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Saturday, March 18, 2006
Some Comments on V for Vendetta the Comic Book

Some of the reviews on the movie are positive, some are negative. I'm not going to be seeing it at least until it's out on DVD. The New York Times was pretty negative:

[Alan] Moore's pretensions to seriousness may be seriously pretentious, but he seeks to elevate the level of conversation that has been inevitably lowered by the screen adaptations of his work. "V for Vendetta" is the worst offender in this regard, largely because the Wachowskis come equipped with their own fancy reading list and set of narrative and ideological imperatives.

Moore is a storywriting genius, but something of a political nut. One of the storylines that's going around is that the movie's good, but not as good as the comics. Let's put that matter to rest right now. While Moore has always been a terrific writer, this is an early and in many ways embarrassing effort.

The comics were written starting in 1981, and they posited a future England under the control of a Nazi-like government. A young girl named tries to prostitute herself and gets caught on the street by the storm troopers. Before they can rape and kill her, a bizarre figure jumps into their midst and causes havok. He wears a mask, moves incredibly fast, and has some gadgets including a grenade and tear gas. Before they can react, he is off with the girl.

It turns out he is V, and he is waging a one-man war against the government. Yes, he engages in acts of terrorism, but he's facing such an unrelentingly black-hearted regime that one cannot root against him. Here Evey recalls how they came to power (Click on pictures one or two times to expand to readable size):

And if that seems pretty embarrassing, there's worse. Here's her memory of the war:

Uh, the Russians invaded Poland? Remember this is before the end of the Cold War. And the notion that President Teddy Kennedy (gah!) would have started a nuclear exchange over that "invasion" is risible. Africa's not there anymore? Why? Did the US or Russia have a large number of their missiles aimed at the Dark Continent? But Britain didn't get bombed? Sheesh, must have been because Labour got those American missiles out of the UK.

You see what I mean? It doesn't even make good speculative fiction because you're too busy snorting and rolling your eyes in disbelief. That Moore was still in his nutbar political phase years later is evident in this snippet from the introduction to the 1988 DC edition:

It's 1988 now. Margaret Thatcher is entering her third term of office and talking confidently of an unbroken Conservative leadership well into the next century. My youngest daughter is seven and the tabloid press are circulating the idea of concentration camps for persons with AIDS....The government has expressed a desire to eradicate homosexuality, even as an abstract concept, and one can only speculate as to which minority will be next legislated against.

That's just the usual paranoid ravings of a Leftist lunatic. Moore would go on to do tremendous work especially on Swamp Thing, Watchmen, Tom Strong, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and other comics. But this comic serves mostly as a marker of how far Moore improved as a writer (if not as a political observer) in his later efforts.
Ben Stein's Funny

He rips into the Democrats to the delight of an audience of Republicans.

Stein dished red meat to the $75-a-plate dinner crowd, calling Democrats the party of "death, defeatism and despair," disparaging the "haters" who "kick the military in the teeth" and unfairly mock President Bush.

Stein ripped into Hollywood, lambasting movie stars and industry executives for failing to mention the sacrifice of soldiers in the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts during this month's Academy Awards.

"Not one word of the military, not a single breath of congratulations to our fighting men and women ... not one prayer or moment of silence for those who have given their lives," he said. "And they complain about (falling box office numbers). Stop spitting in the face of Americans and maybe we will go to the movies."

The real stars, he said, aren't his Beverly Hills neighbors (he said he lives in a "tool shed" compared to some of the homes of actors who live near him), but those who are "wearing body armor in 130-degree heat, pulling 24-hour shifts" in the dangerous Sunni Triangle, the apex of armed opposition to the Iraqi Coalition government and Americans.
Friday, March 17, 2006
Bring Back The Viking!--Updated!

Many of you have no doubt heard the awful news that Betsy's Page was disappeared by Blogger. Even worse, some dirtbag liberal decided to try cyber-squatting on the site. Eric of Viking Pundit, who's one of the nicest guys in the blogosphere has also apparently lost the archives of his blog. Fortunately a friend of his grabbed the Viking Pundit blogspot, so that Eric will not have to deal with the additional hassle of getting back his location.

Not surprisingly, Eric is a little discouraged and pondering whether to continue blogging. I'd like everybody to take a moment and send a quick message of encouragement to Eric.

Update: Eric's back but he's apparently lost his archives. The good news is that much like Tom Sawyer, he got to witness the eulogies at his own funeral and realized just how much his efforts have been appreciated.
Happy St. Pats!

For all those who are Irish or wish they were (which about covers it).

My Green Beer story: On St Paddy's Day my junior year of college, there was a party where they served green beer. I had one or twelve, and the next morning I woke up about five minutes before my first class. So I hopped into my clothes and headed off down the walkway. And noticed that everybody seemed to be staring at me. So I get to class and everybody there is kinda checking me out as well.

It wasn't until after the class that I found out why. The beer had been colored green with food coloring, which had gotten on my lips. Overnight, the color changed to black so it looked like I was wearing black lipstick--an early Goth!
Terry Gilliam as the Black Knight

I'll confess to being just a tad disappointed after reading this story about one of the creative minds behind Monty Python's Flying Circus. Gilliam was a terrific director and Brazil was one of the funniest movies I've ever seen. But he's as clueless as Oliver Stone when not behind the camera.

He reassured me that the terrorism we've endured here was no worse than the "IRA blitz" in London and looked disbelieving when I told him I grew up in London and there was no comparison between the two.

Having visited Israel once before, in the mid-1980s, he pronounced that the big difference on our side of the divide today was how much "more bourgeois" we had become, and "how skilled at shopping."

