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Thursday, June 16, 2005
 
I'll Be Away Until Sunday

Heading out of town for a cousin's wedding; may be able to put up a post or two or not depending on who's bringing a laptop. In the meantime, please visit some of the wonderful people along the left sidebar, especially Lifelike Pundits.
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Is the Liberal Blogosphere Beating the Pants Off the Conservative Blogs?

Came across this topic through Conservative Grapevine yesterday but didn't have a real take on it at the time. Then this afternoon I happened to be surfing through a couple of the left-wing blogs and noticed something. Post time!

A blogger over at MyDD (moonbat territory) put up a post claiming that the left-wing blogosphere was pulling away from the right-wing blogosphere:

As I have always been prone to do, I spent much of the morning looking at the Blogads traffic rankings. Adding up the 200 blogs that are concerned with politics and either identify or have been identified with Democrats / liberals or Republicans / conservatives, I found 87 blogs that general fit into the "liberal" category and 113 blogs that fit into the conservative category. However, despite the greater number of conservative blogs, the liberal blogs totaled nearly ten million page views per week, while the conservative blogs managed just over six million. I have been tracking the comparative audiences of the two blogosphere off and on for the past nine months, and this is the largest lead for the liberal blogosphere that I have ever found. In September, the margin in favor of Democrats was 25%. In winter, it was 33%. In the spring, it was 50%. Now, it has risen to 65%. This is particularly amazing, since less than two years ago the conservative blogosphere was at least twice the size of the liberal blogosphere.

So the liberal blogosphere is beginning to pull away from the conservative blogopshere in terms of audience size. At the same time, there appear to be more conservative blogs than liberal blogs. In fact, when it comes to total number, new Republican / conservative blogs might even be outpacing new Democratic / liberal blogs. What could be the cause of this?


His conclusion is that the big right-wing blogs don't allow comments and diaries and such, while the left-wing blogs do, and that the resulting sense of community is driving traffic to the liberal blogs.

Now first of all, note the point about page views. This is a little inside blogging stuff (which seems to bore everybody except bloggers to tears), but basically there are two simple metrics for site traffic on the blogs: Unique visitors and page views. Unique visitors tracks how many individuals visit your blog, while page views counts how many total pages you see. For example if you were to come to my site, then click on one of my archive pages, then leave, you'd be counted as one unique visitor and two page views.

Now I don't know too many people who pay much attention to page views. The TTLB (which by the way has undergone quite a facelift) has two main ways of ranking blogs: by links and by traffic. The traffic metric chosen is uniques.

Anyway, here's a gander at the month-by-month site meter of a rather famous left-wing blog, Oliver Willis:




If he were shedding pounds as fast as he's shedding readers, Oliver would be svelte by now.

(Note: On all these graphs, you should ignore the June drop-off; it's solely an artifact of the month not being over yet.)

How about MyDD, the blog where this was originally posted?




Daily Kos has indeed done quite a bit better than those two:




Now let's take a look at the guys who've been getting thrashed. Let's start with Instapundit:




Power Line:




And Captain's Quarters




Okay, a couple things pop out at me from those graphs:

1. Everybody lost traffic from October to November and November to December. In a way this is no surprise. We're all talking baseball here, and after the World Series ends in early November, baseball news cools down for a couple months. Of course, baseball=politics and World Series=Presidential election.

2. Everybody rallied in January, but all three of the conservative blogs did better than MyDD or Daily Kos. Oliver Willis clearly got attention for something in January, although I don't have a clue as to what it was; that's why his traffic for the rest of the year looks so terrible.

3. Captain's Quarters is the only blog with a month in 2005 that's had more traffic than October 2004. Of course, he got half of Canada reading him in April, eh, while the Adscam thing was brewing and the press up there was under a gag order.

4. (And most important): There is some evidence from these numbers that the lefty blogs are racing ahead of the right wingers. Or rather, I would say they are not decelerating as rapidly. All of the blogs have had declines since October, but here are the percentage declines from October-May:

Oliver Willis: -58%
My DD: -74%
Daily Kos: -19%

Instapundit: -49%
Power Line: -35%
Captain's Quarters: -24%

Now of course, looking at the percentages it may not be obvious, but because Instapundit is so much bigger than the other right-wing blogs, and Daily Kos is so much bigger than the other lefties, the Koufaxes as a group only declined by 24%, while the Drysdales declined by 43%.

What's going on? I suspect there are three factors. First, it is well-known that the intensity level goes up more among party activists after a loss than a win. The winners say, well, okay now I can go back to making money, while the losers have new battles to face to limit the damage their causes take. Contributions to Planned Parenthood and the Sierra Club go up when Republicans win, and down when Democrats win.

Second, it certainly looks to me like Kos is absorbing the left-wing of the blogosphere. It's ironic that the poster at MyDD was making a big thing about them catching the righties because of their sense of community, when his community was suffering the biggest drop in traffic since the election of any of the blogs. It's quite possible that Kos' big jump since New Year's has come at the expense of many other liberal blogs.

Third, Instapundit may be losing his traffic to smaller right-wing bloggers. Certainly I suspect a lot more people go to Power Line and CQ directly these days rather than waiting to see the link from Glenn.

I'm not trying to say that this proves the original blogger's point, but I certainly started out thinking he was wrong, and had to change my mind when I looked at the numbers hard. Daily Kos has done the best and despite my loathing for that particular blog, nobody would deny that Kos has done the best job of welding his commenters and posters into a community. Oliver Willis and MyDD have made strides in that direction, but apparently not fast enough to avoid getting left at the dock.

If you rank those three conservative bloggers by sense of community, I don't think there's any doubt that Captain's Quarters is #1, Power Line #2 (since they are pretty responsive to emailers) and Instapundit #3. Not a criticism, just an observation. It's also true that's the inverse order of establishment of the blog, so maybe it's just that Instapundit has hit the wall where growth will be sluggish; the law of big numbers as Wall Street puts it.

And the sense of community may change when Pajamas Media gets rolling.

So maybe the criticism is valid, maybe it's not; certainly it does not seem to be absurd. Long-term of course, I have a hard time believing that the audience for liberalism will be larger than the audience for conservatism, regardless of how much community is established.
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Downer Street?

Tim Cavanaugh, an Iraq war opponent says that the left has finally gotten its wish, and everybody's suddenly looking into the Downing Street Memo. Unfortunately they're going to be digging for that pony a very long time:

To the extent that the Downing Street Memo had real value, it was as a meta-story. As long as we were confined to talking points about how the media were ignoring the Downing Street Memo, it was smooth sailing. In fact, the media-silence angle was the most interesting part of the story, yielding hilarious gems like Eric Boehlert's survey of newsrooms in Salon, wherein the hard-charging newshound editors at several major newspapers concede that they dropped the ball on this story because the wire services didn't explain that it was important. As potential rather than kinetic energy, the Memo had talismanic power.

But there is an upside from the Left's standpoint:

One interesting DSM bright spot has been identified by Los Angeles Times editorial page editor Michael Kinsley, who speculates that the left has shown unexpected mojo by keeping the Memo alive these many fallow weeks.

Yeah, baby!
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Moron Krugman

Power Line has two more posts on that Median Household Income column that I covered here.
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Lileks Channeling Orwell?

Today's Bleat:

When intelligent men can make such a specious observation you realize that “fascism” has ceased to mean anything at all, and exists now as an all-purpose slur, a tar-soaked brush to slap on anything you don’t like.

George Orwell (Paraphrasing): "When A calls B a fascist, about all we can infer from that is that A does not like B."
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Brainless Dick Durbin

He's getting a few minutes of fame in the blogosphere.

Mr Right says he's a glittering jewel of colossal ignorance, and has phone numbers and addresses if you want to complain about his lunatic comments.

Kitty's got your official Club Gitmo passport.
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They Really Do Hate America

Pat Hynes ascends the soapbox.

Which ties into what I wrote here.

