www.FamilyEntertainer.com  Joe Gandelman

      The Moderate Voice

A political independent and moderate's irreverent comments,
     analysis and links on important stories in the news.
      Written by veteran journalist
- Joe Gandelman -
    who is now a fulltime ventriloquist.

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Friday, April 30, 2004  

DAVID LETTERMAN ON BILL CLINTON'S MEMOIRS: The Real Dummy thanks Betsyspage for bringing this to our attention:

Top Ten Chapter Titles In Bill Clinton's Memoirs

10. 'I'm Writing This Chapter Naked'

9. 'I Pray Hillary Doesn't Read Pages 6, 18, 41-49, 76 And Everything Past 200'

8. 'Protecting The Constitution: How To Get Gravy Stains Out Of The Parchment'

7. 'A Few Of My Favorite Subpoenas'

6. 'From Gennifer to Paula to Monica: Why It Pays To Keep Lowering Your Standards'

5. '1995-1998: The Extra-Pasty Years'

4. 'Kneel To The Chief'

3. 'What's The Deal With That Moron You Guys Replaced Me With?'

2. 'NAFTA -- Bringing America Into... Ah Screw That, Who Wants To Read Some More About Bubba Gettin' Down?'

1. 'The Night I Accidentally Slept With Hillary'"
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 10:53 PM


COUNTRY STARS LAUNCH CELEBRITY-BRANDED FOODS: Country western singers are going into celebrity-branded foods in a big way. These include (not kidding) George Jones' bacon and bottled water; Tracy Byrd's sauces; and Dwight Yoakam's new foray into seafood.

Why stop with country western singers and why limit it to food? Why not expand it to anyone who is famous? Here are our suggestions (and no ideology is spared):

1. Janet Jackson Turkey Breast.
2. Janet Reno Moustache Remover
3. Rush Limbaugh Baloney
4. Al Franken Fertilizer
5. Michael Jackson Probe
6. William Shatner Ham
7. Monica Lewinsky Slurpee
8. Robert Dole Viagra (hey, he beat us to it!)
9. Mike Tyson Mace
10. The Moderate Voice Shrimp (HEY, CUT THE HEIGHT JOKES!)

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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 10:27 PM


DEA AGENT DOING GUN-SAFETY CLASS FOR KIDS SHOOTS HIMSELF IN THE LEG: It happened in Orlando, Florida. The report puts it this way: "The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration is investigating an incident in which one of its agents giving a presentation to Orlando-area children on gun safety shot himself in the thigh."

The gun used by the unnamed special agent, who was doing the class for kids and adults, was unloaded you see. The ever-efficient agent even had someone come up and attest to the fact it wasn't loaded. But it went off anyway and the agent was shot in the thigh.

But, the news report says, the agent got his point across:"Everyone was pretty shaken up," an adult witness said. "But the point of gun safety hit home. Unfortunately, the agent had to get shot. But after seeing that, my nephew doesn't want to have anything to do with guns."

We know he isn't a politician. A politician shoots himself in the foot.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 9:59 PM


HILLARY CLINTON IS UNDER FIRE for being critical of the Bush administration -- and also saying the U.S is in trouble in Iraq -- in a London-based Arab newspaper. And Eugene Volokh effectively argues the case for why she completely deserves it.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 11:53 AM


JOHN KERRY AND THE CATHOLIC CHURCH: You can read an interesting take on "Religious Belief and Public Morality" by Mario Cuomo by going here.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 11:46 AM


JOHN KERRY WILL PICK HIS VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE by the end of May, according to Newsweek's Howard Fineman.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 10:51 AM


MCCAIN DEFENDS NIGHTLINE AND BLASTS COMPANY THAT WON'T SHOW IT: At issue: Nightline's decision to read the names of the war dead in what it contends is a tribute -- and the decision by David Smith, President and CEO of Sinclair Broadcast Group to black out the show on his company's stations because he basically considers it anti-war propaganda. This is one of those issues that started in talk show radio and has blossomed from there. (See this post below for background).
---Arizona Senator John McCain sent Smith a stinging letter (full text here) which he says he writes to "strongly protest" the blackout. McCain notes that he is a war supporter and writes, in part:

I find deeply offensive Sinclair's objection to Nightline's intention to broadcast the names and photographs of Americans who gave their lives in service to our country in Iraq...

Buit every American has a responsibility to understand fully the terrible costs of war and the extraordinary sacrifices it requires of those brave men and women who volunteer to defend the rest of us; lest we ever forget or grow insensitive to how grave a decision it is for our government to order Americans into combat. It is a solemn responsibility of elected officials to accept responsibility for our decision and its consequences, and, with those who disseminate the news, to ensure that Americans are fully informed of those consequences.

War is an awful, but sometimes necessary business. Your decision to deny your viewers an opportunity to be reminded of war's terrible costs, in all their heartbreaking detail, is a gross disservice to the public, and to the men and women of the United States Armed Forces. It is, in short, sir, unpatriotic. I hope it meets with the public opprobrium it most certainly deserves.

---Wait a minute...Using the almost-verbatim standard contemptuously applied to The Moderate Voice last week when he advocated publishing military coffin photos, McCain MUST be an unpatriotic, closet-liberal who is disrespectful of the dead and can't think for himself.
---Or could it be that patriotism comes in many forms -- even in the confidence that the bulk of people in a democracy aren't children, can decide for themselves, and can stand by valid policies that require sacrifice.
---And that the costs of war judged to be necessary to defend American interests shouldn't be kept "out of sight, out of mind" at all in deference to the people who fell defending American interests.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 9:21 AM


NEWS FLASH: CNN reports that Michael Jackson has pleaded "not guilty" to child molestation charges. WE'RE SHOCKED!!!!!!
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 9:06 AM


ARE THE POLL RESULTS ACTUALLY WORSE FOR THE BUSH CAMP THAN AT FIRST GLANCE? Democratic commentator Ruy Teixeira says they are and he gives a highly detailed analysis here. His conclusion:"Iraq may not be "another Vietnam", in substantive terms. But sentiment about Iraq is starting to look more and more like sentiment about Vietnam. And if you're running for re-election, that ain't good."
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 8:41 AM


HEY, THEY STOLE THE ACT I WAS WORKING ON! Oxblog's Patrick Belton reports: "Only in Germany....A band in Germany, which performs only with giant panda heads covering their faces, is only releasing its subsequent albums in the form of mobile phone ringtones."
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 8:25 AM


MORE ON AMERICAN IDOL'S LATEST FALLEN LUMINARY: The Detroit Free Press has a classic piece that should be required reading for aspiring critics -- and lovers of good music of any kind anywhere.
---"Tell "American Idol" fans that this season's worst singer is coming to Detroit and they're bound to ask the obvious," writes Julie Hinds. "Would that be William Hung or John Stevens?"
---She answers the first part: Hung, the he-so-bad-I-can't-believe-he's-serious flunk-out who became a national sensation following his capital-punishment-deserving version of "She Bangs" -- leading to his own album which hit the Billboard top 40 (on a list with the similarly talented artists) -- is indeed performing at mall in Oakland.
---As for Stevens? She describes him as "the bad singer who was voted off "Idol" Wednesday night, thus reassuring music critics that America has regained its sanity. " (I woudn't go THAT far...)
---Her overall description of him is even more..ahem...colorful (and accurate):

The 16-year-old redhead has a voice only a relative could love, yet he advanced to the top six despite his Dean-Martin-crossed-with-Porky-Pig sound and Stan-Laurel-crossed-with-Conan-O'Brien looks. According to a gossip item on the "Entertainment Tonight" Web site, Stevens has spoken to the show's staff counselor to deal with the pressure. That's good to hear, because he's seemed so miserable during the "Idol" results nights that even he must be thrilled the agony is over.

---But there are serious issues, which she also raises: how fitting it is for 16-year-olds to be put in this position of being humiliated on national t.v., theories as to how he survived and other talented singers didn't, what happens when a good kid goes back to school with a national reputation as bargain basement Sinatra.
But William Hung? He's in a different category. Hung belongs to a long line of lovable novelties who've done their bit for show business, from ukelele-strumming Tiny Tim to the "Gong Show" contestants.
Hung isn't taking up valuable finalist space and ruining the chances of another singer with natural gifts. He's merely succeeding on a weird combination of chipperness, chutzpah and a complete lack of self-consciousness. Without shame, he's living out the revenge fantasies of every person who's ever gotten booed on karaoke night.

