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

Friday, April 23, 2004  

NO-CARB COUPLE HAS BEEF WITH BUFFET THAT KICKS THEM OUT: Salt Lake City's Sui Amaama and his wife Amaana have been on the Atkins Diet for two weeks.
---So when they went to Chuck-A-Rama's buffet in Taylorsville they had a bit of roast beef.
---Eleven helpings, to be exact.
---And when the general manager who was carving the meat saw that at Chuck-A-Rama he wanted to Up-Chuck-A-Rama .
---So he told them that was enough.
---"We've never claimed to be an all-you-can-eat establishment," manager Kack Johanson told a reporter. "Our understanding is a buffet is just a style of eating."
---After he told them to stop they demanded a refund. He called the police when they wouldn't leave. And -- can you believe it? -- they don't plan to return to Chuck-A-Rama's again.
---WARNING TO HOMETOWN BUFFET: Call Tom Ridge to hire security staffers to weed out Atkins Diet culinary terrorists. They're out there -- and they're hungry to hit you again and again.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 8:21 PM


YET MORE NEW YORK TIMES MADNESS: This time "the Paper of Record" misidentified GOP Senate candidate Pete Coors as a Ku Klux Klan member who murdered a black sharecropper.
---As Daffy Duck might say, "Accuracy, schmaccuracy, as long as we're wealthy..."
---Our favorite part of the report in Denver's (more accurate) Rocky Mountain News:

(Coors spokesperson Cinamin) Watson said she notified the Times after the Rocky Mountain News spotted the mistake.
"I think there will be a correction," she deadpanned.
The Times did not return a call from the News.

---Well, that's probably because The Times considers the News "hacks in the hinterland," as an editor put it ealier this week in an angry email lacing into a suburban editor near Philadelphia for daring to criticize the paper's superb editors over the scandal involving serial story fabricator Jayson Blair.
---But, look, The Times IS "the Paper of Record" -- "The Paper of Inaccurate Record." (A teensy weensy mistake accusing that political hack running in a hinterland like Colorado of being a murderer. What's the big deal about THAT?)
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 6:47 PM



Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan's assertions that he did not learn of President Bush's decision to launch war on Iraq before Secretary of State Colin Powell are false, journalist Bob Woodward told CNN on Friday.
"For some reason, Bandar wants to fuzz this up," said Woodward, whose book "Plan of Attack" tells of a meeting in early January 2003 in which Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld briefed Bandar on war plans.

"Bandar called me last night," he added. "Woke me up -- a quarter of 12. And we went through this. And I said, 'What are you doing?' " Woodward said Bandar told him that he had officially been told that a decision had not been made, but that the White House had made it clear the decision was in fact made. "I said, 'Well, the issue here is when you left that meeting did you think the president had decided on war?' Woodward told CNN. "Bandar said 'absolutely.' "

---It certainly seems like there is more "fuzzing up" than 'fessing up....
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 5:56 PM


JOHN KERRY SHOULD SAY "THANKS"...I THINK(??): A new pro-John Kerry site is titled www.johnkerryisadouchebagbutimvotingforhimanyway.com (warning: it contains adult language). OH: www.themoderatevoicethinksthatsanamazingtitle.com.
---We like the idea of that kind of title, so how about these:

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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 5:36 PM


SPACE SHUTTLE CREW PIX MIXED UP WITH WAR CASUALTIES: NASA now says that a chunk of the photos of coffins of American casualties run on The Memory Hole were actually pix involving remains of the Space Shuttle Columbia crew, according to the Drudge Report. Drudge also cites this bulletin from NASA that says some 18 rows of images actually refer to the shuttle astronauts. FOOTNOTE: Note that the Seattle Times photos are still undisputedly accurate. Those led to the firing of the worker who took them. OUTLOOK: This will derail this issue but not undermine the fundamental dilemmas and arguments on both sides: should photos of military coffins be published?
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 3:11 PM


SINGER PAT BOONE FEELS "CENSORSHIP IS HEALTHY FOR ANY SOCIETY" whether it's in arts, entertainment, etc. And he notes that "at some point a line that has to be drawn between one man's liberty and another man's license." Of course, it's healthy if you or your side is doing the censoring but if it's one of the people or artists with whom YOU agree who's censored it's not that terrific or healthy, is it? (Defining what "healthy" means is more controversial than "what is is.") Boone is now is spokesman for a conservative seniors group. (The Real Dummy salutes Cursor for the tip).
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 10:30 AM


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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 8:02 AM



Pat Tillman, a former NFL player who swapped a glamorous football career to enlist in the U.S. Army, has been killed in action in Afghanistan, ABCNEWS has learned.

The 27-year-old former football player was killed in direct action during a firefight in Afghanistan, Pentagon sources told ABCNEWS. But there were no further details available. A former member of the Arizona Cardinals, Tillman, along with his brother Kevin, enrolled with the U.S. Army Rangers after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.

---If you read this obit you can't help be saddened. Plus some memories illustrating his character via Donald Sensing.
---A football hero and, in the end, a military hero...
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 7:53 AM


WE CAN ALREADY HEAR THE CALLS TO DO IT HERE: In the wake of severe criticism delivered in the Hutton report, the British Broadcasting Company is ordering "'impartiality seminars' to help the company's reporters and producers think outside of a liberal-leftist mindset. The two hour seminar will cover topics such as the importance and nature of impartiality. BBC Director Richard Sambrook's memo noted that audiences were increasingly skeptical of the BBC. (The Real Dummy salutes The Nature of Reality for this tip. TNOR was tipped off by NZPUNDIT.)
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 6:57 AM


WAFFLES: Do a Google search on that word. Guess what's at the top of the list? Hint: the name of someone running for President and he's not a Republican and doesn't have the initials R.N. Too lazy? Well, then, click here.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 6:06 AM


NOW YOUR LIFE IS COMPLETE! They're planning a NEW STAR TREK PREQUEL movie. "I am involved in the very early stages of what could be the next STAR TREK movie," producer Rick Berman said in the magazine Dreamwatch. "It's something I will be producing with two other producers." The search is now on to find an overacting child actor with a bad hairpiece to play William Shatner's Captain Kirk as a boy.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 1:54 AM


NO DRAFT: Despite the speculation and feelers from several Senators it's now official:"The Bush administration sees no need to reinstate the military draft, but it is pushing for improved Pentagon management of the 1.4 million-strong force in order to meet wartime needs, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said Thursday."
---We dealt with emerging speculation over a possible draft (which we are AGAINST by the way) in a previous post. But the BEST post on this subject, outlining specifically why a draft is not feasible and not going to happen is by Donald Sensing, who consistently offers some of the best and most thoughtful analysis on the web. Read it in its entirety here.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 1:29 AM


PRE-911 PRESS COVERAGE: THE POT CALLING THE KETTLE BLACK? Whole forests were seemingly chopped down (newspapers) and blowdryers were run for hundreds of hours (broadcast journalism) to do stories saying the government missed the signals on 911. But did the press miss it too?
---Greg Piper thinks they did and he points to a New Republic article to support the case he makes quite well himself:"There's a certain conspicuous group missing from the blame game and "orgies of hindsight" in who failed to prevent 9/11...the media!" he writes...and he adds this:

Just like the government, the major media organizations focused on terrorism abroad, downplayed the reach and cohesiveness of al Qaeda, and often put the Islamic terrorism news far in the back and headlined with news such as (in the New York Times' case) "C.I.A. Chief Sees Russia Trying to Revive Its Challenge to U.S." This, despite the fact that CIA chief Tenet specifically called bin Laden and his global network "the most immediate and serious threat" in that reported Senate hearing.

Exceptions to the rule were few; one reporter who did a three-part series on terrorism training in Afghanistan the week before Bush's inauguration, the NYT's Judith Miller, has since been accused of "over-hyping the threat posed by Saddam Hussein" in her pre-war coverage. No one thinks of crediting her with foresight for her nine-months-before portrait of Afghanistan.

---Indeed, pre-911 coverage (and us news junkies remember it quite well) seemed to suggest that authors like Miller and officials such as former Senator Gary Hart who were warning about terrorism were alarmists akin to Chicken Little screaming "The sky is falling!"
---Yes, they got coverage but as somewhat tiresome sideshows.
---Why? Because nothing like that had ever happened...and although it was possible, it sounded far-fetched.
---In fact, this attitude (which is dealt with in The New Republic piece Piper uses as his take-off point) was akin to the mind-set National Security Advisor Condolleeza Rice tried to explain during the 911 hearings.
---But the press doesn't answer to Congress for its analytical failures.
---So, Piper is on-the-button when he writes:"Unfortunately the media have been utterly silent on their failure to give more coverage to issues of terrorism and the clues that America would be attacked."
---Just don't hold your breath and wait for the silence to end.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 12:10 AM

Thursday, April 22, 2004  

SHOULD MILITARY COFFINS BE ALLOWED TO BE PHOTOGRAPHED AND SHOWN TO THE PUBLIC? This question which began to bubble several times since the Pentagon began clamping down on photos in 1991 is now boiling to the surface.
--- And it doesn't just involve niceties but it's a complex issue that involves questions about anguish, allegations of giving propaganda ops to the enemy, and concerns about political manipulation of the voting public.
--- The catalyst for shoving this issue to the forefront was a photo published Sunday in the Seattle Times in living color showing more than 20 flag-draped coffins in a cargo plane about to depart from Kuwait. It was taken by military contractor Tami Silicio, a Kuwait-based cargo worker -- who on Monday was quickly fired by contractor Maytag Aircraft for violating U.S. government and company regulations,
---The reason: since 1991 the Pentagon has discouraged photos of military coffins and funerals.Once this photo appeared, the floodgates opened on the Internet. The Memory Hole has a large collection of photos obtained under the Freedom of Information Act. Photos of flag-draped coffins have also been published on the usually-Bush-administration-friendly Drudge Report as well as its liberal counterpart the Drudge Retort.
--- Why is this a big deal? Although the military has discouraged publication of these photos, the REAL strict clampdown by the Pentagon was imposed in March 2003, on the eve of Iraq War II. It stated:
---"There will be no arrival ceremonies for, or media coverage of, deceased military personnel returning to or departing from Ramstein (Germany) airbase or Dover (Del.) base, (and) to include interim stops."
---A Newsday report noted this:

A Pentagon spokeswoman said the military-wide policy actually dates from about November 2000 -- the last days of the Clinton administration -- but it apparently went unheeded and unenforced, as images of caskets returning from the Afghanistan war appeared on television broadcasts and in newspapers until early this year. Though Dover Air Force Base, which has the military's largest mortuary, has had restrictions for 12 years, others "may not have been familiar with the policy," the spokeswoman said. This year, "we've really tried to enforce it."

--- There are various views on this issue:
(1)The administration and Pentagon insist the rule is in force to protect grieving families and friends. The press interferes with their grief and photos splattered on newspaper front-pages and on television news are hurtful. A strict enforcement of this ban is vital.
(2)Allowing the pictures to get out encourage the enemy and enemy forces. From the standpoint of protecting lives and the military mission it's best if the photos aren't shown.
(3)The real reason why the government and military don't want the photos shown is that they hammer home the tragic personal cost of war and keep the number of soldiers dead to emotion-stripped statistics. It's an attempt to down play fatalities and grief. It's a political decision aimed at not losing political support.
---OUR VIEW? We think the Pentagon is concerned about grieving families but various newspaper and magazine articles over the years have noted that Washington officials believe news coverage of bodies in boxes coming home from Vietnam helped doom that war.
---Let's make it clear as a SUPPORTER of the war and our troops:
--- I think these photos should be allowed to be shown.
---The fact is statistics are not coming back to the United States to funeral homes. Banning the photos reeks of political manipulation, especially when the war is being fought by volunteer military forces and there is no draft to complicate political support.
---FACT: In wars people die.
---FACT: In wars there are funerals.
---FACT: A war -- or even a national-interest circumstance which may require hostilities to continue despite public misgivings -- isn't ended simply because the reality of bodies coming back in boxes is acknowledged by the military. A policy is like a table with legs; if it's strong enough it'll stand, even if a leg is wobbly.
---FACT: If a policy or cause is so weak that it can be completely negated by photos of military coffins (or talk of a draft) then it lacks sufficient strength to be sustained if it suffers severe setbacks. Plus (a tiny point here) it is questionable in a democracy.
---So The Moderate Voice will be The Unmoderate Voice (to some) here: the photos should be published. It doesn't undermine our view of what's in our national interest. And, yes, it may indeed undermine the view of some. But we are living in a democracy, and we're adults. We don't need -- and should not allow -- government to govern our emotions.
---UPDATE: We don't usually (and WON'T) put an update quoting our comments box, but comments by Donald Sensing and D.Smith deserve special mention here -- because they underline nuances in what may appear at first glance appear to be simple.
---Former military man Sensing points out that these photos were basically taken of coffins while they were essentially cargo. The actual honor ceremonies that the press likes to cover, he notes, were "begun by Reagan and continued by Bush 41 for political reasons - to rally the public behind them for shortwars" and they were "discontinued after the Panama invasion at the military's insistence." So the military clearly wanted to keep this aspect out of the spotlight for humanitarian reasons.
---Sensing also points to blogger "Paul Palubicki, who is a ground crew chief for Air Force cargo aircraft, explains how the return works when it's not intended to be a "public rally" and how it works when it is. Go here to read the details on that -- again showing how this issue is more complex than many think.
--- Meanwhile, D. Smith feels the press want to use the coffins as " props in their propaganda war" and that there is a genuine issue of respect in play here.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 6:38 PM


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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 4:14 PM


CBS LOWERED THE BAR AGAIN on standards by running tasteless photos of Princess Diana's last, dying moments. CBS lowered the bar so low Tom Thumb could order his drinks from it. The decision has created an uproar in England, but wait! There IS justice in this world, and even in the entertainment world: it didn't do much for the ratings of "48 Hours Investigates". It still lost to NBC'S "Law and Order" and ABC's "Extreme Makeover." Actually, the "Extreme Makeover" was to CBS which took yet another step down in the nearly complete tabloidization of American news. Attn. CBS: Change your logo to a black eye.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 1:40 PM


COLIN POWELL, THE LEADER WHO MIGHT HAVE BEEN: San Diego Union-Tribune columnist James. O. Goldsborough perfectly sums up the bittersweet saga of Colin Powell's situation which we have mentioned in another post. It's worth reading in full but we'll run his conclusion here:

The argument for remaining in place when you disagree is to influence policy. Yet Powell's presentation to the United Nations on the eve of war, which was bellicose and unfounded, served as a call to war. He blames the CIA for supplying him misinformation, but it was his presentation. Where is his sense of responsibility?

After four years as secretary of state – twice as long as Marshall – Powell's only legacy is a kind of lofty irrelevance, a quality with which he also has infected the State Department. One thinks of Noel Coward's lament on his friend Anthony Eden, following the Suez debacle: "a tragic figure, cast in a star part well above his capabilities."

---Indeed, Powell entered the Bush cabinet as a big-name, charismatic, totally credible giant. His image when he leaves -- on the right and on the left -- will be a considerably less than that.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 12:43 PM


WE HATE TO SAY WE TOLD YOU SO ABOUT JOHN KERRY LOSING GROUND but we told you so. We've written here about Kerry's tepid campaign and political toe-stubbing.
--- Now, Newsweek/MSNBC'S Howard Fineman has a piece listing nine reasons why Kerry is indeed losing ground -- despite what his spinners are saying. Fineman notes how issues, developments and events (even Bob Woodward's new book "Plan of Action") are working in Bush's FAVOR. And in the end he notes (as we do) that part of the problem is John Kerry himself.
---He writes: "So far, his strategy has amounted mostly to: Vote for me, I'm not Bush. That's not enough, especially if Kerry is seen by most voters the way the BC04 ad portrays him: as a flip-flopping manipulative insider."
---Indeed, you can almost feel certain things happening in a campaign -- and you get the feeling now that John Kerry is somehow shrinking before our eyes, the consequence of events beyond his control coupled with a seeming lack of energy and a truly uninspiring performance. But events and energy levels can change, and performances can be sharpened....especially in a seven month timeframe.
---UPDATE: NEWSWEEK SAYS RALPH NADER IS DECIMATING KERRY'S SUPPORT AMONG YOUNG PEOPLE: Once Kerry was ahead...now he and Bush are in a dead heat. And a Newsweek poll says Ralph Nader is a key reason why:

Clearly, some young voters have turned away from Kerry for the same reasons as older citizens. But the GENEXT poll indicates that the presumptive Democratic candidate’s strength among the youth vote has been disproportionately dissipated by the entrance of independent Ralph Nader into the presidential race. In the latest GENEXT poll, the consumer advocate earns 11 percent of the under-30 vote. While Nader’s showing is down 1 point from a month earlier, it still is nearly double the 6 percent of voters who said they would vote for him in the AP/Ipsos poll of all voters.

---If the election was slated for June, these trends would indicate Kerry is doomed. But with the time left (and unpredictable events), polls like these are like snapshots....a moment frozen in ever-changing time (and fortunes).
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 11:01 AM


A GREAT WAY TO BRIGHTEN YOUR DAY: Start your day by visiting The Blog of Death. Actually, it is a VERY WELL DONE blog of obits. The Moderate Voice can safely say it is the one blog where he does not want to be featured soon.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 10:46 AM


THE WHITE HOUSE'S TIES TO AND PROTECTION OF SAUDI ARABIA are looked at by Radley Balko...and it provides you with (no matter who you want for President) a virtual Home Town Buffet of thought....
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 10:28 AM



SEOUL (Reuters) - Up to 3,000 people were killed or injured when two trains loaded with fuel collided and exploded at a North Korean station Thursday, hours after leader Kim Jong-il had passed through, South Korea's YTN television said. YTN quoted witnesses in its report while South Korea's Yonhap news agency, which spoke of widespread destruction, also said there were thousands of casualties. Neither Yonhap nor YTN gave a breakdown of deaths and injuries.

---So far reports say they don't think it was anything but an accident.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 9:27 AM


NEW YORK TIMES STAFFERS SEND ANGRY EMAILS TO COLUMNIST WHO DARED CRITICIZE THEIR PAPER OVER JAYSON BLAIR SCANDAL: Bucks County Courier Times columnist J.D. Mullane was busy in his office when he opened his email.
---"Busy, busy, busy," he writes in column. "So it was a treat to hear from a couple of New York Times journalists who graciously took time from their busy, important day to tell me I'm dumb and a hack."
---His sin: he was raked over the coals for DARING to write about the infamous Jayson Blair serial fabricator scandal. Specifically, he had written a column criticizing the NY Times' resigned top editor Howell Raines. It was Mullane's attitude that irked them:"To me, it's important for readers to know that it's not reporters like Blair who make a newspaper good or bad - it's editors."
---Another staffer on The Infallable (unless they make a mistake) Paper of Record was upset because he labeled Times editors "largely unseen boobs."
---Maybe Janet Jackson could have used a Times editor or two...
---One editor wrote him:""A Jayson Blair slipped through our net and now we must pay the price, even to the point of putting up with hacks in the hinterlands like you who think they know a lot but who use their journalistic forum to foment half-truths and unfounded opinion."
---Hey: It sounds like he's talking about The Moderate Voice!
---But, no, the Times editor was calling someone on a less prominent paper a "hack" and, of course, since that paper is not in The City, and in a Philadelphia suburb, it therefore is in the ignorant, meaningless, irrelevant hinterlands. (Well, at least where Mullane lives you don't walk outside and immediately get a cinder in your eye and urinals are understood to be inside buildings and not random walls..).
---In his most recent column (linked above) he details other Times failings that were excused or papered over (errors that would have gotten less famous or elite journalists elsewhere the quick corporate boot).
---And then he concludes:"The strange thing is that, after all this self-inflicted scandal, no one in the business will say what's obvious: The New York Times no longer represents the gold standard of journalism. Tinfoil, maybe, but not gold."
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 8:15 AM


OUT TO GET THE SAUDI ARABIAN GOVERNMENT'S HEAD: The Christian Science Monitor reports Saudi Arabian analysists' belief that the suicide bomber who blew himself up in front of national police security headquarters in Riyadh represented a shift by Al Qaeda in tactics. Key quotes:

"The militants previously did not attack security forces. They only fought them in self-defense. They were on the defensive. Now they're going on the offensive," says Abdullah Bjad al-Otaibi, a columnist with al-Riyadh, a daily newspaper in the capital.

"Previously their target was Americans and Westerners in Saudi Arabia. Now their war is also against the security forces," says Mr. Otaibi. Militants struck two housing compounds last year killing more than 50 people.

---American have been urged to leave due to the situation. Just last week, the US State Department ordered nonessential personnel out and the US Embassy in Riyadh urged all Americans to leave the country. The orders were based on info about possible upcoming attacks against Western targets.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 8:00 AM

Wednesday, April 21, 2004  

SCISSORS LEFT IN WOMAN'S ABDOMEN AFTER OPERATION: SHE SUES: A funny thing happened to Pat Skinner after having part of her colon removed at St. George Hospital in Sydney Australia. She had stomach cramps.
---You'd think that perhaps it was due to the hospital food, which is always basically like the old food airlines used to serve(without any salt).
---But it wasn't the bland hospital cuisine: when she went to the doctor 18 months after her operation, they found a scissors in her stomach. (You can just hear a doctor say: "How do you like that, mate? I was WONDERING where I put that thing!")
---And now she's understandably in a snippy mood, making cutting remarks to all and sundry:""I just can't believe that, you know," she told a reporter in Australia. "I had those things inside me for such a long time. I just think it's obscene. That's the only way I can describe it."
---So now she is angrily taking legal action, and you can't blame her. All this happened after she had part of her colon removed, leaving her with a semi-colon.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 8:51 PM


MICHAEL JACKSON INDICTED ON MOLESTATION CHARGE: WILL HE "BEAT IT?": ABC News is reporting that a grand jury investigating allegations that Michael Jackson molested a boy has indicted the King of Perps...I mean, POP.
---The exact charges against him aren't yet known, but the indictment basically means the grand jury believes Jackson committed a crime and should face trial. Jackson, 45, was booked on child molestation charges after the14-year-old boy claimed the singer sexually abused him during visits to Jackson's Neverland Ranch.
---According to ABC, the precise charges returned against the singer were not immediately known. The boy was 12 when the alleged incidents took place.
---Jackson has called the whole thing a "big lie." Eleven years ago he was accused of sexually molesting a boy but he was never charged: he reportedly paid $20 million to settle the boy's family's civil suit.
---There have already been rumblings from the Jackson camp that they are going to contend this is part of a plot to get Jackson's music catalogue, or that racial predjudice aimed at targeting him is at play.
---But Jackson's purported upcoming attempt to portray himself as a victim may be undermined by a bit of related news earlier this week: the Los Angeles Times said some of his associates are reportedly accused of threatening the family of the boy who says Jackson molested him -- and that prosecutors are considering filing charges against a former personal assistant, a former production company worker and possibly others.
---Will Jackson "beat it?" He'll have the very best lawyers money can buy.
---His fans (much like political supporters of any candidate) will defend and love him no matter what comes out in the trial.
--- Are we in for another O.J. trial?
---Stay tuned........it promises to be a Thriller.....
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 7:35 PM


BLOG OF THE DAY: The Moderate Voice occasionally reviews blogs -- of ALL political persuasions. and for this one we have to write in lower-case.
---it's just that we've been so impressed with the content and style of a liberal web log that we could not control ourselves -- and had to emulate one of it's zippy features: it doesn't have any capital letters (but it does have capital ideas, concisely and often-humorously stated).
---take a web log written in lower case letters (just as the nearly-forgotten radio comedian fred allen used to use in all his famous correspondence), stir a dash of good humor, some great news links and blunt comments on the news and you have skippy the bush kangaroo. and don't let the name fool you...it's a full-service blog that doesn't have anything to do with kangaroos (although it does hop from topic to topic).
---zippy skippy is judicious -- and delicious -- with words. many posts are short, consisting of quotes from various news stories. but when skippy jumps in with a comment every word counts -- and there's often a big idea expressed quickly. skippy is fun: at a quick glance you can read through some key story highlights, and also get a between-the-eyes liberal perspective on the news. it all may be in lower case but ITS A BIG SUCCESS. and for that we are proud to name skippy the bush kangaroo as our blog of the day......
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 4:18 PM


THERE'S HOPE FOR ROSIE O'DONNELL YET: Scientists report they’ve created mice by using two genetic moms — and no dad. They can't do it on people yet, only self-admitted rats. MSNBC reports:

In fact, one of the moms was a mutant newborn, whose DNA had been altered to make it act like a male’s contribution to an embryo.

