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Tuesday, August 31, 2004
Arnold II

By Steven Taylor @ 9:22 pm

I would give the speech an “A".

Filed under: US Politics: 2004 Campaign | Comments(2) | Trackbacks(3)
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  • Peaktalk linked with ARNOLD'S SPEECH
  • The Politicker linked with Blog-o-sphere Reacts... Day 2
  • Priorities & Frivolities linked with Arnold Speaks for P&F
Live Convention Blogging: Arnold

By Steven Taylor @ 9:07 pm

The Governator Speaks:

  • Nice start-amusing and patriotic.
  • As my wife just noted: the Republicans do patriotic better than the Democrats do.
  • I wonder when the last time Nixon was mentioned from the podium at a Republican convention?
  • You have to love the optimism.
  • He is certainly quite enthusiastic.
  • The “If…then you are a Republican” but is quite clever.
Filed under: US Politics: 2004 Campaign | Comments(4) | Trackbacks(4)
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  • The Politicker linked with Blog-o-sphere Reacts... Day 2
  • Priorities & Frivolities linked with Arnold Speaks for P&F
  • DD Sez linked with RNC Day #2
  • RIGHT ON RED >> linked with Convention Reaction Roundup Day 2
Will on 527s and the President’s Response

By Steven Taylor @ 8:29 pm

George Will is rightly continuing to criticize the current state of campaign finance “reform” and the way politicians seem to look at it:

But the political class wants them silenced - “outlawed,” Bush says - because it considers the political process its private property. And Bush, adopting the cringing posture so prevalent in today’s scramble to be seen as a victim, says, “I understand how Senator Kerry feels - I’ve been attacked by 527s too.” Oh, well, then.


Few voters care about questions of political process. That is why the political class feels free to act with scandalous impunity, as in this Bush-Kerry collaboration to silence what the political class persistently calls “outside groups.” A question: Outside of what?


Hat tip: Robert Tagorda.

Filed under: US Politics: 2004 Campaign: Campaign Finance Reform | Comments(2) | Trackbacks (0)
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Is Kerry Retooling his Staff?

By Steven Taylor @ 8:17 pm

Robert Tagorda ponders Turmoil at Camp Kerry?.

This isn’t the first time Kerry has retooled-of course, last time I thought it meant he was done, so I shan’t make that mistake this time. Regardless, it isn’t good to be doing this kind of thing right before Labor Day.

Filed under: US Politics: 2004 Campaign | Comments (1) | Trackbacks (1)
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  • Hennessy\’s View linked with More Kerry's Campaign Shuffle
That’s Just Not Right

By Steven Taylor @ 4:01 pm

NFL - Calico sprains both knees on one play

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Adios Sharona

By Steven Taylor @ 12:45 pm

No Sharona - Actress Exits USA’s ‘Monk’

The hit USA Network series “Monk” is losing Bitty Schram, the Golden Globe-nominated sidekick to series star Tony Shalhoub.

Schram will not return as Sharona, nurse and assistant to Shalhoub’s obsessive-compulsive detective, when the show resumes the second half of its third season in January.

“‘Monk’ has decided to go in a different creative direction with some of its characters,” a USA spokesman said. “Bitty will not continue with the cast and we thank her for her notable contributions and wish her the very best.”

Filed under: Pop Culture | Comments(2) | Trackbacks (1)
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  • Psychotria Nervosa linked with B-b-b-bye Sharona
How Long Did it Take to Think up that Stunt?

By Steven Taylor @ 12:35 pm

20 Arrested in Anti-GOP Demonstrations

Protesters in pig snouts grunted and rolled in bogus $100 bills featuring a sneering Vice President Dick Cheney on Tuesday as part of a day of civil disobedience aimed at deflating Republicans in town to celebrate their party’s presidential ticket.

Outside the hotel where Texas Republicans were staying, about two dozen protesters calling themselves employees of “Hallibacon” chanted: “We love money. We love war. We love Cheney even more.”

Filed under: US Politics: 2004 Campaign | Comments(3) | Trackbacks (0)
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Politics and the $87 Billion

By Steven Taylor @ 9:38 am

Largely in response to a set of comments in this post, I provide the following from Sunday’s MTP (Russert is addressig Senator Clinton, btw):

MR. RUSSERT: There’s a lot of discussion about John Kerry and flip-flops. Rudy Giuliani in August said this about Senator Kerry on Iraq: “I don’t know what [Kerry’s] position is on Iraq. Of course, it changes all the time. There hasn’t been a consistent position. He voted for the war. Then he voted against funding the war. Then he said that he voted both for the funding and against the funding. So there have been so many different positions. Honestly, again, I mean this in the most respectful way. I don’t know Senator Kerry’s current position on Iraq.”

And what he’s pointing to, Senator, is you both voted for authority for the president to go to war, but you voted for the $87 million to support the troops. Senator Kerry voted against it. Joe Biden, a fellow Democrat, said this: “The truth is, [Kerry] usually spends more time talking about the politics of a vote … and that was certainly the case on the $87 billion.” And then this: “As one of [Kerry’s] advisers put it … `Off the record, he [voted against the $87 billion] because of Howard Dean. On the record, he has an elaborate explanation.’”

And then Biden again: “Biden himself ultimately voted for the [$87 billion], and he confirmed that Kerry’s decision not to was `tactical,’ and attempt `to prove to Dean’s guys I’m not a warmonger.’”

In short: I am far from the only one who sees politics in Kerry’s vote on this issue. To pretend like the $87 billion vote and the whole voting for one version and then voting against the final version was some principled stance is to allow partisan filters to overcome the obvious.

Filed under: US Politics: 2004 Campaign | Comments(5) | Trackbacks (0)
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Blogs and Big Media

By Steven Taylor @ 9:06 am

Glenn Reynolds’ piece at Tech Central Station is definitely worth reading.

While I by no means see blogs overtaking Big Media, there is little doubt that they are affecting their behavior-often in major ways.

Filed under: US Politics: Blogging | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (1)
  • The Glittering Eye linked with I...AM...OZZZZ!
More on Rudy

By Steven Taylor @ 8:49 am

Matt of Overtaken by Events was quite impressed wth Rudy’s speech and highlights the Mayor’s criticism of the continent.

Filed under: US Politics: 2004 Campaign | Comments(2) | Trackbacks (0)
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Bite-Sized Toast: The First Night of the RNC

By Steven Taylor @ 8:18 am

Bite-Size Toast: A Supplement to this week’s Toast-o-meter


September 11, 2001 was the focus last night (as the NYT noted: First Night, Single Theme for Double Term: Sept. 11 and USAT 9/11 both touchstone and test for party). On the one hand, the potential for being seen as being exploitative was present. On the other hand, there is no denying the centrality of 911 to this president and as a centerpiece for understanding his policies. Further, no doubt the issue of national security will be the issue that turns this election. I have thought that for over a year, and I continue to be convinced of that fact. Yes, many Democrats will be angry/offended by what they will see as exploitation-however, those voters will be voting for Kerry regardless of what the GOP does. The real question will be the effect on those on the fence. I predict it will play well with enough of them to give Bush a small but appreciable bump out of this convention.

As I argued in this week’s Toast-O-Meter, the conditions are right for the Bush campaign to use the convention to build a moderate lead-I think that the first night was a good start.

ROUND-UPS (mainstream press and Blogospheric):

  • The NYT: The Overview: Procession of Speakers Invoke Bush’s Leadership After 9/11.
  • The LAT: Bush Is Praised as War Leader.
  • USAT: Giuliani, McCain build case for Bush.
  • RNCBloggers - Bloggers Cover The Republican National Convention.
  • The Politicker: Blog-o-sphere Reacts
  • WaPo’s full coverage is here, including links to video feeds, if you missed any of the speeches.


Ron Silver

  • It was interesting to see a failry liberal pro-Clinton actor come on so strongly for Bush.
  • The full text is here.


  • The Transcript.
  • The Moore slam will likely be one of the most-played bites of the night.
  • Chris Matthews apparently didn’t like McCain’s Moore line-referenciong three distinct times after the speech-including defending Moore to McCain during an interview. Matthews pointed out that one of the points of the film dealt with the burden of the soldiers. However, he ignored McCain’s point, which was accurate, that the film does have a scene in depicting the peace and tranquility of Iraq pre-invasion. He adopted the same tone with McCain over Moore than he has been adopting with anyone who take the Swiftees seriously.
  • James Joyner wasn’t impressed.
  • Amy Sullivan, guest-blogging atThe Washington Monthly’s Political Animal thinks that McCain reputatin took a “bruising” as a result of the speech.
  • Joe Gandelman think the speech might have been a home run.


  • The Transcript.
  • He had the line of the night.
  • The Once and Future Rudy Giuliani (
  • Right on Red has a round-up of live blogging responses to Giuliani.
  • James Joyner liked this one, but thought that the Mayor have skirted a bit close to the line of overly politicizing 911.
Filed under: US Politics: 2004 Campaign | Comments (1) | Trackbacks(9)
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  • The Command Post - 2004 US Presidential Election linked with Rounding-Up the First Night of the RNC
  • Backcountry Conservative linked with Monday Night Convention Roundup
  • Overtaken by Events linked with An Apt Description of the Kerry Campaign
  • Tex the Pontificator linked with Conclusion of McCain's Speech
  • Outside The Beltway � linked with 2004 Republican National Convention: Night One
  • Mark the Pundit linked with First Night Roundup
  • The Moderate Voice linked with Taylor's Convention Toast-O-Meter
  • Diggers Realm linked with Giuliani Speech Was Incredible
  • Priorities & Frivolities linked with Turmoil at Camp Kerry?
Broadway, NPR and the RNC

By Steven Taylor @ 8:02 am

NPR seems obsessed with the fact that tickets have been purchased for RNC delegates for some Broadway shows, and the fact that some of the more racy shows might not appeal to the conventioneers. There was a story last night and a rather sarcastic one this morning. For one thing, I suspect that there are plenty of RNC delegates who would go to any number of shows, including the more controversial ones. For another, many will not doubt no have avant garde tastes-and so what? The tone of the pieces (especially the one this morning) had that whole “oh, look, a bunch of redneck Sunday School teachers have come to town” condescension that find itself quite amusing, but instead has a clearly insulting undercurrent.

Filed under: US Politics: 2004 Campaign | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
Inline Trackbacks are Back!

By Steven Taylor @ 7:43 am

I had Kathy Kinsely do some upgrades for me, including (and mostly importantly) setting up inline trackbacks and a few other tweaks. I highly recommend Kathy-her rates are radically reasonable and she is quite conscientious in her work. If you need a little coding help with you blog, or need some site design, look her up-you won’t regret it.

Filed under: Blogging | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
The Trial that will Last a Century

By Steven Taylor @ 7:11 am

Having started in February of 2002, the Milosevic trial has started its second half as Milosevic Opens His Defense Case. He has 150 days to put on his defense.

While I understand the gravity of the situation and the complexity of the charges, but I am thinking that taking years and years to put on the trial seems to undermine the claim that this is the way that these types of crimes/criminals.

The Nuremberg trials tooks less than four years from the issuance of the indictments, and there were numerous defendants.

Filed under: Global Politics | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
Monday, August 30, 2004
Score One for Rudy

By Steven Taylor @ 10:05 pm

Rudy wins the night thus far with the litany of Kerry flip-flops and then stating “maybe that accounts for the need of John Edwards’ two Americas.”

Indeed, Rudy has been able to attack Kerry directly without seeming angry, or actually “attacking” per se.

Update: Here’s the exact quote via The Command Post:

My point about John Kerry being inconsistent is best described in his own words when he said, “I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it.”

Maybe this explains John Edwards’ need for two Americas - - one where John Kerry can vote for
something and another where he can vote against the same thing.


Filed under: US Politics: 2004 Campaign | Comments(8) | Trackbacks(2)
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  • Right On Red linked with HELLLLLLLLLLL YES
  • The Politicker linked with Blog-o-sphere Reacts
More on Moore and McCain

By Steven Taylor @ 10:01 pm

Certainly the Blogosphere has reacted to McCain’s Moore slam:

  • Arguing with signposts.
  • PoliPundit.
  • Confessions Of A Political Junkie.
Filed under: US Politics: 2004 Campaign | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)

By Steven Taylor @ 9:55 pm

In re: Giuliani’s speech:

  • Nice start with the “hearing from us” litany.

  • I liked the bit about not letting terrorist dictate where conventions are held and so forth.
  • His discussion of terrorism, starting with the handling of the Munich Olympic killers, and the contrast with Bush was an excellent and compelling portion of the speech. Noting that Europe has been the center of appeasement and compromise vis-a-vis terrorism was a significant sideswipe at Kerry.
Filed under: US Politics: 2004 Campaign | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
More Live Convention Blogging

By Steven Taylor @ 9:52 pm

-Chad Evans at

-Jay Tea at Wizbang.

-The gang at PoliPundit.

-Ann Althouse.

Filed under: US Politics: 2004 Campaign | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
McCain and Moore

By Steven Taylor @ 9:38 pm

Indeed: the first thing Chris Matthews did was play back the Moore slam-even over the beginning of the 911 widows.

Filed under: US Politics: 2004 Campaign | Comments (1) | Trackbacks (0)
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More on McCain’s Speech II

By Steven Taylor @ 9:29 pm

More observations:

  • He was quite eloquent in his tribute to US solidiers.
  • Based on Taylor’s Iron Law of Political Speeches, this looks to be a successful one, as there have been several potentially excellent bites.
  • I bet that his Moore comment will get more play than anything else in the speech.
  • The middle was the best part-althought the very end was quite good.

Filed under: US Politics: 2004 Campaign | Comments (0) | Trackbacks(2)
  • linked with McCain Puts Terrorism in Perspective
  • Outside The Beltway � linked with John McCain Convention Speech
More on McCain’s Speech

By Steven Taylor @ 9:20 pm

In re: Iraq-"Our choice wasn’t between a benign status quo and the bloodshed of war, it was between war and a graver threat-don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.”

Nice slam on Michael Moore, too.

After starting with low energy, things have picked up a bit.

Filed under: US Politics: 2004 Campaign | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (1)
  • Rooftop Report linked with McCain Speech Roundup
Convention Blogging II: McCain II

By Steven Taylor @ 9:11 pm

The best line thus far:

“There is no avoiding this war-we tried that, and our reluctance cost us dearly.”


Filed under: US Politics: 2004 Campaign | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
Convention Blogging II: McCain I

By Steven Taylor @ 9:09 pm

Comments on McCain, part I:

  • He seems to lack energy, Of course, I have never thought of him as a powerful orator.
  • He brought up “good and evil"-good for him.
  • He got better a few minutes into it.
  • Kudos for the alliance lines—good stuff.
Filed under: US Politics: 2004 Campaign | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (1)
  • Rooftop Report linked with McCain Speech Roundup
Convention Blogging II

By Steven Taylor @ 9:00 pm

Lindsey Graham isn’t exactly giving an exciting intro of McCain.

No one is going to be calling him “Mr. Energetic” in the papers tomorrow.

Filed under: US Politics: 2004 Campaign | Comments (1) | Trackbacks (1)
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  • linked with Monday Live Blogging
Football Blogging

By Steven Taylor @ 8:29 pm

Vinny doesn’t look like a 40-year-old tonight, I must say.

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Convention Blogging I

By Steven Taylor @ 7:58 pm

It is rather interesting to see Ron Silver speaking at the RNC, given that I recall him being a big Clinton booster in 1992.

He is giving a pretty tough speech criticizing activists who protest tyranny and abuse, but who will not support the use of force to deal with the tyrants.

Filed under: US Politics: 2004 Campaign | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
Ready for Some Football;Ready for Some Politics

By Steven Taylor @ 7:45 pm

Via the wonders of TiVo and the abilityto pause the game and to flip back and forth from MNF to the RNC, I shall be both partaking of my first glimpse of the 2004 version of the Dallas Cowboys and the first night of the 2004 Republican National Convention. Convention blogging will, therefore, take place-how much remains to be seen.

In re: the Boys I would say that Vinny and Keyshawn look good, as does the OL. Eddie George is looking rather Troy Hambrick-like at the moment and aside from the opening series, the Dallas D has looked pretty tough.

Filed under: US Politics: Sports: 2004 Campaign | Comments (1) | Trackbacks (0)
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Speaking of Bad TV…

By Steven Taylor @ 7:11 pm

NBC’s ‘Pride’ at Stake with New Animated Series

Eager for new comedies to replace “Friends” and “Frasier,” NBC takes a big gamble with this week’s debut of a costly, computer-animated series about a sexually frisky family of talking lions in Siegfried & Roy’s famed Las Vegas act.

The NBC exec who thought this was a good idea must’ve been smokin’ somethin’ good.

I can’t believe this is the net’s answer to losing Fraiser and Friends.

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It’ll be Hylarious!!

By Steven Taylor @ 1:45 pm

How far can US pop culture sink?

TBS in Gender-Bender Reality

TBS has unveiled details of its new reality show “He’s a Lady,” which premieres on the cable network Oct. 12.

The competition-style series will feature 11 “macho men” who think they’ll be competing in grueling physical challenges on a show called “All American Man"; instead, they’ll be learning how to live and behave as women, with one ultimate winner receiving a cash prize of $250,000.

Sadly, some guys would probably go through a sex change for the cash plus TV exposure…

Filed under: Pop Culture | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (1)
  • Outside The Beltway � linked with Beltway Traffic Jam
National Security is the Defining Issue in this Election

By Steven Taylor @ 12:38 pm

If you need further proof Stephen Green has it. Be sure to click through to the Drudge story for the all the info.

Filed under: US Politics: 2004 Campaign | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
Voting Against Bush, Hardly for Kerry

By Steven Taylor @ 12:32 pm

Dale Franks at QandO has an anti-Bush advertisement that lends credence to what James Joyner noted this morning: Kerry isn’t exactly beloved by his supporters-rather, he is supported because he isn’t Bush.

Filed under: US Politics: 2004 Campaign | Comments(3) | Trackbacks (0)
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The History of Conventions

By Steven Taylor @ 12:15 pm

Joshua Spivak has a piece ("Political Conventions: Once Cutting Edge, Now Almost Useless") in Roll Call on the decline in importance of party conventions. It does a nice job of succintly summarizing political party history in the US and the role of conventions.

It is very much worth reading.

Filed under: US Politics: 2004 Campaign | Comments(2) | Trackbacks (0)
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Oil Prices Come Down

By Steven Taylor @ 11:08 am

Oil Slips Below $43 a Barrel

U.S. light crude fell 58 cents to $42.60 a barrel, nearly $7 below a record hit earlier this month as hedge funds unwound their speculative long positions. Brent crude trade on London’s International Petroleum Exchange was shut for a public holiday.

Despite last week’s slide, prices are still 33 percent higher than at the end of 2003 as producers pump close to full tilt to match soaring demand.

Hardly ideal, but a clear improvement.

Filed under: US Politics: The Economy | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
Capitalists on Parade

By Steven Taylor @ 9:42 am

The newest Carnival of the Capitalists is available.

Filed under: Blogging | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
I Question the Timing of this Report

By Steven Taylor @ 8:56 am

Some good econ news on the day of the RNC premiere: Spending Rebounds, Good News for Growth

U.S. consumer spending rebounded sharply July, government data showed on Monday, erasing the disappointment of June and bolstering hopes that the U.S. economy has recovered from its recent soft spot.

Of course, it ain’t all sunshine and roses:

“Personal income is a bit weaker than anticipated. Consumption is about what we had anticipated, which is obviously good news. Spending has rebounded. I’m surprised personal income increases were so modest,” said Tim O’Neill, chief economist at BMO Financial in Toronto.

Filed under: US Politics: The Economy: 2004 Campaign | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
Blogging Tips

By Steven Taylor @ 8:20 am

Simon World has an exhaustive list of blogging tips that are worth a read, especially if you are thinking of starting a blog or want insight into this whole bloggin’ thaing.

Below are a few coments in response to the list, and some tips of my own:

22. The great thing about blogging is plagiarising is encouraged. That’s why so many academics blog. The only trick is plagiarising needs to be accompanied by links back to the original…because links are the lifeblood of a blogger. So go ahead and steal.

I would revise this: plagiarism is quoting someone else and passing the post off as your own (something I have seen done). That is a no-no. Properly citing the source, and providing a link, that’s a good thing. And, no doubt, links are the currency of the Blogosphere.

So true:

42. The stupidest, most off-the-cuff posts tend to get the most comments.

I would add:

  • If you send a trackback to someone, be sure you link to that person’s blog and the post you are trackbacking. It is just plain rude to find an idea or story from someone, use it on your blog and not give credit. Further, the trackabck you send helps (potentially) to get you traffic from the person’s blog you pinged, but without giving back to the blog from which you got your idea.

  • It clearly helps to have some claim at being an “expert” (whatever that may mean). For example: being a professor, having an advanced degree or working for a professional publication (as Simon notes in his list-that may not be fair, but it is nonetheless true).
  • Inline trackbacks are cool to have, as it encourages people to link to you, because they get an automatic link on your site as well (and yes, inline trackbacks will be returning to PoliBlog shortly-hopefully this week).
  • Give reciprocal links to those who link to you.
  • If you are just starting out, I highly recommend WordPress over Moveable Type.
  • Always give Hat Tip’s to blogs when you find stuff on their site, even if you aren’t quoting their blog.

Some of my previous posts on blogging are here:

Hat tip: Dean Esmay (And I, like Dean, endorse most of the points-for example, while I understand what Simon means in regards to emotion v. reason in terms of generating traffic, it still isn’t advice I would give).

Filed under: Blogging | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (1)
  • Simon World linked with Everything you wanted to know about blogging but were afraid to ask
Most Bizarre: CA to Shift Primary to June

By Steven Taylor @ 6:33 am

California Moves to Reschedule Its Primary From March to June:

The state that helped push the presidential primary season into a fast-forward frenzy more than a decade ago is now abruptly shifting it into reverse.

A bill that would move the California presidential primary to June from March beginning in 2008 breezed through the State Legislature this week with bipartisan support. Though Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican, has not taken a public position on the proposed change, a senior aide said he was not expected to stand in its way.

And this assessment is correct:

The move would amount to unconditional surrender by the country’s most delegate-rich state in the contest to influence the presidential nomination process. While other states - including Pennsylvania, Michigan, Alabama and Louisiana - continue to contemplate ways to get ahead of the pack, California would take a unilateral step back.

Indeed, for save the most dramatic of years (which may only exist in theory), CA wouldn’t matter one whit in the selection process if this move becomes law.

The article is full of quotes from baffled professors, who, like myself, see this as a terrible move for the state.

The cited reason by one of the authors of the bill cite low turnout as the reason. But if they want minuscule trun-out, going to June is the way to produce it. Just look at any June-primary state.

The real reason appears to be the convenience of local politicians: June means more time to raise money to decide whether or not to run.

Filed under: US Politics | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
Sunday, August 29, 2004
Would Abolishing the EC Save us from Another Florida?

By Steven Taylor @ 4:15 pm

The NYT argues in an editorial today that we should Abolish the Electoral College. In making an argument, the piece notes (twice) that the electoral college creates a greater possibility of “crisis” than would a simple popular vote system. This position is predicated on two flawed assumptions: 1) that losing the popular vote but winning the electoral college is a “crisis” (it is not, given that constitutionally the popular vote does not matter), and 2) that 2000, as a model, demonstrates the weaknesses of the EC.

The problem with the 2000 election, and the ensuing recount brouhaha in Florida, was not the result of the EC, but of the nature of the election itself, which was essentially a popular vote tie. The Electoral College helped to contain the problems of 2000 to within the borders of Florida, rather than being the cause of them.

If we had had a pure popular vote system, the very small difference between Bush and Gore in terms of the popular vote that a nation-wide recount could have resulted. Florida wasn’t the only state that was close.

Gore and Bush were separated by a mere 53,2994 votes-only 0.5% of the overall popular vote-enough, depending on the way the law is written, to trigger a recount. Is the NYT saying that a nation-wide recount would be preferable to one contained to one (or even a few) states?

No matter one’s position on the EC, to argue that 2000 is an example of what’s wrong with the system is not thinking the position through.

The piece makes a number of legitmate points regarding the EC, but they also wholly discount our federal system and the ongoing political significance of states as units. Futher, it is unclear, as noted above, that a popular vote system would have avoided the problems of 2000.

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Election Blogging

By Steven Taylor @ 3:05 pm

Yahoo has compiled a list.

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The President’s Main Job? Security

By Steven Taylor @ 2:28 pm

After going through a set of polls on MTP that demonstrated, in simple terms, that Bush has the edge on national security and Kerry the edge in domestic policy Tom Brokaw stated the following:

MR. BROKAW: […] So I think you see in that poll the challenge for both candidates here. George Bush has to come here, spell out his agenda for the next four years that go beyond fighting the war on terrorism and dealing with issues like education.

I have no qualm with the basic statement, as it reflects the political reality. However, my main reaction is: the President’s job is national security, it isn’t education, medical care, or even jobs-certainly not constitutionally. Yes, some of those policy issues have been captured by the federal government, and yes, presidents pretend like they can influence these things, but the actual influence is far more limited than they will admit.

Bottom line: if you are electing a president, and you want to actually vote based on what the president has the power to actually do, then vote based on the foreign policy/military/security dimension.

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Note to the Press: Party Platforms Don’t Mean Much

By Steven Taylor @ 1:42 pm

On MTP today Russert gave Guiliani a hard time about the content of the Republican Party’s platform. Guilani noted that on the big issues of the economy and national security, he was fully in synch with the GOP.

And as Guiliani tried to point out, and as I have noted before, party platforms don’t actually mean much at all. The only time that anyone pays any attention to them is by the committee that writes them and then the week of the convention in which columnists and reporters pick out specific pieces to pick on. Platforms bind neither candidates specifically or parties in general.

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PoliColumn: Venezuela

By Steven Taylor @ 6:54 am

I have a column in today’s Mobile Register on the significance of the recent recall election in Venezuela.

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  • Democracy Project linked with Hemispheric Problem #1: Hugo Chavez
Saturday, August 28, 2004
Pre-RNC Toast (Better Late than Never)

By Steven Taylor @ 11:43 am

-Rounding-up, analyzing and handicapping the 2004 election-

Texas Toast or French Toast?
Tracking the race to the White House.



Well, the toast took a bit longer this week than normal, but here is it: the weekly assessment of the race for the White House along with a round-up and news and analysis.

The President goes into the coming week with an opportunity to make a significant impact in the race. While the numbers are still in the “too close to call” category, they have been trending in his favor of late. Can he build on those numbers? Any measurable bump will be huge, and likely will be covered as such. If the President can get a solid 5 point bump at the end of the week, the convention week will be considered a huge success. Further, it could give the President’s re-election campaign a further opportunity to solidify that growth during the upcoming third anniversary of 911.

As we head into the week in New York, we will be able to see not only the GOP’s infomercial, but the sideshow that will be the protestors. It will be interesting to see who is more damaged by the protests: Bush or Kerry.

  • Protest Early, Protest Often: Protests Come Early, and So Do Arrests.

  • New York braces for protests.
  • Not only GOP fears New York protests
    Protesters opposed to President Bush want the attention of the rest of the nation, even the world, and they will get it.

    Just how they do it worries Democrats, who say protesters’ efforts could backfire if supporters of John Kerry are portrayed on the national news as lawbreakers and anarchists.

  • Both parties lay political groundwork in case of violent protests.
  • Poll: Residents OK With Park Protests
  • Protest Early, Protest Often: Protests Come Early, and So Do Arrests.
  • Largest GOP Convention Protests Planned For Sunday.

And don’t forget to check out RNCBloggers to get on-the-ground reporting from Madison Square Garden.

This Week’s Toast-O-Meter reading

Kerry is taking hits from the Swiftees (as evidenced by the fact that he has decided he must defend himself daily, and that he decided to spend money for ads on the subject—money he was originally planning to save). Meanwhile, Bush has seen an uptick in the polls and is poised to add to that number (at least the opportunity is there for the taking). Of course, the econ news gives him some woes that may burn him.

Based at least partially on the potential inherent in this week, coupled with the poll numbers and the Viet Nam issue, Bush comes out ahead in this week’s Toast-O-Meter. Indeed, this is Bushes best ranking to date:


  • Bush courts rural Michiganders.
  • Courted by Kerry, McCain Taking Major Role for Bush. James Joyner has more on the Bush-McCain Alliance.
  • Bush Crams in Ohio, W.Va. Trips Before RNC.


This is where the action is in this pre-convention week. Not only is the on-going flap over Kerry and the Attack of the SwifteesTM, but there is also the related story of the attack on the 527s themselves, that the President has joined. Meanwhile, the Swiftees have a third ad out.