Interestingly, we both used posts by Matt Yglesias as a starting point.
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I Wish I Had Seen This Earlier

We had a lot of Vietnam veterans reading our blog Kerry Haters (for rather obvious reasons). One of the great benefits of Kerry running for President last year was that it forced a lot of people (myself included) to come to grips with Vietnam and recognize once and for all that the truly admirable people were folks like John O'Neill and Larry Thurlow, not goofballs like Nuancy Boy (who got most of the accolades in the 1970s).

Ross Perot is promoting a Welcome Home event for Vietnam Veterans for this week and weekend. Here's the official site and here's Third Wave Dave's post on the subject, which alerted me to the event.
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Count Tancredo Out

I'd guess that getting a mental health deferment from the military during Vietnam makes one a non-starter for the presidency.

Hat Tip: Conservative Grapevine
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Random Observation

It used to be when people wandered around talking to themselves, it indicated psychosis. It still does, but now they're talking on cellphones with those ear and mike attachments.

(And that brings up another random observation. Has anybody else noticed that suddenly it's "mic" that's the contraction for "microphone" instead of "mike". Why is that? Are we all going to start riding a "bic"?)
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Gay Patriot Returns!

One of our favorite bloggers from the Kerry Haters days is back in action. You may recall for a few months we had a wanted poster of leftwing gay activist Mike Rogers here on the right sidebar. Gay Patriot did that wanted poster, then got harassed by Rogers. In solidarity I was proud to post the wanted poster (although eventually I got sick of looking at Rogers' porcine face).

Welcome back GP!
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Here's an Understatement

From a column on why felons should be allowed to vote:

Joseph Hayden and Jalil Abdul Muntaqim aren't the most sympathetic guys in the world. Hayden served 13 years in New York prisons for killing a man during an argument in Harlem in 1986. Released three years ago, he'll be on parole until 2007.

Muntaqim was convicted of shooting two police officers in the 1970s, when he belonged to the Black Liberation Army. He's doing life in an upstate prison and probably will never get out.


The columnist's rationale for allowing these pukes to vote?

But the most convincing argument against these laws is this one: What purpose do they serve?

"What does it accomplish?" asks Frances Fox Piven, a professor at the City University of New York's graduate school and an expert on American voting habits. "It's certainly not an effective form of punishment, since a lot of people don't have that kind of faith and love for the right to vote. So there's nothing to be lost, and maybe something to be gained, by making the right to vote universal."


Let's flip that around. What is gained by allowing felons to vote? Nothing either (other than helping Democrats win, which is the real point).
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Wednesday, June 15, 2005
 
How Real Men Got Information in 1940




This interrogation technique comes to us from Smash Comics #7, February 1940.
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Newsweak and Isikoff Try Again

I dunno, maybe they still figure they have a shred of credibility left with the goofballs, so they title the new "scoop" From Downing Street to Capitol Hill.

Two senior British government officials today acknowledged as authentic a series of 2002 pre-Iraq war memos stating that Saddam Hussein's nuclear weapons program was "effectively frozen" and that there was "no recent evidence" of Iraqi ties to international terrorism—private conclusions that contradicted two key pillars of the Bush administration's public case for the invasion in March 2003.

Okay, let's hit the quoted words. The term "effectively frozen" of course, means not quite frozen, and it does not mean that it didn't exist, otherwise it would use the term "nonexistent. And "no recent evidence" clearly implies that there was evidence at one time.

Second, once again, it's a British memo. If that's what the Brits thought, then it seems to me they might have a quarrel with Tony Blair, who pointed out recently that the only people who knew what Tony Blair and George Bush themselves thought were Tony Blair and George Bush.

A March 8, 2002, secret "options" paper prepared by Prime Minister Tony Blair's top national-security aides also stated that intelligence on Saddam's purported weapons of mass destruction (WMD) was "poor." While noting that Saddam had used such weapons in the past and could do so again "if his regime were threatened," the options paper concluded "there is no greater threat now than in recent years that Saddam will use WMD."

He wasn't supposed to have WMD at all. So if the intelligence was that he had WMD and wasn't using it, he was in violation. Ergo we've got our reason for going.

The options paper was written just one month before Blair met with President Bush in Crawford, Texas. According to another leaked internal memo, Blair agreed at the meeting to support a U.S.-led invasion to topple Saddam’s regime provided that “certain conditions” were met. Those conditions, according to the newly leaked memo, were that efforts be made to “construct a coalition” and “shape” public opinion; that the Israeli-Palestinian crisis was “quiescent,” and that attempts to eliminate Iraqi WMD through the return of United Nations weapons inspectors be exhausted.

Okay, we're three paragraphs into this turkey and they're trying to sell us that Blair telling Bush to "construct a coalition" is sinister? The rest is blather about how the moonbats have been pushing the Downing Street Memo.

Unbelievably lame.
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You'll Laugh Out Loud

At our buddy Chris's terrific megamix page dedicated to the lunatic now heading the DNC. (Definite volume check at work).




Got any more crazy songs? First one I thought of is Brain Damage by Pink Floyd.
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Top Ten Screwups

Captain Ed notes that Bernard Goldberg is coming out with a new book, 100 People Who Are Screwing Up America (and Al Franken Is #37), and asks for your top ten.

Here's my list, in no particular order:

Michael Moore
Markos Moulitsas Zuniga
Paul Krugman
Howard Dean
John Kerry
Justice David Souter
Al Sharpton
Jimmy Carter
David Brock
George Soros

Hmmm, that was actually rather tough. I think the first four are screwing things up because they are all encouraging the far left in America to beleive that they're part of some mainstream movement with popular support. Kerry's probably marginal at this point, but he did not do Gore depression routine, so he retains some power. Remember, the moonbat conspiracy nuts still think he won the election last year.

Souter's on the list because if he'd been a libertarian conservative the way he seemed to be when nominated much of the Supreme Court nonsense of the last 10 years could have been avoided.

Sharpton's a gimme. Carter's obviously just an annoyance domestically, but his statements are damaging to the image of the US overseas. Brock and Soros are partners in an endeavor that seems to employ many of the idiot left, like Oliver Willis and Atrios.

I was tempted to include both of the Clintons but it's hard to argue what they are screwing up right now. You could certainly make an argument for rap musicians and record producers, but I don't know the scene well enough to decide who's the worst offender. Hollywood? Other than Moore I can't think of anybody influential enough to be included.
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Look Who's Back Blogging!

Our buddies Teflon and Word Girl from Molten Thought have temporary accomodations on blogger for now. They got caught up in the same problem that hit Ann Althouse and the Belmont Club, where their blog would not update. Terrific bloggers, definitely worth the trip. I'm changing their link on the blogroll for now as well.
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Random Thought of the Day--Gardening Edition

People who object to the treatment of the prisoners at Gitmo are probably the types who don't use commercial grade line in their weed-whackers.

"But Brainster!" you say. "We can't use commercial grade line! Our driveway is a delicate ecosystem, and besides it hurts the ozone layer."
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Silky Pony Update

Still talking about two Americas. Still running in 2008.

And although a visit to the first-in-the-nation caucus state might speak to those ambitions, Edwards did not. He did find time to help raise money for Democratic legislative candidates and to meet with Maytag workers in Newton.
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Here's an Idiot Republican

Morgan Reynolds needs to adjust his tinfoil hat:

Former chief economist for the Department of Labor during President George W. Bush's first term Morgan Reynolds comments that the official story about the collapse of the WTC is "bogus" and that it is more likely that a controlled demolition destroyed the Twin Towers and adjacent Building No. 7. Reynolds, who also served as director of the Criminal Justice Center at the National Center for Policy Analysis in Dallas and is now professor emeritus at Texas A&M University said, "If demolition destroyed three steel skyscrapers at the World Trade Center on 9/11, then the case for an 'inside job' and a government attack on America would be compelling."

Sounds like a charter member of this club:




Actually, it looks like he's not for Bush at all. He posts over at Lew Rockwell, the home site of the far right loonies.