He told me that, given our "military might," we had no justification for our paranoid fear of being pushed into the sea, and that we need not take too seriously "the idiot" Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's pursuit of a nuclear capability and threat to wipe us off the map. Ahmadinejad, he said, unveiling his second Hebrew word of the conversation (the first was "balagan"), was talking up our elimination "davka" - simply because he could, not because he really meant anything by it.
Thursday, March 16, 2006
How Dumb is Matt Millen?

Dumb enough to pay $4 million upfront for Josh McCown.

This part of the story made me laugh though:

Kitna's deal got done Tuesday, then McCown's on Thursday, when he reached agreement with the Lions on a two-year, $6 million contract that will pay him $4 million this season. McCown's decision instantly sets up a starting quarterback battle between he and Kitna. As a veteran, Kitna holds the advantage and McCown needs some grooming before he is ready to start anyway.

More grooming? McCown's been in the league 4 years already. He just seems like he needs grooming because he hasn't made a step forward since he entered the league. And having Jon Kitna as your stopgap for next year is a good sign that you haven't got a prayer. Kitna's a decent backup quarterback but he's nobody to rely on, like McCown.

It is getting to the point where I expect the weekend weatherman to remark "But real storms are brewing in Detroit, where Matt Millen should be fired." What are the Fords waiting for?
Moron the Netkooks' Efforts to Unseat Cuellar

Jonathan Gurwitz looks at my favorite story from last week:

In the March 7 primary, Mr. Cuellar won with 53% of the vote to Mr. Rodriguez's 41% (a third candidate taking the rest). He increased his margin of victory over Mr. Rodriguez in 2004 in 10 out of 11 counties, besting his principal opponent by nearly 5,600 votes--despite the efforts of the netroots activists. "A lot of energy and money was wasted in the Democratic primary that could have been used to defeat Republicans in November," says Colin Strother, a general consultant for Mr. Cuellar's campaign. "The netroots people took their eyes off the ball--taking the House back from the Republicans," he says. "They only knew one picture. They knew nothing about the district."

Blogger Moulitsas is unapologetic. "So we didn't kill off Cuellar," he wrote in an entry on his blog, "but we gave him an ass whooping where none was expected and made him sweat. That's the reason why Lieberman is sweating in Connecticut," referring to another netroots challenge against another centrist Democrat.

So far, threats like these seem the best the Angry Left can muster. They now have a disastrous 0-17 record stretching back to 2004. The netroots leaders resemble nothing so much as World War I commanders, who after each successive setback maintained that victory was tantalizingly close, and lobbed more artillery shells and threw more troops over the top. Similarly among the netroots, the article of faith is that victory is only a matter of trying harder, upping the rhetoric and raising more money.
CentCom Update

Here's a long report on US Central Command's plans for 2006. Some news you won't hear in the MSM:

At the height of the December 2005 elections, there were approximately 154,000 U.S. forces and 21,000 Coalition forces in Iraq. Significant air, naval and special operations forces supported these troops from within Iraq and across the region. These numbers have decreased in recent months to approximately 130,000 U.S. and 19,000 Coalition troops. The most significant change in terms of troop levels in 2005 was the number of trained and equipped Iraqi Security Forces (ISF). In January 2005, there were 127,000 total Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Interior security forces, or 78 battalions. About a year later, there were approximately 231,000 combined security forces constituting more than 160 battalions. More important, these increasingly capable Iraqi forces are assuming greater responsibility for combating the insurgency.

I'm pleased to be on CentCom's mailing list for information like this from the people who know what they're talking about. Unfortunately, there are others on the list who probably shouldn't be.
Is Bush the Reincarnation of Hitler

As Jay Bennish said, there are some eerie similarities, as Mr Right finds when he examimes the evidence. This one's hilarious!
Yet Moron Rachel Corrie

Here's an unintentionally hilarious tribute to Ribbon Girl.

If there were poetic justice, if Hollywood or the publishing industry had true courage, the story of Rachel Corrie would be coming to a big screen or bookstore near you.

Yes, it's only been the subject of three stage plays. There's already a book out; somebody forgot to tell Robert Jamieson how to search Amazon.

Whichever the case, too many people are reflexively afraid of Rachel's message, of what her short life and brutal death means.

Nobody's afraid of Rachel's message. We've heard it ad nauseum from the left well before her death.

The New York Theater Workshop recently canceled a scheduled production of a play about Rachel amid rumors that gurus in the theater world and pro-Israel audiences would not like a script challenging their view of the world.

In Seattle, the Bread and Puppet Theater production of "Daughter Courage," a different play about Rachel, met with warm embrace. Still, my colleague, Regina Hackett, who wrote about it, received a rash of rebuke. On the Seattle P-I's online blog, "Dr. Evil" wrote: "Only in this wonderful, liberal city would a pathetic naive girl who tried to protect terrorists be celebrated."

Oh, the horror of a rash of rebuke! And actually Hackett wrote an excellent review of the play that I cited here, where she got in the face of the people involved and asked them some tough questions that they ducked.

Isn't ConWorks presenting a monologue instead of a dialogue?

"Well, OK, a monologue then," said Pearlstein. "But all these monologues add up to dialogues during our season."

During the season, will there be plays or artworks of any kind sympathetic to the struggles of the Israeli people?

"I'll have to double-check on that," he said.

Back to Jamieson:

If fear of offending Israel -- a country in blind lockstep with the United States on foreign policy -- drives this second silencing of Rachel, then her story is needed now more than ever.

Hmmm, he needs to check his left-wing playbook; the usual accusation is that the US is in blind lockstep with the Israelis.

Friends of Israel and Jews tend to react fast when they feel they're getting a raw deal.

That's getting pretty doggone close to outright anti-Semitism.

