Τρίτη, Αυγούστου 31, 2004

Stand up comedy is probably not in the Bush girls' future.


Lt. Gov Michael Steele of Maryland had what could be the best line of the evening: "John Kerry said he doesn't want to use "war" to describe our struggle against global terror. Well, I don't want to use 'Commander in Chief' to describe John Kerry!" (Applause, jubilation, dancing in the aisles, etc...)

Man, this guy's good. He'd make a good VP candidate for Rudy.

Protest Photoblogging

Today I went down to Midtown to find and photograph the protests. I did indeed find them, so here you go.
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This band of bothers was up in my neighborhood for some reason. Not only did they have a sousaphone, they were lead by a man in a pink dress with a purple scarf. They did not, however, have rhythm. Nor music.

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I spotted this group as I was crossing 59th street along 5th Ave. They're very brave. Yay for Young Republicans!

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When I was in Times Square, I saw a bunch of cop cars heading south on Broadway, so I decided to head that way myself. At the corner of 40th and B'way, 18 bikers had ditched their bikes and sat down in the intersection. By the time I got there, they were all under arrest, sitting on the corner.

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This guy seemed very pleased with himself, and also rather pleased that I took his picture. I'm not sure whether he's representing the Leprechan League or the Lollipop Guild.

I headed over to the steps of the Manhattan Public Library at 5th and 42nd street, where a major rally was scheduled to take place.

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Yes. We're exploiting 9/11. W alsoe eat babies. You caught us. Now what?

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When the cops began to move on the protesters, the whole crowd burst out chanting, "CHE! CHE! CHE! CHE!" Except for me. I burst out laughing, nearly blowing my liberal cover.

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This guy was informing the cops that he was a lifelong ACLU member. They seemed nonplussed, to say the least. The cops cleared the steps and forced us all over to the courtyard on the side.

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When we got to our new location, one of the guys busted out the bullhorn and we had a nice round of chanting. Some of the chants:




"STRIKE! STRIKE! STRIKE! STRIKE!" (directed at the police)

"YOU ARE THE WORKING CLASS!" (also directed at the police)



WE ALL LIVE IN A POLICE STATE, A POLICE STATE, A POLICE STATE!" (to the tune of "Yellow Submarine")

"WE'RE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER! WE'RE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER!" (which is a pity, because the body odor of this crew was rather strong.)

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This woman had a loud voice and a great deal of enthusiasm, but absolutely no rhythm. She was chanting about a beat and a half behind the rest of the crowd.

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The typical lefty granola crowd -- flakes, fruits and nuts

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Here are the good guys, the fine men and women of the NYPD.

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Here are some more green hat "Legal Observers" from the National Lawyers Guild.

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On my way home, I found another 'band'. I assume that, if given the option, these righteous folks would vote for Democrat Robert C Byrd, as he is not a "compassionate conservative."

That's all I have for tonight. Now go watch the convention.

UPDATE: Welcome, Dean's World, MVRWC, and Club for Growth readers! Take a look around, and if you like what you see, drop me a comment or blogroll me. Thanks for stopping by!

Some Free Advice for the Kerry Campaign

If the rumored shake-up of the Kerry campaign is actually taking place, let me suggest that Mary Beth Cahill be the first neck on the block. I mean, I dislike and distrust John Kerry, but it is Mary Beth who induces a quivering, cursing rage. I can't imagine that other people, even ones who like John Kerry, really enjoy her email bitch'n'whine fests. Get somebody cute and perky. Heck, John Edwards isn't doing much, let him sign the emails. It wasn't the Two Americas schtick that got him so far, it was the Miss Merry Sunshine routine. Let him use it. Or not. But please, for the love of the deity of your choice, ditch Mary Beth. Please.

The Boy From Oz

As I've mentioned, I saw The Boy From Oz last week, and I now have my review posted over at Abigail Reviews Everything. Go read it. Then come back.


Jeff got Boortz'd this morning for his video of the Kerry girls getting booed, and so I've offered to help him take a load off his bandwidth. I'm sorry it's only in Windows Media format (Institutionalized platformism, that's what it is...Mac users of the world, Untie!) but you'll have to make do. In any case, here it is:


Everybody Sing Now!

It's my mother's 50th birthday today, so...everyone sing!

Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday dear Mom
Happy birthday to you.

And now Spanish!
Feliz cumpleanos a ti
Feliz cumpleanos a ti
Feliz cumpleanos querida Mama
Feliz cumpleanos a ti.

And finally, Greek!
Καλά γενέθλια σ'εσενα
Καλά γενέθλια σ'εσενα
Καλά γενέθλια αγάπημενη Μαμά μου
Καλά γενέθλια σ'εσενα

Sing, and the whole world sings with you...

Δευτέρα, Αυγούστου 30, 2004

Troll-fishing (with bonus stories!)

Today, apparently in commemoration of my 600th post, we seem to have picked up a pet troll. I could delete her comments, but they're far too funny. So, let the troll be exposed to the light of day and turned to stone!

Our friend found me through a comment I had left on Wizbang about the 'women's movement'; the comment read as follows:
"What really irritates me is that the "Women's Movement" claims to speak for all of us (I'm personally somewhat ambivelent on the issue), and if we don't toe the abortion line, we're Uncle Toms. Or if we choose to stay home. Or, God forbid, choose to submit to our husbands. Or at least consider that women are different from men. As good as, yes, but the same as, no.

The problem with the women's groups is that they aren't women's groups, they're abortion groups in pink clothing."
I stand by that argument. So then along comes 'bonnie'. And she says:
you are STUPID - you said this? "[My Comment]
"SUBMIT ?????
right, carry on, you idiotic 'woman' - you should sex change since you are SO dense. "Leftist women?" What they wear? What do YOU wear? Something boring as @!$#@$#, I bet!

GET a LIFE; you clearly NEED one.

Oh, yeah, and by the way - since you're a UNIVERSITY graudate, (and that means you probably took ONE english course) - you should know - there is no such word as "foundational" - hello - earth to whoever you ARE~!!!! The obsolete phrase for which you are searching is "foundation garment". Whatever ...

As whoopi said, the only BUSH I'm every trusting is MY OWN!!!!

IDIOTS - go home and let NYC get on with its life!!!!
Alright, several things. First, on the whole "submit" bit. I'm a Christian. I believe that when two people are married, one has to have the final say in the event of an absolute draw, and I believe that God gave that responsibility to the husband. I don't think he should lord it over her. I would under no circumstances marry a man who I did not trust completely to look after my well-being. Now, aside from a man who I would choose to marry, I am under obligation to submit to 1) God, 2) the decisions of my pastors, within reason, and 3) my parents, until I reach an age of independence and reason, which I already have, so that doesn't count.

Now, if, God forbid, I am ever raped by a psychotic individual, he will, de facto, not be my husband, and therefore I will be under no obligation to submit to him. This should go without saying, but since Bonnie seems to have trouble making the leap, I'll help. Whether or not I would choose to keep a baby in the event of rape is a question I do not know how I would answer. I tend to allow for abortion in the event of rape, although I can make a logical argument against that. (This is why I am ambivilent on the issue -- because I can easily see both sides.)

I was unaware that the overall density of men was greater than that of women. Perhaps that's why more women than men survived the sinking of the Titanic. Actually, I guess we are less dense, as we have a higher percentage of body fat -- breasts and all.

Now, since you didn't get the joke, dear, my crack about what "leftist women" wear, was a reference to the old feminist bra burners -- in other words, they don't wear anything. Is this stereotypical? Yes. Is this a rash generalization? Yes. Is this my blog? Yes. So do I care if you have a problem with these things? No, not in the slightest. As for what I wear being "boring as @!$#@$#," two things come to mind. First, I do not intend to show my undergarments to an interested party until such time as I get married*, and as that is not imminent, their interest-generating capacity is not a huge priority. Second, I have better things to do, personally, than be entertained by my own panties. And you accuse me of needing a life. Sheesh.

Yes, I am a university graduate, yes, I took exactly one english course and also one technical writing class (English for engineers) and shockingly, foundation(al) garments were discussed in neither. I had much more interesting experiences with foundation(al) garments in my other classes, actually. And in any case, foundational garment is also an acceptable usage. Most importantly, this is stupid. My blog, my joke, my linguistic constructions. Deal.

Now, Bonnie says, "As whoopi said, the only BUSH I'm every trusting is MY OWN!!!!" We as women give men a lot of crap for "thinking with the little head instead of the big one" -- why should it be positive for women to engage in genitalia-led decision making? I'm unclear on this.

And finally, Bonnie, I am home. I actually live in NYC. I pay enough rent to have the right to call this place home. You are in Washington or thereabouts, you obviously have no right to tell me to leave my home, any more than I have a right to tell you to abandon yours.

I'm not going to ban Bonnie, as long as she continues to be entertaining. Once that ceases, she's history. I hope you all had as much fun with this as I did.

