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Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Russ Smith wonders... 

what if Bush wins?

One of the side benefits of a Bush victory in November, admittedly minor
compared to his superior positions on foreign policy, tax and Social Security
and tax reform as opposed to Kerry, is the prospect of watching the Times
unravel, day by day, during a second term. It stretches the imagination to
wonder how the onetime "paper of record" can trump the toxic level of Michael
Moore-like hatred of this particular president—granted, the daily's editors and
reporters are constrained to use rhetoric less inflammatory than the millionaire
populist from Flint, MI—but if op-ed columnists Paul Krugman and Maureen Dowd
are apoplectic now, what mental state will they be in a year from today?



Read the whole thing in this week's New York Press. (And when you're finished with Russ, you can click on over to the always entertaining Date Girl).

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It seems that Jim McGreevey already has a job lined up 

From the North Bergen (NJ) Reporter:
Acting Gov. Richard Codey is expected to name resigning Gov. Jim McGreevey to head the state's Stem Cell Institute of New Jersey in a few months, sources said.

McGreevey's resignation takes effect on Nov. 15, at which time Senate President Codey will take over as acting governor. He is expected to name McGreevey to head the institute at some point before the end of the year.

McGreevey established the institute last May as a joint effort between the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey and Rutgers University, to be funded through a public-private partnership. In setting up this year's budget, McGreevey set aside $9.5 million to kick off the institute.

Now we know why Jim McGreevey is so bound and determined to make Richard Codey acting governor.

One thing about Jim McGreevey, you can't argue that he doesn't have absolutely gargantuan stones. First, he appropriates a big wad of money for a new stem cell research institute at a time when the state is suffering enormous fiscal stresses. Then he resigns, dispicably using the gay rights movement to shield him from the many and considerable allegations of corruption aimed at his administration and political allies. Finally, proving that he is in every respect just as corrupt as his worst critics allege, he saddles New Jersey with a caretaker -- and therefore powerless -- governor, in return for which he will receive a cushy state job at who knows what salary.

I certainly hope that all you suckers out there who were praising McGreevey for his "courageous" resignation now recognize that you have massively debased the value of that word.

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All about the medals: The Official Final TigerHawk Medal Count 

For those few of you still itching for the Official Final TigerHawk Medal Count, here it is:

The Coalition of the Willing: 476

The Unwilling: 457

The balance swings, of course, in the pro forma statements, which exclude Spain and "shadow coalition" members Israel and Taiwan. Those three countries had a total of 27 medals. In the pro forma statements, we move those medals from the Coalition total to the Unwilling total, which results in the Coalition coming up short 449 - 484.

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Ugly Yale cheerleaders with obvious connections to the Kerry campaign 

Heh.

CWCID: Glenn.

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Monday, August 30, 2004

The American Left speaks for itself 

This kind of thing will win the election for George Bush. Posted by Hello


Via Little Green Footballs, where there are more such pictures.

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All McGreevey, all the time 

Fausta has a link-rich post with the full McGreevey update.

Andrew Sullivan is out of his hammock and agrees with those of us who have been saying that McGreevey is hiding behind the gay rights movement, not advancing its cause:
A closeted gay man trying to pretend he's straight eventually breaks down and reveals the truth under threat of blackmail from a lover. How many times has that happened? Worse, McGreevey tried to spin it as an advance for gay rights. Nope. What the gay rights movement is trying to achieve is an end to these kinds of decptions and lies and phony marriages.

Finally, Jim of Parkway Rest Stop imagines James E. McGreevey at the bakery. Heh.

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The Bush tax cuts and distributive justice 

There are a lot of reasons to criticize the Bush tax cuts, or at least some of them. But this table from the Detroit News does make it clear that the wealthiest taxpayers (the top 1%, 5%, 10% and 20%) are now paying a higher proportion of collected federal taxes than they were in 2000. Measured by cash accounting, the rich are shouldering a larger share of the total burden than they were under Clinton.

Yes, the top 20% "got the most" from the tax cuts in absolute dollar terms because they paid the most taxes in the first place, but that argument depends upon the silly proposition that all money belongs first to the government, which then disperses funds in the form of affirmative appropriations or "tax expenditures." In America, everybody but journalists, academic economists and leftist political activists believes quite the opposite -- that it is our money first, and the government takes what it needs to deliver security and essential services. That elected officials at every level of government use both appropriations and the tax code to buy votes is a bug, not a "feature," of American democracy.

Of course, the table in the Detroit News does not entirely dispose of the argument that the tax cuts "benefit" the rich. If, for example, the huge federal deficits that are at least partially attributable to the tax cuts lead to greater inflation, that inflation will land as a regressive tax on people with lower incomes (it is regressive because lower-income people spend a higher proportion of their total income than rich people, and inflation acts as a tax on consumption). Or future governments may conclude that the fiscal burden of the Bush tax cuts will require cuts in entitlements, which also tend to benefit people in the bottom 80% more than those in the top 20%. But those indirect burdens on the not-rich have not manifested themselves and are by no means inevitable.

CWCID: Glenn.

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Sunday, August 29, 2004

Memories of Donald Justice, 1925-2004 

On vacation as I am in the poorest county in New York state (that would be Franklin County, the sort of place that lobbies to get a new prison, rather than keep it out), I sometimes don’t get my mitts on the Sunday New York Times until late in the day. So it was today, which is why I only just read this review of Donald Justice’s Collected Poems. I was sorry to learn that Donald Justice, the American poet, died on August 6.

To the author of the review and to many other learned fans of American poetry, including the Pulitzer Prize committee, Donald Justice was in fact a great poet. If you enjoy reading literary criticism – and I learned back in college that I do not – there has been and will be more than enough written about Donald Justice to satisfy your academic curiosity. To me, though, he was “Mr. Justice,” the father of one of my good friends from Iowa City’s Southeast Junior High School, and therefore one of the many non-parental adults that exerted some measure of influence over me when I was growing up. Not surprisingly, I know some things about Donald Justice that you are unlikely to read in the New York Times Review of Books or the many obituaries that I now realize have been published in the last three weeks.

Donald Justice was definitely the coolest father among the fathers of my friends. Admittedly, this was not a terrifically high hurdle, but I thought it was extremely cool that he would hint at -- without confessing to -- slightly scandalous indulgences of the sort that you might expect from a poet in a college town in the 1970s.

His politics back in the day were left of center, but he was again cool enough to smile at political reaction even in his own house. When his then tweenish son Nat objected strenuously to the “I’m for McGovern” sign that the Justices put up in their front yard, they indulgently took the sign down (at least according to Nat). When that same son went on with his friends to become an activist for the local Republican party (a profound act of teenage rebellion in Iowa City), the Justices certainly seemed to be amused by the whole thing, even if they wondered in their quiet moments how they might have gone wrong. (I wonder in passing whether Bush-hating parents of my generation would react so graciously to their teenagers chanting “Double your Dubya,” but perhaps teenagers do not today rebel through politics.)

Unusual perhaps for great poets, Donald Justice loved ping-pong. In fact, he engaged my mother, then a real estate broker in Iowa City, to find him a new house with a room large enough to accommodate serious table tennis. She did, I believe, and once the Justices moved we played an awful lot of ping-pong.

Donald Justice was also generous, and on one occasion helped me to one of my early and most memorable academic triumphs. When I was fifteen I went off to boarding school, where I was for the first time really challenged in my schoolwork. For one early English assignment we had to choose a poem and write a critical paper. Most of the class picked poems of famous dead poets, but I knew that “Mr. Justice” had just won a Pulitzer Prize. How fun to write about a poem written by somebody I knew! So I grabbed one of his collections from the Lawrenceville School library and picked out a poem I liked and wrote my paper, which I duly handed in. The poem was “After a phrase abandoned by Wallace Stevens.”

For some reason it occurred to me to write Donald Justice a letter and ask him what he had been thinking when he wrote the poem, and he responded almost immediately with three single-spaced pages of details, images, and thoughts about Wallace Stevens, who had exerted a great influence on Justice (this last point is well-recognized by those who have studied Justice’s work). When I reported all this to my teacher, he made me read the poem, my paper, and Justice’s letter aloud to the class, after which he led the class in a specific dissection of the many ways in which my paper diverged from what Justice had written in his letter. I had hit enough of the points, though, and was so excited at having been taken seriously by a real poet that I become quite interested in poetry for a while, losing interest only after exposure to real academic literary criticism in college. In any case, to this day I remember reading my paper and Donald Justice’s letter aloud to the class, genuinely interested in a serious poem for the first time in my life.

May he rest in peace.