The work sheds light on why mice and people normally do need a dad’s DNA to reproduce. Some experts also said it held implications for using human stem cells to treat disease. The achievement is reported in Thursday’s issue of the journal Nature by Tomohiro Kono of the Tokyo University of Agriculture in Japan, with colleagues there and in Korea. They say they produced two mice, one of which grew to maturity and gave birth. Kono said this mouse, named “Kaguya” after a Japanese fairy tale character, appears to be perfectly healthy.

---So: Mickey Has Two Mommies.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 2:59 PM


WE GIVE UP! We're going to hold on any more posts on Air America being on the air, off the air, on the air, etc. in various key cities...because despite our update and our update update below, the latest is that it will be OFF the air in Chicago as of April 30 after all and remains off the air in L.A. In the end, they'll likely get their outlets....but we are declaring a blackout on postings about their progress or lack of it until they reach their six month mark (if you want more news click on the Al Franken link on the LEFT LINKS or go to Air America's website).
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 10:36 AM


JOHN KERRY CREDITED WITH UNOFFICIALLY KILLING 20 ENEMY FIGHTERS IN VIETNAM: The Smoking Gun has released the document that you can see here and said this: "The body count reference is included in a glowing 1969 Navy report that noted Kerry, a 25-year-old junior grade lieutenant, exhibited 'all of the traits desired of an officer in a combat environment.'"
--- This is one of the documents now being released by the Kerry camp after a mini-firestorm over the Kerry camp's refusal to release all of his military records. All of them will be scrutinized by the press....and (this is coming from someone who used to work in the news media) Kerry is going to have to release all of them before this story can completely run its course.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 10:04 AM


THERE ARE RUMBLINGS ABOUT STARTING A MILITARY DRAFT AGAIN: Project Censored, a media research group at Sonoma State University, insists that there will be a serious attempt to bring it back by Spring 2005 as part of the war on terrorism. And the government recently took several steps to get the machinery in place for a targeted military draft for people with special skills. Selective Service System officials have said the prospect for that is remote. And reports have indicate there is not yet support in Congress to bring a draft back.
---Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has insisted he has no intention of asking Congress to authorize a draft. And, indeed, the draft issue has come up and been shot down many times the past few years...but now there is concern about U.S. troop strength...so the dirty word (draft) is being heard quietly again.
---You can find pro and con in every party -- and every ideology -- on this issue. For instance, Democratic Veteran has a good roundup of liberal opinion, and you can see the split even there.
--- The Moderate Voice (he hates to admit) is old enough to remember the draft during the Vietnam War. Once Richard Nixon eliminated it the war issue seemed to fizzle on college campuses.
---So if it is reinstituted there is a real chance that military issues will meet much more resistance than they do now among youth. The reason: to some, having the option to serve and having to serve determine a political stance -- because personal stakes become higher.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 8:53 AM


IS THERE A "DEAL" WITH SAUDI ARABIA TO LOWER GAS PRICES RIGHT BEFORE THE ELECTION? This raging question stems from Bob Woodward's controversial new book "Plan of Action" in which he says Prince Bandar promised to lower prices right before the election to help President George Bush.
--- Bandar (more or less) denied it on Softball King...I mean, Larry King..Live on CNN. Bandar says any talks he had about oil prices with a Republican president were no different from those with Democrats. Meanwhile, Woodward is unwavering on this point in his book. And the White House? Josh Marshall has run a copy of the transcript of White House press spokesman Scott McClellan being grilled by reporters about the allegation. The word "unwavering" is not exactly what you could use for McClellan's responses when asked to confirm or deny a gas price deal.
---Read it yourself and see if YOU can find a flat denial. The Moderate Voice's view? After reading and re-reading this transcript we fully expect to see gas prices magically plummet as early as the summer and definitely by election day. Of course, after the elections gas prices will go way up again. Three things:
---(1)McClellan sounds like someone trying desperately to avoid a denial that can come back to haunt him (read it and make your best argument in the comment box that this is someone who is giving a straight answer).
---(2)If it proves true it has very serious implications. Can we look for Washington policymakers to be as tough on Saudi Arabia as other Arab countries in the future or are they in a special class by themselves? That has been the allegation since 911, given the large number of Saudis who were involved in the operation, the immediate whisking of bin Laden family members out of the U.S. before they could be questioned, and the Bush family's well-documented business and political ties to the Saudi monarchy.
---(3)If gas prices go down before the elections, Bush wins, and they go up again, it will come back to haunt the GOP since it will be a major issue in the future elections (including 2006 Congressional elections) for the Democrats and even third parties such as Ralph Nader.
---During the Clinton years, the GOP (quite rightly) made an issue out of China trying to buy undue influence. Wouldn't the control of vital oil prices to create a narcotic-like sense of relief right before an election to influence the outcome be the same thing?
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 7:27 AM


THE PRODUCT YOU'VE BEEN WAITING YOUR WHOLE LIFE!!!!!! Yes...the Banana Guard with its "unique, patented device allows for the safe transport and storage of individual bananas." It comes in 9 pleasing colors, and its manufacturer notes:"The Banana Guard was specially designed to fit the vast majority of bananas." (Even the rotten ones running for office?). They'll make a bunch of money because the product has a-ppeal.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 7:01 AM


ANOTHER COUNTRY LEAVES IRAQ AND EMULATES SPAIN: Honduras President Ricardo Maduro announced he'll pullout his troops "in the shortest time possible." Osama must be smiling.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 6:47 AM


We know that Iraq has problems, factions, oil, a lot of people maimed by the old regime limping around, terrorists, a slew of statues of Sadaam on sale (cheap) and lots of restaurants that don't serve pork...but did you know there are a batch of Iraqi bloggers? According to USA Today, blogging has become a big pastime there.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 6:32 AM


THE TEFLON PRESIDENT? Bush advisors reportedly feel the President has weathered the various crises the past few weeks quite well -- and may even have benefited from them. They have also benefited from a truly lackluster political performance from John Kerry, whose bland performance so far is proving to be the greatest political weapon in the GOP's arsenal. The Washington Post today has even run an editorial titled "Mr. Kerry Revises," over Kerry's flip-flop on an important Iraq war related issue. Not a sign that your campaign is catching on, Senator Kerry..]
UPDATE: MORE BAD NEWS FOR JOHN KERRY: Polls show President George Bush ahead in the pivotal states of Florida and Pennsylvania.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 1:36 AM


SCANDAL APPARENTLY CLAIMS A VICTIM: USA Today's award winning foreign correspondent and serial fabricator Jack Kelly has apparently claimed his first major corporate victim: Editor Karen Jurgensen resigned suddenly, issuing the usual screamingly bland and pro-forma newspaper press statement (it is ironic that the least candid corporations in revealing what is going on are newspapers -- their statements always sound the same...evasive).
---It's more likely she either was dumped, or jumped. Similar top-level resignations followed in the wake of the infamous Jayson Blair scandal at the New York Times.
---The good news: the U.S. press is clearly clamping down on ethics violations in a way that sends a message that not only will dishonest reporters face severe consequences, but the top boss who allowed the newspaper to lose some credibility will have to "move on," too.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 1:28 AM


IS YOUR COMPUTER A BORE? Are you sick of the biege plastic top and dirt-tinged plastic keyboard staring you in the face? Do you long for something more tasteful and dignified as you explore porn sites...I mean, web logs and religious websites?
---If so, a Swedish company has your dream come true: Sollentuna-based company Swedx is making computer screens, keyboards and mice encased in timber. In addition to its aesthetic value, proponents say, there is an ecological plus: the custom built wooden cases use wood logged from managed forests in China and they decompose faster than plastic. According to Nature.com:

Around 45 million new personal computer systems were bought in 2002-03 in the United States alone, many of which will end up in landfills. There is growing concern that the plastic skeletons are stacking up, and that toxic materials in their casings, chips and displays are leaching into the environment
Many standard plastic computer casings contain chemicals called brominated flame retardants, added to improve fire safety. Once in the environment, the cancer-causing chemicals are thought to accumulate in animal and human tissues.

But wouldn't wooden computers and wooden mice create a whole new host of problems, such as:
--Termites could infect the computer (and give The Moderate Voices' cast of characters in his show a terminal disease).
--Home Depot would have to service your computer.
--You could get splinters from the wooden keyboard.
--The wife keeps changing the color of the wooden monitors to match the walls.
--You have to buy Lemon Pledge by the caseful at CostCo to keep the wood looking good.
--The wooden mouse leaves a sawdust trail.
--Your system crashes after the first woodpecker attack.
---Meanwhile, one of the big selling points of the new computer screens would be framing nice pictures in pine.
--- But that will depend on the picture.
---Sure, you could use a restful, cool pond scene.
---But to pay perfect tribute to the tasteful wood and sell more wooden computers the company should find a photo that displays perfection, beauty, dignity and taste -- a photo that inspires...and we think we have found the perfect one here.
---(The Real Dummy salutes computer consultant/website designer Ed Koperda for his help on this item).
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 12:36 AM

Tuesday, April 20, 2004  

LIBERAL TALK RADIO got a resounding thumbs down from L.A. Times' media critic David Shaw who goes into great detail on why it he feels it won't work. He now says he "greatly overestimated" Air America's potential -- a conclusion he drew by listening to 17 hours of its programs which "may have been the most boring day of my life." Details are here.
UPDATE: Air America has lost its Chicago station and reportedly remains off the air in Los Angeles due to the contract dispute with one of its outlet companies. This means it's out of two of the county's biggest markets. Not necessary down for the count...but not precisely thriving financially (or, as you can see above, critically).
UPDATE UPDATE: Stephen Crockett of Democratic Talk Radio reports that Air America is now back on the air in Chicago. He also points out that Air America didn't bounce a check as reported in some quarters, but actually stopped payment on a check (see our comment box) due to a dispute with a station owner.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 9:07 AM


JOHN KERRY IS SITTING ON A POLITICAL TIME BOMB in not releasing all of his past military records to the press.
---He was asked on "Meet the Press" whether he'd do the same as President George Bush and release all of his military records and replied:""I have. I've shown them -- they're available for you to come and look at." He added that "people can come and see them at headquarters." But when a Boston Globe reporter went down he was told enough was enough.
---This is BAD NEWS for Kerry...literally.
---At a time when polls show he is losing ground to Bush even during a two week period of bleak news for the administration, Kerry is poised for a battle of wills with the press...and in the end he's going to lose.
---In the end, he'll have to release the records, or refuse and face the question "WHY?" -- and it's going to distract from his campaign messages.
---For instance, read this section from the Globe piece:

Kerry has not released the formal evaluations from superior officers, although his campaign has given a letter from a commanding officer that recommended him for service aboard Navy patrol boats and also reports for the Silver and Bronze stars that laud Kerry's actions in combat. By comparison, retired Army General Wesley K. Clark released hundreds of pages of his records during the Democratic primary campaign, including all evaluations of him by his superiors.

Bush earlier this year released 300 pages of documents after media outlets raised new questions about the extent of his National Guard service. Those records, which Bush promised during a Feb. 8 appearance on "Meet the Press" to make available, included many military evaluations and medical records.

---Why does this matter?
---(1)GOP operatives must be salivating at the comparisons they can draw between the Kerry camp's stance and what Bush and Clark did.
---(2)It's going to undermine Kerry's big selling point, his military record. Just as the press and critics clamored for the Bush administration to release the Presidential Daily Briefing to show it had nothing to hide, Kerry's critics and foes are going to suggesting he won't release all of his records because he has something to hide..
---((3)Polls clearly show Kerry's campaign is lackluster and that his negatives are going up. This ain't gonna drive them down...
---UPDATE: As this controversy began to get "legs," the Kerry camp provided certification of his medals from the Vietnam War, including three Purple Hearts for combat injuries.
---The AP reports:"(Kerry's spokesman) said the Massachusetts senator and presumptive Democratic presidential nominee requested a copy of his record from the Navy last month and received roughly 150 pages last week. He said the campaign was in the process of scanning images of the documents Tuesday and they would be posted on Kerry's Web site."
---ADVICE TO KERRY FROM A FORMER NEWSPAPER REPORTER: The press will want to see ALL OF IT. Nothing less will do, especially after the promise you made on "Meet the Press" about anyone looking at it. Anything less than releasing all of it will keep alive -- and feed -- the controversy.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 8:44 AM


AL-SADR: "LEAVE SPANISH TROOPS ALONE": Now that Spain is accelerating its plans to pull its 1,300 troops out of Iraq Shia leader Muqtada al-Sadr has told his followers: hands off the Spaniards.
---Through his spokesman he said said:
---"We call [on al-Sadr's followers] to ensure the security of Spanish troops until their departure as long as these forces do not perpetrate aggressions against the Iraqi people. Other countries which assign troops to the coalition in Iraq are urged to follow the example of Spain and to withdraw their forces to save the lives of their soldiers," he added.
---That puts it plainly enough: Spain's pulling its troops out is already being framed as a kind of retreat (which it is).
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 8:09 AM


Citizen Smash offers a VERY INTERESTING CONTRAST between Socialistas of different generations and asks: "Whom would you rather follow?" Click here, read it and decide.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 7:21 AM

Monday, April 19, 2004  

ETIQUETTE FOR TODAY'S CO-ED: Straight from the authoritative Yale Daily News, Dana Schuster revises the rules. Read it yourself but here are a few of our favorites for 21st Century MUST and MUST NOT behavior:
(1)"Foremost, as exhibited by the prior example, it is utterly imperative to notify friends at all times when food is misplaced in their teeth, hair or face. Do not let friends wander the rough and tough streets of New Haven as human billboards advertising what's to eat in the dining halls today."
(2)And it's VITAL to remember "if your drunken fraternity brother has uncontrollably peed all over his khaki pants while out partying, informing him of his stain is a kind gesture. That way he'll either change into another pair of pants before passing out and puking in his bed, or he'll pass out right there in his piss-stained khakis, providing ample opportunity for embarrassing photos -- which will increase the general utility of the group." (TMV sez: The same rule applies for politicians at fund-raising dinners.)
(3)"Likewise, it is merely cruel to tell a guy that he's balding when it is an uncontrollable part of college (for the unfortunate prematurely balding sect of men, at least). However, if you suspect that a friend might be prone to balding in the future after having dinner with his comb-over dad, slyly slipping a few pills of Rogaine into his pocket is both an appreciated and pragmatic gesture."
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 8:42 PM


THE OUTSOURCING BODY COUNT CONTINUES IN TECH JOBS: According to U.K.'s The Register's San Francisco correspondent:"The number of IT jobs that moved offshore has reached 160,785, according to the Washington Alliance of Technology Workers. The organization claims to maintain the only web counter of job losses overseas from the United States. Almost 100,000 net jobs were lost to the US tech sector in this period."
---And if you are one of those folks who say "big deal, what's 100,000 jobs?" then consider this:

The researchers say that because of stealth off-shoring, it's difficult to track the figures accurately, but reckon that the number underestimates the true figure. You can find the Offshore Tracker at TechsUnite.org, here. The Alliance is affiliated to the Communications Workers of America union.

---Meanwhile, IBM has warned staff not to use the word "off-shore" when it starts moving white collar jobs from the US to China, India and Brazil this year, the Wall Street Journal reports (again via The Register).
---What euphamisms will they use? "Mainland distanced..."..."Gone bye-bye".."Labor on Hiatus..."..."Pre-held U.S. job"... or "Patriotic duty to help our economy..." (Fill in your own suggestions in the comment box below puh-leaze!)
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 8:20 PM


SANTA IS GOING BROKE: From Reuters, Helsinki:"The last three worker elves at Father Christmas's official headquarters in Finland's Arctic have been fired as Santa Park grapples with its finances." THIS JUST IN: Santa's headquarters will now be outsourced to India -- and the elves are incensed. But the elves' problem is dwarfed by the problem of Santa's lease: it has a Clause in it.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 7:57 PM


WHO SEZ BUSH IS IN TROUBLE? NOT THE VOTERS according to a new USA Today/CNN/Callup Poll. It shows that GWB has actually WIDENED his lead over John Kerry despite the tempestuous two weeks that included escalating violence in Iraq and the often fiery 911 Commission meetings. Bottom line on the survey: 51 percent would vote for Bush 46 percent for Kerry with a margin of error of 3 points. (How can that be when John Kerry is such an inspirational candidate?)
---UPDATE: An ABC News/Washington Post poll finds about the same thing: Bush's ratings have either stayed the same or improved...Kerry's negatives are going up and positives going down...and Kerry is losing the edge on issues on which he garnered better poll ratings than Bush only months before. Net result: good holding pattern or moderate gain for GOP, bad trend for Democrats. (But then there is always next week's poll and the see saw in results that is the American Way before elections, right?).
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 4:14 PM


BOB WOODWARD, 60 MINUTES, BUSH & THE SAUDIS AND COLIN POWELL: Sunday's segment with journalist Bob Woodward talking about his Iraq war book "Plan of Action" had some tidbits that contribute more to the drip-drip-drip of revelations that will solidify President George Bush's support in some quarters -- but could cost him dearly in others (read that: swing voters).
---You can read more extensively about the interview here but we found these points interesting and at times disturbing:
---THE SAUDIS: According to Woodward, Saudi Arabia's Prince Bandar was basically briefed in detail on secret war plans -- and promised Bush that his country would make sure gas prices were low in the U.S. around election time. So now the Saudi's are consciously working for one side in the elections? If it's true it means a)they cut production to raise the prices for a while (thus DAMAGING the U.S. economy by negatively impacting businesses and individuals) and make as much $$$ as they can, b)they'll lower them around election time to make sure Bush is re-elected.
---What does this mean? After the election if Bush is elected prices can go UP AGAIN...because elections would be far off. Given the Bush family's long and strong ties to the Saudis, allegations of the use of gas as a political tool to keep an American friend in power will raise some eyebrows, to say the least. It turns out John Kerry is already making it a campaign issue.
------ The Saudis deny any plans to try to influence U.S. presidential elections by lowering prices right before the vote. Save this link and if gas prices begin magically plummeting this summer or early fall it would suggest Woodward's book was right.
---OVERALL: The White House is disputing Woodward's timeframe on when the actual decision to go to war was made. 60 Minutes claimed they listened to original interview tapes to ensure his account of his work was accurate. If Woodward is correct that this war was planned long before administration officials insisted a decision was actually made, it may not have as much impact in the U.S., even in elections, as abroad -- where it will undermine governments that back the U.S. in the face of stiff internal opposition. The upside for Bush is that Woodward describes him as a principled (except if a deal over gas prices was reached with the Saudis) leader. But, overall, it's a net minus since it gives ammunition to those those in Europe and elsewhere who seek to distance their countries from the U.S. and oppose the Iraq war.
---CIA DIRECTOR GEORGE TENET: Comes across as a brown-noser, wanting to please the boss to keep his job at all costs -- even insisting evidence of weapons of mass destruction is "slam dunk" when it was anything but. Realize: the war was sold and launched on the basis of those two words which have not yet proven to be true.
---Tenet came across as eager and competent in the 911 Commission hearings but in the book he comes across as a grown up version of "Leave It To Beaver's" Eddie Haskell.
---COLIN POWELL: Let's say clearly what everyone is tiptoeing around: Colin Powell is proving to be one of the biggest disappointments of the Bush Administration -- to both those on the right and those on the left.
---To those on the right, he has battled the neocon Cheney-Rumsfeld side in varying degrees but has not been a fervent supporter of their plans.
--- To those on the left, he didn't agree with the President's policy, yet he was a good soldier and went along with the administration.
---And, now, he was clearly a key source for the Woodward book for some of its more sensational allegations (such as Saudi Arabia being informed of war plans before him and apparently the alleged gas-price deal). And administration officials are reportedly irked.
---No matter how you look at it, Colin Powell is Politically Dead Man Walking.
---UPDATE: After a mini-firestorm over Woodward's book that entailed a slew of stories about irate administration members and denials of key allegations by National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell today disputed the key portions of it, including controversial sections that dealt with him. The problem is: Woodward's books have traditionally stood up to scrutiny. He doesn't have a track record of being inaccuracies. And, clearly, political insiders saw Powell as the source key parts of the book. No matter what the Secretary of State says now -- whether it's sincere or damage control -- he will leave office with his political stature less than when he took it.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 12:59 PM


MAYBE IT WAS SOMETHING HE ATE: McDonald's Chairman and Chief Executive Jim Cantalupo died on Monday of an apparent heart attack.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 11:01 AM


WATCH WILLIAM SHATNER OVERACT in a thankfully short snippet. Click here.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 8:51 AM


BUSH SCOLDS NEW SPANISH PRIME MINISTER ON TROOP WITHDRAWAL: See our earlier post on the new Spanish PM's decision to pull troops out of Iraq even earlier than originally planned. So, today, President George Bush got a phone call from Madrid -- and he let 'er rip, according to the AP:

President Bush scolded Spain's new prime minister for his swift withdrawal of troops from Iraq and told him to avoid actions that give "false comfort to terrorists or enemies of freedom in Iraq."