*I've done a lot of theatre. Several times, I've found myself in...interesting...undergarment-related predicaments because of costumes I've had to wear. One incident involved a backless, strapless bra that had mysteriously jettisoned its underwires that had to be held up with gaffer tape, a very quick change, and an elderly math teacher standing by. Needless to say, the gaffer tape gave way at a most inopportune moment. In another incident, I was wearing a queen outfit with a rigid bodice that would not permit me to wear any bra at all. This top was very low cut and had huge puffed sleeves, which were so large that I could hardly bring my hands together, and could only bend at the waist. And I had to play croquet in this dress (Alice in Wonderland, anyone?) which required me to bring my arms together, forcing the front of the bodice open, and to bend over nearly double at the waist, which put me at risk for a Janet Jackson moment. Thus, we decided that some sort of double-sided tape would be required. So when we went to Home Depot for set materials, the girl playing Alice and I went to go find some tape. We found an older employee, and asked him where we might find double-sided tape. He led us to some very stout looking carpet tape. Now, before I apply carpet tape to any part of my body, and especially the one in question, I ask questions, so we vaguely asked if, in theory, this tape would stick to skin, and if so, would it come off, etc. The employee asked exactly what we wanted it for, and so I said, "We're doing this show, and there's this girl who needs to be taped in to her dress so she won't fall out..." and he said something to the effect of "Oh, well, you know, if she sweats, she might fall outsowhenandwhereistheperformance?" And I think we lied, took the tape, and sidled away from the dirty old man as fast as we could. As it turned out, sweat did not cause the tape to come off. Nothing really did. The tape did, however, cause a significant layer of my skin to come off -- I had marks for months. And those are all the stories of my breasts and adhesives you get for the evening.

UPDATE: In the event you were having trouble visualizing the aforementioned enormous queen dress, here you have it.
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Walking in Times Square, Day II

I'm heading down to Times Square again, hopefully I'll get to see some action. And if I don't and thus get to enjoy my daily walk in peace, that's fine too. I'm dressed in my liberal-proof garb: Michigan T-shirt, athletic shorts, sensible foundational garments [How do you expect to pass as a leftist woman while wearing foundational garments? -- Ed. Well, I want to be able to run if the riots start. And besides, some things are, well, foundational. I'm compensating by wearing unscented deodorant], sturdy sandals, and wearing my hair up in a bun. I realize that I still look a bit normal for the lunar crowd, but I did manage to pass yesterday --- I was on my way home, at the corner of 1st and 68th street, on the phone, and a woman, about 55 years old, I'd guess, stopped me an asked excitedly, "Did you march?" My reply: "Me? Heck no! I'm a Republican!" and then I walked off. Good times. I'll have more pics up later.

Protest in Times Square

I went down to Times Square yesterday for my walk and did indeed survive. I did not, however, heed Susan's advice that "If you see cops in riot gear heading in one direction, turn and run the other." I saw cops in riot gear and hopped up on a planter to watch the action. And I have pictures!

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Here we have some of New York's Finest and their motorcycles, about 5 minutes before the protesters arrived in Times Square.

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This girl was standing at the other end of my planter with a few of her friends. Her shirt reads "Riot Grrrl N*Y*C". Somehow I envision her more in a cafeteria food fight than in an actual riot, but I also have no respect for 'grrrls' so that might have something to do with it.

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The NYPD marches in to secure the Bank of America and 46th (I think) street. They wound up trapping a bunch of the more unruly protesters with big orange nets, and actually captured one guy by netting him. Several arrests were made under the BofA awning.

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The people over by the Howard Johnson were chanting and waving signs before also being contained by the NYPD. Their chant sounded very much like "NO MORE DEMOCRACY" but we eventually discerned that it was probably "GO HOME RNC!" It could have been anything though. These people may have great passion, but their diction is marginal at best.

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This is looking south in Times Square. Lots of action.

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The people in green hats were self-proclaimed "Legal Observers". As best I could tell, their function is to claim mistreatment by the police and threaten to sue. Several of the green hat folks were part of the Bank of America confrontation with the police.

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The NYPD, consumate professionals, stood there calmly and secured the area as this man taunted them and stirred up the crowd across the street at HoJo's. This man, despite his issues with America, should be mighty glad he was protesting here and not in, say, China. In many countries of the world, he would have been shot or beaten on the spot, and then if he survived that, dragged off for torture.

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These two (man in blue shirt, girl in white shirt with backpack and camera) had badges that said "Arizona Independent Media Center: Press -- Photographer" on them. That didn't really ring a bell, until I saw the URL: arizona.indymedia.org. For being part of such a virulently leftist site, they seemed pretty normal. Their friends were a little more typical of the protesters.

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The police had another group of protesters trapped a bit farther south than my original position.

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More NYPD guys, this time farther south along Broadway. They're good men and women and they did an excellent job keeping the peace yesterday. I'll have more updates later today.

Enemies of the Mango

Not that the Dems don't usually enrage me, but they're doing an exceptional job this week. The current stick-up-their-rump is this, from CNN.com:
In the [Time] interview [Laura Bush] is asked, "Do you think these swift boat ads are unfair to John Kerry?"

"Not really," she replies. "There have been millions of terrible ads against my husband."
So then the Kerry campaign says:
"Mrs. Bush's statement in support of the swift boat smear ads is more sad evidence that these attacks have been coordinated from the top down at the White House," Kerry campaign spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter said in a statement.
Let me type this slowly for you, Steph: No, it friggin' isn't and you know it. I don't believe the ads to be particularly unfair to John Kerry but that doesn't mean anybody coordinated them with me. Stephanie, you join Mary Beth Cahill on the Enemies of the Mango list.

Κυριακή, Αυγούστου 29, 2004

I Think I'll Go For A Walk Outside Now

I'm extremely peeved at the moment. Every day, I walk from my apartment to the 72nd street entrance of Central Park. From there, I wind my way over to the 7th Avenue exit at 59th street and walk south on 7th, through Times Square and the heart of the Theatre district, to 42nd street. I turn left and walk past Bryant Park and the Library, past Grand Central Station, and turn north on Lexington at the Chrysler building. I walk north past the Citigroup center, all the way to 68th street, where I turn east and walk until I get to 1st Avenue at St. Catherine's Park. I walk from there to Blockbuster, swap out my DVDs, and head home. That is my routine. It is a 6 mile walk, and provides me with good exercise, my daily fix of the Theatre district, and DVDs for the evening.

And the protesters are everywhere, making me reconsider going out. If you'd like to read what they are doing, go here, from Right Thinking Girl. Protein Wisdom has a slightly more assertive philosophy. I'm planning on putting on a Michigan shirt that I don't particularly care about (it's a liberal school, right? [Ann Coulter went to law school there. -- Ed. They don't talk about that...]) and put my hair up in a bun, so it's harder to grab, and carry my laptop case instead of my purse, because the laptop case is less nice. I'm going to keep my mace and my cell phone very handy.

And then I'm going to take my walk. Because those bastards aren't going to win. Maybe I'll get a chance to flip off Michael Moore in person!

Oh, Good Call

Rob at SayAnything took a little trip in the Wayback machine, and made a discovery:
Democrats have been making much of this video of former Texas Lt. Governor Ben Barnes admitting that he helped get George W. Bush into the Texas Air National Guard. During the video he states that he used his pull as lt. governor to put the younger Bush at the top of the TANG acceptance list. He specifically states, "When I was lt. governor of Texas..."

The only problem is that Bush joined TANG in 1968 while Barnes wasn't the lt. governor until 1969.

But that isn't stopping the liberal media from going to press with this story. They're just leaving out the part about him saying that he was the lt. governor when he did this.


Perhaps it is possible that Barnes helped Bush out from his position as House speaker, but that is not the claim he is making. He is saying that he helped Bush out when he was lt. governor of Texas, something that is clearly a false statement. Yet the media has taken it upon themselves to cover up this hole in his statement without even pausing to question it or get the facts straight.
You know, it was almost better when Bill Clinton lied about sex, because at least we couldn't fact check that by Googling. The whole "fudging the dates served by elected officials" bit is just a wee bit insulting. Yes, we're the unwashed masses [Hey, you showered today!-- Ed. They don't know that...] but we're not idiots. In the immortal words of N.Z. Bear
That kind of carelessness might have cut it a few years ago, when somnolent Big Media hacks were satisfied to define reporting as getting quotes from both party's spokesmen. But times have changed, friends: there isn't just one new sheriff in town, there's thousands of us. We will fact-check your ass, and we will do it thoroughly and properly, with links and primary sources that let our readers decide where the truth lies. So straighten up and fly right, because we are watching --- and we do this crap for fun.

Σάββατο, Αυγούστου 28, 2004


Against my will, I frequently get emails from aquaintances who believe that I am a liberal fellow-traveler and therefore might enjoy a good dose of propaganda. Most recently, I've been encouraged to join MoveOn.org and also to read John Kerry's full 1971 testimony so I can see just how badly those evil Repugs have taken it out of context; in their minds, the context renders his statements excusable. In my opinion, the full context doesn't really improve it, but the real question is this: Did the Viet Cong take great care to include the full context when they used it against our POWs? Did it make things better for them, or was it still unacceptable and worth being tortured over?

It Just Keeps Going

I've been avoiding the whole Swiftvets thing, for the most part, or at least comparatively, partially because so many other bl*ggers are doing such a good job, and I figure that if you read me, you probably read them too. The latest seems to be worth mention though:
Former Navy Secretary John Lehman has no idea where a Silver Star citation displayed on Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry's campaign Web site came from, he said Friday. The citation appears over Lehman's signature.