Seattle official Cindi Laws learned this the hard way. She made remarks that were considered anti-Semitic during a re-election bid for the monorail board, and people howled. Laws lost.

Here's a link to a Seattle P-I piece on that particular controversy.

In the interview, said Marc Auerbach, an interview panelist, Laws was asked about her opponent and said she "was worried because she perceived that Jews have contributed a lot of money to the anti-monorail campaigns in the past, that Beth Goldberg is Jewish, and that will make it easy for (Goldberg) to potentially raise a lot of money because of those connections."

Funny thing, but if you blame something on the Jooooos, people tend to consider it anti-Semitic and howl a bit.

And remember what happened in 2004? The local Middle Eastern community tried to get pro-Palestinian language in the plank of the King County Democratic Party platform. Again, people howled. The language got nixed.

In both instances, the message was clear: Don't mess with us.

Note: the word "us" is italicized. I think he means the Jooooos. Here's a discussion of the King County controversy.

The story overflows with potential villains, starting with the Israeli government, which illegally uses bulldozers as weapons of terror; Palestinians who resort to suicide bombs as an insane tool of revenge; and, even, U.S.-based Caterpillar, which counts the money as its bulldozers are used to spill blood.

Not to mention naive young girls who support the terrorists.

There's room for cameos by the State Department, which could ramp up pressure to get answers, and by concerned Israeli citizens who also want to know if the bulldozer operator, as he claims, didn't see Rachel in her bright orange vest. There's the bigger question of why no "Palestinian evil" was unearthed at the home Rachel died trying to protect.

Here's a picture that was widely published at the time of Corrie's death:

Now it should be obvious that the bulldozer operator could not see anything below the top of the blade. We cannot see from the photo where the operator is sitting, but we can draw a line from the top of Rachel's head to the top of the blade and continue that.

It appears obvious that in this photo, the operator of the bulldozer could not see anything of Rachel, let alone her orange jacket.

And the end of the column dissolves into self-parody:

When I spoke with Craig and Cindy Corrie a few weeks ago, they'd just come back home to the Seattle area after a rattling episode. In the Middle East, Palestinian activists had tried to kidnap them. The activists had a change of heart when they were told the couple's last name. If that is not a powerful testament to Rachel's legacy, I don't know what is.

Oh, they were "Palestinian activists"? Not terrorists who recognized who was on their side? Snicker.

For more unintentional Corrie hilarity, check out Van Helsing. A pancake breakfast for Rachel?

Also here's a tribute to Rachel from a Kossack named jon the antizionist jew:

I was standing with 23-year-old American activist Rachel Corrie when an Israeli soldier intentionally drove over and crushed her to death with a US-made Caterpillar bulldozer. A month later, I was with 22-year-old British activist Tom Hurndall, helping to move Palestinian children out of the line of Israeli sniper fire when that sniper purposefully shot Tom in the head.

If it's all the same to you, jon, I don't think I want to be standing anywhere near you.
Impeachment? We Don't Know Nothing About Birthin' No Impeachment

Brendan Nyhan:

Back on February 15, I flagged Paul Weyrich's article claiming that "if Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is Speaker of the House come next year George W. Bush will be impeached." Matthew Yglesias picked up the post on Tapped, and the impeachment meme started to go mainstream. Yesterday, as I noted, the Wall Street Journal editorial page claimed that a Democratic House majority would be likely to impeach Bush.

He ties it into this article in the New York Times, which does indeed lead with it:

Republicans, worried that their conservative base lacks motivation to turn out for the fall elections, have found a new rallying cry in the dreams of liberals about censuring or impeaching President Bush.

Of course, to Nyhan, this is a meme or "hype". His earlier post is here. But check out this little bit:

Does anyone actually think the House Democrats would impeach Bush on a narrow party-line vote knowing they will fail to convict in the Senate?

But what if, as many Democrats hope, they not only get a majority in the house but they manage to take the Senate as well?

What Nyhan is essentially saying here is that while the netkooks may holler for impeachment, the grownups in the party--the elected representatives--are not that stupid. I suspect he's pretty close. Of course, Conyers will hold impeachment hearings, and the New York Times will pretend that every day produces new revelations, so there's no room for Republicans to be complacent. But it's nice to hear one of the liberal bloggers acknowledge that all the impeachment talk going around the lefty blogs is crap.

Aravosis has a similar take:

As an election ploy, the Republicans want to declare all out the-sky-is-falling war against a straw-man, a going-nowhere-fast resolution offered by one single Senator, with barely any other Democratic support. It's all bull, but the GOP want to rally their base, and lying isn't past them, it's their standard operating procedure.

So how does the NYT respond?

Does it say, gosh, there really isn't much of a story here. The Republicans have been using the bogeyman about impeachment to motivate their base for a while now, and Feingold's resolution, well, it was nice but it didn't do much. Oh no. The NYT rises to the occasion and gives the Republicans a big wet kiss, an article talking about how this one highly-unlikely resolution has revived the ailing Republican party from the brink of disaster.
Wednesday, March 15, 2006
Busy Tonight

Go check out Kitty Litter, who has an excellent post on her own March Madness.

You know how Democrats frequently use misleading props? Pam Meister has an excellent example of a Democratic senator who believes in truth in advertising.

Pam co-blogs with me, Kitty, Aaron and Dodo David over at Lifelike Pundits, and she has an excellent post over there on smut for teenaged girls.
Death of Japan?

Here's another terrific Mark Steyn column.

