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Saturday, May 21, 2005
 
Fools and Their Money

The latest to cash in on liberal lunacy appears to be George Galloway.

He has returned to Britain from his barnstorming appearance on Capitol Hill with what his associates claim is a firm offer of a two-week lecture series in America.

One friend said that Galloway could now set himself up as a successor to Michael Moore, whose documentary, Fahrenheit 911, became a lightning conductor for enemies of President George W Bush.


I said all along I was happy with all the money Michael Moore made; it was that much less for Democratic candidates.
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Honoring the Medal of Honor Winners

Nice little story about a guy who's dedicated himself to visiting the gravesites of winners of the Congressional Medal of Honor, and checking to see if there's mention of the award on the gravestone.

Here are some interesting Medal of Honor facts:

Congress created it in 1861 and has revised and toughened its terms over the years. By far, the most were awarded for service during the Civil War - 1,522, not counting 893 that were revoked during a strenuous review that was undertaken in 1917 after many veterans feared the granting of medals had gotten out of hand. Among those who lost their medals were the 29 soldiers in President Abraham Lincoln's funeral guard.

By World War I, the medal had attained the special significance it holds today. Only 124 Americans received the medal for valor during that war, compared with 424 granted for service during the Indian Wars of the late 1800s.

Since then, the honor roll is as follows: World War II, 464 medals; Korea, 131; Vietnam, 245; Somalia, two; Iraq, one.

The last was awarded posthumously to Army Sgt. Paul R. Smith, who protected his unit at Baghdad Airport on April 4, 2003, by firing a .50-caliber machine gun at attackers until he was fatally wounded.


We covered Sgt. Smith here and here.
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Loved This Bit

In Christopher Hitchens' evisceration of George Galloway:

In a small way--an exceedingly small way--this had the paradoxical effect of making me proud to be British. Parliament trains its sons in a hard school of debate and unscripted exchange, and so does the British Labour movement. You get your retaliation in first, you rise to a point of order, you heckle and you watch out for hecklers. The torpid majesty of a Senate proceeding does nothing to prepare you for a Galloway, who is in addition a man without embarrassment who has stayed just on the right side of many inquiries into his character and his accounting methods. He has, for example, temporarily won a libel case against the Daily Telegraph in London, which printed similar documents about him that were found in the Oil Ministry just after the fall of Baghdad. The newspaper claimed a public-interest defense, and did not explicitly state that the documents were genuine. Galloway, for his part, carefully did not state that they were false, either. The case has now gone to appeal.

When I visited England during my college years in 1976, one of the classes we took was instructed by a Labour MP, who was on occasion able to get us into Parliament to observe it in session. What immediately struck me the first time was the biting, sarcastic way that speakers were treated, with catcalls and derisiveness. If somebody from the Tory side said anything vaguely patriotic, the Labour MPs would cynically humm "Rule Brittania", while a Labour MPs musings about the common man might get a few bars from the "Internationale" from the Conservatives. It was like a particularly rowdy high school class full of very smart and cynical kids.

Galloway gets this description:

He had had to resign as the head of a charity called "War on Want," after repaying some disputed expenses for living the high life in dirt-poor countries. Indeed, he was a type well known in the Labour movement. Prolier than thou, and ostentatiously radical, but a bit too fond of the cigars and limos and always looking a bit odd in a suit that was slightly too expensive. By turns aggressive and unctuous, either at your feet or at your throat; a bit of a backslapper, nothing's too good for the working class: what the English call a "wide boy."

Uriah Heep, in other words.
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My Ten Favorite Books--Updated!

Now you have to understand that unlike a lot of Americans my age, I dedicated some time in my teens to reading the classics, and when I say the classics I mean the books listed on the backs of Classics Illustrated comics. That's a pretty good list, although, of course, skewed with action books to appeal to young men.

I hasten to add that my opinions are based on how I felt about the book at the time, not necessarily how I would feel about it now.

1. The Count of Monte Cristo. Dumas' classic tale of revenge, set against the backdrop of post-revolutionary France. Edmund Dantes is thrown into jail, denounced by three men who want his job, his girl, and his silence. After many years he escapes the jail and becomes a wealthy man. He seeks down his three accusers and avenges himself with amazingly intricate and fascinating plots against them.

2. Crime and Punishment. Doestoyevsky's warning about the dangers of nihilistic thought seemed especially apropos to a young man growing up in the era of Charles Manson and the Weather Underground.

3. Leave it to Psmith. Wodehouse's masterpiece, the linchpin to the Blandings Castle series. The flowerpot theme is developed; the scene will be mentioned in every Blandings Castle book to follow.

4. Men Against the Sea. The sequel to Mutiny on the Bounty, it tells the tale of what happened to Captain Bligh and those on the Bounty who declined to rebel, and their thousands of miles' journey to civilization in a large rowboat.

5. Treasure Island. The first book I ever re-read.

6. Gone with the Wind. I've said on many occasions that this is the great American novel, disrespected by many because it's "just" a romance. But it spawned an entire genre of fiction as well as one of the greatest movies of all time, and is a terrific read. Scarlett is a classic character, flawed and ruthless but admirable in her determination.

7. Bertie & Jeeves (pick them all). Funniest stuff ever written. Most first person characters are earnest and smart. Wodehouse had the genius to create a silly young man as his narrator.

8. Dune. Frank Herbert's novel of intergalactic intrigue, set against a desert planet where every droplet of water is precious.

9. Sherlock Holmes (pick one). I have never outgrown him.

10. Lord of the Rings trilogy. I think you've heard of this one. Read it in 9th & 12th grades. It would be interesting to pick it up again now that I've seen the movies.

Other books that didn't quite make the cut, but are great: Tai-Pan (Clavell), anything else by Doestoyevsky or Dumas, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress (Heinlein), Stand on Zanzibar (Brunner), the Flashman novels (Frasier). Probably five other books that I'll think of the minute after I post this.

Your favorites? If you list them on your blog, put a link in the comments and I'll update my post to link to it.

Update: Kitty's list is up. I'll admit, I only recognized three of the books, and have only read two of them (Angela's Ashes and The Godfather).

