aid offsets price hikes

What students pay on average for tuition at public universities has fallen by nearly one-third since 1998, thanks to new federal tax breaks and a massive increase in state and federal grants to most students and their families.

Contrary to the widespread perception that tuition is soaring out of control, a USA TODAY analysis found that what students actually pay in tuition and fees - rather than the published tuition price - has declined for a vast majority of students attending four-year public universities. In fact, today’s students have enjoyed the greatest improvement in college affordability since the GI bill provided benefits for returning World War II veterans.

What made the difference: a $22 billion annual increase in grants and tax breaks since 1998.

That 80% jump in financial aid - targeting middle-class families earning $40,000 to $100,000 a year - has more than offset dramatic increases in tuition prices.

Indeed, two of Kerry’s talking points takes a hit: 1) the general idea that college tuition has become a massive burden on the middle class, and 2) that tax policy hasn’t been helping middle class voters.

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  • Miscellany linked with College: Not so expensive
The CSM on the Transition

By Steven Taylor @ 7:55 am

Here’s the CSM’s lede on the handover:

When Baghdad fell, US officials and their Iraqi allies expected an eventual return of Iraqi sovereignty to be a jubilant occasion much like the iconic toppling of Saddam Hussein’s statue in Firdos Squarelast April.

But a year later, Iraqi sovereignty was quietly handed over by US Ambassador Paul Bremer in a secret ceremony far from the view of the Iraqi people. The handover, two days ahead of schedule, was his last official act inside Iraq.

Okay, I agree that this is significant-however that is not the most important element of this story. The fact that there is the lack of public ceremony is important, and symbolic of ongoing problems in Iraq. Yet, that pales in comparison to the fact that Iraq is now a sovereign nation again, no longer under the thumb of tyrant, and hopefully on the road to democracy.

Indeed, the insurgency and security is the main focus of the piece, and there is no real discussion about the substantive progress made in building a new Iraqi state.

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More on Sovereignty by Surprise

By Steven Taylor @ 7:48 am

James Joyner has a news round-up. And I concur with his basic assessment:

Doing this in secret, while diminishing the ceremonial value of the occasion, was a master stroke-making it a fait accompli and taking away a terrorist target.

I will be curious to see the spin on the fact that it was private, not public and the fact that Bremer left soon after the ceremony. At a minimum I expect the latter to be the stuff od jokes on late night TV.

I will concede that that fact that hand-over had to be done on the sly does clearly underscore the difficulties in the security situation. It was, nonetheless, quite smart.

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  • Backcountry Conservative linked with Iraqi Sovereignty Early
Fun for PoliGeeks

By Steven Taylor @ 6:44 am

Tom McMahon has some nifty Electoral Map quizzes for your inner-politlcal science geek.

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Sovereignty Ahead of Schedule

By Steven Taylor @ 6:29 am

U.S. Transfers Sovereignty to Iraqi Govt.

The U.S.-led coalition transferred sovereignty to an interim Iraqi government two days early Monday in a surprise move that apparently caught insurgents off guard, averting a feared campaign of attacks to sabotage the highly symbolic step toward self-rule.

Legal documents transferring sovereignty were handed over by U.S. governor L. Paul Bremer to chief justice Mahdi al-Mahmood in a small ceremony attended by about a half dozen Iraqi and coalition officials in the heavily guarded Green Zone. Bremer took charge in Iraq about a year ago.


Two hours after the ceremony Bremer left Iraq on a U.S. Air Force C-130, said Robert Tappan, an official of the former coalition occupation authority. Bremer was accompanied by coalition spokesman Dan Senor and close members of his staff.

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  • Backcountry Conservative linked with Iraqi Sovereignty Early
Sunday, June 27, 2004
Paging Mr. Wilson…

By Steven Taylor @ 6:12 pm

The FT has an interesting story on the Niger-Iraq/uranium story in today’s edition:

Until now, the only evidence of Iraq’s alleged attempts to buy uranium from Niger had turned out to be a forgery. In October 2002, documents were handed to the US embassy in Rome that appeared to be correspondence between Niger and Iraqi officials.

When the US State Department later passed the documents to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN nuclear watchdog, they were found to be fake. US officials have subsequently distanced themselves from the entire notion that Iraq was seeking buy uranium from Niger.

However, European intelligence officers have now revealed that three years before the fake documents became public, human and electronic intelligence sources from a number of countries picked up repeated discussion of an illicit trade in uranium from Niger. One of the customers discussed by the traders was Iraq.

These intelligence officials now say the forged documents appear to have been part of a “scam", and the actual intelligence showing discussion of uranium supply has been ignored.


The FT has now learnt that three European intelligence services were aware of possible illicit trade in uranium from Niger between 1999 and 2001. Human intelligence gathered in Italy and Africa more than three years before the Iraq war had shown Niger officials referring to possible illicit uranium deals with at least five countries, including Iraq.


Mr Wilson was critical of the Bush administration’s use of secret intelligence, and has since charged that the White House sought to intimidate him by leaking the identity of his wife, Valerie Plame, as a CIA agent.

But Mr Wilson also stated in his account of the visit that Mohamed Sayeed al-Sahaf, Iraq’s former information minister, was identified to him by a Niger official as having sought to discuss trade with Niger.

As Niger’s other main export is goats, some intelligence officials have surmised uranium was what Mr Sahaf was referring to.

Conclusive? No. Interesting? Yes.

Hat tip: THE BELGRAVIA DISPATCH via Instapundit.

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  • dangerous liberty linked with Ah, the rest of the Niger Yellow Cake story
Life’s Tough

By Steven Taylor @ 5:38 pm

Estimate of Heinz Fortune Doubled

Teresa Heinz Kerry, through a network of investments in blue-chip corporations, venture capital funds and municipal bonds, controls a family fortune worth an estimated $1 billion, an examination of public records shows.

The $1-billion figure is double the estimates of her wealth that are widely cited in news stories about her husband, Massachusetts Sen. John F. Kerry, the presumptive Democratic nominee for president.

The couple would rank as the wealthiest to occupy the White House, far surpassing such storied presidential fortunes as the Kennedys’. Their assets are so vast and far-reaching that they mirror the U.S. economy, and will likely raise questions about conflicts of interest.


Since key details of Heinz Kerry’s investments are not in the public record, a precise valuation is not possible. The Times analysis produced estimates as low as $900 million and as high as $3.2 billion.

Three senior executives at investment firms that handle accounts for wealthy clients reviewed The Times’ study and said the $1-billion valuation was a fair and conservative estimate.

That ain’t chump change, to be sure. If Kerry is elected, is she going to put all of it into a blind trust? I would pressume she would have to do so. However, that issue is apparently still up in the air:

Heinz Kerry has not said whether she will continue to oversee her personal assets or the family trusts if Kerry is elected. A Kerry spokesman said Friday that these issues had yet to be seriously considered. However, she has said repeatedly that she would not step down from her leadership of her philanthropic corporations.

It would seem sans blnd trust, the possibility of onflict of interest would be enormous.

Leon Panetta appears to concur:

“They will have to seriously consider putting it in a blind trust,” Panetta said. “All of us who have served in government have had to do that. In the end, it is the better way to go, because it removes any suspicion that a decision is self-serving. You have enough problems just making a decision, without dealing with the concern you may be putting money in your pocket.”

Of interest:

No specific law requires the president, much less the first lady, to put assets in a blind trust, said Stan Brand, a federal government ethics expert and Washington attorney. In fact, federal law says almost nothing about the first lady, though she does get protection and funding for an office.

Since Heinz Kerry owns such a broad portfolio of U.S. and foreign stocks, the actions of a Kerry administration could have a daily effect on companies in which his wife has millions of dollars invested, said Robert M. Stern, a financial disclosure expert and president of the Center for Governmental Studies.

“Almost any decision Kerry makes will affect one of her companies,” Stern said. “It might help the situation if the wealth were put into a blind trust.”

President Bush has placed his assets in a trust that is invested almost exclusively in certificates of deposit, according to his financial disclosure statement on file with the federal Office of Government Ethics.

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All Wise Choices for Prime-Time

By Steven Taylor @ 5:32 pm

GOP convention to feature McCain, Schwarzenegger, Giuliani

The official, who asked not to be named, confirmed a New York Times report that the three had been chosen to make prime-time speeches at the Republican gala in New York that will run from August 30 to September 2.

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More Beheading Threats, Including a Marine

By Steven Taylor @ 5:20 pm

Iraq Militants Threaten to Kill U.S. Hostage - TV

A brief video showed a blindfolded man dressed in camouflage carrying a Marine Corps identity card that named him as Wassef Ali Hassoun. It also showed other official documents with his name.


Hassoun is the latest foreigner to be kidnapped in Iraq. Earlier, Al Arabiya television broadcast a video from unidentified Iraqi gunmen who said they had kidnapped a Pakistani driver working for the U.S. military and who they threatened to behead unless Iraqi prisoners were freed.

Saturday, Jazeera aired a video tape allegedly from a group headed by al Qaeda-linked operative Abu Musab al Zarqawi in which it said it had kidnapped three Turks and threatened to behead them unless Turkish companies quit Iraq.

Ok, so this means that the terrorists have a US Marine with a Arab-sounding name, a Pakistani and three Turks (both muslim countries) and they are threatening to behead them all. Perhaps I don’t understand their PR campaign here, but surely beheading muslims will be somewhat counter-productive. At a minimum it would help demonstrate that this is clearly a war waged by jihadist fanatics against the whole world, including non-jihadist muslims.

Indeed, along those lines, the AP has the following:

The masked gunmen, who held assault rifles across their chests, said they would behead the Pakistani within three days unless the Americans freed prisoners held at Abu Ghraib and three cities of central Iraq-Balad, Dujail and Samarra. The gunmen said they captured the Pakistani near the U.S. base at Balad, 50 miles north of Baghdad.

The hostage, who gave his name as Amjad, urged Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf to close the Pakistani Embassy in Iraq and to ban Pakistanis from coming to Iraq.

“I’m also Muslim, but despite this they didn’t release me,” he said, bowing his head. “They are going to cut the head of any person regardless of whether he is a Muslim or not.”

Hat tip: Jeff Quinton.

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MTP on Moore

By Steven Taylor @ 4:34 pm

More from Meet the Press, this time from Gwen Ifill and Round Brownstein, neither conservatives, on F9/11:

MS. IFILL: You know, I look at this movie as a journalist, and as a journalist I have this affection for facts and accuracy. And even though there are facts in this movie, on whole it’s not accurate.


MR. BROWNSTEIN: I have a more complicated view of it, I think. I don’t think you go to Michael Moore for fair and balanced any more than you go to the other people who use that slogan for fair and balanced. As-it’s over the top in many respects. The allegations about the Saudi flights, Dick Clark and the 9-11 Commission, for example, who have not been apologists for President Bush, reached very different conclusions. But I think the movie is much more successful in telling human stories than political stories. And the second half of the movie, when he focuses on the impact, the cost of the war in Iraq, both in Iraq and in the U.S., although there are quibbles-you can have quarrels with him on that front as well-the theater that I was in, you could really hear a pin drop for the second half of the movie. I could barely hear people breathing. And I think it really is no crime to remind people every so often that war is hell. And that’s what this movie does very effectively when it focuses on the human story rather than the political story, which I agree is a bit overwrought at times.

I have heard Brownstein’s thesis numerous times now: that there are two films, the political one about Bush and Saudis and so forth, and the second half that shows Moore’s view of the face and consequences of the war. Almost every responsible person, even the very liberal, have had generally negative, or at least very cautious, things to say about the first half, and then they focuse on the second half. Of course, the first half is the problem. I find it neither problematic nor surprising that Moore made a moving segment about the cost of fighting, especially by focusing on a woman who lost her son. But if that was all the movie was about (and it isn’t the way it is being marketed, based on the commercials I have seen) then I don’t think it would have gotten the buzz it has received.

And you have to love Brownstein’s dig at Fox News Channel.

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The President on Saddam

By Steven Taylor @ 4:25 pm

Here’s what the President said before the Iraq invasion:

What if he fails to comply and we fail to act, or we take some ambiguous third route, which gives him yet more opportunities to develop this program of weapons of mass destruction? Well, he will conclude that the international community has lost his will-its will. He will then conclude that he can go right on and do more to rebuild an arsenal of devastating destruction. And someday, some way, I guarantee you, he’ll use the arsenal.

What a rube, yes? How misleading can you get?

Oh, by the way, the President in question was Bill Clinton. The quote is from February 17, 1989.

Source: Today’s MTP.

Of course, that was wway back in 1998. So how about a quote from the Senate floor in 2002 from a Sentor who voted to give the President the power to use military force in Iraq:

Mr. President, when I vote to give the president of the United States the authority to use force if necessary to disarm Saddam Hussein, because I believe that a deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in his hands is a threat and a grave threat to our security and that of our allies in the Persian Gulf region.

Of course, you likely already have guessed that the Senator in question was John F. Kerry.

However, here’s a quote from another Senator who voted for the war:

It’s clear, however, that if left unchecked, Saddam Hussein will continue to increase his capacity to wage biological, chemical warfare and will keep trying to develop nuclear weapons. Should he succeed in that endeavor, he could alter the political and security landscape of the Middle East, which as we know all

too well, affects American security. This much is undisputed.

That would be the junior Senator from New York, Hillary Clinton in October of 2002.

Hmm, I wonder why none of those sound bites made it into Mr. Moore’s movie?

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By Steven Taylor @ 4:15 pm

My thanks to the following for linking to PoliBlog:

  • augustus
  • mypetjawa
  • Phlegma
  • Spin Killer

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    WMD Issues in Iraq Being Ignored?

    By Steven Taylor @ 11:32 am

    Terrorists Seek Iraqi WMD Scientists

    Al Qaeda-connected terror chief Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and other terrorists are apparently trying to recruit Iraqi weapons of mass destruction experts and resources for possible future attacks against the U.S.-led coalition, the head of the Iraq Survey Group told FOX News Thursday.

    In an exclusive interview with FOX News’ Brit Hume, Charles Duelfer-whose ISG is leading the hunt for weapons of mass destruction-said terrorists in Iraq are “trying to tap into the Iraqi WMD intellectual capital.”

    “When we have investigated certain labs and contacted certain former experts in the WMD program, we have found that they are being recruited by anti-coalition groups,” Duelfer told FOX News. “They are being paid by anti-coalition groups. We’re seeing interest in developing chemical munitions.”

    The same process seems to be happening in Afghanistan, he said.

    He also told Fox News that about 10 or 12 sarin and mustard gas shells have been found in various locations in Iraq.

    The shells are all from the first Gulf War era and thus weakened, though intelligence sources say they’re still dangerous.

    Ok, while the story comes from Fox (which I know many other media sources hold with disdain), the source is the the head of the ISG, which is the same position that David Kay held, so it strikes me that this is at least newsworthy, yet I have heard nothing about it save the interview cited here.

    I don’t think it is the most important story in Iraq, but it strikes me as quite newsworthy.

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    By Steven Taylor @ 10:34 am

    From today’s Mobile Register , a piece on the Alabama GOP’s primaries and the influence of Roy Moore:

    The Moore influence
    Sunday, June 27, 2004
    Special to the Register

    With the decision by Jerry Stokes to withdraw from the Republican primary runoff for the state Supreme Court’s place 3 race, what little drama that existed for Tuesday’s runoff evaporated.

    The whole thing is here.

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    Saturday, June 26, 2004
    Intriguing: Greens Reject Nader

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:31 pm

    US Green Party spurns Nader as presidential nominee

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    Nazis are Only Funny in Mel Brooks Musicals

    By Steven Taylor @ 1:12 pm

    The Blogosphere is all atwitter about the latest rant from the former Veep:

    In an hour-long address punctuated by polite laughter and applause, Gore also accused the Bush administration of working closely “with a network of ‘rapid response’ digital Brown Shirts who work to pressure reporters and their editors for ‘undermining support for our troops."‘

    First off, I concur with James Taranto who, in the June 25th edition of “Best of the Web” cites Godwin’s Law (something that has to be cited far too often these days).

    Second, while I can see how this can be amusing on one level, I must admit that it really is too creepy to me to be funny.

    (Perhaps “Nazis are only funny in Mel Brooks musicals” can be Taylor’s Corollary to Godwin’s Law).

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    When Will the Unilateralism End?

    By Steven Taylor @ 11:38 am

    U.S., EU Offer Strong NATO Aid for Iraq

    The United States and the European Union agreed in a joint statement to back Iraq’s request for NATO military and support the training of Iraqi security forces, and to reduce Iraq’s international debt, estimated to be $120 billion. Diplomats said later Saturday that NATO nations have reached a tentative agreement on plans to help train Iraq’s armed forces.

    There he goes again: shredding alliances and holding our former firends in disdain. What can be done?

    All is not lost, however, as the statement did criticize the US:

    the joint statement also made a veiled criticism of abuse of prisoners by American soldiers. “We stress the need for full respect of the Geneva Conventions,” the statement said, referring to international accords setting out guidelines for the humane treatment of prisoners. The single sentence was an unstated but obvious reference to the Abu Ghraib prison scandal and the treatment of detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

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    Words Do, in Fact, Mean Things

    By Steven Taylor @ 11:29 am

    I don’t wish to be overly glib about a topic as signficant as the treatment of prisoners, but really, many in the press need to whip out Webster’s (or better yet, some good histories on warfare) and look up “torture.” Don;t they realize that they diminish the singificance of the word, not to mention deflect potentially important attention from allegations of abuse by defining the term in an overly broad fashion?

    Here’s an example from

    WaPo’s Reliable Source column by Richard Leiby (hat tip to Michelle Malkin). From the column we have:

    United we stand: In a just-revealed notation on a 2002 memo about interrogation tactics, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld indicated that making terrorism detainees stand for up to four hours was no biggie in the physical stress department. “I stand for 8-10 hours a day,” Rummy scrawled. “Why is standing limited to four hours?”

    Yesterday, underlings were happy to confirm that their 71-year-old boss does, indeed, toil for hours without sitting. Evidently he enjoys it. “There is no chair at his desk in his office,” spokeswoman Hollen Wheeler told us. “When he works, he stands. When he reads or writes, he uses a stand-up desk all day. . . . Maybe that’s a tribute to his health. He’s in great shape.”

    But what about when Rumsfeld relaxes? “When he has lunch with people he sits down,” said a defense official who asked not to be identified. “But what he does when he eats alone, I don’t know. I wouldn’t be surprised if he stood.”

    Further proof that one man’s torture is simply another man’s posturing.

    Please. So making someone stand up for more than four hours should be defined as “torture"? Perhaps not fun, but torture? I think not.

    I do understand the difference between working in an office and having to stand in front of interrogators. Still, I have a hard time seeing it as particularly extreme.

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    Fun with Indicators

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:53 am

    Barry Ritholtz has a list of numerous presidential election indicators over at the Big Picture. The outcome is mixed.

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    One of the Reasons I Use Firefox

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:02 am

    Spreading Web Virus Aims to Steal Financial Data

    The infected servers in turn exploit another vulnerability in Microsoft’s Internet Explorer browser to install a Trojan Horse virus on the PCs of Web surfers who visit the infected Web sites, said Alfred Huger, senior director of engineering at Internet security company Symantec Corp.

    “All of this takes place while it looks like you’re viewing the same Web page,” Huger said. “You don’t even know that parts of your browser have been redirected to another Web site.”

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    News from Around my Blogroll

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:58 am

    Spanning the Blogosphere with the thrill of linkage and the agony of being ignored:

  • Sean Hackbarth is off on vacation and has left The American Mind in the hands of others (who appear to be quite prolific).

  • Brett Marston renamed his blog some time ago (and redesigned the site to some degree). I have meant to mention it, but never got around to it.
  • Matthew J. Stinson, the only blogger on my blogroll who blogs from China (to my knowledge) has given his site a very nifty facelift and has also migrated to WordPress.
  • In case you haven’t noticed, Bryan at AWS wasn’t able to stay away from politics after all.
  • Stephen Bainbridge can’t get enough blogging, so is now a contributor to and Mirror of Justice (Hat Tip: Pejmanesque)
  • Robert Tagorda is in the process of moving east. He’s like going to some trade school or something in the Boston area.
  • Stephen Green will go to many length for a wet bar and an upgraded kitchen (just don’t ask him about Green Point Mortgage).

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    The Prisoner of Azkaban

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:58 am

    We saw the latest Harry Potter film last night and thoroughly enjoyed it. Despite early concerns about the new director, I think he did an excellent job. The look and feel of this film was an improvement over the prior two. Of course, Azkaban may be my favorite of the books, which meant this film had arguably the best story to work with to date. The film had good pacing and the script did an excellent job of following the book and the basic plot, while adequately condensing it into the allotted time.

    I will say that while the new Dumbledore is fine, I missed Richard Harris in the role.

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    Friday, June 25, 2004
    One Would Hope

    By Steven Taylor @ 4:35 pm

    Judge Sorry for Likening Bush, Hitler

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    Not That There’s Anything Wrong With That

    By Steven Taylor @ 4:34 pm

    Kerry Goes on 36-Hour Bicoastal Campaign

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    More on MovieMoore (Instead of Roy Moore)

    By Steven Taylor @ 4:33 pm

    From the Saramento Bee review of the film, P resident’s taken to task in fiery ‘Fahrenheit 9/11′, we find this tripe:

    This is Moore’s cue to remind us of who exactly is fighting this war - the uneducated sons and daughters of the poor - and to show us two smug Marine recruiters canvassing a Wal-Mart in Flint for potential volunteers.

    Given that I know 3 of my peers (i.e., in my age and socioeconomic grouping) who have been or are currently in Iraq, and also have had a number of students who have been or will be going to Iraq, I find this to be a ludicrious statement. Not to mention that the actual stats of who it is that tends to be fighting don’t bear out the “ony the sons of the poor” are fighting thesis.

    And beyond even that, just because Moore found examples of unhappy soldiers and families is meaningless. One could make a three hour movie just of talking to troops and their families who are proud of what they are doing. Yes, Moore can apparently move people by presenting a mother who lost her son, but what does that prove?

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    Ryan Quits Illinois Senate Race

    By Steven Taylor @ 3:38 pm

    Illinois’ Jack Ryan Abandons Senate Bid

    Illinois senatorial candidate Jack Ryan abruptly abandoned his bid for Congress on Friday, succumbing to a furor over sex club allegations that horrified fellow Republicans and made him a target of late-night comedy.

    “It’s clear to me that a vigorous debate on the issues most likely could not take place if I remain in the race,” said the 44-year-old Ryan, who won his party’s nomination in a multi-candidate primary earlier this year.

    “What would take place, rather, is a brutal, scorched-earth campaign � the kind of campaign that has turned off so many voters, the kind of politics I refuse to play.”

    Illinois GOP leaders expressed relief. “Jack Ryan made the right decision. I know it must have been a difficult one,” said House Speaker Dennis Hastert, who made his feelings known by canceling a fund-raising event scheduled for Thursday with the senatorial hopeful.

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    Iacocca Endorses Kerry

    By Steven Taylor @ 3:31 pm

    A former Bush backer endorses Kerry

    Senator John F. Kerry won the coveted endorsement yesterday from a onetime supporter of President Bush, former Chrysler chairman Lee Iacocca, who praised Kerry’s proposals for creating 10 million jobs across the country and assailed the Bush administration’s economic record.

    Yup, new jobs and robust growth pretty much sucks.

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    IE v. Firefox

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:29 am

    I had to fire up IE this morning because it has a problem rendering some web pages (I am not sure what the deal is, but some pages display as random characters after a certain point on the page-in this case it was Thomas Galvin’s site). As a result I ended up doing some browsing from some links on Galvin’s site and ended up with a ton of pop-ups. I had forgotten a) how many pop-ups I used to get with only moderate browsing, and b) how stinkin’ annoying they can be. And there is no doubt that tabbed browsing is the way to go.

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    Evidence of Substanial Iraq-al Qaeda Communication: So Says the NYT

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:10 am

    James Joyner points to the following NYT piece, Iraqis, Seeking Foes of Saudis, Contacted bin Laden, File Says, which shows, yet again, that claims by the administration of Iraq-al Qaeda communication and cooperation are not the stuff of fantasy, but of stark reality.

    Contacts between Iraqi intelligence agents and Osama bin Laden when he was in Sudan in the mid-1990’s were part of a broad effort by Baghdad to work with organizations opposing the Saudi ruling family, according to a newly disclosed document obtained by the Americans in Iraq.

    Indeed, it has long struck me that the appropriate approach for opponents on the war to take on the Saddam-al Qaeda ties is not to insist that cooperation between the two sides was nonexistent, but rather that it was unimportant. Of course, I don’t accept that position, but it is more intellectually honest than to insist that no ties existed. Of course, the problem for critics of the war is that to admit al Qaeda-Saddam ties of any consequence is to concede that there might have been some justification for the invasion on war on terror grounds.

    I would also note that the reporters at the Times need to read their own columnists, because the following statement is inaccurate, as the Commission reached no such conclusions, rather a staffer did:

    Last week, the independent commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks addressed the known contacts between Iraq and Al Qaeda, which have been cited by the White House as evidence of a close relationship between the two.

    The commission concluded that the contacts had not demonstrated “a collaborative relationship” between Iraq and Al Qaeda. The Bush administration responded that there was considerable evidence of ties.

    The piece does refer to the commission document as a “staff report” six paragraphs from the bottom of the story in a thirty-two paragraph piece.

    At any rate, I would encourage the reading of the entire story. And as James notes is his post, even the anti-Iraq war (indeed, anti-Bush terrorism policy) author of the book, Imperial Hubris corroborates this information in his first book, Through Our Enemies’ Eyes.

    Update/Correction: In the original version of this post, I cited the book Imperial Hubris as corroborating the NYT piece-right author, wrong book. I have fixed the reference above.

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    A Lengthy Observation on Fahrenheit 911

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:54 am

    Many positive review for Moore’s film note his film-making skills, his sense of humor as well as the anger and self-contradictions in the film. Many conclude that the film, even if not a perfect representation of the truth, is nonetheless an example of democratic free speech (Thomas Galvin has a lengthy round-up of reviews).

    Let me say that there is no doubt that Moore has fine film-making skills, and I will even concede that he has a sense of humor (although I would he also has a great sense of self-importance). Further, I concur that this film is an example of democracy in action: it shows how a citizen of the United States can express controversial, and even demonstrably false, opinions in the full view of the government without any consequences from said government. I applaud that (and, like James Joyner, think that any attempt to use McCain-Feingold to silence commercials for the film to be ridiculous).

    Now, I doubt very seriously I will see the film. I can say that with confidence because I don’t go to the movies very often (the small children thing and all that). Indeed, the last film I saw at the movies was The Return of the King back in December and my wife and I are going to see the new Harry Potter film tonight as part of our fourteenth anniversary celebration (which is actually the 30th, but this was when we could go out)-so with an average of 1 movie every 6 months means that Fahrenheit 911 is unlikely to get a slot. Further, I tend to avoid movies that will annoy me (I mean, really, what would be the point? being annoyed isn’t entertaining to me), and I am not a fan of films that are clearly propaganda.

    An obnoxious as Moore is, I have an easy personal solution for dealing with him: I don’t watch interviews with him (I have in the past, but I find he has gotten smug and aggravating beyond acceptability) and I won’t watch his films. I have only paid as much attention to this one as I have because of the political implications. Further, it has been nearly impossible to ignore the darn thing.

    Indeed, the fawning nature of mass media’s approach to this film has been annoying, to say the least. The Passion of the Christ was treated as more controversial than this film. Where is all the deconstruction of the “facts” of this film? Where’s the outrage that some people might be offended by the film? Certainly that was the approach to Mel Gibson’s movie. In fact, the examination of the storyline, script and information in the Passion started months and months before the film was completed. Liberals can scoff at the following statement, but the coverage of these two films underscore (as did the coverage of the 911 Commission’s staff memo on the Iraq/Al Qaeda bit) that there are substantial liberal leanings in the mainstream press. There is a great deal of glee over Moore’s film in the coverage of it because of the obvious fact that many in the mainstream press hope that it will damage Bush.

    Beyond the press, I am seriously amazed at the degree to which mainstream Democrats are boosting the film. When some Republicans pushed The Clinton Chronicles back in the day, I considered that a move that diminished them, and certainly they weren’t treated as mainstream in the press. However, if mainstream Democrats give plaudits to Moore, well what’s wrong with that? And certainly the more outlandish conspiracy theories and books about Clinton were not given the treatment Moore is getting.

    Given that the film essentially claims that Bush has complicity in the 911 attacks because of links to the bin Laden family, among other things, it is remarkable that it is getting support from the Democratic leadership. Surely this kind of inflammatory rhetoric is something that mainline Democrats would want to distant themselves from. Sure, I can see them wanting the movie to damage Bush, but let it do so at a distance.

    However, this is not the case.

    There’s Mario Cuomo

    “I am personally committed, as well as many other Americans, to do everything I possibly can to be sure that as many Americans as possible get to see this extraordinary film,” Cuomo told reporters at a news conference in Manhattan.