"It is a total mystery to me. I never saw it. I never signed it. I never approved it. And the additional language it contains was not written by me," he said.

The additional language varied from the two previous citations, signed first by Adm. Elmo Zumwalt and then Adm. John Hyland, which themselves differ. The new material added in the Lehman citation reads in part: "By his brave actions, bold initiative, and unwavering devotion to duty, Lieutenant (jg) Kerry reflected great credit upon himself...."

Asked how the citation could have been executed over his signature without his knowledge, Lehman said: "I have no idea. I can only imagine they were signed by an autopen." The autopen is a device often used in the routine execution of executive documents in government.

Kerry senior adviser Michael Meehan could not be reached for comment on Kerry's records.
Maybe we could get my buddy Mary Beth to comment. She seems to have lots to say -- she keeps sending me outraged emails about Bush's web of connections to the Swiftvets, after all. As one of Captain Ed's commenters notes:
As a veteran, I am having a hard time seeing how anyone can doctor their military files. I had to get a replacement DD214, and It was a friggin nightmare. The only way Kerry could have forged his documents is if he forged copies, OR he could have used his position as US Senator to illegally gain access to his military 201 file. Either case, this is more serious than I think most realize. This could be criminal. Cue eerie music.
No wonder Kerry thinks that he can Chirac can relate.

Letters from Mom

My mother had the following encounter with a telephonic campaign worker for Missouri Democrat Nancy Farmer's campaign for Senate.
Last night, just after dinner, I received a phone call from the Nancy Farmer campaign.  The caller asked if I had about 90 seconds to listen to why we should elect Nancy Farmer to the US Senate. Well, okay… this would be fine with me, since I have not heard all about her campaign. So I told him to go ahead.  

I listened carefully and even took some notes. My ears really perked up when he said that she would keep jobs from going overseas and would raise the minimum wage. I’m always really curious how this would work -- everyone gets a raise, and as a result all prices go up, so the poor remain poor. But I continued to listen.  

As the call went along, he got more and more enthusiastic and started throwing in comments about her opponent, Kit Bond and his terrible ads. I have been a Bond supporter since he was the governor of our state, but I kept my mouth shut and kept taking notes.  

At the end of the spiel, the caller asked me to make a contribution to the Nancy Farmer campaign.   I looked at my notes, and made a decision based on what I heard.  I told him that I had decided that I would be making a donation…

...To Kit Bond.  

He got REALLY mad, and said, “Well THANKS FOR WASTING MY TIME!!” Interesting, since he’s the one who called ME… and his job was to inform me about his candidate so that I could make an intelligent choice. I guess he did his job well  -  the Bond folks should send their thanks!
Go Mom! If, incidentally, any of the rest of you would like to follow Mom's example and donate to Kit Bond's campaign, you can do that here, or donate to the competitive senate race of your choice. Or to Bush.

Software Steakhouse

Which genius at Microsoft decided that naming the new OS 'Longhorn' was a good idea? (Abigail?) I mean, for starters, it's rather lame to copy Mac's animal theme. And even if you're going to rip that off, 'Longhorn'? At least Apple has good animals. A longhorn is a cow. Or a bull. Not really one of nature's noblest creations. They're stupid, smelly, easily herded by men in large hats, and butchered for meat. About the best thing you can say about them is that they're tasty. And not only are they large, stupid animals, they're large, stupid animals with very long, pointy, dangerous projectiles protruding from their heads. I was once chased down a mountain by several of them, I should know. I suppose this is in some ways truth in advertising -- Microsoft's OSs tend to be large, stupid, and dangerous. But not a really slick marketing strategy, I'd say.

Παρασκευή, Αυγούστου 27, 2004


On Campaign Finance Reform

Captain Ed is exactly right on this. He writes:
The current presidential election provides the first real-time test of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reforms signed into law during this term of office. Its advocates lauded the bill's restrictions on so-called "soft money" -- a designation from previous and unsuccessful campaign finance reform efforts -- from flowing into political parties which used it to support their candidates indirectly through issue advertising. They promised it would keep floods of money from influencing voter choice. Its critics decried the potential for the law to be used as a club to curtail political speech.

It's apparent that the critics were correct.
Leaving the freedom of speech issue aside for a moment, one problem I've always had with campaign finance reform is that it seems like a lot of people blindly support it because they think that politics are too nasty. Betty and Clive in Peoria aren't that concerned that billionaires with agendas have far more influence than they do, they're concerned that the campaign ads disrupt the flow of the Andy Griffith Show reruns. Personally, I don't have a lot of issue with attack ads -- I mean, no, I don't enjoy them any more than you do, and no, I don't think a lot of the "Gov. So-and-So believes that religions that practice human sacrifice should be given federal funds for faith-based programs. Human sacrifice is not a Missouri value. In November, show So-and-So that "MO says NO to ritual human sacrifice" ads hold any water or contribute meaningfully to our political discourse. However, since you can't count on the candidate to give you the more unsavory side of his/her record, somebody's got to do it if the public is going to have a balanced picture of the candidate. It's vaguely similar to the intent of calling references, performing a background check or Googling a job applicant. Political attack ads are part of the cost of democracy. It's worth it. Moving on:
Is this what we wanted from campaign finance reform? A situation where political advertisements are broadcast with no clear responsibility, where political parties have to spend their time not coordinating with like-minded entities to make a strong case for their policies, and where publishers and bookstores are threatened with legal action if they conduct the honorable business of publishing political speech? And all the while, we stand by and watch the soft-money donations explode, with multimillionaires like George Soros able to float millions into shadow campaigns.

It's far past time to admit the obvious. When accountability is removed from the political parties, it frees up people to run all sorts of shadow campaigns -- and if this cycle the Democrats have had the advantage, the next cycle it could just as well be the Republicans. Instead of transparency, political campaigns have become even more opaque, and voters have no idea what, if any, connections can be made by so-called smear campaigns and the candidates they intend to benefit. And when national candidates and their campaigns start calling for books to be banned, then the worst fears of First Amendment violations have been realized.

We need to put an end to the silly distinctions between "soft" and "hard" money, and instead insist on transparency. If George Soros wants to sink $15 million into Kerry's campaign, let him do so directly and let's hold Kerry accountable for its use. If the Swiftvets want to write a book with documentary evidence of Kerry's malfeasance and a publisher wants to print it, let them abide by libel laws and allow the market to determine their viability. Otherwise, all sides will continue to charge forward in political debate to the lowest possible level in order to out-smear the other without any accountablity and without any recourse, and the electorate, already demoralized, will lose faith in and respect for our democratic institutions. For a nation under attack by fascists and religious fanatics, such an outcome will be fatal to our liberty in the long run.
There's more. Go read it.

Watcher's Council

The Council has spoken. I got the least number of votes, but at least I was somebody's second choice. The winners were Letters from La-La-Land from Damnum Absque Injuria and I Attempt a Swift Ad from JustOneMinute. The full results are here -- the Watcher has moved.

Crowded Island

New York is a much smaller town than you'd think it is. I mean, Manhattan isn't all that huge, about 1/6th of the area of my home town, albeit with about a gazillion more people. I know exactly two of them. I mean, I have a casual aquaintance with the super of my building and the guy who runs the diner downstairs, and a growing familiarity with the Fedex guy, but there are only two people who I actually know, friends from Michigan. I've randomly run into both of them in the past two weeks. One of them I knew to be in the city, and ran into him near NYU, which is where he lives. The other is not yet living in the city -- he's commuting from Long Island -- and I didn't know he was planning to move here. I ran into him today at the corner of 42nd St and Madison. I was crossing facing west, he was crossing facing east. I looked across the street and thought, "Hey, that guy looks like Peter." A bus passed. Good gracious, it was Peter. I waved. He waved. We stood there and looked surprised for the interminable time until the light changed. So it is possible to run into people you know here.

On the Heartwarming Things front, I was walking in Times Square area, going north from 42nd St up 7th by the Amsterdam and I passed through a cluster of cops who were passing through a cluster of people selling rather vile Bush-bashing bumper stickers (ed.-- Why sell bumper stickers in Manhattan? No one owns a bumper.... Beats me) and the cops yelled "Bush Rules!" at them. It made my heart happy.

Πέμπτη, Αυγούστου 26, 2004

Yay for Mothers!

My mother, who is wonderful, just sent me a care package.
The contents:
  • 8 boxes of 2-Points bars, which cost $3 in Springfield and $5 here

  • Smoothie mix

  • A Blender! Yay! (I'd also like a food processor, but I'm surviving quite nicely without it. If my mother spent the first 45 years of her life without a proper spice rack, I can live two years without a food processor. Plus, grating things is good exercise.)

  • Quinoa, which is a rather exotic grain, sacred to the Aztecs or Incans or Mayans or something, and is the only grain that is a complete protein. Exciting.

  • Red Tumblers

  • Yellow rice. Now I can make paella!