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Eagle ascendant 

A few days ago I reported on the family of bald eagles living in a tree a few yards from our Adirondack camp. I took a string of close-up shots of one of the young 'uns, but the parents were more elusive. However, this morning I heard their tell-tale screaming (a family of eagles makes an almost constant racket, and has led more than one member of my family to mutter darkly that perhaps there can be such a thing as "too many eagles"), and followed the screeches to this adult bald eagle, which took flight just after my incursion. Not as close as the pictures of the perched eagle a few days ago, but very cool nonetheless. Posted by Hello

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All about the medals: The Coalition clings to its lead 

Regular readers of TigerHawk know that we (me and my co-blogger) have been seeking to revive the power bloc medals rivalry that dominated the Cold War era. This year, at least, it seemed best to define those blocs to be the Coalition of the Willing and those countries who were Unwilling.

As of Sunday afternoon (Eastern time, USA), the official TigerHawk medals count reveals that Coalition of the Willing countries had won 473 medals, to 455 medals won by the Unwilling.

As previously discussed, the official TigerHawk count includes erstwhile coalition member Spain -- the Spanish shed blood in Iraq, after all, which fact we should not depreciate -- and shadow allies Israel and Taiwan. For those of you who do not agree that those three countries should be considered among the Willing, we offer an alternative "pro forma" medals count. Adjusted to move Spain, Israel and Taiwan to the Unwilling category (a total of 26 medals), the Coalition countries fall behind the Unwilling 447 to 481, respectively.

Since I'm not sure how many medals there are yet to issue, I will promulgate one final tally after the closing ceremony.

Finally we would be remiss if we did not give Brendan of The Facts Machine credit for this idea. We have perverted it to our own right-wing ends, of course, but that does not make it any less Brendan's idea.

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Saturday, August 28, 2004

Friends of Kerry crush dissent 

Little Miss Attila reports that friends of John Kerry have threatened a lawsuit for copyright infringement -- here's a copy of their nastygram -- against people who post the picture from the front of John Kerry's book "The New Soldier." The nastygram did not, apparently, deter Attila, who posted the picture here. Go to the link, and then come back.

Attila observes out that the picture is a parody of the famous raising of the flag on Iwo Jima. I think she understated it. I would describe the cover of Kerry's book as a mockery of that picture. Looking at these two pictures side by side, it is extremely fair to say that John Kerry, during his very embarrassing youthful years, mocked the most iconic moment of the Greatest Generation. If I were Karl Rove, I'd run these two photos side-by-side on every television show with an over-70 demographic between now and the election.

CWCID: Dean's World.

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Friday, August 27, 2004

All about the medals: Say it ain't so! 

After Friday's action, the unofficial results:

Coalition of the Willing: 411
Legion of the Unwilling: 369

On a pro forma basis:

Pro Forma Willing: 387
Pro Forma Unwilling: 393

The Legion of the Unwilling narrowed the gap as Syria, Egypt, Iran, and others medaled, bringing them close enough to pull ahead on a pro forma basis. As is often the case in matters of international relations, a lot can swing on one or two countries. In this case, Spain is the swing that determines who leads this race.

We certainly must hope that the outcome of the war on terror is not as dependent upon Spain's allegiance.



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Read VDH Now 

If Victor Davis Hanson's regular Friday column in NRO is not part of your regular reading, you should adopt it immediately. Frankly, I would recommend reading the last 18 months of archives, since his writing on US international relations in this time of war is superb.

I am burned out on the whole Swift boat controversy, but VDH's column today hits many many high notes and is worth a thorough read.

On the conflicting Swift accounts:

Both sides may allege "lies" as veterans come forth and recede to
corroborate or refute some details of what John Kerry claims he did even as we
the public fail to appreciate that all sides may well be telling the truth as
they saw and now remember it. But the veracity of that battle is hopelessly
fragmented, and will remain an album of partial, blurry snapshots, wrinkled and
warped over nearly 35 years of faulty remembrance.

On the parallel story of GWB's National Guard service:

In addition, it was not all that easy a thing either for a young man like
George Bush to fly an obsolete jet with a record of mechanical problems. His
qualification as a jet pilot gave him no immunity from being called at any time
to combat duty in Vietnam. Indeed, sitting at the controls of an underpowered
F-102 with a host of mechanical peculiarities was not the same as fleeing to
Canada, burning a draft card, or harming the interests of soldiers in the field
by giving emotional aid to the enemy. And unlike a few prominent public figures,
George Bush never said he served in Vietnam when he did not.

On the anti-war Kerry:

Vietnam service in the 1970s and 1980s quite unfairly was an albatross
around veterans' collective necks, in part because of the previous statements of
John Kerry and others in the anti-war movement who offered a sort of moral
equivalence between the United States and the North Vietnamese.

Indeed, one of the striking things about watching the old Dick
Cavett-hosted debate between John Kerry and John O'Neill is how naïve the young,
articulate Yalie sounds about the probable consequences of a unilateral American
withdrawal. He seems to have had not a clue about the true nature of a
totalitarian Communist regime with a past and future record of mass murder,
gulags, refugees, and political re-education camps. And his suggestion of
providing a deadline for withdrawal from Vietnam sounded as naïve then as it
does now in promises to leave Iraq within a scheduled time frame.

And in conclusion:

It is time to drop the mess and leave it at this: A veteran John Kerry, who
easily could have been blown up on numerous occasions, came home mixed up and
said and did things he probably now regrets, which over the last three decades
have provided both rich political capital for him and ammunition for his enemies
— depending on the ever-changing perception of Vietnam in the popular memory of
a given decade.


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Bush makes the wrong admission 

According to the Associated Press,
President Bush said for the first time on Thursday he made a "miscalculation of what the conditions would be" after U.S. troops went to Iraq, The New York Times reported. The insurgency, he maintained, was the unintended result of a "swift victory" that led to Iraqi troops disappearing into the cities and mounting a rebellion.

On vacation as I am, I haven't taken the time to read the underlying interview. If, however, Bush admitted that the insurgency was the "unintended" result of the "swift victory" in Iraq, he is making a correct statement of fact while failing to appreciate its significance.

The insurgency in Iraq is the result of the American failure to define the victory conditions for that war and the 1991 Gulf War properly. In both cases we declared a limited objective (the liberation of Kuwait the first time, the remove of Saddam the second time). In neither case did we think it necessary actually to destroy the enemy's capacity to fight. In both cases that failure to include among our war aims the complete destruction of the enemy led to subsequent and unnecessary bloodshed.

The correct admission for Bush to have made was that we should have included among our victory conditions the complete destruction of the enemy's ability to wage war. If we do less than that in the Islamic world, what have we actually accomplished?

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Suing to force a special election for the governor of NJ 

Jim of Parkway Rest Stop has written on the Federal lawsuit filed by two Princeton lawyers to force a special election. He is pessimistic of its chances for success (as am I), but it is an interesting read for those of you New Jersey readers who have been wondering whether McGreevey and the Democrats have been violating your constitutional rights. Here's the theory of the case:
The legal theory being pursued by the plaintiffs is that, by announcing on August 12th his inability to effectively govern, Jim McGreevey essentially created a vacancy as of that date, and that by remaining in office through November 15th, he is preventing a special election and thereby depriving New Jersey citizens of their constitutional rights, including the right of due process.

If that sounds like a winning argument to you, go read the whole post and see why it probably won't succeed.

Kudos for trying, though. There certainly have been less meritorious lawsuits filed in the history of New Jersey politics.

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Thursday, August 26, 2004

All about the medals: Thursday update 

Coalition of the Willing: 379

Legion of the Unwilling: 314



Pro Forma Willing: 357

Pro Forma Unwilling: 336

The Legion of the Unwilling made some strides over the past couple of days, as a handful of countries medaled (Colombia, The Bahamas, Morocco.) On a proforma basis, the gap is getting perilously narrow thanks to the success of Spain, which now has 16 medals. With only a few days remaining, its still looking pretty good for the Willing.



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Wednesday, August 25, 2004

March on Trenton 

Fausta, along with the Trenton Times, wants to know "where's the outrage?" You want Jim McGreevey out before the magic date of no return, September 3? You want an actual opportunity to vote on the state's chief executive? It annoys you to no end that Afghanistan and Iraq are going to have national balloting before you have a chance to whack at the next crony installed in Drumthwacket? Then go here, and start pumping out crank calls, witty but rage-filled missives, and faxes 'till the cows come home. I myself plan to devote a chunk of my Adirondack holiday to doing just that.

My hopes aren't high -- how hard can it be to hold off the angry mob for another nine days? But he isn't going to leave in time if we don't start pushing.

And by the way, lengthy and noisy demonstrations outside Drumthwacket complete with offensive yet constitutionally protected signs, banners and "Hey, Hey" chanting would go a long way toward hounding Jim McGreevey out of office -- a worthy goal in and of itself -- and loosening up Princeton, which hasn't seen a good demonstration in years.