Rachel's list is up as well. I'd definitely go with "The Wind in the Willows" as a book that electrified me the first time I read it.
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Friday, May 20, 2005
 
A Long Post over At Lifelike

On the Newsweek debacle and the dangers of ascribing blame to Newsweek for the riots that followed their blunder.
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Joke Time

The Nudnik File explains how to beg in Rome.

Ya Libnan has a morality test.

The Man has a new photo caption contest over at GOP & The City. Sing it, Pinko!

Twenty Major Muses on the lack of Irish Superheroes and comes up with some suggestions. (Strong language warning).
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Autistic Son

Graham Lester tells what it's like:

When we go for a walk, I follow him like a Buddhist monk following some enlightened Master. I can’t reason with him. I have to follow his lead, and only intervene to prevent him from getting into trouble. Every time I turn my back, he’s putting some new plant in his mouth.

Graham's blog is one of the most fascinating out there, because he's interested in (and fairly knowledgable about) virtually everything under the sun.
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My Celebrity Girlfriends--Updated!

Came across this one at Tim Worstall's. Enter your birtdate and the website calculates your perfect celebrity matches based on biorhythms. My top five:

1. Tilda Swinton
2. Nancy Lee Grahn
3. Kathy Bates
4. Crystal Gayle
5. Sheena Easton

Hmmm. Next time I may try lying about my age.

Update: Mr Right did even worse. As I pointed out in the comments, they say he's only 4% intellectually compatible with her, so there was at least one compliment in the comparison.
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On the Other Side

Here's a revealing article on attitudes of the Vietnam-era press:

Pham was able to use his position at Time to spy for the North Vietnamese. Among his "accomplishments" was playing a key role in identifying targets for the Viet Cong preparatory to their savage Tet offensive, which killed thousands of people (and during which the US Embassy was attacked) and chauffeuring one of the key planners around Saigon before the launch of the attack.

Pham’s cover was never blown during the war, and he was rewarded with a promotion to general in the North Vietnamese army. What is telling are Bass's interviews with American correspondents regarding Pham. Despite thousands of Americans and South Vietnamese killed or wounded with the help of this traitor, the American journalists uniformly praise and admire Pham.
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Michael Gallaugher Disappoints

And he's happy about it!
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A Hero Passes

Jose M. Lopez, a WWII Congressional Medal of Honor Winner, has died of cancer.

Here are the details on his heroism at the Battle of the Bulge:

Lugging a heavy machine gun, Sgt. Lopez climbed into a shallow, snow-covered hole that left everything above his waist exposed. He heard the rumbling of a tank, which he figured was American; an Allied soldier a few hundreds yards away had failed to signal him of approaching danger.

When he saw the German Tiger tank come into sight and the horde of German foot soldiers around it, he thought of dozens of his men just a few hundred yards away. Aiming at the soldiers around the tank, he killed 10 of them. That prompted the Tiger tank to fire rather recklessly in his direction. It took three shell blasts to knock Sgt. Lopez over, and he suffered a concussion.

He nevertheless repositioned himself to prevent enemy soldiers from outflanking him, resetting his gun and killing 25 more Germans.

Allowing time for his comrades to retreat to a safer position, he then dashed through the dense and protective forest and avoided contact with a cascade of enemy small-arms fire.


We salute you, Mr Lopez!

Hat Tip: Fred Schoeneman
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The Decline of the Democrats

Graphically plotted over at Danegerus.
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Look Who's John Hawkins' Website of the Day!

Why, it's none other than Kitty Litter, written by our favorite blogger!

Congratulations, Kitty!
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Thursday, May 19, 2005
 
Couldn't Resist Running the Numbers

On this story about a principal who agreed to eat worms if the kids in his school achieved a goal of reading 100 million words. Now I'm a big fan of the idea of trying to encourage kids to read, and I know that there are some kids who won't read anything. But the story says that there are 293 kids in the school, so that's about 340,000 words per child. If we estimate that a typical children's book runs about 50,000 words that works out to be a little less than 7 books per child.

I would have done that in a week. But then I was a bookworm from the moment I learned to read.
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Blog Stuff

I removed Red Line Rants and Wired Pig from the blogroll because of lack of activity; it's a shame because they were both interesting blogs. Lots of folks have fallen by the wayside in the wake of the election, possibly because of the sharp decrease in traffic. I may have avoided it because with the Kerry Haters blog I anticipated a substantial decline once Nuancy Boy went back to being the Junior Senator from Massachusetts.
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Bibles Shredded! Michael Gallaugher and La Shawn Barber Go On Rampage, Killing 18

From CNS:

Bibles found in the possession of visitors to Saudi Arabia are routinely confiscated by customs officials, and in some cases copies allegedly have been put through a paper shredder, according to religious rights campaigners.

Riots were organized by notable Christian bloggers like Michael Gallaugher and La Shawn Barber, who whipped crowds into a frenzy. Atheistic bloggers were hoisted on digital crucifixes. When the carnage ended, 18 non-Christian bloggers or their websites were dead.
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Is Hillary Clinton the Editor of In the Right Place?

Time for us right-wing bloggers to circle the wagons; one of our own is under attack. Personally, I think Mr Right's article was correct, even if it was factually inaccurate. There have been literally dozens of reports of Hillary bedding down with Bigfoot; does it matter that this particular incident never happened?
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Moron The Pepsi CEO

Lotta focus on the middle-finger comment (which to be honest with you, was stupid and I'm sure made some people uncomfortable). But get this part where she talks about an experience with "The Ugly American".

A U.S. businesswoman was recently in Beijing, China, on an international training assignment for a luxury hotel chain. The chain was rebranding an older Beijing hotel. As such, the toilets in the hotel had yet to be upgraded. There were no porcelain commodes, just holes in the floor. Until recently this was the standard procedure in China.

In the hotel's bar, the woman overheard a group of five American businessmen loudly making fun of the hotel's lavatory facilities. As the drinks flowed, the crass and vulgar comments grew louder and actually took on an angry, jingoistic tone. While these Americans couldn't speak a word of Chinese, their Chinese hosts spoke English very well... and understood every word the men were saying.

And we wonder why the world views many Americans as boorish and culturally insensitive.


