Friday, December 31, 2004

"Stingy"

Hugh Hewitt | Friday, December 31, 2004
John Podhoretz writes on the unbelievable attempt by the Bush haters to score points off of the tsunami. When I saw the first CNN report arguing that Bush had alienated the Muslim world by not responding more quickly I was shocked, but only for a moment.
Say, that's right, there is a significant Muslim population in south and southeast Asia, isn't there?

Did I miss the press release from Osama Bin Laden offering disaster relief?

LATER: I mean, I could've missed it, there was a lot going on.

Monday, December 27, 2004

Now I know you're making it up

Okay, Australia does have a reputation for importing animals that destroy the local ecology. I know about the bunnies that now wash across the outback in massive seething tides. I know about the foxes that were imported to control the bunnies, but developed a taste for the slower-moving wallaby and left the bunnies alone.

I even know about the golden eagles that have forgotten how to hunt, preferring to lounge around the dingo fences and wait for the bunnies to pile up.

Faced with these disasters, you'd think the Australians would have learned their lesson, but no, there's also the cane toad, which they imported to control insect pests in the sugar cane crop, but which no local species will eat because they are actually poisonous.

Nor are these the only examples.

But, c'mon. Half a million feral camels? Yes.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Camels and Rubber Duckies


This is what happens when you follow random links. I was at the Accordion Guy's page (see previous), and there was this link on the side labeled Camels and Rubber Duckies. I ask you, would you have been able to resist?

Anyway, that took me to Tucows' developers' page, The Farm, and the above image (wouldn't that make great wallpaper?), which in turn links to an essay called, not too surprisingly by this point, Camels and Rubber Duckies. The surprise is that it's by Joel Spolsky, whose Fog Creek Software markets the excellent web site management program I use, CityDesk.

Joel may think this article is about pricing software, but actually it's about pricing just about anything.

"The internet has helped to polarize people."

Here's a look at the 2004 election in which the words "cowboy," "Vietnam" and "red/blue" are never spoken. It's quite refreshing, and fascinating. Joey deVilla, the "Accordion Guy," presents his notes from the Internet+Society 2004 Conference, held Dec 9-11, sponsored by the Berkman Center at Harvard Law School.

(The participants in this panel are: Chair: Prof. Heather Gerken, Harvard Law School; Chuck DeFeo, eCampaign manager, Bush-Cheney '04; Zack Exley, Director of Online Communication and Organization, Kerry-Edwards 2004; Prof. Sunshine Hillygus, Harvard University; Dan Gillmor, journalist, San Jose Mercury News and SiliconValley.com.)

Friday, December 17, 2004

Microsoft may start charging extra for software that works

Yes, that's Fark's headline for this story, and I wanted to say "Don't you think that's overreacting?", but the more I read, the more I agree.
CNN.com - Microsoft may charge extra for security software
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Microsoft Corp. disclosed plans Thursday to offer frustrated users of its Windows software new tools within 30 days to remove spyware programs secretly running on computers. But it might cost extra in coming months.

In a shift from past practice, the world's largest software manufacturer said it may charge consumers for future versions of the new protective technology, which Microsoft acquired by buying a small New York software firm.

...Microsoft's tool, expected to be available within 30 days, initially will be free but the company isn't ruling out charging for future versions. "We're going to be working through the issue of pricing and licensing," Nash said. "We'll come up with a plan and roll that out."
Linux developers, get ready. Your window of opportunity (so to speak) is imminent.

LATER: What do you mean, we don't actually own the software? We bought the company!

Friday, December 10, 2004

Holiday Self-Promotion

ARTC will be appearing at Memorial Hall at Stone Mountain Park to share a few of our favorite Christmas memories. Showtimes are 2pm and 4pm on Saturday and Sunday, December 11 and 12.

I might also observe that radio drama makes an economical and unique gift.

LATER: Just took advantage of Blogger timewarp to move this entry up. It looks like we're doing darned near a three hour Christmas marathon. And at that, we're going to have to leave out some scripts to make it fit. It'll be a fun show: Drop by.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Sunday morning protesters

Actually, that's not an insult, or a reference to Sunday (or Monday) morning quarterbacks. It's the literal truth. Photodude has something to say about the upcoming 51 Capital March, in which literally dozens of outraged voters will march on all fifty State Capitols, and the Federal Capitol, to protest the widespread fraud that created and perpetuated the absurd illusion that George Bush actually won the Presidential election.

Specifically, Reid observes that the organizers fit the stereotyle of Godless liberals, since they've scheduled their protest for noon on Sunday, December 12th. Either they wanted to keep the church-goers away (they would have been overwhelmingly Republican anyway, right?), or there simply are no church-goers among the organizing committee to have noticed this conflict.

I posted a comment there, but I'm so in love with the sound of my own voice that I'll post it again here:
I’m sure they were going for the synchronicity of twelves (the date is 12/12, the announced time is 12:00, and who’ll wager that the recorded beginning of the protest, or else a moment of silence, is set for twelve minutes after the hour?), just as local Veterans’ Day activities were scheduled for 11:11am on 11/11. They hope to make the event look more Significant by so doing. People love meaningless numerical convergence. (Are they correcting for different time zones?)

Yes, this particular group of Democrats is obviously not composed of church-goers. It is my perception, though, that politicians and activists at either end of the spectrum only mention God when they think He will deliver votes.

Who do they figure is going to be at the State Capitol on Sunday morning to witness them? If a placard falls in the middle of a rally and no one sees it, does it make a sound?
Maybe I'll set the VCR to catch the Sunday noon news to see if anyone does a live remote.

Friday, December 03, 2004

I know it's not spam 'cause it says so

After all, it says I signed up to receive this e-mail, and they wouldn't lie, would they?

It claims to be "From Microsoft and the Saprizo.com team!" and it tells me that I've won an X-Box. Of course, I never signed up for any X-Box giveaway, but the page hints that this particular prize was added later, and there are any number of sites that require an e-mail address, so I might have given it to someone who's giving away an X-Box. (This particular mail came to the address I give to people I don't want to have my address...)

Anyway, it almost looked credible. The e-mail mentioned a "pass code number" I'll need to claim the prize. The destination page wants my address. Well, that makes sense: How's it going to mail me anything without my address?

I'm going to have to pay shipping, it says, just to prove I'm an adult and eligible to win contests. On the form, the payment method says "debit card" (interesting default) but it's in a drop down box so I should be able to choose the disputable credit card... And when you click the drop-down arrow there's no other option. Interesting. The form goes on to ask for my debit card number, expiration date and PIN red alert red alert red alert...

Well, I'm glad it wasn't spam.

The page is gone now. I wonder whose "team" this will be from the next time I see it?

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

The good news is, dialups are relatively safe

PC Authority | Unprotected PCs fall to hacker bots in four minutes
The lifespan of a poorly protected PC connected to the internet is a mere four minutes, research released this week claims. After that, it's owned by a hacker.

In the two week test, marketing communications firm AvanteGarde deployed half a dozen systems in "honeypot" style, using default security settings. It then analysed the machines' performance by tallying the attacks, counting the number of compromises, and timing how long it took an attack to successfully hijack a computer once it was connected to the internet.

The six machines were equipped with Microsoft Windows Small Business Server 2003, Microsoft Windows XP Service Pack 1 (SP1), Microsoft Windows XP SP1 with the free ZoneAlarm personal firewall, Microsoft Windows XP SP2, Macintosh OS X 10.3.5, and Linspire's distribution of Linux.
Surprisingly, most of the machines resisted attacks for the two weeks of the trial, the XP machines because of the firewalls (yes, even the one that comes with XP works if it's turned on), Linux because it's, well, Linux, and the Mac because, although numerous bots tried, and many of them could have succeeded, all of them were Windows-targeted. One good Mac hacker could destroy the illusion that Macs are immune to such things--but who wants to put that much time into crippling 2% of the market?

Monday, November 29, 2004

Any publicity is good publicity

...for the Nude Calendar Watch, not that it normally needs any. But since a billing snafu temporarily took the site down, I thought I'd celebrate that it is back up with this story about the only group of people who protest when another "nude" charity calendar comes out.
Daily Record | Get 'em On!
NATURISTS are demanding people who appear in nude charity calendars put their clothes back on. Organisations representing 25,000 naturists say sports teams, students and Women's Institute groups who bare all are giving naturism 'a bad name'.

They say the comical depictions of nudity - often showing intimate parts hidden behind objects such as cider presses and firemen's hoses - give the impression the naked body is something to be ashamed of.