---Indeed, as we (happily) make our snide remarks in blogs and in newspapers, there are some serious cultural questions:
(1)From what seeds specifically did our 21st Century Culture of Outrageousness grow, where it is great entertainment to watch would-be entertainers be totally humiliated on stage (in my own case, as an entertainer, I know that to do a good show you first have to do bad shows and fix the things were bad before you can get good; way before my days live-onstage vaudeville, which doesn't exist anymore, filled that need).
(2)What's the impact on young people who have to go through this process?
(3)What mpact will this mass audience hit have on young people who are considering going into entertainment?
(4)What's the impact on those growing up on how they'll criticize someone (we believe it further nurtures the Culture of Outrageousness, where some people will try to emulate or top Simon's zingers in their daily lives).
(5)What's the longterm impact on the Great American Songbook when the one person representing that genre was not exactly the most inspiring figure. There are some good young artists doing this music on CDs and make doing it actually look cool; Stevens didn't precisely do that and almost made performance of these songs seem geekish.
(6)And what's the impact on television networks....WAIT! We already know THAT!
---Our (6) already has an answer: another network is going to do an American Idol rip off...but this time the judges have secretly conspired to only pick only the most undeserving.
---Hung and Stevens: get your audition dates now!
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 6:57 AM


MORE ON NIGHTLINE'S READING THE NAMES OF THE WAR DEAD TONIGHT: The San Diego Union-Tribune's TV columnist Bob Laurence, who for years I have said (and still do) is the best TV critic/writer in the country, has an excellent piece you can read here on that controversy (you may have to type in some basic info before you can read the story but it takes a second).
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 6:31 AM


WE SEEM TO BE (for now) BACK TO NORMAL: I note this site is loading a lot faster and back to normal (if we can ever be normal). Now we have to ponder this whole experience and see what we can do to prevent it from happening again. Thanks for your patience during this difficult 48 hours!
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 6:12 AM

Thursday, April 29, 2004  


NEW YORK The father of a U.S. Army soldier killed in Iraq earlier this month, who believes his son was in one of the caskets shown in the now famous Tami Silicio photograph, has written a letter to The Seattle Times thanking the newspaper for publishing the picture that broke a Pentagon ban.

"Hiding the death and destruction of this war does not make it easier on anyone except those who want to keep the truth away from the people," the father, Bill Mitchell, wrote yesterday. The letter has not yet been published.

In a postcript to the letter, he added: "I would be willing to help that poor woman in Kuwait [Silicio] who lost her job over the picture which she felt needed to be seen. Possibly even with enough press coverage, the other parents who lost children on the same day as my son would also feel that she did a service for us."

---(The Real Dummy thanks Hugo Zoom for the tip, which he got via Skimble)
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 11:27 PM


ABC'S NIGHTLINE READING THE NAMES OF THE WAR DEAD: IS IT TRIBUTE OR "PROPAGANDA"? ABC is under fire for Ted Koppel's show Friday night in which the names of more than 500 killed in action in Iraq (plus some 200 non-combat deaths) will be read.
---It'd be easy to be flippant on this issue or to insist that one side is totally right and the other is totally wrong. But it truly depends on one's perspective.
---Nightline thinks it's doing this as a tribute. But others, notably some talk show radio hosts and conservatives, sincerely believe it's anything but an attempt to honor the war dead. Indeed, the AP reports:

Sinclair Broadcast Group, a Maryland-based media company whose holdings include 62 TV stations, announced Thursday it would pre-empt “Nightline” on its eight ABC affiliates, including stations in Columbus, Ohio and St. Louis, Mo. The company said Friday’s program “appears to be motivated by a political agenda designed to undermine the efforts of the United States in Iraq.”

The company called the broadcast a political statement “disguised as news content,” pointing to the producers’ omission of “the names of thousands of private citizens killed in terrorist attacks” since 9-11.

---Sounds like they sincerely believe it, right? Now look at how ABC views it, according to the AP:
In its own statement, ABC said its news division had reported “hundreds of stories on 9-11” while noting that, on the first anniversary of that tragedy, it aired the victims’ names.
Friday’s “Nightline” broadcast “simply seeks to honor those who have laid down their lives for this country,” ABC said.

---So you have these positions:
(1)ABC feels this is the way to honor the dead and says they mean it, that the way to honor the dead is to acknowledge the deaths and the bravery.
(2)Critics think it's all a smokescreen, that this is being done now because it's an election year and it's an attempt to remind people how many people died, and make them see the human tragedy, to sow opposition to the war, which could stiffen "insurgents" and terrorists resolve and cost American lives.
---What does The Moderate Voice think?
---We think people can differ on this and believe they are totally correct.
---Last week a longtime business associate of ours totally quit due to our post advocating the publication of photos of military coffins -- photos run in the Los Angeles Times, as well as our local editorially conservative newspaper the San Diego Union, and various conservative websites. We wanted a small photo up here (like on other sites). He said no and considered TMV unpatriotic and disrespectful of the dead and ended all contact.
---EACH side is convinced they are correct on issues that involve how to honor the dead, freedom of speech's boundaries, and the "true" motivation of the OTHER side in taking THEIR position.
---Each side sees the other as having some kind of insidious agenda...when both sides may actually believe they are defending noble values.
--- It's the price of democracy -- and the tragedy of polarization.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 11:00 PM


LARRY SABATO'S CRYSTAL BALL AND SOME INTERNET PROPHETS: We posted earlier a distillation of the latest issue of University of Virginia Political Scientist Larry Sabato's election-year-vital free enewsletter Sabato's Crystal Ball. It contained his narrowed-down top five John Kerry Veep List. Now two Internet political prognosticators are saying "I told you so" because they've seen names of candidates they too thought could be in the running. John Cole of the lively conservative website Balloon Juice like Sabato predicted Evan Bayh as the Demmie VP candidate in December. And Seth Farber, of the equally lively liberal website The Talking Dog had predicted Bayh and another Sabato pick, LA Senator John Breaux. Meanwhile, Farber calls another on CB's list, Dick Gephard "a waste of oxygen, let alone a valuable place on the ticket."
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 10:24 PM


BUSHES 911 MEETING: MORE SILLINESS FROM THE PRESS AND INTERNET: Our politics has seemingly evolved into side issues break-dancing around larger issues -- witness a truly revealing story in the New York Times plus the-fuss-of-the-day starting on the Drudge Report and likely to echo on the radio talk show waves all day tomorrow.
--- THE REAL ISSUE AT HAND: President George Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney got questioned about 911 in a historic meeting before the 911 Commission. Even though the White House insisted the Prez and Veep's non-sworn testimony not be recorded, this literally involved life-and death issues: what happened in the days leading up to 911 and what should be fixed?
--SIDE ISSUE ONE: THE NEWS STORY:: The New York Times' a has a story on the fact that reporters, cameramen and photographers weren't allowed into the Bush-Cheney-Commission meeting. As everyone knows, Bush and Cheney insisted on being together, sort of like the political Bobsy Twins. But there was a press and photo blackout.
---So here is the lead on the Times piece:

If an important meeting takes place in the Oval Office and there are no television cameras to record it, did the meeting matter?"

---After noting how little time TV disdainfully devoted to it -- NO PICTURES TO SEE -- the Times said this:
The White House's insistence on a private, no-tech meeting made political sense: the president's aides have no interest in allowing pictures that might make him look vulnerable under questioning or overly reliant on his older vice president. But the nonvisual event was so anathema to television that at one point, the CNN anchor Daryn Kagan said it seemed as if "the event took place in the 18th century."

--- So, folks, we have now definitely entered the age of Marshall McCluhan -- where the medium is the message.
--- If there aren't PICTURES TO SEE and there aren't TAPES WITH VOICES TO HEAR the event is irrelevant (well, I guess so; it was the same way at my bris).
--- True, reporters would have been (and are) trying to get tidbits out of commission members to reconstruct what was said because there was indeed content in those three hours. Our issue isn't with the Times report. It's with what you realize when you read it: that because there were NO PICTURES TO SEE, the event didn't matter.
---This is why items of smaller significance with good pictures get huge play in the media...because PICTURES TO SEE means it gets airtime and is more significant. If it doesn't get airtime it really isn't significant even though it is (see?).
--SIDE ISSUE TWO: Two Democrats (GASP!!!!!!) leave the meeting early.
--- Will someone go to Whole Foods and send Matt Drudge two cases of Valerian Root?
--- We agree it was extremely dumb of Democratic Commissioners Bob Kerry and Lee Hamilton to leave early for prior commitments.
--- After loudly braying for weeks about how the President needed to meet with the whole commission for more than his promised hour, they got unlimited time...and they couldn't be there to use it.
--- It makes them look (perhaps rightly) hypocritical: the President had to sit as long as they wanted him to, but they didn't have to sit as long as the President needed for them to be there.
---They win an award for the Political Janet Jackson Breast Reveal of the Year --- revealing a double standard (and they didn't need Justin Timberlake standing next to them to do it).
--- But these two supposedly savvyy politicos' decision to give their opponents a noose on which to hang them still can't obscure the vital substantive issues:
---What was said?
---Were the commissioners satisfied with what they got?
---Can truly enterprising reporters now get reaction from others in Congress or sources close to the commissioners to get a sense of whether both sides felt issues and questions were completely aired?
--- The bottom line: in 2004 with the huge questions and challenges facing the U.S. everyone seems poised to pounce on questions of PROCESS (were pictures allowed? did everyone stay the whole time?) rather than POLICY.
---The U.S. can survive failures of process more than it can survive failures of policy.
---Thank God Kerry and Hamilton didn't insist on leaving the meeting together......
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 9:01 PM


