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Who Links Here

Thursday, September 30, 2004
Filed under: US Politics: 2004 Campaign | Comments(7) | Trackbacks(6)
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  • ProfessorBainbridge.com linked with Debate Spin
  • InTheBullpen.com linked with First Presidential Debate
  • RIGHT ON RED >> linked with My Reaction to Debate One
  • ISOU linked with Arround the Blogsphere.... The Debate V
  • Peaktalk linked with THE DEBATE: DISAPPOINTING AND REVEALING
  • bLogicus linked with First Debate Round-Up Favors Kerry
Initial Polls

By Steven Taylor @ 9:56 pm

Stephanopolous on ABC News was reporting that ABC and CBS have polling that show Kerry having won the debate handily-however, I can find no links at this moment.

Filed under: US Politics: 2004 Campaign | Comments(3) | Trackbacks (0)
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It’s All in Bites

By Steven Taylor @ 9:50 pm

The more I think about it, the more I think that there was no overarching storyline from this debate-certainly not on the order of the Gore sighing routine or Clinton showing how he can feel everyone’s pain. Rather, the analysis will be in the bites-which ones get played over and over and what is said about them.

Filed under: US Politics: 2004 Campaign | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
Talking Heads

By Steven Taylor @ 9:40 pm

Andrea Mitchell (MSNBC): thinks that Kerry was “very tough” and she isn’t sure that the American people will respond well to it. She also thought that the reaction shots will damage Bush.

Ron Reagan (MSNBC): “I think we’ve got a race on out hands here” and “Kerry was the clear winner.”

The Newsweek Guy (I forget his name) wasn’t willing to say who won.

Bill Kristol (Fox) noted the whole “global test” business.

Ceco Connolly (Fox/WaPo) think that Bush studied up on Kerry and that Kerry displayed “a depth of knowledge” and that Bush “ran out of material.”

Mort Kondrake and Brit Hume think that Bush looked annoyed and tired. Connolly stated he looked “sour” at times.

Now the fox folks are discussing that Kerry looked bigger and Bush smaller in the split screen. My initial reaction is that they are grasping for something to talk about.

I agree with Bill Kristol that Kerry supporters will take heart from this debate.

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An Initial Assessment

By Steven Taylor @ 9:32 pm

My flash assessment is that Kerry did not accomplish what he needed to accomplish—which was to hit a homerun, land a knock-out punch, or whichever sports analogy one prefers. He did not have a clear statement on Iraq, has left himself open for the attack that he doesn’t understand the war on terror, and did nothing to elucidate a clear difference better himself and Bush beyond just the idea he would do it all “better.”

On a first viewing (and Heaven knows I will end up seeing parts of it over and over) I have seen no major gaffes by either candidate. Further, there really wasn’t anything all the particularly amusing.

Bush did stumble on occasion, but given that that was expected, I am not sure that that mattered.

Bush’s closing statement was better than Kerry’s—it had a vision behind, while Kerry’s was a continuation of his vague pronouncements.

Of course, as with speeches, the coverage is more significant than the event itself.

Filed under: US Politics: 2004 Campaign | Comments(4) | Trackbacks(4)
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  • From Behind the Wall of Sleep linked with Quick Peek at the Blogosphere (in progress)
  • The Moderate Voice linked with A Lively Presidential Debate: Will The Race Tighten?
  • From Behind the Wall of Sleep » Quick Peek at the Blogosphere (in progress) linked with a pingback
  • Mark the Pundit linked with The Debate
Transcripts

By Steven Taylor @ 9:30 pm

CNN’s debate page already has the first two parts of the debate online-with other debate-y goodness.

Filed under: US Politics: 2004 Campaign | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
Bush Slip Up

By Steven Taylor @ 9:28 pm

In responding to the Korea/China follow-up on the truth issue Bush went into auto-pilot by going back to Iraq. Of course, Kerry played along, making it less of a gaffe.

Filed under: US Politics: 2004 Campaign | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
Beslan and Putin

By Steven Taylor @ 9:26 pm

Bush worked in a reference to the terrorist and the schoolchildren in Beslan, something I expected.

Also, somewhat clever for him to speak with familiarity with “Vladimir"-which is clearly an attempt to underscore how Kerry can talk about talking to foreign leaders, while he actually does speak on a first-name basis with world leaders. Although, granted, Putin wouldn’t be first on my list of guys I wanted to be chummy with.

Filed under: US Politics: 2004 Campaign | Comments (1) | Trackbacks (0)
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Nukes

By Steven Taylor @ 9:23 pm

I think Kerry brought up nuclear proliferation just to force Bush to say “nu-cue-lar".

However, the idea that the US shouldn’t develop new weapons because it sends the wrong signal to the rest of the world is the kind of mistake that Democrats have been making on defense for decades-and one that is reflective of his Senate career vis-a-vis the Cold War. Further, it actually brings him into Zell Miller’s crosshairs.

Filed under: US Politics: 2004 Campaign | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
Bush Unpronounciation of the Night

By Steven Taylor @ 9:07 pm

Ok, this one can’t be left alone: Bush keeps calling the Mullahs, the “mooo-las".

That may be a classic.

However, I will say, I haven’t seen much good SNL material thus far.

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Score Another Point for Bush

By Steven Taylor @ 8:57 pm

Bush did a good job noting that the terrorists are coming to Iraq because Iraq is a central front on the war on terror, and that the foreign terrorists are coming to Iraq to defeat freedom and to stop Iraq from successfully forming a free state. This is a good (and I think accurate) retort to the Kerry claim that Allawi’s comment about terrorists flocking across the borders as simply evidence of failure.

Score another point for the President for addressing Kerry’s “passing the global test” statement in regards to preemptive action. He stumbled a bit on the international criminal court issue.

Filed under: US Politics: 2004 Campaign | Comments(3) | Trackbacks (1)
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An Empty Promise

By Steven Taylor @ 8:53 pm

Kerry has set himself another trap-he just promised that if we would just do what Kerry wants to do, then it would be possible to start withdrawing troops in six months. That’s quite a claim.

He also has now at least twice intimated that Bush went to Iraq for their oil, which is a rather Mooresque charge.

Filed under: General | Comments (1) | Trackbacks (0)
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Kerry’s Plan Continues to Lack Definition

By Steven Taylor @ 8:49 pm

A summit + better training + elections = a plan for Iraq?

Kerry continues to lack much of a plan on Iraq.

Filed under: US Politics: 2004 Campaign | Comments (1) | Trackbacks (0)
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Bush’s Theme

By Steven Taylor @ 8:44 pm

“That’s not how a Commander-in-Chief acts"-this is pretty much what Bush is trying to hammer home tonight.

Filed under: US Politics: 2004 Campaign | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
So Far So Good

By Steven Taylor @ 8:42 pm

Both candidates are doing a solid job at almost the halfway point. My guess is that pro-Kerry voters think Kerry is winning and pro-Bush voters think Bush is winning.

Kerry has brought up taking the eye off Osama, the cost of Iraq and the honesty issue.

Bush has demonstrated that as President he has been active, and is active, that he is passionate about winning this process, and has pointed out Kerry’s shifting positions (although not all that strongly).

Kerry’s speaks more fluidly, but that is no surprise. Kerry has avoided seeming overly haughty, nor has he been an pedantic as he can be.

Filed under: US Politics: 2004 Campaign | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (1)
  • Rooftop Report linked with Debate Recap
Score a Point for Bush

By Steven Taylor @ 8:39 pm

Good answer to the idea that Kerry will do a better job of getting help from our allies: “What are we going to tell them? Come join us in a “grand diversion""?

Plus, pointing out that there are summits planned undercuts Kerry-again, it is the advantage of being the incumbent.

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

By Steven Taylor @ 8:32 pm

“When I talked about the $87 billion, I made a mistake in how I talked about the war, but the President made a mistake in invading Iraq,which is worse? “-that’s the best Kerry could do to explain the $87 billion after having all that time to plan?

Ok, I will grant, that the vote issue is small compared to the war itself, but surely the Kerry team could have come up with a way to make the $87 billion into an opportunity-or, at least, a way to say that it wasn’t a flip-flop-that answer was a dodge-which doesn’t help his case.

Filed under: US Politics: 2004 Campaign | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
A Free Iraq

By Steven Taylor @ 8:28 pm

Bush is doing something that he is going to have keep doing, which is point out why a free Iraq is good for the United States, and the role it plays in the war on terror.

Filed under: US Politics: 2004 Campaign | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
More on Afghanistan

By Steven Taylor @ 8:19 pm

Kerry is clearly planning to say that Afghanistan is the war on terror. And bringing up Tommy Franks was unwise, as Franks criticized Kerry for making a similar statement the other day. And bringing up the body armor is about to result is Bush mentioning the $87 billion, which is something you’d think Kerry would want to avoid.

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Moving Along

By Steven Taylor @ 8:14 pm

Theme for Kerry: Iraq is a distraction from Afghanistan, which he is now trying to make the War on Terror, it would seem (that may be dangerous, strategy-wise-a focus on Osama is one thing, an over-focus on Afghanistan may not play as well). Further, he is arguing that Iraq takes away domestic spending dollars, which is a dubious proposition, but still a theme that might resonate.

Indeed, Bush may be scoring on the first point by pointing out that 1) the war on terror is a global effort, 2) we have the capability to do more than thing at a time, and 3) he is using Kerry’s argument to focus on just one thing is not to understand the war on terror. Clearly whomever it is who can define what the war on terror actually is, will win the debate, and, ultimately, the election.

Filed under: US Politics: 2004 Campaign | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
A Little Passion

By Steven Taylor @ 8:11 pm

Bush is starting to show a little passion-which is a good thing, as he started out a bit on the comatose side. The passion in question is aimed at the idea of defeating our enemies which will no doubt appeal to the “security moms” and such.

Clearly Kerry’s tactic is to talk about not getting Osama. The line about “outsourcing” the hunt for Osama was a decent one.

Filed under: General | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
The First Question

By Steven Taylor @ 8:08 pm

I always think it is silly how they always have to start out by thanking the world rather than answering the question-and that isn’t a slam at Kerry, it is standard Presidential debate procedure.

Kerry isn’t answering the question, except by saying “yes, I will keep us safer.” Much more “better job” assertions. However, the idea of isolating the Islamic radicals sounded decent.

Bush’s initial stumbling with his “thank you” in the rebuttal was a bit odd.

He is demonstrating the advantage of the incumbent-Kerry could only speculate how much better things could be, while Bush is able to make a list of actual accomplishments. The idea that a certain percentage of al Qaeda has been arrested or killed, that 10 million Afghans have registered to vote, that Saddam is in jail, that Libya is disarming is a better answer than “I know I can do better.”

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Kibbitzing

By Steven Taylor @ 8:02 pm

OK, enough with the Talking Heads-let’s rumble.

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Even More Live Blogging

By Steven Taylor @ 7:50 pm

Kristopher of The World Around You is also live-blogging, while James Joyner.

Filed under: US Politics: Blogging: 2004 Campaign | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
Bad Timing

By Steven Taylor @ 7:41 pm

Daily Kos is down for “maintenance".

Hmm, an omen for Team Kerry?

Filed under: US Politics: Blogging: 2004 Campaign | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
More Live Blogging

By Steven Taylor @ 7:40 pm

Blogs for Bush has a list.

Filed under: US Politics: Blogging: 2004 Campaign | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
All the Debate Blogging that is Fit to Drink

By Steven Taylor @ 7:35 pm

Stephen Green will be live blogging as well tonight..

Filed under: US Politics: Blogging: 2004 Campaign | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
Sad, Bizarre and Unnecessary

By Steven Taylor @ 5:18 pm

Former NFL player dies in fiery crash on Thruway

A former player for the Pittsburgh Steelers led state troopers on a 40-mile chase along the New York State Thruway during morning rush hour Thursday before dying in a fiery head-on collision with a tanker truck carrying corrosive acid.

State police identified the victim as Justin Strzelczyk, 36, an offensive lineman with the Steelers for nearly a decade until the team released him in February 2000.

Strzelczyk, who lives near Pittsburgh in McCandless, Pa., had been involved in another minor accident about an hour earlier just west of Syracuse, which started the bizarre turn of events, Simpson said.

The hit-and-run occurred about 7:20 a.m. and state police put out an alert for Strzelczyk’s pickup. Troopers spotted him about 40 minutes later still heading east on the Thruway just west of Canastota, midway between Syracuse and Utica.

A second unit tried to stop the pickup by booby-trapping the road with the “stop sticks,” but Strzelczyk just kept on going, Simpson said. The pickup was clocked at 88 mph, Simpson said.

“He was going down the road, flipping off the troopers. He even threw a beer bottle at them,” Simpson said.

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The Advantages of Incumbency

By Steven Taylor @ 5:14 pm

Bush surveying hurricane damage before debate

He was going to be in the neighborhood anyway for a debate, so President Bush slipped another tour of hurricane damage onto his schedule Thursday, this time of the Treasure Coast area north of Miami.

The survey of the Stuart, Florida, region will be Bush’s fifth tour of hurricane damage in the state that decided the 2000 election.

He also received a briefing on Hurricane Charley in a Miami firehouse August 27, about 100 miles from the nearest damage.

Democrats said they smelled politics. Bush has campaigned aggressively here since becoming president, and when he arrived for hurricane tour number four on Wednesday he was paying his 29th visit to the state.

Of course, if the President was in Florida for the debates and ignored the hurricane damage, the Democrats would have smelled indifference and have charged the President of caring more about politics than people.

Ah, the fun of campaign season!

Filed under: US Politics: 2004 Campaign: Hurricanes | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
Getting Noticed by the Boston Herald

By Steven Taylor @ 4:07 pm

The Boston Herald has a list of blogs planning to cover tonight’s debate live and PoliBlog made the list (and in pretty heady company, too, Blogospherically speaking).

Man, now the pressure’s on!

Filed under: US Politics: Blogging: 2004 Campaign | Comments(2) | Trackbacks (0)
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And the Evil Continues

By Steven Taylor @ 3:40 pm

Baghdad Car Bombs Kill 34 Children Receiving Sweets

Insurgents detonated three car bombs near a U.S. military convoy in Baghdad Thursday, killing 41 people, 34 of them children who were rushing to collect sweets from American troops.

Hmm. I am thinking that when a groups targets children with a car bomb, they lose any right to the assignation “insurgent” and deserve “terrorist” or, more accurately “mass murderers".

Just a thought for Reuters to consider.

Filed under: Iraq: War on Terror | Comments (1) | Trackbacks (0)
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Hitting the Nail on the Head

By Steven Taylor @ 3:03 pm

George Will correctly notes the essence of Kerry’s problem:

Every successful candidate has a basic stump speech, the incessant reiteration of which drives the traveling media into insane lip-syncing of it. It is 15 minutes long - five minutes on the problems, five on the candidate’s solutions, five on the contrast with his opponent. It is 33 days before Election Day, and Kerry still has no such speech. So he must make the most of these parallel news conferences that we laughably call “debates.”

Will also gives the line of the day:

Presidential debates are to real debates as processed cheese is to cheese.

Indeed.

The whole piece worthy of a read.

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The “Politics of Fear”

By Steven Taylor @ 2:46 pm

I noted a headline in WaPo yesterday that noted something about “the politics of fear"-which I did not have time to read, but the headline sparked a thought I have often had during this campaign: that disucssing actual threats is not fearmongering. Fearmongering, or exploiting irrational fears, is fairly common in US politcs (e.g., “if the Republicans get their way, old people will have to eat dog food")-and I am no fan of such hyperbole. However, if there is a legitimate fear that the government needs to deal with, surely discussing that threat is hardly “the politics of fear” in any unreasonable seanse. The issue becomes whether the threat is legitimate and which candidate can best deal with it.

Mickey Kaus agrees, noting the following:

Ted Kennedy is going to be attacked for saying that the war in Iraq has “made the mushroom cloud more likely, not less likely.” But why shouldn’t he say it? That’s what the campaign is mainly about-namely, whose policies will minimize the risk of a “nuclear 9/11″. … Dick Cheney was similarly within his rights to argue that if Kerry’s elected “the danger is we’ll get hit again.” That’s his argument. …The point is that neither argument can be ruled out of bounds as excessive fear-mongering-after 9/11 fear of catastrophic terrorism in the U.S. clearly isn’t excessive at all. The arguments need to be judged on their merits

I concur: Kennedy may be correct, Cheney may be correct-indeed, the issue of which one of them is correct is pretty much the bottom line of this electoral cycle.

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  • Ipse Dixit linked with Fearmongering
Unusual Headline of the Day

By Steven Taylor @ 11:07 am

Venezuela, Colombia Get Failing Grade in Nazi Hunt

Filed under: Global Politics: Latin America | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
Rhyme Time

By Steven Taylor @ 11:05 am

Joe Gandelman has a little fun at Jesse Jackson’s expense.

It reminds me of my favorite Jesse Jackson moment: when he read Green Eggs and Ham on SNL.

Filed under: US Politics: 2004 Campaign | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
One G-Mail Invite Left

By Steven Taylor @ 10:50 am

I still have a Gmail invite, if someone wants it.

Filed under: General | Comments(8) | Trackbacks (0)
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Like They Needed a Study to Figure This Out?

By Steven Taylor @ 10:44 am

Yes, You Really Do Need That Coffee

Filed under: Coffee | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
That’s Just Plain Creepy

By Steven Taylor @ 10:43 am

In Japan, Women Can Doze With Man Pillow

Filed under: General | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
Today’s Bonus List: Do’s and Don’ts—Lessons from Past Debates

By Steven Taylor @ 10:17 am

Filed under: Campaign 2004

Do’s and Don’ts—Lessons from Past Debates

5. Don’t invade your opponent’s personal space.

4. Do shave before the debate.

3. Don’t sigh! (related: don’t roll your eyes).

2. Don’t look at your watch.

1. Do keep your hearing aid on at all times.

Filed under: US Politics: 2004 Campaign: Today's List | Comments(2) | Trackbacks(7)
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  • The Moderate Voice linked with MUST READS Going Into Tonight's Presidential Debates
  • The Moderate Voice linked with MUST READS Going Into Tonight's Presidential Debates
  • The Moderate Voice linked with MUST READS Going Into Tonight's Presidential Debates
  • The Moderate Voice linked with MUST READS Going Into Tonight's Presidential Debates
  • The Moderate Voice linked with MUST READS Going Into Tonight's Presidential Debates
  • Bob\’s Place linked with Kerryisms conflictatorus
  • The Command Post - 2004 US Presidential Election linked with Debate Night
Today’s List: Top Five Ways to Amuse Yourself with Tonight’s Debate

By Steven Taylor @ 8:30 am

(I was going to call it “Top Five Ways to Amuse Yourself During Tonight’s Debate, but that might’ve taken the list in a different direction…)

Filed under: Campaign 2004

Top Five Ways to Amuse Yourself with Tonight’s Debate

5. Find Senator Kerry’s longest sentence.

4. Play the political version of John Madden’s sweat race (he is known for noting which offensive lineman is sweating the most). This could also be called the “Nixon game”.

3. Count the number of words the President mispronounces.

2. Find the new buzzword/phrase: what will be the “lockbox” or “risky tax scheme” of 2004?

1. What new word will President Bush invent tonight?

And your bonus entry: ‘Should I score that a “flip” or a “flop”’?

Feel free to play along.

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

Filed under: US Politics: 2004 Campaign: Today's List | Comments (1) | Trackbacks(2)
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  • The Moderate Voice linked with MUST READS Going Into Tonight's Presidential Debates
  • The Command Post - 2004 US Presidential Election linked with Debate Night
Debate Effects

By Steven Taylor @ 8:29 am

Here’s an interesting graphic from today’s LAT:

Filed under: US Politics: 2004 Campaign | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
It’s Debate Day

By Steven Taylor @ 8:24 am

And all the PoliGeeks and News Junkies said, “amen!” (or, perhaps, groaned a bit). Regardless, we will be watching.

Here’s some of the “Pre-Game":

  • The NYT’s headline asks a legit question: In Debate on Foreign Policy, Wide Gulf or Splitting Hairs?. On the one hand, this election posits a seemingly large philosophical difference about the use of American power in the world, yet on the other, aside from promising to do things “better", Kerry has yet to articulate a genuine difference in terms of actual policy action. However, one dramatic difference may become clear tonight if Kerry will create a stark difference between himself and the President by stiking to, and reinforcing, his promise to pull out of Iraq in a set amount of time. If he does he will please his base, but I predict he will also damage himself, insofar as the President’t message of victory will resonate more than will a message of withdrawal.
  • WaPo provides A Primer for Tonight’s First Debate.
  • USAT note that Words may fall short in debate.
  • The LAT promises: Debate Set to Sharpen Bush-Kerry Contrast
  • The DMN rightly notes Resolved: Presidential debate really isn’t a debate
  • Kevin Drum offers some pre-debate thoughts and notes he will be live-blogging the debate. He notes the following very interesting piece from The Atlantic: When George Meets John | James Fallows

BTW, the Toast-O-Meter, which has been on two-week unannounced hiatus, will return in a few days after the debate to take a reading of the electorate. Certainly this in one of the best opportunities for the candidates to try and toast the other.

Expect Live Blogging of the events tonight on PoliBlog.

Filed under: US Politics: 2004 Campaign | Comments (0) | Trackbacks(2)
  • The Moderate Voice linked with MUST READS Going Into Tonight's Presidential Debates
  • The Command Post - 2004 US Presidential Election linked with Debate Night
Speaking of Enterprise

By Steven Taylor @ 7:39 am

Enterprise Rebuffs Shatner

Original Star Trek star William Shatner told TV Guide Online that his rumored guest appearance on UPN’s Star Trek: Enterprise is on hold in a dispute over money. “When I talked to [UPN] about money, they blinked,” Shatner told the site.

Shatner added that there’s still a chance it could happen “if they open their eyes.” If it can be worked out, Shatner said his guest slot would be for two episodes, not one.

Too bad-it might’ve been fun.

Filed under: Pop Culture: SciFi | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
You’ve Been Shatner’d

By Steven Taylor @ 7:38 am

Shatner ‘Invasion’ Set for Spike

Spike TV and William Shatner have just revealed that a film shot on location in Iowa is actually an elaborate hoax that will be the basis of a reality series set to air on the cable network early next year.

Shatner and a crew of producers, writers and actors spent more than a year planning the hoax, which involved a fake sci-fi time-travel feature titled “Invasion Iowa” that Shatner purportedly wrote, directed, produced and starred in.

The cast and crew spent 10 days shooting on location in the small town of Riverside, Iowa, where several local residents were hired to be cast and crew members but unwittingly became the stars of the new reality series. During the shoot, Shatner played the role of an increasingly over-the-top version of himself.

Hmm, Shatner doing an over-acted version of Shatner. That might actually be amusing, although I am not sure I could watch a show about it.

And is it just me, or is Shatner everywhere all of a sudden? There’re the ubiquitous Priceline commercials (I love the ones with Nimoy, btw), Boston Legal, talk about a guest-starring role on Enterprise, he has a new album coming out (yes, you read that right), and it seems like I saw him in something else recently as well.

It’s Shatner-mania! A true Shatner-palooza!

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Wednesday, September 29, 2004
To Put it Mildly

By Steven Taylor @ 12:22 pm

Kerry Calls Vote Change ‘Inarticulate’

On the eve of a foreign policy debate with President Bush, Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry said in an interview that his explanation of why he voted in favor of additional funding for the war in Iraq before voting against it was “one of those inarticulate moments” in the campaign.

I still can’t believe he said it. Sure, there are ways to explain what he meant, but all of them are clumsy, and regardless of whether his statement was factually true or not it is the kind of sound bite that an opponent can only dream of. It was far more than an inarticulate moment, it was a blunder of gargantuan proportions-and that ain’t hyperbole. He played right into the GOP script that he was a flip-flopper, and he did it in his own words on video, and did so on the issue of the campaign: Iraq.

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  • bLogicus linked with Top Ten Bush Flip-Flops by CBS
The End of Civilization as we Know it?

By Steven Taylor @ 11:57 am

Or, really, really smart politics?

Dr. Phil’s Advice To Candidates: Come on My Show

Both Bush and Kerry, accompanied by their wives, have sat for hour-long interviews with Dr. Phil, aka Phil McGraw, who has gone from being Oprah Winfrey’s on-air advice expert to having his own program, where he talks “common sense” to Americans with imperfect lives.

As much as it makes me cringe, it is clearly smart politics:

According to Hayes, the show’s producers contacted both campaigns about a possible appearance and “they both said yes immediately.” It was a no-brainer: as Dr. Phil points out on his own Web site, his show is a big “media buy” for campaign advertising given its demographic (the show regularly reaches nearly 7 million viewers, many of them women, a desirable target for both campaigns). Or, as political strategist Mandy Grunwald put it, if you’re already advertising on shows like “Oprah” or “Dr. Phil,” why wouldn’t you want an entire free hour to reach that same audience?”

“If you’re talking about undecided voters,” says Grunwald, who orchestrated Clinton’s talk-show appearances in the 1992 campaign, ” . . . the people who watch the evening news. . . know who they are voting for. The people who watch Dr. Phil are far more likely not to have made up their mind. And it’s hard to find undecided voters. . . . so this is not so much about what you’re going to say. It’s about going where the voters are.”

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  • Outside The Beltway linked with Beltway Traffic Jam
2Q GDP Growth Revised Upward

By Steven Taylor @ 9:56 am

Economic Growth Reported Above Forecast

U.S. gross domestic product - the measure of total output within the nation’s borders - expanded at a revised 3.3 percent annual rate in the April-June second quarter.

That was up from a 2.8 percent rate the government estimated a month ago but still slower than the first quarter’s 4.5 percent rate, and the most sluggish rate of GDP advance since the first quarter of 2003.

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Drezner in the NYT

By Steven Taylor @ 6:34 am

Bloggin’ Prof Daniel Drezner of the University of Chicago has made it to the page of the NYT with his relentless analysis of th crisis of out-sourcing of jobs (or the lack thereof, as the case may be): Where Did All the Jobs Go? Nowhere

Now, however, we can add some actual figures to the overheated debate. The Government Accountability Office has issued its first review of the data, and one undeniable conclusion to be drawn from it is that outsourcing is not quite the job-destroying tsunami it’s been made out to be. Of the 1.5 million jobs lost last year in “mass layoffs'’ - that is, when 50 or more workers are let go at once - less than 1 percent were attributed to overseas relocation; that was a decline from the previous year. In 2002, only about 4 percent of the money directly invested by American companies overseas went to the developing countries that are most likely to account for outsourced jobs - and most of that money was concentrated in manufacturing.

The data did show that from 1997 to 2002, annual imports of business, technical and professional services increased by $16.3 billion. However, during that same half-decade, exports of those services increased by $20.5 billion a year. In 2002 alone, the United States ran a $27 billion trade surplus in business services, the sector in which jobs are most likely to be outsourced. The G.A.O. correctly stressed that it is impossible to compute exactly how many jobs are lost because of outsourcing, but unless its figures are off by several orders of magnitude, there’s no crisis here.

The entire piece is worth a read.

He has more, along with citations, as any good academic should, here: Until the New York Times allows footnotes, this post will have to do.

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Gore Dispenses Debate Advice

By Steven Taylor @ 6:26 am

How to Debate George Bush

My advice to John Kerry is simple: be prepared for the toughest debates of your career. While George Bush’s campaign has made “lowering expectations” into a high art form, the record is clear - he’s a skilled debater who uses the format to his advantage. There is no reason to expect any less this time around. And if anyone truly has “low expectations” for an incumbent president, that in itself is an issue.

Hmm. I was expecting more practical advice like, “don’t sigh while your opponent in talking” and “rolling your eyes may be seen as a sign of disrepect” or “don’t use the word ‘lockbox.’” Not to mention “don’t talk to the voters like they are five year-olds.”

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  • Overtaken by Events linked with Goredvice
Two of Cole Bombers Sentenced to Die

By Steven Taylor @ 6:20 am

Yemen Sentences Two to Death for USS Cole Blast

A Yemeni court sentenced two al Qaeda militants to death on Wednesday for the 2000 bombing of the U.S. destroyer Cole which killed 17 sailors.

Four other militants received jail terms of five to 10 years for the attack in Aden harbor.

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Tuesday, September 28, 2004
The Race is Over: Kerry Wins Key Endorsement

By Steven Taylor @ 12:28 pm

What will Dubya do now?

Tiny Crawford Newspaper Endorses Kerry

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Quote of the Day

By Steven Taylor @ 12:17 pm

“It’s been a little tough to prepare for the debate because he keeps changing positions.” - G. W. Bush

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The Irony

By Steven Taylor @ 10:48 am

Jordan’s Abdullah: Iraq not ready for Jan. election

King Abdullah of Jordan, one of the United States key allies in the Middle East, has come out strongly against holding elections in Iraq in January. Al Jazeera reports that Abdullah told the French newspaper, Le Figaro, that the current security situation in Iraq makes such a plan ‘impossible.’

While the assessment may be correct, I find it highly ironic that a hereditary monarch is commenting on whether or not to hold elections.

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No Doubt

By Steven Taylor @ 9:13 am

Fla. Cleanup Is Biggest in FEMA’s History

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Not Fun

By Steven Taylor @ 9:12 am

I shall refrain from ever complaining again about my 40ish hours sans power as a reult of Ivan: A Million in Florida Still Powerless After Jeanne.

There is school in Southern Alabama that I know of that will have to push High School graduation into July because they still haven’t been able to get the school back up and running. I can’t imagine what some of the folks in Florida are going to have to do.

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Be Careful What You Wish For (Colorado Poised to Make Themselves Irrelevant in the Electoral College)

By Steven Taylor @ 8:59 am

Colo. initiative could make 2004 a repeat of 2000:

In place of a winner-take-all system, Amendment 36 would divide the state’s electoral votes proportionally, based on each candidate’s share of the popular vote. And it would take effect immediately.

I am not the first to make this observation, but Colorado voters are going to neuter themselves EC-wise if they vote for this. If this passes it will mean that every four years we will know that Colorado will split their electoral vote 5-4, except in a huge and improbable landslide for one candidate. As such, there will only be one contested vote in the state of Colorado. Indeed, in terms of campaign strategy, the campaigns will end up treating CO as a 1 electoral vote state (the only one, since the minimum under the Constitution is 3). Coloradans should ask their neighbors in Wyoming and Montana how much attention they get in presidential elections (each has 3 ev’s).

If the state wants to split up its votes, it makes more sense to go the Maine/Nebraska route and allocate 2 votes by plurality at the state level, and the remaining votes by congressional districts-at least under that kind of system there would be some actual competition for votes and the ability for a candidate to win the whole state. Although, given the system, it makes more sense to maintain the unit rule (i.e., the winner-take-all system).

I know that the argument is that by splitting the ev that the voters in CO are better represented, but the folly of that argument is that the Electoral College doesn’t represent indivudal voters, it represents voters aggregated into states. To seek to be represented in a way that isn’t commensurate with the system in which one is seeking representation is to actually diminish one’s representation in that system.

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Chalabi Case Closed Due to Lack of Evidence

By Steven Taylor @ 8:45 am

Iraqi Judge Closes Case Against Ahmad Chalabi

A senior Iraqi judge said Monday that he had closed a case brought against Ahmad Chalabi, the former exile leader once backed by the Pentagon, for suspected involvement in a counterfeiting operation.

The judge, Zuhair al-Maliky, said in a telephone interview that he decided about a week and a half ago that “the evidence was not enough to bring the case to trial.” If more evidence emerges, he said, the case will be reopened.

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Monday, September 27, 2004
Here Comes the FF

By Steven Taylor @ 10:50 pm

One wonders if they can pull this one off: ‘Fantastic Four’ refers to actors, too. However, the excellent job they have done with the X-Men gives me some hope.

There are more pics here.

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New Record Seizure of Cocaine at Sea

By Steven Taylor @ 10:34 pm

U.S. Seizes 30,000 Pounds of Cocaine

The Coast Guard and Navy seized 30,000 pounds of cocaine from a boat off South America’s Pacific coast this month in what authorities called the largest-ever seizure of the drug at sea.

What always strikes me about these record seizures is that we keep setting the records, but the drug traffickers keep sending more and more so that more new records can be set.

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A Blog I Forgot to Thank-n-Link

By Steven Taylor @ 10:18 pm

In updating my reciprocal links yesterday, I forgot to list Dave Schuler’s The Glittering Eye, which has now been duly linked.

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A Headline Bush Doesn’t Want to See

By Steven Taylor @ 10:10 pm

Stocks Fall on Oil, Dow Ends Below 10,000

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What’s Up With the Headline?

By Steven Taylor @ 10:02 pm

Aside from the fact that all polls are questionable on some level, I see nothing in the story to justify the qualifer in the headline/the first paragraph: Bush apparently leads Kerry in pre-debate poll

Headed into their first face-to-face debate, President Bush appears to be leading Democratic Sen. John Kerry among likely voters, with a clearer edge among registered voters.

Indeed, if one reads the write-up, the numbers are quite Bush-ish, so what’s up with the headline?

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  • Wizbang linked with CNN: Do we have to report that Bush is winning?
More Blog-Talk in the MSM

By Steven Taylor @ 12:47 pm

Many in the Blogosphere have been talking about yesterday’s LAT piece on blogging: Blogging Sells, and Sells Out (because we love it when they talk about us).