And the alternative? Well, a year ago, the country's toymakers, with fewer and fewer children to serve, began marketing a new doll called Yumel - a baby boy with a range of 1,200 phrases designed to serve as companions for elderly Japanese. He says not just the usual things - "I wuv you" - but also ask the questions your grandchildren would ask if you had any: "Why do elephants have long noses?" Yumel joins his friend, the Snuggling Ifbot, a toy designed to have the conversation of a five-year old child which its makers, with the usual Japanese efficiency, have determined is just enough chit-chat to prevent the old folks going senile.
Feingold Resolution Scaring Dems

Dana Milbank is back with another funny column on how hard the Democrats are trying to run away from the censure resolution.

Next in the Senate TV gallery came Schumer. An aide hung up a poster showing a port. The senator called the ports situation "extremely troubling." The aide hung up a poster of an Exxon cartoon. "Obscene profits," decreed Schumer, equally passionately.

CNN's Henry asked the Feingold question. Schumer ended the news conference.

Every now and then Milbank surprises me with a delightful article like this one. I believe he's a liberal, but not a goofy liberal like the left-wing bloggers.
McCain Mutiny?

John Hawkins is a little tired of all the McCain frontrunner stories and sets the record straight.

I agree with about 90% of what John writes here, but I disagree on the electability issue. McCain may not be "nominatable", but if he were to get the nomination, I absolutely believe he would be a formidable candidate in the general election with an excellent chance of crushing whomever the Democrats choose. Yes, the media coverage would not be as fawning as it is when they can use McCain's words to bash Bush. But there are a lot of independents who've made up their minds on the little admiral, and they are overwhelmingly in favor of him.
Airiheadda Compiled Clooney's Post

Update: Kitty reminds us that Clooney reportedly had a blog in 2004, that ended just before the election.

Apparently Clooney stands by his words, but didn't like them posted as a blog entry. Airiheadda explains:

When I first invited George Clooney to blog after a screening of Good Night, and Good Luck in New York a few months ago, he said he wasn't sure how a blog worked. So we put together a sample blog from answers he had given on Larry King Live and an interview with the Guardian in London, and sent it to him to rework in any way he wanted.

A publicist who was working on the promotion of Good Night, and Good Luck, emailed back saying, "I will get it to him and get back to you as soon as I hear anything." Three days later, she emailed again, approving, without any changes, what we had sent: "Of course this is fine, Arianna!"

Of course, you'd think that Arianna would know the difference between a blog post, and a blog, but hey, she's only been doing this gig since May.
The Tarheel Terrorist

Buckley F. Williams has a hilarious post on the media's attempt to ignore the jihadi aspect to the recent incident where a Muslim student tried to kill some of his fellow Tarheels with an SUV.
Carnival of the Clueless is Up!

Rick Moran's back with the 36th instalment of my favorite carnival.
Test Post
Tuesday, March 14, 2006
The Amazing Race Recap

The teams travel to a zip line where they will have a ride above the trees. Survivor had this as a reward last season. Because there will be a wait until 7:00 AM, there is pretty good bunching here, as the hippies had a big lead; they departed at 4:48 and their closest competitors were at 5:01, with the next group at 5:18. The ride to the zip line takes about 40 minutes with the result that everybody leaving before 6:20 is effectively at the same restart.

The hippies still take the first ride down the zip line. Their next clue says Moscow. There's a race to the bus stop that will take them to Sao Paolo airport, where they can catch one of three buses. But this seems a needless diversion as all nine pairs end up on the same Lufthansa flight to Frankfurt and then to Moscow.

They visit a water sports facility, where we encounter tonight's roadblock. Most choose the least athletic member here because it simply requires jumping off a 10-meter platform into the water and then swimming down a few feet to get the next clue. In a bizarre bit, Michelle argues with hubby Lake that she doesn't want to do it because "What if they make me get naked"? Uh, lady, despite the later hour this season, I don't think CBS is quite ready for that!

Yolanda appears to be having trouble but she comes through. So do a couple others. But the real problem turns out to be the mother in the mother and daughter team. It turns out she doesn't know how to swim underwater, so the team loses precious time trying to get the clue.

The hippies leave this location in first as well. They visit a beautiful monastery where they find that the next task is a detour: teams must choose between scrubbing a trolley car or searching through nested Russian Dolls for a clue. Most teams choose the trolley car washing, but they miss one rather obvious fact; most taxi car drivers are unlikely to know where the trolley car yard is located, while they would know the theatre where the dolls are. Sure enough, the hippies and the old couple (who have vaulted all the way to second) start out looking for a trolley car and decide in midstream to find the theatre instead, losing precious time.

About this time, Team Pink discovers that they've left their money behind at the swimming center, and must double back. This gives the mother and daughter team, who have finally gotten their clue, encouragment to continue fighting.

As it works out, the Mother and Daughter and Team Pink are the first to find the trolley car yard and begin scrubbing, closely followed by the pinks. A couple others show up, while the remaining teams are cursing their luck as they go through 1500 dolls each of which contains about a dozen nested smaller dolls.

The frat boys (I think) are the first to find the clue in the dolls and they head off to Red Square and St. Basil's, followed quickly by Lake and Michelle. Who will be the first to the mat? As it works out, Eric and Jeremy arrive first, but there's something wrong. Phil is alone on the mat; where's the native to say "Welcome to Moscow"?

The answer of course is that the leg isn't over; they're still racing.

Viking Pundit seems to be down right now.--Update: Eric emailed me to say that blogger appears to have lost his blog. Let's all say a little prayer that they "find" it again.

Later Update: Phil Keoghan (host of the show) has his own blog here.
Bush Meets Autistic Hoops Hero

You want to know why we love President Bush? Check out his comments after meeting the autistic kid who poured in 20 points in the final minutes of a high school basketball game, in his one chance to play for the team:

Bush said he learned about McElwain from seeing him on TV.

