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Saturday, January 29, 2005
 
Great Optical Illusion

It takes awhile, but eventually you see it.
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Friday, January 28, 2005
 
The Nutty Professor

This one's a little hard to believe:

A University of Colorado professor who compared the victims of the World Trade Center attacks to Nazis said he would not back down from the topic in a speech in New York state next month.

In ''Some People Push Back,'' a treatise he wrote shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Churchill said the 3,000 people killed in the twin towers weren't innocent victims. He said they worked for ''the mighty engine of profit'' but chose to ignore their role.

Churchill, an indigenous issues expert, described the World Trade Center victims as ''little Eichmanns,'' a reference to Adolf Eichmann, who carried out Hitler's plan during World War II to exterminate Jews in Europe.


Here's the original "treatise".

Needless to say, the President of CU-Boulder, where this moron teaches, disagrees with the thought, but will defend to the death his right to be paid by the state to say it.

Oh, and check out the picture of this genius. Looks like something straight out of the 1970s, but what's with the name, Ward Churchill? Surely it should be something with an ethnic, revolutionary flavor like El Gato Loco? Hat tip: Instapundit
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Who'll Stop McCain?

Pat Hynes asks the question.
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Alterman/Jarvis Battle

This post is getting a lot of attention around the blogosphere.

I don't particularly care for Jarvis myself; his posts often reveal anti-religious sentiments (you'll get a sense of this right at the beginning of the post when he describes Michael Medved as a rabid conservative because he supports the Passion of the Christ), but you know how it is; Alterman's the enemy on Iraq, so Jarvis is my friend in this battle.
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Thursday, January 27, 2005
 
Watch Out for Them Bloggers!

Joe Strupp warns reporters in E&P with the cautionary tale of Nick Coleman and Power Line.

If you don't believe that bloggers are giving newspapers a headache, talk to Nick Coleman. A veteran newspaper columnist for the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Coleman is in the middle of an old-fashioned feud with one of the leading conservative Web logs in the country.

Actually they are giving Coleman a headache; the headache that Coleman inflicted on his own paper is described here:

But Coleman's problems didn't end there. Shortly after the New Year, TCF Bank Chairman and CEO Bill Cooper wrote an angry letter to the Star-Tribune vowing never to buy advertising in the paper again. Cooper was incensed that Coleman's column had attempted to link the blog to TCF, while allegedly hinting that some readers should withdraw their money from the finance company. "I have nothing to do with that blog and Coleman never talked to me," Cooper says now. "It's 'Dan Rather' journalism."

TCF is the employer of one of the Power Line bloggers, and you've gotta love Bill Cooper's perfect quip about "Dan Rather journalism".

The rest of the story continues on in this line about poor Nick Coleman and those nasty bloggers.

He (Coleman) also claims that the blogs are dangerous because they are not under the same ethical restrictions as mainstream media and seek to stay on the attack, facts be damned. He contends "the mainstream media is under assault."

No. Facts be damned is not part of it, and that's the point. Coleman, like Dan Rather, was the one who got facts wrong, and he's paying for it. If Power Line made mistakes and didn't correct them, folks would hound them. Conservatives disagree over things all the time; I've even disagreed with Hugh Hewitt on rare occasions.

BTW, this article is a classic of old media; no links to the source documents so you can check things out yourself. The Power Line/Coleman slugfest has been well-covered in the blogs, start with a search here.
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It's Dowdy-Doody Time!

Slow-Mo is back with another of her mind-numbingly stupid columns. This time it's about Armstrong Willians & Maggie Gallagher getting paid to promote administration policy. I haven't had time to pay too much attention to the latter case, but most of those who have seem to agree that it's not similary to that of Williams.

But of course, you can imagine how Dowd treats it. She offers to prostitute herself in return for filthy lucre from the Bush Administration (as compared to the NY Times' filthy lucre). Most of it is about columns she would be willing write, but then she slips in this one:

What is all this hand-wringing about the 31 marines who died in a helicopter crash in Iraq yesterday? It's only slightly more than the number of people who died in traffic accidents in California last Memorial Day. The president set the right tone, avoiding pathos when asked about the crash. "Obviously," he said, "any time we lose life it is a sad moment."