    And check out the guest list for the D.C. premiere of the flick:

    last night the city’s political heavyweights - well, the Democratic ones, at least - greeted Moore with open arms as they turned out en masse for the Washington premiere of his new film Fahrenheit 9/11. Packing the Uptown Theater to the rafters, about 800 people - including South Dakota Senator Tom Daschle, Florida Senator Bob Graham, and Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe, to name just a few of the prominent Democrats in attendance - took in Moore’s two-plus hours of Bush-bashing, applauding throughout and giving Moore a standing ovation when it was over.
    And from the same piece check out McAuliffe’s endorsement of the film:
    “I think anyone who sees this movie will come out en masse to make sure John Kerry is elected president this November,” McAuliffe said after the premiere. “Credit to Michael Moore for taking the time to put this together.”

    I find this all quite remarkable. Such endorsements by the very leadership of the Democratic Party seems to scream: we don’t have any ideas or arguments in regards to the current political season, so instead we will extol what is at best a facutally questionable, sarcastic, cinematic op-ed piece, and is at worst clever political propaganda. I am not surprised that Moore made the movie, or than many who dislike the President are praising the film. What I am surprised by is that embracing of the film by the Democratic mainstream. Those who do so relinquish the right, I would argue, to complain that the political discourse has been coarsened, given that this film is a quintessential example of such a coarsening.

    Update: This post is part of today’s OTB Beltway Traffic Jam.

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    I Hate Comment Spam

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:03 am

    Comment spam may be the straw that breaks this blogger’s back and sends me either to ExpressEngine or WP. Even with MT-Blacklist I get a handful of spam daily, and then there are the mornings where I wake up to a boatload-this time over 70 some some online casino and another half-dozen for some online shopping thingie. At least it wasn’t porn and over 200 like I had one day.

    EE’s anti-comment spam tools look far superior to MTs-even with Blacklist.

    We shall see.

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    Thursday, June 24, 2004
    I Have No Doubt that Leahy Can be Annoying, but…

    By Steven Taylor @ 6:54 pm

    This really isn’t appropriate behavior for the Veep on the floor of the Senate Cheney Utters ‘F-Word’ in Senate - Aides

    Vice President Dick Cheney blurted out the “F word” at Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont during a heated exchange on the Senate floor, congressional aides said on Thursday.

    The incident occurred on Tuesday in a terse discussion between the two that touched on politics, religion and money, with Cheney finally telling Leahy to “f— off” or “go f— yourself,” the aides said.

    “I think he was just having a bad day,” Leahy was quoted as saying on CNN, which first reported the incident. “I was kind of shocked to hear that kind of language on the floor.”

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    But I thougt they Were All for Voting and Stuff

    By Steven Taylor @ 11:35 am

    Democrats Sue to Block Nader From Ariz. Ballot

    What happend to letting every vote count?

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    The Real Thing?

    By Steven Taylor @ 11:11 am

    The thing I don’t get about Coke C2 is: if you are that concerned about the carb content of your beverages, why not just drink Diet Coke and/or stop the soda consumption altogether?

    I haven’t tried it, and doubt I will. I made the migration to diet sodas a few years ago when I realized how many empty calories I was consuming on a weekly basis (in other words, I started to get old enough to note my weight).

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    Books for Iraq

    By Steven Taylor @ 11:01 am

    I have volunteered to help Dr. Safaa al-Hamdani, a biology professor at Jacksonville State University (another school here in Alabama) in a book drive to collect texts to help populate the Baghdad University library, which, between post-war looting and multi-decade neglect by the Saddam regime is in serious need of help.

    While I am focusing my efforts on my university, and other schools in Alabama with which I have contact, I thought a note to the Blogosphere wouldn’t hurt.

    While books from any discipline are welcome, Dr. al-Hamdani notes that there is a special need for science, math and medical texts. Also, he asks that books no older than five years be collected, as given the cost of shipping we want to make sure we are sending usable books. Also, funds to help ship the books are also in need.

    If you can help, please contact me directly at University/school e-mail (all that info can be found by clicking on the “Academic Site” link under the PoliBlog logo)-or just click here..

    If you are able to help, books or donations could be sent directly to me.

    There is a brief news story about the book drive here.

    UPDATES: If you wish to send cash to help defray the costs of the shipping, here’s the information for that:

    Books or checks made payable to Books for Baghdad may be sent to Dr. Al-Hamdani in care of the Department of Biology, Jacksonville State University, 700 Pelham Road North, Jacksonville, AL 36265.

    And here’s a more extensive story about the project.

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    Is this the Supreme Court or Dodge Ball?

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:14 am

    Like the Newdow case, the Court only kinda rules on the Cheney energy commission case: Supreme Court Refuses to Order Cheney to Release Energy Papers

    The Supreme Court refused Thursday to order the Bush administration to make public secret details of Vice President Dick Cheney’s energy task force, but kept the case alive by sending it back to a lower court.

    Justices said 7-2 that a lower court should consider whether a federal open government law could be used to get documents of the task force.

    The decision extends the legal fight over the information. Justices could have allowed a judge to immediately move ahead with ordering the release of the papers.

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    Decaf Coffee News

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:32 am

    Make Mine Decaf, With Flavor

    If you’ve given up caffeine but find the taste of decaffeinated coffee wanting, then a new discovery may perk you up: Scientists have found a coffee plant in Africa that grows naturally decaffeinated arabica beans.

    Coffea arabica is by far the most widely grown and consumed coffee in the world. Attempts to transfer the caffeine-free characteristic from wild coffee species found in Madagascar have failed.

    But researchers believe that, using this new plant from Ethiopia, they can transfer its low-caffeine trait to regular arabica plants and produce a high-quality, good-tasting, decaffeinated coffee.

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    Arnold and the GOP Covention

    By Steven Taylor @ 6:38 am

    Schwarzenegger, Confident and Ready for Prime Time

    “Whether I’m speaking, I’ll leave that up to them,” said Mr. Schwarzenegger, a global celebrity who has emerged as perhaps the most intriguing new Republican face of the political season. “If they’re smart, they’ll have me obviously in prime time.”

    No kidding. And I suspect he will have quite a prominent slot.

    And this is neither surprising, nor unreasonable:

    But Mr. Schwarzenegger, who has been defining himself as a moderate, also made it clear that when prime time is over, he intends to keep some distance from Mr. Bush, who is not particularly popular in Democratic-leaning California.

    Mr. Schwarzenegger said that while he would appear with Mr. Bush if the president comes to California, he had no plans to travel outside of the state to stump for him. “If I start flying around and not spending time here, it could backfire big time,” he said, adding that Californians elected him to be their full-time governor and that he was not going to risk his standing by devoting himself to national politics.

    The only question, really, will be how hard he tries to help in California.

    And yout have to love this:

    For instance, since Mr. Schwarzenegger took office on Nov. 17, the toilet paper in the Capitol has been switched from two-ply to one-ply, a saving of thousands of dollars over the years. “It’s not anymore the two-ply,” he said. “Because you know what? We’re trimming. We’re living within our means.”

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    In Case Anyone was Wondering

    By Steven Taylor @ 6:33 am

    TiVo rocks.

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    Iraqi Insurgents Seek to Disrupt Transfer of Power

    By Steven Taylor @ 6:20 am

    About 75 Die in Wave of Iraqi Attacks

    Rebels bent on disrupting a handover to Iraqi rule bloodied five cities Thursday with coordinated assaults on local security forces in which about 75 people, including three U.S. soldiers, were killed.

    The violence in Baquba, Falluja, Ramadi, Mosul and Baghdad intensified a sustained campaign by Iraqi insurgents and foreign militants to sabotage Iraq’s formal transition from U.S.-led occupation to an interim government in six days’ time.

    More than 200 people were wounded.

    In Mosul, 240 miles north of Baghdad, multiple car bombings on police buildings rocked the city, killing at least 44 people and wounding 216, the Health Ministry said.

    Fighting in Anbar province, which includes Falluja and Ramadi, killed at least nine people and wounded 27. Clashes around Baquba killed 13 and wounded 15, the ministry said.

    I fear this will be a bloody week as the terrorists and Baathist deadenders try to do their worst to disrupt the official transfer of svoreignty on the 30th.

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    Wednesday, June 23, 2004
    Works for Me

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:13 pm

    Iraq PM Vows to Hunt Militants Behind Death Threat

    “We will get (Zarqawi) and we will get all the criminals… We will bring them to justice,” Allawi, a former Baathist who plotted against Saddam Hussein from exile, told the BBC.

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    An Example of Irresponsible Journalism

    By Steven Taylor @ 3:48 pm

    I meant to comment on this earlier, but didn’t get around to it. Bill Safire’s column from Monday points out something that was not clear in the reporting last week on the “no al Qaeda ties” meme: The Zelikow Report

    “Panel Finds No Qaeda-Iraq Tie” went the Times headline. “Al Qaeda-Hussein Link Is Dismissed” front-paged The Washington Post. The A.P. led with the thrilling words “Bluntly contradicting the Bush Administration, the commission. . . .” This understandably caused my editorial-page colleagues to draw the conclusion that “there was never any evidence of a link between Iraq and Al Qaeda. . . .”

    All wrong. The basis for the hoo-ha was not a judgment of the panel of commissioners appointed to investigate the 9/11 attacks. As reporters noted below the headlines, it was an interim report of the commission’s runaway staff, headed by the ex-N.S.C. aide Philip Zelikow.

    Setting aside the “runaway staff” quip, it is significant that the memo that caused all that buzz last week was not the work of the entire Commission, but rather was a staff memo with interim conclusions. However, this was not the way the info was reported. Instead, it was presented, writ large, as a conclusion of the Commission itself.

    Not only was the initial reporting of the contents of the memo skewed (it was reported by many as simply “commission finds no ties between al Qaeda and Saddam” instead of noting that the specific issue was 911 ties), but the authority of the memo was inflated, to say the least.

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    The NYT on Moore

    By Steven Taylor @ 3:35 pm

    Not surprisingly, the NYT movie reviewer liked Fahrenheit 911 (and not because the NYT is liberal, but because Moore tends to make the kind of movies that movie reviewers like): ‘Fahrenheit 9/11′: Unruly Scorn Leaves Room for Restraint, but Not a Lot. This stuck out at me:

    Mr. Moore is often impolite, rarely subtle and occasionally unwise. He can be obnoxious, tendentious and maddeningly self-contradictory. He can drive even his most ardent admirers crazy. He is a credit to the republic.

    So, he is obnoxious, contradicts himself and so forth, yet he is a credit to the republic? Come again? So what are polite folks who are accurate?

    The review continues:

    His case is synthetic rather than comprehensive, and it is not always internally consistent. He dwells on the connections between the Bush family and the Saudi Arabian elite (including the bin Laden family), and while he creates a strong impression of unseemly coziness, his larger point is not altogether clear.

    After you leave the theater, some questions are likely to linger about Mr. Moore’s views on the war in Afghanistan, about whether he thinks the homeland security program has been too intrusive or not intrusive enough, and about how he thinks the government should have responded to the murderous jihadists who attacked the United States on Sept. 11.

    Which leads to:

    At the same time, though, it may be that the confusions trailing Mr. Moore’s narrative are what make “Fahrenheit 9/11″ an authentic and indispensable document of its time. The film can be seen as an effort to wrest clarity from shock, anger and dismay, and if parts of it seem rash, overstated or muddled, well, so has the national mood.

    To which I say: huh? I guess I am not sufficiently artsy to see the art at work with this kind of film.

    Ah well, maybe I should go home and watch my DVD of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Now there’s a movie.

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    By Steven Taylor @ 11:44 am

    Clearly I am going to have to start officially banning Wikipeida from student papers. Yes, it is a handy tool for looking up a quick fact, but it is hardly adequate for research papers.

    However, its increased usage of late shows 1) that it must have really good placement on search engine resultsm and 2) further evidence that students, unless explicitedly told otherwisem just jump on the internet to do “research.”

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    Bombing Outside Colombian University

    By Steven Taylor @ 11:40 am

    Bomb at University in Colombian Capital Kills One, AFP Reports

    A bomb exploded outside Javeriana University in Colombia’s capital, Bogota, killing one person and causing damage, Agence France-Presse said citing an unidentified police spokesman.

    The victim was blown apart by the bomb and police are trying to determine whether he was carrying the explosives, AFP said. No one else was hurt in the incident, which happened shortly after the university closed for the day on Tuesday.

    The explosion blew out windows at the university and in surrounding buildings, the news agency reported.

    Having been on that campus (indeed, having lived only a few blocks from it), this is personally a tad spooky.

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    By Steven Taylor @ 11:21 am

    Oh, my: The Rev. Moon Honored at Hill Reception

    More than a dozen lawmakers attended a congressional reception this year honoring the Rev. Sun Myung Moon in which Moon declared himself the Messiah and said his teachings have helped Hitler and Stalin be “reborn as new persons.”

    At the March 23 ceremony in the Dirksen Senate Office Building, Rep. Danny K. Davis (D-Ill.) wore white gloves and carried a pillow holding an ornate crown that was placed on Moon’s head. The Korean-born businessman and religious leader then delivered a long speech saying he was “sent to Earth . . . to save the world’s six billion people. . . . Emperors, kings and presidents . . . have declared to all Heaven and Earth that Reverend Sun Myung Moon is none other than humanity’s Savior, Messiah, Returning Lord and True Parent.”

    Details of the ceremony - first reported by writer John Gorenfeld - have prompted several lawmakers to say they were misled or duped by organizers. Their complaints prompted a Moon-affiliated Web site to remove a video of the “Crown of Peace” ceremony two days ago, but other Web sites have preserved details and photos.


    Moon has claimed to have spoken in “the spirit world” with all deceased U.S. presidents, Jesus, Moses, Mohammed and others. At the March 23 event, he said: “The founders of five great religions and many other leaders in the spirit world, including even Communist leaders such as Marx and Lenin . . . and dictators such as Hitler and Stalin, have found strength in my teachings, mended their ways and been reborn as new persons.”

    It is because Moon owns the Washington Times that I have a hard time taking said paper seriously.

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    Go, Joe, Go!

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:37 am

    I could think of nothing better that could happen to the Trek franchise: B5 Creator Pitches Trek

    Babylon 5 creator J. Michael Straczynski told fans on a B5 Usenet group that he and Dark Skies creator Bryce Zabel have put together an idea for a new Star Trek series, which he said would revive the ailing franchise. “I got together [with Zabel] and wrote a treatment earlier this year that specified how to save [Star Trek] and develop a series that would restore the series in a big way,” Straczynski wrote. “I actually think it could be a hell of a show. Whether that ever goes anywhere with Paramount, who knows?”

    Babylon 5 was, in my opinion, the best sci fi series ever made. Trek is the greater franchise, and TOS has truly classic characters, but B5 in terms of story, writing and totality of a five year run was fanstastic stuff.

    And the following gives me some hope that the folks at Paramount might actually play:

    Straczynski added that Paramount called him last year to accept an executive producer position on the currrent Trek series, Enterprise, in its upcoming fourth season, but that he declined. “The series I mentioned has nothing to do with any current series,” he added. “It’s a new show.”

    If they willing to hire him for Enterprise, maybe they will take this treatment seriously. It strikes me as a no-brainer to get him on board, but tv execs aren’t always known for making obviously smart choices.

    I mean, gee whiz, some big-time, well-paid TV exec though this was a good idea.

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    SC Senate Race

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:22 am

    Jeff Quinton has a round-up of the DeMint victory in South Carolina.

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    It’s Called “Being a Senator”

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:15 am

    From the same story, we find that Kerry didn’t get to vote on what he wanted to vote on yesterday:

    The meeting came on an unusual day for Kerry, who spent it not campaigning for votes in New Mexico, as originally scheduled, but in the Capitol. He had come, he said, to cast a vote to increase funding for veterans’ health care. Republicans, eager to deny Kerry the moment he sought, maneuvered to prevent a roll call.

    By evening, he bemoaned the delay in remarks on the Senate floor. “We have an opportunity to make a choice today. If we don’t, then we’ll continue to talk about this issue over the next months,” the Democratic presidential candidate said. “And the American people will make a choice in November.”


    “Senator Kerry ought to have an opportunity to vote” on veterans, Daschle, of South Dakota, said at mid-afternoon, at a time when the presidential candidate still nursed hopes — later abandoned — of being able to do so in time to fly to New Mexico for an evening fund-raiser.

    What, the Senate has to schedule its votes to accomodate one Senator? There is an easy way for Mr. Kerry to get to vote: he can stay in Washington and be a Senator. If he wants the political advantage of being able to vote for something that will make him look good, he has to live with the political game of the vote being delayed.

    Really, while he has the right to keep his seat while he runs, there does come a point where it seems a choice should be made: either he is a presidential candidate or a legislator. It is nearly impossible to effectively be both.

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    OK, So it wasn’t Entirely all that Secretive

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:08 am

    Kerry Has Secretive Meeting With Edwards

    So every time that Kerry meets with a potential running mate we are going to have the same breathless story.

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    There’s a Shocker

    By Steven Taylor @ 6:43 am

    Message Threatens Iraqi Interim Prime Minister

    A recording purportedly made by the mastermind of bombings and kidnappings in Iraq threatened to assassinate Iraq’s interim prime minister and fight the Americans “until Islamic rule is back on Earth.'’

    The audio recording was found Wednesday on a Web site that serves as a clearinghouse of Islamic extremist statements. It is supposedly from Jordanian-born terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, whose network has been targeted by two U.S. airstrikes since Saturday.

    Al-Zarqawi’s group, Monotheism and Jihad, claimed responsibility for the beheading of American hostage Nicholas Berg and Kim Sun-il, a South Korean whose decapitated body was found Tuesday evening between Baghdad and Fallujah.

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    Call ‘em “Food Cards”

    By Steven Taylor @ 6:41 am

    This took a while. I know that there have been electronic benefits cards in Alabama for at least six years, and probably over ten in Texas (where it is called a �Lone Star Card�):
    Electronic Cards Replace Coupons for Food Stamps

    The Bush administration announced Tuesday that it had completed one of the biggest changes in the history of the food stamp program, replacing paper coupons with electronic benefits and debit cards.

    At the same time, the administration said it wanted to rename the program because the term “food stamps” had become an anachronism. It is inviting the public to suggest how to update the name of a program that became a permanent part of the government, and the nation’s vocabulary, during Lyndon B. Johnson’s Great Society era.

    Electronic benefits have replaced food stamp coupons in all states, and more than half the states now issue electronic benefits in place of welfare checks as well. In addition, some states are using debit cards for Medicaid and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children.

    OF course, I have mixed emotions on the stigma-removal aspect of this. One wonders to the degree to which recipients are in true need, or simply use the food stamps as a means of supplementing other purchases they would have to forgo if they actually had to pay for their groceries.

    Not to generalize from anecdotal evidence, but any times I have watched people buy groceries with food stamps/food cards only to then pay cash for tobacco products. Further, early in my married life there were many a time when the person in line with me paying with food stamps was buying nicer stuff (better meat, brand names, etc.) than I was because I was trying to economize.

    It is a flawed system at best.

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    DeMint: GOP Nominee for Senate in SC

    By Steven Taylor @ 6:27 am

    DeMint Easily Wins S.C. Primary

    Rep. Jim DeMint began his Senate campaign as a relatively unknown candidate across most of South Carolina. Two weeks ago, he barely made it out of the Republican primary.

    But the three-term congressman completed a remarkable turnaround Tuesday, coasting to a decisive runoff victory over former Gov. David Beasley and setting the stage for a race that could help determine the balance of power in the Senate.

    And this is interesting given all the outsourcing chatter that has been going on of late:

    The two generally sparred over trade issues and how best to revive South Carolina’s manufacturing-heavy economy. DeMint supports free trade, while Beasley is more of a protectionist.

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    Tuesday, June 22, 2004
    Sadly, Another Videotaped Murder

    By Steven Taylor @ 3:48 pm

    Slain South Korean Spoke Arabic, Was Devout Christian

    On Monday, Kim Sun-il stood gesticulating as he shouted desperately at the camera, “I don’t want to die.”

    On Wednesday, the Arabic interpreter and devout Christian who dreamed of missionary work in the Arab world knelt silently and impassively before his Muslim militant captors beheaded him.

    The scenes from videotapes aired on Arabic television station Al Jazeera were broadcast repeatedly on South Korean television, sending a chill through many people who already had reservations about the government’s plan to send troops to Iraq.

    All very tragic, and yet again underscoring the barbaric nature of this enemy. One wonders if the beheading routine will continue, or if they will have to find new and more terrible methods of execution to maintain the attention of the public/to maintain the appropriate level of fear.

    The good news in all of this is that it seems that on balance these groups have been degraded to the point that their main mode of attack is kidnapping and murder, rather than large scale attacks. I think this is a potentially significant fact, though it is no solace to the families of the victims.

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    Things I Don’t Get

    By Steven Taylor @ 11:43 am

    I simply don’t understand lining up at midnight to buy a book (and I love books): For Clinton Fans, No Line Is Too Long at the Bookstore

    Even before the clock struck midnight, Clinton fans, history buffs and those who were simply curious were lining up to get a wristband, which would guarantee them entry to Mr. Clinton’s signing appearance at 12:30 this afternoon.

    Some had secured their spot by spending the night in sleeping bags while others sat on the sidewalk in neon-colored lawn chairs reading Mr. Clinton’s memoir as if they were seaside. Books went on sale at some locations beginning at 12:01 a.m. today.

    And this observation has nothing to do with Clinton. I have the same reaction to sleeping on the street to get the next Harry Potter book at midnight (and I am looking forward to it, and won’t be displeased if it is over 900 pages)-and at least there we are talking about kids for the most part.

    I figure that if I wait a day or so, I can waltz into the bookstore and buy the book without waiting in line for hours. This strikes me as a better deal-especially since if I stay up to past midnight to buy the book I am going to be too tired to read the darn thing that night.

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    NewsFlash: Kerry Casts Vote in Senate

    By Steven Taylor @ 11:37 am

    Kerry Cancels Campaign Trip for Vote

    Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry canceled a campaign swing to New Mexico and returned to the Capitol on Tuesday to vote on a Senate bill requiring mandatory funding of health care for military veterans, a constituency he has courted since the beginning of his bid.

    Campaigning for president has made Kerry a rare figure in the Senate for most of the year. He has participated in just 14 of 132 votes since January, according to an Associated Press tally. However, Kerry said the veterans health care bill drew him back to Washington.

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    Wasting Time on Capitol Hill

    By Steven Taylor @ 11:33 am

    Robert Tagorda is correct: this is pointless and counterproductive. PLus, who watches one minute speeches anyway?

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    Revised Terrorism Numbers Released

    By Steven Taylor @ 11:29 am

    U.S. Revises Up 2003 Terrorism Deaths to 625

    The Bush administration on Tuesday will say terrorism killed 625 people in 2003, more than double the 307 deaths it cited in a faulty report used to argue it is winning the war on terrorism, a U.S. official said.

    The revisions to the April “Patterns of Global Terrorism” report have embarrassed the Bush administration and dented its argument that Washington is prevailing in the war on terrorism, a key part of President Bush’s re-election strategy.


    The U.S. official, who asked not to be named, said deaths from international terrorist attacks last year remained below 2002’s total of 725 fatalities.

    The official said the key reason for the sharp revision in the number of deaths was the U.S. government’s failure to count a series of deadly attacks in November and December last year, including bombings in Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

    He said the number of international terrorist attacks last year was revised up to 208 from the 190 the State Department initially reported. Some of the attacks involved large numbers of deaths.

    He said the number of attacks in 2002 was also revised up to 205 from the 198 originally reported.

    Hitchens on Moore

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:18 am

    I’m not certain, but it may be that Hitchens didn’t enjoy Fahrenheit 9/11:

    To describe this film as dishonest and demagogic would almost be to promote those terms to the level of respectability. To describe this film as a piece of crap would be to run the risk of a discourse that would never again rise above the excremental. To describe it as an exercise in facile crowd-pleasing would be too obvious. Fahrenheit 9/11 is a sinister exercise in moral frivolity, crudely disguised as an exercise in seriousness. It is also a spectacle of abject political cowardice masking itself as a demonstration of “dissenting” bravery.

    Hat tip: Outside the Beltway

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    And a Collective Yawn Swept Over the Nation…

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:02 am

    The Independent: Beating Kerry to Punch, Nader Picks a No. 2.

    Can it get any more electrifying than Peter Camejo?

    Of course, the fact this may lead to the Green Party’s endorsement and ballot slots for Nader is no small thing.

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    Air America Death Watch?

    By Steven Taylor @ 7:54 am

    Eric Lindholm has a round-up of the latest on Air America. It ain’t pretty.

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    This Might Affect his Election Chances…

    By Steven Taylor @ 6:42 am

    This proves (or creates) a political maxim: never get divorced during a campaign: Ex-wife of GOP Senate candidate alleged sex club forays - Jun 22, 2004.

    The whole thing is bizarre. First you have this:

    The ex-wife of Jack Ryan, the Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate in Illinois, alleged in court papers filed in 2000 that he took her to sex clubs and asked her to engage in sexual activity in front of other patrons.

    Portions of the documents, which related to a visitation dispute over the couple’s son, were released Monday, after a judge in Los Angeles ordered them unsealed.

    At a news conference Monday, Ryan reiterated the denial he made in his initial legal response to the charges by TV actress Jeri Lynn Ryan, in which he called the allegations “ridiculous” and “smut” and insisted he was “faithful and loyal to my wife throughout our marriage.”

    And then you have this:

    Jeri Ryan, who starred in the TV shows “Boston Public” and “Star Trek: Voyager,” also issued a conciliatory statement, saying that she now considers her ex-husband “a friend” and has “no doubt that he will make an excellent senator.”

    While not addressing the sex club allegations directly in her statement, she said that “there was never any physical abuse in our marriage - either to myself or to our son - nor, to my knowledge, was he ever unfaithful to me.”

    “Jack is a good man, a loving father, and he shares a strong bond with our son. I wish him all the best,” she said.

    Which is, one must admit, a strange juxtaposition.

    Apparently the docs cames out as a result of the following:

    Several Chicago media organizations had sued for release of documents relating to the Ryans’ divorce, saying the public interest outweighed their concerns about privacy and the possible effect on their now 9-year-old son. Friday, a judge in Los Angeles, where their divorce was litigated, agreed to unseal portions of more than 360 pages of documents, although large parts remained blacked out.

    Both Ryans had objected to the release of details in the documents, but they opted not to appeal the ruling.

    Quite frankly, a rather sordid situation, and one that I would think would likely damage Ryan’s electability (to put it mildly). Although it might help him with the swing vote.

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    Saddam to be Handed Over to Interim Government (Sorta)

    By Steven Taylor @ 6:35 am

    U.S. to Give ‘Legal’ Custody of Saddam to Iraqis

    The United States plans to turn over legal, but not physical, custody of Saddam Hussein and some other prisoners to the Iraqi interim government soon after it takes over on June 30, a senior official said Tuesday.

    While this will no doubt be unsatisfying to some, it strikes me as the wise course of action. I am not certain that the interim government will have the capacity to, by themselves, hold these prisoners.

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    Monday, June 21, 2004
    More Fun with Sabbath Punditry

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:12 pm

    While I am playing with Lexis/Nexis and picking on Juan Williams, this has to be one of the classic all-time exchanges in Sunday Talk History: where Juan (whom I like, but who happens to be the target of mulitple posts today for some reason) tries to make the case that Reagan, had he lived to do so, might not have voted for Bush. The following is from the June 13, 2004 edition of FNS:

    WILLIAMS: Look, if you want to talk about legitimate comparisons, let’s talk about who would be a charismatic, forceful, visionary leader. You would say Bill Clinton. You wouldn’t say George W. George W. Bush is not the great communicator in the line of Ronald Reagan.


    KRISTOL: Who would Ronald Reagan vote for in this election, if we can be simple-minded about this?

    WILLIAMS: Who would he vote for?

    KRISTOL: George W. Bush. That’s…

    WILLIAMS: I don’t think he would vote for someone who’s involved in nation building, put Americans at risk under questionable circumstances.

    KRISTOL: Reagan would support Bush. And what the Bush campaign…


    WALLACE: Juan, you’re not suggesting he would vote for John Kerry?

    WILLIAMS: I don’t think it’s clear cut.


    WILLIAMS: Bill Kristol thinks it’s a clear-cut deal because of taxes. Is that your argument?

    KRISTOL: Not taxes, foreign policy. The Bush doctrine is the son of the Reagan doctrine.

    WILLIAMS: Not at all.

    KRISTOL: And the president should say, at some point, someone should say this - the president can’t say this - someone shoud say at the Republican convention, “Win one more for the Gipper. Win one more for the Gipper.”


    And it drives Juan crazy. That’s why it’s a good idea.

    WILLIAMS: You forget that after Beirut, Ronald Reagan said, “I’m not staying here.” Ronald Reagan was not going to put Americans at risk for questionable ends. And I think that’s - so if you think foreign policy is the reason, I think you’re wrong.


    WALLACE: Folks, I want to move on. I just want to say one thing. Ronald Reagan would have voted for George W. Bush.

    A true classic.

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    You Know Your Nominee is in Trouble When…

    By Steven Taylor @ 7:48 pm

    More fun from the Sunday shows, in this case, Fox News Sunday and a round-table discussion of Kerry’s VeepQuest:

    WILLIAMS: You know, I’m just looking for some excitement. And all you guys are looking for steady, and there’s this belief that somehow Kerry has now mastered the idea that Democrats can protect the homeland, conduct the war on terror.

