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Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Onward and Upward

Today marks a mini-milestone for two reasons. First, I made my first blog posting at this address a year ago today. At the time I was pretty clueless about what I was doing, not that I really know what I'm doing now either. Even so, I have enjoyed wasting lots of time during the past 12 months on my own blog and those of others. I probably know a lot more about the news than a sane person should, and my views and interests have been evolving as a result of the sites I've had the chance to read.

Blogging has also been a novel way to kill time at work when I'm tethered to a computer, though the second milestone today is that I'm leaving my current job. It's a contract that is up June 30, and I've been planning to depart today all along, so no worries. I will be taking July off to travel a little bit, move, and volunteer when the Democratic convention comes to town in four weeks. After that, I begin my next adventure, vague details of which I may explain here at a later time. This all means that there may be a few disruptions in my posting during the month of July. I'll still try to post and read lots of blogs when I can, and I plan on keeping the blog going in some form for the foreseeable future.

Thanks to everyone who has had something to do with my pleasant blog experience so far. Here's to an even better future.

Cheney at Yankee Stadium: This Says It All

Cheney and Jeter

I actually was looking for a photo of Cheney sitting at the game in a Yankees cap, which I saw on TV last night, but this will do. Of course Cheney is a Yankees fan since his governing philosophy--make the rich richer and cheer them on--is exactly like being a New York Yankees supporter. What we really need, though, is to see Bush and Jeter side by side so that we can compare their smirks. They are also similar characters to whom everything has been handed on a silver platter, Bush his fortunate family connections and Jeter his luck of team affiliation.

UPDATE: Kriston directs me to Norbizness, who has the photo I was looking for.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Feeling Their Pain

I can't resist posting on Edmund Morris's Reagan remembrance from last week's New Yorker:

Ronald Reagan's air of gentleness was such that few people noticed, or could believe they were noticing, that he had little private empathy with them. In November of 1988, a delegation of Bangladeshis visited the Oval Office to tell him about the catastrophic effects of the Burhi Ganga floods. After a few minutes, their spokesman stopped, disconcerted by the President's dreamy smile. "You know," Reagan said, "I used to work as a lifeguard at Lowell Park beach, on the Rock River in Illinois, and when it rained upstate you wouldn't believe the trees and trash, and so forth, that used to come down."

This reminds me of Ron Reagan's complaint about Dick Cheney:

How did your mother feel about being ushered to her seat by President Bush?

Well, he did a better job than Dick Cheney did when he came to the rotunda. I felt so bad. Cheney brought my mother up to the casket, so she could pay her respects. She is in her 80's, and she has glaucoma and has trouble seeing. There were steps, and he left her there. He just stood there, letting her flounder. I don't think he's a mindful human being. That's probably the nicest way I can put it.

The Clinton book is currently reminding me of some of the areas in which I disagreed with him (the death penalty, his view of global trade--at one point he favorably refers to Lester Thurow), but one thing is for sure: Clinton could empathize with people.

My Life: Fourth 100 Pages

There's been somewhat of a shift in tone as Clinton progresses in describing the stages of his political career. The early stuff about his schooling, low-level campaign jobs, losing his 1974 run for Congress, serving as attorney general, and then being a governor who was kicked out after his first term all has the same tone. Clinton is reflecting on the lessons he learned coming up, openly admitting his failures and how he took lessons for his presidency.

But starting with his comeback victory in the 1982 governor's race, Clinton is much more sure of himself. There's more wonkishness about all of the policy programs he passed, how he got the legislature to go along, and praise for his aides and others he worked with. He also is very sure of himself in analyzing how his opponents in the 1990 race made political blunders. The start of the second stint as governor represents the time when Clinton really came into his own, and his success from then on spurred him on to a White House win a decade later. A lot of the ideas he began espousing in the 1980s, as his national stature grew, are closely linked to his two terms in Washington, so perhaps one could say that around page 300 or so the instinct to protect his legacy kicks in and Clinton's writing starts suffering a bit. Maybe the criticisms I've seen in reviews that the latter half of the book is weaker will turn out to be correct--we'll see.

As for the anecdotes, the part on his infamously interminable 1988 convention speech, the public reaction to it, and his self-mockery on the Tonight Show is pretty good, including details I didn't know previously. Another thing that stands out is how enamored Clinton is with Wal-Mart, on a few occasions citing how he got companies to keep factories open by convincing Sam Walton to stock their products (the buy-American emphasis was later abandoned, he notes), and praising Walton's business practices. But the most interesting bit is the account of how Clinton received a 1991 phone call from Bush I domestic policy advisor Roger Porter threatening that if he ran in '92 the GOP would seek to destroy him personally. Porter denies that the phone call ever occurred and it wasn't until I read the full context last night that I realized how central Clinton makes the Porter story to his account. He emphasizes how he didn't like to be threatened, and how he has used threats as motivation at various stages of his life. Brad DeLong has been covering this dispute with a transcript of the relevant passages of the book and a comparison with previous books' accounts, including David Maraniss, who says Porter wanted Clinton to become a Republican (by way of Bob Somerby--imagine an alternate universe in which the Clinton haters had elected him through their own party!). Upon reviewing this evidence, DeLong sides with Clinton over Porter.

Mitt's Misinformation Campaign Continues

Mitt Romney had a brief chat with his WEEI sycophants, Dennis and Callahan, about an hour ago, in which he continued to go after Kerry for not speaking at the mayors conference yesterday. No one mentioned that Kerry's choice may turn out to be a shrewd move since the union now says it won't picket the convention, and Romney posed hypotheticals, saying "What if there's a picket line at Congress or the G-8?" implying Kerry couldn't serve effectively as president by keeping his pledge never to cross a picket line since that could interfere with state of the unions or international summits. The suggestion is ridiculous.

Even if the union had protested at the convention, they would have been blocks away from the Fleet Center in the designated protest zone, thus there would have been no picket line to cross to get into the convention site. There are similar security measures at presidential addresses, the G-8, etc. You simply cannot picket on the street directly outside a hotel ballroom where a president is giving a speech, so the parallel between yesterday and what might happen during a Kerry presidency is non-existent, no matter how much Romney may try to draw it. The fact that the GOP is pressing this is still interesting, though, since I would have thought that Bush had the anti-union vote sewn up already.

RELATED: Elias has a good take on the negative attitude toward the convention: "The truth is however, Massachusetts is rife with toxic levels of self loathing--the Herald is simply giving our ritual masochism a loud truculent voice. ... Our lack of self esteem has been the state GOP's main chance." Of course, we can't just enjoy a national political showcase for the area--everyone has to bitch and moan about it, and I think Elias is onto something with the deeper reasons for why this is.

UPDATE: Of course, I finish writing this, then go to the Herald's site, and I find their poll story that says: "Bay Staters are hardly panicking over Democratic convention gloom and doom - already planning to dodge gridlock, unconcerned about a terrorist strike and even sold on the July event's economic benefits, a new Herald poll shows." The paper must be upset that their best efforts to whip up local hysteria aren't working.

Monday, June 28, 2004

Naughty Time at the Conventions

Via Wonkette I see the New York Daily News has an important story that is sadly being buried by the developments in Iraq and at the Supreme Court today (but not at DK!):

With thousands of Republicans set to invade the city this summer, high-priced escorts and strippers are preparing for one grand old party.

Agencies are flying in extra call girls from around the globe to meet the expected demand during the Aug. 30-Sept. 2 gathering at Madison Square Garden.

They must have heard that Fox News was sending Dick Morris to be there.

I do have a related story to tell. I was a DNC intern back in 2000, as you may know, and I attended the LA convention (didn't sleep much, but got to go to lots of cool things too). Every day, during the walk from the Wilshire Grand Hotel (where the DNC office space was) down the five blocks to the Staples Center, we passed by the Spearmint Rhino Gentlemen's Club--don't ask me where that name came from. The Club was clearly seeking to capitalize on the proximity to the convention site by having some of the nice young ladies outside giving away free bottles of water and chatting up delegates in hopes they would return after hours. Though I never did go back after the Staples Center speechifying was done with (scout's honor, there were other parties to get to around the city anyway), I did take advantage of the free water. The pictures on the bottles were great, with the women's hair obscuring certain body parts--I felt compelled to hide the water or hold it close in certain company. The workers there seemed very nice, and my fellow DNC interns were referring to each others' "stripper water" all that week. How wholesome, huh?

MORE: While I'm on the sophomoric post of the day, see "Sprem continues unforeseen run" (at Wimbeldon, that is). Via Memphis Bengal who thinks this might be a side-effect of Cialis. Also at the Frog, Chumley linked a bizarre BBC story on a woman who picked up a British accent after having a stroke, even though she's never been to Britain.

Romney Fills in for Kerry at Mayors' Conference

Never missing an opportunity to embarrass John Kerry, Mitt Romney addressed the mayors' conference in Kerry's place after the senator refused to cross the police union's picket line.