Elsewhere:

Eric at Classical Values apologizes for his own blinkered narrowness and lack of breadth

Check out the comments on this post over at Global News Matrix:

The actual planes with the doomed passengers could have been dumped into the Atlantic and replacement ones loaded with explosives and fitted with remote control.

Well, they could have, you know. Another theory is that the doomed passengers were beamed aboard the Starship Enterprise moments before the planes hit the towers, but they can't be returned because of the Prime Directive.
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Blogger Buddies

Here's what's happening with some of our blogger buddies:

La Shawn Barber is on a tear about the apology the Senate issued for not enacting anti-lynching legislation. I'm generally opposed to people apologizing for things they personally didn't do. If Bill Clinton wants to apologize for dragging the country through the Monica mess, that's one thing; if he wants to apologize for slavery, it's another.

Rick Moran over at Right Wing Nuthouse says nice try to the folks pushing the Downing Street Memo:

Like Bullwinkle’s magician tricks, they keep coming up empty. (“Sorry…wrong hat!”)

Professor Shade talks about the latest stunt the anti-gas people are pedalling.

Tim Worstall has some nice things to say about Paul Krugman and Brad DeLong over at the Globalization Institute.

Kitty's been doing a lot of book-blogging lately. She covers Mark Fuhrman's upcoming book about Terry Schiavo, and a detective book set in polygamy country.
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Tuesday, June 14, 2005
 
A Little Critique of Geldof's Comments on Trade

Okay, since I've transcribed Bob Geldof's comments in reply to Todd Zwicki's question, I thought I'd take a little look at his answer.

First, obviously Geldof's a very intelligent man. He has facts and figures and anecdotes at his fingertips and he uses them quite deftly and with a strong vocabulary. I have to admit, now I see quite a bit better why everybody was so impressed with his presentation. If you read the British papers he comes off as a bit of the classic aging, eccentric British rocker. Comparing that to his performance in this conference call indicates to me that he knows very well how to play to different audiences to get what he wants out of them. And that's not a negative criticism by the way; we all do that to a certain extent in our lives. You might want to be the capable businessman in the office, the savvy trader at the store and the stern, suspicious detective with your daughter's new boyfriend.

His presentation seems very much geared for the right-wing bloggers as compared to the left. When you're quoting Adam Smith and advocating what sound pretty much like pure market fair trade policies, it's not hard to see that the left doesn't have much to grab onto other than the bleeding heart aspect of the foreign aid.

That said, some of his economic stuff may not be as solid as it seems. Obviously if the US government pays farmers here not to grow something, or they burn it, it's beneficial to the Malian farmers, who arguably have less competition. It's only when it's dumped on their markets that becomes a problem. I certainly agree with getting rid of export subsidies, for example. Those are distortions of the free market that we don't need. But if we get rid of the export subsidies and we can still deliver cotton to Malian markets cheaper than the Malian farmer, then it's time for him to find another crop.

And while the tax on value-added goods sounds incomprehensible to our ears, it is a commonplace on European products. Unlike America where there is no tax on business-business transactions, many European countries charge the VAT at each step of the process. So if a company were to grow pineapples in Europe (impossible in practice of course) and sell them to a cannery, who slices and cans them, the cannery would have to pay VAT on the increased value. The VAT ranges from as low as 5% to as high as 25%. So charging a 23% higher tariff for the sliced pineapples may make sense, given that you have this VAT. Otherwise it would be quite likely that you'd have the ridiculous situation of people shipping pineapples from Europe to Mali to get them sliced.

Now I don't like the VAT, and am very pleased it did not arrive here. It's what I call a hidden tax because it's buried in the pricetag. Here in the USA we know that what we bought had a $1.99 sticker on it but we have to pay another 16 cents in tax. Over there, they just pay the equivalent of $2.15 or more, but there's nothing (apparently) added onto the price. But if you're going to have the VAT, you're going to get the distortions that Sir Robert is talking about. And I doubt very much he's going to convince Tony Blair to get rid of the VAT.

As for the comparison of aid levels and cattle subsidies, it's apples and oranges. I suspect that the Europeans give a lot less aid to the Japanese; does that indicate that they value the Japanese less? Get rid of the subsidies on cattle altogether and at that point we see that the real question is what is the proper level of aid, not what is the proper level of aid as a percentage of cattle subsidies.

There may be a little blarney in his responses, but overall I thought he was solid on the trade issue. I have to admit, that before transcribing the conversation carefully I was much more suspicious of him.
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Transcript of Questions and Answers From the Blogger Conference Call with Bob Geldof--Part I

Joe Trippi: Okay, thank you for giving us that rendition of what’s going on, what we can do. What I want to do now is open the lines up so that you bloggers can ask specific questions.

John Hinderaker: I think the way that this works is that now that you’ve hit the switch, Joe, anybody who wants to ask a question can just jump in, identify himself or herself and ask the question, is that right?

Trippi: Let’s see, somebody have a question?

Todd Zwicki: Yeah, I’ll go first, this is Todd Zwicki from the Volokh Conspiracy, can you hear me?

Geldof: Yeah, hi.

Zwicki: Good, could you just explain to me the notion of trade justice and what relationship that bears to free trade?

Geldof: Excellent question. We say we live in a free trade world, where that’s how we operate and that’s what we think is the ideal way to, but it’s not true. The European Union is really a protective racket that Al Capone would be proud of. By subsidizing certain sections of our industry, we’re in fact molly-coddling them and protecting them against the competition that you and I are subject to, if another blogger comes along who appeals to a sector of the public, and it’s in your face, you’re kind of dead so you’ve got to (box?) clever. These people, take the cotton farmers of America, the sugar farmers of America are causing a fuss now because I believe the United States is in a free trade agreement with Latin America and the sugar producers are kicking up a fuss and saying they need to be protected. Well, why, if your car manufacturers are open to international competition, and anytime a country does get protection it suffers. It suffers blindly, but you know there are issues like export subsidies, where you subsidize people to export a drug or product on poorer countries. I’ll give you a specific American example: Some cotton farmers in the Delta, for example, get $750,000 a year to produce cotton that nobody needs, so they’re just using up land growing this stuff—or not growing it, it’s just as good not to grow it, but when you bale up this stuff, what you do with it, you destroy it, so American taxpayers’ money is paid to look after these people even though we don’t need their produce, then American taxpayers money is spent on burning this stuff. If it’s not burned, we then dump it in other economies, so a cotton farmer in Mali, in Africa, he earns a dollar a week. When Mali applied for IMF loans, the IMF said fine, but what you must do is you must structurally readjust your economies and you must open your markets to American cotton. American cotton entered the market, it was extremely cheap, completely under cost, Malian costs, where the producers have to work over ever boll, but because American cotton is subsidized to such a tune in effect it’s dumped, and it just destroys the local industry. The guy who was earning a buck now earns nothing so his family is wiped out. But perversely the World Bank said they would only lend to Mali if it turned and closed down that facility, and only let in 3% of imported cotton. So, what we say to these people is do one thing, do another, and they have no mechanism to defend themselves.