---Bush's action came during a five minute phone call from newly installed Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, who placed the call to Bush. Bush "expressed his regret to President Zapatero about the decision to abruptly announce the pullout of Spanish troops from Iraq," White House press secretary Scott McClellan said.
---"The president urged that the Spanish withdrawal take place in a coordinated manner that does not put at risk other coalition forces in Iraq...The president stressed the importance of carefully considering future actions to avoid giving false comfort to terrorists or enemies of freedom in Iraq."
---At this point...it's a done deal. Why shouldn't terrorists conclude its efficient to repeat tactics (an attack before an election) that work?
---The bottom line is this: democracies simply cannot postpone elections due to election-eve terrorist attacks that might change outcomes -- since that would radically negate the meaning of a democracy and actually transform the country's political system, even if temporarily. If the then-ruling government had cancelled the elections fearing a different outcome, it would have been accused of reverting to Francoism.
---One solution: politicos and policy makers in democracies are going to have to tirelessly work try to shore up consensus among ALL parties on combating terrorism so there is at least some basic underlying unity and continuity on fundamental policies. This will differ depending on the country; the gap between George Bush and John Kerry is much smaller (Kerry is NOT embracing Dennis Kucinich's pull-out-all-troops line) than the gap between the Popular Party and the Socialists was in Spain. This is the NEW REALITY...thanks to Spain's voters and the new P.M.'s rotten timing.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 8:29 AM


BUSH'S BEATABILITY FACTOR (not to be confused with the O'Reilly Factor or the O'Franken Factor) is discussed in detail in a Boston Globe op-ed piece by media consultant Dan Payne. Payne worked on Kerry's state campaign and Michael Dukakis' primary victories. He lists several factors and notes:"News stories from swing states keep showing unemployed people and families with relatives in Iraq rethinking support for Bush." Right now the problem for the Democrats is this: Kerry's performance so far is uneven and uninspiring. The election right now is Bush's to lose since Kerry is not Super Candidate.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 7:49 AM

Sunday, April 18, 2004  

PAT BUCHANAN'S NEW FRIENDS Raw Story columnist Craig Colbert takes "A Liberal's second look at Pat Buchanan" and likes what he sees. He praises Buchanan for "his bulldog determination to be the voice of reason on the conservative side" -- and points to Buchanan's stance on the war, the disputed Florida 2000 election, and the questions PB asked liberal nemesis Ann Coulter on a recent cable TV show.
---He contends Buchanan is "the neo-cons worst enemy, a conservative with the guts to ask 'why?' He is also a symbol of a growing problem for the Bush Administration going into the election and that is a growing number of conservatives with middle class values who feel their country has been high-jacked by a neocon cabal that does not have the their best interests, or this country’s best interests, at heart."
---Maybe the bulk GOPers don't feel quite as strongly as that...but it's clear the Bush camp has a problem on its hands with Republicans on some issues...such as on renewing the Patriot Act. (Meanwhile, since Buchanan is making new liberal fans can a gig for him on Air America be far behind?).
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 10:17 PM


IS THE U.S. HISTORICALLY INCLINED TO BE VULNERABLE TO SURPRISE ATTACKS? The American Spectator's Geoffrey Norman thinks so and points to a slew of historical events where the U.S. was caught off guard. In his piece, which is highly critical of the 911 Commission, he notes:

PERHAPS THE COMMISSIONERS could take a day away from their lawyerly nitpicking and ask if there might be something in the American character or psyche that makes us especially vulnerable to surprise attacks. (They ain't going to do it, but one can dream.) Could this be the dark side of a peculiarly American virtue? Part complacency and smugness in our own strength and perceived invulnerability but, also, a kind of naive trust and belief that since it is unfair to hit someone when he isn't looking, people won't do that.

---Norman argues that the Bush administration's pre-emptive strike policy deals with this, but various factors undermine it -- and since "preemption isn't much of a doctrine unless your enemies believe you mean it..."" in raking the administration over the coals "the commission makes it less credible."
--- Fair enough, but the commission would also fail if it didn't try to fix things that are broken in U.S. intelligence gathering and coordination -- so as ugly and politicized as the process is (and it is), it's necessary. People can (and will) differ about the 911 commission's usefulness, but Norman makes the eye-opening case: you can see by laying out the dates how surprise attacks have historically been America's weakness. The terrorists likely know it, too.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 9:56 PM


REPUBLICANS FOR RALPH WEBSITE: Interesting website. Will Ralph Nader read it? Is it for real or a satire? Or both? It urges people to say they're for Nader, tell all their friends to vote for Nader, etc. and then:"DON'T actually vote for Nader on election day! Remember, it's all about bait and switch. We bait, then switch! We're supporting Nader all the way up to November 1, 2004. And then, cast your vote for President Bush. "
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 9:34 PM


IS THERE AN IMMINENT TERRORIST THREAT? An ABC News reports suggests that may be the case -- and the government was worried enough to hold "a rare conference call with local police to warn them." The likely targets": soft targets such as malls or landmarks. ABC adds:"The intelligence, received a week ago but secret until now, is from known Muslim extremists who suggested an attack — possibly in the U.S. — was imminent, and that operatives were already 'in place,' sources tell ABCNEWS."
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 9:20 PM



(PITTSBURGH)City police on Friday said they were looking for a man who called a KFC restaurant and placed an unusual takeout order — a robbery. The man called the restaurant March 31 and told the manager he was a police officer. The caller told the manager that a robber was on his way to the store and that the store employees should cooperate so nobody would get hurt. Police planned to grab the robber as he left the store, the caller said.

Moments later, a robber showed up and took $200, but no police arrived to arrest him — fueling police suspicion that the telephone "cop" and restaurant robber are the same person. Police said at a news conference Friday they believe the same man is responsible for at least 10 other robberies in the city since late January. The other stores weren't called ahead of time.

---It was finger-print lickin' good...People are used to calling ahead. My Uncle Max was one of the first people who put electricity into the bathroom of an Indian reservation. In otherwords, he was one of the first people who wired a head for a reservation. (These are the jokes; what do you expect? This blog is FREE...)
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 9:07 PM


TURNING LEMON INTO LEMONADE: John Kerry's statement about Spain yanking its troops out of Iraq ahead of the previously announced schedule (and seeming to reward terrorists handsomely for their murder) turned a negative (troop withdrawal) and it into a positive (for him): a chance to again pitch for more UN involvement:""I regret Prime Minister Zapateros decision. Spain and all the world have an interest in rebuilding an Iraq that is not a haven for terrorists and a failed state. I had hoped the Prime Minister would have reconsidered his position, and I hope that in the days ahead the United States and the world can work with him to find a way to keep Spain engaged in the efforts in Iraq. Rather than losing partners, I believe its critical that we find new coalition partners to share the burden in Iraq. We need to offer to share responsibilities with the United Nations, NATO and others, so they will work with us in Iraq to achieve security, stability, and freedom." FOOTNOTE: Earlier in the week there were indications Portugal might follow suit.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 5:11 PM


RUMBLINGS THAT TERRORISTS MAY TRY TO INFLUENCE THE U.S. PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS were heard today -- warnings from Spain's former Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar as well as National Security advisor Condoleezza Rice. On Fox News:
(1)Aznar, a strong U.S. ally in the war in Iraq (unlike Spains new PM), said he has warned President Bush that he believes terrorists will try to affect the U.S. election as they did in Spain when on March 11 terrorists bombs killed 191 people in Madrid: "I told George Bush, and (British Prime Minister) Tony Blair and other political leaders to be extremely careful before elections ... and to be very vigilant."
(2)Rice said the chance for terrorists to attempt to the U.S. election appears to be an opportunity that would "be too good to pass up for them...I think that we do have to take very seriously the thought that the terrorists might have learned, we hope, the wrong lesson from Spain."
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 11:29 AM


SPAIN TO PULL TROOPS OUT OF SPAIN ASAP (sending ANOTHER message to terrorists): Spain's Prime Minister had said he was going to wait until June to yank Spanish troops out of Iraq...but now he has accelerated his timetable.
---The BBC reports:"Spain's new prime minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero has given orders for Spanish troops in Iraq to be brought home in "as short a time as possible".
---Zapatero said he could not ignore what he called the will of the Spanish people. But previously he had vowed to withdraw Spanish troops from Iraq unless they come under UN command by June 30th, when the mandate expires.
---Now, just a few hours after the new Socialist government was sworn in, he has explained that he ordered his defense minister to ""do what is necessary for the Spanish troops stationed in Iraq return home in the shortest time possible."
---He said: ""More than anything, this decision reflects my desire to keep the promise I made to the Spanish people more than a year ago..Driven by the deepest democratic convictions, the government does not want to, cannot and will not act against or behind the backs of the will of the Spanish people." (A definite blast at the previous governnment which faced widespread opposition to backing the U.S. in Iraq and sending troops).
---UPDATE: Greg Piper adds this:

(Zapatero) could do himself a favor with the US and Britain by keeping troops in Iraq until Najaf is relatively stable and free of Sadr's militia. It will likely embolden not just Sadr's followers but other insurgent remnants in Iraq, who might up their attacks on non-US troops in the country. At least the new PM has promised to double Spanish troops in Afghanistan, "where there is a UN mandate.News to Spain: Having a UN mandate doesn't necessarily mean that the situation is any more stable. If they don't realize that, then I'd peg the policy change as just another anti-American gesture.

---So why is this sigificant given that Spain only has 1,300 troops in Iraq?
1. Last month's brutal Madrid bombings by a group reportedly linked to Al Qaeda helped bring the Socialists to power, as angry voters swept away the ruling government which had supported Washington's Iraq policies. That displayed a cause-and-effect impact for terrorists (blow up some people before an election and you alter results).
2. There have been various other threats that unless Spain cut the cord with the U.S. in Iraq immediately more carnage would follow. Spanish security officials even discovered another packet of explosives waiting to go off. So now the new Spanish PM speeds up the timetable to get the troops out of Iraq even sooner than he originally said. Another cause-and-effect-impact for terrorists.
3. Terrorism can be seen (by terrorists) as an effective way to splinter the coalition of countries helping the United States in Iraq, and even against the United Nations if it gets more involved.
---It's highly likely that since terrorism worked twice in influencing -- even reversing -- Spanish policy terrorists will now feel they have an effective political tool to use to impact election results in Europe...and maybe elsewhere.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 10:34 AM


SHOULD COLIN POWELL HAVE QUIT? New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, in a column noting Powell's heavy-source role in Bob Woodward's new book "Plan of Action," now says what some on the left AND on the right have been saying...and may openly start suggesting once the book comes out. (FOOTNOTE: Woodward will be interviewed about his book on 60 Minutes tonight)
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 10:12 AM

Saturday, April 17, 2004  

DOES THIS MEAN CHARLES MANSON CAN EVENTUALLY CHALLENGE INSTAPUNDIT? Trying to do a decent blog can be murder. But Dutch officials are more worried about a blogger who's locked up for murder.
---The prisoner, identified by England's The Register as Martin K, is in jail, doing a blog and making money on it. It's reportedly a fairly routine blog about everyday jail life (attn. Martha Stewart: get a translator and use it as a vital lifestyle orientation tool). Unlike many other blogs, there are no slashing comments...and that's curious, since Martin K. would be just the guy to deliver them.
---You see, Martin K. was sentenced to 14 years in the slammer for slashing his former girlfriend's partner. A few years before that he had a self-esteem-reducing experience before a judge when he was convicted of involvement in a cafe shooting.
---And, nooooooo he doesn't have access to the internet, but has done a blog by sending posts through people who come into jail to visit him (wait a minute: then how do they fit a big post in their pants or dresses so it doesn't stick out and show?).
---What's the big fuss over? Martin K offers "premium content" -- so to access his police dossiers you have to pay: pay to listen to a troubling phone call from a witness to one of his murders; pay to access a picture of his victims. But, the Register says, to ensure crime doesn't pay some other websites have offered his non-copyrighted access material for free. ( Hey: THAT explains why other bloggers borrow from bloggers -- TO PREVENT CRIME from paying).
---This isn't Martin K's first business venture from jail: last year he was caught running an escort service through his prison cell. P.S: DO NOT SHOW THIS POST TO CHARLES MANSON.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 7:12 PM


ISRAEL HITS THE BULLSEYE AGAIN: Israel is taking-no-prisoners and making a monthly affair of it as it takes the battle against terrorism directly to the leadership of the terrorist group Hamas. It almost seems like a news re-run when you read the AP report:

TEL AVIV, Israel -- Abdel Aziz Rantisi, the Hamas leader assassinated in an Israeli air strike Saturday, was one of the highest profile and most extreme voices of the violent Islamic group.

He served as Hamas leader in Gaza for less than a month after Israel killed his predecessor, Hamas founder Sheik Ahmed Yassin, in a similar helicopter missile strike on March 22. Rantisi rejected any accommodation with Israel, following strict Hamas ideology that called for destruction of the Jewish state in the Middle East.

---How much more crystal clear can a country's leadership get?? Hamas has said it's out for blood and is not going to accomodate Israel...which means it's going to seek blood as soon as it can. So Israel got Hamas first. Of course, the consequences of this will be increased conflict in Israel -- no matter what a country does on terrorism there are consequences (if it rolls over, seemingly is influenced by terrorists to give them what they want as in the case of Spain or firmly resists it). But there are no conflicting signals from Tel Aviv. And the no-nonsense response to a barely-in-office-Hamas-leader will likely trigger more outrage and calls for retaliation in the Arab world.
---On that front,the web log The Waterglass writes: "I wonder if they might not save a few missiles for the creatures that will gather in the public square at Rantisi's funeral and chant 'Death to the Jews!' Would it be disrespectful to take them at their word and deal with them accordingly?"
---UPDATE: In an analysis, UPI's international editor Claude Salhani writes:
Rantisi's killing on Saturday will come across in the Arab world looking as though it was carried out with Bush's blessing, having taken place so soon after Sharon's return from Washington and the American president's public and open support of the prime minister's plan... At this point, even if President Bush were to condemn Israel's actions -- something the president is unlikely to do in any case -- it would hold little credibility.

---He concludes:"Bush's blatant support of Sharon's initiative is placing the American president's political aspirations of instilling democracy in the area in great jeopardy, warned a number of Middle East observers. And that was before Rantisi's killing. Now the only place the president's Middle East Road Map is likely to lead to, is just greater chaos."
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 2:28 PM


PROTECT OUR PETS: The Gothamist has this troubling item which underlines exactly why communities need to have a strong ASPCA. Read it and weep and support your ASPCA.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 1:29 PM


ROGER EBERT: HOWARD BELONGS ON RADIO JUST AS MUCH AS RUSH: The noted film critic makes a strong case that BOTH belong on the airwaves if indeed there is free speech and that people can easily exercise their freedom by merely using their finger to change a dial. He admits he is "Limbaugh free" but defends Rush as much as Stern:

But listen carefully. I support Limbaugh's right to be on the radio. I feel it is fully equal to Stern's. I find it strange that so many Americans describe themselves as patriotic when their values are anti-democratic and totalitarian. We are all familiar with Voltaire's great cry: ''I may disagree with what you say, but I shall defend, to the death, your right to say it.'' Ideas like his helped form the emerging American republic. Today, the Federal Communications Commission operates under an alternative slogan: ''Since a minority that is very important to this administration disagrees with what you say, shut up.''

---Indeed, the most troubling thing about what's going on with Stern now is this: the technique of threatening Clear Channel with massive fines made it clear that eventually Stern's other stations, if they're targeted, could have no choice but to pull the plug, too. .
---Then what's going to prevent some future liberal or Democratic administration (and these things go in cycles so eventually there will be one) from using its appointees on a future FCC commission to find a pretext to dump a highly controversial conservative radio talk show on other popular hot-button-issue grounds?
---And, as Ebert points out, there truly is an anti-democratic, totalitarian streak not being checked by checks and balances or even public opinion. So what happens next? It becomes an established procedure and its repeated again in FCC matters and maybe, eventually, in other matters as well. Read the history of democracies that failed or floundered and you'll see how they ran into trouble when encroachments on freedom were not halted by citizens from all parts of the political landscape. Even Republicans and Bush administration sympathizers have been criticizing the FCC for its actions...but so far there are FEW SIGNS that the FCC's policies are being stalled. So look for more of the same.
---FOOTNOTE: I am Rush-free (and Hannity free) for other reasons (I consider them party apparatus bullhorns and utterly predictable) -- BUT I do listen to and enjoy Michael Savage, Phil Hendrie, Michael Reagan -- as well as Al Franken and Randi Rhodes (when I can get them and when their network is not unplugged from its outlets). I love Don Imus but Howard Stern leaves absolutely me cold. I just consider him infantile and crude. But I WANT Stern, Rush and Sean to always have the freedom to be on the airwaves. I wish them well, without me as a listener...
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 9:57 AM


NO MATTER WHAT HE COULDN'T MISS AMERICAN IDOL: A Florida teen charged with hiring an undercover policeman to shoot and kill his mother told the phoney hitman not to damage the family television during the attack. After all, there are always limits.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 9:47 AM


YOU'RE BEING WATCHED: Chances are your computer has lots of spyware. In fact, Earthlink uncovered an average 28 spyware programs on each PC scanned during the first three months of the year, the BBC reports.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 9:44 AM


A U.S. company paid a terrorist group money to protect its interests overseas, according to one of the company's former executives. And just what did that company think money to the terrorists went to fund?
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 9:38 AM


MICHAEL MOORE DECONSTRUCTED: Right Thinking from the Left Coast has a detailed analysis and response to a post on Moore's website that decimates the activist documentary film maker. RT's Lee goes through it virtually line by line and nails considerable inaccuracies, and he accurately pinpoints where Moore has taken rhetoric to a whole new level. I'm personally shocked over Moore's call for other nations not to help the U.S. so that American troops die and bleed over there as a kind of lesson to the US. I've never seen a stance that extreme, essentially openly hoping for the deaths of American teens and young men. It's as if Moore has cloned the very worst, most extreme rhetoric out of the Vietnam era. Read Moore's original piece, then read RT's detailed rebuttal yourself, especially for what he found in terms of accuracy. Moore's comments about Americans dying are light years away from the mainstream of anyone on the political spectrum.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 9:11 AM

Friday, April 16, 2004  

DID THE BUSH CAMPAIGN SPEND TOO MUCH MONEY TOO FAST? MSNBC'S David Shuster thinks so...and says GWB's financial advantage is vanishing fast. That explains the GOP's highly touted annoucement that it's going to reduce its TV ads (at the exact time John Kerry announces that he's going to launch his own TV blitz).
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 11:17 PM


MOMMY, MOMMY THIS IS A COOL COOKIE BOX! If someone in England says, "Do you want a biscuit, mate?" they aren't kidding around.
---Biscuit makers Huntley & Palmers has sold thousands of tins of biscuits (called cookies here in the U.S.) in what looks like an old-fashioned cookie tin.
---But it has an extra bonus to amuse the kiddies: a hidden drawing of two dogs having sex in the grass.
---The company sold thousands of the tins showing a copy of an early 20th century illustration of a picnic. It later learned that a disgruntled employee had hidden sexually explicit drawings in the scene.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 11:05 PM


A BLOGGER'S JOURNEY: What happens when someone doing a political web log concludes that perhaps it adds a bit too much anger in their lives? They re-evaluate. And the brains behind one of the Internet's top web logs is doing just that.
---I had heard from many people in emails over the past few months about Michele Catalano's site and Michele herself, reputed to be one of the hardest working people in the blog world. Her conservative site A Small Victory is linked on our page. And so is the group web log she tirelessly she toils on, the content-crammed The Command Post.
---Now, in a highly personal, supremely honest post, Michele explains why a host of personal and other items -- plus her desire to simply shift to a more soothing tone in her life -- may cause her to completely abandon her 10,000-hits blog...or at the very least drop confrontational political/war topics for more tranquil (and we think unifying) popular culture themes. Read her full post yourself, but here is a bit of what she writes, the first part picking up from where she talks about getting off long-used medicine for anxiety attacks:'

But this place (her blog) has not been good for my mental health. It’s funny that I’m finally approaching the 10,000 hits a day range, and I’m thinking of calling it quits. ...I don’t want to spend my days arguing and angry, especially now that I don’t have the little blue and white pills to er my emotions.

I have to spend some more time concentrating on ways to make more money, concentrating on my writing and how to turn that into a buck or two. I have to stop spending so much time doing this and doing more around the house to help my husband, who need his free time to make more art to pay more bills. It’s a vicious cycle, one we all have been a part of, or will be at some point.

I think if I took a vote (on what to focus on in her blog), there would be plenty of ballots cast for concentrating on gaming, comic books and all things pop culture. But I’m afraid there would be many more cast for continuing with the war/politics talk. Let me tell you straight out: that is not going to happen. Either ASV comes back as a pop culture blog or it doesn’t come back at all. That is a promise to myself that I intend to keep. If I lose some readers, so be it. There are many wonderful, less bile filled blogs that concentrate on those areas and do it with diplomacy and tact instead of wielding a sharpened sword and slicing at will.