"A mayor, a governor, and a president have a responsibility for making tough decisions and balancing budgets, senators don't," Romney said.

In fact, senators at both the state and federal level do participate in the budgeting process. Romney might have noticed that the budgets he's signed the last two years were initially passed by both houses of the legislature.

I think the police union is making unreasonable demands, but Kerry is also in a tough spot, needing labor backing. Romney's grandstanding on the issue is typical of his shameless politics.

I think he meant "Let Freedom Ring"

Iraq Handover Note

"President George W. Bush receives confirmation of Iraqi sovereignty, then wrote, 'Let Freedom Reign!' during the opening session of the NATO Summit in Istanbul, Turkey, Monday, June 28, 2004." (Remarks by Bush and Blair)

I say let freedom reign, indeed.

Leahy in the Globe

The vice president's pal Patrick Leahy has an op-ed in the Boston Globe today entitled "There Is No Justification for Torture." Clearly, the senator needed to be cursed out last week if this is the kind of worldview he espouses.

Handover

I'll quickly get on record about the US surprisingly turning over political power to Iraqis two days early. The fact that we had to do this in a sneaky way is a sad commentary on the inability to guarantee security in the country. Considering the good PR that could've come out of this, they must have really had no confidence that they could prevent violence from marring the event. It must feel good to be Jerry Bremer this morning, having gotten out of that mess.

The TV people are probably rather stunned and annoyed that they had these great plans to cover events on Wednesday and now it's all done. I also heard one anchor this morning refer to the "end of the occupation" which this simply is not. We still have our occupying forces on the ground in the country, and the occupation will be over when they come home. Sure, it's nice that Iraqis are now officially running the political and bureaucratic functions in the country, but the big challenge of security remains. And you can't pull a surprise election two days early, so things had better improve over the coming months in order for Iraq to be able to make a real transition to democracy.

Sunday, June 27, 2004

Finally, a Romney Rebuttal

Someone at last wrote a letter to the Globe explaining that Mitt Romney's charge that Kerry's absence in the Senate cost the state millions in unemployment insurance money is completely bogus. I had considered writing them on this myself but didn't (I would have to do so using my real name, after all). There was another good letter yesterday too on Romney's anti-gay congressional testimony, but it omitted my favorite bit about deceased straight parents being better for kids than having live gay ones.

The Globe needs to get its act together in reporting these things. The news coverage on the calls for Kerry to resign never mentioned the GOP vote rigging, and the op-eds on Romney's gay marriage diatribe by Lehigh and Jacoby so far have praised the guv for taking an unpopular stand. Maybe it's unpopular because it's wrong.

I also found it amusing how the Globe editorial criticizing Romney on Wednesday contradicted the Lehigh column. Bear with me for a second and look at Lehigh:

"I didn't come to provide constitutional legal interpretation . . . but given the fact that I struggled through law school and remember some of it, I will give a try," Romney replied. "That paragraph says neither this constitution nor the constitution of any state shall be construed to require that marriage or the legal incidence thereof be conferred upon any union . . . It doesn't say that it is prohibited." That, the governor explained, was in keeping with his own view that the decision on civil unions should be left up to the states.

Lehigh praises this as "an effective moment" showing Romney to be "bright, articulate, unflappable, and able to think on his feet." But the editorial that same day said the following:

Yesterday, Romney tried to say that the constitutional gay-marriage ban under consideration in Washington is not more restrictive than the Massachusetts amendment the Legislature narrowly advanced in March. But the Massachusetts amendment would explicitly establish civil unions, while the federal amendment says no state constitution can be construed as conferring marriage rights "or the legal incidents thereof" upon any union other than a heterosexual one.

By my reading, that's a direct contradiction of Lehigh. One of them has this completely wrong.

While I'm on the gay marriage issue, see Vanessa Kerry's essay from the Advocate, posted on the Kerry blog.

Finally, the Ken Bode interview of "My Life" in today's Globe doesn't have much credibility when it misrepresents an anecdote from the book right at the beginning:

Early in his 957-page autobiography, Bill Clinton tells the story of his dying uncle Buddy, who admitted he was going through a tough time. "Yeah, it is," Buddy told Clinton, "but I signed on for the whole load, and most of it was pretty good."

The line is actually about the wife of Clinton's uncle, who was sick and dying at the time. In that context, the bit about signing on for the whole load--the marriage--makes a lot more sense. Thanks for reading closely, Ken.

Snoop Dogg and Paul Tagliabue, Together at Last

The NFL Network had an interesting segment recently. "Snoop, do you have a question for the commissioner?" host Rich Eisen asked. Willie McGinest, who apparently played youth football with the rap star, also participated. (via BSB)

Rally against the T random search policy

OK, I've been cheerleading for the convention a bit against all of the doomsayers, but the plan to search T riders at random is absolutely ridiculous. Adam G has info on a rally at Park Street station all day Thursday.

Greens Against the Green

I find it rather ironic that the Green Party is so antagonistic toward money, and their roll call of the states at their convention this weekend was filled with negative commentaries:

New York, for instance, described itself as "home of Wall Street and unbridled corporate greed." And the official spokesman for Indiana said that his state stretched "from the shores of polluted Lake Michigan in the north to the clear-cut banks of the Ohio River in the south, with many other sins in between."

I also found myself puzzled by the Political Points column on Howard Stern's listeners and potential trouble for Bush:

But one bit of solace for Republicans is that Mr. Stern's listeners go to church frequently, which tends to correlate with voting Republican. The poll showed that Mr. Stern's listeners were slightly more likely than nonlisteners to call themselves born-again Christians and were three times more likely to attend church daily. The pollsters did not ask why they went to church after listening to Mr. Stern, so there is no way to calculate how many were performing an act of contrition.

So the people who like to listen to interviews with strippers about when they had their first lesbian experiences are also packing churches? That one stretches credulity--perhaps the Stern listeners were all lying to the pollster and having a little fun?

Tom Friedman is taking a three-month break, and he really needs one, judging from the growing inanity of his column, including the bizarre and unrealistic ideas he puts forth today. Maureen Dowd, meanwhile has a good response to the Cheney F-bomb:

"I felt better afterwards," he told Neil Cavuto during a no-bid interview with Fox News. Hey, if it feels good, Dick, do it.

Just to beat this into the ground, let's recall the president's words at an April fundraising lunch in North Carolina:

We stand for a culture of responsibility in America. We're changing the culture of this country from one that has said, if it feels good, do it, and if you got a problem, blame somebody else, to a culture in which each of us are responsible for the decisions we make in life.

They might want to work on that "blame somebody else" part too.

Saturday, June 26, 2004

Hit the Road, Jack

Before Jack Ryan disappears, I wanted to highlight one last bit from him. We all know about the sex club visits by now, but the best part is from Jeri Ryan in the court papers:

People were having sex everywhere. I cried, I was physically ill. Respondent became very upset with me, and said it was not a 'turn on' for me to cry.

Remember that one the next time your significant other gets upset with you about something--"That's not a turn-on, honey!" ought to settle things.

My Life: Third 100 Pages

The part about Clinton's involvement in the McGovern campaign and attending Yale Law School was probably the weakest section I've read so far. While it wasn't bad, it lacked the life of the other parts of the book. An interesting omission from the Yale part was that Clinton makes no mention of helping work to make Joe Lieberman the Connecticut Attorney General. He also spares surprisingly few words to discuss falling in love with Hillary. Critics will say that Clinton is still mad at Holy Joe for his sanctimonious Senate speech during the Lewinsky drama and that Bill and Hillary don't have an affectionate marriage (Clinton does have a strong rebuke to those who pass judgment on his marriage from the outside).

The book gets back on track in the next part when Clinton returns to Arkansas to teach law school and run unsuccessfully for Congress in 1974. During the campaign, he discusses making a courtesy call on Orval Faubus, whose wife asks him something like, "What do you think of the communist plot to take over the country?" Clinton recalls that he deadpanned, "I'm against it, aren't you?" As he travelled the district in '74, Clinton was also still trying to teach, and he mentions that he was embarrassed to lose a few student exams he was carrying around with him. One student was very upset about this, and she turned out to be Susan Webber Wright, who became a judge and took her revenge on Clinton in the Paula Jones case years later. It was also interesting to note that Clinton's popular Republican opponent (Clinton ran so young because others declined the race) had Nixon as an albatross that year. The resignation helped him, though the Ford pardon that followed hurt him and pumped some life back into Clinton's campaign, which fell just short and set him up to run again.