Now I'm sorry, but if I were a businessman staying at a hotel in Beijing, I would be quite upset if the bathroom facilities were that, err, crappy, and I wouldn't hesitate to let my displeasure be known. Yeah, maybe it's a little classless to be making jokes about it over drinks in the bar, but still, there's no sense pretending that those kinds of accomodations are fine, we'll just learn how to squat like you folks do. Sheesh!
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Obligatory Star Wars Post

Like everybody else, I was blown away by the first three Star Wars movies (as they were released), and considerably less impressed with The Phantom Menace. I never did end up seeing the last movie, and from what I hear I didn't miss much. I doubt if I will end up seeing the new one, at least not until it's on DVD.

The movie is of course getting some attention for the political subtext, which James Pinkerton describes here:

He compares George W. Bush to Darth Vader. In a line that the critics are raving about, Anakin/Vader says, "If you're not with me, you're my enemy." That's a clear play on President Bush's famous line from his speech to Congress on Sept. 20, 2001: "Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists." So there you have it: In Lucas' imagination, America is the evil empire.

Now of course the line isn't that specific to Bush (anybody remember the liberal mantra, "If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem"), but Lucas has gone ahead and stated that was his intent.

My take: It's just another part of the publicity machine. Lucas has got the political columnists and bloggers writing about his movie, which is the goal. He'll probably get better turnout from liberals because of the buzz and I suspect most Bush supporters will either go or not based on their existing degree of interest in the Star Wars franchise, not on the supposed political message.
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Media Tries to Make Newsweek Story All About White House Response

Can you say, circle the wagons? Hugh Hewitt discusses his on-air interview with Terry Moran.

But more than anything else, listeners and emailers reacted negatively to the arrogance that seeped from almost every answer Moran gave and to the press corps's hostility to the president and to the idea that the president's spokesman could legitimately call upon--not order, but urge--Newsweek to do more to reverse the damage done by their story.

Lefty Joshua Micah Marshall says Bush is trying to turn the Newsweek affair into another Rathergate.

Here we have Scott McClellan, the president's press secretary, specifically demanding further disavowals of the story from Newsweek, even after errors were corrected. Indeed, as of yesterday morning, the White House continues to demand that Newsweek write one or more articles praising the U.S. military's treatment of terror-related detainees, as the price it must pay for getting out from under the debacle.

Those demands should trouble anyone. The White House is not a party at interest in this case. Perhaps the people who have been falsely accused are. Perhaps the Pentagon could demand an apology if the story turns out to be false. Or the Army. But not the White House. It is only involved here inasmuch as the story is bad for it politically.


Well, according to some sources, even as Newsweek was officially disavowing the story, they were telling people around Washington that the story was good. And the lefty bloggers and the rest of the media have spent much of the week recirculating old stories about Korans in the crapper. So you can see why the administration might want Newsweek to be a little more emphatic in its renunciation of the story. But the press is taking this as an "us against them" situation.

John Hawkins has more. I have a hunch that the media are going to make Newsweek's problems worse.
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Wednesday, May 18, 2005
 
Look Who's Got a Famous Brother!

It's our old buddy Superhawk at Right Wing Nuthouse! His brother asked some pretty tough (and at one point a little peevish) questions of Scott McClellan, White House Press Secretary today on the Newsweek matter, but don't expect criticism from SH (and I agree with him on that score 100%).

Hat Tip: Hugh Hewitt
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Liberal Media Bias at the Daily Planet?

In October 1963, DC Comics published Lois Lane #44, which exposed the Daily Planet for the liberal rag that it is. The story "The Death of Lana Lang" starts out with Lois and Lana battling it out for the affections of Superman. Lois threatens to kill Lana. However, they apparently patch things up and fly off in a helicopter, where they reveal their true plan:







So they pretend that Lois had killed Lana, who secretly hides out on Vulture Island while the trial is on-going, and plans to rescue her friend at the last minute by coming forward to prove she had not been killed after all. Lois is indeed sentenced to death. Of course, as is almost cliche in these stories, something goes wrong (Lana has a boating accident while returning from the island and is knocked unconscious), and it looks like Lois will actually be executed. Fortunately Superman saves the day (with a little help from mermaid Lori Lemaris), and at the end, Lois and Lana celebrate as the "barbaric custom" is banned in Star City.

However, DC did not get away with it scott-free. Check out this letter to the editor, which appeared a few issues later:




I agree to a certain extent with both the editor and Mrs Burke on this one. I do think Lois' opposition to the death penalty was largely just a plot device to create an interesting story. However the bit about "most people" considering capital punishment a "barbaric custom" does seem a bit over the top.

Crossposted to Silver Age Comics
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Looks Like I Was Wrong

A few weeks ago, I wrote about a new Marvel comic book that was being published to say thank you to our troops. I expressed some skepticism about the project, given that Marvel has done some fairly leftist storylines in the recent past.

However, I have now read the comic and I have to admit they played it relatively straight. I was a little disappointed that the "We support the troops" message was nowhere in the actual story or art. A couple soldiers do appear early in the story, but they're mostly there to ask questions so that Reed Richards can look superintelligent.

The plot does have one rather oddball aspect that could be construed as anti-military. The story is that a spaceship has been found that had crashed millenia ago in the tropics, and the Fantastic Four and the Avengers (and Spiderman and Wolverine) are opening it up to see what's inside. The occupants emerge and begin attacking them immediately.

Reed: "The blue skin and iconography leads (sic) me to believe this might be Kree."

Captain America: "I was thinking the same thing. The warrior attitude."

Then again, later on Iron Man says, "We are warriors, like you, for the human race."

Overall, not a terrific comic (the ending is particularly dull). But at least they left out the anti-American, anti-military crap they've put in some other books.
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Get Jim Lampley On This!

Polipundit notes that Villaraigosa was projected to win by 24 percentage points in the LA Mayoral election, but only won by 18 percentage points. It must be Diebold!
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A Thought On Blogging

Back in the 1970s, the words that every businessman dreaded hearing from his secretary was "Sir, there's a crew here from 60 Minutes. Mike Wallace wants to interview you." Nowadays it's, "Ma'am, I have one of the gentlemen from Power Line on the phone."
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Harper's Tries to Get Into the Riot-Causing Act

Looks like they got the wrong message from the Newsweek story:

We were not so sad when we were tortured. But when they insulted Islam it was really very difficult. They would come into the cell and search our belongings. They would pick up the Holy Koran and go through it page by page like they were looking for something. We didn’t understand what they were saying while they did this. Then they would throw the Holy Koran on the ground or drop it in the latrine. This made us very upset. They searched our cells every day, sometimes many times a day.