James Joyner have a lengthy piece on the subject that is worthy of a read. I concur with his basic thesis that the basic of blogging really haven’t changed in the last two years-save for the fact that there has been more recognition of blogs in the mainstream.

Indeed, the whole phenomenon reminds me of the growth of talk radio in the early 1990s-for years the mainstream press ignored the very existence of talk radio and treated it as transient and beneath notice. I distinctinly recall Larry King denying he had every heard of Limbaugh in the early 1990s, for example, even after Limbaugh had been national for some years and was one hundreds of station (either Larry had his head in the sand or simply didn’t want to acknowledge the competition-he was still on nightime talk radio at the time, which had been the only viable niche in the market for talk). Nowadays, however, no mention of political media is complete without mentioned talk radio. Now, I think you can add blogs to the list.

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Report: Osama Alive, in Pakistan

By Steven Taylor @ 12:10 pm

Speaking of al Qaeda: Bin Laden ‘alive and in Pakistan’

Intelligence indicates Osama bin Laden is alive, Pakistan’s president says, and the top U.S. military official in Afghanistan believes the al Qaeda leader is likely in Pakistan.

On a visit to The Hague in the Netherlands Monday, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf told reporters interrogations of captured al Qaeda operatives and technological evidence indicate bin Laden is alive.

Lt. Gen. David Barno, commander of coalition forces in Afghanistan, told the Reuters news agency that top al Qaeda leaders, including bin Laden and his deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri, are more likely to be in Pakistan than Afghanistan.

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I Shall Wait and See, but: Report of Zawahiri Capture in Pakistan

By Steven Taylor @ 12:07 pm

The Jerusalem Post reports:

Top Bin Laden deputy Ayman al-Zawahri has been caught in Pakistan, according to a report from the region quoted on Israel Radio Monday.

Pakistani forces operating against al Qaida strongholds in the country report capturing the Egyptian national, who was formerly the head of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, which operated in the past against the Egyptian regime.

May it be so, but we’ve been down this road before to find ourselves at a dead end, so…

Hat tip: e-mail from CrushKerry.com

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Campaign Finance Follies Continued

By Steven Taylor @ 8:45 am

In case you were unaware, more loopholes in the campaign finance laws-New Routes for Money to Sway Voters

Known as 501c groups, for a statute in the tax code, these tax-exempt advocacy and charitable organizations are conduits for a steady stream of secretive cash flowing into the election, in many respects unaffected by the McCain-Feingold legislation enacted in 2002. Unlike other political groups, 501c organizations are not governed by the Federal Election Commission but by the Internal Revenue Service, which in a complex set of regulations delineates a range of allowable activities that are subject to minimal disclosure long after Election Day.

A 501c (3) group can register voters, and donations to it are tax deductible, but it is prohibited from engaging in partisan or electioneering work. A 501c (4), (5) or (6) group can be involved in elections, but the cost of doing so must be less than one-half the group’s total budget. Public Citizen, in a report last week titled “The New Stealth PACs,” contended that many of the politically active 501c (4) groups regularly spend more than half their budgets on political activities in violation of IRS rules.

IRS rules also stipulate that electioneering by 501c (4), (5) and (6) groups cannot be “express advocacy” - that is, telling people to vote for or against specific candidates. But such groups can run ads that address public issues such as immigration or taxes and that refer to the stands of candidates in ways that help or hurt them.

1) The “express advocacy” rule has always struck me as silly and as an over-lawyering of the rule. Ok, so you can’t say “Vote for Kerry” or “Don’t Vote for Kerry” but you can intimate all you like that Kerry ought be or ought not be elected-as if people really have to think about it if you don’t expressly state that you are supporting or not supporting a candidate. If you run an ad that makes Bush look like a shmuck, is that really substantially different in any way from saying “Don’t Vote for Bush"?

Really, this rule has always struck me as emblematic of the entire campaign finance reform enterprise: a rule that in a vacuum might sound like it is doing something, but it reality is a cold farce.

Further, I don’t see the First Amendment allowing Congress to dictate whether a group can say “Vote for Kerry” or not.

2) The lack of transparency: the biggest problem here is that contributors are unknown. While I am for the free flow of money into the process, I am also for the free flow of information about who is contributing. We owe the voter that information.

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Tales of Intellectual Laziness and Theft (With Maybe a Little Hubris Thrown in for Fun)

By Steven Taylor @ 7:24 am

E-mailer Paul notes the following tale from the Weekly Standard: The Big Mahatma which details an incidence of plagiarism by Laurence Tribe. The piece details parallels between a Tribe book on the SC and one by another scholar, and goes on to draw comparisons to Doris Kearns Goodwin’s own foray in the world of “creative citation":

But even Goodwin’s discredited book, by Tribe’s own account, contained “something like 3,500 footnotes” citing “300 or so” other works; God Save This Honorable Court, by unflattering contrast, contains no footnotes at all-nor any other sort of “meticulous attribution.” Instead, at the end of God Save This Honorable Court, we find a two-page “Mini-Guide to the Background Literature,” which lists Henry Abraham’s Justices and Presidents as merely the twelfth of fifteen books (including two of Tribe’s own previous works) that “an interested reader might wish to consult.”

And against even this tiny hint of Tribe’s use-the only appearance of Abraham in the book-one must set Tribe’s preface, which explains the lack of footnotes by claiming: “much of what this book contains represents the culmination of more years of research and reflection about the Supreme Court and its role than I care to confess. Thus I cannot hope to trace here all the roots of the ideas that appear in these chapters-or to allocate credit or blame among the many who share indirect responsibility for the thoughts I have expressed.”

Such practices would have garnered a “zero” from me, had I been grading it.

And I am with the MLA on this one:

BUT THERE SEEMS more to the production of Tribe’s book than its public purpose. We enter here into what the novelist (and sometime WEEKLY STANDARD contributor) Thomas Mallon calls the “peculiar psychology” of famous people who want also to be authors.

Mallon has written, in addition to his novels, the 1989 Stolen Words: Forays into the Origins and Ravages of Plagiarism, declared “the definitive book on the subject” by the New York Times. And so I telephoned him to ask what he thought of the kind of systematic paraphrasing that God Save This Honorable Court uses.

But he seemed interestingly unwilling to subsume the practice entirely under the genus of plagiarism. Of Tribe’s particular case, Mallon rightly said he didn’t know the details. But even of the general form, he thought a distinction might need to be made in some cases. Still, Mallon concluded, “authors do not have a license to paraphrase forever.” And pushed to decide, he offered this formulation as a good rule: “Constant paraphrasing without at least semi-regular attribution constitutes a form of plagiarism.”

THE MODERN LANGUAGE ASSOCIATION’S Guidelines for Documentation proves a little sterner, condemning the practice as “plagiaphrasing” and likening it to the dishonesty of plagiarism: “Plagiarism (the unacknowledged borrowing of words or ideas) is a serious violation of academic honesty. So is ‘plagiaphrasing’: rewording a quote without putting the idea in your ‘voice.’”

Mallon’s gentler definition might conceivably let off Doris Kearns Goodwin. But not Tribe, whose noteless text provides nothing resembling “semi-regular attribution.” So perhaps the MLA’s ugly coinage “plagiaphrase” is the best term to describe what Tribe and his assistants did with God Save This Honorable Court.

The historical sections of the book typically consist of a long passage from Abraham crunched down by rephrasing and the elimination of detail-as one might expect when Abraham’s 298 pages of material are made to provide the facts around which Tribe builds his own thesis in 143 pages of text. The repetition of “Taft publicly pronounced Pitney to be a ‘weak member’ of the Court to whom he could ‘not assign cases’” (Tribe, p. 83; Abraham, p. 164) is straightforward copying. But more often, the reader will find the kind of plagiaphrasing that the MLA condemns.

Such action are both lying and thievery on the intellectual level, if you ask me.

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  • Arguing with signposts… linked with But he did it
Sunday, September 26, 2004
Gracias to Los Linkers

By Steven Taylor @ 5:01 pm

Here’s a long-overdue list of blogs linking to me. They have a;; been added to the left-handed list of reciprocal links. A couple have also been added to my blogroll.

My thanks to you all:

  • 3cx.org
  • All Things Jennifer
  • Ann Althouse
  • bLogicus
  • Coldheartedtruth
  • Daly Thoughts
  • The Education Wonks
  • LostINto
  • Mental Hiccups
  • Mr. Hawaii
  • Out of Context
  • The Politicker
  • Target Centermass
  • Templar Pundit
  • The Trimblog
  • Varifrank
  • Weapons of Mass Discussion

If you want to know my link policy, go here.

If I have missed you, please let me know.

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More on Kerry, Logos and Management Style

By Steven Taylor @ 9:44 am

Last night I noted the parallels between Gore and Kerry on the question of logo design and what they may say about them as campaigners, and, ultimately, as Presidents.

In a follow-up to the post that inspired my own, Ann Althouse rightly notes:

I don’t think we should classify people into the “attention to detail” types and the “big picture” types. Any competent person must be capable of multiple levels of perception as well as good judgment about when it’s big picture time and when you have focus on the details. We ought to worry about a candidate who can’t or won’t adjust his level of attention wisely and in tune with the circumstances. It’s easy to make Kerry look foolish for “mulling” over the font for four weeks, and if he did nothing else in those weeks, he’d be frighteningly incompetent, especially if he really became lost in mental dithering. But it’s likely that he only spent a total of an hour’s time thinking about the font and also that he got some pleasure and recreation out of the project.

However, I would state that what Gore and Kerry seem to have in common, is what I would call “I am Ultimately the Smartest Guy in the Room” Syndrome (a fault not uncommon in the professoriate). The thing is, we shouldn’t want the President to be the smartest guy in the room. What, you say? Surely being the smartest is the bestest!

Well, no. For one thing, while you may want a President who is extremely good at managing, at synthesizing information, at asking questions or at making decisions, being the Smartest Man in AmericaTM really isn’t the job description.

For another, is is impossible for the President to be smartest guy in the room on all the subjects at hand. Where can we find someone who is smartest on economics, international relations, military science, the environment, and so forth. Indeed, not matter how smart one is on a given topic as President, one ought to seek out someone even smarter to provide analysis and information.

President Carter wasn’t a particularly effective president because he was too involved in all the details of every issue. That causes paralysis. And even if it doesn’t stop policy motion, it certainly complicates it.

Yes, Presidents ultimately have to make the decision, but I would argue that the model that is preferable for the presidency is the CEO model, which assumes that the President surrounds himself with the best and brightest for analysis and information and then the President takes that information and makes a decision.

If you have someone like Al Gore, who appeared to think he was an expert in all things, you risk a President who ignore advice. Kerry seems more like Carter: taking in more and more and more information, but without the ability to adequately filter what is important and what is not (something good advisers can do).

And if one wants evidence as to Kerry’s management style: just look at his campaign, its lack of focus and message and its numerous (and often dramatic) personnel changes.

Does anything think he will govern differently than he has run his campaign?

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Letterman on CBS News

By Steven Taylor @ 9:03 am

Top Ten Ways CBS News Can Improve Its Reputation.

Classic stuff, courtesy of Stephen Green.

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Saturday, September 25, 2004
More on Kerry

By Steven Taylor @ 10:14 pm

From the piece noted below here is an unsurprising, yet telling, tidit:

His habit of soliciting one more point of view prompted one close adviser to say he had learned to wait until the last minute before weighing in: Mr. Kerry, he said, is apt to be most influenced by the last person who has his ear. His aides rejoiced earlier this year when Mr. Kerry yielded his cellphone to an aide, a move they hoped would limit his seeking out contrary opinions.

Also telling, and accurate:

Unlike Mr. Bush, who was a governor and a business executive before he ran for president, Mr. Kerry - who has spent the past 20 years as a legislator, with a staff of perhaps 60 - has little experience in managing any kind of large operation. Several Democrats suggested that this presidential campaign was in many ways a learning experience for him.

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History Repeats Itself…

By Steven Taylor @ 10:03 pm

Ann Althouse notes the following from a piece on Kerry from the Sunday NYT:

His attention to detail can serve him well on big projects, as it did when he sent aides scurrying across the country to find long-lost fellow Vietnam veterans who could vouch for his war record. But sometimes, his aides say, it is a distraction, as it was in early 2003, when they say he spent four weeks mulling the design of his campaign logo, consulting associates about what font it should use and whether it should include an American flag. (It does.)

This tidbit it remarkably similar to a report on Al Gore from the June 9, 2000 issue of the NYT which contains an aneddote that has stuck in my mind for years and which was emblematic to me of what was wrong with Gore the campaigner, and that would be wrong with Gore as President:

The vice president just was not satisfied. A team of graphic artists had labored to come up with a logo to emblazon on Al Gore’s campaign buttons, bumper stickers and placards, but he felt they had failed to capture the right spirit. So he sketched an alternative, a swoosh and a star - a simple, futuristic look with the words, “Gore 2000.”

“I took several of the suggested designs and kind of recombined them and added a different approach,” Mr. Gore said. “I sat down and drew that on the table with the people who had made suggestions.”

The parallels are quite stark and quite remarkable.

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I Love it When a Plan Comes Together

By Steven Taylor @ 7:51 am

One has to be a certain age to appreciate this. But if one does appreciate it, I suspect one will appreciate a lot.

Truly hylarious.

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Oil, Gas and Jobs or 60 Horses?

By Steven Taylor @ 7:42 am

This strikes me as not that hard of a choice.

Old and Gas Hold the Reins in the Wild West

The last sanctuary of the West Douglas wild horse herd is a desolate, forbidding place, which is just how the horses like it. As many as 60 skittish sorrels and bays make their home on the steeper slopes and stony ridges north of here, abandoning the valleys to growing throngs of oil and gas men looking for places to drill.

Now, even this refuge may soon be lost. The U.S. Interior Department, which has leased 93 percent of the horses’ preserve to energy companies, recently unveiled plans for evicting the entire herd. Under the proposal, the animals will be rounded up with nets and tranquilizer darts and then hauled away for adoption. The reason cited: Wild horses are incompatible with the region’s intensive gas production.

Yes, it is more complicated than horses or oil, but, if we are going to be serious about lessening our foreign dependence on oil, and in trying to foster jobs within the borders of the United States, I have a hard time saying “don’t drill.”

And yes, the ultimate solution is alternative fuels, but let’s face reality: we aren’t there yet.

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There’s a Shock

By Steven Taylor @ 7:13 am

Hussein’s Trial Not Likely to Begin This Year, U.S. Official Says

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Romanticizing the Revolutionary

By Steven Taylor @ 7:08 am

As a Latin Americanist, and as one who has lived in the region, I am fully aware of the exalted place Che Guevara has in the minds of many. But, like Paul Berman, who discusses the cult of Che in a review of a movie about his early life in Slate, I have to ask the following:

I wonder if people who stand up to cheer a hagiography of Che Guevara, as the Sundance audience did, will ever give a damn about the oppressed people of Cuba—will ever lift a finger on behalf of the Cuban liberals and dissidents. It’s easy in the world of film to make a movie about Che, but who among that cheering audience is going to make a movie about Raúl Rivero [a Cuban poet and journalist currently serving a twenty-year prison sentence for being a poet and a journalist]?

It is noteworth that Berman is on the editorial board of Dissent Magazine.

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Friday, September 24, 2004
David Corn Gets It

By Steven Taylor @ 9:07 pm

Writing for The Nation Corn pleads:

Please shut up, Terry McAuliffe-that is, about George W. Bush and his missing-time in the Texas Air National Guard.

[…]

The matter is a sideshow. Whatever Bush did way back then, his record in the White House is more critical-particularly what he has done since September 11, 2001. Kerry is right to confront Bush directly on the war in Iraq and the misnamed war on terrorism. He has little choice. Bush has deftly and effectively defined the election not only as a referendum on the war in Iraq but a contest to determine which candidate is more decisive and better able to lead a strong and assertive attack on America’s enemy.

I think that Camp Kerry is starting to understand this as well, but since there hasn’t been any message discipline to date, I shall wait a week or so to evaluate whether the lesson has been learned or not.

Without a doubt, however, this has not been a well run campaign and even Kerry supporters can see it.

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Amusing Tales from College

By Steven Taylor @ 7:18 pm

I find the following (from TL Cat) amusing:

I began to think of words like Hate, Loathe, and Detest… So to investigate their definitions further so not to use them out of context I went to Merriam-Webster Online and found that they all fit when describing teachers who cancel class without sending out an email!

I find it amusing for reasons similar to Tiger, because in the late 1980s when I was in school, the best you got was a note on the board, and even in graduate school into the late 1990s, my profs barely used e-mail. I also find it amusing because as a professor who does use e-mail quite extensively (and yes, I do send it when I know I have to cancel, if at all possible), many of students don’t always read it. Further, most of my colleagues don’t maintain mailing lists for their classes, so couldn’t send a mass e-mail if they wanted to do so.

While I sympathize with Ms. Cat and her plight, methinks she is ahead of her time in expecting e-mails. But hey, at least she got a free hour/hour plus, and you can’t buy time!

Hat tip: OTB.

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Funds Dispersed to Colombia

By Steven Taylor @ 6:18 pm

Powell Releases Military Aid to Colombia

Secretary of State Colin Powell has concluded that Colombia has met congressional requirements for protection of human rights, thereby freeing $32.5 million in military aid funds, the State Department said Friday.

State Department deputy spokesman Adam Ereli said in a statement that Powell decided this week that the Colombian government and armed forces have met the criteria.

Powell has never found Colombia in violation of the rights requirements. Rights groups invariably have criticized Powell’s findings, contending that he has overlooked serious abuses.

[…]

The $32.5 million Powell released represents 12.5 percent of the remainder, roughly $250 million. A second evaluation is required before the rest can be obligated.

[…]

The United States has spent some $2.5 billion, most of it in military aid and training, since 2000 to help the Colombian government defeat the rebels and their right-wing paramilitary foes, who both control a large share of Colombia’s cocaine trade.

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Will He Ever Go Away?

By Steven Taylor @ 5:14 pm

Jordan is bad enough (and bad for different reasons), but this is just bad all the way ’round: Nuggets: Rodman to tryout

The Denver Post is reporting that the Nuggets are welcoming Dennis Rodman to workout in order to determine if there’s a reason to explore a contract with the former NBA rebounding champion. Earlier this week, Rodman cut a pickup game short at Denver’s facilities because of an ingrown toenail, but he is expected to return next week.

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Arnold Still Popular

By Steven Taylor @ 4:45 pm

So reports the LAT:

Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger continues to enjoy high ratings, with 66% of registered voters saying they approve of his performance in office and 61% saying he is “working hard to bring real change.” Only 27% disapprove of his performance, and 33% said he has mostly brought “business as usual.”

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The Great Tax-Cutter

By Steven Taylor @ 3:00 pm

Congress Votes to Extend Tax Cuts

The House and the Senate overwhelmingly voted last night to extend three tax cuts aimed at the middle class, along with an array of business tax breaks, sending President Bush a $146 billion tax cut that would be his fourth in four years.

Specifically:

The legislation would extend the $1,000-per-child tax credit, rather than letting it slip back to $700 next year. It would extend tax breaks for married couples that otherwise would also have to be trimmed in 2005. And it would prevent the 10 percent income-tax bracket from being applied to smaller amounts of earned income, as was the case in the past.

In terms of pure politics, this let’s Bush portray himself as the Great Tax-Cutter. Further, these cuts are largely aimed at helping middle and lower-middle class earners. So not only is it a tax cut, but it cannot be characterized as a “tax cut for the rich” (at least not correctly so).

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G-Mail Invites

By Steven Taylor @ 2:56 pm

I have four of ‘em. If'’n ya want ‘em, leave me a post with an e-mail address.

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This is Just Plain Stupid

By Steven Taylor @ 2:11 pm

Republicans Admit Mailing Campaign Literature Saying Liberals Will Ban the Bible

The Republican Party acknowledged yesterday sending mass mailings to residents of two states warning that “liberals” seek to ban the Bible. It said the mailings were part of its effort to mobilize religious voters for President Bush.

The mailings include images of the Bible labeled “banned” and of a gay marriage proposal labeled “allowed.” A mailing to Arkansas residents warns: “This will be Arkansas if you don’t vote.” A similar mailing was sent to West Virginians.

A liberal religious group, the Interfaith Alliance, circulated a copy of the Arkansas mailing to reporters yesterday to publicize it. “What they are doing is despicable,'’ said Don Parker, a spokesman for the alliance. “They are playing on people’s fears and emotions.”

In an e-mail message, Christine Iverson, a spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee, confirmed that the party had sent the mailings.

Okay, I understand the role of hyperbole in politics, but this is just plain silly and is the kind of thing that requires (indeed hopes) that voters receiving the mailing simply aren’t too bright. Not to mention that it is just fear-mongering.

Of course, both sides do it: recall Democrats claiming that tf the Republicans get their way that Grandma will be eating dog food (a claim I never understood, because pet food is more expensive than cheap people food) or the commercial that the DNC ran with the kids asking for more arsenic in their water and more e coli in their burgers.

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  • bLogicus linked with Party Scare Tactics . . . Not So Bright
The Supremes and 2000

By Steven Taylor @ 2:02 pm

Ann Althouse reminds us of a fact that the “Bush was selected, not elected” crowd likes to forget:

But it wasn’t possible for the U.S. Supreme Court to have made a decision to avoid turning the 2000 election into a legal matter. The Florida state courts had already taken hold of the controversy. The decision the U.S. Supreme Court had to make was whether to leave the outcome of the national election in the hands of one state’s judges or to take it into their own hands.

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Terror Politics

By Steven Taylor @ 1:42 pm

Kos, in commenting on a piece by Joe Conason, proffers an interesting retort to the Hastert claim that al Qaeda prefers a Kerry win:

George Bush is manna from heaven for Bin Laden. They have a symbiotic relationship, neither could survive without the other.

It is curious, because the candidate currently talking more about bin Laden is John Kerry. Indeed, nothing would guarantee a Bush victory like capturing bin Laden prior to the election, so while in that sense his existence could help Bush, but there is hardly a symbiotic relationship.

I will say the idea that Osama & Co. might see Bush as a boon is a workable thesis: he makes for a clear symbol for al Qaeda.

However, while I really do not think that al Qaeda really cares about our elections, I do think that the administration that wil pursue a more vigorous anti-terror war is one headed by Bush, and not Kerry. Kerry will return, it seems (and yes, it is hard to know listening to him, as he flits from this to that) to a Clinton era 9/10/01 mindset. Certainly it is hard to argue that Kerry will be more agressive than Bush. As such, yes, Bush is a greater threat to al Qaeda than is Kerry, and as such, Haster has a point.

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That’s Just Not Right

By Steven Taylor @ 11:16 am

Hurricane Jeanne Takes Aim at Florida

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The Ghost of Campaigns Past

By Steven Taylor @ 6:42 am

The NYT takes an extensive look at Kerry’s 1972 run for Congress, its parallels with the current run, and what lessons loss may have taught the candidate, here: John Kerry’s Journey: Echoes of a 1972 Loss Haunt a 2004 Campaign

It was the campaign that seemed to have everything. A rented mainframe computer and a sophisticated telephone voter list when typewriters and index cards were still common. A legion of eager volunteers, including a bike-riding boarding school student named Caroline Kennedy. Plenty of cash, celebrity supporters and a compelling first-time candidate: John Kerry.

But in the end, the 1972 Democratic campaign for Congress in the Fifth District of Massachusetts, stretching from the gritty old mill towns of Lawrence and Lowell to the upscale suburbs of Lexington and Concord, lacked one big thing: voters. Mr. Kerry lost to his Republican opponent in a district George McGovern carried, after a bitter battle in which his antiwar protests were attacked, his patriotism was questioned and he himself was derided as an elitist careerist. His political future seemed shattered before it began.

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  • Hennessy\’s View linked with Kerry's First Defeat: 1972
  • Hennessy\’s View linked with Kerry's First Defeat: 1972
Thursday, September 23, 2004
Just Put it in the Suggestion Box…

By Steven Taylor @ 6:56 pm

From WaPo we find the following: The Kerry Camp, Cautiously Giddy

“I can’t go anywhere where people don’t tug on my sleeve and say ‘Tell Kerry to do this,’ ‘Tell Kerry to do that,’ ” says Mark Green, the campaign co-chair in New York. “I guess it’s a sign of how much they care.”

Umm, I don’t think that caring is the issue. Try: concern.

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  • InTheBullpen.com linked with Quote of the Day
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Kerry on Allawi

By Steven Taylor @ 6:02 pm

Kerry: Allawi’s Take on Iraq Unrealistic.

What strikes me about this story is the lack of diplomacy that Kerry employs in criticizing Allawi. Isn’t the hallmark of a Kerry presidency going to be how much better we get along with the world? In this case we essentially see Kerry being willing to publically denigrate Allawi to score political points against Bush-hardly an example of high diplomacy.

Surely there was a more eloquent way to criticize Bush whilst not attacking Allawi. Indeed, it seems to me that Kerry missed an opportunity here.

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  • RIGHT ON RED >> linked with RIGHT ON! Roundup
I’ll Take “Movies I’d Never Thought in My Wildest Dreams Would Be Musicals” for $500, Alex

By Steven Taylor @ 1:43 pm

‘The Last Starfighter’, the Musical, Beams Down Into World Premiere in NYC

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  • Overtaken by Events linked with All In
Fujimori: “Extradition? No Thanks”

By Steven Taylor @ 1:27 pm

Peru Ex-President Rejects Extradition Call

Former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori on Thursday rejected his successor’s call, made at the United Nations, for world leaders to press Japan to extradite him to face corruption charges and allegations of involvement in death squad massacres, according to a statement broadcast by news media here.

[…]

President Alejandro Toledo told reporters at the U.N. General Asembly meeting Wednesday that he was appealing to “the conscience of the international community” to bring Fujimori to trial in Peru.

Fujimori again denied any wrongdoing during his authoritarian government, which collapsed when he fled to his parents’ homeland of Japan amid a corruption scandal in November 2000.

“I’m not a murderer. I’m a president who assumed his responsibility and defeated the Shining Path and the MRTA,” Fujimori said, referring to two guerrilla groups whose subversive campaigns had gone largely unchecked during the 1980s.

Tokyo has so far declined to hand over Fujimori, citing his legal protection from extradition by Japanese citizenship that was extended to him through his parents.

What a shock-a fellow who unconstitutionally disolved Congress and pretty much installed his own constitution and was clearly culpable, even if (in the best possible interpretation) only by turning a blind eye whilst President, to a series of corrupt actions, and who fled the country, doesn’t want to face trial. Hard to believe.

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Wolfe on Laura and Teresa

By Steven Taylor @ 10:29 am

Write Naomi Wolfe, The Women Driving the 2004 Presidential Campaign

Is it trivial to weigh Laura Bush%u2019s gentle, Xanax-like demeanor, her faultless librarian%u2019s poise and sincerity, against the imperious sexuality of Teresa Heinz Kerry?

Ok, I couldn’t get any further than that, where I have to ask: “imperious sexuality"?!?

Imperious? Sure, I can see that. But “sexuality"? I just don’t see it-and I don’t mean attractiveness, or my personal reaction. I just don’t get, aside from the fact that she is female, that sexuality has to be injected into the conversation. Why must post-modernist always see sexuality?

And this has nothing to do with being prudish, either. Sometimes imperious is just imperious.

Although, there is a breath of fresh air in the piece, finally an analysis that doesn’t portray Karl Rove as The Genius Of Al Geniuses (I think Karl Rove runs a good campaign, but tire of the whole Karl Rules the World Meme):

What happened? Karen Hughes. The true genius behind the Bush success is not Karl Rove; she’s a suburban working mom in sensible shoes. It was clear from the start that Team Bush realized that the old, white, male face of the Republican Party was a recipe for losing those crucial suburban women in the swing states who are socially progressive and fiscally conservative. As long as the face of Republicanism was that of Newt Gingrich, ready to talk about women soldiers getting gynecological infections in foxholes, the GOP would face a Democratic hegemony, to paraphrase Rove, for the next twenty years.

I will say, I think she is on to something here. The “subminally cuckholding” bit may be a bit over the top, but I include it because it is part of her thesis, which I have highlighted:

The charges are sticking because of Teresa Heinz Kerry. Let’s start with “Heinz.” By retaining her dead husband’s name—there is no genteel way to put this—she is publicly, subliminally cuckolding Kerry with the power of another man—a dead Republican man, at that. Add to that the fact that her first husband was (as she is herself now) vastly more wealthy than her second husband. Throw into all of this her penchant for black, a color that no woman wears in the heartland, and you have a recipe for just what Kerry is struggling with now: charges of elitism, unstable family relationships, and an unmanned candidate.

Hillary Rodham Clinton merely insisted on using “Rodham” as part of her married name; Heinz Kerry is insisting on the primacy of another man. She could, though, have spoken about what she admires in her husband; she could have spoken about her own work in terms of service, family, and community. All those are ways of being oneself while still showing deference to women voters who are not wealthy and multilingual. I am a feminist, but I still believe that a candidate’s spouse, male or female, needs to understand something that Republicans get now but Democrats still don’t: It is not about them. [Itals here, bolding mine-Ed.] If you are a president’s wife—or husband—your life and imagery do not belong just to you. For the duration, you belong to us, and you need to reflect and respect our own aspirations and dreams.

Indeed, I think this get to the heart of what was wrong with Teresa’s convetion speech-it was far too much about her, and far too little about Kerry.

And Wolfe has an interesting, and perhaps spot-on, conclusion:

Bush knows that Laura is his outreach to that swing voter in Michigan who is juggling work and family, who wants to feel that her abortion rights are secure and her kids are safe. Whenever his anti-environment, anti-choice, anti-peace, anti-working-class-women policies obtrude onto her consciousness, all he needs to do is point to Laura; his recent stump speeches promise that if you vote for him, you get four more years of her. Who stole feminism? The Republicans. How neatly has Bush Inc. redeemed in positive terms the Clintons’ ill-conceived promise, a decade ago, that we would get “two for one.”

Update: Part of today’s OTB Traffic Jam.

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Jordan Returns! Part…is it III or IV?

By Steven Taylor @ 9:33 am

According to ESPN Radio, there is a serious rumor floating that Michael Jordan (yes, that Michael Jordan) is working out and is pondering a return to the NBA (yes, again) to play with Shaq and the Heat.

I’m guessin’ it would be best for Mike to skip this comeback.

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Hey Look: Another Poll!

By Steven Taylor @ 9:26 am

NBC poll: Bush holds narrow lead

Less than six weeks before Election Day, the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll shows President Bush with a lead over Democratic challenger John Kerry — but it’s within the margin of error, and it’s much smaller than some other recent post-GOP convention polls indicate.

[…]

The poll, conducted by Hart/McInturff, shows Bush receiving support from 48 percent of registered voters, Kerry getting 45 percent, and Nader getting 2 percent. Among likely voters (defined as those expressing high interest in the November election, who represent 78 percent of the survey), Bush holds a four-point lead over Kerry, 50 percent to 46 percent.

And they also do some EC calcs:

Nevertheless, examining the national polls might not be the best way to gauge the current state of this race; what really matters is the electoral map. And according to an NBC analysis of that map, Bush has 222 electoral votes leaning his way, Kerry has 200, and 116 appear up for grabs.

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  • Interested-Participant linked with Kerry Campaign Pulls Ads
More Hy-larity

By Steven Taylor @ 9:05 am

Football Fans For Truth

Hat tip to an e-mail from a former student.

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Fun with Moveable Type

By Steven Taylor @ 8:58 am

This is truly hylarious.

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  • Winning Mark linked with Testing Dan Rather MT Trick Trackback Post
And on the Lighter Side…

By Steven Taylor @ 7:48 am

My brother sent me great news for fans of the HHG radio shows: BBC - Radio 4 - The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - The New Series.

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Reported Killing of Key Zarqawi Associate

By Steven Taylor @ 7:47 am

From yesterday as well, when I couldn’t post: Reports: Spiritual leader of Iraqi militant group is dead

The spiritual leader of a major militant group in Iraq who condoned the kidnapping and killing of hostages was killed in a U.S. airstrike, a newspaper and Islamic clerics said Wednesday.

Sheik Abu Anas al-Shami, 35, was killed when a missile hit the car he was traveling in on Friday in the west Baghdad suburb of Abu-Ghraib, said the clerics, who have close ties to the family. They spoke on condition of anonymity.

Al-Shami was a close aide to the leader of Tawhid and Jihad %u2014 the Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. The al-Qaeda-linked group is blamed for some of the biggest attacks in Iraq, such as the bombing of the U.N. headquarters last year, and the beheadings of foreign hostages. Al-Zarqawi is believed to have personally decapitated the American hostage Eugene Armstrong on Monday.

Al-Shami, a Jordanian of Palestinian descent who was also known as Omar Yousef Jumah, was believed to be the voice on several audio tapes that Tawhid and Jihad released via the Internet. In one such tape in August, a speaker identified as al-Shami said the militants planned to kill Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, soldiers and police officers.