He writes of some funny encounters with the emerging Moral Majority in Arkansas during his time as Attorney General, though he also notes his affinity for attending Pentecostal services with some supporters. I'm currently at page 272 with Clinton describing how he managed to rub everyone the wrong way in his first term as governor, leading up to his failed effort to win reelection in 1980. You can envision Clinton shaking his head as he wrote this part, saying to himself "How could I have been so politically tone deaf?" The best bit is on the doubling of car tag fees Clinton reluctantly signed into law in a desire to spend more on roads. He notes that every year on their birthday, Arkansans went to a government office to pay the tags, and this time their birthday present was to learn the fee had doubled. Many didn't realize this and didn't bring enough money or a checkbook, so they had to drive back home to get it, often 20 or 30 miles. When they returned, they would have to angrily wait in line, with a big photo of the smiling young governor on the wall above them. Clinton calls the car tags bill his biggest political mistake prior to requesting an independent counsel in 1994.

The Perfect Communion Retort

Boston Magazine still has its June issue on the web site, but I read some of the July issue today, which features a lot on the convention, including an article by David Nyhan on Ted Kennedy. When Nyhan asks Kennedy what he thinks of some bishops wanting to deny Kerry communion, Kennedy points out that the Pope gave communion to the brutal Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet. I see the New York Post reported on this last week.

Bestiality at the Washington Times

According to Wonkette's quote of the Washington Times Insider, an article on the Cheney expletive says, "Mr. Cheney then responded with a barnyard epithet, urging Mr. Leahy to perform an anatomical sexual impossibility." What exactly does the Washington Times Insider do around the barnyard?

My Inner Child is 16

My inner child is sixteen years old today

My inner child is sixteen years old!

Life's not fair! It's never been fair, but while adults might just accept that, I know something's gotta change. And it's gonna change, just as soon as I become an adult and get some power of my own.

(Seems about right)

Bonds Hypocrisy

Track star Tim Montgomery, under fire in the BALCO steroids probe, reportedly said in his grand jury testimony that Barry Bonds had in fact received steroids from the company. Bonds has denied this and criticized Montgomery thusly:

"I ain't never met Tim Montgomery. I don't know Tim Montgomery. I've never seen the dude in my life," Bonds said before the Giants' game against the Los Angeles Dodgers. "I don't even know what the guy does... It bothers me when people I don't even know are saying stuff about me."

Maybe Barry now has some idea what it's like for a city to be labeled as racist by someone who has never visited. (This was discussed on WEEI and by Dave Scott.)

Friday, June 25, 2004

What it Looks Like to Have a Real Press Corps

From an Indymedia thread I located this video link to Bush on Irish TV. "Let me finish" complains the smirking president repeatedly as the reporter actually dares to challenge his views about the Iraq war making the world safer. No wonder the rest of the world dislikes Bush when they see stuff like this, rather than RNC promos, on television.

The Turbanator!

turbanator

This comes from a site that likes Bush, too, via Duckwing. After I promptly broke my vow of sleeper cell punditry by posting on the Clinton book, I needed a new logo anyway, not to mention another chance to mess up posting an image. It's also Friday.

Hayes/Stewart Video

Many search engine hits for this, so go to Overspun (via Digby) for the video link of Stephen Hayes showing his foolishness on The Daily Show. The post also links an excellent Daily Show segment on Dick Cheney.

Darn Autobiographies!

Via Atrios I found my way to World O' Crap, which printed the following exchange from an interview of Lanny Davis by Sean hannity about Bill Clinton's book:

HANNITY: He loves this. It's all about me; it's all about me. He loves this. This is great for him.

DAVIS: An autobiography is, by definition.

Dana Milbank also has a wonderfully dry article on the vice president's salty language, including this aside:

As it happens, the exchange occurred on the same day the Senate passed legislation described as the "Defense of Decency Act" by 99 to 1.

Shouldn't Tricky Dick have been happy yesterday after the big win at the Supreme Court?

UPDATE: Stupid me, the Cheney swearing didn't happen yesterday but actually a few days ago. Not that anyone cares, just wanted to prove I'm not always a moron.

Hardball in Ohio + Draft Wrap

I'm not linking the source for good reason, but here's an interesting tidbit I came across:

see where john kerry was on June 15-16 (Columbus, OH). see when Ashcroft announced the arrest of the Columbus, OH mall bomber (June 14). then see where dick cheney was on June 17 (Columbus, OH). blatant attempt to suck up media air in one of the most important markets in the nation? maybe. bookending Kerry's visit with two pieces of news that might just knock him off local media's radar? possibly. something the bush campaign has been doing consistently throughout this election through various means. without a doubt.

Also, if you watched the NBA Draft last night (yay Celtics!), go read the Simmons diary on it, which brought on another episode of stifling laughter from my cublicle.

My Life, Second 100 Pages

Haven't had much time to move forward, but two things stand out to me in the discussion of Clinton's time being a Rhodes Scholar and dealing with the Vietnam draft process:

1) He was called home from Oxford to see the draft board, and at the time he thought that meant no second year in England for him (as it turned out, he did get to go back). I know Vietnam is said to have been a war fought largely by the poor, but even the best educated young people in the country had to deal with the anxiety and disruption to their lives this caused. The Iraq war is nothing like this, with most Americans continuing along as before with only minor inconveniences, like going through airport security.

2) In discussing his options, Clinton quickly notes that there were no places available in the National Guard--I guess all the children of priviledge and connections had them locked up. I also think it's interesting that Clinton, who got Senator Fullbright to recommend him for the Rhodes, didn't try to use the Fullbright connection to get into the Guard.

As I understand events, Clinton had committed to go to Arkansas Law School and enroll in ROTC, but he couldn't do the ROTC training until the following summer, so he was allowed to return to Oxford for another year. While there he had a change of heart and asked to be let out of the ROTC commitment, even though he recognized he would have to do it if they made him. He was released from that, and thanks to a fortunate draft number (his birthday, August 19, was #311 among birthdays chosen) he wasn't called to serve. He claims to have initially thought he would have to do so, but as it turned out he didn't--who knows how much he really knew of his chances when he backed out of ROTC. I'm sure there are plenty of alternate theories about how Clinton managed to avoid going to Vietnam, though in his book, at least, he says he was genuinely torn about all of this--he writes that when he was back in Arkansas in summer 1969 he couldn't sleep. I'm sure it was an awful time to go through.

Here's an alternate take from people who aren't so fond of Clinton, and the account differs from that in Clinton's book. Also a Frontline show on it and a CNN summary of the issue might help clarify what went on. While the ROTC switch Clinton pulled seems rather convenient to me, the case against Clinton also has some holes. For instance, the officer who interviewed Clinton for ROTC says he was decieved and Clinton concealed his antiwar views, but he worked for Fullbright on the Foreign Relations Committee, so his war stance must have been obvious (Clinton also had grown long hair and a beard at the time). He must have know of Clinton's ties to Fullbright because he claims the senator's office pressured him to take Clinton into ROTC.

The questions at the center of the controversy remain relevant today: should we be forced to fight in wars we don't agree with? And what is acceptable or not acceptable in trying to avoid seeing combat duty? I'm also amazed by Clinton's foresight, as he wrote in his letter at the time that he wanted to put his name back into the draft to make him viable as a poltiician later in life. He must have seen the 1992 controversy coming years in advance.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Portugal-England Live

The bar I mentioned yesterday where the Euros hang out has the Red Sox game on TV this afternoon naturally, which is just as well since the official Euro 2004 site has sweet live coverage.

Draft Promises

The NBA Draft is tonight, so get ready for David Stern to be uncomfortably posing with high school kids he wishes weren't eligible for the league and mangling foreign guys' names. There's plentiful griping in the press now about how the draft is less interesting because we don't know the players and they have less immediate impact. Despite all of this, the Celtics, by all accounts, have promised Robert Swift, a seven-foot redheaded teen from California, that they will take him at #15 (here's info on him). This seems really bad to me, perhaps because it reminds me of the not-so-secret promise to Kedrick Brown in 2001, but the larger issue is there too: why would a team ever make such a promise?

A promise to someone at #1 makes perfect sense if there's a clear-cut best player and you want to build a good relationship from day one by taking out the uncertainty. A promise in the top five can make sense for similar reasons too since the possible scenarios before getting to the pick are not that numerous. But a promise at #15? Who knows what might happen in those first 14 picks? What if someone who the Celtics think has no chance of slipping that far actually does fall to them? Then they would have to risk pissing off Swift's agent, and suffering with whomever else the agent represents, just to do what's best for the team. And slides do happen--remember getting Paul Pierce at #10 in 1998? I'm just saying, the C's better be 100% certain Swift will be the best guy left on their board when #15 rolls around (that is, assuming he's still available). This suggests to me that they must consider Swift a top-five prospect in this draft in order to have that type of certainty, and that leads to another worrisome question: why is the Celtics' judgment so different from that of the other teams on this guy's talents? Maybe they've found a guy who's been underrated, sure, but based on Ainge's moves thus far with the team, I'm fearful that Swift may be pegged for outside the lottery for good reason.

Cheney Wins!