---And then, in the ultimate honest comment to readers, she writes: "I’ve made the Hulk joke many times: You won’t like me when I’m angry. Well guess what? I don’t like me when I’m angry."
---But the secret is this: Michele Catalano never had to be angry to be good. She's just good (whether you agree with her or not). And, no matter what form she chooses for A Small Victory, I suspect she'll still be getting some 10,000 hits....Because she's just good.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 10:09 PM


A TRUE HERO: As the so-called "insurgents" (read that former Sadaam buds and Al Qaeda associates) in Iraq quickly move to implement a new strategy -- seize innocent hostages from countries involved in the effort to construct a democratic Iraq to try to intimidate these countries into getting out of town -- a new hero has emerged.
--- He's only slowly getting the recognition for his heroism here in the United States.
---But in Italy he is a national hero.
---And for good reason.
--- Fabrizio Quattrocchi was one of four Italian security guards abducted in Iraq earlier this week. And he was brutally murdered, an event captured by the killers (let's forget the spin-word word "insurgents," OK?) on videotape. But unlike other killings this time the victim refused to act like one -- and in the end hurled final defiance at his captors when they pointed a gun to his head, by declaring: "I'm going to show you how an Italian dies."
--- These are words worthy of any brave American patriot, any heroic British soldier -- universally courageous words. And now he's an Italian hero and international hero.
--- Because terrorists operate on threatening mind-numbing fear that they hope will immobilize and decimate the individual spirit and national spirits. They flopped miserably in their efforts with Quattrocchi (and there is some speculation that this is precisely why this tape was not shown on Arab TV ).
--- Because in the end all they got from him was pure defiance. Yes, the bullets could halt the words and silence the mind that produced them, but not reverberations from the words, not the echoes, which could be heard through Italy and will echo through the ages as much as "Give me liberty or give me death" still echoes in the United States. In Italy, an outraged nation has already made him a national hero -- and indicated it has no intention of again being intimidated by fascists, even those masking their underlying ideology in religion or Arab nationalism.
--- Writes Peoria Pundit:"Some nations cower in the corner and beg lesser nations to stop hurting some them. Not all of them."
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 8:25 PM


ANOTHER HUGE POLITICAL VICTORY FOR ARNOLD: California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has scored a MONSTER political victory: the state Legislature has approved by a whopping margin an overhaul of California's workers' compensation program, the most expensive (and industry unfriendly) in the nation.
---With the 911 hearings, national presidential elections, and turmoil in Iraq, Schwarzenegger's systematic political victories are not getting the national press they would otherwise get. But make no mistake about it: if this keeps up he is destined to be a major national player in coming years.
---He's going through his campaign promises one by one and largely accomplishing them...and he's doing it by winning over political foes with not only his personality and celebrity but skillful politicking. Meanwhile, he continues to have extremely high credibility ratings in the polls (the last poll we saw had him higher than Senator Diane Feinstein, the state's most popular politico).
---Why is he succeeding? He has charted a middle-conservative course. In a sense, he's a throwback to the nearly extinct Liberal/Moderate Republicans of the 60s, or the equally almost exinct Conservative Democrats of that era. And it plays well in Pomona. As national politics has become more polarized, centrists are harder to find. But these days you can find one in Sacramento, puffing on a cigar with a political foe, talking shop and often making a major political deal....
---UPDATE: Oxblog's Josh Chafetz writes:" Once again, Schwarzenegger got overwhelming support from the Democratic-controlled legislature by threatening to go straight to the voters, with an initiative on the November ballot. Whatever you think of the substance of his programs, Schwarzenegger has shown himself to be a very smart and effective politician."
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 4:11 PM


THE NEXT THING YOU KNOW THEY'LL CLAIM THERE'S A LINK BETWEEN CANCER AND NITRITES: New research shows that beer increases your risk of developing gout. This was an old wive's tale for years. The old wives have been proven right...
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 3:56 PM


AIDS SCARE PENETRATES PORN INDUSTRY: One of California's less illustrious but money-generating businesses, the adult-film porn industry, is poised to shut down so that dozens of actors who came into contact with some AIDS-infected actors can be tested for HIV. So far the shut down is voluntary...but barely: some reports said much of the San Fernando Valley's production stopped Thursday when nearly four dozen actors and actresses were banned from from working after two tested positive for the AIDS virus. In terms of grave health issues ("actors" don't use protection and they are faced with a deadly contagious disease) and profits (will film production be outsourced to India?) for now, at least, the adult film industry is screwed.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 3:05 PM


ONE SMALL STEP FOR AL QAEDA; ONE STEP BACKWARDS FOR CIVILIZATION: Portugal's Interior Minister Antonio Figueiredo Lopes has announced that if the country's security situation worsens, Portugal might withdraw it's troops from Iraq. So, obviously, what will Al Qaeda do? Worsen the situation (duh). Deepening cracks in the alliance if you add that to Spain's reversal in the face of last month's terrorist bombings and the election of a Socialist government.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 2:27 PM


MORE CONTROVERSY OVER THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION THIS WAY COMES: Fasten your political seat belt. Legendary journalist Bob Woodward's new book "Plan of Attack" is about to be released and the big kick off will be an interview on 60 Minutes....and more political furor.
---The reason: Woodward's book and interviews will address the administration's secret preparations for the Iraq war, including secret plans to finance it.
---The advance press info on the interview says Woodward tells of President George Bush collaring Secretary of Defense Donald Rumseld and asking:"'What have you got in terms of plans for Iraq?' What is the status of the war plan? I want you to get on it. I want you to keep it secret." And then, he says:

The end of July 2002, they need $700 million, a large amount of money for all these tasks. And the president approves it. But Congress doesn't know and it is done. They get the money from a supplemental appropriation for the Afghan War, which Congress has approved. ...Some people are gonna look at a document called the Constitution which says that no money will be drawn from the treasury unless appropriated by Congress. Congress was totally in the dark on this."

---This is likely to start off a new round of political controversy. Coming on the heels of the 911 Commission hearings, it will further fuel the process of political polarization in this country.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 1:21 PM


THE CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR SAYS BLOGS ARE HERE TO STAY: My alma mater, the always-perceptive Christian Science Monitor, puts blogs under the microscope. Staff Writer Gregory Lamb estimates there are some 2 million blogs and a look at them leads to conclusions that are "sobering."

Except for a tiny number of blogs that have gained prominence, all this techno-chattiness remains just that: an immature form of communication that has yet to gain traction with the general public, experts say. Most are moldering in cyberspace, updated only sporadically or abandoned completely. But out of this fervid experimentation are coming some new forms of communication that are already influencing public discourse.
---In addition, the Monitor offers these points:
--Weblogs will play a role in politics but the role attributed to them such as in Howard Dean's campaign is "overblown."
--Bloggers are unlikely to replace "real" reporters but blogs will be places where news hungry news consumers can go. And bloggers will be more like commentarors or news aggregrators.
--The hyperlinks to news articles and magazines are very useful.
--The original stereotype of a blogger was a teenage girl writing her diary online. Now technorati.com says it is tracking 2.1 million blogs.
--Some blogs have attracted the attention of mainstream media and gotten coverage, and although "blogs represent only a tiny portion of the content on the Internet, they've grown large enough to carve out their own niche, the so-called blogo-sphere."
--A survey found that "most bloggers don't update their blogs very often - once a week or less. Only about 10 percent make a new entry at least daily" and another one found "two-thirds of them had not been updated within the previous two months, meaning they had been either temporarily or permanently abandoned."
--By 2004 there will likely be more than 10 million blogs. And bloggers' influence will likely grow.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 11:03 AM


THE CIA WARNED ABOUT ATTACKS IN NY AND WASHINGTON SIX YEARS BEFORE SEPT 11 according to a new Associated Press report, citing "intelligence officials." These officials told the AP that " the CIA warned in a classified report that Islamic extremists likely would strike on U.S. soil at landmarks in Washington or New York, or through the airline industry." The officials took the "rare step" of revealing this and other info, the report says, to counter intelligence criticism by the 911 Commission. Some key points:
--The CIA's 1995 National Intelligence Estimate did not yet name Osama bin Laden as a terrorist threat but not too soon ager the agency "developed enough concern about the wealthy, Saudi-born militant to create a specific unit to track him and his followers.."
--By the CIA had updated its intelligence estimate to ensure bin Laden appeared on its very first page as an emerging threat, warning that his movement could execute an attack on U.S. soil.
---All this provides yet more evidence that 911 was not big unpexpected sucker punch that it seemed to many at first glance, but a slowly telegraphed left hook.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 8:33 AM


OFF-THE-AIR-AMERICA ORDERED BACK ON IN CHICAGO: The Moderate Voice was gone for a few days without a computer when the big story on Air America broke: it being yanked off the air in Chicago and Los Angeles due to a dispute with the owner of those affiliates, Multicultural Radio Broadcasting, over what its chairman said was a bounced check (just a little check for $1 million). The talk radio chain's bigwigs denied that was the case.
---But now a New York State Supreme Court justice has ordered Air America be plopped back the air in Chicago. It's still off the air on the L.A. station, but reportedly is also being aired in LA on another station. The reason: the network debuted March 31 with five stations and now reportedly has about a dozen.
---What does this mean? Fits and starts. It doesn't portend the end of liberal talk radio at all but it shows how unstable the new venture seemingly is. The BIG question is going to emerge later in how it does on the r-a-t-i-n-g-s. That's the bottom line. All the press and hype is nice, but the jury is still out whether there's an audience for it and its critics and supporters are all speculating until this data appears.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 8:21 AM

Thursday, April 15, 2004  

'FAT BALLERINA LOSES $1 MILLION DAMAGES CASE: A top Russian ballerina who was fired for being too fat lost a damages claim for $1 million against the chief of Moscow's most famous ballet theater. That's a lot of Bolshoi.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 11:19 PM

Tuesday, April 13, 2004  

ON PRESIDENT BUSH'S PRESS CONFERENCE: The Moderate Voice will be on the road and will miss GWB's press conference tonight but here are some thoughts (and then you can compare them with how it turns out):
(1)George Bush is a lot better at press conferences than some people think. He has only held one or two that didn't help his position.
(2)He has held a shockingly low number of them.
(3)It's puzzling why his handlers haven't scheduled more because when he makes his case and does it with conviction he is convincing and has the ability to win over swing voters. "Swing voters" just doesn't mean winning votes in elections. It means galvanizing the center of American politics (as small as it may be these days) to garner support, which can then be cemented onto his base support, to create a pocket of consensus on a policy. The policy is then implemented with a good chunk of support. We see GWB outlining his position in speeches, etc. but not in some of the forums (press conferences and televised addresses) where it could do him some good.
(4)Press spokesmen or campaign honchos like Karen Hughes aren't going to win this campaign or win Bush support on issues such as the war, no matter how much sense they make or how much of it is transparent spin. He is going to have to win his support.
(5)Past presidents have gone to the American public on television to pitch their policies much more than Bush.
(6)He hasn't made full use of some of these key tools for modern presidents -- press conferences and television addresses -- so he hasn't really done all that he could do to shore up his own support.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 8:51 AM


JOE GANDELMAN & FRIENDS ON THE ROAD: traveling today to Canyonville, Oregon to do programs at schools in Canyonville and Riddle. THE MODERATE VOICE'S postings will be limited during this period, to (mercifully) shorter posts than usual. Regular posts will resume either Thursday night or early Friday. CHECK BACK HERE OFTEN.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 8:34 AM


WORLD OPINION ON IRAQ: The BBC has this fascinating survey.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 6:49 AM


SUPER TRUMP!!!!!!!!!!!! Mr. Money Donald "You're fired" Trump's "battlecry now seems to be 'synergy, synergy, synergy' as he rides a monster wave of publicity fueled by the TV show" The Apprentice, reports Reuters. Trump is all over the media "even as some of his business interests are in a free fall."
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 6:41 AM


John Kerry's "misery index" is a great political tool -- and Brian Wise argues that it's "a magificent example of moderate politicking" and that's about it.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 6:36 AM


IS THE 911 COMMISSION ANOTHER WARREN COMMISSION? FAT CHANCE says University of Virginia political scientist Larry Sabato who, in his latest edition of his acclaimed Crystal Ball (we will offer a full report on it later this week), writes:
---"Notice that almost all the news networks have now decided, correctly, to identify Commission members by their party affiliation. The label certainly predicts what most of them are going to say.
--- "The American people naively hoped to see a nonpartisan Warren Commission on the 9/11 tragedy, but instead they have gotten a Bush-version of the Clinton Impeachment hearings...
---"Does anyone remember that the true guilty party for 9/11 was Osama bin Laden and his band of sick mass-murderers?"
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 6:10 AM

Monday, April 12, 2004  

BUT HOW MANY SPAMMERS WOULD THAT ROCKET HOLD? Dean Esmay reports:"There's a company offering to crash the cargo of your choice into the moon."
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 9:15 PM


JOHN ASHCROFT SOON-TO-BE-UNDERFIRE: The New York Times reports that the 911 commission is going to portray Attorney General John Ashcroft as "largely uninterested in counterterrorism issues" before the you-know-what-hit-the-fan on September 11, 2001...even amid various intelligence warnings "that Al Qaeda was planning a large, perhaps catastrophic, terrorist attack..." Well, it's all water under the bridge: now that he's eliminated the terrorist threat he can concentrate on diverting computers, staff and millions of dollars on his new Porn War.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 8:42 PM


NEW GALLUP POLL SHOWS WAR SUPPORT DROPPING: A new Gallup Poll shows war support dropping to the extent that 3 in 10 would be willing to withdraw all troops from Iraq. It also shows President George Bush and John Kerry essentially tied. The downward slide of war support is likely be watched closely by politicos...and terrorists...and anti-U.S. forces in Iraq.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 8:36 PM


IT AIN'T OVER TILL IT'S OVER (AND IT AIN'T OVER): If you think techical companies' layoffs are over, think again: the dot.com bust is lasting a lot longer than the controversy over Janet Jackson's revealed one...
---USA TODAY reports: "Four years after the dot-com bust, some tech companies are still slashing staff and restructuring operations."
---Among other things, it notes that:
--Just last week business computer maker Sun Microsystems announced deails of a major overhaul. That entails 3,300 layoffs and a partnership with former rival Mircosoft.
--Gateway computers is going to close all stores and lay off 2,500 workers.
---It lists some other ones as well, and the paper notes that these "ongoing restructurings show how far the tech industry has fallen since 2000, and how slowly it's recovering. Nearly every tech company ordered cuts after the bust of 2000, but many underestimated the length of the downturn, says CIO magazine publisher Gary Beach."
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 8:25 PM


EDITORIAL LINE OF THE WEEK: From Arkansas' Paragould Daily Press, in a vehemently anti-Bush editorial...a line referring to President Bill Clinton's impeachment and President George Bush's problems with the 911 Commission and in Iraq... a line that definitely shows journalistic (ahem) flair:
"What's worse -- misplacing a cigar or allowing 3,000 people to die?"
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 8:43 AM


HOWARD DEAN SAYS "FOR NADER, BUT NOT FOR PRESIDENT": In an op-ed piece in the New York Times (you have to sign up to read it), Dean basically tells his supporters (and others) to use their vote to defeat President George Bush. Some parts of it:

Everyone expects this year's presidential election to be decided by razor-thin margins in a few battleground states. Everyone also expects the candidacy of Ralph Nader to make the race between John Kerry and George Bush even closer. As I know from experience, however, voters have a way of proving everyone wrong.

Many Democrats also admire Ralph Nader's achievements, as I do. But if they truly want George Bush out of the White House, they won't vote for Ralph Nader in November....But I don't believe that the best way to do justice to Ralph Nader's legacy is to vote for him for president. Re-electing George Bush would undo everything Ralph Nader has worked for through his entire career and, in fact, could lead to the dismantling of many of his accomplishments....Voting for Ralph Nader.....means a vote for a candidate who has no realistic shot of winning the White House. To underscore the danger of voting for any third-party candidate in elections this close, a statistic from the 2000 campaign may prove useful: a total of eight third-party candidates won more votes than the difference between Al Gore and George Bush nationwide.

---Dean notes the consequences of Democratic disunity in 2000 and saying it's important that Democrats "don't repeat our last mistake." Will it work? Nader voters are an independent bunch. Most likely it'll shave some votes off the Nader margin. And, in any event, Nader probably wouldn't do as well as in 2000 and would probably end up as Ross Perot did in his second run, a deflated formerly surging third party candidate. He also could be hurt by reports that Republicans are donating to his campaign -- a fact that Democrats are sure publicize and continue to track.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 7:49 AM


SPAIN HAS ARRESTED THREE MORE PEOPLE for being involved in the March 11 bombings that killed 19 people. The Reuters report notes that the new arrests are also Moroccans. So far 22 people have been arrested in connection with the bombings believed done by a Moroccan terrorist group with links to Al Qaeda.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 5:57 AM

Sunday, April 11, 2004  

CURRYING FAVOR ON THE OUTSOURCING CONTROVERSY: India is now outsourcing jobs to the United States. Who would have thought that this would happen just 10 (or less) years ago, but there you have it....
--- The AP story in India's The Hindu newspaper says:"Infosys Technologies, which has risen to become (India's) second-largest software maker thanks largely to outsourced work from the West, plans to reverse that trend by investing US$20 million to create nearly 500 consulting jobs in the United States. The company has set up a subsidiary in Fremont, California to provide business consulting to American corporations. The new company, Infosys Consulting, has begun ``aggressive hiring in America,'' Infosys chief executive officer Nandan Nilekani told reporters Thursday."
---And here is the FUN part of the story:

The company's American employees would advise U.S. corporations on improving their efficiency by embracing outsourcing and moving work to Infosys' offices in India. Hiring Americans would help understand the needs of the clients and industry trends better, Nilekani added.

---In other words, U.S. corporations, encouraged by the government (which argues outsourcing is great for the economy), outsource jobs to India. Then India outsources jobs to the U.S. to help corporations outsource jobs to the U.S. If this keeps up, U.S. corporations will have to outsource jobs to India to help them outsource jobs to the United States.
---FOOTNOTE: We discovered this article via the web log A Little More To The Right. ALMTR adds: "In other news, 7-11 outsourcing clerk positions to India..."
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 11:53 PM


THE 911 CONTROVERSIES: THE VIEW FROM THE INTERNET: As expected, the August 6, 2001 Presidential Daily Briefing memo released by the White House and the 911 hearings themselves have generated strong -- and varied -- opinions in the Blog World. Such as:

--Glenn Reynolds aka Instapundit who notes that many blogs (including this one) predicted Condoleezza Rice would score well with viewers, and polls show that she did. He points to and excerpts some web logs that felt the PDB release made Democratic 911 commissioner Richard Ben Veniste look bad because the memo didn't prove that much.

--Atrios felt the memo was revealing: "After getting information about possible hijackings in the US, what additional measures did the Bushies implement or at least propose implementing? Stop the war talk, let's just talk basic domestic security."

--Jeff Jarvis:"Condi Rice was right. It is a document giving background and history and no clear call to action, nothing that could have prevented September 11th....I'm no Bushie but I'm sick of the attempt to find an enemy within when the enemy is clearly without."

--But Kevin Drum insists the memo is not a wash:"Even giving them every benefit of the doubt, don't you think they could have connected these dots beforehand? They were afraid of an al-Qaeda air attack in Genoa and an al-Qaeda airplane hijacking in America. Doesn't it make sense to put the two together and wonder if Osama might also be contemplating air attacks in America?"

--Meanwhile, Poliblogger Steven Taylor says people need to put aside partisan differences and be realistic because "prior to 911 the idea of hijacking did not conjure flying plane loads of passengers into buildings, it conjured someone wanted to go somewhere, or maybe wanting to steal the plane.
---"There is no way a reasonable, fair-minded person could expect the President (any President) to have read that PDB prior to 911, even with other pieces of information, and starting asking "Hey! You think they might want to fly some planes into the WTC and Pentagon?"...And if we are going to try and assign blame, let's be equal opportunity: it isn't like some of this information doesn't date back to the prior administration."

--To Seth Farber, The Talking Dog, the memo "is devastating. All the spin in the world will not save Bush from this, for one simple reason. It was BUSH whose answer to any question...was "9-11, 9-11, 9-11", i.e., as bad a manager as I am at EVERYTHING-- at least your life is in less danger than with some... DEMOCRAT in charge. That's now over. If Bush mentions 9-11, he will then have to immediately answer for why his government did nothing discernible, despite knowing the who, what, where, why and how (and for all we know, the redacted portions said when and which flight numbers) of 9-11 over 5 weeks before it."

--But Dean's World's Dean Esmay sees the memo as clearcut, in another way:"It contains nothing particularly significant (not that any sane person expected it to)."

--And The Left Coaster thinks people missed a sly, quiet White House position shift:"Now that the White House has released the August 6, 2001 PDB, either in its redacted or complete form, the defense and spin has begun. The White House says that yes, Condi was wrong last week. The PDB did in fact contain more than a historical analysis after all...But, the White House says, the PDB didn’t say anything about hijacking planes and crashing them into buildings into New York or Washington, so therefore we are off the hook.'

--Donald Sensing writes:"Not much there, is there? It is baffling that Ben-Veniste made such a big issue out of the memo two days ago. He had already seen the memo and knew it had nothing about the 9/11 attacks. I can only surmise that he was sure the White House would never release it."

--BlogLeft's Douglas Kellner believes the memo had a LOT there and that "who can doubt but that Bush was asleep at the wheel and Condi wasn't doing anything to wake him up....This should burn Bush and fry Rice."

--James Joyner says the fuss is why he opposed creation of the 911 Commission in the first place:"These things invariably become finger-pointing, ass covering exercises despite the theoretical objective of discovering what went wrong so as to fix the process. They’re never very helpful, which is doubly true during a presidential election year. And they’re downright unhelpful when there’s a war on."

--Oliver Willis also thinks the memo was revealing:"So, they knew hijackings were possible - yet seemingly issued no major alert to the airlines or the public. Whereas with the millenium threat, we all knew that something was up. Let's see how this plays out."

--And Pejman Yousefzadeh points to a critique of how commissions can get mired in the past, adding:"I hope that the people on the Commission take heed of this kind of critique--which I have seen repeated elsewhere. It seems to me that the best contribution that the Commission can make is to show how we can do better in the future."

--Meanwhile DemWatch's Scott Shields contends the administration's broader problem is its claims that combatting Al Qaeda was the administration's first national security policy "major directive". He says the record shows that's untrue-- that they were working to dismantle interagency 'working groups' set up under President Clinton -- and one of them was Richard Clarke's Counterterrorism Strategy Group. In his detailed analysis (see link to read whole post) he says the key word is "major."
---"All of this, I believe, adds up to one the biggest lies the Bush administration has pushed on the American people. Bush's national security team, despite their best efforts to claim otherwise, clearly had their eyes off the ball in 2001. They were warned by the Clinton administration that al Qaeda was a threat and they chose to focus their attention elsewhere. That was a policy judgment and, in retrospect, a very bad one.But now they're lying about it. This is exactly the type of thing that brought down Nixon and almost brought down Clinton."

---So, clearly, opinions and certainties differ...and it's clear this controversy has "legs" capable of running way beyond the November presidential election.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 10:10 PM


TAXING INFORMATION: A Syracuse University study of government data indicates last year the IRS audited fewer corporations, small businesses and partnerships but more individual taxpayers.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 5:07 PM


DEATH2SPAM: Richard Jowsey hates spammers and he has a new product that is supposed to have a 95 percent accuracy rate in getting rid of them (the spam that is, not the spammers; we'll leave that to Tony Soprano who owes us a favor because we gave a nice review to his cookbook last year on Amazon.com). You can read about what he offers here and you can even try his product for free by going here. The Moderate Voice hasn't used it yet because if he doesn't get spam how will he know when he needs an "enlargement?" (Don't answer that)
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 4:52 PM


"HEY, MOMMY LOOK WHAT I FOUND! THIS IS MORE FUN THAN THOSE ROTTEN OLD EASTER EGGS! I CAN DO MORE WITH THIS! Now, about that allowance increase...": A group of kids hunting for Easter eggs Saturday during a church event in Michigan found two loaded handguns outside an elementary school.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 4:44 PM


VIVA LAS VEGAS: A British man sold everything he had (including his clothes), went to Vegas and bet it on one spin of the routlette wheel....and won. So what? Lady Godiva put everything she had on a horse. (Thanks to WC Fields for that rotten joke...)
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 3:39 PM


The press apparently didn't agree with the White House interpretation of the August 6, 2001 Presidential Daily Briefing. Editor & Publisher has a piece detailing how it was played in various newspapers. "Nearly every major outlet chose to focus on the aspects of the brief that were not merely "historical," as the administraton had portrayed the document before its release, " E&P says. On this "historical" issue, Slate has a short article which merely takes part of National Security advisor Condoleezza Rice's testimony, then runs right under it part of the released PDB. Perhaps she misspoke...
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 3:22 PM


PRESIDENT GEORGE BUSH'S VIEW OF THE MEMO: He just told reporters that the document contained "nothing about an attack on America." If there had been any specific intelligence about an attack on Washington or New York, he said, "I would have moved mountains" to prevent it. He also noted: ""I wanted to know whether there was anything, any actionable intelligence," and when he read the memo of Aug. 6, 2001, "I was satisfied that some of the matters were being looked into." They were looking into historical matters?
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 9:48 AM


One political question: now that the administration's handling of 911 has become a big controversy, will the GOP's decision to hold its national convention in New York prove to be a masterstroke or a mistake?
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 9:27 AM


THE MODERATE VOICE'S ONE LINE REACTION TO THE AUGUST 6, 2001 PRESIDENTIAL DAILY BRIEFING: It suggests 911 was NOT a sucker punch -- but a slowly- telegraphed left hook.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 8:30 AM


THE 911 PRESIDENTIAL DAILY BRIEFING MEMO: Josh Marshall says there some smoke but not much fire. Marshall, whose TalkingPointsMemo was one of the first (and is now one of the biggest) web logs on the Internet, is a major critic of the Bush adminstration so his perspective is particularly interesting. And he doesn't see much to get excited about in this August 2001 White House memo.
---A few of his key points:

I think it's fair to say there's nothing thermonuclear, shall we say, in the August 6th Presidential Daily Brief released this afternoon by the White House. But Condi Rice's claim that the information contained in it was primarily of an historical nature seems at least to leave out some key points.