So that’s an example of unfair trade, let me give you another example: A pineapple grower. He can export his pineapples to us in Europe, but we charge him 20% tax on his pineapples. If he exports a value-added product, like pineapple slices, then we will charge him 43% tax. If he adds a more common product, like pineapple juice, we will tax him 83%, so his products are non-competitive in our marketplace, where our farmers are subsidized, not taxed, so he’s wiped out and he’s nowhere to sell it. (?) we say yea to sell us pineapples, but you can’t sell us your value-added products like juice or slices, you send it to us, we’ll slice it and juice it and send it back to you and then charge you. So you know, Africa has 2% of world trade; it totals 2%. And we constantly put these barriers up to stop them trading with us. Who are we stopping trading, so you have an image in your mind, is this guy, who’s out there, hoeing his field with his children, cause it’s only physical labor there, earning a dollar a week. That’s ridiculous. We don’t intend to do that, there is no one who actually intends that to happen, but, yes, it’s the unintended result of what we’re doing. If you genuinely believe in free trade, then read your Adam Smith, the great apostle of free trade, and the great Bible of free trade of course is the book The Wealth of Nations, which a Scottish guy wrote in the 18th century. And what he specifically states is that if the economy must be protected by the chill winds of competition, very like a flower, standing alone in a naked field, (?) protected and that’s what we must do, to grow these economies, they must be protected but in a different type of protectionism, and having complained about ourselves, that we just say that the greatest barriers to trade are within Africa itself. There are the most ridiculous barriers between borders. So a car imported from Japan to (Aberjam?), costs $2,000 to import it, but (Aberjam?) to Addis Ababa in the same continent--is another $5,000-- $5000! It’s ridiculous, but the problem is these economies are so weak that perhaps 20% of their budget are intra-border customs (poke?) But the amount of that costs them a fortune. So that’s one of the problems, but it finally ends up in a great moral disgrace. Europe gives every poor person in Africa 65 cents, per annum, 65 cents! Every surplus cow, unnecessary, unwanted, surplus to requirement, that we subsidize farmers to grow, and then kill the cattle and then burn the cattle, every cow in Europe gets a subsidy of 848 Euros. A human being? 65 cents. A cow, unnecessary cow, 848 Euros. Gentlemen, the world is broken and it’s a political fracture. That is a disgrace.

(31:02) (Whew! That was a long response!) Break time, to be continued.
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Andrew Sullivan Hysteria Watch

Michelle Malkin does a marvelous takedown of Sully and his willingness to believe the worst about Gitmo.

I covered his ridiculous embrace of Mamdouh Habib's claims a few months ago. Of course, since then, he's only gotten worse. You would think the rather mild treatment of the 20th hijacker documented in Time this week which he even cites would convince Sully that perhaps these torture claims are overblown.

But you'd be wrong:

Perhaps the real story of the last couple of years is how these techniques filtered down the ranks, how unprofessional individuals got the message from above that the gloves were off and went further, with far less significant figures.


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Blogger Conversation with Bob Geldof Transcribed Part III

Part I is here
Part II is here

(15:43)

So I was led inexorably to a place I never really wanted to go, I was led to having to really sell this, to talk to people about the potential of this summit coming up between the leaders of the seven richest nations in the world, plus Russia. And we had a plan now, and it was signed off by all the G7 people, it was signed off by all their representatives, it was signed off by many African people on the commission, and Blair adopted a UK policy going forward, again which was brave because it’s quite a radical agenda. But it does say that we need twin components to this: It’s the obvious one of the trade issue, the debt issue, and the aid issue, but they will only work if in turn there is a compact for justice within Africa that will deal with the issue of governance and corruption. It must be dealt with as a piece, that none of these can be isolated and it’s one holistic view of the problem and we will deal with it. And the deal is, we will pay to bail you out, but you must come to the party and reform yourself, and if you don’t reform yourself, we’re not playing ball.

(16:53)

How do we know that works? Because when America, which Churchill called its single greatest asset, its human generosity, bailed another starving, ruined bankrupt continent, in 1947, I think, with the Marshall Plan, you put one percent of GDP into Europe, provided Europe took on democracy. Now Europe did not know democracy, they tried it in Germany for five years, and reverted to revolutionary politics, hence the rise of fascism, Italy didn’t really know it until very recently. I lived in Spain under Franco, Spain of course only got democracy sometime in the late ‘70s. France has a version, we all have versions of this thing, but the Americans insisted upon it and we know it works, as we know, East Germany/West Germany, North Korea/South Korea. This principle, that the individual (at?) freedom will be able to exploit their own reserves works, but it must be done under the rule of law. So that’s the deal going forward, it’s hardly earth-shaking except in the analysis it is profound.

(17:59

So how do we make that have any traction in the public mind? How do we get domestic political heat, so that the leaders who participated by proxy in the Commission for Africa, actually take their (text?) forward? Bono has been (crapping?) onto me. Bono became involved in the Africa thing through Live Aid, then he dropped out because he was a boy on the make, and he had to get there, and he’s become—we’re both from Dublin and we’ve known each other 27 years, he used to stand in the basement of the hotel bars we used to play in in Dublin and watched my band, and so we’ve known each other since then. He re-engaged sometime around when the Debt Coalition happened about six years ago and he kept saying, do Live Aid again, well it would be futile because the world has moved on because of the end of the Cold War I can only deal with charity in ’85; there was no way you could influence the rigid (stasis?) of politics that was the Cold War, but when that dissolved, great opportunities arose. The world was in flux, and in that fluidity, was great opportunity, and for Africa, also. So now they’re talking about charity; one it was never enough, no matter how much we give as individuals, it is not enough to instigate institutional change, which is what we need to (give those?) states, so you have to deal with the politics, the politics of the thing, but how to do that in an exciting manner, and how to create domestic heat, for example, in America, where there isn’t any of this issue, or in Germany, which is mired in recession and they don’t want to know, or in Italy, which is almost in a real depression, so how do you do that?

(19:45)

And the only thing I could do again was, well, I do that which I know, and do a major function, but I do it in the G7 capitals, so, yesterday Tokyo came in and three days ago Ottowa came in, Ottowa's very important because Canada is the only G7 country in budget surplus. So we’re going to create a massive wave of domestic political heat. We started with the One Campaign, which is already now in excess of one million people signed up for it, that is the way that we need to move forward in America, to lead this domestic agenda. It’s not as if we’re pushing against a brick wall; the Bush Administration has done quite a lot. Now not a lot of people actually pick up on that, and I’ve just been doing (national press?) in the UK this morning, and they’re asking me about the President, and I’m saying now look, they’ve already doubled aid, and they claim and say that they’re going to double it again. You know, you’ve got his AIDS initiative with the Global Fund, it’s keeping two hundred thousand alive, the Millenium Challenge Fund to fight poverty and corruption, it’s funded but it isn’t yet delivering—that’s for the structural reasons. Last year’s increase in assistance was more than four billion, it was the largest since Kennedy in ’62 created the Agency for International Development, and the Peace Corps to help with the Cold War.

(21:13)

All of this is from a very low base, but nonetheless, there is a dynamic there, and people think that when Blair talks to Bush about this that he’s talking to a (deaf wall?), and that’s simply not the case, and it isn’t the response that the Prime Minister gets. So this administration, I think, possibly could go down a fairly radical route, with regard to Africa, and America’s great strategic reason for doing this now: America will be taking 25% of its oil out of Angola and Nigeria within ten years, and as Colin Powell said, poverty is the great weapon of mass destruction.

(21:53)

Two great dynamics in Africa: Obviously the rise of Islam in sub-Saharan Africa across the Northern belt, but (easily?) met by the rise of evangelical Christianity across the Center and the South. One is prompted by Wahabbism from Saudi Arabia, and the other has got connection with the American churches, and indeed with regard to Live 8, an extraordinary letter has been signed by Pat Robertson, Billy Graham, it was largely authored by that author, what’s his name, the evangelical author who sold millions of books, Rick Warren is it?

(Unidentified caller—Joe Trippi?--confirms, Rick Warren)

And he says the (press? President?) has called for precisely everything that Live 8 and the One Campaign are calling for. So that’s where we’re at. Will we get there? I don’t know. Certainly all over the European press now, I mean in the tabloid papers, for example the Daily Mirror had eight pages on Africa this morning. I was at Breakfast Television, but surely this is, at least standing outside my flat this morning, wasn’t the issue about trade reform and corruption, this is in a cozy breakfast format, with (?) and so forth, and she asked me about trade reform, on Breakfast Television. It is working, it’s working in the European capitals, I’m going to Berlin tomorrow to talk to the Foreign Minister, Joska Fischer, and we’re announcing the concert there, I’ll talk to the press in France the next day, so it’s working here. We need to get traction in America, it’s working at the grassroots, it’ll come to a head in Philadelphia, where they’re easily expecting a million people at this concert, and I don’t think that this administration (?) this initiative, but we need it to be more open and there's clearly another way to do that, the direct way to do it is through this new phenomenon, you guys, which wasn’t there when I started as I said on this long journey of understanding 20 years ago. That’s about it, that’s my take on this.