The Supremes won't order disclosure of the Energy Task Force participants. I guess they wouldn't want to embarrass the administration since they need to keep up their strong tradition of not affecting the outcome of the presidential elections (oh yes, I made the 2000 Bush v. Gore reference first this morning--substance comes later).

MORE: Someone said something about substance. Go see SCOTUS Blog for that. Slate also has a dialogue going on the end-of-term decisions.

Kerry's "Broadside" Against Reagan

Patrick Healy today writes that Kerry, in a rally yesterday, "challenged the fiscal record of the GOP's favorite optimist, Ronald Reagan -- Kerry's first broadside against the former president since his death June 5." The "broadside" line is in the link to the story from Drudge, but Healy only explains what Kerry said about Reagan in the second half of the article. You have to click to the second page on the Globe site, thanks to their annoying system, though I linked the single-page format since I care more about my readers than Drudge does, apparently--or maybe he doesn't want people to click through. Anyway, here's the remark:

Promising to "restore fiscal sanity" to the federal government, Kerry recalled his support for the Clinton administration's efforts to reduce the deficit, saying, "I was part of that effort in the 1990s that had the courage to do what Ronald Reagan, for all his rhetoric--and God rest his soul, we loved him for his strength in many things--but I don't recall vetoes of major appropriations bills. I recall a lot of talk about deficits; I don't recall balancing the budget. I recall deficits getting larger."

Now, you can debate the substance of this quote and how the history went, but to construe this as some sort of personal attack ("we loved him for his strength") is ludicrous. Steve Schmidt, of course, does just that with his stock quote about how he's so offended: "Kerry's attack on President Reagan is beyond the pale, and will be very troubling to most Americans." Right, because nothing troubles me more than discussions of 1980s and 1990s fiscal policy.

Blogging of the Reagan legacy, the Bush admin seems intent on reviving the Gipper's disparagement of poor people. This story is about the USDA's Eric Bost, who reportedly said food banks were being used more because people might be "taking the easy way out." Ohio members of Congress called for his resignation, so now an Agriculture spokeswoman asserts that some of the qoutes that were originally in the June 6 Columbus Dispatch were "not quite right." This is hard to square, though, with the June 9 Progress Report coverage of this issue. A 44 percent increase in the people going to Ohio's food banks isn't just an administrative mix-up, and the denial of the struggle many Americans face is something I genuinely do find troubling.

UPDATE: NRO's "Kerry Spot" is at least honest about this, writing, "Actually, the words themselves aren't that strong" in taking on Reagan. The Healy story focuses on the Kerry-Bush fight over who is optimistic and who is pessimistic, and Michael Kinsley wrote a good column the other day on why this is foolish.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Rummy on Torture

This is a good story that deserves a mention, and one reader of mine professes not to read Wonkette. To prove why he should read Wonkette, I'll link and quote this brilliant post:

From the latest revelations about the administration's policy on prison abuse, we note this challenge from famed standing-desk proponent Donald Rumsfeld to the proposal that prisoners should not be forced to stand for more than four hours at a time: "I stand for 8-10 hours a day. Why is standing limited to 4 hours?"

This sort of explains everything, no? At some point last winter, our new standard for what constitutes torture became the pain threshold of Donald Rumseld... and he's so tough! Snarling dogs mean nothing to the man. He's the kind of guy who volunteers to be on the bottom of the naked prisoner pile. And forced masturbation? He eats forced masturbation for breakfast.

Digby has a similar post:

Gosh, while he stands is he also being interrogated naked, shackled, subject to "mild, non-injurious physical contact such as grabbing, poking in the chest with the finger and light pushing" with a vicious German Shepard trying to take a bite out of his privates? I had no idea that the culture at the pentagon was so like a concentration camp.

This cavalier attitude is sickening, but we must make jokes to maintain our sanity too. More gallows humor.

June 23, 2003: The Way We Were

A year ago Howard Dean announced his candidacy for president up in Burlington. Remember that? I wouldn't have even noticed the anniversary had Dean not sent me another annoying email asking for money. The "Where Were You?" tag line seems a bit much, considering how I associate that phrasing with truly momentous events like 9/11 or the Kennedy assassination, not the kickoff of a failing presidential campaign.

Long-Lost Sports Blogging

As promised, this will be a sports-related blog post. I've been saving up for a while, so there are plenty of questions to address, including:

Does it get any better than the little old Irishman Tommy Smythe analyzing Euro 2004 soccer on ESPNEWS?
Does it get any better than Bill Simmons riffing on different NBA players for Page 2?
Who are all of these guys who will be drafted by NBA teams tomorrow night?
Why are the Red Sox even considering a trade for Carlos Beltran?
And why the hell is Phil Mickelson suddenly so popular?

First, on Euro 2004, I'm wondering why it is that I detest MLS but I get into these international soccer tournaments once every few years (World Cup and Euro championships are about it for me--I don't follow the club stuff). Maybe it's the fun transnational conspiracy-theorizing that draws me in. Whatever it is, I continue to think it's a travesty this stuff isn't on US TV outside of special pre-paid packages. I walked past a bar near work on Friday afternoon and a bunch of Euro-looking folks were huddled around the television in there. Maybe I'll drop in for some of the elimination rounds.

Moving on to the NBA, Bill Simmons has been in his element yesterday and today with his annual two-parter ranking who in the league has the highest trade value. Where else will you find comments such as this one on Shawn Marion: "Have you ever noticed the disturbing parellels between his career and the declining critical acclaim for the three Matrix movies?" I also loved the suggestion that players with broken noses wear not just clear masks but Hannibal Lecter-style "schnozzaroos." I hope Simmons disregards his promises to have retired the draft-night diaries he's done in the past and writes one again this year.

Not that there's any lack of NBA news these days. I can't understand why Troy Bell of BC fame and more recently the Memphis Grizzlies bench wasn't selected by Charlotte in last night's expansion draft (I refuse to call the team the "Bobcats" and I recommend other join me in this boycott of an idiotic, self-glorifying team name for Bob Johnson's franchise; full draft details here). I also have no idea why the Clippers gave up the #2 pick to Charlotte in exchange for the #4 and a second-rounder (Charlotte gets Peja Drobjnak to boot). That #2 will probably be Dwight Howard, the Atlanta high school phenom whose "commandments" I wrote about here (a fw search engine hits have come my way looking for that). He and his family are pretty stupid if they think the NBA will even contemplate adding a cross to the league logo. Do they realize the NBA is trying to grow its fan base in China? Or that the commissioner is Jewish?

For the record, while T-Mac to Houston and Shaq to Dallas (which people say is his most likely destination) both have potential problems--McGrady's high-scoring ways clash with Van Gundy's grinding defensive style, and Shaq's beefy frame might not jive with the Mavs' running game--I like both anyway because mixing things up will be plenty exciting. And by the way, who is Steve Francis to be stating publicly he doesn't want to play in Orlando? Vancouver I sort of understand, since the team was floundering and he was just entering the league, but now that we know Francis is a good though not great player, he has no such leverage. Why wouldn't someone want to go to the Magic Kingdom?

On baseball, I agree with Eric Wilbur, writing on Boston.com yesterday, that pursuing Beltran makes no sense for the Sox. Wilbur writes the "Boston Sports Blog" there, and I can't seem to find yesterday's entry that I'm quoting from memory, which is why I think this isn't really a "blog." It's more an informal column written on a web site with information displayed around it that changes daily. The real Boston Sports Blog is upset that the Globe has lifted the name. BSB actually looks like a weblog, with dated entries going back in time as you scroll down the page, comments, etc. Even so, I like Wilbur's writing and hopefully everyone can get along despite the cyber-conflict. Anyway, Beltran is not what the Red Sox, who already have three good outfielders need. They would be wasting multiple prospects to get a guy who is a free agent at season's end anyway and wouldn't do anything to improve the team. This would be a very dumb move.

All this sporting excitement of late is so far keeping the summer dead period at bay. Usually this time of year I find myself doing things like watching golf or napping while paying a bit of attention to afternoon baseball games, but the post-NBA/NHL championships lull isn't getting me down in 2004. My current preoccupation with election-year politics and upcoming events like the Olympics suggest that any noticeable lull may not even come at all this year, thankfully.

UPDATE: Bill Simmons now has his own "Sports Guy's World" page on ESPN.com (via aaronbond, who says this page makes visiting Page 2 unnecessary; I half agree).

"Two Different Kinds of Republicans"

While current Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney was in Washington calling for a federal gay marriage ban yesterday, former GOP Governor Bill Weld and ex-Acting Guv Jane Swift were among the attendees at a same-sex wedding of two Weld staffers. As if that weren't bizarre enough, we get some actual quality reporting out of the Boston Herald on this, including good details like Senate President Bob Travaglini paying off the panhandler outside the King's Chapel to make him take a hike (also click the link for a photo of Trav kissing Jane Swift on the cheek--hmm).