There's certainly far, far less here than you'd need to do anything specific to counter what was coming. But you can't say there aren't some hints: preparations for hijackings, casing of federal buildings in New York (presumably New York City), a three month old tip saying bin Laden operatives were in the US planning some sort of bombing attacks.

---Marshall believes "the real scandal is not so much what the administration missed pre-9/11 but that they kept to a clearly outmoded vision of national security as solely a matter of conflicts between states even after 9/11 had shown that viewpoint to be seriously inadequate."
---Still, he writes, "the one issue doesn't invalidate the other.The next question is what the White House, or the CIA or the FBI or whomever, did to follow up on these very fragmentary leads."
---In other words: the memo has not laid a question to rest -- it has led to more questions and probably means we won't be seeing as many commercials from the Bush campaign this year with 911 imagery as originally planned.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 8:22 AM

Saturday, April 10, 2004  

The U.S. military has now pulled back from an earlier predcition that Osama bin Laden would be captured this year, according to an AP report from Kabul.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 11:48 PM


TWO REACTIONS TO THE AUGUST 6, 2001 PRESIDENTIAL DAILY BRIEFING MEMO: Rather than do a long pontification on the important 8/6/01 Presidential Daily Briefing memo posted in full below, we're offering snippets of just two views here. (We will offer links of blog reactions tomorrow).
---MY VIEW: I don't belong to either party and have no vested interest in electing one candidate or another. I also was -- and am -- a strong supporter of the war against terrorism, going into Afghanistan, and going to war against Iraq (to get Weapons of Mass Destruction). On internal security issues to track down terrorists, I often favor draconian approaches to track, capture and punish terrorists. So take what I say in THAT context:
---If you read most of the memo it could be argued that it fits most of National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice's contention that it is a historical document, recapping the Osma bin Laden threat -- except for the second to last paragraph.
---The second to last paragraph undermines her testimony and the administration's position. It says:

Nevertheless, FBI information since that time indicates patterns of suspicious activity in this country consistent with preparations for hijackings or other types of attacks, including recent surveillance of federal buildings in New York.

---That isn't a historical statement at all.
---It doesn't have a specific time.
---But it has a place.
---It doesn't have specific date -- but it says "recent' which gives it a time-frame, August 2001.That isn't historical. That's an alarm bell.
---UPDATE: The White House issued a statement dismissing the building surveillance, saying it did not check out but was tourism-related -- but it did acknowledge it was current at the time of the briefing. Which indicates the memo on the date the White House got it was more than a historical document. The White House also noted another item in the original memo which did not materialize.
---ANOTHER ANALYST'S VIEW comes from CNN Political Analyst William Schneider. You can read his full Q&A with CNN's Carol Linn here but Schneider's key points:
LIN: Bill, you heard the body of the top secret memo that was just released by the White House. How damaging could this be?

SCHNEIDER: I think it could be seriously damaging. What this says is, the White House knew what bin Laden was capable of planning, where he intended to do it, which was New York or Washington, D.C., how he was going to do it. There was only one thing missing, which was exactly when he was going to do it, which turns out to be September 11. Critics and members of the commission will say, the White House should have been far more aggressive to prevent, what sounds from this memo, like an imminent strike, obviously years in the planning, but a real danger to the United States, particularly in New York and Washington. And they will, I think, make it a cause for very severe criticism.

He further says, in his answers to Linn's questions that:
1. The memo sounds just like former White House terrorism Czar Richard Clarke's warnings.
2. The memo is actually a broad outline of what was going to happen and "the only thing missing is that it would happen on September 11."
3. The White House will "can argue and probably will argue and probably has evidence to argue that this information was uncorroborated. I think [it] can come forth with other material from briefings indicating that [it] received lots of warnings of this type and therefore it was not clear that this particular warning should be taken more seriously than others.
4. But bin Laden "had already carried out attacks, not on the American homeland... and he clearly was associated here, associated his organization with the attempts on Los Angeles International Airport at the millennium. So I think there are pretty clear indications that this wasn't hypothetical. This man had acted and had tried to act on the United States homeland."
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 10:49 PM


FULL TEXT OF THE AUGUST 6, 2001 PRESIDENTIAL DAILY BRIEFING: Here it is. Various news organizations have released the full text. This is from the AP. Read it and JUDGE FOR YOURSELF regardless of what ANYONE tells you (including posts on this blog). Does it seem to you to be a historical document? Does it seem specific enough to require immediate measures? Was the info too vague? Forget about what your friends, pundits, favorite liberal or conservative commentators say. What do YOU think? Portions marked "x" were blacked out by the government before release (to protect info sources -- standard practice on sensative declassified documents). HERE IS THE FULL TEXT OF THE 8/6 MEMO:

Clandestine, foreign government, and media reports indicate Bin Ladin since 1997 has wanted to conduct terrorist attacks in the U.S. Bin Ladin implied in US television interviews in 1997 and 1998 that his followers would follow the example of World Trade Center bomber Ramzi Yousef and "bring the fighting to America."

After US missile strikes on his base in Afghanistan in 1998, Bin Ladin told followers he wanted to retaliate in Washington, according to xxxxxxxxxxx service.
An Egyptian Islamic Jihad (EIJ) operative told an xxxxxxxxxx service at the same time that Bin Ladin was planning to exploit the operative's access to the US to mount a terrorist strike.

The millennium plotting in Canada in 1999 may have been part of Bin Ladin's first serious attempt to implement a terrorist strike in the US. Convicted plotter Ahmed Ressam has told the FBI that he conceived the idea to attack Los Angeles International Airport himself, but that Bin Ladin lieutenant Abu Zubaydah encouraged him and helped facilitate the operation. Ressam also said that in 1998 Abu Zubaydah was planning his own US attack.

Ressam says Bin Ladin was aware of the Los Angeles operation.

Although Bin Ladin has not succeeded, his attacks against the US Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998 demonstrate that he prepares operations years in advance and is not deterred by setbacks. Bin Ladin associates surveilled our Embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam as early as 1993, and some members of the Nairobi cell planning the bombings were arrested and deported in 1997.

Al-Qa'ida members - including some who are US citizens - have resided in or traveled to the US for years, and the group apparently maintains a support structure that could aid attacks. Two al-Qa'ida members found guilty in the conspiracy to bomb our Embassies in East Africa were US citizens, and a senior EIJ member lived in California in the mid-1990s.

A clandestine source said in 1998 that a Bin Ladin cell in New York was recruiting Muslim-American youth for attacks.

We have not been able to corroborate some of the more sensational threat reporting, such as that from a xxxxxxxxxx service in 1998 saying that Bin Ladin wanted to hijack a US aircraft to gain the release of "Blind Shaykh" 'Umar 'Abd al-Rahman and other US-held extremists.

Nevertheless, FBI information since that time indicates patterns of suspicious activity in this country consistent with preparations for hijackings or other types of attacks, including recent surveillance of federal buildings in New York.

The FBI is conducting approximately 70 full field investigations throughout the US that it considers Bin Ladin-related. CIA and the FBI are investigating a call to our Embassy in UAE in May saying that a group of Bin Ladin supporters was in the US planning attacks with explosives.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 9:01 PM


PRESIDENTIAL BRIEFING REPORTEDLY MORE THAN A "HISTORICAL DOCUMENT: Maybe it's not the definitive "Smoking Gun," but the August 6th Presidential Daily Briefing given to President George Bush in Crawford Texas one month before the September 11 attacks is reportedly not the strict "historical document" as described by Condoleezza Rice.
---The key reason: if it didn't have specifics details about what took place on 911 as of August 6, it reportedly DID have a specific description close to what happened using info from three months earlier than August 6th.
---Key reports rapidly being picked up by the news media here and abroad are these:
---(1)CNN (just out as of this writing) which reports: " The daily intelligence briefing delivered to U.S. President George W. Bush a month before the September 11 attacks warns of various scenarios of al Qaeda's intentions to strike inside the United States, sources confirm to CNN."
---(2)The AP: "President Bush's August 2001 briefing on terrorism threats, described largely as a historical document, included information from three months earlier that al-Qaida was trying to send operatives into the United States for an explosives attack, according to several people who have seen the memo."
---(3)The New York Times takes it further and seemingly hints at the "P-issue" with Rice's sworn testimony. It says the President was told in the briefing that "supporters of Osama bin Laden planned an attack within the United States with explosives and wanted to hijack airplanes, a government official said Friday." Then it adds:

The warning came in a secret briefing that Mr. Bush received at his ranch in Crawford, Tex., on Aug. 6, 2001. A report by a joint Congressional committee last year alluded to a "closely held intelligence report" that month about the threat of an attack by Al Qaeda, and the official confirmed an account by The Associated Press on Friday saying that the report was in fact part of the president's briefing in Crawford.

The disclosure appears to contradict the White House's repeated assertions that the briefing the president received about the Qaeda threat was "historical"in nature and that the White House had little reason to suspect a Qaeda attack within American borders.

---The administration had promised to release the PDB within days but now says there's a delay and it make take some more weeks. If the delay continues, the debate will grow until politicians, the press and the public can read the actual words and the matter can be put to rest. No matter what, the debate is likely to continue since the memo is apparently also not the "smoking gun" the administration suggested it was to halt speculation that signals of the upcoming carnage were not countered by immediate measures to beef up security.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 9:22 AM


JEFF JARVIS has more on the Howard Stern firing controversy and the issues it raises with some links showing defense from unlikely sources. Jarvis' site is THE place to follow this issue.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 8:39 AM


A NEW WAY TO WASTE YOUR TIME (besides reading this blog): Visit the Burger King Subservient Chicken and write in a command -- and she'll try to follow it. She did well enought with "sit," "jump," and "dance." Made an effort when I demanded she "look like George Bush" and didn't do well when I asked her to "look like John Kerry." She seemed to make some kind of convoluted effort when I ordered "look like Janet Jackson" (she did not reveal a chicken breast). A delightful new way to exercise your fowl desire to command privately, so you don't look like a dumb cluck. (HONESTLY: Do Andrew Sullivan or Josh Marshall give you great stuff like THIS?)
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 1:27 AM


THIS JUST IN!!!!!!!!!!!! A man who was found taking a shower in a woman's Midtown Atlanta apartment has been convicted of burglary. As soon as police saw him he confessed: He wanted to come clean.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 12:55 AM

Friday, April 09, 2004  

"JEW WATCH": Hey, that's what someone called the watch I wear... Couldn't resist that line.
---But before anyone screams, The Moderate Voice has not been able to post much today due to his schedule. You might even say he is an authentic "wandering Jew." Because he is one (so Al Qaeda does not book me for shows at their social events, such as mutilation parties). And some might say it's scandalous that on Passover week he is late in doing a post about this truly shocking item. You can read about most of it here but in a nutshell:
---Google is enmeshed in a controversy over the fact that if you type in the word "Jew" on Google the number one place it'll take you to is to the anti semetic website Jew Watch. This little quirk was discovered by Steven Weistock, a New York real estate investor and former Yeshiva student, who did Google and discovered the quaint site with pieces such alleged Jewish conspiracies and other anti-Semitic topics such "Jewish Mind Control Mechanisms" (Isn't that another phrase for "Jewish Mother?" SORRY!)
---To make a long story short, Weinstock has a website and launched an online petition, asking Google to remove the site from its index. He said if Google receives 50,000 requests to remove the site, it will comply. More than 2,800 signatures have been collected so far. Oh. The German version of Google doesn't list Jew Watch. If you're REALLY interested about Jewish things and/or a Jewish perspective go to this site: Jew School (hey: that's what kids in another neighborhood called the public school I attended.SORRY!)
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 9:41 PM


NEWS YOU CAN USE: Good news! Scientists have discovered that a diet of worms can cure bowel disease. An article (also of interest to your Aunt Fanny) in New Scientist says, in part:

Regular doses of worms really do rid people of inflammatory bowel disease. The first trials of the treatment have been a success, and a drinkable concoction containing thousands of pig whipworm eggs could soon be launched in Europe. At the moment the concoction cannot be stored for long, so doctors or hospitals would have to prepare fresh batches of the eggs for their patients. But a new German company called BioCure, whose sister company BioMonde sells leeches and maggots for treating wounds, hopes it will soon solve the storage problem.

It plans to launch a product called TSO, short for Trichuris suis ova. Chief executive Detlev Goj says the company will apply for approval by the European Agency for the Evaluation of Medicinal Products as soon as the product is ready.

---Look for the company to make piles of money with this product that has a good end result.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 8:51 PM


PRESIDENT GEORGE BUSH AND JOHN KERRY are tied in the latest Associated Press-Ipsos-Public Affairs poll...and Ralph Nader again plays a role. The poll gives Bush 45 percent, Kerry 44 and Nader 6 percent.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 8:48 AM


NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR CONDOLEEZZA RICE ROCKED in her televised testimony before the 911 Commission yesterday, according to Washington Post columnist Tom Shales. He predicts polls are going to show she did quite well and believes her demeanor was perfectly suited for television.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 8:35 AM


HOWARD STERN FORMALLY FIRED BY CLEAR CHANNEL (More shoes to drop?): Clear Channel formally fired "shock jock" radio host Howard Stern after the FCC imposed $495,000 in fines for multiple decency violations. Among Stern's horrible offenses was joking with a guest about a purported personal hygiene product designed for use before sexual activity.
---"We can't even joke about sex in this country anymore, " writes Jeff Jarvis, creator of Entertainment Weekly, who has his own web log. Jarvis has run a slew of posts on the Stern issue.
---"You see," he writes, "they just love it when they get the double play of sexual and excretory talk. They even got pissed (pardon me) because the show played fart sounds. Nevermind that every third grader in the world makes fart sounds for playground humor. It offends the FCC."
---Stern is carried by other stations besides Clear Channel stations, but the FFC tactic (which is said to also include talk about revoking licenses) means other Stern outlets could eventually be in its target, too. On his website Stern calls the Clear Channel action part of a McCarthy type 'witch hunt' of the administration and the activities of this group of presidential appointees in the FCC, led by Colin Powell Jr. and his band of players."
---Stern contends that the real reason he is under fire at this time is because he started to criticize President George Bush, who he previously supported. He now vows to work against Bush's re-election. If you read the transcript of the offending Stern broadcast, it hardly seems to justify nearly $500,000 in fines...unless the intent was to get Stern off the air. Will his other stations be next?
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 8:22 AM

Thursday, April 08, 2004  

CONDOLEEZZA RICE'S BIG ADVENTURE: No matter what eventual judgment is made about National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice's historic testimony before the 911 Commission this much is for sure: President George Bush's administration is in far better shape by having her give sworn testimony on the stand than it would have been if they had refused.
---And that's seemingly the only thing people on all sides can agree on.
---If Rice had not taken the stand the constant drip, drip, drip of bad publicity would have continued suggesting that the administration had something to hide about the worst attack on the U.S homeland.
---You can read the full transcript, if you wish, but here's our take:
---HER STRENGTHS: Rice looked knowledgeable, generally forceful (sometimes a bit too) and an adamant defender of her administration, its policies and the President. It was a skillful enough demonstration to guarantee her future as either a future political Republican political star or a future Secretary of State(or both). But she surely didn't win many Democratic friends and her impact on nonpartisan voters is uncertain. She came prepared and as Glenn Reynolds aka InstaPundit points out at one withering point threw one of Senator Bob Kerry's old speeches back in his face.
---HER BIGGEST WEAKNESS: Long answers. Although she was accused by one commission member of "filibustering" it seemed more as if Rice was trying to run out the clock -- stretching out an answer to fill the time allotted to a usually frustrated (usually Democratic) commissioner. This might have played well with Republicans and automatically outraged Democrats, but with swing voters it could offset any gains she made.
---HER STRONGEST POLICY POINTS: 1. That the U.S. was not on a TOTAL"war" footing against terrorism until after 911 --because critical changes in government structures and fine-tuning agencies' cooperation had not yet taken place. There may have been preparations to be on a war footing, but the actual machinery to battle terrorism in its 21st Century form didn't materialize until after 911.
---2. Answering one of former White House terrorism Czar Richard Clarke's most explosive allegations, that the administration was fixated on Iraq to the detriment of anti-terrorism policy. She said the administration had discussed "doing something against Iraq", but the president's top aides had advised against it. Now it's he said/she said.
---HER WEAKEST POLICY POINTS: 1. Her answers to questions about the August 6 Presidential Daily Briefing memo that had a title: "'Bin Laden determined to attack the United States." She claimed it was a "historical document" rather than an actual warning. The explanation sounded like Bill Clinton's "it depends what is is" -- but the matter can be solve easily enough (and reports suggest that via ongoing negotiations it WILL) if the White House declassifies and releases the memo. If the memo is as she says, it'll bolster her case; if not, her credibility will take a tumble.
2. Her insistence that FBI offices had been warned about the danger. Commissioners said their extensive interviews have not come up with any proof they had.
---So how did the testimony play?
---Richard Clarke told ABC News that Rice's testmony bolstered his claims. And President Bush called to thank Rice and invite her to Crawford TX for Easter.
---Meanwhile, Internet reactions to the testimony varied.
---On the left, the Center for American Progress ran the headline "Still Stonewalling" and disputed part of her tesimony, while Atrios suggested she should be prosecuted for perjury.
---Regarding the August 6 memo, The Left Coaster asked ". If it was not a warning document, as Rice insisted, then...Why wouldn't it be made public then?"
---Oliver Willis on the memo:"The President gets a memo saying "Bin Laden Determined to Strike Inside U.S." on 8/6/01, hangs out on vacation - - then when the actual terror attacks happen... they think its Iraq? Stupid or deceitful?"
---Seth Farber, The Talking Dog, wrote:

The long-awaited photo-op of our National Security Advisor Dr. Condoleezza Rice took place before the 9-11 Commission today. There is actually little point in analyzing any of it, because the right wing blog world has determined that she came off as brilliant, forthright and masterfuland the left wing blog world has determined that she came off as stupid, dishonest and... condescending.

---On the right, Powerline ran a running "live" commentary and said:
Rice did "reasonably well..but not great. Her answer were long, sometimes rambling and non-responsive, and prone to slide into bureaucratic jargon and detail.... But she was vigorous in defending herself and the administration... highly knowledgeable, and I don't know how anyone watching her testimony could view her as anything but sincere. I doubt that she changed any minds. Dick Clarke is now enshrined as an unimpeachable expert; no effort was made to undermine his credibility. And little was done to shift the focus from what the Bush administration didn't do in eight months, to what Clinton didn't do in eight years.

---To Donald Sensing, the 9/11 Commission "is a farce . But the sheer ineptitude of the commission's members is shocking. These people do not have a clue what they are doing. The idea that this is a non-partisan inquiry is unsustainable. Members of both parties are more interested in making speeches than anything else....This is not an inquiry. It is an inquisition...."
---Citizen Smash called it "just another vehicle for insipid, juvenile partisan bickering and Monday-morning quarterbacking. This panel is both an embarrassment, and a distraction from the vital task at hand. Can we get back to the War now?
---But, in the end, it's going to be less important what Republicans and Democrats think than what CONVENTIONAL WISDOM emerges...and one early sign wasn't too good: Newsweek's Howard Fineman contends Rice's testimony "certainly won’t help George W. Bush’s re-election chances." If Fineman's analysis reflects the emerging conventional wisdom then Bush & Co. may be in trouble.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 8:13 PM


TEDDY KENNEDY UNDER FIRE (Subtitle: When Surrogates Attack): Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy's fiery speech in which he said "Iraq is George Bush's Vietnam" has ignited its own battle. It became the opening salvo in a "settle old scores" game on both sides:
(1)The Senator has made no secret of his opposition to much of the Bush administration agenda or the general transition to a Republican takeover of most of the government. Under Ronald Reagan and the two Bush presidencies much of the New Frontier and LBJ's Great Society have been dismantled. And since John Kerry has yet to choose a Vice Presidential running mate, Kennedy has stepped into fill the role of political surrogate -- someone who can bluntly say what the candidate would like to say but can't say. Surrogates throw out red meat to the hungry lions in place of the candidate, who gets the meat thrown out without bloodying his hands. It's the American political way.
(2)The Republicans are irked because he linked Iraq with Vietman but there remains lingering outrage over Kennedy's staunch opposition right down the line to most of the administration's policies. Many conservatives also contend that Bush extended the hand of friendship to Kennedy and Kennedy effectively bit it. Add to that the fact that if you look up the word "liberal" in the dictionary you're likely to see Teddy Kennedy's picture in it. The reality is this: administrations have come and gone, but Kennedy has remained as the seemingly eternal voice of a beset point of view.
---Now both sides seem unfased as they roll out the verbal neutron bombs with no sign of surrender in sight:
--NEWSMAX has an item saying that the Shiite leader was so enchanged by Kennedy's turn of phrase he's using the same wording himself.
--Ted Kennedy, the Boston Globe reports, is welcomed by Democrats across the country who increasingly view him " as the Dick Cheney of the Kerry presidential campaign, an elder statesman with the star power to raise money and energize party activists and the firepower and the freedom to harshly attack President Bush's domestic and foreign policies." That'll be good news to the GOP, which considers Kennedy a liability and may even feature him in ads (but those ads assume swing voters agree with GOPers on Kennedy's harshness).
--Kennedy's comments show Bush has been too nice, writes newspaper owner Edward Dailey:"A lot of conservatives may not be comfortable with the idea of the president "going nuclear" with the liberals in Congress or resorting to character assassination in order to win an election, but those same people need to ask themselves if they are really willing to lose the White House for the sake of their own peace of mind. After all, how much peace of mind do they think they'll have if Senator Kerry is elected president of the United States at this particular time in history?"
--Some radio talk show hosts and newspapers are now clamoring about Chappaquiddick, saying it's a fair subject.
After running its item the Wall Street Journal's Opinion Journal added: "Mary Jo Kopechne could not be reached for comment."
---The Manchester Union Leader says this:

EDWARD KENNEDY, a man whose ideological and partisan frenzies have apparently obscured his vision, looks at George W. Bush and sees Richard M. Nixon. Perhaps Bush should be grateful. At least Kennedy has not compared the President to a member of the Senate who once skedaddled from the scene of a drowning, forgetting to inform officials about it until 12 hours later. Is it fair to bring up Chappaquiddick 35 years after Mary Jo Kopechne’s death? Only for this reason: to search out the moral authority of this mouthy man who has repeatedly seen fit to accuse President Bush of grotesquely immoral behavior.