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  • Backcountry Conservative linked with Report: Zarqawi's Mentor Killed in Air Strike
Beheading, Morbid Curiousity and Psychobabble

By Steven Taylor @ 7:45 am

(Note: I realized that I did not post the complete version of the post last night, so here it is-I have deleted the one I posted last night):

After noting the OTB traffic issue, I noticed this story on Google News: 1 million Web users click to see beheading / 50,000 an hour visit site to see U.S. captive’s slaughter

Dan Klinker operates a Web site carrying Monday’s video of a hooded man cutting off the head of U.S. contract worker Eugene “Jack” Armstrong. More than 1 million users had clicked those images into their personal computers, he said.

Six Internet servers, according to Klinker, are “barely able to handle the traffic” of 50,000 visitors per hour who are angling for a peek at the grisly death of Armstrong.

Two things strike me here: 1) like the Nick Berg video, this situation underscroes how information will get out in the internet age, and 2) there are a remarkable number of persons who wish to see this stuff.

From Berg forward, I have had no need to see the videos and have only viewed a limited number of still photos. I am sufficiently satisfied of the evil of these individuals that I don’t need to have it reinforced. However, as I wrote at the time, I do agree that the facts of these events ought to be disseminated so that we are continually aware of who the enemy is, and what they are capable of. It would seem that the beheadings of Hensely and Armstrong has sparked interest of what had almost become background events. Unfortunately I am afraid that the gory video is more the reason for the interest than the actual news itself.

On a side note, there is a serious amount of psychobabble in the piece linked above:

“Everyone wants to look. It is a universal human reaction to tragedy,'’ said Levy. “There is both relief - ‘Thank God it wasn’t me’ - and identification with the victim - ‘What must it have been like?’ ‘’

Similar emotions may lie behind the phenomenal box office success of Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ,” which depicted in excruciating detail the torture and execution of Jesus. The film reportedly has grossed more than $600 million worldwide, and 4.1 million copies of the DVD were sold on the first day it was released.

In the movie world, the relentless technological improvements in special effects have made the violence depicted on screen ever more realistic, and more believable. But there is a fundamental difference between the movie magic that made Arnold Schwarzenegger a multimillionaire, and the crude sadism of Armstrong’s killing.

“Schwarzenegger’s films are so popular,” Levy said, “because they are realistic and believable-but are only a game.”

Somehow I think that the success of the Passion is somewhat different from the reason people look at the beheading videos. And there is yet another reason why Schwarzenegger films are popular. No doubt there is a small segment of the audience for each of the three that overlaps, but my guess is that the overlap is far smaller than Levy suggests.

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  • Outside The Beltway linked with Beheading Videos Top Sellers in Iraq
Wednesday, September 22, 2004
Back in Business (I Hope)

By Steven Taylor @ 9:11 pm

Weird goings-ons with Hosting Matters today, as noted below. For while the site was down, then I could get on, but couldn’t post, and then areound 4:45 I was getting a MySQL error and nothing would come up. I had to head out to church, so wasn’t able to mess with anything, and was pleased to find the blog still standing at 9:00pm tonight.

Given that my traffic has been quite normal, I am assuming that I was caught up in the OTB problems.

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Overtaxing the Servers

By Steven Taylor @ 2:11 pm

As Paul noted earlier, PoliBlog was down for a bit earlier today.

Now it appears that it was all OTB’s fault. Although, I am with James: I don’t quite get what caused the problem-the initial Berg beheading traffic was bigger than this-I think I had 20,000 hits that day by myself.

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  • Outside The Beltway linked with Site Woes
Today on “As the Memo Turns”

By Steven Taylor @ 12:45 pm

CBS appoints two-person panel to investigate its National Guard story

CBS News appointed former U.S. Attorney General Dick Thornburgh and former Associated Press chief executive Louis Boccardi to investigate what went wrong with its story on President Bush’s service in the National Guard.

Thornburgh is a former two-term governor of Pennsylvania and served as attorney general in the administrations of Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.

Boccardi retired last year as president and chief executive officer for The Associated Press. He served on the panel that probed operations at The New York Times following the Jayson Blair scandal.

Stephen Bainbridge notes an interesting twist to the whole affair.

Ya gotta love politics: a story that involves Dan Rather, Dick Thornburgh, and Karl Rove with a cameo appearance by Ken Starr.

And this is added to the fact that you have this colorful tale of how Burkett got the docs:

It was at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo in February that retired National Guard Lt. Col. Bill Burkett says he got the documents that could affect a presidential election and Dan Rather’s career.

Burkett took the National Guard records that purported to shed negative light on President Bush’s military career from the rodeo to a West Texas cold storage locker where, Burkett’s lawyer David Van Os says, they remained until CBS “sweet-talked” his client out of them.

You just can’t make this stuff up…

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More Polling

By Steven Taylor @ 10:09 am

Zogby Poll: Dead Heat.

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The Money Game

By Steven Taylor @ 9:14 am

Convention Timing Gives Bush Money Edge

Kerry spent $10 million last month, starting September with $62 million just as Bush was about to get his $75 million from the Federal Election Commission. Kerry’s August spending compares with $36 million in July when he could still use private contributions to cover campaign costs.

The DNC started this month with $56 million in the bank after spending roughly $55 million in August, much of it on TV and radio ads supporting Kerry and opposing Bush.

The Republican National Committee spent about $20 million in August, starting September with nearly $94 million on hand. The party nominated Bush on Sept. 2, putting an end to his private campaign fund raising just over a month after Kerry’s nomination put an end to his.

Both parties are aggressively raising money to spend in the presidential race. In addition to the unlimited amounts they can spend independent of their nominees, each can spend roughly $16 million in coordination with them.

Some observations:

1) Considering the amount of private funds available, I continue to object to the concept of about $200 million of public funds going into this process.

2) The problematic nature of the campaign finance system established by FECA is underscored by the disadvantage given Kerry for having an earlier convention. On the one hand, as argued at the time, those are the rules, so one has to live by them. On the other, it would be highly preferable simply to allow the candidates to raise funds through private donations throughout the entire campaign and dispense with the farce that we are controlling money and influence through this process.

3) The very fact that the parties are able to raise and spend more money than the candidates get in their grants (not to mention 527s and such) should put to rest the idea that money is being controlled by these laws.

On the solely political front:

a) It would appear that the Swift Boat Vets did damage in August, if anything by forcing Kerry to spend so much when he didn’t want to do so.

b) Bush is clearly in a far better position financially at this point, and one expects that the campaign will deftly use those funds. Meanwhile, the chaos at the Kerry camp calls into question how wisely they will manage their own monies. I will say, however, that the Kerry campaign has done a smart job of creating very specific commercials for the battleground states.

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Kerry Struggling with the Female Vote?

By Steven Taylor @ 6:40 am

Kerry in a Struggle for a Democratic Base: Women

In the last few weeks, Kerry campaign officials have been nervously eyeing polls that show an erosion of the senator’s support among women, one of the Democratic Party’s most reliable constituencies. In a New York Times/CBS News poll conducted last week, women who are registered to vote were more likely to say they would vote for Mr. Bush than for Mr. Kerry, with 48 percent favoring Mr. Bush and 43 percent favoring Mr. Kerry.

In 2000, 54 percent of women voted for Al Gore, the Democratic nominee, while 43 percent voted for Mr. Bush.

Democratic and Republican pollsters say the reason for the change this year is that an issue Mr. Bush had initially pitched as part of an overall message - which candidate would be best able to protect the United States from terrorists - has become particularly compelling for women. Several said that a confluence of two events - a Republican convention that was loaded with provocative scenes of the Sept. 11 tragedy, and a terrorist attack on children in Russia - had helped recast the electoral dynamic among this critical group in a way that created a new challenge for the Kerry camp.

On the one hand, given that I am not wholly confident in some of these numbers, it may be that this gap isn’t what it appears to be. On the other hand, this isn’t entirely unexpected and gets to what Time called “Security Moms” back during the 2002 elections.

I think that clearly there is going to be a segment of the electorate that might otherwise be predisposed to vote Democratic on domestic policy who will vote Republican on the predicate that their domestic policy preferences are moot if Kerry isn’t the right guy to fight terrorism.

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  • Outside The Beltway linked with NBC/WSJ: Bush Leads Among Women
Tuesday, September 21, 2004
Blogs Make the CSM

By Steven Taylor @ 9:52 pm

Blogs look burly after kicking sand on CBS.

One thing’s for sure: the Rather business has resulted in a whooole lot more people out their knowing what blogs and bloggers are.

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Bush up by 4 in the Battleground Poll

By Steven Taylor @ 9:48 pm

Poll gives Bush the edge with six weeks to go

Among likely voters, 49 per cent would pick Mr Bush and 45 per cent Mr Kerry, according to the George Washington University Battleground 2004 Poll conducted from September 12-16 and released on Tuesday. Mr Bush enjoyed an advantage after the Republican national convention earlier this month but Mr Kerry suffered a five-point drop in his favourability rating from the previous month to 49 per cent. Over the same period, Mr Bush’s favourability rose from 51 per cent to 53 per cent.

“While the overall numbers still indicate a very intense, close race, the underlying data would indicate that George W. Bush has gained a strategic advantage,” said Ed Goeas, a Republican pollster who helped conduct the study.

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The Return of Comment Spam

By Steven Taylor @ 8:21 pm

It appears my WordPress honeymoon is over: comment spam attacks have returned in spades today. Thankfully they aren’t the especially vile porn stuff I was getting before I switched from MT, but there has been a lot of it today for poker and pills of various types. The weird thing is that I am not getting e-mail notifications (anybody have any idea how that could be the case?). I am finding them by editing my comments from within WP.

Most annoying.

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Note on Reciprocal Links

By Steven Taylor @ 10:19 am

First off, I owe a number of sites reciprocal links-some I have owed for a loooong time. To you all, I apologize (and I do have a list).

Second, (as I have received a number of requests)-my link policy is simple: if you link to me, and let me know about it (or if I find it myself), I will give you a reciprocal link. I reserve the right not to link based on content, however (and by that I mean I will not link to porn sites, neo-Nazi sites, etc.-but otherwise I will link just about anybody-large or small, political or not, liberal or conservative, whatever).

The reciprocal links go in the left-hand sidebar (just scroll down to see the list). I will also post a message to the blog highlighting all new links. My Blogroll is reserved for blogs I actually read on at least a semi-regular basis and which also ping blogrolling, so that I know that they have been updated. Getting a link there is at my discretion.

If you have linked me and I have not yet linked you and want to send me an e-mail reminder, send an e-mail to toast @ poliblogger.com and I will endeavor to get the listed updated by the end of this weekend.

And note: do not send me “you want to swap links?” notes-there is no need, just link me and let me know, and I will link you. That’s the process.

Thanks.

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The Fundament of Kerry’s Iraq Problem

By Steven Taylor @ 9:36 am

I am of the opinion that Kerry has no core beliefs on the issue of Iraq and is simply looking for a message that will garner votes. Certainly, if he has a core position on the subject, he hasn’t shared it with the voters (and no, it isn’t a quesiton of his much ballyhooed “nuance"-there is geniune contradiction in his public statements and actions over the past two years). As such, I don’t think that voters can make any assessment on what Kerry will do once in office based on anything he is saying on the stump-which is the kind of problem a candidate generates when the main reason that they want to be president is that they want to be president (call it Bob Dole Syndrome). Now, one can, if one is familiar with the persons he is likely to appoint to relevant positions, make assumptions about the shape of his foreign policy-but that has very little to do with how he is conducting his campaign, or the way in which most undecided voters will make their selection. Indeed, most (although not all) voters who are undecided at this point are likely largely non-political types who are highly unlikely to know who Richard Holbrooke is, for example.

However, in terms of making appeals to voters, he has made a series of strategic errors and his only hope is that a sufficiently large number of people haven’t been paying attention so that his past statements don’t resonate. Of course, one can count on the fact that Bush campaign and their supporters will do their best to remind voters of the inconsistencies in question.

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  • Peaktalk linked with KERRY'S STRUGGLE
The Scotty Rule of Campaign Finance Reform

By Steven Taylor @ 7:35 am

I have quoted this before in this context (see the prior post), but think about it every time the process gets more complex, while all the while failing to really do what the laws are allegedly supposed to be doing-I hereby dub it the Scotty Rule of Campaign Finance Reform:

The more they overthink the plumbing, the easier it is to stop up the drain.

-Star Trek III: The Search for Spock

Let’s face facts: complex systems are harder to control and to understand-and there is no doubt that the more campaign finance rules they make, the more difficult the process gets to understand, the less that the general public (or, for that matter, the candidates themselves) really knows what is going on, and therefore the less transparent the system gets.

In simple terms: one can often measure the failure of a policy by the number of lawyers that policy causes to be employed-and there is no doubt that BCRA has caused the need for even more lawyers specializing in arcane campaign finance laws and rules-and that can’t be a good thing.

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  • Outside The Beltway linked with Beltway Traffic Jam
McCain-Feingold Strikes Again

By Steven Taylor @ 5:50 am

Confusion continues to arise over the application of McCain-Feingold (aka, BCRA). Despite misguided ideals about “taking the money out of politics” and such, all this law has done is create a morass of incomprehensible rules that neither take money out of politics nor improve the quality of communication during the campaign process.

The latest example: U.S. Judge Orders Election Agency to Tighten Rules. This ruling has now created a great deal of confusion going forward in this campaign cycle:

The decision affects 15 highly technical regulations governing campaign activity that, though not widely known outside the world of political operatives, serve as important guideposts for how to finance campaigns legally.

[…]

In the wake of the judge’s ruling, many experts in campaign finance are now asking which set of rules apply to candidates and others now campaigning. Some argue that the regulations passed by the commission should remain intact, at least for this year’s race and until new ones are created.

They note that the judge’s ruling did not expressly prevent the commission from enforcing these regulations, even as it asked the commission to recast them.

“The alternative is that there are no regulations, and that can’t be the right answer,” said Ellen Weintraub, a Democrat who is the commission’s vice chairwoman. “That would leave us in chaos. The worst possible result is chaos six weeks before an election.”

Mr. Toner, the Republican commissioner, said that “if history is any guide, when the law is uncertain, there is more potential for people to push the envelope.”

So, we have a law that creates the need for highly complex rules-which typically means a greater capacity to find loopholes-all for a what should be a simple First Amendment right: the ability to speak about politics in public.

Further, if anyone believes that once a new set of rules is put in place by the FEC that everything will be “fixed” then I have some ocean front property in Arizona I’d like to sell you,

As this process continues I remained baffled than anyone thinks that any attempt to regualte campaign speech will be successful. Even if one thinks that there are ills in the system, it seems clear that the “cure” simply makes them worse.

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Monday, September 20, 2004
I Remain Unconvinced This Will Work: The New Kerry Take on Iraq

By Steven Taylor @ 6:33 pm

This is a wholly legitimate position (although I disagree with it), but he is coming to it at far too late a date: Kerry Says He Wouldn’t Have Ousted Saddam

Staking out new ground on Iraq, Sen. John Kerry said Monday he would not have overthrown Saddam Hussein had he been in the White House, and he accused President Bush of “stubborn incompetence,” dishonesty and colossal failures of judgment.

[…]

“Saddam Hussein was a brutal dictator who deserves his own special place in hell,” he added. “But that was not, in itself, a reason to go to war. The satisfaction we take in his downfall does not hide this fact: We have traded a dictator for a chaos that has left America less secure.”

This is problematic for Kerry, because he said, in December of 2003:

“Those who doubted whether Iraq or the world would be better off without Saddam Hussein,” he said, “and those who believe today that we are not safer with his capture, don’t have the judgment to be president or the credibility to be elected president.”
Source: NYT, December 17, 2003, Section A; Column 1; National Desk; Pg. 37. As per the story, this was a response to Dean:
Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts attacked Howard Dean on Tuesday as inexperienced, inconsistent and weak on foreign policy, and maintained that Dr. Dean lacked both “the judgment to be president” and “the credibility to be elected president” for asserting that America was no safer because of Saddam Hussein’s capture.

If Kerry had been running on the position he is offering today, he might have a chance at denting Bush on this topic. As it stands he has simply given the GOP another sound bit for a commerical. If one takes the statement today and the one from the Drake University speech from December 16, 2003, one has yet another example of Kerry being all over the map on Iraq.

Further, by today declaring that he wouldn’t have ousted Saddam, he is at least semi-contradicting the following statement he made on August 9, 2004:

“Yes, I would have voted for the authority [to use force]. I believe it was the right authority for a president to have.”

While I fully understand that there is a legitimate arugment that one could vote for force, but think it unwise to use it, in Kerry’s case he has tied such pretzels for himself in terms of his Iraq logic that I am not sure he can make the case he needs to make to reconcile all of these statements.

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CBS Admits Mistakes (Kinda)

By Steven Taylor @ 11:58 am

While the CBS site still states CBS Plans New Memos Statement, Drudge has the following (and since he had the right one last time, I am assuming this is the right one now-the DMN has a full story here)”

Last week, amid increasing questions about the authenticity of documents used in support of a 60 MINUTES WEDNESDAY story about President Bush’s time in the Texas Air National Guard, CBS News vowed to re-examine the documents in question—and their source—vigorously. And we promised that we would let the American public know what this examination turned up, whatever the outcome.

Now, after extensive additional interviews, I no longer have the confidence in these documents that would allow us to continue vouching for them journalistically. I find we have been misled on the key question of how our source for the documents came into possession of these papers. That, combined with some of the questions that have been raised in public and in the press, leads me to a point where—if I knew then what I know now—I would not have gone ahead with the story as it was aired, and I certainly would not have used the documents in question.

But we did use the documents. We made a mistake in judgment, and for that I am sorry. It was an error that was made, however, in good faith and in the spirit of trying to carry on a CBS News tradition of investigative reporting without fear or favoritism.

Please know that nothing is more important to us than people’s trust in our ability and our commitment to report fairly and truthfully.

First off, I love “after extensive additional interviews, I no longer have the confidence in these documents that would allow us to continue vouching for them journalistically"-how pathetic an admission is that? They can’t even come out and say that the documents are fake, as the rest of the world has concluded. No, now they are saying that they just there are sufficient doubts not to use the docs, not that the documents are forgeries.

And claiming that they were “misled” is too much of an absolving statement. The honest to gosh truth is that they were sloppy and did not engage in due dilligence with their research-it is that simple.

This statement is a step in the right direction, but really is inadequate.

And for those who say “why spend so much time on this non-story” I say that it isn’t a non-story. In the context of Jayson Blair and Kelly at USAT and a host of other examples of MSM malfeasance, the story of a major news department being this easily duped is a big deal. Further, it is made doubly important by the fact that the story was of potential importance to the presidential race.

This kind of error further erodes public confidence in the MSM and allows even more doubt to creep into the minds of partisans predisposed to doubt negative reports about their candidates/positions.

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  • InTheBullpen.com linked with CBS Issues Statement
  • The Moderate Voice linked with CBS
  • Arguing with signposts… linked with The jury is in ... (developing)
  • In Search of Utopia linked with Rather Eats Crow - Blogsphere Celebrates
  • Rant Fever linked with Rather Down For the Count
But is it Too Little, Too Late?

By Steven Taylor @ 6:43 am

The Democratic Running Mate: Taking the Offensive, Edwards Says a Kerry Administration Would ‘Crush’ Al Qaeda

Opening a weeklong Democratic offensive on Iraq and terror, Senator John Edwards promised Sunday that a Kerry White House would eliminate what he called a “backdoor draft'’ of Reservists and National Guard members and would “crush'’ Al Qaeda.

On a day when he alone among the presidential and vice-presidential candidates campaigned, Mr. Edwards, the Democratic vice-presidential nominee, added fresh elements to his standard remarks on war and terror, two subjects that polls suggest rank at the top of voter concerns.

First off, while I do believe that the current method of use of the Guard/Reservists needs serious reform (a problem that started back in the Clinton administration and the post Cold War draw down of standing troops), but I ask: how? And even if there is a plan, it will take a while.

Second, how will they crush al Qaeda? I am unconvinced that they have done anything to convince voters of their strength on this issue.

Of course, at least they are starting to talk about it, something I have noted as necessary for weeks. The question is: will it be in time? Or will they be perceived as all over the map and simply responding to polls, rather than speaking from conviction?

The strategy:

Mr. McAuliffe, in a conference call with reporters on Sunday, said that Mr. Kerry would deliver a major speech on Iraq on Monday and would criticize President Bush’s handing of the war in a new advertisement, and that party officials would hold a news conference with mothers of soldiers stationed in Iraq.

A senior Kerry adviser said the speech would address “what needs to be done” but would not present a point-by-point exit plan.

1) If Kerry had clear ideas along these lines, why hasn’t he been doing this all along? Starting from almost zero to build a coherent attack on the President’s Iraq policy should have started back late last year, not less than two months before the election. And 2), if he isn’t going to offer specifics, isn’t this just really more of the same from Camp Kerry?

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Better Late Than Never: CBS Poised to Admit the Obvious

By Steven Taylor @ 6:27 am

So reports the NYT: The News Media: CBS News Concludes It Was Misled on National Guard Memos, Network Officials Say

After days of expressing confidence about the documents used in a “60 Minutes'’ report that raised new questions about President Bush’s National Guard service, CBS News officials have grave doubts about the authenticity of the material, network officials said last night.

The officials, who asked not to be identified, said CBS News would most likely make an announcement as early as today that it had been deceived about the documents’ origins. CBS News has already begun intensive reporting on where they came from, and people at the network said it was now possible that officials would open an internal inquiry into how it moved forward with the report. Officials say they are now beginning to believe the report was too flawed to have gone on the air.

Hat tip: bLogicus who kindly informed me of the story via e-mail. He also has links to related stories, including one in the LAT

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  • bLogicus linked with CBS Close to an Admission (of being misled)
Sunday, September 19, 2004
More Beheadings

By Steven Taylor @ 1:20 pm

Video Shows Beheading of 3 Iraq Hostages

A videotape posted by on a Web site Saturday showed the beheading of three hostages said to be members of an Iraqi Kurdish party, slain for cooperating with American forces, according to their Islamic militant captors.

A statement with the video was signed by the Ansar al-Sunna Army, which in August released footage showing 12 Nepalese hostages being killed.

The statement identified the hostages as three truck drivers who belong to the Kurdistan Democratic Party, captured in a roadblock near Taji, 15 miles north of Baghdad, as they were transporting military vehicles to an American base in Taji.

And the barbarism continues…

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Staudt Speaks

By Steven Taylor @ 8:19 am

Yet another hole in the CBS memo story: Guard Officer Denies Seeking Help for Bush

Retired Col. Walter Staudt, who was brigadier general of Bush’s unit in Texas, interviewed Bush for the Guard position and retired in March 1972. He was mentioned in one of the memos allegedly written by Lt. Col. Jerry Killian as having pressured Killian to assist Bush, though Bush supposedly was not meeting Guard standards.

“I never pressured anybody about George Bush because I had no reason to,” Staudt told ABC News in his first interview since the documents were made public.

The memo stated that “Staudt is pushing to sugar coat” a review of Bush’s performance.

Staudt said he decided to come forward because he saw erroneous reports on television. CBS News first reported on the memos, which have come under scrutiny by document experts who question whether they are authentic. Killian, the purported author of the documents, died in 1984.

Staudt insisted Bush did not use connections to avoid being sent to Vietnam.

“He didn’t use political influence to get into the Air National Guard,” Staudt said, adding, “I don’t know how they would know that, because I was the one who did it and I was the one who was there and I didn’t talk to any of them.”

[…]

He added that Bush more than met the requirements for pilot training. “He presented himself well. I’d say he was in the upper 10 percent or 5 percent or whatever we ever talked to about going to pilot training. We were pretty particular because when he came back [from training], we had to fly with him.”

Now, one can grant that Staudt could be covering up for his own reputation, but one ould also argue that it would have behooved CBS to have interviewed Staudt before going to air with their docs.

Thanks to reader Don Hagen for alerting me to the story via e-mail.

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Letdown

By Steven Taylor @ 7:53 am

After beating two teams that were supposed to beat them, the Troy Trojans went west and lost to a team it was supposed to beat: New Mexico St. 22, Troy University 18.

And now: South Carolina.

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LAT’s Media Critic Comes Down Hard on Rather

By Steven Taylor @ 7:39 am

Rather went on faith, not facts

No reputable document examiner will authenticate anything from a photocopy-they simply are too easily manipulated. This is not complicated. Rather and Mapes, therefore, are in the position of having broadcast a report based on documents whose authenticity they cannot establish. It doesn’t matter whether the contents are genuine or not, because nobody-not even “60 Minutes"-can prove it from photocopies. You do not report what you cannot prove. This, too, is not complicated.

None of this kept Rather from repeatedly going on the air and defending the memoranda’s authenticity. One might have thought that his defense reached a low point when he aired an interview with Killian’s 86-year-old former secretary in which she said she did not believe the documents were authentic but that they did accurately reflect what was happening with Bush at the time.

Truth through forgery-now there’s a novel concept.

Rather, meanwhile, told the New York Times on Thursday, “This story is true. I believe in the authenticity of the documents.”

And there you have it: faith-based reporting.

Indeed and indeed.

Hat tip: Joe Gandleman blogging at Dean’s World.

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Saturday, September 18, 2004
When the Scoop Trumps the Truth

By Steven Taylor @ 9:55 pm

WaPo looks into the sloppy operation at CBS that led to RatherGate": In Rush to Air, CBS Quashed Memo Worries

Half an hour later, Roberts called “60 Minutes” producer Mary Mapes with word that Bartlett was not challenging the authenticity of the documents. Mapes told her bosses, who were so relieved that they cut from Rather’s story an interview with a handwriting expert who had examined the memos.

At that point, said “60 Minutes” executive Josh Howard, “we completely abandoned the process of authenticating the documents. Obviously, looking back on it, that was a mistake. We stopped questioning ourselves. I suppose you could say we let our guard down.”

CBS aired the story eight hours later, triggering an onslaught of criticism that has left Rather and top network officials struggling to explain why they relied on a handful of papers that even some of Rather’s colleagues now believe to be fake.

An examination of the process that led to the broadcast, based on interviews with the participants and more than 20 independent analysts, shows that CBS rushed the story onto the air while ignoring the advice of its own outside experts, and used as corroborating witnesses people who had no firsthand knowledge of the documents. As CBS pushed to finish its report, it was Bartlett who contacted the network - rather than the other way around - at 5:30 the evening before to ask whether the White House could respond to the widely rumored story.

Later, Bartlett would explain why he did not challenge the documents with a question: “How am I supposed to verify something that came from a dead man in three hours?”

How about: not going to air with information that was that fresh that clearly would need authentication? That is just sloppy work.

And this is self-delusional and patently false, at least in this case:

Rather also dismissed the notion that CBS was negligent: “I’m confident we worked longer, dug deeper and worked harder than almost anybody in American journalism does.”

They clearly didn’t work too hard, given that a bunch of observant bloggers figured out the situation without that much work.

Indeed, the WaPo piece provides a stunning tale of tv producers so gung-ho to get a hot story in front of the cameras that they ingored any negative word (and there were plenty) from four different experts.

Indeed, as we already know, the only “experts” that would say positive things about the memos had dubious credentials:

It quickly became clear that the people CBS hired to authenticate the documents had - and claimed - only limited expertise in the sometimes arcane science of computer typesetting technology and fonts. Such expertise is needed to determine whether the records could have been created in 1972 and 1973. Independent experts contacted by The Post were surprised that CBS hired analysts who were not certified by the American Board of Forensic Document Examiners, considered the gold standard in the field.

These software experts say differences in font widths and printing styles make it impossible to replicate the CBS documents using the printing technology available in the early 1970s. By contrast, reasonably competent computer enthusiasts have created nearly exact replicas of the documents in 15 minutes employing default settings for Microsoft Word and the widely used Times New Roman font.

While Glennon continues to insist that the documents could theoretically have been printed on a Vietnam War-era IBM Selectric, no one has been able to demonstrate this . Leading font developers say the technology simply did not exist 30 years ago.

One telltale sign in the CBS documents is the overlapping character combinations, such as “fr” or “fe,” said Joseph M. Newcomer, an adjunct professor with Carnegie Mellon University. Blown-up portions of the CBS documents show that the top of the “f” overlaps the beginning of the next letter, a feat that was not possible even on the most sophisticated typewriters available in 1972. Newcomer calls the documents “a modern forgery.”

Tests run by Thomas Phinney, fonts program manager for Adobe Systems, show that none of the possible font widths available on any typewriter or any IBM device from 1972 are able to produce an exact replica of the CBS documents. “Can they do something ’similar’? Sure,” Phinney said. “Could they produce those exact memos? Impossible.”

And CBS is missing the point:

As the days begin to blur for Josh Howard, he embraces the same logic: “So much of this debate has focused on the documents, and no one has really challenged the story. It’s been frustrating to us to see all this reduced to a debate over little ‘th’s.”

No, that isn’t all that the debate is about. First, the only damning “new” information in those alleged memos is the idea that Bush received a direct order to take a physical and that he ignored it-but if the docs are fake, then that “new” information isn’t new, it is a hoax at best and a deliberate lie at worst. Second, regardless of whether the docs approximate the truth or not, for a major news organization to use forged documents as a basis for a news story is crime against journalistic integrity and a rather major story in its own right.

And if there are no new documents, there is no story. To pretent otherwise is to be grapsing at partisan hopes, and nothing more.

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  • bLogicus linked with DNC Had Forged Memos Before CBS?
A Sign of Desperation?

By Steven Taylor @ 9:34 pm

Halliburton Is a Handy Target for Democrats.

One has to wonder if this is a sign that attacks on the President and his record aren’t sticking. It strikes me as a move that will excite some of the base (who are already plenty excited-at least the angry segment) but is unlikley to do any serious damage.

For one thing, in generic terms, Democrats always attack Republicans for being pawns of corporate America, making this a somewhat old hat attack. Second, since Halliburton and Cheney have become almost a parody (i.e., like Cheney’s “undisclosed location") one wonders how seriously the public will take this stuuf (or, at a minimum, see it as new). And further, this is really an attack on Cheney more than Bush, and people don’t vote for veep.

It really does seem as if the Kerry campaign cooks up something new to try every couple of days as if they are trying to figure out something that works. It is a sure sign of a campaign that lacks clear direction.

I am beginning to think that there is something to the polls which show a large gap in favor of the President-there is no way Kerry can get elected in the current secturity climate if he is perceived as having no real clear vision of where to lead the country-and his campaign is showing all the signs of such a lack of vision.

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Florida Supremes: Ralph Must Stay

By Steven Taylor @ 4:19 pm

Florida Supreme Court puts Nader on state ballot

The Florida Supreme Court has ruled that third-party presidential hopeful Ralph Nader can appear on ballots in the decisive state, increasing the chance the maverick contender will again influence the outcome of the presidential election.

And I’m sorry, but this is unseemly at best, and undemocratic at worst:

The Democratic Party, which is suing to remove Nader from the ballot in several key states, said it would not appeal the decision.

And understand: I think that Nader running is, to be frank, silly. Further, from his ideological point of view he would be smarter to support Kerry than to run against him.

The story is also notes that Nader has won the right to be on the Colorado ballot.

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Juvenile Sign Politics

By Steven Taylor @ 3:53 pm

On the one hand, I seriously question using one’s children as part of a stunt. On the other, what are a bunch of adults doing tearing signs ou of the hands of a three-year-old, I mean, gee whiz.

Sign Fracas at Edwards Rally Spurs Sniping

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What are Kerry’s Handlers Thinking?

By Steven Taylor @ 3:38 pm

It ain’t Dukakis in the tank, but they keep letting him be photographed in goofy-looking positions. To wit:


Source:
Reuters.

The caption reads, in part:

Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry heads a soccer ball with young players from the Denver Power Soccer Academy team, who greeted him on the tarmac during a campaign stop in Denver, Colorado September 17, 2004.

And here’s a bonus blast from the past. And there’s this one, but it was actually planned.

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Ivan-Related Tragedy

By Steven Taylor @ 12:47 pm

Three unncessary deaths in Montgomery: Arts philanthropist dies

Carbon monoxide from a gas-powered generator may have claimed the lives of three women, including Montgomery philanthropist Ida Belle Young.

On Friday morning, a groundskeeper found Young, 85, a rancher and philanthropist, in the house, located at 4625 Vaughn Road near East Boulevard. The groundskeeper also found Edwina Capleton, 67, of 616 Upchurch Circle and Eva Traywick of 406 Dynasty Drive, Pike Road.

Capleton was Young’s maid and Traywick was her nurse, police said.

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The Wrath of Ivan

By Steven Taylor @ 12:34 pm

Ironically, most of you all have probably already seen these images, but I have been quite news-starved the last two days. But clearly, being without power was the least of the effects of Ivan:


Part of I-10


Was a condo


That’s sand-amazing.


Condos in Pensacola

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  • Arguing with signposts… linked with Ivan's long-term impact
Regular Blogging to Resume Shortly

By Steven Taylor @ 7:55 am

Off to soccer games now…

I will get caught up on the news and such later.

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I Spoke Too Soon…

By Steven Taylor @ 7:13 am

Yes, the power ame back around 3pm yesterday, and then promptly vanished again until about 1:15am this morning, so we were just shy of 40 hours sans electricity.

What was particularly galling yesterday, was that after 3pm yesterday almost all of my neighborhood had power, and just a few rows of houes were without, so we could see nicely lit, air conditioned homes out of the back window.