Barry Pickett, director of the Association of British Naturist Clubs, branded the fixation with naked calendars as 'absolutely pathetic'.

He added: 'I'd like to see these calendars stopped. Enough is enough. It's gimmicky and it gives naturism a bad name.

'They always show people covering up behind cricket stumps or whatever, as if they are ashamed of their nudity.'

More than 100 naked calendars are published every year.
Really? I've only got 40 listed for 2005. I need to do some Googlin'.

Friday, November 26, 2004

Filler for the holidays

AP Wire (Myrtle Beach Online) | Study: TV Shows Gravitate to the Coasts
NEW YORK - As far as TV is concerned, much of the country outside of Los Angeles and New York City is flyover territory.

Those two cities account for just under half of the fictional settings for prime-time television shows going back to 1948, according to a new study by a media agency. California and New York state are settings nearly 60 percent of the time - even though those states make up less than 19 percent of the nation's population.

..."I knew a lot of shows seem to be in New York and L.A., but I didn't expect it to be so concentrated," said Rob Frydlewicz of Carat Insight, a company that studies TV trends for advertisers and conducted the research.

..."As much as many people don't like to be in New York and Los Angeles, they're fascinated by the people who live in these two cities," Frydlewicz said.
Now, I realize that many of the stories we see over Thanksgiving only exist to fill space between advertisements in the weekend newspapers. For that reason, I don't want to read too much into this. But it may say something about just how coast-centric the TV networks are no matter how you interpret this:
  1. they needed a study to tell them most shows are set in New York or L.A.
  2. they think that, after all this time, it's news to us that this is true
  3. they think that those of us in Flyover Country are no less than fascinated by Big City Life.
I guess I'll go back to Green Acres now.

Monday, November 22, 2004

I wish I were surprised...

...but no, it really isn't surprising at all that most of our Congresspeople didn't read, cover to cover, a 1,000 page bill rushed through in the closing days of a lame-duck Congress. Nor is it unusual. The vast majority of bills are read only by assistants and interns: Our Elected Officials get summaries prepared by their staffs. (Staves?) At this point, maybe the interns aren't reading them either.

Nor is it unusual, sadly, that "a provision allowing the chairmen of the House and Senate appropriations committees, or their agents, to examine the tax returns of any American" found its way into an "omnibus spending" bill. At least it's about appropriations: Most tack-on provisions have much less to do with the subject of the core bill. But this is such a monumentally bad idea that you have to wonder if it wasn't put there with the intent of derailing the omnibus bill.

The root problem here is that they're trying to do too much. If they were to restrict themselves to their Constitutionally-defined responsibilities, they could've been home for the holidays by now, and we'd all be better off.

And the finger-pointing begins. Sigh. Did you know that both of those committee chairmen who'll get to see your tax returns happen to be Republicans? (Well, they are the majority party, it's not unusual that they have a few plum committee chairmanships.) Look at the CNN quotes, beginning and ending with a defensive Frist ("Accountability will be carried out"? Doesn't sound too forceful, does it?) with a cream-filling of indignant Democrats (and McCain, an honorary Democrat) trying to sound resolute, trying not to admit they didn't read the bill either. And since it so obviously is a naked Republican power grab, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) plans to nakedly grab right back (although I'm not proud of that mental picture).
[Democratic Sen. Charles] Schumer said Pelosi told him she planned to hold up consideration of the bill in the House "until we find out who put this provision in."
Boy, if some Democrat staffer stuck it in there knowing it would reflect poorly on the Senate and House majority leaders and appropriations committee chairmen (Republicans all), well, that's just gonna suck, innit? Of course, I'm not saying a Republican might not have done it, just that it's a little premature to assume so.

Anyway, better hurry, Ms P: The interim resolution that postponed a government shutdown expires on December 3.

Which leads me to the part that really grabbed my eye:

A military plane flew that resolution to Chile, where Bush was attending the APEC summit, so the president could sign it to avoid any disruption of government.
How have we reached the point where assigning a military plane to fly a few pieces of paper to Chile (and, presumably, back) doesn't sound outrageous?

LATER: So, it was a Republican. But he didn't mean it. Right. But if the wording in the bill isn't the wording he wrote, then who writes these things? Even the best possible interpretation doesn't make me feel any better.

Friday, November 19, 2004

It Isn't Censorship, chapter XXIV

Editor and Publisher | WashingtonPost.com Drops Ted Rall's Cartoons
WashingtonPost.com is no longer running the cartoons of hard-hitting liberal Ted Rall. Rall said he thinks the site dropped his work because of a Nov. 4 cartoon he did showing a drooling, mentally handicapped student taking over a classroom. "The idea was to draw an analogy to the electorate -- in essence, the idiots are now running the country," he told E&P.
Interesting how Rall gets the first and last word, as well as most of the words in between, including dropping the "C" word.
The Universal Press Syndicate creator said "I don't think censorship is ever the answer," mentioning that he publicly opposed campaigns to fire or boycott conservatives Rush Limbaugh and Dr. Laura Schlessinger for that reason.

Rall -- who said WashingtonPost.com kept running him after his controversial cartoons about Pat Tillman (earlier this year) and "terror widows" -- hopes the site will reconsider "depriving readers of one of the most stridently liberal voices in the media at a time when liberal values are under ferocious attack."
*Heh* "Liberal values." I don't think I've ever heard that phrase before. Jeez, lose one election and suddenly you're "under attack". Chill. Drink less latte.

Anyway, I feel obligated to point out that what has happened here is that a newspaper editor has made the decision not to purchase a product from its author. It requires an awfully, er, liberal definition of "censorship" to take the word to mean that authors can force publishers to buy all of their work having once successfully sold them any of it.

"But you have to listen to me!" Well, actually, no, I don't. Your freedom of speech is not curtailed at all by the fact that I'm ignoring you. By all means, speak on.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

This doesn't help

NRO | Red-State TV
One of the election lessons for Democrats is that while the Left doesn't understand the Right, the Right can't help but understand the Left, because the Left is in charge of pop culture. Urban blue staters can go their entire lives happily innocent of the world of church socials and duck hunting and Boy Scout meetings, but small-town red staters are exposed to big-city blue-state values every time they turn on the TV.
I wish the rest of the article was as good as the first paragraph. Unfortunately, it's just as guilty of stereotyping "red-state values" as any "progressive" I've ever heard. I've never seen three of the four programs named (although my son has developed a taste for "Blue-Collar TV", but then he also watches "Steve Harvey's Big Show" and "Fear Factor", what can I tell you).

Why, whatever could he mean?

MSNBC/Newsweek | Can Mr. Bill Clean Up Your IN Box?
As much as three fourths of all mail sent on the Internet is spam—unwanted, often disgusting or fraudulent brickbats tossed in your in box. We waste hours deleting this stuff—or, if we have software to do the work for us, we worry about urgent missives mistakenly tossed into the garbage bin. But now comes a voice assuring us that not only spam but other infuriating digital maladies will be dramatically reduced. Who's saying that Viagra come-ons and Nigerian bank scammers will be rarer than white tigers? Bill Gates.

... Gates's upbeat outlook on security seems to reflect that of another leader who talks of continuing progress as the news contradicts him.
Oh? Who would that be?

(The Gods of Irony require me to point out that the text of this article was obscured by in-line ads when I first opened it in, of all things, pop-up-resistant Mozilla Firefox. And that the site is co-owned by Microsoft, who will...protect us from spam?)

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

More Self-Promotion

The Atlanta Radio Theatre Company will be appearing at Onstage Atlanta (whose theater, unexpectedly, is at Suburban Plaza in Decatur) Friday night at 10:30pm.

This is our final night at this venue, anchored by Thomas E. Fuller's "The Last Dragon to Avondale", which is, coincidentally, the station where one would disembark to get there by MARTA. If you dare. (Bus route #125.)

Friday, November 12, 2004

Forget everything else, explain this

Yahoo (E! Online) | Moore Fires Up "Fahrenheit" Sequel
"Fifty-one percent of the American people lacked information [on election day] and we want to educate and enlighten them," the lefty writer-director told Variety. "They weren't told the truth. We're communicators and it's up to us to start doing it now."
How, how, in the name of Saint Susan Sarandon, how can anyone believe that the reason the Democrats lost is that they didn't get their message out?

Monday, November 08, 2004

Divine left

I've been examining commentary sites from open-and-proud Kerry supporters.

I know, I know, some of my regular readers (well, actually, I don't have regular readers, all of my readers are superlative, but you know what I mean) may be skeptical. Some will doubt that I ever bother to expose myself to actual liberal thought, others will marvel that I would want to. (Some call the phrase redundant, others call it an oxymoron.)