As I have noted on numerous occasions, all of this is simply the messiness that occurs alongside free speech. And trying to regulate it is both wrong and, for that matter, ultimately impossible. The lesson here should be that regulations on political speech are pointless, but instead it is likely to calls for more rules.

  • Presidential Campaign Ads Take No Break
  • Kerry TV Ad Pins Veterans’ Attack Firmly on Bush.
  • Kerry ad calls on Bush to ‘denounce the smear’.
  • Poll: More Believe Bush Behind Attack Ads.
  • Bush Team Rejects Call to Pull Olympic TV Ad. Makes sense to me: it is a terrific ad.

Brewing Issues

It remains to be the case that terror, Iraq, the economy, and (unfortunately) Viet Nam, remain the main brewing issues of the week.

  • Continued Job Troubles Seen in Crucial States.

  • Bush Aides, in Shift, Say Oil a Drag on Economy.
  • Controversial Overtime Rules Take Effect.
  • One thing is for sure: the Viet Nam debate ain’t going away.
  • Economy More Sluggish Than First Thought. The fact that second quarter growth at only 2.8% (less than the original estimates) will give Kerry a further basis for arguing that Bush has not been a adequate manager of the economy.
  • Along the same lines, some powerful numbers for Kerry to utilize: Ranks of Poor, Uninsured Rose in 2003.
  • Bush has attempted, as least, to quell the criticisms from Kerry, that he isn’t acting fast enough on the 911 Commission’s report: Bush Enhances CIA Role as Interim Reform.


  • Poll: Voters Eyeing National Security
    Concern about national security is dominating public attention in the final months of the presidential campaign because of continuing fears of terrorism and unhappiness about the war in Iraq, according to a poll released Wednesday.

    “For the first time since the Vietnam era, national security issues are looming larger than economic issues in an election year,” said Andrew Kohut, director of the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press.

  • James Joyner notes the new LAT Poll and Robert Tagorda looks inside the numbers.
  • Arab Americans favor Kerry over Bush, poll indicates-War in Iraq seen as main reason for shift from GOP.
  • Poll: Kerry Loses Ground With Voters.
  • Dave Wissing has the national head-to-head numbers.


  • James Joyner has the battleground numbers and EC estimates. Conclusions: as of right now, it is Kerry’s to lose.

  • CNN: Bush holds slight lead in Electoral College.
  • Scott Elliot discusses the electoral college issue in Colorado as do James Joyner and George Will.
  • Check out the latest at Election Projection - 2004 Edition.
  • As always, Dave Wissing has the state-by-state numbers.


  • Kerry Vows to Reverse Job Losses to Overseas

  • Edwards Unveils Plan to Slow Job Losses.
  • Kerry promises to protect consumers under pressure from banks, credit cards.

    Kerry promises to cut health care premiums.


  • Edwards Criticizes Banks on College Loans.

  • This one fits in two categories (it is listed above under “Promises, Promises” as well): Kerry promises to protect consumers under pressure from banks, credit cards.

WHEN PANDER-BEARS ATTACK!! (Wherein it just so happens that I decided to reveal my plan to promote the greater usage of celery as an alternative fuel at the National Celery Association’s annual meeting).

  • Bush Proposes $2 Billion for Florida, Attacks Kerry.
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  • The Command Post - 2004 US Presidential Election linked with Rounding up the Race
  • VodkaPundit linked with Weekend Reading
  • white pebble » RNC: Analysis corner: faith and vodka. linked with a pingback
  • linked with Toast-o-Meter

By Steven Taylor @ 10:44 am

Republicans to Wear Flip-Flops in NYC

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Perhaps, But…

By Steven Taylor @ 10:41 am

To some degree, this reminds me of the D’Amato story that was billed as a major “GOP insider” wanting Cheney off the ticket: Many in GOP Want Bush to Downplay Iraq. The story then quotes a number of GOP strategists I have never heard of. I suspect that it is true that some Reps want Bush to downplay Iraq, it doesn’t strike me a major force in the GOP.

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Friday, August 27, 2004
Keyes Out in Illinois?

By Steven Taylor @ 9:31 pm

Rooftop Report has the scoop.

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No Big Surprise: Bush Tops Kerry With Vets

By Steven Taylor @ 11:25 am

Veterans Mostly Support Bush, National Poll Finds

Despite Kerry’s courting, veterans say they trust President Bush more than Kerry as commander in chief, 56 percent to 38 percent, according to a report released yesterday by the University of Pennsylvania’s National Annenberg Election Survey.

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Some Words Really Don’t Go Together

By Steven Taylor @ 8:51 am

For example: “Nazi” and “Holiday": German Government to Auction Off Nazi Holiday Camp

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But is it a Dish Best Served Cold?

By Steven Taylor @ 7:49 am

Revenge Is Indeed Sweet, Study Finds.

I mean, gee whiz, if you are going to do the research, you should answer the tough questions.

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Now the Question is: Is this Truly the End?

By Steven Taylor @ 7:48 am

Iraq Rebels Leave Najaf Shrine, Hand in Weapons:

Shi’ite fighters left the holiest shrine in the Iraqi city of Najaf Friday and began turning in their weapons, after tens of thousands of pilgrims celebrated a peace agreement that ended a bloody rebellion.

The phrase that was used on NPR this morning, in regards to the Mehdi Army was “disarming, but not disbanding.” And quotes like these tend to bolster that view:

“We will support whatever Ayatollah Sistani and Sayyed Moqtada have agreed. But we will still slit the throats of the Americans,” said one militiaman, Hussein Taama.

Another held an AK-47 rifle which he said was his personal weapon that he would not give up: “I will keep this warm and wait for Sayyed Moqtada’s order.”

To be honest, in such a negotiation, I am not sure that there is an exception for “personal weapons.”

Regardless, one guess that this is far from the last violent episode involving Sadr. The real question is: what will Sistani and the Iraqi government do the next time Sadr foments violence?

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What is it with Naked Protesters?

By Steven Taylor @ 6:28 am

Protests Come Early, and So Do Arrests

In one event yesterday, several members of Act Up blocked traffic, naked, on Eighth Avenue in front of Madison Square Garden, the convention site, to protest the Bush administration’s record on AIDS.

Sure, it gets attention, but does it get the right kind of attention? Indeed, aside from getting to be a blip on the news, and maybe getting tossed in jail, what does this kind of nonsense accomplish?

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Evidence of Explosives Found in Crashed Russian Jet

By Steven Taylor @ 6:20 am

Traces of Explosives Said to Be Found in Wreckage of Russian Jet

Traces of explosives have been found in the wreckage of one of two Russian airliners that crashed nearly simultaneously earlier this week, the Federal Security Service said Friday, a day after a top official acknowledged that terrorism was most likely behind the crashes.

A Web site known for militant Muslim comment, meanwhile, published a claim of responsibility for downing the two planes, connecting the action to Russia’s fight against separatists in Chechnya.

The story notes that the explosive found is called Hexogen and is the same substance used by Chechen terrorists in a 1999 bombing of an apartment building.

The tests are preliminary.

Still, this is looking very much like a terrorist attack.

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Thursday, August 26, 2004
Quote of the Day

By Steven Taylor @ 8:04 pm

“If you’re listening to a rock star in order to get your information on who to vote for, you’re a bigger moron than they are. Why are we rock stars? Because we’re morons. We sleep all day, we play music at night and very rarely do we sit around reading the Washington Journal."-Rock star, Alice Cooper.

Hat tip: The American Mind

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Not the Jedi Academy

By Steven Taylor @ 5:13 pm

A student, noting the presence of a Yoda quote on my courses page, forwarded me a link to the Benedict College story about giving points for effort.

Clearly Master Yoda, who famously stated “[T]ry not. Do, or do not…there is no try” would not have been abe to get tenure at Benedict.

Maybe that’s why he had to hang out in that swamp.

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Some Things Never Change

By Steven Taylor @ 4:40 pm

In practically every high profile (and even low profile) campaign, the challenger dares the incumbent to frequent debates. History repeats itself again: Kerry challenges Bush to weekly debates.

1) That’s simply too many debates-they wouldn’t hold the public’s attentiont.

2) This is largely a ploy so that when Bush turns down the offer (which Kerry knows full well he will do) Kerry can then say that Bush doesn’t want to face him.

3) More debates are almost always to the advantage of the challenger, as the incumbent can make his or her own news without any help, while the challenger is constantly fighting to get into the public eye. As such, it is almost never in the interest of the incumbent to accept this kind of arrangement.

4) Wouldn’t it be nice if the public knew all of this, and made silly maneuvers like this unnecessary?

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Williams Can’t Return to Trojans

By Steven Taylor @ 4:01 pm

Mike Willaims took a gamble and lost.

The smart thing to have done would’ve been to have stayed at USC in the first place. Still, it is unclear to me what harm would have befallen college football if he had been allowed to return.

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Aren’t We All?

By Steven Taylor @ 3:23 pm

McCain ’sick and tired of re-fighting’ Vietnam War

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We Shall See

By Steven Taylor @ 2:48 pm

Sistani Secures Iraq Peace Deal After Bloody Day

Iraq’s most revered Shi’ite leader persuaded a rebel cleric Thursday to accept a deal ending a three-week uprising in Najaf, after returning to the holy city amid bloody clashes that killed at least 74 people.

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And Where Does it Say That in the Constitution?

By Steven Taylor @ 2:44 pm

Judge Strikes Down Partial Birth Abortion Ban

A federal judge on Thursday ruled against the government’s ban on so-called partial birth abortions, saying the measure was unconstitutional because it failed to provide an exception to protect a mother’s health.

I am unaware of the “Women’s Health” (or anyone’s health, for that matter) clause in the constitution. Too bad there is no “health of the baby” clause.

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The Incredible Lightness of Blogging Continues

By Steven Taylor @ 7:32 am

Between classes and meetings yesterday and my folks are visiting as of today, the light blogging continues.

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Wild Story of the Day

By Steven Taylor @ 7:29 am

Thatcher’s Son Held in Failed Africa Coup

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Wednesday, August 25, 2004
Politics as Farce

By Steven Taylor @ 8:48 am

I know that I am largely repeating things I have said before, but I can’t resist-plus, I pay for the bandwidth…

But as I watch this game of “he’s connected to him!” and “he once had lunch with her!” and especially “Republican donors gave money for anti-Kerry ads” and so forth, it simply underscores to me the absurdity of the entire campaign finance “system” that we have devised for ourselves.

First, all of this nonsense about “coordination” (or the lack thereof) or the idea that a car dealership can’t advertise thirty days prior to the election because it bears the name of a candidate or the fact that certain groups can’t say “vote for Kerry” but can imply it, is really all the height of ridiculousness.

All of these silly games are not the result of the fact that we need to tweak the rules-the game is the result of the attempt to regulate freedom of speech. Any such attempts are going to result in convoluted behavior as groups and individuals seek to find a way to get their message out. And yes, some of those messages will be false, ugly and very negative. To which I say: so what? It is an unavoidable element of true freedom of speech, and therefore an acceptable outcome of one of the foundational rights in a democracy.

Second, it should be no surprise that persons who voted Democratic in the past are contributing to anti-Bush 527s and that Republicans are contributing to anti-Kerry 527s. Indeed, not only should it not be a surprise, it should be assumed from the get go.

Third, it shouldn’t be a surprise that people associated in the past with Bush or Republican politics are working with anti-Kerry 527s nor should it be a surprise that former Clinton administration officials are working for Michael Moore, or that persons previously active in the Democratic Party are working for and other anti-Bush 527s. Again, should it not be assumed, prima facie, that this will be the case?

Fourth, it should disturb us all that high elected officials, including the President of the United States and members of the Senate are calling for more laws and rules that would have the effect of curtailing political speech and making this already nonsensical mess even messier.

Fifth, the solution to this is all clear: let citizens contribute to whom they please, allow coordination amongst interested parties, and simply require full disclosure. Don’t let politicians hide behind the fact that they aren’t allowed to coordinate, and don’t let independent groups pretend to be non-partisan when they clearly are (getting partisan isn’t a bad thing, by the way-indeed, we are all partisans in one way or another).

Sixth, all of these rules spring from the proposition that if we did what I just suggested that the people of the US will be too stupid to know who is paying for what and therefore will be too easily manipulated by the ever-evil “monied interests". While I do not deny that citizens are often swayed by advertisements that they ought to ignore, but I far trust the collective capacity of the American voter to filter this information than I do the ability of laws to make sure that the “right” people give money to the “proper” groups in the “sanctioned” amounts to somehow filter out the “bad” speech and the “untrustworthy” groups.

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  • linked with Set Loose the Dollars of War!
  • linked with Set Loose the Dollars of War!
News Round-Up of Russian Crashes

By Steven Taylor @ 6:34 am

Jeff Quinton has it.

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Report of Hijack Alert from one of the Crashed Russian Airliners

By Steven Taylor @ 6:31 am

Two Russian Planes Crash, One Sent Hijack Alert

Two Russian passenger planes crashed almost simultaneously killing all 89 people on board and airline officials said one of the pilots had sent a hijack alert, raising suspicion of a terrorist attack.


“According to the latest statement from the head of the military sector of Russia’s main air control center, a hijack message was indeed received last night from a Sibir Tu-154 aircraft,” Sibir said in a statement.

“The message was generated right before all contact was lost with the plane and it disappeared from radar screens.”


“I rule out pilot error, because even in the most serious conditions which can affect this kind of plane, such as loss of control or fire, the crew always has time to pass on information to the ground,” Yuri Dmitriev, director of Volgograd airport, told Russia’s First Channel television.

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Tuesday, August 24, 2004
Partisan Silliness

By Steven Taylor @ 7:53 pm

This particular charge has always struck me as ludicrous: 38 VACATIONS - IN LESS THAN FOUR YEARS?!. As if any president actually goes on a real vacation. It is rank silliness and partisan sniping at its worst. There hasn’t been a president, Republican or Democrat, in the modern era who could actually take a vacation from his job. Presidents are literaly on call 24/7, even if they aren’t sitting at their desk at the White House.

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  • The Unusual Suspects linked with The Lunch Beat
  • The Unusual Suspects » The Lunch Beat linked with a pingback
Covering the Abu Ghraib Report

By Steven Taylor @ 12:14 pm

I am finding the coverage of the pre-release of the report to be a bit odd. All the headlines I have seen or heard on the radio lead with the idea, such as this one: Abu Ghraib Report Faults Top Officials, that the report is going to really show how upper brass were directly responsible. Then body of the story says things like this:

The Pentagon’s most senior civilian and military officials share a portion of blame for creating conditions that led to the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal in Iraq, according to a new report.


A person familiar with the report said it implicitly faulted Rumsfeld and Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, by finding that those responsible for the military prison system in Iraq were operating under confusing policies on allowable interrogation techniques.

IS this really news? It seems to me that by definition there was inadequate supervision and training-because if there had been adequates levels of either, what happened would likely not have happened. As such, the idea that the report has some shocking revelation about upper brass appears to be a distortion.

And a report that “implicitly” faults the top brass isn’t as serious as explicitly doing so.

Now, the lack of training and supervion is a very serious issue, but it is far cry from direct involvement, which is what the headline implies.

I am not downplaying the report, but the reporting strikes me as an attempt to write a particular story which appears not to be there.

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Carter on Venezuela

By Steven Taylor @ 10:31 am

President Carter discusses the vote in Venezuela in today’s WSJ.

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Gandelman on Sabato

By Steven Taylor @ 10:02 am

Joe Gandelman discusses the latest from Larry Sabato and has a radical (but perhaps the only) solution to the problem of Viet Nam and US politics.

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Hitchens on Kerry and Viet Nam

By Steven Taylor @ 7:37 am

Writes Hitchens in Slate

John Kerry actually claims to have shot a fleeing Viet Cong soldier from the riverbank, something that I personally would have kept very quiet about. He used to claim that he was a witness to, and almost a participant in, much worse than that. So what if he has been telling the absolute truth all along? In what sense, in other words, does his participation in a shameful war qualify him to be president of the United States? This was a combat of more than 30 years ago, fought with a largely drafted army using indiscriminate tactics and weaponry against a deep-rooted and long-running domestic insurgency. (Agent Orange, for example, was employed to destroy the vegetation in the Mekong Delta and make life easier for the swift boats.) The experience of having fought in such a war is absolutely useless to any American today and has no bearing on any thinkable fight in which the United States could now become engaged. Thus, only the “character” issues involved are of any weight, and these are extremely difficult and subjective matters. If Kerry doesn’t like people disputing his own version of his own gallantry, then it was highly incautious of him to have made it the centerpiece of his appeal.


He continues:

Meanwhile, even odder things are happening to Kerry’s “left.” Michael Moore, whose film Kerry’s people have drawn upon in making cracks about the president and the My Pet Goat moment, repeatedly says that you can’t comment on the Iraq war—or at least not in favor of it—if you haven’t shown a willingness to send a son to die there. Comes the question—what if you haven’t got a son of military age? Comes the next question—should it only be veterans or potential veterans who have a voice in these matters? If so, then what’s so bad about American Legion types calling Kerry a traitor to his country? The Democrats have made a rod for their own backs in uncritically applauding their candidate’s ramrod-and-salute posture.

Also indeed. Further, this whole public discussion over Viet Nam era service has been, at its base logic, surreal. The basic argument is that Kerry is qualified to be CinC by virtue of his service, and that the vets who support him are unimpeachable because they are, well, vets. Hence, the underlying logic of the Kerry campaign position is: Viet Nam service confers veracity and wisdom. However, since he is being criticized by other veterans of the same war, often of the same incidences, if we apply the logic of the Kerry camp, they should be believed also, excpet for the fact that they are partisan hacks and aren’t covered in the same magic that veterans who support Kerry are draped.

Please understand: I am not saying that being a veteran means you are automatically to be believed, nor am I making this argument to support the claims made against Kerry’s record (as I have noted on numerous occassions, I think that attacking his medals was a mistake)-however, that is precisely the predicate upon which Kerry’s arguments are based, until such a time as a veteran opposes him.

Ultimately, it seems to me that it would be a wonderful thing if we stopped the Vet v. Vet routine and talked about stuff that happened in Kerry’s life, oh, I don’t know, during the last three decades.

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From the “You Don’t Say?” Department

By Steven Taylor @ 7:08 am

Negative Attacks Often Prove Effective

While politicians decry negative advertising and personal attacks, the bottom line is that such tactics often work.

I swear, this story gets run every electoral cycle.

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Oh, My.

By Steven Taylor @ 7:06 am

DeGeneres to Star in ‘Oh, God!’ Remake

Comedian Ellen DeGeneres (news) is getting a promotion-to supreme being. DeGeneres will star as God in a remake of the 1977 comedy “Oh, God!”

The original starred George Burns as the creator and John Denver as a supermarket manager tapped as a new prophet.

Somehow, I ain’t seein’ it.

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  • The Moderate Voice linked with Brace Yourself
The Real “Last Chance"? We Shall See

By Steven Taylor @ 6:55 am

Iraq Gives Rebels Hours to Give Up, Battle Rages

Iraq warned Shi’ite rebels besieged in a holy shrine in the city of Najaf to surrender or face an attack later on Tuesday that would “wipe them out,” as government forces entered the battle zone for the first time.


“We are in the last hours. This evening, Iraqi forces will reach the doors of the shrine and control it and appeal to the Mehdi Army to throw down their weapons,” interim Defense Minister Hazim al-Shalaan told a news conference at a U.S. military base outside the southern city.

“If they do not, we will wipe them out.”

The ultimatum is the latest in a series of threats from the U.S.-backed interim government that Iraqi forces will storm the shrine to disarm the militia.

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Seattle Times Columnist Fired for Plagiarism

By Steven Taylor @ 5:48 am

I’ll have to add this one to the list of examples to give my students about the seriousness of plagiarism:

The Seattle Times says business columnist and associate editor Stephen H. Dunphy has resigned after admitting he plagiarized the work of other journalists.


Dunphy, a 37-year employee of the newspaper, had written a business column since 1993 and was named associate editor in June 2003.


A reader had pointed out that a Jan. 19, 1997, story by Dunphy contained seven paragraphs originally published in the Journal of Commerce’s AirCommerce Special on March 25, 1996. The stories discussed expansion of airports in Asia.

Dunphy said he did not recall what happened but agreed the Journal should have been credited, the newspaper said.

A similar incident occurred in April 2000, when Dunphy used — also without attribution — several anecdotes and some language from the book “About This Life” by Barry Lopez, the Times reported Sunday.

Source: Seattle Times Business Columnist Resigns.

Of course, I could use this opportunity to mention other examples of sloppiness from the Times, but I guess I shall refrain.

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Monday, August 23, 2004

By Steven Taylor @ 8:09 pm

I don’t know of any other way to describe the following save for ridiculous. Said President Bush today:

“That’s what I’ve just said. I said this kind of unregulated soft money is wrong for the process…. I frankly thought we’d gotten rid of that when I signed the McCain-Feingold (campaign finance reform) bill. I thought we were going to-once and for all-get rid of a system where people could just pour tons of money in and not be held to account for the advertising. And so I’m disappointed with all of those kinds of ads.”

First off, that was a poor reading of the law and a misunderstanding of the issue if thought that before he signed the law. Second, as I keep saying, why shouldn’t private citizens be able to donate money to support political speech? Third, no law is ever going to successfully ban negative ads from politics. It. Is. Impossible. And even if it was possible, the cure would be worse than the ailment.

Note to Bush and Kerry both: put forth your ideas about governance and let the voters decide. There’s a novel concept.

Source: Bush Assails TV Attack Ads

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I’d Give that Policy an “F”

By Steven Taylor @ 7:57 pm

Jeff Quinton points to this story about a grade policy at Benedict College in which students were awarded 60% of their grades based on “efffort” which led to the firing of two professors who bucked the policy:

Benedict College has fired two professors who refused to go along with a policy that says freshmen are awarded 60 percent of their grades based on effort and the rest on their work’s academic quality.

Benedict President David Swinton says the Success Equals Effort policy gives struggling freshmen a chance to adapt to college academics. He expects students to improve - the formula drops to 50-50 in the sophomore year and isn’t used in the junior or senior year. But he says he’s “interested in where they are at when they graduate, not where they are when they get here.”

Students “have to get an A in effort to guarantee that if they fail the subject matter, they can get the minimum passing grade,” Swinton said. “I don’t think that’s a bad thing.”

Well, yes it is if the point of grades is to measure the degree to which students have mastered the material. And how does one measure “effort” anyway? Surely the best test of how hard one has worked is how well one has mastered the material-and yes, some people have to work harder than others. Such is life, I’m afraid.

I understand the goal of trying to help those who are staying well behind the curve, but don’t call it college-level work.

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  • mypetjawa v. 2.0 (beta) linked with Efforts Based Grading
  • Backcountry Conservative linked with Effort Grading Under Accreditation Scrutiny?
Busy Day/Light Blogging

By Steven Taylor @ 7:49 pm

No, I didn’t fall into a hole-today was the first day of the new semester and I have three classes to teach on Ms & Ws, hence the substantial lightness of blogging today.

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A Different Kind of Medal Politics

By Steven Taylor @ 8:25 am

Blair refuses to travel to US to pick up Bush war honour

Prime Minister Tony Blair is refusing to fly to the United States to receive a medal bestowed on him by the nation for his support over last year’s Iraq war.

US President George W. Bush has put huge pressure on his closest ally to pick up the Congressional Medal of Honor in person, the Sunday Mirror quoted a senior British government source as saying.

No doubt there is a sincere desire by Bush to honor Blair. On the other hand, at this point the political implications of awarding the medal during the campaign season are quite stark-not to mention the effects on British domestic politics.

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  • Begging To Differ linked with BLAIR SNUBBING BUSH OVER MEDAL OF HONOR?
GOP Woes in Ohio

By Steven Taylor @ 6:37 am

GOP Hopes Local Turmoil Won’t Hurt Bush

a host of local controversies have scuffed the Republican brand name in Ohio. The most malodorous of these involves allegations of improper fundraising and self-dealing by the two consultants to Republican state House Speaker Larry Householder.


These disclosures may be titillating, but no analysts of Ohio politics think they will be a large factor in the presidential vote. The problem for Republicans is that something need not be a large factor this year to be a pivotal one. As Taft put in a recent interview, “Ohio may be this year’s Florida. This will be too close to call until November 2nd,” he said. “I don’t think there’s any state that’s going to be as closely divided.”

In a survey last week by the University of Cincinnati’s Ohio Poll, Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) led Bush among likely voters 48 to 46 percent, with independent Ralph Nader garnering 1 percent. A Gallup poll in Ohio also showed a two-point spread favoring Kerry, but when the pool of respondents was expanded to include all registered voters, not just people who voted last time, Kerry was ahead by 10 points.

In such an environment, in which Democrats are eager to stoke grievance wherever they can, the Kerry campaign said it is ready to point to the mess in Columbus as evidence that a shake-up is needed across the board. Kerry state chairman James Ruvolo said the scandal “just fuels voters’ desire for change.”

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Flying in and Flying Out: Bush in NYC

By Steven Taylor @ 6:33 am

It’s a Nice Place to Visit, but He Can’t Stay

Mr. Bush may not spend a single night in the city that helped transform his presidency. At this point, the unofficial plan is for him to arrive in Manhattan sometime on Thursday, Sept. 2, the final day of the four-day convention, deliver his acceptance speech that night, then leave immediately for Pennsylvania.

Campaign officials say that the schedule could still change, and that Mr. Bush may have a brief New York sleepover in the end. But either way, the incumbent president has no plans to visit ground zero, or to hang around in his room at the Waldorf-Astoria for days watching the party on television.

So if this will not be the shortest time a presidential nominee has spent at a nominating convention - President Franklin D. Roosevelt did not even go to the Democratic National Convention in 1944, during World War II - it is close. Senator John Kerry spent two days at his party’s convention in Boston last month; Mr. Bush’s father spent four days at the 1992 Republican convention in Houston.

Republicans acknowledge that one reason for the president’s quick drop-by is their concern that he not be seen as taking advantage of the deaths of 3,000 people. What seemed like a good idea a year and a half ago, before Mr. Bush put on a flight suit and declared major combat operations in Iraq at an end, does not seem like such a good idea in the highly charged political environment now. “They are being very sensitive not to exploit 9/11,'’ said one Republican close to the campaign.

Interesting. The 911 issue will be a delicate one to address, to be sure. I think that there is potential political gain for the President as a result of the anniversary, but it does depend on how it is handled.

I wonder if security has anything to do with this move in addition to the political calculus?

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That’s Some Margin of Error

By Steven Taylor @ 6:27 am

Controversial Overtime Rules Take Effect

the Kerry campaign and organized labor say the regulations will exempt up to six million additional workers from receiving overtime pay by redefining which workers qualify for time-and-a-half pay when they work more than 40 hours. But the administration asserts that no more than 107,000 workers will lose their eligibility, while 1.3 million workers will gain the right to overtime.

That’s what you call “the fog of politics".

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Sunday, August 22, 2004
Sometimes Being Lucky is All You’ve Got

By Steven Taylor @ 3:54 pm

Broken toilet proved Miami gun smugglers’ undoing, feds say

A conspiracy to sell guns to opposing sides in Colombia’s civil war surfaced when cardboard boxes stuffed with guns fell from the false ceiling of a storage unit, crashed into a toilet and ruptured a water pipe, officials said.


The alleged conspiracy was discovered June 12, when tenants using a garage-bay storage space noticed water leaking into their units from a neighboring space. They broke in and found the damaged toilet.


The discovery sparked an undercover investigation by the ATF and Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents. They discovered more weapons caches in warehouses, shipping containers and a Homestead home.

Using undercover informants, agents set up a phony arms shipment last month. Two suspects placed ammunition into large freezers and refrigerators in another warehouse.

The freezers and refrigerators were placed into a 40-foot shipping container, along with other household appliances, and sent it off to the Port of Miami-Dade for shipment to Venezuela.

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Bush Volunteer Dismissed over Swift Boat Connection

By Steven Taylor @ 3:24 pm

Bush Campaign Drops Swift Boat Ad Figure

The Bush campaign said late Saturday that it dismissed an adviser on veterans issues after learning that he is part of an independent group that has been running anti-Kerry ads.

The Bush campaign said Kenneth Cordier, who appears in a new advertisement to be aired by the anti-Kerry group, Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, will no longer serve in his voluntary position on Bush’s veterans steering committee. A Bush spokesman said Cordier had not previously informed the campaign that he had been involved with the group, but the Kerry campaign said the matter provides evidence supporting its complaint to the Federal Election Commission alleging illegal cooperation between the campaign and the independent group.