Note the sourcing on this one:

From an interview with a twenty-one-year-old Afghan man whose name is withheld for his protection, conducted last summer in Gardez by Daniel Rothenberg, an American human-rights researcher.
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The Riddler Passes




Frank Gorshin dead at 72. I've always felt that the producers of the 1960s Batman show had him appear in the debut episode rather than the Joker (who was by far, the more important Batman villain) because his characterization was so superb. Glad to hear that unlike many actors who resented being overly identified with one role, Gorshin appreciated his good fortune:

"It really was a catalyst for me," Gorshin recalled in a 2002 Associated Press interview. "I was nobody. I had done some guest shots here and there. But after I did that, I became a headliner in Vegas, so I can't put it down."

He had the perfect laugh and played the Riddler as balanced on the knife edge of sanity.
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Early Indicator

During the election campaign, one of my blogging secret weapons at Kerry Haters was Yahoo News. Every couple hours I would search for news on Kerry. The best thing was that they would also show the latest news pictures for Le Fraude, which was how we got such excellent pics. Of course, it helped that Kerry liked to be photographed doing stupid stuff.

Anyway, a quick way to judge where a politician is at is how many news photographs you can find of him. President Bush has 1,476 photos under his news section. Hillary Clinton checks in with 27. And John Kerry has seven, of which one is a picture of James Taylor performing at an election night concert for Kerry and another of which simply has Le Fraude in the background while Hillary is the focus.
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Ten Things I've Never Done Before

Rachel suggested this one:

10. Driven more than 800 miles in one trip. When I moved from San Francisco to Phoenix, I packed up all my stuff in a rental truck, attached a tow-dolly to transport the car, and made it down here in one very long day. Still the longest drive of my life.

9. Finished reading Ulysses. One of the few books I've never been able to slog my way through, and I read Moby Dick in the unabridged version.

8. Spent a day hiking through the woods or the desert and felt like I'd wasted my time.

7. Been south of the Equator. Acapulco was the closest I've come.

6. Played anything other than blackjack and slots at a casino. I don't like slots but I did have to play them once when I was holding a machine in a crowded casino (they actually had lines behind most of the marchines) for my mother. I bought $20 worth of dollar tokens and fed them slowly, and on the fourth one I won $65. Finished out the twenty and by then my mom had arrived. So I'm up on slots and will be for life.

5. Driven an SUV. I've ridden in many, but can't recall taking the wheel at any time. I have driven trucks on many occasions.

4. Mooned anyone who didn't deserve it.

3. Read any series of books in order. I'm a big fan of series fiction, have been ever since I started the Hardy Boys back in 3rd grade. But I've always read whatever book I could put my hand on in any series, from the Bertie & Jeeves novels of PG Wodehouse to the Hornblower saga to Flashman. I've always wanted to organize a series and pore through it in the way it was written, but never quite found the time.

2. Shot a hole-in-one. I have hit the pin twice and came excruciatingly close (two inches) on about 15th hole I ever played. Never ended up closer thousands of holes later. I did come within 3 feet of a double-eagle one time, which is far rarer than a hole-in-one. I crushed my drive and then banged a three wood just to the right of the pin.

1. Gotten up on a unicycle. Tried a couple of times briefly and probably could do it with an afternoon's practice as I have good balance.

BTW, of the ones on Rachel's list, I've done 9,8,7,6,5,4, and 1, but the only one I'm likely to do again is #5, shoot a gun. I'm a good shot and try to take some target practice every couple years.
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John Hawkins Slams Andrew Sullivan

Andrew's getting beaten like a bongo drum these days. In the past I've stood up for him on the basis that while he obviously disliked President Bush, he still qualified as a conservative. However, these days I'm not sure that's true anymore. He highlights every torture allegation, repeating the wildest claims by terrorists' lawyers as if they were unimpeachable sources.

I like this bit on Andrew's fascination with Abu Ghraib, which continues unabated:

And the pundits like Sullivan who are still fixated on it? They come across like diehard fans of some eighties hair band -- and they just won't shut up about how they once had a 5 minute long conversation with the lead singer in a Philadelphia Waffle House -- which is part of the reason so many people are telling them, "Sorry to cut you short, but I have somewhere else to be"...
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Tuesday, May 17, 2005
 
But Did They Have Bobble-Head Days?

A series of finds unearthed at a previously unknown Roman amphitheatre in Chester suggest the habits of sports fans have not changed in almost two millennia, archaeologists said yesterday.

Milling about outside the ground, spectators picked up fast food on the way to their seats. Stalls offered cheap souvenirs of the fearsome encounters and feats of physical prowess that took place in front of thousands of fans.
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Over at Molten Thought

Our buddy Teflon has a truly snarkerrific term for the news media in the middle of his unique take on the Newsweek story.

Why on Earth do you think our brave soldiers despise the Hair Helmet Hamas?

Hair Helmet Hamas? That's just plain superb!
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Diamondbacks on Pace to Set Record Turnaround

Last year, the Detroit Tigers made a sudden and sharp improvement. After winning only 43 games in 2003, they improved to 71 wins, a turnaround of 28 games. When they started out strong, I thought I'd go back and check to see what the single greatest turnaround in the history of major league baseball had been. The answer was the 1998-1999 Arizona Diamondbacks, who had improved from 65-97 in their inaugural 1998 campaign, and put the hammer down to 100-62 their second season.

The interesting thing is that they have a decent chance to break their own record this year. In 2004, the D-Backs went 51-111. To break their own mark, they would need to go 87-75 this season. Their current mark is 23-16, so for the rest of the season they need to go 64-59, which does not seem at all implausible.
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Some Funny Stuff

Point Five notes that Hitler has now dropped to #7 on what I would call the "Most Commonly Compared to Hitler" List.

(Seen at Wizbang)

Mr Right has Newsweek's next big scoop; Hillary's affair with Bigfoot! Update: Tragic Consequences!

Buckley F. Williams has a look at one of the less-remarked consequences of the Newsweek story.

And Hunter Thompson speaks to us from beyond the grave. The good news is there are computers in Hell, the bad news is that they're Macs and the only websites you can reach are the Huffington Post and Wonkette.
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Darthur Chrenkoff?