    But I think, you know, it’s like Madonna changes her name to Esther. I think we need somebody who comes out of the dark and reinvents this whole Democratic ticket and gives it some energy and gives it a message, so the Democrats who want to vote for Kerry, not just because dislike Bush but because they want Kerry, have a reason.

    WALLACE: Juan, do you really think a vice presidential candidate that can do that?

    KRISTOL: Kerry should change his name to Esther.

    WILLIAMS: To Esther? You like that?

    KRISTOL: I think that’s the way to go, yes.

    WILLIAMS: No, I think the vice presidential candidate can’t do everything. I’m not suggesting that. But they can bring some energy to this ticket, which is why John Edwards has reemerged.

    For the longest time, people were talking about Wesley Clark. Now there’s this dark-horse effort about Joe Biden. But I think whoever it is has got to bring energy to the ticket. That’s what’s lacking.

    This struck me as a remarkable commentary on Kerry’s candidacy. When one thinks that a ticket needs “reinventing"-and the convention hasn’t even taken place yet-that is hardly a stirring endorsement of one’s party’s nominee.

    Indeed, the last time I recall partisans citing a need for energy and excitement like this was when Bob Dole was looking for a running mate.

    I hate to tell Juan Williams, but it won’t matter who Kerry picks as his running mate-there isn’t going to be more than a brief charge of excitement, and then the voters will return their focus to the non-energetic, boring head of the ticket. That’s the way it works.

    (and ya gotta luv the Madonna/Esther ref from Kristol).

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    • Arguing with signposts… linked with "jazzing up" your candidate
    Cancel the Invasion!

    By Steven Taylor @ 7:41 pm

    Castro Warns Bush Against Launching Attack

    Tens of thousands of Cubans rallied Monday, as Fidel Castro warned President Bush against launching a military attack on Cuba, saying it would provoke a mass exodus and an all-out ground war.

    Washington has repeatedly denied it is planning any military action against Havana.

    But an increased tightening of sanctions against the island, along with the Bush administration’s pre-emptive strike on Iraq, has convinced the Cuban leadership that a military attack is not impossible.

    More accurately the Cuban leadership has seen a wonderful propaganda opportunity and seized it. There is no chance that the US is going to invade Cuban. I am fairly certain that the Bay of Pigs pretty much cured us of any such escapades.

    While I am of the opinion that lifting sanctions would actually hasten Castro’s political demise, and be in the best interest of the United States, there is little doubt the policy of “Waiting on Fidel (to Expire)” is the play that is running in the US State Department (and elsewhere in the US government).

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    • Arguing with signposts… linked with Saber rattling on the island
    More on Clinton Logic

    By Steven Taylor @ 4:58 pm

    This morning I noted that President Clinton has some, shall we say, creative ways of looking at the universe. Not only does he think that he replaced the Soviet Union in the minds of conservatives as the focus of evil in the modern world, he at least partially blames Ken Starr for his dalliance with Monica. I noted that not only did Joe Klein of Time make that assertion, but so too did someone on This Week. The transcript is now available via Lexis/Nexis and the comments came from Michael Duffy, also from Time who also interview Clinton about his book. While the Klein quote that I posted from MTP was vague, Duffy’s is quite direct:

    And I asked him. I said, “Are you really saying - you know, that Starr took you to this?” He said, “Yeah, I’ve had such a long life of keeping secrets and living parallel lives with a father who had been abusive and a stepfather who had been abusive,” he said, “that I just fell into my old ways. And I basically began living two parallel lives. I was under a lot of stress by the time, you know, Monica Lewinsky walked into my office during the government shutdown.” So, so he actually says Starr’s partly to blame.

    Amazing stuff, to be sure. And what a load of responsibility-dodging psychobabble. Mr. Starr was mean to him, and he had a bad childhood, so he couldn’t really help himself. Yeesh.

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    • The Galvin Opinion linked with HEY BILL, WHICH COUCH WAS IT?
    Inside Help for al Qaeda in Saudi Arabia

    By Steven Taylor @ 4:23 pm

    Not a surprise, I’m afraid: Al-Qaida: Saudis Aided American Abduction

    The al-Qaida group responsible for abducting and killing an American engineer says it was aided by sympathizers in the Saudi security forces, a claim that was denied by Saudi authorities.


    It said Saudi security forces provided uniforms and police cars to militants who then set up a fake checkpoint to kidnap Paul M. Johnson Jr. The militants say they posed as police to stop Johnson’s car, anesthetized him and carried him to another car.

    I would note, however, that this does not help the argument that the Saudis killed al-Moqrin after he killed Johnson because of the collaboration by som security forces with al Qaeda. Indeed, it is clear that not all the security forces are traitors, otherwise I am guessing that al-Moqrin would still be alive.

    Still, there is little doubt that there are serious, serious problems within the Kingdom.

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    There and Back Again: SpaceShipOne

    By Steven Taylor @ 11:41 am

    Cool: Private Rocket Plane Makes Historic Space Flight

    The privately funded rocket plane SpaceShipOne flew to outer space and into history books on Monday as the world’s first commercial manned space flight.

    The distinctive white rocket plane was released from a larger plane called the White Knight and ignited its rocket engine to enter space 62 miles above the earth.

    Only one of two things will fully propel us into space: security needs or the market. Score one for the market, which is certainly my preferred route.

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    By Steven Taylor @ 10:19 am

    From LAT: Where Kerry Takes a Break, Celebrity Is Commonplace

    On Saturday at dusk, Kerry’s campaign summoned the news media to a street corner to watch him ride by on his bike. Nearly an hour later, aides reported the ride had been canceled because of a flat tire.

    The concept of summoning the media to watch the Senator bike by is hilarious.

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    • Mark the Pundit linked with Dull as Dirt
    Bradbury v. Moore

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:15 am

    Moore Film Title Angers Author Bradbury

    Ray Bradbury is demanding an apology from filmmaker Michael Moore for lifting the title from his classic science-fiction novel “Fahrenheit 451″ without permission and wants the new documentary “Fahrenheit 9/11″ to be renamed.

    “He didn’t ask my permission,” Bradbury, 83, told The Associated Press on Friday. “That’s not his novel, that’s not his title, so he shouldn’t have done it.”

    The 1953 novel, widely considered Bradbury’s masterpiece, portrays an ugly futuristic society in which firemen burn homes and libraries in order to destroy the books inside and keep people from thinking independently.

    “Fahrenheit 451″ takes its title from the temperature at which books burn. Moore has called “Fahrenheit 9/11″ the “temperature at which freedom burns.”


    Bradbury, who hadn’t seen the movie, said he called Moore’s company six months ago to protest and was promised Moore would call back.

    He finally got that call last Saturday, Bradbury said, adding Moore told him he was “embarrassed.”

    “He suddenly realized he’s let too much time go by,” the author said by phone from his home in Los Angeles’ Cheviot Hills section.

    Joanne Doroshow, a spokeswoman for “Fahrenheit 9/11,” said the film’s makers have “the utmost respect for Ray Bradbury.”

    “Mr. Bradbury’s work has been an inspiration to all of us involved in this film, but when you watch this film you will see the fact that the title reflects the facts that the movie explores, the very real life events before, around and after 9-11,” she said.

    Bradbury, who is a registered political independent, said he would rather avoid litigation and is “hoping to settle this as two gentlemen, if he’ll shake hands with me and give me back my book and title.”

    I have a great deal of respect for Ray Bradbury, and very little for Moore (to put it mildly), however, I don’t think Bradbury has a legal or artistic leg to stand on here.

    Really, in terms of trademark protection, there is no substantial chance that someone would confuse the Moore movie for the Bradbury novel, and further it seems to me to be a legitimate artistic appropriation of a phrase and concept.

    And really, I don’t like Mr. Bradbury’s book and title have been taken away. I do, however, understand why he might be irked.

    Hat tip: Max Jacobs at Common Sense and Wonder.

    UPDATE: James Joyner has the same position (although he employs the word “loathesome” in his post-I won’t spoil the surprise and same at whom the word is directed).

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    Classic Clinton

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:20 am

    From yesterday’s Meet the Press, come two classic reminders of the psyche and self-image of Bill Clinton.

    First, he claims that he became the replacement in the minds of conservatives for the Soviet Union in terms of public enemy number one:

    MR. RUSSERT: Let me show you, Katty, as well this clip of Bill Clinton on Wednesday night after watching a movie entitled “The Hunting of the President,” produced by his friend, Harry Thomason. This was what Bill Clinton had to say.

    (Videotape, June 16, 2004):

    MR. CLINTON: When the Berlin Wall fell, the perpetual right in America, which always needs an enemy, didn’t have an enemy anymore. So I had to serve as the next best thing.

    (End videotape)

    MR. RUSSERT: He believes he was the replacement of the Cold War…

    MS. KAY: For the Cold War.

    MR. RUSSERT: …in terms of American conservatives.

    And then it appears that it was Ken Starr’s fault that he fooled around with Monica Lewinsky:

    MR. KLEIN:[…] He now says that he led parallel lives, going back to his childhood when he had to hide his anger at his stepfather and be sunny and optimistic up front. He, in effect, says that the reason why he acted stupidly and immorally with Monica Lewinsky was that he was so angry at Ken Starr.

    Note: Klein has read the book and has interviewed Clinton about it. Further, he is no conservative, and largely acted as an apologist for Clinton during the interview.

    Klein’s point was unclear to me at the time I saw this, and the above-quote makes it unclear as well. However, on This Week (for which the transcript is not yet available), one of the panelist noted that in the book Clinton claims that his anger and stress over Starr’s probe into Whitewater created the condition in which he fell into old patterns, as described by Klein above, and that this led him to make the mistake of the Lewinsky affair. Quite blatantly the ABC News panelist said that in the book Clinton basically blames Starr for Lewinsky.

    Ah, the remarkable reasoning of Bill Clinton.

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    Twisted Logic: A Subject Continued

    By Steven Taylor @ 7:41 am

    Juan Williams was on NPR this morning with the same reasoning. I will give him this much, one way in which is puts the issues is as follows: if the American people thought that one of the main reason we went to war in Iraq was because Saddam helped al Qaeda in the attack, then the 911 Commission’s “finding” could well be damaging to the President politically. That part of his reasoning is sound. However, he also persists is speaking about the damage to the President’s argument as if the President did argue that a main reason for the war was 911. It is fair to speak about how perceptions affect politics, it is another to grasp the 911 Commission’s statements as if they did in fact vitiate statements the President made when Williams knows full well that those statements were not made.

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    Twisted Logic

    By Steven Taylor @ 6:34 am

    I heard several critics of the administration (one was Juan Williams, though there were others) use this logic yesterday:

    1) Public opinion polls show that a vast majority of Americans thought that Saddam had ties to the 911 attacks,

    2) The Bush administration did explicitly say there were no Sadam/911 ties, but they did say that there were al Qaeda-Saddam ties,

    3) Therefore, the Bush administration might as well have said that Saddam was responsible for 911, and despite saying that he wasn’t, they propagated the idea he was. As a result, the 911 Commission preliminary report that says that there was no Saddam/911 ties utterly repudiates the administration and basically nullifies all utterances about Saddam and al Qaeda


    Not only is the logic twisted, to listen to many who employ it they conflate Saddam/911 ties with Saddam/al Qaeda ties, which is simply not the same thing. Further, anyone paying attention knew that we weren’t going to war with Saddam to punish him for his role in 911.

    Indeed, in listening to Richard Ben-Veniste and John Lehman, both from the 911 Commission on MTP yesterday, it is clear that the commission is not as unified as the preliminary report makes it sound on the general question of al Qaeda and Iraq. A story in today’s NYT provides a similar, if briefer, impression. As my wife noted yesterday while watching the interview, “Ok, so we are going to get two reports from the commission.”

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    • the evangelical outpost linked with Links, Logic, and Leadership: Further Thoughts on the Iraq/Al Queda Connection
    • Outside the Beltway linked with Beltway Traffic Jam
    Sunday, June 20, 2004
    Another One Bites the Dust

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:08 pm

    James Joyner reports that Algeria’s al Qaeda leader has been killed.

    Unfortunately this appears to be the only way to deal with this group.

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    Freaky Database Fun

    By Steven Taylor @ 4:15 pm

    I made a purchase today at Best Buy-a relatively new store here (it’s less than a year old) . It was my first purchase and I had to go through the “what’s your phone number please” routine. The wild thing is that giving the clerk my current phone number resulted in their database locating my home address from almost 6 years ago-which was the address I was at the last time I made a Best Buy purchase back when we lived outside of Austin, TX. What’s more, that was two Alabama-based phone numbers ago.


    This is the kind of stuff that gives Bill Safire hives (he is notoriously concnered about the way technology is eroding our privacy) and convinces the Tinfoil Hat Brigade that the Black Helicopter People are indeed watching their every move.

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    And I Had Such High Expectations

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:01 am

    Somehow I don’t think that I will buying this book anytime soon-I have a stack of Trek novels to read, not to mention the biographies of Hamilton and Franklin waiting for me.

    Still, is it such a shock to note the following about Mr. Clinton’s autobiography (My Life):

    Mr. Clinton’s much awaited new autobiography “My Life” more closely resembles the Atlanta speech, which was so long-winded and tedious that the crowd cheered when he finally reached the words “In closing . . .”

    The book, which weighs in at more than 950 pages, is sloppy, self-indulgent and often eye-crossingly dull-the sound of one man prattling away, not for the reader, but for himself and some distant recording angel of history.

    In many ways, the book is a mirror of Mr. Clinton’s presidency: lack of discipline leading to squandered opportunities; high expectations, undermined by self-indulgence and scattered concentration. This memoir underscores many strengths of Mr. Clinton’s eight years in the White House and his understanding that he was governing during a transitional and highly polarized period. But the very lack of focus and order that mars these pages also prevented him from summoning his energies in a sustained manner to bring his insights about the growing terror threat and an Israeli-Palestinian settlement to fruition.

    The words of some righty blogger? No, it is from the NYT’s review of the book.

    Indeed, it continues:

    In fact, “My Life” reads like a messy pastiche of everything that Mr. Clinton ever remembered and wanted to set down in print; he even describes the time he got up at 4 a.m. to watch the inaugural ceremonies for Nigeria’s new president on TV. There are endless litanies of meals eaten, speeches delivered, voters greeted and turkeys pardoned. There are some fascinating sections about Mr. Clinton’s efforts to negotiate a Middle East peace agreement (at one point, he suggests that Yasir Arafat seemed confused, not fully in command of the facts and possibly no longer at the top of his game), but there are also tedious descriptions of long-ago political debates in Arkansas over utility regulation and car license fees . There are some revealing complaints about missteps at the FBI under Louis Freeh’s watch , but there are also dozens of pointless digressions about matters like zombies in Haiti and ruins in Pompeii.

    And setting aside any partisanship or sarcasm, this doesn’t surprise me at all:

    it seems, hurriedly written and even more hurriedly edited.

    As someone whose profession involves writing, I figured that a 900+ page books written in such a relatively short span of time by someone not writing full time and who wasn’t a writer by trade would almost certainly be poorly written and have a rushed feel to it. Mr. Clinton is quite intelligent, but he isn’t a professional writer and as smart as he may be, discipline is not a hallmark of his existence. My guess is that “writing” the book consisted of him speaking into a tape recorder and having those pieces transcribed, re-written and woven together. As such, that the book may not be a compelling read is no surprise.

    I will state that the reviewer doesn’t write like a fan of the President, and indeed has the feel of someone who was a critic of the administration.

    I would also note that I am not a fan of autobiographies, especially ones written with the obvious intent of “setting the record straight” or for enhancing one’s image-and this position has nothing to do with politics. I simply figure anyone who writes their memoirs during a period of their life in which they have every intention of remaining in public life doesn’t have the sufficient motivation to be as transparent as they would need to be to write a worthwhile book.

    Hat tip: Sean Hackbarth.

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    My Campaign Finance Rant of the Day

    By Steven Taylor @ 7:37 am

    Staggering Sum-Raising

    The amounts are eye-popping - and it is only June. President Bush has raised at least $218 million for his reelection campaign and has spent $152 million, more than half of it on television ads. If contributions keep coming in at the current pace, Bush’s total could reach $250 million by the time of the GOP convention at the end of August.

    No, what’s “eye-popping” is this number: $2,473,000,000,000-the proposed amount of the FY 2005 federal budget. It is because the President has substantial influence over the spending of those funds that so much money is raised and spent to affect who wins the presidency.

    This, in addition to that whole Commander-in-Chief thing, the foreign policy thing, the ability to affect how the laws and constitution are interpreted thing because of that whole appointment power thing, and so forth.

    Why it is shocking or “eye-popping” that a great number of persons have given money to help their side win is beyond me.

    As the article notes, we aren’t talking abut Daddy Warbucks breaking open the checkbook:

    Bush received donations in May from 224,380 people, who gave an average of $60, the campaign said.

    The piece doesn’t give the Kerry figures, but they are likely similar.

    I continue to be baffle, if not a bit annoyed, by this ongoing hand-wringing over the money in politics.

    Heck, the payroll for the New York Yankees this year is $183,335,513, according to ESPN. Surely selecting the next president is more important than baseball (perhaps not more important than football, of course, but easily more important than baseball).

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    Saturday, June 19, 2004
    Thanks for the Links

    By Steven Taylor @ 2:12 pm

    A long overdue thanks to following for linking to PolIBlog. Each has been added to my recipri-list at the left:

  • Boots and Sabers
  • A Solo Dialogue
  • Half-Bakered
  • Right Side of the Rainbow
  • Practical Penumbra
  • Right Wingin-It, The Pudgy Pundit
  • The Review
  • Collected Thoughts
  • Texas Native
  • Down to the Piraeus
  • No Pundit Intended
  • Power Politics

    The following non-Blog has also been added:

  • Welcome to World O’ Blogs

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    Missile Strike at Zarqawi

    By Steven Taylor @ 11:45 am

    Missile Strike Targeting Zarqawi Kills 16

    A U.S. military plane fired missiles Saturday into a residential neighborhood in Fallujah, killing at least 16 people and leveling houses there, police and residents said. A U.S. official said the target was a hideout of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi’s terror network.

    It was the first significant U.S. military action in the city since Marines ended a bloody three-week siege against insurgents. Since the U.S. forces left, residents have said that extremist influence in the Sunni Muslim city, west of Baghdad, has only grown.

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    Wowie: The Zenmeister Quits, Shaq Wants a Trade, Kobe Opts Out and Other Tales from the Lakers

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:26 am

    As they say, when the going gets tough, the tough get going (and they all appear to be going): Jackson Quits Lakers; Shaq Wants Trade

    Phil Jackson, one of the most successful coaches in NBA history, won’t return in that capacity with the Lakers next season, the team said Friday.

    As that was being announced, a team source told the AP on condition of anonymity that Shaquille O’Neal, a staunch supporter of Jackson, had requested a trade.

    And as expected, Kobe Bryant became an unrestricted free agent, opting out of his contract.


    Karl Malone has already opted out of his contract, although he hopes to play for the Lakers if healthy. Gary Payton and Derek Fisher could follow Bryant and Malone and opt out of their deals, although it’s believed Payton will exercise his $5.4 million option now that Jackson is gone.

    This has got to be one of the most rapid voluntary dismantlements of a team in pro sports history.

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    Caption Contest Winners

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:00 am

    I meant to do this earlier in the week, but time flies and all that.

    The photo and the winners are in the extended entry.

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    The Native Language of Children

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:54 am


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    That Strikes Me as a Good Idea

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:51 am

    Gorilla’s Leap May Lead to Zoo Redesigns

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    Pictures of al-Moqrin

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:50 am

    Saudis: Hostage’s Slayers Die in Shootout

    Saudi TV broadcast pictures Saturday of four bloodied bodies that authorities identified as the reputed leader of al-Qaida in the kingdom and three other militants killed in a gunbattle after dumping the mutilated body of an American hostage.

    The photo of the body (here) looks like the mug shots they were showing on the news last night.

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    McCain to Kerry: “No-and I Really Mean it!”

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:46 am

    Bush Gets a Boost from Maverick McCain

    McCain, a bitter Bush rival during the 2000 Republican presidential primaries, provided a boost to the president’s re-election campaign with an enthusiastic endorsement of his leadership and of the war in Iraq.

    “He deserves not only our support but our admiration,” the maverick Republican senator from Arizona, a strong supporter of the Iraq war, said of Bush’s response to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

    “He has led this country with moral clarity,” McCain said, telling thousands of troops packed into a hangar at Fort Lewis, Washington, that the war in Iraq was “a fight between right and wrong, good and evil. It is no more ambiguous than that.”

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    Seven Digits

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:42 am

    Congrats to James at Outside the Beltway for capping the 1,000,000 mark as measured by SiteMeter.

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    More on Paul Johnson and al-Moqrin

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:07 am

    From the NYT: Acting on Threat, Saudi Militant Group Kills Captive American

    First off, indeed:

    “The murder of Paul shows the evil nature of the enemy we face,” President Bush said. “There’s no justification whatsoever for his murder, and yet they killed him in cold blood. And it should remind us that we must pursue these people, and bring them to justice before they hurt other Americans.”

    And hopefully so:

    Saudi Arabia’s security forces arrested 10 supporters of Mr. Muqrin’s, Al Arabiya television reported on Saturday, according to Reuters. Al Arabiya, quoting security sources, said the arrests took place on Friday night in Riyadh. It said the 10 people seized were believed to be part of the same cell as Mr. Muqrin.

    And one would like to think that this is true, however I find this to be a dubous proposition:

    Mr. Muqrin’s death would remove the source of much of the recent bloodshed, with no obvious replacement. “Al-Muqrin is the last well-known leader of Al Qaeda in Saudi Arabia,” said Mushairy al-Zaidy, a journalist and specialist in extremist groups, speaking on Al Arabiya. He noted that two other leaders had been killed in the past three months, leaving Mr. Muqrin the most prominent of the 18 wanted terrorists still at large. “There is no one as important to replace him,” he said.

    I suppose it depends on what “well-known” means and how significant notoriety is. Hopefully there isn’t anyone to replace him, but one fears that replacements are readily available. Still, it does mark progress.

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    Saudi Conspiracy Theories

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:55 am

    Last night I heard at least two different individuals on two different news networks question why it was that the Saudis could kill al-Moqrin after Johnson was killed, but not before. The implication was clear, and in at least of the cases quite explicit: the Saudis simply didn’t care about saving Johnson, even though they probably could have,

    Now, such speculation strikes me as highly problematic for at least two reasons. First, within hours of the event there was hardly sufficient information to lead to such a conclusion. Second, it strikes me that the Saudis had every incentive to stop the Johnson killing, as if the terrorists are successful in scaring off US workers from the oil industry, the the Saudi economy will suffer. As much as we need Saudi oil, they need as well to help get the oil out of the ground, among other things.

    It seems that with the scant information available, that the logical conclusion is that something about the disposal of the body or the delivery of the video tipped off the Saudi security forces leading to al-Moqrin’s whereabouts and his subsequent death.

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    • Signifying Nothing linked with In the Garden of Allah

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:28 am

    Notes Jim Geraghty at The Corner

    The Left: The war on Iraq is a disaster! The world hates us! You did it unilaterally! You should have gotten Russia on board. You should have gotten Putin to support a U.N. resolution. The support of Russia would show this isn’t just America being imperialist, but the whole unified world coming together to face Saddam.

    The Right: Well, Putin says Saddam was going to attack us with terrorists.

    The Left: Well, who the hell trusts Putin and the Russians?

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    Friday, June 18, 2004
    US Official Confirms that al-Moqrin is Dead

    By Steven Taylor @ 5:25 pm

    al-Qaida Leader Killed in Saudi Raid

    A U.S. official confirmed that al-Moqrin has been killed. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the information.

    To establish identities, one Saudi official said forensic tests would be conducted on three bodies of militants killed in a shootout in a downtown neighborhood shortly after the discovery of Paul M. Johnson Jr.’s body.

    The killing of Abdulaziz al-Moqrin, 31, would be a coup for the Saudi goverment, which has been under intense pressure to halt a wave of attacks against Westerners in the kingdom.

    Sadly, too late to save Paul Johnson, but good news nonetheless. It is also good, from a general War on Terror perspective, that the Saudis are being quite proactive in fighting al Qaeda.

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    May it Be So

    By Steven Taylor @ 4:55 pm

    Unconfirmed Reports Say Saudi Qaeda Leader Killed -TV

    Al Arabiya television said it had unconfirmed reports that the top al Qaeda leader in Saudi Arabia, Abdulaziz al-Muqrin, was killed Friday.

    The television, which is majority owned by Saudis, did not give any details. Muqrin’s group had earlier beheaded American engineer Paul Johnson in Riyadh. Shortly afterwards, Saudi forces killed three militants in a shootout in the capital.

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    Insults Sufficiently Punished (at Least for Now)

    By Steven Taylor @ 4:32 pm

    Robert Prather of Insults Unpunished is going into semi-retirement from blogging. He says it might or might not permanent.

    Robert’s site is one that I frequently check, and I have appreciated his links to me. I would like to wish him good luck.

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    • QandO linked with Insults Unpunished
    Saudis Attack al Qaeda

    By Steven Taylor @ 2:58 pm

    Reuters reports:

    Saudi security forces killed three suspected militants in the Saudi capital Riyadh Friday, Saudi-owned Al Arabiya television said.

    It said the three were killed in the al-Malazz district but gave no further details. The area has been the scene of a massive security search after al Qaeda militants shot dead a U.S. contractor there last week.

    The television did not say whether the militants were killed during a search for the body of U.S. hostage Paul Johnson, who al Qaeda said it beheaded earlier Friday.

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    Line of the Day

    By Steven Taylor @ 2:37 pm

    President Bush Salutes Soldiers in Fort Lewis, Washington:

    I also am mindful of this: When the President of the United States speaks, he must mean what he says.

    I mean what I said, and the Taliban found that out, thanks to the United States military and our friends.

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    More on the Paul Johnson Beheading

    By Steven Taylor @ 1:47 pm

    Reuters now has the details

    Al Qaeda militants beheaded an American engineer they had held hostage since last week after the Saudi government failed to meet its demands to release jailed militants, an Islamist Web site said Friday.

    “As we promised the mujahideen, we have beheaded the American hostage Paul Marshall after the deadline that the mujahideen gave to the tyrannical Saudi government passed,” a statement signed by the Organization of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula said on al Islah Web site.

    The Web site showed three pictures of what appeared to be Paul Marshall Johnson’s severed head. One showed the bloodied head propped up on the back of a body in an orange uniform with a knife on the face.

    A second picture showed a hand lifting up the head and a third image showed the body and the severed head from a different angle.

    “This act of revenge is to heal the hearts of believers in Palestine, Afghanistan, Iraq and the Arabian Peninsula,” the statement said.

    James Joyner has some additional info as well.

    This, along with the Nick Berg beheading, is a quintessential example of true terrorism: the use of kidnapping and execution via beheading amount to nothing more than an attempt to induce sufficient fear in the population that it will induce calls for policy change in the Middle East and, more specifically, to dissuade westerners from working in the Middle East. The events themselves, though horrific and utter tragedies for the families, aren�t by any means enough to affect the oil industry or the rebuilding in Iraq.

    One thing is for sure: these lunatics are willing to damage the economies of their homelands (or, more broadly, the lives of Arabs and muslims) to damage the US. How much better of would �their people� be if similar amounts of energy was put into making the Middle East a better place to live for all.

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    • The Galvin Opinion linked with THESE PEOPLE HAVE NO MERCY
    • Signifying Nothing linked with Tit for tat
    • Drink this… linked with Too much naiveté on this...
    • Backcountry Conservative linked with Another Beheading Video
    From Russia with Ambivalence

    By Steven Taylor @ 12:53 pm

    Daniel W. Drezner notes something odd in the report that Russia allegedly had evidence that Iraq was planning terrorist attacks on the US. Notes Prof. Drezner:

    CNN International reports


    Putin said the information did not change his country’s opposition to the war. (emphasis added)

    I wouldn’t want to speculate on the quality of Russian intelligence, but that last sentence provokes a question to President Putin - why didn’t the information change your mind about the war? You have intel saying that one sovereign state is planning to commit acts of aggression against another sovereign state in violation of the laws of war.

    If that’s not a justification for preventive action, what is?


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    Another Beheading by al Qaeda?

    By Steven Taylor @ 12:36 pm

    MSNBC and CNN in breaking news banners are reporting that al Qaeda has beheaded hostage Paul Johnson.

    The source of the story is al Arabiya.

    UPDATE: Barry Ritholtz, via e-mail, notes that the same story has hit the Dow Jones newswire

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    • Backcountry Conservative linked with Another Beheading?
    • Rooftop Report linked with Nick Berg Beheading Video
    • Rooftop Report linked with Another Beheading by the religious crusaders
    • Rooftop Report linked with Paul Johnson Video
    Lofty Goals

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:59 am

    Kristopher of The World Around You notes that the Alabama Democratic Party is seeking to lose by not as much this year in the Presidential election. Certainly an investment well-made.

    My guess is that between not being the incumbent Vice President, being from Massachusetts (Gore was at least ostensibly from the South), and the fact that the South tends to be quite pro-military, that Kerry is likely to do worse in Alabama than Gore did in 2000, increased effort in the state or not.