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Speaking of McCain-Feingold…

By Steven Taylor @ 8:30 am

George Will notes yet another example of how the law is having unintended consequences in regards to speech, which may have the effect of disuading some in the business community from running for federal office.

And I must concur with his conclusions:

The Supreme Court’s affirmation of McCain-Feingold was a watershed in the nation’s constitutional experience. The First Amendment will be forever open to statutory dilution, at least as it pertains to political speech. (The court has placed pornography essentially beyond the reach of regulation.) Henceforth, the guarantee of freedom of political speech is being steadily circum- scribed in the name of political hygiene. The right of free expression can be trumped by the supposed imperative of combating “corruption” or “the appearance” thereof, which is to say, where probably no actual corruption exists.

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The “Real Issues"-If Only

By Steven Taylor @ 8:19 am

“Senator Kerry wants to address the real issues of this campaign” - so said Kerry’s campaign manager on MTP this morning.

My question is: who made Viet Nam the centerpiece of their campaign? I return to this.

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Free Speech and the Swifties

By Steven Taylor @ 8:16 am

Another thought: I can see why the Kerry campaign, its allies, and even John McCain are angry/have criticized the first Swifty ad. However, while one might not like the second ad, there is nothing that is factually wrong with it. Kerry did make the statement that are excerpted in the advertisement and the veterans who are quoted did feel wounded by Kerry’s post-war actions. As a purely First Amendment matter, where are the ground for saying that that ad should be taken off the air, and on what basis should we say that a group of veterans shouldn’t be allowed to raise money and use it to make those statements?

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“Shadowy Groups” and that Pesky First Amendment Thing

By Steven Taylor @ 7:58 am

The following is from a daily press briefing this past week that I meant to address several days ago. The quotes are all from White House Press Secretary Scott McLellan, as quoted in WaPo

The President has condemned all of the ads by the shadowy groups. We have called on Senator Kerry to join us in calling for an end to all the unregulated soft money activity that is going on in this campaign.


And the President has condemned all of the ads and condemned all of the soft money - unregulated soft money that is going on. Senator Kerry should join us in calling for an end to all of this soft money - unregulated soft money activity. Senator Kerry has declined to do so.


the President thinks that we should get rid of all of this unregulated soft money activity by these shadowy groups. It’s not known who is contributing to these groups. The President believes that there ought to be full disclosure and rapid disclosure of contributions.

Let’s think about all of this for a minute, as it shows what happens when we start passing laws that regulate political speech: it gives cause for more regulation. It is a true slipperly slope. So, here we have the Press Secretary of the President of the United States stating that there should be a ban on the ability of citizens of the United States of the America to collect money to spend for the express purpose of airing their political views. This is, to me, a stark, striking and unsettling set of statements.

And again, I say: thank you McCain-Feingold-the worst piece of legislation signed by this President, and perhaps one of the worst pieces of legislation signed in some years.

Now, it is clear that McClellan is trying to find an artful (he failed, obviously) way to condemn the Swifties without condemning them while simultaneously putting the ball in Kerry’s court. This is a political statement, not a policy one, though it is couched in policy terms. Nevertheless, this is the kind of political rhetoric that has the unfortunate capacity to end up as public policy.

Even if we all agree that we think that the 527s, taken as a whole, promote speech we don’t like, it is worth the price we have to pay as a democracy to try and filter out that speech from the public discourse? Keep in mind: selective filters rarely work as designed.

I blame the Congress for passing a bad law, President Bush for signing it (while all the while hoping and thinking that the Supreme Court would overturn it instead of having the courage to veto it), and the Supreme Court for not adequately protecting the Constitution of the United States.

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  • Signifying Nothing linked with Bush is one bad-ass MFer
PoliColumn: State Education Budget Surplus

By Steven Taylor @ 7:33 am

Here’s an exceprt from my latest column, which is Ala-centric this go ’round:

`Crying Wolf Syndrome’ affects reform
Sunday, August 22, 2004

We had some unusual news earlier this month, news that we in the state of Alabama are not used to hearing: We may end the fiscal year with a surplus in the state’s education budget. If one has worked in education in the state, or went to school in the state, or has children in public schools, then one knows that surpluses are hardly the norm.

The whole thing is here.

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Saturday, August 21, 2004
What’s Wrong with this Picture?

By Steven Taylor @ 8:00 pm

Ok, so according to the online TV Guide I can partake of such joys as “Gay Weddings” on Bravo, the Little League World Series on ESPN2 or the Jets@Colts on ESPN but I can’t see the Dallas-Oakland game? That, my friends, just ain’t right.

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Getting the Money Out…Aw, You Get the Picture

By Steven Taylor @ 5:32 pm

Fundraising Doubles the Pace of 2000 (

The Bush and Kerry campaigns, the two national parties and independent political groups have raised more than $1 billion so far this year, almost double the presidential cash collected at this stage in the 2000 election season, campaign reports released yesterday show.

The contributions range from the $10 million-plus in donations to new “shadow party” groups, to a record volume of small contributions being made both through the Internet and direct mail.


The most dramatic shift has been at the Republican and Democratic national committees, which in this cycle were for the first time barred from collecting unlimited “soft money” contributions from corporations, unions and the wealthy.

Despite the ban, the RNC and DNC are far ahead of where they were at roughly this stage in 2000. The exact difference cannot be determined because the parties reported quarterly in 2000 and report monthly now.

Much of the loss of soft money has been made up with a surge of small-donor support. At the DNC and RNC, contributions of less than $200 have more than doubled from the 1999-2000 cycle - from $26.2 million to $64.4 million at the DNC, and from $58 million to $117 million at the RNC.


Another reflection of the money surge in the current election cycle can be seen in the large donations. In 1999-2000, actress Jane Fonda set what many believe was then a record with a $12.3 million contribution to Pro-Choice Vote.

In this cycle, that record has been broken twice. Financier George Soros has given a total of $12.7 million, and insurance executive Peter B. Lewis has given $14 million.

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Dream Team? Not so Much

By Steven Taylor @ 4:53 pm

Lithuania makes Team USA two-time loser for first time

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By Steven Taylor @ 3:49 pm

Sean Hackbarth has the latestHouse of Ketchup.

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Where the Debate Really Should be Focused

By Steven Taylor @ 2:39 pm

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I Think We’ve Been Here Before…

By Steven Taylor @ 11:31 am

Sadr’s Men Hold Iraq Shrine in Defiance of Govt

Fighters loyal to Iraqi cleric Moqtada al-Sadr retained their grip on the Imam Ali shrine in Najaf on Saturday, dampening hopes that talks with religious authorities would quickly end a two-week siege.

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On False Dichotomies

By Steven Taylor @ 11:16 am

Said John Kerry about President Bush on Thursday: “Well, if he wants to have a debate about our service in Vietnam, here is my answer: ‘Bring it on.’”

I will concede something straight-up: if the choice is between the service Kerry rendered in Viet Nam versus Bush’s tenure in the Air National Guard, then Kerry wins. There is no doubt that Kerry’s service is more impressive and was more dangerous.

However, the problem that Kerry is facing is that he himself has set up his campaign as Kerry-the-Viet Nam-vet versus Bush-the-sitting-president. Kerry’s argument is clear: because he has seen combat, he will be a better and more responsible CinC than Bush has been. The argument isn’t about Kerry’s whole career versus Bush’s, but about Kerry’s Viet Nam service versus Bush’s whole career.

There is no doubt that Kerry would like the debate to be about Kerry the Swift Boat commander versus Bush the Air National Guard Pilot, but that isn’t what the debate is ever going to be about.

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The New Swift Ad

By Steven Taylor @ 10:44 am

Group to Air Ad Attacking Kerry’s 1971 Testimony

A new ad by the anti-Kerry group Swift Boat Veterans for Truth condemns the Democratic nominee for making allegations of war crimes and atrocities committed by American soldiers. “It hurt me more than any physical wounds I had,” a Vietnam veteran says in the ad about Kerry’s highly publicized testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 1971.

This ad (which you can view here) gets to the heart of why the Swifites don’t like Kerry is what they should have led with and stayed with. The whole medal business degenerates into an unseemly he-said/he-said food fight that is unresolvable.

However, there is no denying Kerry’s post-war activities and those actions are a fully legitimate area of attack. Further, Kerry himself has left himself open to these attacks by essentially basing his entire campaign for president on his four and a half month in theater in Viet Nam.

He wishes to have it both ways: war hero and self-admitted war criminal wh had the courage to tell the truth. The two are incompatible.

The Senator’s continued lack of discussion of the bulk of his political carerr underscores his vulnerability politically speaking, and is why these ads are having an effect and why he is responding:

With polls showing attacks on Kerry’s war record reaching large numbers of voters and resonating with many independents and veterans, the Democratic National Committee defended Kerry with a new ad, featuring retired Air Force Gen. Merrill A. McPeak - a Bush supporter in 2000. “John Kerry has the strength and common sense we need in a commander in chief,” McPeak says in the ad. Kerry will try to shift the focus back to President Bush with an ad that will be unveiled tomorrow, a top aide said.

And this is an anemic defense:

Yesterday, Kerry did not respond to the new allegations, although aides said his testimony was directed at military leadership, not the soldiers fighting in Vietnam.

This is in direct contradiction to Kerry’s own words. He directly accussed his fellow soldiers of “Randoming firing at civlians” of cutting of heads and arms, and all manner of other atrocities, and he charged that they happened daily. These were not charges leveled primarily at the upper command and at Washington, they were leveled squarely at the soldiers in the field.

To me, the new commerical, and this line of attack, is far more devsating that the nebulous arguments over Kerry’s Bronze Star and his Purple Hearts.

And this response is aslo anemic:

In defense of Kerry, aides distributed a copy of the candidate’s comments on NBC’s “Meet the Press” earlier this year, when he conceded the language was sometimes excessive. “I think some soldiers were angry at me for that, and I understand that and I regret that, because I love them,” Kerry said on the April 18 program. “But the words were honest, but on the other hand they were a little bit over the top.”

“But the words were honest.”

I would again re-visit that April 18th MTP transcript:

MR. RUSSERT: You used the word “war criminals.”

SEN. KERRY: Well, let me just finish. Let me must finish. It was, I think, a reflection of the kind of times we found ourselves in and I don’t like it when I hear it today. I don’t like it, but I want you to notice that at the end, I wasn’t talking about the soldiers and the soldiers’ blame, and my great regret is, I hope no soldier–I mean, I think some soldiers were angry at me for that, and I understand that and I regret that, because I love them. But the words were honest but on the other hand, they were a little bit over the top. And I think that there were breaches of the Geneva Conventions. There were policies in place that were not acceptable according to the laws of warfare, and everybody knows that. I mean, books have chronicled that, so I’m not going to walk away from that. But I wish I had found a way to say it in a less abrasive way.

This is in response to clips of Kerry from 1971 using the words “war criminals” and “atrocities.” And I will note that he is complaining about policy in the field that led to the results. Nonetheless, the acusations are squarely leveled at the men who committed the acts.

More from the interview:

MR. RUSSERT: But, Senator, when you testified before the Senate, you talked about some of the hearings you had observed at the winter soldiers meeting and you said that people had personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals and on and on. A lot of those stories have been discredited, and in hindsight was your testimony…

SEN. KERRY: Actually, a lot of them have been documented.

MR. RUSSERT: So you stand by that?

SEN. KERRY: A lot of those stories have been documented. Have some been discredited? Sure, they have, Tim. The problem is that’s not where the focus should have been. And, you know, when you’re angry about something and you’re young, you know, you’re perfectly capable of not–I mean, if I had the kind of experience and time behind me that I have today, I’d have framed some of that differently. Needless to say, I’m proud that I stood up. I don’t want anybody to think twice about it. I’m proud that I took the position that I took to oppose it. I think we saved lives, and I’m proud that I stood up at a time when it was important to stand up, but I’m not going to quibble, you know, 35 years later that I might not have phrased things more artfully at times.

Notice three things: 1) he never directly answers Russert’s question, 2) he affirms the accusations in a sideways manner, and 3) talks about quibbling and artfully discussing accussation such as multilation, rape and torture.

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  • The American Mind linked with Post-Vietnam Kerry
Speaking of the Perverse Effects of Campaign Finance Laws…

By Steven Taylor @ 9:39 am

Kerry takes legal action against Vietnam critics

In a statement released to reporters, Kerry’s campaign announced it had “filed a legal complaint against Swift Boat Veterans for Truth (SBVT) before the Federal Election Commission (news - web sites) (FEC) for violating the law with inaccurate ads that are illegally coordinated with the Bush-Cheney presidential campaign.”


The New York Times on Friday reported that there is a “web of connections” between the Swift Boat group and the “Bush family, high-profile Texas political figures and President Bush (news - web sites)’s chief political aide, Karl Rove.”

As I stated on Thursday, groups like SWVfT and MoveOn.Org exist because of the current batch of campaign finance laws, and further, those laws give campaigns plausible deniability in terms of the actions of those groups.

For example: if the Bush campaign could coordinate with the Swifties, then the Bushies would have a higher incentive of reigning in the more outrageous claims of the group. Or, if people could give soft money to the RNC, then the Bush campaign would be forced to take responsibility for its own party’s actions. However, current law forbids coordination by campaigns with outside groups, and forbids the giving of large amounts of money to parties. As a result, you have the 527 phenomenon.

Also: this “web of connection” argument is nuts. Since when did playing “six degrees of separation” equate to coordination? Is Michael Moore coordinating with the Kerry campaign because he employed former Clinton officials? I NBC coordinating with the Kerry campaign because they recently signed a exclusive TV deal with his giographer? Is CNN coordinating with Kerry because Carville and Begala, who ran the Clinton campaigns, are regulars on Crossfire?

Is is surprising that connections could be discovered between Republicans in Texas and Karl Rove, whose pre-White House career was being a Texas-based consultant to Republicans?

As an aside: I find the obsession with Karl Rove to be rather amusing, insofar as to hear the pro-Kerry side tell it, Rove is practically Merlin, able to will damage on Kerry and a win for Bush.

Hat tip: James Joyner.

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  • Backcountry Conservative linked with Kerry Lawsuit over Swift Vets Ad
Hey Ma, Look! Money in Politics (Over $1 Billion)

By Steven Taylor @ 9:30 am

Candidate, Party Spending Tops $1 Billion

Spending by presidential and congressional candidates and the national party committees that support them already tops $1 billion for the 2004 election cycle, with more than two months of campaigning to go.

President Bush alone devoted $209 million to his re-election effort through July, a campaign finance report he filed Friday shows.

The spending by Bush, Democratic rival John Kerry, congressional candidates and national party committees had surpassed $1 billion by the end of June, the period covered by the most recent finance reports many of them filed.

Kerry spent nearly $150 million through June, his most recent finance report to the Federal Election Commission shows. His report covering July was due at the FEC by midnight Friday.

In addition, Senate and House candidates spent $487 million from January 2003 through last June, and national party committees burned through more than $400 million, their reports covering the 18-month period show.

The spending tops mid-election year levels in 2002 and 2000, when national party committees could still raise corporate, union and unlimited donations known as soft money.

As the highlighted lines demonstrated, McCain-Feingold has failed at its most fundamental goal-reducing the amount of money in politics. The sad thing is that these numbers will be used by reformers to argue that more rules are needed, rather than demonstrating the futility of the effort and the perverse effects the rules have on our politics.

If companies will spend milions trying to get us to buy one brand of light beer over another, why is it a shock that copious amounts of cash are spent to influence who governs?

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Friday, August 20, 2004
Polling Firm Stands by Venezuelan Exit Polling Data

By Steven Taylor @ 1:22 pm

U.S. Firm Defends Venezuela Exit Poll

A U.S. pollster whose firm wrongly predicted President Hugo Chavez would lose a recall referendum on Thursday defended the exit poll, which has landed in the center of a national controversy.


“We’ve done this all over the world,” Schoen said in a telephone interview. “To be off by 34 points as we are alleged to be, strains credulity — there was no real independent verification of the electronic count. There was almost certainly fraud in the central counting process,” he said.

The opposition also claims electronic voting machines were rigged, but has provided no conclusive evidence.

Carter and Gaviria, both experienced election monitors, have said their independent sampling of results conformed with the official results.

Critics of the exit poll have questioned how it was conducted because Penn, Schoen & Berland worked with a U.S.-funded Venezuela group that the Chavez government considers to be sided with the opposition.

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The Story that Keeps on Changing

By Steven Taylor @ 12:58 pm

Sadr Militia Still Controls Iraq Shrine -Witnesses

Shi’ite fighters appeared still to be in control of a holy shrine in Najaf on Friday after Iraq’s interim government said it had overcome a bloody uprising by seizing the Imam Ali mosque without a shot being fired.

Witnesses in the southern city said Mehdi Army militiamen loyal to radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr controlled the narrow alleyways leading to the mosque. Police were nowhere to be seen.

Iraqi police in Najaf told CNN they did not control the site, the country’s holiest Shi’ite shrine, the broadcaster reported.


U.S. Rear Admiral Greg Slavonic said he could not confirm the Najaf mosque was in government hands. He added there were rumors Sadr had fled but his whereabouts were unknown.

“We have no confirmation or intelligence on where he may be,” Slavonic said.

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A Phrase I am Weary of

By Steven Taylor @ 9:06 am

That phrase: “Texas Republicans” as in the “Swift Vote veterans for Truth ads were funded in large part by money from Texas Republicans.”

First off, the Texas connection, aside from the fact that the President is from there, is irrelevant. Does anyone know in which state George Soros resides? As in “” has received boatloads of cash from (fill in the state) Democrats?”

Second, who does the press think would fund a anti-Kerry ad? Democrats?

This gripe has nothing to do with the veracity of either group, just a press-ism that is getting on my nerves.

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Bush Ad Blitz

By Steven Taylor @ 9:06 am

Bush Spending Neared $50 Million in July

A fresh wave of ads pushed President Bush (news - web sites)’s spending to nearly $46 million for July, the Republican’s highest level since he launched the first ad blitz of his re-election campaign in March, a campaign finance report filed Friday shows.


Bush took in a record $242 million from the official start of his campaign in May 2003 through last month. He started August with $32.5 million left and about $458,000 in bills to pay.

The story also notes that Kerry’s campaign had raised $203 million as of July 20th. I guess that the days of matching funds and spending caps are gone-at least for the first tier candidates-yet more evidence that attempts to control money in campaigns via artificial barriers is ultimately futile.

It further begs the question as to why any public monies should be spent in terms of even minute partial public financing, given all the amount of private funds which are clearly available.

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Iraqi Police in Control of Shrine

By Steven Taylor @ 9:01 am

Iraqi Police in Control of Najaf Shrine-Ministry

Iraqi police took control of the Imam Ali Mosque in the holy city of Najaf on Friday after entering the shrine and finding that militia loyal to a radical cleric had left, the Interior Ministry said.

“The Iraqi police are now in control of the shrine, along with the religious authorities,” said a senior ministry spokesman.

The spokesman said the city was calm.

Now the question become whether Sadr will use his “last” chance or whether the government will find itself having to give him another one.

The idea that an armed group could lay down its arms and become a political party/group is not without precedent. However, I am rather doubtful that Sadr’s worldview will allow him to do so.

Further, I remain suspicious of Iranian influences in his actions, which do not bode well for the idea of a democratic transformation of his group.

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Here We Go Again: More Campaign Finance Rules

By Steven Taylor @ 7:07 am

‘Soft Money’ Groups Face New Ground Rules

Interest groups spending big donations on ads and voter outreach in the presidential race will face new limits after the fall election under rules approved by federal regulators. Campaign watchdogs criticized them as too little, too late.

The Federal Election Commission (news - web sites) rules, approved 4-2 Thursday, will require nonparty groups that raise more than $1,000 to take only limited donations from individuals if they tell donors the money will be used to promote or oppose a particular presidential or congressional candidate. They will also have to disclose their financing and spending to the FEC.

The commission also placed new spending restrictions on groups that collect both “soft money” — corporate, union and unlimited donations — and “hard money,” limited donations from individuals.

The commission said the groups will have to use hard money, which is more difficult to raise, to cover at least half the cost of their overhead, nonpartisan voter drives and ads, phone banks and mailings that refer to a federal candidate.

Commissioners who supported the changes argued they would sweep in many groups now criticized for spending soft money on ads and voter drives despite a broad ban on the use of the big donations in federal elections.

“I think we have done something huge,” said Commissioner Ellen Weintraub, a Democrat. “It isn’t tinkering. It’s a big deal.”

Democratic Commissioner Scott Thomas, who voted against the rules and wanted more restrictions, said he feared the regulations would be easy to evade. Groups would just have to alter the phrasing of their fund-raising solicitations to avoid falling under the FEC’s oversight, he said, expressing frustration that the commission didn’t go further.

Didn’t the experience with McCain-Feingold teach these people anything? You can’t stop the money. To quote Scotty in Star Trek III: “The more they overthink the plumbing, the easier it is to stop up the drain.” And, as I have noted before, as long as the federal government is going to collect and spend over 20% of the GDP, people are going to care who gets elected, and will seek to influence who wins office.

And I’m sorry, but speech does require money in an electronic age, so to curtail money is to curtail speech. It is as simple as that.

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Thursday, August 19, 2004
Speaking of Football…

By Steven Taylor @ 7:46 pm

After watching some of the Giants@Carolina I have a few observations:

1) Eli looked pretty good.

2) Ron Dayne didn’t.

3) The Carolina offense looked pretty good.

4) The Giants’ defense didn’t.

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I Have Been Fully Assimilated

By Steven Taylor @ 7:44 pm

I have clearly become a true TiVite. How do I know? Because I was watching live tv (the Giants/Carolina game) and one of the kids needed something and I paused the game without thinking. First, the fact that I reflexively paused a sporting event demonstrates clearly that my tv remote habits have been altered. Second, it occurred to me that since getting TiVo I basically no longer watch live tv.

As I have said before: TiVo rocks.

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Good Jobs News

By Steven Taylor @ 4:59 pm

Jobless Claims Drop for 3rd Straight Week

The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits edged down last week for a third consecutive time, signaling that the labor market may be improving after hitting a speed bump in June and July.

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Hey Look: Campaign Laws Are Getting the Money Out of Politics! Not.

By Steven Taylor @ 4:37 pm

FEC Says Corzine Can Give Unlimited Funds

Wealthy members of Congress can give unlimited amounts of their own money to groups for get-out-the-vote drives even though they are barred from raising big checks for their campaigns or others, election officials said Thursday.

The Federal Election Commission’s 5-1 ruling came in response to a request by Sen. Jon Corzine (news, bio, voting record), a wealthy New Jersey Democrat and chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

Corzine gave more than $2 million to Democratic causes in the 2001-02 election cycle before the nation’s campaign finance law barred national party committees and congressional and presidential candidates from raising or spending corporate union and unlimited donations known as soft money.

OK, so the money can be given in unlimited amounts to private groups, but giving it to political parties is barred by law.

Does this make sense to anyone?

Thank you again, McCain-Feingold.

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From the “Only in America” Department

By Steven Taylor @ 4:29 pm

Porn star tells U.S. military “bullets, not boobs”

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A Question

By Steven Taylor @ 2:37 pm

Here’s the question: is Kerry making a mistake in directly responding to the Swift Boat Vets for Truth charges? My initial reaction is that he is, as it seems like the better strategy is to work to remain above the fray and allow surrogates to fight in the trenches over the ad, book and group. Does he not bring more attention to the Swifties by directly confronting them?

If anything, by directly addressing the attacks, he is guarateeing that more people will hear about the Swfities’ charges.

Also, I would note that the new ad that Kerry’s campaign has put out that directly attacks the Swifties’ ad doesn’t present anything new-it is a restatement of the Rasmussen story. I will grant that that is a powerful incident, and helps Kerry, but if he is going to attack the Swifties directly, new information would be helpful, one would think.

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  • Priorities & Frivolities linked with Fighting Back
Swiftly Changing Media

By Steven Taylor @ 2:16 pm

Dean Esmay notes The Day The Universe Changed.

I think he has a point.

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Stuff You Couldn’t Make Up if You Tried

By Steven Taylor @ 12:56 pm

William Shatner’s Spplat Attack

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Promising Enterprise News

By Steven Taylor @ 12:49 pm

Coto Plans To Fulfill ‘Enterprise’’s Promise

Coto is full of plans for the new season, considering everything from high profile guest stars to ambitious mini-arcs. Coto is hoping to get William Shatner (James T. Kirk) for one of the planned arcs, which recently-hired Enterprise writers Judith Reeves Stevens and Garfield Reeves Stevens, who collaborate with Shatner on his novels, might pen.

“They%u2019re actively talking with him,” Coto said of the network and Shatner. “They%u2019re going back and forth with numbers, I know it%u2019s a tough negotiation. I couldn%u2019t tell you whether it%u2019s going to work out or not, I%u2019m hoping that it will. I know that there is interest from UPN and Paramount, they really want to try and make it work, but it%u2019s a tough negotiation. It [would be] later in the year.”

One familiar Trek face Coto has already snapped up is Brent Spiner (Data), who will play Arik Soong, the ancestor of Dr. Noonien Soong, Data’s creator, in a three-episode arc that is filming now. “When we found out that Brent was interested we tried to tailor it to him, and having seen the dailies he%u2019s terrific in this part,” Coto commented. “For a little while I even toyed with the idea of him playing Colonel Green [from Star Trek’s “The Savage Curtain"], but I think he%u2019s more interesting playing this character.”

Coto also has plans for episodes focusing on the Vulcans, which Trek fans have noted are very different from the Vulcans they’re familiar with in other Star Trek series. “I didn%u2019t present it in the sense of ‘let%u2019s explain it,’” he said of the time when he initially broached the idea of exploring 22nd century Vulcans with Berman and Braga. “It exists, ‘this is what you guys did; let%u2019s use it as a fascinating springboard to tell a terrific story arc that kind of shows the evolution of Vulcan from, kind of, where you guys started to how the Vulcans were in the original series.’ So it wasn%u2019t much to say ‘I%u2019ve gotta explain what you guys did,’ but let%u2019s use it. ‘This is what you did, it%u2019s not going to go away, so let%u2019s use it.’”

One story Coto is planning would take Captain Archer and T’Pol to the deserts of Vulcan. “We%u2019re actually developing that story now and it%u2019s turning into this great, really fascinating Lawrence of Arabia tale with T%u2019Pol and Archer in the desert to go and find these Vulcans who are traitors,” he said.

Coto hopes to address Jolene Blalock’s (T’Pol) hopes that her character will go in a new direction in the fourth season. “By the end of this Vulcan arc she will become hopefully she will find her center as a Vulcan, and will become a Vulcan in the grand tradition of Spock and other Vulcans that we have known, and will accept the true Vulcan calling,” Coto commented.

Fans can even expect the Romulans to show up again, but Coto is very conscious of the fact that continuity demands that no one learns what the Romulans look like. “No one will know what the Romulans look like. No one will know,” he assured fans. “Although I don%u2019t have the whole story worked out yet because we%u2019re still fleshing it out, but there may be a possibility of someone finding out and that person can die. There are ways to do it so that we can preserve canon, but no, no one will find out that they were Romulans.”

Make it so.

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  • Outside The Beltway � linked with Beltway Traffic Jam
Face Life Update II

By Steven Taylor @ 12:43 pm

I figured out my column problem. It was pretty simple: extra-long words = columns that are automatically expanded to make the words fit.

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Please Don’t Report me to Child Protective Services

By Steven Taylor @ 12:29 pm

I apparently have engaged in a hideously tortuous action vis-a-vis my children: putting them in rooms containing more toys that exist in all of Burkino Faso and asking them to *gasp* play for an hour or so.

Oh, the cruel parent that I am.

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One “Last” Chance for Sadr

By Steven Taylor @ 11:43 am

Gov’t Gives Najaf Militants ‘Final Call’

Prime Minister Ayad Allawi issued a “final call” Thursday to Shiite insurgents to disarm and withdraw from a revered shrine after his government threatened a massive onslaught by Iraqi forces. As the peace deal for Najaf unraveled, militants bombarded a police station with mortar rounds, killing seven police and injuring 31 others.

Allawi’s last-ditch warning came shortly after the militants’ leader, radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, rejected the government’s ultimatum with a vow to seek “martyrdom or victory.”

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Another Reason Why Campaign Finance “Reform” Fails

By Steven Taylor @ 11:41 am

It occurs to me that the provisions in the law that forbid the coordination of campaigns with other political groups simply creates a situation in which it is possible for groups like and Swift Boat Veterans for Truth to make outrageous claims and the campaigns themselves can honestly say “not our fault” and “we can’t tell them what to do: that’s the law.” If the money were allowed to go into the campaign coffers themselves, or if the campaigns were allowed to coordinate, then the campaigns themselves would be responsible for everything that was aired (it certainly would make it more difficult for a candidate to distances himself or hershelf from the actions of independent groups). Such a situation would not do away with mudslinging, but it would encourage the campaigns themselves to reign in groups who might create embarrassment for the candidate they support. Right now the incentive is the opposite: campaigns like these kind of groups doing their thing while being able to disassociate from the behavior.