THANKS FOR YOUR PATIENCE (AND IF YOU LIKE THIS SITE TELL YOUR FRIENDS TO BE PATIENT TOO!): Our blogging has been light today since instead of wedging postings in between our normal work, we've been on the phone and emailing Blogger (and Google) to find out what is going on with the delays on our site.
---We now think it's due to a code placed in my beg box (the box has been there for a month and the problem started at noon yesterday) that is requiring a "privacy report" that delays downloading. It may be an accident but it's unlikely since I don't even know how to do the settings and Blogger didn't touch it.
---This may take a few days to sort out so be patient (it may take 45 seconds to a minute before it will download). We may be doing some things to regain the readers we may have lost due to this (for instance, I will be dancing naked with an octopus on my head in front of Burger King on El Cajon Blvd here tomorrow at 2...)
---So stay tuned...be patient...tell your friends to visit and for them to be patient while they try to get to this site...And you may see some changes within a week!
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 7:48 PM


John Stevens becomes the seventh 'American Idol' finalist to be eliminated: Enough politics.
---Let's get to the IMPORTANT and MEANINGFUL STUFF.
---So red-haired Stevens was eliminated on Our Guilty Pleasure show. Stevens was heralded as sort of a young Frank Sinatra.
--- But The Moderate Voice (who is Perfection Incarnate) must say this: Sinatra was not of my generation, either, and I still love Frank (along with Bobby Darin, Dean Martin, Louis Prima). And it's indeed great to see young people nurture and carry on musical traditions such as the Great American Songbook. But Stevens is no Sinatra (just as The Moderate Voice is no Bob Laurence).
---Stevens went as far as he did on that show because he was different. He should keep up the good work...but work a bit more. (But it doesn't matter anyway, since Elton John says the decisions on the show are racist......)
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 12:42 PM


BUSH AND CHENEY MEET 911 COMMISSION: President George Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney met with the 911 commission yesterday for more than three hours. Bush said he was pleased with the session and the commission issued a happy statement, too:

"The 9/11 commission today met in closed private session with President Bush and Vice President Cheney. The meeting was extraordinary and lasted for more than three hours. The commission found the president and the vice president forthcoming and candid. The information they provided will be of great assistance to the commission as it completes its final report. We thank the president and the vice president for their continued cooperation with the commission."

---True, the meeting wasn't recorded, no notes were taken etc. And GWB insisted that Cheney be with him when he did it. But, in the end, those issues truly will be irrelevant to non-partisans when the votes are cast. What WILL matter is what filters out later about the 911 commissioners and how happy or unhappy they were with the meeting. If indeed they were pleased, the fuss about Cheney being with Bush will be an absolute non-issue (unless reporters spot them always going to the rest room together...).
---The issue here was cooperation: did the 911 commission get it? If so, as Teddy Kennedy would say, "it's water under the bridge."
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 12:12 PM


THEY'RE STILL RAISING MONEY to help Iraq. Citizen Smash (aka Lt. Smash) has a lot of info on his site about auctions to raise money to help the people in Iraq. Smash even appeared on local TV to make a pitch for the fundraising. Check it out here (his site has been one of my favorite conservative sites. He does a lot of innovative things).
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 9:21 AM


BLOGSPOT PROBLEMS: We are experiencing SEVERE problems here with a long download time from this site. Please continue to let us know via using the email button to the right how long you had to wait before you could visit us. Thanks! P.S. We trying to get Blogger.com to respond to complaints received about this problem but nothing has happened in the past 24 hours. Please DO email me via the button to the right if you experienced a problem in downloading this site (we can't track links or hits either so if you've linked to us, let us know by email puh-leaze!)
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 1:29 AM


SABATO'S CRYSTAL BALL LOOKS AT THE KERRY VEEPSTAKES AND THE PREZ ELECTION OUTLOOK: One of our biggest joys is to get our FREE issue of Sabato's Crystal Ball, the enewsletter by University of Virginia Political Scientist Larry Sabato and his staff. We encourage you to sign up for your own copy here. Sabato's articles are so well-written, fun, and enlightening to read that the San Diego Union-Tribune has run them uncut as pieces in its Sunday Insight section.
--- This time we're combining two issues covering John Kerry's running mate sweepstakes and an evaluation of the Presidential race. We're giving you chunks but you should read both newsletters totally by going to the links.
ON JOHN KERRY'S VICE PRESIDENTIAL PICK: Sabato writes in this week's edition:

The name of the game is the Electoral College, and the VEEP Lotto winner surely will be someone who can bring a chunk of electoral votes to the Democratic column, right? Yes, if the process is rational. Right away, this filter eliminates loads of great candidates, whose states are already a lock for the Democrats or whose states will probably go Republican even with them on the ticket.

---Go to his full text if you want to see who he has eliminated and why. But in the end he comes down to : Indiana Senator Evan Bayh, LA Senator John Breaux, ex-MO Rep. Dick Gephardt, WV Senator Jay Rockefeller, NM Gov. Bill Richardson, and ex-Ga Sam Nunn (WILD CARD).
---Sabato goes into detail about the pluses and minuses of each of these, but we're most intrigued by the idea of wildcard Nunn, and he writes:
The wild card would make for a fascinating race in the Peach State. At one time the king of Georgia's political mountain, Nunn has been out of the news since leaving the Senate in early 1997. Does he still have the old magic? Could he force Bush to spend real money in a dark-Red state? Would his encyclopedic knowledge of foreign and domestic policy--not to mention the national security issue--outweigh his vote against the 1991 Persian Gulf War (reinforcing Kerry's own anti-war vote)?

--- Kerry's VEEP choice "is more critical than many would concede. It will significantly help to fill in the many blank spaces Americans have in their portrait of the Democrat who would be President."
---THE PRESIDENTIAL RACE: Sabato poses the question' "Iraq: Bush's Vietnam?" and recounts the setting in 1966-1967 with "the 'rosy scenarios' and 'light at the end of the tunnel' pronouncements from President Johnson, Defense Secretary McNamara, and their cohorts. Attention President Bush, Secretary Rumsfeld, et al.: the similarities are scary."
---Sabato points to 1968 with Hubert Humphrey as LBJ's surrogate -- and how, no matter what, HHH represented the status quo. The still-unloved Richard Nixon was the "change" alternative and, he says, "a vote for Nixon was the only way Americans could try to turn the page, the only way citizens could attempt to extricate the nation from the bloody quagmire 8,000 miles away." His warning:
George W. Bush is the LBJ/HHH candidate on Iraq, and if people want to extricate the country from the Iraq quagmire, they will have no choice but to vote for John Kerry, however much they may dislike him or disagree with him on other issues. If the preeminent issue in November is Iraq, Bush will lose.

--- But, Sabato writes, the Bushies know this so ",the President intends to keep his July 1 turnover deadline in Iraq. Let the Iraqi Governing Council deal with the violence and kidnapping and rioting during the general election campaign! Iraq...(but) we'll be there in some form for years and years."
---Furthermore, he predicts:
--The 911 Commission will ultimately be viewed as an embarrassment....because of its partisan posturing and " the Bush Administration was absolutely right to oppose the formation of the 9/11 Commission--or as the Crystal Ball is calling it, The 20/20 Hindsight Commission--if only because 2004 is a presidential election year." Election year turned it into a partisan "blame game" with cheering 911 families giving it " the nasty whiff of Jerry Springer--or an old-fashioned mob."
--The 911 Commission report will be issued on the eve of the Democratic convention and since "the goal is Commission unanimity, equal blame will have to be apportioned to the Clinton and Bush administrations... When it is released in late July, the report will become a tough-leather political football in Boston, presumably thrown from field to field and coast to coast all the way to November."
---THE ECONOMY'S IMPACT: "The stunning addition of 308,000 jobs in March--plus an upgrading of job gains for January and February--offers Bush his salvation. The trick, though, is that he needs strong numbers through the early fall in order to convince Americans that this shift is real, and not simply an election-year manipulation...."
---JOHN KERRY'S CHANCES:"John Kerry is not the strongest Democratic nominee the Crystal Ball has seen over the years, but despite his faults, he can overcome Bush's attacks and win the White House as long as the American people continue to be as unsettled as they are now."
---WHAT BUSH NEEDS: The President "President needs the blessing of the one critical figure to desert him in 20...the goddess Fortuna. Some good luck on Iraq, the war on terrorism, and the many facets of the economy can save Bush, and maybe even propel him to a substantial victory that would wipe out memories of 2000. Maybe. Right now, this scenario seems very far out of reach, an electoral pipedream for a beleaguered leader."
---NOTE: See our related post below on the furor over candidates' Vietnam war records.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 12:39 AM

Wednesday, April 28, 2004  

TURKEY TALK FROM POLITICOS ABOUT MILITARY RECORDS, MEDALS AND CHICKEN HAWKS: Can our political class take a deep breath and show a little class?
---Unless you've been on Jupiter, you know about furors raging over President George Bush's military record, John Kerry's military record, and Kerry's military medals-or-ribbons (a controversy fed by the Senator's self-defeating "Who's On First" answers on Good Morning America).
---And just when we thought some of gas had left the human gasbags -- we have Democratic Pennsylvania Senator Frank Lautenberg taking to the floor of the Senate and calling Vice President Dick Cheney the ``lead chickenhawk,'' thus escalating even more (if THAT is possible) a bipartisan diversionary war of words where the use of verbal--weapons-of-mass-destruction escalates almost daily..
--- "We know who the chickenhawks are,'' the New Jersey senator proclaimed. ``They talk tough on national defense and military issues and cast aspersions on others, but when it was their turn to serve, they were AWOL from courage.'' Lautenberg singled out Cheney by name but the AP (which is not in the Bush or Kerry camp) notes:

Cheney received five student and marriage deferments of military service during the Vietnam War. The vice president has not questioned Kerry's military record, but has argued that the four-term Massachusetts senator's voting record on defense and intelligence issues casts doubts on his judgment for commander in chief.