As I noted yesterday, Kerry was also in DC to vote on veterans benefits, but Republicans again proved they have no agenda other than clinging to power. As Patrick Healy writes, "Kerry waited seven hours on the Hill yesterday in hopes of voting on a proposal to increase health care spending for veterans by 30 percent, but Republicans used procedural tactics to delay any vote until at least after Kerry had left for a campaign trip to San Francisco last night." Good to see the GOP leadership has its priorities straight.

Saletan is also taking some serious criticism from 'round the blogosphere for the Kerryisms feature. As I've written here before and in comments elsewhere, I think the premise is OK since Kerry does get long-winded and convoluted in what he says sometimes, and that deserves mocking. The way Saletan does it, though, inevitably distorts Kerry's meaning by pulling out phrases and clauses and sticking them down as footnotes. I think a better approach would be simply to print Kerry's words verbatim, full of the "caveats and curlicues," and to let readers judge for themselves how absurd they think the quotes are. Being verbatim would make it just like the Bushisms feature--still prone to being taken out of context, but giving a clearer picture of what Kerry himself did say.

My Life: First 100 Pages

I was up late reading the first 100 pages of the Clinton memoirs, and the book is really excellent.

He paints an affecting portrait of his childhood in Arkansas, where his upbringing seems idyllic, despite his stepfather's intermittent violence. The stuff you've heard discussed about Clinton confessing that he's a "secret-keeper" happens at the end of one of the earliest chapters--I think it's in the 20's as pages go. Clinton explains how he attended Boys State and eventually turned that into his chance to meet President Kennedy, but he denies that was the start of his serious interest in politics, as others have claimed. I enjoyed his discussion of Georgetown too, and the book is getting more political now that I've read about his involvement in the 1966 Arkansas Governor's race and his work for Senator Fulbright and the Foreign Relations Committee.

Commenting on the defeat of his man, Holt, at the hands of segregationist "Justice" Jim Johnson, Clinton notes that Johnson used a formula that has been politically successful in the South through time, that of dividing people, Us vs. Them, and telling white folks they're OK, the implication being that Republicans do that today. Clinton notes that Johnson peddled lies about Whitewater and that some in the so-called liberal eastern establishment ran with them. At the Senate, Clinton says he had a chance to read plenty of documents marked secret and so he knew that the government was publicly telling lies about our involvement in Vietnam. He is wistful about the days when Republican moderates existed (in fact, he gives an excellent overview of the US Senate of the 1960s right around page 100 where I stopped). One caustic comment that stood out in this discussion was that Joe McCarthy would've fit right in with the crowd that was elected in 1994.

Based on what I'm through so far, I strongly recommend the book (maybe, as I've heard, the writing about his actual presidency is less vivid). I'll post more as I read on, perhaps even with page references if I'm posting from home and not just from memory.

MORE: Slate highlights the juicy bits.

MORE II: My sister, upon learning I was already reading the Clinton book, said the following to me last night: "You're such a dork!" I also believe she called me "obsessed." Sorry I forgot this crucial detail earlier.

Who Will Watch the Watchers?

Tonight's NewsHour had a segment with Terrence Smith of FactCheck.org in which they discussed several 527 advocacy ads. One claims Bush approved oil drilling off Florida's coast.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: I put programs in place that help Mother Nature.

AD VOICEOVER: Mr. President, your oil drilling off Florida's coast isn't one of them.

TERENCE SMITH: Accurate?

BROOKS JACKSON: Well, off Florida's coast? The truth is, the Bush administration allowed drilling 100 miles off Florida's coast. I think anybody watching this ad would probably get the wrong idea.

This reminded me of Jim Rutenberg's NYT analysis last month, in which he made the same 100-mile criticism. But the Daily Howler says this is wrong, citing a Tampa Tribune analysis of the ad by Garrett Therolf that says the following:

In the advertisement, the narrator tells viewers, "President Bush opened up Florida' coast to offshore oil drilling." The group is referring to a period early in the Bush administration when he supported drilling in a region known as Area 181, which is within 30 miles of the Florida Panhandle and 300 miles from Tampa.

Of course, that could be wrong, but I'm more inclined to believe the guy who is actually reporting from Florida has got this right. It's rather troubling when self-appointed fact checkers appear to be peddling inaccuracies on TV.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Mitt Romney Disses Hillary, Gay Parents

Shorter Mitt Romney: The children, the children! Check the dig at Hillary Clinton:

What should be the ideal for raising a child: not a village, not "parent A" and "parent B," but a mother and a father.

Though Mitt magnanimously offers that, "Same sex marriage doesn't hurt my marriage, or yours," there's plenty of offensiveness elsewhere in the statement, like when he says kids with divorced or even deceased parents are better off than kids with two gay parents:

Of course, even today, circumstances can take a parent from the home, but the child still has a mother and a father. If the parents are divorced, the child can visit each of them. If a mother or father is deceased, the child can learn about the qualities of the departed. His or her psychological development can still be influenced by the contrasting features of both genders.

At least the child will grow up knowing he/she wasn't related to any homos then, right? This point is extremely bizarre. If Romney is, as he says, "troubled by those on the other side of the issue who equate respect for traditional marriage with intolerance," then maybe he should stop saying such offensive things as the above quote.

I've been meaning to post on sports and may get to it tonight/tomorrow. You know you're a hopeless NBA fan when you're excited about the Charlotte Bobcats expansion draft.

Moore on Letterman

Eugene Volokh posts an inaccurate transcript of Michael Moore's appearance on Letterman from Friday night:

David Letterman: How do we know what's in your film [Fahrenheit 9/11] is true?

Michael Moore: Because I got most of my information from The New York Times.

Audience: Wild laughter.

Letterman: Strains to repress laughing

Moore: What's so funny?

There was laughter, though not "wild." Letterman chuckled. Moore, as I recall, never asked what was funny. And the crucial omission is that Moore said something like, "I got my information from sources like the New York Times, Wall Street Journal..." Somehow the WSJ mention didn't find its way into Volokh's account. I think this is the segment on Adam Curry's site, though I won't know until I get onto a better computer later. In any case, all of the source materials will be at Moore's web site come Friday for everyone's perusal.

ADDENDUM: Since I'm drawing some traffic via the Volokh technorati cosmos, I'll add a brief discussion of this matter. What Volokh seems to be implying is that people don't believe the New York Times. While that may be true, I think it stems more from the fabrications of Jayson Blair than any dissatisfaction with "liberal media," which I take it would be Volokh's preferred reasoning (judging from the usual bent of his blogging). In fact, though, the Times' faulty reporting, led by Judith Miller, helped promote Bush's drive to invade Iraq, even as the editorial page voiced opposition. The Wall Street Journal, by contrast, has a very bellicose editorial page paired with a more cautious news operation that has, among other things, reported that the June 30th handover of "sovereignty" is all but meaningless. So things are more complicated than the oversimplified message that I think is meant to be conveyed by the Volokh post.

I've been unable to view the clip from Curry, nor have I located a full transcript, but here's another quote from Moore on Letterman that more accurately reflects the tenor of his remarks on Friday:

"The media in this country did us such a disservice by not asking the hard questions before we went into this war, and by not putting the administration on the hot seat," Moore said on the Late Show with David Letterman. "That's their job. And instead they played cheerleader."

Moore is far from taking everything that appeared in the newspaper--even the so-called liberal NYT--at face value. Also, a documentary by its nature involves raw materials--documenting events, as the name implies--so most of the content and force of Fahrenheit 9/11, I suspect, will be right there on the screen for people to see. Facts and figures from newspapers cited by Moore's narration will probably have far less impact on viewers anyway than imagery, archival footage and interviews.

Sleeper Cell Punditry

In which I demonstrate my embarrassing lack of HTML skills by botching the placement of a simple image. Here goes...

sleepypundit

Pops explains SCP here.

...The image doesn't work on the computer I'm on (I get one of those red X's). Perhaps those with the good fortune to be connected using higher-quality machines can see it? This is why I usually stick to text.

Kerry and Romney in DC

I see John Kerry has returned to Washington for a vote on veterans funding, and on the same day that Mitt Romney is there saying the Constitution should discriminate against gays. I hope their paths cross so that Mitt can see an illustration of why his call for Kerry to resign is so foolish.

Steve Schmidt and Wonkette QOTDs

I can't decide on who gets my quote of the day thus far.

Bush campaign flack Steve Schmidt is often quoted saying insulting things in articles on John Kerry, but in a story today on Kerry's backing of stem-cell research he really outdoes himself: "only John Kerry would declare the country in scientific decline on a day when the country's first privately funded space trip is successfully completed." Right, because having rich people send a craft into space is so relevant in judging how well our national science policy is being made. For some reason this space story really bothers me and I feel compelled to change the TV station whenever it comes up. It reminds me of the rich guy who kept wasting his money trying to fly a hot-air balloon around the world (never mind the good uses you can make of that money through charities, guys, just have some fun).