(By the way, I mean actual thoughtful people like Andrew Sullivan and Joshua Micah Marshall and Patrick Nielsen-Hayden and John Perry Barlow, not the moonbat brigade that lazy conservatives like to point at.)

If you don't believe me so far, then you certainly won't buy my conclusions, so you may as well go read something else.


Still here? Thanks. I'm flattered.

Here's why Democrats are so apoplectic. It's not just because they lost an election.

Democrats enjoyed a largely undisturbed half-century of being the majority party in Washington. Most of the current crop of elected officials, and most of the electorate as well, cannot remember a time when that wasn't true.

Now the Senate, the House, and the White House are all dominated by the Republican party. The last time this happened was the 83rd Congress of 1953-55, under President Dwight Eisenhower. Before that you have to go back to the 62nd Congress of 1931-33 and President Herbert Hoover.

Republicans know how to cope with being the minority party. Democrats don't. They've never had to.

Democrats have been conditioned to think that liberal control of government is simply the natural order of things. Those who believe in such things might even say it is their Divine Right. The influence of Republicans, they think, is a transitory distraction they can afford to humor because it won't last long enough to make any real difference.

Except that this time it may.

This year's election wasn't a landslide by anyone's definition. (Have you seen Boing Boing's purple map?) But it was clearly not an aberration, either. And this conservative majority is lasting longer than the last two. If the President fulfills his promise to reform the IRS, Republicans will be national heroes. These "sad days" may last, oh, fifty years or more. What's a liberal to do?
Nicholas D. Kristof: "So Democrats need to give a more prominent voice to Middle American, wheat-hugging, gun-shooting, Spanish-speaking, beer-guzzling, Bible-toting centrists."

Mark Steyn: "H. L. Mencken said that no one ever lost money underestimating the intelligence of the American people. Well, George Soros, Barbra Streisand and a lot of their friends just did."

Mark Morford: "You want a place, you say, that doesn't right this minute seem to be working heroically to make homophobia and born-again fundamentalism and pre-emptive isolationist warmongering and environmental ignorance a national religion. A place where SUVs aren't considered minor deities and where gay people aren't loathed for wanting to slice a wedding cake and where brazen heavily narcotized denial in the face of a veritable mountain of presidential lies isn't the national pastime."

Jeff Jarvis: "You'll never win an election if you make fun of people who go to church."
Once you get over your apoplexy, you can also get over your condescending preconception of who the typical Republican voter is. America needs a serious opposition party, not a caricature of one. If we wanted a joke, we would have voted for Ralph Nader.


PS:
John Perry Barlow: "I am compelled to admit that I am genuinely out of touch with half my country. I feel like I'm suffering the death of a loved one. I'm not sure which of the stages of grief I've reached at this point, but I'm pretty well past denial. I'm mourning a number of losses, one of which is the belief that 'my side' is actually a clear majority that would reveal itself if we ever shuffled off our disdain for politics and voted in any force."

M Wisdom (in Barlow's reader comments, no direct link): "To non-Americans all around the world: ...If you visit the states (after being strip searched and DNA-tested), don't assume that everyone here in this country is a self-absorbed, prejudiced, fat, lazy, NASCAR fan with the I.Q. of a toaster. However, I do admit, the odds may be 51:49 you might run into someone like that. To the Conservatives, Republicans and Bush Supporters: Congratulations. You won. We lost. It's a shame the tables weren't turned, because we feel pretty confident that we're much better losers than you guys have ever been..."
Look, I'm not claiming that the left has a monopoly on self-delusion, I'm just saying this is beyond parody. The American left is facing emotional collapse in the aftermath of two elections that didn't go their way. If the right were such poor losers, there would no longer be an American right: Every Republican in the country would have slit his wrists when FDR was elected to a third term.

And let's not even discuss this. I mean, refighting the Vietnam War worked so well for John Kerry, by all means, let's reopen the Civil War too. What about 1812? What did Madison know and when did he know it?

Friday, November 05, 2004

At least they're not being subtle

Michael J. Totten has an enlightening roundup of liberal blog commentary. For every Andrew Sullivan...
George W. Bush is our president. He deserves a fresh start, a chance to prove himself again, and the constructive criticism of those of us who decided to back his opponent.
...there are several Tboggs:
I look at the big map and all of the red in flyover country and I feel like I've been locked in a room with the slow learners.
Fortunately, they're dealing with people who know how to be gracious in victory, and who don't threaten riots if they lose.

No, that was unworthy. Goodness knows there are plenty of people on both sides who aren't too tightly wrapped. Or who are too tightly wrapped. Choose whatever metaphor you like.

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.usYou know, I hate this. I promised myself I wasn't going to gloat, I wasn't going to snipe. And it's an easy promise to keep. I'm really not interested in stoking the furnace. It's not productive. I would have thought that would be obvious to everyone by now.

I don't have the heart to, not after hearing the heartbreak of Rep. Nancy Pilosi (D-San Francisco). "We have lost just about everything that we can lose," she said.

Everything? That seems a bit extreme. After all, Madam Congressperson, you haven't lost your job. If anything, you've gained a little influence. AFP describes you as "the top Democrat" in Congress now.

Even Senator Kerry hasn't lost his job: He, and Senator Edwards, get to go back to work with the new Congress as if nothing happened. (Here in Georgia, we have a pesky law that requires candidates for elective office to resign any office they may currently hold in order to run for another.)

(Speaking of which, although it isn't quite the same situation, I wonder who told Denise Majette that Johnny Isakson would be easier to beat than Cynthia McKinney?)

You haven't lost your party, although you're in the process of throwing it away. Some of your colleagues seem to have it in mind that there might be something you can do to better connect with all those red-state people. Usually, when they go "soul-searching", they reach the conclusion (or so I must assume from their subsequent actions) that where they erred was that they weren't strident enough, weren't forceful enough, weren't shrill enough in their insistence that Republicans Are Just Plain Evil. The self-proclaimed party of inclusion and tolerance is conspicuously intolerant of points of view to the right of itself.

Although this time may be different. They seem to be twigging to the fact that Michael Moore really doesn't play well in flyover country.

It might also be instructive to look at USA Today's county-by-county map of California. That "solidly blue" state is awfully red when you get away from the coastline. And even states as red as Georgia have some patches of blue. (Believe me, I know. I live in one.)

You haven't lost your voice. Campaign rhetoric to the contrary, John Ashcroft has yet to drag anybody into the Republican Gulags for the crime of being liberal. Even Michael Moore, a prime candidate for political silencing if ever there was one, is free to roam the streets, speak, and make films as he will--as he should be. (Perhaps he should make a movie about Salman Rushdie.)

Your life, your fortune, your sacred honor? All seem to be intact. (Cf. Theo van Gogh.)

If the Democratic Party needs a ray of hope, look at San Diego. Three weeks ago, Donna Frye (who currently sits on the city council) said "what the hell" and started campaigning as a write-in candidate for Mayor against two Republicans, one the incumbent. The counting isn't over yet, but if most of the write-in ballots are in fact for her (as they appear to be), she's actually going to win. (UPDATE: Still too close to call.)

Ms Pelosi, what does she know that you don't?

When I hear either party spoken of as "the enemy", and the suggestion publicly voiced (with apparent sincerity) that people should be rounded up and shot just for the way they voted, I know somebody has lost all perspective. I'm reasonably sure it isn't me.

MORE: See also PhotoDude.

Thursday, November 04, 2004


The above image (hosted at ImageShack) was created by Joe at American Leftist. (He doesn't give his last name.) If it isn't obvious, the President's face is composed of a mosaic of portraits of American servicemen and women who've died in Iraq. Here's what he has to say about it:
'War President' is meant to be a satirical commentary, informed by the whole project of using the dead as political props.
(It may be worth pointing out that in Joe's list, he gives examples in which faces [nor names] are not used, unlike his own work. In fact, he counts the administration's ban on images from their funerals as a Political Use. I confess I don't follow his logic there. And he doesn't mention the "shoe exhibit" at the Democratic convention, although there's a perfectly good reason for that: This image was created in April, well before the convention. If Joe has an opinion of the exhibit, he hasn't recorded it.)
...An image is like an empty room and any message that one reads in that room necessarily came in the baggage one carried when one walked in the door. If I made a mosaic of George Washington composed of images of the American dead from the revolution, would viewers likely take that image as an indictment of Washington? I submit that they would not. It would be viewed as a monument to the dead and a celebration of a great leader, a somewhat maudlin monument maybe but surely not offensive.
I agree. (Although surely it does matter that these young people have living wives, husbands, parents, and children? Families who weren't asked whether they approved of the use to which their love one's likeness was put?)