--- This game of spiraling rhetorical upsmanship spinning out of control may be palatable to partisans but will hurt both parties in the long run. ---Why?
---The country is almost evenly split 50-50. This election will be decided by the rapidly shrinking number of swing voters in the middle...who are listening, reading and pondering -- and perhaps hurling.
---Still, Democrats happily believe it's pay back time and this is taking it right-between-the-eyes to the GOP for attacks on former Bill Clinton and John Kerry.
---Still, Republicans have been happy this week because they believe Kerry's military history is excessively hyped, his war-protester history wrongly ignored, and both have come under the microscope recently.
---And non-partisan swing voters?
---Maybe we should be happy because the candidates' military history is a vital issue and needs our IMMEDIATE attention, unlike such little things as the economy; job outsourcing; fixing intelligence flaws to prevent another 911; determining why pre-Iraq war intelligence was so faulty; implementing an Iraq plan to protect American military lives and meet U.S. national interests; soaring health care costs; Social Security; an explosion in illegal immigration at the San Diego-Tijuana border (partly due to the announced amnesty); simmering social issues; and ominous rumblings from Korea, Iran, and China.
---There is definitely reason for outrage on ALL sides and its understandable why the blunt-spoken conservative Balloon Juice's John Cole angrily writes:
So now we have Democratic leaning groups and the Chairman of the DNC saying that Cheney got his wife pregnant to avoid service, and prominent Senators are calling Cheney a 'chickenhawk' from the floor of the Senate, and re-iterating that Bush was AWOL. And just so we have the record straight, if Republicans question Kerry's voting record, they are 'attacking his patriotism.' EVEN THE UK GUARDIAN notes that Cheney has not questioned Kerry's service or patriotism.

---Indeed, they haven't. Yet, both sides seem to be trying to suggest that somehow the other candidate isn't as solid an American as their candidate. Cole's heart-felt post is worth reading in full and he scores a knock out on one key point: Cheney was two years older than the cutoff on the 1969 draft lottery (The Moderate Voice knows about that because HE was in THAT lottery).
---What's really going on?
--- To be blunt, both parties are in a fever-pitched race to bring up the other candidate's negatives, saving the most fiery and sleazy comments for surrogates (Ted Kennedy and Lautenberg on the Democratic side; and most prominently Bush aide Karen Hughes on the Republican side).
---What we're seeing in 2004 is a political version of NBC'S Fear Factor where each time the producers (operatives of both parties) have to make it more outrageous (more fiery charges and more slashing attacks) to get viewers (voters, especially the undecided swing voters).
---The problem is that in the end voters may have to hold their noses to vote.
--- And if they hold their noses to vote it means whoever wins doesn't win because he's the greatest candidate: it means both candidates smelled.
---And then whoever wins loses...because then he'll have to govern an intensely polarized America.
--- UPDATE: See the related post above which touches on military/political issues.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 9:21 PM


DO US A FAVOR: E mail us using the email button in the above right. Let us know how long it took you to get on this site. We've had awful problems today. If you're reading this it meant you got through and/or were patient. It only takes a minute. Thanks!
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 6:52 PM


IT WAS FANTASYLAND: Cable giant Comcast Corp. dropped its unwanted bid for The Walt Disney company after both Disney and its own shareholders told it "Neverland." (We won't say it was a Mickey Mouse offer so the shareholders had to duck, but one day Disney may wish upon a star that it had taken the offer, because with the economy something wicked this way comes if they don't adapt.)
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 4:31 PM


THE NEXT MEDIA/TALK SHOW/BLOGWORLD CONTROVERSY IS ABOUT TO ERUPT: 60 Minutes is going to show photos of American soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners. Put cotton in your ears....
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 1:10 PM


ARE U.S. INTELLIGENCE AND LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES GOING TO TTRACK BLOGS? Some think so, even though one report says "the accuracy of what's reported in some blogs is questionable." (We resent that. Everything here is totlee akkurate).
---But Right Thinking's Lee asks: What is the big deal?

I don't see what the problem is, here. Intelligence sources routinely monitor news networks for breaking stories, so why not blogs? The blogosphere is one of the best collectors of information out there, a true living entity. If a story breaks somewhere in the world, someone is going to blog on it, after which it may get picked up by other bloggers. Interesting stories filter to the top, and lesser stories die quiet deaths. I'd be astounded if the CIA or other agencies didn't take advantage of this tool available to them.

---Also, Lee notes:"Blogs are not private." So just think: The Moderate Voice's posts may be used to shape U.S. policy (now we KNOW the end of the world is near.....)
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 9:44 AM


GENERAL WESLEY CLARK slams the GOP while defending John Kerry's military record and anti-Vietnam war protest activity in a blunt New York Times Op-Ed piece that you can read here. (The Real Dummy thanks Counterspin for the tip.)
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 9:02 AM


SUGGESTIONS FOR THE NEW IRAQI FLAG: Allahpundit's readers offer some unique ones here.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 8:43 AM


THE JEWS ARE TO BLAME FOR EVERYTHING: At least that's the view according to an article in the Egyptian government daily Al-Gumhouriyya. It blames the Jews for the Madrid bombings, 911, and a slew of things.
---If the author had time he probably would have blamed the Jews for William Shatner's bad hairpiece.
---Among other things, this article which you can find excerpted and analyzed here says "the real perpetrator of every disaster or every act of terrorism, look for the Zionist Jews....What is even more dangerous is that after every terror operation they perpetrate, they leave a sign, clue, or traces meant to show that the perpetrators are Arab Muslims."
---AHAH! NOW I get it!
--- So when Osma bin Laden issues videos or taped threats it is NOT Osama -- it's really Irving Schmidlap of Hamden, Connecticut doing the tapes while he puts the finishing touches on his daughter Gloria's bat mitzvah.
---The videos we've seen of him walking through the rocks in the mountains were actually taken during a break during his infant son Irving's bris.
---And the scraggly pajamas he wears are actually the best sheets from Loehmann's.
---So maybe Jews do cause disasters (I do write my own show) and spread terror (I do perform all over the United States) and are shameless (these plugs for my show and especially this).
---But the real (sad and scarey) hilarious part of it is: there are many young people in the Middle East who believe this version of events. Beliefs are programmed in minds, evidence to be damned. U.S. policy makers' underlying dilemma: how to unprogram young minds and put better stuff into new young minds to bypass the visionless, hate-filled adults messing with young brains.
---But what do I know? I'm too busy right now controlling all the banks, newspapers, film studios and ordering Congress how to vote. Or so they say.......
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 7:51 AM


POLITICAL PRIMARY VICTORY FOR GEORGE BUSH: If you're a political junkie you can't NOT take note of the following:
---Following a hotly-contested primary, Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter won in the Republican primary there -- against a more conservative foe who was backed by the party's more conservative forces.
---This had national implications since Specter is a sometimes marverick who was endorsed by Bush (he has been quite loyal to the administration on many matters) but under attack from conservatives, including some on the national level (among them: radio talk show hosts and author/columnist Ann Coulter who wrote a scathing column about him). His opponent was Rep. Pat Toomey who passes all of the conservative issue litmus tests that Spector flunks.
---Why did this matter to the White House?
---The key reason is that Bush lost this state narrowly to Al Gore last time around. And since it may again be a razor-thin majority that determines the presidential race's outcome, the White House did not want to take chances and have a polarizing Republican running in the same election.
---Specter always attracts many Democrat and swing voters in elections...exactly the voters the White House would like to peel away from John Kerry. And with Specter on the ballot, it makes that task a bit easier.
---UPDATE: In his latest edition of his superlative Crystal Ball free enewsletter, University of Virginia Political Scientist Larry Sabato says this:

This narrow victory for Specter proves again that the moderate wing of the GOP is dying, even in the Northeast. It's very comparable to the death of the conservative wing of the Democratic party in the South and Rocky Mountain states. Democrats are liberals almost everywhere and Republicans are conservatives almost everywhere, and that will be even more true in ten years than it is today.