  • Scotch tape (but no dispenser)

  • Post-it Notes. I've always had a strange fondness for Post-its, probaby because, in high school debate, I was often asked to say the word 'Post-it Note' (and 'goat' and 'boat' and 'North Dakota'...) so the Missourians could mock my northern accent. Good times.

  • U of M and U of M School of Music Alumni Association stuff

  • Packing Peanuts -- Poor man's confetti.

  • Party!

    Relatedly, sending a package to me is not as hard as we previously expected. If I'm home, the Fedex guy rings and I buzz him up with the package/envelope. If I'm not, they leave a note and try again, just like they would if you lived in a regular house. We actually shipped all of my stuff here by Fedex (except for three duffel bags and my banjo, which went on the plane) and everything but one Pyrex lid survived unscathed. Not bad. I don't know why getting packages seemed like it would be so hard (possibly because I don't live in a doorman building), but it did. I'm glad we got that worked out.

    More Fan Mail from Mary Beth

    Dear Friend,
    Ours is an interesting friendship, Mary Beth -- you don't know me and I can't stand you. Maybe we can write a memoir, sell the book rights, and have a heartwarming Lifetime movie made, in which I am portrayed by a young Judy Garland, and you are portrayed by Margaret Hamilton.
    Do we want to yield the month of August to George Bush, to Republican attack ads, and to a GOP convention that will work mightily to disguise Bush's miserable record? Or do we want to make August ours?
    Well, summoning the Wayback machine, we'll recall that your plan for August was to take the month off, more or less, to conserve your $75 million allowance. If you had really wanted to make August yours, you could have held your convention then, but back when you thought the nominee would be out of money by July, having the convention then seemed like a good idea. Don't make it sound like Bush condemned you all to the Dome of Silence. In fact, I can think of two cheap, easy ways for you to fight back. 1) Have Kerry release his records, since he obviously has nothing to hide. It's just a simple two-page form, won't cost a cent. Much cheaper than hiring lawyers. 2) Let the press interview Kerry. It's much cheaper than making ads.
    August 31 is a critical end-of-month deadline for the Democratic Party. It's another opportunity to demonstrate our determination to not yield an inch to Bush and his relentless negative attacks.
    Why yes, August 31st is the end of the month. (Also my mother's birthday.) Other than that, why is it a deadline? Will a contribution made on September 1st go to electronic ash? I mean, I know it's a nice round number, but is there any real reason why I should give you money now instead of any other time? I love Democrats. It's hot outside! Send money to turn up the heat on George Bush! The pollen count is high -- this is another opportunity to take a stand against Bush and other pollen producing shrubs! Etc.
    Help make August ours! Make a matching gift donation now.
    Several points:
    1) So far, Mary Beth, you've not done an exceptional job with August, Bush notwithstanding. I mean, your candidate has not done well this month.
    2) If I were to go about staking claim to August, I'd start, say, the 1st. Not the 26th.
    Because August 31 is so critical, a group of leading Democrats has established a special "Don't Yield an Inch" matching fund. These stalwart supporters of our party have agreed to match, dollar-for-dollar, every contribution you make between now and the end of August -- up to $2 million.
    We still haven't cleared up why August 31st is so critical. But because you said it, Mary Beth, it must be true.
    In George Bush's dreams, the closing days of this month will see Bush's August fundraising advantage overwhelm John Kerry, who had to end his primary campaign fundraising five weeks earlier than Bush. But, in the real world, the Democratic Party's "Don't Yield an Inch" matching fund drive will show George Bush and his allies that every time they attack us, our supporters step up to make us even stronger.
    No, they step up to make your campaign richer. All the funds in the world will not change the fact that your candidate, frankly, stinks.
    In George Bush's dreams, the GOP convention will deliver a devastating blow to John Kerry as August draws to a close. And Bush wants to enter the critical post-Labor Day phase of the campaign with an edge over an opponent severely weakened by his campaign's fundraising advantage and by his willingness to wage a relentlessly negative campaign.
    Wouldn't you? You make playing to win sound like a bad thing. The real fun is that George Bush is already getting a boost, without saying a word and without having the convention. Nobody likes a whiner, Mary Beth, and you and your party are whiners.
    But, in the real world, Bush and the Republicans are about to learn that the genuine August advantage belongs to our side, not theirs'. We're following John Kerry's lead and we're not backing down -- not now, not at the most critical point in the most important election of our lifetime, not ever.
    " We're following John Kerry's lead and we're not backing down."Pardon me while I guffaw. [...] Okay, I'm better. He may not be backing down, but only because he hasn't attempted any sort of egress from his cave all month. Is this how he's going to "not back down" from hostile foreign countries? I mean, he may feel that he's being brave by sending Cleland after the Swiftvets, but I certainly don't.
    Make a matching gift donation right now.
    I'll pass, thanks.
    If you can send a gift of $50, the Democratic Party will have $100 available to fund critical voter contact efforts that will benefit John Kerry and the entire Democratic ticket.

    And, if somehow you can see your way to a $125 gift, the Democratic Party will have $250 to devote to our single-minded mission: winning historic Democratic victories this November.
    I'm glad we spelled out that math. I find it disturbing that the single-minded mission is winning Democratic victories. I mean, at least they're honest, but I'd prefer a party that actually wants to do something. I want a candidate who wants to use his powers for good, not one that just wants powers.
    Here's the bottom line. This election is a test of our deepest-held values -- and of our willingness to put it all on the line in defense of those values.
    What are those? Winning? Power? Socialism?
    It has never been more important for you to stand up for the values that stand at the heart of America's promise. For the next six days, every dollar you send will be fully matched -- doubling the impact of your support for John Kerry and the Democratic ticket.
    I've always felt that matching funds drives were a bit of a motivational scam. But that's just me.
    Let's make August ours. Please help us take full advantage of the matching fund.
    Who is the matching fund? "Leading Democrats," you say. Are we talking Soros? Gore? Moore? (gulp) Carter? Who are these folks?
    Like hell you are.
    Mary Beth Cahill
    Campaign Manager

    Off With His Head!

    If you'd been reading the media reports recently, you'd know that the reports on the abuses at the Abu Ghraib prison indicated that Donald Rumsfeld should be strung up by his ankles and harassed with Silly String, before being summarily executed.

    And you'd be wrong. In today's OpinionJournal:
    Since Operation Enduring Freedom began in October 2001, the U.S. has handled about 50,000 detainees in Afghanistan, Iraq and other venues of the war on terror. Among those, about 300 allegations of abuse have arisen. And as of this month 155 investigations have resulted in 66 substantiated cases of mistreatment. Only about a third of those cases were related to interrogation, while another third happened at the point of capture, "frequently under uncertain, dangerous and violent circumstances."

    So notes Tuesday's report from the Independent Panel to Review DOD Detention Operations, empowered in May by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and chaired by former Pentagon chief James Schlesinger. The report offers invaluable perspective on the abuse scandal at Abu Ghraib and is devastating to those who've sought to pin blame on an alleged culture of lawlessness going all the way to the top of the Bush Administration. John Kerry must be even more disoriented by the Swift boat story than he appears if he thinks now's the time to call for Mr. Rumsfeld's resignation.


    The Schlesinger report does place blame higher up the chain of command--including some with ex-theater commander Ricardo Sanchez--but for inadequate supervision of the detention facility and adapting too slowly to the Iraqi insurgency. Another report released yesterday by the U.S. Army and Major General George Fay likewise exonerates the military chain of command of policies that could be interpreted as sanctioning abuse, though it does say that an intelligence unit at Abu Ghraib was involved in abuses separate from those involving the now-famous Maryland National Guardsmen.

    That distinction is critical, and the Schlesinger report emphasizes the latter "were not part of authorized interrogations nor were they even directed at intelligence targets." Looking at mistreatment both at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere, the report says that "No approved procedures called for or allowed the kinds of abuse that in fact occurred. There is no evidence of a policy of abuse promulgated by senior officials or military authorities."
    Got that? That means, contrary to popular belief, Rummy didn't commission Private England's porn pics. He did not put in supply requests for leashes. Are we clear on this, or is the tinfoil affecting reception? Moving..er...on.
    Rhode Island Senator Jack Reed, for one, would seem to owe some apologies. In a May hearing he accused Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, Joint Chiefs Vice Chairman Peter Pace, and the rest of the Pentagon of sanctioning war crimes. Also owing apologies are all those journalists who applauded his demagogy as some kind of gotcha moment, and who threw around words like "torture" so glibly.

    Worse than being wrong, these accusations have endangered the lives of soldiers by forcing a retreat in interrogation techniques so severe that it's hampering the U.S. ability to fight the counterinsurgency in Iraq. "We can't even use basic police interrogations tactics that they use in the States," a Marine officer is quoted as saying in a Journal news article yesterday by Greg Jaffe and David S. Cloud.
    You know, some day, the lexicon of my generation will replace Jane Fonda with Michael Moore and John Kerry with Jack Reed, updating the roll call of Americans who have given aid and comfort to our enemies. And what can we do about it? Not much, really. Such is freedom.

    Round II

    First the Swiftvets, now the POWs.

    Τετάρτη, Αυγούστου 25, 2004

    Because We REALLY Need A Huge Legal Battle Over This

    Oh Good Grief.