It doesn't fit with the rest of what she wrote; it reads like something she cut and pasted from somewhere else.

The president might need my help as well. He looked out of it yesterday when asked why his foreign policy is so drastically different from the one laid out in Foreign Affairs magazine in 2000 by Ms. Rice - a preview that did not emphasize promoting democracy and liberty around the world. "I didn't read the article," Mr. Bush said.

Gee, Mo, I hear that FDR promised to keep us out of World War II during the 1940 campaign as well.
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Global Warming Continued

I have been fairly critical of the report issued by the International Climate Change Taskforce, as commissioned by the Center For American Progress and two foreign groups.

Now, I'm not a scientist, so I can't get into the technical aspects of climate change. However, that is not what the role of a blogger is anyway. We're supposed to be the Cyber Sherpas, as coined by Hugh Hewitt; guides to the top of the mountain of data. I can't be the expert, but I can point the way to his house.

Here's a debate about global warming by two scientists. One is the famed science fiction writer, Jerry Pournelle, the other is Gavin Schmidt, a scientist with NASA. The debate is fairly long and occasionally technical, but not difficult to follow.

Pournelle raises some points that seem to me to be critical:

The models so far do not seem able to take the initial conditions of 1900 and get us to the year 2000 with any accuracy whatever. But they sure can take the conditions of 2004 and tell us about the year 2020!

This has always struck me as a critical flaw in the global warming models. To give a sports analogy, suppose I were to tell you that I'd constructed a model that projects that Alex Rodriguez will close out his career with 853 home runs. There are two methods of checking the model. First, we could wait for another 14 years or so and see where he ends up. And second, we could test the model against past players who have already finished their careers to see how well it predicted their future performance back when they were A-Rod's age.

Here's a simple home run projection model. Take the player's age and subtract 20. Divide the result into the number of home runs the player has already had. Multiply the result by 20 and that's how many homers the player will have at the end of his career. Working with A-Rod, he's 29 and he has 384 homers so far, so we would project him to 853 by the following formula: (384/(29-20))*20 = 853.

So now we look at some other famous ballplayers and see how well the model works. Hank Aaron had 342 at A-Rod's age; that projects out to 760. Aaron actually closed out his career with 755, so we would certainly say that the model worked with him. The method does not work as well with Babe Ruth, who only had 284 homers at that age, which would project out to 631, quite a bit short of Ruth's actual total of 714. Of course, it's not hard to see why; Ruth spent the early years of his career toiling as a pitcher and did not start accumulating homers until he was about 24.

Okay, the point is not to present my very simple projection system for home runs, but to highlight that if you want people to accept your projections, it's a very good idea to be able to show that they work well with past data. And as Pournelle notes, the global warming models do not project 2000's weather accurately based on past data.

Also, note this comment from Pournelle:

And tell me about your climate model that explains why things were warm around 800-1000 AD and got cold starting about 1300, until in 1776 the Hudson was frozen solid enough to bring cannon across. Show me a model that doesn't require me to let you pick arbitrary start and stop years to establish climate trends.

Kind of interesting, that, because as it happens, the report issued by the ICCT takes as its baseline the year 1750:

...[W]e propose a long-term objective of preventing the average global surface temperature from rising more than 2 degrees C (3.6 degrees F) above its pre-industrial level (taken as the level in 1750, when carbon dioxide (CO2) levels first began to rise appreciably as a result of human activities).

Got it? They pick as a baseline, an era when the planet was quite a bit colder (the Hudson frozen?) and say, "Let's not get too far away from that."

More on this topic later. Hat Tip to Instapundit for the link to the Pournelle page.
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New to the Blogroll

One interesting side effect of Hugh Hewitt's Vox Blogoli is the way it reveals blogs that have a common interest to each other. I remember when I was first writing posts for KH about Kerry's involvement in a VVAW meeting where the assassination of US Senators was discussed, it seemed odd to me that none of the other bloggers were covering it. Of course, Captain's Quarters and Just One Minute were covering it, I just hadn't discovered those blogs yet.