The trouble is, once you create an image and turn it loose in the world, whatever your intent, it's no longer yours to control. Ask the British Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, who have quite deliberately made no attempt to control the use of perhaps the most famous symbol of its time.

And sometimes events overtake art, which leads it to take on a significance its creator could not have foreseen.

There are a few additional points to be made about this particular portrait. One is that, by implication, it overstates the number of dead in Iraq. Joe has made no secret of the fact that he used some portraits as many as three times.

And I probably wouldn't be talking about it at all if Michael Moore hadn't chosen to remove every link on his site in favor of presenting this image, presumably intended as a statement of mourning for the lost Kerry campaign. (I can only guess: Mike gives no explanation. Nor does he credit the artist. Shame, shame, Mike.)

Never mind. Take your time, Mike. I know this must be a bad time for you. (Mike! Come down off that ledge!)

More from Michelle Malkin, who isn't nearly as nice as I am.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Meanwhile, in the rest of the world

The Beat | Lessons Learned
Things The Beat learned on the road:
• You cannot buy hummus and pita bread in Flagstaff, AZ.
Why would you want to?

"Don't Panic" in big friendly letters

The 2000 election made Katherine Harris a household word. Ken Blackwell, Ohio Secretary of State, appears to expect the same in 2004. The closeness of the election in Ohio, plus an ever-rising estimate of the number of provisional ballots yet to be counted (funny how it seems to stay a few thousand ahead of the margin), plus Ohio law's requirement that those ballots be counted no earlier than eleven days after the election, all mean that we're going to be seeing a lot of Mr Blackwell over the next two weeks.

But don't misunderstand me. CNN suggests that Blackwell is enjoying the spotlight just a little too much, and maybe he is, but there's another aspect to that. He's ready for it. His job is to run a fair election: It isn't over yet. But it isn't chaos: it's a situation for which rules, standards, and procedures exist, and I'm certain they'll work if they're allowed to. Mr President, don't declare victory; just go back to business as usual. Senator, don't threaten to challenge the results until after they're actually announced.

And, ladies and gentlemen of the press, I realize that your job is to create drama and anxiety where none exists; Nonetheless, please try to resist the temptation.

I find Blackwell's advice--"Take a deep breath and relax"--to be reasonable and sound.

I'm going back to sleep. Wake me on the 12th. Better yet, the 15th.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

A dialogue from the future (perhaps)

Althouse | Remember the President who won two wars?
Remember the President who won two wars, who overthrew two of the most repressive dictatorships in the world and then got run out of office for being a miserable failure?

Monday, November 01, 2004

Site update

Fifteen no, make it twenty-two new Nude Calendars posted today, and not a one sent a complimentary copy. Darn it. Er *ahem*, I mean...

For all that, the total number of calendars in release is down this year from last. Perhaps it doesn't seem like such a new idea now that Calendar Girls is on DVD. It still seems to be novel enough that it works almost every time it's tried.

Sunday, October 31, 2004

A courageous reporter

He's not quite Ernie Pyle, but I still have to respect Richard Rushfield, who writes for Slate about his adventures posing as a Bush supporter in Kerryland and a normal person--I mean, a Kerry voter--in "Red America", which for his purposes is Newport Beach, CA. (I guess a drive to the nearest solidly-Republican state, Utah, was out of the question. Besides, he wouldn't have known where Starbucks was out there.)

Insight ensues:
Driving home, I rip off my Bush-Cheney shirt so I can walk the streets of my neighborhood unjeered at and without terrifying little children. Reflecting on the sting of being called "asshole" during my travels through Blue America, I wonder: If I were truly a Bush supporter, how long would I be able to endure a life filled with epithets before I gave up on the shirt? Changing into a nonpartisan brown Gap polo, I breathe a sigh of relief that I will never have to find out.
I guess this passes for insight. (Did it have to be a brown shirt?)

Speaking of NRO

Jay Nordlinger, NR's managing editor, is puzzled by Kerry buttons:
Surely they can assume that others will assume they're voting for Kerry — who's not, around here? So why do they wear the buttons? Are they trying to persuade those who look at their garments? But they're persuaded already.
In a later column, one of his readers explains it:
The Democratic party is the home of the drama queens of politics. The button-wearers — despite being surrounded by wearers of the same buttons — are showing their 'courage,' defying the henchmen of Ashcroft. It's almost sweet, in a pathetic way.
And another confirms it, in his way:
I used to wear a "Vietnamese-American Against Kerry" button until someone on St. Mark's stopped me and delivered a monologue on the Bush police state. When I brought up the real police state that my family lived in (including the re-education camps), he brushed that off and blathered on about Bush and the sorry state of the U.S. I decided to stop wearing the button because I couldn't take the blind idiocy.
Nor can I.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

It feels like a landslide

No, there's nothing specific I can point at, nor even any combination of things that would prove such a thing. It's just a feeling I get based on growing Democratic desperation. There's something about the continued and repeated insistence that Kerry is even and climbing in the polls. They've been saying that for weeks now.

Even and climbing?

I mean, surely they can't both be true. If he were climbing, then sooner or later he'd be measurably, indisputably ahead, wouldn't he? But he isn't, and no one is seriously suggesting that he is. AP, ABC, Reuters, all the polls share a dogged determination to remind us that Kerry is, in fact, still in this race.

I have to wonder who's saying he isn't. It just doesn't feel right. Something isn't being reported.

ABC was recently reduced to reporting that Kerry leads among those likely voters who feel that the country is on the wrong track. Well, duh. Isn't that rather obvious? It isn't exactly a ringing endorsement that those who already feel that we're being governed badly are only 55-45 in Kerry's favor. Who are the other 45% for? Nader? Badnarik? Are they holding out hope for Howard Dean? (There are still a few Dean posters in my neighborhood.) Or for a deadlocked electoral college?

As I write ElectionProjection.com (openly partisan towards Bush) has Bush at 296; Electoral-vote.com (openly partisan towards Kerry) has Bush at "only" 281.

Meanwhile, Indian astrologers are convinced it'll be Kerry. "It is cosmic writ that George W. Bush cannot become president of United States again." Well, that's it then. Goodness knows their tech support is flawless, doubtless their soothsayers are too.

LATER: And now, speaking of soothsayers, OBL pops out of his cave with his review of Fahrenheit 911. I wonder what Michael Moore thinks of that? Jim Geraghty writes at NRO's "Kerry Spot":
I could be proven wrong, but I now have drastically revised my prediction of what's going to happen on election night. A Bush landslide is now exponentially more likely, as every voter walks into the voting booth with the topic of terrorism on his or her mind. It's far and away Bush's strongest issue.

There are times when America wants the eloquent, nuanced multilateral, French-speaking, consensus-building, flexible and cautious negotiator. And then there are times when the country wants the plain-spoken butt-kicking aggressive unilateralist cowboy. Guess which time this is?
Hm. I wonder how long before Terry McAuliffe suggests that Karl Rove arranged OBL's latest press release?

What? Walter Cronkite?

Friday, October 29, 2004

Obligatory Self-Promotion

The Atlanta Radio Theatre Company will be appearing at Onstage Atlanta (whose theater, unexpectedly, is at Suburban Plaza in Decatur) Friday night at 10:30pm. And Saturday afternoon at Stone Mountain Park's Memorial Hall. I, for the first time in a while, will be behind the sound effects table.

If you happen to have other plans this weekend, we'll be at Onstage Atlanta for three more weekends.

This is our Hallowe'en show. Some holidays we have to stretch to coordinate with (what exactly is a Tomato Day?) but we own Hallowe'en.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Reasonable people can disagree

Smoking Gun | Katherine Harris's Car Trouble
OCTOBER 27--A Florida man has been charged with attempting to run over controversial Republican congresswoman Katherine Harris with his Cadillac. According to the below Sarasota Police Department report, Barry Seltzer, 46, told cops that he was simply exercising his "political expression" when he drove his car at Harris and several supporters, who were campaigning last night at a Sarasota intersection.
This is not the act of someone who is confident their chosen candidate will win.