UPDATE (8-26-04 9:20 a.m. EDT): Go here to learn more about the March on Trenton today at 3 p.m. I wish I could be there, if for no other reason than to thank the organizer, Derek Lucas.

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All about the medals: Wednesday update 

Taking into account Wednesday's action, the unofficial tally is as follows:

Coalition of the Willing: 359

Legion of the Unwilling: 286

And once again, adjusting for Spain, Israel, and Taiwan:

Pro forma Willing: 341

Pro forma Unwilling: 304



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Tuesday, August 24, 2004

The power of barbecue 

I gave up a lot of things when I moved from Manhattan to Charlottesville, but one of the things I gained was the ability to get good barbecue, one of the only foods not readily available in Manhattan. I've been told that local EPA restrictions prevent the kind of smokers necessary to produce the real thing in Manhattan. Urban myth, perhaps, but Pierson's Texas Barbecue in Queens seemed to be able to deliver what Manhattan restaurants could not, so maybe there is something to that.

Down here in Virginia, there are many viable barbecue options, although sometimes you must sniff around. Once day I followed a lead and discovered a small, charmless hole in the wall called Hog Heaven hidden behind a Wendy's up on Rt 29 in Ruckersville. HH indeed yielded great pulled pork, although their KC ribs fell a bit short. The journey is half the fun, however, and I look forward to sampling a place called Blue Ridge Pig down in Nelson County.

I was prompted to write this after I stumbled upon an article entitled Barbecue threat to Palestinian hunger strikers (hat tip: The Smoke Ring). At first I was impressed that the Israelis were resourceful enough to resort to barbecue as a means to break a hunger strike. Genius! I clicked on the link mainly out of curiosity as to whether their cultural sensitivity would lead them to offer their prisoners Texas beef brisket, or whether they were torturing them with pulled pork.

Imagine my horror to read that they were just throwing meat on a grill! Clearly barbecue has a very different meaning in the Middle East than it does down here south of the Mason Dixon.

There's grilling, and there's barbecue, but please don't confuse the two.

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Eagle blogging 

The TigerHawk family vacation in the Adirondack Mountains is barely a day old, and here a young and seemingly fearless eagle perches on a tree branch less than twenty feet off our patio. Now, it is true that the TigerHawk family camp is reasonably remote, but there are powered boats on the lake below and no less than six dogs running around, so this eagle is clearly less skittish than most. Indeed, we see this splendid eagle, which lives with a sibling and parents, because a breeding pair established themselves near our camp during the off-season. The naturalists in the family were concerned that the arrival of loud children (and believe me, we have some loud children) and dogs would scare off these magnificant creatures, but apparently, like the United States Marines, they don't run.  Posted by Hello

Finally, a closing chest-beating aimed at all you cat-bloggers out there: I just kicked your ass.

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Whatever happened to Air America?  

Wasn't liberal talk radio supposed to be the next big thing? It's an election year for God's sake! Jonah Goldberg weighs in, he says, out of Frankenfreude, which he defines as "a state of restrained glee at the failures or setbacks of Al Franken."

The setbacks, of course, are real, as anyone who has fruitlessly spun the dial in search of the promised "Liberal alternative to Rush" knows only too well. Of course anyone with brain, even a liberal leaning one, knew that this enterprise was doomed from the start if only because of the fierce competition it faces from existing media.

What the creators of Air America fail to grasp is the fact that conservative talk radio is the alternative media. It became popular because conservatives lost the battle for the political culture, not because they won it.

Conservative views — and conservatives — were, and are, unwelcome at
ABC, CBS, NBC, Time, the New York Times as well as Harvard, Yale, and academia
in general. That's why conservatives created everything from National Review and
The Weekly Standard to the American Enterprise Institute and The Rush Limbaugh
Show.

Duh.

The Al Franken decade is, thankfully, well behind us.


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All about the medals: Tuesday update 

Using the pre-established methodology, here are the numbers taking into account Tuesday's action.


Unadjusted Medal Count

Coalition of the Willing medal count: 332

Unwilling medal count: 258

Pro Forma Medal Count

Coalition of the Willing medal count: 318

Unwilling medal count: 272

There may be some medals unaccounted for in this calculation. Cameroon, for example, picked up a medal that I did not take into account. I'll let Tigerhawk do the final allocations at the end of the games.

Either way, the coalition continues to lead by a wide margin.

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A Watershed Event 

Could the 2004 presidential election be a final exorcism of Vietnam pathologies and the romanticism of Sixties style activism from American popular culture?

At first blush, it might appear as though the Bush presidency and the invasion of Iraq served as a catalyst for the opposite outcome, awakening long sedated 60's activists and providing them the call to action they have been waiting for all these years. Their awakening has manifested itself not only in peace marches and other physical acts of protest, but in an outpouring of leftwing commentary not seen since the early 70's (John Ashcroft's "shredding of the constitution" notwithstanding), and the early success of Howard Dean's anti-war candidacy. Slowly building over the past two years, it will all come a head in New York next week, with uncertain consequences. Will new generations of Americans be inspired or disgusted by what they see?

A related issue is well discussed over at Belmont Club today, focusing on the Democratic party's attempt to present itself, via the Kerry nomination, as serious and capable of waging war, when it is in fact the case that the party wants nothing to do with war.

John Kerry's troubles have largely been forced on him by the Democratic
Party platform. He has been given the unenviable task of presenting it as the
War Party when in fact it is not, nor does it want to be. The Democrats could
have chosen to become a real anti-war party, in which case it would have
nominated Howard Dean or it could have elected to become a genuine war party and
chosen Joseph Lieberman. Instead it chose to become the worst of all
combinations, an anti-war party masquerading as the war party.

If any proof were needed that the Sixties were dead, the subterfuge of the
Democratic Party would be Exhibit A. Instead of running under their own colors,
or barring that, changing them, they have decided to sail beneath a false flag,
as if under a cloud of shame. That in itself is tacit admission that they can no
longer walk in their own guise; and what is worse that they cannot look
themselves in the face, nor go into battle daring to win nor willing to lose in
their own name, as is the mark of men.

The point is well made, but will the ghosts of the Sixties die with a Kerry defeat, or will it take a Kerry victory and a lifting of the Democratic veil to finally drive stakes through their hearts?

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Monday, August 23, 2004

Steyn boils it down, as usual 

With so many so called experts and analysts parsing every word, every gesture, made in a political campaign, its easy to get caught up in the argument game, where every issue is debated at a level of granularity that should be limited to the court room. Thankfully, there are a handful of writers out there who seem to fly above it all, cutting through the fog to deliver us clarity. Mark Steyn is one of these, and today he delivered what one can only hope will be the last word on the ridiculous Swift boat kerfuffle. The basic thesis is that the Kerry campaign has stepped into a tar pit of its own making, and one that, based on the known facts, it will have a hard time extricating itself from.

Point 1
Nothing the "sleazoids" say about Kerry is as bad as what he said about
them 33 years ago in his testimony to Congress, when he informed the world that
his comrades – his "band of brothers" – had "personally raped, cut off ears, cut
off heads" etc, throughout their time in Vietnam.

Point 2

What sort of idiot would make the centrepiece of his presidential
campaign four months of proud service in a war he's best known for
opposing?


Point 3

How cocooned from reality do you have to be to think you can transform one
of the most divisive periods in American history – in which you were largely
responsible for much of the divisiveness – into a sappy, happy-clappy,
soft-focus patriotic blur without anybody objecting?

'Nuff said.

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All about medals: Monday update 

Tigerhawk has assigned me the task of keeping the medal score updated while he frolics in the Adirondacks, an assignment I have accepted. Unfortunately, upon reviewing his little tally spreadsheet, I detected an error, as Spain was entered twice, overstating the coalition of the willing medal count. Correcting yesterday's aggregate count is my first order of business.

The count should have been:

Willing 281, Unwilling 229, using the previously defined methodology.

Adjusting for the politically paralyzed and the formally willing yields pro forma results of Willing 271, Unwilling 239.

Now, adjusting these numbers for Monday's action yields the following results (a/o around 5:00 pm EDT):

Willing: 319
Unwilling: 244

And, making the previously discussed adjustments for Spain, Israel, and Taiwan:

pro forma Willing: 306
pro forma Unwilling: 257

Still a formidable margin, and just imagine how much wider it would be under President Kerry!

(Hey TH, maybe we should include a Kerry pro forma that adds back French and German medals, since as we all know, had Bush not squandered all that Prussian and Franco post 9/11 goodwill, their troops would be storming Najaf as I write).



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Steve Austin, a man barely alive.... 

We can make him better than he was. Better, stronger, faster...

Ok, maybe not, but perhaps soon we'll be able to build him that cool, bionic eye.