So I am pleased to introduce Molten Thought, a blog that I became acquainted with through Vox Blogoli. Looks to be a new blog, but co-bloggers Teflon and Word Girl have the blogging thing down: Oodles of posts on varied topics with links and intelligent commentary. Well worth the trip!
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Wednesday, January 26, 2005
 
Vox Blogoli Revisited

The other day I wrote a post for Hugh Hewitt's Vox Blogoli (or is it Bloguli?--Why ask? Hugh can't spell real words, why should we expect him to be able to spell made up ones?--ed) concerning a Jonathan Rauch article in the Atlantic which contained (in the last paragraph) some comments about religious conservatives which seemed rather offensive.

Hugh had Rauch on his show later that same day, and I was struck by his insistence that no insult had been intended and his forthright admission that if his article had been perceived as insulting, then it was his fault for poor writing. Very few mainstream writers would make that admission. Rauch said that his intent was to write a piece revealing how little difference there really is between Red and Blue America and asked that readers judge the whole piece rather than just the snippet at the end. Hugh has been granted permission to post the entire article on his blog.

I have now read the entire article, and I have to say, there is a great deal that I agree with. Rauch's thesis is that the American people are not as separated from each other by culture as much as they are by politics and that they have become less divided over time with the exception of political partisans.

This is something I have remarked on in the past. Many folks seem to think that politics has never been so nasty and divisive, which is absurd. Read the Lincoln/Douglas debates sometime if you want to see a pair of politicians go at each other hammer and tongs. Rauch points to the collapse of the smoke-filled room and the increasing democratization of the nomination process as central to the increasing polarization of the partisans, a theme I have returned to on many occasions.

However, there are some places where Rauch displays his own partisanship.

It is interesting to wonder how much less polarized American politics might be today if John McCain had won the presidency in 2000. Instead we got Bush, with his unyielding temperament and his strategy of mobilizing conservatives.

My guess is that American politics would be about 0.1% less polarized under McCain. I honestly do not understand the continuing fascination of the Democrats with McCain, but I can guarantee that it would disappear about 20 minutes into any McCain Administration as he began to staff his Cabinet with, gasp, conservative Republicans!

Even more divisive was the fact that one party--”the Republicans”--has controlled the presidency and both chambers of Congress since 2003. In a fifty-fifty country, shutting one party out of the government can only lead to partisan excess on one side and bitter resentment on the other.

Well, we'd like to get the Democrats some sort of representation, but they keep messing things up with their partisan, angry campaigns. And the Democrats for many, many years in the 1930s through the 1960s controlled both the presidency and both houses of Congress without it leading to a bitter divide. Of course, part of that was that the Republicans of that era tended to accept their status as a minority party, while the Democrats still insist that they're relevant.

But overall, this is a thoughtful, intelligent analysis of the political/cultural scene today with only a few real blind spots.
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Reasonable Democrats Update--Updated!

Based on his vote on the Condoleezza Rice nomination for Secretary of State, we can cross Evan Bayh off the list.

The nos, for those who are keeping score, are Kerry, Byrd, Boxer, Dayton, Jeffords, Kennedy, Harkin, Reed, Durbin, Lautenberg, Levin, Akaka and Bayh.

Update: Lorie Byrd and Power Line speculate that this could be an attempt by Bayh to move far enough away from the center to be acceptable to Democratic primary voters in 2008. I'd like to say that it's far too early to be thinking in those terms, but what other explanation fits?
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Tuesday, January 25, 2005
 
Global Warming Part II

I thought I'd take another look at this issue.

First, let's examine who prepared the report. Yes, I know, if you can't attack the message, attack the messenger. But the new report is a product of three different organizations; the Institute for Public Policy Research in the UK, the Center for American Progress in the US, and the Australia Institute in Australia.