An open letter to George Lucas. The Force is strong in this one!
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How Bad Is the Huffington Post?--Updated

Their breakout superstar blogger is Jim Lampley, who's back today with one of those paranoid nutty posts that we've all come to appreciate:

It's excruciating on a day-to-day basis to have to endure the social divisiveness, elitist arrogance and blatant media control of creeping fascism in America. But each step in the neoconservative push to remake the country in their prescribed image plays a little further into the hands of reasonable progressive political thought. Five years ago I began telling my friends that George W. Bush and company would provide the greatest stimulus to liberal momentum since 1968. Now they are following the script perfectly, substantiating and confirming all my eager expectations about backlash.

Heh, that liberal momentum really worked out great from 1968 onwards, didn't it Jim? The Democrats have won three presidential elections since then, while the Republicans have won seven. Oddly enough, in the ten prior presidential elections, the Democrats had won seven and lost three. For a sports announcer, Lampley certainly has a curious idea of momentum. Maybe he got it from Joe Lieberman?

More thoughts on how bad the Huffington Post is.

Hat Tip: Right Wing News

Update: John Ruberry pointed me to this bio of Lampley. Pretty much what you would expect from a glamor boy--three marriages, three divorces and an admission that he's "paid for" two abortions. I was disappointed to learn that he read the Chip Hilton books as a kid; they were part of my childhood as well.
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Jeff Gannon Update

Byron York summarizes the lefty bloggers "big" catch of the year and how the story is being flogged by morons like John Conyers and Louise Slaughter.

“As time passed, Gannon came to seem, to at least some of the [left-wing] bloggers, as more like a freelance zealot than the linchpin of some much larger conspiracy,” Margolick and Gooding write. “They now admit that for them Gannon emerged as less a target in and of himself and more of the instrument for venting rage.”

Hmmmm, I would be interested in seeing who among the lefty bloggers agrees with that statement. I suspect John Aravosis is not on board.
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Name that Scandal

I'm a little late to this party, but our buddies at Ankle-Biting Pundits have a contest to name the Newsweek scandal. Flush-gate? Koran-asaurus? Izzy's Folly? Ah, heck, you can see why I haven't submitted a suggestion. But if you're creative, here's a good chance to get 15 minutes of blogger fame.
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Define Polite?

While searching Technorati for posts on Karl Rove's plot to destroy Newsweek, I came across Echidne of the Snakes, a blog that has not lacked for honors on the lefty side of the blogosphere, with multiple Koufax Award nominations (Sandy Koufax being a lefty pitcher; get it?). Oddly though, the only award it has actually won was for the Most Polite Political Blog of 2004.

Now, Most Polite is a rather relative term. Here's an example of Echidne's politeness:

That this country is run by a man who was selected, then possibly elected; who doesn't read, who doesn't know history, who cannot speak English or any other language, come to that; who takes pride in his intellectual laziness and his lack of diplomacy, who pads his crotch as much as he pads his lies; who thinks pleadings of mercy from someone to be executed are funny, who seems to completely lack the empathy button in that square box on his back, who thinks the square box might be a hot line to god, who doesn't think much at all; who reads the Pet Goat with glazed-over eyes when the country is attacked and who then bravely goes to the site of the attack several days later, who is not even informed when the country might have been attacked again because he was biking in an area where biking is forbidden and who wants the Commander of the Armed Troups to be informed about any f**king thing?

That this man made up a reason to go to war, that thousands of people then died, that this man might even now be plotting to invade yet more countries, and all the time bin Laden is free as a bird.

That a minority, a small group of fundamentalist wingnuts, have grabbed the power in this country and are telling me to live according to their inane interpretation of morals and ethics, that they are allowed to get away with this by others who are supposed to be saner, that we all are supposed to respect the fact that these wingnuts are religious, respect it, even when they plot to lock me up in a kitchen all silent and submissive, respect it, even when they urge for the overthrow of the U.S. Constitution, just keep on respecting, yessir, to accept that this earth was created a few thousand years ago, to accept that Adam and Eve were chased out of paradise by dinosaurs, that they then had children who busily had enough incest to create all of us though of course women were created to be permanently guilty for the snake thing and gays should not exist and so on. But f**king respect!


Can we say the obvious here? If Echidne were a Republican blogger, we'd only characterize her as polite compared to Jeff Goldstein.
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Monday, May 16, 2005
 
Latest Newsweak Theory from the Reality-Based Community

It's that Karl Rove set them up. Yep, they sense the power behind the throne. It was all a Rovian plot.

Rove got Jimmy Carter elected. He was really driving Ted Kennedy's car when it ran off the bridge. And I hear that if you slow down the Zapruder film, you can see that Rove was directing the assassination of JFK. Dean's scream? That was Karl Rove doing a particularly clever bit of ventriloquism.

Update: John Hawkins has more.
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Save the RINO?

Here's an interesting Mark Steyn column. Discussing the lethargy affecting the British Tory Party, Steyn notes:

I’ve remarked before on the Canadianisation of British politics. In Canada as in Britain, two of the three national parties are left of centre. So is the principal separatist party, in Quebec as in Scotland. And the token right-of-centre party spends much of its time either lecturing itself or being lectured by the media on its need to move towards the ‘political centre’ in order to make itself barely distinguishable from the other parties. Michael Heseltine was tilling this barren soil the other day, explaining to Radio Five Live’s Brian Hayes why the present method of electing the Tory leader needs to be changed: a lot of these activists were awfully hard-working people, nothing wrong with them and all that, but MPs were by definition better suited to understanding what it took to reach out to the ‘centre ground’ where British elections were won. What an inspiring message to the party’s base: leave it to us chaps to figure out which squishy unprincipled trimmer is best suited to selling you out.

As a general proposition, the Heseltine thesis is doubtful: successful conservatives don’t move towards the ‘political centre’. They move the political centre towards them. That’s what Thatcher and Reagan both did. Whereas if you move towards the political centre, all you do is move the centre. If Labour is at 1 on the scale and the Tories are at 9, and their focus groups tell them to move to 5, they have ensured that henceforth the centre will be 3, and they’ll be fighting entirely on the Left’s terms and the Left’s issues. There’s been quite enough of that already in this last election, with Michael Howard challenging Blair only on the precise degree of ‘additional resources’ we need to lavish on wasteful state activities. It’s hard to see quite what the Tories could do to prostrate themselves more abjectly before the clapped-out ‘centrist’ consensus, except perhaps to replace the white male heterosexuals pledging lavish ‘additional resources’ with fetching young ethnic gays pledging lavish ‘additional resources’. That’s what the calls for ‘modernisation’ seem to boil down to.


