July 31, 2004

Kerry On

The Command Post is running this report that the Kerry campaign bus stopped at a Wendy's where a group of Marines were eating lunch. Spotting them, Kerry walked over to shake their hands. The men were polite—all "yes, Sir," "no, Sir"—but made it clear to reporters afterward that they were Bush supporters and didn't appreciate Kerry's imposition on their time and attention.

What a surprise.

Posted by Attila at 02:10 PM | Comments (1)

Keeping Ourselves Honest

This is an amazing essay, by a writer for Esquire who despises George W. Bush but nonetheless forces himself to examine the war in Iraq as objectively as possible. It's one of the ballsiest things I've read in a long time ("most ovarian," perhaps, for those of us on the distaff side of the gender line—but this essay has nothing to do with sex).

I've seen it excerpted on other blogs, but I'm not going to do that because it just has to be read in its entirety. Everyone should read it, not just as an example of how a person might find Bush offputting and yet think the war has merit, but as one realization of what we all aspire to: a continual re-examining our beliefs. A determination to find our intellectual blinders—whatever they might be—and to take them off.

Via I Love Jet Noise.

Posted by Attila at 09:12 AM | Comments (0)

July 30, 2004

Actual Ad

From L.A.'s Music Recycler:

WANTED: homeless drummer with drug problem, ego, etc.
Posted by Attila at 11:04 PM | Comments (0)

Everything Gets Revised

Via Dean, the updated oaths for all five branches of the military (yes, they included the Coast Guard). Ooo rah.

Posted by Attila at 03:46 AM | Comments (0)

Hangin' With the Cool Kids Once More

I'll be going to Siggraph, the big computer graphics convention, again this year at the beginning of August, while my husband's away in the midwest researching his book. I don't happen to know jack about computer graphics; I'm just going for the parties and the movie (a film comprising all the latest promotional shorts and special-effects work in the industry; it's the highlight of the show, especially for slackers like me who are just there to glom off of others' brilliance).

It'll be much cheaper to go this year, since it'll be in L.A. I'll be my own Blogger's Alley.

They asked for a job title for my I.D. badge. I wrote Woman-About-Town.

"That makes sense," Attila the Hub commented. "You are sort of a cyber bon vivant."

In years past the rule for parties was this: if you could successfully forge your own invitations to a particular event, you were welcome there. That is, you have to have a good eye in this field, so if you were able to make the "look" of the fake invite convincing enough, the hosts always called it fair.

Now I don't have to forge any invites at all, since I'll be the guest of the Scanning King, who gets invited to everything. Probably I'll just hang out with his wife: we'll be the ones in the corner drinking and dishing. You'll know we had too much if we start composing poetry on the spot and loudly reciting it to innocent passers-by.

Posted by Attila at 02:56 AM | Comments (3)

The Double Helix

Francis Crick died on Wednesday. I'm still miffed about the Rosalind Franklin thing, but this isn't the day to get into that.*

I once lived with someone who lived with someone who shared a Nobel Prize with Dr. Crick in 1962. Figure that one out.

And at this moment I cannot remember who it was who had that dream about the double-helix—as I recall, it was monkeys dancing in two helical shapes. Somehow I think it was Crick, but I could well be wrong. Professor Purkinje, let me know. Or maybe I'll call my mom, who knows all this stuff.

Hat tip: James.

* I mean, what was the Nobel Committee thinking?—Franklin had been dead for four years when Watson and Crick were awarded the prize for figuring out the structure of DNA. If her cancer was indeed caused by her research, she died so they could get the prize—and so we could improve . . . well, everything. Wouldn't you think she deserves a Nobel footnote or something? Maybe a technical award, like those Oscars for computer programmers that aren't quite statuettes, but are more like plaques. No one on the Nobel Committee has called me for help with this. Not one. I sense a conspiracy. Someone alert Michael Moore.

Posted by Attila at 02:36 AM | Comments (2)

Andy Redeems Himself. Kind Of.

Okay. I take it all back. It's okay to send him money after all, if you really must.

Sullivan on Teresa Heinz Kerry:

Do her words matter? Probably not. But I have a couple of serious worries. THK is the classic hyper-rich liberal female. Like many absurdly wealthy people, she is not used to actually engaging people as equals. Few speak back to her. She is also unused to real debate. She has never run for office, and although her philanthropic record is stellar and deeply admirable, her political ideas are half-baked and run completely counter to the centrist message this convention has been so shrewdly sending out. So how did she get away with such a spot? I fear that she got what she wanted merely because she insisted; and that her insistence is enough to get her anything she wants. That is not a good omen for a future Kerry administration. We already endured one unelected condescender as co-president for eight years. But mercifully, Hillary Rodham Clinton is now a legitimate politician, elected in her own right, as all democratic leaders ought to be. THK is another matter.

It's hard not to like her. I'd love to have dinner with her. I'm sure she's a wonderful spouse, great mother, and peerless philanthropist. But she is now officially a liability for Kerry's campaign. And the campaign let it happen. If Kerry's advisers want to win, they'd better tell her to quiet down and take a backseat to the man who is actually running for office. And if she won't, someone, somewhere, is going to have to tell her to shove it.

Posted by Attila at 01:47 AM | Comments (0)

Europe's Anti-Semitism, Anti-Americanism

Via Photon Courier comes this amazing article by Per Ahlmark, the former Deputy Prime Minister of Sweden. Money quote:

The images many Europeans hold of America and Israel create the political climate for some very ugly bias. You have the Great Satan and the Small Satan. America wants to dominate the world—exactly the allegations made in traditional anti-Semitic rhetoric about the Jews. Indeed, modern anti-Zionist rhetoric portrays Israel's goal as domination of the whole Middle East. Such ideas are reflected in opinions polls in which Europeans claim that Israel and the US are the true dangers to world peace.

Ian Buruma, the British writer, claims that this European rage against America and Israel has to do with guilt and fear. The two world wars led to such catastrophic carnage that "never again" was interpreted as "welfare at home, non-intervention abroad." The problem with this concept is that it could only survive under the protection of American might.

Extreme anti-Americanism and anti-Zionism are actually merging. The so-called peace poster "Hitler Had Two Sons: Bush and Sharon," displayed in European anti-war rallies, combines trivialization of Nazism with demonization of both the victims of Nazism and those who defeated Nazism.

Much of this grows from a subconscious European guilt related to the Holocaust. Now the Holocaust's victims—and their children and grandchildren—are supposedly doing to others what was done to them. By equating the murderer and the victim, we wash our hands.

This pattern of anti-Zionism and anti-Americanism returns again and again. "The ugly Israeli" and "the ugly American" seem to be of the same family. "The ugly Jew" becomes the instrumental part of this defamation when so-called neoconservatives are blamed both for American militarism and Israeli brutalities and then selectively named: Wolfowitz, Perle, Abrams, Kristol, etc. This is a new version of the old myth that Jews rule the US.

Earlier this year, the editor of Die Zeit, Josef Joffe, put his finger on the issue: like Jews, Americans are said to be selfish and arrogant. Like Jews, they are in thrall to a fundamentalist religion that renders them self-righteous and dangerous. Like Jews, Americans are money-grabbing capitalists, for whom the highest value is the cash nexus. "America and Israel are the outsiders—just as Jews have been all the way into the 21st century," Joffe says.

The links between anti-Semitism, anti-Zionism, and anti-Americanism are all too real. Unless Europe's leaders roundly condemn this unholy triple alliance, it will poison Middle East politics and transatlantic relations alike.

That was amazing. I was beginning to wonder if any Europeans really got it—at least, outside the UK.


Posted by Attila at 01:28 AM | Comments (2)

Jeff Goldstein

gives us another campaign update:

Smoked a fatty with a clatch of Willy Nelson roadies during an early afternoon sound check, and I’m happy to report that there really are two Americas.  There must be.  Because weed of this quality doesn’t come from any America I know of, that’s for damn sure.

Off to find me some snacking chips.  Or maybe a Mallow Pie.  Developing…

update:  Time for a nap.

There's more where that came from. Go. Now.

Posted by Attila at 12:18 AM | Comments (0)

July 29, 2004


I guess they went with John Kerry.

That's not what I would have done.

Posted by Attila at 10:57 PM | Comments (0)

Lileks. Lileks. Lileks.

Make sure you really go read it, too. But here's a taste:

Let me be the first to say this about Kerry’s speech: I liked it better in the original French. This of course is a predictable twist on the remark about Buchanan’s stemwinder in ’92, famously described by some wag as sounding better in the original German. Hugh has been talking a lot this week about the Michael Moore factor at the convention, and whether his . . . peculiar remarks taint the party. Probably not. It won’t get reported in the dino media. If Pat Buchanan had said the Democrats woke up at 11 AM every day and tried to figure out how to screw white people today, I think that would get press. Moore says the Republicans wake at six and figure out how to screw minorities, and it’s ha ha colorful commentary from the merry prankster, and besides, Ann Coulter said some awful things, and besides, Pat Buchanan was a politician who actually got votes in the GOP primaries.