---Do we detect a bit of emotion on both sides here?
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 12:39 AM

Wednesday, April 07, 2004  

ETHICAL MIRROR IMAGE: Egads, the parties DO look (and behave) the same these days. Spinsanity notes that while the Democrats blast President George Bush for cuts in grants that never happened, the Republicans are busy trying to link John Kerry with the words "France" and "French."
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 11:58 PM


HE ONLY WANTED TO AD-DRESS THE PUBLIC: A huge bro-ha-ha unfolding in Texas where a Republican candidate in a state House race is battling the old "a picture is worth a thousand words" syndrome: someone released old photos of him in women's clothing. The Drudge Retort (no relation to the Drudge Report) has a post on it with photos that are now circulating on the Internet. After looking at the pictures I'll just say this: it could have been WORSE -- it could have been Al Gore.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 11:42 PM


DEMOCRATS AHEAD IN CONGRESSIONAL POLL: Rasmussen Reports' poll is most notable not for the lead but for what's apparently happening with non-partisan swing voters:

If the Congressional elections were held today, forty-four percent (44%) of Likely Voters say they would vote for a Democrat and 34% for a Republican. That 10-point edge matches the Democrat's biggest lead of the year. While 79% of Democrats say they will vote for a Democrat in Congress and 75% of Republicans say they will vote for their party, the big difference comes from unaffiliated voters. Among these voters, Democrats are preferred for Congress by a 21-point margin.

This 10-point lead for the Democrats comes after several days of bad news from Iraq. Following that news, the President's Job Approval Ratings have fallen to their lowest level of the year. John Kerry has also gained his biggest lead of the year (6-points) in our daily tracking poll.

---The key this year will be to watch (a)the swing voters and (b)the Nader voters. Polls have found that partisans are almost evenly divided and major defections from either party seem unlikely so far. (Tip on poll thanx to Atrios)
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 11:22 PM


THE O'FRANKEN FACTOR BLOG: Yes! Al Franken, comedian, Bill O'Reilly nemisis and centerpiece host of the fledgling Air America liberal talk show network, has an official blog for his show The O'Franken Factor". And it looks like a lot of folks are leaving comments (183 at the most recent count on the most recent post...). Lively comments...
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 6:28 PM


IS A TERRIBLE JOURNALISM DISEASE GOING AROUND??? Just when we survived ethics questions involving reporters from the New York Times and USA Today...now we get one involving a virtual institution. Jimmy Breslin, a legendary Newsday columnist whose bare-knuckles New York prose won him many fans (and enemies), is the latest journalism luminary thrust into an unwanted spotlight.
---The controversy centers on quotes in a column by Breslin attributed to Rev. Louis Sheldon, chairman of the Traditional Values Coalition. Sheldon flatly accuses Breslin of making quotes up; Breslin says they came from a conversation 1992. If so, Breslin could have protected himself by adding "he told me at the Republican convention in 1992."
---Instead, according to the AP:

In the column, Breslin wrote, "'Homosexuals are dangerous,' Sheldon assured me one day. ... 'They proselytize. They come to the door, and if your son answers and nobody is there to stop it, they grab the son and run off with him. They steal him. They take him away and turn him into a homosexual.'"
Sheldon, speaking by telephone from Anaheim, Calif., said he has never said anything of the kind.
"I don't agree that homosexuals come to someone's door and kidnap their children, and I've never said that," he said.

---How does the paper react to this? Newsday's New York editor, Les Payne told the AP that Breslin told him the conversation with Sheldon took place at the Republican National Convention in Houston in 1992. Breslin had quoted an in an Aug. 18, 1992, column from the GOP convention. The quotes from 1992 and from Wednesday aren't the same, AP says, but Breslin said their exchange went a bit longer. Sheldon is saying he doesn't recall speaking to Breslin there.
---What are we to think about this?
(1)Breslin is a Pulitzer Prize winner. The lack of attribution is amazing.
(2)Sheldon now says he doesn't remember Breslin talking to him in 1992, which seems strange since no protest was apparently lodged about made up quotes in the piece published in 1992.
(3)The fact that Breslin was citing unpublished comments is strange, since the interview was 14 years ago. So did he go to his old notes? Or what?
(4)But the burden of proof rests on Breslin. who knows the rules of the game on attributing quotes and how journalism has become super-sensitive to fabrication and embellishment.
---Bottom line: no matter whether you believe Sheldon or not, Pulitzer Prize winner Jimmy Breslin should have known better. A couple of words next to the quote and this controversy would not exist.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 3:40 PM


FOR BLOGGERS WHO THINK A BLOG IS THE ROAD TO RICHES, THINK AGAIN: That's what Martin Nisenholtz, chief of New York Times Digital, told Wired magazine. He compares blogs to CB and ham radio, i.e. lively and interesting amateur outlets that generally won't bring big bux:

I'm just saying that even if they don't develop into a virtuous cycle that enables a professional class to work in blogs, they can live on in a vibrant, amateur context. But look - for Wired magazine to exist, you've got to get paid. ....I wouldn't need to work for Wired if I decided to live off AdSense clickthroughs on my own blog. I haven't seen anything that could create the scale necessary to engender a professional blogging class in any meaningful way.

---What journalism needs, he says, is a Pong -- a transformative application:"I'm saying that the programmers who created Pong created a just-good-enough experience so that suddenly they could make a living as videogame designers, an occupation that obviously hadn't existed before."
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 1:03 PM


ADS NOT CHANGING VOTERS OPINIONS OF CANDIDATES (bad news for John Kerry): A study by the University of Pennsylvania's National Annenberg Election Survey indicates views of President Bush and Democratic rival John Kerry have changed little over the past month, despite megabucks spent on TV campaign ads. This is bad news for Kerry since his favorable rating went from 41 percent in early March to 39 percent at the end of the month. Bush's was 49 percent in early March and 48 percent at the end of March. So Kerry's favorables are going down faster than Bush's (time for a new strategy session!)
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 11:06 AM


WALMART: LOW PRICES, LOW VOTES: Wal Mart's plans to open 40 "big box" superstores in California suffered a setback: voters in Inglwood overwhelmingly voted "no" to a ballot measure that would have allowed the Arkansas-based company to build a warehouse-sized store while skirting zoning, traffic and environmental reviews.
---The vote was 65.7 percent voting "no" and 34.2 percent voting "yes." The issue came to vote following the City Council's nixing the shopping center, which would have had a Walmart Supercenter plus other stores. So the company collected some 10,000 signatures to take it out of the hands of the politicos and force a vote.
---Walmart's position: its stores create jobs and residents should have the right to choose for themselves. Opponents' position: Supercenters pay low wages and take away better paying jobs as local retailers are forced out of business. Other arguments against the Supercenter: traffic snarls and urban sprawl.
--- Walmart reportedly spent $1 million on the Inglewood campaign...which means the store will have to come up with another strategy besides taking it to the ballot box to open Supercenters in communities where it encounters stiff resistance.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 10:52 AM


WE'RE AT WAR (with porn) FOLKS: Right at the time when headlines are filled with news of life-and-death battles in Iraq, one day before National Security advisor Condoleezza Rice testifies before the 911 commission, at a time when former White House terrorism Czar Richard Clarke's book "Against All Enemies" is flying off bookshelves, shortly after British police foil a chemical bomb plot we learn our government is quietly launching a new war -- a war against porn.
--- The Justice Department is planning a war against porn....which is bound to gobble up resources needed for other things (teeny-weeny things such as terrorism)..The Baltimore Sun has an extensive article on this all-out war, which is drawing expressions of dismay among many such as Glenn Reynolds, aka Instapundit:

I blame John Ashcroft. No, really, this time I mean it. And if the Administration thinks that this is a good use of their "computer forensics" experts, then they must have decided that terrorists aren't a threat any more.
This is so ham-handed and sure to blow up in the Administration's face, making them look like stooges for the religious right while accomplishing nothing, that one almost suspects a Democratic mole in their ranks.

Indeed, you have to wonder what's going on in the inner sanctum of the admininistration. Our only guess is this: that the administration feels it has shored up its base, wants to make sure it doesn't lose it, and also feels this is a moment when it has the ability to successfully clamp down on indecency.
---But if there is a lesson from all the books written about 911 (those embraced by either liberals or conservatives) it's this: to battle the war on terrorism there must be a laser-like focus by agencies and close agency cooperation. Is there some administrative attention deficit here?
---Writes Jeff Jarvis:"And now the Justice Department wants to take away your flesh. John Ashcroft faces death in the ICU and the first thing he does when he gets out is launch a multi-million-dollar war on porn. Guess he didn't want FCC National Nanny Michael Powell to have all the fun."
The Sun says this:
In this field office in Washington, 32 prosecutors, investigators and a handful of FBI agents are spending millions of dollars to bring anti-obscenity cases to courthouses across the country for the first time in 10 years. Nothing is off limits, they warn, even soft-core cable programs such as HBO's long-running Real Sex or the adult movies widely offered in guestrooms of major hotel chains...

So everything will go under the microscope. And the political tie-in? Again, the Sun:
The Bush administration is eager to shore up its conservative base with this issue. Ashcroft held private meetings with conservative groups a year and a half ago to assure them that anti-porn efforts are a priority.
But administration critics and First Amendment rights attorneys warn that the initiative could smack of Big Brother, and that targeting such a broad range of readily available materials could backfire.

"They are miscalculating the pulse of the community," said attorney Paul Cambria, who has gone head to head with Taylor in cases dating to the 1970s. "I think a lot of adults would say this is not what they had in mind, spending millions of dollars and the time of the courts and FBI agents and postal inspectors and prosecutors investigating what consenting adults are doing and watching."

---It's a move that is almost mind-bloggling: launching a new all-out "war" that will veer resources and focus away from the life-and death war(s) the U.S. is already battling on national and international fronts. Meanwhile, it only seemingly confirms the most extreme Democrats' scenarios about the rapid expansion of federal government power under the Bush administration, which came to office in 2000 saying it wanted less government in citizen's lives.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 8:58 AM


SHOULD THE DEMOCRATS LEARN FROM RALPH NADER? Seattle Times columnist Danny Westneat thinks they can. He recounts poor Ralph in Seattle, at the scene of a rally once packed with screaming supporters. But this time it was only half full:"The ballgame, it had to be the ballgame," he quotes Nader as saying.
---But, alas, that isn't it. As Westneat points out, his "campaign is withering" but "even his corpse gives Democrats fits."
---The reason, Westneat notes:" It's that he has something to say. So far at least, the Democrats really don't. "
---He recounts the various arguments Democrats are using to try to woo -- or scare -- voters away from Nader. And in the end his advice is a old, tested, tried and true vote-getter: the Democrats should try to steal Nader's thunder by co-opting some of his issues or themes.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 8:17 AM

Tuesday, April 06, 2004  

INVENTOR OF THE ALTERNATING OUTDOOR TIME-AND-TEMPERATURE SIGN DIES: Luke Williams, who with his brother invented the alternating time-and-temperature sign you see on business buildings all over the world, died in a Spokane, WA nursing home. He was 80 and had suffered a series of strokes. His medical equipment showed the first strike a 1:00 am, body temperature 103 degrees, at 1:01 am, temperature 102 degrees, at 1:02, temperature 101 degrees...FINAL READING: 1:05, room temperature....
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 5:37 PM


AN ITALIAN CITY is plagued with spontaneous fires, and no one knows why. Some 20 houses in Canneto di Caronia have been plagued with X-Files-like spontaneous fires since mid-January. Electricity has been cut off, to no avail. A flow of scientists, engineers, police and supposed ghost busters have visited the town to look for clues to explain spontaneous combustion of everything from fuse boxes to microwave ovens to a car. Could it be some evil demon? All I know is that Donald Trump visited there last January, stood on a hill overlooking the town and said: "You're fired."
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 5:22 PM


IRAQ'S DEADLY DAY: Anti-U.S. Iraqi forces and rebellious Shiites battled Marines in the unstable city of Fallujah -- leading to the deaths of up to a dozen Marines, two more coalition soldiers and at least 66 Iraquis.
---In Ramadi, near Fallujah,Iraqis were said to have attacked a Marine position near the governor's palace. And a Washington senior defense official said "a significant number" of Marines were killed"-- up to a dozen.
---All of this comes in the wake of U.S. authorities plan to crackdown on radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr al-Sadr and his militia after a series of weekend uprisings in Baghdad and cities and towns.
--- According to the AP: "The fighting marks the first major outbreak of violence between the U.S.-led occupation force and the Shiites since Baghdad fell a year ago."
---Meanwhile, two more coalition soldiers and an American in Baghdad and a Ukrainian in Kut were killed in fighting. The deaths brought the three-day total to up to some 30 Americans and 136 Iraqis killed in the worst fighting since the fullscale war.
---TMV has already outlined the perils and dilemmas of what's now going in on Iraq as Washington prepares to stick with its slated the June 30 handover of power to an Iraqi government.
--- But will the present troops be enough? Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld today said American commanders in Iraq would get additional troops if needed but so far there have been no requests.
---And will this week with its growing problems in Iraq, and the tough choices facing U.S. policy and military planners, one day be looked at as akin to Vietna's pivotal 1968 Tet offensive? There certainly seems as if there is a fork in the road, and Washington has to decide policies to pursue -- and which way to go.
---For a continuing update, check with ABC NEWS or with The Command Post which is constantly being updated with breaking developments.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 5:00 PM


BRITISH POLICE FOILED CHEMICAL BOMB PLOT: According to ABC News, suspects the British police arrested last week were planning to make a bomb "that would include a highly toxic, easily obtained chemical called osmium tetroxide.
---ABC has this absolutely chilling quote from Dave Siegrist, a bioterrorism expert at the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies in Arlington, Va:"(Osmium tetroxide) is a nasty piece of work," said Dave Siegrist, a bioterrorism expert at the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies in Arlington, Va. "It irritates the eyes, lungs, nose and throat. It leads to an asthma-like death, what we call a 'dry-land drowning.' "
---Police arrested eight British citizens of Pakistani descent when 700 police raided 24 locations in and around London on March 30 after tracking the group for months. Electronic intercepts provided the tip that a dangerous chemical weapon was in the works. Police believe they were targeting an airport, public transportation and enclosed shoping areas -- and british authorities feared it had the potential to be one of the worst attacks ever in England.
---This kind of attack would have also raised terror tactics one notch -- by using a frightening chemical bomb.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 10:20 AM


IN HONOR OF PASSOVER WE'LL LET YOU KNOW ABOUT THIS: An enterprising Rabbi is offering circumcisions via the Internet. The service is to be called "E-MOIL."
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 9:50 AM


FINAL CLINTON REPORT LEAVES OUT YOU-KNOW-WHO: The Washington Times says the 45,000 word long final policy paper on national security that President Clinton gave to Congress doesn't Al Qaeda. And Osama bin Laden is mentioned by name four times. Yet, former White House terrorism Czar Richard Clarke and various Clinton administration officials insist bin Laden and Al Qaeda were considered a top priority. What's the explanation?
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 9:43 AM

Monday, April 05, 2004  

MOVE OVER BILL GATES: Ingvar Kamprad, the Swede who founded furniture retail chain IKEA, has now been named the richest man in the world.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 8:53 PM


IRAQ IS AT THE BOILING POINT and it couldn't come at a more inconvenient time for U.S. policy planners -- or President George Bush.
---Events haven't been pretty and seem to have taken on a violent momentum of their own. So U.S. administrators in Iraq declared a radical Shiite Muslim cleric an 'outlaw' and want to arrest him. That would remove a provocateur from the streets but it also could increase tensions after clashes between his supporters and coalition forces took the lives of 52 Iraqis and nine coalition troops, (including eight Americans).
---As US. troops get ready to arrest cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, American troops were getting into positions around Fallujahm -- for what will in effect be a military answer to the brutal incineration and mutilation of four U.S. civilians by anti-U.Sers there last week. The degree of response sparked fierce debate because a weak response could make the U.S. look like a "paper tiger" -- but a brutal response could create a backlash and bolster anti-U.S. forces. In effect, the military is walking a tightrope: what it does may not WIN Fallujaham, but if it does nothing or not enough it could LOSE Fallujaham.
--- And then there's the strategical issue, as the Scotsman's Tim Ripley notes: "The unprecedented challenge to the coalition authority presented by Shiite Muslim supporters of the young cleric Moqtada al-Sadr marks the most dangerous phase so far of the United States-led occupation. If the armed resistance by Mr Sadr's militia gathers momentum, coalition forces will have to fight on a dangerous second front just as the infamous Sunni Triangle is newly aflame with anti-US violence."
--- How bad is the situation? So bad that, the BBC reports, the U.S top command " is examining the possibility of sending more troops to Iraq if the situation there gets out of control....The official confirmed that commanders had been asked to present such options, but said the US military did not believe it was needed."
---Meanwhile the words "civil war" are being used more often. And Senators Richard Lugar and Joe Biden, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee's Republican and Democratic leaders, both suggested the US should consider postponing handing over sovereignty, now slated to occur June 30. The White House wants to stick to the timetable and the U.S. elections most assuredly have something to do with that.
--- Indeed, Iraq is now a literal AND figurative minefield for the U.S. government because:
(1)The situation is worsening and strictly holding pattern policies won't do.
(2)National Security advisor Condoleezza Rice will give sworn testimony to the 911 commission on April 9, partly to refute charges by former White House terrorism Czar Richard Clarke that the White House began looking for ways to invade Iraq even though (Clarke says) there was no Al Qaeda-Saddam connection. Rice's mission will be to show the commission -- and the American people -- that the administration was not asleep at the switch, nor was it chomping at the bit to invade Iraq without solid evidence of the need to do so. All this now will come within the context of news stories showing turmoil in Iraq.
(3)President Bush's poll support for the Iraq war is plummeting. The latest Pew Institute poll indicates that while a majority still support his decision to use military force in Iraq, 40 per cent approve of the way Bush is handling Iraq, while 53 per cent disapprove. Significance: The approval rate is down 6% from those who approved in mid-January. The date is important for the White House, which wants to show progress in handing Iraq back to the Iraqis.
---All of these strands taken together underscore one political reality: pundits can write, broadcasters can broadcast, politicos can pronounce -- and bloggers can blog -- but events often shape the political reality in which elections are held. Forces beyond the political players' control are often, in fact, the forces in control....
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 7:34 PM


MORE CONSERVATIVE TALK SHOW RADIO: Former Education Secretary and expert on virtues Bill Bennett is getting a radio show, too. He'll host "Morning in America," a three-hour foray into headlines, culture, politics and entertainment airing weekdays from 6 to 9 a.m. in 20 markets. Bennett, the director of Empower America, is gambling...I mean hoping...that his new radio show with a different twist takes off. I'll give him five to one odds that it will.
---He told the Washington Times: "I want the show to center on culture."
---He's doing a show on YOGART?
---Well, maybe more than that: "I like politics, but I've also spent much time in my life emphasizing its impact on culture. I'm interested in the area where politics, policy, culture and education intersect. So when we go over daily headlines, we'll talk about Fallujah. But we'll also address Hollywood, leisure, music, SAT scores."
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 4:29 PM


RESPECTED ZOGBY POLL SAYS PREZ RACE STILL A TIE: But if you add Nader it tilts closer to President George Bush. Zogby, which has one of the best polling track records, says this:"Massachusetts Senator John Kerry holds a slight lead (47%-45%) over President George W. Bush with 45% among likely voters, according to a new Zogby International poll. The poll of 1035 likely voters was conducted Thursday through Sunday (April 1-4, 2004). Overall results have a margin of sampling error of +/-3.1. When Independent candidate Ralph Nader is added, Kerry and Bush are statistically tied with 45.5% for Bush, 45.3% for Kerry, and Nader with 3%."
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 3:39 PM


LIBERAL TALK SHOW RADIO NETWORK TAKES SOME MORE STEPS FOWARD: Four more, in fact...as in four more stations sign up to broadcast its shows nationwide (tip from Atrios). Another good sign is a virtual talk show radio host report card (of hosts on the right and left) put together by the website Quibbles-N-Bits.
---You can read the whole report card for yourself, but it grades key conservative and liberal hosts on personality, paranoia and rationality. People will greatly differ on these grades (for instance, of Q&B's favorite conservative hosts I find Rush and Sean tiresome and Michael Savage an unpredictable, delightful scream) but the bottom line is this: Josh Fiekek gives the AA network's showpiece host comedian Al Franken a high grade. He clearly hates afternoon host Randi Rhodes who gets and F (lower than the D plus he gives Savage) and adds: "Randi Rhodes strikes me as the liability. She has a great voice... for silent film."
---This is one of the most thoughtful lists I've seen on radio talk show hosts. But aside from that, it illustrates that there are indeed folks out there who can judge programs on their entertainment and informational value rather than just praise hosts who think like they do and hate those who don't. The new stations plus the reaction of Q&B, which started out skeptical, are good signs for the liberal network. (The Moderate Voice has to say: he loved Randi Rhodes, but maybe because he loves but does not agree with Michael Savage and considers Rhodes the equally bombastic and entertaining female Savage of the Left). Read this report card yourself. How would YOU grade them???
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 3:08 PM


10 THINGS TO TELL TELEMARKETERS WHEN THEY CALL: Click on THIS LINK It'll take you to this site and you can hear 10 useful ways to deal with your unwanted telephone guests.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 8:28 AM


IN CASE YOU FORGOT, IT'S "NATIONAL CLEAN OUT YOUR REFRIGERATOR WEEK" according to the New York Daily News. The Moderate Voice will do his part now by consuming left over spaghetti, roast beef, tapioca pudding and beef stew -- and that's just for breakfast.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 8:17 AM


PLUMMETING ETHICS WATCH: The New York Times reports that "illegal doctoring of hourly employees' time records is far more prevalent than most Americans believe. The practice, commonly called shaving time, is easily done and hard to detect — a simple matter of computer keystrokes — and has spurred a growing number of lawsuits and settlements against a wide range of businesses."
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 7:51 AM


BOOKS ARE GOING STRONG: Despite pronoucements some years ago that the cyberage would make them obsolete, books are playing a stronger role than ever in the USA, USA Today's Mark Memmott reports.
---He writes:"Books, the oldest of the "old media," are pushing serious issues into the presidential campaign and will remain a powerful force in coming weeks. They're shoving aside cable news networks and flashy Web sites, the 'new media' it was fashionable to think would dominate political reporting."
---The paper says the highly influential -- and historically unusual -- role of serious, issues-based books is being noticed by historians and political scientists. "I can't think of anything close to this happening during a campaign, at least in the 20th century," James Campbell, a political science professor at the State University of New York at Buffalo, told the newspaper.
---Indeed, The Moderate Voice remembers meeting a top media professor in Los Angeles in 1982 when TMV was a reporter on the San Diego Union. This professor with absolute assurance said journalism jobs would be obsolete ("You're a dinosaur. Your gonna be out of a job."), newspapers would fold and computer news and electronic books would displace the on-paper media. It hasn't worked out that way. But the explosion in ideology-oriented talk radio (the latest chapter of which is the liberal Air America network), synergy in how talk radio hosts cross over into television and mass market books, the growth of personal webblogs (like this), plus the explosion of toprate Internet news sites have all created a hunger for IDEAS as well as red-meat political emotion.
---Just a few years ago experts bemoaned the fact that people didn't seem to want to read as much and writing skills were declining. Young people may still need work on writing skills, but the growth of the Internet -- and the reading and writing skills Internet activity not only require but ENHANCE -- will help hone the skills.
---So books are going strong because the thirst for ideas creates a clamor for product -- and it's getting stronger every day. It's not easy getting good news these days but USA Today just delivered it.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 7:35 AM