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How to Hydrate a Cat 

My cat Lou suffered some intestinal distress over the weekend, prompting me to bring him into the local emergency animal hospital. After waiting 90 minutes while the attending vet administered to an ailing guinea pig, Lou had his examination.

Making a very long story short, the initial diagnosis was that there was not anything seriously wrong with him, but a secondary effect of his illness was mild dehydration. The vet recommended a "hydration course," after which Lou would be sent home for continued observation.

Opting for the hydration course I expected that they would sedate Lou and put him on a fluid IV for a few hours before releasing him, but instead they took him into a back room and injected several ounces of water under his skin. He was returned to me minutes later with a hump on his back, which to the touch was not unlike a water balloon (or perhaps one of Tigerhawk's head bumps, although I am not a primary source on that topic). Within a relatively brief span of time, Lou's water balloon was absorbed into his body and now manifests itself as nothing more than extremely thick ankles for a cat.

I am once again amazed at the tricks one can do with a cat. Would this procedure be effective with other mammals? Inquiring minds want to know.


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Sunday, August 22, 2004

Where have all the hostages gone? 

They're long time passing, according to the Tall Glass of Milk, who has been diligently keeping track of hostage-taking in Iraq. And here's to her for not calling her series "Carnival of the Hostages."

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Drug reimportation 

Writ of Summons of the lefty blog Scrutiny Hooligans (a great name, by the way) has put up the best blog post I have seen on drug reimportation.

Separately, Scrutiny Hooligans is worth a gander. Most TigerHawk readers won't like the politics, but it never hurts to challenge your beliefs. These guys are smart, and based on the posts I've read to date, not as snarky as Atrios.

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All about the medals: The Willing have a great Sunday 

As of Sunday night (EDT, United States), the Coalition of the Willing has surged ahead of the Unwilling in the TigerHawk consolidated medal count, 288 to 229. For those of you who are new to the TigerHawk "all about the medals" series, note that my medal count includes "shadow" coalition members Israel and Taiwan, and less-Willing coalition member Spain. The rationale is here.

As always, we offer an alternative pro forma medal count, which moves Spain, Israel and Taiwan to the Unwilling category. In that event, the Coalition medals advantage drops to 278-239.

Note that in the event that the Iraqi "football" team scores a medal, we will include it in the official Tigerhawk Coalition medals total, and shift it in the pro forma calculation.

So far, 61 countries have earned at least one medal in the Athens Olympics, of which 27 are Coalition members. While the Left often derided the Coalition for its many non-contributing members during the Iraq War, in the great World War IV power bloc medals-count proxy war the Coalition members are averaging 10.7 medals each, compared to a relatively paltry 6.7 medals per Unwilling country. So put that in your pipe and smoke it.

And yes, it is not lost on TigerHawk that the medal count would look quite different if this were the Winter Olympics. Among other things, Australia does not make its Northern Hemispheric counterpart (duh, Canada!) its bitch in winter sports.

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Yeah. Get rid of the billy goat jinx. 

'Chicago orders Cubs to fix Wrigley Field' - headline, Associated Press.

(TigerHawk once lived at the corner of Addison and Halsted.)

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Too much enfranchisement 

This is just a little startling:
About 46,000 people are registered to vote in two states, New York and Florida, a violation of both states' laws that could affect the outcome of the November presidential election, according to an investigation by the Daily News.

On the one hand, this sort of thing happens all the time. My mother moved from Princeton to Virginia a few years ago, yet she remains on the voter roll up here. I know this, because her name appears right after my name in that roll. And because she is regularly summoned for jury duty in Mercer County, but that's another issue.

On the other hand, dual registrations might be used to manipulate the result of an election. According to the Reuters story, somewhere between 400 and 1000 of those duplicate voters have cast ballots in both jurisdictions in the same election, a clear violation of federal election law. Since 68% of the duplicate registrants are Democrats, one wonders what the impact was in the last presidential election. Perhaps Bush won Florida by a greater margin than previously supposed.

Of course, the Democrats will bleat that any attempt to clean up the rolls is a right-wing conspiracy to disenfranchise honest citizenry, and if Jesse Jackson is the bleating Democrat he will go all the way and say its a conspiracy to disenfranchise blacks. But it would be the right thing to do nonetheless.

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Saturday, August 21, 2004

All about the medals: Coalition of the Willing vs. The Unwilling 

We at TigerHawk yearn for a return of the great Olympic power bloc rivalries of our youth. In that spirit, we hereby present the third installment of our series "All about the medals," which classifies Olympic medals of all sorts by inclusion with or exclusion from the Coalition of the Willing.

According to my calculations, Coalition of the Willing countries and their unspoken allies (Israel, Taiwan, and liberated Iraq) opened up their lead in total medals Saturday, reaching a cumulative 236 medals, compared to 195 medals for the Unwilling. There has been some debate over the correct classification of Spain, in that there are those who would consider Spain no longer Willing. Perhaps, but in honor of the Spaniards who risked and even spent their lives in Iraq, I have included Spain's six medals in the Coalition totals.

Obviously, one might construct pro forma statements that would shift Spain, Israel, Taiwan and liberated Iraq. In that case, 9 medals would shift from the Coalition to the Unwilling, reducing the Coalition's lead to 23 medals.

Check in with TigerHawk daily for further updates. And all credit for the idea belongs to Brendan at The Facts Machine, a witty leftist blogger if ever there was one.

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Annals of numismatics: The Lewis and Clark nickel 

Secretary of the Treasury John Snow was at the Iowa State Fair (a smart move in and of itself -- just ask the Tall Glass of Milk), handing out pocket change. Specifically, The Lewis and Clark nickel. Posted by Hello


I have previously denounced the Louisiana Purchase nickel, which is both ugly and historically idiotic. But the Lewis and Clark nickel is very nice.

Here's to hoping that the United States Mint develops the nickel into a device for commemorating American expansion beyond the presidency of Thomas Jefferson. I'd like an Alamo nickel, a Mexican War nickel, and maybe even a Spanish-American War nickel. Of course, an election year might not be the perfect time to advance the necessary legislation.

UPDATE (8-22-04, late afternoon): Hey, I just got my first Lewis and Clark nickel in circulation, in my change at the big WaWa just south of the Route 33/34 traffic circle in Wall Township (New Jersey, duh!), coming back to Princeton from Point Pleasant (the surf was excellent, by the way).

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Double standards 

Steve Bragg is building a catalogue of double standards. If you're on the right, it'll transport you into a spasm of head-nodding. If you're on the left, you'll be inspired to build your own reverse list.

UPDATE: Tim Perry has some interesting questions along the same lines.

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Friday, August 20, 2004

All about the medal count: The Coalition of the Willing vs. the Unwilling 

Brendan having a life and TigerHawk, er, not having a life, I decided to build on last night and post tonight's medal count sorted by "willingness," as in "Coalition of" and "Not." Here we go:

Coalition of the Willing:
United States - 40
Japan - 19
Australia - 21
Ukraine - 8
Italy - 14
South Korea - 15
Netherlands - 12
Romania - 4
Turkey - 4
Hungary - 6
Poland - 4
Slovakia - 5
Georgia - 2
Bulgaria - 3
Great Britain - 9
Czech Republic - 3
Portugal - 1
Spain - 2
Azerbaijan - 2
Colombia - 1
Denmark - 2
Mongolia - 1
Estonia - 1
TOTAL - 179

The Unwilling:
China - 36
Russia - 28
France - 16
Germany - 19
Greece - 3
South Africa - 3
Thailand - 4
Switzerland - 2
United Arab Emirates - 1
North Korea - 3
Cuba - 7
Belarus - 5
Zimbabwe - 3
India - 1
Indonesia - 2
Serbia - 1
Belgium - 2
Brazil - 2
Argentina - 1
Canada - 2
Spain - 2
Croatia - 3
Slovenia - 1
Taiwan - 1
Trinadad and Tobago - 1
Israel - 1
Eritrea - 1
Kazakhstan - 1
TOTAL - 152

The Coalition still has a significant lead over the Unwilling, but it has closed in both absolute and percentage terms since last night. Since I am not following the Olympics closely enough to make any predictions about medals yet to be awarded, I invite all interested readers to speculate on Coalition vs. Unwilling trends over the next week.

I do have a few observations. First, two-thirds of the Coalition advantage is attributable to the dominating Australians, who are crushing their Unwilling opposites (the Canadians, duh!) 21-2. Yet another reason to love Australia.

Second, the list is a bit dated, insofar as it no longer makes sense to include post-Aznar Spain in the Coalition. Then again, nobody thinks Israel is Unwilling -- we just kept them out of the Coalition for the usual reasons. For medals count purposes, though, I'm willing to trade Spain for Israel if that makes the exercise more palatable to the flower and chivalry of TigerHawk's readership.

Third, can you believe how unathletic the Indians are? You'd think that a billion people could scrape up more than a single medal.