The last point is true, and relevant; it was made by a Democrat guest on Hewitt’s show. But it shows how things have changed. What makes a greater impact – getting some old flinty cranks in Vermont to pull the lever for you, or putting out a movie in every multiplex that practically accuses Bush of supplying box cutters to the 9/11 hijackers? Moore is a new-media politician, and just because he doesn’t stand for office doesn’t mean he’s not as much of a political operative as the people who prowl the hustings and grimace their way through a New England flap-jack photo-op. And spare me the Ann Coulter parallels. The day Ann Coulter shows up in the presidential box with a former POTUS, like Moore showed up with Jimmy Carter, we can talk.

I was at both conventions in 1992, and the GOP version was a dispirited affair. Clinton had sparkle, the big mo, and a foundering economy to hammer; Bush was your father’s Oldsmobile. “Change” was the mantra. After 12 years we needed “Change,” whatever that might be, and the sax-blowin’ shades-wearin’ hubba-double-Bubba ticket had a fresh cachet the Bush team could not match. The Buchanan speech was a disaster – and not just for its effect on the swingers. I remember sitting in a bar the night of the speech with a portly squat guy covered in GOP buttons, listening to his lament. “This isn’t my party,” he said. “Okay maybe he has a point here, or another point there, but that speech – that’s not my party.”

If Moore introduced Kerry and gave a typical speech – “The Republicans have hate for breakfast!” – how many delegates would later lament that their party had become something they no longer recognized? Don’t know. Just asking. But I do know that the 96 convention had a different attitude towards the nominees than I sense from the 04 DNC convention. Bush 41 never really fired up the troops. But in 96 people liked Dole. They knew in their bones he was going to crater, and they knew that the Dole on the stump was a dull version of the real thing. Bob Dole was smart, peppery, funny as hell (really) and lacking in that ponderous self-importance that settles into a Senator’s heart. He was really a good guy. And he was going to lose. Ah well.

I don’t sense the same affection for Kerry. I also don’t think it matters. Right now I have a browser window open to Fark, and a T-shirt ad shows Bush’s face with the logo “American Psycho.” What else do you need to know? As Teddy Kennedy said in his convention speech: “The only thing we have to fear is four more years of George Bush.” It’s really quite simple, isn’t it? We live in a manufactured climate of fear ginned up by war-crazed neocon overlords. There is no threat. The only thing we have to fear is Bush, who sits as we speak in the Oval Office sucking the marrow from Whoopi’s shin-bones.

If so, I wonder why anyone agreed to the stringent security policies that characterize this year’s conventions. Why the bomb-sniffing dogs? Why the snipers? Why the metal detectors, the invasive inspection of bags? Is it all an elaborate defense against Bush crashing the party and setting off a bomb belt, shouting God is Great, y’all!

No, they’re fearful of something else.

Damned if I know what, though. Damned if I know.

I really must make that man's blog a daily stop. He's such a damned good writer. Also, if I suck up to him enough he might get me onto the Hugh Hewitt show and I'll get famous; then this might turn into a steady job.

Posted by Attila at 01:44 AM | Comments (2)

July 28, 2004

Blog Names and Crosses

I'll bet I'm not the only person out there who wonders what Christopher Cross's middle name is. I mean, the site has "XXX" in it. LegalXXX: the legal part is clear, the XXX less so, until we find out what that middle name is. I'll bet it's Christian; that would make the most sense.

Posted by Attila at 04:05 PM | Comments (2)

Anyone but Andy

The consensus seems to be that no one wants to subsidize Andrew Sullivan's bandwith costs, which apparently are higher than those of any mere mortal.

Therefore, Laurence is popularizing a program to give our money to bloggers other than Andrew Sullivan.

1. When Andrew Sullivan begs for money, don't give him any.
2. Give money to a blogger other than Andrew Sullivan.
3. Post on your weblog that you're not giving money to Andrew Sullivan and that you're giving to some other blogger.
4. OPTIONAL: Write Andrew Sullivan and tell him you're thought about it and given your money to someone other than him.

My best thought is Ith, who suddenly has to move and now has to come up with first and last month's rent—along with replacing some of those durable goods she was sharing with her family members, and now can't as they all scatter in different directions.

She doesn't have a tip jar, so you'll have to actually wrap some cash in a thick piece of paper, and send it to her "disguised." Or do something equally ingenious.

Posted by Attila at 03:47 AM | Comments (0)

July 27, 2004

Where Angels Fear to Tread

The time has come to write about Annie Jacobsen, "Terror in the Skies," and Flight 327 from Detroit to Los Angeles. As most of you know, Jacobsen wrote a harrowing account of a flight in late June that appeared to reveal serious lapses in our airline security and in-flight protocols.

The original article is here; Jacobsen's follow-up is here. No, Women's Wall Street is not associated with The Wall Street Journal, and if you presumed it was I want you off my site. Now. Go. Away.

The main contenders here are Michelle Malkin (ably assisted by Spoons) and Donald Sensing (aided and abetted by The Commissar). Malkin feels that this was a sobering account of serious security breaches. Reverend Sensing feels it was a non-story (or, as he puts it later, a "shaggy dog story").

And they both have points. But they each get off the rails at various times, and:

1) Full disclosure: my sister is a half-Syrian musician. My father gave her blonde hair, but still—if you mess with her, I will mess with you, and I won't give it a second thought. Know that.

2) Annie J. is on a hair-trigger from the beginning of the flight (and the article). But the way she got there is interesting, and I think a lot of her fear can be laid at the feet of the airlines, airport security, and the Air Marshals. More on this later.

3) I believe the 14 Syrians on this flight were real musicians—not terrorists—but I still think "Terror in the Skies" is instructive. Sensing (post #3):

Do I think Islamofacsist terrorists would like to hijack an American airliner and either blow it up or use it as a terror weapon? Of course I think so. But that's a generality to which anyone can agree. The hard case is whether Annie's flight specifically was either a near-hijacking or was being cased for terrorist's future purposes. And on that question no certain answer can be given . . .

No. The Jacobsen article was a first-person account about the fears experienced on a flight by a woman who had reasons for grave concern (no second screening of passengers at the gate in Detroit, even after they had been to the airline restaurants; flight attendents failing to keep passengers from congregating by the cockpit door; an apparent lack of monitoring of the situation in the restrooms [later proved to be unfounded, as the restrooms were apparently checked by Air Marshalls throughout the flight for any bomb-making materials]).

Because of the way the Jacobsen article was written, it's easy to come away feeling that if this one instance was not some sort of probe by terrorists (and I don't believe it was), there is nothing to be learned from it. But there is. Jacobsen was simply being a good journalist, telling us what details she noticed in her hyper-alert state, and which details the FBI asked her about the most later (e.g., the McDonald's bag, which was in fact taken into one of the lavatories). She is being honest about her fears and state of mind, but also trying to give us as much detail as possible, so that we might evaluate her subjective experience as objectively as we can. She's been unjustly vilified for this.

4) My understanding of the ritual prayers required of Muslims is that they wash their hands before praying, and that the prayers must be done at certain times of day. This is shit we should know; it would ease our minds a bit, reduce the "terror" we feel. (See some of the commenters on the snarky Slate entry, especially the ones who aren't slinging around silly charges of "racism.")

5) It is apparently the norm for Middle Easterners (and some Mediterranean people) to congregate in the aisles and otherwise "misbehave" while they are flying, so there are certainly cultural differences at play ("par-taaaay," remarks one commenter at Little Green Footballs; she is married to a Syrian). Another woman, an Israeli, writes:

everyone here seems to find standing in the aisles, and hanging out in the aisles on the plane weird behaviour... well, you need to see my fellow Israelis flying ... especially on holiday flights form tel Aviv To Istanbul. or Cyprus... in a word .. pandemonium. i love my country men, and I'm proud of my country , but, darn, we Israelis are ppains in the assess in the sky.we have mega shplikas on planes.. the minute the plane is up in the air, everyone gets up, goes and blabs in the aisles, invades the food and drinks, sit on the doors, blocks the aisles, flirts , compares travel itineraries, find out your buddy from the army is 5 rows back and so you stand together in front of the sweradessess galley blabbing for 3 hours...and basically act as if its party time. el al stewardess can handle it... but i flew on an english charter last year from tel Aviv to London, when the steward almost started crying.. we were that bad.

She also explains that excellent airport security is a "great equalizer," and that once you've been through that security, "you are kosher." Which brings us back to one of Annie Jacobsen's main points—that she cannot quite bring herself to trust the way we handle pre-boarding security in the USA, given the magnitude of the 9/11 failure and the failure to check people once more at the gate before they get on the plane. (Would it be that hard to get a metal knife from a restaurant by the gate and sharpen it discreetly before bringing it aboard? No.)