BUSH ADMINISTRATION GETS READY TO THROW RICE AT DOUBTERS AND CRITICS: April 8 is The Big Day for the Bush administration when national security advisor Condoleezza Rice gives sworn public testimony before the 911 commission. It's literally Rice's moment of truth.
---Many newspaper and magazine articles have dealt with the huge stakes riding on her testimony, since she is one of the administration's greatest resources...and also because much of the dispute boils down to events and policies on her turf, as Phil Carter's review below of the new Richard Clarke book points out. The New York Times notes that Rice must square her account with former White House terrorism Czar Clarke's critical sworn testimony (and to a lesser extent his hugely popular book). And it points out some potential pitfalls:
(1)One would be "to reveal the depth of her anger toward Clarke, whom she believes she protected against those who wanted to oust him because of his closeness to the Clinton White House. Directly contradicting him, her colleagues fear, would exacerbate the politically polarizing debate that has captivated Washington for more than two weeks."
(2)The other would be "to give no ground, to offer no room for self-doubt that the issue was handled with the right urgency and the right approach."
---But the White House is confident, according to the Times, which quotes one of her colleagues as saying:"They don't call her the `Warrior Princess' for nothing."
---But even Warriors can make mortal mistakes so, Ms. Rice, here are a few more pitfalls:
(3)Don't make it ideological in terms of the two parties. If there is even the slightest hint of it, all it's going to do is to feed growing polarization. Acceptable: noting that the Clinton administration viewed terrorism largely as a crime requiring policing action versus the Bush administration viewing it as something that required military mopup. Unacceptable: Anything that frames it as Democrat versus Republican issue and even hints that the appearance is a campaign commercial. Whole forests have been cut down to print books now on file in libraries that document the fact that MANY ADMINISTRATIONS erred in the terrorism war and 911 was basically a bloody wake-up call. Acknowledge this.
(4)Truly share the blame. Like other administrations, the ever-defensive Clinton administration dropped the ball on terrorism. But shunting Bush watch problems over to the Clinton administration as much as possible will backfire, unless there is irrefutable evidence to back claims up.
---Avoid the tendency of some in your administration and party to want to yell "it's because of Clinton!" when things are wrong and take all credit for things that are going right. Anyone who studies history or knows government is aware that there is a certain amount of continuity in administrations. Acknowledge any shortcomings -- then quickly LINK that acknowledgement with what your administration has done to correct the problem.
(5)Don't forget what's at stake. It isn't saving an administration or defending one's job, it's how to plug up holes in our national security apparatus, intelligence gathering policies, and immigration procedures so another 911 can never happen again. (And that's unrealistic, because the terrorists will just probe for new weaknesses to exploit).
(6)Make sure above all it doesn't just become Condi Rice Versus Richard Clarke which is what the news media WANTS it to be. Focus on the issues and solutions.
(7)Never forget your audience. It obviously isn't just the 911 commission members. Or the news media. Or voters. It's U.S. allies, wavering allies, factions within those countries -- and the terrorists. If they see Chapter Two of a Grudge Match (Clarke Versus Rice or Bush Administration Versus Clinton Administration) it could be interpreted as a deeply divided America not acknowledging flawed policies or procedures that gave terrorists a chance to strike at America's homeland.
(8)Remember how judgments are ultimately made on what is successful. You'll be judged by commission members but voters (and historians) will make their FINAL DECISION on how well you do after they see you on TV and read or hear press commentary, even media reports on how it plays abroad. The Conventional Wisdom on your testimony will then emerge from this national and international echo chamber.
---If Rice testifies mainly as a Warrior defending the honor of the Bush administration, in the long run she and the administration will lose. If she testifies as a charismatic, solid national security advisor who wants to set the record straight and comes armed with facts -- and ideas for solutions -- she and the administration will win.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 6:51 AM

Sunday, April 04, 2004  

RICHARD CLARKE'S BOOK REVIEWED BY A FORMER ARMY OFFICER: Phil Carter of the web log Intel Dump has posted a review of former White House terrorism Czar Richard Clarke's new book Against All Enemies. It's extensive and well done. Go to THIS LINK to read the whole thing (we suggest you do). But here are some highlights of the review by Clark, a journalist and UCLA law student:

In general, I was somewhat disappointed with the book after all the hype that has surrounded it. The most valuable part of the book, for me, was the look that it gave me into the inner workings of the National Security Council and the national security process generally. The extent to which personality affected policy and process really surprised me; so did the power of professional public servants in relation to their political masters.

But as for the final chapters, which supposedly damn the Bush Administration's for its terrorism policy and policy towards Iraq, I was unconvinced by Mr. Clarke's writing. I have immersed myself in the world of anti-terrorism and the law during the past two years, and I was not convinced by a lot of what he said with respect to the legal and financial strategies against terrorism. My experience and research has showed me that these fights have been quite aggressive indeed -- perhaps too aggressive in some quarters.

As for Mr. Clarke's argument regarding Iraq, I closed his book without having been persuaded by his argument. He did not marshal enough evidence to persuade me that the Bush Administration had deceived the American public to march towards war, or that it had considered (and disregarded) all of the strategic costs of the war

---The bottom line, he writes, is that although Clarke contends the book is about a breakdown in leadership, it's really about allocating blame. And on that he writes:
Ironically, by pointing fingers at so many different agencies, Mr. Clarke is really pointing the finger back at himself, because it was his job to coordinate those agencies on the critical issue of terrorism. Ultimately, such blame belongs to the men who sit in the Oval Office, not to any political or professional public servant on the National Security Council. Nonetheless, I got the sense from Against All Enemies that the NSC deserved at least part of the blame here for not managing and coordinating U.S. policy on this issue during the ascendance of Al Qaeda.

---TMV's bottom line: This is a thoughtful serious review that merits everyone's attention since Carter isn't writing it as a partisan trying to promote a pre-determined viewpoint (Clarke is automatically a hero; Clarke is automatically lying) but to assess the information in the book and compare it to what he has found in his own research.
---His conclusion about the NSC also seems to be yet another sign that national security advisor Condoleezza Rice may face some stiff questioning when she testifies before the 911 commission this week -- since news reports also suggest questions she'll be asked will center on what government institutions under her control knew and were doing.---
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 11:07 PM


AT LEAST IT WASN'T YOU-KNOW-WHO REVEALING HER YOU-KNOW-WHAT: The BBC is being blasted in England for airing a rap song that that compares Queen Elizabeth II to Saddam Hussein and accuses Britain ’s royal family of murdering Princess Diana.
---According to the Daily Telegraph, “ Great Britain ”, written and performed by recently-converted-to-Islam hip-hopper Scor-Zay-Zee is a diatribe against the British way of life.
---The lyrics takes go after Britain ’s support for Israel and the U.S.-British relationship but the bulk of the fuss centers on its criticism of the royal family which is accused of thefts and killings. “Slavery made the riches of Great Britain , the queen wears stolen diamonds, her husband’s a Freemason, they killed Lady Di,” it says. “The queen lives in an house like Saddam Hussein. They’re both rich so I guess they are one and the same."
---Who says America hasn't contributed to world culture? American offensive-style hip-hop has now taken hold all over the globe. Now if we can just export some Kathy Lee Gifford cds (or Kathy Lee) our contribution to molding world culture will be complete.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 10:17 PM


THE 911 COMMISSION WILL BE A "UNITER NOT A DIVIDER": The chairmen (a Democrat and a Republican) of the 911 commission said on Sunday that the 911 attacks probably could have been prevented, suggesting BOTH the Clinton and Bush administrations bungled it. So we may see unity (a joint CYYKW --Cover-Your-You-Know-What -- position) displayed among Clinton and Bush administration officialdom yet. It sounds as if the final commission report may essentially point to both administrations and say "A pox on both your houses" (well, they probably won't put it that way, because then John Ashcroft might detain them for advocating bioterrorism..).
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 8:51 PM


UNWISE COMMENTS III: Retracting unwise comments; making more unwise comments; consequences of unwise comments: Has Howard Dean's terminal foot-in-mouth disease infected those who perhaps sympathized with him?
---The hugely popular, influential, and established liberal Daily Kos blog sparked a minifirestorm earlier this week by saying "Screw them" about the Americans painfully incinerated and horribly mutiliated in Iraq. This caused some web logs and sites (including this non-liberal, non-conservative site, which immediately removed the Kos link) to decide the comments were perhaps a little-too-out-there for them: some denounced the comments, others started campaigns to get advertising removed from the Kos blog.
---So Kos ran a retraction of sorts that made some hearts soften (not enough for TMV to re-link it). But that was negated almost entirely by another post that followed that hurled down the gauntlet to conservative sites working to pull its advertisements. It ended with "Bring it on!" (Read both of these links and see what you think).
---Now comes the BIG NEWS (which we got from Greg Piper) that John Kerry's campaign quickly put distance between itself and Kos -- delinking its website.
---If you read Kos' second post-fiasco-quote post, he basically says his site has all the ads it needs and people are standing in line so the (MISTAKEN we firmly believe) efforts to get his ads pulled are no big deal to him. But TMV, who looks younger than his years (he thinks and HOPES) humbly reminds everyone that credibility isn't measured by "hits" or Blogad revenues or who links to your site. And he offers this (somewhat paraphrased) quote from one of Nixon's old Watergate crowd: "Once the toothpaste is out of the tube it's hard to get it back in."
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 11:44 AM


Longtime ABC Newsman Sam Donaldson contends President George Bush is the most polarizing president he has ever covered: "'Nixon ... the whole country was up in arms, but it wasn't this polarization,' Donaldson said Saturday night at the Texas Associated Press Broadcasters annual meeting. 'In Reagan's case, there were people who didn't like him ... but he didn't seem to engender this sort of personal polarization." He predicted that, all other issues aside, one factor will determine the outcome of the November election: the economy. Some will think Sam is on the mark; others will think he flipped his wig......
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 10:51 AM


NEW STRATEGY FOR NADER SUPPORTERS RE RALPH NADER: A new strategy seems to be emerging on the left regarding Ralph Nader. It's laid out in a fascinating Counterpunch article by Frank Bardacke and Doug Lummis titled: Support Nader; Dump Bush. The "nut graph" is this:

We....agree with one of the arguments Nadar made in his speech announcing his candidacy: that a spirited, successful Nader campaign would bring more people to the polls, many of whom would vote for Kerry. We take Nadar at his word, translate it into the slogan_Support Nadar, Dump Bush_and propose it as a course of action. Nader is our candidate. We urge you to support his campaign in whatever way you can. Talk to your friends and neighbors. Write letters to newspapers. If you have money to spare, give some to the campaign.... Always answer "Nader" in opinion polls. Work to create a political culture that supports the Nader campaign, and that continues to educate people about what the Democratic Party really stands for. If we do all this, then the day after the election, we can feel proud that we spoke the truth, as we knew it.

But on the day of the election, vote to dump Bush. In some places that may mean voting for Kerry, even though he is not our candidate. In other places, like Massachusetts, people can vote for Nader, knowing that Bush has no chance to take the State. We are confident that people can make the right decision come election day. We are saying something that is true in most every large, national election, and is especially true this time: who you actually vote for is not as important as what you work for. Work for the anti-imperial candidacy of Ralph Nader, and vote for whomever you think gives us the best chance of beating Bush. But wouldn't a Nader supporter who voted for Kerry be guilty of a last-minute betrayal of all she or he had worked for? No. Ralph Nader is not going to win this election. His is an educational campaign, an attempt to talk to the American people about what truly ails us.

.... Whoever becomes President without a mandate to dismantle the Empire, will be a bad one. The demands of the Empire require that the President lie and kill....This is as true of Kerry, as it was of Bush, as it was of Clinton. And if we do manage to dump Bush, and Kerry is the next President, then four years hence we will have to dump him too.

---So watch out GOP...some Nader voters may not unintentionally cast their votes for George Bush, after all. Watch out George Bush...and watch out John Kerry...
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 10:11 AM


RINGERLEADER OF LAST MONTH'S HORRORIFIC BOMBINGS IN SPAIN DIES IN HIS OWN BOMB BLAST: The ringerleader of last month's bomb attacks was one of four bombers who blew themselves (and a special operations police officer) up in Madrid yesterday rather than be captured by police.
---He and three equally merciless colleagues decided they preferred to meet virgins in the afterlife rather than assertive Spanish police and security forces who were going to arrest them and put them through rigorous questioning about links to other terrorist groups. So, as police raided their apartment, they chanted religious slogans, expressed for a last time their love of killing -- and blew themselves up.
---AP REPORTS:"The blast Saturday night killed a special operations police officer and wounded 15 other policemen. Interior Minister Angel Acebes said one of the dead bombers was found with an explosives belt around his body, and two or three suspects may have escaped before the explosion."
---A couple of interesting details:
(1)Just last week Spain had issued an international warrant for ringerleader Sarhane Ben Abdelmajid Fakhet, a Tunisian accused of spearheading the March 11 attacks. His death now saves international police some money (and makes the world a little brighter).
(2)Another man on that arrest list was among the dead; the other two weren't on the list.
(3)Spanish officials say members of the group that carried out the train bombings are either now in custody or dead in yesterday's collective suicide.
(4)Police found additional explosives there, and Spain's Interior Ministera Angel Acebes noted:""They were going to keep on attacking because some of the explosives were prepared, packed and connected to detonators."
(5)They went out fighting to the end. According to the Madrid newspaper El Pais, they were told to surrender but yelled "God is great, we are going to go out killing."
(6)With the key conspirators dead or arrested, now the investigation shifts ground. Officials believe the group responsible is the Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group, which is al-Qaeda-linked and related to a group suspected in last year's Casablanca bombings, which killed 45 people including 12 suicide bombers. According to Aceves, now the investigation will focus on possible connections between the group that murdered the commuters and terrorist groups abroad.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 9:32 AM


OUR NEW LOOK: The Moderate Voice is tinkering with a (long overdue) new look. It will make TMV more readable, plus we're also classifying our limited links into categories to make them easier to understand for readers who want to use our site to explore others. We're also working to fine-tune some problems with our article links, so readers can send specific article links to others or bloggers can easily link to specific articles. We're not done yet but all this is well underway. The redesign is the sole handiwork of San Diego computer consultant and website designer Ed Koperda, who also completely designed my ventriloquism website (he also has a GREAT joke section on his website, by the way). We've already gotten enthusastic comments from one top web log owner and hope you agree.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 9:08 AM

Saturday, April 03, 2004  

ANOTHER INDICATION IRAQ WAS ON THE ADMINISTRATION BURNER EARLY ON: England's Guardian reports:"President George Bush first asked Tony Blair to support the removal of Saddam Hussein from power at a private White House dinner nine days after the terror attacks of 11 September, 2001."
--- It attributes the info to Sir Christopher Meyer, the former British Ambassador to Washington, who was at the dinner when Blair became the first foreign leader to visit America after 11 September. According to Meyer, Blair told Bush he should not get distracted from the war on terror's initial goal - dealing with the Taliban and al-Qaeda in Afghanistan.

Bush, claims Meyer, replied by saying: 'I agree with you, Tony. We must deal with this first. But when we have dealt with Afghanistan, we must come back to Iraq.' Regime change was already US policy. It was clear, Meyer says, 'that when we did come back to Iraq it wouldn't be to discuss smarter sanctions'. Elsewhere in his interview, Meyer says Blair always believed it was unlikely that Saddam would be removed from power or give up his weapons of mass destruction without a war.

---The Guardian contends this is corroboration of former White House anti-terrorism Czar Richard Clarke's key comment about Bush being "'obsessed' with Iraq as his principal target after 9/11." It also predicts "explosive" implications for Blair because it would contradict the British PM's oft-repeated assurances that "no decisions had been taken' until right before the March 2003 invasion began.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 11:13 PM


"I WOULDN'T HAVE DONE IT IF I KNEW IT WAS A STATUE" DEPARTMENT: Michael Todd Howard made a slight mistake. We all make them -- well, maybe not not quite like HIS...
--- You see, he set up a meeting with a woman on a "rape fantasy" Internet chat page, but instead broke into the wrong woman's apartment.
--- He pleaded guilty to residential burglary in a San Diego court here in return for an expected sentence of one year in jail and probation
--- It all started on an Internet chat site, where Howard set up what was described as a "rape fantasy." It would have been your normal, typical everyday "rape fantasy" date except for one little thing: he entered the wrong apartment and hit and struggled with the surprised 25-year old woman inside. And then:

The victim stopped the attack by yelling and attacking Howard's testicles. Howard then asked for the name the victim used in the chat room and she responded by saying she had never visited a chat room and did not have a personal computer.

--- Howard's situation in court reminds The Moderate Voice of a terrible joke that he MUST tell you. A man is before a judge. The judge says: "You are accused of statuatory rape." S the defendent says:"But I wouldn't have done it if I knew it was a statue...."
---Howard got off eaiser than the guy in the joke: as part of the plea deal, prosecutors dropped charges of intent to commit rape, false imprisonment and possession of illegal drugs. Howard will be sentenced next month.
---The moral: the next time you set up your regularly-scheduled "rape fantasy" date make SURE you get the right address...
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 10:46 PM


POLICE GOT THEIR MAN IN THE END: "A junkie enlisted as an FBI snitch stole $1,200 in government money and stuffed the cash up his rectum, prosecutors said yesterday. Luis Colon, 31, of Manchester, N.H., who was given the money to pay the target of a Lawrence drug gang investigation. Colon is charged with theft and with two counts of making false statements. All of the cash was recovered during a search." Police quickly got to the bottom of this case. When they accused Colon, he wasn't offended and turned the other cheek. (Colon has a half brother -- a semi-Colon).
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 8:58 PM


RICHARD CLARKE BEST SELLING AUTHOR: According to Wonkette (linking to the NY Daily News) former White House terrorism Czar Richard Clarke's book is going to debut at Number One on the prestigious New York Times best seller list.
---Meanwhile, the Washington Post has an analysis saying the framework of Clarke's book has been "bolstered" in recent weeks, in essence giving it increased credibility. The paper says, in part:

The most sweeping challenge to Clarke's account has come from two Bush allies, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) and Fred F. Fielding, a member of investigative panel. They have suggested that sworn testimony Clarke gave in 2002 to a joint congressional committee that probed intelligence failures was at odds with his sworn testimony last month. Frist said Clarke may have "lied under oath to the United States Congress."

But the broad outline of Clarke's criticism has been corroborated by a number of other former officials, congressional and commission investigators, and by Bush's admission in the 2003 Bob Woodward book "Bush at War" that he "didn't feel that sense of urgency" about Osama bin Laden before the attacks occurred.

In addition, a review of dozens of declassified citations from Clarke's 2002 testimony provides no evidence of contradiction, and White House officials familiar with the testimony agree that any differences are matters of emphasis, not fact. Indeed, the declassified 838-page report of the 2002 congressional inquiry includes many passages that appear to bolster the arguments Clarke has made.

---The Post notes that controversy continues over some apparent contradictions and what Bush administration officials consider to be outright misrepresentations. But, the paper adds: "With the exception of the Predator issue, Clarke's alleged misrepresentations are largely peripheral to his central argument about Bush's lack of attention to terrorism before Sept. 11. The White House believes this nevertheless suggests flaws in Clarke's overall credibility."
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 12:23 PM


THE POLITICAL POWER AND INFLUENCE OF THE INTERNET can be seen in news that the Democrats' apparent nominee John Kerry has raised $50 million via the internet in three months (then there is hope for my "beg box" in to the upper right yet!) Put that together with what Howard Dean did via the internet and you have us in a new era in terms of spreading information and fund-raising. In retrospect the Dean folks erred by assuming their internet organizational work and fund raising meant they could do a bit less on the ground. But we're in a new era. The Internet can profoundly influence politics. It's nice to know the Internet means more than my opening my emails to find three messages telling me I need an "enlargement."
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 10:13 AM


FUROR IN THE BLOGWORLD PART II: The furor over a blogger's unwise comments (see post below) continues. Some folks are actually pursuing a campaign to get advertisers to drop advertising from his site due to the later-deleted "screw them" comments about the Americans incinerated and mutiliated in Iraq. But Michele Catalano, who took a very tough stand against what was written (and the way it disappeared from the site when the firestorm began) thinks that's going too far. And The Moderate Voice? The comment definitely crossed a line for us so we'll permanently delink it from our limited links list to the right. With us it's a matter of credibility; if there had been a mea culpa (like with politicians) it's one thing. We're not a liberal or conservative site but it's hard for TMV to recommend that site now since what was written seems a bit out there in Dennis Kucinichland (actually way beyond EVEN THAT).
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 9:33 AM


A WHISTLEBLOWER CLAIMS WHITE HOUSE KNEW ABOUT PLANES: When National Security advisor Condoleezza Rice gives sworn public testimony to the 911 commission on April 8, she may have to be more precise than ever about what the administration knew before the most murderous date in U.S. history.
---The reason: according to England's Independent newspaper, a former FBI translator with top-security clearance " says she has provided information to the panel investigating the 11 September attacks which proves senior officials knew of al-Qa'ida's plans to attack the US with aircraft months before the strikes happened."
---This is at variance with what Rice has said -- and the whistleblower, Sibyl Edmonds, contends a claim by Rice that there was no such information was "an outrageous lie."
---(Maybe someone can persuade her to tell us what she REALLY thinks...)
---This news report represents a new twist because except for former White House terrorism Czar Richard Clarke, there haven't been many high-profile former officials willing to go face-to-face with the Bush administration. According to Edmonds, she spent three hours with commission investigators in closed session.
---She told the newspaper that she told them about FBI information circulating in the spring and summer of 2001 suggesting that an attack using aircraft was just months away and the terrorists were in place. The Bush administration, meanwhile, has sought to silence her and has obtained a gagging order from a court by citing the rarely used "state secrets privilege".
---She told The Independent:

"I gave [the commission] details of specific investigation files, the specific dates, specific target information, specific managers in charge of the investigation. I gave them everything so that they could go back and follow up. This is not hearsay. These are things that are documented. These things can be established very easily.

"There was general information about the time-frame, about methods to be used ­ but not specifically about how they would be used ­ and about people being in place and who was ordering these sorts of terror attacks. There were other cities that were mentioned. Major cities ­ with skyscrapers."