Monday, October 25, 2004

"Nobody's been to The White House"

The Washington Times | Polite society anticipates Teresa's pizazz
Is mainstream America ready for Teresa Heinz Kerry, a woman who radio host Don Imus wonders might be "too crazy to be first lady"?
"Well, they better be," said Betty Ford's former press secretary Sheila Weidenfeld. "I think she's going to be controversial, which is good. That's because she'll speak up."
...Social Washington is salivating at the idea of a revitalized White House, with a multilingual, art-collecting, wine-drinking, garden-loving billionairess who calls herself "cheeky" and "sexy" running the salon.
..."What we're hungry for," said former Clinton administration official Ann Pincus, "is someone who's engaged."
The Bushes have been virtually incognito for the last four years. Harpers Bazaar recently referred to the first lady's style as "Marian the Librarian."
"Nobody's been to The White House," added Mrs. Pincus. "You don't know about them. There's no buzz." The president is a teetotaler and Laura Bush "doesn't even do lunches. It's like, 'Hello, is this 1958?' "
Well, everyone has their issues, I guess.

I can't tell if this is parody or serious.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Electioneering 2004

Instapundit noted the following headlines at the top of today's Drudge Report:
Early voting brings cries of bullying...
Bush/Cheney Cincinnati headquarters robbed...
Republican Party headquarters in Flagstaff vandalized...
UK GUARDIAN: 'John Wilkes Booth, Lee Harvey Oswald, John Hinckley Jr - where are you now that we need you?'...
All of which just proves how right-wing Drudge is, right?

The first story, from the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, reports a loophole in Florida law: They forgot to keep that 50-foot safe zone around polling places for early-voting. Thus, there are stories of partisan advocates following voters into the room and standing beside the voting machines telling voters how to vote.

I can't say I'm a big fan of the manner in which these laws are enforced under the best of circumstances. I vote in the local high school, which sprawls over several acres. (Schools have to sprawl, because they have to house so many students, a consequence of guidelines for matching federal funds that require a large student body. This allows the federal government to claim that they don't really run local schools--but local jurisdictions will jump through any hoop the federal level sets in order to get those matching funds. I don't blame the feds for putting conditions on the check: I blame local jurisdictions who are incapable of turning down money if it comes with strings attached. The entire city is littered with empty schools whose students have been consolidated into mall-sized barns--admittedly lovely barns, most of them, but barns the local residents neither asked for nor wanted--in order to achieve the right numbers to qualify for federal money. But don't get me started on that.)

The entrance to the parking lot, and the bus plaza, are more than fifty feet from the front door. Therefore, the campaign volunteers can line up in both places such that I must pass through them in order to vote. This is perfectly legal, yet (in my opinion) counter to the intent of the law. I think fifty feet should be measured from the property line, not the front door.

The second and third stories are, sadly, just the most recent in an ongoing (you should excuse the expression) campaign of violence and vandalism.

And the fourth... Well, the fourth is just plain appalling.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Blast from the past

Apparently someone at DC has (a) a long memory and (b) the same taste as I. How else to explain this:

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us

This is an upcoming action figure of the Composite Superman, a villain who first appeared in World's Finest #142, and then again in #168. Yep. Twice. I'm guessing he was as difficult to write as Superman himself sometimes became, simply because there wasn't much he couldn't do: He possessed the combined powers of the Legion of Super-Heroes, including Superman himself. (Well, Supergirl.)

How did our heroes defeat a threat so powerful? Well... They didn't. They got their rear ends handed to them. Really. Will Pfeifer has the details. Or you could just read the original here. (Note: The previous/next links at the bottom of some pages are miscoded: Use the individual page links at the top.)

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Great moments in television

I didn't watch CNN that much when I had cable, and I have trouble with the very concept of a news program with a live audience, so I would still have missed Crossfire last Friday.

Fortunately, CNN has a transcript, and you can watch the video at iFilm, so I got a chance to see Jon Stewart tear Carlson and Begala a new one over journalistic integrity.
CARLSON: You had John Kerry on your show and you sniff his throne and you're accusing us of partisan hackery?
STEWART: Absolutely.
CARLSON: You've got to be kidding me. He comes on and you...
STEWART: You're on CNN. The show that leads into me is puppets making crank phone calls.
I can't decide to add or deduct points for Stewart not having heard--or claiming not to have heard--about the alleged bulge in President Bush's jacket (a story every bit as earthshaking as seeing Senator Kerry pull something out of his jacket, which is to say, get a life, people).
CARLSON: Tell us, what do you think about the Bill O'Reilly vibrator story?
STEWART: I'm sorry. I don't.
CARLSON: Oh, OK.
STEWART: What do you think?
BEGALA: Let me change the subject.
STEWART: Where's your moral outrage on this?
CARLSON: I don't have any.
STEWART: I know.
Heh. (See also Tom the Dog.)

Friday, October 15, 2004

This is a joke, right?

New York Daily News | KRS-One, decency zero
[third item]
If Osama Bin Laden ever buys a rap album, he'll probably start with a CD by KRS-One.

The hip-hop anarchist has declared his solidarity with Al Qaeda by asserting that he and other African-Americans "cheered when 9/11 happened."

...The atrocity of 9/11 "doesn't affect us [the hip-hop community]," he said. "9/11 happened to them, not us," he added, explaining that by "them" he meant "the rich ... those who are oppressing us. RCA or BMG, Universal, the radio stations."
Hey, you left out Clear Channel and the RIAA. I'm sure they were big on OBL's list.

On the other hand, the next item contains Britney Spears speculating that "society probably won't allow" her to take her husband's name. I guess somewhere along the line either the music industry or the NY Daily News was bought out by the Onion, and I missed it.

What do you mean, "it's real"?

Rocky Mountain News | Democrat playbook opened to criticism
Democrats got caught with their election playbook open Thursday when a leaked page was published urging operatives to lodge a "pre-emptive strike" of claiming voter intimidation, whether it's true or not.

Gleeful Republicans quickly called a press conference after the page from The Drudge Report went online, in which they denounced "a new low in gutter politics" that "played the race card."

...But Democrats, who verified as authentic the page from a playbook called "Colorado Election Day Manual: A detailed guide to voting in Colorado," said they must be pro-active to assure that minorities and all others are not scared away from the polls.
Don't you even have the decency to lie about conspiring to lie?

I mean... did that come out the way I meant? I'm confused. Is this meant to make the Democrats look virtuous? "We have to lie because they lie."

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Wednesday funnies

At least I'm not alone. Some think it's outrageous, some think it's just a dumb idea, but nobody seems to like the turn of this plot.
Howling Curmudgeons | So, about Amazing Spider-Man 512...
Okay, uhm... Is this for real? These guys seem to think this is for real. Are they right? Jeff Lester over at The Savage Critic is treating it like this is real and not a gigantic hoax. Is this an actual, honest to God J. Michael Straczynski storyline in Amazing Spider-Man?

...I've always wondered that Norman Osborn got anyone to sleep with him in the first place in order to create Harry: if the story was really about how Harry was in fact an artificially-aged clone of Norman that came out messed up because the cloning process didn't work right, I could believe that a lot more readily than the idea that a middle-aged Norman Osborn could get someone to have sex with him without rohypnol or some Goblin version of it. Add in some teenaged kids born from the illicit union between Gwen and Norman and we're in full-bore lunacy land.

Part of me is thinking this has to be some kind of clone scam. It has to be J. Michael Straczynski poking fun at the Clone Saga in some sly fashion by having Norman have spent his time in Europe raising clones made with his DNA and that of Gwen. Maybe he even teamed up with the Jackal... he knows how to make clones and fast-age them, that might make some kind of insane sense.

What does it say about this comic book that I find the idea I just postulated as more plausible than the one supposedly being introduced in the book?
Hey, JMS just got through telling us that it wasn't the radioactive spider after all, that Peter got his powers from the Great Spider-Totem. No, really. (See Amazing Spider-Man #506-508.)
Brian Hibbs' Savage Critic | Spoiler, Spoiler, Spoiler / I Made You Out Of Clay...
I really, really, really hate what JMS has done here. Retconning things so that Gwen Stacy slept with Norman Osborn and then produced genetically shaky offspring obsessed with killing off perceived shitty parent Peter Parker is just ass, plain and simple. I can understand the hook's allure for Straczynski, and don't think it's simply cynical gamesmanship on his part. The idea deepens and justifies the emnity between Pete and Osborn; it makes Osborn much more of an evil calculating prick; it makes for a high stake story; and it closes up any question that Mary Jane isn't the best woman in the world for Pete, destroys the perfect gleaming image of Gwen Stacy that makes the marriage between Mary Jane and Peter seem a little off or wrong or second-best. From the point of view of a writer with a wicked hook and a checklist of story objectives, the idea makes sense.