Still, in the grand scheme of things, it was a minor trial-yet, I will confess to it being rather annoying (especiallytrying to corral three small boys during the process).

(Playing catch-up, this post is in yesterday’s Beltway Traffic Jam).

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Friday, September 17, 2004
Power to People!

By Steven Taylor @ 3:00 pm

Well, to my part of town, at least.

The power came back up a few minutes before 3pm central.

Ah, back in the 21st Century!

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  • Outside The Beltway linked with Beltway Traffic Jam
Status Update

By Steven Taylor @ 10:48 am

Well, not very long after my last post, the power went out, and stayed out (and is still out). I am out and about getting a much-needed cup of coffee at Panera Bread, who, thankfully, has both power and free WiFi.

We escaped with no damge, although my backyard is full of sticks and small branches (the remnants of Frances had already managed to take the large dead branches out of my trees). A pine tree in one of my neighbor’s yard behind me snapped and feel on their fence, however. A few blocks away, one street in my neigborhood wasn’t so lucky, it seems they received an extra-special burst of wind, and there were numerous large trees down, inlcuding one on a house (that not only damaged the roof, but busted some of their bricks off the side of the house) and another was on some power lines.

In limited driving around the eastern side of town there is a lot of debris from trees and a number of trees (large and small) down. The west-side of town got the worst of it, it seems, also north of Montgomery, such as the motel in Prattville which had a roof collapse and the walls buckle.

As of yesterday afternoon there were approximately 2,000,000 persons in the state without power and 83% of the Montgomery area was part of that number. Given that there is power less than 5 miles from my house, one can only hope that they will restore it soon. Call me a Twenty-First Century wimp, but I like coffee, TiVo, a/c, and the internet, to name a few. At least we have a gas-powered hot water heater.

I will say that I have no desire to live in the Ninenteenth Century.

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Thursday, September 16, 2004
Rather Colored Glasses

By Steven Taylor @ 9:40 am

Writes WaPo: Rather Concedes Papers Are Suspect. Of course, it depends on what the word “concedes” means-based on the 60 Minutes II story last night, Rather’s position is akin to “conceding” there might be life on Titan and he would love to report on the story if evidence can be produced:

“If the documents are not what we were led to believe, I’d like to break that story,” Rather said in an interview last night. “Any time I’m wrong, I want to be right out front and say, ‘Folks, this is what went wrong and how it went wrong.’ “

Given that Fox, MSNBC, the LAT and WaPo at a minimum have largely decalred the docs fake, and every other news source I have read/seen have expressed severe doubts just shy of saying that they are forgeries, I am baffled by Rather’s position.

And I love the subtitle of the WaPo story:

CBS Anchor Urges Media to Focus On Bush Service

No doubt: as oppossed to looking into the authenticity of the documents and as to their source-not to mention how Rather and CBS news allowed themselves to be duped.

And I hate to tell Dan, but this simply isn’t the case:

“This is not about me,” Rather said before anchoring last night’s newscast. “I recognize that those who didn’t want the information out and tried to discredit the story are trying to make it about me, and I accept that.”

If the story is that Bush probably got special treatment, I don’t think that that is huge news. The only thing Rather can hang his hat on as new is that one of the memos purports to have evidence of Bush defying a direct order (and this is why he is clinging to the docs with a death grip), but as I noted yesterday, the memo and the information in it, appear not to conform to known ANG protocol. And since it is demonstrably obvious that the document is a fake, Rather is making himself the story by acting as if they are real.

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  • Right On Red linked with RIGHT ON! Roundup
No Longer Waiting

By Steven Taylor @ 9:06 am

Ivan has arrived, indeed, has been here for quite a while. Remarkably, we still have power, cable and internet-which appears not to be the case for much of the Montgomery area, judging from listening to folks call in on local radio and identifying parts of town sans electricity.

Plenty of water in the yard, to be sure, but nothing threatening at the moment, and the wind is quite gusty.

At this point the weather looks worse on the west side of Montgomery, as the eye is looking to pass between Montgomery and Selma. Auburn is having some severe weather at the moment, including a tornado reported on the ground.

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  • Outside The Beltway linked with Bama Hurricane Report
Wednesday, September 15, 2004
Tracking Down the Docs

By Steven Taylor @ 9:48 pm

The path leads, it would seem, to Abilene.

Update: James Joyner and Blogs of War have much more. As does Slant Point.

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  • Blogs of War linked with a pingback
  • Backcountry Conservative linked with Report: CBS Docs Traced to Kinko's
  • Outside The Beltway linked with CBS Guard Documents Traced to Texas Kinko's
  • Slant Point linked with Kinko's: Source of Copies of Faxes?
  • InTheBullpen.com linked with Docs Traced to Abilene, TX Kinkos
  • Right On Red linked with Made Up In Texas
  • Diggers Realm linked with Some Incredible Work By The Blog Community On RatherGate
Waiting on Ivan

By Steven Taylor @ 9:06 pm

Despite the real possibility of Ivan hitting New Orleans (who builds a coastal city below sea level, anyway?), the storm has tracked north and is essentially heading for Mobile, Alabama (much to the chagrin of many, but to the relief of others).

Montgomery is about 140 miles from the Gulf Coast (southeast of the middle dot in AL in the map above), we are in the projected path, and indeed, barring divine intervention of the most dramatic type, we will be whacked starting tonight, but especially between 9am and 3pm central tomorrow-although according to the Weather Channel, the first wave may hit near the intersection of I-65 and I-85 shortly after midnight. We are, it is worth noting, an evacuation site, rather than a place from whence one would need to be evacuated. I suspect that Montgomery hotels are packed tonight (ditto Troy’s).

People around here remember with some horror Hurricane Opal in 1995. I, however, missed that one, having moved here in 1998. I did get to enjoy Georges that year, but it wasn’t too bad—there was quite a bit of rain and wind, and I recall several tornadoes in Pike County (i.e., where Troy is) that afternoon. However, no one mentions that one, it’s all about Opal. Of course, looking at some maps from 1995 and 1998, it appears that Ivan is following a track into Alabama not disimilar from Opal’s, while Georges went mostly though Mississippi.


Opal’s Track


Georges’ Track

As a result, Troy University and Auburn, and various Montgomery colleges and universities all closed today, not to open again until Monday. They have yet to call the Auburn-LSU game that is scheduled to be played at Auburn on Saturday—my guess is that it will eventually be cancelled, but we shall see. Word was that they might play the Alabama game in the afternoon if there were any power-related problems int the Tuscaloosa area.

Indeed, Troy shut down and disconnected it web and mail servers at noon today in anticipation of the lightning and such. I will say that they were a bit panicked at school today—you’d think Troy was on the coast, rather than 100 miles inland. Indeed, current projections have more rain headed for Montgomery than for Troy.

The main concern for those of us inland are tornadoes (Opal spawned 20-something, including one that hit the neighborhood in which I now live) and therefore downed trees (lots of trees around here) and downed power lines. There is a potential for substantial power-outages, so if PoliBlog gets real quiet, you will all know that I am living in the stone age sans the internet.

Montgomery-specific information can be found here.

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Other Live Blogging of the 60 Minutes II Interview

By Steven Taylor @ 7:49 pm

Of course, Jeff Quinton, was on the case and presents a good overview of the interview which comports with my view of the piece.

Slant Point makes a few comments as well.

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Rather and the Memos-Live Blogging

By Steven Taylor @ 7:25 pm

I was watching hurricane coverage and flipped over to CBS in time to see the interview with Killian’s secretary in progress. I must say, that it is amazing that Rather is simultaneously noting that Ms. Knox says that the memos aren’t authentic, but he is still quoting them in the interview as evidence to back his questions (whilst showing graphics of the fake docs on screen as if they are real).

Further, a high percentage of what the woman is saying is supposition-she is testifying to the states of mind of Killian, Bush and the other pilots in the program. The most remarkable part is that she spoke to Bush’s frame of mind when he was in Alabama, which is problematic, since she was in Texas.

And I note that at the end of the story Rather is still maintaining that the memos are real, and that their experts back them up-despite widespread reporting that several of their experts told them ahead of time that the memos were fakes (not to mention an impressive array of other experts who have declared the docs fake as well).

And I nailed it this morning on the spin:

The pro-Bush side is going to scream that they were right, that the docs were fake and the anti-Bush side is going to say, ok, they were fake, but the basic info in them is correct.

That was essentially what Rather ended his story with (except for a clear admission that the docs are phony).

And the point that makes the story, that Bush defied a direct order to get a physical doesn’t wash because of the fact that experts on military procedure have pointed out that the date of one’s physical is linked to one’s birthday, and the dates in the memo do not conform to Bush’s birthday. Further, the format of the memo with the purported order was declared fake by Ms. Knox, yet Rather uses it as evidence. Indeed, CBS has attempted quite a feat: they are using Knox to back of part of their story while clinging to the argument that the documents are real, which destroys their main claim of new information and hence defying a reasonable approach to evidence.

Utterly remarkable.

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  • Backcountry Conservative linked with 60 Minutes II Liveblogging
The Tales of CBS News Continue

By Steven Taylor @ 6:12 pm

Jeff Quinton is all over the story, such as it is.

And if this is the much-awaited statement, I have two words for the Tiffany Net: quite lame.

Ok, I have a few more: to hold onto the idea that the documents that they released are in fact genuine request self-delusion of herculean proportions. I also find the irony of the fact that they are caught up in a Watergate-like cover-up choice, given that if there is a singular story that the mainstream press sees as their triumph of triumphs, it is Watergate. Does Rather realized he has been cast in the Nixon role?

Another polisci take: this may be the biggest example of groupthink
since the Bay of Pigs, as evidenced by Bob Schieffer’s comments today.

Or, maybe this is just CBS’s newest reality show…

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  • A Stitch in Haste linked with RatherGate: Subjective v. Objective Defense?
Still no Word from CBS

By Steven Taylor @ 4:39 pm

I bet the typewriter ribbon broke. I hate it when that happens! Or maybe they ran out of White Out and had to send the office runner down to Office Depot.

Stephen Green feels like he’s been stood up.

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Put Wisconsin in the “Bush” Column

By Steven Taylor @ 3:59 pm

Kerry Drops Ball With Packers Fans

At a campaign event last month, the Democratic presidential nominee called it Lambert Field - a slip of the tongue carried on television, in papers throughout the state and on ESPN’s Web site.

Sheer genius.

And, totally classic:

Vice President Cheney made the obligatory pilgrimage to Green Bay last week to pile on. “I thought after John Kerry’s visit here I’d visit Lambert Field,” Cheney told a crowd at a Republican fundraising dinner Thursday night. Then he went in for the kill. “The next thing is he’ll be convinced Vince Lombardi is a foreign leader.”

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Me, Too

By Steven Taylor @ 2:43 pm

Powell Concerned by Putin’s Political Changes

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Still No Word from CBS

By Steven Taylor @ 1:59 pm

The story is now that they will release their statement at 3:30pm eastern.

What? Are they typing it on a typewriter and working to get it just right?

Update: Drudge now is reporting that the launch from for Operation: CYRA (R, as in Rather) is 5:00pm Central.

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CBS Ignored Expert Advice

By Steven Taylor @ 1:05 pm

So reports ABC news.

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Things Congessmen Oughtn’t Get Involved In…

By Steven Taylor @ 1:00 pm

Cox wants investigation of CBS docs.

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  • InTheBullpen.com linked with Congressman Cox Asks for Investigation
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Don’t People Know How to Use Google?

By Steven Taylor @ 12:50 pm

First, the Seattle Times, now this.

Is it really that hard to Google a name before one starts a new blog?

And they finally (after over a year) put something up here-but someone tell me why you would want that url for that site? It isn’t like domain names are all that expensive.

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MSM Has Made its Conclusions: They’re Fake

By Steven Taylor @ 8:48 am

It is starting, various major media outlets have gone from reporting the existence of the documents, to reporting doubts about the docs, to concluding they are, indeed, fakes.

From an op/ed in today’s LAT:

CBS News was had. It’s hard to reach any other conclusion about documents that CBS and anchor Dan Rather have defended as revealing the truth about George W. Bush’s military service.

[…]

But who fed a seeming ringer to CBS, and why did the network fall for it?

And that becomes the next question.

And no doubt the race is on to be the first media outlet to find out.

One guesses similar statements in other papers and on various networks. The question becomas what kind of damage control that CBS will be able to do.

Hat tip: bLogicus

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CBS to Make Statement?

By Steven Taylor @ 8:39 am

Jeff Quinton reports that they supposedly going to issue a statement at noon eastern.

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Docs are Fakes, Now Comes the Spin

By Steven Taylor @ 6:56 am

Writes Kevin Drum last night:

I think it’s time for everyone to give up on this. The memos are almost certainly fakes, they’re sucking up media bandwidth that could be better used elsewhere, and Dan Rather is toast. Besides, there was really nothing in them that told us anything new.

The question now becomes: how long before Rather admits he was duped?

Mark Kleiman seems to be conceding ground as well, at least in the sense that sees that the docs may have represented a frame-up job of the President, even if the President is guilty (Kleiman’s word) of the basic charges in the memos.

Of course, now the spins starts. The pro-Bush side is going to scream that they were right, that the docs were fake and the anti-Bush side is going to say, ok, they were fake, but the basic info in them is correct.

I would note that the main story here is that someone did pass off phony docs to CBS in an attempt to harm the President and that CBS bought the fakes hook, line and sinker. Further, the authenticity of the documents was called into question by blogs, not the MSM, and indeed what took even Fox News until last night to report, had been figured out by Thurday of lst week (i.e., that if oen types the memos on Word they overlay exactly with the CBS copies). Bloggers may have done a great deal of damage to CBS’ news credibility, and Rather’s specifically-although the exact fallout there has yet to manifest.

The political angle shall be interesting to watch. On the one hand, there is new evidence to suggest, via the secretary, that there was “buzz” about special treatment for Lt. Bush. The question is: will this damage Bush? I really don’t think so. Most people, the polls indicate, already think Bush got special treatment, so some minor corroboration of that fact is largely background noise. The issue would be whether they could catch in an outright lie, which seems unlikely. Indeed, the only real “gotcha” issue is Alabama, and whether he showed or not, and there has been enough evidence (the dental records, some witnesses who say they saw him) to make that one difficult to prove in way that would really damage the President.

And, as Bush himself has noted: when he was young and irresponsible, he was young and irresponsible-I think we all know that, and that was largely dealt with in 2000.

The anti-Bush faction has to understand: the American people aren’t trying to figure out who Bush is by looking at his bio-they know who Bush is: he’s been President fot the four year, for goodness’ sake. The bio issue is always far more important for the challenger, and Kerry has made it more the centerpiece of his campaign than any candidate for any office that I can remember. Although I will note that he seems to be taking Clinton’s advice and not talking about it as much lately.

Raising questions about Bush’s ANG service isn’t enough to cover up the fact that Kerry’s campaign still lacks a coherent theme.

The basic public perception of this is going to be that someone, somewhere, tried to use fake documents to damage the President, and that CBS News went along with it, making themselves lok like clowns along the way by using alleged experts, who ended up not to be experts, to authenticate documents that were clearly forgeries to anyone who took the time to really do their homework.

And I still maintain that the long-term story here will be the role of bloggers, as I think that September 9, 2004 marks something of a paradigm shift in news coverage.

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  • bLogicus linked with Document Experts Warned CBS Prior to Broadcast
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Bleak? Perhaps. Realistic? Most Definitely

By Steven Taylor @ 6:39 am

Bleak Prognosis by C.I.A. Nominee

Representative Porter J. Goss of Florida said on Tuesday that rebuilding the Central Intelligence Agency would take more than five years and that American spies needed to be encouraged to take more risks.

Quite frankly, setting evoking even the number five strikes me as optimistic. To reorganize US intelligence gathering for the new threats which face us, which inlcuding the training of new agents and their insertion into the field, may take a decade-the reorg will take far less, but the human intel side of the equation is a long-term prospect to say the least.

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Tuesday, September 14, 2004
DMN: Former Kllian Secretary Says Docs Fake, But May Reflect Real Ones

By Steven Taylor @ 8:27 pm

Former secretary says she didn’t type memos

The former secretary for the Texas Air National Guard colonel who supposedly authored memos critical of President Bush’s Guard service said Tuesday that the documents are fake, but that they reflect real documents that once existed.

Marian Carr Knox, who worked from 1956 to 1979 at Ellington Air Force Base in Houston, said she prided herself on meticulous typing, and the memos first disclosed by CBS News last week were not her work.

“These are not real,"she told The Dallas Morning News after examining copies of the disputed memos for the first time. “They’re not what I typed, and I would have typed them for him.”

Mrs. Knox, 86, who spoke with precise recollection about dates, people and events, said she is not a supporter of Mr. Bush, who she deemed “unfit for office” and “selected, not elected.”

“I remember very vividly when Bush was there and all the yak-yak that was going on about it,” she said.

But, she said, telltale signs of forgery abounded in the four memos, which contained the supposed writings of her ex-boss, Lt. Col. Jerry Killian, who died in 1984.

She said the typeface on the documents did not match either of the two typewriters that she used during her time at the Guard. She identified those machines as a mechanical Olympia, which was replaced by an IBM Selectric in the early 1970s.

She spoke fondly of the Olympia machine, which she said had a key with the “th” superscript character that was the focus of much debate in the CBS memos. Experts have said that the Selectric, and mechanical typewriters such as the Olympia, could not produce proportional spacing, found in the disputed documents.

[…]

She said she did not recall typing the memos reported by CBS News, though she said they accurately reflect the viewpoints of Lt. Col. Killian and documents that would have been in the personal file. Also, she could not say whether the CBS documents corresponded memo for memo with that file.

“The information in here was correct, but it was picked up from the real ones,” she said.

She said that the culture of the time was that men didn’t type office-related documents, and she expressed doubt that Lt. Col. Killian would have typed the memos. She said she would typically type his memos from his handwritten notes, which she would then destroy.

Mrs. Knox, who left the Guard before Lt. Col. Killian died, said she was not sure of the disposition of his personal files when he died while still serving at Ellington. But, she said, it would have been logical that a master sergeant who worked in the squadron headquarters would have destroyed any such nonofficial documents after Lt. Col. Killian’s death.

That man, reached Tuesday, declined to comment. “I don’t know anything about the matter,” he said.

And the story continues…

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  • Arguing with signposts… linked with Game. Set. Match.
WaPo’s Analysis Not Good for CBS’s Position

By Steven Taylor @ 10:44 am

Expert Cited by CBS Says He Didn’t Authenticate Papers:

The lead expert retained by CBS News to examine disputed memos from President Bush’s former squadron commander in the National Guard said yesterday that he examined only the late officer’s signature and made no attempt to authenticate the documents themselves.

“There’s no way that I, as a document expert, can authenticate them,” Marcel Matley said in a telephone interview from San Francisco. The main reason, he said, is that they are “copies” that are “far removed” from the originals.

Nevertheless:

CBS executives have pointed to Matley as their lead expert on whether the memos are genuine, and included him in a “CBS Evening News” defense of the story Friday. Matley said he spent five to eight hours examining the memos. “I knew I could not prove them authentic just from my expertise,” he said. “I can’t say either way from my expertise, the narrow, narrow little field of my expertise.”

Shaky ground, to be sure. If I were CBS, I wouldn’t want to base a court case on Matley as my star witness.

And WaPo is catching up with the blogosphere:

A detailed comparison by The Washington Post of memos obtained by CBS News with authenticated documents on Bush’s National Guard service reveals dozens of inconsistencies, ranging from conflicting military terminology to different word-processing techniques.

The analysis shows that half a dozen Killian memos released earlier by the military were written with a standard typewriter using different formatting techniques from those characteristic of computer-generated documents. CBS’s Killian memos bear numerous signs that are more consistent with modern-day word-processing programs, particularly Microsoft Word.

WaPo’s story, which is worth reading in its entirety , notes

A detailed examination of the CBS documents beside authenticated Killian memos and other documents generated by Bush’s 147th Fighter Interceptor Group suggests at least three areas of difference that are difficult to reconcile

These areas are: Word-processing techniques, Factual Problems, and Stylistic differences.

Further, the report casts serious doubt on CBS’s latest “expert analysis":

In its broadcast last night, CBS News produced a new expert, Bill Glennon, an information technology consultant. He said that IBM electric typewriters in use in 1972 could produce superscripts and proportional spacing similar to those used in the disputed documents.

Any argument to the contrary is “an out-and-out lie,” Glennon said in a telephone interview. But Glennon said he is not a document expert, could not vouch for the memos’ authenticity and only examined them online because CBS did not give him copies when asked to visit the network’s offices.

Further,

Thomas Phinney, program manager for fonts for the Adobe company in Seattle, which helped to develop the modern Times New Roman font, disputed Glennon’s statement to CBS. He said “fairly extensive testing” had convinced him that the fonts and formatting used in the CBS documents could not have been produced by the most sophisticated IBM typewriters in use in 1972, including the Selectric and the Executive. He said the two systems used fonts of different widths.

CBS seems to be digging a massive hole soe themselves, as are those who are clinging to partisan-based reasoning on these documents (and I have read some stuff on blogs of intelligent people who are really ignoring the preponderance of evidence, for example, Mark A. R. Kleiman, whose work on drug politics I very much respect).

I would also note that WaPo is doing a more impressive job of doing actual analysis on this story than is the NYT which features a picture of Matley with Rather and makes no mention of Matley’s clarification on his analysis.

However, the NYT story does indicate that some at CBS are getting a bit nervous:

Several CBS correspondents said in interviews that such developments were making them increasingly nervous.

One network correspondent said, “I’ve talked to colleagues who would love to see more of a defense.”

This person described the state of the staff as “deep concern, I’d say not panic - we all want it to be right.” This person, echoing others, said that Mr. Rather’s resoluteness in addressing the charges on the air was allaying some of the concern. “Dan really put himself on the line and I can’t imagine him knowingly defending something he knew not to be the case.”

A longtime correspondent said flatly, “I’m distressed.”

However, the company line is clear that they still stand by the memos.

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Pinkerton on Blogs and CBS

By Steven Taylor @ 10:11 am

The day CBS News got ‘blogged’ down.

Hat tip: Overtaken by Events, who also comments on the piece.

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MLB Owners for Bush

By Steven Taylor @ 9:40 am

MLB Bush has a majority of baseball owners’ support

Baseball owners once passed up a chance to hire former colleague George W. Bush as the sport’s commissioner, but now they’re working hard to keep Bush at bat in the White House.

More than a dozen current and former owners and family members are among the president’s top re-election fund-raisers, an Associated Press review found. Seven are Bush “Rangers,” each raising at least $200,000, and six are “Pioneers” who have brought in $100,000 or more.

The Bush campaign has also received direct contributions from owners and executives of more than half of the sport’s 30 teams, the AP analysis of Federal Election Commission reports found.

Those include $2,000 contributions from owners George Steinbrenner of the New York Yankees, Fred Wilpon of the New York Mets, Carl Pohlad of the Minnesota Twins, Peter Magowan of the San Francisco Giants and Michael Ilitch of the Detroit Tigers.

Hat tip: Clint of Southern Sense
via e-mail.

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Idiots

By Steven Taylor @ 9:22 am

Texas Rangers-Oakland game turns ugly when player hurls chair at fans

“Tonight, it went over the line,'’ Rangers manager Buck Showalter said. “It was a real break from the normal trash you hear from fans. We’ve had problems about every time we’ve come here.'’

Texas reliever Doug Brocail was seen screaming at a male fan, and the pitcher had to be restrained by his teammates and bullpen coach Mark Connor. Others also had to be held back.

Francisco threw the chair at a fan in a lower box near the Rangers’ bullpen along the right-field line. The chair hit one man in the head, then bounced and struck the woman on her left temple.

[…]

Rinetti said afterward that the woman was being treated at a hospital for facial cuts and a broken nose and was considering pressing charges. Francisco was escorted by police out an alternate stadium exit after the game and into a car waiting on the field. No arrests were made.

According to ESPN Radio, Francisco was later arrested, as he should have been. Yeesh.

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The Pre-Ivan Toast-O-Meter

By Steven Taylor @ 8:36 am


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


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

As Hurricane Ivan heads towards the Gulf Coast, and therefore straight for Alabama, we have this week’s Toast-O-Meter nice and dry before the coming deluge:

This Week’s Toast-O-Meter reading

Despite the uproar over last Wednesday’s 60 Minutes II story and Rather Gate, the past week was still the President’s. Not only has the President’s poll numbers continued to be solid (although granted, still quite close in many national polls, some key battleground states have moved into his column), but the Kerry campaign continues to be in search of a core message. Not only is it a bit late to be acquiring a core message (the election is, after all, less than two months away and Mr. Kerry has been campaigning for the presidency since early 2003), but the very fact that Kerry seems to be lacking a central, foundational message plays into the criticism of Kerry by the Republicans that he is a flip-flopper who doesn’t really have any core reason for running for the White House aside from the Bob Dole reason: it is the next thing to put on the resume.

I continue to believe that the issue of security (Iraq and terrorism in general) is what will be the deciding issue of the election, and Kerry still lacks a coherent message on this topic. His shift to health care isn’t going to be sufficient to win the election. Yes, people worry about health care costs (I am not happy, for example, with the increases in co-pays and premiums that I have to pay), but it is quite unclear that the populace truly wants a radical government overhaul of the health care system. Not only can I readily cite the events of 1993, but the degree to which health care is something at this juncture of our history that will passionately motivate voters is quite questionable. And, as has happened, proposals for massive social programs allow one’s opponent to harp on the cost of the policy, which Bush is doing. Also, by proposing a plan that will cost a great deal of money, Kerry has blunted his ability to criticize the deficit, as it takes a radical leap of faith to suggest that (as Kerry has during this campaign) that we can maintain the middle class tax cuts, offer a massive health care program, and reduce the deficit by raising taxes on the upper level of income earners (not to mention all the other proposals that Kerry has made). I would expect that at some point the GOP will add up all of Kerry’s proposals and compare that to the revenue he claims to be able to generate and the numbers won’t be close. A similar tactic sunk the fellow who challenged Jeb Bush in Florida in 2002.

The Toast-O-Meter still shows Bush looking Wonder-ful, while Mr. Kerry still needs to put out some fires. Not quite as good as last week for Mr. Bush, not quite as bad for Mr. Kerry, but Bush still has the momentum. And I predict that unless events intervene, Kerry’s incoherence on foreign policy will continue to erode his position and lead to a widening of the gap in the polls.

Brewing Issues

  • Campaigns Snipe About Economy, War.
  • Kerry: Bush Broke Promises on Path to War.
  • Kerry Blasts Lapse of Assault Weapons Ban

  • N. Korea Emerges in Presidential Campaign. Clearly, this isn’t where President Bush wants to take the conversation: Bush Avoids Issue of Iran, N.Korea on Campaign Trail. However, Mr. Kerry underscores his overall problem as a candidate with statements like the following from yesterday’s NYT:
    When Mr. Kerry was pressed about how he would handle the threat of a North Korean nuclear test if he was in the Oval Office, he declined to be prescriptive, other than to say that the issue would probably have to be taken to the United Nations Security Council. “Hypothetical questions are not real,” he said, arguing that North Korea was a case for preventive diplomacy, and that Mr. Bush’s “ideologically driven” approach had kept him from truly engaging North Korea. “The Chinese are frustrated, the South Koreans, the Japanese are frustrated,” he said.

    On a wholly political front, Kerry has to have an answer for those kinds of questions. How can be possibly think he can wrest the presidency from an incumbent who is seen in the polls as a strong leader without having a vision for the major questions of the day? Referring this to the Security Council is punting, at best.

    On a policy level (and a political one as well): hasn’t Kerry been the big proponent of multilateralism (it is what he wants in regards to the Iranian nuclear problem)? The administration has been pursuing a multilateral process with the North Koreans, so what’s Mr. Kerry’s solution? Direct talks? Isn’t that unilateral action (at least on the part of the US)?

  • The increased fighting in Iraq gives Kerry an opening, but it unclear to me that he can take advantage of it at this point.

POLLING

  • Behind in the polls, Kerry shifts focus.

  • Thge Rasmussen Report
  • The Political Wire has a round-up of the latest polling.
  • Edwards Says Bush Lead in Polls Is Temporary.
  • James Joyner notes several stories which detail the fact that Kerry Conceding Battlegrounds, Bush Gaining Among Women.
  • Dave Wissing has the national head-to-head numbers.

THE OL’ COLLEGE TRY

  • USATODAY.com - Bush gains in 2 key states.
  • Check out the latest at Election Projection - 2004 Edition.
  • As always, Dave Wissing has the state-by-state numbers.
  • Daly Thoughts and Dales’ Electoral College Breakdown has some new state-level numbers. Click and scroll.
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  • The Command Post - 2004 US Presidential Election linked with This Week's Toast-O-Meter
  • Backcountry Conservative linked with The Toast is Done
  • Mark the Pundit linked with Toast is Ready
  • Outside The Beltway � linked with Toast-O-Meter Update
  • King of Fools linked with Ding.
  • The Moderate Voice linked with Political Toast-O-Meter: Bush Still Leads And Kerry Ignores Security At Peril
Monday, September 13, 2004
Nader on Florida Ballot?

By Steven Taylor @ 8:14 pm

Florida OK’s Nader’s Name on Election Ballot

Independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader (news - web sites)’s name can appear on Florida ballots for the election, despite a court order to the contrary, Florida’s elections chief told officials on Monday in a move that could help President Bush in the key swing state.

[…]

Florida Circuit Court Judge Kevin Davey issued a temporary injunction last week preventing the state from putting Nader on the 2004 ballot, siding with a Democratic challenge that the Reform Party did not qualify as a national party under state law.

A hearing on a permanent injunction is scheduled for Wednesday. But Roberts said Hurricane Ivan, which is headed for Florida’s Gulf coast, had raised “a substantial question as to when such a hearing” will be held.

I must admit, the Ivan excuse comes across as pretty lame.

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Credentialing the Blogosphere

By Steven Taylor @ 1:56 pm

Bryan of AWS has an interesting suggestion: compiling a list of the credentials of bloggers.

The reason I find this to be an interesting idea is that in some cases there is real exepertise in the Blogosphere, yet the MSM (on balance) tends to be dismissive of the entire enterprise (such as the now infamous Jonathan Klein quip about “Bloggers have no checks and balances . . . [it’s] a guy sitting in his living room in his pajamas.”).

Bryan’s inspiration is the CBS Memo flap and the number of highly qualified individuals commenting on, and analyzing, the Rather docs (as compiled by Beldar).

Certainly there are many in the ranks of top bloggers who have better credentials than many of the talking heads on TV (or, at least as good)-and many, many have more specialized training and expertise than your typical reporter. As such, a list of credentials somewhere could be of use.

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I Was Wondering

By Steven Taylor @ 1:16 pm

I tuned in the ESPN NFL game last night, and heard Pat Summerall’s voice, which was a surprise. Here’s why:

ESPN’s Mike Patrick, recuperating from heart bypass surgery, misses his first regular-season NFL broadcast since the network obtained NFL rights in 1987. Pat Summerall, who underwent a liver transplant earlier this year, sits in on play-by-play on the Chiefs-Broncos game (8:30) with analysts Joe Theismann and Paul Maguire and reporter Suzy Kolber.

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The Cincinnati Post: Way Behind the Curve

By Steven Taylor @ 11:42 am

An editorial from todya’s Cincinnati Post states the following:

What’s new in the documents CBS has obtained is information that he had a direct order to show up - and just plain did not.

Other documents make it sound as if there were efforts from on high to have Bush’s superiors do unearned favors for the young man.

None of this reflects well on Bush, and those opposed to his re-election say the evidence is mounting about his character flaws.

It doesn’t help Bush’s re-election effort that his Democratic opponent in the presidential election actually saw combat in Vietnam.

1) How far behind can you be? Even the NYT was noting that there were questions about the docs on Saturday.

and

2) A note to the editors of the Post: while Kerry would like the election to be about the two men’s Viet Nam era service, there is the pesky fact of three intervening decades that must be dealt with.

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Mark Shields Tries to Comfort Camp Kerry

By Steven Taylor @ 11:32 am

However, his logic needs some work:

Take a deep breath.

Ignore the polls. Voters care whether their jobs will be there, whether there will be good jobs for their children, whether they will be able to afford health care.

Their votes are not influenced by polls. If they were, candidates George McGovern and Barry Goldwater, who both trailed by two-to-one throughout the fall, would not have won two out of five votes each on Election Day.

Ronald Reagan’s pollster and advisor Dr. Richard Wirthlin once told me that during the 1984 re-election campaign, when the Gipper carried 49 states, his Democratic opponent Walter Mondale had led Reagan on only two nights of polling - both during the Democratic convention when Geraldine Ferraro was nominated for vice president. Defense rests.

I agree, polls don’t determine how people vote. But perhaps I am confused, but by citing three sets of polls, which all ended up being correct (i.e., Goldwater and McGovern lost and Reagan won) is this really the way to boslter the confidence of the Democrats? Ok, sure, the polls weren’t perfect in those elections, but they were right about the ultimate winners. So where is the comfort here?

Further, the piece rambles. And Shields is simply wrong when he states that jobs and health care will be able to carry Kerry to victory in November.

If one is a depressed Kerry voter, I would look elsewhere for comfort.