    "The sudden resignation of Bush's top lawyer doesn't end the extensive web of connections between George Bush and the group trying to smear John Kerry's military record," said Kerry-Edwards campaign manager Mary Beth Cahill. "In fact, it only confirms the extent of those connections."

    A senior House Democrat, Michigan Rep. John Dingell, sent a letter asking Attorney General John Ashcroft to investigate the possible "illegal coordination" between the two. The Bush campaign and the veterans group have denied any coordination.
    Have I mentioned how much I dislike Mary Beth Cahill? Partially because I'm on the Kerry email list and often receive outraged half (or less) truths from her that she expects me to believe. That ticks me off. So now we ask Ashcroft to investigate. So, follow closely here, the Democrats are running to their Number One Satan, Captain Prudish Repression himself, Mr. Suppression of Civil Liberties, trying to repress and suppress speech. I suppose they figure he's experienced in the matter. And if he doesn't do anything about it, if he files no charges, if he laughs at them until he slightly dampens his boxers, then its a Conspiracy. Next the Dems will claim the Ashcroft has connections to the Swiftvets. Just kill me now.
    Having an attorney in common does not automatically make the Bush campaign and the veterans group coordinated in the eyes of the Federal Election Commission, nor does Ginsberg's approval of the swift boat veterans' ad scripts.
    And who's the Merry Andrew now?
    Law firms on the Democratic side are also representing both the campaign or party and outside groups running ads in the presidential race. Washington attorney Joe Sandler represents the Democratic National Committee and a group airing anti-Bush ads, MoveOn.org.

    DNC spokesman Jano Cabrera said that "isn't even comparable" to Ginsberg's relationship with the Bush campaign and veterans group.
    And similarly, Kerry's lies about his war record aren't even comparable to Bush's lies about his.
    In Texas, Democrat Max Cleland was rebuffed when he tried to deliver a letter protesting the attack ad at Bush's ranch.

    The former Georgia senator, a triple amputee from his service in Vietnam, carried a letter from several Senate Democrats who wrote Bush that "you owe a special duty" to condemn the attacks on Kerry's military service.

    Cleland said he wanted to hand the letter "to a responsible officer here on the gate," but neither a Secret Service officer nor a state trooper would take it. A Texas state official and Vietnam veteran, Jerry Patterson, said he would accept the letter and offered Cleland one of his own supporting Bush. Cleland left and said he would mail the letter
    Oh bite me.

    A Face that Frightens Children

    Oh dear... This made me snork my drink. Way to go, Allah.


    "The Brave are simply those with the clearest vision of what is before them, glory and danger alike, and not withstanding, go out and meet them."

    -Leopold, in Kate and Leopold

    I Need the Wayback Machine

    One thing that I've been realizing over the past fews weeks is that I'd really like to go back and retake my high school IB History of the Americas class. It was taught by a wonderful lady named Mrs. D, who was slightly too old to have actually been a hippie (as she had kids at the time) but whose political views tended towards moonbattery. Consequently, we were taught that the US government was bad, but particularly evil when controlled by Republicans, that the Sandinistas were actually considered to be a "Choir of Angels" by the citizens of Nicaragua, and that Castro is really a very swell guy. I remember thinking it was somewhat biased, but hey, what did I know? My political views gradually shifted from Republican to Republican-with-Socialist-Tendancies. And then I got to college in Ann Arbor, and realized that the leftists were idiots, and returned to my senses. And now I want my Latin American History back. I want the other side of the argument. I want to know the truth, not just Mrs. D's slant on it. I'll get around to it some day, but it really angers/frustrates me to have spent so much time and effort learning things that were essentially not true, or at least very one-sided.

    More Googling

    John Cole did some googling of the abundance of reporting on the Bush National Guard issue, and Donald Sensing comparatively googled the corresponding Kerry phrases. However, they just generally googled. I Google-Newsed. Their numbers are able to take into account bl*gs, web pages, etc, whereas Google News just indicates the MSM info. Nonetheless, it's interesting.

    John Cole got this:
    Bush+National+Guard: Results 1 - 10 of about 703,000

    Bush + National + Guard + Records: Results 1 - 10 of about 278,000

    Bush + AWOL: Results 1 - 10 of about 101,000

    Bush + Deserter: Results 1 - 10 of about 38,100
    And Donald Sensing got these:
    Results 1 - 10 of about 127,000 for kerry swift boat veterans truth.

    Results 1 - 10 of about 7,730 for kerry bronze star controversy

    Results 1 - 10 of about 12,600 for kerry cambodia controversy

    Results 1 - 10 of about 84,600 for kerry "unfit for command".
    Here are the numbers for Google News:

    Bush + National + Guard: Results 1 - 10 of about 10,200

    Bush + National + Guard + Records: Results 1 - 10 of about 1,290

    Bush + AWOL: Results 1 - 10 of about 242

    Bush + Deserter: Results 1 - 10 of about 72

    Kerry Swift Boat Veterans Truth.: Results 1 - 10 of about 5,730

    Kerry Bronze Star Controversy: Results 1 - 10 of about 567

    Kerry Cambodia Controversy: Results 1 - 10 of about 76

    Kerry "Unfit for Command": Results 1 - 10 of about 1,190

    I'm not entirely sure how these numbers are affected by the fact that the whole AWOL kerfuffle was largely months ago, whereas the Kerry inquiry is ongoing.

    You Heard It Here First...

    Mike goes after Al Gore's little historical distortions, and, in the same model, provides his rallying speech for his 2036 presidential run. Hilarity ensues.
    28 years ago, our first and greatest President, Adolf Hitler, made a statement that summed our entire American trust. Speaking before the Reichstag, he said, "And this is an undisputed fact...that it is the right of every man to demand that his lemonade should be freshly squeezed, and not made from concentrate. Britain has denied us this sacred right, and foresworn their friendship and their sovrennitty [sic]."

    In the time since those immortal words were uttered, we have graven them on our hearts, on our lawbooks, on our public buildings, and in the minds of schoolchildren, that we may all hold them dear and invoke them in our pursuit for justice and peace for our nation.


    But I have to admit to you that I come before you tonight with a more personal reason. You've all heard my story. You've all heard the story of my lovely wife Tamika, who, as an African-American albino, has had to fight oppression and prejudice every day of her life. I remember I would wait at the door with a soufflé every day to meet her as she came home from the prison counseling center. I heard her stories of how she was physically spat upon, and called the filthiest names. And I wept with her. And as I lifted her from the wheelchair to carry her to bed, I wished every moment that I could bear that burden for her. My wife is a smart, wonderful lady, and I have to admit to you that I fight this fight for her.
    And there's LOTS more where that came from, folks. Go read the whole thing.

    Τρίτη, Αυγούστου 24, 2004

    Time Warner Cable is of the Devil

    Or is the devil.

    When I signed up for my cable modem, I agreed to a promotion that included 6 months at $29.95 a month and free installation, along with an equipment deposit. The online offer that I qualified for said it, the representative who called me to set up the installation said it, and then the service tech who installed it said that I wouldn't be charged for the installation.

    So I just got my bill, and I got charged $25 for the installation. So I called the billing department, and got Evil Bitch Woman of the Universe on the line, and she informed me that I didn't actually qualify for the promotion, and anyway, it didn't involve free install, and so I should be paying much more per month and so I should just leave it alone.

    I told her that, be that as it may, I was told that I qualified and signed up for a certain offer, and I felt that I had been bait-and-switched. She told me that they were being more than fair, and if I complained any further, she'd just go ahead and change my codes so I'd be paying around $60 a month, so I'd better drop it. She then hung up on me. I guess I'll be paying the $25.


    Totally out of the blue, I got a letter yesterday from the fine folks at NYU offering me a bit of a scholarship based on merit/need. Previously I had been told that I would be receiving exactly no financial aid, which really sucked, but apparently that has changed. It's not a huge amount, but any little bit makes a difference, expecially considering that NYU tuition (not counting the cost of living in this city) is around $33k a year. So this was a wonderful, unexpected blessing.

    New Bl*g Alert

    My friend Mike has started a bl*g called Dime Store Solomon. He doesn't have a specific topic, but he always has interesting things to say, and says them well. So go check him out. Just keep scrolling.

    More Email

    Does this sound bogus to anyone else? I don't really feel like fisking at the moment, but if someone else would like to...
    To: The Kerry-Edwards Campaign
    From: Mark Mellman, Senior Strategist
    Re: Where Bush-Cheney Needs To Be
    Date: August 24, 2004

    As a senior strategist for John Kerry, I have prepared this update for the campaign's most active supporters as we enter the crucial weeks ahead. It's clear that your support has put this campaign in such a strong position as we enter a critical period. Your hard work, activism, and contributions have allowed our campaign to match the Bush campaign on the airwaves and on the ground. I can report that all you've done is now paying off when it counts the most.
    As a general stylistic point, who the hell are you talking to? Is he talking to us or are you talking to the Campaign?
    By any standard, President Bush heads into his convention in a very weak position. His current position stems from the fact that voters judge the incumbent on his performance and on the state of the nation. By this measure, the president is in grave difficulty. To be counted a success, the Republican convention must fundamentally alter public attitudes on President Bush's stewardship of the country.