Rather than deal with the two foreign groups and try to puzzle out where they fit on the political spectrum, let's start with the Center for American Progress, which bills itself as bringing "Progressive ideas for a strong, just and free America". Two major league leftist buzz words in there: "Progressive" (i.e., socialistic) and "just" (i.e., socialistic).

Looking at their website, it is not hard to locate the CFAP on the political spectrum; it is, as suspected "progressive" (i.e., socialistic). A "Daily Progress Report" mentions the "Assault on Liberty", which is not about car bombers in Iraq, but instead concerns itself with "Bush leads war on women's rights".
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Vox Bloguli

Hugh Hewitt asks bloggers to comment on the following passage from a Jonathan Rauch piece in the Atlantic. Subscription is required, but here's the key paragraph:

“On balance it is probably healthier if religious conservatives are inside the political system than if they operate as insurgents and provocateurs on the outside. Better they should write anti-abortion planks into the Republican platform than bomb abortion clinics. The same is true of the left. The clashes over civil rights and Vietnam turned into street warfare partly because activists were locked out of their own party establishments and had to fight, literally, to be heard. When Michael Moore receives a hero’s welcome at the Democratic National Convention, we moderates grumble; but if the parties engage fierce activists while marginalizing tame centrists, that is probably better for the social peace than the other way around.”

Hugh requests "comments on this passage, what it says about the author, The Atlantic, and the left's understanding of the Christian culture in America in 2005."

First, most obviously this passage reveals a startling misunderstanding of religious conservatives. Rauch's point seems to be that if religious conservatives are frozen outside the party system that they will turn into abortion clinic bombers. This is absurd, of course. La Shawn Barber and Michael Gallaugher are not bomb throwers. Indeed, it is extremely questionable to consider people who would do something like bombing an abortion clinic as "religious" or, ironically, "pro-life".

Second, I'm not sure what he means by "locked out of their party establishment". To a certain extent, it may be true that the radical left is locked out of the Democrats; but that is a historical fact caused mostly by the fact that the radical left was never able to live up to its claims of being able to deliver victory for Democratic candidates. By contrast, the religious conservatives have done a bang-up job of delivering the votes needed for their side to win, and I would hardly say they're locked out of the party establishment.

Third, Rauch obviously suffers from Vietnam protestor nostalgia. It is reasonably true that the Democratic party organs were closed to the antiwar crowd in 1968; but the left spent the next several years infiltrating the machinery and in 1972 they were able to nominate the candidate of their choosing (with disastrous results).

And finally, Rauch plainly misunderstands the size of the radical left versus the size of the religious conservatives. The radical left is tiny (if vocal and influential) compared to Christian conservatives. If the Republican party were to vocally distance themselves from the Christian right, they would not win another election. If the Democrats were to jettison the left wing, they would stand a darned good chance of winning.

Why? Well, I call it the two votes for the price of one rule. Let's say that by calibrating its position on an issue slightly to the right, the Democrats lose one voter on the wings, but pick up a voter in the middle. Sounds like an even trade, right? But it's not; it's better than that (for the Democrats). Why? Because that voter on the left is not going to vote for a Republican. They might vote for a Green, or a Communist or a Socialist, but they are highly unlikely to move to the GOP. By contrast, if the Democrats don't get that voter in the middle, it will probably go to a Republican. Thus, picking up that vote in the middle is like getting two votes for the price of one; the vote you take away from your opponent and the vote you pick up for your candidate.
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Around the Horn

Kitty's celebrating the marriage of her son, Zappa.

Lifelike Pundits has oodles of content and a new contributor, the Professor (wait a minute, does that make me Gilligan?), who has some amusing thoughts about Lawrence Summers unfortunate comments the other day about women not being suited for higher mathematics and science. While we're on that subject, check out this post as well.

Danegerus has some thoughts about Barbara Boxer's proposed candidacy for President.

Superhawk reminds us that PJ O'Rourke is the funniest man on the planet.
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Monday, January 24, 2005
 
The Global Warming Blog Smackdown!

Wizbang linked an article on a new report on global warming, together with some dismissively skeptical comments.