"I wept, just like a lot of other people did," he said, as McElwain beamed beside him.

Nothing but net!

Hat Tip: Michelle Malkin

Also, courtesy of Lucianne, here's a video clip to go with the story.
Not All Liberal Bloggers Are Buffoons

I can't tell you how sorry I am to read this article:

Events such as the Progressive Reading Series are an indication of the interest that liberal organizers are showing in the traditionally unsexy topic of midterm congressional elections. The beneficiaries are largely politicians far outside the Bay Area's politically blue bubble.

Realizing there's no need to spend energy on safe congressional seats on left-leaning coasts, liberal activists are soliciting cash for Democratic candidates battling for an estimated 30 competitive House seats in the middle of the country. The take from the most recent reading night, for example, went to a liberal hopeful in New Mexico.

Two guesses as to which liberal hopeful:

San Francisco author and political junkie Stephen Elliott, who organizes the event, said the 200 attendees had contributed $2,700 for New Mexico Attorney General Patricia Madrid, a Democrat who is challenging GOP incumbent Rep. Heather Wilson for her congressional seat.

Elliot's something of a weirdo, as I've covered before. But apparently he's a politically savvy weirdo, unlike Kos and many of his fellow liberal bloggers.
State of Education?

Nathan Tabor reports on the news that more folks can name the Simpsons than can list the rights included in the first amendment to the constitution.

Here’s why this is so important: there are numerous instances today of individuals trying to take away our freedoms. For instance, our freedom of speech is threatened by those who say that the only allowable speech on our college campuses should be politically correct speech. Our freedom of religion is routinely targeted by groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union, who want to ban God from our schools, courthouses, and civic buildings. Freedom of assembly is challenged by those who believe the only legitimate protests are the left-wing kind.

Of course, the news media routinely trumpet freedom of the press—but it is only one segment of the press many of them are interested in. For instance, conservative columnist Ann Coulter is vilified for expressing her anti-left, anti-establishment views. Fox News is accused of pandering to the right—even though its mission is to provide fair and balanced coverage.

Let me just add that it's not all that surprising to me that people lack a basic understanding of the Bill of Rights. Think of all the "important" stuff that schools have to teach these days, like how to put a condom on a banana. All that knowledge takes time that would otherwise be wasted on useless trivia about a document written by a bunch of dead white males. (Sarcasm, obviously).
Illegal Alien Rally in Chicago

John Ruberry has the details. Check out the hilarious picture accompanying that posts. Also, John points us to Freedom Folks' post on how the illegal alien bill being pushed by John McCain and Teddy Kennedy affects the Irish.
Interview with a Mil-Blogger

The Real Ugly American interviews a mil-blogger currently stationed in Iraq. Mr UA really does a great job with these interviews, and this one comes highly recommended.
Times Takes on Electoral College--Updated!

Proving that no quest is too quixotic if it (arguably) helps the Democrats, the Times takes on the Electoral College.

There are decent arguments to be made for and against the Electoral College, but in typical NYT fashion, only the latter are expressed here. In the interests of balance, here are the arguments in favor of the Electoral College:

1. It forces political candidates to campaign in smaller states. Would any presidential candidate waste his time in South Dakota or Wyoming if not for the electoral college?

2. It limits recounts to individual states. Remember Florida 2000? Imagine that played out in fifty different states.

3. It limits the effects of cheating.

The Times rightly notes that the current system:

It also discriminates among voters by weighing presidential votes unequally. A Wyoming voter has about four times as much impact on selecting that state's electors as a California voter does on selecting that state's.

True enough, but what would happen if we abolished the Electoral College? Obviously the big states would have more power. Pardon me if I don't think that's a good idea.

The Times does mention an ingenious end run around the constitutional amendment process:

But National Popular Vote, which includes several former members of Congress, is offering an ingenious solution that would not require a constitutional amendment. It proposes that states commit to casting their electoral votes for the winner of the national popular vote. These promises would become binding only when states representing a majority of the Electoral College signed on. Then any candidate who won the popular vote would be sure to win the White House.

Paul asks why big states shouldn't have more power. But of course, they do have huge power as it is. California is a state that neither party can really afford to write off. New York gets tons of attention even if it's not realistically in play anymore because of its status as the media capital. Florida and Texas get a lot of attention; every election since 1980 has had a Texan on the ballot save 1996 (1988 had two). Pennsylvania, Ohio, New Jersey; all of these states get plenty of attention.

To change the rules so California gets more attention seems silly. California already has 55 electoral votes, more than 10% (10.2% to be precise) of the total necessary to elect a president And in 2004, a little more than 10% (10.1% to be precise) of the nation's votes came from California. So it's hard to see that California's getting screwed here; in fact the small states are getting a small advantage, but it doesn't add up to much in the face of a behemoth.

And note that the advantage for small states arises simply because of the Senate. Now I know a lot of people would like to change the Senate as well, but the Senate/House system was essentially a compromise between small states and large states. The large states got the power in the House, and the small states got the power in the Senate. It is clear that this compromise was intended and agreed to at the time by both the large and the small states. And it is not hard to argue that the makeup of the Electoral College was also part of that compromise.

To a certain extent, the Times' endorsement of this measure is a perfect example of the "something for nothing" Democrats. It's the painless miracle cure for what ails the donkeys' presidential hopefuls. But there are no miracle cures. The Democrats have been avoiding taking the hard measures needed to build a majority party because they keep believing that some killer slogan will get them back in the W column.
Liberal Bloggers Selling Conservative Narratives?--Updated

Peter Daou gripes endlessly about the media selling narratives that favor Republicans. You know, Republicans strong, Dems weak, or Democrats have no message. But when will he start chastising his fellow liberal bloggers at the HuffPo and elsewhere for the same thing?