(24:05) (Break again, I'll try to do some of the question and answer session later)
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John Ruberry Scores Exclusive!

Our buddy the Marathon Pundit has the story before the press:

Thomas Klocek files slander lawsuit against DePaul

John's been covering this story relentlessly from early on. If you want a textbook example in how to blog, John's tireless work on the Klocek case is a prime example. Congratulations, John!

Here's a good backgrounder on the Klocek story, which highlights John's excellent work.

John achieved a small measure of fame last year when he caught onto the fact that John Fraude Kerry had lied about running the Boston Marathon
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It's a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

Our buddy Chris at Lucky Dawg News pointed us to this hilarious tribute to the losers of the 2004 election. I enjoyed it a lot, but I gotta admit the ending was startling and just a bit disappointing; the gravitas deficit surfaces again for the first time in a couple years.
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Blogger Conversation with Bob Geldof Transcribed Part II

Part I is here

(12:22)

And they were getting aid, but it was aid that never helped. Here was a ground that grew nothing. Here were women giving birth not to life, but to death. So it’s a bit terrible anomaly going on and I rang Blair in Evian and I was furious and enraged and he asked me to calm down and come and see him at Downing Street when I got back. And I went to see him and I just said, look, at the beginning of the 21st century, when we’ve never been healthier or richer, when the world is leaped ahead economically, when this seemingly organic and generally good idea of globalization is functioning, why is it that one continent remains mired in this inexorable economic decline? Why are 800 million people suffering this terrible terrible poverty? It’s not AIDS, it’s not conflict, it’s not hunger, it’s not malaria, TB or polio, or corruption, that it’s simply visible excrescences of one condition, visible symptoms of poverty, that’s all they are, and we don’t die of AIDS thank God, we’re rich enough to be able to hold it at bay, we don’t die of hunger, we’re able to buy food for our (starved?) people. Generally we’re not corrupt, because it doesn’t serve us well to be corrupt, it destabilizes our policy, and we don’t generally have conflicts because it’s not worth the gain, it would just impoverish us. So all these things are happening, can we stand back and analyze and find out precisely why this is happening.

(14:03) I know hundreds of (people?) say it’s this that or the other, it’s not, it’s something different going on here. What is it? And having analyzed it, then we find out how to prevent it, can we (?) do that and going forward can we find a plan to implement change. And to his great credit, the Prime Minister said, okay, we’ll set up the Commission for Africa of which I was a member, and from the United States, Senator (sic) Nancy Baker, who’s Howard Baker’s wife and a friend of the President’s and was on the African Committee in the Senate, and nothing less really than prime ministerial and treasury secretary level from around the world the Health Minister of China, the Finance Secretary from South Africa, Gordon Brown from Britain, Ralph Goode (sp?) out of the Treasury Ministry from Canada etcetera, etcetera. Smart people with the exception of myself, and we gathered, and we set up a secretariat. I held six seminars including at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, in the G7 capital. In the six regions of Africa, there were many seminars, 500 papers were commissioned from professors and experts and thousands of submissions on the website. We published in March, and they put the (?) book. I’m very proud of stuff I participate in, but I’m very proud of this, I do think it’s one of the most important books of the 21st century. And I just thought, I’ve spent 20 years on this, what a waste, it’s another government document that got shelved.

(15:43) Part III is here
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Power Line Agrees with Me!

Their take on Paul Krugman's column from last Friday:

Of course, that's partly an artifact of the dates Krugman arbitrarily chooses. 1973 represented a business cycle peak, while in 2003 the economy was coming off a recession. Competent economists do not do peak-to-trough comparisons. If, to take an example skewed in the opposite direction, we compare median family income in 1982 with the 2000 figure, the growth is 27%, not 22%.

My take:

But the best method of forecasting with a chart like this would be to draw a line between the peaks and another line between the troughs, extend them forward, and say that the future is somewhere between those lines. What Krugman has done is draw a line between a peak (a recession began in 1973) and a trough (2003 appears to be a cyclic low for MHI) and encouraged his readers to assume that the future will follow that line.

And I hit on the point about single-parent families as well, but they do it better by going to the actual data:

But that's a relatively minor point. Here is a more fundamental problem with Krugman's calculation. When we compare "family income" figures over time, the figures are distorted by the fact that over the past three decades, families have fragmented. There are far more single-parent families now than in the early 1970s. Single-parent families generally have lower incomes than two-parent families, so this trend has depressed family income. If we factor out this demographic change, we find strong and steady income growth. Thus, the Census Bureau data show that for the category "Married-Couple Families," median income went from $46,723 in 1973 to $62,281 in 2003. (All numbers are in constant 2003 dollars.) That's a hefty 33% increase in real income. Meanwhile, incomes of families headed by either a man or a woman increased by 23.4%. But since there was a considerably greater proportion of such families in 2003 than in 1973, the aggregate increase on a "per family" basis was dragged down to 22%. (If you don't think that's possible, do the math.)

They also contribute a link to the data, which I will take a look at in a bit.
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The Greatest Americans

John Hawkins has his list of the Top 100. As always with a list like this you can pick at it, and say how can you include X, when you don't include Y? And the feminists will probably natter about the few women who are selected. But it's far easier to dispute somebody else's list than come up with your own; I wouldn't want to try it.
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Monday, June 13, 2005
 
Geldof Conference Call Transcribed--Part I

Okay, I wanted to be able to see his words rather than listen to them on that atrocious-sounding MP3 file, so I sat down and transcribed the first part of his speech to the bloggers. I'll continue this tomorrow morning. I've put in the times of various logical breaks so that people can check it against the recording. Any assistance in the few places where the audio was unintelligible to my failing ears would certainly be appreciated. I've tried to avoid editing the words Sir Robert spoke but I did leave out the occasional "ums". Overall, as John Hinderaker and others have commented, Geldof was very articulate and impressive. It'll look a little "run-on", but that's just the way people talk when they're not reading a script.

I skipped the intro for now, but I plan to try to do more of the conference call tomorrow morning. If anybody wants to pick up where I left off, or take a ten minute chunk of the transcription, please let me know in the comments and I'll put up a link. Everything after this is Geldof speaking:

(1:49)

Thanks Joe, thanks John, before all of you came on I was just remarking that it’s precisely this meeting that makes everything so different to 20 years ago, that journey that I started on myself and managed I think to bring most of the UK along with for these last 20 years and I sort of feel like we’re in the home straights now, coming up to the G8 which is hosted in Great Britain and the man who is the President of the G8 this year has got a fresh mandate as Prime Minister and is simultaneously the President of the European Union. So for the period of six months, Britain at least will be significantly politically influential, so for me it’s a time where perhaps we can finally get this thing done that has been promised so often. So thank you for all being here, thank you for asking me to do it, it’s a great pleasure to be with you.

(2:50)

I’ll just take you on that journey I’ve just described, and some of you will have—I’ve got the flu by the way so if I keep sniffing and sound drained, I’m drained because I’m drained and I’m sniffing because I’ve got the flu. Some of you will remember 20 years ago and Live Aid, we did that in response to something I saw one night on television here in London, late October. My band was having difficulty making its latest record a hit and I came home depressed, it was foggy and the foggy lights were on outside, and I had a little baby girl, my first baby girl, she was about nine months old and I sat down to watch the evening news, and she was cuddled up to me and on came something which was beyond extreme. It was a ten minute report on the 6:00 News by the BBC.