In short: the laws as they stand encourage groups to launch these kinds of ads and the campaigns can appear above the fray. Indeed, the kind of ads that McCain himself decried are encouraged by the incentive structure created by the law that bears his name.

When are we going to wise up and realize that money cannot be taken out of politics, and that these rules contribution to perverse behavior in the system.

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Smart Move

By Steven Taylor @ 10:53 am

Miller to Deliver GOP Keynote Address.

I have heard Zell speak before (he addressed the Troy commencement several years ago) and he’s fine. However, rhetorical flair isn’t the issue: having a Democrat (granted, largely in name only) give the keynote address could have some affect on those swing voter types who might be impressed at the bipartisan symbolism.

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From the “Who Knew?” Department

By Steven Taylor @ 10:39 am

Reports WaPo: How U.S. Fares in Iraq May Sway Swing Voters.

I also hear tell that the economy will affect voters, as will existent partisan identification.

This just in also: Florida will play a pivotal role in the election.

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Face Lift Update

By Steven Taylor @ 9:38 am

Thanks for the all the comments on the new look. I have fixed the problem with the archive pages displaying the middle column incorrectly, as well as changing the font size in the posts. Additionally, the link color in the posts is now a brighter blue, as I was concerned, and one reader noted, that the dark blue and the black looked too similar. I also fixed a few color issues on the sidebars.

The problem that I aware of that I have yet to figure out is why the left sidebar s displaying as wider than the 150 it is supposed to be at. Suggestions welcome. I have fiddled with it a bit, but have yet to figure it out.

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Sadr Reverts to “Trademark Defiance”

By Steven Taylor @ 8:51 am

Fierce Fighting in Iraq’s Najaf, Sadr Defiant

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No Leadership in NJ

By Steven Taylor @ 8:49 am

Corzine Says He Won’t Push McGreevey Outspeaking to Mr. McGreevey by telephone on Wednesday, Mr. Corzine said that the governor appeared determined to remain in office until Nov. 15 and to allow Richard J. Codey, the president of the State Senate, to step in for the remainder of his term, which ends in January 2006.

“The governor made clear in our conversation his absolute intent to serve until Nov. 15, 2004,” Mr. Corzine’s statement said. “I accept that decision as final.”

I will grant, there isn’t much, aside from public pressure and trying to marshall NJ public opinion, that Corzine, or anyone else, can do here.

However, I find the whole situation stunning that he politicians in the state seem dedicated to the proposition that they should roll over and let McGreevey continue to abuse his office.

And let me be clear: my position isn’t about McGreevey’s sexual orientation, nor his political party. I simply find it an affront to democracy that an officeholder would state in public, for clearly self-serving reasons, that he can no longer effectively govern, but that he would consciously stay in office just long enough to deny the voters of his state the opportunity to elect his replacement.

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Wednesday, August 18, 2004
My, How Times Have Changed

By Steven Taylor @ 1:48 pm

Not so long ago, in a state not so far away, a yellow dog could beat a Republican at the polls.

Now, however, an Alabamian is running the RNC, while the Alabama delegation to the DNC had to sit next to Guam.

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Face Lift

By Steven Taylor @ 1:04 pm

Since I am incapable of leaving well-enough alone, I have updated the look of PoliBlog. Comments welcome. The only problem with the new template, which was existent with the old one, is that gap on the left. I will fool around with it eventually. It looks worse in IE than in Firefox.

Update: I am advertising the new look in today’s Beltway Traffic Jam.

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Pots, Kettles and Such…

By Steven Taylor @ 12:11 pm

Said Senator Kerry today:

“The president’s vaguely stated plan does not strengthen our hand in the war against terror,” Kerry told the veterans group.

Isn’t that like Bush criticizing Kerry’s grammar and pronounciation skills?

Kerry was referring to Bush’s plans to realign our global force structure. However, it strike me as a spot-on description of Kerry’s utterances in regards to his Iraq “poilicy.”

For example, from the same speech:

I know what we have to do in Iraq. We need a President who has the credibility to bring our allies to our side because that’s the right way to get the job done in Iraq and bring our troops home.

We need to bring in NATO and other nations to share the cost and burdens. Right now, the United States is shouldering the lion’s share of this effort. Ninety percent of all coalition forces and nearly ninety percent of coalition coffins are draped with American flags. The American taxpayers are also paying the vast share of the cost of this war.

We also need to massively improve and accelerate our training of Iraqi police and security forces so they can defend their own country; and we need ensure that there is far greater security to provide the credible elections in 2005 critical to advance Iraq’s transition to stable, representative democracy.

So, again it boils down to two prongs: 1) get more troops from allies, and 2) do what we are currently doing, only “better.”

In regards to point #1: does anyone actually believe that he can manage to wring more troops out of anybody? Especially since he is promising withdrawals by the US. What country, currently reticent to deploy troops, is going to be enthused to send troops when there will be fewer US solidiers on the ground?

And in regards to #2: how?!? Specifics would be extra-special nice to have.

Also, I love this juxtaposition:

…I have laid out my plans to reshape and rebuild the American military so that it is ready to fight tomorrow’s wars, not yesterday’s. As a combat veteran who has walked in your shoes…

While I understand where he is coming from, I find it amusing that in the same sentence in which he is saying we must fight the wars of the future he immediately references a war of the past.

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OTB v. Atrios

By Steven Taylor @ 11:28 am

James Joyner is scheduled to appear on Air America tonight to debate Duncan Black (a.k.a., Atrios) and he is looking for debate topics.

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Coincidence? I Think Not

By Steven Taylor @ 11:21 am

This week, the Likud Party holds its convention and this week Ariel Sharon’s ogvernment announces new West Bank settlements.

The CSM has the scoop.

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From the “You Don’t Say?” Department

By Steven Taylor @ 6:43 am

Arafat Says Palestinians Made ‘Mistakes’

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Getting to Know Charley

By Steven Taylor @ 6:41 am

Unfortunately, Kathy Kinsely got to meet him first-hand.

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Political Sideshow in the Land o’ Lincoln

By Steven Taylor @ 6:17 am

Joe Gandelman asks: Who Gave The Kool Aid To The Illinois GOP? he goes on to note that Alan Keyes is rapidly becoming a “human political car crash” and he has some of the details and various links of interest.

I can’t disagree with his assessment.

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Tuesday, August 17, 2004
You Say Kerrey, I Say Kerry-Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off

By Steven Taylor @ 4:20 pm

This was brought to my attention yesterday, but I never got around to fully checking it out. Utterly amazing: Kerry Campaign Explains Bob Kerrey Mixup

John Kerry, Bob Kerrey. It’s easy to get confused.

At least that’s how the Kerry campaign is explaining claims that Kerry-the Democratic presidential candidate-served as vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

Oops. Make that Bob Kerrey-the former Democratic senator from Nebraska who did serve as the panel’s vice chairman.

In news releases and postings on Kerry’s campaign Web site as recently as last Friday, the Massachusetts senator is touted as the panel’s former vice chairman. However, according to the Senate Historical Office, Kerry never had the seniority to hold a leadership position on the committee-though he was a member from 1993 until 2001.

“John Kerry, Bob Kerrey—similar names,” said Kerry campaign spokesman Michael Meehan, adding that any reference to Kerry as vice chairman was an error.

Wowie-talk about embarrassing: posting this info as a response to the Bush ad on Kerry’s attendance record in the Senate Intelligence Committee is an example of monumental incompetence.

And gee, when I said that Kerry’s Senate career needed to be put on a milk carton, looks like I had a point: it is so lost that even staff doesn’t know where it is.

And: details, details:

Kerry’s failure to attend three-fourths of the committee’s public hearings was criticized by RNC Chairman Ed Gillespie in a memo Tuesday to members of Congress.

The Kerry campaign has not denied he missed meetings but has said the criticism relies on accounts of 65 open hearings and doesn’t note that the panel held more than 329 meetings.

So, not only does Kerry have a secret plan for Iraq, he claims to have conducted his Senate career in secret as well.

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  • Outside The Beltway � linked with Kerry: The Missing Years
Does Dick Cheney Know About This?!?

By Steven Taylor @ 4:04 pm

Army: May Not Withhold Halliburton Money

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Someone Got a Grant to Figure this Out?

By Steven Taylor @ 3:44 pm

Cutting Fat, Boosting Fruit May Fight Weight Gain

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“911 Families” Call for Reform

By Steven Taylor @ 2:41 pm

Families of 9/11 victims urge action on report

Family members of 9/11 victims in Buffalo and elsewhere agree. They say Congress ought to create an intelligence “czar,” bolster border crossings and do a better job of overseeing homeland security, just as the commission recommended.

With all due respect and sympathy to the famlies of the 911 victims (and I mean that with utter sincerity), how does being related to a victim of a horrendous terrorist attack make one an expect on anti-terrorist policy or governmental reform?

Further, as I have noted in the past: the press’s predilection to aggregate whichever subset of all the families of all the victims into an entity dubbed “911 Families” is sheer laziness, if not purposeful sensationalism.

And it is one thing to press for a serious investigation, yet another to press for policy change as if one is expert in the subject.

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Econ News: Inflation Down; Industrial Output and Housing Starts Up

By Steven Taylor @ 2:02 pm

Consumer Prices Down, Industry Output Up

U.S. consumer prices dropped in July for the first time in eight months as a sharp run up in energy costs reversed, the government said in a report that suggested a slow rate of interest rate hikes is likely.

Separate reports showed industrial output and home building activity made comebacks last month after a slump in June.

The consumer price index, the most widely used gauge of U.S. inflation, slid 0.1 percent in July, the Labor Department said. It was the first drop since November and surprised Wall Street, where economists had looked for a 0.1 percent gain.

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Suspected Terrorists Charged in Britain

By Steven Taylor @ 10:37 am

8 men charged with terror offenses

All eight are accused of conspiring together and with unknown persons to commit murder.

They also were charged with conspiracy to commit a public nuisance by using radioactive materials, toxic gases, chemicals and/or explosives to cause a disruption.

Barot and Tarmohammed were charged with possessing documents or information that could be “useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism” because authorities said they had a “reconnaissance plan concerning the Prudential Building in New Jersey.”

Barot also was charged with possessing a reconnaissance plan concerning the New York Stock Exchange, Citigroup in New York and the International Monetary Fund in Washington, the statement said.

Update: Notes James Joyner:

Coincidentally, those are the same sites targeted by the non-existent terrorists in the non-existent plot that Tom Ridge announced in his blatantly political attempt to distract attention during the Democratic National Convention, using old, irrelevant information.

I question the timing of CNN’s report.


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  • Mark the Pundit linked with Like Velcro to Idiocy
Your Weekly Toast

By Steven Taylor @ 8:33 am

-Rounding-up, analyzing and handicapping the 2004 election-

Texas Toast or French Toast?
Tracking the race to the White House.


This Week’s Toast-O-Meter reading

Many analysts have declared that the situation, if taken in historical terms, looks quite favorable to Kerry. Mostly there has been a great deal of discussion about “the rules” (what the horse race figures usually look like at this point for a president seeking re-election, “re-elect” numbers, “right-track/wrong-track” numbers, approval ratings, a number of things). Now, the bag is mixed: some of “the rules” favor Kerry, other favor Bush. However, one thesis is that people make up their mind on the incumbent first, meaning that the undecided tend to break for the challenger at the last minute. Given the tightness of the polls, this scenario would favor Kerry.

In other words, historical trends would tend to indicate that President Bush’s support is largely locked in, and that Kerry has more growth potential. Since “growth potential” in this race could mean a few percentage points, if this theory holds Kerry is in really good shape.

However, for a variety of reasons I am not convinced that “the rules” hold in this cycle. For one thing, the clear polarization of the electorate is unusual, historically speaking, and the extremely small number of “undecideds” is an unusual phenomenon as well-especially given that the numbers in question have been steady from very early on in this election.

Further, I don’t think that some of the current analysis takes into account the heavily back-loaded aspect of the Republican campaign. There are three sets of events that have yet to happen that I think will have important effects on this race: the Republican National Convention (prediction: the “rule” that says that the incumbent only gets 2/3rds of the bounce of the challenger will be broken this year), the 9/11 anniversary and the debates.

While it is true that Kerry’s numbers have improved on issues of national security, if one looks at the Pew number cited below, it is only the hard-core Democratic base who see Kerry as the candidate who will best deal with terrorism. Further, while the Kerry camp argues that the DNC made the case that Kerry could be a credible commander-in-chief, I am thinking that the RNC and the 9/11 memorial will reinforce the image of Bush as CinC. Further, someone needs to put Kerry’s Senate career on a milk cartoon, but it is currently missing in action.

This week’s reading of the Toast-O-Meter shows a tie, after two weeks of a slight edge for Bush—call this Toast within the margin of error:

And before you feast on the individual departments of this week’s toasty tome, WaPo has some great overview charts on this race that are worth a look.


  • McCain campaigns with president in Florida (Bush’s 24th trip to that state since assuming office).
  • Bush, McCain Campaign in N.M., Arizona.
  • Kerry Stumps for N.M. Votes.
  • Front-Porch Chat: Birth of a Kerry Campaign Tactic.


  • Bush Ad Assails Kerry on Intelligence.
  • Company Corners Market on Political Ads.

Brewing Issues

  • Kerry Talks Prescription Drugs.
  • Bush Says National Sales Tax Worth Considering. My guess is that this goes nowhere. I am simply surprised he even uttered the words.
  • Bush Challenges Kerry on Iraq Withdrawal.
  • Mocking Drowns Out Kerry’s Explanation of Iraq Vote.
  • Gay Marriage Becomes a Swing Issue With Pull.
  • Oil Above $46 and Far Above OPEC’s Ceiling.
  • Stephen Green discusses the potential political implications of the McGreevey situation to the presidential elections.



  • Kerry promises more money for national parks.
  • Kerry Promotes Energy Independence Plan.
  • Edwards Promises Aid to U.S. Farmers
  • Bush Promises Quick Hurricane Relief. This is one of those deals where being President is to one’s advantage. Of course, if relief isn’t “quick” (and such things are subjective) then such a promise could easily backfire.


(Wherein it just so happens that I decided to reveal my plan to promote the greater usage of celery as an alternative fuel at the National Celery Association’s annual meeting).

  • Kerry Criticizes U.S. Plan to Send Nuclear Waste to Nevada
    Seizing on an issue that this state’s Democratic senator calls “the most important to the people of Nevada,” Senator John Kerry vowed Tuesday not to send nuclear waste to Yucca Mountain and accused President Bush of breaking a similar promise he made four years ago.

    In a state that Mr. Bush won by four percentage points in 2000, Mr. Kerry, the Democratic presidential nominee, hammered at the administration’s support for the nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain, 100 miles northwest of Las Vegas.

    “Yucca Mountain to me is a symbol of the recklessness and arrogance with which they are willing to proceed with respect to the safety issues and concerns of the American people,” Mr. Kerry said of the administration.

  • Bush vows to fight for funds for Oregon
    Campaigning in a state he lost by less than 7,000 votes four years ago, President Bush weighed in with support for Oregon on Friday, saying his administration will fight for federal money that would boost the state’s economy. After repeated requests, Bush says the White House is supporting $15 million in proposed congressional appropriations to deepen a 100-mile channel from Portland to the Pacific Ocean.

  • Kerry looking for votes among sportsmen who once shunned Democrats.
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  • The Command Post - 2004 US Presidential Election linked with Fresh Readings from the Toast-O-Meter
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  • The Moderate Voice linked with Toast-O-Meter: The Political Conventional Wisdom May Not Apply This year
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A WP Gripe

By Steven Taylor @ 8:26 am

Ok, my first WordPress gripe (aside from my concerns about the trackbacking capabilities): while I find the editor an improvement over the MT one, it seems that if one wants to save work as a draft that the program tries to “fix” my HTML. It adds tags and substracts them. I find this highly annoying-especially since it doesn’t do a very good job of fixing things-and, indeed, it messes things up.

UPDATE: I found that by unchecking “WordPress should correct invalidly nested XHTML automatically” under “Options, Writing” that the problem was solved. I don’t know much of anything about XHTML, but there is no way that some of the “errors” that were being automatically corrected were, in fact, errors.

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They’re Going to Need Bigger Shopping Carts

By Steven Taylor @ 5:43 am

Costco Begins Test Marketing Caskets

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More on NJ: Corzine in the Wings?

By Steven Taylor @ 5:32 am

This is interesting: McGreevey Hunkers Down, but Exit Pressure Grows:

Pressure for Gov. James E. McGreevey’s immediate resignation grew on Monday as Democratic leaders and representatives of labor, environmental and other groups prepared to talk to Senator Jon S. Corzine this week to discuss his possible candidacy in a special election this fall.


Mr. Corzine has told colleagues he is interested in the governor’s job, but until Mr. McGreevey’s stunning announcement on Thursday, that interest was focused on 2005. As for a run this fall, a senior Democratic official who spoke on condition of anonymity said, “Mr. Corzine has indicated that while he will not pressure Mr. McGreevey to leave, he would run if drafted by the party.”

It strikes me that the only proper thing for McGreevey to do is to resign immediately, and that if he does not, then every politician in the state should be pressuring him to do so. It is inexcusable, and an insult to the people of New Jersey, for the Governor to state that he can no longer govern, yet remain in office for months so as to rob the citizens of the state the chance to select his replacement. Surely Corzine would go into the race as the odds-on favorite, so it isn’t as if a proper resignation would give the Republicans the state.

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  • Outside The Beltway � linked with Governor John Corzine?
The Story that Keeps on Giving

By Steven Taylor @ 5:25 am

My guess is that by the time this is over, this McGreevey story is going to seem like some sort of bad tv mini-series: Inquiry Said to Be Focusing On Plan for Touro College:

The federal investigation into Gov. James E. McGreevey’s accusation that a former aide tried to extort him by threatening to reveal their extramarital affair is now focusing on a strange, last-minute offer to keep the matter secret if the governor agreed to approve a plan for a new medical school in New Jersey, according to three people involved in the inquiry.

Just 10 minutes before Mr. McGreevey was scheduled to announce his resignation last Thursday, a member of his inner circle received a telephone call from a lawyer who identified himself as an intermediary for Golan Cipel, the aide who was threatening to sue the governor for sexual assault and harassment.

The caller, Timothy Saia, reportedly said that Mr. Cipel would agree not to go public with his charges if Mr. McGreevey granted a charter to Touro College, a New York City institution that has been unsuccessfully seeking to open a medical facility in New Jersey for months.


The surprising mention of Touro College made some of the governor’s advisers question whether Charles Kushner, a major McGreevey campaign contributor who was recently charged with hiring prostitutes to silence a witness in a fund-raising investigation, might have played a role in Mr. Cipel’s threat to file suit.

And here’s a blast from the past:

In its effort to get approval of a charter, Touro was also represented by former Senator Robert G. Torricelli, who now works as a political consultant. Mr. McGreevey’s advisers said that in recent months, Mr. Torricelli and his aides had been unsuccessfully trying to arrange meetings with the administration to push for the project.

Mr. Torricelli did not return calls seeking comment Monday, but his aide, Sean Jackson, told The Associated Press that they were not involved in Mr. Cipel’s efforts.

Sounds like NJ politics is quite the soap opera.

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Monday, August 16, 2004
TOS is Coming!

By Steven Taylor @ 8:50 pm

Cool: Star Trek The Original Series - The Complete First Season is coming on DVD.


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From the “Ya Don’t Say?” Department

By Steven Taylor @ 4:28 pm

Floridians Who Lost Homes to Charley Frustrated

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Vanessa Kerry: Fulbrighter

By Steven Taylor @ 1:42 pm

Congrats to Vanessa Kerry for being awarded a Fulbright Grant. And I concur with James Joyner, the issue of such a grant is more than one of money, it is an academic competition and there is a prestige factor that is beyond money.

Further, there is no reason that Vanessa Kerry (or her siblings or the Bush daughters, for that matter) should be denied the right to pursue their personal goals like normal people with non-high-profile parents.

Full disclosure: I won a Fulbright Grant to do my dissertation work in Colombia, so perhaps I am biased. Although I will say that at the time the main issue was the money, because sans grant there would have been no research trip.

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  • Wizbang linked with Kerry's Daughter Wins Fellowship
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Not Good: Conference on Voting in Iraq Degenerates into Chaos

By Steven Taylor @ 6:51 am

Iraqi Conference on Election Plan Sinks Into Chaos

A conference of more than 1,100 Iraqis chosen to take the country a crucial step further toward constitutional democracy convened in Baghdad on Sunday under siege-like conditions, only to be thrown into disorder by delegates staging angry protests against the American-led military operation in the Shiite holy city of Najaf.

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Early Results: Chavez Wins;Results Questioned

By Steven Taylor @ 6:37 am

Pretty much as expected: Chavez Wins Venezuela Referendum-Preliminary Result

National Electoral Council President Francisco Carrasquero said in a national broadcast the “No” option opposing Chavez’s recall had obtained just over 58 percent of the vote, while the “Yes” vote obtained nearly 42 percent.

But two pro-opposition electoral officials questioned the result.

Shortly before Carrasquero made the announcement, two members of the five-member National Electoral Council leadership said they could not back the result.

Ezequiel Zamora and Solbella Mejias, both known opposition sympathizers, said procedural checks had not been carried out on the results as required.

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Sunday, August 15, 2004
IE v. Firefox and the < li > Tag

By Steven Taylor @ 3:45 pm

Does anyone know why the bullets generated by < li > tags stay in the columns like they are supposed to in IE, but float outside the column in Firefox? For example: if you look at my blog in IE, the bulleted lists in the left-hand column display properly, but in Firefox the bullets are on the outside of the column.

Any hints?

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The Weird Ways of the TTLB

By Steven Taylor @ 3:20 pm

While I know that links cycle off of pages on a daily basis, but how in the world could I lose 72 details in one day, causing a fall of 27 slots in the Ecosystem?

Very strange.

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Curiouser and Curiouser

By Steven Taylor @ 2:16 pm

Man Linked With Gov. Says He’s Straight

The Israeli man at the center of New Jersey Gov. James E. McGreevey’s resignation over a gay affair said in an interview published Sunday that he is straight and had no idea initially that his former boss is a homosexual.

Golan Cipel told the Israeli daily newspaper Yediot Ahronot that McGreevey repeatedly made unwanted sexual advances. Cipel said he informed the governor at one point that he planned to sue him for sexual harassment, and lawyers were negotiating a settlement when McGreevey resigned last week.

“It doesn’t bother me that it is said I am gay, but I really am not. I’m straight. On the other hand, to accuse me of being an extortionist? Someone here has lost his mind,” Cipel was quoted as telling Yediot.

At some point the truth of this situation is going to come out. There are at two basic possible scenarios here:

1) Cipel was McGreevey’s lover, and was rewarded with jobs, but for some reason he later decided to blackmail the governor and is saying he is straight to confuse the issue.

2) McGreevey was attracted to Cipel and hoped to get his attention, so to speak, by giving him a job. The alleged sexual harrassment then ensued.

Neither one looks good for McGreevey and the main issue certainly isn’t his being a “Gay-American.”

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By Steven Taylor @ 1:58 pm

As I have noted before, TiVo is a wonderful thing: it truly changes the way you watch TV. TiVo just started a nifty rewards program wherein one can earn points for referring others to the service. I just signed up and figured that, what the heck, I would encourage you all to buy yourself a DVR and got to town with the service. If any of you feel “referred” by me, please let the TiVo folks know (the address to use is steven_taylor @ DirectTV accounts don’t count.

Sure, it is blegging of a sort, but I figure I have done, and will do, plenty of boosting for TiVo, so it counts ;)

Seriously: get TiVo, you’ll thanks me later!

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Roger Simon on McGreevey

By Steven Taylor @ 1:14 pm

Roger Simon of US News was on MTP and so perfectly captured my opinion of the McGreevey situation that I thought it was worth posting: MSNBC - Transcript for August 15

MR. SIMON: …I didn’t come away from this like so many people feeling it was poignant or this guy was being ingenuous. I thought it was the most disingenuous announcement I had ever heard. I read the statement five or six times and saw it. You still can’t figure out why the guy is resigning from what he said, “I’m a gay American.” Well, you don’t have to resign because you’re a gay American. “I’ve had an adulterous affair.” Well, Lord knows you don’t have to resign because you’re in an adulterous affair in America. “Because I might be subject to blackmail"-well, if you admit it, you’re not subject to blackmail. “Well, all the pressure on my family and my job, but I’m staying in it for 90 more days.” I mean…

MS. MITCHELL: That’s the issue that the Republicans in the state are now raising.

MR. SIMON: Come on. Why didn’t he just say, “I put my lover on the public payroll. The guy was not qualified for the job. That was wrong. I’m sorry. I’m resigning"? That would have been to me both honest and poignant.

And I concur with Juan Williams on FNS as we shared the same reaction regarding Mrs. McGreevey: that it seemed like the Governor was shamelessly using his wife as a prop.

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Sex, Lies and Blogger

By Steven Taylor @ 8:16 am

(OK, no lies, per se, but I couldn’t think of a substitute that would maintain the symmetry).

I concur with James Joyner: this story is simply depressing.

And really, I don’t mean that in one of those “oh, where is our society going?” kind of ways (although the story does demonstrate a variety of things about our society) or in terms of moral indignation (although there is plenty in the tale to object to on moral grounds). Basically I find it depressing for Ms. Cutler specifically. Yes, fame and fortune are knocking at her door, and no doubt she doesn’t see the situation as depressing, but what a remarkably vapid and self-abusive way to achieve notoriety.

And the WaPo piece is rather exulting:

She is an American uber-individualist demanding the right to tell her own story her own way.

I am not sure that essentially prostituting oneself is the apex of individualism.

The article then starts to take itself quite seriously and tries to analyze the deeper meaning of the affair. To honest, my skimming stopped at about that point.

The bottom line is simple: sex is a big deal in the lives of human beings and has been from the beginning. People have always liked to talk about sex, even if th

ey don’t like to admit it/the mores of the time forbid it. Due to a confluence of issues in the modern world, most notably birth control and mass communication down to the ability of individuals to publish to a wide audience (i.e., blogs), it is now possible for the small percentage of the society who is willing to both engage in various activities, and tell us all about them, to do so. From there because of a desire to be scandalized, salacious interest, or whatever, the citizenry at large is going to pay attention in the tale. And so you get stories like this one. Further, this one has not only sex, but politics and this strange new thing called “blogs” (which, as you may know, is short for “web logs”—and what a relief if was WaPo to let us know that).

Birth control methods provide the illusion of sex sans consequences and photography and video then the internet provides the means to “share".

As they say, sex sells, and this should be no surprise: it is a powerful force in human behavior. Indeed, given that none of us would be here without it, its significance is rather hard to deny.

And, certainly, modern philosophies and ideologies have broken down many long-standing taboos so as to expand the potential pool of persons engaged in activities like those detailed in the Cutler story, and, more specifically those willing and able to talk about them in public.

I have long thought that while it is true that the public discourse on matters sexual has become radically more open in the last several decades, that the idea that sexual adventurism is a wholly twentieth century phenomenon is patently false. What has changed has been the ability to deliver and consume, in mass, the information.

One needs only read the biographies of the founders of the United States to see that, like today, there were those who held strict views on sexual morality (e.g., John Adams, who was shocked to find on his first sojourn in France that one of his prominent acquaintances had a live-in mistress who seemed to be friends with the man’s wife) and those who did not (e.g., Benjamin Franklin who sowed wild oats in his youth, including the siring of a son out of wedlock-and who, in turn, would have a son who would do the same, and, indeed his son would do the same as well). There is, of course, the example of Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemming, and the list goes on.

Indeed, Plato wondered as to the state of the youth of Athens. Read the Old Testament for that matter. There’s a reason that one of the Ten Commandments is a prohibition on adultery—it ain’t like that was the first time the Israelites had heard of the subject. Some problems aren’t as new as we think they are. Has any generation ever thought that the new generation was better than their own? The predilection is clearly to look at the youth and decry the degeneration they represent. But, as we know, it is true that the music kids today listen to is nothing more than fancy noise. And what’s with those haircuts? (Although on a serious note, the tend for little girls to dress like tramps is rather disturbing).

Now, while I do not think that Washingtonienne is a sign of doom for the times, I will say that it is sad that we have gotten to a point where such behavior results in fame and fortune (or, at least, infamy).