---According to Sabato, "a win is a win," but he says the question now becomes:"Has Toomey wounded Specter enough to make this a competitive Senate race in November?"
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 7:15 AM


WILL RALPH NADER DROP OUT IN THE END? There is a tantilizing hint that maybe that at least an option left open. The Hill has a story about how the Congressional Black Caucus is going to urge liberal activist Nader to end his independent bid for the White House.
---And, of course, The Hill asked a Nader rep for his comment...and the answer is fascinating:

Nader spokesman Kevin Zeese did not entirely rule out an early exit from the race. He said: “We have to see what they have to say, but Ralph Nader’s position has consistently been to run all the way through to the end of the election as an independent candidate.”

---There have been tiny hints over the past few months that it's possible that Nader will run a fiery campaign and at the very end pull out. This article won't end the speculation....
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 6:47 AM

Tuesday, April 27, 2004  

WE JUST GOT A PUSH POLL CALL: At 7:48 pm when my computer was shut down the phone rang. The caller said they were representing an opinion poll company and wanted to ask me a question.
---I said OK.
---She then started on a long question that talked about the "liberal media" and the "911 Commission."
---I didn't have the patience:"This is a push poll -- and I have no time for push polls. Goodbye!"
---And I hung up.
---Troubling to me: push polls going after the 911 commission. Not nice.
---Even though the commission has been marked by truly grotesque partisanship this kind of call left a really rotten political taste in my mouth.
---NOTICE TO PUSH POLLERS: If you want to make me consider voting FOR your opponent in outrage over sleazily worded questions, call my house. OK?
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 8:00 PM


THERE GOES A GOP ATTACK LINE ON JOHN KERRY: It turns out that President Bush's key advisor Karen Hughes was born in FRANCE.
---So, let me understand: K.H. was born in France but that's OK, since she's a Republican and close to Bush, so she really isn't THAT much related to France...although she was born there.
---Republicans and others shouldn't hold it against her that was born in France and might be a little....er...French..
---But John Kerry, who was born in the U.S. and served in the military, is being painted as somehow FRENCH, since he's a Democrat and running against George Bush and operatives know there is political hay to be made (and votes gained) if they can create a mental link between the name "Kerry" and anti-French feelings......even though he really wasn't born in France.
---And the fact he wasn't born in France shouldn't matter to Republicans and others -- it's as if he was born in France.
---But there's really nothing wrong with being born in France, if you're KH.
--- I get it...I think??? (The Real Dummy thanks Atrios for the tip.)
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 7:40 PM


IS KERRY DIGGING HIS POLITICAL HOLE DEEPER? Only time (and polls) will tell but Political Scientist Steven Taylor thinks so and he tells you precisely why if you click here..
---And Steven MUST be British when he makes the understatement of the year:"This isn't shaping up as a particularly well-run campaign."
---The Moderate Voice (a non-Bush/non-Kerry swing voter) will simply say this:
--- The Kerry campaign is to a well-run campaign what Michael Jackson is to a nice, relaxing sleepover at Neverland.
---Question: Is Bob Shrum a GOP mole??
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 6:34 PM


KILL BILL: Aside from the fact that it's Rush Limbaugh's favorite movie title, critics are calling Quentin Tarantino's two films -- the second part just released -- an innovative masterpiece. If you want to read a great, serious review that puts the two films in perfect context (and makes someone like me who has only seen parts of Part I want to go out and immediately view -- and ponder -- both of them) go to this site. (The Moderate Voice took an Arts and the Press course at Northwestern's Medill School of Journalism many years ago and this detailed and thoughtful review is as good as any of the ones our professor had us study).
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 5:57 PM


AHHH, SO THAT WAS IT! Elton John says the voting on "American Idol" by the national viewing audience was "incredibly racist." I always thought people voted for who they liked the most as a performer...(we are enlightened now...)..
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 5:24 PM


AIR AMERICA HITS BUMPY PATCH? A reported shake up at the new liberal talk show radio network. Its shows (when you can get them) are improving...but it's lost two big city outlets. That would indeed be a corporate matter. AP reports that CEO Mark Wals has resigned and its Program Director David Logan has been put on "administrative leave."
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 5:17 PM


DOES JOHN KERRY KNOW WHAT HE'S IN FOR? D. Gary Carpenter, aka, Oregon Conservative doesn't think so. He writes:

I wonder if, by the time the Dem's convention rolls around, they are really going to wish that they didn't have a real primary race, rather than just anoint a nominee. This is why we have a primary race, so that the candidates go at each other a little bit and bring out any major flaws before it's to late. John Kerry doesn't know what he's in for. George Bush is a "no holds barred" campaigner. Having lived here in Texas, I have seen first-hand the type of elections that GW cut his teeth on, and Kerry doesn't appear to me to be the type of candidate that will hold up in that style of campaign.

---Indeed, there has been a definite sense that the Kerry campaign has been a couple of beats behind the Bush campaign. George Bush has been battered by events (Iraq, 911 hearings) and revelations (the Richard Clarke Book, the Bob Woodward book, more info coming out in the 911 hearings). Kerry has been battered by political toe-stubbing and poorly handled responses (the disastrous ABC Interview on what might be retitled "Good Night Mr. Kerry" if he doesn't get his act together fast.).
---A Village Voice columnist is already calling for Democrats to dump Kerry. If trends continue as they are, will the one voice become a chorus?
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 4:55 PM


CASTING AGAINST TYPE: Sesame Street's Alison Bartlett got naked in a scene playing the girlfriend of super-actor Steve Buscemi on the Sopranos. What NEXT? A feather-clad Monica Lewinsky on Sesame Street playing a swallow?
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 3:34 PM


A CRAPPY POLICY: From Reuters: "Vienna has ordered its traditional carriage drivers to clean up their act and strap 'poo bags' to their horses' backsides to prevent them from fouling the historic capital's pristine streets.
---"The carriages, or fiakers, have roamed Vienna for centuries. Today, their bowler-hatted drivers take visitors on tours of the city's sights. But the smelly mess has proven too much for Vienna's city council, which ordered the move Tuesday."
---Don't nag us about running a post on a story like this, because we can't say neigh to a little horsing around. Besides, this story ends well.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 2:36 PM


FOR UPDATES ON RENEWED FIGHTING IN FALLUJAH or other major developments you can see constantly updated posts at The Command Post's Iraq page. It's run by some bloggers who post the news and links and leave their opinions for their own often-conservative private blogs. They not only draw on web news sources but let you know how the story is shaping up on cable news networks as well. (I pass this on because I'm doing some work here this afternoon and in between am checking The Command Post) A MUST if you're interested in breaking news (and can't get to cable t.v. or don't want to do news searches).
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 2:30 PM


WE'VE BEEN HONORED: Notes on Atrocities has named The Moderate Voice as its link of the day. And in a totally crass display of shameless self-promotion as we say "GRACIAS" (in California's official language) we offer you part of what was written:

The host's tag reads thus: "A political independent and moderate's irreverent comments, analysis and links on important stories in the news. Written by veteran journalist - Joe Gandelman - who is now a fulltime ventriloquist." I'd call it an offbeat Atrios. He links stories in the Atrios mode, but most of them are stories you'll have missed (at least I did). What's most interesting is that Joe calls himself a swing voter, which puts him in rare company. You might enjoy seeing how his mind works.

---Wait a minute...Notes on "Atrocities?" "Artrocities"...they must have seen my show! (GRACIAS OTRA VEZ)
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 12:09 PM


SPAIN IS GONE FROM IRAQ: Some six weeks after the Madrid bombings which contributed to the ruling government being swept out of office and the Socialist party regaining power, all Spanish troops are out of Iraq. How can terrorists not look at this speedy cause and effect impact and not declare their stategy a success (and one worth repeating)?
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 10:40 AM


WAS FORMER SENATOR GARY HART A PAUL REVERE ON TERRORISM -- BUT NO ONE WANTED TO HEAR IT? He says yes and makes his best case for that argument here.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 10:30 AM


DOCTOR YOUR OWN PHOTO AND INSTANTLY SEE IT HERE!!!!!!!!! Just for a second, forget about blasting liberals, conservatives, Republicans, Democrats, or suggesting moderates are really closet conservatives or liberals or Bush supporters or Kerry supporters. Here is something that is REALLY FUN!! Go to this site and you can write your own photo for a doctored picture! Simply fill in your caption on the box, click and you'll see a U.S. solider standing next to Iraqi kids holding a piece of cardboard with your writing on it. Humiliate your friends! Instigate a divorce! Even more horrifying, do it and put the results on your own blog! You don't even have to give The Moderate Voice a link (just come back and visit again).
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 9:25 AM


WHAT THEY DON'T WANT YOU TO KNOW ABOUT THE BIBLE: Read this post for yourself from a new an very unusual site called Lucifer's Condiments (sounds like Smart & Final Ketchup to me). If you like satire and wit make sure you read it. FOOTNOTE: It's in the same style of another highly unusual satire/commentary site we greatly admire (and have a link to on this page) Ayn Clouter. (Warning: Adult language on some posts)
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 8:25 AM


HIGH CALIBER FUNERAL: From Reuters:"Friends of a champion Irish clay pigeon shooter have fulfilled his dying wish by packing his ashes into shotgun cartridges and blasting his remains over firing ranges around the world. Shooting enthusiast Tony Mullan made the request before he died at Easter aged 63 after a year-long illness."
---When its my turn I want to be buried face down so I can see where I'm going.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 6:42 AM

Monday, April 26, 2004  

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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 9:29 PM


JOE LIEBERMAN CALLS FOR A CEASE FIRE: Someone finally said it: maybe the foreign policy issues facing the U.S. require some kind of a truce where parties try to work together in the national interest. Not surprisingly, the suggestion came from Connecticut Democratic Senator Joe Lieberman, a vanishing breed in these days of polarization -- a centrist.
--- William Swann at the Centrist Coalition writes:

We can discuss differences in policy, but that discussion is important enough where we should separate it from the partisan passions swirling around this issue. We can say, of course, that going into Iraq was wrong -- those of us who believe that, at least. But figuring out what to do about it now is the only active issue, and solving it is critical to our future.