(3:46)
And it was 30 thousand—no, 30 million people suffering starvation, 30 million, and the journalist’s voice was choked with rage and anger and you could palpably feel this and he described as Biblical the scale of the horror that he was looking at and indeed that’s what was translated, and I was, probably because of my half depressed state about what was happening like with my record and that and possibly because I had a kid there, I reacted, I cried, and I just thought that this cannot stand in the late 20th century, that in a world of surplus that anyone should die of want, seemed to me to be not only intellectually absurd, but morally repulsive, but more to the point, it ceased to be a question of the left or of the right. If we agreed that it was nonsensical for anyone to die of want in this world of surplus then it follows that we could equally agree this could only be viewed as a moral repugnance and I just thought it demanded something more than the usual charitable impulse of giving a few bucks, it demanded something of yourself, and so I wrote a song and made this record the Band-Aid Record, Do They Know It’s Christmas, and over the United States, Harry Belafonte, heard about these kids in the UK and he got in touch with Quincy Jones who called Lionel Richie and Michael Jackson, and they did USA for Africa, which I was present at, directly coming from Africa.

(5:27)

And I just thought cool idea to join all that together and we’ll make Live Aid. Well, 200 million dollars later, that was the most that the world could do at that time. And you know it’s weird on this call particularly to think of 20 years ago when very posh people had faxes no-one had mobile phones and there certainly wasn’t the Net or computerization like we know today. But what we did do with those records, was alert people to this thing that was going on and the emotional culmination of that, the need to stop as many of these 30 million people dying was the concerts, which we did by raising huge, vast sums of money. And we spent the money ourselves, I did not go through any of the governments in order to get to the people involved and none of us spent any money in administration. But what I thought needed to happen in the six months between the record and the concert was that this was so egregious and that we hadn’t really taken notice of Africa, it was sort of this quiet continent no-one really looked at and that we needed to elevate it onto the political agenda. And I think because the concert itself was so huge and the outpouring the manifestation, I mean Nepal, the country of Nepal gave a half million dollars, I mean this really extended everywhere. But this was so huge, that it did bring it up to the political level, and so from 1985, Africa really has not been far off the G8 Agenda. Indeed, in 1986, the United Nations debated Africa for the first time, I mean it seems implausible but nonetheless true, and they debated seriously.

(7:07)

Since that time, unfortunately, Africa has been the sole continent in economic decline. And as the rest of the world leaps ahead, Africa slips further from us. Now that’s a particular problem for Europe, where Africa is only eight miles from Europe, eight miles from us. And of course we suffer the consequences daily. Just like you’ve got Cubans washing up on the shores of Florida, so in Europe we have Africans washing up on our beaches. We spend millions of (?) European armies (?) shores to keep out these immigrants. But they will come in their millions because they (?), they’re hungry, they want a better life. I’m an immigrant, I’m Irish, I live in the UK, I came here for a better life and I got it.

(7:56)

But I was in Rome last week launching Live 8, with the Mayor of Rome, and there was a horrific story on the cover of La Republica, which is like the NY Times for them, and the mayor of (Lampadesa?) an island off Sicily, was begging for some (?) to send a container ship to pick up the dead bodies of the men, women and children from Africa, who were washing up on his beaches. He’d no room left to bury them anymore. Not in graveyards, but anywhere on the island. And it’s come to this, it’s come to this at the beginning of the 21st century, frankly we cannot allow that to stand. So about a year and a half ago, I was in Ethiopia, and the Evian G8 was happening in France, and I’d just gone to the north of Ethiopia, which are perennial (badlands?), you know about 60 years ago it was fairly lush, there was forest, there was game, people hunted, but now it’s really gone into arid, steady desert, and once again, the rains, the second rains they depend on two rains, have failed so the people were facing malnutrition again, and I never thought I’d see myself in a feeding camp again and believe me if you’ve ever seen or been in one, you do not want to ever see it.

(9:13)

And here I was again, people queueing, only this time there was a different phenomenon, there was a group of strolling players. And Africa has more cultures and peoples than any other cultures on the planet, it contains over 2000 separate languages, so it actually uses the repository of human culture in that one continent, but in this neck of the woods, you know there were about 30 different languages, so these miming, strolling players were like in Shakespearian times acting out this mummer's play, and they were talking about AIDS, which they called the skinny disease, and they were being very frank and sort of outrageous in sort of an African sexual style, and so people were laughing, but the reality was that a random test of 20 percent of those people would have showed them affected with AIDS and of course now with hunger, they would die very rapidly. You all know that AIDS takes (?) the young people who are sexually active, thus leading orphan children and worse, orphan elderly grandparents who will die very quickly because there’s no-one to provide for them.

(10:20)

So I was shocked again, afresh, you know you think nothing can disturb your equanimity, until you’ve faced these things, and I went south, in Ethiopia. Now the southern part of Ethiopia’s extremely lush and verdant, everything growing and they grow the best coffee in the world. Indeed the word coffee comes from the province of Kaffa, and so that’s where it was discovered and found and grown. This year, the people in those provinces were beginning to die of hunger again, and the reason was that in a normal year, the people in these areas sell their coffee for good prices, and if there’s drought in the food-growing areas, they buy their food because they’ve now got profit, but because Indonesia and Vietnam have entered the coffee market, coffee prices have depressed by 70% and these people couldn’t sell their crops, so they have no money, so they began to die of hunger as well. And of course, they didn’t know that AIDS was affecting that area—in random testing there was about 18% of AIDS throughout the area, so there was dying in vast numbers and they didn’t comprehend what was happening to them. And of course, we call Indonesia and Vietnam entering the coffee market, and well-done for Indonesia and Vietnam, we call that globalization, they don’t understand what these countries are, they just call them (?).

(11:41)

There are no medicines to deal with AIDS in that part of the world and so they were dying of that. And all about us, was this terrible metaphor, there’s trees there, they look like banana trees, with big (swarms?) of bananas, but nothing ever grows in them so they’re fruit trees that there are no fruit, no nourishment. The women in the hungry years strip the bark off the tree. They bury it for a year, so that it softens, then they dig it up and pound it into a sort of fibrous porridge and then they eat that so that the children’s stomachs are full, but it provides no nourishment, and so it’s food that again, provides no nourishment.

12:22 Transcription continues here.
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Geldof Speaks

Power Line points
to this MP3 of the conference call that bloggers had with Bob Geldof about the Live 8 cause. It's a horrifically bad recording (and I listen to Old Time Radio for kicks) and of course Geldof's accent's tough for American ears to begin with. He does indeed sound quite knowledgable and passionate. I'm listening to it all the way through right now to see if the subject of the demonstrations and the regatta come up and will update the post later.

Comments: He projects a million attendees at the Philadelphia concert?

Terrific comments on subsidized agriculture in Europe. Al Capone would be proud.

You can tell a Democrat set the conference call up originally. Whose idea was it to get 50 bloggers on the line at once, and then throw it open to questions in no particular order? Amazingly they weren't jumping all over themselves to ask the questions.

The subject of the demonstrations and the Dunkirk recreation does not come up.

I don't want to beat this into the ground, but the recording quality is terrible and hilariously, the recording goes on for two and a half minutes after everybody has left the conversation. Not hard to guess it was organized by Democrats.

Here's one odd thing. The Live 8 website lists the following concerts:

London
Paris
Berlin
Rome
Philadelphia

But I keep coming across mention of a Scotland concert at someplace called Murrayfield as well. Have they just not updated the site?
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Lomborg: Global Warming Not a Priority

This is pretty interesting:

They do not tell us that even if all the industrial nations agreed to the cuts (about 30pc from what would otherwise have been by 2010), and stuck to them all through the century, the impact would simply be to postpone warming by about six years beyond 2100. The unfortunate peasant in Bangladesh will find that his house floods in 2106 instead.

And in terms of priorities:

Some of the world's most distinguished economists - including three Nobel laureates - answered this question at the Copenhagen Consensus last year, prioritising all major policies for improving the world.