(Note: it wasn’t my intention to “go essay” on this topic. My initial post was to be an agreement with James that the story was depressing, and then I got carried away :).

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Archive Status

By Steven Taylor @ 7:18 am

I have decided to remove my MT archives from the server, as they are laced with comment spam, including some fairly hard-core porn, if my referrer logs are to be believed. However, all my stuff from Day One to the present is available in the WP archives that are a short search away.

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Saturday, August 14, 2004
The One Thing About this Year’s Olympics I do Actually Care About

By Steven Taylor @ 9:17 pm

And Kevin has a picture.

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Colin Powell….

By Steven Taylor @ 9:05 pm

…meet Colin Powell.

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Kudos to Kerry

By Steven Taylor @ 9:02 pm

This is the proper reponse, and therefore worth noting: Kerry Campaign Helping With Fla. Recovery

Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry does not plan to visit Florida in the aftermath of Hurricane Charley because he’s concerned his campaign entourage could distract from recovery efforts, he said Saturday.

President Bush plans a Sunday tour of areas hit by the hurricane. Bush declared a state of emergency at the request of his brother, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, and Kerry said he supports their efforts.

Kerry said he has instructed his Florida campaign staff to provide food, clothing, shelter or other assistance to people whose lives have been disrupted by the hurricane.

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Venezuelan Referendum Tomorrow

By Steven Taylor @ 8:58 pm

And it will likely be a dramatic result.

Divided Venezuela Unified by Anxiety Before Vote
Venezuela, starkly divided by class and politics, was unified by anxiety on Saturday as opponents and supporters of leftist President Hugo Chavez feared possible violence following Sunday’s referendum on his rule.

“Whichever side wins, the other won’t accept the result,” said 46-year-old office worker Rosalba Reto as she lined up to buy food in a government-subsidized supermarket, one of many programs set up by the populist president to help the poor.

“We’re lining up here because we don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow,” she said, explaining she was stocking up on food because her family went hungry for several days during unrest that followed a failed coup against Chavez in 2002.

Venezuelans will vote on Sunday in a referendum on whether to recall the president before his term ends in early 2007. The vote was triggered after the opposition, a disparate coalition united largely by distaste for Chavez, gained 2.4 million signatures in a petition.

This could end up being very messy and quite unfortunate.

And if one wants a US interest angle: we buy a substantial amount of oil from Venezuela.

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The Glory That is the Olympic Games

By Steven Taylor @ 11:44 am

Or, not so much.

James Joyner sums up my views on the Olympics quite well.

Heck, I’d rather watch an inter-squad scrimmage of the Dallas Cowboys (indeed, I once paid hard-earned cash to see the Boys scrimmage against the Houston Oilers).

Of course, my Olympics-aversion may be related to the closing ceremonies of the 1984 Summer Olympics in LA and the inclusion of a live performance of Lionel Richie’s All Night Long.

“Fiesta fo-evah” indeed.

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I Don’t Think That That Will be a Winning Strategy…(And Other Thoughts on Federalism)

By Steven Taylor @ 9:33 am

Keyes Wants to End Election of Senators.

I am not unsympathetic to some of Keyes’ arguments about the decline of the system of federalism as established in the Constitution, but not only is this one of those thing that isn’t going to be undone, it isn’t one that I think should be undone. The fact remains that the basis of representation remains different in the House and Senate and does result in specific power to the states. As such the current configuration of the Congress, regardless of the means of selection, maintains the federal structure. Senators represent whole states whether elected by the people or selected by the state legislators. Indeed, all the old system guaranteed was that the interests of the state legislature was attended to in Congress, which, granted, should reflect state needs, but the current system erradicates any barriers to true state representation that gerrymandering might create vis-a-vis the state legislature.

For example: while Alabama is clearly a Republican state in statewide contests, the state legislature has never been controlled by the GOP. So, would having the Democratically controlled state legislature pick Senators lead to better representation for the state of Alabama in the Senate? I think not.

The part that Keyes gets right in regards to federalism (but that isn’t mention by this piece) is the fact that the Congress uses the vast tax revenues it collects to affect public policy that falls nowhere in the realm of its expressed or implied powers within the Constitution. As such, the power of Congress (and of the federal government in general) far exceeds anything envisioned by the Constitution. Our system of government has developed such that the amount of money the Congress has to spend has radically increased to the point that Congress can “persuade” states to engage in policies via grants that it could never order the states to do via its constitutional powers.

Of course, I shan’t hold my breath waiting for any of that to change.

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  • Blind Mind\’s Eye linked with Keyes' reparations proposal, two birds with one stone
  • Blind Mind\’s Eye linked with Keyes' reparations proposal, two birds with one stone
May it be so: The Taliban is Fracturing

By Steven Taylor @ 8:44 am

Yahoo! News - U.S. Sees Widening Crack in Taliban Leadership
There are signs of the Taliban leadership “falling apart,” a U.S. military spokesman said on Saturday, citing reports this week that a breakaway faction no longer recognizes Mullah Mohammad Omar.


Reuters reported Monday that a dissident group named Taliban Jamiat Jaish-e-Muslimeen (Muslim Army of the Taliban) had broken away, taking with it about one-third of the Taliban’s fighting strength.

“That’s a significant development which demonstrates the Taliban are falling apart a little bit on the leadership side,” Major Scott Nelson told a regular news briefing in Kabul.

Nelson said the military was still assessing what impact the split was having on the Islamist militants’ strategy and operations against U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan.

“That fissure is widening - we see that. Specifically what that means we’re still looking into it,” he said.


The rift within the Taliban comes hard on the heels of a series of arrests of al Qaeda members in neighboring Pakistan, suggesting success on two fronts in the U.S.-led war on terror.

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Global Troop Realignments

By Steven Taylor @ 8:41 am

U.S. to Pull 70,000 Troops from Europe, Asia

They confirmed a report in the Financial Times of a total shift of at least 70,000 troops from overseas to home bases. The British newspaper, citing people briefed on the plan, said two-thirds of the reductions would be made in Europe, mostly in Germany.

“Germany is definitely a place where there will be a major rearrangement,” one U.S. official told Reuters of plans to bring two big armored units back to the United States from there.

The Washington Post reported on Saturday that as many as 100,000 U.S. troops could eventually be returned to the United States as the realignment evolved in years ahead.

This has long struck me as the reasonable and logical thing to do.

“It’s important not that our military posture reflect the Cold War but the new threats of the 21st century,” said the senior official.


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Friday, August 13, 2004
Show Me the Money

By Steven Taylor @ 5:38 pm

Jon Henke notes some political irony.

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New Polling

By Steven Taylor @ 2:18 pm

Bush’s job-approval rating climbs back above 50%

The share of Americans who say they approve of the job Bush is doing inched over the 50% mark to 51%. No president who was at or above 50% at this point in an election year has lost.

Matthew Dowd, Bush’s campaign strategist, said, “It looks like the American public is not near as pessimistic as Sen. Kerry is.”

Bush’s job-approval rating hit its low point, 46%, in May.

The poll finds the presidential race essentially tied: Bush leads Kerry 48%-46% among likely voters; independent Ralph Nader has 3%. The difference between Bush and Kerry is within the poll’s error margin of +/-4 percentage points.

Interesting. Although I am increasingly on the opinion that all of these so-called “rules” based on the past don’t matter this year.

Still, this does fit into my thesis that the RNC will be happening at the perfect time for Bush.

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  • linked with Bush�s Approval Rating Now Above 50%

By Steven Taylor @ 7:18 am

No blogging until this afternoon.

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That Darn Money in Politics Thing

By Steven Taylor @ 7:12 am

Charles Krauthamerr rightly notes today:

You wanted campaign finance reform. You got campaign finance reform. McCain-Feingold promised to take the money out of politics. If you believed that, you deserve what you got.

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Thursday, August 12, 2004
The Political Economy of Stem Cell Research

By Steven Taylor @ 8:51 pm

If the argument is that the only way that adequate stem cell research can be done is through federal funding (and make no mistake: that is the the essence of the political debate: funding) because there is insufficient private grant money, then one doesn’t have to be a scientist to call in question the claims that people like Ron Reagan and John Kerry have been making about the results of this research. Because if there were cures for cancer, MS, Alzheimer’s, you name it all around the proverbial corner then pharmaceutical companies and private medical research firms would be shelling out capital left and right. Why? Because if those kinds of medical miracles were just a few federal grants away from existence, the profit potential would be so high that investors would be coming out of the woodwork.

No, it is clear that while there is likely benefit from this research that the usage of it in this political season is nothing more than a cynical appeal to emotion.

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  • Accidental Verbosity linked with A few semi-random observations:
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  • Outside The Beltway � linked with Beltway Traffic Jam
On Stay-at-Home Parenting (a Fisking)

By Steven Taylor @ 6:21 pm

Dean Esmay notes that The Queen isn’t too happy about a report concerning a column from the Austin American-Statesman written by, it turns out, a faculty member from the Government Department at the University of Texas (where I did my doctoral work). The professor in question is named Gretchen Ritter, and I don’t think I ever actually spoke to her (it is a big department). I have linked to the article below (warning: registration required) and have fisked the piece.

I will note that my wife is a stay-at-home Mom for our three sons. This is a decision we made together, and planned for even before we decided to start our family (we had been married for six and half years at the time of the birth of our first son). I would also note that while my wife went on maternity leave from her job as a teacher for about 6 weeks, from the time she returned to shool until the end of the academic year, I took care of the baby at home and taught at Austin Community College at night.

Here’s most of the Ritter column (The messages we send when moms stay home) with my comments:

It is time to have an honest conversation about what is lost when women stay home. In a nation devoted to motherhood and apple pie, what could possibly be wrong with staying home to care for your children?

Several things, I think.

It denies men the chance to be involved fathers. This is a loss for them and a loss for their children. What does it mean when fathers are denied the opportunity to nurture their kids in ways that are as important as their work? What do the children miss when they don’t have fathers changing their diapers, picking them up from school, coaching soccer, making breakfast or dinner and doing homework with them? On both sides, the answer is too much.

Two things:

1) Why would having a mother stay at home equal blocking the father’s involvement? Sure, the number of encounter-hours will be higher for a stay-at-home mom will be higher than for a father who works but having the mother go to work as well doesn’t increase the number of contact-hours for the father. This is specious reasoning. My mother stayed at home, but yet there were plenty of times that my father picked me up from school, he was the coach for my baseball team, and for various teams for my siblings. Granted, he didn’t make breakfast, dinner or change diapers, but that was a generation thing, not a result of my mom staying at home with us.

Further, as noted, my wife stays home, but I pretty much make breakfast for the kids every morning, and have changed many a diaper.

2) The only outcome of having the mother work as well as the father is to have the child have a net loss of hours with parents in general. How does this improve the situation for the child and why would it result in any change whatsoever in the actions of the father? An uninvolved father will be an uninvolved father whether the mothere works outside the home or not. Most specifically: having the mother have less time with the child does not increase paternal contact. As such, the above paragraph is a non sequitur.

Women who stay at home also lose out-they lose a chance to contribute as professionals and community activists. Parenting is an important social contribution. But we need women in medicine, law, education, politics and the arts. It is not selfish to want to give your talents to the broader community-it is an important part of citizenship to do so, and it is something we should expect of everyone.

No one is saying that we don’t need women in those professions, but choices have to be made. Properly raising a child trumps having a person of a particular gender in a specific job. Fathers can stay home instead of mothers, mothers can postpone certain career goals (or careers-and I wold note: not having a career isn’t a crime) to stay home with pre-school-age children, etc. Saying that staying at home and being a mother does not, ipso facto mean that there won’t be females in the workplace.

Full-time mothering is also bad for children. It teaches them that the world is divided by gender. This sends the wrong message to our sons and daughters. I do not want our girls to grow up thinking they must marry and have children to be successful, or that you can only be a good mother if you give up your work.

Nor do I want boys to think that caring for families is women’s work and making money is men’s work. Our sons and daughters should grow up thinking that raising and providing for a family is a joint enterprise among all the adults in the family.

And going to daycare 8 to 10 hours a day is good for children? Or, being a latch-key kid without parential supervision is good for kids? And what is wrong with acknowledging that being a good mother can a be a fulfilling life? Further, being a good mother doesn’t not mean that one has to be locked in the house for the rest of one’s life. And there are plenty of examples running around that demonstrate that women play a vital, non-mothering role in society. Again, my mother was a stay-at-home mom, yet I did not grow up thinking that all women could do is be mothers-or that only men make the money.

Still, and this is the root of the whole situation, choices have to be made: if a couple chooses to have children, then it affects what options they have and I am of the opinion that the sacrifices must be made by the parents, not the children. One sacrifice may be career-related. And no, it doesn’t have to be the woman’s.

The new stay-at-home motherhood movement parallels the movement to create the “perfect” child. It’s not just that mothers are home with their children; they are engaged with their children constantly so they will “develop” properly. Many middle-class parents demand too much of their children. We enroll them in soccer, religious classes, dance, art, piano, French lessons, etc., placing them on the quest for continuous self-improvement.

Many of these youngsters end up stressed out. Children should think it is all right to just hang out and be kids sometimes. They should learn that parents have interests separate from their lives as parents. And we should all learn that mothers are not fully responsible for who their children become-so are fathers, neighbors, friends, the extended family and children themselves.

There’s a leap: having a stay-at-home mom equals more stress for children. Forget the stress of daycare or being a latchkey key. But again, there are serious logical fallacis here: is Dr. Ritter suggesting that only the children of stay-at-home mom’s engage in a large numer of activities? Clearly, this is not tha case and this argument is, like the ones above, specious. Further, it seems to me that having a father and a mother who have to be at work early, and have to come home late (later than the kids are out of school, at least normally) will certainly cause a great deal of stress in the household. Further, trying to figure out how two working parents are going to manage the activities of the children whilst working certainly isn’t a stress reducer.

Finally, the stay-at-home mother movement is bad for society. It tells employers that women who marry and have children are at risk of withdrawing from their careers, and that men who marry and have children will remain fully focused on their careers, regardless of family demands. Both lessons reinforce sex discrimination.

This movement also privileges certain kinds of families, making it harder for others. The more stay-at-home mothers there are, the more schools and libraries will neglect the needs of working parents, and the more professional mothers, single mothers, working-class mothers and lesbian mothers will feel judged for their failure to be in a traditional family and stay home their children.

Ok: so it is bad for society if parents take full responsibility for raising their children and caring for them? A remarkable assertion. And again, there is the issue of choices in regards to single mothers and lesbian mothers and so forth. And, yes, there are circumstances where mothers will have to work, whether the family be traditional or non-traditional, but that doesn’t vitiate the fact that ideal being that there be a parent at home with children-espeically very smal children.

By creating an expectation that mothers could and should stay home, we lose sight of the fact that most parents do work-and that they need affordable, high quality child care, after-school enrichment programs and family leave policies that allow mothers and fathers to nurture their children without giving up work.

Raising children is one of the most demanding and rewarding of jobs. It is also a job that should be shared, between parents and within communities, for the sake of us all.

I noted at the beginning of this post that my wife and I made a conscious choice that she stay at home with the kids. That meant not acquiring debt and other obstacles that would have precluded such a move. I have known many families who have no choice but for both parents to work-not because of economic deprivation, but because they bought expensive cars, homes or acquired other hefty debts prior to getting pregnant. So while there are many families in which both parents must work due to economic exigencies, there are also many who have been consumed by the materialism of our society (or who simply didn’t plan ahead) and therefore have to work because of circumstances they put themselves in.

But as I have pointed out before, the demands of parenting are great, and I can see nothing more important the focusing as much energy as is reasonable into that endeavor, which includes having a parent stay at home. And it is the case for a variety of reasons that that is likely to be the mother. The idea that this should be discouraged is laughable and, as noted above, not even logical.

And not the ultimate issue: the “community” should help raise the children, and tax-payers need to contribute more so that affordable day-care will exist. It seems to me that the burden on the community would be lower, as would the burden on the typical family’s pocketbook, if one of the parents stayed home and took care of the children. That makes far more logical sense than does Dr. Ritter’s assertions.

Update: This entry has ben posted to the Beltway Traffic Jam.

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Proper Controls?

By Steven Taylor @ 5:06 pm

Matt Is Sexier Than Paul?

When she posted the same pictures with different names, she found that the attractiveness scores went up and down depending on the vowels, the London-based magazine New Scientist reported.

Men with “front vowels” in their names - sounds formed at the front of the mouth like the “a” in Matt - were considered sexier than men with “back vowel” sounds like the “au” in Paul, she concluded.

The opposite held for women, who were sexier with back vowels than front ones.

Perfors said front vowels are often perceived as “smaller” than back vowels, so the difference could be a sign that women are seeking men that are sensitive or gentle, traits usually perceived as feminine.

But men who might be thinking of taking more feminine names to become sexier should be careful not to go too far: men with women’s names were rated least sexy of all.

But couldn’t the answer as easily be that the names that correspond with the different vowel placements are already associated with beig “sexy” (or at least popular) or not?

Granted, this is only a short description, but I can’t help but wonder about the underlying logic of the study.

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McGreevey Resigns, Admits Homosexual Affair

By Steven Taylor @ 4:57 pm

New Jersey governor reveals he’s gay

Dropping a political bombshell, New Jersey Gov. Jim McGreevey announced his resignation Thursday as he revealed he is a gay man who carried on an adulterous affair with a man.

With his wife standing by his side, McGreevey spoke in calm tones as he described his struggle with his sexuality, something that he said began as a child.

“My truth is that I am a gay American,” McGreevey said.

He also spoke of an affair with a man and asked for his family’s forgiveness.

“I have decided the right course of action is to resign,” McGreevey said.

He said his resignation would be effective November 15.

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McGreevey to Resign

By Steven Taylor @ 4:26 pm

N.J. Governor McGreevey To Resign

NewsChannel 4 has learned that New Jersey Gov. James McGreevey is planning on stepping down from office after more than 2 years of service.

McGreevey, a former prosecutor, came into office vowing to end corruption, but in recent months a number of his political aides and fundraisers have been accused of corruption ranging from alleged payoffs to hiring a prostitute.

McGreevey has not been accused of any wrongdoing, and has denied any wrongdoing in the past. cites the following (as did Fox News Radio:

New Jersey Gov. James McGreevey is expected to announce he intends to resign as a lawsuit is being filed by his former homeland security adviser alleging sexual misconduct by the governor against him, ABC News has learned.

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Good Econ News

By Steven Taylor @ 4:06 pm

Retail Sales Rebound, Jobless Claims Fall

Retail sales, which had taken a sharp plunge in June, rebounded by 0.7 percent last month while the number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell to a five-week low in early August.

Economists saw both the rise in retail sales and a decline of 4,000 in the number of laid-off workers filing for jobless benefits, reported by the government Thursday, as hopeful signs the economy is rebounding from a worrisome pause in activity in the early summer.

The Commerce Department said the 0.7 percent gain in retail sales last month followed a revised 0.5 percent decline in June.

While the July rebound was smaller than the 1 percent advance that many economists had been expecting, the 0.5 percent June drop was revised upward from a much worse 1.1 percent decline that the government had originally reported.

The Labor Department said the number of people filing first-time claims for unemployment benefits fell by 4,000 last week to 333,000, a five-week low and a sign that the labor market in August may be improving after a disappointing July.

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If Only They Did Keep Going and Going and Going

By Steven Taylor @ 3:33 pm

While it is true that children tend to think that their parents are made out of money. A lesser known corollary to that fact is that also seem to think that their parents are made out of batteries.

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Maybe the Page is in Cambodia?

By Steven Taylor @ 1:55 pm

OTB has a new 404.

And here’s my new one, while we’re at it.

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California Court Voids Same-Sex Licenses

By Steven Taylor @ 1:04 pm

According to CNN Radio, the California Supreme Court has voided the same-sex marriage licenses issued in the state earlier this year.

Update: ABC News has the story.

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Sadr Update

By Steven Taylor @ 12:29 pm

Forces raid al-Sadr home in Najaf

U.S. Marines battling militants in Najaf conducted a raid on Muqtada al-Sadr’s house Thursday, but the renegade cleric was not there, CNN has learned.

Authorities believe he could be holed up in the Imam Ali Shrine compound with other militia fighters.

The compound is surrounded by Iraqi forces, but there is no plan to storm the site. Great caution and care is being taken not to disturb that site, one of the holiest in Islam.

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Quote of the Day

By Steven Taylor @ 12:26 pm

“A sensitive war will not destroy the evil men who killed 3,000 Americans and who seek the chemical, nuclear and biological weapons to kill hundreds of thousands more. The men who beheaded Daniel Pearl and Paul Johnson will not be impressed by our sensitivity."-Vice President Dick Cheney in a speech in Dayton, Ohio.

Source: Cheney blasts Kerry over ’sensitive war’ remark - Aug 12, 2004

This was in response to Mr. Kerry’s statement of last week:

“I believe I can fight a more effective, more thoughtful, more strategic, more proactive, more sensitive war on terror that reaches out to other nations and brings them to our side.”

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Najaf Update

By Steven Taylor @ 11:14 am

U.S. Marines Seize Center of Najaf, Fighting Rages

U.S. marines backed by tanks and aircraft seized the heart of the holy Iraqi city of Najaf on Thursday in a major assault on Shi’ite rebels, but they kept out of a site sacred to millions of Shi’ites around the world.

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The NYT May Call it “Mocking” but it is Good Politics

By Steven Taylor @ 11:07 am

Not to mention a fair critique: Bush’s Mocking Drowns Out Kerry’s Explanation of Iraq Vote

For five days now, as the long-distance arguments between President Bush and Senator John Kerry have focused on the wisdom of invading Iraq, Mr. Kerry has struggled to convince his audiences that his vote to authorize the president to use military force was a far, far cry from voting for a declaration of war.

So far, his aides and advisers concede, he has failed to get his message across, as Mr. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney have mocked his efforts as “a new nuance” that amount to more examples of the senator’s waffling.

Mr. Kerry’s problems began last week when President Bush challenged him for a yes-or-no answer on a critical campaign issue: If Mr. Kerry knew more than a year ago what he knows today about the failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, would he still have voted to authorize the use of military force to oust Saddam Hussein?

As Mr. Bush surely knew, it is a question that can upset the difficult balance Mr. Kerry must strike. He has to portray himself as tough and competent enough to be commander in chief, yet appeal to the faction of Democrats that hates the war and eggs him on to call Mr. Bush a liar.

Indeed, to call it “mocking” is to reduce a serious policy debate (perhaps the deabte of the campaign) to what sounds like a petty tit-for-tat contest. If Mr. Kerry cannot find a way to a) articulate a coherent Iraq policy and b) find a way to reconcile his voting record he is going to have a hard time winning.

Indeed, from from “drowning out” Mr. Kerry’s response, Mr. Bush’s response is accentuating it.

Update: Robert Tagorda, James Joyner and Pejman Yousefzadeh all comment on this issue as well.

Joyner rightly notes:

Kerry is a thoughtful guy, but perhaps too much so. A leader can’t second guess himself with every minor setback. Perhaps Bush is a bit too steadfast, stubbornly holding onto positions well after the facts show a policy to be failing. Neither extreme is ideal. If forced to pick between the two, I’d rather have the guy who’s a bit too cocky than one who can’t make a decision.

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RSS Feeds

By Steven Taylor @ 10:43 am

The RSS feeds should be working now. The links are at the top of the page.

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More on the Politics of Goss

By Steven Taylor @ 10:15 am

Democrats Don’t Plan to Block Confirmation of C.I.A. Nominee

A dozen Senate Democrats suggested Wednesday that they would not oppose President Bush’s nomination of Representative Porter J. Goss as director of central intelligence, but they vowed to use his confirmation hearings to amplify their concerns over fatal intelligence failures under this administration.

Interesting. The translation seems to be “we won’t block Goss, but we will make sure to use the opportunity to criticize Bush on a national stage.”

Fair enough.

And probably the right calculation:

Privately, some Democrats said the nomination put them in a difficult political position. The C.I.A. has already gone two months without a replacement for George J. Tenet as director. The Democrats said that if they opposed the Goss nomination they expected that the White House would cast them as obstructionists who were delaying prosecution of the war on terror.

They said they had learned that lesson the hard way. In 2002, the Democrats opposed a proposal to eliminate some protections for employees of the Department of Homeland Security. Republicans took that as an opening to portray certain Democrats as opposed to protecting the nation.

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Lovin’ WordPress

By Steven Taylor @ 9:16 am

This really is a very nice program, and I would encourage anyone thinking of switching from MT, or thinking of starting a new blog, to give it a serious look. I gave Express Engine a long look and while I liked a lot of the features, found it to be overly cumbersome. The WP basic set-up is a breeze (the “5 Minute” claim is legit). If one is content to go with the default settings, then one can be blogging in a few minutes. My problems emerged in trying to find a way to maintain the same permalinks for the WP version of PoliBlog as with the MT version. It can be done, but I eventually gave up (at the moment my MT archives are still on my server, but I will eventually remove the files and rely on my WP archives solely-right now I don’t want recently made permalinks to result in 404s). I also had some trouble converting my old MT template into WP (different tags, and php is new to me). The template still needs work, and I may take the opportunity to engage in a larger scale facelift. For the moment I decided to ditch the gray parchment background and go with a narrower middle column.

WP makes managing comments a ton easier-I was able to serch for and delete with relative ease thousands (yes, thousands of pieces of comment spam) for any number of things that had slipped past MT-Blacklist. Indeed, there was a massive amount of porno-spam posted to over a thousand comments on my site on August 10th that I didn’t even know had been added until I was doing the export/import of my MT archives.

The instant updates are a godsend for template editing-not more rebuilds! Too sweet.

The only gripe I have about WP to date is the less advanced trackback abilities.

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Wednesday, August 11, 2004

By Steven Taylor @ 10:14 pm

Well, there are still kinks to iron out, but I am fully up and running.

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Status Update

By Steven Taylor @ 6:51 pm

Something about my CSS was screwing up the posts, both by making each subsequent post a tad narrower than the one before, but also only properly coloring the text in the first post. I don’t know even about stylesheets to understand how or why it did that.

However, I should be able to adjust the template to my liking, but it is going to take some tinkering.

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Formatting Help

By Steven Taylor @ 4:47 pm

I have no bloody idea why the posts do a semi-hourglass routine. Any suggestions as to why would be most appreciated.

Update: Never mind-I figured it out.

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By Steven Taylor @ 4:46 pm

Due to a variety of factors, not the least of which being a massive porno-comment spam problem that MT-Blacklist was unable to cope with, I am in the process of moving PoliBlog to Wordpress. There are some formatting issues I need to work on and variety of other issues, but the main change has been made.

Note: if you have posted comments in the last hour, they weren’t imported.

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

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Speaking of Goss

By Steven Taylor @ 12:04 pm

Joe Gandelman has a round-up of reactions.

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More on the Politics of Goss

By Steven Taylor @ 11:43 am

Robert Tagorda makes a valid point in regards to the political pitfalls facing the Democrats in regards to the Goss nomination:

If the Democrats stonewall the CIA Director selection, they’ll not only make themselves vulnerable to charges of endangering national security, but they’ll also bring back memories of Miguel Estrada, Priscilla Owen, and other blocked judicial nominations. President Bush will then have a chance to cast his opponents as thoroughly obstructionist, opportunistic, and unproductive.

His additional point is worth consideration as well.

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The Olympics Have Officially Started!!

By Steven Taylor @ 10:39 am

Or so they say on the radio.

Can you feel the excitement?


When’s the next NFL preseason game?

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A Note on Corsi and the Freep Stuff

By Steven Taylor @ 10:26 am

If one is trying to fairly evaluate Corsi’s comments and his apology, here’s the test: if Michael Moore had written what Corsi had written, what would the Right be saying? For that matter, recall the reaction to Kos when he made the comment he made about the murdered contractors. If one is going to be outraged when a political opponent makes outrageous comments, one ought to outraged when anyone makes such comments. Outrageous is as outrageous does, as my Mama used to say.

I am not saying that because Corsi wrote what he wrote at the Free Republic that it means he can be dismissed, but one has to admit that it damages his credibility rather dramatically.

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Corsi Speaks on Freep Comments

By Steven Taylor @ 9:56 am

Last Saturday I noted the that one of the coauthors of Unfit for Command, Jerome Corsi, had posted a number of inflammatory comments on the Free Republic forum which cast some serious doubts on his competence.

Corsi has addressed those comments in an interview: Anti-Kerry Book Author Sorry for Slurs.

One of the authors of a new anti-John Kerry book frequently posted comments on a conservative Web site describing Muslims and Catholics as pedophiles and Pope John Paul II as senile.