---He offers a good link to Lieberman's speech (it is in Acrobat Reader) and adds this:"Let's see if either party can get past their partisan interests long enough to recognize what's good for all of us. Lieberman pitched his plan for a bipartisan war council to Condoleezza Rice today. How will the administration respond?"
---Swann is right on the mark on this. And we would love to see it, too. But from what we've seen of the fever-pitch frenzy of partisan battle so far we say of Lieberman's proposal: Fat Chance. Each party seems focused on the political ballgame that's underway....
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 7:31 PM


DO YOU WANT TO HELP THE IRAQIS? You can...and directly...and it doesn't matter what party you belong to (or don't belong to). But some mostly conservative bloggers are indulging in a friendly -- but heated -- competition to see who can raise the most money for The Spirit of America group that is helping Iraquis. The Wall Street Journal described the group this way:

Over the past year, a successful technology entrepreneur named Jim Hake has been working with the Marine Corps to help their reconstruction projects in Iraq. The Marines identify local equipment needs, and Mr. Hake's organization, Spirit of America, after raising the money, acquires the stuff, typically for schools and medical clinics. It flies directly out of Camp Pendleton in California. Jim Hake and the Marines are a coalition of the can-do, bypassing the slow U.S. procurement bureaucracy.

---To raise money, the True Nature of Reality, a conservative blog, is having a special auction (it ends April 29) where bidders can compete to get what it calls an "infamous" Democratic party ad containing a..peppery...quote regarding Donald Rumsfeld. Check out the auction here.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 6:00 PM


HARI KERRY? I tuned into "Good Morning America" this morning and expected to see a news show, not a horror movie. So I thought I had the wrong channel and almost switched the station.
---Now, this is coming from someone who isn't a member of either party:
---If John Kerry loses, and the history of this election campaign is written, it is likely to be said a pivotal moment was his unfortunate interview with Charles Gibson. It almost seemed as pivotal as the interview Ted Kennedy had with Roger Mudd which deflated the Teddy boom (but not Teddy)..
---In future years they may well use the phrase "Hari Kerry" to refer to an appearance in which a candidate dug a hole several miles deep with his mouth.
---Remember, I'm a "swing voter," NOT a Bush supporter. And the more I listened, my jaw dropping down so low in shock that several birds slowly nested in it, the more I wanted to scream and jump out the window (but it wouldn't have done any good since I was on the first floor of my condo).
--- True, Bush supporters would find any reason to think he did poorly.
---True, Kerry supporters would find any reason to say he put the issue to rest once and for all.
---True, other issues will quickly come up (like Vice President Cheney attacking the Democrats, the Democrats responding, etc.) that'll change the one-issue-focus-feeding-frenzy media's attention.
---But a swing voter (like me) is looking for answers and impressions. And what did I get?
(1)A truly convoluted explanation of how he didn't throw his medals away but threw medals of other veterans away but threw his ribbons away but the word medals is interchangeable with ribbons, so you get it now, right?
---YES: I DO give him the benefit of the doubt that he used the word "ribbons" interchangeably with medals. Even so, it was like listening to Abbott & Costello's "Who's on First." The problem: this confusion meshes quite well with GOP ads trying to paint Kerry as a flip-flopper. Good Morning America did nothing to deflect that charge.
(2)Changing the subject.
--- His constant mention of questions about George Bush's military service hurt his argument because it blatantly tried to veer off the questions at hand. Kerry is not alone in using this obnoxious I-must-stay-on-message-verbal-Fuller-brush-man-mouth-in-the-door tactic.
--- GOP talking heads use it, too. The most damaging example was about a month ago on KFI (L.A.) radio's top rated John and Ken show when a campaign manager for Bush changed the subject so much he almost turned the pro-Bush hosts (and listeners) into instant Kerry supporters.
---For some reason, politicians and talking heads of both parties think it wins votes to use lung or blurt-out power to cram the viewer's heads with info about their opponents while sitting on a journalistic electric chair faced with demands for answers about THEM or THEIR candidate..
---Another problem: bringing up questions about Bush's record to change the subject weakens its use later in the campaign. Now when Kerry raises it some folks will charge (or think) it's just being used so people don't focus on whether he threw his own medals away or not (just think: our elections are decided on such raging issues).
(3)Him getting nailed by Charles Gibson.
---Especially when Gibson said " "Senator, I was there 33 years ago and I saw you throw medals over the fence and we didn't find out until later -" that they weren't his.
---And the highly touted tape of Kerry saying he threw his medals away? Yes, it made a point (and showed that the younger Kerry had great hair) but it was LESS DEVASTATING than the 2004 Kerry's responses with the constant attempt to blurt out questions about Bush's military history.
---Yes, I do have real questions about Bush's military record...but definitely after this morning I also have questions about John Kerry.
--- And the Republicans aren't the ones who raised them -- the Hari Kerry performance did.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 4:12 PM


NOW GEORGE BUSH HAS MORE COMPETITION: Another Republican is running for president in the August 3 Missouri presidential primary.....
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 10:50 AM


BAN ON MILITARY COFFINS UNDER FIRE FROM NEWSPAPERS AND PHOTOS RUN ON BLOGS: The Bush adminstration and Pentagon's policy of banning photos of military coffins -- photos that have appeared during other times in military history -- has come under fire from newspapers all over the country, Editor & Publisher reports.
---But it doesn't just end there: newspapers such as the editorially-conservative San Diego Union-Tribune have run the photos. And they have also appeared on blogs, including former military man Donald Sensing's always-thoughtful conservative One Hand Clapping site.
---Some sampling of editorial comment in E&P:
--The Virginian-Pilot, which serves a military-dominated community: "Americans deserve to see who is paying the ultimate price for this war."
--The Cincinnati Enquirer declared that bringing soldiers home "under the flag of their country brings closure to their sacrifice. The government should allow us that image."
--The Denver Post called publication of the photos "a proper function of a free press in a free country ... despite Pentagon protestations."
-- The St. Louis Post-Dispatch blasted Bush's "out-of-sight, out-of-mind standard. In doing so, the administration manipulates Americans' perceptions of the war, diminishes the gravity of the sacrifices of the dead and their families and denies our young men and women a last reverential salute from the country for which they died."
--The Miami Herald called the photo ban "a shameful restriction of free speech and an affront to the democratic values for which the soldiers gave their lives. ... The attempt to mask the terrible reality of war -- that lives are sacrificed -- is essentially dishonest. The Pentagon claims that its policy respects the memory and sacrifice of the U.S. soldier. In fact, the policy dishonors the men and women who have paid the ultimate price in service to their country."
--To White Plains, N.Y.'s Journal News, "it is hard to see how dignity or privacy are served by equipping a nation with blinders. Or by keeping the national blissfully ignorant of war's real cost."
--In Pittsfield, Massachusetts, The Berkshire Eagle said the coffin photos "tell a truth about war in general and this war in particular, and Americans should never be prevented from seeing the truth by their leadership in Washington. ... An administration whose default position is always secrecy and obfuscation should put an end to this shameful policy."
---See our extensive previous posts here and here.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 9:06 AM

Sunday, April 25, 2004  

WHO SAYS POLITICS CAN'T BE FUN? It doesn't always have to be rage, anger, confrontation, with the same serious, dour expressions pasted on overexposed talking-heads' pusses as they mouth predictable cliches to support their partisan positions. Witness the zippy blog The Bitch Girls' reaction to the C-SPAN aired March for Women in Washington D.C. today. They also score big political points by heaping on shovels of sarcasm and one liners rather than the usual analysis and rhetoric. Highlights:
--"C-SPAN has some march for women in DC right now. I know it's shocking, but it opened with the national anthem. Unfortunately, it sounded more like preschool kids singing "Row Your Boat." "
--"Whoopi Goldberg is there. Has it ever been proven that she's a woman?...America is only women. This is news to me."
--"I guess women's healthcare has to do with religion. I don't know how, but Whoopi says so. She's holding up a hanger and screaming, "Never again." She's talking about how they had abortions with them.There are men at the rally. They just want sex."
--"Nancy Pelosi is scary. Did you know that abortion is pro-child? Oh yeah, and she's a devote Catholic. (What's the Church's view on plastic surgery? She seems to be a big fan of that.)
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 9:06 PM