They found dealing with communicable diseases like Aids and malaria, malnutrition, free trade and clean drinking water were the world's top priorities. The experts rated urgent responses to climate change at the bottom. In fact, the panel called these ventures, including Kyoto, "bad projects", because they actually cost more than the good they do.


Hat Tip: Betsy Newmark, found via Tom Maguire
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Aquaman's Latest Adventure

It's funny but the sad thing is that it wouldn't surprise me a bit, considering all the PC crap that appears in comics these days.

Hat Tip: Conservative Grapevine
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Here's a Dummy to Kick Around

Jon Carroll hasn't come to my attention before, but he's pretty entertaining:

Why are the Democrats such weenies? Howard Dean makes the unremarkable statement that the GOP is the party of white Christians, and other Democrats run and flee and say, "Oh no, oh no!" And a Republican yahoo accuses Dean of "political hate speech." Neither "white" nor "Christian" is an epithet. A glance at the videotape from last year's Republican convention indicates that both characterizations are entirely fair.

I dunno, Jon, you got some way of telling at a glance whether somebody's Christian?

And yet some Democrats think Dean is being too confrontational. We should be nice to the lying liars or people will think we're, gasp, partisan. "Partisan" is a good thing; it's what the Founding Fathers had in mind.

Historically stupid and inaccurate. There were no political parties when the Founding Fathers wrote the constitution, so it would be a little difficult for them to have had it in mind.
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Somebody Shoot This Dog

Arrgggghhhh! Some people are too dumb to believe.

Hours before being mauled to death by the family pit bull, 12-year- old Nicholas Faibish had been told to stay in the basement separated from the dogs, said his distraught mother, Maureen Faibish, who called The Chronicle on Saturday, trying to make sense of what she called a "freak accident.''

"I put him down there, with a shovel on the door,'' said Faibish, who had left the boy alone with the dogs on June 3 to run some errands. "He had a bunch of food. And I told him, 'Stay down there until I come back.' Typical Nicky, he wouldn't listen to me.''


She talked to The Chronicle by telephone and later at her father's home where, sitting on a couch and wrapped in a blanket, Faibish held back tears as she spoke about her son and the day he died.

"It's Nicky's time to go," she said. "When you're born you're destined to go and this was his time."


Yes, he was fated to die the moment he was born because his mother was a #&!@* idiot who thought, oh, I'll just lock him in the cellar. And she can't seem to make up her little mind about whether the dog's to blame:

"It was Rex, I know it in my heart,'' Faibish said...."Even after the whole thing,'' she said, "I'm not mad at my dogs. I just love them to death."

She would never want Rex back in their house.

"Absolutely not,'' Faibish said. "I told them I wanted him put down. I think of Rex as someone who molested my child, murdered my child."

"He's the most loving and giving dog in the world,'' she insisted. "There were no violent tendencies in him at all.''


But she insists, "I have no regrets about that day," Faibish said.

I have little doubt as to who's to blame; it's the dog in the chair:




The woman and her husband have two other kids. Based on this story, they should be removed from the home.

Hat Tip: Michele
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John Ruberry's Not Impressed

With the Tehran Times. He catches them pulling a Mitch Albom, and nattering on about the Zionists.
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Lucky Dawg Gnaws on a Bone

Note: Neither of these blogs has permalinks, so if you come across the story awhile from now, you may have to do some scrolling.

Our buddy Chris at Lucky Dawg got a pretty good scoop last Friday that Kitty linked to over at Lifelike. A Los Alamos labs whistleblower got beat up outside a nudie bar and claimed it was retaliation for his whistle-blowing activities. Chris looked into it and discovered it was just a case of a guy having too much to drink at the bar, getting into an altercation in the parking lot, and having his face rearranged as a result.

Well, the poorly named "Best of the Blogs" got hold of it, and managed to turn it into an attack piece on Heather Wilson, a local (Republican of course) congresswoman (scroll down to "Los Alamos, Argentina". Really, this post has to be read to be believed, as this excerpt shows:

Strange things happen when your top lab is located right in an area that boasts the highest heroin overdose rate in the nation. This story cuts both ways... The right says one thing. The left has their take. One thing’s for sure. The Trustees of the University of California (with help from Feinstein, Boxer and Jane “in harm’s way” Harman and maybe even Willie Brown) are in a Steel Cage Death Match with lil’ red state darlings Lockheed-Martin for control of crown jewel in our nation’s empire of fumble, bumble and boom, The Los Alamos National Labs (a subset of the Lawrence-Livermore National Labs, run by them fuggin commos in Berkeley… that’s in California, for the geographically challenged).

That's a lotta snark for just one paragraph, and it goes on that way with talk about Wilson being a "repiglet" and a carpetbagger from New York (Chris writes that she's actually from New Hampshire). Chris fires back today.
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Fun with Hookers

Third Wave Dave says they're worth every penny they cost.
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Why Unemployment in France is High

This about sums it up:

In Britain, the wage costs for a worker who pockets $37,000 a year are $51,760. In France, the same worker will cost a firm $85,035, the executives' report said.

Plus, as Michael Gallaugher points out, you'd have to put up with the frilly shirts.
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Moron Howard Dean

Fineman looks at his fundraising and says it's not as bad as people have been claiming:

As a fund-raiser—the first duty of a party chairman and Dean's claim to fame in '04—he isn't quite the disaster some critics suggest. Early in the last "cycle," in 2001, the Republican National Committee outraised the DNC by a 3-1 margin. So far this year, that ratio has been cut to 2-1. More important is the way it was raised. In the past the party relied on "soft money" from millionaires. But such donations are now illegal. Officials esti-mate that $12 million of the $14 million the Dean regime has collected so far this year has come from those who gave less than $250. "For people who really look hard at the numbers, he's wowing people," says Elaine Kamarck, a respected DNC member.

However, he doesn't get excused for his gaffes:

But Dean's real problem may not be his mouth but his mind-set. He and his aides seemed genuinely mystified at the idea that his characterization of the GOP was a political mistake. But by labeling the other party a bastion of Christianity, he implied that his own was something else—something determinedly secular—at a time when Dean's stated aim is to win the hearts of middle-class white Southerners, many of whom are evangelicals. In a slide-show presentation at the DNC conference last weekend, polltaker Cornell Belcher focused on why those voters aren't responding to the Democrats' economic message. One reason, he said, is that too many of them see the Democrats as "anti-religion." And why was that? No one asked Dean, who wasn't taking questions from the press.
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Iranian Women Demonstrate--Updated!

Their courage should inspire us.

Days before Iranians head to the polls Friday to cast their ballots in a national election, the protesters, who lacked official permission to demonstrate, defied police to make a historic plea for equal rights. This week's presidential election is widely expected to bring victory to a cleric and former president, hard-liner Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, 70.

The women forced their way past Tehran University's main gate and badge-wearing security guards. Riot squads attempted to prevent demonstrators from entering at various points around the campus's perimeter, but were unable to stop the crowd from pouring in. The women paid no heed to either police or plainclothes officers recording the action on digital video.


Regime Change Iran has pictures.

Update: Protest babe spotted.
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Sunday, June 12, 2005
 
Here Comes The Taxman

Well, you knew that G8 debt forgiveness didn't come for free, right?

Although the tax might only amount to a few extra pence on a ticket, experts believe the move would be a major blow to cut-price airlines that sell tickets for as little as £1.

The move, which could add a pound on to air fares, was greeted with delight by environmental groups who said it was a first step towards making people pay the true cost of plane travel.


Uh, I guess that must be a British thing--airline tickets for as little as a pound? And you gotta love the claim that it will only be a few extra pence per ticket, which will raise the cost by a pound.
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Sean Penn: Is There Anything He Doesn't Know?

He travels to Iran:

Hollywood actor Sean Penn, adopting the role of a journalist, scribbled in his notebook as Friday prayer worshippers in Tehran chanted "Death to America."

The update is that they confiscated his camera.

Like, whoa, Dudes! You're harshing my buzz!