Finally, if you are one of those timid souls who agrees with Kofi Annan that the Olympic spirit requires that "no nation is greater or smaller, stronger or weaker than any other," you still might agree that some nations are hotter than others.

UPDATE: Iraq is in contention for its first medal since 1960. At the risk of drawing snarky fire from the Left, I will include that medal, if won, in the Coalition category.

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Big 10 Football 

Tigerhawk suggested I blog on the ESPN Big 10 College Football preview. I took a quick look and saw their characteristic prediction for champion is Michigan. Way to stick your neck out, boys. As they say, no one gets fired for hiring IBM! (Herbstreit's hedge that the Minnesota Goofers might take the title seems like a high beta bet, and is only possible if they've substantially upgraded a medicore defense).

The Iowa Hawkeyes would have a been a gutsy call, true, but this is a partisan site and there's no career risk associated with missing a call, so let me declare it now: Iowa will win the Big Ten championship for the second time in three years.

The team may actually look like the 2002 Ohio State Buckeyes, who tied for the Big Ten title and went on to win the national championship game against Miami. Steller defense, good running game, good kicking game, and an average to below average passing game.

Going into the season, the Hawkeye defense looks stronger than any fielded since the 1981 Rose Bowl team that featured Andre Tippett, Mark Bortz, Pat Dean, Tracy Crocker, Mel Cole, and a host of other household names (if you happen to live in Iowa City). This year's unit will be lead by the brutal inside linebacker two of Grant Steen and Abdul Hodge, sack machine Matt Roth, and experience in the defensive line and secondary.

The offense will be more of a question mark with an untested QB taking over (no matter who wins the job), but look for running back Jermelle Lewis to explode in his senior season and rush for 1,200 yards.

Of course they play the games on the field, so as John Kerry is so fond of saying, "Bring it on!"

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Florida tramples on the First Amendment 

I think that this guy has a good lawsuit:
University of Florida's cheerleading coach was fired after he gave the squad permission to promote more than school pride at a cheerleading camp.

Gene Moore, 39, said he was unfairly terminated for allowing squad members to wear T-shirts that listed "10 Reasons to Cheer Naked." He was fired after the University Athletic Association received complaints about the shirts.

Let's see. We have the abolition of lawful speech and state action (unless somebody wants to take the position that Florida is not a state, which might be a winning argument, notwithstanding its novelty). This guy has a plausible cause of action under 42 U.S.C. 1983. But does he know it?

CWCID: Rick.

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Will New York burn?  

The carefully orchestrated Democratic Convention was successful in keeping the ugliest elements of the Democratic party from being heard. While John Kerry reported for duty and all but sang the Marine hymn, Howard Dean spoke as though someone at the bar had slipped him a Mickey, and the Bush/Hitler signs and Uncle Sam stilt men were noticeably absent. While not widely watched, and not delivering the bounce in the polls that many assumed would follow, the convention at least supported an image of Kerry as a "serious" leader and the Democrats as a coherent, reasonable bunch of thoughtful people.

Might it all unravel next week? The Republican convention in New York is clearly being set up as the release point for left wing rage. The Ted Rall article Tigerhawk linked to below is just one example of their call to action. Today's Newsday features a resuscitated Tom Hayden, comparing upcoming protests in New York with the American Revolution.

The first American revolutionaries were "rude and insolent rabble" to John
Adams, who nevertheless became president in their wake. Abigail Adams warned her husband in 1776 to remember that "if particular care and attention are not paid
to the ladies, we are determined to foment a rebellion." The former slave Frederick Douglass advised the timid liberals of his time that "those who profess to favor freedom and yet deprecate agitation are men who want crops without plowing up the ground."Shall we trade this rich heritage for the convenience of those who want to preserve their Republican authority, like the grass in Central Park, from being impacted by our marching feet?

Other more volatile forces are gathering. Today's NYT reports that Anarchists Emerge as the Convention's Wild Card. The article itself paints a ridiculous and nonsensical caricature of anarchist subculture, making this look like some kind of anarchist convention, in which

there are "Anarchist Soccer" games on Sundays in Tompkins Square Park, Anarchist People of Color picnics in Central Park, salons and even a small makeshift
bookstore in the East Village called Mayday almost entirely devoted to
anarchism.

But what TV viewers are more likely to see are scenes from the protest itself, where

even anarchists who are against violence are warning of trouble and admit that
they are planning acts of civil disobedience, including blocking intersections, staging "chaos on Broadway'' when the delegates attend Broadway shows on Sunday night, holding a "die-in'' near Madison Square Garden, sneaking into parties and other functions and generally harassing the 4,853 delegates and alternate delegates.


Might the protests in New York reach the proportions of the WTO riots in Seattle? And what will the media report? How will Americans react? Even Tom Hayden has some concerns about that, although he quickly rationalizes them into his favor.

Adding to the preconvention tension is the floating rumor that Karl Rove, President George W. Bush's campaign strategist, is laying a trap for the protesters, counting on the very fact of disorder to bolster the president's image as a strongman. In this view, protesters are supposed to behave themselves lest they throw the election to Bush.

Defending the GOP convention as if it is the Green Zone in Baghdad may not
instill national confidence in the commander in chief. A confrontation in New
York could be a sign that four more years of this president's policies will destabilize our country as needlessly as his Iraq adventure and trillion-dollar tax cuts for the wealthy. Many voters could conclude that Bush, if he wins in 2004, will plunge the country into strife not seen since the '60s.


This will be as hard to turn away from as the proverbial slow moving train wreck.



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Thursday, August 19, 2004

Olympics medal count: The coalition of the willing vs. everybody else 

For those of us who are all about the medal counts, the end of the Cold Warish East vs. West rivalry thing has taken some of the fun out of the Olympics. True, the recent trend of female athletes posing nude is picking up some of the slack, but a little bit of old-fashioned power bloc rivalry would make it all that much more interesting, Kofi Annan notwithstanding.

Brendan of the Facts Machine to the rescue! He has divided the world into the "coalition of the willing" and "everyone else," and is tracking the medal counts in each category. As of earlier today, the Coalition of the Willing was ahead of Everyone Else 130 to 91. And "Everyone Else" includes the "east" Germans. Heh.

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Well, this would be crushing of dissent 

White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan went insane, I think, in yesterday's Press Gaggle. Under repeated questioning about the battle between the Swifties and MoveOn and requests to disavow the fight over Kerry's fitness for command, as it were, McClellan seemed to call for a complete ban on the spending of money for political speech:
We've called on Senator Kerry to join us and call for an end to all of this unregulated soft money activity. And so we continue to call on him to join us in condemning all these ads and calling for an end to all of this activity.

Was this out of context? I don't think so, since he repeated himself moments later:
The President has condemned all of this kind of activity, and he should join us in doing the same and calling for an end to all of it. Apparently he was against soft money before he was for it. And the President thought he got rid of all of this unregulated soft money activity when he signed the bipartisan campaign finance reforms into law.

Say what? McClellan is claiming that Bush wants to ban all "unregulated soft money activity"? How can that mean anything other than proposing a ban on all money spent on political speech? If he doesn't mean that, what is McClellan, and presumably Bush, calling for? Under the McClellan proposal, wouldn't that mean that any political speech requiring the expenditure of any money (such as cash for blog bandwidth) be unlawful? I trust even the current Supreme Court would have a hard time signing off on such a statute.

Of course, as one of the commenters at Crooked Timbers points out, calling for an end to something is not the same thing as calling for a law to ban that thing, but that little escape hatch doesn't make McClellan's argument any less ill-advised. Or stupid.

Suffice it to say, the crack reporters in the White House press corps did not appear to notice that the Press Secretary had called for an end to the First Amendment as we know it.

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Ahhh, Red America! 

Jethro, fetch me shotgun!

It's impossible to say how many hunters will be in the woods Saturday morning
for the opening of Kentucky's 2004-05 squirrel season, but those that are there
should find plenty of game. "We're expecting this to be the best squirrel
season we've had on record," said John Morgan, small-game specialist for the
Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. "We expect hunters to see an average
of about 2.5 squirrels per hour. That's pretty good."

This reminds me of a vivid story my grandmother told of being in bed with the stomach flu in her apartment on West 67th Street in Manhattan. My grandfather returned home from Buckingham County, Virginia, with a bag of skinned squirrels he had shot, and asked her to make Mulligan stew. This being circa 1938, she got out of bed and made Mulligan stew, but it soured her on squirrel until her dying day.


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Clinton's Time Capsule 

You could have a lot of fun with this one.

LITTLE ROCK (AP) - To celebrate Bill Clinton's 58th birthday, a time
capsule holding the former president's memoirs, along with DVDs, a cell phone
and campaign buttons, was buried Thursday in front of the Clinton Presidential
Library.