6) The flight attendents should have told everyone on Flight 327 to sit down. When in Rome . . . one commenter has remarked that the flight crew was lax because they knew Federal Marshalls were on board. This is a scary idea.

7) Some commenters on Slate actually suggested that for Annie to go up to one of these "suspicious" Syrians and smile, recalling their earlier cordial moment, was culturally insensitive on her part, and would have been perceived as a come-on by the guy in the goatee. I'm having trouble understanding how returning a smile from someone when you are a guest in their country is a big thing to ask. The PC crowd from Slate helpfully suggests that Jacobsen should have had her husband do this, which ignores two pertinent facts: a) Annie herself was the person who had the earlier exchange with Mr. Goatee; and b) it shouldn't be that hard for someone—even a dirty, ignorant, can't-help-it Middle Easterner to pretend women are people, too. Think to yourself, "this is a person. Only without a penis." (Had Ms. Jacobsen been in the Middle East, it's fine to flop the logic and expect her to conform to cultural norms. As it was, all parties were in the West, where women are people.)

Am I still not getting through to you? What if a Jim Crow-era Southerner were in a Northern city in the 1950s, and he needed information from a black clerk at a store. Would it be the responsibility of the clerk to swap places with a white clerk, so as to make the Southerner feel more comfortable, or would the onus be on the immigrant from Jim Crow land to get over his prejudices and relate to the black person as a human being? Some things are not just culturally relative, and the humanity of all persons is one of them.

8) One of Jacobsen's pivotal points was that airport security here in the U.S. of A ain't quite what it is in Europe, and that fact hardly reassures us when we try to give our own authorities the benefit of a doubt. That is, if Detroit had required that everyone pass through security again before boarding the plane, the article "Terror in the Skies" probably wouldn't have been written.

9) Another of Jacobsen's major points was that no one seemed to be minding the store once the plane was in the sky. Of course, we now know that flight attendents have been instructed to tell passengers to stay in their seats and not form lines for the loo. Again—had this policy gone into effect one day earlier, no "Terror in the Skies." And no blogstorm, either.

At no point does "Sensible" Donald Sensing discuss the fact that both the airlines and the Air Marshalls aboard the plane allowed groups of Syrians to congregate outside the cockpit door. Nor does he seriously address the issue of there being no second screening of passengers at the gate, preferring to assume that once passengers are screened, that's it—anything they have with them is assumed to be okay (even the McDonald's bag, where it's a silly claim for him to make: the McDonald's bag was clearly acquired after the passengers were screened).

10) So far the mainstream media isn't covering it, but there have been reports of "probing" by jihadists, and—for anyone who hasn't read it—there is this report by James Woods of a possible pre-9/11 trial run. And:

11) I personally don't believe bin Laden—or any of his colleagues—have given up on the idea of making airplanes go boom. Operation Bojinka was foiled in '95, and the 9/11 plot was half-foiled (in that only two of the intended targets got hit). Keep in mind that certain targets can capture the terrorist imagination: the World Trade Center apparently did, to the point that after one set of jihadists tried to bring it down in '93 another went ahead and did it in '01. Logic suggests that AQ will concentrate on a ground attack, but I don't think they work entirely on logic. They will hit us again in the skies, probably by making planes blow up in midair, Operatioin Bojinka-style.

12) I haven't been able to independently corroborate the claim that there is a Federal "only two of any given ethnicity per airplane" rule on questioning passengers. (But the Norman Mineta memos were clearly designed to intimidate the airlines. Also, see Patterico's thoughts on the effects of the lawsuits brought by the ACLU, and this Front Page article on how the ACLU is undermining security.)

13) Neither have I been able to verify Clinton Taylor's theory in this NRO article that the band might well have been Nour Mehana, "the Syrian Wayne Newton," and a handful of backup musicians.

14) To try to get news from KFI Los Angeles is just crazy, and this account of the Flight 327 incident is ludicrous; the supposed Federal Marshalls involved will neither identify themselves, nor describe what Annie was doing that was supposedly so dangerous. I would discount this entirely unless these "sources" are willing to go on-record, and explain the discrepancies between their account and Jacobsen's. Or at least be specific in their criticisms of her actions. So far as we know, all she did was sit in her seat, fret about the safety of her family, and attempt to exchange a smile with a Syrian. (The link I've given for the KFI story is a Google cache, since they apparently don't have permalinks for KFI news items. Totally bogus.)

15) Annie Jacobsen's biggest blind spot is her apparent assumption that if you don't see the government doing something in a big, obvious way, it isn't being done. That can, of course, be a dangerous attitude. But it's not hard to see where she got it. And the opposite attitude, "it's fine, we're safe. The Feds have it under control" is more dangerous.

16) I don't think Annie is a racist. Hell, I don't think Arabs are a race.

Now be safe. And don't try to take those knitting needles on the plane.

UPDATE: Some fact-checker I am. It's "Jacobsen," not "Jacobson." But for your Googling pleasure, here it is—wrong: Annie Jacobson, Annie Jacobson, Annie Jacobson, Annie Jacobson, Annie Jacobson, Annie Jacobson.

Annie Jacobson. Hey—I was digging the traffic.

Posted by Attila at 01:41 AM | Comments (0)

July 26, 2004

The Dean Esmay Pledge

Dean has an interesting question on his site, and a strong challenge to American conservatives and libertarians, should Kerry be elected President:

How many of you will have the patriotism to say, "I disagree with many of his policy directions, I do not think he is conducting our foreign policy in the right way, but I will do my best to get behind him and support him until elections come around next time?"

I'm genuinely curious. For that is the stance I intend to take. I will refuse to call him traitor, loser, liar, incompetent. He will be my President, my Commander In Chief, the Chief Executive of a great nation, elected by the will of a majority of the electors in these 50 great united States. So even if he does things I disagree with in conducting foreign policy, I will say, "I respectfully disagree with the President's directions, but I will do my best to express my dissent respectfully and hope that I am mistaken and that he has made the proper decisions after all."

I keep thinking about the Oklahoma City bombing. The day it happened, Rush Limbaugh told people it was time to get behind the President of the United States and not to criticize the decisions he made that day—and he said it with passion. For Limbaugh, all partisan concerns stopped in the wake of a terrorist threat. That's how it ought to be.

My version of the Esmay Pledge contains the caveat reiterated by many of his commenters: I'll keep my criticisms respectful, but if he lies to the country as its Commander-in-Chief I will call him on that.

Anything less would be unpatriotic.

Posted by Attila at 01:37 PM | Comments (7)

In Retrospect, It Makes Sense

Via Mikal comes this fabulous link to a group of libertarian/conservative goths (some of whom, by their spelling, reside outside the U.S.).

Posted by Attila at 01:25 PM | Comments (0)

DemCon 2004

BoifromTroy, guest-blogging over at Wonkette's digs, reports breathlessly (in that timeless Wonkette style) that Ted Kennedy isn't too drunk just yet:

Blogger Off the Fence reported that at one point last night at the MA delegation party, Kennedy did not have a drink in his hand!

We thought about trying to reach the senior Senator from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, but he couldn't be reached for comment because he was refilling his boot flask.

Posted by Attila at 01:18 PM | Comments (0)

July 24, 2004

They Say It'll Be Close

Ahoy, Maties.

This AP story gives us a summary of the map as it now stands:

BOSTON - John Kerry narrowly trails President Bush in the battle for the 270 electoral votes needed to win the White House, as he makes his case at the Democratic National Convention this week to topple the Republican incumbent.

With three months remaining in a volatile campaign, Kerry has 14 states and the District of Columbia in his column for 193 electoral votes. Bush has 25 states for 217 votes, according to an Associated Press analysis of state polls as well as interviews with strategists across the country.

"It's a tough, tough map. I think it's going to be a close race," said Democratic strategist Tad Devine, who helped plot Al Gore's state-by-state strategy in 2000 and plays the same role for Kerry.

"But looking back four years, we're much stronger now. I think we're going into this convention in great shape," he said.

Both candidates are short of the magic 270 electoral votes. The margin of victory will come from:

* TOSSUPS — Bush and Kerry are running even in 11 states with a combined 128 electoral votes. Florida, Ohio, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Wisconsin, Michigan and West Virginia are the toughest battlegrounds. Two other tossups, Pennsylvania and Oregon, could soon move to Kerry's column.

* LEAN KERRY — Maine, Minnesota and Washington (a combined 25 electoral votes) favor Kerry over Bush by a few percentage points. Gore carried them in 2000.

* LEAN BUSH — North Carolina, Colorado, Louisiana, Arizona, Virginia, Arkansas and Missouri (a combined 73 electoral votes) give Bush modest leads. He won all seven in 2000.

All total, 21 states are in play. Some will bounce between "lean" to "tossup" throughout the campaign.