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    More on Saddam, al Qaeda and the 911 Commission Report

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:03 am

    The bottom line about this entire discussion is that the way in which one views the war is going to affect the way one views this report. This fact is going to be radically amplified if one’s goal is to bolster one’s “side” (i.e., pro-Bush or anti-Bush). Indeed, the “Spy v. Spy” version of the argument, which I am trying to avoid (but it is quite easy to get sucked into) can rapidly boil down to an argument not about facts, or even reasonable inference, but about who said what-as in: “oh yeah? Well, Bush said…".

    Now, I am not saying that what the President has said isn’t relevant-it is, especially if the goal is to determine his understanding of the situation,or his honesty or in other issue directly relevant to Bush. However, what Bush has or has not said is not directly relevant to 1) what the 911 Commission report actual says, 2) what the reality of Saddam regime-al Qaeda connections may have been, or 3) the press spin on this issue.

    Briefly, I will say that in regards to #1, there are certainly statements made by the Bush administration that no doubt exaggerated the connection-which I think was a result of a combination of rhetoric, politics and actual belief. In regards to #3 it is pretty clear that many in the press, who appear to be anti-war, anti-Bush, or both, lead rather vigorously on the issue of the Commission’s statement that there was no connection between Saddam and al Qaeda in regards to 911. As I noted the other day, this was heralded as no connection whatsoever, but that isn’t what the report says. Indeed, in paying attention to the reporting, the cycle went like this: first the report was that there was no connection between Saddam and al Qaeda, then it was simply reiterating what was already known for anyone paying attention, that there is no evidence that Saddam helped with 911, and then ended up with the more nuanced (if I may use the term) position that combined the lack of 911 connection with the fact there was some evidence of numerous communications between Saddam and al Qaeda. Even NPR yesterday morning admitted that there were some “sketchy” connection between the two. Now, that is hardly a ringing endorsement, but when the banner headlines had been “NO CONNECTIONS” any admission of contact was something of a concession that really we remain at the status quo ante: we know that there were some contacts between the regime and al Qaeda, but we disagree on what that might mean.

    Speaking for myself (and I note that because if you want to argue with me, argue with me-don’t argue as if I a spokeman for the administration who is responsible for everything ever said by the admin-it isn’t that I don’t want to hear it, or that it is unimportant-it is just on this topic, and practically all others, I am tired of comments that amount to nothing more than acting like I am the White House Press Secretary (no, lest I be misunderstood, I am not griping at you, Bret-but others))…anyway, speaking for myself I find it highly plausible that in a situation in which al Qaeda, over a decade, had been getting bolder and bolder in successfully attacking the United States, with 911 being the crescendo. To me, I find it highly plausible that in thaht context that bin Laden would be willing to work with a secular regime like Saddam’s if it furthered his goals of striking at the West. Further, Saddam, who was suffering under no-fly zones and sanctions, might agree to such an alliance if conditions were ripe. That it had no happened yet does not mean that it could not, or would not. As such, on going communication between the regime and al Qaeda suggests that such an outcome was possible. It is made further possible by the fact that there is clear evidence that Saddam would support terrorism if it served his purposes.

    Quite frankly,the 911 Commission report itself in fact can be seen to bolster this position. From page 5 of the report (and I have included the entire paragraph, which includes info that both sides could use in their argument-i.e., no cherry-picking (indeed, this paragraph contains all the document’s references to Iraq):

    Bin Laden also explored possible cooperation with Iraq during his time in Sudan, despite
    his opposition to Hussein’s secular regime. Bin Laden had in fact at one time sponsored
    anti-Saddam Islamists in Iraqi Kurdistan. The Sudanese, to protect their own ties with
    Iraq, reportedly persuaded Bin Laden to cease this support and arranged for contacts
    between Iraq and al Qaeda. A senior Iraqi intelligence officer reportedly made three
    visits to Sudan, finally meeting Bin Laden in 1994. Bin Laden is said to have requested
    space to establish training camps, as well as assistance in procuring weapons, but Iraq
    apparently never responded. There have been reports that contacts between Iraq and al
    Qaeda also occurred after Bin Laden had returned to Afghanistan, but they do not appear
    to have resulted in a collaborative relationship. Two senior Bin Laden associates have
    adamantly denied that any ties existed between al Qaeda and Iraq. We have no credible
    evidence that Iraq and al Qaeda cooperated on attacks against the United States.

    For one thing, this all demonstrates that bin Laden was indeed willing to consider working with Saddam. And it also shows that Saddam was at least willing to listen. A gigantic smoking gun? No. Setting the stage for potential collaboration if circumstances allowed? Not an unreasonable conclusion. Enough in and of itself to go to war? No. A piece of a puzzle that might have led to weight to a case for war? Yes. Does the the 911 Commission’s conclusion emphatically destroy the claim that there have been contacts between the two sides that could have resulted in collaboration. Absolutely not.

    Now granted, if you are against the war, or view the War on Terror as a more law enforcement problem, you remain unconvinced. That is a legitimate position. However, for either side to act as if this is a slam-dunk (to borrow a phrase) that proves their position, then I would argue that this is a partisan response to the material, and not a reasonable one.

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    More OTB@TCS

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:35 am

    James Joyner has a new TCS: Tech Central Station column on the Saddam-al Qaeda connection debate.

    It must be good, because he cites me!

    And, more importantly, it does a good job of placing the issue of Saddam and Islamic terrorism in the proper context.

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    • Hellblazer linked with James Joyner, Moonbat Enabler
    Thursday, June 17, 2004
    On Stopping those Planes

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:42 pm

    Air Defenses ‘Unprepared’ for 9/11 - Report

    U.S. fighter jets had virtually no chance to shoot down or intercept four hijacked planes on Sept. 11, 2001, because of confusion and poor communication among “unprepared” officials responsible for America’s air defenses, a special commission said on Thursday.

    1. This strikes me as a rather obvious fact that I would say I pretty much figured out on my own either on 9/11 itself, or certainly by 9/12.

    2) This shouldn’t be a surprise. While it is reasonable to state that after the first two aircraft had hit the WTC that an order would have gone out to shoot down other aircraft, BUT the fact of the matter is the surprise nature of the attack and the mindbending idea of shooting down civilian aircraft full of US citizens would have certainly created sufficient confusion that in the amount of time in question it strikes me as almost impossible to expect that the outcome would have been any different.

    I say this not to defend anyone or to support the administration. I just think to act all surprised and dramatic that it wasn’t automatic and easy for military jets to take out airliners in a narrow window of time in which a paradigm shift took place on what hijackers do with airplanes is just a bit over the top.

    I have a great deal of faith in the US military and the Air Force in particular, but I don’t expect miracles, which is what it would’ve taken to have gotten to the Pentagon jet in time (which is essentially what we are talking about-as it was impossible to stop the WTC jets and the Pennsylvania jet was taken out by the passengers).

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    • Mark the Pundit linked with To Shoor or not to Shoot(Down)
    Kerry’s Foreign Policy Proposals

    By Steven Taylor @ 1:44 pm

    James Joyner examines Kerry’s Foreign Policy proposals, which have been criticized (by myself as well as others, as vague and nonsubstantive). James summarizes Kerry’s proposals quite succinctly with this line:

    it’s basically the current plan with a magic wand making things all better.

    That pretty much sums up most of Kerry’s proposals.

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    Understatement of the Day (Plus More Tales of Campaign Finance Reform)

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:38 am

    In a WaPo piece we find the following gem:

    Together, the Kerry and Bush campaigns are on track to raise a total of more than $400 million by the end of the summer in a demonstration that the 2002 McCain-Feingold campaign finance law has not constrained presidential spending.

    No joke-and anyone who thought it would wasn’t paying attention. Indeed, there is nothing in the law that was likely to affect the amount that candidates raised-indeed, by upping the hard money limit from individuals to $2000 (from $1000-which the article notes), McCain-Feingold would have been projected to have moderately affected the amount raised by candidates upward a tad.

    However, as Bush’s 2000 campaign demonstrated (which was pre-McC-G)-the system doesn’t necessarily work as advertised.

    Indeed, the more I think about it, the more telling the above-quoted paragraph is: people don’t really understand the campaign finance rules (not even Washington-based reporters on politics). Rather, they just assume that “reform” means that less money will be collected and spent. However, the history of “reform” does not demonstrate such an outcome.

    However, the one area that Mc-G was supposed to curtail was “soft money"-yet:

    In fact, when money raised by the parties, the two presidential candidates and by “soft money” committees known as “527s” is added, the total on the Republican side is $574 million and on the Democratic side $421 million, a $153 million GOP advantage.

    The technical political science reponse to the failure of the legislation is: oops!

    The main point of the article, as the headline notes ("Kerry Breaks Bush Record For Pace of Fundraising “) is to note the following:

    The disclosure shows that Kerry led Bush in fundraising from March through May almost 2 to 1: $100.4 million to Bush’s $55.2 million. In May alone, Kerry raised $26 million compared with $13.2 million by Bush, according to calculations by CNN that Bush officials described as accurate.

    However, as amazing as that is, the bottom line is still that Bush has far more money than Kerry, even after that impressive run:

    Bush has outraised Kerry by an estimated $214 million to $145 million, according to FEC records and data released by the Kerry campaign.

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    Six Apart Modifies MT 3.0 License

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:18 am

    For those following the MT 3.0 saga, this may be of interest.

    I am not sure, however, that it will make much difference-especially given that no changes were made to the free version.

    I remain unsure as to whether I am going to just stick with the current version of MT or migrate to ExpressEngine or WordPress.

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    • Arguing with signposts… linked with MT pricing update
    • Outside the Beltway linked with Movable Type $3.0 Price Change
    McCain Emphasizes his “No” to Kerry

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:57 am

    McCain, Bush Begin to Mend Ties

    After being courted by John F. Kerry to consider joining the Democratic presidential ticket, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) will join President Bush on Air Force One on Friday and introduce him at a campaign event in Reno, Nev., campaign officials said yesterday.


    McCain will join Bush on Friday morning in a hangar at Fort Lewis, Wash., where the president will discuss transformation of the military. McCain then will introduce the president at a rally in the Reno-Sparks Convention Center.

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    Kerry Round-Up

    By Steven Taylor @ 6:42 am

    Sean Hackbarth has the latest House of Ketchup.

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    Insurgents Seek to Spoil Transfer in Iraq

    By Steven Taylor @ 6:41 am

    Suicide Car Bombing Kills 35 Outside Iraq Base

    A suicide car bomber killed 35 people at an Iraqi military base in Baghdad Thursday as guerrillas intensified a bloody campaign to sabotage plans for U.S.-led occupation to give way to Iraqi rule on June 30.


    The insurgents, thought to include Baathists loyal to Saddam Hussein, Iraqi nationalists and foreign militants, have targeted Iraq’s oil industry, government officials and security forces in the run-up to the handover.

    Between the suicide bombings and attacks on oil pipelines, the entire situation comes across as an unfortunate pastiche of Israel and Colombia. The one good thing that comes to mind in making that comparisons, is that both of those countires have democratic governments and manage to persist despite the violence.

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    More Evidence of the Death of the Current Campaign Finance System

    By Steven Taylor @ 6:33 am

    Republicans Nearing Money Record for Convention

    The committee’s aggressive fund-raising is expected to exceed the record $36.1 million collected by Los Angeles officials for the Democratic convention in 2000, and will effectively signal an end to the effort to make conventions publicly financed, campaign finance experts said.

    Gee, what a shame. Quite frankly I see no justification whatsoever for the public paying one red cent for these things.

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    Wednesday, June 16, 2004
    Kerry Must Know How to Make a Dollar Go a Loooong Way

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:12 pm

    Kerry Wants Federal Afterschool Program

    Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry said Wednesday he would create a federal program that would pay to keep schools open until early evening to help working parents.

    Kerry, visiting an after-school and summer school program center, said he would spend an additional $1.5 billion on after-school programs. He said he would get the money for keeping schools open until 6 p.m. from repealing President Bush’s tax cuts for people earning more than $200,000 a year.

    1) Would someone remind the Senator that he is running for President of the United States not mayor or school superintendent. This kind of stuff always bugs me. After-school care isn’t the president’s job.

    2) He can’t pay for everything by repealing the tax cut for the $2000k+ crowd. After all, I thought he was going to pay for health care:

    Kerry would repeal tax cuts for families making $200,000 a year or more and spend that money for health care.
    or Bioterrorism Threat
    Kerry spokesman David Wade said that some proposals would be paid for by eliminating the Bush administration’s tax cuts for Americans who earn more than $200,000 a year. Other elements would be financed through cuts in other federal programs.

    and a trust fund for No Child Left Behind:

    Laura Capps, spokeswoman for the John Kerry campaign, argued that the Bush administration has fallen short of providing enough money for the mandates of No Child Left Behind.

    Capps said Kerry would like to create a $200 billion education trust fund to pay for education improvements with money from the repeal of Bush’s tax breaks for those earning more than $200,000 a year.

    To name a few…

    Somehow I am guessing that all of this can’t possibly add up.

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    • The American Mind linked with Kerry's House of Ketchup #15
    Saddam and 911

    By Steven Taylor @ 2:43 pm

    Here’s the WaPo version:

    There is “no credible evidence” that Saddam Hussein’s government in Iraq collaborated with the al Qaeda terrorist network on any attacks on the United States, according to a new staff report released this morning by the commission investigating the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.


    “There have been reports that contacts between Iraq and al Qaeda also occurred after bin Laden had returned to Afghanistan [in 1996], but they do not appear to have resulted in a collaborative relationship,” the report says. “Two senior bin Laden associates have adamantly denied that any ties existed between al Qaeda and Iraq. We have no credible evidence that Iraq and al Qaeda cooperated on attacks against the United States.”

    And the NYT version:

    The staff also asserted that “no credible evidence” had been found that Iraq and Al Qaeda terrorists cooperated in the attacks, a conclusion likely to fuel the debate over President Bush’s decision to go to war to topple Saddam Hussein.

    So, despite many of the headlines I have seen, what we have here is nothing new. We knew that there was no collaboration between Saddam and al Qaeda on 911. And I would inform the NYT writer: Bush never used a 911-connection as justification for the war. Yes, he linked the regime to terrorism and to al Qaeda, but did not link the regime to 911.

    I find this frustrating not because of a need to defend the administration, but rather because I always get frustrated when a blatantly incorrect statement is placed in first couple of paragraphs of a news story.

    And yes, I know that opinion polls show that many people think that there was a Saddam-911 connection-however, that isn’t what the story is referencing.

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    • Cuz We Said So linked with Yeah, What He Said
    Kaus on Party-Switching

    By Steven Taylor @ 2:30 pm

    Mickey Kaus shares my skepticism over Mrs. Kerry’s recent statements over her converstion to the Democratic Party:

    Honk if you think Teresa Heinz Kerry really became a Democrat because she was outraged at the GOP treatment of Max Cleland. … I’m not hearing anything! … As if Mrs. Heinz Kerry (until recently Mrs. Heinz) wasn’t going to switch her registration at some point before her Democratic husband ran for President? Did she change her name because of Cleland too? …


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    Impressive: The $100 Million Dollar Dem, the Ailing Campaign Finance System, and Other Tales

    By Steven Taylor @ 11:39 am

    Kerry Raises Record $100M in Three Months

    John Kerry raised a Democratic record $100 million from March through May, lifting his presidential campaign to more than $140 million so far.

    Can we say “matching funds are dead"? I bet we can. There can be no doubt that after Bush in 2000 (and ‘04) and Kerry and Dean this time, that the presidential primary matching-fund process created by the FECA is essentially dead. At best it is campaign welfare for medium-to-low wattage candidates.

    And for those keeping score at home, here’re the Bush numbers:

    President Bush has raised at least $216 million since he began his re-election effort in May 2003. That includes at least $13 million raised in May through online and mailed contributions.

    Bush stopped holding fund-raisers for himself in April, turning his attention to helping the Republican Party and fellow GOP candidates raise millions for the fall election.

    The campaign finance system at worst broken, and at best a bad joke. Kerry’s convention conundrum illustrated this, as does the fact the Kucinich is still getting matching funds,

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    • Signifying Nothing linked with Campaign Finance and the Balk Rule
    FARC Accused of Massacring Coca Farmers

    By Steven Taylor @ 11:10 am

    Dozens die in Colombia massacre

    Armed men in Colombia have killed 34 coca farmers in the north-eastern region of Norte de Santander.

    A regional police commander Lt Col William Montezuma told the BBC that 50 gunmen rounded up the farmers in the village of Rio Chiquita and shot them.


    The workers, who had been working at the farm for the past fortnight were sleeping in hammocks, when the gunmen arrived at dawn on Tuesday.

    President Alvaro Uribe
    Uribe came to power on a pledge to curb violence
    They were bound hand and foot with ropes and shot with automatic weapons.

    The authorities blame the left-wing rebel group, Farc, for the attack, the worst since President Alvaro Uribe took office two years ago.

    An official said the farm appeared to belong to right-wing paramilitaries.

    Incidences such as this simply confirm that the guerrilla war in Colombia is not longer about social justice or a social revolution.

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    Making Lunch Safe for America!

    By Steven Taylor @ 11:03 am

    On the string-cheese package:

    SAFTEY FIRST! Open the wrapper with your hands, not your teeth.

    Good to know.

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    What More Could a Town Want?

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:51 am

    El Paso, Texas Named Sweatiest U.S. City

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    The 911 Commission, Iraq and al Qaeda

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:36 am

    Yahoo! News - 9/11 Panel Says Iraq Rebuffed Bin Laden

    Bluntly contradicting the Bush administration, the commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks reported Wednesday there was “no credible evidence” that Saddam Hussein helped al-Qaida target the United States.

    There is a problem with that paragraph: the administration has blatantly stated that Saddam was not involved in 911 (although I will grant that Cheney made statements that left the connection nebulous). In other words, al Qaeda ties and 911 ties are separate issues. However, the report does address broader al Qaeda issue:

    The Iraq connection long suggested by administration officials gained no currency in the report.

    “Bin Laden is said to have requested space to establish training camps, as well as assistance in procuring weapons, but Iraq apparently never responded,” the report said. “There have been reports that contacts between Iraq and al-Qaida also occurred” after bin Laden moved his operations to Afghanistan in 1996, “but they do not appear to have resulted in a collaborative relationship,” it said.

    “Two senior bin Laden associates have adamantly denied that any ties existed between al-Qaida and Iraq,” the report said.

    Part of the problem with all of this, and why the debate no doubt will continue, is that the we treat “al Qaeda” like it is a strong institution like the Lions Club that has bylaws, a governance structure and clear membership lists. However, this is not the case: is it is a somewhat elusive and loosely constructed group of terrorists. For example, James Joyner noted a piece in the online version of Foreign Policy entitled Think Again: Al Qaeda by Jason Burke. Note the first question:

    “Al Qaeda Is a Global Terrorist Organization”

    No. It is less an organization than an ideology. The Arabic word qaeda can be translated as a “base of operation” or “foundation,” or alternatively as a “precept” or “method.” Islamic militants always understood the term in the latter sense. In 1987, Abdullah Azzam, the leading ideologue for modern Sunni Muslim radical activists, called for al-qaeda al-sulbah (a vanguard of the strong). He envisaged men who, acting independently, would set an example for the rest of the Islamic world and thus galvanize the umma (global community of believers) against its oppressors. It was the FBI—during its investigation of the 1998 U.S. Embassy bombings in East Africa—which dubbed the loosely linked group of activists that Osama bin Laden and his aides had formed as “al Qaeda.” This decision was partly due to institutional conservatism and partly because the FBI had to apply conventional antiterrorism laws to an adversary that was in no sense a traditional terrorist or criminal organization.

    Although bin Laden and his partners were able to create a structure in Afghanistan that attracted new recruits and forged links among preexisting Islamic militant groups, they never created a coherent terrorist network in the way commonly conceived. Instead, al Qaeda functioned like a venture capital firm—providing funding, contacts, and expert advice to many different militant groups and individuals from all over the Islamic world. [itals mine]

    Indeed, right after 911 Secretary of State Powell often noted that al Qaeda was like a “holding company” that helped interested parties commit acts of terror.

    So, you therefore get debates on how to categorize Ansar al Islam and al-Zarqawi - ideologically he fits in this broad umbrella of al Qaeda’s ideological perspective, but he is also described as a rival to bin Laden.

    Setting aside presidential politics in this discussion, part of the problem has always been, vis-a-vis terrorism and Iraq, general confusion over what “al Qaeda” means and how much of a true organization it represents, and how much of it is simply a question of a network of terrorist loosely aligned and how much of it means Osama bin Laden specifically. The term is often used, by all sides of the issue, as if it represents a mythical nation-state with whom we are at war. Reality is far more complex than that.

    One thing that this report indicates is that for those who said that bin Laden would never deal with the secularist Saddam were wrong: we have here bin Laden directly asking Saddam for support. For those who thought that Saddam would jump at the chance to aid bin Laden we find that they were wrong as well: Saddam rejected the opportunity.

    I supported the war for a variety of reasons, and still do. Chief amongst the reasons I thought it was a good idea are similar to those of Thomas Friedman: I think that a secular, even quasi-democratic, successful Arab state will do more to curtail the long-term growth of terrorism than anything else that we could do. From there the fact that I fully believed the regime to have WMDs (and I am still not convinced that they weren’t there at all) and the fact that the Iraqi state was a supporter of terrorism, even if there was no direct aid to bin Laden, is indisputable in my mind.

    IN re: terrorism,I would cite: Palestinian terrorist Abu Abbas was given sancutary in Iraq and allowed to train terrorists, Abu Nidal had sanctuary in Iraq, Saddam was paying the families ofsuicide bombers $25k for successful attacks, and the fact that some Saddam supporters, including some clearly trained by Saddam’s regime, to engage in suicide bombing show that the regime was willing to use the ideology of radical Islam to its own ends.

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    • Outside the Beltway linked with Saddam and al Qaeda
    • Outside the Beltway linked with Saddam and al Qaeda
    • Hellblazer linked with A case study in Right Wing thought patterns
    • QandO linked with Connections....
    • criticalperspectives linked with saddam and al qaeda (again)
    15 in Spain to be Charged with Helping to Plan 911

    By Steven Taylor @ 6:32 am

    Spanish Judge Ties Suspects To 9/11

    A Spanish investigating judge today said he had concluded a comprehensive, eight-year probe into Islamic extremist activity in Spain, and his report will likely lead to formal charges and trials for 15 suspected militants accused of helping to plan the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the United States, according to media reports here citing the unreleased document.

    The judge, Baltasar Garzon, did not make his conclusions public, but the Spanish news reports, citing court sources, said 14 people now in custody and one man free on bail face terrorism charges for the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Under Spain’s legal system, judges have wide latitude to conduct lengthy investigations. The results form the basis of prosecutions, indictments and trials.

    Among those named in the report is Imad Eddin Barakat Yarkas, also known as Abu Dahdah, the alleged leader of Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda network in Spain. The news reports said he would be charged with 3,000 counts of murder for the Sept. 11 attacks.

    Spanish investigators have said that a principal suspect charged in the March train bombings in Madrid, a Moroccan immigrant named Jamal Zougam, was a follower of Yarkas. Yarkas has been jailed since November 2001.

    Another judge, Juan del Olmo, is investigating the train bombings.

    Here’s the Atta connection:

    In March and April, Spanish investigators, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the leader of the Sept. 11 hijack team, Mohamed Atta, was known to have visited Spain twice in the months before the attacks, in January and July 2001. On July 7, 2001, with the attack planning in its final stages, Atta flew from Miami to Madrid on an American Airlines flight using an Egyptian passport and a U.S. visa, a Spanish investigator said. Atta traveled to Salou, a beach resort in the Catalan region, and stayed one night, July 17, at the small Montsant Hotel, paying $30 with a credit card for a room.

    Atta also traveled in July to Tarragona, where much of the final planning for the Sept. 11 attacks is believed to have taken place. Investigators have said he rented a car and are trying to trace his credit card records to determine his movements. Atta left Spain for Miami on July 19, an investigator said.

    Most interesting and concerning.

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    Congratulation to the Pistons and their Fans

    By Steven Taylor @ 6:24 am

    The noteworthy scores continue: Pistons 100, Lakers 87.

    Congrats to the Pistons and perhaps farewell to the Lakers as we know them. And condolences to my brother.

    And your trivia for the game: “Detroit’s Mehmet Okur scored seven points while becoming the first Turkish player to win an NBA title.”

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    Tuesday, June 15, 2004
    Beyond Remarkable: We’ve Hit Incredulous

    By Steven Taylor @ 7:58 pm

    Hoffman says slur can be “term of endearment”

    In a sworn statement to be made public Tuesday, University of Colorado President Elizabeth Hoffman said a four-letter word used toward women can sometimes be used as a “term of endearment.”


    A lawyer for one of the women asked Hoffman about former CU kicker Katie Hnida being called the “c- word” by a teammate.

    That player was later disciplined by coach Gary Barnett for making the remark.

    In the deposition, Hoffman was asked whether the “c-word” is “filthy and vile.”

    She said she knows the word is a swear word, but “It is all in the context of what-of how it is used and when it is used.”

    She was asked, “Can you indicate any polite context in which that word would be used?”

    Hoffman answered, “Yes, I’ve actually heard it used as a term of endearment.”

    A CU spokeswoman said President Hoffman is aware of the negative connotations associated with the word.

    But, the spokesperson said, because Hoffman is a medieval scholar, she is aware of the long history of the word. She said it was not always a negative term.

    I am speechless.

    Hat tip: Jay Tea at Wizbang.

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    A Truly Remarkable Thing to Say

    By Steven Taylor @ 5:21 pm

    “My entire person is affected by my belief structure, by the values given to me both through my parents and through religion. But I don’t make decisions in public life based on religious belief, nor do I think we should. I think there is a separation of church and state."-Senator John Kerry as quoted in USAT on June 11.

    OK, so his religious beliefs have shaped his “entire person” except for “decisions in public life"? Pardon?

    It’s like a Socialist politician saying that the collective works of Karl Marx have affected their entire belief structure, except when it comes to serving in office.

    Ok, so what values do inform Mr. Kerry’s decisions in public life? Inquiring voters want to know.

    (Maybe this is just so nuanced a position that I am missing the elusive point).

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    • The American Mind linked with Kerry's House of Ketchup #15
    • The American Mind linked with Kerry's House of Ketchup #15
    A Remarkable Thing to Say

    By Steven Taylor @ 4:46 pm

    Or, at least, inappropriate:

    “If anybody has a mortarboard, you can move your tassels from right to left, right to left, which is what I hope happened to your politics in the last four years."-Stephen Trachtenberg, president of George Washington University (as reported in Newsweek, 6/7/04)

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    Political Naivete

    By Steven Taylor @ 11:39 am

    In an column in the Arizona Republic E. J. Montini writes to Senator McCain about Kerry’s offer of the veepship. Mr. Montini appeals to McCain as follows:

    You are flattered but also loyal. You have said that you would not hand over an election to the opposition. Except that if you were on the ticket you wouldn’t be handing over the election to the opposition. You would be sharing in the victory.

    You have said many times recently that this is the most divided political era that you have ever seen. You have called for an end to personal attacks. You have come to the defense of Sen. Kerry when he was criticized in a way that you considered to be unfair. For doing so, you were attacked by activists within your own party.

    Months ago you told The Arizona Republic, “I believe the citizens of Arizona are a bit disturbed about how partisan and bitter this campaign has become.” And you recently have witnessed it getting worse.

    You can change all that.

    To which I say: poppycock.

    Firstly, the Vice President has no powers of any significance. Second, to give a Vice President McCain “unity government” kind of powers would require complex negotiations between the two men that would amount to a semi-co-presidency that went outside the constitutional design of either office. Third, just because Kerry and McCain were on the same bumper sticker doesn’t mean that their differences would melt away on key issues like abortion.

    This all sounds good in the “can’t we all just get along” vein, but it is wholly spurious reasoning. The reality would be that McCain would have to swallow his own views on many issues so as to get along with the boss. Such a “unity” ticket would not create a dissolution of the differences between these two men, or between the two parties.

    The idea that just putting a Republican on a Democratic ticket would lead to true unity is the stuff of delusional fantasies.

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    Trying to Explain Himself

    By Steven Taylor @ 11:21 am

    Kerry: ‘I’m Running for President Because ….’

    “I’m running for president because ….” the White House hopeful, longtime senator from Massachusetts and decorated Vietnam War veteran explained again and again.


    “I’m running for president because I want an economy that strengthens and expands the middle class, not one that squeezes it,” the presumptive Democratic nominee told a labor conference in Atlantic City.


    “I’m running for president to put America back to work … I’m running for president because health care is not a benefit for the wealthy or the elected or the connected … I’m running for president because I know that we could be a hell of a lot stronger in the world if we were to secure our freedom … I’m running for president because I believe we can build an even more effective military.”

    Ok, so he wants a vibrant economy, security at home, a strong military and he wants to expand health care benefits. My guess is that every mainstream party candidate who has ever run for President wanted the first three things. So is he saying he main raison d’etre is health care reform?

    Seriously: the man is having a problem expressing a basic message.

    UPDATE: This is part of today’s Beltway Traffic Jam.

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    Belated CotC

    By Steven Taylor @ 11:17 am

    Accidental Verbosity has the latest Carnival of the Capitalists.

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    By Steven Taylor @ 7:59 am

    I wrote this last week, but given that everyone was wrting on Reagan, I couldn’t find anyone who wanted to publish it. So, that means an exclusive ePoliColumn (I can feel the excitement!).