The 200-pound capsule was hoisted into a vault under Celebration Circle, a
cul-de-sac that will carry traffic to the front doors of the sprawling library
when it opens Nov. 15. Some of the capsule's weight can be attributed to
Clinton's memoirs, the 957-page ``My Life.''

Many other items are listed, with some notable exceptions.

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The McGreevey story goes completely non-linear 

Jeff Jarvis captures the transporting weirdness of the McGreevey-Cipel-Miller triangle of, er, whatever. Here's the link to the Daily News story on Dr. David Miller, who the Daily News describes as an adjunct professor of something undisclosed at Montclair State University. Unfortunately for the fact-checkers at that august paper, Montclair State University's web site acknowledges no such person, so Professor Miller must be deep undercover. Either that, or MSU has a very on-the-ball webmaster.

If this doesn't end up as a story line in the next season of The Sopranos, I'm going to be very disappointed.

UPDATE (6 PM): Wonkette shreds Tina Brown's take on the baring of McGreevey's soul thingy. Heh.

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Too much head leads to too little 

'Three Saudi men beheaded for sodomy' - headline, Jerusalem Post.

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Bumper sticker leftists 

Mark Steyn's recent column is up to the standard we have come to expect from him, particularly in his reduction of "bumper sticker leftists," of which we have so many here in Princeton. It comes in the context of a broadside attack on the sanctimony-without-credibility of today's Western European governments:
...European countries now have attitudes in inverse proportion to the likelihood of their acting upon them. They're like my hippy-dippy Vermont neighbours who drive around with "Free Tibet" bumper stickers. Every couple of years, they trade in the Volvo for a Subaru, and painstakingly paste a new "Free Tibet" sticker on the back.

What are they doing to free Tibet? Nothing. Tibet is as unfree now as it was when they started advertising their commitment to a free Tibet. And it will be just as unfree when they buy their next car and slap on the old sticker one mo' time. If Don Rumsfeld were to say, 'Free Tibet'? That's a great idea! The Third Infantry Division go in on Thursday', all the 'Free Tibet' crowd would be driving around with 'War is not the answer' stickers.

When entire nations embrace self-congratulatory holier-than-thou moral poseurdom as a way of life, it's even less attractive. The Belgians weren't half as insufferable when they were the German army's preferred shortcut to France.

The title of the column is "Do you want to sing Waterloo, or fight it?"

UPDATE (forgot this earlier) CWCID: Professor Bainbridge.

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Ted Rall on the Republicans in New York 

Ted Rall, famous leftist cartoonist, has issued a stirring call to arms to the people who would protest the Republican convention in New York City:
The Republican delegates here to coronate George W. Bush are unwelcome members of a hostile invading army. Like the hapless saps whose blood they sent to be spilled into Middle Eastern sands, they will be given intentionally incorrect directions to nonexistent places. Objects will be thrown in their direction. Children will call them obscene names. They will not be greeted as liberators....

Making hay of the dead is also the point of this confab's timing. The 2004 Necropublican National Convention is being held a full month later than normal, from August 30 to September 2. The original plan was to have Bush shuttle between Madison Square Garden and Ground Zero for photo ops to coincide with the third anniversary of the September 11th attacks. Bush's visits to the Trade Center site were quietly canceled a few months back after 9/11 survivors expressed revulsion at the idea. But it was too late to change the date.

You get the idea.

Now go read Allah, and follow the links to Rall's cartoons. Right now. Now go read A Small Victory. Now you're done.

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Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Kerry on the realignment of our soldiers 

Patrick of Liberating Iraq has a well-documented summary of all of John Kerry's recent positions on the realignment of our soldiers. He has been clearly and profoundly on all sides of the issue, to wit:
Here's Kerry against the realignment, today:
Today John Kerry Criticized The President For Realigning Our Troops. "Finally, I want to say something about the plan that the President announced on Monday to withdraw 70,000 troops from Asia and Europe. Nobody wants to bring troops home more than those of us who have fought in foreign wars. But it needs to be done at the right time and in a sensible way. This is not that time or that way. Let's be clear. The President's vaguely stated plan does not strengthen our hand in the war on terror. It in no way relieves the strain on our overextended military personnel. It doesn't even begin until 2006, and it takes ten years to achieve." (Sen. John Kerry, Remarks At The Veterans Of Foreign Wars Convention, Cincinnati, OH, 8/18/04)

Here he is in favor of something that sounds very much like the Bush plan, just a few days before:
In August 2004, Kerry Said: "I Think We Can Significantly Change The Deployment Of Troops, Not Just There But Elsewhere In The World. In The Korean Peninsula Perhaps, In Europe Perhaps." STEPHANOPOULOS: "Can you promise that American troops will be home by the end of your first term?" SENATOR JOHN F. KERRY: "I will have significant, enormous reduction in the level of troops. We will probably have a continued presence of some kind, certainly in the region. If the diplomacy that I believe can be put in place can work, I think we can significantly change the deployment of troops, not just there but elsewhere in the world. In the Korean peninsula perhaps, in Europe perhaps. There are great possibilities open to us. But this administration has had very little imagination, enormous sort of ideological fixation and, frankly, took its eye off the war against al Qaeda and the war on terror shifting it to Iraq at enormous cost to the American people and to the legitimacy of the war on terror." (John Kerry, ABC's "This Week," 8/1/04)

It turned out that Bush had more imagination and less "ideological fixation" than Kerry thought.

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The Iraq National Conference, from up close 

Zeyad of Healing Iraq is blogging the Iraq National Conference from Arabic television. It's democracy in action:
Under Ba'athist rule, proceedings from the so-called National Council were televised from time to time. The Revolutionary Command Council was the sole source of legislation, so basically the National Council had no other function but to approve and stamp the endless amendments. Votes were always unanimous. It was a joke really. A farce.

The National Conference also looks like a farce on the surface, but of a totally different kind. Here you have 1000-1300 delegates from all over Iraq, from all ethnicities, religions, sects and social backgrounds. A curious mix of people all put together in one room to try and choose 81 individuals that are supposed to represent Iraqis.

Young and old clerics in black and white turbans, groomed men in suits and carefully pressed shirts, tribal Sheikhs traditionally dressed, women shrouded in black abayas, others in the latest hairdressing style and glamorous fashion trends and some in headscarfs of every imaginable colour. Doctors, dentists, lawyers, judges, engineers, professors, teachers, generals, businessmen, artists, actors, activists, priests, imams, even sportsmen and a musician.

The spirit is there, even if they haven't fully absorbed Roberts Rules of Order:
It started out fine, then other delegates started interrupting others, walkouts, delegates swearing and shaking fists at each other amid applause or laughter from the conference, it almost came to blows at one point. Here is an example:

[Delegate speaking to the conference]: "The 'list' is an act of dictatorship, this is unacceptable. I am going to--" [Someone taps at a microphone to attract attention and starts his own speech reading from 2 or 3 pages in his hand]

[First delegate's eyes almost pop out of his face in disbelief]:"Excuse me sir, it was my turn.." [interrupting delegate ignores him and continues to give his speech]

[he gets applause from the crowd]

First delegate starts shouting: "This is unbelievable. Sir? SIR?? It's my turn. Can't you understand?" [starts tapping frantically at his microphone]

Second delegate: "Yes, but they ignored my turn as well. I have been waiting for a long time." [continues to read]

President of the committee: "This is outrageous. Sir, sir. You.. yes you. Get seated please. Allow others a chance." [bangs on the table] "What are you doing on the stage??" [he almost screams at someone behind him] "People please if you have a suggestion or something, write it down on a paper.. We can't continue like this."

[commotion in the hall]

First delegate: "I don't believe this. SIR? Don't you have any decency at all?"

[Laughter in the hall followed by applause]

It sounds to me that these 1000 Iraqis know all about democracy. Read the whole thing.

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If you live in Pennsylvania, definitely lie to your doctor 

Pennsylvania has a law that requires doctors to report any impairment that could compromise a patient's ability to drive safely. Presumably the original intent of the 40 year old law was to catch impaired vision, memory or reflexes. But at least one Pennsylvania doctor and the corresponding judge has applied the law to doctor-patient communications about alcohol consumption.
Just telling a doctor how much you drink at home may be enough to get your driver's license suspended in Pennsylvania.

A judge has ruled that the state can suspend the driver's license of a man who told his doctor he drank a six-pack of beer a day.

To be clear, there was no allegation that the driver involved actually drove under the influence. He merely confessed to drinking a six-pack a day, which fact alone is apparently enough to deprive him of his license.

It is hard to imagine a more foolish and counterproductive social policy. The Keystone State is forcing people to choose between honest communications with their physician over matters that could have huge consequences for their health and their license to drive. I think it is safe to say that most people, if informed of this requirement, would lie to their doctors. Indeed, my informal and unscientific poll of Pennsylvania residents in my circle of friends suggests that virtually all Pennsylvania drinkers will soon be lying like rugs. The net effect of this new interpretation of the law, therefore, will be worse public health and virtually no reduction in drunk driving on Pennsylvania's roads. Brilliant.