But there's this to consider:

Four years ago, Bush won 30 states and their 271 electoral votes — one more than needed. Gore, who won the popular vote, claimed 20 states plus the District of Columbia for 267 electoral votes.

Since then, reapportionment added electoral votes to states with population gains and took them from states losing people. The result: Bush's states are now worth 278 electoral votes and Gore's are worth just 260.

Which is one reason that, in my optimistic moments, I envision a landslide for Bush. Though we'll see about that.

I do not, for the record, believe Florida is in play. Not with the panhandle turning out in force: that's tens of thousands of votes. No. Florida will go to the GOP.

And then, there's the Pennsylvania factor:

Of the states won by Gore, Pennsylvania is by far Bush's top target. The president has spent millions of dollars in the state on commercials and has visited it more than any other contested state — 30 trips since his inauguration.

For Kerry, losing Pennsylvania would create a virtually insurmountable electoral vote gap.

On the other hand, I don't believe California is in play at all—Arnold, Nixon and Reagan notwithstanding, the Bay Area and LA will probably keep this one in Kerry's column. But I'm still going to vote my little heart out. Of course, if I'm wrong Kerry might as well take his dollies and go home.

Hat tip: Newsfeed.

Posted by Attila at 07:24 PM | Comments (0)

Talk About Your Animal Planet

One rainy day in a Washington, D.C. park, the Commissar, Bill (of InDC) and Jeff Goldstein (of Protein Wisdom; you'll have to go there to see his picture, since it doesn't show up in the post) got together to observe a gathering of anti-war protesters. The result? Moonbats in the Mist, an homage to a dying American species.


Go; read; look.

Posted by Attila at 05:39 PM | Comments (1)

July 23, 2004

Roots, Branches, Leaves

La Shawn talks about what it's like to be Black in America, with no knowledge of where your family came from in Africa—no records, nothing.

It's an interesting question, how much this stuff matters to us. How much meaning it has. How much meaning we give it.

Do you have a family tree? Does it enrich your life? How far back does it go?

Posted by Attila at 09:11 AM | Comments (1)

Not a Bad Idea

Someone has started the first newsfeed meant specifically for bloggers and news junkies. This does look like it's a good complement to The Command Post.

The name actually is "Newsfeed." The slogan actually is, "news for bloggers. News for junkies."

And there's some sort of deal going wherein I apparently get a free T-shirt if I refer enough people over there (though perhaps I have to share it with Michele). So click away; do it for the children.

Posted by Attila at 08:09 AM | Comments (2)


I took the day off yesterday. I had the chance to spend time with my husband, and it was lovely.

Missed me, didn't ya?

Posted by Attila at 07:54 AM | Comments (0)

July 21, 2004

Politics Made Lyrical

Jeff Goldstein has a series of suggested names the Ben & Jerry's people can use for their Ted Kennedy tribute ice cream. My favorite?—Scotch Almond Neat, and no, I don’t want any goddamn water with it.

Go, now. Linger. Read his poem about Sandy Berger, while you're there.

Posted by Attila at 12:34 PM | Comments (0)

On "Trousergate"

There are all kinds of sub-issues related to the Sandy Berger story. I still don't have clarity on the down-his-pants (or in-his-socks) vs. in-his-pockets issue, and I'm not sure I care about that: he concealed this material in his clothing, and that's that. He claims that only the handwritten notes were in his jacket and pants (and possibly socks), but we'll see. I'm a good deal more concerned with the two events he claims were accidents: removing top-secret documents, and destroying top-secret documents.

This guy was National Security Advisor. One would think that he can handle the basics of the job—like preserving the integrity of classified documents, and knowing what he's putting into his leather portfolio.

Clearly, he's either incompetent, or covering up for Clinton.

But even if this is all the result of carelessness, it's an egregious lapse. Clinton should be embarrassed that this guy, who cannot handle the basic requirements of his job, was his National Security Advisor. Instead, he's laughing it off, which may say something about how seriously he takes the security issues facing this country to this day.

My newspaper-reading friends tell me you still have to dig to find mentions of this story in either the LA Times or the NY Times, which is outrageous.

Stephen Green had a good opening volley on the story, and is covering it well; be sure to scroll around on his main page after reading this entry.

The Irish Lass has a nice roundup; once more, you might take the time to do some scrolling, since she's all over this.

Prof. Reynolds remarks:

[T]he decision to charge someone, even someone admittedly guilty, is always a matter of discretion, and criminal charges against a former National Security Adviser are a rather big deal. It's easy to understand why the Justice Department might be reluctant to bring such charges even if it's satisfied that all the elements of the crime are present.

To which Dr. Joyner replies:

Quite true. I'd like to get a better explanation of exactly what Berger was trying to accomplish and let this one percolate a bit more before deciding what punishment, if any, is appropriate. Berger gave many years in the public service and, so far as I'm aware, this is the first time he's even been accused of anything remotely sinister. Even aside from the baffling issue of why, I would be interested in knowing--if it's knowable--what harm Berger's theft caused.

There has to be a consequence for this type of behavior, though. If a former National Security Advisor-- invested with so must trust that it never even occurs to anyone that he needs to be monitored while in a room with highly classified material--can plead "oops" on something so blatant, I don't know how we can ever hold a soldier accountable again.

As usual, you'll also want to go to James for the best links to hard news sources on this issue.

Byron York, writing in National Review Online, has two major points. To begin with, he feels there's no way this was accidental:

It appears that some of the evidence in the case casts doubt on Berger's explanation. First, Berger has reportedly conceded that he knowingly hid his handwritten notes in his jacket and pants in order to sneak them out of the Archives . . . Berger's admission that he hid the notes in his clothing is a clear sign of intent to conceal his actions.

Second, although Berger said he reviewed thousands of pages, he apparently homed in on a single document: the so-called "after-action report" on the Clinton administration's handling of the millennium plot of 1999/2000. Berger is said to have taken multiple copies of the same paper. He is also said to have taken those copies on at least two different days. There have been no reports that he took any other documents, which suggests that his choice of papers was quite specific, and not the result of simple carelessness.

Third, it appears that Berger's "inadvertent" actions clearly aroused the suspicion of the professional staff at the Archives. Staff members there are said to have seen Berger concealing the papers; they became so concerned that they set up what was in effect a small sting operation to catch him. And sure enough, Berger took some more. Those witnesses went to their superiors, who ultimately went to the Justice Department . . . . The documents Berger took — each copy of the millennium report is said to be in the range of 15 to 30 pages — were highly secret. They were classified at what is known as the "code word" level, which is the government's highest tier of secrecy. Any person who is authorized to remove such documents from a special secure room is required to do so in a locked case that is handcuffed to his or her wrist.

York finds Berger's focused pilferage highly interesting, since it appears that the Clinton administration's handling of the millennium plot has been the subject of a lot of debate and considerable criticism:

The report was the result of a review done by Richard Clarke, then the White House counterterrorism chief, of efforts by the Clinton administration to stop terrorist plots at the turn of the year 2000. At several points in the September 11 commission hearings, Democrats pointed to the millennium case as an example of how a proper counterterrorism program should be run. But sources say the report suggests just the opposite. Clarke apparently concluded that the millennium plot was foiled by luck — a border agent in Washington State who happened to notice a nervous, sweating man who turned out to have explosives in his car — and not by the Clinton administration's savvy anti-terrorism work. The report also contains a number of recommendations to lessen the nation's vulnerability to terrorism, but few were actually implemented.

The after-action review became the topic of public discussion in April when Attorney General John Ashcroft mentioned it in his public testimony before the September 11 commission. "This millennium after-action review declares that the United States barely missed major terrorist attacks in 1999 and cites luck as playing a major role," Ashcroft testified. "It is clear from the review that actions taken in the millennium period should not be the operating model for the U.S. government."

In May, a government official told National Review Online that the report contains a "scathing indictment of the last administration's actions." The source said the report portrayed the Clinton administration's actions as "exactly how things shouldn't be run." In addition, Clarke was highly critical of the handling of the millennium plot in his book, Against All Enemies.

It is not clear how many copies of the report exist. Nor is it clear why Berger was so focused on the document. If he simply wanted a copy, it seems that taking just one would have been sufficient. But it also seems that Berger should have known that he could not round up all the known copies of the document, since there were apparently other copies in other secure places. Whatever the case, the report was ultimately given to the September 11 Commission.

What a clumsy, stupid thing to do. If the intention was what York is implying—to cover up the Clinton Administration's incompetence and lassitude regarding national security—Berger should have the book thrown at him. He is, essentially, Clinton's Rosemary Woods.

Posted by Attila at 07:33 AM | Comments (9)

July 20, 2004

Sizzle vs. Steak

I know everyone is upset about Alex S. Jones' piece in the Los Angeles Times. And, of course, there is a sense that the L.A. Times wants to somehow reverse the tide, and get people to read more Dead Tree Media again—especially the Times—and fewer blogs.