There are two basic points of view on how opposition parties should comport themselves if they want to get back into the majority. The side that Steyn endorses is what I call the Tug of War theory. Both sides are energentically engaged in trying to pull the debate into their territory. If you just yank on the rope (the voters) hard enough, they'll come over to your side.

The other side was best argued by Richard Nixon, who noted that the secret to winning elections was to get the nomination, then run to the center as fast as you can.

Which is right? At times this blog has endorsed both viewpoints. I have argued at length that the Democrats need to stop trying to finesse their opinions on controversial topics. For example, on abortion the latest Democratic finesse (argued by John Kerry) is that it's morally wrong, but that politicians shouldn't be legislating morality. This is unfortunate for the side of the debate he nominally represents because a) I doubt strongly that John Kerry really feels abortion is morally wrong, and if he does he does not reflect the views of his supporters; and b) it cedes a major part of the argument. As Steyn puts it up above, if 1 is abortion is wrong and should be banned and 9 represents abortion is fine and should be government-paid, then moving to a 5 as Kerry did simply means that the argument will be debated from 1-5 and settled near 3, which is not where the pro-abortion folks will enjoy it.

At other times I have argued the opposite, that the problem with the Democrats is that they pay far too much attention to their radical base, that they need to repudiate the Move-Ons and the Moore-Ons in their midst.

But there is an inherent contradiction between the two arguments, and it matters a great deal which of them is right. Take for example, the case of Senator Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island. Chafee's widely considered the Riniest of the RINOs (Republicans In Name Only), and following the announcement that Chafee would not support ending the filibuster for judicial nominees, Hugh Hewitt argued the other day for supporting the Democrat in that election. If you buy the tug of war argument, then Chafee should be ousted because he is not pulling on the rope. If you buy the "run to the center" argument, Chafee is just doing what he has to in order to get reelected (IIRC he's up again in 2006).

My take is that it's a little bit of both. You need to articulate your positions and argue that they are right; the Democrats' failure to do so has cost them both in terms of advancing their side of the debate and in terms of getting elected, because the voters sense they are lying. But you also need to trim your sails occasionally and recognize that some battles are not worth fighting.

A year or two ago, I spent an afternoon trying to figure out what the most liberal state in the USA was. My conclusion was that it was a toss-up between Massachusetts (no surprise there) and its tiny neighbor, Rhode Island. So my opinion is that we're awfully lucky to have a Republican Senator from that state.

Don't get me wrong; this doesn't excuse some of the other RINOs out there. John McCain and Chuck Hagel are both from rock-ribbed Republican strongholds. It's their job to do the tugging on the rope while the guys who have to moderate their positions in order to get elected should be cut a little slack.

Yeah, it's exasperating when we've got a big vote coming up, like the nuclear option. But look at Chafee's voting record. He gets a 41 lifetime rating from the American Conservative Union. High numbers here are better, with 100 being the tops, so a 40 is not very impressive. In fact, it marks Chafee as the least conservative Republican in the Senate.

But look at the other Senator from little Rhodie, Democrat Jack Reed. His lifetime rating is an 8, and he managed to score a goose egg for 2004. Look at the other Democrats in the area. Clinton & Schumer score a 9 and a 6 lifetime, respectively. Joe Lieberman, who gets a lot of slack from the Republican side, has a lifetime rating of 17 while his fellow Connecticut Senator, Christopher Dodd has an 8. Le Fraude Kerry and Le Swimmer Ted garner ratings of 5 & 3 respectively. Jumpin' Jim Jeffords has a 25 lifetime rating, but that's bolstered by his years as a Republican; in 2003 he rated a 10 and in 2004 only a 4, lower scores for those years than his Vermont Democratic counterpart, Pat Leahy. The two other Republicans in the area, Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe (both from Maine) are rated 57 and 51 respectively; more conservative than Chafee, but not by as much as Chafee is more conservative than the Democrats in the area.

Get the point? Chafee may not look very conservative to those of us lucky enough to live in Red States, but for the Northeast he's not liberal. Yes, he will continue to frustrate us at times. But he's a darned sight better than any Democrat who would replace him (like Patrick Kennedy, for example).

As for Reagan and Thatcher, they were both incredible individuals who would in ordinary times have never been elected. They did pull on the rope quite effectively, but they both had the advantage of a public that was ready to move in their direction due to disenchantment with the other party.
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Happy Anniversary to Lorie & Hubby

If you've wanted to know what Lorie Byrd looks like, there's a wedding photo here. I just want to know what the joke was--looks like she's about to burst into laughter! ;)
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Microbe Mining Mondays

I've had some success locating newer blogs or ones that hadn't received much attention yet. Neo-neocon, Grendel's Dragon, and others were Insignificant Microbes in the TTLB Ecosystem when I first started reading them; they did not remain that way for long. And I hasten to add that they would have been successful fairly quickly even without my linking them; I'd just like to think I hastened the process a tad.

So I thought I might start a regular Microbe Mining Mondays to introduce my readers to newer blogs that are not insignificant.

First things first: I won't be linking any liberal blogs. This is just sensible; they won't get any benefit from most of my readers, and my readers won't get any benefit from most of their posts. When checking out a new blog, one of the first things I look at is the blogroll; if it's top-heavy with Daily Kos, Atrios, Crooked Timber, Juan Cole and the like, there's not much sense in my reading it.

Second, I am happy to have people suggest smaller blogs for inclusion in the MMM roundups, even their own. I won't guarantee to link everybody, but I will check every blog suggested. The main thing I am looking for are intelligent, well-written blogs that cover topics which interest me, and which are frequently updated--if you have one post in the last month, it better be as good as one of Bill Whittle's. I don't mind swearing or dirty jokes, but I generally issue a warning for my readers before directing them to a website with same, since they don't hear anything off-color here (ed--Are you kidding? You had two posts last week on horse masturbation! Yeah, but I was quoting Michelle Malkin and Hugh Hewitt).