---Edmonds was hired as a translator for the FBI's Washington field office on 13 September 2001, just two days after the Qaedaida attacks. Her job was to translate documents and recordings from FBI wire-taps.
---She said said it was clear there was sufficient information during the spring and summer of 2001 to indicate terrorists were planning an attack.
--- "Most of what I told the commission -- 90 per cent of it -- related to the investigations that I was involved in or just from working in the department. Two hundred translators side by side, you get to see and hear a lot of other things as well."
---"President Bush said they had no specific information about 11 September and that is accurate but only because he said 11 September," she said. There was, however, general information about the use of airplanes and that an attack was just months away.
---SO: She's accusing the Bush administration of doing a new version of Clinton's "It depends on what is is.."
---She also accuses Rice of using legalistic language, pointing to a a March 22 Washington Post article in which Rice said: "Despite what some have suggested, we received no intelligence that terrorists were preparing to attack the homeland using airplanes as missiles, though some analysts speculated that terrorists might hijack planes to try and free US-held terrorists."
---According to Edmonds, by using the word "we", Ms Rice told an "outrageous lie". She said: "Rice says 'we' not 'I'. That would include all people from the FBI, the CIA and DIA [Defense Intelligence Agency]. I am saying that is impossible."
---The paper adds: "It is impossible at this stage to verify Mrs Edmonds' claims. However, some senior US senators testified to her credibility in 2002 when she went public with eparate allegations relating to alleged incompetence and corruption within the FBI's translation department. "
---Will the Edmonds interview come up when Rice testifies? We'll see. But she will be under oath so no matter what this may not be the last we hear of the Edmonds allegations...
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 3:56 AM


TIGGER ARRESTED AT DISNEYWORLD: According to a news report, investigators "have arrested a Walt Disney World employee who worked as the character "Tigger" and charged him with molesting a 13-year-old girl and her mother while posing with them for pictures in February." We won't even talk about what happened with the person dressed as a goose.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 2:10 AM


UNWISE COMMENTS: A firestorm is underway in the blogosphere over some truly stunning comments by a leading liberal blogger. We won't go into all of it here, but will give you this link in which an indigant Michele Catalano comments on and runs the prominent blogger's later-deleted quote on the murders in Iraq. Here is the quote being run on many web logs:

Let the people see what war is like. This isn’t an Xbox game. There are real repercussions to Bush’s folly. That said, I feel nothing over the death of merceneries. They aren’t in Iraq because of orders, or because they are there trying to help the people make Iraq a better place. They are there to wage war for profit. Screw them.

---Glenn Reynolds aka InstaPundit offers a comprehensive cross section of reaction to this. And the amazed Moderate Voice (who also left a comment on Michele's site) will only say this:
--- The deleted quote is to this blogger what Howard Dean's scream was to Dean's candidacy.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 12:42 AM


RALPH AND RANDI LOSE IT DURING THE RADIO EXCHANGE YOU HAVE G-O-T TO READ: In The Moderate Voice's earlier post on listening to liberal talk radio Air America's debut TMV recounted how he turned on the car radio to hear afternoon host Randi Rhodes engaged in a heated argument with someone...who turned out to be Ralph Nader...and that Nader nearly lost it. What we didn't know until today was that Nader hung up (the frequency was a weak one so we missed that part). ALL liberals, conservatives, Democrats and Republicans (and Nader supporters) should click on this link for the Kos' transcript of that interview. It was truly highly entertaining compelling radio. Read it for yourself. Even if some of her assertions make your blood boil, it wasn't boring. (TMV caught the show again and it was again fun and provocative. So is Tony Snow's new non-liberal radio talk show by the way).
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 12:03 AM

Friday, April 02, 2004  

OUTRAGE OVER THE CARNAGE IN IRAQ continues to be heard over the radio airwaves, on cable TV, in newspaper editorial pages. But perhaps one of the best articulated statements on how many Americans feel comes from Bo Cowgill. Here's part of what he writes:

Arabs say the outside world makes life so unnecessarily hard on the Middle East. They are correct to say that life is hard in the Middle East, and they are correct that the West could make life easier. They are wrong to suppose that disgusting displays like this will make the West help Arabs. Instead, it will further the impression that the Arab world is full of disgusting, perverted terrorists.

Can you imagine: What would it take for you to walk into the street, pull a charred dead body from a burning car, beat this dead body and hang its torn limbs like ornaments on a tree? An entire crowd of people took this action today in Falluja, and celebrated while they did it. Another crowd cheered them on.

Who are these psychopaths? The answer is not that they are a small band of Baathist resistors. They appeared in ordinary clothes, willing to show their faces on television. There were dozens of them on the scene even before the fires were put out. How many would have arrived if they had known about the attacks beforehand?

....I have no idea whether this band of Iraqi sociopaths are representative of Iraqis as a whole. But to some extent, it didn't matter. This barbarism represents the disappointing failure of Iraqi civil society.The United States cannot and should not take this indefinitely. At some point, we will retaliate against guestures such as these. When that happens, life won't be easier for the Fallujan people. They will have deserved it.

---Indeed, you don't get any sense that policymakers, major political leaders in either political party, or the American public are going to be motivated to cut and run in Iraq due to what happened. If anything, there is a sense that the U.S. now needs to respond in some way (some want a super-hard response; others warn that if the U.S. overdoes it there could be backlash that plays into the terrorists grand strategy of using U.S. actions to recruit more militants).
---The murders in Falluja have seemingly crystalized a consensus that acts like this won't and can't influence U.S. policy. But, on the other hand, experts think the grisly images of this murder-and-mutilate-for-the-cameras atrocity could in the long run weaken U.S. resolve. The Moderate Voice believes Bo's heart-felt response is how most Americans feel.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 11:40 PM


WE GET KIND WORDS FROM A TALKING DOG AS WE TURN THREE MONTHS OLD: The Moderate Voice was officially launched on January 1. So it is especially gratifying to see this comment in one of the first blogs TMV read:

The Moderate Voice is the work of peripatetic neo-blogger and former journalist Joe Gandelman of San Diego and formerly points exotic with the Christian Science Monitor. Joe is a Connecticut Yankee in King Arnold's Court, and he has put together what he calls "your one stop news source"-- and that's largely true! Joe uses his journalistic sense of what's important for posts that concern the usually most important 5 or 10 events of a given day, which he presents in a legitimately fair and balanced manner (drives me up a wall that Joe actually wants to consider things on their merits before bashing the President!)... Joe also throws in zinging one liners, periodically... Joe occasionally steals a page from this blog with his "blog of the day" (many of which have ended up in the fair and balanced, albeit still nascent, blogroll). Joe now makes his living as a ventriloquist, and entertains the children of the West. I've decided to retire the "top dog" designation, or this blog would be a strong candidate...

---Again, THANKS. And TMV isn't just saying it when he says that The Talking Dog is one of his favorite liberal blogs because it's so totally blunt and at times screamingly funny (versus unintentionally funny as political leaders in both parties often are). In fact, we made it our first Blog of the Day (and got thank yous from some friends on the East Coast who sampled it as a result). In California's official language: Gracias!
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 1:18 PM


MORE ON HOAXES: We did a post on the Museum of Hoaxes with its list of the top 100 April Fools' Day jokes, and noted that our favorite was the Taco Liberty Bell.
---The folks at Oxblog noted they have some favorites too. David Adesnik pointed to Number 8:

In 1998 Burger King published a full page advertisement in USA Today announcing the introduction of a new item to their menu: a "Left-Handed Whopper" specially designed for the 32 million left-handed Americans. According to the advertisement, the new whopper included the same ingredients as the original Whopper (lettuce, tomato, hamburger patty, etc.), but all the condiments were rotated 180 degrees for the benefit of their left-handed customers. The following day Burger King issued a follow-up release revealing that although the Left-Handed Whopper was a hoax, thousands of customers had gone into restaurants to request the new sandwich. Simultaneously, according to the press release, "many others requested their own 'right handed' version."

---His colleague Patrick Belton's favorite hoax is:
... the BBC's 1957 Swiss Spaghetti Harvest, which the news show Panorama broadcast drolly in a segment which showed rustic Swiss peasants harvesting that year's bumper spaghetti crop, brought on by a mild winter. (You can watch the original broadcast on the BBC's website.) Of course, the entire broadcast was just a joke. But soon after the broadcast ended, the BBC's offices began to receive hundreds of telephone calls from their puzzled viewers, who either wanted to ask whether spaghetti actually did grow on trees, or who were eager to learn how they might grow their own spaghetti tree. To this, the BBC is reported to have replied they should "place a sprig of spaghetti in a tin of tomato sauce and hope for the best.

---My friends at Oxblog offered incredible examples of gullible people. You need to go with your gut feeling. I always do. For instance, I feel good about a NEW INVESTMENT I just made in a bagel breeding farm. The CEO of this exciting new ccompany explained as I signed up that bagels are actually MADE FROM BIRDS. They are made from seagulls. When is a seagull not a seagull? When it flies over a bay. Then it's a baygull.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 8:05 AM


AL QAEDA AND OKLAHOMA CITY BOMBING? Former White House terrorism Czar and current White House nemesis Richard Clarke writes in his new book that he suspected Al Qaeda had was linked to the Oklahoma City bombing. What Clarke has to say as he explains why he was suspicious is definitely intriguing -- and sounds much too coincidental for The Moderate Voice.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 7:41 AM


BOMB FOUND ON SPANISH RAILWAY TRACK: The BBC reports:"Spanish police have found an explosive device on a high-speed railway between Madrid and Seville, Interior Minister Angel Acebes said. Traffic on the line was halted after the discovery at Mocejon, in the Toledo area, Mr Acebes said. "
---Officials wouldn't say if the bomb fit the kind use by an specific group. Passengers were evacuated and put on buses.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 6:03 AM

Thursday, April 01, 2004  

THE NEW LIBERAL RADIO NETWORK HAS A BLOG: It's called The Majority Report. We found out about this blog via a blog called Bore America which is actually a conservative group blog. Chief writer Lonewacko says: "BoreAmerica occasionally monitors AirAmerica (a.k.a. "liberal talk radio") so you don't ever have to listen to it...We'll also be holding a contest to find a logo. Something like a radio listener falling asleep or something." Lonewacko's lively and info packed blog sponsors Bore America.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 6:21 PM


TO THOSE WHO CARE (and some don't): Here's another mixed review of Al Franken's radio debut as a liberal radio talk show host. Bottom line: a shakey start but shows potential. And the reviewer thinks the bankrollers' investment can eventually pay off.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 12:13 PM


WILL THE U.S. GO THE WAY OF SPAIN? Pollsters and media analysts are now saying the gruesome images of Americans being mutilated in Iraq could shake and destroy U.S. public support for the occupation and play a role in the presidential campaign. Television networks were first reluctant to show them, but now they're doing so. And newspapers are displaying photos showing charred bodies surrounded by crowds that seem in a party mood. To see some of these images yourself (WARNING: THEY ARE GRUESOME) click here.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 12:00 PM


Visit Citizen Smash's blog. Notice anything?
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 7:45 AM


New York Times' columnist Maureen Dowd has a devastatingly funny column about the White House requirement that Vice President Dick Cheney be questioned by the 911 Commission at the same time and session when President George Bush is questioned. Her title: Charlie McCarthy Hearings (named after a famous dummy....)
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 7:39 AM


SOMEONE ACTUALLY DID FALL FOR THAT NIGERIAN EMAIL SCAM -- AN APPARENT SCAMMER: The Register sites a Boston Herald story reporting that a US scientist who collected $600,000 for SARS research in China from students, colleagues and friends, actually handed the money over to Nigerian 419ers.
The Herald reports:"(Scientist Weldong Xu) claims he used the money to invest in a questionable Nigerian business offer he received via e-mail that promised a $50 million profit."
---The Moderate Voice humbly suggests he may have to hold his breath a long time while making license plates in prison as he waits for a payoff from his new email business pals. But he didn't seem to believe the police either:``The scammer's been scammed," a police official told the Herald. "He wouldn't acknowledge he'd been scammed. I tried to tell him he'd been scammed, but he never caught on.''
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 7:30 AM


The Museum of Hoaxes has a list of the Top 100 April Fool's Day Hoaxes of All Time. My favorite is the 1996 Taco Liberty bell when the Taco Bell Corporation announced that it bought the Liberty Bell from the federal government and was renaming it the Taco Liberty Bell. This led to furious citizens calling National Historic Park in Philadelphia where the bell is housed.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 7:13 AM


GOOGLE HAS ANNOUNCED AN ALTERNATIVE TO HOTMAIL: Uh, oh, Bill Gates is gonna have a bad day. Google announces Gmail which it calls "an experiment in a new kind of webmail, built on the idea that you should never have to delete mail and you should always be able to find the message you want." The BETA service boasts:
-- Search, don't sort.Use Google search to find the exact message you want, no matter when it was sent or received.
-- 1000 megabytes of free storage so you'll never need to delete another message.
--Messages grouped with all replies and displayed as a conversation.
--No pop-up ads. No banners. Only relevant text ads and links to related web pages of interest.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 7:02 AM


CONSERVATIVE MILITARY WEEK COLUMNIST'S WARNING TO PRESIDENT GEORGE BUSH: Karen Kwiatkowski, Lt. Col. USAF (ret.), writing in Military Week, says former White House terrorism Czar Richard Clarke's allegations won't go away, and she writes:

Clarke's public stance of honor and credibility has real staying power, and it has already inspired and heartened both new witnesses and the mainstream media to seek and reveal the truth. This truth is damaging to that single horse the administration is riding in this election race. The economy, the budget, the debt, veteran's benefits, military readiness, Medicare and social security crises, education, immigration – all are issues where the administration has sorely disappointed conservatives like me, as well as liberals and independents, in every state. If the war on terror horse stumbles, the administration falls.

---Of course, it remains to be seen if enough disguntled conservatives faced with a choice between John Kerry and President George Bush stay home or vote for Kerry. Right now it doesn't seem like that will happen. On the other hand, underlying conservative dissatisfaction over some Bush policies does seem more extensive then, say, Howard Dean voters' dissatisfaction over Kerry's policies. And then there's the Nader factor.
---Unquestionably, as the White House revised stance on National Security advisor Condoleezza Rice's testimony before the 911 commission shows, the President's men (and women) realize that foreign policy and terrorism policy are the glue that bonds many voters with GWB.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 6:44 AM


PAKISTAN SAYS "NEVER MIND" ONE MORE TIME: Once again Pakistani officials have revised claims that they killed or captured a major Al Qaeda bigwig. This time they are saying "Whoops!" to highly touted claims that a man they had killed was one of Osama bin Laden's intelligence chiefs. The man killed, they now saw, was a much less senior official. As we've warned here before, over the past few months there have been some breathless claims coming from Pakistani sources about bin Laden or his associates being on the brink of capture, etc. None of these recent claims have panned out in the end.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 6:26 AM


LIBERAL TALK SHOW'S DEBUT IS NOT AS BAD OR GREAT AS PREDICTED: Air America's liberal talk shows debuted yesterday, drawing a mixed bag of reviews amid signs that they could prove to have some entertainment value.
---Its centerpiece: All Franken's "The O'Franken Factor." But there were other shows, too. . Part of the network's problem is that it truly is a counter programming move -- a network designed to offset conservative Republican talk radio -- plua a skeletal operation, with an initial rollout on stations in five cities, plus on the Internet. Contrast that to conservative talk show radio with some 600 stations.
---How did it go? To answer that you must step back and look how the show fared as ENTERTAINMENT. Conservative talk shows can be entertaining, even if you don't agree with their host. Of course, there is some built in resistance to listening to a show of a totally different view of your own and it can color opinions, The Quibble N Bits blog wrote that he was "listening just to see how bad it is" and he did pan afternoon host Randi Rhodes as a whiney conspiracy theorist. (Tip on that blog thanx to InstaPundit). . But after listening to Franken's bumpy start, although he doesn't agree with him on many issues, he concluded:"Al Franken may do okay, at least from the little I'm hearing now. He's well spoken, although his sense of humor hasn't come through yet. He is raising some salient points...Better than I expected."
---The question is: if you STEPPED BACK and listened to the shows as ENTERTAINMENT, what did you hear? Here are three different impressions from:
---(1)THE MODERATE VOICE: TMV couldn't get Al Franken here in San Diego, but
he was on the road and did catch a little of Florida-based veteran talk show host Randi Rhodes, the only actual radio veteran in the AA lineup.
---I heard Rhodes in a long talk with an angry man who seemd seemed to be getting quite irate. He was accusing her of trying to talk over her, and basically saying her confrontational interview techique stunk and was not going to win people over, especially on the network's first day. Host and guest were trying to talk over each other. Only later did I realize she was bitterly debating Ralph Nader -- pressing him as to why he's running and expressing her personal anger at his potential spoiler role.
---It was VERY compelling radio - as compelling and confrontational as anything I have heard on The O'Reilly Factor (which I like), or Michael Savage (which I like because he is unpredictable) and more interesting than the interviews on Rush Limbaugh (who I find too predictable) It was definitely the flip side of conservative talk show radio where this time callers were agreed with a liberal host, calling her brilliant. Would I listen again? YES. The pace of her show was great and it was a different persective than I hear on the other radio talk shows. (I did not hear her make the "penis" jokes she reportedly made on the air, because I didn't get to hear her whole show).
---(2)Blogger GREG PIPER listened to "The Majority Report," hosted by comedienne Janeane Garofalo via the internet had this reaction:

My first impression was, this is kinda funny, but not that much, and it's just as conspiratorial and simple-minded as most conservative talk radio I've heard. They talk about conservatives just as simplisticly and stereotypically as conservative hosts talk about liberals..... I don't think they understand the difference between loving the principles and founding reasons for your country, and loving every policy proposed at any time by any politician...I think Air America will succeed as long as the investors don't get impatient. But only because it is dragging down competing programming with a liberal bent, especially local programming...It might even lead mainstream media reporting to be more even-handed.

---(3)THE WASHINGTON POST'S HOWARD KURTZ: Kurtz gave Franken's debut show a mixed review:
A good radio show has strong pacing and a deft mixture of ideology, confrontation and humor. Franken's "Factor" was meandering and discursive, almost NPR-like, sounding more like someone shooting the breeze at a dinner party than trying to persuade listeners. The "bumpers" between segments were soft and Muzak-like. With Franken speaking in a relatively low voice, the self-proclaimed "Zero Spin Zone" sometimes sounded like a zero energy zone.

---Of course, it's still early in the game. Here in San Diego our former Mayor Roger Hedgecock started his radio show some years ago to similar tepid reviews. Hedgecock learned quickly and became a smash local host and now gets rave reviews when he fills in for Rush Limbaugh.
---THE OUTLOOK? AA's hosts are on the right track in trying to entertain. If it looks like these shows get decent ratings they can add stations, sell more ad time, and turn it into a true network. Today America saw the embryo of liberal talk radio. But the ability of the hosts to entertain (even those with whom they disagree) and market forces will determine whether it survives into its teen years.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 2:13 AM


Go to Dean's World website. Do you notice anything?
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 12:50 AM


---1. Your wife left you for the manager of Chuck E. Cheese's because because he has more dough.
---2. Your husband left you to run away to Vegas and become a Kathy Lee Gifford groupie.
---3. Michael Jackson has announced he'll open a chain of Never Again Neverland boys sleepover camps. He'll visit each camp to get a feel of the camp population.
---4. Al Gore is growing new hair every day and proving to be a highly charismatic speaker.
---5. Bill O'Reilly was spotted going out to a bar with Al Franken. After a few beers they had their arms around each other, doing a rousing, gyrating air-guitar rendition of "Twist and Shout."
---6. OJ Simpson will do a car rental commercial again with the slogan:
"Love Hertz."
---7. McDonald's has developed low-carb, fat-free french fries -- and will now have at least 15 percent real beef in all its hamburgers(an increase of 10 percent).
---8. The FBI has found lethal Weapons of Mass Destruction in a San Diego junior high school boys' locker room (unwashed gym socks).
---9. Taco Bell is now using real Mexican recipes in its cuisine.
---10. The Washington Post reports that Joe Gandelman's dummy was the mastermind behind the original White House strategy to refuse to let Condoleezza Rice testify.
disclaimer these days because some folks can't take a truly lame joke)
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 12:28 AM


CARNAGE TO NUDGE A LEGENDARILY ANTSY PEOPLE: It's blatantly clear that the inhuman cruelty yesterday in the Iraq's Sunni Triangle was because Americans (rightfully or wrongfully) have gotten the reputation as a people who become squeamish if faced with long-term unspeakable bloodletting. The names "Somalia" and " Mogadishu" come to mind.
---The events entailed four Americans working for a security company being ambushed and killed, followed by a sadistic, enraged mob jubilantly dragging the burned bodies through the streets of downtown Falluja, and hanging at least two corpses from a bridge over the Euphrates River. Meanwhile, some 15 miles away, five American soldiers were killed by a bomb ripping through their armored carrier.
---But it's the extent of this cruelty -- gloating, publicity seeking, leering, merciless physical sadism -- that boggles the Western mind...and that's what masterminds behind these acts, or even spontaneous Iraqi lynch mobs, want: that events are so horrific and humiliating that the vast majority of Americans will say it's not worth it and demand a quick exit.
---How cruel was it? A Washington Post report about the event is mega-grisly, including a witness saying the Americans were killed "like slaughtered sheep" and there were ghastly images, even a picture of a 10 year old boy smashing the head of a burned up American corpse with his foot.
---So what do we make of it?
---The Moderate Voice agrees 100 percent with Newsweek and MSNBC analyst Howard Fineman that these murderous events are stagecraft. In fact, if you recall prior to the Iraq war, there were stories indicating Sadaam Hussein and his henchmen had studied Somalia. So had Osama bin Laden. It was a role model of a murderous tactic that WORKED (just as, sadly, the bombings in Spain that led to the downfall of the ruling government will probably be a role model for future terrorist operations.).
---Babies learn by how their parents react and adjust their behaviors and manipulative tactics accordingly. So do teenagers, nations, and terrorists. Should the U.S. cut and run due to savage, mind-boggling murders this tactic will be "cloned" and used again and again and again. Fineman writes:

Will the pictures from Fallujah have the same impact that the ones from Somalia had a decade ago? Bill Clinton flinched back then. Will George Bush? Here's why I ask: I've never thought that the Clarke-Condi battle would decide the presidential election. It's Iraq that will matter. The fundamental question: whether the invasion and occupation of that country has made America safer — or less...

Enemies of the American occupation of Iraq are all too aware of the impact of grisly imagery and tactics. Their theory is that American resolve will crumble once the voters (and leaders) are exposed to the unimaginable hell of war without rules. Modern technology being what it is, it took only a few hours for photos of charred and mutilated bodies — and the celebratory crowds around them — to make it onto the news Web sites of the Western world.... Voters are still hoping that the president's decision (on the Iraq war) was the right — and the wise — one in the long run, but they are having more doubts.

---The violence is to make Americans have more and more doubts and give in. This kind of bloody event was predicted in various press reports a year ago; it's easy to predict more of the same now...especially between now and election day.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 12:04 AM