But the LAT published a piece critical of the blogosphere for the same reason any of us write provocative blog entries.

They did it for the hits.

Posted by Attila at 03:52 AM | Comments (0)

Shall I Buy a Book, or Abort My Baby?

I have a few things to say about the Amy Richards story.

First of all, this is what it is, boys and girls. Abortion in America. I've read a sampling of the articles about people who are shocked—shocked!—about the story of Amy Richards and the selective reduction she had when she found out she was pregnant with triplets.

When I found out . . . I felt like: now I'm going to have to move to Staten Island. I'll never leave my house because I'll have to care for these children. I'll have to start shopping only at Costco and buying big jars of mayonnaise. Even in my moments of thinking about having three, I don't think that deep down I was ever considering it.

I think the problem people have is with the apparent nonchalance, the sort of frivolity they see in her decision.

My immediate response was, I cannot have triplets. I was not married; I lived in a five-story walk-up in the East Village; I worked freelance; and I would have to go on bed rest in March. I lecture at colleges, and my biggest months are March and April. I would have to give up my main income for the rest of the year. There was a part of me that was sure I could work around that. But it was a matter of, Do I want to?

Ultimately, she decided to kill her two twins and let the singleton live.

But the fact is, most abortions are had because of a much smaller level of inconvenience. A lot of abortions are chosen by high school girls and college women who could easily make adoption plans and deliver healthy babies. They could give this gift to the world and themselves by delaying less than a year of schooling. And in most cases, they wouldn't even need to go on bedrest.

The problem people are having is with the attitiude. Society's stance is, "I don't mind young women having abortions as long as they feel bad about it. Provided they agonize over the decision, it's okay."

Say what? "We don't mind your terminating the pregnancy, but you must feel some guilt."

I have a friend who got pregnant when she was in college. She did the expected thing and got an abortion. They stayed in touch. She once told me she felt sentimental about this particular guy, though they'd broken up long before.

"Why?" I asked.

"You know," she replied. "Blood of my blood."

"If you're so weepy about it, why did you guys kill the baby?" I asked.

We want our daughters to do the convenient thing. We want them to eliminate the fetuses, because it would break their little teenage hearts to give their babies away. We want sentimentality, but only in short, staccato bursts. ("She shouldn't have to give her baby away. So we're encouraging her to kill it.")

Plenty of women have abortions for reasons a lot more frivolous than selective reduction. At least in the case of selective reduction there is a significant chance that one or more babies would die anyway. Not so with a healthy singleton inside a 20-year-old girl.

We need to re-think our approach as a society, because our current position is, "hey, one term in your college education is worth more than a human life. It's your body. This entity is no more significant than an appendix."

Then we are surprised when someone socialized in this culture takes us at our word.

There is no "safe, legal and rare." We are way beyond that kind of thinking. It is a dodge. It is a lie.

Where we are is, women and girls put their own convenience ahead of the lives growing inside them. And the men in their lives—and often their own parents—pressure them to do it.

Why do we want so much to pretend that it's something other than what it is?

Secondly, I'm tired of hearing abortion compared with the raising of a child. That's a false dilemma, and most of you know it. Women should have these children and let them be adopted into loving homes.

And, third, this is all too real to me. I had an abortion when I was 19, mostly because my boyfriend made it clear that he would make my life miserable if I gave birth to the baby. (He did anyway, but that's another story.)

I felt no regrets until a few years ago, when the failure of my infertility treatments led to to realize that was my one chance to have a biological child. And now, married and living in a nice house in the suburbs, I've been waiting for six years, and must resign myself to another long wait—a year or two, they say—while the adoption process rolls along. It wouldn't take so long if more girls and women made the right choice. And I'd feel much better asking them to do the right thing if I had myself.

Reading the original comments on Michele's entry made me cry over the tragedies of those who have suffered miscarriages and infertility: a new life is a gift. It really is. We should, at the very least, accord it some respect.

And twins and triplets? I've wanted mutiples since the moment my husband and I decided to have three "pre-embryos" put inside me during our first in-vitro cycle, knowing we would never selectively reduce, unless my own life was in danger. I had to think long and hard about whether I could manage bedrest and a high-risk pregnancy. I'm 5'1", and at this time I weighed maybe 110 pounds. One implanted, and I was pregnant for a few days before it died. That was two years ago. I went through two more IVF cycles. No dice.

Even now, though, I hope: at the adoption agency I wrote down that we want twins. The odds are long, of course.

In conclusion, I'm a hypocrite. Because I'm just as appalled by Richards' brutality and callousness as anyone else is. And I would have adopted her twins in a trendy, intellectual New York minute.

Repeal Roe v. Wade. Take this issue back to the states. And let's slow this thing down. Please.

UPDATE: I finally got a chance to read Michelle Malkin's thoughts on this. She has a useful post on the article, and some thought-provoking comments by readers as well.

Posted by Attila at 01:47 AM | Comments (2)

July 19, 2004

Free Sex!

This is really cute: an organization that calls itself "FTV," or Fuck the Vote, has decided the way to convert Bush voters is to bed them. Since they are "better looking" than us, and "hotter," they are going to use "the only means" at their disposal to dissuade us from voting for Bush. (They said it; I didn't.)

Visit the site, but here's a taste:

SEXY LIBERALS OF THE U.S. UNITE in taking back the government from the sexually repressed, right-wing, zealots in control! Everyone knows liberals are hotter than conservatives - we look hotter, we dress hotter, our ideas are hotter, and we are infinitely hotter in the sack. We must use this to our advantage - as one more weapon in a diverse arsenal to strip the conservatives of their power (by stripping them of their clothes first).

Believe it or not, even the most seemingly deeply rooted right-wing ideologue can be manipulated by sex. As we all know, the sex drive is a powerful beast that has the potential to change people. People lie for sex, they cheat for sex, they even kill for sex - and you can be sure that they will change the way they think (and therefore vote) for sex. All you need to be armed with are your sexy progressive values, a razor-sharp wit, your genitalia, and a mindset that doesn't mind taking one for the team.

At Fuck The Vote we provide a Pledge Sheet that can be used conveniently before becoming physically intimate with a conservative, The Pledge Sheet asks the signee to make a promise to vote for anyone but George Bush in the November election. FTV has not endorsed a single candidate but recommends strategic voting. We also encourage FTV fans to take road trips this summer to swing(er) states to collect pledges. If you collect a pledge let us know about it on the Swinger States page! Have safe fun fucking over Bush while fucking for votes.

I'd encourage anyone to go ahead and sign the pledge offered them by an FTV "model," take the Halloween candy, and then vote their conscience anyway. All's fair.

Hat tip: Mikal.

UPDATE: Right on the Left Beach reminds me to tell you that this site is as UN-WORKSAFE AS IT GETS. It's not so much the images it employs, which are rather tame, but the narrative audio that plays during your visit, informing you—and anyone within earshot—just how slutty liberals are and how homely conservatives are, and exactly how badly we all need to be f'd. (The actual word "fuck" is used repeatedly, and not as an expletive in the least.) Be careful out there.

Posted by Attila at 03:48 PM | Comments (7)

July 18, 2004

Mission: Highly Improbable

I slept too late today, and I'm stiff all over. Yesterday evening the Hub Spouse and I had a few friends over. Which marks the first time we've entertained here since 1998 (a birthday party for a friend) and 1999 (when my husband was making his little indie movie, and we filmed it here).

I kept it small (12 people), and tried to make it manageable. The largest ulterior motive was to create an incentive for me to straighten up the house a little bit. That worked, as far is it went, though there's still plenty to do. The living room was still a horror story: 25% of the floor space was taken up by piles of magazines and papers. So a few recalcitrant piles certainly remain. I did clear a path to the husband's Emmy awards, in case anyone wanted to check them out (someone did). [Come to think of it, there was a gathering for my husband's family here in the summer of 2000, if that counts, wherein there was clutter around the edges, and we had houseguests in 2001, with clutter rampant.]

And of course the motive behind de-cluttering is to clear things out to the point that we can have a social worker over here without her running away, screaming that we're unfit to be parents. (Yes. My ulterior motives have ulterior motives.)

Still, once the spouse and I talked about having a party at all we began to realize—or admit out loud—how much my clutter cuts us off socially. Ideally, my husband would like to be able to have the writers who work for him over here: it's only right.

I wonder if this particular soiree occurred because I didn't want to get to the point of no return, and die among piles of magazines like those poor clutterers one reads about in the newspapers.

This party was mostly my friends, though they weren't all people who knew each other; I was trying to stay away from the dynamic wherein people sit around talking about their shared history. And, just to be fair, there will be a party this fall skewed toward my husband's friends, to which I'll only invite a couple of my own.