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Gotta love Taranto... 

Best of the Web should be on everybody's daily reading list, for the man's wit alone.

Remember when John Kerry went to the prom and got doused with pig's blood?
Oh wait, sorry, that wasn't Kerry; it was Carrie, Sissy Spacek's character in the eponymous 1976 film. We regret the error.

The Kerry campaign seems to have made a similar mistake. Bloggers Eugene Volokh and Robert Tagorda note that campaign press releases from Jan. 29 and March 24 describe Kerry as a former vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. But although Kerry was a member of the committee until 2000, Volokh and Tagorda show that he almost certainly never served as vice chairman.

A fellow senator with a similar name did, however. The biography of Bob
Kerrey
, now president of New York's New School University, says that he was
the commmittee's vice chairman between 1995 and 1999. Kerrey also, by the way,
served in Vietnam.



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Weasels whining about wine 

An interesting article in the NYT about the problems facing the French wine industry. It seems the Bordeaux wine growers are suffering from a tremendous decline in demand for their products.

For the French wine industry as a whole, these are tough times. Domestic
consumption is down, foreign competition and the weak dollar have battered
exports, overproduction is rampant and needed changes are thwarted by obsolete
rules. Bordeaux has been hit particularly hard because it is the largest of the
country's wine regions and wine is central to its economy.
Many reasons are cited for the decline in demand, including the growth of competition from Australia and Chile. I find it both interesting and astonishing, however, that the article fails to mention the possibility that the slump has been exacerbated by the fact that many Americans, Tigerhawk included, have made a point of avoiding French products after their disingenuous behavior in the months leading up to the invasion of Iraq. My own view is that this grass roots boycott is more than a trivial contributing factor to the French wine malaise, and the Glasgow Herald agrees.

I wonder if the French are as blind to this as the New York Times appears to be.



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Al-Sadr lays down arms? 

According to Stratfor($),
Iraqi Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr on Aug. 18 has reportedly agreed to demands made by the Iraqi government to end fighting in An Najaf and will leave the Imam Ali Mosque where he has been holed up while fighting U.S. and Iraqi forces.

Debka has the same story.

If we actually collect his weapons and arrest his army, this is very good news. As Drudge would say, developing...

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Honoring Hayden 

My first official act as authorized guest blogger is to correct Tigerhawk's shocking oversight in not recognizing last Saturday's induction of Hayden Fry into the College Football Hall of Fame.

In 1979 Fry inherited an Iowa football program that was among the worst in the country. Year after year it entered the season ranked in the Penthouse bottom 20 (which I know as I was a regular reader at the time). Of course it was Fry who changed the image of Iowa football, redesigning the uniforms to mimic the then dominant Pittsburgh Steelers, and introducing the fierce and now universally recognized Tigerhawk logo.

After two decades of enduring unimaginative, losing football, Iowa fans were stunned in the 1979 opener when the Hawkeyes took the field and (gasp!) attempted a forward pass on first down. Then another, and another. When the punter took the field (an unknown freshman named Reggie Roby) the crowd rose to its feet and let out a roar of approval for this exciting new brand of football.

Two years later, Iowa opened the 1981 season with a shocking 10-7 victory over Nebraska, and the program was on its way. Fry would take the Hawkeyes to three Rose Bowls over the next 10 years, bringing the program back to consistent respectability, if not annual Big 10 contention.

So here's to Hayden and his great gift to Hawkeyes everywhere.

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In the house! 

In anticipation of his pending vacation, Tigerhawk has granted me guest blogging privilages (possibly in response to the imposition of strict blog rationing by Mrs. Tigerhawk?).

This, therefore, is a test of the emergency guest blogging system.

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Google arrogance, Part II 

I have already written that Google's management, by its arrogance, is hurting the value of the company. This morning we learn that it is lowering the range of its offering, so its Dutch auction structure is not performing as well as some had expected as recently as last week. More tellingly, CNBC is reporting this morning that the SEC is digging into the Playboy interview, thinking that it might be gun-jumping after all.

As many of us have been asking since last week, how could it not be?

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The coaches of Ivy League basketball 

SportsProf has posted what has to be the ultimate discussion of coaching in Ivy League basketball. Note the tremendous influence of Princeton and Penn coaches on the rest of the conference. This is not surprising, considering the results measured in league championships:

Men's Ivy League Basketball Champions (since league play began in 1956)

Princeton: 25 (1959-61, 1963-65, 1967-69, 1976-77, 1980-81, 1983-84, 1989-92, 1996-98, 2001-02, 2004)

Penn: 22 (1966, 1970-75, 1978-82, 1985, 1987, 1993-96, 1999-2000, 2002-03)

Yale: 4 (1957, 1962-63, 2002)

Dartmouth: 3 (1956, 1958-59)

Brown: 1 (1986)

Columbia: 1 (1968)

Cornell: 1 (1988)

Harvard: none

Undefeated Ivy seasons (only 2 schools have finished the season with a perfect 14-0 conference record):

Penn: 7 (1970-71, 1993-95, 2000, 2003)

Princeton: 5 (1969, 1976, 1991, 1997-98)

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Even when the Times gets it right, it gets it wrong 

The New York Times is running a very sensible editorial this morning, calling for Jim McGreevey to resign (which he has not actually done yet) before September 3, so that New Jersey can hold a special election for governor rather than being saddled with this guy for more than a year. Amazingly, I found nothing to disagree with in the editorial.

Except the headline: "N.J. Voters in a Pickle." You gotta be kidding me. We're "in a pickle"? How about getting a little oomph behind that there headline: "Let New Jersey vote" for example. Or "Resign now". New Jersey voters are in an almost constant pickle owing to the incredible structural inefficiencies in our government, and our political culture of mutual backscratching. But it will be worse than being in a pickle if we have to endure the same man as acting governor and president of the State Senate for more than a year.

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Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Golan Cipel's girlfriend?!? 

Allegedly, here.

Well, he said he wasn't gay.

Jeff Jarvis has today's McGreevey round-up, including Al-Jazeera's take (hint, it's Israel's fault).

UPDATE (8-18-04, 5:50 AM): Golan Cipel may also have had a boyfriend. Or another boyfriend, depending on whether you believe McGreevey.

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Push-me Pull-you 

Dr. Doolittle has nothing on the Grouchy Old Cripple.

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Vomitorium 

If you're going to be in New York City tonight and will have time on your hands, don't miss this. And by all means bring a digital camera, because if this stuff doesn't make it on to the web it will be the missed opportunity of the year. How often do you get to see leftists degrade themselves so spectacularly?

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Did the lambs lose a key game? 

'Fan electrocutes lambs at state fair' - headline, TheIowaChannel.com.

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Eliot Spitzer and the cost of drugs 

In my capacity as blogger and concerned citizen, I'm all for knowing what pharmacies charge for drugs. Price transparency is a good idea, so I support government building "an interactive Web site to help New Yorkers comparison shop for prescription drugs." However, if I were a New York politician other than Eliot Spitzer or a taxpayer in that state (actually, I am, come to think of it), I would want to know why this is the attorney general's job. If this is within the mandate of his office, what isn't?

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Projection 

A publication linked Egypt's ruling National Democratic Party writes that Jews want to kill everybody else:
"Dr. Al-Sharqawi adds that if we examine the Talmudic attitude toward other, non-Jewish nations, we will find it to be as close as can be to a desire to completely annihilate the 'Goyim' – the non-Jewish nations. For instance, the Talmud says: 'Murdering a non-Jew whenever possible is an obligation. A Jew is a sinner if he can murder non-Jews but does not do so. And a Jewish priest who blesses a person [Jew] who brings evidence that he murdered one or more non-Jews is a blessed priest. Murdering non-Jews pleases God, because the flesh of non-Jews is the flesh of donkeys and their sperm is the sperm of animals.'

"The Talmud also says 'Kill anyone who is not Jewish even if he is pious. The Jews are prohibited from saving from death any member of the other nations, or rescue him from a ditch in which he fell, because that would mean saving an idolater, even though he is pious.'

"Also, the Talmud says that 'it is righteous for a Jew to kill a non-Jew with his own hands, because whoever kills a non-Jew is offering a sacrifice to God…'

There's much, much more.

When will the West wake up to the horrible lies of the Arab world?

Drain the swamp, even if it takes fifty years.

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Monday, August 16, 2004

Way cool web site 

If you love words, proceed immediately to Wordcount.org. This site hosts an engine that allows you to figure out how "popular" an English word is, by rank. For example, "the" is the most common word in the English language, followed by "of" and "and."