Policy makers will not pass the draconian legislation the environmental movement wants because there is no pressing need to ruin the lives of millions of people on the whacky theory of the week. So the environmentalists have now created an artificial deadline to motivate policy makers. The news report even says that is why this paper was written!

Bill at InDC Journal (who voted for Bush and has always seemed reasonably conservative to me) nuked Wizbang.

Righties often complain about or snidely mock the dire proclamations of environmentalists as "junk science" trotted out for political purposes. And sometimes, they're right. But I have a problem with right-wing commentators that immediately lurch to attack stories like this in absolutist terms....

Now the odd part there is the "righties" and "right-wing commentators" part. I mean, Bill has done some great posts that certainly led me to believe that if not right-wing himself, he was at least right-wing friendly, in a "not that there's anything wrong with that" kind of way.

But back to the subject, I can absolutely see somebody being a Republican (as Bill has always appeared to me) and yet believing in global warming. I probably did back in the 1980s (although I don't remember GW being quite the bete noir that it is today). I remember looking at an almanac of Phoenix back then and noticing that almost half the hottest days in history had come in the prior 10 years, while only one of the coldest days had come in that period. However, this was before I knew about the "heat island" effect of cities, which absorb heat during the day and release it at night, preventing it from cooling off as much as it would naturally in the desert.

After reading about the heat island effect, I made a small effort to become more educated about the subject of global warming, but I always found as many contrary pieces of evidence as those that backed the theory. And it was pretty apparent that lines were forming on the dispute based on politics, with people I trust very little (Al Gore) pushing it the hardest

The other thing that was interesting is that the prescriptions sounded suspiciously familiar. An increase in taxes on gas has been a holy grail for the Left since the John Anderson campaign of 1980. For the younger set, John Anderson was one of those McCain-type Republicans who becomes enamored of denouncing the "extremists" in his party (in this case Ronald Reagan). Anderson decided to run one of those quixotic campaigns for President a la Ross Perot, and he took up as his signature issue, the idea of a 50-cent per gallon increase in gas taxes.

He rode that platform to 7% in the national electorate (and zero in the electoral college). It was not enough to help Jimmy Carter, and indeed, it is quite likely that he hurt Carter by attracting ultralibs with his gas tax. Anderson did quite well in Democrat states like Massachusetts (15.1%, ironically handing the Bay State to Reagan), Rhode Island (14.3%) and Vermont (14.9%) and not so well in Republican states like South Carolina (1.6%), Georgia (2.2%) and Mississippi (1.3%).

And since then, the gas tax has been a hot item on the left's agenda. Not surprising since it combines two things that liberals love: raising taxes and discouraging un-PC behavior. It's like the Reese's Peanut Butter Cup of politics.

As I commented over at InDC, I'll believe in GW when the libs start prescribing another solution that seems quite obvious to me. If you really believe in global warming, you have to be in favor of nuclear power, which creates no greenhouse gases as compared to gas or coal-fired power plants.
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The Reality-Based Community? Part XX

Heh, this cover is pretty funny.
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If You Think Our Media Hate Bush....

Get a gander at what one columnist in Australia thinks:

George Bush's second inaugural extravaganza was every bit as repugnant as I had expected, a vulgar orgy of triumphalism probably unmatched since Napoleon crowned himself emperor of the French in Notre Dame in 1804.

The little Corsican corporal had a few decent victories to his escutcheon. Lodi, Marengo, that sort of thing. Not so this strutting Texan mountebank, with his chimpanzee smirk and his born-again banalities delivered in that constipated syntax that sounds the way cold cheeseburgers look, and his grinning plastic wife, and his scheming junta of neo-con spivs, shamans, flatterers and armchair warmongers, and his sinuous evasions and his brazen lies, and his sleight of hand theft from the American poor, and his rape of the environment, and his lethal conviction that the world must submit to his Pax Americana or be bombed into charcoal.


That's just about the most over-the-top thing I've read this year. It has everything that marks it as moonbattery of the first degree:

1. Refers to Bush as a chimp.
2. Mentions the smirk.
3. Mentions neo-cons.
4. Bush steals from the poor.
5. Bush rapes the environment.
6. Everybody who doesn't agree will be bombed.