The victories: 1) I only got irritated once, and that was when I snapped at my bestest guy friend for something that was irrelevant (and none of my business). For me, no moments of panic, no "oh shit, it's all ruined! go home everybody, my grand plans have been foiled!" is a big achievement. I don't enjoy the fact that I was an asshole for five seconds, but on the Attila Girl scale that's small stuff. I'll make my amends, and life will go on.

2) While mentally taking notes on "what worked, what didn't" for the next party, I was able to recognize and tell myself that more things went well than went wrong. That's big stuff for me, considering how much of a perfectionist I am.

So we need to do this a minimum of 2-4 times a year. And this one event had huge symbolic importance.

(Little Mr. Mahatma: you and your wife—and the boys, if the gathering's large enough to absorb their energy—are at the top of the list for the next Attila Party; I was concerned about keeping it small enough for people to fit onto my little balcony. Thought you'd want to know.)

Posted by Attila at 04:14 PM | Comments (3)

July 16, 2004

Moseying Down Memory Lane

Allah has a new poster idea for the Kerry-Edwards campaign:


This should really energize the campaign.

Posted by Attila at 06:57 PM | Comments (2)

Goldstein Gets Serious

Plenty of people were deceived—headline writers and headline readers alike. And now Jeff Goldstein explains patiently why "no connection between Saddam and 9/11" does not mean "no connection between Saddam and al Qaeda."

Featuring the words of some people who would know. Like Bill Clinton.

Posted by Attila at 06:14 AM | Comments (4)

July 15, 2004

Good Riddance to Bad Amendments

The egregious constitutional amendment defining marriage for the whole country just went down in flames today. Nice big legislative fireballs.

I would have been pretty exercised about this issue if I'd ever really believed that either 1) it had a prayer of passing, or 2) Bush was sincere about this hoo-ha, and wasn't just being told, "you've got to do it, Mr. President. The base won't show up if it doesn't look like you're making an effort." (And that's fair enough: it isn't as if he gets any credit at all for being more liberal than, say, Ronald Reagan. He's far more centrist than the Great Communicator was, but the liberal masses don't see that [any more than Ron Reagan, Jr., does].)

And my passion on this isn't even due to my being more "tolerant" on gay issues than many: I truly think this was an attempt to violate states' rights. I realize there are some folks I can have a civil discussion with who believe hetero marriage is a societal foundation, and that's cool. They must do as they see right. But a true political conservative must exercise reason and not attempt to use the Constitution to settle every argument that might cause social adjustment.

To put it another way: Roe v. Wade put an end to our national debate on abortion, and we no longer have this decided on a state-by-state basis. If a constitutional amendment were successful in doing this, wouldn't it only be a few degrees less grotesque than to solve the issue by judicial fiat? It's a "one size fits all" approach.

Here's Senator John McCain, whom I usually disagree with, passionately:

"The constitutional amendment we're debating today strikes me as antithetical in every way to the core philosophy of Republicans. It usurps from the states a fundamental authority they have always possessed and imposes a federal remedy for a problem that most states do not believe confronts them.

Says James of Outside the Beltway:

BoiFromTroi has a roundup of blogger and other reactions, including from the apparently semi-unretired Discount Blogger, Michael Demmons. He also links a statement by the Log Cabin Republicans. No word yet from the Mrs. Butterworth Libertarians.

From now on, my political affiliation is Mrs. Butterworth Libertarian. I expect to be so addressed in all debates. ("What you MBL nutjobs don't understand . . ." "You pro-war idiots betray everything Mrs. Butterworth was supposed to stand for." "Fuck you and your whole Butterworth Wacko crowd." "The thoughtful Butterworthians at least do their homework. You trounce on that tradition.")

Thank you.

UPDATE: The technical problems that kept BoiFromTroy from loading on my creaky old Macintosh computer have melted away into thin air, and now I can proudly link him—so you can see for yourself how he excerpted the Log Cabin Republican statement. Oh, happy day!

Posted by Attila at 01:55 AM | Comments (4)

The Copyeditor's Dilemma

I know I misspelled a word two entries ago. But I'm off-duty, and since I'm not getting paid for this, I'm not correcting it. Hah.

UPDATE: Fixed. I also updated the headline on this post, to reflect the most-current form of the term "copyeditor."

Some people take Prozac. Some get jobs that just lead them deeper into their diseases.

Posted by Attila at 12:27 AM | Comments (0)

Peace, Baby.

This kind of thing makes me sick.

But it's the reason we're not going to see any peace between Israelis and Palestinians any time soon: Palestinians are taught to hate Israel and Israelis from such an early age. There is a victim mindset, but not the passive kind we see in the States.

It's a living, breathing, flowering kind of hate. And it's lethal.

Via Laurence.

Posted by Attila at 12:19 AM | Comments (0)

July 14, 2004

Food Fight!

Michele points out that the U.S. Department of Agriculture is re-thinking the whole Food Pyramid idea, and possibly contemplating some new geometric shape. Read the article, because it's hilarious: it says the Food Pyramid—first published in 1992—can't be working, because Americans are overweight. There are two fallacies at work there: 1) that people are eating the wrong foods in order to get overweight (perhaps they are eating too much in exactly the right proportions), and 2) that if people only understood what they ought to be eating, they wouldn't choose an unhealthy diet at all. The bureaucratic mindset is on parade here: no one, fully knowing the choices out there, would ever deliberately do anything wrong. This can, of course, apply to genocide as much as to gluttony—and to everything in between.

Michele has her own wickedly hilarious suggestion for a fresh approach to government guidelines, which you must go look at now.

Done? Did you read the comment by Crank? "How about a Food Sphinx, which dispenses only impenetrable riddles and offers no useful guidance?" Nice. He gets a link for that; I laughed out loud. And that certainly seems to be the government's policy; it holds across shapes.

After visiting Michele's place I started wondering whether I could remember the guidelines from when I was a kid, the ones that hung on at least one cafeteria hall in the 60s and 70s: The Basic Four Food Groups.

Meat and Dairy, Grains and Legumes, Fruits and Vegetables . . . what else? Hm. I started Googling to see if I could remember those guidelines, which I believe were developed in the 50s. Interestingly, there is no consensus now on what they were. Now, I might be able to find them somewhere, such as in my pre-1992 edition of The Joy of Cooking, but that would be cheating.

A popular pediatrician gives us this version of the Basic Four: meat, dairy, vegetables, fruits. That sounded wrong to me: I could have sworn that all produce was lumped into one category, which might be why the green beans in the ground beef casserole were all the fruits and veggies we supposedly needed in a given day (thank goodness my mother was a fruit fanatic—and relatively enlightened—or I would have gotten scurvy by the time I was six).

Still Googling on the first page (because I'm far too lazy to go any deeper than that, thank you very much) I find this site, by one Aunt Lynnie—who's clearly just a citizen nutritionist, without the good Doctor's resources. She seems to have it right: meat, dairy, fruit and vegetables, cereals and grain. Her graphic shows what I vaguely recalled, that the meat group encompassed one other protein source. But it was eggs—meat and eggs. Dairy is its own category in the old scheme. That also made sense in those days, as there was tremendous concern about getting enough calcium into children. And I'm old-fashioned enough to think my child (when he/she arrives) should get a little cow's milk every day, despite Dr. Gordon the Food Prude's warnings about its dangers, and his assurance that tofu and broccoli contain ample calcium.

And I'm suddenly seized by nostalgia: I want to eat something "healthy" from the old days. Like macaroni and cheese. Or, you know—beef.

Posted by Attila at 01:28 AM | Comments (0)

July 13, 2004

Fun with Flash

I thought this was hilarious. (I don't imagine it's dialup-friendly, however.)

And it hits both Kerry and W. pretty hard—equally hard, I'd say.

Hat tip: a couple of sites, but most recently Kathy Kinsley.

Posted by Attila at 11:09 PM | Comments (1)

I'm Black and Blue for Christopher Hitchens

The Winds of Change has started a charming and amazing campaign to buy a few drinks (and maybe a smoke or two) for Christopher Hitchens. This is dead serious: there is a Paypal button for it—locked and loaded. At press time, the choice was going to be Johnny Walker Black, or possibly Johnny Walker Blue.

The idea is for the Blogosphere to thank him for enlivening debate and for being intellectually honest.

If you decide to give, keep in mind that in addition to a few devastating critiques of Michael Moore, he's also penned a couple of nasty articles about Ronald Reagan—and recently. Please have your eyes wide open on that account.

But I honestly can't think of anyone on the Left (other than a few people I actually know, of course) whom I'd rather buy a drink for.

Let's move on this.

Posted by Attila at 10:34 PM | Comments (0)

Cheap Shots R Us

I came across this charming uncredited work of art, and hope someone will point me to its rightful owner and creator.

Then I'll go to bed.