    Reagan and the American Mythos

    In watching the coverage of the passing of Ronald Reagan from various news sources I have been struck with the eerie feeling that I have been transported to an alternative universe, like in the old Star Trek where Spock was evil and had a beard.

    However, the tip off here wasn’t facial hair, but rather that the vast majority of reporters and analysts keep talking about the politics of the 1980s as though they were the Golden Age of Bipartisanship, and that they have always viewed President Reagan with nothing but affection.

    Now, I remember the 1980s quite vividly and indeed started my formal study of politics towards the very end of Reagan’s administration. So not only had I been an active observer of the Reagan administration and mass media’s treatment thereof, but by majoring in political science in the mid-to-late 1980s it was rather difficult not to examine the politics of the 1980s with depth. I vividly recall partisan conflict over a wide range of issues. I recall Reagan being called an “amiable dunce” and his dismal by the political class as a senile B-move actor. Further, he was accused of being a fire breathing extremist who would surely start World War III, among other things.

    As such it is clear that I must have been, at some point since the first Bush administration, shunted into a parallel universe where history was a tad different-where the press had a congenial relationship with Ronald Wilson Reagan and wherein Speaker of the House Tip O’Neil and the liberal wing of the Democratic Party were regularly persuaded by the President that he knew best.

    Given that I keep hearing about how well everyone got along in the good ol’ days of the 80s and how Reagan was such a nice man, the alternate universe theory is the only one I’ve got to explain what otherwise comes across as cognitive dissonance.

    Or, perhaps, something else is going on.

    I know that I can reject the alternative universe theory, because not all the commentaries concerning Reagan have been kind. There been a sufficient number of comments along the line of “Reagan was lucky-he was in the right place at the right time; his policies really weren’t the reason for the United States’ success in the 1980s” that I know that the fabric of the space-time continuum haven’t actually ruptured. More specifically, some commentators, such as syndicated columnist and cartoonist Ted Rall have trotted out the old canards that I remember so well from the 1980s: Reagan caused homelessnees, Reagan only helped the rich, Reagan is responsible for the AIDS epidemic, and so forth.

    Those who remember the politics of the day will recall that Mr. Reagan was not universally viewed as a kind and genial man. Indeed, we might recall that then-Vice President George H. W. Bush spoke of a “kinder, gentler nation” in his acceptance speech at the 1988 Republican Convention part of and how that phrase was interpreted as Bush’s way of differentiating himself from Reagan on issues like the environment, homelessness, education and the fact that government can be a positive force. In other words: the view was that Reagan was neither kind nor gentle in these, and other, areas. However, to hear the chattering class speak today, one would assume that every news story in the 1980s extolled Mr. Reagan’s kindness.

    Now, all sarcasm about alternative universes aside, my real initial response to the Reagan coverage was a combination of annoyance and bemusement at the revisionism. While I hardly expected a frontal assault on a president who has just passed away, much of the commentary had a substantial strand of disingenuousness to it.

    After reflection, however, a different interpretation has begun to form in my mind. Yes, there is some less than sincere commentary being proffered, and yes, some of the statements have been tainted by less-than-perfect memories. However, at a general level I think that something else more profound is taking place: Reagan has truly moved from simply an historical figure to the pantheon of American history.

    By this I mean that Reagan’s public perception has slowly been moving from the level of divisive political figure to one of an exalted figure in American history-he has became a central player in the drama that is our political history. As such, stylized and overly-simplified views of his presidency and accomplishments are clearly being firmly ensconced in the public consciousness. And to call them idealized or simplified is not meant as a criticism. We do the same thing with such persons as the Founding Fathers, Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Delano Roosevelt. These are figures whose accomplishments have been made part of the narrative of our national narrative and whose short-comings and failures have been diminished in our minds, while their successes have been greatly amplified.

    The reaction to Reagan, by many of his former critics and especially the public writ large, signals this movement from former President to cherished character in American history. He is in the process of becoming, perhaps indeed, has already become, part of the American mythos.

    Again, this is no slight, but rather a monumental compliment. Just as we overly-simply Jefferson’s writing of the Declaration of Independence. Despite the basic story of the document: in truth, Jefferson should not properly be considered the sole author, as the document came about from group discussions in the Continental Congress, not to mention the fact that much of the underlying theory in the document was taken directly from John Locke’s Second Treatise on Government. However, these facts do not diminish Jefferson in our eyes. Indeed, it is the importance of the actions in question that cause us to mythologize them. The messiness of reality often clouds the importance of a person and their actions.

    I am not suggesting, by any means, that we forget the totality of history, or that pure and honest analysis should be discarded for the comfortable world of mythology. However, there is no doubt that a given event or person can occupy both spaces-and that idealized versions of historical events are an important way of conveying the fundamental truth and significance of history.

    As I watch the events that have unfolded-and beyond simply kind commentary about a deceased president, I am convinced that what we are observing is more than just the celebration of the life and presidency of Ronald Reagan. Indeed, we are observing a secular beautification as he moves into a permanent position in our national consciousness and in our perception of our national story.

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    • Outside the Beltway linked with PoliColumns
    • Cranial Cavity linked with Linkology 101 For The Week of 14 June '04
    PoliColumn at TCS

    By Steven Taylor @ 6:38 am

    I have my first-ever piece at Tech Central Station: Switzerland in the Desert?

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    • Outside the Beltway linked with PoliColumns
    Monday, June 14, 2004
    Umm, I Think the Answer is: “She Married One”

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:48 pm

    Heinz Kerry Says Why She Joined Democrats

    Oh, now come on, this is silly.

    Teresa Heinz Kerry says anger, not ideology, prompted her to become a Democrat. The wife of Sen. John Kerry, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, says her emotion stemmed from the way the Republican Party, to which she had pledged allegiance, treated Democratic Sen. Max Cleland of Georgia in 2002.

    What? If the Republicans had been nice to Cleland in 2002 she would’ve stayed a Republican and would now be campaigning for Bush against her husband?

    Heinz Kerry had been a registered Republican until Kerry, her second husband, announced his bid for the White House.

    As one would expect. Surely this is one switch that needs no explanation.

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    • QandO linked with Blog Rolling
    Happiness is…

    By Steven Taylor @ 4:14 pm

    Professor Bainbridge notes the irony of his very existence:

    Unlike a lot of my law school buddies, many of whom make two to even five times what I do, I actually like what I do. Even better, I have a life outside work that I enjoy too. Of course, what I do entails creating new generations of rich but miserable lawyers. Hmmm… That’s too much cognitive dissonance for a Monday morning.

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    Just Choose Already!

    By Steven Taylor @ 4:11 pm

    I know it’s early, but I am tired of the speculation. The latest is from US News’ Washington Whispers

    Labor leaders believe union friend Rep. Dick Gephardt has the inside track to be Sen. John Kerry ’s vice president. We hear that AFL-CIO execs say it’s a done deal.

    While harldy a charisma-infusion, I have long thought Gephardt a better choice thatn Edwards. Why? Because having Gephardt has the chance of bringing along Missouri. I don’t think that Edwards can deliver NC (remember: he chose not to run for re-election to the Senate). And aside from the news boost that naming his veep will bring him, I do not think that an exciting VP nominee will have any lasting significance for Kerry. Gephardt, however, could help in MO.

    People get really excited about this stuff for a few days, and then things tend to calm down. We go through this hype every four years-yet I ask: what VP nominee has ever made that much of a difference? The only one in the Twentieth Century that I can think of is LBJ-who delivered Texas to JFK in a hotly contested 1960 race.

    NOTE TO THE PRESS: I know you are bored, but the Veep thing really isn’t that big a deal.

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    The Silliness of the Big “L” Libertarians

    By Steven Taylor @ 3:22 pm

    Libertarian Candidate Won’t Concede to ‘Evil’

    Badnarik started as an underdog in a party of underdogs, but said he is now ready to convince mainstream voters they don’t have to settle for the “lesser of two evils” any longer.

    “Part of our campaign is to let voters know that when you vote for the lesser of two evils, you are still faced with evil,” he said. “We are another choice. We are a viable choice. I am dedicated to getting this message out to as many people as I can.”

    Ok, not only are neither of the gentlemen in question “evil,” let’s face facts: the Libertarians have zeo chances of winning, and, further, any voter who was going to vote for either Bush or Kerry, but instead votes libertarian might as well have voted for their opposite choice. And no, it won’t send a message. Just ask the Nader voters in Florida in 2000.

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    Ohio Mall Targeted by al Qaeda Member

    By Steven Taylor @ 1:15 pm

    Somali Charged with Plotting to Blow Up Ohio Mall

    A Somali man living in Ohio was charged with plotting with al Qaeda supporters to blow up a shopping mall in Columbus, Ohio, Attorney General John Ashcroft said on Monday.

    According to an indictment unsealed in Columbus, Ohio, on Monday, Nuradin Abdi, 32, attended a camp in Ethiopia for military-style training in “preparation for violent jihad.”

    Ashcroft said after receiving his training in Africa, Abdi returned to the United States and he and others “initiated a plot” to blow up a Columbus area shopping mall.

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    Kerry’s Nuance Problem

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:57 am

    Via WaPo: Doubts Linger as Kerry Advances

    John F. Kerry has shattered fundraising records, unified an oft-warring party and pushed past President Bush in some national polls. Yet many Democratic voters, officials and even members of Kerry’s staff express an ambivalence - or angst - about their presidential candidate that belies this strong public standing.

    These Democrats say the enthusiasm for defeating Bush runs much stronger and deeper than the passion for electing Kerry. The chief reason: The senator from Massachusetts, they say, has not crisply articulated what a Kerry presidency would stand for beyond undoing much of the Bush agenda.

    So far, these concerns have not slowed Kerry. But if Kerry cannot change this perception coming out of next month’s Democratic convention in Boston, it could prove much harder for the party to maximize turnout, win over Ralph Nader voters and keep independents from swinging to Bush, they say.

    “There is a danger in that [ambivalence],” said John D. Podesta, White House chief of staff in the Clinton administration. “You can’t just be against something. [Voters] want a positive vision of where the country is going, and he has to provide that.”

    I think this is quite accurate and underscores why I cannot, at this point, take the polls seriously.

    And the following highlights a serious problem for Kerry:

    Yet many Democrats are concerned that Kerry will have a harder time than previous candidates detailing his positions in a way voters can readily understand. Kerry holds nuanced positions on many issues, such as trade, that do not translate into 30-second sound bites. One of his plans - cutting taxes for corporations in exchange for ending overseas tax-dodging - is not easily explained and turns off many liberal Democrats because it includes tax breaks for wealthy corporations.

    Despite spending 20 years in the Senate, Kerry has not left a distinct policy mark, having chosen to focus more on investigations. And, at times, he has straddled both sides of issues. The Bush campaign frequently chides Kerry for voting for Bush’s plan for education and the Patriot Act, only to criticize both on the campaign trail. In the middle of June, “it’s unclear what John Kerry’s vision and message [are] for the country,” said Steve Schmidt, spokesman for the Bush campaign.

    Even on abortion rights, which Kerry has consistently supported, his staff is unclear about whether he would appoint lower-court judges who oppose Roe v. Wade.

    A top Democratic aide, who requested anonymity to speak candidly about Kerry, said many House members and staff say it is hard to explain what Kerry stands for, and what he has stood for in the past. The aides said the Kerry campaign is aware of this concern and committed to addressing it.

    At this point in 2000, it was clear Bush stood for lower taxes, sweeping education changes and a strong military. In 1992, it was clear Clinton was a “new kind of Democrat,” who would cut taxes for the middle class and revamp health care.

    For these types of reasons (amongst others), I don’t expect this race to crystalize until the Fall when there is a real one-to-one comparison between the two candidates. And in that comparison I think that Kerry’s “nuance” isn’t going to serve him well. Yes, there is a good deal of anti-Bush sentiment that Kerry can capitalize upon, however that isn’t going to be enough to win. He has to convince swing voters that there is a positive reason to elect him in a time of international uncertainty-he has yet to articulate such a message. Indeed, I am not entirely certain why Kerry wants to be President, aisde from the fact that he wants to be President.

    Indeed, the piece notes:

    The danger is if voters come to see Kerry as a candidate more of ambition than ideas and more calculating than complicated, Democrats say.

    And this works at the state-level, especially if one is a Democrat in a heavily Democratic state (or a Rep in a heavily Republican state):

    Kerry may never stir Democrats passionately, but he may not need to. Since his earliest days in politics, Kerry has appeared somewhat detached from the people and voters who helped elect him. He is cerebral, and his interests - such as windsurfing - and his wealth separate him from the general public. Despite Kerry’s two decades in the Senate, not many Democrats consider themselves “Kerry Democrats” or ardent loyalists, or even close friends.

    And I love how he is “cerebral.” Daniel Patrick Moynihan was “cerebral"-Kerry hardly comes across as an intellectual.

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    • Outside the Beltway linked with Beltway Traffic Jam
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    Supreme Court Dodge?

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:32 am

    Supreme Court Decides Pledge Case on Technicality

    The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Monday that California atheist Michael Newdow lacked the right to bring a constitutional challenge to the words “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance, avoiding a decision on the key church-state issue.

    By an 8-0 vote, the justices overturned a controversial decision by a U.S. appeals court in California that reciting the phrase amounted to a violation of church-state separation.

    The ruling by the justices was based on the technicality that Newdow could not bring the case before the court because he did not have legal control over his daughter, on whose behalf he was arguing.

    This strikes me as a legitimate ruling-it has always struck me as odd that the man filed the suit on behalf of his daughter, given that the mother has sole legal custody and that she and her daughter profess Christianity.

    Of course, on the other hand, this leaves the question open and guarantees another lawsuit.

    I would also note that this issue of standing should have been dealt with at the lowest court level.

    What a waste of time.

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    • Signifying Nothing linked with Pledge stays unchanged
    • linked with What "Conservative" Supreme Court?
    • damnum absque injuria linked with God Wins on a Technicality
    Y’all Better Listen Up

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:53 am


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    It Has Happened Again

    By Steven Taylor @ 7:58 am

    Robert Jacob Murdered on Video.

    The video was reportedly shown on al Jazeera.

    Not surprsingly, the video is allegedly on the internet as well. Wizbang
    has the linkage.

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    • Backcountry Conservative linked with Another Videotaped Execution
    • Hot Abercrombie Chick linked with Another Execution Video?
    That’s His Story and He’s Sticking to it

    By Steven Taylor @ 6:34 am

    Clinton Planning to Use Book Tour to Assist Kerry.

    Headline aside, methinks this is the more accurate priority list:

    Mr. Clinton received an advance of more than $10 million to write his memoirs, “My Life,” and aides to the former president say his first priority now is to sell as many books as possible.

    But they also say that whenever his book-selling obligations allow, Mr. Clinton is eager to pitch in for the party by plugging Mr. Kerry and subtly putting down Republicans at book-selling events, and by speaking at fund-raisers or campaign stops on his tour.

    Further, one guesses that the book’s release will take airtime away from Kerry. Of course, given that the less Kerry is on TV, the better he does in the polls, there may be a coincidence of interests here…

    Of course, an unforeseen result will also be that given the death of President Reagan, there will be some Reagan-Clinton comparisons, certainly in the minds of the public, if not in the mouths of pundits. Such comparisons, I would think, which could help Bush.

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    Terrorism Report was Incorrect

    By Steven Taylor @ 6:33 am

    Powell: Terrorism Report a ‘Big Mistake’

    A State Department report that incorrectly showed a decline last year in terrorism worldwide was a “big mistake,” Secretary of State Colin Powell said Sunday. “Very embarrassing. I am not a happy camper over this. We were wrong,” the secretary told NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

    Powell said he was working with the CIA, which helped to compile the data, to determine why the errors got into the report. He said he planned a meeting on the issue Monday and that the intelligence agency was working through the weekend in preparation.

    “I’m not saying it is responsible until I sit down with all of the individuals who had something to do with this report: CIA, my department, members of my department, other agencies that contributed to it,” Powell said.

    “It’s a numbers error. It’s not a political judgment that said, `Let’s see if we can cook the books.’ We can’t get away with that now. Nobody was out to cook the books. Errors crept in,” he told ABC’s “This Week.”

    He pledged to release a corrected report as quickly as possible.


    The April report said attacks had declined last year to 190, down from 198 in 2002 and 346 in 2001. The 2003 figure would have been the lowest level in 34 years and a 45 percent drop since 2001, Bush’s first year as president.

    The report also showed the virtual disappearance of attacks in which no one died.

    “There’s a new terrorist threat information center that compiles this data under the CIA. And we are still trying to determine what went wrong with the data and why we didn’t catch it in the State Department,” Powell said Sunday.

    “It’s a very big mistake. And we are not happy about this big mistake,” he added.

    The department has said that one of the mistakes was that only part of 2003 was taken into account.

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    Another Suicide Bombing in Iraq

    By Steven Taylor @ 6:27 am

    Five Contractors Among 13 Dead in Baghdad Blast

    A suicide car bombing in the heart of Baghdad killed at least 13 people on Monday, five of them foreign electricity contractors in a passing convoy.

    Two Britons and a Frenchman were among the dead. It was the second suicide bombing in the Iraqi capital in 24 hours and coincided with a wave of assassinations aimed at the new interim government appointed to take over from the U.S.-British occupation authorities on June 30.

    Interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi said five foreign workers had been killed in the morning rush-hour attack, which devastated a busy street and ripped the front off one building.

    “Today’s explosion targeted foreign civilians working in the rebuilding of electricity works. Five of them were killed and three were lightly wounded,” he told a news conference.

    “The terrorists are trying to prevent the transfer of power and sovereignty on June 30,” Allawi said.

    I think that that sentiment is correct, and this does not surprise me. One would guess that attacks will persist, if not escalate, as the month progresses and into next month as well.

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    By Steven Taylor @ 6:24 am

    I must say, I am quite surprised: Pistons 88, Lakers 80-now the Lakers are down 3-1.

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    Sunday, June 13, 2004
    Ellis’ Founding Brothers

    By Steven Taylor @ 7:22 pm

    Speaking of Founding Brothers, the book on the revolutionary generation by Joseph Ellis, I recently completed the book and found it quite good and worthy of recommendation. Indeed, it has spurred me on to read some more biographies from that period.

    Ellis’ book is quite readable and well researched—based mostly on the copious letter writing of the time. The book details the story of the Burr-Hamilton duel, the political compromise the lead to the placement of the nation’s capital on the Potomac, the political difficulty of the slavery question in the early congress, Washington’s farewell address, and the Adams-Jefferson political rivalry that led to a falling out and the resuscitation of their friendship.

    Not only is an interesting portrayal of the characters themselves, but gives an intriguing flavor of the politics of the day.

    The book won a Pulitzer prize and it quite readable.

    I would note that if one is not aware, Professor Ellis is the historian who recently (2001) got in trouble for, say we say, embellishing his own past. I will admit that I had I made that connection before reading the book, that I might never have picked it up. After all, a historian who makes up things about himself tends to create some serious credibility problems. However, given the heavily footnoted nature of the book, and the fact that all of the attention that his work has received from other scholars puts my mind at ease on this issue. Plus, I was simply impressed by the book. Indeed, it is my intention to read his books on Jefferson, Adams and Washington (not yet out).

    Indeed, it in my intention to read at least two or more biographies on each, as well as on at least Hamilton and Franklin.

    More on the Joseph Ellis story here and here. The whole is rather remarkable, to be honest.

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    Al Qaeda Arrests Made in Pakistan

    By Steven Taylor @ 1:44 pm

    Pakistan Arrests 10 al-Qaida Suspects

    Pakistani authorities have arrested 10 suspected al-Qaida members, including a nephew of detained terror mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, who has been in U.S. custody the past year, the interior minister said Sunday.


    Among them was Masrab Arochi, a nephew of former al-Qaida No. 3 Mohammed, who was captured in March 2003 in a city near the Pakistani capital. Arochi had a $1 million bounty on his head, Hayat said, and is believed to have been behind several attacks in Pakistan.


    A tenth suspect arrested in the past 24 hours was identified as the mastermind of two sectarian attacks in the southwestern Pakistani city of Quetta in the past few months that left scores dead. Hayat did not reveal his name.

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    And This Would be Surprising Because?

    By Steven Taylor @ 1:40 pm

    I have seen this story breathlessly noted in various places: Poll: Edwards Top Choice for Kerry Ticket

    Sen. John Edwards, the smooth-talking populist who emerged from the nominating campaign as John Kerry’s chief rival, is favored among registered voters to be the Democratic vice presidential candidate, according to an Associated Press poll. But his name on the ticket does not automatically boost Democratic prospects.

    Given that he came in second and the name-recognition factor, what’s the big news here. Indeed, the following quote sums it up well:

    “Polling information on potential running mates is soft and unreliable because it’s all about name identification and hypothetical,” said Doug Sosnik, a top adviser in the Clinton White House. “Eventually, we’ll have a campaign when people will get to know them. Right now, it’s just mush.”

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    Bush: Up and Down

    By Steven Taylor @ 1:33 pm

    No, not the President and the polls-Poppy and the plane.

    41 made a successful tandem-jump in Texas today in celebration of his 80th birthday. Apparently he wanted to do a solo jump, but conditions didn’t allow it,

    I must admit, I shan’t be celebrating my 36th birthday jumping out of anything, let alone my 80th.

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    Partisanship in America and Some Historical Perspective

    By Steven Taylor @ 1:20 pm

    Robert Tagorda, James Joyner and Kevin Drum all comment on a piece today’s NYT that I noted this morning, but didn’t have time to comment upon.

    I concur with the basic thesis of the piece: we are not as divided as the “50-50 Nation” theorists would have us think. More accurately: close electoral results do not mean that we are radially divided, because while there are important differences between the parties, they are hardly radical. Indeed, Drum makes a point similar to one I make in class all the time:

    To a certain extent, the same is true of economic issues. We fight enormous battles over whether tax rates should go up or down by three points and whether the Social Security retirement age should be 67 or 68. This is not the stuff of which legends are made.

    As much as hardcore partisans would hate to admit it: life in the United States will not be radically different if Kerry beats Bush or if Bush is reelected over Kerry. We may all have our preferences, but ours is actually a moderate political culture and the two parties are hardly polar opposites of one another.

    Indeed, this is an argument I have been making for years, like in this post from July 29, 2003.

    Further, the current state of partisanship is mild by the standard of many past elections. For example, consider the following statements from a prior presidential election:

    In the present situation of the United States, divided as they are between two parties, which mutually accuse each other of perfidy and treason…This exalted station [the presidency] is surrounded with dangerous rocks, and the most eminent abilities will not be sufficient to steer clear of them all….the next president of the United States will only be the president of a party.

    So wrote Thomas Jefferson to James Madison on January 8, 1797 as quoted in Joseph Ellis’ Founding Brothers, p. 182.

    So, partisanship, political division, and incendiary rhetoric are nothing new. We tend to forget the bad about the past and remember only the good (the recollections of the 1980s by many this week have highlighted this fact). But we are hardly as bad off as some commentators would have us think.

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    Saturday, June 12, 2004
    That There’s Hylarious

    By Steven Taylor @ 7:55 pm

    If you have ever played D&D, or any other role playing game for that matter, methinks you will find the following to be rather amusing: 8bitDandD

    Hat tip: Jay at Accidental Verbosity

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    Amusing: Reagan on the TNG Set

    By Steven Taylor @ 7:26 pm

    I came across the following at which has photos of Reagan visitng the Next Generation set in 1991 during the filming of Redemption I:

    This particular episode, if you remember, features a full contingent of Klingons. The President, not known to be very familiar with Star Trek, was introduced to some of the guest stars, presumably his first encounter with the warrior-like alien race. When later asked by Lyles what he thought of the Klingons, Reagan replied with his customary wit: “I like them. They remind me of Congress.”

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    Local British Elections-Labor Loses; Anti-Iraq Sentiment Blamed

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:03 am

    Pressure on Blair after elections

    With most results in, Labour has lost 464 seats and eight councils, including Newcastle and Leeds. The Tories gained 263 seats, including Trafford.


    According to BBC analysis of 500 key wards, the results mean that Labour has slipped to third place in terms of share of the vote - 12% behind the Conservatives and 3% behind the Liberal Democrats.

    If correct, it would be the first time a party in government has finished third in terms of national share of the vote in local elections.

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    Key Images

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:16 am

    There have been a number of striking photographs from the last week, some majestic, others personal. One of the images the helps sum up the Reagan legacy is this one:

    Lech Walesa was a shipyard electrician in Gdansk, Poland who became first a political activist, then a political prisoner, Nobel Peace Prize recipient and eventually, President of Poland. As he noted in the WSJ yesterday, the fact that he went from dock worker to President is in no small part because of the Reagan presidency.

    The presence of Walesa is quite significant, given that Poland was really the first place that the hold of the Soviets over Eastern Europe began to falter and that eventually showed the weakness of what had been thought to have been an iron grip. I wrote my senior honors thesis on the Polish revolution, and so seeing Walesa at the funeral was especially poignant to me.

    Similarly, the presence of Gorbachev is symbolically quite significant as well:

    Yes, Gorbachev deserves important recognition in the history of the demise of the Soviet Union. However, one has to remember: his goal was neither the dismantlement of the Soviet empire, nor was it the cessation of the Cold War. His goal was to reinvigorate the Soviet Union via reform. Of further note: he did not leave power willingly, nor through a legal mechanism. He was first the victim of a coup attempt by hardline CPSU leaders, and ultimately ousted by the peaceful revolution led by Yeltsin and the democrat reformer who oversaw the collapse of the USSR.

    I have oft noted that I knew without a doubt that we had won the Cold War hand down and that communism as a global force was truly dead for the ages when, in 1997, Gorbachev appeared in a Pizza Hut commercial. Indeed, it was pretty clear things were heading towards the end when McDonald’s opened in Red Square during the waning years of Gorbachev’s tenure in office.

    And, of course, the presence of Lady Thatcher, despite her ill health was an honor to the United States. She, too was a giant in the fight against global Communism.

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    Friday, June 11, 2004
    A Shame

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:28 pm

    Given a combo of past marital history and the drug situation, not suprising: Limbaugh announces end of 10-year marriage

    Conservative radio commentator Rush Limbaugh announced Friday that he and his wife, Marta, were divorcing.

    The Limbaughs “mutually decided to end their marriage of 10 years” and have “separated pending an amicable resolution,” according to a statement released by Limbaugh’s publicist.

    The couple shared a $24 million oceanfront mansion in nearby Palm Beach. Limbaugh often broadcasts his daily three-hour show from a studio in a commercial area of Palm Beach.

    Spokesman Tony Knight said the matter was personal and declined further comment.

    Hat tip: Joe Gandelman at Dean’s World.

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    Caption Contest

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:18 pm

    While I have resisted copying other folks’ shtick, I figure there is no reason I can’t have my own caption contest as the mood strikes, so here it goes. Submit your entries below with winners announced early next week.

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    Before the Griping Starts

    By Steven Taylor @ 4:16 pm

    The NYT notes that at least three of the speakers were chosen by none other than the late President:

    During his first year in office, at the age of 69 in 1981, Mr. Reagan asked Mr. Bush, who was then his vice president, to speak at his funeral. And because he was proud of appointing the first woman to the Supreme Court, Mr. Reagan extended a similar invitation to Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.

    And it was Mr. Reagan who chose what Justice O’Connor read today: John Winthrop’s 1630 sermon that inspired Mr. Reagan’s own description of America as a shining “city upon a hill.”

    A number of years ago, Mr. Reagan asked Lady Thatcher, who in her days as prime minister of Britain was known as “The Iron Lady,” to speak at his last rites. The two shared the same political philosophy and had become fast friends.

    UPDATE: According to Chris Matthews during the coverage of the ceremony at the Reagan Library, President Reagan chose all the speakers and the music for today’s event.

    UPDATE: Saturday’s NYT notes tha Mrs. Reagan chose former Senator and ordained Episcopal priest John Danforth to preside over the services due to the illness of Billy Graham.

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    • The Galvin Opinion linked with ELOQUENT WORDS FOR AN ELEGANT MAN
    Challenge to Pryor Loses

    By Steven Taylor @ 3:46 pm

    Kennedy loses bid to block Pryor appointment to federal court

    Sen. Edward Kennedy lost a bid to block former Alabama Attorney General Bill Pryor’s appointment to the federal appeals court in Atlanta when Pryor’s fellow judges turned down the Massachusetts Democrat’s motion to argue it was unconstitutional.

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    Does this Make Sense to Anyone?

    By Steven Taylor @ 3:36 pm

    Ok, so one site gets two games now? Most strange: BCS to play five games at four current sites starting in 2006

    The Bowl Championship Series added a game without adding a bowl but is no closer to a playoff than before.

    The BCS will play five games at the current four sites starting in the 2006 season, with the bowl that hosts the national championship game also holding an earlier postseason game.

    Do these guys drop acid at these meetings before making these decisions? Inquiring minds want to know.

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    More on Kerry-McCain

    By Steven Taylor @ 3:17 pm

    CNN now has details from the AP-McCain rejects Kerry’s veep overture:

    Kerry has asked McCain as recently as late last month to consider becoming his running mate, but the Arizona senator said he’s not interested, said a Democratic official who spoke on condition of anonymity because Kerry has insisted that his deliberations be kept private.