The other QOTD is from Wonkette, who titles a post "You Say Ahmad Hikmat Shakir Azzawi, I Say Hikmat Shakir Ahmad -- Let's Invade Anyway." It might be even more funny if we hadn't started a war over things like this.

And since I don't know where else to mention this, I'll add that InstaPundit has linked a Progressive article on Kerry's Nantucket vacation:


Why was Kerry vacationing on Nantucket, of all places?

To go to this island retreat of the rich sent all the wrong messages to undecided voters, and it discourages his hard core.

Like his ski trip to Colorado after the primaries, the junket to Nantucket, where Kerry owns a home, reinforces the image of Kerry as a member of the upper class.

Reynolds adds, "Well, he is a member of the upper class, of course. But it's probably poor campaigning to stress the point." I wonder if Reynolds would like it better if Kerry tried to pose as a middle-class guy, loading up the car with his and Teresa's luggage and driving out to the Grand Canyon, staying at motels along the way? At least with this Progressive piece we've now found someone on the left who, as Jodi Wilgoren wrote yesterday, is uncomfortable with the Nantucket trip. But at least Kerry doesn't pretend to be something he isn't (like a certain current occupant of 1600 Penn. Ave.).

Reading My Life

I have purchased a copy of Clinton's memoirs at a 40% discount. Eventually I'll post some thoughts about it in this space, but unlike Rich Lowry, I plan on taking the time to read it first:

I am now holding in my hands a copy of Clinton's book. Just picking it up is a stupifying act. I have to finish a review for NR by noon tomorrow--wish me luck.

Keep telling remarks like that in mind as you read reviews that are hitting the press. Chances are the reviewer hasn't taken much time to digest the 957-page tome.

The Party of Family Values

I thought of not linking to this story about the divorce proceeding files of Illinois Senate candidate Jack Ryan being made public. I don't think information about people's private lives should necessarily come out in campaigns since I don't consider it relevant to governing. But in Ryan's case, if he's going to have a staffer videotape Barack Obama's every move, then he's forfeited his own right to privacy (I think the videotaping has now stopped, but it never should have started either).

So click on the first link if you want to read about Jack Ryan's kinky sex club visits and how he asked his wife to do naughty things with him while others watched--it will make for a nice rebuttal to those who say Democrats are bringing on the moral downfall of the country. I think Barack Obama can start checking the DC real estate listings about now.

UPDATE: The president yesterday was in Ohio promoting his "healthy marriage" initiative. Too bad Ryan is a rich financier, rather than a poor resident of a swing state, because "training to help couples develop interpersonal skills" sounds like exactly what he needs.

Monday, June 21, 2004

Note to Stephen Hayes

Stephen Hayes (Weekly Standard guy, author of "The Connection") said on The Daily Show a short while ago that he didn't think Iranian use of WMD had ever been proven. Jon Stewart claimed the Iranians had used them during the Iran-Iraq War, and, lo and behold, Wikipedia agrees with Jon Stewart:

The war was characterized by extreme brutality, including the use of chemical weapons, by both countries, and especially tabun, by Iraq.

Thus the question, why not invade Iran too if they're a state sponsor of terrorism that also used WMD in the same era as Iraq did? Stephen Hayes has no credibility if he states a falsity regarding such a central topic of his book.

MORE: James K. Campbell--Commander, U.S. Navy--cited in 1996 "the use of chemical weapons by both Iran and Iraq during their war in the 1980's."

Pickler on Bush

What if Nedra Pickler wrote in the same style about Bush?

Kerry is a rich man who promotes the Democratic ideal that government should do more to help the poor. He moves between both worlds, spending the past week traveling to downtrodden places like South-side Columbus, Ohio, and the affluent island playground of Nantucket.

That reminds me of something I read in The Note today, namely Bush's schedule:

Today, President Bush travels to Cincinnati for a 4:00 pm ET conversation on compassion and marriage in poor communities and a 6:10 pm ET fundraiser.

I have a feeling he wasn't sticking around in a "poor community" for the fundraiser. I guess the president moves between both worlds, traveling between downtrodden places and affluent playgrounds.

An Aptly Named Town

Noam Alaska noticed the dateline on a WSJ piece (sub. req.) about the Christian Coalition:

LOONEYVILLE, W.VA.--The Christian Coalition has fallen far from its glory days as a pro-Republican fighting force in the 1990s. But now Pastor J. Allen Fine has a new political weapon.

"Gay marriage is societal suicide," says Mr. Fine, a religious broadcaster who was recently installed as state director of the coalition's West Virginia chapter. "We were asked on our radio program, 'Is sodomy still a sin?' It brought in so many calls and the dish of the fax machine overflowed."

Looneyville is located a little northeast of Charleston, over by Stupidberg.

Pantsuit Protest

Via The Pryhills comes the following lovely letter from the Charlotte Observer:

Portrait in pantsuit? For shame, Hillary!

Leave it to Hillary Clinton to emphasize that she wore the pants in the White House during the Clinton presidency ("Bush praises Clinton at unveiling," June 15).

She has shown a complete lack of respect for the first lady position and those ladies before her. Pantsuits are fine and appropriate where applicable. However, I don't believe an official government portrait hanging at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. is the place to be seen in one by the world.

Floyd Prophet

Charlotte

Scroll down a tad on this page to see what offended Mr. Prophet so.

NY Post Irony Alert

Ralph Peters says we should shut down Al-Jazeera in "Killers with Cameras", a column with a typically restrained headline:

Press freedom is a treasure of our civilization, but it's also distinctly a product of our civilization--one that doesn't always export well. It works in our society for numerous reasons.

First, despite undeniable excesses, there's a fundamental respect for facts in our media. Second, our press is not rewarded for encouraging mass murder. Third, we have libel and hate-crime laws that work. Fourth, the great majority of journalists take pride in the standards of their profession--despite popular notions to the contrary.

Yes, a columnist at the NY Post is giving a lecture on journalistic ethics here, laughably proclaiming a dedication to facts (in the same piece he makes numerous assertions without any evidence backing them up). Our press may not exactly encourage mass murder, but cheerleading the president's push for an unnecessary war isn't so far from that.

One more item and then I'm done complaining about media for the day, but I can't let Jim Glassman's Friday TCS piece on inflation pass without comment. After telling us that, "Reagan whipped inflation," Glassman explains:

It was Paul Volcker, the talented and courageous Federal Reserve chairman, who raised interest rates and brought inflation below 4 percent by 1982, triggering a recession in the process. But it was Reagan who supported and encouraged Volcker and gave him what David Stockman, then the budget director, called "the political latitude to do what had to be done."

You may think from this description that Reagan appointed Volcker, but you would be wrong. Volcker was first appointed in August 1979 by Jimmy Carter, who went on to lose the 1980 election to Reagan, partly because of Volcker's anti-inflation policies that sent the country into recession. Then in 1987, how did Reagan show his gratitude to Volcker for helping to revive growth in the 1980s? By forcing his resignation from the Fed, leading to the beginning of the Greenspan era. How the White House brought this about is detailed in the introduction to Bob Woodward's book on Greenspan, Maestro. This was executive meddling in monetary policy, something that is a clear no-no in our system. Reagan shouldn't be given credit for a monetary policy success or failure regardless, and Glassman is recklessly politicizing the Fed in this article (if he wants to make the progressive critique that says monetary policy should be made in the Congress, that's fine, but I don't think Glassman will be going there any time soon).

Guns and Peanut Butter

"It's the phallic equivalent of a scalp--I mean that quite seriously."
--Stanley A. Renshon, psychoanalyst and political scientist, City University of New York, quoted in Elisabeth Bumiller's White House Letter on Bush and Saddam's gun.

I don't even know what to do with that one. Bumiller adds, "it is illegal for American soldiers to take guns off an enemy and keep them for themselves, which is almost certainly why the president declared that the pistol was United States government property rather than his own." Since the president knows the intricacies of the laws of war, of course.

Not to be outdone, Jodi Wilgoren does her darndest to show John Kerry isn't a man of the people in her report from the Nantucket weekend. Here's a typical paragraph:

Though some Democrats were concerned about the image of their wealthy candidate frolicking among the fabulously wealthy here on an island where the average home sells for $1.4 million, Mr. Kerry insisted not only on coming, but also on trying to kite-surf, a dangerous combination of waterskiing and parasailing with basic equipment costing about $2,500.

We never learn who "some Democrats" are exactly, since none are quoted by Wilgoren saying what she says they have said, but we do get lots of sneering word choices like "frolicking."

And can this petty review of Clinton's book finally put the "liberal New York Times" myth to rest?

Clinton-Moore '04

This should be quite a week with the Clinton book out tomorrow and Fahrenheit 9/11 hitting theaters Friday, not to mention the vitriol that will be spewed at both men.