From every other point of view, however, it is an awful and shitty decision that makes absolutely no sense.
And, so far, we still don't know who raised these kids. But Gwen didn't seem too worried about them a couple of months later, when she was running around Antarctica in a bikini. No, really. (See Amazing Spider-Man #103-104.)
postmodernbarney | Thank You Marvel
I really enjoy having to tell parents that they may want to inspect a Spider-Man comic for content before buying it for their four year old. I don't want to have to be the one having to explain to a little kid what the Green Goblin is doing to Spider-Man's girl-friend in that panel, do you?
I thought we'd established that kids don't read these things any more. Funny what a movie tie-in will do.

For the record, I was getting a little tired of Saint Gwen, too, and it wasn't fair to Mary Jane to have her memory haunting her relationship with Peter, but Gwen boffing the Goblin wasn't what I had in mind.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Who knew there was a Republican teacher?

WABC | Middle School Teacher In Trouble Over Presidential Photo?
Veteran English teacher Shiba Pillai-Diaz says she was shocked when three parents confronted her. The three, insisting the teacher either add John Kerry's photo to the montage of presidents or remove the Bush photo. When Pillai-Diaz refused, she says the school's vice-principal threatened her job which is an act that has parents here fuming.
However...
South Brunswick Post | Hank Kalet: South Brunswick teacher vs. the school administration media battle will leave the truth hidden.
The district says Crossroads South administrators had been hearing complaints previous to the back-to-school night about Ms. Pillai-Diaz from students and parents saying she was using her position to engage in partisan politicking. The district said Mr. Daniels "met with Ms. Pillai-Diaz and cautioned her not to engage in partisan political discussions in her Language Arts classes."

However, the district continued to receive complaints, the superintendent wrote, which culminated in a confrontation on back-to-school night and a request by Mr. Daniels on Friday that she remove the "bulletin board materials because they were being viewed as contributing to an ongoing disruption of the teaching-learning environment." She refused and then had a meeting with Mr. Warfel, who "repeated the directive."

"At this point," according to the superintendent's letter, she "abruptly left the building, abandoning her post of duty and her classroom responsibilities."

Ms. Pillai-Diaz was not fired, the superintendent said in his letter. Mr. Warfel only asked her to turn in her building key because he believed she had resigned when she left the school.

...Ms. Pillai-Diaz has become an archetype in the right's mythology of victimhood, a flaming example of how the so-called liberal powers-that-be that control the world.

...What has happened here is what happens with many stories. Because our major media are obsessed with conflict and controversy, they chase stories like this and make more of them than they warrant. And now with blogs and their instant opinions, stories like this are stripped of their specifics, of their nuance and turned into political emblems.
Oh, so now it's my fault?
Houston Chronicle | Class's viewing of 'Fahrenheit 9/11' has dad steamed
A Southeast Texas businessman is upset that his son's English class watched Michael Moore's scathing documentary on President Bush and his handling of events after the terrorist attacks.

Michael Kurth, a veteran, said he was opposed to the film Fahrenheit 9/11 based on its R rating and political partisanship. His son, Matthew, 17, said that he put his head on his desk and tried to sleep through it.

...Michael Ryals, principal of Pathways Learning Center, said he previewed part of the film before he allowed the teacher to show it in class Friday.

"I didn't hear anything that was offensive to me," he told the Beaumont Enterprise in Saturday's editions, adding that he did not know of the R rating.

I'm sure he didn't see anything wrong.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

"Jayson Blair and Jack Kelley are bookends."

PoynterOnline | Time for Journalists to Hold Their Own Accountable
When journalists think something is important, we put it on the air, or in the paper. Except for the stories written by the NY Times and USA Today exposing their own failings, the reporting on our own scandals has been episodic, not investigative.

It's taken a lot less for us to sound the alarms when it comes to other cultures or industries...

We are still looking at Jayson and Jack and all the other incidents as if they have nothing to do with one another. Reporters aren't poring over the J-school curriculum, asking if it could be taught differently. No one is writing page one Sunday stories about the type of personality that goes into journalism and the accountability measures that should keep journalists honest.
And right away, while the field still has some credibility left.

Friday, October 08, 2004

"Attorney General Ashcroft, it's RICO time."

The Corner on NRO | CAMPAIGN VIOLENCE
This week, in Orlando, Florida, approximately 100 protestors stormed and ransacked the local Bush-Cheney headquarters injuring one campaign staffer who suffered a broken wrist and causing considerable damage.

According to news accounts, similar "protests" occurred yesterday across the country in Miami, FL; Tampa, FL; Kansas City, MO; Dearborn, MI; St. Paul, MN; Independence, MO; and West Allis, WI. All of the "protests" appear to be a coordinated effort by members of a major labor union to intimidate staff and volunteers of the Bush-Cheney campaign. The AFL-CIO took credit on their own website for these protests that included thousands of workers in 17 cities across the country.
The above passage is an excerpt from a letter to John Ashcroft from Congressman Tom Feeney (R-FL) (link goes to Orlando Sentinel, registration required), in whose district the ransacked Orlando Bush/Cheney office is. Via JunkYardBlog. I'm sure my liberal friends are just dying to tell me how Karl Rove arranged this.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Unscientific Experiment

I just did a Google news search for "campaign office vandal": I got eight examples:

Two reports of damages done to Bush-Cheney offices, one by gunfire (!), the other by spray-paint, eggs and rocks through windows.

One report of a Kerry campaign office being egged.

One report of yard sign theft and bumper sticker vandalism, actually mentions both candidates.

One opinion piece (ChronWatch, but then they admit to being conservative, so I suppose they're not reliable) speculating that the lack of Bush signs in San Francisco (49% Kerry/46% Bush, according to the most recent polls) might be that Bush supporters don't wish to attract vandals. (The author doesn't mention the possibility that some neighborhoods might not mirror the averages.)

Three reports of non-political vandalism that happen to use the word "campaign" to describe the vandal's actions

Not being able to afford Nexis-Lexis, my search options are limited. Still working on it.

MORE: See also JunkYardBlog and NRO. With so many of the openly conservative blogs working this subject, I figure it's only a matter of time before some leftyblog tries to reclaim the "victim" flag.

MORE: And Michelle Malkin.

My error above was verb tense. Googling for "campaign office vandalism" yields a couple of hundred results, which appear to run about five to one towards Bush offices / signs being targeted.

I can only assume that the absence of leftyblogs outraged on this subject indicates that there may be no counter-examples (that is, no significant or organized campaign of vandalism or violence against Democratic campaign offices or workers). Talking Points and Media Matters are all over Sinclair Broadcasting. The Daily Kos is all over the polls. John Perry Barlow is dancing in the streets, just because it confuses Republicans to do so.

But then, as previously noted, the Democratic response is to simply ignore it when they get caught. Admit nothing, deny everything.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Consistent

The presidency is, and has been for some time, a committee. It is simply not possible for any one human being to juggle that many balls at once, alone.

In some ways this is obvious, as when the president chooses his cabinet--and, through his actions, demonstrates how much autonomy he intends them to have. It's less obvious with the small army of lesser appointments he's expected to make as he takes office.

Somewhere in between is his inner core of personal advisors and assistants. Some names are well-known, others aren't. Some job responsibilities are defined by law, many aren't. Their importance is far greater than their public recognition--and that relative anonymity is often what allows them to do their jobs.

That said, what purpose does a presidential "debate" serve? (I'm not sure I can call it a debate with a straight face: It was a joint press conference with only one reporter present.)

It places the candidate in a situation he'll never encounter once he's in office: Alone, without notes, without advisors, without advance knowledge of the questions being asked, without the option to ignore or refuse to answer any of them.

In such circumstances, are debates about specific policies, or the minutiae of day-to-day operations? Often, yes, but they shouldn't be. Can't be, really, although questions on the subjects are apparently irresistable, and the answers, or lack thereof, often provide the evening's most entertaining moments. One's opponent, and the media, delight in discovering a fact the candidate has forgotten or overlooked, an incorrect word substituted for a correct one, a needless repetition that hints that the speaker has forgotten what he meant to say.

Such debates should be about character. What kind of man is the candidate? What does he consider important? What are the principles that guide his decision-making?

In that way, Bush drove the debate. I know, it probably looked like Kerry was dominating (and I was disappointed in Bush's performance), but Kerry was reacting only, bringing nothing new to the table. Even now, he has no plan: He can only say "Bush is wrong: I would have done everything differently." Elect me: I'm not him. If he "won" the debate, he did so because he can repeat himself without appearing to--something Bush never learned how to do.
Winds of Change | John Kerry, Owen Wilson & Facing Reality
I'm sorry that America's choices across the aisle in the GOP are questionable. I agree that it sucks. I also agree that a Democratic Party that can be trusted to defend America is a critical component of eventual victory, and that the stakes for the long term are civilizational in scope.