    There are some basic benchmarks by which an incumbent's success can be measured as the campaign heads into the fall:

    The average winning incumbent has had a job approval rating of 60%. Indeed, every incumbent who has won reelection has had his job approval in the mid-50's or higher at this point. In recent polling, Bush's average approval rating has been 48%. President Bush must emerge from his convention having dramatically altered public perception of his performance in office.

    In recent years, when incumbents have gone on to victory, 52% of voters, on average, said the country was on the right track. Now, just 37% think things are moving in the right direction. Thus, President Bush must convince the electorate that the nation is in much better shape than voters now believe to be the case.

    Every incumbent who has gone on to be reelected has had a double-digit lead at this point.
    If I recall correctly, Clinton was at 51% at this point, and Reagan was at 54%. The largest lead you can have in a two candidate race with 54% of the vote is 8 points. That, at least in base 10, is not a double digit lead.
    Following their conventions, the average elected incumbent has held a 16-point lead, while winning incumbents have led by an average of 27 points. Bush will need a very substantial bounce to reach the mark set by his successful predecessors.

    Incumbents have enjoyed an average bounce in the vote margin of 8 points. On average, incumbents' share of the two-party vote has declined by 4 points between their convention and Election Day.

    President Bush has the opportunity to achieve an average, or even greater, bounce from his convention. Typically, elected incumbents go into their conventions with a 9-point lead, while incumbents who have gone on to win enter their conventions with a 21-point lead. Most current polls show the race quite close. This gives the president substantial room to bounce. By contrast, Senator Kerry entered his convention in a far stronger position than the average challenger. The average challenger goes into his convention 16 points behind, while Senator Kerry entered his convention with a 1-2 point lead. This gave Senator Kerry much less room to bounce.
    Oh, that's a handy way to explain that away. Or maybe he's not rubber, he's glue...

    However, as the data above makes clear, average is not enough for President Bush. Incumbents who went on to win reelection had an average lead of 27 points after their convention. Indeed, the average elected incumbent -- winners and losers -- had a lead of 16 points after their conventions. An average bounce would still leave Bush well below the historical mark set by other incumbents, particularly those who went on to victory.

    Perhaps most important, the average elected incumbent experienced a 4-point drop in his share of the two-party vote from the post-convention polling to Election Day. Thus, to beat the odds, President Bush will need to be garnering 55% of the two-party vote after his convention. Anything less than that and the president will remain in grave political danger.
    Let us remember that this is stupid. This is, in many ways, like watching the Stanley Cup finals and having the commentators say something ridiculous like "Well, in the history of the Hurricanes, only once have they come back to win a series after having a defenseman knocked out by a flying octopus in the second period of the third game after a goalie scored a hat trick, so that doesn't bode well for the 'Canes now." I mean, it's fun and all for us to get all historical trends on this, but it doesn't, in the end, matter. Bush doesn't have to beat the historical mark, he has to beat Kerry. Whether or not he can do that is open to debate, but this doesn't seem to be an average race, and I'm not sure that the historical averages will dictate behavior here.

    UPDATE: James Joyner has a great fisk of this.

    Blue Falcon

    Froggy Ruminations is a great newish bl*g written by a Navy SEAL. He's got all kinds of interesting things to say, especially about the Kerry Kerfuffles, and today's entry is really worth reading. He talks about the type of individual known as a "Blue Falcon," which replaces a slightly more colorful turn of phrase by the same acronym, and refers to the sort of people who are out only for their own gain, and screw the rest.
    Blue Falcon: a version of the military acronym BF which stands for Buddy F*&%er. That is what someone who behaves in a manner which elevates his personal needs or desires above those of the unit to which he belongs. i.e. John Kerry. Let me let you in on a little secret. Not everyone in the military is a selfless, heroic, patriot. No matter where you go or what you do, you will always run into that 10% of people that are completely self absorbed idiots. This is just as true in the SEAL Teams as it is at your workplace.

    Usually, people like this cruise through life on their phony resume and only manage to ruin a few lives that directly intersect with their own miserable existence. But every once in a while one of these people really reach for the stars on backs of colleagues they have stabbed. John Kerry is one of these very elite few. By inflating the heroism and honor of his service he knew that he would have the solid credentials to put him into public office someday. But apparently, someday was too long to wait. So he wiggled his way out of completing his duty in Vietnam on a technicality. Sure, he had the 3 PHs to go, but to have the stones to invoke it 4 months in to a 12 month deployment with nary a scratch is breathtaking Blue Falconry. Screw the brothers, those saps could carry his load while he went home to lay the foundations for his monument to me.
    There's lots more. Go read the whole thing, and then put him on your list of regulars. Good stuff. And a great bl*g title -- gads.

    Μπορώ να γράψω στα ελληνικά!

    Jeff showed me how to use the "International Keyboard" feature of my Mac last night, which, incidentally, is infinitely easier than trying to do something similar on a PC. And shifting between the Engish and Greek keyboards is so easy. I'm excited.


    Apparently, exciting things do occasionally happen on the Upper East Side. I don't mean the really ritzy part alongside the park and on Park/Madison Aves. I mean over where the real people live, over on 2nd and 1st and York. This neighborhood is nice, quiet, and boring, and I think most of the people who live here chose it for exactly that reason. There are no tourists up here because there is nothing interesting to see.

    However, last night, I stopped in the Gristedes a block down from my apartment to pick up some applesauce, and when we came out, the entire sidewalk and most of the street in front of Nino's restaurant was filled with 16-22 year old sorority-style women. According to the clerks in the grocery store, apparently the A&E folks were filming an episode of "Growing Up Gotti" there. First, the Dapper Don dies in my hometown and then his progeny take over my neighborhood. It seems that the boys are heartthrobs of some sort, hence the clone groupies, some waving signs decorated in the manner of the Italian flag. Some radio station had also invited people for the dinner and subsequent viewing party. Reality, my foot.

    So Crazy, It Might Be True

    This is a nice little piece on getting into Harvard Business School. The general thrust of it is that the admissions people don't necessarily look for the best writing or the flashiest vocabulary or the best paraphrasals (is that a word? paraphrases, perhaps) of the school mission statement. They look for leadership and an understanding of people and other things that are important in the business world.

    This piece says a lot, but it leaves one very important elephant in the room, and that is that, perhaps, despite the ravings of the moonbats and the fake "presidential IQ studies" and made up words and paternal connections, maybe the admissions folks at Harvard Business school thought that George W. Bush had what it takes.

    Just maybe, he actually deserved to get in.

    Δευτέρα, Αυγούστου 23, 2004

    [Insert Clever Title Here]

    I just received an email from the John Kerry campaign encouraging me to sign a petition to demand that Bush withdraw the Swiftvets ads. Here it is:
    Dear Friend,
    I'm not your friend, Mary Beth. Chances are, you wouldn't like me.
    On Saturday afternoon, we released a new Internet ad about the lies being spread by the so-called "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth." We asked you to call on George Bush to stop using campaign shills to smear the record of John Kerry and other Vietnam veterans.
    Well, Mary Beth, I'd really like you to stop your candidate, his shills, and yourself from smearing the records of the Swiftvets, and also, while we're at it, Bob Dole, but it seems that today is not a "Your Wish Is My Command" day, so we both may be out of luck. Call off Soros, Michael Moore, Stephen Bing, MoveOn.org, ACT, and the Media Fund and then perhaps we'll talk.
    Your response was amazing -- more than 150,000 of you signed our petition. Incredible!
    Granted, if you'd sent out a petition saying that the moon was made of green cheese and that George Bush should be censured for lying about it, you'd have gotten 150,000 people to sign that too.
    You sent a powerful message to the media, the Bush campaign, and the public: The American people are tired of the lies being told about John Kerry's service in Vietnam.
    I myself am tired of the lies being told about John Kerry's service in Vietnam. My issue is mostly with the lies told by the candidate. I think that signing a Form 180 and releasing his records would go a long way in resolving this.
    On behalf of John Kerry, I want to say thank you. I also want to ask you to forward this petition to your friends, family, and co-workers. There's still time to sign the petition.
    This is stupid on so many levels.

    1) It would be illegal for Bush to tell the Swiftvets what to do or not to do under campaign finance "reform" laws. It would also, incidentally, be illegal, as far as I can tell, for John Kerry to tell them what to do.

    2) The Swiftvets are on a mission, and wouldn't stop even if Bush asked real nice like.

    3) Bush isn't going to ask, for reasons including 1 and 2, but also because this gives him a chance to complain about 527s and throw some false sympathy at Kerry, and besides that, why on earth would Bush want to save the Kerry Campaign from itself. The Swiftads are working. Don't mess with it.

    4) For the above reasons, a petition isn't going to do a damn thing. Petitions are useful for getting an issue on a ballot, and very occasionally, for convincing someone that a whole bunch of people think you should do something. However, I doubt that the signatures of 150k-300k moonbats are going to make Bush lose a lot of sleep. He knows that if these people could sign a petition to have him run out of town on a rail and possibly exiled, they'd do it.
    You've already sent a strong message -- now help us reach 300,000 signatures by forwarding this email now.
    Right, because 300,000 signatures on online petition will definitely bring Dubya to his knees.