Cenk Uygur, who's always good for a laugh, gets the ball rolling with a post entitled:

Note to Moronic Democratic Senators: Americans Can't Stand George Bush

But on the other hand, the Democrats refuse to be outcowarded. In the face of overwhelming facts -- on their side for the love of God -- they will not back their fellow Senator in pressing forward with a censure.

Dems cowardly, anybody?

RJ Eskow repeats that narrative:

Without the power and wisdom of Solomon, the "bully" player will always prevail. So it's possible to view the Democratic leadership as the "chicken" player who fails because, time and time again, they would rather lose than destroy the political process which they value and believe is still functioning as it did before the GOP changed the rules.

Dan Carol has a different narrative, but one that seems equally corrosive to the Democrats:

That said, while we need to help Rahm Emanuel and crew, as I have posted before, I shutter at the thought of Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi and Congressional Democrats doing a big photo op and a Democratic Contract with America. I am with the folks who suggest we give up on the national Democratic Party as a source for coherent national message anytime soon (yes, we should still hope for the best) and instead focus intelligently on helping our best candidates speak clearly in their own voice.

Trust me, there is no such thing as an organized Democratic national voice unless we have the Presidency -- or for the six months we have a nominee which will happen in June or so of 2008. The rest of the time we have a bunch of Senators and Governors who go their own way when they need to without any fear of a challenge - another argument for Party discipline and parliamentary democracy we can do another time.

What about Peter's buddy, Glenn Greenwald? Posting over at Crooks & Liars:

This response is not uncommon. Many - if not most - national Democrats really are afraid of working with actual citizens, and are particularly afraid of having any involvement at all with the blogosphere. It's as though they think they need to remain above and separated from the poorly behaved, embarrassing masses. They actually have been scared away from working with the very people who they are supposedly representing and who are on their side.

Dems out of touch elites? Nice narrative! Meanwhile, the Anonymous Liberal, posting over at Greenwald's blog:

And like it or not, Senator Feingold has put this proposal out on the table. It can no longer be ignored. Either the Democrats will vote their consciences and come across as confident and principled, or they will once again look fractured and cowardly, uncomfortable in their own skin.

A three-fer! Cowardly, disorganized and elitist!

Update: Yet more, from David Sirota:

The American Heritage Dictionary describes the term "weak" as "lacking firmness of character or strength of will, lacking aptitude or skill, lacking the ability to function normally or fully or lacking authority or the power to govern." Incredibly, even with President Bush at an all-time low, we are watching the Democratic Party in Washington fulfill all these definitions and more.

Democrats weak, anybody?

And still more:

If you are one of those Democrats like me who is completely fed up with the inside-the-Beltway party hacks who continue to lose elections because they have no spine and no vision, listen closely to a little something you can do this week to rap the knuckles of the Democratic Party machine.

Dems cowardly and lack vision? Is there no end to the Republican narratives being spun by liberal bloggers?
To Deliver the Poetry Recital at Hillary's Inauguration?

I suspect Hill will have a hard time resisting this one:

Some call Autum Ashante a prodigy, a 7-year-old girl who has traveled the world and received accolades for her socially conscious poetry. Others, particularly some parents and students in Peekskill who said a racially charged poem the girl recited sparked a mini-furor, wondered if she was being misguided.

Autum, who lives in Mount Vernon with her father, Batin Ashante, is in the center of a firestorm after performing a controversial recitation at a Black History Month event at Peekskill's middle and high schools. She read an original poem, entitled "White Nationalism Put U In Bondage," that describes Christopher Columbus and Charles Darwin as "pirates" and "vampires" for robbing black people of their culture, identity and wealth.

In the piece, Autum, writes: "Black lands taken from your hands, by vampires with no remorse. They took the gold, the wisdom and all of the storytellers. They took the black women, with the black man weak. Made to watch as they changed the paradigm of our village."

Of course, Hillary will probably ask her to tone down the part about Darwin.
Monday, March 13, 2006
Feingold Censure Measure Draws Huge Support

Just not from people who make their living playing political poker with real chips.
George Needs a Clooney

Posting over at the Huffpo is none other than Mr Syriana himself. The post is typically moronic:

I am a liberal. And I make no apologies for it. Hell, I'm proud of it.

Too many people run away from the label. They whisper it like you'd whisper "I'm a Nazi." Like it's dirty word. But turn away from saying "I'm a liberal" and it's like you're turning away from saying that blacks should be allowed to sit in the front of the bus, that women should be able to vote and get paid the same as a man, that McCarthy was wrong, that Vietnam was a mistake. And that Saddam Hussein had no ties to al-Qaeda and had nothing to do with 9/11.

The only people who "whisper" that they are liberals are politicians trying to get elected in states other than Massachusetts. Hell, even John Kerry dodged the question.

This is an incredibly polarized time (wonder how that happened?). But I find that, more and more, people are trying to find things we can agree on. And, for me, one of the things we absolutely need to agree on is the idea that we're all allowed to question authority. We have to agree that it's not unpatriotic to hold our leaders accountable and to speak out.

Are you questioning my patriotism?

But even sillier than Clooney's post are the responses, which range from servile to unctuous:

Amen, my friend. The work you're doing -- the movies you're making, the stands that you are taking when given a public platform -- are enormously important to this country. We desperately need your voice in this culture. Speak loudly, and often.


Posted by: hategun on March 13, 2006 at 01:20am

I have often said that the rightwing fascist element ultimately cannot win, because no matter how good they are at deceiving people with a false reality, they are weak and amateurish compared with Hollywood.