    A second official familiar with the conversations confirmed the account, and said the Arizona senator made it clear he won’t change his mind.

    Both officials said Kerry stopped short of offering McCain the job, sparing himself an outright rejection that would make his eventual running mate look like a second choice.

    “Senator McCain categorically states that he has not been offered the vice presidency by any one,” said McCain’s chief of staff, Mark Salter, who would not confirm the officials’ account.

    Kerry spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter declined to comment.

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    Perhaps He Should Stick to Publishing Novels

    By Steven Taylor @ 3:01 pm

    There are some comparisons or analogies that you cannot only semi-utilize, as Andrew Greeley says he is doing here, but in the end really isn’t. What a shockingly ridiculous piece of reasoning by someone one would think would know better: Is U.S. like Germany of the ’30s?

    Today many Americans celebrate a ‘’strong'’ leader who, like Woodrow Wilson, never wavers, never apologizes, never admits a mistake, never changes his mind, a leader with a firm ‘’Christian'’ faith in his own righteousness. These Americans are delighted that he ignores the rest of the world and punishes the World Trade Center terrorism in Iraq. Mr. Bush is our kind of guy.

    He is not another Hitler. Yet there is a certain parallelism. They have in common a demagogic appeal to the worst side of a country’s heritage in a crisis. Bush is doubtless sincere in his vision of what is best for America. So too was Hitler. The crew around the president - Donald Rumsfeld, John Ashcroft, Karl Rove, the ‘’neo-cons'’ like Paul Wolfowitz - are not as crazy perhaps as Himmler and Goering and Goebbels. Yet like them, they are practitioners of the Big Lie - weapons of mass destruction, Iraq democracy, only a few ‘’bad apples.'’

    Hitler’s war was quantitatively different from the Iraq war, but qualitatively both were foolish, self-destructive and criminally unjust. This is a time of great peril in American history because a phony patriotism and an America-worshipping religion threaten the authentic American genius of tolerance and respect for other people


    Hat tip: Jeff Goldstein.

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    Did Kerry ask McCain?

    By Steven Taylor @ 2:52 pm

    The CNN website currently has this “Developing Story” on its fron page:

    Sen. John McCain rejects Sen. John Kerry’s overtures to join Democratic presidential ticket, AP reports. CNN is working to confirm.


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    President Reagan’s Funeral

    By Steven Taylor @ 2:24 pm

    James Joyner has an excellent news/speech and photo round-up.

    Bill Hobbs has a nice montage as well.

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    Walesa on Reagan

    By Steven Taylor @ 11:36 am

    In Solidarity: The Polish people, hungry for justice, preferred “cowboys” over Communists.

    When talking about Ronald Reagan, I have to be personal. We in Poland took him so personally. Why? Because we owe him our liberty. This can’t be said often enough by people who lived under oppression for half a century, until communism fell in 1989.

    Poles fought for their freedom for so many years that they hold in special esteem those who backed them in their struggle. Support was the test of friendship. President Reagan was such a friend. His policy of aiding democratic movements in Central and Eastern Europe in the dark days of the Cold War meant a lot to us. We knew he believed in a few simple principles such as human rights, democracy and civil society. He was someone who was convinced that the citizen is not for the state, but vice-versa, and that freedom is an innate right.


    I have often been asked in the United States to sign the poster that many Americans consider very significant. Prepared for the first almost-free parliamentary elections in Poland in 1989, the poster shows Gary Cooper as the lonely sheriff in the American Western, “High Noon.” Under the headline “At High Noon” runs the red Solidarity banner and the date-June 4, 1989-of the poll. It was a simple but effective gimmick that, at the time, was misunderstood by the Communists. They, in fact, tried to ridicule the freedom movement in Poland as an invention of the “Wild” West, especially the U.S.

    But the poster had the opposite impact: Cowboys in Western clothes had become a powerful symbol for Poles. Cowboys fight for justice, fight against evil, and fight for freedom, both physical and spiritual. Solidarity trounced the Communists in that election, paving the way for a democratic government in Poland. It is always so touching when people bring this poster up to me to autograph it. They have cherished it for so many years and it has become the emblem of the battle that we all fought together.

    The whole piece is worth a read.

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    • Arguing with signposts… linked with Lech on Reagan
    Placing Reagan’s Presidency in Perspective

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:34 am

    James Joyner notes that the predictable criticisms of Reagan have begun, which is reasonable. However, in reading his post and the excerpts from the various columnists, along with some similar statements I have heard and read in the last several days, I am led to the following.

    (And, I would note, that I think it appropriate that I am posting this as Mr. Reagan’s funeral at the National Cathedral is beginning.)

    Let’s consider the following tour down memory lane:

  • November 22, 1963: President John F. Kennedy is assassinated.
  • The 1960s saw the Bay of Pigs disaster, the Cuban Missile Crisis, a burgeoning Soviet Union, escalation in Viet Nam, a profound struggle over Civil Rights (which had an ultimately positive outcome, but clearly was hardly serene at the time), and an exploding counter-culture movement.
  • The Viet Nam War during the 1960s and 1970s becomes a major source of internal conflict in the United States to the point that President Johnson chooses not to pursue re-election. Further, the fact that the war ends, after years of fighting and tens of thousands of American deaths, in the withdrawal of US forces and the collapse of the South meant that United States military had been defeated by a third world communist dictatorship.
  • The 1960s and 1970s were decades in which the world was firmly divided into two seemingly intractable camps, which wanted the destruction of the other (and each had the nuclear arsenal to literally destroy the other and, barring Armageddon, the political will to try to win the contest known as the Cold War via other means). Scholars would write during this period that democracy and capitalism were simply choices of regime, not necessarily preferred modes of operation, and that some cultures and peoples may not really be cut out for freedom and liberty.
  • The Watergate scandal forced President Nixon to resign (after his first Vice President, Spiro Agnew had also resigned for ethical reasons). This led to the Ford Presidency-a man who had been appointed to the position, not elected, because of the aforementioned Agnew problems.
  • The 1970s were marked by a variety of economic problems. Energy was a huge issue, as were inflation, and the general health of the economy.
  • Arguably, the Johnson, Nixon, Ford and Carter administrations were all failed presidencies. Yes, Johnson had substantial legislative success with Civil Rights, the Great Society and federal funds for education, but those personal triumphs were overshadowed by Viet Nam. Nixon resigned, Ford was a caretaker of the remains of the Nixon administration and was perceived as a bumbler and his pardon of Nixon sealed his fate in terms of a real chance at his own administration, and Carter was plagued by serious economic problems and a serious of foreign poliy problems capped by the Iranian Revolution and the hostage crisis.

    This is the almost twenty-year context that preceded the Reagan administration.

    I was in elementary school during the Carter administration and middle school when Reagan was elected. However, I very distinctly remember the pallor that obscured the White House during the Iran hostage crisis, President Carter and his sweater and the need to conserve electricity (which, granted, isn’t a bad idea in and of itself, but the image of the most powerful man in the world being unable to adequately heat the White House has a certain symbolic power), and news stories about the dire state of the economy. In short: it wasn’t the happiest time in American history. It wasn’t the Great Depression, but it was a time of great discontentedness with government and politics, and one filled with profound doubt about the capacity of the United States to continue to flourish as it had.

    Into this situation came Ronald Reagan. Surely the trend dictated that he, too, should have a failed presidency mired in the great difficulties of the day. Instead, there can be no doubt that Reagan helped to change the way the citizens of the US thought about themselves and their country.

    Now, I am not saying that Reagan came to office in 1981 and rainbows and roses descended from Heaven. We had the additional, and quite serious, recession of the early 80s, the nuclear threat of the Soviet Union persisted (and the future fate of democracy remained an issue-although the global movement towards democracy and neoliberalism did starts in the 1980s), and in number of problems and imperfections persisted.

    However, if one looks at the history of the presidency from LBJ to Reagan and see what the office did to the men who occupied for it, and what accomplishments and failures that each endured, it is rather difficult to argue that the Reagan’s success was just because he had a sunny disposition, a genial fellow, or just “being at the right place at the right time.”

    Warts and all, his was a successful presidency that reshaped the debate both within the politics of the United States and around the world. For example: as someone noted the other day, Reagan’s legacy is part of the reason (a major part) of why John Kerry refused to self-identify as a “liberal". One may think that that situation is silly (and in many ways, it is), but it is still is a testament to the power of Reagan’s imprint on American politics that he redefined in the public mind the definitions of “conservative” and “liberal” and, indeed, reshaped in large measure the Republican Party, and, in turn the Democratic Party by making “Republican” an acceptable label in the South. That is not small feat. An intellectually honest assessment of his presidency can only lead to the conclusion that he had one of the most successful presidencies of the twentieth century. Indeed, the only way to avoid that conclusion is to dismiss the record and ascribe the outcomes of the 1980s to luck or to pretend like the successes never took place.

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    Grain of Salt Report: Bush Leads in Three Key States

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:42 am

    Bush Gets Better Ratings in 3 Battleground States Than Nationwide

    In all three states, the bottom line is the same: Bush is in better shape politically than he is nationwide.

    In Missouri, Bush leads Kerry by 48% to 42% in a two-way race, and by 48% to 37% in a three-way race, with independent Ralph Nader garnering 5%.

    In Ohio, the two men are in a virtual dead heat: Kerry attracts 46%, Bush 45%. With Nader in the mix, Kerry’s lead slightly expands: The Massachusetts senator attracts 45%, compared with 42% for Bush and 4% for Nader.

    In Wisconsin, Kerry and Bush draw 44% each; in a three-way contest, Bush remains at 44%, while Kerry slips to 42% and Nader gets 4%.

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    WMD-Related Detritus?

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:30 am

    U.N. experts find 20 engines used in banned Iraqi missiles in Jordan scrapyards

    U.N. weapons experts have found 20 engines used in banned Iraqi missiles in a Jordan scrapyard along with other equipment which could be used to make weapons of mass destruction, an official said Wednesday.

    The discoveries were revealed to the U.N. Security Council by acting chief U.N. inspector Demetrius Perricos during in a closed-door briefing. The text was obtained by The Associated Press.

    The U.N. team was following up on an earlier discovery of a similar Al Samoud 2 engine in a scrapyard in the Dutch port of Rotterdam. Perricos said inspectors also want to check in Turkey, which has also received scrap metal from Iraq.

    The discoveries raise questions about the fate of material and equipment that could be used to produce biological and chemical weapons as well as banned long-range missiles.

    The missile engines and some other equipment discovered in the scrapyards had been monitored by U.N. inspectors because of their potential dual use in both legitimate civilian activities and banned weapons production.


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    Thursday, June 10, 2004
    Proof that the US is Superior to Canada

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:02 pm

    Can I buy a TiVo box in Canada?

    No. TiVo DVRs are not currently available in Canada.

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    That’s Just Sad, Larry

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:27 pm

    When $1.79/gallon gas looks really cheap, that’s just plain sad-and that was at Sam’s Club (and yes, I know that is really cheap compared to some parts of the country).

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    By Steven Taylor @ 1:37 pm

    For those who might care: No blogging for most of the rest of the day.

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    Images from Yesterday

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:08 am

    UPDATE: Kevin at Wizbang has a similar photo round-up

    UPDATE II: Michael Kantor of Calico Cat displays some of his own photos.

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    “No Democrats Spoke”

    By Steven Taylor @ 7:55 am

    It is apparently required that practically every story on Reagan’s state funeral has to mention that no Democrats spoke at the event. Recognizing that my own partisan point of view could be clouding my assessment, I have to ask as to whether, in the context of a “state” funeral if the issue of party affiliation is the key given that the only persons who spoke last night were all Constitutional officers (the Present Pro Tempore of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the Vice President). I can’t help but think that if the Democrats controlled either chamber of Congress that a Democrat would have spoke. To have one of the Minority Leaders speak doesn’t strike me as appropriate, given that those are overtly partisan offices, not Constitutional ones. Indeed, at one point I thought I heard that Frist was going to speak, and similarly that would have struck me as inappropriate given that the office of Majority Leader is also a party-specific post.

    Further, and this is also key, it is my understanding that the family had a great deal of say, as they should, over the program. Also, according to press accounts, the Capitol Dome service is traditionally a brief one.

    I am not certain of the list of speakers for the service on Friday aside from President Bush.

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    Allawi Doesn’t Back off on his CIA Ties

    By Steven Taylor @ 6:44 am

    Iraq Prime Minister OK Working With CIA

    Allawi was asked by a reporter after a Cabinet meeting whether his Iraqi National Accord movement had ties with American intelligence during the last years of Saddam’s rule.

    “Myself and my organization were part of the Iraqi political movement, the liberation movement of Iraq, and because of our efforts to destabilize the regime of Saddam Hussein we were in touch with a lot of agencies, including the government of the United States, and we were in touch with a lot of intelligence agencies across the world who supported the struggle of the Iraqi people to get rid of Saddam,” Allawi said.

    He said it was necessary for the Iraqi opposition “as a liberation movement to get in touch with these institutions and these governments.”

    “I was the head of the political organization and I was in touch with at least 15 intelligence services across the world and the region so there is not problem there,” he added. “We do not feel ashamed of being in touch … to get rid of the evil regime of Saddam.”

    All quite reasonable.

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    Training Woes in Iraq

    By Steven Taylor @ 6:42 am

    Yahoo! News - U.S. General: Iraq Police Training a Flop

    Misguided U.S. training of Iraqi police contributed to the country’s instability and has delayed getting enough qualified Iraqis on the streets to ease the burden on American forces, the head of armed forces training said Wednesday.

    “It hasn’t gone well. We’ve had almost one year of no progress,” said Army Maj. Gen. Paul D. Eaton, who departs Iraq (news - web sites) next week after spending a year assembling and training the country’s 200,000 army, police and civil defense troops.

    “We’ve had the wrong training focus — on individual cops rather than their leaders,” Eaton said in an interview with The Associated Press.


    Eaton, a plainspoken officer who didn’t shirk responsibility for his role in the problems, said soldiers of Iraq’s 2nd Brigade simply ignored U.S. orders to fight their countrymen.

    “They basically quit. They told us, ‘We’re an army for external defense and you want us to go to Fallujah?’ That was a personal mistake on my part,” Eaton said.

    When the uprising broke out in Fallujah, Eaton said he saw a chance to begin transferring the security mission to Iraqi forces. He agreed to allow the Iraqi army’s just-created 2nd Brigade to take on guerrillas that had seized control of the restive western city.

    “We were premature,” said Eaton, 54, of Weatherford, Okla. “I could have stopped it. I had a bad feeling and I should have acted on it.”

    The lesson learned was that the soldiers needed an Iraqi command hierarchy. Eaton said the soldiers may have battled Fallujah’s Sunni Muslim rebels if Iraqi leaders were spurring them on.


    The desertions could have happened in any country, said Iraqi army Brig. Gen. Khaled al-Sattar, the commander of the army brigade training at the Taji camp.

    “The soldiers didn’t want to fight their own countrymen. Would you?” al-Sattar said as he and Eaton lunched on stewed beef and beans in the base mess hall. “Once there are division commanders and an Iraqi defense minister, the soldiers will start obeying orders because the orders come from an Iraqi leadership.”

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    Pipeline Attacks and Other Unrest in Iraq

    By Steven Taylor @ 6:38 am

    Saboteurs Blow Up Key Iraqi Oil Pipeline

    Saboteurs blew up a key northern oil pipeline Wednesday, forcing a 10 percent cut on the national power grid as demand for electricity rises with the advent of Iraq (news - web sites)’s broiling summer heat.

    Meanwhile, gunfire rang out Wednesday night in the Shiite holy city of Najaf for the first time since an agreement last week to end weeks of bloody fighting between American soldiers and militiamen loyal to radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. Residents said gunmen attacked a police station near the city’s Revolution of 1920 Square, and it appeared American troops were not involved.

    Clashes persisted Wednesday around Fallujah, a rebellious Sunni Muslim city west of Baghdad. Four members of an Iraqi force in charge of the city since April were wounded when a mortar round exploded. 1st Lt. Amer Jassim speculated the attackers were firing at Americans but missed.

    The pipeline blast near Beiji, 155 miles north of Baghdad, was the latest in a series of attacks by insurgents against infrastructure targets, possibly to shake public confidence as a new Iraqi government prepares to take power June 30.

    One would expect that such attempts at destabilization in Iraq qould increase at June 30th approaches. However, the good news is that the establishment of the interim government, the acquisition of the UN resolution, and the disbandment of the party-based militias have already gone a long way towards establishing credibility for the transition, having reduced June 30th to nothing more than a ceremonial date. The insurgents, therefore, are having to play catch-up. And hopefully they have been left so far behind by the almost surprise transition of earlier this month that their ability to disrupt the 30th will be minimal.

    On a more specific note: protecting pipelines is quite difficult-just ask the Colombians.

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    Well, Isn’t that Special?

    By Steven Taylor @ 6:30 am

    Two Are Said to Tell of Libyan Plot to Kill Saudi Ruler

    While the Libyan leader, Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, was renouncing terrorism and negotiating the lifting of sanctions last year, his intelligence chiefs ordered a covert operation to assassinate the ruler of Saudi Arabia and destabilize the oil-rich kingdom, according to statements by two participants in the conspiracy.

    Those participants, Abdurahman Alamoudi, an American Muslim leader now in jail in Alexandria, Va., and Col. Mohamed Ismael, a Libyan intelligence officer in Saudi custody, have given separate statements to American and Saudi officials outlining the plot.

    Mr. Alamoudi, has told Federal Bureau of Investigation officials and federal prosecutors that Colonel Qaddafi approved the assassination plan. Mr. Qaddafi’s son, in an interview in London, called the accusation “nonsense.”

    It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

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    Wednesday, June 9, 2004
    Buckley on Reagan

    By Steven Taylor @ 4:29 pm

    William F. Buckley’s column on Reagan is worth a read-nothing heavy, just some personal memories.

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    More Evidence for the “Less Kerry is Good for Kerry” Hypothesis

    By Steven Taylor @ 3:19 pm

    Kerry has the lead among likely voters

    Democrat John Kerry opened up a 6-point lead over President Bush in a Gallup Poll released Monday. The poll showed Kerry with 50% to Bush’s 44% among people considered likely to vote.

    Of course, is this the best they can manage, a sample of 599?

    The poll of 599 likely voters was taken Thursday-Sunday and had a margin of error of +/-4 percentage points.

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    Let’s Not Go Overboard

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:20 am

    Reuters reports the following:

    Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, a Tennessee Republican, offered amendments on Monday to a defense bill to rename the Pentagon as well as the U.S. Missile Defense Agency after the former president.

    While the idea of putting Reagan on some of the currency has a certain emotional appeal to me, it is likely not the appropriate time to do so, and renaming the Pentagon strikes me as, well, silly.

    Reagan already has the second-largest government building named after him (which has always struck me as an inappropriate tribute to a man who said that government was the problem) as well as DC’s airport and an aircraft carrier (which struck me as a fit tribute), so let’s not get crazy here.

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    • Signifying Nothing linked with Hagiography
    Iraqi President at G8 Meeting

    By Steven Taylor @ 7:48 am

    Interesting: G8 Leaders to Take Measure of Iraqi President

    President Bush, fresh from gaining passage of a critical U.N. resolution on Iraq, introduces the new president of Iraq to fellow leaders at the Group of Eight summit on Wednesday.

    At the same time, G8 negotiators were working to complete the details of an initiative urging Arab and Muslim leaders in the Middle East and North Africa to adopt democratic reforms.

    Iraq’s new president, Ghazi al-Yawar, will make his first entrance on the world stage when he has lunch with Bush and leaders from Afghanistan, Bahrain, Jordan, Tunisia, Turkey and Yemen. He will then be introduced to the other G8 leaders.

    Also noteworthy is how the push to encourage democratic reform in the Middle East continues to creep forward.

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    Possible Trouble in Iraq: Kurdish-Shiite Conflict over Constitution

    By Steven Taylor @ 6:38 am

    Kurds Threaten to Walk Away From Iraqi State

    A crisis for the new Iraqi government loomed Tuesday as Kurdish leaders threatened to withdraw from the Iraqi state unless they received guarantees against Shiite plans to limit Kurdish self-rule.

    In a letter to President Bush this week, the two main Kurdish leaders, Massoud Barzani and Jalal Talabani, wrote that the Kurds would “refrain from participating in the central government” in Baghdad if any attempt was made by the new government to nullify the interim Iraqi constitution adopted in March.

    Shiite leaders have said repeatedly in recent weeks that they intend to remove parts of the interim constitution that essentially grant the Kurds veto power over the permanent constitution, which is scheduled to be drafted and ratified next year.

    This is not an especially surprising development, and is one that can be solved politically, although it remains to be seen if it will be. I have thought from the beginning that some sort of federalism was at least part of the solution for this problem, likely along with some sort of proportional representation electoral system to guarantee that all voices would be heard in the new government. Such a system could be designed to filter out extremely small, and likely fringe, parties (indeed, most PR systems do that to one degree or another-it just depends on the formula one uses). Indeed, may be a system like Germany’s would make sense for Iraq (but I am now “thinking out loud"-not having given the precise type of system that would be suitable much consideration beyond the basics).

    UPDATE: James Joyner makes a similar point.

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    This Just in: Coca Farmers are Adaptable

    By Steven Taylor @ 6:30 am

    Hide-and-Seek Among the Coca Leaves

    Consider recent production figures. American estimates peg potential cocaine production in the Andes at 835 metric tons, down from the 2001 high of 1,155. But that level remains nearly as high as in the 1990’s, when the bustling cocaine trade prompted President Bill Clinton to embark on the biggest military buildup in the Andes ever, called Plan Colombia.

    The amount of cocaine produced here is, in fact, more than enough to satisfy demand in the United States, estimated at 250 to 300 metric tons annually, and in the rest of the world, for that matter. One result is that on American streets, the price of cocaine remains low - just $20,000 in New York for a kilogram, 2.2 pounds - and the purity level remains high, what drug experts say are indicators of a perfectly healthy business.


    The overall decline in coca in Colombia and the rest of the Andes is indisputable, and the strategy appears to have controlled the so-called balloon effect: the recurring phenomenon that once saw huge fields of coca pop up in one region after being stamped out in another.

    But if the eradication program is so successful, why is production still booming, albeit at somewhat reduced levels? Because, as a generation of anti-drug warriors has learned, nothing in the war on drugs is straightforward; every seeming victory comes with an unintended consequence.

    In Colombia, that lesson is never more true than in places like the national park in the Sierra Nevada, just east of Santa Marta, where the world’s tallest coastal mountain range has recently seen the emergence of tiny tracts of coca in its gullies and valleys.

    It is a sign, drug experts say, that instead of the balloon effect, what is happening is the atomization of drug farms into numerous small plots, often in isolated spots that would be hard, if not impossible, to spray. Perhaps 25,000 acres of coca, nearly 10 percent of Colombia’s crop, have been planted recently in state parks and in the vast Amazonian region once thought too remote for coca cultivation and cocaine trafficking.

    “What we have is an enormous fragmentation,” said Sandro Calvini, director of the United Nations Drug Control Program in Bogot�, which tracks spraying efforts and tries to prod coca farmers into farming legal crops. “It’s hard to detect, and it’s obvious they are looking for areas that are hard to detect.”

    All of which continues to beg the question: are we getting our money’s worth in the “War on Drugs"? To spend $3.2 billion in less than four years to have supply remain stable, purity high and the price come down stikes me inefficacious public policy.

    And, not surprisingly, there is substanstial innovation on the part of the producers:

    In the past, growers have shown great skill in creating coca plants resistant to chemicals and adaptable to difficult climates. Now, drug experts say, they are busy developing new strains of coca, yielding more cocaine from fewer plants.

    “They’re going for varieties that will yield very quickly, lots of leaves per bush, more bushes per hectare, more alkaloids in the leaves,” said Adam Isacson, who closely tracks counternarcotics efforts for the Washington-based Center for International Policy and in April met with small-town officials throughout two of Colombia’s main coca-growing provinces. “It’s small, scattered, and people are getting better at growing in the shade.”

    The story also notes that while demand has declined in the US, cocaine traffickers have made substantial headways into the Brazilian market.

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    Tuesday, June 8, 2004

    By Steven Taylor @ 7:53 pm

    Interesting: Kerry Seeks Columns From Iowa Governor

    Aides to presidential candidate John Kerry have asked for hundreds of newspaper columns written by Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack, one of the Democrats whose backgrounds are being checked as Kerry ponders a running mate.

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    Blogad Observation

    By Steven Taylor @ 7:50 pm

    I have only had BlogAds on my site for less than a month, but have happily sold a few ads (although the Premium Space is available-hint, hint). One thing that I have noticed that is interesting: the appearance of the ad itself seems to do more for click-throughs than does the positioning of the ad. The more intriguing the graphic, the more likely to get the clicks it would seem. The more staid/mundane ads seem to do less well. Something to keep in mind should I ever buy ads on another site/a bit of advice for anyone who is thinking about using BlogAds.

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    Resolution Passes 15-0

    By Steven Taylor @ 4:28 pm

    U.N. Endorses Iraq Sovereignty Transfer

    The U.N. Security Council gave a resounding 15-0 endorsement Tuesday to a U.S. resolution backing the transfer of sovereignty to Iraq’s new government 14 months after the fall of Saddam Hussein. President Bush predicted the measure would instill democracy and be a “catalyst for change” in the Middle East.

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    • Outside the Beltway linked with U.N. Endorses Iraq Sovereignty Transfer
    • Outside the Beltway linked with Beltway Traffic Jam
    Ted Rall Must be a Very Unhappy Man

    By Steven Taylor @ 3:36 pm

    Ted Rall must be one of the angriest and most bitter men in the Western Hemisphere. I will give him credit, however, he is honest in his contempt of Reagan. The intro paragraph is remarkable:

    For a few weeks, it became routine. I heard them dragging luggage down the hall. They paused in a little lounge near the dormitory elevator to bid farewell to people they’d met during their single semester. Those I knew knocked on my door. “What are you going to do?” I asked. “Where are you going to go?” A shrug. They were eighteen years old and their bright futures had evaporated. They had worked hard in junior and senior high school, harder than most, but none of that mattered now. President Reagan, explained the form letters from the Office of Financial Aid, had slashed the federal education budget. Which is why the same grim tableau of shattered hopes and dreams was playing itself out across the country. Colleges and universities were evicting their best and brightest, straight A students, stripping them of scholarships. Some transferred to less-expensive community colleges; others dropped into the low-wage workforce. Now, nearly a quarter century later, they are still less financially secure and less educated than they should have been. Our nation is poorer for having denied them their potential.

    Please. He makes it sounds as if the universities were flushing students left and right from school. Not to mention the fact that it is possible to acquire loans, not to mention it is possible to work and pay for college. And I was in college during part of the Reagan era and I hardly recall the inability of people to go to school. Indeed, my classes were pretty crowded.

    Ted Rall clearly lives in Bizarro World:

    They were by no means the hardest-hit victims of Reaganism. Reagan’s quack economists trashed scholarships and turned welfare recipients into homeless people and refused to do anything about the AIDS (news - web sites) epidemic, all so they could fund extravagant tax cuts for a tiny sliver of the ultra rich. Their supply-side sales pitch, that the rich would buy so much stuff from everybody else that the economy would boom and government coffers would fill up, never panned out. The Reagan boom lasted just three years and created only low-wage jobs. When the ’80s were over, we were buried in the depths of recession and a trillion bucks in debt. Poverty grew, cities decayed, crime rose. It took over a decade to dig out.

    Yes, I know: I shouldn’t read Rall. I guess morbid curiosity got the best of me.

    At least it isn’t as bad as the Tillman piece. This, at least, reflects the attitudes of many on the Left in the 1980s: Reagan as the scourge of the poor, Reagan as the propagator of AIDS, Reagan as the creator of the homeless, etc. All the 1980 clichés are in this piece. Oh, the gloom, oh, the doom:

    Millions of Americans cringed at Reagan’s simplistic rhetoric, were terrified that his anti-Soviet “evil empire” posturing would provoke World War III, and thought that his appeal to selfishness and greed-a bastardized blend of Adam Smith and Ayn Rand-brought out the worst in us. We rolled our eyes when Reagan quipped “There you go again"; what the hell did that mean? Given that he made flying a living hell (by firing the air traffic controllers and regulating the airlines), I’m not the only one who refuses to call Washington National Airport by its new name. His clown-like dyed hair and rouged cheeks disgusted us. We hated him during the dark days he made so hideous, and, with all due respect, we hate him still.

    He also goes on to blame Reagan for 911.

    How did this guy get a column? And if he can get a syndication deal, perhaps I can as well.

    UPDATE: This post is part of today’s Beltway Traffic Jam

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    • The Galvin Opinion linked with DON'T LET THE BASTARDS GET YOU DOWN
    • Ted Rall Is Full Of Crap linked with Powerline vs. Rall
    UN Resolution on Iraq Set to Pass

    By Steven Taylor @ 3:17 pm

    U.N. Set for Unanimous Vote on Iraq Resolution

    The U.N. Security Council headed for a unanimous vote on Tuesday in favor of a U.S.-British resolution on Iraq’s future after last-minute changes on military policy met demands by France and Germany.


    The resolution, which has had four revisions, gives the Iraqi interim government the right to order U.S. troops to leave Iraq and makes clear the mandate of the multinational force would expire in January 2006, when a permanent Iraqi government is expected to take office.