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USAT on the CBS Docs

By Steven Taylor @ 8:21 am

USAT is doing what all of the MSM ought to be doing: getting experts to examine the documents. Like everyone else, the story does not give a 100% answer. However, it examining key aspects of the documents the piece notes the following:

Typography. […] Gerald Richards, who examined the documents on behalf of USA TODAY, is a document authentication expert who worked for the FBI for 20 years and was chief of its document examination and research unit. He said there was a typewriter available in 1972, the IBM Composer, that could have produced the elements in the memos attributed to Killian. But the machines were not easy to use and were expensive, he noted.

Richards qualified his assessment by pointing out that analyzing documents from copies rather than originals is less precise. He estimated that the copies given to him were at least third-generation copies.

“It is highly probable that (the original memos) were computer-generated,” Richards said. “And it is highly probable that they were not generated by a typewriter vintage circa 1972.”

Signatures […] Richard Williams, who examined the documents at USA TODAY’s request, is a 23-year veteran of FBI document authentication who testifies frequently as an expert witness. He said he had questions about Killian’s signature on the memos.

“In all probability, the signatures are forgeries,” he said, pointing in particular to the spacing of the letters, and the more cramped appearance of the signature in the suspect documents. But because the documents are copies, much of the information that experts rely on, such as inks, watermarks and impressions on the paper, is unavailable, he said.

Also, there is this extensive and interesting analysis of the technical elements of the debate by an expert in the field.

Also worth reading: Dean Esmay’s round-up of the story.

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We’ve Made Absentee Voting Too Easy

By Steven Taylor @ 6:49 am

And we have created some potential, and possibly serious, problems: Fraud: Absentee Votes Worry Officials as Nov. 2 Nears

Only 6 of the 19 states where polls have shown that voters are almost evenly divided between President Bush and Senator John Kerry still require witness signatures to help authenticate absentee ballots. Fourteen of the 19 states allow political parties to collect absentee voting applications, and 7 let the parties collect completed ballots, raising the possibility that operatives could gather and then alter or discard ballots from an opponent’s stronghold.

I have never been a fan of absentee voting except for those who truly cannot be at the polls-throwing it open like this and allowing third parties to distribute and collect the ballots smacks of numerous problems.

If I need an absentee ballot I should have to initiate the request myself, and the ballot should be mailed to me, and I have should to mail it back. That isn’t a perfect system, but it beats letting people come to me and ask me to vote when I otherwise wouldn’t have bothered.

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Sunday, September 12, 2004
More on the Composer v. Word

By Steven Taylor @ 8:59 pm

Edward Mendelson of PC Mag tries to demonstrate that the same document could be produced on both a PC today and an IBM Selectric Composer back then.

First, he misses the point-the question isn’t can you make a document that looks identical on both formats, of course you can-the question is can you produce the Killian memo as it was presented by CBS News on the Composer? Thus far, it seems to me that you can’t. As a commenter somewhere noted: the question isn’t can you produce a document in 2004 that looks like it was produced on 1973 tech, but could a 1973 machine have produced a document that has the appearance of a document produced in 2004.

Indeed, Mr. Mendelson misses the point of the exercise given that he had to work to get the documents to appear to be identical:

The image that was prepared in Word was typed without any adjustments whatsoever to the spacing of the type. I reproduced the hyphenation of the IBM original by manually inserting hyphens (without spaces afterwards) after the same letters where hyphens occur in the IBM text.

If once has to work at getting them identical, then that is not big feat-I have no doubt once can make identical-looking documents in both formats-but that isn’t the issue.

The point of the lgf experiment, is that with no work whatsoever, the Word doc looks like the alleged Killian doc (the pulsating version, really makes the point).

I decided the try the lgf experiment myself-I opened Word, and I use the default settings, and I started typing The “Killian” memo. The results are that the words track exactly. Proof that the doc is a forgery? No. Compelling? Yes. And again, having used typewriters, I know that the margins aren’t so auto-perfect unless one is really good at using the machine-while with Word the margins and word-wrapping is so natural for a 21st-century typist that one doesn’t even think about it. The bottom line is that without any formatting adjustments one gets the CBS-Killian memo by just tryping into Word. What are the odds that one would have gotten proportional spacing and the appropriate word-wrapping in a typed document in 1973? I recall that one of the biggest hassles of typing on a typewriter was making sure that you didn’t start a word that would go beyond your margins without having to hyphenate. One the main reasons I often used White Out or the correction strips was because a word needed to be on the next line to look right. The Killian memo has perfect word wrapping with no indication of White Out or of corrections-things that this former office clerk remember do usually show up on photocopies.

Second, note that I used the word appear above-as in Mendelson appears to have produced an identical doc in Word and on the IBM Composer, lgf demonstrates that they are not identical (at least assuming that the scans at PC Mag are the right size, which they appear to be)-just as the Shape of Days experiment demonstrates that it may not be possible for the Killian memo to have been produced on the Composer.

Third, of course the fundamental argument here isn’t what might be possible, but what is reasonable to assume actually happened. I will grant, Mendelson doesn’t claim to be answering that question. But it seems to me that many folks are so focused on the technical possibilities, that they are missing the point that even if the technology existed, it was unlikely to have been used by Killian, let alone expertly by Killian.

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  • The American Mind linked with Missing the Point
Speaking of Typewriters

By Steven Taylor @ 5:52 pm

Speaking of Mr. Harrell of Shape of Days, his post on typing and getting old and on what proportional spacing is are worth reading.

The former is of especial interest to me, as I am convinced that part of the problem is that a good number of people simply have no clue what it is to use a typerwriter-and those who should have forgotten how sloppy and archaic typewrittern documents look-especially when typed by non-expert typists.

There was a reason why every office in the land used to employ typists (and that was all they did) and why colleges and universities used to be surrounded by typing businesses.

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I’m 99.99% Convinced: The Killian Docs are Forgeries

By Steven Taylor @ 5:08 pm

Here’s why:

1.) (update: this a revised and simplified point #1-the original one is below*)

It seems to me to assume that Killian used complex office equipment to produce memos for the file only is improbable at best. It is improbable he typed them himself in the 1970s, and doubly improbable that he used expensive, special equipment to do so. It is triply improbable that he was a perfect typist-and one look at the CBS docs requires one to assume he was an expert typist for the documents to be genuine.

I have used IBM Selectrics (never the Composer) and I remember having the devil’s own time getting the margins and formatting the way I wanted. And typos take on a whole new meaning when one is actually typing on a typewriter (note to the youngster in the audience: they don’t underline misspelled words in red and correcting mistakes has to be done right when you make them-going back and lining up the page and fixing an error without it looking like you had done so is nearly impossible).

2) The memo is easily reproduced using the default settings on MS Word-as Charles of lgf demonstrates with the following animated GIF that alternates between PDF versions of the CBS docs and the one Charles types straight into Word (and no, your eyes aren’t playing tricks on you-the graphic pulsates between the CBS doc and the Word version):

.

3) However, an attempt at reproducing the document with an IBM Selectric Composer, produces the following (the red text is from an IBM Selectric Composer and the black from the CBS doc-note, they do not overlap):


The above image was produced as the result of some intrepid research by J. Harrell of The Shape of Days-who has larger graphics to examine and who has much more that is worth reading on this subject. I would note that this kind of research is the kind of thing that the MSM ought to be doing. It occurred to me yesterday that some news reporter ought to find all of the equipment under controversy and see if the memo could be reproduced, and how difficult it would be to do so.

Now, the possibility that there is some other tech out there that could have produced those memos exists, but it strikes me as slim. However, anyone who has ever used typewriters certainly knows how difficult it is to produce the kind of letter-perfect docs one can make with Word and a laser printer. Since typewriters are mechanical, it doesn’t take much to have imperfections show up. And given that Killian’s family says he didn’t type, I find it unlikely that he was producing these perfect docs.

4) Hugh Hewitt has a list of reasons why the documents are suspect, including:

*Lt Col Killian didn’t type;
*Lt Col Killian’s family says he did not maintain such records;
*Guard regulations prohibited the maintenance of such records;
*General Bobby Hodges didn’t vouch for the docs as CBS said he would;
*Colonel Buck Staudt -cited in the memos as pushing Killian to “sugarcoat” a Bush evaluation- had retired more than a year before the memo was allegedly written;

[…]

*Most experts, from Dr.Cartwright at Rice, the above-referenced Dr. Bouffard and Farrell Shiver, range from certain to almost certain in their conclusions that the docs are not legit;
*CBS doesn’t have the “originals” and didn’t reveal that fact until pressure mounted;
*The fake docs are easily and exactly reproduced on modern word-processing equipment, underscoring the ease with which the bad forgery could have been produced contrasted with the near impossibility of Lt Colonel Killian’s producing them in 192/3;

6) Other reasons to doubt the docs:

Again, I think that the main story here is a media story with two major components: the sloppiness (and perhaps partisanship) of CBS and the MSM v. blogs in terms of fact-checking and in this case, actual reporting (bloggers have done leg-work, like that noted above, and have interviewed experts of relevances). Normally I scoff at the idea that blogs can replicate the work of the MSM. In this case, however, bloggers have done better work than many in the press.

Robert Tagorda there are high political stakes to be associated with these memos—and if they are fakes, they could mightily damage Kerry, even if the Kerry campaign had nothing to do with the distribution of the memos.

Indeed, fake memos will be more damaging to Kerry than real memos will be to Bush. Why?-because fake memos raise serious questions about the integrity of the anti-Bush side of the equation (even if unfairly). Remember how the polls showed that a large percentage of voters held the Bush campaign responsible for the Swift Boat ads? I would expect a similar linkage in the minds of the voters between the Kerry camp and these memos. Further, a definitive declaration that these memos are fake will lead to greater distrust of MSM stories that criticize Bush.

The reason I think that this potential damage to Kerry is greater than the risk to Bush is simple: Bush isn’t basing his re-election his Texas Air National Guard service.

* My original 1) For anyone who thinks that solution is that Killian could have used The IBM Composer, note the following about the machine in question:

The first IBM Composer was the IBM “Selectric” Composer announced in 1966. It was a hybrid “Selectric” typewriter that was modified to have proportional spaced fonts. It is 100% mechanical and has no digital electronics. Since it has no memory, the user was required to type everything twice.

Does this sound like a likely thing for a Lt. Colonel to have done? Typed the memo twice (and perfectly, mind you) for a memo to a file?

Update: a reader notes that typing twice is only for fully justified documents-and a rereading of the documenation online confirms this fact. Still, the consensus continues to be that this was an espcially sophisticated machine to be using for simple memo-typing. However-this doesn’t disuade my position, as per below.

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  • RIGHT ON RED >> linked with Selectricity
  • Six Meat Buffet linked with fontgate, typegate, rathergate
  • The American Mind linked with Missing the Point
  • bLogicus linked with CBS Against the World - Memos, memos, memos
Football Observations

By Steven Taylor @ 3:59 pm

Things I think to this point about the young football season (college and pro):

  • Gibbs can still coach.
  • Washington got the better end of the Portis-Bailey trade. I was most impressed by his footwork in the TB@WASH game.
  • Early assessment: but after watching the first half of the ATL@SF game, I declare both teams sloppy and unimpressive (I have to watch this game when they could be airing the Dallas game? I smell the grounds for a lawsuit).
  • Troy actually got 6 votes in the ESPN poll-and deservedly so. Still, I remain shocked and pleased that they are 2-0. This team could be far better than I ever thought they could be. They should beat NMSU next week, but face a test against South Carolina after that.
  • Speaking of USC (the east coast version): they were impressive hanging tough with GA yesterday.
  • How did a Marshall squad that lost to Troy at home last week hang tough with The Ohio State University until the final seconds?
  • I am glad that Arkansas isn’t on Texas’ schedule for the foreseeable future.
  • The Horns miss WR Roy Williams. I was not all that pleased with the WRs last night.
  • Cleveland beat Baltimore? And badly? What happened to the idea that the Ravens were supposed to be odds-on Super Bowl favs?
  • Both new “Leon” commercials are amusing.
  • It only took one “Game Break” to remind me how obnoxious TO is.

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Props to AT&T Wireless

By Steven Taylor @ 2:15 pm

Some of you may recall my previous post regarding my unhappiness with AT&T Wireless. Well, I wrote a lengthy letter to their HQ and I received a call, and all has been settled to my satisfaction. The woman I dealt with on the phone was extremely professional and helpful and put the “service” back into customer service.

So, I remove my blog hex on the company.

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With an Author Named “Naughtie” What do you Expect?

By Steven Taylor @ 9:55 am

This tidbit via Kevin Drum fits my thesis from yesterday about the Killian memo: if something is too good to be true for one side of the political fight or the other, treat it will immediate suspicion.

Call it: Taylor’s Political Revelation Hypothesis. It is especially applicable to books and other documents that appear out of nowhere to fit a claim that one side has been making about the other-normally a claim that the attacking side would love to corroborate. Having Powell call Cheney, Wolfowitz, and Rumsfeld “F***ing crazies” fits that bill quite nicely.

Because despite the fact that Powell has defended he administration’s policies, and despite the fact that he hasn’t resigned or even made any public show of discontent, there is a fantasy that exists in the minds of some on the Democratic side of aisle that he is really doing all of this under duress and that he really is secretly on their side.

This kind of thing is tantamount to someone “finding” a letter that John Kerry wrote in which he admitted that he tried to acquire minor injuries in Viet Nam so that he could get three Purple Hearts so that he could go home early, and oh, by the way, he figured they’d be useful if he ever ran for president.

Granted, that which is too good to be true can be true, but it almost never is.

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Colombia Extradites Drug Suspects

By Steven Taylor @ 9:42 am

14 drug suspects extradited to U.S.

The government has sent 14 Colombians to the United States in the first mass extradition of nationals accused of drug-related offenses, police said.

Thirteen of the Colombians are charged with drug trafficking and one with laundering money, police said. They were escorted Friday on a plane bound for the U.S. by law officers hired by the U.S. Embassy, a police statement said.

Among those extradited was Carlos Lopesierra, brother of former Colombian Sen. Samuel Lopesierra, who was extradited to the United States last year. Both are accused of drug trafficking.

A clear sign of continued good relations between the US and the Uribe administration. It also signals the continued hardline of the Colombian govenment-which for a substantial amount of time in the 1980s and 1990s did not extradict any suspects to the US-indeed, it was unconstitutional to do so for most of the 90s.

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Terrorists in Iraq Getting Bold

By Steven Taylor @ 9:38 am

Baghdad Explosions Kill 25, Injure 100

Militants pounded central Baghdad on Sunday with one of their most intense mortar barrages ever, targeting the Green Zone and destroying a U.S. vehicle along a major street. At least 25 people were killed and more than 100 were wounde-some of them when a U.S. helicopter fired at crowds around the burning vehicle.

Elsewhere, a suicide attacker detonated an explosives-packed vehicle at the gates of Abu Ghraib prison, killing himself but causing no other casualties, the U.S. military said. American guards fired at the vehicle before the driver could reach the gate, the military said.

Tawhid and Jihad, a militant group linked to al-Qaida and led by Jordanian terror mastermind Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, said it carried out Sunday’s coordinated campaign of violence in Baghdad — the Abu Ghraib bombing, the mortar barrage and attacks on central Haifa Street.

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Saturday, September 11, 2004
Good Thing that the Democrats Only Play Nice…

By Steven Taylor @ 9:56 pm

Kerry Hints GOP May Suppress Black Votes

“We are not going to stand by and allow another million African American votes to go uncounted in this election,” the Democratic presidential nominee told the Congressional Black Caucus. “We are not going to stand by and allow acts of voter suppression, and we’re hearing those things again in this election.”

Nothing like sowing the seeds of racial disharmony, not to mention making insidious allegations about your opponents, to help demonstrate how yours is the “nice” party.

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I Have a Simpler Explanation

By Steven Taylor @ 9:27 pm

Rather than arguing, as does the NYT here On the Attack: Republicans Pack Punch. Democrats Take It. (For Now)

It just seems that the Republicans are, today at least, more adept at the black art of attack politics, according to historians and flummoxed Democratic partisans.

I have a simpler explanation for why the Dems had a rough August: they don’t have a very good candidate.

As usual, an article about the mean streak in the GOP is mostly a re-run of Lee Atwater vignettes, as if he ran every Republican campaign in the modern era.

Despite the thesis put forth in the piece, it does end on the correct note:

“Who’s worse?” asked Fred I. Greenstein, a presidential scholar at Princeton. “It depends on what day it is.”

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  • The American Mind linked with Occam's Razor
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More on CBS and the Killian Docs

By Steven Taylor @ 8:21 pm

bLogicus has a rather extensive round-up of mainstream press reports, commentators and bloggers which he entitles “CBS Against the World.”

Indeed.

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NPR and Timestamps

By Steven Taylor @ 2:52 pm

Mickey Kaus notes that NPR’s timing issue is the result of misreading timestamps:

Patterico shoots down a promising pro-Kerry Web conspiracy theory-namely that the potential forgery of the CBS Bush guard documents was spotted so quickly on the Web that the person who spotted it ("Buckhead,” poster #47 at Free Republic) must have been tipped off in advance. That would suggest that any forgery was planted, presumably by pro-Bush forces. But it seems this whole theory, promoted in this morning’s ABC News Note, was based on a misreading of time stamps by ABC. In reality, Buckhead had a couple of hours to come up with his post-something he confirms in an email to Patterico. … ABC has corrected its mistake (without withdrawing the now seemingly groundless insinuation). NPR hasn’t corrected the error, according to Patterico, and David Brock’s Media Matters still posts it. … P.S.: Media Matters might want to decide if a) the documents are authentic, as argued at the top of their Web page or b) the documents are forgeries planted by Republicans, as argued at the bottom of their Web page. Lawyers are allowed to plead in the alternative, but a) and b) can’t both be true, and the evidence for each of those propositions is also evidence against the other one.

I found this by reading info at: Patterico’s Pontifications, Asymmetrical Information and Instapundit.

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One of Several Things That Raise Queston to Me About the Killian Docs

By Steven Taylor @ 2:41 pm

When things are too good to be true, you have to wonder about them. There has long bee speculation that George W. Bush got preferential treatment in the Texas Air National Guard. However, to the frustration of Bush’s adversaries, no hard evidence of this fact has ever surfaced—not in four previous campaigns (his failed bid for Congress in the 70s, his two runs for Governor of Texas, and his 2000 campaign for president). Further, during a presidency long marked (i.e., from the beginning) by division and partisan rancor, no one could ever find this information. Surely those who wanted us to believe that the President was lying about Iraq would have fund info that he lied about his Guard service to be useful.

However, it is not until the start of the 2004 election season that a memo is found entitled “CYA” that purports to have been written by Bush’s commanding officer. In said memo the officer in question notes that he has been pressured to “sugar coat” young Bush’s record. Something we must assume that he did indeed do, as this same commander later wrote glowing reports of Bush and did nothing to stop Bush’s honorable discharge.

Hence, two questions come to mind:

1) Could one have made up a better memo if one had tried? How perfect is this to fill in history precisely the way the anti-Bush forces would like it filled in? The fact that it fits this narrative perfectly doesn’t render it inauthentic, but a fair-minded person has to at note the rather remarkable nature of the revelation, given the story to date—especially since it is quite unclear as to where these documents came from.

2) I am struck by the fact that if the goal of documentation was for Killian to C his A, it strikes me that writing down the fact that you plan on falsifying documents is a remarkably stupid thing to do. Why admit on paper that you are going to fle false reports. Sure, it fingers the guy who put pressure on you, but it fingers you as well.

As such, this makes not sense to me. Further, even if the machines existed to produce the document in question, I still have a hard time believing that the Lt. Colonel typed his own memos. And if he didn’t type them, where’s the secretary who did?

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CBS Really isn’t Looking too Good Here

By Steven Taylor @ 2:11 pm

From the LAT:

As another of the corroborating experts for its report, CBS and Rather presented an on-air interview with Marcel B. Matley, a San Francisco document examiner. Rather said Matley had corroborated the four Killian memos.

But in an interview with The Times, the analyst said he had only judged a May 4, 1972, memo-in which Killian ordered Bush to take his physical-to be authentic.

He said he did not form a judgment on the three other disputed memos because they only included Killian’s initials and he did not have validated samples of the officer’s initials to use for comparison.

A CBS official who spoke on condition of anonymity said that the network had two other document experts, who CBS did not identify, examine the documents, which were copies of the originals.

The experts studied the type font or style, spacing and other variables and deemed the memos legitimate, said the official.

If CBS’s evidence is such a (if I may borrow phrase) “slam dunk” why all the cloak-and-dagger nonsense? How about just putting all the cards on the table?

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NPR, the Killian Story and Blogs

By Steven Taylor @ 1:29 pm

Without a doubt the fact that more than rightishs blog and Fox News are talking about the real possibility that these documents are fakes demonstrates that there is indeed a story here-not just pro-Bush fantasies.

I heard a story on NPR’s All Things Considered last night that ended on what I thought was a peculiar note:

Finally, the questions about the memos have raised some questions themselves. The first doubts about the documents’ authenticity were apparently raised on a Weblog at 8:59 Wednesday night as the “60 Minutes” broadcast was ending. The blogger, according to the ABC News Web site, raised almost immediate questions about the font of the memos and the spacing of the letters, all of which would have been tricky to determine based on a fleeting appearance on a TV screen.

First, I thought it a slight that that was the only mention of blogs in the story. But more significantly it seems to me that there is a not-too-subtle suggestion that there is some kind of set-up going on here. Perhaps I am reading too much into that statement, but it sounds as if the NPR reporter is suggesting that someone knew about the documents prior to the airing of the program and was poised to attack. I am not sure if the idea is that someone leaked the documents to the blogger so as to start a disinformation campaign or if the suggestion is this was some kind of set-up or what. Regardless, it struck me as odd.

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Killian Fallout

By Steven Taylor @ 1:00 pm

One thing that concerns me about this Killian business is that it will further polarize the population in regards to where they get their information and whom it is they trust There are likely three camps emerging: those who get their news from the “mainstream press,” those who get it more from conservative-leaning sources: Fox, talk radio and certain blogs, and those who have thrown their hands up. (Update: Bill of INDC Jounral rightly notes (no pun intended) that there are also those on the left who primarily get their news for left-leaning blogs and opinion journals). Having partisan news sources isn’t all bad, but it is problematic when there seems to be a lack of a place to go that doesn’t seemed tainted.

And the mainstream press is as much to blame as issues of partisanship. Take Jayson Blair, for example, or the scandal as USAT. If the Killian docs do end up being forgeries, CBS will be radically tainted.

It is already clear to me that a certain pecentage of hardcore anti-Bush-ites are going to believe that these docs are authentic, no matter what, and a certain number of pro-Bush-ites wil believe them to be forgeries, no matter what.

Stories like this one don’t help (via ABC’s The Note):

ABCNEWS.com : Noted Now: ABC News’ Political News Digest:
HODGES SAID HE WAS MISLED BY CBS: Retired Maj. General Hodges, Killian’s supervisor at the Grd, tells ABC News that he feels CBS misled him about the documents they uncovered. According to Hodges, CBS told him the documents were “handwritten” and after CBS read him excerpts he said, “well if he wrote them that’s what he felt.”

Hodges also said he did not see the documents in the 70’s and he cannot authenticate the documents or the contents. His personal belief is that the documents have been “computer generated” and are a “fraud".

CBS responds: “"We believed Col. Hodges the first time we spoke with him. We believe the documents to be genuine. We stand by our story and will continue to report on it.”

And this: INDC Journal: HOT UPDATE: Dr. Bouffard Speaks About Boston Globe!

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911 Remembrance

By Steven Taylor @ 8:52 am

I would be remiss in not pointing out that Chad Evans had the idea of posting personal stories about our memories of 911. If you wish to participate, please be sure to link to ITB so that a central location will exist for links to these memories.

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A Timeline of That Day

By Steven Taylor @ 8:44 am

Chronology of terror - September 12, 2001

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Others Remembering

By Steven Taylor @ 8:34 am

Here is a list of other’s remembering (I will add sites as I find the during the day):

  • Chad Evans.
  • Robert Prather.
  • Blogs of War.
  • Jeff Quinton.
  • Dean Esmay.
  • Professor Chaos remembers a friend who died on AA Flight 11.
  • Kevin Alyward.
  • Mark the Pundit.
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  • Right On Red linked with What I Remember
  • Professor Chaos linked with Two Degrees of 9/11
  • Peaktalk linked with TURNING POINTS
Remembering September 11, 2001

By Steven Taylor @ 8:29 am

Three years ago today, at almost this exact time (I started writing at 7:55 central), I was in my office at Troy (then State) University. I had an 8:30am American National Government class and I was getting my stuff together and doing any number of miscellaneous tasks. Somewhere around this time one of my suitemates (there were three offices together with an antechamber) came out and said that his wife had called to say that an airplane had crashed into one of the World Trade towers. He didn’t know what kind of plane. Like everyone else, it seems like a likely accident. Indeed, I checked the net and the initial news was sketchy and at least one story seemed to indicate that it was a small plane.

News of the second crash had been given to me before going to my 8:30 class, but it was still very vague, and there was still no indication to me that either crash was a passenger jet, although the idea that it was possibly something criminal of worse was starting to become clear. Most of the news we were getting in delayed fashion from my suitemate’s wife over the phone. No doubt it was hard to tell how bad the news was, because this particular person was prone to getting easily excited-let’s just say he spoke the language of emotional hyperbole, making it sometimes difficult to know how seriously to take things he got excited about. Nothing about the second plane had made the net in time for me to check it before going to class.

I went to class disquieted, but having no clue as to what really had happened. I remember mentioning to my class that it seemed something was up—most of them had just rolled out of bed, so most hadn’t heard anything. I distinctly remember one student making a semi-joke that it was probably some stunt plane or some small jet which made a mistake. I recall his tone being that it wasn’t a big deal and was kind of funny. I remember saying that it seemed as if something else was going on, something more serious. There was some speculation in our discussion about terrorism, but again, it focused on the idea of small plane, and therefore relatively small damage. The idea that it was large, coordinated attack on more than one city wasn’t even in my mind

We had class and when I got out and returned to office, it was clear that something big was up. Via my suitemate’s wife, and then calling my own wife, we were at the stage in which it was clear we had been attacked, and it was utterly unclear as to how many planes had been hijacked. This was during the rumor stage when it was thought that there had been far more than four planes. Indeed, there was at least one rumor of car bombs in DC.

I tried to get info via the internet, but all the news sites were overloaded (eventually some would go to text-only, and we were able to get some news_. I remember finding some small-town newspaper whose site was still working to get some basic info. My other suite-mate, James Joyner, was also trying to find news via his computer.

We weren’t finding much, but shouted back and forth what we did find.

Finally, I went and got the one TV we have in the Department which is hooked to a VCR. We didn’t have cable or an antenna, but by putting the TV by my window I was able to tune in (kinda) one station, the NBC affiliate out of Montgomery. That’s when I saw the pictures for the first time, on a snowy TV screen: the pictures of the planes crashing into the Towers. It was on that screen that I heard the speculation, saw clips of the President, and eventually saw the Towers fall.

Students and the political science faculty all gathered around that television and watched together. Not surprisingly I cancelled by 11:30 class and continued to watch, many of the students from that class ended up staying in my office for a while.

We were transfixed and stunned.

I am not sure how long I stayed at the office—long enough for the main horror of the day to have occurred, and for the tragedy of it all to have settled in. I eventually went home to continue watching the coverage and to see, in vivid color (and over and over) the horrible scenes of the impact of those planes and the collapse of the Towers.

At home my wife, my mother and I just watched. My wife was pregnant with our third son at the time (he was born 16 days later). My then 4 year-old and 1 year-old blissfully had no idea what was going on. My 4 year-old simply understood that some planes had crashed. My mother, who was visiting from Arizona, was supposed to go home the next day, but obviously her visit was extended.

The news about DC and Washington National airport was personally stunning to me, a I had just been in DC that previous week and weekend, attending the Latin American Studies Association’s conference. It was surreal to have just been there and to have these attacks take place.

It is remarkable how a day like that can imprint clear memories that almost give you the ability to go back and be where you were that day. There are specific images of people and of actions that I can conjure from that day as though I were traveling in time in my own mind and looking through my own eyes three years ago.

Like all of us, it isn’t a day I am soon likely to forget.

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  • Backcountry Conservative linked with 9/11/04
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Friday, September 10, 2004
Gandelman on the Killian Docs

By Steven Taylor @ 11:40 am

Joe Gandelman of The Moderate Voice comments on the Killian docs. He does so from the perspective of a political independent and a former journalist. He also notes some maindstream press references to the role of blogs in this story.

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Sargent Schultz Might be More Accurate…

By Steven Taylor @ 11:24 am

Still: Funny

Hat tip: Jon Henke.

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Drum on the Killian Docs

By Steven Taylor @ 11:18 am

Kevin Drum:

Bottom line: these memos might be 100% genuine. But there are lots of legitimate questions about their origin and authenticity, and at a minimum CBS ought to make its own copies available for inspection and also ought to disclose the names of the typographic experts it consulted. Better yet would be convincing their source to either go public, allow inspection of the original memos, or at least allow a more thorough discussion of exactly where the documents came from.

Until then, I’m afraid skepticism is warranted. I hope CBS hasn’t gotten burned by crude forgeries, but like they say, hope is not a plan.

Kevin lists a number of reasons why such skepticism is warranted.

One of the aspects of this is that is quite fascinating is that if the documents are false, then CBS is in big trouble. Further, since it will damage a rival, look for ABC, NBC, CNN and such to hit this story hard.

In short, while I think that if these are forgies that it will have a negative politcal affect on Kerry (especially after Harkin came out yesterday and directly called Bush a liar), I think that the real story here is ultimately a media story.

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That Was Fast: More on the Forgery Story

By Steven Taylor @ 8:57 am

As per my post last night on the forgery question, it is noteworthy the alacrity with which the issue of the documents authenticity has been raised in the mainstream press. For example, today’s NYT: Commander’s Son Questions Memos on Bush’s Service

Farrell C. Shiver, a forensic document examiner based in Georgia who said he was a Republican, said the superscript “th’s” throughout the memos were “something you would expect to find being done with a computer” and were “not consistent with something that you would expect to find from someone typing a document; they used typewriters in that particular time.”

Mr. Shiver also said he was suspicious of the spacing in the memos and the curves in their apostrophes.

But he said that while the font seemed unusual for the period, “that does not prove that the documents are not genuine.”

Philip Bouffard, a forensic document specialist from Ohio who created a commonly used database of at least 3,000 old type fonts, said he had suspicions as well. “I found nothing like this in any of my typewriter specimens,” said Dr. Bouffard, a Democrat. He also said the fonts were “certainly consistent with what I see in Times Roman,” the commonly used Microsoft Word font.

However, Dr. Bouffard said, a colleague had called his attention to similarities between the font in the memos and that of the IBM Selectric Composer of the early 1970’s.

But he said it would be unusual for Mr. Bush’s commanding officer to have had the IBM machine because of its large size.

Dr. Bouffard said he would see if the fonts match more closely on Friday. “The problem I’m going to run into if this matches and Times Roman matches, to the extent of what we are able to see on these poor miserable copies that are passing around,'’ he said, “then I don’t think anybody’s going to be able to say for sure.'’

A senior executive at CBS said said, “We are convinced our source who got the documents had access to them and we trust the source.'’ He added, “Can we produce the typewriter they came from in 1972 or 1973? Obviously not.'’

No, but one wagers that one could find out what likely equipment was used at the time and obtain samples. Further, one could look at known memos from that same office to see if there is any evidence to suggest that other documents had similar fonts and spacing.

The following also occurred to me:

It has only been in the last ten years, maybe less, that most people used type-written materials easily and commonly. For example: when I worked in a law office in the early 1990s none of the attorney’s (save one newly minted associate) even had computers in their offices (these were guys in their 40s). What are the odds that a Lt. Colonel would be typing memos back in 1973?-especially memos to himself? If they had been typed by a secretary, common practice would have it that the initials of the secretary would be on the document, usually at the bottom left corner.

Further, assuming that advanced equipment was available that would have produced the fonts and spacing in question, would a Lt. Col know how to use it? more importantly, would he use it for a memo to a file?

It is most strange, to be sure.

We are so used to technology, especially with documents, that it is easy to forget the way it used to be.

James Joyner has more.

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I Question the Efficacy of this Move

By Steven Taylor @ 7:07 am

Kerry Pitching Health Care Solutions.

On the one hand, there is little doubt that health care is an issue that is on people’s minds and is also one which favors Democrats.

However, while talk of health care reform will play with Kerry’s base, I wonder as to the degree to which there is much traction to be gained with swing voters via this topic.

For one thing, every Democratic nominee every election talks about the cost of health care and promises to fix the problem, and then nothing happens. There is certain element of crying wolf here.

Further, when a President did try to do something major about it (Clinton in 1993), it led to great controversy and heavily contributed to the defeat of the Democrats in the 1994 mid-term elections. I think this is reflective of the fact the Americans like the idea of major health care reform, but hold no consensus on what it should look like, and further, when push comes to shove, they don’t like the price tag or the idea of increased governmental control over their medical care.