It is Hollywood, more than any other single factor, that shapes our culture. The rise of the Bush-Cheney fascists is a crisis the likes of which I'm not sure this country has ever seen before. Hollywood could do so much more to expose fascist lies and help ordinary people see what is really going on. Thank you George Clooney for taking the lead.

Posted by: daltoni on March 13, 2006 at 01:27am

Hollywood, the hope of America!

I know what I'm going to say takes courage but here it goes:

If by wanting a balanced budget means I'm a Liberal then by God I am one.

If by wanting to question my government about civil liberties and the rule of law in the case of illegal wiretapping means I'm a Liberal then by God I am one.

If by wanting to reduce the number of people in poverty up to the middle class means I'm a Liberal then by God I am one.

Posted by: ProudProgressiveDemocrat on March 13, 2006 at 01:36am

Nice to see somebody in favor of killing the poor. ;)
Moron the Lefty Bloggers

Glenn Greenwald is now posting over at Crooks & Liars in addition to his own blog, which raises the obvious question: Which is he, a crook or a liar?

He takes a look at the New York Times' book review of Kos and Armstrong's book, Storming the Gates.

The review is surprisingly positive:

Much of the authors' criticism of the party establishment is dead-on. They rail against political consultants who take 15 percent commissions on media buys while giving bad advice. They are especially incensed by what they see as the self-defeating role of special interests, notably Naral Pro-Choice America's decision to endorse Senator Lincoln Chafee, a Rhode Island Republican, over two pro-abortion-rights Democrats. If Mr. Chafee wins, he could ensure that the Republican Party, which has an aggressive anti-abortion agenda, keeps control of the Senate.

Greenwald's take is interesting, if only because it undercuts much of his supposed raison d'etre. Greenwald proclaims himself to be largely conservative on a lot of issues, just another Republican turned off by Bush. And yet, if you read his Crooks & Liars post, it's quite apparent that he's rooting for the Democrats, and not just Democrat moderates, but the darlings of the netkooks:

Bush followers, along with their media allies, recognize the lurking power of the anti-Bush component of the blogosphere and -- for that very reason -- have been expending considerable efforts recently to demonize it as nothing but fringe, extremist lunatics who are political poison. Rather than combat that demonization, national Democrats -- as usual -- have meekly acquiesced to it -- even internalized it -- and are now intimidated to go anywhere near one of the very few vibrant, living and breathing instruments of political activism available to them.

They don't want to go anywhere near the citizen activism in the blogosphere because Tim Russert and Chris Matthews will no longer think they're a moderate, serious, responsible Democrat, and Republicans might accuse them of being an extremist or a liberal. They'd prefer to avoid that disapproval even it means losing (as it usually does), than be criticized and win. The reason they run away from their own allies in the blogosphere is the same reason they so often run away from taking a real stand against the Bush Administration -- it's because they are petrified that the establishment media and even Republicans will criticize them as being too combative, too liberal, extremist, etc.

You know, the weird thing about this is you sense that Greenwald's far too smart to believe the stupid things he writes. Does he really believe that the netkooks like Kos and (to a lesser degree) Armstrong aren't toxic? Does he really think that the Democrats would start cruising to victory if they bashed Bush with the abandon of an Atrios or a Firedoglake? Does he really think that the Democrats are cowed by Tim Russert and Chris Matthews?

My sense of things remains the same. The Left-wing blogosphere is pulling the Democrats to the Left, while the Right-wing blogosphere is pulling the Republicans to the center. That is a recipe for long-term disaster for the Democrats. They may survive, provided the administration continues to make mistakes. But if there is a significant improvement in the situation in Iraq, if the economy continues to hum along, if Cindy Sheehan remains the face of the antiwar movement, we could be seeing the last few years of the Democrats.
How to Win Your Office NCAA Pool

Okay, same drill as last year. Get yourself a real set of brackets that shows the location of the early round games. Oddly, this set does not show the Final Four location, which is Indianapolis. Then get the Sagarin ratings from USA Today. In general, you will pick the team with the higher Predictor Rating (shown in blue), although you should always increase the rating by four points for any team that is playing near their home.

Here are the top ten teams in Predictor:

Duke 94.83
Texas 93.74
Connecticut 92.63
Villanova 92.44
North Carolina 91.54
Kansas 90.67
Memphis 89.95
Florida 89.8
Illinois 88.72
Ohio State 88.31

As you can see, looking at the brackets and locations, Duke has probably the easiest road to the Final Four, although their regional final against Texas should probably be for the national championship. Still they play their first two rounds in Greensboro (effectively home games) and their regional is in Atlanta. Villanova gets the gift of the first two rounds in Philly, while Florida plays in Jacksonville, Ohio State in Dayton, UCLA in San Diego, and Texas in Dallas. Figure all those teams to win their opening two games.

Memphis seems to me to be the least likely #1 to make the Final Four, with Kansas the most likely team to knock them off in the regional semis. I like the other #1 seeds to make it to the big dance, with Villanova seeming to have the easiest probable regional final. Early upsets? I like George Mason against Michigan State in the first round. North Carolina Wilmington should have the edge against George Washington as well.

The big winner? I reluctantly pick Duke, with senior leadership and excellent coaching providing the margin against U Conn. As I said above, the big test for them is probably the regional final against Texas.

Thanks for the Link: Respublica, Pajamas Media
Lefty Bloggers Still Don't Get It

Their self-delusion continues unabated. Kos wants to claim credit for Stephanie Herseth's election to the at-large congress seat from South Dakota. Herseth was first elected in a special election to replace Bill Janklow, who was forced to resign after being convicted of killing a motorcyclist while speeding. She had come close to beating Janklow in 2002, and started the race with a large lead in the polling. She was the grand-daughter of a former South Dakota governor, and the daughter of a former SD legislator. She ended up winning by fewer than 3,000 votes.