Aunty Suzanne is quirky blog written by a woman who describes herself as a crunchy Granola conservative. Solid writing from a Catholic perspective, and her posts are like a good Italian sub; there's a little bit of everything contributing to the overall flavor.

More next week. Surfing through the microbes is tough because so many of them are simply marketing schemes.
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The Newsweek Story

There are some stories I tend not to cover here. I pretty much ignored Rathergate for the first day or two on the basis that I had no expertise to offer in typefaces and fonts, which was the focus at first. It's the same with this story, although I did immediately wonder whether it was possible to flush a Koran down the toilet. Sure would not work with one of these low-flow jobs like the one in my bathroom--more than one or two pieces of toilet paper and it's stopped up.

Tom Maguire has a link-rich roundup, as does Michelle Malkin.
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Vietnam Revisited

Neo-neocon has up the latest instalment of her terrific musings on the subject of Vietnam.

To tackle a minor point up front, Dean Esmay, in an otherwise fine post linking to NNC, makes this comment:

I have one bit of history for her: in the elections of 1972, Nixon won in a landslide. What is less well-remembered is the other landslide of that same year: the massive congressional landslide won by Democrats. For all that he won a great victory for himself, Nixon had no coattails, even reverse coattails. He didn't even try to campaign for his party that year, and while Democrats had already been in the majority they took a huge majority that year.

This is an example of memory substituting for research. The Democrats did not win a congressional landslide in 1972, they did win two more Senate seats, but they lost 13 seats in the House of Representatives. The landslide came in 1974, after Nixon's resignation over Watergate.

Anyway, back to NNC's post, she makes some wonderful points, and I'd like to recommend that you read it all. I do have one quibble though. She says:

...reports came back that the powers that be had never been committed to fighting an all-out war to win...There was also indisputably a lack of commitment, for political reasons, to the full effort that would have been necessary to win it.

True enough, but there's an explanation. There was no commitment to fighting an all-out war to win because of the fear that if we took the fight to the North Vietnamese too agressively, it would provoke the Russians into a full-scale nuclear war. This was why the war effectively was fought as a delaying, defensive action on the part of the United States.

Still, the overall article is excellent. Get this:

But I think the word "betrayal" is absolutely appropriate here, and accounts for many of the still-powerful reactions and repercussions from the Vietnam era. Because the pre-existing trust was profound, the reversal, when it came, was exquisitely sharp also. The loss of trust in our government and military had to be dealt with emotionally and cognitively, and people dealt with it in different ways. The vast majority of liberals seem to have taken that trust and re-invested it--this time in the press, who were seen as whistleblowers, the exposers of the government's lying, cheating ways. That is one way to respond to a loss of faith--by reinvesting in it something else perceived as replacing it (you might say it's somewhat analogous to starting a new relationship on the rebound). Other people had a more extreme reaction, and decided to withdraw trust from both the government and the press, and to place their trust in nothing and became cynics. Still others (leftists) reacted to the betrayal by supporting whomever and whatever was against the US. Many conservatives, on the other hand, withdrew their trust from the press, previously seen as an ally of sorts, but now perceived as an enemy. They also solidified their anger at liberals and a left seen to have ignominiously betrayed the South Vietnamese people and our nation's honor.

Now that is just superb analysis.
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Hot Air on Global Warming

Neil Collins looks at attempts to manufacture a consensus on anthropogenic (man-caused) global warming.

In his helpful, non-technical guide, he refers to a survey of 928 papers (count 'em) on climate change published between 1993 and 2003, which found that three quarters of them accepted the view that man's activities (anthropogenic, in the jargon) have had a major impact on the climate.

Amazingly, not a single one rejected it. Never mind that this is probably a greater consensus than can be found for the theory of evolution, the lack of a single dissenting voice smacks of the sort of result Nicolae Ceausescu used to get in his Romanian elections. So just what was this survey?

It is by one Naomi Oreskes, and was published in Nature last December, and it has surprised those whom Sir David might describe as fringe individuals. Among them are eminent researchers who have discovered periods in history when the Earth was hotter, even with lower levels of carbon dioxide than in today's atmosphere, and other scientists who believe that solar activity is the biggest cause of recent climate change.


We've discussed Oreskes' study before.
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The New-Cular Option

Our buddy Chris has an amusing look at the Nuclear Option he'd like to see. Of course, being a responsible blogger, I feel compelled to tut-tut and say that this is intended as humor only. No Senate Majority Leaders were harmed in the making of this montage.
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Blogging Writers

Kitty says, I write, therefore I blog, and looks at the blogs of some writers.
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Pajamas Media Interview

John Hawkins does the meet and greet with Marc Danziger of Pajamas Media. Full disclosure: I am in the process of signing up with the group.
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Best Quote on the Huffington Blog

This is great:

The swarming bloggers aren't so much attacking the enemy as gawking at the squares. And who can blame them? Watching these bigwigs try their hand at blogging is like watching that poor, pudgy Star Wars kid try out his light-saber moves in the home-video classic that saturated the Web a couple years back.

Hat Tip: Decision '08, via Polipundit
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Mesopotamiam McDermott to Face Ethics Panel?

This is good news indeed.

The McDermott case began on Dec. 21, 1996, when John and Alice Martin, two longtime Democrats from Fort White, Fla., were listening to a police scanner in their car when they picked up the voice of Rep. John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican, engaged in a conference call with House GOP leaders.
Mr. Gingrich, Mr. Boehner, then-House Majority Leader Dick Armey and then-Rep. Bill Paxon of New York were discussing a coordinated response to ethics charges against the speaker that were expected to be released that day.
The Martins had a tape recorder in their car and recorded the conversation, telling PBS' "NewsHour" program in 1997 that they sensed they were listening to "a part of history," and said they planned to give the tape to their grandchild "when he was old enough to hear it."
But the tape suggested that Mr. Gingrich was breaking a deal with the ethics committee that he not orchestrate a response to the charges.
The couple traveled to Washington and handed over the tape to Mr. McDermott, who was the ranking Democrat on the ethics committee at the time. Two days later, the New York Times ran a front-page story about how Mr. Gingrich might have violated his agreement with the panel.
Mr. McDermott, however, found himself in hot water because it is a federal offense to secretly record a telephone conversation and share the information with the public.
A federal court found that Mr. McDermott illegally distributed the tape and ordered him to pay Mr. Boehner, who filed a lawsuit against him, $60,000 in punitive damages. The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the ruling last month.
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Sunday, May 15, 2005
 
Survivor Finale

As predicted here, Tom won the grand prize; he has to go down as one of the great Survivors of all time. Ian's resignation in the last immunity challenge ranks as the most startling moment in the history of the show. I can't think of another time when I've been more surprised by something that a Survivor contestant has done intentionally, and only Mike's fall into the fire on Survivor Outback was as out of the blue. That said, Ian did put himself in the situation with his stupid comment about not knowing what he would have done had Tom not won immunity.