I even understand the impetus to look at 2 candidates who offer less than the times demand, and see the stakes before us, and tell oneself that Kerry will have to do the right thing.

But you know what? He absolutely does not.

Look at Europe now, or look back into human history - illusion and passivity in the face of real threats is an option, and some leaders and states will take it.

One question: is Kerry one of those people? Simple question. Simple answer.
Yeah. "Global test." He has his chance to look like a statesman, and he almost made it (I was impressed, I'll say so), but then he made it clear that if the United States' interests conflict with the United Nations', he may not be on our side.

Suddenly, I realized that Kerry has been telling the absolute truth all along. "I have one consistent position", he's been saying, and he's right. He expressed it at Congressional hearings in 1971.

Monday, October 04, 2004

Why I don't allow yard signs

Channel 3000 | Swastika Burned Into Grass On Bush-Cheney Supporter's Lawn
Someone burned an 8-foot-by-8-foot Nazi swastika on a home's lawn near where Bush-Cheney signs were posted. The vandals used grass killer to spray the symbol.

Several nearby homes were vandalized -- all were within a two-block radius on the West Side, near Ice Age Trail, News 3 reported.
I don't put bumper stickers on my car either.
komo news | Car Vandalized Because of Political Bumper Sticker
RENTON - A local woman claims someone vandalized her car because of a Kerry-Edwards campaign sticker in her back window.

Joni Job told KOMO 4 News someone put a confederate flag alongside her sticker. They also used red paint to write "Bush in 2004" on her passenger side door.

Job says the vandals also dented her car, causing hundreds of dollars in damage.
And if I had it to do over again, this blog probably wouldn't have my name on it either.

UPDATE:
Man Without Qualities | A Climate of Fear
It is not just that one sees few Bush-Cheney bumper stickers and lawn signs - even in areas in which one knows his support is high. I do not have such a bumper sticker or lawn sign. In fact, most Bush supporters I have asked, even those who are fairly passionate on the topic, just don't think the risk of a key-scratch or broken home or car window, or much worse, is worth whatever benefit one receives from a partisan bumper sticker or lawn sign. There are just too many personal stories of cars and homes defaced and damaged.

The sentiment is not symmetrical: One sees plenty of Kerry-Edwards bumber stickers and lawn signs - even in highly Republican neighborhoods. Indeed,one sees plenty of such stickers and signs that express left-wing sentiments much more intense and partisan than mere support of the Democratic presidential ticket. Not infrequently these stickers and signs mention some form of violence or even death with respect to Republican officials.
The perception is real.

Here in the Dreaded Purple Neighborhood, Kerry signs are everywhere (alternating with "War is not the answer" signs)--but then, this is John Lewis' congressional district. Every primary election, I'm reminded just how overwhelming the Democratic majority is. (I don't know if they do it this way in your district, but here you fill out a slip of paper which you then turn in for a ballot. In the primaries, those slips are color coded for Democrat, Republican or non-partisan. Secret ballot? What secret ballot?)

More...

Up is arbitrary

All you need is a fresh perspective.

Saturday, October 02, 2004

That's the best you can do?

The DNC has a Faces of Frustration montage from the presidential debate. I assume it's meant to refer to Bush's annoyed expression while Kerry calls him ten kinds of "incompetent." Hard to tell what the context is, since there's no dialogue, only a jazzy soundtrack. The RNC, instead, has the sound of Kerry's own voice, in "10 Flip Flops", which shows how Kerry, er, tailors his message to his audience.

The contrast between these two videos would be funny enough if they were coming from moveon.org and the Swift boat veterans, but they're coming directly from the party national committees.

Friday, October 01, 2004

How bias works

POVOnline | The Debate
I think [Bush] loses points just because so much of the discussion is about what he may or may not have done wrong.
That would be Jim Lehrer's doing: he wrote the questions.

The first question, directed to Senator Kerry, was: "Do you believe you could do a better job than President Bush in preventing another 9/11-type terrorist attack on the United States?" Kerry couldn't have asked for a better opportunity to read from his own press releases.

The second, directed to President Bush, was: "Do you believe the election of Senator Kerry on November the 2nd would increase the chances of the U.S. being hit by another 9/11-type terrorist attack?" An absurd question. Although some of the loonier blogs and talk-show hosts have made this accusation, the Bush campaign never has.

The third, to Kerry: "What colossal misjudgments, in your opinion, has President Bush made...?" And Kerry reads from his press releases again.

The fourth, to Bush: "What about Senator Kerry's point, the comparison he drew between the priorities of going after Usama bin Laden and going after Saddam Hussein?" Now Lehrer is reading from Kerry's press releases.

We're a half-hour into the show, and Kerry's record hasn't been questioned once. But then, it never really was. Yet all of the first four questions, in their ways, attack Bush's. It's fair to challenge the president, but it's also expected that you challenge the other side every now and again. Still waiting for that.

Do they lunch together, or what?

Proving once again that in comic books no idea ever strikes only once: Two months ago in Identity Crisis #2 it was revealed that Sue Dibny was raped by Dr Light, and Saint Barry (er, I mean, the Flash) cast the deciding vote to mess with his mind. Now, in Amazing Spider-Man #512, we learn that the father of the children of the silver age's other saint, Gwen Stacy, was Norman (the Green Goblin) Osborn. (Well, okay, it wasn't really a comparable situation. Gwen wasn't raped, she was seduced by the sheer power of Osborn's personality. Something else I really didn't need to see happen on-panel.)

Global test?

I joined the presidential debate late (Sarah particularly wanted to see it), so I had to go back and read the transcript of the parts I missed. (Fox News has it complete now: CNN's is only partial. Fox also did a fact check on both candidates' claims: Maybe CNN is working on that.)

In general, I agree with Glenn Reynolds: Neither candidate is a good enough orator to really take control and run away with it. The debate was more substantive for it. Chances are, the liberals will think Kerry won, and the conservatives will think Bush won. It didn't look good for Bush that he repeated his accusations of inconsistency, especially when he provided so few examples. It didn't look good for Kerry when he hinted that America can't be trusted with "bunker-buster" nuclear weapons.

Still, there was one moment:

LEHRER: New question. Two minutes, Senator Kerry. What is your position on the whole concept of preemptive war?

KERRY: The president always has the right, and always has had the right, for preemptive strike. That was a great doctrine throughout the Cold War. And it was always one of the things we argued about with respect to arms control.

No president, though all of American history, has ever ceded, and nor would I, the right to preempt in any way necessary to protect the United States of America.

But if and when you do it, Jim, you have to do it in a way that passes the test, that passes the global test where your countrymen, your people understand fully why you're doing what you're doing and you can prove to the world that you did it for legitimate reasons. ...

BUSH: Let me -- I'm not exactly sure what you mean, "passes the global test," you take preemptive action if you pass a global test.

My attitude is you take preemptive action in order to protect the American people, that you act in order to make this country secure.

...I just think trying to be popular, kind of, in the global sense, if it's not in our best interest makes no sense. I'm interested in working with our nations and do a lot of it. But I'm not going to make decisions that I think are wrong for America.

As Hugh Hewitt said: Game, set, match.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

"You can't mean that."

Cathy's World | Post-Rathergate-o-rama
From another corner of the world, a Washington journalist I know writes:
I was at a book party recently where political reporters for national publications (these are the people who are explaining things to the rest of the country) were talking about how good Farenheit 9/11 was. ("It reminded you that before Bush started this insane war, people in Iraq were sitting in cafes, playing in the park, not worrying about being blown up.") When I said, "Well, did Michael Moore mention they were being put into industrial shredders?" I got a suspicious look... I said I planned to vote for Bush, one woman said, "NO, no, you don't mean that! Are you kidding? You can't mean that." You kind of want to say to these political reporters that if you find the fact that you know someone who plans to vote to re-elect the president so utterly shocking, you might be in the wrong line of work.

The short version

Lord of the Rings.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Journalism as usual

I really don't want to keep on about this, honest, I don't. But I can't ignore this:
CNN (Reuters) | Triumph of the bloggers?
Orville Schell, dean of the School of Journalism at the University of California in Berkeley, said CBS's admission of error after days of stalling was "a landmark moment for the balance between the blogosphere and mainstream media."

Bloggers were the first to challenge the authenticity of the documents and first to publish detailed examinations of the evidence by dozens of self-declared experts, some of them with Republican Party ties.