Kos makes this point:

Backing the underdog means you will lose more often than not. Backing outside-the-establishment candidates mean we have to build momentum over time. Good thing for the modern conservative movement that they didn't pack it in after Barry Goldwater got crushed. They knew they were in it for the long haul, unlike the bitter, obsolete crew over at New Republic, cursing that newfangled people-powered media that has stripped them of whatever ill-gotten influence they used to wield.

But of course, Kos didn't just back the underdogs. He backed the underdogs who had no chance to win and told his readers they were in the running. Suppose I were to push you all to contribute to Hillary's senate opponent this year, writing all the time about how Hillary was going down, that we had her on the ropes. How would you feel if election day Hillary won by 20% or more (as I expect her to)? You'd feel cheated, right? I know I would.

Atrios goes to the other extreme:

If my goal in life was to support people who were "winners" I'd be writing checks to Joe Biden, Hilllary Clinton, and Ted Kennedy. All 3 of those candidates will win their next election. All 3 of those candidates have far more money than they need to win their next election. All 3 of those candidates still have no problem getting people to line up to give them even more money for their campaigns. If there's wasted money in campaigns that's where it is. And, yes, I know, that those candidates tend to pass on some money to other candidates, but I'm not sure how supporting party "kingmakers" is really of much value.

Of course, there is little sense in donating money to guaranteed winners. Kudos to Atrios for recognizing it. Being smart means recognizing the candidates who could win, but are not guaranteed it. We pushed John Thune as such a candidate in 2004. We're pushing Heather Wilson this time around on the same basis.

Aravosis, waging a pre-emptive strike against a supposed hit piece on liberal bloggers:

We'd expect, and hope, that the paper of record could do a more serious and deeper look at just how successful liberal bloggers and blogs have been, and how the future is pretty amazing if the bloggers and the established politicians can finally get together at full strength.

Yep, those liberal bloggers have been awfully successful. After all, they brought down Jeff Gannon!
Not To Worry

Howard Kurtz frets:

Having more choices is great. But are new-media outlets going to break the next story about warrantless domestic eavesdropping or secret CIA prisons? Investigative reporting is expensive, which is why the shrinking audience and growing layoffs among those who have been doing it are bad news for more than just these media dinosaurs.

Did old media really break these stories? Or were they spoonfed the information by leakers anxious to damage the administration?

Kurtz also rehashes the Wal-Mart bloggers story, mentioning our buddy Crazy Politico.
Sunday, March 12, 2006
Gender Gap or Marriage Gap?

Interesting article by Jacoby:

For decades, writes O'Beirne, feminists have been brandishing the gender gap. Eleanor Smeal, a former president of the National Organization for Women, published a triumphant book about it in 1984: ''Why and How Women Will Elect the Next President." But on Election Day that November, Democrat Walter Mondale was flattened by Ronald Reagan's 49-state landslide, despite Mondale's historic choice of a female running mate, New York congresswoman Geraldine Ferraro. Reagan won 62 percent of the male vote and 56 percent of the female vote -- a six-point gender gap, but probably not what Smeal had in mind.

Of the last seven presidential elections, Republicans have won five -- three times with more women's votes than the Democrats. For all the rhetoric about the mighty gender gap -- Democratic strategist Ann Lewis once called it ''the Grand Canyon of American politics" -- Republicans seem to bridge it without difficulty.

That's because women aren't monolithic voters, as O'Beirne emphasizes, and they don't march in lockstep to the beat of liberal drums. The best evidence of that is the electoral gap that really does matter in American politics -- the gap separating married women from those who are single.

Unlike the gender gap, there is nothing illusory about the marriage gap. Married women are more likely to vote Republican; unmarried women are more likely to vote Democratic. In the most recent presidential election, unmarried women voted for John Kerry by a 25-point margin, while President Bush won the votes of married women by an 11-point margin -- a marriage gap of 36 points.

''Want to know which candidate a woman is likely to support for president?" asked USA Today in 2004, as the Kerry-Bush race was heading into the home stretch. ''Look at her ring finger."

I also note that the Gender Gap is always portrayed as an advantage to the Democrats, even though there is an even larger gap between men, who vote disproportionately for the Republicans. Nobody ever wonders what the Democrats have to do to attract male voters, while there seems an endless number of columns speculating on what the Republicans have to do to attract women. Based on this article the answer seems clear; get them married!

Warren Farrell mentioned in one of his books that when he was working as a feminist (the lone male member of the board of NOW), he discovered that the group of people most opposed to feminist plans for affirmative action for women in the workplace were the wives of executives, who quite rightly realized that any gains for women would inevitably come at the expense of their husbands (and by extension, themselves).
Sunday Steyn

The master at the top of his game:

Meanwhile, a new Washington Post/ABC poll finds that, in the words of the Post, "nearly half of Americans -- 46 percent -- have a negative view of Islam, seven percentage points higher than in the tense months after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, when Muslims were often targeted for violence."

"Often" targeted? Want to put some hard numbers on that? Like to compare the "violence" Americans perpetrated on Muslims after the slaughter of thousands of their fellow citizens in the name of Allah with, say, the death toll perpetrated by Muslims annoyed over some itsy-bitsy cartoons in an obscure Danish newspaper? In September 2001, 99.99999 percent of Americans behaved with remarkable forbearance. If they're less inclined to give the benefit of the doubt these days, perhaps it's because of casual slurs like the Post's or the no-jihad-to-see-here-folks tone of the Times.


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