But as he prepared to launch the book, “Unfit for Command,” Jerry Corsi apologized for the remarks in an interview with The Associated Press Tuesday, saying they were meant as a joke and he never intended to offend anyone.

It does seem a weak defense. I am unaware of any context in which pedophilia is consider funny.

Corsi, who described himself as a “devout Catholic,” said the comments are being taken out of context. “I considered them a joke,” said Corsi, who owns a financial services company and has written extensively on the anti-war movement.


“I don’t stand by any of those comments and I apologize if they offended anybody,” Corsi said.

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The Nuance Continues

By Steven Taylor @ 7:52 am

On Kerry and Iraq:

At a rally Tuesday night in Las Vegas, Mr. Kerry said he had been “consistent all along,'’ and added: “I thought the United States needed to stand up to Saddam Hussein, and I voted to stand up to Saddam Hussein. But I thought we ought to do it right.’

Ok, there are, as I have noted a number of times, plenty of areas in which criticisms can be levied at Bush and his Iraq policy. However, as I have also noted, I tire of Kerry simply saying things like he will do Iraq “right” or “better” or by “showing leadership.” Platitudes aren’t policy.

Further, if one does try to piece together what Kerry may mean by doing it “right” one must conclude that he simply means more international help. Now, the only logical conclusion to reach from that fact is that Kerry ultimately would have backed down from “stand[ing] up to Saddam Hussein” because he would never have been able to get France, Germany and the Arab world to fully participate in any invasion. As such, what a President Kerry would have done was make empty threats and then sent inspectors back in. Now, perhaps that was the right thing to do, but that is hardly “stand[ing] up” to Hussein-indeed, it would have been essentially the status quo of the time. Such a policy would simply have been a series of very public empty threats.

These kinds of pronouncement from the Senator continue to confirm my view that he really does not have a firm position on Iraq, that both his votes (for the resolution and against the $87 billion) were both political calculations, and that he is trying to say whatever he thinks the swing voters want to hear.

Source: Stumping Bush Calls Kerry a Reluctant Ally on Iraq.

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Rocky Mountain Candidate

By Steven Taylor @ 7:31 am

Coors Wins Colorado GOP Senate Primary

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Hangin’ with McCain

By Steven Taylor @ 7:30 am

Bush, McCain Campaign in N.M., Arizona

Overnighting in Crawford, Texas, after a bus tour Tuesday through the heavily Republican Florida Panhandle, the president was likely to show McCain around his Texas ranch, aides said, and probably would go mountain biking before heading to New Mexico.

It has all the makings of a classic buddy flick.

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Quote of the Day

By Steven Taylor @ 7:22 am

“Go get your [stuff] I don’t want to see you anymore.”
- Dallas Cowboys Head Coach Bill Parcells to CB Andrew Davis. Davis decided his “heart wasnt into going to practice” so he “stayed in his training camp hotel room” on Monday.

Source: Yahoo

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Yet More Khan

By Steven Taylor @ 7:16 am

A terrorism expert, Bruce Hoffman, from RAND was on NPR this morning and stated that it is “not clear” whether Khan was actually working with the Pakistanis or not. So I am not the only one who is having a hard time sorting out that aspect of the story.

Indeed, along the lines of my last post, it is interesting that in a lengthy interview specifically on the subject of Khan that the issue of his potential “mole” status was barely touched upon, and the idea that he was “outed” was not mentioned.

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Tuesday, August 10, 2004
Moleman Khan?

By Steven Taylor @ 9:06 pm

Mickey Kaus asks the question I have been asking myself as well:

Why isn’t the mainstream press making a bigger fuss about the possibility that by leaking the news of Muhammad Naeem Noor Khan’s capture, someone in the Bush administration did incalculable damage to the effort to roll up Al Qaeda?

As Kaus notes: if the worst possible interpretation of this story is true (i.e., that someone in the Bush administration released Khan’s name to the NYT just to shut Howard Dean up), then someone should be fired. Further, if that was the case, one would think that the Anti-Bushites in the press would be more than happy to report the tale.

So why haven’t they?

I don’t necessarily think that the lack of reportage means that there isn’t a story, but I do wonder as to the doomsday interpretations. (And any who doubt: look at the initial Plame coverage-a story far less significant than this one might be-and see how it was covered). However, the lack of a feeding frenzy does seem to indicate that there may not be as much there as folks like Juan Cole and Kevin Drum seem to think.

Kaus goes into detail on the story, and notes that a careful reading of the original NYT piece indicates that the name was provided by the Pakistanis, not the administration:

The story seems to be almost explicitly pointing to Pakistani sources-not American officials-as the ones who first gave out Khan’s name. (The American source is then cited as neither confirming nor denying the name the reporters ask him about.)

And again: I agree that if someone in the admin let the name out, on purpose or not, they should be fired. However, so far the story doesn’t seem to indicate that that is what happened.

Clearly this continues to develop.

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The Politics of Goss

By Steven Taylor @ 2:08 pm

Here’s an element of the Goss nomination that I hadn’t considered earlier: Edwards is on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, and will likely have to suspend campaigning to attend hearings, and then, no doubt, will use that platform to campaign in a different way. Further, he will have to cast a vote. As such, this nomination does set a partisan game of chicken in motion more so than I originally considered that it might.

And I have heard several radio reports that Senator Rockefeller is “disappointed” in the nomination (as expected).

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

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Your Show of Shows

By Steven Taylor @ 12:28 pm

G.O.P. Plans Spectacle to Jazz Up Convention

When the curtain goes up on the Republican National Convention on Aug. 30, the supporting cast will include gospel- and country-music performers, elaborate videos, and celebrities doing what they can to help market President Bush’s ideas and vision for America, one of the convention’s organizers said yesterday.

And when Bush accepts the nomination, Ed McMahon is going to announce “And heeeeeeer’s Dubya!” and Doc will strike up the band. It will be fan-freakin’-tastic. I wonder if Doc will wear one of his wacky, wacky suits?

Perhaps we should start calling these things the “Republican National Show” and the “Democratic National Show"-(and yes, I understand the utility of this kind of stuff, but still….).

And this is going to drive the “Bush is a Wild Eyed Evangelical Who is Stealing The Flag” wing of the Democratic Partty nuts:

the convention will present not only politicians and celebrities on each of its four days. People from around the country have been invited to offer an invocation or benediction or to make some other short statement, said Frank Breeden, the convention’s director of entertainment, who called this aspect of the program “Preachers and Patriots.”

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Good News in Dean’s World

By Steven Taylor @ 11:49 am

Congraulations to Dean and The Queen.

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Pakistani Arrested for Allegedly Casing Financial Buildings

By Steven Taylor @ 11:44 am

Jeff Quinton has the story.

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Vegas Cased

By Steven Taylor @ 11:42 am

Here’s an odd story: U.S. Didn’t Warn Las Vegas of Threats

When the Justice Department obtained two videos suggesting terrorists had cased Las Vegas casinos, the discussions didn’t center on public alerts or heightened security. Rather, authorities worried about the effects on tourism and the casinos’ legal liabilities, internal memos show.

One of the tapes, found in Spain in 2002, shows al-Qaida’s European operatives casing Las Vegas casinos in 1997, engaging in casual conversation that included an apparent reference to Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.

The other tape found in a Detroit terror cell’s apartment had eerily similar footage of the MGM Grand, Excalibur and New York, New York casinos - three hotels within a short distance of each other on the Las Vegas strip with a combined total of 11,000 rooms.

The wild part is as follows:

One document obtained by The Associated Press quotes a federal prosecutor in Las Vegas as saying the city’s mayor was concerned about the “deleterious effect on the Las Vegas tourism industry” if the evidence became public. The mayor said Monday he was never told of the footage.

Another memo states the casinos didn’t want to see the footage for fear it would make them more likely to be held liable in civil court if an attack occurred.

“The information, unfortunately, was not taken as seriously as we believed it to have been,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Convertino told AP in an interview, recounting how only two local police officers accepted the FBI agent’s offer to see the tape.

“The reason that he (the FBI agent) was given for the low turnout was because of liability, that if they heard this information they would have to act on it. It was extraordinarily unacceptable and absolutely outrageous,” Convertino said.

However, the local authorities claim that they were never told:

Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman said Monday he was never told about the tapes until learning about them from AP this week. “If I were told, I would certainly tell the public,” Goodman said.

Clark County Undersheriff Doug Gillespie said he first learned about the Detroit footage during the Detroit trial in spring 2003 and found out about the Spanish tape afterward, but he confirmed two of his detectives had met with the FBI.

“They’re saying we didn’t do our job, and it is to the contrary. They had the information. They chose not to give it to us,” Gillespie said of federal authorities.

Yet, the FBI assert they shared, and no one wanted to watch the videos:

When FBI supervisory agent Paul George flew to Las Vegas to show the Detroit tape, “the FBI, casino representatives, Clark County Sheriff’s Department and the JTTF (joint terrorism task force) declined to attend,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Keith Corbett wrote.

“No one showed up except for two Metro officers,” Corbett added. “Indeed, the casinos informed Agent George that they did not want to show up because of concerns about liability.”

In a series of e-mails, Convertino pleaded with Assistant U.S. Attorney Sharon Lever in Las Vegas to take the video footage seriously, even though local officials were cool to it. He noted two experts had concluded the tape matched other al-Qaida surveillance.

“While I understand your previously stated concerns that the mayor of Las Vegas, the local sheriff and others believe our indictment may temporarily have a deleterious effect on the Las Vegas tourism industry, it is unconscionable that any reasonable person would assert that anyone here possessed a cavalier attitude toward the tape,” Convertino wrote.

The whole affair is quite odd, and troubling. Someone is playing CYA, and at a minimum we have a lack of communication on potentially significant data.

Also, I would note, the headline of the story is inaccurate and doesn’t jibe with the content of the story. At a minimum the headline picks sides in the he-said/she-said elements of the story, which isn’t something the headline ought to be doing.

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Surely They’re Joking (and Stop Calling me Shirley)

By Steven Taylor @ 10:58 am

Writes San Diego Union columnist Nick Canepa on the Chargers-Rivers negotiations:

Then there’s the incentive thing, which is beyond ludicrous. Comic book superheroes couldn’t reach the impossible incentives the Chargers have proposed.

If Rivers wins four Super Bowls and appears in four Pro Bowls over his first four years, he gets $5 million. Five Super Bowls and five Pro Bowls in five years? $7.5 million. Six Super Bowls and six Pro Bowls in six years? $10 million.

So, if Rivers is a person not of this earth, or has been strengthened by a freak atomic explosion, he has a chance-minute-to earn $22.5 million in incentives, that, as Sexton says, “never have been achieved in NFL history.”

Yep, that’s sheer genius.

Could it be that there is a reason why the Chargers stink?

Hat Tip: Colin Cowherd.

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Disingenuous Politics

By Steven Taylor @ 10:33 am

Kerry Says His Vote on Iraq Would Be the Same Today

Senator John Kerry said Monday that he would have voted to give the president the authority to invade Iraq even if he had known all he does now about the apparent dearth of unconventional weapons or a close connection to Al Qaeda.

“I believe it’s the right authority for a president to have,” said Mr. Kerry, who has faced criticism throughout his presidential campaign for that October 2002 vote.

But Mr. Kerry, the Democratic nominee, extended his attack on President Bush’s prosecution of the war, saying he had not used the Congressional authority effectively.

“My question to President Bush is, Why did he rush to war without a plan to win the peace?” Mr. Kerry told reporters here after responding to Mr. Bush’s request last week for a yes-or-no answer on how he would vote today on the resolution authorizing the use of force in Iraq.

My question for the Senator: why didn’t he insist on such a plan before he voted for the action? Further, if he thinks/thought that Bush was rushing to war, why did he vote for the resolution? This is classic trying to play both sides of the issue and therefore playing neither.

And while I concur there is substantial room for criticism as to the post-invasin gameplan, I find that while Mr. Kerry can critcize in a general sense, he still isn’t offering a concrete alternatives.

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Praeger is Taken to the Woodshed

By Steven Taylor @ 8:47 am

Notes Dennis Prager in his latest column:

No column I have written has elicited more hate mail than my last one on the 12-year-old girl who spoke at the Democratic National Convention and publicly ridiculed Vice President Dick Cheney. I have written against same-sex marriage; on behalf of the president’s international policies, capital punishment and Israel; argued for the superiority of the Judeo-Christian value system; and even defended divorce. Yet no column has elicited so much anger, use of expletives and foolish thinking.

The excerpts from the letters are amusing in and of themselves insofar as I have never understood why anyone thinks that that kind of missive is useful. As the recipient of the occasional rant from newspaper readers and the occasional vituperative comment on the blog, the whole thing strikes me as a curious phenomenon.

My basic policy is that if a columnist inspires f-bombs, then I tend to avoid said columnist.

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By Steven Taylor @ 8:20 am

James Joyner has a new TCS piece up today: Swift Justice.

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Goss to be Nominated for CIA Slot

By Steven Taylor @ 7:07 am

Bush Chooses Rep. Goss to Head CIA

President Bush has chosen Rep. Porter Goss, chairman of the House intelligence committee and a one-time Army intelligence operative, to be the new director of the CIA, it was learned Tuesday.

Interesting. I mostly expected that an interim Director would be left in place given the political season (although I suppose that being the political season there is also a countervailing pressure to fill the slot, given the centrality of intelligence to the war on terror).

Goss strikes me as quite qualified, and in less partisan time would likely be easily confirmed. However, since he is a Republican member of Congress, some will oppose (or, at least, slow) his nomination for purely partisan reasons.

For example, Senator Jay Rockefeller signaled such possible obstacles on the July 11 edition of MTP:

MR. RUSSERT: Is Porter Goss one of those names?

SEN. ROCKEFELLER: I’m not getting into names.

MR. RUSSERT: The chairman of the House Intelligence…

SEN. ROCKEFELLER: I don’t think that anybody who should be up for consideration should have a political background.

MR. RUSSERT: And he does.


It should be interesting.

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Monday, August 9, 2004
Except When He Isn’t…

By Steven Taylor @ 6:05 pm

Kerry Stands by Iraq War Voting Record

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The Poor Chargers

By Steven Taylor @ 6:04 pm

This hasn’t been their off-season last couple of years decade existence, now has it? Rivers-Chargers talks get ugly

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It’s the Carnival of the Capitalists

By Steven Taylor @ 12:42 pm
Welcome to the Carnival of the Capitalists

Only fools pay retail.
-Ferengi Rule of Aquisition #141.

  • Dale Franks of QandO: More on Taxation, complete with a shameless plug
  • Travis McMenimon: Odyssey of the Mind: Make the Connection…It’s All About the $$.
  • The Fladen Experience on Nader’s economics.
  • Jeff Doolittle: Ending Tax Evasion.
  • Gautam Ghosh on Management: On tactics and tricks of retention.
  • Notes from the (Legal) Underground: Frivolous & Bollixed.
  • Managing Leadership: Professor John Adair, leadership as a role, and Managing Leadership.
  • EconLog, Arithmetic and Google’s IPO: Library of Economics and Liberty.
  • Ashish’s Niti: Poorer Countries should take advantage of Farm Subsidies by Rich Nations.
  • Les Jones Blog: What’s the Cheapest Item on Amazon?.
  • Roth & Company, P.C. Tax Updates: Exactly Why is this Bad News?.
  • OSCommerce Experts: More Payment Options, More Sales - Practical Advice on Running an Ecommerce site with OSCommerce Shopping Cart Software.

  • Thoughts and Observations » Conditional marketing idea.

  • down the writer’s path: How’s your e-voice?

  • Catallarchy » Mises University, pt. 2.

  • Peaktalk: Hedonist Europe and Eureop in a Nutshell.

  • Blog Business World: Creating businesses with bloggers.
  • The Big Piture: Presidential Polling Data Resources.
  • Ego: Eminent Domain Versus Property Rights in Michigan.
  • Small Business Trends: Corn, Politics and Competing Against Wal-Mart.
  • CRM Mastery E-Journal.

    Next week’s Carnival will be hosted at Dispatches from the Frozen North


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    You Know You are Jonesin’ for Football if…

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:47 am

    …you think you might part watch of the Hall of Fame Game tonight.

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    CotC Status

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:40 am

    FYI: The Carnival of the Capitalist will be up later today. If you have any last-minute submissions, go ahead and send them along.

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    The 8/9 Toast-O-Meter

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:23 am

    -Rounding-up, analyzing and handicapping the 2004 election-

    Texas Toast or French Toast?
    Tracking the race to the White House.


    This week’s Toast-O-Meter reading

    On balance, the week was good for Bush, at least on the terrorism front (except for the developing mole story). While the week started with skepticism about the latest terror alert, the subsequent arrest of a number of al Qaeda operatives in London, Albany and Pakistan all are demonstrable successes in the war on terror. Of course, if an al Qaeda mole exposed because of either in competence or politics, then there will likely belong-term implications, as it could demonstrate irresponsibility within the administration, or, at least, a line of attack along those lines for Senator Kerry to exploit.

    Meanwhile, the lack of serious job creation in July, coupled with the Dow plunging to its lowest level of the year wasn’t good news for the Bush campaign, and allowed Mr. Kerry to continue to lampoon Mr. Bush’s discussion of “turning the corner.” Of course, the actual unemployment rate of 5.5% is a historically good number, but for whatever reason the unemployment rate itself has not been the press focus in discussion of jobs this campaign season.

    Also problematic for the economy are oil prices.

    Mr. Kerry’s Viet Nam service was brought under criticism this week by a group called Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, and a flurry of controversy ensued. On the one hand, the commercial produced by the group is quite dramatic and could affect some swing voters by putting doubts in their minds about Mr. Kerry’s service and veracity. On the other, the commercial could help Mr. Kerry as it represents the kind of especially negative attacks that many voters find to be a turn-off.

    The commercial could also be seen to help Mr. Kerry, at least in the short term, by distracting the debate away from minor details of his career, like his service as Lt. Governor to Michael Dukakis and his twenty years in the Senate, stretches of time that have largely been ignored thus far in the campaign.

    Bush gets two Wonder Breads for the terror news as it sets up his argument that he is making the country safer with recent and clear examples, but a Burning Toaster for the jobs news. Kerry gets a Wonder Bread for the economic numbers, which he can exploit, but a Burning Toaster for the terrorism news. I think that the positive terrorism news helps Bush more than the economic news helps Kerry.

    There are potential pitfalls ahead. If the August job numbers are also poor or if the moel story becomes a big deal, look for more Burning Toasters for Bush.

    As such, the Toast-O-Meter sees the race as being at the same place that it was last week.


  • Bush Campaign Ad Shifts Focus to Himself
  • Edwards Pays a Makeup Call in Kansas.
  • McCain to Stump With Bush in Three States.
  • No train stop confuses Kerry supporters in Kansas.

    Brewing Issues

  • Consumer Spending Drops by 0.7 Percent
    “These are sour numbers. There is no sugar coating that,” lamented economist Ken Mayland, president of ClearView Economics. “Consumers were confronted with a whole range of high prices, including energy, and they balked.”

  • Poor Jobs Figure a Sharp Blow to Bush - Analysts.

  • Terror Alerts Knock Democrats Off Balance.
  • Democrats Vow to Cut Deficit by 50% in Four Years. He’s promising health care, 40,000 more active duty troops, and a list of other things and deficit reduction. Man, he’s amazing.
  • Bad new for the President’s campaign: U.S. Employment Growth Surprisingly Weak in July.
  • Dean Esmay thinks that the Swift Boat Vets story has legs. I wonder if it won’t fade once the news becomes more truly Bush v. Kerry directly.
  • Links to discussions of the Kerry/Viet Nam stuff are here.


  • Zogby has Bush’s approval rating at 44%. Dave Wissing’s average is at 47%.
  • Dave Wissing has arun-down of that national polling as does RealClearPolitics, whose average is, shockingly, showing a race that it is too close to call.
  • Polls Mixed on Kerry Post-Convention Gain.
  • USAT asks: So why did Bush, not Kerry, get the bounce?
  • Bad news for Bush, good news for Kerry: Bush Approval Rating Drops in Calif..
  • James Joyner reviews various views on the horserace.
  • Stephen Green notes a Rasmussen poll that measures Bush v. Kerry among veterans.
  • Krauthammer: Muffing the Bounce.
  • Kristopher Vilmaa notes that Sabato Sees Kerry Victory.


  • Real Clear Politics’ Battleground State rouund-up is here.
  • Dave Wissing’s state-by-state numbers are here.

  • James Joyner and Matthew Yglesias examine the state-by-state numbers, and, by extension, the EC. Strangely, Matthew sees that the numbers look fairly good for Kerry, yet James notes one can argue that they look pretty good for Bush.

  • And, of course, there is Election Projection.


  • Here are 3000 words on the topic from Iowa.

  • Kerry stresses Native American issues:
    “We’re going to put broadband in all of American schools, like FDR did electricity did in the 1930s,” Kerry said.

    And that, of course, also qualifies as a “That Ain’t the President’s Job” entry.

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

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    Evidence of Ancestral Memory Revealed

    By Steven Taylor @ 7:56 am

    I have discovered scientific proof of a genetically based ancestral memory. How else can you explain the fact that all children know the following phrases sans training?

    1) “I’m booooored.” (variation: “That’s so boring!” (often accompanied by eye rolling or shoulder slumping).

    2) “I’m starving!” (often uttered within an hour of a large meal).

    3) “That’s not fair!” (a mult-puporse utterance).

    4) “Are we there yet?” (Great for long trips, but often deployed during errands, on the way to church, etc.)

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    Sunday, August 8, 2004
    Kerry Bloggage

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:00 pm

    Jeff Quinton has a round-up of some Blogosphere pontifications on Kerry/Swift Boats and Kerry/Cambodia.

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    Warrant Issued for Chalabi and Nephew

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:27 pm

    Iraq’s Chalabis Under Warrant, Shi’ite Fighting Rages

    An Iraqi judge said on Sunday he had issued an arrest warrant against leading politician and former Pentagon darling Ahmad Chalabi and his nephew Salem Chalabi, the head of the tribunal trying Saddam Hussein.

    Zuhair al-Maliki, chief investigative judge of the Central Criminal Court of Iraq, said an arrest warrant had been issued against Ahmad Chalabi in connection with counterfeiting money and against Salem Chalabi on a murder charge.

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    More Terror Alert Details

    By Steven Taylor @ 3:13 pm

    Officials: Capitol Among New U.S. Terror Targets

    The United States has received information about additional possible terror targets in the country, including the U.S. Capitol in Washington, a counterterror official said on Sunday.

    Homeland security adviser Frances Townsend said on CBS’ “Face the Nation” the targets were in addition to the five cited last week when the terror threat alert was raised to the second-highest level for financial buildings in Washington, New York and Newark, New Jersey.

    Asked if there had been a threat against Washington or lawmakers, Townsend said, “Yes, in the past and as part of this continuing threat stream, and so we shared that with them.”

    U.S. Sen. Joseph Biden (news, bio, voting record), a Delaware Democrat, said he had been briefed by the FBI regarding the situation in Washington, where security has been increased in the past week, most notably with checkpoints around the Capitol, occupied by Congress.


    Time Magazine disclosed details of some of the surveillance in Newark, including the suggestion a black limousine could easily approach the building and be loaded with explosives.

    Time has the story in question behind its subscription wall, so I couldn’t get to it so as to obtain more details.

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    The Mole Story

    By Steven Taylor @ 2:24 pm

    While both Reuters and MSNBC have both stated that Khan, the al Qaeda operative linked to the recent terror alerts and arrests, had been working as a double-agent, but that his name was incorrectly released to the press. This has resulted in apoplexy from Kevin Drum because, oddly enough, he thinks it is a deliberate political action. The real reason for apoplexy will be if indeed the war on al Qaeda was damaged by a severe compromise of intelligence.

    Still, the odd thing about this story is that it appears not to be in the NYT (of course, they have been accused as helping out the guy) or WaPo, nor did it emerge on either Fox News Sunday or MTP (although Drum notes that the topic came up on Wolf Blitzer’s show this afternoon).

    If, indeed, a major al Qaeda mole had been wrongly outed, it would seem there would be more of a story. Perhaps it has yet to hit full stride a a story. The MSNBC story is more suggestive of a release by the administration as a result of media pressure, while the Reuters story is a bit ore nebulous, especially given the statement that the NYT had gotten the name independently.

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    The Heart of the “Swift Boat” Issue

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:02 am

    Dean Esmay points to the following set of quotes by the Swift Boat Vets from their May 4, 2004 press conference. It is clear that the grievance that drives them is primarily Kerry’s post-war activities. And there is little doubt that those activities have colored their view of his behavior during the war-which is not surprising.

    I think that there are legitimate issues here, especially given the fact that Kerry himself has made his four-plus month tour of duty the foundation upon which his campaign has been built. A critique of Kerry along the lines of juxtapositioning his current acceptance of his Viet Nam service as a good and honorable thing that helps qualify him to be Commander and Chief with his own critiques of Viet Nam, which he says he stands by, would be quite powerful.

    The major tactical error here was going after the medals. It is the kind of attack that smacks of an emotional response to Kerry’s post-war comments rather than an argument that can be made empirically and dispassionately. Further, the attack on the medals becomes the focus of the discussion and not the substance of Kerry’s basic problem: the logical inconsistency between his own two positions on the war.

    Further, this desire to go beyond simply criticizing Kerry for his post-war statement, it would appear (I say this, not haveing read the cample chapter), that the new book Unfit for Command is the result of allowing an emotional reaction to Kerry’s post-war actions to cloud memories about Viet Nam (or, at least, to a post hoc re-interpretation of those events).

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    By Steven Taylor @ 7:28 am

    GOP Star to Skip Convention

    The most popular Republican in the country will not be speaking at the Republican National Convention. The party’s number one asset, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, will not even be there - and may not be in the United States, according to U.S. officials.

    Given that, as the sub-title of the story states, “Powell, Following Cabinet Tradition, Will Stay Out of Fray” and the third paragraph notes:

    But in keeping with tradition, Cabinet officials do not speak at the conventions - or other campaign events. So Powell will not appear.

    then it strikes me that his lack of appearance qualifies as non-news.

    I hear tell that Senator Kerry won’t be appearing, either. Perhaps WaPo will regale us with that tale tomorrow.

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    Another Major al Qaeda Arrest

    By Steven Taylor @ 7:09 am

    Senior al-Qaida Suspect Arrested in UAE

    A senior Pakistani al-Qaida operative who used to run one of the terror group’s training camps in Afghanistan has been arrested in the United Arab Emirates and handed over to Pakistani officials, the information minister said Sunday.

    Qari Saifullah Akhtar is in Pakistani custody, the latest in a string of major breakthroughs against the al-Qaida network, Information Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed told The Associated Press.

    Akhtar ran an al-Qaida training camp in Rishkhor, Afghanistan, where terrorists learned kidnapping and assassination techniques, as well as traditional combat skills used by Taliban fighters in their war to win control of the country before they were ousted in late 2001.

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    Saturday, August 7, 2004
    Al Qaeda Mole Exposed

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:59 pm

    I am still foggy on the exact timeline here, and who it was that revealed the information first. Regardless, this isn’t good: Unmasking of Qaeda Mole a U.S. Security Blunder-Experts

    Reuters learned from Pakistani intelligence sources on Friday that computer expert Mohammad Naeem Noor Khan, arrested secretly in July, was working under cover to help the authorities track down al Qaeda militants in Britain and the United States when his name appeared in U.S. newspapers.

    “After his capture he admitted being an al Qaeda member and agreed to send e-mails to his contacts,” a Pakistani intelligence source told Reuters. “He sent encoded e-mails and received encoded replies. He’s a great hacker and even the U.S. agents said he was a computer whiz.”

    Last Sunday, U.S. officials told reporters that someone held secretly by Pakistan was the source of the bulk of the information justifying the alert. The New York Times obtained Khan’s name independently, and U.S. officials confirmed it when it appeared in the paper the next morning.

    Part of my confusion is: who let the cat out of the bag? This piece suggests a Pakistani, while another story I read earlier indicated it was an administration source. Regardless, this is a rather monumental blunder.

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    Notes to the Press and Pro-Kerry Bloggers and Commenters

    By Steven Taylor @ 12:55 pm

    A few quick points:

  • Not everything anti-Kerry is the result of a memo from Karl “Evil Boy Genius” Rove.
  • Just because people who vote for/rsupport Republicans fund something, doesn’t make it a product of the RNC or something that Ed Gillespie sanctioned.
  • If being a Republican supporter/voter is enough to discredit one’s views and opinions, one ought to dismiss Kerry’s “Band of Brothers” as many as paid campaign staffers. To re-state more directly: if having partisan desires (i.e, the election of one canidate over the other) then they can’t be trusted either, because they want Kerry elected.
  • These Swift Boat Veterans for Truth ads are in the same camp as that they are partisan, funded by monies collected outside the campaigns and parties, and some of what they say is accurate, and some of what they say isn’t.
  • Negative ads funded by independent groups are nothing new.