Interestingly, Penn is identified in the headline as "Sean Penn, Journalist". What exactly is his training as a journalist? I seem to remember Jeff Gannon not qualifying, according to some of the lefty bloggers.
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Pinball Memories IV




This is Wizard, a pinball machine manufactured by Bally in 1975 and released to coincide with the opening of Tommy, the movie. It was one of the first licensed games of the 1970s, starting a trend that continues to this day. That's supposed to be Tina Turner on the left, while Roger Daltrey appears to be taking excessive liberties with Ann-Margret, who was, after all, playing his mother in the movie.

As is perhaps true with all licensed games, the greater the amount of money spent on the license, the less spent on the game. Wizard was mildly entertaining but nothing extraordinary, although I'm sure it outsold all other pinball machines that year.

One interesting feature was the flipping flags. If you flipped them over by hitting one of four targets, then got the ball to travel down the right ramp, you could pick up different advances; one might light the double bonus, while another lit the spinner.




I seem to recall that if you got the ball down the right ramp with all of the targets flipped you'd light the special, which was a fairly straightforward shot, although risky. Other than that, there was little to shoot for with the left flipper, and folks quickly learned that by dead flippering when the ball came down the right ramp, you could get it to bounce back over to the right flipper, which had all the shots.

Previous entry in the Pinball Memories Series
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I Guess This Answers the Question

Sounds like Geldof's demonstrations will go off as scheduled, despite the debt reduction deal.

Yet Geldof, who has campaigned to alleviate African poverty for more than 20 years, said the deal was "just a beginning".

Romilly Greenhill, of the British charity ActionAid, told

The Observer it was "great news for countries that will immediately benefit, but will do little to help millions in at least 40 other countries that also need 100 per cent debt relief".


In all probability, the ones that didn't qualify need "dictator relief" more than they need debt relief.

And get this non-sequitur:

Asked whether he feared that corrupt African governments would squander the funds, Mr [Gordon] Brown told The Observer: "When there are 30,000 children dying every day, when there are 100,000 schoolchildren not going to school every day, I think most parents, in every country of the world, would support what we are doing."

Would it be impolite to ask him how many children he expects will be dying every day and schoolchildren not going to school every day now that the deal is in place? I'm willing to bet it's a high percentage of the current number.

And it's pretty much irrelevant, I'll admit, but what's with this:


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Things Are Different In England

Tim Worstall has a weekly Britblog roundup. You might think that it would be interesting only for other Brits, but that is not the case.

For one thing, it serves to educate us Americans on how different things are in Merry Olde.

For instance, this terrific post at Politicalog on the British government's policy of handing out I-Pods to teenagers to get them back into school:

If my kids want an iPod or £100, they have to get it from me. I might be able to afford it if I wasn't already supplying free iPods to a bunch of NEETS. (NEETS= [Teens] Not in Employment Education Training or School.

This gives me a chance to talk a little about job training. We hear often from Democrats about the need for job training and retraining. Over in England they do it pretty agressively, as I found out by reading a humorous little book called Wilt by Tom Sharpe. Wilt was a somewhat meek professor at a UK university, charged with teaching literature to unemployed butchers who obviously don't want to be there but won't get their unemployment compensation if they don't. So they take it out on Wilt, who's supposed to be getting them to read the classics. It's a hilarious story, but one that I think most Americans would have a hard time getting their minds around. I mean, teaching literature to unemployed butchers? Who in the world came up with that idea?

On the opposite side of the coin, we learn that there are wacky farming methods catching on in the UK as well. Listen to this description of bio-dynamic farming:

For example, all biodynamic crops are raised and harvested, not just in keeping with the sacred rhythms of Gaia, but also in accordance with "the position and influences of the sun, moon and stars," as one sympathetic observer puts it. Biodynamists schedule growing activities via a standard calendar, published annually by the Biodynamic Agricultural Association.

I had some veal recently that was obviously out of tune with the sacred rhythms, so I know how important that is.
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The Horror! The Horror! Gulag Gitmo Stories Continue to Leak Out

Time Magazine has a story on the approved "torture" techniques used on the man authorities apparently believe was supposed to be the 20th hijacker on 9/11:

More Muscular Strategies: Al-Qahtani’s resilience under pressure in the fall of 2002 led top officials at Gitmo to petition Washington for more muscular “counter resistance strategies.” On Dec. 2, Rumsfeld approved 16 of 19 stronger coercive methods. Now the interrogators could use stress strategies like standing for prolonged periods, isolation for as long as 30 days, removal of clothing, forced shaving of facial hair, playing on “individual phobias” (such as dogs) and “mild, non-injurious physical contact such as grabbing, poking in the chest with the finger and light pushing.” According to the log, al-Qahtani experienced several of those over the next five weeks. The techniques Rumsfeld balked at included “use of a wet towel or dripping water to induce the misperception of suffocation.” “Our Armed Forces are trained,” a Pentagon memo on the changes read, “to a standard of interrogation that reflects a tradition of restraint.” Nevertheless, the log shows that interrogators poured bottles of water on al-Qahtani’s head when he refused to drink. Interrogators called this game “Drink Water or Wear It.”

I know, I know, you're saying, "This isn't the country I grew up in, not one that allows poking in the chest with the finger and light pushing." And as to the guys who poured water on al-Qahtani's head, well, hanging's too good for them.

Okay, just kidding. But surely we can all agree this is going too far:

The quizzing now starts at midnight, and when Detainee 063 dozes off, interrogators rouse him by dripping water on his head or playing Christina Aguilera music.

Please, effendi, I will tell you want you want, just don't play What a Girl Wants again!

Around the Horn:

Dinocrats calls for reparations for the victims of the American Gulag.

Captain Ed has more.

Lileks chips in, but funnier.

Hat Tip (On Lileks): Tinkerty Tonk
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Frank Rich Takes a Good Fisking--Updated!

Over at Tom Maguire's. As Tom notes, about the only interesting thing in this column is that it turns out that Deep Throat never actually said "Follow the money." That exhortation was created from whole cloth by the screenwriter for All the President's Men.

I looked at Rich's column as a potential post for Lifelike, but skipped it because it was too predictable. You could read similar stuff over at the Daily Kos diaries any time. The press is in the back pocket of the Republicans, nobody ever asks the president about the Downing Street Memo, they're all a bunch of neocons (although keeping with the Watergate theme, Rich refers to them as neo-Colsons). Hilariously he accuses the Bush Administration of releasing bad news on the Friday before Memorial Day; Tom checked his calendar and notes that it was the Friday after Memorial Day.

Update: Rick Moran over at Right Wing Nuthouse has more.

Given that Mr. Rich knows less about politics than he does about the theater, perhaps the Times should have made him their Restaurant Critic. At least then he would have been well-fed and could have saved his readers the unpleasant experience of up-chucking after reading him. After all, how unappetizing can you make a restaurant review? Considerably less nauseating than the gibberish he writes when scribbling earnestly about politics.
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Steyn on the Selective Outrage of Muslims and the Left

Terrific column from the best in the business:

Yet, as is often the way, the Muslim world's whiny spokespersons have been effortlessly topped by the old hands of the anti-American left. Thus, according to Amnesty International, Gitmo is the "gulag of our time."

Well then, these are diminished times for gulags. According to the Encyclopaedia Britannica, some 15 million to 30 million prisoners died in the Soviet gulags. By comparison, Guantanamo at its peak held 750 prisoners; currently, there are 520; none have died in captivity, and, as I wrote 3-1/2 years ago, it has the distinction of being "a camp where the medical staff outnumber the prisoners." You'll get swifter, cleaner and more efficient treatment than most Canadians do under socialized health care. It's the only gulag in history where the detainees leave in better health and weighing more than when they arrive. This means they're in much better shape when they get back to their hectic schedule of killing infidels: Of the more than 200 who've been released, around 5 percent -- that's to say, 12 -- have since been recaptured on the battlefield.


Recaptured on the battlefield? But I thought they were completely innocent? Bob Herbert told me so!
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