Let’s face facts: if HMO’s are supposedly so horrid and bureaucratic, what would a natioanl health care system be like? Certainly there is some visceral reaction by many on this issue.

Further, the health care question also creates the cost problem-there is no getting around the fact that it will requires increased spending-massive increased spending. This leave Democrats open to the “tax and spend liberal” attack. Further, since Kerry is decrying the deficit and criticizing Bush’s spending practives, he also leaves himsef open for attack on that flank, and there are two key ones: 1) he wants to spend and save (variations on a flip-flop) and 2) he will have to taise taxes to get what he wants.

I maintain that security is the main issue, the economy is next. Health care is well down the list, so given Kerry’s current poll position, it seems to me that he has to find a way to deal with the security question directly, rather than trying a laundry list of domestic programs.

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Thursday, September 9, 2004
Wowie-Kazowie: Troy Beats Missouri

By Steven Taylor @ 9:19 pm


Troy St. 24, Missouri 14.

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The Forgery Question

By Steven Taylor @ 8:39 pm

I spent a lot of the day in meetings (the reward for being Faculty Council President) and trying to get caught up on a bunch of minor tasks that have been piling up. As a result while I have been aware of the flap over the 60 Minutes Bush National Guard Documents that has been erupting today I am somewhat behind on the all the salient details.

I had a church function last night, so didn’t see 60 Minutes-indeed, while I had read about the interview with Ben Barnes (whom I know as a hardcore partisan Democrat from my days in Texas), I wasn’t planning on watching it and had forgotten all about it.

On balance, I am radically tired of this story (I was back the last time it erupted). I think that this tale is fundamentally different than the Kerry situation, because Bush isn’t basing his campaign on the fact that he once served in the Air National Guard-while Kerry is building his entire campaign on 4.5 months of his life that occurred over 30 years ago.

Indeed, I think that James Joyner in on the mark with the following comment:

a candidate’s military service matters only to the extent that it sheds light on his likely performance in office. This is especially true for those seeking the presidency, since it carries with it the hat of Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Armed Forces. But given that George W. Bush has been President for nearly four years, and leading a war effort for three of those, one would think that service as an 0-2 would be rather irrelevant at this stage. It would be rather like deciding whether to re-appoint Richard Myers to a second term as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff based on his performance as an ROTC cadet at Kansas State.

In regards to the documents, while it wll be fascinating if indeed they are forgeries, I cannot say one way or another, as I haven’t read enough to make an intelligent determination. I will say that I have seen enough to agree that there is enough questions to warrant further study. Things like the spacing and the superscript issues are curious, to be sure.

Quite a bit on this at Power Line, pacetown and
lgf (more than one post).

The thing that fascinates me most about this story to this point is that fact that it has clearly been driven by the Blogosphere. By the time the talk radio shows started at noon the issue had already been raised. And no doubt because of the Blogospheric reaction the main stream press is going to have to double check those docs. Sans blogs, the forgery angle may not have emerged, or it may have taken days to develop. As it stands, it took less than 24 hours for a reaction.

As such, the way this plays out is as much a story about Blogging as it is about Campaign 2004.

Most fascinating.

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Even More Polls

By Steven Taylor @ 7:59 pm

The WaPo/ABC News poll of likely voters has Bush up 52 to 43.

Hat tip: OTB.

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The Cheney Flap

By Steven Taylor @ 6:17 pm

Much has been made of the the following siad by Dick Cheney:

Because if we make the wrong choice, then the danger is that we’ll get hit again, that we’ll be hit in a way that will be devastating from the standpoint of the United States

Such a statement is awkward at best and certainly fair game for the Kerry campaign to attack.

However, I note that while the about bite is what has been predominantly played, the full quote goes like this:

Because if we make the wrong choice, then the danger is that we’ll get hit again, that we’ll be hit in a way that will be devastating from the standpoint of the United States, and that we’ll fall back into the pre-9/11 mind set if you will, that in fact these terrorist attacks are just criminal acts, and that we’re not really at war. I think that would be a terrible mistake for us.

Please note: Cheney is arguing that a Kerry administration would treat terrorism like a law enforcement issue, instead of one of war, and that (i.e, the “pre-9/11 mind set") would a “terrible mistake for us.”

Of course, even if Cheney had suggested outright that a Kerry presidency would mean less safety for the US, I would note a few other things:

1) The Daisy ad i.e, LBJ v. Goldwater: the direct argument of the ad: elect Goldwater and you’ll get a nuclear war.

2) The suggestions made in the 1980 campaign that Reagan was a warmonger who might lead us into nuclear war.

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

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More Polls

By Steven Taylor @ 5:15 pm

FOX News/Opinion Dynamics has a new poll out:

Two months before Election Day, the poll finds Bush receives the backing of 47 percent of likely voters and Kerry 45 percent. When independent candidate Ralph Nader (search ) is included the results are essentially unchanged: Nader three percent, Bush 47 percent and Kerry 43 percent.

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Speaking of Dallas-Based Restructuring…

By Steven Taylor @ 3:52 pm

First Delta, now Ross Perot’s old outfit: EDS could slash more than 10 percent of jobs

Electronic Data Systems Corp. could shed 15,000 to 20,000 workers in the next 2 1/2 years as it tries to cut $3 billion in costs, chief executive Michael H. Jordan said Thursday.

The computer services giant, based in Plano, is still planning the cuts and didn%u2019t offer specifics on which employees might lose their jobs. But EDS probably will continue its pattern of cutting its U.S. headcount while it spreads out to other parts of the globe, spokesman Jeff Baum said.

What do they expect? Jordan couldn’t run the Wizards, why did they think he could run a high tech firm?

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House of K

By Steven Taylor @ 11:25 am

The American Mind has the latest Kerry linkfest, the House of Kethcup.

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Number 17 Missouri is in Da House

By Steven Taylor @ 11:00 am

I must admit, it is pretty wild:

Your athletic director did what?!?

At Missouri…it looks like a case of Schedule Makers Gone Wild. On Thursday night, the No. 17 Tigers must go where no Top 25 team has gone before: to visit a Sun Belt Conference team. Scary Troy, which upset Marshall last week, to be exact. It’s only the fourth time in the four-year football history of the Sun Belt that it has hosted a BCS conference team, and it’s part of a 2-for-1 home-game deal the Tigers have with Troy. (Mizzou had a similar deal with Ball State, and also was crazy enough to be the first BCS visitor to Bowling Green two years ago - where it lost, 51-28.)

“I guess we’re trend-setters,” Missouri sports information director Chad Moller said. “A lot of these deals were done when our program was in the lesser stages. If those deals were done now, I don’t know whether they’d be the same - but they might be.”

And heck, this is our first year in the Sun Belt.

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USAT Poll: Swing States Swinging Towards Bush

By Steven Taylor @ 10:33 am

Bush gains in 2 key states

President Bush holds clear leads over Sen. John Kerry in the battlegrounds of Missouri and Ohio-states the president probably needs to hold to win re-election-according to USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup Polls.

Kerry is ahead in Washington state and tied with Bush in Pennsylvania, swing states that are similarly important to Democratic chances for victory.

The quartet of statewide polls reflects a race that remains competitive but is moving in Bush’s direction.

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  • Outside The Beltway � linked with Bush Leads in Missouri and Ohio
A Possible Response to the Iraq/Economy Line of Attack

By Steven Taylor @ 10:28 am

It would appear that Jeff Goldstein has already found a possible counter to Kerry’s charge that Iraq has cost too much. The source? Senator John Forbes Kerry.

Even better, the above cited statement that more funds were needed in Iraq precedes the famed vote on the $87 billion.

From MTP, August 31, 2003:

MR. RUSSERT: Do you believe that we should reduce funding that we are now providing for the operation in Iraq?

SEN. KERRY: No. I think we should increase it.

MR. RUSSERT: Increase funding.

SEN. KERRY: Yes.

MR. RUSSERT: By how much?

SEN. KERRY: By whatever number of billions of dollars it takes to win. It is critical that the United States of America be successful in Iraq, Tim.

While Kerry may still be able to make the argument about the economy and the drain thereto, these utterances by the Senator do give the Bush administration the perfect counter:, to borrow from Reagan: there he goes again, changing his mind on Iraq.

Now, of the ways to attack Iraq, I still think this is the smartest he has come up with to date, as it does allow for him to criticize the war without directly being seen as anti-security.

Setting aside the rightness or wrongness of funds going up or down, or on a specific vote, or whether or not Iraq is a drain on the economy, in pure political terms, Kerry has demonstrated a reamrkable ability to tie himself into rhetorical knots on policy. This would appear to be the signs of a man who really doesn’t know his own mind on these issues-and this is likely to lead to his electoral undoing.

Hat Tip: Mark the Pundit.

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This Could be Smart

By Steven Taylor @ 6:51 am

Kerry Links Iraq War, U.S. Economic Woes

Strategially, this could help Kerry. It allows him to attack Iraq for reasons other than security, per se. Further, there is no denying that the war has been, and will be, expensive.

The question becomes can Bush counter back by saying something along the lines of “could we have afforded not to go?” and thereby turnign the question back to security qua security. Futher, part of the power of this argument will be determined by how the public views the state of the economy. Were it worse, this argument would have more steam, no doubt. Lastly, Kerry is taking a gamble by more forcefully calling for withdrawal from Iraq, which may make him look weak on security, and give Bush an opening for attack?

Still, the linking of the economy and Iraq was a smart move and has the potential to alter the debate to some degree.

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Yet Again: Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Struck Down

By Steven Taylor @ 6:47 am

Judge Finds Abortion Ban Unconstitutional

U.S. District Judge Richard Kopf of Lincoln ruled against the measure Wednesday, saying Congress ignored the most experienced doctors when it determined that the banned procedure would never be necessary to protect the health of the mother-a finding he called “unreasonable.”

I have no problem with a provision that protects the life of the mother-this is only logical, as if a choice has to be made and in such a sad circumstance the life of the mother takes precedence. However, the idea that “health” should be taken into consideration is overly broad, as it strikes me as a sufficient loophole as to allow the procedure to be performed at the discretion of the doctor, which would mean the ban would have no effect, because any doctor willing to perform this rather gruesome procedure would no doubt be willing to state it was in the best interest of the “health” of the mother.

I remain vexed at the fervor with which this procedure is defended by the pro-choice contingent. If any abortion procedure can be described as infanticide, it is this one.

Having gone through three pregnancies with my wife, two of which had complications, I have an rather difficult time envisioning a scenario in which the best thing to do for the mother would be the partially birth the child, and then take the time to puncture its skull, remove its brains, and then deliver the now deceased child.

If the fact that banning such a procedure isn’t one of the great insanities of our time, I don’t know what is.

Certainly I have heard no evidence given, aside from that which is most nebulous, to suggest that this procedure should be legal and is a medical necessity. All I can figure is that any acknowledgement that a fetus in utero is a child is to undercut the abortion argument, and therefore something not to be allowed if at all possible by the pro-abortion sector of our society.

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Wednesday, September 8, 2004
Canadians Conned by Colombians

By Steven Taylor @ 12:38 pm

Think of it as “NAFTA South” (kinda).

Canada is conned into taking rebels

Three men are behind bars in Colombia and more arrests are expected following the discovery of an elaborate scheme that has duped the Canadian Embassy in Bogota into granting refugee status in Canada to undeserving applicants.

Officials in the Colombian public prosecutor’s office estimate that, this year alone, at least 50 citizens of the violence-plagued South American country have fraudulently obtained residence in Canada as a result of the scam, run by civil servants employed by Colombia’s National Senate.

One Colombian official told the Toronto Star that some of the bogus refugees are members of one or another of the country’s two left-wing guerrilla armies, which have been fighting against government forces for decades in a conflict that has made Colombia one of the world’s most violent countries.

“The investigators believe that some of the guerrillas have got to Canada,” said the official. “It is known that they are guerrillas.”

[…]

According to the Colombian public prosecutor’s office, corrupt officials employed by the human rights commission of the national senate have surreptitiously been providing fake documents to people wishing to emigrate, charging up to 12 million Colombian pesos, or about $6,100 , in each case.

These documents offer bogus confirmation that the bearer has been the victim of a threat of kidnapping or assassination from left-wing guerrillas or the right-wing paramilitary outfits that also roam Colombia’s tormented political landscape.

In some cases, the bearers of these documents have also appeared before the country’s public prosecutor’s office, known as the fiscalia, in order to register an official complaint about the supposed threats, hoping to acquire yet more documentary proof of persecution.

The claimants then approach the immigration section of Canada’s embassy in Bogota to apply for refugee status under an unusual Canadian statute that permits some people to seek political asylum from within their own borders.

The Canadian diplomat in Bogota said such claims are not automatically approved. “It is certainly not a slam-dunk. It’s not as if referral equals interview equals acceptance.”

He agreed, however, that refugee claimants with supporting material from Colombian government agencies stand a greater chance of being granted a Canadian visa.

I know it shouldn’t be funny, but somehow I find the whole idea of being conning the Canadian embassy to be amusing.

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Army Officier Responsible for Murder of Union Leaders in Colombia

By Steven Taylor @ 12:13 pm

Bogota Says Army Killed Union Chiefs:

The attorney general’s office said late Monday that Colombian soldiers assassinated three union leaders last month, an account that contrasts sharply with the army’s earlier contention that the three men were Marxist rebels killed in a firefight.

The attorney general’s human rights unit on Monday ordered the arrest of an army officer, two soldiers and a civilian who took part in the killings of Jorge Eduardo Prieto, Leonel Goyeneche and Héctor Alirio Martínez on Aug. 5 in Saravena, a town long besieged by leftist rebels. Since 2002, American military trainers have been instructing Colombian soldiers there in counterguerrilla techniques, though it is unclear if the Americans trained the unit accused of killing the union leaders.

[…]

Colombia is by far the world’s most dangerous country for union members, with 94 killed last year and 47 slain by Aug. 25 this year, according to the National Union School, a research and educational center in Medellín. Most of those killings were by right-wing paramilitary leaders linked to rogue army units. Worldwide, 123 union members were slain last year, according to the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, a Brussels-based group.

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Russia Terror Video

By Steven Taylor @ 11:18 am

Chad Evans of InTheBullpen.com
notes that the terrorists who seized the Russian school in Beslan took time out of their horror-making to videotape the activity. As Chad speculates, the video was either a means to spread their message of fear to the populace or for training purposes, or both.

Chad links to wire service stills and several stories describing the event and the video,

The photos in question are not graphic, but instead are chilling: 1000 hostages crammed into a school gym where bombs have been strapped to the wall and the like.

The sheer evil of the event is overwhelming and sickening. And yes, I have no trouble labeling it as such-I can think of not other appropriate description.

Update: Even more via Rusty Shackleford (extenstive coverage) and Jeff Quinton (linkage to other blogging the subject).

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Delta Restructuring

By Steven Taylor @ 8:25 am

Wow: Delta dramatically cuts flights from D/FW

Delta flights from Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport will go from 254 daily to 21 under a sweeping restructuring plan announced this morning.

[…]

Pulling most of its service out of D/FW is part of a series of far-reaching changes to Delta’s business plan aimed at saving the company more than $5 billion a year.

The company also plans to:

• Eliminate between 6,000 and 7,000 jobs over the next 18 months and reduce management costs by 15 percent through pay and benefit reductions.

• Ask its pilots union to give back $1 billion in wages and benefits.

• Simplify its aircraft, eliminating at least four fleet types in the next four years.

The air service changes are scheduled to take effect by Jan. 31.

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Zogby’s Post-Convention Poll

By Steven Taylor @ 8:06 am

In case you didn’t notice the number in the Toast-O-Meter, here’re Zogby’s numbers:

Now the first polls are out. I have Mr. Bush leading by 2 points in the simple head-to-head match up - 46% to 44%. Add in the other minor candidates and it becomes a 3 point advantage for the President - 46% to 43%. This is no small achievement. The President was behind 50% to 43% in my mid-August poll and he essentially turned the race around by jumping 3 points as Mr. Kerry lost 7 points. Impressive by any standards.

He goes on to explain why the Time and polls differ from his own (it is an issue of over-sampling Reps, as you may have heard/read).

Zogby continues:

None of this takes away from the President’s achievement. He got out of his party’s convention everything he needed to launch his campaign in earnest in the closing two months. But my poll still reveals lurking shadows for him. He still has a net negative job performance rating, a negative re-elect (i.e. more voters think it is time for someone new than feel he deserves re-election) and a net negative wrong direction for the country.

The poll also suggests that Mr. Kerry is behind and has a lot of work to do to refocus the campaign on the issues that must work for him: the economy, health care, and the execution of the war in Iraq. We also see now that at least in the short run, the advertising campaign against the Senator about his military service in Vietnam has raised questions about his integrity and has caused his personal unfavorable numbers to jump.

Dale at Daly Thoughts discusses the oversampling issues as well.

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Areas of Central Iraq not under Control

By Steven Taylor @ 6:29 am

Confronting Insurgents: U.S. Conceding Rebels Control Regions of Iraq-which leads to the following problem (amongst others):

There is increasing concern in the administration over plans for the election, with some officials saying that if significant parts of the Sunni areas cannot be secured by January, it may be impossible to hold a nationwide balloting that would be seen as legitimate. Putting off the elections, though, would infuriate Iraq’s Shiite majority. The elections are for an assembly that is to write a new constitution next year. Mr. Rumsfeld warned that the violence would intensify as elections approached.

The story also has an interesting graphic delimiting the increased numbers of attacks over the last several months.

And one would like to see the following work, but I have my doubts, given that I am unconvinced that a) these groups are all controlled by Iraqis, and b) that those which are will be amenable to negotiation:

“The prime minister and his team fully understand that it is important that there not be areas in that country that are controlled by terrorists,” he said, adding that Dr. Allawi would deal with the problem by “negotiation and discussion” in some cases and by force in others.

Other administration officials, amplifying the secretary’s comments, said the administration had decided to let Dr. Allawi try to persuade rebel leaders to join the process of reconstructing Iraq, or suffer the consequences if they did not.

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Log Cabin Republicans Decline to Endorse Bush

By Steven Taylor @ 6:24 am

Gay Republican Group Won’t Endorse Bush

Leaders of the largest group for gay men and lesbians in the Republican Party voted overwhelmingly against endorsing President Bush for re-election because he favors a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, The New York Times said on Wednesday.

The board of the Log Cabin Republicans voted 22-2 on Tuesday night against endorsing Bush, the newspaper said, citing a spokesman for the group.

Log Cabin in 2000 endorsed Bush against Democrat Al Gore, and in 1996 endorsed Republican Bob Dole against incumbent Democrat Bill Clinton (news - web sites).

[…]

The group has also criticized what it calls “flip-flops” by John Kerry (news - web sites), the Democratic presidential nominee, for statements that he opposes same-sex marriages but also opposes amending the Constitution to ban it.

It is unclear if they are endorsing Kerry. My guess is that they won’t end up endorsing anyone.

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More Bush Guard Records Found, Released

By Steven Taylor @ 6:21 am

Report: Pentagon Releases More Bush Military Records

The 17 pages of documents released on Tuesday night show that Bush flew 336 hours in a fighter jet, most recently in April 1972, and ranked 22nd out of 53 pilots when he finished flight training at Moody Air Force Base in Georgia in 1969, it said.

The document, however, “will not resolve the standoff between Mr. Bush and the Democrats which is about where, when and how often Mr. Bush showed up for National Guard duty in Alabama in 1972 and 1973,” the newspaper said.

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Toon

By Steven Taylor @ 6:18 am

Who knew?

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Tuesday, September 7, 2004
Interesting

By Steven Taylor @ 7:37 pm

Tivo, Netflix Close to Internet Movie Deal - Report

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Stan Lee: Dirty Old Man?

By Steven Taylor @ 7:36 pm

Ok, first there was that whole Stripperella bit on Spike TV, now we have Hugh Hefner, Stan Lee Hop to ‘Superbunnies’

A silk pajama-clad superhero fights crime with the aid of a superbuxom team of specially trained Playboy bunnies.

[…]

MTV has ordered an animated pilot for “Hef’s Superbunnies,” a collaboration between cartoon veteran Lee’s newly launched Pow! Entertainment and Playboy’s Alta Loma Entertainment division. Hefner’s name and likeness will be featured in the pilot, and he also might provide the voice of his cartoon alter ego.

Yikes. This from the man who created Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, the X-Men, the Hulk, and so many others…

Somehow making cheesey toons about bouncing heroines seems like an odd way to end a career.

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Kristol on Kerry and Wrong Wars and Such

By Steven Taylor @ 12:53 pm

Bill Kristol has a brief entry online that is choice:

JOHN KERRY said yesterday that Iraq was “the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time.” Translation: We would be better off if Saddam Hussein were still in power.

Not an unheard of point of view. Indeed, as President Bush pointed out today, it was Howard Dean’s position during the primary season. On December 15, 2003, in a speech at the Pacific Council on International Policy in Los Angeles, Dean said that “the capture of Saddam Hussein has not made America safer.” Dean also said, “The difficulties and tragedies we have faced in Iraq show the administration launched the war in the wrong way, at the wrong time, with inadequate planning, insufficient help, and at the extraordinary cost, so far, of $166 billion.”

But who challenged Dean immediately? John Kerry. On December 16, at Drake University in Iowa, Kerry asserted that “those who doubted whether Iraq or the world would be better off without Saddam Hussein, and those who believe today that we are not safer with his capture, don’t have the judgment to be president or the credibility to be elected resident.”

Indeed.

If Kristol of the Weekly Standard give you hives, here’s the USAT story which contains the quote in question: Saddam’s capture forces Dean to reshape message.

From the 12/17/03 BoGlo we get this somewhat amusing tidbit from Kerry from the Drake University speech:

Flanked by a dozen American flags and two rows of veterans and students at a Drake University auditorium in Des Moines, Kerry criticized not only President Bush for pursuing a policy of “unilateralism and ideological preemption,” but also “those in my own party” - naming Dean a few moments later - “who threaten to take us down a road of confusion and retreat.”

Funny because I, at least, find his Iraq policy, such as it is, quite confusing and further, Kerry himself promised this week to withdraw from Iraq by the end of his first term.

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Happy Birthday, ESPN

By Steven Taylor @ 8:46 am

ESPN is 25 today.

George Will comments.

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Fighting in Sadr City

By Steven Taylor @ 8:13 am

So much for Sadr and his minions doing the the political party route: Fierce Clashes in Iraq Kill 34 People

U.S. forces battled insurgents loyal to Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr in the Baghdad slum of Sadr City on Tuesday, in clashes that killed 34 people, including one American soldier, and wounded 193, U.S. and Iraqi authorities said.

[…]

Al-Sadr led a three-week uprising in the holy city of Najaf that ended 10 days ago with a peace deal that allowed his Mahdi militia fighters to walk away with their guns. The combat in Najaf left thousands dead and devastated much of the city.

Many Mahdi militiamen are believed to have returned to their stronghold in Sadr City.

Jeff Quinton has more.

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Wabbit Season! Duck Season! No, it’s the Official Campaign Season Toast-O-Meter!

By Steven Taylor @ 7:55 am


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


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

.

Well, it is always said that the Official Presidential CampaignTM starts after Labor Day, and here we are. Of course, to even the more casual of observers it is clear that we have been in the mano a mano phase since late February/early March.

This Week’s Toast-O-Meter reading

This has clearly been Bush’s week.

A successful convention, two polls with a double-digit Bush leads (and another with a 7-point lead), and Kerry having to engage in some re-organization all register as Wonder Bread for Bush.

On the other hand, the flames can be seen for Mr. Kerry for various signs of desperation, including reshuffling his staff and being told by President Clinton to tone down the ‘Nam talk. The fact that national security has become the issue doesn’t help Kerry either.

It ain’t over until one of these gentlemen is permanently toast, to be sure. However, at the moment, Kerry is approaching French-looking Toast

ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL


  • Bush and Kerry Trade Jabs on Campaign Trail.

  • Presidential Candidates Hit Midwest.
  • Kerry Takes Outsourcing Attack to N.C.
    McCain: Kerry’s Criticism of Bush Unfair
    “John Kerry’s characterization that the president is unfit for duty is unfair,” said McCain, a Republican senator from Arizona. “I categorically reject that just as I categorically reject allegations that Senator Kerry didn’t serve honorably.”

  • Swing-State Distortions: A Presidential Campaign Tinged With Rust

Brewing Issues

The Republicans have succeeded in making security, and specifically terrorism, the focal point of the campaign. Kerry must respond, and citing the number of people who need health insurance isn’t going to be sufficient. Unless some especially bad economics numbers come out (for example, if September job creation numbers are especially bad, or, if we lose jobs in September—which seems unlikely) then I am not sure that security will be eclipsed.

Kerry’s problem here are manifold. First, trying to compare Bush to Hoover is a dead end, in my opinion. For one thing, it is demonstrably the case that the current economy, net job losses or not, simply does not look like Hoover’s. For another, do most voters know who Hoover was? The guy who invented the vacuum cleaner or that FBI dude who allegedly wore dresses? Seriously: aside from a vague notion that something economically bad happened when Hoover was president is about all people know, if that. It is hardly a blazing memory seared, seared I say, in the minds of voters. If you want a President who is emblematic of a bad economy who people would remember cite Carter. Never mind, he was Democrat.

Second, while generically speaking the health care issue does resonate with the public, but it does not appear to be the case that public sentiment has shifted all that much since the early 1990s when the Clinton attempt at major health care reform resulted in a political disaster for the Clinton administration and contributed to the 1994 debacle at the ballot box for the Democrats. Further, by making promises on health care, Kerry opens up the ability for the Bush administration to attack Kerry as a Big Government Tax-and-Spend Massachusetts Liberal.

Third, Kerry’s lack of clarity on Iraq blunt his attacks on the President. Also, Kerry’s promise to withdraw troops from Iraq may please his base, but it sends a signal of weakness, calling into question as to whether he is really willing to fight the war on terror. Certainly that is the spin the Bush administration will put on the stance.

Indeed, in viewing the headlines, Robert Tagorda notes that despite the Kerry campaign’s desire to attack on domestic issues, that they are having trouble escaping security.


  • Bush, Kerry Clash Over Latest Jobs Report.

  • Kerry, Bush Duel Over Medicare, Terror War.
  • Kerry Needles Bush Over Health Care, Jobs.
  • Bush Reiterates Call for a Simpler Tax System.
  • In this NYT piece, Kerry Enlisting Clinton Aides in Effort to Refocus Campaign, we find out that President Clinton tells Kerry to take the focus off of Viet Nam. Good advice, but it may be too late.
  • Kerry Attacks Bush on Handling of Iraq.
  • Bush Says Kerry Tax Plan a Threat to Workers.
  • The Candidates: Bush and Kerry Clash Over Iraq and a Timetable.

POLLING

  • Time: 11 point lead for Bush.
  • Newsweek: 11 point lead for Bush.
  • USA/CNN/Gallup: 7 point lead for Bush.
  • Kevin Drum notes several polls that will inspire more Democratic confidence than either the Time or Newsweek polls.
  • Zogby has Bush up by 2: 46-44 (with 9% undecided).
  • Rasmussen shows only a 1 point lead for Bush.
  • Mickey Kaus has much to say on polls (click and scroll-I am still at a loss as to why Slate can’t buy Mr. Kaus real live permalinks).
  • Political Wire has a run down of the latest polling, with some links to explanations and some state-level numbers to boot.
  • Joe Gandelman has extensive comments on the most recent polls.
  • Dave Wissing has the national head-to-head numbers.

THE OLD COLLEGE TRY

  • Electoral College Scoreboard: Bush 305 Kerry 233.
  • Check out the latest at Election Projection - 2004 Edition.
  • As always, Dave Wissing has the state-by-state numbers.
  • Daly Thoughts and Dales’ Electoral College Breakdown has some new state-level numbers. Click and scroll.
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The Flip-Flopping Web Site

By Steven Taylor @ 7:51 am

Well, it is gone again.

The symbolism here is rich.

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It Took Him Over a Year to Cook This One Up?

By Steven Taylor @ 7:34 am

I’ve heard it enough times now to know that Kerry’s new line (that the “W” in George W. Bush stands for “wrong") is here to stay. My question is: he has been running for president for over a year, and it took this long to cook up this slogan? And further, with all that time this is the best he can come up with?

Must be those new advisers.

Dave Wissing comments on the slogan as well.

Further, wouldn’t it have flowed better if Kerry had picked a “w” word that didn’t have a silent “w"? You know: woeful, wasted opportunities, warmonger, a waste, weak, worst. (Or even “wigwam"-sure, it makes no sense, but it is fun to say “wigwam").

Actually, a litany of “w” words would’ve been rhetorically more interesting than just plain ol’ “wrong.” Again, that silent “w” bugs me.

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Helpful Headline of the Day

By Steven Taylor @ 6:44 am

Cheney May Help or Hinder Bush’s Chances.

Nothing gets by those folks at the AP! Although it is possible that he will have no effect whatsoever, I suppose.

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Monday, September 6, 2004
Debate Politics

By Steven Taylor @ 7:10 pm

Before anyone launches forth on how three presidential debates are a sacrosacnt number, or that the best debater always wants more debates, let me remind you of a historical fact that I had forgotten about until Larry Sabato mentioned it on TV this evening: in 1996 the Clinton campaign limited the number of debates to 2 (yes, two)-down from the 3 that had taken place between Bush and Clinton in 1992.

This fits my earlier thesis quite well: the sitting President usually wants to limit the number of debates because it limits the exposure of the challenger and cuts down on the number of events wherein the challenger and the incumbent are treated as equals.

Clearly the reason the Clinton campaign wanted two rather than three had nothing to do with Dole’s fierce debating skills or a concern that Dole would best Clinton. So when the Bush administration attempts to limit the number to two, just keep history in mind.

From the NYT (9/18/96):

The Clinton aides proposed three debates of two hours each; two debates would feature the Presidential candidates and one would feature the Vice-Presidential candidates. In addition to Mr. Perot’s presence in at least one debate, the aides said one debate should be in the town-meeting format, at which Mr. Clinton has shown special skill. They proposed Oct. 6, 9 and 13 for the sessions.

Mr. Dole’s team today proposed three one-on-one debates with Mr. Clinton, each lasting 75 minutes, on Oct. 6, 13 and 21.

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How About a 7 Pont Lead?

By Steven Taylor @ 6:52 pm

If 11 seemed like probably too much (and it did) how about 7? So says the USAT/CNN/Gallup Poll, at least among likely voters. Among registered voters, the lead is only 2 points.

In terms of the likely voters, the number indicates a 5-point convention bounce, which was the number I pegged as necessary for the convention to be deemed a success.

And clearly, it was:

the New York convention has reshaped views of the political landscape and the candidates in ways helpful to the GOP. Views of whether Bush has the personality and leadership qualities to be president improved by 6 points; those of Kerry declined by 14 points.

And the importance of terrorism — the major issue on which Bush has an advantage — surged. Voters now say terrorism is as important as the economy, and more important than the war in Iraq, in determining their vote. The president is preferred by 27 points over his challenger in handling terrorism, up from a 10-point edge last month. By 2-to-1, those surveyed say the chances of a terrorist attack against the USA would be less if Bush rather than Kerry were elected.

Read the bold section again.

Also, the number of voters actually voting for Kerry (as opposed to simply against Bush) remain a distinct minority:

The president is driving both sides of the ballot: eight of 10 of his supporters say they are voting for Bush; half of Kerry voters say they are voting against Bush.

Considering that turn-out may be the deciding factor in this race, these numbers shold hearten the Bush folks and should concern Camp Kerry.

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Spot the Lie and Get Back to Me

By Steven Taylor @ 4:08 pm

Since it’s back I can comment on the last one on the list:

Bush Lies About Kerry’s View of Coalition.

143. Bush: “In the midst of war, he has called America’s allies, quote, a “coalition of the coerced and the bribed.” That would be nations like Great Britain, Poland, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Denmark, El Salvador, Australia, and others allies that deserve the respect of all Americans, not the scorn of a politician. I respect every soldier, from every country, who serves beside us in the hard work of history. America is grateful, and America will not forget.”

On CNN Kerry called the coaltion partners “window dressing”:

HEMMER: The White House would say that dozens of countries are helping now in the effort on the ground in Iraq and they are engaged with the U.N., as well, how would more international involvement prevent the violence we’re seeing today?

KERRY: Well, the fact is that those countries are really window dressing to the greatest degree. And they weren’t there in the beginning when we went in, and they’re not carrying the cost of this war.

And he did refer to the coaltion as one that was “coerced” and “bribed":

“If the federal government, my friends, can find billions of dollars in order to create a coalition of the coerced and the bribed, why can’t it provide vital aid for schools, health care and law enforcement in California?” he said. -WaPo, 3/14/03

Where’s the lie? That Kerry said it? No, he did. That those countries are involved? No, there are. That these countries deserve respect? Surely Kerry doesn’t think that Bush believes that they deserve scorn. That Bush respects them or that they deserve gratitude from the US? I don’t see any lies there, either.

Most odd.

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Clinton Surgery Goes Well

By Steven Taylor @ 3:53 pm

Clinton Has Successful Quadruple Bypass

Bill Clinton underwent a successful quadruple heart bypass operation Monday to relieve clogged arteries, three days after checking himself into the hospital complaining of chest pain and shortness of breath.