Posted by Attila at 03:39 AM | Comments (8)

July 12, 2004

Tomorrow, Tomorrow

Reuters discusses a story that Newsweek will be running in this coming week's issue: the possibility that a terrorist attack will utterly disrupt the upcoming election, and what needs to be done to make sure it can be re-scheduled as a last resort. The Reuters piece in its entirety:

U.S. counterterrorism officials are looking at an emergency proposal on the legal steps needed to postpone the November presidential election in case of an attack by al Qaeda, Newsweek reported on Sunday.

Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge warned last week that Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network may attack within the United States to try to disrupt the election.

The magazine cited unnamed sources who told it that the Department of Homeland Security asked the Justice Department last week to review what legal steps would be needed to delay the election if an attack occurred on the day before or the day of the election.

The department was asked to review a letter to Ridge from DeForest Soaries, who is the chairman of the new U.S. Election Assistance Commission, the magazine said.

The commission was created in 2002 to provide funds to the states to the replace punch card voting systems and provide other assistance in conducting federal elections.

In his letter, Soaries pointed out that while New York's Board of Elections suspended primary elections in New York on the day of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, "the federal government has no agency that has the statutory authority to cancel and reschedule a federal election."

Soaries wants Ridge to ask Congress to pass legislation giving the government such power, Newsweek reported in its latest issue that hits the newsstands on Monday.

Homeland Security Department spokesman Brian Rochrkasse told the magazine the agency is reviewing the matter "to determine what steps need to be taken to secure the election.

Via James.

Posted by Attila at 04:33 AM | Comments (0)

More on Moore

Finally! A thoughtful, respectful critique of Fahrenheit 911 by a Nader supporter. It's reassuring to note that some liberals haven't lost their minds, and that some Moore critics aren't overcome by their emotions.

I'd urge anyone who's been following the debate to read this.

Posted by Attila at 04:19 AM | Comments (1)

More From the Acerbic Texan

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer runs a story about an Israeli Arab who has changed his mind about the wall:

The images from the explosion kept running through Sammi Masrawa's mind as he lay in his hospital bed - a young female soldier with the back of her head missing, a heavily pregnant woman lying on the sidewalk, legs mangled legs, screaming "my baby, my baby.'

Sunday's blast at a Tel Aviv bus stop had changed his world view.

The 29-year-old Arab Israeli from Tel Aviv was the head of a local committee calling for coexistence between Israelis and the Palestinians.

Now he wants them kept apart.

"A month ago I went to protest the fence," he said, referring to the barrier Israel is building in the West Bank. "Now I believe it can only strengthen us."

To which Lair replies:

Kofi Annan should be caught, hog-tied, and dragged to this man's hospital bed to learn the truth. If he needs any organs, take 'em out of Secretary General Dumbass.
Posted by Attila at 04:12 AM | Comments (0)

Oooh! Time for a Quiz.

Cool personality test.

My results—

Wackiness: 62/100
Rationality: 50/100
Constructiveness: 60/100
Leadership: 62/100

You are a WECL—Wacky Emotional Constructive Leader. This makes you a people's advocate. You are passionate about your causes, with a good heart and good endeavors. Your personal fire is contagious, and others wish they could be as dedicated to their beliefs as you are.
Your dedication may cause you to miss the boat on life's more slight and trivial activities. You will feel no loss when skipping some inane mixer, but it can be frustrating to others to whom such things are important. While you find it difficult to see other points of view, it may be useful to act as if you do, and play along once in a while.
In any event, you have buckets of charisma and a natural skill for making people open up. Your greatest asset is an ability to make progress while keeping the peace.

Of course, I'm right on the cusp in terms of Rationality, there.

And then there was this, which sounded like a good description of my dark side—

You are an SEDL—Sober Emotional Destructive Leader. This makes you a dictator. You prefer to control situations, and lack of control makes you physically sick. You feel have responsibility for everyone's welfare, and that you will be blamed when things go wrong. Things do go wrong, and you take it harder than you should. You rely on the validation and support of others, but you have a secret distrust for people and distaste for their habits and weaknesses that make you keep your distance from them. This makes you very difficult to be with romantically. Still, a level-headed peacemaker can keep you balanced. Despite your fierce temper and general hot-bloodedness, you have a soft spot for animals and a surprising passion for the arts. Sometimes you would almost rather live by your wits in the wilderness somewhere, if you could bring your books and your sketchbook. You also have a strange, undeniable sexiness to you. You may go insane.

And if it is, that might explain why I married a level-headed peacemaker.

Via the Queen of All Evil.

No Moore. Really. I Think.

Dean Esmay discusses the Michael Moore theory that displaying an American flag is intended to stifle public debate.


Posted by Attila at 01:20 AM | Comments (0)

July 09, 2004

Comes a Time in Every Man's Life . . .

Dean Esmay has had it with a certain type of leftist or "liberal" who is so enamored of Michael Moore that he can say or do little wrong (or it's "well, yes, he lies. But there have been Repuplicans who've lied as well, so it's okay").

Take me off your blogroll, he writes. Remove me from your favorites list. Forget I exist.

There is something to be said for that.

Posted by Attila at 02:21 AM | Comments (0)

July 06, 2004

More on Wassef Ali Hassoun

Just when you thought this story couldn't smell any more than it does . . .

BAGHDAD A U.S. marine held by an Iraqi militant group is alive and has been released, the marine's brother said Tuesday. . The group, Islamic Response, issued a statement on Monday saying that it had taken Corporal Wassef Ali Hassoun, the marine it had earlier threatened with beheading, to a "place of safety" after he promised to abandon the American military.

On Tuesday, Corporal Hassoun's older brother, Sami Hassoun, said, "We received a sign that he is alive and he is released and everything is O.K."

"The sign is something that came directly from him, there is something that nobody else could possibly know," Sami Hassoun said in a telephone interview from Tripoli, Lebanon. "It's a certain clue. He is alive, and he is released."

What makes the brother so certain?—surely any information the terrorists have could have been extracted by subterfuge or torture. The longer this situation goes on, the more I begin to think Spoons may be right about it: the whole thing could be an elaborate deception to cover up an act of desertion. I don't want to think that, but there's something very weird going on.

Perhaps Hassoun was spared because he was a Muslim. If so, the terrorists did the smart thing. Which doesn't happen often, but on occasion they do act in their own best interest. (I want to say, in my best Charleton Heston voice, "darn the luck!" I hate it when my enemies wise up.)

Even Rusty Shackleford, who had been insisting that the Hassoun had to be dead—and made a convincing case—is wavering. It's actually possible, though, that Rusty's original idea was right, and only the timing was different than he supposed. Rusty's thought was that Islamic Response had captured Hassoun, killed him, and then realized what a public relations disaster that would be in the Muslim world. They buried the body, and announced that Hassoun had been moved "to a safe place." I wonder whether the scumbags kidnapped him and then figured out that it wouldn't be bright to decapitate a Muslim.

Of course, now one Muslim family knows what it feels like to go through the uncertainty of having their child kidnapped by extremists. I wonder if this will create more sympathy for Western values among the often too-silent "moderates." It's definitely a Western-values family to begin with, of course: otherwise Hassoun wouldn't have joined the Corps in the first place.

One supposes that more will be revealed.

Posted by Attila at 11:49 PM | Comments (0)

Going . . . Something

Christophe rhapsodizes about the United States Postal Service.

Posted by Attila at 11:29 PM | Comments (1)

Goldstein Again

Oh, man. Now we have haiku in honor of Kerry's pick of Edwards as running mate:

For John Edwards

"I think your hair is
perfect! We are so going
to nail the chick vote."

I don't think it gets better than this.

Posted by Attila at 09:05 PM | Comments (0)

Playing it Safe

I still think Biden or Gephardt would have been a better choice, but this does make sense. Certainly it could help a little in the South. The two big, obvious downsides: 1) Edwards' background as a trial lawyer, and 2) his inexperience, alongside the fact that his experience is also as a Senator. We now have two senators going up against a successful Commander in Chief whose VP is actually a participant in the government (rather than the classic type who sits around waiting for the President to die). They will have an uphill slog.

And when all's said and done, this election is still about Bush: pick him, or pick someone else.


Posted by Attila at 04:14 PM | Comments (0)


. . . presents us with another juicy exchange, this time on the implications of Google's latest venture and the extra storage space Yahoo is suddenly coughing up for its customers.