I loved Jolanda's take on why the younger folks in her tribe voted her off and indeed the future of the worst tribe in the history of Survivor was writ large on the Western sky at that moment. She pointed out that they were young adults who were convinced that they knew better, that they didn't need leaders, they didn't need to work hard, they were the studs facing the old folks. And for the rest of their short season, they were the "that's good enough" tribe.

One thing that they do have to work on; the men just plain kick butt too much in the challenges, to the point where the only drama is which of the men will win. Ian and Tom finished 1-2 in virtually every challenge this season. I can't think of the last time a woman won immunity. Ironically, this factor may work against the men at times since the women aren't perceived as "threats".

Personally I can't understand the fascination with Steph. She's cute and she was a tough competitor, but she was also a central part of the worst tribe ever. She did give us one of the passionate moments of the show when she said that she knew she was a target the night that Janu decided to snuff her own torch. I guess more than anything else it's that we saw so much of her due to her tribe constantly losing. Unlike some Koror members she was in every tribal immunity challenge, and of course a heck of a lot of tribal councils.

I also didn't quite get the respect accorded to Bobby Jon as supposedly the only person who was never voted off. That's a bunch of hooey; under the same standard Jenn was not voted off either. Think about it--why did they have a challenge between Bobby Jon and Steph? Because they would obviously tie twice in a voting matchup, which is exactly what happened to Jenn. And it's fine to mention that Bobby Jon was a hard worker; he was also an exceptionally dumb worker. Remember him chopping down that tree and having it remain standing because the trees overhead supported the top part? I'd guess he doesn't do a lot of crossword puzzles in his spare time.
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Thanks to The Right Place

Our buddy Mr Right at In the Right Place was kind enough to feature this blog in a "Bloglighting" post. Mr Right's doing a fine job at his blog, with some serious research projects completed already, and I was pleased to bring his work to the attention of Lorie Byrd.

If I achieve nothing else in blogging, I hope that at least I will have brought attention to some smaller-trafficked bloggers who just needed a little encouragement to continue doing the fine stuff that they do.
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Survivor Thoughts

Ian apparently blows the game by picking Tom to go with him after winning the reward challenge, after he and Tom had agreed that whoever won should take one of the women along with him. His mistake seems even more bizarre because his rationale was that he had agreed with Tom that if it was anything involving a car, he'd take Tom. But clearly the intent was that if a second car was being given away, Tom would get it, not that Tom would get to ride up the hill in Ian's new Corvette.

But then, after emphasizing the emerging women alliance (which I predicted here last week), the final vote came out the way we could have predicted weeks ago, with the civil rights lawyer, Caryn, getting the axe, and the original alliance (minus Gregg) making it to the final four.

Caryn should have embraced the female alliance when she had the chance, and overplayed her hand by trying to keep one foot in both the men's and women's camps. The men are clearly the threats in the game, with Tom seeming obviously fated to be the winner of the endurance game that always ends the immunity challenges for a season. Ergo, they had to be picked off. Indeed, had Tom not won immunity, it's likely that the women would have eliminated him from the competition.

Prediction for tonight: It's Tom. He's at once the most likely to be eliminated first, and the most likely to win it all. He will obviously have some detractors on the jury, but so will the rest of the original alliance. If he gets to take somebody to the final with him, he'll inevitably lose one vote immediately--if he takes Jenn it's Gregg, if he takes Ian it's Katie and vice-versa. But he's got a heck of an argument, since he's kicked their butts in just about every competition that doesn't involve targets. As my buddy Wayne put it, Tom can't hit anything unless he's using a firehose.
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The New Deck Chairs Are Here

For the Titanic.

New York-based Kirshenbaum Bond & Partners - whose clients include Target stores and Meow Mix cat food - proposed a hard-charging donkey blasting out of an American flag.

"The use of stars shows that the Republicans aren't the only party with patriotism," reads the firm's entry in the upcoming issue of Esquire.

Below the image is a straight-from-the-'60s slogan, "Dems: power to the people."

Several in-your-face ads based on the slogan were developed, including a poster with the imagine of a blindfolded captive who appears to be Mideastern being guarded by a U.S. soldier. Under the photo blares the message: "POWER TO KNOW WHEN NOT TO ABUSE IT," and the hard-charging donkey logo.

"Our logo conveys a Democratic Party of strength," the firm said. "The donkey is more stallion-like and less buck-toothed goofball."
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Look Who Made the Newspapers!

It's our old buddy John Ruberry, the Marathon Pundit, getting credit for his coverage of the Thomas Klocek story at DePaul University.

A longtime DePaul University instructor who argued with pro-Palestinian students at a campus activities fair last fall no longer works for the school. That much is not in dispute.

But why Thomas Klocek lost his job while other professors under fire for their statements kept theirs has created a buzz among conservative-leaning Internet blogs about free speech rights at campuses across the country.

John Ruberry, who writes the Marathon Pundit blog, started following the case after Klocek staged a news conference and appeared with his mouth taped shut.


Kudos to John, Hat Tip to Lucianne!
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Brainster in the Media

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March 16, 2005

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Cited for Breaking the Christmas in Cambodia story (at Kerry Haters):

Hugh Hewitt: KerryHaters was on this story a long time ago. How could the elite media not have asked these questions before now?

Ankle-Biting Pundits: Our friends Pat and Kitty at Kerry Haters deserve the blog equivalent of a Pulitzer for their coverage of Kerry's intricate web of lies regarding Vietnam.

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What If the Rest of the Fantastic Four Were Peaceniks?

Lefty Bloggers on Gay Witchhunt (linked by 16 blogs including Instapundit)

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