WHY DOES EVERY WHITE HOUSE BLAB TO BOB WOODWARD? The Christian Science Monitor tells you why here. Meanwhile, the New York Times tells you why the Bush team is both bashing and proudly RECOMMENDING Woodward's controversial "Plan of Action."
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 5:24 PM


MAYBE HE WAS TEED OFF: Reuters reports: "Vets cut open a German Shepherd dog to find she had scoffed no fewer than 28 golf balls.
Eighteen-month old Libby had been coughing blood after weeks of fetching golf balls at the northern England course where owner Mike Wardrop works as a bar manager." The dog now has 30 stitches since they had to operate.
---The veterinarian made a hole in one.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 5:06 PM


MORE BAD NEWS FOR JOHN KERRY? The Drudge Report says Good Morning America will on Monday air a 1971 video where John Kerry claims he threw his own war medals away...which would contradict statements he made to the Los Angeles Times. If true, more problems for Kerry. Politicos often make the mistake of denying when if they would only disclose, explain and be contrite they'd put it behind them. If not true, it'll further undermine Drudge's credibility. A middle explanation (we can see this coming) is that he said it but didn't mean it at the time because he was a young and stupid (versus old and stupid??), etc. But if the Drudge item is true, John Kerry is not going to head into his happiest week.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 4:44 PM


CHEERS FOR A LIBERATED IRAQ come from High Times the marijuana magazine. The Washington Post notes that "High Times, the marijuana magazine (is) now celebrating its 30th anniversary. And the news is this: There's plenty of weed in the new liberated Iraq." It goes on:

"There are few laws in Iraq right now," writes Dave Enders, High Times's man in Baghdad, "so although drug possession was punishable by death before, you can now pass a spliff openly in front of the cops." Which may not, come to think of it, be exactly the kind of freedom that President Bush envisioned for Iraq.

---Even though other nations participated, the war was largely a joint venture of the U.S. and England. (The Real Dummy salutes Bo Cowgill for the tip)
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 3:08 PM


A NEW HONORARY MEMBERSHIP IN OUR 'GET A LIFE CLUB' goes to Chris Gates, chairman of the Colorado Democratic Party.
---To be inducted into the Get A Life Club you must display a degree of sheer silliness or put impressive time-wasting energy into pressing a politically correct or transparently political cause. So how does Gates deserve this coveted honor?
---The Moderate Voice already did a post about the New York Times' slight mistake the other day in printing a photo of the Republican candidate for Senate and identifying him as a Ku Klux Klanner who murdered a black sharecropper.
---But, hey, that's the kind of small error any Paper of Record that let Jayson Blair run rampant until it discovered it -- leading to Blair's resignation and the forced resignation of two top editors -- could make.
---It's the kind of tiny mistake that any paper that has editors emailing and lambasting a columnist on a small paper who criticized them over the Blair scandal -- calling him one of those "hacks in the hinterland" -- could make.
---And it was sort of funny, because wealthy Republican Senate candidate Pete Coors may not even know what a black sharecropper is. He might think it's someone who shares his crop of hops.
---Meanwhile, Coors' spokeswoman Cinamon Watson showed a great sense of humor in the situation when, seeing a set up line when she saw one, she couldn't resist saying:"It could have been worse. Pete could have been identified as John Kerry."
---So now Gates is demanding an apology about Watson's joke. You can read all about The Big Stink by visiting Wizbang here. But this kind of silliness -- the same kind Republicans showed a few months ago by making a monster deal over a lame joke a timing-challenged Hillary Clinton made about India -- entitles the person who mouths it to automatic membership in the Get A Life Club.
--- In fact, Watson's line was a comeback TMV admires so he gives Gates a lifetime membership in this select club of people who don't believe people should be allowed to joke without making a serious issue out of it.
---PS: The Moderate Voice lives in CA, not CO. And he is not a Republican or a Democrat. Watson's joke made us laugh (and we're not in the Bush OR Kerry camp; we love jokes poking fun at both of them).
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 1:42 PM


DRAFT? UNLIKELY. ARMY EXPANSION? VITAL: So says Robert Caldwell, the San Diego Union-Tribune's Insight editor. His excellent piece is worth reading in full but here are some key highlights:

Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and an obviously undermanned U.S. Army have combined to produce another boomlet for reviving the military conscription that ended in 1973. Bringing back the draft, however, is an unlikely option, at least for now. It's strongly opposed by the Pentagon, the Bush administration and a majority in Congress.

But there is a gathering consensus that the war against terrorism is producing global commitments that the Army in particular simply cannot meet adequately in its present reduced size.That same growing consensus favors an increase in Army strength.

---He then provides a detailed overview of ground-force strength and commitments and shows why more troops are needed. Then he adds this crucial point:
The nightmare contingency for Army planners is a sudden conflict in Korea, half a world away from the wars being fought today in Afghanistan and Iraq. Reinforcing the Army's single combat division stationed on the Korean peninsula would take everything the Army and Marine Corps have left and still constitute an inadequate force for even a brief Korean conflict.

---Indeed, the whole draft issue is a can of worms. If you want to read highly detailed posts on the issue of the draft from a former prominent military man go to Donald Sensing's site.
---Concludes Caldwell: "But reviving the draft is still a minority position. Military conscription is years away if it ever returns. Expanding the Army to meet America's urgent global security requirements cannot wait."
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 11:46 AM


GOV. ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER GETS A RAVE REVIEW from Sacramento Bee columnist Dan Walters who writes, in part:

Who'd a thunk it? Arnold Schwarzenegger, who amassed fame and fortune as a purveyor of escapist fantasy, is the most engaged and reality-grounded governor of recent history.

Schwarzenegger has not yet proven that California is fully governable, but by cajoling and bulldozing a Democratic Legislature into approving a landmark overhaul of the state's troubled workers' compensation system, he has demonstrated that it's not as ungovernable as recent history implies. And he's undercutting ousted predecessor Gray Davis' implied excuse that while he failed, no one else could do any better.

---Indeed, Schwarzennegar reportedly has now eclipsed Senator Diane Feinstein as the state's most popular politico. A lot of what he has done so far in systematically going through his list of agenda items was deemed impossible or mere campaign rhetoric during the campaign. If there's an explanation to "Arnold" as people here call him, it's his incredible focus, energy, optimism and reported good will towards those who don't belong to his political party. Walters again:
If California's governorship was not to sink into total irrelevance, and with it the rest of state government, it needed exactly what Schwarzenegger promised: independence, a specific agenda, a powerful will and an ability to marshal public support...The rookie governor's boundless self-confidence is infectious. One wants to believe him when he says he can govern this very fractious, complex state.

---If Schwarzeneggar helps lift California out of its multi-fronted crises, look for a serious move by supporters (and others) to change the Constituition to allow a person not born in the U.S. to run for President.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 11:11 AM


THE FORGOTTEN -- AND THE STRUGGLE AGAINST FORGETTING: The word "genocide" immediately conjures up images of Adolph Hitler murdering 6 million Jews (including huge parts of The Moderate Voice's family in Poland and Russia) plus millions of other political opponents and groups.
---But Dean Esmay notes that the 20th Century's pilot program for genocide was the Turkish slaughter of Armenians starting in 1915. In a truly remarkable and visually shocking post (no-holds-barred-photos) he gives a quick survey of genocide, particularly focusing on the campaign that wiped out 1.5 Armenians. You'll be touched, moved, troubled, revolted and even learn some new things (including the fact that the Nazis got the idea for genocide after some of their party bigwigs toured Stalin's innovative work-them-until-they-die death camps. the Nazis took it a step further adding more efficient ways to murder and dispose of bodies).
---Does this matter now? Yes. We can't forget what happened to any of these poor folks who experienced unspeakable terror and brutality in their nightmare lives until they were horribly snuffed out for political or hate reasons.
---Can it happen again. There are already attempts to do just that by Al Qaeda and other groups. No one can afford to forget.
---UPDATE: A Boston radio talk show host has gotten in trouble for saying it might be time to "kill all Muslims." Genocide is genocide.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 7:53 AM

Saturday, April 24, 2004  

HOW MUCH DO YOU KNOW ABOUT JOURNALISM SCANDALS?? We won't reveal the names of journalists who were involved in scandals, but there are quite a few of them peppered in with real names in this list of the Drudge Retort's editorial board (the breezy Drudge Retort is the liberal counterpart in style and content to the Drudge Report). Can you find them? (You can put the answers in the comment box if you want):
---Drudge Retort Editorial Board: Jonathan Bourne, Rogers Cadenhead, Stephen Glass, Janet Cooke, Patricia Smith, Mike Barnicle, Joe Klein, Duke Tully, Michael Gallagher, Ruth Shalit, Robert Hilson Jr., Julie Amparano, Steve Hall, Dennis Love, Melany Neilson, David Cragin, Ed Glennon, David Manning, Antonietta Palleschi, Jane Black, Christopher Newton, Jayson Blair, Jack Kelley.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 11:01 PM


PAT TILLMAN REVISITED: He turned his back on big bux with the NFL to become an Army Ranger and died in action. A lot has been written about him and you can read some of the best tributes to him by just clicking here.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 9:28 PM