    The interesting thing about petitions is that they work very nicely with the liberal "Party of Popularity" thing. You can't just take a stand, you need a bunch of your buddies to take a stand with you, because that makes you more right.

    The most fun part of the email, however, is this:
    P.S. Click here to read the article by William Rood from the Chicago Tribune, telling his first-hand account of John Kerry's heroism in Vietnam.
    They just don't learn, do they? I mean, it's not "P.S. Click here to read John Kerry's plan to win the War on Terror" or something. They just keep going back to Vietnam. I've heard of flashbacks, but this is ridiculous.

    UPDATE: Bush Denounces Outside Groups
    Think that's gonna please Mary Beth? Think that's gonna make the Swifties stop? Think that's going to keep Kerry from whining "Make it stop!" to the administration, FEC, and anyone else that will listen?

    No, me neither.

    Κυριακή, Αυγούστου 22, 2004

    Ask and Ye Shall Receive

    Anyone know anybody in the book publishing industry?

    This Man Gets It

    Ben Stein (yes, that Ben Stein) wrote an absolutely breathtaking final column for EOnline on what stardom is and what it isn't. Go read it all.

    (via Dean Esmay

    Σάββατο, Αυγούστου 21, 2004

    Or Not

    CNN's current big headline: Edwards: Bush could stop swift boat ads. Let me say this in a very slow typeface: No, he friggin' can't. That would be illegal. What he's currently doing is perfectly legal. Telling the Swiftvets to knock it off would be illegal.

    John, just cuz you're pretty, it doesn't mean you're right.

    Tricky Dick, Deux

    Wizbang has a great piece up on Kerry's possible criminal activities, ranging from violations of the Logan Act (preventing private citizens from negotiating peace treaties with foreign governments) with both the Viet Cong and the Sandinistas, to a possible attempted break-in to the office of another candidate. I didn't know about the second of the two, but I'm a firm believer in the Logan Act.

    Furthermore, if he lied under oath while testifying before Congress, he could also be guilty of perjury. You know, I think at this point, I'd be happier with Howard Dean as president than John Kerry. Good grief. You know, I thought I had avoided the Nixon and Carter administrations by being born in 1983. Apparently I have a shot at a redo. I need tin foil.

    ...And The Ship You Came In On

    You know, you really gotta love how the Kerry campaign managed to get the record of their candidate confused with Bob Kerrey. It's the sort of thing that seems like it should be an understandable mistake, but upon further inspection, it really isn't. Here's why:

    First off, pretty much anyone in America has seen Kerry bumperstickers, signs, ads, you name it, for the past six or more months. Still, you could excuse them for not having the spelling exactly down pat. But the staffers -- this is their job and I don't buy for a minute that they don't know how to spell their candidate's name. And if they really don't, well, they say Bush is dumb.

    But the real problem with this is that for the most part, at this point in history, we do not search information phonetically. We search by string. Search engines like Google, Lexis-Nexus, Ebsco, etc, all take a certain string and compare it to the documents in question. It doesn't do that phonetically, it does it numerically, in a cold, analytical way down in the heart of its cold, analytical processor, or something. Google does have the capacity to suggest words that are similar to the ones you submitted, generally useful if you misspelled something, but Google doesn't ask "Did you mean 'Kerry'?" when you type 'Kerrey' or vice versa. When you Google 'Kerry' you get lots of stuff on John and 'Kerrey' you get lots of stuff on Bob. It's very simple, really.

    It's really rather insulting that the Kerry campaign would think that they could pass off Kerrey's record on us and claim it was an innocent mistake. Maybe it was, but I don't buy it. And in any case, does the Kerry organization, something I use loosely, have any checks on what gets released and what doesn't? Who do these errant staffers have to run things by, and do those people know John Kerry's bio? Do they have to be run by the candidate himself? Shouldn't he know his bio? I mean, maybe he assumed that he'd been promoted to Vice-Chair in his absence, but I somewhat doubt that. If these people can't control information properly about something that is right in front of them, how can we expect them to deal with harder things. I mean, Bush gets flack for the WMD intel. Fine, all the world was telling him that Iraq had WMDs, but he should have known better, through Special Presidential Telepathy. Fine. But the Kerry campaign can't even handle the candidate's own biography properly, even when they have the horse's...mouth right there from which to hear it. Now, I realize that Kerry's biography, in his own words, is a fairly fluid construct, but still...

    The media sometimes criticized Bush for running a very tight ship. Kerry's ship is reminiscent of the one Captain Jack Sparrow first sails in on.

    Meet Joe Voter

    Last night, I was talking to a friend of mine about John Kerry. Now, my friend is by no means a political junkie, so I quizzed him on John Kerry, just to see what the world looks like from the eyes of Joe Voter. First, I had him give me John Kerry's biography, in his understanding.

    Here's what he knew: John Kerry went to war. Vietnam, maybe? And maybe only for a short time? And after that he protested the war. And then he did...something?...for the last thirty years?

    Then he asked me a very interesting question. He said, "You don't think that John Kerry can actually win, do you? It may just be the circles I run in, but everyone I've talked to thinks that Kerry is an idiot. A lot of them don't like Bush, but they think Kerry's an idiot."

    I run in different circles, something that causes me to be in contact with lots of people who raise my blood pressure, so I'm not sure that Kerry's a gonner. Sure hope so though.

    Παρασκευή, Αυγούστου 20, 2004

    I Know You Are But What Am I? -- Part II

    The current banner headline on Drudge at the moment is "Kerry Campaign Calls for Book Ban." (Nothing to permalink to yet.) Drudge writes:
    The Kerry campaign calls on a publisher to 'withdraw book' written by group of veterans, claiming veterans are lying about Kerry's service in Vietnam and operating as a front organization for Bush. Kerry campaign has told Salon.com that the publisher of UNFIT FOR COMMAND is 'retailing a hoax'... 'No publisher should want to be selling books with proven falsehoods in them,' Kerry campaign spokesman Chad Clanton tells the online mag... Developing...
    I don't know if this is true, and I haven't put on my galoshes and waded into Salon.com yet, but good grief, this election cycle is strange. Two things seem to be happening simultaneously here:

    1) The "They Say You Are and Thus Shall I Be" Thing
    It works like this:
  • Bush is not foo, where foo is a variable representing anything from 'a liar' to 'a book-buring censor'.
  • The left calls Bush foo.
  • Kerry promptly does something that demonstrates that he is foo.
  • The left brushes it off, because they know in their hearts that Bush is more foo.
  • The right screams at their computers until there are little flecks of spittle all over the keyboard.
  • The media stands with the cheese.

    2) The "Mr. Rove's Kerry-Flip-Flop-O-Matic" Thing
    This one may even be more fun. Here's how it goes:
  • Bush has a good idea baz, where baz is a variable representing anything from 'reduce troop deployments in Germany and Japan' to 'not raising taxes' to 'liberating Iraq'
  • Kerry proposes or endorses baz.
  • Bush does baz.
  • Kerry angrily denounces baz as something that will destroy our way of life as we know it, and probably also hurt the whales.
  • The Bush campaign mercilessly mocks Kerry for his flip-flop, even to the extent of including it in this, which is Not Very Nice, but funny and also illustrates its point well.
  • The left calls Bush foo.

    If the threat that John Kerry would be the most powerful man in the world weren't so scary, this would be really amusing.

  • The Council has spoken! This week's winners are as follows:

    For the council, the top vote-getter is Swift Boats vs. the Media from AlphaPatriot, and the runner-up is Liberal Bias in the Wording of a News Article from Patterico's Pontifications.

    The non-council winner is The Alston Story Goes Back Further Than First Thought, and the runner-up is Fisking the LAT's new article, "Veterans Battle Over the Truth".

    You can find all the results here.

    Πέμπτη, Αυγούστου 19, 2004

    Foreign Policy: The Jam Session

    Tonight, after writing the post below this one, I called Susan to see if she could help me think through the geopolitical minefield that is Iran's threat of preemption. The one definitive conclusion we came to was that this is bad. Other than that, we're not sure. She's got questions in to her advisor, who seems to know about these things, and we'll let you know what he says when we hear from him. Until then, you're stuck with what we think.

    If you were curious, Susan's area of expertise is the Balkans. She's been obsessed with them since she was about, oh, 13, has been reading Foreign Affairs since then, and has an incredible understanding of international politics of the past, oh, 15 years, although not extending quite to the present. [Susan says: I only read Foreign Affairs sporadically; I'm not sure how incredible my understanding is, unless perhaps Katie means that I have no credibility; and she's absolutely right about me being not quite up-to-date on, well, anything.] I handle the present, she handles the past, and together we tend to do pretty well. She also has a fairly good grasp on Israeli politics and general Middle Eastern history and she reads a lot of international relations theorists. [Susan adds: Well, the last bit is true anyway. My understanding of Israeli politics is limited to what I learned during a week long simulation in a World Politics class nearly two years ago. It was a painful experience that involved working with a group leader who pointed at the map about three-fourths of the way through this ordeal and said, 'So there are Palestinians in the West Bank?' She also thought that The Onion was a real news source.] And then there's me. I'm just a musician.