"The credibility of the media has taken another hit, especially when you consider the story is not Dan Rather but President Bush's service in the National Guard," Schell said.

That latter story -- that said Bush ducked military service in Vietnam by entering the Guard and then getting special treatment thanks to his powerful father -- has been lost in the welter of complaints about the CBS story.

...Tom Goldstein, former dean of Columbia University's School of Journalism, dismissed the notion that CBS's dilemma was a sign that American journalism has become sloppier in recent years.

Goldstein said Rather's report was another example of bad things happening to good news organizations.

"They had the best in the business on it, and they got duped and there but for the grace of God go you and I," Goldstein said.
Is there really any other kind of expert than "self-declared"? As opposed to CBS' experts, unnamed until challenged, some of whom have publicly said they were working outside of their expertise, and even so had questions regarding the authenticity of the documents that CBS chose to ignore?

And what about the Democratic party ties of those who are complicit in the deception? Just a coincidence, I suppose.

Actually, there is a reason that so much of the criticism comes from sources known to be sympathetic to Republicans and conservatives. I hadn't intended to bring this up here, but since they mention it:
Hullabaloo | Playing By The Rules
It's admirable that lefty bloggers are being duly skeptical of the CBS documents and diligently reporting it on their blogs. It means that we have more integrity than the other side and will probably go to heaven.

Unfortunately, it also means that we are helping Republicans spin their lies and hurting our candidate. Again.

But, now that professional Republican propagandists are on the case, if you can't stomach the idea of not standing up for truth, justice and the American way in all circumstances, the better part of valor may be to blog on the myriad other Bush atrocities and let the right do its own dirty work...

If voices of the left blogosphere work to actively advance the idea that the documents are forgeries, no matter what their earnestly high minded motives, then whatever influence the blogosphere provides certainly doesn't benefit our side.
That is to say, the truth matters less than winning.

As I said in a previous comment, they think that the legitimacy of their charge against GWB is so obvious that the provenance of the documents doesn't matter. They were merely illustrative, never intended as proof of anything. Proof doesn't matter, the story is true, don't you care about that? Why are you people going on about fonts? We wouldn't lie to you, we're C-B-effing-S!

The overall tone of this story is "We really don't understand why everybody's making such a big deal over this." Reuters does its best to undercut and discredit every dissenting voice and represent this as nothing more than a handful of malcontents making noise.

The bloggers, who are barely mentioned (and never by name) in this story that pretends to be about them, will have to continue to hold Rather's feet to the fire, because CNN and Reuters are obviously disinclined to do the job. "There but for the grace of God go you and I", indeed. I wonder what the last story was that Reuters' editors released where they thought, "Please, God, don't let them look too closely at this."

Maybe it was this one.

What concerns me is that Dr Goldstein may be right, that journalism hasn't gotten sloppier in recent years. It was always this sloppy, we just weren't paying attention.

Monday, September 20, 2004

I never thought I'd quote Michael Moore

MichaelMoore.com | Put Away Your Hankies
If I hear one more person tell me how lousy a candidate Kerry is and how he can't win... Dammit, of COURSE he's a lousy candidate -- he's a Democrat, for heavens sake! That party is so pathetic, they even lose the elections they win! What were you expecting, Bruce Springsteen heading up the ticket? Bruce would make a helluva president, but guys like him don't run -- and neither do you or I. People like Kerry run.

Yes, OF COURSE any of us would have run a better, smarter, kick-ass campaign. Of course we would have smacked each and every one of those phony swifty boaty bastards down. But WE are not running for president -- Kerry is. So quit complaining and work with what we have.
So, what are you trying to say, Mike?

Speaking of Janeane Garofolo

Did you know that enlightenment has finally come to Atlanta? No, seriously. Never mind those other eight news/talk stations, we've hit the big time now. Classic Country WSWK 1390 AM is now Air Atlanta WWAA, our very own Air America affiliate.

Yes, WWAA. Sounds like call letters a right-winger would have chosen as a joke, doesn't it?

Anyway, they sort of snuck quietly onto the dial while nobody but the AJC was looking (link requires registration). The station went dark for a while, always a promising way to start a new format. The story is dated 9-10: As of last Wednesday the station was still off the air, but it was broadcasting (repeats of Garofolo) yesterday, welcoming perhaps dozens of new listeners.

First impression: It's every bit as mellow and listenable as market leader Sean Hannity. Which is to say, like plunging red-hot knitting needles into my ears.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Warn the kiddies

Brian Micklethwait at Samizdata.net |
How President Bush gets his enemies to choose the ground where they will die

I hereby place a bet on your forthcoming Presidential election: f**cking Bush landslide. Thermonuclear. If Kerry thinks it is bad now, let him see how it all looks in another month. 25 point poll difference. Meltdown chez the Kerry campaign. Bush looking so smug the Democrats will be jumping off ledges.
The heat from Janeane Garofolo alone will be enough to melt the ice cap.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

Suits vs. pajamas

The Weekly Standard, in its September 27 issue (on sale Monday), describes the meltdown of the CBS National Guard Memo story.

"Fake but accurate." Heh.

UPDATE: If you'd rather have the Washington Post version (which doesn't mention blogs at all), registration is required. But it does describe behind-the-scenes activity at CBS, including the fact that CBS stopped checking when White House communications director Dan Bartlett let three hours go by without questioning the documents' authenticity:
At that point, said "60 Minutes" executive Josh Howard, "we completely abandoned the process of authenticating the documents. Obviously, looking back on it, that was a mistake. We stopped questioning ourselves. I suppose you could say we let our guard down."
I suppose you could say that. So it's all the White House's fault for not telling them the documents were fake. Got it. How exactly Bartlett was supposed to verify a document he wasn't asked to verify, ostensibly taken from the personal files of a dead man, within three hours of learning of its existence, was not explained.
"So much of this debate has focused on the documents, and no one has really challenged the story. It's been frustrating to us to see all this reduced to a debate over little 'th's."
The devil, they say, is in the details. It's about credibility, and right now CBS don't got it. Plenty of people who happen not to be in CBS' newsroom have challenged the story, but you have to actually stick your head out of the door to be aware of that.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Okay, who had McAuliffe?

I didn't realize at the time I mentioned that bet I had with myself I'd already lost.
Washington Times | McAuliffe says Democrats did not leak Bush records
Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe yesterday said Democrats "unequivocally" did not leak memos to CBS that have called into question President Bush's service record, but may in fact be forged.

He instead insinuated that White House adviser Karl Rove may be responsible.

"I can unequivocally say that no one involved here at the Democratic National Committee had anything at all to do with any of those documents," Mr. McAuliffe told reporters, adding later that he also could speak for Democratic operatives and the campaign of Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry. "If I were an aspiring young journalist, I think I would ask Karl Rove that question."
Has anyone else blamed Karl Rove, or was this officially the first mention?

More TANG documents

18 Jun 73 from Bush's Superior Officer.
Dan Rather Vindicated.
1972 email casts doubt on Bush Guards service.
Know of a scam that needs investigating?

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Obsolete technology

Power Line | Suicide Bombers and CBS News
We now know that our richest and most powerful news organizations are willing to blow themselves up--to destroy their own credibility, once considered a news organization's most precious possession--to achieve a political goal. The landscape will never look quite the same again. Those of us who still value truth must look at the mainstream media in a new, more skeptical and critical way, taking nothing for granted. Because, like suicide bombers, the mainstream news organs will go farther to achieve their political goals than we ever imagined.
I am not yet prepared to say, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the "CBS documents" are forgeries. (They could be: I would say the overwhelming likelihood is that they are.) It's time for someone to produce the originals. But the AP report of the crowd booing when Bush mentioned Clinton's hospitalization is unquestionably, provably false, and someone should be fired over it.

LATER: Joseph M. Newcomer (site bandwidth swamped, mirrored here) does the font geekery I'm not qualified to do. I say again, overwhelming likelihood. Not even considering the word of Jerry Killian's family, or the deviations from military memo formatting, or the likelihood of Killian (a man who, according to those who knew him, hated to type) using a $4,000 (in 1972 dollars) typesetting machine for "file" memos that no one else would ever see, or the conspicuous lack of other memos of similar appearance from the same time and place--or the continuing conspicuous non-appearance of even one original.

There is one more possible defense, though, and I have a little bet with myself as to when it will surface.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Remember

Blogs don't do Moments of Silence well. It just looks like another day we slept in.

The moment defies any words of mine. Try Lileks' from a year ago.