“He is recovering normally at this point,” said Dr. Craig R. Smith, the surgeon who led the four-hour operation. “I think right now everything looks straightforward.”

Clinton, 58, was awake but sedated about four hours after the operation ended, said Dr. Allan Schwartz, chief of cardiology at New York Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia hospital. He still was using a breathing tube and had not spoken yet, he said.

Several of Clinton’s arteries were more than 90 percent blocked, Schwartz said.

Smith said Clinton could leave the hospital in four or five days. He said it takes two to three months for similar patients to fully recover.

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It’s Gone! Back

By Steven Taylor @ 3:38 pm

The Kerry Press Release that has been roundly criticized in the Blogosphere, and noted in the previous post is gone. If you click the link you get Page Not Found (404). It was taken down sometime between 3:15 and 3:40 central, as I had been looking at it a few minutes ago and went back to cut and paste one of the points for a post and it was gone.

Did anyone save a copy?

Update: Never mind, it’s back and seems unaltered.

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Not Re-Tooling Fast Enough, It Would Seem

By Steven Taylor @ 2:58 pm

This morning, James Joyner noted a press release at the Kerry website that lists purported “Lies, Mischaracterizations, Distortions, And Half-Truths” from the RNC. The memo is nothing more than a list of quotes from convention speeches with titles.

I see that Jay Tea had the same response that I did:

It’s called a list of lies, but it’s merely 143 “talking points” from the convention.

That’s it. No rebuttal, no individual attention, no supporting evidence. Just listing the talking points under the title “Lies, Mischaracterizations, Distortions, And Half-Truths” is all the proof they think they need to reinforce the True Believers, sway the Doubters, and utterly discredit the Heretics.

Indeed, I almost posted a comment at the time. It is a most strange list of quotes, insofar if you took the exact same list, changed the title to “Bush Supporters Counter Kerry” and posted the list on the Bush web site it could almost be a Bush press release because the quotes sans rebuttal are all positive vis-a-vis Bush. Even most of the bullet points are written in the affirmative, e.g., “Bush Works Across Party Lines". As you get down the list you find some written in the negative, like “Bush Lies About Cost of Kerry’s Programs” but you have to go to the end of the list to find those.

It would seem that the Kerry folks still need to do some retooling.

The Shape of Days noticed as well.

Update: So has Chris Lawrence.

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Violence in Iraq

By Steven Taylor @ 2:24 pm

In commenting on the car bombing in Iraq Mark A. R. Kleiman notes:

The bad guys don’t need active majority support to make our lives miserable; it’s enough if our opponents have people willing to kill and die for the cause and our supporters don’t. That seems to be the case right now, and I don’t see what’s going to change it. If this isn’t Vietnam, then it’s Algeria.

I agree with the first half of the statement: it doesn’t take many people to cause massive trouble. However, I think classifying it as either Viet Nam or Algeria at this point is quite premature.

It is possible to have ongoing violence persist whilst actually still having democratic (or, at least quasi-democratic) civil government. The Colombians manage, for example. While hardly an example that one would want to emulate, it isn’t Viet Nam or Algeria, either. Of course, it is too early to even call it Colombia, either, I will readily allow. The situation remains in flux.

And, for that matter, Iraq may end up being Iraq-not all cases can be neatly analogized. Until we see how the movement towards elections and a permanent constitution is fully underway, then it strikes me as rather difficult to accurately categorize the situation.

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True Capitalist Never Rest

By Steven Taylor @ 12:50 pm

Joe Grossberg: Carnival of the Capitalists.

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What Shall We Call it: “Quasilateral"? It Sure isn’t Uni

By Steven Taylor @ 12:10 pm

It surely isn’t “unilateral” as Kerry claims, that’s for sure. Via Redsugar Muse I came across the following from Reuters:

While one can aruge over the numbers, to claim that the Bush administration has pursued a “go it alone” foreign policy is demonstrably false.

Gee whiz, there are Germans and French in Afghanistan, so to aruge that we alienated our allies is also quite incorrect.

This is not a unique or new observation, to be sure, but I continue to be amazed that Kerry keeps making this claim.

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The Prez and Big Mo’

By Steven Taylor @ 11:38 am

Writes Michael Barone:

When I was in the political polling business, my boss, Peter Hart, used to say, “He who frames the issues tends to determine the outcome of the election.” In his Thursday night speech at the Republican National Convention, George W. Bush framed the issues in a magisterial address that sent him a long way toward winning the general election and that sent him some smaller distance toward effective governance in a second term.

This goes along with a round-up of other columnist that James Joyner entitles (stealing from Bill Safire) The Comeback Prez.

It is far, far, far from over, but it is clear that the Bush campaign has seized the momentum in a way that neither the Kerry campaign nor the press expected to be possible. Many have been lulled by “The Rules” (e.g., voters make up their minds on fthe incumbent first, the whole approval rating game, etc.). As I have noted before, “the Rules” aren’t all that helpful this year given the nture of the debate and structural conditions in the electorate.

And in terms of controlling the debate, the Kerry campaign’s Viet Nam gambit is clearly failing. As Joyner rightly notes:

The big strategic blunder of the Kerry campaign was to pin so much of their hope on Vietnam. It was an obvious loser, frankly. In the last three elections, the candidate with the more impressive military record lost. Indeed, Bill Clinton may have forever inoculated candidates without military service from charges of unfitness to serve as Commander-in-Chief.

As I have written dozens of times now: “I served and he didn’t” is not an argument as to why Kerry would be a better CinC.

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Yet, He Still Would Have Voted for it?

By Steven Taylor @ 11:19 am

Kerry on Iraq: Wrong War, Wrong Place, Wrong Time:

Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry on Monday called the invasion of Iraq “the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time” and said his goal was to withdraw U.S. troops in his first White House term.

[…]

“I would not have done just one thing differently than the president on Iraq, I would have done everything differently than the president on Iraq,” Kerry said.

No joke:

The Massachusetts senator, who has said he would have voted to give Bush the authority to use force if necessary against Iraq even if he had known at the time that Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction, has struggled to draw clear contrasts with the president.

So, he would have done everything differently, but he still would have voted for the authorization to utilize force? Square peg meet round hole.

And what does this mean?

He pledged to internationalize the forces in Iraq and do a better job of fighting “a more effective, smarter” war on terror that he said would actually make Americans safer.

What would a more effective, smarter” war on terror look like? Aside from being “better” than the one currently being fought?

And where, where, where are these additional international troops going to come from?

Update: Pejman Yousefzadeh makes the same point and rightly concludes:

John Kerry and his campaign get upset when the charge of “flip-flopper” is applied to them. Unfortunately, they continue to give us every indication that the charge should stick.

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Heart to Heart

By Steven Taylor @ 11:14 am

Cheney Telephones Clinton to Wish Him Well

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What’s Wrong with the British?

By Steven Taylor @ 11:10 am

k, I dig Dr. Honeydew, but beating Spock and The Doctor? What’re they smokin’ in the UK? Muppet Scientists Named Most Popular Screen Boffins

Muppets Dr Bunsen Honeydew and his assistant Beaker defeated Dr Strangelove, Dana Scully of “X Files” fame and Star Trek’s Mr Spock to be voted Britain’s favorite screen scientists on Monday.

They beat their closest rival by a margin of 2 to 1 and won 33 percent of the 43,000 votes cast in an Internet poll.

Spock came in a distance second with 15 percent followed by The Doctor, from Dr Who, who garnered 13 percent. Scully, the only woman in the poll, came in sixth.

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The New Odd Couple?

By Steven Taylor @ 10:27 am

I heard about this on the Dan Patrick Show on Friday and was reminded of it by Mark Hasty this morning:

Conservative radio kingpin Rush Limbaugh, 53, who announced his separation from his third wife, Marta, in early June, is dating CNN anchor Daryn Kagan, 41, a spokesman for Limbaugh has confirmed to us. The two were spotted at a party Limbaugh co-hosted at a New York restaurant, where guests included Vice President Cheney, New York Gov. George Pataki and Sen. Bill Frist. The coupling came as a surprise to some friends who consider the Atlanta-based Kagan part of the liberal media axis and a feminist - but, then again, opposites attract. Kagan, who has been with CNN for 10 years, hosts “CNN Live Today,” which airs from 10 a.m. to noon, ending just in time to catch her sweetie’s three-hour radio show.

To steal from Mark (and the same thought I had on Friday): Carville-Matalin Part Deux?

Peter King of SI alludes to the situation here:

Say it ain’t so, Daryn Kagan. Please, please, please. Say it ain’t so.

Ok, while Mr. King perhps should let cupid do his thing, I say that I am mighty fond of his predictions for the NFC-East.

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More on Fighting Fair

By Steven Taylor @ 10:09 am

Wow, is this fair? Roger L. Simon doesn’t think so. Meanwhile, a new term has been coined to describe it.

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Clinton in Surgery

By Steven Taylor @ 9:33 am

Former President Clinton Undergoes Heart Surgery

Doctors began heart bypass surgery on former U.S. President Bill Clinton at a top New York hospital early on Monday morning, CNN reported.

The cable network reported that hospital sources said the operation was being led by Dr. Craig Smith, chief of caridothoracic surgery at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, and would take up to five hours. Spokesmen for the hospital and for the former president declined to comment.

I hadn’t commented on this situation when the news first broke, but I will say now that I wish the President well and pray that the doctors have all success in this process.

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Sunday, September 5, 2004
Fine Tuning at Camp Kerry

By Steven Taylor @ 8:41 pm

It strikes me as rather late in the process to be doing this, but then again, Kerry has demonstrated the ability to adapt in the past, so I shall reserve judgment: Kerry Reshapes Campaign

Under fire to shape up his presidential campaign, Democratic challenger John F. Kerry on Sunday tapped two veteran party strategists from Boston to assume top roles in an operation that has been criticized by Democratic allies for allowing President Bush to regain the initiative in the battle for the White House.

Campaign officials said John Sasso, who has been running general election operations at the Democratic National Committee (DNC), will now become the senior Kerry adviser aboard the candidate’s traveling charter until the election. Michael Whouley, who helped rescue Kerry’s campaign in Iowa during the nomination battle, will take over Sasso’s responsibilities at the DNC, reprising the role he played for Al Gore four years ago.

I think it does clearlyu demonstrate that the Kerry campaign isn’t where they thought they would be at this point in time, however.

And methinks that this is pure spin:

Kerry advisers described the moves as long planned and part of an overall effort to put the strongest possible team together for the final 60 days of the campaign. But the decisions, which caught some staff members at the campaign and DNC by surprise, were seen by other Democrats as an acknowledgement by Kerry that his campaign needed help in the wake of the most difficult month he has endured since winning the nomination last spring.

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Ibrahim Captured..Not!

By Steven Taylor @ 8:25 pm

Diggers Realm reports the unfortunate news that the Iraqis blew it: the report of Ibrahim’s captured were, shall we say, greatly exaggerated.

Too bad.

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Southern Sense

By Steven Taylor @ 8:21 pm

All is forgiven: former student Clint has linked me.

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Drum in the NYT

By Steven Taylor @ 3:04 pm

Robert Tagorda points to a book review in the NYT by Kevin Drum of Arthur M. Schlesinger’s War and the American Presidency.

First off, congrats to Kevin for making the pages of the Times

Second, as difficult as I find his logic to follow at times, I would echo Stephen Bainbridge’s statement that when I have had e-mail exchanges with Kevin and he has been polite and reasonable and that, as I have said before, I find Kevin’s blog to be a reasonable one-although again, I think that he often is blinded by partisanship ( a charge he would no doubt level at me, I suspect).

Third, since I often note where I disagree with Kevin, I want to join with Robert in acknowledging that Drum’s piece is on the mark in criticizing Schlesinger’s thesis that the current administration is a threat to democracy. One passage, also quoted by Robert, is worth repeating:

the fact is that in the three years since 9/11, dissent has been alive and well, and aside from a bit of heavy-handed crowd control at its own campaign events, no one in the Bush administration has done much of anything to stifle it.

I very much appreciate a critic of the administration being straight-forward about this, as it is clearly that case that free speech is alive and well in 2004 and that the ability to critcize the President and his administration is as healthy as ever.

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A Former Student’s Blog

By Steven Taylor @ 2:44 pm

A former student of mine (and, for that matter, of James Joyner’s) informed me yesterday that he now has his own blog: Southern Sense. Clint was a polisci minor/history major at Troy and is now in seminary in Fort Worth. His blog focuses on sports (most especially SEC and Bama football) and musings on theology.

He’s been at it since April, but *sniff* hasn’t linked to me yet. Oh, the horror.,

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Hook’Em

By Steven Taylor @ 2:26 pm

I know that Texas was supposed to beat UNT, but wow: No. 7 Texas 65, North Texas 0

North Texas (0-1) was supposed to be a stern test for a season opener. The Mean Green won the last three Sun Belt Conference titles and running back Patrick Cobbs rushed for 1,680 yards last season.

Instead, Texas steamrolled to its biggest margin of victory since an 81-16 win over TCU in 1974 and held Cobbs to minus-1 yard rushing on eight carries.

Texas gained 673 total yards (3rd best in team history), 513 on the ground, while holding UNT to 38 yards on the ground and 92 in the air.

As the Austin American-Statesman write-up noted:

Texas Coach Mack Brown tried to hold down the score, noting that the Mean Green was wearing out in the second quarter. He did so by emptying his bench, including playing six freshmen and several walk-ons.

Taylor, who was running for Temple High School a year ago, scampered 74 yards on his fourth carry of his career, setting up a 1-yard touchdown by Hall. Taylor came within four yards of giving Texas three 100-yard backs.

Brown said he took Taylor out because he feared he would score more. But even with third- and fourth-teamers on the field, the score kept escalating. It was 44-0 at halftime, and 58-0 at the end of the third quarter. The 65 points were Brown’s largest margin of victory in his now six-plus years as the Longhorns’ head coach.

Pretty impressive to paly the game mostly on the ground, play the bench while trying to hold down the score and winning 65-0. If Steve Spurrier had been the coach, the score might’ve been 150-0.

And yes, I know it all doesn’t mean very much if they lose to the Sooners on October.

Meanwhile, the Troy Trojans’ defense looked pretty impressive in their opener at Marshall, winning 17-15:

DeWhitt Betterson rushed for the go-ahead touchdown and Troy’s defense held Marshall to 177 total yards in a 17-15 victory Saturday.

The anemic offensive production by Marshall was its lowest since 1989. It was only the seventh loss Marshall has had at home since it opened its stadium in 1991, and its first season-opening home loss since 1977.

Not bad. We shall see how they do on Thursday when they host the Big XII’s Missouri at national TV (ESPN2) with new unis and logos and everything.

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Ibrahim Captured

By Steven Taylor @ 11:16 am

The Command Post has a round-up of news links concerning the news that Saddam’s right-hand man, Izzat Ibrahim al-Duri, has been captured in Iraq.

This is very good news.

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Along the Same Lines

By Steven Taylor @ 10:41 am

Chris Lawrence ponders the Bush bounce and does a little deconstructing of the DNC and RNC, noting the deficiencies of the former and the strengths of the latter and how they may be playing into the recent poll numbers.

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On Fighting “Fair”

By Steven Taylor @ 9:50 am

Over the years I have often been amused when one side or the other (by “side” I mean Dems or Reps) who will bemoan how their side doesn’t know how to fight, but the other side does. Usually said assessments take place when one’s own side is losing at the moment, whether it be in an electoral campaign or over a legislative issue. And I would underscore that both sides do this. Right now, many Democrats are bemoaning their party’s ability to fight.

Stephen Bainbridge notes the following from Kevin Drum that goes along with the above notion:

For all the hatred of Bush among liberals, we still aren’t as dedicated to our cause as conservatives are to theirs. After all, they’re dedicated enough to figure that fighting fair is just a sign of weakness. For better or worse, we’re not quite there yet.

Other recent examples of this syndrome include Susan Estrich’s column this week which stated “The trouble with Democrats, traditionally, is that we’re not mean enough.” Also, Sam Donaldson this morning on the Chris Matthews Show noted that Republicans attack well, but Democrats do not.

Bainbridge responds with a lengthy list of examples of Democrats hardly sticking solely to public policy arguments. The short version: it is a specious claim to make the suggestion that Democrats are so focuses on fighting fair that those shifty GOPers are taking advantage with their shameless mudslinging and now the Party of Jefferson had better learn to fight dirty or else.

What I find especially remarkable is that the “attacks” that have some Democrats frothing are not based on some personal likening of John Kerry to brutal dictators, but rather to his Senate record and the fact that he has a habit of being on more than one side of an issue. If chanting “flip flop” hurts Kerry’s feelings, then perhaps he isn’t cut out for the high-pressure job of President of the United States.

The main area that I can understand the anger on the part of the Democrats is that of the Swift Boat ads (at least the first one). The attack on the medals is harsh and difficult to prove, and is a clear attack on Kerry’s charater and veracity without the needed clear-cut evidence needed to back such charges. Now, the second commercial is factually accurate, so if the Kerry campaign can’t handle the truth, well, you know the line.

I can also understand the anger at Zell, as Democrats can rightly see his actions as traitorous-his anger at Kerry not surprisingly is met with anger by the Kerry camp. Still, while one can argue over the facts of the voting record and its significance, the bottom line is that an attack on a Senator’s record is wholly fair-especially when said Senator has not taken the care to defend his own record (especially when said Senator has scrupulously ignored his own record).

Here are some other examples that should put to rest the idea that Democrats only fight “fair":

  • Al Gore accussed the President of “betraying this country” (rather strong words, since the penalty for treason is death-and what could be worse for a President to do than to betray the country?).
  • Senator Kennedy called the war a fraud “made up in Texas” and fraud.
  • Judge Calabresi of the 2nd Circuit likened Bush to both Hitler and Mussolini (he did later apologize).
  • Andrew Greeley likened the Bush administration to Hitler’s in the 1930s.

  • Of course, there’s the MoveOn.org ad comparing Bush to Hitler.
  • Here’s a long list of ‘Bush = Hitler’ Allusions.
  • Update: Here’re two more: Michael Moore refered to Bush as a “deserter” in front of Wes Clark withou repudiation from Clark.
  • Update: DNC National Chair Terry McAuliffe accussed the Presient of being “AWOL” during his Air National Guard Service.

I think perhaps that some Dems need to remove their faux halos and recognize that the attacks aren’t coming from just one side, and that their own side has made some pretty remarkable assertions-indeed, the numerous Hitler allusions alone trump, in my mind, anything said at the RNC.

Update: James Joyner also comments. He also notes that both sides tend to think that their side doesn’t know how to fight, while the other side does. He correctly notes a long history in US politics of negative ads, and concludes with the following:

Kerry and company point to the harping on his Senate defense votes by Zell Miller and others at the GOP convention, arguing that they’re taken out of context. But they never explain what it is the context was. Further, they claim that pointing out that Kerry voted against important weapons programs is a challenge to his “patriotism,” which is absurd. Meanwhile, charges that Bush “misled us into war” for political purposes are viewed as perfectly legitimate. One can’t have it both ways.

Indeed.

Another Update Straying Thoughts adds a few more examples and discusses the topic as well.

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PoliColumn: Party Competition in Alabama

By Steven Taylor @ 8:36 am

From today’s Mobile Register:

Alabama is now a two-party state
Sunday, September 05, 2004
By STEVEN L. TAYLOR
Special to the Register

It used to be said that a yellow dog could beat a Republican in any election in the state of Alabama.

Now, recent polling shows a 21-point lead for President Bush over John Kerry as we head into the main leg of campaign 2004. Needless to say, there won’t be many (if any) visits to our state by either candidate - although a positive side effect of those poll numbers is that we won’t have to watch nearly as many campaign commercials as will our neighbors in Florida.

The rest is here.

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Saturday, September 4, 2004
I Think We’ve Heard this one Before

By Steven Taylor @ 10:17 pm

U.S. Near Seizing Bin Laden, Official Says.

‘twould be nice, but I shan’t hold my breath.

Of course, if they do capture him, it will be fun to watch certain folks go bonkers (I mean, if they are all apoplectic over Zell (see here for a more extensive list) and Arnold’s Soviet tanks (plus see this in response), their heads may explode if Osama is captured).

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AP Headline Writer Chokes on the Numbers

By Steven Taylor @ 10:09 pm

Reports the AP on the Time and Newsweek polls: Polls Suggest a Double-Digit Bush Lead.

Polls “suggest"? Now, I will grant that these are snapshots and all that jazz, but two different polls that show that kind of shift are doing more than “suggesting” something.

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Time Poll not an Outlier: Newsweek Poll Show 11-Point Lead

By Steven Taylor @ 3:37 pm

Bush’s Big Bounce

Coming out of the Republican National Convention in New York, President George W. Bush now holds a 11-point lead over Democratic challenger Sen. John Kerry (52 percent to 41 percent) in a three-way race, according to the latest NEWSWEEK poll.

Bush’s personal approval numbers are up in this poll:

The poll shows that Bush and Cheney have gained ground, and now lead, on almost all key election issues: The president’s approval rating is back over the halfway mark (52 percent, with 41 percent disapproving) after having slipped to 45 percent in July; his favorability ratings (55 percent favorable versus 40 percent unfavorable) are the highest they have been all year, after having fallen to 48 percent unfavorable in the poll at the end of the DNC.

And security/terrorism leads the pack, issue-wise:

The issue that received the most attention at the RNC last week was terrorism, and terrorism is the issue that is at the forefront of Republican concerns (50 percent call it the most important in determining their vote). Overall, though, just about a quarter (28 percent) of registered voters consider fighting terror the top issue in this election, whereas a similar number (21 percent) say the same about the economy, followed by health care (13 percent), Iraq (11 percent), jobs (9 percent) and education (6 percent).

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On Presidential Debates

By Steven Taylor @ 3:27 pm

(This was written initially as a response to an e-mail):

There really are two entirely distinct issues here.

The first is whether debates, per se, are good, and therefore whether more are better (and whether there is an ideal number or not). I would readily state that in an ideal world more debate would be preferred, and the more “real” the debates, the better (as it stand the debates are often not much more than interactive press conferences-the degree to which they are truly debates is, well, debatable).

The second issue is wholly political: how many debates should a candidates want to have? It is almost universally true that the challenger wants more debates than does the incumbent. As I have noted before, incumbents can get exposure at will, while challengers have to work at it. Hence, regardless of how good or bad a debater one is, the incumbent almost certainly wants less debates. It truly isn’t a question that is based on debate skill or on confidence. For one thing, these are unpredictable events: Gore was surely the better debater, but it could quite strongly be argued that the debates cost him the election in 2000.

This debate over debates takes place every four years, and is nothing news. My guess is that we will end up with three. Given the state of modern campaigns, I am honestly not sure if two isn’t sufficient-because while political junkies will watch three, I am not sure that even the voting public will do so, let alone those unlikely to vote.

The weekly debate issue is a typical ploy for challengers to engage in, especially when the challenger is feeling some heat. It is a gamble, to be sure. It isn’t a sign of confidence by the challenger that he is the better debater but rather a rolling of the dice: the hope that more exposure will result in wins for the challenger. Similar challenges have been known to have been issued by ailing incumbents, for that matter.

The mistake people make on this topic is to assume that the person asking for more debates is the better debater and that the person asking for less debates is the worse debater. That isn’t necesarily the case-and really isn’t the main part of the calculus. The issue is what the two sides think is the potential up and down sides of a joint encounter.

Also worth noting: challengers in presidential contests like debates for one key reason: it is perhaps the only time in the campaign that they are treated as anywhere near to equal in stature with the president. This is an element not to be ignored.

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On Deferments and Making Cogent Arguments

By Steven Taylor @ 1:17 pm

Some discussion has emerged over the question of deferments and Kerry. I have heard references to the following, but finally went looking for myself.

The following is from a February 18, 1970 article from the The Harvard Crimson which was posted to their web site in conjunction with a February 11, 2004 article.

The 1970 intereview was focused on Kerry’s run for Congress. In the piece we find the following:

When he approached his draft board for permission to study for a year in Paris, the draft board refused and Kerry decided to enlist in the Navy.

There are no other details in the piece. Presumably his draft number came up, and he sought a deferment. When one wasn’t granted, he chose to enlist in the Navy rather than be drafted into the Army. This was not an unusual move during Viet Nam: if a young man knew he was going to be drafted, he might as well enlist in the service of his choice.

Please note: I find nothing wrong with Kerry seeking deferment to study, and there is nothing wrong with seeking a slot in the Navy over the Army. The problem arises, of course, when Kerry uses the idea of deferment-seeking as a reason why someone else may not be fit to criticize Kerry’s own record.

Another interesting tidbit from the Crimson story is this:

Kerry was the commanding Lieutenant of a patrol boat in the Mekong Delta. He was wounded slightly on three different occasions and received a Silver Star for bravery.

Now, I have noted more than once that attacking Kerry’s medals is the wrong way to go on a lot of levels. However, it is nonetheless interesting that a contemporaneous news account notes that the wounds were slight.

A March 7, 2004 piece in the London Telegraph interviewed the author of the Crimson piece:

SENATOR JOHN Kerry, the presumed Democratic presidential candidate who is trading on his Vietnam war record to campaign against President George W Bush, tried to defer his military service for a year, according to a newly rediscovered article in a Harvard University newspaper.

He wrote to his local recruitment board seeking permission to spend a further 12 months studying in Paris, after completing his degree course at Yale University in the mid-1960s.

The revelation appears to undercut Sen Kerry’s carefully-cultivated image as a man who willingly served his country in a dangerous war - in supposed contrast to President Bush, who served in the Texas National Guard and thus avoided being sent to Vietnam.

The Harvard Crimson newspaper followed a youthful Mr Kerry in Boston as he campaigned for Congress for the first time in 1970. In the course of a lengthy article, “John Kerry: A Navy Dove Runs for Congress", published on February 18, the paper reported: “When he approached his draft board for permission to study for a year in Paris, the draft board refused and Kerry decided to enlist in the Navy.”

Samuel Goldhaber, the article’s author who is now a cardiologist attached to the Harvard School of Medicine, spent 11 hours trailing Mr Kerry and still remembers that the subject of the Paris deferment came up during long conversations about Vietnam.

“I stand by my story,” he told The Sunday Telegraph. “It was a long time ago, and I was 19 at the time, so it is hard to remember every detail. But I do know this: at no point did Kerry contact either me or the Crimson to dispute anything I had written.”

Sen Kerry’s campaign headquarters in Washington refused an opportunity to deny the report. Despite repeated telephone calls from The Sunday Telegraph, a spokesman refused to comment. Another Democrat official said merely: “In Vietnam, John Kerry proved his patriotism beyond question. Everyone knows that.”

A rather interesting element of the story, to me, is that the Telegraph piece is the only reference to this aspect of this story that I can find in Lexis/Nexis. A few references to Kerry’s statement on the UN from the Crimson piece can be found in some WaPo and BoGlo stories from this year can be found.

Still, it would seem to me that if Kerry did seek a deferment, that the mainstream press should research the question, since Kerry is using Cheney’s deferments as a rhetorical instrument.

And again: I have no problem with Kerry having sougth a deferment, and the only reason it has any relevancy is Kerry himself. If he is going to make statement like this

“Well, I’m going to leave it up to the voters to decide whether five deferments make someone more qualified than two tours of duty.”

then he makes this kind of discussion legitimate.

If he is going to win, he needs to find an argument that applies to 2004 (not 1966). And if he wants to complain about attacks on his Viet Nam record he needs to base his campaign on something more than his Viet Nam record.

Speaking of which, it appears that tha mode of argumentation has been in Kerry’s mind for quite a while. Here is a telling passage from the Crimson piece in 1970:

In America, “everybody who’s against the war is suddenly considered anti-American,” Kerry said. “But I don’t think they can turn to me and say I don’t know what’s going on or I’m a draft dodger.” Referring to the House Armed Services Committee, chaired by L. Mendel Rivers (D-S.C.), Kerry said, “I want to go down to Washington and confront Medel Rivers, who never fought in a war.

Sound familiar?

The one thing I will say: at least it was a relevant argument in 1970.

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On the Same Theme

By Steven Taylor @ 12:15 pm

I can’t disagree with Robert Tagorda, who notes that there is nothing wrong with Kerry addressing the economics issue with vigor in key states. Indeed, this is a logical mode of attack, as it is clear that the topic of economics resonates more in some specific battleground states far more than it does nationally.

Still, my point last night was (not that Robert was disagreeing, btw) that Kerry lacks a solid attack on security. I have thought this for a long time, but that fact of the matter is that this lack of attack is beginning to be manifestly obvious. Indeed, given that the goal of the DNC was to make Kerry an acceptable alternative to Bush as CinC. While the initial response to the Democrats’ convention was a success, but one beings to wonder. Despite the clear attempt to paint Kerry as a warrior, there were several key issues left unaddressed.

Granted: the same may yet be said about the RNC, although at this point that would appear to be unlikely.

If Kerry is going to be able to go toe-to-toe on security with the President the following issues need to be addressed:

  • His post-war activities. This square peg does not fit well into the round hole of war hero upon which Kerry has been focusing. It isn’t that it is impossible to reconcile these two positione, but it is quite difficult. Further, given the War on Terror, it is doubly difficult.
  • His position on Iraq. The argument can be made that simply pointing out that Kerry voted for the war, but not the $87 billion is overly simplistic. Perhaps so: but simple works in campaign (nuance is harder to sell). Like it or not, that’s the truth. Futher, there is no denying that Kerry set himself up on this one that “I voted for it, before I voted against it” line. That Karl Rove is one master hypnotist. Further, Kerry has created the incoherent position that voting for the war was absolutely the right thing to do, but that the war itself was bad, or , at least badly executed. Fair enough, but there still is the unanswered question of what he would have done differently (and saying “I’d have done it better” or “I would’ve gotten more help” do not qualify as actual answers).
  • The Service Issue. He has to find a better may to deflect criticism than saying “I served, and they didn'’t"-as I said last night, that isn’t an argument.
  • His Senate Record (I knew there was something I was forgetting, and Robert’s comment reminded me). Even if it is the case that many of Kerry’s anti-defense votes were procedural or can be exaplined, there really is no debate: Kerry’s record is not one of a hawk. ne thing is for certain: he had to address it. His service in Viet Nam, even if it was the most impressive of all time, cannot be the answer to questions about two decades in the U.S. Senate.

This is still a close race, but we are at a point at which it could start tipping in the President’s favor if Kerry can’t find a way to address these points.

Further, he is setting himself up for further charges of flip-floppery if he changes too much from old position, especially if he is going to say things like this:

Mr. Kerry asked voters in this economically battered state to look past Mr. Bush’s “last-minute promises”

That’s the kind of phrase that can be turned back and used by his opponents.

Source for quote: Kerry Urges Voters to Look Past Bush’s ‘Last-Minute Promises’

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Friday, September 3, 2004
Drum on Kerry

By Steven Taylor @ 9:54 pm

Kevin Drum is quite correct:

It’s fine to hammer away on domestic issues with specific target groups. It’s fine for John Edwards to focus on the two Americas. But anyone who thinks the primary message of Kerry’s campaign should be anything other than national security is just deluding themselves. To paraphrase James Carville, “It’s 9/11, stupid.”

In fact, it’s a no-brainer: somehow Kerry has to convince people that he can be trusted with national security and Bush can’t-and if he doesn’t, he’s going to lose. But I guess he still doesn’t get that.

I very much agree that this election will turn on security; indeed, I have thought that since at least the 2002 mid-term elections. We do recall how the Democrats downplayed security, gambled on the Homeland Security vote and lost?

The thing is: I don’t think Kerry has an answer to the security question. His “I served and they didn’t” is simply insufficient, and he still hasn’t put to bed the post-war Senate testimony issue.

Further, his inconsistency and near incoherence on Iraq isn’t helpful, to say the least.

Plus, it is getting rather late to start formulating new positions on national security. Whether one thinks it fair or not, there is little doubt that the Republicans have sufficiently established the idea that Kerry is a flip-flopper that the introduction of wholly new ideas will be cast as nothing more than the newest in a line of various suspect and contradictory positions held by the Senator.

Kerry really is in trouble at this point.

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  • Priorities & Frivolities linked with Terrorism and Economics
Fox Blows It

By Steven Taylor @ 6:48 pm

In a story on an 18 year-old running for the Electoral College, the Fox story on Special Report stated (and showed a graphic) noting the “528 electoral votes” in the college. One small problem (indeed, ten of them): there are 538 electoral votes (435 corresponding to the House seats, 100 corresponding to the Senate seats and 3 for DC).

No wonder the nets have such a hard time calling elections.

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Wow

By Steven Taylor @ 6:23 pm

That’s big.

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“Five Deferments” Live On

By Steven Taylor @ 5:53 pm

As per clips from the news today, it seems the Kerry is fixated on the deferments issue, and the idea that he won’t be questioned by people who didn’t serve.

The logic here is rather dubious. For one thing, if taken to its logical conclusions then Bill Clinton shouldn’t have been elected President. For another, since a Viet Nam vet who has a more impressive record than he, i.e. John McCain, has endorsed Bush, shouldn’t Kerry just quit the race? I mean if the fundament of Kerry’s argument is some perverse game of Hearts in which Viet Nam service is the trump card to end all trump cards, doesn’t a McCain trump a Kerry? Yes, it is ridiculous logic, but it isn’t mine: it belongs to the junior Senator from Massachusetts.