    The most contentious issue is how much control Baghdad’s new leaders would have over major U.S.-run military operations. The United States pledged “partnership” but did not agree to a veto by an Iraqi government over major military offensives as France, Germany, Algeria and others wanted..

    Instead, U.S. officials late on Monday to added a paragraph to the resolution summing up an exchange of letters between Powell and Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi.

    The letters pledged that the American commander and Iraqi leaders would consult and coordinate “fundamental security and policy issues including policy on sensitive offensive operations” through a new security committee Allawi chairs.

    But the letters do not spell out what happens in case of a disagreement, prompting France, Germany, Algeria and others to propose Iraq had the right to block a major U.S. campaign.

    Of course precisely why the Frence, et al. felt it necessary to play the military veto game is beyond me. Regardless, the symbolism of a UN resolution is useful and therefore a positive step.

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    Good Deal: Hostages Freed

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:06 am

    U.S.-Led Forces Rescue Italians, Pole Held in Iraq

    U.S.-led forces freed three Italians and a Pole held hostage in Iraq in a rescue Tuesday that Italy said involved no deal with their kidnappers.

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    Adios Corday

    By Steven Taylor @ 7:38 am

    “ER” Cans Dr. Corday

    British actress Alex Kingston will hang up her scrubs, tossed off ER, she says, to allow room for new blood.

    Kingston told her home country’s Radio Times magazine that she’s been shown the door after seven-plus years of surgery and romance on the NBC medical series because “apparently I, according to the producers and the writers, am part of the old fogies who are no longer interesting.”

    She’s 41.

    man, has she really been on for over seven years? She still seems like one of the “new” characters.

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    Karzai and the Warlords

    By Steven Taylor @ 6:31 am

    (Kind of sounds like the title of a Klingon sitcom).

    Karzai Shows He’ll Cast Lot With a Corps of Warlords

    President Hamid Karzai has accepted the support of powerful mujahedeen leaders for the presidential elections scheduled for September, indicating he will continue an alliance with them in a future government. His move has dismayed many Afghans who were hoping that the nation’s first democratic elections would herald an end to the power of the warlords, who have dominated politics for the past decade.

    Mr. Karzai is far and away the leading candidate to win a five-year term as president, with Afghanistan’s first pre-election opinion survey putting his approval rating at 85 percent. The leaders of the powerful Northern Alliance faction have already said they will not field a candidate and will support Mr Karzai, who is scheduled to meet with American soldiers at Fort Drum, N.Y., on Tuesday to personally thank them for their help in Afghanistan.

    Mr. Karzai met last Thursday with the former president and leader of the Jamiat-e-Islami party, Burhanuddin Rabbani; the leader of the Ittehad-e-Islami, Abdul Rasul Sayyaf; and with some of the most powerful mujahedeen commanders, including Gov. Ismail Khan of Herat Province. All pledged support for him. The education minister, Yunus Qanooni, also publicly expressed his support this week. The defense minister, Marshal Muhammad Qasim Fahim, and four other important Pashtun mujahedeen party leaders have done the same, presidential aides said.


    Technocrats in the government, who have battled with the mujahedeen leaders to push through reforms, particularly in the areas of disarmament and reform of the police, military and intelligence service, expressed their concern that without a genuine popular mandate, the future president would not be able to achieve much change.

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    The Transit Begins

    By Steven Taylor @ 6:21 am

    Here’s a pic. Pretty nifty.

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    Madrid Bombing Suspect Arrested in Italy

    By Steven Taylor @ 6:20 am

    Arrested Man Was Planning More Attacks-Italy Minister

    One of three men arrested in Italy on suspicion of international terrorism is believed to be one of the “principle executors” of the Madrid bombings and was planning other attacks, Italy’s interior minister said on Tuesday.

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    Monday, June 7, 2004
    Where Has All the Romance Gone?

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:35 pm

    Bookies Offer 3-1 Odds on Quick End to J-Lo Marriage

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    He Must Be Trying to Get “Street Cred”

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:35 pm

    Ex-’Baywatch’ Star Hasselhoff Arrested.

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    Progress in Iraq

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:34 pm

    Nine Iraqi Parties to Disband Militias

    Iraq’s new prime minister announced an agreement Monday by nine political parties to dissolve their militias, integrating some of the estimated 102,000 fighters into the army and police and pensioning off the rest to firm up government control ahead of the transfer of sovereignty.


    Most of the militias covered by the agreement were organized to fight Saddam. Under the program, the estimated 102,000 fighters will be treated as veterans � eligible for government benefits including pensions and job placement programs depending on their time in service.

    Others, including the peshmerga fighters of the two main Kurdish parties � the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan and the Kurdish Democratic Party � will be integrated into the police, army and border security force. Officials of both parties are members of the new government.

    This strikes me as good news and substantial progress.

    This, however, does not surprise me:

    The plan does not cover the most important militia fighting coalition forces � the al-Mahdi Army of radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr � or smaller groups that have sprouted across the country since the collapse of Saddam Hussein’s regime in April 2003.

    Indeed, not only would I not expect it, I wouldn’t want them to be integrated. Not only has the main fighting force been decimated, they are essentially criminals:

    Al-Sadr’s al-Mahdi Army was excluded because it did not want “to work within the political system, within the political process,” one coalition official said on condition of anonymity.

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    Things Joe Carter Didn’t Know About Reagan

    By Steven Taylor @ 7:42 pm

    Here’s his list.

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    The Real Significance of Party Platforms

    By Steven Taylor @ 4:51 pm

    Kevin Drum is quite concerned about the Texas GOP platform. I can’t disagree with him that there are elements of it that I find to be a bit much. However, I tend not to take party platforms very seriously, and I take state-level platforms even less seriously. Who, I ask, is actually bound by these documents (Republican or Democrat)? Really, platform-writing is mostly an act of political self-gratification that has little practical outcome or effect.

    Along those lines I found this formulation by Kevin to be amusing. He quotes the Texas GOP platform as saying:

    Any person filing as a Republican candidate for a public or Party office shall be provided a current copy of the Party platform at the time of filing. The candidate shall be asked to read and initial each page of the platform and sign a statement affirming he/she has read the entire platform.

    Which he translates as:

    We are dead serious about all this.

    Quite ominous, no?

    However, note that the text he quotes states “shall be asked” not “shall be required.” And what, might I ask, is the sanction that the Texas GOP can bring down on the heads of those who either refuse to sign, or do so and don’t follow-through in the campaign on in office? Well, as one who studies political parties let me tell you: nothing.

    You want evidence? Tell me which of the items on the list are actually being vigorously pursued by Texas Republicans. Precious few, and even if one argues that they are seeking to abolish abortion, I would note that they haven’t been all that successful. Indeed, if one pays attention to such things there is only one time that one ever hears about party platforms, and that is when they are written. After that they are filed away and mostly, if not completely, ignored.

    I would also note that no doubt a Republican or other Right-oriented person could similarly compile a list from some state-level Democratic Party platform and also seek a call to arms to those on the Right (as Drum does for the Left).

    But, really, these documents are practically meaningless. Parties don’t control candidates, rather candidates control their own campaigns and party elites have very little ability to sanction or control their “members” (which I put in quotes quite deliberately).

    And as James Joyner notes, the reality of American politics is that there is actually a great deal of moderation between the fantasies of platform writers and actual political campaigns and governance.

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    Hitchens on Reagan

    By Steven Taylor @ 2:57 pm

    If you want a break from all the Reagan-praise, you can readNot Even a Hedgehog - The stupidity of Ronald Reagan. By Christopher Hitchens. If anything, Hitchens’ piece reminds me more of the attitude of the Left vis-a-vis Reagan during the 1980s than what I have been seeing on TV this weekend.

    Indeed, Slate is no pro-Reagan fest today.

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    • The Galvin Opinion linked with RONALD REAGAN WAS MY FIRST POLITICAL HERO
    • The Galvin Opinion linked with RONALD REAGAN WAS MY FIRST POLITICAL HERO
    Not Just the Government to Close

    By Steven Taylor @ 11:58 am

    James Joyner noted earlier that the government would be closed down on Friday to honor Reagan. Now Wall Street follows suit: NYSE, Nasdaq to Close Friday for Reagan.

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    An Amusing Blast from the Past

    By Steven Taylor @ 11:42 am

    This is only funny if you remember Staubach, the 1980 campaign, and especially President Carter’s reference to discussing nuclear proliferation with his young daughter, Amy:

    Roger Staubach, the Dallas Cowboy quarterback turned sports commentator, angered supporters of President Carter yesterday with a comment about Staubach’s daughter, who, like the President’s daughter, is named Amy.

    During the Cowboys’ game in St. Louis against the Cardinals, which was televised back to Dallas, the sports broadcaster Frank Gleiber encouraged Staubach, the telecast’s color man, to discuss how best to stop the Cardinal offense. ‘’In fact, I talked to my daughter, Amy, this morning about it,'’ Staubach said, ‘’and she said the No. 1 problem was the bomb.'’

    The remark was similar to one that the President made during his debate against Ronald Reagan last week regarding his daughter’s fears about nuclear proliferation.

    Staubach, a Reagan supporter, explained that his daughter was referring to a different kind of bomb - the long touchdown pass, which Mel Gray of the Cardinals is proficient at catching.

    Many angered Carter supporters called CBS to complain, and network sports officials called the press booth to tell Staubach to refrain from political remarks.

    Staubach, reached at home after the game, said he didn’t have sympathy for those who were hot about his remark. ‘’Good for them,'’ he said. ‘’I've been hot about Carter for four years.'’

    Source: The NYT, 11/4/80.

    A follow-up piece in the NYT on 11/9/80 has the following:

    When the news of the remark reached the White House, a Carter aide phoned CBS to demand that Staubach apologize.

    ‘’You’re having enough trouble with Reagan,'’ a CBS executive suggested. ‘’Do you want to take on Staubach, too?'’ Quickly, the Carter aide backed off. But shortly after Roger Staubach returned to his suburban Dallas home Sunday night, his phone rang. A reporter for The Dallas Morning News informed him that their switchboard operators had received what were described as ‘’irate'’ calls.

    ‘’You’ve got to be kidding me,'’ Staubach said. ‘’Are people really that sensitive?'’ In the middle of page one the next day, The Dallas Morning News had a short story headlined, ‘’Staubach Hurls TV Bomb.'’ That day the Cowboys’ switchboard handled 21 phone calls from viewers - 13 critical of Staubach, eight supporting him. His real-estate office handled about 20 phone calls that day, ‘’most of them supportive,'’ his secretary, Roz Cole, reports. In the days that followed, his office also received 24 letters - 21 for him, 3 criticizing him, Mrs. Cole says. But as an ex-quarterback who always knew how to scramble, Roger Staubach did not run out of bounds.

    ‘’My daughter Amy,'’ he has been saying all week, ‘’knows as much about football as Amy Carter does about nuclear proliferation.'’

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    More from 1987

    By Steven Taylor @ 11:29 am

    From Maclean’s, June 22, 1987:

    Reagan’s visit to West Berlin was his second in five years. Like the previous one, it was marked by anti-U.S. demonstrations. On the night before his arrival, 20,000 demonstrators marched through the city’s fashionable Kurfurstendamm and the slum district of Kreuzberg to protest his visit and U.S. policy in Central America. The march turned violent when black-clad anarchists began throwing stones and fire bombs and were confronted by police in riot gear, who wielded batons and shot off tear gas.

    Afterward, police banned rallies that had been planned for the following day. They cordoned off large sections of the city and deployed mounted police, helicopters and even frogmen, who explored the depths of the Spree River near the Brandenburg Gate. And Reagan, who did not wear a bulletproof vest as he had on his last visit to the city, made his rounds in an armored limousine flown in specially from Washington. Still, clashes continued and police arrested a total of 250 demonstrators.

    It is noteworthy that Bush isn’t the first US President to be labeled a “cowboy", to be seen as a threat to world peace, or demonstrated against in Europe.

    The deployment of the Pershing II missiles in West Germany (back when one had to designate “East” and “West") caused quite the stir and a substantial amount of anti-American protest.

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    More Looking Back at 1987

    By Steven Taylor @ 11:12 am

    Walter McDougall wrote the following in an LAT on 6/25/88:

    Yet the conservative notion of “real change” in the Soviet Union is, it seems to me, just as dreamy. The old Reagan cried in Berlin, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” and said that we will know that “real change” is occurring when the Soviets pull out of Poland, Afghanistan, Nicaragua, etc. But the Soviet Union, its communism notwithstanding, is a great power with global interests and prestige to protect. The Soviets may indeed evacuate Afghanistan, sell out the Sandinistas, reduce their nuclear arsenal. If so, it will only mean that they have made some hard choices about what is in their strategic interest-and they will expect reciprocation from us. Great powers are all hawks. Sometimes they act like ostriches (a favorite American habit), but they cannot turn into doves without abdicating their status as great power. And, given that military might is the only measure that makes the Soviet Union great today (its gross national product reportedly has dropped below that of Japan), it is hard to imagine any Soviet leader benignly dismantling his army, rocket force or empire.

    In any case, temporary Soviet retreats do not necessarily signify the end of world rivalry. Leninist doctrine obliges Soviet leaders to obey, with ruthless objectivity, the correlation of forces. Sometimes that correlation dictates a policy of “fall back to leap ahead.” That policy is as old as March, 1918, when Lenin ordered his fellow Bolsheviks to swallow the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk with the Kaiser’s Germany. He surrendered half of European Russia, but he got out of World War I and saved the revolution. Similar peace offensives, including the 1939 Nazi-Soviet pact and the 1940 nonaggression pact with Japan, have characterized Soviet policy whenever the correlation of forces seemed contrary. Why should any great power act otherwise?

    So, what would be the signs of “real change” in the Soviet Union, real openness or restructuring of a kind that might truly alter the climate of diplomacy over the long haul? There are three such signs to look and hope and (if you’re so inclined) pray for. The first is the permitting of free labor unions in the satellites and in the Soviet Union itself. For this would be an admission by the Communist Party that it is not, by definition, the vanguard and savior of the working class. The second is a genuinely free press. For this would be an admission by the Communist Party that it does not have a monopoly on truth. The third is genuinely free exercise of religion. For this would be an admission that state power-the sanction of life and death-is not necessarily the highest authority in human life. To be sure, religious zeal carries its own political dangers. But a people that knows there are fates worse than death-a people that knows there are loves greater than the love of self-can never be enslaved.

    So let’s not be too eager to proclaim “real change” in the Soviet Union, nor bargain away real security values in hopes of encouraging reform. Gamblers call that betting on the come. But let’s not pressure the Kremlin to “move faster,” either. If Gorbachev is sincere, he’s probably doing the best he can already. Patience is prudence when dealing with spirits. Sooner or later they’ll reveal themselves. We shall know them by their fruits.

    Clealry this was the prevailing view at the time and no one really predicted what was coming. It is, nonetheless, remarkable to look back and see where we were not all that long ago.

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    Noonan on Reagan

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:57 am

    Thanks From a Grateful Country

    In his presidency he did this: He out-argued communism and refused to accept its claim of moral superiority; he rallied the West, rallied America and continued to make big gambles, including a defense-spending increase in a recession. He promised he’d place Pershings in Europe if the Soviets would not agree to arms reductions, and told Soviet leaders that they’d never be able to beat us in defense, that we’d spend them into the ground. They were suddenly reasonable.

    Ronald Reagan told the truth to a world made weary by lies. He believed truth was the only platform on which a better future could be built. He shocked the world when he called the Soviet Union “evil,” because it was, and an “empire,” because it was that, too. He never stopped bringing his message to the people of the world, to Europe and China and in the end the Soviet Union. And when it was over, the Berlin Wall had been turned into a million concrete souvenirs, and Soviet communism had fallen. But of course it didn’t fall. It was pushed. By Mr. Know Nothing Cowboy Gunslinger Dimwit. All presidents should be so stupid.

    He pushed down income taxes too, from a high of 70% when he entered the White House to a new low of 28% when he left, igniting the long boom that, for all its ups and downs, is with us still. He believed, as JFK did, that a rising tide lifts all boats. He did much more, returning respect to our armed forces, changing 50-year-old assumptions about the place of government and the place of the citizen in the new America.

    What an era his was. What a life he lived. He changed history for the better and was modest about it. He didn’t bray about his accomplishments but saw them as the work of the American people. He did not see himself as entitled, never demanded respect, preferred talking to hotel doormen rather than State Department functionaries because he thought the doormen brighter and more interesting. When I pressed him once, a few years out of the presidency, to say what he thought the meaning of his presidency was, he answered, reluctantly, that it might be fairly said that he “advanced the boundaries of freedom in a world more at peace with itself.” And so he did. And what could be bigger than that?

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    Then Again, Maybe Not…

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:32 am

    A column by Jim Hoagland in WaPo from June 19, 1987 entitled “The Pope’s Politics” which comments on Regan’s Berlin Wall speech demonstrates the perils of punditry:

    History is likely to record the challenge to tear down the wall as a meaningless taunt, delivered as a grand gesture that was not conceived as part of a coherent policy. The Reagan administration, heading into a summit with a clever and manipulative Soviet leader, continues to be unwilling to put in the kind of hard work and steady attention that John Paul devotes to the same set of problems.

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    New CotC

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:08 am

    And its at The Window Manager.

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    It’s Good to Know he isn’t Bitter

    By Steven Taylor @ 7:41 am

    Gore Calls Fla. Mayor ‘Dishonest’

    Al Gore harshly criticized U.S. Senate candidate Alex Penelas, saying his fellow Democrat was “the single most treacherous and dishonest person” he dealt with during the disputed 2000 presidential campaign. The former presidential candidate’s comments came in response to questions from The Miami Herald about Penelas’ role in the 2002 election and the current Senate race. The comments were published in the Herald’s Sunday editions.

    Although a Democrat, Penelas is mayor of a largely Republican county.

    Fellow Democrats attacked him for not aggressively supporting Gore during the campaign and especially during the controversial recounts in many counties � including in Miami-Dade � that led to Bush’s victory after narrowly winning Florida.

    “One of the other candidates in this race became in 2000 the single most treacherous and dishonest person I dealt with during the campaign anywhere in America,” Gore told the newspaper after praising Penelas’ opponent, U.S. Rep. Peter Deutsch.

    Penelas is not mentioned by name in the statement. But a Gore aide confirmed Sunday he was not referring to former state education commissioner Betty Castor, considered the only other viable Democratic candidate.

    “Not all who claim to have been supportive and loyal truly were,” Gore said.

    Even if true, this statement is perhaps not wise, as Gore is currently cultivating a public image of a bitter and angry man, which isn’t helpful to hiim or to those he supports.

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    More Troop Moves

    By Steven Taylor @ 6:34 am

    U.S. Plans to Cut Troops in S.Korea by a Third

    The United States plans to cut its troops in South Korea by a third by the end of next year, part of a worldwide shift to use of higher technology in defense, the two countries said Monday.

    Although communist North Korea’s 1.1-million-strong armed forces dwarf the U.S. contingent of 37,500 troops, any reduction is closely watched because its symbolic deterrent value outweighs its numerical strength. Ally South Korea has 690,000 troops.

    “U.S. officials told us last night that under their Global Defense Posture Review they are planning to reduce the number of U.S. troops here by 12,500 by the end of December 2005,” Kim Sook, head of the ministry’s North America bureau, told reporters.

    That would include 3,600 U.S. soldiers already earmarked for deployment to Iraq from South Korea.

    This makes sense in ways similar to the announced moves for Germany. Granted, the North Koreans are a legitimate threat, but as the numbers note, there aren’t enough ground troops to hold off an invasion, were one coming. And if war is ever fought with the North, our strategy will hardly be man-to-man on the ground.

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    Reagan and ‘04

    By Steven Taylor @ 6:29 am

    There is something to this: Reagan Legacy Looming Large Over Campaign

    “Americans are going to be focused on President Reagan for the next week,” said Ed Gillespie, the Republican national chairman. “The parallels are there. I don’t know how you miss them.”

    Even some Democrats said they were concerned that the death of Mr. Reagan would provide a welcome, if perhaps temporary, tonic for a president who had been going through tough political times.

    “I’ve been dreading this every election year for three cycles,” said Jim Jordan, Mr. Kerry’s former campaign manager. “Bush has totally attached himself to Ronald Reagan. He’s going to turn Reagan into his own verifier.”


    Some Republicans said the images of a forceful Mr. Reagan giving dramatic speeches on television provided a less-than-welcome contrast with Mr. Bush’s own appearances these days, and that it was not in Mr. Bush’s interest to encourage such comparisons. That concern was illustrated on Sunday, one Republican said, by televised images of Mr. Reagan’s riveting speech in Normandy commemorating D-Day in 1984, followed by Mr. Bush’s address at a similar ceremony on Sunday.

    “Reagan showed what high stature that a president can have � and my fear is that Bush will look diminished by comparison,” said one Republican sympathetic to Mr. Bush, who did not want to be quoted by name criticizing the president.

    Another senior Republican expressed concern that by identifying too closely with Mr. Reagan, Mr. Bush risked running a campaign that looked to the past, which this adviser described as a recipe for a loss.

    Clearly this is all true: there are elements of Bush’s presidency that do parallel Reagan’s and such comparisons will redound to his favor-especially amongst the conservative base that Bush needs to energize. However, one-to-one comparisons could leave Bush lacking, especially since the images of Reagan this week will be of the most complimentary nature.

    It does push Kerry off the stage, although in the past that has been to his favor (and no, I am not being sarcastic). However, in this case I am not certain it will work out that way. The Reagan tributes will stir patriotic feelings and generally pro-presidency ones as well. Bush, as both the sitting President and arguably Reagan’s political heir, will receive some bounce from all of that. Plus, between the up-coming economic summit and the official state funeral and such, Bush will have numerous opportunities to look “presidential” in the coming days, while Kerry will be in the background. Barring especially bad news from Iraq, one would expect Bush to gain some political ground this week, even if it is a temporary gain-on that count we shall see.

    Certainly one can expect a great deal of legitimate Reagan-praise at the Republican Convention in New York.

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    Sunday, June 6, 2004
    The “Amiable Dunce” Comment

    By Steven Taylor @ 7:38 pm

    Watching the coverage of Reagan’s death has sparked a number of observations and thoughts, one of which is that the press seems to have forgotten how critical of Reagan they were, and the degree to which Reagan was the subject of a great deal of criticism from the Left. It was with some bemusement that I watched Karen Tumulty, National Politlcal Correspondent for Time, on Lou Dobbs’ show this afternoon speak about the1980s as if they had been the Golden Age of Bipartisanship-something it hardly was.

    There is more to say on that topic, but it has been a busy weekend and I am tired. Needless to say, however, that some are, shall we say, mis-remembering the 1980s a tad.

    All of this also sparked my curiosity as to the origins of the assignation “Amiable Dunce” given to President Reagan. Here’s the tale for any who are interested:

    Tape talk in political Washington yesterday included a recorded dinner party at Averell and Pamela Harriman’s house, embarrassing portions of which turned up on the front page of The Wall Street Journal. This may be as awful as it gets for a member of Georgetown’s most inside circle.

    “I am just mortified,” said Pamela Harriman. “This has never happened in our house before. We’ve always trusted people, and people have always trusted us . . . be sorry for me.”

    The party, held on Sept. 15 in the Harrimans’ home, which is decorated with precious art and antiques, was one in a series of gatherings of “Democrats for the ’80s.” It’s a political action committee that raises money to try to rekindle the Democratic Party. The less reverent refer to it as “PamPac.”

    Every few weeks, Pamela Harriman, the English aristocrat married to the Democratic elder statesman, invites leading Democrats over for wine, dinner and often morose conversation about the future of the nation under the Republicans. Afterward, someone usually asks the guests for contributions.

    This is not just any political fund-raiser. Rather, it is a salon where volatile comments are muffled by the privacy that the rich can afford. But on this night, Washington superlawyer Clark Clifford asserted, according to the story by James M. Perry of The Journal, that Ronald Reagan is “an amiable dunce” whose policies will be “a hopeless failure.”

    Clifford was reported to be fuming at this breach of privacy.

    Source: “The Harriman Tapes; PAC of Trouble When Inside Story Got Out; Tape Talk” WaPo, October 9, 1981, C1.

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    Will on Reagan

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:35 am

    George Will’s column on Reagan in today’s WaPo (An Optimist’s Legacy) is worth a read:

    One measure of a leader’s greatness is this: By the time he dies the dangers that summoned him to greatness have been so thoroughly defeated, in no small measure by what he did, it is difficult to recall the magnitude of those dangers or of his achievements. So if you seek Ronald Reagan’s monument, look around and consider what you do not see.

    The Iron Curtain that scarred a continent is gone, as is the Evil Empire responsible for it. The feeling of foreboding - the sense of shrunken possibilities - that afflicted Americans 20 years ago has been banished by a new birth of the American belief in perpetually expanding horizons.

    Indeed and indeed.

    He is quite right, too: we have already forgotten both the pessimism of the late 70s and early 80s and the looming threat of nuclear war under which we lived for so long. To describe the Cold War to my students is almost like telling some sort of fairy story-most really don’t get it, as it lacks reality to them.

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    Saturday, June 5, 2004
    President Bush on President Reagan’s Passing

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:12 pm

    President Bush’s statement today regarding the passing of President Reagan was both eloquent and touching:

    Ronald Reagan won America’s respect with his greatness, and won its love with his goodness. He had the confidence that comes with conviction, the strength that comes with character, the grace that comes with humility, and the humor that comes with wisdom. He leaves behind a nation he restored and a world he helped save.

    During the years of President Reagan, America laid to rest an era of division and self-doubt. And because of his leadership, the world laid to rest an era of fear and tyranny. Now, in laying our leader to rest, we say thank you.

    He always told us that for America, the best was yet to come. We comfort ourselves in the knowledge that this is true for him, too. His work is done, and now a shining city awaits him. May God bless Ronald Reagan.


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    Ronald Reagan, 1911-2004

    By Steven Taylor @ 7:50 pm

    We went to an air show to see the Air Force’s Thunderbirds at Maxwell AFB here in Montgomery, and after that we were at a local pizza place that had two TV’s going: one had whatever big horse race that was taking place today on it, the other had the news. I looked up and noticed that George Stephanopoulos was on, which struck me as odd, given that it was Saturday night. The sound was off, and I couldn’t see the closed-captioning at the bottom from where I was sitting. I got up to see what might be up to have called Stephy in early. At first I couldn’t tell, and then they flashed a picture of Reagan with Nancy. The closed captioning was about Nancy as First Lady and there was some ref to the Bush administration. For a moment they seemed simply to be talking about the political roles of First Ladies. However, that hardly seemed Earth-shattering-the idea that it might be about Reagan’s death was in my mind, but there was no confirmation. I then sat back down, but kept glancing at the screen and then they starting showing a ton of Reagan footage. I got back up and tried to read the CC again, and then it was clear: Ronald Reagan was dead.

    While it is clearly the case that his death is no doubt a relief in many ways to his family-having seen the first-hand effects of Alzheimer’s on a loved one, I can personally attest to this fact. Still, it is a sad day to know that he has finally departed.
    Further, it has always struck me as extremely sad for the country that we, the citizens of America, have been denied access to a man who was, in my opinion, one of our great presidents, for over a decade because of the horrible disease that afflicted him.

    There is much to say about Reagan, and no doubt much ink will be spilled over the next week on this topic, and I suspect I will have more to say later. But it is worth clearly stating that he deserves far and away the lion’s share of the credit for winning the Cold War. This is a feat of gargantuan proportions, and alone makes him one of the greatest presidents of all time.

    Eerily, I had read this post just this morning at Dean’s World by Joe Gandelman, noting that Reagan had taken a turn for the worst. It was somewhat unreal to have been thinking about this in passing just this morning, only to have him pass the same day.

    Speaking of Joe, he has a nice round-up of news links about Reagan
    s death at Dean’s World, which includes a touching note from Dean Esmay. Further, Joe and Kevin at Wizbang have one of the great Reagan photos-and fitting one to post today, I think. Furter, James Joyner has an extensive round-up and a number of very nice pictures.

    A truly great American has passed.

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    Limbaugh’s Web Staff, “Research,” and Citation

    By Steven Taylor @ 11:02 am

    Kevin Alyward notes that the web team at don’t understand common courtesy/the basic rules of citation. In this case they have used scans from Jessica’s Well without attribution.

    Indeed, whoever does the web work over there is a bit sloppy on their web research. Clearly what they do is do web searches as if that is actual research, and once finding something they like, go with it without fully source-checking or paying attention to e-mails about what they have posted.

    Another case in point was the PoliBlog: FDR and the “Remember Pearl Harbor” Button, which they found online and posted on their web site (and used on the air) as an example of FDR using Pearl Harbor as a campaign issue. Ends up (as a grad student of mine found out) that the button wasn’t a button, and didn’t come from the FDR campaign-although it was an authentic item (go read the post, it is actually an interesting story).

    I e-mail Limbaugh about it, and got no response, which was unfortunate, and not just because PoliBlog missed out on a major national mention, which would have been nice, but because the truth behind the story was never released to the public.

    It seemed to me that at a minimum some sort of correction should have been posted to their web site.

    Further, it was clear that they found the FDR graphic and ran with it, without finding out what it was (which, I will grant, I did as well, but also did research myself and posted the findings of others-which were more significant than mine-as new info was made available).