Thomas Hazlett, writing in the Financial Times, discusses the cutthroat competition in the top tier of software companies:

The massive antitrust case launched against Microsoft on May 18 1998 ended last week with a whimper. A federal appeals court has endorsed a settlement reached between the software company and the US Department of Justice. Six years of legal dispute, including a government victory on some important charges, have ended. Microsoft, yet in one piece, continues to dominate market share with Internet Explorer (having vanquished its browser rival, Netscape), with its Windows PC operating system (even as Linux continues to generate buzz and Apple refuses to die) and with its now standard office software programs Word (word processing), Excel (spread sheets) and Power Point (3 million MBAs can’t be wrong). Robert Bork, representing anti-Microsoft interests challenging the settlement in court, was disgusted with the result: “It appears on first reading that Microsoft has been cleared to continue its campaign of predation…”

So this is where Google comes in. Despite the fact that Microsoft and Yahoo are both moving aggressively to attack this space, Google’s search engine has performed brilliantly. Without the leverage of incumbency, the outsider has offered consumers value. Consumers have flocked to the innovative application; Wall Street now rushes to fund expansion. While in the cross-hairs of Microsoft’s “campaign of predation”, Google has developed a business plan that will soon be capitalised at something like $25 billion.

Make no mistake: Google strives to dominate. It aims to offer technology so compelling that rivals do not just lose market share, they lose the market. The incentive to seize and occupy a position of monopoly is what drove Microsoft frantically to develop highly functional browserware, distributing it to millions of Windows users free of charge so as to fend off the tempestuous Netscape. It is what fuelled Google’s invention of a superior search engine, and it is what now drives it to offer a spectacularly more generous e-mail service. This is the productive violence of creative destruction, and its awesome power is only faintly hinted at by inbox notices announcing memory windfalls of 12,400 per cent.

To which James replies:

But what about the little guy? Sure, he now gets 10 megs of free e-mail instead of the 2 he was getting a few weeks ago, but those who can afford to buy the premium service got bumped to 2 gigs from 100 megs, making the gap between rich and poor all the greater. The poor schmoes who think they were given an extra 98 megs of space are actually getting shafted out of 1.9 gigs of storage by the monopolistic corporate Man, intent on keeping the little man down.

The need for a Nader presidency has never been clearer.


I love Hazlett's "productive violence of creative destruction."

Posted by Attila at 01:57 AM | Comments (0)

July 05, 2004

What It Means to be "Progressive"

John of Arrggh! passes along this news about where our hard-earned private contributions went. I love the idea of a sewing center wherein women make goods that then get sold to pay for women's education in Iraq.

And, of course, our dollars also refurbished the television station that publicized the sewing center.

Posted by Attila at 01:59 PM | Comments (0)

Lebanese-American Marine

The Command Post has the latest. It's starting to look like this young man might be alive, though there were pictures of him being physically threatened, so the situation is uncertain.

What is particularly interesting is the fact that all these different groups are each releasing statements to the effect that they know where he is (he's been released, he's been moved to a safe place, etc.). They don't seem to be uniting to fight the Judean People's Front . . . for which I'm glad.

Posted by Attila at 01:18 PM | Comments (0)

We're Still Celebrating

. . . Independence Day until everyone goes back to work on the 6th, so I hope Michele leaves her July 4th colors—and fireworks—on display through the end of the day today.

Be sure to read her Independence Day post, which is about her journey in reestablishing an intense connection to the United States she was born in. She also discusses our obligations as Americans to those in other countries wherein people don't enjoy any of the freedoms we take for granted. Like Iraq used to be. Like Iran is now.

Our freedom is inextricably tied with the freedom of others. We must help all those who want to face the tyrants as our founding fathers did. In order to truly be secure in our freedom, we must make sure that others are also free. And we must, as a tribute to our forefathers who fought and died so we can live like this, help those who struggle to have what we have. If that means just showing support to anyone in any country that is willing to fight for basic human rights, we must do that.

I know you are probably wondering why I've chosen to take this American holiday and spend the time talking about Iran, but I see the two as sum parts of whole. Of course, I will do the usual celebrating today, with the requisite barbecue, fireworks, beer and baseball. But I will not take my freedom for granted and I will not forget that there are others who strive to have a day like this each year, a day to raise their glasses to liberty.

Read the whole thing. And support Iran in the days leading up to July 9th, as significant a day for the Iranian people now as it was for my mother 42 years ago.

Posted by Attila at 02:15 AM | Comments (0)

Hey, John—Where Are You Going with that Gun in Your Hand?

Kerry went to the Midwest, posing as a Heartland Kind of Guy. Hilarity ensued.


Here's a picture of Kerry looking away from his target, but keeping his finger on the trigger of the scattergun someone loaned him:


This second image is featured in the current Outside the Beltway caption contest; be sure to go over and spell out some of the 1,000 words that picture conveys to you.

Posted by Attila at 01:36 AM | Comments (0)

Holidays in Heck

Laurence Simon discusses the various ways the Fourth of July is celebrated around the world, by disparate peoples united only in their ambivalence about . . . us. Little old us. The tone is ironic, the format is alphabetical, and the Ukraine finally gets some damned recognition:

Ukranians still set their sights on America. The land of the free, the home of the brave, and the target zone for nuclear destruction. The remaining Soviet missiles they own rarely waver from their original settings, and for a few hundred thousand they'd be happy to sell one of them to you.

"You want fireworks?" offer the Ukranians. "We'll give you fireworks."

Pour a drink—a stiff one—and read the whole thing.

Posted by Attila at 01:06 AM | Comments (0)

Freedom of the Caressed

One Eric M. Johnson, a reservist writing in the New York Post, shows us the smoking gun on the Washington Post coverage in Iraq.

Via Dean Esmay.

Posted by Attila at 12:56 AM | Comments (0)

July 04, 2004

I Think It's Hot

. . . that my weather pixie girl has fireworks in the background. Particularly since the real-life Weather Pixie people are English. Right thoughful of them, remembering the Fourth's significance . . . especially considering the national trauma this day is interlinked with, from their POV.

Posted by Attila at 03:25 AM | Comments (0)


. . . is still deranged, and I mean that in a good way.

Now he's offering up his interview of Senator Robert Byrd's Grand Kleagle hood. Money quote—

me: "...Can I just tell you, though, that you are the whitest piece of fabric I've ever seen! Christ, you're white as a Kerry dinner party, y'know?"


me: " -- like the guest list at a Barry Manilow concert, is how white you are. I mean, you are one white hood, hood."

Posted by Attila at 02:30 AM | Comments (0)

Sleeping Giants

On September 11, 2001 al Qaeda awakened the United States of America, and life hasn't been the same for them since then.

Yesterday their brothers in Islamic extremism awakened the United State Marine Corps, and their own lives will likewise be taking a dramatic turn for the worse.

There are some entities you just don't want to fuck with.

Happy Fourth of July.

(Hat tip: Joe Gandelman, posting at Dean Esmay's site. Be sure to read Joe's roundup on the young Marine's beheading.)

UPDATE: Well, the supposed execution may or may not have happened after all: the group in question—Army of Ansar Al-Sunna— says the claim of a beheading wasn't true, and didn't come from their Official Terrorist Scum Website. The Lebanon government says "not so fast; the young man is definitely dead according to our sources."

(Via James.)

Stay tuned.

Posted by Attila at 01:28 AM | Comments (0)

July 03, 2004

Fear and Loathing in the Blogosphere

I dropped by Jeff's place today to find that he's been on some kind of bender over the last two days—marked by moments of lucidity and moments when the whatever-it-is he's on kicks into high gear. (I think I know what the "whatever" is, but I'm not telling.)

Happy trails. At least he can spell when he's got some whatever in his system, which is more than I can say about me vis a vis Ambien.

But this is what I like: a quotation on his sidebar (they appear to rotate)—

"Jeff Goldstein is simply the best at whatever it is he's doing." —
Mike Hendrix, Cold Fury

That pretty much sums it up.

Posted by Attila at 03:32 AM | Comments (0)

All You've Got to Do is Win

Anonymous (the author of Imperial Hubris) gives us this:

In order to make the decisions and allocate the resources needed to ensure U.S. security, Americans must understand the world as it is, not as we want — or worse yet, hope — it will be.

I have long experience analyzing and attacking Bin Laden and Islamists. I believe they are a growing threat to the United States — there is no greater threat — and that we are being defeated not because the evidence of the threat is unavailable but because we refuse to accept it at face value and without Americanizing the data. This must change, or our way of life will be unrecognizably altered.

To which James Joyner replies:

In war—and Anonymous and I agree that we’re in one—there are only two routes to victory: You can defeat the enemy’s hostile ability (by killing enough of his troops and/or destroying his resources) or overcome his hostile will (his desire to keep fighting). It seems to me that, given the asymmetric nature of the struggle, overcoming the enemy’s hostile ability is unachievable. Victory can come, therefore, only by overcoming his hostile will. And the only way that can happen is to wipe Wahhabism from the face of the earth.

After that, I'm perfectly fine with all getting together to sing Kum Ba Ya.

Grab that link to James' pad, and read the entire exchange.

Posted by Attila at 03:12 AM | Comments (2)

Share photos on twitter with Twitpic "Let the issues be the issue.

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My writing has appeared in
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My political philosophy is quite simple: I'm a classical liberal. In our Orwellian times, that makes me a conservative, though one of a decidedly libertarian bent.

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