Hat Tip: Longtime KH reader from down under, Grant.
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Say It Ain't So! Posted by Hello
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Ankle Biting Pundits Launches!

Our good friends from the election season, Patrick Hynes and the Writing Partner (renamed the Bulldog Pundit) have launched their new website (calling it a blog seems insufficient). One wonders how they'll get along together the next two weeks however, as Pat's a Patriots fan, and the BDP is an Eagle-holic.
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Sunday, January 23, 2005
 
Conference Championships

As predicted here, Philly and New England advanced. I won't crow over that a lot; after all, both teams were favored.

The good: As usual, the teams with the better passer rating won. McNabb (111.5) and Brady (130.5) outdueled Vick (45.5) and Roethlisberger (78.1). If you're keeping track, the higher-rated passer has now won every game except one (9-1).

The bad. Two consecutive hideous coaching decisions by Jim Mora, Jr. Third and 10k early in the fourth, shotgun formation, you try the draw? This leads to fourth and 8 at the Philly 37, down by 10 early in the fourth quarter, you've got to go for it. Instead Mohr punts it into the end zone for a net 17 yard gain. Three plays and a first down later, the Eagles are past the 37.

The Upshot: As usual, those of us who've been contending that Brady's really something special and not just a guy who lucked into a system, are seeing him make the Super Bowl. Roethlisberger had a brutal day, but he comes out with a 14-0 record as a regular season quarterback and 1-1 in the playoffs. Not bad for a rookie.

Vick got a horrendous vote of no confidence from his coach on the two bad plays highlighted above. He's the highest paid player in the league and you don't give him two cracks at it late in the game?

My guess is the Patriots are favored by 5 in the Super Bowl. At this point, I gotta figure they'll win going away. And if that happens, Brady moves into the inner ring of NFL QBs with 3 titles or more: Starr (5), Montana (4), Bradshaw (4), Herber (4), Luckman (4), Graham (3), Unitas (3) and Aikman (3), and he would do it at a younger age than any of the others in the Super Bowl era. Brady's 28, Aikman was 29, Bradshaw 30 and Montana 32.
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Steyn Nails It

A few days ago, I covered the rather amusing David von Drehle article on his trip to the Red Sea over at Kerry Haters.

Mark Steyn targets the same passage that tickled me.

But in the middle of his dispatch was this quote from Joyce Smith of Coalgate, Okla.: "When Kerry said he was for abortion and one-sex marriages, I just couldn't see our country being led by someone like that."

Von Drehle added: ''Later, I double-checked what Kerry had said on those subjects. During his campaign, he opposed same-sex marriage and said that abortion was a private matter.''

If the point is that Red Staters are ignorant, double- or even triple-checking John Kerry isn't the best way to demonstrate it. Insofar as I understand it, Kerry's view on abortion was that, while he passionately believes life begins at conception, he would never let his deeply held personal beliefs interfere with his legislative program. On gay marriage, likewise. That's why gay groups backed Kerry and why von Drehle's media buddies weren't running editorials warning that a Kerry presidency would end "a woman's right to choose": They understood his deeply passionately personally deep personal passionate beliefs were just an artful but meaningless formulation designed to get him through election season. Message: If Kerry's elected, abortions will continue and gay marriage will happen and he'll be cool with both. Joyce Smith understood that. Von Drehle seems vaguely resentful that she wasn't dumb enough to fall for the spin cooked up by Kerry's hairsplitters and enthusiastically promoted by his media cheerleaders.
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Dowd at Her Worst

Is there anybody out there who finds this witty?

Some of the same advisers who filled Mr. Bush's brain with sugary visions of a quick and painless Iraq makeover did mean the speech to be literal; they are drawing up military options for the rest of the Middle East. Once again, the lovable and malleable president seems to be soaking up the martial mind-set of those around him, almost like ... a sponge.

SpongeBush SquarePants!


One of the key elements of humor is surprise. Dowd demonstrates continually that she has no concept of this fact.
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