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    A Note on this Whole Swift Boat Business

    By Steven Taylor @ 11:30 am

    As I have asserted before, the smart thing for veterans upset with Kerry would have been to stick to criticizing his post-war activities. That is fair game and the documentary evidence is pretty damning. Indeed, the SBVfT could have easily made an almost identical commercial without raising the issue of Kerry’s medals.

    They should never have gone after the medals. Not only does such a situation degenerate into a “he-said/he-said” kind of thing, but it simply smacks of a smear, rather than a legitimate issue for debate. It strikes me as clear over-reach in the classic sense, and is largely pointless.

    And, one final thing: I am sick to death of Viet Nam at this point. Any chance we can have a debate over the preponderance of Kerry’s life in public office?

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    Unfit for Command co-Author is Pretty Unfit Himself

    By Steven Taylor @ 11:04 am

    Ok, the credibility issue of one of the co-authors of the new anti-Kerry book has been pretty much settled, and, in turn, brings up issues concerning O’Neil as to why he is a working with his co-author, Jerome R. Corsi. Kevin Drum notes the following from Media Matters for America (and yes, I know they are a liberal, pro-Kerry group) that links the co-author of Unfit for Command, Jerome R. Corsi to a series of posts at Free Republic that make taking Corsi seriously near to impossible.

    One has to wade through the Media Matters post (which isn’t well organized), to find a link to this post, in which Corsi links himself to his Freep id of “jrlc". One can see example of jrlc’s posts on the Media Matters site, or one can peruse the links to the Free Republic forum. Let’s just say that the prose isn’t what one would expect from a guy with a Ph.D. in political science from Harvard. It also doesn’t strike me as particularly smart for VP of a financial marketing company either, but who can explain what people do and why?

    There is sufficient evidence linking Corsi to Free Republic and various Freep-related projects that there really is no reason to doubt the post linking Corsi to jrlc.

    One bit of sloppiness I did note: the site claims that Corsi is the author of numerous books on various topics, and gives an listing. Now, several of the books are on US politics (which makes sense for a Harvard Ph.D.) and two are on finance/insurance (the field in which Corsi currently works). However, one is on BASIC programing, another on Leonardo da Vinci, and yet another is a witchcraft handbook. I am guess is that unless Corsi is a true renaissance man (and an odd one at that), that we are talking about probably at least four different Jerome R. Corsis in that listing. Indeed, if just putting a name into is conclusive, then I hope you all rush out and buy my book on Food Toxicology.

    However, that simply is amusing at this point: the Freep postings are pretty damning.

    And I will not, that while Drum annoys me with some of the conclusions to which he leaps on a number of issues, that I am more than willing to note when he is correct (of course, reciprocation would be nice)-and in this case, at least regarding Corsi, the evidence is pretty clear.

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    Interim Government Yanks al Jareeza

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:25 am

    Iraq Shuts Al-Jazeera Baghdad Office for a Month.

    While I can understand their frustration with the network, this isn’t going to help the percption of burgeoning democracy in Iraq.

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    Friday, August 6, 2004
    Not So Swift: George Elliot and His Many Positions

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:15 pm

    Veteran retracts criticism of Kerry.

    MSNBC’S Countdown reported this evening that according to Elliot’s family he was misquoted and stands by the commercial.

    Not too impressive all the way around.

    Update: Will Collier has some more on this story.

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    Dubya on the Campaign Trail

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:50 pm

    At campaign stop, Bush pokes fun at himself

    At another point in the event, Bush asked Derrow to describe his company, which owns and operates air compressor stations. “And then we sell air to our customers,” Derrow said.

    “You and I are in the same business,” Bush retorted. “Is it hot air, by any chance?”

    As always, the crowd lapped up his self-deprecating touch, and Bush hunched his shoulders as he laughed at his own joke.

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    Poor Strategery

    By Steven Taylor @ 3:04 pm

    Bush bitten by own soundbite:

    “Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we,”

    Letterman had the bite last night, and I must admit: it was pretty funny.

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    Bad Jobs/Econ News

    By Steven Taylor @ 3:02 pm

    Job Growth Meager, Markets Stunned

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    By Steven Taylor @ 2:47 pm

    A recent Rasmussen Poll notes that Bush had a huge lead amongst voters who have friends or family in Iraq or Afghanistan:

    Nearly half of all voters (48%) say they have family or friends who are currently serving in Iraq or Afghanistan. These voters prefer President Bush by a 51% to 41% margin. Military veterans prefer Bush by a wider margin.

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    Miracles Do Happen

    By Steven Taylor @ 2:14 pm

    I attended our summer commencement ceremon today. Not only was there a mercifully small number of graduates, but the commencement speaker was interesting and amusing.

    So, yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.

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    Kerry Takes His Cue from Michael Moore

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:13 am

    For first time, Kerry criticizes Bush’s reaction to 9/11 attacks.

    Here’s my question: what difference would it have actually have made if BUsh had rushed from the room?

    I will be honest, I am not sure if I would have sat there myself. On the other hand, as my question indicates, what substantive difference would it have made?

    Really, this would be a non-issue except for F911.

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    Kerry to Propose Energy Plan

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:10 am

    Kerry to announce 10-year, $30 billion energy plan

    The plan sets two national goals for 2020: that 20% of electricity and 20% of motor fuel come from alternative sources such as wind, solar, ethanol and biodiesel fuel.

    Haven’t we learned by now that you simply can’t mandate stuff like this?

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    Thursday, August 5, 2004
    Deconstructing the Ad

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:04 pm

    Ok, I have watched the ad online in its entirety a few times online now (available here) and can say that there are two themes:

    1) It isn’t explicit, but it is clear that some of the statements in the commercial are aimed at what Kerry did after he left Viet Nam (such as the line about “betraying” his shipmates).

    2) There are several, far more explosive, claims regarding Kerry’s medals: one clear attack one on his first Purple Hearts and another on his Bronze Star.

    Of the two sets of charges, the first are honest-there is no doubt that many Viet Nam vets feel as if he lied and betrayed them when he returned to the US and became an anti-war advocate, accusing US troops of atrocities and war crimes. The second set are far more controversial and highly problematic. In terms of smart politics, it would have been best to stick with the first set of objections, which are defensible. The second set may not be.

    I counted 13 men in the commercial:

    George Elliot
    Al French
    Lewis Letson (who claims to be a medcial officer who treated Kerry)
    Van Odell
    Jack Cenoweth
    Roy Hofman
    Adrian Lonsdale
    Larry Thurow
    Bob Elder
    Joe Ponder
    Grant HIbbard
    Shelton White
    Bob Hildreth

    I am curious as to whether any of these are worthy of attention, and pan to do a little research to satisfy my curiosity.

    The most interesting claim would be that of Letson, but there is nothing in Lexis/Nexis on him (at least in major papers) aside from a reference to the ad in question in today’s paper.

    The LAT did a story on the group in its 7/5/04 edition and had this to say about Roy Hoffman:

    Other Swift boat officers - Republican sympathizers and veterans bitter over Kerry’s post-Vietnam peace activism - pose a darker alternate history. Members of Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, an anti-Kerry political committee, they are led by retired Rear Adm. Roy F. Hoffmann, a blunt-edged Navy career man who oversaw the hit-and-run river raids Kerry viewed as a costly waste of American lives.

    In Vietnam, Hoffmann and other former officers contend, Kerry bucked Navy procedure, staying in country just long enough to prime his political resume. Some question the accuracy of Kerry’s recollections and the legitimacy of the first of his three Purple Hearts - a minor wound, they claim, that was not suffered in action.

    “He went to Vietnam to build a career,” Hoffmann said. “He was a loose cannon while he was there, and he bugged out early.”

    Yet Hoffmann and Kerry had few direct dealings in Vietnam. A Los Angeles Times examination of Navy archives found that Hoffmann praised Kerry’s performance in cabled messages after several river skirmishes. And while the Purple Heart account remains murky, its award was routine. Navy records show Swift boat crews were frequently raked with slight wounds of uncertain origin - injuries that often earned decorations.

    “I don’t know what conclusions you can draw about someone’s ability to lead from their combat experience, but John’s service was commendable,” said James J. Galvin, a former Swift boat officer who, like Kerry, was honored for three minor wounds and left the coastal combat zone early. “He played by the same rules we all did.”


    Hoffmann, a decorated Korean War veteran whom Navy officials chose to carry out that strategy, has not forgiven Kerry for questioning Sealords’ results.

    “He never saw the big picture,” Hoffmann, 78, said during an interview at his Virginia home. “The key concept was to take over the rivers and work up to the Cambodian border. Well, we did that.”

    Plucked off a destroyer to head the Navy’s effort to slash Vietcong supply routes, Capt. Hoffmann demanded initiative and obedience. A distant figure known by his code name, Latch, he popped in on missions, standing watch on deck with a .45 on his hip and a cigar clenched in his teeth. He gave officers authority to fire at will, and demanded body counts to prove their success. Favored lieutenants were cheered on with terse “Bravo Zulu” messages that signified “Well done.” Sometimes Hoffmann added: “Good shooting.”

    Hoffman commanded more than 100 Swift boats, also called PCFs, for “patrol craft fast,” as part of the Sealords mission. The boats advanced inland at a high cost. Several were sunk by rocket blasts, and, by the war’s end, 51 men had died out of the nearly 3,000 officers and enlisted personnel in the “brown water navy.”

    My guess is that Hoffman’s beef is about the post-war activities of the Senator-to-be.

    In regards to Hoffman and the cable, the story notes:

    Kerry’s charge won him a Silver Star, personally awarded by Zumwalt in a Saigon ceremony. Three days after the skirmish, Kerry and his crew also received a cable from Sealords task force headquarters.

    “The tactic of attack and assault thoroughly surprised the enemy in his spider-holes and proved to be immensely effective in rousting him into the open,” the message read.

    The cable was from Hoffmann. Four times in February and March, he cabled Kerry and his crew, praising them and other Swift boats after skirmishes. Hoffmann acknowledged the cables, saying Kerry showed “some pretty sharp thinking. He had courage. But he was loose. He went out on his own too much.”

    Hoffmann and several former Swift officers said Kerry’s boat sometimes veered off during missions without explanation - a criticism Kerry and his crewmen dismissed.

    There are no official rebukes in Navy archives or Kerry’s available personnel file. Hoffmann’s criticism is also at odds with the glowing evaluations of Kerry in his official Navy record. Only Hibbard’s was less than effusive

    The article has this on Grant Hibbard, also in the commercial, and called Kerry’s superior in the LAT piece and relates to the Purple Heart:

    Even before he had his first boat command, Kerry sailed off on a “dangerous mission” that led to his first wound - and to skeptical murmurs. Patrolling north of Cam Ranh Bay in a small skimmer on the night of Dec. 2, Kerry and two crewmen fired on Vietcong guerrillas massed on a beach. Amid the din, he felt a sting in his forearm.

    “I didn’t see where it came from,” Kerry said. Radarman Jim Wasser, who patrolled that night in another boat and who later sailed with Kerry, recalled hearing a radio message that “someone had a slight wound.”

    The next day, the base medical officer used tweezers to remove a shrapnel shard from Kerry’s arm. According to the former medic, retired Dr. Louis Letson, Kerry said he had been “under hostile fire.” But corpsmen heard from other crewmen that there was no return volley, said Letson, now among Hoffmann’s anti-Kerry faction.

    Later that day, Kerry displayed what his superior, Lt. Cmdr. Grant Hibbard, recalled as a “scratch.” Kerry asked him to write an official injury report, but Hibbard said he told Kerry to “forget it.” Vaguely recalling that he later “took some heat” for turning Kerry down, Hibbard was angered when he learned that Kerry had won a Purple Heart.

    Hibbard and other critics cited the incident as a glaring mark against Kerry as an officer and a gentleman. By grubbing for an undeserved honor, they said, Kerry used it to reduce his Vietnam tour. “He fell short,” Hibbard said.

    Kerry testily denied initially pressing for the award, saying he simply reported the wound. “Later on, I asked where it was or something,” he said, but insisted he played no role in obtaining the medal. “It wasn’t my decision.”

    It was the Navy’s. The award came from the Naval Support Facility in Saigon - issued without any evident formal protest at the time from Hibbard, Letson or other commanders. Neither the slightness of Kerry’s wound nor its murky origins would have likely disqualified him, said Shelby Jean Kirk, a retired civilian director of the Bureau of Naval Operations awards branch.

    The most critical element in an award decision was “action against the enemy.” Conflicting battle accounts were not uncommon, and when Navy awards personnel could not make a clear determination, the serviceman often “got the benefit of the doubt,” Kirk said.

    “The fog of war forced the system to bend to interpretation,” said former Navy Cmdr. David L. Riley, author of “Uncommon Valor,” a history of the Navy’s awards.

    In regards to another commercial participant, George Elliot, the story notes the following:

    “These were all exceptionally good men, and John Kerry was one of them,” said former Lt. Cmdr. George Elliot, who gave him top marks.

    Elliot nominated Kerry for his Silver Star, but also chided him for beaching his boat, telling Kerry he was uncertain whether he deserved an award or a court-martial. “There was never any question that he was in trouble,” Elliot says now. “I just wanted it to be clear that he wasn’t supposed to leave the boat.”

    The same day as the Silver Star beaching, Hoffmann sent Kerry’s boat another cable commending the crew’s capture of “5 VC males” in a “daring PCF operation [that] will provide an invaluable source of intelligence.”

    Time permitting (I have a lot to do tomorrow, much of which will be away from the computer) I will see what else I can dig up.

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    By Steven Taylor @ 7:48 pm

    Kevin Drum has decided to both go back to examining Bush’s National Guard records.

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    A Swiftly Tilting Ad Campaign

    By Steven Taylor @ 7:34 pm

    Settign aside for a moment any issue of its veracity, Chirs Lawrence is correct: the “Swift Boat Veterans for Truth” ad is pretty “devastating". The reason being is that it starts with a quote from Kohn Edwards, stating that all you need to know about Kerry’s character can be gleaned from spending “three minutes” with men who served with him in Viet Nam. Using that obviously simplsiti standard, the commercial goes one to quote at least half a dozen such veterans (yes, I know they didn’t serve on Kerry’s boat, but they served in other boats that were with Kerry on a weekly basis, and at least some who bunked with Kerry-in short, they did serve with him quite directly).

    However, the fault for this situation at least partially Kerry’s for making this campaign so much about his four months in Viet Nam and for saying that his service was so wonderful that anyone who served with him would vouch for him.

    Further, Kerry has yet to account for his own words where he said that he and his brothers in arms committed war crimes.

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    Nancy Endorses Dubya

    By Steven Taylor @ 4:03 pm

    Former first lady Nancy Reagan supports Bush re-election

    While Nancy Reagan disagrees with President Bush’s stance on limiting stem-cell research, the former first lady Nancy Reagan strongly endorses Bush’s re-election bid.

    “She’s in full and complete support of President Bush’s candidacy,” Reagan spokeswoman Joanne Drake said Tuesday. “The campaign is certainly about more than one issue.”

    Mrs. Reagan, whose public appearances have been limited since the death of her husband two months ago, won’t be attending the Republican National Convention in New York this month, Drake said. But the former first lady hasn’t ruled out campaigning for Bush.

    Hat tip: Professor Chaos via the Beltway Traffic Jam.

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    Whatchoo Talkin’ About?

    By Steven Taylor @ 2:44 pm

    I am listening to an LA-based radio station via the ‘net and a commerical just came on for one of the those “fast cash” places. The spokesman?

    Gary Coleman.

    And he was extolling their services as a former client.

    Very sad.

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    The Timing Meme Continues

    By Steven Taylor @ 2:42 pm

    Meanwhile, Drum continues to work the “timing” angle of the al Qaeda arrests by Pakistan. However, I note a decided silence about 1) the arrests in London or 2) the fact that it appears that there is solid intel to back the current Orange alerts.

    (Nor anything on the Albany arrests, for that matter.)

    I would recommend to my friends on the left that they are going to have to deal with the actual successes of the administration in term of the War on Terror, because innuendo about timing doesn’t constitute a very good argument that Bush is unfit to fight that war or that Kerry would do a better job keeping the United States safe.

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    On the One Hand…

    By Steven Taylor @ 2:36 pm

    …I can understand Kevin Drum’s desire to ignore the whole Swift Boat business, but on the other, given his intrepid and tireless focus on Bush’s National Guard service, that he would be on the case here.

    In terms of going to court, there is more evidence suggesting the Swift Boat Vets accusations than there is that Bush was AWOL.

    (Yes, I am being a tad petty, but sauce for the goose, and all that).

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    Today’s Terrorism News

    By Steven Taylor @ 2:21 pm

    The links are all at Jeff Quinton’s place.

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    And Davros Smiled.

    By Steven Taylor @ 1:08 pm

    Dean has news for Dr. Who fans.

    I was always partial to the Cybermen, myself (especially the late model ones). Although the Doctor still needs to face the pepperpots from time to time, so good news.

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    Perhaps, But for Which Campaign?

    By Steven Taylor @ 12:41 pm

    Kerry’s Wife Considered Key Campaign Asset

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    Swift Boat Allegations

    By Steven Taylor @ 12:36 pm

    Like James Joyner, my initial reaction to the Drudge Report story about the new book by Swift Boat Veterans for Truth is severe skepticism. Stories such as these are so fantastic as to be difficult to believe, and not to borrow too much from the Paranoid Left, there are timing issues here (in terms of why some of these allegations weren’t made in the early 1970s).

    However, I am prepared to withhold judgment, and even predisposed to afford some credibility to the book for three reasons.

    1) It strikes me as odd that a large number of veterans would come together to make these allegations, knowing the amount of public and media scrutiny they would have to endure. Appearing in the related TV ad, for example, is as good as painting a target on oneself with a sign saying: “come examine my life and destroy me if you can.” I am not saying that that is sufficient to give credibility to the ad and the book, but it make me pause to consider the motivations here.

    It is certainly possible that this is pay-back by a set of veterans who are still angry at what Mr. Kerry did after he returned home from Viet Nam. It is also possible that the attacks are wholly partisan.

    2). The leader of this group, and the first named author on the book, Houston lawyer John O’Neil, has had some compelling character witnesses, if you will, who also give me pause for thought. One of my best friends (I have known him now for over 24 years), who is an attorney in Texas, has direct knowledge of Mr. O’Neil, and speaks very highly of him. This perspective is further bolstered by a post by Beldar of BeldarBlog (also a Texas attorney with direct knowledge of Mr. O’Neil).

    If Mr. O’Neil has credibility, then the accusation are worthy of consideration.

    3) Mr. Kerry’s own words give credence to some of the accusations. To wit (via MTP on April 18, 2004):

    (Videotape, MEET THE PRESS, April 18, 1971):

    MR. KERRY (Vietnam Veterans Against the War): There are all kinds of atrocities and I would have to say that, yes, yes, I committed the same kind of atrocities as thousands of other soldiers have committed in that I took part in shootings in free-fire zones. I conducted harassment and interdiction fire. I used 50-caliber machine guns which we were granted and ordered to use, which were our only weapon against people. I took part in search-and-destroy missions, in the burning of villages. All of this is contrary to the laws of warfare. All of this is contrary to the Geneva Conventions and all of this ordered as a matter of written established policy by the government of the United States from the top down. And I believe that the men who designed these, the men who designed the free-fire zone, the men who ordered us, the men who signed off the air raid strike areas, I think these men, by the letter of the law, the same letter of the law that tried Lieutenant Calley, are war criminals.

    (End videotape)

    And from my post of April 19th discussing the Russert interview:

    Then comes the interchange between Kerry and Russert. Note the rather direct question (indeed, statement) by Russert and note Kerry’s attempt at humor, but more importantly the fact that he never answers the question:
    MR. RUSSERT: You committed atrocities.

    SEN. KERRY: Where did all that dark hair go, Tim? That’s a big question for me. You know, I
    thought a lot, for a long time, about that period of time, the things we said, and I think the word is a bad word. I think it’s an inappropriate word. I mean, if you wanted to ask me have you ever made mistakes in your life, sure. I think some of the language that I used was a language that reflected an anger. It was honest, but it was in anger, it was a little bit excessive.

    MR. RUSSERT: You used the word “war criminals.”

    SEN. KERRY: Well, let me just finish. Let me must finish. It was, I think, a reflection of the kind of times we found ourselves in and I don’t like it when I hear it today. I don’t like it, but I want you to notice that at the end, I wasn’t talking about the soldiers and the soldiers’ blame, and my great regret is, I hope no soldier-I mean, I think some soldiers were angry at me for that, and I understand that and I regret that, because I love them. But the words were honest but on the other hand, they were a little bit over the top. And I think that there were breaches of the Geneva Conventions. There were policies in place that were not acceptable according to the laws of warfare, and everybody knows that. I mean, books have chronicled that, so I’m not going to walk away from that. But I wish I had found a way to say it in a less abrasive way.

    So “atrocities” and “war criminals” are honest, but just over the top. Pardon?

    It continues:

    MR. RUSSERT: But, Senator, when you testified before the Senate, you talked about some of the hearings you had observed at the winter soldiers meeting and you said that people had personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals and on and on. A lot of those stories have been discredited, and in hindsight was your testimony…

    SEN. KERRY: Actually, a lot of them have been documented.

    MR. RUSSERT: So you stand by that?

    SEN. KERRY: A lot of those stories have been documented. Have some been discredited? Sure, they have, Tim. The problem is that’s not where the focus should have been. And, you know, when you’re angry about something and you’re young, you know, you’re perfectly capable of not-I mean, if I had the kind of experience and time behind me that I have today, I’d have framed some of that differently. Needless to say, I’m proud that I stood up. I don’t want anybody to think twice about it. I’m proud that I took the position that I took to oppose it. I think we saved lives, and I’m proud that I stood up at a time when it was important to stand up, but I’m not going to quibble, you know, 35 years later that I might not have phrased things more artfully at times.

    He essentially wants to have it both ways: yes, I was right in 1971, but I am right now to say that I was too angry in 1971. Indeed he seems to be saying that the words “war crime” and “atrocity” simply shouldn’t be used, even though he believes that war crimes and atrocities were committed,

    These statements fit within the parameters of what the book claims to have happened. Now, granted, the book could have been written with those words in mind.

    These three reasons leave me open to claims made in the book as reported in the press and in the anti-Kerry ad.

    All of this being said, I am not sure whether any of this is smart politics and, indeed, my initial reaction is that it isn’t. Still, it could very well be simply what a set of veterans believe that needs to be said.

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    Ketchup Doesn’t Bounce

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:48 am

    Sean Hackbarth has the latest House of Ketchup.

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    More on Amy Richards and Her Sojourn in the Pages of the NYT

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:33 am

    Joe Carter provides yet another piece of the Amy Richards puzzle. He came across an "Editor’s Note” at the NYT which stated:

    The column identified Ms. Richards as a freelancer at the time of her pregnancy but should have also disclosed that she is an abortion rights advocate who has worked with Planned Parenthood, as well as a co-founder of a feminist organization, the Third Wave Foundation, which has financed abortions. That background, which would have shed light on her mind-set, was incorporated in an early draft, but it was omitted when an editor condensed the article.

    Joe rightly titles his post “Selectively Reducing the Facts.”

    It also notes that Ms. Richards “told her story to a freelance Times Magazine contributor, Amy Barrett.” Which is an odd thing to do for a freelance author, but not as odd as killing two of three babies.

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    US Arrests

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:04 am

    Jeff Quinton reports that suspected terrorists connected to Ansar al-Islam were arrested in Albany.

    The two alleged tried to buy shoulder-launched missiles.

    There more at the The Command Post.

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    “Old” Information = “New” Arrests

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:59 am

    U.S. Opens Effort to Disrupt Plots by Terror Group

    The Bush administration said Wednesday that the United States and its allies had begun a campaign to disrupt terrorist operations around the world, including the arrest of a suspected senior member of Al Qaeda in Britain.

    The suspected Qaeda operative was among 12 men being questioned by the British authorities after raids prompted in part by the same intelligence information that led the administration to elevate the terror threat level in the United States over the weekend, including detailed reports about buildings housing major financial institutions in New York, New Jersey and Washington. The Qaeda member, referred to as Abu Moussa al-Hindi or Abu Eisa al-Hindi, was of intense interest to the United States, a senior American official said.

    I guess this means that the Bush administration put pressure on the Brits, so as to disrupt Kerry’s “bounce”.

    Update: Jeff Quinton points to a CNN story that states that the al Qaeda cell in London appears to have been targeting Heathrow airport. The CNN story notes: “Both CNN and the British media reports are linking the arrests in Britain earlier this week with recent arrests in Pakistan and this week’s security alert in New York and Washington.”

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    Wednesday, August 4, 2004
    TiVo Wins Right for New Service

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:05 pm

    TiVo Wins Nod for Users to Share Digital Shows

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    Oh No! Zarqawi Got Tigger!

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:36 pm

    That’s just not right

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    Corny Politics

    By Steven Taylor @ 2:26 pm

    Who knew that they were running for Ag Commissioner?

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    Tales of Dumb Athletes

    By Steven Taylor @ 2:10 pm

    Fox Sports is reporting: Cowboys cut Carter after positive cocaine test.

    After listening to the Parcells/Jones press conference, it is clear that something is up beyond an on the field situation. Parcells noted that he was “saddened” and Jones said, more than once, that is was an “easy decision.”

    Dan Patrick is noting reports that state that Carter was in a drug program already and that he violated a team drug policy.

    My orginal Sportblog post is here and James Joyner comments here.

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    Kleiman on the DNI Proposal

    By Steven Taylor @ 12:57 pm

    I have to concur with Mark A. R. Kleiman, the current proposal for the Director of National Intelligence is far too similar to the “drug czar” to be a good answer to the problem before us. Indeed, and Kleiman notes, the position as proposed by the President is less powerful than the “drug czar"-and that is saying something.

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    Limbaugh on Kerry and Clinton

    By Steven Taylor @ 12:09 pm

    Limbaugh continues to give credence to the silly theory that the Clintons want Kerry to lose to give Hillary a better shot at 2008, and indeed, have worked to that end.

    I simply don’t buy it.

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    The New Bush Bumpersticker

    By Steven Taylor @ 11:52 am

    Kerry promises monthly news conferences, if elected

    Part of today’s Beltway Traffic Jam

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    Being Denny

    By Steven Taylor @ 11:51 am

    New Book Says Hastert Nearly Quit in ‘98

    House Speaker Dennis Hastert was flirting with political retirement in 1998 and made an appointment with an executive headhunter when Republican upheaval suddenly elevated him to his powerful post, the Illinois lawmaker writes in a new book.

    “I called (the headhunter) to say, `I think something else has come up,’” Hastert recalls dryly in “Speaker, Lessons from Forty Years in Coaching and Politics,” from Regnery Publishing, Inc.

    He might have gone even higher. He also writes that as the recount of the 2000 presidential election dragged on, his aides briefed him on the possibility that he might become acting president in the event of an Electoral College (news - web sites) deadlock.

    “I really didn’t want to be president, temporary or otherwise,” he wrote, yet he decided that he would not pass the office to the constitutional officer next in line if an Electoral College deadlock extended beyond Inauguration Day. In the end, the Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling ended the recount and George W. Bush moved into the White House.

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    The Amy Richards Saga Continued

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:48 am

    Tim Worstall has an e-mail to and one from Ms. Richards in regards to her “selective reduction” (i.e., abortion of two of her three triplets-my original posts are both here).

    There is some discussion of health reasons for not carrying triplets, as well as of income and music lessons. However, the part of Ms. Richards’ e-mail that struck me the more was this sentence:

    Also, I personally believe that the long term physological impact on my child would be more negative if he knew that he had “siblings” out there whom he didn’t know.

    This logic floors me: she believes that the long-term psychological damage would be greater if her child found out that two of his siblings had been adopted out by his mother, while finding out that his mother had two of his siblings aborted won’t be any big deal comparatively speaking.

    Utterly amazing.

    Michelle Malkin and Bryan of Arguing with signposts, and others, also respond (check out the trackbacks at the bottom of Tim’s post).

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    Not Just “Old” Information

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:59 am

    New Qaeda Activity Is Said to Be Major Factor in Alert

    Senior government officials said Tuesday that new intelligence pointing to a current threat of a terrorist attack on financial targets in New York and possibly in Washington - not just information about surveillance on specific buildings over the years - was a major factor in the decision over the weekend to raise the terrorism alert level.