    In short: the Limbaugh web site’s team exhibited poor research skills in the first place, and then did not take advantage of information provided to them, and, more importantly, treated thier web site as a static medium rather than a dynamic one.

    Two notes. First, I refer to the “web team” because I highly doubt that Limbaugh is finding all this stuff himself, and I know full well that he doesn’t maintain the web site. However, this is not to absolve him of responsibility-it is his show and his name is on the site. I am just trying to be accurate.

    Second, the story above about the FDR “button” is not sour grapes (i.e., they didn’t listen to me, so I am mad” etc.). Indeed, I had forgotten all about it until I saw the Jessica’s Well story. However, combined with the JW story, it struck me that both examples show the lack of responsiveness to the Blogosphere by whomever it is that answers the e-mail at EIB. In the case of the FDR piece, it meant that they were ignoring vital information that would update a story that they have propagated, and in the case of JW they are not giving credit where credit is due. To us Blogospherians, neither is acceptable. And even beyond the Blogosphere, not citing your sources is similarly unacceptable.

    UPDATE/CLARIFICAITON: The Politburo Diktat and Wizbang are citing me as another example of what the Commissar has termed “blagiarism"-this is not the case. Rather my experience was one of being ignored in terms of an e-mail regarding an item that they had found independently on the web (the FDR “button"). A graduate student of mine discovered, through researching the piece and contacting the museum that had it, that the piece was not a button but an item created by Jack Ruby (yes, that Jack Ruby). Since Limbaugh had used the “button” on the air and on his web site, it seemed that an a minimum an on-line correction was warranted. But to be clear: they did not find the “button” on my site-they found it independently.

    My only point about my experience was not they should have paid attention to little ol’ me, per se, but that when presented with such significant information about the piece (because Limbaugh had thought the button to be an actual FDR campaign piece) that they should have issued some kind of correction. This is something that is common in the Blogosphere, and something that someone with a web site should easily be able to do.

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    A Coming Shake-Up at State?

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:03 am

    Regardless of the outcome in November, the odds are good that there will be significant changes at State: Armitage Thinks Days Numbered as No. 2 U.S. Diplomat

    Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage said on Friday he could soon leave office, a remark sure to fuel speculation the No. 2 U.S. diplomat and his boss, Secretary of State Colin Powell, will not serve another term.

    “I suspect my days of public service, given my age, are just about over,” the 59-year-old diplomat said in an interview.

    Many political analysts believe Powell and Armitage do not want to stay on if President Bush wins re-election. Media reports periodically suggest the two, who resisted the administration’s push to invade Iraq more than other senior officials, will leave their posts together next year.

    However, it should be noted, this is a hardly unusual despite the spin that the reason that Powell will leave is because he can finally get out from under Bush’s thumb with honor.

    But, it is not the norm for a President to have the same SecState for two terms-Reagan had 2 (Haig and Schultz) as did Clinton (Christopher and Albright)—heck, 41 had two in his one term (Baker and Eagleburger) and, gee whiz, Washington had three (Jefferson, Randolph and Pickering).

    Now, granted, some have served for lengthy periods: Madison (1801-1809), Cordell Hull (1933-1944), and Dean Rusk (1961-1969)-however, the norm is for far shorter. A quick scan of the list suggests that the average over time is under four years (I am too lazy to run the numbers).

    Now, while one could make the argument that at a time of war Secretaries tend to stay longer (e.g., Hull and Rusk), the nature of the war on terror hardly requires that Powell stays (and, for that matter, many don’t even see us as at war).

    No, many will seek to cast a Powell exit (assuming Bush is re-elected) as some criticism of the President, however, that ignores the historical trends and the fact that being Secretary of State is a lot of work, and that after four years, one is likely ready to move on to other things (that are both less work, and pay better).

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    Danforth Named to Replace Negroponte at the UN

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:00 am

    Danforth Nominated For U.N. Ambassador

    President Bush yesterday nominated John C. Danforth, the former Republican senator from Missouri who has most recently served as special envoy to Sudan, to be the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. If confirmed, he will replace John D. Negroponte who becomes top envoy to Iraq after the U.S.-led occupation ends June 30.

    An ordained Episcopal minister and an heir to the Ralston-Purina Co. fortune, Danforth is a widely respected politician often referred to as “Saint Jack” during his Senate years who appeals to the religious right as well as some Democrats. But he has limited diplomatic experience, warn former colleagues and friends. Filling the shoes of Negroponte, a deft career diplomat who had major impact at the United Nations, will not be easy for the Missouri politician, they say.

    “He hasn’t had any great experience in diplomacy, but knowing how to work the crowd in the U.S. Senate teaches you how to work the crowd anywhere,” said former ambassador Robert Oakley, who worked with Danforth’s peace mission in Sudan and has talked with him about the U.N. nomination. “He doesn’t know much about the U.N., but he’s a quick study and has a good staff. He is looking forward to the challenge. . . . I suspect he will be looking to show that [the] U.S. can work with others.”

    Democrats also voiced support for the surprise nominee. “He is a terrific choice, a moderate and conciliatory man. His senatorial skills will work well at the United Nations,” Richard C. Holbrooke, U.N. ambassador during the Clinton administration, told Reuters.

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    By Steven Taylor @ 8:44 am

    I found this last night after seeing a brief reference to it in a news story at Trektoday -Star Trek: New Voyages.

    Apparently some folks have gotten together and starting making classic Trek episodes as if it was the fourth season of TOS and have filmed one entire show, with another slated to come out in August. On balance, it is fairly impressive. Now, the acting and the writing need some work, to put it mildly, and what is with Kirk’s hair? (is that an Elvis wig?) Still, the overall production is impressive-especially the sets, costumes and the exterior shots. Indeed, the bridge set looks like the real thing, and while the other sets have a certain spartan feel, they look like the belong on the original Enterprise. The computer-generated shots of the Enterprise and other ships are quite excellent.

    The script itself is a bit too fan-boy, with large chunks of dialog recycled from the original show and the movies in the teaser and first act. Still, it is fun to watch. If you are Trekkie (and have a highspeed connection, or a lot of patience-the files are large), it is worth the download.

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    Friday, June 4, 2004
    Odd Veepness

    By Steven Taylor @ 3:57 pm

    What are the people at CNN smoking? On their extended list of Kerry veep possibilities they list Bill Clinton and Tom Brokaw. First, what former president in right mind would beome VP and, for that matter, what presidential candidate would want a former president as their running mate? And second: Tom Brokaw?

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    • Outside the Beltway linked with Beltway Traffic Jam
    • Insults Unpunished linked with Roundup Post
    China’s Economy May be Liberalizing, Its Politics, However…

    By Steven Taylor @ 3:43 pm

    China Snuffs Out Protest on Tiananmen Anniversary

    With cordons, vans and plainclothes police, China snuffed out dissent on the 15th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown on Friday, worried that even a minor protest could threaten the Communist Party.

    The prosperity brought by three decades of economic reform has dimmed political discontent and most of the few remaining activists from 1989 are under house arrest to muzzle criticism over those killed in one of the biggest demonstrations against the Communist Party since it took power in 1949.

    Police cars criss-crossed the sprawling square and officers were seen shoving two men into the backs of vans and taking aside three photographers for questioning.

    At least seven others were taken into police custody or turned away on the fringes of the square.

    Hundreds were killed on the night of June 3-4, 1989, when People’s Liberation Army soldiers backed by tanks shot their way down the main Changan Avenue, blocked by Beijing residents, and wrested control of the square from student demonstrators.


    Police have silenced leading pro-democracy activists and relatives of victims by placing them under house arrest or forcing them out of the capital in the run-up to the anniversary.

    “Police are now outside my door. They said if I do not agree not to light candles to remember June 4 victims, they will take me away,” Hu Jia, a 30-year-old AIDS activist and a new face among Tiananmen activists, said in a text message on Thursday.

    He was later taken into police custody, sources said.

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    • The Galvin Opinion linked with DAILY 7: TIANANMEN SQUARE
    • Arguing with signposts… linked with Never forget
    Troops to Move Out of Germany?

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:07 am

    This seems to make eminent sense: A Pentagon Plan Would Cut Back G.I.’s in Germany

    The Pentagon has proposed a plan to withdraw its two Army divisions from Germany and undertake an array of other changes in its European-based forces, in the most significant rearrangement of the American military around the world since the beginning of the cold war, according to American and allied officials.

    Pentagon policy makers said the aim is to afford maximum flexibility in sending forces to the Middle East, Central Asia and other potential battlegrounds. But some experts and allied officials are concerned that the shift will reduce Washington’s influence in NATO and weaken its diplomatic links with its allies, all at a time of rising anti-American sentiment around the world.

    Somehow I don’t see a huge diminution of our influence in NATO just because the number of troops in Europe is reduced. We would remain the most powerful military in NATO by far. And given that we need troops elsewhere for genuine security reasons, such a move is logical. Let’s not forget: those troops were there primarily to stop the Red Menace from sweeping over Western Europe. And in case you’ve been sleeping: the Soviets don’t exist any longer.

    And really, I tire of this nebulous business about “anti-American sentiment” as if US foreign policy was beloved of the whole world up and until the first time George Bush opened his mouth, and then and only then, did US power become resented and only then did anyone in the world cast anything but approval in our direction.

    I fully accept that the level of anti-Americanism is higher now than it was prior to the Iraqi war, but it is not at some historically unheard of level-the more active the US is on the world stage, the more anti-Americanism there is (i.e., this is nothing new). Further, such sentiments are fleeting and not doubt peaked when we invaded.

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    • Outside the Beltway linked with Fewer Troops in Germany
    Good Jobs News; Interest Rates Likely to Rise

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:53 am

    Report Says U.S. Economy Added 248,000 Jobs in May

    U.S. employers added almost a quarter million workers in May, extending a nine-month hiring spree and accommodating enough new jobseekers to hold the unemployment rate steady at 5.6 percent.

    Payrolls swelled by almost 1 million in the last three months alone, the Labor Department said Friday. Employment figures for March and April were revised up to reflect the addition of 353,000 and 346,000 jobs respectively.

    But because tens of thousands of jobless are renewing their search for work in the wake of an improving labor market, the overall, seasonally adjusted civilian unemployment rate did not improve from April’s 5.6 percent figure.

    Nevertheless, the snapshot of America’s employment situation in May met the expectations of most private analysts and fueled anticipation of an increase in interest rates when the Federal Reserve meets at the end of this month.

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    A Worthwhile Read

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:49 am

    I would say that Charles Krauthammer’s most recent piece qualifies as a “must read.”

    I started to excerpt it, but realized I would need to copy at least half of it, so just go read the whole thing.

    In summary however, he rightly notes that wars never end cleanly, that there has been remarkable progress in the last several weeks, and that many in the mass media reveal their deeply held biases by immediately calling into question every positive development and by having far more criticisms for the new Iraqi transitional government than they have ever had for Yasser Arafat and the Palestinian authority.

    Hat tip: Occam’s Toothbrush.

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    • Right Side of the Rainbow linked with Nattering nabobs of negativity
    Yet More on Tenet

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:28 am

    James Joyner has a good news round-up (and a fair critique thereof) regarding the Tenet Resignation.

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    Thursday, June 3, 2004
    More on Tenet II

    By Steven Taylor @ 7:40 pm

    From the NYT: Report May Have Hastened Tenet’s Resignation

    George J. Tenet’s resignation may have been hastened by a critical, 400-page report from the Senate intelligence committee that was presented to the Central Intelligence Agency for comment last month.

    Government officials and people close to Mr. Tenet said the classified report is a detailed account of mistakes and miscalculations by American intelligence agencies on the question of whether Iraq possessed illicit weapons before last year’s invasion by the United States. An unclassified version of the report is to be made public later this month. Some close to Mr. Tenet say the report was among the factors that led him to step down from a post he had considered leaving for several years.

    Officials who have read the report described it as presenting an across-the-board indictment of the C.I.A.’s performance on Iraq. They said its criticisms ranged from inadequate prewar collection of intelligence by spies and satellites to a sloppy analytical peformance, often based on uncorroborated sources, that produced the mistaken conclusion that Iraq possessed biological and chemical weapons.

    “There are some things that are indefensible,” said a recently retired intelligence official familiar with the report. “There are some real errors, of omission and commission, and it’s not going to be a pretty picture.”

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    • Arguing with signposts… linked with As long as we're surmising

    By Steven Taylor @ 3:47 pm

    Thanks to all the visitors to PoliBlog who helped push me to my 300,000th visitor today.

    (Of course, I hit that milestone about 3.5 months earlier than I would have because of the Nick Berg-generated traffic).

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    Warner to the Giants

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:38 am

    Interesting and (to me anyway) a surprise: Giants sign Kurt Warner

    Two-time NFL MVP Kurt Warner was signed by the New York Giants, giving the team a veteran quarterback in case top draft pick Eli Manning is not ready to start this season.

    The contract is a two-year deal, voidable after the first year. Warner will make $3.5 million in salary and bonuses, and more than $8 million if he achieves all his incentives this season, a source close to the negotiations told The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity.

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    More on Tenet

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:58 am

    The AP via DMN has more details:

    Bush said that deputy, John McLaughlin, will temporarily lead America’s premier spy agency until a successor is found. Among possible successors is House Intelligence Committee Chairman Porter Goss, R-Fla., a former CIA agent and McLaughlin.


    Conventional wisdom had been that Tenet, who was appointed by President Bill Clinton, did not plan to stay on next year, no matter who won the White House. Tenet has been on the job since July 1997, an unusually lengthy tenure in a particularly taxing era for the intelligence community that he heads.

    Reuters has squatola and it hasn’t made the front page of Google News yet.

    (Thanks to reader Barry of The Big Picture for sending an e-mail alerting me to the news).

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    • Rooftop Report linked with Tenet resigns
    • Arguing with signposts… linked with As long as we're surmising
    • Rooftop Report linked with Tenet Resigns
    Wowie: Tenet Resigns

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:54 am

    Bush: Tenet resigns as CIA director.

    The CNN story has almost no details-I think this just broke while I was in class.

    Very interesting.

    Filed under: US Politics | Comments (0) | Trackbacks(3)
    • Outside the Beltway linked with Tenet to Resign
    • BoiFromTroy linked with Tenet "resigns" from CIA
    • Arguing with signposts… linked with As long as we're surmising
    Good News on the Transition Front

    By Steven Taylor @ 7:59 am

    Donald Sensing notes an interesting piece from Ottawa Citizen columnist David Warren who
    has some positive things to say about the Iraqi transition:

    The formal transfer of power from Paul Bremer’s occupation authority to the new Iraqi government waits till the end of the month, but with the self-dissolution of the interim Iraqi Governing Council, we have witnessed an effective transfer. From now on, American advisers won’t be running Iraqi ministries - won’t dare try - and allied troops on the ground will be consulting Iraqis before launching new raids on assorted bad guys. Best of all, the region’s governments, including nefarious Iran and Syria (up to their eyeballs fomenting trouble within Iraq), will know it’s too late to sabotage the hand-off - because it has already occurred, by surprise, ahead of deadline.


    That self-dissolved Governing Council seems to have served its purpose as a public incubator of a new Iraqi political class, wonderfully unlike those in adjoining countries. The Americans have moreover done a superb job of playing politics, intra-Iraqis: a job of horse-trading beyond anything achieved by British imperialists in the past. I didn’t agree with all the dirty tricks (and especially not with the CIA’s unconscionable settling of accounts with Ahmed Chalabi, getting the Iraqis to raid his headquarters to bring him down to size), but we have a presentably benign government at the end of the day.

    He is quite correct to note that in many circles the Brahimi involvement was seen to be the Bush administration throwing up their hands and a tacit admission that they didn’t know what to do. This appears now to be a debunked hypothesis.

    I have been critical of what I thought was an overly artificial deadline for the transfer of power, especially given the lack of an Iraqi face on that transition. Now, almost by surprise, a fully Iraqi face has been placed on the government there.

    For example: the Iraqi foreign minister is set to go to the UN to argue for recognition of the new government. So instead of the US alone arguing for new UN resolutions, the Iraqis themselves will be arguing for them. It will be, I would expect, rather difficult for the Security Council to vote it down at this point as a result.

    Indeed, Warren is correct: by more or less transferring power at the beginning of June, rather than the end, the administration was rather deftly made sabotage of the interim regime more difficult. And further, they have made the June 30th date less dramatic, as it should now take on a more ceremonial air than I expected to be present. Indeed, I feared that we would hand over sovereignty on 6/30 and then spend July working out details-which could have been a disaster. Instead, the key details were quietly attended to almost a month in advance. This is all very good news.

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    Sistani Speaks

    By Steven Taylor @ 6:26 am

    Iraq’s Top Cleric Gives Govt. Conditional Approval

    Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Iraq’s most influential Muslim cleric, gave his conditional approval to the interim government on Thursday but said it had “mammoth tasks” ahead.


    Sistani, who holds huge sway over Iraq’s 60 percent Shi’ite majority, listed four key tasks that the government had to tackle - security, basic services for all, a new U.N. resolution granting Iraqi full sovereignty and the organizing of free and fair elections early next year.

    Filed under: Iraq | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
    Wednesday, June 2, 2004
    Sending in the Clowns

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:18 pm

    A first, I thought maybe Kevin was exaggerating (Clown News Network) and then I am skimming the news and see this:

    Mexican Clown Ends Morning News Show

    There have been like a lifetime of clown stories in the news just this week.

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    How do You Spell Stooopid?

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:01 pm


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    Oh, What a Sealing

    By Steven Taylor @ 7:54 pm

    Bryan of AWS has designed a new seal for LA County.

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    The Bonfire of the Vanities

    By Steven Taylor @ 7:08 pm

    Cap’n! We canna take the strain!

    Bonfire 48!*

    Brian J. Noggle: Hockey Has Made Me Multi-Cultural : Say Branko Radivojevic three times fast. No, say it just once. Can’t do it, huh?

    Classical Values: Oh brother!

    Kevin Alyward: In the middle of an excellent day of blogging on Memorial Day (all the posts were military themed) I had to screw it up and post a tip on how to make money betting on Smarty Jones in the Belmont, Wizbang: Smart Money.

    nikita demosthenes: Who had the greater capacity to harm the United States: Hitler’s Germany, Imperial Japan, or Saddam Hussein’s Iraq?

    The Gleeful Extremist: What the Greatest Generation understood.

    Practical Penumbra: Waiter, there’s a whine in my soup.

    swirlspice: Stop me if you’ve heard this one.

    exvigilare: It’s bad enough when a blogger starts complaining about what they can’t do, but do they have to share it with everyone else so mysteriously? And I didn’t even get the Trackbacks right! Ben yesterday…

    Dodgeblogium : The Book Of Love.

    The following story is worthy of the dumper: Interested-Participant.

    Boots and Sabers: Sewage dumped in May: 4.6 billion gallons.

    Aaron’s Rantblog: The Kerry Cheer &I-Feel-Like-I’m-Fixin’-To-Decide Rag.

    Sean Hackbarth (The American Mind), a short rant on a future low-carb Krispy Kreme product: Never!

    I blame Neal Boortz, Trey Parker and Matt Stone: The Everlasting Phelps: Blame America.

    The King of Fools: Promotion.

    Would an updated and commercially exploitable version of David include tattoos and body piercings? Only Mel Gibson and Sting know for sure. On the Fritz - Observations of Modern Life: Michelangelo’s David Ready for 21st Century!

    Spare Change: Duty Free.

    Note: If I missed you, just let me know.

    *I figure Trek is my meme theme.

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    • Wizbang linked with Bonfire Of The Vanities - Week 48
    • Wizbang linked with Bonfire Of The Vanities - Week 48
    • Watcher of Weasels linked with Weekly Roundup of Weekly Roundups
    • Wizbang linked with Bonfire Of The Vanities - Week 48
    • The Axis of Weasels linked with Weekly Roundup of Weekly Roundups
    • The American Mind linked with Hot Stuff
    • King of Fools linked with Carnival of the Carnivals
    • The Everlasting Phelps linked with Link Whoring
    • swirlspice linked with Links and Thoughts, Interspersed
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    This Could Be Amusing (If Done Right)

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:57 am

    Shatner May Play Washed-Up TV Hero:

    Captain Kirk may team up on camera with The Six Million Dollar Man and a millionaire private detective.

    Variety mentioned yesterday (via Cinescape) that William Shatner (Kirk), Lee Majors and Robert Wagner are all attached to an ABC movie of the week project in which they would play washed-up television action heroes.

    Actionheroes Inc. is the name of the film, focused on three has-been actors who use their fame to open a private investigation firm.

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    • Parablemania linked with Weekend Roundup II
    • Obsidian Wings linked with Thursday and tired...
    The Political Language of Abortion

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:35 am

    I love how every time that a story comes on about the partial birth abortion bill, it is de rigueur to note how doctor’s don’t use that term. Like yesterday on NPR’s All Things Considered, where reporter Richard Gonzales said the following:

    Well, this is the debate over what proponents call partial-birth abortion. Now doctors don’t use that term. What proponents here are targeting is a procedure called intact dilation and extraction. And it’s a very rare procedure performed only in after the first trimester. Usually, it’s done when the fetus is in a breech position; the fetus is alive. And as they deliver the body, doctors crush the fetus’ head.

    Now, whether or not doctor’s call it “partial birth abortion” what better term should non-medical types use? How about “Fetal Termination via Skull Crushing"?

    The medical term for “heart attack” is “acute myocardial infarction"-does this mean that every news story about heart attacks need a disclaimer that doctors don’t normally use that term?

    For that matter, there are various other types of abortion with specific medical names, yet the media doesn’t point out that “doctors don’t use that term.”

    Source: Transcript obtained via Lexis/Nexis.

    Update: This post is part of today’s Beltway Traffic Jam.

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    Maybe Kerry Will Pick this “Uncommitted” Fellow as Veep

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:20 am

    I mean, gee whiz, such a selection would have thematic consistency and “UN” is in the name…

    At any rate Mr. Uncommitteed ended up besting the combined might of Kucinich and LaRouche in South Dakota and Alabama yesterday.

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    Janklow’s Seat Goes to a Democrat

    By Steven Taylor @ 6:31 am

    Democrat Wins Election for Janklow’s Seat

    Democrats looking ahead to November got a bounce with the victory of Stephanie Herseth in a special election, marking the party’s second straight congressional triumph and snatching a House seat in a heavily GOP-leaning state.

    Herseth, a member of one of the state’s most distinguished political families, narrowly defeated Republican Larry Diedrich in Tuesday’s poll. She will immediately fill the seat of Bill Janklow, who resigned his seat before he went to jail over a deadly auto accident.

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    The Most Visible Moorite Wins

    By Steven Taylor @ 6:26 am

    Parker beats Justice Brown in Supreme Court Place 1 race

    Former Chief Justice Roy Moore backed four candidates in the Alabama Republican primary, but only one scored an outright victory Tuesday night.

    That candidate was Tom Parker, a former Moore aide who campaigned against Supreme Court Justice Jean Brown’s vote to remove Moore’s Ten Commandments monument from the state judicial building.

    With of 2,469 of 2,583 boxes reporting statewide, Parker, though decisively outspent by Brown, outpaced the Place 1 incumbent, 105,642 votes to 102,441 votes, or 51 percent to 49 percent.

    Parker was the most visible and most stridently pro-Moore of the candidates running in the primary. Further, he unseated an incumbent who had voted to remove the Ten Commandments monument from the Judicial Building, so this win will help to keep Moorism alive in state politics for the foreseeable future. I find that to be unfortunate. Parker was the candidate whose advertising most bespoke of what I would describe as judicial activism despite his claims of conservativism.

    At least Moore’s coattails weren’t too long: the othe two Moorite judicial candidates lost (there may be a run-off in one of the races, however) and the one congressial candidate was trounced.

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    • The World Around You linked with Celebrate the Positive
    Tuesday, June 1, 2004
    Uncommitted Beating Kucinich and LaRouche (Combined)

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:01 pm

    In both Alabama and South Dakota: Unofficial Democratic Primary Returns

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    Quit Yer Whinning and Move Around Some

    By Steven Taylor @ 2:08 pm

    This post at OTB elicits the following responses:

    1) I am living proof that fast food is not addictive-you can say no! How do I know this? I worked at McDonalds for about three years-and even ate free as a shift manager for about a year. These days I only eat at McDonalds when we are on a long road trip and the kids need a playland in which to expend some energy. I could never eat at McDonalds again and be perfectly happy. And let’s face facts: in general fast food isn’t very good.

    And since I reject the argument that since nicotine is addictive that smokers can’t help themselves, you can be guaranteed that I don’t buy the argument that people are helpless before the might of tv commercials for fattening foods. Please.

    2) The secret to losing weigh is simple: activity. When my wife and I lived in Bogota, Colombia for a year in 94-95 as I was doing my dissertation research we did not have a car. As a result, we walked a lot. I was just looking through a photo album last night and man I was skinny back then-yes, I was younger, but the main thing was all the walking. I easily weighed twety-five pounds less then than I do now. And we hardly watched our diet. For one thing, Colombian meals are often quite starchy: rice, potatoes and yucca, so they’re carb-o-rific. Further, we lived around the corner from a nice bakery that made great cookies and wonderful bread-which we often partook of. And I recall that one of my favorite breakfast spots was the Downtown Bogota Dunkin Donunts…

    The inspiration for the entire discussion is this week’s issue of Time, in which blogger and freelance write Radley Balko has a brief piece.

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    • Outside the Beltway linked with Beltway Traffic Jam

    By Steven Taylor @ 12:52 pm

    Judge: Bush Abortion Ban Unconstitutional

    A federal judge Tuesday declared the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act unconstitutional, saying the measure infringes on a woman’s right to choose.

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    Line of the Day, II

    By Steven Taylor @ 12:39 pm

    “It’s not to say that our industry loves John Kerry or anything like that. But George Bush, if he’s re-elected, it could be damaging to our industry."-Dave Manack, associate publisher of E.D. Publications, which publishes Exotic Dancer magazine, on strip clubs helping their patrons to register to vote and asking them to support Kerry.

    Source: Newsweek (5/31/04 issue).

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    • The American Mind linked with Kerry's House of Ketchup #14
    • The American Mind linked with Kerry's House of Ketchup #14
    Line of the Day, I

    By Steven Taylor @ 12:35 pm

    “I am not exaggerating."-Eugenio Selman Housein, Fidel Castro’s physician, reporting at a “Satisfactory Longevity” conference in Havana that the Cuban president, now 77, could live to be 140 years old.

    Source: Newsweek (5/31/04 issue).

    Filed under: Latin America | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)

    By Steven Taylor @ 11:25 am

    James Joyner of OTB has a piece at TCS: Tech Central Station-check it out.

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    Last Surviving Confederate War Widow Dies

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:15 am

    Alberta S. Martin, 97, Dies; Last Widow From Civil War

    Nearly 140 years after Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered to Gen. Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House, the last surviving widow of a Civil War veteran has died. Alberta Stewart Martin, 97, who married an elderly Confederate veteran when she was 21, died May 31 at a nursing home in Enterprise, Ala., after a heart attack.

    “She was what we call the last link to Dixie,” Kenneth W. Chancey, a friend from Enterprise, said yesterday. “The war hasn’t been that far removed, particularly for southerners, and she reminded us of that.”

    Mrs. Martin had already been widowed once when she met 81-year-old William Jasper Martin, who had served with the 4th Alabama Infantry Regiment during the siege of Petersburg, Va., in 1864 and 1865.

    They were both living in the south Alabama town of Opp, where the aging veteran enjoyed meeting friends to play dominoes.


    William Martin died July 8, 1931. Two months later, Mrs. Martin married her husband’s grandson, Charlie Martin. They remained together for 50 years, until his death in 1983.


    Mrs. Martin had been the only surviving Civil War widow since January 2003, when Gertrude Grubb Janeway, whose husband was a Union veteran from Tennessee, died.

    Hat tip: PoliBlog reader Cathy (thanks!).

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    Things I Don’t Get

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:36 am

    As a college professor I get a lot of books to consider for classroom use. Occassionally I obtain an exam copy that the publisher wants back after X number of days. Now, I have no problem sending back such a book, although I never knowingly request one that requires I send it back, because it is a hassle. Still, sometimes they want it back, so I send it back. However, the thing I don’t get (and I have had this happen a few times over the years from different publishers) is that some publishers will send me an invoice requesting the book back, but the invoice does not identify the book except by invoice number and price. I hate to break it to these guys, but I don’t know which book they want back. Why in the world would a publisher send out an invoice devoid of identifying information? Is is almost as if they don’t really want the darn book back but feel the need to go through the motions. Indeed, in the past I have noted that if I ignore the invoices, after a while they stop coming.

    At any rate, a note to publishers: if you want the book back, ya gotta tell me which stinkin’ book it is.

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    You Don’t Say?

    By Steven Taylor @ 7:32 am

    Jobs Loss May Affect Who Wins The Vote

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    Iraqi Governing Council Disbands in Step to Transition

    By Steven Taylor @ 7:30 am

    Iraq Council Disbands; CPA Still in Power

    The official, speaking to reporters on condition of anonymity, also confirmed that the Iraqi Governing Council, in office since July, had voted to dissolve effective immediately to allow the new government to begin taking over its responsibilities.

    He also said the new Cabinet would begin negotiations on the status of U.S. and other coalition forces in Iraq after June 30 “fairly soon.”

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