My favorite item of the AM so far is from Al Kamen's In the Loop:

June 17, 2004. Vice President Cheney talking to CNBC's Gloria Borger.

Borger: "Well, let's go to Mohamed Atta for a minute, because you mentioned him as well. You have said in the past that it was, quote, 'pretty well confirmed.' "

Cheney: "No, I never said that."

Borger: "Okay."

Cheney: "Never said that."

Borger: "I think that is . . . "

Cheney: "Absolutely not. What I said was the Czech intelligence service reported after 9/11 that Atta had been in Prague on April 9th of 2001, where he allegedly met with an Iraqi intelligence official. We have never been able to confirm that nor have we been able to knock it down."

On Dec. 9, 2001. Cheney talking to NBC's Tim Russert.

Cheney: "Well, what we now have that's developed since you and I last talked, Tim, of course, was that report that -- it's been pretty well confirmed that he did go to Prague and he did meet with a senior official of the Iraqi intelligence service in Czechoslovakia last April, several months before the attack. Now, what the purpose of that was, what transpired between them, we simply don't know at this point, but that's clearly an avenue that we want to pursue."

Where I come from, that's what we like to call a lie. Perhaps Cheney is preoccupied with the Halliburton bribery investigation.

Sunday, June 20, 2004

Romney Lies About Kerry Votes

Yesterday's Globe spoiled my Saturday morning breakfast:

Renewing an attack his lieutenant governor launched earlier this week, Governor Mitt Romney yesterday called on US Senator John F. Kerry to resign immediately, saying Kerry's absence from the Senate as he campaigns for president "has cost Massachusetts tens of millions of dollars." ...

In arguing for Kerry's resignation, Romney cited a May 11 Senate vote on federal unemployment benefits, which he said cost Massachusetts $75 million. By a single vote, the Senate decided not to send additional federal dollars to states through next November. As a result, Romney said, Massachusetts will have to pick up the tab for four extra weeks of unemployment benefits, and some 70,000 state residents will receive less assistance.

If Kerry had been present, though, the extension of federal unemployment benefits still wouldn't have passed. The Republicans created an articifical 59-40 margin so that the thing would fail by a single vote and they could use it to campaign against Kerry. But a bunch of Republicans who opposed the extension voted yes in order to create that margin. They could have passed it if they wanted. I detailed this whole thing, with an article citation from The Hill last month, in a post last week that refutes the governor.

Sadly, some morons believe what Romney says. As Ben points out, by this same logic, George Bush should resign the presidency because he's been taking substantial time away from his official duties to campaign and to raise money. Here's an animated movie of Mitt that's some silly fun too (also via Ben).

Friday, June 18, 2004

Barry Bonds Must Want Us to Hate Him

Sean already posted on the surreal Boston Globe article in which Barry Bonds bandies about reckless charges of racism against the city of Boston and sports fans in general. Here are a few excerpts of what Bonds had to say:

"Boston is too racist for me," he said. "I couldn't play there."

It is a judgment, he acknowledges, not derived of firsthand experience -- he missed the 1999 All-Star Game, played in Boston, because of an injury -- but on word-of-mouth.

"Only what guys have said," he said, "but that's been going on ever since my dad [Bobby] was playing baseball. I can't play like that. That's not for me, brother."

When it was suggested the racial climate has changed in Boston, Bonds demurred.

"It ain't changing," he said. "It ain't changing nowhere."

They built a tunnel to honor Ted Williams in Boston. What did he imagine would be built for him?

"Nothing, man," he said. "I'm black. They don't build stuff for blacks." ...

To remind him, when he says that he will not be honored like [Ted] Williams was, that outside of SBC Park, there is a statue of his godfather, is only to invite a derisive counterpoint.

"Muhammad Ali doesn't, though, and he's the greatest boxer of all time," Bonds said.

(Ground has been broken in Louisville for a Muhammad Ali Center, scheduled to open in 2005.)

"But who's the guy in Philadelphia? Is that Sylvester Stallone? Sly Stallone? Rocky?"

There is a statue of "Rocky," the cinematic boxer played by Stallone, at the top of the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

"But Muhammad Ali don't? Ha."

He similarly dismisses the argument that the once-controversial Ali has morphed into one of the world's most beloved athletes.

"We can count those on our hand," Bonds said. "You guys [whites] can't count those on your hand.

"I live in the real world, brother. That's all. I do the best I can in the real world. I ain't mad at it, but it's still the real world." ...

Ted Williams famously is said to have expressed the desire that when people saw him walk down the street, he wanted them to say, "There goes Ted Williams, the greatest hitter who ever lived."

Did Bonds ever entertain a similar desire?

"All I want you to do when you write your story," he said in response, "is list all the white athletes that they say things about, and then list the black athletes that are talked about in a positive way."

Bobby Bonds played in the American League from 1975-1979 for the Yankees, Angels, White Sox, Rangers and Indians. That means Bonds is basing his impression of the city of Boston from what his father told him about the place from his infrequent visits as an opposing player for a few years ending a quarter of a century ago.

The preoccupation with who has a statue or not also seems odd, considering how Bonds says in the article, "I ain't never played baseball for fame. I just play to play." But I guess he would like a statue, or at least a statue for other famous black athletes. One that comes to mind is Michael Jordan, who has a statue outside the United Center in Chicago, but who does and doesn't have a statue seems an odd standard to use for the amount of public respect given to a sports figure.

Willie Mays, for instance, is widely and deeply respected from all the media I've seen reminisce about him over the years (I'm too young to have seen him play). In the article, Bonds claims to be outraged at Mays' not being included in MasterCard's "priceless moments" event at the 2002 World Series. Fans voted Cal Ripken breaking the consecutive games streak as the greatest moment in baseball history, and that probably won because it happened fairly recently and so was more at the forefront of the public mind, but it's worth noting that the second and third vote-getters were Hank Aaron and Jackie Robinson, black stars who broke the all-time home-run record and color barrier, respectively. A Mays moment--his famed over-the-shoulder catch from the '54 World Series--was among the 25 moments up for voting, but it didn't crack the top ten. "How can you not have one of the best baseball players to walk on the planet not there?" Bonds asks. The answer is that the event was honoring moments, not great players. I guess Bonds needed another way to claim that Mays was being disrespected, since Mays actually does have a statue. (If Barry had been at the '99 All-Star Game in Boston, he might have noticed Mays being honored as an all-time baseball great in an on-field ceremony--but I'm sure Bonds would've complained about Ted Williams being the focus that night.)

Now that I've dismantled Bonds' nonsense (kudos to Edes for the Ali bit), the question emerges: why does Barry Bonds say such inflammatory and unsupportable things? For this, I'll repeat what I wrote in a comment on Sean's site:

Bonds seems intent on proving his own victimhood. I think he intentionally tries to piss people off with remarks like these, and then when fans decide to dislike him for it, he can claim he's persecuted. The whole article is pretty unbelievable, with Bonds claiming black athletes never get the love from the fans that white athletes do. I wonder how he explains cases like Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods? He wants to pretend people don't like him because he's black, when the truth is people don't like him because he's just a bastard.

I'll add that I used to like Barry Bonds and thought the media were unfair to him. He's making it harder for even his few stubborn fans to keep rooting for him, though, with episodes like this as well as his recent idiotic remarks on Roger Clemens. Insisting you live in the "real world" when you're in the midst of a contract that pays $72 million over four years is also a bit much.

On an unrelated note, Bonds would probably also approvingly link to Steve Bailey in today's Globe, describing the strong-arm tactics used by Peter Pan against the upstart Chinatown shuttle. If not a sign of racism, this does at least show the lengths to which monopolists will try to crush those who encroach on their turf.

"The Connection"

Damn, I'm sick of this issue, and it's been exhaustively flame-warred on tons of sites, so I'll be quick. Real Clear Politics posts a quote from Lee Hamilton of the 9/11 Commish:

I must say I have trouble understanding the flack over this. The Vice President is saying, I think, that there were connections between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein's government. We don't disagree with that. What we have said is what the governor just said, we don't have any evidence of a cooperative, or a corroborative relationship between Saddam Hussein's government and these al Qaeda operatives with regard to the attacks on the United States. So it seems to me the sharp differences that the press has drawn, the media has drawn, are not that apparent to me.

But what's the point of a relationship if it's not "cooperative" or "collaborative"? It seems that would be the kind of thing that concerns us, whereas some contact that did not have anything to do with an Iraq/AQ alliance is irrelevant. Fred Kaplan has Cheney dead to rights on whether the administration linked Iraq to 9/11 too:

Last Sept. 14, on Meet the Press, Cheney said that a U.S. success in Iraq will mean "that we will have struck a major blow right at the heart of the base, if you will, the geographic base of the terrorists who have had us under assault now for many years, but most especially on 9/11."