The site describes itself as "an artistic experiment in the way we use language."
It presents the 86,800 most frequently used English words, ranked in order of commonality. Each word is scaled to reflect its frequency relative to the words that precede and follow it, giving a visual barometer of relevance. The larger the word, the more we use it. The smaller the word, the more uncommon it is.

WordCount data currently comes from the British National Corpus®, a 100 million word collection of samples of written and spoken language from a wide range of sources, designed to represent an accurate cross-section of current English usage. WordCount includes all words that occur at least twice in the BNC®. In the future, WordCount will be modified to track word usage within any desired text, website, and eventually the entire Internet.

My father had a favorite word, festoon, which I have adopted in his fond memory. Today, festoon is ranked 61,252, following "beaufighters" but, remarkably, preceding "poetess."

And yes, I checked for the "f" word. It's ranked 5598, right between "charming" and "workshops." It kinda restores my faith in the world that "charming" manages to slip in as slightly more common than "f*ck."

CWCID: Best of the Web.

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Expert witnesses and the problem of observer bias 

Spoons points to this troubling article in the Chicago Tribune summarizing the results of a study published in the August issue of Academic Radiology. The study
casts considerable doubt on expert witness testimony in asbestos litigation. The study compared the findings of physicians who interpreted X-rays for plaintiffs in asbestos lawsuits with those of independent radiologists interpreting the same X-rays.

The study by Dr. Joseph Gitlin and Dr. Elizabeth Garrett-Mayer of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore compared interpretations of 492 chest X-rays. Physicians working for the plaintiffs detected evidence of possible asbestos-related lung damage in 95.9 percent of them. Yet evidence of disease was detected in only 4.5 percent of the cases when they were reviewed by the independent radiologists.

The only thing surprising about this result is that the editors of Academic Radiology find the result "as disquieting as it is startling." The only people who would find this result "startling" are radiologists and judges. Everybody else understands that radiology -- which is the human interpretation of medical images -- is subject to tremendous observer bias.

Indeed, the problem of observer bias in radiology is so pervasive that the United States Food and Drug Administration requires that clinical trials dependant on radiological outcomes structure observer bias out of the trial.

So, for example, when a medical device company designs a clinical trial that depends upon the interpretation of medical images to measure outcomes, it uses blinded panels of radiologists -- generally two or three physicians per image -- to review each image of each patient. The trial's protocol will provide for some sort of adjudication in the event that the reviewing panel splits its opinion about the significance of an image. All of this is necessary because the FDA recognizes that there is an enormous amount of observer bias inherent in radiological interpretation.

If the government in its capacity as a regulator of the medical device industry recognizes that a single unblinded radiological interpretation -- even if not self-interested -- is inadequate to determine the effectiveness of a new medical device, why do the federal courts permit the introduction of result-oriented interpretations in personal injury cases?

Of course, you will never find the editors of an esteemed journal like Academic Radiology admitting that radiologists are trapped by observer bias, because to do so would shake our faith in their everyday practice of medicine. So the mandarins of the specialty attribute the bias revealed in this study to self-interest on the part of treasonous expert witnesses, which is easier than admitting that even the most honest radiologist will tend to see ghosts in the images if he is expecting to see them there.

So judges let in evidence that the FDA would not consider the least bit probative in other contexts, and the medical profession does not campaign for the obvious solution -- blinded panels of experts, rather than paid individual expert witnesses -- because admitting the problem of bias in the absence of venality would damage the self-image of radiologists.

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Good news from Iraq, part VIII 

The eighth segment of Arthur Chrenkoff's "Good news from Iraq" series is up, here. For those few of you who are unfamiliar with Chrenkoff's work, it is a bi-weekly round-up of the good news from that troubled country that you aren't reading in the mass media. You can read the earlier segments by following the links on the right sidebar of his blog.

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179 shots 

That's how many photos there are in the Reuters "Olympics beach volleyball slideshow" (look on the left sidebar). Believe me, there's something there for everybody.

CWCID: Rob A.

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Sunday, August 15, 2004

Synchronized diving?!? 

Rob A. wants to know why nobody told him that "synchronized diving" had become an Olympic sport. Jeff Jarvis thinks it's dumb. It is.

The concept of "synchronization," it seems to me, can be applied to virtually any sport. What about gymnastics? Why are we screwing around with these silly one-at-a-time events, when we could haul in another couple of balance beams and synchronize up the whole thing? Or, having mastered synchronicity (is that a word, or only the title of an album?), could we then move to asynchronous competition? Two gymnasts have to do simultaneous floor exercises on the same mat without whacking each other. That would be awesome!

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I'm glad to see the Chinese are cracking down on this kind of thing 

'115 accused of gambling on insect fights' - headline, Associated Press.

Apparently they were using a "cricket lovers' association" as a front. It is entirely unclear from the story whether the cricketophilia in question refers to the sport, or the beetle.

The Chinese, not lacking for jail space, are holding all 115 men in custody pending indictment.

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The best Olympics photo yet... 

Check it out. And while you're at it, thank the Australians for getting those guys out of the country in one piece.

CWCID: VodkaPundit for the picture, and Dean for the link on the assist from down under.

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John Kerry, the Iraq war, and The New York Times 

This morning's New York Times contains a rather remarkable editorial, "wishing that Mr. Kerry would do a better job" contending with his vote to support military operations in Iraq. Here's the heart of the essay:
Mr. Kerry, as almost everyone now knows, voted to give President Bush the authority to invade Iraq, in a post-9/11 climate of fear and widespread conviction that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction that might be used against the United States or its allies in the near future. Now that we know differently, some senators have said they regret their vote. Not Mr. Kerry. He affirmed once again last week that he believes he did the right thing. It was Mr. Bush who erred, he continued, by misusing the power he had been given.

Of course, John Kerry did not merely affirm "once again last week that he believes he did the right thing." John Kerry said that he would have voted the same way -- in favor of the war -- even if he had known then that we would not find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. This last point has been all over both the blogosphere and mainstream media -- even Bill Maher raised it repeatedly on his HBO show on Friday night, leaving Gary Hart, yet another Kerry campaign "foreign policy advisor," speechless. Why? Because it is a clear reversal of earlier Kerry statements, back when Howard Dean had him on the ropes. Then his story was that he had voted for the use of force only because he had been "misled" about weapons of mass destruction.

The Times is completely disingenuous about Kerry's revisionism:
The Republicans have made much of this record; the Kerry campaign is haunted by replays of the theme song from the old TV show "Flipper." Mr. Bush, however, has a far more dangerous pattern of behavior. On issues from tax cuts to foreign policy, the president tends to stick stubbornly to his original course even when changing events cry out for adaptation. His explanations seem to evolve every day, but his thinking never does.

Bush's apparently inflexibility indeed has its disadvantages, which may or may not outweigh its advantages. But to equate Bush's consistency with Kerry's inconsistency is to hide the ball. Kerry has not only been inconsistent in his actions, he has been wholly inconsistent in his post hoc explanations for his actions. Did he vote to authorize the use of force in Iraq because of the "misleading" intelligence about weapons of mass destruction, or would he have done so even knowing that there were no such weapons?

This inconsistency is not a big deal per se -- consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative. But, and this is a huge but, we still have no idea whether John Kerry would have taken us to war in Iraq. We can suspect that he would not have because he has been a dove his entire life -- or at least since he may or may not have been in Cambodia on Christmas Day 1968 -- but from his statements to date we can only conclude that he also would have invaded Iraq. Except that he would have done it with 30,000 French soldiers who would have happily shown up if only we had said s'il vous plait often enough.

The Times does, finally, get around to trashing the myth of an alternative "more competent" Iraq war:
What we would like to hear from Mr. Kerry is how the events of the last year have changed his own thinking. He consistently describes the failures of Iraq as failures in tactics - from a lack of international support to a lack of adequate body armor for the troops [which, when given the chance, he voted against, ed.]. We're wondering if he really believes better planning or better diplomacy would have made the difference, or whether the whole idea of sending troops was flawed. Arab nations have a painful history of Western colonization, and there is an instinctive resistance to the idea of a Western occupation of Arab soil. How much does Mr. Kerry think the addition of French and German soldiers would have improved things? In retrospect, it seems that even if Arab nations like Saudi Arabia or Egypt had added their support, the outcome would have more likely been trouble for the governments of those countries back home rather than credibility on the streets of Baghdad.

The Times and TigerHawk come to opposite conclusions about whether we should have fought this war, but at least we now agree on the value of our erstwhile allies.

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Kate is back, hissing like a banshee 

To mix a metaphor. Go here and just keep scrolling.

And while you're at it, consider the very good question she raised yesterday afternoon: Why aren't more people concerned that John Kerry's contributors are doing such a poor job of disclosing required personal information?

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