    The officials said the separate stream of intelligence, which they had not previously disclosed, reached the White House only late last week and was part of a flow that the officials said had prompted them to act urgently in the last few days.

    Now look for the It’s-All-Politics Wing of the Democratic Party to claim that this is all being made up in the face of criticisms yesterday.

    I would note that Dana Priest of WaPo did point out on Hardball yesterday that some of the intel did only reach the administration late last week (and she is no boster for the admin and the story she co-authored yesterday was one of the “old information” stories).

    Update: As predicted, see Oliver Willis.

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    It’s Like I Tell My Students…

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:33 am

    Don’t drop it on your foot.

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    Tuesday, August 3, 2004
    More Terror Alert Fun from Certain Democratic Quarters

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:41 pm

    From Democrats for America’s Future we get the following:

    John Kerry going up in the polls after the Democratic convention? No problem for the Bush White House. Just set off a national panic by warning about possible terrorist attacks in Washington, D.C. and New York City - based on stale information from before the 9/11 attacks!

    1) John Kerry going up in the polls? Not so much.

    2) A “national panic"? where?

    3) “[S]tale information"? Some of it was just gathered last week-and al Qaeda’s M.O. is to plan well in advance, the past pattern is 2-4+ years per attack.

    4) John Kerry apparently doesn’t see it the way Democrats for America’s Future see it:

    The candidate quickly distanced himself from former rival Dean, telling CNN: “I haven’t suggested that and I won’t suggest that. I do not hold that opinion.”

    Campaign officials said Kerry would like to believe that Bush is acting in the nation’s interest. Even if he didn’t give Bush the benefit of the doubt, there are enormous political risks to Kerry questioning the president’s motives, the officials said, because a subsequent terrorist strike would make him look politically craven and shortsighted.(via Yahoo)

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    Terrorism Round-up

    By Steven Taylor @ 7:58 pm

    Jeff Quinton has an extensive wrap-up of today’s terrorism news from around the blogosphere.

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

    By Steven Taylor @ 6:04 pm

    From Kerry’s acceptance speech last week:

    I want to address these next words directly to President George W. Bush: In the weeks ahead, let’s be optimists, not just opponents. Let’s build unity in the American family, not angry division. Let’s honor this nation’s diversity; let’s respect one another

    Teresa Heinz-Kerry:

    a group of Bush supporters, armed with a megaphone, started chanting from a distance, “Four more years! Four more years!”

    Without hesitating, Heinz Kerry responded, “They want four more years of hell.”

    Hat tip: Michael Medved for noting the two quotes.

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    Temporal Politics

    By Steven Taylor @ 5:50 pm

    I think what annoys me the most about this kind of headline: Ridge Defends ‘Three-Year-Old’ U.S. Terror Alert is that it sounds like Ridge had the info on the five buildings in question for three years and just now decided to pull it out and use it.

    1) It is new to the administration, having just gotten it quite recently.

    2) I ask again: what’s the expiration date for terrorist plans?

    3) What kind of response would there be if the Bush administration decided that this was “old” information, did nothing, and then one of these building was attacked?

    And Mr. Dean needs his meds:

    But former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean accused Bush of releasing the information now to dampen the rise in opinion polls, or “bounce,” Kerry might have expected after his nominating convention in Boston last week.

    “Isn’t it unusual they might choose two days after the Democratic National Convention when John Kerry was in the middle of his bounce,” Dean, who ran against Kerry for the presidential nomination, said in an interview on MSNBC’s “Hardball.” The alert, he said, could have been issued weeks ago.

    Given that the post-convention “bounce” is either anemic or in Bush’s favor, this theory is rather lacking-and the asbence of a bounce was known before the terror alert announcement.

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    More Arrests

    By Steven Taylor @ 10:01 am

    Yahoo! News - Pakistan Arrests Two More Al Qaeda Suspects

    Pakistan has arrested two more foreigners believed to be members of al Qaeda in the last 24 hours, local intelligence officials said Tuesday.

    They were the latest in a series of arrests of members of the radical Islamic network in Pakistan, which U.S. officials have said led to information about a plot to bomb buildings in Washington and in the New York area.

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    Blinded by Partisanship

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:45 am

    Writes Kevin Drum today:

    The Pakistanis sure as busy. I wonder why they couldn’t do this in the summer of 2002. And the summer of 2003. Why did we wait until the summer of 2004 to put the screws on them?

    And how many more miraculous captures of al-Qaeda operatives by the Pakistanis can we look forward to between now and November 2? The question kind of answers itself, doesn’t it?

    First, I would note, as I did in a prior post on this topic last Saturday, these captures are good for America, not just good for the Bush administration.

    Second, Drum seems to be suggesting that the Paks haven’t done anything until political pressure was brought to bear.

    However, I would remind Drum, and all those blinded by partisanship, that this isn’t the case. For example:

  • Abu Zubaydah, a major al Qaeda firgure, was captured in Pakistan in March of 2002.
  • Also in 2002: Ramzi Binalshibh-a main 911 planner.
  • In December of 2002: Pakistan Nabs Al Qaeda Suspects
    Police arrested nine suspected al Qaeda operatives, all members of the same family, in the eastern city of Lahore Thursday. Three of the arrested were Americans and two Canadians, all of Pakistani origin, officials said.

  • In March of 2003, there was the arrest ofKhalid Shaikh Mohammed.

  • March 2003: Yassir al-Jaziri, “a man U.S. government sources say oversees communication among the terror network’s operatives.”

    Ok, so two major arrests in recent weeks along with a captured computer equals more than has been done in preivous years? The evidence suggests otherwise-and this isn’t a complete list of all the captures and kills in Pakistan since 9/11, so enough with the partisan analysis of the most recent arrests.


  • The March 2003 raid that netted Khalid Sheihk Mohammed, also resulted in the capture of Mustafa Ahmed al-Hawsawi, the alleged financier of the Sept. 11 attacks.

    Update II-In case it isn’t clear: the above are all al Qaeda captures made in Pakistan, often by the Pakistanis by themselves.

    Update III: Part of today’s Beltway Traffic Jam.

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    “Old” Information?

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:58 am

    Pre-9/11 Acts Led To Alerts

    Most of the al Qaeda surveillance of five financial institutions that led to a new terrorism alert Sunday was conducted before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and authorities are not sure whether the casing of the buildings has continued, numerous intelligence and law enforcement officials said yesterday.

    More than half a dozen government officials interviewed yesterday, who declined to be identified because classified information is involved, said that most, if not all, of the information about the buildings seized by authorities in a raid in Pakistan last week was about three years old, and possibly older.

    “There is nothing right now that we’re hearing that is new,” said one senior law enforcement official who was briefed on the alert. “Why did we go to this level? . . . I still don’t know that.”

    I understand the idea that 9/11 itself may have made these plans moot. However, are three-year-old plans really “old” in this context? A major attack takes years to plan. Further, the President and a major party convention are coming to town, not to mention the economic implications of the targets. Surely those qualifiy as good reason to be cautious.

    Plus, to refresh our memories, we do reacll the famous Preisdential Daily Briefing, do we not? That document had less specificic information than was used to launch the current round of security, yet the critics at the time said that the information in that memo should have led to President figuring out 9/11 bedfore it happened.

    The damned-if-do, damned-if-you-don’t nature of the politics and analysis of this type of situation is growing wearisome. On the one hand, dots are supposed to be connected and imagination is supposed to be deployed, yet: don’t cry wolf!

    Further, the WaPo story seems to indidcate that 9/11 did not put an end to these plans:

    Much of the information about the targeted buildings is contained on a laptop computer and computer disks recovered during recent raids in Pakistan. A senior intelligence official said the cache also includes about 500 photographs, diagrams and drawings, some of them digital.

    Two senior intelligence officials who briefed reporters on Sunday said the material showed al Qaeda operatives had cased the buildings both before and after the Sept. 11 attacks.

    “I think the indications are that this has been a very longstanding effort on the part of al Qaeda,” one official said Sunday, “that it dates from before 9/11, it continued after 9/11 and based on what it is that we are concerned about, we know about in terms of al Qaeda’s plans and intentions that it probably continues even today.”

    My question for Dan Eggen and Dana Priest (the authors of the piece) is: why is there a quote from “a senior law enforcement official” expressing doubts about the alerts in the first three paragraphs of the piece (along with the description of the data as being old), but the quote that notes that the information may have post-9/11 components, along with quotes from officials who think that this may be part of an ongoing plot are all well down the piece?


  • Kevin Alyward makes a similar point here with some expanded PDB references.

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    Bureaucratic Sisters for Kerry

    By Steven Taylor @ 8:45 am

    Kerry’s Sister Angers Abortion Foes

    A Catholic antiabortion group sharply questioned the propriety of John F. Kerry’s sister, Peggy Kerry, giving a speech to “a campaign crowd of feminists” in Boston and telling them that, if elected, her brother would overturn various Bush policies - such as barring funds for U.N. population control efforts.

    Not surprising that she’d be campaigning for her brother, the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute noted, but she “works for George W. Bush” as part of the U.S. mission to the United Nations.

    The institute, a nonprofit that works with the United Nations, acknowledged that Kerry, a career civil servant, broke no law in giving the speech, but it questioned how she can represent Bush’s policies if she’s bashing them.


    Meanwhile, it seems there’s no love lost between Kerry and the institute. “Kerry is best known for booking the U.N. press office on behalf of Catholics for a Free Choice when they announced their campaign to throw the Catholic Church out of the U.N.,” the institute said.

    I suspect that some will get all upset about this, but she has the right, as I understand it, to do this. It is a bit odd, I must admit, althought aside from the serious nature of the abortion qustion, I find this mildly amusing.

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    Monday, August 2, 2004
    The Not So Much Bounce Continues

    By Steven Taylor @ 11:01 pm

    Some new numbers:

  • Dave Wissing notes that the extended verson of the Gallup poll resulted in a larger Bush lead (51-47) (poll here) (Thanks to Betsy Newmark for noting Dave’s post).
  • ABC News has a new poll which shows what they call a “tepid bounce"-indeed, Gary Langer, the author of the story is so excited about the horserace numbers, he saves them for the sixth paragraph (it shows a 50-44-2 race, and and eight-point net shift to Kerry).

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    May it be so

    By Steven Taylor @ 6:55 pm

    Report: Zarqawi Trying to Get Message to Bin Laden

    Jordanian terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi (search), believed responsible for a series of attacks, kidnappings and beheadings in Iraq, has been trying to communicate with Al Qaeda leader Usama bin Laden, a senior defense official tells FOX News.

    Within the past several days, the anonymous defense official said, a courier had been intercepted inside Iraq bearing a message from Zarqawi to bin Laden. The official would not reveal the contents of the message or exactly when and where its bearer had been found.

    If true, this is a fairly big deal, as not only is it simply a positive to capture any member of Zarqawi’s group, it also potentially strengthens claims of his ties with bin Laden.

    Hat tip: Jeff Quinton

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    Colombian Trivia

    By Steven Taylor @ 2:28 pm

    From the NYT, 4/27/2003:

    Which of the following is not true?

    A. Colombia is the world’s biggest producer of emeralds.

    B. Colombian scientists invented the Hakim valve, the pacemaker and contact lenses for infants.

    C. Colombia is the world’s sixth-biggest petroleum producer.

    D. Colombia is the world’s biggest producer of smooth coffee.

    (Answer: C)


    But there was no way to sweeten the next part, “What Mess Have We Gotten Ourselves Into?” It was a list of embarrassments. For example: Colombia produces 80 percent of the world’s cocaine; 55 percent of the world’s terrorist acts happen in Colombia; and 2.7 million children there do not go to school.

    Next, Colombia’s successes. Among the dozens noted: the fourth-biggest producer of palm oil; the largest producer of carnations; and the home of Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Shakira.

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    The Rocket(mouth)

    By Steven Taylor @ 1:35 pm

    Roger Clemens Is Ejected From Son’s Game

    Houston Astros pitcher Roger Clemens was asked to leave a youth baseball game over the weekend for arguing a close call that went against his son’s team.

    Clemens was at the game Saturday watching his son, Kacy, compete in a 10-and-under game organized by Triple Crown Sports when Clemens contested a call at second base that went against the Katy Cowboys.

    He spit sunflower seeds at an umpire’s leg and was asked to leave, said Jim Carpenter, a field supervisor with Triple Crown.

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    Bush to Recommend National Intelligence Director

    By Steven Taylor @ 11:40 am

    Yahoo! News - Bush Backs Creation of U.S. Intelligence Director

    Bush stopped short of recommending the national intelligence director be located within the executive office of the presidency, as the commission had recommended. There have been bipartisan fears that putting the director in the White House could politicize the job.

    “I think it ought to be a stand-alone group to better coordinate, particularly between foreign intelligence and domestic intelligence matters,” Bush said in a White House Rose Garden announcement, surrounded by top national security aides.

    I have mixed feelings on this one. On the one hand, greater coordination of intelligence appears to be needed, but I am not convinced that more bureaucracy is the solution. And I further fear that what we are going to get is simply the intelligence version of the ONDCP (Office of National Drug Control Policy) Director-a coordinator without any real power who simply aggregates disparate bits of information so as to advise the President. It is a position that lacks efficacy in my opinion, and I wonder if the same won’t happen here.

    I just hope no one calls this position a “Czar"-although no doubt they will.

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    Question: Streaming Problems

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:57 am

    I have had streaming problems with any site using Windows Media Player (but not with Real Audio) and it started after I installed one of several (sadly, I am not such which) Windows XP Updates. Has anyone else had such problems? Any suggestions?

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    Big Trouble with (not so little) China?

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:53 am

    James Joyner comments in a new TCS piece: The Dragon Stirs.

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    Orange Politics

    By Steven Taylor @ 9:47 am

    Two quick thoughts on the claim that this whole financial sector orange alert brouhaha is simply grandstanding for political gain:

    1) If so, it is a pretty stupid move. It strikes me that making the financial sector in New York jittery on purpose would be a rather bad move on the Bush administration’s part, as nervous investors aren’t what the economy needs. Further, since oil futures are at or near record highs, partially because of fears that another terrorist attack is coming, this kind of situation will hardly help.

    2) If the Democrats think that increased concerns about terrorism helps Bush, what does that say about their own views of how Kerry is perceived vis-a-vis national security?

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    Post-DNC Toasties: This Week’s Toast-O-Meter is Here!

    By Steven Taylor @ 7:40 am

    -Rounding-up, analyzing and handicapping the 2004 election-

    Texas Toast or French Toast?
    Tracking the race to the White House.


    This week’s Toast-O-Meter reading

    Staring this week, each candidate will be awarded flaming toasters for substantial bad news, and wonder bread for good news.

    Bush gets the good news that Kerry’s bounce looks slim at best, but gets a bit burned in that the economic numbers aren’t as good as projected. However, given that he has the rest of the month of August to spend like crazy and dominate the airwaves going into his convention, his outlook is good, given that he doesn’t have any serious ground to make-up. And it should be noted he has roughly $30 million to spend over the next four weeks, meanwhile the Kerry campaign has to shepherd their resources until September.

    The DNC was well run and showcased unified Democratic Party. However, initial polling isn’t what the Kerry camp would have hoped for, and Kerry’s speech was met with mixed reviews.

    As such, Bush comes out ahead this week, especially given that he should be starting the post-DNC period in a hole, and he isn’t.

    Hence, Kerry is looking a tad more French Toastish and Bush is a step back from being Texas Toast.

    POLLING (and we all know how painful that can be)

    The initial reading of the toaster doesn’t look very Kerry-ish largely because of the initial polling data: despite a week in which Kerry and his message were in the spotlight, and during which the President hung out in Crawford, the polls show either a baby bounce, or slight bounce in Bush’s direction (shades of McGovern, 1972).

  • A Zogby poll taken during the convention showed only a 5 point lead for Kerry-Edwards.
  • Poll: No boost for Kerry after convention. Indeed, this poll shows a net loss for Kerry-the first such since McGovern in 1972. And what do you call a negative bounce? A plop? A flat?
  • Post-Convention Polls Mixed on Kerry Bounce.
  • A Baby Bounce?
  • Spinning the Bounce.
  • James Joyner has a round-up of the pre-convention battleground polls.
  • As always, check out Election Projection.
  • As always, Dave Wissing has both the national numbers and the state by state numbers.

    Brewing Issues


  • W. House Forecasts Record Budget Deficit.

  • Economy Cools Amid Shopping Slowdown
    U.S. gross domestic product, a measure of total output within the nation’s borders, climbed at a modest and weaker-than-expected 3 percent annual rate in the April-June period after an upwardly revised 4.5 percent clip at the start of the year, Commerce Department data showed.

    Consumer spending rose at a paltry 1 percent rate, a mere shadow of the 4.1 percent jump of the first quarter and the weakest gain since the second quarter of 2001, when the economy was in recession.

  • White House Says Deficit Forecast Isn’t as Bad as It Looks. No doubt these numbers will be part of the debate. The only thing that hampers Kerry from making into a really big deal is that his own proposals aren’t exactly deficit friendly.

  • Robert Tagorda notes that Democratic Coherence and the Lack Thereof (specifically in the case Iraq policy).
  • Kerry Says He’d Negotiate on Iraq Aid. No doubt all his personal charm and charisma will come in handy here.
  • Kerry Foresees No More U.S. Troops for Iraq. This is quite interesting, given that he did not say a thing about this during the convention.


  • Post-Convention Push Underway.
  • Kerry to Voters: ‘Help Is on the Way’. To which I ask: what does this mean? Can anyone tell me?
  • Maureen Dowd: “The Democratic convention, which was focus-group-dial-a- metered to death, needed a dose of dramamine.”
  • David Brooks:
    What an incoherent disaster. When you actually read for content, you see that the speech skirts almost every tough issue and comes out on both sides of every major concern. The Iraq section is shamefully evasive. He can’t even bring himself to use the word “democratic” or to contemplate any future for Iraq, democratic or otherwise. He can’t bring himself to say whether the war was a mistake or to lay out even the most meager plan for moving forward. For every gesture in the direction of greater defense spending, there are opposing hints about reducing our commitments and bringing the troops home.

    He proves in the speech that he can pronounce the word “alliances,” and alliances are important, but alliances for what? You can’t base an entire foreign policy on process.

  • Don Sensing noticed a glaring omission in Kerry’s speech: the Palestinian issue.

    THE OL’ COLLEGE TRY (The Electoral College: Aren’t They a Lousy School in WAC?)

  • Stephen Green has some maps in which analysts Wargame the Electoral College.
  • Barry at the Big Picture has a nifty map from CBS of the Battleground States.

    THAT AIN’T THE PRESIDENT’S JOB (Wherein we examine candidates promising things that ain’t the president’s job)

    This week’s installment is from President Bush:

  • From Remarks by the President in Springfield, Missouri
    And we’ll make sure American families keep more of something they never have enough of, and that’s time - time to play with the kids, time to go to the little league games, time to care for elderly parents, or time to go to class themselves. I believe Congress ought to enact comp-time and flex-time to help America’s families better juggle the demands of work and their home.

    That’s nice and all, but how is that the President’s job?

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    Sunday, August 1, 2004
    Now he Brings it up?

    By Steven Taylor @ 5:17 pm

    Kerry Foresees No More U.S. Troops for Iraq.

    Interesting, because he didn’t mention this at all during the convention (which was, after all, only a few days ago), and now he is talking about bringing home a “significant number” during his first term?

    Not only is this a fairly major statement policywise, and hence something that was worthy of airing at the convention, it also would have gone over quite well with the delegates, and led to more energy from the crowd. So why wait until the Sunday after the convention to bring it up?

    Of course, this is the same John Kerry who wanted more troops not that long ago.

    From the 12/4/03 edition of USAT:

    Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., said Wednesday that he would reverse President Bush’s “inept, reckless” foreign policies. He said he would send tens of thousands more troops to Iraq and name special envoys to the Mideast and Islamic world.

    Or from the 4/19/04 edition of USAT, Kerry says he would send more troops to Iraq if necessary:

    “It may well be that we need a new president, a breath of fresh air, to re-establish our credibility with the rest of the world” and bring other countries into Iraq, Kerry said on NBC’s Meet the Press.

    He also said that “if it requires more troops in order to create the stability that eliminates the chaos” discouraging the United Nations and other countries from helping, “that’s what we have to do.”

    So I guess that since he now thinks that more troops aren’t needed that he thinks that the Bush administration has been successful in recent months creating stabilitiy and elimininating chaos?

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    Quote of the Day

    By Steven Taylor @ 2:29 pm

    “I’m not Jesus Christ of the tax code. I can’t completely martyr myself.”-Ben Affleck.

    Here’ the backstory, from the NYT article:

    At a breakfast with Florida delegates, the actor Ben Affleck got into specifics, explaining that the Bush tax cuts had provided him with $1 million last year that he didn’t need.


    We asked Mr. Affleck if he had considered sending the $1 million back to Washington. “No,” he said. “I’m not Jesus Christ of the tax code. I can’t completely martyr myself.”

    Hat tip: Dave Wissing.

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    By Steven Taylor @ 2:13 pm

    Thanks to the following for permanently linking to PoliBlog:

  • BabyTrollBlog
  • Functional, if not decorative
  • Peppermint Patty
  • Mediocre but Unexciting
  • Stuff about
  • Tex the Pontificator
  • Peaktalk - Politics and Markets (Who recently returned from a blogging hiatus).

    Each has been added to the reciprocal link list on the left.

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    By Steven Taylor @ 1:57 pm

    This is the pre-edited version of what ran today in the Birmingham News-it didn’t make it to the web, and I wasn’t sure it had run until I received an e-mail from a reader.

    War: What’s it Good for?

    Steven L. Taylor

    An anti-war group called “Project Billboard” wants to rent space in Times Square in New York, near the site of the Republican National Convention, emblazoned with a red, white and blue bomb (a cartoon-looking bomb like the kind that the Coyote often used in Road-Runner cartoons) and the slogan “Democracy Is Best Taught by Example, Not by War". However, the owners of the space, Clear Channel Communications, have objected to the bomb imagery and a fight has emerged over the billboard.

    This is a situation ripe with various political angles. For one thing, Clear Channel ranks high in the unholy pantheon of corporate devils despised by many on the left (indeed, they are likely second only to the much-vilified Halliburton). Clear Channel draws the ire of many on the political left because many of their radio stations carry a variety of right-oriented talk radio, and many Clear Channel country music stations temporarily banned the Dixie Chicks from their airways after singer Natalie Maines told an audience in Great Britain that she was ashamed that President Bush was from Texas.

    However, the conflict between media giants and advocacy groups isn’t the most interesting element of the story to me, rather it is the sentiment in the slogan, which, while well intended, it simply incorrect. Indeed, it would be nice if it were true, but reflects a wishful view of the world which is simply false. It puts me in the mind of another favorite slogan of many anti-war elements in US politics: “You can no more win a war than you can win an earthquake” (a famous quote from the first woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, Jeannette Rankin). However, like the Project Billboard credo, this one, too, is misguided, even if it sounds good.

    For one thing, while war is messy, it is not, like an earthquake which in random in its devastation and does nothing constructive. War, though not wholly controllable, is not such a generalized force of destruction. It is, unfortunately, a sometimes necessary action by nation-states which operate, ultimately, in an international system that lacks, like British philosopher Thomas Hobbes’ state of nature, a “power able to overawe them all” and therefore able to make wayward state to behave. This situation therefore means that there is sometimes no other recourse for a state than to utilize force to secure its own safety.

    Further, regarding the idea that wars cannot be won, or that democracy cannot be furthered through warfare, let us consider the history that many on the left appear to ignore. Looking to our own political history for a moment, there can be no doubt the American War for Independence furthered democracy on our shores (indeed, it helped create that which was, at the time, the most democratic nation ever to exist). Further, the US Civil War, which rid our land of the odious institution of slavery clearly demonstrate how warfare can result in liberating (and therefore democratizing) influences.

    The list, from there, is long. Would Hirohito’s Japan, Hitler’s Germany or Mussolini’s Italy have naturally become democracies sans World War II? It would seem that war can be won, and that they can have democratizing influences. Certainly the peoples of various Eastern European states know that the Cold War ultimately resulted in democratization for their homelands. And while it is not an example of democratization, it is noteworthy that the war in Iraq has had a profound effect on Libya that has furthered the cause of international security.

    How about the idea that leading by example is the key to international harmony and democracy for all people? Do the individuals involved in Project Billboard really think that the Taliban would have looked out across the face of the Earth and, seeing model democracies in Europe, would have liberalized their governance of the Afghan people? Do they really think that Saddam would have eventually seen how nice life was in Australia, and therefore would have allowed a transition to democracy in Iraq?

    These are, of course specious claims. Yet that is what the slogan would have us believe. It is an idealized view of the world that only exists in chats over coffee or in seminar rooms.

    I am not suggesting that war should be the first, or even second or third, option that the United States should pursue in securing its national interest. However, to suggest that warfare never produces ultimately positive results, or that it never contributes to democracy’s growth, is patently wrong.

    No, to pretend that war is to be avoided at all costs is to acquiesce, in some cases, to evil and to further insecurity. More specifically: to rely on multilateral institutions and international law as the bulwark that will protect us from the evils of Islamofascist terrorism is to utterly ignore history and reality. One guesses that Bin Laden, al-Zarqawi and their ilk aren’t likely to sit down to chat anytime soon. And slogans and good feeling won’t protect us from their kind.

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    A Bumpless Convention?

    By Steven Taylor @ 1:44 pm

    Poll: No boost for Kerry after convention

    n the survey, taken Friday and Saturday, the Democratic ticket of Kerry and John Edwards trailed the Republican ticket of Bush and Dick Cheney 50% to 46% among likely voters, with independent candidate Ralph Nader at 2%.

    Before the convention, the two were essentially tied, with Kerry at 47%, Bush at 46%.

    The change in support was within the poll’s margin of error of /- 4 percentage points in the sample of 763 likely voters. But it was nonetheless a stunning result, the first time in the Gallup Poll since the 1972 Democratic convention that a candidate seemed to lose ground at his convention.

    Granted: it’s one poll, and the sample is smaller than I tend to like, but if you are Kerry you sure don’t want comparisons to the 1972 Democratic convention.

    The story also notes that the Newsweek poll showed that James Joyner termed a “Baby Bounce” yesterday.

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    I, Grader

    By Steven Taylor @ 7:24 am

    Computers Weighing In On the Elements of Essay

    Many students who have agonized over getting a high-stakes essay just right express similar views. Yet few of them know that essay-grading computers are quietly making significant gains in the booming U.S. testing industry.

    More than 2 million essays have been scored by e-rater since it was adopted for the GMAT in 1999, and the technology is being considered for use in the Graduate Record Examination, for graduate school admissions, and the Test of English as a Foreign Language, which assesses the English proficiency of immigrants entering U.S. schools.


    The e-rater was developed in the 1990s by subjecting essays to a “natural language processing technology” that identifies grammar, sentence structure and strength of vocabulary. The computer also is programmed to scan for the elements present in a well-supported essay, said Richard Swartz, an executive with Educational Testing Service, which developed e-rater.

    Given that writing is more than mechanics, I have a hard time seeing a computer program that could adequately score an essay-especially given the signficance of a few points on these tests, which can mean getting into a school (or not) or getting financial aid (or not). There can be a profound difference based on style and demonstrated depth of knowledge between two essays that otherwise have the same mechanical contents.

    I can somewhat see if for the TOFL, where the issue is less style than straight-forward language proficiency, but still.

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    WTO Progess

    By Steven Taylor @ 7:13 am

    Accord Reached On Global Trade

    Under the deal struck Sunday, wealthy nations would cut their subsidies to farmers, especially payments that tend to lead to overproduction and gluts in supply on world markets. Such subsidies have been widely condemned for depressing global crop prices and robbing farmers in poor nations of their livelihoods.

    In return, developing nations would cut the steep tariffs that many of them maintain on agricultural and industrial goods, expanding market opportunities for rich-country exporters.

    But whether those cuts will be deep or shallow, immediate or gradual depends on how far negotiators are willing to go in making concessions as the Doha Round progresses. Sunday’s deal leaves a huge amount of detail to be negotiated later, and negotiators here fought hard to keep many of their commitments as vague as possible to maintain their flexibility in the future talks.

    From a philosophical point of view, the idea that the US and the EU would cut subsidies and that trade barriers would continue to be lower globally strikes me as a very good thing.

    One wonders how long it will be before this becomes a campaign issue and Kerry starts talking about outsourcing farming, or somesuch. I just hope that Bush defends free trade, which we has sometimes been lukearm (at best) about.

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