We know for a fact that the 9/11 terrorists were based in Afghanistan, not Iraq (and that most of them were Saudis). Polls have shown that most Americans erroneously believe Saddam Hussein was involved in 9/11, and the White House hasn't exactly tried to change this perception--they have encouraged it with hazy rhetoric instead. If people didn't think Iraq was involved in 9/11, do we really believe the public would've supported the Iraqi invasion as it did?

You can pre-order Fahrenheit 9/11 tix at this site. Now back to Friday non-seriousness.

MORE: What Spencer Ackerman says here and here.

VandeHei Watch 6.18.04: Veepstakes Drama

As eRobin writes, the Veepstakes coverage is pretty ridiculous as the reporters try to make things seem extra-suspenseful. VandeHei is on the front page today with Lois Romano, passing on all sorts of anonymously sourced info that may or may not be accurate about Kerry's search for a running mate, and the following sentence is all you really need to know: "history shows the eventual vice presidential pick is often someone the campaign and media have not mentioned." I wish they had followed that with, "So there's really no point to this article you're reading whatsoever."

But instead of ending abruptly, they go on and on with nonsense that will probably make useful liner for your pet's cage next week. We learn from some unnamed "Democrats" thing like, "Kerry has privately expressed confidence that voters see him as sufficiently strong on national security." He also "wonders whether he needs a moderate or conservative Democrat on the ticket to improve his centrist credentials." It's interesting that VandeHei/Romano are not equating strength on security issues with being more conservative here, which I think is admirable, but it also goes against what a lot of people think. The emphasis on finding a moderate, they say, "may bode well for Edwards," which is kind of puzzling since Edwards tried running as an economic populist to Kerry's left during the primaries.

Mickey Kaus will also rejoice at the multiple suggestions of Kerry's vanity.

Kerry, they say, sometimes appears conflicted when talking about his desire to find a strong leader, or a peer, who could without a doubt run the nation in wartime and his concern of being upstaged or unfavorably compared with his running mate, stylistically or professionally.

So is Kerry's ego more important than getting the best person for the job? This is the implication, and I'm sure Mickey Kaus will go to town on it.

In conclusion, let me reiterate, no one knows anything, as Kerry himself told Ron Fournier:

John Kerry (news - web sites) sought to curb rampant speculation Thursday about his vice presidential search, taking issue with leaks from campaign aides "who don't know what they're talking about."

Betsy Newmark has a good post on this one too.

Office Space in Real Life

Wonkette reports that Friday is sports jersey day for MSNBC staff!

In keeping with the fun casual Fridays we've expanded on the Hawaiian shirt Friday concept and would like to offer some additional suggestions for the next 12 Fridays. You can certainly wear your Hawaiian shirts every Friday of the Summer but if you're looking from some alternatives please review the list below.

The list includes entries like "7/9 70's Disco Day - no hotpants please" and "7/16 Crazy Hat Day." Gawker was first to get a hold of the memo.

I've come across a few other odd things tonight, including Newt Gingrich's Amazon reviews (lots of spy novels and such, via Political Wire). From House Speaker to top 500 Amazon reviewer in less than a decade is quite a precipitous fall.

Then there's the Ryan Reynolds weblog, which currently leads with the following message: "This is not the Ryan Reynolds who is dating/engaged to Alanis Morisette." He says his traffic has spiked since the engagement was announced the other day, and he also denies being related to Glenn Reynolds.

Since all semblance of coherence is now lost, I'll close with my favorite letter to the editor of the week regarding the "under god" case:

To the Editor:

At least Michael A. Newdow's daughter has the choice to refuse to recite the Pledge of Allegiance, because it goes against her father's beliefs. The children of parents who believe in God and creation have no such choice when they are in biology class every day and are forced to learn about evolution.

MARK SHIREY
Farmington Hills, Mich.
June 15, 2004

Might there be a slight difference between teaching students science class and making them recite a pledge, Mr. Shirey? I feel like banging my head on the computer screen when I read stuff like this.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Newdow and His Child

Salon's article yesterday on Michael Newdow was bizarre:

The family law judges are "idiots," Newdow said last week, and the mother of his child is an "abuser" who tricked him into fatherhood in order to get his money.

"I won't get into the details," he said, but then he did, describing the day a decade ago when his ex-girlfriend got pregnant. "We were out camping, we were both naked, and I said: 'No, I don't want to. No, I don't want to,'" Newdow said. "The fact is, she knew that from the beginning, and I think she planned it, and I think that if I wasn't making 10 times as much money as she was, there's no way she ever would have had this kid."

A few minutes passed, and Newdow tried to rein himself in and make nice about the mother of his child. "She's a lovely person," he said. "She's very sweet, she's completely nonthreatening, she's lovely." But Newdow couldn't stop there; he kept going, and in the process ended up comparing her to a notorious California killer. "She's a nice person, she's friendly," he said. "But so is Cary Stayner."

Later on, we learn that, "In one family law proceeding, Newdow equated the intercourse that led to the conception of his daughter to 'date rape.'" That must make his daughter feel good, huh? His lack of custody and standing in the Supreme Court case is beginning to make sense.

Gallows Humor

It's rather difficult to joke about politics today, given how angry everyone seems and how screwed we are with this whole terrorism thing, so when I come across articles that manage to get me to laugh on these subjects, I pass them along. A few people have linked to P.J. O'Rourke in the Atlantic Monthly, so I finally checked it out. In the subheading, he asks, "When was the last time a conservative talk show changed a mind?"

This is an argument I have with my father-in-law, an avid fan of such programs. Although again, I don't actually argue, because I usually agree with my father-in-law. Also, he's a retired FBI agent, and at seventy-eight is still a licensed private investigator with a concealed-weapon permit. But I say to him, "What do you get out of these shows? You already agree with everything they say."

"They bring up some good points," he says.

O'Rourke does some research by reading a few of the best-selling books in the genre, noting, "Ann Coulter, on the cover of Treason, has the look of a soon-to-be-ex wife who has just finished shouting." I like his summary of Bill O'Reilly's "Who's Looking out for You?"

The answer to O'Reilly's title question could be condensed in the following manner: "Nobody, that's who. The fat cats aren't. The bigwigs aren't. The politicos aren't. Nobody's looking out for you except me, and I can't be everywhere. You've got to look out for yourself. How do you do that? You look out for your friends and family. That's how. And they look out for you. And that's the truth, Bud."

His conclusion is wonderful too:

I believe I know why this shouting is popular. Today's Americans are working harder than ever, trying to balance increasing personal, family, and career demands. We just don't have time to make ourselves obnoxious. We need professional help.

As InstaPundit says, read the whole thing. I'm sorry Elias Nugator couldn't get past O'Rourke's pithy jabs at liberals. Pops liked it, though.

Brian Doherty's Reason column is funny too--or maybe just to me. He recounts seeing a speech by David Frum and it's hard to convey the humor in a brief excerpt. Anyway, here's a bit from the end:

Where is this terrorist threat? Maybe there really isn't that severe of a terrorist threat? (Frum posits that since 9/11 our terrorist foes are afraid to try anything less earth shaking for fear of seeming to be backing down or something. Maybe, but if so they are complete idiots--a strategy of death by a thousand small cuts would likely be quite effective in breaking the Great Satan's will, and would be a lot easier to pull then a well-coordinated megacatastrophe.)

But it will apparently never again be acceptable to suggest that we aren't facing a constant and imminent danger from terror. Remember 9/11! And so long as there are 50 people with a grudge against the U.S. and some spending cash, we can never realistically say the war on terror is won, can we? No amount of Americans with Disabilities Acts in Syria and court decisions in favor of gay marriage in Saudi Arabia will really end the threat of terror anyway. The scenario that Frum and his ideological friends present is one that truly guarantees eternal war-crisis footing.

It is funny, I swear.

I've also noticed the last two days that the Boston Herald doesn't seem to read the Gadflyer--who would've guessed that one. The malpractice issue is one I need to educate myself on, actually; I know it's a hobby-horse of Marc Levitt, but he's out running the John Kerry campaign right now.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Fahrenheit 9/11 Coverage

Fox News has some surprisingly complimentary words for Michael Moore's new film:

As much as some might try to marginalize this film as a screed against President George Bush, "F9/11"--as we saw last night--is a tribute to patriotism, to the American sense of duty--and at the same time a indictment of stupidity and avarice.

Meanwhile Matt Lauer got tough with Moore in an interview, which makes me wonder: is the Today show still to be considered a liberal media pariah, with Katie Couric worthy of the wingers' scorn? (Ann Coulter once called Couric "the affable Eva Braun of morning TV".) Very confusing.

I also heard a TV report claiming the film title refers to the temperature being raised, or something like that, post-9/11. It's actually a reference to Ray Bradbury's book Fahrenheit 451, which the reporter missed, and Bradbury is not pleased. While I'm on this subject, read Neiwert's related post too. I expect more craziness as next Friday approaches.