THE HORRORIFIC DAMAGE FROM THE MASSIVE EXPLOSION AT A NORTH KOREA RAILWAY STATION is brought home in before and after photographs. You can see them by going to Counterspin. Truly appalling...
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 8:57 PM


TEACHER ACCUSED OF ORDERING STUDENT THROWN FROM A WINDOW: But at least she had obedient students. According to the AP,reporting from Covington, Georgia, the teacher resigned after she ordered two 14-year-old boys to throw a girl student out the window.
---It started when the teacher took a picture of some students. The girl asked why. The teacher then put down her appearance. The girl got upset and did what many kids her age would do -- she swore at the teacher. But she also hit the "office assist button" in the classrom. So the angry teacher ordered the two boys to throw her out the window.
---And they did. Why? "The two boys later told principal Kenneth Daniels that they threw the girl out the window because they did not want to be written up for disobeying a teacher." Makes sense to me....
---The girl suffered some neck pains and cuts to her body when she was thrown out the window.
---That class was clearly a pane for her...
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 7:27 PM


CURRY MAY BE VERY GOOD FOR YOUR HEALTH IF YOU HAVE A DEADLY DISEASE: Scientists now believe a component of tumeric, a spice found in curry, could help treat deadly cystic fibrosis.
---The results of a Yale University study were released this week in the journal Science. Eating large doses of a substance found in turmeric significantly reduced deaths among mice with the genetic disease, experts say -- but they warn cystic fibrosis sufferers not to self-medicate with the ingredient called curcumin. Curcumin has been used for a long time in folk remedies.
---FOOTNOTE: Curry is also said to be excellent if you have a cold or for some kinds of viruses since the spice helps combat the illness. PREDICTION: there will be a run on curry (or a run from curry).
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 6:32 PM


SO THERE. Pandagon points to Robert Novak's column indicating Senate Republicans want Majority Leader Bill Frist to close the whole Senate for the rest of the year due to Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle's "disruptive tactics."
--- It truly doesn't sound like a tactic that would impress the swing voters, but what does The Moderate Voice know? Pandagon says this about the idea that Frist should shut down the Senate:

So, in order to save it...you must destroy it. Of course, maybe Frist has an idea here - the Republican leadership shutting down the Senate for the rest of the year would ensure that next year's Senate is free from Democratic "obstructionism". After all, when Frist has engineered a Democratic takeover of the Senate, Daschle doesn't have to get in anyone's way but his own.

So, my advice is for Bill Frist to do this. Especially right before the Republican convention. Just step right out and declare that you're obstructing the entire Senate because someone else is, according to you, obstructing parts of the Senate. I'm sure everyone will blame Daschle.

---It's sort of like a kid taking his ball and going home. And a member of Congress (either party will do) can write a book: Everything I Learned About Serving in Congress I Learned In Kindergarten.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 3:28 PM


THE GOP SHOOTS ITSELF IN THE FOOT? David Adesnik at Oxblog (one of our favorite blogs) analyzes the issue of John Kerry's military records which were released amid a huge clamor and generally won Kerry praise (including from veterans, including several who have web logs).
---He notes:"From what I can tell, there is no evidence whatsoever to substantiate allegations that Kerry was anything less than a full-fledged hero. Thus, when conservatives play up such accusations, all they do is embarrass themselves and provide Kerry with exactly the sort of credibility he so desperately needs on national security issues."
---Indeed, there was one somewhat paranoid view that this all was a set-up, of sorts, by Kerry....to maximize front-page play of his military history when the records were released.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 2:55 PM


A NEW HOTLINE POLL SHOWS JOHN KERRY AHEAD IN ELECTORAL VOTES with 13 states containing 204 votes, and President George Bush with 16 states with 174 electoral votes. 270 are need to win.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 12:36 PM


A GREEK TRAGEDY: Years of negotiations and a glimmer of hope that conflict had come to an end were thrown overboard today when Greek Cypriots defied international pressure and voted overwhelmingly to kill a U.N.-backed plan to end 30 years of partition and usher a united Cyprus into the European Union.
---Reuters reports:

Greek Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos said peace talks are not at the end of the road. But Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul, whose government had braved the skepticism of a powerful hardline establishment and military to steer the Turkish north to a "yes" vote, said Greek Cypriot rejection meant partition of Cyprus was now "permanent." In a comment that will cut deep in Greek Cyprus, he said Turkey's 30,000-strong troop presence would remain in place.

Turkish Cyprus, in a simultaneous vote, approved the plan for a loose association of two largely autonomous zones. But the Greek Cypriot "no" effectively slammed the EU gates on the poorer north and meant only Greek Cyprus will accede in May. It was a result the EU, the United States and the United Nations had urgently sought to avoid. The long-festering Cyprus problem, which has brought NATO partners Turkey and Greece to the verge of war on two occasions, will now be "imported" into the EU with all attendant complexities and emotions. Official results showed Greek Cyprus voted 75.8 percent against the reunification.

---How long has this problem been festering?
---Not to date myself (and I will) but in May 1975 I left my New Delhi, India base where I freelanced for newspapers such as the Chicago Daily News and the Christian Science Monitor. After traveling via car from India to Tehran, I went to Cyprus and did a long CDN backgrounder on Cyprus for the now-defunct paper.
---The island was divided between communities, with UN forces stationed at key points as peacekeepers... and it was such a tragedy because it was a stunning island, with wonderful people (and most importantly to me wonderful food) and on every street corner you heard another tale of tragedy and anguish.
---Due to the tensions, tourism had greatly suffered. The plan nixed today was the best shot at a solution.
---So, like the Middle East and Northern Ireland problems, the elusive struggle for a lasting consensual solution to Cyprus will continue.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 12:06 PM


MORE ON THE FLAG DRAPED COFFIN ISSUE: The question about whether photos of flag draped military casualty coffins should be published continues to rage. But is there going to be some kind of official shift?
---Maybe...because there are rumblings that the recently reinforced Pentagon ban could be REVISED -- or even DROPPED. For background on this issue, see our previous post here. New developments and links:
--- PRESIDENT BUSH believes the photos can be extremely hurtful to the families and their privacy needs to be respected, the White House says. The White House believes it is an issue of sensativity.
---THE PENTAGON IS REVIEWING THE BAN and there is a inforrmed speculation that it may be revised -- or dropped, the Boston Globe reports.
---THE SOUTHERN ILLINOISAN has a story quoting veterans including World War II veterans saying the photos should be published. Says Robert Buckner, a World War II Veteran:"When I see a casket draped with a flag that means that person paid the ultimate sacrifice. Those people are heroes."
---INTEL DUMP'S Phil Carter, a former Army officer, looks at the issue, has given it a lot of thought, and believes the photos should be allowed to be published:
---"In a time when compulsory service does not exist, and many Americans don't feel the personal sacrifice of war, I think it's important to remind the public of the most basic cost of war. These images belong to the American people, just as these soldiers do -- in my opinion, the public deserves to see them."
---ENGLAND'S GUARDIAN looks at the political impact (from it's anti-Bush administration view) and feels the photos being out immediately changes some things.
---THE (normally conservative) SALT LAKE CITY TRIBUNE's reader rep Connie Coyne says there is no excuse for censorship:

Respect for the families" is an excuse that does not hold water. The photos on the Internet depict the reverence shown by military personnel handling the coffins. This kind of respect by fellow military is meaningful to families who have lost husbands, fathers and sons, daughters and moms and wives to this conflict.

Photographs and stories about the human cost of war have a place in the press. Government cannot argue that such coverage gives military advantage to the enemies of America. No locations are disclosed, no plans are discussed, no measure of armament or placement is described. If a free country is afraid of free images, then we are in trouble. Americans have seen their war dead come home before; they will see them come home in the future. To ignore their arrival is to offer them disrespect.

---Indeed, since doing our post we've gotten a batch of private emails from people arguing the same thing, plus one phone call from a reader on the East Coast. But it's a hot-button issue to some who insist it boils down to patriotism.
---Yet, on another level, it poses a dilemma for the administration: if the ban was quietly in effect it kept the photos out of the papers, thus protecting the familes and (some believe) images that hammer home the point that people killed in action aren't cold statistics. Now that this issue is a controversy, it's being picked up as a political issue on both sides -- but that negates the policy of having the remains return home quietly (no matter what the motivation).
---So this ongoing (and spreading) controversy puts the issue of flag-draped coffins out there no matter what which means both a political negative and more stress to military families who don't want a media fuss about their departed loves ones in the press.
---If the Pentagon revises (possible) or revokes the ban (less likely) it would defuse it as a political issue and the media and politicians would have to move on to the next big attention-getting controversy.
---And the photos? They'd become more commonplace and not get the media play they are getting now. And then you wouldn't hear accusations in some quarters that the reason the photos aren't being run is because persons-attatched-to-statistics deaths are then "out of sight, out of mind" which makes it easier to keep political support for the war firm. Whether accurate or not, that's the accusation that's out there in some quarters.
---FOOTNOTE: Our local newspaper, the San Diego Union-Tribune, which generally has a conservative editorial page policy, has also run some of the photos.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 9:49 AM