And I would remind us all of the sage words once uttered on the floor of the US Senate:

The race for the White House should be about leadership, and leadership requires that one help heal the wounds of Vietnam, not reopen them; that one help identify the positive things that we learned about ourselves and about our nation, not play to the divisions and differences of that crucible of our generation.

We do not need to divide America over who served and how. I have personally always believed that many served in many different ways. Someone who was deeply against the war in 1969 or 1970 may well have served their country with equal passion and patriotism by opposing the war as by fighting in it. Are we now, 20 years or 30 years later, to forget the difficulties of that time, of families that were literally torn apart, of brothers who ceased to talk to brothers, of fathers who disowned their sons, of people who felt compelled to leave the country and forget their own future and turn against the will of their own aspirations?

These words were uttered, of course, by Senator John Forbes Kerry on February 27, 1992. He was, of course, defending Bill Clinton, whom it seems Kerry thought fully fit to be CinC despite his lack of service.

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Wowie: Bush has 11-Point Lead in Time Poll

By Steven Taylor @ 3:36 pm

And this includes polling before the convention was complete:

For the first time since the Presidential race became a two person contest last spring, there is a clear leader, the latest TIME poll shows. If the 2004 election for President were held today, 52% of likely voters surveyed would vote for President George W. Bush, 41% would vote for Democratic nominee John Kerry, and 3% would vote for Ralph Nader, according to a new TIME poll conducted from Aug. 31 to Sept. 2.

Going inside the nubmers is quite interesting: Bush edges Kerry by 2 points on the economy, by 12 on Iraq and by 21 on terrorism, and 19 on leadership. Kerry wins on health care by 6 and on the nebulous “cares about people like me” question by 3 points.

And so much for the DNC:

54% said they trust Bush to be commander-in-chief of the armed forces, while 39% said they trust Kerry.

Source: Campaign 2004: Bush Opens Double-Digit Lead

Update: James Joyner also comments.

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Back to Indochina

By Steven Taylor @ 2:29 pm

Said Kerry last night:

“The vice president called me unfit for office last night,” Mr. Kerry said. “Well, I’m going to leave it up to the voters to decide whether five deferments make someone more qualified than two tours of duty.”

First off, Cheney didn’t do anything of the sort. From Cheney’s speech:

The President’s opponent is an experienced senator. He speaks often of his service in Vietnam, and we honor him for it.

Second, to the commenter (I forget who it was), who challenged my assertion that Kerry’s asnwer to everything vis-a-vis his qualifications for being CinC is “I served” please note what Kerry is doing here.

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APSA Panel on Blogging

By Steven Taylor @ 2:07 pm

Dr. Shackleford notes some bloggerific goings on at the American Political Science Association’s annual meeting-which started yesterday. If you are there/going to be there, check out the panel.

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Did You Say “Utes"?

By Steven Taylor @ 1:48 pm

As a Texas alum, I must say I find it amusing that the Aggies were defeated by a team called the “Utes"-even if they were ranked ahead of them: No. 20 Utah 41, Texas A&M 21.

No doubt my friends and colleagues who are Crimson Tide fans aren’t sad to see Franchione losing to Utah either.

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The Last Bite-Sized Plate of Toast for 2004

By Steven Taylor @ 1:33 pm

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


BITE-SIZE TOAST FOR NIGHT FOUR

Prior Toast: The Pre-RNC Toast-O-Meter | Night One | Night Two | Night Three

A busy morning meant late toast, but here we go:

There is no other way to characterize this convention other than to call it a rousing success. Bush went into this week with momentum, and I expect that this week will have strengthened that momentum (yes, I expect a bounce of at least 5 points, which will give Bush a beyond-the-margin-of-error lead over Kerry starting next week).

Not only did this convention allow the momentum to continue, and re-inforced the key issue of this race (security), the speech tonight gave Bush something to build on as we hit the next phase of this campaign.

There isn’t much to say about Pataki, so I will just focus on the President here:

Round-Up: MSM

  • NYT: Text and Video of Speeches at the Republican National Convention.
  • WaPo: Security Tops Bush’s Agenda.
  • The NYT: Bush Appeals to Nation to Help Build a ‘Safer World’.
  • NYT: Bush Outlines Plan for a 2nd Term and Attacks Kerry’s Record.
  • USAT: 2nd term staked on war on terrorism.
  • The LAT: Bush Explains Vision for Security and Opportunity
  • The NYT’s editorial board wasn’t too impressed:
    the president presented troubled, half-finished initiatives like his prescription drug plan as fully completed tasks, just as he presented the dangerous and chaotic situation in Iraq as a picture of triumphant foreign policy on a par with the Marshall Plan. He tossed out a combination of extremely vague concepts - like creating an ownership society - along with small-bore ideas like additional college scholarships. The combination of minor thoughts and squishy generalities was typical of John Kerry’s convention speech as well. But Mr. Bush’s contribution doesn’t raise many hopes for the level of campaign discussion to come.

    The NYT editorial also laments the fact that Bush did not mention his immigration initiative and found Cheney “depressing.”

  • WaPo’s editorial was more oriented toward reviewing the speech as a speech, and was more positive than the NYT piece. It did note “blank spaces” in the President’s domestic policies.

Round-up: Blogospheric

  • Joe Gandelman breaks down the speech and has an extensive list of Blogospheric reactions: left, right and center (what else would you expect from The Moderate Voice?).
  • Sean Hackbarth also rounds-up and reacts.
  • As does James Joyner.
  • Stephen Green rounds-up live bloggers on the speech here and gives his overall assessment here.
  • Duncan Black wasn’t impressed.
  • Robert Tagorda reviews the speech, giving the whole thing a “B", the last half a “B+” and the last quarter an “A+"-and I can’t disagree with that. He also has a long list of links.
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Speaking of Jobs…

By Steven Taylor @ 9:53 am

Chuck at You Big Mouth, You! has a number of charts to help visually detail the jobs situation.

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Job Numbers are in

By Steven Taylor @ 8:40 am

Yahoo! News - Job Picture Brightens with August Hiring

The U.S. job market brightened modestly in August as employers added 144,000 workers to their payrolls and hiring totals for the two prior months were revised up, the Labor Department reported on Friday.

With the economy growing in importance as an issue in November presidential elections, the department said the August unemployment rate dropped to 5.4 percent from 5.5 percent in July.

[…]

A month ago, the department said that only 32,000 jobs were created in July but it more than doubled that estimate to 73,000 and it said 96,000 jobs were created in June instead of 78,000.

So, August had healthy growth, June and especially July were better than first thought and we stand at only 5.4% unemployment. I would say this qualifies as good news generically for the economy and bodes well for Bush and not so well for Kerry.

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Something to Watch

By Steven Taylor @ 6:59 am

New Unemployment Numbers Due Today.

As the President looks for a bounce, these numbers will be key. If they aren’t too good they could suck the life out of the happy feeling out of MSG, and if they are good, Big Mo’ may get a bit bigger.

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Russian Forces Storm School

By Steven Taylor @ 6:57 am

Forces Storm Russia School With Hostages

Commandos stormed a school in southern Russia where hundreds of hostages had been held for three days, and dozens of hostages fled the building, some bloodied and screaming.

What a sad, frightening mess that situation has been, and continues to be.

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Thursday, September 2, 2004
Kerry II

By Steven Taylor @ 11:09 pm

The MSNBC gang aren’t exactly giving the Kerry speech high marks.

Matthews: “that clearly wasn’t a prepared speech” he went on to say that it sounded like just some quick notes.

Scarborough called it “the same old stump speech” and noted that it didn’t draw a very strong comparison to the convention.

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Kerry’s Midnight Run

By Steven Taylor @ 11:00 pm

Kerry is speaking now. He is trying way too hard to be funny. He has cracked three or four lame jokes in a row.

Fox is giving him no love, breaking for commerical. MSNBC is sticking with him.

I have to agree with Mort Kondrake’s assessment of Kerry’s speech based on advanced text: petty. Plus: more of the “we will do better via magic dust” types of statements.

And clearly Kerry didn’t get my memo (neither did Edwards).

In all seriousness, and from an analyticl point of view: I don’t think that vague promises about health care and jobs are sufficient to trump the security argument that the Republicans have made.

And here we go again: his services in Viet Nam is supposed to be all that you need to know about Kerry’s ability to be CinC. Would someone please tell him that that isn’t really an argument. That, and of course saying “Halliburton” a lot. Not much of an argument either.

He looks a tad small tonight in comparison to the last four nights of convention. Indeed, it reminds me of the opposition response whenever the President gives a SOTU-a boring little speech that no one really watches.

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Lynn Swann

By Steven Taylor @ 10:53 pm

Former Pittsburgh Steeler WR Lynn Swann is on with Greta right now-and he is boosting for Bush. He is co-chair of the African-American Sterring Committee and he will be out campaigning for the President.

He stated that he has met Kerry and found that there “wasn’t much there.”

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The Touring Senators Emerge

By Steven Taylor @ 10:44 pm

Ok, now the Kerry-Edwards late-night rally begins.

Is it just me, or does this little gimmick bespeak of the fact that the Democrats are feeling uneasy?

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Problems at Camp Kerry?

By Steven Taylor @ 10:37 pm

Chris Matthews is asking if anyone is running the Kerry campaign.

Andrea Mitchell said, yes: John Kerry.

To which Matthews said: “and that’s a problem, isn’t it?”

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Dubya X: The End

By Steven Taylor @ 10:15 pm

It started slow, and was rather laundry-list-ish for a while, but it hit a stride and didn’t look back. It certainly ended exceptionally well.

An excellent speech (and I did have my doubts at first)…

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  • Mark the Pundit linked with Bush's Speech
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Dubya IX: Good Stuff

By Steven Taylor @ 10:09 pm

Now we are getting to some good lines.

Ideed:

In the last four years, you and I have come to know each other. Even when we don’t agree, at least you know what I believe and where I stand.

Amusing:

You may have noticed I have a few flaws, too. People sometimes have to correct my English I knew I had a problem when Arnold Schwarzenegger started doing it.

And utterly, totally, classic (speaking as Texan, keep in mind):

Some folks look at me and see a certain swagger, which in Texas is called “walking.”

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Dubya VIII: The Return of Indeed

By Steven Taylor @ 10:04 pm

“In 1946, 18 months after the fall of Berlin to allied forces, a journalist wrote in the New York Times, “Germany is … a land in an acute stage of economic, political and moral crisis. European capitals are frightened. In every military headquarters, one meets alarmed officials doing their utmost to deal with the consequences of the occupation policy that they admit has failed.” End quote. Maybe that same person’s still around, writing editorials.”

Nice delivery of the line, too.

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Dubya VII: Also Indeed

By Steven Taylor @ 9:45 pm

The speech is starting to really pick up.

“I will continue to appoint federal judges who know the difference between personal opinion and the strict interpretation of the law.”

and

“My opponent recently announced that he is the candidate of “conservative values,” which must have come as a surprise to a lot of his supporters. Now, there are some problems with this claim. If you say the heart and soul of America is found in Hollywood, I’m afraid you are not the candidate of conservative values. If you voted against the bipartisan Defense of Marriage Act, which President Clinton signed, you are not the candidate of conservative values. If you gave a speech, as my opponent did, calling the Reagan presidency eight years of “moral darkness,” then you may be a lot of things, but the candidate of conservative values is not one of them.”

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Dubya VI: Indeed

By Steven Taylor @ 9:42 pm

“To be fair, there are some things my opponent is for he’s proposed more than two trillion dollars in new federal spending so far, and that’s a lot, even for a senator from Massachusetts. To pay for that spending, he is running on a platform of increasing taxes and that’s the kind of promise a politician usually keeps.

Source: Text of the President’s speech via Wizbang.

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Dubya V

By Steven Taylor @ 9:38 pm

Thus far this speech is rather State of the Union-esque. No solid sound bites or obvious themes. On the one hand, it is heavy on both accomplishments and a domestic agenda, but on the other it hasn’t exactly been a barn-burner as yet, either.

However, I don’t want to hear any of the following:

  • “He didn’t talk about the issues.”
  • “All he did was scare people about terrorism.”
  • “Where’s the second-term agenda?”
  • “This convention has ignored domestic policy.”
  • “Where are his first term domestic successes?”

I hereby forbid these lines, or similar talking points, from being used by the Democrats or their surrogates.

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Dubya IV

By Steven Taylor @ 9:33 pm

Partial privatization of Social Security: sounds good to me. How about total privatization?

And I also like the Health Savings Account idea.

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Dubya III

By Steven Taylor @ 9:31 pm

I’ve said it before, and I will say is now: how is “flex time” and a “family friendly work place” the President’s job?

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Dubya II

By Steven Taylor @ 9:26 pm

May is be so: leading a move to simplify the tax code.

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Dubya

By Steven Taylor @ 9:20 pm

Ok, the beginning was ok-a lot of pro forma stuff and a nod to domestic policy.

So far nothing too noteworthy.

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Speeches in the Round

By Steven Taylor @ 9:16 pm

Stephen Green beat me to this comment:

I thought this speaking-in-the-round thing was going to look cheap and gimmicky. I was wrong.

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  • Overtaken by Events linked with RNC IV (I'm the one that needs an IV)
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Other Live Blogging

By Steven Taylor @ 9:14 pm

-Stephen Green.

-Overtaken by Events.

-Jay Tea at Wizbang.

-N.Z. Bear.

-Stephen Bainbridge.

-Bryan at Arguing with signposts….

-Swanky Conservative.

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Hail to the Chief

By Steven Taylor @ 9:09 pm

I am thinking that he is rather popular with the delegates. Such is the impression I get from the rather glowing response from the crowd.

Not that that is surprising.

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  • ProfessorBainbridge.com linked with Live-blogging the RNC: Bush's Night
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The Video

By Steven Taylor @ 9:06 pm

Not doubt many (read: Democrats) will find the video schmaltzy or annoying. I think it is rather well done.

Regardless, there is one key contrast between this video and Kerry’s: it is about the recent past, while the preponderance of Kerry’s was about events of over thirty years ago.

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Pataki

By Steven Taylor @ 8:46 pm

“Lose one with The Flipper.”

Indeed.

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Tonight’s Live Bloggin Begins

By Steven Taylor @ 8:44 pm

I just started watching, so missed the beginning of Pataki’s speech. That which I have seen has been okay. The litany of policy-specific successes is good-a focus on policy and on the candidate.

I must admit, the Governor is not exactly a dazzling orator.

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Fox Beats the Nets

By Steven Taylor @ 3:45 pm

Fox News Beats Broadcasters in Convention Coverage

The Fox News telecast of Tuesday’s speeches by the “Terminator” star turned California governor and first lady Laura Bush averaged 5.2 million viewers during the 10 o’clock hour that ABC, CBS and NBC joined live coverage of the proceedings, according to ratings available on Thursday.

Broadcast network executives grumbled privately that Fox’s triumph was no surprise given the cable channel’s reputation as a conservative-leaning outlet favored by the Republican Party. One network official who spoke on condition of anonymity called the Republican National Convention a “made-for-Fox event.”

Well, given the brevity of the nets’ coverage, it stands to reason that news junkies/those seriously interested in the conventions would watch on cable, and given that Fox is the number one news network, it stands to reason that they would win the night, and yes, it stands to reason that Republicans watching the GOP convention would tend to watch Fox.

And for full disclosure: I have predominantly watched MSNBC’s coverage.

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The Relevance of the Past

By Steven Taylor @ 12:27 pm

James Joyner reports that 60 Minutes is going to air yet another story on Bush’s Air National Guard service. James rightly note the following:

I fail to see how any of this, even if all the participants are to be believed and no effective rebuttal is offered, hurts George W. Bush. His life story is pretty well known; indeed, even his daughters joked about it the other night at the convention. He was a mess as a young man-a guy interested primarily in partying and getting wasted. He grew up, found a good woman, found Jesus, and got off the bottle. He got past his early troubles and, as Zell Miller might say, done good. He got elected governor a couple times and then got elected to the White House. His case for re-election isn’t built on what kind of guy he was in 1968 but rather on the last four years.

His opponent, conversely, is hoping people forget that he had a career after those weeks in Vietnam. The reason the Swift Boat ads hurt so much isn’t that people so much care about what kind of lieutenant (junior grade) Kerry was but rather that that’s the man’s entire case for being president.

The bottom line is that the incumbent runs on what kind of President he has been-and voters evaluate an incumbent in precisely that way. Meanwhile, the challenger runs on what kind of President he might be, which is based on projections that are based on the summation of the life experiences of that candidate. As such, all the early 70s talk has far more potential harm for Kerry than it does for Bush.

Further, Kerry himself has decided that somehow all voters need to know about him are the 4.5 months he spent in Viet Nam-the fact that he avoids susbtantial discussion of any other aspect of his ife underscores the high stakes involved in any discussion of the 1966-1972 period.

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Huh?

By Steven Taylor @ 12:06 pm

Of the many things that one could accuse Zell Miller’s speech of being, I am at a loss as to how anyone could accuse it of racism. Yet, that is what some are doing.

For example:

  • Matthew Yglesias

    I’ve long thought it a bit odd that Bush-lovers would follow Walter Russell Mead in proclaiming their boy the heir of Andrew Jackson’s legacy of racism-infused militarism and casual disregard for the US constitution

  • Andrew Sullivan:
    Then you see Zell Miller, his face rigid with anger, his eyes blazing with years of frustration as his Dixiecrat vision became slowly eclipsed among the Democrats. Remember who this man is: once a proud supporter of racial segregation, a man who lambasted LBJ for selling his soul to the negroes. His speech tonight was in this vein, a classic Dixiecrat speech, jammed with bald lies, straw men, and hateful rhetoric. As an immigrant to this country and as someone who has been to many Southern states and enjoyed astonishing hospitality and warmth and sophistication, I long dismissed some of the Northern stereotypes about the South. But Miller did his best to revive them. The man’s speech was not merely crude; it added whole universes to the word crude.

    I can accept honest criticism that the speech was angry and even crude, but the racial element is wholly lost on me.

  • Ken Layne, with whom I am unfamiliar, uses language that I prefer not to reproduce here.

Quite frankly, it seems to me that prejudice here is that which is typically directed at the south: if a southern does something that someone wishes to criticize, well then there is probably racism somewhere on the part of said southerner. I find that rather offensive, to be honest. It is also intellectually lazy, which is worse.

Hat tips: Daly Thoughts and Dean’s World.

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No Kerry Shake-Up?

By Steven Taylor @ 11:50 am

Earlier in the week there were reports of a shake-up at Cmp Kerry. Political Wire reports that this may not be the case.

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A Comprehensive Zell Round-Up

By Steven Taylor @ 11:00 am

Daly Thoughts has the definitive round-up of Blogospheric reactions to Zell’s speech.

There is an impressive number of links.

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  • Daly Thoughts and Dales\’ Electoral College Breakdown 2004 linked with As Zell Miller prepares to speak...
  • Peaktalk linked with WELL ZELL ...
Drum on Zell

By Steven Taylor @ 10:57 am

Kevin Drum has a, shall we say, less than analytical response to Zell Miller’s speech.

He gets paid to blog, right?

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A Trackback Debate Emerges

By Steven Taylor @ 10:06 am

Chris Short takes the opposite position on trackback etiquette than I have espoused on numerous times in the past. His position is that there is no particular reason why a blogger should include a reciprocal link when a trackback is sent. Chris likens those who insist on such as “Trackback Nazis".

As I have said before, it strikes me as only polite to note where the idea from your post came from. And yes, I am cognizant of my TTLB and Technorati rankings. However, it goes beyond even that for two reasons.

The first is that it simply strikes me as rude to have gotten info from a blog and trackback that blog in hopes of generating a little traffic for one’s own blog without reciprocating in a relatively minor way (like a Hat Tip or simply a link stating that you got your idea from a specific blog). It simply strikes me as common courtesy. Further, whether one likes it or not, links are the currency of the Blogosphere. Mutual linkage is a centerpiece of blogging and so it seems to me that one-sided linkage (which is essentially what trackbacks without links are—especially if the blog one is trackbacking has inline trackbacks) is a violation of a fairly fundamental element of blogging.

Second, and to me more fundamentally, is that as an academic I find proper citation to be an absolute necessity. I was just telling a class yesterday that it is always better to over-cite than to under-cite. To me (and I am not criticizing Chris-this is the first time I have visited his blog) it is simply intellectually dishonest to be inspired to write something based on someone else’s post (be it a link they found first-and that you might not have found on your own-or an idea that sparked a response) and then not give credit. To fail to give some credit has an element of intellectual theft and dishonesty to it. As such it far more than mere “etiquette” or even about traffic/rankings.

Hat tip: Jeff Quinton.

(and yes, I trackbacked Chris)

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Bite-Sized Toast: Day Three

By Steven Taylor @ 7:52 am

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


BITE-SIZE TOAST FOR NIGHT THREE

If the first rule of Fight Club is that you don’t talk about Fight Club, it may be that I can’t say much about last night, because the gloves came off at Madison Square Garden. In the GOP’s corner was the Zell “Attack Dog” Miller and Dick “The Maniacal Monotone” Cheney. Both continued the overtheme of security while also going directly at the Democratic nominee.

One thing is for certain: the Republicans have in one night talked more about Kerry’s Senate career than the Democrats did in four.

I think that nights One and Two were likely more influential vis-a-vis swing voters, but last night no doubt helped jazz the base.

Round-Up

  • The NYT: Cheney and G.O.P. Mount Vigorous Assault on Kerry.
  • NYT: Text and Video of Speeches at the Republican National Convention.
  • WaPo: Topic of Terror Overshadowing All Others.
  • RNCBloggers - Bloggers Cover The Republican National Convention

Zell
The question that Zell’s speech raises the question of whether he will be perceived as too angry or too focused on military matters for swing voters. That he will have enraged most Democrats is a given. Although interestingly, Frank Luntz’s focus group of undecideds on MSNBC had a largely favorable reaction to Zell’s speech-far more so than I would have expected.

  • The AP: Miller Raps Democrats, Calls Kerry Wobbly.
  • James Joyner coments on Zell.
  • Not surprisingly Kos wasn’t too happy.
  • Stephen Bainbridge liked the speech, but thought it was possibly over the top.
  • Robert Tagorda wonders if the speech’s harsh tone will resonate with swing voters. He also links to a number of other bloggers commenting on Zell’s speech.
  • Zell wasn’t done, either, getting into a brawl with Chris Matthews. The Media Drop also comments on Zell’s verbal fisticuffs on MSNBC. Chris Matthews himself comments at Hardblogger and if you missed it, there is a video clip.
  • Joe Gandelman has comments and linkage on Zell’s speech and MSNBC appearance.

Cheney

  • WaPo: Cheney Calls Kerry Unfit.
  • USAT: Cheney assails Kerry’s ‘habit of indecision’.
  • James Joyner’s reaction to Cheney is here.
  • Robert Tagorda comments on what he terms Dick Cheney’s Cameo and links to others commenting on the Veep’s speech.
  • Mark A. Kilmer has a point-by-point live blogging of the speech.
  • Cassandra at I love Jet Noise thougth Cheney was better than Miller.

Update: This is part of the Beltway Traffic Jam.

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One More Zell Quote

By Steven Taylor @ 7:25 am

I meant to highlight this one last night, but forgot to do so and just heard it on NPR and it reminded me:

John Kerry, who says he doesn’t like outsourcing, wants to outsource our national security.

That’s the most dangerous outsourcing of all.

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DNC v. RNC Smackdown

By Steven Taylor @ 7:22 am

Both James Joyner yesterday and the NYT today not some contrasts between the two conventions.

As the NYT noted, “In politics, as in baseball, it’s better to be up last, and the Republicans have spent their convention in New York this week in a batter-by-batter rebuttal of almost everything the Democrats said and did in Boston last month.”

Indeed, the Times go on to note the following apt contrasts:

So the Democrats had Max Cleland and a bevy of decorated Vietnam veterans, former admirals and generals? The Republicans have John McCain, that gritty Vietnam P.O.W., and Gen. Tommy Franks, who led the American march to Baghdad.

The donkeys had a political rock star in Bill Clinton? “Hasta la vista, baby!” - the elephants have a political movie star in Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The Democrats had a young black hope in Barack Obama, their Illinois Senate nominee? The Republicans’ answer is Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele, the first African-American elected to statewide office in Maryland.

John Kerry got grounded for riding his bicycle into the Soviet sector of postwar Berlin? Mr. Schwarzenegger got scared that his father or uncle might be plucked from their car in a Soviet zone in Austria.

Indeed.

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Wednesday, September 1, 2004
Zell Unplugged

By Steven Taylor @ 10:22 pm

Zell and Matthews are going at it on MSNBC. And I don’t think the Senator is doing himelf any favors.

He is steamed.

There appears to be some sound problems-or, at a minimum, Zell has some hearing issues.

Look for some in the Blogosphere (and in the press) to use this interview to paint Zell as a kook.

Matthews looked genuinely upset that Zell misunderstood him and Andrea Mitchell actually noted that with the noise of the buses that Miller probably couldn’t hear very well.

Although you have to love Zell pining for the days in which he could have challenged Matthews to a duel.

Update: Chris Matthews comments here (link includes video, if you missed it).

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  • Priorities & Frivolities linked with Off Came the Gloves
Reactions

By Steven Taylor @ 10:03 pm

The MSNBC gang are giving the night’s speeches rather high kudos.

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The New “Wave”

By Steven Taylor @ 9:54 pm

It appears the GOP has created the new, granted partisan, version of the “Wave": the flip-flop. It has hand motions and everything.

Along with the hand-motions, the Veep said:

Senator Kerry’s liveliest disagreement is with himself. His back-and-forth reflects a habit of indecision, and sends a message of confusion. And it is all part of a pattern. He has, in the last several years, been for the No Child Left Behind Act and against it. He has spoken in favor of the North American Free Trade Agreement and against it. He is for the Patriot Act and against it. Senator Kerry says he sees two Americas. It makes the whole thing mutual — America sees two John Kerrys.

That’s another classic “Two Americas” line to go along with Rudy’s.

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Another Cheney Quote

By Steven Taylor @ 9:52 pm

“A senator can be wrong for 20 years, without consequence to the nation. But a president, a president always casts the deciding vote. And in this time of challenge, America needs and America has a president we can count on to get it right.”

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Cheney Quotes

By Steven Taylor @ 9:46 pm

From the Text of Dick Cheney’s Speech at the RNC:

Even in this post-9/11 period, Senator Kerry doesn’t appear to understand how the world has changed. He talks about leading a “more sensitive war on terror,” as though al-Qaida will be impressed with our softer side.

No joke.

And:

He declared at the Democratic Convention that he will forcefully defend America after we have been attacked. My fellow Americans, we have already been attacked

Quite right.

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Zell Quotes

By Steven Taylor @ 9:41 pm

From the Text of Zell Miller’s Speech at RNC

It is not their patriotism-it is their judgment that has been so sorely lacking. They claimed Carter’s pacifism would lead to peace.

They were wrong.

They claimed Reagan’s defense buildup would lead to war.

They were wrong.

And, no pair has been more wrong, more loudly, more often than the two Senators from Massachusetts, Ted Kennedy and John Kerry.

Andm indeed:

Campaign talk tells people who you want them to think you are. How you vote tells people who you really are deep inside.

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Cheney II

By Steven Taylor @ 9:31 pm

I must admit: the Veep is a tad less energetic than Zell.

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Cheney

By Steven Taylor @ 9:23 pm

This may be the last major speech of Cheney’s career.

Sign in the crowd: “Cheney Rocks".

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Zell II

By Steven Taylor @ 9:12 pm

Only Nixon can go to China and only a Democrat could have come to the convention and so directly attack the Democrats. And what a remarkable attack on Kerry in re: weapons votes.

And for that matter, who knew Kerry was in the Senate?

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  • Outside The Beltway � linked with Zell Miller Convention Speech
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Zell

By Steven Taylor @ 9:04 pm

I have thought this before: Zell Miller sounds like a Baptist preacher.

Wowie: “my family is more important than my party and there is only one man I trust with my family and that manis George W. Bush.”

Zell is on fire.

I am surprised that he is so direclty attacking the Democratic Party. He may be laying it on a bit thick. Still, it will certainly rouse the crowd and may affect some voters.

He appears a tad miffed at the Dems, to put it mildly.

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Convention Blogging

By Steven Taylor @ 8:42 pm

I just got in and caught a portion of Michael Reagan and the Reagan tribute. I must say that I wish Ron Reagan would make up his mind: either he is a reporter or the subject of reporting.

And Doug Brinkley isn’t cutting it, in my mind, as a political analyst. For one thing, the man is a historian, not a political scientist. Granted, he studies realtively recent history, but still.

Others blogging tonight:

  • Jay Tea is Live Blogging again tonight over at Wizbang.
  • Mark A. Kilmer’s Political Annotation has comments on the Reagan tribute.
  • Overtaken by Events is gearing up as well.

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  • Overtaken by Events linked with Running Late
What Will Cable TV New Do Now?

By Steven Taylor @ 8:37 pm

Judge Dismisses Kobe Bryant Rape Case

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Stop the Presses!!

By Steven Taylor @ 1:13 pm

Cheney to Denounce Kerry at Convention

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Glenn Reynolds is Everywhere

By Steven Taylor @ 12:18 pm

This time it’s the WSJ with a version of the TCS piece he published earlier in the week.

I have it on good authority that the revolution will not be televised, but it is currently being blogged.

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My Favorite Passage from Schwarzenegger’s Speech

By Steven Taylor @ 8:54 am

“My fellow immigrants, my fellow Americans, how do you know if you are a Republican? Well, I tell you how. If you believe that government should be accountable to the people, not the people to the government, then you are a Republican.

If you believe a person should be treated as an individual, not as a member of an interest group, then you are a Republican.

If you believe your family knows how to spend your money better than the government does, then you are a Republican.

If you believe our educational system should be held accountable for the progress of our children, then you are a Republican.

If you believe this country, not the United Nations, is the best hope for democracy, then you are a Republican.

And, ladies and gentlemen, if you believe that we must be fierce and relentless and terminate terrorism, then you are a Republican.

Now, there’s another way you can tell you’re a Republican. You have faith in free enterprise, faith in the resourcefulness of the American people and faith in the U.S. economy. “

Source: Text: Remarks by California Gov. Schwarzenegger to the National Republican Convention (washingtonpost.com)

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Today’s Bite-Sized Toast

By Steven Taylor @ 8:41 am

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


BITE-SIZE TOAST FOR NIGHT TWO

Given that last night was a network TV night, the GOP probably couldn’t have asked for better than Schwarzenegger’s passionate and well-delivered speech. Not only did he tell a compelling story about his own life, but his appeal to immigrants and undecided voters was well crafted and helped to highlight the core principles of the Republican Party.

Indeed, on a night in which it seems that the Kerry camp was in disarray, this was another good night for the Bush team.

OVERVIEW

  • The NYT: The Upbeat Republicans Revive Bush Theme of Compassion.
  • Text and Video of Speeches at the Republican National Convention.
  • WaPo: Bush’s Leadership Against Terror Hailed.
  • Right on Red: Convention Reaction Roundup Day 2.
  • Jay Tea at Wizbang: RNC, Night Two - the view from Cow Hampshire.
  • Pejman Yousefzadeh has some lengthy and interesting comments on Night Two.

ARNOLD

  • Jonah Goldberg at The Corner:
    I really think Schwarzenegger’s speech was brilliant. And for reasons that most pundits and reporters won’t appreciate. In the past, moderates did their schtick about how the Right was too obsessed about abortion or how it was wrong about affirmative action. What Arnold did tonight was not only reach out to moderates but he reached out to conservatives and reminded them that we still have a lot in common with the moderates.

  • Robert Tagorda was personally moved by the speech and also has some insightful commentary.
  • Kevin Drum echoes my passing comment on Nixon from last night.

THE TWINS

  • While amusing, and employing some good lines (loved the hamster ref, and the “young and irresponsible” line wasn’t bad either), they did come across as a tad goofy, and bit younger than than college grads. Barabara is clearly the more ongoing of the two. James Joyner had a similar reaction:
    The Bush Twins were fine for 22-year-olds and would certainly have come across better with the benefit of the visuals. Leaving aside their age and beauty, they were a bit silly as by the standards of convention speakers. And the juxtaposition of “Sex and the City,” Grandma Bush, and 22-year-old twin hotties is more than I needed.

  • Michael Graham at The Corner
    Jenna and Barbara aren’t talking to us. They’re talking to younger, relatively uninformed voters who were roped into watching the convention by their poli-sci professor or their parents. Admittedly the “I think Tom Green is funny and I’m voting for Bush” bloc is a small one, but as we learned in 2000, ever vote counts.

  • Amy Sullivan, blogging at The Washington Monthly’s Political Animal wasn’t impressed, and quotes some others, including Fox folks, who weren’t either.
  • WaPo: The Bush Twins, Ready to Party.

LAURA

  • the text.

  • I missed this one, but from what I read, the reviews were mixed. Following Arnold had to be tough.
  • USAT: First lady praises Bush’s ’strength and conviction’
  • CNN: Laura Bush urges nation to trust president
  • Lorie Byrd at PoliPundit comments (she liked the speech and didn’t like Tom Brokaw).
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