    The first (not necessarily chronologically, but most essential) conclusion we drew was that fighting a ground war (or any other sort of war) with Iran would be a really really really bad thing. Iran is freaking big. Not as big as the US, but somewhat bigger than Alaska -- 1.636 million sq km. It borders Iraq, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Pakistan, Azerbaijan and Armenia. It touches the Persian Gulf, the Gulf of Oman, and the Caspian Sea. Iran is primarily Shi'ite, but not Arab, it's Persian, thank you very much, and would like you to know it. It's a theocracy, and a very repressive one, and it believes that the US is the Great Satan and Israel is the little one [Kind of like a branch office, really: 'For your convenience, we're bringing the Great Satan to where you live!'], but possibly more evil. Like scorpions, those Satans. Unlike Iraq, the Iranian Army actually knows what it's doing. Also unlike Iraq, the Iranians are very intent on getting nukes. In some ways, they're in a very rough neighborhood -- Pakistan and India are nuclear, although absorbed with each other, Israel is nuclear and definitely an enemy, and the Great Satan itself just moved in on both sides, in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Susan posed the question of why it would be a problem for Iran to have nukes. [Which is not to say that I don't think it's a problem. Really, I just wanted Katie to consider the reasons why Iran might want nukes. And I think they have a decent case, really. Iran would be a fairly hefty regional power if it wasn't for the conspicuous presence of U.S. soldiers immediately to the east and west. And Iran may remember that speech Bush gave awhile back about the axis of evil... yes, it featured prominently in that discussion. Oh yeah, and that Shah we installed was a real winner, too. So maybe Iran is a little wary of our intentions? Do you blame them? You can worry, too, but first consider what the Iranians might be thinking. Now back to Katie.] The reason is that Iran is also the world's leading exporter of terrorists. It gives money to all sorts of Palestinian terrorist organizations, especially Hezbollah, etc. As Susan points out, the Shi'ites are excellent with tithes [I don't suppose they call them 'tithes.' Maybe we should just say 'spiritually motivated giving.'], and a lot of Islamic charities have aims that aren't, well, charitable, in the Webster's sense of the word. This is why it worries me that the Mad Mullahs might end up with nukes that they can hand out like party favors.

    Now, I'm a realist when it comes to international affairs, although I'm an idealistic one. Susan quizzed me thus:
    Susan: When you boil it all down, what is international relations about?
    Me: Not getting blown up?
    Susan: And when you boil that down?
    Me: Power. It's about power.
    Susan: You have just scored 100 on the "Are You A Foreign Affairs Realist Test." Like Kissinger. [Or Morgenthau, if you prefer.]
    Me: (whimper) No...
    Susan: So you consider yourself to be a Wilsonian then? Put a lot of faith in the UN? Think that diplomacy is about building relationships and strengthening bonds and the common good? [Katie made up that last sentence. I didn't say that.]
    Me: Yeah, I'm a realist...
    I mean, I'd like to build relationships and strengthen bonds and have liberal democracies and have the world sing in perfect harmony. I'd like us to take steps towards some of those things. But I feel that, back in the real world, the basic underlying force of international relations is power. So I understand Iran's desire to have nuclear weapons. After all, if you can't reason with the Great Satan, you have to have some sort of leverage.

    We basically do not have the resources at this time to fight a war with Iran, because we still need a huge number of troops to babysit Iraq and Afghanistan. I don't even want to think about what it would take to beat Iran, I don't think we should be declaring war without the express intention of beating them senseless, and I think that provoking a deranged and nuclear Iran is a really bad idea. As they say, "Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus."Susan observed that "We could win that war, but it would be hell on earth," and I agree with that assessment. [Actually, I never said we could win. Not saying that we couldn't either. I said that if they attacked us, we'd have a good reason to reinstate the draft if we were short of troops. Anyway, maybe you shouldn't quote me as your military strategy expert. I'm not even good at Risk.] It could easily be the worst war that the US ever fought. Therefore, we more or less decided that we send a very tersely worded note and/or singing messenger to the mullahs to remind them that any preemptive strike on US forces (or Israel) would not be a wise idea, and that any exploding things with "Made in Iran" labels would be returned in-kind, with bacon-grease-smeared, Jew-assembled ordnance. [Bacon grease? Contact with swine bars Muslims from Paradise -- KK]

    Now, the really interesting question is why on earth the Iranians would threaten the US. Or rather, why the Iranians would act on threats to the US, because that would spell the end for them. Overtly attacking US troops (rather than through terrorist proxies) would easily be enough to evoke a declaration of war from the US and probably from Israel. Bush, for his part, does not seem to be inclined towards losing. Maybe they're holding out for Kerry, but I think that even he would react very forcefully to an overt act of war from Iran. I think that the Iranian statement is simply a bluff to warn off Israel and the US from taking out its reactor, Osirisk-style, but Israel may decide that de-nuking Iran is a risk it's willing to take. And then all hell will break loose.

    So we have several scenarios available:
    1) Israel takes out the Iranian reactor preemptively. So then Iran declares war on Israel, blows up all its nuclear reactors and/or weapons, plus lots of civilians and such. It also declares war on the US [Think so? I'm not sure why they would do this. Because Iran said "We count them as one and the same." -- KK], which is conveniently located in Iraq and Afghanistan. The remnants of the Taliban in Afghanistan and the former Baathists (or Islamic fundamentalists) rise while the US has its back turned. Perhaps some fundamentalists decided, "Hell, everyone else is doing it!" and decide to overthow Pakistan and maybe the House of Saud. This is very bad.

    2) The US takes out the Iranian reactor preemptively. Same as above, except it declares war on the US before it starts blowing things up in Israel.

    3) The international community talks the Iranians into abandoning the reactor." Yeah right. And pigs fly.

    4) Iran preemptively strikes either Israel, the US, or both." Both Israel and the US declare war on Iran, and attempt to take out Iranian nuclear capacities. See scenario 1 for further details.

    5 The US reminds Iran of the premise of VAD (Virtually Assured Destruction) and warns it not to not to get too trigger happy. This seems to be the best current option for US policy. If #4 happens, then we've got serious problems. It leaves us with an Iran that is both a) mad and b) nuclear, but still not actively at war.

    I'm still a general supporter of strategic, justified preemptive war, but only if it is accompanied by the ability and will to win. I don't think that we have those things right now in regards to Iran, which is why I think we have to wait this one out for now. [I don't know what to think. I'm feeling that my contributions here have been less than informative. My expertise isn't international relations. I go in for the more practical arts, like removing mice from glue traps.]


    I'll try to say this politely, as this is a family blog. This is very very bad.
    DOHA (AFP) - Iranian Defense Minister Ali Shamkhani warned that Iran might launch a preemptive strike against US forces in the region to prevent an attack on its nuclear facilities.

    "We will not sit (with arms folded) to wait for what others will do to us. Some military commanders in Iran are convinced that preventive operations which the Americans talk about are not their monopoly," Shamkhani told Al-Jazeera TV when asked if Iran would respond to an American attack on its nuclear facilities.

    "America is not the only one present in the region. We are also present, from Khost to Kandahar in Afghanistan; we are present in the Gulf and we can be present in Iraq (news - web sites)," said Shamkhani, speaking in Farsi to the Arabic-language news channel through an interpreter.

    "The US military presence (in Iraq) will not become an element of strength (for Washington) at our expense. The opposite is true, because their forces would turn into a hostage" in Iranian hands in the event of an attack, he said.

    Shamkhani, who was asked about the possibility of an American or Israeli strike against Iran's atomic power plant in Bushehr, added: "We will consider any strike against our nuclear installations as an attack on Iran as a whole, and we will retaliate with all our strength.

    "Where Israel is concerned, we have no doubt that it is an evil entity, and it will not be able to launch any military operation without an American green light. You cannot separate the two."

    A commander of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards was quoted in the Iranian press earlier Wednesday as saying that Tehran would strike the Israeli reactor at Dimona if Israel attacks the Islamic republic's own burgeoning nuclear facilities.

    "If Israel fires one missile at Bushehr atomic power plant, it should permanently forget about Dimona nuclear center, where it produces and keeps its nuclear weapons, and Israel would be responsible for the terrifying consequence of this move," General Mohammad Baqer Zolqadr warned.
    Do I still think that Bush's preemptive war is a good thing? Yes. Do I think this has the potential to do all kinds of crazy things to the election? Possibly -- it would certainly make life interesting. Do I think that appeasing and/or playing chicken with the Iranians is a good idea. No, not at all. Would I be in support of a very forceful pre-preemptive attack on Tehran and any potential nuclear sites? Yes.

    The Frogs

    I've got a review of the Lincoln Center production of The Frogs posted over at Abigail Reviews Everything. Go read what I have to say about things about which I actually do know what I'm talking, as opposed to that about which I usually write.

    Τετάρτη, Αυγούστου 18, 2004

    Vaguely Beautiful

    New Yorkish -- read early, read often.

    Into the blogroll with you!

    Vaguely Reassuring

    Apparently the Times Square Naked Cowboy supports Bush. He's currently got his guitar painted with 'Bush' all over it. I can't find a picture of this online -- perhaps I'll go down and take one tomorrow.